Paisley South Church

Hello Paisley South,

At this difficult and challenging time when we are on lockdown and our church buildings are closed, church is certainly not closed, the church of Jesus Christ is still open, it just goes on in different ways. Nothing can separate us from the love of God.

We can rise to the challenge firstly by looking to the two greatest commandments of our faith and try to put them into practice. 

These commandments were originally birthed in the Old Testament in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 and reiterated by Jesus in Matthew 22:36-40 - “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

There is also the golden rule of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:12 – “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

Rev. Eric and I are keen to keep in touch with the congregation during this time of self-isolation and social distancing.  We will use whatever means possible, social media, phone or by card, as we are aware that some of the congregation are not on social media.  Our calls have been well received by those we have contacted, and it has been uplifting for us too, to hear the faith in God expressed in those conversations.  Most are in self-isolation, they are well and being looked after by family, friends, neighbours and fellow members of this church.  Perhaps through our website and facebook page we can connect with the wider community around us to whom we wish to reach out to also as our neighbours.

During this time in which some may feel fear of this Covid-19, loneliness, or anxious for loved ones we can take heart from scripture. 

Here are some verses from scripture to look up – 2 Chronicles 7:14, Isaiah 41:10, John 16:33, we Philippians 4:6-7.

Let us remember that one of God’s names is Jehovah Rophe – translated “I am the Lord your Physician,” or “I am the Lord that heals you.”  Exodus 15:26.

How can you help while we are all on lockdown?  One way is to pray.  Many of you joined in last Sunday night by praying at 7pm and lighting a candle in your window.  Many others joined in the world wide call to pray the Lord’s Prayer at 11am on Wednesday 25th March.  In the midst of the gloom and darkness there is the light of God shining in the darkness, and the excitement of joining in prayer not only with fellow Christians in this country but all over the world.  Just try and imagine that picture in your minds eye and you were there.

Please pray for healing for those suffering at the hands of this horrible virus, for the bereaved, for those at work in the health service, for all working for a cure or vaccine for Covid-19, for the emergency services, for our politicians, for those keeping the supply chain in operation, for those run off their feet keeping our supermarkets open.

Another way is just to lift the phone and speak to someone, you may be the answer to their prayer.

Meanwhile, until we meet again in our church buildings, we are still doing church, stay safe and God bless.

Dear friends,
Christine and I have been pursuing the possibility of live streaming a weekly sermon with the experts who know much more than we do as to the logistics of how to do this. In the meantime, we will put a weekly sermon on the Church website and also a prayer, taking it turn about each week. For this first week Christine has written a very acceptable message to all of you which is also on the website and the following is the first of these sermons.
We also hope to have a sermon on the website for each night of Holy Week beginning on Monday 6th April.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this anxious time. Keep safe and best wishes.
 Every blessing.
READING: St. John 12. 20 – 36.
The Rev. Dr. David H. C. Reid was the minister emeritus of Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York. Prior to taking up his Charge in New York he had served as chaplain to Edinburgh University. He was also one of the Queens chaplains in Scotland and he was also a minister in one of the Churches in Helensburgh.
In a Passion Sunday sermon of his entitled “The Inevitable Cross,” he says: “Some time ago ‘Time Magazine’ printed the results of a questionnaire of thirty prominent people in the USA. These thirty people were given one hundred famous events in history and they were asked to list them in order of importance and significance for mankind.
Dr. Reid says the result of the poll was most interesting. Top place was given to Columbus’ discovery of America. In fourteenth place, three events were placed equal. They were:
  • The discovery of X-ray by the German scientist Wilhelm Rontgen in 1895.
  • The two brothers – Wilbur & Orvil Wright’s first air flight on 17th December 1903 from North Carolina in the USA.
  • The crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Reid makes the point that among those answering those one hundred questions there were many members and adherents of the Christian Church. That is to say – there were men and women who had, more times than they could count, confessed in worship their belief that the risen Lord Jesus Christ was and is the Saviour of the world.
These Christian men and women would have heard time and again that Jesus Christ the Son of God had died for their sins.  They would have received the bread and wine – the great symbols of the Sacrament of Holy Communion – the great symbols of the body broken and of the blood of Christ shed for them. They would have joined in singing hymns such as – “In the cross of Christ I glory towering o’er the wrecks of time.”
“How then,” asks Dr. Reid – “How do they reconcile the affirmations they make in Church, with their belief that the crucifixion of Christ should only share fourteenth place in order of importance for mankind?
David Reid speaks of their spiritual guard being down on this occasion. Now we all know how difficult it can be to affirm our Christian beliefs in the secular world. We like to think of ourselves as Christians but we don’t want to give the impression of being too Christian! – We don’t want to be too unpopular with others who don’t share our Christian values.
We have Christian morals, and principles but we don’t want the secular society to think we are really all that different from them. As a result, we tend to shelter our religious beliefs within the walls of the Church or within the walls of our private lives. Outwith these times we breathe in secular air. We tend to live a secular life. It’s so tempting and easy to live our lives by secular standards, values and judgments.
If any of the professing Christians who took part in the survey had been challenged as to how they rated the importance of their choices they in all probability would have answered, “Of course this was just a secular judgment. I wasn’t thinking about religion.”
David Reid draws our attention to something that is very important here and it is this. We cannot, or at least we ought not to, make a distinction between our religious beliefs and our secular beliefs. A Christian ought not to have beliefs for the Church and other beliefs for the world.
A statement concerning the significance of Jesus cannot be true for example here in Paisley South and be less true or untrue in our home, or in our workplace or in our leisure and social activities.
Of all the proclamations the Church makes, the crucifixion of Christ on the cross is a historical fact and must surely come out a clear number one in any poll of most significant events. Why do I say that? It’s because it deals with eternity. What we believe about the crucifixion of Christ will determine where we will spend our eternal lives.
This Passion Sunday is a solemn reminder to us that Jesus suffered and died. He was nailed to a wooden cross and he died as a substitute for us. This is the most significant that we can ever know. It is the most significant thing that has ever taken place in history. Nothing is more important. Secularists and unbelievers don’t like to acknowledge this but it is a fact of history.
The crucifixion of Christ didn’t take place in a Temple, or in a Church. It took place outside a city wall. Pontius Pilate was a historical person who gave instruction that the historical Jesus should be crucified on a real cross. The passion, the suffering, the death and the resurrection of Jesus is not just a story in a book for us to read. They are on historical record.
What is in question is this. How much importance and what significance do we attach to the fact that Jesus suffered and died in this way for us? Or to put it another way – If we were asked to categorise one hundred events and place them in their order of importance – where would we place the cross of Christ?
I am sure that if I handed out this one-hundred-word questionnaire. Assuming we were in Church, most people would have no hesitation in placing the crucifixion as number one. But what if the survey was carried out in Paisley shopping Centre or Braehead, or any other shopping centre on Monday afternoon by one of the national newspapers; would our answers be significantly different?
The death of Christ changed the course of history and it still changes the course of people’s lives today. For many people the cross and the passionate death of Jesus are seen only as something we pay our last respects to in the Church, but in terms of everyday life, the crucifixion has little or no part in our thinking. The Times Magazine results seem to bear this out.
The Christian Church has drifted a long way from the time when Paul came to Corinth declaring, “I am determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”
The thrust of Paul’s lifelong ministry was to say to people, “I offer you Christ. I invite you to put him at the very top of your priority list, because this is what you need more than any other thing. This is the only way in which you will know blessing and fulfilment in your life and you need to find Christ for yourself in this life. We are reminded that this is even more true than ever at this time f threat form the coronavirus.
In every age and generation attempts have been made to bury Christ in some cave like the Dead Sea scrolls and to construct a philosophy of life based only on his teachings.
Another of the great Scottish preachers of a previous generation was the late Professor James S. Stewart of New College in Edinburgh. He said:
“It must be the most hopeless, sterile, soul destroying thing imaginable to have only arguments, advice, and moral points of view to offer to the world to help it in its troubles. It makes a world of difference when you have Christ to offer. To have a living accessible and all sufficient Christ – how different that is. It is redemptive; it is effective, and it is gloriously charged with hope.”
He says, “The preacher’s message must always be, “I am coming to you with Christ. You didn’t want him. You despised him and you rejected him. You killed him. But God has raised him up. You didn’t want him. You killed him – but look what God has done and look at what he can do for you.”
The death of Christ is the most significant event in the entire history of all mankind. Nothing ranks above it. There is nothing we can compare with it. This must always be the preacher’s message. We all need to make this discovery and we need to live each day of our lives by it.
Christ wants you to know – He is the way. He is the truth and he is the life. i.e. He is the way to eternal life and no one can be with God in eternity unless we are willing for him to lead us there by the hand.
Unbelieving men and women don’t want him. So called sophisticated men and women despise him and reject him and they will spend eternity without him. That’s what they want and that’s what they will have. And that is cause for great sorrow.
Christ reveals himself only to those who are prepared to make him number one. Make him your first priority. Make him your first love. When you are determined to do this, he will show you that he is the way the truth and the life. Fanny Crosby the hymn writer comes closest to summing it up when she writes:
“To God be the glory great things he has done!
 So loved he the world that he gave us his Son,
Who yielded his life an atonement for sin,
 And opened the life-gate that all may go in.
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the earth hear his voice!
Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!
Let the people rejoice!
Oh come to the father through Jesus the Son,
And give him the glory!  Great things he has done!”
1623 WORDS.
Prayer 29.03.2020
Abba Father, we come to you in these strange and uncertain times, in the surroundings of our own homes, not in our usual sanctuary.  The circumstances of this Covid-19 temporarily determining where we worship, yet not to whom we worship or why. 
We come to praise you, our creator and redeemer, that doesn’t change, for you are the same yesterday, today and forever.  We are still gathered in your mighty presence, albeit at different venues and times, still called by your name, still your people.
Loving God, how grateful we are that nothing and no one can compete with you, King, Master and Friend, in you we have all that we need.  The wealth and materialism of the world are nothing compared to the lavish outpouring of your love for your people in and through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Rock of ages, refuge and strength, we confess that we are finding these days difficult, days of illness and death, days of self-isolation, social distancing, the constant depressing news bulletins, the fear and anxiety we feel at the situation.
Forgive our lack of faith, O Lord in the mighty Word of creation who tells us not to fear, for though we may have trouble in the world, he has overcome the world and in you we find extraordinary peace, hope and the greatest and most powerful method of communication, Prayer!
Dear Lord, we bring our prayers before your throne of grace, praying for family, friends, neighbours, the NHS, emergency services, politicians, wisdom and knowledge for medical researchers and scientists, for healing for the sick, comfort for the bereaved.
Furnish us with your peace and calm, with a wealth of health, precious health, more valuable than material possessions.  We pray for your protection and provision in the fight against this virus, remind us, O Lord, the weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world.
Help us to remain confident, faithful, true and believing followers of Jesus who taught us to pray together saying -
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,
“And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
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