Daily Worship

Week of 27 August – 02 September 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

 

What do we mean when we speak of Jesus as Messiah and Saviour? There are so many meanings to these words that we need to be careful not to reduce them to only a small glimpse of the whole. One of the ways we reduce the power of these titles is when we make them all about escaping from this world and spending eternity somewhere else. Jesus does offer us forgiveness, freedom from the power of sin, and eternal life. But, Jesus also offers us a new way of living here and now. As Messiah, Jesus is the one who establishes God’s Reign among us, and who empowers us to live as citizens of God’s Reign who participate in making God’s dream for the cosmos a reality. As Saviour, Jesus breaks the power of evil, death, violence, retaliation, and hatred by absorbing the worst that humanity can do and refusing to retaliate, and by showing us a different way to live. In this way, Jesus saves us from our worst selves, here and now, and leads us to live from our best.

So, we have no need to wait for heaven after we die. We can begin to experience God’s life, grace, love, liberty and justice now – God’s kingdom coming to us here on earth, as Jesus taught us to pray. And, as we grow in our understanding and experience of God’s Reign, so we begin to share the life and love we have received with those around us. In this way we contribute to the expansion of God’s dream in the world, and we participate in the saving work of Jesus.

This week we meditate on God’s salvation as a present reality in which we participate here and now.

To download this week’s reflections in PDF format, click through to the downloads page.

Daily Worship

Week of 20 – 26 August 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

A word that is often associated in the Bible with God’s salvation is “mercy.” Writer and poet Calvin Miller once defined mercy as “giving a thumbs up to an old antagonist at the end of your sword.” It is the choice to treat others with grace, forgiveness, compassion and love, no matter who they are and what they have done. Mercy is often spoken of by the biblical writers as one God’s primary attributes, and if it were not for God’s mercy we would have no hope of overcoming the broken and destructive forces within us and around us.

In the Lectionary this week God’s mercy is expressed through Joseph, who forgives his brothers, through Isaiah’s call for all people to receive God’s mercy and treat one another accordingly, through Paul’s declaration that both Jews and Gentiles are recipients of God’s mercy, and through Jesus’ surprising interaction with a Gentile woman. There can be no question that giving mercy to us is high on God’s agenda. But, so is God’s desire that we should become people of mercy who release our need for vengeance and retribution, and who embrace forgiveness and restorative justice.

This week we explore the depths and challenges of God’s mercy.

 

 

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Daily Worship

Week of 13 – 19 August 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

This week the Lectionary readings are all about God’s salvation. Whether it’s Joseph bringing God’s salvation to Egypt, or Elijah receiving God’s visitation and the power to bring salvation to Israel, or Peter and the other disciples being saved from the storm, God’s work to save God’s people is at the forefront of the readings. But there are always two movements to these stories. Firstly people who are under threat are rescued by an act of God, and then, secondly, they are sent to share their experience with others, both by telling their story and by being agents of salvation to other needy ones. This is the biblical pattern for all followers of God’s ways – we are saved, and then we become channels of God’s salvation.

What is also important about the biblical stories of salvation is that they do not focus only on what happens after we die. While there is certainly an element of being invited into God’s eternal life and overcoming the power of death, salvation, in the biblical sense, is much more than this. It includes bringing healing, justice, peace, sufficiency, and joy into the world now. This is not the same as the prosperity message of some preachers, in which we simply confess whatever we want and believe God will give it to us. Rather, this is a call to participate in God’s mission to make the entire world whole and one in Christ. So, as we experience God’s gift of the grace, love, and strength that we need to navigate this world in fullness of life, so we seek to share it with as many others as we can.

This week we open ourselves a little more to God’s saving grace, and seek to become agents of salvation in our world.

 

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Daily Worship

Week of 06 – 12 August 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Meals have always been important in God’s activity in the world. The Exodus was remembered through a special Passover meal, the people of Israel were fed with manna and quail in the wilderness, and in Jesus’ ministry, much of his teaching and many of his resurrection appearances happened at meal times. It seems that, in God’s Reign, the sharing of food, and the connection that happens as we eat together, are essential elements. Certainly, hospitality was considered a basic expectation of all people in biblical communities, and in the New Testament hospitality is strongly linked with holiness.

This week the Gospel reading in the Lectionary relates the feeding of probably close on fifteen thousand people (the reading mentions five thousand men). As Jesus established his new community, with a new (or fulfilled) law, he also gave us a new meal to celebrate the new covenant which we enjoy with God. When we share a meal, we remember that God has provided for us, and that God is present in our fellowship and sharing. We also remember that God calls us to share God’s hospitality – God’s inclusive covenant – with the world.

This week we celebrate God’s hospitality to us, and we learn to share it with others in whatever way we can.

To download this week’s reflections in PDF format, click through to the downloads page.

Daily Worship

Week of 30 July – 05 August 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The word ‘obedience’ carries a lot of baggage for many of us. We may remember harsh teachers, parents or ministers who threatened us with pain and rejection unless we complied with the letter of their law. We may feel that any call to obedience robs us of our independence and individuality, and we may want to resist conforming or being part of what feels like a system of control. But, there’s a reason that the old hymn connected obeying with trusting. When we feel that the law and those who uphold it are not trustworthy, we will always struggle with obedience. But, when we trust that the call to obedience is an invitation to live in ways that are in our best interests, we will comply far more easily.

The Bible makes no apology for calling us to obey God’s call. The way of Jesus is not the easiest path to follow, and living by the values and priorities of Jesus is often painful. But, the values and priorities of our world are clearly not working for all but a few, and we need a new way to be – a way that leads us into sharing with, caring for, and connecting with one another more deeply. This new way is what Jesus called the Reign of God, and obedience to this way leads us all into the best life possible for human beings.

This week we explore again the call – the invitation – to obey the ways of God’s Reign.

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Daily Worship

Week of 23 – 29 July 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Where do you place your hope? If we view the world through the lens of our society’s values and goals, we probably hope for quick resolutions to the problems that plague us most. We make easy judgements about what we consider good and bad, and we seek to have the bad eradicated as swiftly as possible. We may even place our hope in those leaders whom we believe will most quickly and easily shape the world according to our view of how it should be – which view is usually itself shaped by the images of a perfect world that are constantly offered to us in the media.

But, this week the Scriptures offers us two words of caution and of hope. The first is that the world is on a purposeful course toward the dream of God for the wholeness and unity of all things. The second is for us to acknowledge that our view of good and bad is often limited, and so we need to wait patiently, trust in God, and allow God to work out God’s purposes according God’s eternal timeline.

This week we explore what it means to build our lives on these foundational truths.

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Daily Worship

Week of 16 – 22 July 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Sometimes it feels like God has gone silent. We may feel, at times, that we don’t know how to hear what God is saying to us. We may watch others who claim to hear God speaking all the time, and wonder what they have that we don’t. Or we may believe that we hear God speaking to us regularly, but we fail to listen to these messages with discernment, measuring them against what the Scriptures have revealed. We have all experienced moments when what is called the voice of God speaking turns out to be nothing more than personal preference or desire.

The Bible tells us that God has already spoken and given us all we need to live an abundant life. Perhaps before we seek special “words” from God, we should focus on trying to live according to the words we have already received. We may need the promptings of the Spirit to remind us of specific passages of Scripture, but no new revelation can ever replace what God has already revealed in the Bible.

This week we remember how God has already spoken to us, and we seek to live out what we have already heard through Jesus..

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Daily Worship

Week of 09 – 15 July 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

It is always tempting to frame God’s invitation in the terms of human systems of power, comfort, and knowledge. But, when we do this, we do not find the rest or the life of Christ. On the contrary, we end up trapped in systems of achievement, exclusivity, and constant striving, which contribute to our brokenness, even though we may seek to sanctify them with the name of Christ. The reality that we need to face as followers of Jesus, is that we often misunderstand what really brings us life and rest. We often seek for God’s life in the wrong places, and we often seek for God’s rest in things that only lead us into further striving, busyness, and exhaustion. This means that we need to listen more carefully to what Jesus offers when he calls us to enter God’s rest.

To begin with, we need to be willing to hear that God’s rest is usually found in places which we view as the least likely. We will need to be willing to place our faith in the ways of Christ that go against the current of the society around us. If we genuinely seek God’s life and rest, we will automatically place ourselves apart from the strategies of the world around us. This may mean that we will be seen as aloof or critical of the world, and so we may experience some rejection or even conflict. But, the paradox of the Gospel is that God’s life and rest, God’s comfort and healing, can be found and experienced even in the midst of crisis, pain and suffering.

This week we will listen again for God’s call to rest, we will seek to share this call with others, and we will discover that joy is available to us, no matter what we may be facing in our lives.

To download this week’s reflections in PDF format, click through to the downloads page.