My Dear Friends,

It was a tremendous relief to hear from the Scottish Government that the churches could open again for public worship on Palm Sunday. Last year there was no observance of Holy Week in Church. This year it will be different and hopefully there will be no more ‘lock-downs’. We will be able to have up to fifty people in church for public worship, the same capacity as that which obtained during the last relaxation. The same rules will operate as was the case previously.Please take time to re-acquaint yourself with the separate ‘Our Return to Church’ document. You will notice that the services for Holy Week are much reduced. This is to allow us the opportunity to sanitise the church after usage.

Initially I anticipated that we would not be allowed to open for Holy Week, however, I am delighted that we are now able to observe this the most important week in our Liturgical Kalendar. St Margaret’s is built for the observance of Holy Week so let us go forward and celebrate! I cannot but thank all of you for all your kindness and support all the way through this pandemic. It has been a time like no other but now hopefully the difficult period is now behind us. The Hall is not yet open for activities butI am sure thatwill come in due course.

Easter is above all a time for hope. One of my favourite office hymns for Easter is “Ye sons and daughters of the King” translated by John Mason Neale,Founder of the Convent and friend of our Founder Fr John Comper. Neale’s portrait is in one of the stained glass windows in the Holy Name Chapel. The sentiment of verse 8 in Hymn number 626 in the Hymnal for Scotland is that which for me encapsulates the Faith…

“Blessed are they that have not seen,

And yet whose faith hath constant been,

In life eternal they shall reign.”

Since the first Easter that has been the hope of the Church through the centuries and we hold on to that and celebrate that today. We are not like Thomas, we are not eye witnesses, but we are witnesses to Christ’s resurrection through our baptism and our Faith. In baptism we were made regenerate through the Spirit of God and for that we rejoice. This is affirmed in verse 10 of the above hymn…

“And we with Holy Church unite,

As evermore is just and right,

In glory to the King of Light.”

We are the people of Easter and like St Paul in the Easter Anthems which are set in the Scottish Prayer Book for Easter Day we declare that we are “dead indeed unto sin: but alive unto God, through Jesus Christ our Lord”. The world at the moment seems to be not in a good place. War and genocide, starvation and the horrendous plight of the dispossessed and displaced, political turmoil and a loss of confidence in the political class, unemployment and financial difficulties for many people, young people with their education greatly disturbed by the closure of schools, colleges and universities, people left bereft by the pandemic and people suffering the effects of ‘Long Covid’. Yet in the middle of all of this is the proclamation of faith…

“Christ is risen from the dead: and become the first fruits of them that slept.

“For by man came death: by man came the resurrection of the dead.

For as in Adam all die: even so in Christ shall all be made alive.”

Let us go forward in confidence and hope enlivened in faith by the Spirit of God.

May you have a Holy and Blessed Easter!

Your sincere friend and Rector,

As Aye,

Fr Emsley