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  • Rev. Caroline

Phone line, Life line

My good (and understanding) friends would tell you that I’m terrible at keeping in touch by phone. I don’t like speaking on the phone – I much prefer a face to face conversation.

Recently, however, I’ve been glad to pick up the phone as a means of keeping in touch with people whom I’d normally see at Church or visit at home.

I’ve started a list in my diary so that I can keep track. Diary pages that would ordinarily be filled with details of meetings and other appointments now contain the names of those I’ve spoken to on the phone.

Reviewing it today, I realised that I hadn’t separated this list into two columns, one for each congregation. The names are familiar enough so that I don’t need to add this information – but why would I want to separate them in any case?

Meadowside St Paul’s and St Andrew’s form a linked charge, as opposed to a union. But we are all God’s people and this is not the time for separation when we consider what is happening in our own country and around the world. As Bishop Stephen Cottrell (Archbishop of York designate) put it in today’s edition of Songs of Praise on BB1 earlier today, this pandemic reminds us that we are interdependent.

As it happens, today should have been the third of our United Services at 11.00 am in St Andrew’s, 29th March being the fifth Sunday in the month (since this arrangement was ratified by the two Kirk Sessions at the beginning of last summer).

All this put me in mind of prayer publicised some years ago by Christian Aid, adapted from the words of a Palestinian Christian:

Pray not for Arab or Jew

for Palestinian or Israeli

but pray rather for ourselves

that we might not divide them in our prayers

but keep them both together in our hearts.

We might take the sentiments here and adapt them for our current situation:

Pray not for the healthy or the ill

for those out undertaking essential work or those isolated at home

but pray rather for ourselves

that we might not divide them in our prayers

but keep them all together in our hearts.

This photo was taken at the front of Tabeetha School in Jaffa, Israel. It is the only Church of Scotland school in the world, educating around 330 children and young people of many different faiths, cultures and nationalities. All the festivals are celebrated, English is the language of lessons and pupils and staff alike lay down their religious and political affiliations “at the gate”.

What an inspiring example of unity in diversity!

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