Thoughts for Tuesday 23rd June 2020

Psalm 86:11-17; Genesis 25:12-18; Revelation 2:8-11
Tuesday 23 June  - Rev.  Jerry Eve
It can be fun to try and locate Bible stories geographically. ‘The territory between Havilah and Shur, to the east of Egypt on the way to Assyria,’ does seem quite specific. Both Havilah and Shur are mentioned seven times each in the Bible. But Genesis happened such a long time ago, that even the most assiduous archaeologists struggle to pinpoint Havilah and/or Shur with any great accuracy. In fact, some will even doubt their existence at all, claiming they were fictional. Where Havilah is concerned (like Shangri-La, or even Brigadoon), there is some basis for this, for it is first mentioned at the beginning of the Bible in the story of the Garden of Eden:
‘A stream flowed in Eden and watered the garden; beyond Eden it divided into four rivers. The first river is the Pishon; it flows around the country of Havilah. (Pure gold is found there and also rare perfume and precious stones.)’ (Genesis 2:10-12)
If it did exist, along with Shur, they’d have been somewhere, we suspect, in the Arabian peninsula. The reason, however, this small part of our three Bible passages for today appealed to me so much on first reading them is that I am aware Havilah has been used as a name for a community project set up by St Andrews Church in Arbroath where our current moderator, Rev Martin Fair, is the minister.
Ordinarily described in their church website as
‘a three-hours-a-day, five-days-a-week drop-in service open to anyone seeking company and non-judgemental listening – we offer simple food and drink (tea, coffee, biscuits, soup lunches) between 12pm and 3pm,’
they are currently offering to shop and collect prescriptions, walk dogs and phone people who, because of coronavirus, aren’t able to leave their homes just now. And just as the Havilah of the Bible is a place of abundant goodness, members of St Andrews Church want their Havilah to be somewhere where anyone – whoever they are – can experience, ‘the river-flow of God’s love and care for them.’
Archaeologists can be a lot more certain about the location of Smyrna, which was situated where Izmir in Turkey is today. One theory for the origin of Smyrna’s name is that it may have been taken from the ancient Greek word for myrrh which, in Biblical times, was Smyrna’s chief export.
If you ever go to Izmir, then a trip up onto Mount Spil overlooking the Gulf of Izmir can be recommended, when you’ll be able to see the famous ‘Weeping Rock’, said by some to have been the tragic Niobe from Greek mythology:
Let us pray:
(and this is taken from the St Andrews Parish Church website in Arbroath)
If you’re looking for a starting point for prayer, why not try the TSP prayer.
• T – take some time to say Thanks to God for all the good things that you have and have known.
• S – most of us are aware of our shortcomings. In our prayers we can say Sorry to God for the ways in which we let him, and ourselves, down.
• P – God is not Santa Claus but he is a loving father and wants to provide for us the things we need. So we can say Please to God as we ask him for those things which are important to us.


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