Hello and welcome to the Auld Kirk and a particularly warm welcome to those listening on the Dial A Sermon Service.

Whiteleys retreat provides free therapeutic short brakes for children, young people and their families with cancer and life altering illnesses.

At Whiteleys, the gardens are central to provide a sense of peace while stimulating the interaction with the environment. We are working to make them more beautiful with a wider variety of plants. Could you help? Your donations of plants, pots or even hanging baskets would be very well received.

I don't know how many of you are aware that the church actually owns a farm called Sessionfield. It is on the Patna Road beyond what was the digital computer factory.

We were gifted this back in the 1700's, under the Blackwood Mortification; sounds impressive.

For the last 70+ year the Johnstone's have been the tenants; sadly, Mary Johnstone passed away last year and the farm reverted back to the Kirk Session's control.

After lengthy investigation, discussion and debate, the Session has decided to sell the farm building and four acres of land and to retain the rest of the land and rent it out.

This means that we should raise the rest of the capital required to repair the hall roof and to upgrade the hall. All monies already gifted towards that purpose will still be used for that purpose; so, thank you again for your generosity.

It will also mean that we get an annual income from the land and none of the hassle of owing it.

The main reason for keeping the land is that now that the Corton Estate is becoming a reality, our land is just over one mile from the edge of that development and will undoubtedly become more valuable as time passes and builders look to buy up more land for housing.

So, if you know of anyone who might be interested in buying a farm building and some land, let me know asap, because there are a number of people already interested and we are hoping for a quick sale!

Update on numbers attending worship.

Let's sit and listen to, "Christ is our light".

Let us pray.

Gracious God,

we thank you for our country - for its history,

its traditions, its culture,

and its abundance of good things. You have given us much to celebrate:

receive our praise.

We thank you for the riches we enjoy as a society¬ material comforts in abundance,

freedom of speech and worship,

security through our health service and welfare state, beautiful countryside and thriving towns and cities; all this, and so much more.

You have given us much to celebrate:

receive our praise.

We thank you that we have so much to be proud of and grateful for.

But we thank you also today for our world - its rich assortment of nations,

and the histories and traditions which are part of them, an awesome diversity of countries and continents,

and languages within them;

a fascinating mixture of people, places, customs, cultures, with so much to teach us and so much to offer.

You have given us much to celebrate:

receive our praise.

We thank you for everything that contributes towards the world-wide community -

the insights of different religions and philosophies, the interchange of ideas between races and cultures, the promotion of dialogue concerning global issues,

the desire to establish justice and peace among all nations.

You have given us much to celebrate:

receive our praise.

We thank you that we all have something to receive from the wider world,

and something to offer it;

that our horizons are constantly being stretched, and our thinking broadened.

You have given us much to celebrate:

receive our praise.

Gracious God,

you have given us one world.

Help us to live as responsible citizens within it, united together in our common humanity, and bound together in you.

You have given us much to celebrate:

receive our praise,

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And hear now as we silently say our family prayer together.

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.

For ever and ever.

Amen.

Our reader this morning is Sandra.

Thank you, Sandra.

Imitating Christ's humility

Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness by becoming obedient to death -even death on a cross!  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,

to the glory of God the Father.

Reflection

It is bad enough that elections come around every five years and we have to listen to politicians contradicting one another and arguing over everything and anything. e.g. when one says black, the other says white.

With any luck they will all get knocked down on a zebra crossing!!

This year is even more depressing, because not only do we have to contend with the Holyrood elections, we are also having to contend with covid.

This morning I want to concentrate on the Holyrood elections.

I would of course like to ignore the whole thing, but I can't, because the governance of our Nation matters, the Bible tells us that it our Christian duty to get involved in the running of the country.

It is vital that we as Christians take the Election seriously.

It is not something that we can dismiss, something that we can let others worry about. We have to get involved, it is our Christian Duty. God has given us the responsibility to govern ourselves and we must administer that responsibility wisely.

A little girl asked her father, "Do all fairy tales begin with once upon a time?". "No", replied her father, "some begin with, if you vote for me"!!!!

It has always been my policy to preach one sermon referring to an Election and then to declare a politics free zone in the Church until polling day. Anyone caught violating the neutral zone will be forced to watch reruns of every party political broadcast ever made, including Alex Salmond and George Galloway..

Today I intend to preach on the subject of what the Bible tells us is required of those called to service, because that is the job of the politician. They are called to Public Service and not personal advancement.

Someone once said, very wisely in my opinion, that anyone who wanted to become an M.P. or MSP or Local Councillor, should never be allowed, because they are offices that should be offered and not sought.

If our political leaders want to improve their image with the Public, then they could do worse than to look to the example of Jesus and the way he conducted himself.

Jesus never sought out the task of coming to earth to face us; God asked him to come and in response to that request he took on the role.

Too many of our political leaders see the position as a career move, an opportunity to move up the social ladder and to accumulate personal wealth, power and prestige. Whereas the role is really one of putting self on hold and serving the interests of others.

Philippians chapter 2 ought to be compulsory reading for every prospective candidate.

Jesus gave up all the power and prestige of heaven, when he came to earth. He could easily have expected us to bow down and worship him, but he didn't, because God had asked him to serve us and that was how he lived out his life, as the servant of mankind.

Remember how he washed his Disciples feet at the Last Supper!!!

He actively sought out the people he could help and when he found them, he spared nothing, not even his life, to assist them.

Our Politicians need to learn the lesson that they are in power to serve the people, not to dictate to them; they need to rediscover what true humility is; it is recognising that when others place their trust in you, you become the servant, not the other way around.

If there were more servants in government, then this country would far better served, than it is at present.

When you vote on May 6th, vote for the candidate who you think understands the meaning of servanthood, in the way Jesus practised it.

But Jesus wasn't just a good servant, he also had a vision, a positive outlook on life and on people. He didn't look at others and see friend or foe; he saw brother and sister in need of love and attention.

So, when he saw Zaccheus hiding in the tree, he didn't see a capitalist out to cheat the poor working classes. He saw a man in desperate need of friendship, someone who needed an ally to show him another way, a better way. And because Jesus took the time to care, Zaccheus changed and became an asset to society, rather than a liability.

When Jesus saw the blind beggar, he didn't see a parasite living of the hard work and sweat of others. He saw a man who needed the obstacles, that stopped him from looking after himself and his family, removed and so he healed him.

Today, I see and hear far too many politicians trying to blame the ills of our society on certain groups.

The left wing blames the institutions and wealthy of making excess profits at the expense of the workers.

And it has to be said that sometimes they are right, but slinging mud around won't change that. A consensus has to be found which will be mutually beneficial to both sides or eventually we will all suffer.

As job security declines, so will commitment to a firm, production will suffer and so will profits, people will be laid off and so it will go on, an ever steeping spiral of decline.

But the same is true of the other side. The right wing point the finger at the unemployed and the single parents and blame them for the crime and vandalism and the ever rising benefits bill. But they don't try to address the problems that lead to people being unemployable or being single parents.

We don't need people with a negative view of life or those around them, to be leading our country. Single parents often give more love and attention to their children, than some mothers or fathers in a two parent family. Many unemployed people contribute more to society through voluntary work, than those with jobs.

Of course, there are bad apples in society and they need to be caught and punished; even Jesus acknowledged that fact, but that should not be our primary objective.

We need people who see a bright future for everyone. We need people who are willing to work hard to find solutions to the problems in schools, the health service, industry; solutions that comes from a genuine desire to see the whole of society thrive and not just from a desire to see their dogma reign.

Jesus always saw the good in people and showed them how to find their full potential.

On May 6th vote for the candidate who has the most positive vision for our land, for all our people.

The next area that the politicians would learn from Jesus, is how to get your message across.

I don't know about anyone else, but I am sick and tired of hearing what the SNP believes from the Labour Party or what the Labour Party thinks from Greens.

I want to hear the First Minister explaining her own ideas and not rubbishing someone else's.

What I don't want is every party rubbishing their opponents, rather than highlighting their own policies.

I find it very patronising to have someone pointing out the shortcomings of others to me, assuming that I can't see it for myself.

Jesus respected the people he came into contact with. There are many stories in the N.T. which record episodes when Jesus spent time discussing issues with his opponents and never once did he stoop to name calling.

He never tried to rubbish his opponents. He laid out his stall and he allowed people to choose and if they followed, he was delighted; if they rejected him, he was heart broken, but he respected their choice.

You don't see Jesus badgering the Rich Young Ruler to change his mind and to give up his wealth. You don't see Jesus telling the pharisees that God hates them, because they won't listen to what he is trying to tell them.

Jesus always tried to put his point forward in a positive way, pointing out the benefits, yet he always listened respectfully to someone else's point of view and he respected the opinion of others.

Too many politicians can only see one side of the argument and are only willing to listen to one side of the debate.

It would be refreshing to see opponents recognising the good in others, because that is vital if democracy is to be successful.

On May 6th vote for the candidate who talks about his own beliefs and who respects the views of others.

The final lesson that our politicians could learn from Jesus is how to use the power that they have been given wisely.

Right at the beginning of the Gospels, when Jesus was starting out on his ministry, God tested him to see how he would use the power that had been put in his possession.

He was tempted in three different ways. Firstly, to see if he would use the power to satisfy his wants by turning the stones into bread. Then he was asked to use his power to influence the minds of men and women, by getting them to follow, not because they believed in who he was, but because of the miracles he could perform. Finally, he was tempted to win the world by bowing down to the devil.

Our politicians are tempted and tested in exactly the same way.

Lobbbygate is an example of politicians' using their position for personal gain and it is an abuse of that position. It is the same as Jesus being tempted to turn the stones into bread.

Offering people promises that cannot possibly be aforded, is none other than bribery and giving false and empty hope. It is the same as Jesus using miracles to make people believe in him, rather than believing because what he said was true.

Moving up the political ladder by lying and cheating is the same as Jesus bowing to the devil, it destroys everything you stand for.

I am not saying that any particular politician. is guilty of any of these things; what I am saying is that they will be tempted in these ways, because that is the way of the world.

Politicians are constantly under pressure to compromise themselves, either personally or politically and we should be sympathetic towards them on that point and we should be praying for them far more often than we do!!!

But we should also be looking at how our politicians deal with that temptation.

So, on May 6th vote for the candidate whom you think is best able to exercise the power you will give them, not for personal glory, but for the good of all.

Whenever a Minister enters the political arena, as I have done today, they risk criticism and today I am sure that some of you have been uncomfortable with some of the things I have said.

But although I have told you how to vote, you cannot say that I have told you who to vote for, because at the end of the day, using the check list I have suggested, we could still all vote for different people, because we are still all allowed our opinion on who is the best candidate and that is as it should be.

But what will happen I am sure, is that if enough people take their vote seriously and if enough people take their faith seriously, then more of the politicians elected to Holyrood on the 6th of May will be of the calibre required to govern this country wisely and in agreement with God's will and that can only be good for the country and for the people of Scotland.

At the end the day, we get the government and the politicians that we deserve. This time, let your faith rule your vote.

AMEN

Helen is going to lead us in prayer.

Thank you, Helen.

We close with "Guide me O thou great Jehovah".

And now may grace, mercy and peace; from God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit, be with you and all those whom you love; now and evermore. Amen.

God bless and keep safe.