The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections from Rev. John Murray 

Sunday 21 February 2021

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

Let us follow Jesus on the long road to the Cross.

Mark 8:31-38  He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.  He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.  But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter.  "Get behind me, Satan!" he said.  "You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns."  Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.  For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.  What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?  Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul?  If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels.

 

Romans 4:17-18  We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody.  Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”?  Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing.  When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do.  And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!

 

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

Look up in faith and take up the Cross

Ralph Emerson wrote ‘Sorrow looks back; worry looks around, and faith looks up.’

To be frank, ruminating on our capabilities and current times, could easily lead to sorrow and worry.  These passages we have today challenge us to trust in the ways of God and to look up in counter- intuitive faith.  Consider Abraham who believed – although we know it was often clouded over for him just as for us - and consider Jesus as he brings in the kingdom of God by pushing through hard times.

 

Or did we think that the kingdom of God merely involves a few minor adjustments in our ordinary lives?  Jesus knows that deep-rooted evil does not give up its hold so easily: so let’s be looking up and lifting each other up in prayer and practical Christian help.

Prayers

 

Faithful God, as we remember how the path Jesus took brought him into conflict with those who were thirled to other ways, we are thankful that he never gave up, nor allowed himself to be diverted from His purpose.  Jesus remained true to his mission, proclaiming your kingdom had come, with good news for the poor, release for the captives, recovery of sight for the blind and freedom for the oppressed.

 

From our hearts we thank you for the height and depth, the length and breadth of Christ’s love, when on a cross with outstretched arms he embraced us all.  Thank you for the great hope we have that because Christ is risen, one day there will be no more death, or crying or pain, that nations shall beat their swords into ploughshares and not learn war any more.  God of grace, trusting in Your promises, confident of Your love, we bring our prayers for others to You today.

 

Crucified, Risen and Ascended Lord Jesus, you bring before the throne of God our prayers and concerns.  There you are our advocate and that of our sisters and brothers.  Let us think about people in various situations and in the silence that follows pray for them: People who are hungry, remembering the increased use of food banks and the rise of food poverty in our country, giving thanks for initiatives that ensure meals are provided for children.

 

Some people are homeless, without shelter or adequate clothing.  We think of how varied their circumstances have been during this time of Coronavirus.  We remember the work of care vans, shelters, charities and all who help people out of homelessness.

 

People are unwell or mentally distressed at this time because of coronavirus or other illnesses, whether at home or in hospital.  Let us also remember all who care giving thanks for their dedication and skills, thankful for the work of scientists and those in charge of the logistics as they make vaccines available, remembering especially people in poorer nations.

 

Let us also take some moments to bring the private prayers of our hearts, letting our cry come to God, knowing that God is listening.

 

These prayers we offer to you, God of Grace, God of Promises kept. By the strength Your Spirit gives, may we journey with Jesus into life in all its fullness, that your Kingdom of love and justice may be known all the more among us and in Your world, and many may see Jesus in all His glory.  Help us to keep our eyes and thoughts on the cross.

Thanks: -  I will be on holiday from 3 – 20 March, and am most grateful to Peter Neilson for offering to prepare Reflections for the next two Sundays, and for seeing to any pastoral work.  Also, thanks to the worship teams from St Ayle and Crail for conducting the zoom services on 7th and 14th March and Peter is kindly seeing to the zoom service on 21 March.  Thank you also to those leading the prayer meetings and the afternoon teas, and doing all the other many things.  I very much appreciate everyone’s help

John

 

In the name of you the Lord Jesus, by the power of you the Spirit, and in the care of you our Father.  Bless us now and all those whom we love.

 

Amen

 

Reflections

 

The new lesson for the disciples wasn’t just that there may be danger ahead: the new lesson was that Jesus had to walk straight into it. It would be certain death.

NT Wright

 

From Desmond Tutu

 

I have been reading ‘Made for Goodness’ by Desmond Tutu.  He has worked tirelessly for peace and reconciliation and in his book, he charts his journey and offers words to inspire us.  In encouraging us to seek stillness, he invites us to hear God saying to us:

 

I hear your call as you are falling.

You stumble over your own wrongdoing and topple into

the bottomless pit of guilt and shame.

But there is no abyss. It is an illusion.

There is no depth to which you can fall that is beyond my reach.

I have lived with you from the age of the ages.

The dream of you has delighted me, the fact of you pleases me.

There is a choice in every moment.

 

What I discovered was that failure could be a bridge across the chasm that pride had created.

Mark 2:17:  On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners."

 

God invites us to accept the true diagnosis, and offers us the cure of Jesus: to follow him and learn from him who is gentle and lowly in heart: and we will find rest. Available without an appointment or injection, and 100% effective: no small print: no bad side effects. Choose life.

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