OPENING SENTENCE

Our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he shows us his mercy.

HYMN

GREETING

Grace and peace to you from God our Father

and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen

COLLECT FOR PURITY

Almighty God

to whom all hearts be open

all desires known

and from whom no secrets are hidden;

Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts

by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,

that we may perfectly love you

and worthily magnify your holy name

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

SUMMARY OF THE LAW

Our Lord Jesus Christ said: The first commandment is this: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is the only Lord. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength.”

The second is this: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” There is no other commandment greater than these. Amen. Lord, have mercy.

CONFESSION

God is love and we are God’s children.

There is no room for fear in love.

We love because God loved us first.

Let us confess our sins in penitence and faith.

God our Father, we confess to you

and to our fellow members in the Body of Christ

that we have sinned in thought, word and deed,

and in what we have failed to do.

We are truly sorry.

Forgive us our sins,

and deliver us from the power of evil,

for the sake of your Son who died for us, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

ABSOLUTION

May the God of love and power

forgive you and free you from your sins,

heal and strengthen you by his Spirit

and raise you to new life in Christ our Lord. Amen.

GLORIA
sung by Annabelle Guthrie

COLLECT

O Lord,
let the world be ordered in peace,
according to your will:
that your people may be free to worship you with joy;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God world without end. Amen

FIRST READING
2 SAMUEL 5, 1–5, 9–10
read by Debbie Johnson

All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron, and said, ‘Look, we are your bone and flesh. For some time, while Saul was king over us, it was you who led out Israel and brought it in. The LORD said to you: It is you who shall be shepherd of my people Israel, you who shall be ruler over Israel.’

So, all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron; and King David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD, and they anointed David king over Israel. David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. At Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months; and at Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years. David occupied the stronghold, and named it the city of David. David built the city all around from the Millo inward. And David became greater and greater, for the LORD, the God of hosts, was with him.

SECOND READING
2 CORINTHIANS 12.2–10
read by Olive Burbridge

I know a person in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows. And I know that such a person – whether in the body or out of the body I do not know; God knows – was caught up into Paradise and heard things that are not to be told, that no mortal is permitted to repeat.

On behalf of such a one I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses. But if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I will be speaking the truth. But I refrain from it, so that no one may think better of me than what is seen in me or heard from me, even considering the exceptional character of the revelations. Therefore, to keep me from being too elated, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I appealed to the Lord about this, that it would leave me, but he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’

So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

HYMN

GOSPEL READING
MARK 6: 1-13
read by Dean Paul Burbridge

Hear the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Mark chapter 6 beginning at verse 1

Glory to Christ our Saviour.

Jesus came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, ‘Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offence at him. Then Jesus said to them, ‘Prophets are not without honour, except in their home town, and among their own kin, and in their own house.’ And he could do no deed of power there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and cured them. And he was amazed at their unbelief.

Then he went about among the villages teaching. He called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He ordered them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; but to wear sandals and not to put on two tunics. He said to them, ‘Wherever you enter a house, stay there until you leave the place. If any place will not welcome you and they refuse to hear you, as you leave, shake off the dust that is on your feet as a testimony against them.’ So, they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them.

Give thanks to the Lord for his glorious gospel

Praise to Christ our Lord

SERMON

The film “The Darkest Hour” was deemed to be one of the most highly praised motion pictures in the last few years. It was released in 2017 and was about Winston Churchill. As one of the prominent statesmen of the twentieth century, Winston Churchill achieved what others only dream of. He courageously led his country, the United Kingdom, to fight against the tyranny of Adolph Hitler. As renowned and successful as he was, however, Winston Churchill had his struggles.

Churchill as a young man was confronted with two big challenges. First, he suffered a speech impediment–a lisp caused by a dental condition. But this did not stop him from becoming a celebrated public speaker. We’re told that he often wore an artificial tooth, designed to ease this impediment. He also avoided words in his speeches that he had difficulty pronouncing. Yet his speeches were both inspiring and motivating.

The second obstacle Churchill had to overcome was a mental health challenge. He called it the “Black Dog.” Winston Churchill suffered severe bouts of clinical depression from his youth until his death. The condition became especially severe during times of military setbacks. Nevertheless, Churchill wouldn’t allow this condition to stop him from carrying out his duties as Prime Minister. He believed the needs of his country came before his personal needs. It is most interesting that, despite his speech impediments, Churchill went on to become one of history’s greatest inspirational speakers. And, despite his depression, he was an inspiring leader.

All of us have weaknesses. Some of our weaknesses are physical, some are mental, some are moral. Some of these weaknesses have to do with our work, some with our family life, some with our relationship with Christ. Some of us, for example, have short tempers, others of us lack diplomacy. Some of us are too proud, others of us lack back-bone. Some of us have an illness or disability that is our weakness. There are no perfect people.

Saint Paul had his weaknesses. One in particular caused him much heartache. We don’t know for certain what it was. He called it his “thorn in the flesh.” Some have suggested that St. Paul suffered from epileptic seizures. If so, he was in good company. Two of the most powerful men who ever lived–Julius Caesar and Napoleon–were epileptics, as have been many other great individuals. In St. Paul’s day there was no medication to control seizures. If that was his thorn, he was stuck with it. Although others say it was blindness that was his thorn in the flesh as in Galatians Paul wrote ‘See what large letters I am writing to you with.’ Others would claim that Paul’s thorn in his flesh was his opponents who caused him great difficulties and trouble.

Paul had certainly more than his fair share of persecution, but whether that was his thorn in the flesh we will never know. We can only speculate about the nature of his affliction but we will never know for certain.

What we do know, is that this thorn in the flesh was debilitating and St. Paul prayed that God would remove it from him. Three times Paul prayed to God about this thorn, but God’s answer to him was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” God was saying to Paul, “Trust me, Paul. I will take care of you. But I can use your weakness to demonstrate my power.” And God did use Paul’s weaknesses in a wonderful way. Paul’s influence over the Christian community has been second only to Christ himself. No wonder. Look at how strong Paul’s faith was in God. He prayed three times about his “thorn in the flesh,” then let it go.

We can learn from Paul’s experience. Paul not only learned to accept his thorn, he even began to boast about this weakness in order to show the power of Christ. Paul, by God’s grace, turned his weakness into strength and so can we. Here are some principles we can apply to our weaknesses.  

A weakness can become a strength, first of all, if we do not give in to it. As someone has said, “Some people succeed because they are destined to, but most people succeed because they are determined to.” It might be a physical weakness or a disability that is your thorn in the flesh. Many of you are familiar with the name Wilma Rudolph. Wilma, a track legend, didn’t get much of a head start in life. A bout with polio left her left leg crooked. Her foot twisted inward so she had to wear leg braces. It took seven years of painful therapy before she could walk without her braces. She was 11 years old when, through sheer diligence and determination, she forced herself to walk without braces for the first time. Her older sister was a good runner, and at age 12, Wilma started to think about running too. Less than 2 years later, she outran every other girl in her high school in Clarksville, Tennessee. A college track coach saw her run. He talked her into letting him train her. By age 14 she had outrun the fastest sprinters in her age group in the U.S. In 1956 Wilma made the U.S. Olympic team, winning a bronze medal. That actually was a disappointment to her. Wilma wanted to win the gold.  So, she motivated herself to work even harder for the 1960 Olympics in Rome–and there Wilma Rudolph won three gold medals, the most a woman had ever won at that time. Wilma Rudolph simply would not give in to her weakness or give up and she became a champion.  To think, this was someone who spent the first seven years of her life with braces on her legs in order to be able just to walk. She’s a good reminder that a weakness can by God’s grace become a strength, if we don’t give in to it.

Author Irving Stone spent a lifetime studying greatness, writing novelized biographies of such men as Michelangelo, Vincent van Gogh, Sigmund Freud and Charles Darwin. Stone was once asked if he had found a thread that ran through the lives of all these exceptional people. He said, “I write about people who sometime in their life . . . have a vision or dream of something that should be accomplished . . . and they go to work. “They are beaten over the head, knocked down, vilified and for years they get nowhere. But every time they’re knocked down, they stand up. You cannot destroy these people. And at the end of their lives, they’ve accomplished some modest part of what they set out to do.”

St. Paul had that kind of attitude, that kind of determination. Besides this “thorn in the flesh,” Paul faced many other obstacles in his ministry. He writes, “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was pelted with stones, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea. I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my fellow Jews, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false believers. I have laboured and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked . . .” yet Paul never quit.

Paul’s experience shows that our weaknesses can become our strengths, if they compel us to lean on God and be dependent upon him. It would have been easy for Paul to boast of his influence on the early Christian community, but he knew that the glory did not belong to him. His weaknesses should have condemned him to failure. Only by the grace of God could he make his life count. And he did so in a magnificent way.

Isn’t that a beautiful metaphor for the life of faith? Frank Sinatra may have sung, “I Did It My Way,” But no one truly succeeds in life on their own. Self-made man? Self-made woman? It’s a myth. There are actually very few worthwhile goals in life you can achieve on your own. The truth of the matter is that true success only comes to the man or woman who realizes that, try our hardest, we are only truly successful when we realize that a loving Father is working with us and in us. That is the lesson St. Paul learned. Can you hear him testifying about what God had done in his life? “Look at me,” he would say, “I once persecuted the church. Look at me, a man who has to battle this humiliating affliction–this thorn in the flesh. Yet Christ has used me to plant churches all over the known world.”

Paul was a man of tremendous intellect. He was also a man of unquestionable persuasive powers. Perhaps if it had not been for his thorn in the flesh, he would have leaned upon his own ability rather than the power of God working through him. And you and I would never have heard the name of Paul of Tarsus. That’s the way life works.

His weakness became his strength. And the same thing can happen to us–if we don’t give into our weakness, and if our weakness causes us to rely upon God.

That’s why Paul says: “I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.  That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

His antagonists were boasting about their visions. Paul however boasts about his weaknesses. He has learned that Christ is seen most clearly in his life when he is not the one standing on centre stage. When Paul steps back and allows God to work through him, that’s when things begin to happen. When we and the church step back and allow God to work through us that’s when things begin to happen. This past year with the pandemic, churches have been closed and many believed that this closure would be the death of the national church. But on the contrary, it has led to new creative ways of communicating the gospel truth and the church has reached more people than ever. In the church’s weakness and subsequent dependency upon God, the church has grown.

The church learned afresh what Paul had already discovered many years ago. He discovered the wonderful and counterintuitive truth that when he is weakest, he actually has the greatest strength because God takes over and works through him. Paul can testify that God’s grace was sufficient for him. Whatever our thorn in the flesh is, if after prayer, we still have our thorn in the flesh, then by God’s good grace may we imitate Paul and see our thorn as a kind of gift, a weakness that paradoxically with God’s touch becomes our strength and we too might then understand more fully God’s words “My grace is sufficient for you”. Amen

NICENE CREED

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty maker of heaven and earth,

of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,

the only Son of God,

eternally begotten of the Father,

God from God, Light from Light,

true God from true God,

begotten, not made,

of one substance with the Father.

Through him all things were made.

For us and for our salvation

he came down from heaven;

by the power of the Holy Spirit

he became incarnate of the Virgin Mary,

and was made man.

For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;

he suffered death and was buried.

On the third day he rose again

in accordance with the Scriptures;

he ascended into heaven

and is seated at the right hand of the Father.

He will come again in glory

to judge the living and the dead,

and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,

the Lord, the giver of life,

who proceeds from the Father.

With the Father and the Son,

he is worshipped and glorified.

He has spoken through the Prophets.

We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.

We acknowledge one baptism

for the forgiveness of sins.

We look for the resurrection of the dead,

and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Lord Jesus,

Thank you for your willingness

to come and dwell on earth with us.

You know what it is like to do right

and yet be accused and rejected.

Help us in those times of rejection and hurt

to know your presence, strength and healing.

When we call, you answer.

Great is your glory!

Lord Jesus, thank you for your wisdom,

that you shared with your disciples,

and for the confidence and trust you placed in them,

despite their imperfections and frailty.

Thank you that you have faith and trust in us too,

and invite us to share your gospel truth and love with others.

Help us to be good disciples and enthusiastic followers of your way.

When we call, you answer.

Great is your glory!

Lord Jesus, we thank you for the leaders,

who are raising up today.

We pray for those charged with new responsibilities

of leadership, whether at home or abroad.

We pray for church leaders, beginning for the first time,

or for those moving to a new charge,

and ask your blessing on them.

When we call, you answer.

Great is your glory!

Lord Jesus, we rejoice with the disciples

in your gifts of healing and renewal.

Lord be with those who are struggling

with their health, their work or family situations,

may they find in you hope, strength and comfort.

When we call, you answer.

Great is your glory!

Lord Jesus, we bring to your care and love

those whose faith is being severely challenged at present,

by the deaths of loved ones through disasters,

accidents, killings and wars.

Awaken in them your presence and compassion

and carry them in these dark days,

when they are too weak to stand on their own.

Surround them and protect them in your love.

When we call, you answer.

Great is your glory!

Lord Jesus, we lift to you those

who have recently lost a loved one,

and are struggling to come to terms with the loss

and with the major change and emptiness in their life.

Be their guide and carer in these days,

give them comfort and may they have hope

in the darkness and strength in weakness.

When we call, you answer.

Great is your glory!

Lord Jesus, we thank you for Paul,

for his courage and determination

to do your will and share the gospel with others.

He suffered from a thorn in the flesh

and yet he was able to count

this weakness as a strength in your service.

Help us with the thorns

we have in our flesh, our weaknesses,

and may we remember and draw hope from the truth

that when we are weak you are strong.

When we call, you answer.

Great is your glory!

Merciful Father accept these prayers for the sake of your Son,

our Saviour Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Do not bring us to the time of trial

but deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.

HYMN

BLESSING

The peace of God,

which passes all understanding,

keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God,

and of his Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord:

and the blessing of God the Father,

the Son and Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you always. Amen

DISMISSAL

Go or stay in peace to love and serve the Lord. In the name of Christ.

Welcome

St John the Evangelist, Dumfries, is a parish of the Scottish Episcopal Church also serving Methodist parishioners locally.

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Notices

Contemporary Service

Contemporary Service

The Contemporary Service is at 6pm, on the second and fourth Sundays of the month, followed by refreshments in the hall.

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St John's Church

3 days 12 hours ago

Everyone is very welcome to come along to St John's Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW, at 6pm this Sunday, Pentecost Day, 19th May, when the choir of St John's

St John's Church

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Sunday 12th May 2024 is our Eucharistic Services at 11: 00am. You are most welcome to come along. Be great to see you. Contemporary Service is at 6pm on 12th

St John's Church

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Everyone is very welcome to come along to St John's Church, Newall Terrace, Dumfries DG1 1LW this Sunday, 5th May, at 6pm, where the choir of St John's Church will

St John's Church

2 weeks 1 day ago

Sunday 5th May 2024 is our Eucharistic Services at 8:00am & 11: 00am. You are most welcome to come along. Be great to see you. Choral evensong is at 6pm