Sunday Reflections

Sunday Reflections (July 2020)

This summer we will be providing special "Joint" on-line services presented by the Kirkcaldy town centre Churches.

Each Church is organising two services during July and August, so on each Sunday there will be two services available.


Kirkcaldy Town Centre Churches Summer Services

Joint Services for Sunday 26th July

This week there is a choice of Sunday service from either Bennochy Church or Kirkcaldy Congregational Church.

Both services are available to view below. You can choose which to watch, or why not enjoy both!

Bennochy Church Service for Sunday 26th July 2020

Readings for today

Isaiah 30: 19-26 (The Message)

19-22 Oh yes, people of Zion, citizens of Jerusalem, your time of tears is over. Cry for help and you’ll find it’s grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he’ll answer. Just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he’ll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: “This is the right road. Walk down this road.” You’ll scrap your expensive and fashionable god-images. You’ll throw them in the trash as so much garbage, saying, “Good riddance!”

23-26 God will provide rain for the seeds you sow. The grain that grows will be abundant. Your cattle will range far and wide. Oblivious to war and earthquake, the oxen and donkeys you use for hauling and plowing will be fed well near running brooks that flow freely from mountains and hills. Better yet, on the Day GOD heals his people of the wounds and bruises from the time of punishment, moonlight will flare into sunlight, and sunlight, like a whole week of sunshine at once, will flood the land.

Matthew 13: 1-17 (the Message)

13 1-3 At about that same time Jesus left the house and sat on the beach. In no time at all a crowd gathered along the shoreline, forcing him to get into a boat. Using the boat as a pulpit, he addressed his congregation, telling stories.

3-8 “What do you make of this? A farmer planted seed. As he scattered the seed, some of it fell on the road, and birds ate it. Some fell in the gravel; it sprouted quickly but didn’t put down roots, so when the sun came up it withered just as quickly. Some fell in the weeds; as it came up, it was strangled by the weeds. Some fell on good earth, and produced a harvest beyond his wildest dreams.

9 “Are you listening to this? Really listening?”

Why Tell Stories?

10 The disciples came up and asked, “Why do you tell stories?”

11-15 He replied, “You’ve been given insight into God’s kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. I don’t want Isaiah’s forecast repeated all over again:

Your ears are open but you don’t hear a thing.
    Your eyes are awake but you don’t see a thing.
The people are blockheads!
They stick their fingers in their ears
    so they won’t have to listen;
They screw their eyes shut
    so they won’t have to look,
    so they won’t have to deal with me face-to-face
    and let me heal them.

16-17 “But you have God-blessed eyes—eyes that see! And God-blessed ears—ears that hear! A lot of people, prophets and humble believers among them, would have given anything to see what you are seeing, to hear what you are hearing, but never had the chance.

Reflections

We are easily distracted. Things change around us all the time, and we don’t even notice. We look and wonder, when did that happen? It never used to be like that. When did that change? We take for granted the street we walk on and the places where we live. There is something in the sub conscious, maybe, that says to us, things will always stay the same. Maybe that is what we hope. It is easier that way. Now, we know that is not the case. Things change all the time, but we don’t seem to take it in. We often show an amazing lack of awareness.

That led me to think, I wonder how God-aware we are. Do we notice what God gets up to? Do we care? Do we believe that things only change because the church is somehow involved in them? I like to think that God acts in spite of the church, and God’s challenge is, open your eyes, see what I am doing, and join in. How often do we act, as if God is only found in church buildings?

There are times in the bible, when Jesus seems to go out of his way to make things difficult. To tell stories that people can’t understand. You would think that if God wanted to change the world, he would make it easy for people. Instead he shared parables that left people scratching their heads and wondering, what was that all about. What did he mean, and you can imagine them going home mystified? “What did he say? I have no idea. He told us a story and I don’t know what it means!” Why did Jesus do that? I wish I had an easy answer.

He seems to say, that some people, at that moment in time, had been given insight, and many others not. I assume that insight is given by God to, let’s call them ‘God-aware’ people. Eugene Peterson in his poetic way says, God is ‘nudging’ some to understanding. Not that they have grasped everything, but there is a readiness to believe, that others just don’t seem to have.

I don’t see parables as a test, as such, but there had always been people, willing to be more open, to what God is doing and saying. Think of the prophets of the Old Testament and their challenge to people and to power. Great examples of God- blessed ears, listening, and God- blessed eyes, watching. What is ironic is this, In Matthew 13, the very people who I am assuming are in the God-aware category, still need Jesus to explain the parable to them. Maybe their openness is the very fact that they did not understand and knew, there was more to the story that Jesus had told them.

As Covid has changed the world, and as the church is seeking to be God-aware, what new things is God wanting us to look for and to listen out for. What are the God aware signs of today? The thing is, God is not going to make it any easier for us, than he did for those who heard the parable stories for the first time. The prophet Isaiah talks about the ‘right road’. But it is only by being God-aware, will we walk that road, knowing when to turn left or right, and here is the hard bit, the right road, only confirmed by God, only after the decision has been made, and not before. We need to be nudged in the right direction. But a nudge does not give us all the answers. That is where faith comes in. We are going to have to set aside what is both comfortable and traditional. We will need to clear the rubble of what we have always done. Pick what is good, and without knowing the way ahead, be prepared to follow Christ.

In our everchanging world, are we prepared to notice what is new or different, or will we simply keep our heads down, and walk only familiar paths to our places of worship? In all that is changing in Kirkcaldy, and we complain all the time, about say, the demise of the High Street, will we lift our heads and get involved. You see, our communities are the places where the Kingdom of God is already happening. God is out there. Ahead of us, and I believe he asks of us, be my partners in the gospel.

If we were to watch the video for a second time, we would be looking out for the changes taking place. Life is not like that. Each day, we get one chance, to notice. To be open of ear and eye, mind, and heart. To be God aware, of all that is going on around us. For in each and every, moment, do we see and hear the Kingdom of God. It is there, with or without us. Visible. Noisy.

Stay connected. Stay safe. Till the next time.

Prayers for today

Lord God forgive us the times when we choose not to look. Not to look out for those in need. Not to look for glimpses of Your glory. Not to look for opportunities to share your good news with others. Forgive us.

In a changing world, open our eyes to you, O God. May Your Holy Spirit reinvigorate us. May we rub our eyes and focus on what you call us to do this day, and every day.

In a changing world, open our eyes, open our hearts, our mouths, and our minds. We pray, make us God aware.

God of love and compassion, we pray for all who seek to make a difference in the lives of others. Be with carers and counsellors, medics, and mediators, be with those with listening ears and those with caring hands, be in all that opens people’s eyes to you, your love and your call.

God of justice and peace, we pray for all who seek to challenge injustices and stand up for what is right. Be with the politician and the protester, the activist and the pacifist, the vocal and the silent. Be in all that opens people’s eyes to you, your love and your call.

Hear us and help us to see you this day. Let us pray together:

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be your name;
your kingdom come;
your will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
forever. Amen.




Kirkcaldy Congregational Church Service for Sunday 26th July 2020

Joint Services for Sunday 19th July

This week there is a choice of Sunday service from either Bennochy Church or St. Bryce Kirk.

Both services are available to view below. You can choose which to watch, or why not enjoy both!

Bennochy Church Service for Sunday 19th July 2020

Readings for today

Hebrews 13:5-9 (The Message)

5-6 Don’t be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, “I’ll never let you down, never walk off and leave you,” we can boldly quote,

God is there, ready to help;
I’m fearless no matter what.
Who or what can get to me?

7-8 Appreciate your pastoral leaders who gave you the Word of God. Take a good look at the way they live, and let their faithfulness instruct you, as well as their truthfulness. There should be a consistency that runs through us all. For Jesus doesn’t change—yesterday, today, tomorrow, he’s always totally himself.

9 Don’t be lured away from him by the latest speculations about him. The grace of Christ is the only good ground for life. Products named after Christ don’t seem to do much for those who buy them.

Isaiah 43:16-21 (The Message)

16-21 This is what GOD says,
    the God who builds a road right through the ocean,
    who carves a path through pounding waves,
The God who summons horses and chariots and armies—
    they lie down and then can’t get up;
    they’re snuffed out like so many candles:
“Forget about what’s happened;
    don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
    It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
    rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
    —the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
    rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
    the people I made especially for myself,
    a people custom-made to praise me.

Reflection

Good morning. As Ken and I were discussing, this Sunday is all about being ‘open’. I hope you have seen the poster on the church web site. I know that church buildings are not yet open, but the church has never shut.

I hope you all have your paper and pen ready. I want to begin by asking you write down as many definitions of the word “open” as you can. No going online or the use of a dictionary. I will give you a moment to do that, as Bruce sings, this little light of mine.

I wonder how many you have. If you want to, email them to me and there might even be a prize. But I hope there was no cheating!

I wonder what you came up with. Let begin with, as an adjective it describes access to something, which is exposed to view and is not covered up. When people look at the church, what do they see? Do we make God accessible? As a verb, it is the movement of the ‘open door’ where people can enter the world of faith and vision. It can also mean to spread out. I have in the past used the image of the eagle. Imagine it ‘opening’ its wings to fly. What a great biblical image, as the gospel has been taken across the globe. And as a noun, it means no restrictions, and everyone one can be involved. I am sure you had plenty more.

The key question is this, as a church, what are we open to? Let me start with being open to the community. An openness, that allows not just access, but a meeting of dreams, hopes, and fears. A rubbing off, of values and beliefs. An encouragement of see worth in others, and even the face of Christ in those ‘different’ from us. It is a place of no restrictions, where in each other’s company, we are all vulnerable.

Openness is about the church being ‘guest’ around the tables of others, as much as it means being the ‘host’. It is about going out and joining in with what God is already doing and being dependant on the community. That is what the sending of the 72 in Luke 10 is all about. It is not just about what we have to offer. Openness has as its core, a mutual dependency.

Openness is about listening. That does not mean we always agree. But there will be matters of concern that we can work together in partnership. The spirit of God bringing unity of purpose. In matters of peace, compassion, and justice. Things that are important, indeed vital, to both community and church. Motivating us to come together.

We all have our rough edges, and as the church, we need our community to rub up against us and take off our sharp edges of judgement, self-interest. Our lack of love and justice. Openness allows us to make an impact. What is a faith community if it does not impact its parish and make a difference? We are here to offer God-values. We want to make the place where we are, better than it is, because that is what the Kingdom of God is all about. The world as God would wish it to be and not as it is. And just not in the future, because people live their lives, today.

I have been thinking about this idea of shaping and being shaped by. No church is an island. We will always be influenced by the community round about us. However, there are times when we only focus on being ‘shapers’ and often that is another way of saying, “come to church” and be like us. The danger of being open to the community is to ‘be shaped’, and of our traditions being shattered. That is a risk we take. Being open to our communities is also to be open to change.

Corona virus has changed the world. In the slipstream of all that has happened. Out of the ashes of all that has been lost, can we see and grasp a new future. As a church, can we just go back and try to pick up where we left off in late March. I hope not. Being open does not live in the past. Being open is being God-aware and watching for new opportunities for the future. And the thing about the future is this, it is based on what we do today. Today becomes the new tomorrow, and in the new tomorrow things will be different. There can’t stay the same.

We have heard so much about the ‘new normal’. As a church as we willing to make it a reality. Open and listening to God’s community around us. Watching for the new thing that God is doing now, and in faith, searching for what we cannot yet see, that which is always just around the corner. Our trust, based on Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today and forever.

Stay connected. Stay safe. Till the next time.

Prayers

Help us to be open to God and to know his forgiveness. God’s love is indeed greater than any of our failings.

May we be open to others, in what we offer and in what we receive. To see in people, even those different from us, the face of Christ.

Let your church be a place that opens wide its doors. Where people encounter God. In the ordinary. In the mystery and even in the miracle. Lord God, who goes ahead of us, may we join you in the work of the Kingdom. Working with others, to witness to the God-values of peace, compassion, and justice.

We need to be open to the cries of the world. Our climate is failing. The world is not an equal place. God hears the cries of the poor and those who march for justice. Lord God open our ears, and let our hearts respond.

Lord Jesus Christ be our example in the way you were open to the people you met. Your touch of healing and our words of grace.

To change is never easy. So help us to listen. To grasp the future is hard. Help us to follow.

We now pray together

Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be your name;
your kingdom come;
your will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For yours is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
forever. Amen.

Blessing

May the LORD bless you and take care of you;
May the LORD be kind and gracious to you;
May the LORD look on you with favour and give you peace. Amen (Numbers 6: 24-26)




St. Bryce Kirk Service for Sunday 19th July 2020

Joint Services for Sunday 12th July

This week there is a choice of Sunday service from either Abbotshall or Linktown Churches.

Both services are available to view below. You can choose which to watch, or why not view both!

Abbotshall Church Service for Sunday 12th July 2020



Linktown Church Service for Sunday 12th July 2020

Sunday Reflections

Robin has written, compiled, read and presented reflections for various days of the week. This is the Sunday page. You can find links to his thoughts for other days of the week by using the index on the right of the page.

The latest reflections are at the top of the page or you can scroll down to view or read earlier entries.



Reflections for Sunday 5th July

Reflections for Sunday 5th July 2020



Sunday Reflections for June 2020 ...