Category Archives: from the Minister

Sunday 17th October 2021

Welcome to Craigmillar Park and Reid Memorial Churches, and to our service of worship for Sunday 17th October. This week we look at our calling to be servants of God. As we worship, either at home or together in a church building, may we be drawn closer to each other and to our Lord.

Call to Worship (Psalm 104: 1-2)
Bless the Lord, O my soul.
O Lord my God, you are very great.
You are clothed with honour and majesty,
wrapped in light as with a garment.

Let us worship God.

HYMN 111 Holy, holy, holy! Lord God Almighty!

(performed by Audrey Assad)

Prayer:

Let us pray:

All praise and glory,
honour and power be to Your name,
God Almighty.
You are holy and majestic in Your person
and in Your ways.
High and lifted-up, nothing escapes Your view.

Jesus taught us that You even know when a sparrow falls from a tree
and You tend to the flowers of the field
as if each one was irreplaceable.
How much more are we, all humankind,
the work of Your hands and the apple of Your eye.

Such a reminder is staggering,
difficult for us to comprehend,
especially when we know ourselves to be far from perfect.
Yet, because of Christ, You look past our faults to our potential,
You show mercy rather than condemn us,
You express interest in what we can be
rather than what we have been,
You grant grace upon grace.

Thank You, Lord.
Thank You that rather than write us off and leave us without hope,
You draw ever closer to us and promise that,
where we turn away from our past failings
You will bring restoration.

Thank You, Lord.
Thank You that in Your hands
our brokenness is not something that resigns us to the rubbish tip.
Instead, You renew us,
taking what we are,
wasting nothing of our life experience,
and fashioning us into something beautiful.

Thank You, Lord.
Thank You that despite our waywardness
and because of Your compassion,
there is still hope for us to be purposeful in the things of Your Kingdom.
In this regard, the stories of old,
the tales of those who have gone before us,
both in bible times and since then,
give us reason to believe that all is not lost.

And so, we pray that You will speak to us clearly today
as we read from and reflect upon scripture.
May Your written word be brought to life
by the presence of Your living Word.

Take our lives, then,
as we once more lay them before You,
as we submit to You and Your ways
as we put fresh faith in Your plan and purpose,
as we again take on trust the promises of Christ.
Hear us as together we pray the words of Your Son, our Saviour:

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:

Job 38: 1-7, 34-41
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind:

‘Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
Gird up your loins like a man,
I will question you, and you shall declare to me.

‘Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone
when the morning stars sang together
and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?


‘Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
so that a flood of waters may cover you?
Can you send forth lightnings, so that they may go
and say to you, “Here we are”?
Who has put wisdom in the inward parts,[a]
or given understanding to the mind?[b]
Who has the wisdom to number the clouds?
Or who can tilt the waterskins of the heavens,
when the dust runs into a mass
and the clods cling together?
‘Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,
when they crouch in their dens,
or lie in wait in their covert?
Who provides for the raven its prey,
when its young ones cry to God,
and wander about for lack of food?


Mark 10: 35-45
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to him and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ And he said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ They replied, ‘We are able.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’

When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’

HYMN 132 Immortal, invisible, God only wise

(from The Scottish Festival Singers)

Reflection:

Growing up, who were your idols? Were they actors or pop stars? Sporting heroes? We all had them, though they may have changed according to fashion or whim. The Church is no stranger to this phenomenon either. There have been people seen as so holy that other Christians would go on pilgrimage to literally sit at their feet and listen to their teaching. Sometimes, it was enough just to be in their presence. Think of those known as the Desert Fathers of Mothers as an example. Perhaps more recognised, though, are those Biblical characters that become idolised, such as the twelve disciples. Often, they have been portrayed as the holiest of people, without flaw or stain, and as people to emulate. The truth, however, is rather different. Today we will look at two of them and Jesus’ response to them.

What do you make of James and John? Their nickname, the ‘Boanerges’, suggest that they may be both loud and troublesome. After all, the name means ‘sons of thunder’. Asking to be at the immediate side of Jesus in his kingdom was quite a request. It required more than a little hubris on their part for them to seek such positions of prominence. It’s no wonder, then, that the other ten disciples are more than a little annoyed by this. Their behaviour is a far cry from the way the church has traditionally come to represent them. Rather than perfection they have ambition, hopes, and a sense of self-importance that is irritating to those around them. In other words, James and John are human. They are less than perfect just like the rest of us.

In a sense we see this too with the character of Job from the Old Testament. The story of a righteous man tested to breaking point by Satan is well known. Yet, in today’s reading from his story, we find the tenor of the previous chapters turned around and we hear for the first time the perspective of God regarding the whole matter. Job, and his friends, are reminded that they do not know it all; they are reminded that they do not have a complete perspective on events; they are reminded that only God sees and knows everything. To put it another way, Job and his friends have to be reminded that they are human, just like James and John and just like you and me.

But what matters most in these stories is not the reminder of our mutual humanity but the approach of Jesus to the challenges this presents. We may have expected him to react with a telling off. We may have expected, perhaps, something of an incentive to ‘toe the line’. We get neither of those. What we get is something completely different; there is no ‘carrot or stick’ approach but something truly new, something revolutionary.

Jesus begins not by reprimanding James and John for their pride but by asking them if they can face the pain and suffering that he will face. He challenges them to let him be more than their teacher; he challenges them to let him be the role model that they will follow no matter the cost. What he is calling them to do is then spelled out. They, and all his disciples, are to become great in the Kingdom of God by first becoming its servants. They are not to lord it over each other. Rather, they are to tend to each other and the needs that are brought to them. In opposition to the worldly perspective of rulership and power through domination their greatness will come through being servants one to another.

The four Gospels were not written primarily as a record of the life of Jesus but as instructional guides to the life of a Christian. This means that the stories that we read or hear from them are not just of historical interest but are meant to have an application for the believer or community receiving them. We, then, are to look to these stories and find where we are in them and to then learn from that. In the story of the sons of thunder we are to put ourselves in their place. We are to be aware of our dreams, hopes, and aspirations. Perhaps we are also to acknowledge our own hubris too. Just as Jesus halts the hopes of the brothers and shows them another way so too does that other way then become applicable to us. We may be living almost two thousand years after the events of the Gospels, and we may be living a long way away, and in very different cultural settings, but the demand upon us is the same. The question of Jesus applies to us also: can we drink the cup that he must drink.

We live in a world where we see many driven by their own sense of self-importance or a drive for power through being a lord over others. Yet, as today’s disciples of Jesus, we are called to take another path. Will we risk all to become servants, to nurture and tend to each other’s needs? Will we reach out beyond the safety of our own four walls as serve the needs of our surrounding communities? Will we become servants for the sake of the Kingdom of God?
Amen.

HYMN 184 Sing to the LORD a joyful song

Prayer:

Let us pray:

Lord, before we pray for the needs of those we love
and for so many around the world
we pause to acknowledge that, like Job,
sometimes we are caught up in complicated situations
that cause grief and raise questions.
We confess that, even when we are aware of the tension that has arisen,
we still find it challenging to address the brokenness
and the pain of the world.

Unity of spirit and purpose,
along with the healing of broken relationships
is what we also seek for our nation and world.
Where there is contention, bring co-operation.
Where there is unhealthy competition, usher in collaboration.
Where there is false accusation, let there be truth.
Even when differing in opinion from one another,
may we do so with mutual respect.

And this is our prayer also for Your church.
In our generation, may we increasingly become an answer to the prayer of Jesus,
whose desire was to see his people become as one.
Now, as a church family,
we bring before You the particular needs of those who are facing hardship at present.…

silence

Draw very close to all whose burden is heavy.
Continue in them the process of healing that has begun.
May physical rest and peace of mind be their experience
now, and in the days, to come.
At the same time, we rejoice with each one of our local congregation
who has something to celebrate…
Lord, how wonderful it is
for us to share the pleasure such good news brings
to those directly involved,
and to us as a congregation.

And finally, in the silence of this space,
we bring to You our own needs and those of others
especially those who cannot be mentioned publicly at this time.

silence

Lord, in Your love for all humankind,
reach out to everyone who needs a deep touch from Your healing hand this day.

Hear and answer us according to Your mercy, Heavenly Father,
and glorify Your name in our midst
that all may know You are the LORD,
and that nothing is impossible for You.
In Jesus’ name, we pray.
AMEN

HYMN 374 From heaven you came (Servant King)

(performed by Graham Kendrick and Nicki Rogers)

Benediction:

Go from this time
Serving the Word
through service to the world.
And may the blessing of God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Be with us all, now and always.
Amen.

Sung Amen

Acknowledgements:
Bible Quotations taken from: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

English translations of The Lord’s Prayer, © 1998, English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC), and used by permission. www.englishtexts.org

Prayers adapted from Weekly Worship, © the Church of Scotland 2021.

Sunday 10th October 2021

Welcome to Craigmillar Park and Reid Memorial Churches, and to our service of worship for Sunday 10th October. This week we consider how God may place us in the right time and place to be a healing presence in the world. As we worship, either at home or together in a church building, may we be drawn closer to each other and to our Lord.

Call to Worship (Psalm 22: 27)
All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the Lord;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
Let us worship God.

HYMN 110 Glory be to God the Father

(from St. Machar’s Cathedral, Aberdeen)

Prayer:

Let us pray:

Heavenly Lord,
we come before you this day
in praise and in hope.
We come before you
seeking to lift high your name.
Inspire us, we pray
that in our words and music,
in our silence and our song
we may lift each other’s spirits
bringing glory to you alone.

Heavenly Lord,
as we come before you this day
we are reminded of the state of the world.
We are reminded of its aches and pains,
its fears and regrets
and our part in them.
Have mercy on us, we pray.
By your light, guide us.
By your grace, uplift us.
By your love, restore us
and make us anew.

Heavenly Lord,
as we come before you this day
direct our actions
direct our thoughts
direct our words
that we may work for your kingdom
and bring healing to your world.

This prayer we bring,
in the name of the risen Christ,
in whose words we pray together:

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:

Psalm 22: 1-11
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;
and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy,
enthroned on the praises of Israel.
In you our ancestors trusted;
they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
‘Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
let him rescue the one in whom he delights!’

Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.


Esther 7: 1-10
So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, ‘What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.’ Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have won your favour, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.’ Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, ‘Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?’ Esther said, ‘A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!’ Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen. The king rose from the feast in wrath and went into the palace garden, but Haman stayed to beg his life from Queen Esther, for he saw that the king had determined to destroy him. When the king returned from the palace garden to the banquet hall, Haman had thrown himself on the couch where Esther was reclining; and the king said, ‘Will he even assault the queen in my presence, in my own house?’ As the words left the mouth of the king, they covered Haman’s face. Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, ‘Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.’ And the king said, ‘Hang him on that.’ So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.

HYMN 14 The Lord’s my shepherd (Psalm 23)

(from the Chet Valley Churches)

Reflection:

Have you ever felt yourself to sometimes be in the wrong place at the wrong time? You know those occasions where being somewhere else would have been much better, perhaps as chaos erupts around you or as the world seems to grind to a halt. If you drive around the city bypass just think of those times where you have found yourself at Sheriffhall at 4pm on a weekday. It’s at a time like that you begin to wish you’d taken another route or stayed at home. But do you ever have those times where you realised that you were in the right place at the right time? Perhaps you have intended to be in one place and ended up in another. There, you meet a friend by chance and you chat. Somehow, something you say is what the friend needed to hear that day. It may have been information imparted, or a kind word that offered much appreciated encouragement. Rather than where you planned to be, you have found yourself in the right place at the right time.

But what if the need is somewhat greater; what if the need is a life-or-death issue. What does it mean, then, to be in the right place at the right time? In both of our readings today we find situations of despair. The writer of the psalm finds himself at the end of his tether; it’s as if his life is at an end. He needs relief, he needs support and encouragement to find a way ahead. He needs to find a reason to go on and live. Our reading stops well short of the end of the psalm; by that point he has found that he is not alone. The one who is in the right place and time for him is God.

In our reading from Esther we find a genuine life or death situation. Here, it is her people that are under threat of extinction; it is genocide that is planned. By some miracle this young woman is in the right place at the right time to act to bring salvation to her people. She acts wisely and faithfully to bring about the undoing of evil plans and then see her people flourish.

But, are we called to be in the right place at the right time? Are we called, as disciples of Jesus, to regularly find ourselves in places or situations where we may bring the healing presence of God to bear? What if the despairs we encounter are well hidden, perhaps because the source is embarrassing? What if it’s not mental despair on its own, or even threat of death, but something we would find acutely embarrassing? Thinks of things like hunger or debt for example. We live in a wealthy nation yet around us, in our city, are people who are regularly hungry. Around us, too, are people who are struggling with debt. These problems are often well hidden yet cause the same real sense of despair as was felt by the psalmist. Is Jesus calling us to be in the right place at the right time to make a difference for good?

This week the churches in our land have sought to engage with the government in respect of the up-and-coming environment conference. They have promised to act in practical ways for the healing and betterment of our world. This week has also seen the churches turn their focus towards the crisis of debt in our population. Perhaps these are easy things for bug institutions to say and do, but what about us as a congregation or as individual believers. As the church we are in a privileged position to be able to be the right people, in the right places, and at the right times to make a positive difference in our world. We can bring healing; we can bring light; we can bring hope to bear on our neighbours, both near and far. It may simply be through a kind word or simple gesture of support; it may be through a concerted effort and giving of time to work with others to eradicate hunger and poverty. Whatever it is, we all can play a role. We can live up to our calling from Jesus.
Amen.

HYMN 518 Lift up your hearts

Prayer:

Let us pray:

Let us pray to God in hope, looking for the coming of
Christ to every life.

Let us pray for all Christians, in all congregations,
thanking God for the special service to which each one
is called.
Your kingdom come, O Lord, your will be done.

We pray for the nations of the world,
remembering before God those people especially who
exercise authority for good.
We pray for our own country:
for its industry, agriculture and commerce
in these challenging times.
Your kingdom come, O Lord, your will be done.

We thank God for the many,
whose skills are exercised on our behalf,
praying that they may be sustained in their labours.
Let us take our stand before God
with those facing struggles in daily living,
remembering the hungry, those experiencing poverty,
and the forgotten of our land.
Your kingdom come, O Lord, your will be done.

Let us focus our prayers on those known to us,
close to us or far away,
people who have asked us to pray,
people who have not asked,
who would not ask,
who need our love, in Christ.
Your kingdom come, O Lord, your will be done.

Let us entrust ourselves to God,
who can use our words and actions
in his answer to our prayers;
to him who can place us
in the right place and time
to do his will.
Your kingdom come, O Lord;
your will be done.
Amen.

HYMN 533 Will you come and follow me

(from Everingham Music)

Benediction:

Go from this time
in grace, love, and fellowship.
And as you go, may the blessing of God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
Be with us all, now and always.
Amen.

Sung Amen

Acknowledgements:
Bible Quotations taken from: New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

English translations of The Lord’s Prayer, © 1998, English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC), and used by permission. www.englishtexts.org

Second prayer based upon the first prayer of intercession, ‘Prayers for Contemporary Worship’, Church of Scotland , 1986