Carlops Zoom Service:  Sunday 12 July 2020    


Welcome and lighting of candles (Adam and Galina)


Call to worship (Murray)

From Psalm 65:

Come and worship,

Everyone on earth,

Everywhere the sun shines,

Let’s praise God together!


For watering the earth,

Making it rich and fertile,

Providing a bountiful harvest of grain.

Let’s praise God together!


When even the hard pathways overflow with abundance.

The wilderness grasslands become lush pasture,

The hillsides blossom with joy,

The meadows are clothed with flocks of sheep,

And the valleys are carpeted with grain.

Let’s praise God together!


Come and worship,

everyone on earth,

everywhere the sun shines,

let’s praise God together!


Hymn: I the Lord of sea and sky (CH4 251)


‘I, the Lord of sea and sky,

I have heard my people cry.

All who dwell in dark and sin

my hand will save.

I, who made the stars of night,

I will make their darkness bright.

Who will bear my light to them?

Whom shall I send?’


Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?

I have heard you calling in the night.

I will go, Lord, if you lead me.

I will hold your people in my heart.


‘I, the Lord of snow and rain,

I have borne my people’s pain.

I have wept for love of them.

They turn away.

I will break their hearts of stone,

give them hearts for love alone.

I will speak my Word to them.

Whom shall I send?’


Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?

I have heard you calling in the night.

I will go, Lord, if you lead me.

I will hold your people in my heart.


‘I, the Lord of wind and flame,

I will tend the poor and lame.

I will set a feast for them.

My hand will save.

Finest bread I will provide

till their hearts be satisfied.

I will give my life to them.

Whom shall I send?’


Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?

I have heard you calling in the night.

I will go, Lord, if you lead me.

I will hold your people in my heart.


Bible reading  (Chris)

Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23

That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. Such great crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat there, while the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “Listen! A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”


Reflection (Kevin)    

As we’ve heard from Chris today’s reading is the Parable of the Sower. Not my go to sort of parable – given I have a – historical – background as a zoologist – and definitely not as a botanist! We did have to cover a bit of botany in my 1st Year but given that plants seemed fairly dull to me – just standing still – in one place and not moving around at all I dropped botany as fast as I could.

So I’m definitely not a botanist – and by association I’m not a gardener – in our household that would be Susan – I cut the grass.

However – during Lockdown I have actually sown and tended some seeds – initially some sunflowers – and I have to admit some excitement and joy each morning inspecting them on our kitchen window sill – initially spotting a crack in the soil and then watching the shoots push through and up – and possibly taking more joy than I should have at the time – that my sunflowers germinated – sprouted and grew faster than Susan’s.

They were all eventually transplanted to the garden where I’m sad to say they have all been eaten.

However I do have a survivor – my basil – again from seed – carefully nurtured and tended – and which in the fullness of time – I have high hopes for!

So I have – quite recently – become a sower of seed.


Today’s reading is that very familiar story of a man who went out to plant seed in a field and it describes the common way of sowing seed at the time – of broadcasting the seed. The parable is fairly simple: the sower scatters the seed generously and it ends up on four different types of ground. Some lands on the path – some on rocky ground – others amongst the thorns – and some in good soil. The first three groups of seed fail to flourish and the seed landing on the good soil produces a harvest.


Jesus – goes on to explain the meaning behind the seed falling on the different types of ground. And on reading or hearing the explanation we might often say – or I have certainly found myself saying:


“I think I’d like to be the good soil.”

Or – “I think I know some people who seem to be a bit like the rocky soil”

– and – “Maybe I should pray for those who seem to be stuck in the thorny soil.”


While all the time thinking that I’m probably fairly rocky and thorny myself.


The parable of the sower quickly becomes the parable of the ground – I have to say I’ve always approached it in this way.

But having been given the opportunity to reflect on the passage and spend a bit more time with it there’s a foundational truth in here which ultimately probably overarches and transcends – the individual types of ground.


This is the Parable of the Sower – it’s not the Parable of the Ground – so this morning I’m more inclined towards the sower than towards the ground.


The farmer in the parable uses the broadcast method for sowing his seed. Lots of seed broadly cast across his path as he walks forward. Many of these seeds are not productive.

Some get eaten by birds.

Some sprout but then wither in the sun.

Some seedlings get choked out by the thorns.

And a few yield varying amounts of grain.

Notwithstanding that the broadcasting of seed was common practice at that time the sower seems to have been a bit more profligate than he might have been and seems to discard common sense by scattering seeds where there is little likelihood that they’ll grow and produce a crop. Even though he had to broadcast the seed he could have exercised more care with his broadcasting around the margins of his field.

The people who first heard this probably thought that the farmer was pretty foolish and wasteful because he chose to sow the seeds on the wrong kind of ground. The farmer’s livelihood depended on the success of the crop. Good seed was hard to come by – and the wise farmer made sure that he planted his precious grain in the best possible ground. But this one throws the seed all over the place.

This farmer behaved as though – the seed – which was the most precious thing to him – was available in an unlimited supply.

With our focus on the sower – this generous – almost reckless – broadcasting of the seed illustrates the abundant nature of God. The word of God – the message of his love for all – is freely – abundantly – excessively – available for all – whoever they are – and wherever they are.

And perhaps Jesus is also making the point that God isn’t bound by the rules – he isn’t bound by our rules – He has invested in the seed (His Word) and invites the faithful – us – to cast it around the world in the hope and trust that it will take root in others.


If we come at it from this starting point – does it make us think differently about how we might share the Good News?

How we might broadcast God’s seed?


My inclination – and I think the Church to a certain extent – would probably be to overthink this. My inclination would definitely be to overthink it! I’d want a well-defined plan for what I was going to do – a route map if you like – detailing defined steps – targets – goals along the way. And I would absolutely want to ensure that the sowing ground was well prepared – that the seeds were to be sown into the best prepared ground possible.

But this isn’t what we’re being told in the parable. It is not for us to determine the condition of the place where the sowing is to happen. We are not in charge. We are to carry out the task without over thinking how the seed may or may not be received.

The responsibility is for us to sow.

We are not directly responsible for the growth. We may well have a role to play in the growth – but the important thing here is the sowing.


If there’s no sowing – there’s no growing.


We are to share the Good News – trust God – and not tie ourselves in knots over what might or might not be seen as success.

The promise of God – is sure. As we read in Isaiah at Verse 11 of Chapter 55:

It is the same with my word. I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.


Within all this I’ve also been thinking about our Lockdown experience – our different church – the different reach that our church has discovered – the different searching evident from some out with the church.

Our different church – with YouTube Reflections – Zoom services – emailed Reflections – and other churches with YouTube live services – and pre-recorded packaged services.

And in St Boswells where my Mum worships – street church.

The Rev Barrie Cash – who I know contributes to the Upper Tweeddale churches – is a Methodist minister but a member of the St Boswells Church of Scotland congregation. The Methodist Church encouraged their members to go outside on Easter Sunday and sing a hymn of praise – Barrie did this with his mildly reluctant wife – and was spotted by a neighbour – who shortly after knocked on his door and encouraged him to come out again and offered to print off the words of a popular hymn and put these through letterboxes in the immediate vicinity.

Since then the gathering has grown from a handful of people singing a couple of hymns – to between 30 and 35 people – standing socially distanced on the pavement – and street church now includes a couple of hymns – a prayer and a short reflection.

Many of these are people who would not have attended church in church.

Under normal circumstances – many – or most of these activities would not have happened. We would have gone on – carefully planning how best to share the Good News – and we’d have tried to ensure that the ground was as well prepared as it could be. But because of Lockdown – and through the resourcefulness of many around us – Church just had to give it a bit of a bash – and trust in God.

And we can see – from the engagement and the feedback from our wider communities – that we don’t need to carefully prepare the ground – we don’t need to meticulously plant the seeds in carefully ordered rows – we don’t need to overthink our outreach – but rather trust in God – trust the seed – take a risk – open a door – hold out a hand – and not to be frightened to do things differently.

Across the linkage our Churches are involved in many forms of outreach into our communities – from coffee drop ins and soup lunches in Carlops to Cozy Café – Guid Blethers and Baby Brunch in West Linton – and also Messy Church – involvement in supporting our local foodbanks – and much more.

Most people in our communities will know that the Church is involved in all of this – but I wonder what they think of our involvement – as Church – in all of this. Rather than Church – are we just a bunch of nice people doing nice things because we’re nice – do they separate us from Church in their head.

Do they think that Church is different – that Church is in that building – and Church happens behind those closed doors on a Sunday morning – and Church is a bit of the Bible – a bit of God – a bit of Jesus – some Hymns (probably old Hymns) – a bit dry – a bit dusty – and not really that relevant to my normal everyday life.

But Lockdown has opened the doors – has opened wide the doors of the Church – has dissolved the physical walls of the Church – and for all of us has stripped away some of the irrelevance of our usual lives – and made us think differently about what’s important – and maybe for some about what’s missing in life.

And as Church – we’ve been forced by the necessity of the situation to broadcast the seed – to broadcast the Good News – more broadly – more freely – and possibly even a bit more extravagantly – than we might normally have done.  At the outset it all seemed a bit risky – a bit uncertain – but what’s been found here – across our country – and across the world – is that the ground is ready for the seed.

That seed may germinate and flourish – it may germinate and be choked by changing everyday life – it may be eaten up – but that’s for God. It should not concern or deter us from continuing to find ways to broadcast the seed. This will include many of the things I’ve mentioned that we already do as Church for our communities – because they are needed and valued and are the outworking of God’s love.

But there will be many lessons to be learnt from our experience of Lockdown – and as Church I believe this is really important. The Good News has been broadcast – as in the Parable – broadly – freely – extravagantly – and going forward we should not lose this. We shouldn’t necessarily go back – as I probably would – to trying to plant seeds in neat – ordered rows – in meticulously prepared ground.

We should continue to embrace new opportunities to broadcast the seed – and not worry too much about the condition of the ground it may land on – but trust that God will find a way – His way – to ensure that it grows.




Prayer and blessing (include brief quiet time)  (Kevin)

God of infinite grace and love,

We rely on Your love

Extended to us in all ways and at all times,

Extravagantly and generously.


We live each day

Knowing that Your care and concern is poured out for us

In Your provision for our needs.


God of infinite grace and love,

We give thanks for your unchanging face as the world changes around us.

You entrust us with the gift of the good news of the Gospel

And invite us to be partners in the sharing of the message of grace.

Day by day we see the many gifts You lavish upon us.

We come to You to acknowledge and praise You for all Your goodness to us.


God of infinite grace and love,

We give thanks for the commitment

Particularly at this time

Of those who look after our quality of life,

Through food production and distribution,

Through health care

And through the many services that support our daily lives.      


God of infinite grace and love,

Empower – encourage and endorse

Those who try to address the needs of the isolated and lonely.

The concerned workers

Who day by day bring food and shelter,

Care and compassion

To the hungry and the homeless across the world.


God of infinite grace and love,

We bring before you,

The sick in mind – body and spirit,

The dying – and those who care for them,

That in their daily lives,

They may always be aware of the presence of Your spirit among them.


And Lord – in this moment of silence,

We each bring before you those people and those situations close to our own hearts.



God of infinite grace and love,

We give thanks for all of your people,

Who are joyful and profligate sowers of your seed.

We join with them now

And all followers of Christ across the World,

In sharing the prayer that Jesus taught us:


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,

Forever.  Amen 



May God’s living

be sown within our soul.

May his life fill us with goodness

and his love bear fruit

in us and those we meet.


And may the blessing of God almighty,

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Be with us all today and for evermore.



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.