Welcome & Announcements
Call to Worship
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed are those who honour God!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!
Blessed are they who follow Jesus to Calvary
Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed are we who hope to rise with Him in glory. Hosanna to the Son of David!
Hymn 364 – All glory, laud and honour
Lord Jesus, you enter our lives humbly,
Riding on a donkey, staying at our level, inviting our response. Circle our hearts, centre our minds, still our bodies. Be present to us now.
God of majesty and mercy,
we worship today, as the Cross looms larger on the horizon. We praise you for Jesus, who came in humility to free us from captivity. He came in mercy to free us from the sins we recognize in ourselves,
and the sins we easily overlook. He came to show us the full extent of your mercy, love and justice.
So we praise you for your kindness and the strength you show to lift our burdens and shoulder them for us in Christ Jesus. Receive our worship in Christ’s name and for his sake.
As we ponder your parade, we confess that we’ve failed to understand You. We’ve acclaimed you as king without thinking about what You mean by kingship. We jump from Palm Sunday to the empty tomb but skip Golgotha. We sing hosanna and hallelujah but forget your pain and passion. Forgive us O Wounded King, give us time to change, that as we follow You, we learn to count the cost of Your terrifying triumph.
Jesus says, ‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends’. Jesus brings light to those in darkness, forgiveness to those who truly confess, and pardon to all who seek to follow Jesus. We are a forgiven people.
Blessing of Palms
Lord Jesus, in the fullness of time You came to show us how to live, challenged the powers, upset the religious, worried the authorities, and on this day, entered your city as its rightful king. The people acclaimed you with joyful shouts and strewn palms. May we acclaim You as our king, and follow You in Your work.
Holy One, bless now these palms, let them remind us of the ways in which Jesus unsettled the status quo and showed a different way of being royal. As we keep these palms at home, remind us of the radical nature of Your call to us, now and evermore, Amen.
Readings – Isaiah 50: 4-9a (pg 737)
Matthew 21: 1-11 (pg 988)
Hymn 367 – Hosanna, loud hosanna
Sovereign Lord, as we approach Holy Week, help us to enter into the story of Christ’s passion. May we understand in some small way the sacrifice He made for us, as we join with those of old saying "Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord". Amen
What kind of King are you, Lord? We’ve got a king again now; and we’ve known of kings for years. Kings wear crowns, have retainers and flunkeys, command armies, live in unimaginable wealth, have stories fed to the press to keep the positive news flowing – though that doesn’t always work of course. Kings have families who we are taught to honour and respect. Kings have security – discreet agents, hidden weapons, and security vetting.
Yet none of that seems to be accurate for you. You were born in a stable, not a palace. Your first years were spent in exile not private school. You didn’t wear a crown – you seemed to own nothing except your clothes. When you were crowned it was with thorns as a cruel mockery of your reign. You had disciples not flunkeys – and some of them weren’t very reliable. You had no armies to command, no weapons to rely on. No press in your day of course but I can’t imagine you having stories planted on the sly. You had heaven’s armies to protect you - but they didn’t do a good job now did they? What type of king are you. Lord?
What type of priest are you. Lord? We know about priests – though we have lots of different names for them – ministers, vicars, pastors– but the job’s the same. They look holy, often wear odd clothing, tell of God’s actions, be a bit distant, mix with the right people. They have to balance being radical with being careful, navigate difficult people with tact. They have to be creative in liturgy honouring both tradition and change.
Yet none of that seems to be accurate for you. We don’t know where you trained but your command of the Bible and its teachings is second to none. You didn’t seem to look that holy, you didn’t keep that professional distance that ministers are supposed to have. You really mixed with the wrong people – sex workers, collaborators, and dirty gentiles. And what about tact? You really can’t call people “white washed tombs” and get away with it! You can’t call the king a “fox”! You seemed to sit fast and loose with tradition – stretching laws to breaking points, reinventing liturgy, bringing new meanings and offering mystery not always explanation. What type of priest are you, Lord?
What type of leader are you Lord? Leaders have to be slick, they need mission statements and visions for the future. They have focus groups quietly working out what’s the best way to get a hearing. Leaders now avoid saying what they really think but want, instead, to please their base. Leaders offer cheap tricks where they blame outsiders for the ills of the world and build themselves up. Leaders need to be popular – don’t you know that Lord?
Yet none of this seems to be accurate for you. That nice rich guy who wanted to follow you – you told him to give away all that he had! Come on, wouldn’t a nice donation have been good enough? Your message is memorable, I’ll give you that, but would it get through a focus group. Turn the other cheek? Love your enemies? If asked for our coat we have to give our shirt as well! See you in the poor and naked and hungry and imprisoned! You didn’t seem to please your base either – you were nasty to the Pharisees and often told Jewish people that gentiles were more righteous than them. You didn’t find a scapegoat for social problems did you Lord? Look where that ended you up. What type of leader are you Lord?
The type of king, the type of priest, the type of leader, who would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey and not on a war horse, who could have summoned the people to mount the barricades, but rather presented peace. The type who would accept betrayal and denial of friends and still forgive, who would accept the taunts and jeers of soldiers intent on humiliating him, before carrying the cross through the streets of Jerusalem. The type who stretched out his arms wide as nails were hammered through flesh as he would hang on the Cross. The type who loved the world so much, he would go through even death for our sakes. ‘Amazing love, how can it be? That thou, my God, shouldst die for me!’
As we walk through Holy week, let us reflect on the passion of our Lord and how far he went for you and for me.
Hymn 399 – My song is love unknown
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
we ask you to bless our gifts, of time, talent, and treasure, that we may use them wisely, and that we may be freed from our need to worry, and come to trust You, who count every hair on our heads.
God of courage and compassion,
as we follow Jesus toward the Cross this holy week,
we give you thanks that he faced his enemies with courage, not violence. We are grateful he loved us enough to die for us, bearing every pain and sorrow others inflicted.In Christ we trust that your love has power in every situation, even the most troubling or tragic. So hear us as we bring to you the people and places facing trouble and tragedy this day.
Eternal One, before the ages You loved our world and all that is in it, you formed us from stardust, and set us in this place, giving us all that we need to sustain life and flourish. Teach us, O Most High, to live in harmony with creation, to cherish what You have given us, that we may understand and reverse climate change where we can and learn to live with a new climate where we can’t. In Your mercy, God, hear our prayer.
Crucified One, we bring before all those who are tortured today, and those who torture; we pray for those humiliated, those who are condemned to death this day, and those who condemn them. Give us grace to understand your victory, that we may challenge the powers that seek to rule our world, and remind them, and us, that they stand defeated. In your mercy, God, hear our prayer.
Powerful One, we bring before you the crowds and peoples of our age, swayed by social media, charismatic leaders, and corrupt politicians, as easily as the crowds in Jerusalem were so long ago. We think of those who protest for democracy in Israel. Help us to stand firm when we waver, help us to maintain truth when all around are lies, help us to love when the voices bay for hatred. In your mercy, God, hear our prayer.
O Most High, in silence we bring to you places of pain and people in need…. Accept our prayers, Eternal One, for the sake of Your son, our saviour, Jesus Christ
God of courage and compassion, thank you for your love that never lets us go. Amen
Hymn 365 – Ride on, ride on
Go with courage to face the days ahead.
May the Christ who walks on wounded feet walk with you on the road.
May the Christ who serves with wounded hands stretch out your hands to serve.
May the Christ who lives with a wounded heart open your hearts to love.
Welcome & Announcements
Call to Worship
With wisdom and generosity,
God created us.
With grace and compassion,
Jesus embraces us.
With ideas and inspiration
The Holy Spirit transforms us.
Let us worship God.
Hymn 238 – Lord, bring the day to pass
maker of colour, sound, texture, movement,
and the ceaseless beauty in living things, we bless you.
maker of granite and mustard seed, of grey cloud and starlight, of earthquake and heartbeat, we bless you.
maker of all that is unseen, of all that has been,
of all that words could never capture, we bless you.
We, the children of your love,
the beneficiaries of your kindness,
the guardians of your creation, bless you.
God challenges us, God encourages us. God confronts us, and God accepts us. God forgives. God works wonders in our midst and gives us eyes, hearts, souls, to cherish life.
We are grateful, Creator God,
for all the benefits extracted from land and sea,
for all the people who have risked their lives for our comfort, our health, our wealth, our mobility.
Yet we confess before you our lack of care for the earth, our exploitation of its resources, our pollution of its rivers, our lack of foresight for the future:
Lord have mercy upon us.
Christ have mercy upon us.
Lord have mercy upon us
Help us to amend our ways and be good stewards of your creation.
Readings – Psalm 8 (pg 546)
Luke 19: 11-27 (pg 1053)
Hymn 181 – For the beauty of the earth
O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! We thank you for your creation that surrounds us reminding us of our place in your plan, confident that all is safely in your hands. As we go out into the world, surrounded by your love and care, help us to be like the good servant in all that we do each day. Amen
You did good making this planet!
It’s beautiful, amazing –
from tiny wriggly things,
to trees and mountains,
and people of all races,
For the mess we make.
The whole me first,
humans are tops thing;
the rows, and the violence,
no feeling for being part
of something so much bigger.
We can’t see how to do it,
how to undo the mess we’ve made,
how to work together.
How to love your way,
earth and sea and human,
and how we fit together.
Find a gentle way,
give stuff up, take things on;
live a way of healing?
Reminds me now of Jesus,
his inclusive way of love.
The Wow moment ….and then the realisation that we need to do much better. We get the Wow factor when we watch programmes like David Attenborough’s Wild Isles. For those who haven’t seen it, it focuses on the nature and wildlife of the British isles and presents stunning photography of orcas and squirrels and wood ants and murmuration of starlings, while the backdrop of the hills and forests and water has encouraged a surge in holiday bookings. The photography is painstaking, as weeks, months, even years are spent to capture that one shot.
Of course, we have the Wow factor every day, living where we do, with hills changing colour, trees blossoming, plants growing, birds and pheasants and deer and some creepie crawlies as well. We are very fortunate. But we can never take it for granted, and our 5th mark of mission is to care for creation or, more fully, to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation, and sustain and renew the life of the earth.
We read Psalm 8, and we thrill at the majesty of God the creator, whose greatness can be seen in the wonder of the universe. We feel our insignificance as human beings in comparison with the rest of creation, but the psalmist affirms us as created in God’s image and who have been given the task, as mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis of looking after the earth, of being responsible for creation as good stewards. And that is where the Wow factor begins to fade, for we realise how far short we have fallen, what a mess we have made.
In an Attenborough programme, the world looks stunning, but he is very cutting in his appraisal, as he notes the tiny percentage of the land given over to forests, of habitat destroyed and species dying out. He poses the question whether we have left it too late.
In the parable of the talents, we read today, the master makes a journey and leaves his servants with a responsibility to look after his property and gives them so many coins. Against the odds he returns and summons the servants to give an account. One has invested the money and made ten times the amount, the next five times, but the third has dug a hole and hidden it, as he feared the master so much. He is condemned for failing to even put the money in the bank to earn interest. I always find this a difficult parable, as from an early age I sympathised with the third servant and still do today. He had obviously felt bullied and belittled by the master, and at least didn’t squander the money. But still he stands condemned. Does the master who becomes the king relate to Jesus, who at the end will ask to give an account of ourselves? There’s the rub. For the parable is about stewardship and how well we use the gifts we have for the kingdom and, in our context with our 5th mark of mission, how well we care for creation. Do we hide, not our money in the ground, but our heads in the sand? Are we fearful about climate change but do nothing about it, maybe because it doesn’t impact us to so great an extent? Yet the climate emergency is real, and the people who suffer most are those in countries in the Global South, who have done least to cause the damage to our world. In the Pacific with rising sea levels, in Mozambique with cyclones and rain causing chaos, in Pakistan with flooding or the Horn of Africa with drought, all of which are life threatening. Half the world’s population live in regions vulnerable to climate change.
The call to care for creation is not about appreciating the wonder of the world but making an effort to do something about it, as individuals, as a community and as a church. Yes, we are good now at recycling. We have become more frugal, better at mending clothes and shoes rather than buying something new. We have become more conscious of our carbon footprint but need to do far more. We are called to be more energy conscious, as we aim for a low carbon economy. We have been indiscriminate in plundering the resources of the earth; we need to care for the earth more gently and, conscious that Holy Week approaches, acknowledge our responsibilities as Christians, without the need for a reminder from a crowing cockerel!
Hymn 243 – Touch the earth lightly
We believe that this is God’s world
and all that lives on it;
We believe that living gratefully
and giving generously are marks of faith.
We believe that all of humanity
should have equal access to the earth’s resources,
And that every individual must now act
to preserve this world
so that the children of tomorrow
will not be burdened by the mistakes of today.
And so we commit ourselves
to think globally, to trade fairly, to live responsibly,
and to love this world as it is loved by God,
who in Christ became one with creation.
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
We place our gifts into your hands, O God. With the power of your Holy Spirit make them seeds of new life, springing up with hope and healing for weary souls. In Jesus’ name we pray.
You are the source of all that is, creating and sustaining every living thing. You are the source of all food, material and spiritual, nourishing us in both body and soul. You are the river of life for our thirst.
You love the world so much that you sent your only Son. May we be filled with your breath, nourished by your food, renewed by your living water and sustained by your love.
Creator God, we give thanks
that we have heard the Spirit of God in the freshening leaves and the rush of water.
So we pray for the creation which nourishes and sustains all that lives. Renew in us the sense of its value that we may not squander its riches, or so bend it to our will that we find we have destroyed it.
We pray for all whose experience of water is not of blessing but of curse; as the monsoon rains fall relentlessly from the skies, as rivers burst their banks, bridges are swept away and dams crumble,
as ice-caps melt and flash floods sweep down
carrying destruction over innumerable miles,
there is water everywhere, and none of it is clean.
We see thirst that can find only filthy water to drink,
waterborne and skin diseases, polluted with chemicals or rubbish.
We pray for all in the horn of Africa caught up in drought, seeing their crops shrivel before their eyes. We think of those in Malawi and Mozambique caught up in a cyclone with torrential rain. For Pacific islanders worried about their future, as their homes sink beneath the waves.
We pray for all who make important decisions about reducing greenhouse gases and being more ecologically friendly, that we may truly care for your creation.
As always, we continue to pray for an end to the pointless war in Ukraine: we pray for those who stand and fight to defend their homes, land and way of life. we pray for those who have lost loved ones and we pray for those who have died. When a solution seems so far away, when men with power intimidate and bully for their own gain, when normal lives are destroyed so pointlessly, when posturing and self-adulation seem to fill the headlines: God of peace, we do pray for Your loving peace to bring hope to this dreadful mess.
God of relationships: we bring to You those who are in fractured relationships, those who feel unsafe in their own homes, those who are excluded by the community they live in, those who have had to run for safety, those who find venturing out of the front door is just too much. We pray that You will be with them, and with us as we continue to live out your love.
We pray for the communities we belong to. We see the challenges, the pains, the aching sadnesses - and we also see the joys and opportunities. You created a community founded in love, help us to make communities that are more Jesus-shaped.
Loving God, we pray for ourselves and those we love. We also pray for those we struggle with – for those we avoid and cross the road so we don’t have to connect with. Loving God be with all of us – be in the challenges and the joys and give us Your peace. We are connected to so many people, locally and far away. In these moments of quietness, we offer to You our own private prayers for people and places needing your love. Transforming God, accept these and all of our prayers in the name of Jesus. Amen
Hymn 533 – Will you come and follow me
Now go in peace
to enjoy the earth,
and care for creation
in partnership with God.
Welcome & Announcements
Call to Worship
When Israel was a child I loved him
Out of Egypt I called my son
I taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms
I led them with cords of kindness, with bands of love
I was like those who lift infants to their cheeks
I bent down to them and fed them
Hymn 172 – Sing for God’s glory
As a mother loves her child, so you love us.
You have watched over us from our birth,
Tenderly nurturing us, showering us with love.
You have given us strength in times of need, comfort in times of distress, guidance in times of uncertainty.
Whatever we have faced, you have been with us.
For that great truth, we praise and thank you.
God of love and mercy,
We confess that we have not always appreciated your love. We have ignored what you would teach us and disobeyed your instructions. We have taken you for granted and wandered far from your side. Forgive us.
Yet through all this, you are constant, caring for us and ready to sacrifice your all for our sakes and loving us with an unquenchable love. We thank you that we are your forgiven children.
Embrace us in your fierce love, enfold us in your protective care, calm our anxious worrying and still us, body, mind and spirit, to rest in you.
Readings – Amos 5: 13-5, 21-4 (pg 920 )
Luke 4: 14-21 (pg 1031)
Hymn 253 – Inspired by love and anger (vv 1,2,4,6)
Father God, today we especially thank you for all that our mothers gave us, from the moment we were born into this amazing life.
The news constantly reminds us of the brokenness of our world and for many families, life is more dangerous than ever before. We pray for healing among the nations; for food where there is hunger; for freedom where there is oppression; for joy where there is pain; and that your love may bring peace to all your children. Amen
Last weekend the BBC found itself in crisis, all because the presenter Gary Lineker reacted against Government policy about immigration in a tweet. He said what he thought, but as a presenter should he have remained impartial? Arguments were made for and against. Over the last few weeks the three candidates to be leader of the Scottish National Party have been debating issues, and while they may all be for independence, they differ greatly on a lot of other issues and as one of them might be First Minister, that affects us all.
Politics! We have our own opinions, some of which we hold very strongly, and even as Christians and as the Church we hold very differing views. Before devolution in 1999, the General Assembly was often seen as the nearest we could get to a Scottish parliament, and one of the most eagerly awaited days was when the Church & Nation committee presented their report. I remember as students we would go there early to secure a seat, as the assembly debated issues such as nuclear disarmament or medical ethics or debt cancellation or when the Guild reported on the motherhood of God, which maybe deserves a mention on Mothering Sunday! There were passionate speeches and some very close votes, because the Church was often divided over these issues. Some motions were defeated, only to be accepted several years later. It is amazing how views change over the years
Even today the church debates important issues, because they impact on everyday life. The Church can’t separate itself from politics. Over the last few weeks we have been looking at the marks of mission, and today we get to the 4th mark, which calls on the church to ‘transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and pursue peace and reconciliation’. It ties in with what we talked about last week, when we looked at the 3rd mark, loving service, when we reach out to the sick and disadvantaged. The 4th mark is really asking the question WHY people are going hungry or suffering and calling on the church to address it. It is what Christians have been doing down the centuries. The Wilberforces and indeed David Livingstone challenged the slave trade. Elizabeth Fry sought prison reform. Mary Slessor in Calabar challenging the practice of killing newly-born twins. So many have led the calls for freedom from oppression. In Nazi Germany, while some Christians colluded, there were others like Bonhoeffer who spoke out against the evil they saw, to the point of being executed themselves.
Archbishop Desmond Tutu was of course at the forefront of the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, and he talked about the Europeans coming to Africa. They had the Bible, and the Africans had the land. They said Let us pray, and when the Africans opened their eyes at the amen, the Africans had the Bible and the Europeans the land. But the Bible is explosive. Tutu talked of the danger of giving someone the Bible, because the Bible was filled with stories of fighting oppression; it was about a God who wasn’t neutral, but biased towards the poor and downtrodden and despised. We see it from the Hebrews being enslaved by Pharaoh, and God hearing their cries and calling Moses to confront Pharaoh and lead the people to freedom. God was on their side, and the laws given to the Israelites reflected that. About not coveting what didn’t belong to you. About looking out for the widow and orphan and stranger in their midst. About treating people fairly and with respect.
When the Israelites settled, God kept them to account through the prophets, people like Amos. Amos lived at a time of relative prosperity in Israel, when those with the means could live very comfortably and enjoy some luxuries . The problem was that not everyone had the means, and the prophet was forthright in his condemnation of those who lived a good life while not having a care that many others lived in abject poverty. It was complacency or maybe even indifference. They just didn’t care. But Amos looked around and saw corruption and cheating with measures and abuse and called the people to account, saying let justice roll down like a river and righteousness like a never-failing stream.
The prophets kept Israel in check. And in the Gospels we read how Jesus gave his manifesto at the start of his ministry, quoting from the prophet Isaiah and saying he would announce good news to the poor, to proclaim freedom to the prisoner and recovery of sight to the blind, to release the oppressed and declare the year of jubilee, when wrongs would be righted. This was radical stuff, and he would confront the religious and political powers of the day with an alternative way, which was the Kingdom of God.
As the church we are called to a radical way of living and to shape a just and fairer society, where all can be valued and respected for who they are. Pie in the sky? The saints down the ages didn’t think so and made a difference where they were. Augustine, one of the great theologians of the early Church, said that Hope has two daughters – Anger, at the way things are, and Courage, to put them right. We are a people of hope, who seek to advance Christ’s kingdom on earth. We bear Christ’s name, so we can’t ignore the ways of Christ. So as the Church we are called to shape our society with the kingdom values and to confront evil with good and work that peace and justice might prevail.
Hymn 473 – Thy kingdom come
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
the gifts we bring are so small in comparison to the vast needs in our world— nowhere near enough. Yet we bring what we can.
As You once multiplied the five small loaves and two fish, multiply these gifts as well, so that we can reach out with love and justice.
On this Mothering Sunday,
we celebrate and give thanks for the achievements of mothers and remember the women who have played a part in our lives. Those who have
nurtured us, taught us, inspired us, loved us.
As we acknowledge the challenges women still face,
we pray that all women may know equality
We pray that all women may know themselves to be
respected, safe, included, empowered.
But we also know that for some people this is a difficult day holding hurt, grief and perhaps anger. We pray that you will draw alongside those who are hurting today to comfort them and surround them with your tender care. We pray:
· for women and indeed men who grieve because they are unable to have the children they long for;
· for mother and fathers who grieve because, like Mary, they have had to see their child die too soon.
· for those who are cut off from their children by disappointment, anger or bitterness.
· for mothers who are worried or afraid for their child’s well-being or safety. We ask you, heavenly Parent, to bring healing, comfort, forgiveness and peace into the hearts and minds of hurting mothers.
We remember today all who are denied their basic human rights. For all who risk their lives to protest against totalitarianism and dictatorship. For those who are discriminated against because of their race or colour of skin, their religion, or their gender.
Let justice roll like a river and righteousness like an ever-rolling stream.
Be with the sick and those recovering from operations. With all who have lost loved ones and with the lonely, as in a moment of silence we bring those on our hearts before you. Amen
Hymn 710 – I have a dream, a man once said
Welcome & Announcements
Call to Worship
We gather in this place to worship
Yearning for the Holy Spirit to fill us
We come among our fellow believers
Trusting that God will touch our hearts
That we might serve others
And bring hope and healing to the world
Hymn 112 – God whose almighty word
Creator, Christ and Spirit
you provide what we need to live, from the bounty of creation. God of mercy, you know us through and through and you love us. God of hope, you have an everlasting purpose for us. God of wisdom,
you open our minds and teach and guide us.
So we come to worship you, Source of Wisdom, Son of Mercy, Spirit of Hope, offering you our prayers and our praise, trusting you to offer us the gifts we need to thrive and to serve you in the world you love.
O God, our great shepherd, tenderly you gather us as lambs, carrying us with your all-embracing love. Yet, like sheep, we wander from you; often following our own ways, sometimes ignoring your voice, at times distrusting your provisions. Forgive our wrongdoing, our hardened hearts, our lack of trust. Refresh us once again by your quiet waters of mercy and restore our souls by your redeeming love. Guide our paths, that we might follow you more closely Through Jesus Christ, our good shepherd, we pray.
Receive the good news of the gospel: in Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
Readings –Philippians 2: 1-11 (pg 1179 )
Mark 10: 46-52 (pg 1015)
Hymn 557 – O love that wilt not let me go
Father God, in many ways you have taught us that we can always trust you, even when it might seem that you are far from us. Give us spiritual sight and help us to remember your humility, even to death on the cross for our salvation. May we feel your loving presence as we go from this time of worship, confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord. Amen
A graduation is a big day, a celebration of years of study. Family and friends are dressed up to support the graduate. For Ryan it was such an achievement, but he reflected on his whole life and said, ‘If it hadn’t been for Rainbow House I wouldn’t be here today. I have got my family back, I have got my life back’. Ryan had been in a bad place. He lives in one of the housing estates on the periphery of Glasgow and had got involved with drugs big time. He became estranged from his family, as he spent everything to get his next fix. Fortunately the local church had a café providing cheap meals, which also doubled as a foodbank. The staff there had got to know Ryan and suggested he try to turn his life around and they mentioned Rainbow House which a Crossreach residential home in Glasgow for those suffering from a drug or alcohol addiction. Coming off any addiction can be a nightmare (Halterburn). It wasn’t easy for Ryan and there were setbacks, but somehow he came through it. To the extent that he decided he wanted to help others in a similar situation, so he went through training and now he was graduating. His life had turned around and now he works at Rainbow House.
Crossreach is the social arm of the Church of Scotland and has been around for 150 years. It is the largest non-statutory care provider in Scotland and does tremendous work, yet as a Church we don’t know enough about it. It offers such a range of services. The most well-known are perhaps the care homes for the elderly, which are all around Scotland, though I don’t think there are any in the Borders. However, Crossreach is involved in more than that, providing counselling services like the Tom Allan centre or supporting those coming out of prison or those with learning difficulties or those with dementia – such as an art project. The list goes on...! But it all stems from the Church reaching out to the vulnerable in society, to those on the margins. It is faith in action.
We have been looking at the marks of mission, the five marks that the Church is using to define mission in the 21st Century, and today we are onto the 3rd mark which is Loving Service. Right from the earliest days the Church saw a need to tend the less fortunate. In the book of Acts, the Church quickly appointed deacons to take care of the practical side of church life, and that included helping the poor and sick. It was there right from the beginning – and why? Because wherever Jesus went, he was filled with compassion when he saw those on the margins of society crying for help, crying to be heard. Those with leprosy, the paralysed, the blind, those wracked with guilt. So often they were just ignored, just like today, but Jesus noticed and Jesus did something about it. The name Jesus is short for Joshua and means ‘he saves’. He certainly saved Bartimaeus.
Bartimaeus was blind and begged from passers-by on the road to Jericho. But he wasn’t content with his lot. He had heard of Jesus and the miracles he had performed, and so when Jesus passed by, he shouted out. People told him to be quiet, but this was his one chance and he was taking it. ‘Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!’ He couldn’t see what the reaction was, apart from being told to stay in the margins, stay silent. Then Jesus spoke to him and asked what he wanted. Quick as a flash, he grabbed the opportunity and asked for his sight. He followed Jesus.
Jesus saw people in need and responded. In the early church there was a hymn to Jesus, which we read in Philippians: how Jesus’ nature was to empty himself and give of himself to the world, even to the point of death. He gave of himself to all who came seeking his mercy, right up to walking the road to the cross at Calvary, where he gave himself for the life of the world, saving humanity, even though it was we by our sins that nailed him to the cross. Paul encourages the congregation at Philippi to have the same mind as was in Christ, looking to the interests of others rather than their own self-interest. He has a vision of the life of the Christian community being formed by the spirit of humility and servanthood and self-giving that Jesus embodied and so reach out to serve others.
We are called to show that loving service and reach out to others who are hurting – and there are those who are hurting because of the Church and abuse they have suffered. In missions abroad the first things to be built were schools and hospitals; only after that were churches built. We show loving service through foodbanks and breakfast clubs and providing space for people to come together; through offering hospitality and giving lifts. The Guild does magnificently raising hundreds of thousands nationally for projects at home and abroad, while we raise money for Christian Aid and disaster appeals. As the Church we have to look beyond ourselves and to be part of our community and be part of our hurting world. As Jesus healed so many in body, mind and spirit, so we too are agents of healing and hope.
Hymn 718 – We cannot measure how you heal
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
Gracious God, you have given us each a unique set of gifts: physical health and strength to some; to others wit and cleverness. Some of us are born leaders; some prefer to follow; some of us are good with words; others speak through our actions. Help us to use our gifts for good and not for ill. May we use our strength to help other people, not to hurt them; our minds to enlighten, not deceive; our words to serve the truth and not distort it, to heal and not to harm. We give back to you the gifts that you have given us. Help us to use them well.
Living God, we turn to you now with our concerns for people, for places and for situations which are on our hearts today. As we long for your Kingdom to come and for fulness of life for all, we ask you to renew our trust and our hope and to show us how we can begin to answer some of our own prayers. We hold up to you those whose needs are most basic. Those who do not have clean water to drink or enough food to eat. Those who lack proper shelter or have no access to education, or health care. Those whose homes and livelihoods have been destroyed by war, by natural disaster, or by the violence, power plays and greed of others. Those who do not have a safe place to call home or a stable family and friends with which to share their lives. Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer
We thank you for the cool clear water that flows in mountain streams. We are conscious of the many ways in which humanity has polluted water courses, through overflows from industry, waste and treatment plants. Through plastic, chemicals, and rubbish. We know that many people have no clean water in which to bathe or even to drink and that pollution is destroying habitats and wildlife and choking the life from rivers, lakes and seas. We ask for a renewal of our habits leading to a renewal of habitats across our world.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer
We ask your blessing on all who are involved with Fairtrade, lifting before you the producers as they grow their crops and craft their works. Bless them in their endeavours and grant them wisdom and discernment as they make decisions about how to use the benefits of Fairtrade.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer
We pray for the Church, that your Spirit may bring us close to Christ and closer to each other. We ask your blessing on the work of Crossreach, for the staff of all the various centres as they give care to so many.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer
Be with all who are on the margins of society, all who struggle to have a voice and make themselves heard. Be with all who are sick in body or mind or spirit. Be with all waiting for operations. Bless all who have lost loved ones and are feeling lost themselves. We pray in silence for those whose names are on our hearts.
Hymn 458 – At the name of Jesus
Welcome & Announcements
Call to Worship
We open our hearts to receive God’s welcome
We open our hands to greet one another.
We open our lives to God’s invitation
To live in love and freedom.
Let us worship God
With heart and soul and mind
Hymn 645 – I am not ashamed to own my Lord
we enter this holy space in awe of all that you are
and all that we have yet to discover of you.
We bow humbly before you and acknowledge our gratitude to you for the life we are given.
You have created a universe for us to explore and to care for, a community to be part of
and an unconditional love revealed in your son, Jesus.
In this special season of Lent, we are reminded of how small a part we play in your bigger story.
Each one of us is special and unique, no matter what we think, we are loved by you and given a wealth of people and gifts to help us on our journey in life.
We rejoice that as part of the body of Christ we work together building your kingdom; as individuals we each have our part to play. No matter what part of the journey we are on we are meant to work together
to encourage and teach each other.
The gift of free will allows us
to make choices that sometimes we regret,
we come before you to confess our sins,
for times when we have made poor choices
for the times we have hurt anyone.
Help us to be humble enough
to apologise for our faults and failings and receive your forgiveness. Keep us humble, Lord, help us to be open to those who would guide us wisely, that we may grow daily into the people we were created to be.
Readings – Deuteronomy 6: 4-9 (pg 189 )
Matthew 28: 16-20 (pg 1001)
Hymn 527 – Lord, make us servants
Everlasting God, help us to love you with all our heart, soul and strength. May we show and share our love and our trust for you wholeheartedly today and throughout our Lenten journey. Amen
In Matthew’s gospel, the risen Jesus addresses the disciples and gives what is called The Great Commission – Go and make disciples of all nations and baptise them and teach them to obey all I commanded. And there is the 2nd Mark of mission – to teach, baptise and nurture. During this season of Lent we are looking at the 5 marks of mission, which the Church of Scotland has adopted as a means to define what mission is all about in the 21st Century. Last week we looked at the first mark – to proclaim the gospel. This week we have the 2nd mark, which is really about discipleship. For a disciple is a student or follower, someone who over a period of time learns from his or her teacher. So we are followers of Christ, listening to his words, looking at his example, following the path he laid, living as he wants us to live.
Jesus challenges us to live by a different set of priorities, one which requires us to love the lord our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our mind, as we read from Deuteronomy today. It is called the Shema, and often you do find it on doorposts to remember to love God. Jesus adds to that, to love our neighbours as ourselves, even the ones we don’t particularly like. That is radical. To be a disciple of Jesus means continually learning to be more Christlike and being disciplined in our choices.
The good news is that we don’t have to do it by ourselves. We live our discipleship in a community, which is the Church. We do discipleship together, supporting one another, encouraging one another, rejoicing together. Those with more experience help those who are newer in the community. That is nurture.
There was an interview on the radio earlier this week, and it was claimed that the secret to good health and well-being lay in having friends, people to relate to, people you can meet for coffee, people you could phone up in the middle of the night in an emergency. The point being made was that there are so many who don’t, and it affects their health. We all need to belong. That is the importance of village shops – people have someone to talk to. As the church we are a community of believers. We can rub each other up the wrong way at times, we have different backgrounds, different views, but so much in common and as a community of believers, we are there to support and encourage. That is why it is so important to welcome and to get involved.
In the Early Church, people were attracted to the message of Jesus, and the apostles had to have a way of teaching people to be good disciples of the Jesus. People coming from Judaism knew the Law, such as the Deuteronomy passage we read earlier. They had heard the Old Testament stories and could find from them pointers to Jesus. They already knew the moral law and what was required of a believer and so the journey into Christianity was somewhat easier. For a Gentile, however, it was different, and they had to disassociate oneself from pagan faith and practice, with emperor worship and different moral standard. It was a bit of a battle in the early church over this, with some wishing to restrict membership of the Church to those from a Jewish background, but those like Paul who opposed this eventually prevailed with their message that all were one in Christ, be they Jew or Gentile, slave or free. All belonged. In the early church, those coming for baptism were adults and there was a long period of preparation. I have mentioned before that in Zambia there were 36 lessons before baptism or confirmation for adults. We are quicker in Scotland!
But as we grow in faith, and we are always growing in faith, there is no retirement, we have to centre ourselves on God. That is what Jesus did. In the wilderness when he was being tempted, it would have been easy to succumb, but he was centred on God and on God’s word, and that helped him to resist. At the Garden of Gethsemane, he wrestled with what lay ahead, the way of the cross, but said, Your will, not my will be done. As disciples we keep God as our centre and have the community of believers to support us.
We are invited, encouraged, challenged, and called to join a band of disciples going back centuries, who for 2000 years have boldly shared God’s vision for the world. May God give us the boldness and the wisdom to share the vision, the hope and the possibility of God’s reign of love here in this place in 2023. Be bold! Let love shine for all the world to see! Go make a difference in our community and in our world.
Hymn 513 - Courage brother, do not stumble
Prayers of Dedication and Intercession
Generous God, giver of all things,
receive our offerings today.
As you poured out your love for us
by sending Jesus, may we pour out our love for you
by continuing to build the kingdom of which he spoke and taught, loving and serving, locally and globally.
Eternal One, Majesty, Word, Spirit, we bring to You the needs of our world, of our nations, of our church and of our own lives, knowing You hear our prayers, give us grace and inspire us to make a difference.
O God, ancient, yet ever young, we remember before you the places of pain in our world, countries at war, nations in chaos, leaders usurping power, the poor and the earth itself groaning with pain. We think of Israel and Palestine, of Yemen, of Nigeria. Bless with your wisdom those who work for peace. In particular we pray for those on the move this day, families fleeing war, terror and famine; youngsters fleeing repression and oppression, women seeking new lives for themselves and their children; open our hearts, our wallets and our borders to Your bedraggled people. (pause)
O God, embodied in Jesus, flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone, we bring to you own nations, those who can’t afford to pay their bills, workers no longer earning enough to live, NHS staff who are exhausted and feel devalued. We pray for the governments in London and Edinburgh as hard decisions are taken. Grant wisdom.
In this Fairtrade Fortnight, we pray for just and equitable trade between peoples, and that all may earn a fair wage for their work.
We pray for the sick and those awaiting operations. For the anxious, the lonely and the bereaved. We pray now for those whose needs you have placed on our hearts at this time.
We thank you for the saints who have gone before us, who are now with you in heaven. May they ever inspire us. Amen
Hymn 644 – O Jesus I have promised