Daily Worship

Week of 09 – 15 October 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

You have probably noticed how regularly the Gospel returns to the theme of radical inclusivity. There is a stark contrast between the religious leaders of the Old Testament who drew lines between ‘clean’ and ‘unclean’ and ‘in’ and ‘out’, and the prophets who called for all people to be welcomed and treated with justice, grace, and dignity. There is a stark contrast between the way the religious leaders of Jesus’ day drew lines of division between those who were acceptable (in their eyes) to God and those who weren’t, and the way Jesus welcomed, healed and served all people, regardless of race, nationality, language, economic position, gender, or religion. If our religion leads us to live with anything less than the radical inclusivity of Jesus, we have missed the point of the Gospel.

It’s easy to speak of how all people are equally loved by God, and how all people are connected and essentially the same. But, these words only really make sense when we start to act them out. This means that we must be willing to give up anything that we think makes us ‘better’, or ‘special’, or separate from others, while honouring the uniqueness and dignity of each person on their terms. It takes a loving, servant heart to recognise that some people require more care or sensitivity because of how they have been marginalised or hurt, while being willing to give up any desire for such special treatment for ourselves. Yet, this is what Jesus did.

This week, we will be wrestling with what it means to love and serve others in a way that honours them and gives them dignity.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 02 – 08 October 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

No matter how committed we are to Jesus’ mission, we will all face times of great challenge and struggle when we are tempted to give up, or at least reduce our faithfulness in order to reduce the cost. But, when we do this we lose the very thing that gives us the strength to continue, and that brings us life in the midst of our struggles – our faith. In a world where following Jesus is often framed as a way to great personal benefit, the readings this week offer us a different way of living and believing. We do not need huge faith to follow Jesus. We just need to be willing to follow with faith as tiny as a minute seed. And we do not need to do great works to be part of God’s mission, we only need to live as a simple servant of God, doing just what is required willingly and without expecting any special thanks or reward.

In those times when we grow tired and weak, it is important that we do not make choices that could hurt us in the long run. Rather, we need to take the time to reflect on why we started out on this journey, and the difference it makes, not just to us but to others, when we live Jesus’ way. Sometimes our exhaustion stems from trying too hard, or expecting more from ourselves than God expects of us. In these moments, it’s helpful to recommit to being faithful in the small, seemingly insignificant actions and attitudes that Jesus asks of us. It is when we all remain faithful in small things that God can use our combined efforts to make a big difference in the world.

This week we will explore faithfulness in times of struggle, and in the small things that manifest the Reign of God in our lives.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 25 September – 01 October 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The Bible has a lot to say about money and how we use it. Our bank statements and budgets are important spiritual documents that reveal a lot about our priorities and our level of commitment to the principles of God’s Reign. This week the readings challenge us to recognise that the material blessings we enjoy are not just given to us, but are given through us to share with others. As we grow in obedience to the values and mission of God’s Reign, we inevitably find ourselves becoming increasingly compassionate and generous, and we discover that whatever measure of wealth we possess can make a significant contribution to building God’s Dream among us.

It’s important to realise that our use of money is rooted in our attitude toward it. When we work to develop the Christ-like attitudes of humility, contentment, simplicity and love, we will automatically see our money not as an end in itself, or a source of security and happiness, but as a means to the end of building community, of seeking to spread blessing and sufficiency as widely as possible, and of manifesting the life of Jesus in our world.

This week we explore our attitudes toward, and our use of, money.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 18 – 24 September 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Sometimes, as followers of Jesus, we can be extremely naïve about the way the world works. When we neglect the work of reflection and mindfulness, we can easily miss how seductive the temptations to power, possessions, and pleasure can be. The result is that we can find ourselves speaking words of faith while living no differently from those around us, with the same values, desires, and actions leading us into the same struggles, broken relationships, and consumerism. That’s why Jesus constantly challenges us to be aware of how the world and its systems work – and of the destructive consequences when everyone lives from a basis of individualism, self-sufficiency, and self-protection. Until we are willing to take an honest look at the world, we will not see the need to change, and the wisdom of the Reign of God will remain hidden to us.

But, once we have seen how the world works, and we have chosen to embrace the alternative values and behaviours of God’s Reign, we are invited into a life of generous grace and welcome. We discover that the resources we have are not just for our own use. We are conduits – not containers – for the talents, possessions, time and love that God has given us. Then, we can use whatever resources we have, and can find, to touch and bless others, and to expand the all-inclusive community of Jesus into our world.

This week we will be encouraged to take a tough look at the world, and to be even more intentional about living out the mission and message of Jesus.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 11 – 17 September 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The Gospel reading this week speaks of the joy when lost things are found. Jesus used the image of a lost sheep and a lost coin to describe the joy in God’s Reign when people turn from sin to Jesus’ way. There are two important truths that must be remembered as we read these parables. The first is that what Jesus means by “being found” is not primarily about accepting certain intellectual ideas and being assured of heaven when we die. For Jesus, a person is found when they recognise that the values of this world do not bring life, and they turn to embrace the values of God’s Reign and live a life of love and justice here and now. The second truth to remember is that for us to know we have been found, we need to repent – that is, we need to change our values, actions and, yes, our thoughts, to align with those of God’s Reign.

This act of repentance is not a once-off experience. Rather, it is a choice we must make every day as our hearts are captured more and more by the vision of God’s Reign. This is where readings like Psalm 51 are so helpful. Written after David’s sins of adultery and murder, this Psalm is one of the most powerful prayers of repentance in the Bible – which is why it is one of the set readings for today. You may want to carry the words of this Psalm with you throughout this week as we seek to do the work of repentance.

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

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.