Monthly Archives: August 2014

The way of love: Carefrontation. 13th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

stained-glass-love-handsYearly Rhythm

7 September  2014, the  13 th Sunday after Pentecost
Year A,  Colour: Green

“Lent is about preparing people to live as disciples of Jesus. Easter Season is about giving especially the newly baptized or confirmed time to focus deeply on the doctrinal foundations of the faith and on discerning the Spirit’s calling and gifts for ministry, culminating in a celebration and commissioning for these ministries at Pentecost.

Throughout this entire Season after Pentecost, the focus is on helping one another take our next steps in faithful discipleship and ministry in Christ’s name and the Spirit’s power.
Source

 Image Source

Daily Rhythm

Bringing worship into the everyday.

Devotional Diary 1 – 7 September 2014

DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE!

Readings thanks to www.gbod.org

Exodus 12:1-14. God instructs Moses and Aaron how the people are to prepare for “The Passover of YHWH” and its observance throughout all generations.

Psalm 148.

Romans 13:8-14. Paul exhorts the Romans to “owe no one anything except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

Matthew 18:15-20.  Jesus teaches how to deal with conflict between church members, speaks of binding and loosing, and promises his presence wherever two or three are gathered in his name to deal with conflicts that have outgrown the efforts of the individuals involved to resolve them.

MORE ABOUT THE READINGS HERE

Monday:

Adoration Focus: Each day thank God for something that you really enjoy about living.  Thought for the day: Colours…

Confession: Lord, in my own strength I fail; you have the words of life!  This week reflect on your list of failed attempts at new life. Then ask God to lead you into His new life. Thought for the day: enthusiasm.

The Word: Use the readings above or your own Scripture reading plan.

Seeking the Kingdom

Shared Focus:  This week we pray for a renewed sense of mission in our churches. Lord we pray that your church may be led by your Spirit into enthusiastic witness to your glory.

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: Lord, today I choose life abundant; lead me in your ways of life.

 Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: Each day thank God for something that you really enjoy about living. Thought for the day: Tastes…

Confession: Lord, in my own strength I fail; you have the words of life!  This week reflect on your list of failed attempts at new life. Then ask God to lead you into his new life.  Thought for the day: Sense of purpose.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we pray for a renewed sense of mission in our church. Lord, help us, your church, to see how big the Gospel is and to let it lead us.

Personal Prayers:

             Dedication: Lord, today I choose life abundant; lead me in your ways of life.

Wednesday: 

Adoration Focus: Each day thank God for something that you really enjoy about living. Thought for the day: Feelings.

Confession: Lord, in my own strength I fail; you have the words of life!  This week reflect on your list of failed attempts at new life.  Then ask God to lead you into his new life.  Thought for the day: Boldly taking hold of life.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we pray for a renewed sense of mission in our church. Lord, give us, your church, boldness for living the good news of Christ.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: Lord, today I choose life abundant; lead me in your ways of life.

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: Each day thank God for something that you really enjoy about living. Thought for the day:  Making things,creating.

Confession: Lord, in my own strength I fail; you have the words of life!  This week reflect on your list of failed attempts at new life. Then ask God to lead you into his new life.  Thought for the day: Life- giving service.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we pray for a renewed sense of mission in our churches. Lord, lead us, your church, in sacrificial service for the sake of the mission of the church.

Personal prayers:

            Dedication: Lord, today I choose life abundant; lead me in your ways of life.

 Friday:

Adoration Focus:Each day thank God for something that you really enjoy about living. Thought for the day: Friendships.

Confession: Lord, in my own strength I fail; you have the words of life!  This week reflect on your list of failed attempts at new life. Then ask God to lead you into his new life.  Thought for the day: a sense of being called.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we pray for a renewed sense of mission in our churches. Lord, help us, your church, to grasp the length, depth and height of your call upon us.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: Lord, today I choose life abundant, lead me in your ways of life.

 Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Each day thank God for something that you really enjoy about living. Thought for the day: Forgiveness.

Confession: Lord, in my own strength I fail, you have the words of life!  This week reflect on your list of failed attempts at new life.  Then ask God to lead you into his new life. Thought for the day: a Kingdom of God vision.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we pray for a renewed sense of mission in our churches. Lord, give us, your church, a vision for the Kingdom of God in all its fullness as it transforms every facet of life.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: Lord, today I choose life abundant; lead me in your ways of life.

Sunday:

Adoration Focus: Each day thank God for something that you really enjoy about living. Thought for the day: Worship.

Confession:Lord, in my own strength I fail, you have the words of life!  This week reflect on your list of failed attempts at new life. Then ask God to lead you into his new life. Thought for the day: a heart of worship.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we pray for a renewed sense of mission in our churches. Lord, help us your church to worship you in Spirit and in Truth.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: Lord, today I choose life abundant; lead me in your ways of life.

                                                                            

Weekly Rhythm

Thinking more about the lectionary readings –
connecting our stories with the story of God and His people.

DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE!

Readings with thanks to www.gbod.org

Exodus 12:1-14. God instructs Moses and Aaron how the people are to prepare for “The Passover of YHWH” and its observance throughout all generations.  The Passover is so central to the life of the people of Israel that they date their life from that point. It begins their existence as a liberated and set free people.

Recall to mind any moments like this in your life, moments that mark a new beginning, that define your whole life in a new way?

 

Psalms 148This psalm depicts praise from heaven and praise from earth.  Try to list the reasons for praise God given in this psalm.

What moves you to praise God?

 

Romans 13:8-14. Paul exhorts the Romans to “owe no one anything except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”   In advocating love as completing the law Paul seems to encourage the law as a means to express love.  No matter which way you are coming at it, it is about love.  The end (completion) of all things is also an encouragement to moral (loving) behaviour.

What is the danger of obeying the law without Love?

Is there some way in which the law gives direction to love?

 

Matthew 18:15-20.  Jesus teaches how to deal with conflict between church members, speaks of binding and loosing, and promises his presence wherever two or three are gathered in his name to deal with conflicts that have outgrown the efforts of the individuals involved to resolve them.

Do you consider the guidelines given in this passage as helpful?  Why or why not?

How might these guidelines help you in the way you deal with your church community of fellow believers?

 

Praying the Lectionary Readings

Commission & Benediction
(inspired by Romans 13: 11-14)

Go now and walk in the light of the Lord.
Stay alert for the Lord is near.
Put on the armour of light
and live openly and honourably.
Pray for peace for all God’s people.
And may God clothe you in the light of Christ;
May Christ Jesus teach you his ways;
And may the Holy Spirit keep you alert and prepared
for the coming day of the Lord.

We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
In the name of Christ. Amen.

~ copyright © 2001 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

 

Confession: Living as Children of the Light

Here is a prayer of confession based on Romans 13:8-14 and Matthew 18:15-20.

Merciful God,
You call us to turn away from behaviours and attitudes that belong to the darkness,
to live honest and transparent lives as children of the light.
We confess the times when we have failed,
giving in to our darker thoughts and desires;
and acting in ways that did not bring honour to Your name.

Lord, in Your mercy, forgive us.
Teach us how to live as children of the light.

You call us love one another,
to put the needs and interests of those around us above our own;
to love others as deeply as we have been loved by You.
We confess the times when we have failed,
allowing our own desires and interests to take precedence
over the needs of others.

Lord, in Your mercy, forgive us.
Teach us how to love as we have been loved.

You call us to deal honourably with one another,
even those who have hurt or offended us;
to work through our disagreements with love and integrity,
and so to build up the Body of Christ.
We confess the times when we have failed,
finding it easier to simply walk away from hurtful relationships,
or to talk behind people’s backs rather than to their faces.

Lord, in Your mercy, forgive us.
Teach us how to live with love and integrity.

Give us hunger to know You more,
so that we may do Your will
and walk in Your ways,
to the glory of Your name.  Amen.

 

 

 

Follow me! 12th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

footprintsYearly Rhythm

31 August  2014,
The  12 th Sunday after Pentecost
Year A,  Colour: Green

“Lent is about preparing people to live as disciples of Jesus. Easter Season is about giving especially the newly baptized or confirmed time to focus deeply on the doctrinal foundations of the faith and on discerning the Spirit’s calling and gifts for ministry, culminating in a celebration and commissioning for these ministries at Pentecost.

Throughout this entire Season after Pentecost, the focus is on helping one another take our next steps in faithful discipleship and ministry in Christ’s name and the Spirit’s power.
Source

Daily Rhythm

Bringing worship into the everyday.

Devotional Diary  25 – 31 August 2014

DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE

Readings for this week: (with thanks to gbod.org)

Exodus 3:1-15. God calls Moses from a burning bush and commissions him to collaborate in delivering the Israelites from Egyptian oppression. Moses questions his worthiness for the task, and God answers each excuse.

Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c.

Romans 12:9-21. Last week’s text reminds us we are one body. This week’s focus is on being one body in Christ—loving one another, respecting and forgiving one another, loving and reaching out in care to enemies, and blessing even those who persecute us. Even as Christ overcame the power of sin and death, so his body, the church, is called to overcome evil with good.

Matthew 16:21-28. Last week: the confession. This week: the cost of that confession. Jesus tells the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, where he will be killed. Peter rebukes him, and Jesus tells Peter that he is a stumbling block to him by thinking as humans think. Any who will be disciples of Jesus must lay claims to themselves aside, pick up a crucifix, and follow him.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE READINGS HERE.

Monday:

Adoration Focus: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world…” (John 8:12)  Reflect on how God’s light has shone into your life in the past day and give God praise for this gift of grace!  Small moments?

Confession: Let the light of God examine the dark areas of your soul this week.  Acknowledge your darkness and your need of God’s light.  Pray that you may be filled with the light of Christ and let his light drive out the darkness.  “Fill me, Oh Lord, with your life!”   Today’s focus: the habits of your life.

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

Seeking the Kingdom

Shared Focus: This week lift up the dark areas of life.  Remember that the darkness will never put out the light of Christ.  Pray God’s light into these dark areas.  (Each day reflect on a different area e.g. violence and abuse, drug abuse, alcoholism, crime, materialism, oppression, unbelief and hardness of heart, selfishness, sexual abuse and immorality…)

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: Lord Jesus, let your light shine through my life!

Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world…” (John 8:12)  Reflect on how God’s light has shone into your life in the past day and give God praise for this gift of grace!  Through other people?

Confession: Let the light of God examine the dark areas of your soul this week.  Acknowledge your darkness and your need of God’s light.  Pray that you may be filled with the light of Christ and let his light drive out the darkness.  “Fill me, Oh Lord, with your life!”  Today’s focus: negative thought patterns.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal Prayers:

 Dedication: Lord Jesus, let your light shine through my life!

 Wednesday: 

Adoration Focus: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world…” (John 8:12)  Reflect on how God’s light has shone into your life in the past day and give God praise for this gift of grace!  Through creation?

Confession: Let the light of God examine the dark areas of your soul this week.  Acknowledge your darkness and your need of God’s light.  Pray that you may be filled with the light of Christ and let his light drive out the darkness.  “Fill me, Oh Lord, with your life!”  Today’s focus: unforgiveness and grudges.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Lord Jesus, let your light shine through my life!

Thursday:

Adoration Focus:Jesus said, “I am the light of the world…” (John 8:12)  Reflect on how God’s light has shone into your life in the past day and give God praise for this gift of grace!  Through animals/pets?

Confession: Let the light of God examine the dark areas of your soul this week.  Acknowledge your darkness and your need of God’s light.  Pray that you may be filled with the light of Christ and let his light drive out the darkness.  “Fill me, Oh Lord, with your life!”  Today’s focus: insecurities that stop you from loving.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Lord Jesus, let your light shine through my life!

Friday:

Adoration Focus: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world…” (John 8:12)  Reflect on how God’s light has shone into your life in the past day and give God praise for this gift of grace!   Through reading the bible?

Confession: Let the light of God examine the dark areas of your soul this week.  Acknowledge your darkness and your need of God’s light.  Pray that you may be filled with the light of Christ and let his light drive out the darkness.  “Fill me, Oh Lord, with your life!”  Today’s focus: hating life.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Lord Jesus, let your light shine through my life!

Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world…” (John 8:12)  Reflect on how God’s light has shone into your life in the past day and give God praise for this gift of grace!  Through Christ?

Confession: Let the light of God examine the dark areas of your soul this week.  Acknowledge your darkness and your need of God’s light.  Pray that you may be filled with the light of Christ and let his light drive out the darkness.  “Fill me, Oh Lord, with your life!”  Today’s focus:  Trapped in stress and pressures.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Lord Jesus, let your light shine through my life!

Sunday:

Adoration Focus: Jesus said, “I am the light of the world…” (John 8:12)  Reflect on how God’s light has shone into your life in the past day and give God praise for this gift of grace!  Through worship?

Confession: Let the light of God examine the dark areas of your soul this week.  Acknowledge your darkness and your need of God’s light.  Pray that you may be filled with the light of Christ and let his light drive out the darkness.  “Fill me, Oh Lord, with your life!”  Today’s focus: too self-absorbed to worship.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Lord Jesus, let your light shine through my life!

 

 Weekly Rhythm

Thinking more about the readings –
their context and how they might help us lead transformed lives

DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE.

With thanks to www.gbod.com for readings and initial comments.

Exodus 3:1-15. God calls Moses from a burning bush and commissions him to collaborate in delivering the Israelites from Egyptian oppression. Yahweh is the personal name of God meaning:  “I will be God in the way that I will be God”.  Moses questions his worthiness for the task, and God answers each excuse.

How does this story demonstrate that it is God who initiates salvation and who carries it through? 

What excuses do you bring to God? 

How does he answer your excuses?

Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, 45c.  This is a psalm of celebration: remembrance of God’s mighty actions, miracles and wonders.  This remembering demonstrates that God is with us today and we can trust in Him.

Romans 12:9-21. Last week’s text reminds us we are one body. This week’s focus is on being one body in Christ—loving one another, respecting and forgiving one another, loving and reaching out in care to enemies, and blessing even those who persecute us. Even as Christ overcame the power of sin and death, so his body, the church, is called to overcome evil with good.

Using this reading as the basis for a talk you would give to your church what would you say?

Matthew 16:21-28. Last week, the confession. This week: the cost of that confession. Jesus tells the disciples that he must go to Jerusalem, where he will be killed. Peter rebukes him, and Jesus tells Peter that he is a stumbling block to him by thinking as humans think. Any who will be disciples of Jesus must lay claims to themselves aside, pick up a crucifix, and follow him.

What does this mean in your life:  “If any of you want to come with me, you must forget yourself, carry your cross, and follow me.” (GNB) 

How does Jesus demonstrate these words in his birth, life, death and resurrection?  

How do you demonstrate these words in your life? 

See the prayer below: “To follow you”.

 

Praying the Lectionary Readings

 To Follow You

(inspired by Matthew 16:24, Mark 8:34, Luke 9:23)

Today, Lord,
I once again take up my cross and follow you.
Forgive me for choosing daily to be complacent.
Happiness has been my god and I have believed I’m entitled to it.
Forgive me for all the excuses I have
for not responding to you immediately, with urgency, and sacrificially.
Forgive me for complaining about being bored as I sit and do nothing.
Forgive me for the times I have tried to make
carrying my cross more comfortable.
I have been too concerned with finding things to make it easier;
gadgets and toys to make my cross lighter, smaller, and cushioned.
Forgive me for making excuses
and not going with you because I was worried about
my health, safety, reputation, loneliness, financial security,
and ability to handle extreme weather and getting dirty.
Forgive me for focusing on my comfort rather than my character.
Forgive me for the times I have not followed you
because it wasn’t convenient.
I didn’t want to go out of my way to see the needs around me
because then I would feel guilty for not doing something about them.
Forgive me for not loving my neighbors–
I don’t even know their names.
Forgive me for trying to pacify my conscience
by giving just enough to feel good about myself
but not enough to inconvenience my lifestyle.

Today, Lord,
I once again take up my cross and follow you.
Shake me of my complacency;
I want to live daily with an urgency
to radically be the change you call me to be.
Strip me of my comforts;
may my love for you be a driving force to live with joyful surrender.
Scratch out my schedule;
I don’t want my circumstances or timeline
to influence my dedication and obedience
to take up my cross and follow you.
Here I am; Send Me.

May your word pour out of me like water to the thirsty,
and may my life be full of the fruit of the Spirit.
All I am and have I give back to you with open hands
knowing that all my needs you will meet as I go with you.
Today I take up my cross and follow you.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

~ excerpted from a prayer by Hila

 

Who do you say that I am? 11th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

2012-02-25+16.49.24Yearly Rhythm

24 August  2014
The 11 th   Sunday after Pentecost
Year A,  Colour: Green

“Lent is about preparing people to live as disciples of Jesus. Easter Season is about giving especially the newly baptized or confirmed time to focus deeply on the doctrinal foundations of the faith and on discerning the Spirit’s calling and gifts for ministry, culminating in a celebration and commissioning for these ministries at Pentecost. The Season after Pentecost is about seeking the Spirit’s guidance and supporting one another as we undertake these ministries in Christ’s name.” Source

 

Daily Rhythm

Bringing worship into the everyday.

Devotional Diary  18 – 24 August 2014

DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE

This week’s readings (with thanks to gbod.org)

Exodus 1:8-2:10 — A pharaoh who did not know the family of Joseph made his descendants into hard-labour slaves and tried to reduce their numbers by infanticide. The Hebrew midwives and the daughter of Pharaoh had other ideas, so Moses was raised in the royal household.

Psalm 124

Romans 12:1-8 — Paul calls the Christians at Rome to offer themselves fully to God.

Matthew 16:13-20 — In a stronghold of Roman authority, Jesus asks the disciples who others say he is. Peter confesses, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE READINGS HERE.

Monday

Adoration Focus: We are called to respond to God in many ways. In our adoration focus we look at some of these ways.  Today, “Glory in the name of the Lord”

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.

Seeking the Kingdom: The church (remember, you are the church!) has a role to play in all areas of life.  This week we pray for some of these concerns that the church is called to.

Shared Focus: Christ came to bring reconciliation.  Pray that the church may make this ministry of reconciliation relevant to our situation.  Pray that the peoples of your land may come closer together in creativity and peace.

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: Today I choose to follow you…”  (Song of commitment)

Tuesday 

Adoration Focus: Today, “Lift up His holy name.”

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: See readings above.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: The call goes out from the prophets to facilitate justice.  Pray that the church may be a creative part of this process.   Thank God for those within the church who are reflecting on this issue from God’s perspective and are voicing Godly concerns.

Personal Concerns:

                Dedication: Today I choose to follow you…”  (Song of commitment)

Wednesday 

Adoration Focus: Today, “Love the Lord your God.”

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: The call goes out to feed the poor and alleviate poverty.  Pray that the church may take this call to heart and reach out in compassion.

Personal prayers:

                Dedication: Today I choose to follow you…”  (Song of commitment)

Thursday 

Adoration Focus: Today, “Praise His holy name.”

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: The call goes out for the church to be part of the fight against crime and corruption.  Pray that we may build relationships across all barriers and that mutual love and respect for life may be our guide.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: Today I choose to follow you…”  (Song of commitment)

Friday 

Adoration Focus: “Prostrate yourself before the Lord.”

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:  The call goes out for the church to care for people with HIV/AIDS.  Pray that the church may deal with this issue with deep compassion and embrace all who suffer.

Personal prayers:

                Dedication: Today I choose to follow you…”  (Song of commitment)

Saturday 

Adoration Focus: Today, “Sing a new song to His name.”

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: The call goes out to the church to help build family life.  Pray that we may promote healthy families and good family dynamics particularly in an accepting and embracing way.

Personal prayers:

                Dedication: Today I choose to follow you…”  (Song of commitment)

Sunday 

Adoration Focus: Today, “Bow before the name of the Lord.”

Confession: Lord I am so self-focused 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:  The call goes out to the church to strengthen the moral fibre of our country.  Lord, you have called us to a whole new way of life.  Help us not to compromise the values of your call and help us to promote these values in every way we can.  May your holiness spread throughout our land.

Personal prayers:

                Dedication: Today I choose to follow you…”  (Song of commitment)

                                                                      

 Weekly Rhythm

Thinking more about the readings –
their context and how they might help us lead transformed lives.

DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE

Readings and comments this week are all thanks to www.gbod.com

Exodus 1:8-2:10.

“The story begins with subversion! Note who the powerful actors are and are not. Midwives and daughters overcome the reactionary and murderous behavior of the most powerful men in Egypt. Their resistance preserves the life not only of Moses but of many other male children as well. The result is a total backfiring of the Pharaoh’s plan to reduce the Hebrew population. Instead, their population multiplies! And one of their own comes to be the adopted son of the Pharaoh’s daughter!

Life and compassion trump fear and oppression. Midwives defy rules. Daughters save a doomed brother. The Pharaoh’s daughter takes in an orphan floating in the river, and his real mother is hired as his wet nurse.”

What does this tell us about who the important players are in our context today?

Can “small” actions lead to big results?

Psalm 124.  A victory over persecution is celebrated.  Note verse 8, a common statement of faith in the name (presence) of God.

Romans 12:1-8.

Against the backdrop of their mixed Jewish-Gentile community, Paul calls the Christians at Rome to offer themselves fully to God with minds no longer conformed to a Jewish-Gentile dichotomy/enmity paradigm, but transformed by the awareness we are being made into one body, each of us with differing gifts.

Using the imagery of body, Paul pushes the olive tree graft image radically further. Gentile Christians are not merely grafted into the main trunk of God’s covenant with Israel, but all Christians both form one body in Christ, collectively, and individually, each is part the whole like the arm is part of the whole body. We are both collectively and individually being redesigned in Christ to be connected to each other and incorporated into Christ starting with baptism, regardless of the backgrounds from which we have come.

The Holy Spirit gives each of us a variety of different gifts for us to offer to strengthen the whole community. Paul lists a sampling of these in verses 6-8. Note that the gifts listed here are focused not on the “institution” of the church, but on the core activities of the Christian community with each other and on mission in the world—proclaiming God’s living word, serving others, teaching, coaching, giving, leading, and offering mercy.

Matthew 16:13-20.

In a stronghold of Roman authority, Jesus asks the disciples whom others say he is. Peter confesses, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus then calls Peter and the church in which he will eventually lead to storm the gates of death, assured of victory, and to take authority to “bind and loose” on earth.

In the book of Daniel, the Son of Man is portrayed as a deliverer to come. There was wide speculation at this point in history about just who or what kind of person this might be. So Jesus wasn’t asking about what people were thinking about him, but rather about what Jewish people in this most Gentile-controlled of regions expected the Son of Man to be. They, of all people, had good reason to long for deliverance, and so for the coming of the Son of Man.

The answers to this question say a lot about the hopes and expectations of these people. That John the Baptist tops the list indicates just how expectant (and perhaps disappointed) they were. Others seemed to expect a prophet to return, either from heaven (Elijah) or from the grave (Jeremiah or another of the major prophets).  Hear what that suggests: Only such an extraordinary intervention could generate true deliverance! Yet in just such an extraordinary intervention they were placing their hope.

Then, and only then, did Jesus ask the question about himself. “Who do you say I am?” Peter’s response is also telling. “You are the Christ, Son of the living God.” In other words, you are the promised deliverer. You are what folks were looking for in the Son of Man, whether they understood that to be something like John the Baptist or one the prophets returned from the dead, but also much more.

Jesus doesn’t congratulate anyone on their identification of the Son of Man. But Jesus does congratulate Peter on his identification of Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. “Blessed are you, Simon, Jonah’s son. Flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven.” And he goes on, “You are Peter (a stone) and on this rock (same word) I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.”

It’s a powerful image Jesus uses for the church in his blessing of Peter. Often, we think of Hades (the realm of the dead) being on the offensive to destroy us all. But here, Jesus reverses that. The church is storming Death’s dominion, and Death’s best defenses cannot stop us setting its captives free. What holy boldness Jesus intended for us to embody as his body!

And this confession and blessing of the church is also made at Caesarea Philippi, in the heart of Empire’s strongest stronghold in all of Palestine.”  Source

Praying the Lectionary Readings

Who Do You Say I Am?

When Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi,
he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied:
“Some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah,
and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

Then he asked them,
“But you—who do you say I am?”

Lord, You are the Bread of Life,
which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.

You are the Good Shepherd,
who lays down His own life for the sheep in His care.

You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life,
the path by which we come to know God the Father.

You are the Light of the World,
illuminating the way for all who walk in darkness.

You are the Resurrection and the Life,
the source of eternal life for all who believe.

You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God,
and our Redeemer and Lord.

Source

 

Here’s an affirmation of faith written by Michael Perry, posted originally on re:Worship.

We Believe

We believe and know
that Jesus is the Holy One of God.

We believe that he is the Christ,
the Son of  God,
who was to come into the world.

We believe that he is in the Father
and the Father is in him.

We believe that Jesus is the Christ,
the Son of God,

and that by believing
we have life in his name.  Amen.

Prayer of Confession

(based on Romans 12:1-8)

Merciful God,
we confess how easy it is for us to begin to adopt
the attitudes and actions of the world around us;
to let our lives be shaped by contemporary culture
rather than by Your call.

Lord, in Your mercy, hear and forgive.

We confess how often we think of our own interests first—
more concerned with our own status and well-being
than with the well-being of others.

Lord, in Your mercy, hear and forgive.

We confess that we have not always treated one another
as valued members of Your Body, the Church;
that we have allowed intolerance and resentment to tear us apart.

Lord, in Your mercy, hear and forgive.

We confess that we do not always acknowledge You as Lord,
trusting in our own abilities and following our own goals
rather than submitting ourselves to Your will and Your call.

Lord, in Your mercy, hear and forgive.

Through the power of Your Holy Spirit, transform us.
Change us from the inside out,
so that our words and our lives would bring honour and glory to You,
our Saviour and Lord.

Source