On the 12th of May we commemorate Thomas Rattray, Bishop of Brechin and Primus. There is a short article about him elsewhere in the magazine.
He, alongside Archibald Campbell Bishop of Aberdeen 1721-1724, was one of the inspirational lights in our church in the 18th century. These men very much so laid the basis of our Episcopalian ecclesiology. I recently had opportunity to read some of his original work, and in his own handwriting the following, which breathes so much of refreshing hope and is in many ways is a prècis of the meaning of Easter…
‘And this is in fact the true design of our holy Revelation.: For by it we are taught, that tho Man be only a creature of this Lower World, yet God designed him for a supernatural immortality in Heaven; and accordingly placed him in that paradise which he had prepared for him, and in such he was to be trained up, and fitted for the enjoyment of it; and that he provided for him such supernatural means as should raise and elevate his natural powers to the attainment of it.
Heavenly immortality which he promised him as the reward of his obedience: but, that by his transgressing the command of God, he fortified all this supernatural felicity, and fell under the condemnation of that death, which God had threatened as the punishment of his disobedience; that such was the exhuberant goodness of God, that notwithstanding of his disobedience he took compassion on him , and determined not to leave him for ever exposed to the unhappy consequences of his Fall, but to provide a remedy for him, whereby he might again recover that happiness which he had lost, and that in such a manner as might be constant with his own veracity and justice, and the preservation of the authority of his laws; that this was to be by sending his only begotten Son, the eternal Logos (Jesus) the second person of the ever blessed Trinity, to take our nature upon him, and in it to suffer that Penaltie which was due to our Transgression, and by the obedience of his life, and meritorious sacrifice of his death to purchase again for us that Heavenly immortality which we had lost in Adam, and that supernatural assistance by which we might be enabled to attain it; that by several dispensations, especially by the Law and the Prophets, he prepared this world for the coming of his blessed Saviour of mankind; and that in the fullness of time He sent Him accordingly to Redeem us, as he had most graciously promised; and that He being born of a Virgin, and conversing with mankind, delivered to us the Will of his Father with regard to our salvation, taught us a heavenly doctrine and means for the conveyance of that supernatural grace whereby we might be delivered from the power of death and raised to a glorious immortality of body and soul in the Kingdom of Heaven’.
Holy Week is coming on us fast… so let us remember what Christ has done for us and as Christ born of a Virgin conversed with mankind so may our feet be set to come to Church and that we may converse with Him in the Liturgy and recover the happiness which mankind lost in Adam. If ever there was an expression of hope it is in these words of Rattray. They reflect the thinking of St Basil of Caesarea and other compilers of the Liturgies of the East. Please do not miss out on Holy Week and especially Maundy Thursday. There will be a sheet in Church for names for the Watch at the Altar of Repose in St Nicholas Chapel.
This year in Holy Week we are returning to the normal pattern of Mattins followed by breakfast in the Rectory kitchen. On Easter Sunday there will be a buffet after Parish Mass. I have merged the two Sunday Masses into one celebration to allow us all to come together for the celebration of Our Lord’s Resurrection. A lot of work and preparation is going into all this and it is important that we avail ourselves of the opportunities presented.
After the events of the last couple of years nobody is going to rebuild the community of St Margaret’s but we ourselves. Holy Week and Easter present us with opportunity to do that!
My grateful thanks to all of you for all your kindnesses expressed to me on the occasion of my 70th Birthday. I was quite overcome with all the cards and gifts, and my especial thanks to all of you for the gift of money and also the superb bottle of Uisge Beatha. Mortlach is one of my favourite whiskies.
It has been a pleasure, believe me, to have served this community for 33 years. We are family and that is what it is all about!