Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Lent - 43

Spy Wednesday finds us in Edinburgh. Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland. It is the second largest city in Scotland and the seventh-most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council is one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The city council area includes urban Edinburgh and a 30-square-mile (78 km2) rural area.

Located in the south-east of Scotland, Edinburgh lies on the east coast of the Central Belt, along the Firth of Forth, near the North Sea. Owing to its spectacular, rugged setting and vast collection of Medieval and Georgian architecture, including numerous stone tenements, it is often considered one of the most picturesque cities in Europe.

Edinburgh is the seat of the Scottish Parliament. The city was one of the major centres of the Enlightenment, led by the University of Edinburgh, earning it the nickname Athens of the North. The Old Town and New Town districts of Edinburgh were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. There are over 4,500 listed buildings within the city.

In the 2008 mid year population estimates, Edinburgh had a total resident population of 471,650. Edinburgh is well-known for the annual Edinburgh Festival, a collection of official and independent festivals held annually over about four weeks from early August. The number of visitors attracted to Edinburgh for the Festival is roughly equal to the settled population of the city. The most famous of these events are the Edinburgh Fringe (the largest performing arts festival in the world), the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, and the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Other events include the Hogmanay street party (31 December), Burns Night (25 January), St. Andrew's Day (30 November), and the Beltane Fire Festival (30 April).

The city attracts 1 million overseas visitors a year, making it the second most visited tourist destination in the United Kingdom, after London. In a 2009 YouGov poll, Edinburgh was voted the "most desirable city in which to live in the UK".

"Make an altar of acacia wood for burning incense. It is to be square, a cubit long and a cubit wide, and two cubits high —its horns of one piece with it. Overlay the top and all the sides and the horns with pure gold, and make a gold moulding around it. Make two gold rings for the altar below the molding—two on opposite sides—to hold the poles used to carry it. Make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. Put the altar in front of the curtain that is before the ark of the Testimony—before the atonement cover that is over the Testimony—where I will meet with you.

"Aaron must burn fragrant incense on the altar every morning when he tends the lamps. He must burn incense again when he lights the lamps at twilight so incense will burn regularly before the LORD for the generations to come. Do not offer on this altar any other incense or any burnt offering or grain offering, and do not pour a drink offering on it. Once a year Aaron shall make atonement on its horns. This annual atonement must be made with the blood of the atoning sin offering for the generations to come. It is most holy to the LORD."

Then the LORD said to Moses, "When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them. Each one who crosses over to those already counted is to give a half shekel, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. This half shekel is an offering to the LORD. All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the LORD. The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the LORD to atone for your lives. Receive the atonement money from the Israelites and use it for the service of the Tent of Meeting. It will be a memorial for the Israelites before the LORD, making atonement for your lives." (Exodus 30.1-16)

There is a green hill far away,
outside a city wall,
where our dear Lord was crucified
who died to save us all.

We may not know, we cannot tell,
what pains he had to bear,
but we believe it was for us
he hung and suffered there.

He died that we might be forgiven,
he died to make us good,
that we might go at last to heaven,
saved by his precious blood.

There was no other good enough
to pay the price of sin,
he only could unlock the gate
of heaven and let us in.

O dearly, dearly has he loved!
And we must love him too,
and trust in his redeeming blood,
and try his works to do.

Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895)

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Lent - 42

We have now arrived at Queensferry. Queensferry (often referred to as South Queensferry to distinguish it from North Queensferry), originally a Royal Burgh in West Lothian, is now part of the City of Edinburgh, Scotland. It is located some ten miles to the north west of the city centre, on the shore of the Firth of Forth between the Forth Bridge and the Forth Road Bridge, approximately 8 miles (13 km) from Edinburgh Airport. In 2001 the town's population is around 12,000 people.

The town is named after Saint Margaret of Scotland who used to cross the firth by ferry from "Queen's Ferry" to visit her chapel in Edinburgh Castle. She died in 1093 and made her final journey by ferry to Dunfermline Abbey. Her son, David I of Scotland, awarded the ferry rights to the abbey.

There had been ferries at South Queensferry until 1964 when the Forth Road Bridge was opened. Ferry services continue to run from the harbour to the islands within the Firth of Forth, including Inchcolm.

"This is what you are to do to consecrate them, so they may serve me as priests: Take a young bull and two rams without defect. And from fine wheat flour, without yeast, make bread, and cakes mixed with oil, and wafers spread with oil. Put them in a basket and present them in it—along with the bull and the two rams. Then bring Aaron and his sons to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting and wash them with water. Take the garments and dress Aaron with the tunic, the robe of the ephod, the ephod itself and the breastpiece. Fasten the ephod on him by its skillfully woven waistband. Put the turban on his head and attach the sacred diadem to the turban. Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head. Bring his sons and dress them in tunics and put headbands on them. Then tie sashes on Aaron and his sons. The priesthood is theirs by a lasting ordinance. In this way you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.

"Bring the bull to the front of the Tent of Meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. Slaughter it in the LORD's presence at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. Take some of the bull's blood and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour out the rest of it at the base of the altar. Then take all the fat around the inner parts, the covering of the liver, and both kidneys with the fat on them, and burn them on the altar. But burn the bull's flesh and its hide and its offal outside the camp. It is a sin offering.

"Take one of the rams, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. Slaughter it and take the blood and sprinkle it against the altar on all sides. Cut the ram into pieces and wash the inner parts and the legs, putting them with the head and the other pieces. Then burn the entire ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the LORD by fire.

"Take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Then sprinkle blood against the altar on all sides. And take some of the blood on the altar and some of the anointing oil and sprinkle it on Aaron and his garments and on his sons and their garments. Then he and his sons and their garments will be consecrated.

"Take from this ram the fat, the fat tail, the fat around the inner parts, the covering of the liver, both kidneys with the fat on them, and the right thigh. (This is the ram for the ordination.) From the basket of bread made without yeast, which is before the LORD, take a loaf, and a cake made with oil, and a wafer. Put all these in the hands of Aaron and his sons and wave them before the LORD as a wave offering. Then take them from their hands and burn them on the altar along with the burnt offering for a pleasing aroma to the LORD, an offering made to the LORD by fire. After you take the breast of the ram for Aaron's ordination, wave it before the LORD as a wave offering, and it will be your share.

"Consecrate those parts of the ordination ram that belong to Aaron and his sons: the breast that was waved and the thigh that was presented. This is always to be the regular share from the Israelites for Aaron and his sons. It is the contribution the Israelites are to make to the LORD from their fellowship offerings.

"Aaron's sacred garments will belong to his descendants so that they can be anointed and ordained in them. The son who succeeds him as priest and comes to the Tent of Meeting to minister in the Holy Place is to wear them seven days.

"Take the ram for the ordination and cook the meat in a sacred place. At the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, Aaron and his sons are to eat the meat of the ram and the bread that is in the basket. They are to eat these offerings by which atonement was made for their ordination and consecration. But no one else may eat them, because they are sacred. And if any of the meat of the ordination ram or any bread is left over till morning, burn it up. It must not be eaten, because it is sacred.

"Do for Aaron and his sons everything I have commanded you, taking seven days to ordain them. Sacrifice a bull each day as a sin offering to make atonement. Purify the altar by making atonement for it, and anoint it to consecrate it. For seven days make atonement for the altar and consecrate it. Then the altar will be most holy, and whatever touches it will be holy.

"This is what you are to offer on the altar regularly each day: two lambs a year old. Offer one in the morning and the other at twilight. With the first lamb offer a tenth of an ephah of fine flour mixed with a quarter of a hin of oil from pressed olives, and a quarter of a hin of wine as a drink offering. Sacrifice the other lamb at twilight with the same grain offering and its drink offering as in the morning—a pleasing aroma, an offering made to the LORD by fire.

"For the generations to come this burnt offering is to be made regularly at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting before the LORD. There I will meet you and speak to you; there also I will meet with the Israelites, and the place will be consecrated by my glory.

"So I will consecrate the Tent of Meeting and the altar and will consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests. Then I will dwell among the Israelites and be their God. They will know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of Egypt so that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God. (Exodus 29.1-46)

Once, only once, and once for all,
his precious life he gave;
before the cross in faith we fall,
and own it strong to save.

"One offering, single and complete,"
with lips and hearts we say;
but what he never can repeat
he shows forth day by day.

For as the priest of Aaron's line
within the holiest stood,
and sprinkled all the mercy shrine
with sacrificial blood;

So he, who once atonement wrought,
our Priest of endless power,
presents himself for those he bought
in that dark noontide hour.

His manhood pleads where now it lives
on heaven's eternal throne,
and where in mystic rite he gives
its presence to his own.

And so we show thy death, O Lord,
till thou again appear,
and feel, when we approach thy board,
we have an altar here.

William Bright, 1866

Monday, 29 March 2010

Lent - 41

Monday in Holy Week finds us in Kirkcaldy. Kirkcaldy is a town and former royal burgh in Fife, on the east coast of Scotland. It lies on a shallow bay on the northern shore of the Firth of Forth and is the largest settlement between the cities of Dundee and Edinburgh. Kirkcaldy has long been nicknamed the Lang Toun (Scots for 'long town') in reference to the 0.9 mile (1.4 km) main street of the early town, depicted so on maps as early as the 16th and 17th centuries. The street would eventually reach a length of four miles (6.4 km). The estimated population of Kirkcaldy was 48,108in 2001, making this the largest town in Fife.

Towards the end of the 11th century, Malcolm III purchased the land around the modern town to gift to the monks of the Holy Trinity (now known as Dunfermline Abbey) to fund for the building of their new church. A linear settlement began to form around a harbour on the East Burn. Early industries which soon prospered in the town included the production of textiles, nail-making and salt panning. The passing of feu-ferme status in the middle of the 15th century meant the town became semi-independent from the monks of Dunfermline Abbey. Full independence was achieved by a charter for royal burgh status granted by Charles II in 1644.

During the late 19th century, the town became a prosperous centre of linoleum. Originally developed in the town as floorcloth, this was quickly dominated by the Michael Nairn & Co but did not become popular across a worldwide scale until the beginning of the 20th century. Other industries such as coal, flour, malt, printing, light electrical engineering and furniture manufacturing rose in prominence.

After the Second World War, a plan saw new housing estates being built to the north-west of the town along with multi-storey flats and the redevelopment of older areas such as Gallatown, Sinclairtown and Pathhead. The population of the town was expected to reach between 55,000 and 70,000, but this was shattered when the production of linoleum declined in the middle of the 1960s.

"Make the robe of the ephod entirely of blue cloth, with an opening for the head in its center. There shall be a woven edge like a collar around this opening, so that it will not tear. Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe. Aaron must wear it when he ministers. The sound of the bells will be heard when he enters the Holy Place before the LORD and when he comes out, so that he will not die.

"Make a plate of pure gold and engrave on it as on a seal:HOLY TO THE LORD. Fasten a blue cord to it to attach it to the turban; it is to be on the front of the turban. It will be on Aaron's forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be. It will be on Aaron's forehead continually so that they will be acceptable to the LORD.

"Weave the tunic of fine linen and make the turban of fine linen. The sash is to be the work of an embroiderer. Make tunics, sashes and headbands for Aaron's sons, to give them dignity and honour. After you put these clothes on your brother Aaron and his sons, anoint and ordain them. Consecrate them so they may serve me as priests.

"Make linen undergarments as a covering for the body, reaching from the waist to the thigh. Aaron and his sons must wear them whenever they enter the Tent of Meeting or approach the altar to minister in the Holy Place, so that they will not incur guilt and die.

"This is to be a lasting ordinance for Aaron and his descendants. (Exodus 28.31-43)

Who is this with garments gory,
Triumphing from Bozrah’s way;
This that weareth robes of glory,
Bright with more than victory’s ray?
Who is this unwearied comer
From his journey’s sultry length,
Traveling through Idumè’s summer
In the greatness of his strength?

Wherefore red in thine apparel
Like the conquerors of the earth,
And arrayed like those who carol
O’er the reeking vineyard’s mirth?
Who art thou, the valleys seeking
Where our peaceful harvests wave?
“I, in righteous anger speaking,
I, the mighty One to save.”

“I, that of the raging heathen
Trod the winepress all alone,
Now in victor garlands wreathen
Coming to redeem Mine own:
I am He with sprinkled raiment,
Glorious for My vengeance hour,
Ransoming, with priceless payment,
And delivering with power.”

Hail! All hail! Thou Lord of Glory!
Thee, our Father, Thee we own;
Abraham heard not of our story,
Israel ne’er our Name hath known.
But, Redeemer, Thou hast sought us,
Thou hast heard Thy children’s wail,
Thou with Thy dear blood hast bought us:
Hail! Thou mighty Victor, hail!

Bishop A Cleveland Coxe (1818-1896)

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Lent - 40

We have arrived at St Andrews for our Palm Sunday Procession. St Andrews is a university town and former royal burgh on the east coast of Fife in Scotland. The town is named after Saint Andrew the Apostle. St Andrews had a population of 16,596 in 2001, making this the fifth largest settlement in Fife.

There has been an important church in St Andrews since at least the 8th century, and a bishopric since at least the 11th century. The settlement grew to the west of St Andrews cathedral with the southern side of the Scores to the north and the Kinness burn to the south. The burgh soon became the ecclesiastical capital of Scotland, a position which was held until the Scottish Reformation. The famous cathedral, the largest in Scotland, now lies in ruins.

Today, St Andrews is known worldwide as the "home of golf". This is in part because the Royal and Ancient Golf Club, founded in 1754, exercises legislative authority over the game worldwide (except in the United States and Mexico), and also because the famous links (acquired by the town in 1894) is the most frequent venue for The Open Championship, the oldest of golf's four major championships. Visitors travel to St Andrews in great numbers for several courses ranked amongst the finest in the world, as well as for the sandy beaches.

The town is also home to the University of St Andrews, the third oldest university in the English-speaking world and one of the UK's most prestigious. The University is an integral part of the burgh, and during term time students make up approximately one third of the town's population.

"Have Aaron your brother brought to you from among the Israelites, along with his sons Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, so they may serve me as priests. Make sacred garments for your brother Aaron, to give him dignity and honour. Tell all the skilled men to whom I have given wisdom in such matters that they are to make garments for Aaron, for his consecration, so he may serve me as priest. These are the garments they are to make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a woven tunic, a turban and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother Aaron and his sons, so they may serve me as priests. Have them use gold, and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen.

"Make the ephod of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen—the work of a skilled craftsman. It is to have two shoulder pieces attached to two of its corners, so it can be fastened. Its skillfully woven waistband is to be like it—of one piece with the ephod and made with gold, and with blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and with finely twisted linen.

"Take two onyx stones and engrave on them the names of the sons of Israel in the order of their birth—six names on one stone and the remaining six on the other. Engrave the names of the sons of Israel on the two stones the way a gem cutter engraves a seal. Then mount the stones in gold filigree settings and fasten them on the shoulder pieces of the ephod as memorial stones for the sons of Israel. Aaron is to bear the names on his shoulders as a memorial before the LORD. Make gold filigree settings and two braided chains of pure gold, like a rope, and attach the chains to the settings.

"Fashion a breastpiece for making decisions—the work of a skilled craftsman. Make it like the ephod: of gold, and of blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and of finely twisted linen. It is to be square—a span long and a span wide—and folded double. Then mount four rows of precious stones on it. In the first row there shall be a ruby, a topaz and a beryl; in the second row a turquoise, a sapphire and an emerald; in the third row a jacinth, an agate and an amethyst; in the fourth row a chrysolite, an onyx and a jasper. [ Mount them in gold filigree settings. There are to be twelve stones, one for each of the names of the sons of Israel, each engraved like a seal with the name of one of the twelve tribes.

"For the breastpiece make braided chains of pure gold, like a rope. Make two gold rings for it and fasten them to two corners of the breast-piece. Fasten the two gold chains to the rings at the corners of the breast-piece, and the other ends of the chains to the two settings, attaching them to the shoulder pieces of the ephod at the front. Make two gold rings and attach them to the other two corners of the breastpiece on the inside edge next to the ephod. Make two more gold rings and attach them to the bottom of the shoulder pieces on the front of the ephod, close to the seam just above the waistband of the ephod. The rings of the breastpiece are to be tied to the rings of the ephod with blue cord, connecting it to the waistband, so that the breastpiece will not swing out from the ephod.

"Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the LORD. Also put the Urim and the Thummim in the breastpiece, so they may be over Aaron's heart whenever he enters the presence of the LORD. Thus Aaron will always bear the means of making decisions for the Israelites over his heart before the LORD. (Exodus 28.1-30)

Ride on! ride on in majesty!
Hark! all the tribes hosanna cry;
O Saviour meek, pursue thy road
with palms and scattered garments strowed.

Ride on! ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die;
O Christ, thy triumphs now begin
o'er captive death and conquered sin.

Ride on! ride on in majesty!
The angel-squadrons of the sky
look down with sad and wondering eyes
to see the approaching sacrifice.

Ride on! ride on in majesty!
Thy last and fiercest strife is nigh;
the Father on his sapphire throne
expects his own anointed Son.

Ride on! ride on in majesty!
In lowly pomp ride on to die;
bow thy meek head to mortal pain,
then take, O God, thy power, and reign.

Henry Hart Milman (1791-1868)

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Lent - 39

We have arrived in Dundee. Dundee is the fourth-largest city in Scotland (after Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Aberdeen) and, fully named as Dundee City, one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. It lies on the north bank of the Firth of Tay, which feeds into the North Sea.

Evidence suggests Dundee has been continuously occupied since the Mesolithic. The town developed into a burgh in Medieval times, and expanded rapidly in the 19th century largely due to the jute industry. This, along with its other major industries gave Dundee its epithet as the city of "jam, jute and journalism".

In mid-2006, the population of Dundee City was estimated to be 141,930, with a metropolitan population of 159,522. Dundee's recorded population reached a peak of 182,204 at the time of the 1971 census, but has since declined due to outward migration.

Today, Dundee is promoted as the City of Discovery, in honour of Dundee's history of scientific activities and of the RRS Discovery, Robert Falcon Scott's Antarctic exploration vessel, which was built in Dundee and is now berthed in the city harbour. Biomedical and technological industries have arrived since the 1980s, and the city now accounts for 10% of the United Kingdom's digital-entertainment industry. Dundee has two universities—the University of Dundee and the University of Abertay Dundee.

"Build an altar of acacia wood, three cubits high; it is to be square, five cubits long and five cubits wide. Make a horn at each of the four corners, so that the horns and the altar are of one piece, and overlay the altar with bronze. Make all its utensils of bronze—its pots to remove the ashes, and its shovels, sprinkling bowls, meat forks and firepans. Make a grating for it, a bronze network, and make a bronze ring at each of the four corners of the network. Put it under the ledge of the altar so that it is halfway up the altar. Make poles of acacia wood for the altar and overlay them with bronze. The poles are to be inserted into the rings so they will be on two sides of the altar when it is carried. Make the altar hollow, out of boards. It is to be made just as you were shown on the mountain.

"Make a courtyard for the tabernacle. The south side shall be a hundred cubits long and is to have curtains of finely twisted linen, with twenty posts and twenty bronze bases and with silver hooks and bands on the posts. The north side shall also be a hundred cubits long and is to have curtains, with twenty posts and twenty bronze bases and with silver hooks and bands on the posts.

"The west end of the courtyard shall be fifty cubits wide and have curtains, with ten posts and ten bases. On the east end, toward the sunrise, the courtyard shall also be fifty cubits wide. Curtains fifteen cubits long are to be on one side of the entrance, with three posts and three bases, and curtains fifteen cubits long are to be on the other side, with three posts and three bases.

"For the entrance to the courtyard, provide a curtain twenty cubits long, of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen—the work of an embroiderer—with four posts and four bases. All the posts around the courtyard are to have silver bands and hooks, and bronze bases. The courtyard shall be a hundred cubits long and fifty cubits wide, with curtains of finely twisted linen five cubits high, and with bronze bases. All the other articles used in the service of the tabernacle, whatever their function, including all the tent pegs for it and those for the courtyard, are to be of bronze.

"Command the Israelites to bring you clear oil of pressed olives for the light so that the lamps may be kept burning. In the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony, Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come. (Exodus 27.1-21)

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning
Give me oil in my lamp, I pray
Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning
Keep me burning 'til the break of day

Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
Sing hosanna to the King of Kings
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
Sing hosanna to the King of Kings

Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising
Give me joy in my heart, I pray
Give me joy in my heart, keep me praising
Keep me praising 'til the break of day

Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
Sing hosanna to the King of Kings
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
Sing hosanna to the King of Kings

Give me peace in my heart, keep me resting
Give me peace in my heart, I pray
Give me peace in my heart, keep me resting
Keep me resting 'til the break of day

Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
Sing hosanna to the King of Kings
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
Sing hosanna to the King of Kings

Give me love in my heart, keep me serving
Give me love in my heart, I pray
Give me love in my heart, keep me serving
Keep me serving 'til the break of day

Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
Sing hosanna to the King of Kings
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna
Sing hosanna to the King of Kings

Traditional Spiritual

We are now ready to celebrate Palm Sunday at the next break of day!

Friday, 26 March 2010

Lent - 38

We have now arrived at Arbroath. Arbroath is a former royal burgh and the largest town in the council area of Angus in Scotland, and in 2001 had a population of 22,785. It lies on the North Sea coast, around 16 miles (25.7 km) ENE of Dundee and 45 miles (72.4 km) SSW of Aberdeen.

While there is evidence for settlement of the area now occupied by the town that dates back to the Iron Age, Arbroath's history as a town begins in the High Middle Ages with the founding of Arbroath Abbey in 1178.

Arbroath grew considerably during the Industrial Revolution owing to the expansion of firstly the flax and secondly the jute industries and the engineering sector. A new harbour was built in 1839 and by the 1900s, Arbroath had become one of the larger fishing ports in Scotland.

The town is notable as the home of the Declaration of Arbroath, as well as the Arbroath Smokie - a most suitable fish for this Lenten Friday.

"Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim worked into them by a skilled craftsman. All the curtains are to be the same size—twenty-eight cubits long and four cubits wide. Join five of the curtains together, and do the same with the other five. Make loops of blue material along the edge of the end curtain in one set, and do the same with the end curtain in the other set. Make fifty loops on one curtain and fifty loops on the end curtain of the other set, with the loops opposite each other. Then make fifty gold clasps and use them to fasten the curtains together so that the tabernacle is a unit.

"Make curtains of goat hair for the tent over the tabernacle—eleven altogether. All eleven curtains are to be the same size—thirty cubits long and four cubits wide. Join five of the curtains together into one set and the other six into another set. Fold the sixth curtain double at the front of the tent. Make fifty loops along the edge of the end curtain in one set and also along the edge of the end curtain in the other set. Then make fifty bronze clasps and put them in the loops to fasten the tent together as a unit. As for the additional length of the tent curtains, the half curtain that is left over is to hang down at the rear of the tabernacle. The tent curtains will be a cubit longer on both sides; what is left will hang over the sides of the tabernacle so as to cover it. Make for the tent a covering of ram skins dyed red, and over that a covering of hides of sea cows.

"Make upright frames of acacia wood for the tabernacle. Each frame is to be ten cubits long and a cubit and a half wide, 17 with two projections set parallel to each other. Make all the frames of the tabernacle in this way. Make twenty frames for the south side of the tabernacle and make forty silver bases to go under them—two bases for each frame, one under each projection. For the other side, the north side of the tabernacle, make twenty frames and forty silver bases—two under each frame. Make six frames for the far end, that is, the west end of the tabernacle, and make two frames for the corners at the far end. At these two corners they must be double from the bottom all the way to the top, and fitted into a single ring; both shall be like that. So there will be eight frames and sixteen silver bases—two under each frame.

"Also make crossbars of acacia wood: five for the frames on one side of the tabernacle, five for those on the other side, and five for the frames on the west, at the far end of the tabernacle. The centre crossbar is to extend from end to end at the middle of the frames. Overlay the frames with gold and make gold rings to hold the crossbars. Also overlay the crossbars with gold.

"Set up the tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain.

"Make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim worked into it by a skilled craftsman. Hang it with gold hooks on four posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold and standing on four silver bases. Hang the curtain from the clasps and place the ark of the Testimony behind the curtain. The curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Put the atonement cover on the ark of the Testimony in the Most Holy Place. Place the table outside the curtain on the north side of the tabernacle and put the lampstand opposite it on the south side.

"For the entrance to the tent make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen—the work of an embroiderer. Make gold hooks for this curtain and five posts of acacia wood overlaid with gold. And cast five bronze bases for them. (Exodus 26.1-37)

We love the place, O God,
Wherein Thine honour dwells;
The joy of Thine abode
All earthly joy excels.

It is the house of prayer
Wherein Thy servants meet;
And Thou, O Lord, art there
Thy chosen flock to greet.

We love the sacred font;
For there the holy Dove
To pour is ever wont
His blessings from above.

We love Thine altar, Lord;
Oh, what on earth so dear?
For there, in faith adored
We find Thy presence near.

We love the Word of life,
The Word that tells of peace,
Of comfort in the strife,
And joys that never cease.

We love to sing below
For mercies freely giv’n;
But, oh, we long to know
The triumph song of Heav’n.

Lord Jesus, give us grace
On earth to love Thee more,
In Heav’n to see Thy face,
And with Thy saints adore.

W Bullock (1798-1874) and Sir H W Baker (1821-1877)

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Lent - 37

We have now arrived at Montrose for our celebration of the Annunciation of the Lord. Montrose is a Scottish coastal resort town and former royal burgh in Angus. It is situated 38 miles (61 km) north east of Dundee between the mouths of the North and South Esk rivers. It is the northernmost coastal town in Angus and developed at a natural harbour that traded in skins, hides and cured salmon in medieval times.

With a population of approximately 12,000, the town functions as a port, but the major employer is GlaxoSmithKline, recently saved from closure. The skyline of Montrose is dominated by the 220 foot steeple, designed by James Gillespie Graham and built between 1832 and 1834.

Montrose is a town with a wealth of architecture, and is a centre for international trade. It is an important commercial port for the thriving oil and gas industry. It it known for its wide thoroughfare and high street which leads to picturesque closes containing secluded gardens.

The town has a view of a two square mile tidal lagoon, Montrose Basin, which is considered a nature reserve of international importance. It is the largest inland salt water basin in the UK, and an important habitat for the mute swan. Just outside Montrose is the 18th Century House of Dun, designed by the Scottish architect William Adam and built in 1730 for David Erskine, 13th Laird of Dun.

The LORD said to Moses, "Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give. These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and hides of sea cows; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breast-piece.

"Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.

"Have them make a chest of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it. Cast four gold rings for it and fasten them to its four feet, with two rings on one side and two rings on the other. Then make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. Insert the poles into the rings on the sides of the chest to carry it. The poles are to remain in the rings of this ark; they are not to be removed. Then put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you.

"Make an atonement cover of pure gold—two and a half cubits long and a cubit and a half wide. And make two cherubim out of hammered gold at the ends of the cover. Make one cherub on one end and the second cherub on the other; make the cherubim of one piece with the cover, at the two ends. The cherubim are to have their wings spread upward, overshadowing the cover with them. The cherubim are to face each other, looking toward the cover. Place the cover on top of the ark and put in the ark the Testimony, which I will give you. There, above the cover between the two cherubim that are over the ark of the Testimony, I will meet with you and give you all my commands for the Israelites.

"Make a table of acacia wood—two cubits long, a cubit wide and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold and make a gold molding around it. Also make around it a rim a handbreadth wide and put a gold molding on the rim. Make four gold rings for the table and fasten them to the four corners, where the four legs are. The rings are to be close to the rim to hold the poles used in carrying the table. Make the poles of acacia wood, overlay them with gold and carry the table with them. And make its plates and dishes of pure gold, as well as its pitchers and bowls for the pouring out of offerings. Put the bread of the Presence on this table to be before me at all times.

"Make a lampstand of pure gold and hammer it out, base and shaft; its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms shall be of one piece with it. Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch, and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. And on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. One bud shall be under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold.

"Then make its seven lamps and set them up on it so that they light the space in front of it. Its wick trimmers and trays are to be of pure gold. A talent of pure gold is to be used for the lampstand and all these accessories. See that you make them according to the pattern shown you on the mountain. (Exodus 25.1-40)

The angel Gabriel from heaven came,
his wings as drifted snow, his eyes as flame;
"All hail," said he, "thou lowly maiden Mary,
most highly favoured lady," Gloria!

"For know a blessed Mother thou shalt be,
all generations laud and honour thee,
thy Son shall be Emmanuel, by seers foretold,
most highly favoured lady," Gloria!

Then gentle Mary meekly bowed her head,
"To me be as it pleaseth God," she said,
"my soul shall laud and magnify his holy Name."
Most highly favoured lady, Gloria!

Of her, Emmanuel, the Christ, was born
in Bethlehem, all on a Christmas morn,
and Christian folk throughout the world will ever say--
"Most highly favoured lady," Gloria!

Words: Basque Carol
trans. Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924)

Happy Feast!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Lent - 36

We have left the bustling city of Aberdeen behind, and arrived at Stonehaven. Stonehaven is a town in Aberdeenshire, it lies on Scotland's northeast coast and had a population of 9,577 in the 2001 census.

Stonehaven, county town of Kincardineshire, grew around an Iron Age fishing village, now the "Auld Toon" ("old town"), and expanded inland from the Seaside. As late as the 16th century, old maps indicate the town was called Stonehyve or Stonehive.
The town is served by Stonehaven railway station.

The town's Haven Fish Bar was the likely origin of the Deep-fried Mars Bar, a snack now culturally associated with Scotland - and its health record - as a whole. The premises are now the award-winning Carron fish and chip shop.

Then he said to Moses, "Come up to the LORD, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, but Moses alone is to approach the LORD; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him."

When Moses went and told the people all the LORD's words and laws, they responded with one voice, "Everything the LORD has said we will do." Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said.

He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the LORD. Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he sprinkled on the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, "We will do everything the LORD has said; we will obey."

Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, "This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words."

Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself. But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.

The LORD said to Moses, "Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and commands I have written for their instruction."

Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. He said to the elders, "Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them."

When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the LORD looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights. (Exodus 24.1-18)

Forty days and forty nights
Thou wast fasting in the wild;
Forty days and forty nights
Tempted, and yet undefiled.

Sunbeams scorching all the day;
Chilly dew-drops nightly shed;
Prowling beasts about Thy way;
Stones Thy pillow; earth Thy bed.

Should not we Thy sorrow share
And from worldly joys abstain,
Fasting with unceasing prayer,
Strong with Thee to suffer pain?

Then if Satan on us press,
Jesus, Saviour, hear our call!
Victor in the wilderness,
Grant we may not faint nor fall!

So shall we have peace divine:
Holier gladness ours shall be;
Round us, too, shall angels shine,
Such as ministered to Thee.

Keep, O keep us, Saviour dear,
Ever constant by Thy side;
That with Thee we may appear
At the eternal Eastertide.

G H Smyttan 1825-1870

Eastertide is getting very close - only another ten days to go on our Lenten pilgrimage - and of course the three last days are not strictly speaking part of Lent.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Lent - 35

We are now in Aberdeen. Aberdeen is Scotland's third most populous city and one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. It has an official population estimate of 210,400.

Nicknames include the Granite City, the Grey City and the Silver City with the Golden Sands. During the mid-18th to mid-20th centuries, Aberdeen's buildings incorporated locally quarried grey granite, whose mica deposits sparkle like silver. The city has a long, sandy coastline. Since the discovery of North Sea oil in the 1970s, other nicknames have been the Oil Capital of Europe or the Energy Capital of Europe.

The area around Aberdeen has been settled for at least 8000 years, when prehistoric villages lay around the mouths of the rivers Dee and Don.

In 1319, Aberdeen received Royal Burgh status from Robert the Bruce, transforming the city economically. The city's two universities, the University of Aberdeen, founded in 1495, and the Robert Gordon University, which was awarded university status in 1992, make Aberdeen the educational centre of the north-east.

The traditional industries of fishing, paper-making, shipbuilding, and textiles have been overtaken by the oil industry and Aberdeen's seaport. Aberdeen Heliport is one of the busiest commercial heliports in the world and the seaport is the largest in the north-east of Scotland.

Aberdeen has won the Britain in Bloom competition a record breaking ten times, and hosts the Aberdeen International Youth Festival, a major international event which attracts up to 1000 of the most talented young performing arts companies.

"Do not spread false reports. Do not help a wicked man by being a malicious witness.

"Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd, and do not show favouritism to a poor man in his lawsuit.

"If you come across your enemy's ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him. If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help him with it.

"Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.

"Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the righteous.

"Do not oppress an alien; you yourselves know how it feels to be aliens, because you were aliens in Egypt.

"For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops, but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what they leave. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.

"Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed.

"Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.

"Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me.

"Celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in that month you came out of Egypt.
"No one is to appear before me empty-handed.

"Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field.
"Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.

"Three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD.

"Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast.
"The fat of my festival offerings must not be kept until morning.

"Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God.
"Do not cook a young goat in its mother's milk. (Exodus 23.1-19)

Fair waved the golden corn,
In Canaan’s pleasant land,
When full of joy, some shining morn,
Went forth the reaper band.

To God so good and great
Their cheerful thanks they pour;
Then carry to His temple gate
The choicest of their store.

Like Israel, Lord, we give
Our earliest fruits to Thee,
And pray that, long as we shall live,
We may Thy children be.

Thine is our youthful prime,
And life and all its powers,
Be with us in our morning time,
And bless our evening hours.

In wisdom let us grow,
As years and strength are given,
That we may serve Thy Church below,
And join Thy saints in Heaven.

J Hampden Gurney 1802-1862

Monday, 22 March 2010

Lent - 34

We have now arrived at Peterhead. Peterhead is a town in Aberdeenshire, having a population of 17,947 at the 2001 Census. It sits at the easternmost point in mainland Scotland. Peterhead is often referred to as 'The Blue Toon' and people who were born there as Blue Tooners, supposedly from the blue worsted stockings that the fishermen originally wore.

Peterhead was founded by fishermen and was developed as a planned settlement. In 1593 the construction of Peterhead's first harbour, Port Henry, encouraged the growth of Peterhead as a fishing port and established a base for trade. A lifeboat station was first established in 1865.

Peterhead prison was opened in 1888, gaining a reputation as one of Scotland's toughest prisons.

A new phase of growth was initiated in the 1970s with Peterhead becoming a major oil industry service centre, and the completion of the nearby St Fergus gas terminal. At this time, considerable land holdings were allocated for industrial development.

In recent times, the town has suffered from several high profile company closures and is facing a number of pressures, including Common Fisheries Policy reforms. However, it retains a relatively diverse economy, including food processing, textiles, service industries and, still importantly, fishing. (Over 90,000 tonnes of fish, with a value of around £60m are now landed at Peterhead, which is still also base to over 550 fishermen.)

Peterhead Bay Authority plan to extend the northern breakwater as a stimulus to the town's economic development.

"These are the laws you are to set before them:

"If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.

"But if the servant declares, 'I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,' then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.

"If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do. If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.

"Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate. But if a man schemes and kills another man deliberately, take him away from my altar and put him to death.

"Anyone who attacks his father or his mother must be put to death.

"Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.

"Anyone who curses his father or mother must be put to death.

"If men quarrel and one hits the other with a stone or with his fist and he does not die but is confined to bed, the one who struck the blow will not be held responsible if the other gets up and walks around outside with his staff; however, he must pay the injured man for the loss of his time and see that he is completely healed.

"If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

"If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman's husband demands and the court allows. But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.

"If a man hits a manservant or maidservant in the eye and destroys it, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the eye. And if he knocks out the tooth of a manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the tooth.

"If a bull gores a man or a woman to death, the bull must be stoned to death, and its meat must not be eaten. But the owner of the bull will not be held responsible. If, however, the bull has had the habit of goring and the owner has been warned but has not kept it penned up and it kills a man or woman, the bull must be stoned and the owner also must be put to death. However, if payment is demanded of him, he may redeem his life by paying whatever is demanded. This law also applies if the bull gores a son or daughter. If the bull gores a male or female slave, the owner must pay thirty shekels of silver to the master of the slave, and the bull must be stoned.

"If a man uncovers a pit or digs one and fails to cover it and an ox or a donkey falls into it, the owner of the pit must pay for the loss; he must pay its owner, and the dead animal will be his.

"If a man's bull injures the bull of another and it dies, they are to sell the live one and divide both the money and the dead animal equally. However, if it was known that the bull had the habit of goring, yet the owner did not keep it penned up, the owner must pay, animal for animal, and the dead animal will be his. (Exodus 21.1-36)

Son of God, eternal Saviour,
Source of life and truth and grace,
Son of Man, whose birth among us
hallows all our human race,
thou, our Head, who, throned in glory,
for thine own dost ever plead,
fill us with thy love and pity,
heal our wrongs and help our needs.

As thou, Lord, hast lived for others
so may we for others live;
freely have thy gifts been granted,
freely may thy servants give.
Thine the gold and thine the silver,
thine the wealth of land and sea,
we but stewards of thy bounty,
held in solemn trust for thee.

Come, O Christ, and reign among us,
King of Love and Prince of Peace,
hush the storm of strife and passion,
bid its cruel discords cease;
by thy patient years of toiling,
by thy silent hours of pain,
quench our fevered thirst of pleasure,
shame our selfish greed of gain.

Dark the path that lies behind us,
strewn with wrecks and stained with blood;
but before us gleams the vision
of the coming brotherhood.
See the Christlike host advancing,
high and lowly, great and small,
linked in bonds of common service
for the common Lord of all.

Son of God, eternal Saviour,
Source of life and truth and grace,
Son of Man, whose birth among us
hallows all our human race,
thou who prayedst, thou who willest
that thy people should be one,
grant, O grant our hope's fruition:
here on earth thy will be done.

Somerset Corry Lowry (1855-1932)

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Lent - 33

We take our Sabbath rest at Fraserburgh. Fraserburgh is a town in Aberdeenshire, Scotland with a population recorded in the 2001 Census at 12,454. It lies at the extreme northeast corner of Aberdeenshire, around 40 miles (64 km) north of Aberdeen, and 17 miles (27 km) north of Peterhead. It is the largest shellfish port in Europe, landing over 12,000 tonnes in 2008, and is also a major white fish port and busy commercial harbour.

The town has several attractions including an award winning sand beach,a major harbour, the lighthouse museum, heritage centre and a variety of amenities and facilities. It is home to the famous Kinnaird Head lighthouse/castle.

Fraserburgh also has a variety of churches including; three Church of Scotland congregations (Old Parish, South Church and West Church), four Pentecostal churches (Elim Pentecostal, Assembly of God, Calvary Church and Emmanual Christian Fellowship), as well as Baptist, Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Congregational, Brethren and Bethesda Evangelical Church and the Salvation Army. Not a bad place to spend Sunday!

And God spoke all these words:

1. "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before me.

2. "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand of those who love me and keep my commandments.

3. "You shall not misuse the name of the LORD your God, for the LORD will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

4. "Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

5. "Honour your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.

6. "You shall not murder.

7. "You shall not commit adultery.

8. "You shall not steal.

9. "You shall not give false testimony against your neighbour.

10. "You shall not covet your neighbour's house. You shall not covet your neighbour's wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour."

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die."

Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning."

The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Tell the Israelites this: 'You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

" 'Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honoured, I will come to you and bless you. If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it. And do not go up to my altar on steps, lest your nakedness be exposed on it.' (Exodus 20.1-26)

Holy God, we praise Thy Name;
Lord of all, we bow before Thee!
All on earth Thy sceptre claim,
All in Heaven above adore Thee;
Infinite Thy vast domain,
Everlasting is Thy reign.

Hark! the loud celestial hymn
Angel choirs above are raising,
Cherubim and seraphim,
In unceasing chorus praising;
Fill the heavens with sweet accord:
Holy, holy, holy, Lord.

Lo! the apostolic train
Join the sacred Name to hallow;
Prophets swell the loud refrain,
And the white robed martyrs follow;
And from morn to set of sun,
Through the Church the song goes on.

Holy Father, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit, Three we name Thee;
While in essence only One,
Undivided God we claim Thee;
And adoring bend the knee,
While we own the mystery.

Thou art King of glory, Christ:
Son of God, yet born of Mary;
For us sinners sacrificed,
And to death a tributary:
First to break the bars of death,
Thou has opened Heaven to faith.

From Thy high celestial home,
Judge of all, again returning,
We believe that Thou shalt come
In the dreaded doomsday morning;
When Thy voice shall shake the earth,
And the startled dead come forth.

Therefore do we pray Thee, Lord:
Help Thy servants whom, redeeming
By Thy precious blood out-poured,
Thou hast saved from Satan’s scheming.
Give to them eternal rest
In the glory of the blest.

Spare Thy people, Lord, we pray,
By a thousand snares surrounded:
Keep us without sin today,
Never let us be confounded.
Lo, I put my trust in Thee;
Never, Lord, abandon me.

Based on the Te Deum.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Lent - 32

We have now arrived at Elgin. Elgin is a former cathedral city and Royal Burgh in Moray, Scotland and is the administrative and commercial centre for Moray. The town originated to the south of the River Lossie on the higher ground above the flood plain. Elgin is first documented in the Cartulary of Moray in 1190. It was created a Royal Burgh in the 12th century by King David I of Scotland and by that time had a castle on top of the present day Lady Hill to the west of the city.

The Elgin – Forres – Lossiemouth triangle is heavily dependent on the Royal Air Force stations for its employment of civilians. In 2005, RAF Lossiemouth along with its neighbour RAF Kinloss contributed £156.5 million (including civilian expenditure) to the Moray economy, of which £76.6 million was retained and spent locally. The bases are responsible for providing, directly or indirectly, 21 per cent of all employment in the area. Other areas offering significant employment are local authority, construction and real estate, food and drink, tourism, transport, business services and wholesale/retail.

In a recent study, Elgin was shown to be one of the most expensive towns in which to buy property in Scotland.

In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on the very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.

Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, "This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 'You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites."

So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, "We will do everything the LORD has said." So Moses brought their answer back to the LORD.

The LORD said to Moses, "I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you." Then Moses told the LORD what the people had said.

And the LORD said to Moses, "Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, 'Be careful that you do not go up the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain shall surely be put to death. He shall surely be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on him. Whether man or animal, he shall not be permitted to live.' Only when the ram's horn sounds a long blast may they go up to the mountain."

After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. Then he said to the people, "Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations."

On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, the whole mountain trembled violently, and the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder. Then Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.

The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up and the LORD said to him, "Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the LORD and many of them perish. Even the priests, who approach the LORD, must consecrate themselves, or the LORD will break out against them."

Moses said to the LORD, "The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, 'Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.' "

The LORD replied, "Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the LORD, or he will break out against them."

So Moses went down to the people and told them. (Exodus 19.1-25)

When God of old came down from heaven,
in power and wrath he came;
before his feet the clouds were riven,
half darkness and half flame:

But when he came the second time,
he came in power and love;
softer than gale at morning prime
hovered his holy Dove.

The fires, that rushed on Sinai down
in sudden torrents dread,
now gently light, a glorious crown,
on every sainted head.

And as on Israel's awestruck ear
the voice exceeding loud,
the trump that angels quake to hear,
thrilled from the deep, dark cloud;

So, when the Spirit of our God
came down his flock to find,
a voice from heaven was heard abroad,
a rushing, mighty wind.

It fills the Church of God; it fills
the sinful world around;
only in stubborn hearts and wills
no place for it is found.

Come Lord, come Wisdom, Love and Power,
open our ears to hear;
let us not miss the accepted hour;
save, Lord, by love or fear.

Words: John Keble, 1827

Friday, 19 March 2010

Lent - 31

We have now completed two-thirds of our Lenten pilgrimage, and have arrived at Nairn for our celebration of St Joseph's Day. Nairn is a town and former burgh in the Highland council area of Scotland. It is an ancient fishing port and market town around 16 miles (26 km) east of Inverness. It was the county town of the wider county of Nairn also known as Nairnshire.

The town is now best known as a seaside resort, with two golf courses, a small theatre and one small museum, providing information on the local area and incorporating the collection of the former Fishertown museum.

Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt.

After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her and her two sons. One son was named Gershom, for Moses said, "I have become an alien in a foreign land"; and the other was named Eliezer, for he said, "My father's God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh."

Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, together with Moses' sons and wife, came to him in the desert, where he was camped near the mountain of God. Jethro had sent word to him, "I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons."

So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. Moses told his father-in-law about everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel's sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the LORD had saved them.

Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. He said, "Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly." Then Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses' father-in-law in the presence of God.

The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, "What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?"

Moses answered him, "Because the people come to me to seek God's will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God's decrees and laws."

Moses' father-in-law replied, "What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people's representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied."

Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.

Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country. (Exodus 18.1-27)

Dismiss me not Thy service, Lord,
But train me for Thy will;
For even I, in fields so broad,
Some duties may fulfill;
And I will ask for no reward,
Except to serve Thee still.

All works are good, and each is best
As most it pleases Thee;
Each worker pleases, when the rest
He serves in charity;
And neither man nor work unblest
Wilt Thou permit to be.

Our Master all the work hath done
He asks of us today;
Sharing his service, every one
Share too His Sonship may:
Lord, I would serve and be a son;
Dismiss me not, I pray.

T T Lynch 1818-1871

Happy Feast!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Lent - 30

We have now arrived at Inverness, which gives me a chance to call in at home for a change of socks before I continue with the rest of my Lenten pilgrimage! This is the view of Inverness from Culloden - close to where I live.

Inverness (from the Scottish Gaelic: Inbhir Nis, meaning 'mouth of the River Ness') is a city in northern Scotland. The city is the administrative centre for the Highland council area, and is promoted as the capital of the Highlands of Scotland. The city lies near the site of the 18th century Battle of Culloden and at the northeastern extremity of the Great Glen, where the River Ness enters the Inverness/Moray Firth making it a natural hub for various transport links. It is the northernmost city in the United Kingdom. A settlement was established by the 6th century with the first royal charter being granted by King David I in the 12th century.

The population of Inverness increased by over 10% from 1991-2001 with an estimated population in 2006 of 54,000. (This figure of 54,000 is made up of the population of the census administrative area known as Inverness which was estimated at 46,100 plus the estimated 7,900 people living in the immediately adjacent urban settlement of the Culloden census administrative area - an area which covers Westhill, Smithton and Balloch as well as Culloden.) The city is forecast to grow by approximately 40% over the next two decades. Inverness is Europe's fastest growing city and ranked fifth out of 189 British cities for its quality of life, the highest of any Scottish city.

Inverness College is the main campus for the UHI Millennium Institute and offers one of the widest ranging curricula in Scotland. With around 8,500 students, Inverness College hosts around a quarter of all the University of the Highlands and Islands' students, and 30% of those studying to degree level. I do some part-time lecturing in economics at the College - that is when I am not on pilgrimage!

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink."

Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?"

But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?"

Then Moses cried out to the LORD, "What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me."

The LORD answered Moses, "Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink." So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?"

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, "Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands."

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven."

Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner. He said, "For hands were lifted up to the throne of the LORD. The LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation." (Exodus 17.1-16)

Lord, teach us how to pray aright,
with reverence and with fear;
though dust and ashes in thy sight,
we may, we must draw near.

We perish if we cease from prayer,
O grant us power to pray!
And when to meet thee we prepare,
Lord, meet us by the way.

God of all grace, we bring to thee
a broken, contrite heart;
give, what thine eye delights ot see,
truth in the inward part.

Faith in the only sacrifice
that can for sin atone;
to build our hopes, to fix our eyes,
on Christ, on Christ alone;

Patience to watch and wait and weep,
though mercy long delay;
courage our fainting souls to keep,
and trust thee though thou slay.

Give these, and then thy will be done;
thus strengthened with all might,
we through thy Spirit and thy Son,
shall pray, and pray aright.

James Montgomery, 1819

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Lent - 29

We have now arrived at Cromarty for our celebration of St Patrick's Day. It was previously the county town of the former county of Cromartyshire.The burgh is a seaport on the southern shore of the mouth of Cromarty Firth, 5 miles from Invergordon on the opposite coast.

The town grew around its port, formerly used by ferries, to export locally-grown hemp fibre (from cannabis), and by trawlers trawling for herrings. The port was a British naval base during WW1 and H.M.S. Natal blew up close by on 30 December 1915 with heavy loss of life.

The port is home to the UK's smallest vehicle ferry, running across the Firth to Nigg (home to a large facility formerly used for the manufacture and maintenance of oil platforms and an oil terminal connected to the Beatrice oilfield). It runs from June to October, from roughly 8.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. The vessel is called the Cromarty Rose.

Cromarty is architecturally important for its Georgian merchant houses that stand within a townscape of Georgian and Victorian fisherman's cottages in the local vernacular style. It is an outstanding example of a 18th/19th century burgh 'the jewel in the crown of Scottish Vernacular Architecture'. The thatched house with crow-stepped gables in Church Street, in which the geologist Hugh Miller was born (in 1801), still stands, and a statue has been erected to his memory. To the east of the burgh is Cromarty House, occupying the site of the old castle of the earls of Ross. It was the birthplace of Sir Thomas Urquhart, the translator of Rabelais.

The burgh is also noted as a base for viewing the local offshore sea life. These include one of the most northerly groups of bottlenose dolphins. Cromarty along with Chanonry Point just round the coast is one of the best places in Europe to see these animals close to the shore. The University of Aberdeen Department of Zoology Lighthouse Field Station is based in Cromarty.
Cromarty gives its name to one of the British Sea Areas used to provide weather forecasts to shipping.

Each morning everyone gathered as much as he needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. He said to them, "This is what the LORD commanded: 'Tomorrow is to be a day of rest, a holy Sabbath to the LORD. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.' "

So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. "Eat it today," Moses said, "because today is a Sabbath to the LORD. You will not find any of it on the ground today. Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any."

Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. Then the LORD said to Moses, "How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? Bear in mind that the LORD has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where he is on the seventh day; no one is to go out." So the people rested on the seventh day.

The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. Moses said, "This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the desert when I brought you out of Egypt.' "

So Moses said to Aaron, "Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the LORD to be kept for the generations to come."

As the LORD commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna in front of the Testimony, that it might be kept. The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.
(Exodus 16.21-35)

Happy Feast!

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Lent - 28

Today we are standing outside Dornoch Cathedral. Dornoch is a town and seaside resort, and former Royal burgh in the Highlands of Scotland, on the north shore of the Dornoch Firth, close to where it opens into the Moray Firth to the east. The town is within the Highland local government council area, and within the former county of Sutherland.

The town is near the A9 road, to which it is linked by the A949 and the B9168.

Dornoch boasts the thirteenth-century Dornoch Cathedral, the Old Town Jail, and the previous Bishop's Palace which is now the well-known hotel, Dornoch Castle and a notable golf course, the Royal Dornoch Golf Club, named the 5th best golf course outside the United States in 2005 by Golf Digest magazine. It is also notable as the last place a witch was burnt in Scotland. Her name was Janet Horne; she was tried and condemned to death in 1727. There is a stone, the Witch's Stone, commemorating her death, inscribed with the year 1722. Legendary golf course designer Donald Ross began his career as a greenkeeper on the Royal Dornoch links.

Dornoch used to be connected to the main railway network at The Mound via a light railway. The railway was opened on 2 June 1902. Stations on the line were Dornoch, Embo, Skelbo, Cambusavie Halt and The Mound Junction. The stations were closed on 13 June 1960.

On 21 December 2000, the pop star Madonna had her son Rocco christened in Dornoch Cathedral, the day before her wedding to Guy Ritchie in nearby Skibo Castle.

The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the LORD's hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death."

Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days."

So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, "In the evening you will know that it was the LORD who brought you out of Egypt, and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?" Moses also said, "You will know that it was the LORD when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the LORD."

Then Moses told Aaron, "Say to the entire Israelite community, 'Come before the LORD, for he has heard your grumbling.' "

While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the LORD appearing in the cloud.

The LORD said to Moses, "I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, 'At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.' "

That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, "What is it?" For they did not know what it was.

Moses said to them, "It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. This is what the LORD has commanded: 'Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.' "

The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed.

Then Moses said to them, "No one is to keep any of it until morning."

However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them. (Exodus 16.1-20)

Guide me, O thou great Redeemer,
Pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but thou art mighty,
Hold me with thy powerful hand;
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through:
Strong deliverer, strong deliverer;
Be thou still my strength and shield;
Be thou still my strength and shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of death, and hell's destruction
Land me safe on Canaan's side:
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to thee;
I will ever give to thee.

W Williams 1717-1791

Monday, 15 March 2010

Lent - 27

We are now in Helmsdale - the home village of Mgr Basil Loftus. Helmsdale is a village in the Highland Council area of Scotland. It lies on the east coast of Sutherland, in the Scottish Highlands. The modern village was planned in 1814 to resettle communities that had been removed from the surrounding straths as part of the Highland Clearances.

It is a fishing port at the estuary of the Helmsdale river, and was once the home of one of the largest herring fleets in Europe. The river itself is well known for its fishing.

The village is on the A9 road, at a junction with the A897, and has a railway station on the Far North Line. Facilities include an independent youth hostel, a heritage centre, an art gallery, and an inn.

Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "What are we to drink?"

Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

There the LORD made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them. He said, "If you listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you."

Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water. (Exodus 15.22-27)

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Lent - 26

We are spending Laetare Sunday resting at Wick. Wick is an estuary town and a royal burgh in the north of the Highland council area of Scotland. Historically, it is one of two burghs within the county of Caithness, of which Wick was the county town.

The town straddles the River Wick and extends along both sides of Wick Bay. It had a population of 7,333 in the 2001 census. Pulteneytown, which was developed on the south side of the river by the British Fisheries Society during the 19th century, was officially merged into the burgh in 1902.

The town is on the main highway (the A99-A9 road) linking John o' Groats with southern Britain. The Far North railway line links Wick railway station with southern Britain and with Thurso, the other burgh of Caithness. Wick Airport is on Wick's northern outskirts. The airport has two usable runways.

The main offices of The John o'Groat Journal and The Caithness Courier are located in Wick, as are Caithness General Hospital (run by NHS Highland), the Wick Carnegie Library and local offices of the Highland Council. Wick Sheriff Court is one of 16 sheriff courts serving the sheriffdom of Grampian, Highland and Islands.

Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD :
"I will sing to the LORD,
for he is highly exalted.
The horse and its rider
he has hurled into the sea.
The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father's God, and I will exalt him.

The LORD is a warrior;
the LORD is his name.

Pharaoh's chariots and his army
he has hurled into the sea.
The best of Pharaoh's officers
are drowned in the Red Sea.

The deep waters have covered them;
they sank to the depths like a stone.

"Your right hand, O LORD,
was majestic in power.
Your right hand, O LORD,
shattered the enemy.

In the greatness of your majesty
you threw down those who opposed you.
You unleashed your burning anger;
it consumed them like stubble.

By the blast of your nostrils
the waters piled up.
The surging waters stood firm like a wall;
the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.

"The enemy boasted,
'I will pursue, I will overtake them.
I will divide the spoils;
I will gorge myself on them.
I will draw my sword
and my hand will destroy them.'

But you blew with your breath,
and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
in the mighty waters.

"Who among the gods is like you, O LORD ?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
working wonders?

You stretched out your right hand
and the earth swallowed them.

"In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling.

The nations will hear and tremble;
anguish will grip the people of Philistia.

The chiefs of Edom will be terrified,
the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling,
the people of Canaan will melt away;

terror and dread will fall upon them.
By the power of your arm
they will be as still as a stone—
until your people pass by, O LORD,
until the people you bought pass by.

You will bring them in and plant them
on the mountain of your inheritance—
the place, O LORD, you made for your dwelling,
the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established.

The LORD will reign
for ever and ever."

When Pharaoh's horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the LORD brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground.

Then Miriam the prophetess, Aaron's sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her, with tambourines and dancing.

Miriam sang to them:

"Sing to the LORD,
for he is highly exalted.
The horse and its rider
he has hurled into the sea." (Exodus 15.1-21)

O praise our great and gracious Lord
and call upon his Name;
to strains of joy tune every chord,
his mighty acts proclaim;
tell how he led his chosen race
to Canaan's promised land;
tell how his covenant of grace
unchanged shall ever stand.

He gave the shadowing cloud by day,
the moving fire by night;
to guide his Israel on their way,
he made their darkness light;
and have not we a sure retreat,
a Saviour ever nigh,
the same clear light to guide our feet,
the Dayspring from on high?

We too have Manna from above,
the Bread that came from heaven;
to us the same kind hand of love
hath living waters given.
A Rock we have, from whence the spring
in rich abundance flows;
that Rock is Christ, our Priest, our King,
who life and health bestows.

O let us prize this blessèd food,
and trust our heavenly Guide;
so shall we find death's fearful flood
serene as Jordan's tide,
and safely reach that happy shore,
the land of peace and rest,
where angels worship and adore,
in God's own presence blest.

Harriet Auber (1773-1862)

Happy Sunday!