Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 10

Rocky Road Epistle for Sunday 24th May 2020

Chapter 10

One question I keep asking or hearing is “How Long?”

  • How long will this epistle from your minister eventually be!  Ten chapters and still going! How long before we can meet again as a fellowship?
  • How long before we can gather together with our families and friends?
  • How long before social distancing can be lifted?

At the moment I do not know the answers, but we must keep praying and looking to God.

Pam mentioned a story that Thora Hird once told on “Praise Be” on BBC1. It was about a little girl saying her prayers: “God bless Mummy, God bless Daddy, God bless my brother Tommy, God bless Granny - and God look after yourself, ‘cos if anything happens to you, we’ve had it!”

From Ascension Day (Thursday 21st May) to Pentecost (Sunday 31st May) Churches Together challenge Christians to pray for 5 friends who do not yet know Jesus as Lord and Saviour.  Choose five people you will pray for over these 10 days and write their names down onto a list.  If you’re not sure who to pray for, ask God to guide you as you choose.  Once you have settled on 5 names, commit to praying for them regularly, one possible prayer is the following:

Loving Father,
in the face of Jesus Christ
your light and glory have blazed forth.
Send your Holy Spirit
that I may share with my friends [here, name your friends]
the life of your Son and your love for all.
Strengthen me as a witness to that love
as I pledge to pray for them,
for your name’s sake.  Amen.


Finance

Thanks to our treasurer John Farey who is keeping an eye on this for us.  Some of you have asked us about RRBC’s situation.  We are fine at the moment; I do not need to be furloughed!  But our thanks go to those of you who donate regularly through your bank.  I know some of you use the envelopes which are likely to be piling up, if you want to send a cheque for the contents plus the envelopes themselves to John he is happy to deal with them.  We have also had several donations to cover the postage costs of sending out the chapter epistles – many thanks to those of you who have given money for this.

Passage for next week’s reflection is Acts 2 v.1-13


Reflection from Laura

Based on the passage for this week Acts 1 v.1-11

The question “How Long?” is very similar to one that children ask on a journey, and you may well have asked yourself; “are we nearly there yet?”  We like to know when we will arrive and when things will be sorted out.  The question “How Long?” is found in the Bible, particularly in the Psalms.  For example

How long, O Lord?  Will you forget me for ever?  How long will you hide your face from me?  (Psalm 13 v.1)

Or

Relent, O Lord!  How long will it be?  Have compassion on your servants.  Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (Psalm 90 v.13-14)

The first chapter in the book of Acts starts with a brief recap of Luke’s gospel about Jesus, his life on earth, his death and resurrection.  It then goes on to the account of the Holy Spirit coming, the church being born and spreading out from Jerusalem.  In today’s reading we have the question “How Long?”, though not in the same words.  Jesus had been telling His disciples to wait in Jerusalem and that, in a few days’ time, they would receive the promised Holy Spirit.  The disciples asked Jesus “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1 v.6).  In other words, “How Long” until your Kingdom comes on earth?  Are we nearly there yet?  Will you establish your Kingdom when the Spirit comes upon us? 

Jesus does not give a time scale, instead he pointed out that it was not the disciples’ problem (v.7).  They did not need to know as all times and dates are in the hands of God the Father.  In Mark’s gospel we read these words of Jesus (speaking about his second coming to earth as King)

“No-one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  Be on guard! Be alert!  You do not know when that time will come.  It's like a man going away:  he leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.  (Mark 13 v.32-34). 

Matthew, in his gospel, has this comment

"Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time?  It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.  (Matthew 24 v.45-46). 

In our passage Jesus told the disciples to trust in God for the future and that until he returned, they had work to do in the present.  The promised Holy Spirit would come and give them the power to spread the gospel throughout the world. 

As Jesus ascended into heaven, he was taken up before their eyes (v.9) and a cloud hid him from their sight.  They would not physically see Jesus again while they lived on earth.  No wonder they stood looking upward, possibly trying to catch one more glimpse or perhaps feeling left on their own or just wondering if this really was the end of one chapter and the start of the next.  Two angels appeared with a question for the disciples “Why are you standing here looking into the sky?” (v.11).  The angels confirmed that one day Jesus will return.  The disciples could not just stand around waiting, they had work to do. 

Through their work, their praying, their witnessing and showing God’s love to the world you and I are now disciples.  We have come to know and to serve the living God, we know the Father’s love, the Son’s saving mercy and the Spirit’s enabling and equipping.  We have work to do - called to be witnesses just as the first disciples were. 

There is a danger that we get stuck in worrying about “How Long Lord?”.  We need to move onto a better question, something like “here I am Lord, what do you want me to pray and do?”  I’m encouraged by these words of Hudson Taylor that

“God’s work, done in God’s way, will never lack God’s supplies.”


Prayers

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Ascension

Risen and ascended Lord,
we would have lingered on the Mountain,
clung to you in the Easter garden,
been saddened by your Emmaus departure,
and begged the Ascension skies never to close.

But you have taught us deeper truth:
For you are not absent, even in departure.
We give thanks
that mountain-top resources
lie waiting in the valley,
that you are as near in the busy streets
as in the quiet garden,
that you are the guest at every meal,
and heaven has come down to earth,
as one day earth may be as heaven.
Risen and ascended Lord,
travel with us.  Amen

A prayer for the global pandemic from the Christian Aid Website

‘Love…bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends.’(1 Corinthians 13:7-8)
 

Loving God,
strengthen our innermost being
with your love that bears all things
even the weight of this global pandemic
even the long haul of watching for symptoms
of patiently waiting for this to pass
watching and waiting,
keeping our gaze fixed on you,
and looking out for our neighbours
near and far.

Instil in our shaken souls
the belief and hope that all things
are possible with your creative love
for strangers to become friends
for science to source solutions
for resources to be generously shared
so everyone, everywhere, may have what they need
for your perfect love that knows no borders
may cast out any fear and selfishness that divides.

May your love that never ends
be our comfort, strength and guide
for the wellbeing of all and
the glory of God.
Amen.


Songs for Sunday

Rejoice! the Lord is King.
Your Lord and King adore;
Mortals, give thanks and sing,
And triumph evermore.

Lift up your heart, lift up your voice. 
Rejoice; again I say, rejoice!

Jesus the Saviour reigns,
The God of truth and love;
When He had purged our stains,
He took His seat above.
Lift up your heart, …

His kingdom cannot fail:
He rules o'er earth and heaven;
The keys of death and hell
Are to our Jesus given.
Lift up your heart, …

He sits at God's right hand
Till all His foes submit, 
And bow to His command
And fall before His feet.
Lift up your heart, …

5) Rejoice in glorious hope.
Jesus the judge shall come, 
And take His servants up
To their eternal home.

We soon shall hear the archangel's voice;
God's trumpet shall sound out, Rejoice!

Charles Wesley © CCLI #5638

Our eyes have seen the glory
of our Saviour, Christ the Lord
He is seated at His Father's side
in love and full accord;
from there upon the waiting church
His Spirit is out-poured,
all hail, ascended King!

Glory, glory, hallelujah,
glory, glory, hallelujah,
glory, glory, hallelujah,
all hail, ascended King!

He came to earth at Christmas
and was made a man like us;
He taught, He healed, He suffered —
and they nailed Him to the cross;
He rose again on Easter Day —
our Lord victorious,
all hail, ascended King!
Glory, glory ...

The good news of His kingdom
must be preached to every shore,
the news of peace and pardon,
and the end of strife and war;
the secret of His kingdom
is to serve Him evermore,
all hail, ascended King!
Glory, glory ...

His kingdom is a family
of folk of every race,
they live their lives in harmony,
enabled by His grace;
they follow His example
till they see Him face to face,
all hail, ascended King!
Glory, glory ...

Roland Meredith © CCLI #5638


Reminders

  • On a Sunday morning, around 10.45am, take time to pray, read the week’s passage & reflection and even sing the hymn. Around 11am say the Lord’s Prayer.
  • Or if you would like to, on the RRBC website there is now a short audio service to listen to on a Sunday morning, and join in the songs.
  • On a weekday morning around 10am pause to pray for a few minutes, use the prayer diary or the directory to pray for a few people from our fellowship as well those you are concerned for. Again, finish that session with the Lord’s prayer
  • Thursday 21st May, Communion Service for Ascension Day at 7.30pm. Join the Zoom meeting, details sent last week. I invite you to take a piece of bread (or even a biscuit or wafer) and a drink (water or juice) and then either say the service that was sent last week.

Bible Study on Wednesday May 27th 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 taking a gentle stroll through Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

The passage for 27th May is Philippians 2 v.12-18, I am aware that some of you will receive this epistle after that date, but you can still look at the passage yourself. 

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 ask yourself the following?

4 whats

  1. What is grabbing my attention?
  2. What can I see God doing?
  3. What do I need to do next?
  4. What do I need to embrace as part of my life?