The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle
Reflections from Rev. John Murray
Sunday 15 November 2020
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lord help us to see things in a new way, to softly reframe our lives in the light of your glory and grace.
Psalm 123: I lift up my eyes to you, to you who sit enthroned in heaven. As the eyes of slaves look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a female slave look to the hand of her mistress, so our eyes look to the Lord our God, till he shows us his mercy. Have mercy on us, Lord, have mercy on us, for we have endured no end of contempt. We have endured no end of ridicule from the arrogant, of contempt from the proud.
The eyes have it, the eyes have it
Ps 123 is about looking up. Read it again, and you can see that what lies behind the words are feelings of being up against it. The circumstances are difficult. The eyes are looking for mercy: God’s unfailing love. From heaven comes a power that transcends all human power and gives strength to human weakness. It is there for us: now, in the moment. Let’s pray for us to be looking and receiving, in our difficult circumstances.
The Lord’s Prayer
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.
Matthew 25:14-25: Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his wealth to them. To one he gave five bags of gold, to another two bags, and to another one bag, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received five bags of gold went at once and put his money to work and gained five bags more. So also, the one with two bags of gold gained two more. But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money. “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “The man with two bags of gold also came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with two bags of gold; see, I have gained two more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ “Then the man who had received one bag of gold came. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your gold in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.
A Godsend is given to be worked with, not wasted
In this parable, the servants get the chance to show what they can do for God. Last week’s story about the ten bridesmaids was about the importance of being ready. This one is about what it means to be ready. Readiness = in the moment, doing all that we can do, for the kingdom of God with what we have been given: That involves investing time, talents, and our resources, so that they can produce new things. Bless us Lord as we seek to do that here in Crail & St Ayle, and bless your church throughout Scotland as she does that in these days. Let’s give thanks for the riches of Christ which are offered to us through the Holy Spirit, and let’s commit anew, to work with those riches.
Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord, to thee
Take my moments and my days, let them flow in ceaseless praise
Take my hands and let them move at the impulse of thy love
Take my feet and let them be swift and beautiful for thee
Take my voice and let me sing always, only, for my king
Take my lips and let them be filled with messages from thee
Take my silver and my gold not a mite would I withhold
Take my intellect and use every power as you choose
Here am I, all of me
Take my life, it's all for thee
God of all time and space, of comings and goings. New things come through and in you, and old things can become new, for your mercies are new every morning. Help us to anticipate new things, in this time of waiting may we train our eyes, and go for gold - to zoom away to your heaven, and back to what is at hand, in our hands. We pray that we might see your signals, your gestures of love and mercy. And as we wait, may we reframe the picture of our life: and see it anew: and give you thanks.
We confess we often replay old stories in our thinking: we lose faith and trust. Our vision goes askew, the haar descends, and we live as though buried in doom and gloom. In this time of worship, Lord, shine through, remind us of your love that wilt not let us go; And to trace your sunshine through our rain. And to know your faithfulness.
Thank you for the knowledge of your Kingdom which you have gifted us, and thank you that you call us to be your co-workers. As we use all our powers to do that, show us the way to go, how to spend ourselves, so that we might hear ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share my happiness!’
Today we remember all those looking for hope, for peace, for happiness, for relief from their prisons, and an opening up of their way: may they see anew and be filled with good things.
And today being CrossReach Sunday, we pray for the social care arm of the Church of Scotland – that Christ might use their hands and their hearts as they offer help, support and a willingness to listen. Hear us as we pray for those who experience the care that CrossReach offers: from elderly residents of care homes, to those struggling with emotional well-being, poor mental health or addiction, to children and families facing educational and disability challenges.
And we bring you our prayers for the world, Lord, your eyes scan it all, from east to west, north to south. We thank you for the good news this week of good progress with the vaccines for Covid. Look upon the world, Lord, at this time and show us favour. Our eyes look to you in anticipation as we continue waiting. Amen
May the love of the Creator, the Saviour and the Spirit sustain you today and always, Amen.
Reflections: to pause for poise
Encouragement from Irenaeus
Irenaeus of the second century AD, was one of the early church fathers and one of his most famous quotes is ‘Christ became what we are, in order that we might become what he is’. Pause this week and think about that.
And it mirrors what Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:10: ‘He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him’. And he goes on to say: ‘Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing’. What a beautiful thing it is to encourage someone. Who could you encourage today and say, ‘you’re doing well!’
As we can’t visit our newest grandchild in, we do lots of Facetimes. Calum puts his face close up to the screen in his home and what must be going through his mind as he looks and looks! But that is the way to learn. Over time he will understand and all will be clear. Paul the apostle says that we see through a glass darkly, then we will see face to face. And the apostle John says ‘We know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is’ 1 John 3:3
If people would but do what they have to do, they would always find themselves ready for what came next.
Lord, as we go through this week may we see your Light and may that Light shine over all our days. Give us contentment, to sit comfortably and be at peace, with you, with ourself and one another.