~ Ideas shared in our Sunday morning messages ~
Have you ever suddenly come across a word or a phrase that makes an indelible imprint on your mind? One word which springs to mind is Spirituality – Spirit-uality. This means living each day by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, reading the Word, praying, listening for the still small voice of the Spirit or giving praise and thanks to God.
Something to think about…
Each week we have a small devotion to contemplate for the days following the service on Sunday. These are included in the BUC newsletter for the congregation but they are also provided for you below to read at your own leisure.
For the week of Friday, 7th August 2020
This week we hear a reading from Genesis that is the start of Joseph’s story. Last week, we heard something of the dysfunctional family into which Jacob was born and this week continues with the story of Jacob’s wives and children.
When we look back at Joseph’s story and how he was placed to help his family as well as the kingdom of Egypt through seven years of famine, we see God’s hand at work. Do you think Joseph felt the same way while he was being sold as a slave and later thrown into prison when his master’s wife accused him falsely of rape?
Have you been in a situation where you look back and see God’s hand has been at work in your life?
I wonder how the disciples felt out in a small boat in the middle of a storm? Did they feel part of God’s plan? Were they confident of a good outcome? Jesus coming to them across the water serves to remind Matthew’s readers (and us) that Jesus does come in time of trouble and in unexpected ways.
For the week of Friday, 31st July 2020
Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak…
1: to contend by grappling with and striving to trip or throw an opponent down or off balance
2: to combat an opposing tendency or force
3: to engage in deep thought, consideration, or debate
4: to engage in or as if in a violent or determined struggle
A number of my sons have, over the years, engaged in a competitive martial art called Brazilian Jujitsu (BJJ). It is a technique requiring not just strength, but also physical flexibility, specific skills, strategic thinking, and endurance. Until the very end of a bout, it is by no means certain whom will out-wrestle whom.
In the Genesis reading this Sunday, we hear of the famous wrestling match between Jacob and…whom? Does Jacob wrestle with a “man” as it is described in the original Hebrew text? Does he wrestle with a heavenly assailant – an angel – as many commentators suggest? Does he wrestle with God Almighty? Whomever he is fighting in the encounter, Jacob seems very well matched with his BJJ opponent, struggling all night, to a standstill!
What might this wrestling match teach us about our own wrestling: with ourselves, with each other, with God?
For the week of Friday, 24th July 2020
The Kingdom of heaven is like…
a mustard seed which grows into a tree, providing a home for birds;
some yeast mixed with flour enabling the dough to rise into loaf of bread, which nourishes.
These are simple pictures giving us a glimpse of God’s kingdom, which isn’t made up of huge amounts of money, grandiose efforts, slick campaigns or eye-catching feats of daring or strength. Rather Jesus suggests it is made up of the seemingly insignificant stuff, the small acts of genuine kindness, loving service, generosity, faithful prayer… which will grow into a tangible expression of God’s presence.
From little things, big things grow!
For the week of Friday, 17th July 2020
This week, we have the second of our two-part series on Flesh and Spirit, with this week’s focus being on spirit. The ‘flesh’ is so substantial, so tangible. We can see it, we can touch it, we can even smell it at times! The “spirit,” in contrast, is so seemingly insubstantial, so intangible, and so mysterious as to beg the question, “Is it actually a figment of our imagination?”
In this week’s message, we will explore this illusive thing that the apostle Paul called spirit, and how it complements the much more familiar flesh. Perhaps spirit, although strange, isn’t so intangible as it seems. Perhaps, rather than being “unreal,” this mysterious thing called spirit is at the very heart of reality and meaning.
For the week of Friday, 10th July 2020
The Spirit is willing…but the Flesh is weak.
The ‘flesh’ gets a bum rap in the Bible, or at least it seems that way. The apostle Paul wrote a lot about flesh and spirit. It seems that he was usually highlighting the problems and the limitations of flesh, whilst extolling the virtues of spirit. What exactly does Paul mean by ‘flesh’ and what does he mean by ‘spirit’? And once we’ve worked out what they are, is it a simple matter of choosing between the two? Is it an either/or situation or is it something else?
We will be exploring these and other questions as part of a two-week examination of flesh and spirit.
For the week of Friday, 3rd July 2020
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In this passage Jesus is not offering us a holiday. We are not being offered freedom from work but freedom from onerous labour that saps our energy. Soul weariness comes from work to which we are ill-suited, or work extracted under compulsion or motivated by fear. Weariness also comes from having nothing to do that really matters.
Accepting Christ’s easy yoke means having something to do: a purpose that demands our all and summons forth our best efforts. It means work that is motivated by a passionate desire to see God’s world realised.
Jesus demands much from us but his yoke is easy because it is work suited to who we are as individuals and who we are as a community. This is why discerning our individual gifts and corporate discernment of a congregation’s call is so important. Once we are working with Christ on the things we are divinely called to, our soul is at ease.
For the week of Friday, 26th June 2020
Among the many things available for watching via the internet in this time of ‘no theatre’ is the State Theatre Offering, The Gods of Strangers. I haven’t yet watched it, but the advertising says: “It is said that if a stranger knocks on your door, you let them in – they could be a god in disguise. But, what do they bring in with them?” It sounds interesting.
The Gospel reading today, focusses on welcoming and being welcomed. Sometimes the people whom we need to welcome don’t come visiting in person, but intrude into our lives by phone or e-mail. In busy lives (perhaps less busy at the moment), we can find it hard to give people a proper welcome.
And it’s all very well to welcome someone whom you’ve invited for a meal or for coffee, but it’s often a different matter to welcome someone unexpected, when you’re busy. There are many different kinds of people who may knock at your door unexpectedly (or send you e-mails or ring you), from scammers, charity collectors, salespeople to neighbours just down the road who have a misaddressed letter for you.
As Christians, we’re reminded to be welcoming, but how do we find the strength and the wisdom to welcome people appropriately? The other readings for the day talk about having faith and the responses that we can make.