Updated: Sep 3, 2018
Among the few people who are up and about in Dundee city centre before 9.30 am on a Sunday are tourists. They are recognisable by their backpacks or wheeled suitcases, and by their intense concentration on the various maps which have been put up by the Council to help people find their way around.
Some of them pay us a visit at Meadowside St Paul’s. They seem to be attracted by the fact that, at that time on a Sunday morning, our doors are open. If there are any early-bird elders on duty just inside the vestibule, which opens directly to the street, these visitors will be given a warm welcome and invited in for a look around and to come and worship with us. On occasion they have attended just part of a service but I don’t take it personally!
The visitors I particularly remember were two Bulgarian farm workers. Though neither had a confident command of the English language, they came over as extremely polite young men. They accepted the invitation to have a look around, and went upstairs so that they could take photos of the sanctuary. It was clear that they were impressed by the church’s grandeur – something, perhaps, which we ourselves take too easily for granted. We got them to sign the Visitors’ Book and then off they went for their next adventure, though not without crossing themselves first.
I am glad we were there to make them feel welcome.
Welcome was also the order of the day when we had a baptism at St Andrew’s, attended by a large number of relatives and friends of the little boy being baptised. As it was a hot day, the doors to the terrace were left open during the service, which meant that the visiting children were able to go out and play in the garden. They were having so much fun that they didn’t come back inside for the baptism itself, in spite of my repeated invitation!
They did however take up my offer to make plasticine “sparrows” to put on my tree and, with the help of our regular children and young people, sixteen strips of plasticine were soon transformed into multicoloured birds of all shapes and sizes. A good illustration of the birds sheltering in the mustard tree, though our Gospel passage was about God’s care for the sparrows.
Birds are topical in Dundee at present, given that the city and surrounding area have become home to a large number of brightly decorated penguins which have caught the attention of adults as well as children - https://maggiespenguinparade.com
It is rare to see one of these penguins without a few people around it, taking photos. As I passed one the other day, I heard a chorus of “ch-e-e-e-e-e-se” from two young children, being egged on by their Mum!
Here is another, from the city centre:
On my ten-minute walk between the two churches I give a virtual nod to this penguin which is outside St Mary’s Church, which shares a building with the Steeple Church, both of whose congregations are in our Cluster for collaborative working. As the first meeting of the new session of Dundee Presbytery is in a couple of weeks (12th September) I will probably have more to say about Clusters in the future….