The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections from Peter Neilson 

Sunday - 15 August 2021

Gathering into the presence of God.

Dear friends in Crail and St Ayle,

No sooner are we emerging from the effects of the pandemic (at least in our little corner, if not in other areas of the world) than we hear from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that the effect of humankind’s lifestyles on the life of the planet is “unequivocal, unprecedented and irreversible”.  The four men of the Apocalypse are riding high in our time.

It seemed only right to move beyond our usual pastoral theme to reflect on our times.  How strange that one of the suggested Scriptures for today is Solomon’s prayer for wisdom.  Amen to that!

 

Grace and peace to you all.

 

Peter

 

A Lament

As the fires blaze, consuming forests, destroying homes,

We cry out to the weeping Creator,

Have mercy on us.

 

As the rains flood down, washing whole towns away

We cry out to the weeping Creator

Have mercy on us.

 

As the ice caps melt, raising sea levels near and far

We cry out to the weeping Creator

Have mercy on us.

 

In the turbulence of our times, as creation groans with pain,

May we hear the call to repent of our destructive ways

And seek the Saviour and Lord who makes all things new. AMEN

 

Listening for God’s Word - 1 Kings 3:5-15

Solomon has a dream that God will offer him anything he asks.

7 ‘Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.  8 Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number.  9 So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?’

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this.  11 So God said to him, ‘Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.  13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for – both wealth and honour – so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.  14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.’  15 Then Solomon awoke – and he realised it had been a dream.

Urgent! Wise Leaders Wanted!

 

Solomon could have asked for wealth or fame.  Too many leaders have been seduced by those twin ambitions.  Over centuries the quest for wealth and influence has led to the exploitation of the resources of our planet, often accompanied by the exploitation of people to achieve it. In the past two centuries, our dependence on fossil fuels has led to fires in Siberian forests, melting ice caps and changes in the complex currents of the Gulf Stream, while plastic products pollute our oceans.  Industrialised farming and deforestation contribute to the mix that disrupts our delicate weather systems raising global temperatures to danger levels.

 

Solomon knew that the task of political leadership was beyond his capacity and asked for wisdom.  Biblical wisdom is more than good judgement.  It is a moral perspective that takes account of God’s will and desires for people and planet. Solomon’s “Proverbs” give us his take on it – “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” – a worldview that reverences the world as the Creator’s gift.  It is not ours to use and abuse, but to steward with care, as people accountable to a Higher Power.

 

God promises Solomon a “wise and discerning heart”.  As we approach COP26, let us all pray that the leaders of the world will be given that wisdom and discernment, but also the courage to make the unpalatable decisions that will not gain them fame and popularity in the short term, and will undoubtedly affect the wealth base of many of people.  To adapt the words of Jesus:  What shall it profit us if we gain the whole world and lose our own soil?

 

It has to be said that Solomon’s later career does not encourage us to think our leaders will be true to any promises that may be made on the world stage, but then our faith is in One who is greater than Solomon and who does keep his promises – and summons us to do the same where we are.

 

Prayers for Others

All Wise God, in this time of climate emergency

We pray for the decision-makers who influence our lives:

For wisdom and for courage to call for costly changes

Before we plunge into changes that are beyond all costing,

Through the sudden disasters of fire and flood,

and the slow deaths of plants and species.

 

All Loving God, give us compassion for all who share this fragile planet.

Looking into the eyes of those we prefer not to see

Listening to cries of those we prefer not to hear,

Till we recognise Christ in the each of them

Brothers and sisters, in the one family, under the one Father.

 

In the name of the Creator who formed the world with patience.

In the name of the Saviour who stilled the threatening storm.

In the name of the Spirit who is bringing a New Creation to birth. AMEN