Led by Mo Brand, Paul Mitchell and Graeme Trotter
Good morning and a very warm welcome to Wardie Parish Church today.
Call to worship by Mo Brand
1 Praise the Lord!
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty firmament!
2 Praise him for his mighty deeds;
praise him according to his surpassing greatness!
3 Praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
4 Praise him with tambourine and dance;
praise him with strings and pipe!
5 Praise him with clanging cymbals;
praise him with loud clashing cymbals!
6 Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!
Today’s service was planned in the hope that we would be in Level 1 today and able to praise the lord with voice by singing in church. We are still not able to sing along but this morning’s worship will look a little more at music and I’m sure it will still provide a great listening and thought-provoking experience.
The choices for opening worship with song this morning were vast, lots of inspiration from the psalms, lots of favourites that in different ways say sing to God or praise his name so after much thought and in a week where we can’t sing along I opted for a new song that we haven’t sung together before because it allows us the opportunity to open ourselves to worship in a different way – to slow down and hear a new tune, to focus on reading and taking in the words or even a bit of both. A reminder that we are here to worship, and it does not matter if we think we can sing well or know the songs, it matters that we have come together with hearts open to God, and so we hear our first song for this morning:
Song – As the sun rises
Children’s address by Mo Brand
We’re used to singing songs that are Bible verses and sometimes we don’t even know it:
- This is the day that the lord has made let us rejoice and be glad in it (Psalm 118:24)
- I was blind but now I see (Amazing Grace) (from last week, John 9:25)
- “Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10)
- The Lord’s my shepherd, I’ll not want (Psalm 23:1)
The Bible contains over 400 references to singing and 50 direct commands to sing. When we sing we tend to be more focused on God, when we sing we take the words away with us – maybe we sing the same song later or hum the tune when we’re doing something else; when we sing we learn the words of the Bible sometimes without even realising it. In short, it’s good to sing to God.
This morning’s call to worship were the words from Psalm 150, and I like that it talks about praising God with different things, not just with voice. A reminder to praise God with all that we have and all that we do.
Scripture readings (NRSV)
1 As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?
3 My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, “Where is your God?”
4 These things I remember as I pour out my soul: how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighty One with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.
5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
6 My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you
from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon—from Mount Mizar.
7 Deep calls to deep in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers have swept over me.
8 By day the Lord directs his love,
at night his song is with me—
a prayer to the God of my life.
9 I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning,
oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony
as my foes taunt me,
saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.
and that some books just pass us by.
Then I would suggest that there are books that are well known to us but perhaps in parts, dipped into, rarely read chronologically.
A few years ago I had two aims – first, to introduce a daily reading and Bible study into what I do. I had used daily devotionals before but fell out of the habit. The second was to better understand parts of the Bible I was familiar with but wanted to know better.
Anything that we undertake requires discipline. It can be a new exercise regime, healthy eating or starting a daily devotional. If we are our own judge, we may not be hard on ourselves if we miss a day – finding a suitable excuse. So to avoid that, this was a journey that had to be shared. A partner was required for support – to do a bit of pushing and prodding.
During a conversation with my friend Stephen Green, also a member here at Wardie, we discussed many things. I say things because when my wife Frances asks me what I talk about with my friends – the answer is always ‘just things’.
Long story short: Stephen and I decided to partner up for not only a daily devotional but a trip through the book of Psalms. After much research, we agreed that our source material was this book – My Rock, My Refuge by Timothy Keller.
Timothy Keller is a Pastor, family man, best-selling author and church leader. His description of the Book of Psalms dwarfs anything that I could come up with – even given several weeks. I would like to share that with you today.
It was that last line that clinched it for me. Not just ancient texts, but living words that Jesus himself had used and that we get to use today.
The book was terrific. Not always easy, and sometimes I felt the themes were a little bit similar and the author was stretching out to provide exactly 365 devotionals from 150 Psalms. But it allowed me to read all 150 Psalms in a year and study and learn on the way.
Stephen and I shared the book and were in contact each day electronically through WhatsApp to share a thought, discuss a line or point that particularly hit home.
It is a book that I recommend and will re-read. So I would encourage you to think of Psalms as the songs of Jesus when we read them and study them in Church or outside.
And the Psalms continue to inspire hymn writers today. The hymn I have chosen is a relatively new hymn and is based on Psalm 42 which I read at the start.
Hymn 550 – As the deer pants for water
Reflection by Graeme Trotter: So Simple, So Wonderful
Singing has always been central to Christian worship.
I’ve chosen two texts and two pieces, both from Germany; one 12th century and the other 18th century. Both take wisdom as their inspiration.
I’m sure you will be familiar with the sound of Hildegard of Bingen. Mystic, visionary, writer and musician. Only this week, a new album of her music has been released. Still going strong after a thousand years.
Let’s listen to a short piece and reflect on the words. This is the setting of her poem ‘O Virtus Sapientiae’.
O strength of wisdom
Who circling, circled,
Enclosing all, in one life-giving path,
Three wings you have
One soars to the heights
One distils its essence upon the earth
And the third is everywhere
Praise to you, as is fitting, O wisdom.
Bach’s Cantata ‘Wachet Auf’ must be one of his most loved pieces and we are fortunate to have Margaret to play the well-known chorale.
‘Wachet Auf’ literally means ‘Wake Up, Wake, Awake!’
The voice is calling….
It’s based on the story in Matthew’s Gospel of the wise and foolish virgins or the foolish and prudent girls.
As usual, Jesus follows a story about men with one about women, and his advice is to keep awake; be prepared … you never know the day nor the hour.
Hildegard tells us that wisdom has three wings.
God’s love, His wisdom, ‘soars to the heights’, ‘distils its essence upon the earth’ and is ‘everywhere’.
‘Wachet Auf’! And you’ll find God’s grace, and his wisdom, come looking for you.
So, ‘fix in us, Lord, thy humble dwelling’ and ‘enter every trembling heart’.
Our next hymn is ‘Love Divine, all loves excelling’ and this is to a great early 20th-century Welsh tune, Blaenwern.
Intercessory prayer by Graeme Trotter
Father God, we give thanks for the wisdom which maintains this church as our place of worship; and we pray that those who have looked after it throughout these difficult times will continue to make good use of the resources which are available to them.
We pray for the whole worship team, for Ann and Bob and for our new Minister Dolly Purnell, as she prepares to join us in the next months.
Wachet Auf. Wake up and be prepared could well be the watchword and rallying cry this week, as the G7 leaders meet in Cornwall.
May they put aside petty squabbles and make the right and wise decisions and promises about climate change; about sharing their wealth and helping the poorer nations to cope with the challenges of Covid 19. Although they are only 7, may they plan for the whole world. They promise to Wachet Auf and be prepared should there be another threat of a pandemic.
At the end of the school year, we ask that you bring comfort and hope to the many children whose futures depend on their exams and that you give wisdom to those charged with ensuring that all children are cared for as they should be.
Sadly, we are aware of the numerous child migrants reaching our shores, with no family and little hope. May those receiving them be supported in their work.
We give thanks that two of our congregation have been recognised for their charitable work. Ben Liddall and John Evans have both received awards from the Scottish Rugby Community.
Also very sadly, it was four years ago that the dreadful fire at Grenfell Tower in London caused so many deaths. We remember in our prayers the victims, survivors and all those affected by that awful tragedy. We pray that the mistakes which led to that disaster may never be made again. Be awake.
Finally, we give thank for our families and for this family at Wardie; enjoying greater freedom to worship and work together. Amen
Hymn 519 – Love Divine
God, you fit for us to gather today and worship you. It is not because we are perfect people it is because you are our God and you are worthy of worship.
Thank you for making us worthy to stand before you and worship you through your son Jesus Christ. Lord, as we close this service may our worship be acceptable before you today.
May we continue in your word and use it for the glory of your holy name. In Jesus’ name we believe and pray. Amen.