Away with gloom, away with doubt!
With all the morning stars we sing.
Edward Sillitoe’s hymn may not be part of the Christmas repertoire, but it was how we all felt after our carol service on Sunday. Health concerns and disruption to travel plans meant some couldn’t join us, but still there were 40 in the church to celebrate Emmanuel’s coming.
As always, the members of our local ecumenical partnership rose to the occasion, and offered enthusiastic and thoughtful worship in our traditional Advent 4 way. Yes, we missed the processing, and the tea/coffee and mince pies afterwards, but we had all the other elements of organ, choir, readings and congregational singing. Not only did we keep the tradition alive, but we were able to welcome old friends and strangers, which is what Christmas is all about.
Our fairly traditional pattern of readings and music (pew sheet at this link) included three poems that we commend to everyone: Do not be afraid (Liz Crumlish), Kenosis (Luci Shaw) and The sceptical shepherd (Godfrey Rust).
In all twenty musicians and readers from both congregations were involved: grateful thanks to all the willing and enthusiastic volunteers, to our ministers, whose garb showed a commitment to the spirit of Christmas, and to Mario Cassini for providing the photos.
Thank you too to those who gave towards the work of the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland and Action for Children. The total given to date is £267.60, but it will be more than that, as some folk always take envelopes and give later.
In response to the rapid spread of the omicron variant, we encourage everyone to take a lateral flow test before coming to church, and we have reintroduced the one-way system within the Church building. Hand sanitisers continue to be available, and the wearing of face-masks is obligatory, except when actually leading worship. The fire exit and the swing doors of the church will remain open during services for ventilation, so you might like to think in advance of this when choosing what to wear! We will continue to record your attendance to meet our Test and Protect obligations, and ask for contact details if we don’t already have them.
This year, Rev Eddie Sykes is leading three Advent studies to help us in our preparation for Christ’s coming. Sessions are on Zoom on Thursday mornings at 10:30am, and last for just over an hour. If you haven’t have received the meeting details direct, please email Eddie at ku.gro.tsidohtemhtysornull@retsinim for an access code.
Everyone is warmly welcome to join with us – no previous Bible study experience is necessary – just bring a Bible, and perhaps a cup of coffee, and enjoy the conversation!
Our topics will be:
- 2 December Preparing the Way (Luke 3:1–8) (study notes at this link)
- 16 December Embodying God’s Love for Others (Luke 1:26–56) (study notes at this link)
- 23 December God Sends the Church into the World (Luke 2:1–20)
Before each session Eddie will email you a reminder of the joining instructions and some study material. The study material will also be linked to this post.
The main source for this Advent study is: “All the Good: A Wesleyan way of Christmas” by Laceye Warner et al (recently published by Abingdon Press), in which a diverse group of Wesleyan scholars take us on an Advent journey guided by the practices in John Wesley’s ‘means of grace’. John Wesley’s emphasis upon practices of piety and mercy―or good works―drew from the wider Christian tradition, so, while the material has a Methodist background, it is applicable to folk of all denominations and none.
Sunday 7 November
A Creed for the Planet
We believe that this is God’s world
and all that lives on it;
we believe that living gratefully
and giving generously are marks of faith.
We believe that all of humanity
should have equal access to the earth’s resources,
and that every individual must now act
to preserve this world
so that the children of tomorrow
will not be burdened
by the mistakes of today.
And so we commit ourselves
to think globally, to trade fairly,
to live responsibly,
and to love this world as God loves it,
who in Christ become one with creation. Amen.
Saturday 6 November
Sabbath for the Planet
Eternal God, give us hearts to understand never to take from creation’s beauty more than we can give, never to destroy wantonly for the furtherance of greed, never to deny to give our hands for the building of earth’s beauty, never to take from her what we cannot use. Give us hearts to understand that to destroy earth’s music is to create confusion, that to wreck her appearance is to blind us to beauty, that to callously pollute her fragrance is to make a house of stench, and that as we care for her, she will care for us. Amen. (U.N. Sabbath Programme)
Friday 5 November
Action for the planet
What, at this moment, does God invite you to do?
- to give thanks for the ways in which you are fed and sustained by the earth?
- to repent for our part in failing to care for the earth as you should?
- to make a positive commitment to renewing the health of the earth’s environment?
You might like to light a candle in response to God’s invitation.
Thursday 4 November
We have sinned
Your wrongdoing has upset nature’s order,
and your sins have kept away her bounty.
The earth lurches like a drunkard;
the sins of its inhabitants weigh heavy on it,
and it falls, to rise no more.
The wages you never paid to those who mowed your fields are crying aloud against you, and the outcry of the reapers has reached the ears of the Lord of Hosts.
(Jeremiah 5: 25; Isaiah 24:20; James 5:4)
God of justice, we have lost our way and exploited your gifts. Have mercy, Lord, have deep mercy.
Wednesday 3 November
Humanity is charged with responsibility
The Lord took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to be the guardian and servant of the earth. … For six years you may sow your fields and prune your vineyards and gather the harvest, but in the seventh year the land is to have a sabbatical rest, a sabbath to the Lord. No land may be sold outright, because the land is mine, and you come to it as aliens and tenants of mine. (Genesis 2:15; Leviticus 25:3–4, 23)
God of the Sabbath, rebalance our lives that we may live in right relationship with our planet, with all living creatures and with You, Creating God. Amen.
Tuesday 2 November
Creation worships its maker
Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad;
let the sea resound and everything in it.
Let the fields exult and all that is in them;
let all the trees of the forest shout for joy
before the Lord. (Psalm 96:11–12)
Praise the Lord from the earth, you sea monsters and ocean depths
… all mountains and hills, all fruit trees and cedars,
wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and winged birds. (Psalm 148:7–10)
Creating God, we give you thanks for our place on this earth and for all with whom we share it. Help us to be good stewards of all you have entrusted to us.
Monday 1 November
Creation as a source of wonder
Who supported the sea at its birth …
when I established its bounds,
set its barred doors in place and said,
‘Thus far shall you come and no further’?
Have you gone down to the springs of the sea
or walked in the unfathomable deep?
Have you comprehended the vast expanse of the world?
Whose womb gave birth to the ice,
and who was the mother of the hoar-frost
which lays a stony cover over the waters? (Job 38)
O God our Maker, we give you thanks for the wonder of creation, in all its beauty and variety.
Praise be you O God, maker of all. Amen.
This sequence of daily readings and prayers for contemplation, confession and commitment was compiled by Rev Dr Michael Paterson using materials drawn from a variety of sources, including the Iona Community. You can download a printable version of the whole sequence at this link.
Loving Creator, at this moment in earth’s history when humanity must take account of earth’s destiny, give to those leaders who gather in Glasgow a sense of urgency, a perception of necessity and the wisdom and will to secure the health and wellbeing of the world at whatever the cost to wealth, political advantage or prestige. and give to us all a vision of a world restored to full health that is worthy of all those yet to be born and worth all the work, sacrifice and commitment which is ours to offer. Amen.