Life and Work March 2011 Issue


Former Depute Clerk to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Reverend Dr Marjory Maclean, describes the dramatic journey which has taken her from the church offices at 121 George Street in Edinburgh to a military base in Afghanistan, via an anti-piracy task force in the Gulf of Aden, as the first Reservist Naval chaplain to be formally mobilised on active service.

Reflecting on her two periods of service as a military chaplain, she writes: “Here were two operational environments where people on both sides had real weapons really loaded, where you had to know your blood group because you were asked for it so often, where you wore the dog-tags that had seemed so over-dramatic when they were issued to you years before in the safety of the naval stores in Rosyth.”

Whilst she found many similarities with day-to-day ministry, she also identified some distinctive differences, writing: “The chaplain is the person – no, perhaps better the place – where someone can withdraw from their tough ‘warry’ routine and reveal the not-yet-healed bits, the not-yet-fixed relationship at home, the bereavement of a month ago that is still catching them offguard at embarrassing moments. The chaplain can take the person out of their normal pattern and into a different presence, a presence of gentleness and understanding.”


In this month’s ‘Big Question’ six prominent people consider the question: ‘Is Lent and outdated practice?’ Those taking part include:

The Very Reverend Dr Sheilagh Kesting, Secretary of the Church of Scotland’s Ecumenical Relations committee, writes: “Lent is not a terribly comfortable season of the year. It points up our weaknesses, our failures in living out what we believe. And because of that it is a season of repentance, a time where we can refocus on the message of Jesus.”

Cardinal Keith O’Brien, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, writes: ‘In a society where excess eating has become normalised and huge sums of money are spent on counteracting obesity, controlled fasting provides a valid antidote and a worthwhile restraint in the face of so many countless millions, throughout the world who suffer from starvation.’

The Most Reverend David Chillingworth, Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, writes: “‘Giving up something for Lent’ links us to the way in which Jesus encountered God and found himself at the start of his ministry. So to challenge our acquisitiveness, our consumption or our self-indulgence is important because it allows other aspects of our selves – our souls – to flourish.”


Contact: Gordon Bell
Phone: 0131 240 2204