The Fourth Rocky Road Epistle Chapter 7

Covid has brought all sorts of restrictions to us over the last 16 months. Amongst them has been the order to stop singing as a congregation in church. However I suggest it could also be seen as a good thing as it has stopped us taking things for granted and losing the reason for coming to church. With everything stripped away we can still worship.

There is a lovely song by Matt Redman called “When the music fades” which includes these words

When the music fades, all is stripped away, and I simply come
Longing just to bring something that’s of worth that will bless your heart

The song describes what happened after Matt Redman’s church in Watford literally pulled the plug on their renowned band playing for worship. The church had lost their way in worship, they were enjoying being entertained at services at the expense of worshipping God. The pastor, Mike Pilavachi, asked his congregation what they were bringing to God in worship, or if they were just there as consumers soaking up the music. In that instance the only solution was to remove every diversion and distraction, including the sound system and the worship band. Slowly the church rediscovered true worship. As the song says

I’m coming back to the heart of worship, and it’s all about You, Jesus

It is worth asking ourselves “what am I bringing to God in worship?” or challenging ourselves “am I there as a consumer?”. We may not be able to sing together for several more months, but we can still seek to bless God’s heart and bring worship centred on Jesus. Hopefully we will be able to sing together soon but, more importantly, our singing should be worship -giving God the glory He deserves.

As we “build back better” at RRBC (see last week’s chapter) let us be open to what God wants us to be and do. It is not the time for coping with the damage of lockdown by “papering over the cracks” or “rearranging the deck chairs” or whatever expression you choose. Instead let us embrace this God-given opportunity brought through the crisis to start afresh. For this we need to seek the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit. God wants the church to grow spiritually and numerically and we all have a part to play in this. Praying and, in anything we do as a fellowship, being welcoming and inclusive.

As soon as we can there are two important areas to restart. One is welcoming people arriving at services. My thanks go to Maureen Brown, Chris Fleet and Michael Farey, in particular, who have carried on this valuable ministry during lockdown. The other is coffee after the service. Going forward we need people to help. We have a rota which we will circulate soon. In the meantime, please speak to Janet Chivers if you can contribute in either of these ways to join the rota. Or tell Janet if you are on the rota but would struggle to help at the moment. When we have open-air services we will serve coffee outside, please speak to Maureen if you can help with this.

One thing that will not be continuing are these chapters, so this is the final one. After 63 chapters it seems time to draw these four epistles to a close. My thanks go to Phillip for his writing and patient help in producing them, to Nick Cook and Roy Smith for all their expert broadcasting of them, to Margaret Shaw for diligently delivering them and to Mark Jones for the times when he was able to help with the distribution.

These chapters have had a twofold aim of giving spiritual support and passing on information.

The first aim is now covered by our morning service, which everyone can access either in person or by listening to a recording through

  • Our Facebook page,
  • Our website
  • Our “Dial-a-Service” facility. Telephone 01536 909787 to listen to a recording of the service, cost to you is at your normal call rate, extra costs are covered by RRBC

Our second aim, information linked to church life, will be covered by producing some sort of monthly notice sheet to be available on a Sunday morning. Plus the invaluable prayer diary will be available at church too.

Bible Studies will carry on meeting through Zoom. Dates for the next ones are 30th June, 14th July, 28th July. The Meeting ID is 429 588 385 please ask Laura for the Passcode. If you want to be involved with the Bible Study and would like to know the questions beforehand you will have to let Laura know.

On Thursdays, from 2pm to 4pm (weather permitting) Craft and Chat: Margaret Shaw is going to be on the church carpark, near the entrance, doing some craft. We pray that others from the local community would see this and want to join her as well.

Saturday 3rd July for a church "day", either lunch plus afternoon or morning and then lunch!

Church meetings following church on Sundays are on the following dates:

  • 25th July
  • 26th September
  • 28th November

Deacons' meetings, also following church on Sundays are on the following dates:

  • 13th June
  • 11th July
  • 12th September
  • 3rd October
  • 31st October
  • 5th December

Open Air services

These will be on the last Sunday in the month of June, July and August, weather permitting.

Communion service on first Sunday of the month

Please pray for our Mission of the Month – Manna Publications.

Over the next few weeks we are continung a series looking at Old Testament Characters and how aspects of their lives parallel that of Christ’s.

This week it is Joseph, the service on 20th June is led by Maureen, Chris and Margaret, then our service on 27th June will be an Open Air (weather permitting) on Samson.


Reflection

From Laura, “Parallels to Christ” - in the life of Joseph
Genesis 45 v.3-15

We looked at Joseph nearly a year ago in the context of someone who was put into lockdown forcibly. Joseph is well known for having a multicoloured coat, probably a long-sleeved coat and certainly a special coat which marked him out as his Dad’s favourite. A fact that increased his brothers’ dislike of him. The story of his dreams, of being sold into slavery, of being slandered by Potiphar’s wife and thrown into jail are well known, particularly through Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s “Joseph and his Technicolour Dream Coat” which you might well be humming by now!

Through God’s blessing and his God-given gift of interpreting dreams Joseph’s situation was transformed and, incredibly, from being a prisoner Joseph became lord over Pharoah’s household and ruler of Egypt (v.8). Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt a second time to beg for more grain for their starving families, bowing down to this high-ranking and fear-inducing Egyptian official. The passage starts by Joseph telling his brothers who he really is, and it is not surprising that they needed some convincing that this powerful man was their annoying brother Joseph. Joseph explained how he clearly saw God’s hand in his life and experiences leading to the current situation. He mentioned the brothers selling him into slavery (v.5), telling them not to be angry with themselves because God’s plan to send Joseph to Egypt (v.5) had been put into operation. In fact, Joseph said “God sent me” twice more (v.7,8) and linked it to God’s scheme to save the family. His message to his father Jacob (v 9) emphasised that God was behind all these events.

Derek Tidball (retired principle of London Bible College) writes

Behind the tragedies they’d experienced was a good God at work, arranging both for the deliverance of starving Egyptians and the renewal of a broken Hebrew family.”

There are many parallels in Joseph’s life to that of Christ’s. However, as with all the Old Testament characters we are looking at, Joseph was not sinless nor without blame. Only Jesus was without sin. Thus any parallels must not be pushed too far.

  • God’s plan was in place for saving Jacob and his family, plans which involved dreams, betrayal, and false imprisonment.
  • God’s plan for salvation was in place from the beginning of creation (Ephesians 1 v.4), plans including dreams, betrayal, and false arrest.
  • Joseph said he was sent by God ahead of the rest of the family (v.7).
  • Jesus was sent by God, though he was sent willingly. He is the pioneer of salvation (Hebrews 2 v.10)
  • Joseph was the beloved son who suffered so that he might save his family.
  • Jesus is God’s beloved son, who suffered to save others. Unlike Joseph, Jesus gave his life in the process.

The rest of chapter 45 describes how Pharaoh heard the news and lavished good gifts on the family. This included land in Goshen being set aside as a new home for Jacob and his family. Similarly, we are blessed by our generous God through Christ, who supplies all our needs (Philippians 4 v.19).

In the passage, verse 15, speaks of relationships restored between Joseph and his brothers. The brothers were now set free from their guilt of wrongdoing and as a result their father was set free from his sorrow. Derek Tidball again

Deliverance was accomplished only through Joseph’s suffering and sacrifice and only became effective when the brothers repented.”

Then they could enter into the new life in Egypt.

Through Christ’s suffering on the cross we can be set free to enter into new life. We are forgiven, but we have to acknowledge our sin and repent to be able to receive this forgiveness and enter into God’s blessing of new life.


Since this is the last chapter I thought I would finish with a few closing remarks.

Rev Geoff Colmer, our regional minister who has just become President of the Baptist Union, has taken as his theme for his presidential year “Attentive to Rhythms of Grace”. The phrase “Rhythms of Grace” comes from Matthew 11 v.28-30 in the Message version of the Bible by Eugene Peterson.

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.”

I would encourage you to pause and let these words sink into your heart.

Writing in the latest “Baptist Together” magazine Geoff comments that this approach is “based on the expectation that God is to be found in the very ordinary as well as the extraordinary parts of life.” Geoff challenges us to “Give our entire attention to what God is doing right now”.

Based on the passage in Matthew 6 v.34 which in the NIV reads

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

In the Message Version it reads

Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

God will help us when the time comes and supply what we need.

As the missionary Hudson Taylor, who founded the China Inland Mission said

Let us see that we keep God before our eyes; that we walk in His ways and seek to please and glorify Him in everything great and small. Depend on it, God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies.”

A couple of other thoughts

“Every day may not be good, but there's something good in every day”. – Alice Morse Earle.

As mentioned, a few chapters ago, Rita looks for something everyday that God has sent to brighten up her day.

Let us look to see what God is doing now, to see His blessing or something good in our lives or a glimpse of His love. Let us walk and work with Jesus, learning his rhythms of Grace in our lives.

Geoff Colmer invites us to join him in this daily prayer:-

Gracious Lord,
by your Spirit,
turn my whole being to you
that I might live this day
‘attentive to rhythms of grace’
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen