Daily Worship

Week of 24 – 30 September 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

One of the ways that grace can be understood is as God’s undeserved generosity. They key in all our dealings with God is that word “undeserved”. It is easy to slip into thinking that health, wealth and happiness are a deserved reward from God given because we are particularly spiritual or “good”. It is just as easy to fall into judgement of those who are sickly, poor or suffering because we believe that their struggles are God’s judgement on some sin in their life. Although this view is sometimes expressed in the Old Testament, it is never seen in Jesus’ teaching.

Both “blessing” and “curses” are simple realities of living in this world. Sometimes we bring them on ourselves, and sometimes they just happen to us, but they are not the results of a fickle God handing out rewards and punishments. But, one thing is clear from the Scriptures: when we are “blessed”, it is never for ourselves alone, but in order for us to be a blessing to others. And when others seem to be “more blessed” than we are, we are not to judge them or question God’s justice. We are to give thanks for what we have received, while rejoicing in the good fortune of those around us.

This week we seek to release our feelings of deservedness and undeservedness and learn to celebrate and share in whatever way we can – especially with those who are suffering.

 

 

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Daily Worship

Week of 17 – 23 September 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

 

God’s gift of forgiveness is priceless and life-giving. But, somehow living up to what we say is a lot harder. While we may acknowledge that God forgives us, we often struggle to forgive ourselves. And, while we may acknowledge that God forgives those who have hurt us, we often find it very difficult to extend forgiveness to others. We define justice largely in terms of retribution, and so we feel that forgiveness lets the perpetrator off the hook. We have also learned that our pain can give us a sense of power, and so we become reluctant to release our hurts and move on. Yet, while we nurse our wounds, the ones against whom we hold our grudges often continue with their lives, unaware of our anger and unaffected by our unforgiveness. In the end, the only ones we hurt are ourselves.

But, the call to forgive goes even deeper. The word for forgiveness is related, in the Gospels, to the idea of indebtedness. There is a direct correlation between owing a financial debt and needing forgiveness. Yet, the idea of indebtedness goes deeper still. As followers of Christ we are called to live with a continual sense of indebtedness toward others. We are always to feel that we owe our friends, our neighbours, and even our enemies, the debt of love. And it is this awareness of the love we owe to all people that should direct us to forgive whatever debts they may owe us, or whatever hurts they may have inflicted on us. The challenge is to believe that it is the restorative justice of love that truly leads to life.

This week we meditate on God’s forgiveness and the call for us to be people of forgiveness

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

Daily Worship

Week of 10 – 16 September 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

For God’s Reign to become a reality in our world, we must heal the brokenness, violence, injustice, and division that oppose it. The problem is when we begin by identifying evil only outside of us. Then we inevitably ignore the evil within us, and become self-righteous, judgemental and even aggressive as we oppose “the others” in whom we see all that is wrong with the world. This happens both on a global and an inter-personal scale.

But, until we have faced and healed the brokenness and violence within our own hearts, we are unable to be agents of healing to the world. Rather, we find ourselves in the contradictory position of believing we can bring peace through war, unity through judgement, and justice through coercion or domination. It is only when we allow the alternative way of Jesus to change us within, that we can offer a different way of being to those around us. But, once we have done the work of receiving deliverance from our own sin, we become those who radiate the grace and love of God, and we are able to bring liberation to others just by being the Christ-followers we are called to be.

This week our meditations lead us to confront and heal the evil in our own hearts.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 03 – 09 September 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The idea of sacrifice is not a popular one in contemporary society, even though we often applaud those who endure great sacrifice for the common good. It’s ironic that we recognise the value of sacrifice in the lives of others – especially when we benefit from their self-giving – but seek to avoid sacrifice in our own lives. However, when we realise that the word “sacrifice” literally means “to make holy” it becomes clear that sacrifice is a necessary part of growing into our best (holiest or most whole) selves. As the Psalmist proclaimed, God does not require the blood of animals or people as a sacrifice. The sacrifice that God seeks is that of a broken and contrite heart.

The Bible is filled with stories of those who, in their quest to serve God and others, were willing give of themselves and their resources, but of course, the most significant of these is Jesus. He showed what it looks like to choose love over violence or apathy, and made it clear that not even death has the power to overcome the power of love and self-giving. But, as we see in this Sunday’s Gospel reading, even Jesus’ disciples struggled to understand the necessity of sacrifice. That’s why we need to remember that Jesus chose to live in love even though he knew in advance what the consequences would be. And he called us to follow him in this way of love.

This week we meditate on the life-giving power of sacrificial love.

 

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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.