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

Church News

Saturday 8th May   Maternal mental health awareness week (3-9 May)

Thought for the Day

Over the past year we have become more used to people talking about mental health – although that is still a long way from addressing the issue, and from eradicating completely the stigma that tends to go with it. Many of the issues have been around for a long time, though the restrictions of the last year have made the problem more acute for many. Mental health is a big issue for new mums: as many as one in five struggle with it, both before and after birth - in some there may be pre-existing issues; there is the physical impact of living through pregnancy and birth; there are hormonal fluctuations; feelings of inadequacy when confronted with the responsibility of looking after a new child (they don’t come with an operating manual, and every one is different!); feelings of loneliness if friends and family are at work, and you can no longer socialise as before (made worse during lockdown); some not having partner/family support (or having them about, but that’s another issue), living in poverty, or multiple deprivation. Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week endeavours to reassure new mums that they are not alone, and that help and support are available. It also tries to make the rest of us aware that this is a major issue, which affects a large number of families, and may affect the lives of children from the start. For more information visit NHS Inform which has links to various groups, or put ‘Maternal Mental Health Awareness Week 2021’ in your browser

Lord, babies are lovely, but they can also be challenging, especially for the parents. Many encounter anxiety and mental health issues both before and after birth. Help them to find support and assistance both with parenting and with their mental health. Inspire those in decision-making positions to ensure that new parents have all the support they need – especially when they are living with poverty and other deprivation. Help the rest of us to try to understand the challenges new parents in the 2020s  face, and to be supportive where we can

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                  Wester Ross Stac Polly from Tanera           

Wester Ross Stac Polly from Tanera

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Friday 7th May

Thought for the Day

Usually at this stage after an election there has been a flurry of overnight activity as results have been announced and commentators have dissected them in fine detail. But this year the count has only just begun. We will get some results today, and others over the weekend. It fits with the spirit of the last year – waiting. We waited for infection rates to come down, we waited for lockdown restrictions to be eased and to move into lower levels or tiers, we waited for the chance to go places (coffee shop, hairdresser or whatever), we waited for the chance to see people, we waited for our vaccinations. Some are still waiting for some of those things. Waiting isn’t easy. Patience has been sorely tried in many cases. For some people the wait was in vain – the person they hoped to see was no longer there to see them. As we look forward and think about all the issues that need to be addressed – some arising directly from the pandemic (impact on education, jobs, mental health etc), some in existence before it appeared (climate emergency, poverty, inequalities etc) – how ready are we as a community, country and world to wait patiently for something to happen, how much are we expecting action quickly, and how much are we prepared to push for something to happen?

Lord, your sense of time is different from ours. We find waiting hard. Help us to be patient when we need to be, but find that hard. It is especially hard to be patient when we are confronted with suffering, injustice or need: in such situations we want things done quickly to put them right. Though we don’t have magic wands to create a perfect world in an instant,  we don’t want to see things postponed for years. Inspire all those who are in decision-making positions to focus on addressing the injustices and inequalities in our society and world, and inspire us to do what we can to address them too

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                    Wester Ross Tanera Mor anchorage         

Wester Ross Tanera Mor anchorage

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Thursday 6th May

Thought for the Day

Election Day. We’ve been bombarded with stories about it for weeks (or is it months?), and now all is calm and quiet on the television and radio because broadcasters are restricted in what they can say on polling day. After 10pm tonight it will be back to bombardment about potential results, actual results etc. It’s easy to forget that in elections we are dealing with real people. Some are better than others at showing empathy and understanding with the electorate, but deep down all have feelings and emotions, and most enter politics because they care about their community and want to do something to improve it. MSPs (as that’s what we’re electing in Scotland) are expected to share their time between Edinburgh and their constituency, and to work at times which others would regard as family or leisure time. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges they have faced in recent years is the development of online, social media abuse. The old saying of ‘Sticks and stones…’ is not true – abuse and false allegations hurt. Whatever the outcome of the election, let’s remember and care for our politicians, whatever our personal political opinions

Lord, we may believe in democracy, but most of us are not willing to stand for public office. We give thanks for the willingness of some people to engage in politics, to represent us, and to engage in the process of government. Whatever we think of their policies and political positions, help us to remember that they are people like us, they have families, they have thoughts and feelings, and a right not to be abused

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                       Wester Ross Sunset over Summer Isles     

Wester Ross Sunset over Summer Isles

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Wednesday 5th May   Sun awareness week (3-9)

Thought for the Day

Amongst other things this is Sun awareness week. On Monday, with heavy rain and wind, we might flippantly have asked if we were supposed to be aware that somewhere in the far blue yonder beyond the cloud there is supposed to be a sun. It’s rather different today with sunshine flooding in. Maybe it’s because sunshine and heat are not  regular features of our weather that we are so keen to sun bathe as much as possible, and strive to get tans. Sunshine is good for us, giving Vitamin D, but it can also be dangerous, causing sunburn and potentially skin cancer. It is because of the risks associated with reckless sunbathing that the British Association of Dermatologists run an awareness campaign each summer, with a week specially designated at the beginning of May. The aim is to raise awareness of the dangers of sunburn and excessive tanning, to prevent skin cancer, and also to encourage people to know how to check themselves to spot early signs of it. For more information visit https://www.bad.org.uk/sun-awareness-campaign or https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/injuries/skin-injuries/sunburn

Lord, a sunny day like today lifts our spirits and we want to be out there enjoying the sunshine. But it can be dangerous if we don’t take the right precautions. Help us to be aware of the dangers of going out in the sun without protection, and of the need to check for signs that medical advice may be needed

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                        Wester Ross Summer Isles            

Wester Ross Road from Achiltibuie looking towards Summer Isles

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Tuesday 4th May   Deaf awareness week (3-9 May)

Thought for the Day

During the last year, with mask wearing and keeping a 2m distance from people, a number of folk have realised that they actually have hearing issues – up till then they weren’t aware how much they relied on being close to someone, and to some extent watching their lips, to have a conversation. Those are features all too familiar for the many who were aware that they were living with hearing loss or deafness. It is estimated that around 1 in 5 people in Britain have hearing loss or deafness. It can cause loneliness and isolation. They can’t easily follow conversations, TV or radio programmes, lectures/talks, hear the telephone or fire alarm. The UK Council on Deafness are using this year’s #DAW2021 to focus on ‘Coming through it together’. We probably all know someone with hearing loss. Maybe we have it ourselves. Are we sufficiently aware of it as an issue when we are talking with others? Are there things that we can do at work, at home, at play to enable people with hearing loss to feel more included? For more information visit https://www.nhsinform.scot/campaigns/deaf-awareness-week-2021 or https://www.deafcouncil.org.uk/deaf-awareness-week/

Lord, hearing is something that many of us take for granted: it is only when it begins to fade, or goes completely that we realise how important it is. Help us to be aware of the needs of people with hearing loss, remembering that it can affect young people as well as older ones. Help us to do what we can to enable people with hearing loss to feel more included and less isolated

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                    Wester Ross Looking N to Achiltibuie                              

Wester Ross moorland and peatbog looking North to Achiltibuie

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Monday 3rd May

Thought for the Day

There are various commemorations taking place today to mark the creation of two separate jurisdictions on the island of Ireland one hundred years ago today – effectively creating ‘Northern Ireland’ as a political entity separate from what became the Irish Free State, now the Republic of Ireland. Differences in identity among communities on the island of Ireland, and difficult relations between governments in London and those communities go back a very long way, and sadly over that time many lives have been lost, many people have acquired physical or mental scars, and communities have been torn apart. In recent years things have been better than they were, but Northern Ireland is still a long way from being at peace with itself. The past cannot be air-brushed out, but let’s hope and pray for wise leadership to help Northern Ireland to address its social and economic problems, as well as its problems of identity, coming to terms with its past and developing a common vision for the future

Lord, we know the problems that have been in Ireland and Northern Ireland, and the pain and anger they have created. We ask for your help in bringing healing to people and to communities there. Inspire its leaders to address the social and economic issues that it faces, and to create a common vision for the future, built on mutual respect, peace, justice and prosperity for all

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                        Wester Ross Head of Loch Broom           

Wester Ross Head of Loch Broom

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Saturday 1st May

Thought for the Day

Today sees the start of ‘National, local and community history month’ – no I hadn’t heard of it either! So after you washed your face in the dew, skipped round the maypole, marched for workers’ rights or whatever, you might like to reflect on how you could learn a bit more about the history of your area. Here are some bits about Dumbarton that you might like to explore:

         Dumbuck crannog

         Blackburn’s aircraft factory

         Carman Hill

         The glassworks

         St Mary’s College

         Denny’s ship tank

Sometimes older people miss having family or friends with whom to share stories of common experiences. Allowing them to open up and tell their stories (maybe involving ‘hard listening’ on our part) can be a real benefit to them, and can also be enlightening to us. How many fascinating stories have been lost because no one recorded them?

Lord, we all have a life-story to tell. Some may be more adventurous than others, but sharing our story, finding someone to listen to it with interest, can be very beneficial. Help us to be ready to listen to others, to encourage them to talk, and with their permission at times be ready to record things

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                       Mallaig 6        

Mallaig 6

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Friday 30th April

Thought for the Day

As we have been enjoying a major easing of restrictions in Scotland this week, following the success of the vaccine programme and weeks of tough restrictions, we see terrible scenes of the virus surging almost-out of control in India, Brazil struggling, and Turkey entering a new lockdown. We feel desperately for those affected – those with the virus, their families and friends, and the medical/nursing staff. – and also helpless to assist them. Such scenes remind us that we are not living in safe isolation here: while the virus is raging somewhere in the world, there is the risk of variants developing to which we may not be immune, and our hard-won freedom from restrictions could be lost if we are not careful, and if the world community does not act together to contain and suppress this virus

Lord, we remember the people in places like India, where the virus is surging and healthcare services cannot cope – the patients, their families and friends, the healthcare staff, the wider population worried about community transmission. Inspire the decision-makers to take the right decisions to contain the spread of the virus and provide for those who need medical care, help and support if they have to isolate or live under lockdown restrictions etc. Support healthcare staff and carers who are feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. Inspire the international community to work together and support each other in coping with the virus, particularly where there are surges of cases

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                      Mallaig 5               

Mallaig 5

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Thursday 29th April

Thought for the Day

What is going on in the world of politics and political parties? At Westminster we have a slew of allegations concerning  the Prime Minister and some of his colleagues. It isn’t that long since we had a very public split between the current First Minister of Scotland and her predecessor. Now the First Minister of Northern Ireland has announced her resignation after most of her party colleagues expressed lack of confidence in her leadership. There are differences between each case, and we only know part of the story in each case, so it isn’t appropriate to comment on them in public forum like this. But why have they all come around the same time? Is it pure coincidence? Are they connected to next week’s elections (at least in England and Scotland)? Is it part of the fall-out from over a year of Covid-restrictions and the trauma of Brexit? When we look at the way democracy is handled in places like China and Russia, when we think of the sacrifices people made to give everyone here a free, secret ballot, are we all showing enough interest in and care for our democratic process? What do we expect of it, and of our politicians? Are there things that we need to consider doing?

Lord, most of us have views on all sorts of things, and they will differ widely. We like to express our opinions what politicians should be doing but we don’t have the skills or character to be politicians ourselves. We believe that you want a world with peace and justice for all. Guide and support our politicians through all the hard decisions they have to take, and the very personal abuse they can also face. Help them to see your vision for your world, and strive towards that. Help us to know what we should do to work for that kind of world too

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                           Mallaig 4          

Mallaig 4

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Wednesday 28th April    World Immunisation Week

Thought for the Day

Many people who were around in the first half of the Twentieth Century could tell of friends or relatives who caught infectious diseases such as diphtheria, polio and tuberculosis, of long spells in hospital (often in isolation), and for some life-changing or even fatal consequences. Nowadays it is very unusual to hear of someone contracting one of those diseases in this country, because for over 60 years people have received vaccinations against them in childhood, a programme that has increased to encompass measles, mumps, rubella (‘German measles’) and some strains of meningitis. Many a parent (and doctor or nurse) has felt bad about taking a happy baby/toddler into the consulting room and then taking out one who is crying and feeling a bit rough for a couple of days thereafter. But the alternative is unthinkable. We have become used to the annual ‘flu vaccine’, and there was news recently of work on a vaccine against malaria.

At the moment the word ‘vaccine’ immediately makes us think of the Covid-19 vaccination programme, the tremendous effort put into developing vaccines and rolling them out in countries like Britain. We have also seen a slower approach in other countries, and  the resistance shown by some political leaders and sections of the population. There is a very small chance that something could go wrong, but the chance of catching a life-changing or fatal disease is much greater. While the focus is very much on Covid-19 vaccinations, the programmes for immunising the world against other infectious diseases needs to keep going – and sadly many are missing out on them. The World Health Organisation designates the last week of April as World Immunisation Week to remind us all that there are still many people around the world who have not had vaccinations against diseases long since largely eradicated here. And, as with Covid, until we are all vaccinated, the disease is still about and able to mutate. https://www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2021/04/24/default-calendar/world-immunization-week-2021

Lord, thank you for the people who have worked so hard on developing, manufacturing and administering vaccines around the world. Inspire those who are being slow to implement vaccination programmes, reassure those worried about taking part that the risks are low especially when compared with the risks of not being vaccinated. Encourage countries to work together to vaccinate the world, and not think just of themselves. Be with all who are living through the Covid crisis in places like India and Brazil where health systems are stretched almost to breaking point

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                          Mallaig 3            

Mallaig 3

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Tuesday 27th April   National Gardening Week (26 April -2 May)

Thought for the Day

Over the past year many people turned to their gardens in a completely new way, lavishing them with attention they hadn’t had in years. Work that was on the ‘to do’ list got done, colourful displays will brought on, seeds were planted and tended for plants and vegetables, cuttings were taken and lovingly cared for. Amid all the stress of the pandemic restrictions, the garden was a place that many people could go to, gardening was something positive and creative that they could do. The Royal Horticultural Society’s National Gardening Week this year is promoting the scientific evidence for links between gardening and well-being. Even on a cold wet day like today doing something in the garden – or even just taking in the colours of new Spring growth – is good for us. But let’s also remember those who don’t have gardens, those who are not physically able to tend gardens. As a country and community, beginning to develop our plans for ‘building back’, let’s remember the importance to our well-being of ‘green spaces’, and consider how we can include those without gardens, those not physically able to tend gardens, in enjoying the benefits

Lord, many cultures over many centuries have recognised the specialness of gardens as places to calm and cheer the soul. We have been reminded of it particularly over the past year. Help us to appreciate and give thanks for all gardens – whether our own, our neighbours’ or public ones. Help us all to ensure that the benefits of gardens and green spaces for our well-being are something for everyone to enjoy

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                      Mallaig 2                     

Mallaig 2

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Monday 26th April   Allergy awareness week (26-30)

Thought for the Day

The weather is dry, warm and sunny (well, it was), but not everyone can enjoy being out in it. For some, such weather comes with sneezes, runny noses and itchy eyes – hay fever. Pollen (which doesn’t just come from newly mown grass) is one of the triggers that can cause immune systems to overact and cause an allergy. Other triggers include dust, animal fur, certain types of foods (nuts, dairy products, seafood), insect bites/stings and certain medicines. In some cases there can be wheezing, rash and other symptoms. Usually anti-histamine and keeping away from the trigger is sufficient to keep it under control. In other cases, where there is anaphylactic reaction medical help may be needed. Is allergy more common than it used to be, or are we just more aware of it? This week is a reminder to us of the existence of allergies, of friends, family members and acquaintances who suffer from them, and maybe a reminder to us too to think ahead – if we meet in the garden, will they sneeze; as and when we can meet indoors, will the cat make them wheeze; and when we can eventually have people round for a meal, should we check if there is anything to avoid cooking as it might bring them out in a rash. Visit the NHS website for more information about allergy and anaphylaxis

Lord, having allergies can be annoying, living with someone with allergies can be challenging. Help us to be aware and sensitive to them. We give thanks for all the work that has been done in understanding the causes, and the medicines developed to treat their symptoms, particularly anaphylaxis

 

Picture of the Day

Our trip North and West takes us to Mallaig this week

                                                                           Mallaig 1           

Mallaig 1

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Saturday 24th April

Thought for the Day

Walking along the Quay this afternoon we were enjoying watching a family of 8 ducklings when a gull appeared and then there were 7. Nature red in tooth and claw, but you still feel sadness and anger that something weaker could not defend itself, and something with so much potential ahead of it had its life cut short. It’s an image that we can apply to human beings as well – where the weak are not necessarily just the young in years, and those with potential ahead of them could be of middling or older years. It’s easier to mourn a duckling than a seagull or magpie. It’s easier to feel sad or angry if the human life lost is an ‘innocent’ person. But every life is special, every life has potential. “Look at the birds of the air; they do not so or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?”

Lord, help us to appreciate and value life, whether it’s trees and plants, birds, fish or animals, or human beings. Help us to shield and stand up for the weak and vulnerable. Help us also to recognise that your love encompasses everyone, and you want us to work for a world where all are included, and everyone is respected for who they are

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                       Loch Ness Castle Urquhart               

Loch Ness Castle Urquhart (a long time ago)

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Friday 23rd April

Thought for the Day

Today would have been William Shakespeare’s birthday. Most of us probably studied at least one of his plays at school – and, if we are honest, probably didn’t really appreciate it/them much, as going round the class reading a line or two did absolutely nothing to bring the play to life. Yet many people, when they have seen a live production, or watched a version of it on the screen, have suddenly found the comedy, the tragedy, the connection with their own experience of life. Over the past year teaching has been disrupted (despite the best endeavours of teachers), and live performances have not been able to happen. Let’s hope that over the coming months teaching is able to go forward on a more even keel, and that live performances resume so that we can once again fully appreciate plays, concerts, operas, ballets etc in the setting for which they are intended

Lord, we express our thanks to all teachers for their work, particularly over the last year. We express our thanks too to all performers for their work in entertaining, inspiring and challenging us – and are conscious of the pressures many have been under, not able to engage in live performances. Inspire all who are involved in the re-opening of this area of life

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                      View to Lismore             

View to Lismore

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Thursday 22nd April   Earth Day

Thought for the Day

Earth Day was established just over 40 years ago as a focus to co-ordinate and mobilise those concerned for the future of the planet. Perhaps its main claim to fame this year is that President Biden has chosen it as the date for the virtual international summit on climate change. We hope to hear various governments making promises, and putting pressure on others that are slower to recognise and respond to the climate crisis. The real challenge will be turning pledges into reality, and encouraging/coercing billions of people to change their lifestyles (transport, heating, packaging etc), and be ready to pay more for some of those changes. Let’s hope the virtual summit goes beyond rhetoric and soundbites, and that governments represented start to take significant steps to address the climate crisis

Lord, especially on a sunny Spring morning we rejoice in the beauty and variety of our planet. But we know that it is under serious threat. It takes more than putting a sheet of paper in the recycling or switching off a light to address a crisis that threatens livelihoods, habitats and many species. Governments, businesses and whole populations need to accept changes to lifestyle, and additional costs. Those are not easy things to achieve. Encourage and support those who will have to promote such changes, and inspire the rest of us to recognise and embrace changes proposed

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                           McCaig's Folly          

McCaig's Folly

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Wednesday 21st April   HM The Queen’s birthday

Thought for the Day

The media have been remarking on this being the first birthday the Queen has had since being widowed earlier in the month. As with so many people we know who have been in a similar position, saying ‘Happy Birthday’ (or when the time comes, ‘Happy Christmas’) is not being sensitive to how they feel. Yet birthdays are occasions that are special and unique to each of us, part of who we are. Over the last year, many ‘special birthdays’ have not be celebrated in the way that people would have wished, and they feel a sense of regret. Some people have no one who marks their birthday, no one with whom to celebrate their birthday. Maybe one thing we can do to support people on their own, or separated from family and friends, is to mark their birthday and let them feel ‘special’

Lord, birthdays can bring out all sorts of different feelings in people, but they are part of who we are, and our birthday is special to us. Help us to be sensitive both marking other people’s birthdays, and how we mark them

 

Picture of the Day

Two scanned photos from 1947 when the royal family were in South Africa, ahead of the Queen’s 21st

                                                     Royal Family 1947                                                

Royal Family 1947

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Tuesday 20th April

Thought for the Day

What is a football club for? Is it a business offering entertainment to its customers, and a good return to its owners? Is it an expression of local community identity, bringing together people from a range of backgrounds around a shared interest and identity? Is it part of a country-wide/world-wide network promoting sporting skills and values, and fitness among the wider population, but particularly young people? When football makes the media headlines it is usually celebrating one team’s success in winning a match/competition, or that there has been trouble between rival groups of supporters. But the proposed creation of a European Super League has united supporters of traditional rivals, and drawn politicians, royalty and celebrities into the debate. At its heart is deciding what a football club is for. It begs the question too of what the role of money in this (and probably other sports) should be.

Lord, sport can make a big positive contribution to life. It can also have negative effects too. Especially in the aftermath of pandemic restrictions and the impact they have had on mental health, help us to take advantage of sport for our own well-being, and to promote its use for others. Help those overseeing all sports to keep in mind  the important role they play in creating community and well-being

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                       Kerrera & Mull from McCaig's Folly 2           

Kerrera & Mull from McCaig's Folly 2

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Monday 19th April   Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Awareness Week 19-25 April

Thought for the Day

Over 130,000 people in the UK have MS. Many of us will know someone who has it. It usually starts to develop years before it is diagnosed. MS causes a person’s immune system to attack the coating (myelin) that surrounds the brain and spinal cord, affecting the signals sent from the brain to nerves around the body. The result is different for each person, with symptoms appearing in diverse parts of the body including eyesight, movement, touch and thinking. There is currently no cure for it, but researchers are trying to understand better what causes MS, and see if a cure can be developed.  There are however treatments and specialists that can help. For more information visit  https://www.mssociety.org.uk/ or the NHS website

Lord, many of us know people who have MS, and we have seen the impact it has had on their lives, and the lives of their families. Help us to understand better the problems they face, and do what we can to support them both

 

Picture of the Day

This week’s photos are the beginning of a journey up the West Coast

                                                                        Kerrera & Mull from McCaig's Folly 1            

Kerrera & Mull from McCaig's Folly

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Saturday 17th April

Thought for the Day

Various parts of the media, thinking of the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral this afternoon, comment on the Queen having to sit alone, there being no singing at the funeral and all those attending having to wear facemasks and sit 2m apart. Sadly those are arrangements that many people have experienced over the last year – and in some cases the maximum number of mourners allowed at the funeral was as low as 6 or 8 (and in some local authority areas fewer). Many have commented on missing being able to hug/ shake hands, being able to gather with family and friends afterwards to share stories and memories. Some have however remarked that they found the smaller funeral less ‘intimidating’ than facing a large crowd, and they appreciated not having to face the ordeal of shaking hands with everyone. Over the year many who have not been able to attend a friend or neighbour’s funeral have stood silently at the kerb as the cortege went past. Some have done it as any cortege passed – whether they knew the deceased or not, expressing silently the wider community’s support for the mourners. It has been announced that the maximum number able to attend a funeral will soon go up to 50 – but in practice, while the 2m distancing rule is in place, many crematoria, parlours and places of worship will not be able to accommodate that number. As we seek to rebuild life as restrictions are eased, let’s not forget those who have been bereaved, and let’s see how as a community we can better support each other in the future

Lord, death is part of life, it is a mystery, and it hurts us deeply when someone we know and love passes from this life. Be with all who are grieving. Help us as individuals and as communities to offer them care and support

 

Picture of the Day

After Culloden, and help from many Highlanders including Flora MacDonald, Charles Edward Stuart escaped to France. The French government rather lost faith in him, and he settled in Italy. The rest of his life (he died in 1788) was largely broken relationships and alcoholism. He left no legitimate heir, and when his brother, Henry Cardinal Duke of York died in 1807 the legitimate direct line of the Stuarts died out. The last Stuarts were buried in St Peter’s Basilica. The photo shows the monument erected over their tomb

                                                                               St Peter's Monument to last Stuarts   

St Peter's Monument to last Stuarts

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Friday 16th April

Thought for the Day

Where are you planning to go today, with your new found freedom to travel – or are you already half-way to Inverness, Aberdeen or Stranraer? Maybe you don’t have any plans to travel. One of the things about ‘freedom’ is that you don’t ‘have’ to use it all the time, but can choose when and where suits you. It’s only when it is taken away that we realise what ‘freedom’ means. Our freedom was curtailed for the benefit of us all, to protect us from a deadly virus. But there are many people in the world whose freedom is curtailed for different (political) reasons, and shows no sign of being restored soon. As we celebrate the easing of lockdown and look forward to using our freedom when suits us best, let’s remember those around the world who can see no hope for the easing of their restrictions (travel, expression, worship or whatever)

Lord, we appreciate the easing of some restrictions today, and the prospect of more changes to come in the next few weeks and months. Help us to appreciate what ‘freedom’ means and to use it wisely. Help us to remember those whose freedom is restricted for other reasons, and who see no imminent improvement. May they soon find that their freedom is restored too

 

Pictures of the Day

Photos are of the Jacobite and Hanoverian lines at Culloden (275 years ago today, when the weather wasn’t like this). The Jacobite flag is the ‘White Cockade’

                                                                Culloden Black Cockade              Culloden White Cockade      

Black & White Cockades

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Thursday 15th April

Thought for the Day

The sun is shining, and the temperature is forecast to be higher than parts of South East England today (though maybe not at sun-bathing levels!) Good weather raises our mood, while cold and dampness tends to pull us down. There’s probably a good medical explanation (chemical or psychological), but why do we let the weather dictate our feelings? If we are feeling good today, let’s take time to reflect on the good things we have – and be ready to do the same even on cold wet days. If we’re feeling down, maybe still try to think what the positives in life are. And those who are feeling good – maybe we could keep an eye out for those feeling down, and try to get alongside them and let them know they aren’t forgotten or on their own

Lord, thank you for the sunshine and a Spring day that shows off the beauty of the world around us. Help us to see and appreciate the good things we have, and also be aware of people around us going through a tough time, and try to offer them our friendship and support

 

Picture of the Day

                                                Inverness Culloden old farmhouse                              


Rather grainy photo of the old farmhouse at Culloden near Inverness

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Wednesday 14th April

Thought for the Day

It was a very pleasant surprise yesterday to hear that travel restrictions in Scotland will be lifted on Friday. For some people it means being able to see family and friends that they haven’t seen for months; for others, who feel a sense of claustrophobia from ‘living local’, it means being able to go and see other bits of the country. Let’s hope that people continue to observe rules on face coverings and physical distancing, and remember either to put rubbish in the bin, or take it home to be disposed of properly

Lord, thank you for the prospect of soon being able to travel around Scotland, to see family or friends, or visit some of our amazing scenery. Help us to be careful about not passing on the virus, and to treat the countryside and seashore with respect

 

Pictures of the Day

Today’s photo is the monument at the head of Loch Shiel  where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard on 19 August 1745. Also a photo of the railway viaduct for the Harry Potter fans.

                                                       S306 Glenfinnan Monument       S307 Glenfinnan Viaduct

Glenfinnan Monument & Viaduct

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Tuesday 13th April   Parkinson’s Awareness Week (11-17)

Thought for the Day

Parkinson’s Disease is reckoned to affect about 145,000 people in Britain. It is a neurological condition: as it develops, cells in the brain stop working properly and are lost over time. Symptoms start to appear when the brain cannot produce enough of a chemical called dopamine to control movement properly. The three main symptoms are tremor (shaking), slowness of movement and rigidity (muscle stiffness). There isn’t currently a cure, though researchers are looking to see if they can find one. However there are different treatments, therapies and support available for those with the disease and their carers. Further information can be found on the NHS website and https://www.parkinsons.org.uk/

Lord, thank you for the work being done to research treatments and maybe an eventual cure for Parkinson’s Disease. We ask for your blessing on all those living with the Disease and their carers. Help us to be more aware of it, and how we can give support

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                 Killiecrankie Soldier's Leap     

Killiecrankie Soldier's Leap

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Monday 12th April

Thought for the Day

The Parliaments and Assemblies of the UK have been recalled today for members to pay tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh, who died on Friday. Although his lifestyle was very different from that of most people, there were many areas in which his life experience, and opinion, was not so different. His childhood was challenging, he lived through the dangers of the Second World War, relationships among his children and grandchildren were not ‘perfect’. He had experience of serving in the armed forces, he liked sport, he was a plain speaker, he didn’t like pomp and circumstance or fuss. He was brought up - like many of his generation - to live out life with a sense of service and duty to family, community and country, something which he sought to do to the end. As we remember and pay our respects to the late Duke, maybe we should also take time to remember and pay our respects to those surviving members of his generation, and those who are no longer with us

 

Picture of the Day

This is my only photo of the Duke – you can’t see his face as he is the required two steps behind the Queen

                                                                       St Andrews Royal visit              

St Andrews Royal visit

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Saturday 10th April

Thought for the Day

How are you coping with the slightly eased restrictions? Feeling relieved that you can do a bit more, or frustrated about the things you still can’t do? Hard as it is having to wait, there’s no benefit in wishing away the next 3 weeks (or longer, depending on what you want to do). Maybe try to find some way to make each day special – and keep an eye on those who are struggling, in case they need some help and support

Lord, things don’t happen at the pace we would like, and we find that hard to cope with. Equally we don’t want all the hardships of the last year to be in vain because we let our guard down too quickly. Help us to cope with waiting – even though we feel frustrated – and help us to be ready to offer support and assistance to others who are struggling

 

Picture of the Day

                                       10 April                

Away on holiday?

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Friday 9th April

Thought for the Day

How many of us have managed to book an appointment to have our hair cut, or maybe even have had it cut? 18 months ago, who would have imagined that getting one’s hair cut could be such a big thing in our lives? It is partly that many of us don’t have much else to think about or do, but it’s also about re-ordered priorities – at the moment getting a hair-cut is more important to many than a foreign holiday. What other changes have you noticed in your priorities?

Lord, our world has rather contracted over the last year, and small, local things loom larger in our thinking. But for many the past year has led to some re-thinking of what really matters to us. Guide us as we think through our priorities, to think less about ourselves and more about others

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                  9 April         

Hair cut?

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Thursday 8th April   Stress Awareness Month

Thought for the Day

Stress is a natural part of life, and within limits we need it to achieve our potential, and to save us getting bored. But it can easily get out of hand. The mental health foundation found that 74% of UK adults felt so stressed at some point over the last year that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. Too much stress can contribute both to mental health problems like depression and anxiety, and physical health problems affecting the heart, the immune system, sleeping patterns and the digestive system. If we fall into the category of high stress levels then we need to be able to identify what is causing that personal stress, and learn how to take steps to reduce it. For more information visit https://www.stress.org.uk/national-stress-awareness-month-2019/ or the NHS website

Lord, we don’t like to admit that we can’t cope. We feel that people will call us weak or a wimp. But when stress levels become too high it can have adverse effects on our physical and mental health, and spill over into affecting relationships and our performance at work etc. Help us to recognise when stress is getting out of hand, to be ready to talk about it with someone we can trust, and to look at ways of reducing it. Help us too to recognise when others are becoming over-stressed, and try to support them in recognising and addressing their issues

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                                8 April  

Stress Awareness

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Wednesday 7th April   World Health Day

Thought for the Day

This is a UN agreed day inspired by the World Health Organisation. This year it is pointing to the different impacts of Covid-19 around the world, and the way in which it has highlighted differences in health and access to health services. In many cases the differences reflect where people are born, raised, live, work and grow old. These disparities are preventable. The WHO is calling on world leaders to ensure that everyone has living and working conditions conducive to good health. It urges leaders to monitor health inequalities and ensure people can access quality health services when they need them. (Even if the altruistic sense that the current system is ‘unfair’ does not inspire them, perhaps they should reflect that until every country addresses an illness like Covid-19, there is a real risk that it could linger and mutate in countries without adequate health care, and create a new pandemic) For more information visit https://www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2021

Lord, we are very fortunate to live in a high-income country with a National Health Service accessible to all of us, offering high quality treatment and medicines. Most people in the world are not in that position. Some world leaders appear to be genuinely interested in promoting world-wide health improvements, while others sadly do not. Inspire them all to focus on the inequalities in the world, including in healthcare, and work to address them

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                            7 April              

World Health Day

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Tuesday 6th April  Bowel cancer awareness month

Thought For the Day

April is bowel cancer awareness month. Maybe not the topic you want to think about, or talk about, just after Easter (or at any time), but it is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, and the second most fatal. 42,000 people are diagnosed with it each year – mostly over-50s, but not all. It is treatable and curable if caught in time. “In Scotland, screening starts from age 50. You'll be invited to take part in screening every two years until you reach the age of 75. Each of the screening programmes in the UK use home tests, which look for hidden blood in poo. If you're registered with a GP and within the eligible screening age range, a test will be automatically posted to you, so you can complete it in the privacy of your own home. If you're aged 75 or over, you can ask for a bowel cancer screening test by calling the free bowel screening centre helpline on 0800 0121 833. Call the screening helpline on 0800 0121 833 or visit NHS Inform for more information about bowel screening in Scotland.” See also https://www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/support-us/bowel-cancer-awareness-month/

Lord, the workings of our insides may not be a topic we like to discuss, whether our own, or someone else’s. But insides that aren’t working properly cause a lot of discomfort and impact on general health. We are glad that there are screening arrangements for bowel cancer and other cancers, and that treatment is available. Help us all to overcome our inhibitions and participate

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                        6 April                    

Bowel Cancer Awareness Month

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Monday 5th April  National Pet Month

Thought for the Day

April is National Pet month. Many people already had pets before Covid-19 arrived last year – they are generally much loved members of the family (dare one say that sometimes the relationship with them is more meaningful than with some human relatives?). Sadly, pets do not receive love and care in all cases. Many individuals and families acquired new pets during lockdown, leading to the slogan, ‘a pet is for life, not just for lockdown’. National Pet Month celebrates and raises awareness of responsible pet ownership. For more information visit  https://www.nationalpetmonth.org.uk/ #NationalPetMonth

Lord, thank you for pets past and present, and all that they contribute to well-being. Help us all to take care of them responsibly

 

Picture of the Day

                                                                          5 April                    

National Pet Month

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Saturday 3rd April

Thought for the Day

Thoughts for the Day this Holy Week are prepared by ministers/pastors/church leaders from the Dumbarton Churches.

 

Easter Saturday Rev Sara Jayne Rettie (Dalreoch UF Church) 
 
After the death of Jesus on Good Friday there was little time to bury his body.  Joseph of Arimathea wrapped the body of Christ in a linen cloth and placed it in an unused tomb, hastily sealing the entrance.

“The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it.  Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes.  But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.”

Over the past twelve months many people have suffered the incredible heartache of not only losing a loved one, but of being unable to celebrate their life, and lay them to rest, as they might have wished to do.  Many of us, like the women with Jesus, could only watch from a distance, before returning home to be alone with our sorrow.

 This Easter, rather than considering today as that ‘nothing’ day, between Good Friday and Easter Sunday; let us remember the suffering of those who had followed Christ; let us remember those who mourn the passing of loved ones; let us remember the loneliness of Jesus himself, separated from the Father.  But let us also remember that though today is a day of sorrow and mourning tomorrow is a day of resurrection and hope!

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Friday 2nd April  Good Friday

Thought for the Day

It was nine o’clock in the morning when they crucified him. The notice of the accusation against him said: “The King of the Jews.” (Mark 15: 25-26). At noon the whole country was covered with darkness, which lasted for three hours. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why did you abandon me?” (Mark 15:33-34). With a loud cry Jesus died. (Mark 15:37-39)

                                                      DCT

These bible verses were taken from the readings used on Good Friday 2019 when we were able to undertake our Walk of Witness into the town centre. A year of living with Covid 19 has meant we are unable to gather for worship out of doors. Perhaps each of us, in our own homes, can make a spiritual pilgrimage on Friday noting the time and pausing to reflect at 9:00am, noon and 3:00pm.
This year reflecting on the suffering and death of Jesus will touch our hearts deeper due to the suffering and loss of the ongoing pandemic. We are united across the globe in our daily challenge to face the reality of Covid 19, but we can be equally united in hope that together we can find a way forward. But such hope is for another day, perhaps Easter Day. For now, let us reflect on the loss and the pain we share in the knowledge God is with us in the midst of all we face in the world.

Bungie <><
Rev Mitchell Bunting, Dumbarton United Reformed Church

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Thursday 1st April   Maundy Thursday

Thought for the Day

 Maundy

 Maundy2

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Wednesday 31st March

Thought for the Day

Today is often known as "Spy Wednesday".   It is the day that traditionally we remember Judas making a deal to betray Jesus.  As the story of Judas unfolds we ultimately see him take his own life after the shame of what he has done overtakes him.  Shame is such a powerful emotion and can easily destroy us, slowly eating us up inside.  However, the story of Holy Week is ultimately a story of restoration and renewal.

It is a stark reminder that our shame is never too big for God. In fact, Paul writes to the early church in Rome and reflects on the life, death and resurrection and says "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor principalities, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
 

Cheers
Oli Higham
Pastor, Rock Community Church

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Tuesday 30th March

Thought for the Day

Jesus & Prayer in Holy Week

“My House will be called a house of prayer for all nations” Mark 11:17
“Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation” Mark 14:38


From the crowded, bustling Temple to the lonely garden of the olive-press, symbolic of agony-fuelled private prayer, Jesus proclaims the centrality of prayer. The ‘Court of the Gentiles’ should have been a place of prayer, not a market place. A place where the non-Jews could see the importance of worshipping the One True God. Instead it was a place of commerce not communion.
The Garden was where Jesus chose to spend his last night before betrayal, beatings and the cross – communing with Abba, Father and praying for us (see John 17).

Prayer: Lord may we put aside anything that impedes prayer and worship in our churches and in the solitary moments of our lives.

David Buchan
Lennox Evangelical Church

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Monday 29th March

Thought for the Day

“As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. They came to a place called Golgotha (which means ‘the place of the skull’). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is Jesus, the king of the Jews.” (Matthew 27.32-37)

I know it’s only early in Holy Week and I’m fast forwarding a bit to Good Friday but the whole issue of earthly treasures and earthly possessions has been very much on my mind recently. My mum recently had to move to a nursing home for her own safety. It was a massive change that involved her giving up a two bedroomed house to move into a single room.

I don’t cry very often but I cried the night I packed my car with her belongings to take her to the home. I think it was the realisation that a life of working and accumulating meaningful ‘treasures’ had reached a point where almost everything had to be abandoned and in fact almost everything no longer had the meaning it once had. My mum is happy and settled and doing without the vast majority of her possessions and we are blessed to still have her with us but Jesus’ words on the sermon on the mount about being careful to store up treasures in heaven rather than earthly possessions really came to the fore.

Jesus lived what he said and as he was dying on a cross people gambled for his earthly ‘treasures.’ In his case all he had were the clothes on his back. Not much for a king, yet this King of the Jews was richer than anyone who has ever lived and he promises us that if we put our faith in him we will ultimately gain an inheritance that will never perish, spoil or fade. That inheritance is waiting for me and waiting for my mum so I take huge comfort from the fact that in the end no Christian is ever a nett loser, however tough certain moments in our lives may be. In fact we have more than we could ever hope for or imagine, to gain.

Grant Hamilton
Pastor, Dumbarton Baptist Church

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Sunday 28th March  Palm Sunday

Thought for the Day

  PalkSunday 

There is a hymn by John Bell that begins:
“Oh where are you going,
and can I come with you,”

Travelling through Holy Week we are joining Jesus on the journey that began with cheers and shouts of joy, went through a whole range of emotions including deepest grief, and ended with unimaginable joy and hope in the faithfulness and power of God. We cannot make exactly the same journey that Jesus did – no one can, he alone was called to suffer and die on that cross on Good Friday. But we can picture ourselves with the disciples (male and female) and the crowds, and wonder whether our response would have been/is any different.

Jesus calls us to follow him not just in Holy Week, but every day of every week, to be his witnesses, to share his love and Good News. It’s hard, really hard, but through his Spirit he helps and guides us – and he forgives us, again and again.

Lord, as we begin our journey through Holy Week, help us to look beyond what others did and said so long ago, and see how we respond to you and your call to us. Help us to remember the cost of your love for us, and the great hope that you offer us through the Risen Jesus

Ian Johnson
Church of Scotland Dumbarton Linkage

 

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