Cruden Parish Church

7.00pm, Sunday 12 July 2020

Into the future

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. 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
As the lockdown is gradually eased and families begin to reconnect, we begin to look forward to the return of our normal routines and the reopening of the church for worship.  But we are not there yet. As we yearn for things to return to what they once were, in this space God is with us. Here God offers us not just a return to the past, but a vision of the future. A glimpse into the mystery of eternity and a teaser of what is to come.

Come and worship,
everyone on earth,
everywhere the sun shines,
let’s praise God together!

For listening when we call,
answering our prayers,
forgiving our mistakes,
and providing what we need:
let’s praise God together!

Come and worship,
everyone on earth,
everywhere the sun shines,
let’s praise God together!
Lighting of Candle & Prayer of Solidarity
Our human experience is shaped, in part, by our past and by our present
situation. Our identity is shaped, in part, by all that we have inherited and by
how we affirm and are affirmed in our present situation.
Over time, our experience and our identity are shaped by a multiplicity of
influences. As the people of God, our experience and our identity are shaped
by the community created by Jesus Christ and sustained and renewed by the
Holy Spirit.
Within that community, where the Spirit of God dwells, we find that our
experience and our identity are shaped, not only by past and present, but, by
the future.
As we face the future, we hear the words of Scripture within the community of
the people of God: ‘There is therefore now no condemnation for those who
are in Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 8: 1 (NRSV).
Whatever the past has been and whatever the challenges of the present are,
we are liberated to face the future
with the assurance that nothing can
separate us from the love of God.

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

We pray:

Living God, you are our Creator and our Maker.
You have made us in your image
And sustained us in past days.
Guard us and keep us as we remember those days.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God, you are our Redeemer and our Deliverer.
You reconcile all things through Christ Jesus,
The image of the invisible God.
Hold our lives in your safe keeping at this present time.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God, you are the giver of the gift of the Spirit.
You breathe into us the very breath of life
And renew us by your Holy Spirit.
Lead us into the future, through Christ and by your Spirit.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God, as you have been with us in past days,
Be with us today and in all the days to come.
Grant that we may face the future
Assured that nothing can separate us from the love of God.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Question:  What place or experience would you like to revisit?
(As the service is ‘public’ please do not share anything too intimate or deeply personal.)

Bible Reading:  Luke 57-62

As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, ‘I will follow you wherever you go.’
Jesus replied, ‘Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’
He said to another man, ‘Follow me.’
But he replied, ‘Lord, first let me go and bury my father.’
Jesus said to him, ‘Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.’
Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’
Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’


'Into the future with God'

Prop of Ythsie
I went for a walk last week up Ythsie hill near Tarves, up to the Prop of Ythsie, the monument built to commemorate Lord Aberdeen of Haddo House who was the British Prime Minister at the time of the Crimean War.  I had often seen the tower but had never taken the time to find my way up.  Now with the showers of rain past the dogs and I were able to make our way in the sunshine, up the path through the barley fields, already turning golden, up to the base of the tower.
The view was wonderful, down to Tarves and Bennachie in the distance, and in the other direction up to the place I been exploring earlier in the afternoon where my grandfather had been ‘feed’ as a horseman before the First World War.
The door to the tower was held open by a stone and there was the narrow spiral staircase inviting me to climb up for an even better view.  Sadly I decided I could not climb up.  Poppy, my little dog was keen to go, and was already up a few steps but I thought Lily the older dog with her short legs would struggle on the stairs.  I did not want to leave them tied up at the base of the tower so I had to make do with the view I had.  So it was back to the car, with the dogs running up and down the path in front of me enjoying their time on the hill.

When I got home I told Mary about where we had been and how I was not able to climb the tower. “You could have carried Lilly, she said!”  It was so obvious, but I had not thought about it and I had missed the opportunity to see over the trees which stood at the Ellon side of the tower and be able to look out towards Buchan in the distance.  My view was backwards, seeing the places round Methlick and Tarves where my mother and her brothers and sisters had lived when they were young as my grandfather moved from farm to farm each Term when he got another Fee.

My back was to the place where we are now living and where God might be wanting me to do something new, rather than reminiscing about what it was like in days gone by.   It is a danger we all face, looking backwards, rather than into the future with God.

‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’, said Jesus.  I am sure Alex Smith, my grandfather knew that, as he walked behind his pair of horses ploughing the fields at Andet.

I could have carried old Lily up the tower and the three of us could have looked into the future.  When Mary told me what I should have done I thought of the familiar words of Footprints in the Sand.  I am sure you know them.


One night a man had a dream. He dreamed he was walking along the beach with the Lord. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the Lord.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him, he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life.
This really bothered him and he questioned the Lord about it:
"Lord, you said that once I decided to follow you, you'd walk with me all the way. But I have noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life, there is only one set of footprints. I don't understand why when I needed you most you would leave me."
The Lord replied: "My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you."

We have now reached a turning point in our life with Covid-19.  Some of the restrictions are being eased and people are trying to find the confidence to look into the future and wonder what it will be like.  I am sure we are all looking back and wanting things to be the same as they once were but we know that the future is still uncertain.  We need to have the spiritual confidence to let the Lord carry us, as it were, so that we can look out to the unknown future, sure that he is with us.  That was the situation that Joshua faced as he stood on the banks of the Jordan ready to lead his people across into the promised but strange and unfamiliar land.  The words that God spoke to him ring true to me in our situation: 'Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’  (Joshua 1:9)


I have been writing daily reflections this week about some of the early saints of Scotland.  My starting point this morning was the little window by the Scottish stained glass artist William Wilson in Brechin Cathedral, depicting Columba in the coracle, making the hazardous sea crossing from Derry to Iona in 563.  The artist produced another window depicting the saint which you can see in Iona Abbey.  It was his last commission.


There are lots of Stories about Columba.  Historians will doubt some, but they are told to mark important aspects of the character of the saint.  Columba was of royal Irish blood but early in his life became a monk.  It is said that his quick temper led to a bloody battle in which many men died.  It was all to do with Columba making a secret copy for himself of a manuscript which his teacher Finbar had brought back from Rome.  Copyright infringement 6th Century!  The High King of Ireland ruled against Columba and war ensured.

Columba was so ashamed after the battle that he vowed to leave his homeland behind and go where God would take him.  So it was that he sailed from Derry with 12 companions in a coracle, eventually ending up on the eve of Pentecost 563 on Iona, beaching his craft on a little stony bay now bearing his name. 
Behind the bay is a hill which he climbed and looked back to see if he could see Ireland.  He had vowed not to settle where he could see his homeland.  The hill is called the Hill of the Back to Ireland for there was no sign of Erin’s Isle.  They buried the coracle - no going back! And looked to the future Scotland.
‘No one who puts a hand to the plough and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’ 


The view for Columba and his companions was no longer back to Ireland but forward across the Sound of Iona to Mull and into the land of the Picts.  The words of God to Joshua would have rung in his ears too, as he faced dangers on his missionary journeys.

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’ 

There are stories of an encounter with a great sea monster on Loch, Ness, and gates of the castle of Brude, the King of the Picts flying open for the Irish monks.  Just stories perhaps, but illustrations of the confidence of those who journeyed into the future with God.

The Hill of the Back to Ireland, the buried coracle - signs that the past is past.  The life of a royal prince, of a convicted criminal, and a hot-headed warrior was past and forgotten.  There were new things to do, many of them still unseen.   At the core of our gospel is that same promise to us that the mistakes of the past are behind us, for as Jesus said.

God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.  (John 3:17)

Those who spend some time, however short, on Iona often testify to the spiritual nature of the Island.  But it is not a place to stay, but to leave, refreshed and invigorated.  There once was a poster I saw pinned up in the cloisters of Iona Abbey.  It read:  “Today is the first day of the rest of your life.” 

Into the future with God!

Let the last words be words attributed to St Columba himself.

Delightful to me to be on an island hill, on the crest of a rock,
that I might often watch the quiet sea;
That I might watch the heavy waves above the bright water,
as they chant music to their Father everlastingly.
That I might watch its smooth, bright-bordered shore, no gloomy pastime,
that I might hear the cry of the strange birds, a pleasing sound;
That I might hear the murmur of the long waves against the rocks,
that I might hear the sound of the sea, like mourning beside a grave;
That I might watch the splendid flocks of birds over the well-watered sea,
that I might see its mighty whales, the greatest wonder.
That I might watch its ebb and flood in their course,
that my name should be–it is a secret that I tell–
“he who turned his back upon Ireland;”
That I might have a contrite heart as I watch,
that I might repent my many sins, hard to tell;
That I might bless the Lord who rules all things,
heaven with its splendid host, earth, ebb, and flood.

and a prayer from the Iona Community:

O God, who gave to your servant Columba
the gifts of courage, faith and cheerfulness,
and sent people forth from Iona
to carry the word of your gospel to every creature:
grant, we pray, a like spirit to your church, even at this present time.
Further in all things the purpose of our community,
that hidden things may be revealed to us,
and new ways found to touch the hearts of all.
May we preserve with each other sincere charity and peace,
and, if it be your holy will,
grant that this place of your abiding
be continued still
to be a sanctuary and a light.
Through Jesus Christ.

Psalm 63 vv 1-8 (CH4 43)

O God you are my God alone,
whom eagerly I seek,
though longing fills my soul with thirst
and leaves my body weak.
Just as a dry and barren land
awaits a freshening shower,
I long within your house to see
your glory and your power.

Your faithful love surpasses life,
evoking all my praise,
Through every day, to bless your name,
my hands in joy I’ll raise.
My deepest needs to satisfy
as with a sumptuous feast,
so on my lips and in my heart,
your praise has never ceased.

Throughout the night I lie in bed
and call you, Lord to mind;
In darkest hours I meditate
how God, my strength, is kind.
Beneath the shadow of your wing,
I live and feel secure;
And daily as I follow close,
Your right hand keeps me sure.

John L Bell


Gracious Father,
you are Lord of our beginnings and our endings and all that lies between.  We praise you: for how you have poured out upon us blessing after blessing; for how you have reached out to us; for how you have come to us; for how you have spoken to us. 

Help us to live the faith you have given us... 
Lord, hear our prayer

Loving God - we thank you for how Christ Jesus came among us and identified himself completely with us - going so far as to take upon himself our sin, our suffering, and finally our death.  Help us Lord to not hold back ourselves from identifying with him and with the church that he established.  May we indeed be united with him in his death so that we might also share in his resurrection.  Help us to commit ourselves to him and to the family he has called us to be a part of - to be members of his visible body here in this place - to be his disciples and his apostles - his evangelists and his teachers - his feet and his hands - his eyes and his ears - his light and his salt - day by day.

Help us to live the faith you have given us... 
Lord, hear our prayer

Give power to all the people of your church, O God, that your will may be done and your name be glorified.  Make us one as you are one

Help us to live the faith you have given us.
Lord, hear our prayer

Give comfort to the grieving, so that they may know your light even in the time of their deepest darkness.

Help us to live the faith you have given us... 
Lord, hear our prayer

Bring healing to the broken in body and spirit, so that they may know you are Lord of all their days and so that they may praise you each day no matter what it may bring. 

Help us to live the faith you have given us... 
Lord, hear our prayer

Surround with your love, all those for whom we now ask in the silence of our hearts............................................... 

Help us to live the faith you have given us... 
Lord, hear our prayer

Hear our prayers, Lord, spoken and unspoken in the name of Jesus who taught us when we pray to say.

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.


Circle me, Lord.
Keep protection near
and danger afar.
Circle me, Lord.
Keep hope within.
Keep doubt without.
Circle me, Lord.
Keep light near
and darkness afar.
Circle me, Lord.
Keep peace within.
Keep evil out.

The blessing of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spiorit be with us tonight and every night.


Church Notices

During the period of lockdown, all our church meetings and activities are now on-line:

Discussion & Study Group @ Tuesday evening at 7.00 pm, looking at Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.

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)