Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Monday - Tuesday - Wednesday

Monday  February 25
Prayer:   Great God  may the peace which passes all understanding keep our hearts and mind in the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Read St. Luke 9:  10 – 11

When the  Disciples return from their journey they,  together Jesus,  withdrew to Bethsaida.    Jesus knew that those who share the Good News need times away to centre themselves,  share their  work,  share their calling,  and to spend much time in prayer.  

This verse is so important,  yet we frequently zoom over the words to get to what we think is the real story of Jesus and the Disciples. 

Bethsaida was a city to the east of the Jordon River and on the north end of the Sea of Galilee. 

When one has completed a time of serving God,  one needs to spend much time in prayer. 
Today we call these times a  Retreat.   A Retreat is a scheduled time away so that we can become aware of God’s loving presence.
As Jesus took the disciples away to spend time in prayer and meditation,  how  important then,  is it that our congregations provide the Minister with a Retreat?   Hugely important.
When was the last time that your Minister went on a Retreat?

Frequently people think that Retreats are just a holiday…. a time away from the congregation and the ministry.  But this is not what a Retreat is at all.   Retreats are times spent centring oneself in God through prayer and meditation.   Retreats are times giving the burdens that one tends to carry around in ministry to God through prayer and meditation.     Retreats are actually hard work but Retreats are so important for re-balancing those who minister to others. 

Then in the midst of the Retreat,  the crowds followed them.   What did Jesus do?  Did he tell the crowds he was too tired and couldn’t respond to their needs and requests?  Nope,  not at all.  In fact,  Jesus welcomed them and spoke to them about the Kingdom of God and healed those who needed healing.  

Jesus welcomed them!  Wow!  Hospitality and serving others without whining.   We indeed need to follow Jesus’ example.

Today,  ask your Minister  or Elder when was the last time they went on a Retreat.

Prayer:   Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,  instill peace, clarity,  fulfilment, and love within our hearts.   We lift up to You those things that block the way for Your love.  May You change our disappointments into Your strength.  May You change our whining into Your joy.   May You change our selfishness into Your hospitality.  This we ask in Your name.  Amen.

Tuesday  February 26
Prayer:    Divine Healing God,  we thank You that You feed us through our daily bread and through our daily reading of Your most Holy Word.    May we take what You have given us and share it with others so that everyone may eat of Your Word and be filled.   This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Read St. Luke 9: 12 – 17

Feeding the Five Thousand.  This is a beautiful story.  The crowds are still listening to the words of Jesus and it gets to be meal time. 

The Disciples first thought is to send the crowds away so they can find their own food and lodging.  Wow.   The Disciples who had just been out sharing the Good News and discovering the hospitality of each town are suddenly being poor party poopers and not sharing their hospitality with others.     

Hospitality was first and primary importance in the Middle East and still is today.   When one visits a family in the Middle East,  one is offered food and drink and shelter.    But here are the Disciples not offering these three basic things to the crowd.

How does Jesus respond?  He gently reminds them of their hospitality obligations and says, “You give them something to eat”.    The Disciples look at their resources and find that they have five loaves of bread and two fish.   Now the loaves of bread, made of barley,  were probably flat breads like our Pita breads of today.   And two fish…. Probably fish that Peter had in his bag J    There is no way this small amount can feed so many people.

Jesus says to the Disciples to have the crowd sit down into groups of fifty.

Jesus then takes the food,  blesses the food,  gives thanks for the food,  broke the food and then asked the Disciples to distribute the food to everyone.     

Everyone ate and was satisfied…. and there were twelve basketfuls of food left over.    A miracle.       Some Biblical Scholars suggest that the twelve baskets of left over food is to remind the people of the twelve tribes of Israel.   God still continues to feed and nourish the twelve tribes of Israel.

Ponder today this miracle.  Jesus took the bread and fish,  blessed it,  gave thanks for it,  and then shared the food with others so that they could be satisfied.  How does this relate to the work we do in the Church?

Prayer:    Great God,   Holy God,  Holy Immortal,  have mercy upon us.   We thank You that You feed us through our daily bread and through our daily reading of Your most Holy Word.    May we take what You have given us and share it with others so that everyone may eat of Your Word and be filled.   May we, as Your Church,  serve all Your people with unending enthusiasm and love.    This we ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Wednesday  February 27
Prayer:     Gracious God,  we praise You for calling us to be Your people, and for gathering us to be the Church,  the Body of Christ.  May we live in Your Spirit,  grow in faith,  hope, and love, and be faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, to whom, with You and the Holy Spirit, we give honour and glory, now and forever.  Amen.
(The Book of Common Worship.  Presbyterian Church in Canada. 1991,  pg 141)

Read  St. Luke 9:  18 – 20

Peter’s Confession.

Jesus had been spending time in prayer.    Suddenly he looks up and says to the Disciples, “Who do the crowds say I am?”

The Disciples respond that the crowds say John the Baptist,  Elijah,  a prophet.    

Then Jesus asks them, “But what about you.  Who do you say I am?”     Peter says, “The Christ!”  Some Bible translate this phrase as “The Messiah”.       Peter knew that Jesus was the long expected One of God.

In the Presbyterian Church in Canada we have a  rite called “Confirmation”. Sometimes it is called an “Affirmation of Baptism”  or  “Affirmation of Faith”.    This is a time when people have taken classes and  studied about the Bible,  the two Sacraments,  Worship,  Prayer,  Meditation,  our denomination… and then they stand in front of the whole congregation and say, “I believe in God the Father Almighty,  in Jesus Christ His Only Son our Lord,  and the Holy Spirit”.  Confirmation is a public declaration that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Saviour.     A Public Profession of Faith.

Back in the day,  we used to have to memorize the Shorter Catachism of Faith and  the Apostle’s Creed.    While some people say that memorizing a document means nothing,  frequently  memorizing a document means we can put what we believe into words.

Ponder today what you believe.   Can you put what you believe into easy words and phrases?      

Throughout the day today,  repeat the Apostle’s  Creed.    Let the words flow over you and be aware of how these words have influenced  your life lived in Christ.

Prayer:    I believe in God the Father Almighty,  Marker of Heaven and Earth.  And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord,  Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,  born of the Virgin Mary,  suffered under Pontius Pilate,  was crucified, dead, and buried.  He descended into Hell.  The third day He rose again from the dead.  He ascended into heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  He is seated on the right hand of God the Father Almighty and will come to judge the living and the dead.  I believe in the Holy Ghost,  the Holy catholic Church,  the communion of saints,  the forgiveness of sins,  the resurrection of the body,  and the life everlasting.  Amen.   

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