Christmas Reflection 2020

Christmas Morning 2020

 

Good morning all, a Merry Christmas to you and your loved ones. It will be a very different t one for most of us, but the message of Christmas doesn’t change, God’s Son came down to earth to seek and to save us and that really is worth celebrating! So whether you are with family or on your own, never forget that God is always with you, He said “I will never forget or forsake you, I will always be with you.” If you are having a busy day why not save this Reflection for later. It is a Christmas story suitable for all ages, so if you are a child or “young at heart” this story is for you. Have lovely day, God bless and keep safe. Iain.

 

Audio Version

Printed Version

Good morning all –

Well, it’s Christmas morning  – the day we celebrate our Saviours birth.

and a Happy Christmas to you all !!

I’d like to tell you a story – it’s a children’s story, so if you have any children around you might like to gather them around to hear the story of the very first Christmas tree.

 

It also has a message for the adults too – so if, like me, you are a child at heart why not take a seat and her this Christmas Story.

I wrote it a number of years ago for the children in my Sunday School in the Highlands – they liked it – I hope you do too.

 

As I say to the Children ~

Are you sitting comfortably?

Do you need a wee shoogle to settle down?

OK then I’ll begin ~

 

 

The First Christmas Tree

In a land far away – a long time ago – there was a great forest where the Pine trees stood tall and proud – some of the trees were so tall that the local people said that they touched the skies !

But there was one tree that was not nearly so tall as the others; in fact, it was no taller than some of the children in the local school.

Now, the tall trees could see far, far out over the hilltops and into the valleys, and they could hear all the noises that went on in the world beyond the forest, but the Little Tree was so small and the other trees grew so high and thick about it that it could not see nor hear these things at all; but the other trees were very kind, and they would stoop down and tell them to the Little Tree.

One night in the winter time there seemed to be something strange happening in the little town among the hills, for the trees did not go to sleep after the sun went down, but put their heads together and spoke in strange, low whispers that were full of awe and wonder. The Little Tree, from its place close down to the ground, did not understand what it was all about. It listened awhile, and then lifted its head as high as ever it could and shouted to its tall neighbor: “Will you not stoop and tell me what is happening?” And the big tree stooped down and whispered: “There are shepherds out on the hilltops and they’re telling strange stories while they watch their sheep. The air is filled with sweet music, and there is a wonderful star coming up in the east, traveling westward always, and the shepherds say that they are waiting for it to stop and shine over a humble stable in their little town. I have not heard why it is going to stop there, but I will look again and listen.” So the tall tree lifted up its head again, and reached far out so that it might hear more of the wonderful story.

Bye and bye it stooped down again, and whispered to the Little Tree:

“Oh, Little Tree, listen! There are angels among the shepherds on the hills, and they are all talking together. They seem to be awaiting the birth of a little child, who will be a king among the people, and the beautiful star will shine above the stable where the little king will be laid in a manger.”

The tree again raised its head to listen, and the Little Tree, much puzzled, thought within itself: “This is very strange, indeed, Oh, how I wish that I could see it all!”

 

It waited a little longer, and everything grew quiet, and a great peace came upon the forest.

Then suddenly the town, and even the forest was illuminated with a strange, white light that made everything as bright as day, and the air was filled with the flutter of angels’ wings, and with music such as the world had never heard before.

The people and the trees, even the stars in the heaven, lifted up their voices and sang together and the whole world was filled with music and joy and love for the little Christ-child who had come to dwell upon the earth.

The Little Tree was filled with fear and wonder, for so great was the excitement that the other trees had almost forgotten it, and it could not understand the mysterious sounds; but bye and bye its tall friend said, “Listen, listen, Little Tree! Such news I have to tell! The Christ has come–the King! And the whole world is singing such beautiful music. There are wise men coming from the East, bringing beautiful gifts to the Christ-child. The angels, too, are upon the earth, and they bear rare and beautiful gifts. Wait! I will tell you more.”

The tall tree had scarcely lifted up its head when it stooped again and whispered to the Little Tree, “Look! Look! Little Tree! They are coming this way; the angels are coming here, into our forest! Lift up your head high and you will see them as they pass.”

The Little Tree lifted up its head and saw the white flutter of angel robes and heard the strange, sweet voices of the heavenly host who came with precious gifts into the forest.

“Oh,” said the Little Tree, “they are coming here, toward me! What shall I do?” And in fear it bent its head so low that it almost touched the ground.

But the music came nearer and nearer, and the Little Tree felt a tender hand upon its branches, and a soft, gentle voice said to it, “Arise, Little Tree, and come with us, for we have come into the forest to seek you. Yes, you, the very smallest among the trees, we have a special task for you – you are to be the gift-bearer. Come; lift up your head.”

In fear and trembling the Little Tree did as the angel had said. But when it looked into the angel’s face and saw the love and kindness there, all fear was gone, and it said to the angel: “Yes; make me ready. I will come with you to the little Christ-child in the manger.”

So all the angels lifted up the small tree and placed him in the corner of the stable where her could see all that was going on. He saw the baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph – he saw the cattle and the lambs that the shepherds had brought – and he saw the 3 Wise men who brought wonderful gifts for the new baby.

And so the story goes – although nobody is quite sure if it’s true – that Mary tied the presents on to the small tree – so she could open them later, once everyone had gone.

And that – they say – is the story of the very first Christmas Tree.

 

What a wonderful story !  – I don’t know if it’s true – but Christmas is certainly a wonderful and exciting time – it’s the time when we celebrate the birth of the baby Jesus…….

And so  – this Christmas – as we eat all that yummy food and open our presents – let’s remember that first little Christmas Tree – and for as small as he was – he still had a very important job to do – Just like you.

And let’s also to remember the whole reason for Christmas – the birth of the baby Jesus.

Jesus is the reason for the season !!

 

LET US PRAY ~

Dear God, we give you thanks for our families and friends and we give thanks for the birth of that wee baby Jesus, all those years ago. Remind us that Jesus came for each one of us – to love and to care and to bless us ~ and may He bless all children everywhere, this Christmas, especially those who are not to fortunate as we are.

Hear our Prayer Lord, for we pray in the name of our most special friend – our dear sweet Jesus. Amen.

 

God bless – and Happy Christmas!!

Take care and please – keep safe.

 

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Watchnight Service – Thursday 24th December 2020

WATCH NIGHT SERVICE

 24.12.20

Good evening and welcome to our Christmas eve Service.

Merry Christmas ! Please find the AUDIO version of the Christmas Eve / Watchnight Service below.

Audio version

Printed Version

 

 

It’s been a difficult year for many of us and this Christmas time will be very different to other years – but the message of Christmas remains the same – Christmas isn’t cancelled!  The message that God came down to Earth to seek and to save us never changes – and that is what is really at the heart of Christmas.

 

Let us pray ~

 

Dear Loving. Living Lord we come to praise you on this Christmas eve – this time of patient waiting – this time of promises fulfilled and of peace, joy and love to all mankind.

 

What an amazing God you are – you continually bless us -although we so often forget to thank you.

You never cease to love us – even although we put ourselves and our own interests before you……. You sent your son to save us – although we must seem far from grateful – and yet you send your Holy Spirit to guide us and to guard us.

 

How narrow we are ! – how ungrateful we are!  How unworthy we are ! Yet, for all that – you continue to love and watch over us – what an amazing God you are !!

 

Forgive us Lord – have mercy upon us and bless us as we apologise for the things we have said and done which are far from what you expect of us – things we know are wrong and unpleasant – yet we continue to do them……..

 

Hear now our silent prayers as we sit for a few moments, side by side with our families and friends – bringing to you own prayers –

Lord be with us – in the peace of our silence……...take a short time for personal prayer………….

 

Hear our prayer Lord – and hear us now as we pray together – the prayer which brings us all 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.

 

*

 

Well, here we are –  Christmas Eve – the last shop is closed –  it’s too late to get that last present –  !!

 

There’s no more time to get that turkey – if you haven’t got it now – then it’s beans on toast for Christmas dinner for you !!

 

It’s usually a night when we go home and leave a carrot  for the reindeer and a glass of milk for Santa – (unless he’s very lucky and you leave him a glass of sherry !)

 

It’s  a time of waiting – a  time of looking forward.

 

Both of our Readings for this evening are –

Matthews Gospel

 

Matthew 1 : 21 – 23   &   Matthew 2 : 1 – 2

*

First from

Matthew 1:21-23  New International Version

21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”).

And from

Matthew 2:1-2   New International Version

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

Amen.

 

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

 

 

SERMON –

Well, here we are –  Christmas Eve – the last shop is closed –  it’s too late to get that last present –  !!

 

There’s no more time to get that turkey – if you haven’t got it now – then it’s beans on toast for Christmas dinner for you I’m afraid !!

 

A night when we go home and leave a carrot  for the reindeer and a glass of milk for Santa – (unless he’s very lucky and you leave him a glass of sherry !)…..

 

It’s  a time of waiting – a  time of looking forward –

 

A time when the children are innocently looking forward to Santa coming –

 

And a time when many parents look forward to when it’s all over and they can enjoy a bit of peace and quite!!

 

But for us all – it’s a  time of celebration – a time when we would usually sing all the well known Carols – and hear the well known stories of the Angels – the Shepherds – the Wise Men and the birth of baby Jesus in a  byre in Bethlehem………

 

A time when our young people with tea towels on their heads and tinsel angels – re-enact the nativity scene of 2,000 years ago.

 

We’ve seen it all before – we’ve heard it all before –

 

So much so that we can almost recite the lines as we hear them read.

 

But you know – there are two verses that we hear every year – but I suspect that many of us don’t remember them – or even remember hearing them being read before – yet they form the basis of the whole of the christmas story.

Aye – and beyond.

 

The first verse is part of our first reading this evening…… – it’s when Joseph is told by the Angel – “Mary is to have a child – and you are to call him  ‘Immanuel’… ….which means – God is with us”………

 

The second versee is in our second reading – and it was the question that the magi asked when they arrived in bethlehem. Do you remember ??

 

They asked –

“where is the one they call Jesus ??”………

 

These two verses are – for me – are at the heart of the whole Christmas story…..

 

And I’ll explain why –

 

We can see them as almost a question and answer – the magi’s question to the people in Bethlehem – “where is he ?” – is, in a sense, answered by the angel to Joseph –

“he is with us” – ……..

 

Q – where is he ?”

A –  “he is with us”

 

Do you see ??

 

And that age old question is one that people are still asking today –“where is God ??”

 

In the atrocities of war – in the bombings, the murders and in so many more tragedies.

 

In the good as well as the sad times of our lives –

 

And in the pandemic which holds us in its grip –

 

people ask “where is God ?”…….

 

But the answer remains the same – “He is still with us” !!

 

Through all we go through – He is here, going through it with us.

 

And if we miss that – then we miss the point of Christmas.

 

We miss the point of Jesus’ coming into the world…..

 

 

Because – you see – those simple lines change everything – it isn’t just another birth – another baby.

It’s God coming to earth in human form.

He came to be with us.

 

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That’s the message of Christmas.

 

That’s what Immanuel means –the Angels tell us – “God is with us” –

 

We don’t need wise men or shepherds – we don’t even need angelic hosts or shiny stars…… to make this story true –

 

The one indispensable part of this whole amazing story is that single statement –  “and He will be called ‘Immanuel – which means – God is with us”…….

 

Without that – it’s just another baby  – just another sad story of an unmarried mother being turned away, shunned by society – when she needed help the most…

 

But the fact that God has chosen to come down and join with us in our pain and our suffering – our joy and our celebrations – makes the whole thing a wonderful and hope filled occurrence.

 

Here was God – doing something that even the wisest of the wise men could never have imagined!

 

In that small baby – God had launched his master plan – to save the world.

 

Christ is coming this night – on Christmas eve.

 

He came to be with you and he came to be with me – not just at Christmas, but he is with you each moment of each day.

He came to save us.

 

How wonderful – how amazing is that?

 

As I have said before – this really is “the greatest story ever told” – in this is just the beginning!

 

And so tonight – as we await the coming of the Saviour,  we stand on the threshold of a new beginning.

How exciting is that!?

 

And – as they say in all the best stories –

Come back next week and hear the next thrilling instalment of this wonderful adventure of God coming to earth to seek and to seek and to save us…..

We really are – so blessed!

 

Amen.

 

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

 

And now – as midnight draws near –

 

Let us take a few moments to look back

and remember the blessings of family and friends – of loved ones who are still with us and loved ones lost –

 

Holy Lord Jesus, Remind is that through our faith and your great love for us – we can pray that our loved ones are safe in your hands – and that in your time – we will all meet again – but until that time let us put our trust and our faith in our dear sweet Saviour – born this night – to bring light into our dark world.

……….take a few moments for personal prayer………

hear our prayers Listening Lord – for we bring them to you in the name of our dear saviour, born this day for all mankind.

Amen.

*

And now as it is midnight, Christmas day is here let me wish you all a very Merry Christmas  – and light the 5th Christmas candle, the white a candle in the centre of our Advent Ring  – the candle of peace  – a sign of the peace that baby boy brings into the world – and our lives – when we give our lives and our hearts to Him.

Amen.

And now –

BLESSING

May the joy and the delight,
the humility and the gentleness,
the innocence and the peace
of the Christ child
be yours this Christmas time.

 

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

This day – and forever more.

Amen.

 

I will be posting a  Christmas Morning Reflection in the morning – in the form of a Christmas Story – for adults as well as Children so please take  a few minutes – at some time tomorrow to gather the children for a wee while and hear the story of the very first Christmas tree!

And now let us celebrate the birth of that wee Holy baby – who was born in a byre in Bethlehem on that dark Holy night –

 Play – “O Holy Night”

Have a lovely Christmas – and please,  keep safe..

*

I will post a Christmas Day Reflection tomorrow morning.

Remember not to be to late in bed tonight In case that special visitor pays you a visit ! 🎅🏼 TaKe care and God bless. Iain

Midweek Meditation – Wednesday 23rd December 2020 – Christmas week

Midweek Meditation at Christmas Week

Good morning all, here is this week’s AUDIO version of the Midweek Meditation. I hope you can find the time to stop for a short while and listen to a Christmas story which has a message for us all. I’ll also be posting a Christmas Eve/Watchnight service and a short Christmas morning reflection on Friday, if you would like to listen to them. I hope you are all organised for Christmas, not long now! Take care and God bless. Iain

Audio Version

Printed Version

23.12.20

Christmas is for love

Good morning all – I hope you are all organized for Christmas – only 1 shopping day left!

Christmas is a time for stories so as it is almost Christmas – I thought I would tell you a Christmas story. It should remind of the Real Reason that God sent His Son down to earth.

Is it a true story? Well listen and make up your own mind….

It’s a story of a Teacher, told in her own words –  and a very special wee boy,

It’s called – Christmas is for love

As I would say to the children – are you sitting comfortably?

Would you like a wee shoogle – to make yourself comfy?  J

OK  – then I’ll begin ~

“Christmas is for love. It is for joy, for giving and sharing, for laughter, for reuniting with family and friends, for tinsel and brightly decorated packages. But mostly, Christmas is for love.

Or at least, that is what people say.

My dear Mother had passed away early this year – and Joy wasn’t on the top of my Christmas list this year…

But that was to change – one of my pupils –  a small sad wee boy with wide-eyed innocent eyes and soft rosy cheeks gave me a wonderful gift last Christmas.

Mark was an 11 year old orphan who lived with his aunt, a bitter middle aged woman greatly annoyed with the burden of caring for her deceased sister’s son.

She never failed to remind young Mark, if it hadn’t been for her generosity, he would be a vagrant, homeless waif. Still, with all the scolding and chilliness at home, he was a sweet and gentle child.

I had not noticed Mark particularly until he began staying after class each day (at the risk of arousing his aunt’s anger, I later found) to help me straighten up the room.

We did this quietly and comfortably, not speaking much, but enjoying the solitude of that hour of the day.

When we did talk, Mark spoke mostly of his mother.

Though he was quite small when she died, he remembered a kind, gentle, loving woman, who always spent much time with him.

As Christmas drew near however, Mark failed to stay after school each day.

I looked forward to his coming, and when the days passed and he continued to scamper hurriedly from the room after class,

I stopped him one afternoon and asked why he no longer helped me in the room. I told him how I missed him, and his big blue eyes lit up eagerly as he replied, “Did you really miss me?”

“Yes, of course!! – I said – and I explained how he had been my best helper ever.

“I was making you a surprise,” he whispered confidentially. “It’s for Christmas.”

With that, he became embarrassed and dashed from the room.

He didn’t stay after school any more after that.

*

Finally came the last school day before Christmas. Mark crept slowly into the room late that afternoon with his hands concealing something behind his back. “I have your present,” he said timidly when I looked up. “I hope you like it.” He held out his hands, and there lying in his small palms was a tiny wooden box.

“Its beautiful, Mark. Is there something in it?” I asked opening the top to look inside. ”

“Oh you can’t see what’s in it,” He replied, “and you can’t touch it, or taste it or feel it, but mother always said it makes you feel good all the time, warm on cold nights, and safe when you’re all alone.”

I gazed into the empty box. “What is it Mark,” I asked gently, “that will make me feel so good?” “It’s full of love and hugs,” he whispered softly, “and mother always said that Love is best when you give it away.” And he turned and quietly left the room.

I stood there with tears streaming down my cheeks – but a lovely warm glow which I hadn’t felt for a long time.

So now I keep a small box crudely made of scraps of wood in my living room and only smile as inquiring friends raise quizzical eyebrows when I explain to them that there is love in it.

*

Yes, Christmas is for joy and presents – but mostly,

Christmas is for love.

Loving others – family and friends – knowing you are loved

And loving yourself too! For you are important to God.

It’s a time for counting your blessings – and giving thanks for them.

And it’s a time for remembering that you are surrounded by love – the  love of family, friends – and by the love of a great and loving God who loves you so very much…

 

Remember that – and you really will have a

 

Happy Christmas !!

 

And that is what I wish for each one of you  – and for those you love – in the name of the King of Love – Jesus Christ.

Amen.

 

It’s a lovely story – although some may say it is sentimental slush……… but you know – the one thing that we ALL have in common – whether we acknowledge it or not –  is the need to be loved.

So whether you are with family this Christmas or on your own – you should know that you’re not alone – God is with you – he is ALWAYS with you – and He loves you so very much.                    And that is a Promise!

 

*

 

I am planning to post a or Christmas Eve or Watchnight

service tomorrow night –

And a short Christmas Day Reflection on Friday morning.

 

If you’re not to busy cooking the Christmas dinner or opening presents, why not take a wee break and  sit and listen – and I hope it helps us all to see the Real Reason for God sending His Son down the Earth.

Because of His great love for you.

 

And now let’s hear a verse or two of the Hymn

which says to  us ~

 

“Love came down at Christmas,

Love all lovely, love divine.

Love came down at Christmas

Star and Angels gave the sign…”

 

Take care and God Bless.

And please – keep safe.

OUTLOOK CHRISTMAS 2020

The OUTLOOK team of the Old Kirk prepared and delivered Christmas Gift Bags to their members today. The contents represented an ‘afternoon tea’ Christmas style, together with a handcrafted Christmas card. We wish everyone a blessed Christmas, and a happy new year in 2021.

JILL

Please enjoy our Christmas video below:

Online Sunday Service – 20th December 2020 – 4th Sunday in Advent

Online Sunday Service – 20th December 2020 – 4th Sunday in Advent

Good morning folks, I hope this finds you well as restrictions tighten up. I am sure that none of us want to be in this situation but keeping ourselves and our loved ones safe and well must be our priority. So please look after yourself and do whatever it takes to preserve your precious life and the lives of others around you.

Please find the AUDIO and Printed versions of this week’s Sunday Service below.  Take extra special care and God Bless.

Our theme for today is that of ‘Journeying’ so why not make a cup of tea or coffee, relax and listen to the service. I hope you will find some words of comfort in this difficult time.

Audio Version

Printed Version

 

Good Morning folks,  How are you? Are you managing to cope with the current restrictions?  Do you need help?  There are lots of people offering help should you need it. Please do not hesitate to reach out and ask, they will be more than happy to help and support you.

Today is the 4th Sunday in Advent – the Sunday of Peace.

Well, it’s just  a few days to Christmas and we have got lots to think about –

Our Theme for today is that of ‘Journeying’…

But first, let us Pray ~

Gracious God, we come once more, to worship you and to give you our praises – We rejoice at this time as we celebrate the birth of that wee baby – your son Jesus,  that special baby who came for our sakes – and we thank you for it.

Gracious God,

in all the hustle and bustle of Christmas,

the ceremony and tradition with which we surround it, we can lose sight, sometimes, of the joy at its heart.

We can put so much energy into having a good time, that we forget what it is we are meant to be celebrating, only, when it is over, to be left with a sense of emptiness, a feeling that it hasn’t been like Christmas at all… and we wonder why.

Forgive us Lord, as we get caught up in the celebrations and enjoyment of the season and so often miss the real reason for our celebrations………..

Hear us now as we bring you our own personal prayers, as we think of the things we may have said, done or thought which may have hurt or upset others – upset You Lord. Hear now then, our own private prayers of Confession……………a short time for personal prayer…………..

Forgive us Father – and we pray that you will bless us with your mercy and your Grace…

Lord, hear our prayer – and hear us now as we pray together – the family prayer – the Lord ’s Prayer ~

OUR FATHER.. WHO ART IN HEAVEN.. HALLOWED BE THY NAME.. THY KINGDOM COME.. THY WILL BE DONE ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN….. GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD.. AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS.. LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION.. BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL .. FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM.. THE POWER AND THE GLORY FOREVER…. AMEN.

Our reading for this morning is

Reading – Luke 2 : 1 – 20   Common English Bible

And it tells of  The Birth of Jesus.

Let us hear the Word of God

2 “In those days a decree went out from the  Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered.

This was the first registration to be taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

All went to their own family towns to be registered. Joseph went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David.

He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

The Shepherds and the Angels

In that region there were shepherds living in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord appeared before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were much afraid.

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: 11 to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, one who is the Messiah, the Lord.

12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others—the armies of heaven—praising God and saying –

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,
and on earth, peace among those whom he favours!”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger.

17 When they saw this, they shared everything that the Angels had said about this child.

18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.”

Amen.

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

SERMON

Well, it’s only 5 days to Christmas !

Are you feeling ‘Christmassy’ yet?

With the TV adverts – the Carols, Christmas songs –  and the cold, damp weather – as the Christmas song goes – “it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas” isn’t it ?

I wonder  – what is your favourite Christmas song?

“I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas” ?

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year?”

“Little Drummer Boy?”

“All I want for Christmas is you?”

There are so many.

The one which always gives me that “feel good” feeling is – “Driving home for Christmas – I can’t wait to see those faces..”

‘Coming home’ – it’s a lovely feeling.

Whether you have been out shopping on a cold and dreich  day –  away for the day – or heading back from holiday – there’s nothing quite like getting home – back to your own fire-side – back to your own bed !

I  always think that – ‘it’s good to get away – but it’s great to get home again’.

Over the next few days – many people will be travelling home for Christmas –  by various means…

All journeying – travelling home.

Journeying is a part of life – but it’s not only a part of life – it is life.

We are born – we grow – life happens – our journey goes on – then when God calls us we make that final journey  across to the other side – ‘through the veil’ from this earthly life to God’s eternal kingdom.   Life is a journey.

In our text from Luke – we heard of another journey – that little holy family – travelling from Nazareth to Bethlehem.

Mary sitting on the donkey – feeling every pothole and bump.    Joseph walking beside her – leading them towards Bethlehem, the town of his birth, to register his family in the first census – ordered by Quirinius who was the governor of Syria at that time.

It would have taken them around 7 days or so – it was 80 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem – and, for us, it would be the equivalent of walking from Glasgow up to Dundee! and – it  would have been a dangerous journey for them.

Thieves by day – wolves by night – hunger, thirst and exhaustion.

A difficult and dangerous journey for the heavily pregnant Mary – and her loyal fiancé, Joseph.

But we know that God was with them – as they travelled, as He was in that byre at the birth of his Son – as He watched over that wee holy family.

It was all part of God’s amazing plan.

The Shepherds travelled in from the fields to be the first to see the Holy baby.

The wise men travelled, following the star –  journeying, we think, from Persia – over 1,000 miles – to see the one who the ancients had foretold, bringing their enigmatic gifts to the one who was to be the Saviour of the world…

As the Carol says –

We three kings of Orient are
Bearing gifts we traverse afar,
Field and fountain, moor and mountain,
Following yonder star.

And they all  made their journey because of the birth of that wee baby boy.

So – lots of travelling – lots of journeys.

Faith too – is a journey.

Searching, looking, examining,  observing, studying, feeling and responding.

It’s about opening up, trusting and believing – and it is about ‘stepping out in faith’ – just as Mary did when she was told she was to have a baby – Gods own Son,

Just as Joseph did as he led his young, pregnant fiancé on a hazardous journey to Bethlehem.

Just as the Shepherds and the Magi “stepped out in faith.”

Just as people have ‘stepped out in faith’ over the centuries, trusting in a loving, caring, all seeing God to be with them on their journey, watching over them, keeping them safe.

The good thing about searching, looking  – is finding.

It’s something that is innate within us – to look for answers to what is our purpose, our place in the world.

Searching for answers to the age old question “what is the meaning of life…?”

Because, you see,  we have to feel our faith in our heart – not just in our head.

Maybe all we really need to know is that God loves us so much that he sent His Son to open the gates to Heaven for us – so that with our faith and  his help – we can dream to enter into his glorious kingdom –  which is accessible to us now – thanks to the coming of that wee baby boy – Jesus Christ – in to the world.

God watched over that holy family through all their dark and difficult times and tribulations – just as He watches over us –  you and I – in all we do and say – to bless us and take in to his heavenly home – at the end of our earthly journey.

Safe Home – for all time – how blessed we are!

Amen.

May God Bless to us this Preaching of His Holy word – and may all the glory and the praise be His.

LET US PRAY ~ Lord Jesus Christ, through all the busyness of this Christmas time, may we never lose sight of the real reason for the season – the birth of your Holy Child – who came to show us the way to live – and the way to eternal life.

Thank you for the Hope and the Love – the Joy and the Peace that He brings to the world and in to the life of each one of us – when we give our minds and lives and our hearts to Him.

Amen.

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

One of the things I love about Christmas – is the Cracker Jokes – and I usually share some of

my favourites with our young people about now.

So – as you are all ‘young at heart’ – here’s a couple of ‘crackers’….

Are you sitting comfortably?

OK –

What do they sing at a snowman’s birthday party?

Freeeeze a jolly good fellow

 

How does Good King Wenceslas like his pizza?


One that’s deep pan, crisp and even!

 

Who hides in the bakery at Christmas?

A mince spy!

 

Who delivers presents to baby sharks at Christmas?


Santa Jaws

 

Who is Santa’s favorite singer?

Elf-is Presley!

 

What do Santa’s little helpers learn at school?


The elf-abet!

 

AND MY LAST ONE FOR THIS YEAR –

I PROMISE ! J

 

Knock Knock!

Who’s there?    I hear you cry!

Mary

Mary who?

Mary Christmas EVERYONE!! J J

And that is what I wish for you – and for those you know and love – at this wonderful – holy time….

And now ~

Benediction

May God bless you at this Christmas

And go with you through the year,

And whenever you are troubled

May you feel His presence near;

 

May the greatness of His mercy

And the sweetness of His peace

Bring you everlasting comfort

 

And the joys that never cease.

*

And may the blessing of Almighty God

Father – Son – and Holy Spirit

Be with you all –  at this Christmas time – and forevermore.

Amen.

 

I shall post a Midweek Meditation on Wednesday as usual this week and a short Christmas Story on Christmas Morning for all the family.

 

I really do hope and pray that you have a lovely Christmas – and remember that you have been given the best gift ever – the gift of God’s own Son – our Saviour, Jesus Christ – with all His blessings and promises.

How blessed we are!

Take care and God Bless.

 Music

Have a lovely Christmas – and please, keep safe.

Midweek Meditation – Wednesday 16th December 2020

Good morning all, I hope this finds you well. Please find the AUDIO version of this week’s Midweek Meditation below if you would like to hear it. As usual, I will post a text version on my FB page for those who like to copy it and pass it on to family and friends. Take care and God bless. Iain.

Audio Version

Printed Version

16th December 2020

Christmas Stories

 

What do you most enjoy about Christmas? The Gifts? The Food? The Christmas Carols? Family gatherings? Perhaps you look forward to some ‘peace’ on your own with your feet up watching Christmas TV?

Or perhaps you just like the whole ‘Christmas Experience’ as it has been called.

 

I love the Carols and the childrens’ wee faces, full of anticipation and excitement.

And I love the Christmas stories.  When I was Ministering in the Highlands I would gather the children around, ask them to sit on the floor and I would sit with them and tell them a story. Of course, I would overdo it with the drama and they loved it.

But of all the stories I told them over the years – the one they always asked for was the ‘one about the baby Jesus.’

Perhaps it was because they heard lots of stories at home about Snowmen flying, Santa,  reindeers, Grinches doing whatever it is Grinch’s do.

The children knew that these stories weren’t true – but there was something about the ‘one about the baby Jesus’ that caught their imagination.

 

And we can see why – with Angels and Shepherds on a starry night, a tiny baby and a cruel King Herod. The wee lambs and the donkey – the three mysterious visitors who arrived on Camels  – who were they? – where did they come from?

And what were the strange presents of Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh about??

 

As one wee girl said to me “Mr Ramsden – that story, is soooo coooooooool!”

 

Well – what’s not to like!?

 

The children were excited – well, it’s an exciting time of year!

 

So, here’s a question – it’s only 8 sleeps to Christmas Eve – are you getting excited yet?

 

Or are you too caught up in the ‘grown up’ busy-ness of present buying, food planning and all the other things that can occupy our minds?

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could go back to see Christmas with the eye and the mind of a child?!

 

Of course, we can’t “go back” but we can tell our children and grandchildren the ‘greatest story ever told’ or buy them a children’s story book or bible ffor Christmas – so that they know for themselves just how much God’s loves them, that He would send down his only Son, Jesus, to help and to save each and every one of us.

 

Will you share this amazing story with someone  this Christmas?

Why not remind yourself of His great love for YOU, by reading this wonderful story for yourself?

I pray that you will – it really is an amazing account of how God came down to earth in the form of a wee baby – on that silent, holy night – just for you – and for me and for all mankind.

 

Now that really IS something for us all to think about – at this special, holy time.

 

Amen.

 

Let us pray ~ Holy, Heavenly Father – we thank you for our family and friends who love us and make life good for us. Watch over them and keep them safe.

We pray for ALL people at this Christmas time – and ask that whoever we are, wherever we may be, whatever our circumstance – that we may know the deep peace of God in our lives.  Remind us often of your great love for us – and help us to live in such a way that other will see your light shining out in a dark world.

Bless us – bless our loved one we pray – for we bring our prayers to you – in the precious name of  Jesus Christ, the Light of the world.

Amen.

 

Take care and God Bless.

 

I hope your week is going well  – and please – keep safe.

Online Sunday Service – 13th December 2020 – 3rd Sunday in Advent

SUNDAY SERVICE 13.12.20

Good morning all, please find the AUDIO version of this Weeks Sunday Service below. I hope you are safe and well. The usual print version will be available on my Facebook page if you wish to copy and pass it on, as I know some of you do.

Take care and God bless. Iain

Audio Version

Printed Version

13th December 2020

3rd Sunday in Advent

John The Baptist

 

Good morning folks – I hope you are safe and secure from the dreaded virus and all the other nasty bugs which are going around at this time of year.

 

Welcome to our Sunday Service for the 13th December 202 – the 3rd Sunday in advent.

 

And if we were in church we would be asking one of our young people to come forward and light the 3rd candle of our Advent ring –

 

– The candle of JOY  –  which reminds us of the JOY that Christ brought in to the world  – and the Joy He brings into our lives when we open our minds and our hearts to Him.

 

Today we are looking at that rather strange and enigmatic character – John the Baptist.

 

Our Readings for today are –

 

From the Prophet Isaiah 40 : 1 – 5    from the Old Testament

where we hear the words of Isaiah – predicting that the time will come when God would send someone out of the desert – the wilderness – who will point the way to the promised Saviour – then we will experience great joy and comfort for the glory of the Lord will be revealed.

 

And in our second reading – from the New Testament –

 

We hear the prophet Isaiah’s words coming true – nearly 800 years later ! when John the Baptist – emerges from the desert –in his own – and very distinctive style.

 

He warns the people that the long awaited Saviour was coming soon.

 

John called the people to straighten themselves out – the very son of God is on His way !

 

In under 2 weeks we will celebrate the coming of God’s Son in to the world – is the world – are we ready to receive Him yet?

 

Let us hear the Word of God.

 

Firstly –

Isaiah 40:3-5   New International Version

Comfort for God’s People

A voice of one calling:
“In the wilderness prepare
the way for the Lord;
make straight in the desert
a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
the rough ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

 

Mark 1 : 2 – 8     New Living Translation

just as the prophet Isaiah had written:

“Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
and he will prepare your way.
He is a voice shouting in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming!
Clear the road for him!”

This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had repented of their sins and turned to God to be forgiven.

All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John.

And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River.

His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey.

John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”     AMEN.

This is the Word of the Lord thanks be to God

 

SERMON

 

Do you ever find life boring ? – monotonous ? – dull as dishwater ?? – are you fed up with the way you look – bad hair day after bad hair day ? – are you weary of your wallpaper ??

 

Well – if you believe all that you see on television – and that’s not to be recommended – then a complete “makeover” – of both your home and yourself is what’s needed !

 

Apparently it’ll change your life forever, or so they tell us !

And you know – in a sense – that was John the Baptist’s message to the world.

“Listen to me” – he was saying – “there’s someone coming into the world – into your homes – into your lives – to give your life a makeover – who is going to make life so much better for you – better than it’s been for many years.

You see – about that time – the Jews were very aware that a prophet from God had not spoken to them for over 400 years  – God had been silent – and spirits were low.

If anybody needed a spiritual makeover – it was the Jewish people.

And so when John said to them ~

“I know that things are a bit dull and depressing at the moment – life isn’t all it could be – but pretty soon someone far greater than I is coming who is going to  change call that !!”

It seemed that God was back on speaking terms with his children.

“Halleluiah !”  – they may have said – and then looked John up and down – and added cautiously – “and you are……??..”

It’s not easy being taken seriously when you wear animal skins, eat locusts – wash it down with wild honey and look as if you have been dragged through a hedge backwards !! –

And of course – calling the local establishment a “brood of vipers” is never a good idea !! –

But for all his apparent fierceness – and his strange appearance – John the Baptist was being –  “John the Herald” –John the harbinger of good news

Telling the people that God was keeping His promise to them – that the Messiah that God had promised – the Saviour that they had been waiting for, for centuries – was finally here – coming any day now – and we’d better get ready to receive Him !

And the people seemed to be keen to hear his message – there was a thirst to find out more – and if you read the rest of that passage for yourself later – you’ll see that they crowded round John and asked – “what do we have to do to be ready for this one who is coming?”

Well, the first thing you should do” – John tells them – “is repent” – that word which means recognising your faults and wrongdoings – and apologising to God for them.

So that’s step one – John tells them –

Admit you have a problem and then you can start the process of being healed.

Any good counsellor will tell us that.

And that was the principle behind Johns message – repent” he advises – “admit that you are not perfect – admit that you need help – and there is one coming who will help you, cleanse you and renew you” – and that one is the son of God – the one they call ‘Jesus.’

That message – that warning – the advice that John gave to the people all those years ago – was just what they needed to hear.

And you know – it’s what the world still needs to hear today – over 2,000 years later….

With a rise in addictions – an increase in personal and communal problems. With counselling services busier than they have ever been.

We see that there is a great need for repentance – forgiveness – understanding – and perhaps more than anything – a need for peace – both within our communities – and within ourselves.

But peace comes at a price –

Peace is a word that’s easier said  – than grasped.

to attain it we have to clear our minds and open our hearts.

Only then can we know a deep inner peace – a joy which gives us a glow in our tummies – and a feeling that “God is in His heaven and all is right with the world.

 

John the Baptist repeats the words of Isaiah – when he talks about “making roads straight, valleys being filled in, mountains being levelled – crooked things being made straight and rough thing becoming smooth”

These are the kind of things that would have been done before a king made a journey – the same as when the Queen, is making a visit – everything is tidied up and preparations are made before she arrives.

And so – John’s message to you and to me is a simple one – “Jesus is coming – are  you ready for Him ?

I’m not just talking about the cards and presents and the food.

Have you cleared away all the rubbish and debris that clutters up your life and stands between you and God – have you sorted out all that needs to be sorted out in your life ?”

Perhaps you have – but if you haven’t – I hope that you will give it some serious thought .

 

Advent is a time of preparation – so take time – make time – think, pray, prepare – be honest with yourself – give your life a ‘makeover’ – and once you have made your peace with God – then you can sit back – relax – and enjoy that wonderful, deep hope, love, joy and peace – which is promised to all who put their trust in Him.

That is what I pray for you – and for your families this Christmas time – and beyond.

And I continue to pray for you in the precious name of Jesus Christ. God’s only Son – our only hope.

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 Lord – you are the sure foundation of our faith – the rock on which we stand. You are the great and amazing God of love who gave us life and sustains us on our daily journey.

 

We know that as we live and work and breath – we are surrounded by your love, your compassion and your care. With you in our lives we need nothing else – in you we are complete.

 

Bless those who are fearing the coming of Christmas, the poor the lonely and the bereaved.  May we show compassion and care for those less fortunate than we are, seeking out those in need, putting our good intentions into good actions.

 

You know all our failings and we pray that you will forgive us – gently guiding us in YOUR ways, blessing us with your mercy and your grace.

 

Keep us mindful us of the importance of daily prayer – something we may have got out of the way of doing. Spending a short time with you each day, relaxing in your company, sharing my troubles and my joy, knowing that you are listening, wanting the only the best for me.

*

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.

 

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

 

Here’s a true story ~ right after I left the Navy in the early 1970’s – I was a bit lost and drifted around for  couple of years trying to get used to being a civilian once more.

 

I took a job – for a while – working on the roads on Isle of Mull. Anything to pay the bills.

 

I helped with the tarring and the kerbing – I even helped with the drilling as they blasted the rock to make the road go in a  straight line, where possible. I worked on the roads from Craignure to Bunessan – and from the pier at the Fionphort ferry down to Tobermory.

It was many years ago and I still remember those days with fondness – even though it was pretty tough going.

 

I’ve been along that road a few times since – and to my surprise – it’s still there !!

And guess what?  They are still working on it!

 

You see, by the time they finish working on one part of the road, there is another part that needs to be repaired!  Even some parts they have repaired before may need to be repaired again.

It’s an ongoing process.

We heard how God sent a man named John to prepare the way for the coming of Jesus.  John told the people to make a highway in the desert for their God.

John wasn’t really talking about building a highway as we would understand it.

He was calling people to prepare their hearts to receive Jesus so that He could walk among us and live with us.

During this special season of the year when we celebrate the birth of Jesus and look forward to the day when He will come again, you and I need to make sure that we are ready.

 

We need to look into our hearts and ask God to help us make our crooked ways straight and smooth out the rough places.  Just like that road in Mull – the job is never finished.

 

Examining ourselves – straightening ourselves out – isn’t just a one off job.  It’s an ongoing process.

*

 

Just as that road needs constant care and maintenance –

……so do we – you and I……

 

PAUSE

 

Something for us all to think about !!

 

BLESSING

 

Live in Hope, Love and joy –

 

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

AMEN.

 

Take care and May God Bless you – and your loved ones.

 

Have  good week – and Please – keep safe

 

*

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

*

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 9th December 2020

Midweek Meditation – Wednesday 9th December 2020

Good morning all, hope you are managing to keep warm and well. Please find this week’s AUDIO version of the Sunday Service, if you would like to listen to it. These are Services which I put on the Kilmacolm Old Kirk’s website and have been asked to share with various others sites, which I am happy to do. I hope you find them helpful, even uplifting at times in these dark and difficult times. I will, as usual, post a Print version on my own Facebook site for those of you who have asked me to do so, so that you can copy and pass them on. These next few weeks we will be looking ahead to the lead up to the biggest event in the worlds history, the coming of God into the world as a vulnerable wee baby. I hope you can find time to join us on this journey. Take care and God bless. Iain.

Audio Version

Printed Version

Help! I’m feeling all Christmassy!

I was speaking to an old school friend the other day who I know isn’t particularly religious and is a bit of a Grinch when it comes to Christmas.

Imagine my surprise when he recently told me that he was looking forward to Christmas.

This is what he said –

“I was out in the shops today and heard the usual Christmas songs like “Santa got stuck up the chimney” and “ Jingle Bells – but on my way home I walked by a Salvation Army Band with a large crowd who were singing ‘Silent Night’ – and I just stopped in my tracks.

Within a few minutes I felt very emotional and thought that I might cry.

What was that all about!?”

*

It has been said, and I agree, that there is something deep within us all, something profound or spiritual. Something that we can’t necessarily put our finger on, but it’s there.

Many, like my friend, try to ignore or deny it, hide or  disguise it but there are times in life when we surprise ourselves by feeling it, what ever ‘it’ is.

Others accept and go with it – this profound feeling of ‘something deeper’ within us.

It might happen when we see a beautiful sunset, or hear a particularly moving piece of music or a hymn in Church. It might be the smell of Spring in the air or the sight of a new born baby.

For some it can happen when we sense the presence of God in our lives, it can be overwhelming and humbling too.

From the earliest of days, humans have had the need to ‘worship’,  from trees to rivers or wells to Saints and Gods – it’s a deep need within us, whether we recognize and  acknowledge it or not.

It’s within you (oh yes it is!) and it’s within me.    It’s in all of us.

Perhaps, over this coming Christmas, we might be able to find the time to get in touch with that deeper ‘something’ inside us.

Aye, but how?

Well, here are a few ideas which I have tried and tested and have found to work for me.

  1. Why not treat yourself to a few minutes of stillness each day. Try and clear your mind and just relax.
  2. Listen to a piece of calming music, read a poem or just sit and listen to your own breathing, in and out, in and out.
  3. Why not read the Christmas story for yourself. It was prophesied in the Old Testament, see Isaiah 9 : 6 – 7 (and elsewhere).

And then read Luke 1 : 26 to Luke 2 : 20. Take time to read each scene, think about it before moving on to the next scene. Think of the characters, for example – how would the young Mary have felt – would they make it to Bethlehem in time ? – would the baby be okay after that long journey on the back of a donkey?  Would they find somewhere safe to stay for the night?

Then go to Matthew 2 : 1 – 12 to read about the 3 enigmatic and mysterious visitors who followed that brilliant , celestial star from Persia (we think) right to the very  place that the boy child was born.

It’s a fascinating narrative. Why not take the time to read and think about what has been called ‘The greatest story ever told.’

Take a few days if you need to – and make up your own mind.

Have a ‘Chillaxed Christmas’, or if you don’t have the time over Christmas, use the few days after Christmas and so go into the New Year more in touch with ‘something deeper’ within yourself – chilled and with a deep inner peace that you haven’t known for a long time.

I pray that you will.

Psalm 29 : 11 “The Lord blesses His people with Peace.”

Something for us all to think about.

God bless, take care and please keep safe.

Online Sunday Service – 6th December 2020 – 2nd Sunday in Advent

Good morning all, hope you are managing to keep warm and well. Please find this week’s AUDIO version of the Sunday Service, if you would like to listen to it. These are Services which I put on the Kilmacolm Old Kirk’s website and have been asked to share with various others sites, which I am happy to do. I hope you find them helpful, even uplifting at times in these dark and difficult times. I will, as usual, post a Print version on my own Facebook site for those of you who have asked me to do so, so that you can copy and pass them on. These next few weeks we will be looking ahead to the lead up to the biggest event in the worlds history, the coming of God into the world as a vulnerable wee baby. I hope you can find time to join us on this journey. Take care and God bless. Iain.

Audio Version


 

Printed Version

Advent 2

The Annunciation

 

Good morning, welcome, I hope you are keeping well – and thank you for joining me in our Sunday Service on Sunday the 6th of December – the 2nd Sunday in Advent.

 

If we were in Church just now we would be lighting the 2nd candle of our Advent Ring – the Candle which reminds us of the LOVE that Christ brought in to the World – and into our lives.

 

Our Bible readings for today are both from Luke’s Gospel and they tell us of a very special visit, by very special person to a very special young lady – let’s hear/read them now ~

 

I’m reading  from Luke 1 : 26 – 38 

 

Let us listen to the Word of God.

26-27… God sent the angel Gabriel to a virgin girl who lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee. She was engaged to marry a man named Joseph from the family of David. Her name was Mary.

28 The angel came to her and said, “Greetings! The Lord is with you; you are very special to him.”

29 But Mary was very confused about what the angel said. She wondered, “What does this mean?”

30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, because God is very pleased with you. 31 Listen! You will become pregnant and have a baby boy. You will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great. People will call him the Son of the Most High God,

and the Lord God will make him king like his ancestor David. 33 He will rule over the people of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”

34 Mary said to the angel, “But how will this happen? I am still a virgin.”

35 The angel said to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come to you, and the power of the Most High God will cover you. The baby will be holy and will be called the Son of God. 36 And here’s something else: Your relative Elizabeth is pregnant. Even although she is old, she is going to have a son. Everyone thought she could not have a baby because of her age, but she has been pregnant now for six months. 37 God can do anything!”

38 Mary said, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let this thing you have said happen to me!”

Then the angel went away.”

And our second reading is also taken from  Luke’s Gospel.

Luke 1 : 46 – 55 – and is entitled – Mary’s Song

 

And is the inspiration for that lovely Hymn – “Tell out my Souls, the greatness of the Lord…”

 

46 And Mary said:

‘My soul glorifies the Lord
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49     for the Mighty One has done great things for me –
holy is his name.”

Amen.

 

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

SERMON

For those of you who read or listened to my Midweek Meditation on Wednesday – you will remember that I asked you if you believed in ‘Miracles.’

 

Well, today I’m going to ask you if you believe in ANGELS.

 

Not everyone does – despite that they are mentioned in the Bible…
From the earliest of times through to the choirs of angels which sang of the birth of Jesus – and beyond – scripture  acknowledges angels as being God’s messengers … Indeed the very word “angel” comes from the Greek word  -‘angelos’ – meaning an envoy, ‘go between’ or ‘messenger’…

 

but angels haven’t always been welcome.

Very often angels brought bad news, news of dire punishments in store for God’s people because of their  wicked and evil ways.
And so it’s no great surprise that the appearance of angels were not always welcome !!
I wonder, then, what the young Mary felt when the angel appeared to her ?

Especially when she heard the news that not only would she bear a child, but that that child would be the Messiah, the Holy one – Saviour of the World !!??

 

Scary stuff !! And it’s no wonder that, at first, Mary was terrified, not only with the appearance of the angel – but with the news !

 

For it isn’t so very long ago, even in this country that to bear a child out of wedlock was considered the most appalling disgrace that could fall upon a family.
And then there was Joseph, the man who had been chosen by her parents as a suitable husband for Mary.

it would have been perfectly natural for him to be shocked at the news – his fiance was to have a baby – and he knew that he wasn’t the father !!

 

a bit of a shock  for any young man !
He would have been quite within his rights – as the law allowed in such circumstances – to demand that she be stoned to death.

 

But doesn’t that just show the measure of Joseph’s compassion and kindness that he didn’t cause a scene or stir up a scandal ?

 

He initially thought of dissolving the intended marriage and quietly slipping out of the picture – and who would have blamed him ? – but God sent an angel who explained all that had happened – and Joseph changed his mind and stayed – and remained loyal to Mary.
But what of Mary, this young teenage girl, whose dreams of a happy marriage and a secure home must surely have been shattered by the angel’s astonishing news?

 

Not only was she to be disgraced before the whole community, but she was told she had the responsibility of raising God’ Son!

It’s tempting to think that once she said yes to the angel, everything would be all right. But that’s wasn’t the case.

 

Even then – and in those circumstances – the gossip mongers had a field day !! And there was a well-known scurrilous rumour circulating for many years after his death, that Jesus’ real father was actually a Roman officer.

Well you know what they say about gossips – what they don’t know – they make up!

 

Yet after a very brief and half-hearted protest, Mary not only accepted the angel’s declaration (as we heard in our first reading) but burst into a song of praise for God (as we heard in our second reading).

Yes, God chose well when He selected Mary and Joseph as parents to raise the Messiah, the Christ, the “Annointed One.”

 

In economic and financial terms they were poor, but when you have those sorts of gifts –  money and wealth seem pretty unimportant in comparison.
And that’s the kind of wealth we should be striving for at Christmas and beyond – gifts of love, compassion, care and God’s blessings – those things which give a warm glow –

things which cannot be bought at any price…
but God’s ways are not our ways, and God’s thoughts are not our thoughts.

God sometimes makes demands or suggestions which we might feel are impossible for us.

But things which are impossible for humans are not impossible for God, so it’s important for us to learn, to consider and pray about difficult and thorny issues which come your way , because they may be God speaking to you.

As Mary found out – taking on board God’s “impossible” suggestions doesn’t lead to an easy ride, far from it.

On the contrary, those who share and act upon God’s suggestions often find that, like Mary, their life plunges into troubles and difficulties and turmoil.

But like Mary, there’s another side to all of that just as every dark night has a bright dawning.

 

The other side is a heart full of love and praise and joy and delight, which puts all the difficulties and troubles in the world – into the shade.
Once Mary had come to terms with the announcement from the angel – once she had questioned and considered the seemingly impossible instruction from God – then she settled down and accepted it, saying  –

“ I am the Lord’s servant – may it be to me – as you have said !”

 

What strength – what acceptance – what  faith !!

 

It shows that once we come to terms with whatever it is that God sends our way – then we too can know that  wonderful inner peace which Paul the Apostle called  “the peace of God which passes all our understanding.”

 

It isn’t easy to praise God in difficult times – when  bad news strikes – but let’s take heart from that mother – Mary – and put our trust and our faith in God – placing ourselves in His gracious hands…. And echo her words  – “I am God’s servant – in Him shall my heart rejoice..”

 

Then you will truly know that deep love and peace of God – and all because of that wee baby boy – Son of God – son of Mary – born in Bethlehem – in a far away place – long, long ago……

Amen.

 

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

 

Let us Pray ~

 

Heavenly Father – as we look ahead to the coming of Christmas with all it’s “joy to the world” and “peace and goodwill to all mankind” – we are reminded of the joy, peace,  love and hope that the coming of the Christ-child brought with in to the world with Him.

Remind us that there will be many who will be sad and lonely at this time – we ask that you bless them with comfort and peace – and give us a mind to see where help and support is needed and put our good wishes in to practice.

 

Forgive us for the times we put ourselves before others, often forgetting that you call us to be your servants in a dark and difficult world.

Forgive us too for not always living your way. We do try to live as good examples of your children but so often get waylaid, distracted on life’s road – draw us back to you and your way, we pray.

Bless us Father – bless our families and those who are close to us – and be with us now, wherever we may be – as we sit for a few silent moments – each with our own thought, each with our own prayer :

Be with us – in the peace of our silence…………

 

Be with them all dear Lord – for we bring them before you in the name of the one who was born a pauper in a byre – yet became the King of Kings – our Lord and Saviour – Jesus Christ.

Amen.

 

Thought for the Week

 

As I sad earlier – our second candle on this second Sunday in Advent – and is the candle of LOVE.

 

Love comes in many forms –

Here’s a wee story ~

 

 

One day at work, Jenny received a beautiful bouquet of flowers.

In it, she counted 11 flowers and found a short note in it. It was written in beautiful lettering and said:

“My love for you will last until the day the last flower in this bouquet dies.”

 

The note was from her husband who had gone on a business trip.

Unsure as to what to make of the message, she went home in the evening and soaked the flowers with water.

 

One day after another, the flowers became a little less beautiful until they all died. All but one flower.

 

It was then that she realized that there was one artificial flower in the bouquet – that would last forever.

 

God showed His love for us by sending His Son down to us – and that love is still as strong today as it was then –

His love lasts forever too – you can be absolutely sure of that…

 

Food for thought for all of us…

 

Amen.

 

BLESSING

 

Let us go in love –

 

And may the love of Jesus go before you –

the Lord almighty watch over you –

and the Holy Spirit go with you – guiding and protecting 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, friends, those you know and love and ought to love  – this day – and every day.

 

AMEN

 

Take care and May God Bless you

And your loved ones.

Have  good week – and Please – 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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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

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Midweek Meditation – Wednesday 2nd December 2020

Midweek Meditation

2nd December 2020

Good morning folks, how are you this morning? I hope this finds you well and virus free. Here is this week’s Midweek Meditation, perhaps you will take a few minutes to relax, listen and think about today”s message. We live in a busy world and taking time to “stop and smell the roses” is something that we may not often do. I will, as usual, post a print version on my own Facebook page should you wish to copy and print out for others to see. Take care and God bless. Iain

Audio Version

The view video click on the word Facebook below

Printed Version

Miracles

Here’s a question for you – do you believe in miracles?

Many of us would instinctively say “Well, I’ve never seen a miracle!” but Miracles are all around us, happening all the time – if we have the eyes to see them –  some are great and others are small.

To see them means that we must alter the way we see. By that I mean that we see them, not just with our eyes but with our minds. “How does that work?” you might say – well think of it this way.

From the moment you get up in the morning until you slip between the cosy sheets at night – your life is focused on you and what needs to be done. You get up, get dressed, go to work or get on with house work or whatever you have planned etc etc. You get home, make dinner, watch a bit of TV and then off to bed.  Or perhaps a similar variation on that. It is no wonder that we don’t see miracles!

But, if just for a few minutes each day, switch off, take the time to stop, look around with a different eye. See the miracle in the child that walks by with it’s parent. See the miracle of the clouds that are above your head – look at them, see their shape, see the miracle that they are for we need them to make crops grow to provide us with food.

Se the beauty in the trees and the see the branches swish in the wind. Think of a loved one and be thankful for the  love that you once shared – or still enjoy each day. A friend, a pet, a bird singing or a beautiful sunset – so many wonderful, beautiful things that surround us each day. They are there for us to enjoy, but how often do we take the time to appreciate and give thanks for them?

We hurry by so many beautiful things, without giving them a thought.

Next Sunday we will hear about and Angel who appeared to a young girl called Mary in what is called The Annunciation – the ‘announcing’.

Is it just another story to us? Or do we see the beauty and the miracles of God’s messenger coming down to earth and announcing to Mary that sg=he is have to have a child, no ordinary child but a Holy child who was to change the world?  That’s a wonderful miracle if ever there was! The Miracle of Christmas!

Do we miss so much beauty because were are too busy as we rush through life?

Let me encourage you to deliberately and consciously set aside a few minutes each day – use your imagine (in your minds’ eye) so purposely look for the beauty which surrounds you and be thankful to our Creating God for all His mercies and His miracles.

Will you take time – make time each day?

I hope and pray that you will – and so know God’s goodness to you –each and every day.

Amen.

 

Let us Pray ~ Living God, I thank you for the beauty which surrounds me, even in the everyday things which I take for granted. Give me open eyes, an open heart and an open mind to stop for a few moments and look around with a different eye – looking for the good in all things and so see your hand at work in things all around me.

Thank you Lord, thank you for all my Blessings. Amen.

 

Old Testament

 

Job 5 : 9

“He performed wonders that cannot be fathomed – miracles that cannot be counted”

 

Psalm 105 : 2

“Sing to Him, sing praises to Him. Tell about all His miracles.”

 

New Testament

 

Matthew 7 : 22

“Lord did we not prophesy in your name and drive out demons and perform many miracles?

 

Mark 6 : 2

“…..What is this wisdom that has been given to Him that He even does miracles…?”

 

Luke 19 : 37

“When He came near the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen”

These are the words of the Lord – thanks be to God.

 

As unbelievable as it is –  it is only 22 days to Christmas Eve!!

That silent, Holy night when the greatest Miracle since time began – and before – occurred.

Are you excited yet?

Will it be just another day – or will you see beneath all the festive frenzy – and appreciate the beauty and the Love of the miracle which came down to earth from heaven – in the form a wee baby boy?

 

I hope and pray that you will.

Amen.

 

Something for us to think about.

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Take care and God Bless.

 

I hope you are having a good week – and please….

keep safe…