Life and Work, the monthly magazine of the Church of Scotland, is available online from £1.99 or take out a digital or print subscription. Thought provoking articles and a connection with the wider Church, more important than ever during the pandemic. Find out more on this link:
HAPPY NEW YEAR
(An acrostic poem where the first letter of each line
spells out the title of the poem)
Heaven’s gift of another year
As the old departs and the new is born,
Plans for a future and a hope
Preparing us for each new dawn.
Yesterday has gone forever,
New days and ventures lie ahead,
Even darkness turns to light
When we make the Lord our head.
Yielding to the Holy Spirit
Ever mindful that He’s there,
As we live our lives before Him
Rejoicing in His loving care.
By Megan Carter
A New Year’s resolution-prayer – following in His footsteps
Almighty eternal, just and merciful God, grant us the desire to do only what pleases you, and the strength to do only what you command. Cleanse our souls, enlighten our minds, and inflame our hearts with your Holy Spirit, that we may follow in the footsteps of your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
St Francis of Assisi (1182 – 1226)
As a New Year begins
A prayer by Karl Barth (1886 – 1968). This most prominent Protestant theologian of his time spent much of his life resisting the Nazi movement, and knew the importance of entering a New Year undaunted by troubles all around him.
O Lord, our Father! At the turn of the year… our hearts are filled with sombre thoughts… our ears are deafened by the voices of the radio and the newspapers, with their numerous predictions for the coming year. Instead we want to hear Your word, Your voice, Your assurance, Your guidance. We know that You are in our midst, and are eager to give us all that we need, whether we ask or not.
…We ask for one thing only: that you collect our scattered thoughts, getting rid of the confused and defiant thoughts that may distract us, and thus enable us to concentrate on your limitless generosity to us. You were abundantly generous to us last year, and will be no less generous to us next year, and in every year to come. Fill us with gratitude to you.
Collected by Bill Marshall, Session Clerk
Regrettably due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic there will be no Watchnight or New Year’s Day services held in the church this year.
However, a video recorded service will be posted on the church website on Christmas Eve. This video will contain all aspects of our traditional service – Readings, carols, Minister’s Christmas message, lighting of the fifth Advent Candle. We hope that this will be an acceptable compromise given the exceptional circumstances which prevail at present.
As with the weekly Sunday Sermons, printed copies of the text of the Watchnight Service will be available to those without internet access. A Christmas Day service will also be posted on the website with printed copies made available.
Please note that as a printed copy cannot show all the details of the video it is possible, using a memory stick, to copy the item to the hard drive of a laptop or tablet which can then be used to view the service without internet access.
Like everything else Christmas 2020 will be different this year with the ongoing restrictions due to the pandemic. But we can still rejoice and the magazine has details of the festive season services. Click on this link to read the magazine and if you would like a printed copy these are available from Sandor, our minister.Christmas 2020
Our minister’s sermons and Sunday morning worship are now posted in ‘Minister’s Messages’ on the website.
JESUS DECLARED, “I AM THE BREAD OF LIFE. HE WHO COMES TO ME WILL NEVER GO HUNGRY, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN ME WILL NEVER BE THIRSTY.” (John 6: 35)
WELCOME TO OUR SUNDAY COMMUNION WORSHIP
OPENING HYMN: – (CH-585): – ACCORDING TO THY GRACIOUS WORD, in meek humility, this will I do, my dying Lord, I will remember Thee.
Thy body, broken for my sake, my bread from heaven shall be; Thy testamental cup I take, and thus remember Thee.
Gethsemane can I forget? Or there Thy conflict see, Thine agony and bloody sweat, and not remember Thee?
When to the cross I turn mine eyes, and rest on Calvary, O Lamb of God, my sacrifice, I must remember Thee, –
Remember Thee, and all Thine pains, and all Thy love to me; yea, while a breath, a pulse remains, will I remember Thee.
And when these failing lips grow dumb, and mind and memory flee, when Thou shalt in Thy Kingdom come, Jesus remember me.
LET US PRAY:
ALMIGHTY GOD, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden; we come to You and ask to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of Your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love You and worthily magnify Your holy name this morning. We confess that we have sinned, in thought, word, and deed, through our own fault and in common with others. We are truly sorry and turn humbly from our sins. Lord, have mercy, and forgive our sinfulness. Merciful God, You have prepared for those who love You such good things as pass human understanding. God of life and truth, You have taught us that we cannot live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Feed us with the Word of Life, and by the power of Your Spirit lead us into Your Truth. Pour into our hearts such awe towards the Sacrifice of Your Son that we, loving You above all things, may obtain Your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
OLD TESTAMENT READING: – PSALM 116: 12 – 14.
HOW CAN I REPAY THE LORD FOR ALL HIS GOODNESS TO ME? I WILL LIFT UP THE CUP OF SALVATION AND CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD. I WILL FULFIL MY VOWS TO THE LORD IN THE PRESENCE OF ALL HIS PEOPLE.
NEW TESTAMENT READING: – JOHN 1: 14, 29, 34.
THE WORD BECAME FLESH AND MADE HIS DWELLING AMONG US. WE HAVE SEEN HIS GLORY, THE GLORY OF THE ONE AND ONLY, WHO CAME FROM THE FATHER, FULL OF GRACE AND TRUTH. …JOHN SAW JESUS COMING TOWARD HIM AND SAID, “LOOK, THE LAMB OF GOD, WHO TAKES AWAY THE SIN OF THE WORLD! … I HAVE SEEN AND TESTIFY THAT THIS IS THE SON OF GOD.”
The HOLY COMMUNION is a Godly Revelation of our Christian Faith. It unmistakeably unites into one religious act the threefold LOVE of God for us, His creatures. Creating it by His WORD, the Creator-God still loves His World, and, although we became deformed by sin, out of His love offers salvation for all those who believe in His sacrificed Son, the Lamb of God. This Anointed Saviour, who takes away the sins of world is the Creator Word of God that became flesh, to be human, but without sin. The Holy Communion with Christ not only commemorates Jesus’ sacrificial death, but also makes us partakers of His Righteousness, won for us through His death and Resurrection. Instituted at His Last Supper before His death on the Cross, it shows Jesus’ clear intention to make His Atoning Sacrifice not only better understood, but also more personal both for His disciples and for us. Breaking the bread and raising the cup with the words: – This is my body, which is broken for you, and: – This cup is the New Covenant sealed in my blood, – Jesus wants to offer us God’s HOLINESS, to assure us, that there is no other WAY back to God but only through Him. During the centuries the Christian Church created creeds of faith, Confessions, to associate more easily with the teachings of the Gospels about our Saviour Anointed (=JESUS CHRIST), and after prolonged Church Council debates in Nicaea, THE NICENE CREED, was agreed ecumenically (= the entire world), – including our Church of Scotland – to be the basis of the Christian faith.
THE NICENE CREED
We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father; through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit, and the Virgin Mary and became truly human. For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His Kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of Life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is worshipped and glorified, who has spoken through the prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. AMEN. (Adopted at the First Council of Nicaea, – 325 A.D.)
In our New Testament reading from the first chapter of the Gospel of John we have three references on the way of Salvation, preparing us for the Holy Communion in the second part of this worship.
1. – JESUS IS THE WORD MADE FLESH. The meaning of these words is that our divine Saviour really took human nature upon Himself in order to save sinners. He really became a man like us in all things, except sin. Like ourselves, he was born of a woman, though born in a miraculous manner. Like ourselves, he grew from infancy to boyhood, then becoming an adult in wisdom and stature. He hungered, thirsted, ate, drank, slept, was tired, felt pain, wept, rejoiced, marvelled, was moved to anger and to compassion. Having become flesh and taken a body, He prayed, read the Scriptures, suffered being tempted, and submitted His human will to the will of God the Father. And finally, in the same body, He really suffered and shed His blood on the Cross, really died, was really buried, really rose again, and really ascended up into heaven. And yet all this time He was God as well as man. This union of the two natures in Christ’s one Person is one of the greatest mysteries and blessings of our Christian Faith. It needs to be carefully stated. It is one of those great truths which are not meant to be curiously debated, but reverently believed by Christians. This constantly undivided union of two perfect natures in Christ’s Person is exactly that which qualifies Him to be the Mediator that sinners need. Our Mediator is One who can sympathize with us, because He is also man. And yet, at the same time, He is One who can deal with God the Father for us on equal terms, because He is very God. It is the same union which gives the value of His/our Righteousness, to the blood of One who was God and man even on the Cross, and when He rose again, He rose not only as mere man but also as God. God’s Word became flesh. What an honour to our undervalued, weak and mortal selves to live in a body which the Eternal Son of God was not ashamed to take upon Himself, in order to take it up to heaven. What an assurance this is to the Promise that the Lord will raise our mortal bodies and glorify them with His own for all eternity!
2. – JESUS IS THE LAMB OF GOD. Jesus, the Lamb does not mean that Christ was meek and gentle as lambs are known to be. This would be true no doubt but, in this name, given by John the Baptist, it means that Christ was the Greatest Sacrifice For Sin, Who came to make atonement for the sins of the world by His death on the Cross of Calvary. He was the Lamb, Abraham told Isaac at Moriah that God will provide (Genesis 22: 8), and the Passover Lamb in Egypt that opened the free journey of God’s people to the Promised Land. He was the Lamb of whom Isaiah had prophesied being led like a lamb to the slaughter (Isaiah 53: 7). Jesus did not come into the world to be a conqueror king, a religion-founder philosopher, or a teacher of mere morality. He came to save sinners. He came to take away the sins of the world. He didn’t make loud proclamations of pardon, mercy, and forgiveness. He took our sins upon Himself, and carried them away. He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by His wounds you have been healed (1.Peter 2: 24). The sins of everyone who believes in Jesus are made as though they had never have sinned at all. The Lamb of God took their sins away. Christ is the Almighty Saviour for all mankind. He takes away the sins of the world. He did not die for a few Jews only, He did not suffer for some minorities only, but for the whole of mankind. The payment He made on the Cross was more than enough for the debts of all. His Atonement on the Cross was sufficient for all mankind, though efficient only to those who believe in Him. But nevertheless, the sin that He took and bore on the Cross was the sin of the whole world.
3. – JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD. Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased.” (Mark 1: 9 – 11) What John the Baptist was saying here is something like this: -“I saw perfectly, and from that time have unhesitatingly testified that the person whom you now see before you is the Christ, the Son of the living God. From the day I baptized Him in the Jordan, and I saw the Holy Spirit descending on Him, and I heard the Word of God from heaven, I have been fully convinced that He is the Messiah!” As we are about to take part in the Holy Communion with our Lord, I hope and pray that the same confession is to be raised from our hearts also as John the Baptist gave testimony about Jesus as The Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, and as the Psalmist did in Psalm 116, verses 12–14, through HYMN: – CH 565 :
I’ll of salvation take the cup, on God’s name will I call: I’ll pay my vows now to the Lord before His people all.
Thank-offerings I to Thee will give, and on God’s name will call. I’ll pay my vows now to the Lord before His people all.
Within the courts of God’s own house, within the midst of Thee, O city of Jerusalem, praise to the Lord give ye.
We are here to look back, here to look forward. We are here to remember One who died, here to greet One who lives. We are here to share Bread and Wine, here to share fellowship together. We are here in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who invites us, as He invited His first disciples, to take Supper with Him.
He shared bread and wine, with the one who would betray Him, the one who would deny Him, and those who would abandon Him in His hour of need.
He invites us to share bread and wine, you and I who are weak and sinful, who daily fail Him, who prefer our way to His, who have barely begun to understand the true meaning of discipleship. Though our faith is frail, and our faults are many, though we have many questions, and much to learn, come now and let us share Bread and Wine, COME AND FIND LIFE FOR OUR SOULS. AMEN.
NARRATIVE OF THE INSTITUTION: –
Hear the Words of the institution of the Lord’s Supper:
FOR I RECEIVED FROM THE LORD WHAT I ALSO PASSED ON TO YOU: THE LORD JESUS, ON THE NIGHT HE WAS BERTAYED, TOOK BREAD, AND WHEN HE HAD GIVEN THANKS, HE BROKE IT AND SAID, “THIS IS MY BODY, WHICH IS BROKEN FOR YOU; DO THIS IN REMEMBRACE OF ME.” IN THE SAME WAY, AFTER SUPPER HE TOOK THE CUP, SAYING, “THIS CUP IS THE NEW COVENANT IN MY BLOOD; DO THIS, WHENEVER YOU DRINK IT, IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.” FOR WHENEVER YOU EAT THIS BREAD AND DRINK THIS CUP, YOU PROCLAIM THE LORD’S DEATH UNTIL HE COMES. (1.Corinthians 11: 23-26).
(The Minister): – As the Lord Jesus, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread, I take these elements of bread and wine, to be set apart from all common uses to this holy use and mystery; and as He gave thanks and blessed, let us draw near to God and offer Him our prayers and thanksgiving.
LET US PRAY:
Father, we come to You conscious of the things within ourselves we hate to remember, yet cannot forget and fear to renounce: our self-indulgences, our prejudices, our resentments, our hypocrisies, our selfishness. Save us from self-contempt as we acknowledge these things and as we remember Your love for us in spite of all that we are and do. Give us the assurance of pardon, the release and relief of those who know that the past is forgiven, and the zest and joy of those who know that the future is still to make. So may we live in that fullness and freedom of life, which You have promised that we can share through Jesus Christ our Lord. Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned in thought, word, and deed. We have not wholeheartedly loved You; we have not loved others as we have loved ourselves. In Your mercy, forgive our past sins, amend what we are, and direct what we shall be. So shall we delight in Your will, and go Your way, with Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hear God’s Word of Grace and the Assurance of Pardon: – CHRIST JESUS CAME INTO THE WORLD TO SAVE SINNERS. YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN FOR HIS SAKE! AMEN.
TAKING THE ELEMENTS OF BREAD AND WINE: – According to the holy institution, example, and command of our Lord Jesus Christ, and as a memorial of Him, we do this: – WHO, ON THE SAME NIGHT WHEN HE WAS BETRAYED, TOOK BREAD AND WHEN HE HAD GIVEN THANKS HE BROKE IT AND SAID, “THIS IS MY BODY WHICH IS BROKEN FOR YOU; DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME” – PLEASE, TAKE THE PIECE OF BREAD, YOU BROUGHT WITH YOU FROM HOME DUE TO CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC, AND LET US ALL TAKE AND EAT TOGETHER: – NOW… IN THE SAME WAY HE TOOK THE CUP SAYING, “THIS CUP IS THE NEW COVENANT SEALED IN MY BLOOD. WHENEVER YOU DRINK IT, DO IT IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME” – SO, PLEASE, TAKE THE SEALED CUP FROM THE HOLDER BEFORE YOU, OPEN IT, AND LET US DRINK OUR CUPS TOGETHER: – NOW …
THE PEACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST BE WITH US ALL! AMEN. (Because of Pandemic-restrictions, we won’t greet one another, this time, with the handshake of THE PEACE OF CHRIST).
LET US PRAY:
GRACIOUS LORD GOD, we thank You for the love which brings us – as food from heaven – the life of Your dear Son, and assures us that we belong to the company of all His faithful people in heaven and on earth. Grant, that being strengthened by this fellowship and by the power of Your Holy Spirit, we may continue His work in the world, until we come to the glory of Your eternal kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Saviour and Lord. And here we offer and present to You our very selves, to be a living sacrifice, dedicated and fit for Your acceptance: – through Him, with Him, in Him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory are Yours, Almighty Father, now and forever. Remember, O Lord, Your holy Church throughout the world and reveal Your glory among the nations. Save Your people and bless those who belong to You, shepherd them and carry them forever. Remember, O Lord, our families and friends, and surround them with Your steadfast love. Remember, O Lord, those who are sick, those who suffer pain, loneliness, or grief, those who draw near to death, and those whom we name now in our hearts, before You . . . Comfort them with Your presence, sustain them by Your promises, grant them Your peace. Keep us in unbroken fellowship with Your whole Church in heaven and on earth, and bring us at the last to the joy of Your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN …
CLOSING HYMN: – (CH-351): – O THOU MY SOUL, BLESS GOD the Lord; and all that in me is. Be stirrèd up His Holy Name to magnify and bless.
Bless, O my soul, the Lord thy God, and not forgetful be of all His gracious benefits He hath bestowed on thee.
All thine iniquities who doth most graciously forgive: Who thy diseases all and pains doth heal, and thee relieve.
Who doth redeem thy life, that thou to death mayest not go down; Who thee with loving-kindness doth and tender mercies crown.
Who with abundance of good things doth satisfy thy mouth; so that, even as the eagle’s age, renewèd is thy youth.
TO FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST, THE GOD WHOM WE ADORE, BE GLORY, AS IT WAS, AND IS, AND SHALL BE EVERMORE. Amen.
GO IN PEACE.THE PEACE OF GOD, WHICH IS BEYOND ALL HUMAN UNDERSTANDING, WILL GUARD YOUR HEARTS AND YOUR THOUGHTS IN CHRIST JESUS.
AND THE BLESSING OF GOD ALMIGHTY, THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY SPIRIT, ONE, ETERNAL GOD, BE WITH YOU AND REMAIN WITH YOU BOTH NOW AND FOREVERMORE, THROUGH JESUS CHRIST OUR LORD. AMEN.
Sandor, your Minister.
Our first communion service since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic will be held DV at 11am on Sunday 15 November 2020.
Social distancing and other measures for Sunday services detailed in the news item ‘The New Normal for our Sunday Worship’ will be in place. In addition communicants are asked to bring their own bread, and individual sealed portions of grape juice will be provided so that no elements are passed round during the service.
We look forward to celebrating communion together again in as safe a manner as possible and hope that those who are able to will join us. Anyone wishing to take communion for the first time is welcome to contact Sandor, our Minister, who will be pleased to guide you.
GOD IS OUR REFUGE AND STRENGTH, AND EVER-PRESENT HELP IN TROUBLE. (Psalm 46:1) THOSE WHO HOPE IN THE LORD WILL RENEW THEIR STRENGTH. THEY WILL SOAR ON WINGS LIKE EAGLES; THEY WILL RUN AND NOT GROW WEARY, THEY WILL WALK AND NOT BE FAINT. (Isaiah 40:31)
We are met this day to glorify God whose power sustains the world; to remember with thanksgiving those who lived and died in the service of our country; and ask for God’s help and blessing, that we may be worthy of their sacrifice each day of our life. Let us worship God, and … Welcome to our service!
INTIMATIONS: – Preparatory Service on Tuesday 10 November, 7pm, and Communion next Sunday the 15 November 2020, 11am.
OPENING HYMN: – (CH-611) – O GOD, OUR HELP IN AGES PAST, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home!
Under the shadow of Thy throne Thy saints have dwelt secure; sufficient is Thine arm alone, and our defence is sure.
Before the hills in order stood, or earth received her frame, from everlasting Thou art God, to endless years the same.
A thousand ages in Thy sight are like an evening gone; short as the watch that ends the night before the rising sun.
Time, like an ever-rolling stream, bears all its sons away; they fly forgotten, as a dream dies at the opening day.
O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, be Thou our guard while troubles last, and our eternal home.
LET US PRAY:
ETERNAL GOD, You are the Shepherd of our souls, the giver of life everlasting. On this day when we commemorate and commend to You those who lived and died in the service of others, we are glad to remember that Your purposes for us are good, that You gave Jesus Christ for the life of the world, and that You lead us by His Holy Spirit into the paths of righteousness and peace. Merciful and faithful God, Your purpose is to fold both earth and heaven in a single peace. With sorrow we confess that in our hearts we keep alive the passions and pride that lead to hatred and to war. We are not worthy of Your love, nor of the sacrifice made by others on our behalf. Almighty God, pardon and deliver us from all our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and keep us in life eternal. God of unbounded grace, You declared Your reconciling love and power in the death and resurrection of our Saviour Jesus Christ. Teach us, who live only in Your forgiveness, to forgive one another. Heal our divisions, cast out our fears, renew our faith in Your unchanging purpose of goodwill and peace on earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. AMEN.
Let us now, bow our heads and remember the kindness of God, and His favour to us in our time of need:
LET US REMEMBER the courage, devotion to duty, and the self-sacrifice of the men and women in our armed forces; the toil, endurance, and suffering of those who were not in uniform; the support of those who sent us help from afar, or came and stood by our side. Let us remember those who were wounded in the fight; those who perished in air-raids at home; those who fell in battle, and are buried at sea or in some corner of a foreign field; and especially those whom we have known and loved, whose place is for ever in our hearts. Let us remember those who were our enemies, whose homes and hearts are as bereft as ours, whose dead lie also in a living tomb of everlasting remembrance. Let us remember those who came back; those whose lives still bear the scars of war; those who lost sight or limb or reason; those who lost faith in God and hope in humanity. Let us remember the continuing grace of God, whose love holds all souls in life, and to whom none is dead but alive for ever.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old; age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them.
– WE WILL REMEMBER THEM! + SILENCE …
IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO DIED, MAY WE BE BETTER MEN AND WOMEN; AND IN GRATITUDE TO GOD, MAY WE LIVE AS THOSE WHO ARE NOT THEIR OWN BUT WHO ARE BOUGHT WITH PRICE. AMEN.
OLD TESTAMENT READING: – DEUTERONOMY 30: 19 – 20.
THIS DAY I CALL HEAVEN AND EARTH AS WITNESSES AGAINST YOU THAT I HAVE SET BEFORE YOU LIFE AND DEATH, BLESSINGS AND CURSES. NOW CHOOSE LIFE, SO THAT YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN MAY LIVE AND THAT YOU MAY LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD, LISTEN TO HIS VOICE, AND HOLD FAST TO HIM. FOR THE LORD IS YOUR LIFE, AND HE WILL GIVE YOU MANY YEARS IN THE LAND HE SWORE TO GIVE TO YOUR FATHERS …
NEW TESTAMENT READING: – JOHN 14: 27.
(JESUS SAID:) – PEACE I LEAVE WITH YOU; MY PEACE I GIVE YOU. I DO NOT GIVE TO YOU AS THE WORLD GIVES. DO NOT LET YOUR HEARTS BE TROUBLED AND DO NOT BE AFRAID.
SO HERE WE STAND AGAIN. A YEAR HAS PASSED. ONCE MORE OUR SORROW TURNS TO MILLIONS KILLED. WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED? WHAT DO YOU SAY TO US, SOLDIER FROM YOUR ETERNAL SILENCE? DO YOU IMPLORE US TO IMPROVE OUR KILLING EFFICIENCY, TO MAKE BIGGER AND BETTER BOMBS, CONDEMNING MILLIONS MORE TO YOUR SAD FATE? NO – I HEAR YOU PLEAD NOW. I HEAR YOU CRY TO US ACROSS THE YEARS: – “WEEP NOT FOR ME BUT FOR THOSE YET UNBORN! … WHEN YOU STAND HERE AGAIN, WHEN THIS NEXT YEAR HAS PASSED, COME HERE IN CERTAINTY THAT YOU HAVE TAKEN SOME SMALL STEP ALONG A DIFFERENT ROAD… (from: — The Veteran’s Lament – by Bill, World War Two Veteran).
DEATH TOLL in WW1 = 40 million, WW2 = 85 million. During 1918-1919 over 50 million people died of Spanish Flu, or Influenza. In the moment, we are being terrorized by the Coronavirus. We live in what seems to be, at least occasionally, a terrifying AGE OF WARS. Individual acts of bravery and self-sacrifice during a war can be good, but war itself is evil. This is why through the Bible we are urged to choose life with the blessings of God, and not the curse of war, holding fast to Him, and live (Deuteronomy 30: 19-20). Once a war has started, Christian values are pretty much given up: gentleness, generosity, forgiveness, love of enemy, and turning the other cheek are not applicable any longer. In times of war forgiveness of the enemy is not permitted, for it is seen as treason. In this, and many other ways, war is an evil that is much bigger than all of us. War almost never ends in peace: at least, not in the kind of peace where two former enemies embrace one another and sincerely wish one another well. No, war must end in defeat for one and victory for the other. Even ceasefires are usually only a chance to regroup and rearm; to fight again another day, until eventually one of the sides gives up, falls apart, or can no longer defend itself. A war might end when both sides lose, being too exhausted to continue fighting. I would love to hear of a case where both sides WIN, but I know of none. Jesus speaks of His PEACE as where human hearts are not being troubled and people are not afraid (John 14: 27). He knows that His PEACE is not how the world understands peace. Jesus’ PEACE must begin to be developed on an individual and very personal level. Maybe, we cannot make peace with the enemies of our nation, but a Christian definitely can make peace in the individual and personal conflicts. A Christ-like person is one who practices peace that the people around him or her may “catch” peacefulness and become people of peace themselves. Jesus teaches us that when someone offends us, we should pray for them, and call down God’s blessing upon them. Well, it is hard to ask God to bless a person unless we ourselves wish good things for that person, so this is a very good exercise for a Christian.
Christians are first and foremost a people of faith and peace. If caught up in a war, the Christian must choose the side which has the least evil, and then must act with courage and faith. The best of these are celebrated on Remembrance Day: those who gave their lives for the benefit of others; who struggled to uphold the greater good and resisted the greater evil, and deserving the greatest honour both from God and man. But our calling is to be people of faith and peace, turning the other cheek, loving our neighbour as ourselves and loving the Lord our God with all our heart and all our soul and with all our mind and with all our strength (Matthew 22: 37- 40). In the brokenness of our world, God is there. In the cry of the hungry, the suffering of the sick, and the sorrow of the bereaved, He is calling our name. In the misery of the lonely, the despair of the oppressed and the helplessness of the weak He is seeking our help, asking for our response. The world is bleeding, and God is bleeding with it, waiting for our hands, our care and our love to help heal the wound. And then, as a miracle, the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4: 7). AMEN.
Sorley MacLean (Somhairle MacGill-Eain), (1911-1996), our Scottish-Gaelic poet from Raasay, in one of his poems immortalized the tragic moment when, in Portree School, children were privately told about the death of their loved ones at the Battle of Festubert, on the 22 July 1915, and then, the children being graciously sent home to grieve.
FESTUBERT by Sorley MacLean
Rattle of the little guns
And clangour of the big guns
Heavy doors being shut
With the blast and crash of tempest;
Whizz and whine of the shells
About Festubert and the mud and bloodshed;
Big heavy doors are shutting
On many a brave strong man.
Doors opening quietly
And shut as they were opened:
Boy or girl, or two or three,
taken out of the schoolrooms,
having to go home
down by the Big Bridge,
to the middle of the town,
or south to Lots,
or north to Sluggans,
down to the Pier,
or down to Sligneach,
east to Stormyhill,
or over to Black Street:
to every house where sorrow was,
brothers or fathers dead:
thirteen on one day
in the little town of Portree,
thirteen men in Portree
and many another man
between Trotternish and Sleat,
between Duirinish and Strath,
between Bracadale and Raasay,
between Minginish and Rona,
between Uist, Harris and Inverness.
Doors opened and closed
Quietly in many a house,
And the children going home
To weeping or to silence.
Clangour of the big guns,
Blast of heavy doors being shut
About other towns in France
And throughout Europe,
And doors opening quietly
To dwellings of the broken heart.
LET US PRAY:
GOD OF POWER AND LOVE, bless our country and commonwealth. Give wisdom and strength to the Queen, govern those who make the laws, guide those who direct our common life, and grant that together we may fulfil our service for the welfare of the whole people and for Your praise and glory. Bless all members of the armed forces. Defend them in danger. Give them courage to meet all occasions with discipline and loyalty. So may they serve the cause of justice and peace, to the honour of Your name. Bless our young people. May they never see the flames of war, or know the depths of cruelty to which men and women can sink. Grant that in their generation they may be faithful soldiers and servants of Jesus. Bless our friends and those who were our enemies, who suffered or are still suffering from war. Grant that Your love may reach out to the wounded, the disabled, the mentally distressed, and those whose faith has been shaken by what they have seen and endured. Comfort all who mourn the death of loved ones. Bless those who are homeless, those who are refugees, those who are hungry, those who have lost their livelihood or security. Bless those in authority in every land, and give them wisdom to know and courage to do what is right. Encourage those who work for peace, who strive to improve international relations, who seek new ways of reconciling people of different race, colour, and creed. Bless Your Church throughout the world. By Your Holy Spirit, draw the scattered flock of Christ into a visible unity, and make Your Church a sign of hope to our divided world. Grant that we who bear Your Son’s name may be instruments of Your peace, bringing that peace to our homes, our nation, and our world, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
THE LORD’S PRAYER: – OUR FATHER, WHO ART IN HEAVEN …
Every night, in the town of Ypres in Belgium, there is a ceremony of the Last Post at a monument to the thousands of soldiers killed in 1915 in the Battle of Ypres-Salient, but with no known graves. Their names are inscribed on the Menin Gate monument.
Yet the battle is not over, though the war may long be past, the fighting may have halted but the cause is only masked. Unless we come together, until we learn to share, until we love more widely and think in ways more fair; until we build so bravely that all we say and do gives our hope of breaking barriers some hope of coming true, then the Last Post may be sounded in the future just the same, but the thousands who it heralds will all have died in vain.
(Nick Fawcett: In Ypres, at the 8 o’clock Last Post)
CLOSING HYMN: (CH-527) ETERNAL FATHER, STRONG TO SAVE, whose arm hath bound the restless wave, Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep its own appointed limits keep: – O hear us when we cry to Thee for those in peril on the sea.
O Christ, whose voice the waters heard, and hushed their raging at Thy word, who walkedst on the foaming deep, and calm amid the storm didst sleep: – O hear us when we cry to Thee for those who peril on the sea.
O Holy Spirit, who didst brood upon the waters dark and rude, and bid their angry tumult cease, and give, for wild confusion peace: – O hear us when we cry to Thee for those in peril on the sea.
O Trinity of love and power, our brethren shield in danger’s hour; from rock and tempest, fire and foe, protect them wheresoe’er they go: – Thus evermore shall rise to Thee glad hymns of praise from land and sea
THE NATIONAL ANTHEM: – GOD SAVE OUR GRACIOUS QUEEN, long live our noble Queen; God save the Queen! Send her victorious, happy and glorious, long to reign over us: God save the Queen!
Thy choicest gifts in store on her be pleased to pour; long may she reign; may she defend our laws, and ever give us cause to sing with heart and voice, “God save the Queen!”
MAY THE ALMIGHTY LORD GOD, GRANT TO THE LIVING, GRACE; TO THE DEPARTED, REST; TO THE CHURCH, THE QUEEN, THE COMMONWEALTH, AND ALL PEOPLE, PEACE AND CONCORD; AND TO US AND ALL HIS SERVANTS LIFE EVERLASTING.
AND THE BLESSING OF GOD ALMIGHTY, FATHER, SON, AND HOLY SPIRIT, BE WITH YOU ALL.
Sandor, your Minister.
The Kirk Session have put in place measures to allow Sunday morning worship to resume with social distancing in place, taking on board guidance from the national Church. Click on this article to see what you can expect if you are able and wish to attend weekly morning services again.Socially distanced worship in Portree