Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 14

Chapter 14

Time for another chapter and this epistle will soon have more chapters than most of the epistles in the New Testament.  In this country things are slowly emerging from Lockdown, for some too fast and for others too slow. 

I write this with the background of reports of ugly scenes in London and illegal raves in Manchester.  What a contrast with the encouraging times of those doing what they can to help, of thousands coming out to clap the NHS or people making amazing efforts to raise money.

We live in strange times where we see the best and the worst that people are capable of.  But we should not feel helpless, we can make a difference by living out our faith.  I am reminded of 2 Timothy 1 v.7 “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and self-control.”  In these times of preparing for re-opening our building, let us be people who trust in God’s timing.  Let us be people whom the Holy Spirit works through with love and power, and people who show self-control (or self-discipline) in our praying, thinking and conversations. 

As we think about time in this chapter I thought you might enjoy this:-

Bible Study

On Wednesday 24th June at 7.30pm, all are welcome to join in and if you do not have internet you can join us over the phone.

We are continuing a gentle stroll through Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

  • The passage is Philippians 4 v.1-9,
  • If you have a phone and want to join in the Bible Study - then you can. 
  • You ring either of these phone numbers, 0203 481 5240 or 0208 080 6591
  • Then you will be asked to enter the meeting ID 429 588 385 followed by #
  • Then you will need to enter a passcode, again followed by #

Please let me know beforehand if you want to join in and I will let you have the necessary passcode

If you prefer to do this Bible Study at home, then try the following

5 Somethings

  • Something about God
  • Something about people or myself
  • Something that stands out
  • Something you don’t understand
  • Something that is a command or promise or encouragement

In next week’s Reflection we will be thinking about the symbol of Hands, the passages are Psalm 63 and Isaiah 49 v.1-18.

Reflection from Phillip

Based on Psalm 37 v.  1-9, 39 & 40

Symbols of our Faith – Time

When all this is over I wonder what you will remember about the lockdown of 2020?  Will it be the difficulties of shopping or the discovery of new things such as Zoom meetings on the computer?  Perhaps it will be missing physically seeing family and friends in an isolated world or the appreciation of nature in the beautiful spring weather.  Whatever the individual memory, I am sure we will all have appreciated time in a different way.  Confined at home we have lost the structure to the week and at times one day has been very much like the next.  For myself I have literally had “time on my hands” and managed to finish a project that has been waiting 35 years to complete.

When I was a boy, I was fascinated in taking things, particularly clocks, apart and seeing how they worked.  My father once presented me with two large pendulum clocks, like you might see on a railway station, although neither has ever been used in that role.  I repaired both and one has been with me accurately measuring time for about 50 years, but the other got damaged when my parents moved house in 1985 and hasn’t gone since then, until now.

The clock is at least 150 years old and originally hung in Doncaster Guildhall which, until demolition in the mid-sixties, was the town’s police station.  If the clock could talk what stories it would tell; from officers going on and off shift, to members of the public reporting things, to criminals being charged.  It has seen it all, but only ever said tick-tock. 

What a strange concept time is.  We can never take more than a moment at a time and once used it is gone.  We have chosen it as a “Symbol of Faith” as a reminder that God is behind our concept of time.  Scripture frequently tells us that God oversees time; day and night, morning and evening are defined on the first page of the Bible (Genesis.1 v5) and as we saw in last week’s reflection God has promised that the seasons, springtime and harvest, will always occur.  God is the eternal presence within time like the constant, steady tick-tock of a stately clock.  So, however we feel in a particular moment God is there with us to see our joys, uphold us in our struggles and bring us safely through times of trouble.

The Psalms in the Bible were written to reflect different feelings and emotions that the writer was going through.  From unsurpassed joy, as in Psalm 100, to the pits of despair, as in Psalm 22.  A snappy title for our reading today, Psalm 37, could be “Keep Calm and Carry On”, except that it is not really a psalm about snappy quick fixes, but about patiently waiting for God to act.  The whole tone of the psalm is to cause the reader to focus on God and his plans for good.  We might fret when we see evil succeed or be envious of others seemingly getting away with doing wrong.  But the psalm keeps directing our gaze back onto God.  We are to be still, commit our ways to the Lord and trust in him.  For the promise is there that those who turn to and trust the Lord will be protected in times of trouble.

It is perfectly understandable at times to worry over what has happened and fret for what might come, but neither the past nor the future are in our hands.  What is in our hands though is the present and I appreciate that thought in this little rhyme

Yesterday is history,
Tomorrow is a mystery,
Today is a gift from God,
Which is why it’s called the Present

In the present we need to draw near to God, for the promise is there that if we make him our refuge, he is our stronghold and will protect us in times of trouble.

Songs for Sunday

Lord for the years” was written by Timothy Dudley-Smith in 1967 to mark the centenary of Scripture Union.  Like most of his hymns it was written to match a well-known tune, in this case Finlandia.  However, we never sing it to that nowadays but use Michael Baughen’s tune from 1969 called Lord of the years.

1) Lord, for the years your love has kept and guided,
urged and inspired us, cheered us on our way,
sought us and saved us, pardoned and provided:
Lord of the years, we bring our thanks today.

2) Lord, for that word, the word of life which fires us,
speaks to our hearts and sets our souls ablaze,
teaches and trains, rebukes us and inspires us:
Lord of the word, receive your people’s praise.

3) Lord, for our land, in this our generation,
spirits oppressed by pleasure, wealth and care;
for young and old, for commonwealth and nation,
Lord of our land, be pleased to hear our prayer.

4) Lord, for our world; when we disown and doubt you,
loveless in strength, and comfortless in pain,
hungry and helpless, lost indeed without You:
Lord of the world, we pray that Christ may reign.

5) Lord, for ourselves; in living power remake us,
self on the cross and Christ upon the throne,
past put behind us, for our future take us:
Lord of our lives, to live for Christ alone.

Timothy Dudley-Smith (b.  1926) 
© Timothy Dudley-Smith  CCLI #5638

George Matheson was a Victorian Scottish Minister.  Blind from his late teens, he was blessed with a phenomenal memory whereby he could memorise whole sermons and large passages of Scripture.  Matheson also had an interest in clocks and if you look up his hymn, “Make me a captive Lord”, you will see several allusions to clock parts. 

We’ve chosen to sing though his beautiful hymn, “O Love that wilt not let me go”.

1) O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in Thee;
I give Thee back the life I owe,
that in Thine ocean depths its flow
may richer, fuller, be.

2) O Light that followest all my way
I yield my flickering torch to Thee;
my heart restores its borrowed ray,
that in Thy sunshine’s blaze its day
may brighter, fairer be.

3) O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to Thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
and feel the promise is not vain
that morn shall tearless be.

4) O cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
and from the ground there blossoms red
life that shall endless be.

George Matheson (1842-1906) CCLI #5638

Prayers of thanksgiving and intercession (From Christian Aid)

For the health workers tending
the seriously ill
for the scientists working on a vaccination
for the researchers analysing data and identifying trends
for the media outlets working to
communicate reality
for the supermarket workers,
hygiene and sanitation providers
for the good news stories of recoveries
and effective planning
for the singing from balconies by
locked-down communities
for the recognition that isolation
doesn’t need to mean loneliness
for the notes through letterboxes
offering help and support
for the internet and telephones and
technology that connects
for the awakened appreciation of what is
truly important

Thanks be to God!
For those who are unwell and concerned for loved ones
for those who were already very anxious
for those immune suppressed or compromised
for those vulnerable because of underlying conditions
for those in the ‘most at risk to coronavirus’ categories
for those watching their entire income dry up
for those who have no choice but to go out to work
for those who are afraid to be at home
for those who are more lonely than they've ever been
for those who are bereaved and grieving.

God be their healer, comfort and protection,
be their strength, shield and provision
be their security, safety and close companion

And raise up your Church
to be your well-washed hands and faithful feet
to be present to the pain
to respond with love in action
if even from a safe distance.
God, in your mercy,
Hear our prayer.


The prayer that Jesus taught us

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from this time of trial,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and forever.