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Kirkin of the Tartan

October 16, 2022 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Come join us and our special guests from the Harrisburg Scottish Society as we celebrate Scottish heritage in our service and in a special after-worship fellowship.  Please invite your friends and neighbors of Scottish descent and feel free to wear your kilt!


Today  we  welcome members of the Scottish Society of Central Pennsylvania to our worship.    The Kirkin’ in its present form was probably first held in Washington’s New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in 1941.  The minister was Dr. Peter Marshall, Chaplain of the U.S. Senate.  He was also Chaplain of the Saint Andrew’s Society of Washington, whose members took part in the ceremony. We welcome the Society’s representatives to our worship this morning.


Kirk is the Scottish word for church, and the tartan with its distinctive cross-lined patterns represents specific Scottish clans, families, regions, and regiments.


John Knox, Scottish Reformer: Knox studied under John Calvin, the father of Presbyterianism, in Geneva, Switzerland in the 1500’s.  Upon returning to Scotland, he wrote the first Book of Church Order and established the first Presbyterian Churches.  The church spread to Ireland, and it was immigrants from Scotland and Ireland who brought the Presbyterian Church to America.


The Scots Confession – AD 1560: The Scots Confession is the first Reformed confession in the English language.  It has been called the charter of the Church of Scotland and of world Presbyterianism.  The Scottish Parliament, at the conclusion of a civil war, invited John Knox and five colleagues to prepare a confession of faith for the church and the nation.  They did their work in four days.  The style of the document bears the marks of haste, but the content was not hastily conceived.  The Scots Reformers had been preparing themselves and their thoughts for a long time.


Tartans and Plaids: Perhaps no symbol is more associated with Scotland and the Scottish tradition than the colorful Highland dress.  The tartan is an old tradition, with many references to its early Scottish literature.  The ancient tartan was described as “chequered” or “striped” or “sundrei coloured.”  When we refer to the “sett” of a tartan, we mean the pattern, and a length of tartan is made of one “sett” repeated over and over again until the desired length is reached.  For many centuries, tartans formed part of the everyday dress of the Highland people, and it was there that its use continued and developed, until it became recognized as a symbol of clan kinship.  Tartans are registered with the Scottish Tartan Society.


The Beadle: During the Middle Ages and through the Reformation, Bibles were rare among common people.  The Bible of the Kirk (church) was a treasured possession.  The value of the sacred scriptures and the danger of theft led to the establishment of a special lay office within the Kirk known as the “Beadle.”  The Beadle begins the worship service by carrying the Bible ceremoniously into the sanctuary.  The Beadle removes the Bible from the Kirk for safekeeping following the service.


Bagpipes: The bagpipe is a musical instrument now regarded as the national instrument of Scotland.  Each clan has its own bagpiper, and its fame was based to some extent on the bagpiper’s ability.  Crimond, the bagpiper of the clan McLeod, wrote a tune to the 23rd Psalm still used today.


October 16, 2022
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
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