Falkirk Free Church
24th March 2020
Dear brothers and sisters,
This is my 2nd letter to you in these remarkable circumstances we’re living through – and it seems there will be quite a few more to come. I write the morning after the Prime Minister and First Minister announced the so-called lock-down. I trust that you will comply with the instructions given by the government (as is right under God) and in that way do your bit to assist the effort to combat Covid-19 and minimise its impact. It is, of course, a real restriction on our way of life – but necessary.
I find myself missing the gym, missing Costa Coffee, missing face-to-face contact with friends – and missing the gathering of God’s people for worship. Psalm 42 has been on my mind in these days: “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” The idea in the psalm (which is very relevant for us now) is that the psalmist is experiencing a time of enforced absence from the temple, and is struggling with it – longing to be restored to the place he loves, so that he can worship the God he loves.
Now we’re thankful that we can worship God wherever we are – but with that said, there is a particular blessing in being present for the public worship of God, isn’t there? And the psalm has the repeated refrain: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Saviour and my God.” I think we all feel the strangeness, the loss, even the pain of being prevented from coming to public worship (at least, I hope we do – we certainly should!) but let us remember, dear friends, that this present separation is only for a finite time. We WILL YET praise him. Yes we will! We will praise him as we are able just now – in our own homes. And then when we come back together at the end of this time, will we not praise him together, pouring out our hearts, lifting up our voices, joining with our brothers-&-sisters in Christ, drinking in his Word? What a blessing that will be!
Until then, let us not be downcast or disturbed. But let us keep on with present devotion and future hope, renewed daily in the Lord who is with us always, everywhere and for ever.
Turning now to more practical matters, can I first of all thank all those of you who have been in touch to express appreciation for the service we shared last weekend. It was recorded in the empty church on Saturday morning – which was strange – and it was even stranger for me listening to myself on Sunday morning with the family! But we can be thankful for the technology that enables us to continue our ministry in this new and temporary way.
This weekend’s service
Things have changed again now, and with the lockdown upon us, it will have to be done slightly differently this weekend. The aim is still to record a service – but this time we hope to do so on video at the manse, and this will then be available from the church website at the weekend. With the new restrictions, it is not now going to be possible to drive around Bo’ness, Grangemouth, Falkirk and Stenhousemuir (as last weekend) delivering CDs to those with no internet facilities.
We remain committed to providing for those who don’t do internet – and hope to come up with a solution soon. It may be possible to post our CDs, but that’s assuming there will still be a postal service to deliver them.
Finally, I will be compiling the prayer update tomorrow, Wednesday, so if there is anything you’d like to be included, then please call or email me – especially if you or your family are self-isolating/ symptomatic, or have any kind of particular requests. Let us keep one another in prayer – and seek to encourage one another through these days.
Yours in the love of Christ, and with prayerful good wishes,
David Randall, Minister
Here is the first sermon for 22 March produced during the coronavirus shutdown by our minister David Randall. It is part of the series Road to Calvary and deals with Gethsemane. Listeners may wish to listen to it during the normal service time of 1100-1200 on Sunday.
You tube video clip for service on 29 March