Transcript of on-line Service for Kilrenny Parish Church Sunday 21st February 2021.
Sunday 21 February 2021
Welcome to worship with the community of Kilrenny Parish Church. We may not be able to worship in the Church building at this time, but we can still come together as a worshiping community to give thanks and praise God.
You tube link - https://youtu.be/eRUWRQngYtU
Call to Worship
Let us come to worship God.
Lord Jesus, you call us to be your people in this place. Give us a sense of your power in our lives, your love in our hearts, and your joy in all we do. Join with us now as we worship you this day.
Hymn CH 334 On Jordan’s bank the Baptist’s cry
Opening Prayer & Lord’s Prayer
Let us pray:
God, creator of every landscape
who shapes on the earth gardens lush and green
who hollows out of rock the desert scrubland
who sets the seas in their mighty depths
who sends the ice to carve out mountains –
You we worship
for mystery and wonder have captured the eyes of our souls.
God, creator of life above and below
who sends rain to water the field
who placed sun and moon in their heights to lighten the world
who cast from the earth creatures that breathe the air
who in the sea birthed myriad forms of life –
You we worship
for our senses are stirred to see and touch the works of Your hand.
God, creator of love and relationship
who lights the cloud with the rainbow’s arc
who promises after the rain a day washed new
who promised the great of our faith the presence of god
who is near us now to speak in cloud and sunshine –
You we worship
for still You reach out in loving friendship.
God, creator of all that is
who promises seedtime and harvest
who wishes to shower us with good gifts
who walks with us the harsh, stony roads
who rejoices with us in times of gladness –
You we worship
for the promise fulfilled that God is love and loves us all.
As we enter these Lenten days
and look to fall into step behind Jesus,
entering with Him the wilderness
where battles are lost and won
faith tested and futures found
We confess we are not ready
we are not strong
to face and to find
all that might be revealed
We are not pure in heart and mind
our feet may stumble and be unsure –
we carry too many burdens
of guilt long gathered
wounds often cherished
a past mulled over
wrongs not righted –
and pray for You to meet us
at the edge of the desert
and lighten our load
Take the heavy packs off our backs
and simply forgive
what has been
what has not been achieved
all the good we failed to do
That we may travel lightly with You
our eyes set on the Galilean going ahead of us
clearing a path
promising that for us rain will fall in the desert
and after the storm a rainbow will light the heavens
and we will be made new
through Christ our Lord.
And now, we join our voices together in the Prayer Jesus taught us:
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 debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
Reading: Mark 1: 9 – 15
This morning’s reading is taken from Eugene Peterson’s translation in The Message.
At this time, Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. The moment he came out of the water, he saw the sky split open and God’s Spirit, looking like a dove, come down on him. Along with the Spirit, a voice: “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”
At once, this same Spirit pushed Jesus out into the wild. For forty wilderness days and nights he was tested by Satan. Wild animals were his companions, and angels took care of him.
After John was arrested, Jesus went to Galilee preaching the Message of God: “Time’s up! God’s kingdom is here. Change your life and believe the Message.”
Reflection: “A turning point”
May the words of my mouth and the meditations of each of our hearts be acceptable in your sight Lord, amen.
This is the third time we have used the reading from Mark’s Gospel of Jesus’ Baptism in the River Jordan. First, was at the beginning of Advent when we focused on Hope and the promise of the Messiah. Second was at the beginning of Epiphany when we saw God’s validation of Jesus as His own dear Son. I deliberately used The Message to give us a different perspective on such a familiar text, in part because Eugene Peterson’s translation really captures the urgency of Mark’s Gospel. In the other Gospels there is an emphasis on the trials Jesus experienced while He spent time in the desert fasting and praying, but for Mark, that is not the key issue: this is the point when Jesus bursts into action and the world begins to see Him for who He really is.
We keep returning to the Baptism because it is the true turning point in this and all the Gospels. At this point Jesus commits completely to His future as God’s messenger. No doubt He had always known His destiny, and He had been developing as a teacher and preacher for years before this point, but now was His time to step out of the shadow of John the Baptiser and take on the mantle that had awaited Him since the beginning of time.
As we begin our annual journey through Lent, it would be natural to see it as a passive time, a time of reflection, a time to stop. Traditionally, that’s what we’ve done at this time of year, stepping away from the world in order to focus on the higher things that God places in our hearts. However, listening to Mark’s version of events, we should instead see Lent as a time for preparation for action. This year, I’m going to suggest that we’ve had plenty of time to reflect through the multiple lockdowns and enforced restrictions and instead we should use Lent as a time to plan for our return to the world with energy and hope in our hearts for a more focused and outgoing Christian message.
I don’t want to ignore the trials Jesus underwent during His 40 days in the desert, but, as Mark does, I see this as a short interlude in the much larger story of Jesus ministry: a ministry that gets compressed into a few short weeks in our timelines, but for Him would have lasted two or more years of intense activity.
Jesus didn’t come out of the desert experience like a Zen Master, all zoned out and passing on crossed-legged wisdom to those who would go into the world on his behalf. Jesus came out of that period ready to work on God’s behalf and travel the highroads and back lanes teaching, preaching and healing each and every day.
We need to prepare ourselves for a similar level of activity, looking to the weeks, months and years ahead as we continue to be God’s people here in the East Neuk of Fife. Until we can return to worshipping in the fulness of Christian community, we are in a kind of limbo, but once that opportunity presents itself, we can then return to the full expression of Christian worship and remind the world that we have not gone away, nor have we lost hope in God’s love for us and the whole of His world.
We can’t return everything to the way it was before the pandemic struck, no more than Jesus could return His life to its’ former normality after His baptism. We are at a turning point, just as much as Jesus was. Do we accept God’s commission to move forward into a future He is in charge of or do we try to return to the familiar patterns of the life we once led but can never truly return to?
I hope and pray that we have the courage to move into a future where we don’t know what’s round the corner, but where Jesus is our guide and inspiration and where we are called to action in Christ’s name.
Amen, and may God add His blessing to these words.
Prayers of Intercession
Where angels fear to tread
comes Christ to walk
Feet firmly planted in the earth
that whatever lies beneath
there may be found a way through
and a route onwards to life,
shaped not just by earth
but by the heavens above
We pray You walk by the rivers
those that overflow and those that run dry
Where the course of life
has taken strange turns
and the landscape shifted out of recognition
Where ancient routes are turned to silt
and there is little left to refresh us
We pray You walk in the wilderness
where makeshift homes are uprooted
by powers that act without justice
That those who scratch a living
might discover wells of water
Wherever the stones hurt our feet
wash the dirt clean from under us
We pray You walk in the city
amidst all the wealth
that hides the poverty
Reshaping the history that built us up
yet breaks us down
Anonymous, untouched, many wander
longing to connect in human touch
We pray You walk
tireless and strong
to all that awaits You
For unless You go
we cannot follow
and as You walk, remember us
that we be bound in love
to You and all humankind
These things we ask in Jesus name, Amen.
Hymn CH 130 Ye servants of God, your Master proclaim
Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.
Deep peace of the shining stars to you.
Deep peace of the infinite peace to you
These things we ask in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.