Sunday Worship, 28 February 2021

During Lent:

  • Coffee and chat 11.15-12.15 on Sundays
  • Craft and chat 2-3pm on Mondays
  • 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
  • Friday 5 March World Day of Prayer.
    No local service this year but a national online service on Zoom.
    If you would like the link to join in, contact Ian Johnson or Susan Anderson

Links to Hymns:

Hymn 167 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wT4n1hGjDDg

Hymn 519 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gvCODgV1fc 

Hymn 103 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9_mJ9G60f6w

Welcome      

When Christ appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is

1 John 3: 2

Hymn 167 Guide me O thou great Jehovah

Prayer

Saviour of the world

You didn’t have to go to Jerusalem

 you could have taken a different road

 you could have delayed your journey

 you could have made a low-profile visit

 your friends advised you not to go

 they begged you not to go

but you set your face resolutely to Jerusalem –

 not through stubbornness or lack of concern for them –

 but because only by making that journey –

 all the way to Calvary –

could you win back humanity for God

Forgive us for the times

 we have been slow or reluctant to follow you

 for the times we have looked for an easier way

Help us to journey with you

 open our eyes to see your love for us

 open our hearts to love others as you love them

 open our mouths and lives

  to bear witness to your life-changing love

 in all that we do and say

Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen


All age time

With all the talk about easing restrictions and life returning to ‘normal’, we could probably all draw up a list of the things we’d like to do later this year: where we want to go for coffee, lunch, afternoon tea or dinner (if the venues are still there); places to visit; friends or family to see; people to have round.

If we have a ‘wish-list’ of places to go, we probably have the opposite too – places we don’t want to visit, or don’t like having to visit. For some it may be the dentist’s, or the doctor’s, or the hospital or vet’s (particularly if you are a pet); for some it may be the exam hall; or the boss’s room for the annual appraisal; or going for an interview; or whatever. Often those things can bring with them difficulty in sleeping before it, nightmares, churning in the stomach, anxiety and so on.

Maybe that’s how Jesus felt about going to Jerusalem for that last, fateful visit. He knew what lay ahead, he knew that it wasn’t going to be very nice – for his family and friends as well as him. But he still went, because he knew that it was something he had to do.

We know we have to go to the dentist etc, even when we don’t like it. As we do so, we know that God understands the kind of feelings we have at such times. He doesn’t magically stop us needing to go, but he is with us all the way through it – and assures us that even if the outcome is not good for us, he still loves and values us just as much as ever.


Reading        Mark 8: 31-38


Hymn 519 Love divine

Reflection

When I was young going anywhere outside Nazareth was exciting. Going to Jerusalem was an adventure, and going to Jerusalem for Passover was the highlight of the year. Mum spent ages getting ready (not that we were taking a lot of luggage): she had to arrange for someone to look after the business, the house, the vegetable plot. And she fretted about our safety the whole way there: “Now you stay here, don’t go running on ahead, don’t dawdle, don’t get lost.” She was always worried that there would be robbers round the next bend, so we had to go as a large-ish group. Some of the men carried swords ‘just in case’, but I never did. I wouldn’t want to stab or scar anyone. I’d rather sit down with them and try to work out why they were resorting to violence, what they could do to change their behaviour. We usually stayed with some relation or other, or with the relation of a friend or neighbour of ours. Don’t ask me how these folk were related – Granny knew, but then when you’re wee doesn’t Granny know everything?

This time is going to be different. I know what lies ahead, and it isn’t nice. This whole world needs changed – not just a bit of tinkering here and there at the edges. It needs complete, radical change. It requires people to stop putting Self first, to think of God and others. They don’t like that – putting Self first is a basic human instinct, and rejecting Self involves a cost which many are unwilling to accept. Many in positions of power, and not just in Jerusalem, depend on corruption, injustice, cruelty, neglect and abuse to build up and keep their wealth and power. Moving to the type of life-style God wishes for them would undermine all of that.

Already powerful interests in Jerusalem and Galilee are out to get me. When I get to Jerusalem they will do everything in their power to destroy me. Officially the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem can’t use the death penalty, but there are plenty of folk in and around the city willing to act as ‘hitmen’ for a suitable fee, and there are officials quite ready to pay that fee when it suits them. Even without the death penalty they can still use some pretty horrible tortures and punishments, like the 39 lashes or stoning. I suspect that they are more likely to make up charges against me and hand me over to the Romans. They are very good at using lies, half-truths, innuendo, defamation of character – especially against the weakest and most vulnerable. The Romans are not exactly noted for their gentleness – they use extremely cruel forms of punishment and execution, supposed to discourage others. I feel a bit like a lamb being taken to the altar to be sacrificed – though a lamb usually meets a quicker end than I expect.

The others are full of that holiday mood that I used to know – even though we’ll have a night or two in Pella with Becky and Nat, the cousins once-removed of the woman who lives two doors down from Auntie Rachel. I don’t know which is worse: her cooking or his voice! The disciples think this is all a great adventure: Simon half-hopes that he can thump a Roman or Samaritan, Peter is dreaming of the Archangel Michael appearing on the Temple parapet with the Heavenly Host in tow, James and John (at their mother’s prompting) are imagining themselves living in palaces, and Judas quite fancies himself taking control of the state and Temple treasuries.

If only I could get them to understand. It isn’t just my life that is threatened if the authorities (or should I say, ‘when the authorities’) get me. They will go for them as well, as accessories after their made-up crimes. If my hope is realised, if God does vindicate me and raise me from the dead, introducing a new world order to which they go out to bear witness, then they will find themselves facing the same hostile reaction that I will face – because as I said before, people are not keen to renounce Self, wealth, ease and power. Some of this group may face a violent end, maybe even in a manner very similar to mine. Those that come after them may face it too. Some may not face physical suffering, but they may face ridicule, being ostracised, being required to give up time, energy, money, ambitions for the sake of building the Kingdom. They may receive no thanks or appreciation for their work (or at least not from their fellow human beings – because God sees and knows, and stores up his appreciation in heaven for that day when all wrongs, and all injustices, are put right).


Prayer for others and Lord’s Prayer

Heavenly Father

It isn’t easy being a follower of Jesus

  • living up to your standards and by your values
  • telling the story of his life, his death and his rising again
  • working for change in your world

for some it is especially difficult

they face opposition, discrimination, persecution

from family, neighbours, the authorities

We pray for your whole family through Jesus

 the worldwide church, the church in Dumbarton

 our own congregation

that they may remain faithful to you

 may have the strength to cope with their difficulties

 may succeed in their witness to Christ

 and their endeavours to bring change to the world

We pray for the Queen

 and all those in positions of leadership around the world

We pray for all situations in the world

 where peace and justice are needed

 for those with the power to make changes

 those who need to have a change of heart

  who need new priorities

 those who long to live in peace and safety

  and those who have fled from their homes seeking safety

we pray for those who are ill

 those who look after them, and those who worry about them

 those waiting for or receiving treatment

 those for whom there is no treatment

 those who are lonely or feeling down

 those grieving a friend or loved one

 those worried about a friend or relative

We pray for those worried about home, work or money

 those who don’t have enough to eat

 those who don’t have somewhere to call home

 those who are living with the effects of natural disasters

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 103 Fill your hearts with joy and gladness

Blessing      

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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