Call, response & healing

Preached on: Sunday 21st April 2024
The sermon text is available as subtitles in the Youtube video (the accuracy of which is not guaranteed). A transcript of the sermon can be made available on request. Additionally, you can download the PowerPoint PDF by clicking here PPT slides 20240421.
Bible references: Mark 10:46-52
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints:
– A heart to see Jesus
– A response to Jesus call
– A healing by faith

More than conquerors

Preached on: Sunday 12th November 2023
The sermon text is available as subtitles in the Youtube video (the accuracy of which is not guaranteed). A transcript of the sermon can be made available on request. Additionally, you can download the PowerPoint PDF by clicking here 23-11-12 Message PPT slides multi pages.
Bible references: Romans 8:31-35, 37-30 & Mark 15:16-20, 33-34, 37-39
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints:
– More than conquerors
– Loved by the living Jesus

Rest in the storm

Preached on: Sunday 30th July 2023
The sermon text is available as subtitles in the Youtube video (the accuracy of which is not guaranteed). A transcript of the sermon can be made available on request. There is no PowerPoint PDF accompanying this massage.
Bible references: Mark 4:35-41
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints:
– We are to chew on God’s word
– Strength of faith is not based on physical prowess or inner strength
– Faith, strength and rest are found in Jesus Christ

Eternal Rest

Preached on: Sunday 16th July 2023
The sermon text is available as subtitles in the Youtube video (the accuracy of which is not guaranteed). A transcript of the sermon can be made available on request. Additionally, you can download the PowerPoint PDF by clicking here 23-07-16 Message PPT slides multi pages.
Bible references: Mark 10:17-27
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints:
– You cannot earn eternal rest
– God is ready to gift eternal rest
– Trust in Jesus to recieve eternal rest

Holy Rest

Preached on: Sunday 2nd July 2023
The sermon text is available as subtitles in the Youtube video (the accuracy of which is not guaranteed). A transcript of the sermon can be made available on request. Additionally, you can download the PowerPoint PDF by clicking here 23-07-02 Message PPT slides multi pages.
Bible references: Mark 1:29-39
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints:
Holy Rest:
– Divert Daily
– Withdraw Weekly
– Abandon Annually

The Passion Narrative

Preached on: Sunday 2nd April 2023
The sermon text is available as subtitles in the Youtube video (the accuracy of which is not guaranteed). A transcript of the sermon can be made available on request. There is no PowerPoint PDF accompanying this message.
Bible references: Mark 14 & 15 selected verses
Location: Brightons Parish Church



Preached on: Sunday 6th November 2022
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above. There is no PowerPoint PDF accompanying this sermon.
Bible references: Mark 7:1-16
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Sermon keypoints:
– Tradition helps to ground us and also leads to
– Prejudices
– Priorities
– Misuse
– Misunderstanding
– We need discernment on what to retain and what to change

Our loving Heavenly Father, we come into Your presence this morning and, in so doing, we thank You for the privilege of being here. You are the one who created us, the one who created the world in which we live and move and have our being, You are the one who is all-powerful and yet, You have made it possible for us to come into Your presence. As we have just heard, there are many challenges within our world and sometimes we can be so discouraged, so disheartened, so dispirited by all that we see and hear, we seem to lurch from one crisis to another so, frequently, that the word perma-crisis has entered into our dictionaries. We feel our own weaknesses, the frailties of our minds and bodies, the transience of what is around us. We face so many challenges through our faith and we often falter and feel that we fail. Strengthen us, we pray, and renew a right spirit within us. We ask You, by Your Holy Spirit, to create within us a heart for worship, a heart that is glad to be open to You and not a heart which desires, constantly, its own comfort zone. It’s all too easy for our worship to become a war and blanket around us and for us to shut out the real needs. Help us not to fall into that trap and, as our hearts are opened, we ask that we may have a renewed vision of You, our God, as You reach down to us and the person of Your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ made real to us through Your Spirit. He walked this earth before our time. He experienced the pains and aches of human existence yet, He did so gladly, setting before us a divine example and opening for us a new and living way into Your presence. We ask that we may meet Him here this morning and now we ask you to forgive our sins. Close in with Your Word, for we ask these things in Jesus. name and for His sake. Amen.

There’s a tradition, isn’t there, that The Guild at Brightons Church has a special Sunday every year. Have you noticed? We’ve been here before. We’ve been at The Guild Sunday and today we’re observing that tradition. By now I think you’ve worked out what the T-word is for today, it is the word ‘tradition’. It’s great to be made aware of the work of The Guild and to be reminded that The Guild has changed with time. We think, perhaps, as Maggie said, that it’s something very old and fixed and it’s just a certain sector of the church that come along dutifully and do various things that are not perhaps relevant to this world. Well, if that’s the way we’ve been thinking, we’ve been well instructed this morning. When I first heard of The Guild it was the Woman’s Guild and it dropped that bit of the name. Now that was a big change and I’m sure it didn’t come easily, there would have been voices for and voices against because that’s the way we handle the T-word, tradition. Yes, that’s how it is but now it’s just The Guild and men can come too. Men can come along. Now, I don’t exactly see a rush on the part of men here and, I would have to say, that I am as guilty as anyone else. But a week ago, I went along to The Guild and I was very encouraged, inspired and I had a spring in my step as a result of being there.

When I heard about the projects, so interesting, and one of them in particular, they’re both equally worthy, but one I thought ‘How wonderful’, Unida. Why did I think that? I thought that because I spent my working life in higher education, and third level education, and to those of us in this country it comes so easily as Elspeth Reid reminded us on that Monday evening. We have, in Brazil, a tradition, keyword again, where women are just kept in a corner, where they are despised and so often injured and one of the cities where this is, the city where this has been set up has a very high murder rate of women and Unida is trying to change tradition, trying to give people a chance and, particularly, to give women a chance. We struggled with that one in our own society much earlier on, still struggle with it, but, in places like Brazil, there are even more challenges. So, tradition is on the move. The Guild is on the move and the way we handle things in this world, that’s on the move as well and that’s great.

Tradition then, what is it? I have to confess that when I thought of this sermon my first idea was ‘I don’t know what tradition is.’ It’s such a difficult word to define and, funnily enough, we all think we know what tradition is. That’s the problem. We’ve all got our traditions which we hold dear and yet, if I asked you to define tradition so that it was convincing and all-embracing and real, I wonder what we would arrive at, the definition of tradition.

I was brought up in the islands, as some of you already know, and I often talk about my background there, I was brought up within Gaelic tradition. I was a Gaelic speaker first and foremost and the first sermon I ever preached was in Gaelic within a Gaelic context, and I learned pretty quickly that there were traditions associated with Gaelic tradition wee ones inside the big one and that I had to be very careful if I wasn’t right about this or that I might feel are we tug here and there, and after I would finish the service somebody would say ‘Oh, you didn’t quite do that the right way.’ and I learned the Gaelic way of doing a service. And then I moved on to doing it the English and Scottish way. Some of us know Gaelic tradition in another way, the songs, the music, the stories, the tales and they’re all wrapped up in that word ‘tradition’. But then we can move to Scottish tradition, Irish tradition, English tradition, Welsh tradition, British tradition. We can have our own traditions. Remember, remember the 5th of November, which was just last night with all its explosions and bangs. And that’s another tradition.

But then, of course, we have church tradition and that is a difficult word as well, isn’t it?
We can talk about what the Church of Scotland does traditionally and we can talk about what the church in Scotland does traditionally and it’s also variable and within each individual building, each individual church. We have our own wee traditions, don’t we? And what are they? There are ways of doing things. We’ve done them down the years and probably they’ve held us steady. Tradition does that. Sometimes some would say it holds us too steady and we don’t move as we ought but, to be honest, some of our traditions change gradually, so gradually that we hardly notice others are harder to accept but eventually we get around to accepting the change. The changes are difficult. I remember when they were rows going on and whether we should address God as ‘Thou’ and not. We had that one. We then had difficulties with the move from the King James Bible to the New International and, in the course of time, the New International changed as well, the text moved on to be more inclusive.

And so, change comes. Traditions change and sometimes we don’t notice and sometimes we get a jerk. Suddenly we’ve got to change our ways. Something big comes along. Didn’t Covid do that for us, moved us along, gave us a great bump and we had to go over to new methods, new ways of reaching out because we couldn’t meet within the walls. It was a strange time and yet we’ve learned a few things through that. Doing church is different now. As I speak to you, others are watching me and this live stream is taking this message far beyond this church and I’m not aware of it. It doesn’t bother me in the least, and nobody here is very much aware of it either, but it has come and it too has become part of what the tradition is. It has moved in and we are grateful for it. There’s an expanded view of what the church actually is and I think Covid did for some of us to think along these lines.

No, I have been asked to speak on tradition because of a book that Scott recommended to us. It is The Anatomy of a Revived Church by Tom Rainer. And, in that book, in one of its chapters Tom Rainer looks at tradition in the church. It’s very interesting what he sees as tradition which is difficult to manage.
Worship music and styles, possibly, yes.
Order of worship services, well we run to a certain order don’t we. But, even today’s, one has been moved about. Nobody noticed.
The times of worship services, we can some of us know churches which meet at midday, others which meet in the afternoon and so on. But, if you move them, sometimes there’s quite a bit of friction.
The role of the pastor. Well, I’ll leave that one to the pastor. I don’t think I would want to say too much of that.
About that the role of committees, ministry and programs.
Church buildings, rooms.
In church business, meeting staff positions.

Well, there they are. And recently we ourselves have been asked to think about the role of children in the church and matters pertaining to communion. And I’m quite sure we’ve all had our wee thoughts about this in terms of ‘T’ tradition haven’t we? If we’re really honest, we have, I have and this is what goes on.

And, of course, round about us Presbytery changes. There was a time when every church had its Parish, every Parish had its church then amalgamations took place, the world began to move in other directions and that process is still going on, making us feel very uncomfortable at times, wondering what’s around the next corner. We’re human and tradition sometimes helps to ground us, keeps us safe, we can hold on to it, solid. And then things, that’s what we think, and then it begins to change. Now, I could spend this sermon digging into the debates. I’m not going to do that. I want us to dig into God’s Word and see what happens when Jesus talks about tradition. That’s what’s important for us today and the passage that we read together from Mark’s Gospel highlights this.

I was reading through Mark’s gospel when I suddenly realized that I had committed myself to talking about tradition and, somehow, it had just moved away, as tradition does, out of my brain, and then Scott reminded me and I thought ‘Where will I get something about tradition?’ and I was reading Mark’s Gospel, that very place, that very chapter that we’ve read here this morning, and there’s a wonderful example of Jesus taking on tradition, graciously, firmly, and not without a touch of dry humor which Jesus was very good at.

He encounters the Pharisees and the way they see the world. Now, I want to analyze this very briefly using two P’s and two M’s so, if you come back to the passage that we read, that Sandra read so beautifully for us, chapter 7 of Mark’s Gospel we’ll work it out and we’ll use this to guide us through our attitudes to tradition.

So, the two P’s first of all. What do we see here? We see Prejudices, that’s the first thing. We note this is all about prejudices. The Pharisees are engaged in ceremonial washing it’s not about this, not about doing that, or whatever else you do, it’s about ceremonial washing and the Pharisees are keeping a close eye on the disciples to see what they’re going to do. They’re washing their various items. They’re going at it in the way that is right for them and let’s remember all that. Let’s be fair to Pharisees, sometimes, I think, we’re not all that fair, they’re doing the right thing by their book and they were very good at that and sometimes we would do well to take a leaf out of their book.. So, Jesus handles them very wisely. They want to see if the disciples somehow step out of line, and they do. ‘Why don’t your disciples live according to the tradition of the elders instead of eating their food with unclean hands?’ And tradition can lead us into criticism of other people and it’s not helpful sometimes. As I’ve said, I was brought up in the highlands, I was brought up entirely where we had a fairly open approach to the faith. My father was a Baptist Minister and he preached every Sunday morning in Gaelic in the Baptist Church but he also helped the Church of Scotland whenever there was a vacancy, whenever there was difficulty, my father stepped into the bridge. And for us there is a continuum between the Baptist movement and the Church of Scotland one which, I suppose, represents to this day. But if I went to the northern highlands I might find things that are a little different, and some denominations like to attack the others, they like to run down the alternative denomination, point out its faults, its failings. The Presbyterian Church may just point to the failures of the Free Church, and the Free Church may just point to the failures of the Church of Scotland. It happens occasionally, believe me, in the highlands and often it’s through because we’ve got our own way of doing things. Stand to praise, sit to sing. That sort of thing happens. But then there are doctrinal issues as well. Not doing it the right way. Westminster Confession. Are we close to that, is that church further away from it than our than our way of doing it. And very easily we have prejudices.

Jesus challenges that by asking the Pharisees about their Priorities. And that’s the second P. Jesus counters the Pharisees complaint with the words ‘You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men’ or, as the newer version says ‘onto human traditions’ so it’s all inclusive, it’s not just male that’s female as well, as with the Woman’s Guild. And so, we have to ask ourselves what is really important in being church? Are we here to fight denominational battles? I think of what we are here to do, as I often have these challenges with the Church of Scotland. What am I here to do? Support the Church of Scotland? What is it we’re here to do? We are here to proclaim the Gospel as a living community. That’s what we are here to do. ‘You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men (human traditions).’ It’s so easy to do. I’ve seen so many flash points along the line because priorities are not honored as they ought to be. When there’s to be physical change in a church, move a pew, anything, and you can often spark just a little debate, just a little, because great grandfather endowed that pew and great-grandmother sat on it for X number of years. We don’t remember how long but she did so you mustn’t move the pew. And so, it goes on, and the most divisive disputes that I’ve encountered in the time are often about material things, try moving something that’s material. People will react in a way that they might not react if you’re moving spiritual things. That’s the irony. Priorities – sort them out. Our more inclusive concept of church demands change, very often, to bring in people who have needs, difficulties, challenges, that we don’t necessarily have but the inclusivity of the Christian Gospel demands a response.

Now, how about the two M’s? We’ve done two P’s and we’ve not done two M’s.

The first of the two M’s is Misuse. Jesus points out to the Pharisees that they have ways that they can bend tradition and they do it in the area of family responsibility. If they call something Corban i.e., devoted to God, then they don’t need to devote it to looking after their parents. And tradition can have ways of cleverly getting out, getting us out of difficulties, responsibilities we have. We appeal to tradition all around so we don’t do it. I do it this way, and it is safer doing it that way so, I’m not going to get involved. I know it because I’m the chief sinner in that respect. that’s going on in my own head so often. Not quite the way I would do it so I’ll keep away. And so, Jesus challenges this mindset, this excuse for inactivity and I would plead guilty to it even in today’s Church. If we don’t like what the church is doing, why not get involved and make it better? Surely that’s the way to go rather than to say ‘Oh, my tradition is the one that’s important and if they don’t do it. well, out.’ Not a good way to go.

And the second ‘M’, misunderstanding. Jesus tackles that beautifully in terms of the externals. He says it’s not what goes into you that’s going to make you unclean, it’s what comes out of you. And we need to remember that tradition is often an external matter. What really matters is the internal one. Where are we going spiritually? That’s the issue, certainly the issue for me. And it’s easy to do the tick on tradition isn’t it? Done that one, done that one, okay. Externals. But how are we in here? What’s our relationship to God? What’s our relationship to the one who created us? Where do we put Him? In a pew or high above us, exalted and glorified? I love the little verse that’s actually omitted in there, in the translation we read from. ‘If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.’ I’m often challenged by that because sometimes, we can hear things and not hear them. We can be very selectively deaf. ‘If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.’ And in that spirit, we have to think about tradition. Is it the be-all and end-all or is there a greater, a better calling.

I’ve been in so many different churches. They all do things differently but the thing I rejoice in the fact that I can talk to you about Jesus and what He means and says and does to this moment. That’s what’s important.

Warnings though. We must never assume that tradition is automatically bad and that it has to be broken simply because it is tradition. I know people and for them the very word tradition is like a red rag to a bull. Whoom, they’re at it! and they want to change it – Wheech!. We didn’t mention it in case there’s a huge reaction but remember folks, changing tradition and substituting something untraditional in its place is not necessarily a good thing. There’s no silver bullet that we can just invoke and fire as Brent Haywood reminded us a couple of weeks ago. Novelty and newness may be part of the answer. It often is because we have to match the needs of society with the ways we’re working,
and we have to change our ways. But novelty is not the remedy. It can only ever be part of it. We have to get our priorities right.

And, above all, we’re back to the ‘D’ word. We had the ‘T’ word, tradition and we’ve now got back to the ‘D’ word which we heard a few times in the course of this year’s sermons. What is the word? Discernment. We have to be so careful what we’re going to put away, what we’re going to keep. When we were renovating the house in Tiree my daughter was in charge and when we were doing the needful, I would be asked ‘Dad, what are we going to do with this? Are we going to keep it or are we going to throw it out? and nine times out of ten I would say ‘Mach!’ in Gaelic which is the word for ‘out’. But then, there were things that we had to keep and I’m glad we kept them. Discernment was needed.

And so, my dear friends, that’s tradition. We live with it all the time. We make it, we then think it’s been there since Noah was a boy, and it hasn’t. And we need to be flexible in our approach to the world that we live in. Remember, the church’s mission is to the world, not to itself. Our mission in Brightons is out there and it’s so important that we think in these terms. The Guild shows us the way. They’ve been changing the traditions quietly, beautifully, so quietly and nicely, that some of us haven’t noticed and we need to notice, because they’re exemplary in that way.

Amen, and may the Lord bless to us these few reflections on the theme of tradition.

The gift of Christ

Preached on: Sunday 26th December 2021
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above. There is no PowerPoint PDF accompanying this sermon.
Bible references: Mark 1:9-15
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Thank-you. Please be seated.
As we said earlier, today is all about gifts, giving and receiving of gifts. And gifts were brought to Jesus of course. We know the story so well, and the Magi brought those three gifts and they may have seemed a little bit odd, those gifts, because they aren’t the typical gifts that you would give to a baby.

Somebody once said that the three wise guys weren’t so wise after all, because
they should have sent their wives to do the Christmas shopping and they would have come back with a nice warm blankie, and a ton of good formula and maybe something else to make that baby Jesus more comfortable. But these gifts were prophetic gifts.

And one of the gifts, the gift of gold, was a gift symbolizing and prophesying about
the nature of this King that was born. Gold was for kings, and that gift of gold was
for The King of all time, Jesus Christ.

Frankincense says, well, frankincense was often used as a sweet-smelling perfume, you probably wouldn’t wear it today mind you, but it was it was in that time a very expensive perfume also used as a form of incense during prayer times as well. So there was a sense in that it was a message to God, a sweet smelling smell for God as well.

And then, of course, there was myrrh. You remember that myrrh was the one thing that was brought to Jesus and a gift that He refused on the cross. He refused the gift of myrrh on the cross because myrrh is also used as a preservative and a painkiller and when that gift of myrrh was offered to Him on the cross, He refused to drink it. So, that was a gift that Jesus had to turn away from, strangely enough.

And, of course, there are other gifts as well, that Jesus gave to us. He received gifts, I’m going to look at maybe three of the gifts that Jesus gives to us and I’ve brought them along here.

And I’ve got them in the bag and I’ve got little items to remind me of those gifts and we were going to get the children to open them up for us. But, just to be on the safe side with all the new rules and regulations, I’m going to open up gift number one to see what it is, what this wonderful gift is.

That reminds us of what Jesus actually gave to us? Does anybody know what that is?
Nobody? A nightlight, it is. It’s a nightlight, and this is my own little nightlight. Now, the nightlight is an amazing thing. It gives light but it only switches on when it’s dark. So,
you don’t really think about it but when it gets dark it’s there, and I use this at night. I sometimes get up at night to get a drink of water and it stops me falling over my shoes while I’m going to get my drink of water. So, it comes on when it’s dark and sometimes we use it when we are afraid of the dark as well. So many children have a nightlight because they’re a little bit scared of the dark and they don’t know what’s there and the little nightlight – Do they have nightlights, your children, have nightlights as well? – Yeah, yeah – any of the older folk have night lights? – well the only one, Eric you’ve got
a nightlight as well that’s great, okay. So, that’s a very, very precious gift and sometimes all of us are a little bit afraid of the dark, we’re not quite sure what lies ahead of us in the dark, so we need alight to shine in the dark and Jesus said ‘I’m the light of the world’. He shines for us and especially, especially when it’s dark for us, and sometimes we are afraid because we’ve done something in the past and that puts light on that darkness as well and Jesus came to sort out the past for us, to see it, to dispose of it, and to go into that dark place and make it light again. So it reminds us of that sometimes we’re a bit worried about the future, the future lies ahead of all of us, we don’t know what the new year has to offer for us, but God is in the future and we know that that dark future also has a light, because Christ is ahead of us and He knows what’s there, and we can know that, if Christ knows, it’s okay with us as well.

The first gift given us through the birth of Jesus the angel said to them ‘Don’t
be afraid.’ The baby in Bethlehem’s manger grew up to be a man who promised us freedom from fear and darkness. He said to his followers ‘Therefore, I say to you, do not worry about your life what you would eat or what you will drink nor about your body, what you will wear, what you will put on, for your Heavenly Father knows what you need
and that you need all these things but seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be given to you, So, do not worry about tomorrow.’ Jesus came to make sure that the darkness of tomorrow will have the light of the knowledge of Christ/ ‘I am the resurrection and the life,’ he said ‘he who believes in me though he may die, he shall live.’ even in the darkest place that we can think of, dead and dying, yet there too, there to, the light shines as well. A wonderful Christmas gift from Jesus, light in the darkness. Do not be afraid.

And then we’ve got another wee gift here as well. There’s gift number two. I’m going to open that one up. Let’s just have a look, now. Ah, it’s the same one it’s come back to
haunt me again, there we go, all right. Well, that’s the gift of good news, that’s the gift of good news and remember what the angel said ‘I’m here
with good news.’ said the angel ‘This very day in David’s town, your savior was born.’ Jesus, and of course that savior’s name Jesus had a very special meaning because the word Jesus in Hebrew means rescuer and we often talk about savior but in fact it’s more like deliverer or rescuer. And Jesus came to rescue us. He came as light in a dark world
and He came with a purpose and His purpose, His destiny in fact was to rescue His people. ‘And she will have a son and you shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins.’ And Jesus wants us to come to Him, He can’t come to us but
He wants us to come to Him to be rescued, not run away from Him but to come to Him
and so, we do have to do two things to Jesus. Wen Jesus went preaching the gospel
He preached two things.

He said ‘The kingdom is near, believe and repent.’ Two things, and they are very closely associated with each other because if we believe and we turn to God we’ve also got to turn away from the past and turn away from the bad things in our lives. So, believe, turn to God, repent, turn from sin. And so, we come with that good news gift.

But Jesus came as a rescuer, a savior, The Messiah, and then we’ve got another little gift last one, and here we go. Ah this was a card that we received and can you see what it is? What does a dove symbolize? Peace and love. Symbolizes peace. And, of course, that was the other gift as well. The third gift, ‘Peace on earth to those with whom he is
Pleased.’ Now, I don’t know about you, but if my wife is not pleased with me, I get no peace, I can tell you that now that’s for sure, and so when we want to please God
we need to do something. We need to be right with Him, we need to be right with Him and if we are right with Him then we have the peace with God and the peace of God. And so, peace is a wonderful gift. It’s not just a card, it’s a reality, it’s a reality. Jesus, of course, was called The Prince of Peace, The Prince of Peace. He knew all about peace. He didn’t have a lot of peace in His life mechanically speaking, but theologically speaking, He did have peace. He had peace with His Father. He was prepared to do many things which normal people would not have been able to do and He did it because He had peace and He was prepared to share that peace. And you know one of the first things Jesus said when he rose from the grave was ‘Peace be unto you.’ He said to them. He blessed His followers. He said ‘Peace be unto you. My peace I give unto you, not as the world gives.’ A special peace. And Christ has given us that peace. That’s His wonderful gift to us and it’s a gift that we can share. We can share. We have to be peacemakers, peace givers, and sometimes we think it’s nations who fight, it’s nations who disrupt the world, but behind the nations, in the nations, are people and peace starts with one person, starts with you, and if you can share peace with an R factor of two, and we know what the R factor is now of course – if one person gets it and shares it with two people it really explodes, we’ve seen it happening. Peace works in exactly the same way. If we are going out into the world of an R factor of two or more, and if one person tells two other people about the peace of Christ and why, then the Gospel will explode in the world, and that’s the way Christianity has always been modeled, to go along in the world people sharing it from generation to generation/ So, it’s important that we tell our children and we tell our grandchildren and they learn to tell others that there’s no other way that the gospel can be shared. That gift, of course, the gift of peace
has to be shared wherever we are in the world as well.

And so, in Romans 5 Paul says ‘Therefore, having been made right with God by faith,
we have peace with God, through our Lord, Jesus Christ.’

Three gifts of Christmas and these can be opened at any time, not just Christmas, and sometimes it’s a bit sad that we stop the fighting just for a day or two around about Christmas time. That’s not the story of Christmas. The story of Christmas is that Christ is here, He’s Emmanuel, He’s God with us, night and day, He is with us in every area of
Life, He is with us, and so we never stop opening the three gifts of Christmas, a special
reason in a special season. But also, in the season of our lives God has given those gifts to us all:

the gift of light in our darkness, to not be afraid
the gift of good news, the good news of salvation, and
the gift of peace, a gift well worth sharing.

And we’ve been given those special gifts of Jesus to share with others and, just like we can hand out these little candy canes, so we can hand out the message of hope and joy and good will and peace and salvation to others around us. Not only can we do it, we must do it. We have been asked to do it, we have been commanded to do it. And so, Christmas is also a command of joy to be shared in the world and peace as well.

Have a great new year when it comes and enjoy your gifts well into 2022 and way beyond as well.

Let us pray together:

Gracious Father, You gave us the gift of life and made each one of us to be special in Your sight. We thank You for the gift of children. We thank You for Scott and Gill and
their growing family, for the new boy has been born as a brother to Hope. We thank You for all our children. We thank You for our grandchildren. Such special gifts for us.

You love us and you want to give all your children good gifts so, we thank You today for every gift at Christmas.

The gift of family. The gift of love. The gift of Jesus and the gift of Peace.

We ask that you would be with all those today who may be afraid or suffering or
poor or in a dark place. Help those who are sick and worried, who have no homes and no hope and be with all of us here today, that we may know your peace and your
presence. Help us to go out to share Your good news gift with those around us so that the light of Jesus we tried in us and through us into every dark place in this world.

We pray this in Jesus name. That same Jesus who grew up to teach His followers to
pray together:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come; thy will be done; on 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.

Our closing hymn is a perennial favorite.

Peter: workplace worship and witness (Tuesday evening)

Preached on: Tuesday 6th April 2021
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above. There is no PowerPoint PDF accompanying this sermon.
Bible references: Luke 5:1-11 & Matthew 9:9-13
Location: Brightons Parish Church


Well it’s lovely to be with you again this evening and um I wasn’t going to ask I’m going to ask anyway I wonder if you did your homework I’m not asking any questions about that we’re going to be looking at a very different um area of Peter’s life but not only Peter we’re going to do a wee bit of a tour into some old testament characters but first let me just pray

father we thank you for your love for us we thank you for open bibles that you’ve given to us and we just pray that as we walk through its pages and learn from your servants of old that you would lead and guide us in our thinking in our personal lives in our church life and just ask that you would open this your word to all our hearts in Jesus name amen I’ve got two bible readings there’s actually will be three shown up on them on the screen but I’m not reading from the third one at the moment I might later on it’s Matthew 14 but let’s look at Luke chapter five Luke chapter five verse one one day as Jesus was standing by the lake of Genezaret the people were crowding around him and listening to the word of God he saw at the water’s edge two boats left there by the fishermen who were washing their necks he got into one of the boats the one belonging to Simon and asked him to put out a little from the shore then he sat down and taught the people from the boat when he had finished speaking he said to Simon put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch Simon answered master we have worked hard all night and haven’t caught anything but because you say so I will let down the nets when they had done so they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break so they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink when Simon Peter saw this he fell at Jesus knees and said go away from me lord I’m a sinful man for he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken and so were James and john the sons of Zebedee Simon’s partners then Jesus said to Simon don’t be afraid from now on you will fish for people so they pulled their boats up on shore left everything and followed him and then our other reading taken from Matthew chapter 9 just from verse 9 down to verse 30 verse 13. as Jesus went on from there he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth follow me he told him and Matthew got up and followed him while Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house many tax collectors and sinners came and ate with him and his disciples when the pharisees saw this they asked his disciples why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners on hearing this Jesus said it is not that healthy who need a doctor but those who are ill but go and learn what this means I desire mercy not sacrifice for I have not come to call the righteous but the sinners I was not brought up in a Christian home even a church going home we never went to church in fact that’s not strictly true the only time I went was when we went with the school and every Christmas eve when I went alone with my mother it was sort of more a tradition than anything else my parents lived in Edinburgh they lived in Johnson Terrace in a tenement it’s the street or the road that runs down the side of Edinburgh Castle and while they lived there my mum my mum was actually pregnant at the time with me next door to them they had two lady Salvation Army officers

perhaps just perhaps and I don’t know this if this is true or not they prayed for that unborn child I don’t know but it was through the Salvation Army that I became a Christian it was through the witness of three salvationists that I worked with and then I became a Christian actually in the Salvation Army hall in Leith in Edinburgh mind you luthers wouldn’t like to be called people from Edinburgh but anyway you’ll know what I mean but that was the first time in my office that I actually met people who followed Jesus

you ever think about it the most place or the place that most of us spend most of our time most of our days is in the workplace not the church

i don’t know about you but perhaps at the most we may spend one two perhaps three hours a week in church but then again for those working or have who have worked it could be 38 40 50 perhaps even more hours at work and we’re amongst unbelievers mostly not church people I know you’re looking at the whole area of church within not only your own church but the churches in the braze and that’s great to look at it but remind yourself even as you go through that that church is not the final place that you will be witnessing in worshiping in many of you will also have the place of work now I haven’t done this or planned this in the light of what you’ll be looking at yourselves but the workplace needs to be taken account of they say that 90 of believers never witness to Jesus Christ in the workplace

it’s a difficult place to wash to work in it’s a difficult place to witness in and we’ll look perhaps a wee bit later as to why last month we looked at Peter and the first impressions we had of him and now we’re going to briefly look at Peter in his workplace that wasn’t where he first met Jesus that’s in Luke chapter 5 but it’s where he saw the power of Jesus it’s where he was called to follow Jesus I can imagine that he and his brothers and his friends James and john were good at their jobs but church is often where we think that’s where people meet with Jesus but see beyond the church building it’s very important and has a very important place in our lives but we need to remember where we meet most people who are not Christians you might almost say that actually the workplace the boat Peter out fishing was his comfort zone this was his domain as a fisherman yet see how at this time again going back to Luke chapter five and later on in um Mark Matthew chapter 14 his whole world was turned upside down by a carpenter so let’s briefly look at Peter’s feelings because this place that was his comfort zone was taken charge of by this carpenter by someone else to the shock of Peter now remember let me remind you if you need reminding that Peter wasn’t a big religious figure he wasn’t a leader in his synagogue as far as I know but the shock he was about to experience was in his workplace

it’s a place I think many of us enjoy going to but the thought of witnessing there well that’s a non-starter for many of us but for Peter it’s where he really got out of his depth literally a number of times it happened when storms arose now I’m sure as a fisherman he was used to storms but whether this was a different storm it’s certainly terrified him and of course he had gone through the night fishing and that had been a big disappointment to him I’m not a fisherman the rod kitten or any kind but he had caught no fish that night that was uh pretty bad for him because that was his livelihood that’s where he made his income no fish and then this storm arose but I think it was I don’t know if he was annoyed but the fact that a carpenter then tells you look throw your net on the other side now one it was the wrong time of day two it was the wrong side of the boat so what does a carpenter know about fishing well this one certainly did but it was bringing Peter out of his depth out of his comfort zone and as you perhaps start to think about your comfort zone the church and for many of us it is a comfort zone think about that place of work where you meet many people who are not believers or not church goers and remind yourself as to who they are let’s just briefly then turn to Matthew for a moment as far as um the other disciples are concerned we’re not really sure what a lot of them did burden James and john but here was Matthew the tax collector now you’ll probably know this he had been hated and despised as all tax collectors were because they were often thieves and con men they were robbing the people and they were really lackies of the Roman conquerors now we don’t hear much about what Jesus said in fact we hear very little he just simply said follow me there was no big demonstration of his power to Matthew at this time but notice what happened not only did Matthew leave his workplace but he then went home with Jesus and had a house party with his friends

the same type of despised people as he was now I don’t think his idea was he had started to follow Jesus I don’t think his idea was how am I going to get these people to the synagogue or we would say to church that wasn’t his thinking his thinking was to invite or they invited themselves the other tax collectors because they would know one another it wasn’t to bring them under the preaching of the minister it was to bring them to the preaching of Jesus now let me remind you about your own workplace as it was my workplace where I met with people who knew Jesus but it’s that little phrase again in in Matthew chapter 9 when Jesus said it’s not the healthy who need a doctor but those who are ill but go and learn what this means I desire mercy not sacrifice for I’ve come to call the righteous not the righteous but sinners so when you go into your place of work it’s not like going into the church where you meet with like-minded people mostly it’s not a place where you need to think too much about I wonder who I’ll witness to today it may be I wonder who I don’t know and I’ll talk to today but there is a comfort there’s a there’s a safety in the church that you don’t have to worry about your evangelism too much but that’s very different when you then on a Monday or whichever days you go to work you’ve got to think that these people that you’re going to be working with are just like what I was still am but what I was in my workplace I was one of those sinners that knew nothing about Jesus I believed there was something or someone up there but that’s as far as it went but here is your community where you will spend most of your days most of your time with non-Christian folk we have a problem often within the church within our own Christian life is the division of the sacred and the secular in other words what we are as a Christian and what I do as um as a person at work so for Peter his secular life was he was a fisherman and as we as you read on we would find that Peter’s sacred life was he was an apostle now we mustn’t divide up the sacred and the secular we have responsibilities in the church our place of worship we have responsibilities to people out with the church whether it be in our workplace or our neighborhood who are not believers Matthew he was a different kettle of fish he we don’t really know very much about him baron the little there but he obviously had a big change in his life are following Jesus but he was also a hated man I don’t know how long we don’t know how long it took him to overcome the feelings of hatred that people must have felt towards him the workplace but I want to digress quite a bit not from the workplace but these stories of people in the workplace of Peter and of Matthew are really not unique they’re not unique to bible stories

we’re going to look at just different places not and with a great sense of degree but in the university

in the government civil service in the palace monster hierarchy or perhaps on the building site now you may work in some of these places and so it’s recorded in the scriptures about a number of people from the old testament who worked in such places who witnessed in such places now let me remind you if you need reminding that the recorded stories are not just for exciting stories or not just to teach children though they’re important to teach children but they’re about people’s lives and these people are in the workplace so the person at university was young Daniel you find this in Daniel the book of Daniel chapter one now he was there because he had been brought into exile taken away from his home taken away from his family and taken to Babylon and there he would go through a very thorough teaching it would be as good a teaching as any of our universities and of course in some ways it would also be as Godless a teaching as many of our universities it wouldn’t be a Christian university it wouldn’t be where he learned about God but in another sense while he was there he learned very much about God his story of course you’ll probably know if not take time to read chapter one that he was this young man and he was a young man probably just a teenager he was taken away from his home from his family and brought into this Godless empire and it was Godless and he was set to training but he took his stand immediately he took his stance with some of his friends that were there because he had to eat things now there’s a dilemma sometimes he was prepared to have his name changed from the Jewish name to um Babylonian name and he didn’t seem to have a problem with that he would obviously learn things that were true but he would also learn many things that were ungodly but the thing he had a problem with was the food he was offered was his dietary needs they offered him the best the richest and he totally refused it because it went against his beliefs and he took a strong stat he could have lost his life by doing this but he stood firm he stood fast in his workplace for that time and it’s obviously a reminder to each of us that our young people who go to university it can be a very difficult place very difficult place for them to stand up and believe and tell others that they’re a Christian but that’s their workplace for a certain amount of time and then we move to his older life to Daniel who moved from being in the university and you have to read the whole book to find out where he went to actually being in the government and very high up in the government probably next to the king he was in charge but it didn’t mean to say life got any easier for him even though he had got older he still had to take his stand and this time was against idolatry

now many of us live and realize we live in a world that’s full of idolatry we’re okayish in the company of other believers within the church but go outside and perhaps you don’t even realize how often we are faced with the Godlessness of our society and Daniel was definitely faced with that and he had to take his stand and that would have cost him his life if God hadn’t intervened we read about in Daniel 6 Daniel in the lion’s den so his new job I don’t know how long he’d been in it probably quite a while and the government was going to lead to his demise even though his boss the king didn’t want it to happen but he couldn’t even change the law so there you have one man in two different areas of his life in his workplace having to take his stand and what about you what about me I can’t say I was an expert at being um a witness in in the workplace when I worked and I was a civil servant for my sins um but I’ll tell you this in some ways it um it was very different than being a minister very different sorts of um problems different sorts of background but you still had to take your stand that’s where these Salvation Army people now one young girl particularly who was only going to be there for a few months because she was going on to train to be a Salvation Army I had never met anybody that was quite as vocal and she was vocal she was quite weak firebrand for Jesus the other two were well one was like the core sergeant major that had been like the chief elder I suppose um lovely man but he wasn’t as outward in his place of work but everybody knew he was a Christian and that was my first encounter with people so remind yourself that as you go into your place of work you have a witness to do now often it’s through our lives but at times it needs to be through our mouths as well and then we move on to someone you can see I’m going through these quite quickly then you move on to someone who was in the palace and that was the story of joseph he hadn’t always been in the palace at the time we’re looking at just now he had become the prime minister again someone that really moved up through the ranks from being a prisoner to being a prime minister quite a story but again you need to read that for yourself in the book of genesis that um but you see how people took their stand and witnessed to this person called our God called the lord and we know also as Jesus

and they’re amazing stories their amazing stories not of what on of what the people did but of how God moved in power as they yielded their lives to him and the last one is the butler who became a building site manager Nehemiah he had been the butler that was his job in in um Babylon I think it was Babylon SCOTT keep me right if it’s not he’d been a butler but he had head of the terrible plight of God’s people in Jerusalem and he yearned to do something about it and the lord led him to Jerusalem and his boss let him go the testimony must have been incredible these things just didn’t happen but here was someone whose job changed very dramatically and that happens within people’s work lives but in both places they had to be witnesses to who the lord God of heaven is and was to them now we haven’t got time to go into it all but if you read through them each of these men were in a place where actually they didn’t want to be they’d never asked to be Daniel had never asked to go to Babylon joseph had never asked to go to Egypt Nehemiah had never asked to go back and rebuild they were in a place that was not really of their choosing but the lord had led them so think about it your place of work may be the place you really don’t want to be and sadly a lot of people are in that that they’re in a place they don’t want to be but if that’s where the lord’s led you to you seriously have to think how does he want to demonstrate his power and lives through you now one of the other things that you read um through these stories and through Peter stories is that there were battles there was trials there were difficulties in the workplace and I’m sure that is perhaps why many of us find it very difficult to witness there’s a sense of fear what will people say well I overstepped the Mark after all I’m there to work I’m there to work for my employer I’m not there to be a preacher or a teacher but we don’t all I was going to say we don’t always do our work 24 hours a day or eight hours a day if we’re working there can be very hostile places and with some people and some believers that are extremely hostile and you would almost be terrified to even mention to even suggest that you went to church never mind even witness about Jesus the church is a very different place than our workplaces but let me remind you again the workplace is where we spend more of our time here was young Daniel a slave in a foreign country and as a young teenager stands up and was counted he wouldn’t go against his principles now he had favor with the other servants that were looking after him uh I think they were probably dreading and fearing that they would lose their heads if it was found out that they weren’t he wasn’t following the instructions the orders of them of the king and it was the same with the lions’ den people trapped him they conned him they betrayed him they were determined to get him and boy they certainly went out of their way to do it you might say they were whistleblowers in one sense your majesty you remember the law you made remember what you said if people do not bow down and worship this idol of you they will be thrown to the lines they were whistleblowers

but you know not even the king could rescue him it was a law that was unchangeable so as you read the story and we know the story of Daniel and the lion’s den so well it’s almost unbelievable it’s almost incredible but here was the power of God seen as he shut the lion’s mouth and perhaps you might be in a place where you might see the lord shutting people’s mouths that you want to witness to but it’s fear isn’t it it’s the same with Nehemiah the hostility now he was on the lord’s business and yet the hostility that he faced as people undermined him undermined his work but he stood firm and it it cost it cost probably him a reputation but you know he stuck faithfully to that word and Peter going back to him well he had a bit of a bumpy ride through his life he wasn’t always the big dynamic bold Peter he had tremendous disappointments but you remember the story I think it was another one later on where Jesus was walking on the water and Peter opened his mouth and Jesus had said to him Luke come because Jesus uh Peter wanted to follow him

what a fully get out of the boat and walk on water and he did until he saw the waves and he started to crumble now that in one sense was in his workplace amongst his um his other friends and disciples or apostles I often wonder what they used to think I think you know here he goes again you know putting his big foot in it but he did it he did it and even though he fell even though he had these bumpy rights and of course later on he’d have a very bumpy ride and denying that he ever knew Jesus so the workplace as life can be a very bumpy place to live in but we can’t stay in the security of our churches and amongst God’s people and forget that there are people out there need to be reached we haven’t looked in Moses but um just in the passing do you remember when um he thought he was doing the people of God a favor by going to the pharaoh and asking that his people could go out and worship and all that resulted was that they were given more work to do and harder task masters to follow slave drivers I wonder if you feel a bit like that in your work a bit of a slave driver and then the company starts to um dismiss people so you’ve got a smaller workforce but still the same amount of work the quotas still have to be met that’s your story that’s your story their quotas still had to be met they were stretched to the limits and they complained and they were discouraged but the lord helped them to build so many stories around the workplace not within the church but it’s there in these situations that God displayed his power to them and to a Godless world and let me remind you that when you become a Christian you’re a person who has been set free from sin to follow the lord and to allow him to show his power to you his people I don’t know if you’ve read the book I’m sure Scott’s probably read it by a man called John Ortberg if you want to walk on water you have to get out of the boat of course there’s an illustration of Peter if you want to walk in water you have to get out of the boat we have to get out of the safe place and to get into the area where it can be bumpy where we can feel we’re going to think where we have all sorts of fear in our hearts and our lives but we need to do it

and you may come into church and be amongst the people who mostly are believers but remember what Jesus said in Matthew sorry yes in Matthew chapter 6 that he came to call

not the righteous but sinners

I’ve been a Christian for many years so it’s hard to look back on the days where I didn’t go to church where I didn’t learn about Jesus where I didn’t meet with God’s people but what it’s not hard to forget I’m a sinner but I found the savior but you’ll be working with many people who are sinners but have yet to find the savior and you will be reaching people day by day that Scott will never reach because he’s not in your workplace he has a different job in a different role in a different workplace but we need to be reminded that we are a people who have to go out and win sinners for our savior so as you start to look at the role of the church what the church is just let me remind you to have a look also at what your workplace is too let’s pray father as we come before you we do thank you for the many people that we rub shoulders with day by day either in our neighborhood or in our workplaces we thank you that that you’ve placed us there to be your witnesses through the way we live through the way we act and through the way we speak so help us lord because we can be and are often a fearful people we feel safe in the church we feel comfortable in the church but we pray that you might help us to launch out into the deep and see souls one for Jesus we pray in his precious name amen

our thanks to Gordon for opening up God’s word to us this evening and bringing both a message of encouragement and challenge reminding of us of our high calling to be ambassadors of God’s kingdom messengers and witnesses to those around us who are who don’t yet know Jesus and we’ve to somehow share that with them both through our actions and through our words now many folks in our congregation and the wider brace churches would count themselves as being retired you don’t have a job but all of us have a vocation even in retirement it may be through friendship circles it may be through areas of service it may be with family or local groups that we’re a part of it may be simply with neighbours and these are all contexts and contacts through whom God is calling us Gordon said in his message that sometimes we’re placed in a difficult position and what might God want to do with us there to show and reveal his power and the same is true if you would count yourself as retired you are in a context a place God has you there so how is he calling you to show his power and share his message with the people around you so don’t write off tonight’s sermon simply because there was a lot of talk about jobs and work everything Gordon said is just as applicable to anyone listening to and we hope we’ll all engage now Gordon has left some questions for us to think about and we’ll put these on screen and in the description below the video to get us thinking and taking the principles into the week ahead and even the month ahead who knows he may ask us next month have we done anything about it and hopefully we will thanks for joining us for Tuesday evening sermon we look forward to sharing and worship with you again soon

The way of the Cross: led forward

Preached on: Sunday 4th April 2021
The sermon text is given below or can be download by clicking on the “PDF” button above. Additionally, you can download the PowerPoint PDF by clicking here 21-04-04 Message PPT slides multi pages.
Bible references: Mark 16:1-8
Location: Brightons Parish Church

Let us take a moment to pray before we think about God’s word,

Come Holy Spirit reveal Jesus to us.
Come Holy Spirit lead us in the way of Jesus.
Come Holy Spirit with power and deep conviction,
for we ask it in Jesus name, Amen.

The Easter holidays have begun and I wonder if anyone of us are feeling excited about that? Boys and girls at home, young people, are we excited about being home for even longer? Parents, grandparents you’re thinking ‘Oh how are we going to make these holidays go by again?’

I wonder if you feel a bit like me coming in today that it was going to be slightly anti-climactic because normally we come into Easter feeling quite buoyant. The seasons are changing, the days are getting longer, holidays are just beginning, hopefully, if the timing’s just right, and celebrating what Jesus achieved at Calvary gives a fresh infusion of hope or at least normally it does. So I wonder how you are coming into Easter this year, and how you’re feeling?

Are you maybe feeling tired and worn thin? Maybe frightened or sad, possibly frustrated or disillusioned, and if you’re at home feel free if you feel able to share it on the live chat, because what’s striking for me in our passage today, is that these three women who go to the tomb, they could have been feeling any of these feelings. Tired and worn thin for sure, they’d just seen their friend and would-be Messiah killed. Sad, most certainly. Frustrated, disillusioned without a doubt, because they’d hoped Jesus was the Messiah but here He is dead in a tomb. Frightened, well their leader has just been crucified on a cross as a traitor. Here they come to the place where they’re going to give one last act of devotion, one last duty, and they’re coming with all the emotions we feel; fear, or tiredness, sadness, disillusionment, but when they arrive there the body of Jesus is missing and an angel tells them that He is alive, He’s not here and, in fact He’s gone ahead of them into Galilee, and they with there with the disciples they will find Jesus the experience and news is so startling so bewildering, just leaves them trembling and awe-struck, as well as afraid so afraid. In fact, they feel unable to speak of it to begin with. So, what are we to make of this passage? i can almost understand why a later scribe would add verses 9 to 20 because it feels unfinished.

Yet, whether Mark intended for this to be the case or not, there are three brief things that we can take away this morning.

Firstly, in the midst of the most negative emotions we can experience at Easter, Jesus leads His disciples onward. The women are told ‘He is not here, He is going ahead of you into Galilee.’

Likewise, maybe today, maybe in the midst of your struggles and your emotions, maybe you need to know that Jesus is not in some tomb and He’s not defeated, maybe you need to know that Jesus is alive and He goes ahead of you and leads you on.

This past week we’ve all received the news of what’s being envisioned for the Braes Churches. Seven congregations down to two, seven places of worship possibly down to two or three, and more change besides, and talking with a number of you from across the churches I know the range of emotions that we are feeling. Yet, in the midst of all, Jesus goes ahead and leads us on. He did it then, He does it now. So, where is the risen Jesus leading us today?

Second thing to note, the disciples are called to exercise faith, and faith is seen in action. They’re not simply told what to believe, they’re told to go, go, go – do what Jesus has said. Respond in faith, get walking to Galilee is basically what the angel says. in the midst of what you are feeling this Easter, Jesus leads you on and He calls you to respond in faith. Faith that is seen in the choices and actions of your life, and what that looks like for each of us and for us as a group of churches could be myriad, but let’s remember our purpose, a purpose that is meant to be core to any and every follower of Jesus – to invite encourage and enable people of all ages to follow Jesus.

What does that look like in your life? How is that seen in your life? Do you need to step out in faith this Easter and maybe put this purpose into practice?

Because, lastly, whilst the Gospel of Mark abruptly ends at verse 8, it does not mark the end of the story. We know that the women respond in faith, they tell the disciples and, with the disciples, they go and meet with Jesus, and from them a movement is birthed across the world, and we here and at home are the outworking of that, of Christians across the generations who for 2 000 years have exercised faith, but now it’s our turn now, it’s our turn.

We continue the story and that’s true whatever age you are. You could be a child or a young person, or you’re never too young to respond in faith to Jesus and be part of telling others about Jesus, or you could be at the other end of the age spectrum or anywhere in between and if that’s you well two things: there’s no get-out clause, and there’s no retirement age.

In the kingdom of God it doesn’t matter how busy we may be or whatever excuse we may give, we’re all called, we’re all called and the truth is we need everyone, from the youngest to the oldest, every age group, every person needs to get involved because Jesus is leading us on, He is leading us on as a church, as Christians in this area, but it will take every one of us to fulfill our purpose every one of us so we all have a part to play,

Friends, this Easter, this Easter may not be the Easter we wanted or expected, we may not have the positive emotions of previous years, yet Jesus is alive, He leads us on, He’s not in the tomb and He calls us to respond in faith.

So, that the story continues in this generation and for generations to come, and so it’s up to us, it’s up to you here and you at home, will it continue? will we respond today in faith?

I pray that we will and so let’s pray just. Now let us pray.

I wonder how you need to respond today? Which part do you need to respond in faith today?

Do you need to respond in faith to the truth that Jesus is alive? Do you need to respond in faith that He leads you on and He’s not given up in you?

Do you need to respond in faith that you have a part to play? Where do you need to respond today?

Maybe you’re not a Christian. Remember, you’ve not been following Jesus for a long time and if that’s you I’d like to lead you in a prayer just now, to come to faith, put your faith in Jesus, to recommit yourself maybe if you’ve wandered and so, maybe just in the quiet of your mind or if you’re at home speak it out loud with me and I’ll lead you through a prayer just now.

Lord Jesus, I’m sorry for the things i’ve done wrong in my life, I’m sorry for wandering away from You.

I take a moment to name this Lord before You.

Please Jesus, forgive me. I now turn from everything that I know is wrong. Thank-you that You died on the cross for me, so that I could be forgiven and set free.

Thank-you that You offer me forgiveness and the gift of Your spirit. I now receive these gifts, please come into my life by Your Spirit to be with me forever. Thank-you Lord Jesus.

I wonder if you’re going to respond in faith in another way, in one of the other two ways, and let me lead you now in a prayer maybe for these things.

lord I hear Your call to have faith, to trust that You really are alive here, that You’ve not given up on me or your church, You’re not giving up on us or this world.

Lord, I hear Your call and though I may feel low today, though I may feel at the end of my rope, I trust, I respond in faith, and if You’re calling me to serve, Lord, because You call us all to serve, show me how and where,

and help me know that Your power is greatest when I am weak. don’t have to have it all together because it’s You working through us that will see this world changed. Lord, I’m ready to play my part in this generation and for the generations to come. Help me give my life like You gave Your life for me. I offer it now in worship and service of You and of Your purpose. Lead us Lord, lead me individually, lead us as a church, and as a group of churches across the Braes, and to all You have for us now and forever. Amen

If you responded in faith today for the first time, I encourage you to get in touch with me, drop me a message, grab me afterwards, however it be because it’s good to take that step in faith in prayer, but the next step is to tell someone, and I’m a really safe person to tell, honest! So, come and tell me, get in touch if you took that step of faith.