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.

Wednesday 22nd July 2020


‘The high places II’

Since my earliest years I have always enjoyed and appreciated the outdoors. As a young child I was always out playing on my bike, building dens in the local woodland and later had great fun in the scouts learning fieldcraft. The nearby Peak District was another source of recreation. Exploring the dales of the so called ‘White Peak’ due to the limestone and the moors to the north, such as Kinder Scout, the start of the Pennine Way. I have walked the high places in Wales and England. I have walked the high alpine meadows of the Alps. I have even climbed the second highest mountain in Africa. But my all-time favourite mountains are in the highlands, especially the mountains close to the sea. There is something very special being up a mountain, looking over the coast to distant Islands.


Psalm 121
A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.


In the time of ancient Israel, the so called high places had both negative and positive connotations. Mountains were dangerous places and the paths that weaved between them were treacherous – the place of outcasts and robbers. And the high places were the scene of sacrifices to false God’s. It is against this back ground that the writer of the psalm implores us to life our eyes upwards. There is a wee nuance here that is lost in the English translation. In Hebrew, the action of lifting eyes implies the looking at something longingly or with desire. Understood in this context, the call ‘I lift my eyes to the hills or mountains’ means to raise your vision to the mountain of Zion, the mountain of God.
Also word ‘help’ or ‘assistance’ does not do the Hebrew word justice. The Hebrew word translated as help is ‘ezer which occurs twenty times in the Old Testament, often accompanied with the word shield. These occurrences suggest the reference here is to God’s divine protection. That God is not a passive observer. This is of course is one of the key themes of the psalm which presents God as guardian of Israel and stands in clear contrast to the many of the pagan gods who were frequently depicted as sleeping.
The application of the opening verse is obvious. When your world turns dark and your journey turns rugged, where do you turn for help? What is your source for the confidence you need to face the headwinds of life? To whom will you turn when confronted by eternity?

Rev Sean Swindells
Cruden Parish Church


Where whence comes our help? Our help comes from God, the Eternal One, who made heaven and earth. Let us pray.
God, you are, indeed, our help in times of need. We turn to you now, lifting up the cares and concerns in our lives and in our world, seeking your help.
Eternal One, Together we pray in faith.

We pray for those who struggle, embroiled in conflict: for nations, for families, for troubled souls. For [countries and places in turmoil or conflict], for perpetrators of violence and chaos, and for those who suffer at their hands. For those embittered by memories, and those embarrassed by shame.
Eternal One, Together we pray in faith.

We pray for those who long to rely upon your promises, who long to hold fast to the faith that you will rescue them, but who feel overwhelmed by things they cannot control, heavy with worry, drained by grief. We pray for the families of those who have died. Be their constant help. Hold them up in their time of need.
Eternal One, Together we pray in faith.

We pray for those struggling with ethical dilemmas and challenges, for those facing life-changing decisions, unsure of the path ahead. We pray for people moving away, for young adults looking for work and starting families, for children and youth facing social temptations, facing questions of identity and purpose.
Eternal One, Together we pray in faith.

We pray for those who face sickness and infirmity. Encircle them with your assuring peace and healing touch. We pray for widows and children, often voiceless and powerless, that we might be their voices persistently crying out for justice, speaking truth to power. Help us persevere and not give up, even when the outcome seems set and our efforts feel futile.
Eternal One, Together we pray in faith.

We pray for our church, for our members and visitors who come through our doors. Align our mission and purpose with yours, and grant us strength to persistently shine your light into our community.
Eternal One, Together we pray in faith.

In this moment of silence, hear the cares and concerns on our hearts. Eternal One, Together we pray in faith.

Eternal One, we lift our eyes to you, maker of heaven and earth, for it is in you that we find our help. Bless us and those for whom we pray.

(Prayer by Ana Gobledal)

In our prayers today, let us remember…
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 business as usual, but a time of spiritual renewal.
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.