Home Prayers News Info Radio Links Contact
Visit us on Facebook and share your response to our music Become friends or subscribe on Facebook for even more interaction  

FaithSing - Christian Music

9 Apr 2017

Prayer
Lord, deepen our trust in You

Bible Passage


The Lord has given me
a disciple's tongue.
So that I may know how to reply to the wearied
he provides me with speech.
Each morning he wakes me to hear,
to listen like a disciple.
The Lord has opened my ear.

For my part, I made no resistance,
neither did I turn away.
I offered my back to those who struck me,
my cheeks to those who tore at my beard;
I did not cover my face
against insult and spittle.

The Lord comes to my help,
so that I am untouched by the insults.
So, too, I set my face like flint;
I know I shall not be shamed.

Reflection

Our trust in the Lord is one of the most important foundations of faith.
However bad things look, the Lord will give us the words we need and the grace we need.
We do not need to offer resistance to evil, nor hide from it, instead we need to trust in God

17 Feb 2017

Prayer
Lord, give us the grace to transcend our self-centredness and become channels of Your Love for those around us

Bible Passage

Mark 8:34-9:1
Jesus called the people and his disciples to him and said, 'If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.
For anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.
What gain, then, is it for a man to win the whole world and ruin his life? And indeed what can a man offer in exchange for his life?
For if anyone in this adulterous and sinful generation is ashamed of me and of my words, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.'
And he said to them, 'I tell you solemnly, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.'



Reflection

The meaning of life does not reside in the pursuit of goods, the persuit of money, or the pursuit of exciting experiences. These transient things do not fulfil us, they provide only momentary pleasure. The meaning of life resides in giving oneself to others. This giving involves renouncing self - i.e. I am not out for what I can get - taking up the cross and following Jesus, who laid down his life for others.

10 Jul 2016

Prayer
Open our eyes, Lord, that we may see those around us who are in need. Open our hearts, Lord, that your Love and Compassion may flow through us.

Bible Passage

Luke 10:25-37
There was a lawyer who, to disconcert Jesus, stood up and said to him, 'Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?'
He said to him, 'What is written in the Law? What do you read there?'
He replied, 'You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.'
'You have answered right,' said Jesus 'do this and life is yours.'
But the man was anxious to justify himself and said to Jesus, 'And who is my neighbour?'
Jesus replied, 'A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho and fell into the hands of brigands; they took all he had, beat him and then made off, leaving him half dead.
Now a priest happened to be travelling down the same road, but when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. In the same way a Levite who came to the place saw him, and passed by on the other side.
But a Samaritan traveller who came upon him was moved with compassion when he saw him. He went up and bandaged his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them.
He then lifted him on to his own mount, carried him to the inn and looked after him. Next day, he took out two denarii and handed them to the innkeeper.
"Look after him," he said "and on my way back I will make good any extra expense you have."
Which of these three, do you think, proved himself a neighbour to the man who fell into the brigands' hands?'
'The one who took pity on him' he replied. Jesus said to him, 'Go, and do the same yourself.'


Reflection

The Gospel abound in instances where Jesus emphasises the importance of action over words and the importance of compassion rather than rules.
It is so easy to become complacent, to figure that we are saved and nothing else matters.
Yet what are our fruits? If we cannot be compassionate to those around us, are we truly living in the Lord?
Let us renew ourselves in the Spirit and go forth to spread the Lord's love and compassion to those around us

30 Mar 2016

Prayer
Lord, may we recognize You wherever we encounter You

Bible Passage

Luke 24:13-35
Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened.
Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, ‘What matters are
you discussing as you walk along?’ They stopped short, their faces downcast.
Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these
last few days.’ ‘What things?’ he asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth’ they answered ‘who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God
and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would
be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the
tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends
went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.’
Then he said to them, ‘You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into
his glory?’ Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself.
When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening’ they said ‘and the
day is almost over.’ So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to
them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he
talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?’
They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, ‘Yes, it is true.
The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.

Reflection

Our Lord is present throughout our world, yet we do not always recognize him. He is especially present in each one of us, yet we so often fail to recognize him, either in ourselves or in those around us. May our eyes be opened that we can see Him

13 Mar 2016

Prayer
Lord, Your Mercy surpasses our understanding; make us channels of that mercy and understanding to our brothers and sisters

Bible Passage

John 8:1-11
Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At daybreak he appeared in the Temple again; and as all the people came to him, he sat down and began to teach them.
The scribes and Pharisees brought a woman along who had been caught committing adultery; and making her stand there in full view of everybody, they said to Jesus,
'Master, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery, and Moses has ordered us in the Law to condemn women like this to death by stoning. What have you to say?'
They asked him this as a test, looking for something to use against him. But Jesus bent down and started writing on the ground with his finger. As they persisted with their question, he looked up and said,
'If there is one of you who has not sinned, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.' Then he bent down and wrote on the ground again.
When they heard this they went away one by one, beginning with the eldest, until Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained standing there. He looked up and said,
'Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?'
'No one, sir' she replied.
'Neither do I condemn you,' said Jesus 'go away, and do not sin any more.'

Reflection

We are not here to judge one another, nor to condemn ourselves. As human beings, we all make mistakes: some large, some small. Not knowing the minds of others, we cannot even tell how large or small their mistakes actually are. However, confident of the mercy of God, we can all turn to Him renew ourselves in His Love, go and sin no more.

14 May 2015

Prayer
Lord, open our hearts to Your Grace that we may love with the Love that flows from You

Bible Passage

John 15:9-17
Jesus said to his disciples:

'As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments
you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father's commandments
and remain in his love.
I have told you this
so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another, as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master's business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me:
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you
is to love one another.'

Reflection

God is Love and we who seek to follow God therefore seek to follow Love. To do so, we must open ourselves to grace so that God's love can flow through us. In doing so, we will keep His commandments, because they are commandments of love. By loving, we will find them easy, because they will naturally flow from our participation in love. We have been chosen to love - not to seek our own gain in any of the many ways that are open to us, but to love one another - to love our neighbours - to love those we meet. This is our destiny, and it will bear more fruit than we can see.

8 Apr 2015

Prayer
Give us the grace, Lord, to overcome our pride, let go of guilt, shame and resentment and open ourselves to the new life of Your Love

Bible Passage

Luke 24:13-35
Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened. Now as they talked this over, Jesus himself came up and walked by their side; but something prevented them from recognising him. He said to them, 'What matters are you discussing as you walk along?' They stopped short, their faces downcast. Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered him, 'You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days.' 'What things?' he asked. 'All about Jesus of Nazareth' they answered 'who proved he was a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people; and how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that he would be the one to set Israel free. And this is not all: two whole days have gone by since it all happened; and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body, they came back to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared he was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of him they saw nothing.' Then he said to them, 'You foolish men! So slow to believe the full message of the prophets! Was it not ordained that the Christ should suffer and so enter into his glory?' Then, starting with Moses and going through all the prophets, he explained to them the passages throughout the scriptures that were about himself. When they drew near to the village to which they were going, he made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. 'It is nearly evening' they said 'and the day is almost over.' So he went in to stay with them. Now while he was with them at table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then he broke it and handed it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognised him; but he had vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, 'Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road and explained the scriptures to us?' They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven assembled together with their companions, who said to them, 'Yes, it is true. The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.' Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognised him at the breaking of bread.

Reflection

Easter is not about something that happened 2000 years ago, it is about our present and our future. Jesus came to show us the way, and as his followers, we need to follow. That does not mean that we need to literally wash anybody's feet - we all understand the washing of feet as metaphorical, as being about
serving others rather than putting ourselves first, but we are far to inclined to get stuck in literal understandings of the cross and resurrection. Just as we are not called to literally wash feet, we are not called to literally find a temple to throw buyers and sellers out of so that someone will nail us to a cross. Nor are
we required to do nothing, on the assumption that everything needful was done 2000 years ago (i.e. Jesus died on the cross to save us, so we are now saved and can live it up, secure in the knowledge that "he paid for our sins"). Somehow, while we find the washing of feet easy to understand, it seems like
more often than not we don't quite get the meaning of the cross and resurrection.
Christians have been talking about sin for centuries, but we generally focus on the actions involved, the rules, what we should and shouldn't do, rather than anything deeper. That is a surface understanding of sin, an oversimplification. Rules and regulations neatly box things up for us and save us having to think,
analyse or understand anything. Perhaps it is this that blinds us; perhaps our desire for neatness prevents us knowing how to follow Jesus through the cross and resurrection.
Guilt, shame, resentment - we've all felt these things, although we may not have stopped to think about what their effects are. Yet, each of these emotions blocks the flow of the most important thing in our lives - love. The Easter story is about moving past guilt, shame and resentment to reclaim love. Paul talks
about dying with Christ and rising with Him as a new creation; taking off the old and putting on the new - but what does that mean? Paul also uses the metaphor of the body of Christ with each of as its members. So, if the body of Christ dies and rises again to new life, what does that mean?
In approaching our own death, or the death of someone we love, what do we do? We grieve. Grieving is the process of letting go of control and accepting a reality that we don't want. We move from disbelief through waves of mixed emotions, predominantly sadness and anger, with lots of "what ifs" running
through our minds, with the size of the waves gradually getting smaller over time, until we reach a place of acceptance, more or less, in which we have let go of our own will and accepted the reality we face. The emotions we experience may include many others than sadness and anger, including guilt, shame
and resentment.
This grief involves a cleansing, because guilt, shame and resentment block up our systems and prevent the flow of love through the veins of the Body of Christ and also through each of us as members of the Body of Christ. Think of a time when you felt guilty, ashamed or resentful - how truly loving were you able to
be in that moment? Trying to make it up to someone or placate them out of a sense of guilt is not truly loving, because the focus is not on them, but on you. Shame blocks us from the sharing of our beings that is involved in love. Resentment buries our love behind an angry barrier.
Our God is Love and Love forgives, so what is it about sin that necessitates the way of the cross? If the sin is forgiven by God as soon as it happens, then the problem lies in us. Sin lingers on in us in the form of guilt, in the form of shame, in the form of resentment. The way of the cross is about letting go of guilt,
letting go of shame and letting go of resentment. It is about accepting forgiveness and re-embracing Love.
What is it that so often prevents us from letting go of guilt, shame and resentment? At base, it is probably a form of pride. Not that we are proud of our sins, but that we are proud of our autonomy - our independence. Like Adam and Eve in the story of the garden of Eden, we seek the ability to be our own gods. We
see ourselves as too important to be forgiven. Our wrongdoings are greater than those of others, so we must punish ourselves and others for them through our guilt. The "and others" in the last sentence is important, because guilt is often a form of passive aggression. In a sense, the line between guilt and
resentment is a blurred one. I did something wrong to you, but somehow it is your fault because you provoked me to do it and I resent having to cop the blame so I punish you with my guilt. Or I am so ashamed that I hide myself away and can't face you, punishing you by refusing to connect with you. Shame
expresses itself as rejection.
So we need to humble our pride, and crucifixion is symbolic of that humbling, because crucifixion was about as low as person in the Roman Empire could get. It is not that our sins nailed Christ to the cross but that we need to nail our own pride, guilt, shame and resentment to the cross in order to rise in the New Life
of Christ, which is Love. The cross, if you will, is the "statin" that our spiritual veins need in order to clear them of the muck clogging them, so that love can again flow through them. Collectively, we need the cross to enable love to again flow through our community.
Once we let go of the pride that holds us to our guilt, our shame, our resentment, we become able to see again with compassion those around us whom we have hurt and who have hurt us. Opening our eyes and hearts to the spirit of compassion is the way to love and to truth and to God.

24 Mar 2015

Prayer
Lord, fill us with Your Grace, that we may allow You to work through us

Bible Passage

John 8:21-30
Again Jesus said to the Pharisees: ‘I am going away; you will look for me and you will die in your sin. Where I am going, you cannot come.’ The Jews said to one another, ‘Will he kill himself? Is that what he means by saying, “Where I am going, you cannot come”?’ Jesus went on: ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I have told you already: You will die in your sins. Yes, if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.’ So they said to him, ‘Who are you?’ Jesus answered: ‘What I have told you from the outset. About you I have much to say and much to condemn; but the one who sent me is truthful, and what I have learnt from him I declare to the world.’ They failed to understand that he was talking to them about the Father. So Jesus said: ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He and that I do nothing of myself: what the Father has taught me is what I preach; he who sent me is with me, and has not left me to myself, for I always do what pleases him.’ As he was saying this, many came to believe in him.

Reflection

Jesus talks here about his ability to let go of self and allow the Father to work through him. As followers of Jesus, we need to do the same.

16 Mar 2015

Prayer
Lord, strengthen our faith

Bible Passage

John 4:43-54
Jesus left Samaria for Galilee. He himself had declared that there is no respect for a prophet in his own country, but on his arrival the Galileans received him well, having seen all that he had done at Jerusalem during the festival which they too had attended.
He went again to Cana in Galilee, where he had changed the water into wine. Now there was a court official there whose son was ill at Capernaum and, hearing that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judaea, he went and asked him to come and cure his son as he was at the point of death. Jesus said, 'So you will not believe
unless you see signs and portents!' 'Sir,' answered the official 'come down before my child dies.' 'Go home,' said Jesus 'your son will live.' The man believed what Jesus had said and started on his way; and while he was still on the journey back his servants met him with the news that his boy was alive. He asked them when
the boy had begun to recover. 'The fever left him yesterday' they said 'at the seventh hour.' The father realised that this was exactly the time when Jesus had said, 'Your son will live'; and he and all his household believed.
This was the second sign given by Jesus, on his return from Judaea to Galilee.

Reflection

Faith is easy when things are going well, yet at the same time, it can often slip into irrelevance. When things are not going so well, for example, when our child is mortally ill, we become aware again of our dependence on God. That dependence is real, yet it can feel like we are depending in a vacuum. We need the faith to believe that, even without signs and portents, our God is there for us.

13 Mar 2015

Prayer
Lord, help us to see with the eyes of Love

Bible Passage

Mark 12:28-34
One of the scribes came up to Jesus and put a question to him, 'Which is the first of all the commandments?' Jesus replied, 'This is the first: Listen, Israel, the Lord our God is the one Lord, and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: You
must love your neighbour as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.' The scribe said to him, 'Well spoken, Master; what you have said is true: that he is one and there is no other. To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and strength, and to love your neighbour as yourself, this is far more
important than any holocaust or sacrifice.' Jesus, seeing how wisely he had spoken, said, 'You are not far from the kingdom of God.' And after that no one dared to question him any more.

Reflection

The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of Love. Unlike many of the scribes and Pharisees, the scribe in this story understands has his priorities off and does not bury love in rules. Opening our hearts to allow the love of God to flow through them is our primary goal as Christians.

11 Mar 2015

Prayer
Help us to more fully follow your way of Love with each new day

Bible Passage

Matthew 5:17-19
Jesus said to his disciples, 'Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved. Therefore, the man who infringes even
one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be considered the least in the kingdom of heaven; but the man who keeps them and teaches them will be considered great in the kingdom of heaven.'

Reflection

The statement that nothing will disappear from the Law until its purpose is achieved begs the question of what the purpose of the law is. This is a very important question, and one that is easily misunderstood. The purpose of the law is to show us the way, to guide us to fulfillment in the destiny that God has prepared us. That is, the purpose of the law is the Kingdom of Heaven, just as the purpose of the teachings of Jesus is the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus completes the law by making it clearer that the purpose of the law is to help us to love better, that we may be more fully part of God's Kingdom of Love.

9 Mar 2015

Prayer
Lord, fill us with Your Love and Compassion

Bible Passage

Luke 4:24-30
Jesus said, "Most certainly I tell you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But truly I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land. Elijah was sent to none of them, except to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to
a woman who was a widow. There were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed, except Naaman, the Syrian."
They were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things. They rose up, threw him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill that their city was built on, that they might throw him off the cliff. But he, passing through the midstof them, went his way.

Reflection

As Jesus passes through the midst of us, He is not touched by our anger, because it is absorbed by his infinite love and compassion. As we become the prophets Jesus calls us to be, we too must open ourselves to be filled with His infinite love and compassion, so that we are not touched by the anger that comes from not being accepted in our hometowns. Love understands that anger is a natural part of life, and that emotions change like the weather. Love sees past anger to the pain beneath it, and compassion seeks to soothe that pain with the Love of God.

5 Mar 2015

Prayer
God our father, fill us with Your Spirit that we may focus on the people you bring us in our lives, rather than on things

Bible Passage

Luke 16:19-31
Jesus said to the Pharisees, 'There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and fine linen and feast magnificently every day. And at his gate there lay a poor man called Lazarus, covered with sores, who longed to fill himself with the scraps that fell from the rich man's table. Dogs even came and licked his sores. Now the poor
man died and was carried away by the angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.
'In his torment in Hades he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off with Lazarus in his bosom. So he cried out, "Father Abraham, pity me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames." "My son," Abraham replied "remember that during your life good things came
your way, just as bad things came the way of Lazarus. Now he is being comforted here while you are in agony. But that is not all: between us and you a great gulf has been fixed, to stop anyone, if he wanted to, crossing from our side to yours, and to stop any crossing from your side to ours."
'The rich man replied, "Father, I beg you then to send Lazarus to my father's house, since I have five brothers, to give them warning so that they do not come to this place of torment too." "They have Moses and the prophets," said Abraham "let them listen to them.." "Ah no, father Abraham," said the rich man "but if someone
comes to them from the dead, they will repent." Then Abraham said to him, "If they will not listen either to Moses or to the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone should rise from the dead."'

Reflection

The world seems almost designed to suck us into it in ways that distort our priorities. While temptation is as old or older than the bible, our modern world has increasingly sophistocated ways of luring us into false priorities - advertising, electronic media etc. This reading is about getting our priorities right. The trich man's priorities were feasting and fine linen. Our priorities need to be people.

4 Mar 2015

Prayer
Open our hearts to Your Spirit, that we may serve You in those around us.

Bible Passage

Matthew 20:17-28
Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, and on the way he took the Twelve to one side and said to them, 'Now we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man is about to be handed over to the chief priests and scribes. They will condemn him to death and will hand him over to the pagans to be mocked and scourged and crucified; and on the third day he will rise again.' Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came with her sons to make a request of him, and bowed low; and he said to her, 'What is it you want?' She said to him, 'Promise that these two sons of mine may sit one at your right hand and the other at your left in your kingdom.' 'You do not know what you are asking' Jesus answered. 'Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?' They replied, 'We can.' 'Very well,' he said 'you shall drink my cup, but as for seats at my right hand and my left, these are not mine to grant; they belong to those to whom they have been allotted by my Father.' When the other ten heard this they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, 'You know that among the pagans the rulers lord it over them, and their great men make their authority felt. This is not to happen among you. No; anyone who wants to be great among you must be your servant, and anyone who wants to be first among you must be your slave, just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'

Reflection

Christianity flies in the face of human nature, for a very good reason. It is human nature to want to be the best, to want to be first, to want to be admired and looked up to - to be successful. Yet our calling as Christians is to step away from that and to focus on service. When we serve one another, we open ourselves to God to that His life-giving Spirit can flow through us. Thus, service is the way of life. When we focus on success, we block the Spirit and potentially open ourselves to evil. It becomes all too easy for the end to justify the means. Those around us become our competitors, whom we must bring down that we may succeed. When we focus on service, those around us become our beloved, whose good is our main desire. That is the way - simple, but profound!

1 Mar 2015

Prayer
Open our eyes, Lord, that we may see reality!

Bible Passage

Mark 9:2-10
Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus: 'Rabbi,' he said 'it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.' He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, 'This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.' Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus. As they came down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what 'rising from the dead' could mean.

Reflection

We are ordinary people, aren't we, living in an ordinary world? Yet, if we open our eyes and hearts to Our Lord Jesus Christ, we and that world are transfigured as we begin to see the light, for we are members of the Body of Christ!

26 Feb 2015

Prayer
Father, strengthen our trust in You

Bible Passage

Matthew 7:7-12
Jesus said to his disciples, 'Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. Is there a man among you who would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or would hand him a snake when he asked for a fish? If you, then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! 'So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.'

Reflection

The image of God as parent and we as children is a recurring theme in the Gospels because it helps us to understand many things. God wants what is good for us and we can trust in God's love for us: 'Who would hand his son a snake when he asked for a fish?' The unspoken other side to this is the question "Who would hand his son a snake when he asked for a snake?' Sometimes, as parents, we have to deny our children's requests because our children have not reached a level of wisdom where they can see that what they are asking for would be bad for them. So if our child asked for a snake, we might give them a lizard instead, or pursuade them to just watch the snake from a safe distance. We give them something when they ask, but it is not always exactly what they ask for. Similarly with us, we need to ask God for what we need, or what we think we need. If it is something we truly need, we will receive what we asked for. Sometimes, however, we will receive something different from what we asked for - if we take the asking literally - but it will be something that leads to grow in the way we need. In fact, in a sense, it will be what we thought we were asking for; something that fulfills the need we were hoping to fulfill, just not in the way we thought it should be fulfilled.

24 Feb 2015

Prayer
Father, help us to see one another with Your Eyes, so that we may forgive one another as You do

Bible Passage

Matthew 6:7-15
Jesus said to his disciples, 'In your prayers do not babble as the pagans do, for they think that by using many words they will make themselves heard. Do not be like them; your Father knows what you need before you ask him. So you should pray like this: 'Our Father in heaven, may your name be held holy, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven those who are in debt to us. And do not put us to the test, but save us from the evil one. 'Yes, if you forgive others their failings, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours; but if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive your failings either.'

Reflection

Forgiveness is a foundational aspect of love. When we truly see one another through the eyes of love, we forgive. This is easiest to see when we think about a parent and their small child. If a two-year-old does something naughty, what parent would say "That's terrible. I'm so hurt that I will never be able to forgive you" and hold it againt the child for the rest of their life? If a parent did that, we would be pretty certain they had little love for their child. Love leads us to understand human failings and the fact that we are all on a journey in which we make mistakes as part of the process of learning and growing. Since we are all God's children, God sees as with the sort of love that enables those of us who have them to forgive our two-year-olds when they are naughty or throw tantrums. If we can be open to God and allow God's love to flow through us, then we can forgive each other in the same way!

21 Feb 2015

Prayer
Open our eyes, Lord, that we may see Your Kingdom around us

Bible Passage

Mark 1:12-15
The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him. After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. 'The time has come' he said 'and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.'

Reflection

The Good News is that the Kingdom of God is close at hand, spread out around us, if we can only tune into it. The Kingdom of God is hidden in the heart of each person we meet. We are immersed in it, yet so often cut off from it by our own blindness and selfishness. Now is the time to repent, believe the Good News and open our eyes.

18 Feb 2015

Prayer
Help us, Lord, to make a new start and clean out our hearts to make room for You

Bible Passage

Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
Jesus said to his disciples: 'Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men's admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you. 'And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you. 'When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.'

Reflection

Again we see the distinction between Jesus and the scribes and Pharisees - the "hypocrites" in this passage. It is essentially a distinction between inner and outer. The Way of Jesus is a way of purifying our hearts so that they become better channels of the love which is God, so that love can flow through us into the world. The other way is the way of building up the self so that others can see how great we are - whether we show others we are "great" because we so diligently follow the rules, or show others how generous we are, or show others how much we pray. We need to let go of our concern about what other's think and work from inside to out. So let's take the time to clean out our hearts and make room for God to work.

17 Feb 2015

Prayer
Open our eyes, Lord, that we may perceive Your Love at work in our lives and trust in it

Bible Passage

Mark 8:14-21
The disciples had forgotten to take any food and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. Then he gave them this warning, 'Keep your eyes open; be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod.' And they said to one another, 'It is because we have no bread.' And Jesus knew it, and he said to them, 'Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you not yet understand? Have you no perception? Are your minds closed? Have you eyes that do not see, ears that do not hear? Or do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves among the five thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?' They answered, 'Twelve.' And when I broke the seven loaves for the four thousand, how many baskets full of scraps did you collect?' And they answered, 'Seven.' Then he said to them, 'Are you still without perception?'

Reflection

We are dependent on God and can trust God to give us what we need, even though we sometimes find that trust difficult. Jesus encourages us here to trust in the Love that can feed 5000 from 5 loaves and have 12 baskets leftover, rather than turning to the false consolation of rules and traditions, as embodied in the Pharisees, as well as in much of what we cling to, or to the seeking after power and personal gain embodied in Herod, as well as in much of our social and political process. We need to see through those things and trustingly embrace God's love.

15 Feb 2015

Prayer
Help us, Lord, to see with your eyes and love with your love. Strengthen our faith to know that, "if you want to, you can heal us"

Bible Passage

Mark 1:40-45
A leper came to Jesus and pleaded on his knees: 'If you want to' he said 'you can cure me.' Feeling sorry for him, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him. 'Of course I want to!' he said. 'Be cured!' And the leprosy left him at once and he was cured. Jesus immediately sent him away and sternly ordered him, 'Mind you say nothing to anyone, but go and show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your healing prescribed by Moses as evidence of your recovery.' The man went away, but then started talking about it freely and telling the story everywhere, so that Jesus could no longer go openly into any town, but had to stay outside in places where nobody lived. Even so, people from all around would come to him.

Reflection

Being touched by Jesus is a key to becoming healthy! Even though we may feel untouchable, disgusting or even despicable, we know that Jesus can heal us. As members of Jesus body, we too are called to touch and heal those who are outcasts in our society. May we remain open to His love flowing through us!

11 Feb 2015

Prayer
Help us, Lord, to let go and rest in You

Bible Passage

Mark 7:14-23
Jesus called the people to him and said, 'Listen to me, all of you, and understand. Nothing that goes into a man from outside can make him unclean; it is the things that come out of a man that make him unclean. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to this.'

When he had gone back into the house, away from the crowd, his disciples questioned him about the parable. He said to them, 'Do you not understand either? Can you not see that whatever goes into a man from outside cannot make him unclean, because it does not go into his heart but through his stomach and passes out into the sewer?' (Thus he pronounced all foods clean.) And he went on, 'It is what comes out of a man that makes him unclean. For it is from within, from men's hearts, that evil intentions emerge: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, malice, deceit, indecency, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within and make a man unclean.'

Reflection

This was a radical shift from the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees, who were focussed on externals. For them, it was our actions - whether we follow the rules - that was important. For Jesus, it is what is in our hearts that is important. To what extent are our hearts channels of Love? To what extent are our hearts filled with hatred, envy and pride? We need to let go of those 'unclean' emotions and embrace love. Letting go is what is required, because the things that block love involve a holding on. Resentment, for example, is anger that is held onto. Anger, in itself, is a natural, but short lived emotion. Jesus himself felt it - for example when he found people buying and selling in the temple. However, when we hold on to anger, it becomes resentment, and poisons our hearts. Resentment gets in the way of us making the necessary movement back from feeling angry with someone to seeing them as a child of God. Similarly, pride is about holding on to the gifts God has given us and claiming them for ourselves rather than using them for the community and to give glory to God. We all need to be ourselves, but we need to hold ourselves lightly, accepting and letting go of our emotions, so that we rest back into God and continue to live in God.

10 Feb 2015

Prayer
Lord, open our eyes, our ears and our hearts, that we may truly hear Your message

Bible Passage

Mark 7:1-13
The Pharisees and some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem gathered round Jesus, and they noticed that some of his disciples were eating with unclean hands, that is, without washing them. For the Pharisees, and the Jews in general, follow the tradition of the elders and never eat without washing their arms as far as the elbow; and on returning from the market place they never eat without first sprinkling themselves. There are also many other observances which have been handed down to them concerning the washing of cups and pots and bronze dishes. So these Pharisees and scribes asked him, 'Why do your disciples not respect the tradition of the elders but eat their food with unclean hands?' He answered, 'It was of you hypocrites that Isaiah so rightly prophesied in this passage of scripture: This people honours me only with lip-service, while their hearts are far from me. The worship they offer me is worthless, the doctrines they teach are only human regulations. You put aside the commandment of God to cling to human traditions.' And he said to them, 'How ingeniously you get round the commandment of God in order to preserve your own tradition! For Moses said: Do your duty to your father and your mother, and, Anyone who curses father or mother must be put to death. But you say, "If a man says to his father or mother: Anything I have that I might have used to help you is Corban (that is, dedicated to God), then he is forbidden from that moment to do anything for his father or mother." In this way you make God's word null and void for the sake of your tradition which you have handed down. And you do many other things like this.'

Reflection

It is very easy for us to gloss over bible passages about the scribes and Pharisees, mentally putting them into the same category as Hitler - bad people; nothing to do with us. Sometimes it is good to look again - what if we are the scribes and Pharisees? To what extent do we honour God only with lip-service, while our hearts are far from living his message of love? To what extent are we caught up in making much of things that are merely human regulations and traditions, while ignoring the main thrust, the main spirit of the message of Jesus?

9 Feb 2015

Prayer
Open us, Lord, to Your Love, that we may be healed!

Bible Passage

Mark 6:53-56
Having made the crossing, Jesus and his disciples came to land at Gennesaret and tied up. No sooner had they stepped out of the boat than people recognised him, and started hurrying all through the countryside
and brought the sick on stretchers to wherever they heard he was. And wherever he went, to village, or town, or farm, they laid down the sick in the open spaces, begging him to let them touch even the fringe of his cloak.
And all those who touched him were cured.

Reflection

When our lives are touched by love, it heals. As children, we instinctively understand this - the child who falls and scrapes their knee cries out to the mother. The mother's hugs and reassurance are healing. God is Love, and the concentration of love in Jesus attracted many to Him. Even touching the fringe of the cloak of Love cured many ills. May we be more ready to spread that love in our own lives.

3 Feb 2015

Prayer
Lord, strengthen our faith and help us to see beyond appearances

Bible Passage

Mark 5:21-43
When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side, a large crowd gathered round him and he stayed by the lakeside. Then one of the synagogue officials came up, Jairus by name, and seeing him, fell at his feet and pleaded with him earnestly, saying,
My little daughter is desperately sick. Do come and lay your hands on her to make her better and save her life.' Jesus went with him and a large crowd followed him; they were pressing all round him.

Now there was a woman who had suffered from a haemorrhage for twelve years; after long and painful treatment under various doctors, she spent all she had without being any the better for it, in fact, she was getting worse.
She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his cloak. 'If I can touch even his clothes,' she had told herself 'I shall be well again.' And the source of the bleeding dried up instantly,
and she felt in herself that she was cured of her complaint. Immediately aware that power had gone out from him, Jesus turned round in the crowd and said, 'Who touched my clothes?' His disciples said to him, 'You see how
the crowd is pressing round you and yet you say, "Who touched me?"' But he continued to look all round to see who had done it. Then the woman came forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had
happened to her, and she fell at his feet and told him the whole truth. 'My daughter,' he said 'your faith has restored you to health; go in peace and be free from your complaint.'

While he was still speaking some people arrived from the house of the synagogue official to say, 'Your daughter is dead: why put the Master to any further trouble?' But Jesus had overheard this remark of theirs and he
said to the official, 'Do not be afraid; only have faith.' And he allowed no one to go with him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. So they came to the official's house and Jesus noticed all the commotion,
with people weeping and wailing unrestrainedly. He went in and said to them, 'Why all this commotion and crying? The child is not dead, but asleep.' But they laughed at him. So he turned them all out and, taking with him
the child's father and mother and his own companions, he went into the place where the child lay. And taking the child by the hand he said to her, 'Talitha, kum!' which means, 'Little girl, I tell you to get up.' The little girl got
up at once and began to walk about, for she was twelve years old. At this they were overcome with astonishment, and he ordered them strictly not to let anyone know about it, and told them to give her something to eat.

Reflection

Faith is an attitude we often find difficult to sustain. When all seems lost, we naturally feel angry, sad, hurt, even resentful, yet God continues; love continues. The natural despair at the death of the 12-year-old contrasts with the faith and courage of the woman with the haemorrhage, reaching out to touch the source of healing in the concentration of love found in Jesus. May we do the same.

30 Jan 2015

Prayer
Lord, strengthen our faith and help us to do Your Will

Bible Passage

Mark 4:26-34
Jesus said to the crowds, 'This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man throws seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing;
how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, he loses no time: he starts to reap because the harvest has come.'
He also said, 'What can we say the kingdom of God is like? What parable can we find for it? It is like a mustard seed which at the time of its sowing in the soil is the smallest of all the seeds on earth;
yet once it is sown it grows into the biggest shrub of them all and puts out big branches so that the birds of the air can shelter in its shade.'

Using many parables like these, he spoke the word to them, so far as they were capable of understanding it.
He would not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything to his disciples when they were alone.

Reflection

The Kingdom of God grows unseen by its own power. Although we must cooperate and do our part, we do not own it and cannot control it. Our contribution may seem small, but we need faith to see that, like the mustard seed, its effects can multiply

29 Jan 2015

Prayer
Lord fill us with Your Love and open our hearts that we may be more fully a part of the spreading of Your Kingdom, which spreads through openness, sharing and caring.
Transcend our fears that we may be more truly open. May Your Light shine in our lives

Bible Passage

Mark 4:21-25
Jesus said to his disciples, 'Would you bring in a lamp to put it under a tub or under the bed? Surely you will put it on the lamp-stand?
For there is nothing hidden but it must be disclosed, nothing kept secret except to be brought to light. If anyone has ears to hear, let him listen to this.'

He also said to them, 'Take notice of what you are hearing. The amount you measure out is the amount you will be given - and more besides;
for the man who has will be given more; from the man who has not, even what he has will be taken away.'

Reflection

This is, in a sense, a different presentation of the "golden rule": do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In this case, it is more specific:
be open with others, as you would have them be open with you. Perhaps it also implies a corrolary: be open to others as you wouold have them be open to you.
It is about sharing our gifts and sharing love so it can multiply. It is about the Kingdom of Heaven, which grows through the sharing of the journey.
God brings Love, and love brings openness. Evil brings fear, and fear closes us up. It is for this reason that Jesus so often tells us not to be afraid.

13 Jan 2015

Prayer
Lord, fill our hearts with your love, that we may spread it throughout the world

Bible Passage

1 John 4:7-10
My dear people,
let us love one another
since love comes from God
and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Anyone who fails to love can never have known God,
because God is love.
God's love for us was revealed
when God sent into the world his only Son
so that we could have life through him;
this is the love I mean:
not our love for God,
but God's love for us when he sent his Son
to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.

Reflection

Many people are concerned, and rightly so, about the prescence of evil in the world. Some get very focussed on eradicating evil or declaring war on evil. Depending what they mean by it, this is likely a mistake. Hatred begets more hatred, so focussing on hating evil is likely to increase evil. Instead, we need to focus on Love, which is the light that drives out darkness.

6 Jan 2015

Prayer
Lord, help us to see with Your Eyes that Your Love may flow through us to the world

Bible Passage

1 John 4:7-10
My dear people, let us love one another since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Anyone who fails to love can never have known God, because God is love. God's love for us was revealed when God sent into the world his only Son so that we could have life through him; this is the love I mean: not our love for God, but God's love for us when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.

Reflection

God is love and love comes from God. How well do we manage to truly live this in our lives? Hopefully we love our friends and our families, but what about those who just rub as up the wrong way? What about those whose beliefs are different from our own, whether the difference be in religious beliefs, political
beliefs or other beliefs? Each of those people is created by God and loved by God. As members of the Body of Christ we are called upon to love each of them, which means seeing them with God's eyes - eyes that appreciate rather than deprecate.

30 Dec 2014

Prayer
Lord, open our eyes, our ears and our hearts, that we may live in You and that You may love through us

Bible Passage

1 John 2:12-17
I am writing to you, my own children,
whose sins have already been forgiven through his name;
I am writing to you, fathers,
who have come to know the one
who has existed since the beginning;
I am writing to you, young men,
who have already overcome the Evil One;
I have written to you, children,
because you already know the Father;
I have written to you, fathers,
because you have come to know the one
who has existed since the beginning;
I have written to you, young men,
because you are strong and God's word has made its home in you,
and you have overcome the Evil One.
You must not love this passing world
or anything that is in the world.
The love of the Father cannot be
in any man who loves the world,
because nothing the world has to offer
- the sensual body,
the lustful eye,
pride in possessions -
could ever come from the Father
but only from the world;
and the world, with all it craves for,
is coming to an end;
but anyone who does the will of God
remains for ever.

Reflection

There is more than one way of understanding this reading, particularly the part about the world coming to an end. The obvious way of understanding it is with reference to some future point where the world will end - the last times.
The less obvious way of understanding it is in a personal sense. For each of us, whether the end of the world comes in our lifetime or not, the world as we know it will come to an end at the point of our death, and "the sensual body, the lustful eye, pride in posessions" will be of no use to us.
Therefore, we should focus on the things that last; the things of importance. We should focus on being part of God's mission of Love.

29 Dec 2014

Prayer
Lord, may our eyes by illumined by the light of Your Love, so that we may see each other in truth

Bible Passage

1 John 2:3-11
We can be sure that we know God
only by keeping his commandments.
Anyone who says, 'I know him',
and does not keep his commandments,
is a liar,
refusing to admit the truth.
But when anyone does obey what he has said,
God's love comes to perfection in him.
We can be sure that we are in God
only when the one who claims to be living in him
is living the same kind of life as Christ lived.
My dear people,
this is not a new commandment that I am writing to tell you,
but an old commandment
that you were given from the beginning,
the original commandment which was the message brought to you.
Yet in another way, what I am writing to you,
and what is being carried out in your lives as it was in his,
is a new commandment;
because the night is over
and the real light is already shining.
Anyone who claims to be in the light
but hates his brother
is still in the dark.
But anyone who loves his brother is living in the light
and need not be afraid of stumbling;
unlike the man who hates his brother and is in the darkness,
not knowing where he is going,
because it is too dark to see.

Reflection

In this life, it is easy to become confused. Many things do not seem to make sense: The destruction in the world; poverty and riches; natural disasters; politics; even human relationships within our own families. Love is the light that allows us to see. We are all made up of multiple conflicting elements and it is all too easy to focus on the negative elements in a person. When we do this, we fail to see the person, because our focus is too narrow. We need to zoom out to see the whole of what God has created. Love enables us to do that. A parent whose baby is crying does not just see the crying, which is distressing, because their love for the child enables them to see much more than that, and the crying is only a small element in a larger context. To the extent that we can love each other, we can do the same.

28 Dec 2014

Prayer
Lord, we thank You for our lives and ask that you fill us with our spirit that we mayd do everything in You as members of your body, clothed in sincere compassion, kindness, humility gentleness and patience.

Bible Passage

Colossians 3:12-17
You are God's chosen race, his saints; he loves you, and you should be clothed in sincere compassion, in kindness and humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with one another; forgive each other as soon as a quarrel begins. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same. Over all these clothes, to keep them together
and complete them, put on love. And may the peace of Christ reign in your hearts, because it is for this that you were called together as parts of one body. Always be thankful.
Let the message of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you. Teach each other, and advise each other, in all wisdom. With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Reflection

We are born of Love. We are members of the body of Christ, who is God, who is Love. Love is our birthright, our aspiration and our path.

28 Nov 2014

Prayer
Open our senses, Lord, that we may be more fully aware of the signs of your presence and know you are near.

Bible Passage

Luke 21:29-33
Jesus told his disciples a parable: 'Think of the fig tree and indeed every tree. As soon as you see them bud, you know that summer is now near. So with you when you see these things happening: know that the kingdom of God is near. I tell you solemnly, before this generation has passed away all will have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.'

Reflection

The Kingdom of God is near, yet so often we fail to see it. The Kingdom is present, yet we miss it. The Kingdom of God awaits us, if we but open our eyes and ears. Rather than rushing around, we need to be still and allow ourselves to become aware of the signs that are all around us.

24 Sep 2014

Prayer
Lord, fill us with Your Spirit and help us to let go to attachments of the things of this world, that we may go out and proclaim Your Good News to everyone

Bible Passage

Luke 9:1-6
Jesus called the Twelve together and gave them power and authority over all devils and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal.
He said to them, 'Take nothing for the journey: neither staff, nor haversack, nor bread, nor money; and let none of you take a spare tunic.
Whatever house you enter, stay there; and when you leave, let it be from there. As for those who do not welcome you, when you leave their town shake the dust from your feet as a sign to them.'
So they set out and went from village to village proclaiming the Good News and healing everywhere.

Reflection

We all want to spread the Good News and sometimes we do, yet things get in the way of it. Life gets in the way of it - we are too busy making a living, planning our holiday, saving for our retirement, buying things - and more things, and more things. This Gospel passage calls us to let go of the things of this world and go out with simplicity to spread the Good News to all, and bringing healing wherever we can.

21 Jun 2014

Prayer
Help us, Lord, to focus on what is important!

Bible Passage

Matthew 6:24-34
Jesus said to his disciples: 'No one can be the slave of two masters: he will either hate the first and love the second, or treat the first with respect and the second with scorn.
You cannot be the slave both of God and of money. 'That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it.
Surely life means more than food, and the body more than clothing! Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are we not worth much more than they are? Can any of you, for all his worrying, add one single cubit to his span of life? And why worry about clothing?
Think of the flowers growing in the fields; they never have to work or spin; yet I assure you that not even Solomon in all his regalia was robed like one of these.
Now if that is how God clothes the grass in the field which is there today and thrown into the furnace tomorrow, will he not much more look after you, you men of little faith?
So do not worry; do not say, "What are we to eat? What are we to drink? How are we to be clothed?" It is the pagans who set their hearts on all these things.
Your heavenly Father knows you need them all. Set your hearts on his kingdom first, and on his righteousness, and all these other things will be given you as well.
So do not worry about tomorrow: tomorrow will take care of itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.'

Reflection

In our consumer society, it is so easy to get caught up in the need for more, the need to make money, and the worries of it all. That is not what we are here for. We are here to spread God's Love!

18 Jun 2014

Prayer
Give us eyes, Lord, to see You in each other, so that we can reach out to You, not needing to blow our own trumpets, since you see what is in our hearts

Bible Passage

Matthew 6:1-6,16-18
Jesus said to his disciples:
'Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice; by doing this you will lose all reward from your Father in heaven. So when you give alms, do not have it trumpeted before you; this is what the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win men's admiration. I tell you solemnly, they have had
their reward. But when you give alms, your left hand must not know what your right is doing; your almsgiving must be secret, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
'And when you pray, do not imitate the hypocrites: they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners for people to see them; I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you pray, go to your private room and, when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in that secret
place, and your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.
'When you fast do not put on a gloomy look as the hypocrites do: they pull long faces to let men know they are fasting. I tell you solemnly, they have had their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that no one will know you are fasting except your Father who sees all that is done in secret; and
your Father who sees all that is done in secret will reward you.'

Reflection

If we are focussed on seeing Jesus in each person we meet, we will not need to parade our virtues before others, because we know that Jesus knows us, and we will be focussed on reaching out to Him

1 Jun 2014

Prayer
Fill us, Lord, with Your Spirit, that we may proclaim the Good News to all that we meet

Bible Passage

Matthew 28:16-20
The eleven disciples set out for Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had arranged to meet them. When they saw him they fell down before him, though some hesitated. Jesus came up and spoke to them. He said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go, therefore, make disciples of all the nations; baptise them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teach them to observe all the commands I gave you. And know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time."

Reflection

We are called to share the love that God has given us with each person that we meet. To do this, we must see them and love them.
To see them and love them, we must recognize God in them, seeking to draw out the prescence of God which is already there, so that they can recognize God, know Him and accept His Love,

11 Apr 2014

Prayer
Lord, help us to do our Father's work, that we may be united in Christ

Bible Passage

John 10:31-42
The Jews fetched stones to stone him, so Jesus said to them, 'I have done many good works for you to see, works from my Father; for which of these are you stoning me?' The Jews answered him, 'We are not stoning you for doing a good work but for blasphemy: you are only a man and you claim to be God.' Jesus answered:


'Is it not written in your Law:
I said, you are gods?
So the Law uses the word gods
of those to whom the word of God was addressed,
and scripture cannot be rejected.
Yet you say to someone the Father has consecrated and sent into the world,
"You are blaspheming,"
because he says, "I am the son of God."
If I am not doing my Father's work,
there is no need to believe me;
but if I am doing it,
then even if you refuse to believe in me,
at least believe in the work I do;
then you will know for sure
that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.'

They wanted to arrest him then, but he eluded them.
He went back again to the far side of the Jordan to stay in the district where John had once been baptising. Many people who came to him there said, 'John gave no signs, but all he said about this man was true'; and many of them believed in him.

Reflection

We are one in Him, but our unity require that we act as members of His body. That way, we may do the work our Father has set us here to do that we may be one in Him.

13 Mar 2014

Prayer
Loving God, we ask you today for the Grace that we need to live the lives you created us to live

Bible Passage

Matthew 7:7-12
Jesus said to his disciples, 'Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you.
For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him.
Is there a man among you who would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or would hand him a snake when he asked for a fish?
If you, then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
'So always treat others as you would like them to treat you; that is the meaning of the Law and the Prophets.'

Reflection

The approach of Easter is a time for strengthening our faith. And what is faith?
Although the scientific revolution has tended to lead us to understand faith as belief in particular propositions, the word faith has a more fundamental meaning: trust.
We need to trust God to give us things that are good. We need to trust God to have our best interests at heart.
We need to approach God with an attitude that expects a Loving Father and asks in confident trust.

15 Feb 2014

Prayer
Lord may we rest in You; may we open our hearts to You; may we let You carry us; Your will be done.

Bible Passage

Mark 8:1-10
A great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat. So Jesus called his disciples to him and said to them, ‘I feel sorry for all these people; they have been with me for three days now and have nothing to eat. If I send them off home hungry they will collapse on the way; some have come a great distance.’ His disciples replied, ‘Where could anyone get bread to feed these people in a deserted place like this?’ He asked them, ‘How many loaves have you?’ ‘Seven’ they said. Then he instructed the crowd to sit down on the ground, and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and handed them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them among the crowd. They had a few small fish as well, and over these he said a blessing and ordered them to be distributed also. They ate as much as they wanted, and they collected seven basketfuls of the scraps left over. Now there had been about four thousand people. He sent them away and immediately, getting into the boat with his disciples, went to the region of Dalmanutha.

Reflection

In our time, the word "Faith" has come to be understood as "belief": giving assent to propositions; believing certain things to be true. In biblical times, however, the meaning of the word we translate as "faith" was much closer to our word "trust". Faith in God means trust in God. So we begin to understand that, in feeding the multitude, Jesus is giving us a lesson in trust. We are to trust in God, and God will come through with what we need. Rather than worrying and getting uptight, we can relax and be open to the Spirit. Jesus tells us many times, "Be not afraid".

14 Jan 2014

Prayer
Lord, open us to Your Love and guide us be it, by Your Spirit. May we be people of Love, not of hair-splitting.

Bible Passage

Mark 1:21-28
Jesus came to Capernaum with his followers, and on the sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught.The people were astonished at his teaching,for he taught them as one having authority and not as the scribes.
In their synagogue was a man with an unclean spirit; he cried out, "What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are the Holy One of God!"
Jesus rebuked him and said, "Quiet! Come out of him!"The unclean spirit convulsed him and with a loud cry came out of him.
All were amazed and asked one another,"What is this? A new teaching with authority.He commands even the unclean spirits and they obey him."
His fame spread everywhere throughout the whole region of Galilee.

Reflection

Jesus taught with authority and not as the scribes, because Jesus was focussed on the meaning of God's Love for us, not on the letter of the law. It is all too easy for us to become like the scribes, repeating the words of others and focussing on the letter of the law. Such a view is narrow. It contracts; it cuts people down to size; it diminishes. God's Love, on the other hand, is expansive. It welcomes; it embraces; it draws out the goodness in each one of us. If flows from the heart.

21 Oct 2013

Prayer
Lord, give us the grace to see past surface things to the depths and to focus on what is important!

Bible Passage

Luke 12:13-21
A man in the crowd said to Jesus, 'Master, tell my brother to give me a share of our inheritance.' 'My friend,' he replied, 'who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?' Then he said to them, 'Watch, and be on your guard against avarice of any kind, for a man's life is not made secure by what he owns, even when
he has more than he needs.'
Then he told them a parable: 'There was once a rich man who, having had a good harvest from his land, thought to himself, "What am I to do? I have not enough room to store my crops." Then he said, "This is what I will do: I will pull down my barns and build bigger ones, and store all my grain and my goods in them, and I will
say to my soul: My soul, you have plenty of good things laid by for many years to come; take things easy, eat, drink, have a good time." But God said to him, "Fool! This very night the demand will be made for your soul; and this hoard of yours, whose will it be then?." So it is when a man stores up treasure for himself in place
of making himself rich in the sight of God.'

Reflection

"Who appointed me your judge, or the arbitrator of your claims?" How often do we appoint the Lord as our judge and the arbitrator of our claims? Rather than focussing on being rich, or on being right, we need to focus on being loving. The generosity of spirit that comes with love will abolish the need for a judge or an arbitrator of claims.

10 Oct 2013

Prayer
Lord, grant us the gift of friendship, the gift of faith and the gift of persistence.

Bible Passage

Luke 11:5-13
esus said to his disciples, 'Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, "My friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him"; and the man answers from inside the house, "Do not bother me. The door is bolted
now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you." I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship's sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.
'So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for
bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!'

Reflection

When things are going well, it is easy to lose sight of God. Many of us tend to turn to him when things go wrong, yet then it is easy to lose hope. We ask for what we want and don't seem to get it, so we give up. We need the trust and persistence to understand that God will gives us what we need, in His own way and His own time.

21 Aug 2013

Prayer
Lord, open our hearts, that we may see with your eyes and accept others with your generosity and rejoicing

Bible Passage

Matthew 20:1-16
Jesus said to his disciples, 'The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner going out at daybreak to hire workers for his vineyard. He made an agreement with the workers for one denarius a day, and sent them to his vineyard. Going out at about the third hour he saw others standing idle in the market place and said to them, "You go
to my vineyard too and I will give you a fair wage." So they went. At about the sixth hour and again at about the ninth hour, he went out and did the same. Then at about the eleventh hour he went out and found more men standing round, and he said to them, "Why have you been standing here idle all day?" "Because no
one has hired us" they answered. He said to them, "You go into my vineyard too." In the evening, the owner of the vineyard said to his bailiff, "Call the workers and pay them their wages, starting with the last arrivals and ending with the first." So those who were hired at about the eleventh hour came forward and received
one denarius each. When the first came, they expected to get more, but they too received one denarius each. They took it, but grumbled at the landowner. "The men who came last" they said "have done only one hour, and you have treated them the same as us, though we have done a heavy day's work in all the heat."
He answered one of them and said, "My friend, I am not being unjust to you; did we not agree on one denarius? Take your earnings and go. I choose to pay the last comer as much as I pay you. Have I no right to do what I like with my own? Why be envious because I am generous?" Thus the last will be first, and the first,
last.'

Reflection

There are no prizes in the Kingdom of Heaven, only gifts. All that we have is freely given to us by God. His love flows out to each one of us. Hopefully we can also allow it to flow through us with the same spirit of generosity with which He gives it.

3 Jun 2013

Prayer
Lord, give us the grace to accomplish the mission You have given us

Bible Passage

Mark 12:1-12
He began to speak to them in parables. "A man planted a vineyard, put a hedge around it, dug a pit for the wine press, built a tower, rented it out to a farmer, and went into another country. When it was time, he sent a servant to the farmer to get from the farmer his share of the fruit of the vineyard. They took him, beat him, and
sent him away empty. Again, he sent another servant to them; and they threw stones at him, wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully treated. Again he sent another; and they killed him; and many others, beating some, and killing some. Therefore still having one, his beloved son, he sent him last to them,
saying, 'They will respect my son.' But those farmers said among themselves, 'This is the heir. Come, let's kill him, and the inheritance will be ours.' They took him, killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard. What therefore will the lord of the vineyard do? He will come and destroy the farmers, and will give the vineyard to
others. Haven't you even read this Scripture:
'The stone which the builders rejected,
the same was made the head of the corner.
This was from the Lord,
it is marvelous in our eyes'"
They tried to seize him, but they feared the multitude; for they perceived that he spoke the parable against them. They left him, and went away.

Reflection

We have been entrusted with a mission. We are to bring good news to the poor. We are to reach out to the homeless and those who are mentally afflicted. We are to build up the Body of Christ in this world. Jesus tells us here, that if we fail to take this mission seriously, it will be taken from us and given to others.

2 Jun 2013

Prayer
Lord, draw us more deeply into Your Love, that we may be a part of sustaining those around us

Bible Passage

Luke 9:11-17
But the multitudes, perceiving it, followed him. He welcomed them, and spoke to them of God's Kingdom, and he cured those who needed healing. The day began to wear away; and the twelve came, and said to him, "Send the multitude away, that they may go into the surrounding villages and farms, and lodge, and get food, for
we are here in a deserted place."
But he said to them, "You give them something to eat."
They said, "We have no more than five loaves and two fish, unless we should go and buy food for all these people." For they were about five thousand men.
He said to his disciples, "Make them sit down in groups of about fifty each." They did so, and made them all sit down. He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to the sky, he blessed them, and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude. They ate, and were all filled.
They gathered up twelve baskets of broken pieces that were left over.

Reflection

The Love which is our God wants to fulfill our needs and sustain us. The Love which is our God wants to multipley. The Love which is our God has the miraculous ability to incorporate us into itself and enable us to be a part of sustaining those around us. Let us enter more deeply into that Love!

1 May 2013

Prayer
Lord, grant us the grace to remain in You, that we may bear much fruit

Bible Passage

John 15:1-8
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. Every branch in me that doesn't bear fruit, he takes away. Every branch that bears fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already pruned clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch can't bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you, unless you remain in me. I am the vine. You are the branches. He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man doesn't remain in me, he is thrown out as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you. "In this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; and so you will be my disciples.

Reflection

To bear fruit, we all need to remain in Jesus. By allowing Jesus to work through us, by becoming part of the spreading of His Kingdom, we can achieve far more than we would dream, whereas on our own, we can achieve little of true importance.
I Am the Vine

17 Apr 2013

Prayer
Nourish us Lord, that we may reach out to all who come to us

Bible Passage

John 6:35-40
Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will not be hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But I told you that you have seen me, and yet you don't believe. All those whom the Father gives me will come to me. He who comes to me I will in no way throw out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. This is the will of my Father who sent me, that of all he has given to me I should lose nothing, but should raise him up at the last day. This is the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."

Reflection

Jesus will not reject anyone who comes to Him. Therefore, as members of His Body, nor should we. Nourished by the Bread of Life, we are here to spread His Kingdom by opening our hearts to all those who come to us and feeding His lambs.

10 Apr 2013

Prayer
Lord, grant us the grace to follow our consciences while believing in the goodness You have created

Bible Passage

John 3:16-21
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God didn't send his Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through him. He who believes in him is not judged. He who doesn't believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the one and only Son of God. This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their works were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and doesn't come to the light, lest his works would be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his works may be revealed, that they have been done in God."

Reflection

Shame is a two-edged sword. The purpose of true shame is to lead us to the light by enabling us to recognise the things we need to change in our lives. Unfortunately, shame far to often leads us away from the light. It leads us to hiding and secrecy. We attempt to avoid the pain of growth. This is a strategy that actually doesn't work, because our attempts to avoid the pain of growth actually lead us to far greater pain. True shame is a message from our conscience that we need to act on. However, we need to distinguish true shame from false shame. False shame is a false belief that we are no good. We may have adopted it as a defense against criticism or as a kind of inverted snobbery. God does not make junk, so it is not true to say that we are no good. However, it is true that we do wrong, and that we should feel remorse and correct our actions. We are good people, made in God's image, who sometimes do bad things. Therefore, we need to believe in the goodness God has created in us, but listen to our conscience and correct our bad actions.

9 Apr 2013

Prayer
Fill us. Lord, with the grace to fully love and care for those around us

Bible Passage

Acts 4:32-37
The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and soul. Not one of them claimed that anything of the things which he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. With great power, the apostles gave their testimony of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Great grace was on them all. For neither was there among them any who lacked, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet, and distribution was made to each, according as anyone had need. Joses, who by the apostles was also called Barnabas (which is, being interpreted, Son of Encouragement), a Levite, a man of Cyprus by race, having a field, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.

Reflection

As Christians, we need to be known for our love, not our selfishness. The Spirit of the Lord is a Spirit of generosity and compassion. Yet we live a society in which constant striving to accumulate possessions is the norm. The deeper we enter into faith, the more our vision is shifted from societal norms to the Kingdom of God, which is a Kingdom of Love and Sharing. May we all make this shift more fully!

2 Apr 2013

Prayer
Lord, help us to recognise You wherever we encounter You

Bible Passage

John 20:11-18
But Mary was standing outside at the tomb weeping. So, as she wept, she stooped and looked into the tomb, and she saw two angels in white sitting, one at the head, and one at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain. They told her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "Because they have taken away my Lord, and I don't know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, and didn't know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?" She, supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned and said to him, "Rabboni!"* which is to say, "Teacher!" Jesus said to her, "Don't hold me, for I haven't yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brothers, and tell them, 'I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene came and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord, and that he had said these things to her. When therefore it was evening, on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were locked where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the middle, and said to them, "Peace be to you."

Reflection

It has been said that Jesus comes to us disguised as our lives. How often we fail to recognise him! So often, we see what we expect to see, just a Mary Magdelane saw the gardener rather than Jesus, because she expected to see a gardener and did not expect to see Jesus, whom she thought dead. Yet Jesus was and is alive! May our hearts be open so that, with God's Grace, we can see Jesus in the gardener, the shop assistant, the garbage collector. May we allow the Risen Christ into our lives through whatever portals He chooses, so that we may grow rich in Him!

25 Mar 2013

Prayer
Lord, may we trust in Your love and hold to Your purpose, that we may bring light to all in darkness

Bible Passage

Isaiah 42:1-8
"Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit on him. He will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout, nor raise his voice, nor cause it to be heard in the street. He won't break a bruised reed. He won't quench a dimly burning wick. He will faithfully bring justice. He will not fail nor be discouraged, until he has set justice in the earth, and the islands will wait for his law." Thus says God Yahweh, he who created the heavens and stretched them out, he who spread out the earth and that which comes out of it, he who gives breath to its people and spirit to those who walk in it. "I, Yahweh, have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand, and will keep you, and make you a covenant for the people, as a light for the nations; to open the blind eyes, to bring the prisoners out of the dungeon, and those who sit in darkness out of the prison.

Reflection

God, who is the breath that sustains us, hold our hands as we set off on our mission as the Body of Christ, so that we may be the light that brings those who sit in darkness out of their prison. We will do that without shouting or raising our voices in the street, and we will not fail or be discouraged, because we will be animated by the Spirit of God who is Love, and it is His love that bring light to those in darkness.

18 Mar 2013

Prayer
Lord, embrace us in Your Love that we may be open to the flow of Your Spirit within us

Bible Passage

John 8:12-20
Again, therefore, Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world.? He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life." The Pharisees therefore said to him, "You testify about yourself. Your testimony is not valid." Jesus answered them, "Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from, and where I am going; but you don't know where I came from, or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh. I judge no one. Even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for I am not alone, but I am with the Father who sent me. It's also written in your law that the testimony of two people is valid.? I am one who testifies about myself, and the Father who sent me testifies about me." They said therefore to him, "Where is your Father?" Jesus answered, "You know neither me, nor my Father. If you knew me, you would know my Father also." Jesus spoke these words in the treasury, as he taught in the temple. Yet no one arrested him, because his hour had not yet come.

Reflection

It is so easy to become confused, muddled, befuddled, lost and to walk in darkness. We need the light of God's Love to see clearly. When we are in darkness, we know neither Jesus nor His Father, for we are blinded by the snares of selfishness, greed, fear or despair, and these block the flow of God's Spirit of Love within us.

15 Mar 2013

Prayer
Lord, dissolve our self-centredness in the fire of Your Spirit

Bible Passage

Wisdom 2: 12-22
The wicked said let us lie in wait for the righteous man, Because he is of disservice to us, And is contrary to our works, And upbraids us with sins against the law, And lays to our charge sins against our discipline. He professes to have knowledge of God, And names himself * servant of the Lord. He became to us a reproof of our thoughts. He is grievous to us even to behold, Because his life is unlike other men's, And his paths are of strange fashion. We were accounted of him as base metal, And he abstains from our ways as from uncleannesses. The latter end of the righteous he calls happy; And he vaunts that God is his father. Let us see if his words be true, And let us try what shall befall in the ending of his life. For if the righteous man is God's son, he will uphold him, And he will deliver him out of the hand of his adversaries. With outrage and torture let us put him to the test, That we may learn his gentleness, And may prove his patience under wrong. Let us condemn him to a shameful death; For he shall be visited according to his words. Thus reasoned they, and they were led astray; For their wickedness blinded them, And they knew not the mysteries of God, Neither hoped they for wages of holiness, Nor did they judge that there is a prize for blameless souls.

Reflection

When we become caught up in our own selfishness and self-centredness it can be like an addiction. We become blind to God, His ways and His grace. We don't want to know about anything that curtails our own pleasure and the fulfilling of our desires. All to easily God's Word becomes a restraint that we don't want to know about. We become tense and closed off. We need to relax and open ourselves to the fire of the spirit so that God's love will flow through our hearts and heal us.

9 Mar 2013

Prayer
Lord, give us the grace to overcome our selfishness and let You in

Bible Passage

Luke 18:9-14
He spoke also this parable to certain people who were convinced of their own righteousness, and who despised all others. "Two men went up into the temple to pray; one was a Pharisee, and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed to himself like this: 'God, I thank you, that I am not like the rest of men, extortionists, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. I give tithes of all that I get.' But the tax collector, standing far away, wouldn't even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me, a sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted."

Reflection

It is all too easy for us to become complacent and self-satisfied. Sometimes it takes trouble to really shake us up and help us to realise our own selfishness, sinfulness and smallness in the face of God. While that can be painful, it is a very necessary part of growth, partly because it opens the closed doors in our hearts to let God in.

5 Mar 2013

Prayer
Lord, fill our hearts with Your compassion that we may forgive freely. Cleanse our hearts of bitterness and resentment

Bible Passage

Mattew 18:21-35
Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? Until seven times?" Jesus said to him, "I don't tell you until seven times, but, until seventy times seven. Therefore the Kingdom of Heaven is like a certain king, who wanted to reconcile accounts with his servants. When he had begun to reconcile, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But because he couldn't pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, with his wife, his children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. The servant therefore fell down and knelt before him, saying, 'Lord, have patience with me, and I will repay you all!' The lord of that servant, being moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt. "But that servant went out, and found one of his fellow servants, who owed him one hundred denarii, and he grabbed him, and took him by the throat, saying, 'Pay me what you owe!' "So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will repay you!' He would not, but went and cast him into prison, until he should pay back that which was due. So when his fellow servants saw what was done, they were exceedingly sorry, and came and told to their lord all that was done. Then his lord called him in, and said to him, 'You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt, because you begged me. Shouldn't you also have had mercy on your fellow servant, even as I had mercy on you?' His lord was angry, and delivered him to the tormentors, until he should pay all that was due to him. So my heavenly Father will also do to you, if you don't each forgive your brother from your hearts for his misdeeds."

Reflection

The lord the servant was moved with compassion.Similarly, in order to fulfil the direction we are given in this passage, we need to be moved with compassion, for compassion is the root of forgiveness. This reading is not advising us to become doormats. Forgiving does not mean losing all self-respect. Nor does it mean always giving in. Forgiving means having compassion, both for the other and for yourself. Forgiving is about zooming out, seeing the bigger picture, acknowledging that we are all sinners, and letting go of resentment and bitterness.

4 Mar 2013

Prayer
Lord, fill us with Your Love and Compassion

Bible Passage

Luke 4:24-30
Jesus said, "Most certainly I tell you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. But truly I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land. Elijah was sent to none of them, except to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. There were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed, except Naaman, the Syrian." They were all filled with wrath in the synagogue, as they heard these things. They rose up, threw him out of the city, and led him to the brow of the hill that their city was built on, that they might throw him off the cliff. But he, passing through the midstof them, went his way.

Reflection

As Jesus passes through the midst of us, He is not touched by our anger, because it is absorbed by his infinite love and compassion. As we become the prophets Jesus calls us to be, we too must open ourselves to be filled with His infinite love and compassion, so that we are not touched by the anger that comes from not being accepted in our hometowns. Love understands that anger is a natural part of life, and that emotions change like the weather. Love sees past anger to the pain beneath it, and compassion seeks to soothe that pain with the Love of God.

2 Mar 2013

Prayer
Lord, give us the grace to embrace our mission

Bible Passage

Luke 15:11-32
He said, "A certain man had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of your property.' He divided his livelihood between them. Not many days after, the younger son gathered all of this together and traveled into a far country. There he wasted his property with riotous living. When he had spent all of it, there arose a severe famine in that country, and he began to be in need. He went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed pigs. He wanted to fill his belly with the husks that the pigs ate, but no one gave him any. But when he came to himself he said, 'How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough to spare, and I'm dying with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will tell him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. I am no more worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants."' "He arose, and came to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.' "But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe, and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. Bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat, and celebrate; for this, my son, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.' They began to celebrate. "Now his elder son was in the field. As he came near to the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the servants to him, and asked what was going on. He said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and healthy.' But he was angry, and would not go in. Therefore his father came out, and begged him. But he answered his father, 'Behold, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed a commandment of yours, but you never gave me a goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this, your son, came, who has devoured your living with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.' "He said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But it was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for this, your brother, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.'"

Reflection

The contrast between trying to assure our own place and living our mission is stark here. Some Christians seem to believe that Christianity is about giving assent to a set of beliefs amd following a set of rules to assure your place in heaven. As Christians we have a mission, which is not to assure our own place in heaven but to assure the place of every person we meet by bringing God's love to them. If we are embedded in our mission, then like the father in the parable, we will rejoice with every person who was lost but is now found. If we are focussed on assuring our own place, we may be more like the son in the parable.

28 Feb 2013

Prayer
Lord, help us to see You in every person we meet

Bible Passage

Luke 16:19-31
Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, living in luxury every day. A certain beggar, named Lazarus, was laid at his gate, full of sores, and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. Yes, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The beggar died, and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died, and was buried. In Hades, he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far off, and Lazarus at his bosom. He cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue! For I am in anguish in this flame.' "But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that you, in your lifetime, received your good things, and Lazarus, in the same way, bad things. But now here he is comforted and you are in anguish. Besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that those who want to pass from here to you are not able, and that no one may cross over from there to us.' "He said, 'I ask you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house; for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, so they won't also come into this place of torment.' "But Abraham said to him, 'They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.' "He said, 'No, father Abraham, but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' "He said to him, 'If they don't listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if one rises from the dead.'"

Reflection

This reading underlines how necessary it is for us to focus on what is important in life - our mission. Our mission as Christians is a mission of love, because God is love. God is not interested in our social standing. God is interested in the extent to which we are able to be part of the spreading of His Kingdom of Love.

27 Feb 2013

Prayer
Lord, give us the grace to be loving servants

Bible Passage

Mattew 20:17-28
As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside, and on the way he said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and scribes, and they will condemn him to death, and will hand him over to the Gentiles to mock, to scourge, and to crucify; and the third day he will be raised up." Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, kneeling and asking a certain thing of him. He said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Command that these, my two sons, may sit, one on your right hand, and one on your left hand, in your Kingdom." But Jesus answered, "You don't know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?" They said to him, "We are able." He said to them, "You will indeed drink my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with, but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it is for whom it has been prepared by my Father." When the ten heard it, they were indignant with the two brothers. But Jesus summoned them, and said, "You know that the rulers of the nations lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you, but whoever desires to become great among you shall be** your servant. Whoever desires to be first among you shall be your bondservant, even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."

Reflection

How many of us have been guilty at one time or another of spiritual social climbing? Dropping names about well-known church people we know; seeking to become friends with people who seem to be considered holy... and yet, when we do such things we are probably moving away from the Kingdom of God rather than towards it. Jesus tells us that what we need to be is servants. So let us serve, not with the heart of the Pharisees, who would have made sure everybody knew they were serving, but with the Heart of God; that is, out of deep, heartfelt love and compassion.

26 Feb 2013

Prayer
Lord, fill us, that we may love with Your Heart and therefore do the right thing for the right reason.

Bible Passage

Mattew 23:1-12
Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples, saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat. All things therefore whatever they tell you to observe, observe and do, but don't do their works; for they say, and don't do. For they bind heavy burdens that are grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not lift a finger to help them. But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad, enlarge the fringes of their garments, and love the place of honor at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, the salutations in the marketplaces, and to be called 'Rabbi, Rabbi' by men. But don't you be called 'Rabbi,' for one is your teacher, the Christ, and all of you are brothers. Call no man on the earth your father, for one is your Father, he who is in heaven. Neither be called masters, for one is your master, the Christ. But he who is greatest among you will be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

Reflection

Sometimes we do the right thing for the wrong reason. Our natural concern for others can all too easily turn into concern about what others will think. We need to let go of self-consciousness and immerse ourselves in God. In Him we can see with the eyes of Love so that we can do the right thing for the right reason.

21 Feb 2013

Prayer
Lord, grow our faith that we may ask in confidence for what we need

Bible Passage

Matthew 7:7-12
"Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened. Or who is there among you, who, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, who will give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets.

Reflection

Once we are truly settled in God's Kingdom, we know what to ask for, because the Spirit helps us to understand what is truly good. Therefore, we can ask with confidence and faith, because God loves us and wants what is good. Therfore, also, as members of Christ's Body, we will naturally want to be part of giving those good things to others.

18 Feb 2013

Prayer
Lord open our hearts that Your Love may flow through them, and open our eyes that we may see with compassion

Bible Passage

Matthew 25:31-46
"But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will tell those on his right hand, 'Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry, and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty, and you gave me drink. I was a stranger, and you took me in. I was naked, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you visited me. I was in prison, and you came to me.' "Then the righteous will answer him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you; or thirsty, and give you a drink? When did we see you as a stranger, and take you in; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?' "The King will answer them, 'Most certainly I tell you, because you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.' Then he will say also to those on the left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you didn't give me food to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and you didn't take me in; naked, and you didn't clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you didn't visit me.' "Then they will also answer, saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and didn't help you?' "Then he will answer them, saying, 'Most certainly I tell you, because you didn't do it to one of the least of these, you didn't do it to me.' These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

Reflection

Again we have underlined for us in a graphic way the importance of seeing each person with God's eyes, because we are God's hands with which to care for that person; we are God's lips, through which to speak to that person; we are God's arms, to hug that person; we are God's ears, to listen to that person.

16 Feb 2013

Prayer
Lord, help us to look beneath the surface and see everyone with Your Eyes

Bible Passage

Luke 5:27-32
After these things he went out, and saw a tax collector named Levi sitting at the tax office, and said to him, "Follow me!" He left everything, and rose up and followed him. Levi made a great feast for him in his house. There was a great crowd of tax collectors and others who were reclining with them. Their scribes and the Pharisees murmured against his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with the tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus answered them, "Those who are healthy have no need for a physician, but those who are sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."

Reflection

It is so easy to be judgmental. We catch ourselves doing it occasionally, yet there are other times when we do it without even being aware. We, as followers of Jesus, need to be ready to eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners. That doesn't mean we need to head down to the tax department, even if we believe there are some sinners there! For tax collectors, read drug addicts, alcoholics, prostitutes, people who are mentally ill... whoever is an outcast within our society. For sinners, read everyone! But also, particularly read the non-church goers and those who are too caught up in consumerism to allow the Spirit to really work in their lives (well, yes... hmm, like we said.... maybe everyone?). As members of Christ's body, we have come to call, not the do-gooders, not the righteous, not the church-goers, but every person, however rejected, however self-centred, however misguided... for we are all loved by God.

15 Feb 2013

Prayer
Lord, when it is time for fasting, help us to fast for the right reasons so that when it is time for rejoicing, we may rejoice for the right reasons

Bible Passage

Matthew 9:14-15
Then John's disciples came to him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples don't fast?" Jesus said to them, "Can the friends of the bridegroom mourn, as long as the bridegroom is with them? But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. No one puts a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch would tear away from the garment, and a worse hole is made. Neither do people put new wine into old wine skins, or else the skins would burst, and the wine be spilled, and the skins ruined. No, they put new wine into fresh wine skins, and both are preserved."

Reflection

Rejoicing and fasting are two sides of the same coin. We rejoice because we are thankful for the gift of life and want to thank our Creator. We fast because we are thankful for the gift of life and want to move our hearts from self-centredness to being in tune with our creator. There are many reasons for joy, not all of them valid. There are many reasons for fasting, not all of them valid. The Pharisees fasted for non-valid reasons - to impress those around them. At other times in history, people have fasted for non-valid reasons - to punish themselves for their unworthiness. Fasting is not about punishment. It is about growth. It is about getting our priorities right. It is about refocussing on what is important in life. It is about getting back in tune with our God. Therefore, fasting leads to joy, just as winter leads to spring, and life moves in cycles. Let us, then fast at the right time so we can be joyful at the right time.

9 Feb 2013

Prayer
Fill us, Lord, with Your Compassion

Bible Passage

Mk 6:30-34
The apostles gathered themselves together to Jesus, and they told him all things, whatever they had done, and whatever they had taught. He said to them, "You come apart into a deserted place, and rest awhile." For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. They went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves. They* saw them going, and many recognized him and ran there on foot from all the cities. They arrived before them and came together to him. Jesus came out, saw a great multitude, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd, and he began to teach them many things.

Reflection

Compassion is at the heart of the Way of Jesus. Like sheep without a shepherd, we all need that compassion, and as members of the Body of Christ, we are all called to that Compassion. Let us open our hearts

7 Feb 2013

Prayer
Lord, give us the simplicity to go where You send us and trust in You

Bible Passage

Mk 6:7-13
He called to himself the twelve, and began to send them out two by two; and he gave them authority over the unclean spirits. He commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a staff only: no bread, no wallet, no money in their purse, but to wear sandals, and not put on two tunics. He said to them, "Wherever you enter into a house, stay there until you depart from there. Whoever will not receive you nor hear you, as you depart from there, shake off the dust that is under your feet for a testimony against them. Assuredly, I tell you, it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!" They went out and preached that people should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed many with oil who were sick, and healed them.

Reflection

How easy it is for us to get caught up in unimportant things! So long us we trust in the Lord and allow the Spirit to guide us, we can focus on the Kingdom and trust in God to do the work, so long as we do our part. Our part, of course, involves letting go of the many things that seek to distract us from God's purpose. May we go where we are sent!

You Send Me Out

5 Feb 2013

Prayer
Lord, strengthen our faith

Bible Passage

Mark 5:21-43
When Jesus had crossed back over in the boat to the other side, a great multitude was gathered to him; and he was by the sea. Behold, one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name, came; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, and begged him much, saying, "My little daughter is at the point of death. Please come and lay your hands on her, that she may be made healthy, and live." He went with him, and a great multitude followed him, and they pressed upon him on all sides. A certain woman, who had an issue of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things by many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better, but rather grew worse, having heard the things concerning Jesus, came up behind him in the crowd, and touched his clothes. For she said, "If I just touch his clothes, I will be made well." Immediately the flow of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction. Immediately Jesus, perceiving in himself that the power had gone out from him, turned around in the crowd, and asked, "Who touched my clothes?" His disciples said to him, "You see the multitude pressing against you, and you say, 'Who touched me?'" He looked around to see her who had done this thing. But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had been done to her, came and fell down before him, and told him all the truth. He said to her, "Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be cured of your disease." While he was still speaking, people came from the synagogue ruler's house saying, "Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher any more?" But Jesus, when he heard the message spoken, immediately said to the ruler of the synagogue, "Don't be afraid, only believe." He allowed no one to follow him, except Peter, James, and John the brother of James. He came to the synagogue ruler's house, and he saw an uproar, weeping, and great wailing. When he had entered in, he said to them, "Why do you make an uproar and weep? The child is not dead, but is asleep." They ridiculed him. But he, having put them all out, took the father of the child, her mother, and those who were with him, and went in where the child was lying. Taking the child by the hand, he said to her, "Talitha cumi!" which means, being interpreted, "Girl, I tell you, get up!" Immediately the girl rose up and walked, for she was twelve years old. They were amazed with great amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and commanded that something should be given to her to eat.

Reflection

This reading is about many things, but the most predominant is faith. We are healed by our faith. The woman who touched Jesus and the synagogue ruler both demonstrated their faith. May we do the same

1 Feb 2013

Prayer
Lord, give us the patience, trust and love to plant your seeds and leave it to you that they will spring up and grow

Bible Passage

Mark 4:26-34
He said, "God's Kingdom is as if a man should cast seed on the earth, and should sleep and rise night and day, and the seed should spring up and grow, he doesn't know how. For the earth bears fruit: first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. But when the fruit is ripe, immediately he puts in the sickle, because
the harvest has come."

He said, "How will we liken God's Kingdom? Or with what parable will we illustrate it? It's like a grain of mustard seed, which, when it is sown in the earth, though it is less than all the seeds that are on the earth, yet when it is sown, grows up, and becomes greater than all the herbs, and puts out great branches, so that the birds
of the sky can lodge under its shadow."

With many such parables he spoke the word to them, as they were able to hear it. Without a parable he didn't speak to them; but privately to his own disciples he explained everything.

Reflection

Patience and trust are two foundational pillars for anything important in life. And trust in God is the foundation of all trust. By trusting in God's infinity, we can find the courage to do the seemingly small things we are capable of, with the patience that comes from the knowledge that our God of Love is a God of Growth and multiplication. This means we don't have to change the world, we just need to plant the seeds of change and trust in God!

31 Jan 2013

Prayer
Give us the grace, Lord, to be open, truthful and loving, that we may grow in Your Love

Bible Passage

Mark 4:21-25
He said to them, "Is the lamp brought to be put under a basket or under a bed? Isn't it put on a stand? For there is nothing hidden, except that it should be made known; neither was anything made secret, but that it should come to light. If any man has ears to hear, let him hear."

He said to them, "Take heed what you hear. With whatever measure you measure, it will be measured to you, and more will be given to you who hear. For whoever has, to him will more be given, and he who doesn't have, even that which he has will be taken away from him."

Reflection

False humility is not helpful, especially since it often hides arrogance and pride. In many ways this reading is about the parting of two ways. One way leads into the light, with openness, truth, love and growth. The other way leads to secrecy, distrust and shrinkage, with a vicious cycle built in that means following that way leads to the shrivelling up of our gifts and the diminution of our ability to hear thet Truth.

30 Jan 2013

Prayer
Lord, strengthen our belief in Your Love, protect us from the thorns of this world, and give us the grace to nourish Your Word in our hearts, that we may bear fruit

Bible Passage

Mark 4:1-20
Again he began to teach by the seaside. A great multitude was gathered to him, so that he entered into a boat in the sea, and sat down. All the multitude were on the land by the sea. He taught them many things in parables, and told them in his teaching, "Listen! Behold, the farmer went out to sow, and as he sowed, some seed fell by the road, and the birds* came and devoured it. Others fell on the rocky ground, where it had little soil, and immediately it sprang up, because it had no depth of soil. When the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns grew up, and choked it, and it yielded no fruit. Others fell into the good ground, and yielded fruit, growing up and increasing. Some produced thirty times, some sixty times, and some one hundred times as much." He said, "Whoever has ears to hear, let him hear."

When he was alone, those who were around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. He said to them, "To you is given the mystery of God's Kingdom, but to those who are outside, all things are done in parables, that 'seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest perhaps they should turn again, and their sins should be forgiven them.'"

He said to them, "Don't you understand this parable? How will you understand all of the parables? The farmer sows the word. The ones by the road are the ones where the word is sown; and when they have heard, immediately Satan comes, and takes away the word which has been sown in them. These in the same way are those who are sown on the rocky places, who, when they have heard the word, immediately receive it with joy. They have no root in themselves, but are short-lived. When oppression or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they stumble. Others are those who are sown among the thorns. These are those who have heard the word, and the cares of this age, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. Those which were sown on the good ground are those who hear the word, and accept it, and bear fruit, some thirty times, some sixty times, and some one hundred times."

Reflection

What sort of ground are we? To what extent do we let the cares of this age, the deceiftulness of riches and desire for other things choke the effects of the Word in our lives? This is not just a matter of action. It is also a matter of security. So much of the striving after riches and other things in our lives comes from insecurity. It is as if we say to ourselves, "if only I had a billion dollars, then I would be okay," or "if only I had the latest ipad, everyone would know I was cool," or... you can fill in the list for yourselves! Yet God loves us as we are, with a tender love that does not need ipads or riches and is not increased a jot by any of the things we lust after. To the extent that we can truly and fully accept God's love, we become the kind of soil in which the seeds God has planted can grow!

29 Jan 2013

Prayer
Lord, open us to Your will and open our hearts to greater expression of Your love.

Bible Passage

Hebrews 10:1-10
For the law, having a shadow of the good to come, not the very image of the things, can never with the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near. Or else wouldn’t they have ceased to be offered, because the worshipers, having been once cleansed, would have had no more consciousness of sins? But in those sacrifices there is a yearly reminder of sins. For it is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. Therefore when he comes into the world, he says, "Sacrifice and offering you didn’t desire, but you prepared a body for me. You had no pleasure in whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin. Then I said, 'Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of me) to do your will, O God.'" Previously saying, "Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you didn’t desire, neither had pleasure in them" (those which are offered according to the law), then he has said, "Behold, I have come to do your will." He takes away the first, that he may establish the second, by which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Reflection

The Will of God is an important part of God's essence. God's essence is also described as Love. Divine Love and God's will are both beyond our comprehension, yet we have some glimmering of understanding of them, sufficient perhaps to understand that the law handed down to the Jewish people over the centuries was intended as a means to help them with what they found difficult to comprehend, rather than as an end in itself. This is made abundantly clear in several places in the new testament, one of which is the passage we read here. Although the focus of this passage is on the importance of the sacrifice Jesus has made for us, and the way in which that sacrifice has in some sense made us one with the Will of God, a secondary emphasis is on seeing the law in its right place, as secondary, as "a shadow of the good to come, not the very image of the things". Thus, rather than feeling complacent that we have the law and that we have been saved by Jesus, we need to ensure that we continue to focus on the Essence of God: on God's Will and on Love.

27 Jan 2013

Prayer
Help us, Lord, to be Good News

Bible Passage

1 Cor 12:12-14, 27
Brothers and sisters: As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, slaves or free persons, and we were all given to drink of one Spirit. Now the body is not a single part, but many. You are Christ's body, and individually parts of it.


Luke 4:16-20
He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the broken hearted,* to proclaim release to the captives, recovering of sight to the blind, to deliver those who are crushed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord." He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began to tell them, "Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."

Reflection

The scripture from Isaiah was fulfilled as Jesus spoke, in the person of Jesus, who incorporates us as members of His body. The fact that we are all members of His body is an aspect of the Good News which heals the broken hearted, for it is our role as members of His body to do so.

26 Jan 2013

Prayer
Lord, give us the grace to stay focussed on Your Kingdom, rather than on what others think

Bible Passage

Mark 3:20-21
Jesus and his disciples came into a house. The crowd had gathered came again, so that they could not even eat bread. When his relatives heard it, they went out to seize him: for they said, "He is insane."

Reflection

If we truly follow the way, there will be times when our friends and relatives think we are insane. For many, religion is a social insitituation: something to pay lip-service to, while focussing on other things. From that perspective, any attempt to take Christianity seriously and live it out looks like madness. May we be fools in the eyes of the world and saints in the eyes of God!

25 Jan 2013

Prayer
Lord, strengthen our faith that we may put You first and trust in the Spirit to guide us

Bible Passage

Mark 16:15-18
He said to them, "Go into all the world, and preach the Good News to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who disbelieves will be condemned. These signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new languages; they will take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it will in no way hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

Reflection

If this passage sounds dramatic to modern ears, perhaps it is because our faith is comparatively weak. In a world in which we are bombarded by thousands of messages, this is perhaps not surprising. Nevertheless, we are challenged to get our priorities right and set the spreading of God's Kingdom centre stage, without concern for our own safety, trusting in the Spirit to guide us.

23 Jan 2013

Prayer
Help us, Lord, to fully appreciate the radical equality we all have before You, and to act with love towards those around us

Bible Passage

Mark 3:1-6
He entered again into the synagogue, and there was a man there who had his hand withered.They watched him, whether he would heal him on the Sabbath day, that they might accuse him. He said to the man who had his hand withered, "Stand up." He said to them, "Is it lawful on the Sabbath day to do good, or to do harm? To save a life, or to kill?" But they were silent. When he had looked around at them with anger, being grieved at the hardening of their hearts, he said to the man, "Stretch out your hand." He stretched it out, and his hand was restored as healthy as the other. The Pharisees went out, and immediately conspired with the Herodians against him, as to how they might destroy him.

Reflection

Again, the Pharisees demonstrate for us the problems of focussing on the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law. Furthermore, they demonstrate how the letter of the law can be used as a weapon to do evil. Fully aware of what is in their hearts, Jesus refuses to be cowed, and continues to follow the law of Love. The times when we find ourselves in conflict with others are the times when it is most important to ask ourselves, "Is this action loving?" before we base any action towards another on a rule or an interpretation of scripture. Of course, we can always pull the wool over our own eyes by telling ourselves that it is for the person's own good (and therefore loving) to point out where they are transgressing. So, perhaps a second yardstick we might use is the question "Does this action increase the extent to which I think that I'm better and this other person is worse, or does this action increase my sense of radical equality with this person, in the eyes of God?"

22 Jan 2013

Prayer
Help us, Lord, to see the purpose, meaning and intention behind the precepts You have given us, and to act in the spirit of love rather than on the basis of rigidly applied rules.

Bible Passage

Mark 2:23-28
He was going on the Sabbath day through the grain fields, and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of grain. The Pharisees said to him, "Behold, why do they do that which is not lawful on the Sabbath day?" He said to them, "Did you never read what David did, when he had need, and was hungry - he, and those who were with him? How he entered into God's house when Abiathar was high priest, and ate the show bread, which is not lawful to eat except for the priests, and gave also to those who were with him?" He said to them, "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Therefore the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath."

Reflection

When we hear someone say that they are interested in spirituality but can't abide religion, we may think it is sad, which it is, but how often do we ask ourselves about the ways in which we, as church, may have contributed to the formation of that attitude? How might we have done that? The Pharisees give us a good example of how, in this Gospel reading. When we focus on rules rather than on love, when we focus on the letter of the law rather than the spirit of the law, when we use scripture to show that we are good and "they" are bad, we do the work of Satan, not the work of the Lord, because we are motivated by self-centred self-importance, rather than the love which enabled Jesus, elsewhere in the Gospels to say,"Neither do I condemn you - go and sin no more".

16 Jan 2013

Prayer
Lord, cleanse us of our fear and fill us with Your Love

Bible Passage

Hebrews 2:14-18
Since the children share in blood and Flesh, Jesus likewise shared in them, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the Devil, and free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life. Surely he did not help angels but rather the descendants of Abraham; therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters in every way, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest before God to expiate the sins of the people. Because he himself was tested through what he suffered, he is able to help those who are being tested.

Reflection

We learn from this reading that Jesus came, among other things, to "free those who through fear of death had been subject to slavery all their life". We also learn that the devil is intimately connected with this fear of death. In fact, we might argue that Satan is not only the lord of death but the lord of fear. We might argue that fear, rather than hatred, is the opposite of love, since hatred is born out of fear. It is not by accident that one of the most frequent phrases we come across in scripture is "be not afraid"!

15 Jan 2013

Prayer
Lord, we thank You for Your guidance and Your Spirit. Help us to thoroughly immerse ourselves in You.

Bible Passage

Mark 1:21-28
They went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath day he entered into the synagogue and taught. They were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes. Immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, saying, "Ha! What do we have to do with you, Jesus, you Nazarene? Have you come to destroy us? I know you who you are: the Holy One of God!" Jesus rebuked him, saying, "Be quiet, and come out of him!" The unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. They were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, "What is this? A new teaching? For with authority he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him!" The report of him went out immediately everywhere into all the region of Galilee and its surrounding area.

Reflection

Jesus taught with authority because he knew what he was talking about. Unlike the scribes who had an academic knowledge of sacred scripture, Jesus had a lived knowledge of sacred scripture - it was part of his being. As members of the Body of Christ, we too can have that lived knowledge. Jesus sent us the Holy Spirit to guide us. Jesus gave us His Word to guide us as well. By immersing ourselves in Jesus we can live Christianity so that scripture becomes, not an academic exercise, but part of the fibre of our being.

14 Jan 2013

Prayer
Lord, we want to follow you, help us to know Your Will

Bible Passage

Mark 1:14-20
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel." As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Then they left their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.

Reflection

The Kingdom of God is at hand now, just as then. The Kingdom of God is always at hand, even though we sometimes fail to see it. As he walks through our lives, Jesus calls us, too, to come and be fishers of people, shepherds of people, carers for people. May we open our eyes and ears to the calling.

12 Jan 2013

Prayer
Lord, we thank You for Your creation. Give us the grace to remember to continually acknowledge You as we appreciate it.

Bible Passage

John 3:22-30
After these things, Jesus came with his disciples into the land of Judea. He stayed there with them, and baptized. John also was baptizing in Enon near Salim, because there was much water there. They came, and were baptized. For John was not yet thrown into prison. There arose therefore a questioning on the part of John's disciples with some Jews about purification. They came to John, and said to him, "Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified, behold, the same baptizes, and everyone is coming to him?" John answered, "A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ, but,I have been sent before him.' He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. This, my joy, therefore is made full. He must increase, but I must decrease."

Reflection

Like John the Baptist, we too point to Jesus, in whom our joy is made full and therefore, for us also, He must increase and we must decrease. But what does that really mean? Does it mean we should go around putting ourselves down? Does it mean we should be totally insecure and lacking in self-esteem? On the contrary, we have every reason to be secure, since God is our security! We can value what God has created in us, because it is His work! However, we need to beware of taking ownership of it ourselves and forgetting God, as if we were our own creators. We did not create ourselves, God did, and for this we give Him praise and thanks. For this reason we are proud to be His creation and we value what He has created, in ourselves and in all those we meet, always remembering to acknowledge the Author of that creation.

11 Jan 2013

Prayer
Help us, Lord, to trust in Your Love and see with Your Eyes

Bible Passage

Luke 5:12-16
And it happened that, while he was in a certain city, behold, there was a man full of leprosy who, upon seeing Jesus and falling to his face, petitioned him, saying: "Lord, if you are willing, you are able to cleanse me." And extending his hand, he touched him, saying: "I am willing. Be cleansed." And at once, the leprosy departed from him. And he instructed him that he should tell no one, "But go, show yourself to the priest, and make the offering for your cleansing, just as Moses has commanded, as a testimony for them." Yet word of him traveled around all the more. And great crowds came together, so that they might listen and be cured by him from their infirmities. And he withdrew into the desert and prayed.

Reflection

"I am willing." God's will relates intimately to each one of us as an individual. This is obvioius, yet it can be hard to grasp. Of the more than 7 billion individual people wandering around our planet, God loves me uniquely! Furthermore, He loves each other one of those 7 billion uniquely, with a full, interested, tender caring that is willing to do whatever is necessary for the growth and salvation of that person. May we trust in that love and see each person we meet with the eyes of God.

9 Jan 2013

Prayer
Lord, calm the storms of our hearts and help us to trust in You

Bible Passage

Mark 6:45-52
After the five thousand had eaten and were satisfied, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and precede him to the other side toward Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And when he had taken leave of them, he went off to the mountain to pray. When it was evening, the boat was far out on the sea and he was alone on shore. Then he saw that they were tossed about while rowing, for the wind was against them. About the fourth watch of the night, he came toward them walking on the sea. He meant to pass by them. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out. They had all seen him and were terrified. But at once he spoke with them, "Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!" He got into the boat with them and the wind died down. They were completely astounded. They had not understood the incident of the loaves. On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.

Reflection

How easily we can let fear take hold of us! We know God's love for us - why is it that we have so little faith? Sometimes, as in this reading, the thing of which we are terrified turns out to be Jesus himself. We need to trust that He is there in some way in whatever comes to us, and trust in Him to calm the storms of our hearts. Yes, I often need the Lord to Calm My Storm

8 Jan 2013

Prayer
Lord, strengthen our faith, that we may do what we can with what we have and trust in You to multiply it

Bible Passage

Mark 6:34-44
When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. And when it grew late, his disciples came to him and said, "This is a desolate place, and the hour is now late. Send them away to go into the surrounding countryside and villages and buy themselves something to eat." But he answered them, "You give them something to eat." And they said to him, "Shall we go and buy two hundred denarii worth of bread and give it to them to eat?" And he said to them, "How many loaves do you have? Go and see." And when they had found out, they said, "Five, and two fish." Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups, by hundreds and by fifties. And taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven and said a blessing and broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples to set before the people. And he divided the two fish among them all. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of broken pieces and of the fish. 44 And those who ate the loaves were five thousand men.

Reflection

When we look at the problems of our world, it is easy to be overwhelmed. What can I, one individual, do to help these problems. Even when we think of ourselves as members of a body - the church - we can still feel overwhelmed. We don't have the resources! Yet, for God, all things are possible. We need not act of ourselves, but in Him. Through the Spirit, our five loaves and two fish can become enough. We must take what we have, act as if it is more, do what we can with it and trust in God.

7 Jan 2013

Prayer
Fill us, Lord, with Your Spirit, that we may respond as You need when the time is ripe

Bible Passage

Matthew 4:12-17, 23-25
When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali, that what had been said through Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles, the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light, on those dwelling in a land overshadowed by death light has arisen. From that time on, Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He went around all of Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom, and curing every disease and illness among the people. His fame spread to all of Syria, and they brought to him all who were sick with various diseases and racked with pain, those who were possessed, lunatics, and paralytics, and he cured them. And great crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, and Judea, and from beyond the Jordan followed him.

Reflection

Jesus began preaching when the time was right. John had prepared the ground but was no longer doing the work. In our lives, often others prepare the ground for work that God has given us to do, and we must act when the time is right. On the the other hand, often we prepare the ground for wrok that God has given others to do, and we must let go when the time is right. In either case, we need to be open to the will of God and ready to respond at the right time. In other words, we need the guidance of the Spirit.

3 Jan 2013

Prayer
Lord, help us to avoid sin so that we may live more deeply in You

Bible Passage

1 John 2:29 -3:6
If you know that he is righteous, you may be sure that everyone who practices righteousness has been born of him. See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. Everyone who makes a practice of sinning also practices lawlessness; sin is lawlessness. You know that he appeared in order to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him keeps on sinning; no one who keeps on sinning has either seen him or known him.

Reflection

When we are in God, we are not in sin. In other words, sin keeps us from God, who is Love. We want to live in God, so we need to avoid sin, which in any case is essentially a lack of love. We avoid sin, not for the sake of morality or to look good, not to save our souls (Jesus died to do that) but out of love, and because we want to be so close to God that we live in Him.

2 Jan 2012

Prayer
Lord, help us to live our lives in You, deep in Your love, and to embrace those around us with your eyes, so that loving our enemies becomes a natural thing to do

Bible Passage

1 John 2:22-28
Beloved: Who is the liar? Whoever denies that Jesus is the Christ. Whoever denies the Father and the Son, this is the antichrist. Anyone who denies the Son does not have the Father, but whoever confesses the Son has the Father as well. Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made us: eternal life. I write you these things about those who would deceive you. As for you, the anointing that you received from him remains in you, so that you do not need anyone to teach you. But his anointing teaches you about everything and is true and not false; just as it taught you, remain in him. And now, children, remain in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not be put to shame by him at his coming.

Reflection

In Jesus, we have the Father as well, for Jesus fulfills what came before and completes it. At various times over the years people have used quotations from the Old Testament in support of war, bigotry and other unloving acts. This is a misuse of the Old Testament because it ignores the Old Testament's completion in the New Testament, in which we are told that "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" is to be transformed into "love your enemies". Those who use the Old Testament to support unloving acts fall into the trap described in this scriptural passage: they focus on the Father and ignore the Son. By ignoring the Son, they in effect deny Him and therefore lose the Father as well. So let us, now, remain in Him, who is Love, so that we may have confidence and not be shamefaced at His coming.

1 Jan 2013

Prayer
Lord, bless and keep all of us during 2013; make your face shine upon us all, be gracious to us and give us peace

Bible Passage

Numbers 6:22-27
The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,

The LORD bless you and keep you;
The LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
The LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them."

Reflection

In this year of 2013, may the Lord bless all of you and keep you; may the Lord make His face to shine upon you and be gracious to you, and may the Lord life up His countenance upon you and give you peace, throughout the year and beyond, with blessings an prayers from all of us at FaithSing

30 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, deepen our understanding of and appreciation for the members of our families

Bible Passage

Luke 2:41-52
Each year Jesus' parents went to Jerusalem for the feast of Passover, and when he was twelve years old, they went up according to festival custom. After they had completed its days, as they were returning, the boy Jesus remained behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Thinking that he was in the caravan, they journeyed for a day and looked for him among their relatives and acquaintances, but not finding him, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions, and all who heard him were astounded at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished, and his mother said to him, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety." And he said to them, "Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" But they did not understand what he said to them. He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them; and his mother kept all these things in her heart. And Jesus advanced in wisdom and age and favor before God and man.

Reflection

Members of families do not always fully understand one another, because all of us are individuals, with our own characteristics and destinies. God's plan for each of us is different, and those of us who are parents do not always understand God's plan for our children, or we get it confused with our own plans for our children. Like Mary, we need to keep the signs of God's unknown or only partially revealed plan for our children in our hearts and wait for it to be more fully revealed in God's time. Similarly, as children, we may think we know God's plan for us but in fact have it confused with our own plans, which more often than not are far from identical with God's plan for us. We may be impatient with parents who seem not to understand our plans. Yet, while continuing to listen to the voice of God and allowing his plan for us to unfold, we need to, like Jesus, be obedient to them during the time of our growing up, trusting in God to reveal his plan to both them and us in good time.

28 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, help us to acknowledge our sins and accept your forgiveness.

Bible Passage

1 John 1:5-2:2
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

Reflection

We are ambivalent - in other words, there are two sides to us. We are loving, but we are selfish. We have faith, but we doubt. We are faithful, but sometimes we stray. Jesus asks us to accept ourselves as we are. This does not mean we shouldn't strive to improve, but it does mean that we should not pretend to be what we are not. We should face and accept ourselves as we are, for God loves us as we are.

27 Dec 2012

Prayer
May our joy be complete in our knowledge of and life in You

Bible Passage

1 John 1:1-4
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life - the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us - that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.

Reflection

From the very begining, Jesus, the Word of God has been with us. At the first Christmas, however, he became with us in a new and more tangible way, by taking on human flesh - by becoming manifest, by being seen. In fellowship with one another we become in our own small way that Word in the life of the worled

25 Dec 2012

Prayer
Thank you, Lord, for everything in our lives, and all You have done for us. Open our hearts and minds that we may hear and respond to your call in 2013.

Bible Passage

John 1:1-18
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be. What came to be through him was life, and this life was the light of the human race; the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. A man named John was sent from God. He came for testimony, to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came to be through him, but the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, but his own people did not accept him.

But to those who did accept him he gave power to become children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born not by natural generation nor by human choice nor by a man's decision but of God. And the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father's only Son, full of grace and truth. John testified to him and cried out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'The one who is coming after me ranks ahead of me because he existed before me.'" From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace, because while the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father's side, has revealed him.

Reflection

As the Eternal Source of All is born again into our lives this Christmas, enlivening our flesh and opening out our potential to love, let us look beyond the perhaps exhausting Christmas preparations and festivities to the direction that Jesus is calling us in our lives. We may not know exactly what He has in mind for us in 2012, but this is a time to open our minds and hearts to the possibilities and to enter into prayer to open ourselves to hear His call.

24 Dec 2012

Prayer
Help us Lord to prepare a place for You in our hearts that together we may walk Your way of peace

Bible Passage

Luke 1:67-79
Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying: "Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David. Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace."

Reflection

May the dawn from on high break upon us. This Christmas is a time of renewal when we recommit ourselves to living more fully in the Lord, so that we may become His instruments and help His light to "shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death". As we open our hearts to the tender compassion of our God and enter more fully into His Kingdom, may we be filled with the Spirit and walk in confidence the Way of Peace.

23 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, open our hearts to You, that we may believe and welcome You this Christmas

Bible Passage

Luke 1:39-45
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."

Reflection

May we like Mary, also believe what is spoken to us from the Lord! May we open our hearts to Jesus so that he can born again in them this Christmas, just as he was born in Mary's so many years ago.

22 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, open our eyes so we can truly appreciate everything you have done for us, including our friends and family

Bible Passage

Luke 1:46-56
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. for he has looked upon his lowly servant From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever."

Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home.

Reflection

We too can proclaim the greatness of the Lord and rejoice in God our saviour, for he has done great things of us too. The first of those is the gift of life. The fact that we exist is an immense gift in itself. God had no need to create us, but did it out of love. Our family and friends are also gifts, even if some of them are also difficult for us. Christmas is a time not for focussing on those difficulties, but for focussing on the gift that each one of them is to us.

21 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, we believe and are therefore blessed. Please strengthen of faith, belief and trust.

Bible Passage

Luke 1:39-45
Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.

Reflection

"Blessed are you who believed" and blessed are all who believe, because the alternative to belief, in a fundamental sense, is despair. If we believe God loves us each individually and God has a purpose for each of us, which we alone can fulfil, then we inhabit a universe filled with hope and meaning. Otherwise, we inhabit a world which is empty.

20 Dec 2012

Prayer
Give us the grace, Lord, to accept Your will, and the faith to trust that You can do through us what You will.

Bible Passage

Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end."

And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy - the Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word." And the angel departed from her.

Reflection

What God asks of us can sometimes seem strange, or even impossible - totally outside our capabilities. Yet, we know that what is impossible for us is not impossible for God. God's Spirit, working within us, can achieve things we would be incapable of by ourselves, if we trust God and have faith. We need faith, but we need more than faith - we need acceptance. God's will and our own will may not always naturally coincide. So often we pray "Thy will be done," but then struggle against God's will when it is done. We need the faith, love and acceptance to be able to say "I am the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me, or through me, according to Your Word".

19 Dec

Prayer
Give us the grace, Lord, to trust in You

Bible Passage

Luke 1:5-25
There was, in the days of Herod, king of Judea, a certain priest named Zechariah, of the section of Abijah, and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. Now they were both just before God, progressing in all of the commandments and the justifications of the Lord without blame. And they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they both had become advanced in years. Then it happened that, when he was exercising the priesthood before God, in the order of his section, according to the custom of the priesthood, the lot fell so that he would offer incense, entering into the temple of the Lord. And the entire multitude of the people was praying outside, at the hour of incense. Then there appeared to him an Angel of the Lord, standing at the right of the altar of incense. And upon seeing him, Zechariah was disturbed, and fear fell over him. But the Angel said to him: "Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth shall bear a son to you. And you shall call his name John. And there will be joy and exultation for you, and many will rejoice in his nativity. For he will be great in the sight of the Lord, and he will not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will convert many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go before him with the spirit and power of Elijah, so that he may turn the hearts of the fathers to the sons, and the incredulous to the prudence of the just, so as to prepare for the Lord a completed people." And Zechariah said to the Angel: "How may I know this? For I am elderly, and my wife is advanced in years." And in response, the Angel said to him: "I am Gabriel, who stands before God, and I have been sent to speak to you, and to proclaim these things to you. And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak, until the day on which these things shall be, because you have not believed my words, which will be fulfilled in their time." And the people were waiting for Zechariah. And they wondered why he was being delayed in the temple. Then, when he came out, he was unable to speak to them. And they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he was making signs to them, but he remained mute. And it happened that, after the days of his office were completed, he went away to his house. Then, after those days, his wife Elizabeth conceived, and she hid herself for five months, saying: "For the Lord did this for me, at the time when he decided to take away my reproach among men."

Reflection

When things seem bad it is easy to despair, even though we know we can trust in God. How easy is it for us to dismiss God's love for us when things go wrong? Like Zechariah, we can take it with a grain of salt and fail to believe. Yet God can turn all things to good. Lord, strengthen our faith!

18 dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, give us the grace to appreciate what You have done for us and to give fuller expression to our oneness in You.

Bible Passage

Matthew 1:18-25
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel" (which means, God with us).

When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Reflection

God is with us. He is called Jesus, for he saves us from our sins. This saving calls forth our appreciation. It also calls us to follow His way. It calls us to enter His kingdom, become His disciples and spread His word of Love. It calls us to recognise our oneness in Christ. It calls us to recognize that we are saved sinners and as saved sinners that we are no better than anyone else, which again calls us to appreciate our radical oneness in Jesus Christ. May we therefore be so visibly one in Love that we stand as a sign and a symbol for the presence of God in this world.

17 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, strengthen our faith, that we may offer You what little we have to build up the Kingdom

Bible Passage

Matthew 1:1-17
The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram, Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon, Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse, Jesse the father of David the king. David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah. Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph. Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah. Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah. Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos, Amos the father of Josiah. Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile. After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor, Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud, Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Christ. Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Christ, fourteen generations.

Reflection

While the proof that Joseph descended from Abraham may have been very important and compelling to first century Jews, it is perhaps of slightly less interest to 21st century gentiles, particularly given that Jesus is the son of God, not of Joseph. Nevertheless, this reading gives us an interesting recounting of the story of people of deep faith. The faith Abraham, even to the extent of being willing to sacrifice his own son, is well known. Perhaps a little less well known is the faith of Rahab. Rahab was a prostitute who lived in Jericho at the time when the Jews were preparing to cross the river Jordan to fight for the promised land. She assisted Jewish spies and was herself protected. She eventually married Salmon. Broken as her life may have been, she was able to turn to God and give him what little she had, thus becoming part of a greater story. That is all that is required of any of us. However bereft or broken we may be, if we give our little to God, God will make use of it, and we too can become part of the story of salvation.

16 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, give us the grace to embrace you with open hearts

Bible Passage

Luke 3:10-18
And the crowed was questioning him, saying, "What then should we do?" But in response, he said to them: "Whoever has two coats, let him give to those who do not have. And whoever has food, let him act similarly." Now the tax collectors also came to be baptized, and they said to him, "Teacher, what should we do?" But he said to them, "You should do nothing more than what has been appointed to you." Then the soldiers also questioned him, saying, "And what should we do?" And he said to them: "You should strike no one, and you should not make false accusations. And be content with your pay." Now all were thinking about John in their hearts, and the people were supposing that perhaps he might be the Christ. John responded by saying to everyone: "Indeed, I baptize you with water. But there will arrive one stronger than me, the laces of whose shoes I am not worthy to loosen. He will baptize you in the Holy Spirit, and with fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand. And he will purify his threshing floor. And he will gather the wheat into the barn. But the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire." Indeed, he also proclaimed many other things, exhorting the people.

Reflection

John proclaimed the coming of Jesus, whom he saw as much greater than he, and able to bazptize with the Holy Spirit. As we await the coming of Jesus at Christmas, we might do well to also take heed of John's other suggestions and see to our own honesty, non-violence and fairness in all our dealings, so that we might be more ready for his coming than the scribes and pharisees were; so that we might be capable of being on fire with the power of the Spirit.

15 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, open our eyes that we may see You in each person we encounter.

Bible Passage

Matthew 17:9-13
And as they were coming down the mountain, Jesus commanded them, "Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead." And the disciples asked him, "Then why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?" He answered, "Elijah does come, and he will restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man will certainly suffer at their hands." Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.

Reflection

Elijah came, and the scribes and pharisees failed to recognise him, just as they failed to recognize Jesus. How often do we also fail to recognize Jesus, or Elijah, or the prescence of God and God's grace? We might be horrified to know! Rather than turn Jesus away, let us assume always that He is present. As we prepare to renew ourselves in His coming at Christmas, let us search until we discover His presence in every person we meet. Let us seek His grace that our eyes may see.

14 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, help us to look beneath the surface to see the person You created rather than the mask

Bible Passage

Matthew 11:16-19
Jesus said to the crowds: "To what shall I compare this generation? It is like children who sit in marketplaces and call to one another, 'We played the flute for you, but you did not dance, we sang a dirge but you did not mourn.' For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they said, 'He is possessed by a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking and they said, 'Look, he is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.' But wisdom is vindicated by her works."

Reflection

Human beings have a natural need to classify things, which we unfortunately also tend to apply to people. Whether you call it stereotyping or judging, it gets in the way of a true knowledge, understanding and appreciation of the person. This is a fundamental ingredient in all forms of prejudice and bigotry. Jesus gives us some examples from his time: "He is possessed by a demon", "He is a friend of tax collectors and sinners". Even if the people being described were not John the Baptist and Jesus, such descriptions must inevitable diminish them. Every person is multifaceted and unique. Every person had great depths waiting to be discovered over time, like peeling the layers from an onion. Every person is in some way made in the image and likeness of God and reveals an aspect or aspects of God to us, if we take the time to search with compassion for that aspect.

13 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lead us, Lord, deeper into Your kingdom

Bible Passage

Mattthew 11:11-15
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Reflection

The kingdom Jesus brings is greater, deeper and more meaningful than the greatest of everything that preceded his coming. It is not a kingdom of violence, even when it is surrounded by violence on all sides. The kingdom of love sees deep into the heart of each person and discerns there a greatness greater than the world has ever known and loves with a tenderness deeper than the world has ever known. Let us enter more deeply this Christmas into that kingdom.

12 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, shine your light on us that we may follow your star and discover you hidden in the squalor of everyday life and rejoice

Bible Passage

Luke 1:39-47
Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled." And Mary said: "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior."

Reflection

What does the birth of Jesus mean for us? It means God embracing the depths of humanity all the way down to the stable; all the way down to the ox and the ass; all the way to the depths of the vulnerability in each one of us. No longer need we be ashamed. No longer need we be horrified by the depravity in our world, because somewhere in the midsts of the smell and the manure we can find God! This radically transforms our approach to life. We are transformed from Scribes and Pharisees seeking to detect, shame and stone those around us for the weakness into those with the wisdom to follow the star of Jesus and find God in the most unlikely of places, so that we can proclaim the Glory of God and our spirits can rejoice in God our Saviour.

11 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, help us to reach out to all people and rejoice in Your beauty reflected in them

Bible Passage

Matthew 18:12-14
Jesus said to his disciples: "What is your opinion? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray? And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray. In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost."

Reflection

If we love those who attend the same church we do, that is a small cause for joy. If we love those who are believers but attend a very different church from the one we do, that is a little more cause for joy. If we love those who do not attend church at all and perhaps even ridicule our faith, recognising the presence of God within them, even where they fail to recognize it themselves, that is a much greater cause for joy. If we reach out and touch these last in a way that moves their hearts and lets the grace of God in, that is cause for a huge celebration!

10 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, help us to recognize your presence in those around us.

Bible Passage

Luke 5:17-26
On one of those days, as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with him to heal. 18 And behold, some men were bringing on a bed a man who was paralyzed, and they were seeking to bring him in and lay him before Jesus, but finding no way to bring him in, because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down with his bed through the tiles into the midst before Jesus. And when he saw their faith, he said, "Man, your sins are forgiven you." And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, "Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?"When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, "Why do you question in your hearts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins," he said to the man who was paralyzed "I say to you, rise, pick up your bed and go home." And immediately he rose up before them and picked up what he had been lying on and went home, glorifying God. And amazement seized them all, and they glorified God and were filled with awe, saying, "We have seen extraordinary things today."

Reflection

It is so easy to doubt. We live in a cynical world where judging others seems the normal thing to do, yet we know that we must not judge. Jesus could sense the judgement in the hearts of his listeners and responded to it by amazing them. What was different in Jesus attitude was his ability to see the value in each person. He responded to the inner need of the parysed man for forgiveness before responding to his need to walk. By amazing those watching and judging, he offered them the opportunity of faith, which many of them took.

9 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, help us to recognise and repent our sins and prepare a way for You in our lives.

Bible Passage

Luke 3:1-6
In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea, and Herod was tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of the region of Ituraea and Trachonitis, and Lysanias was tetrarch of Abilene, during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the desert. John went throughout the whole region of the Jordan, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of the prophet Isaiah: A voice of one crying out in the desert: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths. Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill shall be made low. The winding roads shall be made straight, and the rough ways made smooth, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God."

Reflection

If we truly repent, our sins are forgiven, but first we need to recognise our sins rather than denying them. Having recognised them in a spirit of humility, we need to truly repent. Having repented and accepted the salvation offered us, we need to prepare the way of the Lord and make straight His paths by making changes in our lives and becoming His vessels to bring His love to those around us.

7 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, strengthen our belief that our eyes may be opened.

Bible Passage

Matthew 9:27-31
And as Jesus passed on from there, two blind men followed him, crying aloud, "Have mercy on us, Son of David." 28 When he entered the house, the blind men came to him, and Jesus said to them, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" They said to him, "Yes, Lord." Then he touched their eyes, saying, "According to your faith be it done to you." And their eyes were opened. And Jesus sternly warned them, "See that no one knows about it." But they went away and spread his fame through all that district.

Reflection

Our belief in the power of God and the strength of His love and mercy is the foundation through which we can be healed. Jesus can open our eyes if we believe. Trusting and living in the Lord, we open ourselves to the working of the Spirit. May our eyes be opened!

6 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, help us to build our lives on the secure foundation of love.

Bible Passage

Mattew 7:21, 24-27
Jesus said to his disciples: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. "Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined."

Reflection

We need to build our lives on a secure foundation of solid rock, the foundation Jesus gave us. That foundation is Jesus, who is God, who is Love. Let us then build our lives on love, with the wisdom and insight of Jesus. It is not enough just to call Him Lord, we must also love our enemies!

4 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, help us to trust in You with childlike faith

Bible Passage

Luke 10:21-24
Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, "I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father. No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him."
Turning to the disciples in private he said, "Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I say to you, many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it."

Reflection

The gift of Faith is something we do not arrive at through intellect but through childlike trust in God. We need to be incredibly greatful for that gift.

3 Dec 2012

Prayer
Lord, increase our faith and trust in You

Bible Passage

Matthew 8:5-11
When he had entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly." And he said to him, "I will come and heal him." But the centurion replied, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it." When Jesus heard this, he marveled and said to those who followed him, "Truly, I tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven"

Reflection

Where those who might have known better demanded signs and wonders, the centurion, who was a gentile, had the faith to trust that Jesus could heal his son from afar. We need the faith to trust that Jesus can always do what is needful for us in our lives

2 Dec 2012

Prayer
Strengthen our hearts, Lord, that we may grow in Your Love

Bible Passage

1 Thes 3:12-4:2
Brothers and sisters: May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we have for you, so as to strengthen your hearts, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his holy ones. Amen. Finally, brothers and sisters, we earnestly ask and exhort you in the Lord Jesus that, as you received from us how you should conduct yourselves to please God and as you are conducting yourselves you do so even more. For you know what instructions we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

Reflection

We have received freely and should give freely, motivated by love for one another and for all. May the Lord fill us with the Spirit and strenghten our hearts that we may grow in love.

1 Dec 2012

Prayer
Help us, Lord, to remain focussed on You and Your Kingdom

Bible Passage

Luke 21:34-36
"But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."

Reflection

Life is so busy. There is so much going on. There are so many influences and pressures seeking to pull us into this involvement and that pleasure, that it is all too easy to lose sight of the Lord and our purpose here on earth. Yet those pleasures are essentially empty and our purposes is full of life and meaning. May we stay attuned to God's will in our lives!

29 Nov

Prayer
Lord may we always hear your call

Bible Passage

Matthew 4:18-22
As Jesus was walking by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." At once they left their nets and followed him. He walked along from there and saw two other brothers, James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They were in a boat, with their father Zebedee, mending their nets. He called them, and immediately they left their boat and their father and followed him.

Reflection

When Jesus calls, we need to immediately leave what we are doing and respond. How often do we hesitate? How often do we say, "I'll just finish this first"? When our heart's are in the right place, we see the need, hear the call and respond.

29 Nov

Prayer
Lord strengthen our faith and keep us focussed on the reality of Your presence. Thank you for saving us.

Bible Passage

Luke 21:20-28
Jesus said to his disciples: "When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, know that its desolation is at hand. Then those in Judea must flee to the mountains. Let those within the city escape from it, and let those in the countryside not enter the city, for these days are the time of punishment when all the Scriptures are fulfilled. Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days, for a terrible calamity will come upon the earth and a wrathful judgment upon this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be taken as captives to all the Gentiles; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. "There will be signs in the sun, the moon, and the stars, and on earth nations will be in dismay, perplexed by the roaring of the sea and the waves. People will die of fright in anticipation of what is coming upon the world, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand."

Reflection

Jesus has saved us, so we must trust in Him and not despair, however bad things get. It is not our place to predict the end of the world, but to live life according to the way of Jesus, secure in the knowledge that we are safe in Him.

28 Nov

Prayer
Lord, increase our trust and faith in You, and help us to be open to the opportunities for witness that you place in our paths

Bible Passage

Luke 21:12-19
But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict. You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.

Reflection

Trust in God's love is our sure foundation. However bad things seem to us, we need to be open to the opportunities God is placing before us. If we let the Spirit guide us, we will find in every situation an opportunity for doing the work of the Kingdom.

27 Nov

Prayer
Even in the midst of conflict, Lord, help us to stay focussed on You and hold fast to Your Love

Bible Passage

Luke 21:5-11
While some people were speaking about how the temple was adorned with costly stones and votive offerings, Jesus said, "All that you see here? the days will come when there will not be left a stone upon another stone that will not be thrown down." Then they asked him, "Teacher, when will this happen? And what sign will there be when all these things are about to happen?" He answered, "See that you not be deceived, for many will come in my name, saying, 'I am he,' and 'The time has come.' Do not follow them! When you hear of wars and insurrections, do not be terrified; for such things must happen first, but it will not immediately be the end." Then he said to them, "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be powerful earthquakes, famines, and plagues from place to place; and awesome sights and mighty signs will come from the sky."

Reflection

When we turn on the radio or the TV we are so often bombarded with bad news that, if we are in a particular frame of mind, it would be easy to be tipped over into despair, but despair is not God's Kingdom. "Do not listen to them". Rather than predicting the end of the world, what we need to do is to be ready. We become ready by embracing God's Kingdom and spreading love.

26 Nov

Prayer
Lord, may we open our hearts freely and joyfully to You, as You come to us in everyone we meet

Bible Passage

Luke 21:1-4
When Jesus looked up he saw some wealthy people putting their offerings into the treasury and he noticed a poor widow putting in two small coins. He said, "I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.

Reflection

This reading is about generosity and commitment. When we live our commitments with generosity we put ourselves second and others first. This involves an opening up of ourselves. This involves allowing the Spirit to animate our hearts. This involves letting God's love flow through us so that we become God's hands and feet. The opposite is greed, which involves a closing up and drawing into ourselves.

25 Nov 2012

Prayer
Lord, keep us focused on Your Kingdom. Help us know our part in building Your Kingdom.

Bible Passage

John 18:33-37
Pilate said to Jesus, "Are you the King of the Jews?" Jesus answered, "Do you say this on your own or have others told you about me?" Pilate answered, "I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus answered, "My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants would be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here." So Pilate said to him, "Then you are a king?" Jesus answered, "You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice."

Reflection

Jesus is king, but his kingdom is not of this world. We are in this world, yet we seek to be part of that kingdom. Therefore we are in the world but not of the world. We must survive in the world, so we need to pay attention to it. We also need to pay attention to it because we are part of the Body of Christ and must spread his message of love. But we must never lose sight of the kingdom, or we will begin to operate by the principles of greed and power rather than by the principle of love.

23 Nov 2012

Prayer
Lord, help us to focus on love, not power. Help us to focus on building up Your Kingdom rather than on building riches in this world

Bible Passage

Luke 19:45-48
And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, "It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers."
And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes and the principal men of the people were seeking to destroy him, but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words.

Reflection

In this reading we see on the one hand, the ability of Jesus to touch people, and on the other, his ability to annoy people. Those he annoyed were those who did not want to know the truth that he spoke.
It is very easy for us to become concerned about money. We worry about making our future secure and about how we will provide for our retirement. We worry about what we will do if there is an economic downturn. That may all be natural, but it so easily leads us away from our purpose here on earth. That purpose is live in harmony with God and to build up the Kingdom of God. Focusing on money does neither.
So let us give freely just as we have received freely. Let us not clutter our web pages with advertisements but with the Word of God. Let us reach out to one another in love. Let us listen to each other, freely, compassionately and lovingly; let us pray and open our hearts to the loving Spirit of our Lord.

22 Nov 2012

Prayer
Lord, help us to remember to give you thanks and praise for all you do for us

Bible Passage

Luke 17:11-19
As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem, he traveled through Samaria and Galilee. As he was entering a village, ten persons with leprosy met him. They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying, "Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!" And when he saw them, he said, "Go show yourselves to the priests." As they were going they were cleansed. And one of them, realizing he had been healed, returned, glorifying God in a loud voice; and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him. He was a Samaritan. Jesus said in reply, "Ten were cleansed, were they not? Where are the other nine? Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?" Then he said to him, "Stand up and go; your faith has saved you."

Reflection

When things go wrong, we are inclined to pray. "Lord, help me," "Lord, I need a way out of this." Yet it is all too easy to start taking God for granted once things start going right again. This reading reminds us of the importance of noticing and acknowledging the many, many things Jesus does for us, every day.

21 Nov 2012

Prayer
Lord, help us grow deeper and deeper in Your Spirit, that we may use the gifts You have given us to build up Your kindgom

Bible Passage

Luke 19:11-28
While people were listening to Jesus speak, he proceeded to tell a parable because he was near Jerusalem and they thought that the Kingdom of God would appear there immediately.

So he said, "A nobleman went off to a distant country to obtain the kingship for himself and then to return. He called ten of his servants and gave them ten gold coins and told them, 'Engage in trade with these until I return.' His fellow citizens, however, despised him and sent a delegation after him to announce, 'We do not want this man to be our king.' But when he returned after obtaining the kingship, he had the servants called, to whom he had given the money, to learn what they had gained by trading. The first came forward and said, 'Sir, your gold coin has earned ten additional ones.' He replied, 'Well done, good servant! You have been faithful in this very small matter; take charge of ten cities.' Then the second came and reported, 'Your gold coin, sir, has earned five more.' And to this servant too he said, 'You, take charge of five cities.' Then the other servant came and said, 'Sir, here is your gold coin; I kept it stored away in a handkerchief, for I was afraid of you, because you are a demanding man; you take up what you did not lay down and you harvest what you did not plant.' He said to him, 'With your own words I shall condemn you, you wicked servant. You knew I was a demanding man, taking up what I did not lay down and harvesting what I did not plant; why did you not put my money in a bank? Then on my return I would have collected it with interest.' And to those standing by he said, 'Take the gold coin from him and give it to the servant who has ten.' But they said to him, 'Sir, he has ten gold coins.' He replied, 'I tell you, to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. Now as for those enemies of mine who did not want me as their king, bring them here and slay them before me.'"

After he had said this, he proceeded on his journey up to Jerusalem.

Reflection

The gifts God has given us are for the community. As we begin to use them to build up the kingdom, operating on the principle of love, we open up, expand and grow in God's love; we interact with others who are doing the same and our combined gifts become more than the sum of the original gifts, just as the talents of some of the people in the Gospel returned interest. On the other hand, when we operate out of fear, focussing on ourselves rather than on the community, we become more and more closed in; our gifts atrophy and decay; instead of expanding in love, we become smaller, diminished in fear. What we had originally seems to become less and less. When we live in love for others, using our gifts, we grow and our gifts expand; more is given to us. When we contract in fear, our gifts diminish, and even the little we had seems taken away.

Since the gifts we gave been given are for the community, let us embrace God's love and use them for others. We must use them for the community or lose them

20 Nov 2012

Prayer
Lord, open our hearts that we may love all those You love, however different from ourselves they may be in belief, appearance, or situation in life

Bible Passage

Luke 19:1-10
At that time Jesus came to Jericho and intended to pass through the town.
Now a man there named Zacchaeus,
who was a chief tax collector and also a wealthy man,
was seeking to see who Jesus was;
but he could not see him because of the crowd,
for he was short in stature.
So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree in order to see Jesus,
who was about to pass that way.
When he reached the place, Jesus looked up and said,
"Zacchaeus, come down quickly,
for today I must stay at your house."
And he came down quickly and received him with joy.
When they saw this, they began to grumble, saying,
"He has gone to stay at the house of a sinner."
But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord,
"Behold, half of my possessions, Lord, I shall give to the poor,
and if I have extorted anything from anyone
I shall repay it four times over."
And Jesus said to him,
"Today salvation has come to this house
because this man too is a descendant of Abraham.
For the Son of Man has come to seek
and to save what was lost."

Reflection

It is so easy to judge people. They are to right wing, they are too left wing, they are arrogant and conceited, they are evil and despicable; we can find evidence to back up all of these judgements. Many of the Jews could find evidence to back up their judgement of Zacheus, yet Jesus was able to look deeper and see the goodness hidden in Zacheaus, deep in his heart. Not only that, but when Jesus acted on his insight, the hidden goodness in Zacheus began to emerge. Zacheus responded. We need to follow the example of Jesus and reach out in love to those who at first glance don't strike us as very promising prospects. When we are moved by the Spirit to do that, we may be suprised at what we discover.

19 Nov 2012

Prayer
Lord, strengthen our faith that we might truly see

Bible Passage

Luke 18:35-43
As Jesus approached Jericho a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging, and hearing a crowd going by, he inquired what was happening.
They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by."
He shouted, "Jesus, Son of David, have pity on me!"
The people walking in front rebuked him, telling him to be silent, but he kept calling out all the more,
"Son of David, have pity on me!"
Then Jesus stopped and ordered that he be brought to him; and when he came near, Jesus asked him,
"What do you want me to do for you?"
He replied, "Lord, please let me see."
Jesus told him, "Have sight; your faith has saved you."
He immediately received his sight and followed him, giving glory to God.
When they saw this, all the people gave praise to God.

Reflection

Seeing is not always as easy as it seems. Sometimes we don't even see what is right in front of us, we are so preoccupied with our wants and desires. When we do see what is in front of us, we often see only the surface and are deceived. This is especially the case with people. Each person we meet is loved by God in the same way that we ourselves are loved. Each person we meet is just as precious to God as we are. Each person we meet was created in God's image and in some way is God for us. Yet each person is also in some way damaged, hurt, alone and in pain; and each person has taken steps of some sort to protect themselves from pain, with the result that what we see on the surface is often the mask or protective shell, rather than the person.

Luke 18:35-43 challenges us to have faith; faith that God does not create junk; faith that the person in front of me who seems unintersting, grumpy, cold or even nasty is still made in the image and likeness of God. This reading challenges us to look beneath the surface, so that we can truly see. When we are able to do that, we will truly be able to love our enemies, pray for those who persecute us, and love our neighbour as ourselves.

18 Nov 2012

Prayer
Help us, Lord, to keep focussed on you and be ready, for we know not the day or the hour when we may be called from this life

Bible Passage

Mark 13:24-32
Jesus said to his disciples:
"In those days after that tribulation
the sun will be darkened,
and the moon will not give its light,
and the stars will be falling from the sky,
and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.

"And then they will see 'the Son of Man coming in the clouds'
with great power and glory,
and then he will send out the angels
and gather his elect from the four winds,
from the end of the earth to the end of the sky.

"Learn a lesson from the fig tree.
When its branch becomes tender and sprouts leaves,
you know that summer is near.
In the same way, when you see these things happening,
know that he is near, at the gates.
Amen, I say to you,
this generation will not pass away
until all these things have taken place.
Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away.

"But of that day or hour, no one knows,
neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."

Reflection

As we rush about trying to make a name for ourselves, or trying to make our fortune, it is far too easy to lose sight of our purpose. We are hear to display God's glory, to be God's hands, God's voice, and to show God's compassion to those we meet. Now is the time when we must do those things, because for what we put off today, there may be no tomorrow. Therefore, now is the time to be channels of God's love.

17 Nov 2012

Prayer
Lord, strengthen our faith and help us to pray without ceasing

Bible Passage

Luke 18:1-8
Jesus told his disciples a parable
about the necessity for them to pray always without becoming weary.
He said, "There was a judge in a certain town
who neither feared God nor respected any human being.
And a widow in that town used to come to him and say,
'Render a just decision for me against my adversary.'
For a long time the judge was unwilling, but eventually he thought,
'While it is true that I neither fear God nor respect any human being,
because this widow keeps bothering me
I shall deliver a just decision for her
lest she finally come and strike me.'"
The Lord said, "Pay attention to what the dishonest judge says.
Will not God then secure the rights of his chosen ones
who call out to him day and night?
Will he be slow to answer them?
I tell you, he will see to it that justice is done for them speedily.
But when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?"

Reflection

Often when we pray, we give up easily. We ask God for something once and feel we didn't get it, so we are inclined to give up on God.
This reading encourages us to persist in prayer; to indicate that we are in earnest.
Of course, how effective our prayer will be depends not only on our persistence, but on whether we are asking for what is good.
God loves us and wants what is best for us, so we must persist and trust in His Love.

16 Nov 2012

Prayer
Help us, Lord, to get our priorities right

Bible Passage

Luke 17:26-37
Jesus said to his disciples:
"As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be in the days of the Son of Man;
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage up to the day
that Noah entered the ark,
and the flood came and destroyed them all.
Similarly, as it was in the days of Lot:
they were eating, drinking, buying,
selling, planting, building;
on the day when Lot left Sodom,
fire and brimstone rained from the sky to destroy them all.
So it will be on the day the Son of Man is revealed.
On that day, someone who is on the housetop
and whose belongings are in the house
must not go down to get them,
and likewise one in the field
must not return to what was left behind.
Remember the wife of Lot.
Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it,
but whoever loses it will save it.
I tell you, on that night there will be two people in one bed;
one will be taken, the other left.
And there will be two women grinding meal together;
one will be taken, the other left."
They said to him in reply, "Where, Lord?"
He said to them, "Where the body is,
there also the vultures will gather."

Reflection

It is so easy these days to get caught up in the many things of this world.
We are bombarded with advertisements seeking to show us how important the latest thing is, but if we pause and rest in the Lord, we know it isn't.
The reading gives us pause, and challenges us to look beyond ourselves to the things that are really important: faith, hope and love.