Thought for the month

“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” (John 16:12–13)

“You cannot bear them now…
When the Spirit comes…”
Lord you spoke these words
to your disciples
enfolded in their own grief
and puzzlement
In the midst of trauma
yours was the cautious voice
of waiting
the consoling voice
of promise
In your infinite compassion
you made space
urging them to do the same
In these times,
we, like the disciples
are anxious to know
and understand
and impatient
to act.
Calm our jets, Lord
Show us how to wait
Still our racing reactivity
Encourage us to care for ourselves
before we barge on
with fixing the world
or even the church.
Reassure us
that yours is a long term call
that warrants
and love
for ourselves
and others.
Enable us
to sit contemplatively
with unanswered questions
to nurture
our grieving spirits
to make space for you
to pour in your healing
and your wisdom
in your time
when you consider
that we are able to bear it
And Lord
through the great cacophony
of voices
urging us this way and that
enable us to discern
your still, small voice
of clarity
and purpose.
So may it be.

Thanks to our good friend Liz Crumlish for suggesting that we re-post her blog as a word of encouragement for our sad times.

As people of faith, we are storied people. Our faith is built on ancient myths, legends, and stories of folk who, through every age, have sought and found God who brings together and makes sense of all our stories. How will we make sense of God’s story today? How will we live, together, in the story of God – of the past, the present and the future.

Reading today’s gospel, in the light of Ascension that we celebrated on Thursday, I’m struck again by how Jesus entrusts us with his story, with the story of faith. “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one.” (John 17:20–21a)

We are entrusted with the good news. So what story are we telling? How are we portraying a life of following God? Is it a story that, even today, in the midst of the darkness, holds out light? Are we still able to share the story of hope and of resurrection? Are we living as those who make a positive difference in the lives of our communities?

This is an extract from the sermon given by Rev Liz Crumlish at the St Margaret’s Sung Eucharist on 29 May 2022, speaking in our sermon series ‘Countering the Darkness: Stories of Hope and Resurrection’. Do read the whole of what Liz had to say, which you can download at this link.

The image comes from an article written for World Refugee Day 2021 by Defne Gursoy, which you can read at this link.

The Ascension of Jesus

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:6–11)

40 days since Easter
40 days since we applauded Jesus’ sacrifice
then hauled him out of the tomb
and got on with our lives
40 days that Jesus has walked beside us
offering us myriad glimpses
of his Risen presence
It was the Risen Christ who sat on the bridge
holding out his cup for a coin
and then took our hand
and looked into our eyes
and said thank you
as we glanced his way
and gave him some change.
It was the Risen Christ
who sat between us
as a colleague unloaded
and processed
the costliness of her work
and rediscovered her inner wisdom
and strength
to carry on serving.
It was the Risen Christ
who dried our tears
and stoked our anger
and determination
as we tramped the beach
imploring, beseeching God
to show us how
to serve authentically
in an institution
that is besieged
by power struggles
and injustice.
It was the Risen Christ…
It IS the Risen Christ
The Risen, Ascended Christ
who continues to penetrate
our consciousness
in our every day
looking into our eyes
through the eyes of all whom we encounter
reminding us of his teaching
imploring us to love
and willing us
to go and be disciples.

(Liz Crumlish Ascension 2019)

On Sunday at the St Margaret’s service the focus of the readings was the Good Shepherd, with Psalm 23 both read and sung and complementary readings from Revelation and John’s Gospel. The prayer of preparation suggested by had been:

God of comfort and compassion, through Jesus, your Son, you lead us to the water of life and the table of your bounty. May we who have received the tender love of our Good Shepherd be strengthened by your grace to care for your flock. Amen.

An important and often-overlooked way of caring for the flock was the subject of Deacon Lynda Wright’s talk about her work with the Mental Health Community Chaplaincy, and the importance of listening.

Nowadays, as fewer people have church or faith connections or friends who they trust to share with, it’s increasingly hard for them to know where to go when things are getting them down, or they’re struggling with loss or illness or the breakdown of a relationship, or life isn’t making sense for them. As Lynda continues in her blog:

… They go to the GP because they are hurting, but the GP often knows that the problem is not a physical one which they can treat, but an emotional one. So they refer to this Listening Service, where individuals are enabled to explore the kind of issues named above.

People do need to talk. It is not uncommon for an individual to say at the end of the session, ‘Thank you so much, that has been so helpful’, when the Listener feels they have done very little – just listened! Of course, they have created a welcoming, non-judgmental, safe space, where the individual felt safe to share their story, their struggles and anxieties and where they could explore the questions they were living with.

… Our Listeners are skilled volunteers … they don’t counsel – they listen and often this is all the individual needs. In training we say, ‘There is not a problem to be fixed, but an individual to accompany.’

We’re sharing this because this week is Mental Health Awareness Week, whose 2022 focus is on loneliness. Feelings of isolation are common among older folk, but can affect people of all ages, and having someone there to listen – really listen – can help them cope. And being available to listen is something that we can all offer …

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash.

One of the great things about being a Local Ecumenical Partnership is that our joint services often contain helpful and inspiring moments that come from the contrasting perspectives of the two partners. Which is why there are two images in this post!

Easter Sunday morning found over 60 people starting worship in the garden outside the church, where we lit the Easter fire and let it consume the sealed envelopes offered by the congregation. Each contained a private and personal message – a word, a name or a few lines expressing the old hurts, or griefs or burdens they wanted to lay down:

As a sign of our commitment to rise with Christ
we commit to this Easter fire
all that holds us back:
– the sin that clings
– the grudges we bear
– the brokenness within us
– the darkness we have gathered over the years
– and our sadness and grief for all whom we have lost.

As we let go of our past
and watch it turn to ashes
we commit ourselves to rise once more
to face a new day
a new year
and a new life.

And we prayed:

Almighty God, who raised your only-begotten Son from the dead:
bless this fire, that it may be a sign of life and hope;
may we, who celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ,
be aflame with love,
shine as lights in the world,
and glorify you in our lives;
through the same Jesus Christ our Risen Lord.

Then we blessed the Paschal candle – “May the light of Christ, rising in glory, dispel the darkness of our hearts and minds” – before the proclamation of Easter:

Alleluia, alleluia! Christ is risen:
He is risen indeed. Alleluia, alleluia!

To the people of Ukraine we proclaim
Christ is risen: He is risen indeed.

To the sick and their carers we proclaim:
Christ is risen: He is risen indeed.

To those in grief and sorrow we proclaim
Christ is risen: He is risen indeed.

To the people of Rosyth we proclaim
Christ is risen: He is risen indeed.

Alleluia, alleluia! Christ is risen:
He is risen indeed. Alleluia, alleluia

And then we went rejoicing following the Light of the Risen Christ into the church as we sang “Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!”. Each ‘Alleluia!’ throughout the service was accompanied by a variety of musical instruments played and struck by the young and the young at heart.

Our service of readings, hymns, prayers and sacrament included a reflection by Rev Eddie Sykes which you can find in full at this link. “The empty tomb is hope for all who believe, and it has become a wonderful symbol of the Resurrection – but if all Easter is about is an empty tomb, then surely the whole event would have been forgotten years ago. Have you ever thought – perhaps Jesus in breaking the power of death could actually be seen as filling the tomb?” “Easter brings good news – and since Easter the tomb has been full … of victory … of hope … of hell’s despair!”

The sermon concluded: “So today, from a different angle I want you to look at the tomb as one that is full. For didn’t the Lord Jesus himself say, “I have come that you may have life, and have it abundantly”. This Easter, and beyond, may the fullness of the Resurrection infect us with victory, hope and joy.”

Alleluia! … and do please give that old tambourine a hearty bash!

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Coming up …
  • 10 July 2022 9:30 am Sung Eucharist
  • 10 July 2022 11:00 am Morning Worship
  • 17 July 2022 9:30 am Sung Eucharist
  • 17 July 2022 11:00 am Morning Worship

More details at this link


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