This Sunday we remembered those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Jack Girdwood led a short meditation, followed by 2 minutes silence. Then at Lord’s Supper Nathan reminded us that Jesus laid down his life on our behalf so that we would be free from the bondage of sin and death.
The message of the gospel has been undermined in the early church by people who claimed to have special insights and advocated rules like food laws, special festivals and other rituals. Paul warned the Colossians that these spiritual experts who claimed religious superiority did actually exalt themselves rather than Christ while other the believers were regarded as second class.
Today we still can fall in the trap of trusting in “holy habits” and get under the spell of people who claim to have special spiritual insights. However instead of promoting godliness these things cause us to lose sight of the person of Jesus himself, and true godliness is restrained. Paul warns that extra rules and regulations, though well intended, actually only distract from the real and complete sacrifice! Jesus paid the price in full and we should trust in him alone for our salvation.
Private devotion to God has a public application. As the church faces some real challenges we were urged to pray together instead of listening to a sermon. We were guided by parts from scripture which were printed out, and by people’s personal prayers, focusing on adoration, confession, petition, intercession, affirmation and thanksgiving.
The zone club for senior school children continues to meet at Carronhill School on Friday evenings, 7.15-8.30 pm. Stonehaven Baptist Church Sunday services are at 11 am, also at Carronhill School. For more details visit stonehavenbaptist.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01569 765097
News from St James and St Philip’s – Remembrance
This Remembrance Sunday, Stonehaven churches congregated at South Church. St James held a Communion service at 9.00, as usual, and then Anne, David and others attended the joint service at South Church. (Details in news from Dunnottar linked with South Church). Anne, from St James, was guest preacher and was impressed by the turnout of the uniformed groups from Stonehaven. We were fortunate that the forecast of high winds and heavy rain did not arrive until after the ceremony.
Later that afternoon, Anne conducted Communion from the Reserved Sacrament at St Philip’s, Catterline. Because of its slightly isolated location, and the violent weather (which arrived an hour before the service was due to begin) we were not expecting much of a congregation- but despite all, a fair few arrived and made a meaningful Remembrance ceremony. Anne preached on the theme of the day ‘Remembrance’ and the Gospel reading about the centurion whose servant was really ill, and on whose behalf the Jewish leaders came to Jesus to ask his help ‘because this man is worthy that you should do this for him – he loves our nation’. She reminded the congregation of the sacrifice of lives, limbs, health and mental wellbeing of our service personnel in the last two World Wars – as well as more recent times: The sacrifice that had won for us freedom – of worship, of assembly, and of the right to hold free and fair elections.
She reminisced about the way, when she was a child, everything stopped in the small town where she lived. Traffic on the streets, the farmer in his field, factory lines – and children would stand in silence at their desks where one of the Remembrance poems would be read, such as ‘In Flanders Fields:
We are the dead. Short days ago
we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
loved and were loved, and now we lie – in Flanders fields.
If ye break faith with us who die
we shall not sleep, though poppies grow – in Flanders fields.
She spoke of the way that our history has bound us together through faith in God and in belief of the salvation bought for us by his Son, Jesus Christ. That this God is not remote and speechless, but is the same God, Almighty God, Lord of Lords, King of Kings, who reigns supreme, the great architect of the Universe – who entered into our human existence to bring us closer to him. That Christ conducted his ministry in enemy-occupied territory, was betrayed by his friends and finally died, in lonely suffering, on the cross – on behalf of all suffering humanity. And it was Jesus who said ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’
In conclusion, Anne called the congregation to remember that we are the Easter people – the resurrection folk – and that in the bread and wine of Communion we also see the risen Christ.
When we bring our grief, our pain, our loss, our remembrance of family members lost in the obscenity of war before God, then we do so in the hope born of the memory of that first Easter morning. And we may indeed claim to be the Easter people, the resurrection folk and we should declare the Gospel boldly, crying with a loud voice : Christ has died; Christ has risen; Christ will come again. Alleluia! Amen.