The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections for the Locked out - Locked Down Church from Peter Neilson - May 10th

Hello to all my friends in Crail and St Ayle.

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

A Moment for Thanksgiving

On Friday we marked VE Day, the end of the European phase of World War II.  On Thursday afternoon I walked through Crail cemetery and stood alongside the 25 white graves of service men and women, all so young. Before we do anything else, it is right that we pause at the beginning of our day to give thanks to God for the life and liberties we enjoy because of the sacrifice of so many.

Take a minute to remember with thanksgiving.

An Invitation and a Challenge

Over the past month, I have shaped our reflections around a typical morning service – encouraging you to add your own music, or to supplement it with the rousing broadcasts of Songs of Praise.

Today I would like to offer a different approach.

Over 20 years ago, I attended a conference where we were challenged to take an hour each day for prayer. I still remember the collective groan that went up from the audience. Another guilt trip in the making! We could never sustain that! But the idea stuck with me. I decided to have a go.

That was when I discovered Celtic Daily Prayer by the Northumbrian Community, which follows a simple outline for Morning Prayer.  I used it regularly for the next two years. It created a scaffolding for that “hour” of prayer – notice the inverted commas! It just took the time it took, but it created a rhythm for my time with God.

As time went on, I could almost recite it by heart, so that it created in me a portable prayer cell which I could visit any time of the day. The opening words were like a key in the lock that opened my heart to God. I later discovered they issue CDs with the words set to music. That helps the memory.

When we first began these Sunday reflections, I quoted St Bernard of Clairvaux: “Every person must learn to drink from their own well.” My hope is that these times encourage us to a fuller and deeper life of prayer – or better still, a life of lived prayer, daily communion with the living God of daily life.

With that in mind, I am offering you that “scaffolding” for you to use as regularly as you like, to help you draw living water from that wellspring of the Spirit within you. The outline looks bare, but it fills out as you take your time to work through it.


A Beginner’s Guide

The opening lines from Psalm 27:4 invite us to linger in the presence of God: One thing have I asked of the Lord......

It moves to questions about seeking God with heart, and soul and mind and strength – a time for praise, confession and renewed seeking after God. Pause as you answer and let the Spirit guide you.

I will offer you Scripture passages and a reflection for today, but you might want to read a Psalm a day or work through one of the Gospels, or the Acts of the Apostles. Have you tried writing a journal of your thoughts? I sometimes don’t know what I am thinking until I have written it down.

Prayers of Intercession don’t need fancy words from me. Pray in concentric circles – outwards from family and friends, to church and community, to our nation and the world. Or start from the news headlines and work your way in. You will find plenty to pray about. What’s on your heart? And what’s on God’s heart? Did the scripture reading stir a prayer in you? Be real and God will be real.

I love this version of St Patrick’s breastplate. “This day be within and without me, lowly and meek, yet all powerful.” Amen to that! Choose a phrase to live with – or let a phrase choose you.

And what a wonderful blessing to send us on our way. So true to the Celtic way of sending us out into the world with eyes open for the challenges and wonders waiting to be discovered - all enfolded in the peace of Christ.

Over to You

I hope I have conveyed to you why this simple outline has meant so much to me, and what it might mean for you if you choose to adopt it for yourself.

I have added a short scriptural reflection at the end for you to include at the appropriate point, but for the moment, I simply hand you over to this simple guide, and trust the Spirit to lead you ever closer to God.

Light that candle. Listen to your music. Have your Bible to hand. Take a few deep breaths. And be still, for the presence of the Lord is here.


Northumbrian Community

Morning Prayer


One thing have I asked of the Lord,

This is what I seek;

That I may dwell in the house of the Lord

All the days of my life;

To behold the beauty of the Lord

And to seek Him in his Temple.


Leader:             Who is it that you seek?

ALL            We seek the Lord our God.

Leader:             Do you seek him with all your heart?

ALL            Amen, Lord have mercy.

Leader:             Do you seek him with all your soul?

ALL            Amen, Lord have mercy.

Leader:             Do you seek him with all your mind?

ALL            Amen, Lord have mercy.

Leader:             Do you seek him with all your strength?

ALL            Amen, Lord have mercy.


Declaration of Faith

To whom shall we go?

You have the words of eternal life,

and we have believed and have come to know

That you are the Holy One of God.


Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ,

King of endless glory.


Scripture Readings (see below)


Reflection (see below)






St Patrick’s Breastplate

Christ, as a light illumine and guide me.

Christ, as a shield overshadow me.

Christ under me; Christ over me;

Christ beside me on my left and my right.

This day be within me and without me,

Lowly and meek, yet all powerful.

Be in the heart of each to whom I speak;

In the mouth of each

who speaks to me.

This day be within and without me

Lowly and meek, yet all powerful.

Christ as a light.

Christ as a shield.

Christ beside me on my left and my right.



May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,

Wherever He may send you.

May he guide you through the wilderness,

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

Scripture and Reflection


Many of us listen into services on the BBC, where the services are based on recommended readings for the day.  Today you will likely hear inspiring reflections on the death of Stephen (Acts 7:55-60) or the famous words of Jesus on his last evening with his disciples (John 14:1-14). I will leave you to look them up and consider them in the course of the week, but for the moment we will stay with our “hour of prayer” theme.  This part of Psalm 5 (The Message) keeps me honest, and expectant.


(1-3) Listen, God! Please, pay attention!
Can you make sense of these ramblings,
my groans and cries?
    King-God, I need your help.
Every morning
    you’ll hear me at it again.
Every morning
    I lay out the pieces of my life
    on your altar
    and watch for fire to descend.


Jesus invites us to find an uninterrupted time and an uninterrupted place to pray. He even gives us the template to shape our prayers if we are stuck – as the disciples were! I invite you to read this Gospel passage through slowly, underlining any phrase which catches your attention.


I don’t think I need to say more. Just sit quietly with it and then return to the outline for Morning Prayer, praying for others using those concentric circles. As one of the Desert Fathers put it:

“Sit still and let your cell teach you.” That sounds like a timely word for lock-down.

Matthew 6:6-15 (The Message)

6 “Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

7-13 “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
    as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
    Yes. Yes. Yes.

14-15 “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part. 

The UK Blessing << click

At the close of your time of worship, if you have a computer, take five minutes to Google The UK Blessing. Last Sunday evening, singers from 65 churches sang this musical version of “The Lord bless you and keep you” as a blessing over our nation.  Listen and receive the blessing.

© 2018 - 2020 by St Ayle