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Mine eyes have seen thy salvation

Dear friends,

I love the Feast of Candlemas which falls on 2nd February (also known as The Feast of the Presentation of the Lord).  It is perhaps one of the lesser known feasts of the Church, but definitely worth celebrating.  In days gone by, Christmas decorations were taken down on Candlemas Eve.  Robert Merrick, a poet of the 17th Century, commemorated this with the following words: Down with the rosemary, and so; Down with the bays and mistletoe; Down with the holly, ivy, all; Wherewith ye dressed the Christmas hall.  Willie and I tried out keeping up the decorations until Candlemas last year, but I have to say we got a bit tired of our drooping tree towards the end. Traditionally, too, the candles of the Church have been blessed at Candlemas – some churches will do this, to this day.

As with any feast of the Church, however, the main reason to celebrate it is because of what it teaches us about our faith.  It is at Candlemas that we remember the examples of Simeon and Anna, those faithful servants of God who had looked for the coming of the Messiah, and had their long wait fulfilled the day that Jesus was presented in the Temple by his parents.  It is a moment we celebrate with every Evensong, and every time Compline (Night Prayer) is said, by recalling the words of Simeon as he held Jesus in his arms: ‘Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word. For mine eyes have seen thy salvation; Which Thou has prepared before the face of all people; To be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and to be the glory of thy people Israel’ (Luke 2: 29-32).

For me Simeon’s beautiful words of faith recall our own waiting and longing for the light of Christ; our own hopes and dreams of salvation fully realised.

This is what the coming of Christ means – light, and   salvation.  And in the reality of a world which seems sometimes so dark and chaotic, we are called, as Simeon did, to wait and watch for the revealing of Christ in unexpected moments of grace, and in the times when we clearly see His light dispelling the darkness.

We can invite more of the light of Christ into our lives too, through our words and actions.  As we come into the season of Lent, we may want to think about practising some new things to do that.  Lent as we know doesn’t have to be about giving something up- although that discipline can bring its own blessings! But we could consider doing something new – or something we used to do, but have forgotten about.  How about these for some ideas?:

Pray every day for someone you find it difficult to get on with

Send someone who’s struggling with illness, anxiety, frailty or bereavement a text, e-mail or a card with words of encouragement or support

Read and note how many times the word ‘Hope’ appears in the Letter to the Romans  – and write down a verse that particularly gives you hope

Free up an hour a week in your diary by writing ‘God’.  Spend time with him for that hour in prayer – and listen, too.

As we celebrate Candlemas, and observe the season of Lent,may God inspire us by his Holy Spirit to know him more and more, who is the glory of Israel and the light for all nations, Jesus Christ our Lord.





Remembrance Day, 2018

As a congregation, in August 2014, we marked the centenary of the outbreak of World War I with a service of readings, music and reflection.  A similar commemoration is proposed for the afternoon / evening of November 11th this year.  While the names of the Christ Church fallen will be honoured during our Eucharist earlier that day it is suggested that the focus of this service would be on our own family members.  Consequently members of the congregation are asked to submit the names of forebears who were killed or wounded as a result of enemy action or accident whether in uniform or engaged in other war work [merchant marine / munitions / medical services / etc.] during that conflict so that they may be named during the service.  [Names can be given to Frank Murray.]  This may be a joint service with St Catherine’s and St Mary’s.

Special services in February

There will be a Choral Evensong for Candlemas on Sunday 4th February at 6.30 pm with the ABI Singers, followed by refreshments.

We begin our Lenten observance with Ash Wednesday services on 14th February – at 10 am in the St Andrew’s Chapel, and at 7.30 pm in the Church.

Please support a West Forth Area Council service – ‘Songs of Praise’ – in aid of Kamuli School Lunches in Uganda, on Sunday 18th February at 3.00 pm at St Mary’s Grangemouth.   All of the churches in West Forth Area Council have been asked to contribute a couple of requests – willing victims will be identified!

Spectacles for Charity

Some time ago we collected our old spectacles and arranged to have them made available to a charity which distributed them to third world countries where it was difficult for people to have glasses.

Jan Wallace is now collecting glasses for that purpose once more.

Bring your old spectacles along and drop them into the box at the back of the church



A Mystery

I am glad to be able to say that I am nearing the end of my historical journey through the life of Christ Church.  My intention is to have it published by 13th April 2018 which will be exactly 154 years since its consecration.

Anyway, I have a little puzzle that I need help with.  I found this picture when I was looking through some of our records.  The handwritten piece beside it was written by Rev. Cannon Clark and implies that he found this in April 1963, and hadn’t seen it  before.  However, there was a longer note, (2 ½ pages) that  describes the reredos, of which I have the first half page, implies this was made for us.  Now after Rev. Ramsay died in 1956 a sum of money was donated to produce something in his memory

A reredos was an option, and indeed one was in place behind the altar until quite recently, and I wondered, at first, if this was a design that was considered.  However, Rev. Cannon Clark was the rector here when the question of a memorial to Rev. Ramsay was considered, so surely he would’ve been more specific in his notation if he knew what it was.

So I have questions, but no answer that entirely satisfies me at this point.  Can anyone help me?

Many thanks

Wendy Pemble


Christ Church Family Tree Update

The Church Hall is home to the Christ Church Family Tree which proudly displays the many members of our community. A beautiful reminder that ‘in Christ we, though many, form one body and each member belongs to all others.’ – Romans 12:5 NIV. It has been some time since it was updated. I will be taking photographs in the Hall after the 10:30 services on 4th & 18th Feb and at the next Afternoon Tea . Appreciating the limitations of my photography skills, you are more than welcome to send your photographs to my email address :


 I have also left a brown envelope at the back of the church where you can pop your photos in. Please write your name on the back and whether you would like the photo returned. If you’re happy with the one that’s up then there it will stay.

Nonee Mathe


The Roman month Februarius was named after the Latin term februum, which means purification, via the purification ritual Februa held on February 15 (full moon) in the old lunar Roman calendar. January and February were the last two months to be added to the Roman calendar, since the Romans originally considered winter a monthless period. They were added by Numa Pompilius about 713 BC. February remained the last month of the calendar year until the time of the decemvirs (c. 450 BC), when it became the second month. At certain intervals February was truncated to 23 or 24 days, and a 27-day intercalary month, Intercalaris, was inserted immediately after February to realign the year with the seasons.

February observances in Ancient Rome include Amburbium (precise date unknown, Sementivae (February 2), Februa (February 13–15), Lupercalia (February 13–15), Parentalia (February 13–22), Quirinalia (February 17), Feralia (February 21), Caristia (February 22), Terminalia (February 23), Regifugium (February 24), and Agonium Martiale (February 27).                                                                                          These days do not correspond to the modern Gregorian calendar.  Under the reforms that instituted the Julian calendar, Intercalaris was abolished, leap years occurred regularly every fourth year, and in leap years February gained a 29th day. Thereafter, it remained the second month of the calendar year, meaning the order that months are displayed (January, February, March, …, December) within a year-at-a-glance calendar. Even during the Middle Ages, when the numbered Anno Domini year began on March 25 or December 25, the second month was February whenever all twelve months were displayed in order. The Gregorian calendar reforms made slight changes to the system for determining which years were leap years and thus contained a 29-day February.

February is the third month of meteorological winter in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, February is the last month of summer (the seasonal equivalent of August in the Northern Hemisphere, in meteorological reckoning).

February may be pronounced either as FEB-ew-err-ee or /ˈfɛbruːˌɛri/ FEB-roo-err-ee). Many people pronounce it as ew rather than /ruː/ roo), as if it were spelled “Feb-u-ary”. This comes about by analogy with “January” (which ends in “-uary” but not “-ruary”), as well as by a dissimilation effect whereby having two “r”s close to each other causes one to change for ease of pronunciation


Candemas : 2nd February 2018

Candlemas commemorates the ritual purification of Mary, 40 days   after the birth of her son Jesus. This day also marks the ritual presentation of the baby Jesus to God in the Temple at Jerusalem.

The Gospel of Luke says that Jesus was met by Anna and Simeon. Simeon held the baby Jesus and called him a Light to the World.

Ritual purification stems back to a Jewish tradition that women were considered unclean after the birth of a child. For 40 days for a boy, and 60 days for a girl, women weren’t allowed to worship in the     temple. At the end of this time, women were brought to the Temple   or Synagogue to be purified. After the ceremony women were allowed to take part in religious services again.

The festival is called Candlemas because this was the day that all the Church’s candles for the year were blessed.

Like some other Christian festivals, Candlemas draws some of its  elements from Paganism.

In pre-Christian times, it was the festival of light. This ancient festival marked the mid point of winter, half way between the winter solstice (shortest day) and the spring equinox.

Some people lit candles to scare away evil spirits on the dark winter nights.

People believed that Candlemas predicted the weather for the rest of the winter.

Snowdrops (galanthas nivalis) are known as Candlemas Bells        because they often bloom early in the year, even before Candlemas.



The Kingdom of Heaven in Larbert

As part of my recovery from debilitating depression, two years ago I joined an art class at DELTA Studios, next door to the indoor go-cart track at Larbert Viaduct. It’s more than a class though – it’s a therapeutic community for all ages and all conditions – and for supposedly “normal” people too.  And I love it. Recently it occurred to me I love it because it’s like the best kind of church.  A safe, warm place welcoming everybody, young and old with a special place for broken, hurting people, as I was at the time.

Leading is Craig McKechnie, himself an experienced, accomplished artist. With his team they share their expertise, demonstrate techniques, providing the tools and materials and encouraging, without insisting you do it their way. Developing hidden talents, nurturing individual gifts and building self-confidence and self-worth.

There’s sketching, cartoons, watercolours, oil painting, clay moulding, papier mache, sculpting, dance, photography, an extensive art library and much, much more. Around noon most folks have a sandwich lunch together. During the sessions there’s periods of silence, chat, interspersed with background music from Classical, Sounds of the Seventies and Grunge.

Regular celebrations include joyous exhibitions, where people’s work is validated, and picnics, retreats and parties. And there’s always, always laughter.

Occasionally, someone in crisis might have difficulty controlling their frustration or pain but there’s acceptance of this too. And it’s handled skilfully in a protective environment where everyone feels safe. The kind of atmosphere where classmates spontaneously support and encourage each other.

Yes, the best kind of church, where outsiders feel made welcome. A church where our differences are accepted. Where we feel affirmed. Where there’s care for needy and hurting people and where we can express our distress in safety. Where there is skilful mentoring. Where our sleeping gifts are wakened. Where we share bread together. Where there is music and dancing and laughter.

In talking about our building project in his Quinquennial Project Report, Tom Ogilvie challenged us:

“We have to go right back to basics and look for radical solutions… considering what our role as Christians in the community is and how, in today’s society, we can best serve it.”

Going back to biblical basics in Acts chapter 2, church is described as something like Delta Studios:

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favour of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

Can we draw on the tradition of  the early believers and the contemporary example of DELTA and fulfil Christ’s call to love our neighbour?



The Vestry has agreed to join a network of groups in support of migrants and refugees, called With Refugees Scotland, co-ordinated by Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees (SFAR).  We are in the process of developing a statement of support with SFAR.  In the meantime, this is to let everyone know about this new initiative that we are joining in with:

What is it?

A network of local faith-based projects and congregations in Scotland that are committed to working for a culture of dignity for asylum seekers, refugees and migrants locally, nationally and globally.

Why is it called With Refugees Scotland?

It is often the empty handed stranger who turns out to be the bearer of the most priceless gifts.  We want to be known as people who stand in solidarity with refugees and migrants.  We acknowledge that in our congregations in Scotland there will be asylum seekers and refugees.  We share the stories of our sisters and brothers in other parts of the world who have been forced to leave their homes.  Our work is not simply about doing things for refugees, but living with them.

How does it work?

The local faith community discusses and agrees a statement of support by its decision-making body or usual authority.  Ideally this will be a short statement explaining why the issue is important to the local group, and a sentence “We commit to being part of the With Refugees Scotland network of Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees”.  The local faith community would then notify Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees of their decision and statement and would:

  • Provide at least two names and email address of people who can be kept in touch
  • Provide up to 200 words about their community and their work for the Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees website, including a photo (where possible) and any links that might be useful
  • Inform their members, staff, partners that they have joined the network and include mention in newsletters, on a website or whatever is appropriate
  • Agree to review the information held on an annual basis

What commitment is involved?

The idea for this network is to encourage and affirm work that is already taking place; it should not feel a burden or extra duty on people but rather a chance for existing work to be recognised, acknowledged and drawn together in a way which inspires and energises.  Members of the network will be asked that at least once every 12 months they do something practical and something spiritual.

Practical suggestions could include:

·         Offering space to meet for refugees or anti-racist movements

·         Encouraging members to support food, clothing or other projects that would benefit refugees

·         Encouraging volunteer opportunities for working with refugees

·         Arrange public talks, film showings or other events to raise awareness or interest

·         Support campaigns, lobbying or petitions

·         Fundraising through special events or at particular times of the year

·         Publicise and engage with Refugee Festival Scotland


Spiritual suggestions could include:

·         Special services, prayers or meditations on refugee or migration themes or at particular times of the year

·         Scriptural or theological study for members

·         Participate in interfaith dialogue or work on refugee or anti-racism themes

·         Provide services that support integration e.g. language class, befriending, intercultural dialogue

·         Join or publicise events and opportunities such as pilgrimages, interfaith events or share news and ideas from faith-based bodies that produce statements, prayers and stories.

What support would be on offer?

The Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees co-ordinator would be responsible for offering advice and support to the Network.  The website would list what activities had taken place over the last year.


An annual gathering for local representatives would take place to encourage sharing of ideas and building a sense of a movement. Regional meetings might also be arranged.

Scottish Faiths Action for Refugees is also working with England- based Christian groups including For Refugees, Quaker Meetings for Sanctuary, Welcome Churches and Churches Together in Britain and Ireland ideas for ‘Churches of Sanctuary’.

Rev Sarah

Lent Groups

‘I Knew a Man’

Plans are underway for singers from Christ Church, St Mary’s and St Catharine’s to participate in performances of ‘I Knew a Man,’ a musical performance related to The Passion, narrated by the Roman Centurion at the foot of the Cross.  It is very singable, and you don’t need to read music to join in.  Recordings of the music will be available.  There are also some solo parts for those who might like one.  The plan is to hold rehearsals during Lent, with a view to offering three performances of about an hour, one in each church, during Holy Week.  Participation in every performance is not obligatory, if that’s not possible for you.  Please come along on Sunday 11th February at 2.00 pm in the Hall to find out more.


The Community Bible Experience

The Community Bible Experience offers a new and refreshing way of reading Scripture.  We’re planning to read Luke – Acts during Lent, over four weeks beginning Wednesday 28th February, with the last one being on 21st March.  The Lent Groups will be at both Christ Church and at St Catharine’s Bo’ness.  The St Cath’s group will start at 2.30 pm and the Christ Church group will start at 7.30 pm.  You can come to whichever one suits you each week.  Sign up sheets will be available at the back of the Church from 28th January as we will order a copy of the book for you – £5 each.


And in other news….

Falkirk Trinity Church are hosting an evening with John Bell of the Iona Community – ‘Holy and Humourous,’ on 16th February.  This is in aid of Iona Abbey, famously restored by Rev George Macleod and volunteers in the 1930s and 40s. Fundraising is for a major building project.  See Trinity Church’s website for more details



Celebration of Hope

The grandson of Billy Graham, Will Graham, is coming to Falkirk   Stadium from June 15-17th for a ‘Celebration of Hope.’  Churches across the Falkirk area and beyond are invited to pray for and publicise this event, and to encourage people to invite their family and friends along to Falkirk Stadium.  The Vestry will discuss how Christ Church can support this at the next Vestry meeting.  More to follow… In the meantime do take a look the Youtube clip to get a flavour of Will Graham and his ministry:




 Christ Church’s website has had a draft makeover – we’re trying out a new ‘theme’ and would welcome feedback on what you think.  It is still a work in progress – we need to add some more pictures, for example – but in the meantime feedback on the ‘new look’ would be much appreciated!

Any ideas you have for additions to the website would be welcome.                                                                                            Comments can be posted at the back of the Church on the post it notes provided.