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.

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.