Welcome to our Carol Service – this was the version we used online in 2020.
Our readings and carols either have the words added to the video, or you can view the words by switching on the YouTube subtitles – choose “CC”. As the items have been recorded by different people in different locations, you may need to adjust the volume as each video starts.
Today’s service for National Giving Day was led by our elders. We have brought together the components of the service here.
Following a welcome from Session Clerk, Mike Duffy, we sang together “Lord for the Years.”
Message from the Moderator
We then watched a message from Lord Wallace, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
Faithful God, accept our humble thanks for all You have blessed us with. You have given us fullness of life. You guide and inspire us. You cover us with Your grace day after day. You offer comfort in times of sorrow and a peace that passes all understanding, even in times of trial and uncertainty.
Forgive us Lord, when we take these things for granted. Remind us of the abundance You have poured out on us. Help us listen for Your voice leading us, prompting us to answer Your call, encouraging us to give back, to respond in generous humility to Your grace, goodness and mercy. Compel us to reflect something of Your love for us as we give to enable Your work in our communities, our nation and our world. Amen
Our next hymn “Give thanks with a grateful heart”.
Reading Luke 5: 17-26
One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick.
Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus.
When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts?
Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’?
But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”
Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God.
Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”
Update from our Treasurer
How deep the Father’s love for us
John Dent led our reflection, based on the following from Rev Dr Alison Jack –
This is a very well-known, and significant, healing story which is found with some differences in all three of the Synoptic Gospels. In Matthew’s version (9:1-8), the detail of the entrance through the roof is omitted, but other similarities suggest it is a version of the same story. It’s in Luke’s Gospel that the healed man ‘glorifies God’ in response to his healing, both spiritual and physical, which makes it particularly relevant to today. In all three stories, though, the crowd of onlookers is also moved to wonder and praise.
In all of the versions, the paralysed man is strangely passive up until the moment when he responds to Jesus’ command to take up his mat. It’s those who bear him to Jesus whose faith is remarkable and remarked upon. Those who have carried him through the crowds, not letting the seemingly impossible task beat them, and hauled him up onto the flat roof of the house and then broken through it: they are so committed to making contact with the one they believe will change everything for him. There may be parallels to be drawn with the perseverance of those who have given all they can through the past months, in their jobs, in their families and neighbourhoods. The dogged determination of these nameless friends is quite something.
The poet Seamus Heaney wrote three poems relating to this Gospel story. In one, entitled ‘Miracle’, he bears witness to the dedication of those friends, drawing a parallel with his own friends who had carried him to the ambulance after he had had a stroke. In this poem, their love is the ‘Miracle’ of both his story and the Gospel story.
Near the end of his life, Heaney wrote another poem, ‘The Latecomers’, from the perspective of Jesus himself in the Gospel story. The poem was written in response to an invitation from the poet and novelist John Deane to write about what Christ meant to him. Heaney described this invitation as a real ‘test of truth and art, but one worth making’. You can read about John Deane’s recollection of this episode, and the whole poem, at The Book Haven Blog.
In the poem, we have an insight into what Jesus Himself might have been thinking and feeling, and His very human sense of exhaustion at the demands being made on Him. Perhaps there are echoes here of the times in the Gospels when Jesus is described as needing to go away alone to pray. In the poem, we see Jesus weigh up His options in response to the bearers’ persistence, but it is the ‘imperatives of love’ which end the poem, the decision to give the paralysed man the time he needs, and to respond to his whole person, body and soul.
These imperatives about giving others time and the gift of human connection turn the story back to us. They interrogate our response to the presence of God in our midst in worship, in the Christian community and in the world. The story is an encouragement to those who have played the part of the bearers; a word of reassurance about the healing power of Jesus to bring His loving concern into all situations of need; and a reminder about our response in action and in thanksgiving for the Christ who does not turn away from us when we approach. For what will we praise God when we return home after this time of worship?
She poses some questions to us all … How can we continue to be thankful and respond with generosity when we are wearied by our circumstances? The friends in the story carry the man, lift him to the roof and lower him through it to bring him to Jesus: in what different ways might we bring people to Jesus? What might it look like for you and your congregation to show Christ’s loving concern in situations of need? Where do you notice generosity in everyday life and how does it affect our own generosity?
Meekness and Majesty
Living God, we need Your presence here on planet earth. In these strange days throughout the world, we call on Your Spirit to fill us with love. Help us to wash the feet of our communities, going the second mile, giving the cup of cold water. Help our churches to be loving, reaching out to all we meet. Holy Spirit, guide us in our finances, to wisely use the resources You have given us, to plant fruitful seeds for Your kingdom. Where there is division between us heal us with Your uniting presence. Help our churches to be communities where we live in peace, not the peace of differences hidden from sight, but the peace of discussion and dialogue and mutual respect. Creator God, Shape us into a people of prayer, whose first thought in the morning is praise, whose watchword is kindness, and whose last thought of the day is peace, the deep peace of God. Nationally and locally, let Your Spirit rule, so that our church may be joined in love and service. We ask all of this, in the name of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who taught us to say: 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, for ever. Amen.
Take my life and let it be
We ended by saying the words of the Grace to each other.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and evermore. Amen.