Worship in Carlops Sunday 10th October 2021 10am

19th Sunday after Trinity (blended service in Church and on Zoom)


Welcome and lighting of candles Adam Salter and Galina MacNeacail

Call to Worship           Patsy Campbell

Leader: In morning’s light that dispels the edges of night, to reveal again the colour and intricacy of earth’s patterns, we listen for the Creator’s word:
ALL: Behold! I make all things new!
Leader: In friendship across borders, in the welcome offered to a stranger, in sharing earth’s abundance generously, in neighbourliness of all kinds, we sense an assurance:
ALL: Behold! I make all things new!
Leader: In our worship and our praise, bringing into focus our deepest longings for good, and their consecration and encouragement, we seek Christ’s blessing:
ALL: Behold! I make all things new!

HYMN 125

Lord of our being

1. Lord of all being, throned afar,
thy glory flames from sun and star;
centre and soul of every sphere,
yet to each loving heart so near.

2. Sun of our life, thy quickening ray
sheds on our path the glow of day;
Star of our hope, thy softened light
cheers the long watches of the night.

3. Our midnight is thy smile withdrawn,
our noontide is thy gracious dawn,
our rainbow arch thy mercy’s sign;
all, save the clouds of sin, are thine.

4. Lord of all life, below, above,
whose light is truth, whose warmth is love,
before thy ever-blazing throne
we ask no lustre of our own.

5. Grant us thy truth to make us free,
and kindling hearts that burn for thee,
till all thy living altars claim
one holy light, one heavenly flame.

Readings        Gavin Marshall

Hebrews 4: 12-16
For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are – yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.


St Mark 10: 17-31

As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good – except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, you shall not defraud, honour your father and mother.’” “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.” Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!” The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!” “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 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. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Reflection        Rev Nancy Norman

Tucked into the heart of Mark’s account of the rich man’s questioning Jesus about how to inherit eternal life are two rather beautiful, incredibly profound, statements. The first – almost unnoticed – is this:
‘Jesus looked at him and loved him.’
– words that don’t appear in either of the other two gospel accounts – Matthew and Luke – both of whom record more or less the same story.

(And interestingly I nearly said ‘the story of the rich young ruler’, but while all three gospel accounts speak of a rich man, only Matthew says he is young and only Luke refers to him as a ruler.)

To my mind, there could hardly be a more profound way of expressing the wonder and mystery of grace, than in that simplest of statements:
‘Jesus looked at him and loved him.’ Or, as it is more poetically expressed, in the Authorised King James version: ‘and Jesus, beholding him loved him.’

We know the story well, of course, even if we hadn’t just heard it read (and the final point of it is common parlance, even if people don’t know that it’s from the bible). In Mark’s gospel, this encounter with the rich man follows Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Son of God, and that to be a disciple of Jesus means walking with him in the way of the cross – although the disciples don’t yet understand what that involves. But with each step of their journey with Jesus, they do learn, bit by bit what it means.

Then comes almost a little interlude of Jesus welcoming children – to inherit the kingdom, he says, everyone must become like these little children.

And then comes the story of the rich man. He approached Jesus, intent on securing for himself that inheritance.

How can I enter the kingdom? – was his earnest, and most likely sincere, request, at pains to ease his mind of its burden.

‘Good teacher’, he pleads, ‘please tell me!’
But you know the way perfectly well – Jesus says to him ….. to live by the commandments – and Jesus lists them.
But I’ve already done ALL that, the man said, since I was a boy. Does that not earn me a place?
…. and Jesus, beholding him, loved him

There is only one thing that you lack: everything you have – sell it all, and give the money to the poor and there will be treasure for you in heaven. And come and follow me.

None of the gospels records the man’s answer. There was none to give.
He really did have a lot of possessions – the tangible awards built up from a lifetime’s efforts. He could not bring himself to part with anything, to receive the one gift he was offered.
(too proud? too high a price? too destructive of his self-image?)
He simply fades from the picture, in distress and sorrow.

Jesus illustrates the rich man’s dilemma in one of most picturesque images in the bible: it is as impossible for a rich man to enter the kingdom as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle

Biblical scholars and linguists have tried to find a way through and around that conundrum. But there is none. It is truly impossible.

But, curiously, the story doesn’t stop there.
It doesn’t stop even with the finality of that impossibility.
And here is the second of the two rather beautiful, incredibly profound, statements in this little story:

‘What is impossible for human beings is possible with God.’
What was impossible becomes instead an impossible possibility. Simply because nothing is impossible with God – even getting a rich man into the kingdom.

Even at our best – not just at our worst – human beings are redeemable:
the love with which we are loved makes all things possible, because nothing is impossible with God.

It is the same love with which the Creator looked upon the face of the waters, beheld the firmaments of heaven and earth, the moon and the stars, the abundance of vibrant life, and saw that it was good

It is the same love to which Paul bore witness in his letter to the church at Corinth: love is patient, love is kind, seeks the good of the other

It is the same outpouring of love from which God gave his only Son, for the life of the world, for human life, for our life …..

It is the same love with which the Father welcomed back his prodigal son – from a great distance he saw him, and ran to him – he who loved most, saw first. But he would have waited forever, if need be

Thou art before me, Lord, thou art behind…..
If I should take my flight into the dawn
If I should dwell on ocean’s farthest shore
Thy mighty hand would rest upon me still
And thy right hand would guard me evermore.

I wonder how long the rich young ruler regretted that extraordinary encounter with Jesus – for the whole of his life, I imagine.

But I wonder if he read Mark’s gospel account, years later, as a very old man, perhaps, and found – to his horror, his astonishment, – that his own conversation with Jesus not only had been remembered, but recorded, for all time.

But what he might never have realised, until he read it there, was that singular, haunting, inconceivable, impossible possible comment:
and Jesus, beholding him loved him.

Life is a gift. And what we are given is not ours to earn but God’s to give. It’s called grace.

The American writer and theologian Frederick Buechner, in his delightful little book Wishful Thinking: A Theological ABC, describes it in this way:

‘After centuries of handling and mishandling, most religious words have become so ship-worn nobody’s much interested any more. Not so with grace, for some reason. Mysteriously, even derivatives like gracious and graceful still have some of the bloom left.

‘Grace is something you can never get but only be given. There’s no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.

‘A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams. Most tears are grace. The smell of rain is grace. Somebody loving you is grace. Loving somebody is grace. Have you ever tried to love somebody?

‘A crucial eccentricity of the Christian faith is the assertion that people are saved by grace. There’s nothing you have to do. There’s nothing you have to do. There’s nothing you have to do.

‘The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you.

‘There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it.

‘Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.’

Prayer        Nan Buchan

Let us pray

As the beautiful colours of autumn arrive to delight us wherever we look around our homes, we pray for all those living in ugliness, poverty and disease. We pray for those who have no homes, who shelter under canvas in all weathers and who rely on hand outs for food and clothes.

We pray for those enduring terrible conditions while working to bring the necessary life-giving aid to those in circumstances of distress. We ask that you inspire governments and individuals to be generous in giving relief to the suffering in the world.

We pray for the counties desperately waiting for supplies of coronavirus vaccines while richer countries hoard unnecessary amounts. We pray for the sick and those bereaved all over the world because of the pandemic and for those working in hospitals and science labs to bring healing. We pray for the success of the new vaccine against malaria being rolled out now to children in parts of Africa.

And we pray now in silence our own prayers to you.

The following prayer includes extracts from Life and Work magazine.

Loving God we thank you for the sun that gives light to us each day and for your son whose light shines even in darkness. Thank you for your assurance that, wherever we are, you are there, before, behind, above and beside us- because nothing in life or death can distance us from Your love.

Creator God, we thank you for the changing seasons and pray for our precious planet. Help us to care for the little parts that we inhabit. May our lifestyle habits neither harm nor damage earth, sea or sky and all that lives therein. May your spirit unite us as peaceful protestors and passionate practitioners against climate change and climate injustice.

We ask this in your name.


Hynm 500

Lord of creation, to you be all praise

1. Lord of creation, to you be all praise!
Most mighty your working, most wondrous your ways!
Your glory and power are beyond us to tell,
and yet in the heart of the humble you dwell.

2. Lord of all power, I give you my will,
in joyful obedience your tasks to fulfil.
Your bondage is freedom; your service is song;
and, held in your keeping, my weakness is strong.

3. Lord of all wisdom, I give you my mind,
rich truth that surpasses our knowledge to find.
What eye has not seen, and what ear has not heard
is taught by your Spirit and shines from your Word.

4. Lord of all bounty, I give you my heart;
I praise and adore you for all you impart;
your love to inflame me, your counsel to guide,
your presence to shield me, whatever betide.

5. Lord of all being, I give you my all;
if I should disown you, I’d stumble and fall;
but, sworn in your service your word I’ll obey,
and walk in your freedom to the end of the way.

Benediction       Rev Nancy Norman

Sung blessing

May the God of peace go with us,
as we travel from this place;
May the love of Jesus keep us,
firm in hope and full of grace.