Look closely at the picture and you'll see the main reason that I haven't done any blogging lately. We welcomed 10 visitors from Dongkwang Church, Seoul, including their Senior Pastor, Rev. Chang Bin, to spend just over a week with us in Kirkton and formally create a congregational partnership through signing a Partnership Agreement.
One of my tasks for the week (apart from organising most of the visits and events) was to drive the minibus. [And it has taken me another week to recover!]
Among many other things, we had a great time visiting Glasgow, Edinburgh, Loch Lomond, Stirling Castle, New Lanark, The David Livingstone Memorial in Blantyre. We were guided round the Scottish Parliament by our MSP, Karen Gillon, and welcomed by the Moderator of the General Assembly.
[I will gloss over the parking ticket I got in Edinburgh because our minibus was a bit too long for the parking space I had put it into... we'll wait and see how the appeal goes.]
But the highlights for me were the services of worship on the Sunday morning and evening and our "Scottish Evening" on the Tuesday night, which involved Scottish, food, music, dancing and lots of fun. In each of these instances many people in the congregation joined in which made the idea of a congregational partnership a reality.
I know from my own experience that Korean Presbyterian worship is quite a bit more formal than the style of worship we are accustomed to in Kirkton, so I knew that there would be a bit of culture-shock for our visitors- but the thing that really delighted me was walking into the church while people were still gathering and noticing two of the younger members of our church family (both about 6 years old) chatting away to some of our Korean visitors who I knew did not speak any English. It didn't seem to matter. The children got the message across... "Welcome to our family!"
The message was underlined during the service when we sang the song "Welcome Everbody it's good to see you here."
OK - it is hardly a liturgical (or even musical) classic but there was something very sincere and heart-warming in the way that the congregation sang it, and the visitors seemed to sense that too.
A few minutes before the service began I decided to make up another verse of the song (again - I know it is more doggerel than literature - but it worked.)
"Scotland and Korea are very far apart
but through the love of Jesus our partnership can start,
and as our friendship deepens we will be one in heart
gathering in this place."
Now if I could only learn a bit of Korean myself...