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Sunday Service and Bulletin for 31st May 2020

Sunday 31st May 2020

Pentecost Sunday

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

God, who as at this time

taught the hearts of your faithful people

by sending to them the light of your Holy Spirit:

grant us by the sa9me Spirit

to have a right judgement in all things

and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort;

through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever

For the Gospel:

Acts 2 1-21

2 When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,[b] 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11 (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” 12 Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

13 Some, however, made fun of them and said, “They have had too much wine.”

14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:

17 “‘In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.
18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
    and they will prophesy.
19 I will show wonders in the heavens above
    and signs on the earth below,
    blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20 The sun will be turned to darkness
    and the moon to blood
    before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21 And everyone who calls
    on the name of the Lord will be saved.’

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

Once upon a time, Pentecost Sunday was known as Whitsun. Whit Sunday was not merely observed; rather it was celebrated in style equal to Christmas and Easter. The annual Sunday School treat often occurred at Whit, frequently involving a journey, either by steam train or on a hay wain pulled by a farmer’s traction engine. Soot smuts played havoc with the white frocks and shirts customarily worn for the day    It did not matter that children were late to bed on Whit Sunday, because the next day was a rare holiday.  Alas in 1967, the secular world spoilt everything. Whitsun was changed to become the ‘Late Spring Bank Holiday’ a Monday fixed at the end of May rather than being governed by the church calendar. Whit changed its name to Pentecost and somehow since then it has become a normal Festival.

Normal?  No Christian Festival commemorates a routine occurrence. A child born to a virgin at Christmas and a man returning from dead at Easter. The same man ascending to heaven in a cloud at Ascension and now Pentecost, another unique happening as evidenced by today’s reading from Acts.

It was no coincidence that at the first Pentecost, believers were gathered in Jerusalem. Pentecost was already established as a Jewish festival: a celebration of the harvest. For that reason, the disciples were gathered as they had always done before.

Perhaps the disciples were craving the familiarity and certainty of this ancient festival to make amends for the turmoil they had experienced during the previous weeks. Nearly sixty days before, they had entered Jerusalem with their master and witnessed a crowd waving palms and giving a hero’s welcome. They then saw Jesus arrested. After being falsely tried and tortured he was crucified.  The disciples ran away to hide, only then to hear about the resurrection from Mary Magdalene. Later, in the Upper Room, they again saw Jesus in the flesh. Then forty days after that, they witnessed his Ascension to heaven. Their experience had been emotionally exhausting. Alas for the disciples, there would be no respite. God would use Pentecost to again surprise them.

 Those present at Pentecost experienced wind like a tornado and saw tongues of fire. Each believer then felt compelled to speak uncontrollably in tongues.  Hearing this seemingly bizarre outpouring, bystanders naturally judged the believers to be intoxicated. But Peter assured them: what they were experiencing was the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

We all receive strange presents from time to time. We smile graciously at the source, but secretly ponder why the gift should be given and how it should be used. The Spirit is a precious gift from God, given to fulfil a divine promise that believers will never be left alone but have the comfort of the Holy Spirit.

The Spirit is manifest in its activity, akin to a jewel that when held to the light, reveals different hues at every turn. As today’s reflection, the words of the nineteenth century hymnwriter Harriet Auber describe the many aspects of the Spirit.  

Reflection

Our blest Redeemer, ere he breathed
his tender last farewell,
a Guide, a Comforter, bequeathed
with us to dwell.

He came in tongues of living flame,
to teach, convince, subdue;
all-powerful as the wind he came,
as viewless too.

He came sweet influence to impart,
a gracious, willing guest,
when he can find one humble heart
wherein to rest.

And his that gentle voice we hear,
soft as the breath of ev’n,
that checks each fault, that calms each fear,
and speaks of heav’n.

And ev’ry virtue we possess,
and ev’ry victory won,
and ev’ry thought of holiness,
are his alone.

Spirit of purity and grace,
our weakness, pitying, see;
O make our hearts thy dwelling-place,
and worthier thee.

Prayer

Lord, you challenge us with Pentecost.
Do we believe that this
was a once in eternity experience,
never to be repeated?
That the Holy Spirit was poured out
on your followers for a single purpose,
and ended His work at that instant?
If so, then maybe that is why the Church
seems so powerless in this age,
helpless when faced with the needs
both spiritual and physical,
that we see in the world.
Lord, as we meet together ,
and celebrate once again
the memory of that first Pentecost,
may it be for us as it was then
an awareness of your Glory in this dark world,
 and a life changing experience.

 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 Youtube ?

   1       Come down, O Love divine,
            seek thou this soul of mine,
        and visit it with thine own ardour glowing;
            O Comforter, draw near,
            within my heart appear,
        and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.

   2          O let it freely burn,
            till earthly passions turn
        to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
            and let thy glorious light
            shine ever on my sight,
        and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

   3          Let holy charity
            mine outward vesture be,
        and lowliness become mine inner clothing:
            true lowliness of heart,
            which takes the humbler part,
        and o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

   4          And so the yearning strong,
            with which the soul will long,
        shall far outpass the power of human telling;
            for none can guess its grace,
            till he become the place
        wherein the Holy Spirit makes his dwelling.

Bianco da Siena (d.1434)
translated by  Richard Frederick Littledale (1833–1890)

Bianco da Siena born circa 1350 was an Italian poet and wool worker. In 1367 he entered the Order of Jesuates, who followed the rule of St. Augustine. Within the order, he wrote his hymn Discendi, amor santo. The words might well have passed to obscurity, but for the renewed interest in ancient hymnody by translators such as Richard Littledale born in Dublin in 1833. The words are sung to the tune ‘Down Ampney’. Its composer Ralph Vaughan Williams named it after his birthplace in Gloucestershire. He became the chief figure both in the realm of British and church music during the first half of the twentieth century. Despite the latter, he remained, as a friend once described him, ‘a cheerful agnostic’ all his life.

Weekly news – recent emails and messages

College of Bishops Message 28th May 2020

Bishop Ian Message 26th May 2020

Episcopal Resources 26th May 2020

Linkage Bulletin and Sunday service for 24th May 2020

Sunday after Ascension Day 2020

SERVICE

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

Collect

O God the King of glory,

you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ

with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:

we beseech you, leave us not comfortless,

but send your Holy Spirit to strengthen us

and exalt us to the place where our Saviour Christ is gone before,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

The Ministry of the Word

The Epistle

Acts 1:4-10

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with[a] water, but in a few days you will be baptized with[b] the Holy Spirit.”

Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”

He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them

The Gospel

John 17:1-11

17 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:

“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

“I have revealed you[a] to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of[b] your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one.

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

The events of the past weeks prove that life can change quite unexpectedly, and remarkably fast. But then, life itself is a process of transformation, dictated by any number of situations and circumstances.   

In the early part of human life, change comes thick and fast. A child will hopefully morph to adulthood and takes its place in society. In later years, the pace of change slows.  Therefore, when circumstances do alter, they often prove unwelcome and bring apprehension and threat to a perceived security.

Alas, it is impossible to flourish in life without acceptance of the inevitability of change, whether for good or ill.

Last Thursday was Ascension Day, the thirty ninth after Easter. The Ascension itself marked a moment of dramatic change for early Christians. The scriptures describe the Ascension in words every bit as mysterious and magical as the account of the Nativity. Mediaeval and Renaissance artists depict the Ascension as Christ’s figure departing to the clouds with humanity gazing at his rapidly disappearing feet. The artistic perception will have been based upon an understanding of a flat earth with the sky above encompassing the heavens. At the time, Jesus’ departure and return to God could naturally only be explained in these terms. Scientific discovery has since proved the earth neither to be flat nor the centre of the universe. Ancient theological imagery therefore has its limitations when set against modern rationalist understanding. What today then is the true meaning of the Ascension?

Mrs Alexander beautifully summarised the nativity in her Christmas carol ‘Once in Royal David’s City’

   He came down to earth from heaven
            who is God and Lord of all,
        and his shelter was a stable,
            and his cradle was a stall;
        with the poor and mean and lowly
        lived on earth our Saviour holy.

The words tell of the entry of divinity, the Christ child, into human experience. By Ascension Day thirty or so years later, events had turned full circle. Jesus’ earthly life had finished, and his humanity become one with the Divine.

Christ’s departure naturally wrought great change to the lives of the earliest believers. Jesus’ immediate, visible presence was at an end. Jesus had though previously warned of change. “In a little while you will see me no more. But a little while after that, you will see me again.” (John 16:16).  Nevertheless, his followers must have found both their lives and understanding changed, as his presence would now be felt in a vastly different way. They had to recognize that Jesus’ life could stilltransform theirs – even though he could no longer be seen.

The Ascension therefore marks a change and one that needs not to be ignored but addressed. Change inevitably leaves the past and familiar behind. Ascension was and is a time of change and transformation. The first believers could not cling to the dangling feet to pull Jesus back down to earth and neither can we.

This momentous change has though only just begun. Pentecost has yet to arrive. 

The Reflection

We saw his light break through the cloud of glory
Whilst we were rooted still in time and place
As earth became a part of Heaven’s story
And heaven opened to his human face.
We saw him go and yet we were not parted
He took us with him to the heart of things
The heart that broke for all the broken-hearted
Is whole and Heaven-centered now, and sings,
Sings in the strength that rises out of weakness,
Sings through the clouds that veil him from our sight,
Whilst we ourselves become his clouds of witness
And sing the waning darkness into light,
His light in us, and ours in him concealed,
Which all creation waits to see revealed

A prayer

Lord, give Your people Your peace that we may shine brightly in a dark world. Grant us the courage to live faithfully even amid hard times. Let our fear of You be the beginning of wisdom rather than allowing the fear of the world to drive our actions. Help us to embrace our heavenly citizenship and live strangely in the midst of a world that needs to know You.  

Show Your mercy and heal those who are suffering in Your fallen creation. Most of all Lord, come. Restore the world You have made and make all things new. We pray that Your will would be done. 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 Listen on YouTube

   1    Hail the day that sees him rise, Alleluia,
        to his throne above the skies; Alleluia,
        Christ, the Lamb for sinners given, Alleluia,
        enters now the highest heaven. Alleluia!

   2       There for him high triumph waits;
        lift your heads, eternal gates.
        He hath conquered death and sin;
        take the King of Glory in.

   3       Lo, the heaven its Lord receives,
        yet he loves the earth he leaves;
        though returning to his throne,
        still he calls mankind his own.

   4       See, he lifts his hands above;
        see, he shews the prints of love;
        hark, his gracious lips bestow
        blessings on his church below.

   5       Still for us he intercedes,
        his prevailing death he pleads;
        near himself prepares our place,
        he the first-fruits of our race.

   6       Lord, though parted from our sight,
        far above the starry height,
        grant our hearts may thither rise,
        seeking thee above the skies.

Hail the Day that Sees Him Rise” by Charles Wesley (1707-1788) was published in 1739 One upon a time the BBC Home Service would play this before broadcasting began on an Ascension Day morning. Alas, this is no longer possible in our politically correct age.
The first verse explains Jesus’ ascension and the second his destination, the gates of heaven, which accept Christ in glory. The fourth verse assures believers of Christ’s continued investment in the lives of those on earth. in comparison to his heavenly inheritance described in the previous lines. The final stanzas present Christ as the continuous intercessor for humankind, leading us finally to eternal union with God.

St Mary’s Bulletin & Service for Sunday 17th May 2020

Easter 6 2020

Richard writes

Kate Joynson RIP

Kate’s funeral took place in bright sunshine at Aberfoyle cemetery on Wednesday last week. As with David Miller, many turned out to line the route of the cortege. This gesture was greatly appreciated by Theresa and Michael. Mercifully, Theresa was able to join the service from Bermuda by courtesy of Kate’s niece Molly who possesses great technical prowess.

At the graveside, Michael read his mother’s favourite poem and Molly a prayer wholly appropriate to Kate’s lifelong concern for the welfare of others. Both are reproduced below.

I thank Thee God, that I have lived
In this great world and known its many joys;
The song of birds, the strong sweet scent of hay
And cooling breezes in the secret dusk,
The flaming sunsets at the close of day,
Hills and lovely, heather-covered moors,
Music at night, and moonlight on the sea,
The beat of waves upon the rocky shore
And wild white spray, flung high in ecstasy:
The faithful eyes of dogs, and treasured books,
The love of kin and fellowship of friends
And all that makes life dear and beautiful.

I thank Thee too, that there has come to me
A little sorrow and sometimes defeat,
A little heartache and the loneliness
That comes with parting and the words, “Good-bye”;
Dawn breaking after dreary hours of pain
When I discovered that night’s gloom must yield
And morning light break through to me again.
Because of these and other blessings poured
Unmasked upon my wondering head,
Because I know that there is yet to come
An even richer and more glorious life,
And most of all, because Thine only Son
Once sacrificed life’s loveliness for me,
I thank Thee, God, that I have lived.
   
By Elizabeth Countess of Craven 1750-1828 Teach us, good Lord,

And the Prayer
To serve thee as thou deservest;
To give and not to count the cost;
To fight and not to heed the wounds;
To toil and not for seek for rest;
To labour and not to ask for any reward
Save that of knowing that we do thy will. St Ignatius Loyola

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 FOR SUNDAY 17th MAY

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

The Collect

God our redeemer,

you have delivered us from the power of darkness

and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:

grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life,

so by his continual presence in us he may raise us

to eternal joy;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever

The Gospel

John 14:15-21

15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be[a] in you.18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live.20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. 21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”

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

Nowadays, we turn on the television and open newspapers with trepidation. Whatever is heard or read somehow brings fear and disquiet.

When seventy-five years ago VE Day was celebrated, it was with the knowledge that an enemy had finally surrendered and was defeated. Some have contrasted that conflict with the present fight against the Covid virus.  The difference is that the battle now is with an enemy not only invisible, but presently unconquerable.

Consequently, as we have experienced, any activity or liberty believed even remotely responsible for spreading virus has been curtailed. This includes public worship. The last time church doors were closed at Easter in Britain was over 800 years ago and that by papal edict. Now, scientific evidence presents yet more anxiety for churchgoers. Places of worship might again open for worship within the foreseeable future, but perhaps without freedom to sing hymns. This is because use of the voice is contrary to the recommendations of some epidemiologists. Should this be the case, then our valuable treasury of church musicians will be at risk. More importantly, hymns themselves are our means of praise however indifferent our voices. 

For what it is worth, my view is that most news nowadays consists of speculation rather than fact.  I am sure that before too long our worshipping life will resume, enhanced afresh by the beauty of church music. In that regard, the life of a musician who arguably has done more than any other to enhance and elucidate Christian faith through composition is recalled with gratitude.

In his middle years, Johann Sebastian Bach acquired a copy of Martin Luther’s three-volume translation of the Bible. He pored over it as if it were a long-lost treasure. He underlined passages and made notes in the margins.  To the world, besides being the greatest organist of that era, Bach is acknowledged as one of the most productive geniuses in the history of western music. To the Christian, his works might mean even more.

Bach was born in 1685 and schooled in Eisenach, Thuringia at the same establishment that Luther had attended over a century beforehand. Having sung in a church choir, Bach was by the age of 15 ready to establish himself in the musical world.  This he did, and, after various posts and domestic crises, he settled at Leipzig in 1723, remaining there for the rest of his life. Bach’s stay in the town as musical director and choirmaster of Saint Thomas’s church and school, was often unhappy. Neither his employer the Town Council nor the populace appreciated his genius, most regarding him simply as a teacher who could play the organ. Nevertheless, under these circumstances Bach was still able to produce his best church music. Aside from his organ compositions, he remarkably produced a new cantata every week. Nowadays, any composer who manages to write one work in a year is highly praised.  Of the 202 Bach cantatas that survive, all closely following biblical texts. Unlike his contemporary Georg Frederic Handel, Bach was his own librettist, meaning that he personally studied the scriptures in depth before setting them to music. The nineteenth century skeptic Friedrich Nietzsche wrote upon hearing Bach’s St Matthew’s Passion “One who has completely forgotten Christianity truly hears it here as gospel.”

After his death in 1759, Bach’s genius fell into danger of being forgotten. The manuscripts of some cantatas were lost to generations of St Thomas’s choristers who used them as wrapping paper for their sandwiches. Mozart and Beethoven were in their lifetime admirers of Bach’s works, but did little to preserve or promote his memory. It was not until 1829 that Felix Mendelssohn arranged a performance of St. Matthew’s Passion. So begun a process of rescue and restoration of the composer’s greatness.

One of Bach’s greatest gifts was an ability to replicate in music, phrases from scripture.  For example, a staccato melody runs through one Advent cantata evokes Christ’s words in St John’s Gospel. ‘Behold I stand at the door and knock’

Music was never just music to Bach. Nearly three-fourths of his 1,000 compositions were written for use in worship. Between his musical genius, his devotion to Christ, and the effect of his music, he is acknowledged by many to be “the Fifth Evangelist”  Please God, may we soon again be, in the words of the psalmist, ‘making a joyful noise unto the Lord’

Reflection:

‘To strip human nature until its divine attributes are made clear, to inform ordinary activities with spiritual fervour, to give wings of eternity to that which is most ephemeral; to make divine things human and human things divine; such is Bach, the greatest and purest moment in music of all time’.

The Prayers

Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us from your love
in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Amen.

God of compassion,
be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
in their anxiety, be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory,
Jesus Christ our Lord.
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:

Today’s hymn is a rarity but was specifically published for use in our Diocese in 1850 when Robert Campbell translated the Latin text of the 12th century writer Adam of St Victor. The tune ‘Evangelists’ to which it is sung was adapted from a Chorale penned by J.S. Bach.

In its words Adam of St Victor gives thanks for the four gospel writers ‘those who spread the treasures in the holy gospels shrined’ Might Robert Campbell also had in mind a fifth evangelist as he set the words to his chosen tune?

Come, pure hearts, in sweetest measures,
sing of those who spread the treasure
in the holy Gospels shrined;
blessèd tidings of salvation,
peace on earth their proclamation,
love from God to lost mankind.

Thou, by whom the words were given
for our light and guide to heaven,
Spirit, on our darkness shine;
graft them in our hearts, increasing
faith, hope, love and joy unceasing,
till our hearts are wholly thine.

O that we, thy truth confessing,
and thy holy Word possessing,
Jesus, may thy love adore;
unto thee our voices raising,
thee with all thy ransomed praising,
ever and forevermore

Diocesan Resources this week

Statement by College of Bishops 15th May – Covid-19 and the Future

Scottsih Bible Society

Linkage Bulletin & Sunday Service for 10th May 2020

David Miller RIP

It was feared that current regulations governing funerals might prevent David’s from being as he deserved. However, as the day proceeded, these anxieties became dispelled. 

Mercifully, Katie, David’s daughter was able to be present, having driven from Southern Ireland. There, travel restrictions are strictly enforced and there was every possibility that she might have been turned back.

What better place to start David’s final journey than from the garden at Blairuskin? This was the beautiful setting for the first part of the service, before the cortege moved off via Kinlochard, Aberfoyle, Gartmore, Ballat and Drymen en route to Cardross crematorium.  Many well-wishers lined this part of the route, some playing instruments and others displaying placards and banners. It was all most moving, and a gesture of respect and support appreciated by the family.

Upon either side of the prayers of committal at Cardross, two hymns were played. The first was ‘Praise my Soul’ and the other, ‘The Day of Resurrection’. Both were sung at Saffrey’s memorial service held just a year and two days ago. This was a poignant reminder that the two are now reunited in death as in life. May they rest in 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.

SERVICE

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

The Collect

Almighty God,

who through your only-begotten Son Jesus Christ

have overcome death and opened to us the gate of everlasting life:

grant that, as by your grace going before us

you put into our minds good desires,

so by your continual help

we may bring them to good effect;

through Jesus Christ our risen Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

The Gospel 

John 14:1-6

14 “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

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

Should the words of today’s gospel seem familiar, you will not be mistaken. This passage from St John is traditionally read at a funeral. Aside from the opening verses of the first chapter of John’s gospel which are always heard at the Christmas Carol Service, today’s gospel is possibly the best known of the New Testament.

The gospel dovetails with the theme of last Sunday, Christ the Good Shepherd. It doubtless reflects our own present thoughts and fears.

There was a sense of relief when the Prime Minister recently returned to his desk at Downing Street following convalescence. In times of trouble, the need of a leader is never greater. The difficulty is that human leadership, with respect, is fallible.  Christ promises his followers ‘I am the Good Shepherd’.

Today’s gospel is set on the eve of Christ’s crucifixion. As the disciples took supper, Jesus spoke first of the traitor in their midst and then his imminent departure. The disciples world would have caved in around them.  After three or so years in His company, travelling, watching, and listening to him, they learn He was to suffer and die.

In response, Christ assured them ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled’ He told them that His departure was to His Father’s house, with a view to preparing a place for them. Later he would come again to those who know the direction of his journey.

But the disciples remained perturbed. Peter asked, “Where are you going?” Thomas said, “We do not know why you are going, so how can we know the way?”

In response, Jesus described himself, gently rebuking those present for forgetting His nature. ” Do not let our hearts be troubled. Trust in God still and trust in me”

Then he assured them ‘I am going now to prepare a place for you so that where I am you may be too’.

In these words, Jesus did not promise that believers would never again experience trouble, disappointment or trials. In fact, He later said just the opposite. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation but take courage; I have overcome the world” Indeed, all but one of those present at supper would later meet death through martyrdom.

A.W. Pink, a British theologian commented on Christ’s words. “Believe in God,’ O Christian. Let not your heart be troubled, for thy Father is possessed of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness. He knows what is best for thee, and He makes all things work together for thy good. He is on the Throne, ruling amid the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, so that none can stay His refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. . . “If God be for us who can be against us?” Believe in God. Believe in His absolute sovereignty, His infinite wisdom, His unchanging faithfulness, His wondrous love. “Believe also in Me.” I am the One who died for thy sins and rose again for thy justification: I am the One who ever lives to make intercession for thee. I am the same, yesterday, and today, and forever. I am the One who shall come again to receive you to Myself, and you shall be forever with Me. Yes, “Believe also in me!”

Another theologian, Alexander Maclaren, wrote. “Jesus Christ does not merely set Himself up by the side of God, nor are we worshipers of two Gods when we bow before Jesus and bow before the Father; but faith in Christ is faith in God, and faith in God which is not faith in Christ is imperfect, incomplete, and will not long last. To trust in Him is to trust in the Father; to trust in the Father is to trust in Him.”

The concerns of the disciples that night was no different from the turmoil experienced today. Jesus tells the disciples and all believers to surrender the troubles flooding their hearts and take comfort. He takes us by the hand and says, “Come, I’ll take you with me there.” He does not tell us about the way; He is the Way.

Amen

Canticle

Christ, as a light illumine and guide me. Christ as a shield overshadow me. Christ under me; Christ over me; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful. Be in the heart of each to whom I speak; in the mouth of each who speaks unto me. This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.

Christ as a light; Christ as a shield; Christ beside me on my left and my right.

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 HymnListen on YouTube

   1    Thou art the Way: by thee alone
            from sin and death we flee;
        and they who would the Father seek
            must seek him, Lord, by thee.

   2       Thou art the Truth: thy word alone
            true wisdom can impart;
        thou only canst inform the mind
            and purify the heart.

   3       Thou art the Life: the rending tomb
            proclaims thy conquering arm;
        and those who put their trust in thee
            nor death nor hell shall harm.

   4       Thou art the Way, the Truth, the Life:
            grant us that Way to know,
        that Truth to keep, that Life to win,
            whose joys eternal flow.

St Mary's Azaleas
burst