Rocky Road Epistles Chapter 8

Rocky Road Epistle for Sunday 10th May 2020

Chapter 8

Welcome to the eighth part of the “Rocky Road Epistle”.  When I started writing this Epistle in the middle of March, I had no idea that it would continue this long.  I am grateful to Phil for his patient editing of these chapters.  Yet as your minister it is blessing to have this way to communicate with you regularly and to encourage you to turn and fix your eyes upon Jesus.

The prayer diary reading for Monday 4th, in 2 Corinthians chapter 4, was very apt.  Starting at verse16 it says, “Therefore we do not lose heart.  Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.  For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”  Let us be people who look to God in our lives.

I am grateful that many of you have given me encouragement regarding this Epistle and also for the suggestions or contributions you have made.  In view of the celebration of VE day on Friday Janet has sent some memories of World War II.  You could try the following idea from Exeter Street, where Wendy tells me that they are having a socially distanced street party – everyone will be celebrating but from their own front gardens!  Maureen has sent a note about Christian Aid week (May 10th to 16th) and Pam has contributed some cartoons she has found.

God is looking for full time followers     God is worth studying


Scriptures for your encouragement

Wendy.  recommends Psalm 121 which talks about lifting your eyes to God.

Reminders

  • 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

Passage for next week’s reflection is 1 Corinthians 15 v.1-11


Reflection from Laura

Based on the passage for this week John 21 v.1-25

Breakfast on the beach

On the first Easter Sunday the angel gave a message to the women at the tomb.  They were to tell the disciples to go to Galilee and meet with Jesus (Matthew 28 v.7).  In our passage from John’s gospel seven of the disciples were in Galilee waiting for Jesus.  As they waited, they went fishing which was not surprising as most of the group were fishermen and the attraction of the lake must have been extraordinarily strong. 

Despite being out all night, they caught nothing and must have felt useless.  Then everything changed as Jesus spoke from the shore.  They did not recognise him at first.  Jesus asked them how they were doing and tells them to throw their nets on the other side of the boat.  These experienced fishermen were tired and frustrated, and then an unknown person was shouting instructions from the shore.  There must have been something about the voice that made them listen and obey, whether in hope or in tired resignation.  As failure turned to success, they recognised Jesus.  More than that - the catch was large, 153 fish. 

As someone who likes Maths, I like numbers and 153 is special since it is a triangular number!  Before some of you get worried that this reflection might become a Math’s lesson, all I will comment is that it seems an odd amount to have recorded.  Perhaps the catch was so large that someone wondered how many fish there were and counted them.  Whatever the reason it was a large catch which showed God’s blessing.  Jesus then invited them to come and have breakfast on the beach.

Jesus met them in the middle of everyday life.  The disciples were still trying to make sense of the events of the crucifixion and resurrection, they had been through a lot and needed to talk things over, they needed to have time with Jesus.  Over a leisurely breakfast Jesus must have helped them get things clearer in their minds.

How has this week been for you?  Have things not gone well or seemed empty?  It may be that God is working differently to how you want or expect.  Have you felt a failure or that you have made a mess of things?  We need to remember that all our efforts are useless apart from God’s direction and blessing.  In failure or guilt we have a choice, either wallow in self-pity or turn our eyes to Jesus.  There was Hope for fishermen who failed to catch fish v.1-14.  The ordinary was transformed by the presence of the resurrected Lord with abundance replacing emptiness.

In the second part we read of Hope for a disciple who failed to stand firm v.15-19.  For Peter there was amazing grace in face of failure. 

Jesus asking Peter three times “do you love me?” is a well-known part of this passage.  We must remember that Jesus had already had a private meeting with Peter after the resurrection (see Luke 24 v34).  Here Jesus is publicly restoring Peter in front of the other disciples and recommissioning him for the task ahead.  It was not an easy conversation for Peter, but it was vital for Peter for him to be able to go on in God’s work. 

What have you been through recently?  Whether it has been easy or hard, you need to take time with Jesus.  We cannot charge through life and expect that our faith will somehow take care of itself.  Jesus invites us to come to him.  May the lessons we are learning in the Lockdown stay with us, lessons of prayer or reading the Bible or simply coming to Jesus and hearing his voice. 

As it says in Matthew 11 v.28-30 (The Message version) “Are you tired?  Worn out?  Burned out on religion?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you’ll recover your life.  I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Lastly there was Hope for a world who had failed to recognise their saviour v.20-23, an assured return in face of seeming despair.

The disciples were to be commissioned to take the gospel to the world, the gospel that has reached you and me.  Now Jesus invites us to come to him, to be sent out.  One day Jesus will come again, till then we are all involved with spreading the hope of the gospel to the needy and anxious world.


Prayers

Dear God, we pray for our situation during this Covid 19 Pandemic.
We pray for those who have lost loved ones and now must mourn.
We pray for all those who are currently unwell and for those caring for them.
We pray for those who are shut-in, feel isolated and alone.
We pray for those who fear for their livelihood and situation.
Grant wisdom to our scientists as they search for cures and a vaccine.
Grant courage to our government as they try to navigate the way through this crisis.
Grant peace and co-operation to all nations that they might
work together for the good of all.   Amen

Prayers for the Commemoration of VE Day

A Prayer for the World

Gracious God,
we pray for peace in your world:
for all national leaders,
that they may have wisdom to know
and courage to do what is right.

For all men and women,
that their hearts may be turned to yourself
in the search for righteousness and truth.

For those who are working
to improve international relationships,
that they may find the true way of reconciliation.

For those who suffer as a result of war:
the injured and disabled,
the mentally distressed,
the homeless and hungry,
those who mourn their dead,
and especially for those who are without hope or friend
to sustain them in their grief.

God of grace, here this prayer,

through Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace

and the Saviour of the World.  Amen

A Personal Prayer

Lord God my Father,
I pledge myself to serve you and all humankind, in the cause of peace,
for the relief of want and suffering,
and for the praise of your name.
Guide me by your Spirit;
give me wisdom;
give me courage;
give me hope;
and keep me faithful now and always.
Amen.


Songs for Sunday

For the first one we usually only sing the chorus, but the rest of it seems very apt for these strange times.

1.  Oh soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Saviour
and life more abundant and free!

Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
Look full in His wonderful face;
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace.

2.  Through death into life everlasting
He passed and we follow Him there;
over us sin no more hath dominion,
for more than conquerors we are!
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, …

3.  His word shall not fail you, He promised;
believe Him, and all will be well:
then go to a world that is dying,
His perfect salvation to tell.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus, …

Helen Lemmel © CCLI #5638

David Page used to include this extra chorus as well.

Keep your eyes upon Jesus
Let nobody else take his place
So that hour by hour, you will know his power,
Till at last you have run the great race.

Song

Alleluia, alleluia, give thanks to the risen Lord;
Alleluia, alleluia, give praise to his name.  

1.  Jesus is Lord of all the earth,
He is the King of creation,
Alleluia, alleluia, …

2.  Spread the good news o'er all the earth,
Jesus has died and has risen,
Alleluia, alleluia, …

3.  We have been crucified with Christ;
Now we shall live forever,
Alleluia, alleluia, …

4.  God has proclaimed the just reward,
Live for all men alleluia,
Alleluia, alleluia, …

5.  Come let us praise the living God,
Joyfully sing to our Saviour,
Alleluia, alleluia, …

Donald Fishel © 1975 International Liturgy Publications, CCLI #5638


Weekly Bible Study

On Wednesdays 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 taking a gentle stroll through Paul’s letter to the Philippians.

The passage for 13th May is Philippians 2 v.5-11, 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. 

  • You ring either of these phone numbers, 0203 481 5240 or 0208 080 6591
  • Then 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, then ask yourself the following?

Up, In, Out

Using the passage what light does it shed on?

  • UP (Our relationship with God)
  • IN (Our own spiritual journey)
  • OUT (Our relationship with others)

There will be no Bible Study on Wednesday 20th May, instead we will have a Communion Service for Ascension Day on the evening of Thursday 21st May.  More on this next week.


Wartime Memories

Janet sent the following with the comment that

“As I was watching Breakfast on BBC this morning and the flypast to celebrate Captain Tom’s 100th Birthday and his words that ‘he had seen the Spitfire “fly in peace and in anger”, made me think of the times that we as ’Kids’ had seen them doing that; chasing German planes over the fields and towards the Channel.  Again, this brings back memories of Mum, especially the last paragraph and I ask myself: ‘How did she cope?’

How it came to be written?  It must have been the 65th Anniversary, and we at U3A were asked to submit our memories of those years.” 

For more than four years during the Second World War, EASTBOURNE was in the front line.  Not solely because of its location on the Channel coast facing France already occupied by Germany but because it was chosen by the enemy as a target for heavy aerial bombardment.’  This is the town where I was born and grew up.

There were six months when my Father sent my Mother, brother and myself to his home town of Jarrow-on-Tyne.  I can’t remember being evacuated!  We were home for Christmas and in January 1941 another brother was born.  My first memory of ‘war’ is being crowded under the stairs with the family who lived downstairs and everyone being very frightened.  It seemed as if we were always hiding there and longing for the ‘all-clear’!  Dad was in the army, so it was left to Mum to look after us and make sure that we got down the stairs in time.  There were times when the dining table was shelter as the planes were overhead when the sirens sounded.  This was usually during the day.

As there were very few teachers in the town, I did not start school until I was nearly six.  Then we only went part-time!  The time came when we had to go to school in the mornings and again for the afternoons.  Dinner time was from 12 to 2.  We needed that time to enable us to walk home, eat our dinner and walk back to school.  At 11.30 on Friday 4th June 1943 there was another air-raid.  When I eventually got home there was no dinner.  Our house had been bombed, dinner with it!  As the plane went over, my Mother was speaking to a neighbour.  Mum got indoors but the neighbour did not get home to look after her babies; just one more casualty of the war.  On the 1st December 1943 we were being attacked again.  As we came out from under the stairs a nurse came down and said “you have a new baby brother”.  I already had two, he made three!  

The years were not all doom and gloom!  More children were coming home and the houses that had been empty for so long were requisitioned and soldiers billeted.  We watched them being drilled and marching off.  They came from all over Britain and we also had French Canadians. 

During the summer months we would play in the fields at the back of the houses.  We would cheer as spitfires chased the enemy across the sky, then screech as Mum clipped our ears and told us to get indoors.  There was the day when a plane crashed in a field and we all ran over to watch, I still do not know whether it was one of ours or theirs!

The land behind the houses opposite was known as the Crumbles.  It stretched to the sea.  We were forbidden to play over there.  One day as Mum was running for the bus a jeep had to stop to let her go across the road.  The soldier in the back saluted her, it was Field Marshall Montgomery.  He was inspecting the troops.  Well, that was Mum’s claim to fame!  As time went by there were more and more soldiers.  I had nearly a mile to walk home from school and often could not cross the road until I was opposite our house.  Then Mum, or a neighbour, would walk into the road, stop the convoy of army vehicles and see me safely across.  One day as I walked home from school a man grabbed me and pulled me into a shelter.  I can still see the plane flying along the road with machine guns firing!

Doodlebugs came next!  Again, we would cheer as we saw them being chased by our planes and again we would be dragged indoors.  My memory still lets me see these being exploded beyond the houses across the road.  They were destroyed over the channel and the colours … it was like a giant kaleidoscope!

When my youngest brother was still a baby Mum had to go to work and Auntie (the lady who lived downstairs) looked after us during the day.  I have since learned that women, when there was someone to look after their children, had to work.  Some afternoons I would walk to the bus and meet her.  One day as she got off the bus, she cried!  The war was over.  We had lived through it and Dad would be coming home from Italy.


Christian Aid Week, 10-16 May 2020

Due to the Coronavirus there will be no deliveries of red envelopes through your door this year.  All the events planned by the Kettering committee have been postponed.

Christian Aid has moved entirely online.  Their website states :

“The Coronavirus outbreak threatens the health of our neighbours near and far, and now it is spreading across the world's poorest countries, putting people living in poverty at great risk.  As coronavirus infection rates speed up, they will feel the impacts of the virus deeply.  We must respond now.  “

Coronavirus impacts all of us. 

Christian Aid's response is, together with their local partners, to work quickly to limit the impact of Coronavirus in some of the most vulnerable communities around the world. 

  • drawing on our experience from the Ebola crisis and helping communities to prevent and delay infection.   
  • providing essential soap, water and handwashing training. 
  • ensuring urgent health messages get through to help keep people safe. 
  • working through their networks of church partners and faith-based organisations to reach the most vulnerable at this critical time.

If you would like to help there are still ways you can donate :

  • go online to www.christianaid.org
  • by telephone, call 020 7523 2269

Sign up on the website or download daily prayers, reflections and fun quizzes!

Thank you,

Maureen


Latest News,

On the RRBC website there is now a short audio service to listen to on a Sunday morning, and join in the songs. 
If you want to listen and do not have internet, then we can do something through Zoom.  You will need to phone in to do this – please speak to Laura if you would like to.