Archive for April, 2021

Bible study 27th April 2021

Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

BIBLE STUDY- AN UN-STORY

1-Did you have a toy when you were little that gave you comfort? Perhaps a toy that you needed to sleep. What happened if you could not find it?

Read Isaiah 30: 1-5

I hope to return to looking at the Hebrew Bible over the Summer. We paused at the Wisdom Literature so now we are looking at the prophets. The prophets speak uncomfortable truth to those in power and to us. Isaiah was a prophet to King Hezekiah. Generally, in the Old Testament King Hezekiah is described as good king because he takes down the altars to foreign gods and removes the idols. He is the prime example of a good person who makes a stupid mistake. He hears that the Assyrians are coming down from the North ready to attack. The Assyrians were a huge, military power compared to little Judah. Hezekiah panics. He needs protection and security, but he looks in the wrong place. He sends his ambassadors to Egypt to sign a treaty. The people have come so far since slavery in Egypt. God has protected and provided for them again and again but in a crisis Hezekiah, in spiritual terms, goes developmentally backwards.

I can have a good week but then I get an angrily worded email, something goes wrong at work, someone says something sharp at home and I’m a six-year old again whose teddy bear is missing. I want to feel secure again. I’ve noticed we’ve all got a bit crosser and grumpier during this second lock-down. We are in a crisis and we are feeling insecure.

Words like ‘protection’, ‘help’ and ‘refuge’ are words we associate with God (think of the psalms) but Hezekiah is going to Pharoah instead. This is the Exodus story in reverse. It is an ‘un-story’. Some of the things we use to make us feel better/more secure are great (a hug from our partner/a walk in nature) others can be paradoxically destructive.

2-What ‘securities’ makes us feel better in the short term but can have long-term consequences?

Read Isaiah 30:6-7

Our false securities cost us dear and the journey backwards is even tougher than the first Exodus out. It is also all for nothing. Verse 7 says ‘I call her Rahab’. Rahab means ‘sit still’ or ‘do nothing’ and is a nickname for Egypt.

What happens when instead of following God we look for our own securities?

  1. Shame (Verse 5). Shame is a horrendous emotional state to be in. It’s more than feeling guilty because you’ve done something wrong. You believe that you are something wrong. Shame also breeds disconnection. Adam and Eve enter into their shame and hide from God. The opposite of shame is vulnerability- openly admitting your weaknesses and failings.
  2. Denial. Read Verse 8-11. This is band-aid theology! This is refusing to do the hard-digging of the soul.

3- Where are we guilty as individuals, Church or country of this type of denial? The thing you are most defensive about is often the thing you struggle with the most.

  1. Destruction Read Verse 12-15. Wow! What an image. It reminds me of the Sheffield Flood and the bursting dam. I think we often think that we can fix the cracks, but the forces are just too big. Verse 15 is just beautiful and such a contrast to what has gone before. The word for ‘quietness’ is used for a baby asleep in its mother’s arms.

4- When has quietness been redemptive for you?

It would be great to end our study with the people turning their backs on Egypt and returning to God but the toddler who wants a more tangible security says “No!” (Verse 16-17)

  1. Flight. Often when our mistakes catch up with us, we try to flee or escape rather than face them.
  2. Abandonment. This is a startling image. Ultimately our false securities will abandon us and prove themselves false. We will be like a lonely flagpole on a hill or a tattered banner on a distant mountaintop. Perhaps we think God has given us chance after chance after chance and God will do no more but….

Read Isaiah 30: 18

God longs to be gracious. God longs for his people to return to Him. Did Jesus have this passage in mind when he told the story of the prodigal son? Hezekiah does return to the Lord and Jerusalem is saved from the Assyrians but Isaiah predicts that Judah’s sins will lead to greater destruction- the exile in Babylon is yet to come.

What does that image of a lone flagpole remind you of?

Read Matthew 27: 28-37

This is more than an understanding that God will not abandon us or give up on us. God in Christ, entered into our places of abandonment and destruction. Jesus shows surprising solidarity with the shamed. When we are utterly alone and think we deserve to be alone, the cross is there reminding us that we are not.

Prayer

Lord, I sometimes feel as if I am going backwards.

Reaching out for old securities even though I know they don’t work.

Getting angry because I feel insecure and overwhelmed.

I feel as if my story with You is rewinding.

Help me seek refuge in Your protection and love.

I gain strength in quietness with You,

I gain confidence in trusting You. Amen.

Wednesday 21st April Worship led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Wednesday, April 21st, 2021

Wednesday 14th April worship led by Mr Darryl Lomas

Monday, April 19th, 2021

Repeated service recorded at Hillsborough Tabernacle

Easter Sunday Service led by Rev Suzanne Nockels

Monday, April 5th, 2021

Good Friday Service – 3rd April 2021

Monday, April 5th, 2021

Led by rev Suzanne Nockels

Finished by singing one hymn outside the church

Maundy Thursday service – 2nd April 2021

Monday, April 5th, 2021

A joint service for friends of Hillsborough Tabernacle and Tapton Hill Congregational Churches led by Rev Suzanne Nockels