The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections from Rev. John Murray 

Sunday 22 November 2020: The Reign of Christ the King

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

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.

Ezekiel 34:11- 24 (abbreviated) ‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them.  As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep.  I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness.  I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD.  I will judge between one sheep and another.  I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd.  I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them.  I the LORD have spoken.

 

Ephesians 1:15-23  For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the LORD Jesus and your love for all God's people, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our LORD Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.  And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.

How did Jesus become king?

When Jesus was crucified, Pilate arranged for a notice at the top of the cross, saying ‘The King of the Jews.’  And the soldiers had previously placed a crown of thorns on his head.  There’s a strange paradox going on here: Herod who spent millions on his campaign to be acknowledged the King of the Jews, never got there.  This poor bedraggled, whipped, tortured, young rabbi from the line of David gets that acknowledgement.  That is one heck of a strange way to become a king, crying out in anguish; ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’  But become the King he did.

 

The Ezekiel passage speaks that one day a good shepherd will come: that shepherd came and now Christ is King. Jesus came and said ‘I am the good shepherd: I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.  I lay down my life for the sheep.  And on that day in Jerusalem, at the exact time that the Passover lambs were killed, Jesus laid down his life, and his everlasting kingship was assured, yet the rule of the kingdom is not obvious.  Can we in our day, cope with the paradox that this King, until he comes again, is ruling in a way which is so unlike the way worldly power works?

 

Prayers

 

Living God, we pray for the coming of God’s kingdom.  You sent Your Son to bring good news to the poor, sight to the blind, freedom to captives and salvation to your people: we call on him as our good shepherd, anoint us with his Spirit; rouse us to work in His name: to fight injustice with the power of the cross and the prayer of faith.

 

Lord Almighty, just as your son encountered such opposition from those who should have known better, and Ezekiel spoke against the false shepherds, give us strength to walk the way of Christ in this life, conscious that the battle has been won, and we pray from a position of victory.  May we see Christ seated on the highest throne, even as we feel in the lowest of lows.

 

And seeing that in faith, may we feel it in our hearts, and thus walk with confidence through these uncertain times.  We pray for the spirit of wisdom and revelation that we may know Christ all the better, that we may go forward in hope, and realise the glorious riches we have been given in Christ: that we have access to the same power by which He was raised from the dead.

 

Lord of resurrection, raise us to faithful shepherds as we care for those in our care.  Bless your church at this time with wise shepherds, and a realisation of the high calling we have as members not just on communicant lists, but members of the body of Christ.

 

And as we wait in these uncertain times, give us whispers of hope and glimpses of new good times ahead.  As we wait for Advent, may we feel the winds of adventure, in such a time as this.  Through Christ who risked all for us: Amen

Have a look again at the picture of the praying hands.  It is an etching by Albrecht  Durer who drew the hands of his brother, Albert, palms together, pointing toward heaven.  It was said that both brothers wanted to go to art college, but only one could go first. Albrecht went and came back four years later, and said to Albert that he should now go.  In reply, Albert pressed his hands, palms facing each other, against his brother’s face and spoke, No, brother, I cannot go to Nuremberg.  It is too late for me.  Look what four years in the mines have done to my hands!  The bones in every finger have been smashed at least once, and lately I have been suffering from arthritis so badly in my right hand that I cannot even hold a glass.  Albrecht Durer then painstakingly drew Albert’s hands, palms together, etching out all the signs of suffering, pointing toward heaven, and these hands have become famous. 

When Jesus as King appeared to his disciples, he showed them his hands, which although part of his now resurrected body, still bore the scars. With Jesus’s love and efforts for us, and with what his hands went through for us, we are blessed beyond measure.  Now feel those hands of Jesus on our face.  What is Jesus saying to us?

Then look at your hands and think about all that they have done for others and all

that they can do through the power God supplies and of which Paul speaks.

Now read the Ephesians passage again, then put your hands together and pray.

You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. (John 14:14)

 

Blessing

 

Go forth to serve the King!

May your weakness be strength, your suffering your crown, and may your darkness

be turned to light.  May your hands serve the kingdom of God.

 

Go in peace, and the blessing of Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit

rest on and remain with you and your loved ones, Amen.

 

 

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these

brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

 

Reflections

 

“Christ has no body on earth now but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours; yours are the eyes through which he looks with compassion on the world; yours are the feet with which he walks to do good; yours are the hands with which he blesses all the world.  

Teresa of Avila   

 

Onwards and Upwards with Psalm 84

 

Have a read of Psalm 84.  It seems that the writer is somehow prevented from attending the public worship of God.  From a distance, he envies those who have access to the temple in Jerusalem.  It is easy for us to be conscious of where we cannot go as we did in the past. We feel keenly the restrictions of travel and being with those we would like to be with. Nor can people visit us and we miss the come and go.

 

We, like the psalmist may feel we have no strength for this journey in ourselves.  But we go on in a strength which is not our own.  The way to our destination lies through the Valley of Baca.  Some commentators take this place to refer to tears shed by the pilgrims along the way.  It is certainly the case that being called to serve God will lead to tears.  Psalm 126 refers twice to the fact that those who have been called to sow the seed of the kingdom will know what it means to weep: tears are all part and parcel of what it means to serve God.  Paul knew this very well, and reframed his life to absorb it into his spiritual mindset.  He had a thorn in the flesh, yet he knew the Spirit of Christ was with him in it all.  He kept going because he knew how faithful and long-suffering God had been with him.  And Baca valley is turned into a place of springs and life.  Let’s treat this present difficult time as a sort of pilgrimage that can teach us much about God and ourselves.

 

For the Psalm says that pilgrims will find encouragement, even in the place of tears.  There seems to me to be a link between the tears which fall as our difficulties overflow and the rain which falls in the same valley as the blessing of God comes down: the pilgrims go on “from strength to strength”.  Yes, it may well feel like rather we are going from weakness to weakness, yet Jesus knew this as well as he went on, and he headed on in his own strange vocation, and he calls us to do the same.  As the apostle Peter says: ‘Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.  But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed….and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away’.

 

 

Live from day to day, just from day to day. If you do so, you worry less and live more richly.

AM Lindbergh     

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