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