Good morning, last Sunday the congregation of Newbattle Parish worshipped at home or briefly in small numbers praying in the church at Mayfield and Easthouses. Today I’d like to welcome you to our online worship, a time of connection to God and to each other on this Sunday morning. If you are from Newtongrange, Newbattle, Mayfield and Easthouses or further afield, welcome. Jesus promised that wherever 2 or 3 are gathered he would be there also and so: The Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ is with us all.
Let’s listen for the word of God on this 5th Sunday in Lent, please read this passage in your own bible John 11 v 17 – 44
Whereas the gospels of Mark, Luke, and Matthew prefer more indirect expressions of Jesus’ divinity through parable, John’s gospel surprises us with frequent and startlingly personal expressions of self-disclosure, in seven signs. Each of the seven signs, or miracles, contains some element of disclosure, and these verses from John’s gospel are no different. This, the story of the raising of Lazarus, is the last of the seven signs, and it prefigures the events of Holy Week, with so many similarities… a tomb near Jerusalem, and a tomb blocked by a large stone, and the question, “Where have you laid Him?” (v.34) Jesus declares that He is the resurrection and the life; and we also see His humanity, in the shortest verse in the Bible; Jesus wept. (v.35, NRSV He began to weep.)
Showing what it is to be human and pointing to the divine – that’s what Jesus did during his time on earth and I believe it’s what you and I are called to do in our time as well. To try and clothe ourselves with the truly beautiful human qualities of compassion, patience, kindness, gentleness – what the bible calls the fruits of the spirit but also empathy, to be able to understand what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes and be able to accompany them on the road (as we talked about yesterday in our Thought for the Day). But our humanity, beautiful as it is, is also fragile; susceptible to breaking down physically and mentally, open to disease and illness and inevitably conscious of death. Our gospel passage today reminds us that the gift of humanity is an incredible force that brings people together – we can imagine how much it would mean to Mary and Martha that Jesus wept with them -but when life as we know it breaks down and we realise how little we can actually control, when death stops life in it’s tracks – we need to be pointed towards the divine, “signposted” as we would say in today’s language, to the spiritual aspect of our being – we need a power bigger than ourselves, we need the Divine, God the Father, Christ the Son, the Holy Spirit our guide.
I am reminded of the words I usually say at every funeral I conduct before I pray with a family:
“Lord, to whom can we go but to you; for you alone have the words of eternal life.”
When our own human words seem inadequate in difficult days of suffering and grief, we turn to the words of Jesus and let these eternal truths work within us and around us; bringing healing, transformation and resurrection to our lives and to our world.
On Wednesday this past week, people across Scotland were invited to say the Lord’s Prayer at 11am on the 25 March. The was in response to an invitation from Pope Francis sent to all Christian leaders in which he asked that we invoke “together the graces from heaven” and ask “for the end of this pandemic”. Right Rev Colin Sinclair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, said: “At a time when normal life is falling apart it is wonderful when Christians come together.
“The Lord’s prayer is a wonderfully comprehensive prayer and within it can be found all we need to say.
“I warmly commend Pope Francis’ call for churches around the world to unite in this way.”
Let’s share the Lord’s prayer together now
*11am has been chosen to coincide with midday in Italy so the Lord’s Prayer can be said at the same time.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who 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,
the power and the glory,
There are many ways for us to stay connected in faith in our wide church family at this time as you’ll see from the link below:
Church groups across Scotland are asking Christians to continue to join in prayer at 7pm on Sundays – following the huge response to the National Day of Prayer on Sunday the 22nd March. Please light your candle in the window and pray with us tonight.
Joint prayer from Christians in Scotland:
We turn to you, our
Father, for we need your help.
Lord Jesus, as you have promised, be with us, whatever lies ahead,
Strengthen us, Holy Spirit, as we face this together.
We pray for our world
and our country,
as coronavirus threatens our lives and our livelihood, leaving many in lockdown,
while key workers continue, despite the risk.
We pray for government
leaders at Westminster and Holyrood,
responding to medical and scientific advice,
making tough decisions for the wellbeing of all.
We pray for all who
serve on the frontline in the NHS and in social care;
facing increasing numbers, overstretched resources
and distressing human need.
Bless those who are
ill, those who are alone and afraid,
those exhausted looking after their family, those worried for the vulnerable,
those fearful for their finances, those shut in to their fears.
Thank you for those
who have returned from retirement to help,
or joined the volunteer army.
Thank you for those working:
to manufacture needed resources,
to find a vaccine,
to keep in contact with the isolated,
to encourage others at this time.
Have mercy on us, O
Give us faith, hope and love and hear our prayers,
in Jesus’ name. Amen