The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle
Reflections for the renewing church, from Rev. John Murray
Sunday 11 October 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 us by the Spirit is our ‘temple’, our true and lasting place of worship. Today our readings speak of the death of death itself, and the invitation that is extended to all … COME!
Isaiah 25:1: LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you and praise your name, for in perfect faithfulness you have done wonderful things, things planned long ago. 6-9: On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare a feast of rich food for all peoples, a banquet of aged wine— the best of meats and the finest of wines. On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove his people’s disgrace from all the earth. The LORD has spoken. In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation.”
Matthew 22: 1- 5: Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: ‘The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come. ‘Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and fattened cattle have been slaughtered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet’. But they paid no attention and went off – one to his field, another to his business… 8-10: ‘Then he said to his servants, “The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.” So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
Revelation 21: 1-5: Then I saw ‘a new heaven and a new earth’, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Come to the banquet: there’s a place for YOU
Isaiah is speaking of a mighty banquet on a mountain called to celebrate death being swallowed up. Wow, how about that as news. To those who are trusting in the LORD, salvation and joy are on the table of good things. It is a prophetic word, into a time of great national insecurity, that trust and more trust, patience and resting, was the way forwardin facing that insecurity; and that in his time, God will bring forth wonderful things, akin to a splendid feast of mature and tasty food and drink.
In the Matthew reading, Jesus, at the start of ‘Holy Week’, tells another parable about the coming of his kingdom, through the coming of his son, the Messiah. But the first round of invitations: to the people of God at that time are body swerved by the intended guests…that bad thing is turned into a good thing, and a new batch of invitations go out to folk considered beyond the pale: and that is the GOOD NEWS of the gospel. This ‘second round’ are delighted to come and come they did: Jesus loved eating and sharing things with them, in a very ‘down to earth’ way: which was and is also a very ‘up to heaven’ way. Amazing grace how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
And in Revelation, John the apostle is given sight and sound of a scene of a great wedding banquet that combines elements of these two readings above, and is the unseen present reality, yet still to be fulfilled on earth: the death of death, God dwelling with us in the new heavens and the new earth, and every tear is wiped away. And as it says: ‘These words are trustworthy and true’.
Loving Lord Jesus, we come… we come into your presence, to worship and praise you. And however it is we come, you tell us just to come: to come from whatever has happened to us this last week, to come from all our feelings of unworthiness, excuse and shame: to come and we leave our cares behind and unite with one another in our faith and hope for the future. Onwards we go, with God at our backs and as our Shepherd.
Gracious and merciful God, we so often make excuses, and turn our backs on your invitations: to follow you and to love you and one another: help us to know that true fulfilment in life comes when we let ourselves be guided and let go of our own desire to control, blame everything and everyone apart from ourselves.
Lord, we bring you now our prayers for the world as it struggles and groans on. May your will be done and bring peace and justice soon to difficult places. We ask your blessing on our church, here in this parish and throughout the world: to be saying ‘Come’, in its thinking and actions: come one and all and hear the good news of Christ. May the church stand, here and elsewhere, with those who are in most need of help, love and support, and be a prophetic voice to the present reality of good things. We praise you Lord that your purposes are ‘to put all things right’, and that there is a day coming when the world will be filled with your presence and righteousness. In the new heavens and the new earth. In the meantime, give us your Spirit to enable us to live in the present, in the confidence of such a future: with freedom and love.
Guide us in our relationships with others: be the meeting place between us, in our families, with our friends, and neighbours, and with those we find difficult.
Bless those who are ill, recovering, anticipating treatment, those feeling anxious and low: and those who are really finding things difficult in one way or another, and we conclude saying together the words that Jesus taught us to pray saying:
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
Lord, help us journey from death to life, and may we know in this life the blessing of the life to come, and what it is to really live
In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Amen
Reflections for the week
It’s good to reflect on this: that the first thing that Adam says to God are words blaming God, making excuses, running from responsibility for his own actions, ignoring his own part in causing pain, whilst at the same time being economical with the truth.
Then reflecting on this: that from that sorry first speech, the bible has its long story ending in God’s last words to humanity inviting us to come! In his life on earth, Jesus invited so many to come and in coming they found that their lives were healed. They opened their hands to receive: that’s all we need to do: open our hands and let the Light in.
The benefit of hindsight and memory allows us to now pause and ask the Lord to pass his hand over our lives, and touch us deeply, so that our heart delights at the invitation to come; and together share the wonderful fruit coming our way from Jesus forgiving us, going out of his way to ensure our peace with God, taking on himself our sorrows and pains, and causing blessing to come to us. Praise God!
There are proverbs saying ‘that a cheerful heart is a continual feast’, and
Why not for the rest of October, note down how the Lord has been good to you, in all the details of your life? As they come to mind, you could jot down things for which you are thankful, and pop them in a bag or box, and see how they mount up: a good exercise in reminding yourself of God’s generosity to you.
And then also think about how we can show our generosity to God.
‘a generous person will prosper, they who refresh others will be refreshed’.
And remember to be kind and generous to yourself.
Cease from giving yourself a hard time.
Rest in God’s love and acceptance of you – as you are.
New minister coming: Rev. Douglas Creighton is coming as the parish minister to East Neuk Trinity linked with St Monans, with his ordination and induction due to take place on 16th October. Please pray for Douglas and his wife Emma and family (2 primary school children) as they settle in to the new manse in Anstruther.