Sunday 7th November 2021

Welcome to Craigmillar Park and Reid Memorial Churches, and to our service of worship for Sunday 7th November. In this season of remembering we consider our role in the world around us. 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 46: 1-3)
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.
Let us worship God.

HYMN: Jesus shall reign where’er the sun

(from First-Plymouth Church Lincoln Nebraska)

Prayer:

Let us pray:

God, our creator
the heavens declare Your glory;
day by day they proclaim Your majesty.
This day we gather to join them
as we sing songs of praise,
listen in silence for Your voice,
and gather around Your word.
As living sacrifices we come,
seeking to do Your will,
seeking to lift high Your Holy Name.

We come to praise,
yet we also come to learn.
Open up to us Your word.
Show us its meaning,
reveal to us its wisdom,
and teach us how to live.
We come to learn,
yet we come also to serve.
Inspire us as disciples,
fill us with Your love,
and give us strength for the journey.


You, God, are our Creator,
yet You are also our Sustainer.
When we chose darkness,
You gave us light.
When we chose anger,
You gave us peace.
When we chose fear,
You gave us love.
In Jesus You healed us
and gave us life anew.

In His words,
we now pray, saying 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:

Deuteronomy 4:9-14
But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children – how you once stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, ‘Assemble the people for me, and I will let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me as long as they live on the earth, and may teach their children to do so’, you approached and stood at the foot of the mountain while the mountain was blazing up to the very heavens, shrouded in dark clouds. Then the Lord spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words but saw no form; there was only a voice. He declared to you his covenant, which he charged you to observe, that is, the ten commandments; and he wrote them on two stone tablets. And the Lord charged me at that time to teach you statutes and ordinances for you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy.


Romans 8:31-35
What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?


John 15:9-17
As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

HYMN 604 Holy wisdom, lamp of learning

Reflection:

This is a strange time of year, especially this time around. We are early in a series of acts of remembering that began with Hallowe’en and All Saints, before quickly moving on to Guy Fawkes or bonfire night. Soon it will be Remembrance. Then it is Advent; the time where we are asked to look back to the birth of Christ while also looking forward to his return. These festivals come around each year, yet this year there is an additional challenge to look both backward and forward. It cannot have escaped anyone’s notice that a major climate conference is currently taking place. There governments and peoples are being challenged to save the earth for future generations. What is not readily acknowledged is that much of this looking forward is also a harking back in time; it is a looking back to Eden! We cannot avoid being caught up in these events. We may not tune in to reports from the conference; we may try to avoid the regular festivals, yet we cannot avoid having a role to play. Our three readings from Scripture illustrate why this is the case.

The book of Deuteronomy has one dominant them – Covenant. Both our Israelite ancestors in faith, and the Reformers, emphasised that we are in a unique relationship with God. God gives us of his grace and mercy; in return, we honour those blessings by serving his purposes and kingdom. The covenant calls upon us to be a Holy people. This means acting in ways that are both moral and ethical as defined by God. The Israelites were commanded to ‘go in and possess’; it is an instruction to transform the land into a place of truth, mercy, and bounty. As the people of the New Covenant we also subject to this covenant obligation. For us it does not mean resettlement or conquest but to make a concrete and positive difference to our world. We are to learn from what has gone before and to then become agents of transformation working to a restoration of the earth, of Eden.

Paul’s letter to the church in Rome reminds us that, on our own merits, we are unable to fulfil these demands. Yet through the New Covenant we are given new life through Christ. We experience the grace of God in a new way, and we are able to experience the limitless blessings of God. There, in the New Covenant, we are freed from condemnation and judgement. In response to this we are called to respond in ways that are non-judgemental. We are to seek out the possibilities of grace and mercy at work in all people. We are to act to be a healing presence in and for the world. It is not about rules and regulations but about hope and joy; it’s a lifestyle that we are called to model in our daily living.

Our third reading gives us the key to how this will work. In the Gospel of John we are commanded to “love one another as I have loved you.” Christ’s followers are instructed to act with this one motivation, to love. This is a love that seeks nothing in return but is given as a gift of grace. This is a love that is not self-seeking but self-sacrificing, just as Christ offered himself upon Golgotha’s Cross. This is a love that demands that we consider the wellbeing of the stranger as much as of the friend. Note that this love is not a request, it is a command; we are called to obey it. For us it may mean engaging in events and circumstances that may be foreign to us; it may mean engaging in activities and with people that we may otherwise seek to ignore. Whatever it may mean for each one if us it means that we are to act, and to do so in the gracious and merciful love of God.

These are strange times in which we live as we are invited to look both back and forward. As the people of God we are commanded not to stand by as if casual observers but to engage as emissaries of truth, grace and mercy. It means that we don’t have to like what has happened to All Saints or Christmas but we have to engage with our communities to bring the light of God to bear in them. It means that we do not have to celebrate a failed act of terrorism We may be climate sceptics, but we have to engage with the hopes and fears of communities across the globe for whom these are real and every day. Yes, we are called to engage and to seek to build anew; we are called to reclaim the earth and work toward Eden restored; but we are called to do so in faith, in hope, and in love just as we are commanded by Christ.
Amen.

HYMN 253 Inspired by love and anger

(From Upper Clyde Parish Church)

Prayer:

Let us pray:

God of mercy
we come before you with our cares and concerns.
We pray for the world that You created;
we pray for our friends and neighbours;
we pray for ourselves.

For our world we pray.
In this time of remembering,
You call us to look forward in faith.
As we look at the world
we see its pain and suffering.
From the horrors of terrorism in Afghanistan
to doubts destroying crops in Africa;
from pollution in India,
to deforestation in Latin America;
from poverty both near and far,
to rising sea levels in the Marshall Islands,
You see our folly
and the devastation it causes.
Merciful God,
have mercy upon us.
Show Your people how to lead this world
in ways of justice and peace.
Inspire and energise us
that we may bring Your healing
and light to our world.

For our neighbours we pray.
In this time of remembering,
You call us to look forward in faith.
As we see look around our communities,
we see and hear of divisions.
Gender, race, and sexuality
still seem to matter,
setting us apart from our neighbour.
God, may we and all Your world
learn to look beyond difference
and see that all humanity is made in Your image.
In places of loss, sadness or struggle
may we bring hope and joy,
and always in Your Holy Name.

For ourselves we pray.
In this time of remembering,
You call us to look forward in faith.
Give us the courage
to gaze into the windows of our souls.
Let us see the true state of our heart,
and seek our fullness in You.
May we see beyond our frailties,
and beyond our egos,
Seeing instead the truth.
In Your mercy,
bring us to a place of healing;
bring us to a place of restoration,
a place of renewal.
Merciful God,
may this all be done in praise of You
for You alone are worthy.
Amen.

HYMN 251 I, the Lord of sea and sky

(From St Martin’s Ampleforth Prep-I)

Benediction:

Go from this time
in faith, hope, and love.
And as you go
may the blessing of God,
Father, Son and Spirit Holy,
go with you 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