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The music this week is from the Music Group and Piggery Brae. 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. We are working hard to be able to re-open the church safely, and we will let you know when we can do so. However, as many people are shielding, and as we will be limited in the numbers allowed in the building, we expect to be offering worship online and on the radio for the foreseeable future.
Today you’ll also hear music from our Worship Band. Margaret Black will read Scripture for us. And there will be prayers from Graham Macgregor.
Everything was recorded with the appropriate social distancing.
The Psalmist says:
Seek the LORD and his strength; seek God’s presence continually.Psalm 105:4
And so I invite you now, wherever you are, to be still; for the presence of the Lord, the Holy One, is here, and wherever you are today.
Let us worship God.
Let us pray.
present in the smallest subatomic particle
and dancing among the galaxies:
we worship you, God of all Creation.
Like a mustard seed growing into a great tree,
your Kingdom grows and spreads,
as you will is done on earth and in heaven.
God of love and power,
we worship and praise you.
Yet we confess that we often fail to acknowledge
the inestimable value of your love in Jesus Christ.
We are called to be yeast, leavening the world with love.
Instead, our words and actions
hinder, rather than help, the growth of your kindgom.
Yet in your grace,
you have handed us a pearl of great price,
although we lack the courage to give all that we have
and all that we are
unconditionally for the work of your Kingdom.
Restore in us a sense
of the inestimable value of your presence in our lives.
Challenge us to live by the values of justice and peace
which are the values of Christ’s kingdom.
Strengthen us in the knowledge
that you are for us:
that by his life, death and resurrection
Christ has saved us from sin,
and that his Spirit helps us in our weakness.
May we be bearers of your treasure and wisdom
in our fallen world.
Treasures lose their lustre,
and riches are easily spent,
but your kingdom endures forever.
We approach you, God, trusting your will for our lives.
Assure us of your abiding presence,
and give us confidence as we follow Christ’s call.
This Sunday, we have the last of our three readings from the eighth chapter of the Letter of St Paul to the Romans. Romans chapter 8, verses 31 to 39 will be read for us by Margaret Black.
31 In view of all this, what can we say? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 Certainly not God, who did not even keep back his own Son, but offered him for us all! He gave us his Son—will he not also freely give us all things? 33 Who will accuse God’s chosen people? God himself declares them not guilty! 34 Who, then, will condemn them? Not Christ Jesus, who died, or rather, who was raised to life and is at the right side of God, pleading with him for us! 35 Who, then, can separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death? 36 As the scripture says,
“For your sake we are in danger of death at all times;
we are treated like sheep that are going to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! 38 For I am certain that nothing can separate us from his love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, 39 neither the world above nor the world below—there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:31-39
Do you ever get the sense that the world is against you? The neighbour who always makes belittling remarks; the relative who won’t speak to you; the co-worker who always seems to be trying to undermine you. And sometimes it’s not just people. The world itself can seem to be against you. Your hopes never quite seem to be fulfilled; our dreams never quite come true. You try to make a change to your life, but circumstances conspire against you, and you are no better off than before.
Well, folks, if everyone and everything seems to be against you, then today I have to announce some good news. For here, in this last part of chapter 8 of his Letter to the Christians of Rome, Paul affirms that God is not against you. God is for you. And if God is for you, who can really be against you?
Today’s text is a remarkable passage. It is St Paul at his most poetic and expressive. Here are words to gladden the heart and lift the spirit. These are words we all need to hear, and perhaps especially during these difficult days. God is for you, and absolutely nothing can separate you from God’s love.
The week before last Sunday, when we started to explore Romans 8 together, we were reminded about the foundation of our lives as Christians. Even if we feel we have messed up, even as we feel that faith is a struggle, even if we feel guilty and unworthy, God has pronounced us forgiven. ‘There is no condemnation now for those who live in union with Christ Jesus’, writes Paul.
And last week, we thought about how God has adopted us as God’s sons and daughters. If we share in the sufferings of our adopted elder brother, Jesus Christ, we will also share in this glory. There is no condemnation for we have been adopted as God’s sons and daughters. We have God’s Spirit to help us pray and to live; Gods’ Spirit working through us, until the whole of creation is released from evil and sin. And all this is the work of Christ.
And so now Paul, looking back on what he has already said, says to the Romans, and to us,
In view of all this, what can we say? If God is for us, who can be against us?
It is incredible to think that God is on our side. Indeed, for some people, it is just too much. Many religious people worry that they can never be good enough. For them, God is a terrible judge, who watches their every move and is always ready to condemn.
The church has even encouraged that attitude at times. We can become very moralistic, too quick to condemn people we think aren’t good people, too quick to those who are wrongdoers. In our anxiety to preach morality- the dos and don’ts- we forget to preach the Gospel- that God is for us.
This is a point at which I think Paul understood Jesus very well. Jesus had little time for moralists. Nobody made him angrier than people who liked to preach morality at other people. He spoke of how some of the Pharisees- religious teachers of his day, who preached a very strict faith but were, themselves, hypocrites:
they don’t practice what they preach. They tie onto people’s backs loads that are heavy and hard to carry, yet they aren’t willing even to lift a finger to help them carry those loads.
This is the challenge that the church still faces in its preaching. Yes, there is right and wrong, and sometimes we have to speak out against what is wrong and evil. But we can’t be hypocritical moralists if we are followers of Jesus. We should be helping people carry their heavy loads, and not making things worse for them.
Because, as Jesus said when he taught his disciples how to pray, we should forgive others, because we ourselves have been forgiven by God. If we put our faith in a God who gave us his son, then we, too should be generous, graceful, merciful with people. We should be telling people that God is love, that God is generous, that God is stands with them in their struggles, that God offers forgiveness, and the possibility of a new ‘life in the Spirit’- that is, a life in partnership with God.
Our experience of church has changed enormously over the last few months. For a regular churchgoer like me, being kept out of our buildings has been hard. But I did a wee bit of research on Wednesday, and discovered that at least double the number of people we used to get at a church service in our building before lockdown, are now watching our services online, or listening on CamGlen Radio.
And it seems that that’s a typical experience for many churches. Far more people are hearing or seeing our services than ever before. Many of you watching or listening to this have never, or rarely, been in a church before.
So, I do hope that what you see and hear is helping you in these hard times. I’m told that there is an academic survey coming out shortly suggesting that, during the lockdown, around 50% of 18 to 34-year old’s said that they have prayed, either online or on their own. Faith isn’t just for old people anymore. In fact, the signs are that younger people are more open than previous generations to a positive message about Jesus and the love of God.
So, whether you are a regular churchgoer, or whether you stumbled over this video by accident and are wondering what Christianity is all about- let me give you the good news. If you put your faith in the God of Jesus Christ, nothing can separate you from God’s love. Listen to how St Paul ends chapter eight of his letter to the Romans:
I am certain that nothing can separate us from [God’s] love: neither death nor life, neither angels nor other heavenly rulers or powers, neither the present nor the future, neither the world above nor the world below—there is nothing in all creation that will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is ours through Christ Jesus our Lord.
Let me rephrase that a bit for you:
- Nothing at all can separate you from the love of God.
- God’s love is eternal. God will love you throughout your life. God’s love is stronger even than death- the worst that can happen to you.
- If you worry about supernatural forces in the world- bad angels and demons- well, even they can’t separate you from God’s love. If you feel buffeted by things that are out of your control- you aren’t separated from God’s love.
- There’s nothing now or in the future that can separate you from God’s love. Nothing in heaven or hell, nothing on earth on in space, can separate you from God’s love.
- For God is the one who made heaven and earth, he’s the creator of this wonderful world we so often take for granted. The force who caused the Big Bang, the one who created the farthest galaxies, and the tinies subatomic particle- that is the God of all creation. And yet, for those who can believe it, this God cares for each of us, intimately. Of course, nothing can separate us from God’s love, for God’s love suffuses creation.
That is what Christian faith is all about. And that is the message of hope that we proclaim in words and in deeds, good news for churchgoers and for those who have never thought of darkening a church door, for young and old and everyone in between- if you trust in Christ, nothing in all creation can separate you from the love of God. Amen.
Loving God and Heavenly Father,
Help us to always know your love and grace and compassion in our troubled lives. Give us the strength to continue on our journey knowing that you are always with us; never forsaking us.
We give thanks that You consider us to be Your children. Nothing can separate us from Your love. As St Paul teaches us those who live in union with Christ Jesus have nothing to fear. You richly bless all those who honour Christ’s name. Your Holy Spirit lives within us, strengthening us in our weakness and despair, and granting us courage to stand up and to speak out against all of life’s injustices.
May we always hold love and peace in our hearts, knowing that in Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection that the battle of good to overcome evil is already won. In our own troubles, fear and despair, persecution, and suffering, may You reveal Yourself to us, embracing us and comforting us. May we always know that Your love for us is never ending.
In these troubled times, we pray for the vast number of people who have lost their lives to corona virus; those who seek to find a vaccination; and those who continue to care for those affected and fighting for their lives in hospital. We pray for those who govern and make important decisions – may they do so wisely. Lord God in your mercy, be with them all.
We pray for those who are worried by the uncertainty caused by the global pandemic – those whose jobs are endangered and those who can no longer find work. Grant them hope.
We pray for all those who live in fear; those who know hardship and persecution; those who have little and those who are hungry; those who are weary and those without hope. Be with them all.
We pray for those who lack love and friendship in their lives and those who have become bitter and disillusioned by life’s trials. We pray for those who have yet to discover the joy of knowing you. Loving God, reveal yourself to them.
In a moment of silence, we bring before our own concerns; our own fears; our own doubts. Be with those whom we name before You and grant them hope. Hope for today, tomorrow, and beyond.
We mercifully ask that you hear all our prayers. We ask this in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, light and Saviour of all the world, 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. Amen.
Thank you for joining us for worship today. Thanks to Margaret Black for the Bible reading, to the Cambuslang Worship Band for the music, to Graham Macgregor for the prayer, and Fraser Hamilton for filming and editing.
Remember you can get in touch with me any time- for prayer, to have a chat, to ask questions about what you have heard today. My phone number is on the Cambuslang Parish Church website, or contact me via social media.
And now, a blessing:
Go in peace, and in faith and in confidence,Romans 8.38-39
for nothing in all creation can separate you
from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The blessing of God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
be with you all.