Monday 3 October
‘What do we do with the wise guys?’ So, reputedly, the child said brandishing the figures of the wise men when setting up the Christmas crib.
They have always been a puzzle. Who were they? Where did they come from? Were there three or do we deduce that from the gifts?
Many of these questions could fill a long winter’s thought without resolution – but we would miss the point! This unlikely child in such an unlikely situation is ‘The King’ and gifts are what he deserves, and gifts are what he gives.
If you visit Buckingham Palace, you will be shown one beautiful thing after another, gifts from Presidents and Premiers and Princes from across the world. No-one comes empty-handed. And what they give is the best of what they have.
And the greatest gift the wise men had to give was neither the gold nor the frankincense nor the myrrh but ‘they fell down and worshipped him’. Worship is our gift to the King. Not much else we can give – but this he covets and desires. ‘Glory to the new-born King’ worship and wonder both are his right.
Tuesday 4 October
Psalm 72 and Isaiah 60:1-6
This Psalm was written for a coronation of an Israelite King – a bit like ‘Zadok the priest’ and the other Coronation anthems Handel wrote for the coronation of George II in 1727. The song quickly was used for the King of Kings and again sets out the global perspective of the Jewish God. Even though the Jews failed to grasp it in the practicality of mission, they did know that theirs was no narrow, one country, one people, God, but the Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
It is tragic, when one watches modern day Zionism’s ‘ourselves alone’ attitude, to read this Psalm or the passage from Isaiah and grasp the ‘world vision’ at the heart of their faith. God has an inclusive agenda – Religion always has an exclusive agenda – and there is the heart of the discipleship agenda. God wants everybody, especially the most unsuitable or unacceptable – after all he wanted you. And these are the ones who know they need him.
 ‘Ourselves alone’ is the translation of Sinn Fein. We too on both sides of our conflict have lost all sense of a global vision – tragically – as we have seen all too clearly.
Wednesday 5 October
Here right in the heart of the Law – that which sets the Jews apart as Jews – is this same emphasis – Worship (and its rituals such as circumcision) are about heart attitude to God AND to the stranger who lives among you.
Many of us are put off by the struggle to conform to the patterns of religious observance but God himself calls us to the heart attitude not just the outward observance. The heart change required comes from ‘worship’. He is your praise!
That is the secret.
Thursday 6 October
‘You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you’
Once again this captures the essence of the beatitude. It never was solely about death and grief. It was encapsulating the paradox at the heart of Jesus’ message.
Whoever preserves his life will lose it and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it
The last shall be first and the first last
Whoever would be greatest among you, let him be the servant of all
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not fit for the Kingdom of Heaven
In the garden, Adam and Eve’s salvation (in the sense that God did not destroy them for disobedience) was that they realised what they had lost – their innocence – and they did not try to pretend they hadn’t (they did try to shift the blame but what’s new about that) – rather they hid. And God provided an alternative for what they had lost.
Disciples are strongest when weakest. Those who see their strengths taken away are often stronger for it.
Embrace loss and find God.
 The Message translation.
 Matthew 10:39 and 16:25
 Matthew 20:16
 Matthew 20:26
Friday 7 October
This passage is often referred to as the ‘Divine Exchange’. Give God the rubbish and he gives grace. The oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness.
Today simply take time out and hand over the rubbish and wait for the transformation.
But also recognise that the ministry of the disciples is also a divine exchange, we are to answer an act in the opposite coin. Being carriers of the oil of joy and the garment of praise etc to those who only experience or expect the negative sides of these exchanges.
Saturday 8 October
Tomorrow sees our Harvest Service at 11am. You are invited to bring pot plants to decorate the church which will be distributed to our older members who cannot attend and those in Nursing Homes. You may also bring gifts to be made into hampers for IMP or the local foodbank. Promiseland are also hoping to bring gifts – the children will have the details.
A Special Collection for the United Appeal for Mission will be taken at both services. Lowe’s Target is £14,000. Gift Aid envelopes are available at church.
Today is a day to relax and recollect the week’s reading, mull it over in your mind and spirit and let God speak to you from it. Or to catch up if the week has been as frantic as it often is.
You may want to ponder these questions as you reflect on the week’s reading:
- When did you last really worship?
- Have you really looked at Jesus recently and fallen on your knees before him?
- How can worship become your ‘default mode’?
- Do you live by the paradox at the heart of the gospel, or do you try to hold on to everything like grim death?
- What do you need to let go?
Get hold of some worship music and worship with your children. Worship music comes in ALL styles of music – find a style, songs you as family like and play the songs in the house, during car journeys, with breakfast … talk with your children about the words and what they mean.
Here are a few suggestions to start with:
Lowe Church Promiseland Playlist
Cheeky pandas for very young children
Nick and Becky Drake
You tube channel for Rend Co. Kids
Then join in and share the worship with them. Nobody’s watching so get on with it!
 I have always thought that that particular simile is really apt since holding on by Jesus’ definition results in loss and death
Sunday 9 October
11.00am Harvest Thanksgiving Service – Rev Dave Gray (Cooke Centenary)
Worship – the gift we can give!
7.00pm Evening service- Ossie McAuley
Knowing what you’ve lost or never had