Wishing for a worldwide day of rest

I don't often quote Katy Perry in church, but I did recently. She told Cosmopolitan, 'I'd love if the world implemented an actual day of real rest'. What would such a day look like? 'I wish there was a thing like Shabbat...a kind of worldwide day where we're not on our phones'. In an era of hyper connectivity, there's an increasing realisation that a constant diet of beeps and notifications demanding our intention can't be healthy. In fact, the latest version of Apple's mobile operating system was released on Monday with a headline feature called Screen Time, which lets you keep track on exactly how much you're using your iPhone or iPad. Many of us are probably too scared to look. The technology of which we thought we were master has quickly made us its slaves. If you don't have a phone, just apply it to TV. Could you go a day without it?

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The idea of a worldwide day when we could put aside such distractions and focus on what's truly important sounds like a pipe dream, but it's actually part of God's design for the world. Perry references 'Shabbat' - the Jewish day of rest. But the Sabbath is no merely Jewish institution. It was put in place at the creation of the world, long before there were any Jews - in fact, before sin had even entered the world. Jesus himself reminds us that 'The Sabbath was made for man' - not just for one particular group of people.

Katy Perry said she would love to have such a day. But she does - if only she would realise it. It's one of God's greatest gifts to humanity - enshrined in the 10 commandments, and observed by God’s people in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. It's a reminder, both of the fact that God made us (and rested on the seventh day), and that Jesus died (and rose again on the first day) so we could be freed from the agenda of a dying world.

Removing the Lord's Day from our culture removes a weekly reminder of the reality of creation - and of the need for redemption.

Ultimately, it's a question of worship. Simon and Garfunkel sum up the choice of many: 'And the people bowed and prayed / to the neon god they made'. When you wake up on Sunday, who are you going to serve? 

Published in the Stranraer and Wigtownshire Free Press, 20th September 2018.

GO Team 2018

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This past weekend (24th-27th Aug) we welcomed Rachel, Ross, Eilidh, Heather, Jess, Nathan, Anah, Ken, Calvin and Sam on our annual GO Team. This year's team consisted of ten people - five from Scotland and five from Ireland! Six of them were here last year, and two were doing their very first team! We also had Jude around as an honorary team member!

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The main work of the team was to organise our Family Fun Day, but we fitted in a few other things when they were here, starting with a viewing of the movie 'Calvinist' with some of the congregation on Friday night.

The team joined the congregation for the prayer meeting and worship on the Lord's Day morning, followed by a church lunch.

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After lunch, we went round to Dalrymple Court (sheltered housing), where Stephen and Jude introduced some psalms, which we sang with the residents, before spending some time chatting with them. In the evening, the team were with the congregation for worship and supper afterwards.

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On Monday morning we had a prayer time, before heading to Glentrool in Galloway Forest Park to see the grave of six Covenanters who were shot while praying on 23 January 1685.

 The inscription reads: HERE LYES JAMES AND ROBERT DUNS, THOMAS AND JOHN STEVENSONS, JAMES McCLIVE ANDREU McCALL WHO WERE SURPRISED AT PRAYER IN THIS HOUSE BY COLONELL DOUGLAS LIEVTENANT LIVINGSTON AND JAMES DOUGLAS, AND BY THEM MOST IMPIOVSLY AND CRUELLY MURTHER'D FOR THEIR ADHERANCE TO SCOTLAND'S REFORMATION COVENANTS NATIONAL AND SOLEMN LEAGUE 1685.

The inscription reads: HERE LYES JAMES AND ROBERT DUNS, THOMAS AND JOHN STEVENSONS, JAMES McCLIVE ANDREU McCALL WHO WERE SURPRISED AT PRAYER IN THIS HOUSE BY COLONELL DOUGLAS LIEVTENANT LIVINGSTON AND JAMES DOUGLAS, AND BY THEM MOST IMPIOVSLY AND CRUELLY MURTHER'D FOR THEIR ADHERANCE TO SCOTLAND'S REFORMATION COVENANTS NATIONAL AND SOLEMN LEAGUE 1685.

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The monument surrounding the gravestone was 'erected by the voluntary contributions of a congregation who waited on the ministrations of the Rev. Gavin Rowatt of Whithorn' on 19th August 1827. Rowatt, a son of the manse, was RP minister at Whithorn from 1826 until his death in 1832 - he was only 30 years old.

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Back in Stranraer, we went to Belmont Care Home, and put on a musical performance for the residents, before finishing with a time of psalm singing.

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After that, there was just time for a Chinese takeaway before the team members departed via boat, train and car. It was a memorable weekend for the congregation and we're grateful to the GO team for coming and serving so willingly.

Family Fun Day: pictures & talks

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On Saturday, we held our second ever Church Family Fun Day, with the help of a GO Team (short term mission team).

In the morning, the team organised activities (Bible talk, craft, games etc) for children while Rev. David McCullough gave two very helpful talks to parents (and others!) on the topic 'Leading little ones to God'. The talks are available to listen to and download here.

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In the afternoon, there was a bouncy castle, face painting, and candy floss and popcorn-making for the kids, while the adults had a chance to sit around and chat.

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We finished things off with a BBQ, though no-one was in a rush home and people stayed behind chatting for a long time! We are grateful to God for the good weather, sense of fellowship. We also appreciated those from Glasgow, Airdrie and North Edinburgh who made the effort to be part of the  day - it was great to have people from all the mainland RPCS congregations!

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Church Family Fun Day

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Our Church Family Fun Day will take place on 25th August. In the morning, Rev. David McCullough will be giving two talks on the theme 'Leading little ones to God' - worshipping God as families. During his talks there will be activities organised for children. Then in the afternoon we will have a bouncy castle, candy floss makers etc for the younger ones will the adults have a chance to sit and chat. For more details see the poster above - all welcome!

Girls' Adventure Camp

This summer nine young people from three RPCS congregations attended Irish RP Junior Camps. Hannah, from our own congregation, was at Girls' Adventure Camp for the first time.

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You can read about how their experiences on the RPCS website. Here's what Hannah said:

The talks were on the book of James.  What was one thing you learned or remember about the talks?

Some of the topics we learned were: taming the tongue, submitting to God, and genuine faith.  We learned that there is no situation where prayer is not relevant, and that our quiet time is really important.

What was your favourite activity during the week?

My favourite activity was the powder paint fight – it was so fun; and the 500m zip wire was also amazing.

What was your favourite thing about Camp?

Overall I found making new friends and the talks were my favourite things about Girls Adventure Camp.