Daily Worship

Week of 26 November – 02 December 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

 

Today is the last Sunday of this Church year. The Sunday before Advent is always known as the celebration of Christ the King or the Reign of Christ. It’s fitting to end the journey of the year by remembering that God’s Reign is among us and is eternal. It is encouraging to keep in mind that the Christ who brings God’s Reign into being, is the one who came as servant of all and who established God’s Reign among us by giving his life to destroy the power of evil and death.

As we end the journey of this year, though, we also prepare ourselves to begin the journey again, which means that in the back of our minds is the truth that this King whom we celebrate is the one who entered our human world and experiences as a new-born baby, and lived a life of humble service and sacrifice. This reminds us that the Reign of Christ is not exercised through force of arms or political manipulation, but through compassion, love and justice.

This week we remember the upside-down Reign of Christ and we commit again to living by its values and priorities.

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Daily Worship

Week of 19 – 25 November 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

What we hope for and desire has the power to motivate us to profound and transforming action. In fact, if we want to know what our real motivations are, we need only look at what we actually do. It is our actions, not our words or even our dreams, that reveal the truest hopes and desires of our hearts. And, if we claim to hope for something, but do nothing to move toward it, we are only deceiving ourselves and our so-called hopes are really just a fantasy.

Nowhere is this more true than when it comes to the Reign of God. Through last week we explored the hope we have in the coming of God’s Reign, and the power of that hope to sustain and strengthen us through the best and worst of times. But, if that hope is real, it must be seen in how we live. If we really believe in God’s Reign me, that must filter through every thought, attitude, word, action and interaction.

This week we meditate on how our hope in God’s Reign translates into hopeful, transforming action.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 12 – 18 November 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Hope has tremendous power to sustain and strengthen us, especially in the most difficult of times. But when our hope is not realised, or when we discover that we have placed our hope in the wrong things, it can be devastating. This is why the Bible calls hope one of the big three characteristics of those who follow Jesus, but it also teaches that we must be careful where we place our hope.

If our hope is in other human beings, or in social and political structures, or in our bank accounts, we will usually be disappointed. These things are not necessarily bad, but they are incapable of sustaining true hope because they do not last and they are fickle. What we need is an object of hope that can remain firm and that can strengthen us even if we know that we may not see our hope fulfilled. When our hope is in something so compelling, so true and good and beautiful, so obviously worthy, our lives find a source of meaning and strength that can carry us for a lifetime. This is because we know that every small step toward that hope is significant, even the full realisation of our hope may only be seen in future generations. This is what God’s Reign is like. It offers a vision of a world that is healed and just, and while we may not experience such a world in our lifetimes, it is worth giving our lives to help humanity make a few small steps toward it.

This week we explore the power of hope, and the vision of God which is the only thing that is truly worthy of our hope.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 05 – 11 November 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

 

The emphasis in the Christ-following life is always on the work of God. It is God’s mission that is important. It is God’s Reign that determines the values and priorities of our lives. It is God’s grace that enables us to be a part of what God is doing. It is God’s love that draws into the way of Jesus, and it is God’s life that flows into and through us. But this does not mean that we have no role to play. When we speak of “letting go and letting God” we too often think of sitting back and waiting for God to make things happen. Our only task, then, is to hold on to certain ideas that we believe are the key to experiencing God’s presence and power. The problem with a passive faith like this is that it inevitably leads us into some degree of hypocrisy. While we may say and think certain things, the focus of action is all on God, and so we may find that our lives begin to drift subtly from the values that we claim to believe.

This is why integrity is such an important value in God’s Reign. It is only when our thoughts, attitudes, feelings, values, priorities, words and behaviour all align that our lives truly reflect God’s mission. And it is only when we live with integrity that we can really experience the fullness of God’s life, because then we’re not just passive observers, but active participants in what God is doing. When our faith embraces every part of our lives, including our actions, it becomes vibrant, creative and life-giving to all around us.

This week we seek to bring our ideas, attitudes, words and actions into one aligned whole.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 29 October – 04 November 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

When we speak about following Jesus, about working for justice, about being holy, and about becoming our best selves, we’re really just speaking about one very simple thing – loving God with everything we are, and loving other people as we would love ourselves. Both Jesus and Paul declare that love is the summary and the fulfilment of the law. Perhaps this is why St. Augustine said “Love God and do what you want.” The meaning, of course, is that actions of justice, holiness, and self-giving flow from a deep and authentic love for God. And if we really love God, we cannot help but love what God loves – which is the world and everyone and everything in it.

The Scriptures speak of love as the end of the law. When we have learned to love as Christ did, we have no need for law, because we will automatically seek the best for those around us, which means we will never do anything deliberately to hurt another person. This love is not just a warm feeling inside. It is a way of being and acting, no matter what we may feel.

This week we explore how the call to love fulfils everything God asks of us.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 22 – 28 October 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

As followers of Jesus who believe in the way of Jesus, it can be tempting to try and impose our view of the world and our standards of behaviour on others. Some branches of Christianity even try to infiltrate social and political structures in order to take them over for Jesus. But, when we do this, we mistake the kingdom of God for the kingdoms of this world, and we turn Jesus into another Caesar. Our task is not to win control over the systems of power in our world. Our job is to follow a completely different path, to embrace a completely different version of power, and to follow Christ in the midst of a world that does not yet manifest God’s Reign to the full. And, while we hope and pray for the day when God’s Reign is fully revealed in our world, we recognise that only God can bring this into being.

On a smaller scale, we also wrestle with the temptation to confuse God’s kingdom with our own little kingdoms. We may seek to become Caesars over those around us, convinced that if they just did what we said they and we would be much happier. Or we may make certain people, ideas, or organisations like Caesars to us, following them with blind obedience. Even though we do need to make commitments to families, employers, and churches, our primary devotion is to God, and it is God’s values and priorities that must take precedence even as we live in these other social groups. So, while we need to “give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar” we must always be careful to “give to God what belongs to God.”

This week we meditate on what it means to live as citizens of God’s Reign in Caesar’s world.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 15 – 21 October 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

We love the Gospel’s invitation. We love to hear that God loves us and welcomes us, and we love to know that grace is extended to cover our wrongdoing and brokenness. What we like less is the Gospel’s confrontation of that which is destructive in our lives. We don’t like to hear that we need to change to become our best selves. But, when it comes to other people, we may be tempted to reverse this trend. We may find ourselves emphasising the confrontation of the Gospel against the “sin” in those with whom we disagree, and we may feel offended by the idea that God would invite those whom we consider less than worthy to be part of God’s family.

But, if we are to embrace the full Gospel that Jesus proclaimed and lived, we must be willing to accept both the gracious invitation of God, and the challenging confrontation of God. While God’s invitation is offered freely to all, including those whom we would rather exclude, God’s confrontation also comes to all. We need God’s grace and love to experience the transforming power of the Spirit, and we need to be transformed to experience God’s abundant life. Until we learn to be comfortable with both invitation and confrontation, we will be unable to make a real difference in the world, because we will either be naive about evil, or we will become legalistic and jugdemental. And neither of these attitudes can bring the healing and change we need.

This week we open ourselves to God’s gracious invitation, and to God’s challenging confrontation.

 

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Daily Worship

Week of 08 – 14 October 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The financial and political systems of our world are said to be structured for the common good, but there is a lot of evidence that suggests that the benefits of these systems are strongly biased toward those who are wealthy, connected, and powerful. Those who have learned how to use the “rules of the game” to their advantage are able to manipulate our systems to their own gain, while those who are outside the networks of power suffer and are often disadvantaged. This reality was no different in any of the eras in which the Bible was written.

However, throughout history there have been groups of people who have challenged the bias and inequality in the world’s systems. There have been those who have exposed the “gatekeepers” who regulate who gets “in” and who is left “out”, and they have sought to live by different values and priorities. Of course, Jesus was the most significant of these prophets, and he called his followers to embrace his alternative way of living, in which the only law was the law of love, and in which everyone belongs. Now as we seek to follow Jesus both personally and together, we are called to bear the fruit of God’s Reign in our own lives – the fruit of compassion, simplicity, inclusivity, grace, generosity, and justice.

This week we meditate on the contrast between Jesus’ way and the ways of our human systems, and we seek to live according to the values of God’s Reign even as we participate in the systems of our society. This may sound challenging – and it is – but it is definitely worth the effort!.

 

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