Sunday Worship, 21 February 2021

Watch this week’s service here:

Click on the links below to this week’s Hymns, or scroll further down to view here:

Hymn 137

Hymn 251  

Hymn 194

Notices – Sunday 21 February 2021

  • Coffee and chat 11.15-12.15 on Sundays (Zoom)
  • Craft and chat 2-3pm on Mondays (Zoom)
  • Lent studies Thursdays 25 February – 25 March on Zoom 10.30am or 7.30pm
  • Lent Lunches’ Thursdays 25 February – 25 March on Zoom
    Bring your own lunch, chat with others and short devotions


God keeps his faith and will not let you be tested beyond your powers

1 Corinthians 10: 13

Hymn 137 All things bright and beautiful



Following Jesus isn’t easy

The example he gave us of how our lives should be lived

 the teaching he gave us on the values and standards we should adopt

 the challenge he gave us to be an example to the world around

involve what seem like impossible things

  • putting you at the centre of our lives
  • loving others, including some who aren’t very loveable
  • giving up time and effort we’d rather spend on ourselves

to do things we might not enjoy, and for which we get precious little thanks

  • being ready to forgive when we feel like lashing out
  • being ready to give again and again
  • being ready to get out of our depths, doing things

we’ve never done before, and for which we don’t feel capable

Your love for us is undeserved and unconditional

 you forgive us, you call us to be your children

 you gave your Son, Jesus to suffer and die for us

 through your Spirit, you give us all that we need to do your will

Forgive our weaknesses

Forgive our lack of faith

Forgive our preference for the easy road

Help us to go faithfully after Jesus our Lord

 walking in his way

 doing your will

 and by the power of your Spirit being the people you want us to be

Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen

All age time

Were it not for the pandemic, today we would have been marking Guide Thinking Day in church. We would have had a joint service, and much of it would have been planned and led by members of Guides, Brownies and Rainbows. Promises would have been renewed, and we would have heard something about what they have been doing. Hopefully next year we will be able to celebrate with members of the Guiding community again.

Nevertheless we can still today express our thanks and appreciation as the church community for the incredible amount of work that the leaders have been doing over the past year. There have been Zoom meetings, virtual sleepovers (which the leaders say are great, because when they say ‘right, time for bed now girls’, they simply press the Exit button, and getting them to sleep is the parent or guardian’s problem, not theirs. They have had to cope with Church of Scotland, Girlguiding and government regulations (with sometimes confusion created by different rules in England and Scotland)  and with West Dunbartonshire changing its Tier-ing.

So thanks to all leaders in all our Guiding units – 1st, 2nd, 7th and 8th – and good wishes to all our guides, brownies and rainbows, as you have fun, and try to keep you promises.

Let’s pray

Loving God

Thank you for all the members of the Guide, Brownie and Rainbow units associated with our church family. May they continue to have fun, enjoy what they are doing, and learn both skills and about life.

Thank you too for the leaders and all the work they have been doing. May they feel fully supported in what they do

Help all members of the Guiding family to keep their promises

In Jesus’ name Amen

Reading        Mark 1: 9-15

Hymn 251 – I the Lord of sea and sky


According to the Book of Exodus, when Moses’ brother Aaron was ordained as High Priest for the Israelites he wore a linen shirt and shorts, a long blue woollen robe, a turban, and various other bits of fancy clothing and precious ornamentation. He was anointed with olive oil, and the ceremonies went on over a week. It all seems dignified and fitting for such an important post – though I must admit, I wouldn’t fancy having olive oil dripping down my beard (too much like Auntie’s cooking gone wrong again!)

What happened when I was ordained as Messiah? I had to wade into the Jordan and plunge right under the water. It might be much warmer down by the River Jordan than up in the hills around Nazareth, but the water is still cold, and there is still a coolish breeze about. Wearing a wet robe is bad enough – but wandering around in wet underwear…

I suppose it’s all part of identifying with humanity: if other people have to do it, then I have to do  it too. But it really is uncomfortable. Mind you, given what has still to come, why am I worried about the discomfort of wet clothes?

John the Baptist says that baptism is a sign of people turning back to God and away from life-styles that are not pleasing to God. Just as the waters of the river wash away the dust and dirt on their clothes, their skin and their hair, so it is a sign that their sins, their past, the things that separated them from God are washed away, and they are making a new start in life. Some people chatting along the banks of the river have been reminded of other stories from the Hebrew Scriptures:

  • not far from here the Israelites under Joshua passed through the River Jordan and entered the Promised Land
  • in a similar sort of way the tribes under Moses had passed through the Red Sea from slavery to freedom, to become God’s Holy People
  • and further back in the mists of time, when flood waters cleansed the earth of the corruption and sin that humanity had entered into, Noah and his family escaped above the water, to become the ancestors of the Hebrew people

So you can see a lot of symbolism in the act of baptism.

But for me there was something else about baptism that was really important: after I was baptised I saw God’s Spirit coming down upon me like a dove, commissioning me, ordaining me, to be God’s Holy One, called to save his people. It won’t be an easy job. I know that it will involve suffering and death, but I trust that God will vindicate me, will raise me to new life in the end. The anointing with the Spirit is my assurance that God will be with me through all I face.

I believe that all those who trust in me as God’s Holy One, who follow God’s teaching that I give to them, will also share in that promise and hope: a transformation to life in this world, and resurrection and everlasting life in the world to come. I hope that they too will experience anointing with the Spirit, know the joy of belonging to God’s Holy People, and the comfort and strength that flow from that.

In the Jewish community men are circumcised as a sign that they belong to God’s Holy People. There is no such sign for women. If men from other communities are circumcised to become a member of the Jewish community, they are cut off from their own families and backgrounds. We need a new symbol that embraces everyone, Jew and Gentile, male and female; that ties in with the story of God’s mighty deeds among the Hebrew people; that recognises that following God’s way involves sharing in the way of suffering and death that I must go, with the hope and promise of resurrection and everlasting life; that expresses the conviction that God anoints them with his Spirit to make them people who can be holy and will serve him. I want to take baptism from John’s understanding, and let people see it in a new way.

Prayer for others and Lord’s Prayer

Gracious God

At the beginning of Lent

 as we recall your commitment to us

 and your desire for wholeness and fullness of life for everyone

we pray for those who lack the basic needs of life

 those who do not have enough to eat

 do not have somewhere to call home

 do not have a job, or are afraid of losing the one they have

 who don’t have access to health care, fresh water, hygienic sanitation or education

 who live in fear or anxiety

 who long for peace and safety

we pray for all who are working to help people with basic needs

 and those who resist change because it would involve a cost to them

we pray for those who are ill

 those who are lonely or feeling down

 those grieving a friend or loved one

we pray for those seeking to find fulfilment in life

 those who need to be assured that they are loved and valued

 those who have not had the chance to reach their potential

we pray for the Queen and all in positions of leadership around the world

we pray for those who do not know you

 that they may encounter you and respond to you

 those who have known you but have turned away

we pray for your church

 the worldwide church

 the wider church in Dumbarton

 our own congregation

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 194 This is the day


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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