July 27, 2013

The Lord’s Prayer As The New Covenant of Jesus (Proper 17)

Jesus teaching on prayer (Luke 11.1-13) is at the heart of our Faith. It is first of all an ideal model or outline for personal and corporate prayer. It can be prayed as is - or expanded on with more specific local petitions. The Prayer is in the form of a covenant. Covenants – such as the Ten Commandments of Moses define who is included and what each party is to do to remain in covenant. This Covenant does not replace, but adds to the Covenant of Moses. This makes the Lord’s Prayer a central teaching on Christian Faith. It is this New Covenant of Jesus that Christians pray and renew as the high point of the Holy Communion Service.

In summary Christian believers covenant (agree) to:
·         Acknowledge the supreme authority of God as their spiritual father
·         Pledge love, loyalty and  respect for the name and character of God
·         Commit to working for the coming of God’s spiritual Kingdom on Earth

In return Christians ask God to covenant to:
·         Give them bread – the daily necessities of life
·         Give them forgiveness – reconciliation with God who is holy
·         Give them spiritual protection – guidance and strengthening in the spiritual testing of life

1. “Our Father in heaven”

July 18, 2013

Only One Thing Is Needed (Proper 16c)

 Jesus is quoting from Psalm 27 - the goal of life is to dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Our dwelling in the house of the Lord forever begins with listening to Jesus and the Holy Spirit in this lifetime. We listen to Jesus when we read the Bible, pray and give thanks. In the Readings Mary has chosen the better part because she has chosen to not be distracted from listening to Jesus by the many other things that needed to be done. Listening is very much on my mind as I have been paying through some challenges in my Interim ministry and have received helpful direction from the Holy Spirit.

 1. So who do you listen to?
Many people are so busy listening to the demands of daily life and their families that they neglect to focus on the voice of Jesus
  • Morton Kelsey – “busyness is not of the devil busyness is the devil’
  • Most people use the word “busy” to describe ‘how they are’
  • At work we listen to colleagues, supervisors and secular culture
  • Fear of failure drives us into ourselves – escape into busyness
  • Voices of shame and guilt drive many people away from God
We get distracted and fail to focus on the one thing we need - help from the one who can really help us. The question for all of us is “What distracts me from listening to Jesus and the Holy Spirit every day?”

 2. Amos warns us of the consequences of not listening to God

July 12, 2013

Mission is to Boldly Proclaim God’s Grace, Love, Forgiveness, Healing (Pr. 15c)

The Readings are very helpful for many churches like St. Magloire’s that are facing the realities of downsizing and adapting to a new model of ministry. Before deciding on a new leadership model, churches need to develop a consensus on mission. “What are we here for?” Thriving churches have a clear and practical motivating vision. (‘survival’ is not a clear or practical motivating vision).

·         Amos (7.7-17) reminds us that God measures us against a standard of straightness – just as a wall is measured by a plumb line.
·         Jesus defines the Christian plumb line as demonstrating our love of God by having mercy on our neighbour
·         Paul explains the process of growing in our love of God as we first hear then believe the Good News; and develop the hope and love in our hearts that is proclaimed in what we say and do in our lives
·         Mission of the Church is to be the body of Christ in the world by teaching and modelling God’s grace, love, forgiveness and healing

1. The Good Samaritan is proclaiming God’s grace by his actions