Mystery Worshipper: Aileen
Location: Oxton, Scotland
Date of visit: Sunday, 28 August 2011, 10:00am
A very old pinkish-orange stone building, renewed 200 years ago! It is up a hill about 100 feet above sea level. The cemetery surrounds the kirk, with an old memorial of St Cuthbert, who became Bishop of Lindesfarne. Inside, the windows are clear, the doors are done with Tudor arches, and the pulpit is in the centre with a wooden round top above it, high above the communion table, where the pews all face toward the pulpit and table. There were some very beautiful flowers, and three gold crosses down on the pulpit.
They are into house groups and sponsor a Sunday club. They also conduct an art class where members offer their paintings for sale, with proceeds going to benefit the church. Each year they select one local and one international charity to contribute to.
Oxton is a rural village about 20 miles south of Edinburgh. The village has a primary school and only a few shops. There are thousands of sheep, hundreds of cows, some horses, and grouse, as well as many wild birds. It is full of farms.
The Revd Jamie Griggs, minister.
What was the name of the service?Channelkirk Worship Service
How full was the building?
There were many people at the service, about 40 adults, all in the downstairs pews.
Did anyone welcome you personally?
When I arrived (early), I was welcomed by the people who were by the door. A gentleman told me about their history and showed me St Cuthbert's memorial. Everyone encouraged me to look around the lovely cemetery, in the sun. I was given the hymnbook and welcomed again by the people sitting near me.
Was your pew comfortable?
Yes, padded with woolen seats. The pews in the centre were wider than the pews at the sides. They all had doors at the sides of the pews, which we had to open to go in. I gather that pews were once reserved for families.
How would you describe the pre-service atmosphere?
People were quietly marking the hymns and Bible readings they were to use in worship, and also chatting gently to their friends.
What were the exact opening words of the service?
"Grace and peace to you from the Lord! This is a beautiful place to worship. And carry that out to people in the area."
What books did the congregation use during the service?
Church Hymnary, Mission Praise, and The Holy Bible, New International Version.
What musical instruments were played?
Organ, fairly recently replaced.
Did anything distract you?
The beauty of the church and a picture near me of the history of this ancient kirk.
Was the worship stiff-upper-lip, happy clappy, or what?
All members of the congregation sang spiritually and well. No choir to lead was necessary!
Exactly how long was the sermon?
On a scale of 1-10, how good was the preacher?
9 – I appreciated the clear speaking of the minister and his positive Christian message.
In a nutshell, what was the sermon about?
Everyone in the world has their own problems and difficulties. We have to take up and carry our own cross. It is hard to do, but never forget that Jesus did it. Jesus predicted his coming passion but also gave a message of hope, of God's love, to all people. God is love in reality, and we abide in love. We will continue to be faced with Jesus' message. We in this world are transformed. Seek to behave with love, like the living, loving God. Treat people as we like to be treated; leave judgement of others to God. Live God-centered lives. Aim for high standards. We should act in partnership with Jesus for the world. Taking up our cross is living in our reality.
Which part of the service was like being in heaven?
I felt like being in heaven often, with the hymns, the readings, a sign from Jesus about being in heaven!
And which part was like being in... er... the other place?
Nothing to do with the service, but bad weather had been forecast!
What happened when you hung around after the service looking lost?
Immediately after the service a couple of people told me there was tea and coffee that someone had brought in (because they could not make it in the kirk). Several people chatted to me. They were all very friendly, and someone even offered me a ride back to where I was staying!
How would you describe the after-service coffee?
The coffee and tea were hot and tasty, and there were biscuits also.
How would you feel about making another visit (where 10 = ecstatic, 0 = terminal)?
9 – If I lived in this area, I'd come to this kirk, a good one and also good for children. I liked visiting it in Scotland.
Did the service make you feel glad to be a Christian?
I felt happy to be a Christian, being aware of how this area grew into Christianity, and how lovely it is here.
What one thing will you remember about all this in seven days' time ?
The wonderful sight of the church and the height of the area, and the animals, and the sermon and the people keep coming into my mind!