Pentecost Sunday, 31st May led by Robert Rae

Today’s Sunday worship at 10am for Pentecost will be led by Robert Rae:

During our online worship, the prayers for others (led by Brien Dickey) will include an opportunity for us to bring to God any particular people for whom we are concerned. Can I ask you, during these moments of silence, to include Ken Butler in your thoughts – a long-standing member of Kilbrandon Church, an elder in our congregation, and our former organist, now seriously ill in hospital with mouth cancer.

After the worship is over, there will be an opportunity for us to take part in some online chat – do please take this opportunity, if you can, to catch up with others.

The link goes live at 9.45am. If you miss the video when it goes live, or if you experience any kind of glitch, you can always catch up with it later. All our online worship videos remain available for viewing on YouTube.

If you enjoy the video, please use the “like” button and subscribe to the channel if you haven’t already done so.

Presbytery Prayer: 27th May

Presbytery Prayer Point

You are invited to pray with fellow Presbyters at 12 noon on Wednesday 27th May 2020

Lord, keep us under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfortknowing that nothing can separate us from your love.

Heavenly Father, we give thanks that we are beginning to see some signs of recovery from the current situation and we are grateful for all the people who have worked so hard to achieve this. Help us to be patient so that we might move forward without further harm, help us to understand our responsibilities for ourselves and others that we might be able restore some semblance of normality in our lives. We give grateful thanks for the worship that has continued online and by other means so that our faith journey can continue during these difficult times. As restrictions begin to be lifted, we look forward to being able to worship in familiar sacred spaces and we pray your blessings on the planning and arrangements for future worship in all the different forms that it might take. We pray too for staff at the national church as they begin to grapple with the consequences of the virus and its impact upon finances, staffing and church buildings. Difficult decisions will need to be made to secure the church’s future and we pray your wisdom and insight for those charged with this responsibility. We especially pray for the future of Crossreach as it undertakes its vital social care on the most vulnerable members of society within a restricted budget. We pray your protection on all the residents and staff as they come to terms with restrictions on visiting and the risk to both staff and clients of being infected. We give thanks for the dedicated Crossreach staff providing safe care across the country in our name.

Lord, as arrangements are being made for children to return to school, we pray that the best arrangements are put in place to keep both staff and pupils safe. The resumption of education for children is of vital importance but needs to be undertaken in a safe and reliable environment and that parents feel reassured that their children will be safe.

Lord, as we hear about deaths amongst the elderly in residential care homes our hearts are vexed. We pray for this vulnerable generation who have already given so much in their lifetime and who now find themselves at risk.  We pray that they stay safe during these difficult times. We especially pray for the families who worry about their loved ones from whom they are separated. And we especially remember, at these difficult times, the families who mourn at a distance for those who have lost the fight against the virus. We pray that once some sense of normality prevails, families will be able to grieve properly and hold in their hearts the positive memories of the ones who they have lost in these circumstances.

Father, we offer this prayer in earnest gratitude for all you are doing at this time in our lives and in the world at large. Our future is in your hands and we are assured that when we hand over our concerns and worries to you that you will answer our prayers.

We are not people of fear: we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs
For as long as it takes wherever you call us. Amen.

Sunday 24th May: Online worship led by Jean Alexander

Our online worship at 10am today will be led by Jean Alexander:

There are two other important links today. One for the The Natasha Allergy Foundation which Jean will be mentioning in her service:

The other is for Rivers of Music, another important source of worship music that Robert Rae has found:

The link goes live at 9.45am. If you miss the video when it goes live, or if you experience any kind of glitch, you can always catch up with it later. All our online worship videos remain available for viewing on YouTube.

If you enjoy the video, please use the “like” button and subscribe to the channel if you haven’t already done so.

Sunday 17th May: Online worship led by Maura Rae

Our online worship at 10am today will be Godly Play led by Maura Rae:

The link goes live at 9.45am. If you miss the video when it goes live, or if you experience any kind of glitch, you can always catch up with it later. All our online worship videos remain available for viewing on YouTube.

If you enjoy the video, please use the “like” button and subscribe to the channel if you haven’t already done so.


May 17th  Daniel

Good morning everyone, and welcome to worship

Lord, we acknowledge your sovereignty in our lives and over all of history.  Help us to give you our whole attention and open our ears to hear from you.

Let’s light the Christ candle as we get ready

Today we are going to be concentrating on the whole book of Daniel.  I hope that by getting an overview and a dip into some of its gems you will view this as a taster and be encouraged to spend time soaking up more of the flamboyant detail in the original.   My study Bible gives fascinating insight into some of the historical background and possible fulfilment of some of its prophecies so I would recommend finding some commentary to refer to.

Last time we were in the school the children were showing us some of the sign language they had been learning, so I shared a little of the sign language I learned through the Bible Alive programme.

“The Bible is a library with 66 books for you”.  The Book of Daniel is right in the middle of the Prophecy section of the library in the Old Testament.  The New Testament has one Prophecy book in its library called Revelation to John.  There are parts of Daniel which are echoed in Revelation.

Let’s listen to Robert reading us some of the initial greeting in Revelation chapter 1 

Grace and peace be yours from God, who is, who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits in front of his throne and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the first to be raised from death and who is the ruler of the kings of the world.  He loves us, and by his death he has freed us from our sins and made us a kingdom of priests to serve his God and Father.   To Jesus Christ be the glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.   

Let’s sing ‘He is Lord’  

Are you ready for the story? 

(Maura then told the Godly Play story of Daniel using the visual aids which are shown again during the prayer)

I was pleased to note the other week that the then current moderator, Colin Sinclair chose Daniel for one of his morning addresses as an example of resilience, a quality we are all needing to aspire to in our present circumstances.  He served faithfully under many successive administrations without compromising his allegiance to God’s will.  The other characteristic of Daniel’s life was his commitment to prayer.

The next hymn is a prayer so let’s start our prayers by singing:  Thy Kingdom come, Oh God [CH3 no 322]

  Let’s use this story to guide our topics as we put the story away .   On Sunday we did the prayers going through the the pictures of the story in reverse order.  I have turned them round in case you want to read the scripture passages in order which go with the story before following the prayer.

Daniel chapter 1    The Exile

Maybe some people feel that being in Lockdown is something like being in exile.  We pray for those who are finding this crisis particularly difficult, for those whose precious plans have been destroyed and those who are grieving a separation from loved ones, temporarily or until death reunites them.  We pray for those whose livelihoods are threatened and for whom the future looks bleak.  Be close to them and bring them hope and courage.

Daniel Chapter  2  The image destroyed

We pray for wisdom and integrity for all those in authority, knowing that one day only the Kingdom of God will last for ever.  In the outworking of prophecy which is both now and not yet, we know that Jesus announced the Kingdom of God but taught us to pray ‘Your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven’.  We recognise that Christians down the ages have partnered with you and know that is now our task.  Let your Kingdom come, Lord and show us each our part.  We ask for strength and wisdom for the newly inducted Moderator of the Church of Scotland and may he be able to balance the needs of the national church with those of his own congregation

Chapter 3     The golden image  

I wonder what sort of idols there are today?  Lord, please help us to recognise them.  Are there expected behaviours and attitudes which are part of our culture which are easier to join in with than to challenge?  We pray for those in government and the media who have the courage to stand up and be counted.  We pray for their protection and for their voice to be heard.  We pray for honour and respect to be the norm in this land for those who have the courage to voice a different opinion.

Chapter 4   The tree that was cut down  

We remember that Nebuchadnezzar went through a period of deep distress which was time limited and which brought him into a relationship with God.  Let us bring before God those known to us who are in any sort of distress and ask you God to bless and restore them and enrich their relationship with you.

Chapter 5 the writing on the wall

As world events and a national pandemic can suddenly change our lives, give us Lord that trust in your ultimate sovereignty.  We know we are at the whim of decisions made by others and by the outworking of our own and others sin and by the brokenness of creation.  Help us to know what we can and should take responsibility for and anchor us in the knowledge of your unfailing love.

Chapter 6 The Lion’s den

So few of us would find our lives at risk because we choose to pray only to you, Lord and yet we know this is the case for millions all over the world.  We pray for your supernatural protection and miraculous intervention to rescue those who put their trust in you.  Give them a deep sense of your love and provision for them.

Chapters 7 & 8    The Ram and Goat and the four beasts 

We know of power abused and Evil in leaders in this, our time, as has happened in the past.  We pray for your mercy and protection for those who have no escape.  Where truth can liberate we ask for revelation and rescue.  We pray for the peoples of North Korea, Brazil and Venezuela and the Uighurs in China.  We pray for an end to conflict in Yemen and rescue from terrorists in Afghanistan and Sudan.  With all our news only focussing on our present danger, keep us praying for those who have been living in danger for decades.

Let’s hear that reading from revelation again 

Daniel Chapter 9 Gabriel    

Thank you that you hear and respond to our prayers.   Help us to learn from Daniel and to take this responsibility seriously.   As Daniel asked for forgiveness for the sins of his people we confess our corporate greed, thoughtlessness and self-interest which have caused so much damage to your beautiful world and dangerous poverty to millions.   Thank you for this amazing prophecy of Jesus’ death, that for some appeared to accomplish nothing.   Help us to be willing to wrestle with mystery until we learn truth.  We have hindsight now for that event but for things we are living through we struggle to understand.  Help us to trust and persist in prayer for your will to be done.  We lift before you now all the unknowns and unanswered prayer that are on our minds.

Daniel chapter 10 vs1 -14 and chapter 12    the man in white

Thank you Lord for the comforting words given to Daniel that although times would be difficult you would stay close to your people.  Help us to stay faithful and keep close to you and know that as citizens of your kingdom we will be with you at the end of time

After the blessing we are going to sing a newly composed song to a familiar tune Woodlands which has been written for the worldwide ‘Thy Kingdom Come’ initiative to encourage us each to make a prayer commitment between Ascension Day and Pentecost.  You will find more details on the My Kingdom Come website and Facebook page.   Ascension Day is this coming Thursday.

And now I will change the light. (  As the candle is snuffed it is explained that Jesus’ light was in one time and place in history.  There came a time when his light had to change.  As it becomes smoke it is explained that this was so that he could be present in all times and in all places for ever.)

And now, may the Good Shepherd, who knows all of his sheep by name, lead you into green pastures and beside still waters.  May he be with you in any time of danger and may you find your pearl of great price and travel with the people of God who are more numerous than the stars in the sky or the grains of sand in the desert.  Amen

Sunday 10th May: Online worship led by Martin Waddell

Our online worship at 10am today will be led by Martin Waddell:

The link goes live at 9.45am. If you miss the video when it goes live, or if you experience any kind of glitch, you can always catch up with it later. All our online worship videos remain available for viewing on YouTube.
If you enjoy the video, please use the “like” button and subscribe to the channel if you haven’t already done so.

Presbytery prayer: 6th May

Presbytery Prayer Point

You are invited to pray with fellow Presbyters at 12 noon on Wednesday 6th May 2020

Lord, keep us under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love.

Lord at this time, our communities across Argyll are gradually adjusting to changes in life previously unheard of. And as this happens stories of fortitude, compassion and courage have emerged. Lord, as we visualise this beautiful part of the world, we bring to mind the communities we have visited and lived in. We see in our mind’s eye the larger towns like Oban, Inverary and Dunoon; the smaller communities such as Tighnabruaich, Strachur and Kilmartin; the islands including Gigha, Barra and Lismore and we recall the people who live and work there. We bring to mind the essential workers who make the community what it is and who have risen above and beyond the call of duty to sustain these communities in their time of crisis. Lord we especially bring to mind those who have paid the ultimate price in this endeavour and today we give thanks for the life of Robert Black, a paramedic from Campbeltown who died in the line of duty protecting his local community. We pray your blessing on his family and friends as they come to terms with the price that Robert has paid for his diligence and devotion to his profession. We remember too, others who we do not know who have died on the frontline against an unseen and cruel enemy and we pray your blessing upon them at this difficult time.

Lord, we pray for all the residential care homes across our Presbytery, many of whom were cared for pastorally by local congregations who can now no longer provide visitors or support to residents. We pray for the safety of residents and staff alike at these difficult and challenging times and we especially pray for the mental wellbeing of all those who find themselves in a vulnerable situation at this time. Some residents, as a result of their lack of understanding, will find these times especially difficult when normal routines are disturbed, and regular visitors and contact are suddenly no longer there. Lord help those who feel bewildered by all that is happening and help them seek and attain that peace of mind they crave in their later years. Lord, we pray for staff working in immensely challenging situations especially in those circumstances where residents are almost akin to family members. Lord, keep staff safe so that they can continue their caring of the most vulnerable in our community.

Lord God, we hold in our prayers the children in our communities at this time as they come to terms with new routines and situations and we especially bring to mind those children with special needs. We acknowledge the additional challenges that these circumstances bring to children who have to deal with learning difficulties and who are now separated from the usual community facilities available to them during times of normality. Uphold and sustain their parents and other carers who now need to make do with less than ideal facilities to manage the challenges these children face in their everyday lives.

Lord God, encourage and keep safe the community-based volunteers who have emerged during this time of adversity as they go about the daily tasks of life that we take for granted. We give thanks for their willingness to support their community and undertake the care of their neighbour in their time of need. We pray your blessings upon them and that they keep safe whilst undertaking their duties.

Lord as the pandemic progresses and days turn to weeks help us not to become complacent and undo all the good work to date. Remind us of the sacrifice that many have made including their own lives, to ensure our safety and health. Grant us patience that we may emerge in due course to take our places in our community and in our church pews but only when it is safe and sensible to do so.

We are not people of fear: we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs
For as long as it takes wherever you call us. Amen.

Sunday 3rd May: Online worship led by Fiona Cruickshanks

Our online worship at 10am today will be led by Fiona Cruickshanks:

If you miss the video when it goes live, or if you experience any kind of glitch, you can always catch up with it later. All our online worship videos remain available for viewing on YouTube.

Sunday 3 may 2020

Fiona Cruickshanks

Welcome : Me

Welcome to worship this morning, I’m excited and a wee bit terrified to be leading worship today, but as I am always telling ,myself ‘God wouldn’t ask you to do anything that he won’t equip you for’ 

So welcome from wherever you are in the world to our wee corner of Argyll – the Nethlorn Churches of Kilbrandon,Kilchattan  linked with Kilninver and Kilmelford. 

I am so lucky, as many of you are too,  to be living and working in this area – I live on the Island of Luing and my work as a District Nurse takes me all over Argyll at all times of year – one of the joys is driving past,through and visiting farms in Argyll and seeing all the wee lambs , and who doesn’t love a wee lamb ? (Sheep maybe not so instagram or snapchat worthy) but lambs are a real sign of spring and new life. Here  on Luing we have a wonderful flock of lambs which are being raised by the shepherds — Facebook keeps me up to date with how they are doing, and two of our  younger church family Iona and Freya Ferguson have been helping their dad Ewan who is the farm manager for landowner the Cadzows. Freya and Iona will tell you all about it

Video from Freya and Iona 

Hymn – Psalm 8  (Tune Tramps and Hawkers) 

Bible reading by Hazel Cruickshanks    John : chapter 10 verse  1-10 (video) New International version 

“I tell you the truth. Anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber!

But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 

The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognise his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.

They won’t  follow a stranger, they will run from him because they don’t know his voice”.

Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he what he meant,  so he explained to them:

 “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.

All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them .

Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.”

Story : The Sheep fold 

There was once a wee lamb called Dugald who lived on Luing with his mummy sheep, and mostly he was a good lamb and did as he was told, he loved to play with the other lambs and you could often see him running around with a big group of pals, jumping up and kicking their wee hooves in the sunshine.  They played tig – and king of the castle on the wee rocks and humps around the fields. Their mummy’s didn’t really pay that much attention to them, they seemed to just eat grass all day, but when Dugald fell out with the other lambs ( as all good friends do sometimes) he would run back to his mum for a nice drink of milk, he would just bleat and his mum would answer him back – then he would run over to the safety of her and food -at night they would go into the sheep fold by using the big  gate and he felt safe and nurtured in his wee life on Luing, all the sheep felt secure inside the walls. 

One night when Dugald couldn’t sleep, he was restless and grumpy so he wandered over to the gate, but he found it was shut barring his way out – spoiling his fun – he wasn’t happy! Suddenly he heard a noise outside the wall of the sheep fold, and quick as a flash a robber climbed over the wall and grabbed him up and stole him away back over the wall !  What a disaster – poor Dugald didn’t understand what had happened – his mum was frantic , bleating and bleating for him – soon everyone was up and hunting around the sheepfold looking for him, they just couldn’t understand what had happen to him !   Dugald was making such a racket that the robber dropped him and ran off, Dugald quickly ran back to the gate where the gatekeeper kindly let him in , and what a welcome he got !  Everyone rejoiced that he was home safe and sound, and he told them all about the nasty thief and how the kind gatekeeper had let him back in, his mum just cuddled him and sent him back to bed – and he did sleep, because he felt safe and warm again. 

Sometimes we can be a bit like Dugald, restless and unhappy about being shut in not being allowed to play with friends, but when we are tempted to break rules we should always remember that Jesus is our gatekeeper, and when we choose to live in his sheepfold,be his sheep ,his follower, listen for his voice to call us and obey his commands  , then he will lie down at the entrance .  You see , the most important gate or door  that anyone in this lifetime will ever decide to walk through is a gate that has no hinges, no locks or bolts, it doesn’t swing out or in. This gate is a person and it is Jesus our friend and saviour. 

Maybe we will hear a bit more about Dugald the lamb and his family in the weeks to come . 

Some folks have set up a wee special place in their house – a prayer station or shrine a place where they can put some things that remind them of the things they are learning over Easter and beyond – This is mine , I have the palm Cross that I received on Palm Sunday and an Easter card, and a picture of my beautiful granddaughters Mia and Clara who I miss so much . Well I’m going to show you how to make this wee gate to remind of today’s service –  I’m going to show you how to make a simple gate, to represent Jesus our gatekeeper – and you could write our memory verse on it to remind you 

The memory verse will make you laugh – I’m not sure just how many of you listen to the music of LunchMoney Lewis- but to the tune of ‘Bills’ 

John 10, John 10, John 10, verse 10.   John 10, John 10, John 10.       I have come – that they may – have life and have it to the full.     

I have come – that they may – have life and have it to the full.   John 10, John 10, John 10, verse 10

Reflection – video from Katie-Ellen Mellish (younger church family ) 

As you sit at the gate, Lord,

what are you thinking?

Are you wondering…

when those lost sheep might come over the hill and find their way back to you?

As you sit at the gate, Lord,

does your patience get tested?

Are you wondering…

when we are going to make an appearance, tails between our legs?

As you sit by the gate, Lord,

do you search in vain on the horizon? Are you wondering…

who might be the next sheep

to be tempted away?

As you sit by the gate, Lord,

we are so grateful

for the welcome we will receive

as we saunter our way back to you. Knowing that you, our Shepherd, wait for us.

Bible reading – Acts chapter 2 verses 42 – 47 – Hazel Cruickshanks

The Believers form a community:

All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching,  and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lords Supper) and to prayer.  A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. 

And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the temple each day, met in homes for the Lords Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity – all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. Amen.

There is nothing nicer than going out to dinner, going to a friends house, a family meal, or a pot luck supper like the community meals we have at the Atlantic Islands Centre here on Luing – everyone sharing and enjoying a catch up, some food and drink – just enjoying being together. 

The Disciples or Apostles as they are named in Hazel’s reading were now left to continue Jesus’ work on earth – to spread his teaching after his death and resurrection which we learned about at Easter. But what a lovely way they went about it – they nurtured the faith they had found with Jesus by spending time together, by sharing bread together, eating with glad and sincere hearts – what a lovely picture this brings into our imagination.   It’s a bit like the flock of sheep being nurtured  in the sheep fold, they are like us in our church family ,but it is a two way gate folks, we don’t get all cosy and stay in our own wee group , we need to head out and do Jesus work in our world, and spread love.

I remember as a young teenage Christian probably about 15 years old going to St Ninnian’s Church of Scotland centre in Crieff, it was an experience that changed my life forever really.  They ran courses and seminars for all ages, but I was there for the youth weekends, they had a devoted youth worker who was planning to lead one of the Church of Scotland Summer Mission’s on the Isle Of Skye – I was hooked !  This was the kind of Christianity I had been looking for – being surrounded by other christians, immersed in the fellowship led me to volunteer to be on summer mission with Bill Taylor and I made life long friends from those days on.

Being together as a team, spreading the word of Jesus in new and imaginative ways, supporting each other and sharing everything – food, accommodation , laughter and tears, formed a tight bond that nothing can break.

So how can we continue to live like the sheep in the sheep fold – nurtured and cared for by Jesus our shepherd ? Like the early Christians living together and sharing food and fellowship bonding? 

The thief comes to steal and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

When things are already so difficult because of this robber and thief that they  call Covid19  “The thief who comes to steel and destroy”  who lurks on shiny surfaces and in a simple cough or sneeze – who steals our fun and freedom and even sadly people’s lives – So how can  we stay together as a tight flock ? We need to use all the technology that we can to help us stay in touch, be clever about staying in touch, unite in prayer and unite by watching the weekly services that Gary and Stuart have helped to pull together. 

Jesus tells us in John 10 verse 10 “I have come that they (that’s us) may have life, and have it to the full”    So we need to trust that Jesus will give us this – we have so much to be thankful for, at the moment we are all forced be with the family we were living with at the end of March when Borris told us to stay home – you might not be happy about this but that’s the rules!  So let’s make an effort to remember our memory verse – remember ‘John 10 John 10 John 10 verse 10 – I have come – that they may – have life and have it to the full.     I have come – that they may – have life and have it to the full.   John 10, John 10, John 10, verse 10

All age Prayer:




All designed to keep the outside outside

And the inside inside,

To keep us safe from harm.

Lord Jesus,

You too want to keep us safe,

To shepherd us into your family.

Help us let people know

When we are scared or upset.

Help us accept the help

Of those who love us;q

Our families, our friends,

Our church family

Help us to let them protect us



The Shepherd knows us

The shepherd calls us in

And sends us out 

To love and serve

The waiting world. 

In the name of God the Father, Jesus his Son and Holy Spirit


Sunday 26th April: Online worship led by Rev Andrew Campbell

Our online worship today will be led by Rev Andy Campbell. The link is the following:

If you miss the video when it goes live, or if you experience any kind of glitch, you can always catch up with it later. All our online worship videos remain available for viewing on YouTube.

Prayer 1:

Creator God; In golds and greens with reds and blues of every hue, you have painted our world in a universe of unseen ultraviolet, and waves of energy that we perceive as radio waves and X rays. Yours is a creation of gases and solids and liquids, but also of sound and spirituality, joy and sorrow, compassion, challenge and contentment – and for you they are all real, all vital, all necessary for the completeness and wholeness. They give you pleasure and they give us life, under your inspiration.

We do not comprehend all of this, even when we write our philosophical, medical and scientific papers, but as we come here today we are filled with a sense of awe and wonder for it all, and for YOU who makes it and keeps it all in being throughout the generations.

Redeemer God, in flesh and blood and living and dying, with tears and laughter,  healing, breathing, you have carved out a place in place and time to engage with us in Jesus of Nazareth, – born and breathing and tearful and teething – sharing our story and giving it meaning. Touching the weary and encouraging the trying, you have walked our way and shown the possibilities and potential for people like us to grow and develop and become intentional reality as create doorways and pathways for us totravel, on that long road that leads to fulfilment which is discovering our source and our destiny which is you.

Unseen God, you trouble us with your invisible presence, as the signs of your working surround us and mystifies us, transforming our certainties into questions and our mourning into dancing. We are never quite sure of where you will take us or where you are at, but there are times when we feel you are right by our side and in that moment, fears disappear and peace wraps around us as a blanket, and for moments we are unsure whether we are in heaven or heaven is here …. And we give you praise for being the God that you are, unreasonable and unbending and mightier than all else.

Accept the praise of mere mortals who deign you deign to call your children. Accept our praise and as we face the reality of your majesty and righteousness, we also pray you forgive us for not being the people you have dreamed of, and for the mess that we make in the lives of each other and the places that you set us.  Forgive us the bitterness, selfishness , rage .

Forgive us the ability to turn our backs on need, and pretend that we do not see. Forgive us Lord for we do know what we are and what we have been doing! Forgive us …..and with pardon bring a desire to please You and the determination to restore your confidence in us, by our actions and devotion.

And this we pray in the name of Jesus who teaches us to prayerfully say:   Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be your name. Your Kingdom come, your will be done on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for your is the Kingdom the power and the glory for ever,  Amen.


On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur, there was once a crude little lifesaving station.  The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, went out day and night tirelessly searching for the lost.  Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so that it became famous.  Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding area, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work.  New boats were bought and new crews trained.  The little lifesaving station grew.

Some of the members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and poorly equipped.  They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea.  So they replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in the enlarged building.  Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they decorated it beautifully and furnished it exquisitely, because they used it as a sort of club.  Fewer members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired lifeboat crews to do this work.  The lifesaving motif still prevailed in this club’s decoration, and there was a liturgical lifeboat in the room where the club initiations were held.  About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half-drowned people.  They  were dirty and sick, and some of them had black skin and some had yellow skin.  The beautiful new club was in chaos. So the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.

At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership.  Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social life of the club.  Some members insisted upon lifesaving as their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station.  But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast.  They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old.  It evolved into a club, and yet another lifesaving station was founded.  History continued to repeat itself, and if you visit that sea coast today, you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore.  Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown!

From here you can see ten lighthouses or navigations buoys. By day you can make out their shape and colours telling you where you are and which way to go, by night they highlight otherwise hidden hazards in the dark that have caused many to perish in the cold and dangerous waters when boats struck rocks and wrecks. Robert Louis Stevenson’s family were responsible for the building of many around Scotland’s coast and the Northern Lighthouse Board in Oban maintain them to provide safe passage to all sorts of vessels, whether they are military,  CalMac ferries, fishing boats, bulk carriers heading for Glen Sanda or pleasure boats likea yacht I crew on many weekends    Oh I know ships now are equipped with radar – gyro compasses – satellite navigation systems and all the other gadgetry of a modern technological era – but the lighthouse and the buoy are still the base level navigation system for sailors – I suppose one of their advantages is that they stay put …..and aren’t dependent on your on board system, which can fail.   I often think we should view the Ten Commandments, in similar vein – as navigation aids that remain constant.  They may be old, but still actually work as we navigate where we’re going in a community.  In fact, most societies would take them on board as good general rules for Society, regardless of politics or religious inclinations.

Don’t kill – don’t steal – don’t always be wanting what the other guy’s got.  These are the ones we always remember – but, there are positives too – what about “Remember to give older folk and those who gave us life itself, a bit of respect”.  It seems to be common-sense if you consider they’re the ones who have more experience and perhaps a bit more wisdom than the younger folk – they’ve had a bit more time to watch what’s been happening too.  Yet, we’ve forgotten the sense, and it is no longer common. And there’s another which says  “Take time out to wonder at this world and its creator, and to pay a bit more attention to both.”  Ecologists across the globe are saying much the same thing – and we’re happy for them to do so – But adhere to the Ten Commandments, : “Here we go…… they’re just trying to spoil our fun again  ….. No!     just do your own thing – it’s alright as long as nobody else gets hurt. We want our freedom.”  .” So be it “, says God. I wonder if what we really say is that we want freedom, and all our rights , without taking individual responsibility to protect those of others.  The ten simple rules no more limit our individuality and freedom than the lighthouses limit the freedom of boats. What they do is   help us to get from where we are to where we want to be – safely.

I’ve been watching the series on TV during Lock down called Rescue at Sea, highlighting the sterling work of the Lifeboats. Sometimes they’re called out to situations which are not only very dangerous but complete accidents which folk could not anticipate or cope with alone. Others however display the ignorance about the sea, and lack of common sense, by people who get into difficulty which could certainly have been forecast had people just thought about what they were doing. One highlighted the rescue of a guy who had built his own small sailing craft and took to the seas without ever having had a sailing lesson, wasn’t a strong swimmer, didn’t wear a lifejacket and hadn’t really tested the boat.   Inevitably he got into trouble, and a small inflatable lifeboat was launched after a spectator on the shore spied the imminent disaster.

Approaching the stricken would-be-sailor, the lifeboat crew were waved off, because the novice sailor firstly thought he would be charged for his rescue, and secondly was determined to get his boat to shore, which the RNLI said they couldn’t do in these weather conditions.

They waited till the guy was completely exhausted and then plucked him from the water and took the reluctant drowned rat to safety.

We recognise the foolishness involved and shake our heads incredulously – yet many people treat the great and gracious God of love  in the same way. He sends out his Son in Jesus to provide rescue for us when we find ourselves in a mess, and many of us refuse to acknowledge that we are in trouble at all – and then are determined to find our own way out – unwilling to accept the free offer of salvation. God keeps making the offer but many just don’t learn and refuse point blank to take hold of the rescue rope that is held out to them.

We’re,  All at Sea – the offer to pull us from the deep is held out to us in Christ , and those who are wise grab that saving chance with both hands and are forever grateful. 

Part of our gratitude is to join the rescue team for the sake of others.

Presbytery Prayer, 22nd April

Presbytery Prayer Point

You are invited to pray with fellow Presbyters at

12 noon on Wednesday 22nd April 2020

Lord, keep us under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress.

Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low;

that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love. 

Lord we pray for those people who are the hidden faces in the midst of the turmoil and upheaval that surrounds us at the moment. We hear much about those working on the frontline keeping us safe and healthy and it is right and proper that we do so and we pray your protection on all of those people but we also need to bring to mind those not in the headlines – the hidden faces of society. 

We pray for those who depend on a connection to a group or a place of safety to see them through their own personal difficulties and whose circumstances may worsen as a result of isolation. We bring to mind vulnerable children of families, troubled teenagers, and victims of domestic abuse. Lord, we know these people are at an increased risk at this time and our hearts break for the situations they now find themselves in with little or no relief. We seek your protection for them and that you will inspire those who work in such circumstances to find alternative ways of offering support and care in the face of a loss of personal and direct contact. 

We pray too for all those who find themselves stranded in a place far from home and separated from loved ones. We think of migrant and seasonal workers who travelled to their place of work often in a different country prior to the outbreak and who now find themselves without work and pay. We remember too the crews of cruise ships who have been repatriated to their own country and those still stranded on board and now unable to earn as contracts are curtailed. Lord we pray that these groups find strength in their numbers, that in keeping together they can sustain and support one another through these lean times. We also bring to mind those care workers who have opted to stay apart from their family to keep them safe. Carers living in camper vans parked in car parks and those who opt to live in with residents to ensure the safety of the residents and of the carers’ families. We visualise the parents working on the frontline who can only communicate with their children via a computer screen as they seek to keep us and them safe at this time. Lord sustain all those who have voluntarily separated themselves from their nearest in a selfless act of love and care for us all. 

Lord as the fight to defeat the virus continues, we bring to mind the hidden faces working in laboratories seeking to find a solution that will eradicate the threat. These folks working tirelessly behind the scenes in difficult circumstances and sometime at risk from the virus itself deserve our utmost thanks and blessings and our earnest wish that they stay safe and a solution is found. We pray too for air crews who volunteer to undertake flights to other parts of the world so that vital supplies necessary for frontline staff can be delivered safely and expeditiously. And we think too of ferry crews delivering essential supplies to the islands scattered across our Presbytery including the mail, food supplies, and vital medicines. 

Lord as we witness unprecedented arrangements being put in place to deal with the effects of the virus, we bring to mind the hospital and hospice chaplains being recalled to service, especially those known to us here in Presbytery, whose selfless devotion to duty will be crucial in the days ahead. With your encouragement and presence, they will bring succour and comfort to those who need it, especially in the absence of family members who can only stand from afar and watch. We pray your strength and blessing on all of them that they may be sustained in this crucial work in your name and that they will remain safe. 

In these days we are reminded once again of the quiet and measured approach taken by funeral directors and crematoria staff as they deal with an increased workload. We pray that in these difficult circumstances final goodbyes can remain dignified and heartfelt albeit at a distance and that those who mourn will still feel your comforting presence at these times.  

Lord God, we bring to mind those hidden faces mentioned here and those that we are aware who quietly and resolutely get on with what needs to be done and seek no glory or thanks for doing so. 

We are not people of fear: we are people of courage.

We are not people who protect our own safety: we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.

We are not people of greed: we are people of generosity.

We are your people God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs

For as long as it takes wherever you call us. 

We ask all this in the name of Jesus. Amen