Author Archives: Iain Ramsden

Online Sunday Service – Sunday 3rd May 2020 – The 4th Sunday of Easter

3.5.2020

The 4th Sunday of Easter

Good morning folks,

Well, that’s another week behind us, another week nearer to being able to go out, free to hug loved ones and friends, visit our favourite places and so on (why do I get the urge to shout Freeedom!?) J. But not quite yet, just a wee while longer.

But this enforced ‘down time’ had given us the time to take stock of many things, such as lifestyle, priorities and much more. For many, this period has allowed us to take time out of a busy life to slow down. Maybe this time has allowed us to see what is really important to us, like family and loved ones we don’t normally give enough time to.

Giving time to those we love, actually telling them that we love them doesn’t always come easy when we are chasing our tails.

But love is something we all need – to feel loved and cared for.

I hope and pray that as you read through today’s service, you will see just how much you really are loved, even if no-one else tells you, I’m telling you here and now. Christ knows you, He knows your name, your strengths and your weaknesses, and He loves you still. That is true for each of us.

So why don’t you make a cup of tea or coffee, find a comfortable seat, take a deep breath, hold it for a few seconds and slowly exhale – and then read through today’ service.

But before all that, let us pray ~

Lord, as we sit in our different homes this morning, we unite as your family and we join our hearts to worship you.

You are the God of the universe, so awesome and immense – yet you are the God of our everyday lives – the God who created our world and all that is in it – yet you care enough for us to watch over each of us every moment of our lives.

Lord, when we DO take time to think about these things, we wonder why you should love us so. So often we deny you – so often we put you at the bottom of our daily agenda’s. We rarely praise you and we live lives which must upset and disappoint you…….. yet you remain faithful to us – even when we fail to be faithful to you.

What an amazing God you are !

We pray that you will help us and guide us to live according to your ways – loving you, loving others, loving ourselves – as you instruct us to do – in Jesus’ name.

But we know that you love us, each one, but in our busy lives we so rarely take the time to tell you that we love you too. Forgive us father.

We are often remiss in telling our loved just how much they mean to us, forgive us for that too.

Guide us to make time for those who are important to us, for those we love and for those we ought to love. May this time of compulsory containment help us to change our mindset so that we may put our priorities into order.

Lord, hear our prayers – and hear us now as we sit for a few silent moments – bringing before you all the many things that worry and concern us………. hear us too as we make our personal prayer confession – bringing to you, the things which we have said, done or thought which we know are not nice, not in keeping with one who is a follower of Christ. Help us to be open – help us to be honest – help us to see our failings and ask you for help to change so that all we say and do be to YOUR glory – not our own – so be with us now, listening Lord, in the peace of our silence………………silence……………………..

Lord you bless us beyond all our expectations, beyond anything we can ever deserve – bless us now with your forgiveness and your mercy – we pray – fill us with your love.

Lord hear our prayers – and hear us now as we pray the Lord’s prayer –

Our Father..who art in heaven.. Hallowed be thy name.. Thy kingdom come.. Thy 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.. Lead us not into temptation.. But deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever…. Amen.

We have 2 Readings this morning, both of which have the same theme – Shepherds and sheep. If you think that is hardly relevant to modern day life in modern day world– then please think again.

Read on as I explain…

Let’s read these texts for ourselves ~

Psalm 23 – A Psalm of David New International Version

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
    he restores my soul
He leads me in right path
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they support and comfort me.

You provide me with all I could ever need, and so much more.

And you fill my life with Blessing until I am overflowing with your kindness.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and when you call me to your side

I know I shall live in the house of the Lord
for evermore.”

And

John 10 : 11 – 18 – New International Version (NIV)

 Jesus said ~

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again.18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

This is the Word of the Lord – Thanks be to God

Amen.

*

Both of our readings this morning are well known to us.

The 23rd Psalm – which talks of God the Great Shepherd who provides for us, watches over us and at the last, leads us safely home.

And our reading from John’s Gospel – which tells about Jesus – the ‘Good shepherd’ who laid down his life for his sheep, that’s you and me.

There are many ‘models’ of Jesus…

There is Jesus the Saviour – Jesus the Messiah – Jesus the King of all Kings – the Lord of all Lords.

Isaiah said of Jesus – “for unto us a child is born – and he will be called – “wonderful counsellor, mighty God – everlasting Father – Prince of peace”

 

And then there is Jesus the liberator – Jesus the comforter

and so many more……….

Jesus the Shepherd’ is another model, one which many of us have been brought up with.

A kind, caring man – like a shepherd who watches over his flock – who watches out for his flock – who prepares the way for them – and provides for their every need.

It’s a comforting image – a ‘fluffy sheep’ kind of image – where everything is safe and cumfy-cosy.

For many – it’s a wonderfully reassuring image which gives us the assurance that whatever we go through – our great God goes through it with us.

But for others, that image is a ‘dumbing down’ of an awesome Saviour who broke all the laws of nature as He came down from Heaven – entering the world, to save us and to offer us eternal life.

All this talk of shepherds and sheep gives us a very ‘pastoral’ image of Jesus which nearly all churches emulate today in one way or another – with the Minister – Priest – or Pastor – having a care over his – or her – ‘flock’.

Aye – even the black sheep !!

Indeed – whenever I take a few days away – I arrange ‘pastoral’ cover in my absence. Someone to look after the ‘pastoral’ side of things for me, such as visiting and funerals.

*

That lovely 23rd Psalm is far from being and old and irrelevant verse.

It has a wonderful message for us in today’s demanding world.

It’s a beautiful and familiar Psalm to us all – and perhaps its enduring quality is that it touches at the very heart of each one of us. And that’s because it touches us all in a deep place – a place where, even in this ‘high-tech’, modern world – we all have that basic human need to feel loved and cared for.

The Psalm tells us that in a busy world – in a world where things don’t always go as we’d planned – where we have our ups and downs, our joys and our sadness – in a world where things can sometimes get dark and scary – this Psalm reminds us that our God is with us through it all. He doesn’t walk away when things get difficult – indeed, that’s the very time he draws even closer !

It’s in those ‘valley of the shadows’ kind of times that He takes us by the hand and leads us through our darkest times.

Doesn’t it say ~ even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death.   I will fear no evil, for you are with me”.. ?

Its a wonderful message for us – especially at these difficult times of ‘lockdown’ – times when we can feel isolated and down-hearted – anxious and alone.

“You’re not alone !” – it says – your God is with you – carrying you through the “valley of the shadows” times – and out into that sunshine which awaits all who put their trust in Him.

And this is no empty rhetoric – no false claim – but a firm and absolute promise to you – to me – and it’s made to each one of us – in Jesus’ name.

 What a wonderful and amazing God we have –

How blessed we are!

*

In the Old Testament – the Psalms – we hear that God is the Great shepherd – and in the New Testament, we see Jesus as the Shepherd – the Good shepherd – who cares for each one of us – his flock.

Here we see ~

The continuity of the Testaments.

The enduring promise of God’s Love throughout the ages.

*

Just the other day I was thinking about this time of Lockdown, lives being lost, jobs being eroded. So much difficulty and sadness around us – and I thought – “what has God got to say to us about all this ?”

What words of comfort and re-assurance does His Word – the Bible – have for us in such uncertain times ?

And then – as I was preparing for today’s service – I read the 23rd Psalm.

I read about God being my Shepherd – watching over me, caring for me, guiding me.

I read about God providing a safe and peaceful place for me.

I read about God restoring my soul when I feel drained and empty.

I read about God guiding me in right ways when I wonder which way to go.

I read about God walking with me through my darkest times – and He did.

I read about God Blessing me with his goodness and mercy.

I read about how God will take me home when my journey here is over.

And I read that just when I think it is all over – it’s actually just beginning…

And I read that all this is only possible – through a loving Saviour who laid down his life for me.

My precious Jesus.

If that isn’t good news in dark times – I don’t know what is !!

If that isn’t what people need to hear in these times of uncertainty – then there is nothing that can help them !!

When your future is uncertain – turn to God’s word and hear Him say – “I shall be with you always” – assuring you that he will be with you in whatever lies ahead.

When you are feeling weak and vulnerable – turn to God’s word and hear him say that “I’ll give you my strength – that will be sufficient for you

When you have financial problems – turn to God’s word and hear Him say “keep your lives free from the love of money – be content with what you have – for God has said – I will never leave you or forsake you”

 When life is getting you down – turn to God’s word and read about His wonderful plan for you.

And when you feel lost and afraid – turn to God’s word and read that He came to save the lost – and if you are genuinely seeking,

you will not be turned away.

*

The Good Shepherd is watching over you – He has a word just for you – for each one of us – as our various needs require.

It’s all in His Holy Word – the Bible – if we have the eyes to see and the ears to hear.

I’d like to finish with the 23rd Psalm – but a different version – perhaps it’ll help us see this lovely Psalm in a different way.

And as you read it, imagine that someone who knows you really well wrote these words just for – and then I hope you will realize, that actually, He did.

23rd PSALM – The Lord is MY Shepherd

Why not read it aloud..

This is God’s word, to you ~

“The Lord is my Shepherd

And I am one of his flock..

He watches over and cares for me like a good shepherd.

He feeds me and gives me cool water when I am thirsty.

And when things get too much –

He gives me the extra strength I need to help me through my troubled times and out in to that place of peace and tranquillity which He has set aside, just for me.

He keeps me on the straight and narrow path of what is right and proper – just as He promised me He would.

And even when things are at their very worst

I know I need not be afraid

Because God is always with me,

Comforting me and keeping me safe.

He makes me feel special

And gives me all I need to live a good and wholesome life,

Providing me with everything I could ever want –

Aye, and much more beside.

With God looking after me this way –

I just know that He loves me.

And so – when the end of my days shall come –

As come they surely will –

I have the joy and comfort of knowing that He will not forsake me even then – but take me to his home,

To a room that He has prepared just for me

And there I shall live with Him, my Saviour,

In peace, at his side,

For ever more.”

*

It really doesn’t get more comforting than that!

Written centuries ago – for times such as these and a people such as us.

Written for you to take comfort in.

And all this God does for each one of us – and in the name of our precious Saviour – Jesus Christ.

We really are – so blessed.

Amen.

Let us pray ~

Heavenly Father, we bring you our thanks for all your goodness to us. For family, friends and so much more, how blessed we are.

You provide us with all we could ever need and so much beside. You bless us with family and friends, homes and food on our table – even these difficult times. We really are, so blessed.

But we know that there are many, aye too many, who do not have the many things that we take for granted, bless them Lord, bless their families too.

Bless the hungry and the homeless, the sad and the grieving, put your loving arms around them and keep them safe. Remind us too Lord, of our responsibility to care for the hungry and the needy in our communities.

 

We pray for all those affected by the CV19 virus, those who have succumbed and passed on. Bless their families, caring Father.

We pray and give you thanks, for the ‘frontline’ workforce who are working so hard and sacrificing so much to keep the rest of us safe from harm – bless them with good health and keep them safe until this dark time is over.

We pray for our families and for those we love, watch over them and bring them safely through this most difficult time, we pray.

Here us now as we bring to you our own personal prayers of confession, as we bring to you the many things of which we may have said, done and thought which are not in accordance with our claim to be a faith follower of Christ.

Here now our silent prayers…………………………..

Forgive us Listening Lord, bless us with your mercy and your Grace – and all this we pray in the name of your only Son, our only Hope – Jesus Christ.

Amen.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’

There was a party in full swing – one of the guest was a well know actor with a lovely deep, rich voice.

As the evening wore on the other guests prevailed upon him to recite something for them – and after very little persuasion – he cleared his throat and in his best ‘actorial’ voice he began to recite the 23rd Psalm.

His pronunciation was perfect and his presentation of the subject was superb. The group sat enthralled – and when he finished- he took a long, flourishing bow – and was warmly applauded by all present.

The guests then asked if anyone else would like to do their ‘party piece’.

And a young, rather nervous young woman stood up and asked if anyone minded if she sung the 23rd Psalm as it had been one of her favourites in church.

Some of the guests looked at each other – not sure if they really wanted another ‘holy bit’ in the proceeding – but eventually agreed thinking – oh well – it’s soon be over and it’ll keep her happy.

So the young girl – who was a student and far from home – began to sing….. “the Lord’s my Shepherd – I’ll not want – he makes me – down to lie…” and so on – and as she sang – tears came down her face – and you could hear a pin drop……….. Lumps started appearing in throats and soon tears flowed around the room..

When she finished there was complete silence……

Eventually one lady broke the silence and said – “that was absolutely beautiful – how did you mange to put so much feeling into your voice ?” – “that was far more moving than the actors’ recital?” – said another.“Well” – the young girl said – “you see – he knew the words –

but – I know the Shepherd…”

How well do YOU know the Shepherd?…………….

Food for thought for each of us !!

Blessing

Go now – and may the Good Shepherd

Enfold you with his love – fill you with his peace – and lead you in hope,

And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father- Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you all – may He be with your families and friends and all who you love – and ought to love – this day and everyday.

Amen.

Take care, God Bless you and your loved ones.

Keep safe.

Online Sunday Service – Sunday 26th April 2020 -The Emmaus Rd

26.4.20

The Emmaus Road

Joshua 1:9

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Good morning folks,

I hope and pray that all is well with you and your loved ones this week. It’s a worrying time for us all isn’t it? Some people are either paranoid with what they touch and giving an extra wide berth when out in public, whereas others are too complacent and quite happy to mingle in the park or stand too close to strangers. I suppose a ‘common sense’ approach is the best way handle these unprecedented times.

It seems to be bring out the best and the worst in our society. So many good stories coming out, of nice people doing nice things for others. And of course that lovely old gentleman Captain Tom Moore who is an inspiration to us all.

But sadly there are those who will take every opportunity to deceive vulnerable people into parting with their money.

It’s like nothing we have experienced before – and it’s easy for us to wonder what on earth is going on – and that is just what the 2 Disciples in our text for today were wondering too!

They were experiencing something they had ever experienced before too – their best friend had been nailed to a Cross and died in agony – the whole world seemed to have been turned upside down and they were trying to make sense of those distressing, dangerous and extraordinary times.

But before all that – let us pray ~

Dear Lord and Heavenly Father, we come to praise and to worship you…. we come as a family, to be in your presence and to listen for your word to us……. We come from our different homes and lives, but with one purpose – to unite as one body, the body of Christ and show witness to our faith in you, through your son, Jesus Christ..

Lord, we lift up our hearts in joy that you are our Lord, our King, that Jesus is our Saviour and that you are our glorious hope – for this life and the life hereafter.

Father, you make the light shine out of darkness, you make the sun rise, you give us Christ, the world’s true light:

You live in light beyond all thought, yet through Christ our Lord we know you are present here, today, in our lives, in love and power:

And we praise you.

But who are we that you should remember us? Who are we that you should care for us? Yet, for all our faults, for all our failings – you love us still. What a wonderful and awesome God you are !

We remember how we have not loved or cared, as we ought,

how we have been too much wrapped up in ourselves,

to see Christ before us –

We have been too hard on others, too quick to blame;

We have grumbled, when we should have been thankful,

Have criticised, when we should have tried to help;

How we forget the rest of the world, and are happy, so long as

our own lives are relatively problem free.

Lord Jesus, we admit such things to you now, in your presence and in our silence – and we bring not only our confessions but all that troubles us – all that clogs up our minds and stops us from truly seeing you in all your glory – so be with us now as we sit – in the peace of our silence………

……..a short time of silence…………

Lord, forgive us – heal us, cleanse, refresh, renew us – strengthen our faith in times of doubt – grant us your mercy and your grace – for we ask it in Jesus’ name.

Help us to see that we need your guidance – and as we travel along life’s road – may Christ walk beside us.. leading us onward – teaching, challenging and enlightening us as to your will………..

Hear us we pray for your mercy – hear us too as we pray together – the family Prayer – the Lord’s prayer –

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come. Thy 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.. Lead us not into temptation. But deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory, forever…. Amen.

 In our reading from the New Testament this morning, we hear of the two disciples who were heading home after all that had happened at Easter – leaving Jerusalem and walking along the road to Emmaus – downhearted and despondent – they were talking about all that had happened – when they were joined by a stranger – a stranger who turned out to be someone they knew very well ~

Let’s read that together ~

Luke 24 : 13 – 35 : The Walk to Emmaus

13 That day, two of Jesus’ followers were walking to the village of Emmaus. 14 As they walked along they were talking about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things, Jesus himself suddenly came and began walking alongside them.16 But God kept them from recognizing him.

17 He asked them, “What are you discussing so intently as you walk along?”

They stopped short, sadness written across their faces.18 Then one of them, Cleopas, replied, “You must be the only person in Jerusalem who hasn’t heard about all the things that have happened there the last few days.”

19 “What things?” Jesus asked.

“The things that happened to Jesus, the man from Nazareth,” they said. “He was a prophet who did powerful miracles, and he was a mighty teacher in the eyes of God and all the people. 20 But our leading priests and other religious leaders handed him over to be condemned to death, and they crucified him. 21 We had hoped he was the Messiah who had come to save us.

22 “Then some women from our group of his followers were at his tomb early this morning, and they came back with an amazing report. 23 They said his body was missing, and they had seen angels who told them Jesus is alive! 24 Some of our men ran out to see, and sure enough, his body was gone, just as the women had said.”

25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures! 26 Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?”

27 Then Jesus talked them through the writings from Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

28 By this time they were nearing Emmaus and the end of their journey. Jesus acted as if he were going on, 29 but they begged him, “Stay the night with us, since it is getting late.” So he went home with them. 30 As they sat down to eat, he took the bread and blessed it. Then he broke it and gave it to them. 31 Suddenly, their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And at that moment he disappeared!

32 They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road and explained the Scriptures to us?” 33 

And within the hour they were on their way back to Jerusalem. There they found the eleven disciples and the others who had gathered with them,34 who said, “The Lord has really risen! He who appeared to Peter.”

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

35 Then the two from Emmaus told their story of how Jesus had appeared to them as they were walking along the road, and how they had recognized Him as He was breaking the bread.”

This is the Word of the Lord – Thanks be to God.

Amen.

*

As Robbie Burns once said – “the best laid plans of mice and men – gang oft agley!”

And how true that is…

How often have we made plans – got up our hopes – only for them to be dashed as things don’t go as we’d planned ? Perhaps more so in this time of ‘lockdown’. Weddings, Baptisms, birthday parties, all sorts of ‘happy’ times, shelved, postponed and even cancelled.

It’s disappointing to say the least – sometimes it can be devastating – and we feel downcast, disappointed and discouraged. It’s a horrible feeling isn’t it?…

that must have been how those two disciples would have felt as they made their weary way home to Emmaus – as we heard in our N.T. Reading.

.Plans had been made – hopes had been raised – and here was Jesus, that long awaited Saviour – “He was going to ruffle some feathers – shake up the holy men and the establishment – and things were going to change around here!!…”

*

Jesus – the one they had given everything up for – the one they had pinned all their hopes on – but now he was dead – arrested and killed – just like many prophets who had gone before.

Perhaps it had all been some kind of crazy dream – perhaps it was just some kind of band-wagon that they had jumped on – how could they be sure ? –

How could they be sure of anything, anymore ??

But one thing was for sure – it was all over – Jesus was dead – dead and buried – just like their hopes – or so they thought.

But even death could not halt God’s master plan – not even death could not hold Jesus in the grave – as they were about to find out !

So, there they were – 2 sad and dejected disciples – a follower called Cleopas and his wife we, think…. making their way home to Emmaus – a village about 7 miles west of Jerusalem.

They were – quite literally – walking into the sunset – like at the end of some epic movie – but this wasn’t the end – far from being over – the next phase of God’s plan was about to begin!!……..

As they travel that dark and lonely road – a stranger appears alongside them.

What are you two talking about?” He asks them – (as if he didn’t know!) J …

All that has just happened in Jerusalem !” They replied.

what’s all that then ?” Jesus said – perhaps with a mischievous smile – and they must have looked at him as if he had just landed from another planet – ‘where had he been for the last few days ?how could he not know all that has gone on?’

And so they explained all that had happened to this man they called Jesus – little knowing that it was to Jesus that they were actually talking !

And then we heard those words – perhaps the saddest words in scripture – in verse 21 – “we had hoped that He was the one who was going to save us!”

And we can almost hear the disillusionment, the disappointment in their voices.

They had, for a while, dared to hope that it might all be true – but their hopes were cruelly shattered……or so they thought.

I can imagine – perhaps you can too – Jesus looking at them with a warm, enigmatic smile – perhaps shaking his head a little – and saying – “O dear, how slow you are to understand and believe !” – “do you not remember what the prophets have said ? – do you not know that it is written that the Christ had to suffer these things !?” (verses 25-26).

And then from as far back as Moses – Luke tells us – as they walked along – Jesus talked them through everything that the scriptures had said, concerning the coming of the Messiah – the Saviour – the Christ, the Christos, the Anointed one – himself.

But even then – after all the explanations and enlightenment – they still didn’t realise who this ‘stranger’ really was !

Of course, He was no stranger ! – this was the one who had been promised since ancient times – and they had been excited by His coming – “this was the one who would change their lives – change the world” – this was their own dear friend – Jesus – who would turn their faces from the sun-set – to the sun-rise – to the dawn of a new day – just as their ancestors had done on their wanderings – when they had “journeyed towards the sunrise” – and we can read about that in the book of Numbers at Chapter 21.

And so – a bright new day was dawning – a day full of hope and expectation – a day in which Gods’ promises were to be fulfilled – and all through the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Christ – Jesus the long awaited Saviour…..

But we hear that it wasn’t until they shared a meal – and when Jesus ‘broke the bread’ – that the penny dropped as to who this charismatic fellow traveller really was !

Perhaps it was then that they saw the marks on his hands – maybe it was then – like Thomas – who we heard about last week – they saw for themselves – and believed…

It’s a powerful and potent text – and it has much to say to us – here – today.

It shows us that Jesus doesn’t force his way into our lives – He gently walks beside us – sincerely wanting us to see Him and invite him in…

It tells us too that so often, we are so preoccupied with our own agendas – too tied up with our own issues and problems – to see that Jesus is right there with us.

Hebrews 13 v 5 tells us – “Never will I leave you ; never will I forsake you…”

 We fuss and worry about what we are going to do next – how are we going to cope ? – but fail the see that the answer – the help – the hope – is, quite literally – staring us in the face.

Aye – but do we recognise Him ?

The theme of recognition – or the lack of it – is repeated through many of the resurrection narratives.

To many of those who knew him best, the risen Lord appeared as a stranger.

Close friend, Mary Magdalene didn’t recognise Jesus when He appeared to her in the garden; she thought He was the gardener.

What how about you? Would you recognise the face of the risen Lord if he drew alongside you this morning? What if He came and sat next to you in your home? Maybe He has – maybe He is !

What if He was sitting in a shop doorway as you walked past?

What if He knocked on your door this evening asking for some change for a cup of tea? Would you recognise Him – or would you turn him away?

He makes himself known to us at various points in our lives – and we either recognize Him and embrace him, and our lives will never be the same – or do we fail to recognize him and our lives goes on unchanged; a life changing opportunity missed.

It’s easy for us to become “travellers on the Emmaus road” – despondent – struggling to understand – confused and discouraged – yet Jesus knows when we need his help.

It’s when we are downcast and dejected – that he draws closer to us.

It is on our weakness – that he gives us His strength.

And this text – this story – tells us one more thing – it tells us of God’s great and glorious power –

For it tells us that Jesus really did rise again ! – that it’s only the plans of ‘mice and men’ that gang oft agley – the plans of God roll on through time – like an ever rolling stream – unhindered by mankind’s feeble efforts to control our own destiny.

And so we see that this passage – this well know narrative – is a powerful passage from our powerful God – which has so much to tell us – and then, much, much more beside.

But if we have the eyes to see it – it challenges us too.

It challenges us to look for Jesus as we travel this journey of life – of faith.

It challenges us to recognise His presence in all that is good in the world.

And it challenges us to share that belief – that certainty – of God’s ever present-ness (if that’s a word) – with others.

These are some of the challenges that this text – that ‘walking with Jesus’ bring for us – as His followers in today’s world.

 

You’ve heard of ‘kilt walkers’ – well we are ‘Jesus walkers’………. Walking with him on our journey from here – as the old film title said – to eternity….

Are you up for the challenge ?? – are we up for the challenge ??

Those early disciples were ~ as have millions of followers of Christ ever since ~

 How about you ??

I pray that you are – and I pray for you in the precious name of Jesus.

Amen.

And may God bless this preaching of his holy word – and may all the glory and the praise be His.

*

As we bring our concerns and fears for the world to God in our prayers of intercession – we think of all the awful events we hear of on the radio or television or read in the newspapers – and we think of those people affected by such tragedies.

And we think too of the situations and people that we know in our own lives – who need a prayer at this time .

At the end of each wee paragraph, you might wish to say with me

Loving Lord ~ Walk with them – we pray

So let us pray together ~

Heavenly Father,

You bless us with so much, and we offer our gratitude, appreciation and recognition of all that you do for us and our loved ones.

Lord, we give you our thanks for our families and friends – for those who love us and care for us, for those who make life good.

Loving Lord ~ Walk with them – we pray

But Father, we know that there are many in this world, aye, too many, for whom life is not good – and it is these, our brothers and sisters who share this earth with us, that we bring to you in our prayers today.

Loving Lord ~ Walk with them – we pray

We pray for those who struggle to exist, while we have plenty.

 Loving Lord ~ Walk with them – we pray

We pray for those who have the most basic medical help, while we are blessed with the latest ‘high-tech’ advances that modern technology can offer.

Loving Lord ~ Walk with them – we pray

We pray for those who are hungry and homeless while we have nice homes and our stomachs are full.

Loving Lord ~ Walk with them – we pray

We pray for those who mourn the loss of a loved one, whose lives seem to be empty of all hope and feel that life no longer has meaning.

Loving Lord ~ Walk with them – we pray

 We pray for those whose lives are being turned upside down by the thoughtless actions of others – those caught up in violence or war.

Loving Lord ~ Walk with them – we pray

We pray for those places in the world where greed and the need for personal gain is causing conflict – and we pray for those ordinary, everyday people who become embroiled in such conflict, whether domestic or on a more national scale. Lord, bless them, each one.

Loving Lord ~ Walk with them – we pray

And today we particularly pray for the families of all those who have lost loved ones, whether through the CV19 virus or some other cause.

May they know the peace and consolation which comes from placing their trust in you, knowing that their dear one is now at peace, safe in your loving arms.

Loving Lord ~ Walk with them – we pray

 

At this time we particularly pray for those ‘front line workers’ who put their own lives in danger in order to keep the rest of us safe. Watch over them, keep them safe in the face of such danger.

Loving Lord ~ Walk with them – we pray

Be with us listening Lord – as we sit together – in silence – for a few moments – each with our own thoughts – each with our own prayers – for those we know and love – and those we know who need a prayer at this time…….

Hear now, our silent prayers ~

……short time of silence as we silently name them ……

Loving Lord ~ Walk with them – we pray

for we ask it in the name of the one who walks beside us on our journey – our dear Saviour – the Risen Christ Jesus .       Amen.

Thought for the Week

We’ve been speaking about recognizing Jesus in our lives ~ here’s a wee story ~ It’s about a little boy who sat down at the kitchen table with his crayons and a big sheet of blank paper, and he started to draw.

His father, noticing the youngster hard at work at the table, stopped to look. “What are you doing, son?”

“I’m drawing a picture of God,” said the little boy.

“But son,” said the father, “You can’t draw a picture of God. Nobody knows what God looks like!”

The little boy thought for a moment and said, “Well—they will once I get this picture finished !! ”

*

Most people would agree with the father in the story. No one knows what God looks like.

But maybe that’s one of the reasons God created us in his own image, and called us to serve Him and show the world what God is like.

The Apostle Paul wrote : “As we are being draw closer to God, we are being ‘conformed into the image of his Son, Jesus Christ”

“See me” Jesus said “ and you see God” –

As we become more Godly – as we become more Christ-like – people can see in us a reflection of our Heavenly Father.

 

And so – as Christians, followers of Jesus – as we walk through this life – we must ‘conform to the image if Jesus’ and walk alongside others in love, tolerance and understanding –

That’s what God is like – that is how we should be.

So that they will see Jesus – in you!

Now that IS food for thought!

Don’t you think???

Blessing

 Go in love, joy, peace and hope ~

Go and walk with God – walk with others, showing them the love of Jesus……..

And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father- Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you all – may he be with your families and friends and all who you know and love – and ought to love – this day and everyday.

Amen.

May God Bless you and your loved ones, take care and keep safe.

Online Sunday Service – Sunday 19th April 2020 – Sunday after Easter

19.4.20 – Online Service

Sunday after Easter

Good morning folks,

How are things going with the ‘isolating’ ? Are you managing to get though all those jobs you had planned to do while in isolation? If you are anything like me, you will have made plans with good intention but time seems so slip away and another week has flown by before we know it. Oh well, there is always tomorrow! Perhaps you are feeling anxious and that is quite understandable. Worrying about families, concerned for loved ones who may live far away, or the anxiety of being enclosed for so long – and the term ‘lockdown’ isn’t helpful either.

Perhaps remembering the words of Matthew when he said “..who of you by worrying can add a single hour to their life..?” (Matt 6:27) might give us some comfort.

Calming exercises can go along way to bringing a serenity and a peace – and then follow that with Prayer, is a proven combination for reducing stress. It takes time and practice to master but I can assure it that works, it certainly does for me. Why not give it a try?

I suppose it is easy to be skeptical – there’s a lot of uncertainty and doubt about – indeed our Readings for today both talk of doubt and disbelief.

But before all that – let us join together in a Prayer

PRAYER

Lord – you are the God who so loved the world that you created the world and all that is good..

You are the God who so loved the world that you sent your only son – for us……

Lord, your love for us brings wonder into our hearts as we see the beauty of your creation all around us.

We see the bonnie hills – the new lambs, the daffodils, new growth, new life.

Lord, your love for us brings a smile to our faces as we share the joy of being alive.

Lord, your love for us brings us joy as we remember the new life and hope that is ours through the Resurrection of our Saviour Jesus.

We worship you, O God of love – and we praise you above everything –

We join with our friends and family this day, to hear your word to us…….. and we ask that it enters our hearts and our minds – and so helps us to LIVE our faith – rather than mere words or religious rhetoric……..

We need your guidance, O Lord, and we pray that you will support us as we try to improve our lives – try to live as a good example of your children .. so that we might draw others to believe in the risen Christ – and so be HIS light, shining in a dark world.

Forgive us when our faith falters, forgive us our cynicism – our need for hard evidence before we believe…… draw close to us as we come cautiously to you – for fear that your amazing power might be too much for us to comprehend.

But Lord, we know that we must sadden and disappoint you at times – and we know that our lives are not as you would wish them to be – so be with us now as we sit for a few moments in silence – looking back over the past week or so – remembering the things we ought not to have thought, said or done – the people we may have thoughtlessly hurt – and bring them before you with a humble heart.. – Lord hear us, in the peace of our silence….

….. a short time of silence………

Lord, forgive us………. heal us, cleanse, refresh, renew us – strengthen our faith in times of doubt – grant us your mercy and your grace – for we ask it in Jesus’ name.

Lord we know that you hear us when we pray in faith – so hear us now as we pray together – the prayer which brings us together as one family – the family prayer – the Lord’s prayer ~

Our Father.. Who art in heaven.. Hallowed be thy name.. Thy kingdom come.. Thy 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. Lead us not into temptation.. but deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever…. Amen.

This morning we have 2 readings –

In our first Reading – we hear about the Queen of Sheba who was fabulously wealthy – and had heard all about the amazing wealth of King Solomon – and had come to see it for herself –

And in our New Testament reading – we hear how Jesus had appeared to the disciples – giving them hope and encouragement – but Thomas, who had separated himself from them, hadn’t seen Jesus – and wasn’t too keen to believe it could be true – until he saw Him for himself

Let us read God’s word together –

Reading 1 – 1st Kings 10 : 1 – 7

Visit of the Queen of Sheba

Now when the Queen of Sheba heard of the fame of Solomon concerning the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. She came to Jerusalem with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, and very much gold, and precious stones; and when she came to Solomon, she told him all that was on her mind. And Solomon answered all her questions; there was nothing hidden from the King which he could not explain to her. And when the Queen of Sheba had seen all the wisdom of Solomon, the house that he had built, the food of his table, the seating of his officials, and the attendance of his servants, their clothing, his cupbearers, and his burnt offerings which he offered at the house of the Lord, there was no more spirit in her.

And she said to the King, “The report was true which I heard in my own land of your affairs and of your wisdom, but I did not believe the reports until I came and my own eyes had seen it; and behold, the half was not told me; your wisdom and prosperity are far greater than the stories I have heard.”

Reading 2 – John 20 : 19 – 31

Jesus Appears to the Disciples

 19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the the disciples had locked themselves away in fear of their lives. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive the sins of any, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus and Thomas

24 Now Thomas, one of the twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came to them in the room. 25 So the other disciples went to see him and told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the marks of the nails, and place my finger in the mark of the nails, and place my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26 Eight days later, his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. The doors were shut, but Jesus came and stood among them, and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side; do not be faithless, but believing.” 28 Thomas saw His wounds and touched him there and cried out “O My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said to him, “Do you believe now you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

The Purpose of This Book

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life and life eternal, in His name.”

Amen.

This is the Word of the Lord – Thanks be to God.

SERMON

How are you with practical jokes or ‘wind up’s’ as they’re called nowadays ?

You know – where people think it’s highly amusing to spin you a line about something – apparently in all honesty – and you take it in – assuming that they’re telling you the truth – only to find that it’s all nonsense and not true at all – and your apparent gullibility causes great hilarity – and all at your expense.

Not everyone’s idea of good fun…

Perhaps that’s because we like to take people at face value – giving them benefit of the doubt – assuming that they are telling the truth – why would they not be ?   Or maybe we’re just a bit gullible !!

But then – there are those who are not so easy to have the wool pulled over their eyes – they are guarded, cautious, careful – and maybe that’s not a bad thing either – and I suppose that’s just the way some people are.

That’s the way the Queen of Sheba was – as we heard in our Old Testament reading.

She wouldn’t believe the great wisdom and wealth of King Solomon – until she saw it for herself………

That’s how Thomas was too – “aye – I’ll believe it when I see it for myself !” was his motto……… and when we think about it – can we really blame him ? – after all –how do you think you or I would react in a similar circumstance ??

Perhaps Thomas is not so very different from many of us.

Imagine the scene – here we have 10 of his friends – the other disciples – excluding Thomas and of course, Judas, who had all seen the risen Jesus for themselves

He had come to them while they were in a locked room – as we saw in our reading from John’s Gospel.

And there they were – trying to convince Thomas that – as unbelievable as it might seem – it really WAS true – Jesus HAD risen from the grave!

But Thomas wouldn’t take their word for it!

He needed to see it for himself before he would believe it.

So not only was he a doubter – he was stubborn too !

Do you get the feeling that from this passage – that we’re not getting a particularly flattering picture of ‘doubting Thomas’ ?

But you know – I believe that poor old Thomas has had a bad press over these many years – and, I believe, unfairly too.

He is mentioned in all four gospels – as well as the book of Acts. But what do we remember him for ? His doubt.

But there was a lot more to Thomas than that – aye, but what?

Well – he was one of the very first 12 disciples which Jesus ‘sent out’ to drive out evil spirits and “heal every disease and sickness”.

But do we remember him for that?

When Jesus had said earlier that He must to go to Jerusalem and there to meet his death – who was it that said to the rest of the disciples – “let us also go, that we may die with him?” – yes, it was Thomas.

But do we remember him for that ?

When Jesus was explaining that He was to go to the Father to prepare a place for each one of us – who was it that said “but Lord, we don’t know where you are going – so how can we know the way ?” – yes it was Thomas again – but how many of us remember him for that ?

 

And after Jesus had ascended to the Father- and the disciples drew lots to see who was to replace Judas in their number – who was there, a part of that major decision – yes – Thomas – but do we remember him for that ?   No.

If I were to ask you to think of one word which springs to mind when I say the name Thomas – for most of you it would probably something like – “doubt” or “doubter”.

And that’s a shame – for all his faithfull discipleship – we remember Thomas for his very human trait – we remember him for doing and saying things which many of us are guilty of too.

We remember Thomas for his uncertainty – his disbelief – his doubt – yet who among us – can say that we have never had a moment of doubt ?

Who among us can honestly say that – like Thomas – our faith has never received a knock – a shake – when things seem at their very worst ?

Who – like the father who witnessed Jesus heal his demon possessed son – hasn’t at some time or another said – “Lord I believe – help me in my unbelief!” ?

Thomas was only being honest – perhaps others had their own doubts too, but kept it to themselves.

Perhaps for Thomas the thought of his beloved Jesus returning was – quite literally – just ‘too good to be true !

Just as we too might feel when thinking of a loved one lost…….

‘No it can’t be true – oh how I wish that it were – but no – it’s just not possible !’ – and we shut ourselves off – we shut ourselves out – from others who care about us – and we grieve in private – behind closed doors……

King George the 5th once said “if I have to suffer – let me be like a well bred animal, and let me go and suffer alone” – and that’s what many of us do – grieve in private – that’s just what Thomas did.

“My dear one is gone” – he must have thought – “my dear sweet, precious Jesus – dead !” And we can imagine the waves of grief overcoming him as he sat alone in his sorrow.

An understandable – yet, sorry sight – just like many of us – when we lose a loved one.

But Jesus doesn’t leave us in our despair – he comes to us – as he came to Thomas – and blessed him – so He blesses us with his comfort and his care.

Thomas couldn’t believe it – who among us would ? – how could we ? – yet there he was – standing right beside Thomas in his desolation – just as He stands beside us – if we have the eyes to see him and the open-ness to feel his presence.

But of course – Thomas wasn’t the only disciple who doubted the Resurrection of Jesus.

Last Sunday – at our Easter service we heard that when the Mary’s had found the empty tomb – they ran and told the disciples and we are told – “they did not believe the women – for their words seemed to them, like nonsense!”.. And they ran to see for themselves…… And then they believed !

I remember seeing a poster many years ago which simply said – “Jesus – just because you can’t see him – doesn’t mean He’s not there !”

Perhaps our cynical and world-weary outlook on life has made us more like the Queen of Sheba – or Thomas than we’d care to admit.

Seeing is believing” or so the saying goes – and when they saw with their own eyes – they believed.

Now you see you believe” Jesus had said to Thomas – “and blessed are those who have not seen me – and yet, believe”.

And it was then – that Thomas knew – it was then that the believed that the Resurrection was true -Jesus had risen – just as he said he would !!

It was then that he saw the light and the truth and the way ahead – it was then that he said “my Lord and my God!!”.

*

So what was it that turned Thomas around ? What had turned his unbelief – into a firm belief ??

It was the presence of Jesus – it was when he saw the extent to which his body had been injured.

It was when he saw, experienced Jesus for himself.

And that’s true for us too – we may not see Jesus in the physical sense – but it’s when we experience Jesus – when we feel His presence – see His presence in the world – in our lives – that we can truly believe.

And it’s when we feel it for ourselves – experience it for ourselves that we will want to tell others that wonderful Good News – that Jesus came, died and rose again – so that we, you and I and all who trust Him, might have eternal life.

“Be still and feel the presence of the Lord…”

It’s then that we will be able to say for ourselves that Jesus really isto echo the words of Thomas – “my Lord and my God”!

*

You know – if you have the eyes to see him, the open-ness to feel him – He is here with us right now as we share this time together He’s with you every day – right where you are.

Please don’t ever doubt it – this is no practical joke – no ‘wind up’ – it’s the greatest truth you will ever hear – and you can know it for yourself, if you have the faith to believe – truly believe.

Knowing Jesus for yourself – there really is no greater thing.

And that’s something that you can believe !!

And in Jesus’ precious name.

Amen.

And may God bless this preaching of His Holy Word – and may all the Glory and the Praise – be his.

Let us pray ~

 Living God,

We give you our thanks for the many blessing that you freely give to us each day – so many that we take them for granted.

Family, friends, a roof over our head and food on our plate – and so, so much more.

We really are so grateful but rarely take the time to say a simple ‘thank you Lord’ –

Lord forgive us –

Lord, in your mercy – hear our prayer.

But Lord we know that there are many in this world who are not so blessed as we are –

And we bring them to you in our prayers –

We pray for all those who find faith difficult or impossible —those beset by doubt, troubled by questions to which they can find no answer, unable to take the leap of faith, yet seeking, searching and thirsting for truth.

Lord, in your mercy,……………….hear our prayer.

We think of those for whom events in the world at large seem to deny your love —those confronted by natural disaster, sickened by war and violence, perplexed by sickness, suffering and disease, bewildered by the apparent victory in so many places of evil over good.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray also for those confirmed in their unbelief, unwilling to consider further the claims of the Gospel, unmoved and unchallenged by the love of Christ.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Living God,

break through the barriers of doubt and unbelief. Open the hearts and minds of all who are troubled and confused, and all who are closed to your presence.

Meet with those who find it hard to meet with you, and lead them to a living, life-giving faith.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Today we pray for our world and all who suffer from man’s inhumanity to their fellow man – those caught up in wars and violence – pain and suffering – death and destruction – through the evil and violent actions of others…… and pray for an end to their suffering…….

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for those who are suffering ill health – physical and emotional pain – and ask that your healing presence be upon them………….. We pray too for those of our own families – and those we know need a prayer at this time.

Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer

So draw close to us now as we sit together – in silence – for a few moments – each with our own thoughts – each with our own prayers – for those we know and love – be with us listening Lord – and hear our silent prayers……………..

……a short time of silence……

 Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayer –

for we pray in and through the name of our dear sweet Jesus.

Amen.

‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’

Our theme for today has, of course, been the uncertainty and doubt – something we all experience at some time or another. But here is a story which, I hope, will give us food for thought.

This is a story about a man called Callum, who had the misfortune to get caught in a serious flood. The water was rising all around him and was soon up to his knees. He climbed the staircase to the first floor but still the water rose. It wasn’t long before the water was up to his waist and he looked out of the window to see what was happening to his neighbours.

A boat was passing and the occupant shouted, “Hey, Callum! Quick, climb aboard my boat and I will take you to safety.”

Callum smiled and replied, “Thank you very much, but I have had a word with God and he will take care of me.” Soon the boat was out of sight.

The flood would not stop and the water continued to climb. Callum was forced onto the roof of his home and he surveyed the rising water below him.

Just then, a helicopter flew over and a man used his microphone to tell Callum that worse was yet to come. He threw a rope down to Callum and cried, “Quick Callum, climb up while you still have a chance!” Nevertheless, Callum had been a good man all his life and placed his faith in the Lord, so he declined the offer. “You don’t have to worry about me,” he shouted.

And the waters rose and rose until finally it was all over. Callum was taken from this earth.

As already mentioned, Callum was a good man, so naturally he was taken to the pearly gates to meet St. Peter.

On entering heaven he was taken and introduced to God who welcomed him with open arms. But, Callum was not content and asked God, “I am confused my Lord. I have been a devout follower my entire life, and never once have I strayed from your chosen path. I believe I was too young to die now. I prayed to you and asked you to save me, but my faith let me down. How could you have been so cruel?”

And the Lord replied, “What do you mean I let you down? I sent you a boat to save you, and a helicopter as well – but you sent them away! Where is your faith in me?

Callum dropped his head, smiled and said “O Lord my God, why did I ever doubt you?”

A tear fell from Callums’ eye as the Lord said – “You are forgiven my son, enter now into the Kingdom of God.”

God is all around us, with us every minute of everyday – but do we see Hm?

Mmmmmm – food for thought for us all.

May the Love, Grace and Peace of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you, your family, friends, all you know and love, and ought to love.

This day and every day.

Amen.

Take care, God Bless and keep safe.

An Easter Reflection

Why Did Jesus Fold the Napkin ?

The Gospel of John (20:7) tells us that the napkin, which was placed over the face of Jesus, was not just thrown aside like the other grave clothes. The Bible takes an entire verse to tell us that the napkin was neatly folded, and was placed separate from the grave clothes.

John 20 : 1 – 7 tells us ~

“Early on Easter Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, ‘They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and I don’t know where they have put him!’ Peter and the other disciple ran to the tomb to see.. The other disciple outran Peter and got there first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen cloth lying there, but he didn’t go in.

Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the napkin that had covered Jesus’ head was neatly folded up and lying to the side.”

Was that really important? Absolutely!

Is it really significant? Yes!

Why? Well, in order to understand the significance of the folded napkin, you have to understand a little bit about Hebrew tradition of that day.

The folded napkin had to do with the Master and Servant, and every Jewish boy knew this tradition.

When the servant set the dinner table for the master, he made sure that it was exactly the way the master wanted it…

The table was furnished perfectly, and then the servant would wait, just out of sight, until the master had finished eating, and the servant would not dare touch that table, until the master was finished.

Now, if the master were finished eating, he would rise from the table, wipe his fingers, his mouth, and clean his beard, and would scrunch up the napkin and toss it onto the table.

The servant would then know to clear the table. For in those days, the scrunched up napkin meant, ‘I’m finished.’

But if the master got up from the table, and folded his napkin, and laid it neatly beside his plate, the servant would not dare touch the table, because……….. The folded napkin meant, ‘I’m coming back!’

Is that why Jesus folded up the head cloth or napkin before leaving the Tomb?

A simple, subtle yet powerful reminder to His followers that He would be back – just as He promised He would.

And that is exactly what He did – on that First Easter morning…

He came back !

He is Risen – He is Risen indeed !!

God keeps His promises…

Amen!

Online Sunday Service – Sunday 12th April 2020 – Easter Day

12 . 4 . 20 Week 4 – Easter Day

Please look out for an Easter Reflection called – Why did Jesus fold the napkin?

It will be posted tomorrow morning – Easter Monday.

*

Good morning folks,

I sincerely hope and pray that you and your loved ones are managing to keep safe and well at this most difficult time.

It’s a challenging time isn’t it? As we worry about family and friends, try to keep ourselves out of harms way and use this ‘down time’ as usefully as we can.

It’s so easy for us to nap throughout the day or watch TV to pass the time but keeping ourselves healthy is important for our overall wellbeing mentally as well as physically. I have a wee thought about all this in my ‘Thought for the Week’ at the end of the Service.

Today is of course, Easter Day – the day of Resurrection, when Christians celebrate the day that Christ rose from the dead, the most important day in our Christian calendar. Yes, even more important than Christmas! For our faith is not that Jesus was born (as important as that is) or died (as important as that is too) but that he He rose again!

We will hear about that in a moment – but first, let us pray ~

Almighty God, it is with joy and praise, with awe and wonder, with gladness and celebration, that we bring you our worship on this Easter Day. This day of Resurrection.

We lift up our hearts, we lift up our thoughts, we lift up our voices, we lift up our souls, recognizing once more, all you have done for us, in and through Christ.

We rejoice in the message of this day, the Good News at the heart of our faith —light after darkness, joy after sorrow, good after evil, life after death!

Almighty God, speak to us again today through all we read and pray.

May the truth of the Resurrection inspire us with new hope.

May the victory of Christ fill us with new joy.

May the reality of His presence fill us with new faith.

And so may we serve you with new enthusiasm, to the glory of your name.

Loving God, we freely admit our faults and failings.

We acknowledge that we are far from perfect..

And we ask for a healing and a renewal in our lives……

We ask for a cleansing, a refreshing of all that has become jaded and routine in our worship – in our lives – in our love for you….

Forgive for our wrongdoings, restore us through the love of Jesus – revive us in the Holy Spirit – strengthen us through your Holy grace – so that we might better serve you and so live to your honour and your glory – through Him who died and yet rose again for us – our dear Lord Jesus – in whose name we pray.

Lord, we know that you hear us when we pray to you in faith – and so hear us now as we pray together, the family prayer – the Lord’s prayer ~

Our Father, who art in heaven.. Hallowed be thy name, Thy kingdom come. Thy 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. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever. Amen.

The Bible reading this morning tells us what happened on that very first Easter day.

It’s a well enough known passage but there’s much more to it than first meets the eye!

Let’s read it together ~

Luke 24 : 1 – 12

 News That Jesus Has Risen From Death

Very early Sunday morning, the women came to the tomb where Jesus’ body was laid. They brought the sweet-smelling spices they had prepared. They saw that the heavy stone that covered the entrance had been rolled away. They went in, but they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. They did not understand this. While they were wondering about it, two men in shining clothes stood beside them. The women were very afraid. They bowed down with their faces to the ground. The men said to them, “Why are you looking for a living person here? This is a place for dead people. Jesus is not here. He has risen from death. Do you remember what he said in Galilee? He said the Son of Man must be handed over to the control of sinful men, be killed on a cross, and rise from death on the third day.” Then the women remembered what Jesus had said.

The women left the tomb and went to the eleven apostles and the other followers. They told them everything that happened at the tomb. 10 These women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary, the mother of James, and some others. They told the apostles everything that happened. 11 But the apostles did not believe what they said. It sounded like nonsense. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb to see. He looked in, but he saw only the cloth that Jesus’ body had been wrapped in. It was just lying there. Peter went away to be alone, wondering what had happened.”

Amen.

Well, here we are, Easter Day. It seems no time since we were putting away the Christmas decorations!

A wee boy in my Sunday school said to me “Mr Ramsden, Jesus couldn’t have been very old – if he was born at Christmas and died at Easter!” Bless….

Time certainly does fly. And for Jesus those few short days between the ‘Triumphal Entry’ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday with shouts of “Hosannah!’ from the cheering crowd – to the dark jeers of ‘Crucify Him!’ on Good Friday must have seemed like an instant. How quickly the mood had changed.

But as always, Good News in never far away when Jesus is around. And so the bad news turned once more into Good News when – “…on the third day, He rose again!…” Where were the cheers of “Halleluiah then!? How fickle our human ways can be.

The Resurrection is something that many people struggle with, including devout Christians.   I mean, once you have passed away then that’s it, isn’t it!?  Our common sense might be saying ‘yes’ but our faith tells us ‘no’.

It was no different for those who knew Jesus well. Our Reading for this morning from Luke’s Gospel tells us what happened when the women went to pay their respect to their friend Jesus with spices and oils to anoint His body, ready for burial.

They were taken aback – as they looked inside and saw Jesus was gone – and then – as if all that wasn’t enough – verse 4 tells us that 2 men in shiny suits – 2 angels – suddenly appeared beside them !!

“And they were afraid.”

No wonder they were afraid!   Wouldn’t you be!?

Where is He…?” they asked…

And the angels spoke – verse 5 – “why are you looking for Jesus in here !” One said – “don’t you remember that he told you he would rise on the third day – have you forgotten so soon!?”

He said that all this was going to happen – so why are you so surprised?’ said the other angel.

“Oh ye of little faith” as Jesus had once said.

“And then they remembered His words”. They remembered bad news followed by the good news! see verses 7 & 8.

The Good News which is littered throughout the bible for us to see – if – we have the eyes to see them.

The clues to God’s great plan for His people – are all in the bible, like stepping stones to the other side….

And perhaps it was this that the women remembered too – where the men failed to see.

God’s amazing plan – God’s wonderful promise – unfolding – there at the empty tomb.

And with a new understanding and joy and excitement – they rushed off to tell the others.

But – in verse 11 – we hear that no-one would believe them – because, as it says – “their words – seemed like nonsense”

That’s still true today isn’t it!? – when we tell others the good news of Jesus Christ – about how He came to save us – how He died so that we might have the promise of eternal life – and not only that, how He died a horrible death – but that 3 days later – He rose to a glorious Resurrection – so that we too will have the hope of a new life when we pass from this life into the next.

Many listen and believe, but to others – our words “seem like nonsense” see verse 11.

But then, there are those – like Peter in verse 12 – who are curious – who want to see for themselves.

Peter, it tells us, went to the tomb, looked in and saw the proof for himself – Jesus was gone ! Perhaps he really had risen – just as he had said he would!?

Perhaps – like Peter – you are curious – unsure of the truth.   If that’s so – then this story is for you.

Perhaps someone once told you the ‘Good News’ of Jesus – and like the disciples in our text for today – you didn’t believe them – perhaps you still don’t. If that’s so – then this story is for you.

Perhaps you have a strong faith – like the women at the tomb – and believe that Jesus died and rose again – for you. Then this too – is your story too – as you accept with thanksgiving, the promises of life and life eternal – and all because of the resurrection.

It speaks to every one if us.

*

And so – in these few verses from Luke’s gospel, we see the whole of Christian life displayed.

We see the ups and the downs – the faith and the doubt – the unconvinced and the certainty – the curious, the witness – the sadness of death – and the joy of the promised resurrection.

It’s all there for us – if we read it carefully – and let our eyes slip between the lines – and pick out the clues.

But this is no story of death and destruction – or fear and failure – this is a story new life and resurrection –

Love and hope, excitement and expectation.

This is a cosmic narrative – a Holy truth – a practical demonstration for all to see the great Power of our Holy and Almighty God. Jesus can overcome even death!      And through Him – so too can we..

That’s what the Resurrection is all about – that’s why it’s important – that’s why we celebrate God’s power over death – that’s why Easter is so significant to us – to all Christians – to the world – not that Jesus died – but that Jesus rose again!

Proving that nothing – is impossible for our God (see Luke 1 : 37)

It’s all part of God’s great plan –

And you are part of his divine plan –

You have an important part to play.

Your very life – your precious soul – are entwined – interlinked – interwoven – with the life, death and Resurrection of our Saviour –

Who was raised to new life – life everlasting – on this Easter day – this day of Resurrection !!

Now that really IS – something to celebrate!

Don’t you think??

I wish you and your loved ones a Happy Easter!!

And in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Let us Pray ~

Lord Jesus, as you made yourself known first at Easter to the people who most loved you and missed you, make yourself known on this Resurrection day to any who have felt cut off from you-any who are burdened by guilt, and do not understand how much you love them. Any who feel that joy has gone out of their life for ever. And as you dealt patiently with those who couldn’t understand, deal patiently too with all people who are handicapped by closed minds, all who fear that the resurrection news is too good to be true – all who are held back from faith by intellectual barriers of doubt. Make yourself known to them too; and set them free.

We pray for all who suffer the distress of losing a loved one – be with them Lord and bless them with your love and your care – help them to come to terms with their loss and comfort them – comfort us – with the knowledge of that new life which awaits us all – and that their loved ones are now experiencing – free from all the worries of this life – they are now resting in peace – perfect peace we pray.

We ask for your blessings upon our own families – and our church family – bless them, dear Lord, keep them safe, in Jesus’ name.

This Easter, we pray for those who have lost their lives to the CV 19 virus and we pray for their loved ones who mourn their passing. We pray too for those who are on the frontline in the battle against this horrible disease – watch over them, keep them safe, bless them and bless their families too.

We pray for all those who have everyday jobs, yet so necessary to the life and well being of each of us. Bless them too Lord, keep them safe.

Be with us now, Lord, as we sit for a few silent moments, each with our own thoughts, each with our own prayer – for those who we know, in our own lives who need a prayer today………short time of silence….

Be with them all listening Lord, for we bring them before you in the name of the risen Christ – the one who overcame the darkness and rose into your light – refreshed, renewed – our Lord, our Saviour, our hope for the future – our dear Lord Jesus. Amen.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

This is an Easter Day like we have never experienced in our lifetimes. We are unable to join with our families and friends in Church, to sing those great Easter Hymns such as “Jesus Christ is risen today, halleluiah!’, “Christ is alive, let Christians sing”, ‘Thine be the glory, Risen conquering Son!’ – and many more. Not able to join with our church family in Prayer for all God’s goodness and Greatness…

Easter is a time of great joy, but this year it will be overshadowed, for many, by anxiety and fear. Fear of the unknown, fear for our families, our friends and for ourselves that the CV 19 virus might visit too close to our home or the homes of the ones we love.

Did you know that the words “Fear not,” appear 365 times in the Bible? One for everyday (not a lot of people know that). God doesn’t want us to go a single day without hearing his words of comfort.

Philippians 4 : 6 – 7 Paul tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

And Psalm 46 v10 tells us to “Be still, and know that I am God.” Great advice for us in these testing times.

Easier said than done I know, but if we can put our trust in a God who can overcome death, as He did on Easter Day, then surely He is a God who is worthy of our trust and our confidence that he CAN do great and wonderful things.

“In God we Trust” is, of course, the official motto of the USA and is a good motto for our lives.

If we put all our trust in God we can rest assured that our Great God will be with us in our times of trial.

God is not just for Sunday’s, He is for every day , in every situation, whether working on the NHS frontline or safe at home, He promises to be with us, watching over us as we go about our lives.

So take comfort in God’s almighty, all caring, all loving presence. God will see us through.

Is ‘All your Trust in the Lord’? I hope and pray that it is – there is no better foundation on which to build your life.

Amen.

I’d like to leave you with a final thought – in the form of a Poem called – RESURRECTION.

Round the dark and troubled world – the bells of Easter ring,

Bringing to our weary hearts – the message of the Spring.

Season of awakening – renewal and rebirth,

Mystic resurrection – of the glory of the earth.

 

Hope revives and joy returns – and faith is now reborn,

In the light that comes with – the resurrection morn.

As we hail the risen Christ – His image we can see,

Shining through the loveliness – of field, and flower, and tree.

 

Pledges of immortality – in every living thing,

Promise of eternal life – in seed, and leaf, and wing.

Love has triumphed over death – The stone is rolled away!

God has granted unto us – another Easter day !

That hindrance to life – that stone is taken away for us too – Giving us new life – through Jesus…. when we give our lives over to Him –

So if you’re thinking of fully committing yourself to Jesus – what better day to do it than today – on Easter day – that glorious day of ‘new life – new beginnings’ !!??

Let us pray

Lord receive our praise this Easter day – receive us – revive us – renew us – receive our very lives and so we may have that new beginning which Jesus promises to each one of us……. And all this – through the glory of God – through his risen Son – our dear sweet Jesus……to whom we give all the honour and the glory – this Easter day – and every day. Amen”.

And now ~

Go in joy, hope peace and love-

Go out and celebrate the new life that the risen Jesus has given you……..

And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father – Son – and Holy Spirit – be with us all – be with our families and all who we know and love – and ought to love – this day – and every day.

Amen.

Take care, God Bless and keep safe.

HAPPY EASTER !!

Don’t forget to look on this site tomorrow morning to hear the intriguing Reflection ~

Why did Jesus fold the Napkin ?

Online Sunday Service – Sunday 5th April 2020 – Palm Sunday

Online Service 3.

5 / 4 / 20  

PALM SUNDAY

“The Triumphal Entry’

Good morning, I hope that you are all safe and well and keeping out of harms way. It’s getting quite scary isn’t it!? We are now hearing of people we know who have the Virus and that brings it closer to home for us.

I hope you are coping well with the isolation and managing to find some peace in this very difficult situation. It’s like nothing most of us have ever experienced before, so how can we prepare ourselves?

Keep calm, keep healthy, keep praying and keep others in your prayers too.

As you will probably know, today is Palm Sunday – the day we celebrate the Entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem, on a donkey. It is the beginning of a week of extreme highs and intense and heart breaking lows.

But before we look at that – let us pray together ~

Dear Lord of heaven and earth – we come to praise and worship you – you are our amazing king – you are the Lord of lords, yet you humbled yourself on that first Palm Sunday when you rode into Jerusalem on that small donkey. Today we remember the joy and excitement of that day and we come to sing your praises at your coming into our lives today.     We give thanks for all Jesus achieved in His ministry, in those 3 short years- and all that was achieved in that week, in those 7 short days. But we know that our human ways can be fickle – and we remember that the cheers of “hosanna” soon turned to shouts of “crucify him” in just a few days – remind us to remain faithful to Him who gave his very life for us – Jesus Christ.

Remind us of all that He endured, the humiliation, the pain and the suffering – was all for us.

But we know that for all your kindness, your consideration and your compassion – for all you suffered ~ we show little gratitude or appreciation. For all your guidance and your encouragement, we fail to follow your advice or live in accordance with your ways……. We say and do things which we know we shouldn’t – we hunger for things which we are aware give us no real satisfaction – forgive us we pray ……… and hear our silent prayer now as we bring our personal prayer of confession to you – so Lord be with us – in the peace of our silence ………

……………..short time of silence…………..

 

Caring Lord, as undeserving as we are, we ask for your forgiveness, your mercy and your grace…. be with us on our journey of life and guide along the right paths, we pray.

 

Lord we know that you hear us when we pray to you in faith – so hear us now as pray together – the family prayer –

Our Father.. Who art in heaven.. Hallowed be thy name.. Thy kingdom come, Thy 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.. Lead us not into temptation.. But deliver us from evil .. For thine is the kingdom.. The power and the glory forever…. Amen.

Our New Testament reading is that great narrative of Jesus entering Jerusalem to a royal welcome – cheers – palm leaves, cloaks laid at his feet – He was following his destiny – following God’s will for him – and the crowd went wild ! It was a day of great celebration – aye – but was it to last ?? ~

Let us read God’s word together ~

Mark 11 : 1 – 11 Jesus comes to Jerusalem as King

As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, “Why are you doing this?” say, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here shortly.”’

They went and found a colt outside in the street, tied at a doorway. As they untied it, some people standing there asked, ‘What are you doing, untying that colt?’ They answered as Jesus had told them to, and the people let them go. When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

‘Hosanna! ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!’

10 ‘Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!’

‘Hosanna in the highest heaven!’

11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and went into the temple courts. He looked around at everything, but since it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the Twelve.”

Amen.

May God bless to us this reading of His holy word.

In that reading from Luke’s gospel – we hear the well known account of Jesus entering Jerusalem to a hero’s welcome.

The crowd were high – they were shouting and cheering. There was a real ‘carnival’ atmosphere that day – as the Saviour entered through the gate of the holy city of David – riding on a donkey – just as the prophets of old had foretold.

The Psalmist – Isaiah Malachi

He prophet and priest Zechariah – had written over 500 years before ~ “ rejoice greatly, shout, daughter of jerusalem, see, your King comes to you – righteous and having salvation – gentle and riding on a donkey”.

And here – now – before their very eyes – the prophesies were being fulfilled.

*Jesus and his companions would have been weary – it had been a long journey – 3 years in the travelling ––

An eternity in the planning.

The preparation for this journey had begun before time.

The wheels – so to speak – were set in motion, long before the earth was created.

And on that very first ‘Palm Sunday’ – in Jerusalem – God’s ‘master plan’ was continuing to unfold.

*Jesus had travelled a long way since his birth in Bethlehem.

But then, Jesus was used to journeys.

33 years before – he had made a journey to life – as he travelled from Nazareth to Bethlehem – cradled in His Mothers’ womb.

Then their was the flight from Bethlehem into Egypt as the cruel king Herod sought to kill the boy Jesus.

There were the lazy days of childhood – about which we know very little.

Then came his Baptism by his cousin John the Baptiser..

His mission had begun………………

He had called his disciples into service.

Then came the miracles and the healings – the personal encounters – the mass hysteria – followed by times of solitude and prayer.

There was the preaching and the teaching – the wanderings – accompanied by a small band of loyal followers – who never really understood what it was all about – yet faithfully followed Jesus anyway – because they could see that there was something very special about this man from Galilee.

There had been journeys into His homeland of Galilee – Palestine – Judea – journeys on boats – journeys on foot – journeys into dark places – journeys which brought joy.

And then there was the last lap of the journey – the road to Jerusalem – Jesus was journeying to his death – death on a cross.

Yes, Jesus knew all about journeys.

His ‘triumphal entry’ – as it has been called – was a brave act of defiance – he was a man with a price on his head – wanted by the authorities – yet instead of sneaking in by another way – he calmly and boldly – entered the city with head held high !

What amazing courage that must have taken

Now – the end was now in sight ~

Or was it just the beginning!?…..

The day had come – the wandering was over – as Jesus entered the gates of that ancient, holy city – a city with attitude – a city with a history.

It had withstood invasion after invasion – it had seen more than it’s share of bloodshed. It was populated by very rich – and the very poor – the holy – and the heretic.

It was a city whose religious leaders were far removed from the everyday lives of the everyday people.

Their ancient religion bore no relevance to their reality – the people saw only restriction and hypocrisy.

It had become a religion of “thou shalt not’s” – and sadly, many still think that is what religion all about today – instead of seeing the joy and the freedom that it brings.

It was a city in need of a God who would love and care for them.   A city in need of a Saviour – who would free them from all that they endured – who knew their problems and their needs – and their names.

Their traditions told them that God would send a rescuer,

a ‘man on a mission’ – someone who would drive out the occupying roman forces by the strength of his arm – a strong saviour.

Their hopes were raised – their expectations were high ~

No wonder they cheered – no wonder they shouted Halleluiah ! – no wonder they laid out palm branches like a ‘red carpet’ – for their Saviour to walk upon.

*

And so, it was into this melting pot that Jesus entered that day – riding on a donkey.

And so the people cheered!

But wait a minute ! – are those ‘alarm bells’ I hear??

What kind of warrior king was this?

What kind of hero was this?

Where was the crown?? Where’s the army??

And riding a donkey ? – whatever next!

That was the means of transport for a merchant or a priest, perhaps!

Where was the white charger that a conquering king triumphantly enter a city on?

But this was no ordinary king – no ordinary saviour. Jesus came to save alright – but not by the strength of His arm – by the power of His love – the power of God!

He was laying out his credentials – showing just what kind of king he was.

He was a King and a Prince – rolled into one.

He was the king of kings and the prince of peace – come to save them – but not from the Roman rulers – but from themselves – from their lack of faith – their insistence on going their own way rather than God’s way – and to save them from the awful consequences of living a life apart from the Father.

But they didn’t know this yet – that’s why they cheered.

They were full of excitement and hope – Jesus was full of love and compassion.

His very entrance in to the city – was a challenge to the establishment – a threat to the religious leaders – an act of defiance to the roman overlords –

And a promise kept, to the people.

God’s promise – God’s pledge to send a messiah – a deliverer – was being fulfilled.

That too – is why they cheered. Jesus was fulfilling God’s promise – God’s plan was rolling on, like an ever rolling stream.

*

And so – yes – Palm Sunday was a day of celebration and joy – for many reasons – but Jesus knew that lay ahead… betrayal, agony and death…

That was the bad news.

But there was good news too – there always is when Jesus is around !

And although what came in the short term was intrigue, plot, betrayal, humiliation, suffering and death………..

Long term it brought love, care, peace, a chance of a new life, a chance to have eternal life with Him who suffered and died for us during that awful ‘holy week’………

That’s what this all about – it’s what it’s always been about !

That’s why Jesus came in the first place – cradled in his mothers womb as she entered Bethlehem on that silent, holy night – riding on a donkey.

All to fulfill God’s eternal plan – birth, life, death – and resurrection to a new eternal life.

And that plan is still being worked out today – in you and in me – in all who put their trust, their faith, their life – in the hands of jesus.

We all have birth, life and we will all, one day, pass away – and because of Easter – because Jesus chose to go to Jerusalem and fulfil God’s plan for him, we too can know a resurrection to new life, both here and hereafter.

It’s what Easter’s all about and we will hear all about that next Sunday, on Easter Day.

No wonder the people were excited and cheered and shouted ‘Halleluiah’ !! …….. Maybe we should get excited and shout about it more often too !!……………

And so – as we walk towards the cross with Jesus, this ‘holy week’ – let us give thanks for all that Jesus endured, for our sakes – let us pray for the strength and courage to stand with and stand up for our Saviour – in this ‘melting pot’ of a world that we live in…

A world where God is too often side-lined, dismissed and rejected as irrelevant in a modern day world.

Short sighted thinking, short sighted lives. Seeking short term pleasures but losing long term gains in the process.

We pray for them, that they may come to know just what Jesus did for them, what He promises them ‘life here and life hereafter’ – a promise made to you in Heaven and reiterated to you this very day.

But how will they know if we do not tell them?

As the old Hymn says, let us, you and I ‘Stand up, stand up for Jesus…’ the Saviour of mankind – the Saviour of each one of us… who gave up His life for us.

That really is something to shout about!

And let us do it – in the precious name of Jesus.

Amen.

Let us pray together –

Lord – on Palm Sunday, you were given a hero’s welcome, but you chose to demonstrate your power with humility.

Help us to put behind us our pride and arrogance – so that we may follow in your steps – in humility – on the journey that you have chosen for us – and so, in your time – enter your gates with thanksgiving………

As we celebrate and sing your praises – we know that elsewhere there are those who do not know the love and peace that we have found. And we pray for them.

Those involved in war – starvation and deprivation of so many kinds –

Today, we particularly think of the many areas where our brothers and sisters who suffer – and watch their families suffer because of the lack of the basic necessities of life.

Lord, we pray that their suffering will be a short one – but we fear that it may not..

Stir us to help – wake the world up to their cry – and call all of us to see that if we profess to be followers of Christ, then we too must feed the hungry and clothe the naked……..

Lord – you came as the Prince of Peace – and we pray for peace in the world – and ask that your love and peace will be with those who have lost loved ones – give to those serving in all conflicts, both courage and strength and the knowledge that you are watching over them………

Bless those at home who are anxious at this time – and we pray for those who put their own lives in danger to keep us safe – watch over them and their loved ones too.

Be with those who are struggling with the time of isolation. Give them your peace and your calm, may they know the love of Jesus for themselves.

We pray for the sad, the lonely and the abused, aye maybe someone reading this today feels that.

Touch their lives and bring them comfort in their dark times. Shine your light upon them, cast away their shadows and remind them that they are never alone – for you are with everyone of us – you do not fail or forsake us, you are our ever present help in troubled times.

Listening God – be with us now, Lord, as we sit for a few moments in silence, each with our own thoughts, each with our own prayer for those whom we know, in our own lives, who are in need of your hand upon them, at this time – so hear us now listening lord – in the peace of our silence………………………….

 

Lord there are so many who need your blessings upon them – be with them as we bring them before you today – in the name of our dear Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.       Amen.

A ‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’ for our young people – and for the ‘young at heart’ J

Imagine the scene ~ it’s the day after Palm Sunday – Palms and banners litter the streets of Jerusalem – the donkey who carried Jesus the day before – wakened, his mind still savoring the afterglow of the most exciting day of his life. Never before had he felt such a rush of pleasure and pride.

He walked into town and found a group of people by the well. “I’ll show myself to them,” he thought.

But they didn’t notice him. They went on drawing their water and paid him no mind.

“Throw your garments down,” he said crossly. “Don’t you know who I am?”

They just looked at him in amazement. Someone slapped him across the tail and ordered him to move.

“Miserable heathens!” he muttered to himself. “I’ll just go to the market where the good people are. They will remember me.”

But the same thing happened. No one paid any attention to the donkey as he strutted down the main street in front of the market place.

“The Palm branches! Where are the palm branches!” he shouted. “Yes­terday, you threw palm branches!”

Hurt and confused, the donkey returned home to his mother.

“Foolish child,” she said gently. “Don’t you realize that without Jesus, you are just an ordinary donkey?”

*

You know – that’s like us, we are ordinary people – but when we are in His service, working for His good – and we have the knowledge that He is with us – then we are lifted up with confidence and strength to become much more than just ‘ordinary’ – we are ‘key players’ in His great and wonderful plan – for the world and for our own lives – and that makes us very special indeed !!

 What a lovely thought…

Amen.

And may the Blessing of almighty God – Father – Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you all, with your families, all who you know and love – and ought to love –

this day – and every day.

 Amen.

 Take care, God Bless and keep safe.

Online Sunday Service – Sunday 29th March 2020 – Lent 5

Online Service 2 – 29.3.20 – Lent 5

Good morning,

I hope your week has gone well and you are managing to keep well clear of the dreaded COVID 19. Things are getting a lot worse and becoming very real for us as the numbers of those affected rise every day.

Our God is a God of love and compassion and our prayers go out for those who are vulnerable and for those who give so much of their time to keep the rest of us safe – and we mourn with those who mourn the loss of a dear one.

And we remember those who are suffering financially because of the restrictions and the homeless whose   lives have become even more unstable.

When and where will it all end? Only God knows, so we place ourselves in His Holy hands, safe in the knowledge that He watches over us each and every day.

*

Today is the 5th Sunday in Lent, and as we draw closer to Easter, to the Cross, we focus our minds on the event when Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anointed the head and feet of Jesus with an expensive perfumed oil.

But before we take a look at that – let is share in a prayer ~

Let us pray…

PRAYER

Loving and Heavenly Father – we offer you our praise, our worship as we sit in our different homes in many different locations, but we are all are in your presence this day.

Not that you aren’t with us every day – but we are so often too busy to experience you.

Today we take time from our busy lives to focus on you – to relax and recharge – to unwind and unburden ourselves.

We bring you our worries and concerns – we bring you our fears and our anxieties.

We bring you those things which burden us – and we hand them over to you – we lay them at your feet – knowing that you will take them from us and lighten our load. What a wonderful God you are !

How you must love us – yet – how disappointed you must be when you see the things we do – hear the words we speak – and the thoughts which go through our heads at times…..

Forgive us – we pray – for putting ourselves before you – for thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought – for the many times that we stay silent instead of witnessing our faith before others and praising your name – for fear of what our friends and colleagues might think of us.

Listening Lord – hear us now as we sit for a few moments to clear our minds of the events of the past week or so – as we recall the ups and downs in our lives and bring all our worries and concerns to you in prayer.

 

We bring too – our personal prayer of confession as we think of the things we have said, done and thought which have hurt or upset others – hurt and upset you………….. we are sorry lord – and we pray for your forgiveness in Jesus’ name……… so be with us now Lord – as we gather up all these thoughts and bring them to you in our silent prayers ~

………..….SHORT TIME OF SILENCE……………….

Listening Lord – as undeserving as we are – we pray that you will forgive us and bless us with your mercy and your grace.

Lord we know that you hear us when we pray to you in faith – so hear us now as we say together – the prayer which brings us together as one family – the family prayer – the lord’s prayer ~

 

Our Father.. who art in heaven.. hallowed be thy name.. thy kingdom come.. thy 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.. lead us not into temptation.. but deliver us from evil .. for thine is the kingdom.. the power and the glory forever…. Amen.

READINGS – John 12 : 1 – 8

The Anointing at Bethany. [a]Six days before Passover Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. They gave a dinner for him there, and Martha served, while Lazarus was one of those reclining at table with him. Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus[b] and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one [of] his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages[c] and given to the poor?” He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial.[d] You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

Amen.

*

In our New Testament reading this morning we hear of Jesus visiting some friends on the outskirts of Jerusalem – Mary and Martha – and their brother Lazarus.

It seems to be a pretty normal kind of visit – we can imagine it – chatting, laughing – sharing a drink and a meal – but then – out of the blue – Mary does something which seems strange – to say the least – she opens a jar of really expensive perfume, and pours it over the head and feet of Jesus.

 

The oil was called ‘Nard oil’ and was one of the 11 oils used for the incense of the holy temple at Jerusalem – and it was also used to anoint the bodies of the dead – as was Myrrh – one of the 3 gifts given to Jesus at his birth – a foreshadowing of things to come!

 

And so – it was a very special oil – and a very expensive one too!

As Judas reminded them – it was worth a years wages !! – what would that be worth today ??

£25 – 30, 000 – maybe more!!! I wish !!!

But this didn’t seem to matter to Mary – nor to Jesus.

the poor will always be with you” – Jesus said to Judas in v.7 – “you can look after them anytime – but I am only here for a short time – Mary knows that and is doing a good thing !”.

It’s a well know reading which has much to say to us –

and its cleverly crafted narrative gives us a whole series of character sketches about the main people in the story – Martha – Mary – Judas and – of course, Jesus.

*

There is the ever practical Martha – busying herself – serving at the table – she loved Jesus and she showed that love by the work of her hands.

Many of us can – and do that too – serve God in practical ways.

It’s true to say that we can serve God just as faithfully in the kitchen – serving God’s people – as we can in the various committees – or cleaning God’s house – or in the pulpit.

And Jesus recognises our different ways of serving Him.

Then there was Mary

She knew what lay ahead for Jesus – He had told his disciples a week or two before that he must soon go to Jerusalem and die – and Mary wanted to show her great love for him while she could.

Jesus knew this – for in verse 7 Jesus says ~ leave Mary alone! – it was intended that she save this perfume for my burial”.

 

But Mary couldn’t wait. Another week or so – and it might all be too late.

And so she acted on impulse – prompted by love – doing what she felt she had to do for Jesus – in her own way – and while she could still do it.

If she didn’t do it now – while she had the chance – she may have thought – then perhaps she wouldn’t be able to do it all.

Perhaps it ought to remind us – that we should not put off those things which are important – ‘strike while the iron is hot’ as the saying goes – for the opportunity to do good for someone – may not come your way again.

 Perhaps Ignatius had this passage in mind when he wrote these words ~

“Teach us Lord to serve you as you deserve.

To give and not to count the cost.

To fight and not to heed the wounds.

To toil and not to seek for rest.

To labour and not to seek for any reward –

Save that of knowing that we do your will”

 

Mary served Jesus in her own way, she gave to Him and didn’t count the cost.Was she extravagant ? – yes – but for Mary the monetary cost didn’t enter in to it – it wasn’t about the money – it was about her love for Jesus.

That was the guide to her actions.

In both Martha and Mary – we see a humility and a willingness to serve Jesus – each in their own way.

Judas, on the other hand, was dark and difficult – a very different character altogether.

He had just witnessed the most amazing and beautiful act of self-less love – yet remained untouched by it.

 

For Judas it was all about the money – he complained that the money would have been better spent on the poor – but of course, Judas cared little for the poor.

His great love was money – indeed verse 6 tells us that he was a thief.

And very soon – he was to betray Jesus – for just 30 pieces of silver.

It shows us the true character of Judas, that he forgot – or chose to forget the words in Deuteronomy – words which all good Jewish children would have been taught at their mothers knee – “there will always be poor people in your land – therefore I command you to be open handed towards your brothers and to the poor and needy..”

 

The only person Judas was ‘open handed’ to – was himself!

 

Love money or love God – you can’t serve both – the Bible tells us.

 

Judas loved money

Mary and Martha loved Jesus.

And then we see Jesus – laid back and unruffled.  “stay calm” he was saying to Judas – “chill out” as the young people might say today – “Mary’s doing a good thing ! – there’s more important things in this world than money you know !”

But Judas remained unconvinced – just as many do today, sadly.

But Jesus could see through Mary’s wild extravagance – He could see that it wasn’t about the perfume – or the cost – it was about the action – the symbolism of being anointed – and the love that was behind it.

Mary wanted to do it – simply because she loved Jesus.

Different people – acting in different ways – when in the company of Jesus.

But the line that I like most in this passage is the last sentence in verse 3- “and the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil”.

The whole house was effected by Mary’s actions.

Perhaps like one of those calming scented candles which we might burn at home. You know – lavender and camomile or something similar.It’s gentle and soothing scent can be smelt and felt – throughout the whole house – bringing a feeling of calm and comfort – touching our senses – as we inhale it’s beautiful fragrance.

And that too has a lesson for us – it tells us that the way we live and act – has an effect on those around us.

If we are loud, obnoxious and unpleasant – don’t be surprised of those around you act the same!

But if we are kind, friendly and calm – living a life if faith, then it will rub off on those who are close to you – just like the beautiful scent, as it winds it’s way from room to room in your home.

 

Those who were present in that room –and the millions who have read or heard the story since – have all been effected by Mary’s kindness and her love for Jesus……

The aroma has permeated through the centuries…

Mary’s actions have been called – “the extravagant act of love” – and – for me – it’s one of the most beautiful passages in the Bible.

We think of the bible as being a Holy book – and so it is.

And we think of the people in it – as ‘Holy people’ – and so they are.

But when we take a closer look – we see that it also tells us that “Holy people” are just like you and I – flawed, imperfect, with all our human imperfections – and yet able to serve God, as do we, in our own circumstances and in our own particular and individual ways – just as they did.

 

So you and I are ‘Holy people’ too – children of a loving God – our heavenly Father – we are made in His image…

Each of us has a ministry – different ways of serving God in our everyday lives – and that can take many forms – as diverse as the people we are.

We say that Mary was ‘extravagant’ with her love. But in a couple of weeks– Jesus was to give all He had – His very life – for Mary – for all who love and accept him into their hearts and their lives.

It really doesn’t get more “extravagant” than that !

And so – the question is – how do we – you and I – respond to His extravagant, amazing, love for us?

Are we extravagant with our time, our talents – our love – for Him ? Some of you are, I know.

What do we – you and I – give to Jesus that is of “extravagant” value?

He doesn’t want our money – some of us have little enough of that to give.

He doesn’t want things of this earth – things that we put a value on.

All he wants – is you – the most precious thing in all the world.

All He yearns for – is your love.

Your praise – your worship.

Your trust and your faith in Him.

That’s the most valuableimportant and treasured –thing you can give Him.

Is that really too much to ask – when we think of all that He gave for you – and for me??

He suffered betrayal – humiliation – pain – and death on a cross – so that when – on that final day – you arrive at the gates of heaven and you stand, holding your breath as your life is scrutinised – you will hear those words – “Enter – your sins are forgiven – my Son has paid your price!”

That’s what He did for us – what are we doing – for him??

He showed an extravagant love for us –

Do we show an extravagant love for him?

Maybe we do – maybe we don’t

Maybe we haven’t given it too much thought –

Aye – maybe it’s time we did!!

And in Jesus’ precious name.

Amen.

Let us share a prayer ~

Prayer

Loving, caring, providing god – we come to offer our heartfelt thanks to you for all that you provide for us each and every day – family and friends that make life good – food on our table –a roof over our heads – clothes to wear – all things we take for granted – but things which are denied to so many in our world.

Lord – thank you for blessing us… and our families..

But we are aware that there are many – aye, too many – who are not so blessed as we are – and we pray for them today.

We pray for the world with all its needs.

The hungry and the homeless, the lost and the lonely, the sad and the bereaved.

Watch over them and bless them with your strength, love and peace.

And we pray for all who are engaged in coping with the effects of this crisis – those who are searching tirelessly   to produce a vaccine – all   medical and ancillary staff throughout the world , those who care for the vulnerable and the those whose sense of isolation and need is heightened at this time.

In these difficult days,   may we all find something of that peace that ‘passes all our understanding.’

Give us an open mind and an open heart to help others – remembering the words of Jesus when he said “whatever you do for the leas to my people, you do for me…”

Lord, hear our prayer, for we pray from our hearts – and in Jesus’ precious name.

Amen.

‘Thought for the week’

As you know – I like to leave you each week with a ‘thought for the week’ – and today I’d like to leave you with a short story about a wee girl who wanted to become a world famous pianist. The only problem was – that she couldn’t play the piano !

Well – not very well.

She could play a rather bad version of the tune ‘chopsticks’ but that was all.

So, one day – her parents arranged for her to visit a famous piano teacher – to teach her to play properly.

Naturally, the wee girl was excited – and on arrival at the teacher’s house – she ran over to the grand piano and started to play her version of chopsticks.

The parents were embarrassed and were just about to tell her to stop playing – when the teacher told them to let her play.

He listened for a while – and then went over and sat beside her – and after a couple of minutes – he joined in and began to play all the extra notes – harmonies and lots of ‘twiddly bits’ which enhanced the wee girls playing beyond all recognition.

The parents couldn’t believe their ears ! – their wee girl was playing a duet – and it was beautiful!!

*

Sometimes we can feel that we would like to do great things but we don’t believe we can.

We don’t have the confidence or the skill – or so we think.

But we have a teacher too – one who sits beside us – who joins in our feeble efforts and enhances them and makes them more wonderful than we ever could.

He gives us the encouragement and confidence to do amazing things – to serve him – and others, in amazing ways.

He is able to take what little we are able to do – and turn it into something much more beautiful.

When we put ourselves in His holy hands – He will transform us – and our service – into a glorious offering of praise and worship – whatever we do and wherever we are.

Do you want to show your ‘extravagant love’ for Jesus ? – then give him your talents and your gifts – give him your very self – and he will help you to turn them into a wonderful offering to him – and to God’s glory.

Will you do that?     I pray that you will.

 

Mmmmmmmm – it’s food for thought isn’t it!?

 

*

 

May the fragrance of God’s love fill your life and your home –

And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, be with you all – may He be with your family, your friends and all who you know and love – and ought to love – this day – and every day.

 Amen

 Take care – keep safe – and God Bless.

Online Sunday Service – 22nd March 2020 – Lent 4

Good Morning.

Today is the first Sunday of the ‘close-down’ of pretty much all the churches in Scotland. For many of us it will seem strange not meeting up with family and friends at our local church, worshipping together, chatting and the all important cup of tea and a blether after the service. But it’s something we are going to have to come to terms with as the battle against the terrible COVID 19 virus continues around the world.

It would be easy for us to become dispirited and disheartened, seeing only gloom and doom all around. But as sad and difficult as things are, there are so good and many positive things on which we should focus our minds.

Such as looking to see if there is anyone nearby you can help out.

Keeping in touch with family and friends via Skype, Facebook, face time and the many other ways to contact them., perhaps write a few letters to old friends.

Use the time to your advantage ie take an online course ; catch up with those books you have been promising yourself you’ll read some time; and the many other things you never seem to have the time to do – like thinking about your life and your future ambitions and how you can fulfill them, or praying and reading your bible more.

The Bible is an amazing book, or rather, set of books. It is not just one book but a set of 66 books written over a period of approximately 1,500 years from around 1400 BC to AD 90 by at least 40 different authors. It contains Ancient History, Wisdom Books, Poetry, Prophesy, why and how he sent His son to Earth, and so much more.

Collectively these books teach us about the Past, Present and Future of God’s amazing plan for the world and for His people (you and me) as we make our journey through life here and on to life hereafter.

Each Sunday in Church we take a couple of Readings from the Bible, usually one from the Old Testament and another from the New Testament – and we hear them read, then spend some time thinking about what they mean for us, in our modern High -Tech world of today.

Paul, who was an early Christian, wrote “Everything in Scripture is God-breathed and for our instruction” so we know that these passages and texts have something to teach us, aye but what!? Well, that’s what we try to discover.

Today is what we call the 4th Sunday in Lent, which is a period of preparation and self analysis before Easter. It is also (always in the UK) Mothering Sunday too.

Today we are going to take a look at that well known Parable of the Prodigal Son. We shall be looking in depth to what it saying to us, and you’ll be surprised at what we will find!

But before all that – let us share in a Prayer ~

“Holy, heavenly Father,

as a mother loves her child so you love us.

We owe our very lives to you.

You have watched over us from our birth,

tenderly nurturing us,

showering us with love.

When we have needed you, you have been there.

You have given us strength in times of need, comfort in times of distress, encouragement in times of despair, guidance in times of uncertainty.

Whatever we have faced, you have been with us.

And Lord we thank you.

What a great and glorious God you are!

What a caring and comforting God you are.

Today we ask for your protection from all that would harm us and our loved ones as the COVID 19 virus spreads around the world.

And we ask that you will watch over our families and friends at this difficult time – keep us all safe in your loving arms, protected and secure.

We particularly pray for the elderly and the vulnerable, and those who put their own lives in danger to save ours. Protect them from infection and continue to give them your strength so that they may continue the fight against this insidious virus which creeps up on the unsuspecting.

Hear our Prayer for we pray in the name of your only Son, our only Hope, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

 

LUKE 15 : 11 – 32

The Parable of the Lost Son.

11 Then he said, “A man had two sons, 12 and the younger son said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of your estate that should come to me.’ So the father divided the property between them. 13 After a few days, the younger son collected all his belongings and set off to a distant country where he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation. 14 When he had freely spent everything, a severe famine struck that country, and he found himself in dire need. 15 So he hired himself out to one of the local citizens who sent him to his farm to tend the swine. 16 And he longed to eat his fill of the pods on which the swine fed, but nobody gave him any. 17 Coming to his senses he thought, ‘How many of my father’s hired workers have more than enough food to eat, but here am I, dying from hunger. 18 I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.”’ 20 So he got up and went back to his father. While he was still a long way off, his father caught sight of him, and was filled with compassion. He ran to his son, embraced him and kissed him. 21 His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you; I no longer deserve to be called your son.’ 22 But his father ordered his servants, ‘Quickly bring the finest robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Take the fattened calf and slaughter it. Then let us celebrate with a feast, 24 because this son of mine was dead, and has come to life again; he was lost, and has been found.’ Then the celebration began. 25 Now the older son had been out in the field and, on his way back, as he neared the house, he heard the sound of music and dancing. 26 He called one of the servants and asked what this might mean. 27 The servant said to him, ‘Your brother has returned and your father has slaughtered the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ 28 He became angry, and when he refused to enter the house, his father came out and pleaded with him. 29 He said to his father in reply, ‘Look, all these years I served you and not once did I disobey your orders; yet you never gave me even a young goat to feast on with my friends. 30 But when your son returns who swallowed up your property with prostitutes, for him you slaughter the fattened calf.’ 31 He said to him, ‘My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours. 32 But now we must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.”

Amen.

This is a well known Parable to many of us.

A ‘Parable’ is a story which has a number of layers – like an onion, every time you peel off one layer, go deeper, you find another layer underneath – and so on until you get to the heart of it.

On the surface the narrative talks of an everyday ‘dysfunctional’ family. A Father has 2 sons, one is faithful, the other has a wanderlust and is eager to see if the grass really is greener on the other side. He is unhappy, bored and is most likely a thorn in his fathers side.

We can imaging the daily arguments between them. Perhaps we don’t have too far to look to see something similar in our own or some we knows’ family.

Then we have the ‘stay at home son’, resentful of his brother who causes so much disharmony in the family. He appears to be the ‘good son’ quietly going about the work which has to be done around the homestead, but is he? It seems that he has been quietly brooding for some time, erupting and spilling over when his wayward brother returns home to an extravagant celebration. His father has never had such a celebration for him. He forgets that the father has been looking after him and providing for him all the time.

But, I wonder, where was the Mother in all this? Was there a mother around at all? Perhaps she has long since passed away which might bring some understanding as to why this is such an unhappy family.

 

Would she have kept the peace? Or perhaps calming the situation between father and son as Mothers tend to do?   The story doesn’t tell us, but a Mother’s love has remarkable powers of reconciliation and healing.

But these family dynamics are an allegory for deeper issues.

As we peel off a layer – we find a lovely story about a loving and caring God (the Father) who loves and values all of his children (you and I) and is overjoyed and jubilant when one has strayed and seemed lost – realizes his (or her) mistakes, turns their life around and returns into the fold of the family, asking the Father (God) for forgiveness.

It tells us that God always grieves when one of us goes astray and turns away from Him. It breaks His heart. But he doesn’t give up on us, He remains faithful to us even when we fail to be faithful to Him.

 

But it is never too late for us to turn back to Him, no matter our past. God is a God of second chances, a ‘forward looking’ God who looks forward to the day when all His children are back in His fold, all safe, secure with a wonderful inheritance awaiting us.

Have you turned away from God?

Has your life taken you down other roads, perhaps without really noticing?

Are you off doing more ‘interesting’ and ‘important’ things?

Have you forgotten about the love of the Father that is waiting for you to return ?

Will you turn back to Him who loves you so very much?

I pray that you will.   How happy He will be!

What a wonderful day that is going to be –what an extravagant party there will be !

Are you looking forward to it?

I know I am !!

And in Jesus’ precious name.

Amen.

 

Prayer

Loving, Heavenly Father, keep us from wandering away from you, remind us often just how much you do for us, provide for us, love us. Draw us close to you, draw us close to each other at this time of difficulty, help us to help those in any form of need, that this time might bring out the best in us, reflecting the love that you have for us on to others.

Keep us safe, keep us faithful – and all this in the holy name of Jesus Christ.

Amen.

 

And finally – a thought for you to take away and think about this week –

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

HERE’S A WEE STORY – IT’S ABOUT A YOUNG MUM WHO FELT HER LIFE WAS GOING NOWHERE.

SHE WAS EVEN MORE SAD AS HER FAVOURITE GRANDMOTHER HAD RECENTLY PASSED AWAY..

SHE FELT RUN DOWN – WEARY AND FED UP WITH EVERYTHING AROUND HER.

AND THEN SHE REMEMBERED THE ENVELOPE THAT HAD BEEN GIVEN TO HER BY HER GRANDMOTHER, JUST BEFORE SHE DIED.

SHE RAN UP THE STAIRS AND OPENED THE DRAWER BESIDE HER BED AND RIPPED IT OPEN. PERHAPS IT WAS MONEY, OR A DIAMOND RING WORTH THOUSANDS! ??

BUT INSIDE WAS JUST A SMALL GOLD KEY – AND THE WORDS, WRITTEN IN HER GRANDMOTHER’S OWN WRITING WHICH SIMPLY SAID – “ THEY KEY TO A GREAT TREASURE”

HOW EXCITING SHE THOUGHT – “A GREAT TREASURE !” NOW THAT WOULD CERTAINLY CHANGE HER LIFE SHE THOUGHT!!

 

AND SHE SET ABOUT FIND THE LOCK WHICH THE KEY WOULD OPEN. SHE TRIED EVERYTHING – BUT COULDN’T FIND A LOCK, AND WORSE THAN THAT – SHE COULDN’T FIND THE FORTUNE WHICH WOULD CHANGE HER LIFE!!

SHE WENT TO A LOCKSMITH FOR HELP BUT HE SAID THERE WAS NOTHING SPECIAL ABOUT THE KEY AND COULDN’T HELP HER…

SHE WAS GRUMPIER THAN EVER NOW!

A FORTUNE WAS WAITING FOR HER – A FORTUNE SHE MAY NEVER FIND! AND AS SHE GOT HOME SHE REALISED SHE HAD LOST HER` KEYS AND COULDN’T GET IN TO THE HOUSE – AND TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE – IT WAS BEGINNING TO RAIN!

AS SHE BEGAN TO FRANTICALLY SEARCH THROUGH HER HANDBAG AND THEN HER PURSE – HE NOTICE THE GOLD KEY..

“ I WONDER” SHE SAID TO HERSELF – “BUT IT CAN’T BE – MY KEY IS A SILVER COLOUR…BUT…” –

AND SHE TOOK THE GOLD KEY – SLIPPED IT INTO THE LOCK……….. SLOWLY TURNED IT……….

AND THE FRONT DOOR OPENED!!!

AS SHE STEPPED IN – SHE LOOKED AROUND AND SAW HER CHILDREN’S TOYS LYING AROUND – HER HUSBAND’S COAT HANGING BY THE DOOR – AND AS SHE WALKED IN TO THE KITCHEN – SHE SAW A CARD ON THE TABLE – SAYING – “HAPPY MOTHERS DAY MUM!”…

AND SHE REMEMBERED THE WORDS WRITTEN ON THAT SMALL PIECE OF PAPER BY HER GRANDMOTHER – “THE KEY TO A GREAT TREASURE !” –

SHE SMILED AND FELT A WARM GLOW AND SAID “THANK YOU NANNA” I HAVE EVERYTHING I COULD EVER WANT RIGHT HERE… HOW BLESSED I AM!”

SOMETIMES WE WANT THINGS TO CHANGE, TO BE BETTER, BE DIFFERENT – AND WE FORGET ABOUT ALL THE MANY BLESSINGS WHICH WE ALREADY HAVE…

THE FRIENDS – THE FAMILY – THE LOVE WHICH SURROUNDS US…….

AND SO OFTEN – TOO OFTEN – WE FORGET TO GIVE THANKS FOR THE ORDINARY, EVERYDAY THINGS WHICH WE TAKE SO MUCH FOR GRANTED…..

I SUSPECT THAT – AT TIMES – WE ALL FAIL TO RECOGNISE AND GIVE THANKS FOR THE MANY BLESSINGS WE RECEIVE FROM GOD EVERY DAY.

SO QUESTION IS – ARE YOU GRATEFUL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE?

IS THERE ANY ONE, ANYTHING THAT YOU TAKE FOR GRANTED?

AND WILL YOU SAY A SIMPLE “THANK YOU” TO GOD FOR ALL THAT HE HAS BLESSED YOU WITH??

WILL YOU?

Mmmm –  FOOD FOR THOUGHT  FOR ALL OF US…!!

‘See you’ next Sunday morning. Have a good and safe week.

Take care and God Bless you and your loved ones.

Amen.

Rev Iain Ramsden.

* * *