Sunday Worship - Clackmannan Parish Church

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Sunday Worship

Below is the transcript of today's service. Remenber that if you prefer to attend our Sunday morning worship in church that a booking system is currently working. Find more details here.

This will continue for the foreseeable future
Clackmannan Parish Church of Scotland

Sunday 1st August 2021

 Hymn CH4 702 Lord in love and perfect wisdom  
God of unity and peace,
bind us together
as we come now to worship.
Strengthen the ties
that make us your family.
Grant us the grace to recognize our gifts
and our place in this body.
Guide us to hear your calling
as you speak to our lives.

Have mercy on us,
O God of love and grace.
Wash away the thoughts
and erase those actions
that lead us away from you.
Have mercy upon us
when we speak without love
or act without humility.

Dwell in our very hearts,
that we may serve in humility—
Build us up in love,
that we may grow in our knowledge
and our love of you.
Speak your truth to our lives,
that we may lead lives
worthy of your calling.
Be assured, that as our bread of life,
Christ nurtures and sustains us.
Because we believe, we need never hunger
or thirst for mercy.
Forgiveness is ours, both now and forevermore.
And now in the words Jesus taught, let’s say together Our Father….
Our Father, who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name;
thy kingdom come;
thy will be done;
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever.
Reading 2 Samuel 11:26-12:13
26 When the wife of Uriah heard that her husband was dead, she made lamentation for him.
27 When the mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife, and bore him a son.
Nathan Condemns David
But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord,
12 1 and the Lord sent Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, ‘There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor.
2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds;
3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meagre fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him.
4 Now there came a traveller to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.’
5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die;
6 he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’
7 Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: I anointed you king over Israel, and I rescued you from the hand of Saul;
8 I gave you your master’s house, and your master’s wives into your bosom, and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah; and if that had been too little, I would have added as much more.
9 Why have you despised the word of the Lord, to do what is evil in his sight? You have struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword, and have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the Ammonites.
10 Now therefore the sword shall never depart from your house, for you have despised me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.
11 Thus says the Lord: I will raise up trouble against you from within your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes, and give them to your neighbour, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this very sun.
12 For you did it secretly; but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun.’
13 David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan said to David, ‘Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die.
 Hymn CH4 519 Love divine, all loves excelling
Gie yer heid a wobble!
You need to have a good look at yersel!
When I was teaching, these were favourite sayings of one of my bosses to a recalcitrant child.
Usually, the child had done something very foolish, often unthinking and always letting him or her self down quite spectacularly.
It was an admonition that drastic change – particularly in attitude – was required, and urgently.
It always put me in mind of Rabbie Burns’ poem “To a Louse”, particularly the final verse:
“O, wad some Power the giftie gie us.
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us,
An' ev'n devotion!”
All these sayings are a plea for self-reflection. They demand of us to look in the mirror and see what is reflected there.
It is a chance for us to see what others see.
It is a chance for us to take stock, to have another think, to double-check if we are on the right path, to see if we are being true to ourselves, to see if we are what God intends us to be.
Self -reflection is good. It should be something that we should all practice, not only in our faith lives, but in most things that we do.
A reflective person is someone who keeps checking what they are doing in light of what they believe. It is someone who takes time to reflect on their faith and the world around them.
It is all very well to state this clearly and without expectation of contradiction, but like most things that are really good it is something that is more difficult than it seems.
Life is easier in compartments, especially when we suspect that what we are doing does not stack up to our own moral code, or beliefs or requires us to do a little extra thinking.
We are flawed human beings. Sometimes our actions can have serious effects on ourselves. Sometimes our actions can have serious effects on others. Sometimes our actions can have serious effects on both.
David was a flawed human being as we are told in the shocking story in 2 Samuel 11:1-15. His lust had serious consequences for others and for himself.
Here we are told that his lust overcame any self-reflection. He saw a beautiful woman – Bathsheba – bathing. And he wanted her. And he got her.
He wanted her because she was beautiful. And he was powerful, so what he wanted he got.
A powerful person abused their position and took advantage of others for his own sexual gratification.
And too often sexual violence and other forms of physical violence are frequently about asserting power and domination. And, it is rare that such violence finds justice for the victims.
And to cover up his crime, he had Bathsheba’s husband killed – because he could. Because he was powerful.
But in today’s reading David has been found out.
He was blind to his own narcissistic leadership, manipulating people in order to satisfy his own sexual desires over Bathsheba.
The fact it takes Nathan to tell him in explicit terms what he has done shows someone who has lost any sense of value.
Nathan tells an allegorical story to drive home his message.
He contrasts a rich man, with many sheep and cattle, with a poor man, who had only one lamb which was like a daughter to him.
One day, the rich man has to entertain a guest – but rather than slaughter one of his own animals, he took the poor man’s lamb instead.
On hearing the story and being roused to anger, David condemns himself with his own words, “I swear by the living Lord that the man who did this ought to die! For having done such a cruel thing, he must pay back four times as much as he took.”
The tension is further heightened when Nathan utters those devastating words, “You are that man!”
Nathan has prodded David into convicting himself and condemning his own actions.
Nathan now reminds David of all God has given him.
First and foremost, God chose David, a shepherd boy, and had him anointed to be king over Israel. Only God's providence had created a king out of a shepherd.
And, as Nathan continues, it was the Lord, not David's strength or skill, who made the triumph over Saul possible.
As if these miraculous interventions weren't enough, Nathan continues to list all the blessings in David's life. Not only has David received the power of kingship and the glory of triumph from the Lord's hand, David has also grown personally wealthy.
Nathan reminds David that all the goods, all the royal trappings that the king now enjoys were also provided by God.
Finally, in verse 9 Nathan slams home the word of judgment which David has earned.
Nathan's accusation is carefully worded. It brings together all of David's vile actions under one true sin that David "despised the word of the Lord."
Revelling in the power and prestige that God had given him, David forgot his absolute dependence upon God.
And so it is with us.
How often do we bring God into our decision making?
How many of us decide that something is right or wrong because it fits into a compartment we support, or do not.
How many of us have railed against the government – of whatever hue – in the past week because of decisions taken or not taken, based on our own prejudice?
How many would take the knee or not? Why do we think this?
And so on.
Sometimes if we reflect on these things, even in private we can begin to change our minds, or sometimes we keep them the same because we cannot be wrong.
Some of the decisions we make will be excellent and some may not be. Some may even take us along a turn in the road that we might not have fully considered.
That is why it is useful to reflect, to think about where God’s love fits in, where Christ’s compassion sits.
As we face a time of change and uncertainty, time for self-reflection becomes urgent and necessary.
If we find a conflict it may be tempting to put it in a pigeon hole and carry on.
If we find a conflict it may be tempting to trivialize it.
If we find a conflict it may be best to retrace our steps making tomorrow better and ourselves easier to live with.
We need to gie our heids a wobble.
But always, we need to remember God is the author of all goodness and love and we owe everything to God. Amen.

Loving God,
in praise and in hope,
we present ourselves before you
united in your love.
Be among us today,
join us together in
the radical spirit of
change and new perspectives,
shine your light on the
possibilities and the potential
for a different way through you.
As your church continues to
discern our path forward
we ask for the boldness to
hold what is good,
and overturn what
blocks our path towards
service of you and each other.
We pray for all those
who bear the heavy burden of
leadership, that they find the
wisdom to serve all peoples;
we pray for the isolated and
the lonely, that they will find strength
and comfort in you;
we pray for all those who are ill
that they will find healing in
your love.
And on this day as we strive
to follow your Son Jesus,
on the path of love for all,
caring for ourselves,
and each other,
help us to work
to see and to seek
the change for which this world
is so desperate.
In Jesus’ name we pray.
Hymn CH4 167 Guide me, O thou great Jehovah
Clackmannan Parish Church of Scotland
Port Street
FK10 4JH

Tel: +44(0) 1259 214238
Charity Registered in Scotland SC002324

We are a Church of Scotland congregation and believe that God has called His people in Clackmannan Parish Church, under His guidance, to be a congregation committed to sharing Jesus' Word and Love with the community.
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