Daily Worship

Week of 10 – 16 April 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

All the readings in the Lectionary this week speak of living with a sense of call. This does not mean that we all have to be apostles, or become ordained, full-time ministers in the church. Rather, it means that, as we embrace the resurrected way of life, we discover that our lives are not random. How we live and what we do matter. The small actions, attitudes, words, and thoughts that fill our days can contribute to revealing God’s Reign in our world, or they can help to keep God’s Reign hidden. When we embrace the resurrection not just as a past, historical event, but as a calling to live daily in the power of God’s life, then our lives make a positive difference in the world. In this sense, we are all called.

When we make the resurrection nothing more than a past miracle, or a hope for a future life after death, we rob it of its power to impact our lives now. This is why the Scriptures constantly call us to see the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus as a journey that we must also experience. Each day gives us an opportunity to release our own desires, agendas, and self-protectiveness, and to be raised to a life that is centred around the love, justice, and grace of God. Each day offers us a chance to share God’s life with those around us. And each day offers us the gift of experiencing God’s love for ourselves a little more. When we receive these opportunities with gratitude and mindfulness, we discover that everything we do is filled with a sense of meaning, purpose and life. This is what it means to live a called life.

This week we will meditate on living with the sense of call that comes from a daily experience of God’s resurrection life.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 03 – 09 April 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

All the readings from the Revised common Lectionary this week call us to celebrate God’s goodness and love. In the Gospel reading, Thomas, who had not been with the other disciples when Jesus first appeared to them, wrestled with faith until, finally, he also encountered the Risen Christ. But, when he did, he responded in praise and celebration. The Gospel writer uses Thomas as an example of the journey which we must all share as we come to faith. Then, in the Revelation, we see the reason for all this praise and celebration as we receive a vision of Christ not just as Risen, but as glorified. These two truths of our faith always go together – Christ is Risen, and Christ is glorified.

Unfortunately, we often misunderstand both of these truths, making Christ out to be some sort of military conqueror who uses violence and domination to destroy his enemies. But, the New Testament is clear that both the resurrection and the glory of Christ flow from his death. We make a mistake when we define God’s Reign according to how human empires work. Rather, the Reign of God, the victory and the glory of Christ must all be understood through the lens of the cross. Our celebration, then, is not of a conquering Emperor, but of a humble servant, and of the life that is found in bringing life to others in acts of love, compassion, service, generosity and justice.

This week, let’s celebrate the life and glory that Jesus revealed, and offered to us, through the way of the cross.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 27 March – 02 April 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Christ is Risen! Once again we proclaim the awesome mystery of our faith! This year, we get to explore the resurrection event through the eyes of the writer of Luke’s Gospel. What is amazing about this account, is that the first witnesses are women (who could not testify in a law court) and two insignificant disciples (one of whom is not even named). Only after this, does Jesus appear to his inner circle! All Peter gets at first, is the enigmatic evidence of an empty tomb. Once again, as with most of Luke’s Gospel, Jesus is making the last first and the first last – and this is an important feature of this resurrection account.

When we keep the resurrection in the past – making it only a historical event, and arguing about the facts and details – we keep its transforming power at bay. It’s easy to say “Jesus is risen” without it having any impact on our lives, even if we are wholly convinced of this truth. But, when we allow our hearts to be captivated by resurrection life – the all-embracing, empowering, inclusive, transforming life that transcends all evil and unjust forces that divide and oppress humanity – then we don’t only say “Jesus is risen”, we live it!

In the next fifty days of the Easter season we will be exploring what it means to live now as people of the resurrection – not just people who declare that Jesus was risen in the past.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 20 – 26 March 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

This week we journey through Holy Week – the time when we meditate on Jesus’ final days before his death. In these last moments, Jesus faced strong opposition from the religious leaders as he offered some of his most challenging teachings. But, he also demonstrated to his disciples the grace and love that characterised his ministry. One central theme that runs through the entire week is the meaning of Christ’s death. This is a subject that has been the source of much debate through the centuries, and there are a number of different ways to understand the sacrifice of Jesus. Sometimes it’s best to simply allow the Scriptures to speak without trying to analyse too much, especially during this important season.

As you journey through Holy Week, try to make some extra time to reflect on the life, death and message of Jesus. Meditate on the cost he was willing to pay for the sake of God’s Reign, and on his commitment to love and service above all. Notice how his values challenge and undermine those of human systems of power, wealth, and instant gratification, and investigate the extent to which your own life follows the values of Jesus. If your church is offering services of worship through this week, you might want to make an extra effort to attend in order to allow this significant season to touch your life more deeply.

May this Holy Week bring you closer to Christ, and draw you deeper into the revolutionary reality we call the Reign of God.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 13 – 19 March 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The Lenten season is often viewed as a sombre time. Few people celebrate or enjoy repentance, and the word “discipline” is seldom associated with celebration. Yet, this week, as we enter the final stretch of Lent before the Holy Week journey through Jesus’ suffering, the Lectionary calls us to celebrate. The Gospel reading from John tells of Mary’s extravagant display of devotion to Jesus as she anointed his feet with expensive perfume and dried them with her hair. The Old Testament reading from Isaiah, and the Psalm which is set for this week, call God’s people to celebrate God’s salvation. It may feel strange to speak of celebration in Lent, but all the heart-searching, discipline, and repentance is about becoming whole, living up to our best selves, and enjoying the abundant life that comes from the loving, sacrificial way of Jesus. Mary’s offering is a challenging example of such celebratory devotion.

It can be easy, when faced with the suffering and evil of our world, to lose the capacity to celebrate. It can be easy to become cynical, pessimistic, and despairing as we wait for God’s justice to fill the world. Yet, if we allow ourselves to lose hope and joy, we also lose our capacity to experience God’s life, and to contribute to bringing healing and justice into our small corner. When we live from fear, we become self-protective hoarders who try to hold on to what we have in case things go wrong. Yet, in her love for Jesus and her trust of his way, Mary easily let go of what little wealth she had in order to give herself to the Reign of God that Jesus proclaimed. Following Jesus is not about becoming overly serious and sombre, and it’s not about clinging to survival. Rather, the way of Jesus is the way of extravagant sharing, joyful celebration, and trusting love. This is the call of our meditations this week.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 06 – 12 March 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

The parable of the Prodigal Son is so well known that we may easily skim over the surface of it thinking we already know everything it has to tell us. However, the central teaching – of forgiveness and reconciliation – is never easy to learn. We need to review what repentance and restored relationships mean many times before we really learn to put these basic principles into practice in a real way.

One of the problems with our approach to this passage is that we have almost forgotten the brother of the Prodigal. We focus on the forgiveness of the father, and the restoration of the son, but we miss the fact that the two brothers had to learn to find each other again. This was not an easy task, since the brother who had remained at home would now have to split some of his inheritance with his returned brother who had lost everything. His resentment is natural and understandable. But, the question he needed to face was how much he valued his brother, how much he was willing to sacrifice for reconciliation, and how much he would rather be right than be in relationship. It must have been a tough choice, and the Gospel does not tell us what he finally decided to do. We are left to decide for ourselves the appropriate response in such a situation.

This week we will explore both the costs and the benefits of repentance, reconciliation and forgiveness.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 28 February – 05 March 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

It is a comforting thought – albeit a false comfort – to think that goodness, health, and happiness are signs of God’s blessing, and suffering is a sign of God’s punishment. This week, though, Jesus makes it clear that this is not how God operates. When he was informed about Pilate’s murder of some Galilean worshippers, Jesus taught that it was not their sin that brought this disaster upon them. Then he spoke about people who had died when a tower had collapsed on top of them, and made it clear that it was not their sin that caused this disaster either. Then, in the tough words, “unless you repent, you will perish, too” Jesus declares that good fortune is not a guarantee of good spirituality, or of God’s reward. Suffering comes on the innocent, and even evil people can enjoy good circumstances.

The key here, though, is that, whether we are “good” or “bad” we all need to repent – we all need to turn from the ways of this world’s system (the grasping for power, wealth, and pleasure) to the ways of God’s Reign (justice, simplicity, generosity, grace, love, servanthood and peace). Then, as we begin to live according to the values of God’s Reign, we will be able to face whatever comes – good or bad – with the strength and grace of Jesus, and we will bear the fruit of bringing life to those around us.

This call to repentance and fruit bearing is the challenge of this week’s readings.

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

Daily Worship

Week of 21 – 27 February 2016

THOUGHT FOR THE WEEK

Today’s reading is a strange one, which takes some careful thought to understand. It begins with a group of Pharisees warning Jesus of Herod’s intention to kill him. We are not sure why they would do this, but their words are significant: “Get away from here if you want to live!” What they didn’t realise is that living was not the first priority on Jesus’ agenda – loving was. Jesus uses metaphors, in his response, that show where his commitment lay.

To begin with he refers to Herod as “that fox” and the people of Jerusalem as “chicks.” Of course, foxes are predators for chickens, and so this is a clear warning of the danger Herod posed to the people of Israel at that time. Herod ruled as king under the authority of Rome, and was seen as a traitor to his people. Any resistance to his rule would be quickly and ruthlessly dealt with. Jesus, on the other hand, seeks to be like a mother hen to the people – protecting them even with his own life. Yet, the people seem determined to avoid his way of peace and life, and embrace their own destruction.

Nevertheless, what is amazing here is the way Jesus, reading the signs of the situation very clearly, remained committed to love, knowing it would take him to his death. The challenge this raises for us this week is this: To what extent are we committed to love above all things? How can we embrace the call to love in a stronger way?

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