9th March 2021 - Canvey Methodist Church Bible Studies

 

Week Three - Hear and There Scene 3- Isolation 

 

Comments and follow up from Last Week's theme of “Provision” …..

Last week in our  Conversations and reflections we were asked to comment upon the following questions:

 

Conversation and reflection

1 Spend time sharing or reflecting on experiences of provision, need or grace (during the pandemic or otherwise).

2 If you had been there, how would you have felt receiving the bread and wine from Jesus?

3 What might we take forward with us from Jesus’ style of sharing meals and our changed patterns of fellowship at the moment?

 

Follow-up activity

Through the week, remember occasions when you have been in need of some kind – financial, medical, emotional, physical, or any other need. Reflect on who or what helped you, and think about any ways you can ‘pay it forward’ and help others who may be in need of some sort.

 

My grateful thanks to Rev Peter, Valerie, Adrian, Sue, Lin and Peter all of whom took up the challenge and shared their thoughts on this theme of God’s provision and the questions raised above. Thankyou. Colin. 


 

Your Responses

 

From Rev Peter Perowne- This week’s study set me off thinking in two main directions. First a profound sense of thankfulness for the ways in which my two sons and John’s wife, Hannah, have been providing for my needs from well before the pandemic. Paul does most of my shopping and often cooks for me while John and Hannah fetch me for a roast dinner with them most Sundays and bring me home with another for the next day. Before the lockdown Liza and family would come from Wales also bringing a supply for the freezer. Now for the time being she has to rely on frequent phone calls to show her love. I could not be more blessed! The second train of thought was how I miss being able to offer my help to others in their need. During my active ministry one of the things I most enjoyed, having been trained and commissioned as a psychotherapist in Sheffield, was working with those with emotional needs at a time when no help was on offer from the NHS or anywhere else. It was such a privilege and a joy to be involved for good in people’s lives at such a deep level. However, as the Covenant Service reminds us, we must be ready “to be employed for you, or laid aside for you” and the latter can sometimes be the hardest. I think Jesus may have felt that at his Last Supper with his beloved disciples. Bless you all, Peter


 

From Valerie Patterson- I can relate to the section about Follow up activity in that I have found that during the pandemic I have been able to recall events throughout my life of struggling with financial, medical, financial and physical problems which made me distraught at the time, but the one thread throughout those occasions is that Jesus has always held my hand, shown me how to get through and come to terms with whatever was happening by blessing me with his presence and peace.  These memories have reminded me of an old saying I learnt from an elderly Christian friend decades ago which is "Let go - let God". God bless.

Valerie 

 

From Lyn and Peter Wicken.

 

Although we have been unable to  attend services in person during the pandemic we have been watching Songs of Praise and the Sunday service on T.V.  We also follow the Lectionary readings and really look forward to your  weekly Bible studies, Colin which we discuss together so Jesus is never far from our thoughts. If we had been present at the Last Supper we would have felt slightly confused and sad at Jesus’s comments but at the same time pleased and honoured to accept the bread and wine. Lin andPeter Wicken Benfleet Methodist.


 

From Adrian Nunn- I think it interesting to ask how we would all have reacted if we had attended many of the stories we hear about Jesus in the Bible. I have always felt it must have been so much easier for the first disciples, as they knew him personally. I am sure there was a presence about him which lead them do walk away from their jobs to follow him. However we often read how confused the disciples were listening to Jesus’s teachings. They got to hear the words once, and either had an immediate understanding, or often not. We on the other hand have heard the stories dozens, hundreds, even a thousand times, had study groups, and commentaries from numerous sources to help. We have an instruction manual, the Bible, against as I said, the disciples hearing his words once and being judged on their immediate understanding.

In summary would I have reacted differently to the crowds? We would all love to think we would, but there are many occasions I can look back on my life and I think I would have reacted differently if I knew then what I know now. So after two thousand years worth of discussion, I suspect I would have reacted the same a everyone else, only now would I see the errors of my ways.


 

From Sue Sandling - We have been asked to share or reflect on experiences of provision, need or grace during this pandemic. And last week we were asked to reflect on our experience during this time: if we have found time to be with Jesus and how we might be more mindful about caring for ourselves. I would like to share my personal reflections.   I feel that I have learnt through this time of pandemic to put my trust more fully in the Lord.  I always thought that I did but, going through this difficult time, I have come closer to realising what it really means to put my trust in the Lord.  I’m not there yet, but I am trying, and I feel that I have experienced the grace and help that He gives.  During this lockdown, as well as all the uncertainty and the different ways of living, I also have a great concern for my family member who is very unwell.  I knew that I couldn’t get through this time without God’s help and decided that I needed to trust God in this situation and to rely on Him and I have been trying to become closer to Him. I have also realised more fully that God truly loves us and always wants the best for us. To help me to come closer to God I have been noting different bible verses and reciting them out loud to confirm God’s promises.  Some of the verses I use are –

‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your paths.’

‘Draw near to God and He will draw near to you’.

And I recite these two verses every morning – ‘This is the day that the Lord has made.  We will rejoice and be glad in it’.  And,

‘The Steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.  His mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning.  Great is Your faithfulness.’    And I thank God every morning and gratefully receive the mercies that He will give me for the day.

About last week’s reading of Jesus being anointed with expensive perfume and this week’s reading of the last supper. When I’m asked about imagining that I was there, in the same place with Jesus, I never really know how I would feel. I hope I would have believed that He was special but would my scepticism have been too powerful to allow me to realise who Jesus was.  I just don’t know.  Hopefully, it would have been so wonderful to be in His presence that I would experience and recognise His holiness.  

The follow up activity this week asks us to think of past needs and the help received and how we can pay it forward and help others who may be in need of some sort.  During this time of Lent, I have been reading the book of James and trying to understand what God is saying through that.  I seem to feel the importance of Faith accompanied with action is the message I'm receiving but how to do this during these times of restrictions is not clear.  I definitely need Jesus' leading.


 

My grateful thanks again to all who have shared their thoughts. And now to this week's Lenten Study. I am really looking forward to hearing your thoughts and experiences on today’s topic of Isolation. Colin.


 

Week Three - Hear and There Scene 3- Isolation 

 

Each of us have had extended times of being away from those we love because of the pandemic. We reflect on the experience of Jesus feeling isolated and alone in the garden of Gethsemane, and we explore what it means to truly ‘be there’ for someone – in alternative and creative ways –through times of separation.

 

The garden of Gethsemane –     Mark 14.32-42

They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. And he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.’ And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him.

He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’ He came and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, ‘Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep awake one hour? Keep awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ And again he went away and prayed, saying the same words. And once more he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy; and they did not know what to say to him. He came a third time and said to them, ‘Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Enough! The hour has come; the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.’

 

 Voices

Here- A Relative making a Covid-secure visit to a residential home

 

I keep hearing the phrase, ‘We stay apart so that when we can meet again, no one is missing.’ Doesn’t make it any easier in the meantime. But we’re doing this because we love each other and want to protect one another. It’s for the best – keeping our distance, relying on phone calls and letters. It’s frustrating – I want to be there for you, just as we always have been, but it’s impossible right now. We’re both exhausted, you and me, it’s been a long road since this virus first started. We don’t know when respite is coming – the vaccine is out there but the timing isn’t in our hands. It broke my heart to hear you upset on the phone, begging me to come and see you when the first lockdown lifted,

but I knew it still wasn’t safe. It’s tough on all of us, but I know you feel cut off, isolated from the rest of the family. But you’re doing great – the staff tell me you’re keeping your spirits up for the most part, you always have a smile for them. Don’t worry, please, we’re almost there. We just have to keep each other going. We have to trust, believe, that we’ll see each other properly soon. You’re in safe hands, I’m carrying on keeping everyone else going. I’d do anything to be there for you, I really would, but this pandemic divides us, physically. But not in spirit. No, not in spirit.

 

There - A Disciple in the garden

 

Lord, I want to be there for you, just as you asked, but it’s so hard. We’re exhausted, it’s been such a long day – a long week – a long road since we started out on this journey with you. We don’t know when the next rest is coming, it’s draining, and when we do lie down, we’re asleep as soon as our heads hit the ground. It broke my heart when you got angry with us, shouted at us, pleaded with us to stay with you. I want to. If willpower alone was enough, I’d always be there, by your side, day and night, ready to act, ready

to defend, be whatever you need me to be. I know you’re struggling, I hear the distress in your voice, see the look in your eyes. Is it fear? Doubt? This is tough on all of us, and I know it affects you more than us, you’re cut off in a way, isolated, taking the brunt of all this. But you’re doing great – did you hear those crowds the other day?! We just have to keep each other going. Don’t worry, Lord, please, we’re almost there. I’d do anything to be there for you in this moment, I really would, but my body won’t let me.

 

Conversation and reflection

1 Sacrifices come in all shapes and sizes. Are there any sacrifices you feel that you may have had to make during the pandemic to keep one another safe, (or to keep a particular person safe) and how it has felt?

2 How have you felt or experienced Jesus’ presence during times of isolation?

3 Share some ‘good news’ stories about new and creative ways people have found to support one another in the last few months.

 

Listen

I am Here for You Stuart Townend.         https://youtu.be/L31i6E3eaPI

 

[Verse 1]
When the load is hard to bear
And the fog of fear envelops you
Let me be the friend to share
In the pain that you are walking through
When you stumble on this narrow road
And it feels like you're forsaken
There is one thing that is sure to hold
I am here for you

[Verse 2]
Curse the pride and burn the shame
When it chokes the voice inside of you
Nothing is too dark to name
When you know that I am broken too
When the cries of hurt rage in your head
And they goad you to destruction
I can be the voice of calm that says
I am here for you

[Turn]

[Verse 3]
There's a greater Love than mine
That is closer than a brother
Power to break the chains that bind
And to comfort like no other
He has walked this desperate road before
And He's walking here beside you
For through every drought and every storm
He is here for you

[Outro]
I am here for you

 

 

Can you hear me? Thomas Hewitt-Jones, sung by the Choir

of Royal Holloway.   https://youtu.be/nGrVbzIC1gM


 

Prayer action

Take a moment or two to look through a window, or to stand facing a wall, or to hold a family photograph, and pray for those, particularly  in care homes who may, still be unable to see loved ones regularly and ‘normally’.

 

A Prayer:

Caring, compassionate God, it’s not easy for those who are far from family. Those in residential and nursing homes have been particularly affected by this pandemic. They have lost friends and relatives, and haven’t been able to see their family. As we age, communication can become more difficult and we adapt less easily to new technologies. We ask your blessing on each person living in a care home, and for each of the staff looking after them. We pray for their families and friends. God grant that we may feel connected despite distance. Amen.


 

Follow-up activity

During this coming week, contact someone who may be feeling especially isolated at this time, and/or consider sending a gift to care staff at local residential and nursing homes, to encourage them at this time.


 

I hope that you have found this week's Lenten reflection on the theme of “Isolation” thought provoking and hopefully helpful. Please let me know your thoughts, insights and responses and these can be included for our mutual benefit and blessing in next week's study. 

 

In Christian Love

 

Colin