Daily Worship

Week of 12 – 18 March 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

It is easy to reduce faith to a system of ideas that we simply have to accept. It is easy to make salvation nothing more than praying the right prayer and signing the right card. But, if we do this, we rob ourselves of the true power and value of faith. A faith that is simply a set of ideas does not change our very lives and give us a new way of seeing or a God’s-Reign way of being. The faith that leads to new birth, which Jesus offered to Nicodemus, is a transforming encounter with a God who leads us into a whole new world – the world of God’s Reign, where children are the leaders, the meek inherit the earth, and the poor, the mourners and the peace makers are the recipients of God’s presence and grace.

Once we have embraced this faith, we cannot help but begin to live this new life in such a way that it makes a difference in our families, our places of work and leisure, our communities and our churches. Once we have been born anew, we find ourselves recognising Christ in those we would normally shun, and we begin to care about issues that we would normally ignore. It is not our obedience that leads us to life, but our faith. However, faith that does not change who we are and how we live, is not faith at all. Ultimately believing does not happen in our heads alone, but in our whole being, and in lives that, in small but significant ways, touch the least with grace and compassion, and seek to make the world a more hopeful, celebratory and gracious place.

This week we explore this radical, life-giving faith.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 05 – 11 March 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The first week of Lent always leads us to contemplate the temptations of Jesus. We do this, firstly, to learn more about who Jesus was, and the kind of Messiah he chose to be. Then, secondly, we allow Jesus’ victory over temptation to inspire and strengthen us to face our own temptations. It’s important to realise that these were genuine temptations for Jesus. We may think that, since Jesus was God, there was never any chance that he would fail, but this denies his true humanity. Jesus could well have fallen and chosen to be a self-serving, power-hungry leader, like others in his (and our) world. But, he chose a different way – the way of service, sacrifice and simplicity. He chose to offer his life for the sake of others.

Jesus’ temptations were not unique. He faced essentially the same enticements that we all do. It was only the specific way in which these temptations came to Jesus that were unique. This means that we can learn from how he overcame evil. It is a gift that we have this record of Jesus’ struggle with evil, and it is a testimony to his openness and honesty that he would share this experience with others (he must have done, or this story would never have been known by the Gospel writers). Jesus’ willingness to face the potential for darkness within himself is both a challenge and encouragement to us, if we will allow it to each us.

This week we explore how to overcome the potential for darkness within us.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 26 February – 04 March 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Jesus’ ministry is touched at two significant moments by God’s glory and God’s voice. The first was at his baptism as he started his ministry. The second is here at the transfiguration. In the first three Gospels this visitation of God comes as Jesus turns toward Jerusalem and his coming sacrifice, and it serves to affirm and strengthen him for the ordeal ahead. But it was also an important moment of preparation and reassurance for the disciples. It was natural, as they watched Jesus die, that they should have doubted his claims. However, even though the Gospels do reflect these doubts, it may have been the memory of this event that kept them from completely abandoning the community Jesus had started and the teachings he had given. Perhaps it was this memory that helped Peter stay present enough to be restored after he denied Jesus.

For we who seek to follow Jesus today, the transfiguration is an important moment in the Church Calendar. The season after the Epiphany, through which we have just journeyed, is “book-ended” by the two moments when Jesus sees God’s glory and hears God’s voice. This means that we have had a wonderful opportunity to see God’s glory revealed in Jesus. It also means that, as we turn to the challenging and convicting season of Lent, we can hold in our hearts the memory of God’s affirmation of Jesus, and allow this to sustain us as we embrace the transforming disciplines of this season.

This week as we meditate on the transfiguration and begin the Lenten journey, we open ourselves to God’s glory and affirmation, and prepare ourselves for the journey of repentance that leads us to the cross and beyond.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 19 – 25 February 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

One of the great questions of the Christian faith is this: What is holiness? The Scriptures speak about holiness a lot, and often in ways that are challenging and uncomfortable. When we hear the call to “be holy as God is holy” it can feel like an impossible task. Perhaps that’s why we are so tempted to turn holiness into a code of specific acts of purity – or rather the avoidance of certain acts that are seen as impure. If holiness is only about what we do or don’t do with our own bodies, it is restrictive, oppressive and life-draining. There is little benefit to a faith that is based on such narrow legalistic control of a few physical actions.

But, if we explore what holiness looks like from the New Testament perspective, we get a very different picture. Holiness is not about what we don’t do or about a few narrowly defined personal actions. Rather, it’s about the broad sweep of how we engage and interact with God, with others, and with the world. True holiness is creative, liberating, loving, and life-giving.

This week we explore what it means to live in true Christian holiness.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 12 – 18 February 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

It is easy to go to church on Sunday and sing songs and pray prayers. It is easy to not steal, not kill, not commit adultery. But, simply obeying these laws does not bring life to us or to those around us. It is when we allow God to capture our hearts with the truth of the Gospel, when we allow God to continually and disturbingly challenge and grow our hearts that we find abundant life. When we live from the inside out, opening our hearts to Christ’s love, and letting it guide our speech and actions, we become those who make a healing, restoring impact on the world around us. Then we find – and bring to others – fullness of life.

This living from the heart takes far more work and awareness than legalism. It requires us to allow God to constantly challenge our attitudes and convictions, to constantly transform our feelings and reactions, and to constantly call us to a higher standard. In this way of living we cannot rest in a future guarantee of heaven after we die. We are called to work to actively bring heaven into our world and our lives now through submitting to God’s gracious transforming guidance. But one thing is sure. If we are courageous enough to embark on the journey of heart-driven living, we will discover a richness and a fullness to life, a deeper connectedness and a more gracious way of relating and living together.

This week we explore what it means to live from the inside out.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 05 – 11 February 2017

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Immediately after the Beatitudes, Jesus was sure to clarify his relationship with the Law of Moses. He had not come to do away with the Law but to fulfil it, to help God’s people to live the Law as it was originally intended – not as a set of legalistic rules to be ticked off a list, but as signs of a heart that was devoted to God and filled with love for other people. For Jesus it was all about the heart, because when the heart is right, this overflows into our whole lives. Neuroscientists and psychologists are now discovering how right Jesus was – our behaviour is determined far more by our heart, by what we love or desire, than by what we think. When Jesus taught about God’s Reign, he started with calling us to love, and then explained what a love-filled life looks like by referring back to the law which, as he taught, can be summarised in the twin commandments to love God and love neighbour.

It is easy to make faith about what we think, determining whether we are “in” or “out” by certain ideas that we consider to be “essential” to faith. It is also easy to make faith about a list of rules that we either do or don’t do, and to view those who fail to follow our rules as “out” while we, who obey the rules, are “in”. These approaches were as common in Jesus’ day as they are in ours, but he taught a different path in which we seek to have our hearts so captured by the dream of God’s Reign that it becomes the motivation, the pattern, and the guide for all our thinking, doing, interacting, choosing and loving. And, when we are captivated by God’s Reign, our lives reflect the character and purpose of Christ to those around us in ways that bring life and blessing to them.

This week we explore what it means to be captured by God’s Reign so that we become salt and light in this world.

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

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.