The Third Rocky Road Epistle Chapter 11

Sunday 21st March is World Poetry Day, a celebration of the beauty of words and how we communicate.  As someone who struggles with her hearing, what people say to me and what I hear are not always the same thing!  Or if someone is telling a joke they often drop their voice for the punch line!  In poetry meaning and images are often conveyed by simple words carefully placed.  Our Bible reading from Ezekiel is about God’s word putting things in their place, to be precise bones in the valley of dry bones, which reminds me of the old song which starts,

Ezekiel connected dem dry bones,
Ezekiel connected dem dry bones,
Ezekiel in the Valley of Dry Bones,
Now hear the word of the Lord.

Toe bone connected to the foot bone
Foot bone connected to the heel bone
Heel bone connected to the ankle bone
Ankle bone connected to the shin bone

and so on…“Hear the word of the Lord”, we need to hear God’s word of truth and obey it.  As a church we need to hear and to speak out God’s word through our words and actions to a needy, dry world.

Last week I put the above in.

Thank you to those who have responded so far, we are hoping to produce at least 60 eggs between us.  Some will be hung in a line with a message spelt out on from a letter on each egg.  The rest will be for people to take, attach a tract to and put (or hang) out the front of their house or nearby for others to take and hopefully read.  We pray that through this we will give some cheer to others and that they would “hear the word of the Lord”.  We can all be involved by praying for this and seeing what God does through our speaking out. 

Next week is Palm Sunday and our theme is “A Surprising 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).

Zoom Bible Study

On Wednesday 24th March 7.15pm for 7.30pm start,

“Good Memory in Dark Places”

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. What is your earliest memory of God at work in your life?
    Read Exodus 14 v.10-14, 16 v.3
  2. How good is the memory of the Israelites in their “dark” place? 
    Is it true what they are saying to themselves and to each other? 
    Read Ephesians 6 v.10-20
  3. How can having a good memory of God’s word and what God has done in the past help you be protected in struggles or temptations?
  4. St Paul urges the Ephesians to stand firm in the battle against the devil’s stratagems. 
    How are we susceptible to instability as Christians?
  5. Which piece of armour do you lack or which piece seems very apt at the moment?

Reflection

From Laura on “A Truth Speaking Journey”
Based on Ezekiel 37 v.1-14, Matthew 4 v,4-11

The term wilderness can be used to describe a dry, barren place where there seems no life, like a desert.  It can also be used to describe a situation, where mentally or spiritually, we feel we are in a wilderness.  In the passage from Ezekiel the people describe their situation as “Our bones are dried up and our hope is gone, we are cut off” (v.11).  Over ten years before the nation had been torn away from their homes and their land, and taken into exile in Babylon.  They were cut off from worshipping God in Jerusalem and they had heard the news that the temple was now in ruins.  No wonder the people felt despair at the hopelessness of their situation.  God seemed far away, and they felt like dry bones with no life. 

Into this situation came God’s word to Ezekiel, which the prophet is to speak out.  A valley of dry bones sounds absolutely hopeless, and God asked Ezekiel a seemingly impossible question, “can these bones live?” (v.3).  Ezekiel might have been tempted to say forget it God, they are beyond living, or did he have a sense that God could transform even the most humanly hopeless situation, for he replied, “Sovereign Lord, you alone know.”  Then God told Ezekiel to tell the bones to “hear the word of the Lord” - to hear God’s creative and restoring word, and on hearing the bones came together as bodies.  Then God told Ezekiel to speak again - this time God’s life-giving Spirit came and brought life to the dead.  Lastly God gave Ezekiel a prophecy to say to the people - a promise that God would transform their situation; he would raise them from their deadness and return them back to the land of Israel and would put his spirit in them (v.12-14).  This did not happen straight away; it was to be another 60 years before some people returned to their land.  Yet these words of hope that Ezekiel spoke were words that would be hung onto in the wilderness of exile.  Truths that people could remind each other of during their time of despair. 

In the passage from Matthew, we read that Jesus knew and spoke God’s word to the devil when he was tempted.  Knowing that Jesus was tempted should encourage us because he is able to help us when we are tempted (Hebrews 2 v. 18).  Knowing God’s word helps us in our struggles, for that we need to be reading it and spending time trying to understand it better.  St Peter tells us that the devil is liken a roaring lion seeking to devour Christians but reminds us that we can resist the evil one by standing firm in the faith (1 Peter 5 v.8,9).  As John Bunyan described in Pilgrim’s Progress, the Devil is a chained lion.  We can stand firm because of Easter.

We might look at the state of the world or hear of desperately sad situations where there seems no sign of life.  Or we might feel overwhelmed by what we are facing or feel spiritually dry.  Or possibly we feel useless with God seeming miles away and be struggling with temptation.  This poem:

Those dry bones get everywhere.
In the workplaces and job centres,
in the homes and high streets,
in the schools and colleges.

Those dry bones get everywhere.
In the shops and sports arenas,
in the places of entertainment
and the centres of leisure.

Those dry bones get everywhere.
Sprinkling their lifeless dust,
sapping energy and draining hope,
confusing minds and sowing discontent

Those dry bones get everywhere -
but so does the breath of God,
and so does the hopeful life of the Spirit.
Gentle and powerful,
rushing and meandering,
transforming radically, and little by little,
resurrecting, encouraging, stirring, comforting.

Those dry bones get everywhere -
but so does the breath of God.

Text © Dave Hopwood,
engageworship.org

seems very apt.

We need to hang onto God’s promises rather than feeding our minds with despair.  Then work for transformation by speaking out God’s truth with the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit.


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!

Sunday 18th April -        Church AGM after the morning service.

 

Songs for Sunday

1. Tell out my soul the greatness of the Lord!
Unnumbered blessings give my spirit voice.
Tender to me the promise of His word –
In God my Saviour shall my heart rejoice.

2. Tell out my soul the greatness of His Name!
Make known His might the deeds His arm has done.
His mercy sure from age to age the same,
His holy Name, the Lord, the Mighty One.

3. Tell out my soul the greatness of His might!
Powers and dominions lay their glory by.
Proud hearts and stubborn wills are put to flight,
The hungry fed, the humble lifted high.

4. Tell out my soul the glories of His word!
Firm is His promise and His mercy sure.
Tell out my soul the greatness of the Lord
To children's children and for evermore!

Timothy Dudley-Smith © 1961 CCLI Licence No. 5638

1. I hear the sound of rustling
in the leaves of the trees
,
the Spirit of the Lord has come down on the earth.
The church that seemed in slumber
has now risen from its knees,
and dry bones are responding
with the fruits of new birth.
O this is now a time for declaration,
the word will go to all men everywhere,
the church is here for healing of the nations,
behold the day of Jesus drawing near.

My tongue will be the pen of a ready writer,
and what the Father gives to me I’ll sing,
I only want to be His breath,
I only want to glorify the King.

2. And all around the world the body waits expectantly,
the promise of the Father is now ready to fall.
The watchmen on the tower all exhort us to prepare,
and the church responds - a people who will answer the call.
And this is not a phase which is passing;
it’s the start of an age that is to come.
And where is the wise man and the scoffer?
Before the face of Jesus they are dumb.
My tongue will be the pen ...

3. A body now prepared by God and ready for war,
the prompting of the Spirit is our word of command.
We rise, a mighty army, at the bidding of the Lord,
the devils see and fear, for their time is at hand
And children of the Lord hear our commission
that we should love and serve our God as one.
The Spirit won’t be hindered by division
in the perfect work that Jesus has begun.
My tongue will be the pen …

Ronnie Wilson
© Thank you Music 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

Our prayers this week are based on the song “When our Songs of Joyful Celebration” by Matt Osgood © Matt Osgood / RESOUNDworship.org, CCLI #5638 

1. When our songs of joyful celebration
are drowned out by the groans of those in need,
echoing creation,
that's waiting like a prisoner to be freed.
Father we cry out,
how long until the pain and suffering cease?
We pray that your kingdom
would fill this world with justice, love and peace.

We pray for our world, for peace to those areas under conflicts and wisdom for leaders.

2. Still the lonely widow fights for justice
and orphans are exploited and oppressed.
Help us change our culture,
for we're not the only ones who should be blessed.
We must hear Jesus:
'When you show love to those who are in need, and care for the captive,
it's just as though you do these things for me.'

We pray for those suffering under this pandemic, for the supplies of the vaccine to be shared around the world, for those in need and struggling to survive, both in this country and around the world.

3.  Father, you have giv'n to us so freely,
now help us to be generous with our wealth.
All we have is yours, Lord -
how could we only use it for ourselves?
Give us compassion
for those who need the comfort we can bring,
the hungry and hopeless,
who wait for us to practise what we sing.

Lord praise you for those who give of themselves to help those in need.  Bless those on the front line seeking to help those suffering.  Stir our hearts to serve you by doing all we can to bring comfort and hope into situations of despair.  We pray that we would be used by God to bring healing and peace to those around.

C. Have mercy, Lord, on the earth you created;
have mercy, Lord, through us.
Father, change our hearts, take our hands, raise our voices;
may we demonstrate your love.

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.

Amen