Welcome to our service today. For the next few weeks, looking ahead to the Cop26 conference in Glasgow later in the year, we’ll be looking at aspects of the natural world, and what they can tell us about God, his care, and his will for his world.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him?”Mark 4: 40-41
Hymn 260 Eternal Father strong to save
Thank you that you created so beautiful and diverse
a planet for us to live on
we thank you especially today for the sea and seashore
for the rock pools, the sandy beaches, the cliffs, the marshy salt-flats
the islands, the estuaries, the long sea lochs
we give thanks for the memories we have of days out or holidays by the sea
catching the train and steamer
going in the car or bus
sailing, canoeing, swimming, fishing, walking, playing
and for those still developing their own memories
so often we take for granted the world around us
we fail to appreciate the scenery on our doorsteps
the people who are part of our lives each day
the services available to us here
we can be very good at finding fault and complaining
we can take you, and all your goodness to us, for granted too
help us to have open and grateful hearts
ready to share and to help
in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen
All age time (for ages 0-100)
- What is the ‘sea’ version of these words: left, right, front, back, upstairs, downstairs, floor, kitchen, measure of speed, bedrooms, parking?
port, starboard, fore/ for’ard, aft, aloft, below, deck, galley, knot, cabins, berthing
- At sea/ on a river do ships ‘drive’ on the right or left?
- What are the colours associated with port and starboard?
- Can you name 3 lighthouses (lights that were once staffed) in the Clyde area?
Cloch, Toward, Pladda, Wee Cumbrae (there are also many beacons – like the Gantocks or Horse Isle – that were never staffed)
Bible reading Acts 27: 39 – 28: 2
Reflection Part 1 A meeting place
Whether it is a sandy beach, a bank of shingle, a series of rocks and crevices, or sticky, smelly mud, the shoreline is a boundary between two very different worlds. Different plants and animals inhabit the two different worlds – and most would perish quickly if they were taken from one environment to live in the other.
On a still day, whatever the season, the water laps gently along the shore and the two worlds co-exist peacefully and in apparent harmony. But if a storm is raging the seashore suffers: the sea is churned into a raging, foaming force that hurls itself at the land. Beaches may be removed, coastline may be eroded, rocks and cliffs are worn away. In some instances the sea burst through the usual barrier, and floods and spoils the coastline beyond, destroying fields, homes and livelihoods.
Much of our life is spent in a meeting place between different worlds, worlds with different value-systems. Follow the news any day, observe people about town or at the seaside, talk with colleagues or neighbours, and we quickly realise that there are many people whose values are different from the ones with which we were brought up: respecting other people, being civic-minded, being ready to give of our time, money and effort for others.
Like the seashore, sometimes the boundary on which we live is peaceful and harmonious, an opportunity to share, to learn, to celebrate the rich diversity of God’s world. But sometimes the storm break and there is turmoil and violence.
Jesus lived his life at a meeting place of different worlds, cultures and value-systems – both within the Jewish community, and between it and its neighbours. He is our example of how to live our lives, when to accept and celebrate differences, and when to stand firm and say ‘No compromise!’ He felt the full force of the storm, and showed that love, goodness and truth are more powerful than anything that the world can throw at us
Hymn 532 Lord you have come to the seashore
Reflection Part 2 Life on the margin
If you walk along the shore at low tide – whether it’s sand, shingle, rock or mud – there is usually an interesting mix of stuff at the margin between sea and land. There may be things that attract your interest, things you might feel minded to take home as an ornament or part of a collection – stones, shells, bits of wood, fishing net or even a creel. There may be things you avoid, like jellyfish, a dead seagull or the inevitable rubbish. Some things will be carried away on the next tide, others will be thrown clear of the high tide mark and stay there stranded.
In some ways, that could describe humanity. Many people are like the stones and shells: others find them interesting, want to get to know them better and include them in their circle of friends. There are however also people whom other tend to avoid, or don’t want to add to their collection of friends. It could be that they are shy, and conversation is hard work; it could be that they have health or social problems; it could be that their appearance, background or lifestyle is different. Whatever it is, they are not included in the mainstream, and rather get left on the margin, like the stuff deposited beyond the high water mark.
Jesus came to show and proclaim that God’s love embraces all, and all are invited to be part of his family. Time and again he made a point of spending time with those at the margin – the army officer, the lepers, the woman caught in adultery, the woman at the well, the man born blind, the woman who was haemorrhaging, the tax collectors, Zacchaeus, – showing them that God cares, showing them acceptance, letting them find healing, and changing them through their encounter with him. Even if the rest of the world didn’t change its behaviour, they knew that God cared about them, and that through his Spirit he would help them to become more like Jesus.
As for us, we may feel mainstream or we may feel on the margin. But Jesus has come to us and assured us of God’s overwhelming love and concern for us. He calls us to become more like Jesus, and he sends us out to take his love and Good News to those in the mainstream, and those at the margins – assuring the latter that, however the rest of the world treats them, they are at the centre of God’s heart.
Prayers for others
We give you thanks for all who work at sea
on container ships, oil or ore carriers
ferries, liners, tugs, lifeboats, fishing boats
We depend upon the things that the bring here, or take abroad
We eat the fish and shellfish
We use the oil and gas
But often we take them for granted
we don’t think about the impact that being away at sea
has on crew and families
We pray for those who are lonely or under stress
those worried about the future of their jobs because of the pandemic
and those who support them when in port
We pray for all who are in danger at sea or from the sea
for those who have lost loved ones at sea
for those who work in the lifeboat service
and maintaining lights and beacons
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 737 Will your anchor hold
And the blessing of God Almighty.