Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 6

Rocky Road Epistle for Sunday 26th April 2020

Chapter 6

It is a privilege, as your minister, to send you this sixth part of the “Rocky Road Epistle” or RRE as one of you has shortened it to.  In these interesting days we are all learning new things.  Some of us are developing communication skills, whether it is the ability to use a telephone or gaining confidence on the computer.  We are all experiencing new situations involving a new language, things which before Christmas would have sounded out of this world.  Terms like “Lockdown” (did you know it was all one word?), PPE and Covid.  We are all being changed amid the situation we find ourselves in. 

The passage in John’s gospel mentions forgiveness, what about this…..?

Passage for next week is Luke 24 v.32-49


Reflection from Laura

based on the passage for this week

The Disciples in Lockdown  John 20 v.19-31

The passage tells of two more appearances of the risen Jesus.  In the first one the disciples were together with the doors locked.  It sounds like there were 10 of the 12 disciples present (Thomas and Judas Iscariot were missing) and other followers of Jesus including the two who had met him on the Emmaus road.  They must have gathered somewhere well known to them in Jerusalem, possibly in the house belonging to the family of John-Mark, better known to us as Mark the gospel writer.  Most likely it was the same house where the last supper had taken place in an upper room.

Now in this country those over 70 years old are being told to self-isolate and in a similar way the disciples were locked in.  Worried for the future and scared of being arrested they were socially distancing themselves from those who were not of their “family”. Together they must have been remembering the last supper, discussing the crucifixion and the events on that first Easter Sunday; how Jesus had met the women at the tomb and the travellers going to Emmaus.  Their thoughts and their emotions would have been in turmoil.  Mourning the death of Jesus yet wanting to believe that what they’d heard about him being risen was true.  Possibly wishing Jesus hadn’t died and, wanting things to go back to how they were, back to normal.

It is in the midst of their turmoil that Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you”.  Jesus showed them his wounds, they knew it was really him and they were overjoyed.  Again, he said, “Shalom” or “Peace be with you”, perhaps the disciples were so amazed that they didn’t really listen the first time.  Shalom was a common greeting, yet from Jesus it was full of meaning.  In John chapter 14 v.27 we read these words of Jesus “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.  I do not give to you as the world gives.  Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”  Jesus had promised a peace that passed all understanding made possible because of his death on the cross and the obtaining of forgiveness of sin.  Now behind locked doors, Jesus’ Shalom is linked with being sent.  The peace is to go out into the whole world.  Jesus breathed on them and said receive the Holy Spirit, a foretaste of the outpouring that was to come at Pentecost.  This is linked with forgiveness in v.23.  Hanging on to bitter thoughts or wanting revenge stops the Holy Spirit’s work.

A week later the disciples were in the same house again and this time Thomas was also there.  Where he had been the first time we do not know.  We are only told that he would not accept what the others said, thus gaining the nickname “Doubting Thomas”.  Once again Jesus appeared and said, “peace be with you”.  Then Jesus showed Thomas his wounds and told him to “stop doubting and believe”.  Thomas was not dismissed for his doubting but rather Jesus helped him through his doubts and brought him to a place of faith where he was able to exclaim “My Lord and my God!”  Thomas believed because he saw Jesus, but Jesus described us who have not physically seen him as blessed if we believe (v.29). Jesus refers to those like us who believe but have not seen Jesus physically as being blessed. 

In the last two verses of the passage we find John’s reason for writing his gospel.  That people might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that by believing may have life in his name (v. 31).

In a country in lockdown we all face difficult times.  Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury writes, “We have a choice: to focus on fear, on ourselves, on what we cannot do or we can turn to God and let him lead us into praying for the world, and letting prayer flow into creative action.”  Writer and priest Richard Rohr puts it in a similar way, “In this time of suffering we have to ask ourselves, what are we going to do with our pain?  Are we going to blame others for it?  Are we going to try to fix it?  No one lives on this earth without it.  It is the great teacher, although none of us want to admit it.  If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it in some form.  How can we be sure not to transmit our pain onto others?” 

We need to bring to Jesus our doubts, our pain and our difficulties.  Life will never go back to how it was, to whatever “normal” was.  As we serve Jesus our Lord and God we are being changed through suffering because as Richard Rohr comments “We do not handle suffering, suffering handles us”. 


Don’t forget the following encouragements

  • 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
  • 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
  • Use the prayer diary which has Bible readings on weekdays.  Thanks to Margaret for all you have done in producing this

Prayers

From the Anglican Church

Keep us, good Lord,
under the shadow of your mercy
in this time of uncertainty and distress.
Sustain and support the anxious and fearful,
and lift up all who are brought low;
that we may rejoice in your comfort
knowing that nothing can separate us
from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

God of compassion,
be close to those who are ill, afraid or in isolation.
In their loneliness, be their consolation;
in their anxiety, be their hope;
in their darkness, be their light;
through him who suffered alone on the cross,
but reigns with you in glory,
Jesus Christ our Lord.    Amen.

Prayers - for hospital staff and medical researchers

Gracious God,
give skill, sympathy and resilience
to all who are caring for the sick,
and your wisdom to those searching for a cure.
Strengthen them with your Spirit,
that through their work
many will be restored to health;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.    Amen.

Prayers about the outbreak for the Christian community

We are not people of fear:
we are people of courage.
We are not people who protect our own safety:
we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety.
We are not people of greed:
we are people of generosity.
We are your people God, giving and loving,
wherever we are, whatever it costs
For as long as it takes wherever you call us.

Barbara Glasson (President of the Methodist Conference)


Weekly Bible Study

On Wednesdays at 7.30pm, all are welcome to join in. 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 22nd April is Philippians 1 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. 

  • Ring either of these phone numbers: 0203 481 5240 or 0208 080 6591
  • 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 by yourself, then why not ask yourself:

  1. What does the passage tell me about God: Father, Son or Holy Spirit?
  2. What does it say to me?  Is there a command, warning, promise or example for me to follow?
  3. What is the main lesson?
  4. What is the best verse?

The passage for the Wednesday 29th April is Philippians 1 v.19-30


Songs for Sunday

1.  Low in the grave he lay,
Jesus, my Saviour,
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus, my Lord:

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives for ever with His saints to reign:
He arose! He arose!
Alleluia! Christ arose!

2.  Vainly they watch His bed,
Jesus, my Saviour;
Vainly they seal the dead,
Jesus, my Lord:

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives for ever with His saints to reign:
He arose! He arose!
Alleluia! Christ arose!

3.  Death cannot keep his prey,
Jesus, my Saviour;
He tore the bars away,
Jesus, my Lord:

Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes;
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives for ever with His saints to reign:
He arose! He arose!
Alleluia! Christ arose!

Robert Lowry © CCLI #5638

Shirley suggests this hymn as an encouragement.

1.  Jesus bids us shine with a pure, clear light,
Like a little candle burning in the night. 
In this world of darkness so let us shine
You in your small corner, and I in mine.

2.  Jesus bids us shine, first of all for Him;
well He sees and knows it, if our light grows dim. 
He looks down from heaven to see us shine
You in your small corner, and I in mine.

3.  Jesus bids us shine, then, for all around;
Many kinds of darkness in the world are found
Sin and want and sorrow; so we must shine
you in your small corner, and I in mine. 

Susan Warner © CCLI #5638

May you know God’s blessing of His peace as you travel with Him through this week.