The Chinese apparently have a saying: ‘Ask not to live in interesting times’. I well know how they feel. We certainly find ourselves living in the most challenging of times, when our normal way of living has been turned upside down by the Coronavirus. Many in our communities are already self-isolating, while the rest of us have to get used to ‘social distancing’. We are accumulating a new vocabulary. Whenever we watch the news, anxiety levels rise, as the seriousness of the situation becomes more apparent. It is, therefore, good to remember Jesus’ words in John 14:1 ‘Set your troubled hearts at peace. Trust in God always: trust also in me’, while in 1 Peter 5 we read ‘Cast your anxiety on God, because God cares for you’.
With the help of Graeme Watson, I am planning to send out a reflection every weekend, along with prayers. I also subscribe to a publication called ROOTS, which has resources for the weekly lectionary and have attached a copy of their reflection and prayers for this week’s lectionary. Please click here: www.rootsontheweb.com/adultsathome22mar
National Day of Prayer
We turn to god for help in difficult times, and the leaders of the various churches, including the Moderator, have issued an invitation to us to light a candle and place it in a window at 7pm on Sunday 22nd March. We are asked to "join in prayerful solidarity with this witness", describing the candle as "a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, the source of hope in this life." A picture of a candle from each of the KCT congregations is being placed on the Kelso Churches Together Facebook page. The following prayer can be used when lighting our candle:
For all that is good in life, thank you,
For the love of family and friends, thank you,
For the kindness of good neighbour and Samaritan stranger, thank you.
May those who are vulnerable, hungry or homeless, experience support,
May those who are sick, know healing,
May those who are anxious or bereaved, sense comfort.
Bless and guide political leaders and decision-makers, with wisdom,
Bless and guide health workers and key workers, with strength and well-being, Bless and guide each one of us, as we adapt to a new way of living.
And may the light shining from our windows,
across road and wynd, glen and ben, kyle and isle,
be reflected in our hearts and hands and hopes.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
This Sunday is of course Mothering Sunday, though plans for the day will have been radically altered, not least with the closing down of restaurants. It is a day when we focus on the parenthood of God. I especially love the passage from Hosea 11: 1- 4 which reflects the maternal side of God’s love: When Israel was a child I loved him...I taught him how to walk and took him in my arms’ It is a wonderful picture of how God loves us so unconditionally, even when we go wrong, and how God ever wants to draw us back into his love. This parental love is shown in the figure of the father of the prodigal son in Luke 15, ready to welcome us back with open arms. On this Mothering Sunday let us connect with and appreciate our families, even though some may be physically distant, but let us be conscious that all our relationships are but a partial reflection of the love God has for us, as he nurtures us, so that we grow in confidence and love. On Mothering Sunday, with the threat of the Coronavirus pressing on our minds, Isaiah speaks across the centuries: ‘Do not be afraid, you are mine, please do not fear, I know that it can be hard, but I am here with you. You are very precious to me. Peace’.
(I am especially grateful to Margaret McTavish for writing prayers for this Sunday, which I attach below)
PRAYER OF ADORATION AND CONFESSION
Almighty God, we gather today under a viral cloud, yet we come in wonder and gratitude.
Wonder for all the beauty that You have created;
For the gentle hills and valleys that surround us here;
For the many places of incredible splendour throughout our world.
Wonder too, for the ever-changing seasons..... and the joys to be found in each one.
As daffodils bloom, leaves on trees unfurl, and crops begin to grow, we see once more the glory of creation around us.
And we give thanks for the bountiful goodness of each new day, the life-giving properties of sunshine and rain, light and shade and clean fresh air.
We confess that we do not always value the things that we should.
We can be slow to trust, quick to make judgement;
to let the hasty word fall from lips that can immediately regret, yet find difficult to make amends.
Forgive us, Father, for the wrong that we do and the hurt that we cause.
Help us to reflect carefully on the words of the prayer that Jesus taught us
THE LORD'S PRAYER
PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING AND INTERCESSION
We bring before You in prayer, all who are Mums;
those who would have loved to be Mums and all who have been loved by Mums.
We give thanks for all that we were taught, as children, at a mother's knee;
for all the careful nurture we were given as we were growing;
for the help and guidance as we made our way into the world outside of home;
and for the sharing of joy and sorrow as we continued on our chosen path.
We are aware of the sacrifices that most mums make for their young ones.
We remember too, all mothers who sadly grieve for a child or children.
May they know Your Peace.
We think of all the families struggling with poverty and difficult situations in this country,
also families fleeing from wars abroad.
Especially we pray for the families of Syria.
May they know Your Mercy.
This day, we give thanks for our mothering churches and for all who taught us the Bible stories
when we were young, who nurtured, encouraged and led us into faith.
Father We bring to You now all who are sick in mind or body;
all who are facing adversity, or difficulties this week; those making decisions;
those suffering loneliness; those who are in hospital or care home;
and all who are grieving
Be near to them, console them and may they they know
your presence in their time of need.
We ask Your Blessing on doctors, nurses, and paramedics caring for patients;
and all who are working so hard to control this pandemic,
We pray that they be given strength and resilience to carry on.
A moment more we pray, to name in our hearts our loved ones.
All these things we pray in Jesus' name,