Cruden Parish Church

7.00pm, Sunday 26 July 2020

‘Encountering God in unusual places’


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.
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

“The past months have reminded us of the precious nature of human life and of our dependence, in part, on others for the sustaining of life. As we acknowledge this to be so, we recognise that ultimately the gift of life is a gift given by God.
“Our ultimate dependence is on the giver of this gift. In this, we are reminded of the fragile nature of life and of creation of God and of the need to care for all that is gifted to us.
“In the midst of the life we share, God creates, through Christ and by the Spirit, a community in which we are affirmed as children of God.
“Within this community we are invited to name the living God, share in the inheritance of Christ and to receive the Spirit of God. (Romans 8: 12-25) As the children of God, who have received the gift of God, we pray…”

We praise you, living God
And cry: ‘Abba’, Father!
For you are the One who creates life
And loves all that your hand has made.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We praise you, living Christ
And confess that Jesus is Lord!
For you are the crucified and risen One
Through whom we have peace with God.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We praise you, Spirit of the living God
And thank you that we are adopted as children of God.
For you are the One who shares in all our struggles
And inspires in us hope.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

We praise you, Father, Son and Holy Spirit
And worship and glorify your name.
We cry: ‘Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.’
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Bible Readings

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.

Matthew 17:1-10

After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves.
There he was transfigured before them.
His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
Peter said to Jesus, ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here.
If you wish, I will put up three shelters – one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!’
When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground, terrified.
But Jesus came and touched them. ‘Get up,’ he said. ‘Don’t be afraid.’ When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, ‘Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.’

Sermon   'Encountering God in unusual places - Edward Whymper & the Matterhorn'

As we all know Scotland is a land of mountains. A mountain is usually defined as any peak over 2000 feet. In Scotland there are 282 Munros – peaks over 3,000 feet, 221 Corbetts – peaks between 2,500 & 3,000 feet, and 224 Grahams, which are peaks between 2000 & 2,500 feet. Regretfully one of our most prominent local hills is Bennachie which at 1,732 feet doesn’t make any of the lists!  And try to imagine the different ways these mountains have affected the culture, language, history and way of life of Scotland? As a former chef in a hotel in the highlands, you could say I made my living from the mountains. The mountains of the far north and north west Scotland drew in visitors from all over the world. And there is something very spiritual about ascending to the high places! I’m not sure I can fully explain it, but being away from human habitation and seeing majestic hills and mountains that are millions of years’ old, helps put life into perspective.
Within the Bible mountains and hills are mentioned over 500 times. There are mountains, such as Mount Ararat, where according to tradition Noah’s ark landed and Noah saw the rainbow of God’s promise.  Mount Moriah is where Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his Son, Isaac in Genesis 22.  There is Mount Sinai, where Moses with God and received the ten commandments. There is Mount Tabor in Lower Galilee, which according to tradition is the site of the transfiguration, where Peter, James and John see Jesus in his heavenly glory, along with Moses and Elijah. To this could added the so called pre scientific understanding of the three tier universe. The shadowy place of the dead, known as sheol was down in the depths, the very bowls of the earth and heaven and God were up above, high above in the sky. So the high places, the summit of hills and mountains were seen as physically closer to the presence of God. So mountains became places of prayer, and places of revelation. Places to encounter the reality of God.

Those of you who have been following our daily reflections on Facebook, will know we have recently been exploring Psalm 121, which uses the image of hills and mountains to great effect. Here we are presented with a revelation of God, not just as creator but as a companion and protector. The Psalm is known as a song of assents which means it one of the so called pilgrimage psalms. It was sung and chanted by groups of people who were making their way to Jerusalem as the crossed they wilderness and climbed the rugged mountains paths and or steep descents as they came down into valleys. It is a psalm that resonates with promises. God.

Normally when I am out running or hill walking my eyes are more than not looking down at my feet to avoid tripping over a stone or a tree root. But the psalm begins not by looking down, but looking up. Casting your gaze heavenwards and being reminded that help comes from the maker of heaven and earth. And we are held safely and firmly. God who is our helper, will not let you slip or slide or stumble. Unlike the very fittest who arrive at the summit tired, weary and out of breath, our helper never slumbers or sleeps. He is always on duty, always alert, always watching over his people. And he watches over our journey. Not just our physical travelling from A to B, but our spiritual journey through life until we arrive safety in to his presence, with God as our watchman and companion, protector and guide.


This brings me to the story of Edward Whymper and the first successful ascent of the Matterhorn. One of the first recorded ascents took place in 1857. Two French men and an French woman attempted to climb the mountain. They soon had to abandon their ascent because the ridge was too steep. In 1858 the same two French men undertook a further attempt – this time from the Italian side. However, at a height of 12,500 feet they once again encountered a very steep passage that proved insurmountable. In 1861, the English climber Edward Whymper made an unsuccessful attempt to climb the Matterhorn. In 1862, he made a further five further unsuccessful attempts and after a fall of 200 feet, he temporarily abandoned his project. Still the mountain remained unconquered. Then on the morning of 13 July 1865, a party of Edward Whymper was joined by Michel Croz, Peter Taugwalder a Swiss climber and mountain guide and his son, Reverend Charles Hudson, Lord Francis Douglas, Robert D. Hadow and they set out in the direction of the Matterhorn. The group camped for the night at a height of 11,000 feet. In the early afternoon of 14 July 1865 they were the very first people to stand on the summit of the Matterhorn.


The descent proved long and perilous. They were just coming off the summit when Robert Harrow lost his grip and fell, pulling Michal Croz with him. A moment later The Rev Charles Hudson and Lord Francis Douglas were also pulled away from the rock face. Edward Whymper and Peter Taugwalder used all their force to belay the rope and stop their companions’ fall, but the rope snapped. They looked on helpless at the horrific sight of their companions plunging 4000 feet onto the glacier below. The remainder of the group returned safely to Zermatt, the following day. The bodies of the victims were located and bought off the mountain some ten days later and buried in Zermatt. All expect for Robert Hadow, whose remains were never found.


The tragedy made headline news all over Europe. There was a subsequent inquiry and all the survivors were cleared of blame. It is said that Queen Victoria even considered banning rock climbing. But in spite of tragedy, the lure of the Matterhorn continued. Since 1865, it is claimed that some 500 mountaineers have perished whilst climbing the mountain – a death toll that is nearly double that of Mount Everest. On the 14 July 2015, the 150th anniversary of the first ascent, was commemorated with ceremony and the placing of 50 lights illuminating the original route as a tribute to all the victims who lost their lives climbing the Matterhorn.


One final detail. Edward Whymper was also a man of deep faith. As the survivors, numb with shock and grief made their descent off the mountain, something remarkable happened. A vision appeared in the sky, emerging out of the mist. Edward Whymper describes this in his own words.  When lo! a mighty arch appeared, rising high into the sky. Pale, colourless, and noise-less, but perfectly sharp and defined, except where it was lost in the clouds, this unearthly apparition seemed like a vision from another world; and, almost appalled, we watched with amazement the gradual development of two vast crosses, one on either side.” The vision shared by all the survivors was later reproduced by Whymper in an engraving. Whilst their vision was dismissed by most people as a natural occurring fog bow, one has to wonder what message was God sending. Was God telling them that their fallen companions were now safe in His keeping? Or as Psalm 121 puts it:

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.

Hymn:  O Lord my God (How great Thou Art)

Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
Consider all the works Thy hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed;

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

When through the woods and forest glades I wander
and hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
and hear the brook, and feel he gentle breeze;

And when I think that God His Son not sparing,
Sent Him to die - I scarce can take it in,
That on the cross my burden gladly bearing,
He bled and died to take away my sin:

When Christ shall come with shout of acclamation
And take me home- what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
And there proclaim, my God, how great Thou art!

Prayers for Others

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.


Not when the mountains shake,
or the seas roar,
or the clouds part to reveal You,
Holy One,
but here and now,
on this one ordinary day,
we will wait and watch
for You will surely come to us.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit
be with us all, now and evermore.



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. (Next meet is on Tuesday 28st July)

Coffee Morning @ Thursday morning at 11.00 am

Evening Service @ Sunday evening at 7.00 pm.

Meeting of the Kirk Session @ 7.30 pm, Thursday 30th July via Zoom. (A phone in option is also avalible)

.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)