April - May 2019

Dear Friends,

Holy Week and Easter will soon be upon us and it is a time when the Liturgy at St Margarets comes into its own. I have often said that St Margarets was built as a stage designed around the events of Holy Week. What a privilege it is to possess this building as our place of worship. Central to the church is the Rood Cross above the entrance to the Chancel. It is a beautiful piece designed by Comper and I cannot think of any better piece of word-painting to accompany it, than the following verses that Ed Jones our former organist brought to my attention. They are contained in a manuscript named as Forbes Festival Songs printed in 1681, held at Aberdeen University, and are part of the larger collection by the 17 th Century Aberdonian, John Forbes the Printer. They are entitled as A Sinner's Tears on Good Friday or A Song for the Passion Day. These verses are redolent of the 16 th Century Scottish Court poet William Dunbar in his poem Of The Passioun of Christ…  

“Away you wordly vanities;

No sweet in you I find;

Your sight the sorrows doth augment

And troubles of my mind:

For by your charmes and flatteries

Bewitch'd I was to be

Your slave; And have forsaken Him,

Who lost his life for me.

 

What sufferings from the Manger hath

He to the Grace endur'd!

What shame! What pain! What wounds! What wrath!

All by my sins procur'd.

With sense whereof, Ah, stony heart,

Cans't thou not broken be?

Not sigh for my forsaking Him,

Who lost life for me?

 

Ah this bitter Agonie

What horrours strange he felt!

Which forc'd his moister from his skin

In drops of blood to melt!

Let each drop of that blood sweat

In tears concerted be

On my cheeks, for forsaking Him,

Who lost his life for me?

 

How led out from Gethsemane ,

Mock't, buffeted and bound;

And how in scorn his guiltless Head

With twisted thorns was crown'd:

From Gabbatha to Golgotha

Him hurried whilst I see,

Mourn may I; for forsaking Him

Who lost his life for me.

 

Let still mine eyes be on his Cross,

And still behold the holes

Made in these Divine Heads, which fram'd

The Earth, and span the Poles;

And let me wring my guilty hands

With sorrow, whilst I see

My folly in forsaking Him,

Who lost his life for me.

 

Whilst I behold these Feet, which tread

On the Sphere of the Sun ,

Pierced with nails, for the mischiefs

To which my feet did run;

Let these his Sacred Feet with streams

Of my teares water'd be,

Whilst I weep for forsaking Him,

Who lost his life for me.

 

From that that pure fountain of true love,

Whilst streams of blood do flow,

Through which my sins, from a rude hand,

Did force a ruthless blow;

Ah, stupid wretch! Shall not my heart

Bleed that heart blood to see?

And sorrow for forsaking Him,

Who lost his life for me?

 

But Ah, how may my bowels sound

And heart with grief be torn,

Whilst sounding in my eares I hear

[As of a child forlorn]

That bitter cry, Eli Eli ,

Lamma-Sabachthani,

Wo's me then, for forsaking Him,

Who lost his life for me.

 

At the foot of the Cross,

Now prostrate will I ly,

And bath'd in a deludge of tears

To my Redeemer cry,

Till with his blood he purge my soul,

And freel'y pardon'd be

My folly in forsaking Him,

Who lost his life for me.

 

And now I wholly Sacrifice,

To his transcendent love,

My earthly treasures and devote

My soul to him above,

Ne'r to forsake him any more,

Til I united be,

In endless Glory, unto Him,

Who lost his life for me.”

 

“Cans't thou not broken be?”… You will during Lent have heard me preach much about brokenness.

Lent and Holy Week is a time in contemplating the brokenness of humanity and there is at the moment much of it about. It seems at this stage in time that brokenness stalks the earth in the form of natural disaster, in war and famine, in politics, in the Church, in premature deaths, in relationships, in families, and in our hearts. In the Liturgy of Holy Week there is much brokenness. We plough the depths of pain, suffering, exhaustion, betrayal, denial, torture, abandonment and ultimately the crucifixion and death. In Holy Week we cover all aspects of human emotion we plough the depths to the nadir of human existence but in Easter and the Resurrection we ascend to its zenith.

It is the peculiar claim of Christianity that God became man in Jesus Christ and by this He has given each and every single one of us hope. Christ shared and lived our humanity and therefore understands fully our human nature. We believe that He rose from the dead and took our humanity into the Godhead and gave us a sense of purpose in our lives. Christ is thankfully renewing the whole of creation in himself and that is the message of Easter. It is a message about the wholeness of our humanity in Christ.

In our celebration and receiving of the Eucharist by the Spirit of God, we are renewed in Christ until that time when we ourselves continue our spiritual journey to that place of refreshment and light beyond the grave and gate of death.

Easter has given us every reason to live for. And in a sense to die for. Some more words from John Forbes... A Song for Easter or For the morning of the Resurrection Day.

“Awake my soul, with Hallelujahs meet,

The Prince of Life, who from the lower rooms

Ascends in triumph, treading with his feet

On hell, and death, And as a Conqueror comes

Crown'd with Celestiall Lawrell, full of blooms

And buds, and fruits of peace and victory,

Whilst he doth lead captive captivity.”

 

Because of Easter, as St Paul said, “your life is now hid with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). Now that is something to celebrate! So please get yourself, wherever possible, to church in Holy Week and Easter, join in the Liturgy and be a participant in the evolving drama of the last days of Our Lord and Saviour. You are part of the action and it is important to be involved.

At the most recent Vestry Meeting we decided to review the time of the Wednesday evening Mass. After Easter, and as of Wednesday the 24 th of April, Mass will be celebrated at 5.30 pm. This is an attempt to try and encourage more people to come to church mid-week. This move apparently has been successful elsewhere.

As you will see in subsequent pages of the magazine we have been raising a lot of money for charity and giving to the Samaritans. Very much the litmus test of an alive Christian community.

Every Blessing to you and yours,

See you in Church,

As Aye,

Fr. Emsley