EDINBURGH NORTHWEST KIRK
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
(1 John 4 : 10 - 12)
Some prayer topics for November -
Continue to pray for the Nominating Committee as they seek to appoint a new minister to serve the Northwest Kirk parish. Pray for wisdom, discernment and unity of purpose in all their discussions. Pray for a suitable appointment, someone who is ready to embrace the challenge of our new joint parish.
(The following 4 prayers are taken from “Together We Pray”, the Church of Scotland booklet of November 2018 - Prayer for our congregations.)
We pray for our congregation
May worship be truthful, passionate and honouring to you.
Whether in ancient hymns or new songs,
May we unite in praise and offer our whole lives
as worship to you.
In our life together may we encourage
Where there is struggle,
Celebrate where there is joy,
grow together in our understanding of The Good News,
Be unafraid to challenge,
Honest enough to confess our mistakes
And may we remain hopeful
As we dream dreams.
In our mission make us bold and adventurous.
In our weakness may we know your strength.
May we have the great joy of seeing others come to faith in you.
May we be resilient in our pursuit of justice
And have the humility to share in the work with others.
May our congregation be a place
Where the gifts of many are united in common purpose,
Where all are allowed to flourish and be valued,
Where together we are built into a dwelling place
for the Holy Spirit, as together we grow in love.
This month prayer is requested for the ministry of Cunningham House in Edinburgh. Cunningham House offers supported hostel accommodation for men and women experiencing homelessness in Edinburgh. Pray for staff and service users in this important ministry.
Pray for the intolerable situation in the Middle East where the death toll continues to rise at such an alarming rate. There does not appear to be any appetite for a ceasefire and the extent of suffering of innocent people is causing much anguish. Pray for world leaders and negotiators in their desire to help alleviate such suffering. Pray for peace.
During this month of Remembrance, pray for members of the armed forces who are deployed on behalf of the country, some in hostile environments and others in humanitarian and peacekeeping roles. Pray also for chaplains who minister to them. Pray too for those in rehabilitation programmes and care residences that they will benefit from the financial support raised during November.
Reflection on John chapter 11: Raising of Lazurus
Rowan Williams former Archbishop of Canterbury
I want to speak for a few minutes about the Gospel reading we have just heard, because in so many ways it’s a deeply challenging, even shocking story. The reading begins with one of the sharpest cries of criticism and protest against Jesus that we meet anywhere in the Gospels. If you had been here, says Mary accusingly, my brother would not have died. So where were you? In the wake of any kind of suffering, disaster and loss, it's the question that springs to the lips of all of us. And even if God were sometimes to intervene, to lift the burden of disaster, to prevent something happening, we would then meet the second great cry of protest and criticism, which comes from the bystanders of the story. ‘He opened the eyes of the blind, couldn’t he have stopped this man from dying? He does this miracle, why doesn’t he do a few more?’ So right at the start of this reading, God in Jesus Christ is on trial. It’s a theme that runs through the Gospel of St John, in fact. Again and again Jesus appears to be in the dock. He is facing criticism, he is facing challenge. In the great climax of Chapter 19 of the Gospel he faces his trial before Pilate and eventually falls silent, faced with Pilate’s question, ‘What is truth?’. But here in Chapter 11, it’s as if the personal feeling of countless human hearts is given expression. ‘'If you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ And so where were you? The first thing that we might take from the Gospel reading, therefore, is that God doesn’t seem to want to silence our questions. Jesus doesn’t round on Mary and say, ‘Shut up, you don’t know what you’re talking about’; he doesn’t say, ‘Don't ask me awkward questions’. What does he say? He says, ‘Take me to where the body is. Take me to where it hurts most.’ ‘Come and see’, says Mary. And when our cries of protest rise to God about suffering in our own lives, suffering in the world, suffering in our neighbours, that’s the challenge of the Gospel. Are we able, like Mary, to say, ‘Come and see. Come on God, come on Jesus, I’ll take you to where it hurts most. I lay bare my heart, my circumstances to you. Come and see.’ God does not shut us up, God does not say, ‘Don’t ask awkward questions’, but he invites us to invite him to see, to witness. And what happens next in what is famously the shortest verse in the Bible is that Jesus wept. Not only does he not say to Mary, ‘You don't know what you’re talking about.’ He doesn’t even say, ‘Well actually, I have an explanation for all this. If you’ll just sit down for half an hour, I’ll explain the universe to you so that it all becomes perfectly clear, and you can see why it was absolutely natural and inevitable that your brother died.’ Often of course, when people say they’d like explanations of suffering, they don’t really mean it. Because if you said that to them, ‘Sit down for a moment and I’'ll explain the universe to you, and you will see why there’s no problem at all’, do you think people would thank you for that? Jesus doesn’t explain. He weeps. His first reaction is that he has indeed come and seen. And he weeps. He expresses his solidarity, his absorption of the pain. He says, ‘This is mine too’. Jesus says, ‘I am not a God who lives far away in a distant heaven to whom all these sufferings on earth are a matter of indifference. What touches you, touches me, and I am going to be there where it hurts most. And you invite me to be with you where it hurts most. Know that I carry that grief in my love.’
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