Thursday 26 November

“Oh! what a beautiful morning!” we were probably singing to ourselves as the rays of wintry sun beamed into our homes yesterday after the incessant torrential rain of Tuesday! Give thanks today for mornings like that which cheer our spirits, allow us to get out in the fresh air and light up the natural world, even in its wintry dress. Give thanks for the birds and other wild creatures which enliven our gardens and trees and help us to rejoice in the rich beauty of God’s creation which, sadly, we too often neglect to notice or appreciate as we should. Remember too that this is Thanksgiving Day in the US and pray for any American friends you have there or here.

Friday 27 November

Prayers of thanksgiving are also appropriate as we reflect on the amazing news about promising vaccines which have filled our screens this week. Give thanks for all those who have worked long hours to bring these into being and those who have been willing to take the risks of participation in the trials to ensure their efficacy. Pray for those who will have to verify their safety for general use, those who will organise the complexities of their distribution, and those who will administer them. Pray, too, that the general public will continue to be patient over what will be a lengthy process and that, in time, the results will indeed bring about the new normality for which the whole world longs.

Saturday 28 November

From last Wednesday until 10 December churches and other faiths in the UK are marking the annual ten days of activism, which started on the UN’s International Day for the elimination of violence against women. For many years the Guild has been involved in the work of raising awareness of the issues.  There has been increased domestic violence during the pandemic. Pray for all those who are caught up in this terrible situation and those, like Women’s Aid refuges, which work to help victims and, often, their children too.

Sunday 29 November

Today is the first Sunday in the Church’s Christian Year calendar for the period of preparation for Christmas which we call ADVENT. Pray that, despite current restrictions, we will all seek to prepare ourselves in heart and mind to celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus who is the “Reason for the Season”, no matter how low key our celebrations may have to be this year. Ask God to help us get our priorities right and to stick to the current rules so that there will not be a further spike in infections after the five day relaxation. The Church of Scotland’s theme for Advent this year is “Bright Hope for tomorrow”. The Moderator is inviting everyone from across Scotland to send a sprig of rosemary to represent their own personal experience of 2020. The sprigs will then be incorporated into a giant rosemary wreath, an imaginative symbol of the nation’s lament for a sorrow-filled year, so that we can all look forward to happier times. (For fuller details about this artwork to be called “Scented Lament” and the TV programme about it to be broadcast on New Year’s Day on BBC Scotland, plus details of where to send the sprigs around 10 Decemebr, see the Church’s website)

Monday 30 November

This is St. Andrews Day, normally celebrated by Scots, particularly across the world. While such celebrations are not likely to be held this year it is an opportunity to reflect on the life of our Patron saint who was the one who brought his brother, Peter, to Jesus. Give thanks for all that Andrew was and did and pray for those in our own families who, as yet, are also not convinced of the challenge and joy of following Christ.

Tuesday 1 December

Pray today for various Presbyteries, including our own here in Ayr, which will be meeting this evening by Zoom. Many discussions are taking place at this time regarding the need for Presbyteries to unite to streamline their business and activity in future, following the decisions about this taken at last year’s General Assembly. While a few have already united, pray for guidance about the most effective ways forward in different parts of the country.

Wednesday 2 December

Today, as lockdowns continue in many parts of Scotland, pray again for all those who are on their own, finding the darkness of winter days and inability to meet friends increasingly hard to bear. Pray for them in their loneliness asking that, when we are all at our lowest ebb, we remember that God can raise us up and hold us in the palm of His hand.