Church of Scotland

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Thought for the Week

Sunday, 24 July 2022

We invite you to Pray through the Week with Dreghorn and Springside Parish Church.

This week we reflect on the prayer of praise, thanksgiving and confession from Rev Jamie's service in the church on 10 July 2022

Glorious God,

We thank You, we praise You for this day, this day that You have made, this day that You have given, the feeling of the warmth, of sunshine. We praise You for the glory of Your creation in its July abundance.

We praise You that we are part of Your creation, fearfully and wonderfully made.   Each one of us unique, each one of us loved completely by You, yet each one of us different.

We thank You for this love that You have.  A love that is so intense, that despite our turning away from You, our chasing our own dreams and flights of fancy, our hiding in the darkness, You did not leave us there.  Time after time in Your great love for us, You have come to us through the Law and the Prophets, Moses and Elijah, and all those others who bore Your word and professed Your ways. 

We confess that we ignored them, we confess that we murdered them, we confess that we did not want to hear what they had to say because we chose our own way, but as the light shines on this day so Your light continued to shine, and shone at its brightest through the light who was coming into the world, Jesus Christ. 

Such love, that led us towards You, and such love that gave us our way even when that was to hang You on a cross, that did not resist, but when we are to show the extent of Your love, and indeed also the extent of our depravity, that we would take the Lord God of the universe and all of the glory and wonder we see and so much more, and we would despise and reject Him and hang Him on a cross.

Such love!

Such love did not let him stay in the grave but rose from the dead.

Such love reached out at Pentecost and gave the Holy Spirit.

Such love prayed that we might be one so that the world might believe.

Such love showed us how to live in our relationships with each other

But we confess Lord God, that we have not lived in such love.  We still have not learned Your ways.   Lord God, we are sorry.  We are sorry for the mess that the world is in, and we are sorry for the part that we have played in that.

We are sorry that we have not spoken when we should have spoken, when we have not acted when we should have acted.

We are sorry that words when we have spoken them, sometimes have been words of division and hate, and when we have acted, it has been action to separate people rather than pull them together.

Lord God, help us to learn of Your love, and to live in Your love, that the world might see and know Your love among us and through us, in Jesus’ name.

Amen

You can enjoy the full service at:

https://www.Youtube.com/watch?v=Ulhn0Xl4QCA

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John 14:6 - (Jesus said)

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me

This is my favourite bible verse.  As Rev Jamie reflected in his recent sermons at Mure Relief and Dreghorn & Springside, we have managed over the centuries to splinter into different Christian practices, demonstrated in the many denominations of Christianity which exist, even within our own locality - and each of us thinks we are the one.  

We don’t have to look far in this country to see what division and in-fighting does.  It separates us, weakens us and sets us off on our own little power trip.  Yes, we may worship in different fashions, we may have different ways of ending our worship services, threefold Amen, or blessing one another in song, but these and similar trivialities should not cause division. 

As the Church of Scotland faces its challenges, especially here locally in Irvine, we have the perfect opportunity to regroup, reunite, and reflect the verse above.  Jesus is the only way.

There may be many who are expecting us to falter, for us to forget our basic doctrine of loving one another, accepting each other’s differences, and focusing on the love God has for us, but if you and I set aside our differences, really concentrate on what our faith means, what it brings to us, remember that Jesus is the way the truth and the life, we will not falter.

As Thought for the Week takes a short summer break, I pray that we will all return to this thought, and each do what we can to ensure that we build our church stronger, to be the jewel in the crown which reflects the light of Jesus Christ across Irvine in harmony with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  Amen

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Week Commencing 26 June 2022

Luke 6:49 - The one who hears my words and does not put them into practice is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation

For all of us, there will be times when troubles come. Sometimes we get advance notice, but usually not, something just happens unexpectedly and catches us unawares. Jesus stresses that we need a foundation to weather these storms; one that is built not just on hearing His word, but by living it out. That practice is almost like pouring concrete into our lives. When the troubles come, we can withstand them because we've been 'well-built'.  The absence of that practice leaves us vulnerable to collapse and destruction - it's the difference between being wise and being foolish.

Most of us have enjoyed a 'foundation' in the 'threepenny bit' church at the cross in Dreghorn - it has been a regular for us. However, we now must ask ourselves, if, and it is an 'if' at this stage, that foundation, that building, wasn't available to us, how would we continue to follow Jesus in public worship, praise, and prayer? To some extent, that has already been tested over the last couple of years.  Who would ever have thought that we would establish a 'virtual' church that we could log onto and enjoy just that? We need to ask ourselves, how strong is our will to meet with other Christians to practise public worship? This was mentioned in Rev Jamie's sermon on Sunday 26 June.

I hope and pray that Dreghorn & Springside Parish church will be one of the buildings that remains open, but wouldn't it be lovely, if the worst were to happen, and it was closed, that there would still be a worshipping community of Dreghorn & Springside folk making the effort to travel with Jesus, to continue our habit of public worship?

God Bless.

 

14 June was the Day of Prayer and just how much we need that!

This is a very poignant date for many people.  It is the 5th anniversary of the Grenfell disaster.  It is also the 40th anniversary of the cessation of the Falklands conflict.  We remember not only those who were lost but also those who survived and still bear the pain.

It was only a couple of weeks ago we were all united as we celebrated the Platinum Jubilee - we were "All Pals at the Palais". Now this week there are talks of strikes, walk-outs and totally absurd claims for wage increases.  What is wrong that people think they are justified to attempt to hold the country to ransom.   I appreciate the cost of living is rising almost daily but they are the fortunate ones who are able to earn a living.  Have they ever given a thought to those on a fixed income with no possibility of any increase.  The cost of their loaf of bread is just as much.

Perhaps instead of "grab all, give naught" we should learn to share what we have with those less fortunate.  This is the ethos of the Foodbank.  It is indeed sad that so many need to make use of it and would you really miss the cost of that packet of cereal.  It could make the difference of a child going to school hungry and being unable to fulfil their potential because of a rumbling tummy.

What did Jesus have to say "In as much as you did it for the least of these, you have done it for me",

There are so many things we need to hold in prayer.  We remember the conflict in Ukraine and ask that peace may return soon to that country.  We remember those in our village going through difficult days.  Just stop for a moment and give God thanks for the many blessings in your life.  Counting them you realise how well off you are.

A week without prayer makes one weak!

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Week Commencing 12 June 2022

If you missed last week's TFTW as the website was out of action for a time, you can see it if you scroll down. This week we continue to reflect on HM Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee

The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee took place from Thursday 2nd June until Sunday 5th June.  What a lovely long weekend that was. I felt that it brought us together as a truly United Kingdom.

Starting with the Trooping the Colour with the 1st Battalion Irish Guards, an impressive fly past, coinciding with the Royal Family’s balcony appearance, and to round off that first day, Her Majesty the Queen at Buckingham Palace lighting the Tree of Trees. This triggered the lighting of beacons by communities and different groups throughout the UK. and overseas Territories. Commonwealth beacons were lit in all 54 capital cities of the Commonwealth. So, it was a truly wonderful coming together around the world, celebrating 70 years of service by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second to the people of the United Kingdom, the Realms and the Commonwealth. We all enjoyed the next three days of thanksgiving and special events.

Not to be left out we here in Dreghorn celebrated with flags and bunting, the Welfare Committee arranged afternoon tea for the village pensioners in the Church Hall which was enjoyed by all in attendance rounding off with a vociferous rendition of God Save the Queen. The Church Events group hosted a Jubilee lunch in the hall after Sunday service, which again was thoroughly enjoyed.

Thinking of Jubilee, I had a browse on the internet wondering about references in the Bible. I found this:

“The Year of Jubilee is one of the most radical ideas in the Bible. A complete socio-economic refresh that was supposed to occur every fifty years in Israel. Jesus later claims to enact a Jubilee when he announces his ministry”

Also this:

“It is important to note that God owns everything. Anything he has given us, such as resources, crops etc. belongs to him. Therefore, the Israelites would dedicate this year of rest to him, acknowledging that God would provide for their needs.
From a practical standpoint; it also makes sense in terms of the land. Vegetation won’t grow if people overwork the land. Therefore by instituting years of rest, the land has time to recover and produce a bountiful harvest in future years to come.

In fact, part of the reason the Israelites went into captivity was that they didn’t observe these resting years (Leviticus 26). Because they didn’t trust that God would provide, and dedicate time to resting, they reaped the consequences.

God also instituted the Year of Jubilee as a foreshadowing for his future work on the cross. Through Jesus death and resurrection he relieves us of all spiritual debts and our slavery to sin. We are freed from both and can commune with our heavenly family. “

Psalm 27; v7, 9-10 NIV.
Hear my voice when I call, O Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.
Do not hide your face from me, do not turn your servant away in anger; you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, O God my Saviour. Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.

Amen.

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Week Commencing 5 June 2022

Romans 8:35 – Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? …….. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers ….. nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord

Many of us will have been watching or taking part in the events which have been organised to celebrate HM The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee – 70 years – what an achievement!

Whether you are for, or against, the monarchy, I don’t think that anyone can question the exemplary character of Queen Elizabeth II.  Her integrity, dedication, and faithful service which she has demonstrated throughout her reign of the UK and Commonwealth Countries is of a standard we rarely see these days, and we may never see again.

She may be considered by some to have been born into privilege, but regardless, throughout her life she has experienced many of the things that everyone experiences.  She lived and served through WWII, she has endured family break-ups and most recently, the loss of her beloved husband – all in the public eye.  No level of privilege can diminish the sorrow which comes with these normal life experiences. Throughout all, the Queen makes it clear that the one thing that gets her through is her strong faith in Jesus Christ. 

It has been reported that she reads her bible and attends church regularly, not just on the public occasions where she is seen going to Crathie Church while at Balmoral, or official occasions at St Paul’s Cathedral, or Westminster Abbey, but also privately when she is ‘in residence’ at other homes.

I have noticed in recent years, during her Christmas broadcast, that whilst acknowledging the multi-cultural nature of today’s United Kingdom, the Queen always focuses on her Christian faith.  She has seen many many changes throughout her reign, but her faith has not changed nor diminished. 

In fact, we are all continually experiencing change.  Only one thing remains constant, and that is the same for us all, regardless of where we are from – the love of God for us.   His constant love, presence and help are ours if we seek them.

I pray that we will all remember that, acknowledge it, and give thanks that throughout all change, we can rely on God’s love to remain the same and that nothing can take that away from us, whether Prince or Pauper!  

Amen

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Week Commencing 29 May 2022

2 Chronicles 7:14  Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven.

The other day my five-year-old grandson out of the blue asked, "Can you phone from heaven?"  (his papa had recently died and he was told papa had gone to heaven).  Caught off guard I replied, “I shouldn't think so".   Quick as a flash the inevitable question - Why - do you not have the password!  Out of the mouths of babes!

Well, I may not be able to phone FROM heaven, but I can certainly phone to it - no need for landline, WIFI, or charging up.  I have the password too.  Prayer, simple as that and what's more, it is a direct line.  No restriction on time AND it is free.  Jesus paid the cost at Calvary

Prayer is the most universally practised yet least understood of human experience. Prayer is one of the great mysteries of the Christian faiths... its simplest definition is communication with God.  Yet so often we approach prayer like a one-way telephone conversation, forgetting that God wants to speak to us.

The word Prayer appears on almost every page of the Bible as the very essence of our faith relationship with God.  It is through prayer we develop this intimate relationship with God who hears and cares for us.  While we bring things to God, we should never use it as a wish list.

Having conversations with my grandson is so refreshing as he sees the world through innocent eyes and an uncluttered mind and perhaps I should take a leaf out of his book and stop making my life so complicated by overthinking things.  One way I do switch off is in prayer, my lifeline, for without it I would not survive.  It is my strength in good times and bad.

Thank you, God, for always being at the end of the line.

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Week beginning 22 May 2022

Ascension Day

Ascension Day this year falls on May 26th. Ascension Day, often called the Feast of the Ascension of Jesus Christ and Holy Thursday is held on Thursday, 39 days after Easter Sunday. The day commemorates Jesus Christ’s ascension into heaven.

There is a lovely passage in the New Testament, Luke’s gospel, Ch 24 vv 13-49, it is entitled The Walk to Emmaus. It describes the walk home to Emmaus by two of Jesus’ followers who had been to Jerusalem and witnessed Jesus’ death on the cross and heard the story of the experience of the women finding the empty tomb where Jesus had been buried.

They met a stranger on the road and were relating to Him all these happenings. The stranger discussed these happenings with them, and the conversation turned to the stranger discussing the scriptures with them, beginning with the Books of Moses. As it was getting dark, they invited the stranger to stay the night at their home. At that point, when they all sat down to have a meal, the stranger took the bread, said a blessing, and gave it to them. At this point their eyes were opened and they recognised the stranger as Jesus himself. Jesus disappears and the couple immediately return to Jerusalem to let the other followers know they had seen the Risen Jesus. While the two were relating the story of their meeting with Jesus, He appears once more to all, eats some fish in their presence and talks with them.

This culminates in these verses:

Luke Ch 24 vv 50-53.

Jesus is Taken up to Heaven.

Then He led them out of the city as far as Bethany, where He raised his hands and blessed them. As He was blessing them, He departed from them and was taken up into heaven. They worshipped Him and went back into Jerusalem, filled with great joy, and spent all their time in the Temple giving thanks to God.

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Week beginning 15 May 2022

Sanctuary in Christ

Luke 5:16 – But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Do you have a ‘To Do’ List?  If you’re working, you probably do.  Equally, if you’re lucky enough to have your working life behind you, you are probably just as likely to be busy.  I’ve lost count of the number of retired people I know who say they don’t know where they found the time to work!

Whether your to do list is scribbled on a bit of paper, contained within a smart App on your phone, noted neatly in a diary, or just a list of things in your head, it’s important that one of the things on your list is time out with God!

In the busyness of this world, to really spend time in union with God, praying and listening, is crucial.  It’s tempting to ‘tick the God box’ by attending church every Sunday, placing our offering in the plate, or having our regular standing order in place, and then re-immersing ourselves in the melee of work / domesticity / socialising that each week brings.

If we are to mature and develop as Christians though, it takes more than the hour on a Sunday.

Setting aside time to do nothing other than speaking to God and listening for His inspiration can be far more beneficial than anything else.  It gives us time to quieten our minds, forget the stresses of this world and enter that place of sanctuary which renews and refreshes us, brings us closer to God and to knowing His purpose for us.

I pray that you will find time to consciously ‘switch off’ and tune into the rest and peace that is found only in the sanctuary of Christ our Saviour, Amen

 

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Week beginning 07 May 2022

CHANGE

Hebrews 13:8 - Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever

The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland will meet later this month. Over the last couple of years it has announced bombshells which are going to change the Church as we have known it forever. Some of these have been coming down the line for a few years, but not until they were knocking on the door was anything done. Like it or lump it we will have to change our outlook and react with our response. The Church no longer is central in the majority of lives, and this has impacted on the numbers attending Church, consequently income has fallen, there are fewer Ministers and many Churches have a vacant Charge and so the next item on the agenda is the number of buildings required to function effectively. There may be the attitude, well, that doesn't affect me, but yes, it does. We have to share what resources we have with our neighbours.

In many ways COVID has again changed lives forever. Many lost loved ones and the impact of not being able to say farewell and mourn as they would have wished will haunt them always. So many activities we enjoyed and took for granted were denied us and it is questionable if life can ever return to what it once was.

However, there is an upside to all this gloom, you opened your eyes this morning and you are reading this ‐ is that not a wonderful blessing? When we look at what is going on in the world, particularly Ukraine, with all the change around us, are we not the fortunate ones?

Let us resolve to grab every opportunity and make the most of every day granted to us. Life never did stand still and who knows what surprise might be hiding around the corner. There is One and He has never failed us. Put your hand in the hand of the man who guides us and He will see us through.

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Week beginning 01 May 2022

I was reading Quiet Time, Daily Devotional Meditations for a Whole Year, by George B. Duncan. I came across this entry for May.

A Spreading Fragrance.

We are unto God a sweet savour of Christ.

2 Corinthians 2:15.

J.B. Phillips translates the verse “through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of Him everywhere. We Christians have the unmistakable scent or (fragrance) of Christ.”

It is Rita Snowden who tells a delightful story of holidaying on one occasion in Devon. She was sitting at the window in the house where she was staying and suddenly the air seemed to fill with fragrance. It was so noticeable, so striking, that she asked herself where on earth it could be coming from. She looked out of the window and all she could see were ordinary people walking up and down the street. She went out, and the fragrance was stronger than ever. So she inquired, “Where does this fragrance come from?” The hostess of the house said, “Don’t you know? These people all work in a perfume factory. They live in the fragrance all day, and when they come out at lunch time, they bring the fragrance with them.”

Do we bear the fragrance of Christ so that wherever we go there is something different about us that makes people want to follow and find the secret?

“We Christians,” said Paul, “have the unmistakeable fragrance of Christ.” I wonder if we do!

Food for thought.

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Week beginning 24 April 2022

1 Corinthians 12:6 – There are different abilities to perform service, but the same God gives ability to all for their particular service.

Thought for the Week? I struggled this week to define one thought for us to focus on this week. There is so much going on. So much change occurring across the church of Scotland, and locally.

Soon the Presbytery of Irvine and Kilmarnock, which has been our court that made decisions that directly affect each of our local churches, will amalgamate with the other presbyteries in Southwest Scotland – 5 or 6, I’m not entirely sure, and will form one large Presbytery, a huge change.

More locally, the Irvine, Dreghorn and Girdletoll churches are set to unite into one single Irvine Church. It all seems too much to take in, and we wonder how on earth it will operate.

Other changes which can only be for the better, are the opportunities which are available to us now to grow in our spirituality. Never before, have I known the variety of activities that we can choose to take part in as part of our Christian life:

Monthly Bible Study
Monthly Prayer Group
Opportunity to undertake the Journey 22 Group
Exploration of discipleship
Engagement with outreach mission through the Crossing Together initiative

And these are only the opportunities available in Dreghorn & Springside Parish Church. Many other opportunities are available across all the Irvine Churches.

The church as we know it is changing – and many of us might feel that we are being dragged kicking and screaming into this new way of church. Change is difficult, but when you look at how churches have been closing across Scotland for years, we have been very lucky. We had one Union over 20 years ago, and have been relatively unscathed since then. We were one of the only churches in the Presbytery to be allowed to call a minister following Gary’s retiral, even if it did take some time; most of the other churches remain vacant or have united. We should be thankful to God for that. But there is a severe pruning taking place within the Church of Scotland, and every member and minister is affected.

As every gardener knows, pruning is essential and can be brutal. When you compare the beautiful rose bush alive with exquisite and fragranced blooms to the pruned example, it looks drastic, and that’s what we are facing. We can, though, be sure that from that pruned example, beauty and fragrance will once again flourish. Just as we can be sure through our faith in God that the pruning the church is undergoing will see the same growth and will flourish.

We must all however, play our part. We must ensure that we don’t allow ourselves to be like dead wood and be cut back; we must cultivate our own fresh green growth, and there is plenty of opportunity for that if we only take advantage of it. It is no longer enough to dedicate all our time and energy into the temporal needs of the church, we must address the spiritual needs.

I pray that we will all identify ways that we can grow as Christians and show the love of God to all around us, and trust that God has anointed those who have the skills to lead us through this time of change.

Amen

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Week beginning 17 April 2022

John 3:16 - For God so  loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes  in him will not perish but have eternal life.

 

Spring is a beautiful time of year - earth is re-awakening after the long winter rest.  The early mornings are a joy with the dawn chorus of little birds so happy to share their song with us, buds of cherry blossom are bursting forth to join the spring flowers in full bloom.  Nature is so wonderful.  Aĺl of this just happens, thanks to Father God

But it is not just nature that receives new life.  We too are offered eternal life and Easter Sunday is the fulfilment of that promise.  Aŕe we making the most of that life given to ùs, do we give God our daily thanks for each day, for the many blessings showered on ús, the love surrounding us.   What can we do to make life a little better for our fellow man?

At this time religion is a "Ño-No"  in so many lives, the Church of Scotland is in a state of flux, and locally the immediate future holds big changes.  Ìf we are to enjoy that Life promised to all, then clearly we must make the most of our talents and share them in the ways gifted to us.  There are many opportunities on our doorstep.  We don't need to be an evangelist to spread the Word, we can be seen in our daily actions to live that Life so freely given to us.

Easter isn't all about eggs and chickens, for us it is the reminder that Jesus surrendered on the Cross and to those who accept Him a second chance at Life and eternal life with Him forever.

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Week Commencing 10 April 2022

John 14:6 I am the way, the truth and the life.

Can you imagine living through this coming week, Holy Week, as we know it, as one of Jesus’ disciples?  He had spoken of His coming death, but what must it have been like not only for Jesus, of course, but for His beloved friends and disciples to have witnessed the ugliness, the humiliation, pain, suffering and final crucifixion of our Lord Jesus Christ.  At that point, they hadn’t seen the magnificence of His resurrection, which keeps us going, gives us purpose.

It can be difficult in life to see any beauty come from ugliness.  I was reminded this week, when celebrating the life, and mourning the passing of Margaret, a stalwart of Dreghorn & Springside Parish Church, that one of her many talents was the beautiful cross stitch creations she made.  This may be trivial in comparison, but I was reminded in turn, of something I read years ago, and you have probably read too, that sometimes a thing of beauty is underpinned by a vision of chaos and disorder, like the underside of a tapestry or cross-stitch picture.

Looking at the underside with its mishmash of tangles, knots, loose ends and straggly bits, it can be hard to visualise the beauty of the full picture on the flipside, yet the disorder of the underside is necessary to produce the beauty on the other side.

The beauty of Christ’s resurrection is only a glimpse of the greater beauty still to come. It gives us great hope, but it is not the whole picture.  We are still experiencing some of the underside – the ugliness of this world, but as we contemplate the sadness through Holy Week, rejoice on Easter Sunday as we revel in the resurrection, let’s be even more gladdened by the prospect of the revelation of the full beauty, peace and fulfilment of our faith in everlasting life in Christ, which is in store for us.

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Week Commencing 03 April 2022

Towards the end of last week we had some lovely sunny and warm weather. Thoughts turned to working in the garden, at least mine did. I must say I enjoy working outdoors, enjoying God’s wonderful creation which, when He had finished creating it, He formed us to live in and to enjoy. All that was needed from us, was our gratitude and adherence to His laws. However we turned away from this wonderful creator and lived our own selfish ways, shutting Him out.

As I loosen the impacted soil around my plants, making sure they have room to grow and blossom, tying up and providing support for when the rain and wind comes, as it will inevitably do in this northern hemisphere, so that they will have some protection. The birds singing, the blackbird and robin who watch what I am doing, then cheekily dart in to nab an unsuspecting worm, or pick up some piece of straw or moss to line their nests I think of God who made all of this wonderful universe. The God who provides for us, who asks for our trust.

Then as often happens I am reminded of all the terrible things going on in our own land and in lands further afield. Where man’s inhumanity to man takes a hold and dreadful things happen. Instead of living in a world of harmony as God intended, we let sin into our lives and disharmony rules.

Let us all make an effort to act kindly and generously towards our fellow man. To practise what our Lord Jesus taught in the Bible. To forgive those who cause us hurt. To go that extra mile, to turn the other cheek. As John F Kennedy said in his inaugural speech,

“Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country.”

Personally I would replace the word country with God. As the prophet Isaiah wrote in chapter 58 verse 6;

Remove the chains of oppression and the yoke of injustice, and let the oppressed go free. Share your food with the hungry and open your homes to the homeless poor. Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear, and do not refuse to help your own relatives.

In fact if you turn to the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament and read the whole of chapter 58 you will find a message there for all of us follow.