The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle
Reflections from Rev. John Murray
Sunday 28 March 2021
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Due to the easing of restrictions on worship made by the Scottish Government, and after discussions by the Kirk Sessions, we will be returning to gathering together for worship from next Sunday, April 4th which is Easter Sunday. As numbers are still restricted, seats must be booked in advance each week by contacting Linda, Elizabeth or Helen. The service in each parish will be at 10.30am. The Reflections will continue to be delivered week by week and will be posted on the church websites. Rev John will lead worship in Crail and St Ayle on alternate Sundays as before, and in the parish each Sunday where he is not leading worship, there will be recorded input from John and led by various members using the worship service John will prepare. The sermon will also be on the church websites.
On Easter Sunday John will lead worship in Crail and Rev Hugh Wallace will lead worship in Cellardyke church, both at 10.30am.
This is a solemn yet joyful week for the church as we remember the journey of Jesus to the Cross. The Right Reverend Martin Fair, the Moderator, has produced daily reflections for Holy Week and these can be accessed each day after 8am on 0333 340 9200, and they will also be on the church websites.
Come to live Zoom worship on Sunday 28th March
Today is Palm Sunday, and we remember Jesus coming into Jerusalem to his death and fulfilment of his vocation as the suffering servant. So many emotions and thoughts, must have been in his heart, and yet he will show wonderful poise and presence as he enters the city which is rejecting him. Jesus faces into the challenges and does not try to avoid them. He remains open, engaged and receptive, showing great care and love for his disciples. The King is coming to claim his Kingdom!
Isaiah 50:4-9 The Sovereign LORD has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. The Sovereign LORD has opened my ears; I have not been rebellious; I have not turned away. I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting. Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, have I set my face like flint, and I know I will not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me! It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me. Who will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up.
Mark 11:1-11 Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!”. And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.
A word for the weary: a word for us.
As Christians, we believe the ‘righteous person’ referred to in the Isaiah passage is Jesus, portrayed there as the Suffering Servant who brings a word to sustain the weary. The Word became flesh, and dwelt and suffered among us and for us. The Word now sustains us weary folk: praise be to our Lord and Saviour!
The picture above is the present view from the Mount of Olives to the old city of Jerusalem (with the new one behind). Jesus on Palm Sunday rode a donkey down to the valley where lies the Garden of Gethsemane. This would be a momentous week for Jesus, for his disciples, for Jerusalem and its history. Jesus had cried out that “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.’
As we walk through this week, may we let Jesus give us the words to sustain us, and may we let him gather us in, as a hen her chicks.
Approach to God
Living God, as we step into Holy Week, open our hearts and minds. May this coming week be holy for us. May we live this time expecting that in some way you will meet us. In whatever way we live this week, give us the times and spaces to ponder again, that you know and understand suffering and you offer to meet us and hear again – our struggles over this past year and old pains that have not healed for us. Inner struggles that never quite seem to go away. May this week help us to name and offer to you our wounds. Loving God, we may not have the words for our prayers, we may not understand ourselves as much as we would like, but we step into this week trusting in the tradition of which we are part – that by pondering your walk towards the cross, by focussing on Jesus’ last journey, that somehow you will speak to us on our journey. So, in the quietness of our hearts now – we speak to you of our intentions for this Holy Week.
Sovereign LORD, as we observe again the sacrifice of Jesus, His willingness to live with effects of the violence and hate of human beings, to the point to death; Help us to know that this act in history, points to an eternal truth of God always willing to forgive; to give people a chance to begin again; and to free us all from things we regret; mistakes we have made; inadequacies that we struggle with. Help us take seriously that like the crowds around Jesus we can be fickle, and sometimes unintentionally allow ourselves to be dragged along by the views and thoughts of others without noticing that we are joining in with consequences that lead to death and not life. Forgive us. Reveal to us our attitudes that are not life giving. For You are always calling us on a path of greater self-discovery, of greater clarity about who we are and what our purpose is. As we walk alongside Jesus, facing the consequences of His call, help us to listen to Your call for our lives.
Go into Holy Week, walking in the footsteps of Christ. May facing hard things allow transformation of your being that Easter light might be born in you.
The blessing of God of light, Creator, Guide and Inspirer, rest and remain with you now and forevermore
You could read of the events of the week in Mark chapters 11-15, or John chapters 12- 19, Luke 19:28- 23, or Matthew chapters 21- 27. This words and events of this week are so important for the gospel writers.
See how in this week, Jesus suffers at the hands of people driven to act out of various motives: for Pilate it will be for maintaining order, for the High Priest it will be ‘defeating’ once for all this upstart rabbi, for Judas some money, for Peter and the other disciples in saving their own skin. The majority of folk in Jerusalem will just watch on at best, and at worst be part of the crowd who shout ‘Crucify him!’ Yet Jesus will show wonderful poise and presence as he enters the city which is rejecting him.
Jesus does not allow himself to be distracted from his vocation as the one bringing the Kingdom of God. The events of the week end with Jesus taking the throne through his suffering on the Cross. The King comes!
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God still, and trust in me (John 14:1)
These words of Jesus come after Peter has denied him. Hear these words of Jesus being spoken over your troubles and worries now. It may be anxiety about your own inadequacy, your own failings, or about your own sense of helplessness in the face of the burdens of life around you. God is telling us to change our perception, to stop regarding ourselves as islands called ‘Me’. We live in God. Our ultimate identity is not in our notion of ourselves, but in God, whose goodness is greater than our sinfulness, whose love is stronger than our betrayals, whose truth is greater than our denials.
G Hughes, God of Compassion