Sunday Reflections

Sunday Reflections (December 2020)


Sunday 27th December Service

This Church of Scotland service was led by Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.

Sunday 27th December Service

Christmas Day Service

This Joint Kirkcaldy Churches service was hosted by St Bryce Kirk.

Christmas Day Service

Christmas Eve Service of Lessons and Carols

This Joint Kirkcaldy Churches service was hosted by Abbotshall Kirk.

Christmas Eve Service of Lessons and Carols

Reflections for 20th December 2020

Reflections for Sunday 20th December 2020

Reflections for 13th December 2020

Reflections for Sunday 13th December 2020

Reflections for 6th December 2020

Reflections for Sunday 6th December 2020

Welcome

Prayer

God of faithfulness and truth, you sent your servant John the Baptist to preach in the desert and summon people to repentance. Make us and all things new, that in the wilderness of our hearts we too may prepare a way over which your Son may walk. Amen.

CH4 287: No wind at the window

Prayers

If the last year, has felt to us like a wilderness experience, in this time of Advent, revive our spirits, as we wait, with the words of John the Baptist ringing in our ears; his cry to us, as he points to the one who is to come; there is the Lamb of God, the Word made flesh.

This Advent help us to wait with patience. Help us to be expectant of what is to come. Help us to ponder and embrace the divine mystery of incarnation, of Emmanuel. ‘God with us’. And even though we know the story so well, help us to hear it, for the first time.

Help us to sit in a messy world, and to live with our questions. May we sit in a place of faith, a faith for today, and may we look forward, with hope for tomorrow.

Forgive us when we hold onto our certainties and help us to trust. To trust in God, even as the story of the rest of our lives is unknown to us. Today, this Advent, we journey to the crib, trusting God alone.

We ask, teaches us to watch quietly, wait expectantly, and prepare to seek the Christ child in humble places like a stable. That is our Advent journey. Amen.

Lord’s prayer

Light first candle on Advent wreath + 2 verses of CH4 282 Christmas is coming

Video: Out of poverty song (Christian Aid)

Reading (1) Isaiah 40: 1-11

CH4 284: Hope is a candle

Reading (2) Mark 1: 1-8

Reflection

I was intrigued recently by a couple of articles on Advent. Here is part of one of them. It said this,

The divine mystery doesn’t make sense…When we watch, wait, listen and pay attention during Advent, we are giving up our easy certainty, our need for answers that are usually only a ‘Google’ click away.

… Advent helps us practice, year after year, letting go of our certainties. …it teaches us to watch quietly, wait expectantly and prepare to seek the Christ child in humble places like a stable.

One of the things that both Scripture and the world teach us… is that “our search for truth, if we are faithful to it, will lead us to the threshold of mystery where the appetite for certainty gives way to humility and awe.”

The story of Advent and Christmas doesn’t make any sense. It is truly a mystery. If God wanted to teach us the truth about himself, why would the creator of the world, become part of that creation in the form of a vulnerable infant? That’s not good odds. Think of the risks involved. To be truly human is to be vulnerable to violence, abuse, and illness. This way of God coming into the world, is all a bit messy and well, very unpredictable. For example, think of what king Herod wanted to do.

Maybe Advent is a time to sit with mystery. Live with the questions, and accept, that is the way God did it.

Having said all that, Mark, the first gospel to be written, along with John, ignores the Christmas story in its entirety. Did no one tell him about shepherds and wise men. Did he not get that memo? Was it not important enough to be included? He begins elsewhere, with the story of John the Baptist.

Mark creates, in John, a link to the ancient prophets of the Old Testament. For many of his readers that’s important, and as such, it is a much more natural place to begin the ministry of Jesus. That link is the words of the prophet Isaiah. John is the messenger, and what better place to come from, than the desert. This is an image that resonates in the history of the people of God. The great moments where God had intervened in their lives. And not long afterwards, it would be the place of temptation for Jesus himself. We are not dealing here with random stories. Each has their place, in the bigger tapestry, woven as part of the story of God. No one part of the story, has all the answers.

It is almost as if Mark is saying, forget the child. Let’s get to the point of the story that really matters. And what more powerful statement can be made than this, this is the Good news about Jesus Christ. Here is a man who certainly stood out from the crowd. You would notice him on the High Street. You would probably cross to the other side to avoid him, but it his words that are important. Never mind the locusts and the wild honey. This is a man who called for repentance and the crowds respond in their baptisms. This is church going well.

It would have been so easy to get carried away. This is going great guns. I will hang around for a bit longer. A wee bit of fame won’t hurt. But not for John the Baptist. He announces to the crowd, I’m not important, and he points to someone else. Mark creates a nice link here. The focus continues to be about baptism, but not that of John, but of Jesus. Not of water, the Jewish baptism, but by the Holy Spirit.

John does not yet disappear from the story at this point, for he is the one who will baptise Jesus, before Jesus enters the desert. Do you see the symmetry? Here are the two cousins. From the desert John bursts onto the scene. To the desert, Jesus enters his time of temptation. Carefully scripted.

This is a far more powerful story, than that of the birth at Bethlehem. It is a story of a powerful force. Far stronger than the prophets of old. This is God in action, supercharged! The big question is this; where do we fit into the story of Advent? Bethlehem, that is the comfort zone. Imagine standing in the presence of John the Baptist. This guy is a force to be reckoned with.

We need to go through Advent to get to the crib. This year, that journey has been dominated by Covid 19, but a virus, cannot and never will, stop God coming into the world, nor dampen down the words of John the Baptist. This Advent, what do we hear, in the words of the prophets as they challenge how we live our lives? For the moment, hold onto their words, for Bethlehem still lies beyond our sight. Advent is the journey. But let us not follow the star, just yet. Christmas is the story, but we not there, yet. That miracle is still to come. Advent is the mystery. For now, stay with it.

The article on Advent concludes with these words, we can watch for the star, stay awake, listen for good news, search for the child, ask key questions and work tirelessly for justice.

The star is just starting to catch our eye. And there are rumours of a child being born. But, hold onto Advent, for just a little bit longer. Amen.

Prayers for World Aids Sunday

Lord, we pray for the work of the Church of Scotland HIV Programme and for all the project partners around the world. For people caring faithfully for the wellbeing of others and showing Your love in practical ways. We ask for Your help and strength.

We remember today all who are unable to access antiretroviral medication, particularly at this time, when Covid-19 is affecting us all.

Strengthen us so we never to grow weary of doing good in Your name, of offering the hope to others. Help us to raise our voices in solidarity with those who have been silenced. Help us to always seek justice for those whose lives are so much harder than our own.

Thank You for being the Good Shepherd who cares equally for us all and help us to follow Your example.

CH4 286: Tell out my Soul

Blessing

Why not try our Advent Quiz!




Sunday Reflections for November 2020 ...