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Thought for the Week

Sunday, 15 May 2022

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

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.

 

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Week Commencing 20 March 2022

Psalm 102:28 - Their children’s children will thrive in your presence. Faith in God is the most important inheritance we can pass to future generations.

MOTHERS DAY

We are reminded today, as if we need reminding, what a special place our Mothers hold in our lives, and today is an opportunity to show our appreciation. But should it really need a special Day to say, “Thank You”. Sadly it was not until I became a mother myself did I realise what an impact she had on my life, and by that time it was too late to say, “Thank You”. As a mother you have a very privileged job in life and we should never under-estimate the hard work involved, and in our world today it isn’t at all easy.

My heart aches today for all Ukrainian mothers separated from their families, seeing their sons forced to take up arms to defend their country, seeing their child injured and traumatised, having their baby born in such appalling circumstances.

When you leave your Mum today, give her an extra big hug, when you kiss your child goodnight, give an extra big kiss, and give God “Thanks” you have the freedom to do so.

None of us knows the day or the hour, so treat every day as if it is your last and don’t put off what you can do today. Let Ukraine be a reminder of just how precious but fragile life is.

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Week Commencing 13 March 2022

As I was thinking of all the troubles and conflicts in today’s world, I thought, could there be a prayer for those caught up in the terrible atrocities unfolding daily. I turned to Psalms in the Good News Bible and turned to Psalm 54 entitled:

A PRAYER FOR PROTECTION FROM ENEMIES.

Save me by your power, O God;
Set me free by your might!
Hear my prayer O God;
listen to my words!
Proud men are coming to attack me;
cruel men are trying to kill me -
men who do not care about God.

But God is my helper,
The Lord is my defender,
May God use their own evil to punish my enemies.
He will destroy them because he is faithful.

I will gladly offer you a sacrifice, O Lord;
I will give you thanks because you are good.
You have rescued me from all my troubles,
and I have seen my enemies defeated.


Amen.

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Week Commencing 06 March 2022

Matthew 6:28 Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work to make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are, and if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you.

We have certainly had our fair share of inclement weather over the last few weeks - never two days the same, in fact some days not even two hours. Yet despite that my garden is full of colour with snowdrops, crocus, primroses and standing proud over all are the tall daffodils. I believe that is because their roots are so deeply embedded they can withstand what ever the weather throws at them.

There is a lesson there for us. If our faith is deeply rooted in Jesus, we don’t have to fear what life throws at us.

How the people in Ukraine must be holding that promise close to them just now. None of us can even begin to imagine what it must be like to have to face this horrendous ordeal and, God willing we never will. Those of us old enough to remember Wartime recall the fear and anxiety for loved ones caught up in conflict, the constant worry and dread of the knock on the door. How much more so for the Ukrainians, who minding their own business, find themselves the target of this despot. They are innocents in all of this and must be wondering where is God to allow such things to happen. The answer is that God made mankind and it is mankind who bring such evils upon each other. We have been given gifts and it is our choice how we choose to use them.

What part do we play in all of this. We support by praying for an immediate end to this conflict with no more loss of life. We pray also for peace across all nations. Prayer is our most powerful tool in all adversity. That is one of the gifts the Father gave mankind.

As you look out your window in freedom and enjoy the spring flowers, stop, say a little prayer, remember our brothers and sisters unable to do so, and give thanks to God.