Dear Friends,

Wake, O Wake! is one of the great Advent Hymns which we sing to a German Chorale tune. It is very much redolent of the Advent Season. In the Gaelic tongue to awaken someone in the morning particularly a child you would say… Dùisg dùisg! Wakey wakey! In the Free Church the concept of a religious revival is called An Dùsgadh… The Awakening. That is what Advent is about… it is an Awakening!

In this time when we are emerging from the effects of Covid 19 and the consequent instruction not to meet in our buildings, the Church finds itself in a not very good place. Sure the signs of a trend were there before the Pandemic arose  but it has accelerated the process. The state of the Church in Scotland is not good. The closures of Churches within the area of our Charge is dramatic. Just look around at the shrinking footprint of the Church of Scotland as it closes buildings…Greyfriars Church, St Nicholas Church, the North Church of St Andrew, John Knox Mounthooly and now St Mark’s Rosemount and St Stephen’s Powis Place. This is not a good reflection of the state of the church in Scotland. Even important historic buildings like Brechin Cathedral, Arbuthnott Kirk and the Old High in Inverness are closing. It is to me both alarming and sad. We, at St Margaret’s soldier on, but we cannot think that this trend will not have any effect on us. Our attendance has fallen, some Sundays are better than others, like the rest of the church in Scotland we are in danger of sleep-walking into oblivion!

Advent is about an awakening. So this is a call to a Dùsgadh. At the Parish Meeting in the Hall after Mass on the 20th of November, the Feast of Christ the King, the question was asked, “Why do we value St Margaret’s, What would we miss if it were not here?” I hope that in this Advent Season you will ask yourself these questions. Advent is a time of decision making. We remember the four last things…Heaven, Hell, Death and Judgement. It is a time about making up your mind.

I, as Rector, possess the keys of this church, but I am not possessive in the strict sense of the word and never have been. I am steward of this place. This is your community and this is your church.

Advent is also a time of preparing for the coming celebration of Our Lord’s Nativity and the hope and the brightness that that ought to bring into our lives. It is by design I should think that the traditional date for St Thomas the Doubter’s Day is the 21st of December when the sun is at its lowest point in the Northern Hemisphere. Thereafter we look forward to the returning light and the Light of the Christ-child. In the words of a Jacobite Song, there is a glint through the mirk, as we approach the new year.

One of the ideas that was mooted at the Christ the King meeting is that the parish visiting team that used to operate has very much fallen away over the years. Obviously many receive communion at home but in addition to this there was a visiting team. If you feel that you want to help and volunteer in a new visiting scheme could you please let me know. All this is very important as we seek to rebuild our community. It is so essential that we keep in touch with those who are housebound.

On Tuesday evening of the 20th of December there is to be an Evening of  Christmas Poetry and Music in church for the Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem. At the end of the performance mulled wine and mincemeat pies will be served. The event is being organised jointly by Professor Paul Mealor of Aberdeen University and myself to bring the work of the Order to people’s attention. The evening is free but donations onwards the Order’s charitable work will be gratefully received.

Please note the usual diet of services for Christmas and New Year is advertised in the Kalendar.

I do sincerely hope that you all have a very peaceful holy and happy Christmas and every blessing for the New Year that is coming.


As Aye,

Fr. Emsley