Good morning and welcome to the Auld Kirk; we also say hello to those watching on-line and to those listening on the dial a sermon service. Just a quick reminder that we will continue collecting throughout the month of October for the Food Bank. Before we begin, I want to reflect for a moment on the terrible killing of Sir David Amess MP. Sir David was elected almost forty years ago and has faithfully served this country and his constituency throughout those four decades. He was content to highlight and promote the area he represented; he had no desire to gain personal promotion or power. He was a wonderful example of how public service ought to be done. His death is an inditment on all of us for allowing our society to reach a stage where someone doing their civic duty is brutally murdered. His death ought to challenge us all, to do whatever we can to make our society a better place. We must not let this death become a barrier to good people like Sir David becoming MP's or MSP's or Assembly Members. Otherwise, we will get the politicians we deserve!!!Let us pray. Father God, we pray for the family of Sir David Amess; asking that they would be comforted by the outpouring of sympathy and compassion from across the nation. Remind them that he was a good man, trying to do good things for other people. We pray for politicians across the land as they reassess their situations and security. Assure them that the overwhelming majority of the nation do not wish them harm and that we as a nation will do all we can to support and protect them. We pray for this nation, help us to take a good look at ourselves and our society. Help us to weed out those traits and attitudes that allow such terrible actions to take place, so that we might build a better and safer country for all of its citizens. This we ask in Jesus name. Amen.
Let's begin with "I heard the voice of Jesus" Let us pray. Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvellous things. (Psalm 98:1)
Almighty and everlasting God, we join with the Psalmist of long ago in giving you our praise and worship - you have done marvellous things for us and we are glad.  You are the source and sustained of our lives, from you all things come and to you all things lead! Wherever and whoever we are, you are always with us, surrounding us with your love. Though we forsake you, you do not forsake us. Though we fail you, you do not fail us. Despite our repeated faithlessness, still your faithfulness continues, unchanging and undiminished.
Almighty and everlasting God, we thank you for your constant kindness, your unfailing love, your ceaseless provision of all our needs. We thank you for your mercy, your forgiveness, your amazing grace offered to us in Jesus Christ. We thank you for the joy, the hope, and the life you have given to us in him.
So now we offer to you this service, Our singing, our praying, our reading, our thinking As a token of our thanksgiving, And a symbol of the joy You have given to us through Christ.
Loving God, you have done marvellous things for us And made us glad. In you we put our trust, Now and for ever.
And hear now as we 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 Fraser Murray. Thank you, Fraser.
Our second hymn is "Angels Voices ever singing"
Reflection Over the past few weeks, I have been having lots of phone calls and discussions about the Presbytery Plan. Not about us and the Plan, but about the Prestwick Churches, because I am still the interim moderator for St Nicholas Church. Here in Ayr, we have had a very good response from all the Churches, but in Prestwick there is a great deal of misunderstanding and fear and that makes for difficult discussions. I do not know where things will end up. But in Ayr because we had been discussing the future ahead of the Presbytery Plan, we are still ahead of the game, but we cannot be complacent!!!!We have a choice to make. We can either sit in a darkened room and hope that everything will turn out right in the end or we can take our future into our own hands and make sure that no matter what happens at Presbytery or General Assembly, that we know where we are going, how we are going to get there and that we have the resources required to achieve our ambition. We have to rise to the challenges contained in the Bible and in the Book of Joel in particular. In the writings of the prophet Joel, we read about the woes and worries of the people of God. We heard about how they have been conquered and exiled; their cities destroyed and their people scattered. And then Joel reminds them that they are still the people of God, the chosen ones, that they are on God's side and that he has ordained that one day his power will be seen on earth in all its glory. That everyone who opposes his rule will be brought to book and made to kneel before him. In other words that there is nothing on this earth or in the spiritual realms that can stand against God and stop his plan for creation from coming together. Our world might be in chaos, the Church might be in chaos, but God is still in control and our future is secure as along as we keep the faith, follow his commands and make sure that we have something positive to contribute to the building of the Kingdom of God.
So, what do we have to do?
The first thing we have to do is to decide what our purpose is. Why does the Auld Kirk exist? What are we here to do? We need to spend some time thinking through what our role is and then deciding what our core priorities are. Part of our problem is that we have been here for so long that we now take our existence for granted; we just keep on doing the same things that we have always been doing, assuming that that is what God still wants us to do. We need to stop and ask ourselves, ask God, if that is what he still wants us to do. Is holding a service at 11am on a Sunday morning still the number one priority of the Auld Kirk or is there is something even more important than that, that we should be doing? Is our work with schools given a high enough priority? Do we offer the right kinds of groups to help the adults in the Church on their journey of faith? What opportunities do we offer the people outside the Church Family that make us an essential part of the community we are supposed to be serving? For too long we have lived on past glories, we have assumed that as the Town Kirk, with a wonderful history, that we have some sort of divine right to simply go on existing. But remember the people of Israel, the chosen race, they took their status as the people of God for granted and look what happened to them!!!The problem we face is that we do not fit the profile that the Church of Scotland works towards in its planning. They judge the viability of a congregation, partly on its financial status, but mostly on the size and make up of the parish. They believe that a parish should contain around 7000 people, we have less than half that number. They believe that the workload of the Minister is determined by the number of funerals, weddings etc that they do; we have a relatively low number of funerals and weddings compared to some others. What they do not take into account, are things like school- work or work with the Local Authority and the military, which we have in the past placed a high value on. Now I am not saying that we ought to stop doing what we have been doing or that we should change our priorities to bring them into line with what 121 wants. What I am saying is that when our status and our very existence is challenged and it will be, that we are in a position to not only defend ourselves, but to show that we have a thought out and resourced vision of where we are going and how we are going to get there!!!!We are not going to be like other congregations who have simply sat in the dark denying that the boat is sinking, believing that somehow, they will just keep muddling through. We are going to not only build a life raft for ourselves, but one that will save others as well!!!We are going to be inspired, just as Joel was inspired, to cling onto God's promise that his kingdom will come and that we will play a central role in its coming. So as the planning process begins I lay this challenge before you, when the Session comes to you over the next few months and asks for your ideas and your help and your support; don't think that they are just being polite in asking you and that they already have the solution, they don't; get involved by making suggestions and by supporting whatever is being organised to help us determine in what direction our future ought to be. It is only by working together that we will discover God's Vision for the people of the Auld Kirk!!!
Then having decided on where we are going, we are then going to have to work out who is going to do whatever it is we organise. It is very easy for people to come up with good ideas and new suggestions of how we can be the people of God; the real problem comes when you ask for volunteers, for workers. Too often the answer is that we are too busy, too old, too involved already. The reality is that if we cannot get the people we need to run the organisations and the ventures we think are vital to the future of this congregation, then maybe it is time to pull the plug. Maybe the Auld Kirk has run its course and it is time to let someone else take up the reigns. The challenge of this process is not just about where the Auld Kirk is going, it is a challenge to each one of us to do a little bit of introspection. In the light of what God has done for us, have we really done enough, are we really too busy to do something else for Him, are we really too old to be of use? Only you can answer those questions and only you can decide what the future of the Auld Kirk will be!!!
Finally, having worked out what our priorities are and having found the people to resource them, we have to make sure that we have the finances to back all that up. For years the Session has struggle with a deficit in the accounts; more money going out than coming in. Yes, we have sold the farm and we do have a nice little nest egg, but let me remind you of just a few of the expenses we are gong to have to face in the coming months.£110, 000 for the hall roof; £60,000 for the halls windows; £13,000 to repaint the inside of the Church; at least £5,000 to restore the stain glass window in the Sailor's Loft. That knocks a rather large hole in the nest egg!!!!The bottom line is that we need more money, because cuts can only take you so far, you can only make so many efficiency savings. Now I am not suggesting that we should have another stewardship campaign, because I know that the people gathered here this morning are the ones who already give well to the Auld Kirk. What I am challenging you to do, is to go and speak to those members who do not attend and encourage, cajole or even drag them back to the Kirk, because only then will we tackle our budget deficit. The next few months and years are going to be difficult for the Nation and the Church, but I believe that we have the people in the Auld Kirk who will not only rise to that challenge, but will thrive on it and we will end up with a stronger and more focused congregation The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few", let's rise to the challenge and keep the Auld Kirk legacy fresh and vibrant for another 350 years!!!
Let us pray 
Loving God,
so often we fail to thank you for all we have received. We are quick to ask for more but slow to appreciate what we have already receive We are quick to bring our requests but slow to show gratitude when they are granted. We are quick to complain when life is hard but slow to rejoice when it is good. Loving God, forgive us, and receive now these gifts, offered to you as our way of saying what we should have said so many times before :Thank you for everything!
Living God, we pray for those people who have lost hope - in their dreams, their circumstances, or in life itself. Lord of all hopefulness, hear our prayer.
We pray for those who have lost the hope of finding a partner or of raising a family, the hope of going to college, university, or further studies, the hope of finding a home or any permanent roof over their heads, the hope of securing employment or a use for their skills. Lord of all hopefulness, hear our prayer.
We pray for those who despair of seeing freedom, justice, peace or reconciliation; those who despair of finding adequate food and clothing; those who despair of receiving help and healing. Lord of all hopefulness, hear our prayer.
We pray for those who have given up on life - those with terminal illness who have lost the will to keep on fighting; those whose spirits have been crushed so that they can no longer bounce back; those who want to take their own lives because they have lost all hope; those so afflicted by starvation and disease that they cannot carry on. Lord of all hopefulness, hear our prayer.
Living God, there is so much despair in our world, and for many there seems little reason to hope. Reach out, we pray, to all whose belief in the future has been destroyed, and grant new dreams where the old have died, rekindled purpose where confidence has been undermined support when there seems to be nothing left to hold on to and hope that one day your kingdom will come and your will be done. Lord of all hopefulness, hear our prayer, in the name of Christ. Amen.
We close with "To God be the glory"
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 you love, now and evermore. Amen.
God bless and keep safe.