Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 13

Rocky Road Epistle for Sunday 14th June 2020

Chapter 13

Welcome to chapter 13.  Have you noticed that conversations are changing?  As the days have changed from hot beautiful sunshine to cold liquid sunshine (i.e.  rain), so weather is becoming a necessary part of conversations again!  I know that because as your minister I have the pleasure of talking to many of you, week by week.  Another common topic in our phone calls is when we will be able to come together again for fellowship in our building.  I know how you feel, but we are still functioning as a church, we are still having fellowship in other ways and we can still pray.  Please continue to pray and think about how we should emerge from lockdown as a church, I hope that will form part of my conversations with RRBC folk over the next few weeks. 

With the passage for this chapter it seems apt to ask for specific prayer for the future our community café - “The Ark”.  Any changes that should be made, the urgent need for people to join the teams, for an increasing support for the venture and for wisdom about ways to use it to reach out into the local community.


Bible Study

Wednesday 17th 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 3 v.12-21,

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

Colour Code (you could colour words in - if that helps, or even copy the passage out and then colour parts of it)

  • Yellow = anything about God, Father, Son or Holy Spirit.
  • Green = anything that makes me happy.
  • Red = anything that is a challenge for me to aim at.
  • Brown = anything that makes me sad: sin, sorrow, death.
  • Purple = anything about the death of Christ and what it achieved for us.
  • Blue = anything else important, such as principles that work today, or prayers I could use myself.

In next week’s Reflection we will be thinking about the symbol of the Time, the passage is Psalm 37 v. 1-9, 39 & 40


Reflection

From Laura on Genesis 8 v.15-22, 9 v.12-17

Symbols of our Faith – the Rainbow

There have been many rainbows appearing during this time of lockdown, often with the words “Thankyou NHS”.

This is nothing new, rainbows are often used with a short message, such as “It takes both sunshine and rain to make a rainbow.”  Or “The darker the storm the brighter the rainbow”, or even the encouragement to “Try to be a rainbow in somebody’s cloud”. 

I have always marvelled at rainbows appearing, and love to look at them.  Interestingly no one sees a rainbow exactly as you do.  Others can look at the same rainbow, but they will be looking at it from a different spot and at a different angle, so it will look slightly different to them.  Yet if we only marvel at the rainbow we have missed out.  The rainbow speaks of God, as another message said “No matter how long the storm, God is always at the end of a rainbow” or better still, “Our hope is not in the rainbow, but in the creator who put it there”.  We should marvel at rainbows as part of God’s amazing creation but let them point us to God who formed them.  You cannot have rainbows without rain, but if you only look at the storm you might miss the rainbow as they do not last for very long!  The challenge in the storms or difficulties of life is to look for the rainbows, to look for signs of God at work.  As the hymn “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” encourages us, we should “Ponder anew” all that God can do (and has done).  This means taking time to look for signs of God at work in both unusual and in everyday situations. 

But what does the symbol of a rainbow mean?

To the many children who have drawn or painted rainbows, it is something beautiful that expresses thanks & hope.

From the song “Somewhere over the rainbow” it is a symbol of wishful longing for dreams to come true, people sometimes talk about chasing rainbows.  Or sometimes it is used as a symbol of good fortune with the idea of a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 

In the passage from Genesis we learn of the ending of the forty-day lockdown experienced by Noah and his family.  They had been stuck on a boat in torrential rain, with a wide variety of animals, and could not go outside, not even for a breath of fresh air.  It must have been a tremendous relief to get off the Ark and onto dry land.  But their world was different, they had to face change, to live in a “New Normal”.  Notice that Noah started as he meant to go on by having a time of worship.  In chapter 8 verse 20 we read that Noah made a burnt offering, an offering of thanks to God for bringing them safely through the flood.  If you read the beginning of Chapter 9 you will read of God’s blessing of Noah, his instruction, and his promise that he would never again destroy the whole earth with a flood.

Then in chapter 9 verse 12 the first rainbow is formed as a reminder to God of his words that the days and seasons will not cease while the earth lasts (Chapter 8 v.22).  More likely though, as God does not need reminding, it is a reminder to people that God keeps his promises.  Clearly the rainbow is a symbol of hope, a symbol of God’s provision and care and a symbol of God’s faithfulness. 

As we come out of lockdown our first priority should be worship, grateful praise to God for his care and provision.  But let us learn from this time of lockdown, the importance of prayer, of reading the Bible and of fellowship in whatever form it takes.  Let us seek God’s guidance and blessing as we face a “new normal”.  We must not dive back into a holy huddle which would be like Noah and family going back into the Ark.  There is work to do for each of us, God’s work.  Let us be people who look for rainbows in storms because we know that the LORD is good and his love endures for ever; his faithfulness continues through all generations whatever the weather. 


Songs for Sunday

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty,
the King of creation;
O my soul, praise him,
for he is thy health and salvation:
All ye who hear.
Now to his temple draw near,
Joining in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things
so wondrously reigneth,
Shieldeth thee gently from harm,
or when fainting sustaineth:
Hast thou not seen
How thy heart’s wishes have been
Granted in what he ordaineth?

Praise to the Lord, who doth prosper
thy work and defend thee;
Surely his goodness
and mercy shall daily attend thee:
Ponder anew
What the Almighty can do,
If to the end he befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord!
O let all that is in me adore him!
All that hath life and breath,
come now with praises before him! 
Let the Amen
Sound from his people again:
Gladly for ay we adore him.

Joachim Neander (1650-80) 
trans Catherine Winkworth (1827-78) CCLI #5638

Who put the colours in the rainbow?
Who put the salt into the sea?
Who put the cold into the snowflake?
Who made you and me?
Who put the hump upon the camel?
Who put the neck on the giraffe?
Who put the tail upon the monkey?
Who made hyenas laugh?
Who made whales and snails and quails?
Who made hogs and dogs and frogs?
Who made bats and rats and cats?
Who made everything?

Who put the gold into the sunshine?
Who put the sparkle in the stars?
Who put the silver in the moonlight?
Who made Earth and Mars?
Who put the scent into the roses?
Who taught the honey bee to dance?
Who put the tree inside the acorn?
It surely can't be chance!
Who made seas and leaves and trees?
Who made snow and winds that blow?
Who made streams and rivers flow?
God made all of these!


 Joseph Arthur Paul Booth
© 2005 CopyCare CCLI #5638


Encouragement

Mark Jones has written this poem

How long ‘till I can go out, there’s nowhere safe to go, I’m all shut in?
My child enter your inner room, safety lives there it is filled with all your needs.

How long before this ends, hurry up, to which my life can return to the freedom it had?
My child be patient, a fruit of the spirit is self-control, wait on God.

How long, I’m restless, can’t sleep, I feel tormented by all this grief?
My child lay your head at the foot of the gate.

How long will it be when I can hold and kiss my children, my grandchildren, my friends, my loved ones?
My child I hear your pleas, rely on me, I will fulfil them.

How long must I wait?
Hush my child hush, trust in God’s grace.


Prayers

We continue to pray for our National leaders as they chart a course out of the current pandemic situation.

We also pray for the ongoing discussions with the European Union about our future relationship with them following Brexit.

We remember our local politicians as they grapple with the problems of stretched budgets and shortage of funds.

We reflect on the racial tensions we have seen across the world in recent days and pray that God will direct us along the right paths and bring peace, harmony and love to our world. 

Our prayers are taken from the Church of Scotland Book of Common Order

For Leaders in our Communities

God of all life,
you call us to live in community
and teach us to care for one another
after the pattern
of Jesus Christ your Son our Lord.
We pray for those whose position and authority
affect the lives of others.
Inspire them with a vision
of the community as it might be,
where love of neighbour
and concern for one another
drive out discontent and strife, anxiety and fear.
Help us all to work together
with one heart and will,
with sympathy and understanding,
to serve the common good,
to minister to people in trouble and despair,
and to multiply true happiness among us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

For Racial Harmony

God and Father of all,
in your love
you made all the nations of the world
to be a family,
and your Son taught us to love one another.
Yet our world is riven apart
with prejudice, arrogance, and pride.
Help the different races
to love and understand one another better.
Increase among us sympathy,
tolerance, and goodwill,
that we may learn to appreciate the gifts
that other races bring to us,
and to see in all people
our brothers and sisters for whom Christ died.
Save us from jealousy, hatred, and fear,
and help us to live together
as members of one family at home in the world,
sons and daughters of one Father
who live in the liberty of the children of God;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Requests for prayer

We have put some “Try Praying” booklets in a box attached to the front gate of RRBC.  Please pray for people who take them, that they would read them and be stirred to pray.

Please continue to pray for Brian Smart who has Pneumonia and for Annie’s Granddaughter Rachel who is in hospital as I write this.