URC Devotions

URC Daily Devotion 13th March 2020

Fri, 13/03/2020 - 06:00
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Friday 13th March

Reading: Acts 27:33-38

Just before daybreak, Paul urged all of them to take some food, saying, ‘Today is the fourteenth day that you have been in suspense and remaining without food, having eaten nothing.  Therefore I urge you to take some food, for it will help you survive; for none of you will lose a hair from your heads.’ After he had said this, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all, he broke it and began to eat.  Then all of them were encouraged and took food for themselves. (We were in all two hundred and seventy-six persons in the ship.) After they had satisfied their hunger, they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea.

Reflection

This passage struck me during this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity services which, you may remember, were based on material produced by the Churches in Malta – the island where the ship that Paul and others were on ran aground.  It is not clear whether this action was regarded by Paul as equivalent to Communion; possibly it was not – just as the better-known story of the two disciples at Emmaus at the end of Luke’s Gospel probably was not. But probably we would not have regarded the actions of the Christians at Corinth as a Communion – as Paul did not (see Monday’s Reflection).  But it was an act of Thanksgiving (which is what the Greek word ‘Eucharist’ means); even more it was an act of Faith, since they threw the wheat overboard after they had finished.

Prayer

God of all times and places, give us grace to see our everyday meals, for which we should always give you thanks, as signs of your presence with us in all we do; and may we remember in the humblest things of life, what you have done for us in Jesus Christ out Lord.  Amen. -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 12th March 2020

Thu, 12/03/2020 - 06:00
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Thursday 12th March 

Reading:  St John 6:35-43, 52-57

Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.  But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me.  And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day. … The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’  So Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.

Reflection

This is the passage where Protestants have to ask themselves how much they believe in the Bible after all, and the most surprising people find themselves trying to avoid a literal interpretation of the words.  Thanksgiving prayers in nonconformist liturgies suddenly take refuge in metaphorical words and phrases to avoid praying that the bread and wine may become the body and blood of Christ, lest transubstantiation be found lurking at the door; and Christians suddenly find it easy to identify with ‘the Jews’, who asked ‘How can this man give us his flesh to eat?’  In fact, it is a challenge to us over whether we believe in the Incarnation or not; and English theology has always had difficulty in believing in the Incarnation. In the Theological Dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Disciples of Christ, of which I was a member for over thirty years, we discovered that both sides found it acceptable to use St Augustine’s language of ‘transformation’; and all Thomas Aquinas was doing with his new word ‘transubstantiation’ was substituting Aristotle’s understanding of matter for the older language, which he regarded as Platonic and therefore less precise.  Today we do not regard the nature of matter in either of those ways; and therefore are easily left stranded between different schools of philosophy. What St John is trying to get across is the significance of one of his favourite words, when describing the teaching of Jesus – what Jesus means when he says that we must abide in him, and therefore in God.

Prayer

Ever-loving God, if we abide in you, we enjoy the closest relationship possible with you.  Save us from stumbling over words, lest the reality of your self-giving love escape us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, your word made flesh.  Amen. -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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Daily Devotion from the URC 11th March 2020

Wed, 11/03/2020 - 06:00
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Wednesday 11th March 

Reading:  St John 13:1-5; 12-17, 20

Now before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father.  Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end…And during supper Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from table, took off his outer robe, and tied a towel around himself. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him … After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord – and you are right, for that it what I am.  So if I your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you. Very truly, I tell you, servants are not greater than their master, nor are messengers greater than the one who sent them. … Very truly. I tell you, whoever receives one whom I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me.’

Reflection

We all realise that there is no description of the institution of the Lord’s Supper in John’s Gospel.  Instead there is an acted parable of the relationship between Teacher and Disciple, Lord and Servant. By taking upon himself the most menial task for anyone is a host’s household, Jesus powerfully illustrates the changed relationships in the Kingdom of God.  Furthermore in the final verse of this passage, the image of this new relationship is extended to that between the Father and the Son in a way which fits uneasily with the equality of the three persons in God, as expounded by the Council of Chalcedon (451) – though that should not worry us too much.  The point here is the equal standing of each of us at the Lord’s Table, with none of us daring to claim the role of the host.

Prayer

Strengthen for service, Lord, the hands that have taken holy things; may the ears that have heard your word be deaf to clamour and dispute; may the tongues that have sung your praise be free from deceit; may the eyes that have seen the tokens of your love shine with the light of hope; and may the bodies which have been fed with your body be refreshed with the fullness of your life; glory to you for ever.  Amen. (Liturgy of Malabar) -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 10th March 2020

Tue, 10/03/2020 - 06:00
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Tuesday 10th March


Reading: St Luke 22:13-23

So they went and found everything as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover meal.  When the hour had come (Jesus) took his place at the table, and the apostles with him.  He said to them, ‘I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I tell you , I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.’  Then he took the cup and after giving thanks he said, ‘Take this and divide it among yourselves; for I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.’ Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This my body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.’  And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.  But see the one who betrays me is with me and his hand is on the table. For the Son of Man is going as it has been determined, but woe to that one by whom he is betrayed!’

Reflection

The accounts in Matthew, Mark and Luke differ in detail, and there is no account as such in John.  Luke’s version is slightly puzzling because of its inclusion of a cup before and after the bread (although the marginal note in NRSV indicates that ‘other ancient authorities lack, in whole or in part verses 19b-20 [which is given … in my blood])’.  Whether ‘those authorities’ did that to make the text match Matthew and Mark, or whether they represent an earlier tradition, is something scholars will doubtless continue to debate.  Either way it suggests that those verses are either a scribal insertion into an original text, or a deliberate omission to match the other Gospels.  That has not been debated as much as the clear statement that the Last Supper was a Passover Meal, whereas the chronology of John’s account seems to suggest that it was not.  I will not seek to resolve either dispute here, but it is only right to draw them to your attention, particularly as Luke’s version (tidied up) has become more widely used in newer liturgies. (I was brought up on the invariable use of Paul.)  What is different in Luke, however, is the reference to the one who is to betray Jesus being present with them.  Participation in the Lord’s Supper, however regular, is no guarantee of ultimate loyalty; so we must continue to remember and renew our commitment, particularly in the testing times of life.

Prayer

Most gracious God, we praise you for what you have given and for what you have promised us in Communion.  You have made us one with all your people in heaven and on earth.  You have fed us with the bread of life, and renewed us for your service.  Now we give ourselves to you; and we ask that our daily living may be part of the life of your kingdom, and that our love may be your love reaching out into the life of the world, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.  -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 9th March 2020

Mon, 09/03/2020 - 06:00
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Monday 9th March 
Reading: 1 Corinthians, 11:23-26

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, ‘This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Reflection

We begin this week of reflection on the Lord’s Supper, or Eucharist, or Holy Communion (which ever term you prefer to use) with the earliest account we have of the origin of the service; for Paul’s Letters were written some years before any of the Gospels.  The Church at Corinth seems to have been a largely Gentile congregation, so there is no reference to the Passover, which features markedly in the Gospel accounts. In any case, the reason Paul gives us any account at all is that he wishes to contrast the divisions among the Corinthians with the intention of Communion to manifest the unity of Jesus and his disciples, as they share in the bread and wine he gives them.  Indeed v 21 says the Corinthians eat their supper separately, so one goes hungry and another becomes drunk: such behaviour is not the Lord’s Supper. As a result every celebration of the Lord’s Supper includes these ‘Words of Institution’ (as they are called) to remind everyone present that this is a very special occasion, not only as a way to remember Jesus , but also to proclaim the significance of his death: it is a new covenant in (or sealed by) his blood.  Many of those who became leaders in the 18th century Evangelical Revival rediscovered their faith by prayer and preparation for Communion on Easter Day.

Prayer

Loving and gracious God, we struggle to understand why Jesus taught his disciples that he had to die on a cross in Jerusalem; and yet we believe that he died for us.  As we come to Communion and share the bread and wine, which Jesus gave to us, and for us, so that we would remember him, make that memory really present in our lives, through the power of your Holy Spirit.  Amen.
 
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Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion  8th March 2020

Sun, 08/03/2020 - 06:00
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The Rev’d Sue Cossey, NSM and Synod Pastoral Advisor, Bristol

Daily Devotions from the URC

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Sunday 8th March
 
Psalm 139

1 You, O LORD, have searched me and you know me;
2 when I sit or rise, to you is known.
From afar my inner thoughts you ponder—
3 both my going out and lying down.
4 All my ways you know; I speak no word
but you know it perfectly, O LORD.

5 For you hem me in before and after,
and upon me you have laid your hand.
6 Such a knowledge is beyond my grasping,
higher far than I can understand.
7 From your Spirit where can I be free?
From your presence whither can I flee?

8 If I fly to heaven, you are present;
or if in the depths I make my home.
9 If I rise up on the wings of morning,
or beyond the farthest sea I roam,
10 Even there your hand will guide my way;
your right hand will never let me stray.

11 If I say, “The dark will surely hide me,
and the light around me will be night,”
12 Even night would not be dark before you,
and the dark would shine for you as light.
Darkness can hide nothing from your view,
and the blackness is as light to you.

13 For you made and formed my inmost being;
in my mother’s womb you moulded me.
14 I will praise you, for I have been fashioned
by you fearfully and wondrously.
All your works are wonderful, I know—
I acknowledge this and stand in awe.

15 From your sight my frame was never hidden
in the secret place before my birth,
16 For your eyes beheld my unformed body
when I was conceived in depths of earth.
You wrote all the days ordained for me
in your book before one came to be.

17 Precious are your thoughts, O God, about me!
they exceed my power to understand.
18 If I were to try to count their number,
they are more than all the grains of sand.
When I waken in the morn anew,
I continue still, O LORD, with you.

19 O that you, my God, would slay the wicked!
Go from me, all you who thirst for blood!
20 With an evil mind they speak against you;
your foes take your name in vain, O God.
21 Do not I, O LORD, your foes despise?
22 I abhor them as my enemies.

23 Search me, LORD, and know my inmost feelings;
test me now and know my anxious mind.
24 See if there is anything offensive
in my way of life that you can find;
And direct me, O my God, I pray,
in your good and everlasting way.

Reflection

This most intimate Psalm shows how much God loves each one of us – from the inside out, and in every moment of our lives, however far we may travel – both geographically and from God.

The level of knowledge that God has about us is so deep that it is hard to comprehend.  A long-married couple know each other well, but that knowledge is nothing compared to the knowledge of us, and the love for us, that God has.

That knowledge extends to the time before we were born, when we were formed in the womb.  A friend who recently became a great grandmother explained how she was meeting her great grandson for the first time, but yet she had known him for months – and indeed with modern scanning, we can perhaps feel closer to the unborn child than could previous generations.

This knowledge that God has of us means that we must never be afraid to confess when we get it wrong – God already knows, and is ready to forgive and move on.  God is happy to surround us with love and to accept our thankful praise.

So, even in the part of this Psalm which we might find difficult, where David wants ill to fall on his enemies, it is their hate for God that he wants to see judged – to him, God’s enemies are his enemies too.

David is happy to be searched by God, to have wicked thoughts removed and to be set upon the right path.  Are we also happy to undergo that examination and to walk the way that God chooses with Jesus at our side?

Prayer

Jesus be beside me as I walk the way.  Walk on my left and my right to keep me on the path, walk in front of me to lead the way, and behind me to stop me falling behind.

Be within me as I live out my day, and within those whom I meet.
Let your love shine through me in all that I do.
Amen -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Sue Cossey, NSM and Synod Pastoral Advisor, Bristol.
  Copyright
Sing Psalms!  (C) The Psalmody and Worship Committee, the Free Church of Scotland.
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URC Daily Devotion 7th March 2020

Sat, 07/03/2020 - 06:00
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Saturday 7th March 

St John 15:12-16

This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any long, because the servant does not know what the master is doing: but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.  You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.

Reflection

At the end of his Gospel, John writes, ‘Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book.  But these are written that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name (Jn 20:30-31).  In other words, John has written what he regards as fundamental to his story. So there are three essential points in this short reading. We (the disciples) are Jesus’s friends if we do what he commands; we did not choose him, but Jesus chose us; we are appointed to go and bear fruit that will last.  Jesus’s friendship involves obedience. Jesus chooses us, not the other way round, as we so often suppose – encouraged by much late-19th century hymnody, e.g. ‘Who is on the Lord’s side’, ‘Once to every man and nation/comes the moment to decide’ etc. We are expected to bear lasting fruit.  Here are three counter-cultural challenges in two verses.   In today’s world we like to think we are in charge, but in baptism, whether as a child or an adult, we give ourselves up to others – as Jesus did on the night of his arrest – and thereafter we have surrendered ourselves to him. What more need we say?

Prayer

May the God of all grace, who has called us to Christian faith and service, confirm and strengthen us with the Holy Spirit and keep us faithful to Christ all our days.  Amen.   -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 6th March 2020

Fri, 06/03/2020 - 06:00
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Friday 6th March 

Romans 6:3-5

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?  Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.  For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his . (See also Colossians 2:10-14.)

Reflection

If you were asked whether baptism was central to the teaching of Paul, what would you say?  Probably the word would not top a word search on a modern computer. But if you look at the inner logic of Paul’s ‘letters to young churches’ (as J.B. Phillips memorably entitled his translation of the New Testament letters), you may reach a different conclusion.  For baptism is the link between the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Our baptism shows in our own lives our birth into a new life, the end of the old life, and our being raised to a new life by God. This passage is loved by those who practise baptism by total immersion, but its forcefulness does not depend on that practice alone.  These words cover a remarkable range of themes, and provide a reading for a wide variety of occasions from baptism itself, to weddings, to funerals; and what a range of possibilities is implied in that simple phrase ‘so that we too might walk in newness of life’!

Prayer 

Loving Lord, you have united all people by our baptism in your name.  Give us grace to live out our baptism continually in our daily lives, that we may experience the power of your resurrection at the end of our days, and enter into your eternal joy; for Jesus Christ’s sake.  Amen.   -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 5th March 2020

Thu, 05/03/2020 - 06:00
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Thursday 5th March 

Acts 19:1-6

While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul … came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples.  He said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?’ They replied, ‘No, we had not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’  Then he said, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They answered, ‘Into John’s baptism’. Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.’  On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied… 

Reflection

The early Church clearly had some difficulty with the relationship between John the Baptist and Jesus, not least in the significance of John’s baptism by comparison with Christian baptism.  So long as this was confined to Palestine, it was usually manageable. But Jews were not just confined to Palestine: the Jewish diaspora was spread around the whole eastern Mediterranean from Alexandria into Asia Minor (modern Turkey).  This passage from Acts is evidence that the baptism of John had spread at least as far north as Ephesus.  The distinction drawn by Paul became the standard one, although he does not mention fire which some other references do and which fits with Luke 12:49-50 (see last Tuesday), and is one characteristic of the Pentecost experience, linked also to ‘tongues’ as a sign of the universal nature of the Church.  Since the gift of tongues caused divisions at Corinth, there has been a tendency to ignore these further aspects of the baptismal experience until the Pentecostal revival of the late 19th and 20th century.  If we do so, we narrow the significance of baptism, confining it simply to our understanding.  We do not need to understand everything; and we can learn from what we do not.

Prayer

Teach us, Lord, to learn from what we do not understand; humble us to appreciate the fullness of yourself, which you offer to us when we are baptized.  Set us on fire with enthusiasm for the proclamation of the Good News of your eternal kingdom, that we may be faithful to the preaching of your Son, Jesus Christ; in his name we pray.  Amen.
 
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Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 4th March 2020

Wed, 04/03/2020 - 06:00
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Wednesday 4th March 

St Matthew 28:16-20

Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.  When they saw him, they worshipped him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.  And remember that I am with you always, to the end of the age’.

Reflection

Matthew’s Gospel ends where it began, with the assurance that Jesus is Emmanuel – God with us.  It is interesting that at this climax, Matthew still observes that some doubted, but there is no suggestion of efforts made to persuade them otherwise.  Perhaps not everyone will be persuaded. The emphasis lies on the task of the disciples to baptize disciples of all nations, and to teach them what Jesus has commanded.  This became the established strategy of the missionaries of the Church, before the later Protestant emphasis on preaching rather than baptism.

Prayer  

Gracious God we thank you that by baptism we are made members of a world-wide Church – a fellowship of believers, all different, each with their own contribution to make.  May we be ready to play our part. May we remember that Jesus challenged us to make disciples of all nations, not just individuals, in order to show more clearly that baptism makes us a diverse  body of believers. Teach us to enjoy and appreciate our differences, without wanting to make everyone the same; in the name of the one who died for all, even Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.
 
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Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 3rd March 2020

Tue, 03/03/2020 - 06:00
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Tuesday 3rd March  

St Luke 12:49-50

I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish that it were already kindled!  I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed. 

Reflection

In Acts, Luke distinguishes between baptism with water and baptism with fire, which may have meant the Holy Spirit, especially as a distinction between John’s baptism and Jesus’s baptism.  In this passage from Luke’s Gospel Jesus is clearly referring to the ordeal of his forthcoming death, to which he frequently refers during his ministry, though never quite so strikingly as here.  But it makes sense of the Church’s later references to being baptized into Christ, or into Christ’s death. Only occasionally does Jesus reveal anything like emotion at the thought of his forthcoming death: this is one such place.  It encourages us to take very seriously the implications of our own baptism, whether we remember it or not.

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, as we think about your passion and death, we cannot but be amazed by your courage and the faith in God that sustained you.  Give us the same courage when we face challenges and difficulties in our own lives, and finally at the end when we face death alone. Fill us with your grace that we may remember that you have been through all of this before for our sake.  In your name, we pray. Amen.
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Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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URC Daily Devotion 2nd March 2020

Mon, 02/03/2020 - 06:00
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Monday 2nd March 

St Matthew 3:13-17

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him.  John would have prevented him, saying, ‘I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?’  But Jesus answered him, ‘Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness.’  Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him.  And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased’. 

Reflection

Of the four stories of the baptism of Jesus in the Gospels (although John does not actually say that the Baptist baptized Jesus), Matthew is the only one to suggest any hesitation on John’s part.  Jesus’s reply, ‘It is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness’, suggests that he understood John’s reluctance; but a greater good was to be shown, namely Jesus’s total identification with the humanity he had assumed, and whom he was to save.  Moreover, although the Biblical text does not suggest the presence of any women in the crowd, in the light of later events it would be surprising if they had been absent. From the beginning baptism was available to Christian women (see Lydia in Acts 16:14).  Unlike circumcision that was for boys, baptism was for all as God created us.

Prayer

Holy Lord God, we thank you that baptism is for everyone.  We give thanks for our own baptism into Christ, and we pray that the life of Christ may be made known in and through us, so that we may be faithful witnesses and disciples; for the sake of his holy name.  Amen.
 
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Today's writer

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson is a retired minister and a member of Downing Place URC in Cambridge. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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Baptism and the Eucharist

Sun, 01/03/2020 - 18:00
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I hope you have enjoyed our wander through 1 Corinthians - we will go and have a look at 2 Corinthians after Easter.  For the next two weeks we will look, between Mondays and Saturdays, at the two Sacraments we celebrate in the United Reformed Church – Baptism and Eucharist.   We continue to work through the Sing Psalms!  Psalter on Sundays.

The Rev’d Professor David Thompson has written these reflections on Baptism and the Eucharist.  David is a retired minster and Professor of Church History at Cambridge – he attends Downing Place URC in the city.  He is one of our premier theologians and was a Churches of Christ observer at the talks which formed the union of the Presbyterian Church of England and the Congregational Church of England and Wales in 1972.  Later, he helped steer the majority of the Churches of Christ into the URC and has been used by the Disciples of Christ – in America – in their dialogue with the Catholic Church.  David is one of our sharpest minds and brings the Churches of Christ commitment to weekly celebrations of Holy Communion (something Calvin himself wanted) and a keen commitment to believer’s baptism to his reflections.  We hope you find these reflections useful.

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With every good wish


Andy

The Rev'd Andy Braunston
Co-ordinator Daily Devotions from the URC
 
 
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URC Daily Devotion  1st March 2020

Sun, 01/03/2020 - 06:00
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Sunday 1st March
Psalm 138


1 I’ll praise you, LORD, with all my heart;
Before the gods I’ll sing your praise.
2 I’ll bow towards your holy place
And bless your holy name always.

I’ll praise you for your faithfulness
And for your cov’nant love, O LORD,
For over all things you have raised
Your holy name and faithful word.

3 The very day I called to you,
You gave an answer to my plea.
You made me bold within myself;
With new resolve you strengthened me.

4 O LORD, let all earth’s kings give praise,
When from your mouth they hear your word.
5 Let them extol the ways of God,
For great’s the glory of the LORD.

6 Although the LORD God dwells on high,
The lowly person he protects,
Whereas the proud and haughty one
He knows afar off and rejects.

7 Although I walk a troubled path,
Your tender care preserves my life.
You raise your hand against my foes;
Your right hand saves me from their strife.

8 The LORD will certainly fulfil
For me the purpose he commands.
Your love endures for ever, LORD;
Preserve the works of your own hands.

You can hear a Free Church of Scotland congregation sing this, from verse 4, here to the tune St Bartholomew.  

Reflection

This Psalm is a huge outpouring of a thankful heart for a recent great blessing, which apparently has been the fulfilment of a divine promise. The singer is so absorbed in his blessedness that he neither names the Lord as the one he is thanking, nor specifies what has set his heart vibrating.   

We do not know what the Psalmist is praising the Lord for.   If David is the Psalmist then it can only have been the fulfilment of the monarchy and the Lord’s promise to restore Israel to their land.

The second part (4-6) resembles many earlier Psalms in connecting the singer’s deliverance with a world-wide spreading of God’s name. This great lesson of the Lord’s providence, care for the lowly, faithfulness to His word, so clearly demonstrated in the Psalmist’s recent history will become known and those who think of themselves as ‘great’, shall learn the principles of the Lord’s ways and become lowly receivers of His attention and adoring singers of His great glory.  The glowing vision is not yet fulfilled; but the singer clearly holds no illusions when he sings. Could this be a foretelling of God’s manifestation of Himself in Christ?

In verses 6 to 8, the Psalmist returns to his own needs, and takes to his heart the calming assurance of his recent experience, that he bears a charmed life. He may be surrounded by troubles but he is now in God’s protection.   He may walk in the valley of the shadow of death unafraid, for God will hold his soul in life. So was the Psalmist assured; and so will those also be who will have wonders to thank the Lord for.
That last prayer of the Psalm blends confidence and petition beautifully. Because the Lord’s loving kindness endures forever, everyone on whom His shaping Spirit has begun to work can be sure that they will come to fruition. He never stops till He has completed His work.  We would do well to remember this.

Prayer

Faithful God,
We are grateful for the unfailing love and faithfulness You have shown toward us:
you answer when we call;
you give us strength when we are exhausted;
You stand with us in times of trouble. 
Open our eyes to see and know you.
Open our ears to hear your voice.
Give us what we need to we live and work in the world as your faithful disciples. Amen.
 
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Today's writer

Ann Barton, member of Whittlesford URC in the Eastern Synod. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion  29th February 2020

Sat, 29/02/2020 - 06:00
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Saturday 29th February

I Corinthians 16: 12 - 24

Now concerning our brother Apollos, I strongly urged him to visit you with the other brothers, but he was not at all willing to come now. He will come when he has the opportunity.


Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.

Now, brothers and sisters, you know that members of the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia, and they have devoted themselves to the service of the saints; I urge you to put yourselves at the service of such people, and of everyone who works and toils with them. I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus, because they have made up for your absence;  for they refreshed my spirit as well as yours. So give recognition to such people.

The churches of Asia send greetings. Aquila and Prisca, together with the church in their house, greet you warmly in the Lord. All the brothers and sisters send greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand.  Let anyone be accursed who has no love for the Lord. Our Lord, come! The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you. My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.

Reflection

Never one to miss an opportunity, Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians ends with some words which at one level seem more about practical details than deep theological questions. But we treat such passages lightly at our peril. In these few verses Paul has picked up key points from the main content of his letter, he has reminded his readers of the importance of their relationships and above all of the need to surround all that they do in love.

This is someone else’s correspondence we are reading and there are details which point to the ‘history’ which is part of the fabric of that community, the ongoing disagreements, the past suspicions. We can recognise them from our own experience. This was a world where travel was difficult, communications limited and daily life hard.

And yet ….. and yet …… over the 2000 years since Paul wrote to the churches around the Mediterranean so much remains the same.


In every sentence we see evidence of Paul’s purpose in writing, this is someone with a mission to shape the life of the church by his presence or through his writing. There are words here about cementing the relationships with each other, with Paul and with other leaders. There are pointers to examples of ‘good practice’ to be followed in service and mission. There are reminders that their life in Christ necessarily involves being a part of the wider network and sharing the good news. And crucially, that sentence which leaves no doubt “Let all that you do be done in love”.
Finally, Paul takes up the pen himself to cement his relationship with his readers.

Relationships, good practice in service and mission, our global interconnectedness and love. Surely the heart of the message for the 21st century as much as for the 1st century.

Prayer

Loving God,
we thank you for the relationships we have
with the people who surround us
we recognise our interconnectedness
with those across the globe.
We pray that we may never
break the bonds which link us in love.
Amen -->

Today's writer

Val Morrison, elder and former General Assembly Moderator, Hall Gate, Doncaster Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion  28th February 2020

Fri, 28/02/2020 - 06:00
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Friday 28th February

I Corinthians 16: 1 - 11

Now concerning the collection for the saints: you should follow the directions I gave to the churches of Galatia.

On the first day of every week, each of you is to put aside and save whatever extra you earn, so that collections need not be taken when I come. And when I arrive, I will send any whom you approve with letters to take your gift to Jerusalem. If it seems advisable that I should go also, they will accompany me. I will visit you after passing through Macedonia—for I intend to pass through Macedonia—  and perhaps I will stay with you or even spend the winter, so that you may send me on my way, wherever I go. I do not want to see you now just in passing, for I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.

If Timothy comes, see that he has nothing to fear among you, for he is doing the work of the Lord just as I am; therefore let no one despise him. Send him on his way in peace, so that he may come to me; for I am expecting him with the brothers.

Reflection

Paul now turns to practical matters. As church treasurer, verse 2 is very familiar: although most giving is by standing order, I still see it weekly on our giving envelopes.

For Jewish Christians, giving was normal: the Law required tithing, storing a proportion of crops for the benefit of those in need, and ungrudging giving.  God says ’Open your hand to the poor and needy neighbour in your land’ (Deut. 15). The believers shared all their possessions and held everything in common, distributing to those in need (Acts 4). 

Paul asks them to share their surplus, a more practical approach but with the same expectation: they should use their wealth, great or small, to benefit the vulnerable and support the church’s mission.

Tithing in mediaeval Europe required a tenth of income to be given to the Church.  Looking at richly decorated historic churches, was this at the expense of people living in poverty?  Love of money is the root of all evil and we can all think of examples where this has corrupted principles and motives.

Today our weekly ‘collection for the saints’ funds MoM contributions, local church ministry and running buildings.  Giving to others has become a personal rather than community act – apart from the requirement to pay our taxes to support state welfare provision.

Giving isn’t just about buying a raffle ticket for a good cause, sponsoring someone to do something amazing or anything else that has become the norm for giving today.  These things have value – putting the FUN in fundraising, encouraging the idea that giving is good. However, stewardship is more: recognising all we have comes from God, that while it’s fine to provide for ourselves and our families, we also want to give from love and generosity to enable God’s work of compassion and justice.

Prayer based on 1 Timothy 6

Lord of all giving
All we have comes from you
We set our hopes not on our riches, but on you as the generous provider
May we always be ready to do good, be rich in good works, generous and ready to share, storing up treasure in heaven and enjoying life in abundance
 Amen -->

Today's writer

Ruth Tompsett, elder, Newport Pagnell URC, Bucks Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion  27th February 2020

Thu, 27/02/2020 - 06:00
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Thursday 27th February  

I Corinthians 15: 35 - end

But someone will ask, ‘How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?’ Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.  And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body. Not all flesh is alike, but there is one flesh for human beings, another for animals, another for birds, and another for fish. There are both heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one thing, and that of the earthly is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; indeed, star differs from star in glory.

So it is with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.  It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a physical body, there is also a spiritual body. Thus it is written, ‘The first man, Adam, became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.  But it is not the spiritual that is first, but the physical, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so are those who are of the dust; and as is the man of heaven, so are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we will also bear the image of the man of heaven.

What I am saying, brothers and sisters, is this: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.  Listen, I will tell you a mystery! We will not all die, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable body must put on imperishability, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled:

‘Death has been swallowed up in victory.’
‘Where, O death, is your victory?
    Where, O death, is your sting?’

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Therefore, my beloved, be steadfast, immovable, always excelling in the work of the Lord, because you know that in the Lord your labour is not in vain.

Reflection

Everything we know, we know through our bodies. The taste of an apple, the warmth of a hug, the pain of a bruise - these we know through our bodies. But what kind of bodies will we have in heaven? Will I have no body, or a different body? Will I just be a spirit, and how will anyone recognise me? Such amazing questions lead onto others, about how our body and sense of self are utterly connected. As I work in a hospital people ask me: do we stay the same age we were at death when we reach heaven? Among friends, the question is will disabled people still be disabled in heaven? Does that question feel different if we imagine it in relation to a person with Motor Neurone Disease and another person whose whole life was shaped by Down’s Syndrome.

I want to ask Paul what he imagines about race in heaven, about transgendered bodies, autistic bodies. I’m sure that he came across such bodies in his own time. I want to be reassured that the bodies which are disdained, maligned, abused and hurt in this world will be celebrated, restored, and tended to in the next. I trust that the God who made us in such diverse image in this world will gather that diversity into heaven. And although I don’t know if these are the right questions, they remind us that our understanding of heavenly bodies shapes the way we live here and now.

And for now we have this: the fact that perishable bodies pass away, and with them pain, and with them stigma, and with them our limited human understanding. But beyond this God endures in all God’s glory, and we emerge again, renewed, awakened, and – in our own way – also glorious. 

Prayer

Nothing distress you,
nothing affright you,
everything passes,
God will abide.
Patient endeavour
Accomplishes all things;
Who God possesses
Needs nought beside.

See the world’s glory!
Fading its splendour,
everything passes,
all is denied.
Look ever homeward
to the eternal;
faithful in promise
God will abide.

Verses from Colin Thompson’s hymn, based on a prayer by Theresa D’Avila. Hymn 548 in Rejoice and Sing. -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Dr ’frin Lewis-Smith is a healthcare chaplain in Salford Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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URC Daily Devotion  26th February 2020

Wed, 26/02/2020 - 06:00
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Wednesday 26th February Ash Wednesday

I Corinthians 15 

But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have died.  For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead has also come through a human being; for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, after he has destroyed every ruler and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. For ‘God has put all things in subjection under his feet.’ But when it says, ‘All things are put in subjection’, it is plain that this does not include the one who put all things in subjection under him. When all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will also be subjected to the one who put all things in subjection under him, so that God may be all in all.

Otherwise, what will those people do who receive baptism on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?

And why are we putting ourselves in danger every hour? I die every day! That is as certain, brothers and sisters, as my boasting of you—a boast that I make in Christ Jesus our Lord.  If with merely human hopes I fought with wild animals at Ephesus, what would I have gained by it? If the dead are not raised,

‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’

Do not be deceived:

‘Bad company ruins good morals.’

Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more; for some people have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.

Reflection

Ash Wednesday marks the start of the Lenten journey. We think about what it means to be penitent, to live in the wilderness and to be mindful of all that gets in the way of our relationship with God. 

‘Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more’

Lent is opportunity to think about the wrong that we cause through our thoughts and actions. It’s the time when we can think about what we do to our relationships when we do and say things to others. It’s the time when we catch ourselves in our actions that do not honour our neighbours or ourselves. 

‘Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more’

Lent is time to look into our hearts and minds and consider what makes us think, speak or act in certain ways. It’s the catalyst for introspection about what our churches say and do that do not bring life to the world and community. It’s the opportunity to reflect on all the ways that we restrict the spreading of the gospel and the furthering of the kingdom. 

‘Come to a sober and right mind, and sin no more’

Lent is activity towards transformation. It’s the journey to death. It’s the journey to resurrection. It’s the transformation from darkness and sin to everlasting light and eternal glory. 

We start this journey with Ash, a symbol of the journey of death transformed by the cross to new life in Christ. 
 
Prayer

In our journey this Lent: may we sin no more.
Considering our desires: may we sin no more.
Reflecting on our motivations: may we sin no more.
Transforming our words and actions: may we sin no more.
From ash to Cross may we be made new and may we sin no more. Amen -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Dr Matthew Prevett is the Chaplaincy Coordinator at Newcastle University Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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URC Daily Devotion 25th February 2020

Tue, 25/02/2020 - 06:00
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Tuesday 25th February

I Corinthians 15: 12 - 19

Now if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ has not been raised;  and if Christ has not been raised, then our proclamation has been in vain and your faith has been in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified of God that he raised Christ—whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised.  For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised. If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have died in Christ have perished. If for this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied.

Reflection

As a strict Pharisee, Paul was no stranger to arguments about the resurrection of the dead. Jesus faced the same arguments when tackled by the Sadducees (who denied the resurrection of the dead. See Mark 12) about the dilemmas of a much-married lady meeting seven deceased husbands at the pearly gates. For Christians it was not an abstract theological argument but an essential conviction. No resurrection - no faith, no hope, no love.

It is possible to explain away miracles, healings and exorcisms, but not the resurrection; Christmas and Pentecost, but not Easter, “If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith”. Paul’s argument is two-fold, each side of the argument supporting the other: if Christ was not raised then neither are the dead; if the dead are not raised, then Christ cannot have been raised either. Either way, your faith is futile. The arguments are clear enough in all four gospels as well as Paul’s letters. For Paul it is deeply personal; and goes back to his encounter with the resurrected Christ on the Damascus Road, an experience which he held to be as real as that of any of the Easter witnesses. The resurrection is the foundation of our faith, the strength of our hope, and the  source of our love. It sustains us in this “middle time” in which we live, between the cross and the Last Day – the Parousia.

George Caird put it this way: ”….the Christ of faith is still the crucified and risen Lord, and to be identified with him is to be united with him in death and resurrection”.

Because of the resurrection of the dead, death has no power over us. Because he lives, so shall we.
 
A Prayer of St Francis

May the power of your love, Lord Christ, fiery and sweet as honey,
so absorb our hearts as to withdraw them from all that is under heaven.
Grant that we may be ready to die for love of your love,
As you died for love of our love. Amen -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Peter Moth retired minister, St Andrew’s URC, Kenton, Newcastle upon Tyne. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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URC Daily Devotion  24th February 2020

Mon, 24/02/2020 - 06:00
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Monday 24th February

I Corinthians 15: 1-11

Now I should remind you, brothers and sisters, of the good news that I proclaimed to you, which you in turn received, in which also you stand,  through which also you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message that I proclaimed to you—unless you have come to believe in vain.

For I handed on to you as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures,  and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have died.  Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to someone untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace towards me has not been in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them—though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we proclaim and so you have come to believe.

Reflection

Paul’s words “by the grace of God I am what I am” have found a resonance in the most unlikely people.  From Gloria Gaynor to Lady Gaga these words have struck a chord with people who have felt rejected and oppressed by the mainstream.  Gaynor made the song I Am What I Am famous but it first appeared in the gay musical La Cage aux Folles and became not only a popular song to dance to in discos but something of an lgbt anthem in the 80s.  Lady Gaga’s Born this Way has a similar resonance, and became a contemporary LGBT anthem but, I suspect, this isn’t quite the legacy Paul intended.

Paul was concerned that he was also an apostle; not commissioned before the Ascension, not one of the chosen twelve, not a disciple but still an apostle despite his persecution of the Church.  His apostleship came from his encounter with the Risen Christ. The end of today’s passage shows something of Paul trying to prove he was worthy of the title apostle - “his grace toward me has not been in vain….I worked harder than any of them…”  Of course we only have Paul’s assessment of his work so we’re not sure if he’s being accurate or self aware nor if he had guilt from his earlier life.  

Many of us can feel second best, imposters, guilty,  and unworthy of the trust given to us. Many of us may even, like Paul, try to over compensate and make ourselves appear more important.  Early on in my ministry a rather waspish parishioner sent me a card saying “get off the cross dear you’re not the Messiah!” A great put down but one which I still remember when I start to get too pompous, too self-important, or if I’m tempted to put a chip on my shoulder.  

The words that were missed out by the writer of I am what I am were “by the grace of God.” This isn’t surprising given the context but there is something there to hold on to.  Grace is undeserved, freely given, enables us to do all that is asked of us, and to be all we were created to be. By the grace of God we are what we are, born this way, fabulous, and, like Paul, commissioned to proclaim the Gospel. 

Prayer

Lord Jesus,
you worked with the most unlikely people,
you dined with collaborators,
let those seen as unclean touch you,
trusted those who betrayed you,
and dipped your bread with deserters,
yet you called those unlikely people 
to be your disciples.
Lord Jesus,
help us to remember that you call us,
even when we think 
we’re unlikely, unworthy, untrustworthy and unclean,
for by your grace we are what we are.
Amen. -->

Today's writer

The Rev’d Andy Branston ministers with four churches in and around Glasgow and co-ordinates the Daily Devotions from the URC. Copyright
New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Copyright © 2020 United Reformed Church, All rights reserved.


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