This year PCPC will celebrate for the 33rd time The “Kirking Service” on the last Sunday in September, September 25th. It is a favorite service of many members and is held jointly with the St. Andrews Society of Tampa Bay. The service is held at Palma Ceia at the 8:30 and 11:00am traditional services in the sanctuary. It will include a bagpiper at 8:30 and the full St. Andrews Society Pipe & Drum Band at 11:00, as well as the processional of the tartans. These services, (which are held in many churches in the USA, especially Presbyterian) all tend to trace themselves back to The Reverend Peter Marshall’s time as pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. in the 1950’s. And of course, as Peter Marshall was a Scot, he was his own liturgical resource.
The Unison Prayer and the Chaplain’s Prayer in the service are taken from the liturgy resources of the Church of Scotland. The Affirmation of Faith is a condensed version of a part of the Scots Confession. The hymns used are from the Scottish Psalter. “Kirking of the Tartans” means “Church-ing of the Tartans” or “Blessing of the Tartans” which really makes most sense if you understand it as a celebration and thanksgiving for our heritage of faith and blessing of “clans,” or families, of the church.
THE LEGEND OF THE HISTORY OF THE KIRKIN’ OF THE TARTAN
In 1746, after the Battle of Culloden, The English Parliament banned all things Scottish: wearing tartan plaid, speaking Gaelic, and Scottish music, pipes, and dancing. Crimes were punishable by death or exile.
Legend has it that the Highlanders came up with a plan to hide a piece of tartan in their clothing during church. During the service, at a set time, they would hold the tartan and bless it. When the Scots were forced to fight for the British Army, legend has it that the women would take a piece of their tartan to their church, or kirk, to be blessed and pray for the protection of the clan. And thus, the Kirkin’ O’ the Tartan celebration was created.
A PRAYER FROM CHRISTIAN REFORMATION LEADER JOHN KNOX
John Knox, who was a great leader in the Christian faith, is credited with reforming the church in Scotland. The influence and gifts of his character and commitment to Christ are still powerfully felt in the Kirk in Scotland, the Presbyterian Church, and around the world. There are several institutions named after him in Tampa Bay! He was a person who seriously practiced prayer and a portion of one of his prayers went like this:
“Give us Thy grace to live in that Christian charity which Thy Son, Our Lord Jesus, has so earnestly commanded to all the members of His body; so that other nations, provoked by our example, may set aside all ungodly war, contention, and strife, and study to live in tranquility and peace, as becometh the sheep of Thy pasture, and the people that daily look for our final deliverance, by the coming again of Our Lord Jesus. To whom, with Thee, and the Holy Spirit, be all Honor, Glory, and Praise, now and ever. Amen.”