Worship in Carlops Sunday 31st October 2021, 10am

COP26 service

22nd Sunday after Trinity (blended service in Church and on Zoom)

Welcome and lighting of candles         Adam Salter and Galina MacNeacail

Call to worship         Patsy Campbell

Leader: Sing to the Lord a new song;
All: sound your instruments with skill and shout in triumph;
Leader: for the word of the Lord holds true,
All: and all his work endures.
Leader: He is a lover of righteousness and justice;
All: the earth is filled with the Lord’s unfailing love.

Hymn 64               Sing all creation

1. Sing all creation, sing to God in gladness;
joyously serve him, singing hymns of homage,
chanting his praises, come before his presence:
praise the Almighty!

2. Know that our God is Lord of all the ages;
he is our maker; we are all his creatures,
people he fashioned, sheep he leads to pasture:
praise the Almighty!

3. Enter his temple, ringing out his praises;
sing in thanksgiving as you come before him;
blessing his bounty, glorify his greatness:
praise the Almighty!

4. Great in his goodness is the Lord we worship;
steadfast his kindness, love that knows no ending;
faithful his word is, changeless, everlasting:
praise the Almighty!

Reading          Trish Kennedy

Mark 12: 28-34

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbour as oneself,’ – this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask him any question.

Reflection         Murray Campbell

All you need is love

On 25th June 1967, Patsy and I sat in our top floor flat in Edinburgh, and watched a remarkable programme on our small black and with television set. “Our World” was the first live international television production, using the newly available medium of satellite transmission to unite broadcasts from many different studios across the world. The broadcast was seen by more than 400 million viewers in 25 different countries. The final item was the UK contribution: a live performance and recording from EMI studio in London of a specially composed song by the Beatles: “All you need is love.” The song was an immediate world-wide hit, epitomising as it did the flower power movement and the Summer of Love. It was an idealistic, utopian anthem which captured the pacifist, anti-authoritarian spirit of young people at a time of international mistrust and military conflict.

There’s nothing you can know that isn’t known
Nothing you can see that isn’t shown
There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be
It’s easy
All you need is love …

But it wasn’t that easy. Within a few years, the Beatles had broken up after acrimonious disputes. Half a century later, wars still wreak havoc in many countries, and the effects of famine and disease are exaggerated by the casual cruelty of a grossly unfair international order. Singing about love was not enough to change the world.

The idea of love as the guiding principle in a good life was not, of course, invented by John Lennon. In today’s reading from Mark’s Gospel [12: 28-34], a lawyer has a conversation with Jesus, in which he asks which of the many commandments in the Jewish code Jesus considers to be the most important. In his reply, Jesus quotes two rules from the Torah, the Jewish scriptures written many centuries earlier:

You shall love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength;


You shall love your neighbour as yourself.

The lawyer must have known these two rules intimately, but he would have read them in two separate books of the Torah (the first in Deuteronomy [6:4-5] and the second in Leviticus [19:18]). By bringing the two commandments together and elevating them above all other rules, Jesus is establishing an important connection which the lawyer begins to grasp. “You are not far from the kingdom”, Jesus tells him.

“What is this thing called love?” is a question posed in one of the great songs by the American lyricist Cole Porter. It is a question which we must also consider if we are to understand and follow the two commandments of Jesus. Loving our neighbour is relatively straightforward, at least in theory: we have examples in our daily lives of the care and compassion between parent and child, sister and brother, nurse and patient. To remove any doubt as to how far our love should extend, in Luke’s version of the story Jesus provides the parable of the Good Samaritan. When the Samaritan businessman sees the wounded traveller lying in the road, Jesus tells us that “he is moved to pity”. This empathy for a fellow human being is the crucial factor which distinguishes the love in Jesus’s commandments from the bland and unfocused goodwill in John Lennon’s lyric or the romantic intoxication in Cole Porter’s song.

Love, then, is fully expressed in the shared experience, whether of joy or anguish, between human beings, and in the actions which flow from the empathy in that relationship. But how can the same word be used to describe our relationship to God? The awe and wonder that we feel when we contemplate the creator of the universe is well expressed in the hymn by Oliver Wendell Holmes:

Lord of all being, throned afar,
thy glory flames from sun and star,
centre and soul of every sphere …

but then follows the amazing line:

yet to each loving heart how near!

We can love God, because we have learned that God loves us in a way that our human experience can comprehend: the love of a parent for a child. Jesus addressed God as “my Father”, and he taught us to pray to “our Father”. The more that we extend our love and compassion to our fellow human beings, the stronger becomes our understanding of the true wonder of God’s love for all creation, and the deeper our response to God in love. The two great commandments are indeed inseparable.

The relationship between the two commandments is explored in an interesting way in the famous poem “Abou Ben Adhem” by the English Romantic poet Leigh Hunt. The poem describes an imaginary conversation between an 8th century Sufi Muslim mystic and an angel.

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold: —
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
“What writest thou?”—The vision raised its head,
And with a look made of all sweet accord,
Answered, “The names of those who love the Lord.”
“And is mine one?” said Abou. “Nay, not so,”
Replied the angel. Abou spoke more low,
But cheerly still; and said, “I pray thee, then,
Write me as one that loves his fellow men.”

The angel wrote, and vanished. The next night
It came again with a great wakening light,
And showed the names whom love of God had blest,
And lo! Ben Adhem’s name led all the rest.

More than half a century after the Summer of Love, our civilisation is facing even more serious challenges than those of the flower power era, and again a radical young generation is confronting the international power structures with demands for equality and justice. It might seem that love has litle place in these confrontations. An interesting perspective on this was offered recently by Wilson Poon, Professor of Natural Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh, in a talk at the Greyfriars Church Festival of Science, Wisdom and Faith. Wilson discussed the importance of conversations between relatively small groups of people in developing wisdom (as opposed to mere knowledge), in fields as diverse as theology, geology, and the teaching of thermodynamics. He identified the crucial elements in a fruitful conversation as mutual respect and the willingness to explore an opposing viewpoint. Out of such discussions can develop not only unexpected insights, but also the empathy which is at the heart of the neighbourly love commended by Jesus.

Last night at 6pm our church bell rang out, joining cathedrals and churches all over the country in a call for urgent action on climate change. The world wide movement demanding international collaboration to stop the heedless destruction of our environment unites people across all social and religious boundaries. The great commandments of love find urgent expression today in concern for the potential impact of climate change on some of the poorest countries on earth, and determination to provide a more sustainable environment for future generations. “Blessed are the peacemakers”, said Jesus, “for they shall be called the children of God.” Let us hope and pray that the world leaders now meeting in Glasgow will find the opportunities for fruitful and mutually enlightening discussions, and that the outcome will be wise decisions and an increase in international compassion and justice. All we need is love – and wisdom.

Prayer                Chris Levison

God, you call the world into being and hold it in love, your Spirit heals its wounds and renews its life, Jesus shows us your ways and invites us to follow; help us to reject what deceives us, discard what hinders us, and ignore what distracts us, so that with grace and freedom we may share more fully in your eternal life.

Creator God, we give thanks that we have heard the Spirit of God in the freshening crackle of autumn leaves and the rush of water. So we pray for the creation which nourishes and sustains all that lives. Renew in us the sense of its value that we may not squander its riches, or so bend it to our will that we find we have destroyed it.  

God of eternity and God of the present moment; over billions of years our beautiful planet was created from the dust of the universe; over millions of years; life grew in complexity from the dust of the earth; from simple life forms we have developed our creative and destructive powers; till in this present moment we have arrived at a tipping point, a watershed, posing the questions; can we change? Can we grow up? Can we learn to co operate with nature and the environment? Can we restrain our capacity for harm and self destructive greed? Can we truly care for all of life? 

Our prayer for COP 26 and for the future is that we can.

In a moment of silence we remember those close to us and those far away, those who are ill, or bereaved, those with a special place in our hearts, and those who carry great responsibilities for the future………….

We pray today for our newly inducted minister and his family, may he be upheld in his work, and may our linkage prove successful and faithful as we seek to follow the way, the truth and the life of the one we follow.

God of the cloud, God of the storm, sweep into our troubled hearts and ravaged world with the healing touch of your renewal and grace.  And may we be your hands and feet, bringing beauty and justice in your broken world


HYMN 123          God is love: let heaven adore him
                           (Tune: 519 Hyfrydol)

1. God is love: let heaven adore him;
God is love: let earth rejoice;
let creation sing before him,
and exalt him with one voice.
He who laid the earth’s foundation,
he who spread the heavens above,
he who breathes through all creation:
God is love, eternal love.

2. God is love, and is enfolding
all the world in one embrace;
with unfailing grasp is holding
every child of every race.
And when human hearts are breaking
under sorrow’s iron rod,
then they find that self-same aching
deep within the heart of God.

3. God is love: and though with blindness
sin afflicts the souls of all,
God’s eternal loving-kindness
holds and guides us when we fall.
Sin and death and hell shall never
O’er us final triumph gain;
God is love, so Love forever
o’er the universe must reign.

Benediction         Patsy Campbell

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.