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Take the opportunity

This morning I have taken the opportunity to get out of the office, to soak in some of the beautiful weather that we are experiencing of late, and to take in the sights and sounds of nature as I enjoy one of Wellington’s treasures – Zealandia.

Zealandia is a wildlife ecosanctuary not far from the heart of the city and is the perfect spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and ministry as I take a respite day to focus in the Word, and slow down just long enough to fully know and appreciate Him again.

This in part is so that I can reflect on a devotion that I am preparing for later in the month. But also so that I can just be, just be in His creation and appreciate all of the things that He provides; from the small things that often we overlook, to the bigger things that we may or may not truly acknowledge Him for.

So today why not take a moment, or more if needed to thank Him for His presence in your life and all the things that He has provided along the journey of life – the ups and downs, the highs and lows, the good times and the bad ones.

For in all these things He is wanting us to mature into His likeness, growing in our faith, trust and appreciation. Becoming more like Him so that others would be drawn to Him.

Unfortunately, it is often only in the times that we slow down that we fully appreciate that He is at work in our lives and that He wants the very best for us.

 

 

Psalms/Now

The following Psalm (#72) from Leslie F. Brandt’s book Psalms/Now I used as a devotion at a meeting last night and thought it pertinent to repeat it here;

O God of love, grant to Your sons (and daughters, Your) servants the grace to represent you effectively in our discordant worldGive us the courage to put our lives on the line in communicating life and truth to all Your creatures wherever they may be found.

Where there is injustice, may we diagnose its cause and discover its cure. Where there is bigotry, teach us how to love and how to encourage others to love. Where there is poverty, help us to share the wealth that has come from Your hand. Where there is war and violence, may we be peacemakers that lead men to Your eternal peace.

Help us, O God, to become what You have destined and empowered us to become. Where there is darkness, may we become the rays of Your sun that banish the gloom of lonely lives. Where there is drought, let us be like fresh showers that turn barren deserts into green meadows. Where there is ugliness and distortion, enable us to portray the beauty and order of Your will and purposes.

Great God, You are in our world. Your majesty is reflected in Your creation about us. But there are multitudes who do not feel Your concern or acknowledge Your love. Is it because Your servants have failed to carry out Your command and commission that we have yet to sense the significance of our salvation and the purpose of our mission?

Forbid, O God, that we be deaf to the cries of the poor and indifferent to those who have needs. May we identify with those who are oppressed and help to bear the burdens of those who suffer about us. May we hear Your voice of concern and feel Your loving touch through Your servants who are in this world to manifest You to men (and women) about them.

The glory is Yours, O God, and we praise Your name and celebrate Your cause together.

May this be so for us in these times that we would be outwardly focussed 🙂

Salvos For A More Inclusive Church invite you to join them each week as they share a Lenten reflection.

This weeks reflection looks at Jesus’ declaration that He is the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.John 6:35 

Lenten Reflections 2021 (Week 2) “I am the bread of life”

As Salvationists who don’t take the bread and wine of communion, we sometimes find it difficult to know what to do when we are presented with Jesus’ sayings which appear to reinforce the need for the Eucharist.

But Jesus’ discourse in John 6, seen by many Christians as a significant part of the Biblical evidence for the taking of bread and wine in a commemorative meal, is also part of an extended reflection on the centrality of Christ and the need for believers to come to Him.

Jesus tells His disciples that he is ‘the bread of life’ in the verses which appear after the miracle of the feeding of five thousand in John 6:1-13. Jesus then walks on the water of the Sea of Galilee on the way to Capernaum, and teaches in the synagogue there. Jesus’ teaching leaves a believing Christian in no doubt that He is the only way to salvation.

But there is much, much more in Jesus’ statement on the ‘bread of life’ if we unpack this ‘I am…’ declaration in its’ context as part of the ‘Bread of Life’ discourse. Jesus describes the process by which God calls people to faith in Jesus, and Jesus’ role as God’s faithful Son. In the very next verse, Jesus also says ‘whosoever comes to me I will never drive away.’

This is a profound and important truth for those whom the Church has dismissed, excluded or shunned.

Jesus tells all of us, without any qualifier at all, that ‘whosoever comes’ will never be driven away by Jesus.

It forms the heart of the triumphant Salvationist song ‘Whosoever will, may come’ which was originally written by the Baptist songwriter Philip P. Bliss in the 1870s.

The truth of the Gospel is that all are welcome to faith in Christ. LGBTQ+ Christians or would-be Christians can be assured of this. However, the Church over the years has often overlooked, denied or ignored this very clear invitation by Jesus. As we begin to see the cultural tide turn in some parts of the world, and as some Churches repent of their exclusionary and often harmful attitudes to ‘whosoever’, I personally believe that Christians are called to repent of their open hostility to our comrades who have been excluded or expelled solely because of their sexual orientation.

As a Christian, an officer and a Corps leader, my role is to proclaim the centrality of Scripture. Jesus tells us that ‘I am the bread of life’ and that ‘whosoever comes to me I will never drive away.’

How, then, am I to turn my back on anyone who is drawn to Him?

May God forgive those of us who have in any way excluded a seeker after Christ.

Captain Helen Froud, (UKI Territory)

The Salvation Army Wellington City Corps March newsletter is now available online here, or by clicking on the image.

Within its pages you’ll find information about our weekly and monthly ministries, activities and events etc. that we have running.

We are continuing to develop our weekly worship service to make it available online in the form of ‘Church Online’ so that we can effectively reach out to those within our wider community and beyond. People who are unable to physically meet with us each week due to ill-health, underlying health conditions, or are in a rest home etc. are enjoying our hosted ‘Church Online’ services @ 6pm

Links are available via our Corps or the Wellington Citadel Band Facebook pages, alternatively you can subscribe to our Corps YouTube channel or follow this blog to ensure you get notifications as they come through.

If you live in the Wellington Region (especially the Inner City) and would like to know more about what we do, what we are about, and how you can partner with us – Check out our facebook page, leave a comment, give us a call at the office (04) 801 9278 or email: wellingtoncity.corps@salvationarmy.org.nz and we will get in touch.

God bless you each 🙂

In the world today we have to constantly navigate change and numerous transitions that can either become fertile ground for complaint and grumbling, or where our faith can flourish and grow.

These changes force us to accept certain things in our world that we don’t necessarily like, or can make us feel uncomfortable. We are living in ‘the land between’, somewhere between the normal of so many months ago and the new normal that is yet to be established.

This Sunday at 6pm (NZ Time) Annette continues her sermon series looking at the journey that the Israelites took as they headed towards the Promised Land, based around the book written by Jeff Manion. This week she helps us to understand God’s discipline, which in many ways is a bit of a challenge. As we often identify God as a loving figure that wants to bestow gifts and love upon his people, not exhibit discipline that can often be seen as punishment. As parents though I’m sure many of us can relate – as we ourselves also show both these characteristics to our children.

So, join us as we continue ‘Church Online’, a facebook live video event which is hosted on our Wellington City Corps page, with links posted on a variety of other pages including the Wellington Citadel Band page.

As has been shared consistently over the past year we are truly blessed here in New Zealand to be able to continue meeting together in person while so many around the world are unable to do so. And this week we again will continue to use some of the musical offerings that have been used throughout the past year, which feature both the Wellington Citadel Band and the Wellington City Worship Team.

These services have been prepared for those in our local community who are unable to join us in person for whatever reason, and also to enable others around the country who have enjoyed what we have to offer in the way of worship; also for those around the world that are currently unable to worship in their own local faith communities.

We pray that you will be blessed as we continue to minister in these interesting times that we find ourselves in. May God bless you each as you head into the coming week 🙂

Lenten Reflections – Week 1

Salvos For A More Inclusive Church invite you to join them each week as they share a Lenten reflection.

This year, as we prepare to travel with Jesus on the journey to the cross, the theme being considered is the seven “I Am” statements that John records Jesus sharing with his disciples.

Each reflection will be prepared by a different person from their community over the next seven weeks and they began last Friday considering Jesus as The Light of The World. I have been given permission to also share them via this blog and the first reflection written by Colin Daley.

Lenten Reflections 2021 (Week 1) “I am the light of the world”

Today we start the first of our weekly Lenten series as we explore the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus recorded in John’s gospel.
 
Over the next seven weeks, different writers will share a reflection through the lens of how Christ invites all to be included as he reveals who he is, through what he says about himself.
 
Of all of the things Jesus declared, “I am the Light of the World” resonates with me. As a young bandsman I was introduced to Commissioner Sir Dean Goffin’s epic brass band setting “The Light of The World” and had the privilege of playing it under the composer. As he prepared the music with us, he took the time to unpack the meaning and explained the imagery of William Holman Hunt’s picture. The music captivated my young mind.
 
To appreciate the full impact of this statement, it’s helpful to consider the context leading up to it. In Isaiah we read of the promise of light coming into the world. It is the message of hope that the prophet foretells (Isaiah 9:2) and in the midst of darkness, pain, suffering and rejection comes the affirmation that the was light was to come, bringing healing, hope and salvation.
 
John’s gospel further picks up this theme and records that John the Baptist was sent to prepare the way for the light, (John 1:4-9). It is in chapter 8 that Jesus declares “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
 
Powerful words indeed. Powerful words to change your life. Words that speak of grace, inclusion and acceptance!
 
To understand this we need to look at chapter 9 as it is there that this message takes a new twist as we gain greater insight into the inclusive nature of the gospel of Jesus. The first five verses are important. 
 
“As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” “Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the works of God might be displayed in him. As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” (9:1-5)
 
The disciples did not fully understand that the man was not blind because of sin, but Jesus explains to them that God would use this situation to reveal his nature to those who would take the time to listen. Again Jesus reminds his followers that while he is in the world, he is the light of the world.
 
It doesn’t take too much of a shift of the imagination to refresh the context and consider the conversation as if the person were LGBTQ. Here’s the same passage of scripture again, this time based on The Message but with a key word replaced..
 
“Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man who was gay. His disciples asked, “Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born homosexual?” Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world’s Light.” (John 9:1-5)
 
Jesus makes it clear, it is not about sin, but about the power of God. The healing he offers is about restoration and being empowered to share our stories that God may be glorified.
 
As we read further into the chapter, there is a point at which the way the Pharisees responded, is similar to what LGBTQ experience today in the church. Those who witnessed the man’s healing wanted to know how it had happened and when they could not accept the explanation he offered, they took the man to the temple. The Pharisees were more concerned that Jesus had broken the law of Moses by healing on the Sabbath. More importantly they questioned the man and his parents as to how it had happened. And when they failed to understand, they became irritable.
 
The man’s testimony was simple enough, “This one thing I know, God in great mercy pardoned me … once I was blind but now I see.” And what did the Pharisees do? They rebuked him for being so bold and they threw him out.
 
How often have we seen this scenario repeated in our own church? Maybe we’ve even experienced it ourselves and with it comes the pain of exclusion and rejection. Let us never forget the message from Jesus “I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretence of seeing will be exposed as blind.” (John 9:39 MSG)

As we prepare our hearts and minds for the journey to the cross over the next few weeks, let us commit again to travelling with those who are rejected and misunderstood. May we remember that while Jesus declares “I am the Light of The World”, the story doesn’t stop there. In the sermon on the mount we are charged to take the light and carry it forward. 
(Matthew 5:14-16)
 
We are called to see the light, so that we too can be the light.
 
We often sing “Light of the world, You stepped down into darkness, Opened my eyes, Let me see …” but as we join with “Here I am to worship, Here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that You’re my God.” may you know that you are also welcomed, you are included and you loved.
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