Material for Worship for Carers Week 2021

Nerys writes: As you light your candle this morning and prepare your heart for worship, I invite you to think of the people you know who care for others. Once you start counting, I’m sure you’d be surprised to find that there are quite a few – folk who are looking after family members who have a disability, a mental or physical illness or who need extra help as they grow older. You may be receiving care yourself or have been a care-giver in the past. You’ll be aware how difficult it has been for carers during this past year and how important it is to recognise the contribution they make to their families, to the local community and to society as a whole, and ensure that they get the support they need.

Today I will be joined at the morning and evening services by Kate Sainsbury from Comrie. I first got to know Kate as a fellow Lay Reader many years ago but when I asked her how she would describe herself, this is what she said:

I have been a carer for almost thirty five years, since my son, Louis, developed meningitis aged three days, leaving him with profound brain injury. This is the non-negotiable WHO I am. Caring involves all kinds of activities: personal care, project management, advocacy, translating, research; it requires a lot of mental agility: planning ahead, reflecting, noticing, collaborating. Caring often requires you give away your own desire, but it can compensate, too, with moments of joy. Somebody said, ’if you can’t do what you want, want what you can do.’ Another spoke of ‘being an ambassador’, communicating the value of the person you care for by how you speak of them. I’d say, too, caring wasn’t a role I chose: it chose me. It shaped me. I used to resent it, now I love it.

Today is an opportunity to reflect on the vocation of caring. The strapline for this year’s Carers Week is ‘Make Caring Visible and Valued’. We can offer to God the serving of the carers we know and ask God’s blessing on them.


But first, I invite you to read or sing the words of a hymn that is well known to you as David plays the tune. It was chosen by Kate because it’s Louis’ favourite hymn. Let’s use it as a prayer of preparation.

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
re-clothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
beside the Syrian sea,
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word
rise up and follow thee.

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

John Greenleaf Whittier

Caring can be so difficult without proper support, so exhausting, so isolating and lonely. Everything else is put on hold and it’s easy for resentment to creep in. In our psalm today, Psalm 130, read by Morag, the author’s honesty encourages us all to bring any negative feelings or thoughts to God, knowing that we are not alone or without hope.

The Gospel for today is Mark 3.20-35, read here by Morag.

I asked Kate is there was anything in the passage that spoke to her:

What struck me was the way it shows Jesus’ biological family being replaced by a new ‘family’, made up of his followers, who we know were from all walks of life, all united through commitment to him. There is a resemblance for me, of the ‘family’ of care, who form around somebody needing support.

It reminds me of all the people who’ve ever helped me care for Louis, from his first childminder, though school, to the team growing around him, who will care for him when he moves out of hospital into his own house, at Appletree. I always needed help because Louis’ needs were too great for me to meet alone. That is still true. And as I get older, the best thing I can do for Louis is to build him a long-term future, working with the parents of the housemates he will share with, and a professional care organisation, Scottish Autism.

Appletree is the community, at Aberuthven, where Louis is going to live. He is offering two places in his spacious converted steading home, in order to benefit from community living. Scottish Autism’s values are to enable all people to live healthy, happy, fulfilled lives. At Appletree, families and professional carers are building relationships of mutual regard. Offering and receiving hospitality will be a core part of regular activities, along with the creative arts, living healthily in nature.

Appletree was founded and continues in prayer and faith. We hope that our story brings something to your life.

Take some time now to pray for your own situation,

for those you care for now or have cared for in the past,
for those who care for you,
for family and friends.

Pray for those known to you and for the 6.5 million people in the UK who are carers.
Pray for children who care for their parents or siblings.
Pray for those in positions of influence, who could provide more appropriate and generous support for carers.
Give thanks for the hope that the Appletree Community represents, praying that the vision may be realised and that we at St Mary’s may be part of the circle of support for Louis and others for years to come.

You may wish to finish your time of prayer by reading or singing the words of ‘Take my life and let it be’ as David plays the tune.

Take my life, and let it be
consecrated, Lord, to thee;
take my moments and my days,
let them flow in ceaseless praise.

Take my hands, and let them move
at the impulse of thy love;
take my feet, and let them be
swift and beautiful for thee.

Take my voice, and let me sing
always, only, for my King;
take my lips, and let them be
filled with messages from thee.

Take my silver and my gold;
not a mite would I withhold;
take my intellect, and use
every power as thou shalt choose.

Take my will and make it thine:
it shall be no longer mine;
take my heart: it is thine own;
it shall be thy royal throne.

Take my love; my Lord, I pour
at thy feet its treasure store;
take my self, and I will be
ever, only, all for thee.

Frances Ridley Havergal