Sunday Reflections

Sunday Reflections (October 2020)


Reflections for 25th October 2020

Reflections for Sunday 25th October 2020

Welcome

CH4 (1) 189 Be still for the presence of the Lord

1st prayers

Eternal God, before whom all history is known; every event, every character, the experience every moment; compared to you, we are but a dandelion head, blowing in the wind, or a speck of dust, caught in the sunlight. We exist only in this moment, that we call, the present.

We cannot return to yesterday and correct our errors, we cannot venture into tomorrow and discover what lies ahead, now is all we have. We are limited, confined, restricted; yet, from beyond all time and space, you reach out to us in love, to embrace us, and make us welcome as part of your creation.

This morning, we give thanks for your mercy and your grace.

God of forgiveness, who does not deal with us as we deserve: When we have thought of ourselves more highly than we ought and forgotten to put our relationship with you first; forgive us, we pray. When we have loved only those who love us and ignored or turned aside from those who need a smile, and a hand of friendship; forgive us, we pray. When we have acted as if all tomorrow was ours yet neglected to do good in the moment of this day; forgive us, we pray.

May Christ Jesus, who healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and loosened the tongues of the dumb, free us from our faults and all that would hold us back, from being the people that God wishes us to be. Lords prayer. Amen.

Video: how to survive in the desert

Readings (1) Deuteronomy 1: 22-33 (Good News)

22 “But you came to me and said, ‘Let's send men ahead of us to spy out the land, so that they can tell us the best route to take and what kind of cities are there.’

23 “That seemed like a good thing to do, so I selected twelve men, one from each tribe. 24 They went into the hill country as far as Eshcol Valley and explored it. 25 They brought us back some fruit they found there and reported that the land which the LORD our God was giving us was very fertile.

26 “But you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God, and you would not enter the land. 27 You grumbled to one another: ‘The LORD hates us. He brought us out of Egypt just to hand us over to these Amorites, so that they could kill us. 28 Why should we go there? We are afraid. The men we sent tell us that the people there are stronger and taller than we are, and that they live in cities with walls that reach the sky. They saw giants there!’

29 “But I told you, ‘Don't be afraid of those people. 30 The LORD your God will lead you, and he will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt 31 and in the desert. You saw how he brought you safely all the way to this place, just as a father would carry his son.’ 32 But in spite of what I said, you still would not trust the LORD, 33 even though he always went ahead of you to find a place for you to camp. To show you the way, he went in front of you in a pillar of fire by night and in a pillar of cloud by day.

Video: Arabian music

Reading (2) Deuteronomy 1: 34-40 (Good news)

34 “The LORD heard your complaints and became angry, and so he solemnly declared, 35 ‘Not one of you from this evil generation will enter the fertile land that I promised to give your ancestors. 36 Only Caleb son of Jephunneh will enter it. He has remained faithful to me, and I will give him and his descendants the land that he has explored.’ 37 Because of you the LORD also became angry with me and said, ‘Not even you, Moses, will enter the land. 38 But strengthen the determination of your helper, Joshua son of Nun. He will lead Israel to occupy the land.’

39 “Then the LORD said to all of us, ‘Your children, who are still too young to know right from wrong, will enter the land—the children you said would be seized by your enemies. I will give the land to them, and they will occupy it. 40 But as for you people, turn around and go back into the desert on the road to the Gulf of Aqaba.’

Reflection:

I think the common cry that would have been heard echoing in the desert would have been something like, how much longer? How much longer are we going to have to endure this misery? No decent food. We keep running out of water. How are we meant to survive, and to crown it all, where are we actually going? They even thought, would it not be good to go back to slavery, in Egypt.

They were the people of God, and they were following a promise. God would lead them to a land following with milk and honey. It was a vision to get them on the move, and to seek a new identity. Visions are good. They were words that offered hope, but as days became weeks and weeks became months, the people rose up against Moses and they complained. How long?

They were the people of God following God’s signs. How would they know the way, the direction at least, if not the destination? God gave them a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. We don’t need to try and understand these phenomena. Take them as read. These were the people of God sustained in their desert journey by the miracles of manna, quails, and water from the rock. We do not even need to believe in miracles to get the point. One way or another. By hook or by crook, God was going to get his people to the Promised Land. In the background, and right in the face of Moses, the people complained. How long?

Who in their right mind would want to be Moses? Would you? Not me. Remember, He didn’t want the job in the first place. His CV was poor and his interview at the burning bush was hardly a great success. Yet God said, ‘you’re the man’. You are the man for the job. How often did he wish to close his ears to the cries of the people and let it be someone else’s responsibility? If only Pharaoh had done a better job in trying to recapture his slave people.

The cries of the people remind me of the cries of the Psalmist. Psalm 13 says this:

How much longer will you forget me, LORD? Forever?
How much longer will you hide yourself from me?
How long must I endure trouble?
How long will sorrow fill my heart day and night?
How long will my enemies’ triumph over me?

The people of God could have made it so much easier for themselves. They actually had the opportunity to enter the Promised Land at a much earlier point in their desert wanderings. You see, Moses sent 12 spies, one from each tribe, into the land of Canaan. Basically to ‘case the joint’. Only one, Caleb, said to Moses, OK boss, let attack. The rest, well, they spread false rumours amongst the people, ‘the land is poor’. ‘The people are strong’ and even saying, giants lived there. So, the 40 days, they spent spying the land, became the 40 years, the people of God wandered in the desert. Fear had replaced faith and their journey continued.

In the midst of the global pandemic, how often have we said, or heard others say, how long will this go on for? In the midst of ongoing restrictions, it can seem unending. When are we going to get back to normal? There is no normal. When are we going to get as vaccine? Know who’s, but, in the long term, it is the only way we will live with the virus.

Is there anything we can learn from the journeys of the ancient people of God? Where are God’s promises, that one day, and it will come, that the pandemic will be spoken of in the past tense, and we will have journeyed to the land of ‘new normal’. It will happen. And in that place, we will be a vastly different people. In the meantime, what sustains us and offers hope.

What are God’s signs that keep us going in the right direction? That we are heading for the ‘new normal’. It might be things like, learning to live with future restrictions, or research, as we find out more about the virus, better medical care, and the prospect of a vaccine.

Finally, where are God’s miracles that meet our needs. What about the miracles of technology that keep us connected? The miracle of family and friends that say, ‘you matter’, even if we cannot meet together. We have supported one another. The miracles of friendship, compassion and helping your neighbour. Remember we ‘clapped for Carers’. In many ways, the virus has brought out the best in humanity.

We hold onto the fact, that one day, this pandemic will be in the past. There is indeed hope, in the promise of a new future, there are signs to look out, for and even miracles to wonder at. An ancient journey, travelled today, as many have trod before, and in faith, we grasp for and glimpse, a new tomorrow. Amen.

2nd Prayers

Please look around at the people who are gathered here. It is just a small part of our congregation. This morning we will pray for one another. In the silence of this place, I ask you to bring your prayers to God, for someone you know. You know their needs, bring them to God.

There will be someone here you don’t know very well. Remember them, and make a promise to know them better.

Our congregation is scattered. Pray for someone you know, who will later in the week, be watching the recording of the service at home. Ask a blessing on their lives.

To those who are at home. You are one with us. Please bring your prayers to God for us, for people known to you in this congregation. Together, let us Pray…

A prayer for those known to us (light a candle)

A prayer for those who we do not yet know (light a candle)

A prayer for those, not in this place, but one with us (light a candle)

Hear our prayers. Amen.

CH4 (2) 600 Spirit of God (guitar and piano)

Blessing

Reflections for 18th October 2020

Reflections for Sunday 18th October 2020

Reflections for 11th October 2020

Reflections for Sunday 11th October 2020

Welcome

Intimations:

CH4 (1) 245 It’s a world of sunshine

Today is a ‘’kind of’, harvest service. Over the past few years, we have done two things. Donated food to Kirkcaldy Foodbank, and taken an offering for the work of Jenny Featherstone in Zambia. Practically it is just too difficult to organise donations for the Food bank, but please look out for their donation points. You can find them listed on their website. I will put it on the church website, and on the left, click ‘donation points’. See FoodBank I encourage you to do that.

Now to Jenny. I got Jenny to record a short video message for us. We will watch that in just a moment. It will also be on the website. You can donate to Jenny, direct, via her donor bank account. If you wish to do that, details will be on the church web site, or please contact myself.

Donor account 44044068
Sort code 07 01 16
Name Ms J A FEATHERSTONE
Bank Nationwide Building society
Account type flex account

Video: Jenny from Zambia

1st Prayers

Readings (1): Luke 12:16-21

16 Then Jesus told them this parable: “There was once a rich man who had land which bore good crops. 17 He began to think to himself, ‘I don't have a place to keep all my crops. What can I do? 18 This is what I will do,’ he told himself; ‘I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, where I will store the grain and all my other goods. 19 Then I will say to myself, Lucky man! You have all the good things you need for many years. Take life easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself!’ 20 But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night you will have to give up your life; then who will get all these things you have kept for yourself?’”

21 And Jesus concluded, “This is how it is with those who pile up riches for themselves but are not rich in God's sight.”

Comment (1)

The meaning of Jesus story is obvious and requires little comment. I have told you this story before, but I am going to tell you it again. It goes like this. A man was asked, if you had two houses, what would you do. He said, I would keep one, and give the other away. How generous of you, the other person said. If you had two cars, what would you do. He answered, that is easy, I would keep one, and give the other away. The questioner was amazed at the man’s generosity. Let me ask you one final question. If you had two chickens, what would you do. The mans answered, I would keep both of them. The questioner was now puzzled. Why would you do that? You would give away a house and car but keep a chicken. The man answered, I have two chickens. It is easy, to give away what you do not have, and to hold onto, what you do. The human instinct is to want more, like the man who built bigger barns.

I am sure we have all heard of certain billionaires who give away most of their money to good causes. Much good in the world is done through that money. For example, The Gates foundation seeking to eradicate polio and malaria in Africa. Go to their website and it says this, All lives have equal value. We are impatient optimists working to reduce inequality. Money is required and does help the world go round. But what if you are not Bill Gates? We will hear more of the words of Jesus, in just a moment.

Silence for our own prayers – help us to listen.

Video: Harvest samba

Reading (2): Luke 12: 22-30

22 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “And so I tell you not to worry about the food you need to stay alive or about the clothes you need for your body. 23 Life is much more important than food, and the body much more important than clothes. 24 Look at the crows: they don't plant seeds or gather a harvest; they don't have storage rooms or barns; God feeds them! You are worth so much more than birds! 25 Can any of you live a bit longer[a] by worrying about it? 26 If you can't manage even such a small thing, why worry about the other things? 27 Look how the wild flowers grow: they don't work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers. 28 It is God who clothes the wild grass—grass that is here today and gone tomorrow, burned up in the oven. Won't he be all the more sure to clothe you? What little faith you have!

29 “So don't be all upset, always concerned about what you will eat and drink. 30 (For the pagans of this world are always concerned about all these things.) Your Father knows that you need these things.

Comment (2)

Tell that to the people who have nothing. Don’t worry if you don’t have any food or clothes. If God knows, why does he not provide? Is there anyone else honest enough to say, that is what I was thinking? Looking around the world in need, we could get easily get depressed. So, what are these words of Jesus all about.

This is a wee story about faith. It doesn’t matter what situation we find ourselves in, rich or poor. Bill Gates or Robin McAlpine. We all worry about the future. For ourselves and for our families. We are built to worry. Some of us more than others. Now, if you have money, it does help. It opens up choices that other people do not have. But it does not, of itself, lead to a life of faith. In Jesus story of the rich man, his faith was in bigger barns and the bigger the better. Somewhere in all of us, is that rich man. If only we had a wee bit more.

There are moments in life, when you just cannot see the future working out, either as you hoped or would have liked. Those moments when trust in God seems to ebb away. Maybe you are in that moment today. Yet, can we grasp a broader understanding of these words and believe, it does not matter where you are, or how you are feeling or how much money you have, the compassion of God is always there. Jesus says, we are worth more than the birds of the air and they don’t need to build barns, and the wildflowers in all their glory, is greater splendour, than king Solomon in all his finery.

The little phrase that I like, is the bit about, you cannot live any longer by worrying about it. We know that’s true, yet not to worry, easier said than done! We can be worry factories churning out our fears. God says, don’t let fear control your life. Our hope in the future, starting now, is built upon the solid rock of our trust in God. In those moments, and especially in those moments, when there seems to be no hope, may be hold onto and grasp, the promises of God in the words of Jesus.

The words, give us this day our daily bread, are familiar to us. In trust, and with hope, we share these words.

LORDS PRAYER

Maybe God works through such organisations as the Gates Foundation and for good works in the world, there needs to be some people, with awful big barns!

Where am I?

CH4 (2) 237 Look forward in faith

Blessing

Reflections for 4th October 2020

Reflections for Sunday 4th October 2020



Sunday Reflections for September 2020 ...