Bruce is a Daddy

This week has really felt like Spring

Bruce has his first baby. 

In fact, he is the father of gorgeous twins.

Not that he looks in the slightest bit interested. 

You talking to me?

Nope. Neither he nor Wayne seem to care a jot.

This expectant Mama is still awaiting the birth of her twins.

But this lucky Mama has her labour over.

This set of twins was so playful,

and even though Mama kept a close eye on them,

they head-butted each other quite happily until...

Mother intervened,

and put a stop to their shenanigans.

She then settled them both down, and watched me as if to say, "I have it all under control. Twins? Nae bother."

(Apologies for the unclear photos. I really need to get my camera up and running again. It's not the time of year to be stuck without my 'proper' camera...)


An Article I Read

Today I read What is a Helpful Practice in Marriage on the blog, Practical Shepherding. The article speaks of how useful it is for couples to speak with those who have been widowed to renew a sense of thankfulness for what they still have. How often we can focus on petty annoyances and cease to see the bigger picture - that of the blessing of still having our spouse with us.

When I'd read the article, my mind went to two people with whom I've spoken this week who have gone through the pain of losing their spouse. Although I spent only a very short time with each of them, one thing was clear in both cases: they will never, ever stop missing their loved one, an they feel the loss as though part of them is now gone.

I spoke to a widow and a widower. Boy, this article is right that they are worth speaking with! The widow was married for over 40 years, and lost her husband last year after a very long, and debilitating illness. She is a shadow of her former self. Even though, in the years before he passed away, he could do almost nothing for himself, and used an electronic device even to 'speak', her grief at actually losing him was humbling. 'I am lost without him', she said (even though he was unable to do so much latterly).

Unlike the woman I met, who'd had a long marriage with her husband, the widower I spoke with was only married 12 years when his wife passed away. That was 26 years ago..... Twenty-six years, and he still can't stop talking about her! How he loved her, and though all this time has passed, his heart still grieves. 

I felt humbled to have met these two Christians (whose spouses were both Christians too). I also felt a renewed thankfulness that God has seen fit to, as yet, make me a wife, not a widow.


Books, Chocolate and Liberty - What Better Topics ;)

1. What was your favourite book as a child?

I loved all the Enid Blyton books, and I spent many early mornings or evenings 'watching the smugglers arriving round the misty Butt'. I would have loved to have been one of the Famous Five. I would have been George, the tomboy who went nowhere without her adoring dog, Tim.

Another book I loved, and probably the one that stuck most with me was Corrie Ten Boom's The Hiding Place. That book, along with other stories my father told us in our childhood, affected me in different ways:

- I have an abiding horror of what the power of the state can do. We must never, ever forget what happened in Germany in the 1940s, as well as what happened behind the Iron Curtain in communist USSR, and what is still happening in China. Liberty is not just a nice-sounding word in patriotic songs. It is what we ought to concentrate our efforts on establishing - if we do not have it - and on retaining - if we are blessed with it. We ought never to look to the State to be the guardian of our liberty or our well-being. I am frightened by what I see happening in my own beloved nation. Frightened, and saddened. 

- I developed a love for the Jews which has never left me. I weep over them and pray for them, and long for the day when they will look on Him whom they have pierced, and realize that Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the Messiah for whom they still wait. 

2. Dark chocolate, Milk Chocolate or White Chocolate?

Milk chocolate every time.  Indeed any time. Day or night. 

Now, where is that bar I hid on the kids?

3. What's your biggest 'peeve' when it comes to your kitchen?

(apart from the fact that my kids find the aforementioned hidden chocolate?)

I really dislike it when guys come in from outside, come through the Utility room where they could wash their hands and arrive at my kitchen sink to wash their grubby paws.

Get Down to the Utility Room! Why on earth did you pass that sink to come up to where I have dishes??


4. Do you use any type of water filter in your home?


(Really showing my ignorance here: What does it filter out?)

5. What's the herb you use the most in cooking?

Coriander is my favourite herb (you call it cilantro across the Pond, don't you?). I have been very negligent over the winter, but am beginning to re-plant seed this week. I can't wait to have my own plants again. I have a couple of Thyme plants that survive the winter in a cold frame, and I do like Thyme with chicken.

Patrice, I can hardly believe the variation in temperatures you're having. We are on a much more even keel, but this past week has been absolutely gorgeous. Our temperatures have hit the heady heights of 16C (60F), and with blue cloudless skies, it felt positively Mediterranean. I could get used it, I tell you.

Our clocks changed this past weekend too, so our evenings are long and sunny and bright. If I get my camera sorted, you will soon be hearing me waxing lyrical (again) about our sunsets (again). Again and again, I suspect. 

Y'all are such a long-suffering group. I wonder that any of you keep coming back for more of the same. Maybe it's for Jackson you keep coming back, and so I shall post a photo of him here - just to make y'all happy.

In fact, I'll post a few from when he was just a little baby.

Have a great week, y'all! 

(You will have to excuse my "y'all".... I know most of you don't use that expression, any more than most of us Scots don't say 'Och aye the noo' (!!), but I love it, so bear with me, will you. You're such a kind bunch.)


A Charismatic, Jewish, Scottish Wedding....

On Saturday, we attended a very unusual wedding. It was unusual for Lewis anyway, but I suspect it would have been unusual anywhere, because we had a:

Charismatic wedding, with 

Jewish traditions, with

Gaelic psalm singing and the men in kilts.

Now, you tell me: Have you ever been to a wedding that combined all of the above?

I'm going to post a selection of photos (I did ask the Bride and Groom's permission) that will, I  hope, give you a flavour of the day. The Bride is American, and the Groom is from Ness.

The couple were married under a canopy, similar to a traditional Jewish Chuppah.

They exchanged rings, and then

...the Groom may kiss the Bride

After the marriage vows had been taken, the couple were covered with a shawl whilst Pastor MacKenzie recited the Seven Blessings in Hebrew and in English.

(By the way, this pastor's name was Aaron MacKenzie. He is American and I reckon he had the perfect name for a Jewish-Scottish wedding. I was going to ask him if he'd changed his name for this day, but thought that might be a bit cheeky! I assume it is his actual name ;)

The groom placed a sash in the Campbell tartan (his tartan) on the bride. 

I wished the Groom every blessing and happiness.

They are leaving tomorrow (Tuesday) for their honeymoon. Wait for it. Four months - visiting:

Er.... and I got a week in Wales???

On behalf of my Wife and I .... 

(Do you have this tradition? ... the groom's speech begins with the words, 'On behalf of my WIFE and I ....' at which point everyone shouts and applauds!)

The wedding cake had such an appropriate topping: a bicycle. You would have to know the groom for it to make sense, but take it from me: there has never been a more appropriate cake topping. Evah.


More Chat with Patrice

Patrice, I believe you're having wonderful weather where you are. I will love being able sit out on your porch again, though the fireside chats were lovely too.

Fire away, Patrice - oh, maybe that's not the most appropriate phrase to use to an American. Here in the UK, it simply means to begin talking, or asking. Er, just to clarify ;)

Oh just ask your questions so I don't stick my foot in it again!

1. What's your favourite clock - digital or an old-fashioned face with hands?

An old-fashioned face.  I love clocks. I'm not sure why, but there is something very lovely about an old clock. I absolutely *love* real Grandfather clocks, though we don't have one of those. My bedside clock is digital, and is ahead by, er, maybe 10? or 15? minutes. I intentionally don't check, so that my half-asleep brain will not try and work it out in the mornings.

Yet another insight into how my mind works.

Scary, isn't it.

2. What's your favourite type of bird?

Oh, that's easy!

This one...
...showing its good side,

....its being washed, 

... its being cooked,

... and ready to be eaten.

Not what you meant, Patrice?

Oh, you mean living birds...?

I once saw a wildlife programme showing eagles soaring in the Norwegian fjords. I fell in love with the Norwegian fjords and with the eagle then. Its grace and majesty and elegance and power and awesomeness. It really is King of the Air.

When we lived in Glasgow, we had Blackbirds and Thrushes in our garden, and their singing was a joy to hear. On summer evenings, and early in the morning, the sounds of their music was truly lovely. I miss that a lot here. 

3. How do you feel about being in front of people? This could include meetings, speeches, performing, or just saying something at a party.

Nightmare. Absolute nightmare, Patrice. I often look at folks standing in front of people making a speech - whether serious or funny - and admire them so much. I could never, ever, do it.

I come out in a sweat simply writing about, so I think we'll quickly move on!

4. What is the last item of clothing you purchased?

I bought two items of clothing recently: one of them is 'totally me'. The other - a pair of shoes - is not.

Let me explain: the jumper (sweater, to you guys across the Pond - not what you call a jumper) is cream, knitted, has 3/4 sleeves (always a help when one's arms are, er, well, you know....), and is a basic square shape.

This. is. me. It is my comfort zone. My boots, my cut-offs and this loose, shapeless, cream knitted jumper is how I'd live were it possible to get off with that rig-out always.

I can actually see my sister's face as she reads this. Hi Marina! Can you believe we're sisters?!

The shoes I bought, though, are not typically Me at all. They are black patent shoes, with a high heel and a bow on the front. Catherine and Katie are mad at me for having Size 3 feet which means the shoes cannot be shared.

5. Please give me a caption or a Wendell quote for this picture.

"Bloomin' chickens.... you'd think they owned the place."


Spring has Sprung

Okay, let's just get this straight: On Saturday, I reckoned Spring had Sprung.

Today, I realise Spring has Sprung back again, but while it lasted - yep, all of 48 hours - it felt good. The sun was shining, the winds were but a gentle breeze, and although the temperature was only 8C (46F, with a windchill of 39F) it really felt like Spring.

The first Spring-like thing I set to was clearing out the larger of the Hall cupboards. I had to make space in it not only for its own occupants, but also for the stuff previously residing in the smaller Hall cupboard. The smaller cupboard has to be emptied to make room for stuff which is, at the moment occupying some kitchen cupboards.

That all clear?

If it is, y'all are either smarter or madder than I thought.

The best of it all was that I did all the emptying, and the girls took over and did all the sorting.

Here it is at some stage of sorting. 

By the time the girls were at this stage, I'd escaped.

I took a wander out to the greenhouse - the very, very neglected greenhouse.

You know, by the time I reached November last year, I was totally done-in. That meant I didn't clear out the greenhouses like I ought to have done, and this was what met me on Saturday.

Amazingly, amongst all that death, there is still some life.

Green strawberry leaves.

I tidied all boxes up, dumped a load of stuff, swept the floor and felt a different person.

I also felt doubly impatient for when I'm able to get planting again.

And just when I thought Jackson could be no cuter...

...this happens.

Introducing Jackson 'Patch' 


Do Not Try This at Home ;)


and after ...

Yep, I cut my hair.

Let me repeat:  I cut my hair.

So you see why I chose this post's title. 


Transported to a Dream Holiday ... on Patrice's Porch

Patrice, you have some really good questions this week, and the thought of visiting with you on your porch in Spring-like weather .... well, does it get any better than that!

Oh, and wonderful as your porch is, my title isn't really suggesting that your porch is my dream holiday destination! (Don't tell Wendell I said that - he does make the trips to your porch very worthwhile. Please tell him that :)

1. What's your favourite type of chair?

Err.... the one that avails itself at the end of a busy day. 

I guess my favourite type is a comfy, squishy, big-enough-to-pull-my-feet-up type of chair. I almost always sit in the same place in our Family Room, and it's actually on the sofa. I never, ever, though, sit in a 'sitting position' with my derriere on the cushion and my feet on the floor.

(Okay, so my feet may not actually reach the floor whilst the aforementioned derriere is on the cushion, but these are details that are neither here nor there. And so we move quickly on....)

The only other chair in the Family Room I like is ...

... this one!

I do like sitting here if I need my legs to have a good stretch. Although it's a child's chair, we almost all fight over it as some stage or other.

(The Builder is never part of these fights.)

2. What was the last play you saw?

I can not honestly remember ever seeing a play. Just let me think for a minute....

*Cogs a-turning*

Nope. I don't think so!

3. If you could spend an all expenses paid week in a cabin in the mountains, a cottage at the beach, or a townhouse in a city with lots of great attractions, which would you choose?

Oh dear me! Definitely not the city. Well, we did love Washington DC when we were there - visiting the White House (I bet President Bush is still kicking himself that he had to meet with the Ghana leader rather than have his lunch with us.); being in the Capitol Building, and seeing all the monuments in the National Park. I wouldn't mind visiting there again, and having time to visit Arlington (I'm really sorry we didn't get there, and it very much remains on my To-do list), and watch the changing of the guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. *sniff sniff*. There are amazing facts surrounding the tomb and its guards. You can find some of them here

Photo courtesy of Apples4theteacher

So, apart from DC, and a quick 48-hour visit to London to see some of the sites, I would not choose a city as my holiday destination.

A WARM beach holiday sounds nice, but because we live so close to a beautiful beach with magnificent seas, I'm not sure I would chose this holiday if I had the choice of ...

A Cabin in the Mountains

Oh, Patrice. This sounds like a dream to me! And may I choose the mountains? Yes? Well, I guess many of you will already know my choice.

The Blue Ridge Mountains

This would definitely be a dream holiday for me. And .... I would be close enough to a friend of mine in Virginia so we could visit together loads of times.

To waken up to a view of the mountains. To sit on the 'porch' and watch the sun go down and the colours of the mountains and the sky and the trees change before my eyes. To wonder at God's creation - a very different variety to the beautiful scenes I'm used to - day after day. I know I would never, ever tire of it. And I'm pretty sure that two weeks in such a place would only serve to whet my appetite for more of the same.

Yep.... a cabin in the mountains it'll be, Patrice.

4. What's your favourite condiment?

I'm not a huge condiment person, I must say. Last year, our friend, Laurie, gave me a jar of Mango salsa from a lovely food shop in town. It had actually come all the way from Maine(!), but it was so delicious. I do hope to learn the art of salsa-and-chutney-making this coming summer, so maybe I'll try and make something similar. It was yummy.

5. What's your favourite breed of dog?

Oh well, I couldn't possibly suggest anything other than the highly intelligent, highly trainable and motivated ...


(Okay, guys, your spluttering and choking on your tea could have been slightly less obvious. Just for the sake of a certain Mr J's self-esteem.)

Obviously a big a Labrador wouldn't be the suitable choice for everyone, but everything you've ever read about their nature is true. Our fella is your typical perfect-nature-for-a-family-pet dog. You can do as you wish with him - play with his ears when he's sleeping, lift his jowls and make funny shapes with them, tease him, play with him, and even ignore him - and all you get is loving, chocolate eyes looking back at you. Yep, everything they say about them is true.

When I was growing up, we had a miniature Shetland Collie. She was beautiful, though the Builder reckons she was far too yappy. I really don't remember that about her at all, though she did bark when someone came to the house. She was lovely, and a wonderful pet to have had.

I do love some of the larger Spaniels. The Springer Spaniel is a real favourite of mine, and when we were thinking of buying a dog, this was one of our top three options.

Courtesy of this website

They are extremely lively dogs, and in the end, this is why we chose a Lab. Although Jackson is full of fun, it is nice for us that he is happy to lie at our feet and snooze. I'm not sure that kind of pastime rates highly with the English Springers. They aint called Springers for nothin'.

Once again, Patrice, thank you for your great questions, and for a wonderful time on your porch. Ahhh, it's nice to sit outside with a bit of warmth on my face. Back to old clothes and porridge now, though, but all being well I'll see you next week!


Communion Services

Oh well, my planned daily update went well, didn't it!

And now y'all will get a quick rundown of the past few days' sermon texts.

On Friday morning, we had the Coinneamh Cheist, or Fellowship meeting. One of our own elders chose the text found in Jeremiah 15:16, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of  mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts."

It was such an appropriate verse, and he asked the men who were going to speak to tell how the Word of God became precious to them at the time of their conversion, and how it has been since then. Many of the men told something of their lives before salvation, what God did in their lives at the time of their salvation, and how things have been for them as pilgrims, journeying on to Zion, and how God's Word was a blessing to them at these different stages.

On Friday evening, Rev Tim McGlynn preached from Romans 2:1-3, with the theme of humility before God and how this is a real mark of a true work of grace in our souls.

Our Saturday morning service concentrated on the text Zechariah 9: 9-11.

At the service on Sunday morning, at which the Lord's people would partake of the Lord's Supper, Mr McGlynn preached on the astounding words found in Isaiah 53: "And it pleased the Lord to bruise Him."

Although wicked men took our Lord Jesus, mocked, scourged and crucified Him, yet it was all God's plan of salvation. When the sufferings He had to endure at Calvary were revealed to Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemene, little wonder He 'sweated as it were great drops of blood' - He was to become a curse, and the prophecy in Zechariah 13:7 would be fulfilled: "Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of Hosts."

The Father was to crush Him. The Father was pleased to bruise Him. And our Saviour was pleased to suffer 'for the joy that was set before Him'. All this because He desired to save His people from their sin. 

Saved ... to have communion with Christ here in the world. Saved ... to have communion with Christ, where we will behold the face of our Beloved, and praise Him time without end.

In the evening, Mr Beers preached to the unsaved who sat in front of him. His text was from the well known chapter of Luke 15, from verses 3 - 7.

I love the way the enemies of our Lord summarized the Gospel of Luke: "And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, 'This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them'."

Is this not the best news EVER? .... That Christ came into the world to save sinners ... Hallelujah that this is the case.


Communion Weekend

Some time back, I posted about our traditional Communion weekend. Over the next few days, the congregations in our area will have morning and evening services. Each one of the days over this spell emphasises some different aspect of preaching. I'll re-post the older blogpost here, and each day from now until next Monday, I'll let you know what texts were preached on.

* * *     * * *     * * *

This account, written by our friend, Dr David Murray, who is now a lecturer in Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan is to be found on the website, The Westminster Presbyterian. I have added some comments here and there.

The Scottish Communion Season

David Murray
One of the major results of the Scottish Reformation was an intense carefulness in the administration of the Lord's Supper. I will take you through the Scottish Communion Season day by day, from Thursday to Monday. And, to simplify matters, I will give you one word by which to remember the significance of each day.
Thursday: Humiliation
Thursday is the day of humiliation. In parts of the Scottish Highlands, almost everything, including schools and shops, closes down on Communion Thursday. This is made possible by the various denominations in an area having their Communion Seasons at the same time. Farms and crofts lie silent, and fishing boats are tied up, sometimes for the whole five days of a Communion Season.
This was so in the past, but is no longer. Although the services have remained as they used to be, very few businesses close for the day.
This time of quiet and rest from regular work gives people time to search their lives and souls with a view to confession of sin. There are two church services on Thursday - morning and evening - which focus on Psalms and Scriptures related to conviction of sin, contrition and repentance. Sermons usually aim to induce a spiritual sensitivity in the hearers, to bring God's people to see their spiritual need, and to start the Communion Season low, in the dust - the necessary place to be before any spiritual blessing comes to us. God brings us low before He raises us up again.
Thursday is also known as the "Fast Day." Now of course, some people do fast from food in order to give themselves more time to examine their souls and search out their sins. There is certainly a fairly widespread "fasting" from exposure to the news media. Being from the more "pagan" south of Scotland, I made a real blunder at my first Scottish Communion season in the Scottish Highlands when I asked on the Thursday where the nearest shop was so that I could buy a newspaper. Shock and horror spread all around the room - this "heathen" southerner wanting to read a newspaper on the Communion Thursday! I was soon educated about the need to come apart from the world for one whole day to examine my soul for sin rather than get distracted by the sins of the world. So, the whole of Thursday, in private and in public worship, is focused towards humiliation.
A typical text may be, 'Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted' (Matthew 5: 4), or 'Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven' (Matthew 5:3). The minister would concentrate on what true mourning over our sins is, or what true poverty in spirit is. These sermons (as the article says) are to cause us to see our sin, so that we may appreciate Christ and His sacrifice all the more.
Friday: Examination
Friday is the day of examination. In a way, Thursday involves self-examination as well. However, on the Thursday we look for sin to confess, whereas on Friday we look for marks of grace to encourage us. We might say that the Christians are "killed" on a Thursday, and then raised again on the Friday. "For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole" (Job 5:18). The painful experience of humiliation is followed, hopefully, by a skilful spiritual physician pouring balm into the soul to encourage the humble soul that despite all the sins that are present in the heart, "There, look, there's a little mark of grace. And look, you have this mark as well, don't despair."
As on the Thursday, there are also two services on the Friday. The evening service is a normal worship service at which the minister preaches on one of the marks of grace - love to the brethren, hope, patience in tribulation, prayer, etc. The aim is to encourage God's trembling people to profess faith by sitting at His table, as well as to discourage the unconverted from taking such an unwarranted privilege to themselves.
The Friday morning service is usually one of the high points of the Communion Season. It is called "The Ceisd" (pronounced Kaysch), and is Gaelic for "The Question." Why is it called "The Question"? Well, let me begin by explaining that there are usually three ministers in the pulpit - the local minister and two visiting ministers who have been invited to assist with the numerous services of the season. At the Question meeting, after singing and prayer the senior visiting minister stands up and asks one of the local elders for a "text." One of the elders then stands up and reads out a verse of Scripture. The text may be from any part of the Bible but is always related to Christian experience. Some examples might be, "And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1), or "Unto you therefore which believe he is precious" (1 Peter 2:7). The elder then asks a question along these lines: "Would the brethren explain how they have experienced this verse either in their conversion or in their Christian life?" More specifically, he might say, "Would the brethren give a testimony as to how they were brought alive spiritually?" or, "Would the brethren explain how Christ is precious to them?" The Question is really targeted at bringing out the marks of true Christian experience, and of conversion especially.
When the elder sits down, the senior minister, without any prior notice or preparation, "opens the Question," that is, he gives an explanation of the text in its context. This is a real test for a minister, and a time of much silent prayer! It was not unknown for "mischievous" elders to pick a text from an obscure minor prophet in order to "test" the minister! Usually the minister speaks about the text for about ten to fifteen minutes and then sits down - usually greatly relieved. At that point, the local minister asks one of the older Christian men in the congregation, or one of the men visiting from other congregations, to stand up and, "speak to the Question." He then speaks for about five minutes, and ideally no more than ten minutes, and tells of how the Lord brought him spiritually alive, or how the Lord was precious to him, etc. Then another person would be asked in the same way. Depending on how long each man spoke, you would normally hear maybe six to ten men speak, one after another.
I have been present at many emotion-charged Friday mornings when godly men wept openly as they described, again without any preparation, of how the Lord had dealt with them and brought them to a knowledge of themselves and of the Saviour. And the aim of it all is to help and encourage those who are present and wondering, "Am I a Christian or not?" The men are usually incredibly honest. It is not a time to "show-off." It is a time to bare the soul and speak of the struggles and the difficulties of Christian experience as well as the blessings and privileges. And many, many Christians can point back to a Friday morning of a Communion Season as a time when they received assurance of faith through listening to these testimonies.
In the old days, in the nineteenth century, these meetings went on for three and four hours, with sometimes up to forty men being called. Our meetings usually last about two hours, but the time usually flies by - as it does when you experience the foretaste of heaven that is present in true Christian fellowship. At the end, the visiting minister "closes the Question" by summing up what had been said, and if necessary, gently and diplomatically correct anything said amiss that might discourage or mislead.
The 'Question meeting' is now much shorter, with around 6 or so men speaking. As was said (above), they will take whatever text has been given and will try and show how the text applies in their own lives. Last Friday, the text we had was, '... Jesus Christ, whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory' (1 Peter 1:8). The men who stood were asked to tell how - though never having seen Christ in the flesh - they loved Him, and how this 'joy unspeakable' came into their lives when they were first saved, and how they are aware of it in the years since then. 
Saturday: Preparation
Saturday is the day of Preparation. Of course, Thursday and Friday are preparatory as well. However, these two days look within, for sin to confess and grace to encourage. Saturday prepares Christians for the Lord's Supper by turning their attention outwards, usually to the person of Christ. The morning service might be on one of the Gospel accounts of Christ graciously dealing with sinners. There is a twofold purpose in this. Firstly, the devotional tone of the sermons seeks to excite the affections of those who are preparing to sit at the Lord's Table. Secondly, tender words of encouragement are directed towards those who may be considering sitting at the Lord's Table for the first time.
One Saturday service that was particularly blessed to me was preached by the writer of this article. He preached on '... behold the half was not told me' (1 Kings 10:7) - what the Queen of Sheba said when she had seen the glory of King Solomon, and especially when she had seen 'his ascent by which he went up unto the house of the Lord' (verse 5). As the article says, the Saturday seeks to draw our hearts and minds towards Christ.
After the Saturday morning service, those intending to sit at the Lord's Table are asked to remain behind. The minister of the congregation then comes to the front pew to lead the congregation in prayer. This is often a sweet time for the Shepherd and his sheep as they reflect with thankfulness on the Great Shepherd's faithful keeping of them since they last sat together at the Lord's Table. Thoughts often turn to dear friends whose place at the table below is now empty.
I always do find these few minutes very special. Our own minister's prayer for his 'flock' is so warm and tender. I am always moved by this time together.
After this prayer, each member of the congregation comes forward to shake the minister's hand and receive from him a "token" giving them a warrant to sit at the Lord's Table the next day. These small tokens are a laminated card or even, if very old, made of lead. Usually the name of the congregation is on the token, together with a phrase or verse of Scripture. The distribution of tokens to members of the congregation, and to visiting members of other congregations, seeks to protect the Lord's Table from those who have no right to be there. On the Sabbath morning, elders stand beside the Communion table and collect these tokens from the communicants as they come forward to sit down.
The Session
At this point it would be helpful, perhaps, to explain how a person becomes entitled to receive a Communion token. No one can sit at the Lord's table in our Scottish Highland Presbyterian churches without first of all going before the Session and giving a credible profession of faith.
After each Communion Season service, the minister intimates that the Session is willing to meet with anyone wishing to profess faith in the Saviour for the first time. And so, after each service, the elders gather with the minister to see if anyone will come to profess faith and seek permission to sit at the Lord's Table. This is always a time of great expectation and anxious anticipation, as the minister and elders wait to see if all their labours of past months have borne any visible fruit. Sometimes no one comes, and we have to submit to the Lord and patiently labour on. At other times--O! such blessed times--two, three, or even more might come trembling, one after another, to the Session room, to profess faith and seek admission to the Lord's table.
Although some are able to give eloquent testimony of their conversion, that is the exception. Usually, at this emotionally-charged time, people are very nervous and often tearful. It is obviously difficult for people to sit in front of the elders and describe their spiritual journey. A sensitive pastor and his elders will ask appropriate questions to help the person describe their experience of God's grace. Sometimes even that fails to produce many words. However, usually the person is well known to the elders. They know his or her life and have seen the evidence of God's sovereign grace in their life. Although it is sometimes a bit of an ordeal, many can testify to the blessing and freedom they experienced when witnessing to God's grace in this loving and supportive environment. This practice also has a sifting effect by deterring those who have no experience of God's saving grace in their lives. I count it one of the greatest privileges in the world to listen to trembling souls speak publicly for the first time of the Lord's goodness and mercy towards them.
After hearing the person's testimony, the Session briefly reviews what was said while the applicant waits in another room. When the Session is satisfied that the person has a credible profession of faith--that their walk matches their words--he or she is called in and the minister intimates the Session's acceptance. A senior elder is asked to pray, the person is given a token, and receives the right hand of fellowship from the elders, together with a few whispered words of encouragement.
Word soon spreads that someone has "come forward" and this heightens the joy of the Communion Sabbath when the new communicant member will sit with God's people for the first time. This is also a time of many tears and much love as the new member is embraced and welcomed into the family of God.
Prayer Meeting
But let us return to the Saturday of Preparation. We've noted that there is a morning service. Early Saturday evening there is usually a Prayer Meeting led by one of the elders. As is the common practice in Scotland, the names of several male communicant members are selected and called out to lead the congregation in prayer. The prayers look back with thankfulness for the Communion Season thus far, and seek blessing on the ministers and the coming Sabbath services. Prayer is also made for those who might be under particular attack of the devil and especially for those who may be sitting at the Lord's Table for the first time.
After the Prayer Meeting, the minister and elders set out the Communion table and prepare the bread and wine. Then they gather around the table to pray for the flock and beseech Heaven for the Lord's presence on the morrow.
Sabbath: Commemoration
The Sabbath morning service is divided into three parts. First of all, there is the main sermon. As the Saturday sermon expounded Christ's person, this sermon expounds an aspect of Christ's atoning work. 
For example, our text last Sunday was from Zechariah 13:7: 'Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts'. This text speaks of the the sword of God's justice being brought to bear on the Son, His 'fellow', during these hours of darkness on the cross of Calvary.
Secondly, there is the "fencing" of the Lord's Table. The minister will speak briefly, from a discriminating text in order to encourage the poor in spirit to take their places at the Lord's Table and to dissuade the ungodly from sitting at the table and bringing judgment on themselves. Like a fence, the aim is to keep out those who shouldn't be there and keep in those who should. It is concluded by reading from Galatians 5:16-26. Thirdly, there is the Lord's Supper itself. As the congregation sings Psalm 118:15-26, the table is prepared and the communicants come forward, give their tokens to the elders, and sit down. The minister reads the warrant in 1 Corinthians 11:23-28, gives thanks, and then gives a brief Christ-centred address based on, say, the Song of Solomon or the Psalms, which describe the communion between the Lord and His people. The elements are then distributed by the elders in total silence. What a sacred time this is! After everyone is served, the minister gives one last brief address to encourage the believer to go out and live for Christ, and to impress on those who stayed away from the table their need and the Lord's provision for them. We then rise from the table singing Psalm 103:1-5.
The Sabbath evening service is characterized by unashamed evangelistic preaching to the unconverted--you must be born again, repent and believe the Gospel, death and judgment, hell, or other such themes. There is usually a great air of excitement and anticipation of God being present to save souls. God's people have been brought close to the Lord through the Communion Season, their spirits are revived, and they are anxious for their loved ones to enjoy what they've enjoyed. Many unconverted people come to these services and, throughout the years, many have been converted on such occasions.
After the evening service, the young people are invited to the manse where they are physically fed with many goodies, and then gather to hear the visiting ministers give their testimonies or speak about a spiritual experience they have had. The young people love these evenings. My sons call them, "The Children's Communion!" In fact the whole Communion Season is suffused with fellowship. After every service, morning and evening, God's people gather in various houses in small and large groups to discuss the sermons and share their Christian experiences.
Monday: Thanksgiving
On Monday, there is sometimes a service in the morning, but certainly one in the evening, when God's people gather to give thanks to God for all His mercies over the Communion Season. The minister will preach on themes of thanksgiving and the appropriate response to God's goodness.
Tuesday: Revival
The Communion Season officially ends on the Monday evening. However, the effects continue on to the Tuesday. And the effect is usually that of reviving the spirits of God's people. They have enjoyed a spiritual feast, and are ready to face the world again with renewed faith and rekindled longing for the everlasting, heavenly communion table and communion season. Also the minister is revived. He has enjoyed the fellowship and ministry of fellow ministers, and, hopefully, he has seen some of his beloved flock profess faith for the first time. Finally, such Communion seasons have, in the past, been associated with widespread outpourings of the Holy Spirit upon communities, leading to the revival of true Christianity. O, when will we see such days again?
Indeed, when will we? And yet, we have such blessings, and we mustn't grumble at our 'day of small things'. Our God is great, and having enjoyed a wonderful weekend of hearing God's Word being preached, and of being in fellowship with the Lord's people in our own home and others', we had tonight (Wednesday) yet another time of blessed fellowship with brothers and sisters after our midweek meeting.

This account will give you some idea of why I haven't been around for some days! They are such busy days, but such happy, blessed days too. I pray that souls may have come to Christ for the first time over this weekend, and that those of us who have been Christ's for some time will be drawn ever closer to Him.
He is 'altogether lovely'. Why would anyone wish to stay away from Him.
"For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" (Mark 8:36)

* * *      * * *      * * * 

And so to today:

This morning, Rev  K MacDonald preached on Isaiah 6: 3-5.

 And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.
 And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.
 Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

The sermon spoke of God's essential (in essence) holiness, and how all He was and all He did was saturated with, and stemmed from His holiness. His holiness is seen especially at Calvary, in how He dealt with His beloved Son when our Saviour was 'made sin for us'. The minister quoted Charnock, an English Puritan, who said of the Father's dealings with His Son at Calvary: "It was as if His affection and love for His own holiness went above His love for His own Son.". (When we think of the immeasurable love He had for His Son, we get some idea of the extent of His love for His own holiness). 
And so, the question is ... What ought our reaction be when we think of His holiness and our own sin? We daren't be indifferent to His holiness, nor to our sin. We ought to hate our sin, and love holiness Personified... 

Tonight's sermon, preached by Rev Gavin Beers, was taken from Romans 2: 1-3

1Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.
 2But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things.
 3And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

We heard a searching sermon on Judging others; on Condemning ourselves; and on The judgement of God.

In dealing with the judgement of God, Rev Beers stressed that there is only one answer, considering we are all going to stand at the judgement seat of Christ. Christ! Christ is the only answer, our only hope. For, if we are in Christ, then
"There is therefore now no condemnation for them who are in Christ Jesus".

Tomorrow (Friday) morning's meeting will take the form of a Question meeting (see in David Murray's notes, above). I shall try and find the time to let y'all know all about it.

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