Sunday 14th March 2021.
Good morning everyone and welcome to Reflections for a Sunday morning. I hope you are all keeping safe and well.
Let us pray.
Prayer of Approach and Confession.
Almighty Lord God,
We come before you this morning with mixed feelings. This Sunday we rejoice for our Mothers but at the same time we are saddened at not being able to celebrate because of the restrictions still in place due to the pandemic.
You journey with your people through every time and season
You remain faithful, dependable and true.
When we look at you, ofter we are enabled to see the way ahead.
You make the darkness light and turn sorrow into joy.
God of all the universe, you draw along side us, weeping with us,
Gently cradling our pain, reaching out to heal and to hold.
Forgive us Lord, when we forget your love, for ourselves and for others.
Forgive us, when we hoard or discard resources out of the rich bounty
You have given.
Forgive us when we fail to see our connectiveness to you
And to our neighbour.
Bring us back to you time after time
Stop us in our tracks and confound us with love until,
Worn down, we fix our eyes on you, God of our salvation.
And together we pray in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ,
Saying - - -
Hymn No. 556 I need the every hour
Reading -- 2 Kings 4:8- 37 Elisha and the Shunammite Woman
2Ki 4:8 One day Elisha went to Shunem, where a rich woman lived. She
invited him to a meal, and from then on every time he went to Shunem he would have his meals at her house.
2Ki 4:9 She said to her husband, "I am sure that this man who comes here so often is a holy man.
2Ki 4:10 Let's build a small room on the roof, put a bed, a table, a chair, and a lamp in it, and he can stay there whenever he visits us."
2Ki 4:11 One day Elisha returned to Shunem and went up to his room to rest.
2Ki 4:12 He told his servant Gehazi to go and call the woman. When she came,
2Ki 4:13 he said to Gehazi, "Ask her what I can do for her in return for all the trouble she has had in providing for our needs. Maybe she would like me to go to the king or the army commander and put in a good word for her." "I have all I need here among my own people," she answered.
2Ki 4:14 Elisha asked Gehazi, "What can I do for her then?" He answered, "Well, she has no son, and her husband is an old man."
2Ki 4:15 "Tell her to come here," Elisha ordered. She came and stood in the doorway,
2Ki 4:16 and Elisha said to her, "By this time next year you will be holding a son in your arms." "Oh!" she exclaimed. "Please, sir, don't lie to me. You are a man of God!"
2Ki 4:17 But, as Elisha had said, at about that time the following year she gave birth to a son.
Elisha Raises the Shunammite's Son
2Ki 4:18 Some years later, at harvest time, the boy went out one morning to join his father, who was in the field with the harvest workers.
2Ki 4:19 Suddenly he cried out to his father, "My head hurts! My head hurts!" "Carry the boy to his mother," the father said to a servant.
2Ki 4:20 The servant carried the boy back to his mother, who held him in her lap until noon, at which time he died.
2Ki 4:21 She carried him up to Elisha's room, put him on the bed and left, closing the door behind her.
2Ki 4:22 Then she called her husband and said to him, "Send a servant here with a donkey. I need to go to the prophet Elisha. I'll be back as soon as I can."
2Ki 4:23 "Why do you have to go today?" her husband asked. "It's neither
a Sabbath nor a New Moon Festival." "Never mind," she answered.
2Ki 4:24 Then she had the donkey saddled, and ordered the servant, "Make the donkey go as fast as it can, and don't slow down unless I tell you to."
2Ki 4:25 So she set out and went to Mount Carmel, where Elisha was. Elisha saw her coming while she was still some distance away, and he said to his servant Gehazi, "Look, there comes the woman from Shunem!
2Ki 4:26 Hurry to her and find out if everything is all right with her, her husband, and her son." She told Gehazi that everything was all right,
2Ki 4:27 but when she came to Elisha, she bowed down before him and took hold of his feet. Gehazi was about to push her away, but Elisha said, "Leave her alone. Can't you see she's deeply distressed? And the LORD has not told me a thing about it."
2Ki 4:28 The woman said to him, "Sir, did I ask you for a son? Didn't I tell you not to get my hopes up?"
2Ki 4:29 Elisha turned to Gehazi and said, "Hurry! Take my walking stick and go. Don't stop to greet anyone you meet, and if anyone greets you, don't take time to answer. Go straight to the house and hold my stick over the boy."
2Ki 4:30 The woman said to Elisha, "I swear by my loyalty to the living LORD and to you that I will not leave you!" So the two of them started back together.
2Ki 4:31 Gehazi went on ahead and held Elisha's stick over the child, but there was no sound or any other sign of life. So he went back to meet Elisha and said, "The boy didn't wake up."
2Ki 4:32 When Elisha arrived, he went alone into the room and saw the boy lying dead on the bed.
2Ki 4:33 He closed the door and prayed to the LORD.
2Ki 4:34 Then he lay down on the boy, placing his mouth, eyes, and hands on the boy's mouth, eyes, and hands. As he lay stretched out over the boy, the boy's body started to get warm.
2Ki 4:35 Elisha got up, walked around the room, and then went back and again stretched himself over the boy. The boy sneezed seven times and then opened his eyes.
2Ki 4:36 Elisha called Gehazi and told him to call the boy's mother. When she came in, he said to her, "Here's your son."
2Ki 4:37 She fell at Elisha's feet, with her face touching the ground; then
she took her son and left.
Hymn No. 286 Tell out my soul, the greatness of the Lord!
In the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Today is Mothering Sunday, when traditionally girls in service were allowed the day off to go and visit their Mothers. It may seem strange to us under normal circumstances to not be able to go and visit our families whenever we like but in the days of servants, service was a 364 day a year job. It was a full-time job. If you had good Masters and Mistresses you might be given a couple of hours off a week and even that may have been to attend church with the employment family and the other servants. And all this for a very minimum wage - not in Pounds sterling then - pennies. You, of course had board and lodging but often you had to pay for your own uniform.
You could write letters to your family to keep in touch, that’s if you could read and write, but there again could you afford pen and ink, paper and postage? You could write in your time off but that was usually the time you slept and often there was no light to write by as candles were limited.
Ah the romance of it all - the good old days!!
You were allowed the one day off - Mothering Sunday, when traditionally girls would go and visit their Mums, taking a cake that they had made themselves and a bunch of flowers they would have picked from the roadsides as they walked home.
Nowadays of course, we have the Pandemic and we are in lockdown which means we can’t go and visit our Mums. Not only that but the Pandemic has caused the illness or death of so many that instead of celebrating with our loved ones we are sad and grieving them. If any are in hospital or in care homes we are unable to visit our loved ones even though we want to be with them, hold their hand or give them a hug. As Val mentioned last week if our loved one dies there are restrictions on the funerals and we can’t say a proper goodbye - it is unfinished. Similarly if
our Mums have died longer ago, we may want to visit the grave and lay some flowers but this may be regarded as an unnecessary journey and flower shops are not regarded as being vital to open and supermarket flowers aren’t always the best.
From a Mother and Grandmothers point of view it is always a delight to see our families. I did not see my Grandchildren for five or six years so can understand the pain of not being in contact. Now however they are a great joy to me at 15 years old and 13 years old. They are both very sociable and happy to talk to me (after I interrupt their phone chats with friends!) whereas I remember at that age being very shy and not knowledgeable in how to talk to older people. Often I’d end up with a clip round the earhole from my Mum and a telling off for being cheeky!
Nowadays, if we care to use them or learn how to, we have ways of communicating with our family and friends. The technology is there to face each other and talk directly. In the times of being “in service” there was “snail mail” or messages passed on verbally, and passed on verbally is how our story in the Bible went.
The lady in our story recognised Elisha as a Man of God and she decided that since he visited her and her husband so often she would have a room made just for him so he could relax when he came to visit.
One day he called his servant and asked him to call her and asked if there was any way he could repay her kindness and her hospitality. Elisha’s servant had already told Elisha that she had no children so when the woman said she was quite content with her own people Elisha told her she would have a child by a years time. Now if you remember Middle Eastern culture, it was seen as a sin; a flaw, if the woman was barren. It brought shame on her, yet she implied that she did not feel that in her own clan - she was content but when Elisha said she would have a child she told him not to get her hopes up if they were only going to be dashed. Elisha’s prophesy came true however and she had a son.
The family was happy until one day when the child was old enough, the father took him to the harvest field. Suddenly the child developed a boys Mum. The mother nursed him till he died at noon then she carried him to the Holy Mans’ room and laid him on Elishas’ bed and shut the door. She called her husband who must have been home for his midday meal and asked for a servant and a she-ass as she needed to get to the
Holy Man quickly and directed the servant to make haste.
Elisha saw her coming from a distance away and he sensed something wasn’t right. He sent his servant to check that all was well but she wouldn’t tell the servant. Only when the woman reached Elisha himself and flung herself down in front of him and clutched onto his feet did the tale come out about her son.
After having a son, which was also a blessing for the family, the woman’s faith strengthened, but now she told Elisha that she didn’t believe that God had blessed her with a son only to have him taken away so cruelly from her, therefore she believed Elisha could do something to help. Elisha sent his servant with Elisha’s walking stick to heal the child, but that didn’t work - it wasn’t good enough. It was Elisha she believed in and she said she had not asked for a son only to have him snatched away from her again and she would not go home unless Elisha came with her - she refused to leave him behind, such was her faith and determination. Elisha did come with her and did heal her child by breathing into him, by praying and lying on him to bring back warmth into his cold body.
This Shunammite woman is so faith filled that she has made up her mind that she will fight to hell and back before she will let Satan take her child. This Mothers faith and trust was so strong, she refused to believe her child had died. She refused to let Elisha go till he had rectified the situation. Being a Mum carries great responsibility but is also very rewarding and a great joy. Many of the responsibilities that Christians have are very stressful. Medical research shows that stress is a major factor in multiple illnesses. However I challenge anyone to name one single vocation, position, or responsibility that is more stressful than motherhood. It would be absolutely devastating to put all your hopes and love and effort into raising a child only to have him or her taken away from you. It was not through anything that the woman had done or done wrong that caused the child’s death, it was to show the power of God and show what God can do if we simply believe in him; if we have faith and call on him and refuse to let go. There are other stories in the New Testament of Jesus healing sick children - the Gentile child, the Centurion’s child, the Mothers only son, and there are stories of children being granted to other barren parents - Mary’s cousin Elizabeth, Hannah, Abraham and Sarah in the Old Testament; nothing is too difficult for God. Sometimes he takes a while to answer prayer - these parents were older
when they had a child but he still answered their prayers. Had God not granted their prayer for a child there would have been a reason. Ruth didn’t have any children when her first husband died, yet she still honoured her Mother-in-law who encouraged her to become close to Boaz and marrying him did produce a son from whom Jesus was descended. God has a purpose for each of our lives and he is with us always - he stays by our side even when we grieve he brings us comfort and we learn compassion and kindness for other people This may be a sad day for those who no longer have Mums alive but we can turn it around and celebrate and rejoice in the love they gave us and the good memories while they were still with us and thank God for all that Mums have done or still do and know that we will show them our love and gratitude as soon as we are able.
Hymn No 182 Now thank we all our God
Prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession.
Humbly in your sight we come together, Lord;
Grant us now the blessing of your presence here.
These, our hearts are yours, we give them to you, Lord;
Purify our love to make it like your own.
These ,our eyes, are yours, we give them to you, Lord;
May we always see your world as with your sight.
These, our hands, are yours, we give them to you, Lord;
Give them strength and skill to do all work for you.
These, our feet, are yours, we give them to you, Lord;
May we always walk the paths of life with you.
These, our tongues, are yours, we give them to you, Lord;
May we speak your healing words of life and truth.
These, our ears, are yours, we give them to you. Lord;
Open them to hear the Gospel as from you.
Our whole selves are yours, we give them to you, Lord;
Take us now and keep us yours for evermore.
Hymn No. 497 Almighty Father of all things that be,
Dismissal and Blessing.
In our Lenten journey
May our hope be longer than the journey.
Our faith, deeper than all darkness,
Our love, bolder than every lie,
And God’s story of Salvation,
More than a cross,
And the blessing of God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
Be with you all, this Mothering Sunday and every day.
Vivaldi - Four Seasons - Spring - (Part 1)
Our Minister Val is away on holiday till 16th March. If anyone needs anything while Val is away please phone me - 01557 870328 - my phone rings three / four times then goes to the answer machine. If you don’t like the answer machine try calling a couple of times. Alternatively my mobile number is 07763 197084.
Geoff Monk is providing pastoral cover for Corsock, and Kirkpatrick Durham, Crossmichael, Parton and Balmaghie, Geoff’s phone number is 01644 450679
The minister will be on leave from March 8-16th. Gwen Corson will send Reflections out for next Sunday and will also be providing pastoral cover for Gatehouse, Borgue and Twynholm. Tel: 01557 870328. Geoff Monk will be providing pastoral cover for Corsock and Kirkpatrick Durham, Crossmichael, Parton and Balmaghie, tel: 01644