Sunday Worship, 22 May 2022

Service starts at 11:15am in Riverside, streamed to St Andrews & on YouTube.

Call to worship

Christ has entered heaven itself, to appear now before God on our behalf.

Hebrews 9: 24

Choir Introit

Hymn 200 Christ is made the sure foundation

Opening Prayer 

Lord

You aren’t a God who reigns far away in glory

 who looks down on us from a great height

You care about us so much

 that you came to our world in Jesus

 shared our life and experiences

 shared suffering and death

 showed us how we should live

 gave us new life –

  richer, fuller, deeper, unending

But our love for you

 our love for others

 is so weak and poor

our commitment to following in the way of Jesus

 following his example and teaching

 is so poor

Forgive us

Fill us anew with love for you

 and love for others

Strengthen us to follow his example and teaching

through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen

The Church of Scotland   

The Church of Scotland has a history going back many centuries to figures like Ninian and Columba, but it seeks to serve God in Scotland today, and strives to ensure that people will continue to do that in the future.

The Church of Scotland believes it has a responsibility towards all the people of Scotland, from Southend in Kintyre to Unst in Shetland, from the Western Isles to the Berwickshire coast. All across Scotland there are congregations with parish areas around them. The congregations seek to engage with the people in their communities, sharing the Good News of Jesus, and sharing his loving care in practical ways.

Some congregations (and buildings) are quite large, some are quite small. Some buildings are very old, some are fairly new.

The history of the Church of Scotland has been turbulent at times, but it now has good relations with Christians of many different traditions. It belongs to the Reformed family of churches.

Let us pray for the Church of Scotland and its work

Gracious God,

We pray for the Church of Scotland.

Help it to be faithful to you,

 sharing your love and Good News

 living out your values.

When it makes mistakes or takes the wrong turn,

 lead it back to the right way.

When it is uncertain about what to do,

 make known your will.

When it is divided, help it to strive for unity in you.

When it is doing or saying the right thing,

 give it the confidence to face up to all challenges

Through Christ our Lord we pray. Amen

Hymn 204 I am the church

Bible reading Acts 16: 9-15 

What is the General Assembly?

For nearly a century and a half after the Scottish Reformation there were bitter arguments and fights over the way in which the Church of Scotland should be organised, but since 1690 it has adopted a Presbyterian structure:

national level           General Assembly meets annually and is the highest decision-making body

regional level           Presbytery oversees a number of congregations

local level                Kirk Session is the decision-making body for the congregation

The General Assembly meets annually in Edinburgh, usually in May. Currently it has about 700 members, but there are plans to shrink it to about 550. Like Presbytery there is supposed to be equal numbers of ministers and elders. Congregations are represented once every 3-5 years. A number of Committees, supported by staff, carry out programmes agreed by the General Assembly. These are based in the church offices at 121 George Street Edinburgh. Other denominations in Scotland, and churches overseas with whom the Church of Scotland has links, send corresponding members.

Because of the historic links between the Church of Scotland and the state, the Queen appoints a High Commissioner to attend the General Assembly and report back, though he/she is not part of the Assembly.

Bible reading John 14: 23-29

Hymn 608 Spirit of truth and grace

What is happening at this year’s General Assembly?

  • On Monday it will be asked to welcome a Declaration of Friendship with the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland that has already been accepted by their Bishops’ Conference, acknowledging that what we have in common is more than what divides us
  • A majority of Presbyteries agreed that ministers should be able to apply to conduct same-sex marriages, accepting that it will not be compulsory for every minister to do so. An Act will be presented to the Assembly for approval
  • In response to the consultation on the role of the Westminster Confession in the life of the Church of Scotland, it is proposed that a Book of Confessions will be prepared, outlining the range of Reformed thought; ministers would be given more guidance and teaching on the Church’s confessional position; and vows for ministers and elders would be adapted. The aim is not to dilute the Church’s beliefs, but to acknowledge that no one Confession can adequately express everything it holds as important
  • The Assembly Business Committee is working through a long list of recommendations from Presbyteries on when, how and where the Assembly should meet, and will bring a list of recommendations to next year’s meeting
  • There is a proposal that in future, when a Basis of Union is prepared, it will be possible to specify how many elders from each uniting church become part of the united Kirk Session (and how representation will be worked out)
  • There are currently 42 full time ministers of Word and  Sacrament in training, and there were 26 probationers at the beginning of Summer 2021

Let us pray for the General Assembly:

Almighty God,

 your Son promised his disciples

 that he would be with them always.

Hear the prayer we offer for your servants

 now met in General Assembly.

May your Holy Spirit rest on them:

 a spirit of wisdom and understanding,

 a spirit of counsel and power,

 a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.

Grant them vision and courage;

 unite them in love and peace;

 teach them to be trustworthy stewards of your truth.

And so guide them in all their doings

 that your kingdom may be advanced,

 your people confirmed in their most holy faith,

 and your unfailing love

 declared to all the world;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Hymn 739 The church’s one foundation

Prayers for others          

Gracious God

You are a God who cares

You are a God who strives for truth, for justice, for peace

and so we bring our prayers for those in need

those who are ill, those who worry about them,

  those who care for them

 those waiting for or receiving treatment

  and those for whom there is no treatment

 those who are feeling lonely, down

  or grieving a friend or loved one

 those who don’t have enough to eat

  don’t have somewhere to call home

 those who are worried about family, friends, work, home,

   money

 those who long to live in peace and safety

we pray for the Queen, the Government

 all in positions of leadership in this and every land

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

We bring our gifts of money, we bring ourselves

take and use them, take and use us

for your glory

And we sum up our prayers in the words of the prayer Jesus gave us, in whichever version we know best

Hymn 511 Your hand O God has guided

Blessing (3-fold Amen)               

The grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ,

 the love of God,

 and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,

 be with you all, now and for evermore.

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