Sunday Worship, 4 October 2020

CCL 125049              Charity No SC002937



Hymn             124 Praise to the Lord the Almighty Tune Lobe den Herren  (Church Hymnary 4th Edition)

All age time


Reading         Philippians 3: 4b-14 (Good News Bible)

Hymn             15 The Lord’s my Shepherd Tune Orlington (Church Hymnary 4th Edition)


Prayer for others

Hymn              160 Praise my soul the King of Heaven Tune Praise my soul  (Church Hymnary 4th Edition)


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This week our live feed will be followed by Communion – click here


Welcome and let us worship God

‘How good and pleasant it is to live together in unity!’

Psalm 133: 1

Hymn 124 Praise to the Lord the Almighty

click play to hear the music

All age time (for ages 0-100)

  • Today’s Bible story In today’s Bible story one of Jesus’ followers, Paul, is writing to the Christians in a small town in NE Greece
  • Something to do:

Think about your answers to the following questions

SportTook part At schoolTook part Later in lifeWatch nowPrizes/cups?

Which sports/ forms of activity do you do now?

  • Something to think about

Are you someone who is ‘driven’ to want to win, to get the cup or medal?

Do you enjoy the ‘team’ aspect of sport, or are you a ‘solo’ person?

Do you manage to take exercise – daily, weekly, occasionally?

Opening Prayer

Loving God

We turn to you for guidance

through life and its many challenges

its many questions and dilemmas

We know that you are constant, faithful and true

you know and understand all things

your love knows no bounds

you are constantly seeking wholeness

 and fullness of life for everyone

You gave us guidance in the Bible

in Jesus you showed us how we should live

you told us how we should live

through your Spirit –

 the Spirit that was in Jesus –

you help us to live by his teaching and example

you help us to know what is right and what is wrong

what we should do and what we should not do

what we should say and what we should not say

what we should say and what we should not say

you guide our decisions

you guide us through times of difficulty or uncertainty

Forgive us for the times we do not listen to your voice

do not follow Jesus’ teaching and example

we shut out the Spirit’s guiding

Help us always to be open to you

and your leading us in the way we should go

Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen

Bible reading          

Philippians 3: 4b-14

If anyone thinks he can trust in external ceremonies, I have even more reason to feel that way. I was circumcised when I was a week old. I am an Israelite by birth, of the tribe of Benjamin, a pure-blooded Hebrew. As far as keeping the Jewish Law is concerned, I was a Pharisee, and I was so zealous that I persecuted the church. As far as a person can be righteous by obeying the commands of the Law, I was without fault. But all those things that I might count as profit I now reckon as loss for Christ’s sake. Not only those things; I reckon everything as complete loss for the sake of what is so much more valuable, the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have thrown everything away; I consider it all as mere refuse, so that I may gain Christ and be completely united with him. I no longer have a righteousness of my own, the kind that is gained by obeying the Law. I now have the righteousness that is given through faith in Christ, the righteousness that comes from God and is based on faith. All I want is to know Christ and to experience the power of his resurrection, to share his sufferings and become like him in his death, in the hope that I myself will be raised from death to life.

I do not claim that I have already succeeded or have already become perfect. I keep striving to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself. Of course, brothers and sisters, I really do not think that I have already won it; the one thing I do, however, is to forget what is behind me and do my best to reach what is ahead. So I run straight towards the goal in order to win the prize, which is God’s call through Jesus Christ to the life above.

Hymn 15 The Lord’s my Shepherd

click play to hear the music


Without asking anyone to put up hands or shout out an answer, how many of you are or were keen sportsmen or sportswomen? Some people play sport just for the fun of it – who cares if it take 250 shots to get round the golf course or the bowls go nowhere near the jack, it’s all about exercise, fresh air and camaraderie. Others go out to win, woe betide anyone who tries to stop them, and woe betide anyone who encounters them just after they lose.

Paul was born in Tarsus, a city in what is now SE Turkey that had links with Greek culture, where sport (running, athletics, gymnastics, wrestling etc) was a very important part of life. Paul himself was Jewish, and tells that in his younger days he was very proud of his Jewish heritage. Sport was not part of Jewish culture, and many Jews were appalled by the stripping off of clothes to participate in it. It is quite probable therefore that Paul did not participate in sport when he was young, or if he did, that he later felt regret and guilt for doing so – though one could imagine that if he were a sportsman, he would have been in the category who play to win, not for fun.

He moved to the Holy Land and Greater Syria for a long time, before his ministry took him back to the lands around the NE Mediterranean and the Aegean. There, particularly during his lengthy stay in Corinth, he would have had regular encounters with Greek-style sports. Corinth was very close to the venue for the popular Isthmian Games, that attracted thousands of spectators. Paul worked as a tent-maker, and many would have camped in tents – maybe even ones made by Paul.

Whatever his personal view of sport, Paul recognised that it was an important part of life for many people with whom he hoped to share the Gospel, and draw into the church. In a number of places in his letters we find sporting analogies (always useful for ministers when there are Olympic or Commonwealth Games happening). In his ministry in Galilee and Judaea Jesus used everyday analogies and images to get his point across but he could presume that his audience shared in a common understanding of the Jewish story. It was different for Paul dealing with folk in the Greek-culture world of the Mediterranean and Aegean: they had no awareness of the Jewish story. So Paul had to be able to express the Gospel in terms that they would understand – images, analogies, language.

Many of us grew up in a world a bit like that experienced by the early church in the Holy Land: people round about were used to hearing about God and Jesus, they knew Bible stories, they may well have been to Sunday School, Boy’s Brigade, Granny went to church. Now the world around is more like that experienced by Paul around the Aegean and Mediterranean. We are a minority. People round about do not have experience of going to Sunday School etc, don’t really understand what we mean when we talk about God, know little about Jesus (or have very muddled notions), share different values from the ones Jesus wants to see his followers and the whole world adopt.

It’s different, but it’s not a disaster. It’s a challenge. We have to learn, like Paul, to see new ways of engaging with people round about. Our traditional language, terms and images can become jargon that is meaningless to people outside. We have to find new ways of telling the old story so that they can understand it. We have to work at living out the values of Jesus, we have to work for change and renewal in our communities. It may mean a very different kind of church emerges – and maybe our response to this pandemic gives us an opportunity to effect more radical change.

We spent a lot of time over the past couple of years, in conference sessions, in small groups, as elders, as the whole congregation, trying to picture what we needed to do as the church to reach out to the wider community. The needs are still there – and in many cases have increased in magnitude in recent months – but we cannot implement the new projects at the minute because of Coronavirus restrictions. There may be other things that we can do, there may be some things that we will have to re-imagine. Who would have thought in early March that we would have services online and have video-conferencing meetings. We are having to adapt to the very different world of the 2020s and beyond. As Paul advised his friends in Philippi, God’s message to us is: don’t be distracted, don’t keep looking around to enjoy the scenery or see how other folk are doing – keep focussed on the finishing line, go for it, and God’s Spirit will be with you

Prayers for others

Heavenly Father

Some of us like sport, some don’t

Some of us take part in it, some can’t

Some of us are ‘good sports’, some are poor losers

Where we can, help us to take exercise

 for our physical and mental well-being

Where applicable help us to be good team players

 and to accept graciously when others win

We pray for all who make their livelihood from sport

 for worries about keeping fit and building up skills

 for worries about financial viability in the future

Sports players are often role models for younger people

Help them to be aware of the responsibilities that go with that

 and become positive role models

We pray for all who are ill,

 those who look after them

 and those who worry about them

those waiting for or receiving treatment

 and those for whom there is no treatment

those who are lonely, feeling down, or grieving a friend or loved one

those who are worried about home, work or money

 a friend or a relative

those who are living with the after-effects of natural disasters

those who do not have enough to eat, or somewhere to call home

those who long to live in peace and safety

those who have fled from their homes seeking safety

We pray for the Queen, the Government

 all in positions of leadership in this and every land

We pray for your church

 our own congregation

 the wider church in Dumbarton

 the world-wide church

We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us

And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us

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.

And lead us not into temptation;

 but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

 the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen

Hymn 160 Praise my soul the King of Heaven

click play to hear the music


God the Father sends you out

 to be his witnesses wherever you go

 to work to bring healing and wholeness in all you do

and the blessing of God Almighty

 Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

 rest and remain with you,

 today, and every day, and for ever. Amen

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