Bible Study 26th January 2021

January 18th, 2021

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

THE BOOK OF PROVERBS

What I am talking about? On average it is 3.3 inches long. It is made up of 8 different muscles creating a flexible matrix and is the only muscle which works independently from the skeleton. It is not the strongest muscle but has amazing stamina. You’ve guessed it. The answer is the tongue.

There are more proverbs about the tongue than anything else.

  1. When has something some has said helped you this week? When has something hurt?

A Bit of Background on the Book of Proverbs.

The book of wisdom is ascribed to King Solomon but most scholars think it is 7 collections of wisdom material that has been grouped together after the time of Solomon. The earliest proverbs (25:1-29:27) date from 700BC and the latest (1:1-9:18) from the 4th Century BCE. One collection (22:17-24:22) has strong similarities with the Egyptian ‘Wisdom of Amenemope’ which suggests that the Israel’s wisdom movement was open to wisdom from elsewhere. The wisdom tradition revolved around the professional sages and scribes in the service of the court, and consisted primarily in maxims about the practical, intelligent way to conduct one’s life and in speculations about the very worth and meaning of human life itself. There is some debate about whether there were actual schools run by these sages for young men at court. The proverb was seen as an easy, pithy way to impart instruction. In Hebrew literature there are generally two types of wisdom. Practical wisdom is thought to be earlier and consists of guidance for a prudent and happy life. This can be found all over the Ancient Near East and the book of Proverbs is mainly practical wisdom (although the first chapters are later in date and are more speculative). Hebrew literature developed a more distinctive ‘speculative’ wisdom during the exile and dwells on the deeper problems of good and evil. I can remember the saying ‘stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. I have never been convinced that that is true and the compilers of the Book of Proverbs feel the same. Words have tremendous power.

2-What does a righteous and gentle tongue do? Can you think of current examples?

a) Prov. 10:31

b) Prov. 12:18

c) Prov. 15:2

d) Prov. 15:4

e) Prov. 16:1

3- What does a perverse and unguarded tongue do? Can you think of current examples?

a)Prov. 6:17

b)Prov. 15:4

c) Prov. 17:4

d)Prov. 26:28

e) Prov. 21:6

There is a great focus on gossip in the Book of Proverbs.

‘Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore, do not associate with a simple babbler.’ (Proverbs 20:19)

‘A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends.’ (Proverbs 16:28)

‘The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body’ (Proverbs 18:8)

4-Why might gossip be a spiritual problem? Has our modern society become more enthralled to gossip? I find these words from Jesus very pertinent especially in our internet age; ‘Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.’ (Luke 12:3). Paul also includes gossip in those things that are abominable to God in Romans 1:29

There are so wonderful passages about those who deal well with anger. It is OK to be angry especially at injustice and cruelty, but anger should not control us. Paul says in Ephesians 4 that we can be angry but not sin in our anger.

‘A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger’ (Prov. 15:1).

‘Those with good sense are slow to anger, and it is to their glory to overlook an offense’ (Prov. 19:11).

‘Those who are hot-tempered stir up strife, but those who are slow to anger calm contention’ (Prov. 15:18)

5-Can you give an example when you or someone else has diffused a situation using words?

Lastly, we often overlook the power of blessing each other and the difference it can make. The Book of Proverbs says this;

‘Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up” (Prov. 12:25)

I find it interesting that one description of Jesus is ‘logos’ or God’s word spoken into the world. Jesus is like God’s spoken sentence walking around ancient Israel/Palestine. God’s spoken word created the world! God’s word redeemed the world! Therefore, words do have the power to shape things. We are not Christ but can speak his love into this world and we can create newness and change in His name.

Sunday service 24th January 2021

January 18th, 2021

This service led by Rev Suzanne Nockels will be a repeat of that held Wednesday 20th January

Wednesday Worship 20th January 2021 led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

January 18th, 2021

Wednesday 13th January worship led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

January 17th, 2021

Wednesday 6th January 2021

January 10th, 2021

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

NOW 12th January Bible study – Tuesday 5th January – Epiphany

December 31st, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Read Matthew 2:1-12

This is very much a story of two kings not three. Jesus was tellingly born in Bethlehem- the hometown of David. David had been dead for 950 years, but he was still celebrated as the best King the Jews had ever had. Herod had no royal pedigree. His father was an Edomite whose ancestors had converted to Judaism. Herod gained the throne by successfully gathering taxes for Rome and thus he was made a vassal king. He was ruthless in his pursuit of power. He banished his first wife and son to make a more politically beneficial alliance. Herod executed a large number of his own family including his wife for treason. He upset both the Sadducees and Pharisees for bringing in priests from Babylonia and Alexandria and erecting a huge gold eagle over the entrance (a symbol of Rome).

It says that ‘Herod was disturbed and all Jerusalem with him (verse3)’

  1. Why do think Herod was disturbed? Read Micah 5:2-6
  2. Why do you the city was disturbed?
  3. Are the Magi wise in how they go about looking for the child?
  4. What do you think about Herod’s methods?

Who are the Magi? We don’t know their number and we certainly don’t know their names. They are wealthy (looking at the gifts) but probably not kings. That understanding comes from a prophecy in Isaiah 60:3. They are scholarly, mystical astrologers originally from Persia where they had almost a priestly role. In Matthew they are the first to see the significance of Jesus’ birth after Joseph. We don’t know what Mary thinks or knows in Matthew’s gospel.

  1. Why are human beings fascinated by stars?

There are lots of theories about the star. It was probably not a huge shining blob otherwise everyone would have recognised it. It was common-place to associate the brightening of a star with a new ruler’s birth. Strange heavenly phenomena were linked to the births Augustus, Tiberius and Nero. We may no longer think in such terms, but the inclusion of the star prevents the story of Epiphany being a parochial one- it has cosmic proportions.

  1. The star is for a child who is a very different sort of king from Herod. The magi do not prostrate themselves in the palace but they do in this ordinary home. In what ways is Jesus different?

Read Isaiah 60:6, Psalm 45: 6-8, Song of Songs 3:6-7.

  1. In light of the passages above what do the gifts convey to us? Again, they seem both incongruous and yet ‘not enough’.

After seeing Jesus, they have a revelation from God and do not go home via Herod. A true piece of divine wisdom and they obey without question. However, Herod is angry and begins an infanticide. The holy family is forced to flee to Egypt. Their blundering and misunderstanding of power cause great harm.

  1. Can you think of other times in history when misunderstanding of local power structures causes harm or when perceived wisdom is nothing of the sort?
  2. What does it add to the story of Jesus and our understanding of Jesus that he was once a refugee?

Wednesday Worship 30th December

December 31st, 2020

Led by Mr Darryl Lomas

Reading Ecclesiastes 3

Starting with the poem ‘Christmas’ by John Betjeman, a custom Darryl has continued over a number of years.

Theme of the service -= It didnt quite work out!

He pointed out the importance of his diary this year in which he had planned for many events in 2020 only to discover that Covid19 had conspired to cancel each and everyone.

The events required planning and provided something to look forward to and who expected to have to wear masks and maintain social distancing.

Ecclesiastes 3 reveals the time for everything. The author of Ecclesiastes reflects on how short and contradictory are our lives.

Darryl concluded by suggesting we need to work hard and enjoy the results. 2020 showed us we were less control than we can imagine. Though we can plan our lives in the diary we actually control nothing.

Remember we are here by God’s grace and it may be later than we think. Ecc 3:15 tells us it is God who makes things happen.

27th December Sunday afternoon worship

December 27th, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Christmas Day Service

December 27th, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels against the backdrop of tea lights in decorated jam jars.

Christmas Eve worship

December 27th, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels