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As a newcomer to our joint parishes of Balquhidder linked with Killin this is my first newsletter for the website. Thank you all for your warm welcome and encouragement to myself and Brenda. Already I have heard many stories of joy and sorrow within our communities. These experiences are common to people everywhere. For many folks this time of the year is a gray, bleak, and given recent weather, a very dreich experience. This is compounded for many in our congregations who are struggling with some of the many and varied trials of life and who feel a bit battered and bruised. Of course it is all too easy to question where God is in all of this and to wonder if our faith has any substance to it.

There are many characteristics of the early church as found in the pages of the New Testament; joy being very much one of them. This is not surprising given the Christian hope proclaimed in the resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ. However, another characteristic of the early faith was perseverance. This was needed in abundance as the first believers faced many difficulties.
There is a saying that I find helpful: “Doubt is a common experience of mankind but it can never be a way of life.”

To doubt is human; even to be angry at God is human (indeed Biblical!). But to have continuing faith through the struggles of life is also Biblical and human. Many of us have discovered that whilst we may never find answers to all of our questions, we have had experiences of being carried through the storms of life by the grace of God. In December we had the advent candles lit in our churches in the weeks preceding Christmas. The central one representing Jesus was the last to be lit. Yet in another sense He who is “The light of the world” is the source of our light. The illustration is clear: We receive our light from God and the flame that burns within us is the flame he continually renews in us. One of my favourite verses is found in the Old Testament:
So do not fear for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

May that be our guide and stay, our hope and experience in the coming months of this new year.
God Bless you all
Russel Moffat

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