Reflections

During these difficult times we will be writing some short reflections. These will be published here and made available through the Facebook and Twitter pages.

Reflections this week by Rev David Denniston

Be Holy

 

Reading

 

As he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ 1st Peter 1: 15-16 

 

 

Thought 

 

Being holy gets a bad press! Perhaps we have been too influenced by the negative portrayal of holiness in the likes of Robert Burns’ poem ‘Holy Wullie’s Prayer’ and so we can associate the concept of holiness with hypocrisy at worst or with a kind of false piety or dull lifestyle at best.

 

How far from the truth this is!

 

To be holy is to be set apart from the ways of the world in order to live for God. It is to live a life that gives glory to God and which follows God’s way and will. 

 

A ‘holy life’ will be characterised by the love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness and so on that Paul describes in Galatians when he speaks of the Fruit of the Spirit. It is what he refers to in his letter to the Romans when he urges us to not to be conformed to this world but to be transformed by the renewal of our minds. It is what Jesus calls ‘life abundant’ (or ‘life in all its fulness’)!

 

So let us  pay heed to the encouragement to us from these words in 1st Peter to ‘be holy, in all our conduct’!

 

Prayer 

Great and Glorious God, 

Lord of Light and Life,  

may we seek to live our lives in holiness, 

open to your transforming Holy Spirit 

that the fruit of all goodness and righteousness 

may grow in abundance in our lives, 

that we might live in love, joy and peace, 

and know life in all its fulness;

Readings from the First Letter of Peter

 

This week we continue and conclude our readings from the 1st Letter of Peter.

 

Monday 26th April

 

Serve One Another

 

Reading

 

Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaining. Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.                                                                                                                                                   1st Peter 4: 8-10

 

Thought

 

We read so often in the New Testament about how we must love one another. We sing about it in church. We know that it is the explicit and repeated commandment of Jesus.

 

But what does it mean to love one another?

 

Well, it certainly means more than having warm feelings for each other! It involves action, and sometimes sacrificial action.

 

The specific things mentioned in these verses are showing hospitality to others without complaining, and serving one another with whatever we have.

 

Let us consider today how we can show hospitality to others (or perhaps, think about how we might do so once pandemic restrictions allow!) and how we can serve others with such gifts as we have received.

 

If we do so, then love will indeed begin to be more than warm words or warm feelings, but will be the kind of active love that does cover a multitude of sins!

 

 

Prayer

Great and Glorious God,

Lord of Light and Life,

teach us to live according to Christ’s command to love,

to serve one another in humility,

and to show generous hospitality;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

Tuesday 27th April

 

Rejoice in Suffering

 

Reading

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that is taking place among you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice in so far as you are sharing Christ’s sufferings, so that you may also be glad and shout for joy when his glory is revealed… if any of you suffers as a Christian, do not consider it a disgrace, but glorify God because you bear this name.

 

1st Peter 4: 12-13 & 16

Thought

 

The idea that we should somehow ‘rejoice’ in our sufferings seems odd, and perhaps even rather perverse! Do we not seek to alleviate suffering where we can, avoid it when we are able and work and pray for its eradication? Well, yes, of course we do!

 

We are not being urged to rejoice because we face the common sufferings of life that are common to all. Rather, these words refer to when we suffer as Christians because of our allegiance to the way of Jesus and our living out the life of faith. For the first readers of these words – as, indeed, for many Christina in some parts of our world today – very significant suffering was a daily reality as they faced persecution, imprisonment and even death, because of their faith.

 

We do not face any of these direct threats. However, that does not mean that living out our faith does not lead to difficulty, tension and discomfort. What we are being encouraged to do here is to rejoice when we suffer for our faith, because we know that we are therefore sharing in the sufferings of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

When we struggle in living out our faith in this world where the priorities are so different from God’s, then let us take courage, be strong and rejoice that we are sharing in Christ’s sufferings.

 

Prayer

 

Great and Glorious God,

Lord of Light and Life,

when we find ourselves ridiculed or rejected,

uncomfortable or unwelcome

because we seek to live out our faith,

the principles of the Gospel

and the values of your  Kingdom,

give us courage not to give up,

strength to continue on your way

and the grace to rejoice

that we are sharing in the sufferings of your Son,

our Lord Jesus Christ;

through the same Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen

Wednesday 28th April

 

Humility

 

Reading

All of you must clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for
‘God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. 

                                                                                                1st Peter 5: 5b-6

 

 

Thought

 

Not for the first time in this letter, we are here being urged to be humble. A humble attitude towards others (which these verses refer to as ‘humility in your dealings with one another’) begins with our relationship with God. We are to humble ourselves before him (‘humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God’, as it says here).

 

It has been said that there are many people who will gladly serve God… mostly in an advisory capacity! But, of course, that is not what serving God means. To serve God is to humble ourselves before him; to recognise his awesome majesty and to know that it is only by his grace that we can come into his presence, not because of any right or righteousness of our own.

 

It is when we enter into that relationship with God that we can learn to turn aside from pride and adopt humility in all our dealings with other people.

 

Let us today humbly come into God’s presence and then show true humility in our dealings with others.

 

 

Prayer

Great and Glorious God,

Lord of Light and Life, 

may we come into your presence in humility,

seeking to serve you with the offering of our lives;

and may we show humility

in all our dealings with one another,

ever ready to serve others;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Thursday 29th April                  

 

Anxiety

 

Reading

 

Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.

1st Peter 5: 7

 

Thought

 

There are few of us who do not experience anxiety, and there are some of us for whom anxiety is a constant and crippling companion in life. The encouragement to cast all our anxiety on him, is not some kind of glib ‘cure-all’ to be offered to those of us who find anxiety an ongoing burden. Rather it is grounded in an affirmation which – by faith – we can believe; God cares for us.

 

For all of us in the midst of any anxieties, this truth can be affirmed and re-affirmed; this reality can be repeated and repeated again. God cares for you.

 

During these strange days of restriction, isolation, disruption of normal life, and worries about health, livelihood or loved ones, many people have found that anxiety has grown.

 

As we continue our cautious re-emergence from lockdown there can be new anxieties arising for us.

 

In the face of all of that, let us affirm that God cares for us, and – in faith – cast our anxieties upon him.

 

 

Prayer

 

Great and Glorious God,

Lord of Light and Life, 

we gladly affirm your constant care for us.

In the face of all that would worry or concern us,

may we – trusting in your care –

cast all our anxieties upon you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.
Friday 30th April

 

Keep Alert

 

Reading

 

Discipline yourselves; keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering.

                                                                                                1st Peter 5: 8-9

 

Thought

 

The picture of a roaring lion, prowling around us and waiting to pounce is a striking image! While the Psalmist in the Old Testament often pictured danger and enemies as lions, it is likely that the experience of persecuted Christians in the Roman Empire being ‘thrown to the lions’ is in mind here. If so, then the identification of the devil with cruel state persecution may invite some further exploration than we can indulge in is this ‘thought for the day’.

 

But, while we may not be directly subject to such cruel persecution, we are still all to well aware that we can be ‘prey’ to all kinds of attacks and temptations on a daily basis. And if we succumb to the temptations or find ourselves struggling with what the hymn refers to as ‘fighting and fears, within, without’ then we know too how much that can undermine our faith and our spiritual confidence.

 

And so it is all the more important that we are alert to all of this and keep alert. And part of this is to ‘discipline in ourselves’ as it says in vs 8. Let us be sure to maintain the spiritual disciplines of prayer, worship, bible reading and so on that we might not succumb to the attacks and temptations that assail us.

 

And let us also be confident in God our protector, defender and strength. As someone has pointed out, if the devil is like a prowling lion, we should also remember that because of Christ’s victory, he is also a tethered lion!

 

 

Prayer

 

Great and Glorious God,

Lord of Light and Life, 

may we always be alert to those things

that would pull us down,

undermine our faith,

or attack our confidence in you.

Strengthen us in our spiritual discipline

that we might be able to resist temptation

and prevail when attacked;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

 

Saturday 1st May

 

Stand Fast

 

Reading

 

Through Silvanus, whom I consider a faithful brother, I have written this short letter to encourage you, and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Stand fast in it.

                                                                                                                        1st Peter 5: 12

 

Thought

 

This letter has been written to encourage its readers. I hope that we have felt encouraged as over these past three weeks, we have briefly looked at some of the thoughts within it.

 

In the Bible, ‘encouragement’ means comforting and strengthening.  It is a wee bit more than simply cheering someone on or offering them compliments, as we might tend to think of it today.

 

So, the message of this letter has been for our comforting and our strengthening. And over these past several months, we have needed much of both comfort and strength! This pandemic period has been a uniquely challenging and difficult time for our world, our society, our church, our families and friends and for each one of us.

 

However, it may be that this past year and more will also have encouraged us to know that we can get through tough times. Let us take comfort and strength from that! And even more let us be encouraged by the knowledge that God has not been distant or absent, but has been present with us, to us and for us.

 

And, whatever the future may bring as we slowly emerge from these difficult days, let us continue to ‘stand fast’ and not be moved.

 

 

Prayer

Great and Glorious God,

Lord of Light and Life, 

We thank you for the encouragement,

comfort and strength

that your Gospel of Grace brings to us.

Help us to stand fast in this faith

as we continue with present difficulties

and face future uncertainties.

In the midst of it all, may we recall

that you are not distant nor absent,

but are ever present;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.