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