Sunday, 27 May 2018

Make Yourself at Home - What is love?

Make Yourself at Home
Wednesday, May 23, 2018
What is love?

                As Christians we are called to love. “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. “ John 13:35 The ancient Greeks had three   Eros- romantic love, philia brotherly love and agape sacrificial love.
words to define love
                Eros- this is not used in the New Testament but it describes most people’s understanding of love; it is romantic love and not the kind of love Jesus commanded Christians to have for one another.
                Philia-philia love is encouraged as it is brotherly love but not commanded. Philia love is emotional responsive love. This also includes affection mutual respect, and camaraderie. Philia love is beautiful, inspiring, and touching it is also friendship. But is not the kind of love Jesus commanded Christians to have for one another.
                Agape- love that is commanded love and is uniquely Christian love It promises meaningful relationships and not the emotion based love of philia. It is an act of the will. It is characterized by acts of sacrificial service. And agape love consistently seeks the benefit of another person. It is always giving! Agape love may be hard to define but we know it when we see it.—Jesus agape loved us so much he gave himself for us!
                Early Christians believed in agape love—All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possession to give to anyone who had need.” Acts 2:44-45
                Love is central to Christianity—God is love (I John 4:16) God does not ‘do’ love- God IS love! The goal for us as believers is to love from a pure heart.  Wherever love is true—God is there.
What is your understanding of ‘love’? By using the Greek translations of love we can redefine who and what we are to love and how close that loving relationship should/ ought to be. When we are in church community the love we experience is because of the love we each have for Jesus and so we want to share it with others. And it is in this loving relationship we remember who we are and what we can be with and for each other. Have you told others in your church that you love them?
A short song has these lyrics:  “I love you with the love of the Lord. Yes I love you with the love of the Lord. I can see in you the glory of my King and I love you with the love of the Lord.”  Would you be comfortable singing this song with your church family? This song expresses the love we are commanded to have with each other as brothers and sisters in Christ. Are we willing to share it?
God you command us to love each other. Help us to do this when it seems to difficult to reach out and share our love for you with others. Enable us to do this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Kay Swatkowski “Make Yourself at Home: Discovering the Heart of the Church” Discovery House Publishers, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2016 (ch.2)

Make Yourself at Home - …love one another even as I loved you…

Make Yourself at Home
Wednesday, May 16, 2018
…love one another even as I loved you…  John 13:34-35

                What is the heart of the church? What are the greatest  that is we do not share and show love for one another.  This love is the heart of the church as people are the witnesses to the reality of Christ’s love
challenges confronting churches today? Swatkowski states that the greatest challenges are relational. That is, when Christians do not connect meaningfully with other believers,
                Jesus came to unveil God’s love in a way the world had never seen before. The theological foundation of the church is the good news of God’s love for humanity as shown through Jesus. The unselfish love of one believer for another shapes the emotional heart of the church. And we need both.
                Why Community is Important—the desire for community is a nearly universal human longing. Whether they admit it or not, every person has a need to connect with God and with others. Some people refuse that connection with God, others thrive on it! But as human beings in order to survive realities of life we need to connect with others to live.
                In times of crisis it is known that when neighbours had more intimate knowledge of each others’ lives they were better able to help. This too is true of those within a church family but only if trust is established.  True Christian community is constant and universal and unchanging. Through each stage of life and difficult we face the church offers a place where we can grow and nurture the loving relationships people crave. And this is true no matter where one travels.
                True Christian community is eternal since it is based upon the eternal person of Jesus. The Christian community will persist through all ages of history and into eternity. Hebrews 12:1-2- “We are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses”
                True Christian community is made up of believers who have been adopted into the family of God.  It is a place of love, belonging and care without discrimination. Everyone is welcome and everyone receives care. We are family together!
When did someone last make you feel welcome in your church? Not just an offering of a cup of coffee but actually asking questions about you and your life? How did this make you feel? How did you respond? Did you ask questions of the other person, too?
God we thank you that for the church that truly cares about its people being in relationship with one another. Help us to understand Jesus’ teachings on loving others and caring for their needs. Be with us and show us how to love. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Kay Swatkowski “Make Yourself at Home: Discovering the Heart of the Church” Discovery House Publishers, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2016.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

The Message of the Angel

A Rumour of Hope
Wednesday, May 9, 2018
The Message of the Angel
Mark 16:1-8

                Jesus is no longer in the tomb but the tomb is not unoccupied. When the women entered the tomb they saw a young man dressed in white sitting there and they were afraid. He said, ‘don’t be afraid for you are looking of Jeuss the Nazarene who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. Go and tell his disciples.”
                Then the angel tells them where Jesus is going- into Galilee
and this is where you will see him. This statement tells us that he appeared to people at a specific time and space. So the women leave- the empty tomb, the grave clothes and the message of the angel had a profound effect on these women. They were filled with hope and joy and excitement. They were transported from despair into something beyond imagining. So they went out and spread this rumor of hope but it is the only durable rumor of hope the world has ever known.
                Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. According to John’s gospel, after the other women left the tomb, Mary Magdalene lingered. It was in the early morning light that Jesus appeared to her, called her by name. She ran with the news and Peter and John came to the tomb saw the grave clothes and believed.
                According to Mark’s account of the resurrection –the women believed although they did not see. They saw an empty tomb and grave clothes. They did not see Jesus—only Mary did a little later.
Peter wrote “Though you have not seen him you love him, and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” (I Peter 1:8)
                What about you? We have not seen the risen Lord, for he departed this realm of visible things many centuries ago. But we have testimony, evidence and the scriptures. Acts 1:3- “He presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive.” These proofs persuade the intellect and encourage the soul. They awaken hope within us just as those women found their hope awakened in the empty tomb.
                Durable rumor—the only one the world has ever known. But for those who have not yet heard this rumor, the world is still a dark place, as empty of hope as that terrible Saturday between the cross and the resurrection. We have this rumor to share with the world—we need to tell others! It is not a rumor- but by faith we believe!

God we thank you that by faith we believe that Jesus rose from death and is present with us in hope. Help us to tell this story in faith and with love. Enable us to know and grow in our faith with you. You love us so much that Jesus lived, died and rose again for our sakes. We believe, help our unbelief to grow. Amen.
Resource:  (based upon) Ray Stedman, “A Rumor of Hope: The Good News of Easter” Discovery House Publishers, Our Daily Bread Ministries, 2017. (p.29-32)

Thank you for your patience—these past two weeks have been filled with many pastoral and personal care days!

Watch next week for a new series of Reflections!