15 September 2019 




Call to worship    

Come, let us bow down and worship him;
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!

He is our God;
we are the people he cares for,
the flock for which he provides.
(Psalm 95 v 6-7)

Hymn 270          Put all your trust in God


Loving God,
here we are united in our love for you.

All our faults and failings
are known to you,
the ones everyone sees and the ones we hide.

Sometimes we judge others harshly
and are often blind to our own faults;
quick to look for praise and recognition
yet slow to acknowledge the work of others.

Do we sometimes remain silent
rather than speak words of encouragement?

We’re sorry for the times we forgot
to be compassionate
with people we disagreed with;
sorry for the times
we chose to speak or act
in ways that were not loving.

As we hope to be forgiven, O Lord,
teach us also to forgive,
and help us, by our deeds and actions,
to show love, one for another.

We come from different places,
with different ideas, different beliefs,
different political views,
but we are united in our love for you.

As the world around us continues to change,
help us to remain united in our common faith and love.

Keep us focussed on your call to love our neighbour,
no matter who they are or what they believe.

Give us grace, O Lord, to meet them where they are
and to offer our love and support each new day.

All this we ask in Jesus name.   Amen

Continue this prayer singing ……….

Hymn 803 We will walk with God my brother

 Weathering the storm (1)

 Our theme this morning comes from a service delivered in 2014 just as the result of Scotland’s independence referendum was declared.   

We remember that arguments for and against independence had been the elephant in the room for many families and friends during the campaigning years.  That topic which was live in all aspects of daily life yet risky to speak of.  Month by month, as we approached the date of the election the tenor of the debate became more vociferous and aggressive, more divisive. 

Post referendum, the question wasn’t only “Would Scotland eventually find herself in a better or worse position in her history?  More importantly, could the people of Scotland accept the verdict and move forward in grace?

We all know that moving on requires trust and integrity, leadership and responsibility.  Easy to say but how to achieve it?  Moving on requires confidence in our own ability and in the goodness of God, a confidence that we can move forward productively, facing whatever trials may come.  Times have been choppy, but we were making a fair fist of it when along came the Brexit referendum and more challenge and chaos!   Thus far we are still puzzled and anxious about our future. 

When seized with such anxiety, and something like despair at the apparent falling apart of so many aspects of public life, I find this brief reflection from Thom Shulman encouraging.  He offers it as a ‘nudge’ to our thinking prompted by his reading of Psalm 95. 

Over the bile of the radio/TV bullies
may we begin to hear hope;
turning down the rhetoric of bellicose politicians,
may we sense hints of peace;
refusing to listen to anger’s enticing ads,
may we hear love,
and then speak with our lives|
(Psalm 95:7b)

 These words which apply whichever side of Brexit or Independence debates we support.  A timely prompt to remember God’s power to equip us as his agents!

As we move to our next hymn, written by Rev Dr Ian Masson Fraser one of the founders of the Iona Community, I offer two snapshots from his obituary in The Herald 18 April 2018.   On his 100th birthday – still a man for our times!

An interview for The Herald Magazine cast him mischievously
as a character from a Le Carre novel. He smiled, because he’d
always aspired to be an agent of God.

“You must see yourself as an agent,” he said. “All kinds of
 leaders are mentioned in Ephesians. The minister isn’t the
be all and end all.” A precept he followed from Forres to Fife, from Poland to Guatemala through 95 countries.

He was a man of a variety of ideas but one guiding principle: that of empowering the church from below, that is empowering the congregation.

Three of his hymns are in our hymnbook – 238 on stewardship of the earth, 583 Like fireworks in the night, the Holy Spirit came, and our next hymn ………

Hymn        361            Forgiveness is your gift both cleansing and renewing

In the book of Genesis we find many familiar stories, telling the history of the early Israelites.  Today we’ll focus on Joseph the youngest of twelve sons of Jacob; sons who would become the founders of the twelve tribes of Israel.  A story where we find Joseph recently sold by his brothers into slavery in Egypt.

Reading             Genesis 39: 1-23

Weathering the storm (2)

This is remarkable story.  It’s a tale of trust and lust, enticement and exploitation with a lot of integrity and revenge thrown in.  It echoes a tale as old as time, of power being abused for a moment’s pleasure, of reputation being trashed to cover tracks of deceit and lies. And, of course, the theme of God’s favour resting on the one wronged.

Some parallels can be drawn between this story and the story of Solomon Northup (recounted in the book and film, “12 Years A Slave”), a free and innocent man from New England who is kidnapped and thrown into slavery in the American deep South where he remains for twelve years before rescue.

Joseph also remembers a past in which he wasn’t a slave but lived in a privileged position.  Did that memory give him the confidence to move sure-footedly beyond the impossible situation in which he found himself?

This is the child, now grown, who shared his dreams of greatness much to the chagrin of his brothers.

This is the child, now a man, favoured and protected by his father.

This is the young man, now matured, who was sold by his jealous brothers into slavery.

Injustice, suspicion and envy have been familiar refrains in his life.

Were the tenets of God, on which he was raised, so well ingrained in him that instinct kicked in, preserving him from giving in to the temptation before him?

Joseph’s time in prison after rejecting the advances of Potiphar’s wife surprisingly placed him in another position of privilege and trust.  So, he didn’t end up at the bottom of the heap as might have been expected in the light of such allegations and Potiphar’s wrath.

It is a remarkable story but what is its relevance for us?
We might ask ourselves –

What are the things that tempt us and lead us astray?
What are the important things in our lives?
Who are the important people in our lives?

In the beginnings of a new future,
for all of us who will we turn to
for leadership and example?
Who will show us the way?

Like Joseph locked in his cell
we can turn to God and put our trust in Him.
And so in every new dawn we can turn to God,
to show us who and what we are shaped to be.


Might we think that we are in the most challenging and chaotic times of our lives, or might we accept that the more we know about what is happening in our world adds to our confusion without necessarily helping us make decisions.

Could it be that improved education, welfare and access to information/news allow us to pay more attention than previous generations to what is going on around us locally, nationally and internationally?

Does our present situation lead us to believe we can and should be doing something to reduce the chaos or should we just hunker down and keep our selves afloat as best we can? 

How willing are we to recognise opportunities for action?  If desirable change would be against our personal interest can we still be good neighbours?

None of us is assured of an easy passage in life but we are assured of the presence of God with us.  Let’s not under-estimate the capacity of His presence to smooth troubled waters.  Ask yourself – whether Brexit or not, whether Independence or not – at the deepest level what will actually change in the life you live each day?   If we are willing our resilience will be nourished by the presence and peace of God in our lives.

Moving on, however, requires us to adapt the tenets of our faith to an ever changing landscape, taking ancient wisdom and allowing it to speak into new situations, to see potential and to grasp opportunities, refusing to be side tracked by deceit and lies but maintaining confidence in a God who has seen it all before and goes on loving all of us into fullness of life.

In conclusion I offer some lines from The Gift of Wonder by Christine Aroney-Sine

Let your life speak

Let God’s love speak to us,
of the wonder of who we are,
the beauty of who we are created to be.

Let God’s love speak to us
of loyalty and generosity
and compassion,
of tenderness and caring and trust.

Let God’s love speak to us
of fun and fellowship,
and what it means
to be a child of the living God.

Let it remind us that
God’s love is wide and deep,
so all embracing
that nothing can separate us from it.

Hymn 170          Praise and thanksgiving let everyone bring


Gracious God,
gives us confidence to use our time and our talents
in your service.

Be with us as we try to do what is right.
Use us as agents of your love.
Use our time, our skills, our resources
to help create a community of grace.  Amen


Loving God,
we thank you for free will, for the opportunity to choose,
but keep us tuned to the responsibility that free will brings.

We think of the people
who are denied the right to vote
and those who don’t enjoy freedoms as we do.

We pray for those
who are caught up in modern day slavery,
and who see no hope of freedom or of change any time soon.

We pray for all those around us
who, like us, need reminding
of the brightness of your love for them;
who need to be dazzled by your smile,
and cradled in your concern
until they can stand again on firm ground
ready to step out in faith
remembering that you walk with them every step of the way.

Lord, help us to look at others
and see not just potential
but the greatness that you see
and teach us how to encourage them.

We offer our mediocrity for you to make amazing,
our stumbling for you to make sure footed
and our hesitation for you to make us confident.

Loving God, we bring before you in a moment’s silence
those people known to us who need your help today;
The lost and the lonely,
those who are anxious and those who grieve.

Gracious God, hear our prayers.
Give us strength and courage to heed your answers
and to act upon them.            Amen.


Hymn 247       

Moved by the Gospel,
let us move with every gift and art.


Living Lord,
with all the simple gifts that you transform in us
we go into the world to serve you.

Guide us in your footsteps,
confident that whatever challenges we may face,
You will help us face them.

May the grace of Christ attend us,
the love of God surround us,
and the Holy Spirit keep us,
today and always.

 Sung Amen