Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 29

The autumnal change in the weather reminds us that it is the season to celebrate Harvest.  Most of the crops are safely gathered in and the fields around Desborough have been ploughed over ready for the winter.  This harvest we are supporting the Baptist Missionary Society’s (BMS) “Operation Chad” through our gifts of money.  In their appeal they are centring on the hospital, Guinebor II, which is in the capital city N'Djamena.  This hospital is where RRBC’s link missionaries, Mark and Andrea Hotchkins, were based before moving a few years ago to a hospital at Bardai in the North of Chad.

Operation Chad concerns the harvest through that hospital.  God’s love is shown through actions and words.  BMS supported medical workers who show God’s love through saving and transforming lives, including stitching-up gunshot wounds, removing cancers and healing malnourished children.  People travel long distances for the care that is given at Guinebor II.  They arrive knowing that they will be treated with love and respect – whether they are rich or poor and that the staff will do everything they can to save them.  All this alongside the preaching of the gospel of Jesus to people who have never heard it before.

We are invited to share in the harvest in Chad.  As St Paul wrote to the Galatians, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6 v.9. 

Keep going, do not give up, could be put in terms of not looking back when ploughing.  For a straight furrow you need to fix your eyes on something ahead of you, if you look back the furrow goes wobbly! 


Bible Study

On Wednesday 7th October at 7.15pm for 7.30pm start

We are continuing a series looking at creation alongside the reflections. 

The title is “Sun, moon and stars” based on Genesis 1 v.14-19

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.

1) Ask yourself what strikes you about the sky today and look out for an image in the clouds that reminds you of something about God.

Psalm 33 v.1-9, Psalm 148 v.1-6

2) What are these two Psalms encouraging us to do and how?

St Francis of Assisi invites us to ‘see nature as a magnificent book in which God speaks to us and grants us a glimpse of his infinite beauty and goodness’

3) What can we learn about God and His plan for humanity from considering the natural world?

St. Francis believed that everything in the natural world was a gift from God and, as such, deserved to be appreciated and valued.  His deep care for everything which exists was also borne out of a feeling of intimate connection with all creation; Francis refers to the sun, wind, air, and fire as his brothers, and to the moon, stars, earth and water as his sisters.

4) What is your reaction to the use of brother or sister in this way?

5) Does it change your view of the sun, moon or stars or help you value God’s creation more?


Reflection

From Laura on “Saying Yes to Life”

“Let there be Lights in the Sky” Genesis 1 v.14-19

Day four of creation causes us to look beyond this world and into the incredible, dizzying space that is …. well space.  Our world looks small from the moon, which is 240,000 miles away, the average distance walked by a human being in their life time.  Our sun is one of between 200 billion and 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy.  No wonder that Abram was unable to count the stars when God told him to look at the night sky and promised that his offspring would be more numerous than the stars (Gen 15 v.5).  Since then we have discovered even more stars.   

More importantly we know the creator who put “lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark seasons, days and years” (Genesis 1 v.14)  The sun, moon and stars are created to mark the seasons, they have a role in creation.  They do not have power in themselves as astrology would have us believe, our lives are not directed by the movements of the stars and planets.  Instead the lights in the sky mark God’s rhythm for his world, of day and night, of autumn, winter, summer and spring. 

The natural rhythm of day and night is important for us – we know how it feels when that pattern is disrupted.  Night on Day 4 becomes part of God’s good creation, night gives us chance to rest, to sleep and it brings a welcome coolness for those in hot climates.  The rhythm of the seasons is engrained into the patterns of the natural world.  It is incredible how birds like swallows fly vast distances from Africa to Britain for the summer, though the numbers are sadly getting less mainly due to climate issues.  The seasons are also changing due to climate change and we seem to be more and more disconnected from the seasons by our use of central heating, air conditioning and eating vegetables and fruit out of season. 

This rhythm of life is important to us in the church with the different seasons and festivals including Easter and Christmas, Harvest, Remembrance, Pentecost.  Marking the festivals is important, especially since it helps us remember and dwell on the saving work of Christ.  The new season of Creationtide refreshes

“the vision of the triune God as the creator, recognition of the createdness and dependence of human beings upon God, and a stress on responsibility towards the world in which the Creator has placed us” (Chris Voke, British Baptist minister and theologian). 

Into a world of day and night, sunrises and sunsets, starry nights, springtime and harvest came our Saviour Jesus Christ.  In Matthew Jesus’ birth is announced by a star that alerts the Magi and leads them to where Jesus lies.  The Word who was with God and was God in the beginning; the Word through whom all things were made; the Word who brings light into the world … his birth is accompanied by a night sky illuminated by the glory of the Lord and by a bright shining star.  The heavens do indeed declare the glory of the Lord as, in the incarnation, the Creator takes on the flesh of his creation, and comes to live among us so that we might be redeemed and brought back to life in God.  And then, as Graham Kendrick put it “hands that flung stars into space, to cruel nails surrendered”.  As Jesus bears our sin in his earthly body, his death is accompanied by a dramatic response in the natural world, as the sun stops shining.

We have a hope that Jesus will come again when there will be a final spiritual harvest.  Until that time, as God promised Noah, "As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease."  Genesis 8 v.22. 

I finish with a prayer based on Ecclesiastes chapter 3

Creator God,

In your hands is the gift of time.
You give to our lives rhythm and flow:
a time to be born and a time to die;
a time to plant and a time to reap;
a time to break down and a time to build;
a time to weep and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn and a time to dance;
a time to seek and a time to lose;
a time to keep and a time to discard;
a time to tear and a time to sew;
a time to speak and a time to be silent;
a time to love and a time to hate.

For everything you provide a season.
And here we are
all living through differing experiences,
some of us sad, some of us celebrating,
some of us wounded, some of us active,
some of us failing, some of us succeeding,
yet all of us dependent
on your gifts of life and love,
and all of us dependent
on each other’s compassion and energy.

In every season, make us grateful;
in every season, make us humble;
in every season, make us aware of one another;
in every season, keep us in touch with you,
the spring of life,
the goal of our journey,
the provider of Jesus Christ;
man for all seasons, and Lord of our days.

Next week we are continuing the series on Creation “Saying Yes to Life”, with the theme
“Let the waters teem with living creatures and let birds fly” Genesis 1 v.20-23


Prayers

Our heavenly Father, as we look up to You in the vastness of the skies, The sun that you have made opens our eyes to a world lit in colour and clarity, And the moon and the stars remind us of Your faithfulness and steadfast presence, Amidst the seasons of darkness and our community’s moments of uncertainty. Lord Jesus, you have shown us how from beginning to end was the light of love, That as endless as the heavens above so is the grace that sustains all things, So with faith that the Spirit has wrought in us, we sought the care every creature is to have, As we dream, hope, and labour for a future wrapped in the fullness of joy that Your new creation brings. Amen.

Rei Lemuel Crizaldo is an artist, a local author, and advocate of doing integral mission based in Manila, Philippines.

We are asked to pray for Northampton Emmanuel LEP

Please remember our “Mission of the month” Harvest appeal – BMS


Dates

Shoebox Appeal. 

Please note that leaflets are now available at church as are wrapped shoeboxes (thanks to Isobel).  If you can, please pay the costs to send your box online.  If you prefer to just give a donation instead of filling a box, please let John have that (clearly marked).  It is even possible to pay online for a shoebox to be filled. 

Shoeboxes need to be back to church by Sunday 8th November  

Tearfund Big Quiz Night Saturday 14th November, this is still going ahead and will be through Zoom.


Songs for Sunday

1. Fill your hearts with joy and gladness,
Sing and praise your God and mine!
Great the Lord in love and wisdom,
Might and majesty divine!
He who frames the starry heavens
Knows and names them as they shine.

2. Praise the Lord, his people, praise him!
Wounded souls his comfort know;
Those who fear him find his mercies,
Peace for pain and joy for woe;
Humble hearts are high exalted,
Human pride and power laid low.

3. Praise the Lord for times and seasons,
Cloud and sunshine, wind and rain;
Spring to melt the snows of winter
Till the waters flow again;
Grass upon the mountain pastures,
Golden valleys thick with grain.

4. Fill your hearts with joy and gladness,
Peace and plenty crown your days;
Love his laws, declare his judgements,
Walk in all his words and ways;
He the Lord and we his children:
Praise the Lord, all people, praise!

Timothy Dudley-Smith (b. 1926)
© T. Dudley-Smith © CCLI no. 5638

We plough the fields with tractors,
With drills we sow the land;
But growth is still the wondrous gift
Of God’s almighty hand.
We add our fertilizers
To help the growing grain;
But for its full fruition,
It needs God’s sun and rain.

All good gifts around us
Are sent from heaven above,
Then thank the Lord, O thank the Lord
For all his love.

2. With many new machines now
We do the work each day;
We reap the fields with combines,
We bale the new-mown hay.
But still it’s God who gives us
Inventive skill and drives
Which lighten labour’s drudgery
And give us better lives.
All good gifts around us …….

3. He only is the maker
Of galaxies and stars;
Of birds and beasts and flowers,
And any life on Mars.
Atomic powers obey him,
Yet still the birds are fed;
By him our prayer is answered:
Give us our daily bread
All good gifts around us…………….

4. We thank thee then, O Father,
For life so rich and good,
For seedtime and the harvest,
The wealth of daily food.
No gifts have we to offer
Such as thy love imparts,
But what thou most desirest:
Our humble thankful hearts.
All good gifts around us ………..

(Frank Low, 1912- ) CCLI no 5638


Reminder

Accessing recordings of services

At our reduced Sunday morning services in our building, there is regularly around two dozen of us as well as those who follow the chapter and pray for us at home.  Now for those of you who remain at home you can listen to a recording of the service.

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

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 charged to the church.