Carlops Zoom Service:  Sunday 30th August 2020 10am    

Welcome and lighting of candle (Adam and Galina)


Call to worship (Murray)

It is good to give thanks to the Lord;

for his love endures forever;

who made the heavens in wisdom and spread out the earth on the waters;

for his love endures forever; 

He made the sun to rule the day, the moon and the stars to rule the night;

His love endures forever:

he gives food to all humankind :

for his love endures forever;

Give thanks to the God of heaven;

for his love endures forever.


Hymn:  Praise my soul the King of Heaven (CH4 160)

Praise, my soul, the King of heaven;
to his feet thy tribute bring;
ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,
who like me his praise should sing?
Praise him! Praise him! Praise him! Praise him!
Praise the everlasting King.

Praise him for his grace and favour
to our fathers in distress;
praise him, still the same for ever,
slow to chide, and swift to bless:
Praise him! Praise him! Praise him! Praise him!
Glorious in his faithfulness.

Father-like he tends and spares us;
well our feeble frame he knows;
in his hand he gently bears us,
rescues us from all our foes:
Praise him! Praise him! Praise him! Praise him!
widely as his mercy flows.

Frail as summer flower we flourish;
blows the wind and it is gone;
but, while mortals rise and perish,
God endures unchanging on.
Praise him! Praise him! Praise him! Praise him!
Praise the high eternal One.

Angels, help us to adore him;
ye behold him face to face;
sun and moon, bow down before him,
dwellers all in time and space.
Praise him! Praise him! Praise him! Praise him!
Praise with us the God of grace.


Readings (Mike):   Psalm 137, vs. 1-6

By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
There on the poplars we hung our harps,
for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
How can we sing the songs of the Lord while in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem, may my right hand forget its skill.
May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem my highest joy.

                             Matthew 5:  3-10

Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.


Reflection (Chris)         

The land of Israel had been invaded by the Babylonians, most of the population who had valued skills, the writers, the artisans, the musicians, stone workers, were taken as captives back to Babylon and set to work.  Their captors knew something of Jewish culture and taunted them by saying, come on let’s hear some of your famous Hebrew songs, give us some music.  To which the captives found themselves somewhat choked,  how, they asked themselves, can we sing the Lord’s songs in a strange land?

Singing the Lord’s songs in a strange land, is the theme of this reflection. 

Think of refugees and asylum seekers,  fleeing from war, from poverty from persecution or fear.  Many have undertaken  dangerous and frightening journeys, and all who survive, come to live in a strange land.  They have their culture, their traditions , their beliefs.  We know from stories and described experiences something of how difficult it is to come and live in a strange land. Do we expect them to adopt our own culture right away, or do we encourage them to be themselves,  Do we criticise them for maintaining some of their own culture, or encourage and welcome them for the enrichment and variety they bring.  Singing their own songs in a strange land.

A strange land which most if not all of us have experienced is the land of bereavement.   The loss of  a loved partner, a parent, a child, a friend.     Singing the Lord’s songs in that land can be difficult.  I remember vividly as many will, the difficulty of trying to sing hymns, during a time of bereavement.  “Frail as summer flowers we flourish, blows the wind and it is gone, but while mortals rise and perish, God endures unchanging on, Praise Him, Praise Him….  Not easy to sing soon after a funeral.   On a lighter if more juvenile note,  I recall that for two weeks after loss, I stopped recycling my rubbish. The world had done that to me,  so take that, you uncaring world, but  I got over that!    Singing the Lord’s songs in a time of loss is never easy.

And its a strange land we are living in these days in many ways.  Five months ago it was a good thing to travel with other people on public transport;  now it is good to go by car or bike.  Five months ago it was good to meet up with others in restaurants, in pubs, in cinemas in theatres. Not many of us want to do that sort of thing today.  It was lovely to shake hands, share a hug and appreciate the importance of touch in human relationships. In church we sang together, shared the bread and wine of communion, and the peace. Not today we don’t.  Some of us looked down on those who used phones and the internet to conduct conversations and relationships.  Now we sign in to Zoom worship and enjoy the ups and downs of a virtual community gathering.   And as we do our duets or trios with Patsy and Murray on his guitar,  we really are trying to sing the Lord’s songs in a strange land.

And finally, there is something of a Christian tradition, which suggests or reminds us that in one sense we are all strangers here. The way of living to which Jesus calls us is something of an upside down kingdom,  where the common values of the world are somewhat reversed. Where the meek inherit the earth, where the peacemakers, the people who sacrifice for the sake of others, and the poor are the ones who are blessed, who are happy, where the first become last and the last first.  There are parts of a funeral service where we might refer to a calm when this restless life is over and the busy world is hushed.  And that prayer of the ancients which suggests that we only find our rest when we find it eventually in thee.  Or the hymn “We walk by faith as strangers here, but Christ shall call us home.”

My we’ve covered a lot of ground. From the Babylonian exile, to the desperate world of refugees, to the strange land of bereavement, to the upside down worlds of a pandemic, and zoom worship, to the kingdom of the beatitudes, and being strangers in the world but not necessarily of it.

Singing the Lord’s song in a strange land, of the power and meaning of love in every circumstance, remains a challenge and a calling for us all.   Amen


Prayer (include brief quiet time)  (Sophie)


Let us pray


Lord we find ourselves in a strange land

A land where we are much alone

We cannot sit next to each other

Or gather together


In this strange land we

can’t see the smiles of strangers

We wonder if our children should play together

We don’t gather with our neighbours


Help us to care all the more

For one another

Help us to see each other in new ways

That we did not expect


Let us share a moment of silence

So that we can feel that we are together


   * * *


Lord we need our strength in this strange land

And we give thanks that we can walk in our hills

We need meaning and stillness

And we give thanks for our church


Help us to keep travelling

Help us to keep moving forward

Help us to see a better land

Ahead of us




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.