The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections from Rev. Peter Neilson 

Sunday - 27 June 2021

Dear Friends at Crail and St Ayle,

At a meeting of the two Kirk Sessions this week, we talked about these written reflections.  It was in the context of seeking to reduce the workload on our minister who will be off work for some time.  However, it was clear that these short reflections make their way into a wide range of places.  I have agreed to prepare something simple over the summer, and hopefully involve others.  But not next week, because I will be on holiday! Watch this space…..!

Grace and peace to you.


Gathering into the Presence of God

I looked out the window this morning and was surprised to see a red poppy in the parking area.

One bright red poppy, Lord,

Standing upright in the paving.

A seed blown on the wind,

Taking root in a crevice

And blooming alone

Defiant and beautiful.

Let me blossom, Lord,

Where you have planted me,

Quietly radiant with Your presence.

And may the wind of the Spirit

Blow the seeds of your truth

To find a welcoming corner

In another heart. AMEN

Listening for God’s Word: Acts 6:1-7


In those days when the number of disciples was increasing, the Hellenistic Jews among them complained against the Hebraic Jews because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.  2 So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, ‘It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables.  3 Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom.  We will turn this responsibility over to them 4 and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.’ 


5 This proposal pleased the whole group.  They chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism.  6 They presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.

7 So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.

Sharing Ministry Together

The church was still in its infancy.  Already it needed to adapt to new challenges. 


At a time when we are facing changes in our own church and across the nation, we have much to learn from this first stage of adaptation.  The church has been changing and evolving from the beginning.  The book of Acts is a fascinating study in how the church adapted as the Gospel spread from a Jewish culture to the Gentile world.

We live at a time when the church is feeling the pressure of more and more being asked of fewer and fewer people, ministers and members.  Our own Kirk Sessions have been asking how we might adapt to relieve the pressure on John when he returns.  We would do well to take a leaf out of the book of the first apostles.  They did not try to do everything.  They learned to share ministry together. 


They were clear about their priorities – prayer and the word of God.  They were clear about what they were not about – administering the food programme, vital though it was.  They were clear about what needed to happen to keep the vital service going – to delegate to others: in this case to seven Greek men who could see that food was distributed fairly to the Greek widows.  They were prepared to look outside their little circle to find the right people.  Apart from anything else, these men spoke the right language.

Two names stand out. Stephen - who went on to challenge the Jewish leaders about Jesus and ended up as the first martyr. (Interestingly it was because he said the Temple was no longer needed.  How many ungodly fights have there been over church buildings?)  And Philip – who later travelled to Samaria, a no-go area for the Jewish apostles, and shared the Gospel there.

The crisis led to growth in ways they could not have imagined because they adapted – keeping the central things central, but being flexible about how things were done, and sharing out the ministry.

The church is always in the process of change, responding in the Spirit to the needs of the moment.

Our task: to be focused but flexible, sharing in the ministry of Christ together.


And let God surprise us….!

Prayers for Others

Clap your hands, all you nations.

Shout for God with shouts of joy! (Psalm 47:1)

Imagine a map of the world (or draw it up on Google maps!)

We often pray for the trouble spots of the world.

Today we celebrate before God the gifts of our global world.

Linger on the places you know and skip over places you don’t.

Let your mind hover over Europe.

Why might we clap our hands for joy to God for these nations?

Let your mind linger over the Middle East.

Why might we clap our hands for joy to God for these nations?

Let your mind rove over Africa…. (You get the idea!)

Let your mind travel to India and the Far East……

Let your mind go South to Australasia and the Pacific Islands….

Let your mind move over the Pacific to South America and Latin America…..

Let your mind drift North to USA and Canada…..

And now come home to our British Isles.

Why might we clap our hands for joy to God in our home nations?

Clap your hands, all you nations.

Shout to God with shouts of joy!


We often say the Grace looking at each other.

Who do you have in mind as you say this familiar blessing?

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore.