THE 10-MINUTE SERVICE FOR SUNDAY 28 August 2011
Good morning Stuart. I’ve been asked to be here this morning because throughout the summer months, each Tuesday I’ve been helping out at the summer lunches at St Oran’s Church Hall in Connel. This coming Tuesday, 30th August, as people can read in the Oban Times, from 12 Noon to 2.00 pm we are having a special charity lunch in aid of BLESMA – the British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association. B.L.E.S.M.A. BLESMA. which is a charity for disabled Ex-Service Men and Women, their dependents and widows.
So let us worship God as we pray the Collect for Purity. Let us pray: Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid; 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 Christ our Lord. Amen.
The word BLESMA is not unlike the word ‘blessing’. In French the word is ‘blessure’ which means a wound. It comes from the ancient term blōd from which we derive our word ‘blood’, and it is related to sacrifice, which itself means to make things sacred or holy. Now Jesus was wounded in his hands, in his feet and in his side. He made the ultimate sacrifice when his blood was shed on the Cross of Calvary. But, as the prophet Isaiah reminds us: “ He was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
Let us listen now to Jesus’ own description of what it means to be blessed. Stuart will read the Beatitudes which are sometimes known as the Beautiful Attitudes. Let us hear the Word of God in Matthew’s Gospel chapter 5: verses 1-10.
Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Such blessings involve sacrifice of one kind or another. And yet these sacrifices cannot possibly compare with the wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ. As the hymn of Isaac Watts reminds us: ‘There was no other good enough to pay the price of sin. He only could unlock the gate of heaven and let us in.’ Words echoing the Letter to the Hebrews at chapter 4 and verse 15, where we also learn that because Jesus was tested as we are we have a high priest who understands our wounds and our weaknesses.
When wounded people make a real sacrifice, losing their limbs or even their lives, Jesus understands because he has been there too. Whatever we think of war and peace there are men and women who are amputees with artificial limbs, whose sacrifices have contributed to our freedom. They need our prayers, our compassion and our financial help. The British Limbless Ex-Service Men’s Association – BLESMA - helps wounded men and women to receive the treatment they deserve, in situations where there are so many postcode lotteries, where the help available depends on where you live, and other inhibiting factors. And so this year in Connel Village at St Oran’s Church Hall our annual Charity Lunch is in aid of BLESMA and everyone is invited to come along on Tuesday 30th August between 12 Noon and 2.00 pm for a soup lunch and to make a gift of money for the work of BLESMA.
And now a Prayer of St Ignatius Loyola who after being seriously wounded at the Battle of Pamplona in 1521, underwent a spiritual conversion while in recovery. Let us pray:
teach me to be generous;
teach me to serve You as You deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labour and not to ask for any reward
save that of knowing I am doing Your Will. Amen.
And so let us sing that great hymn of Isaac Watts
Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were an offering far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
A Celtic Blessing
’Deep peace of the running wave to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the shining stars to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.