Sunday Worship, 24 January 2021


The time has arrived; the kingdom of God is upon you. Repent and believe the gospel

Mark 1: 15

Watch this week’s service here:

Links to this week’s Hymns – scroll below or follow these links:

Hymn 157 Sing of the Lord’s goodness


Loving God

You promised us that you are always with us

 that you will never abandon us

 that you care about us

 that you are always working for our good

 that you will equip us for whatever task you want us to do

We praise you and thank you for your care and concern for us

 but we confess that we don’t treat you as we should

 we take you for granted

 we turn from your ways, from the teaching and example of Jesus

 we don’t love others as we should

Forgive us

Help us to be the people you want us to be

Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen

All age time

In recent weeks there has been a lot of discussion about fish in the news

  • as part of the Brexit treaty with the EU
  • and the challenges encountered by exporters sending fish to the EU

Fishing has always been a difficult job: there are there dangers of putting to sea in all weathers, even with modern navigational aids; and there is no guarantee that they will have a good catch, or be able to sell it. For a number of reasons many fishermen left the industry to try to find easier, more reliable ways of making money.

The fishermen that Jesus called to be his followers fished a large lake that is about two and a half times the size of Loch Lomond. We hear in the Gospels that sometimes they fished all night without catching any fish, and sometimes fierce storms could arise that threatened their little boats.

Jesus called them to a new job, but they probably wouldn’t have called it either easier or providing a more stable income. In fact there was no income, just charity offering food and accommodation, and it involved a lot of walking, some danger and the occasional trip to prison. But they were so impressed by Jesus that they said ‘Yes’ when he called them to follow him, Are we as ready as they were?

Reading        Mark 1: 14-20

Hymn 522 The church is wherever


There is an old adage that if you want a job done properly you should do it yourself. Maybe we can think of occasions when we have had that experience: we spent time explaining what had to be done, going over it again and again to check understanding, answering questions several times, and then we find that the job isn’t done properly, so we have to find a diplomatic way of getting the person to put it right without stepping on toes/ putting noses out of joint or whatever metaphor you prefer to us. And you know that if you had done it yourself it would have taken a fraction of the time.

If we did everything ourselves, and neither shared the tasks, nor trained someone else to do them, it would not be good either for the Task (be that work-related, something at home, something in our social lives) or for us. If you alone know what to do, nothing can happen when you are not available. It is one thing for a colleague to say, ‘I’m sorry but the person who can answer your question is in a meeting at the moment, I’ll get them to phone you when they are free.’ It’s another to say, ‘I’m afraid they’re away on a 3-month world cruise, and they don’t seem to have a mobile signal.’

If everything depends upon one person, then the job will not be done quickly. It isn’t good for our mental or physical health if we are the only ones who can do something. We can become tired, we can become stressed. ‘You’ll need to get this done, they keep chasing me.’ ‘I know that’s an urgent job, but so is this one.’ ‘I know it’s meant to be your day off, but could you just..’ I remember a long time ago when I worked in the bank, one of my colleagues was rushed into hospital to have his appendix out, or some similarly urgent, fairly major procedure. He was the only one who knew something to do with the computer system – code or whatever – so the boss phoned him up in hospital, in his sick-bed, to ask for the information.

A couple of weeks ago we were thinking about the opening of Mark’s Gospel and the break-neck speed with which it describes God rolling out his plan for the world. Jesus was the person who would bring radical change to the world, Jesus alone could carry out the special task of dying and rising again to usher in the new era of hope and change. But Jesus alone could not heal every sick person. Jesus alone could not share the Good News with everyone. Jesus alone could not demonstrate to the whole earth how the values of the Kingdom were to be lived out in everyday life. Jesus alone could not speak up for justice and truth everywhere. It would be hard enough now, with our modern technology and communications. It was impossible two thousand years ago.

Jesus needed help, and so he called the disciples to form a team with him. They didn’t have experience of preaching or teaching. They had no theological training, probably no experience of public speaking beyond shouting, ‘Fresh fish here!’ but Jesus saw in them gifts, skills and experience that could be used. They would need some training, and he would arrange that. Largely practical, on-the-job training. There were times when he must have despaired at their lack of vision and understanding, their obtuseness, their tendency to get into arguments about minor details.. Nevertheless he persevered with them as his team, always working with them to achieve the potential he could see in them.

He has maybe felt much the same about his team over the last 2000 years. That includes us. Sometimes we can be good at spotting and pointing out other peoples’ shortcomings. It can be harder admitting to our own – sometimes we know that we have them, but we aren’t sure what sort of reaction we will get if we admit that we haven’t done something/ can’t do something. We start by knowing that Jesus is fully aware of what we have and haven’t done, what we can and can’t do. He is the kind of team leader who begins by acknowledging what we have done, and done well; he will help us to learn from our mistakes, to acknowledge our capabilities and limitations; he will never simply dismiss us, but will always support and help us to achieve what he sees as our potential; and he will help us to integrate into his team.

Prayer for others and Lord’s Prayer

As we come to our prayers for others, it is with sadness that I report the death last week of Iain Lowson, member and retired elder at West Kirk. His funeral was yesterday. We give thanks to God for Iain’s service to him in his church, and our thoughts and prayers are with June and all the family.

Heavenly Father

We pray for all fishermen, here and around the world

Keep them safe

Help them to conserve the harvest of the sea for future generations

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 you church

 especially in this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

 the worldwide church

 the wider church in Dumbarton

 our own congregation

help us always to be faithful to Jesus our Lord

We thanks for the life of Iain Lowson, and for his service to you in your church, and we ask that you will be close to June and all the family at this time.

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

Hymn 352 O for a thousand tongues 


May the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ

shine in your hearts,

transform your lives,

and brighten the world

and the blessing of God Almighty

Father, Son and Holy Spirit

rest and remain with you

today and every day and forever. Amen

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