The Second Rocky Road Epistle Chapter 6

The third Sunday of Advent and one more Sunday to go before we are in Christmas week.  How are your preparations going this year?  For some in our society Christmas has equalled rushing around and a great deal of activity previously.

We are lighting an advent candle for peace this Sunday, yet peace is not usually a description of Christmas in this country.  But this year?  With the restrictions have you more time to think about the real “reason for the season”?  The peace that the Holy Spirit brings to our lives is not the absence of noise or the lack of difficult circumstances or even the chance to put your feet up.  Peace means a sense of inner calm, inner wholeness, in any, and every, circumstance that we face.  Peace that we can only gain through spending time with God.  I came across this creed which reminds us to be willing to wait on God in prayer. 

We believe in God the Father, creator of heaven and earth.
The one who is full of patience,
who is not afraid of silence,
who does not need to fill each moment with activity and noise.
The one who is beyond bluster and flurry,
and who does not jostle for attention.

We believe in God the Son, Saviour of creation,
who slipped into Bethlehem one night, mostly unnoticed,
who lived thirty years without headlines or hurry,
who frequently took time alone with his patient Father,
who waited for the right time to become the suffering servant,
who stood quietly before the noise of his accusers,
whose silence overpowered their words,
who died, then rose again on a quiet Sunday morning.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens, empowers, renews and refreshes,
Sometimes arriving with obvious power,
sometimes with the quiet breath of a whisper.

We believe in one God
who patiently waits for us,
and who longs for us to do the same.

© Dave Hopwood/engageworship.org


Christmas Dates …

Sunday 20th –              provided the weather is suitable, the intention is to start outside at 10:45am with a few carols and then retreat into the church for the rest of the service. 

Christmas Eve 24th –   on Zoom - Communion at 7.30pm, followed by Coffee and mince pies
please supply your own consumables!

Christmas Day 25th –   a short Christmas Day service at 10 o’clock (note earlier time)

Sunday 27th –               morning service at 10:45am


Reflection

From Phillip on Matthew 1:18-25 “Peace in the Margins” Joseph

The first image we have of Joseph in Matthew 1:18 is of a man torn by doubt and riddled with uncertainty.  The problem was that his intended, his betrothed, Mary, was pregnant and he wasn’t the father.  Joseph felt let down, sad, angry and confused.  How could this have happened, what had she done, what have I done that she has been so unfaithful to me?  For Joseph and his loved one Mary were betrothed to be married, at least Joseph thought they were betrothed, but how had she come to commit adultery and what was to be done now?

“Adultery”, the very word must have resounded in Joseph's brain.  Why had she done it and what was to be done?  Old Testament law in Deuteronomy, gave stoning as the penalty for unfaithfulness before marriage, not that it was carried out very much now, most men just divorced their wives and Joseph did love Mary and did not want to hurt her.  Perhaps he could marry her and love her and pretend that the child was his own, but Mary had told him this strange story about an angel and about the Holy Spirit.  No, he had better put it out of his mind and have her stoned, but again what if Mary was telling the truth, what if the child really was special, was holy.  No, perhaps he’d better just divorce her quietly.

You can picture all of this going on in Joseph's head and then all of a sudden things became clearer.  Modern translations of the Bible state rather calmly in verse 20, that an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, which is correct, but I like the drama of the old translations that write, Behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him.   There is something about the word “Behold”; it is a “Wow moment” that makes us sit up and take notice.  Rather like a piece of music changing the mood quickly, from something quiet and peaceful to something rousing and stirring.  That is what happened to Joseph.  Amid his introspective melancholy, an angel of the Lord appeared to him – Wow!

The angel came at the right moment for Joseph, for he was in trouble, in the very pits of despair, and it was into his situation that the angel came.  If you are feeling like Joseph this Christmas season then take heart, because time and time again the Bible shows us that it is at such moments that God intervenes.

The message the angel gave to Joseph was to fulfil a prophecy that a virgin would conceive and give birth to a son.  The words come from the Old Testament, from Isaiah chapter 7, a wonderful, beautiful promise spoken by God through the prophet Isaiah, to a nation walking in great darkness and not knowing which way to turn.  The king, Ahaz, was so depressed his faith was paralysed and he wouldn't himself ask God for a sign.  In moments like these God may feel frustrated by our unbelief, but it will not stop him acting.  For to US a child is born, to US a son is given.

God's response to our time of trouble is to reveal himself.  The first function of the scriptures is to reveal to us the living God, not just as a great and distant monarch, but as our near and present-moment companion.  God came alongside Joseph to reassure him and give him peace.  Not that everything was then easy for Joseph, it wasn’t, but comforted by knowing that God had planned what was happening, he took Mary as his wife and brought Jesus up as his son. 

Christmas is a wonderful time.  It shows us the lengths that God went to in order to reveal himself to us and is still here today.  He meets with us, particularly at times of trouble and need.  Thank God that Christmas is of his making.  That there is a God, a God of love who sent Jesus - Emmanuel - God with us and as Jesus himself promised us he is still with us until the end of the age.  For Jesus wants to live with us, and the more and more we let him reign in our lives, so the more of his peace and presence we shall know.

Next week we continue Advent with the theme “Joy in the Margins” Shepherds


Zoom Bible Study

Wednesday 16th December at 7.15pm for 7.30pm start

Matthew 1:18 - 25

All are welcome to join - please ask Laura for details.  Or if you prefer to do this Bible Study at home, then read the passages several times and consider the following questions.

Questions

  1. What jumps off the page at you?
  2. What does the passage tell us about Mary, Joseph and their relationship with each other and their relationship with God?
  3. How do you think Joseph and Mary regarded the “law and the prophets” and is our attitude any different? If so, how is it?
  4. What might the message “God with us” have meant in practical terms for Joseph and family?
  5. What might the message “God with us” mean for us today:
    a) emotionally?
    b) practically?
  6. How will you welcome the Christ Child?

(From the Scottish Bible Society)


Prayer

(By Sam Hargreaves, www.engageworship.org.uk)

God, today we choose to "Hark",
to listen to your voice,
to be still and know that you are God with us.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.

God, we hear your promise of "peace on earth",
but we know that the nations have not yet embraced your peace.
God, we pray for Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan,
and all other places where there is war, anger and broken lives.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.

God, we hear about the "incarnate Deity",
that you were pleased to dwell with us in flesh and blood.
May we know you as Emmanuel, God with us,
and may we share your presence with those around us.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.

God, we hear that Jesus was "born that we no more may die."
Be with those who are grieving at this time.
Help us to embrace your promise of second birth and resurrection,
and live it out even here on earth.
Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the new-born King.

Please pray for Wellingborough Baptist Church and their minister Rev Duncan Wright 

Please remember our “Mission of the month” – Spurgeon’s Childcare.


Songs for Sunday

1.    Hark the glad sound! the Saviour comes
the Saviour promised long;
let every heart prepare a throne,
and every voice a song.

2.    He comes, the prisoners to release
in Satan’s bondage held;
the chains of sin before Him break,
the iron fetters yield.

3.    He comes, the broken heart to bind,
the wounded soul to cure;
and with the treasures of His grace
to bless the humble poor.

4.    Our glad Hosannas, Prince of peace,
Your welcome shall proclaim;
and heaven’s eternal arches ring
with your belovèd name.

Philip Doddridge (1702-51),
alt©1986 Horrobin/Leavers, CCLI #5638

1. Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright,
round yon virgin, mother and child;
holy infant, so tender and mild,
sleep in heavenly peace,
sleep in heavenly peace.

2. Silent night, holy night,
Shepherds quake at the sight,
glories stream from heaven afar,
heav'nly hosts sing alleluia:
Christ, the Saviour is born,
Christ, the Saviour is born.

3. Silent night, holy night,
Son of God, love's pure light,
radiant beams from thy holy face,
with the dawn of redeeming grace:
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth,
Jesus, Lord, at thy birth.

Joseph Mohr (1792-1848)

CCLI No. 5638


Information

Listening to a recording of an audio service

If you have the internet, then go to our website (www.rrbc.org.uk) where you will find a recording under the audio files.

If you are not on internet, we have now paid to have a “Dial-a-Service” facility.  If you phone 01536 909787 you will be able to listen to a recording of the service on your telephone.  The cost, around 30p a call, is covered by the church.