Tag Archives: love

Sunday 13th November

Readings

Proverbs 31 This little bit out of an acrostic poem likens God’s Wisdom to a woman of strength and substance (not a perfect one!) with practical love. 1 Thessalonians 5 encourages alertness in life but reassurance. Matthew 25 encourages us to use our gifts.

Homily

This built the parallel between the practical know-how of God’s gift of love to the study about the need of reasonable (not perfect) parenting to give child in the first three years the comfort and reassurance for growth of emotional intelligence in the scary world which Remembrance Sunday highlights. Thus “The Spiders of Allah”/James Hider and “The topography of terror” about Nazi Germany. Positive contributions to Remembrance Sunday arise too from lived experience, thus the music of PJ Harvey and then Robin Gibb with The Soldiers. Even Sassoon, however, was this week revealed to be writing about the senselessness and glorification of war at the same time! Two stories were used to highlight the contradictions. First the two soldiers in the trenches holding on to one another in the bombardment and discovering they were German and British! Then the woman at the end of the horror of the siege of Leningrad about to kill a German with a brick and instead giving him bread!

Prayers

These opened out from the sick and the anniversary of Rachel McKenzie to the quake in Turkey, the floods elsewhere, Remembrance in all its aspects and our own work for peace.

Sunday 4th September

Homily

The reading form Ezechiel 33 challenged us to take up responsibility for others (Sentinel, watchman). Romans 11 pointed to the Hillel summary of the law in love of God and one another. Matthew 18 brings together three excerpts to help communities and families with disputes.

The realism of Matthew only fifty years after the Resurrection is strangely comforting. The homily brought together this challenge with Paulo Coelho’s latest book ‘Aleph’, as he returns to his roots in the face of doubts. The book begins with ‘Oh no, not another ritual.’  What has it got to do with the world of today: graduates with no job; retired with a poor pension: grown ups with no time to dream and need to face “harsh reality”: and the divided world. In response he reflects on our encounter with fears and shortcomings, the search for love and forgiveness, the courage to confront the inevitable challenges of life, but the hope on the journey that endings give each of us the opportunity for a rebirth.

Prayers

Amid the needs and challenges of the world we remembered little Ian who had a major operation during the night.

Sunday 14th August

Homily

The Readings were first from Isaiah 56 with the third writer in Isaiah’s tradition opening the hope after the Exile to all nations. Romans 11 has Paul combining his vision for the Gentiles with his love for his own people. Matthew 15 pictures Jesus uneasy in pagan territory learning from the Canaanite woman’s faith that his mission was not just for the Jews but for all peoples.

The Homily contrasted this vision of salvation for all with the despair of the riots. The programme on Forth this morning was the story of Father Gerry Hughes building bridges with people of every faith and none. This week too is World Youth Week with a million young people. The feast of the Assumption reminds us of hope for new life for all who die. And the Edinburgh Festival with the plays of Murray Watts, the Wode exhibition at the University Library, the Festival of Spirituality at St John’s and the City Arts Centre Exhibition shows faith in dialogue.

 Prayers

The Prayers took in the riots, the famine in Africa, the Festival, the World Youth Day and the needs of the parish community.

Sunday 7th August

Homily

1 Kings, 19 gives us the story of Elijah in conflict with the Gods of fire, storm and earthquake and finding God in the gentle breeze.

Romans 9 has Paul wrestling with the turmoil of his love for the Jews who had rejected Jesus. Matthew’s account of the quelling of the storm is the story of faith in the midst of turmoil – again the powers of the world – with the struggle of the faith that trusts – Peter, eventually.

The homily contrasted the turmoil of the Tottenham riots, the repression in Somalia deepening hunger, Afghanistan, the Middle East and the financial storms – with inevitable suffering for the poor – with the finding of peace of the God who wants us to stand outside the power struggles and ‘not just keep our head while all around are losing theirs’ but more deeply find peace in prayer and quiet moments with God.

Prayers

Apart from the mention of individuals like the Reverend Norman Macrae and those caught in personal storms, we remembered the pupils with their exam results, the starving in Africa and the victims of war, the old and the victims of the current financial pressures.

Sunday 3rd July

Homily

The readings were from Zechariah with his vision of a ruler coming riding on a donkey, Romans 8 with Christ’s love making a home in the baptised person, and Matthew 11’s contrast between the people with guile and the people who realise their need of God, like children.

The homily reflected on the ‘Clever’ of Edinburgh Council making decisions about trams which they admit the people object to, and involving cuts to the poorest people, as in Aberdeen, in greatest need.  The Queen’s opening of parliament highlighted the contrast with politicians.  In parallel, there is the ethnic cleansing in the south of Northern Sudan, as in Darfur, while the Christian South celebrates independence.   And the wise of the world do nothing.  All a focus for prayer and reflection for families and politics alike.

Prayers

The Prayers asked for faith in a God who can work for the poor and helpless against the guile of the self-seeking in the world.  We prayed for the many in the parish who are sick, and for those who care for them.   We linked our loved ones who have died with our daily concerns.   And we opened out to Sudan.

Sunday 19th June

Homily for Trinity Sunday

On the basis of Exodus 24 with the covenant, II Corinthians 13 with the Blessing of the Trinity, and John 3’s dialogue with Nicodemus about love, the homily went on to situate Father’s Day in the complex of God-given relationships in which we find God’s reflection. The challenge of Professor Mona Siddiqui on ‘Thought for the Day’ about all power being flawed if not based on listening and all leadership over long term tending to become delusional was brought to us all. Professor John Haldane’s editorship of a book on an Australian conference on Faith, ethics and community explored with soldiers the dramatic contrast between the brazen exterior and the inner doubt. Finally, the epilogue of James P Mackey’s  ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ was used to illustrate the danger of distorting the Fatherhood and nature of God, the ‘brutal piety of the pulpit’ with both Catholic and Protestant preachers seeing the condemning God rather than the transforming God of love.

Prayers

These focussed on Syria, world peace, the sick and our loved ones who have died, all in the light of our reflecting God’s inner life of love and giving.

Sunday 22nd May

Homily

The reading from Acts about the resolution of the dispute between Hellenists and traditional Jewish converts by the creation of deacons gave a backcloth for prayer for the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland as it debates homosexual ministers.
The baptismal challenge from I Peter about building the one Christ was illustrated by the protests of young people in Spain and Oscar Romero stressing ‘we are workers not master builders’.  John 14 brought us Christ as the way, the truth and the life asking us to move from being listeners to doers.   Jesus departing, preparing a place for us and returning, highlighted the foolishness of the ‘Last day’ panic in America yesterday but also the fundamental reason why we need not be anxious or troubled.  A final challenge came from a poem about ‘good manners’ coming not from education but from Christ’s genuine respect and love for the whole of humanity.

Prayers

Special mention was given to the health crises of Ann Murphy and Marguerite O’Donnell, our loved ones who have died and the issues of peace in our world.   And the church assemblies.

Sunday 1st May

Homily

The readings were from Acts, 1 Peter and John 20, 19 with all three stressing koinonia, the joy of union together with the Risen Christ.
The homily contrasted the joy of the crowds at the royal wedding and the dreariness of the language and theology of the marriage service.   Carol Ann Duffy’s collection of poems on the vows in the Guardian opened up a different perspective on the theology of marriage with Wendy Cope, Jackie Kay, Roger McGough and Andrew Motion being highlighted.  The love of giving made possible by the love that is given to us linked to the beatification of Pope John Paul II in Rome, with the similar challenge of bringing the joy of the crowds outside into the liturgy inside.   In the light of Karl Rahner’s definition of a saint as a creator of a new pattern of Christian living, the homily opened out the Pope’s life through Cardinal O’Brien.

Prayers

We prayed for Tommy and Alan who are ill, Tommy McBride and Mary Farrell who have died.   We prayed for the royal couple, all married couples and those in relationships.   We prayed for the misery of places like Libya, Ivory Coast, Syria and Afghanistan.  We prayed that we might bring the joy of the crowds to our imitation of Pope John Paul II in creating new patterns of Christian living despite his faults with sex abuse cover-up and our faults.

Sunday 24th April

Homily

The homilies of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter focussed on the triumph of the cross in John’s Passion and the transformation of our frailty and world violence through the hope Christ brings.   This was illustrated by Daniel O’Leary and the ‘face to face with the Risen Christ’ paintings of Rembrandt, the self-giving of Shahbaz Bhatti in Pakistan, Gerry Straub with the contrast of the mud cakes of Haiti with the kite of the children, and Gillian Coxhead with Easter love living at unexpected addresses.   Karl Rahner challenged us to link our worship with real life.  Rowan Williams demanded we remember that all power exists to protect those who have no ability to protect themselves.   The elections?  Two poems from Jo McFarlane in ‘Coming up for air’ suggested that Easter begins with learning to love ourselves before being able to take the love of the risen Christ to others.

Prayers

We remembered Gladys Simpson and Johnnie White from the village, and Tommy McBride – once of St Joseph’s – and Jack Kelly’s anniversary.   We prayed for Ena Kelly, Mr Ryan and all the sick.  We opened our thoughts to the young and a world which so needs the happiness and joy of the Risen Christ to transform our frailty, suffering and lack of hope.

Sunday 20th March

Homily

The readings featured Abram’s dilemmas of leaving home from Ur of the Chaldees to follow the Fertile Crescent into the unknown.  By hindsight into the ‘promised land’ and Abraham, father of nations.  Then Timothy is pictured in the dilemmas of second generation Christianity finding strength by going back to Christ’s death into resurrection. Finally we had Matthew’s version of the dilemmas of the apostles and Christ himself on the way to death and resurrection: the human opening out to transfiguration.
Dilemmas and resolution by hindsight find parallels in the feasts of the past week.   Patrick returning with Christ’s love to the people who enslaved him.  Joseph – and Father’s Day in Spain – with the dilemmas of fathers today.  Peter’s frescoes in the catacombs of his denial. Finally the dilemmas of aid to persecuting Pakistan, the no-fire zone and bombing in Libya, and the tensions elsewhere.  CS Lewis, on becoming a Christian ‘kicking, struggling, resentful’!

Prayers

For Libya, Japan, New Zealand, Bahrain and the Yemen.
For the dilemmas of leadership in the church and state.
For the sick, especially Janet and John McHenery’s Mum.
For loved ones who have died -  Canon Roy Flatt  in his priesthood and connection with the Macrae Family, Janet Williams with a difficult but precious life.   And the anniversaries of Marie Devaney and Ellen Taylor.