The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle
Reflections from Rev. Peter Neilson
Sunday - 11 July 2021
Good morning, friends in Crail and St Ayle,
While John is unwell, we will continue to offer the weekly reflection, and I am delighted to say that Catherine Wilson from St Ayle and my wife, Dorothy, have taken up the invitation to be part of a writing team with me for the next few weeks.
It is clear that these reflections are valued by people who are not able to come to worship, not least by folks in our care homes, so it has been agreed to continue with this ministry of writing. We are grateful to the teams of people who have printed them and distributed them since March 2020 when we went into lockdown. That has been a major task for some, but, with the churches open, the distribution will be focused on those who are unable to come to church for one reason or another.
The reflections will also be available on the church websites for anyone who would like to seek them out. So much is available now at the click of a button.
Please continue to pray for John and Neilian at this difficult time.
Grace and peace to you all.
Gathering into the Presence of God
This is the day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.
For the morning sun, and the evening stars,
I praise You, Creating God.
For the gift of breath, and the silent beating of my heart
I praise You, Life-giving God.
For the generosity and loyalty of family and friends
I praise You, Loving God.
For the freedom of yesterday forgiven
For the opportunities of today unfolding
For the hope of tomorrow beckoning
I praise You, Lord Jesus Christ,
The same, yesterday, today and forever.
This is the day that the Lord has made;
I will rejoice and be glad in it. AMEN
Listening for the Word of God
Today’s Scripture Reading: Ephesians 1:3-14
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9 he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10 to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfilment – to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11 In him we were also chosen having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.
As we read this torrent of praise and blessing, we can either become bogged down in a welter of theological terms, or we can imagine ourselves sitting under a warm shower letting the generosity of God cascade over us.
In the original Greek this is one single sentence of 232 words pouring out of the mind and heart of the apostle – praising God for all the blessings we have received in Christ. These are wrapped up in words that are laden with meaning – blessed, chosen, destined, redemption, forgiveness, grace and many more. Paul is in awe of the eternal hold that God has on us in Christ – rooted in the very nature of God and his choice to be for us from “before the creation of the world”, to be with us, to be within us and to “bring all things in heaven and earth together under one head, even Christ”. This mystery has been made known to us and has been sealed into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, given as the first instalment of that New Creation. And all for the “praise of his glorious grace”.
The key to this passage becomes clear in a recent translation which lays it out as a series of bullet points all related to the phrase “in Christ”. The mystery of our salvation is that because Christ has lived historically in union with us in the flesh, we can now live eternally in union with him in the Spirit. Elsewhere Paul says that “your life is now hidden with Christ in God.” (Col 3:2). Imagine!
Some 20 years ago I had the privilege of being on a week-long retreat in Assisi, tracing the steps of St Francis. I visited the great Basilica which is built over the little house where Francis and his followers lived. As I stood at the door of that little house, I was transfixed by an overwhelming sense of the holiness of the place. As I stood there, my mind was directed to this paeon of praise. As I read it, I felt as though I was being drenched in the grace of God which is “lavished upon us.” I did not want to move from that spot. I felt the grace and goodness of God soaking into the core of my being.
May the drenching grace of God descend on us as we gaze up into the face of this God of grace.
Prayers for Others
No need for words. We simply hold people in the love of God in silent faith, hope and love.
Think of headlines and images from this week’s news…. and hold them before the God of grace.
Think of our churches locally and across Fife…. and hold them before the God of grace.
Think of people we know who need our prayers today….and hold them before the God of grace.
Think of John and Neilian especially…..and hold them before the God of grace.
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us.