CARLOPS   28th February 2021   Second Sunday in Lent  

(via zoom)





Leader:            We offer our prayer and our praise to God, to whom darkness and light are

both alike, asking for grace to find his presence in the hidden corners of our world                         

ALL:                For the Lord is my shepherd;  I lack for nothing.


Leader:            From God who made us and re-makes us every day, we seek the courage to speak

his truth          

ALL:                He restores my soul, and leads me in the paths of righteousness.


Leader:            Made in his image, may our words and our actions be a source of hope and liberty for


ALL:                Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.            


HYMN   97      O God, you search me and you know me


O God, you search me and you know me.

All my thoughts lie open to your gaze.

When I walk or lie down you are before me:

ever the maker and keeper of my days.


You know my resting and my rising.

You discern my purpose from afar,

and with love everlasting you besiege me:

in every moment of life or death, you are.


Before a word is on my tongue, Lord,

you have known its meaning through and through.

You are with me beyond my understanding:

God of my present, my past and future, too.


Although your Spirit is upon me,

still I search for shelter from your light.

There is nowhere on earth I can escape you:

even the darkness is radiant in your sight.


For you created me and shaped me,

gave me life within my mother’s womb.

For the wonder of who I am, I praise you:

safe in your hands, all creation is made new.


READING        Gavin

St Mark 8. 31 –  38   

He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”                               


REFLECTION            Nancy

Second Sunday in Lent    

Such a curious sounding word:  palimpsest.  Not an entirely ‘tripping-off-the-tongue’ word, but a fascinating one nonetheless.

My first encounter with it was in a brochure describing an art class – starting from a blank sheet, and building up an image – layer upon layer of words and drawing, and textures, and colours – to create a  three-dimensional, layered, vertical history of enquiry and experimentation.

Palimpsest surfaced again, this time in the hands of Alexander McCall Smith – by which he meant the essence of his beloved city Edinburgh, re-discovering it as A Place of Beauty (the book’s title) – scratching the surface of Edinburgh’s public facades, in order to peel away its layers, digging down the way, to see how the city came to be what it is, to find out why what was there was there, and how it grew, where nothing was extraneous, where everything has its story to tell – the backyards, the forgotten corners, the private domains. 

And yesterday I bumped into it again – the Brazilian author and theologian Rubem Alves using the concept of palimpsest to describe us human beings – what and who we are, although not necessarily visible, and certainly not what you might see at first glance.

There is always so much more to see, than can be seen – so much that we miss even just below the surface, by sometimes not bothering to see.

In her poem entitled Cabbages, the poet Teresa Hooley has caught something of this exploration of layers – she declares that if God were as ungenerous as man is, and had intended that cabbages were meant only as food for cows, the cabbages wouldn’t have been made so beautifully – but he has made them beautiful: leaves  curving over each other, stems and veins branching out, and a divine fashioning with misty blues and gold, gallant red and soft purple amid the green.                          

I want to suggest that this season of Lent is a palimpsest:  full of layers.  And in our journeying, we discover far more than we might expect – and perhaps even more than we would have wanted to know. 

Lent is a bit like the old Scottish communion seasons – a period of additional devotion, and of reflection on the great mysteries of life and faith.  As such, Lent is also a time for depth – and for digging down to the deep foundations from which our lives, and our faith, are secured and nourished.

The reading for today, from the 8th chapter of Mark’s gospel, is introduced by what appears to be such an innocuous statement:  ‘and he began to teach them’.  But those six little words are the hinge upon which opens an entire change of direction, a wholly new and distinct depth and revelation of meaning and purpose in the ministry of Jesus – a shift in emphasis, for which his disciples were not prepared.

They had thought they understood everything, having dropped everything – boats, nets, homes, families – to follow their friend.   Their new discipleship was shaping them, motivating them, and they were learning, as Jesus taught them, preaching in parables, and by example, healing the ill and the be-devilled.  It was such an absorbing new perspective and direction for their lives.  Together they had encountered some occasions of opposition, and suspicion, but not enough to deter them.  There was so much good to be done, and they must have anticipated that their work, alongside Jesus, would continue well into the future.   There is every reason to forgive them for not being able to grasp a truth they never thought to confront.   This, Jesus’ first prediction of a cross, and of cross-bearing, caught them entirely off guard:  as he tells his disciples that he must suffer, be rejected, be killed, and be raised again.

There was no mistake.  What he told them was told plainly, and the language was intense and strong.

But it was also clear that the way of the cross was meant not only for Jesus, but for the twelve as well, and not only for the twelve, but for the multitude of followers.   ‘Whoever would save his life will lose it, and whoever would lose his life for my sake would gain it’, he said.  The promise of resurrection was there, but not without the cross.  Not for nothing is Mark’s gospel often referred to as the Good Friday Gospel.


Lent as a palimpsest – one of many ways to lead us into, and through, this most sacred of seasons, this most holy of journeys.

But if we might be tempted to think that delving down to the foundations of our faith is a narrowing of our perspective, we should think again.  If our Lenten discoveries reveal anything, it is that we are all part of something vastly greater than ourselves – that what sustains us, and what unfolds before us, bit by bit, is nothing less than cosmic in its scale:  and that is the love of God, the depth and breadth of which knows no bounds;  the same love that brought into being   earth and seas and stars and humankind, that breathed light and life into everything;  a love against which superhuman powers cannot prevail, nor peril nor danger, nor things present, nor things to come.

Nothing, in all creation, can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.



PRAYER                    Mary   

In the first verse of Hymn 716

we find an encouraging Lenten invitation …


Come and find the quiet centre

in the crowded life we lead.

Find the room for hope to enter,

find the space where we are freed:

clear the chaos and the clutter,

clear our eyes, so we can see

all the things that really matter.

and be at peace, simply be.


Loving Father,

despite the encouraging words of that hymn

we tend to travel lightly with you

even as we journey through the season of Lent.


We don’t reject your invitation

we just set it aside intending, with good intention,

to come back to it later.

And there it waits.

And yet, in every excuse we can hear your compassion,

recognise your grace, always calling, inviting, waiting,

longing for us to enjoy the gifts you offer so generously.


We see glimpses of your love in other people:

some who have cared for us,

and some for whom we must do the caring;

but nowhere has your love been seen more clearly

than in Jesus Christ your Son:

in his living and his dying,

and in his presence with us still.


He, too, had love at the very centre of his being;
everything he said and did had love at its core.

Such intensity of goodness puts us to shame;
such concentration of love can make us fearful.

We may betray and deny the one we most want to serve;
yet still he holds us in love;
still he trusts us to love as we are loved.


One thing only he asked of us,
that we love one another.

So here we lay down the hurts we bring

that limit us and the well-being of others.


We lay down the things we’ve said

that have affected our relationships,

reduced them, made then more fragile.


In silence now we offer our prayers

for those near and dear to us

that they too will find solace and strength

in your love.


Let us be open to a love that calls us, every day;

a love which can renew us, heal us and

transform us to be the people you long for us to be.



HYMN 560      Jesus, the very thought of thee         


Jesus, the very thought of thee

with sweetness fills my breast;

but sweeter far thy face to see,

and in thy presence rest.


Nor voice can sing, nor heart can frame,

nor can the memory find

a sweeter sound than thy blest name,

Saviour of humankind!


O hope of every contrite heart,

O joy of all the meek,

to those who fall how kind thou art!

how good to those who seek!


But what to those who find? Ah, this

nor tongue nor pen can show;

the love of Jesus, what it is

none but his loved ones know.


Jesus, our only joy be thou,

as thou our prize wilt be;

Jesus, be thou our glory now,

and through eternity.





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