Weekly Newsletter

Pentecost 24
Sunday 15th November 2020

Readings: Judges 4.1-7; Psalm 123; 1Thessalonians 5.1-11; Matthew 25.14-30

Collect of the Day

Almighty God, you sent your Son Jesus Christ to be the light of the world.  Free us from all that darkens and ensnares us, and bring us to eternal light and joy; through the power of him who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Dear Cathedral friend,

This week is Scottish Interfaith Week – an opportunity to celebrate the diverse landscape of faith in Scotland. The Cathedral contributed one of a number of videos to introduce people to different places of worship across our city (and beyond). You can find those videos, and much more from the diverse programme of this week’s events, on the Facebook page of Edinburgh Interfaith Association (EIFA) here, or on its YouTube channel here.

I was delighted on Wednesday to take part in EIFA’s annual meeting of religious leaders from across Edinburgh. We heard fascinating presentations from Prof Jason Leitch, the National Clinical Director of the Scottish Government and from Dr Gwenetta Curry, a Lecturer in Race, Ethnicity and Health in the Usher Institute at the University of Edinburgh. Dr Curry’s present research analyses racial disparities in treatment and infection rates of Covid-19, and she underlined the extent to which the pandemic, rather than causing disparities between different people, has simply exacerbated already existing vulnerabilities, and revealed the extent of the divisions in our society between rich and poor, and between white and those of other ethnic origin. Prof Leitch outlined the history of the pandemic, and the rationale for the measures so far taken. To his audience of faith leaders, he talked of the ways in which the Scottish Government has recognised the importance of faith communities in building resilience and our ability to cope with such measures. That recognition has to be balanced with the need to avoid people congregating in ways that help spread the virus, and that explains why there have been significant curbs on public worship. But he wanted to convey his thanks for the ways that faith communities had responded, and to assure us that there were important voices around the Scottish Government’s cabinet table arguing for the role of faith. Adam McVey, the leader of Edinburgh City Council, was present at the meeting too, and asked us to convey to all our faith communities, the thanks of the Council for the countless ways in which people had responded to the pandemic with acts of love, solidarity and kindness. He was adamant that the pandemic had revealed aspects of our city that had, for too long, been unappreciated – not least our community-building– and wanted to thank all the faith communities for their part in that.

As Interfaith Week began, the death of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks was announced. Rabbi Sacks epitomised what interfaith relationships can contribute: he was absolutely committed in his own faith of Orthodox Judaism, and yet, from that rootedness and anchor, found ways to speak and relate to people of many different faiths and none. It is sometimes thought that an interest in relationships with other faith somehow ‘waters down’ or compromises our own faith, that we necessarily end up with a muddled mush of general beliefs. Jonathan Sacks was evidence of the contrary, and that has certainly been my own experience too: that engagement with those from other faith traditions to our own actually makes us explore our own tradition more thoroughly, come to understand it in new ways and with fresh insight. It is possible to be both thoroughly committed to your own tradition, to the place you stand and the ‘lenses’ through which you see the world, and to be generous toward an other, valuing their commitment and insight, allowing that to question your own. In fact to be securely rooted in your own (evolving) tradition is, I would argue, what enables that generosity and openness. If you would like to hear a relatively recent example of both that commitment and generosity at work in Jonathan Sacks, then I would recommend this interview from earlier this year with Giles Fraser.

Our Sunday services have now settled into their new pattern, of a Eucharist at 8am and both 10.30am and 3.30pm. The main morning service contains the same readings and sermon as the online Service of the Word which will continue being available from Saturday lunchtime onwards. Offering two services on a Sunday has allowed us to be a little less anxious about reaching the maximum of 50 people allowed at any public act of worship – we’ve not had to turn anyone away, at any rate. We look forward to seeing you at a public service whenever that feels possible for you.

Services this week

Online pre-recorded Sunday worship will be available via the website and on Facebook: here

0800, Eucharist (Scottish Prayer Book) at the High Altar
1030, Sung Eucharist
1530, Sung Eucharist

Thursday 1300, Eucharist in the Lady Chapel

Monday – Saturday 0800, Morning Prayer and Eucharist in the Lady Chapel and online on Zoom
Monday, Tuesday, & Thursday 1730, Evening Prayer in the Lady Chapel and online on Zoom
Wednesday & Friday 1730, Evening Prayer is online on Zoom.
If you would like the Zoom link for Morning and/or Evening Prayer please email: office@cathedral.net


As many of you will know from this year’s Annual Report, the Cathedral’s AGM will be held this year on Zoom at 7.30pm on Monday November 23rd. Please do email the Cathedral office (admin@cathedral.net) for details of the Zoom link, or how to phone into the meeting if that is easier. Zoe, our new administrator, will be sending out that link by email on Monday, as well as details of how to submit a question should you wish to do so.

At the AGM we will be electing our new Lay Representative and Alternate Lay Representative. Please note that we need to receive nominations by Friday November 20th.

We were delighted a few weeks ago to host local singer, Suzanne Butler as she recorded her new single in the Cathedral. She was accompanied on the piano by her dad-in-law, former member of the Diocese and Rector of St James’ Leith, Steve Butler. You can watch it here, and the very eagle-eyed will even spot that Suzanne went bare-foot in the Cathedral – brave woman!

The Cathedral has started a new social media venture for November: throughout the pandemic, we have found the prayer of the psalms a rich source of honesty, hope and strength. So we have begun offering, on Twitter and Instagram, a psalm verse from the psalm prayed at Morning Prayer that day. We hope that this will be a window into the direct language, robust faith and strengthening hope that the psalms provide: an invitation to explore further. You can find that daily offering @StMarysCathEdin.

Advent Fair Trade: As in previous years, the One World Shop has stocks of beautiful fair trade Advent calendars as well as some attractive cards and gifts. You can visit in person or buy through their website. Edinburgh deliveries are made with a local courier company and they can also gift wrap and post purchases for you.  Buying Fairtrade demonstrates support for the principle that the best way to eliminate poverty is to pay farmers a fair price for their produce and workers a fair wage for their labour. Fairtrade workers are protected by strong transparent standards. http://www.oneworldshop.co.uk/product-category/christmas/

Please note there is no Christmas shoebox collection this year. The Rock Trust advise they cannot manage this due to the Covid 19 restrictions. Their office is closed and staff are working from home but they continue to work directly with the young people. If you would like to support the work of the Rock Trust details are on  their web site at https://www.rocktrust.org/

The Cathedral’s Social Responsibility Committee are organising an online All-Age Festive Quiz at 3.30pm on Saturday 12th December. More details, including about how to join in, can be found here

The Cathedral Book Group will meet next via Zoom on Tuesday 1st December, 7.30pm, to discuss ‘The Second Sleep’ by Robert Harris (Penguin, Paperback ISBN: 9781787460966).  Harris’s most recent novel is described in reviews as “A brilliantly imaginative thriller” which “intelligently warps historical fiction and tackles issues of religion, science and the apocalypse in the process.”  Please email ecumenical@cathedral.net if you’d like to join the discussion on 1 December and/or be added to the Book Group email list.

Easyfundraising: many of you will be familiar with the website easyfundraising with which we’ve now registered to help raise money for the Cathedral. For the next few days, easyfundraising are offering an extra £5 donation to the Cathedral if you register using this link. If you don’t know about it, it’s a way of helping the Cathedral simply by shopping online. Easyfundraising turns your everyday online shopping into FREE donations when you use them to shop with over 4,000 retailers such as eBay, John Lewis, Argos, ASOS and Booking.com. There’s no catch or hidden charges and St Mary’s Cathedral Edinburgh will be really grateful for your donations.

If you appreciate our worship and don’t already donate via standing order, then you might consider donating via the button on our website homepage www.cathedral.net  This is a challenging time financially for many, including the Cathedral.  If you are in a position to support us, we would be immensely grateful.

With every blessing,



John Conway, Provost                         provost@cathedral.net           07791508103
Marion Chatterley, Vice Provost          marion@cathedral.net           07771982163
Andy Philip, Chaplain                          chaplain@cathedral.net         07593905473