The Parishes of Crail and St Ayle

Reflections for the renewing church, from Rev. Peter Neilson

Sunday 18 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.

Hello, everyone

John is on holiday for a couple of weeks and he has kindly invited me to offer some reflections for the next two Sundays.  We will have the bonus of a video from his friend Suzie Roberts, a Baptist Pastor in Longfleet.  I will follow his good example of reflecting on the recommended Scripture readings.

Peter

 

We come into the presence of God together....

Bless the Lord, O my soul

And all that is within me, bless his holy name.

 

With hands raised, we look beyond ourselves

to You, Lord God, Creator of the Universe.

You gave it birth from beginnings beyond our imagining

into the mystery of stars and planets beyond numbering.

Bless the Lord, O my soul...

 

With hands open, we look within ourselves

And marvel that You have made us in your image

To enjoy communion with You:

To love as You love

And partner with You in caring for all You have created.

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

 

With hands closed tight, we look on our shadow side

Confessing our selfish grasping beyond what we need

And our holding grudges that wait to be let go;

Before the Cross of Jesus Christ,

We empty our hands to receive your forgiveness

And invite your grace to make us more generous

in our thinking, in our speech, and in our actions.

Bless the Lord, O my soul...

 

With hands stretched out, we look beyond ourselves

To those who need your Spirit’s blessing today:

Those we carry on our hearts;

Those we know in the town with troubles;

Those we have seen in the news.

May you bless each according to their need,

By the gentle touch of Your strong Spirit.

 

Bless the Lord, O my soul

And all that is within me, bless his holy name.

AMEN

 

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 33:12-23

Living in the Presence

12 Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Lead these people,’ but you have not let me know whom you will send with me. You have said, ‘I know you by name and you have found favour with me.’ 13 If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favour with you. Remember that this nation is your people.”

14 The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” 

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”

17 And the Lord said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

18 Then Moses said, “Now show me your glory.”

19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”

21 Then the Lord said, “There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. 22 When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”

 

We take time to reflect on God’s Word for us

“Burnout” is a state of exhaustion when we feel that all our reserves have been used up, and we are tired beyond tired.  Motivation has dried up and we lose enthusiasm for life itself.  The things that once gave us joy and pleasure feel dull and uninteresting.  Our bounce has gone.  I wonder if you recognise it in yourself or in others.

As we move into the second wave of this corona virus, we need to be on the alert for people who are on the verge of that deep exhaustion.  We will know people who work in hospitals and care homes, who are severely depleted and fear the coming weeks.  We may be feeling it ourselves because of additional strains in caring for a family member, without the usual opportunities for respite or holiday breaks.  There are certainly ministers and other church workers who are exhausted having to adapt to new patterns of worship and pastoral care.  I have listened to the weariness in their voices in recent weeks.  Please pray for them.  Moses is feeling the pressure of leadership and tackles God about how he will cope with the next stage of the journey. Moses has some specific issues in mind, but God gives him a comprehensive promise that will sustain him for what lies ahead:

My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. (14).

If we know that God is with us, we can cope with whatever comes.  In times of stress, we know that we need to take a rest from work to recover our strength.  What would it mean to live the other way round – to learn to work from a place of inner rest in underpinning arms of God?  Let’s live in the Presence of the God today, and go about our work in partnership with God who gives enough strength for the day.

Of course, we often miss his Presence, and live a kind of practical atheism – as though God was not present. If you miss the moment, take heart from Moses’ special moment of revelation “in the cleft of the rock”. What he saw was God’s back after he had passed by.

Look back on the week, and glimpse His back. He has been here and we did not notice. Time to give thanks for that promise: My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.

A Prayer of Quiet Confidence

Lord, you have always given

Bread for the coming day,

And though I am poor,

Today I believe.

 

Lord, you have always given

Strength for the coming day,

And though I am weak,

Today I believe.

 

Lord, you have always given

Peace for the coming day,

And though of anxious heart

Today I believe.

 

Lord, you have always kept

Me safe from trials,

And now, tried as I am,

Today I believe.

 

Lord, you have always marked

The road for the coming day

And though it may be hidden,

Today I believe.

 

Lord, You have always lightened

This darkness of mine,

And though the night be near,

Today I believe.

 

Lord, you have always spoken

When the time was ripe,

And though you be silent now,

Today I believe.                                    (The Northumbria Community, Evening Prayer)

 

Words of Encouragement: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3

Thanksgiving for our fellow Christians

1 Paul, Silas and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace and peace to you.

2 We always thank God for all of you and continually mention you in our prayers. 3 We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labour prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

Take a moment to think of individuals in our churches who inspire us with their faith, hope and love – and join Paul in thanking God for them.  Who needs your encouragement today?

Prayers for the Wider World

God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ

We thank you for your grace

Generously lavished upon us

Washing us clean

Welcoming us home;

Grace sufficient for every need

and every season of life.

We thank you for your peace

Steadying us on the Rock of our salvation

Holding us in Your strong hand

Stilling the inner storms

Guiding us through unsettling times.

We pray for all those facing redundancy

Those living on drastically reduced incomes

Those on the brink of bankruptcy.

God who inspires hope where there is no hope

Lift up their eyes to the God of faithfulness.

We pray for our political leaders

Making hard decisions that please few,

Seeking the best in the midst of uncertainty,

Hustled by many voices of fear and anger.

God who inspires trust where there is little trust

Lift up their hearts to the God of wisdom.

We pray for the unseen shapers of society

Opinion formers, who feed or poison our minds,

Financial investors, who support or destroy businesses,

Data gatherers, who inform or manipulate us.

God who inspire love where there is no love

Lift up their hearts to the God of truth.

God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

may your church let go the things that will not last

and hold only to the things that are eternal,

growing in faith, in hope and in love,

sowing the seeds of new beginnings

in the changing landscape of our times. AMEN

 

Blessing

 

Take a moment to think of our personal examples of faith, hope and love and bless them.

 

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ

the love of God

and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit

be with us all,

evermore.

AMEN

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