Dear Friends,

What a fabulous time of the year this is. I was in the shire today and the Aberdeenshire countryside just looks so fresh and green.There’s a big ‘plant-up’ going on in the Churchyard at the moment  and hopefully things will soon look really good here too. The wisteria at the granite arch through to the back garden has a lot of blossom on it… the best it has ever looked. Lots of people are making very favourable comments about the church garden… one person said “for the middle of Aberdeen this place is amazing. It really is an oasis.” That is what we aim to be at St Margaret’s and not just the policies but also the liturgy and spirituality as well.

To this end the Vestry are having an ‘Away-Day’ which is being kindly hosted by Bishop Hugh of the RC Diocese.  In his house in the Chanonry he has a Chapel and a meeting-room which we can use and we can spill over into the garden if need be. The intention of this reflective time is to plan for the future of St Margaret’s and where we would like to be as a congregation in the years ahead. This is to take place on St Moluag’s Day the 25th of June from 1000-1500 hours. St Moluag founded the diocese in 566AD at Mortlach, Dufftown and we will also be meeting in the shadow of St Machar’s Cathedral. Please remember the Vestry at this time and pray for us as we seek to discern our future and our way forward.

At the beginning of July the Military and Hospitaller Order of St Lazarus of Jerusalem will be at St Margaret’s. They are an international order which does a lot of good charitable work. It will be good to have them here as it opens up St Margaret’s to a wider constituency of people. I have always made much stress over the years of the importance of our involvement in the wider community especially in the city. We are a place where the Word of God is read and the Gospel proclaimed and where the Sacraments of Holy Church are celebrated. It is our job as Christians to take that message out to the world and that was the vision of Fr John Comper our founder. Incidentally his day is the 27th of July in the Kalendar. More than ever society needs to rebuild community especially in the wake of the pandemic, and we are a community but it is a community that has to grow and attract fresh blood. More than ever people need to hear the Word of God and take it to heart. We are living in an ever increasing me-culture that doesn’t really care about community. From political class downwards there is a lack of respect for othersand an inabilityto be able to do the right thing. The culture of me-ism is destroying morality. Selfishness and lack of integrity abound.

It is only the Gospel that offers true morality. St Paul saw this clearly in the third chapter of his letter to the Colossians…“Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed-and he is your life-you too will be revealed in all your glory with him”… “There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.” The Gospel if it is truly lived is the most transforming moral code that has ever been promulgated. It is up to us to share it with others. There is no point in complaining that things are really bad in the world. We have the power to do something about it.

I intend that in August we should try and ratchet up our community involvement again which has been dormant for a couple of years because of Covid. The intention is not to try and run a Gallowgate Festival this year. I am concerned that the outlay could not at the moment be justified by the footfall in attendance. However there will be Gallowgate Ceilidh on Friday the 26th of August at which the usual Raffle will be drawn. Please do support this where possible. There is also to be a massive Jumble Sale in the Hall on Saturday the 18th of June. Given the current pressure on the cost of living there is a lot of good stuff being offered. Please spread the word. We will be needing helpers on the Friday evening and also on the Saturday.

Recent press reports about the state of the Church of Scotland in Aberdeen are not good with many churches closing across the city. This sadly means a reduction in the number of places of Christian worship. In practical terms it means that the Roman Catholic and Episcopal Churches will maintain the greater footprint in the city centre. Priests reside on site at St Mary’s Huntly Street, St Peter’s Castlegate and St Margaret’s Gallowgate. That means I think that there are only three clergy living in the City Centre ‘on the shop’ and that will have an effect on the witness of the Church. You can see where I am coming from when I talk about the presence of this place and what we in particular have to offer.

Many are attracted to the outside Calvary at all hours and particularly young people late at night.

Let us join in prayer for the future.

Kindest regards and see you in Church,

As Aye,

Fr Emsley