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Message from the Moderator of Edinburgh Presbytery - July 2021

Dear Friends,

The late, great Norma Ronald DCS, who served the Church of Scotland in many different capacities over her long life, was latterly the pastoral assistant at Morningside Parish Church, a job she took up because, she told me, “I’m bored and I don’t fancy working at a supermarket check-out!” It was one of the best appointments we made. Down-to-earth, never backward at coming forward with her views, she blended in well with the life of my congregation and became a valued friend and support to many. Norma had sharp eyes for soft pastoral concerns, and with me, usually around this time of year, she would often say, “So then, Derek, have you got your next holiday planned?” A sign that I was being more than usually snappy, ratty and terse, and needing a break.

After the year all of us have had, I wonder how many of us are, ‘living on fumes’? Locked down, or partially locked down, the working and the living for all of us has continued in different ways, but at the same pace, or even faster. Some have found the isolation refreshing and positive, but are now ambivalent towards, or even dreading, the return to social living and working. Others, myself included, have found the long months of isolation draining and
depressing, missing the mixing with people, and the interaction that goes with that, which is so much more than simply getting business done. I’m not sure how long it will last after restrictions are removed, but I long for meetings where I can be with, and see, the whole person, without the mask, and not at a six foot, seven inches distance (that’s two metres in old money for the young people…)

But now, I am tired, and I suspect in different ways most of us are tired. We need the sabbath rest of a holiday, or a changing of gears, or different scenery even if we’re not leaving the country. For some significant time off will not be possible, and the need for even the shortest of breaks will be even more necessary. Knowing the signifiant work and business that faces the Presbytery in the second half of this year, this has never been more important.

I am drawn to the words of Jesus at this time, well-known, but with a particular application for each one of us:

“Come to Me, all who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:29-30)

However, wherever and whenever you find that time to take a break, refresh your life, your ideas, your heart, I pray that these summer weeks will allow that necessary change of focus we all require in order that we may find the strength, the courage, and the hope, to continue moving onwards in to God’s continually unfolding Kingdom.

With my prayers and every best wish for these summer weeks.

The Very Revd Dr Derek Browning


The Presbytery of Edinburgh