Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 15

Chapter 15

A question for you, why did the chicken cross the road?  You probably gave the usual answer – to get to the other side.  Alright why did a chicken in Great Oxendon immediately turn around and re-cross the road back to the first side?  Possibly it didn’t like the other side when it got there, yet this chicken’s actions resembled those of a protestor crossing the road to stop the traffic.  We were on our way back to Desborough and Phil had to do an emergency stop (fortunately there was no one behind him) to avoid hitting the chicken.  It crossed over and immediately turned around and headed back in front of our car before we could proceed.  A second car came the other way and likewise had to stop.  At this point the chicken did another U-turn and crossed again in front of both cars.  Either it couldn’t decide which side it preferred or else this was the chicken’s protest at traffic on the road.  The other car managed to escape while the chicken’s back was turned, but as soon as we started to move the chicken jumped in front of our car to cross yet again.  We stopped again, and then……you’ve guessed it, the protest continued with another U-turn to go back to the other side.  Finally, it paused long enough on the path for us to set off without hitting it.  Was it protesting at the disturbance of the peace and quiet of lockdown by cars?  Or had it had enough of chicken jokes and wanted to confuse the comics?  We will never know what was going on inside the chicken’s head.

But it made me wonder how we feel as we come out of this time of lockdown.  Do you look at life differently now?  Will things be better on the other side of lockdown?  Though, unlike the chicken, we cannot cross back to where we were before.  What things do you not want to lose?  Are you ready, perhaps not to protest, but at least to make an effort to keep the benefits?  As we go forward let us put our trust in God who has got the whole wide world in His hands, and that includes you and me.

Encouragement (from Annie) especially if you have grey hair!  Try Isaiah 46 v.3,4


Reflection

from Laura based on Psalm 63 and Isaiah 49 v.14-16

Symbols of our Faith – Hands

From the start of this lockdown hands have been much mentioned in instructions.  Wash your hands, take care of your hands, do wash your hands, be careful what you touch, remember to wash your hands, wear protective clothing and, oh yes, don’t forget to wash your hands!  How did you count the suggested 20 seconds of hand washing?  Singing happy birthday or saying the Lord’s prayer twice (and not too quickly).  Hand washing will never be the same, in fact how we use our hands will have changed.  Will shaking hands be a rarity, will people move away from us to avoid contact and will we be wary of touching anything someone else has touched?  We use our hands to touch, touch is especially important to humans, it conveys acceptance, concern and that the other person matters.  In the 1970’s there was an experiment in a library based on the librarian at the desk who was stamping books out.  For one group of users the librarian briefly touched each person’s hand as they passed the book over, but with another group all contact was avoided.  The first group, whose hands were touched (even if they didn’t notice), rated their experience as more positive than the other group.  How would you feel if no one touched you?  If people avoided you, or worse treated you as less than human and would not allow you into any town or village because you had a nasty disease.  This is how people with leprosy in the time of Jesus were treated, touching lepers would supposedly make you unclean religiously and there was a huge fear of catching the disease.  In Luke chapter 5 v.12-16 we read of Jesus touching one of these lepers and healing him.  Instead of Jesus being made unclean through touching, the leper was made clean and whole through the touch of Jesus.  In the gospels many stories tell of Jesus touching someone to heal them.  We often pray for God to touch a person’s life, to bring healing or wholeness. 

Psalm 63 has the note that David wrote this psalm when he was in the desert.  David had fled for safety and was in the middle of a lockdown.  He expresses a deep longing for God.  He remembers God’s power and glory in the past and praises God.  In verse 4 David speaks of lifting up his hands in God’s name, which means coming to God in worship.  In verse 8 the Psalmist says, “My soul clings to you and your right hand upholds me.”  The right hand of God expresses the idea of God’s power and strength, here David trusts in God sustaining and protecting him in a difficult situation.  The idea of clinging and being held reminds me of Spurgeon College’s motto “Et Teneo et Tenore” “I hold and am held” as shown in part of the beautiful Stained-Glass window at the college. 

 

We cling onto God, onto the cross and all that was achieved by Jesus for salvation.  But more importantly God holds onto us.  As in the next photo shows both people are holding onto each other, if one lets go, the other person still has hold and the link is not broken.  With God his grip is strong and permanent, even if our grip weakens he still has us in His hands. 

In Isaiah chapter 49 v.14 Israel is in lockdown in exile in Babylon complaining that God has forgotten them, they feel deserted by the Lord.   Verse16 speaks of God having engraved us on the palms of his hands.  This carried the idea of our names being written on God’s hands permanently, that God will never forget us. 

God holds onto you, God has not forgotten you and lastly, you and I are God’s hands in the world.  As the prayer of St Teresa of Avila puts it

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours.  Yours are the eyes through which the compassion of Christ must look out on the world.  Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good.  Yours are the hands with which He is to bless His people.” 

Let us respond with the words from the hymn “Take my life and let it be” to ask God to “Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of thy love”

In next week’s Reflection we will be thinking about the symbol of The Cross, the passage is Romans 5 v.1-11


Songs for Sunday

1.  Father, I place into your hands
the things that I can’t do.
Father, I place into Your hands
the times that I’ve been through.
Father, I place into Your hands
the way that I should go,
for I know I always can trust You.

2.  Father, I place into Your hands
my friends and family.
Father, I place into Your hands
the things that trouble me.
Father, I place into Your hands
the person I would be,
for I know I always can trust You.

3.  Father, we love to seek Your face,
we love to hear Your voice.
Father, we love to sing Your praise,
and in Your name rejoice.
Father, we love to walk with You
and in Your presence rest,
for we know we always can trust You.

4.  Father, I want to be with You
and do the things You do.
Father, I want to speak the words
that You are speaking too.
Father, I want to love the ones
that You will draw to You,
for I know that I am one with You.

Jenny Hewer © ThankYou Music CCLI #5638

Safe in the Father’s hands,
we are safe in the Father’s hands.
There may be things we don’t understand,
we are safe in the Father’s hands.

1.  So many things we’ll never learn,
no matter how hard we try.
Though we may feel small the Maker of all
watches with loving eyes.
Safe in the Father’s hands, …

2.  Trusting in God, we can be sure
no matter where life may lead,
His promises told, He’s in control
He’s ev’rything we need. 
Safe in the Father’s hands, …

Paul Field © 1995 Windswept Pacific Music CCLI #5638


Bible Study

On Wednesday 1st 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 continuing a gentle stroll through Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

The passage is Philippians 4 v.10-23,

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

Head/heart/hand pattern

  1. Read passage twice
  2. Then ask yourself some HEAD questions, as though you were reading it for the first time.  Why?  What for?  How?  What on earth is this?
  3. Follow this with a HEART question.  What is at the heart of the passage?  What’s the central point?
  4. And the HAND.  What are we going to do about this heart of the matter, this central point?  What has it got to do with me?  Are there any other actions required?

Prayers

As I think about our prayers, on Tuesday morning (23rd), there are several items in the news.

  • The attack at Forbury Gardens in Reading 
  • News about the rise of children in care and the decline in people coming forward as foster families
  • The expected lifting of more lockdown restrictions

We end with a prayer that is often used at the
conclusion of a Communion service
.

Thinking of the terrorism attack in Reading

We pray dear Lord, for all those who have been affected by the recent attack 
For those killed, for their families and many friends surround them with love in their grief.   
For the emergency services – we give thanks for those who run to help others.
For those who perpetrate these terrible crimes – that they would be overcome by peace.  Amen

Thinking of children in care, we use this prayer from The Children’s Society

Welcoming God, our true home is with you,
We pray for all who don’t feel included, those who don’t feel they fit in,
may they know that there is always a place for them with you.
We pray for those campaigning for the needs of children and young people.
For The Children’s Society and all other charities who are struggling at this time to keep their vital work going.
We ask that those of us who have authority and control over our lives would use that power for good, to always remember the children and be a voice for the voiceless.  Amen

As lockdown restrictions are eased,

Dear Lord, who alone oversees all things, we pray that this virus would be defeated, and things would begin to return to normal.  Grant wisdom to our government as they map a way out of the lockdown.  We pray for our church, for Laura as our minister and the deacons, for the Central Baptist Association and the Baptist Union that they would have wisdom deciding when we can return to worshiping together.  We ask this in your name, Amen

Lord Jesus Christ,
you have put your life into our hands,
now we put our lives into yours.
Take us, renew and remake us.
What we have been is past
what we shall be, through you,
still awaits us.
Lead us on.
Take us with you.  Amen


STOP PRESS

The government has announced today that churches will be able to reopen for services in July.
More details next week, but we are planning to have a shorter style service in the church on
Sunday 5th July at 10.45 am