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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Welcome and let us worship God
Hymn 124 Praise to the Lord the Almighty
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
|Sport||Took part At school||Took part Later in life||Watch now||Prizes/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?
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
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
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
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
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