Daily Devotional reflections

As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will to seek post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer.


Cruden Parish Church – 7.00 PM, Sunday 9th May, 2020
Order of Service

Cruden Parish Church

Welcome
Welcome to our online service at Cruden Parish Church. You are invited to join in the responses printed in bold and italic.

Call to Worship
At times like this it can be difficult to look forward in hope, to face the future, to trust that God is working for us. But in this space, God is with us. Offering us a glimpse of heaven, a teaser of what is to come. So, however difficult, however challenging, however uncomfortable, put your trust in God and worship him
This is the day that the Lord has made.
This is the day when he can be found.
God of all, breath of life,
Living water, Saviour, friend.
Come as the hungry, feed on his Word
Come as the thirsty, drink of his Love
Come as the faithful, worship the Lord.

Lighting of Candle & Prayer of Solidarity
As Scotland locked down in March, so our usual way of life came shuddering to a halt. Travel was restricted to an extent not experienced in any living lifetime. Our way of life changed too. Some faced traumatic, heart-rending personal situations, from illness to hospitalisation, anxiousness for and separation from loved ones. Others experienced new risk through their roles, including those serving in hospitals and care homes, and key workers in other sectors that are vital for life. Yet others faced difficult personal situations: hunger, tension in relationships and worse, and overnight, everyone had to find a new way of living life. Across the country people have answered the call to pray at the same time each week in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Rt Rev Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: "When so much is not normal how lovely it can be to come together at 7pm each Sunday and have a few moments in which we can pray together. Let me encourage you to keep hope alive and join with us in prayer."
Today, in these times, we pray that we may sense Christ’s guiding presence:

Come, Jesus Christ, come my way;
showing me your way, through these disorientating days,
and opening my eyes to your accompanying presence.

Come, Jesus Christ, come my way;
teaching me your truth, through these confounding days
and opening my mind to your living Word.

Come Jesus Christ, come my way;
revealing to me your life, through these bewildering days,
and opening my heart to the fullness of your being.
Amen.

Introduction
What is the strangest or weirdest thing you have ever seen or heard? (Not confidential please!)

Bible Reading (Rev Fred Coutts)

Revelation 21: 1-7

Then saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea.  2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away."  
5 He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." 6 He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.

Sermon – ‘John of Leiden, Bishop Clemens August & Winston Churchill’

John of Leiden

John of Leiden (1509 – 1536)

Bishop (later Cardinal) Clemens August Graf von Galen

Bishop (later Cardinal) Clemens August Graf von Galen

Wiston Churchill

Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

 

Prayers of God’s people    (Katherine Hyman)

And in the quietness of this evening hours, we pause to remember…
Pause to remember people who have lost their jobs and homes and shell-shocked by this new and unwanted experience bought about by Covid 19. May they find the help they need.
Pause to remember people all serve at personal risk – retail staff, delivery drives, carers, medical staff, emergency services and members of the armed forces.
Pause to remember all who guide our common life – Elizabeth our Queen, Prime Minister and First Minister, knowing the heavy burden of responsibility they bear and the hard choices and difficult decisions they need to make. – pray from God’s grace and guidance, deep wisdom and great courage.
Pause to remember those who have lost their lives to Covid19 because of their service to others – pray their families may receive God’s deepest comfort and peace.

Father, we lift up to you now…
For the health workers tending the seriously ill
for the scientists working on a vaccination 
for the researchers analysing data and identifying trends
for the media outlets working to communicate reality
for the supermarket workers, hygiene and sanitation providers
for the good news stories of recoveries and effective planning
for the singing from balconies by locked-down communities
for the recognition that isolation doesn’t need to mean loneliness
for the notes through letterboxes offering help and support 
for the internet and telephones and technology that connects
for the awakened appreciation of what is truly important
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer

For those who are unwell and concerned for loved ones
for those who were already very anxious
for those immune suppressed or compromised
for those vulnerable because of underlying conditions
for those in the ‘most at risk to coronavirus’ categories
for those watching their entire income stream dry up
for those who have no choice but to go out to work
for those who are afraid to be at home 
for those who are more lonely than they've ever been
for those who are bereaved and grieving.
God be their healer, comfort and protection,
be their strength, shield and provision
be their security, safety and close companion
God, in your mercy.
Hear our prayer 

# And renew and revive and raise up your Church
to be your well-washed hands and faithful feet 
to be present to the pain
to respond with love in action
if even from a safe distance.
 God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Amen

Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
You will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours,
now and forever.
Amen.

Prayer of Dismissal

For your goodness and generosity in giving us all we need,
this week help us to praise you, O God.
In every circumstance of life, in good times and bad,
this week help us to trust you, O God.
In love and faithfulness, with all that we have and all that we are,
this week help us to serve you, O God.
As we speak or write or listen to those nearby or far away,
this week help us to share your love, O God.
In all our plans and work for ourselves and for others,
this week help us to glorify you, O God.
In every thought and word and deed, by the power of your Holy Spirit,
this week may we live for you, O God, through Jesus Christ our Lord.     
Amen.

Celtic Blessing
Through the dark hours of this night
protect and surround us,
Father, Son and Spirit, Three.
Forgive the ill that we have done.
Forgive the pride that we have shown.
Forgive the words that have caused harm
that we might sleep peaceably,
and rise refreshed to do your will.
Through the dark hours of this night
protect and surround us,
Father, Son and Spirit, Three
Amen


Church Notices
During the period of lockdown, all our church meetings and activities are now on-line:
Fellowship Group @ Tuesday evening at 7.00 pm. (NEW)
Coffee Morning @ Thursday morning at 11.00 am
Evening Service @ Sunday evening at 7.00 pm.
Please contact Sean for the appropriate link to these meetings – no special apps or software required – at sswindells@churchofscotland.org.uk
Pastoral Care- please advise Sean of any pastoral matters. (tel. 07791 755976)

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Sunday 10th May 2020

Christian Aid Week

A couple of weeks ago I should have been pounding the streets of London in order to raise funds for Christian Aid. However, as the London Marathon will have wait until after the Covid 19 lockdown. (Due to our generosity and support I have already raised c £2,300.00!) In the meantime, today we celebrate the work of Christian in our Sunday Reflect with material provided by Christian Aid.

https://www.christianaid.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-04/Christian-Aid-Week-2020-Order-of-Service.pdf

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Saturday 9th May 2020

‘Love and sacrifice – being a peacemaker’

INTRODUCTION

Yesterday was the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. What should have been a national celebration right across the UK was downgraded due to the Coronavirus. Instead of street parties and other such events, instead we had to make do with TV and internet. Perhaps the best ‘local’ event was down in Collieston where VE day was marked by a group of local pipers who stood at the end of the pier. I would have loved to have been present, hearing the sound resonated around the village. (There is an echo from Collieston Beach that rebounds off the hillside and houses. It was discovered whilst shouting at the dogs last summer to stay away from a family having a peaceful picnic!)

One memory I have concerns a visit to a Care Home in Balmedie. I was chatting to one lady who told me about her husband’s experiences. He was serving with the 2nd Battalion Gordon Highlanders in the ill-fated battle for Singapore which saw the surrender of 130,000 British and Commonwealth soldiers. On the 15th February 1942 he taken into captivity and until of the war suffered at the hands of the Japanese. However, the lady concerned had no knowledge if her husband was dead or alive. It was only after the war had ended and the surviving members of the Gordon Highlanders returned home that she found out. On the day they arrived in Aberdeen by train she was stood on the platform waiting, watching and wondering. As the troops poured out of the train and fell into the arms of their families and sweethearts, she saw at the far end of the platform the familiar face of her husband. What a story!

BIBLE READINGS

Matthew 5:9

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

Zechariah 8: 3-8

Jerusalem, Holy City of the Future

3 “Thus says the LORD:
‘I will return to Zion,
And dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem shall be called the City of Truth,
The Mountain of the LORD of hosts,
The Holy Mountain.’
4 “Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘Old men and old women shall again sit
In the streets of Jerusalem,
Each one with his staff in his hand
Because of [d]great age.
5 The streets of the city
Shall be full of boys and girls
Playing in its streets.’
6 “Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘If it is [e]marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days,
Will it also be marvellous in My eyes?’
Says the LORD of hosts.
7 “Thus says the LORD of hosts:
‘Behold, I will save My people from the land of the [f]east
And from the land of the [g]west;
8 I will bring them back,
And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.
They shall be My people
And I will be their God,
In truth and righteousness.’

REFLECT

One of the biggest challenges for us ‘revs’ is getting the right balance at occasions such as VE Day and Remembrance Sunday. Should they be a time of sombre reflection, recalling all the terrible things that happened? Compared to what happened in some places the North East got off lightly. Or should these occasions be a celebration of victory? Should we rejoice that against all the odds we overcame. Our enemies – those who instigated violence and warfare – we overcome and evil was defeated. Personally I always strive to get a respectful balance between the two.

Our two Bible readings invite us to reflect on the present and strive for the future. Our call as peacemakers is one of the defining challenges of the Christian Faith. Some choose to interpret the passage as a call to resist violence in all its forms. Others, like myself, recognise the call to resist violence, but recognise that warfare is a very occasionally required for overcoming evil. The second passage invites us to work for the future, where God’s reign of love is supreme. Writing in 587/6 BC, after the fall of Jerusalem, Zechariah’s vision is a promise of better days. The homely image of old people sitting in the street with young children playing around implies peace, security and prosperity. Like much of Biblical prophecy, as well as speaking to the present, Zechariah also speaks about the future. The coming of God’s Kingdom where love will reign supreme.
What does it mean for you, in your current circumstances be a peacemaker?
What might God be asking you to do? (Or not to do?)

PRAYERS

Give thanks to God for the peacemakers.

Give thanks to God for those who make sacrifices for the wellbeing of others.

In Zechariahs vision, there is a promise of prosperity and peace for the youngest and oldest members of the community. It is a curious contrast that these two group are always the first to suffer when things go wrong.

Remember children unable to go out to play or go to school

Remember the elderly isolated from families and friends and especially burnable to Covid 19.

Rejoice that love will always overcome evil and God will always have the last word!”

Jesus said: ‘I am the good shepherd’ and so we pray:

Good Shepherd, watch over us today In all we face and experience.
Never leave us or forsake us and journey with us always.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, you know us as no-one else knows us.
Guard us and keep us, As you guard and keep those whom we love. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Good Shepherd, we pray for the sick and the lonely;
For the anxious and the bereaved; for those whose pain is beyond our comprehension.
We stand with them and commend them to your care. Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, we pray for the carers in hospitals and in homes and for all who serve the needs of others.
May the example of living compassion Inspire us in our care for others. Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, you know the depths of our heart and the fears which are ours. Speak into the depths of our heart and calm our fears. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Good Shepherd, you know us by our name and our identity is not hidden from you. Gather us to yourself as a shepherd gathers the sheep, that we might know your Name.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Amen.

Prayer for peacemakers

Gracious Lord,
we dream of a world free of poverty and oppression,
and we yearn for a world free of vengeance and violence.
we pray for your peace.
When our hearts ache for the victims of war and oppression,
help us to remember that you healed people simply by touching them…,
and give us faith in our ability to comfort and heal bodies and minds and spirits that have been broken by violence.
When the injustice of this world seems too much for us to handle, help us to remember that you fed five thousand people with only five loaves of bread and two fish…,
and give us hope that what we have to offer will turn out to be enough, too.
When fear of the power and opinions of others tempts us not to speak up for the least among us, help us to remember that you dared to turn over the tables of money changers…,
and give us the courage to risk following you without counting the cost.
When we feel ourselves fill with anger at those who are violent and oppressive, help us remember that you prayed for those who killed you…, and give us compassion for our enemies, too.
When we tell ourselves that we have given all we can to bring peace to this world, help us to remember your sacrifice… ,
and give us the miracle of losing a little more of ourselves
in serving you and our neighbours. Walk with us, Lord, as we answer your call to be peacemakers.
Increase our compassion, our generosity and our hospitality for the least of your children. Give us the courage, the patience, the serenity, the self-honesty and the gentleness of spirit that are needed in a world filled with turmoil and terror. Amen.
(written by Jack Knox, pastor of Salem (Oregon) Mennonite Church)

A prayer for children

As a tickle teased
As a hurt hugged
As a giggle shared
As a stomach filled
As a hand held
As a tear smoothed,
Bring peace to your little ones Gentle God
As a world loved
As a life lived
As a child cherished.
Amen

Lord’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. You will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.
Amen.

A Celtic Blessing

The deep peace of the powerful wave be with you,
The deep peace of the air that moves be with you,
The deep peace of the water that flows be with you,
The deep peace of the silent land be with you,
The deep peace of the shining stars be with you,
The deep peace of the Creator,
Redeemer and the Spirit of Peace be with you.
Amen

Make me a channel olf your peace

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Friday 8th May – VE Day

VE Day

INTRODUCTION

Today we commemorate the seventy fifth anniversary of VE Day – the end of hostilities in Europe. The last ‘bombing raid’ of the war was a V2 rocket attack near Iwade in Kent on 29 March 1945. The last major German air raid on a Scottish City was in Aberdeen where on April 1943, 29 German bomber planes killed 125 people. It is also thought the last civilian casualty in Scotland was a farmer’s wife from Fraserburgh who managed to survive being hit by falling slate after a bomb exploded near her house. (No precise date for when this happened.) It was also off the Aberdeenshire coast when on April 21st, 1945 saw one of the final air battles of the war. So as we remember the past, it is our joyful privilege to celebrate the freedoms we enjoy, the defeat of evil and commemorate all who suffered and sacrificed to make this seventy fifth anniversary possible.

Rev Sean Swindells
Cruden Parish Church

Extracts from Winston Churchill’s speech of 8 May 1945

Yesterday morning at 2:41 a.m. at Headquarters, General Jodl, the representative of the German High Command, and Grand Admiral Doenitz, the designated head of the German State, signed the act of unconditional surrender of all German Land, Sea, and Air Forces in Europe to the Allied Expeditionary Force, and simultaneously to the Soviet High Command.
Hostilities will end officially at one minute after midnight to-night (Tuesday, May 8), but in the interests of saving lives the “Cease fire” began yesterday to be sounded all along the front, and our dear Channel Islands are also to be freed to-day. The German war is therefore at an end. After years of intense preparation, Germany hurled herself on Poland at the beginning of September,1939; and, in pursuance of our guarantee to Poland and in agreement with the French Republic, Great Britain, the British Empire and Commonwealth of Nations, declared war upon this foul aggression. After gallant France had been struck down we, from this Island and from our united Empire, maintained the struggle single-handed for a whole year until we were joined by the military might of Soviet Russia, and later by the overwhelming power and resources of the United States of America. We may allow ourselves a brief period of rejoicing; but let us not forget for a moment the toil and efforts that lie ahead. We must now devote all our strength and resources to the completion of our task, both at home and abroad. Advance, Britannia! Long live the cause of freedom! God save The King.

BIBLE READINGS

Isaiah 40: 31

Those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary they shall walk and not faint.

Micah 4.1-4

In days to come
the mountain of the Lord’s house
shall be established as the highest of the mountains,
and shall be raised up above the hills.
Peoples shall stream to it,
and many nations shall come and say:
‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.’
For out of Zion shall go forth instruction,
and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He shall judge between many peoples,
and shall arbitrate between strong nations far away;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war anymore;
but they shall all sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees,
and no one shall make them afraid;
for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.

From the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland - Rt Rev Colin Sinclair

“It is too easy to get so focused on the impact of Coronavirus that we forget other important aspects of life and of our history.

"This week we mark the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. Although there are increasingly few veterans of that War still alive, the world we live in was shaped by the outcome of the Second World War.

“When it happened, while the war in the Far East still had three terrible months to run, the nation rightly celebrated the ending of a conflict in which so many both military and civilians suffered.
“The hope and prayer then, and still is today, was that war would be consigned to history and the nations would work together to build a better world in days of peace.

“For that we still work and pray, but on VE Day we pray and remember.”

Prayer for the 75th Anniversary of VE Day

Trusting the promises of God,
and with faith in his mercy,
let us pray to the Lord
on this the 75th Anniversary of VE Day

Let us pray.

Let us give thanks
for the selfless and courageous service and
sacrifice of those who brought peace to Europe,
and for the good example they have given us.

Silence

Let us pray for nations still devastated by war,
for their people and their leaders,
and for those who suffer
the effects or memories of past wars;
for veterans,
for those who mourn,
and for all innocent victims
whose lives have been shattered
by the cruelty of others.

Silence

Let us give thanks for those
who work for peace and liberty
throughout the world,
for the Armed Forces of the Crown,
and for all who strive
to bring an end to injustice and oppression.

Silence

Let us pray for those in our own day
who have grown weary or lost hope
as a result of violence or terror;
for all refugees and displaced people,
and for those who seek to address
the causes of discord and distrust.

Silence

Let us give thanks
for the reconciliation of former enemies,
for the flourishing of goodwill between them,
and for the many blessings we enjoy
as a result of the sacrifices
which have made for peace.

Silence

Let us pray for the young people
of our own day
and for all who will shape
the future of this nation,
that they may be inspired
by those who have gone before them
to serve as they have been served.

Silence

As generations before us fought for peace,that the world might never again know
such violence and destruction. may we work for peace and reconciliation
in our homes and communities,
and promote peace throughout the world.

Silence

As they fought for justice,
that the scourge of prejudice and oppression
might never again take root in our societies
may we work for a world
in which hatred and injustice
never have the final word,
and where all people
can flourish with dignity and hope.

Silence

As they struggled
so that the whole human family
might know good will, security, and freedom.
may we always acknowledge
how precious are the gifts
which God has entrusted to us,
and exercise the freedoms
and responsibilities we have
with gratitude and humility.

Silence

Prayer of Commitment

So we pledge ourselves to serve you
and all humankind, in the cause of peace,
for the relief of want and suffering,
and for the praise of your name.
May almighty God, who has given us
the will to undertake these things,
bless us with the strength to perform them.
Guide us by your Spirit;
give us wisdom; give us courage;
give us hope;
and keep us faithful now and always.
Amen.

Prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola

Dearest Lord,
teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve You as You deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and not to ask for reward
save that of knowing I am doing Your Will.
Amen

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. You will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.
Amen.

National Anthem

God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen.

BLESSING

God grant to the living grace,
to the departed rest,
to the Church, the Queen, the
Commonwealth
unity, peace and concord,
and to us and all God’s servants,
life everlasting.
And the blessing of God Almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you all
and remain with you always.
Amen

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Thursday 7th May

‘Deliver us from evil’

by Rev Sean Swindells
Cruden Parish Church

REFLECTION

Tomorrow is the 75th Anniversary of VE Day. Due to Covid19 the commemoration of such a historic event will now take place indoors on the TV or online via the internet. No local events or services of thanksgiving. There is much that can be said here. VE Day was not just about the end of fighting in Europe. It marked the end of one of the most depraved and evil ideologies in history, which included extreme antisemitism on an industrial scale. There is no doubt that National Socialism was thoroughly and utterly evil and had to be stopped.

Several years ago, I was speaking with an elder in the church where I was minister. He talked about what it was like to grow up during the war. For some children it was an exciting but dangerous time, such as hiding away during an air raid or having to run for their lives as being machine gunned by a German bomber on their way home from school. But this elder, told me something that I found intriguing. He spoke not just of the rationing etc., but a continual awareness of a strong and pervading sense of spiritual evil.

Of course such experiences are very subjective. Whilst genuine spiritual experiences are always ‘given’ and are part of authentic religion, they are more about confirming what we believe rather than creating new doctrines. For example, the apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:12 writes: ‘For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.’

BIBLE READIUNG

Ephesians 6:10 - 20

The Armour of God

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. 19 Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

REFLECT

Very occasionally the veil is pulled back and we are given insight to the spiritual reality that surrounds us. Whilst there is a need for caution and balance, it also reminds us that Christian faith is a struggle against evil in all its forms, irrespective of how it is manifested.
Think about the different forms of evil that exist within our community & nation.
How should we respond to these different forms of evil? Is it a case of polite indifference, or are we called to resist through social action and prayer?
Give thanks to God that in Jesus Christ that evil is not just quenched but overthrown and defeated and we await the day of the coming of God’s Kingdom when love shall reign supreme.

PRAYERS

Continue to remember all who are affected by Covid19, pray that God would heal our land, and renew His church Prayers

in a time of coronavirus

Love never fails
Even in the darkest moments, love gives hope.
Love compels us to fight against coronavirus alongside our sisters and brothers living in poverty.
Love compels us to stand together in prayer with our neighbours near and far.
Love compels us to give and act as one.
A prayer for times of isolation
‘For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come… will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.’ (Romans 8:38-39)
God of heaven and earth,
in these times of isolation,
apart from loved ones
distant from friends
away from neighbours
thank you that there is nothing
in all of creation,
not even coronavirus,
that is able to separate us from your love.
And may your love that never fails
continue to be shared
through the kindness of strangers
looking out for each other,
for neighbours near and far
all recognising our shared vulnerability,
each of us grateful for every breath,
and willing everyone to know the gift
of a full and healthy life.
Keep us all in your care.
Amen.

A prayer for medical workers everywhere

Restoring and healing God,
thank you for medical workers everywhere,
embodying sacrificial love in these challenging times
putting the welfare of others before their own
staying away from their family and loved ones
comforting the concerned and bereaved
reassuring the anxious and vulnerable
working to heal and restore people who are ill.
Be their guide, strength, wisdom and hope.
We pray for those in authority to do right by them
for proper protective equipment to be provided
and for their dedication to be met with much gratitude
and appreciation when they return home, exhausted.
And we pray for medical workers around the world,
where resources and protective equipment
are always in short supply, not only now but always.
May these extraordinary times
lead to deep and necessary changes in how our world works,
resulting in a genuine effort to address the profound injustice
of life expectancy being determined by geography,
to awaken us all to the reality of how connected we all are
and to work together to create the community and world
we all want to be part of.
So help us, God,
Amen.

A prayer for a global pandemic

‘Love…bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things.
Love never ends.’
(1 Corinthians 13:7-8)

Loving God,
strengthen our innermost being
with your love that bears all things
even the weight of this global pandemic
even the long haul of watching for symptoms
of patiently waiting for this to pass
watching and waiting,
keeping our gaze fixed on you,
and looking out for our neighbours
near and far.
Instil in our shaken souls
the belief and hope that all things
are possible with your creative love
for strangers to become friends
for science to source solutions
for resources to be generously shared
so everyone, everywhere, may have what they need
for your perfect love that knows no borders
may cast out any fear and selfishness that divides.
May your love that never ends
be our comfort, strength and guide
for the wellbeing of all and
the glory of God.
Amen.

A prayer for the church

May your love that never fails
strengthen the weak
encourage the fearful
calm the anxious
heal the sick
through your church –
your washed hands
and feet on earth –
distant but still present
virtual but still connected
apart but still helping.
God in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
Amen.

The prayer that Jesus taught us

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. You will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.

BLESSING

May the Father’s hand
keep you from stumbling,
the footprints of Jesus
give you confidence to follow,
and the fire of the Spirit
keep you warm and safe
in your walk with God this day.
Amen

Be thou my vision

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Wednesday 6th May 2020

‘Loose talk can cost lives’

REFLECTION

This Friday we celebrate 75 years since VE day – the end of the Second World War in Europe. (More about VE day tomorrow and Friday.) One of the oft repeated phrases of the war years was ‘Loose talk can cost lives.’ It was a reminder that sensitive information discussed in public could get into the wrong hands and be used by the enemy. It also warmed people about the dangers of gossip and rumour and misinformation. I got a taste from this during my time in the military. We were on exercise near Campbelltown, based at what was RAF Machrihanish. The terrorist attacks of 9/11 had happened only two weeks before. There were a number of different units involved including armoured reconnaissance, signals and infantry, supported by RAF Tornado fighters and Chinook and Gazelle helicopters. My unit was there to provide medical cover.

Memories of the time include flying over the Mull of Kintyre at low level in a Chinook and a couple of sections getting lost. You can imagine the embarrassment when a convoy of military vehicles pulled up at a farmhouse to ask directions. I was asked to offer a thought for the day on the local radio station. But he most amusing event came from the locals. The existence of a large military exercise so close to the tragic attacks of 9/11 gave rise to the rumour that we were training prior to the invasion of Afghanistan. The gossip mongers of Campbelltown were apparently having a field day!

In the current context of the lockdown due to Covid19, the phrase ‘Loose talk costs lives’ has regretfully become a reality. Rumours about ways of preventing transmission, or curing the disease or playing down the importance of social isolation have been finding a willing audience of social media. There have been all manner conspiracy theories. Even some fringe churches have got in on the act with a church in London selling so called Plague Protection Kits and a church in Miami marketing its “Master Mineral Solution,” as a treatment for countless diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, autism, brain cancer, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis and COVID-19. When tested federal authorities the solution is actually chlorine dioxide used as an industrial cleaner for swimming pools.

The point here is that gossip, hearsay, rumours and anecdotes are not the same as facts. Social media is great for catching up with people, but is not a reliable source of factual information. And how many lives have been lost by the failure to discount reliable advice like social distancing and half- baked theories and so called miracle cures. These are far more prevalent that most people imagine.

BIBLE READING

2 Timothy 4

4 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: 2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
6 For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.

REFLECT

In this passage note the contrast between ‘itching ears’ and sound doctrine.
Does it matter what you believe or is sound doctrine important?
Why should we, to the best of our ability, seek out a balanced and informed faith in God?

Rev Sean Swindells
Cruden Parish Church

Prayer

A prayer for those affected by Corona Virus

Lord, we are those who journey.
And who find that journey hard today.
We are those who journey.
And long to find our hope renewed.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Lord, whether in our own company or with companions beside us,
We journey on.
Whether sure, or unsure, as to our journey’s end,
Come beside us through the risen Lord.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Lord, we pray for others;
For carers of the living and of the dying;
For the bereaved and for the anxious;
For those fearing loss of work and of business.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Lord, we pray for scientists and researchers;
For those seeking to understand the challenge we face;
For those creating potential vaccines;
For those advising decision-makers.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Lord, we pray for those who shape our common life:
In local Councils and in Scottish Government.
And in the Government of the United Kingdom.
Grant to them wisdom, compassion and understanding.
Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.
Lord, we pray for your Kingdom to come.
And for your will to be done,
On earth.
As it is in heaven.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.
Amen.

A prayer for sound faith

Let there be no gap between us and Christ.
For if there is any gap, immediately we perish.
For the building stands because it is cemented together.
Let us not then merely keep hold of Christ,
but let us be cemented to him.
Let us cleave to him by our works.
He is the head, we are the body.
He is the foundation, we the building.
He is the vine, we the branches.
He is the bridegroom, we the bride.
He is the shepherd, we the sheep.
He is the way, we walk in it.
Again, we are the temple, he the indweller.
He is the only begotten, we the brothers and sisters.
He is the heir, we the heirs together with him.
He is the life, we the living.
He is the resurrection, we those who rise again.
He is the light, we the enlightened.
Amen

~ from Homilies on First Corinthians, St. John Chrysostom (4th century).

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. You will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever.
Amen.

BLESSING

May the grace of God uphold you,
the peace of God surround you,
the love of God flow from you
and the strength of God protect
and bring you safely through this day.
Amen

My Jesus My Saviour

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Tuesday 5th May 2020

‘The Serenity Prayer’

REFLECTION

One of the most popular Christian prayers was written by the American Theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. The first reference to his prayer appeared in 1932, with several versions then printed in newspaper articles. In 1940, the full version finally appeared in a print. During the Second World War the prayer was circulated amongst members of the armed forces. This is how it goes:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Amen.

The prayer of course is a masterpiece. It speaks directly to the heart and into the depths of human experience. It is a petition for grace and courage, wisdom and discernment. And note what the prayer does not say. It does not attribute sin, hardship and suffering to God.

BIBLE READING

Psalm 139

For the director of music. Of David. A psalm.

1 You have searched me, LORD,
    and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, LORD, know it completely.
5 You hem me in behind and before,
    and you lay your hand upon me.
6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too lofty for me to attain.
7 Where can I go from your Spirit?
    Where can I flee from your presence?
8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast.
11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me
    and the light become night around me,”
12 even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.
13 For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts,[a] God!
    How vast is the sum of them!
18 Were I to count them,
    they would outnumber the grains of sand—
    when I awake, I am still with you.
19 If only you, God, would slay the wicked!
    Away from me, you who are bloodthirsty!
20 They speak of you with evil intent;
    your adversaries misuse your name.
21 Do I not hate those who hate you, LORD,
    and abhor those who are in rebellion against you?
22 I have nothing but hatred for them;
    I count them my enemies.
23 Search me, God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me,
    and lead me in the way everlasting.

 

REFLECT

As the lockdown continues and we continue to have our lives controlled by Covid19, there are glimmers of hope beginning to emerge. We are not there yet, but the numbers of people dying are thankfully beginning to decline. Soon the lockdown will be eased and community life can begin again.
In the current situation, what are the things out with your control?
How do you feel about these?
What can you do to change things?

PRAYERS

Continue to remember all who are effected by Covid 19 – give thanks for those who serve, those who are fearful and anxious, and those who grieve and mourn.

Prayer for the renewal of the church and revival of faith in our land.

Pray the Serenity Prayer (above).

Take your time.

Pause and reflect over each sentence.

Let the words sink in.

Feel God extending his healing love to the deepest recesses of your heart, permeating every memory of hurt and pain, speaking peace to your anxieties and fears, surrounding with grace as your journey through this day.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. 
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever. 
Amen.

BLESSING

May the grace of God uphold you,
the peace of God surround you,
the love of God flow from you
and the strength of God protect
and bring you safely through this day.
Amen

Hymn: Amazing grace

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Monday 4 May 2020

The Reflection today is by Fred Coutts

kite surfing

I once tried windsurfing but despite several attempts over a week, I never did manage to stand up.  That experience has given me admiration for the kitesurfers you can see at Cruden Bay, zooming and leaping over the waves.  It was a windy day, the spray and the sand were blowing, not the most pleasant day for a walk along the beach.  But for the kitesurfers it was a day made in heaven….and for the photographer, safe at Port Erroll Harbour.

I have read that the fishermen of old who plied their trade in sailing boats from Port Erroll Harbour dreaded an on-shore gale.  The entrance to the harbour was narrow and guarded by rocks.  The right angle turn into the safety of the harbour was hard with only wind power take you in.

You can’t control the wind, and it can be destructive.  But if you can capture it in the billowing sail of a yacht or in a kite, then you have more power at your disposal that you could ever imagine.   A threat has become an opportunity;  and what an opportunity!

My abortive attempts at windsurfing have confirmed that you cannot just climb on board a surfboard, let the wind catch your kite and hope for the best.  No – there will be many occasions when you find yourself underwater, reaching for your board and swimming back to shore, before you try again.  But when you do master the skill, when you do catch the wind, you will find yourself in an exhilarating rush, and leap over the waves.

The winds of pandemic have changed the way we live our lives.  The destructive power of the virus seems beyond measure.  The safe security of our church life has suddenly changed and we do not know when we will be able to gather together in church again.  But the church is alive through its faithful people seeking to find new ways  to be the church in these stormy times.  The challenge is not to let our present situation overwhelm us so that we sink, but to try to find ways to catch the wind of opportunity that God is giving us.

I feel the winds of God today;
today my sail I lift,
though heavy oft with drenching spray
and torn with many a rift;
if hope but light the water’s crest,
and Christ my bark will use,
I’ll seek the seas at his behest,
and brave another cruise.

Jessie Adams  (1863-1954)

BIBLE READINGS

John 3: 8

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Matthew 7: 24-27

The wise and foolish builders

24 Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.

REFLECT

What is your rock?
What opportunities for spiritual growth is God giving us in these troubled times?
How can we capture and use the newfound spirit of care and neighbourliness that is growing among us?

PRAYERS

Locked in we may be, but we look out of our windows
and wonder at the beauty of your creation
with all its colour, green and yellow and blue and red.
Looking out we give you thanks.

Earth and sea and sky in a harmony of colour -
we feel the eternal seeping through the physical,
the everlasting glory dipping into time, our time.
Looking out we give you thanks.

In our mind’s eye we see swift running tides,
white spray flying from the waves,
white clouds scudding across the sky
Your Spirit moving on the waters, and in our very being.
Looking out we give you thanks.

In our mind’s eye we see men and women,
straying from your way, going their own way,
living in a world that is far from your creation which is good.
But you point us all to a new way,
and hold out your hand to us in love and forgiveness.

Looking out we see Jesus in the world
locked in with us,
sharing our pain,
offering us hope,
calling us back.
Looking out we give you thanks.

In our minds eye we see people in pain and need today -
those weakened by illness,
those crippled by anxiety,
those carrying the burden of bereavement,
those feeling confined and helpless,
those feeling lonely.
Looking out we lift them up to you.

In our minds eye we see those who strive to help a world cope with the present crisis -
medical, nursing and care staff at the very front line,
politicians looking for the right way forward,
researchers searching for drugs and vaccines,
volunteers bringing help to those in special need.
Looking out we lift them up to you.

We don’t need our minds eye to think of relatives and friends from whom we are separated.
There are photographs on our walls or on our phones.
Looking at them now we lift them up to you.

In our minds eye we see Sean our minister,
leading us in prayer, reflection and worship as he sitsinb front of his computer.
We see him reaching out to the people in our parish on the telephone.
We see him standing outside front doors holding flowers.
We see him walking his dogs and reflecting on the beauty of God’s creation
and God's purpose for this time.
Looking out we lift Sean and Alison up to you.

Looking in we reflect on what future God holds out for us
and what power he can provide for us.
Looking in we lay our lives before you.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 
Give us today our daily bread. 
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. 
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil. 
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever. 
Amen.

BLESSING

Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.

"Spirit of God unseen as the wind"    sung at Stockbridge Church, Edinburgh August 2017

 

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