The Year of Young People

Last May, the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland designated 2018 as ‘The Year of Young People’ (YoYP). Throughout Scotland churches are being challenged to engage with a number of pressing issues which are effecting us all, such as how to encourage young people to engage more with their faith, and how to make sure that they know they are an important part of the church.

Here at Liberton we have been trying to address these questions for a number of years now, particularly with our Forward Together campaign in 2001 to raise money for the appointment of our first full time youth worker, and, more recently, in the various ways we have been trying to include and involve younger people in our worship and in our communion services.

There is one important area, however, in which we still have some way to go. In March 2017, I wrote of the image in the Bible of church as the ‘Family of God’ and the need for us to be more ‘intergenerational’. I had been challenged by the words of Andy Chittick, spoken two years before, who had said…
Statistics show that, unless each one of our young people feel known, loved and accepted by at least five other church members who are not in their
immediate family, then, when they grow older, they will be unlikely to want to remain part of our church.

A year has now passed since I wrote this article, but the challenge still remains, and so, to make it more real, here is an exercise for us all to do. Please write the names of five school-age children known to you personally, who you are not directly related to, and who are part of our church family here at Liberton.

Much love

February – Focus Day Feedback

I’ve just got back from our congregational ‘Focus Day’ (morning, actually, and finishing with a lovely bread and soup lunch), when we spent some time together reflecting on this year’s theme – “We have this treasure in jars of clay” (2 Corinthians 4.7).

Our guest speaker was Rev Maggie Lane, who, in the early ‘noughties’ spent six months with us as she explored her own calling to ministry. This was something she eventually and reluctantly accepted, and for a number of years now she has been the leader of one of the churches at Kirkliston.

Maggie talked of her own feelings of inadequacy before taking on the role of minister, and this led us all to reflect on how God uses even us, broken as we are, to help others know that there is hope in Jesus, and that a new life is possible. While we need to acknowledge that there may well be suffering along the way, it is often when we go through hard times that we can look back and see how Jesus has helped us, and we can then support others going through similar struggles.

Maggie also spoke of the need for honesty and humility in our relationship with God, and especially in our prayer life. She centred on the need for God’s transforming presence in the life of our church, quoting the well-known promise he gives us in 2 Chronicles 7.14 –
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray
and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Towards the end of the morning we spent some time sharing what we felt God had been saying to us as a church. The main themes that emerged in common were
• the importance of meeting together in prayer
• our need for humility in the presence of God
• our need to accept our brokenness before God’s light can shine through

Much love

Persistence pays

One of the most surprising and unexpected Christmas gifts I received this year was a voucher for two sessions at a physiotherapy clinic. At a recent church get-together I had mentioned the trouble I was having with my shoulder, and how I had been on the waiting list for treatment for months. Realising that I was unlikely to do anything more about it myself, the person listening, (who happened to be a medical practitioner), decided to take the initiative out of my hands.

Well, in the course of my two excellent sessions I have learned three useful things about physiotherapy exercises

  1. They are hard work
  2. They have to be done regularly
  3. They do make a difference

While my shoulder itself is still not completely better, I am much less aware of the discomfort I used to feel, and have a sense that things are now heading in the right direction.

I think there are definite parallels between my experience of physio, and my faith. Here at Liberton we are in the middle of our season of focussing on the ‘upward’ dimension of our spiritual lives, and often, in all the busy-ness of 21st century living, this is the one that suffers most. As a result our faith begins to get a bit creaky, and our relationship with God becomes more and more forced when it could be flowing.

The solution? Nothing too drastic – just a willingness and a commitment on our part to get back to the basics. Spending time with God can at first seem very like hard work, especially if it’s something we are not used to doing regularly, but it soon makes a real difference.

Let me leave you with the words of one of my favourite Alan McKinlay songs, which are all about being persistent in prayer, and which are a paraphrase of the words of the Master himself, (to be found in Luke 11.9-13).

We’re asking and we keep on asking

We’re seeking and we keep on seeking

We’re knocking on the door of heaven

And we won’t stop knocking ‘till we see heaven come to earth

Happy Exercising!

Much love


Going deeper with God

The following lines from a book by Peter Scazzero have really challenged me because I recognised their truth –

“Many Christians are stuck. Some are lost at this very moment, trying to find their way. Others are afraid they will go astray if they remain stuck for much longer. More than a few are lost without knowing it”*

There are lots of good words that could be used to describe Liberton Kirk, but one of the not so good ones is ‘busy’. Liberton Kirk is a ‘busy’ church. When you add up all the things that are going on and divide them by the number of people in the church, you would think that everyone had a fairly balanced spiritual life. Sadly, this is not the case. Some of us are doing far too much and thereby risking spiritual burn-out, while others are involved in so little that they run the serious risk of spiritual drift. In both cases there is the sense that we have got ourselves ‘stuck’.

To be ‘stuck’ is to have lost your ‘first love’. Whether it is through doing too much or doing too little, the fires that first burned so brightly have grown dimmer. The joy has gone. Jesus is no longer the dominant force in your life. You are either too distracted to develop your relationship with him, or too tired to enjoy it.

How do we get our spiritual life moving again? The answer is to get our balance right – not in terms of what we do and don’t do for him, but in terms of how much time we are actually spending with him in the first place. We need to give ourselves permission to go deeper with God.

And so, on Saturday 21st January, 2017, you are invited to our next Congregational Focus Day, when the focus will be on getting our spiritual balance right. The purpose of this day is NOT just to learn one or two interesting new things about our faith. Rather, it is to set aside some quality time to be with God and with each other, so that together we can re-evaluate our priorities as a church. While parts of the morning will be led by Scott and Faith Brennan, our guest speakers, there will also be opportunities to sit in silence and opportunities to talk through what we have learned.

Whether you are new to the church, or whether you have been around for a long time, this invitation is for you. Sign-up sheets are available at the West Door. Hope to see you soon.

*Peter Scazzero – ‘Emotionally Healthy Spirituality’

For more information contact John Young – 0131 664 3067 /

Daily Devotions for December 2016


 December 2016


Our Father, who art in heaven
Hallowed be Your Name.
Your kingdom come
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory.
Now and for ever