Category Archives: Exceptional Circumstances

Prayer for 1 July

Hello, everyone

Once again, we come to our shared time of prayer, and we come with a palpable sense of movement, which we share with the whole of Scottish society, as the regulation, discipline and expectations placed on every individual begin to change, and – it’s difficult to escape icy metaphors, isn’t it? – a thaw sets in. 

As I finish this note to you off, a virtual – and very real – meeting of the Business Committee is about to start. The work of processing and applying the information and advice on emerging into new phases of this evolving pandemic – the collective leadership we offer – is  already begun, and being shaped.

Our congregations, and especially their Sessions, within the bounds look to the Presbytery both for guidance and also for reinforcement. Decisions they will take, framed by our own decisions as a court, will be grounded in their own perceptions of where their members, and their communities are – and will inevitably be second-guessed! We will need to “have their backs”, as the Americans say. 

We have reached a point when the demands and expectations on us are about to multiply, whether what lies ahead of us is a best-case or worst-case scenario, or, more likely, something in between. And we know what we pray for! It seems to me that our job, now, is to nurture hope, to bind wounds, to shape expectations, and to be realistic and responsible. And yet again, I’m aware that I’m not telling you anything you don’t know. 

It seems appropriate to use our time in shared prayer (about eight and a half minutes, on average, according to YouTube!) this week reflecting on the work before us, and asking for strength and vision to do it. 

Yet again, these prayers are offered to gather together what we know and offer that to God, to draw us into shared and individual reflection on where we are, what it means, and where we may be being called to go. They reflect my own uncertainty, and need.

And they are to enable us to pray for each other, and know that we are prayed for by each other. Use the time – mid-day on Wednesday; use the words if they help – if not, use others! But pray…

Yours in the adventure of Christ, 

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But this I call to mind,

and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases,

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;

great is thy faithfulness.

“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,

“therefore I will hope in him.”

The LORD is good to those who wait for him,

to the soul that seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly

for the salvation of the LORD. (Lamentations 3:21-26) 

Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come. (Isaiah 55:33) 

For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. (Romans 8:24-5)

Besides this you know what hour it is, how it is full time now for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed… (Romans 13:11) 

i) Our Calling

Loving God, 

we are your Church, to your glory, and for the world! 

That is our calling, nothing less.

There is the shape of our faith – 

that Jesus calls us to live in the world: 

  • that where we cannot see, we ask, and are guided; 
  • that where we do not know the day, or the hour, we know you, and trust in you, and have hope;

So we, your Church wait: 

  • patiently, with an impatient world
  • impatiently and actively for the coming of your kingdom 
  • waiting for the doing of your loving will

on earth, as it is in heaven.

ii) Our Situation and Society’s

And we have waited, with our communities, and our whole, impatient society.

and there are those who have found this waiting hard, 

and waiting like this – this lockdown – almost unendurable. 

For those shielding, and those shielding them; 

For those who have found it so difficult to go out 

When going out, for them, was always with friends,,

Or to go to friends or family, 

Or to go out, and away from the regularity of life

For a day out. 

For those who long to worship in the community of their congregation again…

Lord, hear our prayer.

For our society, in its duress and frustration,

its anticipation of the easing of restrictions, 

and its impetuous urge, not  always mastered

to push ahead, seeking something that might be normal,

terrified of the certainty that things will be different,

yet perhaps ready to embrace radical change to its life,

Lord of hope, let us offer your hope.

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iii) For the Church in the World

This week, we pray for ourselves,

not in selfish preoccupation, 

but because we are a Presbytery, with work to do,

leadership to offer, and support and help expected of us. 

We have guidance to assimilate, and to process.

Sessions and congregations looking to us, 

The expectations and apprehensions of our flock – your flock – 

to listen to, attentively and lovingly, 

and shape, according to what we know, 

And what we can only guess at. 

We pray for them… 

We thank you for the work of co-ordinating work of the Business Committee, 

for the work of the Presbytery’s Committees, 

creative and responsive, responsible and expert; 

for Conveners and members, 

for those who offer pastoral care in our name.

We cannot pray for ourselves without praying for each other;

for we together are this Presbytery.

We pray for each other and ourselves

In our shared calling.  

We have in our prayers the churches in the communities within our bounds, 

delighting in their calling, local and universal, 

To be outcrops of the Great Church in the places you have put them, 

and unsure of how to do it in this alien timescape. 

As we ask you to empower us, they seek us to empower them, 

We pray for them…

We have the national leadership of the Church to uphold in prayer, 

the expertise they consult and disseminate to attend to, 

their duty, like ours, of planning for a future different to any we had planned for, 

and which we still cannot imagine. 

We hold them in our prayers. 

And we have the public witness of the Church 

to the Gospel and its hope – 

ourselves, and the congregations 

of all the other traditions within our bounds, all together – 

to attend to: this above all. 

We pray for the unity of our shared witness. 

And we have our pastoral care of each other laid upon us,

the easy yoke and light burden of Jesus, 

in which we delight – for we delight in each other.

We hold each other in our prayers. 

Our prayers for ourselves are prayers for these others. 

Our high privilege is to serve, to enable, to mediate, to lead, to listen.

How can we do any of this without your patient, gentle strength,

the vision you inculcate, 

the impossible possibilities you alone can open? 

Lord, hear us.

Lord, graciously hear us.

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iv) From Today Into Tomorrow

As the frozenness of lockdown yields to a thaw,

hope lightens our hearts in new ways. 

“At some point…” has given way to “Soon…” 

And stages and timetables seem now to map our way

And measure society’s journey beyond this strangeness. 

But ours is the responsibility of charting

The Kirk’s journey into Argyll’s altered future. 

We need your wisdom, 

guiding God, pioneering Christ, chaos-shaping Spirit. 

We look always and only to you. 

And as Jesus taught us, so we pray… 

Prayer for 24 June

Hello again, everyone.

As I promised last week, the focus of these prayers will be mental health. I’ve wrestled with them, I can tell you! 

Every Minister, every preacher, with a grain of sense (and even I rise over that very low bar occasionally!) knows that a lot of what he says to a congregation – real or virtual – will be things they already know.

There are, however, bits of what follow that you won’t know – quite a lot of them, actually. 

They’re to do with the thoughts I’ve had, and the places I’ve been, over the last three months, mostly without leaving the Manse! They’re to do with the many conversations I’ve had, and the conversations you’ve had won’t have been the same. 

They’re my thoughts on my experience of others, and what they’ve shared of their experiences, joy and anxiety and pain, consolation and faith and hope. Darkness and light. Light, and, we must also admit, darkness. 

I offer them as my thoughts, so that in agreement, hesitation or disagreement, you can join me in bringing our thoughts, all together, to God. 

I hope that all is well with you; I rejoice and am grateful for, everything I hear of people’s wellness and resilience. But I don’t presume; these things aren’t virtues, as much unfortunate talk (“He’s a battler! He’ll come through!” implying that perhaps those who didn’t, weren’t – which is profoundly untrue and hurtful.) 

I don’t presume. So if you’d like to talk, then, like so many others in your lives I hope, I’m here. 

And I know you’re there, and that I’m in your prayers, as you are in mine. 

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PS Once again, I have to conduct a funeral tomorrow, so I shall have record this.

You’ll see the preview of it at 11.45  on the United Church of Bute YouTube Channel. 12 o’clock is still the hour of Presbytery Prayers, of course, and I shall be thinking of you at that point. I will actually be watching, but I can’t guarantee being able to conduct. 

So – another of our COVID-19 virtual ironies – I’ll be in exactly the same position as anyone else using YouTube to frame their prayers!

Leading myself in prayer will be a new experience for me. It’s yet more food for thought…

…and when he came near, he asked him,
“What do you want me to do for you?”
(Luke 18:40-41)

When Jesus saw him and knew that he had been lying there a long time, 

he said to him, “Do you want to be healed?” (John 5:6)

When Jesus heard this, he marvelled at him… (Luke 7:9)

Judge not… (Matthew 7:1)

Even Jesus did not presume.

Even Jesus asked, and attended to what was said,

And what was not… 

Even Jesus listened.

Especially – Jesus listened. 

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On the cusp of change,

Possible, actual and prospective,

We take stock of what we have seen,

What we have learned, 

What we may have missed…

In this eerie strangeness, 

you have given your Church so much in which to rejoice. 

There have been good things, wonderful things – 

but things have not “been wonderful.”

We have been surprised by joy – 

but all has not been joy. 

You are the God of Truth, ALL truth

and we are chronic simplifiers.

Shrinking complexity to comfortable size. 

Have we denied parts of our own experience,

so that we cannot now see the complexity of others’ experience? 

We think on this.

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We pray for our own congregations, our communities, and the people we know, or imagine we do:

  • for those who are faring well, and finding new things to do, and rediscovering old projects and pleasures, and doing well in this; 
  • for those whose isolation is unprepared-for, new and unsettling;
  • for those whose old isolation has been deepened;
  • for those cut off from the sources of strength embedded in routines now disrupted;
  • for those who mourn.

We pray for those who wrestle with things we cannot imagine,

situations expertly hidden through long practice,

whose lives are complicated by these times in ways we cannot imagine,

And who will live with these intensifications now.

We pray for those who have been thrown into strange, difficult places

by these strange, difficult times, 

and for those who sit with them and live with them. 

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We pray for our communities,

Always, but especially now. 

and especially those who attend to their mental health: 

psychiatrists, psychologists and Community Psychiatric Nurses, 

and especially, within our bounds,

Argyll and Bute Council Social Work Department,

the Mental Health team, 

counsellors, GPs, volunteers, friends and neighbours –

us, if you open our minds and souls… 

Loving God, we come with a list!

  • Not a list of demands; 
  • Not a tick-list to simplify prayer;
  • Not, certainly, an exhaustive list;
  • Not a list to run through, once.

A tally of care, and also of need. 

We pray for those who work for, and whose lives are touched by: 

  • The Scottish Association for Mental Health
  • Support in Mind Scotland
  • Penumbra – Supporting Scotland’s Mental Health
  • CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably)
  • National Schizophrenic Fellowship (Scotland)
  • Bipolar Fellowship Scotland
  • Action on Depression
  • The Samaritans
  • The Listening Service
  • Alcoholics Anonymous
  • SFAD – Scottish Families affected by Alcohol and Drugs
  • Mind Infoline
  • Rape Crisis Scotland
  • Scottish Women’s Aid
  • SANE
  • No Panic
  • Anxiety UK
  • OCD Action
  • Hearing Voices

Where these have been just names for us –

Lead us into deeper understanding;

Let Google inform us

Compassion drive us,

And our prayers support them. 

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And we pray: 

Keep us from feeling sympathy for others. 

Guard us from “imagining how they feel”

And above all, imagining that we know – 

so that we can listen 

           to the voice beneath the voice,

                   attend to the subtle, contradicting signals –

be truly present to them,

         as Jesus was truly present to the needs

                 of those among whom he walked:

as Christ is truly present to our needs, 

           among whom, and with whom, he stands. 

Take away our sympathy. Give us empathy, 

the attuned, enfleshed, 

incarnate knowing – 

not “what it’s like for them”

but what it’s like, to be like them.

Remind us that this is what Jesus knew.

Even Jesus did not presume.

Even Jesus asked, and attended to what was said,

And what was not… 

Even Jesus listened.

Especially – Jesus listened. 

Teach us to ask, to listen and to learn,

As Jesus did.

And as Jesus taught us, we pray…  Our Father… 

Prayer for 17 June

Dear Friends

Off to do shopping in a minute. Note to self: we need a 150 watt equivalent bulb… I’ve been thinking a lot about light this week!

We human beings understand our existence in terms of patterns. 

Scripture is the interface, the place-of-meeting, between human experience of life in the world, and God-given human experience of God (revelation, if you like). 

So it’s also a place where those patterns are made to stand out so that we can see them clearly. 

One of the deepest, most ingrained, of these patterns is the sense of movement that we call “hope.” It isn’t just our need for reassurance projected onto a cold, unfeeling world. It’s our knowledge of God through God’s dealings with God’s people, reflected in Scripture and offered to the world through us, Christ’s Church. 

It’s to do with what God’s like. 

We human beings are tremendously aware of the difference between light and darkness. It’s to do in large part with the way in which we’re made. We don’t have eyes which see well at night. And we don’t have radar, like bats! 

The darkness hides things from us, more than it does from owls, or other nocturnal animals. Night, the coming of darkness, is a time of withdrawing from a hostile world we no longer understand. 

And it’s the time of dreams, when our minds try to process the experiences of the day, sometimes in bizarre and frightening ways. Yet, if things trouble us, we “sleep on them”, and can find that we are offered wisdom and understanding in the morning.

There are religious traditions which understand light and darkness, goodness and evil, as in an eternal balance. Ours absolutely doesn’t.

The Judaeo-Christian tradition clothes its understanding in the only language that really works, drawn from our poor eyesight and our sleep-patterns and brainwave activity, of light and darkness, and tells us:

“And there was evening, and there was morning, the first day…” NOT the other way round.

“Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes with the morning.” 

But this is truth, not just metaphor. God, who is love, is light. In Jesus, the light indeed comes into the world. 

Because that’s what we are led to know about God. It comes out of the experience of God’s people with God.

That’s how we can stand, socially distanced from our neighbours, and shout across the fence, or the road, in bright mid-day sunlight:

“There may be some more dark days ahead, but maybe we can see some light at last…” 

We’re in times when nobody can see much, shapes of things we can’t quite make out disturb us, and we’re processing thoughts that we can’t make sense of. 

And in the most literal way, we have had to withdraw from a world we can’t, for the moment, function entirely safely in. And it’s the same for everyone. 

But what’s different for us is the pattern we are offered to see in this. It’s the way Scripture, and faith, and, ultimately God in Jesus Christ, organizes our experience. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes with the morning. 

And it’s our job, as the congregations – the parish churches – of this Presbytery and as their members, to live out this faith and this hope for our neighbours and communities. 

The morning may be some way off. The new day will contain challenges of its own. But we shall see more, and we shall understand better. 

That’s what keeps me going! 

We sometimes say – and maybe, God forgive us, with a of hint un-Christlike superiority – “I don’t know how people cope without faith…” 

Well, it’s our job, as the “church of the people who don’t go to church”, to live out that faith, in simple hope, especially at a time like this. God strengthen us all – and give us joy – to do that!

Yours in the Adventure of Christ, 

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God willing, I’ll be offering these prayers in a live-stream at mid-day on Wednesday. If it’s helpful to join me, please do. You’ll find the live-stream on the YouTube United Church of Bute channel, where Presbytery stuff is hosted at the moment. We’ll let you know of any change in these arrangements.

By the way – for those of you who noted that Sibyl’s readings were hard to hear at the Presbytery Online Meeting, we’ve corrected that. The problem was that the laptop mic is highly directional. (There’s a sermon lurking in there, somewhere!) 

The people who sat in darkness

have seen a great light,

and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death

light has dawned. (Matt.4:1) 

[T]he day shall dawn upon us from on high

to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,

to guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:78-79)

For you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. (1 Thessalonians 5:5)

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It is our calling, and our joy, Father of Light, 

To walk in your light.

We live, not in a gridlocked universe, 

Where light and darkness tussle and supplant each other endlessly, 

And nothing goes anywhere. 

Faith grasps the movement from all things

From darkness into your light. 

Ground us now, in these deep patterns of faith. 

John announces the coming of Jesus, 

Which his father proclaimed over him at his birth

“You will go before the Lord to prepare his ways…

when the day shall dawn upon us from on high.”

Jesus comes, and with him the Kingdom breaks in. 

Christ died,

Christ is risen

Christ will come again.

The defeated night loses ground.

Yet we still live in the darkness, 

As the people of the dawn. 

This is the raw material, 

The DNA, of our faith. 

We pray for those around us, 

In this time of pandemic, 

For whom the darkness

Is a close-woven fabric of anxiety and uncertainty. 

We know, and feel, and register

These things too. 

We pray for those who chafe at restrictions, 

Those who find confinement to their homes frustrating, 

Socially-distanced queues strange and unsettling, 

Even after all this time. 

We have felt all these things.

We share the joy, too, 

That the lifting of restrictions brings.

We rejoice to travel short distances, 

To be with people we love, 

Even if the rules we must obey remind us

That the night, far spent, is not yet by. 

We remember those for whom the easing of restrictions

Highlights their grief, that it should have happened then, or now,

When the rites of loss are so truncated. 

Strengthen us, your congregations

To keep our promise, when the times permit,

That communities may remember, and give thanks together

For those who have died when this could not be done. 

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In other words, Lord, we pray

For people just like us – the people we know so well,

Because we live among them, our friends and neighbours. 

They are our communities. 

And we are their church. 

We know that in the darkness

We seize on every glimmer of light, 

Because we human beings

Are reassured by as little as the burning of a match

When there is nothing else. 

But for us, in faith, you make the glimmers

More than “light at the end of the tunnel.”

They are the promise of a new day. 

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We pray for our politicians and leaders,

And the whole political process –

“That it may generate light, not heat”

Is the old platitude, Lord, we know – 

But now it is light that we need. 

Guard them from the seeking of advantage, 

And the playing of old games,

That their leadership, 

and their questioning of leadership’s direction, 

Their formulation of policy 

and their interrogation of policy,

May always be grounded in truth, 

and concern for the well-being of all. 

We pray for the press, in their high calling

Of seeking the truth by the shining of its light

In rigorous and proper scrutiny. 

We pray for the General Assembly that never fully happened, 

Its Commission, and its Moderator, 

Who embody its ongoing work

And the momentum of its predecessors’ work,

As they have sought to bring light to our work,

And move us out into a new day. 

We pray for boldness to emerge into a dawn that will be strange, 

Full of challenges, even beyond what we could have imagined

When the Radical Action Plan was conceived.

We pray for our Presbytery’s role in this, 

And that our planning and thinking be grounded

In hope, in light, in faith and in prayer. 

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We may keep a brief silence at this point, and pray silently, once again, for those who care for others, serve society, and work to overcome the pandemic. 

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And as Jesus taught us, so we pray: Our Father…

Prayer for 9 June

Dear friends,

Someone – a Minister, of course! – said “The Sundays, they do come with an awful regularity…” Well so do Wednesdays, all of a sudden, for me! 

We will all take different things from the news, and our sense of where we, our families and friends, our congregations and communities, our society, might be will be different for each one of us. 

For me, this week, it’s been the sense of a change, of the beginnings of the easing of lockdown, of the return of a sense of movement – and also the anxiety that things could easily and suddenly start going backwards, and in saying that, I’m not trying to ”rain on the parade”. 

There are new, good things, but things are not straightforward. Things are not straightforward, but there are new, good things. That’s where I am, in my head, this week, and I wonder if you are too? 

I offer this reflection hoping that we are all in a roughly similar place. 

Here we are as a Presbytery, virtual but vibrant, and very, very real! And we know that it’s the same with our congregations, despite the real anxieties of the times. And, as Douglas identified, it’s good, each week, to sit together in the moment we have been brought to by events, and by God, and simply open our minds and souls to the reality in which we find ourselves. 

I’m not able to live-stream at 12 tomorrow; I have a funeral on the mainland. I intend to video and upload this prayer so that you can use it – or not! – at 12 tomorrow, or at any time. Let me know – and keep letting me know – what’s useful. 

And again, thank you for your prayers. You have mine.

Yours in the adventure of Christ, 

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We lean, Lord, on the patterns

of scripture, and of faith:
repeating patterns, though never the same;

as old as your dealings with your people; 

as fresh and new as our experience today;

framing our faith, grounding our trust, 

equipping us to be your people in the world. 


You are the God of the Exodus –

but before they could be brought out

to the freedom which is your gift,

your people had to be shown

that you had been listening, hearing, 

with them, all along. 

They had to meet you afresh; 

they had to re-learn who they were. 

Have we done this? 

You are the God who overthrew

Your people’s bitter exile,

But they had to be reminded,

By the waters of Babylon, 

Powerless and overawed by their captivity and smallness,

How all things are in your hands. 

Have we grasped this? 

You are the God who raised Jesus Christ from the dead,

But before they could begin to grasp this,

The disciples had to have their old assumptions shattered, 

To relinquish old, cramped, comfortable understandings,

Too small, like Jesus’ grave

To contain the Risen Christ.

They had to let go, in order to receive.

Can we do this? 

In this pause, just before things might change,

Help us to reflect on what we have been taught, 

On what we take with us on our journey from here,

And what we must leave behind.

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We have come this week to a moment: 

Stage One – soon, we hope, Stage Two…

Expectation mounts! 

Are we slowly beginning to emerge, Lord?

Dates and times and promises

may fluctuate, and advance, and retreat;

“What if the R-number increases?” 

“What if we were thrown back into lockdown?” 

Jesus, we remember, taught the disciples,

outside Caesarea Philippi:

hope is difficult for our human family,  

because we corrupt it into wishing, and dreaming, and specifying closely,

what we want, and when we want it.

Wishes, and longings, and impatience

meld dangerously into a counterfeit of hope.

It’s simple things we all long  for.

Offering and accepting an invitation into a home,

the unthinkingly proffered hand to shake not recoiled from, 

withdrawn in fluster and embarrassment;

the simple ability to drive round and check properly

on those we love. 

We pray these things come quickly,

but more than that, that they come when it is safe they should.

For all, and for all among us, who shield,  – 

disappointed, even distraught at the postponing, of that safe day,

when careful, joyful emergence back into the outside world

becomes possible, we pray. 

Let it come soon.

We pray – and this is hard, Lord – 

for those tempted to push the envelope,

to go right up to, and sometimes flagrantly beyond, 

those hard, challenging boundaries that have kept us safe. 

Temper our anger and indignation

at their folly and yes, their self-centredness,

with Christ’s compassion; 

they know not what they do.

Their actions appal us;

Their selfishness endangers us all;

their frustration is ours. 

Lord, bring light, restraint, care and consideration for others. 

Father, forgive. 

We pray especially  for those who have to cope with, 

And deal with, and police such selfishness.

We remember especially the police, this week. 

We pray for all those who sustain the life of society.

It’s usually so helpful – but sometimes too easy– 

to list them before you in prayer.

Today, instead we seek the Spirit’s leading;

Surprise us, as we enfold all those who help, and sustain,

and work through this crisis, to serve others.

Let us discover in prayer some of those we have, inevitably, we know,

overlooked…

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I would suggest that we keep a brief silence at this point, and pray, individually and silently, for those who care for others, serve society, and work to overcome the pandemic. 

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We know that we shall be brought through. 

We have seen the deep patterns of Scripture.

We pray for our congregations, whose business is hope,

hope in a world where hope is at a premium;

for office-bearers and devoted members,

who balance hope with responsibility and anxiety, 

we pray for our Church, and for the whole Church, in all her traditions. 

Help us to witness to our neighbours and communities

the hope that hopes where we do not know the day or the hour,

but knows that the day will come. 

And as Jesus taught us, we say – and know that others will be saying – 

His prayer:
Our Father…

Prayer for 27 May

Presbytery Prayer Point

You are invited to pray with fellow Presbyters at 12 noon on Wednesday 27th May 2020

Lord, keep us under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love.

Heavenly Father, we give thanks that we are beginning to see some signs of recovery from the current situation and we are grateful for all the people who have worked so hard to achieve this. Help us to be patient so that we might move forward without further harm, help us to understand our responsibilities for ourselves and others that we might be able restore some semblance of normality in our lives. We give grateful thanks for the worship that has continued online and by other means so that our faith journey can continue during these difficult times. As restrictions begin to be lifted, we look forward to being able to worship in familiar sacred spaces and we pray your blessings on the planning and arrangements for future worship in all the different forms that it might take. We pray too for staff at the national church as they begin to grapple with the consequences of the virus and its impact upon finances, staffing and church buildings. Difficult decisions will need to be made to secure the church’s future and we pray your wisdom and insight for those charged with this responsibility. We especially pray for the future of Crossreach as it undertakes its vital social care on the most vulnerable members of society within a restricted budget. We pray your protection on all the residents and staff as they come to terms with restrictions on visiting and the risk to both staff and clients of being infected. We give thanks for the dedicated Crossreach staff providing safe care across the country in our name.

Lord, as arrangements are being made for children to return to school, we pray that the best arrangements are put in place to keep both staff and pupils safe. The resumption of education for children is of vital importance but needs to be undertaken in a safe and reliable environment and that parents feel reassured that their children will be safe. 

Lord, as we hear about deaths amongst the elderly in residential care homes our hearts are vexed. We pray for this vulnerable generation who have already given so much in their lifetime and who now find themselves at risk.  We pray that they stay safe during these difficult times. We especially pray for the families who worry about their loved ones from whom they are separated. And we especially remember, at these difficult times, the families who mourn at a distance for those who have lost the fight against the virus. We pray that once some sense of normality prevails, families will be able to grieve properly and hold in their hearts the positive memories of the ones who they have lost in these circumstances.

Father, we offer this prayer in earnest gratitude for all you are doing at this time in our lives and in the world at large. Our future is in your hands and we are assured that when we hand over our concerns and worries to you that you will answer our prayers.

We are not people of fear: we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs
For as long as it takes wherever you call us. Amen.

Prayer for 20 May

Presbytery Prayer Point

You are invited to pray with fellow Presbyters at 12 noon on Wednesday 20th May 2020

Lord, keep us under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love.

Lord God, as the current situation continues many of us are becoming more tired and wearisome of it all; we crave for an end to all that is happening and we know that if we lay our burdens at your feet you will provide us with relief and we do that now. We pause for a moment of silence and enjoy the calm around us … pause … 

Lord, in that moment of peace and serenity, you were there, your soothing balm upon our brows as thoughts and worries and concerns race through our minds. With this calm frame of mind, we present our prayer to you at this time. 

We pray for all those who are working to defeat the devastating effects of the virus. We especially remember those whose daily work places them at direct risk and we thank them for all that they do on our behalf and we pray your protection upon all of them as they sacrificially do all that they can to comfort and care for those afflicted and who desperately need their help at this time. Lord, we hear daily of those on the frontline of caring who have succumbed from the disease themselves and we weep for their families and friends that they have left behind. We give grateful thanks for their sacrifice and for their willingness to face the challenge of the virus directly on our behalf. Lord, whilst we want the effects of the virus to come to an end and be forgotten, we must never forget the ultimate price paid by brave nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers during this time. We pause to remember those faces that come to mind or of anyone we know personally, who has died on the frontline …. Pause… We pray your richest blessing on all those we have remembered.

At this time when the General Assembly should be meeting, we bring our church to you in all its forms. We pray for the Right Reverend Dr Martin Fair, the new Moderator who faces a unique challenge in holding the church and nation together at such a crucial moment in the life of the church in Scotland. We know that you will imbue him with a sense of grace and wisdom to discern a path through the coming months so that he might serve the church in a way that ensures its continued presence in the new world that stands ahead of us. We pray too for all those responsible for maintaining the church in its current and future form. We pray for the Principal Clerk, The Right Reverend Dr George Whyte and his team, working tirelessly in the background to sustain some semblance of normality and we pray for the many unseen people performing tasks on a daily basis to ensure that future. We earnestly pray that they are able to maintain a zeal and a focus for the difficult tasks in hand and that when they have those tired and wearying moments, that you sustain and uphold them.

Lord, we bring to you the church here in Argyll in all its forms. We bring to mind the people who make that church what it is and whose company and presence we miss on a Sunday morning and on other occasions. We pray your comfort and protection on all those we bring to mind in a moment of calm … pause… Lord, lift the spirits of those who are weary and tired and sustain them to run the race to the end so that one day, we will meet to worship and glorify your name in the pews and other places across Argyll. Until that day comes, sustain us on the road, lift those burdens and worries and embolden us with a belief that there is a tomorrow and one day that tomorrow will be a day when we return to the life that we recognise and love.

We are not people of fear: we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs
For as long as it takes wherever you call us. Amen.

Heart and soul 2020

We’re delighted to announce, as part of the ‘Big Weekend’ for the Church of Scotland, a special ‘Heart and Soul 2020’ event will take place (online) on 17th May 2020. The current crisis has meant that the original event, scheduled to have taken place in Princes Street Gardens on that day, has had to be cancelled.

However, a number of features from the event in Princes Street Gardens can be transferred into an online format, and we’re going to screen an abridged ‘Heart and Soul’ at 2.00pm on 17th May – when the original event would have taken place. The programme will run until about 4.20pm.
A recording of the event will be available soon afterwards. You will be able to watch the event live on the Church of Scotland website (www.churchofscotland.org.uk) and live on the Facebook page (fb.me/churchofscotland).

Hosted by our usual presenters, Rev Ken Froude, Seonaid Knox and Rev Justin Taylor, the event begins with a replay of the service of installation for the new Moderator, Rev Martin Fair. Without giving too much away, the event features a mix of worship, music, stories and some exciting ‘In Conversation’ guests.

Heart and Soul regulars ‘Fischy Music’ will lead a special segment for all ages, and we hope that you’ll join in all the actions from home!
Spread throughout the afternoon will be some very special conversations:
Hugh Pym will be in conversation with Prof Jason Leitch and Viv Dickenson from CrossReach, discussing how they have all been tackling Coronavirus and also how their own faith has helped them.
Very Rev Susan Brown will be in conversation with Ross Greer MSP and Tara Shannon from COSY discussing climate justice.
Prison Chaplain Anne Stewart will be in conversation with Hospital Chaplain Mark Evans talking about chaplaincy as a career and the impact of Coronavirus in their places of work.

No Heart and Soul would be complete without some hearty singing, and we’ve chosen some highlights from the archive over the last ten years of Heart and Soul, the Guild Big Sing and the General Assembly to round things off.

Presbytery prayer 13 may

Presbytery Prayer Point

You are invited to pray with fellow Presbyters at 12 noon on Wednesday 13th May 2020

Lord, keep us under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love.

Lord, we continue to pray for all those affected in any way by the pandemic and today we especially pray for all the missed moments that have occurred during this time. We bring to mind the birthdays when children have had to party with only their families to play the games and eat the cake. We remember elderly residents, especially those in residential care, who have had to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with only dedicated staff as guests and in some cases, with families on the lawn outside.

We also recall all the missed moments between grandparents and grandchildren. Those moments when a hug cures a sore knee, when Grandmother’s special soup makes you feel better or when a walk with grandparents along the beach solves all the things that bother us. We pray for grandparents and other family members who cannot get to visit new-born babies and for new parents who miss that reassurance and love that extended families offer in these happy circumstances. 

Lord, we pray too for the people whose weddings have been postponed. After all the preparations and anticipation of starting married life together and the worry of potentially losing money they will be feeling especially disappointed. 

We bring to mind all the children who are missing moments being absent from school and nursery. We pray that their resilience and enthusiasm will carry them through these confusing and bewildering times. And we pray too for their parents who are challenged to sustain a time of normality and learning for their children.

Holy God, as the pandemic continues to wreak havoc and the daily death toll continues unabated, we bring to our thoughts those who have to say goodbye from a distance. Lord, lost moments mean that family and friends are denied the opportunity for any meaningful farewells or any close physical contact other than from immediate family.

Lord we gather all these lost moments and those known personally to us, and we offer them to you, and as we do so, we know that they will be smothered in your grace and love so that those who have experienced lost moments will become aware of your comfort and protection. Lord in extending your care in these times of lost moments you remind us all of the eternal hope that lies in tomorrow and that in time these lost moments will be regained tenfold. As we move forward in time and the virus loses its grip, we await with patience for the opportunity to regain lost moments and to never take them for granted again.

We are not people of fear: we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs
For as long as it takes wherever you call us. Amen.

Presbytery Prayer 6 May

You are invited to pray with fellow Presbyters at 12 noon on Wednesday 6th May 2020

Lord, keep us under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love.

Lord at this time, our communities across Argyll are gradually adjusting to changes in life previously unheard of. And as this happens stories of fortitude, compassion and courage have emerged. Lord, as we visualise this beautiful part of the world, we bring to mind the communities we have visited and lived in. We see in our mind’s eye the larger towns like Oban, Inverary and Dunoon; the smaller communities such as Tighnabruaich, Strachur and Kilmartin; the islands including Gigha, Barra and Lismore and we recall the people who live and work there. We bring to mind the essential workers who make the community what it is and who have risen above and beyond the call of duty to sustain these communities in their time of crisis.
Lord we especially bring to mind those who have paid the ultimate price in this endeavour and today we give thanks for the life of Robert Black, a paramedic from Campbeltown who died in the line of duty protecting his local community. We pray your blessing on his family and friends as they come to terms with the price that Robert has paid for his diligence and devotion to his profession. We remember too, others who we do not know who have died on the frontline against an unseen and cruel enemy and we pray your blessing upon them at this difficult time.

Lord, we pray for all the residential care homes across our Presbytery, many of whom were cared for pastorally by local congregations who can now no longer provide visitors or support to residents. We pray for the safety of residents and staff alike at these difficult and challenging times and we especially pray for the mental well being of all those who find themselves in a vulnerable situation at this time. Some residents, as a result of their lack of understanding, will find these times especially difficult when normal routines are disturbed, and regular visitors and contact are suddenly no longer there. Lord help those who feel bewildered by all that is happening and help them seek and attain that peace of mind they crave in their later years. Lord, we pray for staff working in immensely challenging situations especially in those circumstances where residents are almost akin to family members. Lord, keep staff safe so that they can continue their caring of the most vulnerable in our community.

Lord God, we hold in our prayers the children in our communities at this time as they come to terms with new routines and situations and we especially bring to mind those children with special needs. We acknowledge the additional challenges that these circumstances bring to children who have to deal with learning difficulties and who are now separated from the usual community facilities available to them during times of normality. Uphold and sustain their parents and other carers who now need to make do with less than ideal facilities to manage the challenges these children face in their everyday lives.

Lord God, encourage and keep safe the community-based volunteers who have emerged during this time of adversity as they go about the daily tasks of life that we take for granted. We give thanks for their willingness to support their community and undertake the care of their neighbour in their time of need. We pray your blessings upon them and that they keep safe whilst undertaking their duties.

Lord as the pandemic progresses and days turn to weeks help us not to become complacent and undo all the good work to date. Remind us of the sacrifice that many have made including their own lives, to ensure our safety and health. Grant us patience that we may emerge in due course to take our places in our community and in our church pews but only when it is safe and sensible to do so.

We are not people of fear: we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs
For as long as it takes wherever you call us.
Amen.