Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Wednesday - pondering upon mercy

Prayer:   Lord God of Heaven and Heavenly hosts,  have mercy upon me a sinner.  Lord Jesus Christ,  Son of God,  have mercy upon me a sinner.   Spirit of God,  have mercy upon me a sinner.     Lord God of All,  grant me peace in living... peace in believing.... and peace in our hearts until the day comes when we can be in Your presence.   Amen.
Yesterday,  we reflected upon Paul writing to Timothy to have mercy,  grace, and peace.     Mercy is not a word we use these days.    Reflection upon what  the word Mercy means to you.... then ponder upon these questions:

1.  What does the word “mercy” mean to me?
2.  Who has ever shown me mercy?
3.  How did Paul and Timothy show mercy to those in Ephesus?
4.  How does my Church show mercy to others?

Reading about Paul and Timothy’s ministry in Ephesus is a small understanding of those called to Ministry in Christ.  It isn’t an easy journey.  The road is often difficult as congregational members, like the Ephesians,  have differing opinions which creates bumps upon the journey to the point of tearing the Church apart.   Yet,  God calls people to minister to His Church.  For anyone thinking of  a call to Ministry,  Rev. Allan Jones wrote a fantastic book called “Sacrifice and Delight”.  Ministry to God’s people is truly a sacrifice and a delight.  His Grace, Bishop  William Willimon wrote another fantastic book on ministry entitled   "Pastor:  The Theology and Practice of Ordained Ministry".    Both books are awesome not only to seek out a possible call to ministry but also an unveiling of just what a minister does each day and each week.

Today, while pondering upon mercy,   think of three things you can do to help support the Ministry of those in your congregation.   Some ideas would be:
  • Send a      card of  appreciation to your      Minister.  
  • Provide      the Minister with a gift certificate to a coffee shop or grocery      store. 
  • Ask the      Minister (and family) to come over to your house for a meal.
Prayer:   Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God let Your mercy flow down upon me.  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, let Your mercy spring up within me.  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, let Your mercy enfold me.   Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,  let Your mercy flow through me this day.  Amen.    (Father Simeon Weare,  Society of the Common Life).

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Tuesday - solving difficulties

Prayer:  God of all goodness,  tend our souls so that we may live this day refreshed in Your Word.   God of love and compassion,  tend our hearts this day so that we will reach out to those who are in need of Your Word.   Have mercy upon us and grant us Your peace.  Amen.

Read 1 Timothy 1: 3-11

In this section,  Paul is concerned with false teachings.  He warns Timothy to stay in Ephesus  and command certain people not to teach false doctrines any longer.  Paul states that Timothy is required to solve difficulties that are already in the Christian community, not to  create another Christian Community.  This is not an easy task.  The “certain people” were from the community and thought they were dedicated and devoted new Christians but unfortunately,  they did not want to believe the full gospel.
Solve difficulties.    Take immediate action.  Don't wait until the difficulties becomes gigantic.      I was interested this year to hear  Commander Chris Hadfield state that we need to sweat the small stuff.  If we don't face the small stuff,  the small stuff then becomes big and bigger and then becomes a hazardous  problem.    In our Churches,  how do we go about solving difficulties?    Do we bring forth our problems in prayer?  Usually.  That is a good thing.  But what about when a Church ignores their difficulties?  The difficulties do not go away.  In fact,  the difficulties became harder to solve and become intangled.   Sweat the small stuff.   Solve the difficulties when they are small and easier to solve.    But this all takes hard work,  inspiration,  and a community that works and prayers together.
In the Museum where I volunteer,  we each have our own gifts and skills.  It is amazing to see volunteers aged 20 through to 83 years of age working on a difficulty and working towards a solution together.   And in working towards a solution there is much laughter.   Our Museum sweats the small stuff.   
Prayer:   Gracious God,  we thank You that You bring people into our lives to help us with solving difficulties.   This day,  be with those who are in ministry and need to solve difficulties in the Church.   Grant them  people with creative minds and prayerful hearts.  This we ask in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Monday - grace, mercy, and peace

Prayer:   Great God,  open our minds and hearts to Your Word this day.  May we meditate and reflect upon Your Word and take what we have learned into our lives this day.   Amen.

Read 1 Timothy 1: 1-2

The Opening of a typical Epistle.  The letter tells you who the letter is from and who the letter is for and a blessing concludes the opening statements.  In this letter, Paul writes that Timothy is his true son in the Faith.  That is a major statement to make.  Timothy has Paul’s stamp of approval.  This is important for the new Christians to hear....  this young feller has been sent to them in order to provide them with the example of living a life as a Christian through word and deed.    
Back in the day  in the Presbyterian Church,  all Seminary Students would have an OM.  Ordained Missionary appointment.  This was a two year  appointment to a Church.  After the two years,  the Candidate could be called to become the Minister of that Church.       Back in the day,  most Seminary Students were young of age.     Most were in their mid-twenties.  Congregations who accepted  OM appointments were often teaching congregations.   Both Seminary Student and congregation would learn from each other.   The two point charge of Knox,  Port Carling and Zion,  Torrance was one such pastoral charge that accepted OM appointments.   These two Churches were awesome at  teaching their new Candidates as well as accepting  new ideas and programs from the new Candidates.    What make for  a great ministry between young Seminary graduate and  Churches?   Grace,  mercy,  peace,  and prayer!  Grace and mercy of Sessions  being taught by younger Seminary Graduates.  Grace and mercy of   Seminary Graduates listening to the wisdom of the Elders and congregation.    Peace be unto all.

The OM appointment was a great opportunity to learn about the grace, mercy, and peace of God.    So too does Paul write that the beginning ministry between Timothy and the new Church  must begin with grace, mercy and peace of God.

Today,  reflect upon how God brings and is bringing grace, mercy and peace into the Church you attend.
Prayer:    Great God,  grant us grace, mercy, and peace in our lives and in our words and in our actions.    May we be for the Church  a light to all.    This we ask in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Friday, 21 February 2014

Friday - mentoring to all generations

Prayer:  Divine Healer,   this day and always we come before You laying our sins before You so that You can heal us and remind us yet again of YOur forgiving power.     Great God,  be with those who lead us along the path You have set out for us.   Open our hearts and minds to Your call this day ... in all that we say and all  that we do.  This we ask in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Often when we talk about Paul’s missionary journeys,  we think Paul was heading out all by himself.   In fact, Paul usually travelled with his closest friends.  Timothy is one such friend.  As well,  Paul frequently sent Timothy in to help with new Christian Communities that were having difficulties.    So when we start reading 1 Timothy this coming week,  read the passages knowing of the love and friendship between Paul to Timothy.  Also read 1 Timothy as a mentoring Scripture.    Paul is passing on his knowledge of the Christian faith to Timothy.    Perhaps this could be called Paul’s Advice List?  In this letter, Paul is sharing things that he wants Timothy to remember about the Christian faith after Paul is in Heaven.

This week our family went to visit the XII Manitoba Dragoons 2528 Army Cadets in Virden.    We had a museum presentation on the Battle of Vimy Ridge.    Each time I am in the presence of Cadets (aged 12 to 18 years),  I am  delighted with their leadership and enthusiasm and excellent questions.  In fact,  through their questions  I often learn more about the subject we are presenting because their questions make us stop and think and ponder and then seek out the information.       This is mentoring.    Too often we think mentoring is  from the old  experienced person to a younger person.   Not true at all.   Good mentoring,  true mentoring is the sharing of experiences,  learning,  questions, wisdom, and knowledge between generations.

How do we mentor in the Church?    Christ calls us to share the Good News with those around us and while we do try to live our lives as  Christ lead and as an example to everyone,  there is one step more we must take.  Mentoring.  The sharing of the Good News and love of God with those younger and older than ourselves.

Spend today asking God who will come into your life journey to be mentored.

Prayer:   Almighty and Everlasting God,  who alone works great marvels....  send Your Holy Spirit down upon our Ministers and Elders and Lay leaders and all congregations committed to their charge.  Provide for them the healthful Spirit of Your grace.  Pour down upon them Your blessing.  Grant this O LORD for the honour of our Lord Jesus Christ... our Advocate,  our Mentor,  our Mediator.  Amen.    (adapted from The Book of Common Prayer.  United Kingdom, 1936).

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Thursday - mentoring

Prayer:  Create in me a clean heart O God.  And renew a right spirit within me.   Help me to forgive myself and others this day.  In Christ’s name I pray.  Amen.
            Read Acts 17: 14    Acts 19:22,  and   Acts 20:4
Timothy, whose name means “honouring God”, was with Paul on many of Paul’s missionary journeys.   By reading through these  portions of Scripture,  it will give you a better understanding of the work and relationship between Paul and Timothy as well as the ministry Timothy provided to new Christian communities.
Mentoring.   Paul  prayed and found Timothy with the gifts to be a leader -- to carry on the work of Christ.    Paul then helped Timothy develop his skills of leadership and becoming a mature Christian.   
In our Churches today,  who is the mentor?   Who is the mentor in your congregation?  Who prays and seeks out those in another generation who will carry on the work of Christ and then teaches/instructs them in the way of Christ? 
John,  Glenn,  and I went to Virden on Tuesday to make a Museum presentation on  the Battle of Vimy Ridge to the XII MB Dragoons 2528  Army Cadets.   Cadets are taught about leadership,  learning,  and other skills but it is always interesting to see leadership in action.  Part of the cadet program is older youth,  who have been taught and mentored by the Officers,  sharing those leadership and development skills to the new and younger cadets.  In the Church,  we have almost forgotten how to mentor.  Sure we have Sunday school,  but the participants are not expected to do anything other than show up each Sunday.   What would happen if  mentoring occurred between all ages in a sharing of Christ within the Church and community.     
Prayer:  Create in me a clean heart O God.  And renew a right spirit within me.  Caste me not away from Your presence O Lord,  and renew a right spirit within me.  Provide for  us this day O LORD,   the gifts to begin mentoring and sharing the love of Christ with the next generations.   In Your name and for Your sake,  may Your will be done this day and forever.    Amen.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Tuesday - prayer for those who have left the Church

Prayer:  As the deer longs for running streams of water, so do I long for You O God.  With my whole being I thirst for God, the God of my life.   Amen.

Read James 5: 17-20

Throughout the Epistle of James,  the author has given the Christian Community food for thought.  Here he leaves the Christian Community with one last thought.  New Christians were getting frustrated with the Christian community.   People were leaving  the Christian community and denying the truth and turning away from God.   Never write these people off says James.  Don’t give up on them.  Keep them in your prayers.

Prayer:   God of all Healing,   we lift up to You today those who have gotten frustrated with Your Church here on earth and those who no longer attend Church.    Provide for us the strength and wisdom to go visit with those who have left the Church so that they know of Your love.   Holy God,  open our ears to their cries and their words so healing can begin in Your name.   In all things,  we ask this in the name of Jesus,  Your Son our Lord.   Amen.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Monday - Prayer, Sing, Anointing, Forgive, Heal.

Prayer:  Great God,  may I be joyful in You this day.  May I serve You with gladness and come into Your presence with singing.  I know You, O Lord, and You know me.  You made me and I am Yours.  Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.  Forever. Amen.

            Read James 5: 13-16

 And now James answers the question of “but how can we get ready”?   Pray.  Sing (which is also prayer). Oil of Anointing by Elders.  Forgive.  Heal.   James doesn’t give the list to keep us in a box with stringent rules.  James knows that through the death of Christ we have already been forgiven our sins and given eternal life.   James gives this list to the Christian community,  and to us  saying, “you can be so much more in your life.  You can do so much more for God by  doing these things.”  

Today  take one of the highlighted words --  reflect upon that word all day long  then let us use our reflections to help others.

Prayer:  For You are good O Lord,  You love is everlasting. Your constancy endures from generation to generation.  Glory be to You O Lord.  Amen.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Sunday - prayer for the journey

Prayer:   Gracious God,  as we come before You this day in worship and praise may You use me this week O LORD as Your hands in this world.  Use me this week O LORD as Your eyes to see the world clearly.  Use me this week O LORD as Your body to help with the needs of the world.  Use me this week O LORD as your ears to hear You.  May I use my heart, mind, and soul by coming before You in prayer.  Forgive us of our sins and lift our burdens from us Healing God.   May our prays rise like the evening offering to Your glory and in all things to seek Your will so that when our day is complete,  we know that we have lived this day in prayer,  service, and  mission.    This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Saturday - hospitality

Prayer:  Sing a new song to the LORD for the LORD has done marvellous things.  All the ends of the world have seen God’s marvellous things.   I sing and rejoice and give thanks this day for all of Your glory and love to me.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

  This past week we have been focusing on James’ last advice for the new Christian community.  And this advice is still powerful for us today.   Even in the early Church,  people left the Christian Community.  It happens.  People also leave the Church today.  We never really know why people leave the Church.  Whether it is over a Policy Debate or a Religious Belief  or perhaps they are not asked to use their gifts to help further the Kingdom of God.  People still do leave the Church.

Remembering people who have left the Church is a huge part of hospitality,  graciousness, and often forgiveness.    Sometimes we offer the forgiveness, sometimes they offer the forgiveness but  being able to forgive comes out of our love of God.   And by showing our great love for God, we end up sharing hospitality.

With this idea of hospitality, reflect upon the following questions:

1.  What has been the greatest hospitality you have ever received?

2.  What does the word hospitality mean to you?

3.  How do we as a congregation share our hospitality with new people?

4.  How do we as a congregation show hospitality to ourselves?

5.  What is our Church presently doing to share hospitality with the community?

Now that you have thought about hospitality,  take five minutes and lift up in prayer one family that has left the Church you attend.        Great God,   I give You thanks and praise for the  ________________ family.   May You provide them with Your great love and surround them with Your mercy.  Help them as they are in pain or frustrated with Your Church to know Your great joy.    This day and every day be with them O Lord in all that they do.  May You use me to reach out to them and let them know that Your Church still loves them.   In the silence of my heart, O God,  show me how to be Your love in hospitality to this family.     In Christ’ name I pray.  Amen. 

Prayer is action.  As we pray,  great things happen.  Maybe not immediately,  maybe not for years and years but something does happen.     

This week,  listen to the silence of your heart for God’s words to help this family.  Perhaps by sending the family a “thinking of you” card.  Perhaps by phoning up the family and inviting them for coffee and time to talk.   Tell them that you have missed them.

Prayer:  Use me this week O LORD as Your hands in this world.  Use me this week O LORD as Your eyes to see the world clearly.  Use me this week O LORD as Your body to help with the needs of the world.  Use me this week O LORD as your ears to hear You.  This I ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.


Friday, 14 February 2014

St Valentine's Day Prayer

Prayer:    Loving God  we come to You this

day with love in our hearts and warmth in our

souls.   We offer up to You today love for

our family and friends……  surround our family

and our friends with Your loving care and joy.

Loving Faithful God,  we  thank You for those who

have pointed us towards You on our faith journey.......

May Your love shine upon them this day.

Loving Redeeming God,  we ask that You create

a clean heart in those who have authority so that

they may lead Your people in mercy and justice,

peace and love.........     
 Loving Sustaining God,  be

with those today who are weak and in need of Your

precious love.........
In all that we do and all that we say

this day O Lord,  may we boldly go forth

and  share Your love.  May Your loving will be

done  this day in all our actions and responses.  
In Jesus’ name we pray.     Amen.     

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Thursday - tiding up

Prayer:  Open my eyes to Your word O LORD.  Open my mind to Your understanding.  Open my heart to do Your will this day.  Help me to be patient and stand firm in Your love this day O LORD.  Amen.

            Read James 5: 7-12

Be patient and stand firm.  God is coming.  Persevere and wait for God.  But while you are waiting,  don’t grumble about other people.  Stand fast.  Remember God and share this love of God with others.
Like all human organizations,  nothing runs perfectly.  We all make choices we firmly believe are the right choices.  But too often our choices are our own choices and not choices that are God ordained choices.  The Christian community that James is writing to is now at the stage in congregational living where choices have to be made.  Everyone is stating their choices are THE CHOICES.   Then the finger pointing begins,  the “I’m right and your wrong and if you don’t agree with me I’m leaving”.   James specifically states that we need to be humble.  Stand firm in your faith.  Know what you believe.  And as a Church,  our focus must be upon God and the spreading of the Good News rather than how  much money we need to save in the Bank Account.  Monies are for helping others. 

In James 5:  7-11 section,  James uses the greek word “parousia” …. Advent…. Coming.   God is coming soon.   Interestingly enough,  James knew this Christian community well. He uses a word of “coming” (parousia)  that the community was familiar.  The word parousia is association with an official visit of the Roman Emperor to a city.   This is a big event.  Get ready.  Tidy up,  make yourselves presentable,  help those around you tidy up as well. 
This day, how will we prepare our churches for the coming of Christ?  How will we "tidy up" and make our churches  presentable for this big event?

Prayer:  Divine Healer,  help me to understand what I read, and let it deepen my love for You. Create in my a humble heart O LORD,  and renew a right spirit within me.   In union with Your son, Jesus Christ, and Your people everywhere  may I add my praises in the glory of heaven.  In Christ’s name I pray.  Amen.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Wednesday - Reflected upon riches

Prayer:  Father in Heaven,  by the power of Your Holy Spirit, purify me from being too wrapped up in myself.  Keep my mind from wandering  and my thoughts pure.  Help me to understand what I read and let it deepen my love for You.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

            Read James  5: 1-6

James opens this portion of his letter with two words that reflect back into the Prophets of the Old Testament.  These two words are “weeping” and “wailing”.   The rich will be weeping and wailing because they stored their riches instead of using these riches to help the poor.   Remember that the Church in Jerusalem tasked all new believers with helping the poor, the widowed, and the afflicted.  So how do  these verses affect us today?  How do each of us  help the poor,  the widowed, and the afflicted?      During this time of  Annual General Meetings,  how has your Church helped the poor, the widowed, and the afflicted?    What about all the Churches that have money stored in Bank Accounts, GICs, Bonds, Mutual Funds?  Is storing riches what the Church is all about?

Prayer:   Divine Healer,  help us to seek You out today!  Open our ears so that we can hear Your call to do Your will.  May we serve You today in helping the poor, the widowed, and the afflicted.  In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Tuesday - enthusiasm and joy.

Our house is a small house.  Each room,  except for the bathroom,  is  a multipurpose room.   The quilting room is also home to  the son's  Military kit,  the husband's  bike,  and a door.    Fitting quilting into any home is interesting.   Frequently on blogs and websites are photos of other quilter's  rooms... or studios.   Some quilters claim the basement as their room.  Some quilters claim the spare bedroom as the quilting room.  This summer,  we re-walled in an original bedroom.   This room was used as a dining room for the previous owners.   And I used the room as a office/sewing room.    But after taking radon levels of our basement,  we thought it a good idea to move son upstairs into a bedroom.   So  out went the office and quilting room and up went the walls.      The quilting room moved partial downstairs.   There is no space for the sewing machine and ironing board downstairs so they remain in the kitchen.      I am still not quite used to the new space and frequently end up trying not to do backflips over the bike rack nor  get  bike oil on the fabrics.   And all that military kit  has sooo much fabric that is just the right shade of green...hummm!  But it is off limits for quilting. 

I've been working on a Kaffe Fassett quilt and ran out of available solid or tone on tone oranges, yellows, reds, and pinks  fabrics.  So that project is now waiting upon a day when fabric (and budget) will allow.  In the meantime,  I've unearthed  quilt blocks from 2006.  Time to get this one completed!

St. Andrew's  Brandon has one quilter in the congregation.  It is wonderful to have someone say, "So have you quilted this week?"   An affirmation of enthusiasm.  How neat is that!!!    This same enthusiasm must be in our Churches (you knew  I would bring the Church into this didn't cha :).    A Church without enthusiasm  or a Session without  enthusiasm  is a place lacking in joy.      So  this week....  priority after Museum paperwork is  to sew one block onto this quilt.   Yahoo.   

Monday, 10 February 2014

Monday - God's will be done.

Prayer:  Lord Jesus Christ,  Son of God,  let the wellspring of  Your love and soul flow upon us this day.  Amen.

            Read James  4: 13-17

To be gracious, we need to rely upon God.  But arrogance gets in the way, says James.  We can  not look down our noses and say, “I’m better than he is.”  Or “I’m a better Christian than she is because I go to Church every Sunday and attend Bible Study.”  Being humble is the beginning of understanding what it really means to be called a Christian.  We are only here on earth for a short time.  We ought to say, “God grant me the gift of humbleness”. 
James suggests that each of us need to always remember to ask God that God's  will be done.    "Will" as in  what is God's best plan for us and we leave the plan in God's hands.  God's  will be done means  giving up of our own  needs and wants and listening to what God  has in store for our lives.    Not easy... especially the listening part... but essential as we grow and mature as Christians. 
Each time we pray the Lord's  Prayer,  we pray that God's  will be done in our lives.   Today,  take time to listen and seek out God's  will for our lives.

Prayer:    Great God,  help us  listen to You this day.  Help us be a servant to those who are in need.  Help us  rejoice in Your creation.   Amen.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Sunday - community of prayer

All churches must have living healthy community in order to grow.  Today in Church we are handing out  tea bags and a prayer.   While this gift is for Valentine's  Day,  it gives the Church one portion of maintaining a healthy community.... prayer!

Valentine’s  Day  Gift and Prayer

Inside this envelop is a gift just for you
To use as you please with a cup of hot water or two
As you sit and enjoy this cup of fine tea
Remember to also say a prayer to Thee.


Prayer:    Loving God  we come to You this
day with love in our hearts and warmth in our
souls.   We offer up to You today love for
our family and friends……  surround our family
and our friends with Your loving care and joy.
Loving Faithful God,  we  thank You for those who
have pointed us towards You on our faith journey.
May Your love shine upon them this day.
Loving Redeeming God,  we ask that You create
a clean heart in those who have authority so that
they may lead Your people in mercy and justice,
peace and love.      Loving Sustaining God,  be
with those today who are weak and in need of Your
precious love.   In all that we do and all that we say
this day O Lord,  may we boldly go forth
and  share Your love.  May Your loving will be
done  this day.   In Jesus’ name we pray.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Saturday prayers

Reflecting upon the readings in James and reading portions of Jean Vanier's  book  "Community and Growth" last night made me aware of  community.  Vanier  truly understands the whole concept of a living,  healthy, growing  community.     As a  Christian community,  we can not remain stagnant.    In order to keep our Christian community healthy and living and whole,  we must do more than show up to Church on Sunday.     Vanier states that we must pray,  we must  serve,  we must  remember that we are called by God  to be responsible for one another.  This is the beginning of community.

As  some of our Churches are shrinking in numbers and enthusiasm,  we must focus our thoughts and joy on living together in God's community and sustaining this  Christian community  through prayer,  serving,  and  responsible nurturing.

Great God  as we come to this day of preparation for Your Holy Day of worship tomorrow,  may we remember to nurture Your community.  Help us this day O LORD  to come to You in prayer.   Help us this day O LORD to serve You with great joy.  Help us this day O LORD to be responsible for nurturing Your kingdom here on earth.     Please help us to sweep away all times of impatience,  struggle,  and  frustration so that we can focus on hearing Your words for our hearts and community.
This we ask in Jesus' name.  Amen.

Friday, 7 February 2014

Friday -

Prayer: Great God,  I give You thanks that I can come to You in prayer.  I give You thanks that I can ask for You to uncover my eyes to Your scriptures.  This I ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

            Read James  4: 10-12

Humbleness,  Repentance,  Forgiveness.  These verses state that every Christian must learn to be humble,  to always repent,  and to forgive.  This is what makes for a great Christian community.   However,  darn it all but we are human and we make bad choices which leads us  to not being humble,  to wanting to "stick it to that person",  and to wanting vengeance. 
Today spend time in prayer and ask God to help us recognize where in our life we are holding on to  vengeance  and  anger  and  pride-filled heart. 

Prayer:  Almighty and Everlasting God,  help me to be a servant to others this day. I open my heart and my life up to You.  Show me where I am holding on to vengeance and anger and a pride-filled heart, O LORD.  I lift these things up to You so that in Your healing,  You  once again renew my heart and soul to being humble... to being repentant.... to asking forgiveness.  Center me and heal me  and renew within me Your great strength and wisdom and love.    In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Thursday - more washing

This is the day that the LORD has made.  I will live and rejoice in it!  Amen.

In Chapter 4,  James is warning the community that while yes,  they are praying,  they are praying for the wrong things.  Jesus said, “everyone who asks   receives” (Mat 7:28).  Yet James reminds his readers that they do not receive because they asked wrongly.   They are praying for the things which will satisfy their own desires.  Their focus has gone off of God and onto the wrong things of the world. … also known as their own self-centredness.   

Before entering the sanctuary,  Priests of the Old Testament washed their hands and feet.  Any priest who violated this law would die (Exodus 30: 17-21).   Rabbis instructed everyone to wash their hands before  eating.  Jesus took this command and stated that true cleaniness is in the heart.  It is our inner longings that become our outward actions.  For the community that James was writing too,  the problem was building from praying for the wrong things to fighting within the community to boasting and bragging about their life.   This was ripping apart  the new Christian community.  James warns this community that to deliberately fail to do what one knows is right is sinful.    Wow.

Great God,  thank you for the Book of James that I can be reminded to keep my focus upon You for all thing and at all times.  Cleanse my heart O Lord to do Your will.   In Jesus’ name I pray.  Amen.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Tuesday - washing in water

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,  let Your healing love flow down upon me.  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,  let Your healing love spring up within me.  Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,  let Your healing love flow through me.  Amen.  (Father Simeon Weare  Society of the Common Life). 

            Read James 4: 6-9

James picks up the wisdom from Proverbs 3:34 in vs 6.  Why do you think James quoted this particular scripture to the community?  Then James goes on to say “turn to God.  Always turn to God”.    Washing your hands is a ritual that the Jewish people were instructed to do by God during the Exodus.  Not only is washing one’s hands a ritual but sanitary and keeps us clean.  We remove all the bad junk and are left with love and mercy. 

Today my son is having both knees operated upon.   His surgeon instructed him to shower with a special  soap and scrubbie the night before his surgery and  the morning of his surgery.     This is to keep the area needing surgery "clean".      Isn't it interesting how water has such an important role in our life.   We need water in order to survive.  We wash in water to keep clean  and keep germs at bay.  We  are baptized with the Living Water of Jesus so that we can outwardly show our love for God. 
This day as you wash your hands,  think  on  how water and soap makes us clean.  Reflect on the living waters of baptism and how these very waters made us "clean"  and renews us  within the love of God.

Great God,  this day make me cleaner than snow.  Take up all the things that burden me down.   Help me to turn to You whenever I am confronted with whining and snivelling and quarrels this day.  In Jesus Name I pray.  Amen.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Monday - anger and coveting

Prayer:     I call upon You this day O LORD.  Hear my cry and answer me.  For You are a forgiving God and we are Your people.  Amen.

            Read James 4: 1-5

Peace or discord. Fighting or whining.  The grass is greener on the other side of the fence.  We want that nice stuff or travelling time that everyone else has.   Oh oh.  The community that James was writing to was having problems.  The Christian community was beginning to take their focus off of God and onto  what "everyone else" had in the community... and they wanted it too.   Greed.   Anger.   Not everything was going right and the quarrels were spilling from the Church into the community.  James says, STOP,  think what you are doing. Not only are you hurting the church but you are also hurting yourself and your community in the process.

Do our Churches have this same problem today?   Unfortunately sometimes we do have this problem in the Church of greed or anger or coveting what "everyone else" seems to have.    So how do we bring the love of God back into our Churches and community?    Through prayers of forgiveness.....times of meditation upon scripture..... looking inward at ourselves and  giving to God what causes us to be angry,  unforgiving, and covet.
Prayer:  Help us this day O LORD to do Your will…. to not pick fights or let our hurts grow into anger.  Forgive us LORD and help us see the joy of Your creation.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Sunday -- membership

May the love of Jesus draw us to himself.  May the power of Jesus strengthen us in his service.   May the joy of Jesus fill our souls.  May the wisdom of Jesus overflow our lives with mercy and blessing.          In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.

Today is the day  that son and I join St Andrew's  Brandon MB.   Husband Glenn has been called and inducted to St Andrew's.  What is neat about this Church is  one of my uncles was involved with this Church community.    Joining this Church is like coming home.   How amazing is that! 
This day,  may  each of us  worship God in joy and praise.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Saturday - Devotional time

Prayer:  Great God,  we reflect upon Your love  this day as we go about our lives.  As we watch were we walk because of slippery ice,  may we  give You thanks for the ability to  walk in freedom.    As  we wait in the check-out lines,  O LORD,  may we give You thanks for the ability  to wait in joy.    As  we  review sermons  or  center ourselves in meditations,  may we  give You thanks  for the ability You have given us to Worship You.  Amen.

This  week  there have been discussions of  how long should a Christian  spend in reflection,  meditation,  prayer,  and reading scripture each day.  The  answer is it differs between ages and abilities but if one does not spend  a bare minimum of 30 minutes per day in study of scripture, prayer and meditation,  then one is  not fully involved in a relationship with God.     Some people say they do short times of prayer - study-meditation each day.  Some people say that they take the first minutes at the Church Office for prayer-study-meditation.   

Good ol'  St Benedict  said that  prayer,  study,  meditation,  and work  must be our priority and the other stuff get added in where needed.    Three to six hours was set aside each day for prayer, study,  and meditation.   

Back in December 1983,  the Rev Dr James Thomson was asked to write a discussion paper for the Knox College Worship Committee on the nature and significance of the College Chapel Service.    During that time,  ministry students were whining that Chapel got in the way of their studies.   For some ministry students,  Chapel  was an addition to their day that irritated them rather than a priority in their day for worship.   For people who have been called to the vocation of Word and Sacrament,  it makes one wonder  at their priorities.  

The Rev Dr James Thomson's  discussion paper is as relevant today as it was in 1983...... "If we complain that the spiritual life of our Church is dead, that people do not pray sufficiently, that prayer is not a vital aspect of the life of our people, then perhaps the fault lies in the fact that we have totally ignored a whole side of public and private devotion that would enable such activity to come to life.  The self-discipline needed to develop a public and private devotional life needs assistance.  That assistance can come conveniently in the form of "the Daily Office",  or some such form which enables people to pray and to praise God with a sense of thanksgiving and affirmation, and to intercede before God concerns the trials and problems of our modern world  The Christian Church today is more akin in its relationship to society to the Church of the first four centuries than it has been since that time.  Perhaps,  therefore,  the time is ripe for Presbyterians to learn how to practice devotional again.  The Chapel Service can be a useful form of such activity."

So,  today  go out and practice devotional again...and also.....don't forget to also clean up your office!

Prayer:   We call You anew this day O LORD,  that we can come to You in prayer and worship and study and meditation.    Help us  to thirst for Your Word.   Help us to love You with joy and glad hearts so that  prayer and study become a delight and not a sacrifice.   Holy God,  Holy Mighty,  Holy Immortal One grant us Your peace.   This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.