Sunday Evening Thought

Miss Jekyll’s Gardening Boots

1920

Sir William Nicholson      Tate Gallery

This is the first Sunday in Advent. We watch and we wait for the coming of Jesus. There are other more usual and beautiful symbols of Advent- the candle, with its light shining in the darkness or the wreath with its bright berries and green foliage, the circle of eternal life.  However, this Sunday, this year, these well used and ordinary boots say something to me of Advent too.

One of the Bible readings for today in Mark 13:35 speaks about the need to keep ready.  “Therefore, keep awake–for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or at dawn.” These boots suggest to me a readiness in ordinary things to go out and meet the master.  They have been left outside in the weather suggesting that the wearer will return soon.  The laces are undone and the feet can slip in easily and quickly before the laces are pulled tight. They used to be army boots but are now used for making gardens. We wait in Advent, but in an active, expectant way, ready to go out and respond to glimpses of new divine possibility and creation. 

Lord God, Thank you that you are with us. Thank you for your promise   to give us new life. Bless us this week to get ready for the birth of Jesus. Bless us to search hopefully for new signs of your presence in our lives and our communities.

We ask in Jesus’ name,

Amen

Katherine Taylor

Wednesday Prayers, 25 November 2020

20200916_092231God of surprises,
as Advent approaches, we turn our thoughts
to waiting once more, but this year
we are used to waiting, and probably
more than a little fed up with it:

waiting on rules and regulations,
waiting in queues outside shops,
waiting on churches to open their doors,
waiting anxiously on the results of tests
waiting on a vaccine,
waiting for good news.

We’ve trained well in waiting this year
and help us to learn something of what it means:
the way people waited for the Messiah
to enter the world and give it hope
at a time no easier than what we have now
and probably more difficult.

We pray for people around the world
who wait for You to touch their lives;
for churches making ready to celebrate
the true meaning of Christmas;
for all who search for a new way to live.
May all who seek find.

And we pray too for those going through difficulties
who wait for something better to come
and who refuse to give up hope.
Give them strength and passion and comfort
even in dark times.

We remember people who are on our minds at this time, especially for
Peter, Bill B, Evelyn, Jean, Janet,
Zoe, Gordon and John, Emily, Allan, Malcolm,
Eleanor, Andrew, Ela, Greta,
Jill, John N, David and his family, Mary,
Yvonne, Bill M, John C, Karen, Mary D, Ceala and Ian.
May those who wait on You renew their strength.

Be with those who people come to our minds.
Be in the places we care about.
Be in the moments when we are most likely to forget You
and teach us to wait in faith, and with hope and love,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Amen.

Sunday Evening Thought

The Shepherd Boy

Phoebe Anna Traquair National Galleries Scotland

I like the sense of purpose in this shepherd boy‘s face. He is gazing intently ahead, searching for his sheep.  He seems completely caught up in the task with his head tilted forward and his right hand shading his eyes against the light so that he can see more clearly.  He seems set and determined in his search. Nothing will deter him.  One of the Bible readings for today from the prophet Ezekiel,   in  Chapter 34, is all about shepherds.  It sets out the qualities of good ones and bad ones.  Selfish   shepherds simply look after their own interests.  They let the sheep go hungry. They leave the weak, sick and injured sheep behind.  Lost sheep have only themselves to blame and it really doesn’t matter if the flock is scattered everywhere.    In contrast, the young shepherd boy in this picture looks to me like  just the shepherd to gather them in again and look after them, to set things right.

Lord God, thank you that you watch over us and never leave us alone. Help us to trust that you will bring us out of our trouble. Lead us to follow the unexpected leaders you send and help us to listen to the voices and the wisdom of the young.

 We ask in Jesus’ name.

 Amen

Katherine Taylor

Wednesday Prayers, 18 November 2020

20201118_154743God of the beginning and end and everything in between,
take this moment of our time and make it sacred:
a meeting-place for us and You.
May we be still and know that You are God.

We think of the churches here in Leith:
the churches of Scotland as we search for ways
to work and worship together
and to be one, just as You told us –
to be one just as You are one.
May we find the best ways of doing that.

We remember other congregations in Leith
of various denominations, all trying
to be good witnesses to You here in this place.
Bless their work even in this period of disruption.

And we think of congregations throughout Edinburgh Presbytery
and beyond, throughout Scotland,
often going through difficult times, whether financially
or with lack of leadership or struggling with change
or with small numbers; be their strength and vision.

When some areas find themselves in tier 4 of COVID restrictions,
and others face uncertainty in the next few weeks,
help all of us to respond with commitment to get cases down
and reduce the burden on the NHS and other services.
We pray for all currently affected by COVID:
those grieving the loss of loved ones, those who are unwell,
those who care for them and look after them.

We remember people who are on our minds at this time, especially for
Peter, Bill B, Evelyn, Jean, Janet,
Zoe, Gordon and John, Emily, Allan, Malcolm,
Eleanor, Andrew, Ela, Greta,
Jill, John N, David and his family, Mary,
Yvonne, Bill M, John C, Karen, Mary D, Ceala and Ian.
May Your presence among them be their source of peace and hope.

And we pray You will be with each of us
in all that we face over these next weeks:
the joys, troubles, anxieties and resolutions.
May we follow You and put our trust in You,
through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Sunday Evening Thought

Treasure hidden in a field

Corita Kent   National Galleries Scotland

One of the Bible readings for today is the Parable of the Talents or the Three Servants in Matthew’s Gospel.  One of the servants hides the money his absent master has given him to use and invest in the buying and selling of ordinary life.  He digs a hole in the ground and hides it there for safe keeping.  The creator of this print, American Corita Kent, was a nun for 32 years and also a social activist with a heart for issues of poverty, racism and social injustice.  She taught students to find art in everyday life and in everyday objects.  On a rather dark November day, the colours and sense of movement in this print suggest to me that the treasure is not really hidden. It will not stay in the place in which it is put.  In fact, it is rather bursting out of its hiding place in the dark, a bit like the fireworks we may have seen earlier this month, with all the joy and excitement they bring. 

Lord God, thank you for the treasures of your stories in the Bible. Thank you for the treasure of faith.  This week, bless us and help us to share something of our own faith with those around us.

We ask in Jesus’ name,

Amen

Katherine Taylor

Wednesday Prayers, 11 November 2020

God, we are used to surprises
but not always used to You surprising us.
It’s often hard to get a handle on life
and understand what’s happening even as it happens;
we can easily be wrong-footed and then
feel confused, angry and, especially, helpless.

But we trust in Your perspective
from beyond history and time
and worries about the future,
because You are already there,
waiting for us to join You.

We remember once more today those, all over this broken world,
who have died in war and conflict, their families and friends,
those who have suffered injury or trauma,
those who continue to live in war-torn areas,
those who have become refugees and who could not
have imagined being so before fighting began.
We remember and pray for peace,
and pray we may be peacemakers whenever we have the chance.

In times of political upheaval,
keep our minds focused, so as not to get taken in
by propaganda, or our own biases.
Give us wisdom, calmness and a deep trust
in Your guidance.
Bless those who show humility even in victory
and topple the tyrants, bullies and narcissists
where they have amassed power and abused it.

And even with good news, may we meet it
looking not just at headlines
but at what lies behind them –
the small print and the doubts and details.
We are thankful for progress with the COVID vaccine
and we pray for continued progress,
but keep us grounded and still committed
to play our part to stop the virus’s spread.

We bring to You places in the world
which are struggling most at the moment:
places where there is little money,
poor health facilities, few doctors, and real problems
for people who want to practise social distancing.
We pray for all working to bring solutions for them
and for all who are affected by ill-health.

And we pray today for people on our minds, including
Peter, Bill B, Evelyn, Jean, Janet,
Zoe, Gordon and John, Emily, Allan, Malcolm,
Eleanor, Andrew, Ela, Greta,
Jill, John N, David and Alice, Mary,
Yvonne, Bill M, John C, Karen, Mary D, Ceala and Ian.
Give to them peace and security and knowledge
that you care for them.

Be with all of us at this time, as nights draw in early
and temperatures drop.
Help us to keep each other’s spirits up
and grow in faith, spiritual depth and love for others,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
Amen.

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