Category Archives: Event

SUNDAY THOUGHT

This was the real light—the light that comes into the world and shines on all people. [John ch1 v 9]

I love the lights at Christmas, everyone who knows me is aware of how excited I get at the switching on of the Christmas tree in the church. It most likely goes back to my childhood when the tree was not put up until Christmas Eve and we woke up to the magical tree and lights. Of course, they were not the fine Fairy Lights that we see today or the flashing L.E.D.’s they were rather large and limited in colour but no less wonderful for that. The lights which brighten up the darkness of the different places in the house and in the tree, herald Christmas and the beauty of them in the home just makes us glad. The lights in the street when all is dark around are marvellous and send a lovely glow while we go out and about, it just cheers us up.

We got Christmas lights on the trees from Martin Luther [he whose writings started the Reformation]. He was walking home one night in winter and found walking through the forest rather dark and frightening he looked up and saw the brightness of the stars as they glittered in the sky and on the frost of the trees. He took courage and thought of them aslights from heaven sent to guide and comfort just as a Star led the Wise Men to Bethlehem. God was telling him not to be afraid. On his way home he brought a tree and placed candles on it to remind him of the glittering stars and the help that he was given by God.

As we drape our Christmas lights wherever you like to put them and they light up the darkness or brighten up a corner we become aware of the darkness and light in our homes. It is the same with our lives, very few people have a perfect life, or a perfect Christmas for that matter. Plan as much as we like, work ourselves to a frenzy organising and forward thinking, but not everything goes to plan but, it is not the end of the world, maybe no-one even notices. The same with our everyday lives, there is always a dark moment, and goodness me this year we have all had dark moments for whatever reason. 

It could be said that without the darkness we do not appreciate the light. Certainly, we have learned to appreciate the simple things of life, the support of family, neighbours, and friends. We have also learned to appreciate nature and how wonderful it is to sit in the garden or walk in our own community to see all of creation around us. Now living through the darkness of restrictions, we appreciate even the small freedoms we slowly gain. 

Jesus is the light of the world and we celebrate His birth with light in so many ways, with candles and fine lights, with Advent Wreathes and Advent Crowns. So, as we” switch on” or “light up”, we could also think of ourselves as lighting up with the light of Jesus within us. Invite Him into your life and celebrations this year. Take time to read the Christmas narrative in Matthew or Luke and think about how it was for Mary and how dark it might have seemed to her at times. Or Joseph whose plans had completely been swept aside. For their families and community, what was the worst that could have happened? Take heart also from that narrative when they are guided by God and they not only fulfil the prophecies but find a light in their lives which surpassed anything they could have dreamed of.

We can light up the dark places around us by praying for those who have no faith and are struggling with life. Likewise, we can pray for those who find it difficult to come to God even though they know in their heart they need Him, pray that they will find the courage to seek God out this Christmas Season. We can pray that Christians in celebrating for the correct reason help others to see the Love of God in them. So as we shine out with Christ in us, may we spread that light into our society and show that the Christian Faith is a wonderful living thing, a pure light shining in the darkness.

LET US PRAY

LOVING AND EVER FAITHFUL GOD,

We give thanks to You our Father, Your Word has come among us, In the Holy Child of Bethlehem. Grant that the light of faith may illumine our hearts and shine in our words and deeds.

We praise You for happy days, Gatherings of friends and family, Gifts given and received, Greetings exchanged, Cards sent and friendships renewed, We thank and praise You For special food and drink, For decorations and bright lights, For holidays and games and music and laughter. But above all, for the gift of Your Son, For His coming in love, born into poverty To call us To you, to walk with us in our journeys of faith

Almighty God we know that nothing is beyond Your power and no one is beyond Your care. And so we ask that You might be present in situations that trouble us. 

We seek healing for our broken planet, wisdom for those whose decisions change its course, and energy for those who raise awareness of the damage we do. 

We seek healing for our broken humanity, compassion for those on the margins, welcome for those who are strangers, courage to speak out and determination to do things differently. 

We seek healing for our broken selves, strength to recognise our shortcomings, humility to ask for help, the re-emergence of hope and the simple joy of trusting You. 

Lord, we seek Your light in whatever darkness befalls us. We ask, too, that we might be that light for others and that, through our actions, others might come to know Your love. In Christ’s name, Amen

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SUNDAY THOUGHT 06.11.2020

“Sing a new song to the Lord! Sing to the Lord, all the world! Sing to the Lord, and praise him! Proclaim every day the good news that he has saved us. Proclaim his glory to the nations, his mighty deeds to all peoples”   { Psalm 96}

I am at the moment sitting listening to Carols on the television, they are so soothing to listen to and are a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. This year we all have the time to listen to music because of the restrictions on getting out and about. Listening to carols lifts the heart and helps dispel the gloom over the fact that we cannot join in or sing them in church, not yet anyway. This situation is not or ever and we look forward to the Vaccination Day and the “All-clear” sounding some time next year. Though I suspect that many of the practices that we have developed over the past year will stay with us for a while.

I love carols and will miss my favourites, let me tell you a bit more about some of my favourites and what they mean. The first I can think of is the first carol I always use in the first Sunday of Advent which has just passed, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel”. To me it heralds Christmas and is quite unusual as it is taken from a Latin text and signifies the wait for the arrival of Jesus Christ our saviour. It is a hymn of promise and anticipation as we approach the main event, there are no shepherds or angels or even a mention of the Nativity but it speaks to our depths of waiting and hoping. A carol of Hope and Trust just as we place our Hope and Trust in God.

Then a carol written by a Scottish hymn writer and poet James Montgomery who was born in Irvine but spent much of his life in Sheffield where there is a statue in his honour as he was a poet, a philanthropist and great humanitarian. He wrote “Angels from the realms of Glory” which is still often sung in churches today. The carol calls everyone to worship including the heavenly host, the adoration of the magi, the awe struck shepherds and invites us all to share in worshipping the new born King with them. It is a cheerful tune which lifts the heart and brightens us up as we sing it and if we think of the words we can catch some of that sense of wonder experienced by the those present at the nativity. 

My final thought is “Once in Royal David’s city”, a fine hymn written by Mrs. Alexander who wrote hymns for children. She was keen to teach young people the Bible through song, and in this carol, she recounts the entire nativity so that it could be understood and would sit in the mind. It is a good way of learning to set the lesson to music. She was the wife of a Dean and she wrote hymns for his sermons the most famous being “Jesus calls us o’er the tumult” written for St. Andrew’s Day. In her carol she reminds us of the love of God for each one of us in not only sending Jesus to save the world but also reminds us of God’s unconditional love for us. This hymn just shouts Christmas in its very direct telling of the Nativity and its distinctive tune which opens the Carol Service from Kings College Cambridge. 

All these tell the Christmas Narrative in one or another and they mean so much to each one of us, I know that we all miss singing in church and it will be specially hard during this time when singing brings us together. It is also hard as carol singers in the supermarkets and hospitals and care homes were such a witness to the Christian Message of Goodwill and Peace to all. However, we can listen to the music and join in at home, we can take part in the, “Carols on the doorstep” either singing at our doorstep or in our own homes on dec. 20th at 6pm [more information on the church website or facebook].

I know that the carols I have highlighted may not be your favourite carol for a whole load of reasons. Many bring back happy memories or of families or just that the words mean so much to us. If you have a favourite, have a look at it, read the words and find what it is you love, maybe it is the tune that sends you off to a different place. All of these are valid thoughts but remember they are to complement our worship or even call us to worship, or even to remind us of the Nativity and the Hope which surrounds the Birth of Jesus. So it would be nice to use the carols as part of your daily time of prayer or reflection. 

LET US PRAY

LOVING GOD,

In this season of Advent we journey with Hope and Anticipation looking ever forward to the celebration of Christmas Day, fully aware of the great gift You have given the world.

In this season of Advent we come before You in Worship with awe and admiration reflecting the emotions of the angels and shepherds.

In this season of Advent we remember those who will struggle with all aspects of life, through job loss, or poverty, or loneliness and anxiety. We pray that they sense Your Presence and can find help when it is needed.

In this season of Advent we pray for those who are working so hard to keep the fabric of life flowing, we ask a blessing on them.

In this season of Advent we pray for all young people, those coping with the changes in school life, those at home and cannot understand the restrictions and we pray for their families and ask that You Be with them and grant Your Peace.

We ask in Jesus Name,

AMEN

.

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DOORSTEP CAROLS

Rev Mike Goss is appealing to individuals and families across the country to gather in front of their homes for “Doorstep Carols” on the 20th of December at 6pm and ensure it is anything but a Silent Night. He said traditional door to door caroling was clearly not possible due to COVID-19 restrictions but filling the streets with the joyful sound of classics like ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’, Away in a Manger and ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ will send out a strong message that Christmas is “not cancelled”.

IT IS UP TO EVERYONE TO DECIDE WHETHER THEY WISH TO DO THIS OR SIMPLY USE THE CAROL SHEET IN THEIR OWN HOMES AT 6PM ON THE 20TH.

GOD BLESS,

GRACE SAUNDERS

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SUNDAY THOUGHT 29.11.2020

“Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David!  Is it not enough to try the patience of humans?  Will you try the patience of my God also?  Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”  Is. 7:13-14.

Advent – a time of waiting.  We seem to have done a lot of that this year.  Waiting to hear each day’s case figures.  Waiting to hear when lockdown will end. Waiting in shopping queues.   Having had the initial joy of restrained living ending in July and returning somewhat to normality, only for more restrictions to be handed out as the clocks went back, signalling darker days ahead – metaphorically as well as literally.  Waiting with bated breath as to the results of vaccine testing.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.  

The people of the Old Testament had to wait – 400 years of waiting – when God seemed silent.  Was he, though?  No one – not prophet, priest or king could’ve envisaged what God would do – send himself into the world through a defenceless and innocent baby who grew up to be the Saviour of thatworld, sacrificing himself on the cross, taking our sins upon himself and finally triumphing over death itself.  

Many prophesised of a birth, many did not take it seriously enough or at all, although some did.  Throughout the Old Testament, we read of Israel – God’s children – defying and disobeying God, then repenting of their sins and receivingforgiveness.  Even in the last book of the Old Testament – Malachi – that promise of forgiveness is still there, still real and open.  If Israel returns to the Lord, he will return to Israel.  They had to wait though.  Wait for what the prophets said come true – Isaiah 7, 9, Micah 5.  

Advent then, is a time of waiting and preparation.  Many in the Western World no longer care to wait for things to happen – the instantaneous, “want it now” attitude prevalent in society today dislikes the idea of waiting and sneers at those who do but in Romans 8:24, Paul tells his readers, “for it was by hope that we were saved; but if we see what we hope for, then it is not really hope.  For which of us hopes for something we see?  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.”  In other words, if we wait in anticipation for Jesus, we hope for something which is beyond all imagining and something which can give us lasting comfort, peace and joy.  

Advent is a time to wait, to hope, to prepare for God Incarnate, coming into our world as a baby.  To listen to or read again the words of Isaiah, of Micah, of the gospel narratives of Matthew and Luke, taking joy in the waiting, in the preparation, and in the anticipation of better days to come.  

PRAYER

Lord Jesus Christ, we remember today that though your people longed for your coming, many were not prepared to welcome you, failing to recognise you when you came.  Forgive us that we are equally closed sometimes to your coming into our lives, forcing you into a mould we have made for you, presuming your thoughts and your ways are the same as ours.  Forgive us that our expectations are small and limited, shaped by looking at life from a human rather than eternal perspective.  Forgive us, and help us to be prepared.  Teach us to examine ourselves – our words and deeds, thoughts and attitudes – and so to live each day open to what you would do in us and through us, to the glory of your name.  Amen.

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SUNDAY THOUGHT 22.11.2020

And so they left, and on their way they saw the same star they had seen in the East. When they saw it, how happy they were, what joy was theirs! It went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.” [Matthew 2 v9-10]

The other night I looked out of the window to gaze at the star which shone so brightly and so beautiful it looked like a pearl suspended among the deep blue of the night. I imagined what it must have been like to see The Star, the one which the Magi followed to find Jesus. There is little doubt that there was something unusual in the sky, records from the Chinese Ancients tell of a bright star believed to be a rare constellation, other nations of the time record something similar. So how lovely it would have been to see that Star brighter than anything before and no wonder the Magi or Wise Men were so moved to follow it. Not knowing what it meant but absolutely sure that it had special significance. 

What would it have been like to be in Bethlehem with that brightness in the town, illuminating the place around. The story of a child born in the stable would have caused enough interest among the locals, how many went along just to have a look. How many felt that something different was happening when all they heard the shepherds stories and then later on, the arrival of strangers? We will never know but we do know that everyone had a sense of Something in the air, there was such an air of expectation. 

Now you may think that I might be jumping the gun talking about a star and stables and all that the Christmas narrative holds, but the events which led up to Christmas are as interesting as the main event. This journey of the Magi was started long before the meeting in Bethlehem, God’s Plan was set in motion and each facet was brought together in such a way as to ensure that the arrival of Jesus was marked in so many different ways by people from completely different backgrounds and understanding. 

As we look towards celebrating Christmas this year we prepare in our different ways. We all prepare to some extent, presents, cards, plan for meals and what we will do on the day whether it is a meal with smaller numbers or a day of helping others. We prepare and bring together the decorations which includes the Star, which signifies the specialness of Jesus Birth and guided strangers on the way. The presents where we echo the devotion of the Magi by letting our loved ones and greater circle of friends know that they are special and that we think of them at this time. The meals where we celebrate the good things, the delicious things of life and think of how sweet life is when we are with the Lord.

Our biggest preparation is the spiritual journey we make each year as we count down the time for Christmas. With each gift and card we can pray for that person as we write or wrap. The sense we gain that there is something more in this world than we can ever imagine, the nearness of God becomes so apparent, that sense of Something in the air which cannot be described but where a certain Peace breaks out. 

The light of the Star echoes the words of John who wrote in his Gospel “This was the real light—the light that comes into the world and shines on all people.” [John 1 v 9]. The Light of the world who is Jesus, lights up our lives stronger than any star with the constant warmth of love. The Light of the world who illuminates the path of life before us and who shows us the Way to God. May you all be Blessed as you prepare for Christmas and to celebrate the reason for season.

LET US PRAY

LOVING FATHER,

The constant strength in our lives, we give thanks for Your care for us this day and every day of our lives. We thank You for the preparations You made in order to save the world, by sending Jesus the Light of the world.

You are the rock to which we cling and who helps us through the different times of our lives and the difficult times we are facing right now. 

We pray for those suffering because of isolation or the restrictions of Tier 4, be they physical, psychological, or spiritual problems. Grant them Your Peace that they might find the strength to face the days ahead.

Surround us with Your Love, enclose us in Your kindly care, may You hold each one of us in the Palm of Your Hand.

We ask in Jesus name.

AMEN

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SUNDAY THOUGHT 15.11.20

” But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” [Galatians 5 : 22-25] 

If you go through Perth down the Glasgow Road and turn left at the Dewar Roundabout and then left again to the Mustard Seed Café and Community Hob. It is run by Christian Fellowship and is a busy thriving centre for people to meet in the café. The last time I was there I was reading all the posters and signs all of which had an inspiring Christian Message. 

The most inviting was a massive picture of a fruit scone, topped with luscious cream and strawberry jam. It looked so inviting and the message was, “The fruit of the Spirit is Love, Joy, Peace…….” A most appropriate picture as it conveyed fruit in a different way. It looked lovely and wholesome [well except for the cream] but something inviting and delicious anyway.

In these words, St Paul talks about the Christian Life which should contain these virtues and in having these virtues it means that we are living well. A good life, that is attractive to others as we do not cause harm but good everywhere we go, having patience with people, having respect for others, all these things which help us travel through everyday life. Did you notice that Paul points out that, “against such things there is no law”. So not only living well but coping with the stresses and struggles of life as we know that we have God to turn to in the worst of times. Because who else is big enough to take on our burdens especially when we feel overwhelmed, who else can we talk to when words fail us. In His mercy God hears us and walks with us and brings us His Comfort and His Peace.

Let us look at a few of these virtues, LOVE IS a choice we make and the type of love Paul talks about Agape is a type of care and concern for others. Looking for the best for them, loving enemies as well as nearest and dearest. Loving those who have jumped the queue in Tesco’s and start a long conversation instead of emptying the basket. You know what I mean. A deep breath and a bit of patience and understanding, ask for help from the Holy Spirit because some people only get the chance to speak when they are at the shops.

Finally, Peace which is being settled in the knowledge that God is in control and has a plan for you. A person who has peace is a comfort to be around. You can feel how grounded they are. How steady. People who are unsettled tend to lean in to people who have peace. This is because the Peace of God quiets the heart and allows the person to hear the Holy Spirit.

LET US PRAY

Loving Lord,

Thank You for Your patience and understanding when we struggle with practising the Christian Virtues, we recognise that we are not perfect, but we aspire to live the life You would have us lead.

Thank You for the Holy Spirit who guides us and supports us in all of the areas of our lives and is always there to help us in every conversation we enter into, with every action and decision we make.

Thank You for Jesus who taught us so much of Love in its purest form Agape, the love and care for one another and of Your Love for us which is beyond our comprehension it is so deep.

We ask in the name of Jesus our Saviour and Lord. AMEN

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SUNDAY THOUGHT 08.11.20

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow

Between the crosses, row on row

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amidst the guns below” [poem In Flanders Field by John McCrae]

On Saturday I placed the cross outside the church at Condorrat and put on it 30 poppies, one for each of the names on the War Memorial in the church. Many churches have set up their own memorials in very different ways and if you are interested I suggest that you look at the Church of Scotland website where there are some stunning photos of poppies and Remembrance Gardens.

It is so sad that this year we could not hold our usual service but that is the case for the whole nation. The point is that the intention is just as always, Remembrance and Gratitude for those who died for our freedom and the way of life we now have. 

I felt that it was most appropriate that we used the cross a symbol of sacrifice, the sacrifice of Jesus for us all. On that were the red poppies symbols of the sacrifice of those named who gave their all for their nation and for freedom. Yet there was also the sacrifice of their families and friends, of the communities from where they came.

I remember the after-math of the 2nd world war, I was not a war baby just being born in 1949 but I remember rationing and I still have my identity card from that time. It was a time of sacrifice and the memory of those who died or wounded was as sharp and as painful as anything on earth. Those who went through the worst of times, the men at the front line or those who were prisoners of war – said very little it was as if they wanted to blot out what they had seen. For many people did not want to hear, they wanted to put it all behind them, they wanted to look forward to the peace. 

That generation was remarkable, they got up and got going, they rebuilt the country, started youth clubs and events for young people. Found a way to survive through the fifties and into the bright new tomorrow everyone thought that the sixties brought, and with that Hope. A Hope for Peace that would be ever lasting. 

Between the sacrifice of so many who gave their lives in defending our freedom and in those who survived and built this nation up. We owe so much to all those mentioned in the War Memorial but we also owe so much to those who returned. We have taken that freedom for granted and did not realise just how wonderful it was until it was taken away from us by the Pandemic. 

Jesus talked of Love for one another but it is not so easy to do that. Especially at this time when the stories of war emergeand the awfulness and full horror becomes clear to us. Some scars run very deep and that flare of anger or a great sense of injustice can be overwhelming. Yet that is not the way to Peace, the only way is to love one another as Jesus commanded His Followers to do. To love the person who hates you and to find it in your heart to forgive. Some may be thinking that is all very well but that is the hardest thing to do, to forgive the most awful of wrongs. Yes it takes time to put the past behind and move forward and no-one can do this alone. We need divine help in this because only God has that unlimited unconditional love which heals all wounds and gives balm to the soul. So let us place our faith and our trust in God and look to the future with confidence that He will lead us and guide us in the right path, the path of Peace, which is the bright light in the darkness.

LET US PRAY

ALMIGHTY AND MOST POWERFUL GOD

On this day we pray for peace in the world. For those living in disunity to be united, for those unable or unwilling to forgive to take time and to listen to the advocates of peace.

On this day we pray for those affected by the conflicts of the world, families, friends, neighbourhoods bereft due to the loss of dear ones. 

On this day we also give thanks for the sacrifice for so many who defended this country in different wars throughout the years. We give thanks for the armed forces, Army, Navy and Air Force who continue to protect and support the nation.

On this day we pray earnestly for Peace with all our heart. Peace in our own hearts, peace in our nation, peace all over the world. We ask for Your healing power to come along all people in conflict. 

We pray for the Peacemakers that a light may shine in the darkness of Chaos and that Your will may be known and that people can live in harmony.

We ask in Jesus name.

AMEN

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SUNDAY THOUGHT 01.11.2020

For the fruits of all creation, Thanks be to God, for these gifts to every nation, Thanks be to God.” [HY 231]

The familiar Harvest Hymn brings back so many memories of Harvest Festivals in the church with the displays of fruit and vegetables and the sheaves of grain. I remember the churches I have served in the past amid farm – land where you had to be early on the road to avoid the tractors. They can be a nuisance if you are in a hurry but we have to remember how important they are. 

Driving through the countryside or even just looking around our own gardens at the moment fills us with wonder and glory and a greater appreciation of the wonder of Creation and the greatness of God. The colours are stunning, glowing in the autumn sun and brightening up the day and gladdening the heart.

The autumn of life is a strange mixture of nostalgia, blessings, and potential. It yields the harvest of seeds we’ve sown throughout life and braces us for colder days to come. When life’s autumn arrives, we look back and better understand the way God led us; but we still have work to do—the best and fullest. It’s a good transition time.

Yet we must remember that the seasons come and go, so focus on the God who remains unchanged and unchanging. “LORD, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Psalm 90:1-2).

The times we find ourselves in are unwelcome in many areas of our lives. We seem to go two steps forward and one back just now and it is disconcerting and hard to take. People are anxious about the future and find it difficult to cope and perhaps it is the not knowing that is the worst aspect of all that is around us.

But amid all the changes, one thing, one person, never changes—our eternal God. J. I. Packer points out that God does not change. His life is always the same. His character is always dependable. His truth, ways, and purposes do not change. His Son does not change. He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever.

His children will enjoy His fellowship a million years from now. The world may fade, the stars may fall, the seasons may change, and winter may come. But the God who has been our help in ages past is our hope for years to come. In Him we have permanence, stability, joy unshakable, and life unending. When we place ourselves in His Hands then we know that we have placed ourselves in Kind Hands, when we decide to follow Him, then we know that we are on a path where He is the guide. He who made the earth, the beauty of which we can see all around us, will hold us in the palm of His Hand and that is such a comfort as we remember that “God is our refuge and our strength”. May God Bless you and keep you.

LET US PRAY

ALMIGHTY AND EVERLASTING God,

For the beauty of the earth we praise and thank you, for the colours which glow in their intensity, for the fruits, the vegetables, for the grain and all good things to sustain us we thank You.

For Your constant Love and Presence we thank You, for being ever mindful towards us, we praise You.

Lord, sometimes life is difficult and we find ourselves facing change which like the seasons moves on and sweeps us along. Give us the strength and the courage to face the days ahead.

Lead us Heavenly Father lead us in all the days ahead, as we place our full trust in You.

We ask in Jesus name,

AMEN

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SUNDAY THOUGHT 25.10.2020

“Jesus loves me this I know for the Bible tells me so” [a childrens hymn]

I have been on holiday recently and it was a lovely time of tranquillity and of renewal, we all need this in our lives, whether we go far away or a stay at home. The word Holiday comes from the words “Holy Day” where people took time out from the everyday and attended special services and prayers depending on the Christian time of year. It was also a time of celebration, with the work left behind for a day or days there was happiness and time to do different things. 

I spent much of my time appreciating the beautiful surroundings and starting to Crochet again making up patterns and trying new colours and shapes. It also gave me time to look back over the year and try to make sense of what I have done in that time. I came across this short story about pattens and life and felt that it was so thought-provoking. It is called, “The Quilt”.

As I faced my Maker at the Last Judgement, I knelt before the Lord along with the other souls. Before each of us laid our lives, like the squares of a quilt, in many piles. An Angel sat before each of us sewing our quilt squares together into a tapestry that was our life.

But as my Angel took each piece of cloth off the pile, I noticed how ragged and empty each of my squares were. They were filled with giant holes! Each square was labelled with a part of my life that had been difficult, the challenges and temptations I was faced with in everyday life. I saw hardships that I had endured [which had the largest holes of all].

I glanced around me, nobody else had such squares. Others had tiny holes here and there, other tapestries were filled with rich colour and the bright hues of worldly fortune. I gazed upon my own life and was disheartened. My Angel was sewing the ragged pieces of cloth together, threadbare and empty, like binding air. Finally, the time came when each life had to be displayed, held up to the light, to the scrutiny of truth. The others rose and each in turn holding up their tapestries. So filled their lives had been.

My Angel looked upon me and nodded for me to rise. My gaze dropped to the ground in shame. I hadn’t had all the earthly fortunes. I had love in my life and laughter. But there had also been trials of illness, death, and false accusations that took me from the world as I knew it. I had to start over many times. I often struggled with the temptation to quit, only to somehow muster the strength to pick up and begin again. I had spent many nights on my knees in prayer, asking for help and guidance in my life. And now, I had to face the truth, my life was what it was, and I had to accept it for what it had been.

I rose and slowly lifted the combined squares of my life to the Light. An awe-filled gasp filled the air. I gazed around at the others who stared at me with eyes wide. Then, I looked upon the tapestry before me. Light flooded through the many holes, creating an image. The Face of Christ. Then our Lord stood before me, with warmth and love in His Eyes. He Said,

“Every time you gave your life over to Me, it became My Life, My Hardships and My Struggles. Each point of light in your life is when you stepped aside and let me shine through, until there was more of Me than there was of you….. Welcome Home My Child”

Our life is like a tapestry when we look back on it. Dark threads amongst the rich colours of life. Yet when we have handed over to Jesus and trusted in Him to get us through, then the Light of God has shone through. 

LET US PRAY

LOVING FATHER GOD,

We come now before you aware of the dark threads in our tapestry of life, and of the golden threads of joy. We thank You for Your Presence in our lives and for all the prayers answered in so many different ways.

We thank You that Jesus walks alongside us bearing our burden when they get too much, giving us the strength to keep going, giving us Hope in the darkest of times.

We praise You for your love for us, ordinary people living an ordinary life, help us to appreciate the Blessings we do have and to be aware of Your Presence as we draw near to You.

We thank You for ordinary days and Holy Days when we can take time to be refreshed and renewed.

We ask these things in Jesus name.

AMEN

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SUNDAY THOUGHT 18.10.2020

Do you ever get that feeling, when you read a familiar passage of Scripture, that something within it strikes you anew, as if you’ve never read it before and are reading it with new eyes and new understanding?  This is how this passage in Colossians struck me just recently.  

I’ve been taking the time to do some study reading on the subject of New Atheism.  New Atheism came into being circa 2007 with the likes of Richard Dawkins and his book “The God Delusion”, and Christopher Hitchens and his book “God is not Great”.  If you have read any of these books or heard of the authors, you will understand they treat religion – any religion – with something lower than contempt and are apt to treat those holding fast to faith – be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim – as parasites (I kid you not!) which should be eradicated (I kid you not!).

In my reading I’ve encountered several who have refuted this idea, among them those who claimed to be Atheist but who, after careful investigation and much reflection, changed their way of thinking and accepted Jesus joyfully into their hearts.  Among them is the brother of Christopher Hitchens – Peter – who accepted Jesus into his life after recognising that the Eastern bloc – East Germany, Russia, etc, communism didn’t and couldn’t work leaving many in fear, hunger and poverty stricken.

I recognise that many of us, even myself, don’t necessarily come up against the vitriol spouted by these authors, yet, we may still come up against opposition to the name of Jesus in our everyday lives.  The phrase “call yourself a Christian” has often been spoken as an attack due to some fault or failing on our part – the attacker believing that if we’re Christian then we should be perfect.  Our defence should be “I’m imperfect, I know I’m imperfect which is why I have the Holy Spirit to help me.”  Being Christian or following Christ does not make us perfect.  We strive for that prize Paul talks about but we will never be perfect until we see God in eternity.  

Here in Colossians, we recognise and affirm that Christ existed when the world was made – as John’s gospel puts it “In the beginning the Word already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  We also can affirm that Christ is the head of his body, the church; he is the source of the body’s life.

Jesus is the source of the church’s life.  Many again, jeer at those who attend church claiming that they are goody goodies.  Actually, my answer to that over the years, is “I need to go to church because I know I’m not perfect.  I need to go to a place where I can worship God and know I can be forgiven for all my imperfections.  I want to go but I also need to go.”

The church, during this coronavirus pandemic has shown, in numerous ways, that it’s still needed – foodbanks, keyworkers children’s play areas, vulnerable people groups using its’ halls for various reasons – but at its heart, the church is there to tell others of God and his Son Jesus.  It’s not a community centre.  Jesus is the head of the church and he is the source of the body’s life.  We need to grasp that idea.  Whatever the church as a whole becomes in the “new normal”, first and foremost, it should be about telling others of Jesus.  

We are not left alone to do this.  Jesus is there to tap into at every step through the Holy Spirit.  He is the head of his body, the church; he is the source of the body’s life.  If you like, he is the constant battery which will never run down.  Church can be many things, yet it should never stray from its’ source and its’ message.  

The digital age in church worship is here to stay whether we like it or not, yet there is no reason why the two – physical and digital – cannot work together.  It has been claimed recently that more people are tapping into worship on a Sunday than would ever attend church.  Why?  Perhaps it’sthe comfort of being in their own homes.  Perhaps they fear what others may say both within and outside the church. Perhaps, in this time of the unknown, they have recognised that the world cannot offer what they are looking for. We, as the church, need to recognise this as we move forward. Not in great big leaps but just in small steps.  

Recently, news headlines stated that Christmas is cancelled this year due to the pandemic.  I for one would shout “No it’s not!”  Christmas will never be cancelled – yes the tinsel, the lights, the large gatherings and all the money spinning trappings of Christmas – is cancelled but not the message that has always been at the heart of the season.  Jesus birth – the giving of God’s Son to the world – will never be cancelled.  

Let us, with new and renewed heart, take joy in what God can do in these times.  Let us not be afraid of what is to come.  What does it say further in the chapter? “You must, of course, continue faithful on a firm and sure foundation, and must not allow yourselves to be shaken from the hope you gained when you heard the gospel.”  Hope cannot be bottled and marketed.  Hope is something which Jesus can offer, with his church – not the building mind, but his church, the people, only toowilling to offer it.

PRAYER

Father God, so many times we forget who the source of the church is.  We busy ourselves with more worldly things believing that maintenance, cleaning and fund-raising are the things which keep the church going.  Good and worthy these things are, they are not the source of it.  Your son, Jesus is.  Jesus has tasked the body – his church – to spread your word, forgive us when we fail to do so, finding comfort in more materialistic and transient things.  Help us to see that, while it’s challenging to do so, nevertheless Jesus wants us to go and make disciples for him.  Help us to never forget that the body is not the building, but the people within it with all their failings and shortcomings.  Help us through this pandemic to bring your love, comfort and peace to the vulnerable, those isolating and the lonely.  We may be lonely ourselves, Lord.  Help us to take comfort in Scripture hearing your voice through its’ pages.  Amen.

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