Sunday, December 9, 2018

When God doesn’t fulfil your expectations … ?

Morning: Psalms 148, 149, 150; Isaiah 5:1-7; 2 Peter 3:11-18

People don’t reject God so much as their own ideas, or what other people have told them, about God.  When people say, “I don’t believe in God,” it may mean simply that what they’ve been told doesn’t work for them.  Fair enough – we may all get God wrong.  Lots of people were surprised when Jesus did unexpected things.  They thought he was a warrior king … he wasn’t.  They thought he shouldn’t associate with marginalized people … he did.  Even John the Baptist misunderstood Jesus.  When God doesn’t fulfil your expectations, maybe your ‘god’ is too small? … think bigger.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Saturday December 8th – seek truth; pursue wisdom; be patient

Morning: Psalms 20, 21:1-7; Isaiah 4:2-6; I Thessalonians 4:13-18
Evening: Psalms 110:1-5, 116, 117; Amos 5:18-27; Luke 21:5-19

In one Beyond the Fringe skit, a group of devotees prepares for the ‘End of the World’.  When it does not arrive at the appointed hour, the leader says, “Not quite the conflagration we were anticipating, was it? … Oh well, same time tomorrow?”  Perhaps as a species we are inclined to dramatic predictions and expectations about dire circumstances (not that there is nothing to worry about!), but Jesus advises: beware of being deceived; tell the truth as you understand it; pursue wisdom; be patient … Pretty good advice for most situations.

Friday, December 7, 2018

Self-righteousness is blind to its own hypocrisy

Morning: Psalms 16, 17; Isaiah 3:8-15; I Thessalonians 4:1-12
Integrity is measured by actions not words.  The religious leaders whom Jesus confronts expend much time and energy giving instruction to people about what they should believe or do.  But their behaviour does not measure up beside that of the poor widow who gives generously of the little she has.  The religious leaders seek their own benefit when they use their legal expertise to trick the vulnerable.  Next to the rich generosity of the poor widow, the religion of the scribes in their long robes is worthless.  Self-righteousness – either religious or secular – is blind to its own hypocrisy.

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Keeping an open mind about resurrection

Morning: Psalm 18:1-20; Isaiah 2:12-22; I Thessalonians 3:1-13

Debates about resurrection occurred long before reports that Jesus had risen from the dead.  Some – the Sadducees – refused to believe in resurrection; others – the Pharisees – accepted it.  Jesus seems to have understood resurrection as a way of speaking about the mystery of a reality in which all are ‘alive to God’, even those who have died.  How do you believe in a mystery?  Well, probably because you trust the one who points to the mystery without trying to explain it.  I tend to trust Jesus … so I am keeping an open mind about the mystery of the resurrection.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The beginning is nigh!

Morning: Psalm 119:1-24; Isaiah 2:1-11; I Thessalonians 2:13-20
Evening: Psalms 12, 13, 14; Amos 3:12 – 4:5; Luke 20:19-26

I love cartoons of ragged prophets carrying billboards predicting catastrophe.  This Advent season is characterized by dramatic prophecies of the demise of twisted human systems.  Before something new and redemptive is born, we name the evil that the new beginning confronts.  If we just skip quickly to the celebration of a new birth, we may find that the unacknowledged thing that needed to die comes back to bite us.  In one wonderful cartoon, the prophet carries this billboard, ‘The beginning is nigh!’  To live in hope is to know: we cannot rush that better Day, but it is surely coming.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Your own violence will consume you

Morning: Psalms 5, 6; Isaiah 1:21-31: I Thessalonians 2:1-12

How many politicians or sports teams, following defeat, declare, “We win!”?  In Jesus’s parable of the tenants, the vineyard owner (Jesus’s metaphor for God) is defeated.  In other words … those whom Jesus calls to account will reject and kill him.  Yet Jesus still declares, paradoxically, that his Way will triumph.  His disciples should expect resistance, yet the ‘landlord’ will have the last word.  But what about the violence the landowner uses to punish the tenants?  I understand it to mean: If you treat people violently, your own violence will consume you. It’s another law of nature. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

True authority shows itself in Love

Morning: Psalms 1, 2, 3; Isaiah 1:10-20; I Thessalonians 1:1-10
Evening: Psalms 4, 7; Amos 2:6-16; Luke 20:1-8

Has anyone in authority ever shouted at you? Jesus exercises authority, but not like that. The chief priests ask where his authority comes from?  Instead of arguing with them he asks them whether John’s Baptism was from God?  His question challenges them because they know the people believe John was a prophet.  True authority shows itself quietly, not in noisy rhetoric or domineering behaviour.  Jesus challenges old regimes quietly, even as he hangs on the cross.  In him, the authority of healing and forgiving love asserts itself until everyone acknowledges how powerful Love is.  True authority shows itself in Love.

When God doesn’t fulfil your expectations … ?

Morning: Psalms 148, 149, 150 ; Isaiah 5:1-7 ; 2 Peter 3:11-18 Evening: Psalms 114, 115 ; Amos 6:1-14 ; Luke 7:28-35 People don’t reje...