Carlops Zoom Service:  Sunday 21 June 2020    


Welcome and lighting of candles (Adam and Galina)


Call to worship (Chris)

Come into the space of truth.

Come into the space where all are loved and valued.

Come together now despite our differences and failings

Come into the place of worship, where all are accepted

Come gather together as confident, beloved people.

Come gather before our God, Creator and protector of us all.



Hymn: Will you come and follow me? (CH4 533)

Will you come and follow me if I but call your name?

Will you go where you don’t know and never be the same?

Will you let my love be shown, will you let my name be known,

will you let my life be grown in you and you in me?


Will you leave yourself behind if I but call your name?

Will you care for cruel and kind and never be the same?

Will you risk the hostile stare, should your life attract or scare?

Will you let me answer prayer in you and you in me?


Will you let the blinded see if I but call your name?

Will you set the prisoners free and never be the same?

Will you kiss the leper clean, and do such as this unseen,

and admit to what I mean in you and you in me?   


Will you love the ‘you’  you hide if I but call your name?

Will you quell the fear inside and never be the same?

Will you use the faith you’ve found to reshape the world around,

through my sight and touch and sound in you and you in me?


Lord, your summons echoes true when you but call my name.

Let me turn and follow you and never be the same.

In your company I’ll go where your love and footsteps show.

Then I’ll move and live and grow in you and you in me.


Bible reading  (Mike)

Matthew 10:  24-39

No pupil ranks above his teacher, no servant above his master. The pupil should be content to share his teacher’s lot, the servant to share his master’s. If the master has been called Beelzebul, how much more his household!

So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing covered up that will not be uncovered, nothing hidden that will not be made known. What I say to you in the dark you must repeat in broad daylight; what you hear whispered you must shout from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body, but cannot kill the soul. Fear him rather who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet without your Father’s knowledge not one of them can fall to the ground. As for you, even the hairs of your head have all been counted. So do not be afraid: you are worth more than any number of sparrows.

Whoever will acknowledge me before others, I will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; and whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.

You must not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. I have come to set a man against his father, a daoughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man will find enemies under his own roof.

No one is worthy of me who cares more for father or mother than for me; no one is worthy of me who cares more for son or daughter ; no one is worthy of me who does not take up his cross and follow me. Whoever gains his life will lose it; whoever loses his life for my sake will gain it.


Reflection (Murray)        

“Blessed are the peacemakers”, said Jesus in his Sermon on the Mount, “for they shall be called the children of God.” In the Monty Python film “The Life of Brian”, listeners on the edge of the crowd are bewildered, thinking that they heard Jesus say “Blessed are the cheesemakers.”  But this beatitude has often been misunderstood in a much more serious and dangerous way. It is certainly true that  Jesus was  no warmonger, disappointing those who expected the Messiah to appear as a military conqueror. John’s gospel records that one of his final messages before his death was a very personal promise of peace to his followers: “Peace is my parting gift to you, my own peace, such as the world cannot give. Set your troubled hearts at rest, and banish your fears.” But peace is not to be sought at any price: Jesus insists that it must be balanced against the requirement of justice. “Blessed are the peacemakers;” but also “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst to see right prevail.”


The great commandment to love our neighbours without reserve and without discrimination inspires us with this hunger and thirst to seek justice for the poor, the marginalised and the oppressed. In this  we are following the example of Jesus, who openly confronted a brutal occupying power and a corrupt religious establishment. It is in this sense that we can understand his  warning “You must not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword”. The sword he refers to is not a physical weapon: his entire ministry was characterised by a revulsion against violence. When he was arrested in the garden of Gethsemane by a mob sent by the religious leaders, one of his followers did indeed draw a sword, but he was immediately rebuked by Jesus. No, the weapon in the hand of Jesus is the sword of justice, cleaving a clear divide between truth and lies, equity and exploitation, generosity and greed. Wielding this sword to carve out a better and fairer world may be risky, but it is the duty to which we are called.


The oppression and discrimination suffered by black and minority ethnic groups in this and many other developed countries has been a blatant injustice for several centuries. Recent events have catalysed a world-wide movement seeking to initiate the drastic legal and societal changes necessary to eradicate this cancer. The christian response to this is self-evident. The call of “no justice, no peace”, which has been used for several decades by  black rights campaigners in the United States,  is clearly derived from the words of Jesus. For too long individual acts of cruelty or racial intolerance have been concealed or ignored; now, in the world of social media and smart phones, “there is nothing covered up that will not be uncovered, nothing hidden that will not be made known.” The American actor Will Smith noted that 

“Racism is not getting worse, it’s getting filmed.”

The exposure of evil is the first step towards its elimination, but the history of the abolition of slavery has shown that sustained campaigns over many years are often required to complete the process. Sometimes a disruptive act, like the overturning by Jesus of the tables of the extortionate money changers in the Jerusalem temple, can send out a powerful symbolic message that injustices long accepted can no longer be tolerated. One such act took place in Bristol two weeks ago, when the statue of the notorious slave master Edward Colston was torn down and thrown into the harbour.

 Vanessa Kisuule, the Bristol City Poet, has powerfully justified this breach of the peace.

“The statue has been repeatedly petitioned against, defaced and denounced as a dark stain on the city’s landscape”, she writes. “Still it stood unchallenged. People got tired with mealy mouthed petitions and lobbying. Those who wish political change to be a soft-footed affair are either naive or all too cushioned by privilege to understand the means of change-makers.”


I am grateful to Gerda for drawing my attention to a wonderful poem written by Vanessa, in which the fall of Colston is celebrated with humour and righteous scorn.  It ends:


    I think of you lying in the harbour
    With the horrors you hosted.
    There is no poem more succinct than that.

    But still you are permanent.
    You who perfected the ratio.
    Blood to sugar to money to bricks.

    Each bougie building we flaunt haunted by bones.
    Children learn and titans sing
    Under the stubborn rust of your name.

    But the air is gently throbbing with newness.
    Can you feel it?

    Colston, I can’t get the sound of you from my head.

    Countless times I passed that plinth,
    Its heavy threat of metal and marble.

    But as you landed, a piece of you fell off, broke away,
    And inside, nothing but air.

    This whole time, you were hollow.


Scotland too has its own history of racism to confront. A few years ago Godfrey Palmer spoke at the Carlops Burns Supper, and as he proposed the toast to the Immortal Memory of Burns he reminded us that the great poet once accepted a job to help manage a slave plantation in the West Indies. In the last few days Godfrey (now Sir Godfrey) has been much involved in the debate over what should be done with the statue of Henry Dundas in Edinburgh St Andrew’s Square. Although that figure, like the statue of Rhodes at Oriel College in Oxford, is solid stone, the broad daylight of historical truth has revealed that these are also hollow men, whose tarnished reputations have to be acknowledged.


“The air is gently throbbing with newness. Can you feel it?” Greta Thunberg, the indefatigable young campaigner for ecological responsibility, was interviewed recently and spoke of sensing a tipping point in human society. “People are beginning to realise that we cannot keep looking away from these things, she said; “we cannot keep sweeping things under the carpet.”

The world-wide convulsion resulting from the Covid19 pandemic has shaken our complacency, and forced a fundamental re-evaluation of the way human beings interact. Our call as Christians is to seize this moment to cast away old prejudices, and to work together with all those who seek a better world in which all people are treated equally, and perfect love has cast out fear.          


Prayer (include brief quiet time)  (Sophie)

Let us pray

Let us pray for the small child who stands alone in the play ground

Let us pray for the young person who is discouraged again and again as they look for work

Let us pray for all those who come to harm because of the colour of their skin

With a few moments of silence we think of those who need a place of safety and comfort:

We say thanks for our peaceful homes where we can rest

We say thanks for our church which is so warm and welcoming to all

We say thanks for the beautiful hillside that we share and the warmth of the summer weather



Closing words and 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.