An Easter message from the Moderator of the Presbytery of Ardrossan
Last March I wrote an Easter letter to you all just as the Coronavirus started to affect our lives, little did we realise then that a year on churches would still be closed and all our lives would be affected in some way or other, sadly some have lost loved family members. As I write this letter it has been announced that churches will be allowed to reopen from the 24th March although with restricted numbers. Let us all hope and pray that this is the light at the end of the tunnel.
During the last year we are all indebted to all the NHS staff who have worked tirelessly to care for those affected with the coronavirus and other illnesses. We also must thank all the scientists for working so very hard to find a vaccine that we are now receiving and which gives us hope that covid-19 will be beaten and soon normality will return when again we can hug our children, grandchildren and other loved family members and meet in churches as normal and can enjoy a cup of tea or coffee after the service and fellowship with others.
I have just finished reading a book “The Tartan Pimpernel” written by the Rev Dr Donald Caskie who was the minister of the Scotts Kirk in Paris in 1939 at the start of the second world war. On the Sunday that the Germans were entering Paris as he conducted worship they sang
All people that on earth do dwell
Sing to the Lord with cheerful voice
They then read part of Psalm 46:
God is our refuge and our strength
A very present help in time of trouble
The service closed by singing
O God of Bethel by whose hand
Thy people still are fed,
The church closed and he gave the key to a cafe owner across from the church and he made his way to Marseilles and the Seaman’s Mission from where he helped servicemen to escape back to England. It was when reading this that I thought of the Easter story and Jesus being betrayed by one of his disciples, Judas, Donald Caskie was betrayed by one of his helpers who was a double agent. Donald Caskie was arrested and spent some time in various Italian prisons where he was tortured, he was later returned to Paris to face a Gestapo court where he was found guilty and sentenced to death. Again this made me think of Jesus found guilty and nailed to the cross. Caskie before he was due to be executed asked to see a pastor this was granted and they celebrated communion together just as Jesus did on his last night. The German Pastor spoke to the German authorities and Donald Caskie was spared.
On the Sunday after Jesus was crucified women went to the tomb the stone had been rolled away and it was empty at first they were afraid but then they were filled with joy Jesus was alive. After Paris was liberated Donald Caskie returned to the cafe where he had left the key of the church, on the Sunday he left, the cafe owner had hidden it from the Germans, the cafe owner was surprised to see Donald Caskie as he had been told that he was dead. You can imagine the joy on the cafe owners face just like the joy on the women’s faces when they found Jesus was alive. Rev Donald Caskie returned to his church in Paris to continue preaching the word of God, and at Easter time we must remember Jesus is alive and the greatest teacher of all time.
May God’s Blessings be with you all at this joyful Easter Time and may we all pray that next year we will be able to meet together and celebrate Easter as we have in the past.
R Allan Richardson
Presbytery of Ardrossan.