Worship in Carlops Sunday 9th January 2022 10am


Welcome and lighting of candles     Adam Salter and Galina MacNeacail

Opening Prayer                                 Kevin Scott

Loving God,
We enter Your gates with thanksgiving and Your courts with praise.
This is the day that You have made; we rejoice and are glad in it.
For You O Lord, are God – and Your love endures for ever,
Your faithfulness continues through all generations.
Today, we recognise how connected You are with us and how connected we are with You.
We praise You, Almighty God, for You set the times and seasons.
This is a new month – a new year;
It is a new beginning,
And You remain God in charge of Your world.
Blessed be Your holy name for ever and ever
through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.


Hymn 191            Do not be afraid


              Do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you.

              I have called you by your name; you are mine.


  1.        When you walk through the waters I’ll be with you,

              you will never sink beneath the waves.


  1.        When the fire is burning all around you,

              you will never be consumed by the flames.


  1.        When the fear of loneliness is looming,

              then remember I am at your side.


  1.        When you dwell in the exile of the stranger,

              remember you are precious in my eyes.


  1.        You are mine, O my child; I am your Father,

              and I love you with a perfect love.


Readings          Murray Campbell


Isaiah 43: 1-7

But now, this is what the Lord says – he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel: “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead. Since you are precious and honoured in my sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west. I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’ and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’ Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”


Luke 3: 15-17, 21-22

The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”


Hymn 485:       Dear Lord and Father of mankind


1.       Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
          forgive our foolish ways;
          reclothe us in our rightful mind;
          in purer lives our service find,
          in deeper reverence, praise.

2.       In simple trust like those who heard,
          beside the Syrian sea,
          the gracious calling of the Lord,
          let us, like them, without a word
          rise up and follow thee.

3.       O Sabbath rest by Galilee!
          O calm of hills above,
          where Jesus knelt to share with thee
          the silence of eternity,
          interpreted by love!

4.       With that deep hush subduing all
          our words and works that drown
          the tender whisper of thy call,
          as noiseless let thy blessing fall
          as fell thy manna down.

5.       Drop thy still dews of quietness,
          till all our strivings cease;
          take from our souls the strain and stress,
          and let our ordered lives confess
          the beauty of thy peace.

6.       Breathe through the heats of our desire
          thy coolness and thy balm;
          let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
          speak through the earthquake, wind and fire,
          O still small voice of calm!


Reflection         Kevin Scott


I feel that as we’re only 9 days into January that I can reflect that we still stand at the start of 2022 – that the year lies out ahead of us.


I wonder how that thought speaks to us this year?


For myself – I know that in the past I’d have been very positive at this point in January – with lots of possibilities lying in front of me – lots of potential – lots of positive things waiting to happen – some that I might already have in the diary – or Susan would have in the diary – Susan keeps our diary – things that I’d already be planning for – looking forward to – be excited about – and some that I knew that would just happily surprise me when they happened.


But after the last couple of years we’ve had?


From a practical point of view – at the moment it’s still probably a bit difficult to plan ahead – to arrange things with any great degree of certainty. There’s a nagging seam of thought that can run through my head saying: but what’s going to happen next – next week – next month?


What will the impact of the next COVID variant be?


Am I a little bit more cautious than I was about what I’m going to do – what I’m prepared to plan?


And in all this am I maybe allowing myself to feel a little fearful – has the insidious nature of our multiple lockdowns – the varying levels of restrictions – my understanding of the effects of COVID – combined to lead me to lean towards making insulating – more ‘fearful’ decisions about how I live my life?


These would all be quite natural things to feel – because the past two years have been tough – isolating – uncertain – disturbing – disruptive – just tough.


So I feel myself thinking – that it’s a New Year – and I’ve got lots to be positive about – and I have – but gosh – I’m just not really feeling the fullness of that. And it’s not that I’m negative – I’m just not feeling as positive as I know I should be.


But I did feel that within our two passages today – and while preparing this reflection – that God was encouraging me – and us hopefully – not to allow the weight of recent history to draw us away from how we should be approaching the coming year.


I felt myself being drawn back to the simple fundamentals of my faith – being reminded who God is – what God has done for me – and what God continues to do for me – today – and tomorrow – and the next day.


In our passage from Isaiah we are reminded that we are not alone – in anything we do – in any situation we find ourselves – we are not alone.


Reading from Verse 1 to Verse 3 – and here from The Message version:


“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.

    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.

When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.

    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.

When you’re between a rock and a hard place,

    it won’t be a dead end—

Because I am God, your personal God,

    The Holy of Israel, your Saviour.


The Message can be a bit American for me at times – although I’ve nothing against Americans! – but sometimes – as I feel it does here – it’s plainer language can just cut through to the simple truth.


The words we find here are words of comfort and assurance – with God confirming – that we are called by name – that we are His. When it feels to us like we’re being submerged – God is there with us – we will not sink – and when the way ahead appears uncertain to us – there will be a path through –


Because I am God, your personal God,

The Holy of Israel, your Saviour!


So at the start of this New Year – we are assured that despite any lingering uncertainty we may feel – the ‘what ifs’ – the ‘I’m just not sure about this’ – we are assured – that we do not face any of it – absolutely any of it – alone.


We can step – stride even – into this New Year – in the confident assurance of the strength and presence of God in our lives.


In our passage from Luke’s gospel we hear of the baptism of Jesus. Baptism itself signifies a fresh – new beginning – an act of initiation – a new start. Here we also see baptism as an affirmation of the relationship between God and humanity – Jesus was baptised alongside many others – ordinary people – just like you and me – in the same water – by the same person – John baptised them all.


At the beginning of the passage Luke tells us the people were filled with anticipation. They were seeking – searching – casting their eyes and thoughts – hopefully but uncertainly – forward – longing for the Messiah – their saviour. John provides them with hope in his witness of who is to come and what the Messiah will bring.


At Verse 16:


John answered them all, “I baptise you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 


We are all – as Christians – baptised into the God in whose name we are called – and in this we are gifted the ‘living’ presence of the Holy Spirit.


And as we  heard – in Isaiah 43 – it is through and in this same God that we are created – redeemed – and called for the same purpose – for God’s glory – and that God is with us.


There are just no aspects or seasons of our lives where God is not present or in control.


In this vein I came across a quotation this week – from Abraham Kuyper – theologian – journalist – and former Prime Minister of The Netherlands.


There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ – who is sovereign over all – does not cry: ‘Mine!’


There is not a square inch in the whole domain of MY life over which Christ – who is sovereign over all – does not cry: ‘Mine!’


There is not a square inch in the whole domain of YOUR lives over which Christ – who is sovereign over all – does not cry: ‘Mine!’


In the past I’ve shared with you that I run – a bit – for fun – or I used to. I picked up a minor injury at the start of the first lockdown and haven’t really run much since – I was only out about a dozen times last year.


But this year it’s going to be different!


So I went out – with the support and encouragement of some friends – on the 1st and ran about 6 miles – and wanting to keep things going I went out again on Tuesday evening for a shorter run – of about 2.5 miles.


It’s not any sort of fun at the moment – it’s sore – sore legs – not enough puff – but mostly sore legs – very stiff – very sore legs.


I was about 1.5 miles into the run on Tuesday – and I can assure you I wasn’t thinking about preparing for today at all – all I was thinking about were my very sore legs – and the thought entered my head – that because of the way I was feeling – my very sore legs – there was no way I could physically run any faster – just not possible – even – I thought if there was something particularly horrible and scary snapping at my heels.


But almost as soon as I’d captured that thought – I found a further ‘voice’ inside my head saying:


“But what if you had Jesus running alongside you – Jesus – maybe just a stride or half a stride ahead of you – ‘pulling’ you along – could you run faster then?”


I pulled a face!


Because I knew what the correct answer was – obviously a resounding – YES – of course I would run faster with Jesus!


But I answered – inside my head – with a quiet – maybe?


And as soon – literally as soon – as I’d captured that thought – the voice in my head was saying –


Well he is – Jesus is actually running alongside you right now!


There is not a square inch in the whole domain of your life over which Christ – who is sovereign over all – does not cry: ‘Mine!’


Unarguable – really.


And the answer – of course – was that of course I could run faster – it would have hurt more – and I don’t know how long I could have sustained it – but I could have chosen to believe – to believe that Jesus was with me – and that with Jesus – I could overcome the challenge of my tired – stiff – and very sore legs.


This is a small – and I accept fairly trivial example – but it was this week – and God met me on that 2.5 mile run – to remind me that in Him and with Him I am an overcomer.


And if God can be with me on a 2.5 mile evening run in the dark in West Linton – would I not choose to believe that God will be with me in those more significant challenges that may lie ahead of me the year to come.


God is present in our lives – God – Jesus – Holy Spirit – three in one – present in our lives.


God is present in our lives – present – not because we are worthy – but because we are precious – each one of us – in God’s eyes.


God is present in our lives – present in the small things – and present in the big things – present in the easy things – and present in the difficult things – present today – and present tomorrow.


God is present in our lives – and at the start of this New Year – we are assured that we do not face any of it – absolutely any of it – alone.


We can stride confidently into this New Year – in the assurance of the strength – the presence – and the love of God – in each square inch – of each of our lives.




Prayer            Nan Buchan

We pray this morning for all those affected by the new omicron variant. Those who are ill with the virus. Those working in the NHS, in the care and cleansing services, transport, education, and hospitality who are stretched to their limit by the absence of colleagues.
We pray for those living where no vaccines or drugs are available to lessen the impact of the virus.
We pray for those who cannot afford the cost of heating or sufficient food.
We ask that those in authority take decisions with compassion and wisdom.

Help us to live in hope, not fear, in love, not cynicism, in resolution, not despair and as we attempt to do this, we ask for your blessing on us all.

And we pray now to you in silence.

Father – We have so much to thank you for-
We thank you for food – Help us to remember the hungry.

We thank you for health – Help us to remember
the sick and all those without the care they need.

We thank you for friends and family –
Help us to remember those who are friendless and lonely.

We thank you for homes and warmth –
Help us to remember the homeless and migrants across the world.

We thank you for the beauty all around us –
Help us to remember those who live in deprived and often ugly surroundings.

We thank you for freedom –
Help us to remember those enslaved and silenced.

We ask all this in Your name.



Hymn 1183 (Mission Praise):     Holy Spirit, living Breath of God

1.       Holy Spirit, living Breath of God,
          breathe new life into my willing soul.
          Bring the presence of the risen Lord
          to renew my heart and make me whole.
          Cause Your word to come alive in me;
          give me faith for what I cannot see;
          give me passion for Your purity;
          Holy Spirit, breathe new life in me.

2.       Holy Spirit, come abide within,
          may Your joy be seen in all I do.
          Love enough to cover every sin
          in each thought and deed and attitude:
          kindness to the greatest and the least,
          gentleness that sows the path of peace.
          Turn my striving into works of grace;
          Breath of God, show Christ in all I do.

3.       Holy Spirit, from creation’s birth,
          giving life to all that God has made.
          Show Your power once again on earth;
          cause Your church to hunger for Your ways.
          Let the fragrance of our prayers arise;
          lead us on the road of sacrifice,
          that in unity the face of Christ
          may be clear for all the world to see.

Blesssing               Kevin Scott

May the blessed presence of God fill our hearts with the assurance of God’s love.
May the gracious arms of Jesus Christ embrace us as part of the community of believers.
May the Holy Spirit baptise us afresh and lead us confidently into newness of life.
And may we always live in trust, knowing that we are God’s always and forever.

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.