Coronavirus

(COVID-19)

Due to the new    Lockdown   St. Andrew’s Church is once again CLOSED.

Details HERE

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SCOTTISH CHARITY NUMBER SC006235 THE CHARITY LEGAL NAME St Andrews Church of Scotland: Dumbarton

Church News

Saturday 6th March  British Science Week

Thought for the Day

Yesterday marked the start of British Science Week, an annual ten day celebration of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. It is particularly designed to inspire and encourage young people to find interest, challenge and fun in these areas of learning. Over the past year we have greatly appreciated the contribution of experts in all these areas – from developing tests, vaccines and medicines that address some of the complications of Covid-19 infection, through designing PPE and ventilators, to collecting data and designing modelling for things like the R-rate, and genome analysis. Science isn’t confined by national borders – many scientists working in the UK were born in other countries, scientists born here are working in countries round the globe. Rather than competing, most have been co-operating – a good model for the future, when addressing issues like climate change. Activity packs for young people (including pre-school) may be downloaded at  https://www.britishscienceweek.org/plan-your-activities/activity-packs/

Lord, sometimes science can be used to pollute and destroy, but we are grateful for all the positive benefits it has brought us, and can bring us. We are very appreciative of the work of scientists here and around the world for the way in which they have helped us through this pandemic, and in all the other areas of life where we usually take their work for granted. Help them all to work always for the greater good of everyone, and the needs of generations still to come

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                  Newcastle All Saints Church       

Newcastle All Saints Church

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Friday 5th March  World Day of Prayer

Thought for the Day

This year’s World Day of Prayer has been prepared by women from Vanuatu, an archipelago republic North East of Australia, formerly known as the New Hebrides. Its 82 islands (65 of which are inhabited) stretch over some 560 miles from North to South, and were volcanic in origin. Some of the volcanoes are still active, and earthquakes are quite frequent. It is also prone to cyclones. Prior to becoming independent in 1980 it was an Anglo-French condominium. The population is around 300,000. The economy is agriculture-based, and growth depends on tourism, construction and offshore financial services. There is a wide disparity in income/wealth, and rural areas are under-resourced. Access to safe drinking water and safe sanitation are big concerns

The World Day of Prayer reflection is based on the story of the two housebuilders: it presents a contrast between life choices based on a solid foundation that can stand up to the storms of life, and those that are not. The solid foundation here being the teaching or Jesus and our relationship with him. The challenge arising from this is to apply this approach at home and in our community, in the wider life of our country and across the whole planet.

Now’s the time to get together
as a worldwide family.
Let’s forget the ways we’re different
let us work in unity.

Lord, we commit the leaders and people of Vanuatu into your wise hands. We pray that in Vanuatu and everywhere, we can all live in unity, love and peace, respecting and celebrating ethnic and cultural diversity. We ask for protection for people living in places prone to cyclones, hurricanes and volcanoes, and the damage they cause. We bring you our concerns for those suffering from addictions

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                           Newcastle Holy Jesus Hospital             

Newcastle Holy Jesus Hospital

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Thursday 4th Match  World Book Day

Thought for the Day

“What are you reading at the moment?” a question asked in many Zoom chats over the last year. Most of us take reading for granted, and find pleasure and relaxation in it. UNESCO, the United Nations agency, established World Book Day to promote reading for pleasure, offering every child and young person the opportunity to have a book of their own for pleasure – reckoning that ability to read and enjoyment of reading are the biggest indicators of a child’s future success. Most schools use it as an opportunity to encourage reading. So to the repeat the question asked at the start (whatever stage of life you are at) “What are you reading at the moment?”

Lord, thank you for the effort teachers and family put into teaching us to read (sometimes with great challenge), and all the pleasure we have had from that over the years. Inspire those who are teaching a new generation to read, and helping those who missed out ‘first time round’

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                            Newcastle St John's Church      

Newcastle St John's Church

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Wednesday 3rd March  National Hearing Day

Thought for the Day

During the pandemic restrictions we have become accustomed to wearing face coverings when we go into shops etc. Sometimes we have ‘fun’ trying to recognise someone behind their face covering. We also find challenges trying to have a conversation when you have to stand 2m apart and talk from behind 3 layers of material. Many of us have found that our hearing isn’t as sharp as we like to think. A number have also found that in the past they have subconsciously been relying on lip-reading to assist their hearing – and not being able to see someone’s mouth makes it harder. They have also found a similar problem when using a platform like Zoom, concentrating on a postage-stamp size face that can shuffle around the screen. Maybe in coming months many more of us will have to sign up for hearing tests.

The World Health Organisation has designated 3 March as a worldwide hearing day to raise awareness of how to prevent deafness and hearing loss, and provide hearing care across the world. This year’s theme is ‘hearing care for all’. The key points are: i) for policy-makers – it is unacceptable for people to be living with hearing loss or ear disease; timely action is needed; there needs to be investment in cost-effective interventions; they need to act to integrate person-centred ear and hearing care with national plans for universal health coverage; ii) for the public – good hearing and communication are important at all stages of life; hearing loss can be avoided through preventative actions; people at risk should have their hearing checked regularly; those with hearing loss should seek care from their health provider. Further information is available on the NHS and WHO websites https://www.who.int/activities/celebrating--world--hearing--day

Lord, hearing loss can be very isolating – not following the conversation in a group, not being sure whether to laugh or look serious. Maybe at times it could even be dangerous. And there are so many things in life, from children talking to birdsong, that enrich the quality of our lives.  Thank you for the great advances made in addressing hearing loss. Inspire policy-makers to address the issues around better hearing care for everyone (particularly in middle and lower income countries). Inspire people who have hearing loss, or know people with hearing loss, to seek help to improve the quality of their lives

PS Don’t forget, Friday 2pm Zoom service for World Day of Prayer. Contact Ian Johnson or Susan Anderson if you would like the pass code

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                 Newcastle St Nicholas and Side     

Newcastle St Nicholas and Side

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Tuesday 2nd March  Eating disorders week 1-7 March

Thought for the Day

Most people eat to live, some appear to live to eat. Some don’t have enough food because of poverty or famine, and go hungry. Some don’t eat a balanced diet of ‘healthy’ food because of poverty-related issues. There are also a substantial number of people (maybe 1:50) who at some time in their lives experience eating disorders, linked to mental health issues concerning anxiety, self-image, self-worth etc. There are a number of recognised forms that eating disorders can take: Anorexia Nervosa, Avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), binge eating, Bulimia, Other specified feeding or eating disorder (OSFED). This isn’t about being greedy, or lacking will-power, or following a too-strict diet. It’s more about feelings than food. Maybe it’s something we share, maybe we suspect that someone we know might have it. There is help and support available, and often opening up to talk about the anxieties and issues is key to addressing the symptoms. Further information is available on the NHS website, and on the website of the charity organising Eating disorders week:  https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/edaw

Lord, many people suffer from one form or other of eating disorders – and often we don’t notice. Help us to recognise them – in ourselves, or in other people – and seek help/ tactfully encourage others to seek help. Help us to find ways of being able to share anxieties and concerns in a safe context, and ways to encourage people to ‘love themselves’ – to feel valued and affirmed

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                          Newcastle Bessie Surtees House             

Newcastle Bessie Surtees House

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Monday 1st March   St David’s Day

Marie Curie Daffodil Appeal starts

Thought for the Day

Today is St David’s Day, a focus for Welsh people everywhere to express their sense of identity and community. The emblem of Wales is the daffodil. It is also the emblem of the Marie Curie Cancer Charity, which provides care and support for those suffering from cancer, their families and carers. Today marks the beginning of their month long fund-raising campaign based around the daffodil emblem. Good wishes to everyone of Welsh heritage today, and thanks and good wishes to the staff and supporters of Marie Curie for the work you do. Our thoughts too with those who turn to them for help https://www.mariecurie.org.uk/

Lord, thank you for the staff and volunteers working for Marie Curie Cancer Care. The work they do is hard even in ‘normal’ times, but much harder during the pandemic-related restrictions. Bless them in all that they do. Be close too to those who draw upon their help – people with cancer, their families and carers

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                              Newcastle Castle Keep

Newcastle Castle Keep

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Saturday 27th February

Thought for the Day

Sort of typical isn’t it: Friday was lovely and sunny, Monday and Tuesday are supposed to be good weather, but at the weekend it’s cloudy and wet. How often does that happen? But life’s a bit like that. There are many things, like the weather, that we can’t control. We just have to get on with life and make the most of it. We can change our plans, find new things to do, put up with the disappointments – or sit around and complain. Even if we are ‘positive-thinkers’ there are probably plenty of people that we know who need some encouragement to work around the disappointments and bring some positivity back into life

Lord, we need rain and we need sun, and sometimes they come at times that don’t suit us. Help us not to sit around complaining about that, but get on with life in spite of it. Help us to help others who are struggling with things they can’t control, which stop them doing what they would like (whether that means weather, health, coronavirus-related restrictions or whatever), and who are feeling ‘down’. Help us too to remember those who either long for rain, or who are suffering from the after-effects of too much rain, with attendant flooding

 PS Next Friday (5  March) is the World Day of Prayer. There will not be a local service this year, but there will be a national online one on Zoom at 2pm. If you would like to be part of that, contact Ian Johnson or Susan Anderson, and they will send you the link

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Friday 26th February

Thought for the Day

I saw an interesting story in the news today about Russian diplomats returning home from North Korea with their families and luggage facing a problem getting over the border. North Korea has stopped all trains going in or out of the country as Coronavirus-prevention measures. So the diplomats travelled on a train and bus to near the border, and then for the last kilometre they sat in a rail trolley and the former third secretary at the embassy pushed the trolley along and over the border. Like a lot of stories involving humanity, you couldn’t make it up! It reflects an ages-old human experience: for every rule there are situations where exceptions have to be made. We find it here with the rules linked to lockdown: people from different households are not supposed to mix indoors, but exceptions are needed where children or adults need care; schools were closed, but for the good of all it was better that the children of key workers and vulnerable children could still go to school; and so on. Sometimes it is easy to identify where exceptions are needed, easy to agree to them, and there is little disagreement in the wider population. In other cases it is less easy to agree where exceptions should be made, and after decisions are made there are critical voices

Lord, it is much easier if rules are clear and unequivocal, but when such an approach is adopted, there are always cases where for reasons of health, safety, ‘fairness’, etc exceptions need to be made. That can cause all sorts of problems, and is a challenge facing everyone from lawmakers in Parliament, to families at home. Help us all to think carefully when we make rules, and when we make exceptions, to understand the implications of what we are doing
 

Picture of the Day

                                                                           Newcastle Walls Morden and Herber Towers             

Newcastle Walls Morden and Herber Towers

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Thursday 25th February

Thougt for the Day

There was a piece in the news today that a number of investment bank bosses would like to see an end to home working, and return to ‘traditional’ office life, once the pandemic restrictions are lifted. That may not affect very many readers of this ‘thought’, or their friends, or their families – and it may or may not be the right thing for that kind of business, how would we know? But it does raise a wider question about home working. Many people have had to do it over the past year. Some have welcomed the opportunity not to spend a large part of the day travelling to work (whether by car or public transport), with the attendant costs, and have enjoyed having more time with family or for themselves. Others have found it a fraught experience: trying to share the kitchen table, the computer/ tablet/ smart phone/ monthly allocation of broadband data with home-schooled children or partner; juggling work time with childcare time; and missing social interaction with colleagues (particularly in cases where they live alone). It worked for some but not for others. Businesses may have their own figures on how productive or otherwise home-working has been. Building back after the pandemic may well, and probably should, involve investigating the issue more fully: is it something to encourage, or not; if it is to be encouraged, what support do home-workers need; if it becomes a major way of working in the future, what are the implications for town and city centres, and what should be the response to that? We might not have the answers, but maybe we need to ask the questions of those who take the appropriate decisions – for the sake of our younger generations

Lord, ways of working, and the culture of work, have changed a lot over the years. Over the past year many have had to work from home. For some this has been an experience they have welcomed. For others it has been a nightmare. As we look forward to life after lockdown restrictions are eased, we pray for guidance for politicians and business leaders planning the way forward for the working environment – that in the future everyone may have the opportunity to find work fulfilling and rewarding, an opportunity to reach their potential, not a place for anxiety and stress

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                 Newcastle Walls King's Ditch 2        

Newcastle Walls King's Ditch

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Wednesday 24th February

Thought for the Day

The First Minister indicated in Parliament yesterday the framework for easing Covid-19 restrictions in Scotland – though at the moment there is still a lot of detail to be finalised. We heard about schools, care homes, outdoor meetings, shops – and maybe churches. At some point we should go from Enhanced Level 4 to Level 4, and then at the end of April hopefully go to Level 3. It is encouraging, but it would be nice to know more, to know for sure when some things can happen. We know why governments have to be cautious, having seen the spikes last summer and around Christmas, but living with uncertainty is hard. The beginning of April, let alone the end, is still quite a way ahead – and media waxing lyrical on the earlier re-opening in England don’t help. Feeling sorry for ourselves won’t help us either. We see the challenge ahead, we see others struggling, we have to help each other reach those goals – and not go mad when the restrictions are eased

Lord, it’s like climbing a hill, thinking you’re getting near the top, and when you reach the ridge you discover there’s another one ahead. Keeping going is hard for all of us. Help us to manage to do it, and help us to help each other when we begin to struggle

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                         Newcastle Walls Durham Tower 2                     

Newcastle Walls Durham Tower

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Tuesday 23rd February  Fairtrade Fortnight   fairtrade-logo  

Thought for the Day

Yesterday marked the start of Fairtrade Fortnight, the annual focus on trying to create Fairtrade arrangements around the world – focussing particularly on remuneration and working conditions for small-scale farmers and manufacturers. Over the past few months we have heard a lot in the news about ‘Free Trade’, and have probably learned a lot that we didn’t know before: the paperwork involved in transporting goods across international borders, the tariffs and quotas applied to goods exported/imported, subsidies applied to the production of certain foods or goods, measures designed to ‘protect’ home producers from foreign competition, the desire of larger companies to export goods or services to overseas markets, different ‘standards’ in different countries. We have seen and heard from businesses here and in Northern Ireland about the difficulties of operating a new way of working. For many small businesses in the Developing World these are challenges they face all the time. Most of us like a bargain – whether that means food, clothing or whatever (and at the minute many, who are struggling to cope financially, have to pursue the cheapest price available). But every ‘two for the price of one’ usually means a lower return for the original producer. With Cop-26 coming to Glasgow in November, we are reminded of the impact of Climate Change globally. But some communities around the world are having to contend with the effects all the time: unreliable rain, flooding, drought, pests and plant diseases. It affects the ability to produce certain crops – including coffee in Ethiopia and Central America (affecting us, as well as the farmers). Fairtrade Fortnight this year is particularly focussing on the impact of Climate Change on Fairtrade. Further information may be obtained at https://www.fairtrade.org.uk/

Lord, many of us don’t know much about the complexities of international trade, but we have been given an insight to it in recent months. We remember farmers and producers in the Developing World who are struggling with unfair trading conditions and with the effects of Climate Change. We pray that you will inspire world leaders to remember the needs of small farmers and producers, to strive for fair trading arrangements around the world, and to address the issues that could curb Climate Change. Help us to remember Fairtrade when we go shopping

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                Newcastle Walls by St Andrew's      

Newcastle  Walls by St. Andrew’s

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Monday 22nd February  Guide Thinking Day

Thought for the Day

Today is Guide Thinking Day. The last twelve months have been hard for all youth organisations and their leaders, who have worked hard to keep them going. Today is an opportunity to express our thanks and appreciation for the incredible amount of work that the leaders have been doing over the past year. There have been Zoom meetings, virtual sleepovers (which the leaders say are great, because when they say ‘right, time for bed now girls’, they simply press the Exit button, and getting them to sleep is the parent or guardian’s problem, not theirs. They have had to cope with church, Girlguiding and government regulations (with sometimes confusion created by different rules in England and Scotland)  and with West Dunbartonshire changing its Tier-ing. So thanks to all leaders in all our Guiding units and good wishes to all our guides, brownies and rainbows, as you have fun, and try to keep your promises.

Lord, thank you for all the members of the Guide, Brownie and Rainbow units. May they continue to have fun, enjoy what they are doing, and learn both skills and about life. Thank you too for the leaders and all the work they have been doing. May they feel fully supported in what they do. Help all members of the Guiding family to keep their promises

 

Picture of the Day

On Tuesday 29 May 1789 Burns and friends continued down the Great North Road from Morpeth to Newcastle – then still a walled town with defensive ditch. St Andrew’s Church probably dates from the 12th century, and is said to have been founded by King David I of Scotland (who held portions of Northern England at that time). The composer Charles Avison is buried there

                                                                             Newcastle St Andrew's Church

Newcastle St. Andrew’s Church

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Saturday 20th February  World Day of Social Justice

Thought for the Day

This ‘international day’ was established by the United Nations in 2008, following the unanimous adoption of the International Labour Organisation’s Declaration on Social Justice for a Fair Globalisation. This year’s theme is a ‘Call for Social Justice in the Digital Economy’. Over recent months the restrictions put in place to restrain the spread of Covid-19 has highlighted big disparities in access to online work and learning in this country: some families have sufficient computers or laptops for parents and children to be online at the same time, and have packages of unlimited, or huge monthly allowances, of broadband data; others are maybe all trying to work with one mobile phone, and a limited amount of data on that. That disparity is not just found in this country, but all round the world, and mirrors the disparity between high-income and low-income countries. It is likely that in the aftermath of the pandemic, in countries like ours, there will be a move to more home-working, but again that will be more practical for some than others, and is not really an option for many in lower-paid jobs – and we might ask whether some of the lower-paid jobs might disappear if fewer people are travelling to city centres to work, or going out for lunch from their city-centre office. Again that is a scenario that will play out world-wide, having a particular impact in low-income countries. There are no easy answers, but maybe something on which to reflect, and encourage politicians to consider among their plans for ‘building back’ after the pandemic

Lord, in the last 12 months many of us have made big strides in our use of technology, with meetings online, greater use of internet shopping and so on. But some people don’t have access to the internet, and feel isolated, others cannot afford to buy extra equipment or more expensive data packages, so are limited in their access to home-working or online learning. For some online working is not an option. It is an issue in this country, and all round the world. As we look forward to rebuilding the world after this pandemic, inspire political and business leaders to take account of the needs of low-income individuals and countries, and work for a more inclusive future

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                      Warkworth 6                   

Warkworth Castle 6

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Friday 19th February

Thought for the Day

There are reports in the media that at a virtual meeting of G7 leaders today richer countries will be urged to donate part of their vaccine orders to poorer countries where little or no vaccination has been done. Apart from the altruistic, inclusive concern that everyone on the planet should be protected from the virus as soon as possible, there are practical considerations for politicians too: if they want to open up world trade and travel, large areas of the world being unvaccinated limits that plan; and the longer large sections of the world population are unvaccinated, the greater the chance that new variants will appear, some of which may be resistant to vaccines. President Macron has proposed that 4-5% of current supplies should be donated, to start vaccinations as soon as possible. The Prime Minister has said that the majority of Britain’s surplus supply will be donated (400m doses have been ordered) but no timescale has been indicated. Around 130 countries around the world have yet to begin any kind of vaccination programme. Apart from obtaining government approval of the vaccines in these countries, there are a number of major hurdles to rolling out a programme: availability of people to do the vaccinations; suitable/hygienic healthcare facilities where they can be done; conflict zones; corrupt/authoritarian regimes; isolated peoples; suspicion of ‘Western’ medicine. Tanzania is a good example of the latter: the President declared last June that the country is Covid-free. Little testing has been done, and there is no plan for vaccinations. The Health Minister held a press conference recently promoting the benefits of vegetable smoothies in giving protection, and the President recommended steam inhalation and herbal medicines

Lord, the whole world population (almost 8 billion of us) is at risk of catching coronavirus. We are grateful for the work that has led to people here being vaccinated, but we are conscious that the situation is very different in most middle- and low-income countries. Inspire the international community to take bold steps to make vaccines available for people in these countries, and to get them safely and quickly to people who need them

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                       Warkworth Castle 5                

Warkworth Castle 5

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Thursday 18th February

Thought for the Day

There was an item in the news last week that younger church-going people were complaining that the church doesn’t say anything about Climate Change. I’m not sure how large a sample the journalist who composed that piece was interviewing, or where they were based, but awareness of Climate Change is very much something of which the wider church is aware. Groups like Christian Aid, Tearfund, SCIAF, Cafod etc refer to it regularly in the material they produce – sharing stories of individuals and communities around the world who are experiencing the effects of Climate Change on agriculture, water supplies etc as well as devastating drought, wildfires or flooding. They also provide challenges to people to adopt changes in their life-styles (use of transport, ‘Green Energy’, reduction in meat and dairy consumption etc), and provide means to lobby governments and businesses to change their policies and practices. There are things that individuals can do - from recycling and not dropping litter to making changes in lifestyle – that individually make only a very small impact on Climate Change, but cumulatively can make a big change. Major change needs to come from government and businesses (including agriculture), but costs a lot of money and impacts on livelihoods (which is probably why successive governments around the world have avoided the issue for a long time). Change is planned over the next 20-30 years, which will affect the daily lives of us all (like Climate Change!), and will affect church communities too, with things like heating. ‘Building back’ after the pandemic gives us a special opportunity to address ‘Climate Change’ issues. There are questions we could ask candidates in the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections about what they would do. How much do we care, about folk around the world today, or the young folk who are at school or nursery who will inherit what we leave behind? Are we ready for change, are we ready to lobby for change?

Lord, at its best this planet is stunningly beautiful and amazingly inter-connected. But we have spoiled and marred so much of it, with our rubbish, our pollution and our impact on the Climate. We are sorry. Help us to do our bit to care for this planet, the one we will leave to our grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Inspire governments to be bold in what they plan to do. Help us to remember those suffering the impacts of Climate Change now, and those working to help them cope

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                              Warkworth Castle 4             

Warkworth Castle 4

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Wednesday 17th February  Ash Wednesday

“Ash Wednesday” Service   HERE

 

Thought for the Day

The First Minister indicated yesterday that she will announce a ‘revised strategic framework’ for exiting lockdown next week – what the media usually call a roadmap or routemap. We’ll have to wait till then to see what the triggers will be, the order in which different sectors might re-open, and what restrictions will stay in place. However the indication that remaining school pupils will not return before 15 March and the advice that people should not plan to book Easter holidays suggests that the easing of restrictions will be slow, and not particularly soon. Looking at the weekly positive test rates per 100,000 of population – yesterday West Dunbartonshire was third highest in Scotland with 218.1 [source: BBC] – it is probably no surprise that restrictions will stay in place for longer. But it is hard! We are all struggling to cope, especially through the winter. All that we can do is try to help and support each other, and take all necessary steps to limit the virus’ spread

Lord, we do wish the infection rates would come down across the country – for all sorts of reasons. In our heads we can understand why restrictions have to stay in place, but in our hearts we want to be able to meet up with people and do the things we used to do. Help us to cope. Help us to help other people to cope

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                  Warkworth 3

Warkworth 3

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Tuesday 16th February

Thought for the Day

Today is Shrove Tuesday. In some parts of the world there are usually large ‘Mardi Gras’ carnivals on this day – but presumably they are cancelled this year, and at most there will be an online event. Often in Britain it is referred to as ‘Pancake Day’ – with pancakes served as main course or pudding, using either the sweet batter that makes ‘Scotch/Scots pancakes/ dropped scones’ or the unsweetened batter that produces crepes and offers the opportunity for pancake-tossing (and a few disasters). The original idea was that on the day before Lent begins people would prepare for the Lenten fast by using up all their eggs and dairy products in the pancake batter, and have a final ‘fling’ of enjoying themselves before Lenten restrictions started. People were supposed to seek forgiveness for their sins before Lent started, being ‘shriven’, from which ‘Shrove’ comes. Traditionally things like ‘confession’ and fasting have not been part of the life of the Reformed church in Scotland, and they are probably not part of the life of the majority of Scots/ Britons/ Western Europeans who have at most an arm’s-length relationship with the Christian faith. That said, whatever our background or views on religion, we all have regrets over things we did or didn’t do, did or didn’t say. Maybe life during the Covid-19 pandemic has added more, or made some seem more prominent. If so, maybe today is as good a day as any to acknowledge them, and if possible do something about them – make an apology, arrange to see someone when lockdown ends or whatever. And in the meantime, enjoy the pancakes

Lord, we all carry around regrets. Some can loom quite large. Help us to acknowledge them, and where possible do something to put them right. We acknowledge that there are many times we don’t live by your values and to your standard. We are sorry, and ask for your forgiveness and help to try harder. Help us too to be ready to forgive others, and not hold grudges.

 

Other News

Because of the restrictions in place to prevent the spread of Covid, we are having to rely on Zoom meetings. I know that doesn’t suit everyone, but it’s the best that we can do in the circumstances. If you would like to join either of the Lent Study groups, or the Lent Lunch group, let me know, and I can include you in the link that is sent out (usually a couple of days before the meeting).
 
We also have Coffee and Chat on Zoom from 11.15 to about 12.15 on a Sunday – again if you would like included in the invitation (you can come some weeks and not others, if you choose) let me know and I’ll include you.
 Dumbarton Linkage plans for Lent 2021

Lent Studies
On Zoom. Thursdays 25 February – 25 March 10.30-11.30am
Thursdays 25 February – 25 March 7.30-8.30pm
Theme: getting to know each other

25 Feb           Human bingo
  4 Mar            Desert island hymns
11                   Sharing our stories
18                   Understanding different generations
25                   What do I call you?

Lent Lunches
On Zoom. Thursdays 25 February – 30 March. 12noon-12.45pm
Bring along your lunch and chat to others online. Short reflection (from Christian Aid?) at the end

Facebook
Building on the Mary, Joseph and the Donkey approach in Advent, Marie Claire is planning to make some decorated stones with symbols associated with the Easter story, and hide them around Dumbarton. Pictures will appear on Facebook, people will be encouraged to look for them and make their own stones to add to the collection. Copies will be shared with schools. Further details will be given in the ‘notices’ in a Sunday service, and on the Facebook pages

Marie Claire and Maureen are starting a Craft and Chat group on a Monday from 2-3pm from Monday 22 February – a chance for those interested in craft work to share with others what they are doing, seek advice, maybe learn something, or just chat over a cup of tea/coffee. If you would like to know more or register to be included in the invitation, contact them on  MCDungavell@churchofscotland.org.uk  or MBurke@churchofscotland.org.uk  or contact me.

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                          Warkworth 2             

Warkworth 2

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Monday 15th February

Thought for the Day

Yesterday was St Valentine’s Day and media and marketing departments gave their full attention to promoting romantic themes. But alongside those celebrating their relationships, we also need to remember those for whom a day like St Valentine’s Day makes them feel uncomfortable: those who have lost their ‘significant other’, those where a relationship has broken down perhaps acrimoniously, those who have never found that ‘other person’, those who are in an abusive relationship, those who are physically separated from their ‘other person’ because of work, pandemic restrictions etc. As we celebrate with those in loving, supportive relationships, so we also express our support and care for those who don’t/ no longer have a ‘significant other’, or who feel trapped in a difficult relationship

Lord, where we have a special relationship with someone, we give thanks. We know that there are many people who are not in that position – some are not particularly concerned by it, but others live with sadness and difficult memories. Some people are in a special relationship with someone, but it is not happy and loving. Relationships in general are not easy, and those ‘special relationships’ require patience, commitment and the kind of self-giving love that you show us. Be with all in ‘special relationships’, all feeling the loss of a relationship that has come to an end, and those living in difficult relationships. Help us to know when and how to support others, without interfering and making things worse.

 

Picture of the Day

On 28 May 1787 Burns and friends set off from Alnwick for Morpeth. Instead of taking the direct route via the Great North Road, they diverted to see the ruined Warkworth Castle (a former stronghold of the Percy Earls of Northumberland) and Hermitage

                                                                       Warkworth Castle 1                    

Warkworth Castle 1

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Saturday 13th February

Thought for the Day

Figures issued by the Scottish Government suggest that all, or almost all, adult care home residents have been vaccinated, as have over 90% of care home staff. That is a tremendous achievement given all the challenges involved. The care sector had a very tough time last year – struggling to keep everyone safe, while not being able to access sufficient equipment, concerns about discharges from hospital, and coping with longer-term issues such as under-funding, staff shortages, low pay and care staff working for more than one care provider. It seems that some handled the situation better than others, and sadly many receiving care died prematurely because of Covid, despite their carers best endeavours to protect them. One of the steps taken to contain the spread was restricting or preventing families and friends meeting care home residents face-to-face. It may have been necessary for the good of the community of residents and staff, but it created considerable distress for families, particularly where their relative was suffering cognitive impairment/ dementia that was getting worse. Some lost a relative feeling that they couldn’t say ‘goodbye’ properly, others feel that they are now dealing with someone who has much less idea who they are. Hopefully things may improve after the vaccine roll-out, but let’s remember those who are receiving care at home or in a care home, their carers, their families andiends, those who manage care homes or care providers, and those who make public policy

Lord, we are grateful that when we reach a stage in life where we cannot fully look after ourselves, nor can we cope with some help from family, friends or neighbours, there is a public social care system to support us. We remember all who need that support, and their families and close friends. We remember too the carers, who so often manage a cheery smile when their work is challenging. Support them all. Also inspire and guide those running care homes and care providers, and those making public policy

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                     Alnwick 6  

Alnwick 6

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Friday 12th February

Thought for the Day

News headlines today say that the economy contracted by almost 10% last year. For most people that is a statistic that doesn’t mean a lot. But people can relate to businesses they knew closing: shops, pubs, cafes and more; people they know being made redundant, or not being offered hours of work under their ‘zero-hours’ contract, others feeling that their job (whether as an employee or their own business) is on a ‘shoogly nail’. The government’s furlough scheme and business support scheme have contained the numbers made redundant, but it is anticipated that when they come to an end there will be more business failures, and more redundancies. Hopefully government plans to provide new stimulus to the economy after the pandemic will lead to growth and new jobs, but at the minute there are a lot of stressed and worried people up and down the country, concerned about being able to pay bills, and the blow to self-confidence that can come with unemployment. Let’s remember them all, and encourage those in government to realise what people are going through, and respond accordingly

Lord, behind every statistic are human lives. Many are affected at the moment by the downturn in the economy caused by the pandemic: jobs lost, the worry about whether they could be made redundant soon, or the business fail. May they be assured of your care and concern for them. Inspire those in government to respond appropriately. Help us to remember them, and give what help and support we can

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                Alnwick 5       

Alnwick 5

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Thursday 11th February

Thought for the Day

The sun is shining in Dumbarton, the sky is blue and the snow (such as we have) looks picturesque. The situation in other parts of the country (eg Aberdeenshire and the Borders) is rather different, where they have had heavy snow and very low temperatures. Key workers, including the staff driving the gritters and repairing fallen telephone or electricity lines, have been out and about keeping things going. Staff have travelled into work in shops and hospitals, and (even though there may have been a dip in attendances) the vaccination programme has continued. We appreciate all the work they do, and the discomfort they accept to do it, for our good

Lord, we remember all whose lives are affected by the current very cold and snowy weather. We appreciated all the key workers who are out and about in it, keeping communities gong. Keep them safe

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                             Alnwick 4                

Alnwick 4

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Wednesday 10th February

Thought for the Day

There have been headlines yesterday and today about regulations coming in requiring travellers from abroad to quarantine when they arrive in this country. For many of us travel to or from ‘abroad’ is not on our radar at the moment – if we could just go to Helensburgh, or Glasgow or Braehead… But there are also many people who have close family who live abroad (Europe, Australia, South Asia, North America etc) who have not been able to see them for nearly a year, and who may have to wait a lot longer before they can do so. For some it has meant not just missing family ’get-togethers’, but also sharing in special family events like births, marriages etc, or being able to offer help and support when it is needed. Let’s remember them, and the challenges they face, and assure them that they are in our thoughts

Lord, we are an inter-connected world. Many people have close family who live and work abroad. Travel is not permitted. It causes stress, and people miss seeing each other. It is particularly stressful when there is a special family event, and they cannot be together. Be with all in that position. Help us to know how to offer support

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                           Alnwick 3           

Alnwick 3

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Tuesday 9th February  Safer Internet Day

Thought for the Day

Especially during this pandemic, millions of us have relied heavily on social media and the internet to keep in touch, to shop, to keep going. However, in recent weeks we’ve seen concern about the use of social media in trying to invalidate the result of the American elections and trying to undermine the case for vaccinations against Covid-19 (and in some cases the very existence of the virus). We have also been aware for quite a long time that there are people trying to groom children and vulnerable adults on social media, there is bullying on social media, and there are websites set up to promote ‘fake news’ or to encourage radicalisation. Today is the 18th international Safer Internet Day which is designed to engage with children, young people, teachers and carers in ensuring that there is an internet that young people can trust, and feel safe using. More information can be found at https://www.saferinternetday.org/

Lord, the internet (including social media platforms) is a very valuable part of life. But, like so much else about life, it can be used to create harm rather than good. Support all who are working to keep it safe, to ensure that it shares truth and honesty rather than falsehood or hatred, and that users (especially young people and vulnerable people) are kept safe

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                              Alnwick 2          

Alnwick 2

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Monday 8th February    International Epilepsy day

Thought for the Day

The second Monday in February is International Epilepsy Day, which is marked in 130 countries to acknowledge and highlight the problems faced by people living with it, their families and carers. According to the WHO over 50m people worldwide are living with epilepsy. What is it? A sudden intense burst of electrical activity in the brain causes regular brain messages to become mixed up, and the person takes a ‘seizure’. The impact on behaviour depends on where in the brain this happens. There are different types of epilepsy: some start at an early age, others later in life; some are associated with known damage to the brain, but in the majority of cases there is no known cause; in some cases there are recurrent seizures, in others they can be isolated incidents. In most cases the condition is controlled by medication. More information is available at https://internationalepilepsyday.org/ or on the websites of the NHS or UK epilepsy charities

Lord, there are probably people that we know who have, or have had, epilepsy. Most of us don’t appreciate what the impact can be on someone’s life, or the lives of their family and carers. We know too that in the past there has been stigma associated with the condition – and many of us would be unsure what to do if we encountered someone having a seizure. Be with those living with the condition, and assure them that they are not alone, they have support, and there is no stigma attached to it. Help us to be more aware of it, and responsive to it

 

Picture of the Day

Sunday 27 May 1787 Robert Burns and friends travelled by horse from Coldstream to Alnwick and stayed there, describing the castle as ‘furnished in a most princely manner’

                                                                           Alnwick 1               

Alnwick 1

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Saturday 6th February

Thought for the Day

On Wednesday an independent report commissioned by the Scottish Government on the future of Social Care was published. Will it be turned into law, will only part of it be turned into law, what do people involved with Social Care think of its recommendations? Over the past year the role of the Social Care sector has been highlighted more than for a long time – maybe more than ever before – and some of the issues it faces including remuneration for staff. Most of us don’t know how either the Health Service or Care Service operate, though more of us are ‘users’ of the Health Service, so from an early age we are familiar with GP surgeries and hospitals. Becoming a ‘user’ of the Care Service tends only to happen when there is a specific need: some may need care from an early age, but for others it is only when Mum or Auntie can’t cope on her own that we have our first encounter with the system. Whether we are talking about care at home or care in a facility with support (sheltered accommodation/ care home) the system needs more support and co-ordination – and recognition of the valuable work that staff do. The report is 109 pages long (!) but if you want to read it, it can be found at https://www.gov.scot/publications/independent-review-adult-social-care-scotland/

Lord, help us to appreciate better the valuable work of those involved in the care sector. Inspire those in positions of decision-making to look carefully at the needs of the sector, and the people who rely upon it. Where change is needed encourage them to take action, and not defer decisions. Encourage all involved to treat it as a cross-party issue, and not get caught up in party politics

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                     Berwick 6 Ramparts                        

Berwick 6  Ramparts

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Friday 5th February

Thought for the Day

More rain, more sleet today – but hopefully the prospect of it drying up by Sunday. Oh to have some summer sunshine and heat! Summer sunshine and heat seem to be focussing the minds of politicians and commentators at the minute. As the vaccination programme rolls out there are increasing calls for easing of restrictions, and predictions of life being ‘back to normal’ by the summer (haven’t we heard that somewhere before?). We are all fed up with lockdown restrictions, we want children back in schools, and students at college or university, we want leisure and hospitality re-opened (for the good of owners/ staff and users), we want to be able to travel freely, we want to have folk back in our houses, to be able to give hugs etc. But are there other factors like variants of the virus, uncertainty over the length of time that vaccination provides immunity or prevents transmission, that may make governments cautious about lifting all restrictions (maybe especially come next Autumn/Winter)? We want good news, but we also want honesty and open debate

Lord, coping with lockdown on cold wet days is really hard. Help us to get through it, and support each other through it. Inspire those who make the decisions about public life, and those who seek to influence the opinions of others, to be careful when talking about hopes and challenges, things that are clear and things that are not clear

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                            Berwick 5 Barracks             

Berwick 5  Barracks

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Thursday 4th February   World Cancer Day

Thought for the Day

Cancer is a horrible disease. It can attack anyone, regardless of age, gender, lifestyle, ethnicity or whatever. Tremendous progress has been made in dealing with many forms of cancer (though in some cases the treatment can be quite hard), and research is ongoing in learning more about the various forms of the disease and identifying suitable treatments.

Today is a world-wide ‘day’ to acknowledge and think about cancer, research, treatment, care and public policy. (for further details see below) In Britain it is support by, among others, Cancer Research UK. Maybe today gives us another opportunity to remember people we know who have, or have had, cancer; to think of the support and care that they receive from family, friends, and those who work for organisations like the Beatson, hospices, Marie Curie and MacMillan; for those who raise funds for these charities; and those doing research or carrying out treatment

Lord, cancer is a horrible disease, that disrupts or destroys lives, and creates fear and anxiety. Thank you for those who are there to support and care for people living with it, for those who provide treatment, and those undertaking research. We remember too those in places where they do not have access to the healthcare available here

“World Cancer Day is an initiative of the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC), the largest and oldest international cancer organisation dedicated to taking the lead in convening, capacity building and advocacy initiatives that unite the cancer community to reduce the global cancer burden, promote greater equity, and integrate cancer control into the world health and development agenda.
 
We believe that access to life-saving cancer diagnosis, treatment and care should be equal for all – no matter where you live, what your income, your ethnicity or gender. 

We believe that governments must be accountable and national leadership on policies, legislations, investment and innovation is key to accelerated progress.

We believe that individuals, together can create change.
 
World Cancer Day was born on the 4 February 2000 at the World Summit Against Cancer for the New Millennium in Paris. The Paris Charter aims to promote research, prevent cancer, improve patient services, raise awareness and mobilise the global community to make progress against cancer, and includes the adoption of World Cancer Day.”

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                      Berwick 4 Custom House                     

Berwick 4  Custom House

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Wednesday 3rd February

Thought for the Day

It is an encouragement to us all that so many vaccines are providing effective test results, with the potential that there should be a substantial supply to roll-out around the world, and to be available to provide back-up in subsequent years should regular inoculation be necessary. The co-operation between countries and companies could be such a helpful model for addressing many of the world’s other major issues. But at times there are hints, or more than hints, of political and national point-scoring – our vaccine’s more effective than yours, our roll-out rate is faster than yours etc. Can’t we leave the politics etc out of it, and at a national and international level work together as a team around agreed objectives?

Lord, we greatly appreciate the contribution of all who are developing and rolling out the vaccines. Help them to work together effectively, and not compete with each other, for the good of everyone

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                Berwick 3 Town Hall                

Berwick 3  Town Hall

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Tuesday 2nd February  Children’s Mental Health Week

Thought for the Day

Yesterday marked the beginning of Children’s Mental Health Week. For many adults, especially of more senior years, talk of children’s mental health is a fairly new concept. No one talked about it when we were young. Yet how many lives might have been better if it had been? Mental health issues can range from bullying (who said, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.’?), to the impact of conflict in the home, pressure to excel at everything, lack of confidence, loneliness etc. They hurt children when they are young, and they can affect them all their lives. The pandemic, with its impact on schooling and on social mixing has had an impact on the mental health of everyone, including children; but some will be more affected by it than others. One of the first steps to responding to it is to recognise that it exists. Further information can be found on the website https://www.childrensmentalhealthweek.org.uk/

Lord, there is still something of a stigma attached to mental health issues, of admitting to struggling with stress, bullying, coping with conflict, or living up to other people’s expectations. It is hard for adults, it is hard for children, who are still learning about what you can and can’t say, and how you express your feelings. Help us to acknowledge our own challenges, and the challenges that other people are facing. Help us to be good listeners. Help us not to point the finger or dismiss other people’s concerns. Help us to help others through their hard times

 

Picture of the Day

Burns actually crossed the Border for the first time on 7 May, ‘just to see what it felt like’, going as far as Cornhill-on-Tweed. However on 27 May he travelled on horseback with two friends from Coldstream to Alnwick

                                                                         Berwick 2 Berwick Castle                  

Berwick 2  Berwick Castle

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Monday 1st February

Thought for the Day

There are stories in the news of people being arrested at anti-government/ ‘release Navalny’ protests in Russia, and of the arrest of government leaders and others in Myanmar (formerly Burma). They are not isolated incidents, but reflect a pattern found in many countries – and in some cases people are simply arrested and imprisoned without any charges or trial. Prosecutors in those countries will say that people broke laws, but others will dispute whether those laws are fair and just (let alone the legal process). There are a number of people in the Bible who faced imprisonment for political reasons or were treated unfairly by the legal system – names like Moses, Samson, Jeremiah, Daniel, John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter and Paul spring to mind.

Many of us are struggling to cope with lockdown restrictions. We can’t have people to visit, we can’t visit them. We can’t go for a trip to the seaside, or a shopping centre,or the hills. We can’t go out for a coffee or lunch. We are trying hard to cope, but it is very difficult. At least we can go outside, we have the freedom to move around in our house/flat, we don’t have people watching our every movement. How would we feel if we were in the position of a Moses or a Daniel, a Peter or a Paul? From our own experience of frustration and resentment against being in ‘lockdown’ maybe we can give some thought to those arrested and confined, with no freedoms and no privacy

Lord, we are struggling to cope with the restrictions of lockdown. We remember those who have been arrested for all sorts of political reasons, who face unfair trials, or no trials. We pray for freedom for them and the righting of wrongs

 

Picture of the Day

On 18 May 1787 Robert Burns and Robert Ainslie visited Berwick, which he described as an ‘idle town but rudely picturesque’. Lord Errol showed him round the walls, he dined with a merchant called Mr Clunzie, but did not stay over

                                                                            Berwick 1 Berwick Bridge           

Berwick 1  Berwick Bridge

 

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