Carlops Online Worship 17 January 2021


Lighting of candles: Adam and Galina


Call to worship: Murray

It is good to give thanks to the Lord
For his love endures forever
He has satisfied the thirsty
And filled the hungry with good things
He is the Way the Truth and the Life
May His truth be ours also.

Hymn 166: Lord of all hopefulness

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
whose trust, ever childlike, no cares could destroy,
be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.

Lord of all eagerness, Lord of all faith,
whose strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe,
be there at our labours, and give us, we pray,
your strength in our hearts, Lord, at the noon of the day.

Lord of all kindliness, Lord of all grace,
your hands swift to welcome, your arms to embrace,
be there at our homing, and give us, we pray,
your love in our hearts, Lord, at the eve of the day.

Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

Readings: Trish

John 7: 53 to 8: 11
(In some bibles this passage at end of John’s gospel)

Then they all went home, but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery.
They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.
Matthew 5 vs 33 – 37.
“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfil to the Lord the vows you have made.’ But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

Reflection: Chris

Ethical well being

Ethical well being is surely as crucial to living a wholesome life as is physical well being or mental health.
Sometimes, I fear it may just be me, developing a Victor Meldrew syndrome, but it appears that there is a certain decay in the ethics of public life. I know that politics has always been about power and how it is used. And there never has been a golden age when those in power of whatever party, behaved perfectly. However even the language of modern politics appears at times to acquiesce in the devaluing of standards and integrity. “Fake news, alternative reality, breaking the law in only a limited and specific way.” So do we perhaps need to develop ways of maintaining and understanding the importance of ethical well being and standards among those who govern us as well as in us, the governed?

For physical well being we have the typical dietary advice of five a day, vegetables and fruit, along with fresh air and exercise. For mental health, the NHS has suggested five ways towards well being namely: connect with other people, be physically active, learn new skills, give to others and pay attention to and in the present moment. Now is there, or can there be similar advice for us all in the realm of ethical well being?

A psychologist, James Rest, suggests there is. He suggests there are four components of moral reasoning. The first stage is moral sensitivity, recognising when an issue is one of morality, rather than personal preference, the second is moral reasoning, trying to decide what the right thing to do would be, third comes moral motivation – acknowledging the other interests and motives that influence your thinking, and comparing them, and the fourth is moral implementation, bringing your reasoning and motivation together and acting on that decision.

Now if that sounds a bit over complicated, don’t worry too much, because any time taken to think about such aspects of a decision is likely to be helpful. Another Psychologist (Daniel Kahneman) suggests that any such consideration helps us to move from what he calls fast thinking, to slow thinking. Fast thinking is a virtually automatic response, seemingly instinctive and based on how you are feeling at the time. Whereas difficult or unfamiliar decisions require slow thinking which is more deliberate and logical. Slow thinking is harder work so we are tempted to rely too often on fast thinking. The value of the four component approach, or slow thinking, is that it makes our decisions deliberate and logical rather than automatic. It makes our decisions better.

Most people want to do the right thing, but the right thing is sometimes not even properly considered.

There is a lot of evidence which shows, with regard to the five ways to mental well being, that doing good for others is good for one’s own well being. In the longer term, concern and respect for others, beyond one’s own immediate circle, along with thoughtfulness and truthfulness, benefits all of us. And here we are also of course, well within the area of ethical well being.

When Jesus came upon a group of men who were about to stone a woman accused of adultery, he made them pause and think about the morality of what they were doing. We could say he slowed down their thinking and reacting by suggesting, that one who had not sinned should cast the first stone. Another time when he was asked how many times a man should forgive his brother’s wrongs, he refused to give a quick answer, because an answer would have meant that the person asking the question could then stop thinking about it. And the “Golden Rule”, that we should do to others, that we should treat others, as we would like them to treat us, is not only a rule for mental health and mental well being, it is also the best starting point for ethical well being.

It is no accident I believe that this golden rule has equivalents in Buddhism, Islam, and other faiths as well as Judaism and Christianity. Nor do I believe it is an accident that modern psychology at its best comes up with ideas and theories which are in parallel to, and echoes of, some of the deepest wisdom of the Bible and of the teaching, the stories, the parables and the actions of Jesus.

Of course for us the uniqueness of Jesus, was not just his teaching, but his whole way of life and his total giving of himself to and for others. His was a life of integrity, no fake news or alternative truth was there, not even the breaking of an oath in a particular and specific way. His yes was his yes; his no was his no. His authenticity was complete, a guiding light for the kind of ethical well being to which we would all do well to aspire to today.


Prayer: Sophie

Dear Lord

Snow covers our fields and our hills.
The nights are dark and long.
The lanes are icy and we slip and slide at our peril.
The birds are hungry for food.

The earth is sleeping, waiting for spring.
The leaves on the trees are tightly folded.
The small animals of the fields are sleeping.
The snowdrops peek out uncertainly.

The earth is peaceful, waiting for the spring.
Help us to be peaceful and patient as we wait.
Help us to be hopeful as we wait.
We have had a long winter.

In silence we offer our own prayers and thoughts:

Dear Lord, spring will come and the world will awaken,
The green leaves will open into great canopies.
We will be together again with our friends and neighbours,
Help us to treasure our great fortune in these blessings.

Benediction: Chris

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.