Sunday February 28th 2021
A service of Lenten readings and music
A warm welcome to worship on the second Sunday of Lent. Our service this morning will be slightly different from usual. A few years ago, when I was doing study leave on Christmas carols, I came across a service of Lessons and music for Lent which was first used in 1952 in the chapel of Mansfield College in Oxford and which has become an annual tradition there. It is a similar idea to the service of 9 Lessons and Carols we have become used to at Christmas time.
The congregations of Gatehouse, Borgue and Tarff and Twynholm have become familiar with this service as we have used it a few times over the years. There are seven lessons in total, designed to form a meditation on the Life and Work of Christ. Every New Testament lesson, except one, is ushered in by an Old Testament prophecy. I am using all the original readings from 1952. I’m using just 2 of the original hymns – the only 2 still in our hymn book. O love, how deep, how broad, how high was the original opening hymn and The Head that once was crowned with thorns was the original closing hymn.
Let us worship God
Hymn 354 O Love, how deep, how broad, how high
Prayer of Approach and Confession
God of grace,
You come alongside and make us promises,
the kind of promises that touch our hearts and very being,
that offer hope and renewal in our lives.
Glad we are,
because You have given us strength and hope.
Surprised we are,
because this was Your idea and not ours.
Relieved we are,
because we see grace sufficient for all that the days bring.
You promise to be with Your disciples until the fulfilment of all things.
Thank You that there is nowhere we could be where You are not.
Thank You that wherever two or three gather in Your name,
there You are among them;
we celebrate fellowship shared in Your company, wherever we may be.
Jesus, You invite all that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens,
promising that with You we would find rest.
Jesus, You promised to all who are thirsty
water that would become in them a spring gushing up to eternal life.
In Your presence our souls are refreshed and we are given renewed purpose.
Reminded of Your promises, may we live this day in the joy You bring,
may we worship You with all that is within us
and may we serve You as You deserve.
Help us Holy Spirit, so to do and be, that many may know the God who,
in Jesus, came among us full of grace and truth.
And who taught us to pray, saying …..Our Father…
Hymn 540 I heard the voice of Jesus say
The first lesson: The beginning of the gospel
49 Listen to me, you islands;
hear this, you distant nations:
Before I was born the Lord called me;
from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name.
He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
in the shadow of his hand he hid me;
he made me into a polished arrow
and concealed me in his quiver.
He said to me, “You are my servant,
Israel, in whom I will display my splendour.”
But I said, “I have laboured in vain;
I have spent my strength for nothing at all.
Yet what is due me is in the Lord’s hand,
and my reward is with my God.”
The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
“I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way”—
“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,
‘Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.’”
4 And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6 John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”
9 At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”
Hymn 334 On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s cry
The Second lesson: The Temptation
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story—
those he redeemed from the hand of the foe,
those he gathered from the lands,
from east and west, from north and south.
Some wandered in desert wastelands,
finding no way to a city where they could settle.
They were hungry and thirsty,
and their lives ebbed away.
Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress.
He led them by a straight way
to a city where they could settle.
Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love
and his wonderful deeds for mankind,
for he satisfies the thirsty
and fills the hungry with good things.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. 3 The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”
4 Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
5 Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. 6 “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:
“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
and they will lift you up in their hands,
so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”
7 Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
8 Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour. 9 “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”
10 Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.
Hymn 338 Jesus tempted in the desert
The third lesson: The fast that I have chosen
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarrelling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
1 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, 2 and he began to teach them.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Anthem: Ave verum corpus (Mozart)
The fourth lesson: The Messiah
Here is my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen one in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will bring justice to the nations.
2 He will not shout or cry out,
or raise his voice in the streets.
3 A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.
In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
4 he will not falter or be discouraged
till he establishes justice on earth.
In his teaching the islands will put their hope.”
27 Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
28 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
29 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
30 Jesus warned them not to tell anyone about him.
31 He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. 32 He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.
33 But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”
34 Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
Hymn 402 Take up your cross, the Saviour said
The Fifth Lesson: The Way
Isaiah 50: 4-7a
4 The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue,
to know the word that sustains the weary.
He wakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
5 The Sovereign Lord has opened my ears;
I have not been rebellious,
I have not turned away.
6 I offered my back to those who beat me,
my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard;
I did not hide my face
from mocking and spitting.
7 Because the Sovereign Lord helps me,
I will not be disgraced.
28 Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
29 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
32 They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him. 33 “We are going up to Jerusalem,” he said, “and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the Gentiles, 34 who will mock him and spit on him, flog him and kill him. Three days later he will rise.”
Hymn 378 Praise to the Holiest in the height
The sixth lesson: The Judgement
23 Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. 24 Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. 25 Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honour the one who serves me.
27 “Now my soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? No, it was for this very reason I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name!”
Then a voice came from heaven, “I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that was there and heard it said it had thundered; others said an angel had spoken to him.
30 Jesus said, “This voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out. 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33 He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die.
Hymn: Lift high the cross (CH3 550)
The seventh lesson: The Victory
See, my servant will act wisely;
he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him—
his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
and his form marred beyond human likeness—
15 so he will sprinkle many nations,
and kings will shut their mouths because of him.
For what they were not told, they will see,
and what they have not heard, they will understand.
53 Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
5 “Though I have been speaking figuratively, a time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father. 26 In that day you will ask in my name. I am not saying that I will ask the Father on your behalf. 27 No, the Father himself loves you because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. 28 I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
29 Then Jesus’ disciples said, “Now you are speaking clearly and without figures of speech. 30 Now we can see that you know all things and that you do not even need to have anyone ask you questions. This makes us believe that you came from God.”
31 “Do you now believe?” Jesus replied. 32 “A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.
33 “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Hymn 438 The Head that once was crowned with thorns
Prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession (by Gwen)
Almighty God, our Heavenly Father,
We give thanks for all your goodness to us and for seeing us safely through another week. We see the days stretching out and start to feel the change in the air as we approach Spring. The snowdrops are in full bloom with the white flowers reflecting the bright light of the day. The daffodils have pushed up their leaves and soon the flower heads will begin to appear and more buds are swelling on the trees. There is warmth in the sun when the wind drops and the birds are joyfully singing their hearts out to you. All these things help to raise our spirits after what seems so long being Winter with the cold and wet and lockdown. We thank you for all these signs that make us leave despair to yesterday and that bring us hope for today and in you we put our trust for tomorrow, knowing that we have your promise to stay by our side always, no matter what we face.
We thank you today for this time in Lent; time to take time to focus on your covenant purpose for your people, for its fulfilment in Christ; time to reflect on our relationship with you; time to spend learning about what your purpose is for each of us; time to study your word and to listen to you and we thank you that we can come to you freely and whenever we need a friend.
It is often a very busy, noisy place we live in and we sometimes forget to escape the loudness and bustle of daily duties to listen for your answer when we pray to you, to hear you directing us, challenging us, instructing or comforting us. Teach us to hear your voice above the din of life.
Hear now our prayers for others.
We pray for the world in its need, for those who seek refuge from war and for those who guide the response to such need. We pray for politicians; may they lead well, and do their work with honesty and diligence, for Jesus sake. We pray for the hungry, the homeless, for the abused and the lost.
We pray for the sick, and the troubled, and those who care for them. May they live with hope, may they find care and healing, may they know they are remembered and loved even though they may feel forgotten in these days of lockdown and uncertainty of the way in the days ahead.
We pray for our congregations and for all within our parishes. We pray for the brothers and sisters of our faith, other faiths and of no faith, for you made us all as your children. We pray too for our families and friends and for the stranger among us or for those we don’t get along with so well; may they know they are surrounded by your love.
We hold before you those we personally know who are struggling today; those who are on our minds who need extra help for whatever reason and we hold them up to you in the silence of our minds now.
- - - - - - - - -
Shine the light of hope into all our hearts and warm us with your redeeming love. Hear our prayers in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Hymn 396 And can it be
Grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ
And the blessing of God Almighty,
the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,
be with you all, this day and forevermore,
Closing voluntary: All we like sheep have gone astray from Handel’s Messiah
The most recent announcement from the Scottish government about the resumption of services of worship in church buildings indicated that these would not be possible before April 5th. As Easter Sunday is April 4th, sadly it does not look as if we will be able to worship in our buildings on Easter Sunday. There will be more information about services resuming in future Reflections.
World Day of Prayer Service
As it will not be possible to have World Day of Prayer services in person this year, there will be a Scottish wide live Zoom service on Friday March 5th at 2pm which can be accessed through the Zoom ID 895 9398 3883 with the passcode 901656.
Tarff and Twynholm Guild members and friends have been sent the Order of Service written by the Christian women of Vanuatu, an island in the South Pacific. This year’s theme is “Build on a strong foundation”. On page 5 of the service booklet you will find a description of the island mentioning a pristine environment with sandy beaches and coral reefs with colourful fish. You are invited to transport yourself to join Christian folk on that far away island, and people from all over the world, on this special day of prayer.
From the Foodbank
The next collection date for the Stewartry Food Bank will be Tuesday 9th March, 9 - 9.30am at Kirkcudbright Parish Church.
We continue to be busy in the food bank and most stocks are plentiful. We have more than enough pasta, pasta sauces, tea, biscuits, beans & cereal.
Whilst we are grateful for everything that we receive, we are particularly short of:
tinned veg, tinned fruit, long life milk (whole & semi skimmed).
To maintain social distancing, we have had to reduce the number of people who date, sort and store your donations. It would be a great help to them if you could mark the 'best before' date on all items. (Thanks to those of you who already do this.)
If you could use a marker pen to note the month and year in a prominent place (tops of tins, sides of packets) this would save them a lot of time. Thank you.