Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Revised Common Lectionary
Joel 2:1-2, 12-17
2 Corinthians 5:20-6:10
Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
In the Western Christian calendar, Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs forty-six days (forty days not counting Sundays) before Easter. It is a moveable feast, falling on a different date each year because it is dependent on the date of Easter. It can occur as early as 4 February or as late as 10 March.
Ash Wednesday gets its name from the practice of placing ashes on the foreheads of the faithful as a sign of repentance. The ashes used are gathered after the Palm Crosses from the previous year's Palm Sunday are burned. In the liturgical practice of some churches, the ashes are mixed with the Oil of the Catechumens (one of the sacred oils used to anoint those about to be baptized), though some churches use ordinary oil. This paste is used by the minister who presides at the service to make the sign of the cross, first upon his or her own forehead and then on those of congregants. The minister recites the words: "Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return", or "Repent, and believe the Gospel."
Ash Wednesday is a day of repentance and it marks the beginning of Lent. Ashes were used in ancient times, according to the Bible, to express mourning. Dusting oneself with ashes was the penitent's way of expressing sorrow for sins and faults. (Eg. Numbers 19:9, 19:17, Jonah 3:6, Matthew 11:21).
It marks the start of a forty day period analogous to the separation of Jesus in the desert to fast and pray. During this time he was tempted. Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12-13, and Luke 4:1-13.
Isaiah 58:1-12 (English Standard Version)
Friday, February 05, 2021
Hi DVBC Church family!
Join us on Sunday mornings - it's going to great!
This year, we want to focus on Jesus and what it means practically to follow him together.
The early Christians were not called ‘Christians’ or ‘Baptists’ or ‘church-goers’ - they were known as “Followers of the Way”.
They followed the ways of their Lord, Jesus - AND they recognised that Jesus himself, WAS the Way.
And they were known for their distinctive lifestyle. They weren’t religious. They didn’t have Church buildings. They didn’t have paid ministers. They didn’t see “The Church” as an institution or a Charity or even as a religion.
They lived as a movement of individuals and households, often underground from the mainstream. They met and broke bread together over meals. They learnt and modelled the practices and habits of Jesus and passed them on to their kids.
And how they treated strangers and slaves and women and their enemies was radically different to the empire. They would not bow to Caesar as Lord.
They were all filled with the Spirit of Jesus and used their gifting and their prayers to bless others. They were ‘partners ‘rather than ‘patrons!’
It’s all about Jesus!
So our theme for the next while will be: “Followers of The Way of Jesus”.
We’re going to think about why Jesus is so central; the new Covenant into which we are called; and the new Kingdom into which we serve. If you can grasp these ideas, and build them to your kids — it will revolutionise your home!
We will then also have a go at some of the really practical habits that will help us hear Gods voice and grasp the bible, so we can respond to God’s leading - It will be a bit like a toolkit of discipleship skills. And all of this is stuff you can pass on to your familiy around the dinner table.
Think of our Sunday morning gatherings as “Gatherings” of the Disciples to share and grow and celebrate — rather than “Worship” services.
Each week, at our Live Service, (and in our Diamo Online Service)there will be a short talk on our theme and some easy homework.
There will ALSO be a stand-alone Teaching Video on the DVBC Youtube page that teases out the theme deeply. You should watch that video later on — either by yourself — or even better, as a discussion starter with your Small group or your family.
Can I urge you to join us in person on Sunday mornings?
At least for a couple of Sundays!
I know for many of us getting back into the ‘routine’ can be a mental block. And for many of us, being home-based on Sunday is so much easier.
And yes, as we go through the year we will be developing some off-site, home-based ‘micro-churches’ for those who want to invest more locally into their neighbourhoods. That will be really important. (Contact me if you are interested — email@example.com)
BUT, as we start the year, having been apart for so long, we need to reconnect with each other and intentionally leave our feelings about 2020 at the foot of the Cross.
Give it a go this Sunday, rather than just using Diamo Online!
This year, let’s take very very seriously that we are called to be followers of The Way — the Way of Jesus.
Take your eyes off what others are doing or saying. Don’t judge or evaluate your faith by how other pilgrims on the journey make you feel. Don’t say: “I’m looking for a perfect church.” Focus on Jesus not others. That’s where your strength and your hope come from.
See you soon!
Friday, January 01, 2021
This next Wednesday (6 January) marks the feast of Epiphany. Epiphany is a feast celebrating the 'shining forth' or revelation of God to mankind in human form, in the person of Jesus Christ. The observance had its origins in the eastern Christian church, and included the birth of Jesus Christ; the visit of the Magi (traditionally Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) who arrived in Bethlehem; and all of Jesus' childhood events, up to his baptism in the Jordan by John the Baptist. The feast was initially based on (and viewed as a fulfillment of) the Jewish Feast of Lights. This was fixed on January 6.
T.S. Elliott wore an interesting poem reflecting on the journey of the Magi to Bethlehem:
Thursday, December 31, 2020
Saturday, December 26, 2020
Thursday, December 24, 2020
The picture doesn’t always look like we think it ought to. Listen to Isaiah’s words: “Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." Is. 53:1- 3
God's presence and mission will unsettle and disturb us. Its sends us ‘outside the lines’ – to people outside our walls; to do things we’ve never done before; to take risks that may cost us everything.
Our calling is this:
- To live and serve together as followers of Jesus
- To bring wholeness and health to our community
- To help people find and follow Jesus
How might we begin? Here’s some ideas:
- Believe that we are sent with unbelievably Good News for the world! Revisit your own story of faith. Ask God to ‘restore the JOY of your salvation’ – and then live it and proclaim it from the heart.
- Affirm that we are each called to serve! It’s not just the minister or outreach-worker, but all of us! To be a member of our church community is to commit to a team. Our workplace and our neighbourhood is our parish – we are to be salt and light there.
- View your job, your house and your money as a simply a means to blessing others. Learn to pray: “Whatever you ask Lord, whatever the cost, grant me grace to obey and follow.”
- Believe that the Holy Spirit is within you not just as an idea but with transforming power – and that you can dare to find courage and compassion outside your own strength.
- Set time aside to learn to pray and listen together. What is God saying to you? Then do it in faith – even if it means winding up or changing something you cherish.
- Read the scriptures together – not for ‘rules to follow' but as through a window to ‘see Christ more clearly, love him more dearly, and follow him more nearly.’ Study the scriptures as you watch the daily news. How then should we live?
- Live simply: How do we spend the money for which we are but stewards? What do we waste? What does it mean to be local curators of God’s creation?
- Start small: For example, rather than a full meals program; why don’t you take a meal to the neighbours across the street? Rather than a big outreach event – why not a really long, deep, listening, conversation with the guy next door? Join the local basketball club rather feeling you need to start a church club! Invite some of the local school kids round to ‘hang’ with your kids rather than only giving them a youth group flyer! Join the local SES, CFA, school committee or playgroup; sign a petition to right some wrong; start a book club for your area and discuss non-Christian literature and film; check out when your Council sits; write a letter to the local paper; go golfing with your work mates and honour them by listening deeply.
- Change your lingo. Cross-cultural workers learn the language and customs of their people group. How do we 'churchy' types communicate? What do our forms of church gathering; songs; pews; language and musty halls say about how integrated we are into our neighbourhood?
- Covenant to live out virtues that show we follow Jesus. Let’s stop talking about church ‘values’ and replace them with ‘virtues’. What are the practises or faith-disciplines for which we can encourage each other?
Hi Diamo Family!
There is something very messy and unpredictable about babies. I get a certain nervous satisfaction about watching prospective first time parents plan for the impending birth of their first-born! They studiously take notes at the pre-natal classes; paint the room in sparkling clean colours; buy crisp white baby outfits and plan ahead as if their new tenant will synchronise their diary to seamlessly blend in! Yeah, that was me too all those years ago!
In fact babies and toddlers are messy! Everything from their eating habits through to the other end of the business is quite chaotic. They break the rules and shake up the tidy order of our lives! And yet in the midst of that chaos – they grow and develop; they learn to walk, speak and feed themselves.
Amidst the sleepless nights and incessant nappy changes, parents experience life in its most exuberant. Nothing is impossible! The ‘why?’ and the ‘but why not?’ questions never end! The horizons of imagination are endlessly explored!
Some time around school age they get taught about rules – there are social conventions and there are ways of doing things that win favour. I remember on one occasion, when our oldest boy was in grade one, he noticed his little three year old brother energetically colouring in a picture. Little Josh was going for it! Bright streaks of crayon everywhere! On the picture outline, next to it and even on the other page and the table beneath! His older brother got very upset: “He’s doing it wrong daddy! Tell him he’s not doing it how you are supposed to! You’re supposed to colour inside the lines – You’re not supposed to colour outside the lines!”