Monthly Archives: March 2021

New Rector Announcement

We are delighted to announce that the Reverend Jonathan (Jon) Connell has been appointed to serve as Rector of St Mary’s, Aberfoyle and St Andrew’s, Callander, from July 2021.

Jon has been Priest-in-Charge of the Pembroke Family of Churches in Bermuda since 2017. He and his family will be very welcome as they join us here in the Linkage.

Linkage Service Sunday 21st March

01877 330448

Lent 5   21st March 2021   “We wish to see Jesus.”

As we enter Passiontide, the stark reality of the Cross faces all who seek to encounter Jesus; but it is the only life-giving way.

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.

       Lord, have mercy.   Christ have mercy.    Lord have mercy.

Collect:   Almighty God, your Son came into the world to free us all from sin and death.  Breathe upon us with the power of your Spirit, that we may be raised to new life in Christ and serve you in holiness and righteousness all our days; through the same Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen

Reading:  Jeremiah 31:27-34
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals. And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the Lord. 
The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the Lord. 
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

Gospel:   John 12:20-36
Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 
Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honour.
“Now my soul is troubled. And what should I say – ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it is for this reason that I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd standing there heard it and said that it was thunder. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 
Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not for mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 

Reflection:   
The ‘Greeks’ in today’s gospel wanted to see Jesus. They were not asking to join the disciples; they were not challenging claims about Jesus; they just wanted to meet him, experience what it was like to be in his presence.  They were curious about spiritual things and open to an encounter with the divine mystery.

Quite a lot of people today are like them and might describe themselves as ‘spiritual but not religious’.  We need to ask ourselves whether our church services would help them to encounter Jesus. How can we create opportunities to do so?  We also need to ask whether we ourselves truly have this hunger to meet Jesus, to enter the mystery of his presence and be changed by it.

Jesus immediately faces the spiritual seekers and his disciples with the reality of who he is.  This is no soft guru promising a comforting ride into bliss.  His mission is to give himself so fully in love that he loses his life but opens the door to a whole new dimension of life lived in the presence of God. 

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”  If anyone wishes to see Jesus, they must allow themselves to be lifted to the Cross, to the self-giving love of others that is the road to life. Such love has to be the starting point of our encounter with God.  When it fills the world, as the Lord in Jeremiah says, “they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest”.  

Prayers of intercession:

Loving and gracious God, we lift our prayers to you, knowing that you hear all our prayers, whether spoken or unspoken, for you know all that is on our hearts and minds. 

We hold before you the world and its anguish:  the peoples of Myanmar, Lebanon, Syria, and Yemen, remembering those in refugee camps, those in prison, those ill and hungry without hope of a better future.

God of all justice, bring the nations to work better together for the good of all.  May the Covid vaccine be distributed fairly;  may help be given where it is needed;  may we learn to respect and honour one another.

Sustain those who devote themselves to the wellbeing of others, and protect all in healthcare and social services, defence and security, education and community service.

Holy God, renew your Church as we follow your Son to the Cross and beyond.  Uphold Christians persecuted for their faith, especially in the Middle East, and those who feel disconnected from their congregations by current restrictions. May their closeness to Jesus sustain them.

O God, whose will it is that all should find salvation and come to know the truth: receive the prayers and petitions which we offer in faith and love; through him who gave proof of your purpose, and who sacrificed himself to win freedom for all the world, Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.

Confession:
God is love and we are God’s children. There is no room for fear in love.

We love because God loved us first. 
Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

God our Father, we confess to you and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,

and in what we have failed to do.   We are truly sorry.  
Forgive us our sins, and deliver us from the power of evil,

for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord. 
      God, who is both power and love, forgive us
      and free us from our sins, heal and strengthen us by his Spirit 
      and raise us to new life in Christ our Lord.  Amen

The Great Thanksgiving

Let us lift up our hearts and give thanks to the Lord our God.

It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Worship and praise belong to you, maker of light and darkness. 
Your wisdom draws beauty from chaos, brings a harvest out of sorrow and leads the exiles home. In Christ your Son enemies are reconciled, debts forgiven, and strangers made welcome.

Your Spirit frees us to live as sons and daughters in our Father’s house.

We who by Christ’s power follow the way of the Cross,

sharing the joy of his obedience, now 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 Christ in whom the world is reconciled. Lifted on the Cross, his suffering and forgiveness spanned the gulf our sins had made.  Through that dark struggle death was swallowed up in victory, that life and light might reign.

Before he was given up to suffering and death, recalling the night of Israel’s release, the night in which the sons of Egypt died, your Chosen One, himself the First-Born, freely offered his life.

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.

Jesus, Lamb of God, have mercy on us.        
Jesus, bearer of our sins, have mercy on us.
Jesus, redeemer of the world, grant us peace.

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

Closing prayer: Christ crucified draw us to himself, to find in him a sure ground for faith, a firm support for hope, and the assurance of sins forgiven; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be with us all, this day and for evermore.  Amen

In 1886, a young American singer called Peter Bilhorn asked his minister for words to set to music.  This hymn was the result, and Bilhorn invented a portable pump organ to use in the evangelism he undertook on the streets and in prisons.
Hear the hymn sung at 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U-EZ_JpHFf0

I will sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me;
how he left the realms of glory for the cross on Calvary:
Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me,
sing it with his saints in glory, gathered by the crystal sea.

I was lost, but Jesus found me, found the sheep that went astray,
raised me up and gently led me back into the narrow way.  
Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me,
sing it with his saints in glory, gathered by the crystal sea.

He will keep me till the river rolls its waters at my feet;
then He’ll bear me safely over, where the loved ones I shall meet.
Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story of the Christ who died for me,
sing it with his saints in glory, gathered by the crystal sea.

Closing prayer: 
May the Lord who brought us all to birth, strengthen us for daily life.  May the Lord who provides for all our needs sustain us day by day.  May the Lord whose steadfast love is for all, send us out to live and work for others. 

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be with us and remain with us always.    Amen.

As we return to churches on Palm Sunday we give very grateful thanks to Revd Canon Alison Peden for providing us with services over the last months and for guiding and supporting us through these difficult times.