Daily Worship

Week of 04 – 10 September 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Jesus’ promise of abundant life can trip us up if we view it through the lens of our world’s values. If we think of abundant life as an individual experience of security, wealth and instant gratification, we miss Jesus’ point entirely, and we will be sorely disappointed by our faith. But, if we can break free of this self-centred, short-term, “quick-fix” view, we will discover something far richer – a life that connects us more deeply with God, others and our world, and that brings well-being to all through the values of simplicity, service and sacrifice. It is easy to see that this offer of abundant life is costly and goes against the culture of our society – and this is why the Scriptures warn us against taking our faith lightly, or responding to Jesus too easily. If we are to live as true followers of Christ, we need to count the cost and embrace the daily call to take up our crosses.

In a world where the instant and the immediate are valued over the lasting and the long-term, embracing a lifetime of learning to live the Jesus way can be hard to conceive of, let alone to do. But, as we choose afresh each day to value God’s Reign above our own small empires, and the short-term rewards of our world, we move deeper into union with God, and our whole frame of reference slowly changes. Then, over time, our lives begin to reflect the life-bringing grace, compassion and justice of Jesus – and that is good news for us and for those whom our lives touch.

This week we will be seeking to count the cost of following Jesus, while opening ourselves to this alternative life of God.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 28 August – 03 September 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

In our celebrity-obsessed world, the quest for recognition, influence, wealth, fame and the praise of others drives all too many of us. Ultimately, this pride-filled drivenness leads us into conflict and destructiveness, as all of life becomes a game of winners and losers. The great narratives of different faiths are then placed in competition with each other for the ‘honour’ of being the ‘ultimate truth’. The priorities of nations are placed into conflict as politicians wrestle to find a place in the corridors of world power, while their people’s needs are used as bargaining chips or forgotten altogether. Values, integrity and fidelity all end up being expendable as success, victory or popularity become the ends which justify any means. And, as this driven, competitive way of being spreads through the world, we all pay the price in increasing rates of divorce, heart (and other) disease, conflict and inequality. But, of course, those who end up paying the most are those at the ‘bottom’ of the game – the innocent losers.

Into all of this a simple word of justice speaks – humility can heal our world. As we learn, individually, nationally and globally, to live with simplicity, contentment, respect and integrity – and expect the same from our leaders and our corporations – the game of winners of losers begins to shift to a playful, collaborative game of shared benefit. And then, our eyes are opened to the fullness of life that is found in the hidden, poor and forgotten places – places that the rich and wealthy never see.

This call to a healing humility is the focus of our meditations this week.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 17 – 23 April 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The question of Jesus’ identity arises often in John’s Gospel. While the other Gospels make much of Jesus’ frequent instruction for those who recognised him as Messiah not to tell anyone, John’s Gospel does not emphasis this “Messianic secret” as much. Rather, in passages like the Gospel reading for this Sunday, Jesus seems quite comfortable to claim the title of Messiah – although still in an enigmatic way. One thing is very clear in all of the Gospels – Jesus was very different kind of Messiah from the one the people expected. This is why the question of faith is central to John’s Gospel. As in this week’s reading, John constantly contrasts those who fail to believe (or who believe only in miracles) and those whose faith is genuine.

At the heart of John’s picture of Jesus is the final statement in today’s reading: “The Father and I are one”. This is not a statement about God’s gender. It’s a statement about God’s nature. If we want to know what God is like, we need only look to Jesus. Any time our ideas about God contradict what we see in Jesus, we must know that we’ve misunderstood God. Jesus reveals what God is really like – offensively inclusive, radically compassionate, restoratively just, and self-sacrificially loving. This week our meditations will lead us into a deeper glimpse of how Jesus – the Good Shepherd – reveals God to us.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 10 – 16 April 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

All the readings in the Lectionary this week speak of living with a sense of call. This does not mean that we all have to be apostles, or become ordained, full-time ministers in the church. Rather, it means that, as we embrace the resurrected way of life, we discover that our lives are not random. How we live and what we do matter. The small actions, attitudes, words, and thoughts that fill our days can contribute to revealing God’s Reign in our world, or they can help to keep God’s Reign hidden. When we embrace the resurrection not just as a past, historical event, but as a calling to live daily in the power of God’s life, then our lives make a positive difference in the world. In this sense, we are all called.

When we make the resurrection nothing more than a past miracle, or a hope for a future life after death, we rob it of its power to impact our lives now. This is why the Scriptures constantly call us to see the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as a journey that we must also experience. Each day gives us an opportunity to release our own desires, agendas, and self-protectiveness, and to be raised to a life that is centred around the love, justice, and grace of God. Each day offers us a chance to share God’s life with those around us. And each day offers us the gift of experiencing God’s love for ourselves a little more. When we receive these opportunities with gratitude and mindfulness, we discover that everything we do is filled with a sense of meaning, purpose and life. This is what it means to live a called life.

This week we will meditate on living with the sense of call that comes from a daily experience of God’s resurrection life.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 03 – 09 April 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

All the readings from the Revised common Lectionary this week call us to celebrate God’s goodness and love. In the Gospel reading, Thomas, who had not been with the other disciples when Jesus first appeared to them, wrestled with faith until, finally, he also encountered the Risen Christ. But, when he did, he responded in praise and celebration. The Gospel writer uses Thomas as an example of the journey which we must all share as we come to faith. Then, in the Revelation, we see the reason for all this praise and celebration as we receive a vision of Christ not just as Risen, but as glorified. These two truths of our faith always go together – Christ is Risen, and Christ is glorified.

Unfortunately, we often misunderstand both of these truths, making Christ out to be some sort of military conqueror who uses violence and domination to destroy his enemies. But, the New Testament is clear that both the resurrection and the glory of Christ flow from his death. We make a mistake when we define God’s Reign according to how human empires work. Rather, the Reign of God, the victory and the glory of Christ must all be understood through the lens of the cross. Our celebration, then, is not of a conquering Emperor, but of a humble servant, and of the life that is found in bringing life to others in acts of love, compassion, service, generosity and justice.

This week, let’s celebrate the life and glory that Jesus revealed, and offered to us, through the way of the cross.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 27 March – 02 April 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Christ is Risen! Once again we proclaim the awesome mystery of our faith! This year, we get to explore the resurrection event through the eyes of the writer of Luke’s Gospel. What is amazing about this account, is that the first witnesses are women (who could not testify in a law court) and two insignificant disciples (one of whom is not even named). Only after this, does Jesus appear to his inner circle! All Peter gets at first, is the enigmatic evidence of an empty tomb. Once again, as with most of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is making the last first and the first last – and this is an important feature of this resurrection account.

When we keep the resurrection in the past – making it only a historical event, and arguing about the facts and details – we keep its transforming power at bay. It’s easy to say “Jesus is risen” without it having any impact on our lives, even if we are wholly convinced of this truth. But, when we allow our hearts to be captivated by resurrection life – the all-embracing, empowering, inclusive, transforming life that transcends all evil and unjust forces that divide and oppress humanity – then we don’t only say “Jesus is risen”, we live it!

In the next fifty days of the Easter season we will be exploring what it means to live now as people of the resurrection – not just people who declare that Jesus was risen in the past.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 20 – 26 March 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

This week we journey through Holy Week – the time when we meditate on Jesus’ final days before his death. In these last moments, Jesus faced strong opposition from the religious leaders as he offered some of his most challenging teachings. But, he also demonstrated to his disciples the grace and love that characterised his ministry. One central theme that runs through the entire week is the meaning of Christ’s death. This is a subject that has been the source of much debate through the centuries, and there are a number of different ways to understand the sacrifice of Jesus. Sometimes it’s best to simply allow the Scriptures to speak without trying to analyse too much, especially during this important season.

As you journey through Holy Week, try to make some extra time to reflect on the life, death and message of Jesus. Meditate on the cost he was willing to pay for the sake of God’s Reign, and on his commitment to love and service above all. Notice how his values challenge and undermine those of human systems of power, wealth, and instant gratification, and investigate the extent to which your own life follows the values of Jesus. If your church is offering services of worship through this week, you might want to make an extra effort to attend in order to allow this significant season to touch your life more deeply.

May this Holy Week bring you closer to Christ, and draw you deeper into the revolutionary reality we call the Reign of God.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 13 – 19 March 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The Lenten season is often viewed as a sombre time. Few people celebrate or enjoy repentance, and the word “discipline” is seldom associated with celebration. Yet, this week, as we enter the final stretch of Lent before the Holy Week journey through Jesus’ suffering, the Lectionary calls us to celebrate. The Gospel reading from John tells of Mary’s extravagant display of devotion to Jesus as she anointed his feet with expensive perfume and dried them with her hair. The Old Testament reading from Isaiah, and the Psalm which is set for this week, call God’s people to celebrate God’s salvation. It may feel strange to speak of celebration in Lent, but all the heart-searching, discipline, and repentance is about becoming whole, living up to our best selves, and enjoying the abundant life that comes from the loving, sacrificial way of Jesus. Mary’s offering is a challenging example of such celebratory devotion.

It can be easy, when faced with the suffering and evil of our world, to lose the capacity to celebrate. It can be easy to become cynical, pessimistic, and despairing as we wait for God’s justice to fill the world. Yet, if we allow ourselves to lose hope and joy, we also lose our capacity to experience God’s life, and to contribute to bringing healing and justice into our small corner. When we live from fear, we become self-protective hoarders who try to hold on to what we have in case things go wrong. Yet, in her love for Jesus and her trust of his way, Mary easily let go of what little wealth she had in order to give herself to the Reign of God that Jesus proclaimed. Following Jesus is not about becoming overly serious and sombre, and it’s not about clinging to survival. Rather, the way of Jesus is the way of extravagant sharing, joyful celebration, and trusting love. This is the call of our meditations this week.

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