Monthly Archives: March 2015

Look up!

Look up!Yearly Rhythm

15 March 2015
The Fourth Sunday in Lent
Year B, Colour: Purple

“The most important thin in your life is not what you do; it’s who you become. That’s what you will take into eternity. You are an unceasing spiritual being with an eternal destiny in God’s great universe.”

Dallas Willard

How to use this blog: for more on the Revised Common Lectionary.

Daily Rhythm

Making worship part of the everyday

Devotional Diary   9 – 15 March 2015

DOWNLOAD THE DEVOTIONAL DIARY AND COMMENTS AS A PDF HERE!

This is the fourth Sunday in Lent.
Lectionary Readings for this week. Brief notes with thanks to www.gbod.org:

Numbers 21:4-9 The people’s complaining brought death in the form of serpents. God offered healing from the serpents’ bites for all who would look upon a bronze serpent Moses fashioned and lifted on a pole.

Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22   A psalm of thanksgiving for deliverance from deadly disease caused by human sin.

Ephesians 2:1-10. Paul proclaims the power of God’s salvation, delivering us from “the ruler of the power in the air” and “the passions of our flesh,” which were killing us. God extends this salvation to humans through grace — not through our earning it in any way. God’s salvation not only breaks the chains of the powers that bind us, but empowers us to live lives full of good works. We become a reflection of the “immeasurable riches of God’s grace” that God desires to lavish upon all who will receive them.

John 3:14-21. Jesus offers two meta-narratives to help Nicodemus understand the meaning of God’s salvation through him — Moses lifting up the serpent, and God’s free gift of eternal life to all who will “believe into” (live as his disciples.)

Monday:

Adoration Focus: Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. (Psalm 105:3)

Confession: Lent and Easter are all about death and resurrection.  What needs to die in you so that you may truly live?  Today’s focus: Lord, I have used my tongue as a weapon of destruction.  I have spoken words that break down and do not build up.  I have despised my heart that has not been able to silence my tongue.  Forgive me and fill me with your words and your heart that seeks for the best for all.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom

Shared Focus: Today pray that God would raise relevant, persevering, and wise Christian leadership in the churches of our land.

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, may your resurrection life spring up like a well of living water within me this day.

Tuesday:

Adoration Focus:  How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. (Psalm 104:24)

Confession: Lent and Easter are all about death and resurrection.  What needs to die in you so that you may truly live?  Today’s focus: Lord, I am part of a people. I am part of a community that falls far short of your Kingdom ideals.  Forgive us I pray and enable us to realise that your Kingdom is among us.  Fill us with your justice, righteousness and peace.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Today pray that our churches may take the call to pray for our land seriously.

Personal Prayers:

             Dedication: Lord, may your resurrection life spring up like a well of living water within me this day.

Wednesday:

Adoration Focus: Praise the Lord… who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:5)

Confession: Lent and Easter are all about death and resurrection.  What needs to die in you so that you may truly live?  Today’s focus: Lord, forgive me when I desire peace but am not prepared to sacrifice and serve in building peace.  Lord, help me to follow where you have led and to give myself that others may live in fullness.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Today pray that God may give our churches a vision for our land that would inspire the church to act in love, transformation and care.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: Lord, may your resurrection life spring up like a well of living water within me this day.

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: But you, O Lord, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations. (Psalm 102:12)

Confession: Lent and Easter are all about death and resurrection.  What needs to die in you so that you may truly live?  Today’s focus: Lord, forgive me when I make your grace a “cheap” commercial product.  Help me to journey below the surface froth and bubble.  Help me to go deeper.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Today pray that the churches of our land would care for more than just their own, that we would cross barriers and care for all.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: Lord, may your resurrection life spring up like a well of living water within me this day.

Friday:

Adoration Focus: I will sing of your love and justice; to you, O Lord, I will sing praise. (Psalm 101:1)

Confession: Lent and Easter are all about death and resurrection.  What needs to die in you so that you may truly live?  Today’s focus: Lord, I have neglected the gifts you have given me.  Some have atrophied.  Sometimes a lack of confidence has paralysed me; sometimes I have been caught up in struggle, sometimes I have been lazy.  Lord I pray that I may thank you for your gift that you have given and that I may use them for your glory.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Today pray that the churches may be filled with acts of compassion and mercy that justice may flow like a river.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: Lord, may your resurrection life spring up like a well of living water within me this day.

Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Know that the Lord is God.  It is he who made us, and we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. (Psalm 100:3)

Confession: Lent and Easter are all about death and resurrection.  What needs to die in you so that you may truly live?  Today’s focus: Lord, forgive me for my sins of neglect.   Those things which I have not done where You have prompted me into action.  When You speak help me to act.  Help me to develop a habit of listening and responding.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Pray that God’s Spirit may prompt us as to how to pray for our local context: pray then as He prompts.

Personal prayers:

           Dedication: Lord, may your resurrection life spring up like a well of living water within me this day.

Sunday:

Adoration Focus: The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake. (Psalm 99:1)

Confession: Forgive me Lord, when I have been difficult to live with.  Forgive me when I have not carried my share of the load.  Forgive me when I have accepted unjust roles just because they have prospered my own comfort and interests.  Help me to make space for and to care for others.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Pray for a renewed desire for people to enter into a new covenant relationship with God.

Personal prayers:

            Dedication: Lord, may your resurrection life spring up like a well of living water within me this day.

Weekly Rhythm

Joining our stories with the stories of God’s people.

Prayers to help you apply the readings:
(The notes in italics are with thanks to www.gbod.org.)

Numbers 21:4-9. 

The people’s complaining brought death in the form of serpents. God offered healing from the serpents’ bite for all who would look upon a bronze serpent Moses fashioned and lifted on a pole.

See the prayer for the gospel passage below.

Psalm Response: Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22  

A psalm of thanksgiving for deliverance from a deadly condition understood to be caused by human sin.

Prayer of Intercession

(based on Psalm 107)

We come to you in prayer, O God.
We know your steadfast love endures forever.
We pray for a world that is sick through our sinful ways,
with an environment that is out of balance,
with economies that are out of balance,
with nations and races that are out of balance.
We pray to you; come save us.
We pray for people in places of conflict and danger this day . . .
for those who give their lives to keep their families, friends,
and neighbors safe . . . and for our leaders . . .                      Silence

We come to you in prayer, O God.
We know your steadfast love endures forever.
We pray for a people who are sick and afflicted
through our sinful ways,
sick and afflicted through broken relationships,
sick and afflicted because of hunger and poverty,
sick and afflicted because of bodies distressed and near death.
We pray to you; come heal us.
We pray for those who are imprisoned or alone today . . .
for those who are ill or infirm . . . and for those who mourn . . .             Silence

 

We come to you in prayer, O God.
We know your steadfast love endures forever.
We pray for your Church,
sent to heal and deliver our world
but beset by fears,
bogged down by petty problems,
broken by stingy ears and overly lavish egos.
We pray to you; come gather us at your table. 
We pray for this congregation gathered here . . . Silence

We come to you in prayer, O God.
We thank you for your steadfast love
and your wonderful works.
Remake our lives as thanksgiving sacrifices.
Send us forth to tell of your deeds with songs of joy.
Hear these and all our prayers,
in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ,
whom you sent to save us.  

 — written by James Hart Brumm in Praying the Psalms in Lent.  Published in the December, 2008 issue of Reformed Worship.  http://reformedworship.org/

Ephesians 2:1-10. 

Paul proclaims the power of God’s salvation, delivering us from “the ruler of the power in the air” and “the passions of our flesh,” which were killing us. God extends this salvation to humans through grace — not through our earning it in any way. God’s salvation not only breaks the chains of the powers that bind us, but empowers us to live lives full of good works. We become a reflection of the “immeasurable riches of God’s grace” that God desires to lavish upon all who will receive them.

Here are words of assurance (following confession) based on two of the scripture texts for the fourth Sunday of Lent, Year B (March 18, 2012). (John 3:16-17; Ephesians 2: 1-10)

 

God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world
but in order that through him the world might be saved.
Though we were dead through our sins,
in great mercy, God has spoken a word of healing
and made us alive together with Christ.

Sisters and Brothers,

your sins are forgiven;

be at peace.

— Copyright © 2003 Nathan Nettleton http://www.laughingbird.net/

John 3:14-21

Jesus offers what may be for many of us an unfamiliar narrative, Moses lifting up the serpent, as analogy for how God’s free gift of eternal life works for all who will “believe into” him (i.e., live as disciples of Jesus).

 

Here’s a lovely prayer by John van de Laar inspired by Numbers 21: 4-9 (the story of the bronze serpent lifted up to heal the Israelites in the wilderness) and John 3: 14-21 (where Jesus makes a link between the lifting up of that serpent and his own upcoming crucifixion).

 

Looking Up

 

Too often, too easily, our eyes are drawn down, God,
to the suffering of victims
and the pain of perpetrators,
to the wounds we inflict on others
and the wounds we inflict on ourselves.
We need to see these things and pray,
But, we also need our eyes to be lifted, God,
to the signs of your life among us,
to the touch of your healing on our souls,
to the cross that casts its liberating shadow
across all human affairs.
We need our eyes to be lifted, God,
so our hearts may be filled with faith
and hope
and love
Amen.

 

— written by John van de Laar, and posted on his excellent Sacredise website.
Visit there for many other excellent lectionary-based worship resources.

 

 

Clearing out, Cleaning up!

clearing up, cleaning outYearly Rhythm

8 March
The Third Sunday in Lent
Year B, Colour: Purple

“Discipline in the spiritual life is the concentrated effort to create the space and time where God can become our master and where we can respond to God’s guidance. Thus, discipline is the creation of boundaries that keep time and space open for God – a time and place where God’s gracious presence can be acknowledged and responded to.”
Henri Nouwen, “Bread for the Journey: A Daybook of Wisdom and Faith.”

For more on how to use these resources see About This Blog.

Daily Rhythm

Making worship part of the everyday

Devotional Diary   2 – 8 March 2015

 DOWNLOAD THE DEVOTIONAL DIARY AND COMMENTS AS A PDF HERE.

Readings for Sunday 8 March (thanks to gbod.org) 8 March is the third Sunday in Lent.

Exodus 20:1-17 God speaks the “Ten Words” (as they are known in Judaism), beginning with an important identity statement: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”

Psalm 19.  A psalm declaring Creation’s praise of God and our praise of God’s instruction (“Torah”).

1 Corinthians 1:18-25.  Paul notes what must have been obvious — proclaiming a crucified man as Messiah and Saviour can be a stretch for all people, Jewish or Gentile. But for those who “get it,” it is a powerful, life-changing message that opens up a new understanding of God and the world.

John 2:13-22.  Jesus makes Temple worship impossible at the busiest time of the year — the Passover sacrifice. He confronts those who had turned the Temple courtyard into a marketplace, and they ask him what sign of authority he has for doing this. He tells them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

Monday:

Adoration Focus: Each day simply repeat this verse a number of times and then allow your heart to give thanks to God: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)  By the end of the week aim to know it off by heart.

Confession: Christ was stripped naked and crucified.  This week allow God to strip you of all that pulls your life away from following and worshipping Christ.  Focus question:  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: Use the Lectionary Readings above or your own Scripture reading plan.

Seeking the Kingdom

Shared Focus: Praying for the world that Christ died for. Today: The broken…

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: Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: Each day simply repeat this verse a number of times and then allow your heart to give thanks to God: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)   By the end of the week aim to know it off by heart.

Confession: Christ was stripped naked and crucified.  This week allow God to strip you of all that pulls your life away from following and worshipping Christ.  Focus question: 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: Praying for the world that Christ died for. Today: The lost…

Personal Prayers:

Dedication: Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Wednesday: 

Adoration Focus: Each day simply repeat this verse a number of times and then allow your heart to give thanks to God: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)   By the end of the week aim to know it off by heart.

Confession: Christ was stripped naked and crucified.  This week allow God to strip you of all that pulls your life away from following and worshipping Christ.  Focus question: 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 world that Christ died for.  Today: The bitter…

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: Each day simply repeat this verse a number of times and then allow your heart to give thanks to God: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)   By the end of the week aim to know it off by heart.

Confession: Christ was stripped naked and crucified.  This week allow God to strip you of all that pulls your life away from following and worshipping Christ.  Focus question: Lord, I do not have a firm fait; 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 world that Christ died for. Today: The cut off…

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Friday:

Adoration Focus: Each day simply repeat this verse a number of times and then allow your heart to give thanks to God: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)   By the end of the week aim to know it off by heart.

Confession: Christ was stripped naked and crucified.  This week allow God to strip you of all that pulls your life away from following and worshipping Christ.  Focus question: 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 world that Christ died for. Today: The confused…

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Each day simply repeat this verse a number of times and then allow your heart to give thanks to God: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)   By the end of the week aim to know it off by heart.

Confession: Christ was stripped naked and crucified.  This week allow God to strip you of all that pulls your life away from following and worshipping Christ.  Focus question: 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 world that Christ died for. Today: The rebellious…

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

Sunday:

Adoration Focus: Each day simply repeat this verse a number of times and then allow your heart to give thanks to God: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)   By the end of the week aim to know it off by heart.

Confession: Christ was stripped naked and crucified.  This week allow God to strip you of all that pulls your life away from following and worshipping Christ.  Focus question: 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: Praying for the world that Christ died for. Today: The burdened…

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Then Jesus said to his disciples: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.” Matthew 16:24

 

Weekly Rhythm

Joining our stories with the stories of God’s people.

Additional information about the readings: (Notes in italics are with thanks to www.gbod.org.)

Exodus 20:1-17 God speaks the “Ten Words” (as they are known in Judaism), beginning with an important identity statement: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.”

Here’s a re-working of the Ten Commandments from Carolyn Brown’s Worshiping with Children website:

God is God – even at school!
God is more important than anything, even grades or friends
Always say God’s name respectfully
Don’t get too busy for church
Speak of your father and mother with love
Don’t hurt anyone, watch where you sling your book bag and lookout for the younger kids
Be a loyal friend
Do not steal either other people’s stuff or the answers on their work
Don’t tell lies about other people either to get them in trouble or make yourself look good
Don’t get jealous of what others have or what they can do

~ written by Carolyn Brown, and posted on Worshiping with Children.
http://www.worshipingwithchildren.blogspot.ca/2013/07/year-c-proper-13-18th-sunday-in.html

 

If you had to rework the ten commandments for your context, how might it read?

Psalm 19.  A psalm declaring Creation’s praise of God and our praise of God’s instruction (“Torah”).

God’s Word to Me

(inspired by Psalm 19)

Jesus… You are God’s Son shining in the heavens
I smile in your light
Jesus… You are my Bridegroom coming for me
I hold you in my heart
Jesus… You are my Champion rejoicing to run your course
I follow you
Jesus… You are God’s Law restoring souls
I study and obey you
Jesus… You are more precious than gold
I give up all for you
Jesus…You are sweeter than honey
I delight in you
Jesus… You are God’s Word to me
I love to speak your name

~ written by Bill & Kristi Gaultiere,
Posted on Soul Shepherding. http://www.soulshepherding.org/

 1 Corinthians 1:18-25.  Paul notes what must have been obvious — proclaiming a crucified man as Messiah and SavioUr can be a stretch for all people, Jewish or Gentile. But for those who “get it,” it is a powerful, life-changing message that opens up a new understanding of God and the world.

Prayer

(inspired by 1 Corinthians 1:18-31, 3:18-20)

 

They are right,
those who doubt what we do.
It is purely the product of over-active imaginations.

Who but the foolish would look at barren ground and imagine food for all,
see past desolation and believe it will become an oasis,
would not be stopped by war, but live for the day it will be peace,
and reach deep into the world’s fear in the prayer it would bring life.

So if faith is the terrain of the deluded
then may you leave here with the faith of the fools
who have loved the world since its beginning
and will live for its redemption until its end.

 

~ written by Cheryl Lawrie,
and posted on [hold this space]. http://holdthisspace.org.au/

 John 2:13-22.  Jesus makes Temple worship impossible at the busiest time of the year — the Passover sacrifice. He confronts those who had turned the Temple courtyard into a marketplace, and they ask him what sign of authority he has for doing this. He tells them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”

A Prayer of Confession

(based on John 2: 14-21)

Jesus, cleanser of temples and souls,

at this mid-point in the Lenten journey,

look deep within our hearts and our lives,

and clear away all that holds us back.

May our minds, spirits and bodies

be a Temple that is open to Your presence:

and may our words and our actions

be transparent to Your love and truth.

We pray that this church community,

will be purified in its life and mission,

so that all that we do in and from here

may reveal Your Gospel to others.

In a moment of silence we sit before You,

and name those things for which

we seek Your cleansing and healing,

so that we may be more faithful disciples.

Silence

Words of assurance

Friends of Jesus, we are made clean

by the words he has spoken to us.

There is room in our lives and in our community

for the Holy One to dwell. Thanks be to God.

Amen.

 

— written by Ann Siddall, Posted on the Uniting Church SA website.