Daily Worship

Week of 24 – 30 December 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The focus of the fourth Sunday in Advent is always Mary, the mother of Jesus. This remarkable woman gave birth not just to a unique baby, but to a whole new way of being through her divine son. One of the problems with Advent and Christmas is that the stories that guide these seasons can be framed in ways that make us passive observers of God’s amazing work. It can be tempting to think of God as dwelling outside of our human world, and swooping in to make things right when they go wrong. It can be tempting to view faith as simply receiving blessing and salvation from God, and then waiting for God to fix the world or take us to heaven. But, to interpret the incarnation in this way is to miss its power and challenge.

The Bible is filled with ordinary people who were used by God to accomplish extraordinary things. Often they did nothing more than live their lives with faithfulness and love, but God used the small seeds of their daily routines to change the world. Mary is one of these people, and her example of faithful obedience is one that can be followed by every God-seeker.

This week we meditate on God’s call to participate in the miracle of incarnation, and we celebrate the Christ Child, and the new way of being that he brought to us.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 17 – 23 December 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

 

Our lives feel so very real and large to us that it can be very difficult to imagine being part of anything bigger than ourselves. Our daily needs and struggles can feel overwhelming and the call to think about – let alone act in service of – anything beyond our daily survival can feel like more than we can manage. When we couple this with the constant call from motivational gurus to make ourselves the centre of our own universes, we may begin to think that the solution to our problems is to become more self-centred, not less.

But, the example that is set for us by the great heroes of faith – not least, John the Baptiser who is the focus of this week’s readings – is that life is not found by focussing on ourselves, but by giving ourselves for the sake of others. When we allow our hearts and desires to be captured by God’s vision of a world of love and justice, and when we allow this vision to lead us beyond ourselves into a much bigger world, we discover a new sense of abundance, purpose and meaning to our lives. It is not self-protection but self-giving that opens us to the best possible human life. The challenge is for us to really believe this.

This week we allow John the Baptiser to teach us to focus not on ourselves, but on God’s mission, and to find life there.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 10 – 16 December 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

 

What message does your life proclaim? Whenever God seeks to do anything in the world, God sends messengers to prepare the hearts of the people. While some of these messengers may be well known or influential figures, others are just ordinary people seeking to live by the values and priorities of Christ as best they can.

In this second week of Advent it is usual to focus on the preparatory ministry of John the Baptiser, but his story is not just about an event that happened long ago. It is about how God always seeks to restore and heal us, and how God always seeks those who will be carriers of God’s message into the world. This means that we are not just witnesses to the story of John’s ministry. We are called to be like John, sharing the vision of God’s coming into our world, and inviting people into a new, restorative relationship with God.

This week we focus on doing the work of preparing our hearts for God’s coming, and also of accepting our calling to be messengers of preparation in our neighbourhoods, homes, and communities.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 03 – 09 December 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

And so the cycle of the year begins again, but with a different perspective. This year the Gospel of Mark (with some input, as usual, from John) gives us the frame through which to view the story of Jesus and its implications for our lives. Advent Sunday always draws our attention to the apocalyptic sayings of Jesus, and the vision he gives of God’s presence breaking into the world of human affairs. As we begin the journey through the life of Jesus, which will fill our worship for the next half a year, we start with God’s hope-filled end in mind. We are reminded that our world is not random, and that the cosmos is moving toward a future of restoration, wholeness and unity in Christ. We are reminded that even in the midst of the world’s turmoil God is at work, and God’s glorious presence is always breaking into our lives.

But, the purpose of the Bible’s prophetic writing is not so much to focus our energy on a future life of bliss and glory. It is to allow our future hope to change how we live and work in our world today. When we realise that God’s dream of wholeness and unity for the cosmos is being worked out in our own time, and in our own lives, it changes how we think, how we interact with others, and how we live. It gives our lives meaning, because we recognise that we are participants in God’s mission. Like those who came before us, and those who come after us, we just have to watch for God’s presence and follow God’s directions, and we will add our small contribution to the great movement of God’s Reign in the world.

This week we reflect on the meaning of Advent, and how we can be more alert to the signs of God’s presence and mission among us.

 

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

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.

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

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.