Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 25

Sunday 6th September is internationally designated as “Climate Sunday”.  We are constantly being told that climate change is affecting our weather and it is true to say that we have had a wide variety of it lately.  From heatwaves to winds to torrential downpours and flooding.  There was even a hurricane Laura in America, although I assure you, I had nothing to do with it!  But seriously our climate is becoming more varied than we were used to in this country.  Climate change and its impact is something we should be concerned about and be doing our part to try and combat.  As a Bishop in Fiji said to the Archbishop of Canterbury, “For you Europeans, climate change is a problem for the future.  For us, it is a problem of everyday survival”.

All this seems a good reason to fit in with the season of “creation-tide” in the churches calendar.  This runs from the World Day of Prayer on 1st September to St Francis’ Day on 4th October.  During this period Churches and congregations are called to pay special attention to the responsibility of humanity for the earth and to all that live on it.  

As Psalm 24 v.1 & 2 reminds us
“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it, for he founded it
upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”
 

This chapter marks the start of a series on Creation, which we are basing on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s 2020 Lent Book “Saying Yes to Life”.  This involves looking at Genesis 1 together and seeing how the themes of the opening chapter of the Bible weave their way through the biblical story and into our lives.  We will look at each of the days of Creation in turn and pray that God will open our eyes even more to the world in which we live, in all its beauty and fragility.  

This will take us through harvest to around the end of October. 

Who do you identify with in the cartoon?  As Christians we should say “Yes to Life” and rejoice in every day that God gives us, but we should also have an active concern for those whose everyday life brings struggles and hardship.  I’m not sure if that includes frustrated golfers in the rain?


Bible Study

On Wednesday 9th September 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.  Please ask Laura for details.  We are continuing a series looking at creation alongside the reflections. 

For this study the passages are Genesis 1 v.1-5,  1 John 1 v.5-7, and John 1 v. 1-5

The title is “Light and Darkness”.

If you prefer to do this Bible Study at home, then read the passages several times and consider the following points.

  1. How important is light to human life?
  2. What is good and what is bad about the ways we provide light?
  3. What do you notice about light and darkness in the Genesis passage?
  4. Now look at the other two passages, what do they tell you about light?
  5. Can you think of any hymns or songs or passages which mention light?

Reflection

From Laura on “In the beginning” Genesis 1 v.1,2

Since the start of the pandemic many people have rediscovered our wonderful world.  There has been the chance to appreciate the countryside, the joy of hearing birdsong without road traffic noise; the chance to see bumblebees and clear skies, and to breathe less polluted air.  We realise afresh how nurturing and good it is for our well-being to spend time outdoors. 

This is a wonderful world that God made and as the first words in the Bible make clear “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” Genesis 1 v1.  Genesis was most likely written down from original oral versions when the Jews were in lockdown, in exile in Babylon.  There are a few similarities with some Babylonian stories of how life started on earth, but there is the stark contrast in speaking of the one true God who reigns supreme and who has created a very good world, with people created to work with him in taking care of it and one another, not as his slaves but as his friends.  In their lockdown the Jews were surrounded by vastly different beliefs and they would have found themselves in a crisis of faith, plus feeling disoriented and dislocated.  The Biblical creation account brings a message of hope and peace as it gives a glorious vision of God speaking an amazing world into being.  A world teeming with life with God’s goodness at the heart of it.

The lockdown due to Covid-19 brought opportunity to enjoy creation and a greater appreciation of life.  But the pandemic also brings challenges to our faith, raising questions such as, where is God in this situation?  There are no easy answers but surely, we have all been encouraged by seeing individuals doing their utmost to help others and by an increased sense of community.  The virus reminded us of how interconnected human life is by the speed that it spread.  It also reminded us that we live in a wounded but wonderful world.  Covid-19 is a disaster of our own making and environmental destruction has contributed to the problem.  As the Bible makes clear people and the wider natural world are deeply interconnected, and if that set of relationships is broken, this will have an impact on everything.

So why should “Saying Yes to Life” be linked to Creation.  One reason is that this belief should be important in our lives, we have in the Apostles creed “I believe in God, the Father almighty creator of heaven and earth”.  The archbishop of Canterbury notes that “For too long, the theology and the practice of caring for people and planet have been side-lined in the Christian faith.  It is high time to bring them into the centre and root them strongly in our churches and Christian lives”.  As the Kenyan theologian Samson Gitau expresses it, “There can be no redemption without creation”. 

Isaiah 40 v.28-31 reminds us
Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no-one can fathom.   He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.   Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall, but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

As we review the way forward at RRBC and in our lives let us be people of hope in the Lord, the creator.  God has made our fragile world and that includes us.  God knows all about us whether we feel weary or even stumble and fall.  Let us be people who say yes to the life that God has for us, people who keep going, whether on wings, running or simply one step in front of the other.  We are in this together, let us go forward as one.

Next week in our reflection we are continuing the series on Creation, theme is

“Let there be light” Genesis 1 v.1-5


Songs for Sunday

Shout for joy and sing
your praises to the King;
Lift your voice and
let your hallelujahs ring.
Come before His throne
to worship and adore
Enter joyfully now
the presence of the Lord

You are my Creator,
You are my Deliverer
You are my Redeemer,
You are Lord and You are my Healer
You are my Provider,
You are now my Shepherd
and my Guide
Jesus, Lord and King, I worship You.

David Fellingham
© 1988 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music

1. You’re the word of God the Father,
from before the world began;
every star and every planet
has been fashioned by Your hand.
All creation holds together
by the power of Your voice:
let the skies declare Your glory,
let the land and seas rejoice!

You’re the author of creation,
You’re the Lord of every man;
and Your cry of love rings out
across the lands.

2.  Yet You left the gaze of angels,
came to seek and save the lost,
and exchanged the joy of heaven
for the anguish of a cross.
With a prayer You fed the hungry,
with a word You stilled the sea;
yet how silently You suffered
that the guilty may go free.

3.  With a shout You rose victorious,
wrestling victory from the grave,
and ascended into heaven
leading captives in Your wake.
Now You stand before the Father
interceding for Your own.
From each tribe and tongue and nation
You are leading sinners home.

Stuart Townend & Keith Getty
© 2002 Thankyou Music, CCLI #5638


Prayers

Creator God, we praise you for this world in which we live.  We thank you for the beauty of the earth and the wonder of creation.

We pray for your world.  For those parts of the world devasted by Covid-19.  For refugees and those living in fear.  For those experiencing rioting, fighting and political unrest.  For those parts of the world where there are natural disasters of hurricanes, wildfires and floods.  Dear Lord, we live in your world, help us to do all we can to take care of it, and we pray that you would bring peace love and harmony across the Earth.

Loving God we hold before you today those for whom this is a special time of year.  For children back at school, for young people returning to college and university.  For Government and local Councils meeting again – discussing decisions that must be made.  We are conscious though that this is not a normal year, and we pray for those who are struggling in our current situation.  We pray for those who are unwell.  For those who mourn.  For those who are worried about employment and for those who are trying to find work. 

We thank you once again for the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ.  We thank you for his life and death for us, and how he showed us that there is nothing in earth or heaven that can ever separate us from your love.  Forgive us Lord in the times when we doubt you.  Give us strength when we feel weak.  Hold us close, until the day finally comes when we might all gather as one to praise your name.  Amen.


Prayer Requests

We are asked to pray for “Carey Baptist Church in Moulton” and their minister Rev Stuart Dennis.  They write, “We have not yet opened, but have a deacons meeting to set a date, pray for safety as we reopen, for those still not ready to come back, for the finances, that God will provide for the shortfall.”

Also this week, please pray for the work of operation Christmas Child.  The shoe boxes are still going ahead and there will be covered ones available at church in a few weeks’ time for people to fill.  We will also have leaflets and more information available soon.


Dates

Big Clean

Saturday 12th September, 10am to 12 noon, please come to join in some socially distanced cleaning, bring your own duster or vacuum or rubber gloves.

Deacons’ meeting

Monday 14th September 10.30am.

BU Assembly

Wednesday 16th September 7pm

No Bible Study this evening, instead 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 our plans for the future.  To be able to participate in the event and vote on behalf of the church please speak to Laura, otherwise to watch the event it will be streamed on the 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.