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Father's Day at the Good Shepherd, Murrayfield

posted 19 Jun 2018, 05:41 by Dean Fostekew

the readings last Sunday lent themselves to a sermon related to Father's Day and God's parental role in our lives. Below is what I said:

When I was teaching three decades ago we always began the new school year by planting spring bulbs; that we would hope would grow in secret over the coming months and bring us great joy in the dark months of the new year. these bulbs of daffodils and hyacinths never failed to delight the children or the staff and they came to represent more than just pretty flowers blooming in the Winter.

For me they became a symbol for the ‘secret growth’  my young changes were undertaking during the academic year. As the bulbs came to maturity so too were my class maturing and coming to flower - by showing the new skills and abilities they had learned and developed. For many this might have been becoming fluent readers, or more self-confident in their skills in PE or Maths or whatever. their growth was almost unnoticeable until you stopped to look for it and to think back to what the children were like at the begining of the Autumn term.

Today’s first and third readings have much to say about secret growth as does the second but in a more human way than the botanical analogies used in the other readings. In the botanical analogies growth comes from seeds and cuttings, pruning and tending the soil. In the second reading growth is explained by the ways in which our faith can grow as our life experiences develop and our self-confidence blossoms. In all the readings the hope is expressed that we will all see new growth in ourselves and each other in ways that will deepen our faith and lead us to know God more fully.

Most of us will, no doubt, will at sometime rejoiced in the growth seen in loved ones, pupils, friends and ourselves. That sort of growth is always worth celebrating. Our parents, probably rejoiced in us as we passed certain milestones or achieved various things, or explored new vistas. I think today’s readings fit with the secular theme of today - Father’s Day, as many fathers are good at praising their offspring and celebrating the new growth they see. Growth that has been going on in secret until its bursts forth as new skills. Not all fathers, however, or all mothers are good at noticing new growth and celebrating it in their children. This is sad and both parent and child lose out on something that could be life-affirming.

When my nephew married here last month, his bride’s father told his daughter that he didn’t have time to travel to Edinburgh for her wedding. He didn’t attend and it fell to others to fulfil the rôle left open by her father. It was sad for Sarah that her father chose not to share in this stage of her development and maturity and sad for him that he could not see how important this event was to her. He is the loser. Sarah, however, discovered how many others cared for her and went the extra mile to make her day special, including my nephew.

Earthly fathers do not always get it right but we can be assured that our heavenly Father does get it right with us because as St.Paul writes:

“…we ourselves are well known to God …”

2Corinthians 5:11b 

God rejoices in every bit of our secret growth, development and acquisition of skills. He rejoices in the things we get and do right and despairs when we get things wrongs well hoping that we will get them right in the future. Our heavenly Father is always loving, attentive and forgiving beyond measure but he is also a parent who gives us the space to grow and learn new things each day. He gently guides us and never fails to support us, even when we are unaware of it and that’s something we should give thanks for.

Happy Father’s Day, God.

Trinity Green!

posted 4 Jun 2018, 03:54 by Dean Fostekew

Trinity is the season where we return to the green vestments and altar frontals. There are a lot of 'green' Sundays ahead of us until we reach Advent. Well saying that, there will be a few red or white Sundays in the next few months depending on what particular festivals come along but on the whole the next months are predominately green. I used to think that this was the beginning of the boring season but I no longer do as I think the months of green serve, nowadays, as a good reminder to us to care for God's green creation.

If we humans continue to pollute the planet at the rate we are going there will not  be much green left for anyone to enjoy. Our seas are full of plastic and our land is becoming buried under un-recycleable debris. It has got to stop as we are no longer good stewards of God's creation. 

At the Church of the Good Shepherd, Murrayfield we are continually reviewing what we can do to reduce our impact on the world and how we can try not to waste the world's resources. We have begun to try and increase the things we recycle; such as collecting milk bottle tops for charity and composting as much of our garden waste as we can. All our hall users are required and encouraged to recycle their waste using the bins provided and we appreciate their help and support. Many of us have also been impressed by the recent campaign that encourages everyone who goes to the beach to pick up and recycle three items of plastic. It doesn't seem like a lot but if we could all do it every time we go to a beach it will make a difference. The seas will not be a plastic filled as they are now and our planet will remain green. we also need to do the same when we visit anywhere or go for a walk. Collect three bits of plastic and recycle it.

The Green Sundays are no longer the ordinary Sundays of the year they are now a call to action to keep our planet clean and green, our seas fresh and clear and ourselves healthy and aware of the needs of others around us. Every time you go to church and see the green hangings ask yourself 'What am I doing?' and 'What more can I do?' 

Let's all be eco-warriors for God's creation.

Trinity Sunday at the Good Shepherd, Murrayfield

posted 29 May 2018, 01:48 by Dean Fostekew   [ updated 29 May 2018, 01:49 ]

Last Sunday was Trinity Sunday a Sunday that many of us who preach can end up tying ourselves up in knots as we try to explain the theology of the Trinity and how we came to have that teaching! Below is part of my sermon:

The Trinity has never been an easy doctrine to comprehend or explain and the longer I ponder on it the worse my comprehension becomes. I can remember almost 30 years ago back at Theological College thinking that I was sure the Early Christians didn’t tie themselves up in knots trying to explain the Trinity. I also wondered if I could get away with leaving my paper blank except for the sentence; ‘It’s a mystery’ for essays and exam question son the Trinity as I thigh the blank paper would make as much sense, if not more, than my jumbled words and thoughts might. In fact a blank page may speak more truth than I could ever discover, simply because the Godhead, the Trinity is actually a mystery. For how can one God be three persons and not be three Gods but just the one?


After thinking about the Trinity, when I actually began to write this sermon I suddenly wondered if I’d been going about trying to comprehend and explain the Trinity in the wrong way. Rather than trying to rationalise and theorise on the Trinity wouldn’t it be better and make more sense to try and explain it by starting from what one already knows about each of the three godly manifestations of the whole.

Firstly, God the Father (or Mother, Creator, Parent) is the pre-existing, before time began, eternal God. God who is the essence of the Universe and the creator of everything that is. Everything we see and know is of God and from God the ultimate Creator. God is quite literally everything- big bang, the universe, and us!

Secondly, Jesus. Jesu is the human face of our Creator, parent God. God chose to become human and to live a human life, just as we do. He did it in order that we might come to know him better and so that he might be able to show us who he is. Jesus, true God and true human being both divine and human is probably the one person of the Trinity that we can perhaps understand best. Simply because he was as much like us as he was like God.

Thirdly, the Holy Spirit, the invisible power, medium of change, life force of God that can go anywhere and do anything. From hovering over the beginning of Creation to raising Jesus from the dead and renewing our souls on a daily basis. When we pray to God, we are asking God to send the Holy Spirit into our lives or the lives of others to effect change. And hopefully change for the better.

Praying for the Holy Spirit to do things is a dangerous business for the Holy Spirit cannot be controlled by us. The Spirit does as it wills but because we have a God who listens to us and who knows us and what are true needs are the things the Spirt does may not be what we expect but is rather what we need.

So what of the Trinity?

God as parent, Creator; Jesus the Son and the Spirit as the life force and agent of change. Three distinct persons each with their own personalities and actions but all the same God, one God.

As I have written this sermon the more I have relaxed in my thinkings about the Trinity and its complexities. In cat the more words that I have spent or wasted, the more I have come to realise that trying to fully and utterly comprehend the Trinity is probably not that important. To fully understand the Trinity is I think impossible and unnecessary? Perhaps?

In coming to this realisation I was thrown back to a few words from the first reading from Isaiah:

“Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said;’Here I am send me’.”

    Isaiah 6:8 

Rather than trying to explain away God, I have realised that it is better that we try to use what we know about God, Jesus and the Spirit from our own experiences to live lives that seek to make the lives of others better. That we seek to follow and live out the essence of the Trinity rather than explain it and the essence of the Trinity, of God is simply LOVE. And God, in whatever person we encounter him is simply a different way of loving. Let us use our knowledge of the Trinity that we have learned from God loving us to use it to love others and lets not spend time trying to explain God away and to confine him to mere words. 

Here we are God, send us.


Come Holy Spirit!

posted 23 May 2018, 05:16 by Dean Fostekew

Last Sunday was Pentecost or to use its old name Whitsun. The Sunday in the Church year when we give thanks for the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples of Jesus and ordaining them for the work of Christ in the world. At the Good Shepherd, Murrayfield we prayed for the Spirit to guide us in our thoughts and actions for Eco-Congregation. Some good results followed which we will be working up over the coming months. It's a dangerous thing to do to ask the Spirit to stir one up but when it does the results can be amazing. 

This is Christian Aid Week

posted 14 May 2018, 13:40 by Dean Fostekew

Yesterday the three congregations in Murrayfield Churches Together joined together for a joint service of worship to launch this year's Christian Aid Week. The focus of the campaign this year is on Haiti and the support Christian Aid is giving to local people who have been devastated by the previous hurricane seasons and who are now preparing to face this year's onslaught. It was moving to hear the story of one woman and her seven children who were made homeless two years ago and who last year sheltered 54 neighbours in their storm proof house built by Christian Aid. That house not only sheltered those 54 people it basically saved their lives too. This year when the red envelope lands on your door mat please think of those who live in the difficult places of our world and the work that Christian Aid does with local partners to ease the burdens these people face on a daily basis. Thank you 

Goodbye and good luck to Andy

posted 30 Apr 2018, 01:45 by Dean Fostekew

Yesterday we wished Andy Philip, the ordinand we have had on placement since September 'au revoir'. Andy has brought us many gifts and we wish him well as he completes his theological studies and moves closer to ordination in September. The good news is that he is to serve his curacy in the neighbouring congregation - The Cathedral - and we hope that we might be able to invite him back from time to time. 

We are very blessed at the Church of the Good Shepherd to be able to welcome those in training for ministry or in the early years of their ministry to serve among us. We now look forward to welcoming our next student later in the year. 

The Diocesan 'BIG DAY' Saturday 28th April

posted 23 Apr 2018, 01:02 by Dean Fostekew

Come and join the Diocese as we celebrate who we are and what we do across South East Scotland at the Cathedral in Palmerston Place on Saturday 28th 10-3pm. The Church of the Good Shepherd, will be showcasing our ecumenical set up and working as Murrayfield Churches Together. 

New Minister at Saughtonhall

posted 23 Apr 2018, 01:00 by Dean Fostekew

Yesterday afternoon the clergy from Murrayfield Churches Together joined with members of the United Reformed Church and others to ordain David Scott and to induct him as minister of Saughtonhall URC and Duke Street Leith URC. In good ecumenical companionship the service took place in Murrayfield Parish Church as it offered a venue large enough to welcome guests from far and wide. It is good to welcome David into MCT and to rejoice with our sisters and brothers in Saughtonhall URC that they now have a minister again.  

Good Shepherd Sunday 22nd April

posted 15 Apr 2018, 07:51 by Dean Fostekew   [ updated 15 Apr 2018, 07:51 ]

Join us next week at 10am when we will celebrate our patronal festival and give thanks for the life and witness of the congregation in Murrayfield. All are welcome to join us for both the service and the Brunch following.

Royal Air Forces Association Sunday

posted 15 Apr 2018, 07:49 by Dean Fostekew

What a great day today was, with representatives from the RAF, the ATC and RAFA joining us for worship this morning. A highlight of the service was the presentation of various gifts to Sqn Ldr (retd) Jim Lewis from RAFA and the RAF. Jim will celebrate his 100th birthday later this year and is one of the WWII Lancaster pilots. The young pilot officers from the RAF said that they felt they had met a 'hero'.
The Good Shepherd congregation are delighted to be associated with RAFA and the annual service is one of the highlights of the church's year.

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