The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections from Rev. Peter Neilson 

Sunday 21 March 2021

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

This coming week, the Kirk Sessions will discuss how best to plan ahead in light of the easing of restrictions regarding public worship and we will keep you informed.



Come to live worship on Sunday 21st March

We are coming together in a new way in a live service through the medium of computer audio and video link, called ZOOM.  We are here to help others use it and if you just have a phone you can phone up a local number and dial in for free (if you have a package with free local calls with a duration of one hour).

And if you would like help in accessing zoom on the internet, or with accessing the zoom phone line, do get in touch.  We will send out the zoom link to all those already on our email lists and if you are not on their lists and would like to receive it just let the Session Clerks know.


 Today let us gain fresh insights on God’s love for us

Rembrandt: the prodigal son

The Parable of the Lost Son: Luke 15:11-31

Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons.  The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’  So he divided his property between them.  “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living.  After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need.  So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs.  He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.  “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death!  I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’  So he got up and went to his father.  “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.  “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you.  I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’  “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him.  Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet.  Bring the fattened calf and kill it.  Let’s have a feast and celebrate.  For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.  “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field.  When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing.  So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on.  ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’  “The older brother became angry and refused to go in.  So his father went out and pleaded with him.  But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders.  Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends.  But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’


Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Your kingdom come,
Your will be done on earth as in heaven,
Give us today our daily bread,
Forgive us our sins,
As we forgive those who sin against us,
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil,
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, 
now and forever. Amen

This parable is so rich with meaning.  Take time as you read it again.  See which words speak to you and stay with those words.  As I prepare this, I have been drawn to the phrase “When he came to his senses’.  Just a few words but huge in their effect.  They are like the hinge of the whole story, bringing change and good things: the first steps in restoration and finding his true identity as the beloved son: and not from his own estimation of himself as, ‘no longer worthy to be called your son’.


Prayer: Lord, bring us to that place where we return to you, and see the full extent of your love for us in Christ, your beloved son who walked to the cross so that we could come freely to you.


And the other story is from the home of Martha and Mary, where Jesus felt at home.


Luke 10:38-42  As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the LORD's feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.  She came to him and asked, "LORD, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!"  "Martha, Martha," the LORD answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed-or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.

In the house of Martha and Mary: Jan Vermeer



Setting:  Look at this picture.
As this little domestic episode happens, how do you react? 
Where do your sympathies lie?



Perhaps we are worried and distracted by so many things.  Yet it was Martha who opened her home to Jesus, and was hospitable to him.  Jesus loved Martha and Mary.  We all at times have that voice inside distracting and worrying us.  Jesus in loving Martha hugs us in our worries and invites us to lay down beside him and let him speak love and compassion to us.  Martha and the prodigal and we are invited away from our own skewed thoughts, and into an appreciation of God’s love for us: the one thing needed.

Prayer:  Lord, as we think on this story, help us to know Jesus sitting beside us and telling us how now to live, and find our true voice as your beloved children: we praise and thank you for coming close to us in Jesus.  We ask that you would be close to us always, in our hearts, and in our minds and in our voice: Amen



The Holy Spirit enables us to be courageous in living faithfully as followers of Jesus.  The fact is that life is often hard.  Bob Dylan in his autobiographical book, ‘Chronicles Volume’ One writes about his grandma who lived with the family when Bob was growing up in a small town in Minnesota.  He says, ‘She was filled with nobility and goodness, told me once that happiness isn’t on the road to anything.  That happiness is the road.  Had also instructed me to be kind because everyone you’ll ever meet is fighting a hard battle’.

It takes courage and faith to live each day and live it well.  Where does this faith and courage come from?  At its deepest level, faith is a deep trust and sense of being utterly secure in God’s care and love.  Our deepest identity is that we are beloved of God, in and through his Son Jesus Christ…  This is my deepest identity, my true security, my true self in God, from which all true faith and trust will spring.

The Contemplative Minister: Ian Cowley


For this is the wonder of God, that when we walk in the light of His countenance, the very shadows of our life are charged with healing power.

Hugh Redwood, God in the Shadows


Easter beckons


Next Sunday is Palm Sunday, and we shall be remembering Jesus coming into Jerusalem to his death and fulfilment of his vocation as the suffering servant.  So many emotions and thoughts, must have been in his heart, and yet he will show wonderful poise and presence as he enters the city which is rejecting him.  The lesson is that Jesus faces into the challenges and does not try to avoid them.  He remains open, engaged and receptive, showing great care and love for his disciples.  The King is coming to claim his Kingdom!




Lord, as we come again to another Easter season, may we make a space in our hearts to honour the one who entered upon his passion, riding on a donkey. Give us true humility. Grant us to step out into life, as did our Saviour. When we face difficult feelings, and challenging times, be with us helping to respond with clarity and grace, knowing that You Father are with us, and we will never have to carry our burdens alone.




May we step out this week

Hearing our vocation as beloved

And may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter be with us and those whom we love, now and always;


© 2018 - 2021 by St Ayle