Archive for August, 2020

Tuesday 1st September Bible Study 7pm

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

Naboth’s Vineyard
Where is ‘home’ to you? What makes it home? How rooted are you?

Naboth is bound to his land. He named as ‘Naboth the Jeezerite’ and his vineyard is in Jezreel. A request to purchase the land shows a disrespect for the law in ancient Israel (see Leviticus 25:23-24). The idea is that the land is really God’s and therefore a gift from God to be passed down as inheritance rather than a commodity to be permanently sold. To sell up or mistreat the land is to disrespect the Ultimate Giver that is God. As the poet Wendell Berry puts it ‘If we believe, as so many of us profess to do, that the Earth is God’s property and is full of His glory, how can we do harm to any part of it?’
Read 1 Kings 21:1-7
Do you think it makes sense for Naboth to refuse? Do you have something too precious to sell?
How would you describe Ahab? Is his garden somehow not big enough? He is king so he probably has extensive lands already. When have you become ‘sullen and angry’ because you’ve not got what you wanted?
How does Jezebel act? Neighbouring kings would have been brutal and just taken what they wanted. She views Ahab’s asking as weakness. Is it?
Read 1 Kings 21:8-16
This part of the story is full of irony as well as tragedy. Jezebel falsifies charges against Naboth of cursing God and the king. Jezebel has been cursing God and murdering God’s prophets. She doesn’t worship Yahweh but knows enough about Levitical law to know that cursing God has a death penalty attached to it (Leviticus 24:14-16) while conveniently forgetting Leviticus 25:23. Also, since when has cursing the king been as serious as cursing God or equated to blasphemy? Again, she has usurped the king’s authority by writing letters in his name and using his seal. It is hard to describe how someone’s identity and reputation were attached both to their name and seal in the ancient world. It reminds me that corrupt leaders always have their ‘fixers’.
Read 1 Kings 21:17-28
What do you think of God softening his approach to Ahab?
Is it fair that the next generation is punished? Or is it the case that the next generation often suffers because of the greed/corruption of their forebears?
What modern situations of injustice can you see in this story? Who are the modern day Ahabs and Naboths? Where do we need to be like Elijah?
Elijah condemns Ahab and Jezebel with idolatry. Social injustice is not merely a horizontal violation of our fellow human. It is primarily a vertical violation of God by wronging his creation, made in his image. In other words, we tend to interpret this narrative of Naboth’s vineyard as social gospel, but really, the passage shows us that we cannot separate the social and the spiritual. Our relationship with God is reflected in the way we treat our fellow human who is made in God’s image.
Prayer
Lord, it is true “we can’t always get what we want”,
Forgive us when we sulk because our plans have not worked out,
Forgive us when we are angry because we think someone is thwarting us,
Forgive us when we use whatever power we possess to get what we want.
Forgive us for not seeing the needs of others or what You want Lord.
We get ‘tunnel vision’ sometimes.
Lord, show us that love is not fixing everything for our loved ones and giving them everything they want,
Love is helping our loved ones become better people.
Almighty God, we thank You that You are patient with us and give us the chance to change.
Lord, when greed gets bigger and more political then there’s injustice on a massive scale.
Save us from the Ahabs of this world and give us Elijah-like courage to speak up for the many Naboths.
May the vineyards and the gardens of this beautiful world not be turned over to powerful interests.
Amen.

 

Wednesday Service 26 August 6.30pm

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

Service led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Wednesday worship – 19th August

Tuesday, August 25th, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Theme – Make mine a double

Elijah and Elisha

https://youtu.be/dG-3By3ULJg.

 

Bible Study 18th August

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Bible Study: Sitting Beneath the Broom Tree

We are constantly risk-assessing at the moment, even if we are not filling out forms we are wondering if certain places are safe. Elijah the prophet has had a showdown with the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (the subject of this week’s upcoming sermon) and the prophets of Baal have been slaughtered. Queen Jezebel vows ‘to make Elijah’s life like one of them by this time tomorrow’ so Elijah flees in fear. He is extra cautious- not only does he go to Beersheba in Judah (far away from the Queen’s jurisdiction) but then travels a day into the wilderness by which point the time-limit of the vow has expired. Despite the miracles Elijah has seen, he has had enough and sits beneath a broom tree. A broom tree is associated with mourning and distress in the Bible (Job 30:3-4, Psalm 120).

Read 1 Kings 19: 1-5a

Question 1: What emotions do you think Elijah is feeling? Are these surprising or unsurprising after the ‘victory’ on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18)? Is he where he expected to be?

Question 2: Ever had a ‘broom tree’ moment when a sudden low-point followed a high or when you thought a tough time might be over and it just got worse.

Read 1 Kings 19: 5b-9a

Interestingly, it was not suddenly over. God did not magic Elijah’s inner or outer troubles away.

Question 3: What does God do to sustain Elijah? What might our modern equivalents be?

He still had a journey of forty days and forty nights through the wilderness (yes, spot the biblical echoes!)

Read 1 Kings 19: 9a-16

Elijah airs his grievances which are focussed on himself and are out-of-proportion. He is not the only prophet left (see 1 Kings 18:1-4). The people have now returned to Yahweh (see 1 Kings 18: 39) they are not all out to get him. How easy it is to think we are alone in our difficulties. God asks Elijah a question ‘What are you doing here?’ Elijah thinks the answer is obvious- he is fleeing for his life! I suspect Elijah would rather throw that question back at God ‘Where are you? Where have you been?’ God listens and doesn’t dismiss his worries. Sometimes words will not do it. Sometimes words will not convince anyone- only our presence counts. So, amazingly God will make God’s awesome presence known to Elijah to help relieve him of his fear. He is not in the earthquake or fire which are both attributes of the god Baal.

Question 4: How does your translation translate 1 Kings 19: 12b? Which translation do you prefer and why? What does it say about God?

The translation is very tricky and offers a paradox; ‘a voice, a thin silence’. It could mean a) a voice which is very close to silence e.g. a whisper or b) a voice followed by a time of silence. Question: Can you live with the paradox?

Question 6: God asks Elijah the same question and Elijah responds in the same way but this time God sends Elijah back the same way (his heart must have sank) but not to do the same things…there is a new direction for himself and the nation. Ever had to make big changes in order not to burn-out?

In the end Elijah moves on- the wilderness is not the place he stays in.

Prayer

When we cannot see how things really are,

Because we exhausted, fearful or depressed,

When we think we have failed and are alone in a dark world,

When we are sitting under our own broom tree,

Lord, please come to us.

We thank You for ministering angels,

Those that touch and feed,

Those who are firm in their gentleness- ‘Get up and eat’.

Those who allow us to rest and heal; however long it takes.

Lord, bless them.

Most of all we thank You for Your presence,

Not always big and dramatic- copying the gods of our age,

You are the paradox that holds voice and silence, substance and emptiness, together

Often, we find you in the stillness after speech or the pregnant pause before something is said.

You are the God who weaves through our daily discourse.

If we listen…….if we hear.

Lord, we are not always where we should be or want to be

Guide us to new beginnings and help us serve You.

Amen.

 

 

Service 12th August

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Service 5th August

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Led by Mr Darryl Lomas

Reading Matthew 19:16-30

The rich young ruler

Darryl spoke of the 5S system of visual management has improved organisation and efficiency in many workplaces including manufacturing environments and offices. This system consists of five pillars—Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, Sustain—that make maintaining the workplace in good condition a visual process. He asked if the Rich Young ruler would have benefited from applying this system to his life?

Sort – Have a look at his life an d determine what is good and what is unnecessary

Shine – if he used his wealth for the poor and needy

Set in order – if he let his wealth go & put his life in order

Sustain – could he keep it up, would he miss his wealth and everything that goes with it?

Darryl suggested he did not get past the sorting stage. What abut us? We may at some time sorted out home, cupboard but how long did it remain clear and tidy?

Darryl left us with the following thoughts:

What do we need to sort out?

What do we need to give up?

How will we do it?

How will we sustain whats right?

Service 29th July 2020

Tuesday, August 11th, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

The Bible verses this week are 1 Kings 17 and John 7:37-38