Titus. A Big Ask

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9 December, 2020

Titus. A Big Ask

Devotion by Graeme Harrison)

PRAYER:       


Lord, I am yours, I was born for you;

What is your will for me?

Let me be rich or beggared

Exulting or lamenting

Comforted or lonely;

Since I am yours, yours only,

What is your will for me?

St Teresa of Avila(1552-15820 (Book of a Thousand Prayers)


Read:

Titus 1:1-12. Read this 3 times, each time asking God’s help and thinking about those words or phrases that leap out at you.

Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness— 2in the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time, 3and which now at his appointed season he has brought to light through the preaching entrusted to me by the command of God our Saviour,

4To Titus, my true son in our common faith:

Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Saviour.

5The reason I left you in Crete was that you might put in order what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. 6An elder must be blameless, faithful to his wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. 7Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. 8Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. 9He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.

 

10For there are many rebellious people, full of meaningless talk and deception, especially those of the circumcision group. 11They must be silenced, because they are disrupting whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. 12One of Crete’s own prophets has said it: “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”

(Titus 1:1-12 NIV)


Thought for the Day:

Every year the letter of Paul to his apprentice Titus is wheeled out during the Christmas readings. You would not have noticed it because it is lost amongst shepherds, angels and mangers. But this pastoral letter is a tough one and it deals with Titus’ tough assignment. He is being asked to establish a leadership team in a church of newly converted Christians. On top of that, he must deal with the fact that the social norms on Crete are pretty low. Where else would you would it be hard to find an Elder because the requirements were “not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain”?

I get the impression that Paul did not enjoy living among the Cretan community. He has sent Titus to finish the job of stabilizing the new church and helping it navigate what it means to be Christian in this community.

At least for Titus it was clear what a change God makes in our lives when Christ becomes our Lord in ‘Bogun Central’. Is it as clear to you how Christ makes you different to your surrounding culture?


Photo by Eric Prouzet on Unsplash

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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

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It has whips, blood, nails,

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of body snatching.

It involves politics, God

and the sins of the world.

It is not good for people

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They would do better to

think on rabbits, chickens

And the first snowdrop

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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.

Prayer

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.

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Criticism

Criticism

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.

(Gal. 6:1).

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.

Amen

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