The Third Rocky Road Epistle Chapter 4

As I write this, on Monday morning, I am looking out on a snow-covered garden. Snow looks beautiful in the sunlight yet is dangerous for anyone travelling. I wonder what you prayed when you saw the snow falling?  Was it the same as in the cartoon?

Unfortunately for our neighbours’ sons across the road, current on-line lessons mean the school is still open!

As many of you will be aware Wednesday 27th January is International Holocaust Memorial Day. A day on which to remember the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, alongside the millions of other people killed under Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

The theme for Holocaust Memorial Day (HMD) 2021 is “Be the light in the darkness”. They encourage “everyone to reflect on the depths humanity can sink to, but also the ways in which individuals and communities resisted that darkness to ‘be the light’ before, during and after genocide.”

Jesus is the light of the world (John 8 v.12). He has called us to be lights.

"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Matt 5:14-16

Even one candle makes a difference in the darkness. Let us choose to “be the light in the darkness” shining the light of Jesus who is the light of the world.

This week we are carrying on with our Wellbeing Journey, based on the story of Elijah.
The reflections, together with the Bible Studies, are based on the book “God’s Plan for Your Wellbeing” written by the author and church leader Dave Smith  
This week’s theme is Spiritual Wellbeing,

Next week’s theme will be
“Relational Wellbeing”.


Reflection

From Phillip based on 1 Kings 19 v.8B-18
“Spiritual Wellbeing”

It is a stupid thing to drive a car with the fuel gauge on empty. I have never actually run out of petrol, but I did once continue driving with the gauge reading zero. The relief of finishing the journey was tempered the next day by a stuttering engine – the near empty tank had resulted in dirt from the bottom being drawn into the carburettor. Similarly, we need to keep our spiritual reserves well stocked as you cannot motor around on (or near) empty.

Elijah the prophet was spiritually drained. It is not clear exactly why, but I am going to suggest three reasons, all of which may have had a negative impact on his spiritual wellbeing. First physical and emotional exhaustion, second, tiredness and third, the intense spiritual high at Mount Carmel may have left him vulnerable to a spiritual “low”. None of us will have the same experiences as Elijah, indeed all of us are unique, but all of us are capable of being exhausted, tired and feeling low.

The good news for Elijah was that God didn’t leave him to wallow in self-pity. As we have seen in previous weeks God fed him, gave him rest and strengthen him physically for a journey to Mount Horeb. There in a cave God came to Elijah and asked him, "Elijah, what are you doing here?" (v13). Now if you think about it, God did not need to ask that question. In fact, the Lord who knows everything, who knows our very thoughts before they appear in our mind, has no need to ask of his children any questions at all. But God did ask it, to confront Elijah and cause him to think about the situation. Elijah’s answer explains how he saw it, for the word that strikes me is the word "I".

I have been very zealous for the Lord God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”  (v14)

But praise the Lord, God's ways are not our ways. Elijah wanted another thunderbolt, the earth to shake and swallow up his enemies, and although their demise was to come, it was not going to happen in the way Elijah thought.

For as Elijah stood by the mouth of his cave a great and powerful wind tore the mountain apart, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake there was a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. Then after the fire came a gentle whisper, a murmur which unlike the wind and earthquake and fire drew Elijah out of the cave to meet with God.

The Lord desires us to spend time alone with Him. This call to solitude and being in the presence of God is not the same as isolation. Rather, solitude, spending time alone with someone who knows and loves us completely, is central to our spiritual wellbeing. Theologian Henri Nouwen wrote:

“without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. We don’t take the spiritual life seriously if we do not set aside some time to be with God and listen to him.”

The greatest example of this is Jesus himself, who throughout his earthly ministry prioritised time alone with God (see for example Mark 1 v35; 6 v46). But Jesus is not just our example, he is also our mediator. Since we are living after His death, resurrection and ascension and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, we do not have to go to a holy mountain to meet with God. Rather, in Jesus, God has come to be with us – and through the new birth and the infilling of the Holy Spirit, Christians have the Lord’s presence inside us (see 1 Corinthians 3 v16; 6 v19). This means that, in the words of the seventeenth-century believer Brother Lawrence, we can learn to

“practise the presence of God” in the ebb and flow of our daily lives. It is not so much that we need to pray, “God, please be with me”, but “help me be more aware of the reality of Your presence in and with me all of the time”.


Zoom Bible Study

On Wednesday 27th January at 7.15pm for 7.30pm start,
“Spiritual Wellbeing”

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.

  1. “You have made us for Yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” St. Augustine of Hippo. Does this ring true for you?

Read Psalm 5

  1. What is making the psalmist restless spiritually?  What does he desire?
  2. What do we learn about his view of God?
  3. What does he commit himself to?
  4. What do we learn about prayer?  Does James 4 v.8 help?
  5. In v.8 the Psalmist asks God to direct him on. Spiritual life is a growing relationship with God. We all need to keep on spiritually with God. What steps can you take to develop your relationship with God?

You may find helpful the principle of SOAP by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro in looking at the Bible.

S: Scripture –         deliberately pause on a verse or passage

O: Observation –   ask questions about what it is saying

A: Application –     consider how this Scripture applies to you

P: Pray –                 talk to God in the light of what you sense Him saying to you


Prayers

Taken from the service for the Holocaust Memorial Day 2021

God of love we pray for the victims of the Holocaust and of genocides in other parts of the world.
Forgive the times we have followed ways of our own choosing. Set us in paths of righteousness, for your name’s sake.
Forgive the times we have failed to share your light. Give us courage to share your light, together.
Let your light shine on us, O God, that we might live. Open our eyes and renew us, for in your light we see light   Amen

Called to be a light: A litany

When faced with religious discrimination,
When faced with a global pandemic that threatens our wellbeing,
Jesus calls us to be a light shining in the darkness.

When faced with the darkness of shame and rejection,
When faced with human beings not being treated in a dignified manner,
Jesus calls us to be a light shining in the darkness.

When faced with discrimination for 'being different',
When faced with injustices caused in the name of religion,
Jesus calls us to be a light shining in the darkness.

When faced with people who are unable to live in their own countries and homelands,
When faced with a lack of generosity towards refugees and migrants,
Jesus calls us to be a light shining in the darkness.

When faced with genocide,
When faced with denial of the Holocaust,
Jesus calls us to be a light shining in the darkness.

We look to the light of Jesus, so that as we reflect his light in the world, it is filled with the harvest of his good works.
Amen.

Please pray for our “Mission of the month” - Home Mission.


Songs for Sunday

1) Be still, for the presence of the Lord,
the Holy One is here;
come bow before Him now
with reverence and fear:
in Him no sin is found –
We stand on holy ground.
Be still, for the presence of the Lord,
the Holy One is here.

2) Be still, for the glory of the Lord,     
is shining all around;
He burns with holy fire,
with splendour He is crowned:
how awesome is the sight –
our radiant King of light!
Be still, for the glory of the Lord,
is shining all around.

3) Be still, for the power of the Lord,
is moving in this place;
He comes to cleanse and heal,
to minister his grace –
no work too hard for Him.
In faith receive from Him.
Be still, for the power of the Lord,
is moving in this place.

David Evans
© 1986 ThankYou Music CCLI #5638

1) My peace I give unto you,
it’s a peace that the world cannot give,
it’s a peace that the world cannot understand:
peace to know, peace to live,
My peace I give unto you.

2) My joy I give unto you,
it’s a joy that the world cannot give,
it’s a joy that the world cannot understand:
joy to know, joy to live,
My joy I give unto you.

3) My love I give unto you,
it’s a love that the world cannot give,
it’s a love that the world cannot understand:
love to know, love to live,
My love I give unto you.

Keith Routledge
© 1975 Sovereign Music UK CCLI #5638


Listening to a recording of our 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.

Don’t forget our Facebook page which always has some interesting things on as well.