Thursday, May 28, 2009

Life in the Spirit

Readings can include Acts 2:1-21; Ezekiel 37:1-14;Psalm 104:24-34, 35b;Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15
Although it is difficult to pick any of the events of the Easter mystery as the pinnacle or climax
in a real sense Pentecost is of great significance because it prepares us for our life as Christians
the gift of the Holy Spirit to the faithful and expectant disciples
is the gift of the Father to live the life that Jesus, the Word of God calls us to live.
The readings talk of many things:
    life being breathed into what looks as though it is dead
And each of these deserves its own individual treatment.
Indeed this demonstrates to us that the Holy Spirit is not a quick fix...but is about God dealing with us comprehensively and completely.
Why would we expect anything else?
This is about the whole of our life and the whole of the world.
Indeed a prayer we often pray is 
Come Holy Sprit and renew your whole creation
So often we seem to think that God is just dealing with my little patch
It is about "the whole creation"
It is also about God dealing with us deeply
and not just tinkering in a titillating or superficial way.
This JOY that the Spirit brings is not merely an amusement or an entertainment it is about the absolute delight and sense of privilege that we know in being caught up iun the mystery of what God has been doing since before the foundation of the world.
It is perhaps the surest sign of the Spirit’s activity in our lives.
Where do you experience the deepest joy in your life?
It is a challenging question.
So often we mistake amusement for joy
yet often joy is about difficult stuff
about working through the challenging issues of life
and realising that although we are often confronted with danger, struggle, weakness
that the Joy that the Spirit brings transforms our life

This week
●Where has God given you the greatest JOY
●How can I nurture this
●What is God inviting me to be, know and do, by this active power and presence of the Spirit?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Moving on in faith

Readings for the Sunday after the Ascension (Seventh Sunday of Easter) May 24, 20098 Acts 1:15-26 Psalm 1,  I John 5:9-13 John 17:6-19

Now this can either be hard or easy!
Because, either the point of the physical removal of Jesus
that we call The Ascension
is an insurmountable obstacle to 21st century rational-scientific minds
or it is as easy as recognising
that in order to mature
we cannot go on having others
doing for us what we need to do for ourselves!
I opt to think, today, about the Ascension
in this latter way!

In the most obvious sense
God wants mature men and women.
People who will have depth and understanding
that is not achieved
by always stepping in making up for our inadequacies.
Any parent knows the truth of this.
Indeed anyone in any relationship whatsoever
needs to understand this,
we are not called to step in and make up
for the inadequacies, mistakes and failures
of others.
However well-intentioned,
this breeds immaturity and over-dependence,
rather than freedom, initiative
and sophisticated maturity.

There is a difference between supporting people in difficulty
and in not allowing people the opportunity to make their own mistakes!

The withdrawal of the physical presence of Jesus
rather than being an expression
of God's disappointment and heartbreak with the world
can and should actually be seen
as a statement of faith by God in you and me.
God believes that we have within us
the means to be effective people
God believes that we have within us
the means to be effective church
God believes that we have within us
the capacity to fail and to know that failure is not the end

This is what is going on

Two encouragements
This is something about the very nature of what relationship
with God is all about
We are not passive observers
of a world in which God is active
but we are ministers of God's presence to the world.

Now what does a minister do?
A minister acts on behalf of someone
So, a Minister of the Crown exercises authority of behalf of the Queen and the Government.
A minister of the Church
acts on behalf of God.
And we understand that Baptism
confers upon you and me
the responsibility
to be Minister of Jesus
We will say We are the Body of Christ
So Jesus can say to the Father...
I am no longer in the world but they are in the world.

Now this 'they' who he is talking about is you and me

We may feel as though this is too hard sometimes
Jesus prays for our protection
he prays that we may be united to each other
and that we may be filled with joy

He does not pray
that we should be relieved of responsibility
or taken out of the world.
But rather that we should exercise this responsibility

It is a great statement of the trust that God put in you and me
as ministers
to act with confidence in the name of the God who equips us for ministry.

May this be ours too

This week
  • Can we look for opportunity to a faithful minister and commit ourself deliberately to God's care and protection as you seek to be more faithful
  • Look at the circumstances in which we live and see where God is calling us to serve others.
    Pray deliberately for joy where ever we find ourselves to be

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What ever we want!

Readings for Sunday May 17th, the 6th Sunday of Easter  Acts 10:44-48;  Psalm 98;, 1 John 5:1-6, John 15:9-17

St John in the section of the first letter that we read today
reminds us that we come to understand 
what life is about
and how things fall into place
by faith.
This is the victory that conquers the world,
our faith.

This is a seemingly innocent, even predictable, statement
which we may gloss over.
But it is also in a real sense the key.
We proceed to live life in a different way because of faith.
This is about a decision that we make to choose to live life in a deeper
more authentic way.
John hammers home Jesus’s bold assertion that everything flows out of the reality that God loves us.
It is not the declaration of rules and laws, but the reality of a commitment to live life in a radical and deep way
(Perhaps what Scott Peck called the “Road Less Travelled”)
So we are confronted again by the challenge to go out and bear fruit
and we hear the promise
that this fruitfulness will be undergirded by God’s provision of whatever we ask for 
and need to be fruitful.
Notice (as last week) this is not 
wish-fulfilment (the new bike syndrome)
this is purpose-driven   
God makes provision 
out of his love
for everything we need
to live the kingdom life
which brings us the promise of abundance
—–let’s not play games with God
thinking he is a slot-machine
—–we are trying to live the life of faith
so we are likely to need to pray for:
—–forgiveness, love, reconciliation, patience, generosity
much more important than 
a new bike, or even wealth
Abundant, eternal life
will in the end seek to draw out of us
a life of faith 
This is the victory that conquers the world...our faith

What do we want  and need  to live a life of faith?

What is to stop us asking for it?

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Fruit of the vine

Readings for today, Easter 5, May 10th 2009 , can be taken from Acts 8:26-40, Psalm 22: 26-32, 
South Australians in particular appreciate this image of the vine that Jesus uses in John 15
It is a sumptuous and engaging image
and bears much thinking about, with reflection and prayer.
God wants us to be fruitful
he wants us not to have meagre lives
but abundant lives.
Some times we need to understand that fruitfulness comes about by a process of pruning
that is by cutting back
by curtailing ourselves
This process is for long-term fruitfulness
even though in the short term 
it may limit or even seem like it hurts
The passage from 1John reminds us that God’s sole motivation is  love for us
We are not the puppets of a dictator
we are the lovers of a God
who wants only our welfare.

All this prompts us to think that what is being suggested here
is deeper rather than shallower.
It is long-term transformation
rather than short- term titillation.

So when we read (as we do twice in this chapter) 
“ask what ever you wish and it will be done for you” 
we should realise that this is more than just wish-fulfillment.
God is seeking to respond to our deepest need.
I suspect that our deepest need is not to have more stuff or money
It is about attending to our need to be loved
and to love
In the end ...this will always be what we want.

However we name it, even if we have to begin with 
               “But I really want a new car!”
God is offering more than just to be Fr Christmas.
We know this because of John’s assertion over and over again
               God loves me! God loves you! God loves us!
So much so that he is prepared to confront death for us.
There is more being offered here than a new bike, a big house or a pile of cash.

Can you sit with the question...what do I really want?
Can we wrestle about that with God? (Why do I want more? Why do I need trouble to disappear)
What, God, are you offering?
Probably much more than we think!