Sunday Worship, 4 July 2021

Welcome

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

Opening Prayer

Lord,

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

            forgive us

            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)

  1. 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?

right

  • What are the colours associated with port and starboard?

Red, green

  • 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

Heavenly Father

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

 the coastguard

 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

Blessing

And the blessing of God Almighty.

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