You are here

URC Daily Devotions

URC Daily Devotion  20th March 2020

Fri, 20/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion  20th March 2020 View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward
The Rev’d Ron Reid is a retired minister in the Mersey Synod serving as Link Minister at Rock Chapel, Farndon. 

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Friday 20th March

Ride On, Ride on, The Time is Right
John Bell © Wild Goose Worship Resource Group
Tune: Winchester New or Ride On CH4 370 

Ride on, ride on, the time is right: 
the roadside crowds scream with delight;
Palm branches mark the pilgrim way
Where beggars squat and children play.

Ride on, ride on, your critics wait, 
intrigue and rumour circulate;
New lies abound in word and jest,
And trust becomes a suspect guest.

Ride on, ride on, while well aware 
that those who shout and wave and stare,
Are mortals who, with common breath,
Can crave for life and lust for death

Ride on, ride on, though blind with tears, 
though dumb to speak and deaf to jeers.
Your path is clear, though few can tell
Their garments pave the road to hell.

Ride on, ride on, the room is let, 
the wine matured, the saw is whet;
And dice your death-throes shall attend
Though faith, not fate, dictates your end.

Ride on, ride on, God’s love demands. 
Justice and peace lie in your hands.
Evil and angels’ voices rhyme:
This is the man and this the time.

You can hear the first verse of this to John Bell's tune Ride On here.  The more accessible tune, Winchester New, can be heard here

St Mark 11: 1-11

When they were approaching Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, ‘Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden; untie it and bring it.  If anyone says to you, “Why are you doing this?” just say this, “The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately.”’ They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, ‘What are you doing, untying the colt?’  They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut in the fields. Then those who went ahead and those who followed were shouting,
‘Hosanna!
    Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!
   Blessed is the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!’
Then he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple; and when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Reflection

The time is right

How often in our lives, and indeed in our Christian lives,  do we prevaricate? There is always an excuse to put things off; anything for an easy life; it will cost too much; someone else might do it; it might not work. I write just before Advent. God judged that the time was right to gift Jesus to the world.  Where would the world be today if, on that morning thirty or so years later, Jesus had turned over in bed?

Your critics wait

Always. Some people delight in saying “I told you so”. Occasionally that might be encouragement, but more usually it’s likely to be gloating. More than once over my life I have been guilty of this, so perhaps proving untrustworthy. The Gospel stories suggest that Jesus never gloated; only encouraged; displaying trustworthiness; looking his critics in the eye.

While well aware

I am aware that when you read this the political landscape may have changed. Or it may not. You will know. One thing to thank God for is growing awareness of the existence of food poverty on our doorsteps. Those who use foodbanks are mortals too. Jesus was acutely aware of what he was doing and of the humanity of those in need.

Though blind with tears

What am I blinded to today? In childhood were we told “It’s no use crying over spilt milk”? Sometimes tears are all we have. But vision clears and the path ahead emerges. There might be trip hazards. Jesus did not trip.

The room is let

Plans can fall into place. Outcomes may be clear to some, but not to all. The trick is discerning whether we actually see clearly or are being deluded. Jesus could see.

God’s love demands

All. Jesus saw and knew the time was right.
 
Prayer

Let the same mind be in us as in Christ Jesus -
as he rode past beggar and child,
critic and shouter, confident that
the time was right.
 
Let the same mind be in us as in Christ Jesus -
when God demands of us justice and peace
and integrity to his creation
the times will be right. -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Ron Reid is a retired minister in the Mersey Synod serving as Link Minister at Rock Chapel, Farndon.  He is a member at Upton-by-Chester URC. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion  19th March 2020

Thu, 19/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion  19th March 2020 View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Thursday 19th March

God of Our Yesterdays
StF 241 © Matt Redman Thank You Music 2008

When we were in the darkest night
and wondered if our eyes would ever see the light
You were there Lord.
When we were in the stormy gale
and wondered if we'd ever live in peace again
You were there Lord.
You were there in the struggle.
You were there in the fight.
You were there all the time.

We praise You the God of our yesterdays.
We praise You the God who is here today.
We praise You our God as tomorrow comes

So whatever lies ahead,
whatever roads our grateful hearts
will come to tread, You'll be there Lord
And we will fix our eyes on You
and know that there is grace enough
to see us through You'll be there Lord.
You'll be there in the struggle;
You'll be there in the fight.
You'll be there all the time.
 
 Bridge
 You're always closer than we know
 Always more involved and in control
 We will trust our lives to You
 The One who was and is and is to come

You can hear this hymn here.

St Mark 5: 21 - 43

When Jesus had crossed again in the boat  to the other side, a great crowd gathered round him; and he was by the lake. Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet and begged him repeatedly, ‘My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.’  So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. Now there was a woman who had been suffering from haemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak,  for she said, ‘If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.’ Immediately her haemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, ‘Who touched my clothes?’ And his disciples said to him, ‘You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, “Who touched me?”’  He looked all round to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.’

While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, ‘Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?’  But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, ‘Do not fear, only believe.’ He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James.  When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. When he had entered, he said to them, ‘Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.’  And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha cum’, which means, ‘Little girl, get up!’  And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. He strictly ordered them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Reflection

Some would craft our story today around the amazing healings of a girl and a woman.  However, not everyone in need of physical healing can tell such an amazing story. I have recently spoken with a couple of people who have told me how God healed them.  I rejoice with them.
On the other hand, I have spoken with person after person who have not had physical healing. 

So instead of healing, I want to think about two encounters with Jesus in this story.  Jairus had clearly met Jesus before. In his desperation to save his daughter’s life, he turned to Jesus, hoping Jesus would do what no one else has been able to do—bring health to his daughter.  The woman with the flow of blood had probably also heard Jesus teaching or at least heard of his ministry of healing. In their need they turned to Jesus.   

Both were people of faith, Jarius as the leader of the synagogue, clearly a man of faith. Jesus said the faith of the unnamed woman had made her well. They both have life-changing encounters with the divine.  

Where have you encountered Jesus or the divine?  Have your prayers opened space in you to encounter God?  Have you seen God in a person who has gone out of their way to listen to you or help you with a task?  Have you heard God speaking through the voice of a mentor or even a stranger?

Jairus and the unnamed woman sought out Jesus.  The encounters with Jesus changed them. So whatever lies ahead, we too can seek God, and when we encounter God, in people and in Word, may we be open to deepening our faith, and to the healing and wholeness God brings.  

Prayer

Living God, 
in times of need and times of joy, 
open our eyes to encounters with you.  
Help us to see you in the ordinary 
and in the extraordinary moments.  
May our encounters help us grow in faith.  
May those encounters bring us healing.  
May our encounters bring us close to others who follow you.  Amen. -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Martha McInnes, Minister, Cardiff and Penarth Group. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion  18th March 2020

Wed, 18/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion  18th March 2020 View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Wednesday 18th March


Jesus Tempted in the Desert
(Ebenezer [Ton-Y-Botel]) 
Herman G Stuempfle © 1993 GIA Publications

Jesus, tempted in the desert,
lonely, hungry, filled with dread;
"Use the power," the tempter tells him;
"Turn these barren rocks to bread!"
"Not alone by bread," he answers,
"Can the human heart be filled.
Only by the Word that calls us
is our deepest hunger stilled!"

Jesus, tempted at the temple, 
high above its ancient wall;
“Throw yourself from lofty turret; 
angels wait to break your fall!”
Jesus shuns such empty marvels, 
feats that fickle crowds request;
“God, whose grace protects, preserves us, 
we must never vainly test.”

3. Jesus, tempted on the mountain, 
by the lure of vast domain;
“Fall before me! Be my servant! 
Glory, fame you're sure to gain!"
Jesus sees the dazzling vision, 
turns his eyes another way;
“God alone deserves our homage! 
God alone will I obey!”

4. When we face temptation's power, 
lonely, struggling, filled with dread,
Christ, who knew the tempter's hour, 
come and be our living bread.
By your grace, protect, preserve us, 
lest we fall, your trust betray.
Yours above all other voices, 
be the Word we hear, obey

You can hear the tune Ebeneezer here.

St John 6: 35

Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.

Reflection

This hymn reminds us that in solitude Jesus wrestled with the world’s standards and shunned them for those of God’s kingdom. Jesus deliberately retired to this lonely place for a long time (which is what the term “40 days” means in Biblical terms).  

All around him in this wild place were little broken pieces of limestone.  They looked just like flat bread. The temptation came that he could feed not only himself, but he could win people over by giving them material things.  In other words, bribe people into the kingdom. Jesus asserted people will never find real life in material things.

At the Temple pinnacle - a drop of 450 feet Jesus is urged to jump to be a sensation.   Jesus declined knowing that you must not make senseless experiments with God’s power. Jesus saw quite clearly the danger of being a nine-day wonder;  sensationalism never lasts. 

Finally standing on a mountain, from which the whole of the civilised world could be seen, the Tempter said; ‘worship me and all this will be yours.  I’ve got people in my grasp, you know. Don’t set your standards so high. Just strike a bargain with me – just compromise a little and everyone will follow you.’  Jesus replied showing there can be no compromise in the war with evil.

In the wilderness, stripped of defences and security, God and community come close.  Wilderness is about struggle. It is in the choices made in the harshest times that we discover both who we are and the nature of the community to which we belong; it is where we wrestle with God.  It is a place where God and ourselves can be found. It’s the place where you discover your identity and vocation and God can meet us there.  
 
Prayer

There have been times, O God,  when we have given in to temptation. 

We have:

searched out the easy way;
longed for worldly things;
not followed your way and;
tried to live without you.
 
Help us to remember that:
people cannot live on bread alone;
we should worship You alone;
and not to put You to the test.
 
May we always guided by Your truth, 
remembering you forgive and sustain.  Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev'd Sue Henderson retired URC Minister member of Bradford on Avon United Church. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

Sunday Worship during the Pandemic

Tue, 17/03/2020 - 16:14
96 Sunday Worship during the Pandemic View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend Dear <<First Name>>

We live in a difficult time with fast moving circumstances in the face of the Covid 19 epidemic.  Since the weekend it has been clear that restrictions were going to be placed on us and yesterday the Prime Minster announced that we should avoid all unnecessary social contact.  Older people,  and those with underlying health problems, have been asked to take even more precautions. The URC's General Secretary and Deputy General Secretaries have, therefore, written to ministers suggesting that every local congregation strongly consider suspending worship services as a a proper response to the Government’s guidance.  We have heard the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Methodist Church, the Church of England and the Muslim Council of Great Britain have all suspended  worship and it is likely that all other churches will too.

Over the weekend I started to plan to offer Sunday services via the Daily Devotions email list.  I'm pleased to say that I had lots of offers of help and from this Sunday we will send out, at 10am, a service in both written and audio format.  This will have the feel of a service on the radio in our style with well known URC people leading worship.  There will be prayers and hymns to join in with as we pray together.  There will also be, from time to time, a chance to share bread and wine together - the first such opportunity will be on Easter Sunday.

There are a number of things you can do now to help this project.
  1. please ask anyone in your church who has email and would like to avail themselves of this form of worship to sign up to receive the Devotions Emails.  They simply need to go to devotions.urg.org.uk
  2. if you would be willing to be a local contact for your church folk who would like these resources posted to them - either on paper or burnt to a CD and are willing to do this then please email me via dailydevotions@urc.org.uk with the subject line CD.  I will then compile a list of of people to email the material out to for you to print (or burn to CD) and distribute locally well before each Sunday service.  I am not able to do this centrally for the URC but we can share the load.  This facility will be available for worship on 29th March but not this week.
On Sunday Michael Hopkins, clerk of Assembly, will lead worship for us with a focus on Mothering Sunday.  On 29th March, Phil Nevard, a minister in the South Western Synod, will lead worship for us. I will lead worship for us on Palm Sunday and Good Friday. Our General Secretary elect, John Bradbury, will lead Easter Sunday worship. Nicola Furley Smith, our new Secretary for ministries, will lead worship for us for Low Sunday. After that Fleur Houston, Nigel Uden, Sarah Moore, Richard Church, Janet Sutton Webb, Neil Thorogood and Ruth Browning will all prepare worship for us.  We will hear a variety of voices in each service and we will create opportunities for you to join in as well.

We hope that these are a useful resource for the church.

Jan Berry has written this prayer which, I think, is a useful one to pray at the moment:

God our refuge,
we seek your protection.
Protect the vulnerable from illness:
those who are old and frail,
weakened by years and struggle;
those who care for others,
expending energy and love;
those for whom inability to work
means hardship and poverty.

Protect us
from the greed and suspicion
which snatches at our own security
stock-piling and panic-buying
that deprives others of the necessities of life.

Protect us from the shortsightedness
which sees the germ in our own eyes
and ignores the plagues
of hunger, war and violence
that take so many lives each day.

Protect us from the isolation
that leads to loneliness and despair
denying the interconnectedness
that links us with one another.

God our refuge
in our panic and fear
may we not lose sight of our common humanity
that makes us one people in you. Amen.

I hope that these resources help us in our panic and fear and keep us connected to the wider Church.

with every good wish


Andy


The Rev'd Andy Braunston,
Daily Devotions from the URC
 
--> Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion  17th March 2020

Tue, 17/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion  17th March 2020 View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Tuesday 17th March

Christ is our light! The bright and morning star
(Highlands Cathedral) CH4 336 © Leith Fisher

Christ is our light! The bright and morning star
covering with radiance all from near and far.
Christ be our light, shine on, shine on we pray
into our hearts, into our world today.

2. Christ is our love! Baptised that we may know
the love of God among us, swooping low.
Christ be our love, bring us to turn our face
and see in you the light of heaven’s embrace.

3. Christ is our joy! Transforming wedding guest!
Through water turned to wine the feast was blessed.
Christ be our joy; your glory let us see,
as your disciples did in Galilee.

You can hear the, stunning, tune here.

St John 2: 1 - 11

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there.  Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’  His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim.  He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’  Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

Reflection

How often in life do we settle for second best or are we asked to accept something offered as a solution more in hope than expectation?  Maybe we’re happy with things that way as we’re able to appreciate the eventual solution all the more when it comes. Maybe, on the other hand, if you’re like me, you’d prefer an effective solution in the first place, one that is expected to work without the wasted resources and opportunities, not to mention the possible unnecessary suffering along the way.

Jesus was aware there was a problem to solve.  People at a joyous occasion of a wedding were thirsty and the hosts will have been feeling embarrassed.  The previous wine offering had been perfectly acceptable as far as it went but what Jesus ‘brought to the party’ was in a different league.

As Christians, why do we let those around us go about their lives in their own way in the hope that they’ll be OK, whilst keeping to ourselves the real light, love and joy that relationship with Jesus brings?

Prayer

Gracious God,
help us to appreciate everything You have done for us, 
particularly Your gift of Light, Love and Joy that is Jesus Christ.  
Help us to share the Good News of Jesus at the earliest opportunity,
rather than as a last resort.
In Jesus’ name,
Amen! -->

Today's writer

Jeff Newall, Lay Preacher, Christ the Vine Community Church, Coffee Hall, Milton Keynes. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

Our Next Series

Mon, 16/03/2020 - 10:18
96 Our Next Series View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Lenten and Passiontide Hymns

Dear Friends,

I hope you enjoyed our two weeks' worth of reflections from David Thompson on Baptism and the Eucharist.  As you will have noticed we have now moved on to a new theme looking at Lenten and Passiontide hymns.  We hope these are useful to you as we journey through Lent.

The news about a possible quarantine situation for older people is worrying and we will be using the Devotions mailing list to send out Sunday services from 29th March in both written and audio format.  More details will follow but we hope this will be a useful resource to the church at this difficult time.

with every good wish


Andy --> Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion  16th March 2020

Mon, 16/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion  16th March 2020 View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Monday 16th March


Led by the Spirit of Our God
(Kingsfold) 
Bob Hurd © OCP Publications

Led by the Spirit of our God, 
we go to fast and pray
With Christ into the wilderness; 
we join His paschal way.
""Rend not your garments, rend your hearts.
Turn back your lives to me.""
Thus says our kind and gracious God, 
whose reign is liberty.

2. Led by the Spirit, 
we confront temptation face to face, 
And know full well we must 
rely on God's redeeming grace.
On bread alone we cannot live, 
but nourished by the Word.
We seek the will of God to do: 
this is our drink and food.

3  Led by the Spirit, 
now draw near the waters of rebirth
With hearts that long to worship God 
in spirit and in truth.
""Whoever drinks the drink 
I give shall never thirst again.""
Thus says the Lord who died for us, 
our Saviour, kin and friend.

4  Led by the Spirit, 
now sing praise to God the Trinity:
The Source of Life, 
the living Word made flesh to set us free, 
The Spirit blowing where it will 
to make us friends of God:
This mystery far beyond our reach, 
yet near in healing love.

You can hear this hymn here.

St Matthew 4: 1 - 11

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’  But he answered, ‘It is written,

“One does not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,

“He will command his angels concerning you”,
    and “On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.”’

Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test.”’

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour;  and he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written,

“Worship the Lord your God,
    and serve only him.”’

Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Reflection

Halfway through Lent, we come to the re-telling of the time that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.

Jesus wasn't on his own going into the wilderness. He was led by the Spirit, as the hymn reminds us. But this leading was not into a quiet and peaceful time away from all the challenges and rigours of daily life. It was into an even deeper time of testing, about Jesus’ own sense of calling, how he understood this and whether he had the courage to live it out.

The time of testing needed a time of preparation, a period in which all other concerns of daily living were set to one side, a space without the support of family and friends.

The time in the wilderness was counter cultural in terms of many of today’s norms and values. So much was set to one side - food, possessions, home, companions on the way. It pushes against the present drive to fill each moment with activity or the internet, and to feel that it’s a failure not to be busy.

In the wilderness Jesus finds himself, and the strength to resist the very real temptations offered to him, of food, of power, of worshipping a false God. From this base he receives the strength to live his life fully and courageously, even to the sacrificial end on the cross. 

As I travel through this Lent, I pray to be open to the Spirit's leading, even when taken to strange and uncomfortable places. May I then be faithful to God in the temptations that come my way, so that I may better offer my life sacrificially in service.

Prayer

Oh God, may I follow where your Spirit leads.
I give thanks for Jesus’ courage in facing up to, wrestling with and resisting temptation. 
Grant me the courage to find the space in which I can be ready to wrestle with temptation.
Give me the strength to resist the desires that lead me away from You.
Prepare me that I may offer my life again in service to You.
Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Dr Elizabeth Welch, is a retired minster, past Moderator of URC General Assembly and member of St Andrew’s URC Ealing. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion  15th March 2020

Sun, 15/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion  15th March 2020 View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward
The Rev'd Fleur Houston, retired minister, member of Macclesfield and Bollington URC.

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Sunday 15th March
Psalm 140

1 Save me, O LORD, from evil men;
From vi’lent men protect my way,
2 For evil schemes are in their hearts,
And war they stir up every day.
3 Like snakes, their tongues have sharpened tips
With vipers’ poison on their lips.

4 Keep me, O LORD, from wicked hands;
From men of vi’lence set me free,
For they conspire to trip my feet.
5 The proud have hidden snares for me;
They spread the meshes of their net,
And on my pathway traps are set.

6 O LORD, I say, “You are my God.”
LORD, listen to my cry for aid.
7 O Sovereign LORD, my Saviour strong,
In battle you protect my head.
8 Refuse the wicked their desire;
To shame them, make their plots misfire.

9 O LORD, let those who hem me in
Be overwhelmed by their own lies.
10 May they be thrown into the fire
Or miry pit, and never rise.
11 May liars find no place to stay,
The violent be swept away.

12 I know it is the LORD alone
Whose judgment vindicates the poor;
It is the LORD who will uphold
And make the needy’s cause secure.
13 To you the righteous praise will give;
The upright in your sight will live.

The Editors of Sing Psalms suggest either the tune Leicester which you can hear here or the tune Ryburn which you can hear here.

Reflection

This is a Psalm for a time of disorientation.

The Psalmist  is lamenting. He has been viciously stung by venomous slander.  He cries out to God to save him from the evil, violent folk who have campaigned against him with such malice, and who seek with callous determination to entrap him in situations of torment and harassment.  And then he states in faith: “You are my God”. And as he does so, the Psalmist remembers the ties of devotion that bind him to God, and turns in confidence to the divine warrior, his proven ally. His enemies are presumed to be God’s enemies as well.  He urges God to annul their plots and give the lying schemers their just deserts. 

The language is strong.  Imprecations such as here in verses 10 and 11, are often seen as an embarrassment to the Church and omitted from our lectionaries.   Surely we are called to love our enemies, not to curse them! But is there not still a place for these verses in our scheme of things?  After all, we too have to face up to fake news, abuse and calculated malice, both personal and public. We are indeed called to love our enemies but this calling must be exercised in the context of the claims of justice – if there is injustice, that must be made right. 

The Psalm ends on a note of confident affirmation   God alone vindicates the poor and needy. God liberates those who lack security and comfort; God saves them even when there is no immediate outward sign of this happening.  And so, this Psalm shifts the way things are. The opening list of complaints ends in the conviction that God will listen to the Psalmist and change his circumstances and those of his world for the better.
 
Prayer

God of all truth,  
in the circumstances of my life today, 
give me greater constancy in my love of you and of my neighbour.  
May I be patient in hope through Jesus Christ 
who for the joy that was set before him endured the Cross, 
despising the shame 
and is now seated at your right hand in glory.   
Amen -->

Today's writer

The Rev'd Fleur Houston, retired minister, member of Macclesfield and Bollington URC. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 14th March 2020

Sat, 14/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 14th March 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Saturday 14th March 

Reading:  Basis of Union of the United Reformed Church (1972) section 15

The United Reformed Church celebrates the gospel sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  When in obedience to the Lord’s command his people show forth his sacrifice on the cross by the bread broken and the wine outpoured for them to eat and drink, he himself, risen and ascended, is present and gives himself to them for their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.  United with him and with the whole Church on earth and in heaven, his people gathered at his table present their sacrifice of thanksgiving and renew themselves, and rejoice in the promise of his coming in glory.

Reflection

By including this paragraph on the Lord’s Supper from the Basis of Union, I do not in any way claim that this has for us the status of Holy Scripture.  But, since I do not suppose that this is the bedtime reading for many of us, it is useful to be reminded from time to time of what we regard as the authoritative statement in our tradition of the meaning and significance of the Lord’s Supper.  It deserves to be better known. Its structure most closely follows that of paragraph 10 of section 5 of the 1956 Statement of Faith of the Presbyterian Church of England; but some of the ideas (and wording) are drawn from the third paragraph of section 5.8 of the 1967 Declaration of Faith of the Congregational Church in England and Wales.  Note the balance between Christ’s sacrifice on the cross in the second sentence and the people’s sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving in the last, the link between what the United Reformed Church does and what the whole Church on earth and in heaven does, and the way that the statement culminates in Christ’s coming in glory at the end.

A Challenge

When you reflect after Communion, ‘What have I done today?, say to yourself, ‘I have done more than on any day in the week.  I have yielded myself to take part with the Church in Christ’s finished Act of Redemption, which is greater than the making of the world.’ 
P.T.FORSYTH, The Church and the Sacraments.
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge.

  Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 13th March 2020

Fri, 13/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 13th March 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Friday 13th March

Reading: Acts 27:33-38

Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, ‘Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing.  Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.’ After he had said this, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat.  Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves. (We were in all two hundred and seventy-six persons in the ship.) After they had satisfied their hunger, they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea.

Reflection

This passage struck me during this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity services which, you may remember, were based on material produced by the Churches in Malta – the island where the ship that Paul and others were on ran aground.  It is not clear whether this action was regarded by Paul as equivalent to Communion; possibly it was not – just as the better-known story of the two disciples at Emmaus at the end of Luke’s Gospel probably was not. But probably we would not have regarded the actions of the Christians at Corinth as a Communion – as Paul did not (see Monday’s Reflection).  But it was an act of Thanksgiving (which is what the Greek word ‘Eucharist’ means); even more it was an act of Faith, since they threw the wheat overboard after they had finished.

Prayer

God of all times and places, give us grace to see our everyday meals, for which we should always give you thanks, as signs of your presence with us in all we do; and may we remember in the humblest things of life, what you have done for us in Jesus Christ out Lord.  Amen. -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 12th March 2020

Thu, 12/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 12th March 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Thursday 12th March 

Reading:  St John 6:35-43, 52-57

Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day. … The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’  So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.

Reflection

This is the passage where Protestants have to ask themselves how much they believe in the Bible after all, and the most surprising people find themselves trying to avoid a literal interpretation of the words.  Thanksgiving prayers in nonconformist liturgies suddenly take refuge in metaphorical words and phrases to avoid praying that the bread and wine may become the body and blood of Christ, lest transubstantiation be found lurking at the door; and Christians suddenly find it easy to identify with ‘the Jews’, who asked ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’  In fact, it is a challenge to us over whether we believe in the Incarnation or not; and English theology has always had difficulty in believing in the Incarnation. In the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Disciples of Christ, of which I was a member for over thirty years, we discovered that both sides found it acceptable to use St Augustine’s language of ‘transformation’; and all Thomas Aquinas was doing with his new word ‘transubstantiation’ was substituting Aristotle’s understanding of matter for the older language, which he regarded as Platonic and therefore less precise.  Today we do not regard the nature of matter in either of those ways; and therefore are easily left stranded between different schools of philosophy. What St John is trying to get across is the significance of one of his favourite words, when describing the teaching of Jesus – what Jesus means when he says that we must abide in him, and therefore in God.

Prayer

Ever-loving God, if we abide in you, we enjoy the closest relationship possible with you.  Save us from stumbling over words, lest the reality of your self-giving love escape us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, your word made flesh.  Amen. -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

Daily Devotion from the URC 11th March 2020

Wed, 11/03/2020 - 06:00
96 Daily Devotion from the URC 11th March 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Wednesday 11th March 

Reading:  St John 13:1-5; 12-17, 20

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father.  Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end…And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him … After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord – and you are right, for that it what I am.  So if I your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. … Very truly. I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.’

Reflection

We all realise that there is no description of the institution of the Lord’s Supper in John’s Gospel.  Instead there is an acted parable of the relationship between Teacher and Disciple, Lord and Servant. By taking upon himself the most menial task for anyone is a host’s household, Jesus powerfully illustrates the changed relationships in the Kingdom of God.  Furthermore in the final verse of this passage, the image of this new relationship is extended to that between the Father and the Son in a way which fits uneasily with the equality of the three persons in God, as expounded by the Council of Chalcedon (451) – though that should not worry us too much.  The point here is the equal standing of each of us at the Lord’s Table, with none of us daring to claim the role of the host.

Prayer

Strengthen for service, Lord, the hands that have taken holy things; may the ears that have heard your word be deaf to clamour and dispute; may the tongues that have sung your praise be free from deceit; may the eyes that have seen the tokens of your love shine with the light of hope; and may the bodies which have been fed with your body be refreshed with the fullness of your life; glory to you for ever.  Amen. (Liturgy of Malabar) -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 10th March 2020

Tue, 10/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 10th March 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Tuesday 10th March


Reading: St Luke 22:13-23

So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.  When the hour had come (Jesus) took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.  He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you , I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’  Then he took the cup and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This my body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.’  And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.  But see the one who betrays me is with me and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!’

Reflection

The accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke differ in detail, and there is no account as such in John.  Luke’s version is slightly puzzling because of its inclusion of a cup before and after the bread (although the marginal note in NRSV indicates that ‘other ancient authorities lack, in whole or in part verses 19b-20 [which is given … in my blood])’.  Whether ‘those authorities’ did that to make the text match Matthew and Mark, or whether they represent an earlier tradition, is something scholars will doubtless continue to debate.  Either way it suggests that those verses are either a scribal insertion into an original text, or a deliberate omission to match the other Gospels.  That has not been debated as much as the clear statement that the Last Supper was a Passover Meal, whereas the chronology of John’s account seems to suggest that it was not.  I will not seek to resolve either dispute here, but it is only right to draw them to your attention, particularly as Luke’s version (tidied up) has become more widely used in newer liturgies. (I was brought up on the invariable use of Paul.)  What is different in Luke, however, is the reference to the one who is to betray Jesus being present with them.  Participation in the Lord’s Supper, however regular, is no guarantee of ultimate loyalty; so we must continue to remember and renew our commitment, particularly in the testing times of life.

Prayer

Most gracious God, we praise you for what you have given and for what you have promised us in Communion.  You have made us one with all your people in heaven and on earth.  You have fed us with the bread of life, and renewed us for your service.  Now we give ourselves to you; and we ask that our daily living may be part of the life of your kingdom, and that our love may be your love reaching out into the life of the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 9th March 2020

Mon, 09/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 9th March 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Monday 9th March 
Reading: 1 Corinthians, 11:23-26

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Reflection

We begin this week of reflection on the Lord’s Supper, or Eucharist, or Holy Communion (which ever term you prefer to use) with the earliest account we have of the origin of the service; for Paul’s Letters were written some years before any of the Gospels.  The Church at Corinth seems to have been a largely Gentile congregation, so there is no reference to the Passover, which features markedly in the Gospel accounts. In any case, the reason Paul gives us any account at all is that he wishes to contrast the divisions among the Corinthians with the intention of Communion to manifest the unity of Jesus and his disciples, as they share in the bread and wine he gives them.  Indeed v 21 says the Corinthians eat their supper separately, so one goes hungry and another becomes drunk: such behaviour is not the Lord’s Supper. As a result every celebration of the Lord’s Supper includes these ‘Words of Institution’ (as they are called) to remind everyone present that this is a very special occasion, not only as a way to remember Jesus , but also to proclaim the significance of his death: it is a new covenant in (or sealed by) his blood.  Many of those who became leaders in the 18th century Evangelical Revival rediscovered their faith by prayer and preparation for Communion on Easter Day.

Prayer

Loving and gracious God, we struggle to understand why Jesus taught his disciples that he had to die on a cross in Jerusalem; and yet we believe that he died for us.  As we come to Communion and share the bread and wine, which Jesus gave to us, and for us, so that we would remember him, make that memory really present in our lives, through the power of your Holy Spirit.  Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion  8th March 2020

Sun, 08/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion  8th March 2020 View this email in your browser Share Tweet Forward
The Rev’d Sue Cossey, NSM and Synod Pastoral Advisor, Bristol

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Sunday 8th March
 
Psalm 139

1 You, O LORD, have searched me and you know me;
2 when I sit or rise, to you is known.
From afar my inner thoughts you ponder—
3 both my going out and lying down.
4 All my ways you know; I speak no word
but you know it perfectly, O LORD.

5 For you hem me in before and after,
and upon me you have laid your hand.
6 Such a knowledge is beyond my grasping,
higher far than I can understand.
7 From your Spirit where can I be free?
From your presence whither can I flee?

8 If I fly to heaven, you are present;
or if in the depths I make my home.
9 If I rise up on the wings of morning,
or beyond the farthest sea I roam,
10 Even there your hand will guide my way;
your right hand will never let me stray.

11 If I say, “The dark will surely hide me,
and the light around me will be night,”
12 Even night would not be dark before you,
and the dark would shine for you as light.
Darkness can hide nothing from your view,
and the blackness is as light to you.

13 For you made and formed my inmost being;
in my mother’s womb you moulded me.
14 I will praise you, for I have been fashioned
by you fearfully and wondrously.
All your works are wonderful, I know—
I acknowledge this and stand in awe.

15 From your sight my frame was never hidden
in the secret place before my birth,
16 For your eyes beheld my unformed body
when I was conceived in depths of earth.
You wrote all the days ordained for me
in your book before one came to be.

17 Precious are your thoughts, O God, about me!
they exceed my power to understand.
18 If I were to try to count their number,
they are more than all the grains of sand.
When I waken in the morn anew,
I continue still, O LORD, with you.

19 O that you, my God, would slay the wicked!
Go from me, all you who thirst for blood!
20 With an evil mind they speak against you;
your foes take your name in vain, O God.
21 Do not I, O LORD, your foes despise?
22 I abhor them as my enemies.

23 Search me, LORD, and know my inmost feelings;
test me now and know my anxious mind.
24 See if there is anything offensive
in my way of life that you can find;
And direct me, O my God, I pray,
in your good and everlasting way.

Reflection

This most intimate Psalm shows how much God loves each one of us – from the inside out, and in every moment of our lives, however far we may travel – both geographically and from God.

The level of knowledge that God has about us is so deep that it is hard to comprehend.  A long-married couple know each other well, but that knowledge is nothing compared to the knowledge of us, and the love for us, that God has.

That knowledge extends to the time before we were born, when we were formed in the womb.  A friend who recently became a great grandmother explained how she was meeting her great grandson for the first time, but yet she had known him for months – and indeed with modern scanning, we can perhaps feel closer to the unborn child than could previous generations.

This knowledge that God has of us means that we must never be afraid to confess when we get it wrong – God already knows, and is ready to forgive and move on.  God is happy to surround us with love and to accept our thankful praise.

So, even in the part of this Psalm which we might find difficult, where David wants ill to fall on his enemies, it is their hate for God that he wants to see judged – to him, God’s enemies are his enemies too.

David is happy to be searched by God, to have wicked thoughts removed and to be set upon the right path.  Are we also happy to undergo that examination and to walk the way that God chooses with Jesus at our side?

Prayer

Jesus be beside me as I walk the way.  Walk on my left and my right to keep me on the path, walk in front of me to lead the way, and behind me to stop me falling behind.

Be within me as I live out my day, and within those whom I meet.
Let your love shine through me in all that I do.
Amen -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Sue Cossey, NSM and Synod Pastoral Advisor, Bristol.
  Copyright
Sing Psalms!  (C) The Psalmody and Worship Committee, the Free Church of Scotland.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 7th March 2020

Sat, 07/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 7th March 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Saturday 7th March 

St John 15:12-16

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any long, because the servant does not know what the master is doing: but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.  You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.

Reflection

At the end of his Gospel, John writes, ‘Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name (Jn 20:30-31).  In other words, John has written what he regards as fundamental to his story. So there are three essential points in this short reading. We (the disciples) are Jesus’s friends if we do what he commands; we did not choose him, but Jesus chose us; we are appointed to go and bear fruit that will last.  Jesus’s friendship involves obedience. Jesus chooses us, not the other way round, as we so often suppose – encouraged by much late-19th century hymnody, e.g. ‘Who is on the Lord’s side’, ‘Once to every man and nation/comes the moment to decide’ etc. We are expected to bear lasting fruit.  Here are three counter-cultural challenges in two verses.   In today’s world we like to think we are in charge, but in baptism, whether as a child or an adult, we give ourselves up to others – as Jesus did on the night of his arrest – and thereafter we have surrendered ourselves to him. What more need we say?

Prayer

May the God of all grace, who has called us to Christian faith and service, confirm and strengthen us with the Holy Spirit and keep us faithful to Christ all our days.  Amen.   -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 6th March 2020

Fri, 06/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 6th March 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Friday 6th March 

Romans 6:3-5

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his . (See also Colossians 2:10-14.)

Reflection

If you were asked whether baptism was central to the teaching of Paul, what would you say?  Probably the word would not top a word search on a modern computer. But if you look at the inner logic of Paul’s ‘letters to young churches’ (as J.B. Phillips memorably entitled his translation of the New Testament letters), you may reach a different conclusion.  For baptism is the link between the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our baptism shows in our own lives our birth into a new life, the end of the old life, and our being raised to a new life by God. This passage is loved by those who practise baptism by total immersion, but its forcefulness does not depend on that practice alone.  These words cover a remarkable range of themes, and provide a reading for a wide variety of occasions from baptism itself, to weddings, to funerals; and what a range of possibilities is implied in that simple phrase ‘so that we too might walk in newness of life’!

Prayer 

Loving Lord, you have united all people by our baptism in your name.  Give us grace to live out our baptism continually in our daily lives, that we may experience the power of your resurrection at the end of our days, and enter into your eternal joy; for Jesus Christ’s sake.  Amen.   -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 5th March 2020

Thu, 05/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 5th March 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Thursday 5th March 

Acts 19:1-6

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul … came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples.  He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?’ They replied, ‘No, we had not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’  Then he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They answered, ‘Into John’s baptism’. Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.’  On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied… 

Reflection

The early Church clearly had some difficulty with the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus, not least in the significance of John’s baptism by comparison with Christian baptism.  So long as this was confined to Palestine, it was usually manageable. But Jews were not just confined to Palestine: the Jewish diaspora was spread around the whole eastern Mediterranean from Alexandria into Asia Minor (modern Turkey).  This passage from Acts is evidence that the baptism of John had spread at least as far north as Ephesus.  The distinction drawn by Paul became the standard one, although he does not mention fire which some other references do and which fits with Luke 12:49-50 (see last Tuesday), and is one characteristic of the Pentecost experience, linked also to ‘tongues’ as a sign of the universal nature of the Church.  Since the gift of tongues caused divisions at Corinth, there has been a tendency to ignore these further aspects of the baptismal experience until the Pentecostal revival of the late 19th and 20th century.  If we do so, we narrow the significance of baptism, confining it simply to our understanding.  We do not need to understand everything; and we can learn from what we do not.

Prayer

Teach us, Lord, to learn from what we do not understand; humble us to appreciate the fullness of yourself, which you offer to us when we are baptized.  Set us on fire with enthusiasm for the proclamation of the Good News of your eternal kingdom, that we may be faithful to the preaching of your Son, Jesus Christ; in his name we pray.  Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 4th March 2020

Wed, 04/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 4th March 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Wednesday 4th March 

St Matthew 28:16-20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.  And remember that I am with you always, to the end of the age’.

Reflection

Matthew’s Gospel ends where it began, with the assurance that Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us.  It is interesting that at this climax, Matthew still observes that some doubted, but there is no suggestion of efforts made to persuade them otherwise.  Perhaps not everyone will be persuaded. The emphasis lies on the task of the disciples to baptize disciples of all nations, and to teach them what Jesus has commanded.  This became the established strategy of the missionaries of the Church, before the later Protestant emphasis on preaching rather than baptism.

Prayer  

Gracious God we thank you that by baptism we are made members of a world-wide Church – a fellowship of believers, all different, each with their own contribution to make.  May we be ready to play our part. May we remember that Jesus challenged us to make disciples of all nations, not just individuals, in order to show more clearly that baptism makes us a diverse  body of believers. Teach us to enjoy and appreciate our differences, without wanting to make everyone the same; in the name of the one who died for all, even Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
 
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

URC Daily Devotion 3rd March 2020

Tue, 03/03/2020 - 06:00
96 URC Daily Devotion 3rd March 2020 View this email in your browser

Daily Devotions from the URC

-->
inspiration in your inbox
--> Follow on Facebook Follow on Twitter Podcast Share This on Facebook Tweet this Forward to a Friend
Tuesday 3rd March  

St Luke 12:49-50

I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish that it were already kindled!  I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed. 

Reflection

In Acts, Luke distinguishes between baptism with water and baptism with fire, which may have meant the Holy Spirit, especially as a distinction between John’s baptism and Jesus’s baptism.  In this passage from Luke’s Gospel Jesus is clearly referring to the ordeal of his forthcoming death, to which he frequently refers during his ministry, though never quite so strikingly as here.  But it makes sense of the Church’s later references to being baptized into Christ, or into Christ’s death. Only occasionally does Jesus reveal anything like emotion at the thought of his forthcoming death: this is one such place.  It encourages us to take very seriously the implications of our own baptism, whether we remember it or not.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, as we think about your passion and death, we cannot but be amazed by your courage and the faith in God that sustained you.  Give us the same courage when we face challenges and difficulties in our own lives, and finally at the end when we face death alone. Fill us with your grace that we may remember that you have been through all of this before for our sake.  In your name, we pray. Amen.
-->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


Want to change how you receive these emails? You can

update your preferences

or

unsubscribe from this list.

 

Pages