Letter from Scotland 3– Scotland – Return to St Peters
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It was touch and go – but we made it! I have been looking forward to being back in St Peters – for three years! Everything was all arranged for the 15th but covid intervened and it was questionable whether I would be able to make it at all. Thankfully I was able to preach at the morning service – although it wasn’t the best sermon every preached in St Pete’s – and to meet as many of the people as possible. Annabel and I loved being back. It was deeply moving – in lots of ways – how could it be otherwise in a congregation you have served for 27 years?!
For those who are interested here is the video of the service – (the sermon begins about the half hour mark).
There are so many reasons to be thankful.
- I am thankful to see the congregation stable and growing. Whilst I knew most of the people it was good to meet several new people – including some African and Chinese students – and several new local Dundee people. The diversity in race, social class, age, gender is a real testimony to the grace of Christ and the power of the Spirit. The beauty of Christ is evident.
- I am thankful that the Lord has provided pastors in Andy Pearson and Will Lind and their families.
- I am thankful for the children. It was beautiful to see them three years older – still in church and still clearly enjoying it. And to see new children – and to pray with and for them all.
- Although there was sorrow in knowing that some people were no longer there – there was joy in knowing that they had gone to be with the Lord – and a joy to see the older faithful people who are still serving the Lord.
- It was good to preached to a relatively full church – and to meet people I had baptised as babies who are now grown up, and serving the Lord with their own families.
- There were spiritual warriors who we had fought together with – battled and bloodied – but still there. It was good to share scars and healing!
- It was also good to meet those who have now moved on from St Peters – but are serving the Lord elsewhere. We rejoice in the growth of his kingdom.
- One fruit of the ministry in St Pete’s is the church plant in Charleston. We were not able to be at their service – but we did visit the minister and his family! I cannot think of anything more important in Scotland than planting churches in the poorer housing estates.
- I don’t like to mention individuals, but it really did lift my heart and spirit to see Sinclair – my former colleague in the work. To most people he is the famous preacher, pastor and writer from Scotland and the US. To me he will always be the friend, brother, colleague, elder and preacher who brought so much of Christ’s wisdom and beauty to the congregation in general, and yours truly in particular.
- Finally – the cherry on the cake was speaking with a Jewish man who had started coming to the church just before we left. He was a man I had a real respect and affection for. I was delighted to see him there, even more so to hear he is getting married, and I was rejoicing with the angels in heaven when at the end of the service, he met with the elders to profess his faith in Christ! Nothing compares to this. McCheyne had a deep and passionate love for the Jewish people. I baptised a Jewish woman in St Peters a few years after I arrived. McCheyne would be rejoicing that the people he travelled six months to share the Gospel with – are now coming to faith in his church! Cast your bread on the waters and after many years it will return to you!
None of this is to imply that St Peters is perfect. Far from it. There are lots of issues and problems – and things to be concerned about. St Peters, like all churches, is a church full of sinners. And the surrounding culture is not an easy one to minister in. The one thing I do know is this – when the Lord is at work the backlash and spiritual warfare will be fierce. But it is also a place of security, comfort and joy in Christ – and I hope and pray it will continue to be so. I miss it. But am thankful that we were part of it for so long. I came away encouraged and thankful…we have moved on, and so have the congregation – but they will always be part of our lives.
Now we have to cram everything into the last couple of weeks!
See you next week,
Yours in Christ
We drove past our old house on the way to Charleston. The street hasn’t changed a bit – but I did feel a sorrow that a home where I had prayed to Christ for 27 years is apparently now one where a false god is prayed to.