Cruden Parish Church
Sunday 17th May 2020
7.00 pM

‘On-line evening service’


Whilst the church building is closed and all our activities have ceased due to the lockdown caused by Covid19, Cruden Parish Church has moved online. This evening we meet for our fourth online service. Wherever you are from, local or far away, you are welcome here!

Please feel free to join in the responses printed in bold and italic. We would also appreciate if you keep all background noise and conversation to an absolute minimum

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. Today, in these times, we pray that we may sense Christ’s guiding presence:

(Lighting of a candle)

Let us pray: (All)

Living God, you are our Creator and our Maker
And the very breath of life is given as your gift.
We thank you for the gift of life
And we embrace and treasure that gift.

Living God, you are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
Whose presence in the world reveals your love for us.
In the giving of your Son,
You reveal the depths of your love.

Living God, your Son embraced the Cross
And the depths of human suffering.
We thank you that you delivered him
On the day of Resurrection.

Living God, as you spoke to the bereft and the orphaned in days past,
Speak to the bereft and the orphaned in days present.
Speak to the uncertain and the anxious.
Speak into the depths of our incomprehension and fear.

Living God, your promise
Is that we will not be left alone to face the world.
We thank you that through the gift of your Spirit
That promise is fulfilled.

Living God, be with all who sustain our common life at this time,
Carers and nurses, cleaners and porters,
Doctors and ambulance staff, delivery drivers and posties.
Through their giving our common life is sustained.

Living God, as you have watched over us in the past,
Watch over us in the present.
As once more we thank you, that through Christ
And by your Holy Spirit, we are not alone.

Question: What is the most challenging situation you have ever face?

Bible Readings  (Mr Bob Foreman)

Proverbs 3:1–15

My son, do not forget my teaching,
but keep my commands in your heart,
2 for they will prolong your life many years
and bring you peace and prosperity.

3 Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
4 Then you will win favour and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.

7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.

9 Honour the LORD with your wealth,
with the first fruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.

11 My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline,
and do not resent his rebuke,
12 because the LORD disciplines those he loves,
as a father the son he delights in.

13 Blessed are those who find wisdom,
those who gain understanding,
14 for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
15 She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.

John 14:1-3   

Jesus Comforts His Disciples

 1 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. 2 My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. 4 You know the way to the place where I am going.”


“Jesus is the Master of my fate, Jesus is the Captain of my soul”

This evening I would like to share two poems with you. The first poem comes from the pen of the Victorian writer William Ernest Henley. Born in 1849 William Henley did not have the easiest of lives. As you a young child he suffered from Tuberculosis and for the remainder of his life suffered the from consequences of this illness, which included the loss of a leg. He was a long-time friend of Robert Louis Stevenson, and it is thought that the one legged Henley was the inspiration behind Louis Stevenson’s most famous character – the one legged pirate, Long John Silver. 

In 1876 Henley we was yet again suffering with great pain, this time coming from his remaining leg. Seeking to avoid amputation, sought the help of a famous Edinburgh surgeon and went through several operations. He endured a long slow and painful recovery. It was lying in his hospital bed that he penned one of his known poems. It had the title ‘Invitcus’ (a Latin word which means unconquered). The poem soon became a best seller and a cultural touchstone. It epitomised British attitude of stoicism - the so called ‘stiff upper lip’ of fortitude, courage and self-disciple.


by William Ernest Henley (1849-1903)



Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.

The final verse of the poem was frequently quoted. It reads:

‘I am the Master of my fate and the Captain of my soul.’

Even today Henley’s poem remains a source of inspiration. The one person suggests, the phrase means that we have the power to become better, by engaging in productive actions and choices that will catapult us to greatness. We have the power to be of good cheers irrespective of what happens to us. We have the power to bring out the best in us and acknowledge that it lies within us the power to become contributors and change makers in life. It gives us the power back to us to know that we are the architects who can draw the map of our own lives by the way we live, the things we choose to do and how we choose to allow what is happening around us to affect our perspectives. It means it’s all about you; take responsibility of your life and don't put the  blame on anybody else.

There is a lot I can agree with here.  Nelson Mandela meditated regularly upon this poem during his incarceration in South Africa and read it to fellow prisoners. Barak Obama read the last two stanzas at a Nelson Mandela memorial service. There is a lot to be said in facing your fears and getting on with it. Sometimes, this can lead to break through and in learning and self-discovery. We discover a new depth of inner strength or uncover gifts that we never knew were there. It is incredibly satisfying to watch people grow and develop, especially in self-esteem and self-confidence.

But there is a problem. The poem sounds so brave and powerful and confident. Being Captain of your soul and Master of your future makes one feel bold, strong and invincible. Unfortunately, it lacks any semblance of reality. One American writer, Todd Connor puts it this way: ‘It sounds meaningful but is rendered meaningless. It seems powerful but is truly powerless in its mythical presumptions.’ As a very nasty and incredibly destructive virus called Covid19 has proved, we are ‘Masters of Nothing. Captains to Nowhere.’ For all our modern technology, NHS and so on, Covid 19 has reminded us all but helpless. And there is another thing we have to careful of. Being the Master of your fate and the Captain of your soul can give the illusion of being totally self-sufficient. This can make us closed to spiritual things.  Just like solid polished granite is impervious to water, so is the individual who’s become totally self-Sufficient, is impervious to the things of God.
The idea, or the myth, that you rule your own life can only lead to one of two possible outcomes. Either you will achieve all you dream of, and become one of those unbearable Trump-esque characters who cannot see their own flaws. Or you will be crushed under the weight of your own failures, realising that you’re not all you’re cracked up to be, and life is mostly out of your control. Few people realise that Jesus Christ was relentlessly critical of people who thought they could make something of themselves. He saw this as a kind of pride, and worse, a pride that feeds self-righteousness and superiority over others. In many ways Invictus is the polar opposite of what Jesus taught.

Whilst many people cling to the illusion that they are in control of their own lives, the Christian faith offers an alternative perspective. It is startling in its simplicity.  It is not the delusion of control or personal invincibility. It is love. It is love that has existed before the dawn of creation. That is the starting point of faith and the beginning of hope and the foundation of authentic worship. Instead of encouraging us to get a grip and learn self-mastery, Jesus promised that there was grace and mercy for those who see that they are failing at life, that they are emphatically not the masters of their fate, or captains of their souls. In other words, Jesus tells us that it’s okay to feel that things are not all right, that you don’t have it all together. He came for the very purpose of helping people who know their weaknesses.

The second poem was written for children and is called ‘My invisible friend.’ seeks to express the presence of God with our hearts, this poem could not be further apart from Invictus.

‘My invisible friend.’

I have a friend you cannot see
A friend that only I know,
A friend who’s with me every day
No matter where I go.

I have a friend who understands
The way I am today,
A friend who always speaks the truth,
No matter what I say.

I have a friend who’s always there
Who stays with me each day,
A friend who never runs away
With someone else to play!

I have a friend who is sent from God
Who never lets me down,
He teaches me of Jesus here
And God of heaven above.

I have a friend that loves me
Wherever I might be
He is the Holy Spirit of God
Who came and set me free


I have a friend that loves me, Wherever I might be
He is the Holy Spirit of God, Who came and set me free

There is nothing wrong with working hard at life and striving to the best, but we care not called to self-sufficiency but to grace. Todd Connor concludes: I am grateful to have found my faith in Jesus and the healing power it provides. And to have abandoned mind-numbing nonsense like Henley’s Invictus. I am not Master of my fate. Nor am I Captain of my soul. But I rest in the ONE who is.

Rev Sean Swindells
Cruden Parish Churc

Prayers for others (Led by Beatrice Fawkesd)

Come now, to this quiet place,
to this centre of calm in a busy world.
Come now, to the God
who knows your every thought,
and yet cares.

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer

Come now, to the God
who has heard your every cry,
and has suffered your hard hearts,
and yet cares.
Come now, to the God
of energy and calm;
Come now, to the God
who walks with you
and bids you rest.

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer

Now we bring our prayers for our broken world, remembering all those affect by Covid19.
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.

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer

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.

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer

 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,
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.

Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer

In a moment of silence we bring our personal prayers before God
Lord in your mercy. Hear our prayer Amen.

And we say together the prayer 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 thos 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.

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.     

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


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, includes an informal Bible Study looking at Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.
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
Pastoral Care- please advise Sean of any pastoral matters. (tel. 07791 755976)