Monday, 30 March 2020

Bute House was once the family home of a Unionist MP

Bute House in Edinburgh is the official residence of the First Minister of Scotland and currently occupied by Nicola Sturgeon of the SNP.

However it was once the childhood home of a Scot who was the Unionist MP for North Down from 1910 to 1918.  

Lord Selsdon.jpg
William Mitchell-Thomson MP
His name was Sir William Mitchell-Thomson (1877-1938) and he was the son of Sir Mitchell Mitchell-Thomson FRSE FSA (1846-1918), a Scottish merchant and businessman who served as Lord Provost of Edinburgh from 1897 to 1900.

He was born at 7 Carlton Terrace in Edinburgh on 15 April 1877 but his father bought Bute House after the death of the previous owner in 1887 and lived there for thirty years until his death in 1918,

William Mitchell-Thomson was married in 1907 and presumably thereafter he had his own residence but during the time that he was MP for North Down, a period that covered the home rule crisis and the Great War, he would have been a regular visitor to his father's home at Bute House.

The grandeur of the house reflected the wealth and influence of the family and such influence played an important part in the Ulster Unionist campaign against home rule.

Sunday, 22 March 2020

'I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day'

We hear a lot today about 'self-isolation' and 'social distancing' and those words remind me of a man in the Bible who also experienced isolation and social distancing.

John had been a disciple of Jesus, one of the twelve, and is described as 'the disciple whom Jesus loved'.  He had served the Lord faithfully and had already written four books of the New Testament.

However there was a time when Christians were experiencing persecution by the Roman authorities and John was banished into exile, to Patmos, a small, rocky island in the Aegean Sea.  By then he was well on in years and the last remaining of the twelve disciples.

In Revelation 1:9 he wrote: 'I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation ... was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.'

He was far away from his friends and his fellow believers and he was unable to meet with them on the Lord's Day as he would normally have done (Hebrews 10:25).  There on Patmos he experienced isolation and tribulation but he was able to say that he was 'in the Spirit' on the Lord's Day.

Image result for patmos mapHe was isolated from his fellow-believers and he was far distant from them but there on Patmos he met with God and God met with him.  Indeed God spoke to him, giving him a wonderful revelation, which is now the last book in the Bible.

Even though we may not be able to meet today, at least physically, with other believers, other than those in our immediate household we can meet with God.  We too can be 'in the Spirit on the Lord's Day.

The phrase that is translated 'the Lord's Day' is different from 'the day of the Lord' and appears only once in the New Testament.

Moreover the same word that is translated 'the Lord's' appears in only one other place in the New Testament and that is in the phrase the Lord's Supper.  I believe that links the two together - the Lord's Supper and the Lord's Day.

The Lord's Supper is a reminder of the Lord Jesus Christ dying as our substitute, for our sin, at Calvary..

The Lord's Day is a reminder of the Lord Jesus Christ rising from the dead on the first day of the week (John 20:1).

Living He loved me, dying He saved me;
Buried He carried my sins far away;
Rising He justified, freely forever;
One day He's coming, O glorious day.
John Wilbur Chapman (1859-1918)

If we know Him as our Saviour and Lord, the one who died for us, the one who rose for us, and the one who is coming again for us, then we too can be 'in the Spirit on the Lord's Day', wherever we may be.