Category Archives: Services

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.

Digital church conFerence

On Monday David and I took part in the digital church conference. There were about 65 participants and it was also very interesting with time for breakout rooms to chat in small groups.

The speakers were Rev. Albert Bogle, a former Moderator of the General Assembly, Dr. Peter Phillips, professor of Digital Theology at Durham University, Neil MacLennan a tech person, and Laura Digan, a very charismatic and bubbly trainee minister.

Dr Peter Phillips explained that the church has always mediated religion with e.g. icons, religious paintings. Now we are mediating religion digitally.

Church is a community expression of our faith – online or offline – or should we just call it “church”?

Dr. Phillips then went on to explain the three uses of technology in church:

1. To enable offline church – like having a website to engage with members and invite non members to attend traditional church – “come to our building”. The focus is “bums on seats”

2. To extend offline church into online activities – first week of lockdown some churches broadcast a service from an empty church. We the congregation were spectators rather than participants.

3. Disrupting offline church through online church – second week of lockdown – interactive service broadcast eg leaving a space for silent prayer so the spectators can feel connected and participate. Using zoom or Facebook live the spectators can truly participate. Not only is God present in each physical location He is also present “online”.

Sanctuary First is an expression of online church. (They even have on online cafe running 10-12 every weekday. Go on their website and have a look).

We then had break out groups where we talked about what we were already doing.

The main issues were:

digital availability ie poor internet connections in rural places

no Internet access for majority of elderly members.

God is in the digital space as well as the physical locations

God can and does make things Holy on line.

After lunch we reconvened with Neil MacLennan speaking about the technical issues.

He talked about zoom being a very useful platform for meetings and that the congregations should keep going with their functional meetings. He referred to property committees and finance committees etc but we don’t do so much of that. He did say that on line kirk session meetings are fully legal.

Doing large tech is a team game where one person looks after the tech side of the meeting while others run the talking side. 

He suggested three different ways of doing online church:

One to many ie live streaming a service, like watching tv.

Some to some ie a few people meeting together as church on the zoom platform.

Some to many ie the leaders using zoom and live-streaming that to many. After the livestream everyone can have their own coffee and chat on zoom.

For all this to work he says it is necessary to get help and pay money!

He had some tips on what to do which were helpful:

Take it easy

Get young people to help

Pick the low hanging fruit

Practice

If all you do is phone 2 people a day that is good.

Next speaker was Rev Albert Bogle on Rebooting the church

“A new kind of networked congregation may well emerge, one no longer defined by location”

Our immediate challenge is:

Grieving for what has been lost

Pastoral burden of ministry

Reluctantly embracing technology

The financial challenge

Reconnecting to our core calling.

He said if all we do is try to keep the institution afloat we have missed the point. John ch4v23 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.” This is what Jesus said when the woman at the well wanted to know where the correct place to worship is. The physical location is not important!

There have been discussions on the legality of communion taken on line. Alberts view is that actual physical communion – is it even authentic – communion is only a foretaste.

He said “How many buildings are going to survive the virus?

We need to think about networking with other churches and non church organisations. Think about how the early church worked. The network has to be bigger – worldwide.

We then had another breakout group where we were to discuss the question:

How then would thinking like a “Networking Church” begin to change the way we approach mission and the gifting of the churches at the moment as well as looking to the future?

This was a difficult question for the ministers in the group to answer as all they seemed to be thinking about was how to keep their own congregation gathered. They didn’t quite grasp the networking idea.

I’ve got loads of ideas running around my head but I won’t explain them just now!

The last speaker was Laura Digan who was filled with enthusiasm and talked about how the Holy Spirit was just as active online as anywhere else.

We were absolutely exhausted after the conference just because it was online for 4 hours including a lunch break. Apparently it gets easier the more you do.

Talks 1st March


Talk 1

 “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” 

When we pray these words we are asking God to protect us and keep us on his safe path when the devil comes and tempts us.

Can you imagine what it must have been like to be the first and only person on earth. It’s one thing for us to be lonely it was another for Adam who had never known another human being. How much he must have missed no childhood, no parents no friends.

He was the first person made in the image of God and the first human to have a personal relationship with God. Fortunately, God didn’t let him wait too long before he presented him with an ideal companion Eve

As Adams descendants we all reflect to some degree the image of God as our life and worth comes from Gods Spirit.

 In reality our worth comes not from our achievements but from the God of the universe who chooses to give us the mysterious and miraculous gift of life. Value it as he does.

In the garden there were two tree the Tree of Life which represents immortality, eternal youthfulness and the Tree of knowledge which represents mortality and the knowledge of good and evil – a tree of conscience

God gave Adam the responsibility for the garden and told him not to eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. 

Why would God place a tree in the garden and then forbid Adam to eat from it?

Rather than physically preventing him from eating from it he gave Adam the freedom to choose and thus the possibility of choosing wrongly.

God gives us choices and we too can choose wrongly. These wrong choices may cause pain, but they can help us learn and grow. Living with the consequences of our choices teaches us to think and chose more carefully

Obviously, Adam explained the rules of the garden to Eve when she joined him and how the Tree of Knowledge was off limits.

Disguised as a shrewd serpent Satan came to tempt Eve by making her think that sin is good, pleasant and desirable. However, she decided it looked so delicious and as the serpent persuaded her by saying that the minute, she ate it she too would be like God knowing good from evil. She looked, she took, and she ate. The battle is often lost with the first look as temptation often begins by seeing something you want. To make herself feel less guilty she involved Adam in her wrongdoing. Sadly, Adam didn’t think of the consequences and in one small act of rebellion he went ahead and ate it.

In that moment something large, beautiful and free was shattered and sin was brought into the world.

The Biblical meaning of Temptation is a ‘trial’ in which man has a free choice of being faithful or unfaithful to God.

Temptation is not a sin as we have not sinned until we give into temptation.

Temptation is Satan’s invitation to give into his kind of life and give up on gods kind of life.

In Mathew 4 verses 1-11 it tells us how he even tempted Jesus who did not sin. 

The Biblical definition of sin becomes important because the scriptures define the boundaries and standards which God has set for us.

However, the definition of sin in the Bible is not a test of arbitrary do’s and don’ts. Instead they show us the way God lives. They show the spiritual principles by which he lives, the same standard of conduct he expects his human creations to live by.

SIN CAN BE WHAT WE DON’T DO

Christ’s teaching helps us to understand why it is sin not to do what we know we should do. It boils down to who’s will is more important in our lives. Is it our will to do what we want to do or is it Gods will doing what he thinks is most important which shapes our actions?

It is through action-through works, through doing good that we know we ought to be doing that God builds his nature and character within us. If we want to get rid of our sinful nature, we have to replace it with something else. We don’t magically get rid of it we have to replace it with God’s nature, his thoughts his ways.

True faith transforms our conduct as well as our thoughts as faith without godly works Is useless, worthless. Such faith is of no lasting value as it doesn’t change the person, nor does it help others to hear the words “Be warm and filled” when they’re cold and hungry.

God of mercy guide us through this season minister to us in the wilderness of our temptation that we who have been set free from sin by Christ May serve you well into life everlasting.

talk 2

Today is the first Sunday in Lent.

Lent is the six week period leading up to Easter. It’s one of the most important times of year for many Christians around the world, particularly those within the Anglican, Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

Lent is seen as a time of solemn observance and preparation for the remembrance of the death and celebration of the resurrection of Jesus at Easter. From its start on Ash Wednesday until its conclusion on Easter Sunday, Lent has been a traditional time for fasting or giving something up or abstinence. Fasting reminds us of the 40 day fast Jesus had before he started his ministry. Catherine mentioned this in her talk. Jesus fasted in the desert in preparation for his life’s work and the devil came and tested him.

 Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which is always held 46 days (40 fasting days and 6 Sundays) before Easter Sunday.

Ash Wednesday is the day after Shrove Tuesday, which in the UK is more commonly known as Pancake Day, that was last week. Did you have pancakes?

These days, Christians around the world observe Lent in different ways. Many from more orthodox and traditional denominations will still observe the fast strictly, beginning with the wearing of ashes on Ash Wednesday and abstinence of meat, fish, eggs and fats until Easter Sunday.

Others will choose to give up just one item for Lent, more commonly a ‘luxury’ such as chocolate, meat, alcohol or cake. It is also becoming increasingly common for people to give up other things such as watching TV or using social media. The time gained from missing out on these activities is spent in meditation, Bible study, prayer or doing something practical to help others. There are many devotional resources available such as Lent Bible studies – there is a practical booklet in this months life and work produced by Christian aid which gives topics for prayer and practical things to do to help alleviate the climate crisis in Kenya.

One thing we could focus on in our lent practices is forgiveness, asking God to forgive us the things we do wrong, the things we don’t do that we should, and also forgiving those who have hurt us. We need to forgive others in order for God to forgive us. We could spend our lent time thinking of the ways others have hurt us and letting go of the hurts and forgiving them. Spending time in god’s presence, meditating on his word will help us to do this. Meditation will also help god speak into our hearts and heal the hurts, and also show us where we have done wrong. We must ask god for his forgiveness and sometimes we have to ask others too.

Psalm 32 is all about forgiveness and the blessings of being forgiven.

When we know we’re in the wrong and try to hide it or blame another, not even admitting it to ourselves that is when we feel our bones wasting away, God’s hand heavy on us, or just our conscience pricking us. We know we need to ask God for forgiveness but we sometimes don’t want to admit we are wrong. The thing is, once we admit it and ask for forgiveness, we can feel overjoyed at his response. He always forgives us when we come to him with a sorrowful heart, and a determination to be a true follower. Not only does he forgive us but he miraculously forgets. 

At the beginning of Lent as a season of preparation and self-examination, what do we need to confess individually and corporately in order to receive the blessings that our sins are forgiven, our debt is covered, and no record of wrongs is kept?

Talk 23 Feb 2020

Today, as we get ready to begin the period of Lent, our approach to the wonder and drama of Easter, we are directed towards looking into this mysterious event in the life of Jesus and His disciples – what we know as the “Transfiguration” of Jesus on the mountain side.

Like so many events in the gospel, this is loaded with meaning, with symbol, and with instruction – pointing us to the truth, the amazing significance, of the life of Jesus of Nazareth, and gives us such a jolt towards the conclusion – “surely this man was the Son of God”.

Readings: Exodus 24v12 to 25v9:
The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”
Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.”
When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give. These are the offerings you are to receive from them: gold, silver and bronze; blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen; goat hair; ram skins dyed red and another type of durable leather; acacia wood; olive oil for the light; spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense; and onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece.
“Then have them make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.

Matthew 17v1-8:
After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” When they looked up, they saw no one but Jesus.

We have heard two stories here, thousands of years apart, in Exodus, at the beginning of the formation of the Hebrew nation as the people of the living God.   Refugees moving towards their promised land, and then later, in Galilee, in the midst of the life of the Messiah, Jesus, taking His disciples to a new understanding of His place as Son of God.  Two very different events, in very different cultures.

Moses is called by God up the mountain to speak with God, Jehovah, and receive instructions for His people.  There are some similarities with Jesus story – Moses waited six days before God called him to his presence, Moses met God in a cloud, but there the similarities dissolve.

Jesus waited six days in Galilee before going up the mountain, and yes he did seem to go into a cloud to meet God, no, to meet Elijah and Moses.   

Moses was meeting God for 40 days – Jesus was in His meeting for a few hours possibly.

Moses is given lengthy instructions on what God wants his people to do:   we often only think that this is when Moses was given the ten commandments – yes, but these were already given to him on a previous meeting with God.   This time God first gives extremely detailed instructions as to how to build “The Tabernacle” – a tent like building in which God could visit and instruct His people – or at least the chief priest of his people.

There are 7 chapters following Moses meeting with God in which Moses recites the instructions of God as to how to build the tabernacle, how to furnish it, how to prepare the priests, how to dress the priests and then finally who to use to build it all.    Then God writes the ten commandments on to stone tablets – and gives them to Moses.

God is saying, I have given you rules to live by, and made promises to you to be your God, but I need to keep communication open with you always – and to do that you need to make this very precious, and very holy and complex building, with special furniture, and specially prepared people in symbolic clothing into which I can come to meet you and you need to get the details absolutely right – its got to be perfect   

God is saying to Moses, we are so far apart, so different, we need to have extraordinary preparations before we can come near each other.

Let’s go back to Peter, James, and John, up the mountain with Jesus.

Jesus does not go into a cloud, but he himself is changed – transfigured, transformed in some mysterious way – He shines like the sun, his clothes become dazzling white – and he is joined by two others – Moses and Elijah – the two outstanding prophets and leaders of the Hebrew nation, the chosen people.  Two people who have been recorded in the scriptures as knowing God.

It is as if Jesus is entering another dimension, he has stepped out of the material present in Galilee and is with others from another life time – or to put it another way, he has drawn the others from their eternal life place, into His presence in Galilee.   This is sounding like “science fiction”, isn’t it – I would rather call it “Spiritual reality” – it is beyond our normal human experience – but really – Jesus is showing the disciples that he is more than a man, He is giving them a glimpse of His divinity.   

Peter, as you can imagine is deeply affected by this – he recalls this later in his letter – 

“We didn’t follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses to His majesty.  Eye witnesses – we saw His majesty – , God revealed in Jesus.”

Moses was given 7 chapters of detail as to how to prepare a place where God could talk to his people.

God gives us 16 words of instruction on the mountain with Jesus as to how God can talk to His people:

“This is my Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased, listen to Him”

If you want to hear what I am saying to you – listen to Jesus.

If you want to know how I would like you to live – listen to Jesus.

If you want to know my will for you – listen to Jesus.

I do not need special buildings any more, I do not look for special clothes, I do not need you to appoint special people.   

Here is Jesus – This is my Son, He represents everything of me, listen to Him.

This is not complicated, it is not easy, it asks for commitment, it asks for faith, it asks for trust – but it is not a complicated message.

This is my Son, Listen to Him.

You know, in talking to people, in reading stories of Christian lives, in hearing people speaking of their Faith in Jesus, I have heard many people say that they came to follow Jesus after reading one of the Gospels, reading of Jesus life and words, His teaching and His actions.

I have never come across anyone who came to faith in him after reading Genesis, or Exodus, or even the Psalms.

People come to know God through the life of Jesus. 

It was not an empty phrase that God gave to Peter, James and John as they watched with awe as Jesus talked with Moses and Elijah.   These words are the very essence of life for all.

Here is Jesus – transformed before you, here is Jesus moving beyond your material existence into the realm of eternity, into the place of continuing life – into timeless reality

Here is Jesus – my Son, Living God of creation and all that is

Listen to Him.

How simple, how uncomplicated, how welcoming, 

As we read the Gospels again and again – as we refresh our memories of the words, actions, promises of Jesus.

So we hear again and again His words.   We hear His words, are we listening.

And so as we live our lives:   Are we listening?.   What has he said to us in the past, how has he led us up to now?  and – 

What is He saying, to you, to me, to us, for our lives, for our actions, for our Faith in Him. – for our comfort, and our challenge –  

What is He saying – Are we listening – today

Amen.

Talk and prayer 2 feb 2020

OUR LIFE IS THE MOST PRECIOUS GIFT WHICH WE WILL EVER RECEIVE AND IS GIVEN TO US BY GOD. LET US LIVE WISELY.

AS A COMMUNITY OF BELEIVERS WHICH BEGINS BY FAITH IN THE RISEN CHRIST AND IN THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT WHICH ENABLES US TO WITNESS, TO LOVE AND TO SERVE.

WE ARE GODS PEOPLE CHOSEN TO BE PART OF HIS PLAN TO REACH THE WORLD IN LOVE AND BY FAITH WITH THE HELP OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

IN MATHEW CHAPTER 28 V16-20 JESUS CAME AND TOLD HIS DISCIPLES GOD HAS GIVEN  ME ALL AUTHORITY IN HEAVEN AND ON EARTH THEREFORE GO  AND MAKE DISCIPLES Of ALL THE NATIONS. – BABTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, SON AND HOLY SPIRIT. TEACH THE NEW DISCIPLES TO OBEY ALL THE COMMANDMENTS THAT I HAVE GIVEN YOU AND BE SURE OF THIS I AM WITH YOU ALWAYS EVEN TO THE END OF AGE.

WE BELONG TOGETHER, WE SHOULD REJOICE WITH THOSE WHO REJOICE AND WEEP WITH THOSE WHO WEEP.

WE SHOULD LOOK FOR WAYS TO ENCOURAGE ONE ANOTHER AND SUPPORT ONE ANOTHER UNITED WE CAN THEN FACE WHATEVER THE YEAR BRINGS.

LET US BECOME MEMBERS OF THE CHURCH WHO NOT ONLY SEES WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE BUT OFFERS TO HELP BEFORE BEING ASKED – MAKE TIME TO TALK.

HOW DO WE WE REACH OUT TO PEOPLE WHO ARE SUFFERING FROM HEARTBREAK, DISCOMFORT AND ISOLATION. HOWEVER, MUCH THEY ARE LOVED BY OTHERS THEY FIND IT DIFFICULT TO LOVE THEMSELVES.

LET US WITH GODS HELP, HELP THEM FIND THE PEACE TO ACCEPT THE THINGS THEY CANNOT CHANGE AND THE COURAGE TO CHANGE THE THINGS THEY CAN.

THE YOUTH OF TODAY ARE AT THE FOREFRONT OF CREATIVE CAMPAIGNING FOR CLIMATE CHANGE. THEY ARE REALISING THAT THE WORLD ISNT THE WAY IT SHOULD BE AND THEY ARE DOING SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

WE SHOULD APPROACH THEM AS GOD IS THE CREATOR OF BOTH HEAVEN AND EARTH. HE MADE THE THINGS WE CAN SEE AND THE THINGS WE CAN’T SEE AND HE HOLDS ALL CREATION TOGETHER.

COULD THIS NOT BE A COMMON GROUND AS THEY WON’T COME TO US WE MUST GO TO THEM.

LET US BE PART OF THE JUSTICE MOVEMENT THAT OUR PLANET AND SHARED HUMANITY DESERVES.

IF WE COULD ALL REACH ONE OTHER WITH ONE CONVERSATION THE WORLD WOULD BE A MUCH EASIER PLACE. UNFORTUNATLEY THAT’S NOT OFTEN HOW THINGS WORK.

REACHING OUT TO OTHER PEOPLE IS THE MOST HEALING THING THAT WE CAN DO FOR OURSELVES AND ANYONE ELSE. JUST SHOWING UP IN EACH OTHERS LIFE GOES FAR.

WE NEED TO PRAY TO GOD AS PRAYER IS THE CONNECTION OF OURSELVES WITH GOD AND THE WORLD AND BEING THE LIGHT OF LOVE IN WHATEVER PLACE WE FIND OURSELVES.

PRAYER IS ONE PLACE WHERE GOD CAN GET TO US, SPEAK TO US, MINISTER TO US AND GUIDE US.

DO WE NEED A QUIET TIME? WOULD PEOPLE COME INTO THE CHURCH OUTWITH A SUNDAY SERVICE – FOR A TIME OF REFLECTION, OR SILENT PRAYER. PERHAPS THIS COULD BE THE START OF THEIR JOURNEY.

LET US ALL THINK ON HOW WE CAN ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO COME TO CHURCH, WELCOME THEM, LET THEM EXPERIENCE THE WARMTH, WELCOME AND COMPASSION WHICH IS FELT

THROUGH EVERYONES LOVE OF GOD

LOUISE AND DAVID BOTH WORK REALLY HARD TO ENCOURAGE PEOPLE THROUGH ALPHA TO FIND GOD AND BEGIN THEIR JOURNEY. THAT IS HOW MY JOURNEY BEGAN.

CATHERINE IS GOING TO LEAD SOME OF  US IN PASTORAL CARE WHICH WILL ENCOURAGE US TO CONNECT AND INSPIRE AND WE WILL BE MADE AWARE OF THE RESOURCES WHICH ARE AVAILABLE. 

I HAD WRITTEN THE WORDS BELOW BEFORE GOD PROMPTED ME TO INCLUDE PASTORAL CARE AS THIS IS A CONTINUATION OF OUR JOURNEY.

I DECIDED TO LEAVE THE LAST SENTENCE IN AS IT IS SO TRUE.

WHEN YOU ASK GOD, WHAT CAN I DO HE SAYS FOLLOW ME I AM ALREADY DOING IT. SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO OPEN YOUR EYES DIRECT THEM AWAY FROM YOUR LIFE AND WAIT AS SOMETIMES WE HAVE TO WAIT BEFORE OUR PRAYER IS ANSWERED.

AS WE BOW OUR HEAD IN PRAYER LET US FOR A MOMENT IN SILENCE FEEL THE STILLNESS THAT IS FILLED WITH GOD AND COMPLETED WITH THE LOVE AND MERCY OF JESUS CHRIST

NO ONE CAN HURT YOU; YOU ARE SIMPLY YOURSELF JUST AS GOD MADE YOU.

YOU ARE IN TOUCH WITH THE GENUINE INTACT IMAGE OF GOD IN YOU.

IN THE SILENCE TAKE A MOMENT OR TWO TO REACH OUT TO GOD WITH YOUR OWN PERSONAL PRAYER.

THANK YOU, LORD FOR THE BEAUTY WHICH YOU HAVE CREATED

AND THAT YOU HAVE GIVEN US THE GIFT OF HOPE AND JOY TO APPRECIATE THE AWSOME WONDER OF YOUR CREATION.

AS THE DARKNESS OF WINTER GIVES WAY TO THE HOPE AND RENEWAL OF SPRING. 

TO ALL THESE CHANGES WE ASK THE GIFT OF YOUR PERSPECTIVE BECKONING US TO EXPECTATION, HOPE AND REBIRTH.

MAY THE SUNLIGHT AND THE RAIN BE REMINDERS THAT YOU ARE AT WORK RENEWING THE EARTH 

AS A GOD OF RENEWAL YOU ARE EVER AT WORK IN OUR LIVES TOO.

FOR FLOWERS THAT BLOOM ABOUT OUR FEET
FOR TENDER GRASS SO FRESH AND SWEET
FOR SONG OF BIRD AND HUM OF BEE
FOR ALL THINGS FAIR WE HEAR OR SEE
FATHER IN HEAVEN WE THANK YOU
ralph waldo emerson

LORD GOD YOU HAVE DONE SO MUCH FOR US

MORE THAN WE DESERVE 

FORGIVE US WHEN WE FAIL TO ACKNOWLEDGE HOW BLESSED WE ARE

LORD WE PRAY FOR STRENGTH AND FORGIVENESS TO AVOID THE TEMPTATIONS WHICH ARE PUT BEFORE US AS WE WANDER FROM THE PATH THAT LEADS TO PEACE IN PATHS OF OUR OWN PLEASING

WE ARE NEVER ALONE YOU ARE ALWAYS BY OUR SIDE GUIDING US, COMFORTING US IN TIMES OF SORROW AND SUFFERING AND WE KNOW THAT 

WHEREVER WE ARE WE CAN PRAY AND YOU WILL LISTEN AND FILL US WITH PEACE.

LET US ACKNOWLEDGE THE FATHER OF ALL. HIS PRESENCE IN OUR LIVES, OUR WORLD OUR HEARTS BY JOINING TOGETHER IN THE LORDS PRAYER

Cafe Church

Our first Cafe Church event in Achnamara Hall. While we enjoyed a drink and a biscuit we discussed four questions after reading Luke ch 9 vs 46 – 56.

We concluded the event with some favourite hymns.

Here is the reading….

An argument started among the disciples as to which of them would be the greatest. Jesus, knowing their thoughts, took a little child and had him stand beside him. Then he said to them, “Whoever welcomes this little child in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. For it is the one who is least among you all who is the greatest.”
“Master,” said John, “we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us.”
“Do not stop him,” Jesus said, “for whoever is not against you is for you.”
Samaritan Opposition
As the time approached for him to be taken up to heaven, Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And he sent messengers on ahead, who went into a Samaritan village to get things ready for him; but
the people there did not welcome him, because he was heading for Jerusalem. When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?” But Jesus turned and rebuked them. Then he and his disciples went to another village.

And if you would like to comment below with your thoughts, here are the questions…

  1. What is the first thing that strikes you in this reading?
  2. Is there a new thought or idea for you from these verses?
  3. Is there any particular aspect which you see as relevant for today?
  4. Does I make you want to read more?

David’s talk 2 June 2019

Last chapter of Deuteronomy:

Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah, across from Jericho. There the Lord showed him the whole land—from Gilead to Dan, all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Mediterranean Sea, the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it.”
And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over.
Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the Lord had commanded Moses.
Since then, no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, who did all those signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt—to Pharaoh and to all his officials and to his whole land. For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.
Joshua
Joshua Installed as Leader
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them —to the Israelites.

The king is dead, long live the king. – that is the cry from the royal court when  a monarch dies and the heir to the throne takes over his or her mantle.   It is a cry which speaks of continuity, of stability, of “no change” here – life will go on as it is – no upset, no crisis.    To give assurance to the people that they will not be disturbed by this change.

But…That is not what is being presented in this reading here.     We are going to look at how the death of Moses heralds a tumultuous sea change for the people of Israel.   It marks a profound alteration in their lifestyle, in their working, in their worship and in their relationship with God.    

 The church here and across Scotland is being urged, encouraged, coaxed and cajoled into assessing how to change, how to recapture our Mission – how to demonstrate the Kingdom of God, to make disciples of Jesus Christ, to seek out what is the Church of Christ in 2021, and how does it connect with our society and community.  

As in the time of Moses death – this is not a time for continuity, for stability, for “no change” here.  

So how does this transition from Moses to Joshua guide us at this time we are in now?

Moses is the hero of the Jews, he led them out of slavery and through the desert.   They were rebellious, they wanted to go back to the “comfort” and security of slavery, they complained about food, about water, about travelling, about God’s guidance, about God’s laws.    They sloped off to find other gods, they were frightened, confused, and they moaned a lot – and Moses held them together as they circled around the Desert     

But Moses was the right man to keep them going – and God looked after them  – he really spoilt them in the desert.   He led them clearly where to go and when to stop.   Cloud and fire went before them.  Moses could go and talk to Him –   They didn’t have any doubts about the direction they were going.   He fed them with Manna- every day, he gave them a treat like the flock of Quaill when they moaned about the Manna.      They were looked after, they knew what was expected of them, they were in a routine which did not challenge them to change – merely to keep going as they were.  Moses’ task was to keep them moving along with God until he had a people who were ready and able to change – to actually go into their promised land.

Moses took them to the start of a new stage in the life of their community – to the edge of a new adventure, a new way of living.     Moses looked after them in the continuity of the desert – but Joshua would take them into uncertainty, conflict, danger and yet ultimately into triumph.   Joshua led them into battles, into strife and discomfort, but ultimately into the land promised by God.   

The pillar of fire and cloud were gone – they had to look to find what God wanted, they had to plan and think, they had to trust that God was with them – that was no longer obvious.    The manna was gone, they had to hunt and forage and barter and steal food from the countryside – they had to work at living as God’s people.

They had to learn to listen to God, to be alert to His guidance.    And when they did  – they had tremendous successes and blessings – think of the walls of Jericho, of the amazing victories against much bigger armies – but when they tried to do things without God, they had disasters and defeats, setbacks and confusions.  

 God was teaching them a new type of dependence on Him.    God was still with them but He wanted them to listen out for His guidance,  to be trusting that He was there, even when they couldn’t see Him,  and he wanted them to live and move forward in His way – not in their in own strength, but in His power, not with their own agendas, but with His.

The Israelites were learning a new, stronger relationship with God, built on trust and understanding, on seeking and action, not on the cloud and fire presence of God in the desert, showing them exactly what to do, and where to go, but on living out plans and actions  – seeking out and then trusting in His will.

I think that the church in Scotland, in Mid Argyll, is being moved by God into a new phase  – a new way of trusting God.   As the Israelites were taken out of the comfort and routine  of the desert into the uncertainty and challenges of a campaign of invasion, so our churches are being moved by God out of the routine and tradition of Sunday worship for the few, out of the certainty of regular meetings, out of depending on a parish minister to look after all our spiritual needs,  out of waiting for people to choose to come and join us – into a new way of being church – a way which has uncertainty at its core, a way that requires us to seek and to search out God’s guidance,  – a way that drives us to trust Him as he asks us to take on novel or uncomfortable projects, or coaxes us to welcome new and unexpected neighbours.   

The people under Joshua grew into a new relationship with God – a relationship based on Trust during uncertainty, based on assurance during adversity, and based on seeking His guidance when they were at a loss what to do.     All this drew them closer to God as they sought out the promised land.  

The church in Scotland has the same challenge and the same opportunity  – to grow into a new relationship with God, as we seek to trust Him as we try to plan for the future of the Gospel in our communities,  as we get to know the assurance of His presence when we struggle for ways of introducing Jesus to the next generations, as we pray and ask for guidance as to how to connect into our communities, to share the Gospel with people who have no idea what the church is about.   The time in the desert is passed – we are being led into new territories, a new landscape and we need to be going into this unknown landscape seeking out God’s plans and seeking the ways forward for His Kingdom.

Easter Day

Call to Worship:  Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us that we should be called the children of God:  Let’s unite our voices in praise of Him who loved us so.

Sermon

For Jesus life had a climax, and that was the Cross. To him the Cross was the glory of life and the way to the glory of eternity. “The hour has come,” he said, “for the Son of Man to be glorified” (John 12:23). What did Jesus mean when he repeatedly spoke of the Cross as his glory and his glorification? There is more than one answer to that question. Why in A W Pink’s words we have tragedy and triumph, victim and yet a victor.
(i) It is one of the facts of history that again and again it was in death that the great ones found their glory. It was when they died, and how they died, that showed people what and who they really were. They may have been misunderstood, undervalued, condemned as criminals in their lives, but their deaths showed their true place in the scheme of things.
When James Montrose was executed, he was taken down the High Street of Edinburgh to the Mercat Cross. His enemies had encouraged the crowd to revile him and had actually provided them with ammunition to fling at him, but not one voice was raised to curse and not one hand was lifted. He had on his finest clothes, with ribbons on his shoes and fine white gloves on his hands. James Frazer, an eyewitness, said: “He stept along the street with so great state, and there appeared in his countenance so much beauty, majesty and gravity as amazed the beholder, and many of his enemies did acknowledge him to be the bravest subject in the world, and in him a gallantry that braced all that crowd.” John Nicoll, the notary public, thought him more like a bridegroom than a criminal. An Englishman in the crowd, a government agent, wrote back to his superiors: “It is absolutely certain that he hath overcome more men by his death, in Scotland, than he would have done if he had lived. For I never saw a more sweeter carriage in a man in all my life.” Again and again a martyr’s majesty has appeared in death. Consider the radiance of Stephen: It was so with Jesus, for even the centurion at the foot of the Cross was left saying: “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54).
The Cross was the glory of Jesus because he was never more majestic than in his death.

John Calvin: For in the cross of Christ as in a splendid theatre, the incomparable goodness of God is set before the whole world.  The glory of God shines indeed in all creatures on high and below but never more brightly than in the cross.
The Cross was his glory because like a magnet it drew men to him in a way that even his life had never done–and it is so yet.
(ii) Further, the Cross was the glory of Jesus because it was the completion of his work. “I have accomplished the work,” he said, “which You gave me to do.” For him to have stopped short of the Cross would have been to leave his task uncompleted. Why should that be so? Jesus had come into this world to tell men about the love of God and to show it to them. If he had stopped short of the Cross, it would have been to say that God’s love said: “Thus far and no farther.” By going to the Cross Jesus showed that there was nothing that the love of God was not prepared to do and suffer for men, that there was literally no limit to it.

H. L. Gee tells of a war incident from Bristol.  Attached to one of the Air Raid Precautions Stations there was a boy messenger called Derek Bellfall. He was sent with a message to another station on his bicycle.On his way back a bomb mortally wounded him. When they found him, he was still conscious. His last whispered words were: “Messenger Bellfall reporting–I have delivered my message.”

That is exactly what Jesus did. He completed his task; he brought God’s love to men. For him that meant the Cross; and the Cross was his glory because he finished the work God gave him to do; he made men for ever certain of God’s love.  He made known “your name” What a legacy!
[iii]  Anticipated it through the church – you and me. v10 In our Being – sanctification/being conformed to His image – It is not just about words but about who we are.

In our Service – incarnational presence in the world
(iv) But there is still more. Jesus prayed to God to glorify him and to glorify Himself. The Cross was not the end. There was the Resurrection to follow. This was the vindication of Jesus. It was the proof that men could do their worst, and that Jesus could still triumph. Why in the tragedy there is triumph a victim and victor. It was as if God pointed at the Cross and said: “That is what men think of my Son,” and then pointed at the resurrection and said: “That is what I think of my Son.” The Cross was the worst that men could do to Jesus; but not all their worst could not conquer him. The glory of the resurrection obliterated the shame of the Cross.

(v) For Jesus the Cross was the way back. “Glorify me,” he prayed, “with the glory which I had before the world began.” He was like a knight who left the king’s court to perform some perilous and awful deed, and who, having performed it, came home in triumph to enjoy the victor’s glory. Jesus came from God, and returned to him. The exploit between his coming forth and his going back was the Cross. The ‘no vacancy’ sign over the door at Bethlehem ended in the spitting and scoffing of Calvary.  For him, therefore, it was the gateway to glory; and, if he had refused to pass through it, there would have been no glory for him to enter into. For Jesus the Cross was his return to God. We might say the cross was an ET moment! Home Home – remember these words in the famous film.