Daily Worship

Week of 29 January – 04 February 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

In the prophecy of Micah, which is one of the Lectionary readings for today, the prophet asks what God requires of God’s people. Then he answers his own question: “…to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 CEB). If we wish to know what justice, faithful love and walking with God look like, the Sermon on the Mount gives a pretty good picture. Situated near the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, the famous Sermon is the first of five important teaching sessions of Jesus, and it offers summary of Jesus’ message, a manifesto for his ministry. The first part of the Sermon, known as the Beatitudes, is the Gospel reading for today.

Along with Micah’s prophecy, the Beatitudes show us the kind of life that “God blesses”. This doesn’t mean that we earn God’s blessing by making the Beatitudes as a new law. Rather, these Scriptures invite us into the blessing of God that is already ours because of God’s grace. Everyone is blessed! But, not everyone experiences the blessing because we may have shut ourselves off to the qualities and values that open us to abundant life. We may not live as justly as we could, and we may not embrace faithful love for God and others – in which case we have chosen ways that bring pain to others and, ultimately, to ourselves. But, when we open ourselves to God’s values and purposes, our hearts begin to change and we begin to live the kind of life that brings blessing and justice. God’s grace enables us to live this way, but if we refuse to allow God’s grace to do its work, we separate ourselves from God’s “blessings”.

This week we explore what it means to live a life of justice, faithful love and walking humbly with God.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 22 – 28 January 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The Scriptures often use images of light and darkness to describe the impact of God’s Reign on the world. The works of evil, often done in secret with much deception and obscuring of the truth, are described as darkness which makes it harder for us to see and navigate the world effectively, and which brings much pain and struggle into our lives. The Reign of God, however, is described as a light which illuminates our lives, directing and warming us, and protecting us from the effects of darkness. These images are also used by the Gospel writers to describe the ministry of Jesus, which is why Jesus referred to himself as the light of the world.

As we seek to follow Jesus, we are called to embrace God’s light and to turn away from the darkness. This means that we must learn to become people of truth, integrity, faithfulness, grace and justice who oppose dishonesty, expediency, insincerity and injustice. This is why Jesus also called his followers the light of the world. To fight the darkness we need only to let our little light shine, as the old Sunday School song said.

This week we explore living in, and being reflections of, God’s light.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 15 – 21 January 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Answering the call to follow the Lamb of God, as Jesus’ disciples did, is a daily decision made in the little details of how much we consume, what and how we buy, what we drive, where we live, what we eat, how we use energy, how we work, how we treat others and how we care for ourselves. Many of these decisions result in sacrifices that we would probably prefer to avoid. At its heart discipleship is about recognising that our faith is not an individual journey, but is connected into community. Our choice to sacrifice or not impacts others in our churches, neighbourhoods and world, and so we find that as we follow Christ, we are brought face to face with others, and the impact of our choices and lifestyle on them.

To make the sacrificial changes that will lead to a world of peace, justice and love – the world that Jesus proclaimed – we need resources beyond ourselves. For this it takes both the recognition that the Christ we follow is the Lamb of God who calls us to take up our crosses, and an openness to receive the “baptism in the Holy Spirit” – the transforming, empowering encounter with God – that John said Jesus would offer. But as we embrace the life of sacrifice and of following Christ, we each become foundation stones like Peter in the reign of God which is being built among us.

This week we explore what it means to be a disciple and to make the necessary sacrifices that help to bring God’s dream to reality in our part of the world.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 08 – 14 January 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The season after the Epiphany always begins with the story of Jesus’ baptism. This story is significant for at least two reasons. The first is that it reveals very clearly that Jesus is the one who reveals God’s glory to us, and it proclaims, loud and clear, how God viewed Jesus – as God’s beloved son. The second significant feature of this story is the way Jesus was empowered to be the reflection of God’s glory that he was. The outpouring of God’s Spirit was the start of Jesus’ ministry, but it was not just for Jesus. The book of Acts shows God’s people receiving similar empowerment by God’s Spirit, as Jesus had promised, and many of the epistles encourage us to be filled with God’s Spirit. Like Jesus, if we are to reflect God’s glory to our world, we will need God’s Spirit to strengthen and guide us.

As dramatic as the experience of baptism was to Jesus, Matthew’s telling indicates that it was only Jesus who saw the dove and heard the voice – which means that it was actually a moment of hidden glory. No one else would have been aware in that moment of how God’s glory was being revealed in Jesus’ life. In the same way, we do not need to draw attention to ourselves, or find places of prominence to reflect God’s glory. We simply need to allow God’s Spirit to fill every corner of our lives, and then God’s glory will shine out in gentle, quiet, but transforming ways.

This week we open ourselves to God’s Spirit so that God’s glory can fill every part of our days.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 01 – 07 January 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

This week we begin a New Year and so this week’s reflections call us to choose how we will commit to living through the year to come. At the heart of this choice is a challenge to recognise God’s presence and activity in our lives and our world, and the openness to hear how God may be leading us. Then, flowing from this awareness, we are called courageously to follow God’s guidance, and to lead others to a deeper, more abundant life in Christ.

Then, at the end of the week, we celebrate the Epiphany – the moment in the Church Calendar when we remember the visit of the Magi to Jesus – and we begin a season of learning to see how God’s glory was reflected in the life and ministry of Jesus. Here there is another challenge – to be those who both witness the glory of God in Jesus, and who, like Jesus, allow God’s glory to be reflected in our own lives.

How we respond to these challenges will make all the difference for 2017. This week we are encouraged to make the right choice and choose Jesus’ priorities, values, and practices for our own.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 25 – 31 December 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Happy Christmas! Today is one of the most significant days in the Christian Calendar. Unfortunately we can easily miss how powerfully subversive and transforming this day really is – unless we’re willing to open our lives and hearts not just to the Christ Child, but to the Reign of God which he brought into our world.

It is tempting to think of Christmas as nothing more than the first step in God’s work of saving us from our sins so that we can go to heaven. But it is so much more than this. The Christmas story actually begins in Genesis 1 when God speaks creation into being. And it ends with a vision of a new world that is whole and one in Christ. It is because God has always been working to bring the entire cosmos into God’s life and love that Jesus was born. The birth of Christ was not God’s plan B to address the unexpected problem of sin. Rather the birth of Christ was the moment God had been working toward for millennia when God’s Reign would become visible and active in a new and powerful way in our world. This means that Christmas is not just about the birth of a unique baby. It is about the rebirth of all things – including you and me.

This week we explore the powerful, transforming significance of Jesus’ birth.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 18 – 24 December 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The Gospel reading for this last Sunday before Christmas – the fourth Sunday of Advent – speaks of Christ as the one who comes to us as “God with us”. This is more than just a promise of God’s presence. It’s an indication of God’s longing for intimacy with us. God is not “up in heaven” watching us “from a distance”. Rather, God is immersed in our flesh, our experience and our world. The theological word for this is “incarnation” – that God takes on human flesh. This means that everything that makes up the physical world – from our planet to our bodies – is important to God. Spirit and matter are not separate, but are one, and God is to be found within our embodied lives.

There are two powerful messages that we can hear through this truth. Firstly, we can rest in the knowledge that God truly is with us – not just in a once off moment in history, but in every moment and every situation. Secondly, we can offer our bodies, our energy, our lives to God as God’s Temple – the place where God Spirit dwells. And then, as we experience God’s abiding presence within us we become “little incarnations” – people who “carry” God within our flesh and our lives. This means that, as we seek to love and serve others as Jesus did, we also become little “Emmanuels” through whom others encounter God’s living presence.

This week we explore what it means to live in the presence of God and to share that presence with others.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 11 – 17 December 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Among the Lectionary readings this week we find a promise from Isaiah of God’s restoration for God’s people, Mary’s song of faith and justice, John the Baptiser’s doubts about Jesus, and a call from James for the believers to be patient in suffering. What a fascinating mix! The message is clear, though. Doubts, struggles and suffering will come, but we have a choice about our response. We can allow our doubts to get the better of us and lead us to miss God’s way, or we can affirm our faith, participate in God’s mission, and allow hope, faith and joy to sustain us.

When we consider the great challenges we face during this Advent season, this week’s message offers comfort and strength. On a personal level, many of us struggle to make ends meet, live in fear of losing our jobs, and face the temptation to do whatever it takes to survive in an unjust world. On a global level, the constant stream of news about wars, natural disasters, and the failure of leadership can tempt us to abandon hope and faith. But, as followers of Jesus we don’t have the luxury of these responses. In the face of our internal doubts, and our external challenges, we are called to keep hope alive, and to continue to live with peace, generosity, and compassion. The truth is that when we do this, we don’t only bring life to others. We find the best possible life for ourselves.

This week we explore staying hopeful and faithful in tough times.

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