John’s Gospel & Truth(1)

John’s Gospel & Truth(1)

(Devotion by Ros McDonald)

Prayer: Prayer of Illumination

Truth-telling, wind-blowing, life-giving spirit -

we present ourselves now

for our instruction and guidance;

breathe your truth among us,

breathe your truth of deep Friday loss,

your truth of awesome Sunday joy.

Breathe your story of death and life

that our story may be submitted to your will for life.

We pray in the name of Jesus risen to new life -

and him crucified.

(Walter Brueggemann, Prayers for a Privileged People)

Read:

John 19:37-38 (Translation by N.T.Wright)

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

“So!” said Pilate. “You are a king, are you?”

“You’re the one who’s calling me a king,” replied Jesus. “I was born for this; I’ve come into the world for this: to give evidence about the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

“Truth!” said Pilate. “What’s that?”

Thought for the day:

Based on Broken Signposts: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World, by N.T.Wright

In the words of N.T.Wright: Truth is the reality of love, divine love, Jesus’s love, the Love made flesh. Though Pilate would never understand it, Truth was standing before him, the truth of creation rescued and renewed, truth turned into flesh, truth loving his own who were in the world and now loving them to the uttermost, Truth leading the way through death and out the other side into God’s new world, giving his followers the Spirit of truth, so that they could come after him and speak the creative truth that will bring that new world into being.

Part of the challenge of following Jesus is to learn the difficult, dangerous but beautiful art of speaking fresh, healing truth into the world that often still seems to be ruled by Caesar’s agents.

Finish by rereading the prayer.

Image: Sojourner Truth, sculpted by T.J.Warren 2001, Massachusetts, USA.

Born in 1797, Isabella Baumfree was sold into slavery at age 9. After being freed in 1827 she became a devout Christian and changed her name to Sojourner Truth. She travelled the country preaching about abolition of slavery and women’s rights, telling her friends, “The Spirit calls me and I must go.”

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John’s Gospel & Freedom

John’s Gospel & Freedom

(Devotion by Ros McDonald)

Prayer: Flame of the Spirit

Flame of the Spirit:

warm our hearts to love our neighbour.

Flame of the Spirit:

light our path that we may walk in truth.

Flame of the Spirit:

rise in us with a passion for freedom.

Flame of the Spirit:

gather us together in the celebration of your life.

(Dorothy McMahon in Be Our Freedom Lord)

Read:

John 8:31-32 (Translation by N.T.Wright)

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

Jesus spoke to the Judaeans who had believed in him. “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Thought for the day:

Based on Broken Signposts: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World, by N.T.Wright

N.T.Wright writes “Jesus was the most free person who has ever walked the earth, and his freedom led him to crucifixion. That is because freedom grows out of love. If you want to know what freedom really means, think of the time you’ve been loved. Of the time when the Son of God loved you and gave himself for you. Of the time when God so loved the world that he gave his only Son.”

Finish by rereading the prayer.

Image: Designed by Zenos Frudakis, Freedom Sculpture is a seven metre sculpture located in Philadelphia. Completed in 2001, the bronze piece depicts the struggle involved in breaking free from all that holds us back.

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John’s Gospel & Beauty

John’s Gospel & Beauty

(Devotion by Ros McDonald)

Prayer: Cosmic hymn of praise

O give thanks to our God who is good,

whose love endures forever.

You sun and moon, you stars of the sky,

sunrise and sunset, night and day,

all mountains and valleys, grassland and scree,

glacier, avalanche, mist and snow,

you winds and trees, mosses, ferns, and gentle breeze,

dolphin and penguin, sealion and crab,

coral, anemone, cockle and shrimp,

rabbits and cattle, moths and dogs,

eagle and sparrow and ostrich and hawk,

you kiwi and kookaburra, cormorant and seagull,

you women and men of whatever known race,

who inhabit earth’s islands, her lands and her seas,

give to our God your thanks and praise.

(A New Zealand Prayer Book)

Read:

John 1:1-5; 14 (Translation by N.T.Wright)

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

In the beginning was the Word. The Word was close beside God, and the Word was God. In the beginning, he was close beside God. All things came into existence through him; not one thing that exists came into existence without him. Life was in him, and this life was the light of the human race. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

And the Word became flesh, and lived among us. We gazed upon his glory, glory like that of the father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Thought for the day:

Based on Broken Signposts: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World, by N.T.Wright

“We are all of us hardwired for beauty, searching for a deeper and richer meaning in a world that sometimes seems to overflow with delight but at other times feels dreadful and cold. Beauty is a pointer to the strange, gently demanding presence of the living God in the midst of his world.”

N.T.Wright writes about the beauty of God’s glory, the beauty of God’s presence in Jesus and in us, and the beauty of God to be found in God’s creation. He says “If we stop still for a moment and hold our breath, we might just glimpse it.”

Image: Wayne McDonald; Three Capes Walk, Tasmania

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John’s Gospel & Spirituality

John’s Gospel & Spirituality

(Devotion by Ros McDonald)

Prayer: Open

I stand.

I open myself to God.

I kneel.

I listen.

I step into God’s presence.

I float in the encompassing ocean of God’s love.

I breathe in and out:

breathing in the merc of God,

breathing out the pain of my sadness.

I am still,

at rest with God,

who is deep within me

and all around me.

Creating, Sustaining and All-loving God,

give us the strength and courage to be still,

that we might better serve your broken world.

(Kate McIlhagga in Green Heart of the Snowdrop)

Read:

John 4:22-24 Jesus is speaking with the woman at the well (Translation by N.T.Wright)

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

The time is coming – indeed, it’s here already! – when true worshippers will worship the father in spirit and in truth. Yes: that’s the kind of worshippers the father is looking for. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.

Thought for the day:

Based on Broken Signposts: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World, by N.T.Wright

For the writer of John’s gospel, Christian spirituality is focused on Jesus. Getting to know Jesus is like an ever-increasing intimacy with a close friend or family member. Through Jesus and the Spirit, God dwells not only with us, but within us, enabling us to worship from the heart and to serve God in a whole new way. Whatever has happened in the past, the life-transforming work of God’s Spirit can make all things new. The powerful, rescuing, healing, transforming love of God is renewing the whole world, and ourselves with it. In what area of your life is God’s Spirit transforming and renewing you?

Image: Zion Church Baltimore, around 1900 CE. Note the intimacy between the woman and Jesus, even whilst Jesus is calling her life to account.

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John’s Gospel & Love

John’s Gospel & Love

(Devotion by Ros McDonald)

Prayer: Steadfast love

Gracious God,

for your love for us,

gentle as a shower,

healing our pain,

binding our wounds,

we give you thanks.

For your love for us,

sure as the dawn,

transforming our darkness,

revealing your truth,

we give you thanks.

For your love for us,

mercifully steadfast,

calling us to you,

raising us up,

we give you thanks.

Urge us on, O Christ,

to find wholeness

through serving you

by serving others,

in the power of your Spirit.

(Kate McIlhagga in Green Heart of the Snowdrop)

Read:

John 13:1 (Translation by N.T.Wright)

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

It was before the Festival of Passover. Jesus knew that his time had come, the time for him to leave this world and go to the father. He had always loved his own people in the world; now he loved them right through to the end.

Thought for the day:

Based on Broken Signposts: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World, by N.T.Wright

Love is the most powerful thing in the world. It is love that takes the worst that evil can do and, absorbing it, defeats it. This love comes to us through Jesus, by the victory won on the cross against the forces of evil. As God-reflecting human beings, we are made for love; made to find ourselves in and through love, both the love we give and the love we receive. Jesus commands us to “… love one another! Just as I have loved you, so you must love one another. This is how everybody will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for each other. (John 13:34-35)

Image: The Mates by Leigh Conkie, Greensborough War Memorial Park. A soldier has a supportive arm around a wounded mate.

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John’s Gospel & Justice

John’s Gospel & Justice

(Devotion by Ros McDonald)

Prayer:

God help us to change.

To change ourselves and to change our world.

To know the need for it.

To deal with the pain of it.

To feel the joy of it.

To undertake the journey

without understanding the destination.

The art of gentle revolution. Amen.

(Michael Leunig in Be Our Freedom Lord)

Read:

John 3:19-21 (Translation by N.T.Wright)

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

This is the condemnation: that light has come into the world, and people loved darkness rather than light, because what they were doing was evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light; people like that don’t come to the light, in case their deeds get shown up and reproved. But people who do the truth come to the light, so that it can become clear that what they have done had been done in God.

Thought for the day:

Based on Broken Signposts: How Christianity Makes Sense of the World, by N.T.Wright

God is on the side of the victim, and will not allow the dark power of evil to have the last word. With Jesus’ resurrection, the old way of injustice was defeated, and a new way of justice has triumphed. By the Spirit, those of us who follow Jesus are commissioned and equipped to be justice people, hope-giving people for a world where injustice still reigns.

Finish by rereading the prayer.

Image: Der Rufer (The Caller), a bronze statue by Gerhard Marcks outside the library in Perth. It is dedicated to all victims and survivors of torture.

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To Believe or Not To Believe

To Believe or Not To Believe

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER:       The love of God’s name


Lord of all power and might,

the author and giver of all good things:

graft in our hearts the love of your name,

increase in us true religion,

nourish us with all goodness,

and in your great mercy keep us in the same;

through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Book of Common Prayer, 1662


Read:

Malachi 1:9-14. Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

9“Now plead with God to be gracious to us.”, you say to the priests. But with such offerings from your hands, will he accept you?”—says the Lord Almighty.

10“Oh, that one of you would shut the temple doors, so that you would not light useless fires on my altar! I am not pleased with you,” says the Lord Almighty, “and I will accept no offering from your hands. 

11My name will be great among the nations, from where the sun rises to where it sets. In every place incense and pure offerings will be brought to me, because my name will be great among the nations,” says the Lord Almighty.

12“But you profane it by saying, ‘The Lord’s table is defiled,’ and, ‘Its food is contemptible.’ 

13And you say, ‘What a burden!’ and you sniff at it contemptuously,” says the Lord Almighty.

14“Cursed is the cheat who has an acceptable male in his flock and vows to give it, but then sacrifices a blemished animal to the Lord. For I am a great king,” says the Lord Almighty, “and my name is to be feared among the nations.

 

(Malachi 1:9-14 NIV)


Thought for the Day:

Malachi reveals to us a very human response to religion by the God’s people. It seems that people believe in God enough to offer the sacrifices but they also disbelieve in God and so they offer sick second-rate animals that God has explicitly forbidden as sacrifices. They both want to please God and don’t care at the same time. Almost like they are hedging their bets. In Revelations, Christ describes one of the seven churches that way; neither hot nor cold but lukewarm.

Only a human being would believe enough to offer a sacrifice which costs them money (even if it is lame) but not enough to offer the sacrifice that God actually asked for.

The inner contradiction when it comes to our relationship with God is revealed here in Malachi. I believe the reason this Minor Prophet is in the Bible at all is because this religious oddness is actually quite common.

“Lord, I believe; help my unbelief” is the cry to Jesus of a father who needs an exorcism for his dear son. Perhaps it is our cry too on our silent moments…

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Jesus, Wisdom of God

Jesus, Wisdom of God

(Devotion by Ros McDonald)

A Psalm celebrating wisdom:

They are wise who can get to the heart

of an issue or a person.

Make us people of wisdom, Sophia,

people who see to the heart.

They are wise who use their heads

when others around them panic.

Make us people of wisdom, Sophia,

people who seldom panic.

They are wise who listen well

and are not afraid to be honest.

Make us people of wisdom, Sophia,

people unafraid to be honest.

They are wise who dwell in God

and are filled with God’s own Spirit.

Make us people of wisdom, Sophia,

people filled with Your Spirit.

(By Miriam Therese Winter in WomanWisdom )

Read:

1 Corinthians 1:22-25 (NIV)

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

22 Jews demand signs and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, 24 but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

Thought for the day:

The feminine word “Sophia” is the Greek word for wisdom. The Book of Proverbs refers to Wisdom as co-creator, source of life, insight and strength (Prov 8). Paul declares that Christ is the Wisdom/Sophia of God (1Cor 1:24) and Jesus refers to himself as Sophia (Matt 11:19). The naming of Jesus as the child of Sophia or the incarnation of Sophia Wisdom was common in the early church and is being used today by Christians who wish to highlight the feminine in the bible and in their faith. Today, seek to be open to new perspectives and examine the reasons you accept or reject new ideas.

Image: Detail from Rembrandt, The Return of the Prodigal Son, 1668. Note that the hands of the father figure, representing God, are not identical. One is a male hand, and one a female.

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Jesus, Storyteller

Jesus, Storyteller

(Devotion by Ros McDonald)

Prayer: Far and wide

Open my eyes,

my ears, my mind;

open my imagination

to your presence and your love,

mysterious God.

Open my hands, Lord,

that I may sow with generosity.

Unclench my fists, Lord, that I may scatter the good news

of your coming

far and wide.

(Kate McIlhagga, Green Heart of the Snowdrop)

Read:

Luke 8:4-10a (NIV)

Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

While a large crowd was gathering and people were coming to Jesus from town after town, he told this parable: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up with it and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil. It came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown.”

When he said this, he called out, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.”

His disciples asked him what this parable meant. 10 He said, “The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of God has been given to you.”

Thought for the day:

Using familiar things such as a farmer sowing seed, a woman making bread, workers in a vineyard, and a shepherd with sheep, Jesus told stories to help people understand what God and God’s Kingdom are like. Stories take us beyond the factual world and allow us to enter a world of imagination, metaphor, belief and faith. Bring to mind one of Jesus’ stories that is of special importance to you and reflect on its meaning for you.

Finish by rereading the prayer.

Image: Sourced from www.freebibleimages, parable of the sower

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