The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle
Reflections from Rev. John Murray
Sunday 3 January 2021: The first Sunday in the New Year
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Be still and know that I am God’: The risen Christ present with us by the Spirit is our church gathering place,
our true and constant place of worship.
As we start a new year let us put our trust in God, for whom nothing is impossible….
Same church, but something new for us in this new year
Come to worship on Sundays, whilst being in your home
The service on January 3 will be a recorded service by the Moderator, and can be seen (below) on the websites of the churches or the link can be sent to you. Then on 10th and 17th January the services will be held on Zoom, and will be accessible either through the internet or the phone. Further details shall be given next week.
Although these new ways are a response to the pandemic and us now being in tier 4, it means there is now a way opening up for unlimited numbers to be together in this new way.
And if you would like help in accessing zoom on the internet, or with accessing the zoom phone line, do get in touch.
Our passages today both speak to us of God leading his people to a new time and space:
the first one to a new physical place, the second to a new spiritual place.
Joshua 3:1-4: Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people: "When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it’.
The second reading tells us that in coming as one of us God had not been this way before. This Christmas present, unwrapped and personally applied, gives us a new time and space to begin in our lives: being born as children of God, and living out of God’s fullness.
John 1:10-18: He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
The Lord’s Prayer
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, and the power, and the glory, forever
It might be new to us…But God has been this way before!
As the Israelites prepared to enter the promised land, it was a time of grieving, a time of excitement, a time of confusion, a time of concern, a time of wondering, “What comes next?”. In this pandemic, and in a time of great national change, we have not ‘walked this way before’. These readings guide us as Christians, with wisdom as to how to go forward. God was asking his people the Israelites, to let go of the old habits and mindsets of 40 years, longer in fact, and this change and journey over the river was to be seen as an act of worship, after which they would be in a fresh time and place. And John the disciple invites us to move on with ‘God with us’, as a living person in our hearts: the Lord Jesus, and to live out of his fullness.
Lord as we journey on may we know you are not seeking to trip us up, but are longing to guide us: you are Emmanuel – God with us and for us, and in us. In all the new times and new spaces of awareness and fresh possibilities, we commit in worship and prayer, to giving you proper time and space in our lives: giving you the room and place to go before us, and guide us, and so we pray together:
Take these lips, make them nourishing to us and others,
Take my mind: remind me that I am a child of God: Spirit born and saved by grace
Take this heart and fill it from your fullness, with grace and truth. In your mercy, hear us Holy God, as we lift before you the whole church of God: one household of faith.
Lord as the world, the United Kingdom, churches here and afar all journey on in uncertainty, and as the pandemic and economic issues present huge challenges, may the body of your Son, the church, show forth your grace and truth. Open our hearts and hands in fresh commitment in obedience to you. As part of the body in this place, may you guide us as we go forward in our parishes in this new time that you have fashioned. We believe that you are able to do far more than we can think or imagine. Hear our prayers for our loved ones near by, and those from whom we are separated. Care for and protect them.
For our nation at this time of confusion and chaos, hear our cries for new gracious shapes to be formed in this new year. And help us, in our warm homes and with more than enough food and comfort around us, pause and pray for the poor, the refugees, the dispossessed and the homeless.
And we give you our own prayers, spoken and unspoken: Lord, in your mercy hear us.
What can we take away this week from the King as we journey on from the birth of Jesus, as we will soon be tidying away the cards, and trees? Let’s think about the gifts we can take with us as we journey. ‘Out of his fullness we have all received grace upon grace’.
The word is: we are all from one household: the household of faith!
The shepherds: what did they conclude? Luke 2:17-18 ‘When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.’ They saw, and they spread the word. May we be like them, they saw, and passed on the message, glorifying and praising God, and causing amazement locally.
Mary: Luke 2:19 19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. Take time this week, and the next 51, to ponder, and think deeply on God with us, God for us, God in us. Jesus is not just for Christmas!
Joseph: kept busy, heard from angels, and guided his family safely caring for them: Pray for people just now who are doing that in the most trying of situations.
The magi: Back to ‘auld claes and porridge’, but also back to their old familiar places with a newness in their hearts. They could not have known that they would become ‘immortal’ and that they were symbols that the church of the Christ-child would soon become a Gentile welcoming group. What wonderful futures can we, unbeknown to us, be involved in as we go about our daily round? Pray for vision to see God’s hand in our lives
Jesus: a weak and vulnerable infant, relying on Mary and Joseph to see to his needs. Now, risen and ascended Jesus can meet all our needs: so, let’s commit to living out of that fullness rather than in our own strength and wits.
This year many of us will be called to look on and endure darkness. In that darkness, we reach out and hold on to His hand in the darkness, even by faith, and keep on walking. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will never overcome it.
A good New Year to you all John and Neilian
Moderator's Service of Worship for Sunday 3/1/2021
Available from Sunday morning.