Minister

Rev Mark Johnstone, Minister of Glasgow Cathedral

Regular Update on Cathedral life………..

March 2024

This has been a quick month and March is fast approaching. March gives the Cathedral an opportunity to recognise the Christian season and welcome various organisation to worship within the Cathedral.

3rd March 11am Glasgow University (Founded within the Cathedral in 1451)

10th March 11am RNLI, a national celebration of 200years of service.

17th March 11am, The Sacrament of Holy Baptism

24th March 11am Palm Sunday / Passion Sunday – a journey through Holy Week.

All are welcome.

Just a thought.

This week has been an opportunity to catch my breath. This Sunday 11am, (21st Jan 2024) we will welcome many who enjoy the work of Robert Burns. We will explore the connection between Jesus proclaiming the Gospel and how Burns was affected by the Church and the faith of his day. All are welcome.

Another great Christmas at Glasgow Cathedral. It was a special season. We were challenged with celebration and reflection. The silent vigil taking place outside the Cathedral on Christmas eve was a powerful reminder of the difficulties many are facing this year. Our thoughts and prayers are with all who find this time challenging. Have a good Christmas and remember it has only just started………..(Christmas Day 2023 8.30am). I am now off to Church for our Christmas day service — God bless.

What a wonderful day at Glasgow Cathedral! A Christmas Cracket was great — with Baptism and the opportunity to welcome so many visitors. The traditional service of nine lessons and carols was outstanding. Thank you to all who contributed.

The school carol concert.

Next is a school concert and Christmas eve. All beautiful services to be involved in.

The opportunity to meet with those in the Thursday club was good fun — I really should have won at pass the parcel!!

Later in the day I met with Ian Houston, Ian is an international advocate, author and columnist, Professor and Global Scot. I am keen to explore further the international reach and connection the Cathedral may have.

I also did some recording for Facebook and X to promote this weekend at the Cathedral. I look forward to sharing the service this Sunday morning with my friend and colleague Rev’d John Purves. He will lead ‘A Christmas Cracker’ — reading, thoughts and carols for Christmas. In the evening we will celebrate the traditional service of 9 lessons and carols. all are welcome — 11 am Christmas Cracker, 7 pm 9 Lessons and Carols — looking forward to seeing you and connecting.

My day was completed with an opportunity to speak with Ian Houston.

This week has been different from last. There were so many services last week in preparation for Christmas. This week it has been more about administration and preparing orders of service for this weekend and next.

This weekend we look forward to a special ‘Christmas Cracker’ at 11 am. We will celebrate the sacrament of Holy Baptism followed by a service of Christmas carols and readings. At 7 pm we will hold a traditional service of 9 lessons and carols. Both services will be special with an emphasis on preparing for Christmas.

Sadly, yesterday I conducted a funeral for the late Lesley Main. It was a meaningful service with so many friends and family attending the service at the Linn crematorium. Lesley, as an artist, was keen that we ‘walk in the light’. The Linn crematorium, built in the style of Basil Spence’s Coventry Cathedral, exploits the light in coloured glass. With the sun shining yesterday in such a powerful way the setting was perfect. Thank you to all who attended and I share with you the cover of the order of service with a beautiful picture by Lesley. This is wholly apt at this time of year — presenting in an abstract form Mary and Jesus. A mother nursing her child.

Later today I will meet with Ian Houston a journalist from the USA. Ian bridges the gap between USA and Scotland and believes the Church is a significant part of Scottish cultural life. We are also delighted to celebrate Christmas with the Thursday club. Thank to all who make this possible. Food and fun.

Sunday evening Beatson Cancer Charity carol concert.

What a wonderful week! Wonderful but challenging. With everything that is going on in the world, we did not hold the usual tree-lighting ceremony linked with Bethlehem. Instead, we had a more modest evening service with a new carol commissioned for the evening. Sunday morning was a regular service with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons present. The Moderator of Glasgow Presbytery preached — thank you, Rodger.

For the evening service, the choir led a service for Advent. It was a professional service using various areas of this ancient cathedral. I am unsure that the readings and poems I had chosen hit the mark. The choir were outstanding.

On Wednesday over 300 students from various Universities, Colleges etc attended a carol service. It is lovely to see the place filled with so much energy and youth. We do plan to build on this relationship.

On Thursday Cancer Research UK led a carol evening. The Duke of Gloucester attended and offered one of the Bible readings. Again an evening of variety. Fred Macauley was the host and the variety of contributions from Opera, Rock Choir, Glasgow Academy and various others was outstanding.

On Friday the Friends of Glasgow Royal Infirmary were hosted for their carol service. The Cathedral was packed and everything from Baroque music to school choirs were accommodated. My colleague John Purves offered the address and convinced us we were heroes. (Thank you, John).

Saturday brings the Friends of the Holy Land service which is a large ecumenical service.

Sunday brings our regular morning service, followed by a Church lunch, followed by The Beatson Charity carol concert.

It will be a busy weekend but it is all worth it, exploring how the Church / Cathedral connects with thousands of people in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I am not too sure how any Presbytery plan truly reflects the reach of these ancient places of worship that still function as living Christian communities. The place may be ancient but the message is current. This is surely Church growth. Planting is important but growth is essential!

December Services planned so far!!

23rd November 2023.

We are starting to feel the business of the Advent season. Thank you to all who have been preparing. We are ahead of the curve — but only just — thank you again.

Earlier in November 2023

The past few days have been busy. I was able to lead the Remembrance service at the High School of Glasgow. This is particularly significant in that one of the senior students reads an account of life at war from a former pupil who served in the 1914-1918 war. The look of so many young people in the assembly hall brings poignancy to the moments of silence that follow. We make our way to the War memorial and their two wreaths are laid. The school carries these events well. The diverse pupil body comes together at assembly and is a credit to all who co-ordinate these events.

On Saturday the 11th of November I took part in the City of Glasgow armistice day service. This is a short service in front of the Cenotaph. The representative from the Royal British Legion spoke well and the laying of wreaths set the scene for Sunday morning. Observing the silence at 11 am on the 11th day of the 11th month is significant.

Sunday the 12th of November brought Remembrance Sunday. I am very grateful to Glasgow City Council for all they do to assist in the leading of this service. The office and council officers make the event run smoothly and the Lord Provost is always dignified and attentive on these occasions.

The morning begins at 10.45 am at the nurse’s lamp. This is just inside the vestibule of the City chambers and is a lamp that is perpetually lit to remember those who offered nursing during times of war.

From the City Chambers to the Cenotaph. We are greeted by several thousand people who attend the service. The military service and several voluntary organisations are on parade. The military band(s) and the Police Scotland Band set the scene. It was difficult this year to know how to pitch the service with so many areas of conflict in the world. However, I believe it was important to focus on the primary purpose of the gathering. We had gathered for Remembrance. I was careful to focus on peace and the gift Jesus gave to his disciples at a time of conflict and trauma.

The weekend was meaningful and I am grateful to all who supported me over the past few days.

Further to this, the service at the Cathedral was conducted by my friend and colleague Rev Ian Black (Chaplain to the Cathedral). In the course of the day and the days that followed many have spoken of how they appreciated this service. Thank you, Ian.

On Monday we had a rehearsal for the Beatson Charity Christmas service. Sounding good!

Tomorrow evening Rev John Purves (Chaplain to the Cathedral) will attend a reception for Interfaith Groups in the city.

On Thursday I have been invited to the Thursday Club in the cathedral hall to speak abouStst Andrew. That could be interesting.

October 2023.

I enjoy the opportunity to try out new technology that I believe may help me in what I do.  I was an early adopter of the word processor with the Apple Cluster in the basement at Glasgow University library in the 80’s.  I opened my first AOL email account in the e90s 90’s and have attempted to keep up with things as they evolve.  I know this is not for everyone and last week while in Portpatrick I was made aware of what some may call aoverreliancece, or confidence, in technology. 

During the summer mon,ths Portpatrick harbour is busy.  It is only a short hop from Ireland to mainland Scotland. Portpatrick can, for some, make a perfect landing spot. With its variety of hostelries, I am sure many have kwn a the warm welcome and hospitality when they arrive in the village.

Description automatically generated”>On one of my last visits, I was aware there was a bit of commotion in one of the local pubs.  Someone told me that a young man had gone out in a small boat to do late-nightnight fishing.  He had his mobile phone, his sat nav and location finder app on his phone and thought he knew the coast well.  However, a couple of hours in, with the sky as dark as black velvet, the moon hidden by the weather he got lost at sea. ocal resident told me the young man’s hone, and digital technology had all failed him. He was adrift at sea with no sense of direction or where he wabout to the Harbour. 

However, at Portpatrick there is an old Light house.  It is more a nostalgic nod to the past than a working station.  Whoever owns it puts coloured lights in the windows and it all looks very quaint and like a picture post card.  The young man with his failed technology found his way back to the harbour by the light of the redundant light house! A miracle! Or maybe a warning.  The technology is good but there are maybe some elemental aspects of living we should not give up to the latest invention.

I love being in the Cathedral. I love being minister at the Cathedral. I do want to embrace contemporary approaches to being church.  However, I want to remain rooted in the true meaning of what it means to be Christian and be church.  ‘To feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, comfort the bereaved.  To love one another as Christ has loved us.’. I believe if we keep these verses before us, we will not lose our way or find we are lost at sea.Only when we have these elemental and foundational aspects of faith in place will we truly be the Christian Church today.

Glasgow Cathedral, St Mungo’s or High
Scottish Charity Number: SC013966