Call to Prayer Sunday 18th October 2020

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Does God go with us? That is a question we might well ask at this time. Does God go with us as we journey through the latest stage of the challenge that we face personally and as a community? Does God go with us in the uncertainty of the times in which we live? If so, how do we know?

Moses led the people out of Egypt and, during the subsequent journey in the wilderness, it seems that the persistent questions asked of him by the people of Israel can be summed up as follows:

Does God go with us? If so, how do we know? In reply, the response of the Lord is this: ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest… and I know you by name.’ In return, Moses asks that he might see the glory of the Lord. In reply, the Lord offers to put him in ‘a cleft of the rock’ as a place of safety (Exodus 33: 14, 17, 22).

The words of a traditional hymn capture the image:

Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself in Thee.

Does God go with us? Yes, even on the hardest journey. If so, how do we know? We know because the Lord leads us to the place of safety.”

We pray:

Lord, lead us
To the place where you are known
And to the assurance of your presence.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, lead us
To the place of rest
And to the promise of renewal.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, lead us
To the place where the people made in your image gather
And their voices are heard.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, lead us
To the place where we are called by our name
And find acceptance in your sight.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, lead us
To the place where we are protected
And our safety is assured.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, lead us
To the place where your glory is revealed
And our lives are transformed in Christ.
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
  • Rt. Rev. Kevin Pearson, on behalf of the College of Bishops, Scottish Episcopal Church
  • Rev. John Fulton, Moderator, United Free Church of Scotland
  • Rev. Lindsey Sanderson, 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 11th October 2020

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Among the many challenges our society faces at this time is that of finding the appropriate words to describe and express that which needs to be described and expressed. As we have discovered, that is a far more difficult challenge than might have been anticipated.

In seeking to describe and express the spiritual challenges of this time, we turn to Scripture and discover that Scripture speaks to us and for us. This is especially so of the Book of Psalms. Augustine, a Christian writer who lived in North Africa in the 5th Century writes: ‘If the psalm prays, you pray. If the psalm laments, you lament. If the psalm exalts, you rejoice. If it hopes, you hope. If it fears, you fear. Everything written here is a mirror for us.’

At this time, the 23rd Psalm ‘is a mirror for us’: ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.’ The imagery speaks to us and for us. It evokes a memory embedded in our spiritual consciousness that resonates with every part of who we are.

Whatever paths we take, even to the ‘darkest valley’, the Lord leads us so that we ‘fear no evil’. In our journey, personally and collectively, the Psalm speaks to us and for us.”

We pray:

Good shepherd,
Speak to us and for us.
Speak to us in the midst of us these times
And, in the words of the Psalmist, speak for us.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Good shepherd,
Speak to us at the break of day
And in the evening.
Speak to us the words that resonate in the depths of our hearts
Even as human words fall silent.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Good shepherd,
Journey with us,
Even to dark valleys.
Go before us
And lead us safe home.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Good shepherd,
We confess that we fear the times
And that our souls are troubled.
Lead us to still waters
And restore our souls.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Good shepherd,
Surely you are with us
And your presence there to comfort.
Comfort us when we are anxious
And strengthen us when we are weak.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Good shepherd,
In these present times,
May your goodness and mercy be with us.
In times to come,
May we recall that goodness and mercy has surely followed us.
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. Lindsey Sanderson, 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 4th October 2020

CALL TO PRAYER: SUNDAY 4th October 2020

Prayer @ 7pm Print version

As we journey through these days, we will come to occasions of real significance that will mark out its future shape and course. However, we might only come to appreciate the significance of those occasions as we look back and reflect. We are not yet in a place where we can look back and understand all that has happened in these past months. History has yet to be written. However, the events of our times will shape that history in ways that we can only anticipate.

The journey of the people of Israel described in the Book of Exodus takes them to many places and occasions of significance. The journey to Mount Sinai and the significance of receiving the commandments of the Lord is one such. Traditionally, we refer to these as the Ten Commandments and their giving is a moment of profound significance in the Exodus story. This part of the story begins with a recalling of the fact that it is the Lord their God who has delivered them. In turn, the Commandments offered set out the boundaries within which the community of Israel may live and flourish. (Exodus 20: 1-4, 7-9, 12-20) In these difficult times, let us recollect that it is the Lord our God who will deliver us and who offers to us life and the hope that our communities will flourish once more. We pray:

Lord our God,
We recall that you are the One who journeys before us.
As you have journeyed with us in times past,
Journey with us now
In all that we face as the people of God.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord our God,
We recall that you are the One who offers life
To all who call upon you.
We call upon you now
And trust that you will answer in your good time.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord our God,
We recall that you are the One who speaks to your people
And offers to them the word that brings life.
May your word spoken to us this day
Bring life and the promise of hope once more.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord our God,
We recall that you are merciful and gracious
And that you abound in love.
Grant us understanding to speak words of comfort
And wisdom to speak words of hope.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord our God,
We recall that your Son invites us to love you
With heart and soul and mind
And to love our neighbour as ourselves.
Grant us grace to do so in these times.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

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
  • Lindsey Sanderson, 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)

 

Call to Prayer Sunday 27th September 2020

CALL TO PRAYER: SUNDAY 27th September 2020 Prayer @ 7pm

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For the second occasion, in the course of a journey that was now set to be much longer than originally anticipated, the people of Israel complain to Moses. At the heart of the complaint is the question: ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’ The first occasion is recorded in Exodus 16 where ‘bread from heaven’ is provided by the Lord in response to that complaint. Now, as the journey is set to continue for a longer period, a complaint is raised again. In response, the Lord calls Moses to go ‘ahead of the people’ and lead them to the place of renewed provision. In response, Moses leads the people of Israel to the place where water is provided in the wilderness. (Exodus 17: 1-7)

For the second occasion, in the course of a journey that is now set to be much longer than originally anticipated, we are being asked as the people of God to share, in the communities of which we are a part, a renewed challenge in relation to the Covid 19 crisis. We are not where we wanted to be on the journey and we cannot go back to where we started. At this time, the question we might well ask is this: ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’ As we go forward together, we ask that the Lord will lead us to the place of renewed provision, so that we can say, humbly and with thanksgiving: ‘Yes, the Lord is among us!’ We pray:

Living God,
We journey in hard places today
And in the company of many who are weary and fearful. We journey in hard places
And we confess that we are weary and fearful ourselves.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
As you have heard our cry in times past,
Hear our cry renewed.
As you have provided for your people in times past,Renew your provision today. Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
You have watched over us
And brought us safe thus far.
You watch over us now
And we trust that you shall lead us to the place of safety renewed.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
In our remembering of the journey past,
We do not forget those who are no longer with us.
In our remembering of the journey past,
We do not forget the depth of the challenges we have faced.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
Go before us we ask
And lead us to the place of your presence.
Go before us
And bring us to the place where your presence is renewed.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord God,
In our journey onwards,
May we know that you are among us.
At journey’s end,
May we know that you have always been with us.
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. Lindsey Sanderson, 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 20th September 2020

CALL TO PRAYER: SUNDAY 20th September 2020

Prayer @ 7pm Print version

At present, we are experiencing an extended exit from Lockdown to which there is no immediate end in sight. Allied to this, there are now increased restrictions on our movement. Taken together with our collective memory of the last six months, there is an uncertainty as to the direction to be taken. The impact of this on our personal and collective well-being is a matter of concern within Church and community.

In the Book of Exodus, the people of Israel, personally and collectively, find themselves in a place of wilderness in which the future direction to be taken is unclear. Their collective memory might well suggest to them that they ought to go backwards instead of forwards. To add to their frustration, they find themselves bereft of sustenance in a place that seems deserted and devoid of hope. It is in this moment that ‘the glory of the Lord’ is revealed and the promise of the ‘bread from heaven’ is fulfilled. (Exodus 16: 2-15) It is in the times of our desert experience that we cry out: ‘Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, Feed me till my want is o’er.’ It is in such times that we wait upon the response of the Lord. We pray:

God who provides,
Hear the cry of your people in their distress
And answer them in the desert places.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God who provides,
Guide your people in barren lands
And hold us safe when we are weak.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God who provides,
May we receive your gracious gifts in the morning
And in the evening discover those gifts renewed.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God who provides,
Give direction to us when we were are lost
And renew our purpose when we are uncertain.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God who provides,
Renew the faith of your people
And equip us to serve you in the place that you have called us to.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God who provides,
On this day, may we receive bread from heaven
And know the glory of the Lord revealed.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

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)

 

Call to Prayer 13th September 2020

CALL TO PRAYER: SUNDAY 13th September 2020 

Prayer @ 7pm Print version

‘Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us’. The language of forgiveness is integral to the Lord’s Prayer and to the rhythm of the Christian life. Forgiveness is integral to our relationship with the God who forgives and grants to us the possibility of a new beginning. In response, we are called to forgive others. Forgiveness speaks to us about the renewal of relationships that have been broken. In so doing, it takes us to a place where pain has been experienced and healing is necessary. The word of forgiveness offers the possibility of healing and renewal.

The Apostle Peter asks a question that many of us have asked: Are there limits on the number of times you have to forgive? The question is a good one to ask because, humanly speaking, forgives is not easy. In response, Jesus tells a parable about mercy and forgiveness and the summary of it is that; we should forgive from the depth of our heart because we have been forgiven from the depths of the heart of God. (Matthew 18: 21-35)

We pray:

God of forgiveness,
We thank you that love abides in the depths of your heart
And that you will to forgive us through Jesus Christ.
Knowing this to be so, we cry out to you.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of forgiveness,
We thank you that you know our hearts
And that you accept us as we are.
We turn to you in the hope of forgiveness.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of forgiveness,
We thank you that your promise is sure
And that there is forgiveness with you.
We embrace you, knowing that you have already embraced us.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of forgiveness,
Create in us a pure heart,
That we might love more deeply all who are made in your image.
As we have been embraced by you, we embrace the world of your creation.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of forgiveness,
May love abide in our hearts as it abides in the depths of your heart.
As we have been forgiven through Jesus Christ,
May we celebrate this gift in the company of all your people.

Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

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)

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