Sunday Services

Service for use at home

Sunday 01 August 2021, Haddington West with Garvald and Morham         

‘The shift: Introducing the epistle of James’


Grace be with you and peace from God, our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ

The Lord will be your guide continually and will satisfy your needs in the bare desert. – Is.58,11

 

Collect:
Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry with the bread of his life and the word of his kingdom. Renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by the true and living bread, Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

 

With undivided heart and ceaseless songs
give thanks to God.
To Him all majesty and praise belongs:
give thanks to God.
His love and truth proclaim,
His mercy still the same;
and for His holy name
give thanks to God.

Exalt His name and His eternal word,
He is our God.
Before His throne our every prayer is heard,
He is our God.
Let kings declare His praise,
sing of His words and ways,
for through eternal days
He is our God.

He reigns in glory from His throne above,
He is the Lord:
and in our weakness meets us with His love:
He is our Lord.
His purpose cannot fail,
though fears and foes assail,
His love shall still prevail,
He is the Lord.

                                From Ps.138 (Timothy Dudley-Smith)

James 1, 1-12     (Introduction to series)

Dear friends

James’ letter is a great gift and blessing to the church. It speaks about faith and to the faithful in ways which call the church to task – to the task of proving the genuineness of faith in the appropriate way, which is faithful living. Faith, we all need reminding, is nothing if not an active thing. It is not something to which something needs to be added that is not faith. It therefore has the means to be proved, and to be tested.

Is our faith truly alive to the possibilities the coming of Jesus Christ has opened up – the possibilities of discipleship, of life in obedience to God’s will? Does our faith affect in a manner consistent with Christ’s word the way we live our lives? The way we behave and respond? The way we suffer and hope? The way we live and die? Do we let its light shine into every aspect of our lives so that it may guide us to greater conformity with the way of Christ? Is our faith a happening whereby Christ is formed within us?

Underlying the message of James’ epistle to the church, and its point of departure, is this matter of genuine faith, of the need for faith to be genuine. It is, however, important that we understand that James is not here turning faith into a system of dos and don’ts – it’s not morality that is here presented – as though he was saying, “Look, salvation by faith alone is well and good, but it only goes so far; to grace needs to be added your right behaviour, that’s what salvation ultimately comes down to.”
No, James’ letter is more properly understood as a comment on, and a filling out of, a point that Jesus made repeatedly, saying for instance, ‘Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock’ (Mt.7,24); or, ‘You are my friends if you do what I command. .. This is my command: love each other’ (Jn.15,14.17). James, to use an illustration of Jesus, does not tell us in his letter how to make the tree good (what faith is and how it comes about), that is true, but his aim is to show us the fruit by which alone the good tree is known so that by pondering these things faith may be alive and awake.
At one point in his epistle James uses a strong image in order to convey the sense in which a faith that is unconcerned about this vital correspondence  between faith and life - about the impact of faith on life -, a faith that hears the word but doesn’t do what it says, is guilty of inattention, he speaks of self-deception. He likens such faith to “someone who looks at his face in the mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like” (1,23.24) He immediately forgets who he has seen himself to be and how he appears to others. It’s an image for a faith that does not want to know, in the sense that it won’t do what it hears, a faith which puts faith’s own vision out of sight for the purpose of keeping in step with that of the world.

James saw a need in the church, in the faithful, for these words to be written and this message to be given and proclaimed. And the church, seeing the usefulness and rightness of it, included this letter in the canon, because it saw the ways of the heart, the propensity there to separate faith from faithful, obedient living and so get trapped in a form of self-deception, which by its very nature remains unrecognised until it’s made visible and is brought to light.
Can we doubt that the inclusion of James’ letter in the Bible / God’s Word is providential and reflects the working and wisdom of the Holy Spirit? Can we doubt that God intends to use these words through our use of them and as we apply them to ourselves, to uncover the self-deceptions and blind spots that our faith may labour under – as well as at the same time to strengthen and confirm what is right and good – so that faith may flourish in truth? As we read through James let us be aware, then, that ‘all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. So that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work’ (3,16.17).

Surely, James’ letter has a vital role to play in God’s task of creating a faithful people that is to be thoroughly equipped for every good work. The reason for James’ letter to the church is that he realises what this means: that faith implies and is about a real shift!
It is helpful perhaps to know a little bit about James. He was a son of Joseph and Mary, that is, he was a brother of Jesus. But he didn’t believe in Jesus nor did he join the disciples. With other members of his family he thought that Jesus was really a bit mad. And he would have thought that because he did not want to shift his position to that which appeared in the word and actions of Jesus. But when he did come to believe that Jesus was indeed the Messiah, the Son of God, that he had risen from the dead, he was involved in that real shift (of position and principle) which earlier he had sought to avoid.

This awareness of faith being and bringing about a shift from a self-ful (= idolatrous) to a faith-ful (=godly) way of living, loving and hoping underlies the whole motive, direction and theme of this letter to the church. It is the awareness he seeks to impart to the church. And it is a necessary and loving and true thing to do. Because a faith that does not effect a real shift is disingenuous, it is not genuine Christianity nor is it the fruit of salvation (it’s the fruit of something else!).

Dear friends, people say of many events that happen to them, “this changed my life!” There are events that are claimed to have “changed the course of history”. Coming to faith is also often spoken of in such terms. Question is whether such change equates to a person and people undergoing that real shift that the word “change” in the notion “life changing” implies!
Take for example that talk of change implied in the words of Neil Armstrong as he set foot on the surface of the moon, “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” But what was the giant leap forward for mankind that was supposedly inaugurated on July 20th 1969 some 238,000 miles from here? Technological advance has made some things more bearable, has increased levels of efficiency, has achieved greater reach in many ways, but it has not meant progress, it has not advanced mankind one iota in terms of any real shift – from self-ful to faith-ful living.
So many life-changing events and celebrated giant leaps in history have had zero effect when it comes to man shifting from his position to the only one that can be called a real advance – the one which appeared in Christ.

And dear friends, it is our faith in Jesus Christ alone that can effect this shift. Because the power to reconcile the sinner to God and change the heart through grace lies in the power of the cross and resurrection of Christ Jesus.
Let us rejoice in the goodness of God to us through the gift of faith and let His word through James help us understand how it is by faith that God equips us thoroughly for every good work.                                                                                                                                                                           AMEN

- time of prayer / intercession – [ we give thanks for God’s mercy and faithfulness, for the compassion and steadfast love he has for all that he has made, that all his judgments are just and righteous, that he is our refuge and the helper of all who call on him; we praise God for His work through the grace of Christ of equipping us for every good work and we pray for Him to break down further by the power of the Holy Spirt the power of sin over us in that we do as we hear;
we pray for those who have become ill, are fighting illness or are recovering from it, for those who care for the needs of others; for those in positions of leadership and authority: that they may rule wisely and seek peace, that they may guard the values by which a society can flourish, that they may lead with courage and wisdom, for a turning to the light that is God’s Word; for those who have lost loved ones, need comfort into their grieving and the loving presence of friends; we give thanks for all the help we have received and still experience, for grace and answered prayers; we pray for the despondent and the hopeless, for those who seek light, for the wisdom to comfort the suffering; we pray for our sister church in Northern India and for the body of Christ worldwide and here, for our church, the church’s leadership; we think of the situation in India, Nepal and other places, the suffering of the people there and elsewhere, the attempt of the authorities to regain control; we give thanks for the help that is being delivered; we pray for the situation in Israel, the rift between the Palestinians and the Jews;  for perseverance in the determination to share our means with those who lack them; we pray for God’s blessing on the preaching and teaching of His word, for people to respond in repentance and faith, for freedom and liberty and courage to stand for what is good and true and honours His name; ]

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen

Now may the peace of God which passes all our understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you. AMEN

 

 

Sunday 25th July 2021, Haddington West with Garvald and Morham                                     

‘What God’s works say about God’


Grace be with you and peace from God, our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ

Blessed be the Lord whose unfailing love for me was wonderful. – Ps.31,21

Collect:
O God, the protector of all who trust in you, without you nothing is strong, nothing is holy. Increase and multiply upon us your mercy, that with you as our ruler and guide we may so pass through things temporal that we lose not the things eternal; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever and ever. Amen

Look forward in faith -
all time is in God’s hand.
Walk humbly with him
and trust his future plan.
God has wisely led
his people by his power.
Look forward in hope,
he gives us each new day.

Look forward in faith -
the world is in God’s care.
His purpose of love
he calls on us to share.
In our neighbour’s need,
the Lord is present still.
He blesses the meek!
The earth will know God’s will.

Look forward in faith -
God gives us life each day.
Go onward with Christ,
his Spirit guides our way.
Now God lets us live
within the sphere of grace.
Trust ever in him –
he rules o’er earth and space!
                                                      A. Scobie

Ps.145:10-18                                                                                                                                     

 

Dear friends

Reading these words of Psalm 145 we come face to face with an important principle. It is one that makes sense, is straightforward and clear, however, it is also and at the same time easily overlooked and much neglected. The principle is this: Statements about God are best made on the strength of his own works.
The more this principle is lacking in our thinking and speaking about/of God, the more distant from the truth it all becomes, the more distant from the truth we all become. It is no surprise, therefore, to find that the thinking of our own times, which has largely divorced itself from this principle some time ago, refuses to expect any statement about God to be true and its denial or opposite not to be true. Though this may not be surprising because it is so generally acknowledged, it is nevertheless a very strange state of affairs when you think about it. Because what is a God who is not true and truly living: he is but an idol, a nothing, who may look like something but can do no more than nothing can. The only thing an idol can do is to be considered to be true for someone but not true for someone else. In regard to the true and living God this is an impossibility.

Now the works of God are a delight to those who behold them and they lead them to praise the One whose works they are. And they share what they see in the mode of praising God, so that others may join in the praise and see and know. Because to know God as He displays himself in His works, acknowledging His praiseworthiness, is for man to know himself in the place described in v.18: “The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” [It’s like being in the palace and having the king’s ear all the time.]

What are these works? Well, certainly we are justified and right to think here first of the works of creation. They tell of the power of God whereby He imposed order on chaos such that life arose and is enabled to flourish and which gave the light necessary for life to know the way. This order surely is reflected within us in our ability and impulse to trace its workings in nature and praise the Creator, and in our sense of right and wrong, light and darkness, meaning and fulfilment, in the voice within of natural justice and the conscience. They tell of Him whose works they are, and they invite all of us to see and hear and to draw near Him in praise and to call on Him.
I recently heard someone speak about a place by the Firth of Forth (Cockenzie), saying that she would defy anyone watching the sunset from that spot to remain unmoved and not believe in God. She understood well that creation is the work of God which is making a statement about Him and that there is an organ within us with which to hear and see. But, of course, such seeing and hearing does not happen necessarily. The story can be told in different ways. It is, as David says, “the faithful people that extol you.
For example, we recently watched a program about the planets in our solar system, and it struck me how different the account there presented was from the one I had read about in a book on the matter not long before. One account made no reference to God, the other did. Same facts, same science, different story. The account which made reference to God spoke of the facts in ways that brought out the intentional and purposeful will of God to enable life, especially life that would be able to know Him and enjoy true fellowship with Him. The story so told made sense of our search for meaning, of the grip the idea of purpose has on us, and of the presence everywhere we look of intentionality and order. And all leads to a joy otherwise not known but recognised in the soul as supremely fitting, as the joy it has always sought – the joy of delight in the Creator and of the praise of Him.

But from considering the works of creation we must move on and consider the works of God by which we come to know Him as our God and ourselves as his people, the works by which we come to know His help and own His promises, the works by which we come to trust and obey His will for us and receive grace, love and fellowship with Him.
This, dear friends, takes us to the life and person of Jesus Christ. Because if we look anywhere for God at work in this way, where do we see it but in him? Indeed, Jesus himself raises this question on the basis of his works before those who deemed him a fraud: “Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any good work,’ they replied, ‘but for blasphemy because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’ Jesus answered them, ‘…Why do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, “I am God’s Son”? Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.’” (Jn.10,31-38)

What work of God tells us that God is “trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does”, so that those who see and hear it learn to live by what it tells? Is it not everything that makes up the life of Jesus Christ and shows him to be the fulfilment of the promises given to Israel?
What work of God tells us that God “upholds all who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down”, so that all who see and hear it find such help and mercy? Look at Christ’s compassion and forgiving love and healing with which he reached out to lost sinners, always to restore them; look at his cross where he died for the sins of the world and at his resurrection and the sending of the Holy Spirit to assure every sinner who believes of God’s forgiveness and of their restoration to everlasting life.
What work of God tells us of Him such that we look to him to give and open his hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing? Do we not see it in the one who fed the 5000 with a couple of fish and a few loaves of bread?
What work of God tells us that He is “near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth”, so that all who hear and see it know that he is with them and they are with him and nothing can separate them from his love? Do we not see it in Christ Jesus who was betrayed to the cross and left alone by his disciples and after his resurrection gathered them and called them his friends and who said to them and to all who in faith receive him, “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mt.28,20)?

Dear friends, we know God in his power, his love and faithfulness, when we know him by his works. Let us drink deeply from the source that reveals God’s saving work most fully, even Jesus Christ.

          AMEN

 

- time of prayer / intercession – [ we give thanks for God’s mercy and faithfulness, for the compassion and steadfast love he has for all that he has made, that all his judgments are just and righteous, that he is our refuge and the helper of all who call to him;
we pray for those who have become ill, are fighting illness or are recovering from it, for those who care for the needs of others; for those in positions of leadership and authority: that they may rule wisely and seek peace, that they may guard the values by which a society can flourish, that they may lead with courage and wisdom, for a turning to the light that is God’s Word; for those who have lost loved ones, need comfort into their grieving and the loving presence of friends; we give thanks for all the help we have received and still experience, for grace and answered prayers; we pray for the despondent and the hopeless, for those who seek light, for the wisdom to comfort the suffering; we pray for our sister church in Northern India and for the body of Christ worldwide and here, for our church, the church’s leadership; we think of the situation in India, Nepal and other places, the suffering of the people there and elsewhere, the attempt of the authorities to regain control; we give thanks for the help that is being delivered; we pray for the situation in Israel, the rift between the Palestinians and the Jews;  for perseverance in the determination to share our means with those who lack them; we pray for God’s blessing on the preaching and teaching of His word, for people to respond in repentance and faith, for freedom and liberty and courage to stand for what is good and true and honours His name; ]

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen

 

 

Now may the peace of God which passes all our understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you. AMEN

 

Sunday Service 18th July 2021

Welcome     Call to worship

God calls us from all around to worship. Whether rich or poor young or old. We are all invited. God calls all types of family, whether it be one or two or whatever number in our families we are all invited to worship with each other, each of us bringing our weaknesses and our strengths we come to worship together all of us invited by God, calling us to worship with him in our hearts. Amen

MP 660 The Lord’s my shepherd.  (“Brother James Air”). Found in CH4 16    Last two lines of every verse repeated. 

Prayer and Lord’s prayer

Heavenly Father, we come before you – in amazement at the beauty of your handiwork which surrounds us daily and the different colours which change in their given seasons.  We see thousands of different flowers, trees, birds, animals. One or two of each kind would be wonderful but You Father have gone above and beyond and we delight in the bounty of your creation. Help us to see the worth of what we are surrounded by, not in monetary terms but in the goodness of your grace given to us so freely. Prompt us to look after all we have been given and to remind others of what is around them is to be looked after.

Loving God as we look back in time it is easy to forget how hard it was for Jesus to do his work here on Earth, yet you made it possible for him to pass to the disciples what they would have to do to continue Jesus’s work so that we now know what we have to do in our lives. Paul tells us of the people of Ephesus who brought together two separate factions enabling them to come together as one people living in peace with one another. We ask forgiveness for any divisions we have caused and any wrongs we have done to others. Living Lord we thank you that you give us eyes and ears to see and hear the needs of our community around us, be with us as we live out in our daily lives the tasks involved, helping in any way we can. But also portraying the love in our hearts to do your work.  we give you all the praise and glory. Amen

Lord’s Prayer Our Father

MP 32 An army of ordinary people

Readings, OT. Psalm 23.      NT.  Ephesians, CH2 verses 11 – 22

Sermon

Martin Luther’s speech was given on the 28th August 1963 on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. What was the meaning of I have a dream? I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.” 1963 all these years ago and the country is still having problems with cultural differences. When I first was looking at this the words came into my head. I have a dream. Took me to check it up on google where I got them from. They came firstly form the speech and secondly, the much lesser, was from the Abba song. But back to Martin Luther. It would certainly be great to live in a world without racism and where terrorism is no longer around. And where the rest of our word lives in peace, no conflict within the Middle East. It would be super to open a newspaper or switch on the television and have no murders or theft or just anything that divides us in anyway, being reported. The coverage would be very short these days. And that is just in the adult population. There is so much affecting the children now, bullies at school, and broken relationships it can be quite a hard world they live in. Can we just dream that someday it will all be right and our dreams could come true. Has God failed in his plan to unite each of us to himself and to one another. Unfortunately; there are less and less people coming to church or even just believing in God. Paul prayed that the Ephesian Christians would know that power. God’s power breaks those barriers of separation in death through our faith, we know we will join together again. And it’s with that in mind that Paul starts v11 with the word, ‘therefore’. Here’s the reason, God has adopted us to be his family and it is through Jesus’ death that it has been made possible for the church to be built up. We are all different but here in our congregational family we are united with each other and with God. But we are also united to everything and everybody around us. We are the church body of Christ.  We have our differences but we always come together in peace as all we do is done through the peace of Christ in our hearts. Paul was addressing the Gentiles in the churches to whom he was writing.  ‘Gentiles’ was a term to describe everyone who was not a Jew. Gentiles. It was meant to remind the Gentiles that the Jews were God’s chosen people, not them. God is the source of light, life and love. He’s the creator and sustainer of the universe. He is the Father who gives every spiritual blessing in Christ. Well when Paul says ‘far away’ in v13, they weren’t just a few miles away; they were nowhere near to God. We can all be far away but we remember that it is through Jesus who bore the cross to take away all our sins that we can be reconciled and able to call God Our Father    in the old testament Jews and Gentiles were separated the Jews would have nothing to do with the Gentiles in any shape or form but through Jesus they were brought together the barriers were broken down. The barrier was the law but Jesus removed that barrier. They are still Jew or Gentile but have been reconciled to live as a community together. That’s why Paul could write in Galatians 3:28, ‘There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus’.  Peace can abound within the community Jesus preached to all not one side but to all as one. Paul is showing how God has brought about the unity. Jesus’ death binds us together. All God’s adopted children.  The basis of our church today is built on the word of God from the Old testament looking for Christ to come, and from the New testament apostles looked back to Christ –therefore we have the sound basis of our church today. We are built on the solid rock of Christs teaching. We live in Christ through the Holy Spirit sent for us which was promised for us and through the Holy Spirit as God lives in us his plan he had for all of us is not a dream but a reality we can be reconciled to each other and have the peace of God in our hearts.  

The second, I have a dream, I looked up was an Abbas song and some of the words just resonated with me. I will not sing it to you and I have shortened it but I Have a Dream, a song to sing to help me cope, with anything If you see the wonder, of a fairy tale. You can take the future, even if you fail I believe in angels. Something good in everything I see I believe in angels to help me through, reality and my destination, makes it worth the while ‘pushing' through the darkness, still another mile When I know the time is right for me I'll cross the stream.  The words can be changed from a dream to belief we can believe that God is with us we do not need to separate from each other or from God we just need to keep praying and continue to be the church. Which means a faithful commitment to our Christian family and a faithful obedience to our heavenly Father. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

Gracious God let us take time out in our busy lives and pray for the world which is so, so, busy around us. We have so many irons in the fire that we forget to just stop and take a moment to put into perspective all the problems we see daily in the media. Lord help us to be like Jesus and stop and rest so that when we are rested we can go on to reach out to help others in their time of need. The world’s needs are sometimes too much that we feel we cannot help but with you walking alongside us we may see the way forward to help in some small way to assist just like a pebble thrown into a pool small ripples yet wide reaching. May we use what skills we have to be on the side of justice and equality to bring a peace where people are suffering war. Assist us to speak out to politicians to act in the way that will change the wrongs being done. We pray for those who need our care, the lonely, people in distress, all who are unwell either at home or in hospital, we pray also for people waiting on results and are anxious, and the bereaved.

 We will take a few moments and name those known to us in our hearts.

Lord teach us to help all who we can in these times. And being inspired by what you did let us live our lives giving and loving each other. Amen

MP 73. Christ is made the sure foundation

Benediction

We leave this place as members of God’s family, brothers and sisters through the blood of Jesus Christ. Together, we are being built into one church, one faith, one love, where God lives in us by the Spirit. So go out with joy and confidence to love and serve the world, may the grace, mercy and peace from God the father, spirit and son guide us this and every day. Amen

 

Sunday Service for 11th July 2021

Welcome

Call to Worship

Lord of our lives, we come to listen and hear your word. We open ourselves to you Be with us Lord enter our hearts. and minds as we worship with each other and with you. we give you Heavenly Father our worship and adoration for all the gifts you give us so freely accept our thanks and our praise Amen.

MP 50 Be still for the presence of the Lord

Prayer and Lord’s prayer

Lord of all we come  before you; to be open to your word, and to give you the glory and praise and thanks for you give us. Lord, we admit that sometimes we find it difficult to understand t what is happening around us in today’s world never mind all what happened all those years ago. Forgive us, Lord, for the times we don’t appreciate how brilliant it is to be chosen by you; and when we question you, about the path you have destined for us. when we feel sorry for ourselves but do not turn to you.  Forgive us, Lord, and help us back on path. Praise be to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He chose us in love to be holy and blameless. He called us in love to hear the good news of salvation. He blessed us in love and included us in his most marvellous plan. Heavenly Father, we thank you so much that we have been chosen by you. May our lives be worthy of our calling. Praise be to God. Amen.

Lord’s prayer

MP 404 Let all the world in every corner sing.

Readings Psalm 85; 8 – 13 & Ephesians 1; 3 – 14

Sermon: Ephesians 1: 3-14 Blessed in Christ

How many of you have your mobile phones with you today?  Of course that is if you own one. If so is it on silent? I only ask this because it is not the first time I have forgotten to put mine on silent.  Next question have you been out and about and the mobile rings and you have dived into your pocket or handbag and the person on the other end asks you where are you? Well it really isn’t important today in the context of the reading but Paul starts his letter to Ephesians by reminding them by saying to the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ. Paul is really letting them know that they do not just live in Ephesus they are also living in Christ because of their trust in Christ. When you go on holiday and find the obligatory street map and it has the arrow pointing to where you are. It helps when you actually know where you are in relation to the arrow.  Stating YOU ARE HERE is great if you can then follow up with the rest of the picture. I am not that good with actual maps to me they always feel as if they are upside down. Not a good position to be in. The start of the lesson portrays the bigger picture and what it is to be in Christ. These opening verses of Ephesians give us the big picture, and show us exactly what it means to be in Christ. They take us from the blessings from the Father through to the Blessings from the son and then finally to the blessings through the Holy Spirit. Paul informs the people of Ephesus they lack nothing having been blessed in Christ.  Just like them we should count our daily blessings for the God who loves us. We know that God knew us before we were born, even before the world began. We have been selected to be his children through the love of Christ in us. Not because through anything we have done to deserve being chosen, but because he through grace accepted or should I say adopted us to be the one to follow the narrow path and be what he would have us be. The blessing of being adopted into the family of God through the grace of release from our sins, through Jesus Christ, God’s only son given to us for the redemption of all our sins.

As we continue I want you to think about all the blessings you have been given through God’s grace. I know you have heard me telling you about one of my favourite Sunday School choruses, Count your blessings, Name them one by one then you surely know what God has done. Everything that happened in the early years was predestined to happen. God’s plan was put into action. Through his plan we have been blessed, chosen, loved, adopted, redeemed, forgiven, graced, informed, and we have the promise of our eternal home in heaven where we will see God face to face. One more blessing was the gift of the Holy Spirit, promised and sent to be with us here on earth to guide us along life’s way. We know that in our joys and in our sadness, God walks with us even when we feel that God is far away. Put your trust in Jesus and you will feel his arms around you helping you to carry the load. We can also be Holy and blameless in the eyes of God. All that he expects from us is to be a mirror of Christ Jesus; be a light to the world. Just as Paul says in the passage reflect on the love and grace that has been lavished on you. Give the praise and the glory to God as Paul did at the very beginning shouting out to the Ephesians; Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ...’

I have a wee bit homework for you. Stop during the week and take time in your busy lives to just see how many blessings you had in the last few days and then say thank you to God for all that he has done for you.
Do not let God have to ask you where are you. Just count your blessings and thank God and he will know where you are. Deep down in his heart. Amen.


Prayers of intercession

We pray for children who are adopted or fostered, that they will find the love and security they need. We pray for social workers and organisations for the work they do. May they do this work in love and understanding of the need of the families. Everlasting God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, hear our prayers which we offer in his name and by the power of your Holy Spirit working among us that we might tell “The word of Truth” and live the Gospel of Salvation as a living example for all mankind. Creator God we pray for the leaders of the world carrying responsibilities for the lives of their people. We pray for all still affected by the Coronavirus and for a new determination to end the pandemic which brings with it so much fear, heartache and suffering.

Gracious God we pray for the people of the hospitality industry especially for those who feel excluded, exploited or ignored and for all who are still unable to resume normal level of employment because of the pandemic’s effect on tourism.  Help us, your people, to work together to build a community which is as open and generous as your love, shown to us in the gift of your Son Jesus Christ.

Loving God we pray for healing in body, mind and spirit for all who are in need. We pray that in lives darkened by any kind of pain, distress or grief the light of Christ will bring comfort, hope and a sense of your all-encompassing love. Lord, your love reaches out to everyone at the end of our days on earth. Be with us and with those we love and with those whom we loved and have gone before us.  

We pray now for those who have recently died and those bereaved by their passing. 

Heavenly Father we thank you for the opportunity of being together in prayer. As we look forward to the week to come, we pray for an awareness of your love and support in all we do. Merciful Father: accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.   Amen

MP 41 At the name of Jesus

Benediction

Live in union with Christ Jesus as Lord, be rooted in him, be built in him. Grow strong in the faith and let your hearts overflow with thankfulness. And the blessing of God Almighty the father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always. Amen

 

Sunday service 4th July 2021 Haddington West with Garvald and Morham.

Call to Worship

We come to listen to the word of the Lord! Assist us to accept God’s word and his direction in our lives. Affirm the virtue of God’s love for us. May our words and our activities be full of love. Let us join together in a time of worship and open our eyes, hearts and our spirits to fill our inner self with your fulfilling love for each other. Amen

Hymn MP. 604 Soldiers of Christ arise. 

Prayer and Lord’s prayer   Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known and from whom no secrets are hidden, we rejoice to be as one in your great human family on earth and in heaven. Loving God, you have been at work in this world, from the first day of Creation. So many people throughout the past centuries have been formed in your image. The saints who have gone before us helping to change our history by often doing what some would say impossible traveling in faith with you by their sides. You are an awesome God! We confess, Lord, to keeping the saints contained in boxes which cannot let the light be seen therefore not reaching out but being shut away that even we forget that the light of the Lord‘s works should never be hidden but Lord you nudge our consciences to open up ourselves to tell of the good works of our Lord and redeemer. Thank You for the gift of your son that through him our sins were forgiven and we are encouraged to come and give him the praise and glory he so richly deserves. Because of Him, our hands are never empty. And because of Him we can go out to tell the good news of Jesus and all the saints who came after so that we might know the proper paths to walk and to truly know that You walk with us always. Let us come together and pray the Lord’s Prayer. Our Father.

MP. 882 Lord of all hopefulness.

Readings 1&2 2nd Samuel 5 verses 1-5 & 9, 10.  New Testament reading Mark 6; 1 - 14

Sermon

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart, be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength, and redeemer. Amen.

I remember when I decided to go and do the course to become a Reader that some of the people that I knew didn’t believe I would go through with it.  It took me a good number of years to complete it but as you can imagine I was delighted when I did.  Some people that I knew from my younger years are very surprised, when they see me in the pulpit, or conducting a funeral.  They knew I went to church but as a member not someone who could lead in worship. They had known me for years and years. The people of Nazareth had known Jesus.  But they certainly were not kind in any way to him. All they could see in Jesus was the son of a carpenter just someone they had known in their younger days. They definitely were not willing to see him as the Son of God. And yet, Jesus, had taught, healed, prophesied, and loved, all who came to him and redeemed them. He also sent the disciples to go and do the same. And there are still people going out today to do likewise.

From the early years the people of Israel knew who their leaders would be.  (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). Then the unfortunate time when they had the Pharaohs as their leaders, until the exodus and their time in the wilderness with Moses who had been chosen and appointed by God. Much later Joshua was next in line. There were many different leaders who were not good.   And the people were fed up so fed up that they called for a king.  Samuel was not keen but the people wanted stability and believed a royal line would be the way to go.  Saul became the first king but unfortunately he and his son were killed in a battle against the Philistines, leaving the people in quite a predicament. A split occurred amongst the tribes and Judah went their own way and chose David to be their king. He ruled for seven and a half years but the other factions decided to come in and there was civil war which eventually led the people to finally accept David as their King. They came saying they were kin, and flesh and blood and saying the Lord had chosen David to be their king. They were doing their best to be acceptable within the tribe having lost all their battles previously.  They knew that it was pointless to fight against God’s plans as his purpose for us all will be carried out. God’s will be done.  They did not recognise who was amongst them and just how great he had become.  But of course they did know him but not in the way they should have done.  They just remembered him as the son of Mary and Joseph someone who came from very humble beginnings. Maybe this is the reason why "prophets are not without honour, except in their hometown, and among their own kin, and in their own house."  Jesus as far as they were concerned was just the same as all his brothers and sisters, nothing changed from when he was a boy growing up amongst them.

There are many stories that refer to this throughout the bible, people who have met with Jesus but not recognising him. The "builders" in the psalm did not recognize him (Psalm 118:22-23; Luke 20:17). And Jesus said to the woman at the well, "If you knew ... who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water" (John 4:10). But she didn't know with whom she was dealing.  Mark tells us that Jesus was amazed at the lack of faith of the townspeople. And especially as Jesus was the one they had been told would come to be the saviour of the world. Yet because they didn’t recognise who was in their midst they restricted what He would have done for them just because of a lack of faith.  But they could only limit in their own locality and Jesus went away and gave power and the purpose to his disciples to further the work of the kingdom far and wide. They also left anyone out who had no time for them.  

David had been chosen by God and he became greater and greater. How could that be? It is very simple really it is all down to a three letter word “FOR” "The Lord, the God of hosts, was with him." Now we are in the holiday season and we spend a lot of time wondering what to take with us.  I am very guilty of taking far too much. I know someone in the church who will verify this as he was trying to lift my case into the car he was amazed at the weight. But I just like to make sure I have enough to get me to the end of the week or for however long I am away for.  Yet here was Jesus instructing the disciples to “Take nothing with you except a staff and sandals for your feet” and if they were not welcomed in that town to leave and shake the dust of their feet, as a testimony against them”. The disciples were very unsure of themselves being able to heal people the way Jesus did, but they eventually believed that they had been given the way, FOR “The Lord, the God of hosts, was with them”. They were given the task to go out and tell people that they would have to believe and have faith in God and in his son Jesus Christ who had come to be their saviour.   I am sure we all really like to be ready and equipped for the journey of life yet there are times when things go wrong that it makes our lives difficult and we cannot see the way ahead. We worry often but when we take the time to stop and pray giving the worry to God then the thing that has knocked us down can be put into perspective.  If we have the self -assurance that God is walking with us taking us to the place we should be, and that God will supply all that we need for the journey. And that friends will walk the walk with us. With the grace given by God we will have sufficient to last through the journey we are on. Jesus wants us to go out into the world and spread the good news of God’s love for all and that his grace is for all people whoever come, to have and share the faith we have been gifted. We will not be disheartened FOR the Lord our God will be walking alongside us all the way. Trust always in the Lord. Amen     

Prayers of Intercession

Let us come together in our prayers of intercession. Heavenly Father we come to you and ask for prayers for all ministers who preach and not be rejected as Jesus was in Nazareth. We pray for the world we live in today we ask that the violence and hatred of others and terrorism be put aside so the peace, love and union be brought about. We pray today for peacemakers throughout the world, may they bring hope out of despair, peace out of conflict and prosperity out of poverty. Father God we pray for our families and friends and especially for young people that they may grow up knowing love and hope, valuing life and respecting others.  We pray for those who have to left school and moving on to whatever stage they might be at we pray that the children who have had exams attain the results they are hoping for.  Father we ask that the little ones now on holiday be kept safe from harm and will enjoy their time at home. We pray for John, Elizabeth, and the family may they have a lovely restful holiday together and come back fully refreshed.

Loving Lord, we come together in prayer for all who are ill either at home or in hospital or care homes, tend to them in your loving arms may they know you are with them. We further pray for any who have had bereavement in their families uphold them and help us to be with them in their time of need. Let us in a moment of silence name them in our hearts.

Faithful God we pray for ourselves as we go into another week. May we follow the paths you have carved out for us in a way that is pleasing to you in the knowledge that you will be with us on our daily walk. We ask you Lord to accept these prayers in the name of your son Jesus Christ amen

MP. 178 Go forth and tell.

Benediction

Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us Go now in peace to love and serve the Lord. Amen

 

4th Sunday after Trinity, 27th June 2021, Haddington West with Garvald and Morham                                           

‘It’s about faith


Grace be with you and peace from God, our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ

Blessed be the Lord whose unfailing love for me was wonderful. – Ps.31,21

Collect:
Almighty God, you have taught us through your Son that love fulfils the law. Grant us grace to love you with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, all our strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Look forward in faith -
all time is in God’s hand.
Walk humbly with him
and trust his future plan.
God has wisely led
his people by his power.
Look forward in hope,
he gives us each new day.

Look forward in faith -
the world is in God’s care.
His purpose of love
he calls on us to share.
In our neighbour’s need,
the Lord is present still.
He blesses the meek!
The earth will know God’s will.

Look forward in faith -
God gives us life each day.
Go onward with Christ,
his Spirit guides our way.
Now God lets us live
within the sphere of grace.
Trust ever in him –
he rules o’er earth and space!
                                                      A. Scobie

 

Mk.5,21-43

Dear friends

If we hear this story of Jesus’ double miracle and its attending circumstances and do so in the way Mark intends us to and Jesus would want us to, we should realise what the main character of this story is, i.e. what this story seeks to enlighten us all about – and that’s faith.
This solves the puzzling fact of the seemingly contradictory ways in which Jesus involves the public in the two cases. Because in the case of the woman “who had been bleeding for twelve years” Jesus insists that the healing become known and be in the open and that everybody hears what he says to her. But in the second instance of healing he shuts the public out and gives “strict orders not to let anyone know about this.” Though these two responses are different they are seen to serve the same cause when this cause is understood to be ‘faith’. Because all must hear the words, “Your faith has healed you”, the fact of her healing must be out in the open. But those who have heard him say to the father, “Don’t be afraid, just believe”, must then be prevented from what would detract from that and would cause the conversation to go off-topic.

It’s about faith. But why is faith of such importance? Why should faith be claimed to be a main character in the story that is life? There are many, as we know, who say ‘We get by very well without it, thank you very much’ and would commend their stance too. And there is a vast body of opinion which holds that the question of what a person does or does not believe is not as relevant as all that, is a private matter, a low-order issue. Does it matter very much what anyone believes?
Yet, the reason why faith is of such importance is not that you cannot get by without it, you can. But it’s that you are not saved without it, that you are not made well without it, that you cannot go in peace without it. It’s not that it cannot be made a low-order issue, it can, just like it can be made a high-order issue, but both is beside the point. No, it’s that life which ought to be a true and uplifting conversation (love of God and of one’s neighbour) is patently and seriously off-topic for some reason – and that reason has everything to do with faith.

What, then, does this story, with Jesus at the centre of it, tell us about faith? One thing touches on an area where, I think, we are much in need of light. It appears in Jesus’ answer to the woman, “Daughter, your faith has healed you”.
This, does it not, sounds like Jesus affirms what many instinctively hold to be true and what is promoted in many books and films: What a person believes in doesn’t matter so much as the fact that she believes. The power of faith, of believing, lies in its potential to self-heal and self-improve. Faith can be pretty un-doctrinal and needn’t be tied to any particular object or truth, it is free to attach itself to whatever exercises it.
I remember going to a church service at which I found I was being invited together with everyone else there to ‘bring your own god’ (not so much CofS as BYOG) – an example of this idea and understanding of faith. What faith is in doesn’t matter so much as the exercise of faith itself, a person’s believing.
But Jesus is not teaching that the woman healed herself by her faith. The power that healed her did not go out from her (!), as the story states: “At once Jesus realised that power had gone our from him.” No power, no healing. The reason that her faith healed her was that she sought that power in Christ. For 12 years she had sought healing elsewhere and everywhere, believing every time in hope that her money would be well spent. But it was to no avail.
Therefore, let’s not empty faith of all its power and its truth by holding and declaring that it works anywhere and anyhow! Or that whatever power there may be, it works with or without faith!

There is a question we must not avoid asking, because we cannot afford to do so, if we recognise the place and importance of faith for our lives to be made well and be at peace, and it is this: “Who actually has the power [ Mt.6,13: for yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever] to make life well and give it peace? Who, actually, has the power to save life, to “forgive all our sins and heal all our diseases” (Ps.103,3), so that our way through these things (sins and suffering) is to life? Who has the power actually to make of death nothing but a sleep from which by his word a person shall be raised? From whom does such power come out and is made available to faith for seizing upon and owning?”
The actual answer is that it is the one who was sought and found by the woman who was subject to bleeding and by Jairus whose daughter lay dying.

This, dear friends, is the proposal here: that there is a place from which this power comes forth – here/for us through faith: Christ who became powerless for us on the cross where he bore our sins and died our death and who rose from the dead in the power of God to be with us and to be for us the power of the resurrection.
That is the proposal here, and it stands in contrast to all others which do not know of such a place. And faith will prove either, by deciding whose word it believes: The word of him whose word searches out those he heals (“Who has touched me?”), or the word of those whose words and thoughts and deeds do no more than show that they don’t have the answer. The word of him who says, ‘The child is not dead but asleep’, or the words of those who laugh at his word and are busy with themselves and wail and cry when left without comfort.

What helped the woman and Jairus to believe and find saving faith in Christ was that they both had and were, acutely so, aware of their issue – bleeding in the case of the woman and care for a sick child in the case of Jairus. This was their signpost to faith in Christ, who said (after all): “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but those who are ill. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Mk.2,17)
And this is faith’s signpost to Christ, the Saviour and Redeemer, for all. Therefore, do we know our issue? That we need to be made well? And freed from suffering? That we need the light of peace?  That we sin? That we are destined to die and after that to face judgment (Hebr.9,27)? The want of moral health, the want of purity and holiness? A fear of death? A guilty conscience that darkens life?
Yes, with all this man has an issue. Question is whether we face and know it and respond to it in the way the woman and Jairus did.

Dear friends, Jesus says to Jairus, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’ With this he points to just what a glorious thing faith is which fastens itself to him: for to it is given the promise and pledge of the power of God to save to the utmost through grace and mercy.

                                                                                                                                AMEN

Lord God, in Christ we hear your word and see that everything is possible for him who believes. We thank you for the power that is in him, your power, to make us well, for bringing to light life and immortality through the forgiveness of sins. Grant us by your Spirit to seek and know Christ like the woman who came to him with her issue and like Jairus with his so that like them we may find your help and know your love. Amen

 

- time of prayer / intercession – [ we give thanks for God’s mercy and faithfulness, for the compassion and steadfast love he has for all that he has made, that all his judgments are just and righteous, that he is our refuge and the helper of all who call to him;
we pray for those who have become ill, are fighting illness or are recovering from it, for those who care for the needs of others; for those in positions of leadership and authority: that they may rule wisely and seek peace, that they may guard the values by which a society can flourish, that they may lead with courage and wisdom, for a turning to the light that is God’s Word; for those who have lost loved ones, need comfort into their grieving and the loving presence of friends; we give thanks for all the help we have received and still experience, for grace and answered prayers; we pray for the despondent and the hopeless, for those who seek light, for the wisdom to comfort the suffering; we pray for our sister church in Northern India and for the body of Christ worldwide and here, for our church, the church’s leadership; we think of the situation in India, Nepal and other places, the suffering of the people there and elsewhere, the attempt of the authorities to regain control; we give thanks for the help that is being delivered; we pray for the situation in Israel, the rift between the Palestinians and the Jews;  for perseverance in the determination to share our means with those who lack them; we pray for God’s blessing on the preaching and teaching of His word, for people to respond in repentance and faith, for freedom and liberty and courage to stand for what is good and true and honours His name; ]

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen

Now may the peace of God which passes all our understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you. AMEN

 

3rd Sunday after Trinity, 20th June 2021, Haddington West with Garvald and Morham                                           

‘Do you know him?’


Grace be with you and peace from God, our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ

Have no fear, for I have redeemed you; I call you by your name; you are mine. – Is.43,1

Collect:
O God our defender, when storms rage about us and cause us to be afraid, rescue your people from despair, deliver your sons and daughters from fear, and preserve us all from unbelief; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

 

In heavenly love abiding

In heavenly love abiding,
no change my heart shall fear;
and safe is such confiding,
for nothing changes here;
the storm may roar without me,
my heart may low be laid;
but God is round about me,
and can I by dismayed?
Wherever He may guide me,
no want shall turn me back;
my Shepherd is beside me,
and nothing can I lack;
his wisdom ever waketh,
his sight is never dim;
He knows the way He taketh,
and I will walk with him.

Green pastures are before me,
which yet I have not seen;
bright skies will soon be o’er me,
where the dark clouds have been:
my hope I cannot measure,
my path to life is free:
my Saviour has my treasure,
and He will walk with me.­
                                                Anna Laetitia Waring (1820-1910)

 

Mk.4,35-41

Dear friends

Jesus’ command to the disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side’, given actually when evening came rather than at a time when the crossing might have been safer, is quite rightly understood when it reminds us that church and faith as fellowship with Christ is a matter of journeying, not of settling down and settling in. It is a reaching for what is to come; the mind is on God and the things of God, not the seen but the unseen. Being church and having faith is being on the way, is being on a pilgrimage. “For here we do not have an enduring city, but we are looking for the city that is to come.” (Hebr.13,14) We recognise that the world in a very important way is not our home but the place of preparing us for our true home as we serve God and seek his kingdom. Jesus taught those who would follow him that they would share his experience with regard to this world of being homeless in it: “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” (Lk.9,58) The journeying will be through changing circumstances and happen under varying, often challenging conditions.
In many ways this is counter to, and may even collide with, what’s in us: our longing for permanence and for places to lay our head, for settled situations, for being at home with what we have here; it runs counter to our desire through planning to control developments and outcomes, and not least also with our desire to be free to go where we want.
Yes, Jesus’ words ‘Let us go’ don’t square up neatly and comfortably with such desires and longings, but they call church to be faithful, to follow him, trust and obey him as it faces changing circumstances and conditions which may often cause fear and threaten its purpose – to love and serve God.

Let us look at this passage as it shows us vital truths about the way of the church and the nature of faith in its calling to follow, trust and serve.

After obeying Jesus’ request to ‘go over to the other side’ the disciples soon find themselves in dire straits. A furious storm is threatening to bring everything to an unhappy conclusion. Neither life nor property is safe anymore and their very survival, it seems to them, is at stake.
It is not difficult, nor is it unrealistic or far-fetched, to find in this a description of the church’s experience, and that of faith, as it journeys with the Lord. The boat is being rocked by heavy seas: There is the problem of internal strife and rifts, a falling into sin and the accusation of guilt, a crisis of leadership, financial turmoil and pressure, unreconcilable differences about the way forward, despondency and lacklustre commitment, fear brought on by an uncertain future, facing adverse circumstances, falling numbers and threat of closure, a crisis of faith or a silent drifting away – things and events such as these threaten the life of church and faith.

The disciples, under great pressure, have to react. The question is: what reaction is truly salutary? Or, when is their reaction truly salutary? The answer is: When they turn to Jesus.
However, when they do so they find him asleep and have to wake him up! So you might ask, ‘What is this all about?’ Does it not say (Ps.121): “He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep”? But here the Lord does exactly that – slumber and sleep while everyone is in a state of panic! However, the fact that he is asleep in this moment of crises, and has let it evolve, provides the opportunity for the disciples to ask this vital question: “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” And it is a vital question because what they are asking in other words is this: “Have you no part in our distress and problem? Are you indifferent about the threat we are facing? Unsympathetic towards our weakness and frailty? Are you as lost as we are lost and cannot help?”
This question, you see, is a like a light-beam directed on to exactly what they need to see and grasp: namely, that he has part in their distress, their problem, frailty and lostness, that he is in their place facing what is threatening them; but that he is who he is – lost with them but not lost like them, and who can therefore bring their lostness to an end! Which is what the disciples then experienced: “He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.”

But that’s not all. Jesus in turn then asks the disciples something. And again it is a question that intends a vital insight: “He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” In other words what he asks them is:
“Why do you let your fears of what is threatening you carry you away, to thinking that the place of hope and trust is in yourself, to turning your minds away from my word as though it should fail you, letting your minds instead be ruled by your worry and what causes you to panic and lose your way? Do you still not believe that what threatens you threatens me and its dealing is with me? Do you still not believe that what I do and what I say, my work and my word, is for you and is your strength to do what I ask you to and what is needed – to do the will of your Father in heaven whom winds and waves must obey, and do, and so not perish – not at all! – but live?”

The disciples are terrified, understandably, at both what they see and what they hear, and do not answer Jesus’ question. But they ask each other a question which points the way to how they will come to and will be in a place where they shall not be afraid and shall believe – such as to be free to follow, trust and obey. They asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and waves obey him!” The question is, then, and the key: Do they know him?!

Dear friends, do you know him? Do you know him who “being in very nature God” (Phil.2,6) let himself be threatened in the way you are, and bore your sin and death so that you might live? Do you know him who made his place with the lost so as to save them? Do you know him who has conquered sin and death and says: Don’t be afraid; just believe (Mk.5,36)? Do you know him who becomes the life of those who follow, trust and obey? To see and learn, by seeking and asking, who the Lord Jesus is and what you have in him, is being on the way. He lives and is no further away from anyone than is his word.
Of a life-plan that is self-driven and self-seeking, captive to fear and sin and oppressed by it, and careless of the will of God, there are myriads of various versions. The only true alternative is the life plan the vision of which is to know the Lord.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in haven and on earth derives its name. I pray that our of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Eph.3,14-19) AMEN

- time of prayer / intercession – [ we give thanks for God’s mercy and faithfulness, for the compassion and steadfast love he has for all that he has made, that all his judgments are just and righteous, that he is our refuge and the helper of all who call to him;
we pray for those who have become ill, are fighting illness or are recovering from it, for those who care for the needs of others; for those in positions of leadership and authority: that they may rule wisely and seek peace, that they may guard the values by which a society can flourish, that they may lead with courage and wisdom, for a turning to the light that is God’s Word; for those who have lost loved ones, need comfort into their grieving and the loving presence of friends; we give thanks for all the help we have received and still experience, for grace and answered prayers; we pray for the despondent and the hopeless, for those who seek light, for the wisdom to comfort the suffering; we pray for our sister church in Northern India and for the body of Christ worldwide and here, for our church, the church’s leadership; we think of the situation in India, Nepal and other places, the suffering of the people there and elsewhere, the attempt of the authorities to regain control; we give thanks for the help that is being delivered; we pray for the situation in Israel, the rift between the Palestinians and the Jews;  for perseverance in the determination to share our means with those who lack them; we pray for God’s blessing on the preaching and teaching of His word, for people to respond in repentance and faith, for freedom and liberty and courage to stand for what is good and true and honours His name; ]

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen

Now to him who loved us, gave us every pledge that love could give, freely shed his blood to save us, gave his life that we might live, be the kingdom, power and glory and thanksgiving evermore.

And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you. AMEN

 

2nd Sunday after Trinity, 13th June 2021, Haddington West with Garvald and Morham          

                                  

‘The kingdom: God in charge’


Grace be with you and peace from God, our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ

If Christ is in you, the Spirit is your life. – Rom.8,10

Collect:
Almighty God, without you we are not able to please you. Mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

The kingdom of God
is justice and joy,
for Jesus restores
what sin would destroy;
God’s power and glory
in Jesus we know,
and here and hereafter
the kingdom shall grow.

The kingdom of God
is mercy and grace,
the captives are freed,
the sinners find place,
the outcast are welcomed
God’s banquet to share,
and hope is awakened
in place of despair.

The kingdom of God
is challenge and choice,
believe the good news,
repent and rejoice!
His love for us sinners
brought Christ to His cross,
our crisis of judgment
for gain or for loss.

God’s kingdom is come,
the gift and the goal,
in Jesus begun,
in heaven made whole;
the heirs of the kingdom
shall answer his call,
and all things cry, ‘Glory!’
to God all-in-all.

Bryn Rees (1911 -83)

Mk.4,26-34

Dear friends

In these parables before us Jesus teaches vital truths regarding the kingdom of God. It is the central theme of Jesus’ ministry and the point of all he says and does. Which ought to make it clear to us that faith, which is the other great theme and corresponds to it, must be understood to be the way in which the kingdom of God operates and in which it is present.

How might we “translate” the expression ‘kingdom of God’ so as to bring out that it is ordered to faith and faith is ordered to it? One thing to help us here is to pose ourselves the question: “How does God come to be in charge – truly in charge - over my life, over his people? How does a new principle come to be at work in me, in his people, which results in obedience to his (the King’s) will?” For the words ‘kingdom of God’ suggest a state of affairs where God is in charge and his will is obeyed. And the place of this and the manner of it is faith. It is the faithful alone who can truly answer the question “Who is in charge here?” with the words: “God is!”

So Jesus’ parables here are about the all-important matter of how God comes to be truly in charge and savingly at work. In view here is not God’s governance over his creation, his sovereign control over all. In this respect there is no question of his being in charge. Nor is in view some form of political realisation of God’s rule through human institutions.
What is in view is the heart of man, our heart, and the question what has charge over it and what is at work in it. That such is in view comes out clearly in Jesus’ words: “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst (within you).” (Lk.17,21) Or in what Paul says to the church in Rome: “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Rom.14,17

What is envisaged when Jesus teaches the kingdom of God is (that there be) a people who do what Satan tried to tempt Jesus away from and what Jesus put to him in response: “Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only”; a people who are done – because they are set free from it – with being captive to the suggestive ways of sin and to the fear of death and to the drive of evil desires; a people whose ruling principle in the heart is love of God and of one’s neighbour; and a people who because such a new principles is at work in them have a sure stake in the coming world of God, will inherit the kingdom of God.
You have, perhaps, like me made the frustrating experience of waiting for a bus to take you home or to wherever your destination lay, only to find that when it finally came it drove straight past you, because it was, as the sign read, “Out of service”. According the biblical account so is the heart of man – it is “out of service” in regard to God. It runs for itself and where it wills, not heeding the destination for which it was made, going after all manner of idols as it serves created things rather than the Creator (Rom.1,25), and is lost to God’s will, purpose and destination – serving love in unblemished righteousness and godliness.

What features in the kingdom parables as the ripe corn growing from the scattered seed and “the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade” growing from the mustard seed “which is the smallest of all seeds on earth”, stands for the good works that proceed from the heart which is “in service”, from the heart, to use an earlier way of describing it, of which God has come to be truly in charge and in which a new God-born principle is at work. It also stand for the end that such engagement in good works leads to – resurrection and the coming of ‘the new heaven and new earth’ (for instance Rev.21,1) of God’s promise.

But now, dear friends, it is the burden of these parables, really, to say something about how God comes to be in charge and the heart to be “in service”. Jesus likens the kingdom of God to a process, to something that is operative, powerful and active. And the point of the first parable is the hiddenness of it. “He knows not how” the seed comes to be a fruit-bearing thing. God comes to be in charge we know not how – that is, our knowing and knowledge doesn’t do it, we don’t do it. Were we to think that it is down to us and the result of our works and our worrying and were we to teach that way, we would join those to whom Jesus says: “You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces.  You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” (Mt.23,13) God comes to be in charge in a hidden way. Yet this does not mean that he does so without means. The means are his word and prayer. Paul puts it well in his letter to the Corinthians: “What, after all, are we? Only servants through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow.” (1Cor.3,5.6)
The planting and watering refers to the gospel of Jesus Christ through the word of God, preached and taught and heard with prayer. And so God is at work in a hidden way through the word that proclaims Jesus Christ as the Saviour who redeems us from the powers of sin and death and who brings the Spirit of God who dwells in us.

Dear friends, let not the seeming smallness and weakness of God’s word, by which faith lives, deceive you into thinking that God’s kingdom comes and grows in ways other than through Christ by the Spirit, or that God does not come to take charge and instil a new principle in the heart that honours his word. Yes, let us put our hope and confidence in God’s word. For where Christ is, there God is at work, to heal, redeem and save – to make and complete his new creation which says rejoicingly “in service”.
                                                AMEN

 

Lord God, to whom belongs the kingdom and the power and the glory, whose throne is firmly established in heaven and is founded on righteousness and justice – to you be all glory.
Not through coercive measures do you set us free that we may serve you, but in mercy through judgment and grace through Jesus Christ.  And in him through faith we are heirs with him of your kingdom. Grant us by your Holy Spirit in repentance and faith to make use of your word by which these things are held out to us and does your work within us, so that the good works that you have prepared for us to do may issue from our heart to the praise and glory of your name. Amen

 

- time of prayer / intercession – [ we give thanks for God’s mercy and faithfulness, for the compassion and steadfast love he has for all that he has made, that all his judgments are just and righteous, that he is our refuge and the helper of all who call to him;
we pray for those who have become ill, are fighting illness or are recovering from it, for those who care for the needs of others; for those in positions of leadership and authority: that they may rule wisely and seek peace, that they may guard the values by which a society can flourish, that they may lead with courage and wisdom, for a turning to the light that is God’s Word; for those who have lost loved ones, need comfort into their grieving and the loving presence of friends; we give thanks for all the help we have received and still experience, for grace and answered prayers; we pray for the despondent and the hopeless, for those who seek light, for the wisdom to comfort the suffering; we pray for our sister church in Northern India and for the body of Christ worldwide and here, for our church, the church’s leadership; we think of the situation in India, Nepal and other places, the suffering of the people there and elsewhere, the attempt of the authorities to regain control; we give thanks for the help that is being delivered; we pray for the situation in Israel, the rift between the Palestinians and the Jews;  for perseverance in the determination to share our means with those who lack them; we pray for God’s blessing on the preaching and teaching of His word, for people to respond in repentance and faith, for freedom and liberty and courage to stand for what is good and true and honours His name; ]

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen

Now to him who loved us, gave us every pledge that love could give, freely shed his blood to save us, gave his life that we might live, be the kingdom, power and glory and thanksgiving evermore.

And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you. AMEN

 

Communion Sunday 06 June 2021, Haddington West with Garvald and Morham    

                                

‘Penitence: Who to wait for and why’


Grace be with you and peace from God, our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ

If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, then the God who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give new life to you through his indwelling Spirit.  – Rom.8,11

Collect:
Almighty merciful God, you have assured the human family of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Deliver us from the death of sin and raise us to new life in him, who live and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

Father God, the Lord, Creator

1  Father God, the Lord, Creator,
    by whose hand we all are fed,
    in Your mercy re-create us
    at the breaking of the bread.

2  Christ our Lord, be present with us,
    risen victorious from the dead!
    In Your mercy may we know You,
    in the breaking of the bread.

3  Holy Spirit, God’s empowering,
    by whose life the Church is led;
    in Your mercy, send us strengthened
    from the breaking of the bread.

4  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
    hear our praises – sung and said.
    From our hearts comes our thanksgiving
    for the breaking of the bread.

Words by John Richards

Psalm 130

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD; 2 Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. 3 If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? 4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
5 I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope. 6 I wait for the LORD more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning.
7 Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. 8 He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.

 

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, LORD

I am grateful, Lord God, to have these words. They give me a voice when I didn’t think I had one or would hope to raise it before you.  I am filled with fear and worry about many things. Much lies in darkness that I wish I could see. The remembrance of the missed opportunities of love and faith lies heavy on my conscience, acts of careless pride and selfishness I know attach to my name as it is known to you. Worst, I can’t seem to help being distrustful of your word, sceptical towards your promises and suspicious of your goodness. Desires for what is not right nor good keep running away with me and I lose my way. I have neglected your will and gone against it, nor can I say in my defence that I didn’t know. And now I serve another will, one which takes away my freedom to walk in your way. When I consider that you are holy and just, that you can not even so much as look at sin, the depths become even more imposing. The more clearly I see that you are holy, the more clearly I see how far short of this I fall (how deep indeed that fall!). Can I come before you, living and almighty God, when all I can present to you is the cry: “Have mercy on me, a sinner”?

 

2 LORD, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy

Lord God, the guilt of my sin is no longer a light matter, brushed aside with a quick acknowledgment of grace and a bit of religious wordery. How such a thing makes a mockery of your name! And how such a thing would leave in place sin’s hold over me! I have abused your name in word, thought and deed, and have I now any right to call upon it? Any right to be heard?
Yet I need you to hear my voice and reach down to me, and have nothing for it other than that you are merciful. I draw on the hope – for which you yourself give reason! – that you help the helpless who call on you, not because of any merit in them but because of the mercy that is in you.

 

3 If you, LORD, kept a record of sins, LORD, who could stand?

Lord God, without your mercy my sin must remain and forever keep me captive. If in your mercy you do not save, I must remain lost.

 

4 But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you

Lord, but you are the Saviour-God and yours are ways to put our sins away from us. And when you do, it is so that we may abandon the ways in which we walk which are contrary to your will. By your mercy we find the beauty and power of your gift of forgiveness of sins, whereby the heart learns to love and serve you and darkness retreats as at the coming of light.

5 I wait for the LORD, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope

I leave to one side the cheap offers and words that promise relief and ease without addressing -or if, only lightly - the problem of the guilt of my sin and the need to hear God speak the word of forgiveness. I need his word and I need it with all my being, for the burden of my sin is the longing to serve him with all my being. So I wait and let nothing dislodge my hope from where I have put it and where it belongs – in his word.

 

6 I wait for the LORD more than the watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning

There is no exaggerating the importance of waiting for the LORD, of insisting and hoping that he will turn in mercy to the sinner and make a way to reinstate him to full fellowship, to life in the light and heights of grace and peace. And neither is there exaggerating the compassion and faithfulness of God which ensure that all such waiting is crowned with success.

 

7.8 Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins

Therefore, let us all be pointed to Israel’s God, who came to his people to show them his unfailing love and offer them full redemption, as he did through his Son Jesus Christ who bore in his body God’s judgment on sin and was raised from the dead to be once and for all God’s word of forgiveness to all who call on him. Salvation is indeed from the Jews for it was through the Jewish people that came the One (descending as far as the depths would go!) who is the Saviour of all: “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4,12)
There is no depth so deep that his love and grace is not deeper still, that his ear cannot hear and his hand cannot reach and save. Christ, the Lord, is the ‘here and now’ of God’s redeeming purpose and will. Let us ‘seek the LORD while he may be found, and call on him while he is near.’
                                                                                                                                                                                AMEN

With all my heart I thank you, Lord.
With all my heart I thank you, Lord.
For this bread and wine we break,
for this sacrament we take,
for the forgiveness that you make,
I thank you, Lord.

With all my soul I thank you, Lord.
With all my soul I thank you, Lord.
For this victory that you’ve won,
for this taste of things to come,
for this love that makes us one,
I thank you, Lord.

With all my voice I thank you, Lord.
With all my voice I thank you, Lord.
For the sacrifice of pain,
for the Spirit and the flame,
for the power of you name,
I thank you, Lord.

Words: Paul Field

- time of prayer / intercession – [ we give thanks for God’s mercy and faithfulness, for the compassion and steadfast love he has for all that he has made, that all his judgments are just and righteous, that he is our refuge and the helper of all who call to him;
we pray for those who have become ill, are fighting illness or are recovering from it, for those who care for the needs of others; for those in positions of leadership and authority: that they may rule wisely and seek peace, that they may guard the values by which a society can flourish, that they may lead with courage and wisdom, for a turning to the light that is God’s Word; for those who have lost loved ones, need comfort into their grieving and the loving presence of friends; we give thanks for all the help we have received and still experience, for grace and answered prayers; we pray for the despondent and the hopeless, for those who seek light, for the wisdom to comfort the suffering; we pray for our sister church in Northern India and for the body of Christ worldwide and here, for our church, the church’s leadership; we think of the situation in India, Nepal and other places, the suffering of the people there and elsewhere, the attempt of the authorities to regain control; we give thanks for the help that is being delivered; we pray for the situation in Israel, the rift between the Palestinians and the Jews;  for perseverance in the determination to share our means with those who lack them; we pray for God’s blessing on the preaching and teaching of His word, for people to respond in repentance and faith, for freedom and liberty and courage to stand for what is good and true and honours His name; ]

‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen

Now to him who loved us, gave us every pledge that love could give, freely shed his blood to save us, gave his life that we might live, be the kingdom, power and glory and thanksgiving evermore.

And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you. AMEN