Week 1

Sunday 18 September

11.00am Morning Service

Intro to Matthew: Disciples not members – Derek McKelvey

7.00pm Evening Service

Intro to Matthew:  Call to commit – Derek McKelvey

Monday 19 September

Read Matthew 1:1-17

What a list! We normally skip over these verses and go straight to the Christmas story. But then we miss the point. Jesus’ arrival was not by a spaceship like ET, he, like us, has a set of ancestors – a family tree[1] – and one peppered with names we recognise (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David etc.) but also with many of whom nothing else is known, even after all the scrutiny of scholars. There they are, just names, but equally important as any of the ‘big names of the faith’ mentioned earlier. Each played an equally essential part – and each disciple still does. Many honour the name of Billy Graham (arguably the 20th century’s greatest evangelist) but few even know of Albert McMakin, an employee on the Graham farm in North Carolina, who persuaded the reluctant young Billy (16) to go to the revival meeting by promising to allow him to drive Albert’s truck, and that night Billy committed his life to Christ..

You may feel that there are ‘superstar’ Christians all around you – and you are unimportant or insignificant (or you may have a much more realistic view of the clay feet of the so-called ‘superstars’) but either way this is the point — God needs, wants and uses every single disciple as an integral part of his purposes. And your name is on the list!

PS It is worth noting too that Matthew clearly involves the women in his genealogy which is both striking and for his day counter cultural. They are however like the men a mixed bunch – Ruth and Rahab both feature!

[1] Both the writer and the reader will be aware that Joseph was not genetically his father but nonetheless he was born into a family and cultural inheritance which shaped his upbringing and his worldview.

Tuesday 20 September

Read Genesis 27

Back to the clay feet of the big names! This chapter makes for sad reading – Jacob (later to be renamed Israel) gets his birthright and inheritance by barefaced (well hairy-faced actually) trickery, in collusion with his mother, against a dying and feeble old man. Dysfunctional family par excellence!

All of us come from families that are dysfunctional to a greater or lesser extent – and none of us have perfect histories or pure motives. In spite of all that, God uses us and wants us. Neither past history nor present feelings are a disqualification for discipleship.

Wednesday 21 September

Read Matthew 4:18-25

Why this passage at this point? Well two reasons actually:

  1. Each of the disciples is called individually and by name. No mass recruitment. No sign-up sheet. The initiative is His and he makes up his team from a wide and varied set of people.
  2. The first mission involves Jews and non-Jews, Roman citizens and those who hated the Romans. Matthew finishes his gospel with the great commission to ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel’[1] but he starts by subtly pointing out that it started that way too. … throughout Syria…from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and from beyond the Jordan. North, South, East and West – fulfilling (though almost surprisingly Matthew does not refer to them as Luke does[2] ) the whole tenor of Isaiah’s prophecies[3]:
[1] 28:16-20
[2] Luke 13:29
[3] Isaiah 43:6; 49:6; 54:2,3; 66:18-20.

Thursday 22 September

Read Matthew 5:1-2

The crowds are pushing in – privacy and space are needed to talk with the disciples. So off to the hills and to listening to the Lord. By the end of the sermon, it is clear that the crowds have quietly shuffled up and sat down and they too have been listening.

There are lessons here for us – to hear God we need to get away and give space and time – we need to be attentive to his presence – but the more we do this the more it will happen anyway, even when the crowd shuffles back in and surrounds us once more. Take time in the quiet, and the quiet will stay with you in the busyness of everyday.

Friday 23 September

Read Luke 10:38-42

The age-old battle between the contemplative and the active is mirrored here. People will describe themselves as a Martha, as if it excuses them from praying or listening, and there are those who pride themselves on being ‘Mary’ and end up leaving all the work to others. Jesus in the story is commending those who listen but not condemning those who work – but only one course is necessary, not a five-course meal – that gives time for work and listening. Rhythm is important – time to listen and time to act.

Saturday 24 September

Saturday is a day for reflection and thought on all you have read this week. Or for catching up on what you were not able to read earlier in the week.

You may want to ponder these questions as you reflect on the week’s reading:

  1. Why me? Or better still ‘Why not me?’ when God is choosing and using.
  2. How and in what way did you become aware of God’s call for you? Are you aware of God’s call for you?
  3. Clay feet do not disqualify! How do you reconcile the ‘you’ you see inside with the gifting and vocation that others see in you?
  4. How do you get rhythm in your life?

For Children:

You may want to construct a simple family tree for your children, pointing out the parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, grandparents – and if you know who they are the great-grandparents – you might want to tell the stories you know of them emphasising that they were ordinary and extraordinary people just like those in Jesus’ list. And showing that they (the children) are part of Jesus’ family too, just as God intended.

Sunday 25 September

11.00am Morning Service

Matthew 1:1-17: Everybody matters and anyone can! – Derek McKelvey

7.00pm Evening Service

Matthew 5:1-2: Sitting at his feet – Derek Mckelvey