The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections from Rev. John Murray 

Sunday 17 January 2021: navigating the way forward: we can’t control the sea but we can learn how to sail on it.

Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Be still and know that I am God’: The risen Christ present with us by the Spirit is our ‘temple’, our true and lasting place of worship.


Come to live worship on Sunday 17 January


Last Sunday we had our first zoom service, and we are using these lockdown days as a God - given opportunity to come together in a new way in a live service through the medium of computer audio and video link, called ZOOM.  Many of you will have heard of ZOOM, and will know what it involves.  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.


In our worship today we will be weaving in the Old Testament Readings of Ps139, and the story of Samuel’s call, with the New Testament account of the interchange between Jesus and Nathanael in John 1:43-53.  The theme that comes through is identity.  What is our identity, where does it come from, what offers us a God-given identity, and what things can diminish that identity?


Approach to God                       (Based on Psalm 139)


God of abiding love, present in all our beginnings, acquainted with all of our ways, intricately woven into the depths of all things.

You understand our thoughts from far off, and know our ways intimately.

As we gather to worship you, nothing is hidden from you.

May we recognise Your voice in our midst. As we gather to give you thanks and praise,

may we relish all of the days you have written for us. As we sing, pray and tell our stories, grant that when we come to the end of ourselves, we would find you.

1 Samuel 3:1-10  The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli.  In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.  One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place.  The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the LORD, where the ark of God was.  Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, "Here I am." And he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me. " But Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down."  So he went and lay down.  Again, the LORD called, "Samuel!"  And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."  "My son," Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down."  Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.  A third time the LORD called, "Samuel!"  And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me."  Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy.  So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, 'Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening."  So Samuel went and lay down in his place.  The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!"  Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

John 1:43-51  The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee.  Finding Philip, he said to him, "Follow me."  Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida.  Philip found Nathanael and told him, "We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph." "Nazareth!  Can anything good come from there?" Nathanael asked.  "Come and see," said Philip.  When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, "Here truly is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit."  "How do you know me?" Nathanael asked.  Jesus answered, "I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you."  Then Nathanael declared, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel."  Jesus said, "You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree.  You will see greater things than that."  He then added, "Very truly I tell you, you will see 'heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on' the Son of Man.

Come and see!

Nathanael was a good man: it’s just that he was prejudiced, and given to sarcasm!  Just the mention of Nazareth, a few miles up the road, has him muttering if anything good can ever come from there?  The simple answer is yes: only the greatest good that you could ever know!  Philip overlooks the judgemental words and offers an invitation: ‘Come and see’.  No pressure – just come and see.  This friendly invitation enables Nathanael to journey over his prejudice and find something much more precious as a mark of identity: being known and loved by Jesus.




Generous God From our hearts we thank you

We say thank you for the many ways you touch our lives.

For laughter, for conversation, for bird song and frosty mornings,

for the people and places in our communities that are important to us.

We say thank you for times of silence and space to just be,

for company and chance encounters, for simple things and special moments.


Thank you that you are with us in the highs and lows of life, when we are busy and when we are still,

When we believe with all our hearts, and when we are barely hanging on by our fingertips to our faith.  You create and recreate and knit us together again.

Reconciling God, we pray for your world.  May all that is divided by doctrine or politics, class or nationality, be united in your praise.

We pray for a peaceful world, where children grow up without fear, where security rests on trust rather than threats, and where nations fight against poverty rather than against each other.

We pray for all in authority, that those who lead us, may establish right priorities, and that by your wisdom and their vision the world may reflect your kingdom.

Healing God, we pray for those who are ill and suffering, for all who are worried for those who are grieving or experiencing trauma and for a world gripped by the repercussions of pandemic.

May we all know the power of Christ to sustain us and the love of friends near and distanced to support us.

You know our greatest fears, our longings and our hopes, sometimes these are expressed in so many different ways, so Lord, in your mercy, hear those prayers.

Eternal God, present among us. you are with us in our gathering, you are with us in our distancing.  Hear our prayers, and blend our voices together, unite us by your Spirit as we join together in the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray, in the language of our heart...


Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever





God bless us today, that we might grow freely, seeking your light, and

that we may be a blessing, in our seeing, in our hearing, in our speaking, Amen





Ps 139: The deeper work of our identity, and ‘being known’ is profoundly important in the midst of a global pandemic and its effects.  When many of our meaningful rituals in church are not allowed because of public health policy, how do we identify as communities of believers?  And let’s consider how we will be known as people who live out the values of God and communities that embody this new life in Christ.

Where is the house of God?


Jesus says that he is the house of God and comes to fulfil the promise that God will be present with his people in a different way than in a temple…John 2:19-22  Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days."  They replied, "It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and you are going to raise it in three days?"  But the temple he had spoken of was his body.  After he was raised from the dead, his disciples recalled what he had said. John was writing his gospel after the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in AD 70.



Come and rest


Matthew 11:25-30  At that time Jesus said, "I praise you, Father, LORD of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.  Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.  "All things have been committed to me by my Father.  No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."


Come and see, come and tell


John 1:37-39  When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.  Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, "What do you want?"  They said, "Rabbi" (which means "Teacher"), "where are you staying?"  "Come," he replied, "and you will see."  So, they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him.  It was about four in the afternoon.


Philip has learnt from Jesus the art of saying ‘come and see’, and Jesus asks us ‘"What do you want?"  Contemplate Jesus asking that question of you: we are a bundle of desires but what are the ones that are surfacing as you stay with Jesus?  You could spend a few minutes regularly each day thinking and praying about that.


‘Thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one. Stillness is not simply silence, but an attitude of listening to God and an openness towards him’


God is nearer to you than any thought or feeling of yours.     G. MacDonald

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