The Spirit is life giving
After you have listened to the Sermon audio above, take your time to read through the rest of this page. Pause and reflect at your own pace. We can worship at any time and anywhere. Know that others will be joining you...
The cords of death entangled me,
the anguish of the grave came over me;
I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
For you, Lord, have delivered me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling,
that I may walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.
Psalm 116:3, 8-9
In the Old Testament Library commentary it says, “The despair of the exiles meets here with something much more than a mere superficial word of comfort. Ezekiel does not see any less sharply or realistically than the rest of his fellow countrymen the utter ruin to which Israel has been reduced. He therefore demonstrates to them that under such conditions the sole basis for hope lies in the superhuman and miraculous power of his God, who is calling the lost to a new fellowship with him.”
(Walther Eichrodt, Old Testament Library: Ezekiel a commentary. p 510-511)
Woe to those who call evil good
and good evil,
who put darkness for light
and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
and sweet for bitter.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
Ps 104: 24-33
Read this portion of Psalm 124.
The psalmist cannot resist exclaiming in wonder at the prolific evidence of God’s activity and planning and skill that stands behind creation. All creatures great and small, they do not just survive but frolic in fun and enjoyment. The same sentiment lies behind well-loved hymns such as “For the beauty of the earth.”
Think a while on God’s creation, where are your favourite places? Why? What takes your breath away? As you think, try doing something creative yourself; drawing, making, writing - anything at all.
Verses 28 – 30 show alternating parallelism, where God’s action is stated first and then its effect on creatures, emphasizing God’s control over all living beings. All creatures look to God, he is their sustaining life-force. His Spirit is a Spirit that creates and gives life. A Spirit of renewal and rejuvenation. God’s own breath is the secret to physical life.
God does not erratically open his hand or hide his face for divine amusement, he gives his Spirit to all who seek it. Ask God for his Spirit in your life, and in our church.
May the glory of the Lord endure forever. May he rejoice in his works. The Psalmist expresses his wish that God continues to take pleasure in his creation and therefore continue to sustain it. The greatness of God when properly understood is frightening. Yet no other power could give life to the world. No other power has consistently shown itself to be so emphatically invested in our wellbeing. Therefore, God’s greatness when properly understood is a cause for great joy.
I will sing to the Lord all my life.
Pray a prayer of pure praise to God. You can even sing it.
Heavenly Father, the creator and giver of all life, we come to worship and honour you this day, physically apart but yet one in the Spirit as we worship you. You are the one who is worthy of our praise and the one who deserves our worship, Lord help us to draw closer to you and spend more time in your presence in our isolation and let us bow down before your throne.
Lord we are all sinners and we do not deserve your love and forgiveness but through your grace and mercy we are able to call ourselves sons and daughters of yours, thank you Lord. We thank you that we have hope for the future, a future with you. You did not promise the road would be easy, but you did promise to be with us and never leave us, Lord give us the strength, wisdom and courage to do what you have asked us to.
We cannot understand the depth of your love, we only understand the depth of human love and that can be so painful, perhaps especially at this time of lockdown when we cannot be with our loved ones in sometimes difficult circumstances. Yet you love us so much more than this, so much that you sent your only son to die for each and every one of us, then you raised him from the grave so that we may have a future with you for eternity. Lord, we thank you for this sacrifice for us, we are so unworthy and undeserving and we praise your Holy name and thank you for your unfailing love.
Lord we pray for this strength through your Holy Spirit, Lord pour it out on each of us this day and may we be blessed as you show us your power and mercy at this time.
We pray for the country’s leaders who are making difficult decisions for the whole country, Lord guide their thoughts and words so that we can come through this crisis and be able to live a normal life again, albeit a new normal. We pray for those who have lost loved ones during this pandemic and who couldn’t say their farewells as they would wish, Lord comfort them and may they know your peace.
Let us remember those for whom life is a struggle whether in lockdown or not. Those whose minds are an endless fog of confusion and fear. May they be able to accept their closed in world as others try to keep them safe and well. We pray also for the carers, as they find life so different and difficult trying to cope with the pressure of sleeplessness, confusion and continually reassuring their loved ones. Lord, in your mercy strengthen them and let them know they are loved and still very much cared for by those who love them.
We thank you for those on the front line of this pandemic, the medical staff, nurses, health professionals, midwives, shop workers, postal services, cleaners, bin men and so many more who are keeping the country running while lots of us stay at home. Lord we ask you to give them strength and safety while they carry out their jobs, calm them and bless them in this anxious time.
Thank you Lord for those who are still carrying out your work, showing that the church is not the building on the hill but the people inside. Thank you for the contacts being made and for those who carry out the manual tasks such as checking the buildings and keeping the gardens tidy. Lord bless all the work being done by your people here and give them the strength and the words to say as members are contacted regularly.
Lord we pray for Jonny and ML who have come to lead us and work with us at Newhills. We pray that Jonny will be able to keep contact with people in the congregation who may have needs, and that people will accept and come to him if they need help. We also pray for ML as she supports Jonny, that you make clear what you want her to do in this new time in her life. We ask a blessing on them both and that they may feel loved and cared for too during this time.
The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make His face to shine upon you
And give you peace. (Num 6:24-26)
(Contributed by Jeanette Abel)
Let us acknowledge the Lord;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth.
Thank you to all who contributed to this page.
Please contact Jonny (JClipston@churchofscotland.org.uk) if you would like to be involved in future weeks.