Monthly Archives: February 2016

Time to Return

 

 

Yearly Rhythm

What is Lent?  “Lent is a season of the Christian Year where Christians focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting in order to grow closer to God.  Lent is a great time to “repent” — to return to God and re-focus our lives to be more in line with Jesus. It’s a 40 day trial run in changing your lifestyle and letting God change your heart.” (http://www.upperroom.org/lent101)

Weekly Rhythm

A prayer for you to pray during this week:

A Time of Turning Round

Truly dust we are, and to dust we shall return;
and truly yours we are, and to you we shall return.
Help this to be a time of turning round and beginning again.

Through the forty days of Lent, help us to follow you
and to find you: in the discipline of praying
and in the drudgery of caring –
in whatever we deny ourselves,
and whatever we set ourselves to learn or do.

Help us to discover you
in our loneliness and in community,
in our emptiness and our fulfilment,
in our sadness and our laughter.

Help us to find you when we ourselves are lost.

Help us to follow you on the journey to Jerusalem
to the waving palms of the people’s hope,
to their rejection, to the cross and empty tomb.
Help us to perceive new growth amid the ashes of the old.
Help us, carrying your cross, to be signs of your Kingdom. Amen.

— written by Jan Sutch Pickard, in Traveling to Easter with Jesus as our Guide, posted on the website of Patmos Abbey—The Order of Saint Columba. http://www.patmosabbey.org/

Daily Rhythm

 Devotional Diary 29 February – 6 March 2016

Readings for this week with thanks to www.umcdiscipleship.org Sunday 6 March 2016 Fourth Sunday of Lent

Joshua 5:9-12. The “disgrace of Egypt” is rolled away. On the day after the Passover, the people are able to feast from the fruit of the land.

Psalm 32.  A sung confession of sin, disgrace, and God’s prodigal mercy cleanses and heals us.

2 Corinthians 5:16-21. In Christ, God was reconciling the world, not counting our trespasses, and makes those in Christ “ministers of reconciliation.”

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32. The story of a prodigal Father, the wandering and repentance of a younger son and a resentful firstborn brother.

 Monday:

Adoration Focus: O Lord of life, Thy quickening voice awakes my morning song; In gladsome words I would rejoice that I to Thee belong. (Methodist Hymn Book 930)

Confession: 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:  See readings above or use your own devotional aid.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: This week we focus on some issues that face our land and world.  In most of these areas we need to grow in Kingdom of God ways of praying and not simply pray out of fear and anger (although these need to be acknowledged). Each day we will suggest an area and you are invited to ask God how He would have you pray into it.    Today’s concern: Morality.

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: LEAD ME LORD I PRAY; TAKE ME, MOULD ME, USE ME, FILL ME; I GIVE MY LIFE TO THE POTTER’S HAND; CALL ME, GUIDE ME, LEAD ME, WALK BESIDE ME, I GIVE MYSELF TO THE POTTER’S HAND  (A Song of dedication)

 Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: O love, how deep, how broad, how high!  It fill the heart with ecstasy, that God, the son of God, should take our mortal form, for mortals’ sake. (MHB 62)

Confession: Lord, I am part of a people. I am part of a community that fall 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: See Monday’s focus.  Today’s concern: Aids.

Shared Focus:

Dedication: LEAD ME LORD I PRAY; TAKE ME, MOULD ME, USE ME, FILL ME; I GIVE MY LIFE TO THE POTTER’S HAND; CALL ME, GUIDE ME, LEAD ME, WALK BESIDE ME, I GIVE MYSELF TO THE POTTER’S HAND  (A Song of dedication)

Wednesday:

Adoration Focus:  High in the heavens, eternal God, Thy goodness in full glory shines; Thy truth shall break through every cloud that veils and darkens Thy designs. (MHB 48)

Confession: 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: See Monday’s focus.  Today’s concern: Crime.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: LEAD ME LORD I PRAY; TAKE ME, MOULD ME, USE ME, FILL ME; I GIVE MY LIFE TO THE POTTER’S HAND; CALL ME, GUIDE ME, LEAD ME, WALK BESIDE ME, I GIVE MYSELF TO THE POTTER’S HAND  (A song of dedication)

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: Father like He tends and spares us, well our feeble frame He knows; In his hands He gently bears, rescues us from all our foes. (MHB 12)

Confession: 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: See Monday’s focus.  Today’s concern: Corruption.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: LEAD ME LORD I PRAY; TAKE ME, MOULD ME, USE ME, FILL ME; I GIVE MY LIFE TO THE POTTER’S HAND; CALL ME, GUIDE ME, LEAD ME, WALK BESIDE ME, I GIVE MYSELF TO THE POTTER’S HAND  (A song of dedication)

Friday:

Adoration Focus: Earth rejoice, our Lord is King! Sons of men, His praises sing; Sing ye in triumphant strains, Jesus the Messiah reigns!  (MHB246)

Confession: 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 thank you for your gifts that you have given and that I may use them for your glory.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s focus.  Today’s concern: Violence.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: LEAD ME LORD I PRAY; TAKE ME, MOULD ME, USE ME, FILL ME; I GIVE MY LIFE TO THE POTTER’S HAND; CALL ME, GUIDE ME, LEAD ME, WALK BESIDE ME, I GIVE MYSELF TO THE POTTER’S HAND  (A song of dedication)

Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Born Thy people to deliver, born a child and yet a King, Born to reign in us for ever, now Thy gracious kingdom bring. (MHB 242)

Confession: 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: See Monday’s focus.  Today’s concern:  Prejudice and racism.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: LEAD ME LORD I PRAY; TAKE ME, MOULD ME, USE ME, FILL ME; I GIVE MY LIFE TO THE POTTER’S HAND; CALL ME, GUIDE ME, LEAD ME, WALK BESIDE ME, I GIVE MYSELF TO THE POTTER’S HAND  (A song of dedication)

Sunday:

Adoration Focus: I sing the almighty power of God, that made the mountains rise, that spread the flowing seas abroad, and built the lofty skies.  (MHB 46)

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: See Monday’s focus.  Today’s concern:  Unemployment and economic empowerment.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: LEAD ME LORD I PRAY; TAKE ME, MOULD ME, USE ME, FILL ME; I GIVE MY LIFE TO THE POTTER’S HAND; CALL ME, GUIDE ME, LEAD ME, WALK BESIDE ME, I GIVE MYSELF TO THE POTTER’S HAND  (A song of dedication)

Repent!

Yearly Rhythm

It is Lent and we are following Christ on his journey into Jerusalem.  What needs to die with Christ on the cross?

Weekly Rhythm

I again offer you the Jesuit prayer of examen.  Practice it again this week, or if your did not use it two weeks back make time this week for an examination of your life.  This is part of your Lenten Journey.

There are five steps:

  1. Recalling we are in the presence of God
  2. Looking over the events of the day with gratitude for the day’s gifts
  3. Inviting the Holy Spirit to help us evaluate our actions and attitudes with honesty and patience
  4. Reviewing the day making yourself aware of where Christ assisted your decisions and where you should have paused to receive his instruction
  5. A heart to heart talk with Jesus, sharing your thoughts on your actions, attitudes, feelings and interactions.

Daily Rhythm

 Devotional Diary 22 -28 February 2016

Readings for this week with thanks to www.umcdiscipleship.org Sunday 28 February 2016 Third Sunday of Lent

Isaiah 55:1-9. A prophetic song in which God promises mercy, pardon, and abundant provision to those who repent and trust in God.

Psalm 63:1-8.  A Psalm of trust. “My soul thirsts for you, my flesh faints for you … my soul is satisfied as with a rich feast, my mouth praises you with joyful lips.” This psalm enables the congregation to sing and pray with deep physicality in response to the offer of abundant provision for all who will repent and trust in God.

1 Corinthians 10:1-13.  The pattern of the baptized life is to be one of continual repentance, trusting that God will not test us beyond our strength.

Luke 13:1-9. Time is available for repentance and response — the fig tree and the gardener.

This week: Our adoration focus reflects on Psalm 8.  We continue with our 21-day cycle of confession.  In our shared prayer focus we pray for people we know who are involved in certain professions and work. 

Monday:

Adoration Focus: O Lord, our Lord, your greatness is seen in all the world!  (Psalm 8:1)

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: Use readings above or your own devotional aids.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Pray for someone you know who is in the police force.

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:  “One Step enough for me…  “  Lord I thank you that you do not go so far ahead that I have no hope of following. Lord, by your help I commit myself to today’s “Step”.

 Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: O Lord, our Lord…Your praise reaches up to the heavens… (Psalm 8:1)

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: Pray for someone you know who is in the government.

Personal Prayers:

Dedication: “One Step enough for me…  “  Lord I thank you that you do not go so far ahead that I have no hope of following. Lord, by your help I commit myself to today’s “Step”.

Wednesday:

Adoration Focus: When I look at the sky, which you have made… what is man that you think of him?  (Psalm 8:3+4)

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: Pray for someone you know who is involved in children’s work.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: “One Step enough for me…  “  Lord I thank you that you do not go so far ahead that I have no hope of following. Lord, by your help I commit myself to today’s “Step”.

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: When I look at the… moon and stars, which you set in their places – what is… mere man that you care for him? (Psalm 8:3+4)

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: Pray for someone you know who is involved in adult education.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: “One Step enough for me…  “  Lord I thank you that you do not go so far ahead that I have no hope of following. Lord, by your help I commit myself to today’s “Step”.

Friday:

Adoration Focus: What is man… Yet you made him inferior only to yourself… (Psalm 8:4+5)

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: Pray for someone you know who is in the healing profession.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: “One Step enough for me…  “  Lord I thank you that you do not go so far ahead that I have no hope of following. Lord, by your help I commit myself to today’s “Step”.

Saturday:

Adoration Focus: What is man… you crowned him with glory and honour. You appointed him ruler over everything you made…(Psalm 8:4,5+6)

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: Pray for someone you know who is involved in the farming industry.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: “One Step enough for me…  “  Lord I thank you that you do not go so far ahead that I have no hope of following. Lord, by your help I commit myself to today’s “Step”.

Sunday:

Adoration Focus: O Lord, our Lord, your greatness is seen in all the world! (Psalm 8:9)

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:  Pray for someone you know who is in the ordained ministry.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: “One Step enough for me…  “  Lord I thank you that you do not go so far ahead that I have no hope of following. Lord, by your help I commit myself to today’s “Step”.

Resisting the Kingdom

Seasonal Rhythm

Lent has been described as “an invitation to make space for your soul”.   Why do we give things up?  The suggestion is not to punish ourselves but rather to “make space for our souls”.  We give things up to make space.  Get the feeling you are too caught up?  What practices do you need to initiate to make space?  Some quiet space, still space, resting space?  How can you make space this lent?

Weekly Rhythm

Here is a quiet practice given to us by Chris Erdman.

Find a quiet place and sit down (or lie down) and spend a dozen or more minutes with God. Not the kind of prayer when you talk at God (there’s place for that). But the prayer that listens deeply. Yields. Is simply present to God. Being with the Mystery. Communion.

What do you do?

Begin this way . . . step one of three.

Sit (or lie) still. Alert. Become aware of your body. Find places of tension with you. (I carry my tension in my jaw and cheeks. My gut too.) Find the tension and release it gently. Let your body, settle into a natural stillness. Now let your breath fall into a natural rhythm. Don’t control it. Let it comes to a natural in and out rhythm, as if you were sleeping.  Feel the life in your body.  The Orthodox Fathers searched inwardly until they could feel their heart beating. Tough. But most beginners can feel a sense of aliveness in their hands.

You seek God alone. But your body is a vessel for the Holy Spirit. The fullness of God dwells in your body, scandalous as that may be. The Incarnation teaches us to honor the body; so does Christian thought and practice. If you’re going to meet God, you will meet God by becoming more aware of your body, letting your body be that vessel of encounter. If you’re not in your body, you’ll not meet God. You’ll be everywhere else but the one place God’s come to meet you.

Sit still. Sit straight. Breathe. Relax. And as you do you may begin to gently let a prayer (like the Jesus Prayer) rise and fall with your breath. In . . . “Jesus.” Out . . . “Mercy.” Or something similar.

Don’t fret if your thoughts drag you away. They’ll try. When they do, simply and undramatically return to your senses—follow your breath into your body, and corral the mind with a simple prayer.  Classically, this is the purgative or cleansing step.  With each breath, confess your tension.  Confess the difficulty you have getting still.  Confess the thoughts, ideas, images that want to lead you anywhere but here.  Confess your need for God.  Let go. Release.  Unburden.

Begin with 10 minutes and work up to 25 minutes.

(www.chriserdman.com)

Daily Rhythm

 Devotional Diary 15 – 21 February 2016

Readings for this week with thanks to www.umcdiscipleship.org Sunday 21 February 2016 Second Sunday of Lent

Genesis 15:1-12, 17-18. God establishes a covenant with Abram to make him a “father of many nations.”

Psalm 27.  When we embrace the covenant God makes with us in baptism, we can sing “The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Philippians 3:17-4:1.Our citizenship (the strongest Roman analogy to covenant) is in heaven, and the power of God manifest  in Christ’s resurrection will transform us to be conformed to the body of Christ’s glory.

Luke 13:31-35. Jesus laments over the resistance of “Jerusalem” to the word of God.

This week’s focus: Making a difference by going into the world as a Kingdom of God person. For our confession we revisit our 21-day cycle of confession (found under the Confession focus for each day).

Monday:

Adoration Focus: Lord God, you are the fountain of love.

Confession: In what areas am I envious?  Does this envy “drive” my life in any areas?  How does this indicate restlessness within my own spirit?  How can my relationship with God help me with my envy?

The Word: Use above readings or your own devotional aids.

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: Reflect on your surroundings through the Kingdom of God window.  Focus on God’s will being done on earth as it is in heaven.  Ponder the values of God’s Kingdom: His love, righteousness, justice and peace.  Think of His care for the outcast and poor and despised.  List any prayer concerns that are raised up by God’s Spirit within your heart.  Using this exercise make a list of prayer concerns that you can pray into each day this week.  You are invited to write these into the shared focus points for each day.  If needs be, come back to this reflective exercise and renew your list during the week.

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:  Living Christ, open our eyes to see you in the world around us; open our hearts to the inclusiveness of your love; and open our minds to reflect on your purpose to reconcile all things to yourself. (IBRA)

 Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: Lord God, you are the fountain of joy.

Confession: Does a seething anger just wait to rise up within my heart?   Do I find that I am quite controlled until I unexpectedly burst out in a rage?  Do I drive my car aggressively?  Ask God to allow you to acknowledge your anger and release its hold over your life.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal Prayers:

Dedication: Living Christ, open our eyes to see you in the world around us; open our hearts to the inclusiveness of your love; and open our minds to reflect on your purpose to reconcile all things to yourself. (IBRA)

Wednesday:

Adoration Focus: Lord God, you are the fountain of all hope.

Confession: In the face of crying needs we often choose not to notice or even deliberately ignore them.  Ask God to open your heart to His call to serve.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Living Christ, open our eyes to see you in the world around us; open our hearts to the inclusiveness of your love; and open our minds to reflect on your purpose to reconcile all things to yourself. (IBRA)

Thursday:

Adoration Focus: Lord God, you are the fountain of comfort.

Confession: Lord, make me aware of the pride in my life.  Pride that keeps me aloof and apart.  Pride that is rooted in insecurity and a need to prove myself.  Pride that makes me humiliate other human beings.  Lord, help me to make myself vulnerable and to serve rather than be served.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Living Christ, open our eyes to see you in the world around us; open our hearts to the inclusiveness of your love; and open our minds to reflect on your purpose to reconcile all things to yourself. (IBRA)

Friday:

Adoration Focus: Lord God, you are the fountain of peace.

Confession: Lord forgive me for alienated myself from this world that you love.  Help me to reach out in love and care.  Help me to make a difference.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Living Christ, open our eyes to see you in the world around us; open our hearts to the inclusiveness of your love; and open our minds to reflect on your purpose to reconcile all things to yourself. (IBRA)

Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Lord God, you are the fountain of trust and faith.

Confession: Lord forgive me when I invest huge resources for my own entertainment but will be resentful about a minor offering to alleviate another’s deep suffering.  Lord God, I pray for a generous heart.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Living Christ, open our eyes to see you in the world around us; open our hearts to the inclusiveness of your love; and open our minds to reflect on your purpose to reconcile all things to yourself. (IBRA)

Sunday:

Adoration Focus: Lord God, you are the fountain of praise and worship.

Confession: Lord forgive me when I give all for my own ambitions and loose your call to share in love in important relationships in my life.  Help me to count the cost of loving and discover new joy in giving.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s shared focus.

Personal prayers:

Dedication: Living Christ, open our eyes to see you in the world around us; open our hearts to the inclusiveness of your love; and open our minds to reflect on your purpose to reconcile all things to yourself. (IBRA)