Philippians. Coming to terms with your Mortality
Devotion by Graeme Harrison)
Lift up our souls, O, Lord,
above the weary round of harassing thoughts,
to your eternal presence.
Lift up our minds
to the pure, bright, serene atmosphere of your presence,
that we may breathe freely,
and rest here in your love.
From there, surrounded by your peace,
may we return to do or to bear whatever shall best please you,
O, blesse, Lord
Edward Pusey (1800-1882)
Philippians 1:18b-26 Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.
20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labour for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!
23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;
24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.
25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,
26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
(Philippians 1:18b-26 NIV)
Thought for the Day:
Paul is in Caesar’s prison in Rome awaiting trial. He could be executed or exonerated. Death is now one of the futures that awaits him. He has some anxiety as he hopes he won’t embarrass himself but will be courageous in the face of a possible public execution. In his musings about what awaits him he acts as if he has some choice about it in v22 but I expect his only choice is about whether he mounts a good defence in court.
But his thinking shows that there is some benefit in dwelling on your own mortality. He realises that there are people worth living for who he loves very much. He also realises that there is a Lord who loves him very much and who he will see face to face on the other side of death. So death loses its sting.
We are a death denying society and sometimes you and I have that attitude too. But Paul shows us that there is much to be gained by sometimes reminding ourselves of our mortality. It resulted in life being more focussed on what matters, and death losing its sting.
Will you allow yourself some space to think? Or talk it through with someone you trust?
This year has been unique for us. Early in the pandemic shut down we decided to support you in your isolation with daily devotions. One day at a time spent in the presence of God means every day has some aspect of joy no matter how difficult.
This has been a tiring year for most people and I include myself in that. So now it is time to have a rest. Daily devotions might be back at the start of school term. We will do a reassessment before then.
In the meantime, feel free to try out alternative daily devotions. I have enjoyed YouVersion which hosts a large variety of devotional styles from great to aweful. However, you get to choose which devotion series you would like to try. Try here https://www.youversion.com/the-bible-app/
Whatever you choose give each day to God and listen to him as he speaks to you about life.
In the words of our church vision "Everyone Closer to God".
Grace and Peace,
Graeme and Vic
Christmas Is Really For The Children
Christmas is really
for the children.
Especially for children
who like animals, stables,
stars and babies wrapped
is swaddling clothes.
Then there were wise men,
Kings in fine robes,
humble shepherds and a
hint of rich perfume.
Easter is not really
for the children
unless accompanied by
a cream filled egg.
It has whips, blood, nails,
a spear and allegations
of body snatching.
It involves politics, God
and the sins of the world.
It is not good for people
of nervous disposition.
They would do better to
think on rabbits, chickens
And the first snowdrop
This slightly jarring poem from Steve Turner reminds us that a shallow take on Christmas loses sight of the profound nature of God’s entry into the world and his ultimate purpose. A young betrothed Jewish girl of no significance has her story told for the next 2,000 years. Ah the simplicity and profoundness.
So, as we come to Christmas to celebrate the birth of Christ. We can so easily get caught up in the holiday festivities; school and work breakups visiting extended family, decorating our houses buying presence... we forget to pause give thanks for the love, hope and joy found in Jesus – our Saviour and friend. As we exchange gifts with loved ones, it is out of remembrance of the gift God gave us in Jesus. The gift that we are loved, are never alone and can have hope for the future.
After Jesus was born, a small group of wise men visited him. They recognised the kingship of Jesus and they “worshipped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh” (Matthew 2:11). We too, can offer up our worship and thanks to God through prayers this Christmas. Prayers of thanksgiving for the gift of hope, love and joy. We also have commoner shepherds entering the picture equally celebrating the coming of the Messiah.
Here we are 2020 and Christmas this year looks different to previous years. It may not match up to the commercial images you see or hopes you may have. But the meaning of Christmas doesn’t depend on the gifts under a tree or the type of food on your table. The message of Christmas doesn’t change if you are surrounded by family or missing loved ones. It is not affected by the house you live in – or don’t live in.
God’s love is for everyone. You are not alone. You are loved, and you can feel hopeful and joyful. That is the true meaning of Christmas.
Lord, in this holy season of prayer and song and laughter, we praise you for the great wonders you have sent us: for shining star and angel's song, for infant's cry in lowly manger. We praise you for the Word made flesh in a little Child. We behold his glory; and are bathed in its radiance.
Galatians 6: 1 – 6
Brothers, if someone is
caught in a sin, you who
are spiritual should
restore him gently. But
watch yourself, or you
also may be tempted.
A bloke once had a go at me saying my blessing for ministry would be taken away! It was delivered with great gusto, it was blunt and public, leaving me feeling furious and judged.
The context was this: a few of us were sitting in a mate’s shed discussing the whole gay marriage question (this was about 8 years ago when it had emerged as a big question for the wider church). As the conversation progressed there were big, bold statements of condemnation of gays and of those who sought to endorse marriage for them.
I shared with these blokes that my nephew was gay and as consequence had experienced his share of bullying and rejection growing up. As his uncle I did my best to respect, validate and love my troubled nephew. I posed the question to all present in the shed; when eventually my nephew decides to marry, do I compound his rejection and invalidation by refusing to support the marriage or do I affirm and engage with him and his partner and call them to live the values and grace of his Christian heritage to the full. What does God call me to do? And that’s when this bloke dropped his clanger.
I reckon there are times when the best of Christianity can be swallowed up by the worst, and often the worst is simply mean-spirited attacks from within our faith communities. Not inspiring for those looking on at the church while it beats up on itself.
Our Lord made it really clear if you’re struggling with a brother or sister in Christ, go and sort it out, don’t further demonise them don’t assume the worst of them because you simply can’t agree on a matter. The best way to resolve the disagreement is between the two of you (Matt 18:15). It’s awkward, uncomfortable and it takes prayer. When resolved, that relationship can be stronger than ever. And it’s your opportunity to grow, in wisdom and as a disciple.
God of friendship and forgiveness,
You lead us on life’s journey As we gather in Your name,
Open our minds to know Your voice.
Open our hands to do Your work.
And open our hearts to hold Your Spirit.