The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections from Peter Neilson 

Sunday - 3 April 2022 - The Fifth Sunday of Lent

Dear Friends in Crail and St Ayle,

I will be stepping down on Easter Sunday from covering for our minister, John, during his period of illness.  I have been very happy to help the congregations through this upsetting time and look forward to the supportive leadership of The Rev Nigel Robb as Interim Moderator, and The Rev Scott Burton, who will be Locum from 1 May, for three months in the first instance.

Scott was a BB boy in my first parish and has been minister in Kelty, St Matthews in Perth and West Kintyre l/w Gigha.  I am confident you will enjoy his fresh approach to worship and find him to be a caring pastor when needed.

Given the drastic reduction in ministers, the East Neuk will need to develop new patterns of team-work across the area in the next 3-5 years.  With those changes in mind, we begin with a reflection which I have found timely for me – and may fit your situation too.

Grace and peace to you all.

Peter.

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Laying Down and Letting Go

For everything there is a season

And a time for every purpose under heaven.

A time to accept and take hold

And a time to lay down and let go.

 

It is God who gives

And it is God who takes away.

Blessed be God forever.

 

When I am ready to lay down and let go

Let me say:

It is God who gives

And it is God who takes away.

Blessed be God forever.

 

When I am unready to lay down and let go,

Yet that is being asked of me

Let me say:

It is God who gives

And it is God who takes away.

Blessed be God forever.

 

Nothing I jealously guard is truly mine.

Nothing I freely give up is ever lost.

in the taking up

and in the laying down

in the holding on

and in the letting go.

 

God behind me;

God beside me;

God before me.

God who is Alpha and Omega,

Be with me in the letting go.

 

Christ who is the first and the Last,

Be with me in the laying down.

 

Spirit of my journeying

Be with me in the moving on.

 

The Sacred Three grant me

Thankfulness

As I rejoice in what has been well done;

Forgiveness

As I confess where I have fallen short;

Serenity

As I live with what remains incomplete and unresolved;

Trust

As I go to meet what lies ahead.

God behind me;

God beside me;

God before me.

 

Now and always

my constant Companion

Through every season

My trusted Friend

Through all of life

My faithful Guide.

 

God behind me;

God beside me;

God before me.

 

Listening for God’s Word Isaiah 43:16-21

This is what the Lord says –
   he who made a way through the sea,
   a path through the mighty waters,
17 who drew out the chariots and horses,
   the army and reinforcements together,
    and they lay there, never to rise again,
   extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
18 ‘Forget the former things;
   do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!

    Now it springs up;

    do you not perceive it?
    I am making a way in the wilderness
   and streams in the wasteland.
20 The wild animals honour me,
   the jackals and the owls,
    because I provide water in the wilderness
   and streams in the wasteland,
    to give drink to my people, my chosen,
21 the people I formed for myself
   that they may proclaim my praise.

“A New Thing”

The people of Israel had been in exile in Babylon for over 60 years.  The poetic prophet Isaiah paints pictures of a return to their homeland.  They remember the great deliverance 1000 years before, when they came out of Egypt and through the Red Sea. They imagine God doing the same again.

 

Isaiah warns them against looking back for God to repeat – or reinstate – the past.  God is the Creator who is doing a “new thing”. This time it will be different. Forget the former things; do not dwell in the past.  See I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up.  Do you not perceive it?

 

As the church in Scotland faces dramatic – and sometimes traumatic change - beware of retreating into nostalgia about what we used to do and what we have always done.  Don’t let our memory of yesterday get in the way of our imagination of what God may do tomorrow.

 

As people of the Resurrection, we need not be afraid to let things go and old ways die off. Jesus is ahead of us beckoning us onward.  Which one of the disciples standing at the Cross, could have imagined what would happen three days later in Jerusalem – or 2000 years later in the East Neuk?

Prayer

Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever,

With empty hands, we let go what is not ours to hold

And wait to receive what You have yet to give,

Asking for eyes to discern the “new thing” you are doing among us. AMEN