Above: Shop in Kyle in the early 1900s which originally belonged to my great aunt Mary
Growing up in the 1960s and 70s, it is fair to say that the vast majority of my contemporaries had little thought or respect for the Christian faith which was so important to our forefathers. Judges 2 v10 says this of a previous generation: “that generation were gathered unto their fathers: and there arose another generation after them, which knew not the Lord, nor yet the works which he had done for Israel” (scripture has a habit of being apt!)
An older generation, particularly in the Highlands were deeply spiritual and, as far as my generation were concerned, they appeared to be simple, naive peasants compared to the progressive sophisticated people of the sixties and seventies.
Listening to family members, Sunday School teachers and School teachers affirmed faith in my young mind which went totally against popular thinking and accepted the bible as absolute truth and the authority to live by. I have to admit however that I gained very little from church attendance, perhaps the preaching was aimed at a different audience? (Coming now unless God heals me) to the final chapter of my life in this lower world I can find absolutely no reason to do other than fully embrace that faith despite the constant loud drum of opposing voices to the message of the bible.
In 2017 people born in the 19th century appear to be totally remote from the modern world. Here are some of my long forgotten family who were very much grounded in the great Victorian era. I can accept the reasoning of those who tell me that as a “baby boomer” I am closer in many ways to the people photographed here than to my own “millennial” children and their generation.
Despite truly amazing advancement within modern medicine a cure for that “last enemy,” death, has not been found, nor is it even in sight according to the very bravest of futurologists who predict a wonderful new world in so many other ways. Death, unfair as it seems, creeps up on each one of us. The explanation given throughout the bible as to how it came is the only credible reasoning I have been able to find, so I trust the one who walked out of the tomb! Photographed above is my great grandfather Murdo Murchison snr, a crofter and fisherman from Drumbuie in Wester Ross. He was originally a farmer on Crowlin island (over to the right in the colour aerial photo at the bottom) Next we have my granny, Jessie Murchison nee MacDonald, a nurse who was born in the remote village of Applecross which is to the right of Crowlin Island shown in the photo at the bottom. Strangely, although the evidence is that cancerous brain tumours are not hereditary, she died from a brain tumour circa 1937.
Third photo has my great aunt Mary. As a teenager due to some wealthy relatives she worked in London which must have been very different from Drumbuie in the 1890s! As a young woman she had the shop in Kyle which is shown above. In middle age she bought and sold property in Edinburgh…unusual for a woman of her time.
The good news this Easter is that death and suffering have been conquered by that amazing God/man Jesus Christ who defeated the grave itself by dying on a Roman Cross 2000 years ago then proving his power over death by walking out of the tomb. He promises the place of many mansions to all who trust in him.
I cannot help but keep being encouraged by the the great ongoing spiritual kingdom talked of by Jesus to Pilate; during my lifetime it has expanded beyond belief. Just because Christianity is currently in decline in Scotland does not take from the fact that today there are more Christians worldwide than throughout history. No wonder the psalmist said “Thy kingdom hath none end at all it doth through ages all remain” Within my generation I would be considered to be pretty religious. What would my forebears have thought?
No doubt they would have considered my scriptural knowledge to be poor, my Sunday observance unacceptable and my attendance of church meetings paltry. I am grateful that God will judge and acquit me because of the substitutionary death of Jesus. Each of us indeed can look to and believe in that death which ended death!
So what motivated these good, hardworking, in some ways poor people, to meet often in the rain round the area for communion friendship and fellowship, walking miles or sailing? The answer has to be unshakeable belief in the glorious gospel message of the one who died and rose again.
Visiting Plockton or Wester Ross today is far more pleasant than it must have been making a living from land and sea in bygone ages, My favourite method of getting to this beautiful area has always been by air, the little airstrip will take a complex powerful four seater plane provided you have your wits about you! Usually I visited in a beat up old Cessna or Piper!