Thought for the month

Home – A Sanctuary

“Sometimes I need
only to stand
wherever I am
to be blessed.”

Mary Oliver

Saturday 19 March

In the garden, balcony, or at the window

This is the place of wonder, where we recognise we are part of creation; where space is made for plants, birds and animals. The place where we see God’s creation in all its glory.

Contemplating creation, Jesus invites us to consider the lilies, to marvel at the birds of the air and the fish of the sea each of which is clothed by God our Creator. As you gaze outwards at the world God calls good, be aware of life all around you. Be aware of God’s cycle of renewal bringing buds in spring, flowers in summer, falling leaves in autumn and silent rest in darkest winter. Be reconciled with nature and commit yourself to caring for our common home.

Listen — are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?”

Mary Oliver

Friday 18 March

In your work space

In the place where you work or knit or sew; at the table where you pay bills or write letters, be aware of the risks you take, the mistakes you make, the things that don’t always turn out the way they were supposed to.

Remember how Jesus spent time in his father’s carpentry workshop, learning his craft by trial and error under the loving and supportive eye of Joseph.

Ask God’s blessing on the work of your hands, your imagination, your mind. Ask God to give you patience in accepting your limitations.

“When it’s over, I want to say:
all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it is over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.”

Mary Oliver

Thursday 17 March

In the living room

The living room houses everything. Sometimes bubbling with life, chatter, fun; sometimes silent and at peace. When Judas was planning to betray him, Jesus organised a meal, invited Judas, broke bread with him and included him. Jesus responded to betrayal with faithful love.

As you pray in your living room, give thanks for all who have sat with you, laughed with you, cried with you. Give thanks for all who have forgiven you, included you and stuck by you when the going got tough. And pray for healing of hurts, freedom from violence and a renewed sense of belonging.

“You can have the other words – chance, luck, coincidence, serendipity.
I’ll take grace. I don’t know what it is exactly, but I’ll take it.”

Mary Oliver

Wednesday 16 March

In the bedroom

The bedroom is the place of intimacy, of safety, of sleep. A place of deep sleep and of restless nights. A place of closeness and of loneliness. A place where the past can haunt us and the future frighten us. Jesus sleeps only once in the gospels and that is during a fierce storm. Woken up by his friends, he calms the storm and asks “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?

We pray that during our own personal storms and darkest nights we will know the promise of Christ ‘I will not leave you orphans’.

“Tell me,
what is it you plan to do
with your one
wild and precious life?”

Mary Oliver

Tuesday 15 March

In the bathroom

The bathroom is the place where we are most reminded of our bodiliness, our fragility and our vulnerability. Look in the mirror not with your own critical eyes but with the eyes of Christ who sees not your wrinkles but your beauty. ‘You are my beloved’ he says and who are we to tell him he’s wrong?

In your prayer remember how Jesus stopped down – like a servant – to wash the feet of his disciples. ‘If I, your Lord and Master have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.’ (John 13.14)

May we dedicate each day to be of service for at least one person and show special care where we encounter someone in pain.

“Love yourself.
Then forget it.
Then, love the world.”

Mary Oliver

Monday 14 March

In the kitchen

Pray in your kitchen, the place where food is prepared, kettles boiled, lists written and homework done.

Be aware in your kitchen just how much our lives rely on others: on farmers, on bakers, on vegetable growers, on haulage vehicles and food outlets. Notice just how interdependent we actually are.

Give thanks for those with whom you have shared your table over the years, the people who have broken bread with you and with whom you have shared joys and sorrows.

Pray too for the Community Orchard, the Community Garden and the Eats Community Hub growing food to feed those in need in Rosyth. And, as you dream up your next meal, “Keep some room in your heart for the unimaginable.”

Mary Oliver

Sunday 13 March
The Second Sunday of Lent

At the door

‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock.
If any hear my voice and open the door,
I will come in and eat with them, and them with me.’
(Revelation 3.20)

Pray at your door – the space between outside and inside. A place of welcome, where we wait for those we love. The place where friends announce their presence; where newspapers and mail is delivered.
Pray for all who come to your door: the welcome and the uninvited.
Pray for the homeless, the migrant and refugee who cannot shut out the world
Pray for an hospitable heart to see the face of Christ in all.

“Hello, sun in my face. Hello you who made the morning and spread it over the fields … Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.”

Mary Oliver


This sequence of daily readings or prayers for the second week of Lent was compiled by Rev Dr Michael Paterson using materials written by him and drawn from a variety of sources. You can download a printable version of the week’s sequence at this link.

Saturday 12 March


Hold a stone in your hand. Some parts are rough and other parts smooth. Think of the rough parts as those parts of your life which have not yet submitted to God’s grace and healing: hard words, resentments, grudges, refusal to forgive etc. and ask God each day of Lent to help smooth over your rough places. Then feel the smooth surfaces of the stone and give thanks to God for those aspects of your life in which you know God’s blessing and presence.

Friday 11 March

If you would enter into the wilderness,
do not begin without a blessing.
Do not leave
without hearing who you are:
Beloved, named by the One
who has traveled this path before you.
Do not go
without letting it echo in your ears,
and, if you find it is hard
to let it into your heart,
do not despair.
That is what this [Lenten] journey is for.

Jan Richardson

Thursday 10 March

‘Waiting, that’s all I have done since my diagnosis. Waiting for doctors’ appointments; waiting for new drugs and treatments; waiting to feel better. And now, here I am still waiting.

I used to wait (or was it hope) for a cure but those days are past. I now know that I am not in charge any longer and that my deadlines and plans are out the window.

But still I wait … for the next painkiller, for a nurse to answer my buzzer, for the fresh flowers they bring to my bedside each day, for my family and friends to visit. And in the waiting I think I am beginning to let go and trust that someone else is in charge, that all is well with the world and that it will keep on turning without me at the helm. Now why did I wait so long to learn that?’

Wednesday 9 March

If you have come to this Lenten desert
desolate,
if you have come here,
deflated,
then thank your lucky stars
the desert is where
you have landed –
here where it is hard to hide,
here where it is unwise
to rely on your own devices ..
I tell you,
this is where
you will receive
your life again.
I tell you,
this is where
the breath begins.

Jan Richardson, Circle of Grace

Tuesday 8 March

In the desert the most urgent thing is — to wait. The desert does not take kindly to those who tackle it at breakneck speed, subjecting it to their plans and deadlines. It soon takes its revenge and makes them pay dearly for their presumption. Instead, the desert welcomes those who shed their sandals of speed and walk slowly in their bare feet, letting them be caressed and burnt by the sand. If you have no ambition to conquer the desert, if you do not think you are in charge, if you can calmly wait for things to be done, then the desert will not consider you an intruder and will reveal its secrets to you.

Alessandro Pronzato, Meditations on the Sand

Monday 7 March

Lord Jesus Christ,
you refused to turn stones into bread.
Save us from using our power,
however little,
to satisfy the demands of selfishness
in the face of the needs of others.

Lord Jesus Christ,
you refused to leap from the temple top.
Save us from displaying our skills,
however modest,
to win instant popularity
in the face of nobler calls on our abilities.

Lord Jesus Christ,
You refused to bend the knee to a false god.
Save us from offering our devotion,
however weak,
to cheap or easy religion
in the face of the harder path
on which you bid us to follow you. Amen.

Iona Community

Sunday 6 March
The First Sunday of Lent

‘And in the desert he was tempted’
Matthew 4.1–11

God of the desert,
as we follow Jesus into the unknown,
may we recognise the tempter when he comes;
let it be your bread we eat,
your world we serve
and you alone we worship.

A New Zealand Prayer Book

Saturday 5 March

Consider how you might keep Lent.
No matter what you do or fail to do
God will not love you any more
or any less.
You are already God’s beloved.
What does being loved by God call out
of you today?
Or pray for someone who has
wronged you?
Perhaps you could fast from
an old grudge?
Or make a donation to a foodbank?
Prayer, fasting and almsgiving
are worthless
unless offered from a free heart.

Friday 4 March

Let us be marked
not for false humility
or for thinking
we are less
than we are
but for claiming
what God can do
within the dust,
within the dirt,
within the stuff
of which the world
is made,
and the stars that blaze
in our bones,
and the galaxies that spiral
inside the smudge
we bear.

Jan Richardson

Thursday 3 March

Will you meet us
in the ashes,
will you meet us
in the ache
and show your face
within our sorrow
and offer us
your word of grace …
that you are what
survives the burning,
that you arise
to make us new.
And in our aching,
you are breathing;
and in our weeping,
you are here.

Jan Richardson

Wednesday 2 March
Ash Wednesday

Remember that you are dust
and to dust you shall return.

Collect for Lent

Almighty and everlasting God,
you despise nothing you have made
and forgive the sins of all who are penitent.
Create and make in us new and contrite hearts,
that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our brokenness,
may obtain of you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness;
through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

O God, you have made us for yourself,
and against your longing there is no defence.
Mark us with your love, and release in us a passion for your justice in our disfigured world;
that we may turn from our guilt and face you, our heart’s desire. Amen.

Janet Morley


This sequence of daily readings or prayers for the first ten days of Lent was compiled by Rev Dr Michael Paterson using materials written by him and drawn from a variety of sources. You can download a printable version of the week’s sequence at this link.


Rev Dr Michael Paterson ended his sermon at our Ash Wednesday eucharist with these words:

Remember that you are dust
and to dust you shall return.

Today more than ever
we know that we are dust
and need no reminder.

Today more than ever
we know our helplessness
and need no reminder.

And today, more than ever,
as even hospitals are bombed
and innocent lives taken
we need no reminder
that to dust we shall all return.

And yet tonight,
we who live in freedom,
who have food for tomorrow
and homes to return to tonight
voluntarily surrender to the rhythms of Lent
prayer
fasting
and almsgiving.

Prayer instead of Propaganda.
Fasting instead of Feasting.
Alms instead of Arms.

Tonight,
we who know we are dust
come forward to be marked by ashes left
after the burning
after the bombing
after the destruction.

May God meet us
in the ashes
with grace and with glory.
And may we meet God
in our prayer,
in our fasting
and in our almsgiving for Ukraine this Lent.
Amen.


You can read the whole of the sermon at this link.

Our friend Ann Ostapko and her husband are working hard for the appeal being organised by the Edinburgh Community of Ukrainians in the UK. You can support them via the Community’s Facebook page. Should you prefer to make a direct bank transfer, the details are at the end of the sermon at this link.


On 6 February 2022 we celebrated both Candlemas and the 70th anniversary of the accession of HM Queen Elizabeth. Rev Dr Michael Paterson’s reflection at the St Margaret’s eucharist started

On a day with so much to celebrate,
let’s hear it for the women,
the leading ladies in today’s feast,
whose voices are never heard,
whose stories are told by men.

And he then went on to talk about Anna and Mary, whom we had heard about in the Gospel reading, about HM Queen Elizabeth, and about every woman in the congregation:

In an age
when it’s easier to come out as gay
than it is to come out as Christian,
let’s hear it for every woman here
who will go down in history
because she dares to believe –
despite all the odds –
that God is worth talking about
gossiping about
serving and loving.

Let’s hear it for every mother
and teacher
and Messy Church helper
who passes on the Good News
to the next generation.

Let’s hear it for every woman
who tells her children
that they too – like Anna –
can be evangelists
that they too – like Mary –
can sing of freedom and justice
that they too – like Elizabeth –
can live lives of faithful service.

You just have to read the whole of Michael’s reflection, which is available to download at this link.

At the St Margaret’s eucharist today, Rev Liz Crumlish reflected on Luke 4:21–30. [This is a very much shortened version – do take time to read her whole sermon at this link]

This week I’ve been particularly drawn to the last sentence in our Gospel: “… he passed through the midst of them and went on his way”. How often have you wanted to just keep walking – through the crowd and the noise, through the debates and the discussion, through the anxiety and the confusion, through the posturing and the pontificating? “… he passed through the midst of them and went on his way”.

In a week when we’ve remembered the Holocaust, pledging “never again”, yet knowing that hate crimes are on the rise, and seeing our culture edging closer and closer to the kind of indifference and weariness that allows such intolerance to arise in our midst, I want to retreat.

I want to retreat – not to escape the noise and confusion, but to get my head straight.

I want to retreat – not to ignore all that is going on, but to take it all in.

I want to retreat – not to shirk what God is asking of me, but to discern it anew.

I want to retreat – not to conserve my energy, but to gather my courage to jump back in.

I don’t believe Jesus passed through the midst of them and went on his way to escape what they might do to him. I believe he kept on walking because he had work to do. …  seeing how his own kith and kin reacted, Jesus needed to take time to reset, to get his head straight, to gather his courage, so that he could get back … to demonstrating the costly nature of living out God’s radical message of love and inclusion.

Do not underestimate the power of taking time out to recalibrate.

Do not underestimate the difference you can make.

Do not underestimate the power of love that “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things”. (1 Corinthians 13)

For the love of God.

Amen.

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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