Carlops Online Worship 7 March 2021


Lighting of candles

Call to worship:

As we come from different places

We celebrate our unity in spirit

As we honour the God who made us

We celebrate his image in each one of us

As we try to understand what is being asked of us

We celebrate the teaching, the way and the life of Jesus.



Hymn 238: Lord, bring the day to pass

Lord, bring the day to pass

when forest, rock, and hill,

the beasts, the birds, the grass,

will know your finished will:

when we attain our destiny

and nature lives in harmony.


Forgive our careless use

of water, ore, and soil –

the plenty we abuse

supplied by others’ toil:

save us from making self our creed,

turn us towards each other’s need.


Help us, when we release

creation’s secret powers,

to harness them for peace,

our children’s peace, and ours:

teach us the art of mastering

in servant form, like Christ our King.


Creation groans, travails,

futile its present plight,

bound – till the hour it hails

God’s children born of light:

that we may gain our true estate,

come, Lord, new heavens and earth create.


Readings:           Gill

Acts 9:  1 – 9.

 Meanwhile, Saul was still breathing out murderous threats against the Lord’s disciples. He went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any there who belonged to the Way, whether men or women, he might take them as prisoners to Jerusalem. As he neared Damascus on his journey, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”  “Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked. “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied. “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” The men traveling with Saul stood there speechless; they heard the sound but did not see anyone. Saul got up from the ground, but when he opened his eyes he could see nothing. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. For three days he was blind, and did not eat or drink anything.

Luke  4:  14 – 30

Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside. He was teaching in their synagogues, and everyone praised him.

He went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written:

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.

Jesus said to them, “Surely you will quote this proverb to me: ‘Physician, heal yourself!’ And you will tell me, ‘Do here in your home town what we have heard that you did in Capernaum.’”

“Truly I tell you,” he continued, “no prophet is accepted in his home town. I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed – only Naaman the Syrian.”

All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But he walked right through the crowd and went on his way.


Reflection           Chris

Eureka Moments 

Eureka moments are flashes or moments of usually sudden insight, when something half understood, comes clearly into view, and changes things quite profoundly. In Biblical terms, a eureka moment in the New Testament is the sudden conversion of Paul, from being Saul, a major persecutor of the new Christian Jewish sect, into Paul, who quite suddenly became its leading proponent. That against which he had been fighting and arguing so forcefully, suddenly fell into place and became the total centre of his life and being.


In a somewhat less dramatic sphere, I want to mention a couple of quasi Eureka moments which have come to or happened to me over the last few years, and which have affected my own thinking and understanding.  Yes, and have altered or confirmed or deepened my search to understand the meaning of faith in the contemporary world.


The first was when I came across, and was blown away by, some writing and thinking of Karl Sagan, a scientist and philosopher concerning the Voyager space craft. This scientific marvel after years of travel was leaving our solar system and heading through the Milky Way galaxy. Before it disappeared from all contact, the scientists controlling it managed to turn the satellite around and take a photograph of what it was leaving behind, and there in a snap shot of the vastness of a small part of the universe, was a myriad of stars and planets, mere specks in the huge blackness of space. And one tiny dot, which Sagan called the pale blue dot, was planet earth.  His commentary, which can be found on the internet, notes the apparent insignificance of our tiny planet, comments on the arrogance of human beings, political leaders, and institutions of all kinds, in the ways we have trashed our beautiful world, mistreated each other, and failed to appreciate or look after our environment, the animals, the plants, the air, the water. He points us to the richness of family life, of love and of children, and warns us, that, as a species, it is time to put our world in order before it is too late, and that in the end of the day, our future will depend on our capacity for kindness and our willingness to care for and accept responsibility for our world, its life and its people.      Powerful stuff, and for me, something of a Eureka Moment.


The second was more recent but for me seemed also both profound and dramatic.  It’s been said several times but its logical consequences are far reaching if not yet fully understood.  It concerns the global pandemic and the solution, the escape or the road out of the present world-wide problem. It is the seemingly innocuous and common sense statement that until the whole world is safe, no one is safe. Or that none of us is safe until the whole world is safe.  In practical terms this means that in truth, we are all in this together, not just on the lips of politicians whose actions and behaviour would at times seem to contradict that truth.  In practical terms it means that unless all the world over are vaccinated, the constantly developing variants of the virus will continue to put us all at risk.  In order to look after and keep ourselves safe, it is absolutely necessary that we look after everyone.  In order to save ourselves, we have to save everyone.


There is no room for elites, there is no sense in there being haves and have nots, there are no elect groups who can escape being affected, no tribe, no nation, no religion, no philosophy, no political system, no accumulation of wealth, there is nothing in the world which can keep us separate from or inoculate us from the reality of the unity of our need and our responsibility to care for each other.  (If such phraseology reminds you of a certain biblical passage – no surprises)

I think there is something of a world changing moment here is there not?  Another eureka moment.


The Karl Sagan picture underlines a profound change in humanity’s view of itself, since the early days of the Church.  In the early centuries of our era, we were unsure as to whether the earth was flat, we thought that heaven was up there and hell was somewhere down. We were quite certain that our world was at the centre of everything, space and the stars, and that we, that is, humanity, had a special god given right to be in control. Nature, the weather, wild animals, opposing tribes and peoples were a danger to us.  Now it is clear that we are the danger to nature, to the climate to the precious and necessary biodiversity of our world. Our thinking, our behaviour, yes even our faith and our theology have to take all this into account. If we do not then there is a danger that we may become totally irrelevant, a museum piece of how people used to think and what people used to believe.


The insights of our response to the pandemic I think are truly helpful. They are underlining our mutual dependence on each other, they are saying to us in a very practical way, what many have been trying to say but have often not been heard.   That despite our differences of culture, of politics, of colour, of religion, the time has truly come to accept and celebrate our diversity as part of the richness of humanity, and to accept our need to act and behave as responsible adults, caring for all, and not forcing our world view onto other people. Of course there remain differences and disagreements, but our common humanity, and our common responsibility in the present world, and for the future, are actually more important than these differences.  


And if our faith and theology have to develop in such lines in order to be meaningful, then so be it.

I find this challenging, as I’m sure some of you will. 

And when thinking about biblical insight and wisdom into the difficulty of changing a world view and its consequences, I thought of the time when Jesus, following another eureka moment, told his listeners of the times when God’s favour and healing did not go to the home team, but was experienced by people outside the inner circle of the religiously elect. (The widow of Zarephath and Naaman the Syrian,) He was not well received.  Changing world views is usually both hard and problematic.  Eureka moments, can be difficult but are undeniably stimulating.



Prayer                 Julie


Let us pray

Dear Lord we come to worship you today with sincerity and a knowledge of your power.

You changed the heart of Saul in a moment, what could be beyond your reach? Help us to remember to bring all our cares to you, all our hopes for others and for our fragile Earth.

We know you hear our prayers whether they are silent or shouted.

God, as we hear talk everywhere of a hoped-for return to normality we pray that it will happen smoothly and that the country can heal and move forward together. We are thankful for the hope this brings as our horizons broaden and we imagine seeing the faces we have missed and perhaps the babies we have only seen on video or in photos.

Lord we are so thankful that Spring is here, thank you for the joy it brings to see the snowdrops and know that other treasures will soon be in bloom. We too are like the bulbs, hidden away over the long winter, about to emerge into the ever lengthening days. Let us look to you for life as the flowers look to the sun and rain.

Dear Lord we bring our prayers for others to you now. Please ease the suffering of those who are mourning a loss. Strengthen those who are in captivity, or under threat of violence. Give courage to those who are fleeing to safety and grant them safe passage. Shore up the hearts of our frontline workers. Ease racial tensions and remove prejudice wherever it resides.

If we can be your helpers in any of these things we pray for wisdom to do it well.

Let us bring our own thoughts to you now in a moment of reflection.

Lord, we pray that we will remember your power and your gifts to us during the coming week and that we will speak to you often.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.


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.