We know not everyone who is part of Westwood Church is able to be in church on Sunday morning and at a time like the celebration of the 60th Anniversary we though it would be good to offer some excerpts from that service held on Sunday 15 May 2022. Where we can, we offer parts of the service in text and audio file, whichever works best for you. If you want to plug in headphones to your computer, tablet or mobile phone now is a good time to do it ! If you want to offer some comment or feedback just use the comment box at the end of this post.
Ephesians 2: 19 – 23
1 Peter 2: 1 – 10
Prayers of Approach
God, the Almighty, mysterious and distant, hidden from our eyes, yet visible to us in Christ, revealed and in plain sight; we acknowledge you as Lord of all, the first and last, the Alpha and Omega, existing before time began eternal and everlasting.
We thank you this day for your loving relationship with your people throughout history and we thank you for your loving relationship with us, this gathering of your people here in Westwood through the last 60 years. We are but a drop in the ocean of two millennia of Christian history but still you love us with your whole heart. We are everything to you and you are everything to us.
You Lord, have sustained us; called us to be together, strengthened us to face the challenges of being a worshipping congregation, building faith, building, fellowship, building buildings, and experiencing the joy that comes through the common bond of faith.
We thank you Lord, that our journey together is far from over. There are new experiences, new things to learn, new joys to discover, new songs of praise to sing. This is a time of looking forward sure in the knowledge that nothing in the past, nor in the present can separate us from the love of God which is ours in Christ Jesus the Lord.
As you have offered yourself to us, fully, whole heartedly, sacrificially, so now Lord Jesus we offer ourselves afresh to you, to live our lives in response to your love. Accept us with all our imperfections and use us to your Glory. Accept our gifts of time and talents, of thought and will, of care and kindness so that through faith in you we might offer ourselves to each other and to our neighbour fully, whole heartedly, sacrificially.
Hear us as we join in the words of the Lord’s Prayer saying…
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 forever. Amen.
Compared to let’s say Glasgow Cathedral with its 900 years of history our 60 years is but a drop in the ocean. Nonetheless, our 60 years is as packed with stories, hopes and dreams, disappointments and upsets, success and failures as any other church – even Glasgow Cathedral.
I don’t know if we have anyone with us today who was at the very first service in Duncanrig School on 19 May 1962. Hands up if you were…. No need to be shy you are not exactly confessing to being old ! There are certainly some here today who I know have grown up in this church, baptised here as an infant, Sunday School and all the rest, and unless the course of life changes drastically this is the place where they will always come to offer their worship. For some of us this is the place within which we have raised our children to know the Christian faith, and rejoiced when our grandchildren have come for baptism. 60 years may be a comparatively short time, yet it is enough to span the generations and offer something constant across the face of ever changing patterns. And if you have been part of this church for 50 / 60 years might there be a sense within you that you have helped build something for your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren to inherit. This place is not just for us, it’s for our children and our children’s children, it is for the stranger, the outcast, for all who wish to enter these doors. We have built this, sustained this not for ourselves but for others.
I cannot claim to have shared anything like 60 years with you; 25 years is my greatest boast yet that has allowed me to share with you in the 40th, 50th and now 60th anniversary of Westwood Church. An anniversary which has never celebrated the existence of a building but always marked the date, place and time when people first came together to share a common faith in Jesus Christ and to offer their service to Him.
I can look back on the concert held in this sanctuary at our 40th celebrations; the Skylarks sang, Hinge and Bracket made us laugh and everyone was encouraged to attend wearing something they might have worn in 1962. I too brought my outfit from 1962 – a terry nappy !!! For the avoidance of doubt, I was not wearing the nappy.
Come our 50th anniversary we took time to look back with pictures from the past of people with whom we have shared our journey, people who have come and gone, who were with us for a time and moved on to other places, people who had since passed away, people who participated quietly and in the background, those who served as elders, those who were upfront, high profile champions of change, the ones who motivated us with their energy, enthusiasm and faith.
Somewhere in the middle of that reflecting and looking back we created the stained glass window that graces the Hall of Fellowship. To be honest I cannot now recall exactly when the window was created; it was a process that took the best part of three years. We almost don’t notice it now; the eye grows accustomed. I do recall that project growing arms and legs and becoming much more extensive and expensive than we originally planned. Yet the feeling that it created for some of us was that we now had a proper church, we had removed some of the neutral colours and created a place of symbolism, perhaps even inspiration.
The scripture readings today are the ones used in the creation of that window. 1 Peter in particular speaks of us as “living stones used in building the spiritual temple”. We gave the designer, Moira Parker of Rainbow Glass, a real challenge incorporating the concept of “living stones” into the window design. But that’s what we are. We are a living, breathing, sensing, moving, creative, adaptive community of people. We have been all of that for 60 years and we have no reason to stop being that.
We have in our 40th and 50th celebrations done our share of looking back. At the time I hope it was the right thing to do but we can only do so much looking back, hankering for the good old bad old days, and “it’s not how it used to be” and end up feeling diminished in the here and now and pessimistic about the future. Too much looking back does us a great dis-service, clinging to what once was, mourning what used to be, we blind ourselves to the opportunities of today and silence the hopes of tomorrow.
Curiously, emerging from the pandemic has also created a sense of loss and looking back, mourning for the things and patterns and people we lost along the way. Curiously, the struggles the Church of Scotland faces as a denomination is causing us to look back on what we once were; we feel like the vultures are circling above us, clinging to the past we fail to appreciate the life we have; the opportunities today brings and the hopes of tomorrow.
Today celebrating 60 years since we first gathered in the worship of Jesus Christ I implore you not to look back but to rejoice in the here and now, rejoice that our journey continues, give thanks that we have found a way to be here this day and that we can still place our hope in Christ for the future. We are a living, breathing, sensing, moving, creative, adaptive community of people. We have been all of that for 60 years and by the grace of God we always shall be. AMEN.
Prayers for Others
You are the Lord of Life. You are the Lord of all that brings life, all that sustains, all that quickens and invigorates. Lord bring to us the gift of life.
We pray then for all who know loss, for whom the joy of life is diminished, grieving for someone they have loved. In time may they know healing of the wounds that cut so deeply. In time may they find again the joy of life and cherishing precious memories of love shared move forward into life sustained by your gracious hand. Lord Jesus hear our prayers…
We pray for families anxious for the future unable to cope with rising costs, who face making hard choices on how family budgets are spent. We pray for those in retirement with limited incomes not able to enjoy life because finances are so restricted. We pray for all who feel the future is bleak and see no way out of their dilemmas. Lord bring to them the hope that comes through faith that you will sustain them. Lord we pray for those who are anxious for the future…
We pray for churches anxious for the future and those bravely embracing major changes to the life and pattern of their church. Where buildings have expired and alternatives must be found, where numbers have declined and church life can no longer be sustained, Lord may there be grace to let go of the past and the hope of new life where faith is creative, hopeful and fresh. Lord we pray for churches anxious for the future…
Lord Jesus we thank you for hearing the prayers we have offered. May we through grace and faith be an answer to prayer as we offer ourselves to others in loving service learning to love the Lord our God and our neighbour as ourself. AMEN.
A Time of Renewal and Promise
In this place we have raised our voices in song, we have danced, laughed with each other, cried with each other, hugged and embraced, made friends, fallen out with friends, found reconciliation, forgiveness and grace. Everything that is human, we have brought before our Lord and God and offered it to him in this place.
Within this place, God’s House, we offer ourselves to the One who is eternal and holds the future in His hands. We come to express our trust in Him for the future, whatever that future is, and wait with anticipation for our God to open that future to us.
I invite you now to renew that sense of God calling us onward into the future and ask you to stand together as we take these promises.
Will you please stand.
Giving thanks for the past, yet not bound to it nor grieving for it, do you promise to trust in Christ alone for the unfolding of our future? We do
Believing ourselves to be “living stones” creative and adaptable, do you promise to offer your creativity to the life of this church and insofar as your faith will allow you, adapt to new expressions of life and faith within this church? We do
Believing that we have heard the call of Christ to be his people in this place and in this parish do you promise to summon your strength, your vigour, your spirit, to re-build, to reach out, to renew and replenish in response to that calling? We do.
May our Lord Jesus bless us as we strive to keep the promises made this day. May the gift of the Holy Spirit be upon us so that we might be one with each other and one with Christ, learning to love the Lord our God and our neighbour as ourselves.
Please be seated.
Father God, we acknowledge gratefully all that lies in our past, the decisions made in faith that have brought us to this day. Erring and wandering, uncertain and often confused you have carried us through it all and kept us safe, kept us secure within the faith. Give us the strength now to look not back but to look ever forward knowing that in the uncertainty of our times, in our confusion and erring and wandering you will still lead us into the future you have planned for us. So, help us to be bold knowing that with you we cannot fail to take hold of the future you have in store for us. AMEN.
And now may the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you and all whom you love now and forever more. AMEN.