- Continuing to get to know each other better, in what ways have you been provided for, practically by friends, families, organisations, or ‘supernaturally’.
- What questions did your housegroup have last week? What debates were on the forum (http://bit.ly/bbwk1), which have raised new questions from last week (5 minutes).
Tom Wright introduces ‘God’s Provision’:
Automated transcript (needs some tweaking)
In the small group, listen to the reading Matthew 8:23-27 as it is read to you. If you are joining online, an audioversion can be found here.
Discuss together your responses to the following questions. (Approx 20-30mins, depending on the size of the group)
- What did you like best about the passage and why?
- What did you not like about the passage and why?
- Which part of the passage is the most important for you and why?
- Which part of the passage would you leave out today and why?
In the printed material, and available on line, you have access to a story and a reflection based on a response to today’s reading.
Listen to the story and the reflection: Facing the flood
While working in Eritrea, East Africa, I joined a UN team of four people to assess various sites that would receive returning refugees. We worked out an itinerary that would take us around much of the west and north of the country in six days on dirt tracks and through challenging mountainous terrain.
On day four, the journey involved driving along a river in a mountain valley over soft mud and boulders. Soft rain started to fall. We needed to complete this journey quickly as rivers in this part of Eritrea are unpredictable and prone to flash floods. We zig-zagged across the five-metre wide stream several times. I watched the car ahead of us attack the river once again but this time the front end plunged at speed into an invisible pool of soft mud and stuck fast.
20 miles north of us at Mahimet there was a team of Eritrean fighters. They had spent 30 years on this river fighting the Ethiopian regime. We would need to persuade them to pull us free. I went with one other team member to Mahimet and we found the army camp. The senior officer looked worryingly at the increasing rainfall and quickly mobilised soldiers and an enormous six-wheel drive army truck that had been captured from the Ethiopian army during the war. I travelled with the monster truck back to our stricken vehicle. The return journey of 20 miles took an hour and a quarter. It seemed agonisingly slow and I prayed that we would get to the vehicle on time. On arrival the fighters worked quickly to attach the winch and then it came. One single wave swept down the valley and within a minute the stream became a furious flood. The flood water hit the rear windscreen and would have swept the Landcruiser down the river except of the winch cable and monster truck. They ensured that the car was held fast and winched to safety.
The river was now 50 metres wide and trapped us against the bank. We knew that we wouldn’t be going anywhere until the flood had subsided sometime over the next day. Plenty of time to get acquainted with new friends and to thank God for his protection!
It strikes me that there are two journeys in today’s passage. There is the journey across the lake but there is a second journey from the wilderness to the cross. The boat trip has the disciples fearing for their lives but Jesus knows that his time has not yet come. The longer journey still has some distance to run.
On the face of it is seems a little harsh that when the water starts to flood over the side of the boat the disciples are rebuked for their lack of faith. But Jesus is aware that the time will come when he will no longer be in the boat beside them. The disciples must have faith in the calling that they have been given to tell and live out the gospel. They cannot afford to become distressed by the storms of the moment.
The hazardous boat journey graphically illustrates the cost of being a disciple. Jesus was at pains to spell this out before they set off from the shore.
“Foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head”. Being a follower of Jesus involves a restless journey. Have we become too comfortable? I ask myself what fears keep me from journeying to a new place in my walk as a disciple of Christ? Fears maybe of too many commitments or that I don’t have the skills for something new or concerns about what others may think.
As this week is Climate Week we might reflect on what it means to be a disciple of Christ in a culture so dominated by consumerism. In pursuing a Christian lifestyle what actions can we take and what things might we have to let go? The disciples allowed themselves to be tested when they got into the boat. Do we?
Steve Hucklesby is Public Issues Policy Advisor for the Methodist Church in Britain.
PUDDING (Pick One!)
- “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6: 9-13). Why is there famine in the world? Does/should God provide all, or do we have our own areas of responsibility here?
- “The world and all that is in it belong to the Lord” (Psalm 24:1). This week is Climate Change Week, a week in which we are encouraged to look at how we use everything that God has provided/entrusted us with. What responsibilities do we have, and what practical solutions can you put forward, e.g. saving energy, recycling, using natural resources, recommended products. (See: http://www.climatestewards.net)
- Look at pp24-26 in Tom Wright’s book. We can’t necessarily carry on doing things the way we were: Jesus did things differently and challenged the status quo. New technology provides new challenges and opportunities, discuss some that you have seen in http://bit.ly/gpQ1dJ.
Access and join in the debates online: http://bit.ly/bbwk2
- Consider the words of this 1912 hymn “Unto the hills I lift my eyes” (http://12baskets.co.uk/view/hymns/63134), and consider the ‘provisions’ that are outlined. Be thankful for them.
- Look at p27 of Tom Wright’s book: “This is my dear son, and I’m delighted with him. Pay attention to him.” How would you depict Jesus (or e.g. his words) in word, music or picture? Consider uploading your materials to 12baskets (http://12baskets.co.uk/sections/images)
- Look at pp 29-32of Tom Wright’s book. “Lent is a great time for pausing and pondering, for reading more deeply and, perhaps, more slowly.” Read the Psalm through slowly, remembering that Jesus used this as a prayer, and pray for those who are still suffering in small and large ways.
AFTER DINNER CHOCS
- Blessed are… buy a bunch of flowers and give them to a stranger.
- Leave an anonymous present on someone’s desk/doorstep
- Send an email to your local MP, asking them to support to regulation of food speculation: http://bit.ly/mpfood
- 8.3 million tonnes of food is thrown away by households in the UK every year. Do a ‘food audit’ for the week, and use the advice on http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/ to make some changes.
- A Tole-Rant is a 60 second heartfelt video about a social problem that points to a solution, inspiring hope in the viewer. Create a 60-second Tole-Rant on the subject of Climate Change: http://www.tole-rants.com/.
WEEK 2 (Word.doc) (12baskets have PDF version for download)