Daily Worship

Week of 04 – 10 December 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

As John the Baptiser prepared God’s people for the Messiah, so he prepares us, in this Advent season, to receive God’s Reign in a deeper way. The Lectionary this week calls us to anticipate the new order that is established by God’s Messenger, as well as the peace and well-being that we find in God’s new world.

One thing that this “voice in the wilderness” made very clear is that God’s Reign is not just a “place” or a “state of being” that we receive passively. Although we become citizens of God’s Reign purely by grace, when we become part of God’s new world, God’s new world becomes part of us. This means that who we are, what we think, how we feel, and how we behave are all shaped and formed by the values and purposes of God’s Reign. It’s not just Jesus that we invite into our hearts, but God’s new way of being. And when this happens, God’s new world begins to be reflected in us as it flows through every dream, every interaction, and every moment of our lives. This is why we are never born into God’s Reign. We are only ever born again into it – it requires a remaking of who we are, a true baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire!

This week we will explore what it means to allow God’s new world to take hold of us.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 27 November – 03 December 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The first Sunday in Advent is generally considered to be a time when we consider the Return of Christ. While the Scriptures definitely do call us to consider Christ’s return, and to place our hope in his coming, how we answer this call can make a huge difference to how we live our lives. If we make the return of Christ the “real thing” after the “curtain raiser” of life here and now, we inevitably devalue this world and the lives we live in it. If we become obsessed with predicting the time and manner of Christ’s coming, we lose touch with the world we are called to serve now. And if we make too much of the future return of Christ, we may end up missing God’s coming to us in the midst of our daily routines now.

If we are to avoid these pitfalls, we will need to understand something that the Scriptures make clear. Firstly, we don’t just hope in Christ’s return. Rather, our hope is in the new world that Christ’s return offers – the new heaven and new earth that will be established, and the Reign of God that will finally be completely manifest. Secondly, our hope is not just about some future event, but about a new way of seeing and living in the world now. This means that, rather than try to take the prophetic language of the biblical writers literally, we are to grasp the hope that is found in the meaning of Christ’s return, and then live from that hope now, in every detail and interaction of our lives.

This week we explore what it means to live in the hope of God’s new world in Christ.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 20 – 26 November 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

This is the last Sunday of the Church Year! As usual, before we begin the next cycle of seasons beginning with Advent’s vision of God’s glorious future, we end the year by remembering the sovereignty of the One who makes that future possible – Jesus Christ, God’s righteous Monarch. But, the Reign of Christ must never be viewed through the lens of human empires. The throne of Christ is unlike that of any human ruler, and the values of Christ’s Reign are completely different from those of our human societies.

This raises two fundamental questions for us. The first is whether we will really place our lives under the authority of Jesus. It’s easy to call Jesus “Lord”, but to really live as a disciple means our lives must reflect the same values, attitudes, and behaviours that Jesus’ did. Only then are we really living with Christ as our authority. The second question is to understand what Christ’s authority looks like. Unlike our world, where authority means dominance or greater control over others, the authority of Jesus is about serving others, collaborating with others and setting others free.

This week we end the year by placing our lives firmly under the authority of Jesus again.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 13 – 19 November 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

In the midst of a turbulent world it can be very difficult to hold on to hope and to continue to do the right thing when so many people around us are living by the values of expediency and self-centredness. Contrary to what some preachers may say, Jesus did not promise to protect us from the pain of living in such difficult times. The Gospel reading for this Sunday makes that very clear. But, what Jesus did promise was that we would be empowered by God’s Spirit to stay faithful and to witness to the world about the way of Jesus and the life it brings.

It may feel daunting to face the call to be a witness to Christ, but this doesn’t mean that God is asking you to stand on street corners and preach. Rather, in the midst of a world of suffering, our best witness is to reject selfishness and think of others, to reject despair and continue to hope, to reject violence and work for peace, and to reject division and hatred in favour of love for those around us. These Christlike attitudes and actions do not require dramatic efforts. They are expressed in the simple routines of our daily lives.

This week we will meditate on living as people who witness, in our daily interactions and routines, to Christ’s love and hope.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 06 – 12 November 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

What does eternity look like for you? Do you imagine lots of clouds and harps, with us all floating around as disembodied spirits in white robes? This may be a comical image, but the idea that our bodies are temporary and our spirits are eternal is widespread and persistent. But, this is not the message of the New Testament. Rather, the Scriptures teach a shocking truth, which we call resurrection – that our bodies (and, indeed the entire universe) are eternal and are raised from death in a glorified state in the end.

The message of resurrection is not just about what happens after we die. If our entire beings (including our bodies) are eternal, then the physical world has value to God. And that means that it matters how we treat our bodies and those of others, and how we use the natural resources of our planet. But, resurrection is not just something with which we agree in our heads. Resurrection is a truth that we live in every moment, as we choose either to cooperate with God’s life or to ignore it or oppose it. Whenever we contribute life to others, we work with God’s resurrection life. Whenever we make some else’s life poorer, we oppose God’s resurrection.

This week resurrection will be the focus of our meditations.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 30 October – 05 November 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

It should not surprise us that the Scriptures return often to the themes of repentance and forgiveness. One reason for this constant repetition is that these foundational ideas are harder to understand and practice than we may at first consider. For many of us, repentance has come to be viewed as a personal apology to God for things we have done wrong, and forgiveness is what God gives us in return. However the Biblical picture is far richer and more challenging than this. In the Bible, God’s forgiveness is given before we even know that we need it – that’s the miracle of Christ’s life, death and resurrection, and it is demonstrated in the Zacchaeus story which is the Gospel reading for this week.

But, when forgiveness touches our hearts, it automatically leads us into two responses. The first is that we respond in repentance – which simply means to change. We stop doing the destructive things that rob us and others of life, and we embrace a new, life-giving way of behaving, thinking and speaking. The second response is that we begin to extend God’s forgiveness to others, recognising that as we accept them in Jesus’ name, so God’s Spirit can work healing and transformation in them through us.

This week, we will meditate again on the profound gifts of forgiveness and repentance.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 23 – 29 October 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

It is an unfortunate reality of our world that those who call themselves Christians are often accused of being arrogant, judgemental and “holier-than-thou”. Yet, we have all experienced the impact of those who are truly humble. When we encounter someone who is deeply aware of their own brokenness, we are immediately struck by their humility, their compassion, their acceptance, and their wisdom. Isn’t it amazing how these qualities are viewed so positively across our world, and yet so many of us are still driven by the cult of wealth and celebrity? Even in the Church, it is easy to fall into the trap of perfectionism, attention seeking, and human standards of success.

Jesus repeatedly taught his followers how important it is to nurture humility, gentleness, simplicity and an awareness of where we still need to change. He constantly challenged those who believed they were righteous while welcoming those who knew they were not. And he was never too proud to associate with the “least” in his society.

This week we will seek to nurture the Christ-like attitude of humility within our hearts.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 16 – 22 October 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Persistence, prayer & being open to the coming of God’s presence into our lives to write God’s law on our hearts – these are some of the thoughts that stand out in the various readings that are set for this Sunday. All of these ideas are related. When God comes into our lives, it is to save us, but a significant feature of God’s salvation is that God changes us so that we stop doing to ourselves and others what brings us into bondage and brokenness. This is why we need God’s law – God’s way of living – written on our hearts. It is only when we naturally and automatically live the Jesus way that we are truly able to bring life, love and liberation into our corner of the world. And, of course, one of the primary “tools” we use to ask God to come to us is prayer. When we pray persistently, we constantly open ourselves to encounter with God, and the result is that we are changed – we slowly begin to align our values, our goals, our attitudes and our behaviours with those of God’s Reign.

Ultimately prayer is not about the words we speak. It’s about bringing our entire lives under the Reign of God – which is how we pray without ceasing. When we move away from seeing prayer as a way to manipulate things according to our desires, and embrace it as a way to change ourselves according to God’s desires, our prayers, and our lives, are filled with amazing power.

This week we explore what it means to be persistent in bringing our lives under God’s Reign and turning our whole lives into a prayer.

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