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