Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 17

Chapter 17

Welcome to the next chapter, more words for you to read! 

As some of you know I like words and playing with words.  One word I enjoy using is “snicket” which I gained when I lived in Yorkshire.  Snicket = ginnel = alleyway = path between fences or bushes = ….  I am sure you have a Kettering word for this. 

Groups of people tend to develop a vocabulary between them.  When we were first travelling on the canals, we learnt a new word “Gongoozler” which means an idle spectator.  So, if you have ever been to Foxton Locks and watched the boats you are a gongoozler!  On a bench at the top end of Foxton Locks is the phrase “Goo stiddy, but keep going”.  I don’t know which dialect “Goo stiddy” is and I am sure it has nothing to do with sticky goo.  Although even if it does refer to the going getting sticky or there being mud up ahead, the advice to keep going is still crucial. 

In church life there are occasionally gongoozlers, idle spectators who give their advice but just stay on the bank or not get involved.  I want to encourage you all to be active in your faith to “Go steady but keep going” whether the journey is rough, sticky or smooth, keep going with God.


From Laura based on Matthew 4 v.18 to 22

Symbols of our Faith – Fish

If I say the word “fish” what is your immediate thought?  “Chips” is likely to be a common one, although some of you might think of going fishing and that the fish you caught “was this big”.  If I ask you about fish in the Bible which ones do you think of?  You might suggest the big fish that swallowed Jonah, and certainly Jonah had a sticky experience in the fish’s stomach after going in the opposite direction to the one God said!  Or else you might think of the 153 fish in the disciples’ massive catch, followed by breakfast on the beach with the resurrected Jesus (John chapter 21).  We looked at this story in chapter 8 of our Rocky Road Epistle and recognised Jesus guiding the disciples where to fish and blessing their obedience. 

What about the fish that had a coin in its mouth?  Jesus told Peter to go and fish and the first fish had a coin in it that they used to pay a tax (Matthew 17 v.24-27).  Or possibly you would think of the fish that were part of a boy’s picnic.  The small amount of 5 loaves and 2 fishes in the hands of Jesus were used to feed over 5000 people.  (Matthew 14 v.13-21).  A lovely story that always reminds me that however small or insignificant we feel, God can use us to bless others.  There are other references to fish that we could mention, such as in our passage. 

Here is a different take on the passage – good news for fish!

Some of the disciples were fishermen and so it is not surprising that Jesus used words they would understand.  His call was to “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men and women.”  The invitation was first to come and follow and then to fish.  We need to be followers of Jesus to be witnesses to Him.  If we do not know Jesus, we cannot introduce other people to him. 

While on the subject of fish there is a Chinese proverb “You can feed a hungry man for a day by giving him a fish.  But you can feed him for a lifetime by teaching him how to fish.”  Each of us needs to know Jesus in our own lives, to be able to feed spiritually ourselves and not rely on the faith of other people.  Yet it is important that we meet together, that we study God’s words together and that we pray together.  Going back to the idea of fishing, we can learn from other people, we can give encouragement to or be encouraged by others, they can show us a better way of “fishing” and we can avoid getting into bad habits.

From the earliest days of the church a fish sign has been a Christian symbol.  In Roman times it was used by the persecuted church as a secret sign.  I understand that the correct way is for the fish to point to the left.  I remember hearing someone explain that if Christians came to a meeting and saw the fish pointing to the right it meant danger and they would go away.  I have tried to check this out, but cannot find any reference to this interesting idea.  I am not sure what it means on a car if the fish symbol points to the right – I leave it for you to come up with a suggestion. 

The fish was more than just a symbol it was a summary of the heart of the Christian belief.  This is because the word for fish in Greek is Ichthus which was an acrostic, i.e.  the letters ICHTHUS each started a word which formed a message. 

I = Greek letter Iota, Ι, first letter of Jesus in Greek                                Jesus

Ch = Greek letter Chi, Χ, first letter of Christ in Greek                           Christ

Th = Greek letter Theta, θ, first letter of God in Greek                         of God

U = Greek letter Upsilon, Υ, first letter of Son in Greek                         Son

S = Greek letter Sigma, Σ, first letter of Saviour in Greek                     Saviour

Which gives the phrase
Jesus Christ Son of God Saviour,

Let us be followers of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, our saviour, and let us be ready to be used to spread the good news of Jesus to those we meet.  We all have a part to play in God’s mission, our lives should act as salt or light to others. 

“Go steady, but keep going”, or as Paul writes to the Galatians, Chapter 5 (Message version)

22-23 But what happens when we live God’s way?  He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard - things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity.  We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.  We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

23-24 Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way.  Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good - crucified.

25-26 Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives.  That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse.  We have far more interesting things to do with our lives.  Each of us is an original.


12th July is internationally recognised as Sea Sunday, you can find out more about it on the web site at
We pray today for those whose lives are affected by the sea.

We pray for people whose work takes them
to sea;
for those in the different branches of the navy;
for those who transport goods by ship;
for those who catch fish for their living. 
be with them as they work,
and keep them safe when the weather is bad, and seas are rough. 
Lord God, creator of all that is,
Hear our prayer. 

We pray for those who give help
when people get into difficulties at sea. 
For the lifeboat service, and for air-sea rescue;
for coast guards, and for lifeguards. 
We thank You for their courage,
and ask that You will guard and guide them
as they work for others in need. 
Lord God, creator of all that is,
Hear our prayer. 

Lord, the sea is a place full of beauty,
but it has also been damaged by our greed
and by our selfishness. 
People are not always careful
about how they treat the sea;
poisons are allowed to seep into it;
rubbish endangers the plants and creatures that live in it. 
Be with those whose special work it is to make the sea clean,
and show us how we can share this wonderful resource. 
Lord God, creator of all that is,
Hear our prayer. 

We pray for those who are going on holiday to the seaside,
especially those from our own congregation. 
Keep them safe on the beaches and in the sea.

May they come back refreshed,
and ready for new work and activity. 
Lord God, creator of all that is,
Hear our prayer. 

We pray now for ourselves. 
as we think of the sea,
we ask that You will help us
to value this wonderful resource,
and to play our part in caring for it,
so that those who come after us
may also have their lives enriched
by all that it can offer. 

We offer these our prayers in the name of Jesus who called fishermen to be His friends, and who preached from a boat on the Sea of Galilee.  Amen

Songs for Sunday

1.  Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning.
give me oil in my lamp, I pray;
give me oil in my lamp, keep my burning,
keep me burning till the break of day.

Sing hosanna, sing hosanna,
sing hosanna to the King of kings.
sing hosanna, sing hosanna,
sing hosanna to the King!

2.  Make me a fisher of men, keep me seeking,
make me a fisher of men, I pray;
make me a fisher of men, keep me seeking,
keep me seeking till the break of day.
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna, …

3.  Give me joy in my heart, keep me singing,
give me joy in my heart, I pray;
give me joy in my heart, keep me singing,
keep me singing till the break of day.
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna, …

4.  Give me love in my heart, keep me serving,
give me love in my heart, I pray;
give me love in my heart, keep me serving.
keep me serving till the break of day.
Sing hosanna, sing hosanna, …

© 1974 ThankYou Music CCLI #5638

1. Name of all majesty,
Fathomless mystery,
King of the ages
By angels adored;
power and authority,
splendour and dignity,
bow to His mastery,
Jesus is Lord!

2.  Child of our destiny,
God from eternity,
love of the Father
on sinners outpoured;
see now what God has done
sending his only Son,
Christ the beloved One,
Jesus is Lord!

3.  Saviour of Calvary,
costliest victory,
darkness defeated
and Eden restored;
born as a man to die,
nailed to a cross on high,
cold in the grave to lie,
Jesus is Lord!

4.  Source of all sovereignty,
light, immortality,
life everlasting
and heaven assured;
so with the ransomed, we
praise Him eternally,
Christ in His majesty -
Jesus is Lord!

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

In next week’s Reflection we will be thinking about
the symbols of Bread and Wine, the passage is Matthew 26 v.17-30

Bible Study on Wednesday 15th July

At 7.15pm for 7.30pm start, all are welcome to join in and if you do not have internet you can join us over the phone.

We are starting a series called Meeting God in Waiting.

The passage is Psalm 13,

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 think about the following points.

  1. How has this time of lock down and waiting affected your sense of God’s presence?
  2. Read Psalm 13, try to give a heading for each of the 3 sections, v.1-2, v.3-4, v.5-6
  3. How has waiting impacted the psalmist?
  4. What does the Psalmist ask of God?
  5. What truths about God are mentioned?
  6. Which of these truths are an encouragement to you and why?


Finally, may God bless each of you wherever you are.
Whether you meet with others in our building on Sunday at 10.45 or come together through reading these pages, we are all one church in Christ Jesus.