Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 30

The seasons are definitely changing.  In the next few weeks we will take down the hanging baskets that we can see from our kitchen window, and which have given so much pleasure over the summer months.  In their place we will hang some bird feeders and then enjoy watching the visitors that are attracted into the garden.  Robins, tits of various kinds, a comical starling, the neighbourhood blackbird, hopefully a few finches and by far the most common visitors - sparrows.  Sparrows were also well known to Jesus when he spoke to his disciples about not being afraid.  He told them that sparrows were everywhere and cheap – sold two for a penny , or five for two pennies in Luke’s gospel (Luke must have been better at bargaining in the marketplace) – yet even with such a common bird, so numerous as to be hardly worth noticing,

“not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father’s care”, and, “not one of them is forgotten by God”

(Matthew 10 v29-31; Luke 12 v6-7). 

If God loves the sparrows, then just think how much more your heavenly Father loves and cares for you!  You may know this little poem which expresses the sentiment so well.

Said the robin to the sparrow,
“I should really like to know,
why these anxious human beings
rush about and worry so.”
Said the sparrow to the robin,
“Friend I think that it must be,
That they have no Heavenly Father,
such as cares for you and me.”

Bible Study

On Wednesday 14th October at 7.15pm for 7.30pm start.

Genesis 1 v.20-23 Birds and Sea Creatures

  1. The passage gives the impression of variety - both the sea and air teeming with life. 
    What experiences have you had of seeing ‘teeming’ in the natural world? Reflect on these experiences, take time to appreciate them and give thanks to God for them.

Job 30 v.13-18, 26-30, Job 41 v.1-5,32-34 (Leviathan is some sort of a sea monster or could poetically be a large whale)

  1. Job has questioned God’s ways and wanted answers.  God reminds Job of some of the incredible birds and sea-creatures on earth.  What do you make of Job’s two responses in Job 40 v.1-5 and Job 42 v.1-5

Psalm 8

  1. What should our response be to God’s wonderful world?
  2. Does plastic help us or hinder us in our care for God’s world?
  3. Make a mental note of the different ways in which you use plastic.  Maybe look around you or around your house and notice how much there is.  What plastic things will you decide now to abandon or find an alternative for?

Reflection

From Phillip based on Genesis 1 v.20-23, “Let the waters teem with living creatures and let birds fly”

Fish and Birds

I have enjoyed looking at Genesis 1 in bite sized pieces rather than trying to take an overview of the whole chapter.  For when you look at it in small chunks you see things that you might have missed in looking at the whole picture.  I’ve previously remarked on the recurring theme that God was happy in his work and stopped at the end of each section to reflect that what he had done was good.  Here on day 5 of creation there are two things in the text that have not appeared before.  The first is the phrase “living” creatures and the second is the blessing that God pronounced on the fish and the birds.

Most of us, and certainly those of us who are gardeners would describe plants and trees as living things and we might even use the same description for the sun and stars for, after all, astronomers talk about the death of a star.  Yet Genesis chapter 1 does not attribute the word “living” to vegetation or the solar system.  It is interesting to see where the word is used.  It comes 4 times in chapter 1 and particularly in the longer account of the creation of Adam and Eve in chapter 2

Then the Lord God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being. (Genesis 2 v7)

What is also interesting is that the phrase “living creatures” in verse 20 is the same as that used of Adam (in chapter 2 v7) where it says that he became a “living being”.  Sometimes people ask if other creatures have souls, and the Hebrew word for creature and being is the same word -nephesh, which elsewhere is translated “soul” but simply means “being” or “life”.  As in Deuteronomy 6 v5 “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your nephesh and with all your strength”, and in Psalm 103 v1, “Praise the Lord my nephesh”.  So, in answer to the question do other creatures have souls, the answer from the use of the word nephesh here and elsewhere in the Bible, would seem to be “yes they do”.

Returning to the things created on day 5 we now know from Natural History programmes just how complex the undersea world is, teeming with thousands of species that the first readers of Genesis could hardly have imagined.  Most of us only have a limited appreciation of the living under-sea world, but with the birds of the air we have a more intimate relationship.  We learn their different names as children, listen out for their songs in the spring, watch for them building their nests in the bushes and entice them into the garden with scraps on the bird table.  Just as we enjoy and name the birds, so some thirty types of birds are referenced in the Bible.  For example, the dove that Noah sent out from the Ark to see if the water had receded enough to reveal dry land.  The dove also appears in the Bible at the baptism of Jesus where the Holy Spirit descends on Jesus “like a dove”.  A variety of different birds are used metaphorically in the Bible and probably the best known is the Eagle.

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. (Isaiah 40 v31)

As on the other days of creation, so on day 5, God saw that what he had done was good and he gave his blessing to them and said “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth.” (v22). 

I mentioned earlier Natural History documentaries and sadly we also know from them the way in which oceans are being polluted by tons of plastic waste and that increased urbanisation and industrial farming have reduced local bird populations.  Most of us have known about this for some time, but I hope that through this series we have come to appreciate that the Natural world is God’s world.  He created it, is still passionately concerned about it and therefore it is incumbent on us to do what we can to feed the birds, reduce our use of plastic and care for the world which God blessed and saw that it was good.

Prayers

A prayer from France

Lord be praised for the immensity and the beauty of your creation.  I pray with humility to be every single day more aware of the variety of species on earth and to seek for their protection.  I thank you for this calling to take care of our planet that you put in many hearts, and I pray many others will follow.  I ask you the grace of being able to see the world with your eyes and to always be amazed by the places I am blessed to go.  In this time of thinking about Creation, Lord help me to discern what specific choice I can make to reduce my ecological imprint on the Earth and how I can be an encouragement to people around me to think and act about it.  At times when I can be discouraged by the amount of ecological issues, help me to remember I stand before holy ground when I encounter another person and to believe that You can make everything possible.           Amen

Prisca Liotard is a French Catholic with a heart for the unity of Christians. She was part of the Community of St Anselm in 2017– 2018 where her sisters and brothers gave her the ‘Environment’ award, a cause that truly matters to her!

We are asked to pray for Northampton Grange Park Baptist Church and their minister Rev Paul Carey-Slater

Please remember our “Mission of the month” BMS Harvest appeal “Operation Chad”.

Information

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,

Robin Smith’s funeral Tuesday 13th October at 12noon at the Edgar Newman Chapel of Kettering Crematorium.  Please have a word with Laura if you would like to go since spaces will be limited.  It will also be live streamed – if you are interested in seeing via the internet, again, please ask Laura for details.

Coffee - there is some filter coffee from the Ark which needs using by the end of November.  It will out at church, please help yourself and make us a donation.

Rotas – Wendy is thinking about rotas for next year for when we again need stewards and people to serve coffee.  Please let her know if you want to join the rota, or would prefer to come off it.

Next Church Meeting is on 29th November after the service.  It will be in 2 parts, a normal meeting to elect deacons and a special service to consider the new constitution.  Nominations for the diaconate need to be into Wendy by 8th November and forms for this will be available from 25th October onwards.  The new constitution will be circulated in the last week of October.

Songs for Sunday

  1. Morning has broken,
    Like the first morning;
    Blackbird has spoken
    Like the first bird,
    Praise for the singing,
    Praise for the morning,
    Praise for them, springing
    Fresh from the word.
     
  2. Sweet the rain’s new fall
    Sunlit from heaven,
    Like the first dewfall
    On the first grass,
    Praise for the sweetness
    Of the wet garden,
    Sprung in completeness
    Where his feet pass.
     
  3. Mine is the sunlight:
    Mine is the morning
    Born of the one light
    Eden saw play!
    Praise with elation,
    Praise every morning,
    God’s recreation
    Of the new day!

Eleanor Farjeon (1881-1965) 
© David Higham Associates Ltd.

  1. Lord my God! When I in awesome wonder
    Consider all the works thy hand hath made,
    I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
    Thy power throughout the universe displayed;

Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art! How great Thou art!

  1. When through the woods and forest glades I wander
    And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
    When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur,
    And hear the brook, and feel the gentle breeze;
    Then sings my soul, …
     
  2. And when I think that God His Son not sparing,
    Sent Him to die I scarce can take it in.
    That on the cross my burden gladly bearing,
    He bled and died to take away my sin:
    Then sings my soul, …
     
  3. When Christ shall come with
    shout of acclamation
    And take me home what joy shall fill my heart!
    Then shall I bow in humble adoration
    And there proclaim, my God,
    how great Thou art!
    Then sings my soul, …

Karl Boberg (1859-1940) 
trans. Stuart K. Hine (1899-1989) 
© 1953 Stuart K. Hine/Kingsway’s Thankyou Music
 

A reminder about listening to recordings of our 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.

You can go to Media Page 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.