Daily Devotional reflections

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

Thursday 16th July 2020


 ‘Crisis and dislocation’

At the time of writing, life is very slowly beginning to return to a vestige of normality.  One of the most welcome developments is the ability to travel and enjoy the countryside. Here in Aberdeenshire we are spoilt for choice. Yesterday morning I was able to walk the length of Cruden Bay beach – a round trip of 5/6 k and lingered at the far end watching the antics of seals and an Artic Tern dive bombing the water looking for a midday snack. However, not all of Aberdeenshire is so serene. There are some exposed sea cliffs that pose a serious danger for those who wander too close to the edge.
Further inland there are some serious hills and mountains like Lochnagar. A recently news headline spoke of the dangers of the so called Black Spout, which provides an energetic scramble up the Northern Corrie onto the summit. The remains of last winter’s snow have captured some large boulders, which threaten to come loose as the remnants of snow gradually thaws. The boulders present a serious threat to life for those who would attempt the scramble.

Bible Reading

Acts 9: 1-9

Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”
The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.


We often assume that the spiritual life is gentle and serene. And rightly so. Our experience of the presence of God tends to be a welcomed intrusion into our lives. They are gentle, comforting and affirming encounters. Here we are reminded that God’s dealings with us are flavoured with grace and love.  That faith is a gentle and subtle influence within our lives. But sometimes there are occasions when God’s intervention is more direct and confrontational, when He tells us a lot more that we really want to hear. This is especially true when comes to deep rooted sin. If we are serious about knowing Jesus, following Him and serving Him, there has to be a deep inner healing within our lives. It can be a painful and searing process by which God forges depth of character so the fruit of the Holy Spirit can take root within our lives.
On the Damascus Road, Saul the Pharisee encountered God in a very direct and confrontational way. The energy of the event is captured in the famous painting ‘Conversione di Saulo Odescalchi’ by the Italian artist Caravaggio. Painted in 1600, a biographer Helen Langdon describes the style of Conversion as "an odd blend of Raphael and clumsy rustic realism," but notes how the composition, with its jagged shapes and irrational light which licks out details for their dramatic impact, creates "a sense of crisis and dislocation [in which] Christ disrupts the mundane world."
This crisis and dislocation was not simply Saul being presented with a new picture of God, or an alternative spiritual revelation. Rather it was an expression of anger, love and judgment. For Saul to be fit for his work as a Christian Apostle, the old had to give way to the new. His clumsy anger and zeal had to be refined and redirected, not by a gentle heart-warming inner experience, but full-blown confrontation in the hands of an angry and righteous God.
What personal experience or situation led to your own personal spiritual growth?
Was it a combination of being disturbed but affirmed?

Rev Sean Swindells
Cruden Parish Church


Come, living God,
and complete the special work of love
which you began in Jesus of Nazareth.
Many are cast down with spiritual needs,
thirsting for the peace of your forgiveness
and the warmth of your healing love.
Come to them with the grace they desperately need.
At evening or midnight, morning or midday,

Come, Lord Jesus.
Many are in despair through physical hardship,
seeking relief from their burdens
and hope in the midst of their cares.
Come to them with the help they desperately need.
At evening or midnight, morning or midday,
Come, Lord Jesus.
Many have minds and souls filled with hatred,
lives shackled by prejudice and terrible obsession
in Northern Ireland, the Middle East, Africa,
South America, Asia, and in our own nation.
Come to them with the conversion they so desperately need.
At evening or midnight, morning or midday,

Come, Lord Jesus.
Your church in all the world also needs saving
from everything that threatens its mission.
Where it is persecuted, keep it faithful.
Where it persecutes, rebuke it.
Where it is seduced by affluence, shake it to its foundations.
Where it is self-satisfied, thoroughly unsettle it.
Where it is weak, poor, and meek, bless it with your joy, peace and strength.

At evening or midnight, morning or midday,
Come, Lord Jesus.
Come, living God,
and complete your work in Jesus Christ,
through whom we offer these prayers.

(Bruce Prewer, altered)

In our prayers today, let us remember…
The people in our communities who are in need of personal awareness and knowledge of God
The people we love, especially those going through difficult times.
The people we do not know, whose suffering is silent and unknown.
The church - as we begin prepare and plan to reopen that it will not be a return to buisness as usual, but more attuned to God.
Ourselves – for a closer walk with Jesus

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
you will be done,
on earth as 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.


So now we leave this space of worship
And while so much of the road ahead is uncertain,
the path constantly changing,
we know some things that are as solid and sure
as the ground beneath our feet,
and the sky above our heads.
We know God is love.
We know Christ’s light endures.
We know the Holy Spirit this there,
found in the space between all things,
closer to us than our next breath,
binding us to each other,
until we meet we again,
Go in peace.