Our Waka

Readings for this week November 25 – 29
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Day 1 – Nicknames With a Purpose

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 4:36-37

John the Baptist. Doubting Thomas. Father Abraham. Yahweh’s description of David as “a man after my own heart.” When people pick up alternative titles and nicknames it is usually based on something the person is well known for, some action, event or activity they are closely associated with, or some personality characteristic that shines in them particularly strongly. On occasion, it is a nickname given to them by someone in a prominent position that causes the epithet to stick. Or perhaps the nickname is given because it is such an apt description of them. It seems that Barnabas is one such case of this last phenomenon. A Levite from Cyprus named Joseph, he was nicknamed Barnabas, “son of encouragement”, no doubt because of his faithful obedience, his inclination to serve others, and his willingness to do whatever was needed for the benefit of the early church. His nickname modelled his discipleship.

He was known for exhorting and encouraging others. He was generous in giving to others and in faithfully giving of himself. Barnabas didn’t just offer kind and encouraging words; he also let his actions be an encouragement – and model – for those around him. His words and his actions gelled together into one seamless, continuous act of gracious encouragement. His boosting and reinforcing of others wasn’t just a case of nice words thoughtlessly given. His encouragement contained elements of sacrificial love, the giving of himself in relation to others and for the benefit of God’s people. His encouragement was an essential part of what it meant to follow Jesus and what it meant to help others follow too.

Questions to Consider
What nickname sums up your discipleship journey? Why?

Prayer
Lord God, help me be a continual encouragement to others in all I do. Help me see the ways in which I can support others in what they do and who they are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – Grace For Each Other

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Peter 4:10

Covenant begins with grace. It flows from grace. God lovingly, mercifully, graciously rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt – and then gave the people the Law and the Commandments. From an abundant overflow of the natural goodness and love of his heart he rescued them and called them his own, and only then showed them how they were to be his people and what that meant for how they conducted themselves in the world and, importantly, why they were to conduct themselves in this way. Grace came first – it had to; the people were lost and unable to save themselves. They couldn’t be God’s people without first being recipients of God’s grace.

The importance of grace cannot be overstated. We need grace, not only God’s grace freely given to us, but grace for each other too. Whatever the nature of our community, whatever its travails, whatever its strengths, however it structures itself to obey the call of God to be his people, however we faithfully try to go about being his people in the world and for the world, we will need to offer each other as much grace as we can. We will not get it right all the time. We will make mistakes, we will fail each other, we will stumble, we will hurt each other. But thankfully our place in the community of God’s people is not dependent on always getting it right – because we won’t. Our place in the community of God’s people is solely at God’s discretion because he is the one who calls us and he is the one who has shown us, in the person of Jesus, how to be gracious to each other.

Questions to Consider
How have others shown grace towards you lately? Why?

Prayer
Gracious Lord, thank you for showering us with your grace, and showing us how to be gracious towards each other. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – A Covenant Community

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Corinthians 12:12-13

We are a covenant community, God’s covenant people. This affects everything we do because everything we are as a people is determined by it. Western society tells us to think individualistically; God calls us to think covenantally, to live and act as a community of people bound to our Lord by love and called together to be his people by grace. We belong to him. We also belong to one another. To use Paul’s language of the body, “We are members of one another.”  Pursuing the Western way of rugged individualism and self-determination is not an option for God’s covenant people. We must take other members of the covenant community into account in all aspects of our lives. We must constantly be asking ourselves how our words and actions affect our fellow community members, how are we encouraging them and spurring them on and comforting them and healing them, all within the context of our God-given task of working for the coming kingdom of our Lord.

It is one thing to come to the point (as most of us do at one time or another) of realising that we don’t have to do it all alone. It is quite another to understand that we shouldn’t do it alone. A corollary to realising that we cannot be our intended selves without God’s transforming, renewing power in our lives, is the realisation that God transforms and renews us as individuals in order for us to be a transformative community. Being part of a covenant community means allowing others access to ourselves for the purposes of letting God shape us through them, and them through us.

Question to Consider
What does this state of affairs tell us about God and how he views us?

Prayer
Loving Father, teach me vulnerability, so that I won’t turn away from or deny the work you want to do in me through others, and so I won’t deny others the gift of what you want to do through me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Carrying Each Other

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Galatians 6:2

When God calls us together to be his covenant people we take on many responsibilities, some towards God and some towards each other. One of the most important elements in any community of God’s people is bearing one another’s burdens. All of us are called to bear burdens and all of us will have things that we have to carry. But we are not called to carry them alone. We are called to do what we can to lighten the burden that others may be struggling under. Anxiety, sickness, failure, discouragement, any other problem – we are to lighten each other’s’ burdens, offering love and support as each of us makes our way through the struggles and issues that rise up in our lives. Conversely, we also need to allow others into our lives to help us in our times of need and pain.

Walking with others and bearing their burdens can be costly for us. It can cost time, it can cost both physical and emotional energy, it can use up resources and money. And at the end of the day, even after all this lovingly offered and expended energy and time has been given, there is absolutely no guarantee that our efforts will be either appreciated or even successful. But we are called to love each other, and that call involves making the effort and accepting whatever risks are involved. Christ bore our burdens – and the burdens of the entire world. Disciples of Jesus are called to do the same, with each other, but also with the wider world as a sign of our love for God’s world and as part of our devotion to him and the work of his kingdom.

Questions to Consider
How are you helping others in your community with their burdens and struggles? How are others helping you?

Prayer
Almighty God, bring us closer together as your people. Teach us humility, vulnerability and graciousness with each other. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Looking for the Good, the Pure, the Noble (Yes, Again!)

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Philippians 4:8

The Christian cultural cul-de-sac can be a comfortable place. The presence of fellow Christians, Christian versions of every cultural commodity freely at hand – music, films, books, clothing, etc. – everything viewed through the lens of Christian life, however that might be defined. But it was never a place we were meant to inhabit. Some segments of the community of Jesus’ followers would prefer to remain within the safety of this Christian community and its products, away from the evil world and its influence, its corruption of human nature and the world.

But there is much good being created and fought for and strived for in this world, many places where the God-given attributes of humans are being exercised faithfully, even if it is not deliberately or knowingly being done in God’s name and for his glory. There are so many places in this world outside our cul-de-sacs where God is moving and where God’s will for his creation is being worked out that, that an openness to the world is a necessary attribute for God’s church to have. Yes, it can sometimes require discernment to see it, to look beyond the surface and see what is being aimed for. But wherever there are good things happening, wherever human freedom and dignity and worth are fought for and celebrated and cherished, we should be there too. Not everyone sitting around a table where such discussions and dreaming is taking place will be Christian, but every table where such discussions and strivings and yearnings are being voiced should have Christians – us – sitting at it.

Questions to Consider
Where do you see God moving in our world? How can you join in and support what God is doing in the lives of others?

Prayer
Lord God, give me eyes to see the movement of your Spirit in this world, the places you want me to be, the endeavours I need to support. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)