Minister's Thoughts

Pray Today

You cannot go far in the parishes of Knockando, Elchies and Archiestown and Rothes in Upper Speyside without encountering a variety of bridges. Many of them are old stone-built bridges with room for only one vehicle at a time. Some are fit only for walkers or cyclists and most are in daily use. They enable people to cross from one side of the Spey, or its tributaries, to the other.

Probably the most iconic of these bridges is the Telford Bridge which spans the Spey between Craigellachie and Dandaleith by Rothes. Constructed between 1812 and 1814 the ironwork was cast in Denbighshire. For anyone who didn’t know it before, it is hard to imagine that until 1972 it formed the main route from Rhynie to Lossiemouth. Buses and heavy vehicles had to manoeuvre on and off the bridge. Today, it is used only by walkers and cyclists. The site of a much older crossing is to be found at the Boat O’ Brig which spans the Spey between Dundurcas by Rothes and Boharm. Back in the 13thC Muriel de Polloc provided land for the St. Nicholas Hospital for poor people, which was assigned to the Bishop and Chapter of Elgin Cathedral. It is said that Muriel also built a wooden bridge there. However for some 250 years or so the crossing was served by a ferry boat until the road bridge was rebuilt around 1830; and the tolls used to support the hospital. The Boat O’ Brig is still in regular use with vehicles only being able to travel in one direction at a time.

Imagine the difficulty of crossing the Spey at these places without the bridges! In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus in Luke’s Gospel (16:24-26) Jesus tells of poor Lazarus who sat daily by the Rich Man’s gate, so hungry that he longed for even the crumbs that fell from the Rich Man’s plate. Alas the Rich Man never even noticed Lazarus. In time Lazarus died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The Rich Man also died and was in torment in Hades. He looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus at his side. Their roles were now reversed and the Rich Man begged Abraham to send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool his tongue because he was in agony in the fire (v24.) However Abraham said “remember in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.”

“And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross from there to us. (v26)” The point is that the way we live here and now affects our eternal salvation. Only by following in the footsteps of Jesus can we journey from earth to heaven. He is the way, the truth and the life. No-one comes to the Father except through Him. (John 14:6.) Follow him!

Rev. Bob Anderson

Reading 1 – Isaiah 11:1-10
Isaiah 11:1-10 New International Version (NIV) The Branch From Jesse 11 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— 3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling[a] together; and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. 10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.  
Reading 2 – Matthew 3:1-12
Matthew 3:1-12 New International Version (NIV) John the Baptist Prepares the Way 3 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”[a] 4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with[b] water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with[c] the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”