Sunday Service and Bulletin for Sunday 3rd May 2020

Easter 4 2020

Richard writes

It is hard to believe that within the course of a few days, St Mary’s has been deprived of two of its most loved and cherished members, David Miller and Kate Joynson. Our sadness is shared with the community at large.

First, their respective funeral arrangements. Under normal circumstances, memorial services in church would have been held for both. The numbers attending might well be imagined. However, such services are, for the time being at least, impossible. David will be cremated on Thursday 7th May. Timings and details are to be confirmed, but it is planned that the cortege will drive a circuitous route through the parish to allow as many who wish to pay their last respects from the side of the road.

Kate’s burial has been provisionally arranged for Wednesday 13th May.

It is hoped that a full appreciation of David can be published in due course. For Kate, I take the liberty of writing a few words now. I apologise in advance for any factual error.

Just as David’s name was always accompanied by Saffrey’s so Kate was to Peter. We remember Peter presently in lockdown at his care home in Stirling. Theresa tells me that the lockdown in Bermuda is a great deal more stringent than we experience. It will be impossible of her to leave the island for the foreseeable future. Michael is struggling with homeworking in London. Our thoughts and prayers with both. For these wishing to be in touch with Theresa by email, her address is theresa.joynson@googlemail.com

Older members of the community have told me that Kate’s mother was a powerhouse of initiative and energy. Kate was very much her mother’s daughter and did much for the good of others. Her involvement with the Abbeyfield in Aberfoyle will forever be appreciated.

Kate was born at Douglas Mains outside Bearsden, now alas under a housing estate. She and Peter married in Edinburgh in the early fifties. With Theresa and Michael, they lived variously at Braendam Thornhill and outside Cambusbarron before eventually settling at Laraich.

Who of us at one point or another have not enjoyed Kate and Peter’s hospitality? Kate always belittled her culinary skills, but evidence proves otherwise.

 Kate took a wonderfully positive outlook on life, even when Peter’s mobility began to tax her strength.  She possessed delightful eccentricities. She drove in a ‘press on’ fashion, sometimes with and sometimes without spectacles as the mood took her. Her previous vehicle was registered with the letters CAV. David Miller, observing her car one day commented that the Latin word caveat means warning, be on your guard.

Kate always reserved for herself the seventh lesson about sheep and shepherds at the annual Carol Service. She always read wonderfully clearly. But then, anything moving on four legs, especially a dog, was dear to Kate’s heart. With Peter elsewhere, life latterly centred around the welfare of Dan, her golden Labrador.

Kate always valued independence and, thanks largely to the devotion of Alison and Angus, that was made possible to the last.

Dear Kate, rest in God’s peace.

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.

Today’s Service

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

The Collect

Merciful Father,

you gave your Son Jesus Christ to be the good shepherd,

and in his love for us to lay down his life and rise again:

keep us always under his protection,

and give us grace to follow in his steps;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

The Gospels

Gospel 1

John 9

9 As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”

After saying this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man’s eyes. “Go,” he told him, “wash in the Pool of Siloam” (this word means “Sent”). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

His neighbours and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, “Isn’t this the same man who used to sit and beg?” Some claimed that he was.

Others said, “No, he only looks like him.”

But he himself insisted, “I am the man.”

10 “How then were your eyes opened?” they asked.

11 He replied, “The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see.”

12 “Where is this man?” they asked him.

“I don’t know,” he said.

13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14 Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man’s eyes was a Sabbath. 15 Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. “He put mud on my eyes,” the man replied, “and I washed, and now I see.”

16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath.”

But others asked, “How can a sinner perform such signs?” So they were divided.

17 Then they turned again to the blind man, “What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened.”

The man replied, “He is a prophet.”

18 They still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man’s parents. 19 “Is this your son?” they asked. “Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?”

20 “We know he is our son,” the parents answered, “and we know he was born blind. 21 But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don’t know. Ask him. He is of age; he will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders, who already had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 That was why his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 A second time they summoned the man who had been blind. “Give glory to God by telling the truth,” they said. “We know this man is a sinner.”

25 He replied, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!”

26 Then they asked him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”

27 He answered, “I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples too?”

28 Then they hurled insults at him and said, “You are this fellow’s disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29 We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don’t even know where he comes from.”

30 The man answered, “Now that is remarkable! You don’t know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly person who does his will. 32 Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”

34 To this they replied, “You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!” And they threw him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

36 “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.”

37 Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

38 Then the man said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped him.

39 Jesus said,[a] “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.”

40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?”

41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.

Gospel 2

John 10:1-10

10 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

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

‘Matthew, Mark, Luke and John bless the bed that I lie on’. So runs the ancient rhyme about the gospel writers. Mark is largely acknowledged to have written his account of the Good News before Matthew and Luke. John wrote some years after all of them.

Imagine for a moment the four as artists rather than writers, tasked to depict their respective gospels on a blank canvas. Mark would draw Christ’s life in pencil carefully, but with barest detail. Matthew and Luke would add subtle colour and shading to Mark’s account by way of the nativity narratives.  John’s depiction though would be strikingly different, akin to a post-impressionist painter using rich oil colours and vibrant swirling brush strokes to fill the canvas.

As a Gospel writer, John achieves this depth of meaning by placing one narrative next to another, so that the first might illuminate the meaning of the second.

Today we examine an example of John’s juxtaposition. This will explain why two, rather than a single gospel reading are printed.      

Traditionally, the fourth Sunday after Easter Day is observed as Good Shepherd Sunday. In the second gospel, Jesus describes himself as the gate for the sheep, offering the only way in and out of the sheepfold. However, only by reading the first gospel can the imagery of the second be fully explained.

The first gospel narrates how Jesus gave sight to a young man blind from birth by mixing a paste with his saliva and spreading it over the man’s eyes. Later, when the man as instructed by Jesus washed his eyes in the Pool of Siloam, he could see.  Although a miracle, the act was nothing unusual; all four gospel writers bear testimony to Christ’s extraordinary powers of healing.

Having described the incident, John then records the reaction of the watching Pharisees. The young man’s parents were too frightened of them to acknowledge Christ’s powers. Not so their grateful son: he openly confessed to Jesus as an expression of gratitude ‘I believe’ Seeing was indeed believing. (9:38) Jesus then proclaimed to the Pharisees. ‘I have come into the world that the blind might see’ (9:39). The Pharisees, forever on the defensive sprung upon these words. ‘What, are we blind too?’ (9:40)

At this point, the second gospel begins. Jesus’ words about sheep and shepherds were directed against his critics. Jesus spoke of sheep and shepherds, thieves and strangers to explain how giving sight to a man, who had never seen anything, showed the huge difference between true believers, and false prophets who had sight but nevertheless failed to see. To make his point, Jesus drew on one of the most common images in scripture: sheep following their shepherd.

Sheep are mentioned more than 200 times in the Bible. This is hardly surprising because they were important sources of wool, milk and barter. Throughout the Bible, sheep served as a symbol of God’s people. God is portrayed as the shepherd of his chosen flock most famously in the 23rd Psalm.

Sheep share human characteristics. Sheep are followers, copying other sheep, even to slaughter, or into danger. Lambs are conditioned to follow older sheep. Following is an instinct. Sheep are more inclined to follow other sheep than a shepherd.

Sheep find safety in numbers. Since predators attack the outliers, sheep stick closely together. When grazing, sheep will keep at least 4-5 other sheep in view. They are very social animals, and the instinct to flock is strong.

Sheep rarely walk in a straight line. By tracking one side to another, they see what is behind. They can spot danger from up to 1500 yards away, but they have trouble finding a half-open gate without help.

What then of human nature? We are inclined to follow each other more instinctively than to see the Good Shepherd. Before Covid 19 at least, we tend to associate with those we know best and huddle together when danger is sensed. We spend more time looking behind, than walking ahead. Consequently, we are blind to the shepherd and the open gate of the sheepfold.

By placing the texts side by side, John underlines the importance of believers seeing and recognizing the shepherd. The young man had sight given to him and, as a result, believed. The Pharisees had sight and yet were blinded and consequently failed to recognize the Messiah.

Jesus says he is the Gate, the way to safety and green pasture. Do we see the gate?

The prayer

O Lord, may we find you amid our trials. We pray that You would teach us what it means to see beyond our troubles, knowing that You are with us.  Even so, Lord God, we see the challenges those around us are facing. We ask You to intervene, to be with those who are in need, to prompt us to participate with You as You care for your people, and, most of all, to restore creation and to make all things new. We pray that we would not be anxious, but that You would give us Your peace. Let us live differently during this trial so that the world might see You in us. 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:

The Hymn:

For today, there can only be one possible choice. This was written by Sir Henry Williams Baker, Bart., eldest son of Admiral Sir Henry Loraine Baker. He was born in London in May 1821, and educated at Trinity College, Cambridge. Taking Holy Orders in 1844, he became, in 1851, Vicar of Monkland, Herefordshire. This benefice he held to his death in February 1877. He succeeded to the Baronetcy in 1851. This hymn is his best known and the last audible words upon his dying lips were those of the third verse. Listen on YOutube

   1    The King of love my shepherd is,
            whose goodness faileth never;
        I nothing lack if I am his
            and he is mine for ever.

   2       Where streams of living water flow
            my ransomed soul he leadeth,
        and where the verdant pastures grow
            with food celestial feedeth.

   3       Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
            but yet in love he sought me,
        and on his shoulder gently laid,
            and home rejoicing brought me.

   4       In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
            with thee, dear Lord, beside me;
        thy rod and staff  my comfort still,
            thy cross before to guide me.

   5       Thou spread’st a table in my sight;
            thy unction grace bestoweth;
        and O what transport of delight
            from thy pure chalice floweth!

   6       And so through all the length of days
            thy goodness faileth never:
        good Shepherd, may I sing thy praise
            within thy house for ever.

Conclusion

The God of peace, who brought from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, make us perfect to in every good work to do his will; and the blessing of God Almighty the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit be with us all evermore

Amen.