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.

 

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

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.

Daily Worship

Week of 01 – 07 October 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Once we have found a source of strength, purpose and meaning, it can be tempting to try and regulate who gets to share it. When we experience God’s life and presence in a certain way, it’s fairly easy to believe that everyone needs to connect with God the same way we did. The problem with this view is that we can turn ourselves into gatekeepers for God’s Reign, drawing lines between who is in and who is out. We may also miss the work of God when it comes to us in a new or unfamiliar way, or through an unexpected person.

It takes great humility and openness to accept that God meets us – and everyone else – where we are. God’s grace is extravagantly and shockingly flexible, and it extends to everyone, no matter who they are or what they have done. If this is not the case, then we’re not dealing with grace. The challenge, though, is that grace must always be received, and receiving God’s grace is directly related to how willing we are to see God’s grace at work in others – especially those we would naturally consider underserving. This is the problem with gatekeeping. It tries to close the door on others, and in doing so, it actually closes the door on us.

This week we seek to release our need to be gatekeepers, and open our hearts even more to this radical, all-encompassing grace of God.

 

 

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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.

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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.

 

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