This Sunday we left the bandstand to reflect as we walked alongside the Derwent river in the park. Rivers feature large in the Bible and as we read different extracts from the Bible it all came to life somehow as we looked at the fast-flowing water and banks and trees…
We each had a large stone, a pen and leaves. Here are the words we used:
- Walking beside the river away from the town:
Ezekiel 47– The River in the New Jerusalem. A prayer for the healing of the nations
Then he led me back to the bank of the river. 7 When I arrived there, I saw a great number of trees on each side of the river…12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow on both banks of the river. Their leaves will not wither, nor will their fruit fail. Every month they will bear fruit, because the water from the sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing.’
Find some leaves and write on them the names of nations in need of healing. Throw the leaves into the water and pray for the rise of peacemakers and the fall of warmongers…
- Going to the white water nearer the town and bridge…
Joshua 1– 4(selected verses) The crossing of the Jordan. Claiming God’s help for others.
Cross this Jordan River, you and all the people. Cross to the country I’m giving to the People of Israel. I’m giving you every square inch of the land you set your foot on—just as I promised Moses. ‘When you come to the edge of the Jordan’s waters, stand there on the river bank.’” Then Joshua addressed the People of Israel: “Attention! Listen to what God, your God, has to say. This is how you’ll know that God is alive among you… Look at what’s before you: the Chest of the Covenant. Think of it—the Master of the entire earth is crossing the Jordan as you watch. When the soles of the feet of the priests carrying the Chest of God, Master of all the earth, touch the Jordan’s water, the flow of water will be stopped—the water coming from upstream will pile up in a heap.” And that’s what happened. The river went dry all the way down to the Arabah Sea (the Salt Sea). And the people crossed, facing Jericho. And there they stood; those priests carrying the Chest of the Covenant stood firmly planted on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel crossed on dry ground. Finally the whole nation was across the Jordan, and not one wet foot…. “Each of you heft a stone to your shoulder, a stone for each of the tribes of the People of Israel, so you’ll have something later to mark the occasion. When your children ask you, ‘What are these stones to you?’ you’ll say, ‘The flow of the Jordan was stopped in front of the Chest of the Covenant of God as it crossed the Jordan—stopped in its tracks. These stones are a permanent memorial for the People of Israel.’”
Think about the barriers or hurdles in the way of people known to you who are facing a scary future or a life-changing event. God promises to ford such ‘rivers’ ahead of us and lead us to the other side in safety. Name those people who are on one side of their challenge. Pray that they will know God’s special help in leading them over. Take your stone and put it with the others to make our own reminder that today we have claimed God’s promises for those people.
- 3. Returning to the central bridge opposite the bandstand…
Isaiah 43 Getting through rough waters. A prayer for yourself
43 1-4 But now, God’s Message,
the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Saviour.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you.
5 “So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.
What is it that you are facing now, or will potentially face that concerns or frightens you? Hear God’s promise to you – that there is nothing that will overwhelm you. You are loved beyond your wildest imagination! Cross the bridge as a symbol of that successful crossing in the future.
On your way across hear God say ‘I’ll be there with you… Don’t be afraid’
On your way back place yourself in God’s protection. You may want to use one or more of the following responses:
‘I will trust in you’… ‘I receive your love’… ‘You are with me’…
- To the weeping beech…
So much of what we had reflected on was about remembering – remembering the promise of the renewed earth to come, of God’s help and rescue… and now we were remembering what Jesus did for us. The bread we shared was a rosemary foccacia – rosemary being traditionally linked to remembering. And so we shared bread and wine in communion with all those we had held in prayer…