Lent – Reflection

                                     Ezekiel 37:1-14           

A Valley of Dry Bones The Lord took hold of me, and I was carried away by the Spirit of the Lord to a valley filled with bones. He led me all around among the bones that covered the valley floor. They were scattered everywhere across the ground and were completely dried out. Then he asked me, “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?” “O Sovereign Lord,” I replied, “you alone know the answer to that.” Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to these bones and say, ‘Dry bones, listen to the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Look! I am going to put breath into you and make you live again! I will put flesh and muscles on you and cover you with skin. I will put breath into you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” So I spoke this message, just as he told me. Suddenly as I spoke, there was a rattling noise all across the valley. The bones of each body came together and attached themselves as complete skeletons. Then as I watched, muscles and flesh formed over the bones. Then skin formed to cover their bodies, but they still had no breath in them. Then he said to me, “Speak a prophetic message to the winds, son of man. Speak a prophetic message and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, O breath, from the four winds! Breathe into these dead bodies so they may live again.’” So I spoke the message as he commanded me, and breath came into their bodies. They all came to life and stood up on their feet—a great army. Then he said to me, “Son of man, these bones represent the people of Israel. They are saying, ‘We have become old, dry bones—all hope is gone. Our nation is finished.’ Therefore, prophesy to them and say, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: O my people, I will open your graves of exile and cause you to rise again. Then I will bring you back to the land of Israel. When this happens, O my people, you will know that I am the Lord. I will put my Spirit in you, and you will live again and return home to your own land. Then you will know that I, the Lord, have spoken, and I have done what I said. Yes, the Lord has spoken!’”

Reflection

At a time when all of us are trying to bring together the tensions of being apart from friends and family but yet still communicating with others best we can. How appropriate is the lectionary reading for today? Ezekiel is speaking to Jews in exile, shortly after the fall of Jerusalem. Cut off from their homeland and their temple, they appear as a community from which life has gone, a valley of dry bones. Ezekiel asks the question “Can these bones live?” and by pointing to God as the giver of life and the giver of new life the answer is of course yes. As well as being a prophet, Ezekiel was also a priest. There is a powerful sense of his desire to remind and indeed encourage the people that God’s presence is as strong now as it was prior to the exile. Ezekiel proclaims again and again that even when all seems hopeless, when a sense of abandonment pervades the spirit, God promises restoration. He proclaims God’s message of hope, that God will never abandon them, he is the life-giver, he is to be trusted for he is the Lord. These are the kind of encouraging and uplifting words that the people in exile needed to hear. These are the kind of encouraging and uplifting words we need to hear today. Ezekiel spoke with wonderful imagery that caught the imagination. There cannot be a much more profound image than a pile of sun-bleached human bones lying in the parched desert as the wind whispers across them. And yet, the whisper of God’s life-giving breath was to blow across them, shuddering them into new life. We live in a world of inconsistencies, every time we put on the radio or TV the goal-posts are shifting at a moment’s notice. There is nothing new in that. History is full of such situations that often bring with them despair and disharmony. God breathes life and hope into the lives of people, there follows a new sense of commitment to action. From the depths of the deepest pain in the human heart, no matter where, no matter what, we are never out of calling distance from God. Whatever ways people are using to be gathered today in worship, we are reminded that God is breathing into our very beings, bringing new life and a fresh start. In my Crossing point in the Courier on Thursday I said that Lent can be a time of looking at our mortality and that realisation we are here on earth but for a season and not for eternity. Those journeying with Jesus did not know Easter Sunday lay at the end of all their trials and tribulations. This meant that for them their journey was completely different than ours today. Today were are led once again in this tension but there is a new ingredient thrown into the mix.

What hope do we have for all our forward planning? God’s Spirit is an ever present. Encouraging trust, bring life and hope.

Sunday 22nd March

Hi Folks,

If you have felt today is missing something by not having been to church can I recommend the following if you have BBC iplayer.

Reflections at the Quay

Songs of Praise 

For obvious reasons I am normally the person trying to open God’s word for his people on a Sunday and there are times as a minister I am left on a Sunday afternoon asking the question, ‘Where do I find my feeding?’

I can tell you with complete honesty right now I feel fed to full and overflowing.

Watching today’s Songs of Praise comes with a particular warning.

YOU MAY NOT GET THROUGH THE ENTIRE PROGRAMME WITHOUT  A FAMILY SIZED BOX OF TISSUES.

Praise God for there is hope at this time.

Praise God for there is light in this darkness.

Malcolm

Psalm 23

Psalm 23 is the Lectionary Psalm for this weekend, and an appropriate one for a time such as this, as we journey through Lent in unprecedented times for most of us. 

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul.

He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
I want to tell you this story that I once read.
Some years ago a very famous actor was at a social event.

Those present asked if he would recite something for the other guests.
He agreed and asked if there was anything special they would like to hear.

After a short gap an old minister asked for Psalm twenty three. The actor paused for a moment then said, ‘I will on one condition, when I am finished you will do the same.’

The minister pointed out he was no elocutionist but he would do it. The actor began the Psalm. His voice and pronunciation were perfect. He held the audience spellbound and as he finished a great round of applause went around the room.

As the applause died away the old man rose to his feet. His voice was not remarkable, his tone was not faultless, but when he had finished there was not a dry eye in the room. The actor rose and his voice quivered as he said, ‘Ladies and gentlemen, I reached your eyes and ears; this gentleman, he reached your hearts.

The difference is just this; I know the Psalm but he knows the shepherd’

National Day of Prayer Sunday 22nd March 2020

The Church of Scotland has joined with other religious groups across the country to sign a letter commending the Call for a National Day of Prayer in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Signatories include the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the United Free Church, the United Reformed Church, the Baptist Union of Scotland, the Methodist Church, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Congregational Federation in Scotland, the Salvation Army, the Church of the Nazarene, and Redeemed Christian Church of God.

Taking place on Sunday 22 March, people of faith are being encouraged to light a candle and place it in their window at 7pm.*

The letter asks that we “join in prayerful solidarity with this witness”, describing the candle as “a visible symbol of the light of life, Jesus Christ, the source of hope in this life.”

The following prayer can be used when lighting the candle:

For all that is good in life, thank you,
For the love of family and friends, thank you,
For the kindness of good neighbour and Samaritan stranger, thank you.

May those who are vulnerable, hungry or homeless, experience support,
May those who are sick, know healing,
May those who are anxious or bereaved, sense comfort.

Bless and guide political leaders and decision-makers, with wisdom,
Bless and guide health workers and key workers, with strength and well-being, Bless and guide each one of us, as we adapt to a new way of living.

And may the light shining from our windows,
across road and wynd, glen and ben, kyle and isle,
be reflected in our hearts and hands and hopes.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Featured

A prayer from Leslie Stewart, COS Recruitment and Support Secretary

Each new day
we celebrate what it is to be free –
to live our lives in fullness.
This is the eternal gift of God.

But freedom and fullness lives in the simple
⁃ in each breath we take
⁃ in knowing we have a roof over our heads
⁃ in the love of family and community
⁃ all the things we might usually take for granted…

Freedom also invites the gift of generosity
⁃ to continue to give where we can
⁃ to support one another as we are able and go the extra mile
⁃ to offer a welcome smile and forget the more formal handshake of yesterday
⁃ to be what we have always been called to be – human.

This is not a Church crisis, a worship crisis, nor a financial crisis
⁃ this is about the gift of life, which is for all, irrespective of birth, status or circumstances.

As we remember the most simple of these things, may we be inspired to renew calm, peace and hope in every new day. For in the midst of all storms a Presence is found, and freedom in Christ remains.

A Message from our Minister: Rev Malcolm Lyon

We are now all well aware of the immediate impact Coronavirus is having on our daily lives.

I met with our Session Clerk Mrs Maureen Talac and we had a very full and lengthy discussion on where we are and where do we think we need to be.

The first step for me as your minister is to write the following letter.

Please be aware you are all very much in my prayers and it is right and proper those who are in the most vulnerable category receive the highest priority of care but please be reassured all of us are precious to God and all of us are cared for and loved by Him without limit nor end.

I have urged all District Elders to keep in contact with the members of their district.

This contact should not be a physical contact but rather utilising emails or telephones or even social media pages.

Can I also inform you that a team of people have volunteered to offer practical help to those in need.

This help will not involve any extra personal contact but if and when required it, I hope, will help to alleviate any fears our people may be experiencing.

This help will not be driven solely on an age basis but rather on a needs basis as young and old will be affected as the weeks roll on.

If there is a need please contact your district elder, who in turn will contact either Maureen or myself, then we in turn can implement help if it is at all possible.

Can I reassure you that you may know you are neither forgotten nor alone in this.

As ever safeguarding is a major priority in our reaching out and we must remember many of the people we may be called upon to help will fall into the vulnerable people category and their well being, from every aspect, is of paramount importance.