Thursday, 25 December 2014

Christmas Blessings!


"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. he was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all manking. the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."  John 1:1-5

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Light Looked Down

Light looked down on darkness
Darkness everywhere
Light said 'I will go there'
Where light does not show
Darkness abounds, in all the world below
Light came in at Christmas
So we all would know.

Peace looked down on warfare
Fighting everywhere
Peace said 'I will go there'
To battle, death and woe
Conflict abounds in all the world below
Peace came in at Christmas
So we all would know.

Love looked down on hatred
Hatred everywhere
Love said 'I will go there'
To hate, disgust and fear
Emnity abounds, in all the world below
Love came in at Christmas
So we all would know.

So the Lord of Light, the Prince of Peace came in
Silenty he crept in, to this world of ours
Crept in beside us, the gracious King of Love
Humbly we adore him
Jesus Christ our Lord.

From Cloth for the Cradle

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Fourth Sunday in Advent - LOVE

On the fourth Sunday in Advent we think of the Spirit of Christmas as the Spirit of Love. It was the love of God for his world and his people that brought about the miracle of the incarnation. Deity became flesh and lived among the people of the earth and it was a life of love that found its expression in the Son both emptying and humbling himself and maintaining that he had come, not to be served, but to serve and give his life for the salvation of the world. It was a sacrificial love that saw him lifted up and given a name above every other name; a name at which we are forced to bow.

The reality of the Christmas story is that it has eternal significance for each of us and it demands a response because we can be an on-going part of the story. We are the next chapter of a never ending story and the immeasurable value of Christmas means we are called to see our place in it

At Christmas we see God demonstrating reckless extravagance for you and me and in turn we need to risk our reputation if necessary, in order to love, to give, to care, to feed, to help a loveless world.  As Christ bridged the gulf to meet us, we are called to scale the barriers of our society and meet people where they are.  Christ demanded, ‘lay down your life for my sake’ or put another way, ’let my love take over your life’

In 1965 Hal David and Burt Bacharach wrote a song in the form of a prayer. The words of the chorus read,

What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of,
What he world needs now is love, sweet love,
No, not just for some but for everyone

Throughout Christmas 2014 and the New Year of 2015, let us, through Christ, be that love to the world

Read; Philippians 2:1-18

Thanks to Lieut-Colonel Robert McIntyre for these Sunday in Advent posts.


Sunday, 14 December 2014

Third Sunday in Advent - Joy

The Spirit of Christmas is a Spirit of Joy and is the focus for us today on the third Sunday in Advent.  It is rightly spoken of as the Joy-bringer or the Life-bringer reminding us of newness of life that comes to us, not just when the Christ Child is welcomed into the life of a believer, but by the renewing joy that is promised daily by the ever present joy-bringer

When young Mary was visited by the Angel Gabriel and it was announced that she would bear the child who would be the Son of God, her response was a song of joy to the Lord which begins, My soul praises the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.  Marys song, referred to as The Magnificat declares forcibly the greatness of God and the joy there is in finding him.  The song ends by affirming that this promise is to our ancestors, to Abraham and his children forever

In the song Deck the Halls we sing, Tis the season to be jolly, fah la la la la la la la laand we conjure up in our mind pictures of people with happy faces having a happy time.  And where there are people who frown on it all we are quick to call them kill-joys who mumble 'Bah humbug' 
Christmas is special when we recognise that at the heart of it is the Spirit of God coming to man with unspeakable joy.  May we experience again the miracle of joy incarnate and be prompted to sing of our joy just like Mary.  In fact, read the lyrics of her song now for yourself and sense the joy it portrays


Luke 1: 26-38

Friday, 12 December 2014

Joy To The World

As we approach the third Sunday in Advent why not listen to Joy to the World.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Christmas Carolling

It must be getting close to Christmas - the Salvation Army Bands are out carolling!
The East Scotland DHQ Band have been out on Princes Street recently, despite the weather!
Big Thanks to Liz, the Manager at Greggs for providing the East Scotland DHQ Band with free hot drinks as the rain and snow comes down on Princes Street.

The Band is playing every Wednesday and Friday between 11am & 1 pm leading up to Christmas. They are getting a good response from the shoppers and the money raised will support mission projects throughout the division.

Commissioner Robin Forsyth commented: 'It's great to be linking with the community and partnering with businesses in the area.'


Monday, 8 December 2014

All-Scotland Youth Councils

I'll follow, I'll not turn back.

We always say ‘time flies when you are having fun...’

Time certainly did fly at the All-Scotland Youth Councils; it’s happened and now we are over a week since the Scottish youth of The Salvation Army gathered in one place. So where to begin...

Well the easiest place to start is by saying that it was, as expected to be, an amazing weekend! God never fails to deliver and so I thank God for that! But I also say thanks for the time and effort put in from the Divisional Youth Officers and the forum of young people who helped plan the weekend. And finally a special thank you must go to our host Kathryn from Alove and guest speaker Lt. Mark Cotterill.

The Saturday night theme was, #throwback, a children's party, so as the youth descended upon Perth they came dressed as childhood TV characters or as person/job which they aspired to be when they were older. The costumes didn’t disappoint and there many excellent efforts! The night was fun-filled with the evening split between a Ceilidh and party games. The Ceilidh band, ‘Flung aboot’, were on top form and provided excellent music. The childrens party games were a real treat, nothing like a good round of pass the parcel!

And so, as quick as a flash, Sunday was here. The main reason for the weekend was to spend time with God. The day was filled with worship to our amazing God and we were helped by the worship group put together especially for that day. We were also treated to some drama items which were helpful in tying in with the day’s theme – I will follow.

One particular highlight for me was the time given for testimony. A group of the youth, from all divisions and ages spoke about what God was doing in their lives. It was encouraging and inspiring to hear young Christians testifying to the work of God in their life. It was a blessing to hear about difficult circumstances but learning to trust in the Lord, knowing that he doesn’t give up on you. And hearing how things are going great just now and being able to ‘delight in the Lord’.

Another excellent focus on the day was time spent praying, so we were able to pray for those who gave their testimony, praying for ourselves and for our Divisional Youth Officers. It was a beautiful scene as the youth gathered around their Divisional Youth Officers and surrounded them in prayer, asking God to bless them and equip them in their ministry.

It was also great to have the Candidates Unit with us over the weekend, and time was given for us to hear from two, Scottish, first-year cadets. We were encouraged to think about how we could be hero’s.

After fitting all this in to our two meetings, twice we were blessed and challenged by the opening of God’s word. Our guest speaker, Lt. Mark Cotterill, spoke with great passion about following Jesus and discipleship. In the Morning we looked at Matthew’s Gospel Chapter 9, at the account of Jesus calling the tax collector Matthew. We were challenged that God invites every single person imaginable to follow him. God is constantly inviting us on to the stage of life.

In the afternoon we looked at the question ‘What should a follower look like?’ Mark brought to our attention some thoughts about compassion, humility, patience and living gracefully. We were also challenged that we are to be good news to people. He urged us to consider the words of John Wallis that there has to be a consistency between the message and the messenger.

Time was then given, aptly, in both sessions to respond to the word of God and allow the Holy Spirit to do its work. Whilst time was given to respond, my thoughts and response turned towards the songs that we had been singing as part of our worship. The song ‘I’ll Not Turn Back’ was used and also a song called ‘Christ is enough’. These songs, for me, helped to affirm what God was saying to me, and also inspire me on further in my walk.

Christ is enough for me, Christ is enough for me

Everything I need is in you, everything I need

I have decided to follow Jesus

No turning back, no turning back!

I thank God that I have decided to follow Jesus and by His grace I have all that I need, so for me…there is no turning back! I’ll not turn back whatever it may cost.

These events normally end in worship to our God, lifting the roof with His praise, but the Spirit was still working as our time came to an end. And so we left the Councils in an attitude of response and prayer.

My prayer is that the Holy Spirit continues to do the work that needs to be done in the lives of those who gathered for Youth Councils and in particular those who were still kneeling before God.

And Father God I pray that you would raise up this generation to make a difference for you! May they take a stand as they follow you and not turn back!

Christ is enough for me.

Andrew Howe

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Second Sunday in Advent - Peace

Look at our world and it is hard to see where good is overcoming evil.  Darkness is an integral and intolerable part of our world and we often ask Where is God in this and that? or Why the suffering and the sorrow, the hatred and war which is so prevalent?

But the truth is that in the Christ child of Bethlehem the Inextinguishable Light has dawned on our world and however great that darkness, it will never snuff out the light of God. You may have to look long and hard at times to see where the Light is shining, but it is there because he is there Identifying with us where we are, however low, however sad, or however needy his people are.

In former times the prophet Jeremiah had called the people of God to seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which they had been exiled. With the coming of Christ, that call to be peacemakers in a dark and broken world is intensified, and we can be the very means by which that world is made aware of the Prince of Peace. We may not easily see how we could do that in the wider world of war and injustice but we can be lights strategically placed, intentionally reflecting the Light that can chase the darkness around us. 

The Spirit of Christmas is a Spirit of Peace and to possess it is not just the means by which we can live at peace with God and the world, we can share it in a myriad of ways with those who around us.  God helping us, may we truly be peacemakers.


Jeremiah 29: 4-14

John 1:1-14



Friday, 5 December 2014

Christmas Carols

As many of you are no doubt either attending or participating in various carol concerts, carol services or carolling out on the streets,  over the coming weeks, I thought I would share this short extract from the Celebrating Christmas concert at the Royal Albert Hall recently. I am sure it must be a fabulous concert to attend.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Book Launch at the Edinburgh Prison Visitors Centre

The Edinburgh Prison Visitors Centre at HMP Edinburgh, has launched a new series of information books, written by children for children. The books are aimed at helping make visits easier and less distressing. There are three books in the series - 'Visiting Dad', 'Visiting Mum' and 'A Parents Guide'

The Scottish Government minister Aileen Campbell, Minister for Children and Young People, attended the recent launch at the Visitors Centre.

Ms Campbell MSP agreed the booklets were a fantastic idea and said: "I'd like to thank The Salvation Army and Scottish Prison Service for all their work in creating them."

The Edinburgh Prison Visitor Centre was initiated and funded by the Onward Trust and has been in operation from the early 2000’s. Firstly the WRVS managed the facility, but from mid-2004 The Salvation Army took on this contractual role in relation to the management of the centre on behalf of the Onward Trust and has been involved in this way over the last 10 years. Every year around 50,000 people, 8,000 of them children, pass through the Centre.