30 March 2020
Psalm 23 translated by Eugene Peterson
God, my shepherd! I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows; you find me quiet pools to drink from.
True to your word, you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure. You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies. You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing. Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.
Are you suffering from a drooping head?
Sometimes using different translations brings nothing new to your familiar scripture but I love Eugene Peterson’s translation of the 23rd Psalm. I decided today we could take some time out and reflect on this psalm but then again what part would be the best part to reflect on? Each line of this psalm seems to lift us to a better place, each new and unfamiliar word seems to make me stop and re-read the line.
We talk about being in a “lockdown” situation immediately giving it a negative vibe while in fact we are sitting in the comfort of our own homes and hopefully safe and warm. Isn’t it amazing that the psalmist is telling praising God and saying “ you let me catch my breath” and in times when we feel vulnerable “ your trusty crook makes me feel secure” and when the negativity sets in “ you revive my drooping head”
Let's just think for a minute. We know the “ you” in the Psalm is God. But what if we just for today think that “ you” is in fact YOU. You’ve never been in a better position to let someone else catch his or her breath. Wouldn’t it be nice to remind someone that you’re there for them and can lift their spirits? Even confined to your own house your shepherding skills can still work on social media or even a wee phone call. That way someone will feel more loved and more cherished. And who knows if we all did this there would be less “ drooping heads” on this last Monday in March.
The Lord IS our shepherd and we are his sheep but even sometimes the sheep should look out for each other. Amen
29 March 2020
28 March 2020
Luke 24 verses 45-53
Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshipped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.
27 March 2020
Psalm130 A song of ascents.
Out of the depths I cry to you, Lord; Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, Lord, kept a record of sins, Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, so that we can, with reverence, serve you. I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word I put my hope.
I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption. He himself will redeem Israel from all their sins.
Someone commented the other day about the recent spate of panic buying and thought there might be now a spate of ‘panic praying’ ( because of Covid19). We are not all prone to panic buying, we don’t see the sense in it and we will do everything we can to resist. Panic praying? Now that’s another matter. We should pray when we feel the need. We should pray more as the need increases and as our situation worsens. As your usual store runs out of food we will never run out of prayer. The shop might be closed but God is always there. We might however run out of words. Panic sets in. Our natural ability to effectively pray somehow leaves us. What do we do? We turn to the Psalms. Psalm 130 is a natural prayer for us as we cry out for mercy, bathe in his unfailing love and his Amazing Grace.
26 March 2020
Ezekiel 2:8 - 3:3 New International Version (NIV)
"But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people; open your mouth and eat what I give you.” Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe. And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.
As is said before these readings are taken from The Lectionary which is a calendar of readings appropriate to this time of the Christian Calendar. So you can suddenly see how appropriate they are to the lives we are living at the moment.
As we see that the food in the supermarkets is becoming scarce due to panic buying it would be easy to say that the food that we get from reading the word of God would suffice, but we know we need a little more than that to survive.
The reading from Ezekiel tells us "Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth." And that is so true when we apply it to the readings we love in the Bible. Apart from John 3:16 another of my favourite readings is from Jude verses 24 and 25
"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."
Its a quick prayer of sustenance, thanksgiving and reassurance and words that will keep us standing in his grace and glory over the coming days. Words that are sweet as honey in our mouth, we don't have to look far in our Bible and in our hymn books...
Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blessed
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love
25 March 2020
But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.
And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.
He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."
Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I am a virgin?"
The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.
For nothing will be impossible with God."
Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her.
Stedfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior's love.
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift or firm remain?
24 March 2020
Colossians 1:9-14 New International Version (NIV)
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
After all the news bulletins and the stuff we see on Social Media that we would rather not see. It's good to turn to The Word. Today's reading reads like a beautiful heartfelt prayer and its a prayer full of promise giving us wisdom understanding, strength endurance and patience. But this prayer reminds us that we have to give Him joyful thanks as He brings us from the darkness into the light. And more importantly to the kingdom of the Son he loves. Yesterday we reflected on the words of Jesus bids us shine and we were likened to a little candle burning in the light. Today we continue to bathe in that light as we "stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene, and wonder how He could love me,
A sinner condemned, unclean. How marvellous! How wonderful! And my song shall ever be: How marvellous! How wonderful! Is my Savior’s love for me!"
23 March 2020
John 4 from verse 43
Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe
When the two days were over, Jesus went from that place to Galilee (for Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honour in the prophet’s own country). When he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, since they had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the festival; for they too had gone to the festival.
Then he came again to Cana in Galilee where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a royal official whose son lay ill in Capernaum. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Then Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my little boy dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way. As he was going down, his slaves met him and told him that his child was alive. So he asked them the hour when he began to recover, and they said to him, “Yesterday at one in the afternoon the fever left him.” The father realized that this was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” So he himself believed, along with his whole household. Now, this was the second sign that Jesus did after coming from Judea to Galilee.
When I read that Jesus said, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe", I wish there was a question mark after this statement. It would make the reading a bit easier for me. But Christianity is not like that. We all want to see different things, we all want to believe different things and Faith is a lot like that.
There are the people who followed Jesus around with a “signs and wonder” faith. Those were the ones full of anticipation and a ‘ what’s next ‘ disposition. Today these kind of people may travel from church to church to find something exciting to see
There were also people in this story that had a ‘crisis’ faith. The man said ‘ whatever it takes help me’. Today these people only call on prayer when they really need something. They may not even go to church.
As you read this lesson for the day there is one thing that is certain. Jesus is listening. No matter how strong your faith is, no matter how weak you are feeling, if you go to him in prayer? He will hear you, He will listen to you and He will comfort you.
“The man believed the word Jesus spoke to him “ and he speaks to us today.
In Christ alone, my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid Ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace
When fears are stilled, when strivings cease
My Comforter, my All in All
Here in the love of Christ, I stand.
22 March 2020
Ephesians 5 from verse 8
8 For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light 9 (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth) 10 and find out what pleases the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. 12 It is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. 13 But everything exposed by the light becomes visible—and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.
Some churches are suggesting that candles should be seen burning at the windows even though they are closed. That suggestion raises many issues. But as sons and daughters of Christ The King we can shine our light on others. There are so many opportunities in today’s weird circumstances that we can shine Gods light on others. We can show our confidence and our faith in his amazing grace through social media. Today’s reading reminds us that “ everything exposed by the light becomes visible and everything illuminated becomes light”
Let’s take this as an opportunity to invite others. Invite them onto this FB page. Invite them to chat to you about what keeps your faith intact. Invite them to get to share your light.
A great childhood memory is singing this at The Good News Club on a Thursday night in Partick Baptist Church
Jesus bids us shine with a clear, pure light,
Like a little candle burning in the night;
In this world of darkness, we must shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.
The Church Of Scotland has invited people of every faith to place a candle in their window at 7.00pm this evening, Sunday 22nd March 2020*
You are invited to join in prayerful solidarity with this witness; these candles will be a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, the source of all hope in this life.
The following prayer can be used when lighting your candle:
For all that is good in life, thank you,
For the love of family and friends, thank you,
For the kindness of good neighbour and Samaritan stranger, thank you.
May those who are vulnerable, hungry or homeless, experience support, May those who are sick, know healing,
May those who are anxious or bereaved, sense comfort.
Bless and guide political leaders and decision-makers, with wisdom,
Bless and guide health workers and key workers, with strength and well-being, Bless and guide each one of us, as we adapt to a new way of living.
And may the light shining from our windows, across road and wynd, glen and ben, kyle and isle, be reflected in our hearts and hands and hopes.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.
* Please take all necessary fire precautions when using a lit candle. Ensure you remain with the lit candle at all times and do not leave it to burn if you leave the room. Ensure there are no fabrics or materials such as curtains near the candle
21 March 2020
- put down your pot. Leave it at the foot of the cross with prayer. Either a prayer of thanksgiving or a prayer for forgiveness or even both. You might even find that your pot will become lighter.
- Always engage with Jesus. The woman at the well did and it changed her life. Through engaging with Christ she got answers and forgiveness and purpose. We can do that through prayer and reading the Word of God.
- Tell others. The Samaritan woman said " come and see a man who told me everything I ever did" and we can do that too. Our Church community is now in a unique position as we are not allowed to meet face to face. But apart from social media there is the phone or an email. Phone one person today that you would not normally phone. Ask them how they are coping with the recent changes. Christ can bring us closer at this time of social distancing
20 March 2020
Luke 7 44-50
Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. 46 You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. 47 Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”48 Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”49 The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”50 Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”
Hospitality and kindness can come from the most unexpected places. Different things please different people. Gifts can be as expensive as they are priceless. I have heard lots of people say ‘ I wish I had faith’ and surely that must count as the second most valuable gift. The guests in this reading from Luke said “ Who is this? who even forgives sins?” Indicating the greatest gift. That is the lamb of God who shows us grace mercy and of course forgiveness. As we ‘social distance’ from each other we must at all times be closer than ever to our Church. We will have to rely even more on all the gifts that are around us ( seen and unseen)so it’s important that we share our faith ( even in a phone call or a letter) our faith is there for all to see. Amen