The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections from Peter Neilson 

Sunday - 12 December 2021 - The Third Sunday of Advent

Dear Friends in Crail and St Ayle,

First of all, can I remind you of the Advent Carol singing around the East Neuk next weekend.  The idea is to take the story of Christmas to some of the villages and for the churches to join together in celebrating the coming of Jesus as the Saviour of the world.

The “tour” begins on Friday 17th in Crail outside the Honeypot at 4pm.  We hope that some Crailers will make the journey to Anstruther (East Folly) on Saturday 18th, Elie (Toll Green) on Sunday 19th, and finally at Lundin Links (The Common) on Monday 20th, all at the same time of 4pm.  If you cannot come, please pray that this will bring the message of Christ to the ears and hearts of people who may not enter our churches this Christmas.  (Maybe it will encourage some to come, after all!)

As this will be my last chance to write to you before Christmas, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas Season, and a Good New Year.  Amidst all the activities, I pray that we all find time to take a quiet moment to welcome Christ again into our hearts and homes.

Dorothy will provide us with our Christmas reflection next week, and then we are taking a break until the beginning of Lent in March.  We are very grateful to the teams of people who write, print and distribute these reflections, and we feel it is right to give everyone a rest during January and February.  The beginning of Lent seems a good time to start again.

Grace and peace to you all.

Peter

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Gathering into the Presence of God

This Advent Prayer is used in the congregation with a leader and response.

Come, Lord. Come, Light. Come, Love

Come down. Come in. Come among us.

    Come, Presence. Come, Peace. Come, Power.

    Come down. Come in. Come among us.

Come, Grace. Come, Glory. Come, Goodness.

Come down. Come in. Come among us.

    Come, Creator. Come, Redeemer. Come, Strengthener.

    Come down. Come in. Come among us.  AMEN

 

Listening for the Word of God

The Prophet Zephaniah 3:14-17

14  Sing, Daughter Zion;
   shout aloud, Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
   Daughter Jerusalem!
15  The Lord has taken away your punishment,
   he has turned back your enemy.
The Lord, the King of Israel, is with you;
   never again will you fear any harm.
16  On that day
   they will say to Jerusalem,
‘Do not fear, Zion;
   do not let your hands hang limp.
17  The Lord your God is with you,
   the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
   in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
   but will rejoice over you with singing.’

God’s Song

Singing is a feature of Advent and Christmas.  Luke’s Gospel is full of songs – by Mary when she hears she is to bear God’s Son, by Zechariah prophesying about his son John, and, of course, the angels singing over the fields of Bethlehem – “Glory to God in the highest!  Peace of earth and good will to all peoples.”

So far, so familiar. But today’s Bible reading takes us by surprise.  This less-well-read prophet, Zephaniah, speaks of God singing over his people in sheer pleasure.  “He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you but will rejoice over you with singing.” (3:17)

Imagine that.  God singing over us because he delights in us.  As we sing our carols, think of singing WITH God as well as singing TO God.  You might think of God as the cantor and us making a sung response or imagine joining in with your own harmony alongside God’s song of delight.

Another translation puts it this way, “Happy to have you back, he’ll calm you with his love, and delight you with his songs.”  (The Message)  Listen for those Christmas angels.

Prayer

Sing over us, God, your songs of love

Till the long unloved begin to sing again

And the too long abused find joy again.

 

Sing over us, God, your songs of peace

Till the busy minds are stilled

And the anxious hearts are at rest.

 

Sing over us, God, your songs of hope

Till grieving families can lift their heads

And broken hearts find their smile again.

 

Sing over us, God, your songs of delight

Till our self-doubt is dissolved in your pleasure

And our faltering faith flourishes in your presence.

 

In this Advent Season, put a new song in many hearts

In praise of Jesus, our Emmanuel, our Saviour and Lord. AMEN

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Advance Notice:

From the first Sunday in January, our worship times change round for 2022

St Ayle 10am

Crail 11.30am