Relationship with Each Other

Readings for this week January 13 – 17
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Due to the holiday season, the January Daily Readings were prepared in advance of the Summer Series, and therefore are not directly connected with the content of the Summer Series.

The readings for the four weeks of January will follow the four key relationships (God, Self, Each Other, World), addressing one relationship each week. The readings are taken from across our series of Life Together books, hence why some may seem familiar.

The readings follow the same format as before.

Day 1 – Baptised into Community

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – John 17:22-23

From John’s Gospel today we will read part of the prayer Jesus prayed shortly before his crucifixion. As he prays for his followers we see his concern for his friends, and his desire for all who will follow him in the generations to come.

Jesus knew that a loving unity among his followers would be crucial to the growth and success of the new community. What does he pray? That they would have the same love and togetherness as God does. The Bible reveals God as three ‘persons’ in one God—the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Because of this, God is often known as the Trinity or the Triune God. God exists in loving community. The relationship between the three is one of intimacy and self-giving love. The very limits of our thinking only scratch the surface of understanding the closeness of that relationship.

At the centre of everything that exists, in all creation and beyond, is the loving eternal community that is God. Jesus calls us to the same unity in our relationships with each other. We are baptised in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit—in the name of the eternal community. Therefore baptism is about joining the community of love.

Questions to Consider
A loving community is the very nature of God. How does this affect your understanding of who he is and what it means to follow him? How does this affect the way your community works?

Prayer
Lord God, thank you for making me a child of God, but not a child of God alone. Thank you for the community of your people – my fellow children of God – and for giving me a family to be part of. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – The Community of the Broken

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Matthew 5:3-6

Have you noticed how Jesus turns our values completely upside down? Today we hear him say that the people the world looks down on are actually fortunate. Crazy stuff!

There is a deep truth to these famous words of Jesus. The community of Jesus is made up of people who understand what it means to mourn, people who are poor and weak, and people who are desperate for justice. Everyone who knows they are broken and in need of God’s help is welcome as a member of his family.

We need to share comfort, love and healing as we walk alongside one another. God’s family is not a group of people who have it all together. It’s actually made up of those who know what it means to be broken, hurt, oppressed and down-trodden. In our weakness we can be each other’s strength. God’s way is in complete contrast to a society that promotes power and self-interest.

The people of God are a community of the broken for the broken. We are to offer shelter, comfort and solidarity for all who suffer. That’s what it means to follow the man with the cross.

Questions to Consider
How have you accepted your own brokenness and the brokenness of those around you? How has this transformed your relationships with others?

Prayer
Loving Father, help me be honest and vulnerable with others, and help me grow into sharing in the vulnerability and brokenness of others. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – Triumph Through Weakness

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Mark 14:32-34

Pretending that things aren’t that bad—hiding things from God—can only hurt us and limit what God can do in us. We have to be open to admitting our weaknesses.

This was Jesus’ moment of greatest struggle. He had to face the fact that he was about to be rejected and die cruelly by crucifixion. In talking to God he didn’t hold back. Jesus’ prayer was a raw and uncensored expression of his anguish.

But look at where he is at this crucial time—among his friends. One of his key actions at this time of desperation was to seek help from the community, from the people who were closest to him. He turned to his disciples, his friends, and asked them to stay with him and pray for him.

We need to learn to be honest at all times, with God and each other. This is what God expects of us. We don’t have to hide behind fancy words, we don’t need to pretend things aren’t so bad, and we certainly must not hide our sins. When we share these things with others and invite them to pray with us and for us God does his greatest work. When we stand before our God and our community, exposed and vulnerable, hiding nothing, the journey to complete restoration can begin.

Questions to Consider
Where do you most struggle to be honest with your community? What is the next step for you to make sure you continue on this journey of vulnerability?

Prayer
Almighty God, give me the strength and courage to share myself honestly with others, even when it hurts or is embarrassing. You held nothing of yourself back from us; help us be open and honest together. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – The Grace of Giving

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 2 Corinthians 8:1-15

Giving isn’t always easy. Paul tells us today that generosity is to be encouraged, whatever our circumstances.

Paul travelled a lot, at times collecting money from followers of Jesus in outlying areas to meet the needs of those in Jerusalem. These churches were also poor, but they gave generously—in fact they gave much more than Paul expected. How much they gave was far less important than their sincere desire to help out their fellow believers.

Paul encouraged others to desire this same kind of generosity. Let’s be honest – giving is hard. We may want to grow in areas like faith, knowledge or love, but do we really want more of the gift of giving? Because it is difficult, we are best to do this together.

Society tells us to climb the economic ladder, often trampling on others as we do so. The practice of giving allows God’s people to enjoy equality (verse 13). God loves and cares for all. We are to do the same, especially for those in need and suffering. Whether we have a lot or a little, is our first impulse to give?

Questions to Consider
Paul encouraged people to put aside money on the first day of every week to save up a gift to give away to the poor. Are you putting money aside regularly to give to others? What could you do about this?

Prayer
Gracious God, show me ways to be more generous with all that you have given me. Help me look beyond myself. Give me eyes to see the best places to give to, no matter where they are. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Moving Together

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 10:1-12

We don’t have to relocate alone. It is not a case of each individual follower heading out into the world, just him or her and God against all.

As this passage shows, Jesus sent his disciples out together, in partnership with one another. The church’s long tradition of sending communities out to meet other communities begins here. More can be accomplished when we work together in this way. We can offer strength and encouragement and support to each other – and sometimes something as simple as an extra pair of hands.

When Abram moved out, his whole community went with him. They all moved together, just as we should move out together too. Going it alone – like a Lone Ranger figure riding off into the sunset by ourselves – is not what God wants us to do.

Today’s passage is a good example of the way the community travels in order to make community; we go together in order to join others where they are, and to grow the community of God’s people there. And we don’t go alone—though Jesus’ disciples went empty-handed, they went with God. God does not leave us alone, he leads us on, guides us along the way and backs up his word with the power to change lives. A loving community is not static; it must move in order to grow.

Questions to Consider
How has God drawn you into community with others? How have you bonded together as a community, and how have these bonds changed over time?

Prayer
Almighty Father, show me where to go and who to go with. Teach me what true community is and how a true community moves together. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)