Where would you find a castle-building competition, indoor jousting, a feast for over 50 people and young people preparing worship together? A youth sleepover, of course! This year’s Edinburgh event was the Sleepover by the Castle and was hosted by St Columba’s by the Castle. Over 30 delegates and 18 leaders came from all over Scotland, plus extra guests who joined us for the fun and games (and food). We were delighted to welcome Bishop John, not least because Glenalmond delegates who had brought their Pisky Bingo cards (which encourage their attendance at youth sleepovers throughout the year) had an opportunity for #bishopbagging! It was great to see Bishop John take up the challenge of indoor jousting, too…

On Sunday morning we all joined the regular congregation of St Columba’s for worship. The young people joined with the church’s own musicians to provide music throughout the service; they presented a dramatized version of the Gospel reading in two parts, and two delegates addressed us during the ‘sermon slot’. Samuel spoke powerfully about the Greatest Commandment (Matthew 22: 34-40) reflecting on how hard it is to love our neighbours. He surveyed historical progress towards this goal, for example in the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement; he also challenged us to examine worrying examples of backsliding in recent years, such as the undercurrents of xenophobia in Brexit debates. He ended with a challenge to each of us: what can we do to love our neighbours better? One of our younger delegates, Michael, spoke to us about the second half of the Gospel, in which the Pharisees questioned Jesus (Matthew 22: 41-46) – you can read his words, below. 

A group of delegates also led us in prayer. Their thoughtful intercessions invited us to pray for peace: in Spain and Catalonia; between America and North Korea; in Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq. They offered prayers for refugees, that they might find “a safe place to live and thrive.” They prayed for countries affected by recent hurricanes, that they might find “a way forward and repair the damage.” They prayed for LGBTQ+ people and for equality; for people who are bullied and misunderstood; for the finding of new bishops. They prayed for people who have died and those who are ill, and for their carers. Finally they prayed for the family they have found through the Scottish Episcopal Church’s Youth Week at Glenalmond : “We pray for our pisky fam, for wherever they are and whatever they are doing, that God will always be with them and love them.” These sleepover events are all about bringing this special family together at regular intervals throughout the year, so AMEN to that!

I would like to thank everyone who supported this event: Rev David Paton-Williams and all our generous hosts at St Columba’s by the Castle; the energetic leaders, without whom this event could not happen; the even more energetic delegates for responding so enthusiastically; the parents who make their attendance possible, and the visitors who supported this event, especially Bishop John.

Claire Benton-Evans

Michael’s address on Matthew 22: 41-46:

“We are now going to ask you some questions. When we say them to you we would like you to close your eyes and think. Close your eyes now please.

What do you think of the Messiah? [a thoughtful pause]

What questions would you ask if Jesus was here? [a thoughtful pause]

What do you think Jesus would say back? [a thoughtful pause]

How does Jesus’ answer make you feel? [a thoughtful pause]

You can open your eyes now. We would like you to answer this question please: why do you think the Pharisees didn’t ask Jesus any more questions?

[Michael invited answers from the congregation, and several people commented.]

Thank you for listening to the sermon.”

People commented afterwards that Michael’s questions had really made them think, and that they appreciated being given time to do so. One lady was delighted by the novelty of being thanked for listening to a sermon!

Simon Filsell

Diocesan Administrator