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Sunday Worship

The service is led by Rev. Peter Nimmo, Minister at Cambuslang Parish Church, with a bible reading from Sarah Dinwoodie

Please join us for Worship.

The music this week is from the Music Group. The Communications Team, AV Team, Music Group and Piggery Brae have all contributed greatly to the production of these videos. We hope you enjoy. Auto-generated Closed Captions are available.

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Hello, I’m Peter Nimmo, the minster of the Parish of Cambuslang. Welcome to this Sunday’s church service. It’s great to have you join us, whether you’re watching on the internet, or if you’re listening on CamGlen Radio.

Today’s service was recorded in Cambuslang Parish Church. As you know, the government has given permission for worship to start again in church buildings. However, we can only do so if we follow strict guidelines about hygiene and social distancing, and it will take many churches some time to plan their reopening. We are now working on that, but meantime we have to continue to worship in our homes.

Today you’ll also hear music from our Worship Band, and from Sarah Dinwoodie who will read Scripture for us. Everything was recorded with the appropriate social distancing.

By the Spirit’s power we cry out to God,
“Father! my Father!”

Romans 8:15

Let us pray.
Lord of creation,
who inspired the dreams of our mothers and fathers-
we come to worship you today.

For you, God, existed before all creation.
You, God, travelled with patriarchs and prophets and disciples,
and with all our mothers and fathers in the faith.
You, God, have travelled with each of us.
Even when we turned away and ignored you
your creative power has supported us.

You are a loving God,
and so we can confess to you
that we are not always faithful to you,
and that we do not always love our neighbours as ourselves.

You offer us divine dreams
of your reign of peace and plenty for all people
which too often seem overwhelmed
by human nightmares of war and famine.
Loving God, forgive us our sins,
and set us anew on the path you dream for us

Scripture says that

the Spirit… comes to help us, weak as we are.

Romans 8:26

Send your Spirit to fill us all
with hope, love and joy
that we might set free to be God’s children in the world.
We pray this in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

Last week, we started to think about the eighth chapter of the Letter of St Paul to the Romans. Today we will hear the second part of the chapter, and we will be thinking about the final part next week. So this we, hear Romans chapter 8, verses 12 to 30, read for us by Sarah Dinwoodie.

12 So then, my friends, we have an obligation, but it is not to live as our human nature wants us to. 13 For if you live according to your human nature, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death your sinful actions, you will live. 14 Those who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children. 15 For the Spirit that God has given you does not make you slaves and cause you to be afraid; instead, the Spirit makes you God’s children, and by the Spirit’s power we cry out to God, “Father! my Father!” 16 God’s Spirit joins himself to our spirits to declare that we are God’s children. 17 Since we are his children, we will possess the blessings he keeps for his people, and we will also possess with Christ what God has kept for him; for if we share Christ’s suffering, we will also share his glory.

18 I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us. 19 All of creation waits with eager longing for God to reveal his children. 20 For creation was condemned to lose its purpose, not of its own will, but because God willed it to be so. Yet there was the hope 21 that creation itself would one day be set free from its slavery to decay and would share the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 For we know that up to the present time all of creation groans with pain, like the pain of childbirth. 23 But it is not just creation alone which groans; we who have the Spirit as the first of God’s gifts also groan within ourselves as we wait for God to make us his children and set our whole being free. 24 For it was by hope that we were saved; but if we see what we hope for, then it is not really hope. For who of us hopes for something we see? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 In the same way the Spirit also comes to help us, weak as we are. For we do not know how we ought to pray; the Spirit himself pleads with God for us in groans that words cannot express. 27 And God, who sees into our hearts, knows what the thought of the Spirit is; because the Spirit pleads with God on behalf of his people and in accordance with his will.

28 We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose. 29 Those whom God had already chosen he also set apart to become like his Son, so that the Son would be the first among many believers. 30 And so those whom God set apart, he called; and those he called, he put right with himself, and he shared his glory with them.

Romans 8:12-30

Last week, we heard St Paul writing to the Christians of Romans, about how faith can often seem to be a struggle. In today’s passage, he says,

… if you live according to your human nature, you are going to die; but if by the Spirit you put to death your sinful actions, you will live.

So we have a stark choice- to live by the Spirit, or to live according to our sinful human nature. Is the struggle really worth it? Well, yes, for the reward is great- Paul says that ‘the Spirit is life for you’.

If you are a gardener, I’m sure you struggle with weeds. You create a lovely flower bed, but if you don’t keep on top of it, the weeds will spring up and blot out your lovely plants. Why, oh why, are the weeds there?

We all know the parable Jesus told of the sower, who sows seeds in different parts of his field, but depending on whether the seeds lands on good earth or not, it doesn’t always bring forth healthy plants. But Jesus also told another parable, this time about weeds- it’s in Matthew, chapter 13. Jesus begins the story with:

“The Kingdom of heaven is like this. A man sowed good seed in his field. One night, when everyone was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. When the plants grew and the heads of grain began to form, then the weeds showed up…”

Why is it that the world is such a mixture wheat and weeds, of good and evil? Why does it seem that some enemy has made things so tough? So that even if you consider yourself a Christian, it’s a struggle to remain faithful, it’s so difficult to do the right thing?

In the Parable of the Weeds, the servants of the man who sowed the seed ask him if they should pull the weeds out:

Good and bad are so terribly mixed up, they’re hard to disentangle.

Yet as we heard last week, for those who have faith in Christ, there is the gift of the Spirit, and the amazing knowledge that now, for us, ‘There is no condemnation’!

St Paul brings this out in different ways in this densely argued text we heard today. For example, he talks about Christians as being like God’s children. The background to his seems to the idea that, as Christians, we are adopted by God.

Anyone who has ever tried to adopt a child will tell you that it is a difficult process. This was so, even in ancient times. The Romans had a special, very complicated, ceremony, which was meant to mark the complete transition the child was going through. On his adoption, the son lost any rights he may have had in the previous family, for example, to inherit his birth father’s wealth. But the son now came into all the rights conferred by his membership of the new family. So, even if another child was later naturally born into his new family, the adopted son would have inheritance rights as if he were really the eldest, natural born son. He had decisively, in law, moved from one family to another.[iii]

St Paul tells the Roman Christians that something like that has happened to them. Christians have been adopted by God. We are really no longer in the power of old human nature. Like a court declaring that a child has been adopted into a new family, we’ve been adopted into the family of God. So Paul writes,

Those who are led by God’s Spirit are God’s children.

And now, as sons and daughters of God, we have the inheritance rights of children of God.

Since we are his children [says Paul], we will possess the blessings he keeps for his people.

Perhaps the greatest blessing that comes from being adopted into God’s family is that we become brothers and sisters of God’s Son, Jesus.

Which Paul now uses to explain why we suffer the difficulties of faith, when we encounter the weeds in the garden of the life of faith. Because in a way, says Paul, we also inherit our share of the sufferings of Jesus. He writes

Since we are [God’s] children, we will possess the blessings he keeps for his people, and we will also possess with Christ what God has kept for him; for if we share Christ’s suffering, we will also share his glory.

To unpack that: we all go through times of suffering, anxiety, grief- when we lose friends and loved ones, when our health fails us, if we lose a job, and times when our faith seems at a low ebb. For faith, and life, isn’t always a lovely garden. At times, it is as if some enemy has sown weeds among the flowers and the grain.

However, Paul claims that when we, as Christians, encounter hard times, we participate in the suffering of Christ. Or put it another way- when we grapple with the weeds and stumble over the stones, Jesus- who went to the cross for us- has already been there. Jesus has experienced the evils and difficulties of life. We share with him- and he shares with us- the difficult times, the temptations, the sorrows of life.

Louis Armstrong sang of our ‘wonderful world’, and it is, indeed a wonderful world which God has given us. But here’s a thing: there are more than a quadrillion quadrillion kinds of viruses on Earth. The vast majority are entirely innocuous, causing no problems to animals or humans. But a few viruses have devastating consequences. COVID-19, like the various varieties of flu virus, or SARS, or HIV, affect the human body in unpredictable, but often deadly, ways.

COVID-19 is like a weed in the garden. It can strangle healthy life. It’s hard to get rid of without causing a lot of damage, just as pulling up weeds might mean you pull out the good plants as well. Even apart from what it does to people’s bodies, COVID-19 is a blight on society: kids can’t go to school, people are losing their jobs, we can’t go to church or visit the cinema.

But what if, when we suffer, directly or indirectly, because of COVID-19, we’re somehow suffering with Christ? What if, when we suffer, there is also the hope of glory?- the glory of Christ who conquered death and suffering to rise again in glory. As Paul puts it,

if we share Christ’s suffering, we will also share his glory.

And so, Paul tells the Roman Christians, we may be suffering now, but one day, all this will pass:

I consider that what we suffer at this present time cannot be compared at all with the glory that is going to be revealed to us.

And now Paul puts our individual, human concerns into a cosmic context:

All of creation waits with eager longing for God to reveal his children.

It is as if it is not just humans who suffer, but all of creation. What Paul calls ‘sin’ somehow infects (there’s an appropriate term!) not just human life, but all of creation. For Paul, sin and salvation are not just concepts which are about human beings; they are ways to understand the whole world.

We live on a beautiful planet, in the midst of a mind-bogglingly incredible universe. And it’s quite amazing how our- usually- keeps us alive. We need its air its water, the food we grown on it. Thank God for planet earth!

Yet our planet also harbors COVID and HIV and other things which cause great suffering and mass death. Not only that, we often make things worse, with our wars, with the poverty and inequality which we too easily tolerate. We poison the very oceans and the atmosphere which keeps us alive. We help cause some of those natural disasters which bring so much suffering.

And so Paul speaks of creation as if it were a suffering patient. Creation, he says, ‘groans with pain, life the pain of childbirth’. But he offers the Romans, and us, the hope that we will one day be free of pain- a new, and better world, is coming to birth, even in the midst of suffering.

I said last week that this chapter of the Letter to the Romans had passages which were important to me personally. This image of creation groaning to bring to birth a better world is one of those. It suggests that we are not alone in our sufferings, for the Spirit is with us in our pain. It reminds us that the Gospel- the good news that Jesus has saved us- applies not just to individuals, but to the whole world, even all of creation. The love which God shows me in setting me free from my individual sin is just a small part of God’s cosmic plan to renew all creation.

Paul writes to the Romans that,

We know that in all things God works for good with those who love him.

Yes, we have hard times, and, yes, the world the world is messed up and awful in some ways. And one of us are perfect yet. But as brothers and sisters of Christ, we are not alone. God is at work, and, one day, all will be well. Amen.


Let us pray.

O God, be a tower of strength to all who trust in you;
and because through the weakness of our mortal nature
we can do no good without you,
empower us to work for your freedom and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lord, look in mercy on all who are struggling to believe.
Strengthen all who are being persecuted for their faith.
Bless church leaders, grappling with the challenges
of reopening places of worship safely.
Guide us all as we seek to grow in our faith,
that we may be led by the Spirit to become children of God.

Good and gracious God, grant us a glimpse of your glory.

We pray for all who are caught up in corruption and decay.
Forgive us where we destroy and mar your world through greed.
We pray for areas where forests are being destroyed,
the soil eroded, the water polluted.
Guide by your Spirit all who groan for a better world,
all who seek to restore and renew the earth.

Good and gracious God, grant us a glimpse of your glory. 

We come with our own inner longings and hopes,
that your glory may be revealed in our homes and in our lives.
May we know that we are all children of God
and treat each other with respect.
We pray for all who live in poor or slum housing,
and for those who have no home.
We pray for all who are ill,
especially where the Coronavirus is rampant
and putting unbearable pressure
on healthcare facilities and those who work in them.

Good and gracious God, grant us a glimpse of your glory.

Lord, look in mercy on all who find life futile,
all who are bored,
all whose work is unrewarding or dull,
all who feel they have wasted their lives,
all who are surrounded by decay and decadence. 
We pray for all who are struggling through sickness or disability
all who are wearied by caring for others,
all who have lost loved ones recently,
especially those who have not been able to say goodbye properly,
those in hospital and nursing homes
unable to receive visits.

May they know that the sufferings of this present time
are nothing to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.
In silence, we name before you
those whose struggles are in our minds today.

Good and gracious God, grant us a glimpse of your glory.

We rejoice in your salvation,
and thank you that you call us to be sons and daughters of God,
that you call us out of death into life which is eternal.
We thank you for our loved ones departed,
and for a vision of your glorious kingdom.

Good and gracious God, grant us a glimpse of your glory.

Merciful Father,
accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,
and our Brother, Jesus Christ,
in whose words we pray together, saying:

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as 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. Amen.

Thank you for joining us for worship today. Thanks to Sarah Dinwoodie for the Bible reading, to the Cambuslang Worship Band for the music, and Fraser Hamilton for filming and editing.

Of course, the pastoral work of the church continues. So if you have a request for prayer, want to let me know about any pastoral matter, or if you would like just to chat, do get in touch- I’m happy to talk to you any time. My phone number is on the Cambuslang Parish Church website.

And now, a blessing:
We know that in all things God works for good
with those who love him.

So go in peace,
and the blessing of God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be with you all.

Amen.

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