The Linkage Pentecost 2 6th June 2021

The Linkage 

                        The Scottish Episcopal Church

St Mary’s Aberfoyle,

St Andrew’s Callander

The Reverend Canon Dr Alison Peden – Interim Pastor

01877 330448

Pentecost 2   6th June 2021

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

Based on Psalm 138:
We come to give thanks to you, O Lord, 
with all our heart.
We will sing your praises before all creation, 
and rejoice in Your steadfast love.
You have created us O Lord, and made us for yourself, 
In you we become everything You have made us to be.

Collect:  O God, you have assured the human family of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Deliver us from the death of sin and raise us to new life in him, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Reading:  Genesis. 3:8-15
They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate.’ The Lord God said to the serpent,  ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.’

Prayer of confession based on Genesis 3
Our God, you created the world and called it good.

You created man and woman in your image and called them very good. But we have been deceived by half-truths and false promises.

We have tasted temptation and it is bitter in our mouths.

We thought our desire for forbidden fruit would bring us wisdom,

but it brought us only the curse of pain and death.

Redeem us in your love. Take away our sin.

Restore our relationship with you, our God.

1 Corinthians 15 tells us:  For since death came through a man, 

the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.  For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. Thanks be to God

who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!   Amen!

Gospel   Mark 3:20-35
The crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, ‘He has gone out of his mind.’ And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.’ 
And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, ‘How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
‘Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin’— for they had said, ‘He has an unclean spirit.’
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’

Reflection:  
John Bunyan in Pilgrim’s Progress describes a man slumped in an Iron cage, sighing in despair.  It turns out that the man had given into temptations and thought that he had forfeited God’s promises and mercy; all that remained for him was judgement and punishment. ‘Nor can all the men in the world let me out.  O Eternity!  How shall I grapple with the misery that I must meet in Eternity?’ he says.

Whilst it is a lot less common now to find those who worry about the fate of their eternal soul, people do find themselves locked into mental prisons, caused by ‘inner demons’ such as anger, guilt or a sense of futility.  

Jesus came to challenge the destructive power of demons and restore people to physical and spiritual health. The demons had shouted ‘You are the Son of God!’ just before today’s episode, and so it was unsurprising that the authorities challenged his authority, claiming that he used demonic power to cast out demons.

Jesus responded by saying that calling ‘demonic’ what is good (healing, forgiveness, new life) amounts to blasphemy against the Spirit, which cannot be forgiven.  It’s a very hard saying and has troubled many a tender conscience.

If we lock ourselves up in an iron cage and refuse to see things clearly, then it is indeed hard for God to reach us in love and forgiveness. If we take a position that is hard a steel – about ourselves, or other people, or the world – then it’s going to be difficult to perceive the work of the Spirit blowing through and around us.

As we enter this post-Pentecost season of growing in faith, of building God’s kingdom here on earth in the power of the Spirit, let us commit ourselves to being open and free and confident in the power of Christ to transform evil into the splendour of light. And let us try with God gently to prise open the cages that lock people in.  

Prayers of intercession:
Holy God, guide your people and to inspire us with the desire to put aside our differences as we seek to serve you. Help us to reach out to all who feel despair, especially those who feel unworthy or too sinful to enjoy life. Give us through your grace opportunities to befriend them and assure them of your love.
Lord in your Mercy: Hear our prayer

C
reator God, may those who lead us and the other nations of the world will always try to solve issues in a just and caring way, and deal with the world’s problems with forethought and common-sense. We hold before you the governments in Westminster and Holyrood.
Lord in your Mercy: Hear our prayer

Loving God, help us to be gentle with our families and friends. Give us, we pray, the calm that makes for consideration and the respect for others that makes us courteous. Take from us hard words and the cynical look. Let us be to others as we would wish them to be to us.
Lord in your Mercy: Hear our prayer

Gracious God, we pray for all who cry out to you today, those who long for the morning, those who are waiting for the long night to end. We pray that our ears will be attentive to their cry, that we will stand with them, steadfast together in your love, bringing life before death. 
Lord in your Mercy: Hear our prayer

Merciful God, your love reaches beyond the grave and so we bring before you those whose earthly life is now at an end. Receive their souls into your kingdom, we pray, that redeemed by grace they may rest in peace and rise in glory.
Lord in your Mercy: Hear our prayer

Bless Bishop Ian and the congregations of this diocese, that we may proclaim by our lives as well as our words the joy of your kingdom and the hope of its fulfilment. And
 wherever nature’s beauty or the daily wonders around help us to see your hand at work we thank you for the grace to live and enjoy it to the full.
Merciful Father: Accept these prayers for the sake of your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen

 Closing Prayer:  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ rest upon us and and inspire us;  the love of God, creator and giver of life, embrace us and challenge us; and the presence of the Holy Spirit encourage and surprise us, this day and all our days.   Amen

This hymn of God’s providence is sung at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBkorDtz1nU

Through all the changing scenes of life, in trouble and in joy,
the praises of my God shall still my heart and tongue employ.

O magnify the Lord with me, with me exalt his Name;
when in distress to him I called, he to my rescue came.
The hosts of God encamp around the dwellings of the just;
deliverance he affords to all who on his succour trust.

Fear him, ye saints, and you will then have nothing else to fear;
make you his service your delight; your wants shall be his care.