Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 12

Rocky Road Epistle for Sunday 7th June 2020

Chapter 12

Welcome to chapter 12 and let me start with a title from the “Christianity Today” magazine “When God closes a church door, he opens a browser window”. God provides all we need to grow whatever the circumstance.

On a recent bike ride Phil and I were thinking about the danger of wobbling on a bike.
So I have a question for you, “Do you wobble when you look back”? It can be a real danger on a bike if you look back for too long, you wobble and lose your balance. Some of you will now say of course not, I haven’t ridden a bike recently.

But it made me wonder if in life we look back for too long do we wobble? It is good to remember what God has done in our lives – his love and faithfulness to us. But if we look back and wish things were the same as 12 months ago. Or look back and think that the “good old days” were better than now or even look back through “rose tinted spectacles” wanting RRBC to be how it used to be, then we will wobble spiritually. If we look back with bitterness, regret or guilt, then those burdens will be like weighted bags on the handlebars and may also cause us to wobble.

Let us encourage each other to pray, to read the Bible and to keep moving forward spiritually with a balanced life. We don’t know when we will be able to start meeting together again in our buildings and what those gatherings will look like. But we trust God now for his provision.

To prevent wobble we should look up with amazement, look back with gratitude, look in with honesty, look around with love and look forward with expectancy.

Encouragement

These words from Philippians 4:6-7 are worth mulling over,

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the centre of your life.

 (from the Message Bible version)


Bible Study on Wednesday 10th June 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 continuing a gentle stroll through Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

The passage is Philippians 3 v.1-11,

If you have a phone and want to join in the Bible Study - then the details are the same as on last week’s epistle.

If you prefer to do this Bible Study at home, then try the following?

Head/Heart/Hand pattern

  1. Read the 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 is 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?

Reflection

From Phillip

Hebrews 6:18-20

Symbols of our Faith – the Anchor

As some of you know, Laura and I greatly enjoy having boating holidays on the canals. One of the things that you quickly learn on a canal boat, as you drift along at 4 m.p.h., is that time slows down. Another thing you soon discover is that it is impossible for a boat to stay still unless someone is on the bank holding a rope or you are tied up for the night. Out at sea, immobility is even harder to achieve and would be impossible without an anchor. The anchor is a wonderful symbol of something fast and unmoveable, indeed during the last few weeks of lockdown I have heard of the anchor mentioned in several different broadcasts. The anchor is often thought of as a Christian symbol, and although it is used in a few hymns and is the moto of the Boys’ Brigade, Hebrews 6 is the only place in the Bible where it is used as a symbol and what a wonderful verse, verse 19 is.
Hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.

  (King James version).

The anchor is linked to “hope”, yet hope can be a very lose idea. We hope that it will rain before long, the Queen hopes that “we will meet again” and I hope that we will be able to go away on holiday at some time in the future. But Christian hope is based not on wishes and dreams, but on the surety of God. The writer to the Hebrews, using rich Jewish imagery, wants his readers to be certain of the hope that God promises and uses as his witness the example of Abraham. God promised to Abraham (Genesis chapter 17) that he would be the father of many nations, even though at the time Abraham and his wife Sarah were both old and had no children of their own. When people make a solemn promise, they often swear it by an oath made in the name of someone greater than themselves. When God makes a promise, as he did to Abraham, he gives his word. Because God cannot break his word, his promises are likewise unchangeable. It is impossible for God to be false and therefore hope, hope in God, becomes the anchor for our soul, firm and secure.

A physical anchor on a ship is used to keep the vessel secure yet it is useless if it is left onboard. To keep a ship fast the anchor must leave the atmosphere and enter the watery depths and this is the idea behind the imagery of the “inner Sanctuary” in verses 19 and 20. In Jewish temple worship there was an area behind the altar, separated by a curtain, where once a year the high priest was allowed to enter. At the moment of Jesus’ death on the cross, the gospels record that the curtain of the temple was torn in two (Matthew 27:51). It signified that Jesus has entered the holy of holies on our behalf, so our anchor is no longer in this realm but in the next heavenly world. As Wendy Churchill puts it in the second verse of her hymn “Jesus is King”:-

We have a hope that is steadfast and certain,
Gone through the curtain and touching the throne;
We have a Priest who is there interceding,
Pouring His grace on our lives day by day.

Who would have thought a while ago that 2020 would be such a year? We live in strange times where regular events such as Sunday services in church, meeting together and holidays away have been put on hold. But some things remain the same, the constancy of God’s love and presence and the surety of the hope that in God all will be well. That is the anchor for our souls.

In Next week’s Reflection we will be thinking about
the symbol of the Rainbow, the passage is Genesis 8 v.15-22


Songs for Sunday

Two popular hymns this week both inspired by the passage in Hebrews chapter 6 but written nearly 100 years apart and on different sides of the Atlantic. Wendy Churchill, a British music teacher and worship leader, wrote her hymn, “Jesus is King” in 1981. Ninety-nine years earlier across the Atlantic Priscilla Owens wrote “Will your anchor hold” for her Sunday School class at Baltimore in Maryland. It is a hymn that has become well known today as the anthem of the Boys’ Brigade.

1) Jesus is king
and I will extol Him
,
Give Him the glory,
and honour His name;
He reigns on high,
enthroned in the heavens
Word of the Father,
exalted for us.

2) We have a hope
that is steadfast and certain,
Gone through the curtain
and touching the throne;
We have a Priest
who is there interceding,
Pouring His grace
on our lives day by day.

3) We come to Him,
our Priest and Apostle,
Clothed in His glory
and bearing His name,
Laying our lives
with gladness before Him –
Filled with His Spirit
we worship the King:

4) “O Holy One,
our hearts do adore You;
Thrilled with Your goodness
we give You our praise!”
Angels in light
with worship surround Him,
Jesus, our Saviour,
forever the same.

Wendy Churchill (b 1957)
© 1981 Authentic Publishing / CopyCare,
CCLI #56381.

Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?

We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the saviour’s love.

2. Will your anchor hold in the straits of fear,
When the breakers roar and the reef is near?
While the surges rage and the wild winds blow,
Shall the angry waves then your bark o’erflow?

3. Will your anchor hold in the floods of death,
When the waters cold chill your latest breath?
On the rising tide you can never fail,
While your anchor holds within the veil.

4. Will your eyes behold through the morning light,
The city of gold, our harbour bright?
Will you anchor safe by the heavenly shore,
When life’s storms are past for evermore?

Priscilla Jane Owens (1829-99)
CCLI #5638


Prayers

These are based on the Celtic “circling” prayer. Imagine a circle of God's love around you and see yourself and others for whom you are praying enclosed in God's love, care, and protection. If it helps - as you pray, use a finger to draw a circle clockwise around yourself, or trace a circle on your left hand.

Circle me, Lord. Keep protection near and danger afar.
Circle me, Lord. Keep light near and darkness afar.
Circle me, Lord. Keep peace within; keep evil out.

Pray for others by inserting their name and naming their circumstances:

Circle (name), Lord.
Keep (name the good you want revealed) near and (name the evil you want removed) afar.
Circle (name), Lord.
Keep comfort near and discouragement afar. Keep peace within and turmoil out.
Circle (name), Lord.
Keep hope within and despair without.
The eternal Father, Son and Holy Spirit shield (name) on every side.

Pray for our church, using ‘us’.

Circle us, Lord:
keep love within and hatred without.
Circle us, Lord:
keep pardon within and injury without.
Circle us, Lord:
keep faith within and doubt without.
Circle us, Lord:
keep hope within and despair without.
Circle us, Lord:
keep light within and dark without.
Circle us, Lord:
keep joy within and sadness without.
Circle us, Lord:
keep peace within and fear without.
Circle us, Sacred Three, now and forever. Amen.


Requests

We have put some “Try Praying” booklets in a box attached to the front gate of RRBC. Please pray for people who take them, that they would read them and be stirred to pray.

Also last week I asked you to pray about the future of RRBC and how we go forward, to aid our thinking I have included a sheet with various questions. Over the next couple of weeks please have a look at it, discuss it with others and let me know your thoughts. Either in writing or over the phone. In about 3 weeks I hope to manage to have a discussion with deacons about the next steps for us.

Finally, a chuckle for you