Prayer for 15 July

Hello everyone,

It’s odd the things that suddenly strike you, and lodge in your thoughts.

I’m going to have to begin poignantly. This week, along with cautious, and sometimes incautious, hope as the pandemic regimes have begun to change and ease, I have been beginning to hear the stories of the hardships ahead for local businesses, of the blows that are only now falling on some of them, and of the deep anxieties of their owners and employees. Some of these businesses will not survive.

We need to put that in context, of course; communities are certainly rallying round “their” businesses in a way that is touching, but also, for us, a concern and – let’s use the word! – love, that reflects the love of God.

But all the context in the world doesn’t take away the fact that this is an area in which people are deeply anxious, and suffering, within our pastoral sphere, and that of our congregations. Some worst fears will inevitably be borne out. How can we be there for these folk, our neighbours, our sisters and brothers in Christ? The only starting-point I can think to offer is that we need to be radically sensitized to their circumstances – to what it’s like to be them.

The second thing that struck me was the news that Alison Hay is back from furlough, which inevitably had me thinking of Kenny Wilson, whose furlough is continuing. We give thanks for them both.

However, that word “furlough” also prompted me to think.

A Presbytery isn’t a business. I’ve always felt very blessed to be in a Presbytery that has such a firm grasp of its spiritual function, the service of the Body of Christ. Before anything else, that’s what we are called to do, and be.

That said, much of what we do, we actually call “business”. We plan, we strategize – we agonize! We have multiple responsibilities, we have big challenges, which are much bigger now. We don’t know what the future holds. We know that next year will be much more daunting than this.

I’m not going to tell you that nevertheless, we are full of hope, and joy, and a sense of facing all this in the strength that God gives. You already know that! (Actually, as you see, I did mention it, and I hope that cheers you!)

I want, instead, to suggest that our challenges, the pressures and uncertainties we are coping with, the way we have to respond to our calling – to enable the witness of the Church to continue and flourish in Argyll in the face of increasingly materially adverse conditions – might just be a point of contact with the shops, guest-houses, small businesses, employees and employers of Argyll.

Maybe it’s this dimension of our life and work, where the pressures on us are most like the pressures on them, that we can imagine, and be sensitized to, the anxieties and worries they have. Maybe it’s by dwelling on these things that we can come closer to them in prayer and service.

That’s what suggested to me the focus of our prayers this week.

I digress to remark that I’d wondered about experimenting with the way I sign off; I picked up “Yours in the Adventure of Christ” from an acquaintance I admired, and it’s  a formulation I liked – but I wondered if some of you found it a bit twee! I cast about a bit, but thought “Your Moderator and Friend” sounded like a wind-up! In any case, our journey with Christ is, and should be, an adventure, so I’ll keep it the way it is! I just wanted you to know that I do think about these things…

Yours in the Adventure of Christ,


I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the LORD took me from following the flock… Amos 7:14-15

And because he was of the same trade he stayed with them, and they worked, for by trade they were tentmakers. Acts.18: 3

Is not this the carpenter…? Mark.6:3

[T]he members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honoured, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it 1 Corinthians 12:25-7

Sensitize us to our calling, Lord of wholeness, Lord of shalom.
Sensitize us to our calling to be the sensitive Body of Christ,
Full of feeling, each for the other,
With love the nerves and synapses of our belonging
As members of each other
As members of the Body.

Forgive us, where we have not felt,
Forgive us where our self-centredness
Our concentration on what touches us alone
Has rendered us numb and unfeeling.

We seek to be your Church.
We seek to be a Presbytery bound together in belonging, in supporting, sustaining,
feeling, understanding, anticipating;
we thank you for all those ways in which you have grown these things
among us.
You are at work, within us and among us;
We are a work-in-progress,
But we are the Spirit’s work in progress.

Sensitize us to our calling, Lord of wholeness, Lord of shalom.
Sensitize us to our calling to be the sensitive Body of Christ.

Sensitize us to each other, but sensitize us, too,
to the flock Christ has given to us to shepherd and call,
within and beyond the Church, but not beyond our bounds,
and never beyond the bounds of God’s love.

We pray for the working life of our communities, and the economy of Argyll,
And we ask, make our microcosmic prayers, for what and whom we know
Into macrocosmic prayer for a world in pandemic crisis.


We pray for those whose livelihoods lie in welcoming,
Who wait to see if guests, visitors, holiday-makers
Will come.
We pray for those whose working lives
are in hosting, entertaining, catering for those who celebrate –
or just say, on a whim, “Let’s eat out this evening…”
We warm to the solidarity of those who will now do that
“to support local businesses”, “to support the community”,
to support the people we know.”
Where there is love, there God is.

We pray for shops and outlets
Kept going by home deliveries,
and the new loyalties, and old loyalties
expressed in new ways
“To support local businesses”, “to support the community”,
to support the people we know.”
Where there is love, there God is.

We pray in gratitude for all those
who will now buy their groceries lovingly, caringly,
“to support local businesses”, “to support the community”,
To support the people we know.”
Where there is love, there God is.

We pray for all those whose businesses,
Supported in this way,
Will pull through.
We pray for those whose businesses will not.


And we pray for the congregations within the bounds – our congregations –
whose life is not bounded by the walls of the kirk,
As they, too, strive
“to support local businesses”, “to support the community”,
to support the people we know.”
Where there is love, there God is.

We are your Church,
and pointing to that love which is the sign of your presence
where people live their lives,
is our business.

You make our business, Lord, to be
The business of real life, in the real world.
We are the living body of Christ.
but we are also, incidentally – and not so incidentally –
an institution.
we, your Presbytery of Argyll, know this so well.

As we cope with the challenges yet to come,
And come they will, down the road we must now travel,
Let our experiences sensitize us to theirs –
The people in the communities within our bounds,
Who must make their living by organising, managing, planning,
Coping where plans are mocked by COVID-19,
Employing, and caring about those they employ,
seeing and feeling and sharing their humanity…

The very things we do…

We pray for ourselves as on organization, as part of an institution,
a Court of decision, and planning, and strategic responsibility,
And we pray:
that these dimensions of our life and work be always in the service of the Body- that we always “discern the Body” –
and that we understand it all as a spiritual task, and rejoice in the business you give us.

And as Jesus taught us, so we pray:

Our Father…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.