Call to Prayer 17th May 2020

Print version

In the days following the first Easter Sunday, the disciples of Jesus would have gone through any number of different reactions, from uncertainty and anxiety to joy and celebration, through incomprehension and fear to recognition and hope. If the Cross had robbed them of his presence, the Resurrection has restored his presence. Surely Jesus will continue to be with them always?

The Gospel of John (14: 1-21) portrays the disciples wrestling with the dawning reality that Jesus will not continue to be physically present to them. It would seem that they are again to be left bereft and ‘orphaned’. Uncertainty and anxiety threaten once more. In response, Jesus speaks into their incomprehension and fear with the promise of the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus reassures them that they are not alone and that his spiritual presence will be renewed in this world through the Spirit. Jesus, through the Spirit, continues with us always as the assurance of God’s love for us.

Let us pray:

Living God, you are our Creator and our Maker
And the very breath of life is given as your gift.
We thank you for the gift of life
And we embrace and treasure that gift.

Living God, you are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
Whose presence in the world reveals your love for us.
In the giving of your Son,
You reveal the depths of your love.

Living God, your Son embraced the Cross
And the depths of human suffering.
We thank you that you delivered him
On the day of Resurrection.

Living God, as you spoke to the bereft and the orphaned in days past,
Speak to the bereft and the orphaned in days present.
Speak to the uncertain and the anxious.
Speak into the depths of our incomprehension and fear.

Living God, your promise
Is that we will not be left alone to face the world.
We thank you that through the gift of your Spirit
That promise is fulfilled.

Living God, be with all who sustain our common life at this time,
Carers and nurses, cleaners and porters,
Doctors and ambulance staff, delivery drivers and posties.
Through their giving our common life is sustained.

Living God, as you have watched over us in the past,
Watch over us in the present.
As once more we thank you, that through Christ
And by your Holy Spirit, we are not alone. Amen.

Signed by:

  • Rt. Rev. Colin Sinclair, 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)

Call to Prayer 10th May 2020

SUNDAY 10th MAY Prayer @ 7pm

Version for printing

As Scotland locked down in March, so our usual way of life came shuddering to a halt. Travel was restricted to an extent not experienced in any living lifetime. Our way of life changed too. Some faced traumatic, heart-rending personal situations, from illness to hospitalisation, anxiousness for and separation from loved ones. Others experienced new risk through their roles, including those serving in hospitals and care homes, and key workers in other sectors that are vital for life. Yet others faced difficult personal situations: hunger, tension in relationships and worse, and overnight, everyone had to find a new way of living life.

Today’s gospel reading from John Chapter 14, tells of a traumatic time in the life of the disciples and Jesus. After three years travelling together around Galilee, they arrive in Jerusalem amidst an atmosphere heavy with threat. Gathering behind a closed door, in the hour of his own need, Jesus sought to offer comfort and guidance to his followers and friends, telling them of a place in God’s house, and that he was going ahead to prepare a place for them. Thomas, bless him, asked the question which is on the hearts of so many, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. Howcan we know the way? To which Jesus replied: “I am the way, the truth and the life.”

“Today, in these times, we pray that we may sense Christ’s guiding presence:

Come, Jesus Christ, come my way;
showing me your way, through these disorientating days,
and opening my eyes to your accompanying presence.

Come, Jesus Christ, come my way;
teaching me your truth, through these confounding days
and opening my mind to your living Word.

Come Jesus Christ, come my way;
revealing to me your life, through these bewildering days,
and opening my heart to the fulness of your being.

Amen.

Signed by:

  • Rt. Rev. Colin Sinclair, 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)

Easter keeps going

(Read John :10-10 and Acts 2:42-47)
In the days long before Sat Nav, smart phones and the like on the long car journey from Cumbria to East Anglia, Dad decided to take a short cut in the back roads of East Anglia. Suffice to say the short cut took us a lot longer and when you’re cramped in the back seat with two older brothers, Dad was not very popular at that point. Of course, it wasn’t the first or last time such a thing happened!

As Jesus points out in the gospel there isn’t a short cut to the sheepfold – a point exemplified by Jesus as he travels the cross before experiencing resurrection. We can’t just jump over the wall as indeed we can’t suddenly find a short cut out of the present situation. The Apostles in the early church took this advice to heart summed up in the phrase, ‘Day by Day’.

It feels like Day by day is about the only thing we can do at the moment and maybe some days we are not even sure if its yesterday, today or tomorrow. Certainly, I am learning patience, seeking to focus on the risen Christ but it’s not always easy.

But the early church gives us some good advice. There was a lot of fear around about what might come next (remember Jesus hap appeared in a locked room – locked because of the disciples’ fear). The Romans had crucified Jesus. The future of the early Christians was very uncertain. So what do they do?
Acts 2:42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

This is not bad advice for the lockdown. Seeking out teaching (Bibles) and fellowship (giving someone a ring or ‘Zooming/Skyping/FaceTiming’). Breaking bread – taking time to eat, remembering those around us in the world, giving thanks for all those who still make it possible for us to have food on our tables and maybe recognizing something of the risen Christ in this, and praying. This is a good time for prayer – there is no need to rush, no need to present a list but trying to find time to place ourselves in the presence of God. There is no shortcut to this and sometimes it comes easier than others, simply listening for the voice of the Shepherd.

The suggested Psalm for this Sunday is Psalm 23 – perhaps the most well-known Psalm to all of us. A Psalm that reminds us there is no shortcut but that God is faithful and walks with us even in the most difficult places – in the challenges of the shadows and uncertainty. Christ bears testament that such situations do not have the last word. There is hope and life and love. The early Christians found a way, we too will find a way and the time will come when we can gather physically together again. In the meantime let us holdfast, not seeking shortcuts but spending time as the first followers did.

If you read the passages at the start, you’ve already done some Bible reading, by reading this you have spent time in the company of others in the churches and maybe Psalm 23 can lead you into a time of prayer. And then look, you are already following the example of the early Christians!

Keep on keeping on, and may the peace of the risen Christ reign in your hearts.

With love, Nick

Call to Prayer 3rd May 2020 @ 7pm

Photo by Lionel Titu

Version for printing

In these challenging days: Is there anyone watching over us who really understands who we are and what we are experiencing at this time?

The imagery of the Lord as Shepherd and of Jesus Christ as the Good Shepherd is woven into the heart of Scripture. The resonance of the ancient, yet immediately present, words of the Psalmist can be sensed, such that even now we can hear those words in the very depths of our being: ‘The Lord is my Shepherd…Even though I walk through the darkest valley…Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me’. (Psalm 23) The imagery is taken up in the Gospel of John where the Good Shepherd watches over us and calls us by our name. He does so because he knows us and knows what we are experiencing at this time.(John 10)

Jesus said: ‘I am the good shepherd’ and so we pray:

Good Shepherd, watch over us today
In all we face and experience.
Never leave us or forsake us
And journey with us always.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, you know us
As no-one else knows us.
Guard us and keep us,
As you guard and keep those whom we love.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, we pray for the sick and the lonely;
For the anxious and the bereaved;
For those whose pain is beyond our comprehension.
We stand with them and commend them to your care.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, we pray for the carers in hospitals and in homes
And for all who serve the needs of others.
May the example of living compassion
Inspire us in our care for others.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, you know the depths of our heart
And the fears which are ours.
Speak into the depths of our heart
And calm our fears.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, you know us by our name
And our identity is not hidden from you.
Gather us to yourself as a Shepherd gathers the sheep,
That we might know your Name.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Signed by:

Rt. Rev. Colin Sinclair, 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)

Call to Prayer 26th April 2020

National Call to Prayer: Sundays at 7 pm A Prayer for 26 April 2020

As we continue to journey through this challenging time, we are conscious that the course of our journey will take us to different places.

At some points, we will have greater clarity as to where that journey is taking us. At other points, we will be less sure.

The two disciples who left Jerusalem to journey to Emmaus were definitely in the latter category (Luke 24: 13-35).

As they journey, they try to make sense of all that they are currently experiencing and, in truth, they are finding it difficult. It is as if the source of their hope has gone.

Unexpectedly, they then find themselves in the presence of someone whom they do not recognise.

The unrecognised presence listens to their story and, having listened, begins to offer a new way of understanding that story.

As they come towards the end of their journey, the unrecognised is revealed as the risen Lord: ‘The Lord has risen indeed’!

The Lord is always with us on our journey and so we pray…

Lord, we are those who journey
And who find that journey hard today. We are those who journey
And long to find our hope renewed.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord, whether in our own company or with companions beside us, We journey on.
Whether sure, or unsure, as to our journey’s end,
Come beside us through the risen Lord.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for others;
For carers of the living and of the dying;
For the bereaved and for the anxious;
For those fearing loss of work and of business.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for scientists and researchers;
For those seeking to understand the challenge we face;
For those creating potential vaccines;
For those advising decision-makers.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for those who shape our common life:
In local Councils and in Scottish Government
And in the Government of the United Kingdom.
Grant to them wisdom, compassion and understanding.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for your Kingdom to come And for your will to be done,
On earth
As it is in heaven.

Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

Amen.

The statement and prayer is signed by:

Rt. Rev. Colin Sinclair, 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)

Bready Easter

(Before you read this get yourself a bit of bread)

Put your hand up if you attended a Sunday School (and if anybody can see you they are now wondering whyyou’ve just put your hand up). Not all, but many of us have attended Sunday school – some may have enjoyed it, others like me, may have found it rather boring and wishing I was somewhere!

I wonder if you have any mementos of those days – a bible, a hymn book, a certificate? I wonder if you remember anything you learnt? Or if you came by a different route into church – in your teens or as an adult what do you remember of what brought you to that point?

Maybe it all seems a bit long ago, perhaps it has lost its edge – if so then you’re in good company with thedisciples on the road to Emmaus. They sort of knew their stuff, although they needed a little reminder to prompt their memories about Moses and the prophets? Their world had been turned upside down and it maybe it felt as though God has gone missing at the time when God was needed most. Today questions such as, where is God at this time of Corona Virus, and ‘why’ put us alongside those sad disciples as they walk away from Jerusalem. We know suffering is part of our world, our history – consider the Psalms or Job. The death of Jesus on the cross stands as a reminder that God enters into our world of suffering: “Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” asks the stranger.

In Christ, God participates in the suffering of all, of the world. It is the only answer, it is an answer of “I amwith you…” wherever you find yourself, in whatever situation.

On the road to Emmaus the stranger encourages the disciples to remember what they have learnt over all these years. We are encouraged to think about what we’ve heard not just in Sunday school but week by week at church. Remember all of that but that is not the end of the story. It’s simply the beginning, a trellis upon which faith can grow. The living faith comes when the disciples “recognise” Christ in the stranger. The stories, their learning comes to life in the new life they encounter.

We are being led/encouraged/prompted to recognise the risen Christ, the living Spirit, in our lives and the life of the world. With the disciples on the road to Emmaus, the moment of recognition came when they sat together to eat, when bread was broken. At the moment we cannot meet together to eat. In some sense, perhaps it feels that we are the broken body of Christ. But we remember that it is in the breaking apart that Christ comes to meet us. In the sadness, in the brokenness we remember what we have learnt and let the Spirit draw us into connection with the living presence of Christ.

Find some space and take some time to do this (pause as you go along): If you do have something from Sunday school or when you became a church member, place it alongside you as a reminder of all that you have learnt. Then, I invite you to take your piece of bread. Hold the bread in your hands. [PAUSE] Give thanks to God remembering the farmers, the bakers, the delivery drivers, the shop workers, your neighbours. [PAUSE] Break the bread and in doing so remember the suffering of the body of Christ, the brokenness in our lives, our communities, our world. Remember the work of charities like All We Canworking with some of the world’s poorest people so that they can put bread on the table. [PAUSE] Now eat the bread. The brokenness is part of us but in this we encounter the presence of risen Christ dwelling within bringing peace and joy. [PAUSE]

The Lord has risen indeed.
Keep going dear friends. Peace be with you. With love, Nick

Message from Nick Baker 18 April 2020

Clootie Easter

Some of you may recall that a few months back I came second in a competition run by the V&A in Dundee to name their souvenir toy coo. I still think I should have won but that is just overwhelming arrogance on my part – Lord have mercy! The name I had chosen was “Clootie”. My reasoning was that a coo has a bit of a dumpling look to it, its hide can look like strips of cloth and it was very much a local name.

Interestingly the spellchecker on my computer is underlining Clootie in red telling me I have misspelt the word – Scots clearly hasn’t made it as a language for word processors. Word processors are ever keen to please and offer alternative suggestions for my clear incompetence. The first suggestion it offers as an alternative to “clootie” is “clothe” which isn’t a bad guess. A clothed dumpling is a fairlyaccurate representation of a clootie dumpling. The clootie being the strip of cloth that is wrapped around the pudding.

More recently, I have learnt of the existence of Clootie wells such as the well at Munlochy on the Black Isle. The well is dedicated to Saint Curetán (or Boniface) – a Pictish Bishop (c.690-710). Curetán arrived from Rome, sailing up the River Tay to Invergowrie where he built a church before later heading North to the Black Isle. Amongst other things Curetán is linked with the healing of children through prayer. Perhaps this is why the well is dedicated in his honour – the tradition of wells/springs being a place of healing is an ancient one as the Samaritan woman at the well would testify. The Well at Munlochy is surrounded by trees with bits of cloth (clooties) hanging off them as a symbol of healing. In our Christian tradition the Turin Shroud is often a focus of pilgrimage which, if nothing else, serves as a reminder of the discarded grave clothes at the resurrection.

As the Easter story unfolds in John’s telling of the gospel (Jn 20:19-31), the disciples are still hiding away, and Jesus surprises them. But more than this Jesus makes good on his three promises to share with the disciples: Peace (Jn 14.27); Joy (Jn 15.11; 16.22); and the Spirit (Jn14.16). We also encounter Thomas who foolishly (like many of us) says (like Victor Meldrew), ‘I don’t believe it’.

Christ, the gospel encourages us to let go (or like Mary in the garden not to hold on to) the earthly Jesus but to breathe in the risen Christ. To experience this not as a historical story but a living reality in our lives.

I wonder then, if a bit like the grave clothes, we can put some things to one side and welcome the gifts of peace, joy and the Spirit. The Clootie wells are a sign of hope and healing. I invite you to find a bit of cloth, and, holding on to the cloth offer a prayer for healing (which could be of someone you know, or giving thanks for the healers in our society, of for healing in the face of the global pandemic or healing for ourselves or all of the above or something completely different). Having prayed your prayer, if you have a tree in the garden tie it on to that so that others might see it. If you don’t haveaccess to a garden, tie something to a pot plant and put it in a window (if anybody asks tell them it’sa bonsai clootie!). These clooties will form signs of healing and hope in our communities offering a sign of blessing for those who pass by and serving as a reminder for us of the peace and joy in the Spirit. And who knows, I may even get over not having won the V&A competition!

If you can, take a photo and email it to me and I shall collate them and send it round. May the Peace and Joy of the risen Christ dwell within you.

With love & prayer Nick

 

Call to Prayer 19 April 2020

Prayer @ 7pm

As we find ourselves living through a renewed phase of Lockdown, we see in the Gospel of John (20: 19-23) that, in part, the experience of the disciples, even on the day of Resurrection, was one in which they found themselves locked in and behind closed doors.

Their experience of Lockdown was interrupted by the presence of Jesus as he came and stood among them. He speaks into the depths of their fears and anxieties: ‘Peace be with you.’ We hear these words and know that they speak to us. We listen again for what he will say and discover that Jesus simply repeats himself: ‘Peace be with you.’ As we still ourselves, we hear those words of peace spoken and sense that they are spoken to us and to all who long to hear a word that heals and reassures: ‘Peace be with you.’

We pray:

Living God, speak into the depths of our experience,
Speak the word that stills our fears
And calms our anxieties:
‘Peace be with you.’

Speak your word to the lonely and to the broken,
To the bereaved and to those whose world has crumbled:
‘Peace be with you.’

 

Faithful God, speak to us behind locked doors
As we remember others, who risk their own safety,
In order to serve others:
Peace be with them.

Carers and nurses, doctors and ambulance drivers,
Delivery drivers and shop assistants:
Peace be with them.

God who inspires Hope, speak to us in the present
And speak to us of the future,
For though the doors are locked, in time they shall be open:
Peace shall be renewed.

For those who lead the life of our Nation: Our Queen Elizabeth,
First Minister and Prime Minister, and all who shape our common life,
For us all: Peace shall be renewed.

God whose name is love and whose gift is love,
Open our hearts to know you and to love you,
To love you and to love our neighbour
And as we do, to hear again: ‘Peace be with you.’

As we come to the end of our own strength
May we find our strength in you and hear again:
‘Peace be with you.’

Signed by:

  • Rev. Colin Sinclair, 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)
  • Donald G. MacDonald, Moderator, Free Church of Scotland