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Sunday 24th May 2020

Ascension
We gather for worship today in celebration of the Ascension of Christ. Just as this was a new experience to the disciples who witnessed these events so today our worship will bring us new experiences, in song.

Call to Worship (Psalm 68: 4)
Sing to God, sing praises to his name;
    lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds—
his name is the Lord—
    be exultant before him.

HYMN 558 Lord, the light of your love is shining (Shine, Jesus, Shine)

Prayers
God of love,
light a flame of love in our hearts to you,
a flame of love to our families and friends,
a flame of love to our neighbours,
a flame of love to our enemies.

Son of the Mary,
light a flame of love in our hearts to all,
from the lowliest thing that lives,
to the Name that is highest of all.

God of life,
grant us your forgiveness.

We have been heedless in our thoughts,
cruel in our words,
shameful in our actions.
We are indifferent to a world made sad
by want and wastefulness;
we pass by on the other side
when we see our neighbour in need;
we wander from the way that leads to peace
in paths of our own pleasing.
God of life,
grant us your forgiveness.

silence

God of the new day and God of love,
you created us and you have redeemed us.
As you scatter the mist
from the hills,
banish the deeds of darkness
from the sons and daughters of your light.
Help us to know and believe
that, as the children of your love,
we are free to begin again;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

God and Jesus and Spirit of wholeness,
as Three and as One,
shield us and save us,
possess us and aid us,
clear our path,
go before our souls
each step of the stormy world.

Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

Scriptures

Acts 1: 6-14
The Ascension of Jesus
So when they had come together, they asked him, ‘Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?’ He replied, ‘It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’ When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up towards heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up towards heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’

Matthias Chosen to Replace Judas
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away. When they had entered the city, they went to the room upstairs where they were staying, Peter, and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James. All these were constantly devoting themselves to prayer, together with certain women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, as well as his brothers.

John 17: 1-11
Jesus Prays for His Disciples
After Jesus had spoken these words, he looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son so that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all people, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth by finishing the work that you gave me to do. So now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had in your presence before the world existed.

I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world. They were yours, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything you have given me is from you; for the words that you gave to me I have given to them, and they have received them and know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. I am asking on their behalf; I am not asking on behalf of the world, but on behalf of those whom you gave me, because they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine; and I have been glorified in them. And now I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.

HYMN 437 He is exalted

Reflection

Parting is such sweet sorrow

So says Juliet to Romeo in Act 2 of Shakespeare’s well known tragedy. However, in light of today’s Bible readings, we have to wonder if the disciples would have agreed with her. True, the contexts are different; she is bidding a good night to her lover, Romeo, whereas the disciples were in a very different, and much more complex, situation. Today is the nearest Sunday to the celebration of Ascension, and the disciples are once more being parted from their beloved Lord. They had already suffered his traumatic loss once before in the events that we now call Easter; yet their joy had been restored when the Risen Jesus had appeared to them not just once in the upper room but on a number of times and places. Each time he had been there to prepare them for the next stage of their faith journey. It hadn’t been long since he had been restored to them, and now he was being taken away once more. How must they have felt? What grief must they have known? How did they find the strength, and will, to go on?

Grief is something with which we are all acquainted. We will have experienced it through the death of a loved one, or the permanent breakdown of an important relationship. Today, though, we are also experiencing forms of loss that are new to us. We are experiencing loss as elements of our freedom are restricted; we fell hurt as elements of our culture are closed down; we experience estrangement as our social circles, our community, is prevented from meeting as we would prefer. Psychologists tell us that these are all recognised causes of grief, and more.

To return to the disciples, how did they cope in their grief? The answer lies, in part, in their faith heritage. To us the events of the Ascension are strange, but to the disciples they would have resonated with familiar stories. They would have been immediately drawn to the stories of the prophet Elijah; today we tend to think of him only in reference to either his encounter with the still, small, voice of God, or with his fatal encounter on Mount Carmel with the prophets of Baal. The disciples would also have been drawn to the story of the ascension, the rapture, of Elijah. In this story (to be found in II Kings) he is swept up into the presence of God rather than allowed to face natural death and decay. The disciples would have recognised not only this, but a number of other stories alongside, it that would have given them hope. They would have had hope that this parting was not the end, but the beginning of something new.

Moses spent forty days on the mountain; Elijah spent forty days on Mount Horeb; Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness; the disciples were prepared for forty days by the Risen Jesus. The disciples would have seen this pattern of preparation and growth. Moses and Elijah prepared disciples (Joshua and Elisha) to take on their ministry, and now Jesus had done the same. But the parallels do not end there; Joshua and Elisha also ‘inherited’ something of their former teacher. Importantly for the disciples, Elisha gained a double portion of the Spirit that had empowered Elijah; this enabled him to serve and do great things for God. Knowing these stories, the disciples would have been encouraged to view their position as similar; they would have been getting ready to move on with their mission.

We turn to ourselves. In our grieving for what, and who, we have lost during this pandemic what may we do to begin to look forward? Perhaps we can take our lead from the disciples, and look to this as a time when we can prepare ourselves to serve. We can ready ourselves to reach out to our community. We can become bearers of a message of grace and hope that strengthens others in difficult times. We can, ultimately, take this time to prepare ourselves for mission. And we begin, as did the disciples, in prayer.

Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

Let us pray for the Church,
the world, and one another.

For the Church we pray, the bright lamp of faith,
her ministers and people, and this parish.
May the King of angels protect her,
keep her, and save her.

For the world we pray, the creation of God,
its land and sea, its peace and prosperity.
May the Christ move through all the earth,
blessing it.

For those who are ill we pray,
and for those who suffer.
May the Good Shepherd
who knows and loves his sheep
make them whole and well, active and content.

For those who work we pray,
and for all who weave
the patterns of this world’s life.
May the King of grace
give to their labour
growth and substance,
until the day of gladness come.

For those we love, and for ourselves we pray.
May the guarding of God be theirs and ours,
until together we come
to the High King’s house in heaven,
in the name of Father, Son, and Spirit Holy.

God of surprises,
in every age you have called men and women
from security to danger,
from comfort to hardship,
from silence to speaking-out:
we honour you and we honour them.

We remember with gratitude and wonder
the impetuous fisherman,
the despised tax-collector,
the zealous persecutor,
and all the other friends
and witnesses of Christ,
who lived out what they heard and saw
and wrote for us the story of his life.

We remember with gratitude and wonder
those courageous souls
who first brought the Gospel to our shores,
and braved wild northern seas,
defied rocks and skerries,
crossed moorland and mountain,
to offer Christ to our ancient peoples.

We remember with gratitude and wonder
holy men and women of later days,
who made Christ’s presence bright
in word, and water, wine and bread;
and lit a flame of glory to his name
in places which became,
through praise and prayer,
beacons of hope and sanctuaries of his grace.

We remember with gratitude and affection
those who first led us to you,
parents, teachers, ministers,
men and women who worshipped with us;
and those we once loved here on earth.

We celebrate their faith-filled lives,
and pray that they may be
bright flames before us,
guiding stars above us,
smooth paths below us,
a sure defence behind us,
until we reach our home,
the court of Christ, the peace of heaven.
Amen.

HYMN 558 Lord, I lift your name on high



Benediction
The guarding of the God of life be on you,
the guarding of the loving Christ be on you,
the guarding of the Holy Spirit be on you,
every day and night,
to aid you and enfold you,
each day, each night.
Amen

Acknowledgements
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
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.
Prayers are based on those in the Church of Scotland Book of Common Order – Third Ed. (2005) – ©Panel on Worship of the Church of Scotland 1994

Sunday 17th May 2020

Call to Worship (Psalm 66:19-20)
Truly God has listened;
he has given heed to the words of my prayer.
Blessed be God,
because he has not rejected my prayer
or removed his steadfast love from me.

HYMN 132 Immortal, invisible, God only wise

(This hymn does not embed – please click on the link below.)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=spE-BE23qxA

Prayer of approach and confession
Eternal and ever-blessed God,
we give You thanks
for the joy that comes
when we gather to worship together
and are truly united as the people of God.

We thank You for the family of faith,
united in our desire to follow Jesus.
Thank You for those with whom we have laughed,
who have made this world a more cheery place.
Thank You for those with whom we have wept
and we have shared our sorrows
in our times of need.

We bless You for those we have served alongside
sharing together in a common task,
whose support has made the work more manageable
We bless You for those who have shared our dreams
and pursued our visions,
as partners in a common purpose,
working to an agreed goal.

Thank You for those with whom we worship together,
for those with whom we pray together,
for those in whose company
we have listened to Your voice
and sought to see You face to face.

Forgive us for everything that has interrupted
the companionship we should enjoy:
for selfishness that made us want nothing
but our own way,
for intolerance which made us see nothing
but our own point of view,
for self-assertiveness that made us seek to impose
our own will upon others.

Have mercy, good Lord.
Forgive us for arguments in which we lost our temper,
for discussions in which bitter words
and sarcastic comments were thrown about,
for things we said in the heat of the moment
and now bitterly regret.
Have mercy, good Lord.
So cleanse and purify us, that in the days to come
we will work to live in unity with one another
because we are one in Christ.

Hear this our prayer
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

The Lord’s Prayer

Scriptures
Acts 17:22-31 – Paul at the Aeropagus
Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, ‘Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, “To an unknown god.” What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him—though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said,

“For we too are his offspring.”

Since we are God’s offspring, we ought not to think that the deity is like gold, or silver, or stone, an image formed by the art and imagination of mortals. While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’

John 14:15-21 – The Promise of the Holy Spirit
If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’

HYMN 586 Come, Holy Ghost, our hearts inspire

Reflection
Picture the scene; it’s Athens of two thousand years ago. Paul is in one of its public areas, one where the men of the city liked to gather to discuss the political and philosophical ideas of the day. Into this place of sharing Paul brings his message. He addresses his audience in terms that they understand, getting alongside them, and making himself intelligible. He even quotes approvingly from a number of their poets. He uses their culture as a means to an end; it’s a door for him to enter into their conversation and to gain a hearing. Paul begins with where they are in life, on what they regard as firm and safe ground, but soon moves on to his message. He points them to who their unknown god really is – the creator of heaven and earth, of humanity and all that is. He tells them that they need to follow this God if they want to know life in all its fullness. He tells them that they need to abandon their old gods, suggesting that they are nothing more than man-made idols. He doesn’t stop there. Paul tells them that they need to change their direction in life and follow the one true God; this implies that they will need to change their ways of life to match.

I’ve recently watched the first season of an American comedy-drama that asks the ultimate question about our ability to change direction in life, and serve God’s ways. In the language of theology, it asks about ‘repentance’, just as does Saint Paul. In a sense it is ‘ultimate’ as it asks if no less than the devil could repent! Whether or not the show’s creators are serious or sincere in their asking of the question is not what matters, what does is the importance and truthfulness of the question itself. To rephrase it, “is anyone beyond turning and following the ways of God”?

We live in times that are both strange and challenging. The current lockdown has seen many grow restless or impatient, while others have taken matters into their own hands, ignoring the advice of both science and medicine. But what about us? Can we, as the people of God, follow good advice irrespective of whether it is of human or Godly origin? Can we follow, even to our own discomfort, sound advice whether it comes from a sage or an apostle? In a sense this is what the apostle Paul is asking; he wants us to follow good advice and turn our lives from following our own paths to those of God. It may seem to limit our choices or actions, we may even feel that it is inconvenient or irritating, but following will lead, ultimately, to life in all its fullness. The television program referred to earlier seems to presuppose that even the devil can turn around, and be redeemed, implying that if he can then so could we. Paul calls on us to change and to follow.

Where, though, may we find the strength and ability to follow? Our Gospel reading, speaks of how Jesus’ followers would be supported once he was gone from among them. What’s being pointed out is that this life of following, discipleship, is not a solo effort. In part it’s a joint effort of the community of faith. Importantly, Jesus reminds us that we are not alone as he would send “another helper”. This helper would aid his followers in living the life they are called to. The Holy Spirit of God is with each of us, empowering, comforting, helping us as we seek to redirect our lives from paths of our own choosing to those God has chosen for us.

In the Aeropagus the unknown god of the Greeks is distant, and unmoved by the lives of the people. Paul tells both them and us that the true God is not like that. The true God, he states, is in our midst, journeying alongside us.
Amen.

Prayers of intercession
Let us take our weariness and tiredness to God
who picks up those who have fallen
and raises up those who are brought low
Bless those, good Lord,
who are bowed down
under the burdens they must carry.
We pray for those who are crushed by their responsibilities at work
and those who feel the pain of our world,
who marvel that others can seem so indifferent to it.
Help them to keep on going.
Bring supportive friends alongside them.
Give them tokens of Your grace,
fresh vision and courage
and signs of encouragement in their struggle.

Let us take our loneliness to God,
who delights to put the solitary into families.
God our Father,
bless those who are lonely
those who have grown old
and whom the passing years have taken
all their friends and contemporaries.
Bless those who are shy,
who find it hard to initiate conversation
and have never known real friendships.
We pray for strangers in a foreign land,
for asylum seekers and refugees,
separated by language and culture
from familiar ways and much loved customs.
We remember all those
who even in the midst of crowds feel alone.

Help the Church, we pray,
to be a place of acceptance and belonging,
a place of welcome and inclusion,
where all can find a home,
a listening ear, a friendly smile and a helping hand.
Let us take our sorrows to God,
who binds up the broken-hearted
and comforts those who mourn.
Bless those whose hearts are sore today.
Be very close to those
whose family circle has been invaded
and whose joy has been darkened by death.
We remember those who have lost loved ones
for whom they have cared,
whose needs they have met,
whose lives have been so intertwined
that they still listen for a voice
they will not hear again.

We remember wives who have lost husbands
and husbands who have lost wives;
parents who have lost children,
who find their homes strangely silent and empty now
and children who have lost parents,
who are confused by a world that seems
less secure and more frightening than before
and all who for whom
familiar places, and sounds and smells
awaken memories that bring tears in their wake.
Thank You for our faith.
May they rest in peace and rise in glory.

Let us turn to God in trust
and recommit ourselves to God.
Send us forth this day
with the joy that no-one can take from us,
the life which is Your life
and the hope that gives strength to our actions.
Help us to sing of our faith
and in that singing find our strength to go on,
trusting in Jesus who lived among us,
died for us and rose again
and who prays for us today,
even as we pray to Him.
In His name we pray
Amen

HYMN 512 To God be the Glory

Benediction
Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing, 25 to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and for ever.
Amen.

Acknowledgments
New Revised Standard Version
(Anglicised)
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.
Prayers
Very. Rev’d. Colin Sinclair, Moderator to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland 2019-2020, and minister of Palmerston Place Church, Edinburgh.

Sunday 10th May 2020

Call to Worship (from Psalm 35: 9-10)
…. my soul shall rejoice in the Lord,
exulting in his deliverance.
All my bones shall say,
‘O Lord, who is like you?
You deliver the weak
from those too strong for them,
the weak and needy from those who despoil them.

HYMN  198    Let us build a house where love can dwell

Prayer
Our souls sing out a joyful song, our souls sing out
how great Thou art.
We consider the works You have made;
the stars of the night, the leaves of the trees,
the birds of the air, the oceans and streams.

Our souls sing out a mournful song,
our souls grieve before our God.
We consider the works our hands have made;
the warming of the planet, the rising of seas,
the wilting of the harvest, devastating communities.

Our souls sing out a contrite song,
our souls bow down low.
We regret the works our hands have made
the impact on the poorest, the livelihoods lost,
the deepening of poverty, the environmental and human cost.

Our souls sing out a penitent song,
our souls turn back to what is right.
We consider the good works our hands can make;
the words of justice we can speak, the acts of love we can give,
the hand of solidarity we can extend, for others to fully live.

Our souls sing out a hopeful song,
our souls look to the Lord, where our hope comes from.
We consider the works you call us to;
the love of our neighbour, the stewardship of the earth,
the flourishing of all creation, the wonder of its worth.
Amen

As our Risen Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Lord’s Prayer.

Scriptures:

I Peter 2: 2-10

Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture:

See, I am laying in Zion a stone,
    a cornerstone chosen and precious;
and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’

To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe,
The stone that the builders rejected
    has become the very head of the corner’,

and
A stone that makes them stumble,
    and a rock that makes them fall.’

They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

Once you were not a people,
    but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
    but now you have received mercy.

John 14: 1-14
‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling-places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going. ’Thomas said to him, ‘Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.’

Philip said to him, ‘Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.  I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

Common Ground #12 Be still for the presence of the Lord

Reflection

We often hear selected verses of John 14 at funerals. In the context of bereavement, these words become ones of threat or promise relating to eternal life understood as life after death, with or without Jesus. The passage is concerned with leaving and loss, as Jesus prepares his friends for his death and glorification. ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’, he says. In John’s context, and ours, hearts are troubled and afraid. Isn’t this true to the human condition, especially as we become more aware of our own mortality and that of those we love? Is there a sense of grasping, a familiar troubled, human, need to hold on to something or someone? When Jesus and Mary meet in the garden (John 20) he engages with Mary’s understandable desire to hold on tight, encouraging her to let go. How do we respond to the conversation involving Jesus, Philip and Thomas? Are we troubled, puzzled, comforted, or something else? For us, how do the words of Jesus address his disciples’ questions?

John’s Gospel begins with the hymn of the Word become flesh, pitching his tent among us (this is the actual meaning of the Greek words that are usually translated, ‘became flesh’). The Word of life: everything that truly matters and matters truly, at once beneath and beyond all things. The word of Life: intimately at one with God and yet intimately at one with us. We live in an individualised, consumer culture, where daily we are invited to desire, own, consume, covet ever more stuff. Is it any surprise that we struggle not to perceive everything in that way, even our faith itself? Has it become another lifestyle accessory that we ‘need’, have or aspire to?

John’s gospel begins with a creative relationship, with God and God’s Word. The Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus, the Word made human, who engages in relationships with the disciples and their situations. Thomas and Philip appear to be squinting off into the distance, as if they were peering off-stage. Jesus invites them to remain, to abide with the eternal in the here and now. He invites us to do the same. It is as if he was saying, “I am intimately related to my Father, here and now. You can be too.”

What is prayer, how do we pray? For what do we pray? If prayer is an expression of acquisitiveness, what would we pray for? If prayer is an expression of mutuality, what then would we pray for? If we enjoy a graceful, just and loving relationship with God, indwelling one another in God in Christ, then what kinds of things will we pray for?

Is Jesus a spiritual acquisition to be held tight? No, rather he is the one who invites us into deepening, growing, indwelling, life together. The Word of Life: the Way, the Truth and the Life, leading to the Father. It is this relationship with God, in Christ, that draws us to love our neighbour; this is equally true irrespective of whether our neighbour is stranger or known, friend or foe, near or far. It is this relationship with God, in Christ, that cries out to us to support the work of the agencies that stand up for the troubled and the fearful across our globe.

Whatever our response to these questions, the central fact is that Jesus embodies an intimate indwelling relationship with the God he calls upon as Father, and invites us and others to participate in his Way, his Truth, and his Life.
Amen.

Prayer

This prayer reflects Christian Aid’s focus on the Climate Emergency

‘There was a time when… the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.’ Martin Luther King Jr.

God of justice and love,
help us listen to our sisters and brothers
who are living with the reality of the climate emergency.

We pray for people who are hungry
because of failed harvests and dry river beds.
For people who are homeless
because of unpredictable and extreme weather,
for people who are struggling to make a living
in ever more challenging circumstances.

We pray alongside people everywhere
who show that another world is possible
through their words and actions.
We stand in solidarity with all those who are suffering.

Give us the strength we need
to play our part in restoring Your world
to act justly and to walk humbly.
May our love for our neighbours,
even for those far from us,
make known our love for You.

In the name of Christ,
Amen

HYMN 465 Be Thou my vision

Benediction

May God bless us with wonder at creation’s glory.
May God bless us with fury at creation’s spoiling.
May God bless us with courage at this critical hour.
And may the blessing of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
rest upon us and on all creation,
this day and for the future to come.
Amen

Acknowledgements:

Christian Aid Scotland Writing collective & Spill the Beans for the prayers, and basis of the reflection. Material published by the Church of Scotland.
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)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.

Sunday 3rd May 2020

Call to Worship (from Psalm 96)
Sing to the Lord, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvellous works among all the peoples.
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised.

HYMN  63    All people that on earth do dwell

Prayer
God of love and wisdom
we gather this day to give you thanks and praise;
we come before you to lift high Your holy name.
As this new day dawns
we once more experience your love
and mercy toward us.
You are our Good Shepherd,
calling us to be Your flock,
and leading us to times of refreshing.

Offering us your wisdom,
you seek only our trust and devotion.
God of love and wisdom,
Your holy name be praised.

Merciful Lord,
at times our lives lead us into places of shadow.
Although You are by our side we turn away;
although your love surrounds us we fear;
although you refresh and renew us
we turn and seek life elsewhere.
Forgive us; restore us; renew us.
Lead us in paths of Your choosing,
giving us hearts that will follow.

silence

Generous God,
we give thanks that You give of yourself for us.

ife-giving God,
we give thanks that you restore us each new day.Embracing God,
we give thanks that you surround us in Your love.
May we turn this day over to Your service;
may we love You and love our neighbour;
may we do this in the name of the Risen Jesus.
Amen

As our Risen Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Lord’s Prayer.

Scriptures:

Psalm 23
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
    he leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
    I 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 goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
    and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
    my whole life long.

John 10:1-10
‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit.  The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice.  He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.  They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’  Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.  All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them.  I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

HYMN 462    The King of love my shepherd is

Reflection

There’s an old saying that, ‘familiarity breeds contempt’.  This refers to our relationships but it could be applied to Bible texts with which we are very familiar.  Today’s readings are examples of this.  For many of us the 23rd Psalm is something that we often associate with funerals, especially when sung to the tune ‘Crimmond’; it’s not something that we immediately associate with living.  In our urban environment we are somewhat estranged from traditional pastoral practices such as shepherding.  Yet in our texts the imagery of sheep and shepherd have something to say to us.

In the times of both the author of the Psalm, and later in the time of Jesus, the role of shepherd was an important one even though it was often cast near the bottom of the social scale.  As well as guiding sheep to safe pasture, he would also have to face up to predators and thieves; any losses would be deducted from the shepherd’s pay.  Sheepfolds were enclosures without a gate, where the shepherd would block the entrance with his own body.  This prevented the sheep escaping under cover of darkness.  The shepherd had to be both strong and resourceful.  It was in this way that Israel also viewed its kings and leaders.  They had to be strong enough to command the respect of both the people and their neighbouring states, and resourceful enough to guide the people through times of both feast and famine.

Sheep have not fared so well in terms of reputation.  Today, as in ancient times, they are viewed as not being the most intelligent of animals.  A minister I know had formerly been a sheep farmer and he would share stories of the exploits of the flock.  From his perspective sheep were not even as intelligent as the stories would credit them!  Yet we are expected, in the imagery of the Bible, to become like sheep.  We are expected to faithfully follow our Shepherd, trusting in his good intentions towards us.

As followers of Jesus, we are expected to fulfil not only the role of sheep but that of shepherd too.  We are called to follow faithfully showing both trust and allegiance to our Shepherd, Jesus.  Yet we are also called to set an example leading in the ways of Jesus; we are called to be shepherds.  So how do we live as both follower and leader?  We follow by seeking after our Lord in prayer; seeking him in the scriptures of the Bible; sharing in fellowship with others who follow Him; finally, we are to live our lives following his example.  We are to lead, too, in a similar manner.  We are to let His life live in us to the extent that we become examples that others would want to emulate; this isn’t to seek praise for ourselves but for Him.

In this, the second month of lockdown in our country, we need to learn to be both sheep and shepherd.  We need to learn to follow God’s wisdom that will guide us as we live for the good of all, both near and far.  We need to learn to lead, setting an example of what it means to love our neighbour as ourselves.  During the First World War there was the famous poster with the proclamation, ‘Your Country Needs you’.  Today our world needs you, not to fight in the trenches but to be both sheep and shepherd.

Prayers of thanksgiving and intercession

Lord, our Shepherd, we come to You in need;
our world, our communities, and ourselves stand before You.

We pray for our world.
In a time of disease, wars and conflicts continue;
in a time of fear, hunger touches millions.
You call your people to be both sheep and shepherd;
guide and inspire us that we may reach out,
that we may reach out in mercy;
that we may reach out in love;
that we may reach out in grace,
that our world may know healing,
healing that comes only from You.

silence

We pray for our communities.
In a time of lockdown, many are lonely;
In a time of challenge, many struggle.You call your people to be both sheep and shepherd;
guide and inspire us that we may reach out,
that we may reach out in compassion,
that we may reach out in peace,
that we may reach out in hope,
that our communities may know unity,
unity that comes only from You.

silence

We pray for ourselves.
In a time of change, we feel overwhelmed;
in a time of uncertainty, we feel frightened.
You call each of us to be both sheep and shepherd;
guide us and inspire us we pray.
Guide each of us that we may follow You more closely;
guide each of us that we may love You more dearly;
guide each of us that we may see You more clearly,
that we may feel Your loving presence,
and walk in Your ways all of our days.
Amen.

HYMN  644    O Jesus, I have promised!

Benediction

May we know the power of the Christ,
risen victorious over all evil.May we know the love of the Christ,
driving out all fear.
May we know the life of the Christ,
bringing eternity to each day.
Amen.

Acknowledgements/Copyright Information
Scripture readings courtesy of:
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
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.

Sunday 26th April 2020

How to use this order of service:
This service makes use of pre-recorded materials enabling you to make use of it at whatever time of day, and at whatever pace, suits you. Don’t immediately print it off, rather keep it on your screen so that you may access the hymns at the click of a mouse. When you click on any of the links you’ll be taken to the appropriate video on Youtube; once you are there simply press play. You are then free to listen or join in as you see fit. After each video ends simply switch back to the order of service and pick up where you left off.

Call to Worship (Psalm 116: 1-2)
I love the Lord, because he has heard
my voice and my supplications.
Because he inclined his ear to me,
therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

HYMN 124 Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation

Prayer
Lord, we gather this day to praise your holy name.
With heart and mind and mouth,
we give thanks for you are our God.
We give thanks because you are no stranger
but a companion on the journey of life.
You stand not distant
but circling us with your love.
So we praise you this day,
and bless your holy name.

We bless you
that you are patient with us.
As we rush around
you are still and at our side.
Even as we are too busy for you
you wait as close as a heartbeat.
When we cling fast to ourselves
you embrace us in the loving arms of Jesus.
So today we call upon your mercy.

[silent prayer]

God of power and might
Transform us we pray.
Give us peace in our hearts.
Give us patience in our minds.
Make us anew each day.

Take us in this moment
and accept our prayers;
accept our thoughts;
accept out worship.
In the name of the Risen Jesus.
Amen.

As our Risen Saviour taught us, so we pray:
Lord’s Prayer.

Scriptures:
Acts 2:14a, 36-41

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them:

Therefore let the entire house of Israel know with certainty that God has made him both Lord and Messiah, this Jesus whom you crucified.’

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and to the other apostles, ‘Brothers, what should we do?’ Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to him.’ And he testified with many other arguments and exhorted them, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’ So those who welcomed his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand persons were added.

Luke 24:13-35
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’ He asked them, ‘What things?’ They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’ Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’ That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, ‘The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

HYMN 562 Through the love of God, our Saviour

Reflection

One more step
Do you ever find that the journey of faith can feel like a walk along a rocky road? In the readings for this Sunday we encounter two groups of people for whom this was, in differing ways, true.

In our reading from Acts Peter cuts straight to the point, telling his audience that the reason for their troubles was that none of them had recognised what God had been doing for them and the wider world. He tells them that they had been oblivious to the true nature and role of Jesus. Although rather blunt, he makes his point and it is understood; we see that in the response the gathered group make. They want to know how to respond to the challenge they have just received; they want to know what they can do. Peter gives them two steps – repent, and be baptised. To our ears these may sound like strange replies, after all what does it mean to ‘repent’? If we were, like many, baptised as an infant then what do we do about the latter of Peter’s two demands? Hold on to your answers and thoughts for a few moments, and we’ll return to them.

The second group of people who were finding life difficult were the two who were journeying along the road to Emmaus. The clue to their hurt is the phrase, ‘we had hoped’. They were despondent because their hope and dreams had been shattered; their belief that Jesus would restore the rule of God and free his people had been snuffed out; even Jesus, himself, had been executed by the state authorities. Like many in the scriptures and, indeed, many of us they had seen their life’s hopes disappear before their eyes. It’s hard to imagine the hurt and confusion they felt, nor the unanswered questions that they had. Today there are many of us who hurt, and many who have profound questions about life. But what about us?

Repent and be baptised! Peter, as always, charges straight on in; there are no subtleties or gentle hints with him. Repent means to turn around our path of life; it means to turn from one way of living life, and to move in a very different direction. In this case it means to move from living life as we would choose and to live as God would require. Baptism is a sign of commitment to that path; it’s a proclamation of allegiance, of faith, in the one who demands the change. It’s blunt and to the point; it’s right; it’s Peter.

Often, though, a slower and gentler approach to hurt is the right way. On the Emmaus road Jesus doesn’t cut straight in as Peter would; rather, he allows the two disciples to share their troubles, and to explore what it means. He allows them time to be, and to move from a direction focussed on pain to one where healing is the goal. It is only when they are ready to be healed that Jesus reveals his risen self to them.

God’s ways are often not our ways, and this is something we see in the two approaches to the two groups. Usually our default position is to take the Peter approach when often the better one is to follow the path taken by Jesus. By following his gentler, slower, approach we could become agents of healing in our communities, whether they be households, families, or neighbourhoods. It means taking the time to hear folks’ stories, allowing them to explore their hurt or pain, and enabling them to begin to move toward healing and answers. It means not following the path that’s easier, like Peter offering immediate answers, but the harder path of Jesus. It means following the path of mercy, grace, and compassion. It means taking things one step at a time.

Amen.

Prayers of thanksgiving and intercession

Lord Jesus,
when things happen that we find hard to deal with
when our head goes down
and our eyes see no further than our own feet,
help us to be honest with You
even if it’s through tears
or rage
and ride the storm with us.
Help us to trust You’re there
even when we cannot see or feel You close
then gently tilt our faces to look into Yours
to find there
limitless compassion
endless understanding and patience
and the courage we need to begin again.

We bring to You those who carry forever in their hearts,
the pain of losing a child…
we bring to you those who have coped with the suicide of a loved one….
and all those who mourn…
we bring to you all those who struggle with ill-health,
especially at this time those who live in fear of infection ….
we bring to you all those who enable daily life to carry on ….
speak into each life, we pray,
to bring strength and courage
and to re-kindle the flame of hope….

As the Psalmist has said:
I will lift up the cup of salvation
and call on the name of the Lord,
I will pay my vows to the Lord
in the presence of all his people.
O Lord, I am your servant;
I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice
and call on the name of the Lord.
In the courts of your presence,
I will Praise the Lord!
Amen.

HYMN 192 All my hope on God is founded

Blessing:

Go now knowing God goes with you
Go to find God in surprising places
At surprising times
Go to journey together with all God’s people
And to discover the plans God has for you
And for this world.
The Blessing of our ever-present God
the ever-living Son
the ever-active Holy Spirit
descend upon You
and remain with You
now and always.
Amen.

Acknowledgements/Copyright Information
Scripture readings courtesy of:
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
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.

Closing Prayer & Blessing
Developed from words written by former Moderator to the General Assembly, the Very Rev Susan Brown, Minister of Dornoch Cathedral. Published by the Church of Scotland.

Life & Work: Free Download

During this challenging period, Life and Work is committed to helping keep the Christian community connected. The magazine is printing as normal, but they are aware that many subscribers will have their deliveries delayed, especially if they normally receive it through their church.

Please click the cover image below to download a complimentary copy of the May 2020 edition from the Life & Work website.

Sunday 19th April 2020

How to use this order of service:
This service makes use of pre-recorded materials enabling you to make use of it at whatever time of day, and at whatever pace, suits you. Don’t immediately print it off, rather keep it on your screen so that you may access the hymns at the click of a mouse. When you click on any of the links you’ll be taken to the appropriate video on Youtube; once you are there simply press play. You are then free to listen or join in as you see fit. After each video ends simply switch back to the order of service and pick up where you left off.

Call to Worship (from Psalm 113)
Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time on and for evermore.
From the rising of the sun to its setting
the name of the Lord is to be praised.

HYMN 459 Crown him with many crowns

Prayers of approach and confession

Let us pray:

Glorious God of all,
You are the giver of new life,
You are the one to whom we owe each breath,
You are the reason for our hope.
Send your enlivening spirit, be present with us as we come close to You,
seeking Your light to see what has been revealed
seeking Your warmth to set hearts aglow with Your love
seeking Your truth, that we might trust.
As we proclaim the Easter gospel, that in You is life which conquers death, make us anew Your beloved children.

Merciful God,
We confess that too often we have lived lives of those not worthy to be called Your children.
Though You are light, we have preferred to lurk in shadow,
though You are truth, we have made idols of lies and falsehood,
though You are love, we have been hard of heart.
Too often You show us the Way, and we have wandered far off course.
We turn to You with repentant hearts, and seek Your forgiveness.
We lay claim to your promise, and pray that You will transform us, re-make us, that we will live as Your children, and by word, thought and deed, we might lead lives worthy of subjects within Your kingdom of love, peace and mercy.
Amen

Lord’s Prayer

Scriptures

I Peter 1: 3-9
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, for you are receiving the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

John 20: 19-31

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

Jesus and Thomas

But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’

A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’

The Purpose of This Book

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

HYMN 596 Breathe of me, breath of God

Reflection

Behind closed doors

Behind closed doors; that’s where we find the disciples today as we continue to reflect upon the events around the resurrection of Jesus. Behind closed doors out of fear of the populace and the authorities. Yet one is missing; Thomas is not there. We do not know where he was or what he was doing, and so he misses the appearance of the risen Jesus. His absence, and his response on hearing the news from his brethren, leads to how we generally think of him. Thomas is forever remembered as the ‘doubter’. He sought evidence for what he was told but had not seen, and for that he gets a bad name yet the others had seen; the others had evidence.

The reputation gained by Thomas isn’t really fair. He was no worse than the others. After all, Peter could open his mouth and put both feet in it (think of the three denials of Jesus) whereas brothers James and John could probably start a fight in an empty room (they jostled for the best positions in the coming kingdom). Don’t forget, either, that Judas was a disciple too.

But let’s stand back from the reputation of Thomas for a moment, and look and the context. The disciples were in hiding; if they had gone out they could have been arrested, flogged, beaten, and possibly executed. Hiding was the wise thing to do. Staying behind closed doors offered them safety. It must have been hard for them. Having spent at least three years out on the road with Jesus travelling the land and encountering so many people their current isolation must have been hard. They would, however, have needed to eat so someone would have had to go out for provisions. Although, culturally, that would have been a woman’s role perhaps, on this occasion, Thomas had picked up the task. To go out in twos or threes would have increased the chance of their being recognised, and facing the dire consequences. It was safer for all for just one to go.

We naturally consider the disciples’ hiding to be a bad thing, but is that necessarily the case? It was, after all, in hiding that the risen Jesus came to them. Their moment of awakening as they realise the resurrection is real takes place behind closed doors. It doesn’t take place in the noise and tumult of the market place or street or playground but in the effectual solitude of the locked room.

Today many of us are, like the disciples, in behind closed doors. Like the disciples we may be experiencing fear however unlike them it is not of persecution but due to the current circumstances. For safety we cannot all go out at once but one of us could go out to get provisions. But might we allow the restrictions placed upon us free us for something else? I do not mean being freed up to replace one activity with another but freeing us to be present and available to God. What if, as our daily patterns and practices are changed, we allow ourselves space to encounter God and to have our own epiphanies; what if we have our own encounters with the risen Christ?

Behind closed doors the disciples encounter the risen Christ; perhaps, behind our closed doors, we too may encounter him.

Amen.

Prayers of thanksgiving and intercession

Let us pray:
God of bountiful blessing,
we thank You for the promise of Jesus Christ,
who is the Life by which we live,
and the perfection of Your holy glory.
We thank You for the faith to believe that which we have not seen,
and for Your mercy upon us as we clumsily grasp the significance of Your love.
We thank You for Your sustaining strength as we try to lead lives which reflect Your glory,
and for Your ever-present Spirit as our guide, helper and advocate.
With thankful hearts we give You praise.
We offer our prayers for those whom we trust will be fed by Your goodness:
who will be nourished by Your presence.

We pray for all people around the world in fear of such violence:
acts of war and destruction committed in the midst of peaceful civilian lives.

Where terror has a grip, where violence dominates,
Lord, bring justice, bring peace.

We pray for those who know the harshness of natural disaster;
where lives are lost in unpredictable catastrophe.
Where floods ruin crops, where there will be no bountiful harvest this year;
we pray for generosity and provision for all Your people.

We pray for those who are of poor health.
We pray for those known to us, where poor health prevents full living;
where pain is a daily reality; where frailty causes bodies to falter.
Lord, give healing, give comfort, give perseverance.

We pray for those who mourn:
those who mourn lives that have been lost;
long lives well lived, which have come to an end;
and lives which had still much promise and feel to us to have ended far, far too soon.
We trust each life to You, saving God,
and we trust that each soul finds its home in Your eternal love;
but for those who mourn, who know any loss;
give comfort, give reassurance,
give Your gentle presence in the lives of us still living.

We pray for all those growing:
for young people who so often are at the heart of a story of faith that we can overlook.
We trust them to Your nurturing, and we pray that all those involved in the lives of young people and children
will empower them to flourish today and tomorrow.

We lift all of these things to You now
Offering the prayers of our own hearts; trusting them to You now
in a moment of quietness

[PAUSE for silent prayer]

In all our prayers, we pray trusting in Your sure and certain promise,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen

HYMN 465 Be Thou My Vision

Benediction

Behind closed doors
Jesus is waiting.
Behind closed doors
Jesus is calling.
Do not be afraid,
Jesus is with you.
Amen.

Copyright Information
Church of Scotland for Prayers from ‘Weekly Worship’Scripture readings courtesy of:
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
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.

EASTER DAY 2020 SERVICE

How to use this order of service:
This service makes use of pre-recorded materials enabling you to make use of it at whatever time of day, and at whatever pace, suits you. Don’t immediately print it off, rather keep it on your screen so that you may access the hymns at the click of a mouse. When you click on any of the links you’ll be taken to the appropriate video on Youtube; once you are there simply press play. You are then free to listen or join in as you see fit. After each video ends simply switch back to the order of service and pick up where you left off.

Call to worship
Surprising events.
He is not here!
The stone has been rolled.
He is not here!
The tomb, it lies empty.
He is not here!
The women have told us.
He is not here!
Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed!

HYMN 413 Jesus Christ is risen today, alleluia!

Opening Prayer

Let us pray:

God of grace,
we come before you in difficult times
when we should be rejoicing.
We turn to you, seeking your help, that we may praise you.
Help us turn from Good Friday images of Christ on the Crossto those of the empty tomb, and resurrection.
Show us how to turn from the troubles of this world
to fix our hearts and minds upon you.
Let us see Christ, seated at your right hand
That we may rejoice this Easter Day.
God of truth,
Remind us of Scripture, and the truth it contains.
Help us to see you in their promises.
Help us join with them in praising you.
In them may we find our future,
born in your love for us,
and made complete in the victory of Jesus over the grave.
Merciful God,
You see us not as we were or are, but as we may be.
When we stray, guide us on your paths.
When we forget, remind us of your love.
When we turn away, call us back by your love.
God of love, assure us of your care,
assure us of your presence.
Listening God,
today take our words and our song,
take our thoughts and our actions,
take our fears and our hopes,
and remake them in your love
that in your love we may be renewed.
This prayer we bring, in the name of the risen Jesus.
Amen.

Lord’s Prayer

Scriptures

Acts 10: 34-43

Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all. That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to
appear, not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins
through his name.’

John 20: 1-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and
believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

HYMN 417 Now the green blade riseth

A reflection for Easter Day 2020.

Numbers, numbers, everywhere, but where may hope be found?
This may be the strangest Easter service with which we have ever been involved. It’s strange because circumstances mean that we are not worshipping together but scattered in time and place. It’s Easter, a time of celebration and joy, a time of relaxation and holiday; well, usually it is. This year Easter is a time of anxiety, a time of fear, a time of confusion. In some ways that is also true of the first Easter! Despite the teaching of Jesus, the disciples had not understood what was going on. It was now three days since their beloved leader had been brutally killed. Now, the women of the group had reported that the tomb was empty. Understandably the disciples were anxious, fearful, and confused.

Today our lives are dominated by numbers. We are forever recorded and measured. Numbers show our age, our potential lifespan, our health. Numbers show our productivity, our perceived usefulness, and our value. This Easter numbers show us the estimated figures of those infected, seriously ill, or who have lost their lives due to COVID-19. Today, it seems, numbers serve only to bring us down. But could numbers lift us up?
In our reading from Acts chapter 10, Peter stated clearly that Jesus rose from death on the third day. That number would have resonated with his original hearers. It was on the third day of his journey that Abraham prepared to sacrifice his Isaac, his son. It was on the third day that Moses began to ascend mount Sinai to meet face to face with God and receive the
commandments. To the original hearers of the story of Jesus the number three would have meant promises of new life, life from death, and encounter with God. Is this what theGospel was trying to share – a message of new life, and meeting with the ultimate reality that is God?

When we read from John’s Gospel, and the 20 th chapter, we learn that Mary journeyed to the tomb of Jesus, doing so early on the first day of the week. This is no incidental reference to what we now call Sunday, rather this was a deliberate pointer to another truth. It was a pointer to light. Again, returning to the original hearers, reference to the first day would
have drawn their imaginations to the story of creation. It was on the first day of creation that, as the book of Genesis says, “darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, ‘let there be light; and there was light’.” The first day – light out of darkness – hope – potential – life.

Numbers in Biblical texts are often significant. The numbers before us today in our Easter readings offer us something to enable us to look up and forward. They offer us promise and gift. The disciples, anxious, fearful, and confused, were able to build on these meanings and be transformed. In faith, trust, they grew to become people who were able to reach out across their world with a transformative message of hope. The events of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus caused them to re-evaluate their understanding of life; the events led to them finding new meaning; the events led them to have new values. Could the events of now cause us to do the same? Could we draw on the challenges of the current crisis and re-
evaluate our own lives and practices?

The disciples, and after them the early church, reached out with the offer of new life, light, and encounter with God. Today, are these not things that we, too, also need?

Amen.

Prayers for the World


Let us pray.

Holy God,
in your love we know ourselves to be truly blessed.
The beauty of creation calls out to us:
through the complexity of life;in the rhythms and patterns of nature
we see your hand at work;
in the brilliance of colour,
in the songs and calls of living creatures,
and the beauty and fragility of flowers,
we see signs of your wonder
and give you thanks.
We pray for your church throughout the world:
may the body of the risen Christ reflect his humility;
may it be a place of compassion and hope.
God of mercy,
we bring to You
the suffering of the world.
We think of those broken by life events:
by hardships, illness, selfishness or abuse.
Especially we pray for those who are anxious or grieving
at this difficult time.
We pray for all who work in caring professions:
for those who seek to heal
the sicknesses of body, mind or spirit.
In this time of crisis we particularly call to mind
all who work in the NHS.
We remember, too, the other emergency services,
and all who work to care in homes and houses
across our land.
Bless our country,our Queen, and her ministers,
political leaders at Westminster and Holyrood;
guide all who shape our common life.
Guide especially, those whose role is to guide us
through this current crisis.
God of Eternity,
surrounded by that great cloud of witnesses,
we give thanks for our loved ones departed,
mindful that Your Church is one,
for this life and always.
These prayers we offer in Jesus’ Name.
Amen.

HYMN 419 Thine be the glory

Sending Out

Mary told Peter,
Jesus is alive!
Peter told the disciples
Jesus is alive!
The disciples told their families
Jesus is alive!
We can tell our families,
we can tell our neighbours
Jesus is alive!
It’s Easter morning,
Jesus is with us.
Jesus is alive!

Copyright Information
Spill the Beans’ for Call to Worship, and Sending Out
Rev’d. Scott McKenna – provided the basis for the prayers of intercession
Scripture readings courtesy of:
New Revised Standard Version, Anglicised (NRSVA)
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.

SUSPENSION OF CHURCH SERVICES.

We are sorry that all church services and hall activities are currently suspended. We are complying with Government advice, to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

We will resume services as soon as it is safe to do so. In the meantime, if you need a minister, please contact the Rev Alex McAspurren on 0131 667 1623. You can contact the hall-keeper on 07766 888 644.

Information on other activities will be updated in due course.

New Minister

We are delighted to welcome the Rev Alex McAspurren as the minister of the linked charge of Craigmillar Park and Reid Memorial, following his induction on 11 June 2019.

Mr McAspurren was ordained in 2002 and has served in parishes in Edinburgh, Stevenston and Corby. He has a qualification in substance misuse management and a long-standing interest in homelessness and addiction issues. He has been involved with Street Pastors and with local foodbanks, is a member of the Church of Scotland’s Society, Religion and Technology Project, is a recognised mentor for people exploring their call to ministry and is an occasional radio and television broadcaster on faith issues. We are very much looking forward to working with Mr McAspurren and with our friends in Reid Memorial and Priestfield Churches on developing a mission project for this part of Edinburgh.

There is much to be done and we face the future with faith and gratitude that God has shown us a way forward.

Mr McAspurren will lead worship in both congregations every Sunday, at 9.45 in Craigmillar Park and at 11.15 in Reid Memorial. Visitors are always made most welcome.