Sunday, 28 February 2010

Lent - 12

We take our Sabbath rest at Dunoon. Dunoon is a resort town situated on the Cowal Peninsula in Argyll, Scotland. It sits on the Firth of Clyde beside Holy Loch and opposite Gourock.

Today Dunoon is famous for Dunoon Pottery. Here we see the Dunoon Argyll Pipe Band playing to some of the local residents.

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pharaoh's heart is unyielding; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes out to the water. Wait on the bank of the Nile to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that was changed into a snake. Then say to him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has sent me to say to you: Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the desert. But until now you have not listened. This is what the LORD says: By this you will know that I am the LORD : With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. The fish in the Nile will die, and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water.' "

The LORD said to Moses, "Tell Aaron, 'Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs'-and they will turn to blood. Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in the wooden buckets and stone jars."

Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt.

But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh's heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had said. Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart. And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, because they could not drink the water of the river. (Exodus 7.14-24)

Christian, dost thou see them
on the holy ground,
how the troops of Midian
prowl and prowl around?
Christian, up and smite them,
counting gain but loss,
smite them by the merit
of the holy Cross.

Christian, dost thou feel them,
how they work within,
striving, tempting, luring,
goading into sin?
Christian, never tremble;
never be downcast;
smite them by the virtue
of the Lenten fast.

Christian, dost thou hear them,
how they speak thee fair?
"Always fast and vigil?
Always watch and prayer?"
Christian, answer boldly:
"While I breathe, I pray!"
Peace shall follow battle,
night shall end in day.

"Well I know thy trouble,
O my servant true;
thou art very weary,
I was weary, too!
But that toil shall make thee
some day all mine own,
and the end of sorrow
shall be near my throne."

J M Neale (1818-1866) - from the Greek

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Lent - 11

Well here we are at Helensburgh Central Station. Helensburgh is a town and former burgh in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. It lies on the north shore of the Firth of Clyde and the eastern shore of the entrance to the Gare Loch.

Helensburgh was formerly in Dumbarton District, but was re-allocated under local government reorganisation in 1995. Prior to 1975 it was part of the former Dunbartonshire.

Helensburgh today acts as a commuter town for nearby Glasgow, with a population at the 2001 census of 20,626, and also serves as a main shopping centre for the area and for tourists attracted to the seaside resort. Helensburgh is also influenced by the presence of the Clyde Naval Base at Faslane on the Gare Loch. Helensburgh is also a popular destination for day trippers.

The town is served by three railway stations, Helensburgh Upper on the West Highland Line, Craigendoran, on the North Clyde Line and Helensburgh Central, the terminus of the North Clyde Line.

Then the LORD said to Moses, "See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it."

Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD commanded them. Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

The LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "When Pharaoh says to you, 'Perform a miracle,' then say to Aaron, 'Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,' and it will become a snake."

So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the LORD commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs. Yet Pharaoh's heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the LORD had said. (Exodus 7.1-13)

Friday, 26 February 2010

Lent - 10

Here we are in the centre of Glasgow. Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands. A person from Glasgow is known as a Glaswegian, which is also the name of the local dialect.

Glasgow grew from the medieval Bishopric of Glasgow and the later establishment of the University of Glasgow, which became a major centre of the Scottish Enlightenment. From the 18th century the city grew as one of Europe's main hubs of transatlantic trade with the Americas. With the Industrial Revolution, the city and surrounding region shifted to become one of the world's pre-eminent centres of Heavy Engineering, most notably in the Shipbuilding and Marine engineering industry, which produced many innovative and famous vessels. Glasgow was known as the "Second City of the British Empire" for much of the Victorian era and Edwardian period. Today it is one of Europe's top twenty financial centres and is home to many of Scotland's leading businesses.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Glasgow grew to a population of over one million,and was the fourth-largest city in Europe, after London, Paris and Berlin. In the 1960s, large-scale relocation to new towns and peripheral suburbs, followed by successive boundary changes, have reduced the current population of the City of Glasgow unitary authority area to 580,690, with 1,199,629 people living in the Greater Glasgow urban area. The entire region surrounding the conurbation covers approximately 2.3 million people, 41% of Scotland's population.

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh: Because of my mighty hand he will let them go; because of my mighty hand he will drive them out of his country."

God also said to Moses, "I am the LORD. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD I did not make myself known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, where they lived as aliens. Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the Israelites, whom the Egyptians are enslaving, and I have remembered my covenant.

"Therefore, say to the Israelites: 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the LORD.' "

Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the Israelites go out of his country."

But Moses said to the LORD, "If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?" (Exodus 6.1-12)

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Lent - 9

Today we are in Paisley. Paisley is a town and a former burgh in the west-Central Lowlands of Scotland. It is situated on the northern edge of the Gleniffer Braes, straddling the banks of the River Cart. Paisley is the administrative capital of the Renfrewshire council area, and forms a continuous urban area with Greater Glasgow, Glasgow City Centre being 6.9 miles (11.1 km) to the east.

Thomas Coats Memorial Church is an example of Gothic Revival architecture. It dominates the town's skyline with its crown spire more than 60 metres high. Opened in 1894 and designed by Hippolyte Jean Blanc it is the largest Baptist church in Europe. The exterior is made of old red sandstone. Inside, the church is decorated with wood carvings, mosaic floors and marble fonts. The church also contains a 3040 pipe organ by Hill.

Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, "This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.' "

Pharaoh said, "Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go."

Then they said, "The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword."

But the king of Egypt said, "Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their labour? Get back to your work!" Then Pharaoh said, "Look, the people of the land are now numerous, and you are stopping them from working."

That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and foremen in charge of the people: "You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don't reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, 'Let us go and sacrifice to our God.' Make the work harder for the men so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies."

Then the slave drivers and the foremen went out and said to the people, "This is what Pharaoh says: 'I will not give you any more straw. Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.' " So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw. The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, "Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw." The Israelite foremen appointed by Pharaoh's slave drivers were beaten and were asked, "Why didn't you meet your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?"

Then the Israelite foremen went and appealed to Pharaoh: "Why have you treated your servants this way? Your servants are given no straw, yet we are told, 'Make bricks!' Your servants are being beaten, but the fault is with your own people."

Pharaoh said, "Lazy, that's what you are—lazy! That is why you keep saying, 'Let us go and sacrifice to the LORD.' Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks."

The Israelite foremen realized they were in trouble when they were told, "You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day." When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them, and they said, "May the LORD look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us."

Moses returned to the LORD and said, "O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all." (Exodus 5.1-23)

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Lent - 8

Our Lenten journey has now taken us to Largs.

Largs is a town on the Firth of Clyde in North Ayrshire, Scotland, about 33 miles (53 km) from Glasgow. It is a popular seaside resort with a pier. The town markets itself on its historic links with the vikings and an annual festival is held each year in early September. In 1263 it was the site of the Battle of Largs between the Norwegian and the Scottish armies. The National Mod has also been held here in the past. Some Scots Gaelic signposts are still up.

Then Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, "Let me go back to my own people in Egypt to see if any of them are still alive."

Jethro said, "Go, and I wish you well."

Now the LORD had said to Moses in Midian, "Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead." So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey and started back to Egypt. And he took the staff of God in his hand.

The LORD said to Moses, "When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. Then say to Pharaoh, 'This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may worship me." But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son."

At a lodging place on the way, the LORD met Moses and was about to kill him. But Zipporah took a flint knife, cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses feet with it. "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me," she said. So the LORD let him alone. (At that time she said "bridegroom of blood," referring to circumcision.)

The LORD said to Aaron, "Go into the desert to meet Moses." So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. Then Moses told Aaron everything the LORD had sent him to say, and also about all the miraculous signs he had commanded him to perform.

Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, and Aaron told them everything the LORD had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, and they believed. And when they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped. (Exodus 4.18-31)

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Lent - 7

Today, we are visiting Kilmarnock. Kilmarnock is a large burgh in East Ayrshire, Scotland, with a population of around 45,000. It is roughly equidistant between Glasgow and Ayr, and is the second largest town in Ayrshire. The River Irvine runs through its eastern section, and the Kilmarnock Water passes through it. Kilmarnock is home to the world famous Johnnie Walker brand of Scotch whisky. However the owner of Johnnie Walker, Diageo, has announced that they will be closing the bottling plant in the town by the end of 2011—thus ending a 189 year link with the whisky brand and the town.

Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?"

Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?"

"A staff," he replied.

The LORD said, "Throw it on the ground."

Moses threw it on the ground and it became a snake, and he ran from it. Then the LORD said to him, "Reach out your hand and take it by the tail." So Moses reached out and took hold of the snake and it turned back into a staff in his hand. "This," said the LORD, "is so that they may believe that the LORD, the God of their fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has appeared to you."

Then the LORD said, "Put your hand inside your cloak." So Moses put his hand into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was leprous, like snow.

"Now put it back into your cloak," he said. So Moses put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored, like the rest of his flesh.

Then the LORD said, "If they do not believe you or pay attention to the first miraculous sign, they may believe the second. But if they do not believe these two signs or listen to you, take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground. The water you take from the river will become blood on the ground."

Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue."

The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD ? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say."

But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it."

Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses and he said, "What about your brother, Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you. You shall speak to him and put words in his mouth; I will help both of you speak and will teach you what to do. He will speak to the people for you, and it will be as if he were your mouth and as if you were God to him. But take this staff in your hand so you can perform miraculous signs with it." (Exodus 4.1-16)

Monday, 22 February 2010

Lent - 6

Today, we have a photo of the Wallace Tower in Ayr. Ayr is a town and port situated on the Firth of Clyde, in south-west Scotland. With a population of around 46,000, Ayr is the largest settlement in Ayrshire, of which it is the county town, and has held royal burgh status since 1205. Ayr is the administrative centre of the South Ayrshire council area, which is the unitary local authority.

To the north of Ayr is the adjoining town of Prestwick, famous for its golf and its aviation industry as home of Glasgow Prestwick International Airport. Other neighbouring settlements include Alloway, known for its associations with the poet Robert Burns.

In 2002, Ayr was one of four Scottish towns competing for city status to mark Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee, losing out to Stirling.

But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?"

And God said, "I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain."

Moses said to God, "Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they ask me, 'What is his name?' Then what shall I tell them?"

God said to Moses, "I am who I am . This is what you are to say to the Israelites: 'I AM has sent me to you.' "

God also said to Moses, "Say to the Israelites, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.' This is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.

"Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.'

"The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, 'The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.' But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.

"And I will make the Egyptians favourably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. Every woman is to ask her neighbour and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians." (Exodus 3.11-22)

Happy Feast!

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Lent - 5

We take our Sabbath rest at Girvan. Girvan is a burgh in Carrick, South Ayrshire, with a population of about 8000 people. Originally a fishing port, it is now also a seaside resort with beaches and cliffs. It lies 20 miles south of Ayr, and 30 miles north of Stranraer, one of the principal ferry ports from Scotland to Northern Ireland. Boats also sail from the harbour to Ailsa Craig, an island in the Firth of Clyde. In the summer it is possible to sail around Ailsa Craig on the paddle steamer Waverley. Girvan railway station is on the Glasgow South Western Line.

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, "I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up."

When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, "Moses! Moses!" And Moses said, "Here I am." "Do not come any closer," God said. "Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground." Then he said, "I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob." At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

The LORD said, "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt." (Exodus 3:1-10)

Be still, for the presence of the Lord,
The Holy One, is here
Come, bow before Him now,
With reverence and fear.
In Him no sin is found,
We stand on holy ground.
Be still, for the presence of the Lord,
The Holy One, is here

Be still, for the glory of the Lord
Is shining all around;
He burns with holy fire,
With splendour He is crowned.
How awesome is the sight,
Our radiant King of Light!
Be still, for the glory of the Lord
Is shining all around.

Be still, for the power of the Lord
Is moving in this place;
He comes to cleanse and heal,
To minister His grace.
No work too hard for Him,
In faith receive from Him.
Be still, for the power of the Lord
Is moving in this place.

David J Evans (b. 1957)

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Lent - 4

Well, here we are at Stranraer Station. Stranraer is best known as a ferry port connecting Scotland with Belfast (and previously with Larne) in Northern Ireland. Stranraer railway station is the southern terminus for one of the branch lines of the Glasgow South Western Line. Trains are provided by First ScotRail daily to Ayr, Glasgow, and Newcastle upon Tyne. The main national coach providers operate services from Stranraer. National Express offer a service to London, and Scottish Citylink (in association with Ulsterbus) operate services (which connect with High-speed Sea Service sailings) to Edinburgh. Local transport in and around the town is provided by Stagecoach Western.

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labour. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, "Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?" The man said, "Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?" Then Moses was afraid and thought, "What I did must have become known."

When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father's flock. Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.

When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, "Why have you returned so early today?" They answered, "An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock." "And where is he?" he asked his daughters. "Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat."

Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, "I have become an alien in a foreign land."

During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. (Exodus 2:11-25)

Friday, 19 February 2010

Lent - 3

Today, we are Newton Stewart. The main local industries are agriculture, forestry and tourism. The town hosts a local market, and a number of services to support the farming industry. Newton Stewart lies on the southern edge of the Galloway Forest Park, which supplies a large amount of jobs to the town.

Now a man of the house of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Then Pharaoh's daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the river bank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave girl to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. "This is one of the Hebrew babies," she said.

Then his sister asked Pharaoh's daughter, "Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?"

"Yes, go," she answered. And the girl went and got the baby's mother. Pharaoh's daughter said to her, "Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you." So the woman took the baby and nursed him. When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, "I drew him out of the water." (Exodus 2:1-10)

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Lent - 2

Dumfries has a long history as a county town and as the market town of a surrounding rural hinterland. Dumfries is a relatively prosperous community but the town centre has been exposed to the centrifugal forces that have seen retail, business, educational, residential and other uses gravitate towards the town's urban fringe. In a bid to stimulate development in Dumfries town centre, both economically and in a social context, several strategies have been proposed by the controlling authorities.

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live." The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, "Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?"

The midwives answered Pharaoh, "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive."

So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: "Every boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live." (Exodus 1:15-22)

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Lent - 1

Gretna is in Dumfries and Galloway, in the south of Scotland, on the A74(M) near the border to England, and near the mouth of the River Esk. The township is distinct from the smaller nearby village of Gretna Green, famous for marriages, which borders but is a separate area from Gretna proper. To the West in Scotland are Eastriggs (about 5 miles to the West) and Annan (about 8 miles to the West), both situated on the B721 and linked to the nearby A75.

As we start another Lent, we pick up the Bible story where we put it down last Holy Saturday!

These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.

Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them.

Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. "Look," he said to his people, "the Israelites have become much too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country."

So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labour, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with hard labour in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their hard labour the Egyptians used them ruthlessly. (Exodus 1.1-14)

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Stirling Castle - 24

Some fabulous meals are served nowadays at Stirling Castle, as the following menus show:

Salad of smoked duck breast, bitter leaves, new potatoes and spiced pear chutney
Saddle of lamb stuffed with spinach,
mustard mash, wilted greens, rosemary gravy
Lime pannacotta infused with mint and tequila
Carpaccio of Beef with rocket and parmesan
Roast monkfish with vegetable stew
Bittersweet strawberry tart with mascarpone cheesecake cream

Caramelized onion and goats cheese tart, balsamic reduction
Loin of roe venison with champit potatoes, roasted roots and game gravy
Burnt whisky cream with ginger shortbread


Isle of Uist hot smoked salmon fish cake, tomato and coriander salsa,
citrus butter sauce
Roast sirloin of beef, pan fried greens, dauphinoise potatoes, red wine gravy
Steamed chocolate pudding with fresh egg custard

Tempted? Well forget it! Tomorrow sees the start of Lent. All you can have is some dry bread - so decide which roll you want.

During Lent we shall be visiting some Scottish towns and cities and reading from the Book of Exodus. There will be no intentional links between our Sight Seeing Tour and our Scripture Study. The tour will only visit towns and cities on the Scottish mainland. It will start at Gretna and proceed in a clockwise direction until we reach Berwick-upon-Tweed.

We now bid farewell to the cheery colour scheme on the blog until Easter.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Stirling Castle - 23

I wonder how hot the food was by the time it was served in the Great Hall? No microwave ovens here to give it a quick warm up before taking it to table!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

6th Sunday of Ordinary Time

In todays Gospel we read of Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Mount.

Jesus, Son of God and Mary,
Climbed a hill in Galilee.
There he taught his twelve disciples
With a fresh authority.
'Happy those who have a pure heart,
God my Father they shall see.'

Jesus, Word of God incarnate,
Climbed a mountain with the three.
As they saw the Lord transfigured
God revealed a mystery:
'See my Son, my dearly loved one,
Listen to him faithfully.'

Jesus, Lamb of God who suffered,
Climbed the hill that awesome day,
There he bore our shame and sorrow,
Slain to take our sin away;
'O forgive them, my dear Father!'
Words that he alone could say.

Jesus, risen King of glory,
Climbed the mountain to ascend
To his throne, in highest heaven,
Whence the Spirit would descend.
Alleluia! 'I am with you!
Now, and till all time shall end!'

Copyright: Peter Simpson (b 1953) / Jubilate Hymns

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Stirling Castle - 22

Work in the castle kitchens was hard in the sixteenth century. No modern equipment, and vast numbers to feed at banquets in the Great Hall.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Stirling Castle - 21

I think Stirling Castle is a real gem, but to me the jewel in the crown are the Great Kitchens.

The kitchens now contain a display showing how they would have appeared when in use in the sixteenth century. No Delia Smith recipe books here!

Thursday, 11 February 2010

Stirling Castle - 20

On high days this magnificent trophy takes pride of place at the dinner table.

The trophy commemorates battles won by the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders. I am sure that the officers who feast at table must often remember their friends killed in battle who were never able to dine in such splendour.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Stirling Castle - 19

Although life in the field can be tough, it has always been tradition to treat officers well when they are back home in the Regimental Headquarters.

Here we see some of the splendid silverware which graces the table at formal dinners in the Military Museum.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Stirling Castle - 18

Life in the army is often tough, dangerous, and uncomfortable.

This mock-up (inside the Museum) of a soldiers field accommodation during the First World War (1914-18) comes as quite a shock to many of us civilians living in the 21st century.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Stirling Castle - 17

Another splendid painting in the museum shows the Regiment proudly marching out of the main entrance to the Castle.

There is always something uplifting about seeing and hearing military pipers.

Hark when the night is falling,
Hear! hear the pipes are calling,
Loudly and proudly calling,
Down thro' the glen.
There where the hills are sleeping,
Now feel the blood a-leaping,
High as the spirits of the old Highland men.

Towering in gallant fame,
Scotland my mountain hame,
High may your proud standards gloriously wave,
Land of my high endeavour,
Land of the shining river,
Land of my heart for ever,
Scotland the brave.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

5th Sunday of Ordinary time

Today in the Gospel we hear about the miraculous haul of fish.

Follow me, follow me, leave your home and family,
leave your fishing nets and boats
upon the shore.
Leave the seed that you have sown,
Leave the crops that you’ve have grown,
leave the people you have known and follow me.

Foxes have their holes
and the swallows have their nests,
but the Son of Man has no place to lay down.
I do not offer comfort,
I do not offer wealth,
But in me will all happiness be found.

Follow me, follow me, leave your home and family,
leave your fishing nets and boats
upon the shore.
Leave the seed that you have sown,
Leave the crops that you’ve have grown,
leave the people you have known and follow me.

If you would follow me,
you must leave old ways behind.
You must take my Cross and
follow on my path.
You may be far from loved ones,
you may be far from home,
but my Father will welcome you at last.

Follow me, follow me, leave your home and family,
leave your fishing nets and boats
upon the shore.
Leave the seed that you have sown,
Leave the crops that you’ve have grown,
leave the people you have known and follow me.

Although I go away,
you will never be alone,
for the Spirit will be there to comfort you.
Though all of you may scatter,
each follow his own path,
still the Spirit of love will lead you home.

Follow me, follow me, leave your home and family,
leave your fishing nets and boats
upon the shore.
Leave the seed that you have sown,
Leave the crops that you’ve have grown,
leave the people you have known and follow me.

Michael Cockett (b.1938)

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Stirling Castle - 16

Inside the Museum, pride of place is given to this magnificent portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. Today is the 58th Anniversary of her accession to the throne. I am certainly looking forward to the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.

A Prayer for the Queen's Majesty

O Lord our heavenly Father,
high and mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, the only Ruler of princes,
who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth;
most heartily we beseech thee with thy favour
to behold our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen Elizabeth;
and so replenish her with the grace of thy Holy Spirit,
that she may alway incline to thy will, and walk in thy way:
endue her plenteously with heavenly gifts;
grant her in health and wealth long to live;
strengthen her that she may vanquish and overcome all her enemies;
and finally, after this life, she may attain everlasting joy and felicity;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The National Anthem

God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and Glorious,
Long to reign over us;
God save the Queen!

Thy choicest gifts in store
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign;
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the Queen!


Friday, 5 February 2010

Stirling Castle - 15

The main square of Stirling Castle is made up of the Great Hall, the Chapel Royal, the Royal Palace, and finally the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders Regimental Museum.

Be sure to visit this museum when you visit the Castle - it is quite a rabbit warren, and contains some fascinating exhibits.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Stirling Castle - 14

Directly opposite the Chapel Royal is the Royal Palace.

The Palace is being renovated at present, but I am assured it will be truly stunning when it is reopened to the public in 2011.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Stirling Castle - 13

Here we see the Chapel Royal laid out for a festive meal.

The Chapel Royal offers an area for dining for smaller groups or can be used for pre dinner drinks for groups dining in the Great Hall.

As well as dinners and receptions the Chapel Royal, with its large stage, provides an ideal setting for concerts and presentations.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Candlemas Day

Today is 40 days since Christmas Day, and so we celebrate the Presentation of Christ in the Temple.

Angels from the realms of glory,
Wing your flight o’er all the earth;
Ye who sang creation’s story
Now proclaim Messiah’s birth.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Shepherds, in the field abiding,
Watching o’er your flocks by night,
God with us is now residing;
Yonder shines the infant light:
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Sages, leave your contemplations,
Brighter visions beam afar;
Seek the great Desire of nations;
Ye have seen His natal star.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Saints, before the altar bending,
Watching long in hope and fear;
Suddenly the Lord, descending,
In His temple shall appear.
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

Though an Infant now we view Him,
He shall fill His Father’s throne,
Gather all the nations to Him;
Every knee shall then bow down:
Gloria, in excelsis Deo!

James Montgomery (1771-1854)

Happy Feast!

Monday, 1 February 2010

Stirling Castle - 12

Although the Chapel Royal is quite plain, it is brightened up by some colourful tapestries which hang on the North Wall.

These tapestries do not depict Biblical scenes - they are secular in nature.