Archive for October, 2020

Bible study – Tuesday 27th October 2020

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020

Bible Study- Job, God and Satan

Read Job 1: 1-5

1-What do we know about Job? How would you describe ‘integrity?’ How might we exercise integrity in our own day?

Read Job 1:6-12

2 -Is this how you imagine Satan? Is there truth in Satan’s accusation that we only praise God when things are good?

Satan is part of the court- if slightly detached. He is almost like a prosecutor. His role is to bring out truth. This leads us to contemplate Jesus’ time in the wilderness and the Lord’s Prayer ‘do not lead me into a time of trial’.

Read Job 1:13-22

Job gets three messages of bad news (the ultimate ‘trouble comes in threes’). There I something about suffering that piles on and is relentless.

3-What do you think of Job’s response to suffering?

Read Job 2:1-10

Job is a book about ‘theodicy’. Why do bad things happen to good people? Also why does a benevolent, all-powerful, all-knowing and just God allow bad things to happen in the world. It is the first historic document that this question is presented. Most scholars think it dates from 5th Century BCE in other words after the Exile as the re-formed nation questions what it has been through.

Suffering raises questions. Answers in history include:

-God is not real.

-God is malevolent (He therefore acts outside the Laws he has given to us)

-Suffering is caused by sin (Yes sometimes but not always…and not in the case of Job)

-God has a bigger plan at work

-God has chosen to withdraw so we can live through the consequences of our freewill.

-We learn through suffering

4-What do you think to the above and how God is portrayed in Job 1-2?

5-What do you think of Job’s response to his wife about ‘shall we accept good from God and not trouble’? A better translation in ‘Bless God and die’ rather than ‘Curse’. Her statement starts Job’s journey in the mystery of suffering. What is the difference between a couple pulling together or apart in hard times? (They have another 10 children before this story is out)

As I said in the services last week. I think the three friends start off pretty well. Job is not just an intellectual exercise in how we think about suffering but actions and processes which may help. Job teaches us that we slowly need to be reintegrated into society following a bereavement. Jews today (following the example of Job) have seven days of mourning where they stay at home a receives comforters called ‘Shiva’. Orthodox men do not shave for 30 days and every year on the anniversary of the death they light a candle. We heal slowly.

6-What processes and rituals have helped you in times of loss and grief?

Prayer

God of the present moment,
God who in Jesus stills the storm
and soothes the frantic heart;
bring hope and courage to all
who wait or work in uncertainty.

Bring hope that you will make them the equal
of whatever lies ahead.

Bring them courage to endure what cannot be avoided,
for your will is health and wholeness;
you are God, and we need you.

-Adapted from New Zealand Prayer Book, p. 765

 

 

Worship 21st October 2020

Tuesday, October 27th, 2020
Our Bible readings Job 38:1-18, Job 42: 1-6 and Colossians 1:17
https://youtu.be/-r6Yt2vrFzY

Wednesday Worship – 14th October

Monday, October 19th, 2020

Where Are You?

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Wednesday Worship 7th October

Monday, October 19th, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Tuesday 6th October Bible Study – Esther

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Esther is often criticised as a book where God is not mentioned. However, I think much of this book is about timing- God’s timing. Perhaps the most famous line in the book comes from Mordecai when he challenges Esther ‘For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this’ (Esther 4:13-14)

Queen Vashti

Read Esther 1:10-22

Esther 1 builds up a picture of huge wealth, indulgence and power. Notice that by this point after seven days the men were pretty wasted on wine. Queen Vashti is summoned (out of the female realm) for the amusement of the male party. Some have commentated that verse 11 suggests that she was told to wear only her royal crown.

  1. Would you have obeyed or disobeyed the command?

Interestingly, Queen Vashti’s disobedience makes the men fear that women throughout the kingdom will despise their husbands. When someone breaks societal rules, do we fear that society itself will collapse? (The personal is political)

Esther 2:1 says that when he was more sober the king regretted his decision. Queen Vashti is set up as a foil to Esther who works in a different way, but could Esther have achieved what she did without her? I am indebted to the women of dignity and courage who have gone before and often only get a chapter in the story.

The quest to replace Vashti is often presented as a beauty contest but it is more sinister than that. Yes, Esther is brought into the palace because of her beauty but she, along with all the other girls, has to spend a night with the King. Esther becomes Queen because ‘she won his favour and approval more than any of the other virgins (2:17). However, she has told no one that she is Jewish. In this world outward beauty is more important that inner truth. Is that still true?

Mordecai

In chapter 2 Mordecai who is Esther’s cousin and adopted father has arranged for to be part of the contest. He is still instructing her while she is Queen. In chapter 2 he uncovers a conspiracy which Esther reports to the King and credits Mordecai. However, this is quickly forgotten. When Haman is appointed as second-in-command to the King, Mordecai refuses to bow.

Read Esther 3: 1-11

  1. Would you have bowed? Why do you think Mordecai didn’t?
  2. Do we forget the good things people do too quickly?
  3. Again, one person does something that means a larger group is feared/hated? Where do we see that happening today?

Esther

Read Esther 4:12-17

Mordecai knows of the plot to destroy the Jews and goes around in sackcloth wailing (again few seem to take notice). Esther first sends him clothes and then the second time she sends a messenger to ask what is wrong. Esther doesn’t think she can do anything because she can’t approach the King without him summoning her- to do so would be to risk death. Mordecai’s famous words are not encouragement but a rebuke. They begin ‘Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you will escape’.

  1. What do think about the ways that Esther tries to respond to distress? Do we go through stages of understanding?

Read Esther 5:1-8.

  1. In what way is Esther’s approach to the king different?

Haman is happy at getting a banquet in his honour. However, when he sees Mordecai at the gate who still refuses to bow, he is enraged. His family encourage him to ask for Mordecai’s death at the banquet. He is so certain of this that he has the scaffold built.

During the night, the King cannot sleep. He goes through the palace records and reads about the plot that Mordecai had uncovered and that he had forgotten. Mordecai had not been honoured so he decides to bring Mordecai back into the palace.

Read Esther 7:1-10

  1. What does Esther appeal to in the King?
  2. In the book of Esther, we have three difference ways of responding to injustice: civil disobedience, protest at the gates and working from the inside. Which do you favour?
  3. Where do you see God in this book?

Prayer

When we destroy dignity for amusement,

When we choose outward appearance over substance,

When we treat people as commodities,

When we forget the good and too easily believe the bad,

When we can only be happy when someone else is miserable or brought low.

Forgive us and change us.

May we act according to your timing wherever you have placed us.

Do we outrightly disobey, protest or work within the system?

Lord, Esther destroyed the plot because as a woman, no-one saw her coming.

Jesus you destroyed sin and death from a lowly position upon a cross,

Evil had written you off and didn’t you coming.

Your love conquers all and we praise You for it.

Amen.

 

Wednesday worship – Harvest Festival 7th October 2020

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Wednesday worship – 30th September 2020

Thursday, October 8th, 2020

Led by Rev Suzanne Nockels