Another new month and a month of remembering, beginning with All Saints Day which we marked last Sunday and ending with the beginning of Advent and preparations for Christmas on the 28th. Part way through we also remember those who fought in both World Wars and subsequent conflicts, giving thanks for their sacrifice and also recalling those who sacrificed so many aspects of their lives at home, in support of the war effort. It is a poignant month for many and it takes on a new momentum as we live through the war against Covid-19 currently being fought all over the world.

In a prayer in this month’s Life & Work, our Moderator, Martin Fair, reminds us that God has been “our help in ages past and our shelter from the stormy blast”. He goes on, saying “in our remembering, we will find “strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow”…….seeing the truth of God’s promise that, in Christ, He will “never leave us nor forsake us” even in the darkness of our broken world and in the face of the pandemic through which we are battling. Now there’s an encouraging thought for this month!

Thursday 5 November

This is Bonfire Night and, despite current restrictions, families will no doubt be trying to have some outdoor fun and letting off fireworks in their gardens. Pray that all will be kept safe and mindful of neighbours who may be elderly or upset by noise, of children with special needs like autism and of pets who are distressed by the noise too. The National Chief Fire Officer in Scotland was pleading on TV yesterday for people to be extra careful when lighting fireworks or disposing of spent ones and of the fire crews who had to attend far too many fires last year because, in this year, they are also having to help other emergency workers involved in saving lives of people affected by Covid – 19.

Friday 6 November

This is the end of a week in which the Moderator has been making the annual visit, sometimes virtually in these days, to some of the establishments of Crossreach, the Kirk’s social care arm. He was to have been in Kilmarnock on Wednesday on a socially distanced visit to the Morven Day Services for adults which offers mental health support in East Ayrshire. It is a learning exercise for him but also an encouragement for clients of the service and to the staff, many of whom are having to go far beyond the call of duty at this difficult time. Give thanks for all that they do 365 days a year to help children and young people, those suffering from homelessness or addictions, those facing mental health challenges and the elderly in their care homes like Cumnor Hall in our own Parish. Pray also for the funding of Crossreach’s work which, like so many charities, is struggling for financial support in the face of the pandemic.

Saturday 7 November

Today Scripture Union is holding safely run day camps for pupils in Ayrshire at its Gowanbank Centre, near Galston which is almost fully booked. Pray that the weather will be fine, that the youngsters will enjoy being out of doors having a safe and happy time exercising and learning more about God and His love for them. Pray for the staff and volunteers who give their time to making these popular events happen. Senior staff are currently applying for grants for SU’s three outdoor centres which are not able to run normally or at capacity because of the pandemic. Pray for wisdom in filling in applications and that these will have favourable responses.

Sunday 8 November

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them”. Although the customary Remembrance Day commemorations cannot take place today in the usual way, the two minutes silence will be observed all across the country at 11a.m. Pray for all whose memories of loved ones are especially poignant at this time, for all who still bear the scars of war and for all, like those in the British Legion who work tirelessly with Poppyscotland to help the many  veterans who still need assistance and support. Pray for all who today will lead these acts of worship : that they may be able to bring messages of hope and comfort to all who attend, either in reality or online. Pray for our own Sunday Kids meeting today too.

Monday  9 November

As most of St. Columba members will now have received the latest issue of the Columba News, together with the accompanying papers, they will have a new appreciation of how much our office team and others (see the centre pages of the latest issue) have had to do to prepare and send out, with the help of the elders, this material which helps us all keep in touch with the rest of the congregation.  Give thanks for each one who has helped and those who will have considerable extra work, preparing the new database from our responses and, with our Treasurer, dealing with our financial responses too. Pray that we may all be good stewards of all that God has given us and respond generously to the financial appeal so that the local church’s work and witness and the payment of our staff may continue without any need for reductions in it.

Tuesday 10 November

Those with relatives in Care Homes are increasingly concerned for their welfare and mental health because they cannot visit them and it is now too cold for outdoor visits. Pray for those who have to take decisions about what is possible over the winter months : that satisfactory solutions may be found which  at the same time keep everyone involved safe and well. Pray too for all those decision -makers in the many other difficult balances they have to strike between lives and livelihoods.

Wednesday 11 November

A two minutes silence will again be observed throughout the country at 11.a.m today. Give thanks for all who gave their lives for the fragile peace that is ours  and pray for all who would seek to destroy that through acts of terrorism like the recent one in Vienna. Pray for all who have been victims of such atrocities and those who still suffer in places like Beirut, Syria and Turkey where there are huge insanitary refugee camps too and many orphaned children. Pray for agencies like Christian Aid, Tear Fund, UNICEF and others which are working to help them out of their miserable situations and which also need funding..