Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Proclaim peace, bring good tidings: “God reigns!”

Morning: Psalm 61, 62; Isaiah 52:1-12; Galatians 4:12-20
Evening: Psalm 68; Mark 8:1-10
“How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim healing … God reigns!”  My friends, some may think God’s good news is na├»ve. They may say we should treat harshly those whose faith differs from our own.  But let us not succumb to fear.  Let us make our feet beautiful and proclaim peace by our actions.  Let us stand in loving solidarity with those who suffer for their faith in God.  For “God reigns.” And the Lord our God is One Lord.

Graham Bland
St. George’s Anglican Church

Monday, January 30, 2017

When I am afraid, I will trust in God

Morning: Psalm 56, 57; Isaiah 51:17-23; Galatians 4:1-11
Evening: Psalm 64, 65; Mark 7:24-37
Muslim Canadians were attacked and killed during prayers in a Quebec mosque last night. Violence comes from fear of strangers; if we respond with fear, fear wins and violence escalates.  But Psalm 56 prays: “In God I trust; I will not be afraid.”  Jesus, as he embraced his mission, healed the foreigners he met.  We, Jesus’ disciples, seek healing and solidarity with one another, and today especially with our Muslim neighbours. Let us “walk before God in the light of life,” and not be afraid. 

Graham BLand
St. George’s Anglican Church

Sunday, January 29, 2017

God is our comfort; who are we to be afraid?

Morning: Psalm 24, 29; Isaiah 51:9-16; Hebrews 11:8-16
Evening: Psalm 113, 122; John 7:14-31
What on Earth is God up to?  What is God up to on Earth?  The Bible’s promise is that God is building a realm of gladness and joy, where “sorrow and sighing will flee away.”  We look forward in faith, and dwell, for now, in that promise.  The Promised Land is not one country – it is all things brought together under God’s loving rule.  Jesus shows us plainly what God is up to and points us towards God’s promises.  We ourselves do not know the Way, but he does. As for me, I will trust and follow him.

Graham Bland
St. George’s Anglican Church

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Turn to God, whose justice never fails

Morning: Psalm 55; Isaiah 51:1-8; Galatians 3:23-29
Evening: Psalms 138, 139:1-23; Mark 7:1-23
Have you considered how wonderfully made we are, formed in the secret place of our mothers’ wombs?  As God made our bodies, so he wants to shape our inward being. For when a heart is joined to God, the outward life honours him.  In Baptism, we say, “I turn to Christ.”  This ‘turning’ may need to happen every day.  But when we truly belong to the Way of Jesus, we need no laws to direct our lives.  We are ‘clothed with Christ’. Then, we know exactly what justice means – we are all in this together.

Graham Bland
St. George’s Anglican Church

Friday, January 27, 2017

Take heart; do not be afraid

Morning: Psalm 40, 54; Isaiah 50:1-11; Galatians 3:15-22
Evening: Psalm 51; Mark 6:47-56
A disciple knows God will be faithful to her, however weak her faith, and however lost she may be!  The law (the Commandments) came to show us that our own good works cannot make us whole, only faith in God. Goodness and healing spring from that faith. And, you do not have to be good for God to believe in you.  When Jesus walked on the water, the disciples learned, too, that faith does not depend on our knowledge or understanding. Faith is trusting God with what we do not understand.

Graham Bland
St. George’s Anglican Church

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Inscribed on the palm of God’s hands

Morning: Psalm 50; Isaiah 49:13-23; Galatians 3:1-14
Evening: Psalm 118; Mark 6:30-46
Do you ever write reminders on your hand?  Imagine … God carves our names on his hand. To God, we are unforgettable.  He remembers us and loves us unconditionally. We don’t have to get everything right!  Perfection is impossible for us, which may be why we hunger for deeper understanding. So Jesus feeds us with truth.  Then he equips those who choose to follow him, so that they, too, will nourish others with real and spiritual food: “You give them something to eat.” 

Graham Bland
St. George’s Anglican Church

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle

Morning: Psalm 19; Isaiah 45:18-25; Philippians 3:4b-11
Evening: Psalm 119:89-112; Acts 9:1-22
How does God transform us?  St. Paul persecuted Christians, but still met the risen Jesus. He spent the rest of his life, calling people to turn to Jesus and to be made whole.  In Isaiah, God says: “To me every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear.” Now St. Paul says: “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!” In Jesus, God brings us from humiliation to glory. Jesus often calls the most unlikely ones to tell others about God’s love.  Maybe you and I are being called, too? 

Graham Bland
St. George’s Anglican Church

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Right Hand of Fellowship

Morning: Psalm 45; Isaiah 48:12-21; Galatians 1:18-2:10
Evening: Psalm 47, 48; Mark 6:1-13
When you act in the cause of justice or truth in the world, you may meet trouble, especially in your hometown.  Jesus discovered his message was not welcome in Nazareth – “Who did he think he was, anyway!?”  We have to decide how and to whom we will speak the truth as we understand it, and who our partners in this work will be.  It may not be easy even then, but to work in partnership with those who see the world differently is itself evidence of justice and truth in action.  There are varieties of gifts.

Graham Bland
St. George’s Anglican Church

Monday, January 23, 2017

Overcome with Amazement

Morning: Psalm 41, 51; Isaiah 48:1-11; Galatians 1:1-17
Evening: Psalm 44; Mark 5:21-43
"Every day," says poet Mary Oliver, "I see or hear something that more or less kills me with delight." Some things stop you in your tracks, if you’re awake – a beautiful melody, an act of kindness. Jesus’ miracles of healing left his disciples awe-struck. Yet we frail humans can take for granted the wonders around us. When we forget God, idols easily take God’s place. We get distracted, so eager for the next new thing that we miss what God has done or is doing. Be amazed!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

3rd Sunday after Epiphany: Encourage one another

Morning: Psalm 63, 98; Isaiah 47:1-15; Hebrews 10:19-31
Evening: Psalm103; John 5:2-18
While the people of Israel were still in exile there, Isaiah foretold Babylon’s fall. Today ‘Babylon’ is a metaphor for the falsehood and evil God hates. All that is not in tune with God will finally fail. So Hebrews encourages us “to provoke one another to love … not neglecting to meet together … encouraging one another.” As Jesus heals people, he brings them from isolation into community. We too must not neglect community. Here we encourage one another in an often troubling world.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Be strong in the Lord … stand firm

Morning: Psalm 30, 32; Isaiah 46:1-13; Ephesians 6:10-24
Evening: Psalm 42, 43; Mark 5:1-20
Governments have long used religion to legitimate their actions. I waited to hear from the religious leaders at the US presidential inauguration as the new president presumed God’s blessing. No prophetic word was spoken. Martin Luther King once preached: “The church is the conscience of the state. It must be the guide and the critic of the state, and never its tool.”  St. Paul warns our struggle is with rulers, authorities and spiritual forces of evil in high places. Let us be strong and pray to be led by God’s light and truth.

Graham Bland
St. George’s Anglican Church

Friday, January 20, 2017

Inauguration Day in the U.S.A

Morning: Psalm 31; Isaiah 45:18-25; Ephesians 6:1-9
Evening: Psalm 35; Mark 4:35-41
One Psalm offers hope on this landmark day: “Lord, who can be trusted with power, and who may act in your place? Those with a passion for justice, who speak the truth from their hearts; who have let go of selfish interests and grown beyond their own lives; who see the wretched as their family and the poor as their flesh and blood. They alone are impartial and worthy of the people's trust. Their compassion lights up the whole earth, and their kindness endures forever.” (Psalm 15)  Peace, be still. God is the Lord, there is no other. Serve him, no other.

Graham Bland
St. George’s Anglican Church

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

Morning: Psalm 37:1-18; Isaiah 45:5-17; Ephesians 5:15-33
Evening: Psalm 37:19-42; Mark 4:21-34
If Jesus uses parables to describe mysteries, who am I to explain them in a few words? … or what Paul meant about wives and husbands!? Better to dwell on this: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.” Or on this: “Trust in the Lord, and do good; … Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart …the Lord loves justice; he will not forsake his faithful ones.”

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Confession of Peter (Week of Prayer for Christian Unity begins today)

Morning: Psalm 66, 67; Ezekiel 3:4-11; Acts 10:34-44
Evening: Psalm 118; Ezekiel 34:11-16; John 21:15-22
Come! See and hear what God has done, whose “steadfast love endures forever”. In this Week of Prayer, Christians pray for unity. For with Peter, Ezekiel, and a myriad of ordinary people down the ages, we agree on this: in Jesus, God shows his face. It is a wonder to be told! We may feel reluctant, or afraid people won’t like it. Some people won’t listen, or care. Yet it’s worth struggling to find ways to express what Jesus means for us and for humanity. It will make all the difference in the world!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Tuesday Jan 17th

Morning: Psalm 26, 28; Isaiah 44:9-20; Ephesians 4:17-32
Evening: Psalm 36, 39; Mark 3:19b-35
Did someone dear ever betray your trust - a child or grandchild, a parent or sibling? Or perhaps they refused to trust you and instead pursued some wrong-headed goal that you knew would bring them trouble? Or maybe you were that person and someone else suffered when you got lost? How grievous it is for God to see us ignore the right path, or worship things, or even curse God. How much it gladdens God’s heart when we finally get it! … “Your steadfast love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens.” Ah, yes!

Monday, January 16, 2017

God’s healing presence in the world … you and me!

Morning: Psalm 25; Isaiah 44:6-8; Ephesians 4:1-16
Evening: Psalm 9, 15; Mark 3:7-19a
There is no other rock. Cling to God and do not be afraid. There is one Body of Christ, held together by the Spirit of God. Here we find our true selves. Here, in truthfulness and love, we grow into full maturity in Christ, the head of the Body. Like the first disciples, we are called to be with Jesus, and in him to find strength to share the Good News, to be God’s healing presence in the world.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Second Sunday after the Epiphany – Come and See!

Morning: Psalm 148, 149, 150; Isaiah 43:14-44:5; Hebrews 6:17-7:10
Evening: Psalm 114, 115; John 4:27-42
Jesus invites John’s disciples, ‘Come and see!’ The woman at the well invites others to come and see Jesus. He is something new from God, a source of living water, a hope to grab onto. Doing God’s will is like food for him. They realize Jesus can show us the way to life. Praise is their instinctive response, giving God credit for Jesus, and enhancing God’s reputation by telling other people … “This is the saviour of the world!”

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The taste of new wine; love beyond knowledge

Morning: Psalm 20, 21; Isaiah 43:1-13; Ephesians 3:14-21
Evening: Psalm 110, 116, 117; Mark 2:22-3:6
God defies our human attempts to domesticate him. Jesus taught that ‘old skins’ would burst when filled with ‘new wine’ … and God is always doing something new; the creation is ever-unfolding. As soon as we think we know God, some new question opens up. But in the love of Christ, we can come close to God’s fullness. We are precious in God’s sight and honoured, and God loves us. Such love is beyond our knowing. But it is enough; it is everything really.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Whom shall I serve?

Morning: Psalm 16, 17; Isaiah 42:1-17; Ephesians 3:1-13
Evening: Psalm 22; Mark 2:13-22
The writer of the Psalms is honest about the key struggle of the spiritual life – whether to serve God, or be content with idols?  Sometimes the Psalmist feels forsaken, but he persists in believing that God is near. And God has come near in a new way in Jesus; God’s spirit was upon him, to bring out justice on earth.  It is now the church that is entrusted with making God’s wisdom known. How? As we become Jesus’ disciples, we learn from him how to live wisely, and the Spirit empowers us to do so.

Graham Bland
St. George’s Anglican Church

Thursday, January 12, 2017

God the Rock, source of our strength

Morning: Psalm 18:1-20; Isaiah 41:17-29; Ephesians 2:11-22
Evening: Psalm 18:21-50; Mark 2:1-12
God is the ‘rock’ – a strong protector who responds to our calls for help. God the rock is not soft, but expects our best efforts, loves honest dealing, and honours faithfulness. Lesser gods – popularity or power – will come to nothing; they may even bring us down. But Jesus helps those who call for aid to walk strongly again into a broad place of welcome, there to be built up as a dwelling place for God. For when God dwells in us, we are strong too, ready to attend to others as God has attended to us.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

The Holy Innocents

Morning: Psalm 2, 26; Isaiah 49:13-23; Matthew 18:1-14
Evening: Psalm 19, 126; Mark 10:13-16
Wickedness will go to great lengths to hide from discovery or challenge. Children’s innocence reminds us who we are, when untouched by evil. So King Herod plotted to kill the children when he believed one of them might be the divine King, come to unseat him. All of which may be why God chose to be revealed in a child and Jesus taught us to become like children … so that we too would challenge unjust power in the world by being ourselves – wise as serpents, innocent as doves.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Looking for happiness in the right place

Morning: Psalm 5, 6; Isaiah 40:25-31; Ephesians 1:15-23
Evening: Psalm 10, 11; Mark 1:14-28
Gently does it! How easy it is to despair at the foibles and failings of our humanity. Yet even when we feel far from God, God’s power supports all that is good and holy and strong in us and loves us into life. This same power is at work in Jesus, to bring wisdom, enlightenment and hope. Jesus called his disciples, and calls us, to change the direction in which we look for happiness, and to look to God instead.

Monday, January 9, 2017

In the wilderness, maybe, but not alone

Morning: Psalm 1, 2, 3; Isaiah 40:12-23; Ephesians 1:1-14
Evening: Psalm 4, 7; Mark 1:1-13
Remember … be gentle with yourself! God knows what a wilderness feels like. There is help and gladness in God. Who do you think measured the oceans? Who weighed the mountains and hills in a balance? Who taught God what God knows? To whom shall we compare God? Now, Jesus makes known the mystery of God’s will and ways. Jesus, who shares our humanity, knows what a wilderness feels like, and he is nearer to us than we can imagine, with all the wisdom of God.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

The Baptism of the Lord

Morning: Psalm 146, 147; Isaiah 40:1-11; Hebrews 1:1-12
Evening: Psalm 111, 112, 113; John 1:1-34
Let’s be realistic – people will let you down. But you can rely on God to lift you up. God became human in Jesus to bring humanity closer to God. The grace, mercy and goodness of God lift up the poor and needy because the Holy Spirit at work in God’s people empowers them also to be gracious, merciful and good. While theologians debate about how the Spirit comes to us, we can be sure that Jesus himself embodied the Spirit of God, and people can too, even the ones who let you down sometimes.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Saturday Jan 7th

Morning: Psalm 103: Revelation 2:1-7; John 2:1-11
Evening: Psalm 104: Isaiah 61:1-9; Galatians 3:23-29; 4:4-7
God sustains all things by steadfast and unceasing love. The earth is founded on compassion. Because patient endurance and tolerance are divine qualities they are also qualities of our humanity. Unselfish humility is a mark of mature humanity. The Good News of God is justice and true freedom, which is the free acceptance of God’s ways. In Christ, there is no distinction among the children of God on the basis of race, class hierarchy, or gender. All God’s children are one in him.

Friday, January 6, 2017

The Epiphany of the Lord; hope for humankind

Morning: Psalm 46, 97; Isaiah 52:7-10; Revelation 21:22-27
Evening: Psalm 96, 100; Matthew 12:14-21
Are we concerned about who governs the affairs of humankind? Be still! God reigns. He made us and we are his. The nations and kings of the earth will one day walk in the light of God’s glory. How? Jesus points the way to that new reality. He proclaims God’s justice. “But he won’t yell, won’t raise his voice; there’ll be no commotion in the streets. He won’t walk over anyone’s feelings, won’t push you into a corner.” (quoted from The Message) Will we place our hope and trust in Jesus?

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Eve of Epiphany, the beginning of a new order

Morning: Psalm 2, 110:1-7; Hebrews 11:32-12:2; John 15:1-16
Evening: Psalm 29, 98: Isaiah 66:18-23; Romans 15:7-13
The world’s rulers jockey for power and prestige. But kings paid homage to Jesus. They acknowledged that he has priority of place. The Psalms of another king, David, warn earthly rulers to be wise and to serve the true King, the Lord who gives strength to his people. A cloud of witnesses testifies that Jesus is King. God wants to gather all nations under Jesus’ loving rule, for by abiding in him, we will know true joy.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ask Jesus the Way; trust God to be with us

Morning: Psalm 85, 87; Exodus 3:1-12; Hebrews 11:23-31
Evening: Psalm 89:1-29; John 14:6-14
Do you wonder about your path in life? “Who will I be? What will I do?” Thomas and Philip wanted to know life’s purpose, wanted to see God. They learned they needed to look no further than Jesus himself. In Jesus, they would find God. The Lord long ago promised Moses he would be with him. The Lord knew the people’s suffering and would be with them to deliver them. The world needs people of faith, to foster the trust that God is in the world and is with us in our suffering today.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Called by our own names

Morning Psalm 68; Genesis 28:10-22; Hebrews 11:13-22
Evening Psalm 72; John 10:7-17
Do you remember names? Our names are important to God, because we are. Jesus calls us by name into unique lives that only we can live. Jacob, called by name, felt the awesome presence of God. He knew that the earth is God’s temple and that everything comes from God. Like the ancient Hebrews, we can feel like strangers and foreigners on the earth, yet we live in the promise and hope of ‘a homeland’ where we are known by name and loved: the Kingdom of God. Christian community is a foretaste.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Praying in the Name of Jesus

Morning Psalm 34; Genesis 12:1-7; Hebrews 11:1-12
Evening Psalm 33; John 6:35-42, 48-51
When I pray “in the name of Jesus”, I put my faith in what God wants. Praying “in the name of Jesus” does not guarantee the prayer is true to him – especially if it’s all about me. If I say ‘yes’ to what God wants, I make myself ready to be transformed. Answers to prayer come when God empowers us to be agents of transformation in the world. Prayer is not only voicing my concerns; it is listening to God’s concerns, and acting on them. In Jesus, God offers us strength and inspiration to live for him.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Naming of Jesus

Morning Psalm 103; Genesis 17:1-16; Colossians 2:6-12
Evening Psalm 148; John 16:23b-30
God’s relationship with Abram and Sarai changed them; they received new names, Abraham and Sarah. God wants to change us too, so that, by living in close relationship with Jesus, “rooted and built up in him”, we become God’s healing presence where we are. ‘Jesus’ means ‘healer’ and we naturally heal the world around us as we become more like him.
In the name of Jesus (i.e. by being true to who Jesus is) you may ask anything of God, and God will hear, for “the Father loves you”.

Heaven is harmony not obedience

Morning: Psalm 119:41-64; Isaiah 8:11-20; Romans 10:1-15 Evening: Psalms 23, 27; Matthew 5:17-20 When, at 18, I left England for America...