Global Week

Readings for this week September 2 – 6
Click here for a pdf of this week’s reading

Day 1 – A Love For All the World

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Hosea 2:23

It is in some ways particularly apt that we enter a time of focusing on Global Missions immediately after having journeyed through the book of Jonah. One thing the book does very explicitly is show that, while God may have designated the Israelites as his chosen people and is therefore the God of the Israelites, nevertheless God is still the God for everyone. Though the prophet Jonah himself was reluctant to obey God’s command to go the Ninevites and was personally more interested in witnessing their destruction than celebrating their redemption, that fact that God called him to go to a pagan people and proclaim his word and his judgement in the hope that they might repent is significant.

The original call to Abraham was a call ultimately designed to benefit the whole world. Abraham was blessed so that he could then be a blessing to others – those ‘others’ being everybody else in the rest of creation! Right at the start of the call to Israel was the expectation that it was a call designed to be shared with others, that God was a God to be shared with others, something that unfortunately was often forgotten by the Israelites. And yet significant passages of the Hebrew Bible – for example Jonah, but also large sections of Isaiah, the prophet Hosea, not to mention the testimony scattered throughout other prophets and the Psalms – exist as a reminder that God’s aim was to bring all people back to himself and to shelter all nations under his wing. That was true then, and remains true for us, called just as Jonah was, to take God’s love to all the world.

Questions to Consider
What stops you sharing God with others? What can you do about it?

Prayer
Lord God, may I never keep you for myself or think of others being unworthy of knowing you. Your son Jesus was a ‘yes’ to us all; help me share that yes with all others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – The Mission is God’s

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – John 3:16-17

The deepest source of mission is the heart of God himself. That is where mission – all mission, local, global, mission of any and all types, whatever name we decide to give it – originates from. Mission is the work of the Triune God – the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit; Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier – undertaken for the sake of the world, for the purposes of drawing humankind and all of creation back into their rightful, ordained place within the embrace of God’s love. Mission originates with God, not with us. Mission is not a creation of the church, but rather the church is the instrument God sends in order to share his love with the world. Mission is a movement from God to the world, a movement in which the church is an instrument of that movement, and of God’s love. When we participate in mission, we are participating in the movement of God’s love – and there is no other source of love – towards the world.

Whatever else it is that we think we’re doing, or trying to achieve; whether we see ourselves as bringing salvation to people or as growing the community of God’s people; as pointing to the signs of the coming kingdom or as helping bring justice to the oppressed; as acting on behalf of the world’s poor or speaking out in defence of God’s ravaged earth – all of these things stem firstly from the missional activity of God himself. The tasks that we undertake are not of our own invention. Rather, all mission is derived from the very nature of God himself.

Questions to Consider
What do you dream of God doing in the world? What do you dream of him doing through you?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, help me be a pathway for your power and love into the lives of others. Nothing is too great for you – help me remember that the mission and the love and the power begin with you. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – The Poor and the ‘Non-Poor’

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Proverbs 14:31

Sadly, as the material wealth of western Christians increased, so did their tendency to view the bible’s sayings on poverty only metaphorically. The poor became “the poor in spirit”, those who recognised their utter dependence on God, the necessary start of a relationship with God, yes, but not one meant to replace the literal meaning – and lived reality – of the poor of the world. This literal meaning was eclipsed by the fact that the ‘non-poor’ could now also see themselves as poor, and so the rich claimed these biblical promises for themselves. The true poor faded from view.

But in the second half of the 20th century Catholic theology in particular began to articulate what was called termed “God’s preferential option for the poor.” ‘Option’ does not mean optional and ‘preferential’ denies the exclusiveness of the term: the poor are the first, but not the only people, that God’s attention is focused on, and so therefore the church has no choice, if it to remain true to God, but to demonstrate solidarity with the poor. Of course there are still dangers to avoid. If we begin to think of the church for others rather than the church with others; the church for the poor rather than the church of the poor; the poor needing the church rather than the church needing the poor in order to stay faithful to the call of Jesus; if we fail to repent of our complicity in the oppression of the poor or cast down the idols of money, power, race and self-interest – then we are failing our Lord’s call to truly live in solidarity with the poor.

Questions to Consider
In what ways do the non-poor of the world appropriate God’s promises to the poor for themselves? How can we avoid doing this?

Prayer
Lord God, forgive my presumption and arrogance. Teach me humility and compassion so I can be true child of your grace for others. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Where the Spirit Speaks and Acts

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – John 10:36-39

To keep at the forefronts of our lives that it is ultimately God’s mission and not ours, we need to continually remind ourselves of what Jesus said and did. If we overemphasise the idea of mission as the church’s mandate, then the temptation is to see what we do as a ‘work’ – even if a good one – and to see ourselves as justified to the extent that we are doing this work. We see our contribution as the most important one; we see unbelievers as perishing unless we do something to save them. We end up relying on our own efforts and ideas, at the same time as thinking that these efforts are what makes us acceptable to God.

But the New Testament shows us otherwise. Time and again we see Jesus telling people that he is doing the work of his Father. He does what he sees his Father doing, and the words he speaks are the words of his Father too. His teaching is his Father’s teaching and the miracles and mighty works that people see him performing are the works of God’s Spirit. Even Jesus ascribes all that he is doing to his Father. It is to be the same with us. The Spirit will give us power and will bear witness through us, if we are faithful and make ourselves available to be conduits for God’s love to others. Yes, we can ask the Spirit for inspiration and guidance, but even more than this, if we are faithful to Jesus, then we will become the place where the Spirit speaks and acts.

Question to Consider
How are you aware of the Holy Spirit strengthening you, uniting you with others and enabling you to follow where he leads?

Prayer
Almighty Father, may my faithfulness match your faithfulness to me, so that I can be a place where your Spirit speaks and acts into the lives of all those I come across. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Worship as Reflective of the Whole Life

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Isaiah 1:10-17

A very significant theme of prophetic tradition in the Old Testament is one that talks of correct, “acceptable” worship activities as relatively unimportant when compared with matters of social justice and fairness and care of the poor. As Isaiah shows here, Israel’s worship (including her sacrifices, her festivals, her gatherings – all the things mandated in the Torah as pleasing worship practices to be performed by God’s people) is judged unacceptable to God when offered in place of, or without due attention to, compassion and justice for those in need.

The practice of justice towards our fellow God-created human beings is not incidental to our faithfulness to God: it is the concrete demonstration of it. Any claim to worship God is dead and empty if it is not backed up with a life of action lived in the cause of justice for others. Our allegiance to God is only truly shown if it is enacted on behalf of those who suffer oppression, neglect, poverty and injustice. The link between worship of God and care of neighbour is so strong that Isaiah, on behalf of God, proclaims to the Israelites that doing justice, caring for the poor, oppressed and marginalised in particular, is a more pleasing and honest and acceptable act of worship than all the sacrifices and songs that they have offered him. The same is true for us. If we are true followers of God and truly worship him, it will be shown – must be shown – in the pattern of our whole life.

Questions to Consider
How is your life an act of worship and an act of compassion for others? Why does God link worship and compassion for others so closely?

Prayer
Sovereign Lord, help me make my whole life – every act, every word – an acceptable act of worship to you. May my entire life be lived as an act of compassion for others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)