My Cup Runneth Over: The theme for the September meeting of National Secretariat was taken from Psalm 23, verses 5 & 6: 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
These verses suggest to me an abundance of hospitality at the banquet of the LORD.
In ancient Near-Eastern culture, at a banquet it was customary to anoint a person with fragrant oil. Hosts were also expected to protect their guests at all costs. God offers the protection of a host even when enemies surround us. In the final scene of this psalm, we see that believers will dwell with the LORD. GOD, the perfect shepherd and host, promises to guide and help us through life to bring us into his house forever.
The passage from John’s gospel which describes the miracle of changing water into wine is very familiar to us, and in verse 11 we are told that 11 What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.
Jesus was on a mission to save the world – the greatest mission in the history of humankind. Yet, He took time out to attend a wedding and take part in its festivities lasting for a whole week. Many of us have succumbed to the temptation of not taking time out from our important work duties for social occasions – and I was very challenged while writing this! But what if these social activities were a part of our mission? Jesus valued wedding festivities because they involved people – and Jesus came to be with people. Our mission can often be accomplished by bringing Jesus into joyous times of celebration with others – it’s all about balance.
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The Sweet Perfume of Jesus – was the theme for our National Secretariat Meeting in Busselton, Western Australia. National Lay Director Roger O’Hara chose it from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 2: 14-15 “14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing”.
There are many smells and aromas that surround our daily lives – that distinctive smell of the local garbage truck or the road kill left behind on the main road … but what about the smell of freshly baked bread, or the sight, sound and smell of bacon cooking for breakfast, or enjoying the achievement and smell of a freshly cut lawn. I’m sure we all have our favourites.
So, how can our lives spread the sweet perfume of Jesus? How can everyone with whom we come in contact see Jesus in us? Some background: In a Roman triumphal procession, the victorious general would display his treasures and captives amidst a cloud of incense burned for the pagan gods. To the victors, the aroma is sweet; to the captives, the prisoners in the parade, it was the smell of slavery and death. When Christians share the Gospel, it is good news to some and repulsive news to others. Believers recognise the life-giving fragrance of the message. To non-believers, however, it smells foul, like death – and in this case, their own.
So, how can we change the way we live each day in order to spread the sweet perfume of Jesus? I’d like to suggest 3 things we can do – we can change our words, change our deeds, what we do – and change our attitudes.
Our Words – Ephesians 4:29 and 5:4 are relevant here. We can upset, disappoint or grieve the Holy Spirit by the way we live. Here, Paul warns us against bad language, fighting, saying false things against people and having a bad attitude toward others. Instead of all this, we need to be more patient, forgiving and showing love towards the people we meet – just as God did when He sent Jesus to die for our sins. Obscenity and coarse joking are so common that we begin to take them for granted. Paul cautions, however, that improper language should have no place in the Christian’s conversation because it does not reflect God’s gracious presence in us. How can we praise God and remind others of His goodness when we are speaking coarsely?
Our Deeds – Matthew 5:16 and Galatians 5: 19-21 are our scriptural basis here. The well-worn description which asks the question: ‘Can you hide a city that is sitting on top of a hill?’ Its light at night can be seen for many kilometres. If we live for Jesus, we will glow like lights – emit Christ-like perfume – showing others what Christ is like.
We hide our light or keep Christ’s aroma to ourselves by:.
1. Being quiet when we should speak;
2. Going along with the crowd;
3. Denying the light;
4. Letting sin dim our light;
5. Not explaining our light to others; OR
6. Ignoring the needs of others.
We need to be a light that shines, and to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.
We all have evil desires, and so we can’t ignore them. In order for us to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we must deal with them decisively – or as Ephesians 5:24 tells us, crucify them. Such desires include the obvious sins such as sex-ual immorality and witchcraft – but also the less obvious ones like selfish ambition, hatred and jealousy. Those who ignore such sins or refuse to deal with them show that they have not received the gift of the Spirit that leads to a reformed life. And lastly,
Our Attitudes – Philippians 2: 5-8 and Romans 8: 5-8 are our go-to scriptures here. Jesus Christ is humble – willing to give up His rights and serve people. Like Christ, we should have a servant’s attitude, serving out of love for God and others – not out of guilt or fear. We should always remember that we can choose our attitude. We can approach life expecting to be served – OR – we can look for opportunities to serve others. When Jesus walked this earth as a human being, he voluntarily assumed a human body and human nature. He did not cease to be God BUT He did set aside the right to His glory and power. Jesus of Nazareth was subject to place, time and many other human limitations. But by being without sin, He was unique. He showed us that everything about God’s character can be conveyed in human terms.
In Romans, Paul divides his audience into 2 categories – those who are dominated by their sinful nature, and those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit. All of us would be in the first category if Jesus hadn’t offered us a way out. Once we say YES to Jesus, we will want to follow Him, because His way brings life and peace. Daily, we need to consciously choose to centre our lives on God. By immersing ourselves in the Bible, we can discover God’s guidelines, and then follow them. In every perplexing situation, ask “What would Jesus have me do?” – and when the Holy Spirit points out what is right, do it eagerly.
May we ask God to help us be aware of the place of Jesus in our lives: “May the Holy Spirit guide the words we say, the way we conduct our-selves and the attitudes we choose to have. We give thanks for the Cursillo Movement in this Diocese and throughout the world. May it prosper and bring glory to your Holy Name by spreading your sweet perfume to all.
This we pray through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Fr Steve Niland – National Spiritual Advisor & our Diocesan Spiritual Director
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Luke 21:29—36 ..and he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. As soon as they come out in leaf, you see for yourselves and know that the summer is already near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the Kingdom of God is near. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away …
Our relationship with God could be described as a series of choices. Following Jesus is a daily process of choosing life over death – with the promise that he will work to heal our bad decisions so that new life is always open to us. We don’t need to be like the Corinthians who seemed to want to choose between Paul and Apollos. We all have different gifts and callings and so need to work together in God’s garden.
Life is full of choices and consequences – if we are holding a glass and we drop it on a hard floor, the chances are that it will break. Moses explained to the people of Israel that their future decisions would have consequences. They had been rescued from slavery in Egypt but they would need to choose to stay free. They could worship God and live his way OR they could choose to become slaves to idols made from stone or wood – basically a choice between life and death, blessings or curses.
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In the Gospel of John chapter 15, Jesus tells us in verse 12: This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you; and emphasizes this in verse 17: I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. To follow this command, we need to understand how Jesus loves us – so we can love each other in the same way.
The passage also says this: 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. I invite you to think about the cross for a moment and ask yourself if it is an image of love or one of commandment? Personally, I think it’s an image of both. By dying on the cross, Jesus showed his love for us – but the sacrifice that it represents is also the way that Jesus commands us to live for each other. We must love sacrificially and wholeheartedly – ready to give anything up for each other. After all, Jesus referred to following him as “taking up our cross”.
We are a people that place a high value on the right to choose. We make all sorts of choices – big and small – in the course of our everyday lives. How good does it feel to know that Jesus chose us? Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that we are responsible for our faith – that it is there to be chosen or not. This simply is not true. It is Christ who has called us. He draws us to himself, and is unwilling to let us go. Thus, the only choice is whether we want to follow his command to love, learning bit by bit what it means to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. We need to choose love each day in all we say and do.
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A CELEBRATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT – “On Pentecost Sunday, we generally say we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. However, what we do not openly recognize is that the Holy Spirit has always existed. When we read in John 15: 26, ‘When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf,’ ABM Pew Reflection for the Day of Pentecost – we are basically referred back to John 1:1 ‘In the beginning was the Word’ – This says that the Lord Jesus has always been and refers to the eternal self-existence of Jesus before He became flesh as noted in John 1:14. It is equally true that the Holy Spirit has always existed and been active in the affairs of the world along with God the Father, and God the Son. These events all occurred before the manifestation of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. That is what we celebrate on the day of Pentecost – the manifestation or revealing of the Holy Spirit to the Apostles.”
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Jesus came to bring us life in all its fullness. The transformative impact of encountering Jesus is wonderfully and vividly illustrated in the changing of the water into wine at the wedding feast at Cana in Galilee. The mundane and the ordinary can become infused by the power and the glory of God – if we are prepared to respond in faith to the challenge of Mary to the servants to “DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU”.
It’s always good to have some joy in our lives – because it’s tough when something is troubling or bothering us and taking our joy away. Sometimes it feels like we’re running on empty. So, how does Jesus restore “JOY”?
Firstly, we have to be where Jesus is. Jesus, his mother and his disciples were together at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. A Jewish wedding feast, back in those days, reportedly lasted for a whole week. Beginning with something like a parade, the father of the bride would escort his daughter to the groom’s house where they would be married at the front door. Then the feast would begin – and last for 7 days – with lots of food and wine. Jesus brings joy to people’s lives.
Secondly we need to be aware of a need and Mary the mother of Jesus became aware of the need when she said to Jesus: “They have no wine”. For a Jew this meant no joy – and, at a celebration like this, the family reputation was at stake. Even though Mary was the mother of Jesus – she was also a disciple of His – and she went to him with a problem: “They have no wine…they have no joy”. She also said to the servants to DO WHATEVER HE TELLS YOU…obey him.
Now there were 6 large 20 to 30-gallon stone water-jars which were used for Jewish purification rites before and after meals. By this time, much if not all of the water was probably gone. Jesus told the servants to fill the jars and they did – to the brim. But they didn’t need water they needed wine. How would this bring back JOY to the celebrations? They did not understand how this would solve their problem – but – they – obeyed. These 6 stone jars would hold up to 180 Gallons; that is approximately 2,880 eight ounce glasses of wine – good news for any Anglican! Jesus saves the best wine until last. Are we the best we can be?
Are we the best we can be for Jesus? Friends, if Jesus can take ordinary water and transform it into the finest wine, think what he can do with the stone jars of our lives. Jesus wants to fill us to overflowing with his joy. Let’s empty out whatever the stale water is in our lives that is stealing our joy and allow Jesus to replace it with the new wine of his love, joy and peace. Only when we are empty can Jesus offer us his very best. Fr Steve
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Well the 3 days of M44 & W44A Cursillo 2015 are gone – but the 4th Day beckons… Some responses from the weekend were: The LD’s said ‘It was ‘a privilege’….and what a great privilege it is for us all to support and encourage and love our fellow brothers and sisters in all walks of life….. The Candidates said……”Thank You God:….. Revealed things I should be looking @ in my life….Open, trusting in God….Pretty daunting—a challenge but it was great….Extraordinary. I’ll never be the same again…..Awaking of the Holy Spirit in me I’m renewed , excited my life has meaning…..I feel His love…..”Wow” incredible, what a week-end…..Height, breadth and depth…..Lots of laughs and tears…..Come with a closed mind thought it would be like a ‘Christian camp’, it was funny, there’s a sense of humour, I met some really good blokes, I can’t explain what happened—I was different…..Emotional week-end…..Opened my eyes—very power-ful…..What I enjoyed was the healing session…..Every person realised their negativity and we felt the light…..Its’ a journey—God has lead us here and I am thankful for being here…..A moving time…..Made some great friendships…..Can’t put into words….. Emotional awakening and kick in the butt…..Moving, wonderful experience….. Tears of sadness, tears of joy, tears for wonderful people…. I don’t know what happened this week-end but something has…..Rainbow Angels…..Experiencing the Holy spirit…..Singing and love over the weekend was amazing…..Full of surprises, I’m meant to be here…..We all held each other up I will never forget it I blame the Holy Spirit ‘cos I’m here…..Uplifting—have never felt so much Christian love before…..A roller coaster ride…..Thankful to the people who have a calling for the weekend on their life…..An honour to be here, a great experience…..A sense of calm…..I can support people…..A lot to digest and weeks for the pennies to drop. Feeling extremely blessed—feel part of a bigger family and the church as a whole”……and after all those wise, meaningful, heart-warming, encouraging words of wisdom….. ULTREYA ! Onward & Upward !
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Lent is, of course, the time we intentionally set aside to reflect on our earthly journey with our God. Many of us are involved in group Bible studies during this time, with the focus on our beliefs surrounding the sacrifice of Jesus and how we live these beliefs in our lives.
Anzac Day places our focus on the sacrifice of those who have lived and died to demonstrate their beliefs in freedom and justice. It is a time when much of the world shifts its focus to those rocky cliffs in Turkey where so many of our young men, and the young men of New Zealand and Turkey, fought and died, very graphically demonstrating their beliefs.
I am sure we have all read many of the very moving accounts of those days, with many of our young people engaged in in-depth study of the circumstances surrounding the encounter. I hear them expressing how much these accounts have changed them and made them reconsider the patterns of their lives.
This in turn leads me to question how we tell our Christian stories, showing our communities how these accounts have changed the way we live and work. God has provided us with the necessary stories and framework to make a huge difference in the world – No, to change the world completely!
Are we happy to tell our stories and show our deep beliefs in the way we live, work and show regard to all others? Do we really acknowledge our beliefs?
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