Carlops Online Worship 13th June 2021


Lighting of candles:     Adam and Galina


Call to Worship:                          Murray

Our praise is given for things that touch the soul;

for lovely sounds; for birds and animals;

and growing things that help our peace to grow.

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Our hearts reach out for grace,

to give new hope in all our lives and in all the world.             

Bless the Lord, O my soul.     

For beauty that comes in broken things;

and for the light that shines only through the dark.                      

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name.               


Hymn 132: Immortal, invisible, God only wise

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,

in light inaccessible hid from our eyes,

most blessèd, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,

almighty, victorious, thy great name we praise.

Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light,

nor wanting, nor wasting, thou rulest in might;

thy justice like mountains, high soaring above

thy clouds, which are fountains of goodness and love.


To all, life thou givest, to both great and small;

in all life thou livest, the true life of all;

we blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree,

and wither and perish, but naught changeth thee.


Great Father of glory, pure Father of light,

thine angels adore thee, all veiling their sight.

All praise we would render: O help us to see

‘tis only the splendour of light hideth thee.


Reading:       Trish   

St Mark 4: 26 – 34           

He also said, “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. All by itself the soil produces grain—first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.”


Again he said, “What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.”


With many similar parables Jesus spoke the word to them, as much as they could understand. He did not say anything to them without using a parable. But when he was alone with his own disciples, he explained everything.


Reflection                                     Nancy


The richness that comes from four distinct gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – cannot be overstated.  And, to my mind, it is as much the distinctiveness of each gospel account, as much as their common ground, that offers that richness, and reinforces their authenticity.  Telling the story of Jesus’ life, and the events leading up to his death is, of course, their unifying theme.  But each of the four writers approaches from such a different angle, each is writing for a different audience, each has a different emphasis.


It seems to me that, more than the other three, there is a sense of urgency that pervades Mark’s writing – the first of the gospels to be written down, some 60 or 70 years after Jesus’ death – written in haste perhaps to ensure that time’s quick passage would not erase what was held so firmly in the memory.   Precise grammar and proper literary construction are of little interest to Mark, smooth transitions from one event to the next are largely absent, he offers no preliminaries, no infancy narratives, but from the outset jumps straight into the drama, into a ministry that’s already begun that will lead straight to the cross – his single-minded purpose to make clear that that is the will and purpose of God at work in the world, for life and light and good, against every force that would seek to thwart it.


This story – unique to Mark’s gospel – tells us of that purpose, in the form of a little parable, a form of speech that says and doesn’t say, in equal measure, so that we are drawn in to engage with it – as a puzzle that both reveals and hides its meaning.  The seed is sown, the parable tells us, and the farmer can then sleep and rise, day after day, secure in the knowledge that its potential for sprouting and maturing is hidden within the seed itself – the farmer can only wonder, in awe and gratitude, at the mystery of its happening.


The kingdom of God, Jesus says, is just like that.  The seed is the Word, sown into the world in the beginning.  And God will bring that Word to fruition, we know not how, for it is deep in the heart of things, unseen and unfathomable.  But in its own time and in its own way it will work a work for good, for the love of this world of God’s making.

Against what odds, and how desperately the world needs to hear again – and again – the Word of love that has been sown into the ground of our being, the loving purposes of God’s kingdom that have been woven and sewn into the fabric of our making, the love that is both the origin and the destiny of all creation’s being.


From a BBC Good Food magazine, oddly, comes a prayer that I want to make this morning – for that world.   – for this world / for our world.  Working through a stack of old Good Food magazines, searching out good recipes, my eye was caught by an advert for Philadelphia Cream Cheese – being brought out in a new, reduced-fat, extra light, variation on the original.  ‘First there was light’, the advert declared, showing a tub of Light Philadelphia.  But now ‘let there be extra light!’, it heralded, going on to describe this new ‘Extra Light’ variety as ‘a little taste of heaven’.


And that’s the sum of my sermon / the sum of my prayer for today, for this second Sunday in the season of Trinity – the pinnacle of the Christian year, as my former colleague used to call it:   not just, let there be light, but let there be extra light, for the whole world, where so much seems to be not only amiss, but a mess – as if it were held in the grip of a destructive power.  I suppose you could say it was God’s prayer too, these first words of the Bible:  Let there be light.   Not cream cheese, of course, but the initial act of creation, of first principles, breathing love into everything, bringing light from darkness, order from chaos, life from nothing….  Against the same odds – darkness, chaos, nothing – Jesus too offered the same. 


Worlds came into being, as we know in the beautiful poetry of the writers of the first books of the Bible – abundance and variety and intricacy and vastness and connections between everything, things flying and creeping and growing, the firmament and the sea, the firmament of heaven even, buds and seeds, seasons and days, warmth and rain.  And within and around it all, that relationship between the creator and everything created, the light was enough.  But as time has gone on – and in human hearts – there seems such darkness

and the world of immense need grows larger and larger, while the world of the ‘I have everything I need, and more’ has the control of everything.


Why is there such imbalance?  Is that the modern form of evil?  or at least one of the modern forms?   So much of humanity is struggling simply to survive against what feels like overwhelming odds.  The resources of heaven and earth seem not to be enough to confront the imbalances that even we can see.


So: for both those worlds – the world of need everything, and the world of too much of everything – if the light is not enough, then let there be extra light for the tens of hundreds / hundreds of thousands:   in Syria, in Yemen – in Afghanistan; in Congo, in Tigray, in Sudan and South Sudan, in Somalia – to have so little, or nothing, to begin with – and then to lose it all.  The need is colossal – beyond our imagining – for those worlds, let there be extra light

for all the parts and places that meantime have gone off the news radar – the list is endless – but whose suffering is monstrous, let there be extra light.


 None of this is a new revelation, but it does sometimes take disasters of major proportions to bring us to our senses.  Unless real caring is at the heart of our life – individual and collective – then Christ may not be there either.

Dear God, let there be extra light, for this world that we – and you – love so much. 


Prayer                              Julie

Our father God, we come before you today knowing that you listen and that our thoughts can be lifted to you at any time. Any burden that we carry can be laid down before you.

God, we are thankful for the health that we do have, for the beautiful weather of late, for the chance to see our bare winter gardens and surroundings flowering and thriving with life again. We are grateful for our friends and families and for their physical presence in our lives again.

Lord we are encouraged to see world leaders pledge vaccine supplies to poorer countries – now that there is action in this area may the plans go smoothly and swiftly. May we reach a place where our governments think of others much sooner in a crisis like this.

We pray for parts of the world dealing with humanitarian disasters on top of the pandemic, especially Ethiopia, where famine has been declared by the UN. May aid reach the people there and relief come.

We pray for organisations helping our homeless population, and we pray for those who have lost their homes recently in such uncertain times, especially where children are involved.

Lord, it can be overwhelming when we think of more and more to bring before you in prayer. Your patient and loving nature makes it easier. We bring our own cares before you now in a moment of stillness.

God, help us to remember the parables from today’s readings and to reflect on them in this week ahead. If we are the mustard seeds we are made with the purpose of growing. With our 5 other partner churches we have an opportunity now to grow together, to send branches out in new directions and to be fruitful for you, our sower and the nourisher of our roots. May it be so.

We ask your blessings on us for the week ahead, may there be laughter and love in our lives and in adversity may we find peace in you.

We ask these things in Jesus’ name.



Hymn 465:          Be thou my vision

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;

naught be all else to me, save that thou art;

thou my best thought in the day or the night,

waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.


Be thou my Wisdom, be thou my true Word;

I ever with thee, and thou with me, Lord;

thou my great Father: thine own I would be;

thou in me dwelling, and I one with thee.


Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;

be thou my dignity, thou my delight,

thou my soul’s shelter, and thou my high tower;

raise thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.


Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,

thou mine inheritance, now and always;

thou, and thou only, the first in my heart,

High King of Heaven, my treasure thou art.

High King of Heaven, after victory won,

may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s sun!

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.


Benediction                   Murray             

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.