The Second Rocky Road Epistle - Chapter 3

What has brought you hope this last week?  Hopefully someone has smiled at you!  Have you been able to give someone else hope – have you passed on a smile?  Perhaps you find hope in the news that there is another likely vaccine for Covid-19.  There is now hope that in time this virus can be defeated.  Until then we wait in hope.

Next week marks the start of Advent, the lead up to Christmas, a time of waiting and preparation.  Waiting is made easier when we wait with hope.  This year things are quite different, and questions abound as to how Christmas will happen with the restrictions.  But Christmas celebrations and services will still happen somehow.  Advent brings hope as we think about our Lord coming into this world as a baby, our Lord Emmanuel, God with us.  Advent also reminds us that we live in the times between the first and second coming of Jesus, we are in a time of the world waiting for Jesus to come to fully establish his reign on earth.  Though, as with the vaccines, some people reject these hopes completely. 

We wait with hope for a vaccine to bring us life without restrictions, meanwhile we keep on living as best we can each day with the virus.  We wait with hope for Jesus to come again, meanwhile we keep on living for God as best we can, including encouraging each other with communication and messages: my thanks to Nick for his message which led to this intro.  We encourage each other to hold firm to the hope we have in God.  I know I am repeating this reference, but it seems so appropriate in these unusual times.

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  
And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds.

Hebrews 10:23-24 (ANIV)


Bible Study

Wednesday 25th November at 7.15pm for 7.30pm start,

Matthew 5 v.1-16

  1. Glance through (or if you have time read through) the chapters 5, 6 and 7. 
    They have been described as the job description for Christians. 
    Why do you think that is?  Anything surprising or challenging? 
  2. Who would the world describe as blessed?  When do you feel blessed?  5 v.3-12 are often called the Beatitudes and describe the qualities of people that Jesus says are blessed.  Can you think of any Biblical characters who fit the descriptions, or other people?
  3. These qualities should describe those who live as citizens of Jesus’ kingdom. 
    What would it feel like to be a member of a community of people who shared those qualities?  What would the worlds view be?
  4. Each beatitude comes with specific blessings.  In what ways could a community possessing such blessings be described as rich?
  5. Jesus compares his followers to salt and light (v.13-16).  What do these metaphors suggest about our role in society?

Reflection

From Laura on “Ministering in the margins” Luke 4 v.14-30.

If you hear the word margins what do you think of?  Most likely the margin line drawn down the edge of a page.  A line to keep things in order and well presented.  A place where people often write notes or where in some Bibles there are comments or references to help shed light on a verse.  I understand that in the 1611 King James Bible there were 7,342 margin notes.  Nowadays you can buy Bibles with extra wide margins where the advert says, “You'll find plenty of space to write down the things God shows you in the Scriptures”.  The margin is the area at the edge or limit or fringe of a page, it is for things not belonging in the main text and so can be ignored. 

Yet some margins cannot be ignored, for example “profit margins” or “margins of error”, but sadly in our world we have marginalised people, those ignored by society.  People who do not belong, whether through things that have happened to them or because they do not fit in with the “in” crowd.  Living on the margins implies being on the edge, not fully immersed in society, and not belonging to the mainstream.  Some people live on the margins of society by choice, but more often they have been forced there through circumstances and desire to belong again in society.

In the Bible passage we read of Jesus returning to his home area as a celebrity.  News had spread about him; he taught in the synagogues and so was welcomed by the powerful religious establishment.  He was praised, people were proud of their local boy doing good.  But our reading tells us how these attitudes changed. 

Jesus quoted words from Isaiah chapter 61, words which set out priorities for his ministry.  He was to take the good news to the poor, the prisoners, the blind and the oppressed - those on the margins.  In the gospels we read of him ministering to those whom society looked down on including tax collectors and Gentiles, he befriended people who were like lost sheep on the religious and social margins.  He showed that the wideness of God’s mercy gave offenders a second chance. 

In the passage we are told that after reading from the scroll Jesus sat down, he seems to be waiting for a response or a question.  But the only reaction he had was equivalent to a patronising comment of “nice sermon preacher!” and the reminder that “he’s the carpenter’s son”.  People were happy to listen but did not want to respond to what they heard.  No wonder that Jesus challenged them openly (v.23-28) which resulted in him being rejected and marginalised.  Jesus chose not to fit in with their model of a preacher or satisfy the crowd’s wants for nothing too demanding.  Jesus chose to live on the margins and work with those on the fringes of society.  

We are called to follow Jesus to take the good news to the world.  That means not being content with simply going through religious motions.  Instead we are called to be people who are a living reflection of Jesus, ministering in the margins, giving voice to those on the edges, offering hope to the oppressed, the rejected, and the victims of evil in our world.  In his book, “God at the Edge”  Rabbi Niles Goldstein speaks of the Jewish tradition as "a long history of people discovering God in unexpected, unusual, sometimes even uncomfortable contexts".  He describes that revelation on the margins of human experience is a central aspect in the Jewish and Christian traditions: Goldstein comments that "Judaism was born in the wilderness of the desert, at the foot of a mountain, as a people cringed in terror.  Christianity traces its origins to a man dying on a cross, crying out in doubt and despair."  

Notes in the margins of books shed light on the text.  In life the margins are places where God is at work.  In fact, as Kathy Galloway from the Iona Community comments, “God runs out to the margins to meet us.  The light shines from the margins, not the centre”.  In our diverse and pluralistic society, the Christian narrative is no longer the dominant view and the Church ministers on the margins.  We should not waste effort in trying to belong or fit in, but instead let us embrace being on the margins and serving a God who is “God of the margins”.

Next week we start Advent with the theme “Hope in the Margins”  Elizabeth & Zechariah


Songs for Sunday

1. God's Spirit is in my heart,
He has called me and set me apart,
This is what I have to do,
What I have to do.

He sent me to give
   the good news to the poor,
Tell prisoners that
   they are prisoners no more;
Tell blind people that they can see,
And set the down-trodden free,
And go tell everyone
The news that
   the kingdom of God has come,
And go tell everyone
The news that
   God's kingdom has come.

2. Just as the Father sent me
So I'm sending you out to be
My witness throughout the world,
The whole of the world.
            He sent me to give ...

3. Don't carry a load in your pack,
You don't need two shirts on your back;
A workman can earn his own keep,
Can earn his own keep.
            He sent me to give ...

4. Don't worry what you have to say,
Don't worry because on that day
God's Spirit will speak in your heart,
Will speak in your heart.
            He sent me to give ...

Alan Dale, New World
© 1967 OUP CCLI #5638

1. Beauty for brokenness,
hope for despair,
Lord, in Your suffering world
this is our prayer:
Bread for the children,
justice, joy, peace;
sunrise to sunset,
Your kingdom increase!

2. Shelter for fragile lives,
cures for their ills,
work for the craftsman,
trade for their skills;
land for the dispossessed,
rights for the weak,
voices to plead the cause
of those who can’t speak.

God of the poor,
friend of the weak,
give us compassion we pray:
Melt our cold hearts,
let tears fall like rain;
come, change our love
from a spark to a flame.

3. Refuge from cruel wars,
havens from fear,
cities for sanctuary,
freedoms to share;
peace to the killing-fields,
scorched earth to green,
Christ for the bitterness,
His cross for the pain.

4. Rest for the ravaged earth,
oceans and streams
plundered and poisoned—
our future, our dreams.
Lord, end our madness,
carelessness, greed;
make us content with
the things that we need.
            God of the poor ...

5. Lighten our darkness,
breathe on this flame
until your justice
burns brightly again;
until the nations
learn of your ways,
seek your salvation
and bring You their praise.
            God of the poor ...

Graham Kendrick
©
1993 Make Way Music, CCLI #5638


Prayers

In the Lectionary this Sunday, the Sunday before Advent, is called “Christ the King” and that is reflected in the response in our prayers.  It is also called “Stir up Sunday”, the name coming from the collect for the day with which we conclude our prayers, and hence the reason it became the traditional day for making Christmas puddings!.

Please pray for Park Road Baptist Church in Rushden, and their minister Rev Dr Mark Duggan 

Please remember our “Mission of the month” - Tearfund.  

Also please pray for Vera Holland who is now in   Freestone Care Home Irthlingborough

The Church of Christ

Dear Lord, you are the strength of those that trust in you, and without you nothing is strong.  Give us courage to stand for the truth, courage to proclaim the gospel and courage to persevere in times of trouble. Give us minds to know what is good and true, wills to be faithful to you, and hearts to love and serve you.
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
in your mercy hear our prayer.

Creation, human society,
and those in authority

Dear Lord, you hold the universe within your hands and us within your care.  You touch the hearts of rich and poor alike.  The powerful and the powerless are all within your family.  We pray that all in authority may recognise afresh that yours is the final power.  Somewhere in the circle of our lives each of us holds influence and power: may pride be reduced, compassion increased and the good of all become our common aim.
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
in your mercy hear our prayer.

The local community

Dear Lord, we ask you to increase the sense of community that binds us to one another. Bless the work of our church so that it may give a sense of identity and create a place of belonging where people know that they are welcomed, remembered by name and valued as individuals as together we celebrate a faith that promises us that we are forgiven and gathered again into the life of the Risen Christ.
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
in your mercy hear our prayer.

For ourselves

Dear Lord, still the hurrying thoughts within our minds and hearts and let the peace and quiet of your presence take possession of us.  You know the hidden unconscious life within us, the forgotten memories of hurts and fears, the frustrated desires, the unresolved tensions and dilemmas.  Cleanse and sweeten the springs of our being so that freedom, life and love may flow into both our conscious and hidden life. Lord, we lie open before you, waiting for your healing, your peace and your word.
King of kings, and Lord of lords,
in your mercy hear our prayer.

The Collect for the Sunday before Advent

Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may of thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord.   Amen.


Information

Big Quiz £132 raised at RRBC and it was a fun evening,
We were part of 17,500 people and 481 churches who took part

Listening to a recording of an audio service

If you have internet, then go to our website (www.RRBC.org.uk) where you will find a recording under the audio files.

If you are not on internet, we have now paid to have a “Dial-a-Service” facility.  If you ring 01536 909787 you will be able to listen to a recording of the service on your telephone. 
The cost, around 30p a call, is covered by the church. 

Thinking about Christmas … Presuming we are back holding services in our building over Christmas, our carol service (possibly outside so we can sing) is on 20th December, then a short Christmas Day service (25th!).  Shall we have a service on Sunday 27th December – will you come?


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The Second Rocky Road Epistle - Chapter 2
The second letter of the second Epistle from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

The Second Rocky Road Epistle - Chapter 1
The first letter of the second Epistle from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 33
The thirty third letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 32
The thirty second letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 31
The thirty first letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 30
The thirtieth letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 29
The twenty ninth letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 28
The twenty eighth letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 27
The twenty seventh letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 26
The twenty sixth letter from Rev Laura Staves to the scattered flock of Rockingham Road Baptist Church, Kettering.

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