Let us join to worship God.
Hymn 22 The Lord’s my light
As we look forward in faith
help us to be aware of your light,
constantly shining, never dimming
as you care for and guide us.
Forgive us when we wander from your way
and think only of ourselves.
We know what displeases you,
and yet so many times we let you down.
We ask for your guidance,
that we may go forward in faith
and in the light of our Lord
Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen
Drama: Light under a bushel
Committee member Mary
Dorothy Right! That’s me corrected the minutes, and sorted out the various reports, so that just leaves agreeing the arrangements for the next meeting. I’ll lead the devotions as usual. Betty, you can do the Notices, and Gladys can do the Bible reading – though she’ll have to speak up, as she mumbled too much the last time!
Betty Sorry, but Gladys will be away then. She’s off on Monday for a month to stay with the family. She hasn’t seen much of them for the last year or so because of the lockdowns, so she’s taking the opportunity for a nice, long stay.
Dorothy Oh, well! I suppose we’ll let her off just this once, though it means I’ll have to do that too.
Mary Or I could do it if you like.
Convener You could do it? Well, I suppose we are pretty desperate! Betty, you’ll do the Vote of Thanks.
Betty Sorry, but I’ve to slip off early to collect my niece from school. Her mum’s got an appointment over at the RAH – she’s waited months for it – and she can’t be sure that she’ll be back in time to collect Gemma.
Dorothy Surely there must be someone else who could collect her! Really, the excuses people come up with! We are struggling now!
Mary If you’re struggling, maybe I could help with that too
Dorothy If you think you can manage it. I’ll give you advice, I’m very experienced, but since you’ve offered…
Mary I do them quite often at work
Dorothy Now, Betty, I’ve picked the hymns. Pass the details on to Lucinda, and she can start practising. I don’t want her to let us down when we’ve got a speaker from that posh church across the water coming. Don’t want them going away thinking we can’t get a good pianist.
Betty Lucinda’s down in London that night, accompanying some tenor in a concert in the Royal Albert Hall.
Dorothy This is a disaster! I feel totally let down and abandoned.
Mary If you’re really stuck, I could play.
Dorothy Can you manage two hands, or is it just one finger?
Mary I have got Grade 8 piano and an A in Higher Music
Dorothy Well, you’ve kept your light under a bushel, haven’t you? Why have you never volunteered before now?
Mary You never needed me, nor did you ask!
Hymn 251 I the Lord of sea and sky
Matthew 5: 13-16
Over the past 20 months of the Covid-19 pandemic some of us have taken up old hobbies, some have acquired new skills. How many of us had had a Zoom call, or a meeting on Teams before March last year? And yet now we are quite ready to give it a go (provided there is someone on hand to tell us to ‘Unmute’ or ‘Switch on your video’). For me one of the challenges (I’m not sure that I’d call it a skill) has been adapting to filmed and streamed Sunday services. At the outset, trying to use my i-pad to do recordings, I was ready to condemn it to the lowest level of Hades by bell, book and candle, because I couldn’t get it to work properly. Thankfully tuition from Cameron and Colin helped me to move on.
Even though we may not end up being brilliant at certain jobs, there are all sorts of hidden depths within us, things that we could do if we had to – it’s just that the need to develop those skills has never arisen, and it’s not something we’ve rushed to do:
- for some people circumstances, or the nature of education when they were at school, meant that they didn’t have the opportunity to develop particular skills or gain experience in doing certain things. Or maybe we did have the chance, but didn’t take it at the time
- some jobs, some careers, offer more scope for personal development than others. A couple of fun courses that I went on with the Bank covered areas such as public speaking and creative thinking – but not every employer can offer that. In the past many women found themselves in jobs where there was little potential or encouragement to develop skills [Susan]
- sometimes people are held back because they are afraid of what others might think or say. ‘Who do they think they are? I remember them in Primary 2. You know where they used to live. Do you remember what how her mother used to hang a washing?’ Jesus faced a similar sort of reaction when he stood up to preach in the synagogue in Nazareth
- sometimes we have the skills and experience, maybe the qualifications, to do something, but our boss, or our colleagues, or the ruling clique, either don’t recognise what we can offer, or can see it well enough but don’t want to make space for us. When that happens we become frustrated, and maybe move on or drift away.
Whatever we do or don’t recognise in ourselves, whatever other people do or don’t recognise in us, God knows all of our skills and experiences, and sees all the potential skills in us that we can’t see, or have never had the chance to try out. God is quite ready to use those skills for the work of building his Kingdom – sometimes gently helping us to discover and develop them, sometimes ‘dropping us’ into a situation where we suddenly have to learn this quickly. In a sense he did that with the Apostles, taking a ragtag bunch of fishermen, tax collectors and the like and instructing them to take the Good News of the Resurrection to the ends of the earth.
We all have skills and experience to use in God’s service. God may want us to be humble, rather than constantly boasting of what we can do and have done; but humility is not the same as false modesty. Saying ‘O but I don’t have any skills’ doesn’t really wash with God. He wants us to be open and honest in recognising the skills and experience we have, to be ready to use them, and ready to discover and develop new ones. He also wants us to be ready to acknowledge other people’s skills and abilities, and encourage them to develop and use them.
God calls us to take the Good News of Jesus into the world, to strive for peace and justice in the world. We might feel that we’re not very good at it, but God has full confidence in us, and he gives us his Spirit to guide and empower us. Sometimes he expects us to come out of our comfort zone, to be visible, obvious, vocal, in doing what he wants of us. That’s when he wants us to be like lights on a lampstand, and cities on hills.
Hymn 543 Longing for light
Prayers for others
May we bring light and colour into the lives of people we meet:
where a light is needed to brighten a life, may we be there
where a hand is needed to ease a load, may we be there offering it willingly
where an ear is needed to comfort, may we be there to stop and listen
where a prayer is needed because of troubles around the world,
may we be ever prayerful and ready to help
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 pray for the Guild, its leaders and members
that they may remember whose they are and whom they serve
We pray for the projects that the Guild are supporting this year
-Home for Good and Starchild-
and for the work they do
We bring to you our prayers for people and situations of special concern to us [20 seconds silence]
We thank you for the many talents you have given us
Help us to use them wisely in your service
In grateful thanks we bring our offerings –
use them for the work of your Kingdom
And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us
Hymn 448 Lord the light of your love is shining
Blessing (3-fold Amen)
And the blessing of God Almighty.