Fintry Church and Balfron Church

Rev. Sigrid Marten


Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil;for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me.(from Psalm 23)

Hello, everyone! What a time we have had! It has been a whole year since I wrote to you in the church newsletter.  I have had to take so much time off out of the past three years, following surgery and illness and the separation from my husband, that it feels as if I need to start afresh in getting to know what is going on in the life of the church and in the lives of people connected with our community. I have missed much of what has been going on, not least the lovely redecoration work in the Session House. It all looks so well-kept and ‘ship-shape’ now, ready to be put to good use.I would like to thank our Session Clerk, Meg Duckworth, the guest preachers, all the office-bearers and many helpers who have been working hard looking after the business of the congregation. It has been a relief for me to know that things were well attended to.

Maybe even more importantly, I know that you have continued to look after each other. The Flower Team, the Elders, the Prayer Group, and the many visible and invisible webs of friendship and care among the congregation are an important way of staying in touch and supporting each other. Not everything may be perfect, and sometimes we may miss something or lose sight of someone. But I have a real sense that there is a will to “bear one another’s burdens”, as the apostle Paul calls it.

In many ways the past year has been devastating and difficult for my family and me. Being in pain, whether physical or mental,  is very hard for all of us.  And being in the ‘valley of the shadow of death’ that Psalm 23 speaks of is not easy. But in my experience, there is no short-cut. We need to go through that dark and difficult place and deal with what is in front of us, before we can find ourselves on those green pastures again. That is an on-going process.
In his poem ‘What is man?’ Waldo Williams writes, “What is believing? Holding out until relief comes.” In the same way, we may want to ask: What is faith? “Holding on to God’s hand, and not letting go – ever!,” I want to say. We are not alone, even when we feel very alone. We are held safely, gently, firmly.

In the past months, many people have reached out to me. I am very grateful that I have had support from the wider Church of Scotland, from colleagues, members of the congregation, neighbours, friends and family. I have appreciated that people wanted to make contact, but it was equally important that I had space to work out for myself what I needed.

Through all this I have been reminded of the importance of pastoral care, the way we as Christians choose to stay connected and to care for one another, sharing in the healing love of God which we know through Jesus.

This will always be the work of the whole people of God, but in the church we also have people, like the Elders, who have been given the special task to stay in touch and be aware of special needs and crises in people’s lives. As the minister I am one part of that wider circle of pastoral care. That has been difficult for me during the many months of being unwell and being away from the life of the church, and this has been frustrating for me, and I imagine, at times for you too. Now that I am back, I would like to re-connect and listen. But I also need to be realistic in what I can do after having been unwell for such a long time. My time as a shared minister between Fintry and Balfron will continue to be limited, and I will have to pace myself and work with my damaged back.

So, just to avoid confusion, I would like to say:

Please don’t assume I have heard about your situation through the grapevine. Instead,  I invite anyone who would like a visit from me to let me know, either through an elder, or by contacting me directly. I may not be able to see you immediately, but we will work something out. And please, continue to look out for each other, sharing the light and the love of Jesus Christ.

With many blessings,

Sigrid Marten

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