Category Archives: from the Minister

Sunday 2nd May 2021

Welcome to our joint service of worship from Craigmillar Park and Reid Memorial Churches. As we continue our journey through the season of Easter we turn to reflect upon our hope and life in Christ, the ‘true vine’.

Call to worship

Psalm 118: 2-3
The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.

HYMN 436 Christ triumphant, ever reigning

(from Westminster Presbyterian Church, Buffalo)

Prayer

Prayer c/w Lord’s Prayer
God, we turn to you,
you who is the focus of our lives,
you who is the source of life.
God, we turn to you,
yet our minds are distracted,
by all that goes in within and around.
Yet still we turn to you,
seeking hope, seeking peace,
seeking to praise your holy name.

As we gather,
still our minds that we may know your peace,
calm our hearts that we may feel your love.
As we worship,
lift our souls that we might praise,
our spirits that we might rejoice.
Turn us to Christ,
ingraft us into his living body,
and make us one with him.

As we come before you this day,
cleanse us and restore us,
renew us once again.
In our foolishness give us wisdom,
in our carelessness give us love,
in our hurtfulness give us healing.

Hear the good news,
in Christ you are restored,
in him you are renewed.

Rejoicing in Your new creation, as our Saviour taught us, so we pray:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours
now and for ever. Amen.

Scriptures

1 John 4:7-21
Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: he sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.

This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.

God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: in this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.


John 15:1-8
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

HYMN 536 May the mind of Christ my Saviour

Reflection

Many of you will, no doubt, be familiar with the term, ‘repurposing’. You may have read it in print or have watched a television programme about it. You may even be a practitioner of repurposing. More than just finding a new use for an item or piece of equipment it often is a form of recycling, taking something and giving it a new lease of life beyond simple restoration. Today’s Gospel reading sees Jesus take a well-known image of the people of Israel and repurposes it for his own ends.

In the Old Testament, Israel is often likened to a vine. That said, the image is often used negatively, pointing to judgement for unfaithfulness. Here, though, Jesus adopts the symbol for himself repurposing it. He takes the negative connotations and turns them on their head. He proclaims himself as the ’true vine’. Now the image of the vine is a positive one, and so can be used to speak of possibilities and hope. That positivity is not a vague or abstract idea but is concrete. It is so because it speaks to those who are disciples of Jesus. These words are spoken by him in the time before his arrest and trial; they are from before his death and resurrection; yet they look forward to a time beyond the ascension. They look from then into now, and beyond.

Jesus speaks of himself as this ‘true vine’ and of his disciples being a part of that same living plant. Life speaks of growth and blessedness; as part of a vine it promises fruit too. More importantly it speaks of a relationship. It speaks of a union between the divine life and the human, his life and ours, for we are his contemporary disciples. In becoming grafted into the vine that is Christ we allow ourselves to be upheld and nurtured. In being nurtured we can bear fruit. Yet such a metaphor also implies that there will be pain for there may be some pruning ahead. Pruning though is not necessarily about the removal of dead or unwanted parts of the plant. Pruning can be about taking cuttings to create new plants, with new growth and possibilities. Whatever the case, what matters is the union of the life of Christ Jesus with the life of the believer.

We must note that Jesus describes his disciples as being ‘the branches’. That is, it is in the plural. Sometimes in congregations we may find ourselves trying to carry too much. Like an overly fruitful vine branch if we carry too much we can bend and bow until we break. If we break the fruit is lost. Perhaps the load is put upon us by others, perhaps we are simply too quick to say ‘yes’, perhaps we simply like to feel that we are being called to serve our Lord. Whatever the reason we need to remind ourselves that we are not alone; there are other branches. These other branches are not just other members of the congregation, but other congregations too.

Over the coming months we will see news of significant changes to take place within the Church of Scotland. There has been some radical restructuring, and there is more to come. To use another popular term, there will also be significant ‘downsizing’; indeed, this has already begun at our offices in George Street. There will be fewer ministry posts, fewer congregations, and fewer Presbyteries. This may make us, as branches of the vine, feel compelled to take on more but that comes with the risk of overloading ourselves. If that happens then, like the vine with too much fruit, we may bend and bow until we break. So, what are we to do?

The key to the future is, perhaps, twofold. Most importantly we need to remind ourselves that we are part of the vine that is Christ Jesus. In the love of God we have been ingrafted into him. Through this we are nourished and strengthened to continue onward. Through this we have life. We need, too, to take Jesus as our example, and learn to repurpose our lives in him. This may mean we look at the who, when, and how of the use of our buildings, perhaps becoming more imaginative in how we do so. Perhaps we may need to look at our own service; is it time for us to reimagine how we serve God, and perhaps repurpose this? This all will be challenging and may leave us with more questions than answers. But remember, he is the vine, and we are the branches; in this we have both possibility and hope.
Amen.

HYMN 43 O God, You are my God alone

(from Ballykeel Presbyterian Church – Tune: resignation)

Benediction

May we go from this place,
may we go from this time,
may we go from this day,
as a people who are one with Christ.
Amen.

Acknowledgements:
English translations of Lord’s Prayer © 1988 English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC). www.englishtexts.org. Used by permission.

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®  Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Second Prayer – Church of Scotland Weekly Worship. This was written by Rev Fraser Penny, Minister of Dunkeld Parish Church

Sunday 25th April 2021

Welcome to our service from Craigmillar Park and Reid Memorial Churches in Edinburgh for the fourth Sunday of Easter. We consider what the love of Jesus meant for his’ disciples and what it means today for us.

Call to Worship. 1 John 4: 11, 12 KJV

Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Prayer of Approach

God of Love,
Help us to follow the example of Jesus, to show goodness,
that we may do your will.
Create in us what is pleasing to you.
As the shepherd gathers his flock so we are gathered here today as your flock.
Draw us into the shelter of your fold that we may be nourished and refreshed.

Some of us come before You rejoicing,
because our path has led us through green pastures
such that our cup is overflowing with happiness.
Some of us have come to you in sadness,
as our journey has taken us through dark valleys.
Some of us are seeking your forgiveness,
as we have wandered from your fold and are feeling ashamed.
May each of us know that we matter to You,
however far away we may have strayed.
When we become preoccupied and distracted,
may we hear Your voice afresh that we are drawn ever closer to You.
Help us to follow Jesus’ footsteps,
to be aware of those around us.

May our actions, lives and interaction with others be a living example of the gift of giving and receiving of love.
We entrust the week ahead to You.
May we have the courage to follow You today and every day,
as we consider the words that Jesus taught us…

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy Name,
thy kingdom come,
thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

Scriptures

Psalm 23
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 
Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

1 John 3: 16 – 24
This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. This is how we know that we belong to the truth and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence: If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. The one who keeps God’s commands lives in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.

Hymn 694 Brother sister let me serve you.

Reflection

Is it easier to give or receive a gift? I don’t mean a material item, like a birthday present. I’m thinking more of the gift of love, of sharing and of giving of ourselves. While we sometimes struggle with giving these gifts, it can be equally difficult to receive them.

Just over a year ago our routine lives were disrupted by the Covid pandemic. We were required to follow a new and unfamiliar road. Our journey has had many twists and turns, encountering hills and valleys. Like the shepherd we looked after our flocks offering provisions and refreshment, reassurance and support, guidance, and protection. As the shepherd moves his sheep to new pastures so we became resourceful and adapted to the changing restrictions. Under Covid, we learned to look out for and listen to those around us and how to respond to them. When others were found in need, they were welcomed into the fold, maybe not in a physical sense, but certainly by way of a phone call, kind words and thoughtful deeds.

The 23rd psalm has shaped the consciousness of God’s people over centuries. It is a promise of the presence and protection of God throughout life in all its ups and downs. Our journey in our Christian lives has different phases, it is not static and not always settled. There are times when it can be testing and difficult. How easy it is to stray for the path or to be paralysed by fear. We have all faced, or will face, such challenges. Instead of turning from God, we should accept that our only protection is in the grace and love of God.

In the second reading, John is very clear that we must love each other, although he clearly admits that it is not always infused with a sentimental glow. Sometimes those closest to us are the most difficult to love. We do not always success in what we set out to achieve and we may feel like a failure. We all fall short at times, but this is when we should turn to God, he knows us better that we know ourselves. What we can do, we should do, like offering a word of encouragement, a card in the post, an offer to go shopping, or an extra item in our shopping bag to give to the food bank. This love in action is characterised by a determined attitude of kindness and generosity toward others and is demonstrated in a myriad of small acts throughout a day.

We should not be embarrassed by the gifts and talents that God has given us. We must use them whether it be at home, at work, to help a neighbour or a friend. It may even be a stranger that needs our help. If we are to follow the example of sharing that was shown to us by Jesus, we also must be prepared to receive from others. Being offered a word of kindness, a complement or a thoughtful deed are often difficult to accept but we must do so graciously.
Indeed, many of us will have experienced the support and love of a Christian community at times of sadness or during a joyful event, whether it be at Craigmillar Park, Reid Memorial or elsewhere. It can truly be seen as love in action. Love is central to believing in the name of Christ, and, to love one another is in obedience to Him.

There are many good things to come out of the Covid pandemic. The gift of love, of sharing, of giving of ourselves, and of receiving from others has been clearly evident over the last year. As the restrictions are eased and we move into a more sociable environment, we can be grateful for the love that we have shown to each another. We have hope for the future and have learned much about the giving and the receiving of love.

Prayer of Intercession

Loving God,
As Jesus and the early Church cared for those in need,
show us how to give the help that is required rather than what makes us feel good.

We pray for all who suffer and are not cared for.
We pray for the young who are neglected, or cruelly treated.
We pray for all who have grown hopeless,
are lonely and weary as each day is like the one before.
We pray for those who face hunger and homelessness,
for refugees and asylum seekers
who have fled due to fear and have no place to call home.
In this world of so much suffering,
we pray too for all who are affluent, comfortable, warm, and loved.
For those who would like to offer help to those in need but are unable to do so, for whatever reason.

We pray for those who care and who are willing to go the extra mile,
giving of their time and talents.
Father, as we pray, increase the depth of love in us,
and in those who have the skills and training to help the ill, the troubled and the dying.

Give us voices full of compassionate and wisdom.
We thank You that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and that we are part of His flock.

You know us by name,
You understand what we are like,
You call us to follow you and You accompany us along the path,
seeking us out when we stray, keeping a loving eye on what we do.
Please accept our prayers as we offer them through Jesus Christ, your Son, and our Saviour
Amen

Hymn 259 Beauty for Brokenness

Closing prayer

Gracious God,
Help us to make a difference in the world this new week.
Let our words and actions be pleasing to you.
Help us to be a blessing to everyone that we meet and interact with.
Bless us as we leave this place.
Amen

Acknowledgements:

Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®  Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.