Monthly Archives: January 2014

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tree fernYearly Rhythm

Sunday 2 February 2014

Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany. Year A

“The church sets aside a holy season called Ordinary Time as sacred. The Ordinary is part of the religious tradition of being ordered in our daily lives so that we can always be in the presence of the holy.” (Becca Stevens)

 

Daily/Weekly Rhythm

Devotional Diary

27 January – 2 February 2014

A resource for the Daily Rhythm of Worship using the Lectionary Readings

Click here to download the Devotional Diary PDF.

Click here to download the Comments and Questions PDF.

These resources (Lectionary Readings, commentary and reflection guidelines) should be used flexibly and creatively as part of your daily devotions. Use these readings in the context of the Devotional Diary which follows these readings.

 Micah 6:1-8.

The Lord has a controversy with Israel, and the prophet asks what the Lord requires.

“The reading from Micah reminds us God does not simply bless, but also calls and requires something of us.  “What does the Lord require,” the prophet asks? “To do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8). God could not understand how the people could have so completely abandoned covenant after all that God had done for them, all the ways God had saved them time and again. All God wanted, and expected, in return were these three things—justice, mercy, and a humble walk with God.

There are strong parallels between these three attributes of covenant life with God and what Jesus identifies God blesses in the beatitudes. The message in the gospel is “God is blessing such people and such ways of living now that God’s kingdom has drawn near.” The message in the prophet is “if it is blessing you seek, live these ways!” [Source]

Exploring Justice and Mercy (walking humbly?):

What does it mean to do justice? Tim Keller writes, “When I was professor at a theological seminary in the mid-eighties, one of my students was a young man named Mark Gornik. One day we were standing at the copier and he told me that he was about to move into Sandtown, one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods in Baltimore. I remember being quite surprised. When I asked him why, he said simply, “To do justice.”

It had been decades since any white people had moved into Sandtown. For the first couple of years there, it was touch and go. Mark told a reporter, “The police thought I was a drug dealer, and the drug dealers thought I was a police officer. So, for a while there, I didn’t know who was going to shoot me first.” Yet over the years Mark, along with leaders in the community, established a church and a comprehensive set of ministries that have slowly transformed the neighborhood.

Although Mark was living a comfortable, safe life, he became concerned about the most vulnerable, poor and marginalized members of our society, and made long-term personal sacrifices in order to serve their interests, needs and cause.

That is, according to the Bible, what it means to “do justice.”  [Source]

Mercy is a force that compels us to acts of compassion. But in time mercy will collide with an ominous, opposing force: Injustice. Against this dark and overpowering force, acts of mercy can seem meagre. What good is a sandwich and a cup of soup when a severe addiction has control of a man’s life? Or a night in a shelter for a young woman who must sell her body to feed her child?

Perhaps that is why the Bible places equal emphasis on both mercy and justice. The ancient prophet Micah succinctly summarizes God’s design: “He has told you, oh man, what is good and what the Lord desires of you—that you love mercy and do justice and walk humbly with your God.”

Love mercy: Mercy is “compassion, kindness or forgiveness shown especially to someone a person has power over.”

Do justice: Justice is “fairness or reasonableness, especially in the way people are treated or decisions are made.”

Twinned together these commands lead us to holistic involvement. Divorced they become deformed. Mercy without justice degenerates into dependency and entitlement, preserving the power of the giver over the recipient. Justice without mercy grows cold and impersonal, more concerned about rights than relationships. The addict needs both food and treatment. The young woman needs both a safe place to sleep and a way out of her entrapping lifestyle. Street kids need both friendship and jobs.”  ROBERT D. LUPTON  [Source]

Question for reflection:

How would you describe one who does justice, loves mercy and humbly walks with God? (Micah 6: 1 – 8)

A Prayer Based on Micah 6:8

by Carolyn W. Dandridge, GBOD

Give us, o Lord, an eye for injustice.
For it is only when are able to recognize injustice and feel its awful sting that we will be moved to make things right.

Give us, o Lord, a tender heart.
Sometimes we are too hard-hearted to recognize when we have been uncaring, unfeeling, or unkind.

Grant us, o Lord the ability to view life from the dust.
All our lives we have been taught to make others proud, to be proud of ourselves, to hold our heads high — all the while missing the virtues of being poor in spirit.

Teach us dear Lord, to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with you. Amen.

Psalm 15.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?

Question for reflection:

How do you see Psalm 15 adding to the profile of one who does justice, loves mercy and humble walks with God?

1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

God’s saving love confounds every source of human boasting. Let your only boasting be in the cross of Christ.

Matthew 5:1-12.

The Sermon on the Mount begins with eight words of blessing. 

“Who is Jesus speaking to?  As He sees the crowds, He has a particular audience.    He is speaking to a predominantly Jewish audience who have their situation in their minds.  They were an oppressed people under occupation by a foreign army.  These foreign occupations had been part of their history.  The Jewish people had been trampled by the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks and finally the Romans.  It was to this kind of people that Jesus was speaking.  But more than that, they were also a people who had become disillusioned with their attempts at building a new world.  They had been given the law that had given them the picture of the kind of society that God desired.  They had heard the proclamation of the prophets as God’s spokesmen challenged them again and again.  And yet their best efforts had failed.  They were unable to pull themselves up and develop a society that would be pleasing both to God and to themselves.  Here too they had become disillusioned.  Many were looking forward to a “day of the Lord;”  a day when God would intervene and establish a golden era of righteousness, justice and peace.  This new kingdom was to be a kingdom of God or, as Matthew terms it, “the Kingdom of Heaven”.  It would be a work of grace brought about by God’s action.  It is to these people that Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”.  If we take that statement out of context we can easily hear it as bad news.  We can hear it as saying, “we need to be the poor in spirit if we are to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven”. The question that would then follow would be, “So, how can we set about making ourselves poor in spirit?”  But that is not what that verse is saying.  Jesus speaks to those who are the poor in spirit and He says, “You, poor in spirit, you who have been trodden upon, you who despair, know this -the Kingdom of Heaven is yours”.  There is no need for them to become the poor in spirit.  That is what they are and to them comes the Kingdom of Heaven as a gift of God.  They had become disillusioned in their own efforts.  This Kingdom was the work of God.

Jesus continues and says to them, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”.  Must we mourn in order to be comforted?  How do we become the mournful?  Again, the wrong question.  Jesus says, “To you who mourn for your land, your land under oppression, know this – you will be comforted.  Know this – my Kingdom is among you, my Kingdom comes”.

Again He says to those who are before Him, “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth”.  Here He addresses one of the longings of the Jewish people to inherit the earth, the gift of land.  He addresses the nation, “You, who are a meek nation, know this – God’s promise to you – you will inherit the land”.

And then again He says to His audience, “Blessed are those who hunger or thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”.  The oppressed people, the disillusioned people, stand before Him.  They hunger and thirst for a land of righteousness.  They will be filled.” (Extract from a sermon by James Nicolson.)

Question for Reflection:

After reading Matthew 5: 1 – 12 how do you find yourself among the poor in spirit, those who mourn; the meek and those who hunger and thirst for righteousness?

Read through the passage and, as it progresses, reflect on what the gift of grace is to each of the above categories.   As you reflect on each section ask how you can receive and act on this gift of grace.

A Prayer based on the Beatitudes

by John Vest

God of the prophets,

God of Christ:

we are reminded today

that your blessings do not necessarily follow the logic of the world.

The world believes that the rich are blessed,

but Jesus reminds us that it is the poor who are blessed,

the poor in spirit

and the materially poor as well.

We pray for a more just world

in which all have enough and none are left behind.

Though we fear death and avoid its inevitable arrival,

Jesus tells us that those who mourn are blessed.

Help us to experience the truth of this mystery;

bring healing and wholeness to those who are sick;

and comfort those of us who have lost loved ones.

While people covet power,

Jesus blesses the meek;

instruct us, O God, in the ways of humility;

help us to stand in solidarity with the oppressed and marginalized;

show us your presence in the faces of those the world forgets.

Give us a hunger and thirst for righteousness;

fill our hearts with love, overflowing with mercy;

make our hearts pure, and give us a vision of your glory.

In a society divided by race, gender, class, ideology, sexual orientation,

and so many other labels we alone have created,

remind us that we are created in your image,

each of us a beautiful reflection of you,

each of us your beloved child.

Help us then to end our conflicts and wars,

help us to be peacemakers and agents of reconciliation.

Gracious God,

you have so richly blessed us with life,

with love and joy,

with hope in the midst of despair.

Help us to be the salt of the earth.

Help us to be the light of the world,

sharing with others that which we have received,

boldly proclaiming the good news of your love,

finding the seeds of your kingdom within us

and letting your way grow in our lives and throughout the world.

Give us eyes to see the ways you are changing the world in which we live.

Give us ears to hear your call to join with you in the great transformation.

Hear us now, o God,

as we pray for the coming of your kingdom,

following Christ as he taught us to pray:

Our Father…

Monday:

Adoration Focus: Each day recall your previous day and give God thanks for showing His presence in some way in your life.

Confession: Richard Rohr points out that often we focus on our sinful behaviour and fail to bring the big issues of control before God’s gaze.  This week be still and know that God is God.  Confession focus:  arrogance/pride.

The Word: Read from the readings above or your own scripture reading plan.

Seeking the Kingdom: Our response to the Word, looking outwards.                                                                                                                     Shared Focus: This week we pray for our mission in our local Church.  Each day ask God to reveal what He would have happen in and through your church and pray accordingly.   It may help you to focus on various parts of your church each day e.g. Youth, leadership, small groups, men’s/women’s groups, areas of service etc.  Offer yourself into the Mission of God.                           Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

Dedication:

“God will make a way where there seems to be no way…”  Lord, help me to trust that you will make a way for me and help me to walk in that way of hope today.

 Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: Each day recall your previous day and give God thanks for showing His presence in some way in your life.

Confession: Richard Rohr points out that often we focus on our sinful behaviour and fail to bring the big issues of control before God’s gaze.  This week be still and know that God is God.  Confession focus:  self -reliance.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we pray for our mission in our local Church.  Each day ask God to reveal what He would have happen in and through your church and pray accordingly.   It may help you to focus on various parts of your church each day e.g.: Youth, leadership, small groups, men’s/women’s groups, areas of service etc.  Offer yourself into the Mission of God.

Personal Prayers:

Dedication:

“God will make a way where there seems to be no way…”  Lord, help me to trust that you will make a way for me and help me to walk in that way of hope today.

 Wednesday: 

Adoration Focus: Each day recall your previous day and give God thanks for showing His presence in some way in your life.

Confession: Richard Rohr points out that often we focus on our sinful behaviour and fail to bring the big issues of control before God’s gaze.  This week be still and know that God is God.  Confession focus:  asking God to bless your plans (instead of seeking out His plans).

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we pray for our mission in our local Church.  Each day ask God to reveal what He would have happen in and through your church and pray accordingly.   It may help you to focus on various parts of your church each day e.g.: Youth, leadership, small groups, men’s/women’s groups, areas of service etc.  Offer yourself into the Mission of God.

Personal prayers:

Dedication:

“God will make a way where there seems to be no way…”  Lord, help me to trust that you will make a way for me and help me to walk in that way of hope today.

 Thursday:

Adoration Focus: Each day recall your previous day and give God thanks for showing His presence in some way in your life.

Confession: Richard Rohr points out that often we focus on our sinful behaviour and fail to bring the big issues of control before God’s gaze.  This week be still and know that God is God.  Confession focus:  not trusting God enough to risk following where He leads.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we pray for our mission in our local Church.  Each day ask God to reveal what He would have happen in and through your church and pray accordingly.   It may help you to focus on various parts of your church each day e.g.: Youth, leadership, small groups, men’s/women’s groups, areas of service etc.  Offer yourself into the Mission of God.

Personal prayers:

Dedication:

“God will make a way where there seems to be no way…”  Lord help me to trust that you will make a way for me and help me to walk in that way of hope today.

 Friday:

Adoration Focus: Each day recall your previous day and give God thanks for showing His presence in some way in your life.

Confession: Richard Rohr points out that often we focus on our sinful behaviour and fail to bring the big issues of control before God’s gaze.  This week be still and know that God is God.  Confession focus:  not developing a listening lifestyle.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we pray for our mission in our local Church.  Each day ask God to reveal what He would have happen in and through your church and pray accordingly.   It may help you to focus on various parts of your church each day e.g.: Youth, leadership, small groups, men’s/women’s groups, areas of service etc.  Offer yourself into the Mission of God.

Personal prayers:

Dedication:

“God will make a way where there seems to be no way…”  Lord, help me to trust that you will make a way for me and help me to walk in that way of hope today.

 Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Each day recall your previous day and give God thanks for showing His presence in some way in your life.

Confession:  Richard Rohr points out that often we focus on our sinful behaviour and fail to bring the big issues of control before God’s gaze.  This week be still and know that God is God.  Confession focus:  not being prepared to re-evaluate your course of action.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus:  This week we pray for our mission in our local Church.  Each day ask God to reveal what He would have happen in and through your church and pray accordingly.   It may help you to focus on various parts of your church each day e.g.: Youth, leadership, small groups, men’s/women’s groups, areas of service etc.  Offer yourself into the Mission of God.

Personal prayers:

Dedication:

“God will make a way where there seems to be no way…”  Lord, help me to trust that you will make a way for me and help me to walk in that way of hope today.

 Sunday:

Adoration Focus: Each day recall your previous day and give God thanks for showing His presence in some way in your life.

Confession: Richard Rohr points out that often we focus on our sinful behaviour and fail to bring the big issues of control before God’s gaze.  This week be still and know that God is God.  Confession focus: not being able to let go and worship God.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we pray for our mission in our local Church.  Each day ask God to reveal what He would have happen in and through your church and pray accordingly.   It may help you to focus on various parts of your church each day e.g.: Youth, leadership, small groups, men’s/women’s groups, areas of service etc.  Offer yourself into the Mission of God.

Personal prayers:

Dedication:

“God will make a way where there seems to be no way…”  Lord, help me to trust that you will make a way for me and help me to walk in that way of hope today.

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Sunset1Yearly Rhythm

26 January is the Third Sunday after the Epiphany (Ordinary Time) Year A

 

“The church sets aside a holy season called Ordinary Time as sacred.

The Ordinary is part of the religious tradition of being ordered in our daily lives so that we can always be in the presence of the holy.” (Becca Stevens)

 

Daily Rhythm

Devotional Diary  20 – 26 January 2014

20 – 26 January 2014

A resource for the Daily Rhythm of Worship focussed on the Lectionary Readings

Download the PDF here.

 Readings for Sunday 26 January 2014, Third Sunday after the Epiphany Ordinary Time with thanks to http://www.gbod.org/:

 Isaiah 9:1-4 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” A word of hope for a land where Israel (Samaria) and Syria had fought most of their major battles in the past and were about to fight (or had already begun fighting) Judah without regard for the good of the people who called that land home.

Psalm 27:1, 4-9 This Psalm works as a response to the first reading if we join it as a prayer of those who live in a “land of deep darkness.”

1 Corinthians 1:10-18 Paul says, “I appeal to you … that there be no divisions among you … be united in the same mind and the same purpose. … Has Christ been divided?”

Matthew 4:12-23 Jesus begins to announce the kingdom of God by the Sea of Galilee, healing, teaching, and calling fishermen to be his disciples.

Monday:

Adoration Focus: “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the works Thy hand hath made… Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art…”

Confession: This week our confessional focus is our thought life.  Our prayer is that our thoughts may reflect the Spirit of God and that we may always be conscious of God’s immediate presence with us.  Today, focus on your double mindedness.  What draws you away from your focus on God?  Pray that God’s Spirit may cleanse your thoughts.

The Word: See readings above or use your own devotional aids.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week pray for the schools of our land.  Today focus on children as God’s children and pray that they may be seen as such by all.

Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

            Dedication:  God in all: In your walking – God; In your talking – God; In your life – God; In your strife – God; In your seeing – God; In your being – God; In your days – God; In your ways – God; In your night – God; In your plight – God; In your reason – God; In every season – God; With God I’m bound all around. (David Adam)

Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: “I see the stars I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed… Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art…”

Confession: See Monday’s Confession.  Today focus on restless thoughts that need to find their peace in God. Pray that God may fill you with His peaceful thoughts.

The Word: See readings above or use your own devotional aids.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week pray for the schools of our land.  Today focus on all those called to care for and teach children.  Pray that they may be filled with God’s love and encouragement.

Personal Prayers:

            Dedication: God in all: In your walking – God; In your talking – God; In your life – God; In your strife – God; In your seeing – God; In your being – God; In your days – God; In your ways – God; In your night – God; In your plight – God; In your reason – God; In every season – God; With God I’m bound all around. (David Adam)

Wednesday: 

Adoration Focus: “When through the woods and forest glades I wonder, And hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees… Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art…”

Confession: See Monday’s confession.  Today focus on revengeful thoughts.    Pray that God may break the bonds that tie you to these thoughts and release the object of these thoughts into God’s hands.  Now pray that God fills you with a deep sense of forgiveness and freedom.

The Word: See readings above or use your own devotional aids.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week pray for the schools of our land.  Today pray for schools that lack organisation and resources.   Pray that the children may not lose hope.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: God in all: In your walking – God; In your talking – God; In your life – God; In your strife – God; In your seeing – God; In your being – God; In your days – God; In your ways – God; In your night – God; In your plight – God; In your reason – God; In every season – God; With God I’m bound all around. (David Adam)

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: When I look down from lofty mountain grandeur, And hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze. Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art…”

Confession: See Monday’s confession.  Today focus on impure thoughts that crush God’s joy in your life.  Pray that your focus may be on the purity of God and that in Him you may find your joy.

The Word: See readings above or use your own devotional aids.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week pray for the schools of our land.  Today pray for children that are struggling emotionally, mentally, spiritually or physically.  May they know the sustaining presence of God.

Personal prayers:

            Dedication: God in all: In your walking – God; In your talking – God; In your life – God; In your strife – God; In your seeing – God; In your being – God; In your days – God; In your ways – God; In your night – God; In your plight – God; In your reason – God; In every season – God; With God I’m bound all around. (David Adam)

 Friday:

Adoration Focus: “And when I think that God, His Son not sparing, Sent Him to die, I scarce can take it in. Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art…”

Confession: See Monday’s confession.  Today focus on thoughts that distract you from the task immediately at hand.  Pray that God may give you the gift of focus, to seek first the Kingdom of God.

The Word: See readings above or use your own devotional aids.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week pray for the schools of our land.  Today pray for children who are abused at school or at home.  Pray that the root issues may be dealt with and that healing may come.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: God in all: In your walking – God; In your talking – God; In your life – God; In your strife – God; In your seeing – God; In your being – God; In your days – God; In your ways – God; In your night – God; In your plight – God; In your reason – God; In every season – God; With God I’m bound all around. (David Adam)

 Saturday:

Adoration Focus: “That on the cross, my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin.  Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art…”

Confession: See Monday’s confession.  Today focus on selfish thoughts.  Pray that God may enable you to be free to see life through the eyes of your fellow human beings and to care deeply for them without being crushed by their sorrows.

The Word: See readings above or use your own devotional aids.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week pray for the schools of our land.  Today pray for children that are caught up in substance abuse (drugs, alcohol,etc.)  Pray that they may receive the help and care needed.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: God in all: In your walking – God; In your talking – God; In your life – God; In your strife – God; In your seeing – God; In your being – God; In your days – God; In your ways – God; In your night – God; In your plight – God; In your reason – God; In every season – God; With God I’m bound all around. (David Adam)

 Sunday:

Adoration Focus: “Then sings my soul, my Saviour God to Thee, How great Thou art, How great Thou art…”

Confession: See Monday’s confession.  Today focus on thoughts that prevent you from praising God.  Thoughts that see your praise as insignificant; self-conscious thoughts; thoughts of doubt and thoughts that question.  Pray that God may give you release and fill your mind with thoughts of praise.

The Word: See readings above or use your own devotional aids.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Today pray that everyone at our schools may know that God is always close to them and that they may find life and strength in Him.

Personal prayers:

 

            Dedication: God in all: In your walking – God; In your talking – God; In your life – God; In your strife – God; In your seeing – God; In your being – God; In your days – God; In your ways – God; In your night – God; In your plight – God; In your reason – God; In every season – God; With God I’m bound all around. (David Adam)

 Weekly Rhythm

 Engaging with the weekly Lectionary Readings

Comment and Questions

Download the PDF here.

 Isaiah 9:1-4 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.” A word of hope for a land where Israel (Samaria) and Syria had fought most of their major battles in the past and were about to fight (or had already begun fighting) Judah without regard for the good of the people who called that land home.

 “This week’s reading from Isaiah may seem very familiar, not only because the text itself is familiar, but also because part of this same text was included in the first reading for Christmas Eve just one month ago. On Christmas Eve, it is paired with the reading from Luke describing the birth of Jesus and the coming of the shepherds. On Christmas Eve, we hear this text describe Jesus as the light in the darkness, a child born for us who will deliver us from bondage and uphold the kingdom forever, with emphasis on the birth of the child.

 Today, however, a shorter selection from the same text (verses 1-4) supports this week’s Gospel in making a different point. While Luke quotes Isaiah in connection with the birth of Jesus, Matthew quotes this same text to proclaim the prophetic significance of the beginning, the primary location, and the major theme of his public ministry. Light begins to dawn now that Jesus has headed directly into “Galilee of the Gentiles,” the region controlled by the tetrarch Herod, who had just arrested John the Baptizer.

 Jesus going to Galilee thus has a two-fold purpose. First, it is a fulfillment of this text from Isaiah. Light does shine precisely in this region formerly known as the tribal lands of Zebulun and Naphtali, places where Syria and the Northern Kingdom of Israel had fought their wars so “nothing important” was disturbed, and places later that became the target of “ethnic dilution campaigns” of one conqueror of Palestine after another. Keep the mix of languages and cultures there mixed enough, and oppressed enough, and no one of them will have the strength or the urge to resist the new overlords. This is why this place was known to Isaiah as “the land of deep darkness,” and this is why it still had that nickname in the time of Jesus. If light is to shine in deep darkness, this is where Jesus must go.

 But in the narrative itself, we see how this place continues to live up to its ancient reputation. The darkness at the heart of Galilee wasn’t satisfied to keep to its own borders. The tetrarch Herod, like his namesake who ruled at the time of Jesus’ birth, was noted for over-extending his power. John the Baptizer lived and worked primarily in Judea, not Galilee. Despite the fact that John was openly critical of Herod’s taking the wife of his dead brother as his own wife, Herod had no real jurisdiction over John. And yet he had John arrested, jailed, and later, we learn, beheaded in Galilee.

 That John was arrested and taken to a dungeon in Galilee becomes part of why Jesus headed there, too. He was not running away from Herod, as the phrase “he withdrew into Galilee” (fairly common in English translations) may suggest. A better translation would be something like “he made his home in that region again.” Galilee became “home base” for Jesus’ public ministry not just because an old prophet said so, but because the people there, governed by a man like Herod who had sought to silence John, desperately needed good news.

 And that is what Jesus began to give them. Verse 17 represents the core of every sermon, every teaching and every action Jesus took in his public ministry there. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven [God] has drawn near.” (Matthew uses “heaven” in place of “God,” a sign of his Jewish heritage in what is unarguably the most Jewish of the gospels).”

 Psalm 27:1, 4-9 This Psalm works as a response to the first reading if we join it as a prayer of those who live in a “land of deep darkness.”

 1 Corinthians 1:10-18 Paul says, “I appeal to you … that there be no divisions among you … be united in the same mind and the same purpose. … Has Christ been divided?”

 Questions to reflect on this passage.

Try to describe the situation in the Corinthian church using this passage.

Can you draw any parallels with other situation with which you are familiar?

How can we fall into the temptation of following people rather than Christ?

What is the “message of the cross”?

What unites us as Christians?

What would help you move into greater unity with fellow Christians?

 

Matthew 4:12-23 Jesus begins to announce the kingdom of God by the Sea of Galilee, healing, teaching, and calling fishermen to be his disciples.

 “Jesus is walking along the shoreline, spies Simon Peter and Andrew fishing in the lake, and calls them both at once, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people” (v. 19). A little later he repeats the same process with two other fishermen, also brothers, James and John (v. 21).

 Call, and immediate response. The word comes, and they all leave their livelihoods and families, everything and everyone they’ve got, and with James and John, and become disciples of Jesus, on the spot.

 Why would they do that? Why would they leave nets, boats, livelihoods and family at the simplest of calls from Jesus? “Follow me!” It’s not because these men were especially sensitive to the voice of God or Jesus. Their dullness, resistance, contradiction of his teaching, denial and desertion of him later on show their level of faith wasn’t all that special, either.

 What was special was Jesus’ message, a message he’d been proclaiming in the area already for a while before he called them: “The kingdom of God has drawn near” (v. 17). If that message were true, if Jesus were right about that, that’s a message worth leaving everything for. Why wouldn’t you want to be in on the ground floor of what would happen next?

 Now remember where this is happening: Galilee of the Gentiles, land of deep darkness. Lands ravaged by outside forces, people treated as worthless. Jesus is declaring the kingdom of God drawing near here, right here – light in the darkness.

 If the prophet’s words were ringing in their ears as Matthew rings them in ours, how could they do anything but follow Jesus?”

Source

     

Praying the Readings

 These resources may be used when preparing to lead or attend Sunday worship.

Merciful God,

You call us to follow;

to turn away from our own selfish interests,

and to take up our cross and follow after You,

even if the path is difficult to see,

or is heading in a direction we would never have chosen for ourselves.

Forgive us for being so quick to question

and so hesitant to follow.

Help us to see with the eyes of faith,

rather than from our own human point of view.

Teach us to follow without fear,

knowing that You are always with us,

leading the way.

Amen.

 [via re:Worship]

I pray for the following grace:

to know Jesus more intimately,

to love him more intensely,

and to follow him more closely.

From Ignatian Spirituality.com

Let the love of Jesus

surround and consume you

Let the peace of Jesus

gently touch your heart

Let the courage of Jesus

help you persevere in faith

Let the wisdom of Jesus

help you follow the path

which leads to giving all

for the one who gives us life

 [source]

 

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Where does your life point?

 104835400_c8880ca946Yearly Rhythm

 Sunday 19 January, 2014

Second Sunday after the Epiphany, Year A

This season of ordinary time is all about facing in the right direction (being followers of Jesus).  We are looking towards Lent.

 

Weekly Rhythm

(13 – 19th January – 2014)

Engaging with the weekly Lectionary Readings

This section contains short notes on the readings.

 Isaiah 49:1-7.

A Servant Song of Isaiah — “I will give you as a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Psalm 40:1-11.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (first of 6 Sundays in 1 Corinthians).

Paul’s greeting to the Corinthian community.

John 1:29-42.

John the Baptist tells of the baptism of Jesus and points out the “Lamb of God.” They follow him and tell others they have found the Messiah.

[Source]

 

“The theme of in-dwelling in the Gospel of John is developed through the word meno, of which the most distinctive rendering in English has been abide. We encounter that word in John 1:29-42 five times in four verses. Taking the NRSV translation and changing meno to consistently read abide, we get the following renderings:

And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abided on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and abide is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ (John 1:32-32)

When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you abiding?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was abiding, and they abided with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. (John 1:38-39)

I think it is important to see these linkages to what comes later, namely, Jesus’ teaching that he abides in the Father and the Father in him. And we as his disciples are then invited to abide in him and he in us. This passage introduces us to these themes by showing us how the Father’s Spirit comes to abide in Jesus at his baptism.

And then John uses one of his puns to introduce discipleship as abiding in Christ and he in us. The first disciples ask where Jesus is abiding, to which he responds, “Come and see.” The pun is that the disciples follow him to his current abode and see where it is. But Jesus’ invitation is much more far-reaching than that. The Son of Man has no permanent earthly abode to show people. It doesn’t really matter where Jesus was abiding that night. What truly matters is the disciples coming along with him to see his true abiding, that of the Father in him and he in the Father. We are invited to come along, too, and see about this very important matter of abiding in John’s Gospel. [Source]

John 15:4-7 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

      Weekly Rhythm

Praying the Lectionary Readings

These resources may be used when preparing to lead or attend worship on Sunday.

A Prayer for discipleship (following Jesus)

 God of love,

source of mercy and compassion,

weave your dream for the world

into the fabric of our lives.

Remove the scales from our eyes

and lift the indifference from our hearts,

so that we may see your vision –

a new reign of justice and compassion

that will renew the earth.

 Transform our lives,

so that we may accomplish your purpose.

Anoint us with your Spirit

that we might bring good news to the oppressed,

bind up the brokenhearted,

and proclaim release to the captive.

Give us a new urgency

and a new commitment

to feed the hungry,

clothe the naked,

shelter the homeless,

and visit those who live in isolation.

Help us to reach out to those

whom no one else will touch,

to accept the unacceptable,

and to embrace the enemy.

Surround us with your love,

fill us with your grace,

and strengthen us for your service.

Empower us to respond to the call of Jesus –

to deny ourselves,

to take up our crosses,

and to follow.

Make us your disciples.

 Amen

© 2010 Kurt Struckmeyer

 

 Daily Rhythm

 Devotional Diary 13 – 19 January 2014

A resource for the daily rhythm of worship, focussed on the Lectionary Readings.

Click here for a free PDF Download.

 Isaiah 49:1-7.  A Servant Song of Isaiah — “I will give you as a light to the nations that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Psalm 40:1-11.

1 Corinthians 1:1-9 (first of 6 Sundays in 1 Corinthians). Paul’s greeting to the Corinthian community.

John 1:29-42. John the Baptist tells of the baptism of Jesus and points out the “Lamb of God.” They follow him and tell others they have found the Messiah.

 This week we continue with the repeat our 21-day cycle of confession.  You will find the daily focus for this cycle in the confession slot for each day.  Each time we repeat this cycle, allow God to speak to you in new ways and lead you into a deeper sense of healing and freedom.

Monday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 19:1 The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Confession: Lord, forgive me when I rely only on my own strength and I ignore your call to share in the richness of your infinite resources.  Help me to “plug-in” and to live out of your power.

The Word: See readings above: Ask questions: What is being said? What does it mean? How can I apply it in my life?

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we pray for our local church.   Our prayer is that every member would have a heart to express the abundant worth of God in their lives and in this world.

Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

             Dedication:  God, give me work till my life shall end; and life till my work is done. (Words on a grave stone)

 Tuesday:

Adoration Focus:  Psalm 19:7 The precepts of the Lord are right, giving joy to the heart.  The commands of the Lord are radiant, giving light to the eyes.

Confession: Lord, forgive me when I fill my life with hurry and never touch base with your order and love.  Help me to listen to your breathing and to be filled with your breath.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: We continue to pray for our local church.  Pray that we may all be involved in caring for each other and that no-one may be left out of a circle of care.

             Dedication: God, give me work till my life shall end; and life till my work is done. (Words on a grave stone)

 Wednesday: 

Adoration Focus: Psalm 21:13  Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength; we will sing and praise your might.

Confession: Lord, forgive me when I live only for what I can get.  Lord, I find it so hard not to get swallowed by the spirit of materialism, and sometimes I don’t even recognise that I am guided by its ethics.  Set me free that I may be guided by your values.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Praying for the local church.  Today we pray that each person would discover that they are called and gifted by God.

Personal prayers:

            Dedication: God, give me work till my life shall end; and life till my work is done. (Words on a grave stone)

 Thursday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 22:3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the praise of Israel.

Confession: Lord, I do not have a firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust you. O Lord, strengthen my faith. I pray that I may find my peace in you.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Praying for the local church. Our prayer is that we as a church community would be a host for the gospel: that we would reach out and invite others to join us in our walk of faith.

Personal prayers:

            Dedication: God, give me work till my life shall end; and life till my work is done. (Words on a grave stone)

 Friday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 22:19 But you, O Lord, be not far off; O my strength, come quickly to help me.

Confession: Lord, I am so reluctant to actively witness to your glory.  Lord, forgive me and show me how to witness in loving and creative ways.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Praying for the local church.  Today we pray that our church may be filled with a
Spirit of praise.  (God is building a people of praise!)

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: God, give me work till my life shall end; and life till my work is done. (Words on a grave stone)

 Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 23:4 I will fear no evil, for you are with me…

Confession: Lord, I am so self-focussed I find it difficult to praise others and even to really lose myself in my praise of you.  Forgive me Lord and give my heart wings to rise up in praise.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Praying for the local church.  Today we pray that our church may be filled with a spirit of generosity and abundance.

Personal prayers:

            Dedication: God, give me work till my life shall end; and life till my work is done. (Words on a grave stone)

 Sunday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it…

Confession: Lord, you have said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God.”  I have sought first my own kingdom.  Forgive me and help me to have Godly priorities.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus:  Today we pray that our church may be filled with a spirit of holy worship.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: God, give me work till my life shall end; and life till my work is done. (Words on a grave stone)

 

 [Image Source]