9th February 2021 Canvey Methodist Church Bible Studies

Canvey Island Methodist Church Bible Study 

 

Opening Prayer - Methodist Prayer Book.

Eternal God, as you have taught us to keep all your commandments by loving you and our neighbour, grant us the gift of your Spirit that we may be devoted to you with all our heart and united to each other with a pure will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Ambrosian Missal (10th century)


 

Bible Readings:      Psalm 78:1-7;

Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,

things that we have heard and known, that our ancestors have told us.

PWe will not hide them from their children; we will tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

He established a decree in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach to their children; that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and rise up and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments;

 

Luke 8:22-25

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” So they put out, and while they were sailing he fell asleep. A windstorm swept down on the lake, and the boat was filling with water, and they were in danger. They went to him and woke him up, shouting, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And he woke up and rebuked the wind and the raging waves; they ceased, and there was a calm. He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were afraid and amazed, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?”

 

Comment:

How loud does someone have to shout before someone hears them? A simple question, but not necessarily one with a simple answer. Whether the voice of “this someone” is heard, or not, depends upon many factors;

-Is the background noise too loud to hear the message clearly? I remember visiting a glass bottle factory to approve a batch of new perfume bottles being produced on semi automatic IS machines. It was like walking into Dante’s Inferno with the excessive heat and noise of the production process both filling and completely overwhelming the senses. In such an environment, the voice of my colleague shouting directly in my ear was literally whisked away on a wall of sound that could be felt as much as heard! In such a place, ear protectors were essential and necessary, and communication was only possible by lip reading and by hand waving alone!

-Are those for whom the spoken or shouted message is intended, actually listening?

I suspect that many of us have received the comment from friends or loved ones, “Hey, are you actually listening to me”? 

Attention can be elsewhere! Maybe we can only concentrate on one thing at a time! Like me sometimes, maybe we have forgotten to put our hearing aids in! Does the person being spoken to think the message is for someone else?

Or could it be that perhaps they know the message is meant for them but they just don’t want to listen? 


Psalm 78 is a Didactic Psalm, one that can be a Psalm of Praise and Thanksgiving but also one that relates to the law and commandments of God and is instructional in nature. Psalms were given to Jewish people at a time when learning and storytelling was largely oral in nature, rather than written. Stories were passed from priests to people, parents to children and from generation to generation. The aim was to pass these God given decrees and commandments onto each generation of children in turn, so that “they should set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments”.

The years may have passed, the generations may have changed, but the message of Psalm 78 still holds true. Almighty God says to us, “Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth”.

For those who read Psalm 78 today, we have the blessing of not only hearing the word of God but of knowing Him. The apostle John spoke of Jesus as being “the word made flesh” (John1:14; 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.) and so now we have Jesus, the word of God's mouth to incline our hearts towards.

In remembering this “Old Story”, I am reminded of Kate Hankey’s lovely hymn encouraging us to keep telling this story to our generation today.

 

Tell me the old, old, story. 

https://youtu.be/XqSIMQaeAds

 

Tell me the old, old story 

of unseen things above, 

of Jesus and his glory, 

of Jesus and his love. 

Tell me the story simply, 

as to a little child, 

for I am weak and weary, 

and helpless and defiled. 

Refrain: 

Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story, 

tell me the old, old story, of Jesus and his love.

 

Tell me the story slowly, 

that I may take it in, 

that wonderful redemption, 

God's remedy for sin. 

tell me the story often, 

for I forget so soon; 

the early dew of morning 

has passed away at noon. 

Refrain: 

Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story, 

tell me the old, old story, of Jesus and his love.

 

Tell me the story softly, 

with earnest tones and grave; 

remember I'm the sinner 

whom Jesus came to save. 

Tell me the story always, 

if you would really be, 

in any time of trouble, 

a comforter to me. 

Refrain: 

Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story, 

tell me the old, old story, of Jesus and his love.

 

Tell me the same old story 

when you have cause to fear 

that this world's empty glory 

is costing me too dear. 

Yes, and when that world's glory 

is dawning on my soul, 

tell me the old, old story: 

"Christ Jesus makes thee whole." 

Refrain: 

Tell me the old, old story, tell me the old, old story, 

tell me the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

Kate Hankey

 

The story in Luke 8:22-25, of Jesus calming a storm is found also in the Gospels of Matthew and Mark as well and so it clearly meant a lot to the Early Church as they lived out the gospel in their turbulent times.

This is an account where both Jesus and the disciples were caught up in the same storm. They had pushed out onto the lake, not to do a spot of fishing, but to “go across to the other side of the lake.” All was going well until a storm hit them and then everything went crazy and into total chaos. The small craft was tossed around like a cork on the mountainous waves, the wind buffeted them on every side, and waves broke over the sides of the ship. Even these hardened and experienced fishermen were scared out of their wits and they were convinced that they were going to sink and perish.

Where was Jesus in all of this drama?  “while they were sailing he had fallen  asleep”.(v22). In utter panic the disciples shouted,  “Master, Master, we are perishing”. Jesus, waking from sleep, asks no questions but responds immediately to stop the wind and the waves dead in their tracks. Amazing. “Who then is this, that he commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him?”

 

At the beginning of our study today we considered why it might be that someone does not hear a message spoken to them. In addition to the reasons of not hearing the message because of background noise, or lack of attention, and of not wanting to receive the message, we could now usefully add, because of gut churning fear and clawing anxiety. These too can block the ear and cloud the judgement. 

That said, consider this:

-These disciples had Jesus, the Son of God in their ship, yet they had not heard and understood him when he said that “his time had not yet come”. (John 7:8).

-They had also not heard and understood that Jesus had said that they would “be going to the other side of the lake”) and that his word had divine authority.

“my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it”. (Isaiah 55:11).

-Jesus, by contrast, heard their shout above the background noise of the storm and responded immediately and the storm abated..

 

In her commentary of this traumatic event for the disciples of Jesus, The Revd Caroline Wickens, currently superintendent Minister of the Manchester Circuit, speaks of this storm as being “a metaphor for overwhelming trouble – and that perhaps, this resonates in this time of covid crises and chaos”. 

We hear of new strains of the covid virus and wonder if these microscopic waves will grow in size and intensity only to then sweep over the sides of our vaccination hopes and threaten to sink the boat of lockdown release.

To us, I would suggest, Jesus would gently say, “Remember, my child that I am in the boat with you”. Have faith in me to steer this ship to the other side of the lake”.


 

The first Christians too faced many struggles. Indeed by the time St Luke’s Gospel was written, they had already encountered terrible persecution at the hands of  Emperor Nero. They must have found it very comforting, in their own traumatic experiences, to hear of Jesus calming a storm and protecting his disciples. This true life account of “Christ in our midst”, reassured them, and can also reassure us; that Jesus does have the capacity to bring people through times of trouble.

 

What will our response be? At the risk of mixing metaphors just little, Jesus the good shepherd is still with his sheep and his promise remains true.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me”.John 10:27

 

To close, the words of Frances Ridley Havergal’s lovely hymn. “Master Speak Thy Servant Heareth

https://youtu.be/raPJHiezEhw


 

Master, speak! Thy servant heareth,

  Waiting for Thy gracious word,

Longing for Thy voice that cheereth

  Master, let it now be heard.

I am list’ning, Lord, for Thee;

What hast Thou to say to me?

2

Often through my heart is pealing

  Many another voice than Thine,

Many an unwilled echo stealing

  From the walls of this Thy shrine.

Let Thy longed-for accents fall;

Master, speak! and silence all.

3

Master, speak! though least and lowest,

  Let me not unheard depart;

Master, speak! for oh, Thou knowest

  All the yearning of my heart.

Knowest all its truest need;

Speak! and make me blest indeed.

4

Master, speak! and make me ready,

  When Thy voice is truly heard,

With obedience glad and steady,

  Still to follow every word

I am listening, Lord, for Thee:

Master, speak, oh, speak to me!

5

Speak to me by name, O Master,

  Let me know it is to me;

Speak, that I may follow faster,

  With a step more firm and free,

Where the Shepherd leads the flock

In the shadow of the Rock!

 

 

 

To Ponder:(From the Methodist Church A word in time Bible study)

"Where is your faith?" Jesus asked the disciples (v. 25). In what ways do you think their faith fell short?

In this story the disciples were in no doubt that Jesus had saved them. The experience of others is not always so clear-cut. As you look back over your own life, can you identify moments when you think the presence of Jesus altered a difficult situation?

 

Closing Prayer From Methodist Prayer Book

Loving God, thank you that in your love, forgiveness and compassion you did not abandon all that you have made but came amongst us in your Son, Jesus Christ, to heal, guide and transform. May your life and love truly inform and shape all our hearts and minds for the challenges and the opportunities that lie before us. For those who struggle, may there be comfort and release; for those who would bring relief, may there be wisdom and strength; and for those who lead, and for us all, may eyes and minds, hearts and hands be open to see, love and respond, as you see, love and respond, for the sake and love of all. Amen. 

 

James Tebbutt, Cumbria District Chair

 

In Christian Love

 

Colin