The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections for the Locked out - Locked Down Church from Peter Neilson - April 19th

Hello to all my friends in Crail and St Ayle.

Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Welcome to worship as our dispersed community of faith. Make sure you have a bible and a hymnbook and some means of listening to your favourite music.  Please use as much or as little of this offering as is helpful for you to worship God in your own way. Taking time around our usual worship time, will give us a sense of worshipping “alone together”.

 

Gathering into the Presence of God

 

L. Risen Lord, come and stand among us.

R. By your peace, quieten our fears.

 

L. Risen Lord, come and stand among us.

R. By your power, heal our hurts.

 

L. Risen Lord, come and stand among us.

R. By your presence, lift our hearts.

 

Last week the Bishop of Oxford suggested that we listen to The Lord’s My Shepherd every day of the week, but to a different tune each day. Some of us will be able to recall Crimond, Wiltshire, Orlington and Brother James’ Air and some will know the popular version by Stuart Townend with the chorus:

“And I will trust in you alone

And I will trust in you alone.

For your endless mercy follows me

You goodness will  lead me home.”

 

Sing  or hum it through to whatever tune you like, and then pray this prayer shaped by Psalm 23.

 

Lord Jesus, Good Shepherd of your sheep

You do not leave us in want, even when resources run low.

You lead us to the still place, even when anxieties ride high.

You guide us through confusing times, even when no path is clear.

Thank you, Lord.

“And I will trust in You alone...”

 

Even as the shadow of death creeps over the land

We hear your voice:

“Lo I am with you, always.”

Even when the silent killer does its evil work

We hear your voice:

“Lo! I am with you, always.”

Thank you, Lord.

“And I will trust in You alone....”

 

Lord Jesus, who shared meals in many places

Be the host and guest in our homes

Meeting us at our kitchen tables.

 

Fill our cup to overflowing with your joy,

And with the Easter confidence

That God is good – in our time and beyond time; 

And we will live in the house of the Lord forever.

Thank you, Lord.

“For your endless mercy follows me

Your goodness will lead me home” AMEN

 

Listening for the Word of God

 

Read John 20:19-23

Jesus meets his disciples in their “lock down”, and offers an array of gifts.

As he comes to us behind our locked doors,

what gift do you want to receive from Him today?

 

Reflecting on the Word of God

 

“I know that that my Redeemer lives.” (Job 19:25)

 

Over the Easter weekend, I listened to Handel’s Messiah. On Good Friday, I listened to Part II focusing on the passion Christ. The chorus, ”Surely he has borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows”, took on fresh depth of meaning amidst the rising death tolls in every new bulletin. For every death there must be at least 20 or 30 people who will be grieving that person. That is a massive burden of grief deprived of the usual outlets of a public funeral and the support of the wider community.

 

Handel’s imagery taken from Isaiah 53 has stayed with me. I confess that I cannot listen to the constant rehearsal of daily misery, so I ration my exposure. I feel the weight on my heart and every announcement is like a steam hammer beating on my head. I have found comfort in seeing Christ, this “man of sorrows, acquainted with grief”, bearing up the sorrow of the nations on his heart.  No shallow religious words, but a secret strength silently given to sustain those families in hidden ways.

 

On Easter Sunday, I moved on to Messiah Part III with the wonderful aria: “I know that my Redeemer liveth”. I was taken back to Dunblane Cathedral, sitting at the funeral of my former “bishop” and mentor, The Very Rev John R Gray. As his coffin sat in the centre of the nave, we listened to this wonderful music being sung over him, at his request. He was a man who made care of the bereaved a priority, and had an unshakeable confidence in the resurrection promise of life everlasting in the presence of God.

 

Listening again to the soaring music, I was jolted by the realisation that the words come from the book of Job – the figure in the Old Testament who epitomises human suffering. He had watched many of his family die of disease, his business collapse and his body be racked with pain. His grief and raging questions pour out of him, not helped by the wordy wind of his so-called comforters.

 

And then in the midst of it all, Job utters these timeless words of faith and hope:

“I know that my Redeemer lives,

And that in the end, he will stand upon the earth.

And after my skin has been destroyed,

Yet in my flesh I will see God.

I myself will see him

With my own eyes - I and not another.

How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)

 

These words burst out like a flare lighting up a dark and stormy sea. And Job did not have the benefit of an Easter Day to anchor his faith.

 

We live between two realities – the strange muted reality of this season of sadness wondering where the silent killer might strike next; and the revealed reality of God’s unseen presence bringing compassion for the hurting and resurrection promise of death defeated.

 

 These two realities run through us like an alternating current, as we sense the burden and celebrate the joy. To live with the Easter joy can feel like a betrayal of the pain of thousands; to be overwhelmed by the pain can feel like a betrayal of our Christian hope. 

 

But the Man of Sorrows is also the Risen Lord who shows his disciples his hands and side. The One who bears our grief is also the One leaves fearful disciples “overjoyed when they saw the Lord.”  We weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice. There is a time to lament and a time to celebrate – even in the space of one day.

 

Whatever shadow may fall on our hearts today, may Job’s flare of hope shine bright with joy:

I know that my Redeemer liveth!

 

Responding to God’s Word and God’s Spirit

How long, O Lord, how long?

With the grieving families and friends, we cry to You for comfort.

With the desperately ill around the country, we cry to you for healing.

With the exhausted medical staff and care workers, we cry to you for strength.

With all responsible for decisions for our well being, we cry to you for wisdom.

Jesus stood among them.

Come, Lord Jesus, come among us.

And speak with us, as you spoke with your disciples.

What are you saying to us through this time, Lord?

What are you saying to your church?

What are you saying to our society?

Give us ears to hear, and the courage to respond.

 

Peace be with you.

Lord Jesus, we bring to you those we know

In our families

In our community

Who need to know your peace.

One by one, we bring them to you,

And speak over them your words:

Peace be with you...... [name]

Peace be with you.... [name]

Peace be with you..... [name] AMEN

 

A Meditation Before We Go

Lord, you have always given

Bread for the coming day,

And though I am poor,

Today I believe.

 

Lord, you have always given

Strength for the coming day,

And though I am weak,

Today I believe.

 

Lord, you have always given

Peace for the coming day,

And though of anxious heart

Today I believe.

 

Lord, you have always kept

Me safe from trials,

And now, tried as I am,

Today I believe.

 

Lord, you have always marked

The road for the coming day

And though it may be hidden,

Today I believe.

 

Lord, You have always lightened

This darkness of mine,

And though the night be near,

Today I believe.

 

Lord, you have always spoken

When the time was ripe,

And though you be silent now,

Today I believe.

 

[Northumbrian Community, Evening Prayer]

 

A Blessing

Hold in our minds and hearts others in our church and community and bless them with these words

 

May the peace of the Lord Christ be with you

Wherever he may send you.

May he guide you through the wilderness

And protect you through the storm.

May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you

May He bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors. AMEN

 

[Northumbrian Community, Morning Blessing]

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