A living sacrifice

A living sacrifice

January 29, 2017  |  Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on A living sacrifice

Grace and peace to you and through you

Today we renew our covenant – our promise – with God. The promise we make is nothing short of offering ourselves to be a living sacrifice. The living away of our life – for God’s sake – for Love’s sake – for Life’s sake – for Light’s sake. The Scriptures are full of people offering sacrifices to God – yet the prophets tell us that God does not delight in sacrifices. God does not need or want blood to be shed – be it the blood of one’s first born, or goats, sheep and bulls or of one’s enemies. A humble and contrite heart that seeks to do justice and relate to all in mercy is what God delights in.

Our covenant promise to be a living sacrifice is focused on delighting God. It is not a down payment for God’s favour. It is not what we need to do to get God to be on our side, but to re-orientate our living to be on God’s side. It is us at God’s service rather than God at our service. It is about reminding us that we are not to be the center of our own universe.

It is also a reminder (as the traditional marriage vows are too) that our relationship with God and our determination to delight God is not to be dependent on our own well-being but rather to remain faithful regardless of our circumstances in other words, in health and in sickness, for riches and for poverty.

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom  you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.

Grace, Alan

 

Who are we?

Who are we?

January 31, 2016  |  Fourth Sunday after Epiphany, Sunday Letter  |  Comments Off on Who are we?

Grace and Peace to you

Probably the primary question that all religions and philosophies attempt to answer is: “Who are we?” Descartes famously said: “I think therefore I am” and placed human uniqueness in the realm of rationality. Every ideology or system is rooted in a particular understanding of the human person either explicitly or implicitly. Apartheid propagated an explicit understanding of the human person according to the colour of our skin. Capitalism propagates a more implicit understanding by relating to human persons as consumers or products whose worth is determined by the size of our bank accounts. Therefore while critiquing any social, political or economic system it is important to ask what is it saying about who we are.

Because of the primary nature of this question it is not surprising that the Bible deals with it in its first few chapters. Here are three things I understand about who we are from Genesis 1-3.

  1. All people are born in the image of God. Therefore we are each of infinite sacred and equal worth. This means that all systems and policies should seek to honour all people equally and in ways that appreciate, promote and protect everyone’s worth of being.
  2. God formed us from the dust. Therefore we are part of creation. We are not separate from creation. To appreciate, promote and protect creation and all life’s creatures is an extension of who we are.
  3. God took a rib from Adam (Adam in this instance means earth creature rather than male) and from that moment formed women and men. Therefore we are formed from each other. We are part of each other. We are not separate from each other. We are one. Oneness is our original form that we are called to honour and re-cover.

If this is who we are, the next question is how can we live more in tune with who we really are?

Grace, Alan


Covenant Prayer

Beloved in Christ, let us again claim for ourselves this Covenant which God has made with God’s people, and take the yoke of Christ upon us.

To take Christ’s yoke upon us means that we are content that God appoint us our place and work, and that Jesus be our reward.

Christ has many services to be done; some are easy, others are difficult; some bring honour, others bring reproach; some are suitable to our natural inclinations and material interests, others are contrary to both. In some we may please Christ and please ourselves, in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves. Yet the power to do all these things is given us in Christ, who strengthens us.

Let us give ourselves anew to God, trusting in God’s promises and relying on God’s grace. Today, we meet as the generations before us have met, to renew the covenant that binds us to God. Let us make this covenant of God our own: 

I am no longer my own but yours, O God.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full, let me be empty,
let me have all things, let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blesse?d God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.