Wānanga Week

Readings for this week March 2 – 6
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Day 1 – Not What He Set Out To Do

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Luke 10:25-37

Despite perhaps being Jesus’ most famous parable – or maybe because of it – there is an interesting thing we can sometimes overlook when we remember the story. Looking after the beaten traveller that he encountered on his way from Jerusalem to Jericho was not what the Samaritan set out to do that day. He was just travelling. He was not on a mission to save someone; he was on his way from one place to another. Rescuing the stranger was simply something that happened because he was travelling in a way that made it easy to pay attention to what was around him, and he was moved by compassion for what he saw. It was something that happened on the way, as he did something else. His ordinary day became extraordinary because he was open to seeing what was around him and was open to responding in the way he knew God would want him to, regardless of what he thought was planned for his day.

How much do we miss out on because we are so intent on simply getting from A to B that we don’t look at where we are on the way, don’t look around to see who else is there, or what else is happening? How much is lost because we refuse to be diverted from our predetermined paths? How much of what God may have lined up for us – people he may have lined up for us to meet, lives he may have lined up for us to enter, journeys he may have for us to go on – is missed because we are only focused on what we have lined up, and the people we need to see, and the journeys that we must make as quickly as we can?

Questions to Consider
How often do you spend time travelling in your neighbourhood? What can you do to give God more opportunity to ‘interrupt’ your day?

Prayer
Lord God, open my eyes to the world I travel through each day. Help me take more notice of the journey. Help me ‘loiter with intent’ in my neighbourhood. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – An Open Home

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Isaiah 25:6-9

It used to just be a “No Circulars” or “No Junk Mail” sign on the letterbox. And that was just about what we wanted – or didn’t want – shoved in our mail. Lately there is a new sign that can be seen on a growing number of houses: No soliciting. No salesmen. No more knocks on the door, no more people on our doorstep. We don’t want to be disturbed, especially not by people who want something from us. Our homes are our sanctuary, ours alone, not for anyone else, certainly not people who might demand or require something from us.

Is our home an open home, a welcoming home? A sign on the door or letterbox doesn’t make it an unwelcoming home; that’s not the point. The point is to think about how we, as God’s people, can live counter-culturally in our homes and whether we are cutting against the social grain of exclusion and seclusion and guardedness that permeates our society. How often do we open our homes to those who have never been in them before? How often do we invite people in beyond our circle of friends and family? There will be times when God is calling us to make our home a sanctuary for others, even if it’s just for the couple of hours it takes to have a cup of tea and a chat or share a meal. I don’t think many of us want junk mail in our letterboxes. But God might want us to open up our homes – and also our lives – to the stranger and the neighbour.

Question to Consider
How is your home a place where others can encounter God and his kingdom?

Prayer
Lord Jesus, you enjoyed meals, parties, shared time with people, and graced people’s homes with your presence. Teach us to be a people who express gratitude and joy for all you have given us by inviting others in to enjoy all you have given us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – The Power of Food

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Corinthians 10:31

Jesus knew the power of food. He knew how much it was a centrepiece of community, this necessity of life that people couldn’t go without that provides sustenance and energy. He also knew how much it could bind people together and create community, reinforcing relationships and opening up opportunities for new ones to form and grow. His culture was one focussed around festivals and celebrations that involved God and food and each other. Gathering around the table and breaking bread together was a key way Jesus met with others. And one of the last things he gave to his followers was a meal to remember him by – a simple, yet significant meal.

We don’t have to have a fancy meal to offer others in order to be hospitable. In fact, this can keep the focus on us and what we have to offer rather than on the people we invite in to our homes to eat with us. Sharing food together is a great way of removing barriers and creating – and then deepening – relationships. Being hospitable is a very simple way of sharing what we have with others, whether it is food, a bed for the night, money, our time or something else. Whatever we have, big or small, neat or messy, God wants us to offer it to others. Doing simple everyday things, like opening up our dinner table to others, is a very meaningful way of sharing what we have and who we are. God wants us to open our lives and homes to others as part of our everyday existence. Our neighbourhoods are the perfect place to start.

Questions to Consider
Why does food bring people together? How does it do so in your life?

Prayer
Loving Father, may my table be a place where people can meet and eat together. May my house become known in my neighbourhood as a house of hospitality. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – Working Together for the Kingdom

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Galatians 5:14

There is no neighbourhood so perfect that there remain no more places where God’s light can shine through; there is no neighbourhood so imperfect that God’s transforming kingdom cannot push through the cracks and spaces of people’s lives. Whatever our neighbourhoods are like, whoever lives there, whatever happens there, God’s kingdom can grow there, in ways both expected and surprising. As we look around our streets and communities, we need to do so with a readiness to see God at work, to see spaces and places where the newness of his kingdom is growing, and also places where his kingdom could grow, the things that could come to pass. It can be quite empowering to look around our neighbourhood and imagine the things that could be, the things that we want to see, the dreams that we (and others) have that we would love to see come to fruition.

And we aren’t looking alone – and we don’t have to do it alone either. Not only is God’s Spirit hovering over and working in our lives, but there will be other people in our neighbourhoods longing to see change, new beginnings, restoration and transformation – and some even working towards it already. Building local community can be hard work, but when done together with others also seeking to do the same – those right next door to us or further down the street – the result can be powerfully transforming of our neighbourhoods and communities.

Questions to Consider
How is the kingdom coming in your community? Who else sees it?

Prayer
Lord God, help me to be a builder of community, someone who always looks for ways to bring people together and create fellowship and unity. Help me seek – and see – your kingdom coming in my neighbourhood. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – A Prayer For Our Neighbourhoods

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 Thessalonians 3:12

Heavenly Father, we ask for your presence in all the families in our neighbourhood. We pray for strength and understanding in all relationships. We ask for loving, strong bonds between the children, teenagers, adults, and grandparents. We pray that each household would demonstrate love for one another living under the same roof.

We ask for healthy, thriving relationships between neighbours. We pray people of different cultures will understand and care for one another in our neighbourhood. We pray that the diversity of your people will be celebrated by all, just as you affirm and love each one of us.

We pray for the teachers and local principals who teach and mentor our students. We ask for guidance and patience for the staff and volunteers and parents as they serve our neighbourhood schools. We pray that our schools will be safe, positive communities for our students.

We ask for your presence in the streets and homes of our community. We pray for the safety and wisdom and compassion of all people in all circumstances. We pray your comfort for those who have experienced loss, insecurity, uncertainty and deprivation. May they experience comfort and love from their neighbours.

We ask you to give our city leaders wisdom when making decisions affecting our neighbourhoods. We pray they will be thoughtful in their decisions and listen to the voices of the community. We pray for courage to stand up for our community and to live with grace and dignity in our city.

We ask for a flourishing community, where neighbours learn to love each other and where Jesus is known. We pray that we can be good stewards of your love to each one of our neighbours. We ask that you help us to learn from our community. May all be welcomed here. Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)