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Submission to His will

November 2006

Dear Friends,

Today has been a damp, drizzly day. The dark outline of the island of Raasay is gradually coming into focus, but, behind it, Skye still remains shrouded - not for nothing is it known as “Eilean a' Cheò”, the “Island of Mist”. Add to the dampness and the drizzle the stillness of a very calm day, and conditions are ideal for the West Highland midge, which, even this late in the season, appears to have lost none of its appetite for human blood.

In some ways, this is a far cry from Sandyford: it’s easy to reach for a cliché like “another world”. Certainly, in terms of landscape and visual impact, Applecross has little in common with the sandstone tenements and the bustling multi-ethnic street life of Finnieston and Yorkhill. But it would be a mistake to push the contrast too far. Part of the purpose of this publication is to encourage people to think theologically. From that perspective, the world is one, because “the earth is the Lord’s”, and wherever human beings are to be found is the arena of God’s saving intervention in the world’s chaos through the sending of his Son. The liberation from fallenness and futility takes place only through God’s powerful working by his Holy Spirit in individual human souls, applying to them the transforming dynamic of Christ’s death and resurrection, transferring them from the kingdom, the reign, of darkness to the kingdom, the reign, of his dear Son, into whose likeness they are progressively to grow. This is God’s great saving work, in which he urgently calls his Church, his redeemed people, to work trustfully and obediently along with him.

It therefore follows that the proclamation of the Gospel, and a telling testimony to its power, are as much needed in sparsely populated rural areas as in the teeming cities. The geographically huge parish of Applecross, Lochcarron, Shieldaig, Torridon and Kinlochewe has been without a parish minister since last November, and the Associate Minister, David Scott, who has been here for twelve and a half years, has recently been elected to the linked charge of Fearn and Tarbat in Easter Ross. Last night we were privileged to attend the farewell evening arranged for him in Lochcarron Public Hall.

Ecclesiastical changes and the movements of people do not in any degree slacken the force of the Divine summons to engage in work and witness and patient, persevering prayer, whether the immediate environment is scenic and majestic or urban and seedy. Jesus says, “the field is the world” (Matthew 13: 38) So as the quickening pace of things at this time of year, with the arrival of a new wave of students in the universities and colleges, and the launching of new programmes in the congregation’s activities, call us all at Sandyford to devote our energies anew to the Lord’s work, we do well to give ourselves to a fresh submission to his will and a renewed reliance on his power.

In the 18th century, John Wesley, taking his cue from the 17th century English Puritans, introduced the early Methodist societies to the practice of annually renewing their covenant with God. This is still a feature of Methodist practice at the beginning of each New Year. At the heart of the service is this prayer of surrender and consecration which we might all profitably make our own at the beginning of this new session:

I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will,
rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
exalted for you or brought low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed Lord,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant made on earth
let it be ratified in Heaven. Amen.

It has been a great privilege and blessing for me to have been, in a small way, a colleague of Peter’s in the preaching and pastoral ministry, and for both Evelyn and myself to have been “ingrafted” into the Sandyford fellowship, over these past months.. We look forward to the strengthening of these bonds in the coming days, and pray that the Sandyford congregation, both in Glasgow and wherever God’s call takes its members, will experience much of the Lord’s love and power as the months unroll.

Yours sincerely,

Ken MacDonald

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