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Scottish Church leaders release Christmas message

The Scottish Church Leaders Forum has released a Christmas video.

Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly, is one of 10 figures who have each recited a line of a heartfelt message.

Jesus Christ
A child is born.

They decided to come together in recognition that many individuals and familes are grappling with difficulties and uncertainties due to the impact of COVID-19.

It is hoped that sharing the Good News about the birth of Jesus Christ will bring some comfort, hope and peace to those who are struggling.

The Scottish Church Leaders Forum was formed in March in response to the pandemic to speak on issues of mutual concern with one voice.

They are responsible for the ecumenical prayers published for use every Sunday at 7pm.

The text as narrated in the video has been translated into Gaelic.

Scottish Christians join in prayer

This Sunday (20 December) marks the fourth Sunday of Advent. As Christmas Day draws ever closer to us, Christians across the country – and further afield – will once more join together in prayer at 7pm in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fourth Sunday of Advent

As with previous weeks during lockdown, 14 Christian churches and organisations across the country, including the Church of Scotland, have co-signed the letter calling for prayer.

Scottish Christians have been continuing to answer the call to pray at the same time each week, and Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, has been taking part alongside them.

“There are some things which make sense for a certain period of time but which come to a natural conclusion – such as clapping for carers during the spring lockdown. Prayer isn’t one of them,” Dr Fair said.

“The Apostle Paul encourages us to ‘pray without ceasing’ and Jesus himself offers parables where persistence in prayer is lauded.

“It can be hard to keep going when there’s no end in sight; much easier when the finishing line comes into view. In the case of the pandemic, it still feels as if there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

“All the more reason then for God’s people to continue faithfully in prayer. And even better when we can pray across the whole of the Church, unrestricted by denominational divides.

“If Sunday at 7pm is in your diary, keep it there. Thank you. If it hadn’t been, it would be great to have you involved. It matters that we pray.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/siFjpecgvZY

This week’s letter accompanying the prayer, which is also available in Gaelic, states:

“The words of the angel to Mary bring this assurance: ‘The Lord is with you’ (Luke 1: 28). The words are clear and unequivocal: ‘The Lord is with you.’

“Nevertheless, Mary is ‘perplexed’ and clearly fearful as she tries to comprehend the words spoken to her. The message of the angel that she is to become the bearer of the Christ-child leads her to ask: ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ In response, the angel speaks of the promise of the Spirit and Mary affirms and embraces the promise: ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word’ (Luke 1: 26-38). It is as if Mary hears and embraces the first words spoken to her: ‘The Lord is with you.’

“As we come near to the point where the promise of the Advent season is fulfilled in the birth of the Christ-child, we are conscious of the renewed challenges we face within the communities of which we are a part. In the face of this, each one of us longs to know the assurance of the promise: ‘The Lord is with you.’

“In the perplexities and challenges of the times, and to each one of us, the words of assurance are spoken. The Lord is with us and we are invited to embrace the promise of the Christ-child who is to come.”

We pray:

Lord, draw near to us
And to all who long to hear your Word.
We give thanks that the promise of the Advent season
Will soon be fulfilled in the birth of the Christ-child.
May we embrace the promise and share in the hope it brings.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, draw near to us
And to all who long to hear your Word.
We pray for the lonely and the perplexed;
For the anxious and the fearful.
Be near to them as you are to us.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, draw near to us
And to all who long to hear your Word.
We pray for the families and communities of which we are a part
And for our Nation.
Sustain us in these times and renew us in times to come.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, draw near to us
And to all who long to hear your Word.
We give thanks that, in all things, you are with us
And we embrace once more the promise of the Christ-child.
May the light of Christ shine in the darkness and bring hope to the world.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Fourth Sunday in Advent

Christmas

Third Sunday in Advent

Scottish Christians join in prayer

This Sunday (13 December), as the season of Advent continues, Christians across the country – and further afield – will once more join together in prayer at 7pm in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Third Sunday of Advent candles

As with previous weeks during lockdown, 14 Christian churches and organisations across the country, including the Church of Scotland, have co-signed the letter calling for prayer.

Scottish Christians have been continuing to answer the call to pray at the same time each week, and Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, has been taking part alongside them.

“There are some things which make sense for a certain period of time but which come to a natural conclusion – such as clapping for carers during the spring lockdown. Prayer isn’t one of them,” Dr Fair said.

“The Apostle Paul encourages us to ‘pray without ceasing’ and Jesus himself offers parables where persistence in prayer is lauded.

“It can be hard to keep going when there’s no end in sight; much easier when the finishing line comes into view. In the case of the pandemic, it still feels as if there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

“All the more reason then for God’s people to continue faithfully in prayer. And even better when we can pray across the whole of the Church, unrestricted by denominational divides.

“If Sunday at 7pm is in your diary, keep it there. Thank you. If it hadn’t been, it would be great to have you involved. It matters that we pray.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/B7cZ3dvFjNE

This week’s letter accompanying the prayer, which is also available in Gaelic (a copy of which will be available to read here soon) states:

“At this time, we find ourselves deeply conscious of the challenges that we still face and yet also of the hope that lies on the horizon. It is as if we have journeyed through a time of darkness and deep uncertainty with no seeming end in sight. Then, even as darkness seemed set to engulf us once more, a light has dawned and has brought hope to the world and to the community of all peoples.

“In the past we have prayed:

Lord, we pray for scientists and researchers;
For those seeking to understand the challenge we face;
For those creating potential vaccines;
For those advising decision-makers.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

“Notwithstanding the challenges we still face, we give thanks to God for those who have created the vaccines that have the potential to restore life to the communities of which we are all a part.

“As we continue on in our Advent journey, we hear of a witness who has come ‘to testify to the light’. The light is not yet with us but the messenger comes to bear witness to the ‘true light’ of God that will soon break into our world (John 1: 6-9). Even now, the light breaks on the horizon for the light of God is coming into our world once more.”

We pray:

Lord, we are your people who have journeyed in darkness
And who long to see your light once more.
We are those who have journeyed through hard times
And who long to see life and community renewed.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we give thanks for scientists and researchers
And for those who have created the vaccines that give hope to the world.
We pray for the just sharing of these precious gifts
And for the renewal of life in every nation.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we are those who journey on
Towards the horizon where light shall surely break.
We journey in times where we are distanced
And trust that in time the distance shall be overcome.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we pray for those who care for the living
And for the dying.
We pray for the bereaved and for the bereft
And ask that you would draw near to them in your compassion.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Lord, we are those who have heard
Of the true light that is coming into the world.
We ask that we might become your messengers
And bear witness to Jesus Christ, the light of God that is to come.
Lord in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Amen

Second Sunday in Advent

Scottish Christians join in prayer on second Sunday of Advent

This Sunday (6 December), as the season of Advent continues, Christians across the country – and further afield – will once more join together in prayer at 7pm in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Second Sunday of Advent candle

As with previous weeks during lockdown, 14 Christian churches and organisations across the country, including the Church of Scotland, have co-signed the letter calling for prayer.

Scottish Christians have been continuing to answer the call to pray at the same time each week, and Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, has been taking part alongside them.

“There are some things which make sense for a certain period of time but which come to a natural conclusion – such as clapping for carers during the spring lockdown. Prayer isn’t one of them,” Dr Fair said.

“The Apostle Paul encourages us to ‘pray without ceasing’ and Jesus himself offers parables where persistence in prayer is lauded.

“It can be hard to keep going when there’s no end in sight; much easier when the finishing line comes into view. In the case of the pandemic, it still feels as if there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

“All the more reason then for God’s people to continue faithfully in prayer. And even better when we can pray across the whole of the Church, unrestricted by denominational divides.

“If Sunday at 7pm is in your diary, keep it there. Thank you. If it hadn’t been, it would be great to have you involved. It matters that we pray.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/AJhNP20cx24

This week’s letter accompanying the prayer, which is also available in Gaelic (a copy of which will be available to read here soon) states:

“‘Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.’ God speaks and the word spoken is a word of comfort to the people of God. The word is spoken to those who feel that they are powerless and to those who are wearied and exhausted by all that they have endured.

“Thereafter, the words of Isaiah take us out into the wilderness and, if we listen with open hearts, we will find ourselves in that place and hear a voice crying out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’”

“Even in the wilderness, we are called to prepare so that, in times to come, we might see the presence of God renewed in our midst. (Isaiah 40: 1-11)

“The words are taken up again in the beginning of the Gospel of Mark as a messenger announces the coming of Jesus Christ. In every age, and in every time, the words resonate if we listen with open hearts. (Mark 1: 1-8)

“God speaks and the word spoken is a word of comfort for our age and our times. We embrace and hold fast to the word spoken to us through our Saviour Jesus Christ.”

We pray:

Living God,
In this season of Advent,
Speak to us words of comfort.
Speak that we might hear
And, as we do so, find comfort and strength renewed.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
In this season of Advent,
Speak to us as we read the signs of the times.
Speak, that we might understand the times,
And know, even now, your presence restored in our midst.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
In this season of Advent,
Speak to us in the wilderness.
Speak, even in the hard places,
And teach us to mark out the places where you have met with us.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
In this season of Advent,
Speak to us that we might learn of the rough ground made level.
Speak of the rugged places made plain
And of the time when we shall hear it proclaimed again that the Lord is coming!
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Living God,
In this season of Advent,
Speak to the lonely and to the bereaved.
Speak to the anxious and to the fearful
And carry us as the shepherd carries the lamb, even Jesus Christ our Lord.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Amen

Advent

Scottish Christians join in prayer on first Sunday of Advent

This Sunday (29 November), as the season of Advent begins, Christians across the country – and further afield – will once more join together in prayer at 7pm in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A lady's hands lighting a candle for Advent

As with previous weeks during lockdown, 14 Christian churches and organisations across the country, including the Church of Scotland, have co-signed the letter calling for prayer.

Scottish Christians have been continuing to answer the call to pray at the same time each week, and Rt Rev Dr Martin Fair, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, has been taking part alongside them.

“There are some things which make sense for a certain period of time but which come to a natural conclusion – such as clapping for carers during the spring lockdown. Prayer isn’t one of them,” Dr Fair said.

“The Apostle Paul encourages us to ‘pray without ceasing’ and Jesus himself offers parables where persistence in prayer is lauded.

“It can be hard to keep going when there’s no end in sight; much easier when the finishing line comes into view. In the case of the pandemic, it still feels as if there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

“All the more reason then for God’s people to continue faithfully in prayer. And even better when we can pray across the whole of the Church, unrestricted by denominational divides.

“If Sunday at 7pm is in your diary, keep it there. Thank you. If it hadn’t been, it would be great to have you involved. It matters that we pray.”https://www.youtube.com/embed/c5YS3mv06R4

This week’s letter accompanying the prayer, which is also available in Gaelic, states:

“We come now to a significant place in the long journey that we have made over these past months and the place we have come to is where the season of Advent begins.

“The season speaks of Hope and, though it begins with a recognition that we still face the darkness, brings with it the promise of light. The first Sunday in Advent will, in years past, have echoed to the singing of ancient and inspiring words:

O come, O come, Immanuel/and ransom captive Israel
that mourns in lonely exile here/until the Son of God appear.
The words express the longing of the people of God to know the coming of God amongst them. In anticipation of this promise being fulfilled, the people of God sing out:
Rejoice! Rejoice! Immanuel
shall come to you O Israel.

“In our hearts, the promise still resonates and so we await the coming of God. Indeed, we may say that the season of Advent is a season of waiting and anticipation and one that yields the promise of God: ‘From ages past no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who works for those who wait for him.’ (Isaiah 64: 4) We wait and we pray.”

We pray:

God of the Advent promise,
We come on our journey to the place where the promise is renewed.
Even in the darkness,
We look for the light of your presence to be revealed.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of the Advent promise,
We come on our journey to the place where hope is renewed.
Even in the midst of all that we have faced in times past,
We trust in the hope that does not disappoint.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of the Advent promise,
We come on our journey to the place where we must wait for a time.
Even though we have waited in times past,
We gladly do so again trusting that our waiting shall yield the coming of God.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of the Advent promise,
We come on our journey to the place of anticipation.
Even though we do not yet see,
We anticipate the good gift that you will offer.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

God of the Advent promise,
We come on our journey to the place where we resolve to journey on. .
Even though we have travelled through hard times,
We go forward, trusting in the promise: Immanuel, shall come to us.
Lord, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.

Amen