Catherine and Louise’s talks 10 March

Talk 1

In the Epistle to the Romans  chapter 10 verses 8-13 it is written 

But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart; that is, the word of faith, which we preach

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus,  and shalt believe in thine heart that God has raised him from the dead thou shalt be saved

For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation

For the scripture saith, whosoever believeth in him shall not be ashamed

For there is no reason between the Jew and  the Greek; for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call on him

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved

Prayer is a key way to develop a love relationship with God.

The gift of prayer is that we learn to receive, experience and return his love

Prayer is one place where god can get to us,  speak to us and minister to us.

Seldom do we get closer to god than in prayer

Christianity is a relationship

We have to remember that Jesus had to suffer and die on the cross to make it possible for us to approach god to worship and pray we must remember to thank god as he gave his only son so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life

The heart of what prayer is not just about asking for things it is also about seeking God’s face, listening to him, spending time in his presence and enjoying communication with him and getting to know him better. He welcomes everyone there is no distinction all you need is your faith in god and he promises you grace, honour and blessing

Whether you are walking (that’s when I do a lot of praying I always think about the hymn How Great thou art – oh Lord my God when I in awesome wonder consider all the works thy hand hath made) I feel really close to God and feel at peace. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing anyone can pray. I am sure everyone at times if they are  faced with a difficult situations they have a silent prayer. Oh God help me or Why me god and your faith is tested because you cannot believe that god has allowed this to happen to you but sometimes he takes us on a longer and more difficult path to prepare us for the battles ahead – learn to rely on Gods strength and guidance.

 sometimes your plea is answered but sometimes not but whatever the outcome is he is with you, you are never alone, never be afraid – believe,  because you are loved by God

The strength of our faith  not the length of our prayer is all we need  as he knows what our needs are even before we ask.. At other times you may not be sure in whatever situation you can add YOUR WILL BE DONE

Jesus said ask and it will be given to you the starting power of an answered prayer is asking

When we ask god for something as he listens to all our prayers  the response will be YES NO OR WAIT

Forgiveness can be a barrier to prayer also praying with wrong motives

If you hold anything against anyone forgive them so that your father in heaven may forgive your sins. 

If we pray to gain glory and power or perhaps win the lottery then they are not good in themselves or not good for us or others. Then the answer would be no

Sometimes Satan without us realising is tempting us but Jesus prays to God on our behalf and helps us to walk wisely and play a part in gods call. That is why we sometimes have to wait before our prayer is answered.

Prayer is not just about asking god to forgive our sins we must also thank god for the wonderful things we have in our life and the wonder of all that he created and no matter who you are respond to what Jesus did for you.

Jesus taught the disciples the Lords Prayer to teach them to pray and I would like us all to join together in the Lords Prayer

Our father which art in heaven…..

Talk 2 

In Deuteronomy 26 the Israelites are being encouraged to remember how the Lord protected them and brought them out of bondage in Egypt into the promised land where harvests were plentiful. When they bring the firstfruits to the priests as an offering to God they are to remember their history. Remember how God saved them as a family by bringing them under Joseph’s protection in Egypt. Remember when they had grown to such numbers that Pharoah saw them as an immigrant threat.  Remember that Pharoah had made them slaves. Remember how Moses led them out of Egypt and eventually into the promised land. How good it must have felt with that history to be bringing your firstfruits to the priest as an offering to God. The God who had multiplied their blessings.

In Psalm 91 we learn that if we give ourselves to God he will protect us. The psalmist is encouraging the Israelites to trust in God. If only they will trust in him He will look after them as a nation, delivering them from deadly pestilence, what a peculiar expression. Delivering them from fear, from war, from wild animals, from poisonous snakes. He will shelter them under his wings.

Shelter them under his wings, What a comfortable place to be – it sounds to me like hiding from the world, wrapped in a duvet on your sofa. But as we all know that is ok for a day but not for a lifetime.

It is good for us to look back on our history as a church, as individuals and remember how God has multiplied our blessings. And that doesn’t mean we brush under the carpet any hurts and disappointments, illness and deaths that have been part of our story. Often it’s the difficult times that help us to grow.

Catherine has talked about knowing God, being in the presence of God, talking with God.

When you have put your whole life into God’s hands and trust him, then as well as happy blessings and good times, like the psalmist you can know that God is with you in times of trouble. 

Looking back at our church history, we see fewer and fewer people attending church services. But what else do we see, we see faithful members loving and serving their community, sharing God’s love with their friends and neighbours. Helping the poor, visiting the sick. Multiplying God’s blessings in and around us. 

We’ve been asking two questions at messy church, to a different team member each month. When did you first become aware of God? And what does God mean to you? 

If you look back at your own history, you can be encouraged by asking similar questions. When did you become a Christian, give your heart to the Lord, get saved, or whichever way you describe your coming to faith in God. Each story is unique and exciting. 

Each story contains multiplied blessings and some hard times. We should share our stories over coffee more often and encourage each other with the ways God has blessed us and carried us through the hard times.

And if you haven’t yet taken that step of putting your whole self into God’s hands and letting him direct your path of life, I’d encourage you to think about it. There’s no safer place to be than in the centre of God’s will.

As Jesus talking to Martha is quoted in Johns gospel ch11 v 25:

I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

Amen


Lay Worship Leaders

Louise, Catherine and Catherine with their certificates.
Newly qualified Lay Worship Leaders, Catherine MacLennan, Catherine Paterson and Louise Logue led today’s worship in Tayvallich Church. Catherine M and Louise each did a prayer and a short talk. Catherine P said a prayer and chose the hymns as well as being our regular organist. They were well received by the congregation and hope to take another service in the near future.

Kirk session agenda 10 March

Opening Prayer and Worship
Appointment of Chair for the meeting in the absence of the Interim Moderator
Sederunt
Apologies
Minutes of meetings of the 5th December 2018 and 27th January 2019 – carry forward to next meeting
Matters arising from 5th December
Development of Tayvallich Church. Carry forward to next meeting
Session Administration
Date for Annual Stated Meeting
Worship and Mission:
Easter services
Messy Church
Alpha
Local Worship Leader Training – carry forward to next meeting
Reports:
Interim Moderator – to note change of Interim Moderator
Stewardship – Carry forward to next meeting
Safeguarding – carry forward to next meeting
Notifiable events – carry forward to next meeting
Treasurer and Finance Committee – approval and adoption of annual accounts and report.
Fabric Report – carry forward to next meeting
Correspondence:
Inverlussa Church Building
Local Church Review:
Review of Action Plan – carry forward to next meeting
Date of next meeting
Close with Prayer

Sermon 24 February

When I was first at Kilmartin I mentioned that it was just after the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity (18th – 25th Jan.), that is ‘unity’ rather than ‘uniformity’, and after recent events, I can’t help but reflect that others within these islands would have benefited from taking note of that week! For we seem to live at a time of dis-unity, wherever we look: left; right and centre, as it were.
So it is with some relief that I come here today, having reflected on the excitement and joy that shouts out from the passage in Genesis, when Joseph recognises his brothers (or half-brothers) but they don’t recognise him. This despite the treatment they gave him, which resulted in him ending up in Egypt. How would I react I wondered, especially as the last time I saw my twin brother via Skype (he’s in Singapore – no I didn’t sell him) it appeared that he had a halo around his head! The wonders of modern technology! I digress.
To return to matters much more significant, Joseph knew what it was to have faith in God and the peace (rather than resentment), that forgiveness brings. What followed shows the triumph of grace over judgment. Words of forgiveness and reconciliation come from Joseph’s lips. He calls them closer and adds to his opening words the word “brother”. He re-establishes the bond their betrayal had broken. Joseph’s story shows his profound understanding of God’s providence and how God used their wickedness for good. Although twice he says, “You sold me,” (v. 4, 5) three times he says, “God sent me ahead of you” (v. 5, 7, 8). Joseph doesn’t ignore their actions, he seeks to make sense of them, ascribing ultimate responsibility for the outcome to God, such is his faithfulness!
Their abandoned brother had become governor and he would ensure many, who otherwise would have died, would survive the famine. He has been sent “to save lives” (v. 5, 7). Instead of rejecting or punishing them he extends a hand to them and tells to bring his father down to Egypt to see out the famine years. Greeting Benjamin first, he embraced all his family and tears fell freely. Such is the wonder of forgiveness, of mercy and of grace. Healing and restoration comes, after all these years. The alternative? Thoughts of bitterness, greed and suffering come to mind.
The readings for last Sunday introduce those for today and when I was preaching with reference to the passage from Luke’s Gospel (6:17–26) I noted that it is no accident that part of the passage, termed the ‘Sermon on the Plain’ because of it’s similarity to the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ contained in the Gospel of Matthew, is followed by a passage headed ‘Love for Enemies’ (N.I.V.). Luke tells us earlier in the chapter that this was after a night of prayer.

Jesus is challenging those present to see themselves as God/He sees them and/or will see them when the time for judgement comes. Challenging them (and us), as the prophets did, to repent and put love/desire for those things that are material to our lives well behind a faith that brings hope through love. The blessings he refers to are not particularly difficult to appreciate but given the context of the time (under Roman occupation etc.) they were very challenging and necessitated a change in action/lifestyle for all who heard them. They are still challenging to all cultures, however described. Easy to say but difficult to do!
The call to love God, to love our neighbour and to love one another is added to with one final call, to love our enemies. To love those who are different from us, to love those who disagree with us, to love those who are difficult and demanding and delight to do us down is asking too much, surely! The Greek word written down is ‘agapan’ (Prof. Wm. Barclay) which he translates as an ‘active feeling of benevolence towards other people’. We are instructed to do good to our enemies and to be merciful to them. These are wilful; positive acts, not negative such as withholding punishment. The teaching is positive towards our fellow human; doing that little bit extra brings greater reward, long-term.
The very fact that we have those we might regard and describe as “enemies”, serves to illustrate how difficult an ask this is. I tend to think of ‘agapan’ as attempting to cure the cause that produces “enemies” rather than repairing the hatred that results from having such “enemies”.
Jesus is very practical and pragmatic in the examples he uses by way of application. Whatever we feel, our actions should do good to all. As the former Anglican Priest, the Rev. John Stott said: “Love is not a victim of our emotions but a servant of our will”. Our attitude should be one of blessing not cursing, of prayer not provocation. Instead of retaliation, vulnerability; where exploited be generous in response; let loans become gifts and follow the Golden Rule. This countercultural way of grace marks the Christian community out from others. Jesus makes the point by showing how the default position of the world is self- interest. We love because we are loved. We do good to those who return the favour. We lend where repayment is guaranteed. But go to a different gear, operate on a different level and you will show the world the Christian family to which you belong.
Think back to Joseph and how you might feel if you suffered a similar experience. Not exactly a friendly act when you’re sold like a commodity by your siblings. You might harbour a grudge; ponder how to achieve some form of revenge – physically and/or materially, all fairly negative emotions, but look at the joy and peace brought to all through the positive Faith Joseph has.

One of the great things about being a Reader for our church is that you get to meet lots of people who have that faith and although you might not be meeting anyone who’s done you harm, you do meet people whose paths you might have crossed many years ago. That gives me at least some small insight into Joseph’s excitement and pleasure at seeing his brothers after so many years.
By way of example, I asked myself (and my wife) who my “enemies” were or had been but (we) couldn’t come up with any. The closest I could get was some years ago when I found the going so tough in gainful employment and with some of those I worked with, that I gave up my work, literally knocked my house down and started life in a different direction, that took faith!
As I’ve already said it’s easy to say “love your enemies” but much more difficult to do. An enemy after all presents hostility in some form such as: physical violence; emotional bullying; perhaps even makes you suffer in financial terms or just refuses to alter their point of view to one that you find more favourable. Ultimately when you find difference of such a scale that you regard someone as your “enemy”, then it can’t be a surprise that the “enemy” regards you in the same way. It may be argued that showing love for your “enemies” is a weakness and allows your “enemy” to triumph but that approach to life is very negative in nature and demonstrates no Faith in the love of God.
As the Psalmist says, at the end of Psalm 37:
‘The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord: he is their stronghold in time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.’ (N.I.V.)
Douglas McHugh

Jenni’s talks 17 Feb

Marjorie and I were up here in Inverlussa in the Autumn on a fabulous sunny day. And out of this window, you can see Alistair’s apple tree. I‘ve seen it through all the seasons, bare branches, in blossom and in leaf, but this particular day, as the sun shone on the apples their red skins reflected the light, so that they almost glowed. I felt God say –that’s what my children are like when they bear fruit because they reflect my glory.

Quick question? Where is your Bible?

• Is it a)  In your hand or in front of you? Or perhaps you have a tablet or a phone these days.

b)You’re using a pew bible today

• C)You forgot it

• D)Its on the shelf at home in very good condition , hardly used ( as amazon says)

You can give yourself 10 marks for a, 5 marks for b, 2 for c , because at least you have one. 0 for d, it wont help you there.

Just before Christmas, I was going to the weekly Bible study, I had to catch an early bus, I was rushing around,tried to fit in a bit of shopping and arrived at a friends house quite flustered. It was then that I realised I didn’t have a Bible. Not much point going to a Bible study without a Bible. Thankfully, a friend had a spare one, it was shiny black leather with Gold Lettering, and inside some verses were highlighted in red. I really liked it. I was interested to see what translation it was so I had a quick swizz over the front page and read “ The Ultrayathon Bible”. Now I was a bit worried, I had never heard of the Ultrayathons, and wondered where on earth she had got it from. I thought I’d better ask her about it later. I drank my tea and had a biscuit and calmed down a bit, and thought about what I’d read. So I turned to the front page, at the bottom it said Christian Bible Society, so I thought it must be Ok ,then looked at the translation ,do you know what it said…. The ULTRA THIN Bible! I was glad I hadn’t said anything! Is that how the Bible gets you sometimes? You read things and it leaves you flummoxed? 

Last year I was studying a course in the Old Testament, my tutor had asked us to write an essay relating the escape from Egypt by the Israelites to the O.T. covenant. I remember having a total blank, I couldn’t get started at all I seemed to have brain freeze. I recently found the notes I wrote which said “ The plinkyplonks went with the Ninky nonk to see the whatingers with Iggle piggle and macca pacca.” Now if you have young children or grandchildren ,you will know what I’m talking about, because you’ve seen the program or read the books.

People often say to me, God doesn’t answer my prayers, I ask them if they read their Bible, and usually they say not often. Well a lot of the time God will speak to you through His word, but if your Bible is on the shelf you might be missing what He is saying. Most importantly the Bible tells us, who God is, what Jesus has done for us and that we have his guarantee of the Holy Spirit. The more we read ,  the more we understand about Jesus and grow to love him.  Rick Warren says “ If you are not in the book everyday, you are missing out on the banquet.”

The first Bible I had was the revised standard version, it had nice coloured photos of Bible lands ,It was the one we had at school and were encouraged to use at Bible College, I’ve had mine for 50 years and still use it although its stuck together with lots of tape. Stanley Hood says a Bible that is falling to pieces is well used. I tend to use an NIV and as language translation improves more accurate versions become available. Use whatever version you are comfortable with, but although the KJV may have beautiful language it may not help you understand the text. If I’m stuck on a passage, a quick read in The Message might give me the gist. Even if you are only reading a verse a day, and mulling it over as you work, you are being fed. Its amazing how God can speak to you through his word. Walking along Kilduskland road the other day in the rain with the dog, I was chatting to God about a worry, when stuck to the pavement was a card from someone’s bouquet of flowers . On it, it said, “ Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labour or spin…. How much more will he clothe you.” Luke 12. 22 It was exactly what I needed to hear.  As you will hear in our Old Testament reading in Psalm 1, A man or woman who delights in the law of the lord is like a tree planted by the water, bearing fruit at the right season bit like Alistair’s apple tree.

Who do you think you are? Do you watch that? People tracing their ancestry to find their roots. My family arrived on the shores of Cornwall in about the 11th Century from Scandinavia  to extract tin from the mines. They then returned to farming and moved to Dorset, which they did for a few 100 years. A young man called Wesley roamed the towns and villages of the West Country in the 1740’s and many came to faith as Methodism was born. Including my relatives. In 1878, my great grandfather, Henry Arthur James Vater was born, and was brought up on a farm, but being quite bright he became a Surveyor. He moved to Sussex and felt called by God to build a Methodist Chapel , he found a site in the village of Buxted and got to work, he worshipped there with his family until he died. I met my grandmother when I was about 4 years old and I like to think that she prayed for me and her prayers were answered when I gave my life to Jesus . If you are sitting in the pews here, you probably have your own story about how or when you found Jesus and how your journey following after Him is going.

 In our NT reading Paul says to the Colossians, who had been suffering a bit of opposition in their Christian  journey,

“You’re Deeply rooted in Christ,” When Christians look for their roots, this is where they should be. Those verses were my Baptismal Verses, when I was baptised by immersion 38 years ago. My pastor urged me to remain deeply rooted and built up in Jesus and this comes from  studying Gods word. Its not always easy , but whatever your situation, the Bible has something to say about it. 

Identity theft is rampant, people want to steal your bank account numbers, , your passport, your National Insurance number to name a few things. The devil is no different, he doesn’t want you to know that you belong to Gods family. He wants to steal your identity, confuse and diminish your faith.

He is not as powerful as God , he cannot create but he can distort, pervert and destroy.

He can affect other peoples opinions of you, he wants you to feel worthless, a failure, ugly, overweight and we are fed these feelings through media and culture.

We need to learn our true identity in Christ, this will build us up in Him, and help us put down roots. What does God word tell you and me? I’m going to take you on a quick tour.

.1Pet. 2 v9-10 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God….”

This is Gods view of you. You are royal!! You are Princes and Princesses. You belong to the Royal Family. God chose you, Prince David, Princess Libby.

Ephesians 1.4 For He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. Isn’t that exciting God chose us even before He created the world? He knew those Vikings would invade Cornwall and one day I would  be standing here.

Not only, that Jesus made us acceptable. Being a member of Gods Royal Family is not based on what you do but on what Jesus did Titus 3.7 From The message translation, “It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit.

So we are chosen, royal and clean.

We are Valuable!

Our lives are priceless.  Do you watch Antiques Roadshow. If a famous person has owned something and it has provenance, it is worth money. That persons’ name adds value. Well, we are owned by God, we are his treasured possessions Isaiah 43.4  you are precious and honoured in my sight…The Good News Bible puts it….I will give up whole nations to save your life, because you are precious to me and because I love you and give you honor.

On Tv we are often told how much pieces of art are sold for. Millions in some cases, but they are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them. Well we are the Kings sons and daughters and Jesus paid for us with his life. And because of that we have eternal life!

So if anyone tells you that you are worthless ,they are wrong, you are very valuable.

 We are lovable, You may be able to think of some Christians that you know who you would find difficult to describe as lovable. But if they belong to Christ they are eternally loved by our Father, as are we.  We are part of a huge family. Hebrews 2.11.  He purifies people from their sins, and both he and those who are made pure all have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them his family.   We are brothers and sisters of Jesus.

God loves us with an everlasting love , no one else will ever love you like that. Its unfailing and unconditional. There are no Ifs, if you do this or that I will love you, not because you look good I love you. God says in spite of the fact you don’t always love me, I go on loving you. And that’s GRACE.

Even Christians that are committed to their faith have difficulty grasping Grace. When bad things happen they think that God is getting even. God does not carry grudges. We are totally forgiven Isaiah 43. 25 I, even I am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake and remembers your sins no more. God does not remember your sins, He doesn’t look on them. Jesus wiped them out. Forgive yourself. John 3 16. I hope I don’t have to tell you what that one says!

Why read the Bible? …because you need to know how God sees you. Read the verses ,stick them on the fridge, get your Bible off the shelf, if that’s where you left it. When we know these things, what do we do with that knowledge? We are disciples of Christ? Because Henry obeyed God and built a chaopel many came to know Jesus. We may not be called to do that but we are called to share the Good News. We want others to have what we have. What did Jesus do, he did practical things: He fed the poor, He healed the sick, he met the needs of people practically as well as spiritually.

First we have to provide the help, then others will see our faith and will be willing to listen to the Gospel.

I heard a young man from Paisley Bible College preach, the other day. He said we often pray for a revival, and he asked What if WE are that revival? He quoted from John 1 reading from The Message … “The word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.” Jesus is God, he came to earth and lived as a man. When we follow him, he lives in us. We are His flesh and blood and we live in a neighbourhood. We are Jesus in the Post Office, Jesus on the bus, Jesus in the local shop. We are the first part of the Bible that many people will read. We need to be the skins of Alistair’s’ apples radiating Christ.

The only opinion about who we are that matters is Gods. Be deeply rooted in Him and be built up in him by reading his word.  Who do you think you are?  You are God’s.

Sermon 10 February

Today we joined with our linked parish of Glassary, Kilmartin and Ford as they dedicated their new premises to the glory of God.
Rev. Roderick Campbell, moderator of Argyll Presbytery led the worship.

1st Corinthians 2 : 9, 10
However, as it is written:
“What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived”—
the things God has prepared for those who love him—
these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

Scripture speaks of ‘things beyond our seeing, things beyond our hearing, things beyond our imagining, all prepared by God for those who love him. And these are what God reveals to us through the Spirit, for the Spirit explores everything, even the depths of God’s own nature.’

This morning is one of wonder and excitement. Away from the sadness of falling numbers and decaying buildings we are privileged to be gathered as one community, in this new building, with a bright and positive future beckoning us, inviting us to walk with faith and hope into it.

In years gone by, I was the last convenor of the Church’s National Church Extension Committee. We had the responsibility of providing new places of worship for the communities of Christ in different parishes around Scotland. That was exciting, however the narrative has changed and today we are busy closing churches. No need to go into the demographics, or the changing social patterns, no need to dwell on forces which would counter our faith, rather to embrace what we have, and with the Spirit of Christ leading us forward to embrace the challenges facing us.

The challenges are of change. Like it or not, the immediate future will not be as the past. The future has to be created, new ways of understanding, of expressing; new patterns of worship, new ways of service, all perhaps hidden from us presently, but to be discovered. That is your privilege and responsibility. You as the congregation here have to explore, discover, embrace the change the future demands, and as you do your faith and hope will be richly rewarded.

Let me use Paul’s words to give you a lamp unto your feet, a light in the darkness of the unknown. First of all the confidence in our calling,’the Spirit explores everything, even the depths of God’s own nature.’ There are many who feel secure in the faith of the past, suggesting that what was good enough for our forefathers will be good enough for us. Not so says Paul, this Creator is continually at work, changing, evolving, giving new life. We are given the responsibility of exploring, debating, challenging, discovering the pathway along which the Spirit wishes to lead God’s people. The leading of the Spirit will be as faithful as in the past but the journey will be very different.

If the Spirit is to be effective in our lives and in the life of our congregation, what does it expect from us. It expects us to use our God given gifts. Scripture speaks of ‘things beyond our seeing, things beyond our hearing, things beyond our imagining, all prepared by God for those who love him. You know you are loved by that which is greater than yourself, you are loved with a love which cannot be broken and from which you cannot be separated. That is the glory of God given to us in Jesus Christ.

With that embracing of eternal love we are invited to use our senses. Our seeing, our hearing and our imagination; for the Spirit which loves us has given these gifts, that used sensitively will lead us to pastures new, and in which we will find the fullness of the Creator.

We have first of all to see the love of God in each other. Turn and look at each other with reverence and in silence, remembering that as God was in Jesus, so that same Spirit is in each of us. More than this, that same Spirit is in everyone and everything to which the gift of life has been given. So respect for those outwith the community of Christ, respect for the whole created order coupled with wonder and amazement as the scientist teaches us of the wonders and mysteries of space and time, all these reveal something of the nature of God.

Sight is but one sense, hearing is another and to that we now turn. It was hearing that introduced the Creativity of God in the book of Genesis. The Creator called the creatures into being. Across the centuries that same Creator has called men and women, young and old to explore the mysteries of life. In Jesus Christ we have been called to celebrate and explore the gift of love. For it is by love alone we as individuals and we as Christ’s community can realise our potential and be the gift of love to the world, envisaged on the cross. We learn to listen and in so doing we learn to hear the sound, the sense the rhythm of the many voices of the Creator.
Professor John MacIntyre in his book, ‘On the Love of God’ has a very powerful chapter on the imagination. The ability to think outside the box, the facility to envision how things might be, to see possibilities where others see problems, to grasp opportunities while others remain afraid, to reach out in the faith of Christ, while others remain rooted within the limits of humanism. I cannot tell you what to imagine or how to imagine it, but I can suggest that together you use your considerable talents and let the Spirit lead you.

Today we dedicate this Holy Place, place of worship and of service, a place where all should be welcome, a place from which we venture forth into the complexity of today’s world and there together find the God who calls us. But do not be surprised when you find that Spirit in the most unspiritual places, for that is where Jesus was found and where his church needs to be. This is for you and for the Presbytery of Argyll, the beginning of a journey of faith. Not for the first time does the spirituality of the Creator and the Son begin a journey in Argyll.

Kirk session 12 Feb postponed

  1. Opening Prayer and Worship
  2. Sederunt
  3. Apologies
  4. Minutes of meetings of the 5th December 2018 and 27th January 2019
  5. Matters arising from 5th December
    1. Development of Tayvallich Church.
  6. Session Administration
    1. GDPR
    2. Number of Elders 
  7. Worship and Mission:
    1. Messy Church
    2. Alpha
    3. Local Worship Leader Training
  8. Reports:
    1. Interim Moderator
    2. Stewardship 
    3. Safeguarding
    4. Notifiable events
    5. Treasurer and Finance Committee  – annual accounts and report.
    6. Fabric Report
  9. Correspondence:
    1. Inverlussa Church Building
    2. Other correspondence
  10. Local Church Review:
    1. Review of Action Plan
  11. Date of next meeting
  12. Close with Prayer

Nick’s Christmas message

From our Christmas Day Celebration…

I would like to split my address into two parts the first, being very trendy and slightly flippant, concerning ‘fake news’ the second part will tackle the truth.

As some of you will know I am a prolific author. I have not been brave enough to actually visit the publisher as I suffer from a fear of rejection, no doubt if you place me a psychiatrist’s couch, due to some childhood trauma. however I have written a book I have called ‘Fungi  Fun’ and it is a section of this I wish to delve into first.

Laplanders herd wild reindeer from one end of Lapland to another, presumably depending on feeding grounds that are covered in the least amount of snow. The herders camp at night, have breakfast in the morning and find it a right nuisance when the reindeer have wandered off and the men have to spend all morning retrieving them before they can set off on their trek. An astute Lapp herder noticed that reindeer are very attracted to the fly agaric mushrooms, otherwise known by its Latin name: Amanita muscaria.  This is the one illustrated in all fairytale books, a red specimen with white spots. It grows prolifically in Scotland and northern parts of the northern hemisphere. When a reindeer eats a fly agaric mushroom, its brain goes off into other realms as the fungi has hallucinogenic toxins. The animal stays stationary during these episodes and as a result the herders pick the mushrooms in autumn, dry them and then scatter them amongst the reindeer in the evening thus preventing them from wandering off. An inquisitive young man watched the reindeer getting intoxicated and thought it would be a good idea to have a go himself. The result was that he became high and also very sick so he thought he would be even cleverer and try drinking the animals pee, using its kidneys to filter out the toxins and leaving the drug pure. It was discovered that the older men, who had been doing this for years, had built up a resistance to the toxins and that if the young men drank their pee they weren’t sick and all was well. Don’t try this at home children.

Well, I probably won’t be asked again to address you as I can see David frowning severely at me. It was just a preamble to explaining to you about how flying reindeer came into existence. If you were a high Laplander or Sami, herding reindeer across the vast wastes of the northern hemisphere what would you see? Yes. Flying reindeer – a subject on many a Christmas card with himself at the reins careering through the night sky.

If you wish to see an example of all this, have a look at Catherine’s Christmas jumper. (Catherine was wearing a very cheerful Christmas, red and white jersey with a reindeer motif. Very appropriate for my address).

If you are a French child you don’t write request lists to Father Christmas and put them up the chimney. You pray to Saint Nicolas who was the original protector of children. Incidentally, as I was named after him, I am also grateful to him for being the patron saint of boats so what with children and boats he is a busy Saint.

In the Middle Ages the green man on his green horse in the green wood came on the scene. A rather malevolent character who didn’t really inspire much joy in children’s lives. In fact he was a menacing creature and to balance him out the people chose Christmas as a time for feasting as opposed to French children who chose Easter. 

The green man gradually became more amenable and I understand it was the Coca-Cola advertising department that changed the colour of his clothes to the normal red and white. We are now back to the fly agaric mushroom. No. Let’s not go there.

Now we come to the second section of my address. The Truth. As some of you may have gathered, I am a prolific but modest author. I have written another book called ‘Oh Dad Shut Up!’ -copies of which can be ordered outside the church after the service. It tells the story of my travels from 1965 to 1967 when I was aged 17 to 20. One of the stories details the time when I was hitchhiking in Lapland in late September when the snowdrifts were many metres high and not many sensible people were travelling on the same road as me. I got dropped off at a small crossroads in the middle of nowhere in the late afternoon and was abandoned at the side of the road. I started to feel rather forlorn and as the afternoon became evening, then dusk and no sign of a car coming along the road, I walked towards the glimmer of light which turned out to be a house which had previously been hidden from sight. With great trepidation I knocked on its door. I was greeted by the family that lived there like their long lost son. As Sami or Finnish is not one of my languages and their English wasn’t great we communicated in the age old method of smiling at one’s new friends. I was taken to a hut in the garden and shown the joys of the sauna as presumably the family had decided that a hot bath was needed to cleanse me after the effects of travel to get to them. After a very quick dip in the local stream accompanied by a lot of screaming on my behalf, I was given a hot meal, probably reindeer or moose soup and a glorious bed. After breakfast of delicious ghetost goats cheese and strawberry jam, I set off for the road again. Not a single car came. I was given a fishing rod by the son of the house and he stayed on the road ready to stop a car whilst I fished in the stream. It wasn’t until after another night of hospitality did I eventually get a lift North toward Hammerfest.

‘Oh Dad Shut Up!’ Continues to reveal numerous similar incidents throughout my travels in over 32 countries, and examples of the generosity of mankind. I was on a motorbike in Lebanon and walked into a café which sold nothing but hummus and tea. The hummus was in a big clay pot by the door, and the serving was measured by the owners hand. Fortunately he had a large hand. One of the café’s occupants spoke very good English and asked me where I had come from and a conversation ensued. He insisted I came with him to meet his family, inspect his Orange Grove and ended up being given supper, his bed, his mosquito net and an offer of his pyjamas which I courteously refused. He went off to sleep under an orange tree. I was waved off in the morning by his entire family and set off on the road, refreshed and ready for the next part of the adventure. 

The kindness of people offering hospitality to strangers is something worldwide. I presume it is based on a basic survival mechanism. It is written in the tomes of various religions. I am grateful to David for assisting me with quotes from the Bible.

In Deuteronomy we discover that “God administers justice for the fatherless and the widow and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt”.

In Kings we find the story of Elijah being given hospitality by a widow who was on the verge of starvation – her pantry was all but empty – but she gave her visitor the first small cake from the last flour and oil. The oil and flour bin then miraculously do not run out while Elijah stays on for many days thereafter.

In the letter to the Hebrews, as the writer starts his conclusion, he begins: “Let brotherly love continue. Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some have  unwittingly entertained angels”. You would feel awful, wouldn’t you if you discovered that the person you had just turned away was really an angel in disguise. Mistake! Big mistake!

I myself was rescued by Bedouins in a Jordanian desert when I went to visit the valley where Lawrence of Arabia gathered his camel mounted attack on Aqaba amongst the beautiful scenery of the Wadi Rum. I was walking along a temporary road out to the fort in the Wadi. I was going to stay the night there in order to witness the dawn light shining on the local multicoloured cliffs. The director of the film “Lawrence of Arabia” had thought the spectacular cliffs should be the background to this scene. Unfortunately for me, I got my timings completely wrong, the relentless sun and heat got the better of me and I poured what water I had with me over my head, which was fruitless, as I was just as hot a minute later with no water. A small boy popped out from behind a large rock and invited me to his parents’ hidden camp close nearby. It is a Bedouin tradition that you are looked after until it is safe for you to continue your journey and this they did.

There is a marvellous book ‘The Places Inbetween’ by Rory Stewart, a British soldier, who after fighting in the Afghan war, went back in relative peacetime and travelled across Afghanistan on foot, accompanied by an itinerant and toothless dog he came across.  Every evening he would arrive in a remote mountain village and was tended to by the headman of the village.  The following morning he would be escorted towards his next stop, another remote village.  At the pinnacle of a hill, his guide would point towards a spot in the far distance. When Rory asked his companion whether he would like to accompany him there he would be told that he didn’t know the route as he had never travelled it. Preumably these Afghan villagers keep themselves to themselves.

Rory dedicated the book to the people of Iran, Afghanistan, India and Nepal who I quote: “showed me the way, fed me, protected me, housed me and made this walk possible.  They were not all Saints, though some of them were. A number were greedy, idle, stupid, hypocritical, insensitive, mendacious, ignorant and cruel. Some of them have robbed or killed others; many of them threatened me and begged from me. But never in my 21 months of travel did they attempt to kidnap or kill me. I was alone and a stranger, walking in very remote areas; I represented a culture that many of them hated and I was carrying enough money to save or at least transform their lives. In more than 500 village houses I was indulged, fed, nursed and protected by people poorer, hungrier, sicker and more vulnerable than myself. Almost every group I met: Sunni Kurds, Shia Hazara, Punjabi Christians, Sikhs, Brahmins of Kedernath,  Garwhal Dalits  and Newark Buddhists gave me hospitality without any thought of reward”.

Patrick Leigh Fermor in his marvellous travel writings, especially in his book ‘A Time of Gifts’ tells us of numerous occasions when he was invited into people’s houses on his travels. I quote from Artemis Cooper’s biography of him. ‘Paddy came across kindness and generosity wherever he went, despite the harshness of the times. It had something to do with the word ‘student’ written in his passport and which he used to describe himself. The word was evocative of the wandering scholars who had been a feature of European life since the 12th century as they walked from one university town or monastery to the next in pursuit of knowledge’.

I quote from a page in ‘A Time of Gifts’: Remembering the advice of the mayor of Bruchsal had given me, the moment I arrived in this little village, I had sought out the Burger Meister. I found him in the Gemeindeamt, where he filled out a slip of paper. I presented it at the inn: it entitled me to supper and a mug of beer, a bed for the night and bread and a bowl of coffee in the morning; all on the parish. It seems amazing to me now, but so it was, and there was no kind of slur attached to it; nothing, ever, but a friendly welcome. I wonder how many times I took advantage of this generous and apparently very old custom? It prevailed all through Germany and Austria, a survival perhaps, of some ancient charity to wandering students and pilgrims, extended now to all poor travellers. 

So it is no wonder that when Mary and Joseph were looking for accommodation in Bethlehem and there was no room in the Inn, the innkeeper made his best efforts and offered them shelter in his stable. This kind act was in the finest tradition of providing shelter for travellers.

We live in an unstable world and the only hope for our salvation is hope itself together with the necessity of actually acting in a sensible way. We can only wish that tradition of offering hospitality to strangers is not swamped by the cruelties of war, famine and forced immigration.

RThis afternoon the Queen will be giving her festive message. Her Majesty will be saying that the Christian message of ‘Peace on Earth and Goodwill to All’ is needed as ‘much as ever’.

So if you hear a knock on your front door late at night and it turns out to be a Mexican, Syrian or Iranian refugee family, you will have to decide, on the spot, what you are going to offer them.

Salvation – Ted’s talk 13 January 2019

What is salvation?

There have been different answers.

Perhaps a very frequent one has been “salvation is going to heaven when you die”. That’s not wrong but is it adequate? Matthew 1 v 21 “the angel said to Joseph “do not fear to take Mary as your wife … you shall call his name Jesus because he will Save his people FROM their sins””  Jesus = Joshua = Yahweh (or Jehovah in some translations) “Yahweh saves”.

So what does this teach us? 

SALVATION means that God’s purpose – his purpose in the birth, life and death of Jesus was, as the angel said, to save people FROM their sins – not necessarily from the earthly consequences of their sins. 

Look at another view of salvation:-

1 John 1 v 9 “if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”. Now that is salvation!  

But let us understand it a bit and “unpick” the words a little…

What are sins? – not just murder, stealing, adultery and so on, sins really mean SELFISHNESSES –  thoughts and deeds that are not in accord with God’s will, God’s desires for us. They may be great or may just be small self-centrednesses, but if they are contrary to God’s will they are SINS. 

1John 1 v 9 “if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness”.  UNRIGHTEOUSNESS is the state of mind leading to actions, deeds, SINS. If there is no unrighteousness, if that is all cleared away there will be no sins – no follow-up.

So what does the faithful and JUST God do? He forgives our sins IF we repent and turn against them. that means that He puts them behind his back, which of course means that they are no longer visible, they are not seen by God. They are no longer hindering our relationship with God. It does not mean that there are NO CONSEQUENCES. If we have committed a crime we have to pay the penalty which the state imposes, but we, if forgiven by God, can be in a close loving relationship with Him. 

But is that ALL? 

No! John goes on to say that we will also be CLEANSED from all unrighteousness. Now that cleaning out, or purifying as it is called elsewhere is a lifelong process. Paul says that sin, selfishness, clings closer than a garment which is why we have to keep confessing sin and desiring freedom from it. AND and a big AND we must keep trying to obey God’s commands.  

1 John 2 v 3 says “by this we know that we have come to know him (Jesus) if we keep his commandments. whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a LIAR”. This is added to elsewhere when John says that if we (that is believers) do sin Jesus is our advocate (one who speaks on our behalf) with the father. 

We must remember that our natural selfishness or sinfulness is a barrier, it prevents us from enjoying God’s gift to us of being SONS and HEIRS. (by the way, we are told quite clearly by Jesus that there are no males and females in the new creation.  He said we will be like angels, neither male nor female.  We have no word to replace “sons”, “children” is a bit too juvenile.)

So when Jesus saves us FROM our sins He is cleaning us out, freeing us from the inner unrighteousness, selfishness, that is part of our inborn human condition.  It is that natural human condition that separates us from God, but wonderfully NOT, repeat NOT, from God’s LOVE.  God’s intent from before Genesis 1  v 1 was to have beings, people, who would be with HIM in a relationship of LOVE.  They would be SONS and HEIRS. 

Romans chapter 8 tells us a lot about that. We are adopted as sons, it tells us.  We inherit, that is to say, receive by RIGHT, that which comes to Sons. The Greek word used does not mean as does our word inherit to receive after the previous person’s death it means “to receive a portion by right” and so when we become God’s sons we then receive something very special from God, our share of God’s characteristics of love and righteousness. This follows after the gift of forgiveness.  

And  ALSO, what a big ALSO! after forgiveness of sins we have DONE, comes not only cleansing, but the absolutely wonderful gift of God’s Holy Spirit. somehow the Holy Spirit gives us or rather imbues us with those Christ-like characteristics. The more we CHOOSE to allow this to take place the more we will grow and then display the FRUIT of the SPIRIT Galatians 5 vs 22 and 23 which are “ love, Joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control” and Paul adds “against such thing there is no law”. remember also that wonderful chapter 15 of John‘s Gospel. To produce good fruit the tree must be pruned.  That is similar to discipline. We get essential pruning and discipline, which of course we do not like, before we develop that wonderful FRUIT. That is all part of salvation. 

This is ALL part of salvation. We humans cannot, by our own efforts, change our nature, what Paul calls “the flesh”.  Our task is simply to turn against (repent) our natural characteristics and to ask God to change us.  In some way that we cannot possibly understand, but which we can and need to ACCEPT. Jesus accomplish that on the cross.  “He was MADE SIN for us” 2 Corinthians 5 v 21 “so that, in Him, we might become the righteousness of God.” He completed that astonishing work and as Hebrews  1 v 3 says “having made by himself the purification of sins he sat down (i.e. task done and completed) on the right hand of the Greatness on High.” I repeat that astonishing promise – “so that we (that is YOU and ME and ANYONE who so desires it) that we may become the righteousness of God”. And because,  if we so desire, we can be made clean, pure, as RIGHTEOUS as God himself. we can be part of that amazing vision that John had and describes in Revelation chapter 21 v 2 “I saw the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband and I heard a loud voice saying “behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them and they will be His people and God Himself will be with them as their God.” Please read the rest of the chapter which has more wonderful metaphorical pictures, and it even calls the bride i.e. the church, all Christians, The Wife of the Lamb i.e. Jesus. 

So, this is the salvation we are offered and which God has prepared from before creation and which the Messiah, God’s anointed one, Jesus, brought about.

  1. We learn what we are by nature, the flesh, at enmity with God, Galatians 5 vs 19 to 21 and unable to be His sons
  2. forgiveness offered for sins and for sinfullness if we REPENT.
  3. adoption by God as sons and heirs.
  4. The total CLEANSING of our innermost motives and drives – a life long PROCESS.
  5. The gift of God himself to be our driving force – the Holy Spirit within us.
  6. The PROMISE of being united to Christ for eternity and unending enjoyment of the Fruit of the Spirit.  

This prospect and indeed present experience is  truly salvation.

AMEN