Friday, June 30, 2017

Summer Sabbath time; the pause that refreshes

Morning: Psalm 102; I Samuel 9:1-14; Acts 7:17-29
Evening: Psalm 107:1-32; Luke 22:31-38

Becoming human – becoming ourselves – is demanding work, full of trials.  We can easily betray ourselves, and others.  But, paradoxically, if we are ready to learn from hardships, they can bring new wisdom and lead us back to ourselves.  

Friends, I would betray myself, and you, if I did not take time to rest and renew my spirit.  The summer season invites us all into rest and restoration, so I will accept summer’s invitation and let go of a few things during July and August.  “Reawakening” will pause now until September. May your summer days be blessed.

Graham

Thursday, June 29, 2017

God shows no partiality

Morning: Psalm 66; Ezekiel 2:1-7; Acts 11:1-18
Evening: Psalm 97, 138; Isaiah 49:1-6; Galatians 2:1-9

In every age, prophets rise up to speak the truth to those who are living a lie. Prophets typically suffer challenge and criticism from those whom they might expect to support them – perhaps because they are too liberal or because they are responding to the needs of people from outside the group.  But truth cannot be imprisoned by race or religion or any other constraint … truth is universal. Peter and Paul (it is their day today) both knew that God shows no partiality and they served that ideal to the death.

Graham

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Love overflows

Morning: Psalm 101, 109; I Samuel 7:2-17; Acts 6:1-15
Evening: Psalm 119:121-144; Luke 22:14-23

Jesus took / blessed / broke / shared Bread and Cup, and his own life, as if to say: Receive everything as Gift, what you have and who you are, your whole life … Own that you are Blessed, “Blessed are you”; be a blessing to others … Break open your life, do not keep it closed off … Savour this indescribable Gift, the gift of a heart broken open (not broken, but broken open) to Love.  Then you cannot help sharing … Love overflows.

Graham

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Love is often threatened but cannot be controlled

Morning: Psalm 97, 99; I Samuel 6:1-16; Acts 5:27-42
Evening: Psalm 94, 95; Luke 21:37-22:13

Those who challenge governments are often arrested, imprisoned, even executed. Jesus, who taught about love, and Peter and John, who followed him, were brought before the authorities charged with stirring up trouble.  They had encouraged people to follow the ways of love and justice; this scared the authorities.  Governments want people of faith under their ‘protection’ (read ‘thumb’) so they can control the message of faith until it sounds more like the government’s message than a message of love and justice.  Religious institutions, concerned about their power, may succumb to such control, but Love will always resist it.

Graham

Monday, June 26, 2017

Keep awake

Morning: Psalm 89:1-18; I Samuel 5:1-12; Acts 5:12-26
Evening: Psalm 89:19-52; Luke 21:29-36

Apocalyptic writing deals with the ‘end times’. On a personal level, we are preoccupied with life after death; on a cosmic level, the ‘end of the world’.  Since death is real, we cannot help wondering how everything will turn out.  Yet it is not wise to be overly preoccupied with these questions.  Instead, says Jesus, ‘be alert’, and ‘stay awake’; live consciously. To live unconsciously is not to know what moves you – it is like death.  But while I have life, I really want to live it to the fullest. Don’t you?  Let the next life take care of itself.

Graham

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Real life is what we know, but turned on its head

Morning: Psalm 66, 67; I Samuel 4:12-22; James 1:1-18
Evening: Psalm 19, 46; Matthew 19:23-30

Listen to these counter-cultural messages from Jesus, all in 8 verses: << It is hard for a rich person to live in God’s way. What is impossible for mortals is possible for God. If you loosen your grip on everything, your life will be richer. The first will be last and the last will be first. >> We think we have lived in a Christian society for hundreds of years.  In truth, our world has scarcely begun to hear Jesus’ teaching ... that we really live when we are no longer attached to our passions or our things.

Graham

Saturday, June 24, 2017

John the Baptist; prophet of the real

Saturday June 24th – John the Baptist; prophet of the real
Morning: Psalm 82, 98; Malachi 3:1-5; John 3:22-30
Evening: Psalm 80; Malachi 4:1-6; Matthew 11:2-19

Laurence Olivier, when asked why theatres are full and churches not, said: “We (actors) make fables appear real; you (Christians) make what is real seem like a fable.”  John the Baptist declared that truth was being subverted in his society.  He pointed to Jesus, who would call humankind back to reality, back to truth: “He (Jesus) must increase; I must decrease.” John was a realist who knew his purpose and his limits.  John invites us to ask ourselves, ‘Do I live what is real, and tell it like it is? Or am I living a fable, imagining that it’s real?’

Graham

Friday, June 23, 2017

By your endurance, you will gain your souls

Morning: Psalm 88; I Samuel 3:1-21; Luke 21:5-19
Evening: Psalm 103; Luke 1:5-23

Following Jesus was illegal at first, but in 313, Constantine decreed tolerance for Christianity.  Now Jesus’ message judges those who wield power unjustly.  Not without reason, Jesus said, “People will hate you because of my name.”  Today, the unholy alliance between the gospel and worldly power is crumbling. Christians are re-discovering that the Way of Jesus obliges us to challenge unjust power.  Living free from the protection of the state allows and calls for greater authenticity and honesty, but it also demands courage and endurance.  After 1700 years in exile, Christianity is finding its soul again; Christians are too.
Graham

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Care for the vulnerable, and practice generosity

Morning: Psalm 34; I Samuel 2:27-36; Acts 2:37-47
Evening: Psalm 91, 92; Luke 20:41-21:4

Jesus reserved his sternest warnings for those who took advantage of the vulnerable. Particular care should be given to strangers, orphans and widows. But the scribes hypocritically pretended to be pious – sitting in full view in the synagogue and saying long prayers – while bilking widows out of what little they had.  In contrast, Jesus praises the generosity of the widow who gives much more, proportionately, than the rich.  Such generosity became the hallmark of the early Church. By the practice of sacrificial generosity, the community grew in strength and in numbers.

Graham

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

In the end, life

Morning: Psalm 119:97-120; I Samuel 2:12-26; Acts 2:1-21
Evening: Psalm 81, 82; Luke 20:27-40

What happens when we die?  We’re uncertain enough about it that there’s a whole industry devoted to putting it off as long as possible. They tried to tie Jesus in knots with questions about who would be married to whom in the after-life.  Jesus bid them not to speculate about what he suggested is a totally different reality.  He simply affirmed that God is God of the living not of the dead.  For Jesus, life is our final destiny, not death.  The details are beyond us and need not occupy our energies.

Graham

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

It’s never that simple

Morning: Psalm 78:1-39; I Samuel 1:21-2:11; Acts 1:15-26
Evening: Psalm 78:40-72; Luke 20:19-26

We sometimes make “suckers’ choices” out of life’s necessary decisions, saying things like, “You have to decide: is it this or that?”  They did that with Jesus, asking whether the Jewish people, who were subject to Roman occupation, should pay taxes to the emperor or not.  Jesus’ response suggested that choices are never that simple.  Both obligations may be valid. “Give to the emperor (Caesar) what is the emperor’s and to God what belongs to God.”  When someone presents you with an impossible choice, there is often a third option … that both are not only possible but necessary.

Graham

Monday, June 19, 2017

The stone the builders rejected is the cornerstone

Morning: Psalm 80; I Samuel 1:1-20; Acts 1:1-14
Evening: Psalm 77, 79; Luke 20:9-19

It’s good to stand on rock. And the foundational values on which the world stands are as immoveable as rock.  Of course, some people will oppose them for their own benefit – but hatred is no match for love, greed cannot overwhelm justice, and compassion transcends meanness. Jesus called the world back to these foundations – love, justice and mercy.  Though he suffered and died to uphold these values, he knew they were the only foundation that would not fail.  For some of us, Jesus has become the foundation, our cornerstone that will not fail, our rock.

Graham

Sunday, June 18, 2017

And so … become yourself

Morning: Psalm 93, 96; Numbers 6:22-27; Revelation 15:1-8
Evening: Psalm 34; Matthew 18:1-14

Crosby, Stills & Nash said it for Father’s Day: teach your children and your parents well.  What must we teach one another?  Just this - become yourself.  Have you noticed how wise persons attend to children?  They have learned what Jesus taught … Children do not stroke your ego; you can learn humility with them. They are themselves. Children know what really matters and how you should spend your time. No wonder Jesus warned us to protect children … they are doorways into the really real world. Children do not care who is important; they care only who is real.

Graham

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Who do think you are?

Morning: Psalm 75, 76; Numbers 3:1-13; 2 Corinthians 13:1-14
Evening: Psalm 23, 27; Luke 20:1-8

“Who do you think you are!?” People ask this either to assert their authority or to question someone else’s. True authority needs no defence; it rings true. It is found wherever truth is the ‘author’ of a life.  When they challenged Jesus’ authority, he showed them that they were asking the wrong question. The right question may be one I must ask myself: “Who do I think I am?” If I think of myself with humility and honesty, my life will have authority.  Then I won’t worry about where you get your authority; I will know.

Graham

Friday, June 16, 2017

Jesus wept

Morning: Psalm 69; Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:14; 2 Corinthians 12:11-21
Evening: Psalm 73; Luke 19:41-48

When I was a boy, “Jesus wept!” was a curse.  Later, I discovered Jesus actually did weep when he stood overlooking Jerusalem and its temple.  He wept for the terrible state of the city’s civic and spiritual life. He lamented that Jerusalem had not found the path to peace. He grieved that the temple had lost its moral compass and become a marketplace instead of a centre for spiritual renewal.  Do you think the state of our modern cities and temples would make Jesus weep?  So what would Jesus do next?  Sometimes that old cliché is a good question.

Graham

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Whenever I am weak, then I am strong

Morning: Psalm 71; Ecclesiastes 11:1-18; 2 Corinthians 12:1-10
Evening: Psalm 74; Luke 19:28-40

After describing his weaknesses, Paul makes his famous declaration, “whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”  This is as counter-cultural now as it was then.  Paul knew that the people had expected their Messiah to be a warrior, perhaps a military leader.  Instead, God’s power showed itself, in Jesus, through a humble human life.  Those who practice and preach non-violence – like Gandhi and King – show that raw power is ultimately no match for human vulnerability and authenticity.  They realize that you have to decide … whether to pretend you are strong or whether, being weak, to trust Love’s power.

Graham

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

You think you’ve got problems!

Morning: Psalm 72; Deuteronomy 31:30-32:14; 2 Corinthians 11:21b-33
Evening: Psalm 119:73-96; Luke 19:11-27
Writing to the Corinthians, St. Paul goes on a rant that any empathetic listener would be ashamed of - Paul himself admits he sounds like a madman.  He goes on about all the terrible things he has suffered. It’s reminiscent of the three Yorkshiremen in Monty Python one-upping one another about who had the worst childhood.  Why? Paul says it’s to show how in his weakness he had to depend on God.  And God always came through for him.  It’s as if Paul’s saying, “You think you’ve got problems!  Make sure you don’t just depend on yourself for answers.”

Graham

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

For those of us who have lost our way

Morning: Psalm 61, 62; Deuteronomy 30:11-20; 2 Corinthians 11:1-21a
Evening: Psalm 68; Luke 19:1-10
If I had a penny for every person I have heard miss the point and say, “I’m not good enough to be a Christian,” I’d be as wealthy as Zaccheus, the tax collector.  Remember him? Jesus invited himself to Zaccheus’ house.  Jesus’ entire mission was to those who say, with Dante, “In the middle of the journey of our life, I came to myself, in a dark wood, where the direct way was lost.” Distracted or preoccupied, our lives become self-centred.  We are exactly the ones Jesus wants to reach, with the message: “I love you. I can help.”

Graham

Monday, June 12, 2017

Small, faithful actions make a big difference

Morning: Psalm 15, 67; Job 29:1-16; Acts 4:32-37
Evening: Psalm 19, 146; Acts 9:26-31
Today the Church remembers Barnabas, who sold a field and gave the proceeds to the apostles.  This was in keeping with their revolutionary practice of holding possessions in common.  Barnabas gave his property to serve the common good.  Later, he brought to the apostles a man named Saul, who had persecuted Christians. Barnabas vouched for him.  Saul, as Paul, spread the message of Jesus throughout the known world.  So indirectly, Barnabas’ acts of faithfulness changed the world.  May Barnabas inspire us, too, to the small acts of faithfulness that make more of a difference than we can ever imagine.

Graham

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The many faces of God; the many faces of humanity

Morning: Psalm 146, 147; Job 38:1-11; 42:1-5; Ephesians 4:1-16
Evening: Psalm 111, 112, 113; John 1:1-18
Anthropologists report evidence of human life in Morocco 300,000 years ago, earlier than previously thought.  We humans want to understand our origins. That quest has given birth to a multi-faceted universe of faiths that reflects the many faces of our humanity.  Christians believe that Jesus showed us God’s face in a human life.  We still struggle to understand this mystery, the mystery of Creation, the mystery of all life, the mystery of human diversity and of how we need one another to be complete. We are learning slowly that, in our diversity, we are one.  And God is one.

Graham

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Have childlike trust; get things in perspective

Morning: Psalm 55; Deuteronomy 29:2-15; 2 Corinthians 9:1-15
Evening: Psalm 104; Luke 18:15-35
Jesus teaches about the ‘Kingdom of God’; this is about being in good relationships with people now, not in some other-worldly future realm.  Child-like trust fosters good relationships.  Being unattached to wealth allows you to see everyone as your equal and potential friend.  But, as Jesus jokingly said, it is easier to get a camel through the ‘eye of a needle’ (this was a narrow opening into a public area where no camels could pass, only people) than to be aware of the dangers of riches. Wealth can damage relationships when we trust things more than people.

Graham

Friday, June 9, 2017

All who exalt themselves will be humbled

Morning: Psalm 40, 54; Deuteronomy 26:1-11; 2 Corinthians 8:16-24
Evening: Psalm 51; Luke 18:9-14
Speaking ill of someone or making unfavourable comparisons between them and yourself is a way of praising yourself and putting them down. It is another version of “I’m so grateful I’m not like them.” The Book of Proverbs suggests that: “Pride goes before a fall.”  In other words, and ironically, by building yourself up – by worrying about your reputation and status – you guarantee your own fall.  By practicing humility, on the other hand, you assure your own greatness … except you won’t care about it.

Graham

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Prayer makes just the one who prays for Justice

Morning: Psalm 50; Deut 16:18-20;17:14-20; 2 Corinthians 8:1-16
Evening: Psalm 8, 84; Luke 18:1-8
Paul urges Christians to act generously in the cause of human justice and fairness. Jesus says God will grant justice to those who pray for it. This happens in surprising ways … Prayer is not just asking for whatever you want; prayer is aligning yourself with God’s desire for justice.  When you do, justice happens, through you. When you ask God for justice, God calls you to be generous. Then you are the one who makes the prayer come true … by your actions.  Prayer is no spectator sport … God changes the world by changing the one who prays.

Graham

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Relax, the boss has been here all along!

Morning: Psalm 119:49-72; Deuteronomy 13:1-11; 2 Corinthians 7:2-16
Evening: Psalm 49; Luke 17:20-37
Did you ever hear someone say, “Look busy, the boss is coming”?  Or, “There’s an inspection tomorrow.  Make sure everything’s shipshape”?  It’s almost like, “I’d do that if I could get away with it.”  It’s similar to the theology that thinks God is watching you to catch you out in some kind of misdemeanor.  But Jesus counters that when he says, “The kingdom of God is among you.”  In other words, if you were going to catch it, you would already be in trouble.  Something else must be happening … Maybe God really loves you after all.  Imagine!

Graham

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

To be well is to live gratefully

Morning: Psalm 45; Deuteronomy 12:1-12; 2 Corinthians 6:3-7:1
Evening: Psalm 47, 48; Luke 17:11-19
Ten lepers are healed when they encounter Jesus, but only one of them comes back to him to give thanks. Jesus asks where the others are.  He wonders why they did not also come back to give thanks.  Then he says to the one who did show gratitude: “Go your way, your faith has made you well.”  You get the feeling that faith makes you well in more than physical ways … as if gratitude is itself a sign of wellness … as if to be well is to live gratefully.

Graham

Monday, June 5, 2017

God entrusted to us the message of reconciliation

Morning: Psalm 41, 52; Deuteronomy 11:13-19; 2 Corinthians 5:11-6:2
Evening: Psalm 44; Luke 17:1-10
What is Christians’ work in the world? Jesus said, “blessed are the peacemakers.” St. Paul affirms that, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself.  The human world is off-balance, broken and fractious, fraught with squabbles and conflicts. This world needs peace and reconciliation, forgiveness and faith.  The connection is clear … disciples of Jesus are peacemakers for this broken world.  Their work, in the power of the Spirit, is reconciliation.  There is much of it to be done close to home.  And that’s always a good place to start.  All the virtues begin at home.

Graham

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Spirit will teach you everything

Morning: Psalm 118; Isaiah 11:1-9; I Corinthians 2:1-13
Evening: Psalm 145; John 14:21-29
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote that each person should be self-reliant, avoid conformity, and follow his or her own instincts and ideas. "A foolish consistency,” he says, “is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines.” Emerson believed that spirituality requires conformity.  But Jesus taught that the Spirit of God guides us in each and every new circumstance.  Conformity does not work when the Spirit is involved.  There is but one prescription … Love God and the Spirit will teach you everything you need.  Self-reliance may be an unreliable goal.  God made us a communal species.

Graham

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Good or Evil? You have to choose

Morning: Psalm 107:33-43; 108:1-6; Hebrews 9:1-14; Luke 11:14-23
Evening: Psalm 33; Exodus 19:3-8a, 16-20; I Peter 2:4-10
Some accused Jesus of using evil to combat evil.  They said he was an agent of evil.  But, Jesus pointed out, if he were evil’s agent, evil would be divided against itself, and a kingdom divided against itself cannot stand.  Evil cannot defeat evil. When evil is defeated – and we all know instances of that – it is by the power of goodness. God is at work everywhere in the world.  And this much is clear … you cannot be both for God and against God. You have to choose.

Graham

Friday, June 2, 2017

Only one thing is necessary; live in this moment

Morning: Psalm 102; Ezekiel 34:17-31; Hebrews 8:1-13
Evening: Psalm 107:1-32; Luke 10:38-42
Why would Jesus praise Mary for sitting at his feet, while chiding Martha for fussing in the kitchen?  He declared that only one thing was necessary, and Mary had chosen it.  Meaning perhaps, “Martha, do come and sit down. That’s all I need right now.”  This does not value the active life less than the contemplative life, as some suggest.  Priorities change with circumstances.  When you invite others in, your hunger for community may be greater than your appetite for food.  Attend to one another first.  You can prepare food later.  For now, rest here with them, in this moment.

Graham

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The quality of mercy

Morning: Psalm 105:1-22; Ezekiel 18:1-4, 19-32; Hebrews 7:18-28
Evening: Psalm 105:23-45; Luke 10:25-37
Jesus teaches often about fullness of life.  The Gospel calls it “eternal life.”  Some imagine this means a life that goes on forever.  But would Jesus really want to make us long for something unattainable, even undesirable?  Instead, I think Jesus is teaching that eternal life is the way of being human that will ultimately prevail.  It is living well.  Jesus wants us to see that being a neighbour in deeds of mercy, even to strangers, is the way to really live.  Mercy lasts forever.  Shakespeare wrote that mercy “is an attribute to God himself.”  And God is eternal.

Graham

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

He must increase; I must decrease

Morning: Psalm 72; I Samuel 1:1-20; Hebrews 3:1-6
Evening: Psalm 146, 147; Zechariah 2:10-13; John 3:25-30
On the spiritual journey, the person who most often challenges our progress to maturity and wisdom is the first person singular. The ‘I’ may try to take control and can block our way forward.  It’s the person we mean when we say things like, “get over yourself.”  Some writers call it the ‘ego’ or ‘false self’.  Now I suspect John the Baptist was not particularly “full of himself” (there’s another example), because he recognized his need to make way for Jesus.  Some of us, though, may need to “let ourselves go” (one more example) so God can guide our path.

Graham

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Jesus: the promise fulfilled

Morning: Psalm 97, 99; Ezekiel 7:10-15, 23b-27; Hebrews 6:13-20
Evening: Psalm 132; Isaiah 11:1-10; Luke 10:1-17
Isaiah prophesies a new reality: “A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse ... The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might … They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.”  They thought of Jesus in relation to these words and believed that in him the promise was fulfilled.

Graham

Monday, May 29, 2017

Which family will take priority?

Morning: Psalm 89:1-18; Ezekiel 4:1-17; Hebrews 6:1-12
Evening: Psalm 89:19-52; Luke 9:51-62
Would-be followers ask Jesus’ indulgence - to bury their father (i.e. wait until their father dies) or to say farewell to people at home first.  He responds: “let the dead bury their own dead” and “no-one who puts a hand to the plough and turns back is fit for the kingdom of God.” Strong words!  What’s his point?  Perhaps this … Choosing to follow Jesus demands we be clear; we may need to put some priorities ahead of our immediate family.  Jesus’ devotion is always to the well being of the whole human family – all his sisters and brothers. 

Graham

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Lose yourself for the sake of Love … find yourself

Morning: Psalm 66, 67; Ezekiel 3:16-27; Ephesians 2:1-10
Evening: Psalm 19, 46; Matthew 10:24-42
Jesus is so refreshingly counter-cultural, still.  After centuries of building church and society on his precepts, our world is still so far from his ideal; frankly, it’s amazing.  If you lose your life for Love’s sake (he says “for my sake” but I think Love is what he means) you will save your life.  In other words, if you approach life with gentleness, with openness, with generosity of spirit, you will be truly alive.  It’s about trust … When we are able to live in trust, rolling with life’s ups and downs, we will find grace and freedom.

Graham

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The least among you is the greatest

Morning: Psalm 87, 90; Ezekiel 3:4-17; Hebrews 5:7-14
Evening: Psalm 136; Luke 9:37-50
Why do we compete with one another – for wealth, for honour, for power, for recognition, for love?  We get caught believing that having these things will make us great.  The disciples even argue about who will be the best at casting out demons!  Jesus says, in effect, evil is evil and if we’re against it, we’re all on the same side. The disciples could not even distinguish good from evil because they were prone to rely on their own power rather than on God.  Greatness lies in welcoming the vulnerable child because in her we welcome God. 

Graham

Friday, May 26, 2017

Have you listened yet to Jesus?

Morning: Psalm 85, 86; Ezekiel 1:28-3:3; Hebrews 4:14-5:6
Evening: Psalm 91, 92; Luke 9:28-36
Communication in our culture mostly means talking or telling or typing.  Rarely does communication mean listening.  We do not place a high value on listening.  That’s why prayer is undervalued; prayer is mostly listening, yet we prefer to talk.  Even in prayer we prefer words over silence.  But the only way to listen is to be quiet.  A remarkable event on the mountaintop is reported in the Gospels – Jesus face shines as he prays and his disciples hear a voice say, “This is my Son, my Chosen, listen to him.” Have we listened yet?  Have you listened yet to Jesus?

Graham

Thursday, May 25, 2017

He became like us so we could become like him

Morning: Psalm 8, 47; Ezekiel 1:1-14, 24-28b; Hebrews 2:5-18
Evening: Psalm 24, 96; Matthew 28:16-20
The time came for Jesus to entrust his work to his disciples and to us. What is this work?  He said it was to “make disciples”.  Typically, a disciple becomes like his master.  But Jesus first became like us.  He endured suffering and death in order to destroy death’s power over us.  He became like us so we could become like him.  Jesus became fully human, so we too must become ourselves.  The power of death is our inhumanity – it is strongest when we are not ourselves.  Jesus calls us to be fully human too, and thereby to be free.

Graham

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Strive without anxiety

Morning: Psalm 119:97-120; James 5:13-18; Luke 12:22-31
Evening: Psalm 68:1-20; 2 Kings 2:1-15; Revelation 5:1-14
“Do not worry about your life.” Jesus teaches his disciples that we can trust God.  Instead of worrying, he says, strive for God’s kingdom, and everything else will be given to you as well.  The kingdom is where all live in God’s ways.  We strive to realize it in our relationships with one another.  This does not mean we build the Kingdom ourselves, but we trust that God will help us to bring it about. It is the tender balance of our action with God’s.  We pray, “Thy Kingdom come.”  But, being made in God’s image, we’ll help with that.

Graham

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Every generous act of giving is from above

Morning: Psalm 78:1-39; Deuteronomy 8:11-20; James 1:16-27
Evening: Psalm 78:40-72; Leviticus 26:1-20; Luke 11:1-13
Jesus taught his disciples the prayer we know as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’.  It praises God and invites God’s rule on earth.  It asks for just four things – daily bread, forgiveness, the ability to forgive others and deliverance from evil.  Jesus wants us to live generously.  We are to pray for one another and not only for ourselves, saying, “give us”, “forgive us as we forgive” and “deliver us.” Jesus promises, too, that God will give the Holy Spirit to all who ask.  Those who ask for the Holy Spirit want to live generously. If we truly want that, it’s ours!

Graham

Monday, May 22, 2017

How will I spend my life?

Morning: Psalm 80; Deuteronomy 8:1-10; James 1:1-15
Evening: Psalm 77; Leviticus 25:35-55; Luke 9:18-27
After revealing himself as the Messiah, Jesus said, unexpectedly, that he must suffer and die; but he would be raised on the third day.  His followers must be ready to face hardship too, and to offer their lives in service to God’s ways. If we spend our lives generously serving God’s purposes, Jesus says we will live full lives. But if we are stingy with our lives, then we won’t really be living. Poet Mary Oliver asks: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”  What question could be more important?

Graham

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Start small and keep going

Morning: Psalm 93, 96; Leviticus 25:1-17; I Timothy 3:14 – 4:5
Evening: Psalm 34; Matthew 13:24-34a
As if once were enough, people say, “I tried it once but it didn’t work.” Inhuman notions of success drive our culture.  We expect rapid, unnatural growth in everything. If what you initiate isn’t bearing fruit by next week, it’s ‘forget it’.  Or when a problem surfaces, ‘try something else, right?’  Jesus parables, though, speak of slow, natural growth.  Seedlings have to compete with weeds but they’ll be alright come harvest.  Trust in tiny mustard seeds; plant something small - watch amazing things happen.  Taste how yeast leavens dough.  Good things may begin small and grow slowly.  Keep planting.  Persevere.

Graham

Saturday, May 20, 2017

In healthy communities, no-one goes hungry

Morning: Psalm 75, 76; Leviticus 23:23-44; Romans 15:1-13
Evening: Psalm 23, 27; Luke 9:1-17
Jesus’ miracles – like the feeding of the 5000 – taught people about community, and the healing of relationships.  In healthy human communities, the strong support the weak, all are welcome, none suffer isolation; hospitality is the rule.  What is hospitality in a crowd of 5000?  Perhaps simply this … Those who have food share with those who have none, so all are fed.  Jesus gave his disciples authority over evil, and power to heal.  Hunger is a sign of brokenness, even evil, in human communities. When communities are healed, the miracle is that no-one goes hungry.

Graham

Friday, May 19, 2017

Our gifts are to bless others with

Morning: Psalm 106:1-18; Leviticus 23:1-22; Romans 14:13-23
Evening: Psalm 106:19-48; Luke 8:40-56
Jesus the healer appeals to me … he heals quietly, without fanfare, unlike some religious healers who are full of themselves and their own noise.  Jesus knows his own power, but he uses it sparingly, kindly and wisely. For him, healing is often about restoring isolated people to community. God gives spiritual gifts to us so that we may use them for the benefit of others. The gift of healing is like that – all gifts are. We betray God if we think our gifts make us better than others. On the contrary, they are to bless others with.

Graham

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Sometimes you just gotta laugh

Morning: Psalm 71; Leviticus 19:26-37; Romans 14:1-12
Evening: Psalm 74; Luke 8:26-39
Reading Scriptures daily (I hope you will be inspired to) can make you wonder, “Huh?”  St. Paul writes: “Some people believe in eating anything while the weak eat only vegetables.” In the Gospel, Jesus casts demons into pigs; they run off a cliff.  We could argue about what it all means, but “quarreling over opinions” will not help. Maybe the Spirit would rather we smile at life’s apparent craziness, and laugh in the face of our demons; it’s easier than trying to explain these things.  And anyway, in the struggle with evil, I suspect evil cannot bear being laughed at.

Graham

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Pay attention to how you listen

Morning: Psalm 72; Leviticus 19:1-18; Romans 13:1-14
Evening: Psalm 119:73-96; Luke 8:16-25
Jesus says, “pay attention to how you listen.”  What an important part of his message this is.  It’s so easy to listen with your own answer running; or to assume you know what’s coming. The way we hear depends on the assumptions we bring to our listening.  Sometimes, though, it’s vital to have a filter through which to listen. Paul says, “be subject to the ruling authorities”; then, he says, “owe no-one anything but to love one another.”  In other words, authority that does not serve love is questionable.  Listen with the ears of love.

Graham

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Is it worth the effort? Yes, good overcomes evil

Morning: Psalm 61, 62; Leviticus 16:20-34; Romans 12:1-21
Evening: Psalm 68:1-36; Luke 8:1-15
When you did your best and it didn’t work out, was it worthwhile? Jesus’ parable of the sower invites us not to lose heart.  Some of our best efforts may fall by the wayside, but St. Paul bids us to be good news for one another ... love one another genuinely; hold fast to the good; rejoice in hope; be patient in suffering; persevere in prayer; be hospitable to strangers; rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep; live in harmony; care for your enemies; do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Graham

Monday, May 15, 2017

What if the lot falls on me?

Morning: Psalm 80; I Samuel 16:1-13; I John 2:18-25
Evening: Psalm 33; I Samuel 12:1-5; Acts 20:17-35
Matthias, whose day it is today, was the Apostle chosen to replace Judas. “Apostle” means “one who is sent”.  We know nothing about Matthias.  We do know, though … Apostles serve humbly, endure trials, speak boldly about God’s ways, and are self-sufficient and generous. The ones we might think are the most obvious choices to become apostles may not be God’s choices. David was just a boy when he was anointed to be King. Don’t expect that God will pick someone else just because you’re not the obvious choice.  Matthias and David were probably surprised, too, but they said “Yes!”

Graham

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Do to others as you would have them do to you

Morning: Psalm 24, 29; Leviticus 8:1-13, 30-36; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17
Evening: Psalm 8, 84; Matthew 7:7-14
Our culture is obsessed with novelty. New is better. If something’s older than a year or two, it’s out of date.  When Paul says, “hold fast to the traditions that you were taught,” he sounds deeply counter-cultural.  But we have known for millennia how to live wisely. There are timeless spiritual traditions to which most humans still hold fast. Some of them will never become obsolete. The most well-known of them all may be Jesus’ saying: “Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Let me know if you find something newer and better than that.

Graham

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Hope may be hope for the wrong thing

Morning: Psalm 55; Exodus 40:18-38; Colossians 3:12-17
Evening: Psalm 138, 139:1-17; Luke 7:18-35
Ever had your hopes dashed? Our expectations about how God should act shape how we respond to events.  Some of us think God should do as we expect and complain when something else happens.  Or we say that just ‘proves’ God doesn’t exist.  This is why TS Eliot wrote, “Wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing.”  Eliot did not deny hope; he simply wanted hope to be more than wishful thinking, grounded in patient trust. Jesus and John the Baptist defied people’s expectations.  Did that prove them false? Check – are your expectations misplaced?

Graham

Friday, May 12, 2017

God is with us, making all things new

Morning: Psalm 40, 54; Exodus 34:18-35; Colossians 3:1-11
Evening: Psalm 51; Luke 7:1-17
Moralizing doesn’t work because ‘being good’ doesn’t excite us – we know inside that we cannot be good by our own hard work.  To find the good life, we need inner transformation, and that comes from the presence of God. Brother Lawrence, 17th century French monk, practiced ‘the presence of God’.  Through regular prayer, God became quietly present in his life. Jesus was called “God with us”, and his presence came to be known as a source of healing for those who trust him. God’s presence can transform my life, yes; more importantly, it is renewing everything. And that is exciting.
Graham

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Guard your heart … be extraordinary

Morning: Psalm 50; Exodus 34:1-17; Colossians 2:8-23
Evening: Psalm 114, 115; Luke 6:39-49
Sight and goodness are gifts of the heart more than eye or hand. Strength is about where you stand more than muscles. Our inner being determines how fruitful our lives will become.  When you are in captivity to the enticements and promises of the world, it’s easy to ‘lose heart’.  Now, the heart is an amazing organ – it guarantees physical life with a beat every second for decades if you guard it well!  Jesus teaches that by grounding your life on God, the rock, you guard your inner being and guarantee that your life will stand for something extraordinarily good.

Graham

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

No-one describes maturity better than Jesus

Morning: Psalm 119:49-72; Exodus 33:1-23; Colossians 1:24-2:7
Evening: Psalm 49; Luke 6:27-38
What is true maturity? No-one describes human maturity better than Jesus … “Love your enemies; do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone slaps you, stand there and take it; if anyone takes your coat, giftwrap your shirt for them too. No tit for tat behaviour. Live generously; do good, and lend; expect nothing in return; be merciful; do not judge; do not condemn. Forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and you will receive … the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”

Graham

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

God intends blessings, not woes or vengeance

Morning: Psalm 45; Exodus 32:21-34; Colossians 1:15-23
Evening: Psalm 47, 48; Luke 6:12-26
If you imagine God’s ways are like ours, you may think God punishes wrongdoing with vengeance.  But in Jesus “God was pleased to reconcile all things”.  Now Jesus still teaches that every life may have its share of blessings and woes. Woes follow naturally when some people, or nations, accumulate blessings that belong to others. When the balance is restored – eventually it will be – those who have enjoyed more than their share of blessings may later experience woe.  It’s only natural, because the world is made for equilibrium, justice for all. God intends blessings, not woes or vengeance.

Graham

Monday, May 8, 2017

Prayer keeps us from making idols of things

Morning: Psalm 41, 52; Exodus 32:1-20; Colossians 1:1-14
Evening: Psalm 44; Luke 6:1-11
Laws help govern human society.  Ironically, when Moses came down from Mount Sinai bearing stone tablets inscribed with new laws, the people had done with their gold what societies do with laws – make idols of them.  Which is why Jesus taught that Sabbath laws must not become idols that keep us from responding to human need, hunger or sickness.  For Paul, wisdom and understanding show us what is right; strength empowers us to do it; patience helps us to persevere, and these come from prayer.  Prayer connects us with God, which keeps us from making idols of laws and things.

Graham

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Cast all your anxieties on God; he cares for you

Morning: Psalm 63, 98; Exodus 28:1-4, 30-38; I Peter 5:1-11
Evening: Psalm 103; Matthew 7:15-29
Whom to trust?  Our world is in a crisis of trust.  When things are off-kilter, anxious people may follow authoritarian leaders who say they have the answers. Such leaders wield authority, but not humbly. Jesus, on the other hand, shows God’s way … he leads humbly and with authority. The Gospel teaches us to shun demagoguery and authoritarianism and to cast our anxieties on God. Humanly speaking, this means it is wise to choose leaders who balance authority with humility, those who themselves follow and reflect the way of Jesus.

Graham

Saturday, May 6, 2017

There is no other rock

Morning: Psalm 97, 98; Proverbs 8:22-30; John 13:20-35
Evening: Psalm 145; Isaiah 44:1-8; I John 5:1-12
There is no other rock but God, says Isaiah. Wisdom was God’s first creation, says Proverbs. “Everyone will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” says Jesus, in the Gospel of John, whose day it is today. Right after Judas betrays him, Jesus still trusts his disciples to love one another. God’s Love and Wisdom are forever, ‘like a rock’.

Graham

Friday, May 5, 2017

God can make it right

Morning: Psalm 105:1-22; Daniel 6:1-15; 2 John 1:1-13
Evening: Psalm 105:23-45; Luke 5:12-26
“Sin” is a little word that has gotten a bad rap. Some preachers use it to frighten people with God, to manipulate them into compliance and ‘belief’. But sin is not our little misdeeds; it is when we sever our relationship with God. God consistently reaches out, seeking to bridge the distance we have put between him and ourselves. In Jesus, God reaches out again, seeking our consent to heal what is broken.  Though we resist for a long, long time, in the moment we take God’s hand, God has the power to make it right between us, and does.

Graham

Thursday, May 4, 2017

To what does Jesus call you?

Morning: Psalm 37:1-18; Daniel 5:13-30; I John 5:13-20
Evening: Psalm 37:19-42; Luke 5:1-11
Fishing for people never appealed to me.  The song said we would become “fishers of men” if we followed Jesus.  This did not persuade me to want to follow him – I would not want to be ‘caught’; nor, I thought, would others.  But my imagination and heart, on the other hand, were captivated, even captured, by this mysterious man from Galilee.  Now, he used his fishers metaphor to call fishermen. He may call an engineer to build bridges to people’s hearts; an artist, to colour the world; a mother, to give birth to truth.  To what does Jesus call you?

Graham

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

This is God’s year to act, in us.

Morning: Psalm 38; Daniel 5:1-12; I John 5:1-12
Evening: Psalm 119:25-48; Luke 4:38-44
Last night some of us gathered for a meal.  We shared our satisfaction that our plan to unite with our sister church feels guided by the Spirit of God.  It is right to blend two churches, thereby forging a strong, united Christian community.  Jesus proclaimed good news to the poor, release for captives, sight for the blind, freedom for those who are oppressed. Then he declared, “This is God’s year to act!”  We believe this is God’s year to act in us, and we are glad.

Graham

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Evil is no match for Love

Morning: Psalm 26, 28; Daniel 4:28-37; I John 4:7-21
Evening: Psalm 36, 39; Luke 4:31-37
Jesus spoke with uncommon authority; he exorcized the evil powers that corrupt and destroy human life.  Such authority comes from the Most High, whose “works are truth” and whose “ways are justice.”  The power of evil in our lives can be daunting. Remember this, though … Jesus did not only command evil; he also commanded us.  He commanded us to Love.  Our obedience to Love will be enough for our struggle with evil – “those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.”  Evil thrives when Love falters.  But evil is no match for Love.

Graham

Monday, May 1, 2017

Workers of the world … persevere!

Morning: Psalm 119:137-160; Job 23:1-12; John 1:43-51
Evening: Psalm 139; Proverbs 4:7-18; John 12:20-26
Where I grew up, in grimy, industrial Manchester, May Day celebrated unity among the ordinary ‘workers of the world’. Today the Church remembers two ordinary worker saints, Philip and James. We know little or nothing about them, except that Philip introduced the curious to Jesus. The Jesus movement depends on the efforts of ordinary people who give themselves to their moment in history; simply and without fanfare, they invite others who are curious about Jesus to “come and see”. Humble tasks performed with grace are like seeds planted in the earth; they bear untold fruit.  So friend, persevere!

Graham

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Love my people & they will recognize me in you

Morning: Psalm 148, 149, 150; Daniel 4:1-18; I Peter 4:7-11
Evening: Psalm 114, 115; John 21:15-25
People think the resurrection of Jesus is ethereal, fantastic, otherworldly. Yet the risen Jesus appears earthy and real.  Still, the disciples recognize him only when he breaks bread with them.  The Gospel is teaching us that the risen Jesus is different … he is known now in the Church’s acts of sharing. Jesus told Peter to share his love by caring for his sheep. Loving Christian community is itself the risen Jesus!  And the risen Jesus is made known when his people share with others the simple necessities of life: “be hospitable, serve one another, love one another.”

Graham

Saturday, April 29, 2017

If you’re faithful, someone may turn up the heat

Morning: Psalm 20, 21:1-14; Daniel 3:19-30; I John 3:11-18
Evening: Psalm 110, 116, 117; Luke 4:1-13
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are famous examples of people getting heat for being faithful. The only way through heat like this is through it.  When you’re really on the side of Love, fear of the flames won’t stop you (whoever or whatever threatens you), because you must be true to Love. People of faith will inevitably be tested, perhaps by fire. Jesus in the wilderness did not allow temptations to make him forget Love or give in to fear.  So when they turn up the heat, remember … Love brought you here; Love will bring you through.

Graham

Friday, April 28, 2017

Sooner or later we need to decide what’s for real

Morning: Psalm 16, 17; Daniel 3:1-18; I John 3:1-10
Evening: Psalm 134, 135; Luke 3:15-22
Sooner or later, we must decide, whether to give our hearts to truth or idols.  This is not about religion. It’s about the false ‘gods’ we adore – wealth, money, fame, status, success, things; they are very nice to have!  Some idols are less obvious though – like the common notion that God punishes evil with evil. Is such a God real or false?  When the dove descended on Jesus and a voice spoke from heaven, the message was: ‘Jesus is for real’.  Sooner or later, when we decide about Jesus, our hearts will know the truth about God.

Graham

Thursday, April 27, 2017

We will not bring out the light alone

Morning: Psalm 18:1-20; Daniel 2:31-49; I John 2:18-29
Evening: Psalm 18:21-50; Luke 3:1-14
Daniel revealed to Nebuchadnezzar an eternal realm. Human mythology expresses a similar hope … Star Wars, The Wizard of Oz, Shangri-la, Atlantis, Lord of the Rings, Narnia, The Lion King, Utopia; new and better days are coming, good will triumph. We Shall Overcome Some Day.  These stories also admit that this bright future will depend not just on human efforts, but on a power from beyond.  John Baptist prepared “the way of the Lord”; he quoted Isaiah, “all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”  Explorer David Livingstone agreed: “God will bring out the light at last.”

Graham

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mysteries of Love revealed by Love

Morning: Psalm 119:1-24; Daniel 2:17-30; I John 2:12-17
Evening: Psalm 12, 13, 14; John 17:20-26
The world is full of mysteries. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon demanded someone explain his troublesome dreams. Daniel did, by relying on the wisdom and power of God.  Jesus’ disciples, even after three years with him, struggled to fathom the mystery of who he was.  He prayed that Love would lead them to integrity in their lives and harmony in their relationships.  His prayer was answered.  His disciples had seen the mystery of Love embodied in him, and that convinced them to go and teach that the love of things is a passing illusion, but God’s Love is real and lasting.

Graham

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

St. Mark and the work of an evangelist

Morning: Psalm 145; Acts 12:25-13:3
Evening: Psalm 67, 96; Isaiah 62:6-12; 2 Timothy 4:1-11
How many people have shaped my life?  How many people’s lives have I shaped?  My decisions, words and actions can make an important difference in the world. I find it amazing that the story Mark decided to write down has come through 100 generations.  It’s the ancient story of God’s Love, that we are “Not Forsaken.”  St. Mark felt compelled to pass it on.  Because of him, you and I know the story.  I could say, “So what!” and do nothing with it.  Better for me to wonder, “What now?” ... then take the story and pass it on again.

Graham

Monday, April 24, 2017

Integrity: nothing left to prove

Morning: Psalm 1, 2, 3; Daniel 1:1-21; I John 1:1-10
Evening: Psalm 4, 7; John 17:1-11
Jesus prayed for his disciples to be one, as God is One.  1. Firstly he wanted them to be at one within themselves … to be true to themselves instead of pursuing fanciful notions about themselves. Jesus wanted them to know God because then they would experience eternal life.  Eternal life is when you want to say: ‘Now this is living!’  2. Secondly, Jesus wanted the disciples to be at one with one another.  It’s easier to be at one with others if you are at one within yourself.  You have nothing left to prove.

Graham

Sunday, April 23, 2017

The Way, the Truth & the Life

Morning: Psalm 146, 147; Isaiah 43:8-13; I Peter 2:2-10
Evening: Psalm 111, 112, 113; John 14:1-7
Witnesses offer different descriptions of the same event. Jesus’ disciples describe him differently. When one witness thinks he has the whole truth, usually he’s wrong; truth is elusive. It’s troubling that some people make it exclusive when Jesus says: “no one comes to the Father except by me.” Many godly people in the world know little about Jesus, but they know a lot about what he embodies. Many commit themselves to the New Life Jesus brings without knowing Jesus directly.  The Spirit may show them the Way, the Truth and the Life without introducing them to Jesus.  It still counts.

Graham

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Plans formed of old, faithful and sure

Morning: Psalm 145; Isaiah 25:1-9; Acts 4:13-21
Evening: Psalm 104; John 16:16-33
‘Teddy the Mop’ was the affectionate name one of my professors gave to Theodore of Mopsuestia, a Syrian bishop of the early 400s.  My professor loved Teddy for saying: “The end will be like the beginning, only better!”  In Isaiah, the ‘end’ is a feast.  In Jesus, the ‘end’ is when he overcomes the world’s troubles. Peter and John, even under arrest, could not stop telling what they had seen and heard in Jesus. There is more to this world and to God’s faithful and sure plans for it than we can imagine.  Even in Syria, all will be well.

Graham

Friday, April 21, 2017

Do you believe in life before death?

Morning: Psalm 136; Daniel 12:1-4,13; Acts 4:1-12
Evening: Psalm 118; John 16:1-15
In uncertain and dark times, Jesus’ resurrection offers a promising horizon. But what is the promise?  The expectation of life beyond death is not new with Christianity; the radically new thing is the possibility of new life before you die.  Following Jesus is a this-worldly experience, not an other-worldly one.  It’s about immersion in life, not escaping from it.  Thus, in the stories about Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Spirit of God is central.  Jesus shows us God’s face; the Holy Spirit guarantees God is with us for ever, leading us into truth in the here and now.

Graham

Thursday, April 20, 2017

No greater love than to ‘lay down your life’

Morning: Psalm 146, 147; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Acts 3:11-26
Evening: Psalms 148, 149; John 15:12-27
Loving like Jesus means ‘laying down your life’ for your friends.  But you don’t have to die, literally. Rather, you make your life available to serve others.  You give up the need to control things, allow God to take hold of your life, allow the Spirit to move in you.  Quite the opposite of dying, this is really coming to life.  It’s a marvelous paradox of the Gospel … When you lay down your life, you come to life.  It’s what Jesus meant when he famously encouraged his disciples: “Those who lose their life for my sake will find it.”

Graham

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

When I fall, I shall rise

Morning: Psalms 97, 99; Micah 7:7-15; Acts 3:1-10
Evening: Psalm 115; John 15:1-11
Waiting on God gives me confidence of light in dark times, and strength so that “when I fall, I shall rise.”  It also helps me to strengthen my sisters and brothers.  The disciples believed they could heal exactly as Jesus sent them to do.  But they needed a strong connection with him.  Jesus called himself “the vine” and his disciples “the branches.”  Being grafted into the vine is being connected to the power of God.  That ensures I will seek whatever fits the needs of the Creation; and that is what it means to act “in Jesus’ name.”

Graham

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Love God and do what you will

Morning: Psalm 103; Isaiah 30:18-21; Acts 2:36-41
Evening: Psalm 111, 114; John 14:15-31
Little ‘voices’, like GPS, direct us. But Isaiah says the voice of God will direct us too, saying: “This is the way; walk in it.” Jesus, a bit differently, says: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” That sounds like our love for God will shape our decisions. But Jesus means much more – he means that when we love God we will walk in “the way” naturally because we are directed by the voice of the Spirit within. For this reason Saint Augustine said, “Love God and do what you will.”

Graham

Monday, April 17, 2017

Ask

Morning: Psalm 93, 98; Jonah 2:1-9; Acts 2:14, 22-32
Evening: Psalm 66; John 14:1-14
To act in someone’s name is to do as they would do. Jesus told his disciples that if they asked for anything in his name, it would be theirs. So if you ask for something that aligns with Jesus’ way, it will likely happen.  Jonah cried out to God not to abandon him, and to rescue him from the belly of the whale. The whale spewed Jonah up on dry land, which suggests God will not abandon anyone.  So if you are feeling abandoned, you can be pretty sure God will get you through it if you ask.

Graham

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter: Day of Resurrection

Morning: Psalm 148, 149, 150; Exodus 12:1-14; John 1:1-18
Evening: Psalm 113, 114; Isaiah 51:9-11; Luke 24:13-35
Since their deliverance from slavery in Egypt, Jews have celebrated Passover with unleavened bread, to recall their hasty flight through the Red Sea waters to new life. Christians pass through the waters too – in baptism – into a new way of life.  And Jesus made Passover bread and wine into a meal to remember him by.  Like the disciples Jesus met on the road to Emmaus, we may recognize Jesus’ presence when we break bread together. It doesn’t have to be communion, because every meal is sacred; every meal invites us to realize that God is with us.

Graham

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Holy Saturday … day between days, Sabbath

Morning: Psalm 88; Job 19:21-27a; Hebrews 4:1-16
Evening: Psalm 27; Romans 8:1-11
The Book of Job is a great human story of faith in God.  It declares God’s power over the power of death. Job, after terrible torment, proclaims, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and … in my flesh I shall see God.” This is a day between days, the Sabbath between Jesus’ death and resurrection.  It invites us always to seek rest and there to wait on God, trusting that there we will find life-giving grace and mercy.  Sabbath is time to allow God to be God and quit trying to do God’s work all by ourselves!

Graham

Summer Sabbath time; the pause that refreshes

Morning: Psalm 102 ; I Samuel 9:1-14; Acts 7:17-29 Evening: Psalm 107:1-32; Luke 22:31-38 Becoming human – becoming ourselves – is dem...