Cruden Parish Church

7.00pm, Sunday 28th June 2020

'The secret weapon of faith'

Cruden Parish Church


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

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


From the comfort of our homes we gather to worship. Whether through printed word, or through the gift of technology we are a community of God’s people.

In the midst of the world’s chaos
come to this place and find peace.
When your mind is overwhelmed with what you see
come to this place and find hope.
If your heart is heavy, with fear, with worry, with sorrow,
come to this place and find strength.
As you long for community in a world that is torn apart,
come to this place and find love.

Come people of God, and in this place, in this moment,
find peace, hope, strength and love,
as we worship and pray together.

Lighting of Candle & Prayer of Solidarity

“The experience of these last three months is one that will remain with us for the rest of our days. We will look back and reflect on the significance of it and undoubtedly we shall ask many questions.
“Integral to that experience for many has been the physical separation between ourselves and our family and those whom we care for. This physical distancing has been necessary in the face of the risks posed by COVID-19. As we see the easing of the restrictions on lockdown, we begin to reconnect and rediscover what it is to welcome one another and to give and receive in a social context.
“Welcoming, giving and receiving are integral to human experience and reflect something of what it is to be made in the image of God.
“In Matthew’s Gospel (10: 40-42), Jesus reflects upon this and points to the truth that in welcoming one another we potentially welcome the presence of God.
“In our welcoming of one another, let us renew the relationships that shape our social community and our communion with the living presence of God.”

(Rt. Rev. Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, Church of Scotland)

We pray together…

Living God, the God who creates,
You have made us in your image
That, in our giving and receiving,
We might better reflect your image.
For this gift we praise and thank you.
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Living God, the God who gives,
Your gift to the world
Is revealed in your Son,
The image of the invisible God.
For the renewing presence of your Son, we praise and thank you.
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Living God, the God who renews,
You call us to renew our relationships with one another
That, in so doing,
We might renew our relationship with you.
For the welcome you offer in renewal, we praise and thank you.
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Living God, the God who welcomes,
You welcome us when we return to you
Weary and heavy laden.
Receive us as we are and forgive us when we stumble.
For the love we experience as we are welcomed, we praise and thank you.
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us.

Living God, the God who loves,
You offer us good gifts
And invite us to receive them.
In response, we offer our lives and all that we are.
For the sure promise of your love, we praise and thank you.
Lord, hear us.
Lord, graciously hear us. Amen

Question: Who is the greatest movie villain of all time?


Ephesians 6: 10-24

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armour of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 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. Therefore put on the full armour 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. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
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. 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, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Tychicus, the dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will tell you everything, so that you also may know how I am and what I am doing. I am sending him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are, and that he may encourage you.
Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace to all who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

Romans 12: 1-2

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.


 'The secret weapon of faith'    

There are certain ingredients that you need for a good movie. You need a good sound track, a good script, good actors and a good director. Most important off all, you need a good baddie. You need somebody who is totally and utterly evil. Somebody whose very personality oozes with menace and malevolence. My favourite all time villain is the Cannibal, Dr Hannibal Lecture, brilliantly played by the Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins. His restrained, measured performance of a man who loves to eat his guests is just spot on. My second all-time favourite is Count Dracula, created by Bram Stoker.
On Tuesday of this week, in the morning reflection, I made reference to fact that Bram Stokers widow, Florence Balcombe, contributed to a pamphlet that was being sold to raise funds for the restoration of the church. Published back in 1913, along with a heartfelt tribute to her late husband, Florence provided a recipe for ‘Dracula Salad.’ The instructions said to “arrange alternate slices of ripe tomatoes, and ripe, purple, egg-shaped plums in a dish and dress with oil and vinegar French dressing. I haven’t tried the recipe, to be honest it doesn’t sound all that appetising. I could be wrong, but I think I’ll stick to Coleslaw.  One journalist reported how he purchased ingredients at the supermarket and even managed to ‘Count’ out the right change. He followed the recipe to the letter and concluded, ‘To my horror, it tasted terrible and I soon found myself in a coffin.’ But little I realise the recipe for Dracula Salad would get us noticed in the national press.

As we are all aware, Cruden Bay has strong connections Bram Stoker. He was a regular visitor between 1893 and 1910, taking month long holidays in cottages or staying at the Kilmarnock Arms Hotel. Stoker started writing Dracula whilst a guest at the hotel, and it is though that he drew inspiration from the now ruined Slains Castle for Dracula’s Castle. Stoker is an interesting character. He was raised as a protestant in the Church of Ireland and later attended a private school run by the Rev. William Woods.  I understand he later moved away from the mainstream Christian faith and embraced a form of mysticism called Pantheism. I also understand that during his stay in Cruden Bay Bram Stoker also fell out with the local minister.

There is a lot that can be said about Bram Stoker. Personally, it is interesting how he draws upon many threads to create Count Dracula. Drawing upon the Victorians obsession with death along with a good dose of high gothic, the image of a blood sucking Count that lives in a coffin by day and only roams during the night to drink blood, Bram Stoker created a character that has been turned into scores of scary films. Also Bram Stoker drew from elements of the ancient Jewish faith, and the Christian faith. But one final comment about Dracula. He is not a Presbyterian vampire. Dracula’s reaction to the holy water and the crucifix shows that he is not a committed Presbyterian.
So far I have talked about evil creatures that appear in the movies. Cannibals like Dr Hannibal Lecture and vampires like Count Dracula. But the reality of evil within human life is totally different. Many years ago, when I was a parish minister in Aberdeen, a sixteen-year-old committed suicide just five minutes’ walk from the church. That tragic event really shook the local community. Of course the majority of suicides come out of the blue. They are complexly unexpected and usually happen as a result of a mental illness. But the cause of this sixteen-year-old boys’ suicide wasn’t depression or some other illness. The reason that he hung himself was to stop his family from being hurt. According to information received from the police, the young boy was a drug user. He owed a great deal of money to a dealer. And the way in which dealer was trying to get his money was not by threatening the boy himself, but by threatening his family. A few days before the suicide, on the same estate – the mother of another drug addict was beaten up in the street. And even worse this terrible tragedy did not happen in a violent, drug filled city in America. Nor did it happen in a run down, crime ridden housing scheme in Glasgow. It happened in Aberdeen.

That tragic event is just one illustration of what happens when evil is allowed to take root within a community. Evil comes in many forms. All of us carry some form of brokenness in our lives and we each have made our own personal contribution to the hurt and pain of this world. There are some very evil people, like drug dealers. There is the evil that permeates within society like poverty that degrades people and institutional racism. And there is spiritual evil. Don’t ask me to explain it, but on those rare occasions when the spiritual veil is drawn back, people occasionally encounter evil.
But for all the evil and injustice, there is another force at work in the universe – a force that is greater and more powerful. A force that creates and makes all things new. A force that brings forgiveness and restoration. A force that brings healing and joy. This is the secret weapon of our faith. I am speaking here about the power of God’s love. This is how we confront the deception of the enemy. This is how we tear down strong holds of evil. In 1 Thessalonians 5:15 the apostle Paul writes:
See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people.

In the act of not responding to evil with evil, we undermine the devils work and we help build God’s kingdom. Desmond Tutu once wrote: Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” "Good is stronger than evil; love is stronger than hate; light is stronger than darkness; life is stronger than death. Victory is ours, through him who loves us."
So this is message tonight. We may not be able to stop the local drug dealers, but we can make a difference. So don’t repay evil with evil. Don’t respond to aggressive people with aggression. Don’t respond to gossipy people who stir things up, with even more gossip. Don’t respond to awkard and difficult people by being awkard and difficult. Don’t respond to slander with slander. Rather earth you in the love of Jesus Christ. Let truth be on your lips. And the hardest thing of all – forgive the people who have wronged you. Forgive the people who have hurt you. Forgive the people who have insulted you. Forgive the people who have abused your truth. When we do these hard, difficult and emotionally painful things, we stop evil in its tracks.

One final thought. A few years ago there was a farmer in a midwest of America in who had a strong dislike for "religious" things. As he ploughed his field on Sunday morning, he would shake his fist and shout out insults at the people who passed by on their way to church. October came and the farmer had his finest crop ever--the best in the entire county. When the harvest was complete, he placed an advertisement in the local paper, which mocked the Christians for their faith in God. Near the end of his diatribe he wrote, "Faith in God must not mean much if someone like me can prosper." The response from the Christians in the community was quiet, measured and polite. In the next edition of the town paper, a small ad appeared. It read simply, "God doesn't always settle His accounts in October." It is God and God alone who will settle his account with the powers of evil. It is God is in ultimate control. There is strength in his promises and he promises that only love is stronger than evil, but that his word, will be the last word.

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.


Prayer of Praise

King of the poor to whom belongs the kingdom of heaven,
we thank you for your mercy
and praise you for your enduring love.
King of the sorrowful who experience a comfort this world cannot give,
we thank you for your mercy
and praise you for your enduring love.
King of the meek, who are destined to inherit the earth,
we thank you for your mercy
and praise you for your enduring love.
King of the hungry and thirsty to whom are given heavenly bread and wine,
we thank you for your mercy
and praise you for your enduring love.
King of the merciful who receive far more than they ever give or expect,
we thank you for your mercy
and praise you for your enduring love.
King of the pure of heart, who see God where others see wilderness and despair,
we thank you for your mercy
and praise you for your enduring love.
King of the peacemakers, who receive the right to be called children of God,
we thank you for your mercy
and praise you for your enduring love.
King of persecuted believers,
who rejoice to be counted worthy of suffering for Christ’s sake,
we thank you for your mercy
and praise you for your enduring love.
Thanks be to you, God of Christ our Wounded King,
for everything he has taught us,
for the humble path he has shown us,
and for all he has suffered for us and the whole world.
For yours in the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.

We pray for the people around us in this world, and then for ourselves.

Holy Friend, in theory we know you love each one of us. Teach our hearts how much you really do love every other sinner on this planet; not just the believers but also the unbelievers, not just good folk but also the very bad.

Receive our prayers for the many kindly people we meet each week: At work and in the street, at sport and at the theatre, in service organisations, committees, and agencies that fight for the rights of the needy and exploited.
Bless them with the love they need,
and deliver us all from evil.

Receive our prayers for the many awkward people we meet: The painfully shy, the prickly characters, those who are always complaining, the quick tempered and those who don’t seem to be aware when their words and actions hurt others.
Bless them with the love they need,
and deliver us all from evil.

Receive our prayers for the people we thoroughly dislike: The manipulators who try to use us, the loud-mouthed whose language disgusts us, the greedy who are out to cheat us, the strong who try to bully us, the cruel whose deeds horrify us, and the “low-life” whose life-style revolts us.
Bless them with the love they need,
and deliver us all from evil.

Receive our prayers for the people who are easy to like and love: The generous ones, the folk who keep their good humour when under pressure, those who volunteer for the difficult tasks, those who bear no grudges and all who maintain integrity when others are being devious.
Bless them with the love they need,
and deliver us all from evil.

Receive our prayers for those who dislike us: One-time friends who turn against us, folk at work who make things unpleasant, relatives who try to put us down, neighbours who make a nuisance of themselves, and those types who go out of their way to ridicule Christians.
Bless them with the love they need,
and deliver us all from evil.

Receive our prayers for all who are miserable today: Any who suffer from depression or acute anxiety, any who have just received bad news about their health, people who have been spurned by a loved one, the many who are hungry or homeless, those imprisoned for crimes they did not commit, the drug addicts who can’t break free, the dying and the grieving who have no one to comfort them.
Bless them with the love they need,
and deliver us all from evil.

Holy Friend, please may the hands of Christ be upon of all these people, and on the millions whose misery is far beyond our knowledge. Lead this world away from all that is maimed and maiming, from all that is degraded and degrading. Hasten the day when we shall walk in the Promised Land where Christ’s love and joy is everywhere. In his name and for your glory. 


In a time of quiet let us remember:

Those effected by Covid-19

And let us bring before God the unspoken prayers of our hearts…

Lift us up to the heights, Holy One, so we may again catch a glimpse
of the vast possibilities of your Shalom even as we pray for it here on earth.


The 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.



Go on your way
for you and we
are God's children.

Get yourself out of this sacred place,
pushed by the Spirit who blows when and where he will,
making all places sacred.

Go also to do some sleeping and resting,
anticipating tomorrow,
which will be another day
of God's wonderful surprises
and God's true successes.

And may God give you the strength and freedom of an eagle.
May Christ be the bread that nourishes and renews you.
And may the Holy Spirit be the rising wind beneath your wings.
We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
In the name of Christ.

Church Notices

Although there are signs that the conditions of the lockdown are being eased, the church building continues to remain closed for services and gatherings. Once we move to stage 3 of easing the lockdown, we may be in a position to hold open air services or within the church building subject to social distancing etc. In the meantime, all our activities are currently on-line:

Music & Singing Many thanks for the encouraging feedback on our evening services. Some of you have requested music and singing. I have discussed this in depth with Stephen our organist and we both feel that with the present limitations with broadband result in live music coming over as very distorted. If we find a way around this, we are more than happy to include hymns!

Study and Discussion Group @ Tuesday evening at 7.00 pm. This week we begin a new study looking at Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians. No previous knowledge is expected or required. Everyone welcome.

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)