It was just the other day that one of the congregation said to me… “Aye that’s Christmas an’ New Year as far awa’ as ever!”  Right enough it just goes by in a flash. Yet the Season of Christmas doesn’t officially end liturgically until Candlemas. There will be the usual Sung Mass for Candlemas at 7.30pm on the 2nd of February. A member of the congregation once said that… “there is nothing like an evening Mass at St Margaret’s for atmosphere”, so please get this one into your diary.It’s the proper way to round off the Season.

I give you these lines to ponder written by a Jesuit priest…


Beewise we gather our wax all year
From bramble sorrow and thistle tear, Briar sadness and spine of pain:
Bitter flowers that bloom again! But deadest winter brings a day
When thorns have lovelier bloom than May; When candles are fashioned and lit by One
Who fashioned her wax to be lit by the Sun, Then watched her Candle burn: the price
Of sin-consuming sacrifice. Today she shares the Flame anew
To make us priest-and-victim too.
And Mary-mothered flames and Flame
Live their sacrificial Name.

– John D. Boyd S.J. The Sign – February 1947

Roll on the flowering of snowdrops, they have been long associated with Candlemas.

What a pleasure it has been to welcome Fr Jack from Australia into our community as he takes up studies at King’s College. Aye, and he can sure dirl his fingers ower the kist o’ whissles!

I am confident that he will contribute greatly to the life of this community. It is the first time in almost 50 years that two priests have stayed at the Rectory.

Ash Wednesday is on the 22nd of February and there are two Masses scheduled, as you will see in the Kalendar. This Lent, we are planning to host a Lent Group on Wednesday evenings at 7.30 pm, beginning Wednesday 1st March up until the week before Holy Week. This will take place within the context of a showing of an episode of The Chosen in the St Nicholas Chapel, and will be led by Fr Jack; I earnestly encourage as many of you as possible to come along to this. Dr Graham Cooper has written about The Chosen elsewhere in the magazine. In the Lent Group, after the showing of the episode, there will be opportunity for discussion and reflection. I am asking you to come out and support Fr Jack in this series. If you want to view the trailer of The Chosen online, then please go to:

The evening of Christmas Poetry and Music sponsored by the Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem seemed to have been well received. It was a different way of doing ‘Christmas’, and was a kind of ‘breath of fresh air’. I hope to repeat the exercise this year. I was very grateful for the assistance of Professor Paul Mealor of Aberdeen University who had an excellent input into the music; I know that he is keen to do something similar again. I was appreciative also of the contribution of Dr Roger Williams as organist for this event, and for the soloists Moira Docherty, Jillian Bain Christie, and Roger Phillips. I record my thanks also to the readers Fr Gary Clink, Jinty McPherson, Dr Graham Cooper, Gordon Casely, and Barbara Lady Grant. Thanks, also, to Bishop Hugh Gilbert for his meditation. The ladies of St Margaret’s (as usual) were excellent in providing refreshments. The event raised £250 towards the work of the Mawlamyine Christian Leprosy Hospital in Myanmar.

Handing over Leprosy cheque to Dorothy McKay and Bill Falconerof Leprosy Mission Scotland

Although I will have reached retiral age at the end of February, I am intending to work on a wee while longer… that is, if I have the health and energy to do so! I can do this as I was instituted into St Margaret’s before the retiral age for the clergy was made mandatory at 70, a few years after I came back to Aberdeen in 1990. The change in Canon Law then did not affect clergy who were instituted before that date. You will remember that Canon Alex MacGillivray of Old Meldrum and Fyvie, (of blessed memory), was in the same position.

Anyway, here’s to the future and I do anticipate brighter times ahead!

Every sincere good wish,

See you in Church,

As Aye,

Fr Emsley