Rev. Stuart Stevenson
Ordained Local Minister
Contact Stuart here
April 2019 Newsletter
Hello again! I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year! I always look forward to the rest from work and the time with family and friends. The problem is, it goes in too quick! The new year is well underway, and we’re into April already!
Things at St Ninians are going well. Although numbers are small, the congregation have a huge heart for Jesus, and with spiritual lives firmly planted in the Word of God, the congregation more than make up for their numbers with a strong witness for Christ, and in their daily walk with the Lord. As you can see from the front of the church, the Cross of the Risen Christ is placed where the local community can see and know that Christ is preached in this place.
We have recently been blessed with the addition of two Worship Leaders from within the congregation. Lesley and Lynnie were both passed at their special service. They had to conduct a full service of worship! The pressure was on because the person assessing them was the Very Reverend Lorna Hood, former Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland!
Along with Reg Clark, we have three Worship Leaders now. Reg has been a Worship Leader for a long time. In fact both Reg and myself trained together as Worship Leaders many years ago in Johnstone High Parish Church. Reg is also the Session Clerk and does a host of other jobs in the church as well, which reminds me of the fact that all of us work together in running Christ’s church. Where would the church be if all these volunteers stopped doing their bit? Thankfully we take part because we love the Lord and the Lord calls us to serve.
Perhaps God has been calling you to service in the church in St Ninians? There are so many ways anyone can help in running the church. If you have something to offer, then your service will be gladly accepted! I believe we all have something to offer. We all have some sort of gift or ability. God has a habit of calling people to service whom the world would disregard. God has a habit of calling people to service who think they’re not good enough. That’s the story of my life!
The best part of serving God is knowing that you're playing a part, an important part in God’s wonderful plan of redemption for us, and all people everywhere. I find that incredibly exciting, and is the chief reason for doing what I do. The joy of seeing people coming into a relationship with Jesus makes it all worth it.
The strength of the congregation, committed to their faith is truly special. It’s inspiring to be a part of the St Ninians’ family, and a bright future serving Christ in the community is, in my view a certainty!
Last year in September I had a holiday experience I had waited for years for. I eventually managed to get to Pompeii at long last! I had heard so much about it and saw television documentaries since I was a kid, but standing there on the same cobbles that the poor folk perished on in 79AD was a humbling experience. The city of Pompeii is huge, and is still being excavated. The guide told us it would take 3 full days to walk up all the streets so far excavated! Standing there in the Forum with Mount Vesuvius towering above us (see picture) really focused the mind since it has erupted relatively recently in 1944! The guide assured we were safe because he said that there had to be a number of earthquakes in quick succession before an eruption plus they have extensive scientific equipment measuring the seismic activity!
The guide told us that many people fled the city when they saw the serious situation developing, the volcano was erupting, but some refused to leave. Anyone who dallied ‘came a cropper!’ The cavities
where their bodies lay, are still being excavated and it’s clear the distress they were in when they were overcome by volcanic ash and super-heated gas.
It reminded me of the story in Genesis where the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were likewise overcome by volcanic firestorms, and Lot who was faithful to the Lord, was warned in advance, and left the city on time with his family. However his wife dallied, perhaps wanting to go collect belongings, and was consumed by the ash.
God promises us that, in him, we have a secure faith, unassailable and ever lasting!
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run into it and are safe. Proverbs 18:10
Now please don’t think I’m using this story to make you serve in the church! The threat of fire and brimstone is a sobering thought, but more important is the lesson that we should heed God’s call to us. We shouldn’t dally or delay when God calls us. The seriousness of the call to action cannot be overstated. If we follow that call we shall be blessed, and if we ignore that call, then we are rejecting any blessing that was intended for us. I know what I would rather have!
The disciples of Jesus gave up everything and became disciples without delay. No delay, even though it meant a huge change to their routines and had massive implications for their future. The blessings are evidenced today as the Christian Church they founded continues to grow and make disciples all over the world. God calls on us to serve in all sorts of ways, and our natural reaction is to make excuses, claim we aren’t good enough or say somebody else will do it. We should rise to the challenge and God will honour our faithfulness every time!
As you go forward please remember this. God has blessed St Ninians’ over and over the decades. Keep on doing the good work, encouraging, learning and praising God continuously!
Stuart Stevenson, O.L.M.