The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle
Reflections for the church of the moment, from Rev. John Murray
Sunday 27 September 2020
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Lord, may this time of worship be a time of appreciating that you lead us in good ways, and the death and resurrection of Jesus has opened up the good way for us.
‘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.
Our readings today both show us how there are options for us as to how we ‘see’ things, and as to how it is possible to be so far away from seeing God’s sense of rightness, whilst defending a sense of personal rightness.
Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Saviour, and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, Lord, your great mercy and love for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, Lord, are good.
Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant.
1. If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility consider others better than yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.
5. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6. Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12. Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13. for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfil his good purpose.
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.
What do you have in mind?
That’s a common enough question. The psalmist has it in mind that God can show something to him if he is willing to wait and look for it. He takes up the attitude of an eager pupil, who is willing to wait all day.
Paul urges the church in Philippi to ‘have the same mind’, or attitude as Christ. For Paul the primary nature of the mind of Christ was that he was willing to make himself as small as one of us, to empty himself, and adopt the nature of a slave: a slave who was crucified. This resulted in a matching response by his Father to exalt him to the highest place.
Verses 6 – 11 of the Philippian reading are one of the earliest Christian hymns of praise, describing this journey of Christ: from heaven to earth to heaven again. And today let’s have in mind the ‘bookend’ verses in which this hymn is set: verses 1 – 5 and verses 12- 13. In those verses (printed in italics), Paul is suggesting what should be our attitude. Like-minded, loving, humble, thinking others better than ourselves, and looking to the interests of others. And verses 12 and 13 invite an attitude, a belief that God is working within us according to his mind and purpose, and we are to ‘work that out’.
And a thing worth bearing in mind, in this moment, is that Jesus the Son of God had to learn to live with restrictions to his previous mode of existence, and learn what the new normal of life as a ‘servant’ meant for him. That was no easy task for him, or for us; but for us as we follow the mind of Christ we have someone who has gone before us. Therefore mind how you go, and let us go on mindfully in Christ.
Lord, as we come to you in prayer, we ask for a mind which is like the mind of the writer of this psalm. We lift up our soul to you, and take time to fill our mind with thoughts of who you really are: God who is our Saviour, who has it in mind to do us good and part of that goodness is to help us in the details of our lives. Where we are right now, and in whatever state we are in.
And when we are still, and think about what your Son did for our benefit, we are taken aback by how you must love human- kind: in all its waywardness and self-mindedness. That you love it so much as to send Jesus.
Help us to have a good attitude in life: with ourselves: help us to stop being hard on ourselves. With others, help us to adopt the attitude of being caring and considerate, and to you Lord we confess that often at the bottom of all our mixed up thinking lies a thought put there by the father of lies: that you are not good, loving etc., but are perhaps like authority figures who intimidated us when we were young: forgive us our wrong thinking.
We thank you for all the acts of humble service which are going on locally amongst us here in the East Neuk, the caring for others, at home and in care homes, all the unnoticed acts of kindness. Where folk are emptying themselves for others.
In a world full of pride and prejudice, as people grasp at things for their own ego boosting, may your church find its true identity in serving as did Jesus: emptying itself, and in time being filled up with good things in the days to come.
Lord, the world is in crisis, the wheels have come off the well-oiled machine of the west, and a sense of where are we going now, has replaced our ability to control our future. Lead us Lord as we humbly cry out to you: ‘Show us your ways’.
Meet us where we are,
show us where we need to be,
and then come with us as we move
Replace our cries of ‘when will we get there’, to ‘thank you for being with us in this moment,’ Amen
May the Father who planned the Cross,
The Son who emptied himself to suffer on the Cross,
And the Spirit through whom Jesus was raised,
Grant us all to have a quiet mind, as we wait in faith, hope and love, Amen.
Reflections for the week
How did Jesus cope? Well, he made sure that in his life he had certain times in which he took care of himself: to have mental fitness to carry on, fulfilling what the Father had in mind for him. He often went off on his own: to chill out, to keep his mind functioning well. That provides a really good example for us. You will know what enables you to cope, and what calms and strengthens your mind. So make time this week for your mind and body to be reinvigorated.
Excursion from the manse
This week I had a first: visiting the recycling centre at Pittenweem. (I live an exciting life!). I was putting some cardboard into the skip: some boxes from the removal were too big and I had to make them small to get them through the skip opening. This cardboard had started as flat, became boxes, and then were flattened again, changing their form but remaining the same throughout. A lesson in change, with the one thing assuming different forms, according to time and purpose.
Philippi was a Roman colony, and was very proud of being so. Rome had given free land to some of its soldier veterans there and granted them the status of a Roman citizen - something highly prized. In Philippians 3: 20, Paul says: But our citizenship is in heaven…. And we eagerly await the Saviour who will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. Paul, a Roman citizen from birth knew what mattered to him, and what could be considered as ‘rubbish’. His life had seen a change of mind. Can we take a page out of his book?
We can find it hard to be made to feel small. The ‘Incarnation’ is the theological word for Jesus being made small, as in human, and of course as in a baby. And not just small in the size sense, also small in the sense of emptying himself and becoming a…