The Third Rocky Road Epistle Chapter 10

Mothering Sunday, or Mother’s Day as it is often known, is a day that produces mixed emotions.  While for some it will be a day to celebrate with family, albeit within lockdown restrictions, for others it will be a reminder of those we no longer have around and whose love and care we once valued.  For all of us though it is an important day for celebrating care and love shown by God and mirrored by the church. 

We can trust in God’s love and know that His way and timing are perfect.  Sadly, at times we rush into things, even to show care and love, without pausing for breath.  Breath of our own and the breath of the Holy Spirit guiding our lives.

When I was at university, Psalm 131 was known as the exam psalm because of the line “I am not concerned with great matters or with subjects too difficult for me”. (Good News version).  It seems apt today as we celebrate Mothering Sunday.  The Message version which we have printed on the right is also apt as we seek God’s way forward for RRBC.  Not presuming we know all the answers but listening to God’s guidance and to each other.

Here is an apt cartoon about a sacrifical gift for Mothering Sunday.


Zoom Bible Study

On Wednesday 17th March 7.15pm for 7.30pm start, “Giving our all”

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. How do you react when demands are made of you?  Or when you are under intense pressure?

Read Matthew 14 v.10-21, plus John 6 v.5-9

  1. What did John the Baptist’s death mean to Jesus? 
  2. How would you have reacted if you were in Jesus’ shoes on seeing the crowd appear?  Especially when all you humanly wanted was the solitude, in the midst of your sorrow, to recover and recharge.
  3. How is Jesus an example of sacrificial giving or “giving his all” in this situation?  Why was he able to do this? 
  4. How were the disciples challenged to give what they could?  What limited their response? Should we always “give our all” or are their times where we need to recognise our limits and stand back?
  5. The lad gave up his meal, it could have meant he ended up with a few crumbs to eat that day.  How is his action a challenge or encouragement to us?

You may like to use this prayer from the material,

Jesus, I feel I have so little in the face of the world's needs.
So little time, resources, compassion and energy.
There are times when I am overwhelmed by my emotions and with the needs around me.
But you have all the resources, compassion and energy.
Help me to bring my bread and fish, my small contribution,
trusting you will multiply it and use it for your glory. Amen


Reflection

From Phillip  “A Sacrificial Journey”
Based on Isaiah 53:1-10, Hebrews 13:15-6

“Sacrifice” is one of those terms which has a different meaning in everyday life to what is meant when it is used in the Bible.  All of us can talk about sacrifices we have had to make during the last year, because of lockdowns, the lack of personal freedoms and so on.  We can also talk about sacrifices we might make for Lent, such as giving up chocolate or desserts.  But to find the true Biblical meaning of the word we need first to look at the idea in the Old Testament.

In the book of Leviticus, chapter 16, we read about the Day of Atonement, one day in the year when God dealt with the people’s sins through the death of a sacrificial lamb and the sacrifice of a “scapegoat”.  On a set day the High Priest would place his hands on the head of a chosen goat to symbolically transfer the guilt of the people from them onto the animal.  The creature was then sent away to symbolically carry all of Israel’s sin, pain and sorrow out into the wilderness. 

Continuing in the Old Testament, the Prophet Isaiah wrote about the coming of the Messiah and described him as God’s sacrificial lamb who would take up our pain and bear our sorrow.  In the humanity of Jesus, we see someone who was fully aware of our “wilderness emotions” of sadness, pain and sorrow.  In the gospels Jesus’ emotions are recorded several times so we know he knew them and felt them in the same way as we do.  For example, in a previous reflection we saw how Jesus wept at the tomb when his friend Lazarus had died.  He also wept over the fate of Jerusalem (Luke 19 v.41) and in Matthew chapter 14 we read of Jesus mourning the death of John the Baptist after his cruel beheading on the orders of Herod.  We truly have a God who through living with us on earth knows what it means to carry the human experiences of grief and pain, sadness and loss.  This is part of who Jesus is.

Isaiah went on the describe the Messiah in these words,
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.  By oppression and judgment he was taken away.  Yet who of his generation protested?  For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.  (Isaiah 53 v.7-8)

Whatever wilderness experiences we deal with, be it pain, anguish, loss, or depravation, Jesus understands.  He has carried our pain on his shoulders on the cross.  He has become our scapegoat, carrying our sins, struggles and sorrows.  He went out alone into the wilderness so that ultimately, we may be healed, restored, and made whole.

In the New Testament, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews clearly sees Jesus as the fulfilment of Isaiah’s sacrificial lamb.  “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10 v.14).  We, by our own efforts, cannot make ourselves right with God.  Only Jesus can, and did, do that for us.  So, any sacrifices we make, be it at Lent or whenever, are not done in order to earn God’s favour.  Yet there are sacrifices we are called to make.  Sacrifices of praise and sacrifices of doing good and sharing with other people. 

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.  And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.  (Hebrews 13 v.15-6).

The sacrifice we bring is the sacrifice of response.  Seeing how Jesus dealt with our sorrow and shame we should be inspired and empowered to bring our praise and our service.  We can worship God with our lips in songs and prayers and we can worship God with generosity and compassion towards other people. 

Next week’s theme will be “A Truth Speaking Journey” from the material
“Worship in the Wilderness – Journey with Jesus through the desert for Lent”
by Sara and Sam Hargreaves (founders of the Music and Worship Foundation).

Calling all Knitters

Can you knit?  We are planning something different this year to catch people’s attention.  This involves knitting little Easter Eggs.  So if you can knit please contact Margaret Shaw for more details on the pattern and get knitting!  More information next week on our plans.


Dates

Saturday 27th March -   socially distanced spring clean of the building in the morning

Sunday 28th March –    Reopening for morning service inside our building on Palm Sunday

Sunday 4th April -          Easter Sunday morning, we hope to
hold a service outdoors on our carpark, provided singing outdoors is allowed
and the weather is reasonable!

Songs for Sunday

1. Here is love vast as the ocean,
loving kindness as the flood,
when the Prince of life, our ransom,
shed for us His precious blood.
Who His love will not remember;
who can cease to sing His praise?
He can never be forgotten
throughout heaven’s eternal days.

2. On the Mount of Crucifixion
fountains opened deep and wide;
through the floodgates of God’s mercy
flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Grace and love, like mighty rivers,
poured incessant from above,
and Heaven’s peace and perfect justice
kissed a guilty world in love.

William Rees (1802-83)

1. I will offer up my life
in spirit and truth
pouring out the oil of love
as my worship to You.
In surrender I must give
my every part;
Lord, receive the sacrifice
of a broken heart.

Jesus, what can I give, what can I bring
To so faithful a friend, to so loving a King?
Saviour, what can be said, what can be sung
As a praise of Your name
For the things You have done?
Oh, my words could not tell, not even in part,
Of the debt of love that is owed by this thankful heart.

2. You deserve my every breath,
for You’ve paid the great cost;
giving up Your life to death,
even death on a cross.
You took all my shame away,
there defeated my sin,
opened up the gates of heaven,
and have beckoned me in.
Jesus, what can I give, …

Matt Redman © 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 the internet, we have now paid to have a “Dial-a-Service” facility.  Telephone 01536 909787 and 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 always has some interesting things on as well. 


Prayer of intercession

For Mothering Sunday from “The Children’s Society”

Father God,
We thank you that you have created and called us as your children.  You have shown us your love in Jesus and opened your arms to welcome us home.  Help us to understand more of your love, its breadth and depth, it's fathering and mothering, and as we rest in its abundance and infinity give us generous hearts to share your love with others.
Thank you for always being there for us, Hear us, God our Father

Nurturing God,
We thank you for those people you put in our lives who have cared for and guided us.
We pray for all those in mothering roles, those who find great joy in this, and those who struggle.  We pray for all mothers who are struggling to be the parent they want to be.  We pray for the barriers that face them and the chains that ensnare, whether that be past experiences, circumstance, or difficult choices.
We pray for mothers who are grieving today, or who face the daily battle of illness.
Where there is darkness, may you bring light, where there is despair, may you bring hope, where there is turmoil, may you bring peace.  And where your love is needed most, call forth people who can carry that to all those mothers who need it today.
Help us to recognise what we can offer.

Thank you for always being there for us, Hear us, God our Father

Compassionate God,
We thank you that you do not judge as the world judges, you do not show favour to status or wealth.  Instead, your heart is for the poor and the vulnerable,
Into your loving arms, we place those children in need today.  You see behind the front doors, and the headlines, and the fronts we can all create, to the reality that is so often hidden.

We pray for those children whose reality is difficult, for those who live in poverty, in turmoil, or in fear, for those who are in danger of abuse or are being abused, for those whose lives are affected by drugs or alcohol.  We thank you, God, that these vulnerable children are known and named by you, and we thank you that help is there for them through agencies like The Children's Society, and they are not invisible.
Open our eyes to the needs around us,
Take away our judgements and enlarge our understanding.
May we be ever mindful of the grace we have received, and extend that grace to others.
Thank you for always being there for us, Hear us, God our Father

Challenging God,

We thank you for all those who work to bring justice for all children. 
We pray for those working to bring out the potential of each child, whether in care, or in a refugee camp, bless those who work with young carers, or help those children who have run away from home.  We pray that you will give those working with vulnerable children and their families wisdom, insight, patience, professionalism, and something more of your heart.
May lives be changed, the past redeemed and the future become one of hope.
Give them the voice to call out the good from each in their care, and the words to challenge the structures that create barriers and injustice. 
May we open our ears to hear the message they tell, our eyes to the reality of so many in our midst and our hearts to act on behalf of them.
Thank you for always being there for us, Hear us, God our Father

Please pray for our Mission of the Month – The Gideons,

and for our BU link missionaries Mark and Andrea Hotchkins, whose returned to Chad has been delayed due to Mark being unwell.  They hope to go back early April.