Please join us for Worship. We hope you find this week to be a considerable step up in the quality of our production.
The music this week is from the Music group and Piggery Brae.
The Communications Team, the AV Team, the Music Group and Piggery Brae have all contributed greatly to the production of these videos. We hope you enjoy.
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The Promise of the Holy Spirit
This morning I have no answers, rather a series of thoughts: some things in life and in faith are difficult to comprehend. Let us pray: As we continue to find ourselves isolated and struggling with a global crisis which has taken so many lives, may these words of my mouth and the meditation of all our hearts be acceptable in you sight, loving, gracious God. Amen.
Our reading this morning is from John’s gospel and the setting is the upper room on the night of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest. Jesus says to his disciples that shortly he will be leaving them, but he will not be abandoning them. In His place will come another. This “Helper” (the Holy Spirit) who is of the same divine essence/substance as both God the father and God the son (Jesus), will remain with them forever. (The Greek word is ousia [οὐσία]).
When we study theology, we learn that our understanding of the Holy Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) evolved gradually. That is a discussion which we may return to on Trinity Sunday. Suffice to say, for the moment, it was not until the 4th century after Christ’s death that the Cappadocian Fathers (Basil the Great, Gregory of Nyssa (his brother) and Gregory of Nazianzus (his friend)) began to unravel and consolidate our understanding of the Holy Spirit being of the same substance as the Father and the Son.
What Jesus is telling his disciples in the upper room is that, whereas He could only be in one place at a time in the flesh, by His Spirit He could be with His followers all the time; and not simply be alongside them but be within them. The Holy Spirit would give them the strength to continue his work and his ministry. And that gift of the Holy Spirit working among us, within us and beside us is still very much with us in our troubled and broken world of today.
Jesus’ suffering on the cross was his last public appearance of this world; his rich and meaningful resurrection appearances to his disciples provided the hope they would hang on to in the difficult years that followed.
In a couple of weeks, we will celebrate Pentecost when the disciples, again in the upper room and fearful of the future, are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit. They are given the strength to go forth and to build the Christian church.
This week I have been reading a book on the life of William Barclay, a great Biblical scholar, and Professor at Glasgow University. He died in 1978. Willie Barclay was a liberal evangelical who held fast to Jesus, for in Jesus he saw God. A God who is far more approachable than the God of Israel as often portrayed in the Old Testament. Professor Barclay (Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism) like many of us, found it hard to distinguish between the Risen Christ and the Holy Spirit.
And that for me is the great mystery of faith. We firmly hold to our faith; we know the love and grace of the Risen Christ in our hearts. We are filled with the power of the Holy Spirit as we journey through our lives. In verse 21 of our gospel reading we read: “Whoever accepts my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me. My Father will love whoever loves me; I too will love him and reveal myself to him.” And as we journey through life, in our pain and suffering, in our desolation and disappointment, Christ, time and time again, through his Holy Spirit, reveals himself to us. We are loved and never forsaken.
St Thomas Aquinas (writing in pre-Reformation 13th century Italy) famously quoted:
“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.”St Thomas Aquinas
Finally, I’d like to end with these words of reflection on praying with the Holy Spirit:
Sometimes when I pray, I utter the words, but I do not feel or think them.
Sometimes when I pray, I utter the words, thinking about what I say, but not feeling.
Sometimes when I pray, I utter the words, and I both think and feel what I say.
An act of will cannot make me feel, nor stop my mind from wandering.
An act of will can only make me utter.
So I shall utter the words, and let the Spirit do the rest, guiding my mind and heart as He wills.
Let us say a short prayer: Loving God and Heavenly Father, Let us continue in our obedience of faith; in our continuing commitment to follow Jesus wherever His Spirit may lead us. As we journey in our lives, may we continue to know your love for us, through the lense and example of Christ, our strength and our hope for tomorrow. Amen.
Prayer (including the Lord’s Prayer)
Loving God and heavenly Father,
May we take our weariness and tiredness to you.
Pick up those who have fallen and help those who struggle.
Bless those who are bowed down under the burdens they carry.
May we pray for those who are crushed by the pressures of work,
and those who feel the pain of our world, and those who are indifferent to the difficulties around them.
Help us all to keep on going during this world crisis, being supportive to all those in need, the sick and the dying.
Grant us your grace, fresh vision, courage, and signs of encouragement in our struggle.
May we take our loneliness and desolation to you who hears our cries.
Loving God and Heavenly Father bless those who are lonely,
And those who have grown old and those whose memory is failing.
Bless those who have never known real friendships.
We pray for asylum seekers and refugees.
Help the Church (even in these days of closure) to be a place of acceptance and belonging,
a place of welcome and inclusion, where all can find a home, a place of sanctuary,
a listening ear, a friendly smile, and a helping hand.
Let us take our sorrows to you who binds up the broken-hearted
and comforts those who mourn.
Bless all those whose hearts are sore today.
Thank You for our faith.
May we know your grace and peace in our lives.
We trust in you and recommit ourselves to you.
Send us forth this day
with the joy that no-one can take from us,
a life which is Your life
and a hope that gives strength to our actions.
Help us to live our faith, finding our strength to go on,
trusting in Jesus who lived among us,
died for us and rose again,
and who prays for us today,
even as we pray to Him.
In Jesus’ name we ask who taught us when praying to say:
Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your Kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and forever.