Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Tuesday - New Year's Eve

Prayer:   Holy God,  we stand at the end of one year and on the precipice of a new year.   You make all things new.  You sustain us through Your renewed enthusiasm and joy.    This day may we boldly go forth in Your love knowing that Your Word sustains us and provides us with joy and love and peace and hope in this land and in this world.   

Read  2 Corinthians  5:  11- 21


Here we are at the end of 2013 and ready for 2014.   During the New Year,  people often make New Year’s  Resolutions of things they are going to do or not do during the year.  The usual topics are exercising more,  dieting more,  do greater budgeting,  not fighting with family or friends.

As a Church do we write New Year Resolutions?   In some ways we do.  This is the time of year when the Board and Session meet to plan for the next year’s budget.  Usually our focus is on money and the budget.   Effective Churches  create a Mission Plan for the year so they know where to focus their prayers and efforts for the year.    Some Churches send their Minister and Session away on a retreat so that they can pray together and ask God where the focus of the Church must be for the coming year.


During the Reformation,  Jean Calvin said that we should all have a ministry of reconciliation.    Jean Calvin said that the ministry of reconciliation is so important,  it should be done at every Presbytery meeting… and every Church meeting.  This is a time when we go over to our friends and neighbours in Christ and say, “Oopsie.  I am sorry for……   Please forgive me”.


This portion of scripture is Paul’s  understanding of the ministry of reconciliation.    So,  what is the ministry of reconciliation?   For Paul it was a time of looking inwardly at our lives and living within God’s  love.  If we find we are not living within God’s  love,  then we ask God for forgiveness.   


In Christ,  we are a new creation – the old is gone and the new has come.   All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.   And we too are committed to the ministry of reconciliation.  We are Christ’s  Ambassadors to the world.  Before we begin doing the work of Christ,  we must ask for forgiveness so that we are doing the work of Christ with clean hearts.  


As we stand on the beginning of a new year,  we will look inwardly at our hearts and our actions.  We ask God for forgiveness so that in 2014  we are ready to do the work God has called us to do in love,  joy,  peace,  and hope.


Prayer:   Merciful God,  we stand on the beginning of a new year.  We stand on the beginning of new love and new plans for Your work.  Holy God,  You know that we aren’t perfect.   Holy God,  You know that sometimes we fail and get angry or frustrated with our family or our friends  or our Church.   Almighty God,  we lift up to You today those situations and people that have made us angry or frustrated.  Lord hear our prayer.  We release our anger and frustrations to You knowing that You forgive us and leave us with Your peace and Your love.     We ask for Your forgiveness for those people who we understand to have caused us pain.  Lord hear our prayer.    We release our pain to You knowing that You forgive us and leave us with a new life of love and mercy.  Change our anger into Your love.  Change our frustrations into Your peace.  Change our pain into Your joy. May we be examples of Your living reconciliation.   This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.


Monday, 30 December 2013

Monday - sixth day of Christmas

Prayer:  Great God,  we have waited for the Lord to take away the sins of our lives and our world.  Great God we have waited listening for Your Word to guide us in doing the work that is needed to be done in Your World.   And You have burst forth into our lives and our hearts yet again this day.   Through the Birth of Your Holy Son,  we remember anew of Your love and Your mercy,  Your hope and Your peace.   Grant us this day that we listen for Your Words so that we can do the work You ask us to do in Your name.    Christ,  come and kindle a light in our hearts.  Christ,  come and renew our spirits.  Gloria and Allelujah.    May we light up Your world this day  withYour love and peace and hope.  Amen.


Read St Luke 2: 16- 20


This is a portion of scripture that we often overlook (or under hear!)  during Christmas.  We hear of the Angels Songs and the hurry of the Shepherds to worship the Holy Infant  and then going to spread the Good News but we often forget that Mary treasured and pondered.     Mary made the time to stop and treasure God’s  Word.  Mary made the time to stop and ponder everything she had seen and heard in her heart.


And Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.   As we come to the end of 2013,  we look back at all we have accomplished or not accomplished during this year.  


How do we treasure up all the amazing things that have happened in our congregation,  Presbytery,  Synod,  and National Church?   


How do we ponder all the decisions and actions that happened in our congregation,  Presbytery,  Synod,  and National Church during 2013?


How do we treasure up all the amazing things that have happened in our life this year?

How do we ponder all the decisions and actions that happened in our life this year?


Prayer:   Great God,  we thank You for the gift of Your scripture so that we can read and inwardly digest Your Word.  May we always thirst for Your Most Holy Word.   This day,  we spend time in Your love as we think of  all that we accomplished or didn’t accomplish for You in 2013.    We praise You for the work You have asked us to do in the world so that all peoples shall know about the wonderful love and forgiveness of Your Son,  Our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.


Sunday, 29 December 2013

Sunday - First Sunday after Christmas

Prayer:  You came as an infant into our lives.  You came as our Redeemer and Saviour and Sustainer.   Come now O Prince of Peace,  Everlasting God and King of our hearts.  Come now Emmanuel and make us one with You so that we may love as You love,  give peace as You give peace, and  bring mercy as You bring mercy.   May we live to serve You now and always in each day that we live and move and have our being.    Glory be to God the Father,  God the  Son,  and God the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end.  Amen.

Here in Brandon,  some families already have their Christmas trees put away for another year.  Other families are still awaiting their Christmas (Ukrainian Catholic,  Ukrainian Orthodox,  Coptic).   And then there are families  that leave the Christmas tree and Christmas lights up until the twelfth day of Christmas and  Epiphany.

Whatever our tradition is,  we remember the coming into this world  the Holy Infant Child.  We remember  the love of Mary,  his mother and the peace and joy of Joseph.  We remember the wonderful gift the Angels  told the shepherds... and the shepherds telling everyone the Good News.  This year may we all share this love of Christmas through our service and example.   And may others ponder in their hearts what they have seen!

Holy Child of God, You came into our lives as an infant.  Holy Child,  You came as our Redeemer and Saviour and Sustainer.   Come now again O Prince of Peace into our hearts.  Come now again Emmanuel and make us one with You so that we may love as You love.  Grant us peace as You give peace.  May we share Your mercy as You  bring mercy.  May we live to serve You now and always with great joy and with great love.  This we ask in Your Name,  O Holy One.  Amen.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Saturday - Fourth day of Christmas

Prayer:  Great God,  with the birth of Your Son,  You have come into our hearts once again.  You have come into our silence and waiting of Advent.  You have burst forth with the songs sung by the Angel’s  at Your Son’s  birth.  Our hearts are bursting with love and praise.    May we wait no longer to tell everyone of Your glorious love and the Good News of Your Son,  our Lord and Saviour.    Emmanuel.   Christ has Come!  Amen.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Friday - Third Day of Christmas

Prayer:  All glory to You,  Great God,  for the gift of Your Son, light in darkness and hope of the world,  whom You sent to save humankind.  With singing angels,  let us praise Your name, and tell the earth the story of the Christ Child, so that all may believe, rejoice, and bow down,  acknowledging Your love.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  (Prayer from  “The Worshipbook Services.”   Philadelphia:  The Westminster Press, 1970.  Page137.)


Read  St Luke 1: 46 – 55


This is the song (prayer) that Mary sang when she went to visit with her relative Elizabeth.   Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaims to Mary that Mary is blessed among women and blessed is the child she will bear.    While this is a song (prayer) that is actually before the Birth of Christ story,  it often gets overlooked at Christmas time.  And this is a song that must be read!

Mary responds to Elizabeth’s  exclamation with this song. 

46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord,

47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

49 For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

51 He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

52 He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

53 He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

54 He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

55 As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

56 And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

(King James Version    Cleveland:  The World Publishing Company)


We have used the King James Version not because this is the way Mary spoke (She didn’t.  Mary would have spoken in Aramaic)  but because this song or prayer needs the grandness of the King James Version.


What words  or phrases leap out at you.  Why do you think these words or phrases demand your attention.


What prayer will you pray today in thanks to God for bringing us new life in the birth of His Son,  Jesus Christ,  our Lord and Saviour?


Prayer:  Our Souls magnifies You,  O LORD.  Our spirits rejoice in God our Saviour.  For You have brought new life into our hearts and lives.  Everlasting God,  You have done great things for us – Holy is Your Name.   Your mercy extends to those who fear You,  from generation to generation.  This day,  Our Saviour,  we bring to You our thanks……………….(pray here for the things that you are thankful for this day)…………….  Holy God,  You brought peace and mercy and goodwill to earth when Christ was born.  Fill our hearts with gladness yet again so that we can be the bearers of Your peace and mercy and goodwill to all.  This we ask in the name of Your Infant Son,  Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour.  Amen.

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Thursday - Second Day of Christmas

Prayer:  Great God of love,  we praise You for the birth of the Holy Child who came to save us from our sins.  We thank You for the words of the prophets that always leads to hope. We thank You for  the angels  song that tells us to Fear Not and Behold this Day is Born a Saviour.  We thank You for the birth of the Holy Child in Bethlehem.  We thank You that in Jesus You joined us,  sharing our humanity.  Glory to You for Your wonderful love.  Glory to You,  eternal God,  through Jesus Christ,  Lord of Lords and King of Kings,  forever.  Amen.

 Read  1 John 4: 7- 21

For most people,  this is the end of Christmas.   For most people,  Christmas is only one day.   For Christians,  Christmas continues until Epiphany (6 January 2014).    We keep celebrating the birth of the Infant Christ.

Today’s  reading seems like an odd one doesn’t it.   The reading is not from the Gospels where you would expect us to read.  This reading is from the Letter of John to the Christian Community.   During the time this letter was written,  the Christian Community was beginning to have a lot of confusion what to believe.    John writes that the story of Christ is a simple one.  The story begins and ends with the love of God.  

 Since God loved us enough to send His Son into the world so that we might be forgiven,  we also ought to love one another.    Loving one another is easy.  We love unconditionally.   It should be easy but we often stick our own negative stuff into our love and then we begin to pick and choose who we love.    This is where our prayers of confession come in.  We  return to the Lord and say, “Oopsie we forgot to love as You love.  Help us love unconditionally again.”  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.  

Read through this scripture again and count how many times the word “love” appears. 

Prayer:  God of Love and Life,  You sent a star to guide the Shepherds and pilgrims to Your Son,  the Holy Child.  We confess that we have not always followed the light of Your word.  We confess that we have not searched for signs of Your love in the world.  We confess that we sometimes only love those who are loveable.  Forgive us O Lord.  Renew us with this season where we read and remember the  Birth of Your Holy Son.  Help us to once again go forth like the Shepherds did in awe and worship and love so that the Good News of Christ was shared this day and forever.    Amen.

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Blessed and Holy Christmas

Prayer:   This is the Day O LORD that the heavens open and Your people rejoice in love and praise.  This is the Day Almighty God  that the earth stops and listens to Your voice as it is heard in Your Church for all Your people.    This is the Day Loving God  that we remember the birth of Your Son,  our Lord and Saviour.   Glory to God in the Highest.  Peace on earth and good will to all.   Allelujah.

Read:  Luke 2: 1 - 20

This is the humble story of the birth of Jesus Christ.  A story that we read and hear every year during the Christmas Eve worship.    The prophets preached repentance and made warnings to the people to turn around their attitudes.  The prophets always said turn back to God.  In this story,  these prophecies are realized.  Through the birth of Jesus Christ and through the death of Jesus Christ, our sins have been forgiven.  Thanks be to God!

The acceptance of a teenage girl to say Yes to God.  The acceptance of a betrothed Joseph to marry his pregnant betrothed to say Yes to God.   The travelling to Bethlehem.  The acceptance of the shepherds to say Yes to the Angels  message to go into Bethlehem and see the Christ Child.     Bowing down in awe and worship.

This year as you hear the Christmas story,  remember how many people said Yes to God.  This Christmas,  how will you say Yes to God?   How will you bow down in awe and worship?

What one thing will you listen for this year during the reading of the Christmas story that you haven’t listen to before?

Prayer:   We bow down in worship this day.  For this day we know that in our hearts is born the love of God.    Jesus Christ our Lord,  born of the Virgin Mary,  announced by the Angels, worshipped by us all.  O come let us adore Him.    Emmanuel,  You have Come!  Blessed be Your name Forever!  Amen.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Tuesday - Advent 4 - the creche

Prayer:   Almighty God,  the wind has brought a lullaby….. the echo of the Angel’s song to our hearts this day.   We hear the hushed cry of the Infant Child,  Your Son our Lord  Jesus Christ.  The stable is dark and cold yet there shines forth the light of Heaven.  God sleeps in his mother’s case and the worlds meet… the new and the old.   We come with weary steps and knell to see the maker of the skies,  made flesh,  before our very eyes…. To love and die,  to rise and heal.   Emmanuel.      Amen    

(Prayer adapted from “Prayers of a Pilgrim Nearing Home”   by Sister Mary Cartwright)

Read  St Luke 2: 1- 20

The Christmas Story.   In many churches,  there is a ceramic or wooden nativity set called the crèche set.   These are figures of Joseph,  Mary,  Angels, and the Shepherds.    During Christmas Eve worship,  the Christ Child is added to the nativity scene.   It was St Francis of Assisi that created the original nativity scene called the crèche.   He did it so that everyone in the community would see and hear the story of the Birth of the Christ Child.    And we have carried on this tradition.   But why is our Church crèche set small and indoors?   The one St Francis created was large and outdoors so that the community could see and hear  the story of Christmas.   

One of our good friends belonged to a Church where they put up the crèche on the roof of the Church.  This was no small Church and involved many hands and many ladders and a lot of balance.  They surrounded the crèche with Christmas lights.    Why did this Church do this every year?    Not because it looked beautiful (which it did!)  but because it said in a very simple way, “This is the story of God coming to earth as an infant in love and awe”.   

This Christmas Eve as you hear the story of the birth of the Infant Christ,  how will you share this story with your community?   Will you keep the story within your heart and all alone or will you burst forth with great joy like the Shepherds as they journeyed to see the Infant Christ.   The Shepherds   came with haste and found Mary and Joseph and the babe lying in a manger.  And when they had seen the Infant Christ,  the Shepherds made known abroad the saying which was told to them concerning the Christ Child.   And all who heard the Shepherds story were filled with wonder.     Christ has come,  Christ is coming,  Christ will come again.   

Prayer:  Great God,  such love and wonder is filled through this night.  Help us to hear anew the story of the Birth of the Infant Christ.   May we be filled with the same love and awe as the shepherds and pilgrims unknown were on that first Christmas.  We bow down to adore the Holy Child,  and we bring our lives before Him to worship and adore Him now and forever more.  Amen.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Monday - Advent 4- Nothing is Impossible

Prayer: Holy God,  You are with us in our daily lives.  In our sitting and in our standing.  In our quiet and in our speaking.   When You call us may we respond with delight and love and a hearty “Yes Lord”. As we await in the silence and the stillness for the birth of Your Son,  involve us in Your incredible acts this day and forever. Gladden our hearts so that we may always listen for Your voice and respond with love in our hearts.   Emmanuel.    Amen. 


Read  St Luke 1: 26 – 38


The Birth of Jesus is foretold by the Angel Gabriel to Mary.   This is an incredible story.   God sends the angel Gabriel to tell a young girl that the LORD is with her.   We don’t know how young Mary was but we do know that she was betrothed to be married to Joseph.    Luke notes that Joseph is a descendant of David… very important as this is an answer to the Isaiah prophecy that a shoot would come up out of the stump of Jesse.   (Jesse was David’s  Dad). 


The first thing that the Angel Gabriel says to Mary is, “Greetings, you are highly favoured!  The Lord is with you”  (St Luke 1: 28  NIV  Zondervan  1983).       Normally when Messengers of God come to us,  they have to say, “Fear Not!”     Yet here,  Gabriel says to Mary, “Greetings!”.   What did this mean?   This means that throughout her short life,  Mary stopped to listen to God.  We know this as Gabriel continues by saying, “you are highly favoured”.   In other words,  Mary lives her life in God.  Her life in God is also confirmed when Gabriel says, “The Lord is with you”.   Wow.    Imagine for a moment a 12 or 13 year old girl from your congregation or community.   Would you say that they take time to listen and be with God?  We often think that teenagers are not mature enough.   But here is God reaching out to a young girl.  Incredible!


Is Mary happy happy happy about the Gabriel’s  visit?  Nope.  She is troubled.  Not a little troubled but greatly troubled. 


Then the Angel Gabriel  settles Mary’s  troubles by telling her that she has found favour with God.  That is good.    And then Gabriel  tells Mary that she will give birth to a son and call him Jesus.  Jesus will be called the Son of the Most High and his kingdom will never end.   Instead of  Mary running out of the house screaming with “I must be mad”,  Mary asks the angel how this will happen as she is still  a virgin.

Gabriel tells her that the Holy Spirit will be upon her and the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.   Gabriel  then tells Mary that her relative Elizabeth is also with child.   


Gabriel ends his message from God by saying to Mary that nothing is impossible with God.   We too this Advent time and Christmas season need to remember that nothing is impossible with God.   Nothing is impossible with God.   Allelujah!


Prayer: Holy God of all possibilities,  incline Your ear to our prayers.   May we read and inwardly digest Your Good News.  Remind us anew that with You nothing is impossible.  Help us to say, “Yes” to Your calling… even if we think it impossible.   May we live out our days sharing Your Great Love and peace with those who are in need.   May we always lift up our hands to You in humble praise and worship and remember that nothing is impossible with You. 

Sunday - Advent 4 - Prayers of Preparing the Way

Sit in a comfy chair or sofa.


Think of a  place you like to visit that gives you joy…. a family meal,  a holiday spot,  the library,  the coffee shop,  the hockey rink,  outside in the mountains,  your living room…. where ever this spot is make it comfy.


Slowly repeat these words of prayer.  Sit in silence between each phrase or sentence: 

Divine God,    

my focus is totally upon You this day

and the joy of knowing you  and being in this place of joy

Come within  me

move through every part of my body 

move through every part of my  mind

dissolving  all feelings,  thoughts, and patterns 

of frustration, irritation, and aggravation.

Please sweep away all impatience, 

Please sweep away all struggles and suffering that resides in my consciousness.

Allow me to turn my frustrations into inspiration and enthusiastic action

Guide me, Oh Lord,  in the direction where my actions will become  actualized,

so that I can experience joy with my accomplishments completed in Your love.

May I  live in Your light and Your love

Thank you for your gift of your son

Who has given me eternal life

And Your eternal love and light and wisdom

Embrace me, Almighty God,  with Your radiant gold beam of satisfaction

Of happiness, contentment, and delight

Allow me to feel confident that I am moving in the perfect direction where you are guiding my life

Emmanuel, help me to recognize and celebrate all the wonderful things You have helped me achieve in this life.

Thank You O God of Hosts for all the magnificent people with whom You have placed in my path

Thank You,  O LORD of All,  for the rich experiences I have lived and breathed in You. 

As I recognize You in my life, I feel truly blessed

Thank You Eternal Lord,  You have prepared a way in our world for the coming of Your Son.  By Your Holy Spirit You are bring the light of the gospel to darkened lives each and every day.  Renew us,  so that we may welcome the Infant Christ Child --  Jesus Christ to rule our thoughts and our love. To You be all glory forever.  Amen

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Saturday- Advent 3 -- the silence of Advent

Prayer:  O God,  as I turn aside from the noise of the world around me to enter the inner silence, quiet also the clamouring voices of my heart so that I can hear the voice of Your son,  Jesus Christ.  Amen.

Silence.    We don’t really like silence that much.   We fill out days with noise…. TV,  Radio,  Computer,  MP3,  CDs.    Noise.   We only hear God when we focus on the silence.    Today we will focus on the silence and one way to create a time of silence.

Slowly read over the following scripture.  

“For God alone my soul waits.  My help comes from God”  Psalm 62:1

Read  this verse again slowly so that each word has one breath before reading the next word.    

For (breath out -   breath in)   God  (breath out – breath in)   alone  (breath out – breath in)  my (breath out – breath in)  soul   (breath out – breath in)  waits  (breath out – breath in).

My (breath out – breath in)  help  (breath out – breath in)  comes (breath out – breath in)  from  (breath out – breath in)   God  (breath out – breath in).

Close your eyes for a few minutes and just sit in silence.  

This day as you speak to your family and friends,  remember to create some silences so that God can get a word in edgewise!

(prayer exercise adapted from Katharine Howard  “Praying with Benedict”)

Prayer:  Gracious and loving God,  we sit here in silence listening for Your voice.  You have spoken to us beyond word and sound in the silence of Your Word,  Jesus Christ.  May the silence of that Word fill all our silences and speech this day.  May we respond to Your great Love and goodness to all by listening to Your voice and the needs of others this day.  In Jesus name.  Amen.

Friday, 20 December 2013

Friday - Advent 3 - Get Ready

Prayer:  This day O LORD,  You bring us comfort in our waiting and in our listening to Your voice.   Come Lord Jesus,  return to us and deliver our souls for the sake of Your love.   Come Lord Jesus,  help make us ready to serve You all the days of our life.  Amen.


Read Malachi 2: 17 - 4: 6


Malachi (pronounced Mal ah ki) gets in the last word.   Malachi the prophet is the last Book in  the Old Testament and the last of the twelve Minor Prophets.   In this small book,  Malachi is a prophet who wakes up the people from their complacency.     The people are slowly sliding away from God and Malachi says, “But listen!  Listen to God!  Get ready for God! “  Malachi tells God’s chosen people to remember the great Prophets of Moses and Elijah.  Moses keeps us rooted in what God has done in the past.  Elijah keeps us ready for what God will be doing in the future.  

For us today,  Malachi is still relevant.  Christmas is coming.  We rush around getting the baking done,  the cards written and mailed,  the gifts bought,  the batteries for all the toys stored in a safe place.  But the first Christmas was not a time of business.  The first Christmas was a transforming event.    As we live through this Advent season, what  will be our means of getting ready for a new way of looking at life -- a new way of living?  


During Advent, how do you get ready for God?   What has God done for you in the past?   How will you keep ready for what God will be doing with you in the future?

Prayer:   Give us faith like the prophets, O Lord.  Help us to be  strong enough to know even when we are in a desert,  that You and Your kingdom are no farther from us than our hearts. Make our hearts strong like the prophets, not swayed by trials or snared by false pleasures. Give us courage to be faithful until Your promises are fulfilled.  O Come, O Come Emmanuel.  Ame

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Thursday - Advent 3- holding fast and holding strong to the Good News

Prayer: Return to the Lord our God.  The Almighty God is full of tenderness and our compassion for us.    You are faithful and hear us when we call.  You love us and lift us back up when we fall down.  You provide us with the enthusiasm to carry out the sharing of the Good  News.   In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.


Read:  St Matthew 11: 1 – 6


When Jesus finished instructing the disciples on their work,  he continues on his ministry by teaching and preaching in Galilee. 


John the Baptist is locked up in prison but hears what Jesus is doing.   John sends his disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you the One we’ve been expecting, or are we still waiting?”  This is an interesting question to ask as John the Baptist was the one to Baptize Jesus and heard the words from heaven.      But we have to remember two things about John.  First that he was a prophet who baptized for the remission of sins in preparation for the final judgement.    John expected that Jesus would go forth quickly and strongly and become the long awaited Messiah.    Yet Jesus has just finished saying to the disciples in the previous verses that even the  work of God can start small.    Do not get overwhelmed by the large work (or large Harvest),  it is best to start small.      The second thing we need to remember about John is he is sitting in jail awaiting death.   When one is confined to a space and death is imminent,  frequently one begins to ask questions about life.    Here John asks his disciples to question Jesus and ask if Jesus really really really is the long awaited Messiah.


Jesus tells John’s disciples to go back to John and tell him this:  The blind see,  the lame walk,  lepers are cleansed,  the deaf hear,  the dead are raised,  the wretched of the earth learn that God is on their side.  Blessed is the person who does not fall away on account of me.


Do not fall away on account of me.    Hold fast and hold strong.   These are positive words of encouragement from Jesus to John and to us this day.    During Advent,  how will you be an example of holding fast and holding strong to the Good News?


Prayer:  You,  O Lord, are our fortress and our strength.  In times of storm,  to You we hold fast.  In times of despair,  we call upon You knowing that You are already with us in our lives and our work.   May the God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ grant us peace and love in believing. This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Wednesday - Advent 3 -

Prayer:  Wonderful Counsellor,  we stand firm in Your love knowing that You will be coming soon.  We wait patiently  for Your return.  Save us for the sake of Your love.  Amen.


Read  James 5: 7- 12


The Book of James is a wonderful collection of how to live and mature as Christians.  It could be called the Christians Advice column if it was written in a newspaper or a blog.

The communities that received this advice were  Christian House Churches that were under persecution.   Christians were suffering because of what they believed.  


James begins this scripture passage by telling his readers to be patient and stand firm until the Lord’s coming.  Be patient.  Wait.  These are themes of Advent as well!   James gives the example of farmers waiting for the land to yield a crop through the autumn until the crop sprouts and grows because of the  spring rains.  So too, says James,  that we must wait with patience and stand firm in our beliefs until the Lord’s coming.


James says in order to stand firm in our faith we must not grumble against each other.  We must not grumble against our friends.    We should take the example of the prophets who kept persevering by  telling the people again and again and again  to return to God when the people would turn their backs on God. By standing firm in our faith and persevering,  we discover that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.


What does waiting and having patience mean for you this Advent?   As consumers we hear about the rush to purchase gifts for Christmas and baking cookies for Christmas and preparing our houses for people to visit over Christmas. Do you have friends that are slowly going nuts trying to get everything completed for Christmas?   But as Christians  we are to wait and have patience and celebrate the gifts of Advent and prepare ourselves for the birth of the Christ Child.     The ‘stuff’  of Christmas has gotten in the way of Advent – of the time of waiting and patience and preparing.  
Cardinal  Timothy Dolan  said in his Homily last Sunday (15 December 2013)   that the patience  James is writing about here is like lunch and the difference between a microwave lunch and a slow cooker meal.     When we think of lunches,  we often find something that we pop in the microwave.  It is instant and fast and filling.  But God is not like a microwave --  God is like a slow cooker....   the meal takes a good 8 to 10 hours to cook but  once fully cooked  the meal is  delightful and wonderful and delicious.    This is the kind of patience that James is taking about.     

During this third week of Advent,  how will you stand firm in celebrating the waiting and preparing for Advent?

What one thing will you do today to wait and have patience for Advent?


Prayer:  Lord Jesus,  out of the shadows of night You bring us into the light of day.  As we live out our everyday life,  You surround us with Your love so that our lives are made new.  May we always stand firm in our beliefs and wait patiently for Your gifts of  renewal,  of love,  of peace,  and of joy.   Emmanuel,  God with us,  You are our life and our love and we are Your people.  Amen.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Tuesday - Advent 3 - happy are those who....

Prayer:  Come Lord Jesus,  You are our rock and our strength.  In all things  we turn to You and lean on Your understanding.  Lord God Almighty,  save those who are oppressed and afflicted.  Bless us yet again this day that we may serve You with love and delight.  Come Lord Jesus Come into our hearts and minds now and forever more.  Amen.


Read  Psalm 146: 1- 10

This Psalmist wrote this Psalm after realizing something amazing --that there is no other source of strength except the LORD God Almighty.    While  princes and mortal men can do a lot for others,  it is only God that can save people.   It is only God that can truly help the oppressed and the afflicted.  


Verse 5 begins  “happy are those who help is in the God of Jacob.”    The word “happy” does not mean the emotion of happy like getting a free birthday cake makes one happy  but  blessed and knowing that one is following the right path to God.     Help here is more than just someone asking another person for directions and then receiving the correct directions.  This “help” is  the kind of help where we know that without God we would be nothing…. we would be terribly lost.  Our help is in  God. 


Our hope remains and abides with God.    And God remains faithful to His people forever. 

The Psalmist then gives examples of what God can do:

1.  upholds the cause of the oppressed

2.  gives food to the hungry

3.  sets prisoners free

4.  gives sight to the blind

5.  lifts up those who are bowed down

6.  watches over those who are foreigners

7.  sustains the fatherless and the widow

8.  frustrates the way of the wicked.


In preparing our hearts for the coming of the Christ Child,  we become  the hands and feet of God.  Go over the list of eight things that the Psalmist says God can do and write down which of these listed things your Church is currently providing aid and support.


Are there any items from this list that your Church is not providing aid and support?  If not,  why not?      


Prayer:  Emmanuel – God with us,  You walk beside us each and every day.  We lean on Your love and Your support.   Lord Jesus Christ, You uphold the cause of the oppressed.  May we be Your voice.   Lord Jesus Christ,  You give food to the hungry.  May we be Your hands.   Lord Jesus Christ,  You set the prisoners free.  May we be Your path to righteousness.  Lord Jesus Christ,  You give sight to the blind.  May we bring Your healing touch.   Lord Jesus Christ,  You lift up those who are bowed down.  May we bring Your love.  Lord Jesus Christ,  You watch over those everyone.  May we be Your eyes and see those who are in need.   Lord Jesus Christ,  You sustain the fatherless and the widow.  May we bring Your sustaining love to the fatherless and the widow.   Lord Jesus Christ,  You frustrate the way of the wicked.  May we be Your hands for justice and charity.   Amen.