Call to Prayer Sunday 6th September 2020

CALL TO PRAYER: SUNDAY 6th September 2020 Prayer @ 7pm Print version

We live in a time in which we have had to adjust to restrictions in the manner in which we gather as the people of God. The restrictions, for good reasons, have necessarily limited the numbers of those who can gather together for prayer and worship. This has presented many challenges and the challenges are ongoing.

The limitation on the numbers who are able to gather might, at times, give the sense that our gatherings, whether virtual or actual, are in some way diminished. If so, the words of the Gospel of Matthew encourage us to think along a different path. Jesus says: ‘For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them’. (Matthew 18: 20) Wherever we gather and however we gather; whether together or in our own company, Jesus is present and he will never leave us or forsake us. We are not alone. We pray:

Living God,
You gather us together
From across the face of the earth,
That we might worship your holy Name Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
We gather together in strange times,
Whether virtually or actually,
And ask that you will accept our worship of your holy Name. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
You gather us together
In the company of those who have gone before us.
Hold us safe in your keeping and watch over us as the people of God.

Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Living God,
We come in the assurance
That, where we gather in the name of Jesus, He is there among us.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
Whether we gather in twos or in threes,
Or whether we come to you in our own company, Never leave us or forsake us.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
We come, in the company of all your people,
And together we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, To the glory of God the Father.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Signed by:

  • Rt. Rev. Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
  • Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
  • Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • Rev. John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
  • Rev. Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
  • Rev. Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
  • Lt. Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
  • Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • Rev. Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
  • Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, RedeemedChristian Church of God
  • Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic ChurchesTogether in Scotland (MECTIS)
  • Rev Fred Drummond, Director, Evangelical Alliance (Scotland)

Holiday musings 30th August 2020

Musings from the Manse

I was chatting with a friend recently about just how different things are at present. Covid-19 has certainly made us stop and think. Who could have imagined the events of the last few months? In fact, I sometimes wonder if I am in the middle of some strange dream (nightmare?) and I will wake up and find that life is as it was before we even heard of Coronavirus.

However, that is wishful thinking and the reality is that we have to live with this virus and the restrictions it brings to our lives. It is not all bad – there have been many new skills learned and many new opportunities have been opened up for us. Perhaps we have had a little more time to reflect on life and made some decisions about the future. I think it is important that we all look at what has changed and decide what is important to keep – and to lose! The Church Councils, across the circuit, will certainly be looking at this in the context of Church as we go forward.

As we all do that, perhaps our two Scripture passages for this week (Romans Ch 12 vs 9-21 and Matthew Ch 16 vs 21-28) will help to focus our minds. For both spell out for us what should be important in our lives as Christians. By concentrating on what is worthwhile and losing what is not then we will become much more effective disciples of Christ. If at the end of this Covid-19 time in our lives we have studied the word of God more closely and realigned our lives with it then we certainly will have triumphed in adversity!

Let’s take a closer look at the passages. The Matthew passage follows on from last week’s when we heard Peter making the impassioned claim about Jesus “You are the Messiah, the son of the living God.” However, this week we read that when Jesus talks about his upcoming suffering and death, Peter protests and won’t accept it. What has brought about this change?

Well, although Peter and the other disciples had grasped the fact that Jesus was the Messiah, they were still thinking along the lines of an all-conquering Messiah. The thought of a Messiah who must suffer at the hands of others and die on a Cross was just incredible. The Messiah was a triumphant figure not a suffering one!

Before we judge Peter, let’s ask ourselves how we too might try to make Jesus conform to our image of him. How often we convince ourselves that he isn’t really asking us to do this or follow that particular path? However, if we read the Scripture we cannot escape. For he says “If you want to be my followers, then you must take up your Cross and follow me.” In other words, if you want to call yourself Christian then you must be willing to put aside your own wishes and follow God’s. It won’t always be easy, but it will be rewarding.

If we turn to Romans and look at what Paul calls “the marks of a true Christian” we can see that it will be difficult to achieve. Take time to read through them again. They are rules for everyday living and how we interact with other human beings. Or if you like, Christian behaviour. It is easy to read these guidelines on paper but much more difficult to live by them day in, day out! Mind you the world would be a better place if this kind of behaviour was exhibited more.

I was struck this week by two very separate happenings in the world. One was terribly sad. The death of an asylum seeker and the near starvation of her baby. How could that happen here in Scotland? What kind of society allows that? Paul’s rule of “extend hospitality to strangers” certainly wasn’t in operation here.

The second event was the sentencing in New Zealand of the gunman who caused carnage outside a mosque. As the relatives of victims gave testimony I was moved when one woman offered forgiveness. Paul said “do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.”  My friends how noble it was to offer forgiveness, how difficult it must have been.

Another relative reminded the prisoner that there would be a time of judgement. Not here by a judge or anyone else but judgement will come from God. That is quite a sobering thought! Before we get too carried away by feelings of righteousness, we too should remember that.

Jesus doesn’t force any of us to follow Him. He says “If you want to follow me.” It is your choice but if you make the choice you must be committed to following what Jesus asks of you. You must be prepared to put His ways at the forefront of your life and allow your own wishes to sink into the background. It is not easy – but then, what Jesus did for us was certainly not easy. He certainly was a suffering Messiah – he suffered unto death for us.

We started off by talking about the time for reflection afforded by this Covid restricted life and how we may have been making some decisions about our future. I would like to end this Reflection with some words by the great German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was hanged by the Nazis because of his Christian stance against them. This is taken from his book “The Cost of Discipleship.”

‘And if we answer the call to discipleship, where will it lead us? What decisions and partings will it demand? To answer this question we shall have to go to him, for only he knows the answer. Only Jesus Christ, who bids us follow him, knows the journey’s end. But we do know that it will be a road of boundless mercy. Discipleship means joy’.


Discipleship means joy —- it’s hard work, that’s for sure, but it brings a lasting joy. When we come back together again, let us renew our joy in the service of Jesus the Messiah. Let us be Church in renewed and joyful service! Take time now to consider how you can better serve the world in His name! Take time now to read his word in Scripture!

Prayer

Loving Father we have read the scriptures and we would respond
Send your Holy Spirit amongst us for we would commit to follow Jesus
Open our minds and our hearts to His truth;
Enliven our imagination to His presence;
Increase our gratitude for His living, dying, rising;
And strengthen us in our commitment
That we walk in step with Him, our Lord and Saviour

We do ask for your forgiveness, Lord when our lives are guided by desires other than to do your will
Forgive us when we ignore you, and lift ourselves high in pride of place
Forgive us when we care little for you, but care greatly for ourselves at the expense of care for others
Forgive us, and help us to know that if we are truly sorry for sin, we are freed and forgiven, and given a chance to begin again

Lord of all human life we bring to you our prayers for the Church and the world
Bless your church both here in Scotland and all around the world
Give it renewed hunger to be doing your will
A strengthened courage in a world that is often hostile
A deeper sense of commitment to your Word
And a desire to follow in the steps of Christ

Bless your world – a world very troubled at present
Deliver it and all its peoples from the destruction of violence
From the consequences of natural disaster and unusual weather
From the ravages of war and misuse of power
From the pain of hunger and thirst and poverty.
Give your wisdom to the leaders of countries and bring your peace to their hearts.

Bless our country and bring your love to bear in it
So that all might feel loved and accepted
Increase its sense of hospitality that all groups like asylum seekers might be offered hospitality
We pray that the Word of God might be spread far and wide and that people commit to your loving ways

Bless us, O Lord, with such an overflowing of your love that we long to share with others and strive to become your people and do your will

Amen

Rev Nik Wooller

30th August 2020

Call to Prayer Sunday 30th August 2020

Prayer @ 7pm Print version

‘Here I am’. In these simple words, we hear a presence revealed and an identity disclosed. When we hear these words spoken by someone that we know, we know that the intention behind them is that they will inform us that another human presence is with us. In saying these words, the speaker knows that we will recognise their identity because their identity is known to us. Nothing else needs to be said. There is, we might say, a communion shared between the person who speaks and the person who hears.

In the Book of Exodus, it is the living presence of the Lord who is revealed and whose identity is disclosed to Moses. The revelation and disclosure takes place on ‘holy ground’ as Lord speaks out of the bush that burns but which is not consumed. Moses does not yet recognise the identity of the One who speaks and the divine name of Lord is not yet fully disclosed. Moses asks that he might know the identity of the One who speaks to him. In response, the Lord says: ‘I AM WHO I AM’. (Exodus 3: 1-15) The presence of the Lord is revealed to us in the depths of the human heart as the Lord speaks to us. There is, we might say, a communion shared between the One who speaks and the person who hears. We pray:

Living God,
Speak to us that we might sense your presence
And know your Name this day.
Speak into the depths of our lives
Out of the depth of your life divine.
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Living God,
Reveal your Name to us
As you revealed your Name in ages past.
Reveal your Name to us
For we long to know you that you are with us now.
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Living God,
You have made yourself known to us
And invited us to share in your life.
May we share our lives with others
And know them as our family and our friends.
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Living God,
As we share in the life of the world
May we better hear the voices of those around us.
As we hear their voices
May we better know the depths of who they are.
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Living God,
You make known to us your identity
In the communion of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
May we hear you speak, in the place where we are,
That we might share in living communion with you this day.
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Signed by:

  • Rt. Rev. Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
    Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
    Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
    Rev. John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
    Rev. Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
    Rev. Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
    Rev. Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
    Rev. May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
    Lt. Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
    Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
    Rev. Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
    Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed Christian Church of God
    Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)
    Rev Fred Drummond, Director, Evangelical Alliance (Scotland)

Holiday Musings

Holiday Musings

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Our passage for today (Matthew Ch 16 vs 13-20) is a short one but a very telling one. It challenges us to clarify our own thinking about Jesus.
Jesus had been in the area around Nazareth and had been healing, teaching and performing miracles. As he moved on to yet another location (Caesarea Philippi) he asked his disciples a question “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

What prompted Jesus to ask this question, you may ask. Now you may think that Jesus was looking for some reassurance or trying to gauge his popularity amongst the general public; a bit like politicians seeking election! However, that was not the case. Jesus knew exactly who he was and what was the mission that lay before him. He knew full well that the general public were puzzled about him. He knew that he divided opinion. That question was just the lead-up to a much more important question!

That question was “But who do you say that I am?” It infers that Jesus understood that people, in general, were a bit unsure but he expected his closest followers to have a much more defined knowledge of who he was. After all they had been with him for three years, receiving teaching directly from him, watching him heal and perform miracles. So now he challenges them directly; now is the point of no return, there is no hiding place!

Before we go on to think about the answer that came, let’s pause and think about that question. The circumstances in which it was asked are very relevant to this modern day. Nowadays, people, in general, would also appear to be confused about this man Jesus. Some dismiss him, some have an inkling that he was special in some way, some probably have a desire to know more about him. However, for those who call themselves Christians and have confessed a faith in Him there should be no hesitation

I would be delighted if I thought that might be the case. Sadly, I don’t, because even amongst those who do call themselves Christians there is a degree of confusion. The problem is that some only know what they have been taught about Jesus. However, it is never enough to know about Jesus, you must know Jesus for yourself. The question Jesus asks is “You, what do you think of me”

That is what makes him relevant to this day and challenging to each one of us personally. We really should be answering that question for ourselves.
Indeed, it is crucial that we answer that question for ourselves because it impacts on our whole life. Our actions, our thoughts, our very being will be affected by our understanding of this man Jesus.

So let us return to the passage. After Jesus asks the question, the first to answer – surprise, surprise – is Simon Peter! His answer could not be clearer “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” In some versions of the Bible it will have “You are the Christ” but don’t worry about that, Christ and Messiah are the same, they both mean the Anointed One. Jesus must have been relieved at that answer because it meant that three years of teaching have borne fruit. At least one of his disciples have some understanding of him. That was important in light of the work that would need to be done in the future.

So pleased is Jesus with this answer that he tells Simon Peter that he will build his church on him. In other words, Peter will be the first in the fellowship of believers. When we read church in this passage, please don’t think about a building or even a national church like the Methodist Church. Think of the fellowship of believers worldwide. Peter was the first man to make that leap of faith to understand Jesus as the Son of the Living God. He was the first member of the fellowship of believers. The fellowship of all who believe in Jesus Christ as the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

What follows in the passage seems difficult to understand but perhaps we can paraphrase it by saying “once you make this personal discovery about me then you have unlocked a great secret. However, you have a responsibility to help others to come to the same conclusion. It won’t always be easy because there will be evil forces who will try to stop you. Don’t worry about them because they will not prevail against you.”

Each person who has the privilege of a personal relationship with Jesus, the Messiah, the son of the Living God, also has a responsibility for helping others to make that same discovery. We need to share our good News and we need to walk alongside others and point them in the right direction. However, we can’t make the discovery for them; each person must make it for themselves!

Next week we will go on to consider what challenges will come our way if we commit ourselves to follow Jesus the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.

Prayer

Lord as we continue our journey through this time of pandemic many questions fill our minds;
We wonder when it will all come to an end,
We think about what we must do to stay safe,

We ask ourselves if our family and friends are staying safe, We ponder if a vaccine will be available soon,
We have so many questions, Lord, and not so many answers. But You, Lord, have a question for us.

Who do we say that you are?
Lord, we pray that we can answer that question with strong statement of belief
‘You, Lord, are the Messiah – the Son of the living God!’
For this is the basis of our faith;
We believe that you are the Messiah who came to bring salvation to all who would believe in you.
Lord, help us to strengthen that belief and to share it with others and send your Holy Spirit to equip us for the task.
Holy Spirt, guide us for we would follow Jesus
Open our mind and heart to His truth
Enliven our imagination with His presence.
Increase our gratitude for His living, dying, rising
And strengthen us in our commitment, we pray.
It is in that commitment to the love shown by our Saviour that we pray for others today.
We pray for our communities that they may continue to show kindness and care to all but especially to those who are struggling in this time of Covid-19
We pray for our schools as they settle into the new term and pray that you protect all children and staff.
We pray for all members of our Church family and especially those who are unwell, sorrowing or anxious at this time.
We think on our country and its leaders and pray for your wisdom to be the basis of their decision making.
Lord give to all a spirit of mutual service and help us always to walk in your footsteps of love

We ask all this through Jesus our Messiah.
Amen

Rev Nik Wooller

23rd August 2020

Call to Prayer Sunday 23rd August 2020

CALL TO PRAYER: SUNDAY 23rd August 2020 Prayer @ 7pm Print version

How well do we respond to a challenge? The answer we give will, no doubt, depend on many different factors. Whatever our answer, we know that our response is strengthened when it is made in the company of others.

Our response to the challenge of living out our calling as a member of the body of Christ is one that depends, in principle, on our response being a shared one. Living out our calling, in response to the mercy of God, lies at the heart of what it is to worship. Within the body of Christ, we have shared gifts and a shared identity. (Romans 12: 1-8) At the same time, living out that calling in these strange and challenging times is by no means easy. We do so in the assurance that we are not alone and acknowledging our continuing dependence on the mercy of God. We pray:

Living God, whose name is mercy,
We acknowledge that we live in dependence on your mercy.
Hold us, and all whom you call,
In your gentle keeping.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God, through whom we receive mercy,
We respond to your gracious gift
And offer our lives into your service and the service of others.
Accept us as we are and embrace us in your love.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God, as the one who inspires mercy,
Make us ever merciful to others.
As we respond to the challenge of these times,
May we live out our calling ever conscious of the body of Christ.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God, who wills to be merciful to all,
Renew our calling to worship you.
In the place where we are, whether in shared company or in our own company,
Receive our worship through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God, whose name is mercy,
May your name be known throughout the world.
As those who have received mercy,
May your name be known in the place where we are.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Signed by:

  • Rt. Rev. Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
  • Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
  • Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • Rev. John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
  • Rev. Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
  • Rev. Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
  • Lt. Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
  • Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • Rev. Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
  • Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed Christian Church of God
  • Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)
  • Rev Fred Drummond, Director, Evangelical Alliance (Scotland)

Call to Prayer Sunday 17th August 2020

Prayer @ 7pm Print version
Occasionally, when we purchase something, we change our mind and we return our purchase. However, over these last months that regular feature of the shopping experience has become somewhat more challenging. If this is so, the result might be that we stay with the decision we have made and choose not to change our mind.

The apostle Paul writes that ‘the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable’. (Romans 11: 29) God has made a choice and that choice is to call the people of God into being and to make a covenant with them. Having made that choice, the mind of God does not change. God remains faithful to the covenant and to the covenant promise renewed through Jesus Christ. Knowing this to be so, we turn with confidence to the faithful God.

We pray:

Faithful God,
You have called us to be the people of God.
We thank you that your calling remains and abides.
Make us faithful to your calling at this present time.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Faithful God,
You are the God who makes a covenant with your people.
We thank you that you remember us even when we forget you.
Remember us today and all who journey in hard places.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Faithful God,
Your gifts to us are many and without number.
We thank you for the gift of life
And the gift renewed through Jesus Christ.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Faithful God,
You are merciful and gracious and you abound in steadfast love.
When all around us seems to shift and uncertainty prevails,
We search for you and discover again that you are ever present.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Faithful God,
You are the God who breaks down the dividing wall
And makes us one in Christ Jesus.
Grant to us the strength to overcome division and renew our common life.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Signed by:

  • Rt. Rev. Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
  • Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
  • Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • Rev. John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
  • Rev. Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
  • Rev. Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
  • Rev. May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
  • Lt. Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
  • Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • Rev. Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
  • Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed Christian Church of God
  • Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)
  • Rev Fred Drummond, Director, Evangelical Alliance (Scotland)

Call to Prayer Sunday 9th August 2020

CALL TO PRAYER: SUNDAY 9th August 2020 Prayer @ 7pm Print version

Have you ever been afraid? Even as we ask the question, we know the answer. Have you been especially afraid at any point in these recent months? Once more, to ask is to know. Collectively and as a society, have we experienced in recent decades anything comparable to the fear and anxiety that has gripped us during the Covid 19 pandemic? Fear and anxiety paralyse us and, as we now see, fear and anxiety can at times paralyse a society and leave it profoundly uncertain.

The Gospel of Matthew records that early one morning the disciples of Jesus were afraid. They had spent the night in a boat on the water and had been ‘battered by the waves’ and now they find themselves terrified and unable to recognise the presence of Jesus. Jesus speaks to them and says ‘do not be afraid’. In response, the disciple Peter steps out of the boat and walks towards Jesus. However, as he does so, fear begins to overtake him once more and he cries out: ‘Lord, save me!’ In response, Jesus reaches out his hand and brings him to the place of safety. (Matthew 14: 22-33)

Today, to the fearful and to the anxious, Jesus reaches out his hand.

Lord, you are our Creator and our Maker.
We are fashioned in your image
And all that we are is known to you.
Hear us as we cry out and respond to us in our time of need. Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Lord, your Word has become flesh and lived among us
Full of grace and truth.
As the living Word comes, we respond with open hearts
And ask that you will meet us in the place where we are today. Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Lord, you see all that takes place around us
And nothing is hidden from your sight.
You see waves that batter us and the storm that seems unceasing. Come to us in response to the depth of our need. Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Lord, your presence is revealed in the life of your Son. He knows us as we are and even now he prays for us. May he hear us when we are anxious
And respond when we are afraid. Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Lord, you inspire in us faith
And yet we confess that our faith is weak.
Hear us when we cry: “Lord, save me!”
And in response reach out your hand to all who cry to you today. Lord, in your mercy,

Hear our prayer.

Signed by:

  • Rt. Rev. Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
  •  Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
  •  Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
  •  Rev. John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
  •  Rev. Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
  •  Rev. Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
  •  Rev. Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
  •  Rev. May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
  •  Lt. Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
  •  Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  •  Rev. Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
  •  Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed Christian Church of God
  •  Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)
  • Rev Fred Drummond, Director, Evangelical Alliance (Scotland)

Call to Prayer 2nd August 2020

Scottish Church Leaders Forum – Call to prayer for Sunday 2nd August 2020 Print version

The present times continue to be ones in which uncertainty casts a shadow over the future. Our onward journey appears to be one that will not be straightforward or necessarily clear. Indeed, we might find ourselves having to take a step back before we go forward again.

There are occasions in the Gospel when we see that Jesus has to take a step back and go ‘to a deserted place by himself’. On such occasions, we know that Jesus prayed and sought the renewed presence of God. He does so in order that he might continue the ministry that God has given to him.

In the Gospel of Matthew and following such an occasion, we see the compassion of God made known to us through Jesus. In response to the need of those who come to him, Jesus feeds them with good gifts. (14: 13-21) At this present time, may we know the compassionate presence of God revealed to us as we make our onward journey.

We pray:

God of all compassion,
Be with us at this present time.
As you have been with us in times past,
Continue with us in the times that are to come.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God whose compassion knows no bounds,
Meet us when we come to the end of our own strength.
Lead us to the place of renewal,
That we might know your presence and find ourselves renewed.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God whose compassion is embodied in the presence of Jesus,
May we know that presence revealed.
In the presence of your Son,
Grant that we may know that he is there for us and for all who hunger today.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God whose compassion responds to human need,
May we bear witness to the response of Jesus to the hungry and the weak.
Grant that in our witness,
We might respond to the needs of those around us.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of all compassion,
Encompass our world in your unceasing love.
May your compassion flow to the ends of the earth
And embrace the suffering of this world.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Signatories:

  • Rev. Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
  • Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
  • Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
  • Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
  • Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
  • Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
  • May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
  • Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
  • Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
  • Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed Christian Church of God
  • Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)
  • Rev Fred Drummond, Director, Evangelical Alliance (Scotland)

 

Musings from the Manse 26th July 2020

Print version

Thank you to all of you who replied to my email asking for your opinion on re-opening our churches, I have collated all the information and Keith has summarised the replies from the preachers, who were all asked if they would be happy to start taking services again. The next step is for the Circuit Leadership Team to meet and decide the way forward. This is scheduled for Thursday next week.  Although many of us are keen for worship to resume as soon as possible, our main concern must always be the safety and wellbeing of all concerned.

We are between two places as a Church family, and this links very neatly with Jacob’s story in Genesis. Jacob, who was Abrahams Grandson was leaving home! He was between Beer-sheba and Haran. Think about Jacob’s journey a minute, it was approximately 400 miles long and for most of it, he is between two places, alone and with very little.

The way we are at the moment in society, puts us in a similar place to Jacob. Pre Covid19 and Post Covid19, between two places one familiar that we miss, partly because we are not quite sure what the new way will be. We are between the place we have known and lived and a place that is still developing and still has a lot of uncertainties. As a Church family we are also in an uncertain place, when do we open, how will that happen, what will it look like? If only it was as simple as just unlocking the doors and going back to “normal”!

Uncertainty can be a worrying time for some, and others find it an exciting place to be, the only thing I know for sure right now is that God knows us each one of us and knows what is right for us. The CLT must be mindful of everyone in the decisions made about the re-opening of the Church buildings, so pray for us, this week as we face these difficult decisions, because whatever we decide will probably be wrong for some people, some will feel we have made the wrong decision, some may feel hurt or scared and together as a family we must acknowledge that and not judge others for their opinions

 

In the Genesis story, Jacob has a dream that God is beside him and God tells Jacob, he will gift the land where he is to him and his descendants. God is giving inheritance for Jacob and his family. Jacob is in awe and is unsure, but he realises that God is Good! Jacob took the stone he had been resting on and set it as a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. Jacob had very little with him on his journey, and the oil would have been an expensive item, so pouring it on a stone would be a strong sign to God, that Jacob was thankful.

Being Abraham’s Grandson, didn’t get Jacob any automatic rights to be at one with God, like us, he had to discover that relationship for himself. We don’t inherit a relationship with God, but there are many things we inherit in life. Money, property, stocks and shares? All these are possibilities, then there are things we inherit from family, like hair colour, eye colour, temperament, and throughout our lives there are ties we each make with friends, and the things we learn or inherit from them. Some people we meet in life, we never forget, others we meet, we maybe would like to forget, but in my experience, we learn just as much from either group.

Take a moment and think about a few areas, that when combined, bring us to who we are today: our families; our friends; where we live; what we do; our relationship with God.

What we inherit from our Church family will be different from what we might inherit from our own family and a combination of all these things and more, is what gives us our personal identity. God knows each of us and is always present, but we might not always acknowledge that, as other influences sometimes distract us, and right now there seem to be a lot more distractions to deal with.

Psalm 139, is one of my favourites “O God, you search me, and you know me” It talks of God’s all-knowing and widespread presence. God is with us, always. However, there are times when we might coast along or get caught in the rush and haste of life and temporarily forget what our Christian Faith does for us. As mere mortals, our minds can only cope with so many things, particularly with what was “normal” if we could call it that, or what is the “new normal” going to be. Thoughts, I am sure occupying a lot of space in a lot of people’s minds. In lots of ways we are spending much more of our time unsure about the future.

Every one of us is experiencing lots of changes and our Church family it is no different. Change can be good, but also brings uncertainty. God has the power and ways to deal with things, in Psalm 139 verse 6 it says:

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.

and at verse – 17

17 O God, how difficult I find your thoughts;[b]how many of them there are!

We had no way of knowing that when the Church buildings closed in March, it would be months before we could consider re-opening, no way of imagining the pages and pages of measures we would have to put in place to be able to open again, safely whilst complying with all the new regulations.

Many of the uncertainties of today will change as time passes, the landscape is shifting from day to day, and we have no knowledge of what it will look like in a week, let alone over the next few months. In the reading from Genesis, it would be fair to say that Jacob was not sure of his faith, but God came to him and promised a future. Our future is unknown by us, but by trusting in God, nurturing our individual relationship with Him and working together as a Church family, we will find our way in this new unknown territory. I am sure that this is the way to come out of lockdown with a strong future of Faith and Love for Jesus, and new ways to share that with those around us.

I came across the following prayer written by William Barclay, which I think is relevant for us now:

O God, help me to live one day at a time,
not to be thinking of what might have been,
not to be worrying about what may be.

Help me to accept the fact
that I cannot undo the past
and I cannot foresee the future.

Help me to remember
that I will be never tried beyond what I can bear,
that your Father’s hand will never cause your child a needless tear,
that I can never drift beyond your love and care.

AMEN

William Barclay, 1907 – 1978

 

Rev Nik Wooller

24th July 2020

Call to Prayer 26th July 2020

Prayer @ 7pm  Print version

In a recent conversation, a minister suggested that ‘we Christians have no immunity from the struggles and suffering of a broken world.’

He’s right.

But this is also true; that God is with us, no matter what we’re facing. The God we worship is not an absentee landlord, a disinterested bystander. Indeed, Christian faith is built on the truth that the very opposite is true – that God is with us. Immanuel

By prayer and practice, the Church is called to give expression to this key aspect of our belief system. When the Church prays for the world and when the Church cares for the world, the Church makes clear that God is with us in the world.

That’s been true throughout the pandemic and remains true as we begin to plot our course forward, considering what ‘building back better’ might look like. May it be that we remain on our knees before God, the better to know and trust Him.

We pray:

Most High God, you are far above us and beyond our knowing. And yet in Jesus you came among us and you are here.

With glad and grateful hearts, we praise you.

Ever faithful God, when waves threaten to overwhelm us and when fire is burning all around us, still you are with us. There is no point at which you run for cover or leave us to manage on our own.

With glad and grateful hearts, we praise you.

Guiding God, you are a lamp for our feet, a light for our path. In uncertain times, with so much that is unknown and unknowable, go before us, we pray, that being attentive to your voice we might sense your leading.

With glad and grateful hearts, we praise you.

Eternal God, there is much that is transient in our experience; we ourselves flourish as flowers and then are gone. But You, Lord, are without beginning or end; the same yesterday, today and forever. Help us to keep our eyes fixed on you and to lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven which shall not be subject to decay or destruction.

With glad and grateful hearts, we praise you.

Loving God, in all things we marvel at your goodness and long only to see you more clearly and to know you more nearly. Put salt on our lips, then, that we might thirst for you more.

With glad and grateful hearts, we praise you.

In Christ’s name, AMEN.

Signed by:

  • Rev. Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland
  • Most Rev. Leo Cushley, Archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, Roman Catholic Church
  • Most Rev. Mark Strange, Primus, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
  • Dr David Pickering, Moderator, United Reformed Church (Scotland)
  • Martin Hodson, General Director, Baptist Union of Scotland
  • Mark Slaney, District Chair, Methodist Church (Scotland)
  • May-Kane Logan, Chair, Congregational Federation in Scotland
  • Col. Carol Bailey, Secretary for Scotland, Salvation Army
  • Adwoa Bittle, Religious Society of Friends (Quakers)
  • Jim Ritchie, District Superintendent, British Isles North District, Church of the Nazarene
  • Pastor Chris Gbenle, Provincial Pastor, Province of Scotland, Redeemed Christian Church of God
  • Bishop Francis Alao, Church of God (Scotland)/Minority Ethnic Churches Together in Scotland (MECTIS)
  • Rev Fred Drummond, Director, Evangelical Alliance (Scotland)