Rev Mark Johnstone, Minister of Glasgow Cathedral

Regular Update on Cathedral life………..

November 2023

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 about st 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 early 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 an over reliance, or confidence, in technology. 

During the summer months 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 known 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 some late night 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.  The local resident told me the young man’s phone, and digital technology had all failed him. He was adrift at sea with no sense of direction or where he was in relation 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