Monthly Archives: July 2020

Margaret Newman & Dudley Robertson

Margaret Newman & Dudley Robertson

For those who were unable to attend, we thought that you might like to have the Eulogies given by Richard at the funerals of Margaret and Dudley Robertson
Alison thoughtfully suggested that I might write about the funeral services held for Dudley Robertson and Margaret Newman last week. I am grateful for this and to Bishop Ian for allowing me to conduct them.


Dudley’s family and friends are spread far and wide. Because of present restrictions, many were unable to be present. The service at Stirling Crematorium held on the 24th July was therefore streamed.
Words written by John Bunyan sum up Dudley’s life to perfection. Bunyan was an irrepressible seventeenth century itinerate preacher imprisoned for twelve years by order of the King. Whilst in Bedford prison he penned the text of Pilgrims Progress and within it these words later adapted as a hymn. He who would valiant be gains’t all disaster
A good deal of disaster affected Dudley’s life.  His days as an active sportsman ended with the loss of a leg. He became a widower soon after marrying his first wife. Later ill-health reoccurred, necessitating dialysis and even greater loss of mobility.
Bunyan’s hymn continues ‘Hobgoblin nor foul fiend shall daunt his spirit’.  Dudley, like Bunyan exhibited vast reserves of fortitude and never held a grudge against the twists and turns of life’s path. Every problem that arose, and there were many, was solved with a solution.  When, for example immobility affected his golf swing, Dudley simply modified his stroke to enable him still to win a cherished cup.
He was greatly loved everywhere not least by his sisters Fiona and Christine. He made and retained lifelong friends, especially his late brothers in law Derek and Colin. It gave him special pleasure to have brokered their respective marriages to, as he teasingly called them, his ugly sisters.  With no children of his own, he stood as a beloved father figure to his nephews and nieces.
Dudley travelled extensively by sea and so held the role of the RNLI in great respect. He worked as a tireless fundraiser. The Institute expressed its gratitude with the award of a silver medal and by sending a representative to the service.
The hymn ‘Eternal Father’ was played before a reading of Tennyson’s ‘Crossing the Bar’ The poem, rich in nautical metaphor, speaks about life’s journey
Sunset and evening star,
      And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
      When I put out to sea,
 
   But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
      Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
      Turns again home.
 
   Twilight and evening bell,
      And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
      When I embark;
 
   For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
      The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
      When I have crost the bar.


Margaret Newman always envisaged her funeral to be at St Andrews and would include her favourite hymn, ‘There is a Green Hill’ far away’ This was penned by Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander, who also wrote ‘All things bright and beautiful’ and ‘Once in Royal David’s city’. Mrs Alexander married a clergyman, who ultimately became Primate of Ireland. They lived in Derry, Margaret’s birthplace. Mrs. Alexander was of humble disposition and disliked praise and flattery. She died greatly beloved by many she had helped by her kindness. A stained glass window in her memory was installed in the north vestibule of St Columb’s Cathedral in Derry which Margaret knew well.
Perhaps Margaret was inspired by Mrs. Alexander because she possessed all her attributes in abundance.  Margaret’s patient devotion to Crossroads, a local charity, was just one example of her many gifts.
Margaret was interred at the Port of Menteith with her beloved husband Colin who died in 2009. Colin was responsible for the renovation of St Andrews in 2005. They are now reunited. Deo gratis.
 
 


 

Sunday Service – 26th July 2020 – Pentecost 8

The coming of God’s Kingdom is a mysterious divine initiative
that we should humbly watch for and welcome.

With thanks to Revd Canon Alison Peden – our Interim Pastor

Hymn:  listen at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sx1eMwlDFb8

Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven;  to His feet thy tribute bring.
Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven, who like me His praise should sing?
Praise Him ! Praise Him! Praise the everlasting King.

Praise Him for His grace and favour to our fathers in distress.
Praise Him still the same for ever, slow to chide, and swift to bless
Praise Him! Praise Him!  Glorious in His faithfulness.

Father-like He tends and spares us; well our feeble frame He knows.
In His hands He gently bears us, rescues us from all our foes.
Praise Him ! Praise Him ! Widely as His mercy flows.

Angels, help us to adore Him, ye behold Him face to face;
Sun and moon, bow down before Him, dwellers all in time and space.
Praise Him ! Praise Him ! Praise with us the God of grace.

Preparation:  Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord.  Amen

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: the first commandment is this:
“Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love
the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul,
with all your mind and with all Your strength.” The second is this:  “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these.       Amen. Lord, have mercy.

Collect:   O God, protector of all who put their trust in you, without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy:  fill us with your mercy and your grace that with you to rule and guide, we may so use the good things of this present life that we do not neglect things of eternal worth, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Reading     1 Kings 3:5-12:    
At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, ‘Ask what I should give you.’ And Solomon said, ‘You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart towards you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?’

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, ‘Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you.

Gospel    Matthew 13:31-33, 44-52 
Jesus put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed that someone took and sowed in his field; it is the smallest of all the seeds, but when it has grown it is the greatest of shrubs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and make nests in its branches.’
He told them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed in with three measures of flour until all of it was leavened.’
‘The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.’
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it.’
‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net that was thrown into the sea and caught fish of every kind; when it was full, they drew it ashore, sat down, and put the good into baskets but threw out the bad. So it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come out and separate the evil from the righteous and throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
‘Have you understood all this?’ They answered, ‘Yes.’ And he said to them, ‘Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.’

 Reflection:   It’s tempting to react to stress, change and uncertainty with a desire to manage and control what we can, to be active and proactive.  The Church has been flung into a new world, where worship and meetings go online, and where face-to-face is risky.  It’s a world of opportunities and losses, of potential renewal and potential decline.  We don’t really know where we will be in six months’ time, let alone a year hence.  So we are tempted to say:  “But let’s start building the Kingdom of God anyway!”

These ‘parables of the Kingdom’ in our Gospel give us a timely reminder that the initiative is God’s, and the action is God’s.  The first two – the mustard seed and the yeast – point to a persistent weed and an irrepressible fungus which simply get on and grow, whether you want them to or not.  Nothing could stop God sending Jesus to live amongst us;  nothing could stop the growth of Christian faith, and nothing will deter God’s action in the future, though it may take forms that are surprising and unexpected to us.

The second two parables – about selling everything for the treasure and the pearl – describe the kind of action God takes.  Jesus prized humanity, however ‘feeble’ our frame (as the hymn puts it), and gave everything he had for us.  The word used in today’s gospel for ‘bought’ means ‘redeemed’;   we were redeemed for the price of Jesus’ life, because he counted us – even us – to be a treasure and a pearl of great price. God’s kingdom comes at a price that love is willing to pay.

In the face of such dedicated, persistent love and purpose, our own home-grown ideas and plans of how to ‘bring about the Kingdom of God on earth’ are misplaced.  Solomon got it right when he did not ask for what he thought would be most useful, but simply for wisdom to know God’s will for his people.  The Kingdom of justice, compassion, and peace will be God’s gift to us, not our own achievement. 

May we commit ourselves to follow God’s lead, wherever it might take us and whatever it might cost.

Prayers:  We pray today using the hymn ‘Thy kingdom come’. The tune can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1JmfuKNkzw

Thy kingdom come — on bended knee the passing ages pray;
And faithful souls have yearned to see on earth that kingdom’s day.
     We give thanks for Christians through the centuries who have
     handed on the gospel and built the Church that nurtures us.
     We pray for Bishop Ian and for all Christians in our neighbourhood.

But the slow watches of the night not less to God belong,
And for the everlasting right the silent stars are strong.
     We pray for all who see no hope and hear no good news:  the sick,
     the unemployed, the lonely and abused; and especially for …

And lo! already on the hills the flags of dawn appear;
Gird up your loins, ye prophet souls, proclaim the day is near.
      We pray for modern-day prophets whose vision inspires new life,
      new ways of living, new solutions to old problems, new ways to
     understand and accept each other.

The day in whose clear-shining light all wrong shall stand revealed,
When justice shall be clothedin might, and every hurt be healed.
     We pray for those who are denied justice, not treated equally,
     demeaned by prejudice, ignored, despised and rejected.

When knowledge, hand in hand with peace,
shall walk the earth abroad —
The day of perfect righteousness, the promised day of God.
      May we have the grace to share in your Kingdom, Lord,
     through the redemption we have in Christ Jesus.  Amen

The Great Thanksgiving
Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God,
for it is right to give him thanks and praise.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord;
Hosanna in the highest!

Worship and praise belong to you, Father, in every place and at all times.  All power is yours. You created the heavens and established the earth; you sustain in being all that is.
In Christ your Son our life and yours are brought together in a wonderful exchange. He made his home among us that we might for ever dwell in you. Through your Holy Spirit you call us to new birth in a creation restored by love.
As children of your redeeming purpose we offer you our praise,
with angels and archangels and the whole company of heaven,
singing the hymn of your unending glory:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.      
Hosanna in the highest.
Glory and thanksgiving be to you, most loving Father, for the gift of your Son born in human flesh. He is the Word existing beyond time, both source and final purpose, bringing to wholeness all that is made.
Obedient to your will he died upon the Cross. By your power you raised him from the dead. He broke the bonds of evil and set your people free to be his Body in the world.

On the night when he was given up to death, knowing that his hour had come, having loved his own, he loved them to the end. At supper with his disciples he took bread and offered you thanks. He broke the bread, and gave it to them, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body: it is broken for you.” After supper, he took the cup, he offered you thanks, and gave it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my Blood of the new covenant; it is poured out for you, and for all, that sins may be forgiven. Do this in remembrance of me.”

We now obey your Son’s command. We recall his blessed passion and death, his glorious resurrection and ascension; and we look for the coming of his Kingdom. Made one with him, we offer you ourselves, a single, holy, living sacrifice.

Hear us, most merciful Father, and send your Holy Spirit upon us that, overshadowed by his life-giving power, we may be kindled with the fire of your love and renewed for the service of your Kingdom.

Help us, who are baptised into the fellowship of Christ’s Body to live and work to your praise and glory; may we grow together in unity and love until at last, in your new creation, we enter into our heritage in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles and prophets, and of all our brothers and sisters living and departed.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, with whom, and in whom, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all honour and glory be to you, Lord of all ages,
world without end. Amen.

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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory, for ever and ever.   Amen.

The Communion:   draw close to Christ in spirit and thanksgiving,
and be nourished by his presence with you and within you. 

Closing prayer: 
Merciful God,you gave your only Son to be both a sacrifice for sin and an example of godly life:  help us gladly to receive all that he has done for us and follow in his footsteps, through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

May we go in the peace of Christ to love and serve the Lord.  Amen

Sunday Service for 12th July 2020 Trinity 6

Trinity 6

12th July 2020

The Scottish Episcopal Church will this Sunday at 11.00 broadcasting video coverage of its Eucharistic service via its website, social media channels and YouTube channel.  The web page for the broadcast is located at www.scotland.anglican.org/broadcast-sunday-worship The website will also contain a downloadable video and audio format of the service.

SERVICE

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God,

by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church

is governed and sanctified:

hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people,

that in their vocation and ministry

they may serve you in holiness and truth

to the glory of your name;

through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever

Gospel

Matthew 13:1-9

13 That same day Jesus went out of the houseand sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boatand sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore.Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”

The Nicene Creed.

I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered was buried: And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets: And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen.

The Sermon

When Boris Johnson won the last General Election, his government was to enjoy a few weeks ‘honeymoon’ The media spared his administration criticism. It was called ‘Boris Bounce’ Since Covid though, the nation’s mood has quickly reverted. The Government now faces daily denunciation from many quarters.

Christ was granted a positive reception at the outset of his ministry: accordingly, he was invited to preach in the Jerusalem Temple and synagogues. There he painted word pictures for his listeners, lilies of the field, salt, and light. Later, the attitude of his hearers altered and opposition sprung up from many quarters. Jesus was no longer welcomed by the establishment. His ministry then became of necessity itinerate. In today’s gospel Christ is found preaching from a boat. His method of instruction also changed. Dispensing with word pictures, he taught instead by parable, an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. This then is the backdrop to one of the best-known parables, that of the sower.

Except that the story is not so much of a sower, but rather the variety of soil found by the sown seed. The sower is anyone who faithfully proclaims Christ’s message.  The seed is the gospel or the good news of the Kingdom. 

In Palestine, fields were formed in long, narrow strips. The ground between them were pathways whose surface was trampled.  The hardness of the soil precluded the seed from penetrating the earth.  This soil represents any hearer with a closed mind.  Prejudice induces blindness.  An unteachable spirit can erect barriers that cannot easily be broken down.  Both pride and fear can close a mind.  There are none so blind as those who deliberately will not see. 

Another kind of soil was the stony ground.  In Palestine, a thin layer of soil on top of an underlying shelf of limestone was common.  On such ground, the seed might germinate rapidly in the sunshine. Then, lacking depth of soil, it would die for want of moisture or nourishment. This is the person who fails to think: here today and gone tomorrow. Many followed Jesus only for what he might give: healings, feedings, or miracles. 

The third type of soil was good but contained thorns and weeds.  Despite best effort, soil is never free of weed, often growing faster than the seed itself. Human life is busy, crowded, and cluttered.  Work is good and essential but can be an intrusion to devotion. Leisure is good and healthy, but that too can become all consuming. Both, often unnoticed, can overcome God’s word.

The fourth type of soil was deep, clean, and soft.  Here the seed gained an entry and found nourishment.  Good ground is willing to hear, learn and to be corrected. It is never too proud nor too busy to listen.  Priorities are in order and the word received readily translated into action and so bearing fruit.  This is the kind of disciple that God requires. As Jesus concluded, “Let anyone with ears, listen.”

A closing thought. Clergy and their congregations often become dispirited, mistakenly believing that through their own inadequacy, little impression is being made on those about them. This parable is a reminder that not everything said or done even with the best of intention will fall on fruitful ground. This is not caused either by fault or shortcoming, but simply reflects a fact of life. It should not though encourage complacency.

Reflection

We reap what we sow.” Good seeds bear good fruit.

Weeding involves careful judgement like most decisions in life

Pruning and trimming, as painful as it seems, works eventually to the good.

Without rains and storms, both in life and in the garden, there will be no growth.

Deep roots are essential to growth.

In gardening, as in life, short-cuts, slipshod efforts, and neglect are readily evident.

Prayer

Jesus, you sow yourself
The Word of Truth, generously
The Word of Life, graciously

Defend us from the Evil One
Who seeks to snatch us away

Fortify us for hard times and costly discipleship
That we may endure

Deliver us from distraction
From worldly desires and
All that would lure us and choke us with false promises

Till us
Turn us
Enrich us with every blessing of your Spirit
That we may be good, good soil
Forever faithful and fruitful for you
Amen

Confession

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against Thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly Thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings: The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please Thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of Thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Absolution

The Almighty and merciful Lord, grant me pardon and absolution of all my sins. Amen.


The Comfortable Words, Preface. and Sanctus.

Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all who truly turn to Him.
Come unto Me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. St. Matt. xi. 28.
So God loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. St. John iii. 16.

Hear also what Saint Paul saith.
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Tim. i. 15.

Hear also what Saint John saith.
If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and He is the Propitiation for our sins. 1 St. John ii. 1, 2.

Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious Name; evermore praising Thee, and saying,
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory: Glory be to Thee, O Lord Most High. Amen.

In union, O Lord with the faithful, I desire to offer Thee praise and thanksgiving. I present to Thee my soul and body with the earnest wish that may always be united to Thee. And since I can not now receive Thee sacramentally, I beseech Thee to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to Thee and embrace Thee with all the affections of my soul. Let nothing ever separate Thee from me. May I live and die in Thy love. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:

Today’s hymn

With today’s recurring theme of nature, an obvious hymn to sing might be ‘All things bright and beautiful’. There is however a delightful anonymous Dutch carol translated by the nineteenth century hymnist G. R. Woodward.

Each verse of the text uses a different flower as its primary image and receives a contrasting musical setting before the celebratory refrain. While this is often sung at Advent and Christmas, there is nothing about the text to limit it to those seasons. The source of the tune remains anonymous, but it was harmonized by Dr Charles Wood. A professor of music both at Cambridge and in London, his pupils included Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Listen on You Tube Charles Wood or Rutter

1. King Jesus hath a garden, full of divers flowers,
Where I go culling posies gay, all times and hours.

Refrain:
There naught is heard but Paradise bird,
Harp, dulcimer, lute,
With cymbal, trump and tymbal,
And the tender, soothing flute.

2. The Lily, white in blossom there, is Chastity:
The Violet, with sweet perfume, Humanity. Refrain

3. The bonny Damask-rose is known as Patience:
The blithe and thrifty Marigold, Obedience. Refrain

4. The Crown Imperial bloometh too in yonder place,
‘Tis Charity, of stock divine, the flower of grace. Refrain

5. Yet, ‘mid the brave, the bravest prize of all may claim
The Star of Bethlem-Jesus-bless’d be his Name! Refrain

6. Ah! Jesu Lord, my heal and weal, my bliss complete,
Make thou my heart thy garden-plot, fair, trim and neat. Refrain

Blessing

Jesus the sower
whatever I am today, whatever the mix
of path, rock, thorns, or soil
help me to become good ground
for you, for your word and for your presence and the blessing of God Almight the Father Son and Holy Spirit be with us always

Amen

Service for Sunday 5th July 2020 – Trinity 5

Trinity 5

Sunday 5th July 2020

The Scottish Episcopal Church will this Sunday at 11.00 broadcasting video coverage of its Eucharistic service via its website, social media channels and YouTube channel.  The web page for the broadcast is located at www.scotland.anglican.org/broadcast-sunday-worship The website will also contain a downloadable video and audio format of the service.

SERVICE

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

Collect

Almighty and everlasting God,

by whose Spirit the whole body of the Church is governed and sanctified:

hear our prayer which we offer for all your faithful people,

that in their vocation and ministry they may serve you in holiness and truth

to the glory of your name;

through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

For the gospel

Ephesians 2:19-22

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

The Nicene Creed.


I believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, And of all things visible and invisible:
And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God; Begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, Very God of very God; Begotten, not made; Being of one substance with the Father; By whom all things were made: Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary, and was made man: And was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered was buried: And the third day He rose again according to the Scriptures: And ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of the Father: And he shall come again, with glory, to judge both the quick and the dead; Whose kingdom shall have no end.
And I believe in the Holy Ghost, The Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; Who spake by the Prophets: And I believe one Catholic and Apostolic Church: I acknowledge one Baptism for the remission of sins: And I look for the Resurrection of the dead: And the Life of the world to come. Amen.


Sermon

There are doubtless mixed feelings of fear and eagerness as the long period of lockdown starts to change. A desire to reopen our buildings sits alongside the anxiety of charting the unknown.

Our churches first shut their doors on 23 March. They have now been closed longer than any time since Pope Innocent III banned church services between March 1208 and May 1213.

Some within the church have regarded the locked door to be a positive development. One recent report describes the worshipping church as having changed in a matter of weeks from being an “Odeon” to a “Netflix” What precisely does that mean? The typical 1950s cinema offered one film with no alternative. Pre pandemic, choice of church worship was similarly limited. After the 23rd March, a vast variety of service suddenly became available; all at the touch of a button and without the discomfort of a pew.   Now, as a Linkage worshipper, if both the Bulletin Service as well as the Province’s weekly offering prove unacceptable, then a choice of service from churches and cathedrals up and down the land is readily available. We are told that there have been several instances of people coming to faith through this new medium.

Consequently, in some circles this development has emboldened opinion towards abandoning buildings that some simply regard as millstones. An Archdeacon in the Church of England wrote recently “We can’t go back . . . to preserving bricks and mortar” She argued that congregations and weary wardens long to be “released to be church, rather than being burdened with the responsibility of preservation, so that “the new life we have seen emerge in lockdown might blossom and flourish”. These same people are perplexed as to why church buildings need ever be open for prayer, because God listens wherever prayer is offered. The argument of course is nothing new: it is simply that the pandemic has sharpened its focus.

There are of course two sides to any discussion. Many still believe the place of worship essential to spiritual life. The poet T.S Eliot summed up the inviolability of a holy building thus:

. . . wherever a saint has dwelt, wherever a martyr has given his
blood for the blood of Christ,
There is holy ground, and the sanctity shall not depart from it
Though armies trample over it, though sightseers come with
guide books looking over it. . .

For many, it matters greatly that the church door has remained locked during the pandemic. Everyone, believer or not, needs a focal point in time of need. Nothing though is so simple Technically our own churches could now reopen for private devotion. However, there are many onerous conditions imposed by government legislation before this might happen. Both vestries have therefore, wisely decided to defer further consideration until the situation becomes clearer.

At a loose end, I decided a few summers ago to repaint the church railings at Callander. Naturally, passers-by stopped and chatted. None were churchgoers, but readily admitted the comfort derived from seeing St Andrews and its manicured garden as a constant in an ever-changing word. One even donated a pot of paint!

As for St Mary’s I once received a complaint from a cashier working at the then Aberfoyle Motors. It was about the church bell. Why wasn’t it being rung? Although not a churchgoer, he confessed comfort from the knowledge that prayers were being said nearby.

What the novelist Susan Hill writes of cathedrals could equally be said of our churches: “Where else . . . is such a place, where the sense of all past, all present, is distilled into the eternal moment at the still point of the turning world?” She asks another rhetorical question, which amplifies the point: “But surely there are other places that will serve the purpose? To which people may come freely, to be alone among others? To pray, to reflect, to plead, gather strength, rest, summon up courage, to listen to solemn words. What though and where are these other places to which the pilgrim or the traveller, the seeker, the refugee, the petitioner, or the thanksgiver may quietly come, anonymously, perhaps, without fear of comment or remark, question or disturbance?” Her question is perhaps answered by the poet Philip Larkin. A church is “a serious house on serious earth”

With all these hopes and anxieties in mind, Bishop Ian will be leading discussion with vestry members in August to explore this question in practical and spiritual terms. This might frame thought in readiness.

Prayer:  

Thank you, gracious God, for the privilege of being part of your building, your dwelling, your temple. Today, I offer myself to you, so that you might put me exactly where you want me to be, so that I might contribute to the building of your home on earth. I pray for my home church, that we might truly live as your dwelling in the world. Amen

Confession

Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of all things, Judge of all men; We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, Which we, from time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed, Against Thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly Thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings: The remembrance of them is grievous unto us; The burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, Have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For Thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, Forgive us all that is past; And grant that we may ever hereafter Serve and please Thee In newness of life, To the honour and glory of Thy Name; Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Absolution

The Almighty and merciful Lord, grant me pardon and absolution of all my sins. Amen.


The Comfortable Words, Preface. and Sanctus.

Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all who truly turn to Him.
Come unto Me, all ye that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. St. Matt. xi. 28.
So God loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. St. John iii. 16.

Hear also what Saint Paul saith.
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. 1 Tim. i. 15.

Hear also what Saint John saith.
If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous; and He is the Propitiation for our sins. 1 St. John ii. 1, 2.

Therefore with Angels and Archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify Thy glorious Name; evermore praising Thee, and saying,
HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God of hosts, Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory: Glory be to Thee, O Lord Most High. Amen.

In union, O Lord with the faithful, I desire to offer Thee praise and thanksgiving. I present to Thee my soul and body with the earnest wish that may always be united to Thee. And since I can not now receive Thee sacramentally, I beseech Thee to come spiritually into my heart. I unite myself to Thee and embrace Thee with all the affections of my soul. Let nothing ever separate Thee from me. May I live and die in Thy love. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer:

Today’s hymn (Listen on Yoube ?)

1 We love the place, O God,
wherein thine honour dwells;
the joy of thine abode
all earthly joy excels.

2 We love the house of prayer,
wherein thy servants meet;
and thou, O Lord, art there
thy chosen flock to greet.

3 We love the sacred font;
for there the holy Dove
to pour is ever wont
his blessing from above.

4 We love thine altar, Lord;
O what on earth so dear?
for there, in faith adored,
we find thy presence near.

5 We love the word of life,
the word that tells of peace,
of comfort in the strife,
and joys that never cease.

6 We love to sing below
for mercies freely given;
but O we long to know
the triumph-song of heaven.

7 Lord Jesus, give us grace
on earth to love thee more,
in heaven to see thy face,
and with thy saints adore.

The author, The Revd William Bullock was born in 1797 at Prittwell, Essex, but later emigrated to Canada. He died in March 1874 at Halifax, Nova Scotia.
Bullock was first the Anglican rector of St. Paul’s in Trinity, Newfoundland and later of St. Luke’s Church, Halifax, Nova Scotia. When the church was designated a cathedral in 1864, Bullock was appointed St. Luke’s first dean.
Bullock’s descendants relate a family story that the author was criticized for not including a verse in the hymn about the pulpit. He replied with characteristic wit: “Perhaps this is what I should write:
We love thy pulpit Lord,
For there the word of man
Lulls the worshiper to sleep
As only sermons can.”

The hymn is sung to Quam Dilecta

Blessing

Grant, O Lord, we beseech you,

that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered

by your governance, that your Church may joyfully serve you

in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord

and the blessing of God Almighty, the Father Son and Holy Spirit be with us always

Amen