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  • bigredchurch


Philippians 2: 1 - 8

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross.


Have you ever had one of those days? Or maybe for you it has been weeks, or months, or even years, those times when it seems as if nothing is going the way that you hoped it would go. I have been thinking about those times in my life, and in some ways I feel as if I have been existing in one right now. We quite often look to the world as our gauge for whether our lives are successful or not. We look to what the world says we need in our lives in order to be complete, to be worthy, to be successful, and in all honesty it is sometimes very difficult to live up to the expectations of society and the world. So what then is the whole purpose of all of this? If we struggle to live up to the expectations of who the world says we should be, or who the world says we need to be, what to we do?

The scripture from Paul’s letter to the community at Philippi speaks deeply to how we are called to live in the world. It doesn’t speak of attaining wealth, or property, or status for oneself, no, it speaks to a very simple thing and that is that we are to love. That is our mission in life, to love. It seems so simple and yet it is so difficult in our world today. Yes, it might be a challenge for each of us to love, but it is loving that we follow Christ. The wonderful artist Vincent Van Gogh stated, “It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” Emile Zola, the French novelist, journalist, and play write was reported to have said, “If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” We too are called to live our lives ‘out loud’ and to do this we must love largely.

Our challenge as Christians is to love humbly, to love others so that they feel that they are worthy. We are challenged to love because loving is never wasted. As we come to love also come to know that we are loved, that God loves each of us, as we are right now, not as the world tells us we need to be. So the world might tell us that we don’t measure up, that we don’t have enough, that we aren’t good enough, but our faith tell us that our love is always enough. When we love we emulate Christ who came to love everyone, not just the few, but everyone. To love, it is not easy to do in the world today, but it is what we are called to do and we are called to do it loudly. We are called to proclaim our love to the world, for our love needs to be for the world. So when it seems as if nothing is going right in your world, I invite you to remember that what we really need to do is to love and as Van Gogh said, when we love, everything that we do is done well.


God of deep infinite love, we ask that you be with us as struggle through this thing called life. Help us to hear your call to love over the calls of the world. The calls of the world that tell us that we are not enough, that we are not worthy, that are lives are not worthy. Help us to recognize your love for us, just as we are, and then give us the courage to love others as we have been loved. We ask this in the name of Love Incarnate, your son, Jesus. Amen.

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  • bigredchurch


Luke 4: 18 - 19

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour.”

James 2: 14 - 17

What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,” and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead.


I have been thinking this week about this thing that we do, this idea of church. I suppose in some ways that makes sense because of my ‘call’ to serve in the church. What is this thing that we do called church? So we come together to worship, to sing, to pray, and to be a part of a community of believers, but it really goes beyond that, doesn’t it? Or maybe is should go beyond that! Both of the scriptures speak to something deeply profound as they speak to actions that one is challenged to take, when they say that they are a believer. It is interesting as I have a colleague friend who believes that our faith must consist of everything that we do, once we say ‘I believe.’ In other words our faith should be reflected in everything we do, in every action that we take, rather than just the words that we use on a Sunday morning within the four walls of our church buildings. The scriptures are challenging us to move beyond mere words, in some ways they are challenging us to move beyond mere belief. I wonder, did Jesus ever want us to just believe, or was the point of Jesus’s coming to challenge us to action? Richard Rohr, the Roman Catholic priest, theologian, and spiritual guide, thinks of this idea in the following way, “Christianity is a lifestyle - a way of being in the world that is simple, non-violent, shared, and loving. However, we made it into an

established religion" (and all that goes with that) and avoided the lifestyle change itself. One could be warlike, greedy, racist, selfish, and vain in most of Christian history, and still believe that Jesus is one’s "personal Lord and Savior.” The world has no time for such silliness anymore. The suffering on Earth is too great.” According to Rohr to be a Christian means that we embody Christ in our own lives and do, as Christ did, in the world. It is more than belief it is action and it is action that is sorely needed in today’s world. When we default to understanding our faith as only something that we are called to believe we don’t recognize the true power of faith. Yes, I believe that there is power in our faith, and even though that word has some negative connotations, I believe that it is in this power that we can make a difference. Going back to Richard Rohr, he speaks to this idea in the following way, “We worshiped Jesus instead of following him on his same path. We made Jesus into a mere religion instead of a journey toward union with God and everything else. This shift made us into a religion of 'belonging and believing’ instead of a religion of transformation.” When we begin to see that our faith is not only about what we believe, but rather it is a call for us to ‘do,’ we begin to see that our faith is actually one of transformation. Yes, we come together to worship, to pray, to sing, and be in community, but all of these should energize us to move out into the world and ‘do.’ Our faith is more than something that we believe, it is something that we are called to do each and every day of our lives and in living our faith we become people of transformation in a world that needs to be transformed in love, grace, mercy, compassion, peace, and forgiveness. It is our challenge and our call, to embody our faith in every thing that we do in our lives. Maybe it is work, but I can only imagine the type of world that might just emerge as we continue to “LIVE” our faith.


God, who calls us to action, help us to hear your challenge to be more than people who believe, but rather people who act. Give us to courage to go out into the world to truly live our faith in all that we do. Give us the wisdom to know that you call us to more than just ‘believing and belonging,’ but rather you call us to do in the world today and every day. Open our hearts to your calls to action and help us to live out those calls, even in the midst of the challenges of the world. We ask this in the name of the one who came to show us the way, your son, Jesus. Amen.

  • bigredchurch


1Peter 4: 8 - 11

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

Matthew 18: 20

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”


I have continued to think about this concept of presence in our lives. In many ways this week will be a continuation of last week, where I spoke about the assurance of God’s presence with us. I have to admit that it is challenging for us to feel that presence many times but there is another aspect to presence that I believe is just as important for us in our lives and I think that it raises a challenge for each of us. I would like to share with you a little something that I read a couple of weeks ago and it speaks deeply to me. To be perfectly honest I can’t tell you if this was written by the actual author, as no author was cited, but regardless it says something important to us. It is an interaction between Winnie the Pooh and Piglet in the Hundred Acre Wood;

“Piglet?” said Pooh.

“Yes?” said Piglet

“I’m scared,” said Pooh.

For a moment, there was silence.

“Would you like to talk about it?” said Piglet, when Pooh didn’t appear to say anything further.

“I’m just so scared,” blurted out Pooh.

“So anxious. Because I don’t feel like things are getting any better. If anything, I feel like they might be getting worse. People are angry, because they’re so scared, and they’re turning on one another, and there seems to be no clear plan out of here, and I worry about my friends and people I love, and I wish SO much that I could give them all a hug, and oh, Piglet! I am so scared, and I cannot tell you how much I wish it wasn’t so.

Piglet was thoughtful, as he looked out at the blue of the skies, peeping between the branches of the trees in the Hundred Acre Wood, and listened to his friend.

I’m here,” he said, simply. “I hear you, Pooh. And I’m here.”

For a moment, Pooh was perplexed.

“But…..aren’t you going to tell me not to be so silly? That I should stop getting myself into a state and pull myself together? That it’s hard for everyone right now?”

“No,” said Piglet, quite decisively. “No, I am very much not going to do any of those things.”

“But-“ said Pooh.

“I can’t change the world right now,” continued Piglet. “And I am not going to patronize you with platitudes about how everything will be okay, because I don’t know that.”

“What I can do, though, Pooh, is that I can make sure that you know that I am here. And that I will always be here to listen; and to support you; and for you to know that you are heard.”

“I can’t make those Anxious Feelings go away, not really.”

“But I can promise you that, all the time I have breath in my body….you won’t ever need to feel those Anxious Feelings alone.”

And it was a strange thing, because even as Piglet said that, Pooh could feel some of those Anxious Feelings start to loosen their grip on him; could feel one or two of them start to slither away into the forest, cowed by his friend, who sat there next to him.

Pooh thought he had never been more grateful to have Piglet in his life.

There is a hymn that has been sung that has a line that goes something like this, “Christ has no body now but yours.” It speaks to the presence of God through the presence of us. It speaks to the fact that God can, and does, come to us in many different ways. God can come to us in the presence of those around us; in a hug; in a touch; in a smile; in someone just listening. This is the presence that is in the story, but the challenge for us is to be that presence without the need to fix. Quite often we might be hesitant to be that presence for someone because we are afraid that there is nothing that we can do to ‘help.’ The story reminds us that we don’t have to help, we just have to ‘be.’ We just have to enter into those places of doubt, fear, anxious feelings, grief, loneliness, so that those who are there know that they are not alone. We are also called to allow others to enter into those places in our lives, so that the presence of God might be felt through them. It is our calling as Christians to be that calming presence of God in the lives of those who might need it, and to allow others to be that same presence in our lives when we need. In this way we are blessed, we know that we are not alone, and we know that we are loved.


God of infinite presence, please help us to feel you in our lives in all the ways that you come to us. Give us the courage and the strength to be your presence for others in the midst of their struggles. Help us to see that our role is not to fix, but rather just too ‘be’ with them so that they don’t feel alone. Help us to be vulnerable enough to allow others to come into our lives and be your presence for us when we need to feel you. We ask this in the name of the one who gave all for us, your son, Jesus. Amen.

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