Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 18

Chapter 18

Number 18 already!  Where has the time gone?  How are you doing?  Phillip and I finally managed to get away for a few days on a canal boat last week, one result of this is that people are kindly asking us “Have you had a good time”? - which we have!  It made me wonder how many questions do we each ask in a day?  I’ve already asked you 3 so far in this introduction and mentioned another one. 

Questions are vital in our lives; we never stop learning and to keep learning we need to keep asking questions.  The deacons and I spent time asking questions about the risks involved before opening the building for services.  We will continue to ask questions in order to keep safe those who physically come and to ensure that those who join us in their own homes are included as much as possible.  We are all part of RRBC and as we think about the way forward, we ask God for wisdom. 

James 1 v.5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you”.

As children ask questions of their parents we are encouraged to ask questions of God, we can bring even our fears and doubts to our heavenly Father knowing He hears us and that He will answer in His way and in His time.  He is the only one with all the answers.


Next week we will begin looking at Biblical situations of lockdown starting with
Joseph in Genesis 50 v.15-21 - “God’s plans through lockdown”


Reflection

From Phillip Based on Matthew 26 v.17-30

Symbols of our Faith – Bread and Wine

What wonderful symbols Jesus gave us when he shared his last supper with the disciples.  The bread and wine are not just things we think about, but symbols we appreciate with all our senses.  We hear what it means, we see the bread and wine, we touch them and then smell and taste them as they are absorbed into our body. 

We know the details of the last supper because we have five versions of how it took place, made up of the four gospels and Paul's account in 1 Corinthians.  Five accounts of the same event, but each giving a slightly different perspective from the neighbouring book. 

We know from Luke's gospel that Jesus declared that he eagerly desired to celebrate the Passover with his disciples.  Luke and Mark tell us about the elaborate arrangements that were made to find the room large enough for the meal to take place in.  Everybody speaks about the Passover meal, but apart from wine and bread nobody tells us what other dishes were present, although John tells us that the bread was dipped in something.  It is only in Paul's letter to the Corinthians that Jesus is reported as saying of the wine, “do this in remembrance of me” (1Cor 11 v25) and the phrase that is often said during Communion, about the body being “broken for you”, is not found in any scripture.

Now can you see what I have just done?  I have taken the familiar and said where it has come from, yet none of it comes from Matthew’s gospel which is why I’ve chosen to look and consider what Matthew puts in.

Forget any images of the last supper that you have from well-known paintings of the disciples sitting down to eat.  Matthew tells us that when evening came Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve (v20).  They were reclining, laid back on cushions around a low table, using their left arm for support they would have used their right hand to eat with.  Matthew has told us that detail, because traditionally the Passover was eaten standing up.  The symbolism of the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, was that it commemorated the children of Israel leaving Egypt in a hurry.  Hence there was no time to make proper bread, or to sit and eat.  Some things in the tradition, like the unleavened bread, had stayed but other things like standing to eat had largely disappeared from society. 

I think Matthew wants to highlight the reclining, because it emphasises that in leisurely sharing a meal there is a bond of friendship.  We are invited to share an intimate meal with the Lord as we come to his table.  There might not be much on offer to physically sustain us, but the Lord invites us to fellowship with him and longs for the intimate bond that eating together signifies. 

Invited to his table, we come together as guests in remembrance of Jesus, which is what Luke and Paul say in their accounts, but I appreciate the words Matthew uses that we “take and eat” (v26), because it implies that we have to do something to be part of it.  It is reminiscent of John's gospel where Jesus says, "I am the living bread that has come down from heaven; if anyone eats this bread, he will live for ever” (John 6 v51).  It is something that we have to do; we eat the bread so that it becomes part of us.  Similarly, with the cup the command is to “drink from it” (v27).  The cup symbolises the covenant and we have to enter into it.  To Matthew this is not a new covenant, but what the whole of scripture and history has pointed towards.  This is the ultimate covenant and Matthew uniquely spells it out, this is my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins (v 28). 

This is the gospel, the good news and I think for Matthew this is one of the high points of his book, that Jesus our Lord, invites us to a meal.  He reclines with us and wants us to be part of his company.  Jesus is giving himself like the bread and the wine so that we can enter into the covenant and one day, there is the promise that we will drink it new with the Lord in his Father's kingdom.


Songs for Sunday

1.  Here is bread, here is wine,
Christ is with us – He is with us;
break the bread, drink the wine –
Christ is with us here.

2.  Here is grace, here is peace,
Christ is with us – He is with us;
know His grace, find His peace –
feast on Jesus here.

In this bread there is healing,
in this cup there’s life forever;
in this moment, by the Spirit
Christ is with us here.

3.  Here we are, joined in one,
Christ is with us – He is with us;
We’ll proclaim, ‘til He comes –
Jesus crucified.

Graham Kendrick
©1991 Make Way Music CCLI #5638

1.  Lord Jesus Christ,
You have come to us,
You are one with us,
Mary’s Son.

Cleansing our souls from all their sin,
Pouring your love and goodness in;
Jesus, our love for you we sing,
Living Lord.

2.  Lord Jesus Christ,
Now and every day
Teach us how to pray,
Son of God.
You have commanded us to do
This in remembrance, Lord of you:
Into our lives your power breaks through
Living Lord.

3.  Lord Jesus Christ,
You have come to us,
Born as one with us,
Mary’s Son.
Led out to die on Calvary,
Risen from death to set us free,
Loving Lord Jesus, help us see
You are Lord.

4.  Lord Jesus Christ,
I would come to you,
Live my life for you,
Son of God.
All your commands I know are true,
Your many gifts will make me new,
Into my life your power breaks through,
Living Lord.

Patrick Appleford
© 1960 Josef Weinberger Ltd CCLI #5638


Prayers

God calls us together to work
collaboratively in the building of his kingdom, and so we pray:
Offering ourselves, and bringing
the depth of our care for others and
the life of the world.
Lord, we offer ourselves to you

May your kingdom come in our lives
and in the life of the world.

Father almighty, creator of the universe, we pray for the world around us.  Praise you for its beauty but forgive us for the damage we have done.  Father we pray for you to bring healing to our environment; to bring peace where there is conflict; and for racial and social justice to be seen throughout the world. 

May your kingdom come in our lives
and in the life of the world.

Lord Jesus Christ, praise you for all you achieved through the cross, the resurrection and ascension.  We pray you would give wisdom to those in authority and that you would guide decisions made.
We pray for your blessing on those working for the good of others in so many ways in our land.  We lift to you all who work in the NHS, key workers, and all those on whom we rely. 

May your kingdom come in our lives
and the life of the world.

Holy Spirit we pray that you would inspire our church community as we seek new ways of serving you in these times.  Guide us in our decisions that your will would be done, and your kingdom built up.

May your kingdom come in our lives
and in the life of the world.

Into your hands O God, we lift our families, friends, and neighbours.  We ask for a touch of you love and healing on those who are ill and for all those struggling financially or emotionally at this time. 
We pray for those who are grieving and for those who are self-isolating.  May they know your presence and grace with them. 

May your kingdom come in our lives
and in the life of the world.

Lord, may our lives reflect our relationship
with you that together we may seek the
coming of your kingdom.  Amen


Bible Study

On Wednesday 22nd 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 Proverbs 3 v.1-12 “Wisdom in waiting”.

If you have a phone and want to join in the Bible Study - then you can. 

  • You ring either of these phone numbers, 0131 460 1196 or 0203 481 5237
  • 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. What words of wisdom about life in lockdown would you want to pass on to the next generation?
  2. Read Proverbs 3 v.1-12, in these verses a loving Dad is sharing basic wisdom for living
    with his son.  What response do you have to the way the father addresses his son?
  3. Which of these words of advice catch your eye and what are the benefits in following
    this piece of wisdom?
  4. Are any of the instructions difficult for you to follow?  If so why?
  5. How might the wisdom in this passage help you in a time of waiting?
  6. Why not focus on one or two of these instructions over the next few days
    and try to follow the advice?

Communion

Service at church on Sunday 19th will include communion (bread and wine will be provided and handed round with the utmost care). 

If you are doing the service at home, you can still join us in your imagination even though you cannot see us.  I invite you to take a piece of bread (or even a biscuit or wafer) and a drink (water or juice) and say the service on the enclosed sheet. 

Ephesians 3:20-21 (ANIV)   

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.


Communion service

(Adapted material from “The Iona Abbey Worship Book” and “Present on Earth” and “Wee worship book”.  Used with permission, (www.ionabooks.com).  Also material from www.methodist.org.uk/thykingdomcome.

Call to worship

We come together though we are in separate places
We come to together to open ourselves to God and to each other
We come together to seek God’s will for us and to pray for the coming of God’s kingdom
We come together to worship God.

Be present here, renew us here,
establish Your Kingdom in our midst.

Invitation

Jesus was always the guest

In the home of Peter and Jairus, Martha and Mary,
he was always the guest.

At the meal tables of the wealthy where he spoke up for the poor,
he was always the guest.

But here, at this table, he is the host.

Those who wish to serve him
must first be served by him,

Those who want to follow him
must first be fed by him,

Those who would wash his feet
must first let him make them clean.

For this is the table where God intends
us to be nourished;

This is the time when Christ can make us new.

Jesus Christ, who has sat at our tables,
now invites us to be guests at his.

The Story

The apostle Paul tells us of the institution of the Lord’s Supper:

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed
took a loaf of bread,
and when he had given thanks,
he broke it and said,
‘This is my body that is for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.’
In the same way he took the cup also,
after supper, saying,
‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.’

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

1 Corinthians 11.23–26

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, present with us now,
for all that you have done and all that you have promised, what have we to offer?
Our hands are empty, our hearts are sometimes full of wrong things.  We are not fit to gather up the crumbs from under your table.
But with you is mercy and the power to change us.

So as we do in this place what you did in an upstairs room, send down your Holy Spirit on us, healing, forgiving and making us whole; and that we may become, for you, your body, loving and caring in the world until your kingdom comes.  

Amen.

The Sharing

To his followers in every age, Jesus gave an example and command rooted in the experience he shared with his disciples in an upstairs room in Jerusalem.

On the night on which he was betrayed, and as they were sitting at a meal,
Jesus took a piece of bread and broke it. 
He gave it to the disciples saying,
‘This is my body.  It is given for you.  Do this to remember me.’
So now we do as Jesus did.  With thanksgiving we eat this bread in remembrance that Christ died for us.

Later after they had eaten, he took a cup of wine and said, ‘This cup is the new relationship with God made possible because of my death.  Drink this all of you to remember me.’ 
We drink in gratitude, remembering that Christ’s blood was shed for us.

Closing Prayer And Grace

Together we are sharers in God’s kingdom,
Together we are builders of God’s kingdom.
May all that we say, and do, and are,
be grounded in God’s love.

We say together:
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the
Holy Spirit be with us all.

Amen.