Sunday Worship, 21 March 2021

Notices

  • The Sunday Schools would like to invite members of the congregation who will not be attending the church service, to join them on Zoom on Sunday 28th March (Palm Sunday) from 10-11am.  They are planning an Easter celebration and would like everyone to bring a hard-boiled egg to be decorated on Zoom. There will be prizes for the best decorated eggs. Invitations to join the meeting will be circulated just before 10.00am. Please contact Susan Reid on 07821-393-468 by Saturday 27th if you would like the codes sent to you.
  • Coffee and chat 11.15-12.15 on Sunday 21 March
  • Craft and chat 2-3pm on Mondays
  • Last Lent studies Thursday 25 March on Zoom 10.30am or 7.30pm
  • It is our intention to re-open the church buildings next Sunday, 28 March, for worship at 10.30am. The service will be recorded in Riverside and streamed live to St Andrew’s and West Kirk, as well as the internet. Arrangements will be as last Autumn (face coverings, physical distancing, contact details, music but no singing). If you want to pre-book a place at Riverside, contact Margaret Auld (but there will still be places kept free for people who turn up on the day). Because of the scaffolding at Riverside, access will be via the Castle Street door. No pre-booking arrangements are in place for St Andrew’s or West Kirk. If you would like any further information contact me or the Session Clerk

Watch this week’s service here:

Links to this week’s hymns:

Welcome      

Jesus died for all so that those who live should cease to live for themselves, and should live for him who for their sake died and was raised to life

2 Corinthians 5: 15

Hymn The Lord’s my Shepherd  (Stuart Townsend)

Prayer

Lord

What love is this

 to come among us as one of us

 the Creator become one of his creatures

 the Almighty, the Infinite, the Eternal

 become limited by time, space and human frailty?

Yet freely you did it

 to share our experiences

 to free us

 to redeem us

 to make us your own for ever

The cost included the suffering and death of Jesus.

Maybe the woman with the jar of perfume

 glimpsed something of his specialness

 and his coming trials

But amongst his friends, among the crowds

 no one understood who he was or what he was doing

 no one entered into his agony and torment with him

They all kept their distance at his time of crisis and death

All too often we keep our distance too

We don’t want to be involved

 we don’t want to wrestle to know and understand you better

 we don’t want to face hard questions

  about the impact on us of being your people

We don’t even express thanks and appreciation

 for all that you have done for us

We are sorry

Forgive us

Fill us with a longing to serve you

 to live lives that give you glory and honour

 and help in the building of your Kingdom

Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen


All age time

In some Christian traditions today is referred to as Passion Sunday – a time to think about Jesus’ suffering before and on Good Friday. We don’t usually try to think too much about it, or show pictures of what it might have been like – or we’ll all have nightmares. It really was horrible.

Jesus wasn’t unique in having to suffer horrible things happening to him – the Romans did the same and worse to many others. It wasn’t just the Romans, many other peoples did equally horrible things. It wasn’t just people long ago who did them – there are many governments, and many individuals, who do horrible things to other people today.

Because of what happened to Jesus God understands for himself what people have to suffer. He raised Jesus from death on Easter Day as a sign that kindness, love, truth and justice are stronger that hatred, cruelty, neglect and abuse. He promises us all that he is always working in the world to ensure that that message is put in place everywhere, and he also promises us that one day we too will all share Jesus’ new life that lasts for ever.


Reading        Jeremiah 31: 31-34


Hymn 259 Beauty for brokenness

Reflection

Every time I come into the Temple I hear the echo of that voice that kept tempting me in the desert: ‘Go on, do something dramatic – jump off the parapet, leap over the barrier into the High Priest’s area, stand by the Altar and shout “You bunch of hypocrites. How have you the nerve to come here and pretend to be do holy-holy, when at home you are such bigots and rogues”, or to announce “I am the Christ, do as I tell you”’. Time and again I have to fight it, because that is not my Father’s will. Only the way of suffering, the way of service, will break down the barriers between humanity and God, between humanity and itself, will enable people to become part of God’s family, will enable the world to be the place God wants it to be.

Every time I shut my eyes I see images of lashes, of beatings, of a cross and someone crying out in agony – but I know that that is the way that I must go. In the pain God is glorified, in the suffering I am fulfilling his will, by becoming nothing I am raised to the highest place, broken in death I am crowned with eternal life.

In the moment of death I will probably not be able to see anything with my eyes, except perhaps pain and tears, but I am sure that in my heart I will see locked gates swing open, high walls come crashing down, deep prison pits opened up and graves spring open. All those barriers that shut people out – because they have disabilities, because their lives have become complex or messy, because they are ‘different’, they are ’foreigners’ or ‘aliens’ (like these Greeks here), because they are women or children, because they don’t have wealth, power or influence – I will see them tumble down, and everyone come together as one family in the household of my Father.

That man over there: he’s carrying a single ear of barley in his hand, presumably he wants to express his thanks to God for the harvest associated with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. A few weeks ago that was part of a living plant. The sap was rising up it, the ear was green and fattening. But then it ripened in the sun and the plant died. For some the dead stalk is fit only to be used as fuel for the fire. If the man separates the seeds from each other and throws them on his field – leaving the poor seeds dead, alone and abandoned, at the mercy of all and sundry – those seeds have the potential within them to bring forth new life. At first it will be hidden away from everyone in the dark earth, but in time it will burst forth, showing new life, showing growth for all the world to see. A rich harvest from God and for God.

Doesn’t that say something about my journey here? When I am dead, alone and abandoned, buried in the earth at the mercy of all and sundry, there is a hope of new life that will spring forth from the dark earth – a rich harvest from God and for God. So too it will be for my friends who follow on the road after me. It is in the giving up, the casting away, the burial in the deep dark earth that new life will be born, and a rich harvest for God will be produced. Giving up Self. Putting God and others first, travelling the way of service and humility: through these things will come glory, and the Kingdom.


Prayer for others and Lord’s Prayer

Heavenly Father

We want to be with Mary, offering you our devotion and commitment

 but all too often we are like the other disciples, and back off

 or we are like Thomas and sceptical about things

 or like Judas, arguing with you in our hearts

Kindle anew in us the flame of commitment

 that we might be wholeheartedly ready to do what you want of us

We pray for all who are like Judas, and feel cut off from those around them

 and especially for those who feel so cut off that they wish to cause harm to others

We pray for those like Jesus, who feel isolated and alone

 those who feel let down and betrayed

We pray for those in need in our community, our country and our world

 those who are ill, who look after them, who worry about them

 those waiting for treatment, receiving treatment, or for whom there is no treatment

 those who are lonely, feeling down, grieving a friend or loved one

 those who do not have enough to eat, don’t have somewhere to call home

  are worried about home, work or money

  a friend or a relative

 those who lack access to education, healthcare, safe sanitation

  and other things we take for granted

 those who long to live in peace and safety

  those who have fled from their homes seeking safety

help us to remember that creating a world with peace and justice

 is not something to be left to you or others

 but involves us too

We pray for the Queen and her family

 all in positions of leadership here and throughout the world

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  154 How Great Thou Art

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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