Wednesday, 18 December 2019

“Baby.. lying in a manger” Luke 2:1-20

“Baby.. lying in a manger” Luke 2:1-20   

                One week today, the world will stop at least parts of the world will stop; maybe a portion of some countries, maybe some people in your city will stop and just be with family and friends for one of the most cherished and celebrated days of the year.. Christmas. Blessings to you as you prepare to celebrate this day with family and friends and reach out to those who may not be able to celebrate in the same way as you will this year. And may God be with those who our grieving and mourning those as their loved ones are spending their first Christmas with Jesus in heaven.
                But what does this all mean for us in 2019? For centuries this date has been set aside to make it special, to exchange gifts to enjoy the company of family and friends not seen in weeks, months or years. It is a time to share traditions passed along from one country to another, from one generation to another and a time to establish new traditions as families begin to grow older with specific wants and needs.
                Maybe your tradition includes the reading of the Christmas story from Luke 2. Or maybe the beloved poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” adds to your family time. For many people, it is the evening before Christ’s birthday that calls them back to the church where they went as children, or where they have never been before. Maybe it is the Spirit of Christ that is warming the hearts of people to look to what was done in the past and move to something new—because there is a yearning for a simpler life because something or Someone is missing.
                This Someone is God’s gift of love wrapped in a manger. It is the baby who lies in a feed trough, trying to rest as his parents keep him warm and clean in a barn crowded with transport animals. It is the baby who sleeps, cries, eats and does what babies do opens the hearts of all who show love. And those who shared their love when this Baby Jesus was born were not family members but strangers sent by angels to go and see, worship and tell. They left their sheep in the field and saw the new parents resting with the baby. There they witnessed God’s Gift to the world just as the angels had told them. They also left rejoicing and filled with God’s Spirit so much that their joy overflowed.
                What about you? When you hear the angels’ words” Glory be to God in the highest and on earth peace.” How will you respond? These shepherds were not only the first ones to hear, they were the first messengers of the story. They knelt before Jesus and then stood before others and proclaimed Christ’s glory. What an amazing perspective the shepherds told to passersby! What an experience we still hear about over 2000 years ago!
                May the peace, joy, hope, love of the Baby in the Manger lead you to worship with those who believe in his coming to earth as a baby, who believe Jesus to be the Christ of the cross and the Saviour of the world.  Worship and tell others this good news in Jesus name and to His glory!

A reminder: Glenwood United Church, 1825 Grand Marais Road West, Windsor, ON will share in worship of Christ’s birth on Christmas Eve, Dec 24 at 7 p.m. Come and worship, be moved by God’s Spirit!
[Inspired by Bill Crowder, “Windows on Christmas: Biblical Perspectives on the Birth of Jesus” Our Daily Bred Ministries, 2019]
[NEXT REFLECTION Wednesday January 8, 2020]

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

The Third Appearance by the Angel Gabriel

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

                The Angel Gabriel appeared a third time to people. But this time, it was not to Zechariah or Elizabeth, or Mary and Joseph- expectant parents-to-be. It was nine months later when Gabriel returned to earth with a very important announcement.
                It was a cold damp night in Bethlehem and shepherds were out tending their sheep. Suddenly there was a bright heavenly light which frightened the shepherds. The angel spoke to the shepherds by first trying to calm them down. Don’t be afraid!  How else were the shepherds to respond? Seeing an angel in bright lights was not a common occurrence so when they saw the angel, they were in shock and fearful of what was to occur. The angel spoke to these shepherds and the moment had come. 
                “There was Good News—for everyone: Today in the city of David there has been born for you a Saviour who is Christ the Lord. You shall find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” What had the shepherds heard that night? What did it mean? What was the message that was so important that angels delivered it?
                The message was that God’s promise of a Saviour had been fulfilled with the birth of a baby in a barn. This baby represented all that is good in the world- hope, peace, joy and love. And through this baby born to lead His people, the reconciliation between God and all people is given. This Prince of Peace in swaddling clothes would bring peace, and shalom, but people needed to learn about him and his purpose.
                The angels’ response after telling this important message to the shepherds was powerful and filled with energy of thousands of voices: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:13-14) But how did the shepherds respond? They became the first messengers of Jesus’ story. They went to see for themselves what the angels told them.
                As we draw closer to Christmas, we will hear again the songs from the ages sung in many different ways- but the message remains—Come faithful people, come and worship Christ the Newborn King” How will you worship Jesus? Do you wish to move your heart and open it further to receive the Christ? This is what the angels sang about to the shepherds and they went in person and worshiped Jesus. We are called to worship together. Are we willing to sing the angels’ song and give glory to God in the highest for the sake of peace in our world?
Gracious and giving God we praise you because you gave to us Jesus as an infant who was born in a stable. Yet he is the One you promised would redeem us from sin and enable us to be reconciled with you. Thank you for the song of the angels as they woke the shepherds to go and see. Wake us and call us to see Jesus for who he is and can be for us today. Amen.
Inspired by Bill Crowder, “Windows on Christmas: Biblical Perspectives on the Birth of Jesus” Our Daily Bred Ministries, 2019

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Gabriel’s Second Appearance

The Angels of Jesus’ Birth

                The angel Gabriel’s second appearance takes place This time the angel goes to the village of Nazareth to share God’s message to a young woman named Mary. Mary was chosen to be the one who would give birth to the promised Messiah. She was both confused and yet submissive. She was ready to do what God asked, but questioned how it was going to take place. She was betrothed to Joseph and did not want to break her promises. The angel assured Mary that the child would be the result of the miraculous intervention of the Spirit. The angel also told her that the baby was to be named “Jesus” meaning “the Lord is salvation” which defined both His character as the Son of God and His mission as Redeemer. Mary said yes. But this was not all Gabriel had to do. The angel then went to Joseph and shared the same message. The child she was to carry would be from God and so Joseph could take her to be his wife in full confidence of her promises.
six months after he spoke with Elizabeth and Zechariah.
                Why are these announcements from the angel Gabriel so important to the story of Christ’s birth? Mary and Joseph received the news that they would be the ones who would parent the Son of God. Mary’s connection with their son would be very closely regarded and for Joseph, to have the Son of God raised in his home was a privilege. They had such strong faith. But they also knew that his life’s purpose was not in the carpentry shop, but doing the working of God and saving others. The Messiah would be living with them in his formative years and so they needed to do their best as they faithfully serve God.
                The angel told Mary and Joseph separately what God’s plan and how it involved them directly. What if Mary said no? Joseph would not have been knowing. But she said yes and so began the waiting time for the baby. Like expectant parents they wanted certain things for him but they did not know that they needed to travel north at this point.  They were getting used to each other and now with the baby, Mary and Joseph were needing to learn great skills very quickly.
                The angel’s messages to Mary and Joseph were filled with joy and wonder and they were afraid of what was to come but because God had sent the angel they knew that tbey were supported by God in more than one way.  How often do we receive signs and messages of God’s love and support for us?
                As we anticipate Christmas are we looking for the signs and messages of God’s love? Are we stuck on social media and wondering where God is? God has never left us but we must acknowledge this. Mary and Joseph were supported and cared for throughout Mary’s pregnancy and when it came time to deliver it was no surprise that the baby was born in a humble setting. When rushing around and preparing for Christmas celebrations take the time to remember Gabriel’s message “Fear not, you have found favour with God.”
                Because of their faith, God called Mary and Joseph to a special task. Be strong in your faith- God still calls people—and you have nothing to fear!
God we thank you for calling Mary and Joseph to take on the special task of bearing and raising Jesus. Out of love we too are prepared to serve you in many ways. Enable this to occur as we wait with expectant harts, the coming of Jesus. Bless us we pray. Amen.
Inspired by Bill Crowder, “Windows on Christmas: Biblical Perspectives on the Birth of Jesus” Our Daily Bred Ministries, 2019

Saturday, 30 November 2019

The Angels of Jesus’ Birth

The Angels of Jesus’ Birth

                As we will soon begin Advent (December 1) we are
called to get ready, to prepare to anticipate again an event that changed the course of world history- Jesus’ birth. As we prepare for this celebration filled with family gatherings, traditions and sharing of stories, we must remember the story of Jesus’ birth and that angels played a significant role. But what/ or who are angels?
                Angels are see throughout the Bible and are called by a variety of names including cherubim, seraphim and living creatures. Sometimes they are described as men, often in bright garments. They appear guarding Eden, waging war, rescuing Peter from prison, worshiping God and even rebelling against God. They are mysterious servants of God who serve as messengers. They warned people of Sodom and Gorrah; rescued those who are faithful Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and they often instructed people as to what to do next. One key role is that they share messages from heaven to earth and this is why they play such a pivotal role in the story of Jesus’ birth.
                The Christmas story is filled with angels including the archangel Gabriel. Gabriel’s message to those key individuals who served God was simply that it was time for the Messiah to arrive.  Zacharias and his wife Elizabeth are told that they would have a child in their older age. This boy would fulfill Malachi’s prophecy from God that He would send an Elijah0like figure who would prepare the way for the Redeemer. But when Zechariah understood the physical realities he and his wife would experience, he questioned all of this. And so Gabriel told him that he would be mute until the child, who was to be named John was born. This occurred and John became John the Baptist who came to “prepare the way of the Lord.”
                As we prepare our way for the celebration of Jesus’ birth are we questioning why we put so much effort into the holiday? Are we questioning the rationale for the expense, for the time and energy? Zechariah questioned the angel and he was unable to speak until John was born do we question the season or are we grateful that people do care and give for the sake of others?
                What is it we are questioning about Advent and Christ’s birth? How will we find answers? Asking questions of others is not a wasted effort, but only a better way to understand who we are in relationship with others and with God. As we enter in Advent ask yourself what is most important for this celebration for you and your family? What is not needed or desired? And also ask how and when you will hear the Jesus’ birth story? When will you hear that the infant Jesus was placed in a manger?  Remember Gabriel and Zechariah and ask the questions of faith which you have- pray and seek answers- be open to receiving God’s answer!
PRAYER: Holy God show us what it means to prepare and welcome Christ in our midst as an infant. You call us to excitement for the season but we ask that you would help us to question what is best for us to know you and grow in our understanding of Jesus in the manger.  We ask this in faith and with hope. Amen.

Inspired by Bill Crowder, “Windows on Christmas: Biblical Perspectives on the Birth of Jesus” Our Daily Bred Ministries, 2019

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

King of Kings

King of Kings

                This is the last Sunday of this church year as we
begin Advent on December 1. With Advent we start of the waiting time before we celebrate Jesus’ birth and then this leads us to the year-long focus of learning about Christ’s love and joy and discovering who he is for ourselves.
                But before we start Advent what if we were to ask a simple question, ”Who is Jesus and why do we worship him?” How do we understand Jesus who is known by so many names- Joseph and Mary’s son, Son of Man, Son of God, wonderful counselor, almighty God, Prince of Peace, I AM, Alpha and Omega- …?
Jesus is more than the baby in the feed trough, the one who died on the cross and the Christ who breathed the Spirit upon the disciples after his resurrection. Jesus is the teacher, healer, miracle worker, preacher and the one who evoked anger and made the leaders of the time anxious about who he was and could be. Yet he willingly gave himself for us after much struggle and uncertainty of what was to happen next.  Who is this Jesus?
                In John, Jesus calls himself, the gate, the way-truth-life, the good shepherd, bread of life, light of the world, resurrection and the life and through these expressions he is stating his connection with God, the great I AM, Yahweh, the one who was, is and will be. It is helpful to understand God as Trinity- Father, Son and Spirit- or creator, redeemer and Sustainer because Jesus is God and God enabled the Son to live a human life. 
                People have different relationships with God yet at the same time know the Spirit is with us no matter what we do or where we go. All we are asked to do is believe.       As we anticipate this Reign of Christ Sunday are we willing to acknowledge Christ’s Crown as king of kings and the cross of death and resurrection? Are we willing to look at that cross and deny who Jesus is for us?     We should be singing, “Crown him with many crowns,” each day because it is through Him alone that we are able to know him as Saviour, Lord, and King.  Let us rejoice in this!
God we thank you for who you are- Father/Son/Spirit; Creator/Redeemer/ Sustainer. Help us to know that we are your faithful people and strive to lift you up as the one who reigns forevermore. Be with us as we affirm our faith, understand our commitment to your church and live each day as the redeemed people of Christ Jesus. Amen.

Monday, 18 November 2019

I AM part 4

“I AM”

“I am the way, and the truth and the life”. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
John 14:6  

                Is there only one way to God? Christians and non- Christians have been arguing this since Jesus first uttered these words. But if Jesu s is merely one  But let us pause a moment here—Jesus is God as we understand God to be Father, SON and Spirit so this understanding that Jesus is only way to God is valid, because he is God. Jesus does not just say he speaks the truth, but his is the truth. He doesn’t say he can give life, but that he is the source of life itself. After all, he raised Lazarus to life and he too rose from death to life. Jesus does not say he is one pathway to God among many, but states I am the only way.
more religious teacher out of countless others, then his claim would be absurd. How does Jesus have a monopoly on the truth or even proclaim that his way is the only way to God. Why do Christians claim that the only way to the Father is through Jesus Christ?
                Jesus taught about who he was to the people all who listened in the synagogue. He also states that they have studied and scriptures diligently just as he has and these words teach about the Messiah. Yet those listening do not believe nor do they want to believe that these scriptures are written about Him. He then taught that if they did not believe that He is the messiah they would indeed die in sin.
                People knew who Jesus was because of the miracles he had performed, the healing of sick and of his teachings. Yet they still wanted more proof. And what did the Roman soldier say at the cross where Jesus died? Surely this was the Son of God.
                In kindness and love we who are Christians want to think that everyone will be present in heaven one day. Yet there are people who do not believe in life after death, nor heaven at all. But as Christians we believe because Jesus made this possible. Through his teachings and the stories recorded about his life on earth, we believe he is the Son of God, who came and died for us. But we must believe that He is the way to God, because He is God. No one else claimed this, because no one else could!
REFLECT:  When Jesus said “I am the way” he stated that he is the way to God, the way to live life and the way to fully understand our life’s purpose. Are we willing to trust Jesus as the way to knowing God and fully experiencing God’s love for us all. What does this mean for you as you seek Christ in your life?
May God bless us as we seek to know Christ Jesus as God’s Son, the “I AM”. Teach us and show us your way of life as we continue to love others in His name. Amen.
Reflections suggested through “I Am the Way: The Amazing Claims of Jesus” by Jack Kuhatscheck, ODB Ministries, 2018)

I AM part 3

“I AM”

“I am the resurrection and the life”. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die, and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”  John 11:25-26  

                Jesus was a close friend to Martha and Mary and  Jesus then looked up and prayed to God the Father. In his prayer He thanked God for hearing his prayers so that others will benefit from knowing who he is. Jesus then called out loudly, “Lazarus, come out?” The man who had been dead came out with his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen around him. He told those watching take off the grave clothes and let him go.   Lazarus was alive and he did not need the binding of linen cloths holding him back from being alive. He was alive.
their brother Lazarus. After Lazarus died, Jesus tried to comfort Martha in her grief by assuring her that he would rise again. Martha believed that this would be true at the end of time, on the last day (v.24) But Jesus had something else in mind. Martha missed the reality that standing before her was Jesus, the one who gives life. Jesus then went to the tomb where Lazarus’ body had been for four days. He asked that the entrance stone of the tomb be removed.
                When a person dies their spirit lives on. Through faith we believe that they have been received by Christ and begin their eternal life. The earthly body can no longer function and so is buried in a special place to remember the individual. Jesus tells us that our earthly life is temporary; what is eternal ifs our lives with God if we believe in Him.
REFLECT:  Jesus raised Lazarus to life and by this he showed that he is lord of both the living and the dead. He is the one who raised Lazarus and he himself rose from death so that we might never die. What does this mean for you as you remember your loved ones?
Thank you God that Jesus rose from death so that we might live eternally. Help, guide and support us as we remember our loved ones who are now with you. Bless us we pray as we continue to tell Jesus’ story to others. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Reflections suggested through “I Am the Way: The Amazing Claims of Jesus” by Jack Kuhatscheck, ODB Ministries, 2018)

Sunday, 3 November 2019

I AM part 2

Wednesday, October 30, 2019
“I AM”
“I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are the thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.”  John 10:7-10

                In Jesus’ time, sheep and shepherds were a common occurrence. In the Old Testament God is often referred to as the “Shepherd of Israel” as Psalm 23  would have been known. “The Lord is my shepherd”. So the image of Jesus being ‘the gate” to the sheepfold would have been relevant. People would have envisioned a sheep pen and would know that there is no gate- except the one the shepherd makes as he sleeps at the entrance in small pens. If a larger sheep pen was used a gate would be present but near the gate would be the place where the shepherd would stay and watch over the sheep entrusted to his care.
                “I am the gate.” Jesus states that he is the one and only way into the pen as a way of watching over the sheep; keeping them safe and secure. And because of this statement, Jesus says I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.
                How does knowing Jesus give us a life that is full? Because we know that in Jesus life is full both now and eternally in him and through him. Those sheep who know him will follow faithfully.  As we grow in our faith we follow his teachings, especially those related to loving God and loving others. But these teachings liberate us by transforming us into the loving, relationship people God intended us to be.
Jesus said “I am the gate’. What does this mean in light of other religions which claim they are the way to God? What does this mean to you personally? Does this image of Jesus the shepherd sitting as the gatekeeper cause you to wonder about your ‘abundant life’?
Holy God as you sent Jesus to save us from sin, he also came to give us a life more abundant then before. Enable us to fully understand this for ourselves- each day. Help us to truly live life and do so knowing that Jesus is the one who made it possible. Be with us, watch over us and continue to be our gate as you protect and guide us. Amen.
                Reflections suggested through “I Am the Way: The Amazing Claims of Jesus” by Jack Kuhatscheck,              ODB Ministries, 2018)

Tuesday, 22 October 2019

I AM part 1

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

“I AM”

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”  John 1:1-3

                As we learn more about Jesus by reading the different   Jesus was present at the time of creation; Jesus existed before Abraham and Jesus is with us now as part of what now call the Trinity.
books of the Bible we soon realize that Jesus, the Son of God, was and is God made flesh.
This concept of Trinity was not understood by early followers nor is it fully understood today. We want to ask how? Why? And this is the mystery of God- who exists in three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Yet for centuries many people rejected the idea of the Trinity because it defies logic. But there are even scientific discoveries which we cannot fully understand.
                Jesus is talking with people about who he is in John 8. When Jesus states, “If I glorify myself my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me… Your father Abraham rejoiced in the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.’ But they said to Jesus, You are not yet 50 years old and you have seen Abraham!”  Jesus answered,’ Very truly I tell you, ”before Abraham was born, I am!” What was Jesus saying? “Before Abraham was born, I am”
                Remember when God first appeared to Moses in the form of a burning bush? Moses asked God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you, ‘and they ask me ‘What is his name?’ What should say?  God’s reply to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM” (Exodus 3:13-14)
                People were skeptical about Jesus’ connection or relationship with God the Father. And when people do not understand, many grow angry. We read in John 8 that those listening to Jesus picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds. (John8:59)  And why? Because they were angry that he should blaspheme against God because he is a mere man claiming to be God. How could this be?
                In the next few weeks we will reflect on Jesus’ other “I Am” statements and what they mean in light of Jesus- the human being and his relationship with God.
When you think about Jesus, how do you perceive God and vice versa? When we read “I AM” do we understand this to be the same person-God? Does this change your idea of Jesus—baby in the manger, man dying on the cross?

Holy God of grace and wonder, we believe Christ Jesus to be your Son in faith and how he enables all of other to draw closer to him, because of his abilities, and teachings. We still draw close to him and so we pray for understanding and hope for Christ is our Saviour and Lord and He s is God. Amen.
                Reflections suggested through “I Am the Way: The Amazing Claims of Jesus” by Jack Kuhatscheck,              ODB Ministries, 2018)

Wednesday, 16 October 2019

Not my Will

Wednesday, October 16, 2019
“Not my Will”

                Jesus prays: “Take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” Luke 22:42
                “God is not a genie in a bottle and your wish is not The Circle Maker. “His command better be your wish. And until his sovereign will becomes your sanctified wish, your prayer life will be unplugged from its power supply. “         
His command.” Writes Mark Batterson in
                Sometimes in our praying we wonder if God is really listening or avoiding us, or in the worst case abandoning us because our prayers go unanswered. Then may be in time we realize that God did answer our prayers, but not the way we thought best, but in God’s better and all-knowing way.  Yet it is in that time in between we wonder if we have been left alone. Yet God promised us to never abandon us because He loves us so much.
                Did Jesus feel abandoned as he prayed and asked God to “Take this cup”? Or maybe He realized what He just asked God to do. This was Jesus’ purpose in coming to live as a human being. He is God’s Son who became the Son of Man for the sake of all people. His humanness was frightened of what was to come. Yet God heard him and the prayer coin flipped and he was ready to do what God wanted him to do; Jesus was ready to make the prophecies come true and die in our place.
                When we pray we are to do so with thanksgiving in our hearts because God makes all things possible and controls all things. Let us be reminded of this when we pray and what we are praying for. How are we praying—with praise, thanksgiving, confession and supplication? Or just an I want list? In faith we pray because we need to draw close to our creator and our saviour. In faith we need to praise God for his many blessings and to say Thank You for all that we are and what we are able to do.
Let us give thanks and praise to Christ Jesus our Saviour, because he fulfilled the prophecy, and lived, died and rose again for our sakes.
God of grace and love we thank you for this time in Jesus’ life when he was praying to you and was struggling. With doing what you asked or living like others. Thank you that you did not abandon him nor will you abandon us in our times of need. Enable us O God to work through our ideas of hope and what this means to us as we strive to be your faithful people. We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
REFLECTION inspired by Elisa Morgan, “The Prayer coin: Reflections on Prayer” Our Daily Bread Ministries 2019 

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Not my Will

Wednesday, October 9, 2019
“Not my Will”

                Jesus prays: “Take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

                Jesus prayed to God that night in the Garden prior to his arrest,
trial and death. He was honest in his prayers when he asked God, “Take this cup,” but at the same time he also prays words that seem in opposition. This is the second side of Jesus’ prayer coin.

                Not what I want-.not my will but yours! Jesus was very honest when he said “Not my will” this is not what he wanted and was ready to give up completely. He was ready to give up with the intent of never claiming a right or interest in what was going to happen. He was ready to abandon the event as it unfolded because it was not His will but God the Father. Yet was this human or divine side of Jesus who was speaking?

                For many people the idea of Jesus even thinking about not fulfilling prophecy through his death is not acceptable. Yet do we really expect Jesus to just go ahead on autopilot and let everything happen as it was foretold? What about his feelings and thoughts, his compassion and love?

                Jesus was really torn about what was to happen. If it was possible to redeem people of their sins in any other way, Jesus was trying to opt in to that solution. But Jesus knows differently. Jesus was real in his thoughts and prayers with the Father—he did not want to die. Take this cup. This is how we pray as well- I don’t want to deal with this- take this cup;  But this is really what I want so take that away and give me the alternative.- We linger and we wonder.

                Yet Jesus turns this around and says—what you want God is what will happen. Philippians 2:6-8 states that “Jesus, who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross!

                Jesus made choices: “not my will – but yours “. And then he expressed the abandon of love he has through his earthly life. He feels for those he leaves behind because he loves them. This prayer also shapes us and teaches us. Jesus learned obedience from what he suffered. Yet God provided what he needed to choose the outcome. God’s will was done- on earth as it is in heaven.    

God a part of us can’t believe that Jesus did not want to die yet we can also understand why. He was leaving people he loved very dearly- not just his disciples, but his family and close friends. But he knew that in order to fulfill prophecy and change the world his death had to occur. And so when he prays not my will but yours we are reminded that we live this life because of and through you alone. Help us to be honest in our thoughts and prayers and keep us under your protection. We ask in the name of Jesus our Saviour. Amen.

REFLECTION inspired by Elisa Morgan, “The Prayer coin: Reflections on Prayer” Our Daily Bread Ministries 2019 |I will conclude this series next week!]

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

Take this Cup

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

“Take this Cup”

                Jesus prays: “Take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

                Jesus prayed to God that night in the Garden of Gethsemane   Jesus was honest with the disciples when he became angry. And he was honest in his prayer to God. He asked God, ‘Take this cup, from me.”
and he had to be exhausted. He and the disciples had just completed sharing in the Passover Feast. But had things that night that even Peter questioned. Why had Jesus washed the feet of his disciples? What did eating bread and dipping it in wine have to do with Jesus? What had Jesus known and they did not? Jesus prayed for a long time in the garden and before he prayed he asked the disciples to keep watch for him. They were to simply stay awake and see what was happening around him. But they might have had too much to eat, and more wine than they should have. They fell asleep. And when Jesus sees them sleeping he grew angry. They couldn’t do what he wanted? He was angry, upset and of course he was being honest with what he felt. The disciples still did not fully understand that this was going to be a long night and the day ahead would bring Jesus’ death.

                I wonder how honest we have been with God as we pray? Jesus asked this when he wanted God to stop what was going to happen. Jesus wanted out. It was truly a ”What I want” prayer. How often do we ask these kinds of prayer—as we plea to remove the pains and sacrifices we face including grief, rejection, misunderstanding, injustice, addition, debt, loneliness, shame.

                Maybe we need to be more honest in our prayers- get angry with God, tell him how you feel what your experiences are and be honest about it. God can handle this because he responded to Jesus’ prayer. Jesus needed him so do you.

                God know you and as Margaret Feinberg wrote: “Prayer is the place where I’m invited to present the parts of myself that no one else sees to a God who already knows and loves me anyway.” Jesus prayed with honesty and trust because he knew he could. Because of His death and resurrection, we too can pray honestly to God and he will answer.

                This is side one of this two sided prayer- honest. We must be honest with ourselves and with God as we pray. Did Jesus really want God to stop all things that had been foretold? Or was he merely honest with God and said I need you to help me through it all. We may also ask that same prayer—take this cup and help me do as you would have me do.

With honesty, God I come to you with a concerned heart and voice. I am pulled in different directions yet I know that you will help me through these things because I trust you and love you. Hear my prayer O God and know again that I need you in my life always. Amen.

REFLECTION inspired by Elisa Morgan, “The Prayer coin: Reflections on Prayer” Our Daily Bread Ministries 2019

Monday, 23 September 2019

Take this Cup

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

“Take this Cup”

                Jesus prays: “Take this cup from me; yet not my will but yours be done.” Luke 22:42

                When we look at this prayer offered by Jesus in the
Garden of Gesthsemane prior to his arrest we might wonder, what was Jesus asking God to do?  He says, “Take this cup from me”. Did Jesus really ask God to let him walk away from his life’s purpose—to die on the cross? How could Jesus choose something for himself and against God’s will with these words? How could Jesus not want what God wanted him to do if even for a moment?

                Maybe just maybe the human side of Christ was fearful of what was to come. Jesus knew what being arrested meant and as one with many followers he would be made an example. For months he knew that the Pharisees wanted him dead. He was a threat to their way of life. And it was not until the crowd was stirred up by the Pharisees when turned against him and cried “crucify” that he really knew what was to happen.

                Jesus asks, ”take this cup” which is complex. Included in this cup is God allowing Jesus to be hurt with the punishment and judgment that evil warrant. No one else could or would be asked to endure this- the sin of the world was on his shoulders. No doubt there were questions and temptation playing a role here as well. After all, Jesus had been tempted very early in his ministry. But God had reassured him when  he spoke from the heavens “you are my Son”.   So here Jesus is being attempted again for he was uncertain of what was to come. And his heart is heavy. How would the plan play out? Will his arrest, trial crucifixion, death be quick or filled with agony and pain? How will his disciples respond? What about Mary his mother? Jesus carried all of this in his heart as he prayed to God.
                Jesus is sorrowful and troubled, deeply distressed and is overwhelmed with sorrow. He is truly being honest with God the Father in this prayer—Take this cup from me.  The part of Jesus that is human has reached its limits and boldly Jesus asks for help. Jesus asks for help not to be rescued from having to go through it but to endure and to be delivered through it.

                Jesus asked God this prayer—with honesty, trust and in the knowledge that God would help him. How often are we praying with full and honest hearts? Do we trust God to help us through our situations? By understanding Jesus’ two-sided prayer, we understand the depth of pain that he was in before he was arrested. May we learn to be honest in our prayers as well.

PRAYER God help us to fully understand what Jesus asked in this prayer with two sides. Help us to pray with the honesty Jesus had as he sought your help in these dark moments before his arrest. Show us how we are to be honest with you in our prayers and to have hope in you always.

REFLECTION inspired by Elisa Morgan, “The Prayer coin: Reflections on Prayer” Our Daily Bread Ministries 2019

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Jesus’ Two-Sided Prayer

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

“Jesus’ Two-Sided Prayer”

                Jesus’ prayer life was very from outs. He lived prayer-
with every breath he took. Often Jesus needed to be encouraged to eat because he worked hard. Yet he stated, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” John 4:32. I don’t think Jesus had a stash of candy anywhere- but what sustained him was his prayer relationship with God the Father.

                Jesus prayed on many occasions but one of the most contentious times of prayer that he had was when he agonized in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. He called to God the father for help yet asked this in two ways.  He prays“Take this cup from me; yet not my will buy yours be done.” Luke 22:42

                One can imagine the setting—in the darkest time of the night is Jesus praying outside. He is tired after celebrating Passover with his closest friends. After showing them humility and wonder at washing their feet and teaching them through these actions, Jesus must be tired. He did not stop teaching. Even as Judas slipped away from the group Jesus knew that he needed to stop and pray.

                After the celebration of Passover he probably them that he needed to pray and so they all went to this Garden. They did not know why Judas had left all they knew is that Jesus was going to pray and so they went to a familiar location. Jesus asks the disciples to stay awake and be on alert for others and for him. Yet they doze while Jesus kneels, face toward heaven and prays. Here Jesus is sitting in the dirt bent over and praying. He is working hard his body temperature rises as he sweats and yet others found it cool. Then Jesus prays that prayer that gives God two options—take this cup from me; OR your will be done. Don’t force me to do this, but I will, if I have to!

                Just think about the inner struggle Jesus had leading up to time when the soldiers who were to arrest him. He is growing tired each moment that goes by and He does not sleep. Does He ask God to be lenient on him to tell him ‘it’s ok- you don’t have to do for the sake of others;’ go back to the carpentry shop! No! Even though the way to the cross will be filled with beatings, whipping and fatigue Jesus was preparing himself. He wants the Father to let the plans play out so that he will be crucified for the sake of everyone then and now.

                Each time hear those words—take this cup and not my will but yours, we might ask, do we pray with two possible outcomes so that we are asking God to choose between yes or no as in a kiosk menu. Or are we earnestly praying that God will help us to see all the sides of the situations in order that we might decide in the way of Jesus according to God the Father’s plan.

                Jesus prayer calls us to think about how and what we are really asking for in our life. With God, we are not merely filling out a form to get what we want. Growing in faith does not enable this to happen. Growing in faith calls us to know who we are and what we are searching for with God’s guidance and strength.

PRAYER   God help us as we struggle with two sided prayers when in reality we know what our actions should be. Help us to see who we are and to know again that God calls us to serve and be and do what is right in His sight. Continue to teach us to pray so that we will know the will of God. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.       

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

“Flipping the Coin on Prayer”

“Flipping the Coin on Prayer”

                This might be a tongue in cheek title for this reflection on
prayer but what is the chances—should we even use this word- of your prayer getting answered the way you want? Let’s reflect on this for a moment. At any given moment God is receiving billions and billions of prayer requests for everything from a good test result on a math quiz to a diagnosis that is not cancer. But will your prayer be answered?
                Jesus was asked this question by his disciples because they witnessed him spending hours and hours in dialogue with God. Why was prayer to important to Jesus? Why should it be important to us? What happens when we pray? For many people it is a recitation time—rambling off the words of the Lord’s Prayer quickly so that one can go to sleep or do what is scheduled for the day. Other people spend many hours just sitting quietly in contemplative prayer invoking mantra words and letting their minds wander over what is happening in their lives. Still others are crisis pray-ers only. They can be counted upon to pray for any and every uncertain situation. When traffic is backed up and stopped, when a person is injured, when a soon to be mom goes into labour these are the prayer warriors.
                But what does prayer do? God hears so many prayers for peace in the world yet we know that Jesus said without him there is no peace. We often pray for the poor amongst us and Jesus stated that there will always be poor. So what are we doing as we pray? Is it for our sake, the other or for God that we should pray?
                The simple answer is all the above. Our prayers will not change God’s nature, purpose or function, but we who pray will be changed.  Just reflect on the last time you sat with your family and prayed- was it before a meal, in a time of crisis, or a celebration? Were those who were present changed? Often what occurs is simply a breath of air that calms our stress, slows our heartrates and then a shifting of focus to what our relationship is and can be with Jesus.
                How do you pray? Jesus calls us to ‘go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. ..Do not heap up empty phrases with many words, because God knows what you need before you ask.” Matthew 6:6-8
                Prayer changes everything, We often see this on billboards, posters or t-shirts. But what does it mean? When we pray for others God is asked to bless the one be prayed for; to have the Spirit envelop them in protection and safety and to lift them up with life. Prayer changes the one who states the words or if unable to verbally say what is in their hearts, the Spirit intervenes and brings forth thoughts of love and devotion.              How are you praying to God? Let us focus our hearts and minds on Him, and he will hear us and respond with love.
God of grace we praise you because you call us to be in conversation and dialogue with you. So we share our thoughts, concerns and l=praise. Be with s we as pray and enable us to know that you have heard our voice filled with hope and love. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Friday, 31 May 2019

Teach us to Pray

Teach us to Pray
How  to Pray

                Jesus prayed and taught his disciples to pray.
As believers, we are called to pray because this is the way we communicate with God. We may not understand exactly how prayer works but we know that God asks us to come to him. When John the Baptist was preparing the way for Jesus, he taught his followers the tradition of prayer. Even though the disciples of Jesus were Jewish and would have memorized the Psalms and shared in Sabbath prayers or their lives, praying in their every day was not how they lived. Remembering that this was a time before all could read and write the disciples wanted to know how to pray.
                Prayer is a lifetime pursuit. Even those who have prayed their entire lives have not truly mastered having meaningful interactions with God. Jesus’ response to this question is in how he teaches them to pray what we know as “The Lord’s Prayer” which begins “Our Father,..”
                Prayer to our Father- “Father” refers to God as the Creator. God the Father is in relationship with us his children and even though we might not all feel comfortable saying Our “FATHER” we might remember that God as a loving parent is always with us- we who are connected as brothers and sisters. So we pray in community with each other.
                Pray in Jesus’ name. Often we end our prayers saying “In Jesus’ name, Amen.” We read in John 14:13 “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” When we pray in Jesus’ name we speak not in our own power but in the name of the One who has all authority in heaven and earth. Our lives and prayers must align with that which honours Christ.
                Pray in the Spirit, The Spirit helps us in our weakness especially in those time when we might be conflicted as to what to ask for. The Spirit intercedes for us through wordless groans from our hearts.  The Spirit is the intercessor our helper when we don’t know what to say or when our prayers don’t seem perfect. The Spirit knows our hearts and knows the Father and in that gap the Spirit is.
                Approach God Confidently. When we pray we are to approach God filled with confidence so that we may receive mercy and grace from God who will help us in our times of need.
                Pray continually. We are to live in constant conversation with the One who loves us. We address Him when we wake up; we worship Him when we see the sunrise; we give thanks for our daily bread at breakfast; we praise Him for work and ask for skill in engaging in it; we pray that our love will abound and that God will use us to share the gospel; we lament over broken relationship and we talk to Him about traffic while driving. We may seek His guidance and strength when challenged, or impatient or needing to comfort another person. We pray for our government, country and world leaders. As long as we are awake we invite Him into our lives.
                We are also to pray in devotion, alertness and with thanks. Paul’s instruction to the Colossians tell us to ‘devote yourselves to prayer being watchful and thankful.” This means to be set apart and ready. We are also to be thankful otherwise we are only making a shopping list of what we want and need. Prayer consists of praise, lament, confession, requests for others and for ourselves and thanks.
                Pray without using words—silence, sitting or standing in an attitude of quiet and waiting in God’s presence. Silent prayer is reflective of “Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Ps 46:9-10.
How do you pray and for what/whom? Jesus’ disciples wanted and needed to learn to pray and we all learn and continue to learn about prayer because it is our way of communicating with God. But how do you pray? What do you say or do you keep silence? How does praying help you grow in your relationship with Jesus- God- Spirit?
PRAYER Our FATHER God  of love we praise you and thank you for the gift of prayer. We thank you that Jesus took the time to teach his disciples about prayer. We thank you that Paul also wrote about the need for prayers in our lives not just occasionally but continually1 help us to delve into our being and share our thoughts and feelings with you so that you will answer with love and hope. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen
RESOURCE:  Sandra Glahn, “Teach Us to Pray,” Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, p.19-29.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Teach us to Pray How NOT to Pray

Teach us to Pray
How NOT to Pray

                               There are different ways to pray and there are
significant ways and times not to pray: 1) 1) praying even those there are broken relationships:   Jesus taught his disciples that if someone has unresolved conflict while they are on the way to engage in spiritual practices, that person should first stop and resolve the conflict before proceeding. Not everyone will respond to reconciliation but to initiate restoration is a good way to prepare to pray.
2) praying to get human praise: Jesus also had little tolerance for those who prayed, fasted and gave money so that everyone would see their good works. But prayer should focus on the goodness of God not on how great we are. People who pray to improve their standing in the court of public opinion receive nothing more from God, having already been paid in full in the form of human applause.
3) praying with too many words, or repeating words meaninglessly  Jesus also criticized those who pray long prayers in public and engage in meaningless repetition. Short prayers in public- long prayers in private. Think about what you are saying as you pray.  A good resource for prayers when you are not sure what to pray is praying the Psalms- as these are prayers written by people who have experienced similar things to you:  Psalm 150—if overwhelmed by God’s greatness-  ways to praise; Psalm 23- assurance;  Psalm 2 angry about injustice; Psalm 51  confession of sin\
4) Pray for others-focus on the spiritual needs of others.
Reflect for a moment about how you have prayed in the past. Have you prayed with a broken relationship on your heart? Have you prayed because the attention would be on you? What about repeating same phrases and statements just to be heard by other people? How much of your prayer time is about the needs of others? Do you really thank God?
What do you think of the suggestion ”short prayers in public, long prayers in private”? Do you practise prayer this way?

PRAYER God of grace we praise you for the gift of prayer and being able to talk with you about anything. Hel us to be aware of the needs of others and to bring these to you as we praise your name. Amen.

RESOURCE:  Sandra Glahn, “Teach Us to Pray,” Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, p.15-18

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Teach us to Pray The Object of Prayer

Teach us to Pray
The Object of Prayer

                The one we draw near to in prayer is so great, it’s only logical that we His creatures should approach Him in humility”. So states Sandra Glahn. 
Peter wrote to suffering Christians that we are to humble ourselves under God because he cares for us. Prayer makes a difference in our lives so we can tell him about our cares and our concerns. God loves us and is ‘near to all who call on him to all who call on him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18) God invites us to draw near and He promises that if we do, He will draw near to us.
                But what about the power of prayer?  As Christians we underestimate the power we invoke through prayer. God is so much power and yet He listens to what we ask. Even though he has created billions of stars in the many galaxies of the universe, he still hears the prayers of individuals. Prayer is “talking with the invisible, speak-worlds-into being, keeps tracks of all stars sent His Son for us God.” Because God is invisible we sometimes wonder if God really hears us when we pray and rain does not fall, when we ask for healing and it does not happen. But we should not give up but to pray continually. So often we are tempted to give up because we might feel that our prayers are not going anywhere. Yet Jesus said, “Ask and it will be given to you.” Petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving prayers are to be made for all people and God will hear and respond.
                To whom do you pray? What are you saying/asking/ sharing? Do you believe your prayers are answered your way or by God’s ways? Sometimes we may not like the answers we get—yes, no, maybe- not yet. But God does answer. The key thing about prayer is to do it and never quit. What we ask for might need to be modified and changed- but how we speak and share our thoughts with God goes beyond the words we say. For God knows our needs before we ask. God knows our joy and wonder, hurts and pains and is ready always to hear us. Just pray.
Have you ever felt that your prayers were left unanswered or totally opposite to what you wanted? What does this mean for us as we pray? God does answer prayer but He also knows the full picture of what your life involves and the choices you made. God’s answers to your prayers are intended to help and guide you. If you have concerns or questions, God will help! Just talk with God!
Holy God we praise you for the gift of prayer-being able to talk with you and seeking your guidance and strength in all that we do. Hear our prayers and in your love, answer. Amen.

RESOURCE:  Sandra Glahn, “Teach Us to Pray,” Grand Rapids, MI: Our Daily Bread Ministries, p.1-14

Friday, 26 April 2019

Easter means Rejoice! Jesus is alive!

Wednesday, April 24. 2019
Easter means Rejoice! Jesus is alive!

                After the cruel agonizing death that Jesus endured on the cross
there is much to celebrate and give praise to God for as we celebrate Christ’s resurrection! He is alive!
                This past week one of our ladies distributed jelly beans of various colours in Ziploc bags. The prayer she included with the jelly beans expresses the joy and thankfulness we should be sharing about Christ’s gift of new life.
Red is for the blood He gave Green is for the grass He made
Yellow is for the sun so bright Orange is for the edge of night
Black is for the sins we made White is for the grace He gave
Purple is for His hours of sorrow Pink is for our new tomorrow
A bagful of jelly beans colourful and sweet; is a prayer, is a promise is an Easter Treat!
                These jelly beans share the message of God’s creation- from grass, to sunshine, sunset and then introduces Christ’s passion story of love – from the sins and God’s grace given to Jesus’ suffering and hope for salvation.
                What does Easter mean for you? As we enter into this season of rejoicing that Jesus is alive do you believe in the resurrection of Jesus? For if we do then this is the beginning of Christian faith. It is the hope we have that when we leave this earthly life we will not die but our spirits will live forever in God’s promised home.
                Jesus died an awful death; his burial was according to tradition and filled with love from the women who tended to his needs and to the man who gave his tomb so that Jesus could rest in peace. But death could not hold him. He rose from death to live again. And so when the women went to grieve at his tomb and anoint his body there was no need for this. Angels told them he was alive. Another account has Jesus speaking to Mary and calling her by name. She knew and believed. And so others soon learned of the resurrection from death.
                And this story of a man who preached in the countryside, was crucified and buried and who rose again has been told for many generations and in many ways. However we understand the story and however we see Jesus dying on the cross, we must remember that the light of life shone into that tomb and Jesus got up. He left some of the linens there and went out of the tomb.
                Today we believe: Christ has died, Christ is risen and Christ will come again. Just how do you share Jesus’ story? And are you willing to do so in faith?

God of grace and love we praise you for raising Christ Jesus to live again and that by his death and resurrection we may receive the gift and promise of eternal life. Bless us we pray as we yearn to know him and to see him for ourselves. Help us to see him wherever we go and whatever we do for by faith we have become his hands and feet and are called to tell his story. Praise be to you O Christ. Amen.