June - July 2019

Dear Friends,

I write this letter after just having returned from the high places of Argyll which was a rewarding and refreshing experience. Being in the wilderness I found to be an excellent opportunity to reflect and relax after what was a very busy Eastertide. Also it was an opportunity to observe the wonders and beauty of God's creation and to meditate upon the spiritual dimension of the land, its history and its people. The other Sunday in the pulpit I made reference to Nan Shepherd, the Aberdeen writer, who spent her life trekking the Cairngorm Mountains and I found this particular quotation of Patrick Kavannah in the introduction to her book ‘The Living Mountain' to be of profound value…


“To know fully even one field or one's land is a lifetime's experience. In the world of poetic experience it is depth that counts, not width. A gap in a hedge, a smooth rock surfacing a narrow lane, a view of a woody meadow, the stream at the junction of four small fields - these are as much as a man can fully experience”.


Shepherd came to know the Cairngorms ‘deeply' rather than ‘widely'. We are in this contemporary world losing touch, becoming disembodied, more than in any previous historical period.


At St Margaret's with our rich liturgical and spiritual tradition we are called to know our religion deeply. Corpus Christi is one of the highlights of our Kalendar and draws us further into that new creation in Christ. As well as preaching the word of God we are called to celebrate the Sacraments and there is nothing more spiritually deep than the Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood. We engage in the depth of the sacramental and all that means for us. So please remember the importance of Corpus Christi and get yourself to Mass on the day. I make reference yet again to Simone Weil in ‘Letter to a Priest'…


The Church is only perfectly pure under one aspect; when considered as guardian of the sacraments. What is perfect is not the Church; it is the body and blood of Christ upon the altars”…


That is what we gather in this place to celebrate.


I am shortly to depart for America and the Confirmation of a family member. On the return leg I have been invited by Bjarni Thor Bjarnason, an Icelandic priest, to preach in the Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik which should be an interesting experience. It is a very modern building but the stained glass and the light is something else. Iceland is just like Scotland but a few degrees further North! I will try and persuade Bjarni Thor to come to St Margaret's sometime. It is good to foster international ecclesiastical connections.


The Gallowgate Festival is happening in reverse this year. There will be a week of events culminating in the Festival day and Ceilidh. This is because I have a wedding in Shetland the following week. Needless to say the planning for the week's activities is gathering pace.


On Trinity Sunday, the 16th of June, at the Diocesan Choral Festival, I am to be appointed Dean Emeritus of Aberdeen and Orkney by the Bishop, in recognition for past services to the Diocese. I hope that you will all be able to join me on that occasion.


Here's hoping that it will be a good summer, an' a' blissuns as aye,

As Aye,

Fr. Emsley