27th April 2021 Canvey Methodist Church Bible Studies

 

Canvey Island Methodist Church Bible Study- Tuesday 27th April 2021.

Being Rooted In Love

 

Studies From Ephesians.

 

Welcome to this week's Bible Study. As promised here are comments received to the second week of this study series from St Paul’s letter to the Ephesian Church.

 

Pondering Together:

Here were the questions posed for us to ponder and share

 

1). What are some of the challenges of bringing together into one church two very different groups of people like the Jews and the Gentiles?

And what are some of the benefits?

What attitudes do people need for it to work?

 

2). What divisions (if any) exist in our society that parallel the split between Jews and Gentiles in Paul’s day?

What would reconciliation between those groups look like?

How might these verses from Ephesians impact the way we relate to or pray for those groups?

 

Your Contributions and Replies.

 

My grateful thanks to all who contacted me with their thoughts on being church together.

 

From John:

 

We are all related if you go back far enough. Therefore this does remind us that we are a family just by being human. 

John 

 

From Rev Peter:

 

Dear Colin,   Thank you so much for this study. It first took me back to thinking about the racial issues in my Panama days and then in some of my home circuits. I realised that Paul’s arguments would not cut much ice with most people in his day. They would mostly be quite content to be what they were, Jews or gentiles – unless something had arisen in their  lives to make them want to find acceptance with the other or some discontent with their own religion made them open to new ideas. No, Paul was writing to those already able to think along those lines because they were already in the church.

In our own day his arguments have not succeeded in bringing together members of the so-called Black Churches and White Churches. Most people still prefer to keep to their own racial/cultural groups. As the Bible Society often reminds us, people want to hear/read the Bible in their own heart language – and worship in that too.

Geographical distance is obviously another hindrance too. To share worship and fellowship across those boundaries does give a wonderful sense of us being all one in Christ. Those experiences I had as a young man in Spain led eventually to my offer for the Ministry and then to go wherever in the world I was most needed. But all that does not alter the fact that we all seem to want to cling to our own base. So we still have the same splits. I can’t feel one with my Jewish neighbours next door. They speak a different language. They have a different religion and culture and with a large family of twelve children they have different interests. We are a nation of different languages, cultures and interests. There are a few individuals who can freely move between them; perhaps that is the best we can hope for? It’s not that the groups are at enmity; it’s simply that the patterns of life don’t normally bring us together. I think what Paul helps me to understand is that difference is OK because we all equally have a claim on the Lord of life and on all that He offers us in life. We are not rivals or enemies but brothers and sisters. We don’t have to attempt to make others like us to be OK but simply accept each for the fine God-created person she/he is.

Bless you,

Peter

 

Again my thanks. And now, onto this weeks study from Ephesians chapter 3:

 

Week 3: Being Rooted In Love

 

To Set the Scene:

 

Love- A great topic. It is said that everybody needs to feel that they are loved and cared for! It seems to be an incontrovertible truth and Popular music, art, films, Theatre, poetry and literature have been filled with and gave exalted and celebrated human love for generations. If any of us needs a reminder of this, then taking musical output as an example, here are just a few examples to spark our memory cells. 

 

The Beatles told us that “All you need is love”. 

https://youtu.be/WWP80rXP4cM

 

The Jets assured us that “Love makes the world go Round”

 https://youtu.be/F5_vYvIQGXc

 

And the New Seekers” declared that they would “like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony”. 

https://youtu.be/qcVWHKwJATE

 

The world of science and behavioural studies have also had something to say about the need to know that we are loved. 

 

A psychologist and psychoanalyst by the name of John Bowlby (1907-1990) worked out, by experimentation, that the first two years of a child’s life are crucial to their healthy development. If the love and care shown to them over this period of time is not maintained continuously then the child will not develop as steadily and healthily as they should and would if love and care were present. John Bowlby presented this as something called “Attachment theory” that concluded all people do indeed have an intense desire to be loved and nurtured. 

In the journal “Psychology Today”, his work is referenced as follows by the author of an article on the subject of being loved and cared for:

 

“The need to be loved, as experiments by Bowlby and others have shown, could be considered one of our most basic and fundamental needs. One of the forms that this need takes is contact comfort—the desire to be held and touched. Findings show that babies who are deprived of contact comfort, particularly during the first six months after they are born, grow up to be psychologically damaged.

Given the importance of the need to be loved, it isn’t surprising that most of us believe that a significant determinant of our happiness is whether we feel loved and cared for. In the surveys that I have conducted, people rate “having healthy relationships” as one of their top goals—on par with the goal of “leading a happy and fulfilling life.”

 

This conclusion, I suspect, will come as no surprise to us as Christian people. Only we have discovered an “added extra” when it comes to the importance of love. That God’s love is far greater than human love and that by knowing His love, past hurts and even cruel neglect can be healed, and fears of all kinds can be dispelled and displaced.

 

Today’s Bible passage from Ephesians contains a prayer made by St Paul for the people in the church to know the strength that knowing God’s love brings. 


 

Ephesians 3:24-21- A Prayer for the Ephesians

 

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

 

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

a. Ephesians 3:15 The Greek for family (patria) is derived from the Greek for father (pater).

 

Observation: 

It is interesting in this passage that Paul uses this phrase “I kneel before the Father”, because Jewish prayers were usually offered standing up. So why does Paul kneel to pray?

The only time Jews knelt at that time was when they were in the presence of their King. Greeks did the same (Lk. 18:11-13). So Paul’s kneeling here is a sign that He sees God as His King, His Sovereign. Someone who is more than capable of restoring broken lives and filling them with love.

Whether figuratively, or literally, then this attitude of humility is the manner in which we approach God now as we look into his word. 

 

(Ephesians 3:23, “Before me every knee will bow, every tongue confess” (cf. also Php. 2:10. that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,).

 

This wonderful prayer of St Paul in Ephesians 3:24-21 is worth dwelling upon and the study guide we are following suggests a different way of doing this. It is a reflective way of dwelling on God's word called “Lumko” which is a method of Bible study that is said to be used in South Africa. It encourages a slow, prayerful way of reading scripture that enables people to discover more and to share how the passage applies to them. 

 

How does it proceed?

 

-We begin with prayer, 

-then to read the text, 

-then to dwell on the text, 

-then a period of quiet reflection as the text is read to us, 

-then to note down what has struck us about the text; what questions it raises; what we feel God might be saying to us through the text,

-Then to apply the text to ourselves; what response does this passage require from us? How might it change us? What do we need to do?

-Then to spend time in prayer bringing to God the things brought to the fore and to ask for his help.


 

Had we been able to meet physically for our Bible study today, I would have suggested that we share our thoughts after each of these sections. However, in this virtual alternative, may I suggest that you, instead,  jot down your reflections and then email them to me so that we can share our insights of today in next week's study? Thankyou. 

 

Lumko Reflections

 

-We begin with prayer

Lord God, we thank you for your word and for your great love for each one of us. Be with us and may your Holy Spirit speak into each of our hearts through your holy word. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

-We read the text, 

Ephesians 3:24-21- A Prayer for the Ephesians

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

-We read the text out loud dwelling upon words and phrases that strike us. 

Ephesians 3:24-21- A Prayer for the Ephesians

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a] in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

 

-Listen to the text being read using the link. Follow this with a period of quiet reflection.  https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Eph.3.14-Eph.3.21

 

-Then, on paper, note down anything that has struck you about the text; what questions it raises; what we feel God might be saying to us through the text,

 

-Then to prayerfully ask and reflect upon what response this passage requires from us? How might it change us? What do we need to do?

 

-Then to spend time in prayer bringing to God the things brought to the fore and to ask for his help.

 

Lord God, I thank you that in Jesus I am part of your family owning your name, and that your Holy Spirit strengthens me in my innermost being and that Christ dwells in my heart through faith. Thankyou that in you I am rooted and established in love that is so high, and wide, and long, and deep that even though it surpasses knowledge, it fills me to all the measure of your fullness. Please accept the praise I bring and lead me into your Will for my life now tomorrow, and always. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

Hymn: It passes knowledge that dear love of thine.

https://youtu.be/zwfnJ9Xkj18

 

Benediction: 

And now may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all, now and forevermore.

Amen.

 

Friends, please do share your insights from this reflective study.

 

In Christian Love

 

Colin