Online Service – 13th September 2020

13th September 2020

Online Service

 

Good Morning all. I hope this finds you well.

Over the past few months we have looked at a number of Bible passages, each with a message for us in our everyday lives. I have purposely used all of the Gospels to give you a flavour of the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. As well as texts from the Old Testament too.

I hope you can see that the Bible is not an outdated , out of touch book –as many in the world think – but still has a meaning and a relevance to our lives today.

 

We have also had a foray into some of the Miracles of Jesus which show us the Power of God, through the authority of His son Jesus.

There are many themes, topics and amazing lessons for us to learn from this remarkable book – or rather collection of Books, which we call ‘The Bible.’

 

I don’t know how long this lockdown is going to restrict us – or how long you can endure (or enjoy?) my weekly ramblings (aka ‘The Rev’s Ramblings’) – but I would hope to look at many more interesting, thought provoking and fascinating passages to see what we can learn from them, in the weeks to come.

.

With this in mind, I plan to take a look at some of the ‘Healings of Jesus’ as found the New Testament – and again, see what treasures we can find hidden in and between the lines which still speak to us today, in our own modern day world.

 

But before that – let us pray ~

 

PRAYER

Creator God,

we praise you for the immensity of your love:

the love that brought the universe to birth; the love that designed and ordered our world; the love that breathed life into humankind.

Creator God,

we praise you for the enormity of your love.

 

Saving God,

we praise you for the endurance of your love:

the love that came to share our human life; the love that died for us upon the cross; the love that triumphed over hatred and death.

Saving God,

we praise you for the endurance of your love.

the love that brought your Church to life; the love that transforms hearts and minds; the love that dares and cares and unites.

God of community,

As you lead us through the crowded streets of living,

Where we must learn and change and grow,

We thank you for those who surround us,

Whom we can call sister and brother in Christ.

Thank you for the jumbled family of faith

That we know as your Church.

 

It is the Church of forgiven sinners;

Of those with bruised knees and wounded hearts

Who have been soothed and comforted

By the ointment of your love.

 

For this diverse and gathered Church we pray:

We pray that we may limp

– so that we will always lean on you. We pray that we may be weak

– so that we will always need your guidance. We pray that we may doubt ourselves

– so that we will always trust in you.

 

As we go about our daily lives,

We pray that you will guide our steps

So that we walk together;

Refusing to march on ahead,

But humbly waiting for those who lag behind;

Listening, lending an arm and a shoulder,

And willing to become the caring, sharing people

You want your Church to be.

 

Listen to our silent prayers now – as we bring to you our personal prayer of confession – as we recall the many things we have thought, said and done – that we know have disappointed you. Hear us now listening Lord, as we pray in the peace of our  silence ~

Lord, bless us with your forgiveness, bless us with your mercy and your grace…………

 

Be with us as we respond to the calling of Jesus – discovering new things about you – finding out new things about ourselves – and looking for new ways to worship you and to spread that Good News to others so that they too might come to know you better………

 

Lord we know that you hear our prayers – and so hear us now as we pray the family prayer together – 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.

 

Today we have 2 readings –

 

2nd Kings 5 : 1 – 14  from the Old Testament (O.T.)

and

Mark 1 : 40 – 45 from the New Testament (N.T.)

 

Our O.T. reading this morning is taken from the 2nd book of Kings.

Both 1st & 2nd Kings give a history  of the monarchy of Israel and Judeah.

The passage which we are about to read  is about a mighty military leader – who had fallen victim to leprosy.

 

A special person requires special treatment!” He thought – but he was forced to think again ~

 

Our N.T reading is also based on a man with leprosy.

A man who came to Jesus in humility – “on his knees” we are told – quite different from Naaman of our O.T. reading.

 

Let’s Read them now ~

 

2nd Kings 5 : 1 – 14   New International Version – UK

Naaman healed of leprosy

Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the Lord had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.

 2 Now bands of raiders from Aram had gone out and had taken captive a young girl from Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, ‘If only my master would see the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.’

Naaman went to his master and told him what the girl from Israel had said. ‘By all means, go,’ the king of Aram replied. ‘I will send a letter to the king of Israel.’ So Naaman left, taking with him ten talents[b] of silver, six thousand shekels[c] of gold and ten sets of clothing. The letter that he took to the king of Israel read: ‘With this letter I am sending my servant Naaman to you so that you may cure him of his leprosy.’

As soon as the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his robes and said, ‘Am I God? Can I kill and bring back to life? Why does this fellow send someone to me to be cured of his leprosy? See how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me!’

When Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his robes, he sent him this message: ‘Why have you torn your robes? Make the man come to me and he will know that there is a prophet in Israel.’ So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, ‘Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.’

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?’ So he turned and went off in a rage.

13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, ‘My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, “Wash and be cleansed”!’ 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.”

 

And ~

Mark 1 : 40 – 42     New International Version – UK

Jesus heals a man with leprosy

“40 A man with leprosy[a] came to him and begged him on his knees, ‘If you are willing, you can make me clean.’

41 Jesus was indignant.[b] He reached out his hand and touched the man. ‘I am willing,’ he said. ‘Be clean!’42 Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed.”

Amen.

 

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

 

SERMON

 

Have you ever felt excluded ??

Have you ever felt the hot stares and the cold shoulder of those who set themselves up as better then you ?? – “holier than thou?”

 

It’s not very nice – it’s both disheartening – and degrading.

 

It is both soul destroying and soul searching – and it is easy to question yourself.

Your emotional pain level goes up – as your self esteem goes down.

 

Yes – feeling unwanted and un-loved – can seriously damage your health !

 

Ask any child who is being bullied at school –

 

Ask any teenager – or adult – who is living with the misery of addiction.

 

Ask the single mother who is trying to care for her child on her own – with increasing inflation and decreasing levels of benefit or  care.

 

Ask the middle aged man who is suffering the indignity of unemployment – feeling as though he has been cast on the heap – and knowing that his chances of ever getting a job again are almost nil.

 

Ask the grey faced widower who struggles to maintain the home she once shared with her husband.

With rising bills and the shadow of loneliness – fast becoming forgotten by family and friends.

 

All lonely – outcast – seeking comfort wanting to be wanted – embraced – loved – touched.

 

Think of the disfigured face of the Leper  – socially outcast – pleading on his knees for Jesus to lift him out of his misery.

 

“If you will” he asks Jesus “please heal me!” – and we can imagine Jesus smiling that lovely warm smile which says –

of course I will !” – and he touches the lepers life and he is instantly healed.

 

Think of Naaman in our O.T.reading – humbled and healed by the amazing power of God’s love.

*

For centuries, there was no disease more greatly feared than leprosy.

 

It was the Black Plague – the ‘Aids’ of its day.

“There was no disease” it was said – “which reduces a human being to so hideous a wreck!”

 

Oh dear – you might be thinking – this is all a bit “gloom and doom” today !

 

But sadly, for many, aye too many in our world and in our communities,  that’s how life is for them – and as Christians we have to acknowledge – and respond to them – as our readings this morning remind us.

 

But these readings also show us the Good News of hope and healing too.

 

*

 

There were many Lepers in Palestine at the time of Jesus.

 

They too were outcast from their society – unwanted and uncared for.

Struggling with both the physical and the mental pain of being cast out of society – as many are today.

 

But Jesus he didn’t see the Lepers as being unclean – but as poor souls in desperate need.

 

Much as some people today see the homeless and the refugee as a curse on society – while others see them as a case of “there but for the grace of God – go I.”

 

What do we see – I wonder – when we see the many poor souls who are also in desperate need ?

 

We see them on our televisions – starving children – war torn families – victims of mans inhumanity to their fellow man.  We see them in our own streets.

 

What do we see ?? Do we see them as being worthy of our time – our touch – our care – our compassion ??

 

Do we see them as Jesus would see them ? Do we identify with them as Jesus identified himself with them  – when He said “whatever you do for the least of my people – you do for me !”

 

Or do we walk by on the ‘other side’ – preferring to go about our own “important” business – rather than confront the pain of others ?

 

Many of them have been professional people – mums, dads, grandparents – fallen on hard times they would never have envisaged in their lives. Yes – people like you and I.

 

Just how ready are we to stretch out our hands to offer them  our genuine, heartfelt love and support ?

 

How willing are we to put our arms around the downcast shoulders of someone in need – to offer the expressionless face in a shop doorway – the simple healing of a caring smile or a kind word ?

 

That’s what Jesus did – is it what we do ??

 

Or has our ‘look after number one’ society numbed us to the plight of others ?

 

Where companies would rather pay off their loyal workforce – than take a cut in their profits ?

 

Where greed and avarice has condemned millions to a life of gloom and a future of uncertainty – as pension funds are cut – savings lost – while millions of pounds are paid out to the already obese ‘fat’ cats.

 

What has happened to the compassion and care in our communities ? Has it gone hand in hand with the decline in faith – as many believe more in themselves than they do in a loving Saviour?

 

And is it partly our fault because we “don’t like” to mention our faith to others ?

Keeping it a secret  rather than sharing the joy of the “good news” of a God who  cares for each and every one of us.

 

Paul said – People need to hear the good news – but how can they hear it unless WE tell them !?”….

 

And there are so many today – who need to hear the good news of a loving God who offers us comfort in our tough times.

 

A God who promises to ‘walk with us through the dark days. (Psalm 23 verse  4) –

 

Even though I walk through the darkest valley

I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me
.”

 

Many are materially poor – but countless millions more are spiritually poor too – having no faith in any-thing – no belief in any-one  – sometimes not even themselves.

 

For many, life has no depth – and nothing to believe in – so they have nothing to hold on to when life hits them hard.

 

How can we want that for those we love !?

 

And what can we do to help them?

 

Yes, we can help them – if – we are willing.

 

And isn’t that just what the Leper said to Jesus !?

 

But how?

Well, first we have to change our way of thinking –

from “world’ thinking – to “God thinking:”

 

This is what I mean –

 

What does the world say to those in need ?

“stop complaining!?

“get a grip!?”

“get a job!?”

 

What does God say to those same people’

“come, sit, let’s talk”

“Believe me when I tell you that I love you”

“Close your eyes and tell me all about it.”

 

What can we say to those same people –

“come, sit and let’s talk’

“wait ‘til I put the kettle on and let’s see what God’s Word has to say to us about this”

“I know a man who can help – we can call Him now, I have a direct line.  Let’s close our eyes so we don’t get distracted…let’s put our hands together so we can focus better…”

 

Helping others, loving others, caring about them, even if they are strangers – is not beyond of any of us. But we have to have a willingness to want to.

 

Over these past few months we have seen many kind and generous gestures and that is to be commended – kind people making kind gestures to those in greater need.

 

But there are many more who are in greater need, those who have lost loved ones, lost hope and the will to live. Many are wandering through life wondering what it is all about, going down wrong paths, getting lost.

 

Many of them are crying out for help – but are we – you and I – willing to help them?

 

We can if we are willing.

 

And that opens up a whole other conversation about our priorities and our use of our valuable time.

*

When this awful Pandemic is over – there will still be people in need of help; people in need of support and care; people in need of a kind word and a warm cup of tea and a hug.

Will we be there for them?

Will we show them the love of Jesus?

 

Does our love extend beyond those we know and love ?

 

Does our compassion stretch outside our cosy circle of friends and family ?

 

For some – it does…….. For others it’s beyond their comprehension as to why we would want to love people we don’t even know !

 

“Love others” – He says – “just as I love you”.

 

What has happened to the compassion of our world – our nation – our societies ?

 

And what is the answer ?

 

Well – I believe the answer is to follow the example of Jesus.

 

In our N.T. reading for this morning we see that Jesus did 2 things.

  1. He showed compassion where others did not
  2. He physically touched the troubled man.

 

Showing compassion in an ever hardening world is often seen as a sign of weakness – but not for Jesus.

It shows a kindness and a caring consideration – actually a great strength.

 

And in touching the leper, He showed that He was not afraid to be vulnerable.

It was in His words and by His touching, that He healed the distressed man.

 

That’s why we love Him.

 

That’s why we worship Him.

 

That’s why we should tell others about Him – by our words and by our actions.

 

That’s how we can help heal those who are troubled.

  1. By our Words of comfort
  2. By touching their lives
  3. And by Praying

(see Philippians 4 : 6 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”).

 

And maybe then by showing compassion, practical help and praying for them – the world might become a more loving, compassionate and caring place to be

 

And you – we – can be a part of  a change in our communities – our society and around the world – and so heal so many poor souls who need our help and our prayers – and we can be a part of it……

 

Jesus had the power to change lives – so too do we, through Him.

 

What a thought !!

 

What a privilege !!

 

What a blessing !!

!

And all this – in Jesus’ 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 –  Prayers  in Remembrance of  9/11.

 

Heavenly Father – be with as we remember those heartbreaking  events of 9/11.

 

Stand with the world as it stands still for a few moments in silent tribute.

 

Bless those who lost loved ones that day and still remember it as if it were yesterday. Give them your blessings of peace and comfort  as their tears flow and their memories come flooding back.

 

We pray for the world where wars and conflict still takes the lives of your children our brothers and Sisters around the world.

 

And we pray for Peace – that such tragedies may never be repeated, And we pray for Peace in our daily lives.

 

Bless us father, bless those we know and love- and those we ought to love – for we ask in the name of the Prince of Peace – our dear Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

 

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK

 

Loving with a genuine, heartfelt love. It’s what God calls to do.

But not everyone has grasped that…

Here’s a love letter which was written by a young girl to her ex boyfriend ~

 

Dear Jimmy,

No words could ever express the great unhappiness i have felt since breaking our engagement.

Please say that you’ll take me back.

No-one could ever take your place in my heart – so please forgive me.

 

I love you – I love you – I love you. xxxxxx

 

Yours forever,

Mary.

 

P.s. – and congratulations on winning the lottery !

 

Our love can be fickle can’t it ?

 

But God’s love does not change according to mood or whim – he loves us with all his heart………… And he loves us deeply.

And that’s the kind of love and care that he want’s us to share with the sad, the lonely and those who are struggling.

Aye – but will we??   I pray that we will.

Something for us to think about this week.

And in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

blessing

 

May the God of Grace breathe

health into your body,

love into your heart,

peace into your mind,

and joy into your spirit.

 

so let us go now,

with our lives filled to overflowing, and be poured out in His service –

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

 

Take care  and May God Bless you

And those who you love.

*

Please be assured that my thoughts and my Prayers

will be with you this coming week..

*

Be sure and look out for the Midweek ‘Medication’ which is Posted every Wednesday Morning.

*

Can I remind those of you who aren’t too far away from Kilmacolm, that the Murray Chapel is currently opened for a time of  personal Peace and Prayer, each day from Monday to Saturday from 11am – 1pm.

All welcome.

“Be still and know that I am God”

Psalm 46 : 10

*

 

Midweek Meditation – Wednesday 9th September 2020

Midweek Meditation

9th September 2020

Do you need a Polish up?

 

PONDER – Whoever first thought of producing glass coloured with pigment must have had a wonderful gift of imagination.    No more dull, grey, see-through glass but a bright array of reds, yellows,  blues and greens.

From Cathedral windows to children’s kaleidoscopes.  From brightly coloured glass which tells beautiful Biblical stories – to amazing patterns to our delight and joy.

But for as lovely  and colourful as stained glass may be – it is fragile and vulnerable.  Just like you and I.

We can have a bright appearance and shine a colourful light to the world outside, but inside we are all susceptible  to anxiety,  apprehension and  self doubt.

READ

6-7 Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life.”

(Philippians 4:6-7 from ‘The Message’ Version)

 

REFLECT – I know it is easy to say “trust God” when things are going well – but when things aren’t going so well, it is not so easy to do.

It takes courage and a good amount of trust and determination to admit that we are broken and in need of  help – but we all do at times, there’s no shame in that.

Whether you are really down or just a wee bit shaky,

open your heart and your mind – God is there for you, for each of us – ready to put you back together again and polish you so that you can face the world once more – and step up and shine out.

READ – “ 7This precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us is held in a perishable container, that is, in our weak bodies. Everyone can see that the glorious power within must be from God.”

(2nd  Corinthians 4: 6 – from ‘The Living Bible’)

PRAY – Holy, heavenly father, I thank you for making me special and unique. There is only one of me and I have all your love and your support each day of my life. Thank you for lifting me up when I stumble – and  for smiling with me in happier days.

May I remember to give you all the praise for all you do for me – and may I shine rays of light and love on to  others to enhance their lives, just as you have enhanced mine. I am so blessed, thank you.

Amen.

 

*

Have a good Week

Online Sunday Service – 6th September 2020

Sunday Service – 6th September 2020

Good morning all. Please find this weeks Sunday Service copied below, if you would like to read it.

I know that many of you are busy people – but taking time to re-boot, re-cover and re-group in a busy life is very important. Every Sunday morning I invite you to join me for a cup of tea or coffee (it’s too early for anything stronger!) pull up a comfy seat, take a long, deep breath and have a read of the Sunday Service, and the Midweek Meditation on a Wednesday morning.

A few weeks ago – a lovely lady messaged me with the kind words – “Oh Mr Ramsden, I just love your Midweek Medications!” J Bless.

I don’t claim to be a Doctor, of course not,  but some say that the whole experience of relaxing and reading the services, gives them a tonic for the rest of the week.

So, relax and enjoy as we continue with our wee series of ‘The Miracles of Jesus.’

 

 

 

 

6th September 2020

Online Service

Miracles (3)

I hope this finds you well and coping, despite the current difficult situation we find ourselves in.

As the comedian Alexei Sayle once said “it’s a funny old world isn’t it?” – and so it is.

Many of the things used to take for granted have changed, maybe forever. Numerous places we always felt were safe and secure to visit are now places to avoid.

Life itself is precarious, where even a trip to the shops could bring danger home to our loved ones.

 

In our Lesson for today we hear of Jesus calling His disciples into service.

Their lives were never to be the same, changed beyond all recognition – but on this occasion – for the better.

So too can ours…

But before that  – let us pray…

PRAYER

Lord we come together on this Lord’s day…. the day which we set aside to worship and to praise you… to sing our praises to you – to re-affirm our commitment to you and to each other – the day we come to learn more about your ways, to hear your word to us and look to discover what you want us to do in response to it….

Remind us that this day is a very special day – the day that you created – the day you rested after you created the world and all that is in it……… the day – YOUR day – in which we take time to remember all you have done for us – a day in which we give thanks for our families and friends – a day when we stop for a short while to see the many blessings that you provide for us every day.

Remind us too that amid our busy lives – taking time to be with you everyday is SO important – time to talk over our problems – time to listen for your voice as we share our worries and concerns with you – time to give you thanks and the glory for all that you are kind enough to provide for us.

Lord we know that you love us – even although we often seem unlovable – even although our belief in you isn’t always backed up by a strong and unquestionable faith in you…….

even although we speak of our love for you with our lips – yet we so often fail to put that love for you – for others –  into practice…

You are a wonderfully patient God –

a wonderfully tolerant God… a God who knows all our weaknesses – yet loves us still…. oh that WE could learn to be patient and tolerant with those who annoy and upset us – oh that we could learn to love those who we hold grudges against – oh that we could be more like Jesus………….. Forgive us Father – encourage our belief in you so that it might become a strong and comforting faith – faith in you – faith in Jesus – faith in ourselves to live His way – so that others might see Jesus in me and so be drawn to knowing Him for themselves –

Bless us with your mercy and your grace we pray – bless us now as we sit for a few moments – looking back over the past week – with all its ups and downs – relaxing in your presence – enjoying your company and the friendship and companionship of my church family around me – hear my silent prayer as I ask for your comfort and your peace – and that your holy presence will be with me in the week ahead – in whatever lies before me – give me the assurance that there is nothing I need fear  – for you are beside me – – walking with me – loving me – encouraging me – all in Jesus’ name…………. pause………

Lord we know that you hear us when we pray 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.

OUR READING THIS MORNING COMES FROM

LUKE’S GOSPEL AND IS A WELL KNOWN READING TO US.

IT TELLS US OF THE CALLING OF THE FISHERMEN – THOSE FIRST DISCIPLES.

IT’S ABOUT FISHERMEN AND FISH – RIGHT?

BUT MAYBE THERE’S MORE TO THIS THAN MEETS THE EYE –

LET’S HEAR IT FOR OURSELVES ~

 

Luke 5 : 1 – 11 – from ‘GOD’S WORD’ Translation

Jesus performs a miracle as He calls His first Disciples.

“One day Jesus was standing by the Sea of Galilee. The people crowded around him as they listened to God’s word. Jesus saw two boats on the shore. The fishermen had stepped out of them and were washing their nets. So Jesus got into the boat that belonged to Simon and asked him to push off a little from the shore. Then Jesus sat down and taught the crowd from the boat.

When he finished speaking, he told Simon, “Take the boat into deep water, and lower your nets to catch some fish.”

Simon answered, “Teacher, we worked hard all night and caught nothing. But if you say so, I’ll lower the nets again.”

After the men had done this, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to tear. So they signalled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. Their partners came and filled both boats until the boats nearly sank.

When Simon Peter saw this, he knelt in front of Jesus and said, “Leave me, Lord! I’m a sinful person!” Simon and everyone who was with him were amazed to see the large number of fish they had caught. 10 James and John, who were Zebedee’s sons and Simon’s partners, were also amazed.

Jesus told Simon, “Don’t be afraid. From now on you will catch people instead of fish.”

11 Simon and his partners brought the boats to shore, left everything, and followed Jesus.”

Amen.

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

SERMON

Have you noticed how children seem to love hearing the same old familiar stories ? – they know each line – they know how it finishes.

Well – our reading from the New Testament for this morning is a bit like that.

We have heard it many times – we know what happens – and we know what it’s all about…….don’t we ??

Fishing for fish – fishing for people.

What’s not to understand !? –

It’s about following Jesus – right ?

Well – yes – that is what it’s about – but it’s also about something far deeper than that !!

And this morning – we’re going to scratch a wee bit deeper – to what else this well known story about fish and fishermen has to tell us.

*

Well – to put it in to perspective – we are continuing our look at the miracles of Jesus.

A couple of weeks ago we heard about his first miracle – the changing of the water into wine at the wedding in Cana in Galilee.

Today we see Him moving on – beginning a new chapter – as He realizes that if He is to accomplish all that He was called to achieve – then He would have to enlist the help of ordinary, everyday people to help him – ordinary, everyday people – like you and I.

Where is the miracle in that? You might be thinking……

Well – read on….

Jesus knew that people work better – when they work together.

And it’s interesting to note that the version that we read this morning – Luke’s version – differs from that of Matthew and Mark.

They call this passage – ‘the calling of the fishermen’ – while Luke calls it ‘the calling of the first Disciples’.

Perhaps Luke saw that just as the changing of water into wine – wasn’t just about the wine – it’s about the transforming power of Christ.

So this passage isn’t just about the fish.

It’s about taking seriously the words of Jesus – and amazing things happen, things we might imagine to be impossible.

It’s about trusting in Jesus enough to do what he says.

It’s about a belief that when Jesus says He can do something – He can – and He does.

It’s about a faith which allows us to put our trust in Him.

It’s about realizing that Jesus changes lives – your life and mine, if we open our hearts and our minds, and let Him.

It’s about making a commitment to Christ who will repair, renew, restore and reset your life back to the way it was always meant to be – back to the default position – before all that other stuff was added and it became burdensome.

It’s about receiving all that – enjoying all that – and it’s about sharing all that – with others.

*

And so in this passage – we see Jesus taking  His message out to the people – to engage them ‘where they were’ – into the streets, the beaches, the hills and fields – to where the people lived and worked – out-with the formality of the established church – and into their everyday lives.

This was a style adopted by the great John Wesley – the founder of the Methodist movement. He would ride from place to place on his horse – preaching in fields – or town square – or wherever the people were gathered – bringing them the good news of Jesus Christ.

“A comfortable church is all very well” – he famously said – “but there’s nothing like ‘field preaching’ for saving souls!”.

And that’s at the very heart of this passage – at the very heart of the mission of Jesus.

We are not called to a comfy–cosy kind of faith which doesn’t test or strengthen us.

We’re not called to a faith which involves keeping it to ourselves.

But we are called to a faith of caring and sharing –

Coming to know the love and goodness of Christ for yourself– and then going out and bringing others to him – so that He might work his miracle of saving their souls.

And that’s why He called those first Disciples and others who were to follow – to know His love and to bring people in to Him.

That’s why He has called us – you and I – to save our precious souls – and through us – save many more, into his glorious kingdom, for all eternity.

And to illustrate this point – Jesus used the miracle of the fish – to explain the miracle of saving souls.

(so, here’s the miracle!)

“Listen to me – do what I say” Jesus is saying “and your life will improve a hundred fold – and more”.

And He was also saying ~

“Did you notice – that you weren’t able to do very much on your own – but when you listened to me – when you obeyed my command – you were able to do extraordinary things – your catch was so amazing that you had to call others to help you bring it in!

I will call others to help you bring in men, women and children to me.   Do not be afraid.

But now – let’s get to it – time is running out” –

And they left their nets and followed him.

*

 

So, as we see – this isn’t just about the fish.

The fish were a tool – a ‘device’ if you like – to show the transforming – miraculous power of Christ – just like the wine had been.

I suppose there is nothing quite like a miracle to get the attention of the people!

It shows that when we put our faith into the saving hands of Jesus – amazing – unbelievable things can and do happen – and He wants us to play our part in sharing that brilliant news with other people.

People like our families and friends – and who wouldn’t want that for our loved ones and those closest to us ?

But Jesus wants us to ‘cast our nets’ even wider than that – to include everyone we meet.

“Okay……” You might be thinking “but how do we go about doing that!? – I’m not really up for waving a bible and shouting ”halleluiah” in my local Morrisons!”

We think that sharing our faith is beyond us – but you know – it couldn’t be easier – as the children might say – ‘it’s easy peasy’!

We don’t need to get a soap box and stand on it – harassing and haranguing passers by – we don’t need to bash people on the head with the Bible – or become smiley, “holy” people .

We just need to be ourselves.

We just need to live the faith that we profess.

It’s by our words – our actions – our conduct and our character – that we draw people to Christ.

It’s by the everyday things we do and say – it’s by making sure people know that you are a person of faith – and encouraging them – in small, yet meaningful ways – to see how it has changed your life – and allowing them to see that such a faith can change their lives too.

It’s by offering to say a prayer for them when things are tough.

It’s by buying a bible for the grandchildren on their birthdays, even if their parents don’t take them to church.

It’s by setting an example to those you meet – it’s by taking our role as ‘ambassadors of Christ’ seriously.

And it’s about not being ashamed or embarrassed about our faith.

It’s not just about being “nice” – it’s about wanting to share the peace, joy and love that your faith brings – to others.

We are the face and hands of Jesus in the world.

People don’t see Jesus – but they do see you and they see me!

Aye, but  –  what do they see?

And I ask that because – what they see in us – as individuals – is the only image of Jesus they may ever see – and so we have a responsibility to make sure we show a consistent and accurate portrayal of Him – the one who loves each one of us – the one who gives us new life – the bible tells us – and in all it’s fullness.

That’s what we share with others – when we share our faith.

It won’t always be easy – you won’t always be popular – life won’t always be a ‘walk in the park’ – but the rewards, the promises, the assurances and the prize which await those who are faithful – those who follow Jesus when He calls – will be, quite literally – ‘out of this world’!!

And that is a promise.

So we see that this well known passage has much more to say to us than at first meets the eye.

Jesus is saying that if we want to call ourselves his followers – then we have to live by His rules – not our own……..

we have to step up and step out.

But – are we willing to do that??

I hope and pray that we are, and so shed, hope, joy, peace and light, in an ever darkening world.

The rewards which are promised to us are beyond all our imagining –

Does all this sound amazing?

Well, that’s because it is!!

And it’s 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.

PRAYER

Living God,

we thank you that you are a God who hears and answers prayer, and we praise you for those times when you have responded to us and granted our requests.

But we confess that there are times, too, when you seem silent, when, listen though we might, we cannot hear your voice.

And so we pray now for all who cry to you but who feel their prayers are unanswered.

Lord, in your mercy,  – hear us, and all who pray to you.

 We think of those known to us facing difficult times — those going into hospital – those battling with illness, wrestling with depression, anxious about the future, grieving for loved ones —those for whom life seems a puzzle, even a burden, and who long to find hope to make some sense out of their confusion.

Lord, in your mercy,  – hear us, and all who pray to you.

We think of the poor and the weak,

the vulnerable and disadvantaged in society —those denied their rights, their dignity, their freedom, their livelihoods —all who long for a time when justice will be established but who have given up believing it ever shall be.

Lord, in your mercy,  – hear us, and all who pray to you.

Living God,

we are conscious that so many in our world cry out to you yet seem to receive no answer —some because they do not expect to receive any, some because they are not ready or willing to listen, some because they do not understand what you are saying, but many genuinely and urgently longing to hear your voice, to see your face in their lives – yearning for some response.

Speak to them, we pray.

Do not keep silent, show yourself to them –  reach out into their pain and hurt, their need and hopelessness, and bring your word of comfort, of peace, of healing, love and renewal.

Lord, in your mercy,  – hear us, and all who pray to you.

 We  pray for a peace in the world…… in all the many places where war and conflict continue… we pray that peace will prevail and so save the needless death of thousands of everyday people like ourselves.

We pray for the politicians and the warmongers that they may see the need for faith rather than fire-arms – for dialogue rather than death……………….

Lord, in your mercy,  – hear us, and all who pray to you.

Lord we ask that you be with us now as we sit together, in silence, for a few moments, each with our own thoughts, each with our own prayer  as we  bring our loved ones to you in our silent prayers…………………

Lord, in your mercy,  – hear us, and all who pray to you.

Be with all for whom we have prayed Lord – and with all who need your hand upon them –  for we bring them before you in the name of the one who faced many difficulties – so that we might know the wonder of God –

Lord, in your mercy,  – hear us, and all who pray to you –

For we pray in the precious name of Jesus Christ, your only Son, our only Hope.

Amen.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’

Our thought for the week is in the form of a Poem – and in the light of our Sermon this morning, I don’t think it needs any explanation, see what you think ~

It’s a wee bit long, but stick with it ~

When Jesus Looks   by C Valesco

When Jesus looks upon my life,
What picture does He see?
Does He see His own reflection,
Or does He just see me?

Does He see His likeness,
The product of His hand.
Or just another Christian,
Who never took a stand.

Does He see a child of God,
A child that He set free.
Living life to honor Him,
Or does He just see me.

What about the other folks,
I meet along the way.
Do I show them Jesus,
To brighten up their day.

When someone looks into my eyes,
Can they truly see.
That calm and gentle peace of God,
That lives inside of me.

When I reach out and shake a hand,
Is He right there in my grip.
Can they feel that strength from God,
That steadies when I slip.

When folks are in my presence,
Do they know His Spirit’s there?
Can they see that He’s the one,
Who guides me everywhere.

When other people think of me,
What is on their mind?
Do they think of Jesus Christ,
So gentle and so kind.

I try to be like Jesus,
Every single day.
Spreading love and kindness,
All along my way.

Now I try to be like Him,
I must present Him well.
So other folks will want His gift,
And turn their backs on hell.

Other folks should see the joy,
That Christ has given me.
They should want to have it too,
Especially since it’s free.

They should begin to ask me,
What is it they must do.
Just how it is they go about,
Getting Jesus too.

Then I get to tell them,
This wondrous gift is free.
It only takes a humble heart,
A prayer on bended knee.

Someday when I’m face to face,
With the Lord who set me free.
Will He see His own reflection,
… Or will He just see me?…

Food for thought for us all.

Amen.

 

BLESSING

And now – go in Love , Hope– Joy and Peace –

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.

*

 

Take care and May God Bless you

And those who you love.

*

Keep safe

*

Be sure and look out for the Midweek ‘Medication’ which is Posted every Wednesday Morning.

*

Some of you will know that I am currently serving as Locum  in Kilmacolm Old Kirk.

It is a beautiful church with a small, renovated 13th century Chapel, called The Murray Chapel.

If you are interested you should go to Kilmacolmoldkirk.co.uk

and take the ‘Virtual Tour’ – I am sure you will find it most interesting.

*

And can I remind those of you who aren’t too far away from Kilmacolm, that our Murray Chapel is currently opened for a time of  personal Peace and Prayer, each day from Monday to Saturday from 11am – 1pm.

All welcome.

“Be still and know that I am God”

Psalm 46 : 10

 

*

Midweek Meditation – Wednesday 2nd September

Midweek Meditation

Wednesday 2nd September 2020

How are you?

 

People often ask – “How are you?” as a formality,  hoping you will  say” I’m fine thank you”  nothing more.

But what if you were to answer – ”I feel terrible – I’ve got his pain you see – I’ve been to the Doctor but he can’t find anything wrong, but I …..”  they might well  cut the conversation short and make some excuse to leave…! Or is that just me that happens to?? J

But God want’s more than a passing acquaintance with you.  He invites you to share your thoughts, your times of joy, your feelings, your fears, tears, concerns and anything you are anxious about. And He is ready, willing and able to spend time with you.

READ – “Look at Him (GOD), give Him your warmest smile. Never hide your feelings from Him”  Psalm 24 : 5 (The Message Version).

PONDER – Sometimes our thoughts can be distorted by our moods and emotions. Feeling down can make us see things in a negative light – we might feel anxious, unworthy or unloved. Whereas what we feel is not always inline with reality. You are almost certainly loved by family and friends. You will be somebody’s good friend – even if they don’t often tell you.

So rather than giving in to negative and untrue thoughts – cling on to the promises of your God – who loves you more than you could ever know.

Look for the positive – reject the negative.

Listen to God’s word –  not that wee voice in the dark.

When God asks “How are you”  – He really want to know! He is interested in YOU – and that is a promise.

READ – “When doubts filled my mind., your comfort gave me cheer and renewed my spirit”   Psalm 94 : 19 (New Living Translation.)

PRAY – “My God, my Saviour, thank you for the light that you shine into my life. Thank you for the family, friends and all that makes my life good. Help me to focus on the positive things in my life – and reject that wee dark voice that puts doubt into my thoughts.  Remind me often of your love for me and may I shine that light on to others so that they too will know the peace and the joy which comes from knowing that whatever life may throw at us – we are held safe and blessed, in your loving arms. Thank you so much.

Amen.

Have a good week.

 

Online Sunday Service – 30th August 2020

30th August 2020

Online Service

Miracles (continued)

Good morning all.

With all that is going on just now – I was reminded of a phrase from a horror film which warned “…just when you thought it was safe to go out!….”

If ever there was a saying that suited the moment – it is this one.  After months of lockdown we thought it was safe to venture out, but with so many ‘spikes’ ready to harm us, we have to rethink the wisdom of doing the everyday things we once took for granted.

As we continue our look at ‘Miracles in the Bible’ we are confronted by a number of  incidents and occurrences which disturb our comfort zone around the many things which we take for granted’ –

But before that- let us pray ~

PRAYER 

God the Lord, the King almighty –

we gather as your people to worship you,

to praise you for being here amongst us,

and to thank you that, for all your goodness and greatness, wherever we may be, you welcome us into your presence.

We come, in all our weakness and with all our failings, rejoicing that in Christ we have been cleansed and made new;

that, through him, you have set your mark upon us, and called us to be your people.

Receive what we are,

and direct what we shall be.

Forgive us when we fail you,

our lives betraying our calling and your love.

Forgive us when people look at us, and, instead of seeing something of you, see only ourselves.

Forgive us when the things we say and do obscure and deny the gospel, rather than proclaim its message to all.

Help us truly to be a holy people,

reflecting your love,

showing your compassion,

and responding to your guidance.

Renew and restore us through the love of Christ

and the inspiration of your Holy Spirit.

Touch our hearts through this time together

and strengthen our faith,

so that in the week ahead we may live and work for you, to the glory of your holy name.

 

Listening Lord, we sit now for a few silent moments to clear our minds of the events of the past week  – 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 – as we silently pray – in the peace of our silence……………

 

Listening Lord – as undeserving as we are – we pray that you will forgive us and bless us with your mercy and your Grace – for we ask it in the name of your only son – our only hope – our dear sweet Jesus.

 

Listening Father – we know that you hear us when  we pray to you in faith – so hear us as we pray the prayer that Jesus taught His Disciple – 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.

Today we have 2 readings –

Psalm 77 : 13 – 14  &   Hebrews 2 : 1 – 4

Our first reading comes from the Old Testament – the lovely book of Psalms – and we hear the psalmist struggling as God’s seem to be silent in his hour of need – then he remembers the power of God’s amazing miracles…

And in our New Testament reading – we hear Paul writing to the Jewish converts to Christianity, who would be familiar with the Old Testament. He was reminding them that God sends us many ‘signs, wonders and various miracles’ – and emphasizing the importance of being watchful, vigilant and attentive – using their senses as well as their eyes and ears – to the wonders of God as seen and witnessed through His son – Jesus Christ.

 

Let’s read them now ~

Psalm 77 : 13 – 14    (New International Version – UK)

13 Your ways, God, are holy.
What god is as great as our God?
14 You are the God who performs miracles;
you display your power among the peoples.”

 

And

 

Hebrews 2 : 1 – 4   (New Century Version)

“Our Salvation Is Great.

So we must be more careful to follow what we were taught. Then we will not stray away from the truth. The teaching God spoke through angels was shown to be true, and anyone who did not follow it or obey it received the punishment that was earned. So surely we also will be punished if we ignore this great salvation. The Lord himself first told about this salvation, and those who heard him testified it was true. God also testified to the truth of the message by using wonders, great signs, many kinds of miracles, and by giving people gifts through the Holy Spirit, just as he wanted.”

Amen.

 

This is the Word of the Lord Thanks be to God

 

SERMON 

 

As my Irish Grandfather used to say before giving a speech or a Toast – “I’d like to say a few words before I speak!”

So before I start my Sermon,  I’ll begin by asking you the question – ‘do you believe in Miracles?’

Hold that thought for now.

As you may remember, we are currently looking at the ‘Miracles of the Bible’ and it’s not a subject that sits easily with many in the Reformed tradition.

Like “saints” and “spirituality” and “angels” – they’re areas which were largely and sadly – thrown out with the bath-water of the Reformation.

Many sought – and still do – seek to explain them away with other explanations. “of course it’s only figurative !” they say – or “well – it was only a symbolic feeding of 5.000 plus people – most of them would have produced food of their own as the fish and the loaves were being passed round!”

But I absolutely believe that God was performing miracles since the very creation – many of which are recorded in the Old Testament – and the miracles of Jesus as recorded for us in the New Testament.

It tells us that quite clearly in Scripture ~ “you are the God of Miracles” the Psalmist wrote around the year  2,000 B.C. – perhaps before.

As we heard in our N.T. for reading this morning,

which was written around 60 A.D. “ God also testified to it by signs, wonders and various miracles..”

Thousands of years later then – people were still writing about the miracles that God performed !!

117 ‘miracles and wonders’ are to be found in the Old Testament  – with at least 46 miracles recorded in the N.T which either involved or were performed by Jesus – and a further 26 being recorded as being performed by his disciples.

189 in all !! – you can’t easily explain that away !”

[and here’s a conundrum for the numerologists among us – add 1 +8+ 9 = 18.  Add the 1 +8 = 9. Jesus died at age 33, mutiply 3 x 3 = 9  -there  are 3’s and 9’s to be found through Scripture, ‘if we have the eyes to see them’].

 

And we know that there were many more miracles other than these – for in Johns Gospel at chapter 20 verse 30 – it says – “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the son of God, and that by believing, you may have life in His name.”

Miracles then – there’s plenty of them recorder for us – from the Creation in Genesis – right through to the book of Revelation – and that ‘new heaven and a new earth’ which waits for us – it’s miracle after miracle.

To mention just a few ~

From the earliest of times – there was the 10 plagues visited upon the Egyptians – you know – the locusts, the frogs and the boils and so on.

Then there was the falling of the walls of Jericho – when Joshua and the Israelites walked round the walls for 6 days and on the seventh, when they blew their trumpets – the wall fell down – pretty miraculous I’d say.

Then there was Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego – remember them ?

They refused to bow down to an image set up by King Nebu-chad-Nezzar.     As a punishment, they were thrown into a furnace and weren’t burned !

Then there was Daniel who was thrown into a den of lions and survived – through his immoveable faith in God.

And of course there’s a whole lot more.

But I suppose we should first determine just what a ‘Miracle’ actually is ~

Well – the dictionary says “a miracle is an event which is contrary to the laws of nature” – in other words – it’s something which – by all that we understand – just can’t happen – but it does !

But let’s just have look through some of these miracles and see what we can make of them ~

The first miracle performed by Jesus – according to the Bible – was changing of the Water into Wine at a friend’s wedding. And we read about that a couple of  weeks ago.

But we see signs of amazing miracles in the life of Jesus, even before that

They start with the miracle of conception – Mary’s ‘Immaculate’ conception of Jesus.   That was a wonderful miracle if ever there was !

And what about that star which led the Wise Men to Jesus ? Surely that was  – “an event which is contrary to the laws of nature” !!

Jesus was the very incarnation of God – that means He was the personification – the manifestation of God – He was God in living form – God come to earth – that’s why they initially called Him ‘Immanuel’ which means – ‘God is with us’ –  right here on earth –  that is some miracle too!!

And of course – the Resurrection – the ‘coming back to life of Jesus’ – the biggest miracle of all time !

Jesus grew up in a wee village – like many of us – He went into His father’s business  – a carpenter – and at age 30 he was Baptised by his cousin John – and the rest – as they say – is history.

He began preaching and healing – and we remember many of the more ‘well known’ miracles of Jesus – like the healing of the man who was lowered down through the roof by his friends.

And the time Jesus walked on water – or when He fed over 5,000 people from a wee boys piece box – with just of a couple of fish and a few bread rolls.

Or when He calmed the storm on the Sea of Galilee  – or when He told the fishermen to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and they  caught such a huge catch that they could hardly haul it on board.

“Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1 : 37).

And we have heard of some of the lesser know miracles – such as the time Jesus cast out 1,000 demons from a man who called himself “Legion” – and the demons went into the pigs in the field who ran down the hill and into the sea and drowned.

Or when Jesus brought Jairus’s daughter back to life….

And what about the time Jesus healed the withered hand of a man who was brought to Him – as recorded in Luke chapter 6 at verse 6.

Or the time when Jesus healed the woman with a demon possessed spine ? – or the time He healed a Roman Centurion’s servant – and the many other smaller, lesser know – yet no less important miracles that seem to pass us by ?

Miracle after miracle after miracle.

But whether big or small – well known or not – all of these miracles have one thing in common – ie an element of Faith was required. If not in the person being healed – then by someone close to them.

In Mary’s case – she was a young girl of absolute faith,  and God blessed her.  He gave her the greatest responsibility of any human being – to carry His Son in her womb.

And those people who lowered their friend down in front of Jesus – did so in the belief that Jesus really could – and would – heal their friend – and He did.

So Faith in God’s ability to deliver – is essential.

And it’s easy for us to think that such miracles don’t happen anymore – a thing of the past – but if you think that – then you’d be wrong !     Miracles still happen – every single day.

Even in this high-tech, modern world – God still intervenes in our world – He still becomes involved in our everyday lives – in way which we find hard to comprehend.

Every day ! Miracles are happening all around us – all the time  – to people like you and I!

The problem may be that in our new found ‘sophistication’ we don’t expect to see them – and so we don’t…

We become blasé about God’s goodness – and take it all for granted.

How often do we actually thank God for our many blessings ?

He sends them everyday – but do we thank Him everyday ?

For me – the biggest miracle is the miracle of life itself.

And so the very fact that we’re here at all, is a miracle !

The fact that God loves us at all – is a miracle !

The fact that God cares for us, more especially in our dark and difficult times – is – yes you’ve guessed it – a miracle !

And the very fact that there is a great and awesome God who would care for each and every one of us – you and me –  is a miracle too !

I often wonder – why would He should care for me – what have I ever done to deserve such love ?? ~

“Such love, pure as the whitest snow
Such love, weeps for the shame I know
Such love, paying the debt I owe
O Jesus, such love”

…Perhaps you feel the same……….

*

So – when we take time – if we take time – to think about all that God has done for us – it can be pretty overwhelming.

At the beginning of this Sermon I asked you the question “Do you believe in Miracles?” – and in the light of all that you have read here today – I will ask you again – “do you believe in Miracles…do you?”

If you say ‘no’ then you must believe that God has His limits and is not “all powerful”.

However, if you say “yes” then you concur with the words in the Bible which say “Nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1 : 37 – 38).

Your choice, of course… but food for thought.

Now I’m going to ask you to sit for just a few moments and think about the many blessings that God has given you – and give Him thanks.

It might be for your family or a special friend – it might be for the support He has given you in your difficult times – it might be for the very joy of life itself, even with all it’s ups and downs.

God has blessed you with many miracles – He has blessed all of us in different ways – so let’s sit for a few moments and think about our many blessings. And then  say this a wee prayer ~ ……………………

Pray ~

‘Lord as we recall the many blessings and miracles in our lives – we give you our grateful thanks for them.

We give you thanks too – that we can know your goodness and can confidently stand on the many wonderful promises that you make to us.

We are so blessed lord – thank you so, so much. Amen.’

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

If you are sitting with others beside or near you why not turn to them and simply  say – “you are one of God’s wonderful miracles” – and maybe they will reply – “and so are you !”

And if you are on your own as you read this – say to yourself –

“i am one of God’s miracles!” – and so you are!!

Let us Pray ~

 

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

Loving LordWalk with them – we pray

We are so blessed and we offer our gratitude, appreciation and recognition of all that you do for us and our loved ones.

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 this morning.

Loving LordWalk with them – we pray

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

Loving LordWalk with them – we pray

We pray for those who cry – while we are content.

Loving LordWalk 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 LordWalk with them – we pray

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

Loving LordWalk 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 LordWalk 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 on a national scale or a more domestic level – closer to home.

Perhaps someone reading this Service this morning knows that pain – Lord, bless them.

Loving LordWalk with them – we pray

Be with us listening Lord – as we sit 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 lord – in the peace of our silence……

……..take time to pray for those you know who need a prayer at this time – and for your family and friends……

Walk with each one of us –

For  we pray in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

 

‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’

I recently read a lovely story of a small mid-west American town – in which farming was the only means of income – and there had been the longest drought anyone could remember.

As you can imagine, things were pretty bad – no crops – no income – no food on the table.

The local Minister called a meeting of the locals to come along and pray for rain.

There was a tremendous turn out. Just about everyone in the area turned up and a number of prayers were said.

But as someone was praying – the Minister looked out of the corner of his eye and saw the cutest little girl – with curly blonde hair and bright blue eyes – praying in the scorching sunshine – with all her might – and beside her was a little red umbrella !! J

Of all those present – only she actually expected something to happen !!  And she had come prepared !!

It’s a lesson in humility – and a lesson in faith !

That little girl was praying for a miracle – and fully expected God to deliver !!

So much so that she brought her umbrella for the journey home !

So here’s a thought ~

When we ask God for something – when we pray for a miracle – do we really – deep down in our hearts believe it will happen ??

Perhaps it’s only when we – like that wee girl – have complete and absolute faith in God – that amazing things will begin to happen !

Mmmmmm!!! Now that is a thought!!??

Amen.

BLESSING

May the God of Grace breathe

Health into your body,

Love into your heart,

Peace into your mind,

and Joy into your spirit.

So let us go now,

With our lives filled to overflowing, and be poured out in His service –

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.

*

Take care and May God Bless you

And those who you love.

*

Keep safe

*

Be sure and look out for the Midweek Meditation which

is Posted every Wednesday Morning.

*

Some of you will know that I am currently serving

as Locum  in Kilmacolm Old Kirk.

It is a beautiful church with a small, renovated 13th century Chapel, called The Murray Chapel.

If you are interested you should go to Kilmacolmoldkirk.co.uk

and take the ‘Virtual Tour’ – I am sure you will find it most interesting.

*

And can I remind those of you who aren’t too far away from Kilmacolm, that our Murray Chapel is currently opened for a time of  personal Peace and Prayer, each day from Monday to Saturday from 11am – 1pm.

All welcome.

“Be still and know that I am God”

Psalm 46 : 10

Midweek Meditation – Wednesday 26th August 2020

Midweek Meditation

 

Good morning all, I hope you and your families are keeping as well as is possible under the circumstances.

Please find my Midweek Meditation copied below.

I hope it helps – particularly those who are struggling just now.

Take care.

 

Midweek Meditation

26th August 2020

Life is a Puzzle

PONDER – What have you been doing to pass the time during Lockdown these past few months ? – presuming you haven’t been going out to work that is.

I know some have been trying to keep fit – while others may have been eating their own body weight in chocolate! J  I say that in  a loving, non judgmental kind of way of course!

Some have been reading more or trying their hand a writing a book, or perhaps taking up an online course or starting a new hobby.

A friend recently told me that he had taken up doing  Jigsaws.  “Jigsaws are making a comeback – they make you think” he tells me.

That got me thinking…

What if we thought of our lives as being a Jigsaw? One of those really big ones with so many pieces that only the maker knows just how many.

Some pieces are of blue skies and bright sunshine –  while other  bits are dark, with black and grey colours .

We have been trying to make sense of it all for years – some bits are misshapen and don’t seem to fit in anywhere – while other pieces are lost altogether.

And to make things worse for us – we don’t know what the final picture is supposed to look like – as we lost the lid to the box long ago.

Some get in touch with the maker to help them make sense of it all – while others can’t be bothered and put the whole thing in the bin.

Such is life.

READ – “God made my life complete when I placed all the pieces before Him. When I got my act together, He gave me a fresh start.”

Psalm 18 : 20 (The Message version).

REFLECT – We can’t rewrite our storyline – but God can.

We can’t find all the pieces and put them all in the right place – but God can.

He makes sense of it all –  all we have to do is admit we need help – that we can’t do it on our own – and hand all the parts of our life over to Him.

Give Him all the pieces – and He will arrange them to make the most beautiful picture you could ever imagine, – your life here, as He intended – and then in that glorious, heavenly place, which is promised to us hereafter.

God will help you make sense of all the different pieces.

Some were to teach you – others to give you compassion, while others were to encourage you along the way. Many of the pieces still don’t make sense to us, but they do to God.

Hand over your life to Him in prayer – He has the lid of the box – He knows what the overall picture looks like.  While we only see our own wee corner – He sees it all.

The one thing that so many seem to be searching for – is Peace.

God  holds that in His hand, have you asked Him for it yet?

Is God’s Peace the missing piece of the jigsaw of your life?       “Ask and you will receive” the Bible tells us.

READ – “I feel ‘put back together’ and now I’m watching my step as I travel forward. God rewrote the text of my life when I opened up my life to Him so that He can see me as I am – and He made me what I was created to be.”     Psalm 18 : 24 (The Message Version).

PRAY – Heavenly Father, take my life, repair all that is broken  and make me whole again.

Give me a willing heart and a watchful eye so that I may see others who are struggling, and help them to ‘pick up the pieces’ and encourage them to hand them over to you to make sense of it all.

Bless those who’s lives are in pieces, living in fear, broken lives, broken relationships, broken hearts.

Bless each one of us with your peace – for we ask it in the name of Your only Son, our only hope, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Psalm 4 : 8 “ I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone  O Lord, make me live in safety.”

God Bless – have a good week.

 

*

 

 

Online Sunday Service – 23rd August 2020

23rd August 2020

Online Service

 

I hope this finds you as safe and well as can be expected in these unusual times.

Who would have thought, 6 or 7 months ago – that the world would be in the mess that it’s in now?

It  can, quite literally, bring us to tears as we think of all the lives lost – jobs and homes lost – Weddings cancelled and so on.

 

But as sad as it is – and it is – dwelling on the negative can seriously damage our health.

If we determine to be positive and  do what we can to help others in their troubles, we will change our own disposition – as well as making others feel better too.

Random acts of kindness, or a simple smile can lift the spirits of those around us.

 

Our lesson for today talks about a ‘laughing Jesus’, which changes the whole atmosphere when a troubled Mother comes to Jesus for help.

 

But before all that – let us pray ~

 

 

PRAYER

 

Loving Father – Lord of Heaven and Earth, we come from our different homes – from our different lives – to take time in our daily routines to come and join with our family and friends to worship you and to wonder at your greatness……..

 

We come, once more, to be reminded of all you are and all you have done – of the love with which you surround us, the grace you have shown us through Jesus Christ, and the purpose you have for our lives.

 

We come to offer you our praise, to declare again your mighty acts, to marvel at your greatness, and to commit ourselves to your service.

 

We come to give thanks,

To rejoice in all you have given us, to respond to your goodness, and to offer our love in return.

 

We come to make our confession, to admit our faults and failings, to recognise our weakness, and to ask your forgiveness.

 

We come to pray for ourselves, to seek your guidance, to discover your will, and to find the strength we need to live as your people.

 

We come to pray for others,

Our loved ones with all their joys and sorrows, our world with all its suffering, and your church as it seeks to express your compassion in action.

 

We come to make our offering, to bring our time, our money, our talents, our service, and ourselves.

 

Loving God,

We come to worship you in the conviction that you are here with us now, that you are by our side always, that you hold all things and all people in your hands.

 

As we reach out to you, reach out to us, we pray, and fill every moment of every day with the light of your love, and the peace of your presence, through Jesus Christ our lord,

To whom and through whom – we pray 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.

 

Last week I said that  after of looking at the Parables – we would look at some of the Miracles of Jesus.

 

But Miracles, Parables and Healing can often overlap.

 

For example – The feeding of the 5,000 which we looked at a few weeks ago – is both a Parable (as we saw) and a Miracle.

And the Healing of the Blind man (see John 9 : 1 – 7) is both a Healing and a Miracle! And today’s Lesson is all three !

 

Confused?? Don’t worry. So am I! J

 

We have 2 readings this morning –

 

The first is from the book of Daniel –

Daniel 9 : 4 – 6 & 17 – 18

And is sometimes called “Daniel’s prayer” – and he calls upon God to forgive the sins of the nation – and it’s interesting to note that as righteous as he was – he used the pronoun “we” to include himself among those who live a less than righteous life.

And he knew that neither he or any of us can earn or deserve God’s forgiveness – but forgiveness comes out of God’s goodness.

 

Our second reading is from Matthews’s Gospel –

Matthew 15 : 21 – 28

 

 

Which narrates Jesus healing the daughter of a persistent mother.

 

It’s a strange and  seemingly bizarre text which talks of dogs, crumbs and lost sheep.

What can it all mean ?? – let’s read it for ourselves and see what it is all about.

 

DANIEL 9 : 4 – 6 & 17 – 18    from the New Living Translation

I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:

“O Lord, you are a great and awesome God! You always fulfill your covenant and keep your promises of unfailing love to those who love you and obey your commands.But we have sinned and done wrong. We have rebelled against you and scorned your commands and regulations.We have refused to listen to your servants the prophets, who spoke on your authority to our kings and princes and ancestors and to all the people of the land.

17 “O our God, hear your servant’s prayer! Listen as I plead. For your own sake, Lord, smile again on your desolate sanctuary.

18 “O my God, lean down and listen to me. Open your eyes and see our despair. See how your city—the city that bears your name—lies in ruins. We make this plea, not because we deserve help, but because of your mercy.”

 

AND

 

MATTHEW 15 : 21 – 28  from the Revised Standard Version

The Canaanite Woman’s Faith

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and cried, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely possessed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying after us.” 24 He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 26 And he answered, “It is not fair to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.”

And her daughter was healed instantly.”
Amen.

 

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

 

 

SERMON

 

I once saw a picture of Jesus – not unusual – you might say – but in this picture, he was laughing – not just smiling – not just with a serene smile on his face – not even just grinning – but head back – mouth open – eyes sparkling – roaring with laughter.

 

Well, before that, I never really thought of Jesus actually laughing out loud before….. And, to be honest –  at first –  the picture unsettled me a bit.

 

I’d always seen God, seen Jesus, in a more serious way…….. Weeping, yes…….. Praying, of course – but a chuckling God ??

 

It seemed too – well,  unlike the kind of thing God would do.

 

Which only goes to show how much I know.. (or rather, don’t know) – about Jesus – and about God.

 

This encounter with the ‘laughing Jesus’ picture changed my view, my image of Jesus – I now see Him differently from how my very ‘free church, Presbyterian’ upbringing taught me to see Him……..

 

“Why shouldn’t he laugh” – I now think – after all we laugh, and if we’re made in God’s image – then He must laugh too !

 

I don’t see him through ‘stained glass windows’ any more.

 

*

The picture showed me a side to Jesus I had never even considered before.

 

Instead of seeing Him as solemn and aloof  – I now see Him as smiling, caring, warm – someone you wouldn’t be afraid to go and talk to – as, of course, many did – and still do.

 

We don’t hear too much about a ‘laughing Jesus’ do we ?

 

But let’s think about it in relation to some of the  Bible stories that we know.

 

For instance ~

Do we think he was upset when the Samaritan woman at the well finally got the message who he was and went and told everyone about him?

 

I’m sure he was smiling from ear to ear!

 

Do we imagine that He was cross when the little boy offered his packed lunch to feed the 5,000 ?? – no – I’m quite sure that he gave the lad a friendly smile and patted him on the head………

 

And can we really  imagine Jesus looking serious and sombre as he blessed the little children -and bounced them on his knee ? – I don’t think so !

 

And I also think that it’s more than just possible – that  Jesus had as smile on his face as he spoke to the woman in our New Testament reading that we have just read for ourselves.

 

Let’s imagine that we are bystanders at that conversation.

 

Here was a woman approaching Jesus – Matthew describes her as a ‘Canaanite woman’ – and in those two words – He makes her an outcast of the Jewish community –

 

A Canaanite– an outsider – not one of us  – bad news…….

 

A woman –  even worse news – for in that place and at that time – Jewish men were not to be seeing speaking to women in public…….

 

So here was a stranger – a female stranger – asking Jesus for a favour !

 

Well, we have to give her 10 out of 10 for determination !

 

Perhaps he was taken aback a little – or perhaps He was just testing her sincerity – but He doesn’t answer her at first – and then He says  – “but I was sent here to save my own people…..” – and may have turned away – because the woman cried even louder saying  – “Lord, please help me !!”

 

And then he talks about tables, breadcrumbs and dogs ..

And we wonder what that was all about !! –

 

Well, it’s not an easy passage to understand – unless you’re willing to concede that Jesus had a sense of humour – because then it all becomes much clearer –

 

So let’s look at this passage in a slightly  ‘different’ way – to see just what is going on here –

 

The woman is desperate. Her daughter is very ill.

The Canaanite woman has no right to ask anything of Jesus. She is not a Jew. She is not a disciple.

She offers no money for his ministry. She makes no promises to devote herself to missionary service.

You get the impression that she knows as well as anybody that jesus doesn’t owe her anything

And yet she is asking him for everything.

But that doesn’t slow her down. She persists in her plea.

“Have mercy on me!!!!!”  She cries….

 

Matthew notes that Jesus says nothing at first. Noth­ing. He doesn’t open his mouth. Why?

To test her? Most commentators suggest this.

Maybe, they say, he is waiting to see how serious she is about her plea.

 

I was brought up by my Grandmother  – and she used to make me wait a week from the day I asked her for something – to the day she gave me her answer.

 

Most of the time, I forgot that I ever made the request.

Time has a way of separating whims from needs.  Is Jesus doing that?

 

I have another opinion.

I think that he was admiring her. I think that it did His heart good to see some good old fashioned faith for a change. I think that it refreshed Him to see someone asking him to do the very thing he came to do— give great gifts to unworthy children.

Jesus said –  “I didn’t come to heal those who are healthy – I came to heal the sick” (Mathew ( 9:12).

 

The Canaanite woman came with no hidden agenda – no heritage – no religiously stored up brownie points. She knew only two things: 1. Her daughter was weak, and 2. Jesus was strong.

 

And what follows is one of the most intriguing dialogues in the new testament. Starting t verse 26.

 

And in essence, this is what they were saying –

 

“You know, of course, that I am the bread of life – and this bread is really only for feeding my own family”…

 

“Yes” the woman replied “but there are others who hunger for you too – surely you don’t mind us getting some of the crumbs, do you !?’

 

And it’s here that I feel sure that Jesus would have smiled at her !!

Such understanding – such faith – how could He fail to be pleased – and so in a feeling of exuberance and happiness – He answers – “never have I seen such faith – your daughter is healed !”

That doesn’t sound like a stern and condescending God to me – but rather a kind and smiling God – who rejoices when another sheep is taken into the fold – another soul is taken in to heaven…………

 

Her faith and belief in the power of Jesus – was justified and her prayer was answered…

*

This difficult text becomes so much clearer – for me –  – and perhaps for you – when I see Jesus smiling at the distressed woman – admiring her faith – seeing her situation and opening His heart to her  – not because of any worth of hers – but because of His great mercy for her………….

 

Daniel’s words could have been hers: “we do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy.”……..

 

She came, banking on the hope that Jesus would answer her prayer based on His goodness and not her worthiness.

And He did. With a smile.

 

Jesus the Healer – Jesus the Miracle worker – Jesus the one who answers our prayers.

 

He answers our prayers too – yours and mine – he smiles upon us and heals us of our pain – not because of anything we have done to deserve it – but because of His great love and compassion for us.

 

When I think about the prayers God has answered for me in spite of the life I’ve lived, I think he must be smiling still.

 

So I’m going to keep on thinking of that picture of Jesus laughing.   To me – it’s more like the Jesus  I  have grown to know and love – the Jesus who loves and forgives  me – and each and every one of us – just because…

 

And not for who we are or what we’ve done – but because of who He is –and what his Son did for us.

 

And all this He does – for you and for me…

 

How blessed we are!!

 

Amen.

May God bless this preaching of His Holy Word – and may all the glory and the praise – be His.

 

 

LET US PRAY –

Loving God, we are conscious of your great goodness to us – so many blessings over so many years – and it is with humility and some discomfort that we confess that we take it all for granted – and so we take time now – to say a simple and sincere “thank you so much Lord” – thank you, providing Lord,  for all that makes our lives good – help us to live our lives worthy of all your goodness to us.

*

But we know that there are many – aye, too many who are living in fear and darkness  – and we bring them to you in our prayers this morning.

 

We pray for those who are racked by illness, weighed down by anxiety tormented by depression, crippled by debt, broken by alcohol, destroyed by drugs, scarred by bereavement, devastated through unemployment,

And we wonder what their prospects really are, what hope we can realistically offer them, what help we can possibly give.

Transforming God, 

May your light shine where there is darkness.

 

We pray for such people known to us now —family, friends, members of our fellowship, colleagues at work, neighbours, acquaintances;

– as well as the countless people unknown to us, each struggling under their own particular burdens.

Transforming God,

May your light shine where there is darkness.

 

We pray for our world —for those many people who face suffering, injustice, hardship, and death.

Transforming God,

May your light shine where there is darkness.

 

Reach out to all who are in despair, we pray, all who long for change

But see only hopelessness stretching before them. Touch their lives,

And bring help, hope, healing, and wholeness.

Transforming God,

May your light shine where there is darkness.

 

Help us to see beneath the surface,

Recognizing you are at work and that things can change.

 

Help us to see beyond appearances,

Knowing that you are a god able to transform even the most hopeless of situations.

Give to us and to all people the assurance that there is no one and no situation unable to be transformed by your power.

Transforming God,

May your light shine where there is darkness.

 

Hear now our silent prayers as we bring to you those who we know and love  – and those we know we ought to love-  

 

Hear us now as we silent name them in our own personal, silent prayers –

 

……Take a few moments to pray for those you know need a prayer at this time – pray for your family and friends too…………….

 

Be with them all dear Lord – for we ask in the name of the one who brightens our lives – and gives us his joy and his peace – our Lord and  Saviour – Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

 

We’ve a lot to think about today – and so I would like to leave you with this simple story –

A new restaurant was opened in London – it attracted a wealthy clientele and was named “George and the Dragon” and had it had an ornately painted sign above the door.

One day – a beggar came to the door and said to the woman who appeared to be in charge, “I haven’t eaten in days. Could you spare me some food?”

“Get out of here,” yelled the woman. “We don’t feed beggars” and slammed the door in his face.

The beggar stood for a few minutes and regained his composure and knocked on the door once more.

The angry lady opened the door and stared at him, daring him to repeat his please for food.

The beggar looked up at the name of the restaurant on the sign over the door, said, “I wonder if I could talk with George this time?”…

 

I thought that would give you a smile – have a good day..

 

Why not share that with someone and give them a smile too?

 

BLESSING

And now – go out in love, joy and peace –

 

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

This day – and every day.

 

AMEN.

*

Take care and May God Bless you

And those who you love.

*

Keep safe

*

Be sure and look out for the Midweek Meditation which

is Posted every Wednesday Morning.

*

Some of you will know that I am currently serving as Locum

in Kilmacolm Old Kirk.

It is a beautiful church with a small, renovated 13th century Chapel, called The Murray Chapel.

If you are interested you should go to Kilmacolmoldkirk.co.uk

and take the ‘Virtual Tour’ – I am sure you will find it most interesting.

*

Midweek Meditation – Wednesday 19th August 2020

19th August 2020

Midweek Meditation

Rest Assured

 

Can you imagine the scene ? :

It’s a warm sunny day, a long white beach, and you are swinging carefree in hammock as it gently sways in the balmy breeze.  Your eyes are closed and you feel totally relaxed from toe to the top of your head. Absolutely and completely relaxed – every fibre of your body is calm, comfortable and at peace.

That’s how it feels to ‘rest in the shadow of the Almighty.’

 

READ – Psalm 91 : 1 “Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”

 

PONDER – Psalm 121 verse 4 tells us that God doesn’t get tired or sleep – but he does know the importance of taking a break – “and on the 7th day He rested” (Genesis 2 : 2).

If you are weary, restless, stressed out with all that is going on around you – then why not let God lead you to a quiet place, beside still waters – and allow Him to restore your soul.

 

 

READ – Psalm 23 : 2 – 3  “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul”

 

REFLECT – Many of us feel guilty if we take time out, to sit with a cup of tea, perhaps reading a chapter or two of a book. But that is far from the truth,

It is a necessary mechanism to restore yourself, body and mind, so that you can recharge your batteries for facing the world head on.

Open you heart and your mind to God’s restoring, healing hand. Let Him calm you, let Him in to your life so that He can – in the peace of your silence – calm and restore you – and assure you that He is watching over you.

Remember that “Nothing is impossible for God”

(Luke 1 : 27).

 

PRAY – My loving God, how I need your assurance that you are in charge and watching over me as I get tossed around the ups and downs of this life. You are the calm in my storm – the one sure , dependable promise I have is your constant love for me. Help me to slow down and relax in your presence so that I may regain my strength to face whatever lies before me.

Take away my pain, my anger and all that keeps me from enjoying the life that you have given to me.

Hear my prayer Almighty God.

Amen.

 

Resting in the shadow of God – safe and secure, is a wonderful place to be.

 

So take time – make time to rest in His presence – and there you really can – “Rest, assured.”

 

Have a good week.  God Bless.

Online Sunday Service – 16th August 2020

 

16th August 2020

Online Service

The Wedding at Cana

How has your week been? Most of us are pretty fed up with the ups and downs which we are subjected to – much of which is caused by the insensitive and thoughtless action of those who really don’t understand what it is all about.

There are many who don’t understand much of the Bible – and as someone once said to me “the bible doesn’t help itself does it!? With all the miracles, parables, symbolism and so on!”

They probably had a point.

Understanding the issues is the key to making sense of its meaning and significance for us.

Over the past few weeks we have been looking at some of the better know Parables, like ‘The Feeding of the 5,000’, ‘The Good Samaritan’ and so on. All well enough know to us – but I hope that you now see that they have so much more to tell us than is ‘on the surface’ and should you come across a Parable (there are plenty of them) you will think to yourself – ‘I see what it is saying – aye, but what does it mean?”

Starting today I am going to begin a short series on the Miracles of Jesus.

The very first Miracle that He performed was at a friends Wedding in the nearby village of Cana – where He changed the Water into Wine.

Like all the feats of Jesus – nothing is as it might seem – and so it is with this first Miracle.

Over the next few weeks we will be ‘unpacking’ a number of miracles performed by Jesus to find out what is at the heart of them ~

But before that – let us pray together ~

PRAYER  

Loving Father of all that is good –

we come to celebrate your greatness – to singing your praises, thanking you for your many gifts, rejoicing in your love for us, and offering you our grateful worship.

Lord – in your mercy, hear our prayer.

We come knowing you have made this day and every day, this place and every place, ourselves and all people.

We come, conscious that once more

you have blessed us beyond our deserving —that we have tasted your goodness and received richly from your loving hand.

 

Lord – in your mercy, hear our prayer.

But we come too, conscious that we have not always appreciated your love, that we have been slow to thank you, yet quick to ask for more, dissatisfied with what we have, yet wasteful of the resources you have given us.

Forgive us, we pray

Lord – in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Gracious and loving God,

assure us once more of your mercy,

renew us through the living presence of your Holy Spirit, and so restore our relationship with you

that we may follow you each day not just in words but through all that we are.

Lord – in your mercy, hear our prayer.

And hear us now as we pray together, the prayer which brings us together as one family – 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.

Today we have 2 readings –

The first is from the Old Testament (O.T,) –

PSALM 104 : 10 – 15.

Where we hear King David praising God for his unfailing goodness – and acknowledging the importance of the refreshing and life giving powers of water – and the rejuvenating power of wine….

And our second reading is taken from John’s Gospel –

John 2 : 1 – 11.

And we hear of the very first miracle that Jesus performed – changing the water into wine at a friends wedding.

This is right at the beginning of his 3 year ministry – and Jesus seems reluctant to ‘come out” – but his mother encourages him – and the rest – as they say – is history. But is that all there is to this that well known story ?

Well…we’ll see in a moment…

Let’s read those passages now –

PSALM 104:10–15 from the New Revised Standard Version (NSRV)

 “ 10 You make springs gush forth in the valleys;

they flow between the hills,
11 giving drink to every wild animal;
the wild asses quench their thirst.
12 By the streams[a] the birds of the air have their habitation;
they sing among the branches.
13 From your lofty abode you water the mountains;
the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work.

14 You cause the grass to grow for the cattle,
and plants for people to use,[b]
to bring forth food from the earth,
15     and wine to gladden the human heart,
oil to make the face shine,
and bread to strengthen the human heart.”

And ~

John 2:1-11   from The Passion Version (TPV)

The Wedding at Cana

“Now on the third day there was a wedding feast in the Galilean village of Cana, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2–3 Jesus and his disciples were all invited to the Wedding banquet, but with so many guests in attendance, they ran out of wine.

And when Mary realized it, she came to him and asked, “They have no wine, can’t you do something about it?

Jesus replied, “My dear one, don’t you understand that if I do this, it won’t change anything for you, but it will change everything for me! My hour of unveiling my power has not yet come.”

Mary then went to the servers and told them, “Whatever Jesus tells you, make sure that you do it!”

Now there were six stone water pots standing nearby. They were meant to be used for the Jewish washing rituals. Each one held about 20 gallons or more. Jesus came to the servers and told them, “Fill the pots with water, right up to the very brim.” Then he said, “Now fill your pitchers and take them to the master of ceremonies.”

And when they poured out their pitcher for the master of ceremonies to sample, the water became wine! When he tasted the water that became wine, the master of ceremonies was impressed. (Although he didn’t know where the wine had come from, but the servers knew.) 10 He called the bridegroom over and said to him, “Every host serves his best wine first until everyone has had a cup or two, then he serves the wine of poor quality. But you, my friend, you’ve reserved the most exquisite wine until now!” 11 This miracle in Cana was the first of the many extraordinary miracles Jesus performed in Galilee. This was a sign revealing his glory, and his disciples believed in him”

Amen.

This is the word of the Lord – thanks be to God

SERMON

Our N.T. Reading for today is, of course, from Johns’ Gospel – and it’s only in his Gospel that we find this miracle of the Water & the Wine.

Johns’ Gospel is quite different from the others.

This is probably because his Gospel was written some time after the books of Matthew, Mark or Luke – and there was more time to reflect on what all the miracles, healings and wonders of Jesus – actually meant.

John calls the Miracles of Jesus – “Signs” – signs of God’s power.   And ‘signs’ – as we know – usually point in a certain direction – leading us somewhere.

And that’s what John’s gospel does – through a series of – “signs” it leads us to see the whole glory of God – through His son – Jesus.

No Shepherds – no Angels – no Wise Men – just the bare facts as to the reason Jesus came to earth – and who He really was.

And so as we read through John’s gospel – we find our selves on a journey.

It leads us along the road – via a series of ‘signs’…. Aye but where to !?

Well – his gospel is – if you like – a treasure hunt – where his ‘signs’ are like clues – which we have to discover and then investigate to find out their true meaning.

Firstly, they show us the miraculous power of God – and secondly, they were to show ‘those with the eyes to see’, that Jesus really is God’s son – and has all God’s power and authority – here on earth.

And there were many more ‘signs’– and we read that at the end of John 20: where it says ~ now Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, that are not written in this book. But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the son of God, and that by believing – you may have life in His name.”

The Transformation of water into wine at the wedding at Cana, was the first of these ‘miraculous signs.”

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At this point – Jesus hadn’t called His first disciples yet – and was just setting out on His important “Mission Earth.”

There was much to do – many things to accomplish – and yet we see Him taking some time out to enjoy a local wedding.

Even at this early stage – Jesus knew the importance of being involved in the everyday lives of everyday people – people like you and I.

Many religious leaders of the day – and throughout history – set themselves up as being aloof and remote from the everyday people.

Over emphasizing their own importance, knowingly using scholastic jargon which flew right over the heads of ordinary people.

But Jesus knew that His mission – as significant and world changing as it was – went hand in hand with the lives of ordinary people.

People like you and I.

Unlike the religious leaders of the day – Jesus was a ‘people person’ – a ‘man of the people’ – who loved to get to know people – and see how he could help them change their lives for the better.

And here He was – among the people – mingling – chatting – socializing – sharing.     Not only changing water into wine – but transforming the hearts and minds of those who saw what he could do.

“If he can do such an amazing thing” they may well have thought – “then he surely is who he says he is – the very son of God.”

It shows us – the importance of sharing our faith with others – out-with the church setting – whether at work – in the home – in school – in Tesco’s – at a wedding – or wherever we may find ourselves.

It’s not about being a ‘bible basher’ or a ‘holy willie’ – but being a good Christian person who cares about the lives of others – who leaves a good impression – who plays your own humble part in the transformation of the lives of those you meet.

95% of Jesus’ ministry – was spent walking, talking, sharing – with everyday people – people we see all around us in society.

With people, with all their issues and worries – in their times of sadness and their times of joy – people like you and I.

 

It was people such as these – at times such as these – that Jesus becomes involved – and his involvement brought about a transformation in their lives.

His kindness – His faith – gave an example – a hope – to those who met Him – and a faith to countless millions ever since.

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Believe it or not – but your life has an effect on those around you. …oh yes it does!…

The way you live your life – how you act – re-act and inter-act with others – all show who you really are. And if you have a faith – it shows that too.

Jesus “lived” the gospels – in His everyday life – and when people saw His faith – His character – they too were changed.

This is what Jesus did – and it’s what we – if we are to call ourselves ‘Christian’ – are also called to do. To ‘go out and make disciples of others.’

 

Do you remember that story of St Francis of Assisi – when he was asked by a student how he changed the lives of so many of the people he met – he replied – “I preach the gospel at all times – and sometimes I even use words!”

‘Oh dear!’ – you might be thinking – “this sounds like I’m going to have to do something!’

Maybe that’s what Jesus thought when Mary asked Him to help at the Wedding in Cana – He was certainly reluctant!

And we see that in verse 4 of our N.T. reading – when Jesus said – “Why do you involve me!? – my time hasn’t come yet !”

In other words – ‘don’t ask me ! – I’m not ready to do that kind of stuff!’

But with a little encouragement – He stepped up and showed those present – the amazing, transforming power of God.

And if we’re totally honest – many of us are reluctant too – but with a little encouragement – we can show others the transformation in our own lives – and so encourage them to consider doing the same.

You see – if we think that this miracle is all about the wine – we would be seriously missing the point.

It’s about the act of transformation.

 It’s about the ability to transform things from what they were – into what they can be.

It’s about taking everyday, ordinary, mundane things – like water – like our lives – and through the power of Christ – changing them into something far sweeter – far more enriching – something so unbelievably different.

That is what’s accessible and absolutely available to people like you and I – and to others – if they only but knew it!

But how can they know what joy awaits them – unless someone tells them?

How can they know about the love that God has for them?

How can they know that He has a plan for their lives which involves a man from heaven – walking beside them through their lives – and stepping into eternity with them?

How can we know – unless we come and hear it for ourselves ?

How can others know – unless someone tells them?

And that’s where you and I come in.

That’s the message – that’s the challenge.

However, that’s not all this miracle story has to teach us.

As the Irish comedian Jimmy Cricket used to say – “There’s more!”

And it’s at verse 10 – where the ‘Master of the banquet’ –the one overseeing the arrangements tastes the wine and says “everyone usually brings out the best wine first – and then the cheaper wine – when nobody will notice ! – but (and here’s the important line) “but you – have saved the best till last!”

And that’s the point – the implication that this often overlooked passage has for your life – and mine – and for those around us.

And it’s this ~

That for as richly blessed as we are in our lives – the best is yet to come !!

God’s love for each and every one of those who responds to His love – will know an over abundance of His generous blessings.

And at the last – that day of Sorrow will become the day of great Joy as He receives you into His kingdom for all eternity –to live in peace and tranquillity in that most wonderful of places – with those who have gone before us.

That’s His promise.

For each one of us – the best really is yet to come !!

And it will be better, more amazing and mind blowing than anything we have ever experienced before or could ever imagine.

It’s a wonderful, breathtaking transformation that we all have to look forward to.

And what a wonderfully comforting thought for us to take away with us today and think about – a thought to hang on to and to pray for – for yourself and for those you love.

Pray that your family, friends and those you know and love will know that wonderful promise too.

That’s is what I pray for you – as you read these words – and I pray for you in the name of God’s only Son – our only hope – Jesus Christ..

Amen.

And may God bless this preaching of His Holy Word – and may all the glory and the praise – be His.

Let us pray ~

Loving Father, we give you thanks for all the blessings you bestow upon us – families, friends, a home to live in, food on the table and so much more.

The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

Father, we pray for the world – your creation.

You gave us responsibility for all that you have made. You entrusted every living creature into our care. But we have betrayed that trust and neglected our responsibility ~ We have allowed your good earth to become polluted by our greed, damaged by our selfishness and sucked dry by our materialism. Father, by your Holy Spirit, give us a renewed urgency to fulfill the task you laid upon us.

 The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

Father, we pray for governments around the world; for those whose decisions will affect the whole of your creation;

for those who ignore the implications for future generations of the decisions they are making today; for the leaders of nations who are genuinely seeking to behave responsibly, to act justly and to be faithful stewards of your creation.

The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

 Father, we pray for our school children who received lower grades than they expected. Particularly those who see their hopes for the future being dashed. Remind them Father that you have a plan for the life of each one of us – and although our plans may not pan out as we would wish, your plans are guaranteed – and your plans for us are for our good and successful future.

The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

Father, we pray for ordinary men and women and children around the world whose lives have become unbearable. Whether through war or famine – abuse or neglect – we ask for your blessings upon them. We pray too for the ordinary men, women and children that we know who find life difficult – whether through the loss of someone close – through illness or whatever circumstance – and we ask that you bless them too loving Father –

The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

At this weekend – as we celebrate VJ day – we give our heartfelt thanks to those service men and women who

gave their lives in that awful area of war – to make this world, your world, a better place.

 

We also keep in our prayers – those who are still placing their own lives on the line so that our world is a safer and better place to live in.

The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

Father, we pray for ourselves.

We are your creation.

We acknowledge that we are wonderfully made.

We are capable of amazing acts of kindness, love and understanding. Help us to use those for the good of others.

Yet we also know our need of your healing, forgiving, transforming grace.

We ask you to touch our hearts with your love,

our lives with your grace and our lips with your truth.

Father, enable us so to live that others may live in you.

Lord, empower us so to speak that others may glorify you.

The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

Father, we pray for our families – those who are close to us , we pray that you will bless them and watch over them – whether they are close by or far away from us, keep them close to you, keep them safe and secure.

ather, draw close to us – as we sit for a few silent moments – praying for those we love and care for – and for those we ought to love.

Be with us in the peace of our silence……take a few moments to think of those you know need a prayer at this time………..

The Lord hears our prayer – thanks be to God

We know that the Lord hears our prayers both for others and for ourselves – because we pray in faith and in the name of our dear Saviour, Jesus Christ.   Amen.

 ‘THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK’

A friend once told me this story – and I’ll tell it to you just as she told it to me ~

“We had been away for a few days over the winter – and came home to find a pipe had burst in the attic – and there was water everywhere.

So I called a plumber and after a quick look – he set to work repairing the damage.

But the day didn’t go well for him.

A flat tyre made him lose an hour of work and his electric drill broke down. Then his old transit van refused to start.

As I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.

On arriving he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked towards the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands.

Upon opening the door he had undergone an amazing transformation.

His tanned face was one big smile and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward he walked me to my car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do at the little tree.

 

“Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied. “I know I can’t help having troubles in my daily life, but one thing’s for sure, those troubles don’t belong in the house with my loved ones.

So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home and ask God to take care of them. Then in the morning I pick them up again.

Funny thing is though,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick them up, there aren’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”

What a wonderful story ! Perhaps we should all have a ‘trouble tree’ inside our homes – but you know – a prayer can do the same thing ! – hand your troubles to Jesus in your daily prayers – not everything will go away but He will lighten your load – refresh and refill you.

And that’s a promise !!

BLESSING

And now – go in Love, Joy and Peace –

Go with God’s love in your heart – and His hand on your shoulder, watching and guiding you in all you say and do..

And may the blessing of Almighty God – Father – Son – and Holy Spirit – be with you all – may He be with your families,

your friends, and those you love – and ought to love – this day – and every day.

Amen.

 Take care and May God Bless you

And those who you love.

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Keep safe

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Be sure and look out for the Midweek Meditation which

is Posted every Wednesday Morning.

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Some of you will know that I am currently serving as Locum

in Kilmacolm Old Kirk.

It is a beautiful church with a small, renovated 13th century Chapel, called The Murray Chapel.

If you are interested you should go to Kilmacolmoldkirk.co.uk

and take the ‘Virtual Tour’ – I am sure you will find it most interesting.

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