The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections from Dorothy Neilson 

Sunday - 8 August 2021

Good morning, friends in Crail and St Ayle,

Gathering into the presence of God.

Lord God of all, I offer you my worries, I bring you my brokenness, and I surrender my striving.  As I rest in your presence, I receive your peace.  Amen.

In today’s reflection we are looking at ELIJAH, one of the Old Testament prophets.  He lived roughly 3,000 years ago in the Middle East and was a man of God. 

1st Kings chapter 19, verses 18– 19

Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat.  He was ploughing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair.  Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him.

Elijah was getting towards the end of his life and was being asked by God to pass his mantle on to Elisha.  And so he went to find Elisha in the fields with all his oxen and oxen drivers and placed his cloak on Elisha’s back.  Elisha was to carry on Elijah’s work after he died.

Today would have been my mother-in-law’s 101st birthday.  Yesterday would have been my father’s 100th.  The 9th anniversary of my Mum’s death was 3 days ago.  And so I am reminded of the cloaks which have already been part of my life. My Dad’s cloak.  His loyalty, his trustworthiness.  His love for his Heavenly Father that he eventually passed on to me.  My Mum’s perfectionism and discontent.  That also was laid on my back and in many ways I suffered from that.  But also her way of giggling with her hand over her mouth because she didn’t like her teeth!  Her need to have a comb and lipstick to hand at all times.  I look back and am thankful for a set of life skills learned, knowingly or unknowingly, from the cloaks they laid upon me. 

 

But what about MY cloak?  Who am I, knowingly or unknowingly, for good or ill, influencing in my daily dance through life?  How do I affect the people around me?  And what is my legacy to others, all wrapped up in my cloak?  What whiff of perfume am I leaving in my wake that others might pick up?

 

I am reminded here of the fruits of the Holy Spirit which are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  There is no national law that insists that we display all these qualities.  Oh how I wish it was part of the law of the land!  But they aren’t.  They are God’s law.  Laws for us, HIS people.  Part of Jesus’ cloak which we, as children of God, have placed upon us.  How rich, how colourful, how absolutely delightful would a whiff of that perfume be! 

 

And so, I first of all have to wonder about what MY cloak is like.  How does MY cloak feel?  What colour is it?  What’s in the pockets that I would like to pass on?    

        

Over the many years of my life I have worn my cloak, albeit invisibly and unknowingly, in every situation I have ever been in.  Some days it has been a dark and gloomy colour when I was feeling low and cheerless.  Other times it may be a myriad of colours as I bounce around on a happy day, shedding my buoyancy to all I meet.  It is pretty frayed at the edges by this time in my life, the hem has had to be sewn up many times.  The pocket has a hole in it.  And the fabric is worn thin.  It has accompanied my journeying for many, many years.   But it is ME.  It is what I pass on to people, knowingly or unknowingly. 

Make no mistake!  Who we are, how we behave and what we say makes an impression on everyone around us.  For good or ill.  Knowingly or unknowingly.  People are affected by us, by our every passing word and our ever-changing mood.  Maybe we don’t really care what others think of us.  But it is a responsibility to treat others in the way we would like to be treated.  To pass on some of the properties of Jesus’ cloak to those around us. 

 

So let us think about these words.  And ponder.  What do we want OUR legacy to be?  What will others want to enjoy from our cloaks?  Love?  Joy? Peace?  Patience?  Kindness?  Goodness?  Faithfulness?  Gentleness?  Self-control?  Always leave behind us a whiff of the most precious perfume.        

            

Prayer

So, Lord, what am I passing on to the people around me?  Am I displaying ANY of these qualities you talk about in the New Testament?  Love?  Joy?  Peace?  When did someone feel my cloak of love and care for them?  Or are they more likely to have felt my impatience and my scorn? 

MAY MY CLOAK BE ONE OF LOVE AND JOY AND PEACE THAT THOSE AROUND ME MIGHT FEEL YOUR GOODNESS.

Lord, I confess I’m not always good at patience or kindness or goodness.  Please show me how.  I remember Jesus’ patience with people, often the awkward person or the incomer or the people we would naturally despise.  I need help here.

MAY MY CLOAK BE ONE OF PATIENCE, KINDNESS AND GOODNESS THAT THOSE AROUND ME MIGHT FEEL YOUR GOODNESS.

Faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?  Oh my…….    Am I known for my gentleness?  How faithful a friend am I?  And self-control???  Maybe not my strongest quality.  Help me Lord.

MAY MY CLOAK BE ONE OF FAITHFULNESS, GENTLENESS AND SELF-CONTROL SO THAT THOSE AROUND ME MIGHT FEEL YOUR GOODNESS.                      

Amen.           

Dorothy Neilson