The Third Rocky Road Epistle Chapter 9

How is Lent going for you?  A fortnight ago I challenged you to take up something for Lent (see chapter 7).  I hope and pray that you are doing something extra this Lent to make a deliberate effort to draw closer to God.

The cartoon alongside reminds us of St Paul’s words that we are running a spiritual race (1 Corinthains 9 v.24), and probably more of a marathon that a sprint.  Though a relay race may be a better image since we aim to hand on our faith to those who follow.

God is able to give us new starts since He forgives and helps us to start going again when we fail or fall. 

As we read in Isaiah 43 v.18-21

18 “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

20 The wild animals honour me, the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the desert
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,

21 the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise

This last year has seemed like a wilderness for us at church.  Yet God has provided streams of living water for any who seek Him.  The passage reminds us that we must not look back to all the things we used to do and presume that they will start again exactly as they were.  The new normal will not be the same as the normal before and we must seek God’s new thing for RRBC.  This includes seeking His way forward, by discerning what we should start doing or what should be restarted but in a changed form.   

Back to taking part in a race.  It is no use running and continually looking behind – you will fall over.  But it is no use running in the wrong direction either.  We need to know where the finishing line is before we start moving forward.  Also we need to be running in readiness to hand on the baton.  No use saying I’m stopping or I can’t be bothered and dropping the baton, presuming someone will just pick it up.  Why should they if your actions speak of the race being unimportant?  Same is true for us as we move forward at RRBC.  Our new starting line is prayer.  But we all have a part to play and a responsibility to God and to each other.  More than that we should be excited as God reveals the next part of the race to us.

So how is Lent going?  As I challenged all of us previously in chapter 7  

“Take time to pray and listen to what God is saying to you,
and what God is saying to RRBC and your part in it.”

So as you pray, read the Bible and take time in God’s presense what is God saying to you?  Make some notes, chat it over with others in the fellowship. Together we need to find God’s plan join in with what He is doing.


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

Sunday 28th March – Reopening of building 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!


From Laura. “A Sorrowful Journey”  based on Mark 1 v.12,13, John 11 v.20-29, v.32-36

As we continue with our journey with Jesus through the desert under the banner of “Worship in the Wilderness” the idea of a sorrowful journey may seem strange.  But the desert, or wilderness, is not a place of comfort or a place to go on holiday.  We do not know much of the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness.  Did he have trouble sleeping or even finding somewhere comfortable to lie down?  What did he do when all the usual distractions of life were taken away and humanly he was on his own.  Did he just spend the whole-time praising God or did he cry out to God as he faced the difficult path he was about to take?  All we are told is that he was tempted, at the end he was hungry, and that angels came and ministered to him.  We know that Jesus left the wilderness strengthened and ready to begin his ministry.  The wilderness was no place of comfort, but it was, and still is, a place of transformation.

As the earlier reading from Isaiah reminded us the desert is a barren dry place where wild animals roam.  The wilderness is a dangerous place where Jesus surely became more aware of his human frailty and the risk of failure.  For many people this lockdown has been a wilderness experience, things have been taken away from us, we are more aware of our human mortality and there are hidden dangers around.  We could pretend that everything has been fine and that we have not had any struggles at all.  But we would be fooling ourselves and certainly not being honest before God.  Even if we have not been ill ourselves, we all know of people who have suffered in lockdown and surely we should be concerned for those we love.  The chorus of the song “Beauty for Brokenness” (see below) sums up the Christian attitude to life, how much more this should apply in a pandemic.

In John chapter 11 we read of the concern of Jesus for his friends Martha and Mary.  Verse 35 tells us that “Jesus wept”.  Throughout the gospel we see his love for others, and that brought sorrow as well as joy.  As I write this reflection there have been some tragic situations over the last week.  The horror of another 370 schoolgirls kidnapped in Nigeria, people being brutally shot dead in Myanmair and citizens being arrested in Hong Kong.  We cannot imagine the emotions that people are going through in these places, sadly by the time you read this there will be more awful events.  But we can, and we should, come to God in our sorrow at the state of our world.  As Mary and Martha did, we can tell Jesus our own struggles and fears, our doubts and sadness, knowing that he listens and that he cares.  In the book of Psalms there are many “Psalms of Lament” where the writer honestly tells God their sorrow and distress.  Worship is not all “happy-clappy”, laments have a place too.  The song writer Michael Card comments that “Lament is learned only in the wilderness”. 

Bringing our lament or our sorrows to God will be different for each one of us.  Take Martha and Mary.  Martha came to Jesus asking questions, telling him honestly how she felt and wanting explanations.  Mary came with a question too, but she mostly wept.  Jesus was with her in her sorrow, he did not tell her to stop.  Jesus meets us in our sorrow; however we express it, in tears or questions, in complaints or anger.  He meets us in our honesty and ministers to us.  Lastly it may be that in a wilderness situation with no distractions where we can focus on God that He shows us his heart, his sorrow.  As Sam and Sara Hargreaves comment,

“wilderness worship might be a place where God shows you his heart for a situation.  God may move you for an injustice or a need or a person.  It may be that he impresses his sorrow for something on your heart, and then he sends you to go and do something about it, in his power.”   

Next week’s theme for Mothering Sunday will be “A Sacrificial 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 10th March 7.15pm for 7.30pm start,

“Sorrowful Psalm”

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 has caused you sorrow during the last year?  How did you cope with your sorrow?

Read Psalm 88

  1. Are there phrases in this psalm which offend you?  Which ones, and why?
  2. Why do you think a text like this is included in the Bible?  Do you think that it makes a difference that these emotions are expressed towards God?
  3. Have you ever felt any of these emotions which the psalmist expresses?  Or do you feel that any of the phrases relate to your situation at the moment?
  4. Do you know anyone who expresses these kind of emotions?  Perhaps pause and pray for them now. 


Our prayers this week are based on Psalm 13 © Sara Hargreaves/

How long, Lord?  
Will you forget me for ever?
How long will you hide your face from me?

We pray for those who feel forgotten and unseen, may they know that they are remembered and seen by you God.
Help us to partner with you to remember the forgotten.
Search our hearts to reveal those we hide our faces from, the outcast, the stranger or the homeless.  
Change our hearts, that we may turn our faces towards these people and see them as your beloved children.

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts,
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

We pray for those we know who struggle with mental illnesses, anxiety and depression.  
We pray that there will be resources released to help, enough staff employed and finances given towards mental health services nationally.  
Help us to be a friend and a listening ear to those who suffer. Fill us with compassion and wisdom.
Ultimately, we pray for those who wrestle with sorrow, that they may know your victory over those dark thoughts which currently seem to triumph.

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

We pray for those who might be considered fallen by those around them: may they know your restoration and grace.
Help us to not judge or exclude your beloved children, but instead lift them up in prayer, and embrace them with the grace we know in Christ.
Thank you, loving Father God, for hearing our prayer.

We proclaim together:

But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me. 

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.

Songs for Sunday

1. Lord I come before your throne of grace;
I find rest in Your presence
And fullness of joy.
In worship and wonder
I behold Your face,
Singing what a faithful God have I.

What a faithful God have I,
What a faithful God.
What a faithful God have I,
Faithful in every way.

2. Lord of mercy, You have heard my cry,
through the storm You're the beacon,
my song in the night.
In the shelter of Your wings,
hear my heart's reply,
singing ‘What a faithful God have I’.

What a faithful God have I, …

3. Lord, all sovereign, granting peace from heaven,
let me comfort those who suffer
with the comfort You have given.
I will tell of Your love for as long as I live,
singing ‘What a faithful God have I’.

What a faithful God have I, …

Robert & Dawn Critchley
© 1989 ThankYou Music

1. Beauty for brokenness,
hope for despair,
Lord, in Your suffering world
this is our prayer.
Bread for the children,
justice, joy, peace,
sunrise to sunset,
Your kingdom increase!

2. Shelter for fragile lives,
cures for their ills,
work for the craftsmen,
trade for their skills;
land for the dispossessed,
rights for the weak,
voices to plead the cause
of those who can’t speak.

God of the poor,
friend of the weak,
give us compassion we pray:
melt our cold hearts,
let tears fall like rain;
come, change our love
from a spark to a flame.

3. Refuge from cruel wars,
havens from fear,
cities for sanctuary,
freedoms to share,
peace to the killing-fields,
scorched earth to green,
Christ for the bitterness,
His cross for the pain.

4. Rest for the ravaged earth,
oceans and streams
plundered and poisoned -
our future, our dreams.
Lord, end our madness,
carelessness, greed;
make us content with
the things that we need.

  God of the poor . . . .

5. Lighten our darkness,
breathe on this flame
until Your justice
burns brightly again;
until the nations
learn of Your ways,
seek Your salvation
and bring You their praise.

  God of the poor . . .

Graham Kendrick © 1993 Make Way Music CCLI #5638 

Listening to a recording of our audio service

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