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Today’s reflection, Stones, is written by Paul Butler and is based on a selection of verses from Psalm 90 and then Chapter 7 of the First Book of Samuel; the music is Faithful God which is followed by some poetry from Brian. We conclude with the prayer of the week. 

Psalm 90

1  Lord, you have been our refuge 
   from one generation to another.
2  Before the mountains were brought forth,
      or the earth and the world were formed, 
   from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3  You turn us back to dust and say: 
   ‘Turn back, O children of earth.’
4  For a thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday, 
   which passes like a watch in the night.
10  The days of our life are three score years and ten,
      or if our strength endures, even four score; 
   yet the sum of them is but labour and sorrow,
      for they soon pass away and we are gone.
14  Satisfy us with your loving-kindness in the morning, 
   that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
16  Show your servants your works, 
   and let your glory be over their children.

1 Samuel Chapter 7, Verses 15 to 17

15 Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16 He went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah; and he judged Israel in all these places. 17 Then he would come back to Ramah, for his home was there; he administered justice there to Israel, and built there an altar to the Lord.

A reflection, Stones

Sue and I have reached an age where we can look back on the different chapters of our lives; viewing our story we recall the ebb and flow, the joy and sorrow, the hope and despair – the highs and the lows! At the time, when we experienced those Houston situations, it was hard to see God at work, but in time and with perspective we’ve been able to discern God’s Fine Italian Hand.

In Psalm 90, the writer declares: Lord, you have been our refuge from one generation to another. This is a psalm that speaks of God’s faithfulness to his people over many generations. When God demonstrated his saving power for Israel or there was a powerful divine encounter, they set up stones as a reminder for future generations of God’s faithfulness and consistency. 

In the reading from 1 Samuel 7, we find Samuel his holding his circuit court in 3 locations that were significant in Israel’s history: Bethel, were Jacob met with God and set a up a stone as a reminder of that encounter (Genesis 35:1-15); Gilgal, where the Children of Israel after forty years in the desert crossed over Jordan into the Promised Land, and are commanded to set up twelve stones – yes, you’ve got it,  as a memorial to God’s faithfulness for future generations (Joshua 4); Mizpah, where God thundered from heaven and Israel’s enemies were routed (1 Samuel 7:7-12).  Samuel judges intentionally in those places – this is not disconnected or haphazard geography – but because the stone or stones in those places speak of the faithfulness of God.

I’m so grateful for God’s faithfulness to me, even when I’m weak and faithless. When I take the opportunity to do a quick fly-drive over my life, I can visual the ‘stones’ I’ve set up to God’s extravagant grace and love; and of course, the greatest ‘stone’ to God’s faithfulness is the Cross of Jesus Christ.

Perhaps we could all take time today to reflect on God’s faithfulness in our lives; to imagine those ‘stones’ we have set up to God’s kindness and deliverance –  and give thanks.

And perhaps during the Covid Crisis we might raise new stones . . . 

Lord, you have been our refuge 

   from one generation to another.

Paul Butler, 2nd June 2020

The music ….

Faithful One

A Poem, There is no end

There is no end to frail life’s uncertainty –
We are but human and must not forget
Life is a gift,and not a right or burden,
A precious treasure,not a weighty debt.

Jesus has warned us that our life is passing –
We should not love it more than we love Him.
We can enjoy the world where God has set us,
But never spoil it for each selfish whim.

Sadness and sorrow will of course assail us –
They are, with joy, the fabric of our life.
Quiet endurance and concerned endeavour
Will help us though the times of stress and strife.

God, give us strength to cope, through all our struggles,
Christ, be our guide in happiness and fear,
Spirit,sustain us in true love of others,
That we may know Your presence,ever near.

by Brian Macdonald-Milne

Prayer of the day

O Lord, from whom all good things come:
grant to us your humble servants,
that by your holy inspiration
we may think those things that are good,
and by your merciful guiding may perform the same;
through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.