Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 26

Welcome to the next chapter which comes with a reminder of an invite to come to RRBC this Saturday (12th) to help clean.  We are at church 10am to 12noon.  All welcome, we will be able to socially distance, to make things easier you may like to bring your own equipment!

As well as continuing with our creation theme under the heading of “Saying Yes to Life” we also celebrate Ability Sunday this week.  Ability Sunday is promoted by “Liveability” a disability charity that connects people with their communities.  They suggest the theme of pilgrimage with the comment that, “in a year of pandemic and lockdown, we are so aware of the journeys not made – whether commutes to work, visits to family or summer holidays.”  In exploring the many important features of pilgrimage two phrases caught my attention one was “the importance of packing light” and the other “travelling light”.

Both these phrases refer to the importance of not taking extra baggage on a journey that we don’t need, or to avoid dragging along heavy loads which slow us down.  This is true for our Spiritual journey too, the writer to the Hebrews encourages us to throw off things that hinder.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. 
   Hebrews 12 v.1

Travelling is easier if we are not burdened by things that weigh us down.  In our spiritual journey we can ask God to help us carry these things, as Jesus invites us to in these well-known words.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Matthew 11 v.28 (ANIV)

But just go back to those two phrases, light can also mean the opposite of dark.  They remind me of two important things.  Packing light can be read as taking light with you, ensuring that you travel with God.  Travelling light can be read as saying we are lights who travel, we should reflect the Light of Christ to all we meet on our journey.


Bible Study

There is no Bible Study on Wednesday 16th September,

We are not holding an online ZOOM Bible Study this week, so people have chance to access the Baptist Union Assembly which starts at 7pm on Youtube.

But for those of you who would like to spend time reflecting on a passage here are some questions based on the story of the disciples travelling on the Emmaus Road from the Liveability material for Ability Sunday.  The passage is Luke 24 v.13-35

  1. What are your favourite things to take with you on a journey? Or is there something you never leave the house without?

The story of the road to Emmaus is a study in changing direction.  In the space of one afternoon and evening, the two disciples were totally changed.  They went from sad to joyful.  From confused to convinced.  And they literally changed direction – heading back the way they came, at top speed!

  1. Have you ever had something happen to you that, in a short amount of time, totally turned your life around?
  2. How did we recognise Jesus as we travel through life?
  3. How might we change our daily lives to make more space for our journey with God?
  4. How might we change our church to remove barriers for people with disabilities, so they too can travel well?

Reflection

From Phillip based on Genesis 1 v 1-5

“Let there be light”

The opening verses of Genesis chapter 1 speak of a dark empty nothingness.  Whatever the literal meaning of this nothingness, it was into this that God spoke or rather that God spoke and continues speaking.  For all its wonderful richness, English is not able to convey the ongoing meaning behind the original Hebrew.  God’s word is not a once and for all event which then ceases.  Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg writes,

‘God’s voice in nature is ceaseless and enduring.  God’s speech is the invisible pulse which ceaselessly imparts vitality to all existence; it is the mute resonance, the silent song which is the essence of all consciousness.’  Because of this, ‘the refrain which opens each day of creation should not be translated as “God said”, but rather “God says”.  Were that voice, that sacred energy to cease, nothing could survive’.

Alongside water, created on the second day, light is the lifeforce of the world.  God separates the light from the darkness and declares that the light is good (v.4).

Light is a powerful symbol throughout the Bible, it is used to symbolise God and God’s presence.  The psalmist proclaims, ‘the Lord is my light and my salvation’ (Ps.  27 v.1).  God’s presence as light acts as guidance in the darkness to show his people the way and how to follow him.  This is perhaps seen most literally when the Israelites escaped from Egypt and were led through the wilderness; God went before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (Exodus 13 v.21– 22).  This remembrance of the escape from Egypt was celebrated by the Jews in the Festival of Tabernacles and one of the symbols used in the festival was to light a huge lamp in the temple that could be seen all over Jerusalem.  It was during such a festival and probably in the evening as the lamp was being lit, that Jesus declared “I am the light of the world” (John 8 v.12).

Think about it; Jesus is in the temple courts, next to a lamp that symbolised something from the past, a time when God visibly led the people by providing them with a light.  Next to this lamp, the brightest thing they could produce, was Jesus, promising that he would be a light, not just to the Jews, but to the world.  A startling thing to say and a significant place to say it in.

With all the lights we have in the world we hardly ever appreciate what physical darkness is.  I think the only times I have experienced it in recent years are when we have been away and staying in a cottage in the country; without streetlights and no other houses nearby, it really was dark.  I was fortunate to be in the south-west twenty-one years ago when we had the eclipse of the sun.  I did not see a total eclipse, but it was pretty near, and got dark very quickly, dark enough for the streetlights to come on, and cold enough to make us all shiver.  I was in a crowd of a few hundred people sat along a cliff top at the time, and the thing I remember most clearly was the cheer that went up when the sun reappeared from behind the moon.

Humans are not nocturnal creatures and we don’t like darkness.  We need light, physical light is good.  Jesus of course was talking, not about physical light, but about spiritual light.  Yet I want to say that just as we are programmed to dislike physical darkness, so we are not comfortable with spiritual darkness.  But with Jesus alongside, we need never be in the spiritual dark for Jesus’ promise is that those who follow him need never fear the dark or the unknown, for with Jesus alongside us we walk in the light of life.  As the psalm puts it,

Even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.                                              
(Psalm 139 v.12)

 

Next week in our reflection we are continuing the series on Creation “Saying Yes to Life”, theme is “Let the waters be separated” Genesis 1 v.6-8


Prayers

We give thanks to God for the places where we feel welcome.  For warm smiles, cups of tea, soft armchairs and time to relax. 

As we set out on our journey God travels with us

We give thanks for the people we journey with through life, for the ways they help us and challenge us, and for the good and the tough times we share. 

As we find the road is difficult God travels with us

We give thanks for the gifts that we bring, that we can share on the way.  That you have made us each with talents to be used and kindnesses to offer. 

As we share what we have been given God travels with us

We pray for disabled people, that an abundant welcome and radical inclusion would enable their full participation in church life. 

God, help me to notice when something is preventing my companion from experiencing a warm welcome.  Help me to act to make the path clear.

As we remove barriers along the way God travels with us

God, help me to have an open heart, to make space in the places where I am included so that others are included too.

As we share our food and friendship God travels with us

God, help me when I try to journey alone, to receive with joy the ministry of others.  Help our church to become a place where disabled people can participate fully.

As we recognise your presence in each person we meet, and welcome every gift that is shared.

God travels with us, Amen


Songs for Sunday

  1. Lord, the light of Your love is shining,
    in the midst of the darkness, shining.
    Jesus, Light of the world, shine upon us;
    set us free by the truth You now bring us.
    shine on me, shine on me!

Shine, Jesus, shine;
fill this land with the Father's glory;
blaze, Spirit, blaze,
set our hearts on fire.
Flow, river, flow,
flood the nations with grace and mercy;
send forth Your Word, Lord,
and let there be light!

2. Lord, I come to Your awesome presence,
from the shadows into Your radiance;
by the blood I may enter Your brightness:
search me, try me, consume all my darkness. 
shine on me, shine on me.
Shine, Jesus, shine; ...

  1. As we gaze on Your kingly brightness
    so our faces display Your likeness,
    ever changing from glory to glory,
    mirrored here, may our lives tell Your story. 
    shine on me, shine on me.
    Shine, Jesus, shine; ...

Graham Kendrick
© 1987 Make way Music, CCLI #5638

1. Thou, whose almighty word
chaos and darkness heard,
and took their flight;
hear us, we humbly pray,
and where the gospel-day
sheds not its glorious ray,
let there be light!

2.   Thou, who didst come to bring,
on Thy redeeming wing,
healing and sight;
health to the sick in mind,
sight to the inly blind,
O now to all mankind
let there be light!

3.   Spirit of truth and love,
Life-giving, holy Dove,
speed forth Thy flight;
move on the water’s face,
bearing the lamp of grace,
and in earth’s darkest place
let there be light!

4.   Blessed and holy Three,
glorious Trinity,
wisdom, love, might;
boundless as ocean’s tide,
rolling in fullest pride,
through the earth, far and wide
let there be light!

John Marriott (1780-1825)

 


Dates

Deacons’ meeting

Monday 14th September 10.30am.

BU Assembly

Wednesday 16th September 7pm

For those with an Internet connection there will be an opportunity to hear about and pray for the work of Baptists Together.  It will include the Annual Report for 2019 and provide updates on our work so far in 2020 and plans for the future.  To watch the event it will be streamed on this YouTube page.

Church meeting and discussion

Sunday 27th September, following the service.  There has been much happening in the last 5 months and we need to plan the way forward for RRBC.  Including reviewing how we do the morning service.

Tearfund Big Quiz Night

Saturday 14th November, this is still going ahead though we are not quite sure what form it will take.

Prayer Requests

We are asked to pray for Nether Heyford Baptist Church who write, “We give thanks that we have resumed limited services and can enjoy sharing worship once again.  Please pray for those members and friends who still need to remain at home, and for all those suffering illness or bereavement in these difficult times.”