Wardie Logo Pink

Sunday Service, 11th April 2021

Led by Rev. Bob Gemmell

Welcome

Call to Worship

This is the place and this is the time; here and now, God waits
to break into our experience; to change our minds, to change our lives, to change our ways; to make us see the world and the whole of life in a new light;
to fill us with hope, joy and certainty for the future.

This is the place, as are all places.

This is the time, as are all times. Here and now let us praise God.

Hymn 396 – And can it be. Listen here.

Prayer

Adapted from Gathering for Worship, a Baptist Union publication.

Living God, as we follow in the footsteps of our Lord we affirm your presence with us, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

God calls us to share in worship. Jesus said, where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.
Jesus, you are the Way; guide us in our journey.

God calls us to share in prayer. Jesus said, abide in me, and I will abide in you.
Jesus, you are the Way; guide us in our journey.

God calls us to share the Scriptures. Jesus met his disciples and opened the Scriptures to them.
Jesus, you are the Way; guide us in our journey.

God calls us to share in fellowship and in the breaking of bread. Jesus said, do this in remembrance of me.
Jesus, you are the Way; guide us in our journey.

God calls us to share in service. Jesus said, as you do it for the least of these, you do it for me.
Jesus, you are the Way; guide us in our journey.

God calls us to share in witnessing to truth and justice. Jesus said, seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
Jesus, you are the Way; guide us in our journey.

God calls us to share a life of sacrificial love. Jesus said, to be my disciple you must deny yourself.
Jesus, you are the Way; guide us in our journey.

God calls us to share in a community open to all. Jesus said, love your neighbour as yourself.
Jesus, you are the Way; guide us in our journey.

God calls us to share the good news. Jesus said, go and make disciples of all nations.
Jesus, you are the Way; continue to guide us in our journey.

Lord as we continue in your presence we take the words that Jesus taught his disciples and make them our own:

Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name; thy kingdom come; thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power and the glory for ever. Amen

Children’s talk

Ben Liddall spoke of the highs and lows of his 100-day running challenge – including running back-to-back marathons in the blizzard snow conditions in February of this year. Ben successfully completed the challenge just one day before speaking with us.

He shared two photos: one of him being presented with a signed Scotland jersey on behalf of Scottish Rugby by Sean Lineen (Scotland’s Under-20s head coach) and the other of him standing below the clock at Murrayfield, joined by Rosco (BATs Rugby Development Officer), his final stop in completing over 1042 miles.

Ben thanked all those who have supported him and for the many donations that have been made to his JustGiving sites; for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation he has raised over £6,000 (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/bens100days) and for MND Scotland over £500 (https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/benliddall2000km100days). Both of his fundraising websites will remain open for donations for the next week or so.

Scripture reading

John 21:119  

Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples

21 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.

Jesus and Peter

15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”

Hymn 509 – Jesus calls us o’er the tumult. Listen here.

Reflection by Rev. Bob Gemmell: Breakfast by the lake

It was at sunrise and the colour of the sky would no doubt be reflected on Lake Galilee, the sun rising over the Golan Heights. A new day was dawning, with all its opportunities spreading out in front of it. This was the message being told by John in our narrative this morning. He refers to the dawn as he points to the risen Christ – a new day, a new beginning.

While the message of renewal was for all seven of our Lord’s disciples who had gone back fishing on the Lake, it was one that brought closure for Peter in particular.

Go back in time to the spiritual retreat at Caesarea Philippi. Do you remember Peter’s reply to Jesus’ question as to our Lord’s identity? “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Back came Jesus’ response: “Peter, you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my church.” But the conversation didn’t end there. No, we read that: “Jesus began to say plainly to his disciples ‘I must go to Jerusalem and suffer much from the elders, the chief priests, and the teachers of the Law. I will be put to death, but three days later I will be raised to life.’”. This was a message too far for Peter: “God forbid it Lord – that must never happen to you.” And Jesus’ response? “Get away from me Satan, you are an obstacle in my way.” How the pendulum swung from one extreme position to so far in the opposite side.

Fast forward the Gospel story to the Upper Room and to our Lord’s dialogue pre-Gethsemane and his arrest. Let me remind you of how Mark records a particular incident in that special time together. “Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will run away and leave me, for the Scripture says, “God will kill the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.” But after I am raised to life, I will go to Galilee ahead of you.’ Peter answered, ‘I will never leave you, even though all the rest do!’ Jesus then said to Peter, ‘I tell you before the cock crows twice tonight, you will say three times that you do not know me.’ Peter answered even more strongly, ‘I will never say that, even if I have to die with you!’”

Our Lord’s prediction was one that we know was fulfilled in every detail there in the courtyard of the High Priest. Peter – we read – was in the courtyard when one of the High Priest’s servant girls came by. When she saw Peter warming himself by a charcoal fire, she looked straight at him and said, ‘You, too, were with Jesus of Nazareth.’ But he denied it: ‘I don’t know what you are talking about.’ Just then a cock crowed. The servant girl repeated, ‘He is one of them.’ Peter denied it again. A little while later the bystanders accused Peter, ‘You can’t deny that you are one of them, because you, too, are from Galilee.’ Then Peter said, ‘I swear that I am telling the truth! May God punish me if I am not! I don’t know the man you are talking about.’ Just then a cock crowed a second time and Peter remembered…

That is how things have been recorded for us that Thursday evening. I wonder how Peter was feeling by the early hours of the following Sunday morning? Failure can be so debilitating. We aren’t told but I would imagine that Peter didn’t sleep much in the interim period, and even if he did it must have been a restless sleep, one filled with nightmares and regret.

The new day, Easter Day, brought a new message, a message of resurrection and according to Mark’s account a special message from the empty tomb via the women, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome: “Go and tell the disciples, especially Peter, he is going to Galilee ahead of you; there you will see him, just as he told you.”

True to his word, after appearances in Jerusalem, at the dawning of a new day, Jesus appeared by the lake side. Seven of the disciples were already out fishing, but it had been a less than successful episode – despite some of them being experienced fishermen, they hadn’t caught anything. Christ appeared on the shoreline, but in common with Mary Magdalene and the Emmaus Road travellers, there no immediate recognition of Jesus. However, that recognition came – a word of greeting – a word of command, and soon their nets were overflowing with fish.

Peter, who had unfinished business with Jesus, immediately grabbed a cloak, a tunic and leapt into the sea, leaving the others to do the hard work of landing the fish, although to be fair to him he did eventually go back and lend a hand.

In reading through this morning’s narrative I think we become aware of the healing hand of Jesus at work. There is a common denominator present in both the scene in the courtyard of the High Priest and in the breakfast that Jesus prepared for the disciples, and it is the charcoal fire. Peter had taken advantage of heating himself from it on that Thursday evening, and here on the lake shore Jesus is using a charcoal fire to prepare breakfast. I wonder if Peter linked the two incidents together. Did he recall the smell of that fire, wafting through the spring air before going out into the darkness of the night, going out angry, ashamed, knowing that Jesus knew, knowing that the beloved disciple knew, knowing that God knew of his betrayal?

Perhaps it was the charcoal fire that became the trigger through which the healing process began. It’s something that comes across from the conversation which was to follow, a conversation which Jesus no doubt planned. But for the moment there is fish to fry. They had certainly caught a massive amount, 153 in all, more than sufficient for themselves and perhaps for a surprise meal for the inhabitants of the nearby village.

The breakfast over, the scene that follows has been described as one of the most spectacular interchanges in the whole of the Bible, perhaps in all literature. Most commentators agree that Jesus’ three questions correspond to Peter’s three denials. The smell of the charcoal fire lingers. Peter’s night of agony, and Jesus’ own night of agony returns. But as Tom Wright points out: “because of the latter, Peter’s agony can be dealt with. Jesus is the Passover lamb who takes away the sin of the world, Peter’s sin included.”

Jesus leads Peter away from the others, the beloved disciple following at a distance. Jesus then asks a question, one that gets immediately to the heart of it all: “Do you love me?” The words within the repeated question vary slightly. What matters is that the question is asked and answered resulting in a command, in a fresh challenge, a new commission. It was time for Peter to learn how to be a shepherd, time for him to feed the lambs and the sheep, to be a pastor to the people.

The commission to the disciples contained in the previous chapter of John’s Gospel was quite specific, ‘as the Father sent me, so I’m sending you.’ There is no getting away from it – Peter is to share Jesus’ task of shepherding.

What we have here, as Tom Wright points out, is the secret of all Christian ministry, yours and mine, lay and ordained, full-time and part-time. It’s the secret of everything from being a quiet back-row member of a prayer group to being a platform speaker at huge rallies and conferences.

The fundamental basis for our service, whatever form it may take, is our love for the Lord. We may at times have difficulty expressing our faith as fluently as we would like, but at the end of the day the most important factor is our deep-rooted and honest love for the Lord and our desire to serve him.

Peter went from strength to strength. He still had a lot to learn, he was still muddled in his thinking at times, as the Act of the Apostles makes clear. He still had to have his mind and his heart opened to the universal concept of the Gospel, but he became a shepherd. He loved Jesus and looked after his sheep. No one could ask for more. Jesus never asks for less.

For Peter there was light at the end of a very dark tunnel and that in itself must act as an encouragement for all of us – no matter how far we fall, how many mistakes we make, there is always a way back, our Lord’s arms are always open and outstretched and welcoming, there is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Prayers of Intercession by Brian Cooper

Good morning, everyone, on this bright and sunny, but chilly, morning – let spend the next few moments warmly praying together for those near to us, in our community, around the country and around the world.

Let us pray:

Heavenly Father, we hold up to you in gratitude those we love and those who show selfless love to others:

  • Doctors and all nursing and other staff involved in hospitals, hospices, GP surgeries and care homes;
  • All those involved in the ongoing successful roll-out of the vaccination programme and Covid testing and tracing throughout the UK;
  • Teachers and all other school and educational staff as they prepare for full-school resumption next week;
  • Scientists and laboratory staff involved with the development and monitoring of vaccines;
  • Emergency services staff and teams and crews throughout the UK, and in particular at this time those involved in the recent disruption in Belfast, and we ask for your help in guiding leaders involved to achieve calming of the unrest.

And bless people like Ben Liddall and others who devote such time and energy and dedication to raising funds for good causes and less fortunate people.

Dear God above, your work and ministry on Earth continues through Wardie Church by using the offerings provided even in these different times, and we ask for your guidance in spending wisely what we each give in whatever way.

Merciful Father, in your gracious name we ask you to comfort and bless those we may know who have suffered bereavement and loss of a loved one, and today we pray in particular for Queen Elizabeth and the Royal Family who are coming to terms with the loss of His Royal Highness, the Duke of Edinburgh – a beloved husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather.

We give you thanks, dearest Lord, for Prince Philip’s long life, his inspiration, support and guidance to Queen Elizabeth in UK, commonwealth and world affairs, his military skills, leadership and service, his associations with our own City of Edinburgh, the legacy of the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme we have all been touched by, or involved with, and the decades he spent campaigning about the environmental issues we face and his dedication to the aims of the WWF.

Loving God, we thank you for giving skills and talent to all those who organised and hosted the ongoing Wardie Easter Flower Trail and for the Easter messages of hope conveyed at each location, and as we continue to seek a new minister for Wardie we also give thanks and ask for your blessings on our Locum Bob, our Interim Moderator Ann, our Youth Worker Mo, Joint Session Clerks Heather and Paul, Musical Director Margaret, and the Kirk Session and everyone working behind the scenes in all the various ways to sustain Wardie’s presence.

Heavenly Father, we recognise your Son, Jesus, as the One and Only and as our inspiration and leader, we trust you in Jesus’ name until we reach the light at the end of this pandemic tunnel as the vaccine continues to have an effect, and we look forward to re-establishing your Kingdom, in unity, with renewed strength and belief.

Amen

Hymn 543 – Longing for light. Listen here.

Blessing

May the glory of the Father
the peace of the Saviour
the power of the Spirit be within you and about you;
and may the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be with you and with all whom you love, now and always.