Welcome to Craigmillar Park and Reid Memorial Churches, and to our service of worship for Sunday 12th September. 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 19: 1-4)
The heavens are telling the glory of God;
and the firmament proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours forth speech,
and night to night declares knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words;
their voice is not heard;
yet their voice goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
Let us worship God.
HYMN 172 – Sing for God’s glory
(from the Cantus Firmus Trust)
You, God, are the creator of heaven and earth.
All that is, seen and unseen, is the work of your hand.
Today we come before you in awe.
In the vastness of all there is
you reach out to each of us,
and so we look upon you in wonder.
This day, touch us by your spirit
uniting us in your praise
guiding us in your wisdom,
leading us in your love.
When we are tempted
to turn away from creation
to deny the gifts we bring to make life abundant
to lie and join in with greater lies;
help us, our God,
to hear your call in the street,
to heed your voice in our lives,
to respond to your prodding for us to change.
Hear us, God of creation
as we come to worship you this day,
as we seek refreshment in our spirits and
nurture for our lives,
that as we meet you in word and song,
and in each other,
we may turn back to You in creation
to use the gifts you give us to nurture the earth,
and to speak the truth, whatever the cost.
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.
Proverbs 1: 20-33
Wisdom cries out in the street;
in the squares she raises her voice.
At the busiest corner she cries out;
at the entrance of the city gates she speaks:
‘How long, O simple ones, will you love being simple?
How long will scoffers delight in their scoffing
and fools hate knowledge?
Give heed to my reproof;
I will pour out my thoughts to you;
I will make my words known to you.
Because I have called and you refused,
have stretched out my hand and no one heeded,
and because you have ignored all my counsel
and would have none of my reproof,
I also will laugh at your calamity;
I will mock when panic strikes you,
when panic strikes you like a storm,
and your calamity comes like a whirlwind,
when distress and anguish come upon you.
Then they will call upon me, but I will not answer;
they will seek me diligently, but will not find me.
Because they hated knowledge
and did not choose the fear of the Lord,
would have none of my counsel,
and despised all my reproof,
therefore they shall eat the fruit of their way
and be sated with their own devices.
For waywardness kills the simple,
and the complacency of fools destroys them;
but those who listen to me will be secure
and will live at ease, without dread of disaster.’
Mark 8: 27-38
Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they answered him, ‘John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.’ He asked them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Peter answered him, ‘You are the Messiah.’ And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him.
Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.’
He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? Indeed, what can they give in return for their life? Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’
HYMN 510 Jesus call us here to meet him (verses 1-3 only)
(from Upper Clyde Parish Church)
What’s your definition of an emergency? Is it something that needs addressed right this moment, or can it be something that may be tackled at a somewhat slower pace? In part, it may depend on the context. If the situation is one of a road traffic accident then we may want that addressed immediately. If it’s a political situation then the timetable for action may be both slower and longer. But what if the emergency is concerned with the climate, with issues such as melting ice caps, rising sea levels, and quickly reducing levels of natural resources? What if it is a ‘climate emergency’?
For the last few years the church has been observing the month of September, and the first few days of October, as a time to consider creation. We are encouraged to focus not just on its joys, but our responsibility both as a part of the created order and as God’s appointed stewards of it. So why is this relevant to us? Well, not only are we stewards pf creation, something we read of in Genesis, but the wisdom passages of the Bible also point us in this direction. Our call to worship today is just one example of such a reading.
To the world of ancient Israel and its neighbours wisdom writings were something that they held almost in common. Wisdom was seen as a universal, and a constant. Contrary to some modern understanding wisdom is not about being able to answer all the questions on Mastermind or University Challenge; neither is it about being able to solve all the puzzles on Only Connect or the Krypton Factor. Rather, wisdom is about knowing how to live rightly. It’s about how to live a peace-filled and just life. That is what makes it relevant to us. Don’t we want to live a life where everyone knows peace, and that justice flows?
In our passage from Proverbs we find ourselves introduced to the personification of wisdom. There are three stands shown to us. Firstly, wisdom speaks out in public. She is no secret and is available to all, even those who have no time for her. From a spiritual perspective this means that God’s love is freely available to everyone. This also means that his guidance is freely available to each and all of us. This freedom, though, also means that we are in the position of having to choose whether to accept wisdom or reject it.
The second strand is that there are consequences for ignoring the wisdom of God. The consequence is disaster. For the ancient Israelites this meant subjugation by foreign kingdoms and exile to distant lands. These may be punishments, but they are consequences of failing to choose wisdom. Sometimes the consequences are quick to appear while at other times a far longer waiting is seen. As we see the state of the world are we beginning to see the consequences of humanity’s failure to act in accord with divine wisdom? Is environmental disaster the consequence of generations of foolishness?
The third, and final, strand is that wisdom makes clear the stark reality of the choice in front of us all. From their earliest days the people of the scriptures were given a choice; they could choose to go their own way, the path that leads to death, or they could choose to follow the path of God, the path of wisdom. Scripture always encourages the latter, urging us to choose life.
Before us today we have a straightforward choice. We can choose to continue along the path that humanity currently follows, or we can choose life. If we choose the latter then we are choosing wisdom, choosing love, choosing justice. In other words, we are choosing God and His wisdom. Sometimes it takes a crisis or a moment of special revelation to see or understand wisdom; this is something we see often in the Gospel stories of the twelve disciples. Our role, as stewards of the world that God created, is to stand up for creation. It is to be good stewards, caring for creation as we would steward any other gift we were called to nurture.
As Pope Francis put it a couple of years ago:
“This is the season for letting our prayer be inspired anew by closeness to nature…to reflect on our lifestyles…for undertaking prophetic actions…directing the planet towards life, not death.”
HYMN 534 Make me a captive, Lord
God, we turn to your with our concerns for the world.
As the Church, the body of Christ, proclaims the message of the Gospel
may we remain true to his words and example
and so bear witness to your eternal truth.
May the Church bear its cross just as he did his.
May it choose not the way that leads to death,
but the wisdom that leads to life.
May your wisdom be heard by those in authority.
May governments and parliaments choose paths
that lead to peace and justice for all.
May power be wielded to strengthen the weak,
give a voice to the oppressed, and hope to those who struggle.
May all people look beyond self and to their neighbour.
Grant us your wisdom that we may choose life.
In times of challenge make us both patient and courageous.
In times of weakness may we find the strength to share.
Make us ready to deny self,
and to carry our own cross
and so bless your creation.
For those in sickness or sorrow;
for those dying or bereaved,
may their load be lightened
and may they know your love.
May all who struggle this day
know your peace and strength.
We remember those gone form among us,
the saints of our day and before.
May their example guide and inspire
pointing us toward your wisdom.
May we look forward to the coming day
when all are one in your kingdom.
These prayers we bring in the name of Jesus,
the one in whom faith is life eternal.
HYMN 512 To God be the glory
May the One who gave creation voice,
give you a voice to proclaim justice for the earth,
that we may find ways to live with our new realities
and seek justice for all of humanity.
And the blessing of Almighty God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be with you, now and always.
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
Confession and Blessing based on resources from Eco-Congregation Scotland