February 11th - Transfiguration - Mark 9:2-9

Right in the middle of the Gospel of Mark, we have the event which we label, the ‘Transfiguration’, the assurance that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. For not only did the disciples witness Jesus glowing and dazzling white with Moses and Elijah, they heard the voice from the clouds affirming that Jesus is the Son of God.

             For the disciple this is what they may needed to hear. For Peter, the moment was so powerful he wanted to remain there and build a place for Jesus, Moses and Elijah to stay. In a way Peter did not see that there is much more to who Jesus is, but what Jesus is doing. His journey was not about have Him standing in the spot light and having one place to remain and yet also the mission is all about pointing the way towards God for us. He wants us all to have a relationship and include God in our journey of life.

  The journey was one of love not deception, a love far more than anyone of us could do. This may come as a shock but it is not a guarantee that everyone knows that Jesus is the Son of God. It is a reminder that our faith is not a race or a destination but a journey. On our journey through life we also need at times to tell others of who Jesus Christ is to us in our lives, and not to keep Him house up in a tent or temple we have built for Him. Jesus is not to be contained in a building or in our hearts, The glory of God through Jesus Christ needs to be told to the world so that more people may come to know the Love that can only come through god in their lives. Amen

 

February 4th 2018

Reflection: Mark 1:29-39 (before reading the reflection read the verses)

Mark seems to bean impatient writer. It looks like he just wants to tell the story of Jesus , focussing more on His journey rather than His beginnings. The first 28 vrs Mark has introduce Jesus (1:1), Jesus Himself has dealt with Satan in the wilderness (1:10), declares Gods reign on earth (1:12-13), chosen His first disciples (1:16-20), and shown His power over demons (1:21-28). In these verse we read today , again Mark is racing through the life of Jesus. Leaves the synagogue, enters Simons home (1:29), heals Simons mother (1:30-31), heal many nmore (1:32-34), Takes time out to pray (1:35), and move on to other towns proclaiming the Gospel (1:35-39).

Yet Mark also includes that Jesus kept reminding His disciples to keep what they have witnessed a secret. As for us the reader we know the identity of Jesus and of course the demons within the story. Yet It may be so that Mark wants us to understand that amongst all Jesus business, He is not doing it for any one places or nation but for everyone, always moving. And amongst the business He takes time to pray, for it is from God that Jesus is able to do all He does, not Himself, but for God.

Are we able to take time from our busy lives and give time to pray to God, time to give thanks and praise to God, time to sit in Gods presence alone.

Spiritually we need to take time out to recharge our relationship with God. For if there is one important thing we aught to do is have a relationship with God.  Amen.

 

Matthew 21:33-46

Many who live in rural Australia would probably know that we need water, artesian water to live. In order to get to this water we need to drill down, many metres to get to it. The water itself does not need to be pumped, it wells up under its own pressure, life giving water. In theses verses Jesus is revealing the truth to the chief priest and Pharisees by ’drilling‘ through the layers of their denial till they realise He has reached the truth that He is speaking of them. They are the one who have rejected Jesus as the Son of God.

As they have to make ethical and faith choices, so do we. Everyone is given the opportunity to confess Jesus Christ as Lord, while acknowledging that God is made up of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. Our free will has not been taken away, yet we are always being challenged that we become accountable for our actions and choices. We need to allow our faith to ‘burrow’ down through our distractions of life, revealing to us all that what keeps us from a relationship with God, opening before us a landscape of ethical and moral options which can bring forth fruits to help grow the kingdom of God.

Jesus does not set the standard of punishment for the workers actions, but it is the Chief priests and Pharisees that do so. Jesus does not want to see us punished, but rather restored to the full relationship with God.

As we mature in our faith, this means that we are called to practise sound values and sound devotions on our own. We are called to look after the kingdom of God, even when God seems distant.       Amen

 

Matthew 14:22-36

"The reason we seem to lack faith in our times is that we are not doing anything that requires it." Ernest Campbell.

Are we willing to step out of our comfort zones and venture out into the storm partaking in events we have no control over. Are we willing to do this all in faith? Stepping out of the 'boat' takes faith, we step from what we are familiar with into what we may see the full picture. God's love that this world so needs to hear will not get there on its own, it needs people like you and me to do it. Being a disciple of Jesus requires that we take risks, but we do not do it alone if we are reminded that God is always with us.

William H Willimon says it best:

"If Peter had not ventured forth, had not obeyed the call to walk on water, then Peter would never have had the opportunity for recognition of Jesus and to be rescued by Jesus." 

We are not called when we are perfect but we are called when Jesus knows we are ready. We can remain away from the storms that rage around us and continue day to day, but will that deepen our faith, strengthen our faith. If we want to have our faith as a Christian to be strengthened and deepend, we need to walk where Jesus walks spreading justice in the dark places and trusting that He will always be with us.

Reflection:

Most will say that Easter is finished, most have enjoyed the long weekend with family gatherings and great food. This week we in Australia and other places around the world will be gathering to remember all who have fought in wars so that we can live in freedom and peace so we can gather as families and at our leisure. Men and women over the years have fought for our freedom, and we are to be reminded that ANZAC day is not there to glorify war but to remind us that what we may take for granted has been paid for.

Cleopas and the ‘other’ may not be understanding of what may have happened at Easter. And on the road to Emmaus they were discussing the situation they have found themselves, with the disbelief of the death of Jesus and they may have left Jerusalem early before Christ rose from the dead, missing the resurrection.

And it may be for some of us that we too have given up too soon and missed out on the bigger picture of what our Christian faith is all about.

I do encourage us all to both look at our Christian faith in its fullness and not take it for granted or give up before we fully open our hearts eyes and mind to receive Jesus as our Saviour. He has Risen, He has Risen indeed Alleluia.

 

All in secret

 John 3:1-17

             In all of us we have at times displayed a bit of what Nicodemus was going through. He had approached Jesus in secret to find out more of who Jesus really is, Nicodemus is curious to know more yet not wanting the other to know of his curiosity.

             We at times have kept our faith secret for many reasons, and the uncertainty is that we are not ready to live a life according to the teachings of Jesus. We need to know that Jesus’ teachings are there to draw ourselves and others closer to God, to bring all into the kingdom of God.   For those who do not have faith in Jesus Christ these verse may be challenging. And at first the words may sound like there is some thing that we can do to achieve rebirth. To move forward from there it is not what we do, but what we are invited into. Our faith is to believe that Jesus Christ was sent into the world because God loved us so very much (3:16), in simpler terms, God became man for our sake.

  Jesus is inviting Nicodemus, and us, to be born again with water and Spirit, to allow God to work in our lives, to have God as part of our journey. Salvation comes though belief in Jesus Christ and in these verse we are called to open our hearts and imagination to rekindle our relationship with God. To be born again, to more mature, to have the courage to step out into the world and repent of our sins, confessing Christ as our Saviour. And like natural birth, this may take 9 months, but our faith is not measured in time, but it is measured by how we live our lives after we accept Christ as Lord. Let us all step into the light and confess our faith, to one person at a time. Amen

 

Wants and needs?

Reflection: Matthew 4:1-11

5th March 2017

             What struck me when reading these verses of Matthew is the timing of when Satan tempted Jesus. He had fasted for 40 days and nights, was very hungry and vulnerable. Like us, we are most vulnerable when we are at our weakest: hungry, poor, threatened, angry, …. And it is at this time that temptations are so easy for us to react to. What we think is a solution is actually a short term solutions, with long time regret.

             The strength and wisdom it would take any of us to resist the opportunity when power is offered to us when we have none, to be offered everything when we have nothing, to be offered food when we are hungry, knowing that behind every offer there are strings attached. What we need to be reminded of here is that evil will tempt us at every opportunity to draw us away from God which is sin. To break our relationship with God means to act out our lives away from God in the strength of ourselves.

The three temptations presented to Jesus are all ways of distracting Him from his mission given by God.

Because of our humanity we are drawn to want things to happen to us easily, without effort, this is what is often referred to as the wide and well travelled route. Where as Gods desire is for us to travel the road less travelled, to sacrifice our wantsand desires for what we need. What we want and what we need are quite opposite from each other. God ‘s desire is for us to have a full relationship with Him, to understand that it is through God’s grace that we are set free. Apart from this all others have strings attached, limitations to what we could experience as true freedom. Through Lent (1st March till Easter) let us draw closer to God. For salvation ask yourself: what do I want and what do I need?

 

Between a rock and a hard place: Matthew 17:1-9

I am sure you may have heard the saying: Stuck between a rock and a hard place.  And we can remain stuck by simply doing nothing about it, in other words we need to make decisions. The disciples are in such a situation. On one hand they have lived with Jesus and now seeing that He is truly Special, they want to build tents for all to remain and stay on the mountain, A safe and secure place that they are familiar with . Keep the status quo with very little risk. For them this may have been the ultimate experience of God and they do not want to loose it. For they are also aware that if they continue that Jesus was to go to Jerusalem where He will suffer and die. A world which the disciple would rather avoid if possible. Life needs to go on???

  As we approach Lent and the journey to Easter we too may want to the world to stay as it is, building walls around our souls, protecting us from the heartache of the world, yet also keeping us apart from the wonders of the world we live in. The cross for some may be too disturbing or horrific for us to take in, reminding us as to why? Stirring in us the pain, fear and tragedies of this world.

  These verse are a reminder for all of us that we will be faced with Joy and sorrow through our life time, probably more than once. We cannot build a church building and expect God to remain in it. God is every where. Gods light has already shone into the world through the Joys of Easter, forever conquering death for all who believe. Faith is inviting us into the world out of our comfort zones walking with God through the good times and the storms. Acknowledging the ‘God is with us’ Immanuel. God will find us in the darkness. Verse 7: Get up and do not be afraid.’       Amen

 

Counter reactive: Matthew 38-48

In These verses Jesus is not making up these instructions, because he says “You have heard it is said”. The disciples are then assumed to be good Jews and have heard the readings in the books of Exodus 21, Leviticus 24, Deuteronomy 19. These are instructions they are use to and have been living by. Revenge, taking what is not yours, violence, even been oppressed by the ruler of the day seems to be normal.

Jesus is encouraging the disciples to resist the temptation to act according to the rules that keep us separate from each other, through love, understanding, and counter reactive actions.

We could read this as a distant and far off instruction meant for then and not now. Yet over the centuries since then, these words have been used by peaceful protest leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr, Gandhi, and even Nelson Mandela. Nelson Mandela’s actions prevented a civil war. Jesus’ instructions are not merely surfacetrue, they have depth to them: reminds us that God loves us all; change comes through our actions; our actions make us good disciples of our heavenly Father growing the kingdom of God.

We are all called to live as brothers and sisters in Christ in a world that is not all about ‘me’, rather in a world that is all about ‘us’. Fight fire with water, love unconditionally.

 

 

Reflection: Matthew 5:21-37

12th February 2107

According to these verses I should be eyeless, and handless. When we come to talking about sin, it is one subject we all tend to stear away from, as if we have never sinned. Or if we have we do talk about it, as if it was something not that bad. Yet we are called to confess our sins and ask for repentance. This is the gift of forgiveness: where we are to set our selves free so we can continue our lives in relationship with God and each other. This is the ideal: to be blameless before our Lord. We need to understand that at time forgiveness takes time to be acknowledged and time to heal. We can at times think that we are not worthy to come before the Lord and remember all he has done for us. But let me assure us all that we are worthy to come before the Lord, for the truth will set us free, and it is that God loves us so much he will not turn us away. Our sins are forgiven when we come to understand the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Church services should be full of thanks and praise for what God has already done for us, that we can turn to God and be embraced by his non-judgemental and unconditional love. Our ‘thanksgiving’ is there to reconcile our relationship with God, to make us righteous by having a right relationship with God in situation we may find ourselves. No matter how dark the situation gets we can always come before our God, on bended knees and open our hearts to ask for forgiveness knowing we are and will be forgiven. The truth will set you free. Renew relationships with each other.

Salt and light

Reflection: Matthew 5:13-20

             Last weeks reading was about being called to discipleship in thereadings of Matthew 5:1-12. A calling we are all subject too when we can embrace grow because of the love we have been given by God through Jesus Christ. But what does it mean to be a disciple? In this weeks verses we are given and idea of what Jesus means for us to be disciples of Him. Jesus refers to his disciples a s ‘salt of the earth’ and ‘light of the world’. And in verse 20 He talks of our ‘righteousness exceeding that of the scribes and Pharisees.’ What is the meaning of righteousness? This was briefly explained by Jennifer on Sunday. Marcia Riggs says: “the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees is concerned with the observance of tradition, public display of piety, and the adherence to the letter of the law. The righteousness of Jesus flows from his relationship with God and , in turn, is the ground of Jesus’ relationship with his followers.” … … “Exceeding conventional righteousness means that Jesus’ followers seel to live justly as an expression of their worship of God; they have been blessed and are passionate about being participants in God’s vision for the world.

Been ‘salt of the earth’ we are called to bring ‘flavour’ to what may be bland: stir up the Scriptures; the preserve what is good, longer: challenge the faith enough to ensure it last longer. Been light to a dark world … … if we want to see the stars at night, then darkness is keys to enjoy them, we are called like the stars to go into dark places and shine Gods light there, to show others there is a better way.

Jesus message does not end there are how we are to be ‘righteous’, he reminds us in the last verse that in doing so we will enter into the kingdom of heaven. Amen.