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.

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.