The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections from Rev. John Murray 

Sunday 1 November 2020

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 and in us by the Spirit is our ‘temple’, our true and lasting place of worship.  Today the readings ask us to move on, consider change, realise who we are and what we have, TOGETHER.

So in this November, which can be seen as an empty, tailing-off sort of month, we are going to intentionally fill it and us with good things, to keep us healthy in BMS*


Joshua 3:11-17: See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you.  Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe.  And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”  So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant went ahead of them.  Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest.  Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing…so the people crossed over opposite Jericho.  The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.


Psalm 34:1-4

I will extol the Lord at all times;
    his praise will always be on my lips.
I will glory in the Lord;
    let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
Glorify the Lord with me;
    let us exalt his name together.

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
    he delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant.


1 John 3:1-3:  See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!  And that is what we are!  The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.  Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known.  But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.  All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.


BMS*  body, mind and spirit


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: Amen


Carried by God, all the way


The River Spey at Craigellachie

Being carried over by God: the Israelites over the Jordan, David carried through a difficult time, and the early church and us, the church of the moment, being carried  into a place of renewal: the new reality.

Becoming free at last: out of the wilderness and into the Promised Land.  David free from his sense of fear, and the early church and us, free to be who they and we really are: children of God.

What strikes me is the note of beautiful surprise and wonder hanging around these three different texts.  An impossible barrier became a walk in the park, David is so exuberant, and the apostle John has to say yes it really is true!

All these things happened to real people, with real issues, in real time.  They were not promises for way off in the future.  Into the Promised Land went the people, David had found his form again, and John said ‘it’s so good and it’s going to get even better.  How great is that?’


On the road to Emmaus, the sad found joy, it was a ‘resurrection’ to them

So it’s time to come home, out of whatever ‘exiles’ we have been or are in.

Time to be carried over to good new things.  Time to be ready to be filled.




Lord, thank you for these wonderful readings and beyond the print, to the reality: you are with us.  How great is your love.  In this month of November, may we step into the flow of your good purposes for us.

We toss off the thoughts of the big barriers in front of us, hemming us in: we cast off diminishing ways of thinking like a worn garment, we sing with David because you are our deliverer, and we wave our new birth certificate about, and say we are the children of God, and that is who we are!

And yes, we know exactly what the Israelites felt like, and yes, we have shared something of what caused David to be so low, and yes Lord, just as the early church suffered attack and pain, so we know things that bite into us.  So thankyou that today you are calling us to move on, cross over, realise the truth within: that you are in control.  O Lord, forgive us for living in the dark land of ‘what if’ and with your aid may we commit to live in the land of ‘what can be’ in the present and future.  Help us to be those willing to dip our toes into change and new opportunities – even in such trying times as these.

We pray into these times: of Covid effects, impinging on all areas of life.  As the furlough scheme ends, and hard choices are made and the consequences are felt.  And still out there the age old issues of prejudice, persecution, and injustice, national and international strife simmering on and bursting out like flares.  And Brexit.  Father God have pity and compassion on us and all your world.  Bring in quickly means of healing: give wisdom and insight to those seeking vaccines, and also those entrusted with keeping life stable and orderly.  Rule over the US presidential election and may your will be done in good order and clarity.

And we pray that in the circle in which we move, you are there.  Be the good God of Surprises to us: and as the days get darker, may we feel in a real sense somehow lighter: looser, freer, as we realise what really matters.  We choose to have cheerful spirits, undaunted by the times, following previous generations who fought against worse odds, and whom we will remember shortly.  Hear our silent prayers we offer you as your beloved children….. Amen.

Sunday 8th November: We will remember.


And thank you

I am very grateful indeed to Peter Neilson for covering for me when I was away on holiday and doing the reflections.  And to the worship leaders who conducted the services.  I’ve passed on thanks to Suzie Roberts in Poole for her YouTube clips.  Please just call me if you would like a chat or visit (I can still visit folk) 01333: 311630.



God give you grace to follow the saints in faith and hope and love

And the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,

be among you and remain with you, now and always, Amen


Reflections for the week

Tweet from the manse^^

“Hope” is the thing with feathers

That perches in the soul

And sings the tune without the words

And never stops - at all.

Emily Dickinson


I am enjoying hearing the birds singing before break of day and when it is getting dark.  Imagine hope singing in your heart.  We can cultivate the habit of singing hope (in our minds!) like the birds.


Come on Crail and St Ayle -

Over your Jordan with a smile :)

Step 1:  For the Israelites the idea of the other side of Jordan, was a promise of abundant life in this life: they could see it, just over there.  God can give us glimpses of new possibilities, and the power to get there will come as well.


Step 2:  Reflect on Joshua and Caleb, they were two of the spies who had gone over and had a look: 40 years back: they had said let’s do it.  Now at long last, they are released to fulfil the promises… they had possibly been living with regrets that their advice had not been followed, but had stayed faithful.  And here they are: raring to go and now leading the people over.  Their time had come and their greatest years were ahead of them.  See what Caleb was up to aged 85: Joshua 14:6-15.


Step 3:  The idea of going down into the waters and coming up out of them, the same but different is a picture for baptism: an end of one way of life, and the start of a new life.  It was at the Jordan that John baptised and Jesus started his ministry.  So, let’s step forward into the next stage of whatever is in store for us with hope and faith..


… Even me, who’s always thinking ‘what if’


It appears David had got it into his head that he would be killed at the hand of Saul, and because of this worry/panic, he scarpered off to the Philistines and pretended to be mad.  Yes, we all do some strange things!  So take comfort.  David’s glory days were still to come.


Sing along: have a look at these puppets.



What the shore teaches us


And sometimes we need to allow ourselves a place and time to lament.  70% of the Psalms are ones which start with lament.  At low tide it can look a tad scaffy, untidy, rough.  Yet the tide will come in, just as lament psalms end in praise.  The full flow in

starts at the



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