‘What’s been tough for you and how have you kept walking with God over the last year?’


This question, posed as a starter for this reflection, immediately summoned a quote in my mind’s eye: ‘We who are quicker to judge than to bless fall silent at the extravagance of your grace.’

Some may recognise this line.  It is found in one of the Good Friday prayers in the Book of Common Order and has been something of a touchstone, a mantra, and a chant over the past years.

During the COVID restrictions, the sudden lack of pattern, structure and rhythm was disorientating and unsettling.  In something akin to desperation, I began reading through the Book of Common Order, lingering on some of the prayers and savouring lines like the one above.  Not only was there hope, comfort and challenge, but I felt connected.  Not just to God, Christ and the Spirit, but to the many people who composed these prayers, the wider Church of Scotland, the worldwide Church and, often, the communion of saints.  There was a connection where the disconnect and the untethering were keenly felt.

A pattern developed.  I’ve always been an early bird and it is part of the daily routine to get up at a ridiculous hour (don’t ask…), have a cup of coffee while staring gormlessly out of a window, and then spend a bit of time with some of the prayers in the Book of Common Order.  I have found myself particularly drawn to the collects that appear in Order for Daily Devotions.

There are wonderful turns of phrase there:

> ‘To know you is eternal life, to serve you is perfect freedom.’

> ‘Keep us, this day and every day, in the spirit of kindness, simplicity and joy.’

> ‘In the new creation your grace has dawned upon the world with healing for all.’

There are also a couple of classics: ‘O Divine Master, grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console….’  Or perhaps ‘O Christ the Master Carpenter, who at the last, through wood and nails, purchased our whole salvation…’

Why are these important?

I have been involved with Presbytery Planning for several years and, since January of 2022, have been the Convener of the Deployment Committee of the Presbytery of Edinburgh and West Lothian.  My team, who have been terrific, and I have had to oversee the creation of a Presbytery Mission Plan for Edinburgh and West Lothian and now its implementation.

Hours and hours of meetings, conversations, emails, thinking, planning and praying have been required.  Right now I’m sitting in the car park of a cemetery in West Lothian ahead of yet another meeting.  Business as usual?

Some things have gone well.  Some less so.  It’s the nature of such monumental change.

At the heart of it, however, is people.  And at the heart of people is the image of God, the presence of Christ, the promptings of the Spirit.

When frustration sets in, or perplexity (a common occurrence for me…), God-given and Christ-inspired words like those above come to mind.  Blessing and grace, or judgment?  Freedom in love or chains of frustration?  The spirit of kindness, simplicity and joy, or the spirit of apathy or anger?

‘What’s been tough for you…?’  More importantly, what’s been tough for all of us these last few years?  There have been many moments of weariness, frustration and fear.  Too, there have the moments of clarity and breakthrough, and shimmering hope.  These are not mine alone.  They belong to all of us these days.  And, even more importantly, we all belong to God.  Unified more deeply and fully than any of us can ever imagine.  In that, our hope is founded.


Rev Dr Stewart Weaver

Minister, Portobello and Joppa