Carlops Online Worship 14th March 2021

4th Sunday in Lent


Lighting of candles:      Adam, Andrew, Galina


Call to worship:             Murray

Leader:        Let us give thanks to the God of small things and large things: for little sparks of hope as much as for great bursts of sunlight;            

                   for comfort and encouragement given secretly to one alone, as for things which have illumined the minds of millions                    

ALL:            For God so loved the world                                            

Leader:        Let us praise God as much for faithfulness and kindness not shown in spectacular ways, as for the sacrifices which history                                               records

ALL:            For God so loved the world                                 

Leader:        Let us ask to receive those good things which our Lord makes available for our souls, and also to give, for the enrichment of                                           the souls of others and for our common peace 

ALL:            For God so loved the world 


Hymn 268: O God of Bethel


O God of Bethel, by whose hand

thy people still are fed,

who through this earthly pilgrimage

hast all our fathers led:


Our vows, our prayers we now present

before thy throne of grace:

God of our fathers! be the God

of their succeeding race.


Through each perplexing path of life

our wandering footsteps guide;

give us each day our daily bread,

and raiment fit provide.


O spread thy covering wings around,

till all our strivings cease,

and at our fathers loved abode

our souls arrive in peace.


Such blessings from thy gracious hand

our humble prayers implore;

and thou shalt be our chosen God,

and portion evermore.



Reading:            Elaine


St. John 3:  14-21


Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.


Reflection             Nancy

‘For God so loved the world…’

I found myself wondering, this week, whether that includes Mars too? – as we await the outcome of NASA’s Perseverance Rover make its first tentative manoeuvres – how widely does ‘the world’, that God so loves, extend?  

And yet, surely, it was with love that the Word of God, as the Creator of all things, breathed being into the whole of the created order – and, by that same love, seeks to be involved in the life of all his creation – not only earth but all the stars and suns of space, and the planets in their courses, singing on their way?  Is not that Word its song?

A thought indeed for this fourth Sunday in Lent – Mothering Sunday, that sends us back to that which is our home. 


Exactly a year ago, Stewart McPherson, as Interim Minister of this parish, quoted for this same Mothering Sunday – so early in a lockdown that we little comprehended then, the enormity, or the implications, of it – he quoted these remarkable words of the 14th century English mystic Julian of Norwich:

As truly as God is our Father, so just as truly is God our Mother.

In our Father, God Almighty, we have our being;  in our merciful Mother, we are re-made ad restored.

Our fragmented lives are knit together;  and by giving and yielding ourselves through grace, to the Holy Spirit, we are made whole.

It is I, the strength and goodness of Fatherhood.  It is I, the wisdom of Motherhood.  It is I, the light and grace of holy love.  It is I, the Trinity, it is I, the unity.

I am the sovereign goodness in all things.  It is I who teach you to love.  It is I who teach you to desire.  It is I who am the reward of all true desiring.

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.  (Amen)


I thought about all this as I contemplated this world – let alone Mars – our own little planet, this little ‘o’ the earth.  And the indelible imprint that humankind has made even on its remotest wildernesses – the mess we’ve made of so much of it – and the good we’ve done too.   Julian of Norwich’s words are a prayer we need each day of our lives

Thank goodness it is for the love of this world that God sent his Son – because the mess we make does not alter that love, but rather only in that love can we find healing and restoration and wholeness.   The ground of our being.  The breath by which we are sustained.


These Sundays in Lent, from now on through Palm Sunday, have readings assigned to them that show the growing awareness amongst Jesus’ followers of his Passion – that is, that he must suffer and die and three days later rise again. 

Passion suggests to me something of great depth and substance, something costly and exhausting something that involves body and mind and spirit in an act of total, willing, selfless commitment and purpose, whether the one who reveals such passion is active or is being acted upon.  The Passion of our Lord, which in a way begins with his birth and ends in the tomb, is all of these things and more.


But the single most important element in his Passion, in his life, it seems to me, was / is love.


Had there been no love – the love of God for this mixed-up world, for this wayward and arrogant humanity – there would have been no passion, no suffering.  But God so loved this world, this humanity, with all its muddle-headed, misguided and dangerous ways – that he gave his only Son to die – the ultimate act of love that is prepared to suffer – that we might have life through him, that might yet learn by his example, to live that others too might live.


Some years ago, a Russian Orthodox priest visited Scotland – Metropolitan Anthony Sourouj – and told, in St Giles’, a story of such love from his own country’s history.

At the turn of the 20th century, a civil war raged in Russia – between the red army (the Communists) and the white army (non-Communist).  One woman, a mother in her mid-20s, hid in the outskirts of a city that had been a stronghold of the white army but had been taken over by the reds.

Her husband was a white army officer, and she and her children had to hide because she knew that she would be shot.  As darkness gathered on that evening, while the searches went on in the city for hidden enemies, someone knocked at her door.  She opened the door in fear, but it was a young woman, of her own age, who said:  ‘Are you Katrina, the wife of the white army officer?’  and the mother said, ‘yes, I am’.  And the young woman at the door said, ‘I am Natalie.  I have a house in another city where you can go to be safe – if you leave now with your children you can reach it in time, because the searchers have not yet reached this far.  No one’, she said, ‘will try to find you, because I will stay behind and call myself by your name.’

And the mother said, ‘but they will shoot you then?’

‘Yes’, said Natalie, ‘they will shoot me, but I have no children.’

The mother, and her children, went, and the other one stayed.

Can you imagine?  said Metropolitan Anthony.  Can you imagine what happened?  I don’t think we can, he said, because none of us has an experience of it.  But we do have images from the gospel and the holy scripture about it.

Natalie waited in the darkness.  It was enough for her to open the door and walk into the street, to become herself again and not the woman whose place she had taken.  She did not know what would happen to the mother and her children, whether they would find the safety she had directed them to.  But she stayed and did not run away.  She gave her life without ever knowing what happened ultimately. 


Upon such love as this, the world was created and is sustained, and for its life God gave his one Son our Lord.  

And in him do we place our trust.



Prayer                    Nan

International Women’s Day was celebrated last week and this morning we give thanks for the work and example of inspirational women throughout history.. We pray for women the world over who are deprived of the freedom to develop their talents and reach their potential in life.  Bring your comfort to those oppressed by governments or traditions and encourage those who strive for equality of opportunity for all.

We pray for the bereaved families in Dunblane who are reliving the horrors of the  tragedy that took place at the primary school exactly 25 years ago. We thank you for giving them the courage to fight for a change in the gun laws both here and in America.

As we enjoy the lengthening of daylight hours, the signs of new growth and the delight of bird song we give thanks for these and all the many blessings of our lives in this community – our families and friends; our homes, clothes and food; our freedom to ask questions, to learn and to act. Guide us to use these freedoms according to your will.

 In silence we now bring our own prayers to you.

To conclude I will read extracts from a prayer from the Life and Work magazine:-


Eternal God  In this strangest of years   as we have watched Winter bloom to Spring from behind our windows and doors –  Speak to us God of promise and hope that we might piece together steadily our way ahead to support and  strengthen each other.

Present God  in this strangest of years  as we have heard the voice of loved ones from afar and communicated with many – but not face to face                            Speak to us God of promise and hope   that in good time we will meet again with those from whom we have been separate.

Loving God  in this strangest of years   take us by your hand and with your smile forgive, encourage and inspire each one of us, our Church, and our community. Speak to us God of promise and hope  that emboldened by your grace, we may with daring faith, resolve our hearts to face the future confident in your love.



Hymn 181: For the beauty of the earth

For the beauty of the earth,

for the beauty of the skies,

for the love which from our birth

over and around us lies:

Christ, our God, to you we raise

this our sacrifice of praise.


For the beauty of each hour

of the day and of the night,

hill and vale, and tree and flower,

sun and moon and stars of light:

Christ, our God, to you we raise

this our sacrifice of praise.


For the joy of ear and eye,

for the heart and mind’s delight,

for the mystic harmony

linking sense to sound and sight:

Christ, our God, to you we raise

this our sacrifice of praise.


For the joy of human love,

brother, sister, parent, child,

friends on earth, and friends above,

for all gentle thoughts and mild:

Christ, our God, to you we raise

this our sacrifice of praise.


For each perfect gift and sign

of your love so freely given,

graces human and divine,

flowers of earth and buds of heaven:

Christ, our God, to you we raise

this our sacrifice of praise.


Benediction          Nancy


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.