Bread for the Journey

New Sermon Series starting on Sunday 8 January 2023

Have you ever wondered why do so many, actually most, New Year’s Resolutions fail? I believe they fail because they are primarily based on our own endeavours and strength. Most of us start out in the New Year with great plans to turn things around but not enough energy. Most people haven’t got enough strength to turn around in bed on the 1st of January!

We finish the year being pretty exhausted. From early November onwards we get busy preparing for Christmas. We want to do it right, giving our best shot. So, we are writing Christmas cards/emails, or yearly account, do our shopping, cleaning the house, the car, decorating our homes inside and outside, we travel visiting loved ones and friends, get into partying, and Christmas concerts, and on the way we pick up an illness, a virus or two. You get the picture. Then as Christmas is over, we get ready for the New Year celebrations. Getting home, clearing up after Christmas, and get into fresh visits and parties.

When the clock hits midnight turning into the 2nd of January, we feel absolutely exhausted and are supposed to begin a new year with fresh energy and enthusiasm. Most people are not in the mood to have a fresh start.

We need something that will boost our energy, clear our vision, and get us ready for the journey ahead.

Bread has been the basic most important diet for cultures, societies throughout millennia. A meal is not complete without it. That’s why one is/was called the Bread Earner of the Family if he/she is earning a wage to support their families.

Bread is crucial, central. Jesus himself calls himself the Bread of Life (John 8:35). Bread is central in salvation history in Scripture. We do wisely if we consider taking bread with our daily meals, both physically and spiritually. Hence, I invite you to consider fixing your daily diet this year before you embark on big changes in your life, so you will have the strength and energy to see those transformations through and you will be able to finish the journey! The angel said to Elijah when he ran out of steam: “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” (1 Kings 19:7)

We often feel the journey is too much for us, we feel so not just at the end or the beginning of a year, but often at any particular time of the year! We need the BREAD God is offering us in Jesus Christ. Find out the richest food God is offering you.

So, join our services in person or via the internet and take and eat all that God is offering you. Come, and taste and see that the LORD is good! Bread, and food tastes so much batter in company, doesn’t it? Take your fill!

[from GV]

Have You Seen the Planets?

Have you seen all the planets God has created?

An amazing astronomical event, and this is not an exaggeration, was visible to us (unless you were obstructed by the thick clouds) on Wednesday. Every planet of the solar system was visible simultaneously! Venus, Mercury, Saturn, Jupiter, and Mars could all be seen in that order in the northern hemisphere with the naked eye, starting from the south-western horizon and moving east. Uranus, located between Mars and Jupiter, and Neptune, which is between Saturn and Jupiter, can be seen with binoculars or a telescope until the end of the year. What an amazing Creation we live in!

All eight planets appeared on Wednesday night and were set to reach conjunction on Thursday night. (the Guardian reported)

When the star of Christ appeared on the night sky on the east many missed it! Only the wise took note of it. Have you seen the planets? Or did you miss them by any chance? Maybe because of the clouds, timing, or you were not interested in them. That’s OK, people are not the same after all.

It was amazing to see the planets all together but imagine how amazing it is to see and know God making His home in our midst! (c.f. John 1:14) How amazing it is to see and be with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the creator of all the stars and planets, and forever! That is also possible to all, whether it is cloudy, or sunny, day or night, because whoever sees the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life! For the Son will raise them all to eternal life on the Last Day! This is the will of God Almighty! (c.f. John 6:39-40)

God came to make his dwelling in our neighbourhood at Christmas! Stars and planets, heaven and earth praise Him! How amazing is our God who created those amazing planets!? All glory, honour and praise are due to Him for ever!

May His grace and love shine over you and your path in the coming New Year!

[from GV]


Luke 2:8-12

The first Christmas pilgrims, the shepherds, did not find the secret scrolls of a new religion in a rock stable, nor a mistic light, or an aged, bearded guru. Rather they found a baby wrapped in cloths among the hay, in the midst of animals. For God chose to come into the world in human flesh that way (John 1:14)!

God loved us so much that he came in human form to be with those whom He created so all can get to know Him truly, fully! He poured His divine being into the fragile earthen vessel of a human being (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:7), so that anyone may drink forgiveness, hope, love, and eternal life from it! He became that life giving drink to all, tax collectors, fallen women and men, sick and sorrowing, Roman soldiers, Gentiles, Pharisees, all who thirst for righteousness, who thirst for the love of God! Out of His abundance, from His grace and mercy we drink today too.

God gave His one and only Son – not just as a cute little baby in the manger, but in exchange for everyone, as ransom – God gave His Son for sacrifice, suffering, for the cross, to death in exchange for us all. God’s love was so amazing that He came to suffer and die for you and me. Can anyone explain why God let His one and only Son die for our sins? We can’t even explain the mystery of human love, how could we explain God’s love for us who do not deserve it? We can only receive it and accept it. And when we begin to accept His love in Jesus Christ we can bear our worldly trials, and suffering, even death. We can cope even with life itself! And we can have joy. For this is what it means that all who believe in Jesus will not perish … they will not perish in trials, suffering, sorrow, death, or life – for the light of Christ that shined up at Christmas outshines all the darkness! And the darkness cannot overcome Him! Ever!

May you experience and be filled with the light and love of Jesus Christ this Christmas and always!

With every blessing for Christmas and the New Year,

George, your minister

“Streams in the Desert” – Spirit Soaking

Sometimes all we want to do is sit with Father God and let Him tell us how much He loves us…
Pauline will be leading another Spirit Soaking event on Saturday 11th June, from 10-12, in the sanctuary.

SPIRIT SOAKING ~ 10:00-12:00, Saturday 11 June 2022, SSCB

Again, this will be a time where we meet together to let Holy Spirit encourage and refresh us. The session will begin with a short, guided reflection to help us focus on God. We’ll then spend time both in small groups and alone, listening to what Holy Spirit may be saying to us and praying for each other. Numbers will be small so that the morning is as relaxed as possible, and there will be a break for beverages and cake.
As always, if you’re thinking you have to be “super-spiritual” to take part, this is not the case! You can sign up via the SSCB website or speak to Pauline or to Jacqueline Young.
Looking forward to welcoming you on 11th June!

[from Pauline Dalrymple]

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Summer Day of Prayer for Revival

Days of Prayer have been refreshing blessings in our church family for many years, now. We give thanks to God that after the pandemic now we can be back in person in the church for a Day of Prayer. Our Summer Day of Prayer is from 10:00 to 22:00 on Saturday 28 May in the New Prayer Room!

Summer Day of Prayer 10:00 – 22:00, Saturday 28 May 2022

Our New Prayer Room is compact and cosy, welcoming and ready for prayer warriors to fill it and decorate if with their prayers! It is what was known as the Vestry! Now it is the home base and powerhouse of Prayer at SSCB!

We are inviting you to make good use of this space and opportunity to come into the presence of God Almighty, our Heavenly Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ with your prayers, devotion, and love.

Specifically, we invite you to pray for revival! Make this day, 28 May a day of prayer and fasting for revival. Pray and fast as the Lord and His Spirit leads you. Make it the beginning of your committed prayers and fasting for Revival!

Why should you pray for revival?

Revival is an in-breaking of God’s kingdom into our broken and suffering world with the grace, mercy and love of God and reorders our lives, reorders our church, and transforms the world so it will be never the same again! Revival humbles many and saves many! That’s why you should pray for revival! Here are some suggestions how to pray and what to pray for. These are only a few, add your owns as the Spirit leads you.

  • Pray for revival, pray for God’s power to be manifest around us and in us, making us faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ (Acts 1:8)! We, humans have got power and ability to do great things, achieve amazing feats, but our power and abilities have been corrupted by sinfulness and we can never achieve and do what God can do in the world! Pray for Holy Spirit to be poured out in greater measure into your life, into our church family!
  • Pray for revival, pray for a great awakening (Acts 3:19-20). We have become so sleepy towards God, not just towards sermons! Pray to be awakened, refreshed to the full majesty and glory of God, as Isaiah did (Isaiah 6:1-8)!
  • Pray for revival, pray for the salvation of people around you, in your home, workplace, in our schools, hospitals, police stations, shops, neighbourhood, and not forgetting the church! A revived church is noticed by others, and they will ask the questions: What does this mean? What shall we do? (Acts 2:12; 2:37), which brings them to faith in Jesus! Pray that Jesus will be lifted up in our lives as a church family, He will be honoured, and people will be drawn to him!
  • Pray for revival with expectancy! Trust and expect God hearing you and acting in immeasurable might in response to your prayer (Ephesians 3:20)! Don’t pray for God to help us in our work but pray that He will pour out his Holy Spirit immeasurably greater than we can imagine, to do His work in us!
  • Plead with the Lord in your prayers, persist, don’t give up but pray for revival consistently (Luke 11:5-13). Ask God to do once more what you read about in Scripture! Pray and ask Him to be faithful to His great Name! Ask the Lord: Will you do this again? Glorify your name among us, in our city once more! Do it for the sake of Christ!
  • Wait for the Lord! Don’t just ask Him but wait and listen. Wait for His timing, and action, and when He moves, you must move also! Listen, obey, and act as He moves you by His Spirit (Acts 2:1-12)!
  • Pray for revival because God is still God! He is our God, and he alone is our hope! The world around us seems to fall apart, sin is powerful, evil seems to be winning. But our hope and trust are in God Almighty! He is still God! And nothing can move Him! Jesus is alive and He is on the throne in heaven and has authority over heaven and earth, and He will not be moved from there! He is your hope, our hope! Pray with hope for revival!
  • Pray for revival with humble, repentant heart! Ask God, what is hindering Him and His purposes in your own life? What hinders Him moving in power in our church family? What hinders Him to move in might and grace in the church in Scotland? What hinders Him to move in saving grace in our land and nation? Ask Him what do we need to change, cleanse, purify in our lives, in our church family life, in your own life?  And when He answers, respond to Him in repentance and let Him move the hindrances, obstacles away! ‘Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.’ (Acts 3:19-20).

So, make time and come and pray and fast! Book a time period on the sign-up sheet below and: Pray with passion! Pray with humility! Pray with urgency! Pray with expectancy! Pray without ceasing! Come and pray for Revival! For the only way to blot out evil, sin, and darkness in your own heart, in the church, and the world is letting the glory of God shining forth in power! Come Lord Jesus!

[from GV, inspired by and based on David McLemore: Why Your Church Should Pray for Revival]

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What is Faith?

At Lunch Club this month, I spoke about what faith is.

I had been wondering where Jeremiah found his resilience to keep going back to the people of Judah to tell them that they had turned their back on God – again – and bad things were going to happen – again – unless they turned back to Him – again!

And it brought me to thinking about FAITH.  It can only have been the strongest, the most resilient, the most trusting faith that carried Jeremiah through.

But what is faith?

As many of you know, I wasn’t a Christian for many years of my life.  In fact, I still have more years behind me as a non-Christian than years as a Christian.  But going on an Alpha Course changed everything for me.  And one of the things that is brilliant about Alpha is that they tell amazing stories to make complex ideas more simple.  I wonder where they got that idea from?

One of the sessions was called ‘How can I have faith’ – and I am going to shamelessly plagiarise a story here that they use to illustrate faith.

The story is about a man called Charles Blondin.

He was a famous American tightrope walker and acrobat in the nineteenth century.  He drew large crowds to watch him, particularly when he started crossing Niagara Falls on a tightrope.  His act began with a relatively simple crossing using a balancing pole – but his crossings became more and more complex and theatrical – and drew ever bigger crowds.

There is the story of an occasion when our royal family were in the US and went to watch him perform. He started with his simple crossing with the balancing pole.  Then he crossed the tightrope on stilts, then blindfolded; next he stopped halfway to cook and eat an omelette. He then wheeled a wheelbarrow from one side to the other as the crowd cheered. He put a sack of potatoes into the wheelbarrow and wheeled that across. The crowd cheered louder.

Then he approached the royal party and asked the Duke of Newcastle, ‘Do you believe that I could take a man across the tightrope in this wheelbarrow?’

‘Yes, I do,’ said the Duke. ‘Hop in!’ replied Blondin. The crowd fell silent.  The Duke of Newcastle would not accept his challenge.

It was then that Blondin posed the question of the crowd – “Who will get in the wheelbarrow?”

No one was willing to volunteer.

Eventually, an old woman stepped out of the crowd and climbed into the wheelbarrow. Blondin wheeled her all the way across and all the way back. The old woman was Blondin’s mum, the only person willing to put her life in his hands.

The story of Charles Blondin paints a real-life picture of what faith actually is. The crowd had watched his daring feats. They said they believed, but their actions proved they still thought it was all too risky.

Faith is trusting in God.

When I first heard this, it took my breath away – could I get in the wheelbarrow?  What were the risks of getting in?  And more importantly, what were the risks of not getting in?

Then and now, I chose the wheelbarrow and have literally never regretted that decision in the years since, though it changed my life in all sorts of ways I would not have imagined then.

What have you chosen?  And what do you choose today?

[from Alison Franks]

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Written Word: 7. Samuel and Kings

In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. (2 Samuel 11:14)

Through one piece of writing, David ensured the death of one of his most trusted officers. David (already married to seven women, from Michal to Eglah) wanted Bathsheba (already married to Uriah). He arranged Uriah’s death and married her. It may be appropriate to remember Deuteronomy 17:17’s command to kings from a couple of articles ago: “He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.” Be careful of the power of writing. It can seal someone’s fate, for worse and for better.

In both 1 Kings and 2 Kings, there are various stories of, appropriately enough, kings. The focus is on those specific stories, but we are not to lose sight of the fact that the kings did many other things besides – these acts did not define them entirely. We are told in each instance that the rest of the acts of [insert name of king] are written in [insert name of book]. The invitation is there – go and research this person and his deeds; see what is recorded and note the evidence. In the same way, we can cross-refer when tracing evidence. We have already seen how Erastus is named in Acts as being an Aedile in Corinth, and how cross-referencing evidence was found engraved on paving slabs unearthed in Corinth in 1929. 

So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. In those letters she wrote: “Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.” (1 Kings 21:8-10)

Ahab wants Naboth’s vineyard but Naboth refuses to exchange or sell. Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, says she will get the vineyard for him. She writes letters in Ahab’s name that culminates in Naboth’s death with Ahab grabbing the vineyard. There is little that Naboth could have done about this: the letters were in the king’s name and sealed with his seal – how would Naboth know that they had been written without Ahab’s knowledge. But Ahab was quick enough to take advantage and claim the vineyard. The Lord sent Elijah to call him out. Despite behaving in the ‘vilest manner’ Ahab knew when he had been found out and humbled himself in remorse, as a result of which the hand of punishment was stayed. There is a lesson there that the spoken word of God trumps even the written command of a king.

The king gave this order to all the people: “Celebrate the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” (2 Kings 23:21)

Josiah was unlike Ahab. As he honoured God, so he found himself led to honour God further. And this led to Josiah being blessed. After reading the Lord’s command and then celebrating the Passover (which had not happened for many years) he was emboldened enough to rid his kingdom of mediums, spiritists, idols, gods and other ‘detestable things’ until eventually we are told “neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did” and (crucially) that he did so “with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength” (v25). Remember with all your ‘muchness’? What a compliment to be remembered for that! Write that on your heart.

[from Timothy Pitt]

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A Visit to La Jolla Christian Fellowship

Our Session Clerk, Tim, recently visited our brothers and sisters at La Jolla Christian Fellowship, San Diego. Here is His account of his adventures over the pond.

What went before: Many of you know Adam Stadtmiller already. He is the Senior Pastor at La Jolla Christian Fellowship (LJCF) in San Diego, USA. He has worshiped with us in Edinburgh a few times. Last October, he and Pastor Sean ran a Holy Spirit Workshop with us and sat in on a Kirk Session meeting.

Setting the Journey: I had a week of annual leave to use or lose. I had a standing invitation from LJCF (we all do!) and my lovely wife’s blessing for me to enjoy a week’s holiday in the sunshine. So off I went to San Diego.

First Impressions: The building is similar to ours: old wooden panelling and pews (light brown, not our dark stain), the rear ones replaced by a foyer and glass wall. And the LJCF church family themselves? They are us! I had a strong sense of not just a warm welcome, but of being amongst family. It wasn’t a smothering welcome, but a familiar one of genuine affection; as if we had always known each other even though some of us had only just met. It was lovely to meet people who have been praying for us and our church.

The First Sunday: I positively revelled in praising and adoring our Saviour, Jesus, surrounded by this family, drinking in new yet familiar surroundings. I have watched their services on-line for some years, choosing a pew at the back of their church and gradually being encouraged to move forward as I became more involved (on-line Scripture readings and devotionals for them). Now I was in that seat near the front, joining them in person as we praised God. Life is good! I delivered our gift – a communion cloth in Church tartan with a verse that was supposed just to represent our thrill at the link with LJCF, but which spoke a deeper note to them as it was the very verse they had chosen this year as part of a ‘unity response’ to civil unrest in the USA last year. The verse is at the end of this article. That alignment was an astonishing moment of blessing.

Through the Week: I sat in on a staff training day. Bathed in prayer and worship (the praise band leader was part of the training, so of course we had some praise songs!), we focussed on effective and efficient working – what must happen each week, what ideally happens and what (even though it has just ‘always been done’) is actually a bonus extra and should not be a priority. We had a Holy Spirit Workshop, similar to the one we held at SSCB. It was an amazing evening – the praise music not just an outpouring of worship but helping to set the tone. People came forward for prayer, connected with Holy Spirit, receiving healing, comfort and encouragement. Not a dry eye (of joy!) in the house.

The Second Sunday: Adam invited me to preach as it (a) allowed a different insight into the Word of God and (b) further introduced SSCB to LJCF. Despite the preaching, there was an amazing response of fellowship and simple interest in us. Prayer works, and I saw that to Pray Across the Pond yielded so many positive results beyond our own immediate requests of God.

The Follow-up: LJCF want to come and visit, and a group is looking at coming over, perhaps at the start of Advent. Are you interested? Can you help welcome them? They really are interested in us. They support us. They pray for us. They love us. Let’s return that through our own support, prayer and love. In unity, loving Jesus.

“How good and pleasant it is
when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1)
[from Timothy Pitt]

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Written Word: 6. Joshua

Appoint three men from each tribe. I will send them out to make a survey of the land and to write a description of it, according to the inheritance of each. Then they will return to me. (Joshua 18:4)

Joshua had led the Israelites into the Promised Land. They had conquered the land and most of it had been divided and claimed by the tribes of Israel. But some land had still not been taken; seven tribes had not yet claimed their allotted land and received their inheritance. In truth, they had become accustomed to resting where they were and did not push on to complete God’s mission for them. Joshua assembled all the Israelites and spoke out. He asked how long they would just wait, not even beginning to take possession of the land the Lord had given them.

Perhaps this is an instruction to us today that the Word of God to us is not necessarily “This is what I want for you … and here it is on a plate.” Perhaps, rather, “This is what I want for you … now are you prepared for your actions to show your faith in my plan for you? Are you prepared to act; to claim what I have made ready for you?”

Joshua was perhaps alert to the likely response of a people who had grown accustomed to inactivity: the active response may not be whole-hearted. Have you ever been tempted to short-cut? To take a guess, even an educated one, and then present it as if it is your personal experience? Joshua wanted them to claim ownership of the land and to claim ownership of its Godly provenance. So he instructed them to appoint representatives who would walk the boundaries and survey it, writing it all down so that there would be no doubt or argument. No person or tribe could guess at their land boundary and claim, even innocently, what they were not entitled.

The people would, through their writing, provide evidence that they had carried out the task and actually seen the land in order to claim it; seen and claimed their own land and not another tribe’s.

And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the Lord. (Joshua 24:26)

After the land was allotted, Joshua summarised the Israelites’ history, showing God was always there with them. He asked them to decide if they followed the gods of the Egyptians they had left behind, the gods of the Amorites whose land they had taken over, or God, who was – and is – with them. He made that famous statement: “But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”(Joshua 24:15). They reaffirmed their choice and promise to serve God, so Joshua made a covenant for them, reaffirming decrees and laws: you don’t just follow God in name only. God has given a way to live, and this is the way to be followed. We know that Jesus is the way (and the truth and the life). The Israelites chose the way of God. And it was important for them that, having made this choice, they would hold each other accountable to this choice. It really mattered to them that they had made this covenant, this promise renewed. So it was written down, and a stone memorial was set up as a witness to the promise. The law was written by Joshua and written in stone for us all. Salvation was won by Jesus and written in love of us all. Write that on your heart.

[from Timothy Pitt]

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Revival Challenge

Lord, I have heard of your fame;
    I stand in awe of your deeds, Lord.
Repeat them in our day,
    in our time make them known;
    in wrath remember mercy.
” Habakkuk 3:2

As we continued our sermon series ‘Shaping Our Story’ last Lord’s Day, we reflected, with the help of Isaiah 6:1-8, on how a revival starts. Isaiah saw and personally experienced the awesomeness, holiness, and glory of God.

In Scripture we find countless stories about the majesty and greatness of God, the power and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the sweeping, purging might of the Holy Spirit transforming lives and changing history. Habakkuk, living and prophesying about a century after Isaiah, longed to have the experience and vision of Isaiah in his own time. This was not a selfish desire, just for himself, but for the people of God.

When we read passages like Isaiah 6, we also kindle similar yearnings like Habakkuk to see God acting mightily in our lives as he did in the past when He stirred up people and His church to revival. When we hear of revivals of the past or at other parts of the world we long to be par to it, hungering for God’s presence, peace in our hearts and in our world, thirsting for His justice, and just having more of God in our lives.

We need more of God in our lives and in the church! But how can one start a revival? How can I be part of it, or experience it? It is not us who start a revival! It is the Lord God Almighty! He starts it and completes it! But He never forces it upon you or on His church! He moves when His people seek His face and ask for revival! In His time he responds to their prayer!

That’s how it began on the Isle of Lewis and that’s what we saw in Isaiah 6. At a time of crisis God’s people called out to Him. God revealed Himself in fullness and Isaiah met Him as He was, in His holiness, glory, and might. In the presence of holy God Isaiah met himself as he, Isaiah was, sinful and unclean, just like the people among whom he lived! In his brokenness and repentance, he met God full of mercy, his guilt was taken away and his sin was atoned for! Being revived Isaiah was ready and willing to go and meet God’s people with God’s message for revival, spreading it across the land.

When we long for revival the revival must start with us before it will spread across the land.


When we long for revival the revival must start with us before it will spread across the land. The question is, are you willing to get it rolling? Do you want revival here at SSCB? Will you pray for revival? Will you ask God to revive you first, then His people here at SSCB, and across the city and beyond? Will you pray as Isaiah and Habakkuk did? Will you pray as the old, housebound sisters prayed at Barvas, Isle of Lewis! Will you pray for revival as the minister and the elders, challenged by those sisters, did?

I challenge you to pray and fast for revival. Pray that God will send His Holy Spirit to cleanse us, wash us clean, making us ready and strong for His service. Pray that Holy Spirit will revive our church family, visit us with His fire and power. Pray for more of God in your life, in our church, in our community and city!

If you heard of God’s fame and you stand in awe of His deeds of the past – will you pray that He will renew them in our day?

[from GV]

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Light Party this coming Monday… Do please let us know if you and your child are attending!

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