Previous Posts 19th to 30th April

Previous posts during the Coronavirus period appear below (most recent first)

24th April 2020 – Reflection by Ian Stirling – “Present at the Table”

Sunday 26th April.     Present at the table

Our sacred space this morning focuses on the theme ‘Present at the table’, and the text 

Then they told me what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them 

in the breaking of the bread. Luke 24:35

But first, let us spend a moment stilling our hearts, quietening our souls, and preparing ourselves to come into the presence of God.

(Perhaps listen to a reflective piece of music, or watch the dawn, of listen to birdsong)

A time of stillness and silence

Spend two minutes in silence

Then pray together

Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, 

we gather at your table to know you in the breaking of bread.

then say together the Lords Prayer

Our Father, which art in heaven,

hallowed be thy Name, 

thy kingdom come, 

thy will be done, 

on earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread. 

And forgive us our debts

as we forgive our debtors

And lead us not into temptation, 

but deliver us from evil. 

For thine is the kingdom, 

and the power, and the glory, 

for ever and ever. Amen

A time of song

1 Dear Lord and Father of mankind,

forgive our foolish ways:

reclothe us in our rightful mind;

in purer lives your service find,

in deeper reverence praise,

in deeper reverence praise.

2 In simple trust like theirs who heard,

beside the Syrian sea,

the gracious calling of the Lord

let us, like them, obey his word:

‘Rise up and follow me,

rise up and follow me!’

3 O sabbath rest by Galilee!

O calm of hills above,

when Jesus shared on bended knee

the silence of eternity

interpreted by love,

interpreted by love!

4 With that deep hush subduing all

our words and works that drown

the tender whisper of your call,

as noiseless let your blessing fall

as fell your manna down,

as fell your manna down.

5 Drop your still dews of quietness,

till all our strivings cease;

take from our souls the strain and stress,

and let our ordered lives confess

the beauty of your peace,

the beauty of your peace.

6 Breathe through the heats of our desire

your coolness and your balm;

let sense be dumb, let flesh retire,

speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,

O still small voice of calm,

O still small voice of calm!

A time to engage with this mornings text through words and images

During the fifty days after Easter Christians tell and retell stories of Jesus’ first followers who encountered him against all hope – amidst doubt, fear, uncertainty and longing for the breaking in of the new kingdom.

This season is a time to learn again what matters in our faith.

And to recognise the risen Jesus, where ever he is to be found.

So it’s a time for imagination and to open our eyes to see clearly the traces of sacredness in all our lives, and in the life of the world.

Listen for the word of God

Each week spend some time reading, and re-reading the passage. This is your homework!

First time, ask yourself what words strike you, as new, or interesting. And underline them or circle them.

Second time, let your imagination fly and let your curiosity enjoy full reign, and ask yourself what does this passage make you think and feel and wonder

Third time, listen out and consider whether Jesus is saying anything to you in this passage, 

-perhaps about faith, or doubts, or trusting or faith.

            The Walk to Emmaus       Luke 24:13-35

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles [205] from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 

17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. [206] 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?”

19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, [207] who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. [208] Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 

22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 

25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah [209] should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures. 

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 

30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 

32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us [210] while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 

35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

This is an image of the scene by  Diego Rodriguez de Silva Velasquez, The Moorish Kitchen Maid( Velazquez focuses not on the table at Emmaus, but on the hidden girl working in the kitchen – listening, taking in the mysterious guest, the resurrected Christ.

Reflections

Sometimes we wonder, where is Christ in the chaotic, crazy and cankered world we live in. It would be easy to miss the traces of the sacred in the midst of all our comings and goings. Yet be sure Christ is there, before us, behind us, around us, within us. Christ is closer than our own breaths ready to surprise us.

The walk to Emmaus is one of my favourite bible passages ever, because the despair of the two disciples turns into hope. Why? Because they recognise Christ in a new way, in the breaking of bread. And their hearts were burning.

Gustavo Gutierrez says, ‘the initiative in encounter belongs to the Lord. But if we open the door of our being to him, we shall share his life, his supper.

On our journey, to Emmaus, to Dunure, to the Maidens, to Turnberry or into Kirkoswald …. We need hope. We need to know we are not alone, no matter the times or circumstances. So open up your doors, your hearts and your lives to welcome in our guest Christ.

On occasions we do not feel worthy to welcome Christ into our homes. This reminds me of the poem by George Herbert, which shows how loves overcomes our fears, and any feelings of shame

Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back

                              Guilty of dust and sin.

But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack 

                             From my first entrance in,

Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,

                             If I lacked any thing.

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:

                             Love said, You shall be he.

I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,

                             I cannot look on thee.

Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,

                             Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame

                             Go where it doth deserve.

And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?

                             My dear, then I will serve.

You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:

                             So I did sit and eat.

Etty Hillesum, a Dutch Jewish woman living in Holland during the Nazi occupation of the late 1930’s to early 1940’s, kept a journal of her struggles to survive physically and spiritually 

This morning I said to Jopie, “It still all comes down to the same thing: life is beautiful and I believe in God. And I want to be there right in the tick of what people call ‘horror’ and to be able to say ‘life is beautiful’.

And now I lie in some corner, dizzy and feverish and unable to do a thing. When I woke up just now I was parched, reached for my glass of water, and grateful for that one sip, thought to myself, ‘If I could only be there to give some of those packed thousands just one sip of water’”.

… I am with the hungry, with the I’ll-treated and the dying, every day, but I am also with the jasmine and with that piece of sky beyond my window; there is room for everything in a single life. For belief in God and for a miserable end. 

It’s inspirational how in such testing times Etty saw the beauty in the world, in the jasmine flower and in the sky above. In our faith and in our doubts, in the light and in the shadows, in the ecstasy and in the pain … we have all that we need

Plenty.

Having shared our bread, we know that we are no longer hungry. 

It is enough that you see me for myself. 

That I see you for yourself.

That we bless what we see and do not borrow, do not use one another.

This is how we are no longer hungry …

That the world is full of terror, full of beauty

And yet we are not afraid to find solace here.

To be bread for one another. To love.       Gunilla Norris

A time of gratitude and concern

Take some time to thank God for caring and holding the world in his hands, especially in times of doubt and  uncertainty

Sing.              Kumbayah my Lord, kumbayah

and remember your loved ones, and the people you are concerned for in the world

Make a commitment to your new truth of Christ knocking on your door and breaking bread in your home

Make an offering of your gifts and talents for the world and for the church

Closing song

Guide me, O thou great Redeemer, 

pilgrim though this barren land; 

I am weak, but thou art mighty; 

hold me with thy powerful hand; 

Bread of heaven, 

feed me now and evermore.

Open now the crystal fountain, 

whence the healing stream doth flow; 

let the fiery cloudy pillar 

lead me all my journey through; 

strong Deliverer, 

be thou still my Strength and Shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan, 

bid my anxious fears subside; 

bear me through the swelling current, 

land me safe on Canaan’s side; 

songs of praises, 

I will ever give to thee.

Closing responses

Look at your hands, see the touch and the tenderness, God’s own for the world

Look at you feet, see the path and the direction, God’s own for the world 

Look at you heart, see the fire and the love, God’s own for the world 

Look at the cross, see God’s son and our saviour

This is God’s world and we will serve God in it

Celtic blessing

May the road rise up to meet you.

May the wind always be at your back.

May the sun shine warm upon your face,

and rains fall soft upon your fields.

And until we meet again,

May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

20th April 2020 – Ian Stirling and the new NHS Louisa Jordan Hospital

The new NHS Louisa Jordan hospital has been created in the SEC Glasgow and is now ready to receive its first patient.
Though it is the hope and prayers of all that it is not needed to be opened.

Iain Macritchie, the lead chaplain has invited a team of six chaplains to work alongside him to ensure a 24/7 hour cover for the facility.
The spiritual care and wellbeing team includes
Carrie Applegath
Linda Dunbar
Janet Foggie
Paul Grant
David Mitchell
Blair Robertson
Ian Stirling

Please hold the team in your thoughts and prayers.

Link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-52344748?SThisFB

Reflection for Sunday 19th April 2020 from Ian Stirling – “Room for Doubt”

Sunday 19th April.     Room for Doubt

Our sacred space this morning focuses on the theme ‘Room for Doubt’, 

and the text 

Jesus said to Thomas,

“Have you believed because you have seen me? 

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.” John 20: 29

But first, let us spend a moment stilling our hearts, quietening our souls, and preparing ourselves to come into the presence of God.

(Perhaps listen to a reflective piece of music, or watch the dawn, of listen to birdsong)

A time of stillness and silence

Spend two minutes in silence

Then pray together

Jesus says I am the way for you, so we come to follow Christ

Jesus says I am the truth for you, so come and dwell in the light

Jesus says I am the life for you, so we come and leave behind all else to which we cling.

then say together the Lords Prayer 

Our Father, which art in heaven,

hallowed be thy Name, 

thy kingdom come, 

thy will be done, 

on earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread. 

And forgive us our debts

as we forgive our debtors

And lead us not into temptation, 

but deliver us from evil. 

For thine is the kingdom, 

and the power, and the glory, 

for ever and ever. Amen

A time of song

189 Be still for the presence of the Lord, the holy one is here

Be still, for the presence of the Lord,

The holy One, is here;

Come bow before him now

With reverence and fear

In him no sin is found

We stand on holy ground.

Be still, for the presence of the Lord,

The holy One, is here.

Be still, for the glory of the Lord

Is shining all around;

He burns with holy fire,

With splendour he is crowned:

How awesome is the sight

Our radiant king of light!

Be still, for the glory of the Lord

Is shining all around.

Be still, for the power of the Lord

Is moving in this place:

He comes to cleanse and heal,

To minister his grace –

No work too hard for him.

In faith receive from him.

Be still, for the power of the Lord

Is moving in this place.

212 Morning has broken

Morning has broken like the first morning

Blackbird has spoken like the first bird

Praise for the singing

Praise for the morning

Praise for them springing fresh from the world

Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven

Like the first dew fall on the first grass

Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden

Sprung in completeness where his feet pass

Mine is the sunlight Mine is the morning

Born of the one light Eden saw play

Praise with elation, praise every morning

God’s recreation of the new day

Morning has broken like the first morning

Blackbird has spoken like the first bird

Praise for the singing

Praise for the morning

Praise for them springing fresh from the world

A time to engage with this mornings text through words and images

During the fifty days after Easter Christians tell and retell stories of Jesus’ first followers who encountered him against all hope – amidst doubt, fear, uncertainty and longing for the breaking in of the new kingdom.

This season is a time to learn again what matters in our faith.

And to recognise the risen Jesus, where ever he is to be found.

So it’s a time for imagination and to open our eyes to see clearly the traces of sacredness in all our lives, and in the life of the world.

Listen for the word of God

Each week spend some time reading, and re-reading the passage. This is your homework!

First time, ask yourself what words strike you, as new, or interesting. And underline them or circle them.

Second time, let your imagination fly and let your curiosity enjoy full reign, and ask yourself what does this passage make you think and feel and wonder

Third time, listen out and consider whether Jesus is saying anything to you in this passage, 

-perhaps about faith, or doubts, or trusting or faith.

Jesus Appears to the Disciples 

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” 

Jesus and Thomas 

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin [162]), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.” 26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

This is an image of the scene by Rembrandt.

(Which person are you in the scene?)

Sometimes we feel our faith is strong, and at other times we are like Thomas who seriously doubts.

Khalil Gibran says ‘doubt is pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother’.

Perhaps faith and doubt go hand in hand and are two sides of the same coin.

Paul Tillich says ‘ serious doubt is confirmation of faith’.

The one book that has guided me trough life is The Courage to Doubt’ by Robert Davidson, which traces the way people of faith in the Old Testament discover their God, in new and surprising ways.

Each of us is on an incredible journey. Each of us has eyes to see the sacred all around us. Each of us can discern the presence of God in times of doubt, and darkness and unknowing.

A time of gratitude and concern

Take some time to thank God for caring and holding the world in his hands, especially in times of doubt and  uncertainty

Sing.              Kumbayah my Lord, kumbayah

and remember your loved ones, and the people you are concerned for in the world

Make a commitment to your new truth of living with doubts and faith

Make an offering of your gifts and talents for the world and for the church

Closing song

Make me a channel of Your peace

Where there is hatred, let me bring Your love

Where there is injury, Your pardon Lord

And where there’s doubt, true faith in You

Make me a channel of Your peace

Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope

Where there is darkness, only light

And where there’s sadness, ever joy

Oh Master, grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console

To be understood as to understand

To be loved as to love with all my soul

Make me a channel of Your peace

It is pardoning that we are pardoned

In giving to all men that we receive

And in dying that we’re born to eternal life

Oh Master, grant that I may never seek

So much to be consoled as to console

To be understood as to understand

To be loved as to love with all my soul

Make me a channel of Your peace

Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope

Where there is darkness, only light

And where there’s sadness, ever joy

Closing responses

Look at your hands, see the touch and the tenderness, God’s own for the world

Look at you feet, see the path and the direction, God’s own for the world 

Look at you heart, see the fire and the love, God’s own for the world 

Look at the cross, see God’s son and our saviour

This is God’s world and we will serve God in it

Celtic blessing

God to enfold me,

God to surround me,

God in my speaking,

God in my thinking.

God in my sleeping,

God in my waking,

God in my watching,

God in my hoping.

God in my life,

God in my lips,

God in my soul,

God in my heart.

God in my sufficing,

God in my slumber,

God in mine ever-living soul,

God in mine eternity.

(Ancient celtic oral traditions – carmina gadelica)