URC Daily Devotions Sunday Worship for 18th April 2021 – led by Scottish United Reformed + Congregational College Students

Daily Devotions from the URC

Worship for Sunday 18 April 2021
 
Led by students of the
Scottish United Reformed & Congregational College

 
Call to Worship
 
One:         Alleluia! Christ is Risen!
 
Many:      He is Risen indeed! Alleluia!
 
One:         Rejoice, heavenly powers!   Sing, choirs of angels!
Exult, all creation around God’s throne!
Jesus, our King, is risen!
Sound the trumpet of salvation!
 
Many:      Rejoice, heavenly powers! Sing, choirs of angels!
 
One:         Rejoice, O Earth, in shining splendour, radiant in the brightness
of our King! Jesus has conquered! Glory fills you! Darkness vanishes for ever!
 
Many:      Rejoice, heavenly powers!  Sing, choirs of angels!
 
One:         Rejoice, O holy Church! Exult in glory! The risen Saviour shines
upon you! Let this place resound with joy,  as we sing, echoing the mighty song  of all God’s people!
 
Hymn       Now the Green Blade Rises
John Macleod Campbell Crum (1872-1958)
 

Now the green blade riseth,
from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth
many days has lain;
Love lives again,
that with the dead has been:
Love has come again like
wheat that springeth green.
 
2 In the grave they laid Him,
Love who hate had slain,
Thinking that He never
would awake again,
Laid in the earth
like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love has come again like
wheat that springeth green.
 
3 Forth He came in quiet,
like the risen grain,
He that for three days
in the grave had lain;
Quick from the dead
the risen Christ is seen:
Love has come again like
wheat that springeth green.
 
4 When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Christ’s touch can call us
back to life again,
Fields of our hearts
that dead and bare have been:
Love has come again like wheat that springeth green.

 

Introduction
 
Morning and welcome to the Daily Devotions Sunday service. Today’s service is being brought to you by the ministry candidates from the Scottish United Reformed and Congregational College.  We hope that those of you who are listening to the recording and those who are reading along with the print version, will join and share in the peace and love of our Lord, through the prayers, readings, reflection and hymns in today’s service.
 
Hello, my name is Roberta Ritson, I’m a second year Scottish College student based south of the border in the Tyne Valley in Northumberland.  I study with the Scottish Episcopal Institute and have made good friends there too. My home church is Horsley and currently I’m on placement at Glanton, Longframlington and Rothbury.
 
Hello, my name is Kevin Dudman. I live in Poole Dorset and I am studying at the Scottish College and Glasgow University. I am on placement at Broadstone URC Poole.
 
Good morning, my name is Louise Sanders and I am a second year student studying with the Scottish College and the Scottish Episcopal Institute, I live in Morpeth in Northumberland and worship at St George’s URC where my husband is the minister. I am currently on placement with the chaplaincy team at the RVI and Freeman hospitals in Newcastle.
 
Hi, I’m Lesley Thomson, I’m currently in my second year of training with the Scottish College and Glasgow University, my home church is Airdrie Park URC, in Airdrie, Scotland, and I’m currently on placement with the Southside Cluster in Glasgow.
 
Prayers of Approach, Confession and declaration of forgiveness
 
Loving God,
We come before you from many different places this Eastertide,
We come to you exactly as we are:
Some of us feeling cut off from one another,
from the warmth of being together, from the familiar rhythms,
the comings and goings and greetings of life as we knew it.
Some of us welcomed solitude and forgot to pray
for others with compassion.
Yet others rush headlong into the future,
forgetting what months of challenge have taught us,
forgetting the beauty and opportunities of today.
Our natures are fickle.
Instead of being Easter people we are sometimes despondent,
distracted, doubting your grace.
We read the story of Jesus appearing to the disciples saying
“Peace be with you,”
And in our heads we know that death and hate
can never again have the last word,
Yet all too often we remain stuck
in the old patterns of scepticism, of anxiety,
Forgive us. 
 
May we know in our hearts the truth behind familiar words:
He is risen indeed.
May we live them and shine bright with your love.
May our lives be turned around,
Awake to possibility, alive to every opportunity.
May we be content starting with small things,
noticing where you already are at work.
A smile, a word of encouragement, tokens of care,
sharing our own stories, your story –
Small beginnings set miracles in motion.
Please show us the way and give us resolve in following your leadings.
As we go forward in worship we ask that your Spirit would meet us,
Exactly where we are, renewing us in body, mind and soul, making us more like Jesus,
Working in the world to your glory, Amen.
 
Hymn       We cannot measure how You heal 
John Bell
 

We cannot measure how you heal
Or answer every sufferer’s prayer
Yet we believe your grace restores
Where faith and doubt unite to care
Your hands, though bloodied
on the cross
Survive  to hold and heal and war
To carry all through death to life
And cradle children yet unborn
 
2: The pain that will not go away
The guilt that clings
from things long past
The fear of what the future holds
Are present as if meant to last
But present too is love which tends
The hurt we never hoped to find
The private agonies indeed
The memories that haunt the mind

 

3: So some have come who need your help
And some have come to make amends
Your hands which shaped and saved the world
Are present in the touch of friends
Lord, let your Spirit meet us here
To mend the body, mind and soul
To disentangle peace from pain
And make your broken people whole.
 
Prayer of Illumination
God of truth, as we prepare to listen to your word read to us today, grant us wisdom and understanding, so that the words we hear will settle in our hearts and illuminate our minds to reveal more of your glorious work in our lives. Amen
 
St Luke 24:36b-48 (NIV)
 
While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost.  He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds?  Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet.  And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?”  They gave him a piece of broiled fish,  and he took it and ate it in their presence. He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.” Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures.  He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day,  and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.  You are witnesses of these things.  I am going to send you what my Father has promised; but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”
 
Hymn:      Be Still for the Presence of the Lord
Music and words David J Evans.
 

Be still, for the presence of the Lord
The Holy One is here
come bow before Him now
with reverence and fear
In Him no sin is found
We stand on Holy ground
Be still, for the presence of the Lord
The Holy One is here
 
2: Be still, for the glory of the Lord
is shining all around
he burns with Holy fire
with splendour He is crowned
How awesome is the sight
Our radiant King of light
be still, for the glory of the Lord
is shining all around

 

3: Be still, for the power of the Lord
is moving in this place
He comes to cleanse and heal
to minister his grace
No work too hard for Him;
in faith receive from Him
be still, for the power of the Lord
is moving in this place.
 
Sermon
Today’s Gospel describes that first Easter evening. What a momentous day it had been. The disciples were meeting together and supporting each other as they tried to make sense of the events of the day.    
What a day it had been. It had started full of grief.  In the early hours the women had got up to attend to Jesus’ body, taking with them spices, following the customs of the day.

And then something unimaginable happened.  The women returned with stories of angels and an empty tomb.   On hearing this Peter, himself went to investigate and found it to be just as the women had said.  
Then later Cleopas and his friend had returned from Emmaus, where they had travelled earlier that day after they had encountered a stranger on the road who had opened their eyes to scripture. At the end of the journey, they had offered the stranger hospitality, and then at table, in the breaking of the bread, they recognised the stranger to be Jesus. And then immediately he disappeared.
No wonder the disciples were talking. Just imagine the chatter, just think about the confusion that they must have experienced as they tried to make sense of it all.  

And then suddenly, Jesus appears among them. We are told they were frightened and startled. Of course, they are, they had seen Jesus die on a cross, and then here he was. How could this happen?  What did this mean?  And straight away Jesus said, “peace be with you”.
Those  words must have been a real relief for the disciples to hear.  His appearance had immediately turned upside down their understanding of the world.  It had pushed all the bounds of reason and rationality, and their lives would never be the same again.  

If this was not reason enough to be fearful, no doubt many of them had been feeling guilt and remorse.  They had fallen asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane; they could not keep awake as Jesus had asked.   Then his arrest, and one by one, they gradually left him.  Perhaps this is no surprise.  They had seen first-hand the brutality of Roman justice. They had witnessed   the malice of the crowd crying “crucify”. Just think what would have happened to them if they had tried to intervene.  I am sure if I had been there, I would have fallen away just like them.    
And yet Jesus had no hesitation in reassuring them.  Straight away he said, “Peace be with you”.   They had fallen short, but this didn’t matter. Jesus had no questions, no anger, no irritation, no, just those simple words of “Peace be with you”.

These events were so long ago and yet they mean so much for us today.

I wonder if you are like me have ever fallen short on the Christian journey?  Perhaps there have been times when you have not told others about your faith, or you have not lent a hand to someone struggling, or maybe you like me have not spoken out against the things in society which you know to be unfair and unjust. 

But we all have the reassurance that if we open our hearts to Jesus, just like the first disciples, he will greet us, with the same words, “Peace be with you”.   He doesn’t give us a list of questions about how we have fallen short. He doesn’t interrogate us about what we have done or what we have failed to do, but rather he just greets us with those loving and freeing words of peace.  This liberates us to try again. To start afresh, and to turn over a new leaf. A new leaf each day if need be.  

Of course, as we receive these words for ourselves, we are called to share them with others through our day-to-day actions, as well as the sentiments in our hearts.   Some gifts are too good to keep to ourselves. Just like chocolate cake. Cake always tastes better when it is shared with someone else.  Peace always becomes stronger and more power-filled when shared with others.  
Of course, sharing peace is not always easy. There are many things in the human condition, within ourselves and within others which sometimes can make being peaceful challenging. And yet, if we are followers of Jesus, then peace is something we are called to share.  
  
Here also, if we can open our hearts to a Jesus encounter this becomes easier to do. Somehow just thinking what Jesus would do. Reflecting on how he had patience and an overwhelming love for the disciples, and all the diverse people he met. Reflecting on this along with the wisdom of his teaching makes being peaceful with our neighbours less challenging.  

Jesus said “Peace be with you” as he appeared to the disciples.  He shares the same peace with us as modern-day disciples. The peace of Jesus; a peace to enjoy and a peace to pass on.

So, as we reflect on these things may the peace of Jesus be with us all. Amen.  

Hymn:      Make Me a Channel of Your Peace
Sebastian Temple. 1967
 

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred
let me bring your love.
Where there is injury,
your pardon, Lord
And where there’s doubt,
true faith in you.
 
Oh, Master
grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled
as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love
with all my soul.
 

2: Make me a channel of your peace
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, only light
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

 

3: Make me a channel of your peace
It is in pardoning
that we are pardoned
In giving to all folk that we receive
And in dying
that we’re born to eternal life
(x2)

 

Affirmation of Faith

God’s reconciling act in Jesus Christ is a mystery
which the Scriptures describe in various ways.
 
It is called the sacrifice of a lamb, a shepherd’s life given for his sheep, atonement by a priest; again it is ransom of a slave, payment of debt, vicarious satisfaction of a legal penalty, and victory over the powers of evil. These are expressions of a truth which remains beyond the reach of all theory in the depths of God’s love for humankind.
 
They reveal the gravity, cost,
and sure achievement of God’s reconciling work in which we trust.
 
Intercessions
 
Let us join together in our prayer for others, let us pray:
 
Lord, we come to you today with peace in our hearts 
as we slowly emerge, taking tentative steps back out into the world
we pray that Your peace will surround us all.
 
Allow those who are struggling and lost at this time to feel Your peace upon them, provide them with the strength and courage to step out of the darkness into your light.
 
Comfort those who are grieving, enclose them in Your tender mercy
surround them with Your warmth and love so that they may find some peace through You.
For all who are feeling the weight of exhaustion, allow them to rest within Your arms. Bestow on them the strength required to continue on,
and let them feel Your peace flow through them.
 
For all those who have helped us along the way, showing care and love for all those in need.  Allow them to feel our gratitude and thanks,
replenish their lives with Your peace, 
  
For those who have guided us through this time of struggle and hardship,
Let their hearts and heads be aligned so that they may continue to lead and provide care for our world, showing the guidance of Your grace and justice for all.
 
As we move out of the darkness that has surrounded us, let us not return our old ways, rather embrace a new path of love and care for our planet and all creatures we share it with.  Remind us that we are but the custodians of Your world.
 
Lord, in this short time of silence we remember all those who have lost their lives throughout the pandemic.   For those close to us and those far away, we know that they are at peace, safe within Your loving arms.
 
time of silent prayer
 
We pray for Your peace to be upon our lips so that we may greet each other with kindness and compassion, with acceptance and forgiveness
Help us to keep in mind the words taught to us by our Lord Jesus Christ, as we say together…
 
The Lord’s Prayer
 
Offertory
 
As we make our offerings we pray:
 
Compassionate Father,
thank you for the many blessings that you pour into our lives.
As we now make our offerings to you,
may we remember that everything we have belongs to you
and we rejoice to give some of your abundant gifts back to you.
Receive our offerings and multiply them so that your work and word
can go forth we pray. Amen 
 
Hymn:      How Deep The Father’s Love For Us
Stuart Townend
 

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That he should send His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many folk to glory

2: Behold the Man upon a cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

3: I will not boast in anything – no gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward? I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart: His wounds have paid my ransom
 
Blessing
 
So loving God
we thank you for the peace we receive through Jesus Christ.
Help us to be the people you would have us be
through the grace of the Holy Spirit. 
People of faith, action and peace, this day and forever. 
In Jesus’ name.   Amen 
 
Sources and thanks
Call to Worship adapted by Andy Braunston from the Exultset.
All other prayers written and read by the Students of the Scottish College.

Now the Green Blade Rises – John Macleod Campbell Crum (1872-1958)  sung by the Smoke Fairies
We cannot measure how You heal  –John Bell – Taken from BBC’s Songs of Praise
Be Still for the Presence of the Lord – Music and words David J Evans. © Kingsway Thankyou Music, 1986 – unknown choir via https://youtu.be/ZugvUQ4m90U 
Make Me a Channel of Your Peace – Sebastian Temple. 1967 – sung by Chet Valley Churches
How Deep The Father’s Love For Us – Stuart Townend © 1995 Thankyou Music (P) Stuart Townend et al – on Kingsway’s Introducing Stuart Townend album 2005
 
Organ Pieces:
Nun Komm Der Heiden Heiland (“Now the Gentile saviour comes”) by Johann Sebastian Bach
(organ of The Spire Church, Farnham – 2020)
Komm Gott Schӧpfer Heiliger Geist (“Come God, creator Holy Ghost”) by Johann Sebastian Bach
(organ of Basilica Santa Maria Dei Assunta, Montecatini Terme, Italy – 2016)
 
Both pieces played by and received, with thanks, from Brian Cotterill http://briancotterill.webs.com
 

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