The Third Rocky Road Epistle, Chapter 3

This week, 18th to 25th January, is the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.  The theme is “Abide in my love and you shall bear much fruit” based on John 15:1-17.  The theme and materials this year come from the sisters of the is Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland.  Each morning the sisters of Grandchamp say together the words, “pray and work that God may reign”.  These express the truth that prayer and everyday life are not two separate things but are meant to be united.  All that we experience is meant to become an encounter with God.

Jesus said to the disciples, “abide in my love” (Jn 15:9).  Jesus abides in the love of the Father (Jn 15:10) and wants to share this love with us:  Grafted into the vine, which is Jesus himself, the Father becomes our vinedresser who prunes us to make us grow.  This describes what happens in prayer.  The Father is the centre of our lives, who centres our lives.

The notes for the Week of Prayer say “Abiding in Christ is an inner attitude that takes root in us over time.  It demands space to grow.  It can be overtaken by the struggle for the necessities of life and it is threatened by the distractions, noise, activity and the challenges of life.  We live in a time that is both troubling and magnificent, an often dangerous time where we are challenged by pandemics, wars, violence, poverty, racism and climate change.  Yet as Christians seeking reconciliation, justice and peace, we also know the full value of a spiritual life, have an immense responsibility and must realise it, unite and help each other create forces of calmness, refuges of peace, vital centres where the silence of people calls on the creative word of God.  It is a question of life and death.”

In the ecumenical service produced for the week there is this reflection which I commend to you.

Moving to the centre… and out to the world (inspired by a text of Dorotheus of Gaza)

Jesus calls us to abide in him, as branches of the true vine.  He calls us to bear the fruit of God’s healing and reconciling love.  He calls us to draw closer to God and to one another as we offer this love to the world.

Imagine a circle drawn on the ground.  Imagine that this circle is the world.

At the centre of the world is God, in whom all our desires and longings find their meeting place.
As we move closer to God, so we draw closer to one another.
And the closer we come to one another the closer we come to God.

Sadly I need to tell you that Patricia Robinson of the Heathers has died.  Tricia was a valued member at RRBC - her enthusiasm and lovely warm smile will be greatly missed. 
Her funeral will be on Tuesday 26th January, please speak to Laura if you would like to attend or to be able to see the service through a streaming service.

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 Emotional Wellbeing,

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

 


Reflection

From Laura on “Emotional Wellbeing” from 1 Kings 19 v.1-9

How is your emotional “dial” this week, is it showing near empty, or full, or just middling?  How you are emotionally cannot be separated from other factors like tiredness or circumstances (whether depressing or encouraging).  In the passage we see Elijah impacted emotionally by sheer exhaustion, by fear and by an acute sense of disappointment.  He had just won an amazing victory as one man against the many prophets of Baal.  God had moved in power and the people shouted-out in recognition of the one true God.  But King Ahab’s household did not turn back to the Lord and Elijah’s life was threatened.  In the middle of a huge success, a negative word evoked a crippling fear as it stirred memories of previous rejection and danger.  But as we see further on in the story this powerful fear was only temporary, and God met Elijah in the midst of it.

We all have positive and negative emotions stirred in our lives each day.  Dave Smith comments that we are not designed to carry the negative ones long term.  Danger comes when too much negativity overwhelms us and leads to burnout, especially when linked to being overtired.  I know when I am tired, I then struggle with negative comments lingering in my memory - which seem to come to mind far quicker than encouraging comments.  The powerful emotion of fear can cripple us from living the life God wants for us or trap us in a prison unable to act. 

As we saw last week God restored his prophet Elijah by first helping his physical exhaustion through provision of sleep, food and drink.  God sent an angel who woke Elijah by a touch (v.5). 
In these days of lockdown, we have been reminded of how important touch is to us emotionally.  People who have had the vaccine are looking forward to being able to hug the grandchildren.  By sending Elijah a personal messenger rather than a bird or a vision, God showed him that he was not forgotten or finished but dearly loved. 

The truth that we are dearly loved by God can free us from fear - perfect love casts out all fear (1 John 4 v.18).  We see that love shown through Jesus Christ living as a human being and dying on the cross for us.  Jesus knew emotions, we read of him crying, being joyful and being righteously angry.  More than this God speaks to us personally; by a passage in the Bible speaking to us, or by the Holy Spirit stirring our hearts or other people showing us God’s love. 

Life is not perfect; disappointments can overwhelm us and sometimes we need to mourn a sense of loss in our lives.  But with God there is hope.  The angel brought a glimmer of hope to Elijah telling him to get up and giving him instruction.  Elijah knew that he was not finished and that God still wanted him.  In every situation for us there is hope that God can turn things around in His way and His time and hope that God will work for good (Romans 8 v.28.)  Hope sustains, motivates, inspires, and helps us deal with suffering, setbacks and disappointments. 

The other area that Dave Smith highlights for our emotional wellbeing is gratitude, which is probably not one that you would immediately think of.  Expressing gratitude - giving thanks, helps us to look outward from ourselves.  Throughout the Bible we are encouraged to give praise to God.  1 Thessalonians 5 v.16-18 says, “Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”  For the benefit of our emotional wellbeing it is important to feel and express gratitude. 

I finish with a thought-provoking quote from Robert Emmons, an American Psychologist, which I used in the Bible Study on last week’s chapter.

“By cultivating gratitude, we are free from envy over what we don't have or who we are not. It doesn't make life perfect, but with gratitude comes the knowledge that right now, in this moment, we have enough - and we are enough."


Zoom Bible Study

Sorry to cause confusion but last week should have been a Bible Study on Physical Wellbeing.  So below is the missing one.  For the Zoom Bible Study on Wednesday 20th we will do the one below and on the 27th go back and do the one from Chapter 2!

For those of you who prefer to do this Bible Study at home, it will not matter what order you choose to do the studies in.

Wednesday 20th January at 7.15pm for 7.30pm start,
“Physical Wellbeing”

All are welcome to join - please ask Laura for details. 

  1. A personally development teacher, Jim Rohn, said “Take care of your body. It's the only place you have to live.”  How are you physically?  Is your dial in the green, amber or red zone?

Read 3 John v.2

  1. We have physical bodies and live in a physical universe.  Jesus was a real human being with a physical body, who physically went through crucifixion and resurrection.  Why should we take care of our bodies?

Dave Smith identifies 3 areas of physical need good sleep, eating well and taking exercise.
Read Psalm 4

  1.  a) What things mentioned in this psalm would hinder sleep?
  2. b) What things mentioned in this psalm would help sleep?
  3. c) The climax of the psalm is v.6 which can be translated “Let the smile of your face shine on us.Would knowing God’s smile help you sleep?

Read Matthew 6 v.25-34

  1. "We are what we eat" is often stated.  What do you learn from this passage?  Does it matter how we eat?

Read Romans 12 v.1,2, and 1 Corinthians 9 v.24-27

  1. Is Paul recommending running or boxing?  What is Paul’s attitude to his body?  Does fitness matter – if so why? 

What one change could you make to help or motivate you to start or improve your exercise regime?


Prayers

Taken from service for week of prayer for Christian unity 2021

God of life, you have created every human being in your image and likeness.  We sing your praise for the gift of our many cultures, expressions of faith, traditions and ethnicities.  Grant us the courage always to stand against injustice and hatred based on race, class, gender, religion, and fear of those not like ourselves.

God of peace, God of love,
in you is our hope!

Merciful God, you have shown us in Christ that we are one in you.  Teach us to use this gift in the world so that believers of all faiths in every country may be able to listen to each other and live in peace.

God of peace, God of love,
in you is our hope!

Jesus, you came into the world and shared fully in our humanity.  You know the hardships of life for people who suffer in so many different ways.  May the Spirit of compassion move us to share our time, life and goods with all those in need.

God of peace, God of love,
in you is our hope!

Holy Spirit, you hear the fury of your wounded creation and the cries of those already suffering from climate change.  Guide us toward new behaviours.  May we learn to live in harmony as part of your creation.

God of peace, God of love,
in you is our hope!  Amen.

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


Songs for Sunday

You are the vine
We are the branches,
Keep us abiding in You.
You are the Vine,
We are the branches,
Keep us abiding in You.

Then we’ll grow in Your love,
Then we’ll go in Your name,
That the world will surely know
You have power to heal and to save.

You are the vine
We are the branches,
Keep us abiding in You.

Danny Daniels & Randy Rigby © 1982
CopyCare CCLI #5638

O let the Son of God enfold you
With His Spirit and His love
Let Him fill your heart
and satisfy your soul
O let Him have the things that hold you
And His Spirit like a dove
Will descend upon your life
and make you whole

Jesus, O Jesus
Come and fill Your lambs
Jesus, O Jesus
Come and fill Your lambs

O come and sing this song with gladness
As your hearts are filled with joy
Lift your hands in sweet surrender
to His name
O give Him all your tears and sadness
Give Him all your years of pain
And you'll enter into life in Jesus' name

John Wimber
© 1979 Mercy/Vineyard Publishing
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 always has some interesting things on as well.  See Roy for details if you cannot find it!