Sunday Worship, 14 February 2021


God forbid that I should boast of anything

but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,

through which the world is crucified to me and I to the world!

Galatians 6: 14

Watch the service on YouTube (links to hymns are below):

Links to this week’s hymns:

Hymn 5 O Lord our Lord


Lord, you are the bringer of life

At your word, all that is came into existence

 from you came the mystery of life

 by your will and care

 all things continue, and life renews and changes

Your word took flesh and came among us

 showed us what you are like

 showed us how you want us to live

 and by his death and rising again

 he defeated death and brought new life

By the gift of your Spirit

 you have shared his new life with us

By the gift of your Spirit you are constantly working

 to renew and bring new life

 to your hurting world

We come to you now in worship

 with many thoughts, worries, joys, hopes and fears

 we come bringing thanks and praise

 we come asking for healing

 we come asking for forgiveness

 we come needing comforted

 we come needing challenged

 we come to find new life

Speak to us, touch us, feed us, fill us

 and send us out to serve you

Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen

All age time

Special days are a bit like buses or bananas – they come together in bunches

  • Today is St Valentine’s Day, and people will be sending cards or presents to their other half, a friend (or friends?), or someone they ‘fancy’. (I remember one primary School head teacher strongly advising the school in an assembly that Primary age children do not ‘fancy’ each other)
  • Tuesday is Shrove Tuesday – Pancake Day. In some parts of the world people traditionally hold carnivals then, but presumably won’t this year, unless they do it online. The pancake is supposed to be a way of using up eggs and dairy products before the Lenten fast begins – but who needs an excuse to have a pancake?
  • Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It is the time when we remember Jesus in the Wilderness, struggling to resist temptations, and also his journey to Jerusalem that led to Good Friday. It is traditionally a time for his followers to think about brushing up on their faith, and making a special effort to offer practical help to others. Charities like Christian Aid and Tearfund have special resources to use through Lent, and as mentioned earlier, we have extra things planned for Lent

Reading        Mark 9: 2-9

Hymn 356 Meekness and majesty


Something very strange happened up a mountain in the Northern part of the Holy Land. Peter, James and John were there along with Jesus. James and John (perhaps unusually for them) were struck dumb, while Peter (true to form) blurted out remarks that really needn’t have been said. It reflects how different people respond in times of stress, crisis or trauma: some go quiet and don’t say anything, others have to talk or scream, even if the things they say aren’t appropriate for the occasion. Neither is right nor wrong, it’s just how different people respond in such situations.

In the Old Testament Book  of Ecclesiastes, an older man, reflecting on life, its queries and contradictions, includes the line:

[there is] a time for talking, and a time for silence.

Let’s reflect today on that ‘time for silence’:

  • There is much concern at the moment about the impact of the pandemic, and restrictions put in place to curb its spread, on mental health. Many people are isolated, lonely, not conversing with others. They have no one to speak to face-to-face, on the phone, or through electronic means such as Zoom or Facetime. What will be the long-term effects of this enforced silence?
  • It used to be said that one contrast between London and areas like the West of Scotland was the general attitude to encountering strangers in the street or on public transport. In London people usually don’t make eye-contact with each other going down the street, and it is simply not appropriate to try to start a conversation with someone on the bus or Tube. Compare that with somewhere like Glasgow where, by the time you get off the bus, you are well on the way to discovering that the ‘wee wummin’ next to you is related somehow. Or maybe it was like that. How often nowadays do we get on public transport, or encounter someone coming down the road (maybe even walking the dog or pushing a buggy) and heads are all down focussed on the phone?
  • As a teenager, the members of the church youth fellowship to which I belonged used to dissect and devour every Simon and Garfunkel track that came out – usually trying to work out how to incorporate it into the next evening service we were leading. One of them was ‘Sounds of Silence’ – supposedly a dream reflecting on the isolation of a big city, where there is a lot of noise, but no one is listening to anyone else, no one is engaged in meaningful conversation.
  • Sometimes silence is awkward. A girl in my class at university had the knack of closing down every attempt at conversation from anyone in the class with a single word or short answer, and she never tried to initiate a conversation. Others may have come across someone with the same skill. Sometimes we may have gone to see someone at home or in hospital that we know, but not terribly well, and we have to try to keep the conversation going – and eventually (which might be after a fairly short time) we feel we have run out of things to say and make our excuses for going, because the silence is uncomfortable.
  • Having said that, some silences are OK. There are times when we might be listening to bird-song, or watching an impressive sunset, and conversation would detract from a wonderful scene. Sometimes families, or friends of long-standing, can sit happily in silence – maybe reading, maybe focussed on a hobby – and there is no awkwardness or embarrassment. If someone is seriously ill they may not want someone at their bedside rabbiting on, they just want the reassurance that someone is there, and that they are not causing any offence if they drift off into sleep.

There is a time for talking, and a time for silence. There is indeed a time for speaking out: a time to speak with people who are lonely, grieving or in need; there is a time to speak out about our faith; there is a time to speak out against oppression and injustice, and for the poor and vulnerable.

There is a time for silence too: a time to listen actively to someone else, focussing on what they have to say; a time when talking is not appropriate in a particular situation; a time when we appreciate the wonder of the world around through keeping quiet. There is also a time for recognising that silence is not appropriate and needs to be addressed: when people are lonely and have no one to speak to; when people are speaking, but speaking past each other, and not engaging in meaningful conversation; when people have lost (or maybe never had) the skill to communicate.

Our God speaks to us. Our God listens to us. Sometimes it is in silence that we make time to be aware of his presence. He is our example, our inspiration and our guide in knowing when is the time to speak, and when is the time to be silent.

Prayer for others and Lord’s Prayer

Heavenly Father

We pray for all who are struggling with loneliness

 depression, isolation

During this time of pandemic

 some are missing the contact

 with family and friends they used to have

 some never really had that contact and were always lonely

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

 the worldwide church

 the wider church in Dumbarton

 our own congregation

help us always to be faithful to Jesus our Lord

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 519 Love divine (Blaenwern)


Be bold to share the life of Christ and show his love

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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