Weekly-ish sermon recordings from the Whitehouse Church in Canberra. If you’re a fan of Greg Boyd, Bruxy Cavey and Brian Zahnd among others, you’ll definitely notice the influence (and occasionally shameless borrowing) of their great ideas.
The Whitehouse Church is mostly Neo-Anabaptist, post-evangelical leaning in worldview. We see Jesus as the full expression of what God is like and try to build community around his teachings.
If you have any questions or comments check out our website and send us a message!
The Parable of the Ten Minas is not what it seems. In our western culture we are accustomed to glorifying the rich noble and demonising the 'lazy servant'. But what if that isn't the point of this story at all?
Despite his fear, the third servant lays the offense of the master at his feet. “You take what you don’t deserve, and you reap a harvest from other people’s labour.” This servant is the true hero of the story. Jesus’ audience are not rooting for the despot or his minions, they are rooting for the servant who refused to be complicit with the corrupt economic system of the wealthy and powerful. This is not a parable that sanctifies capitalism or materialism, it is a parable that highlights the evil of exploiting people for economic gain.
Jesus' message was scandalous to the religious, treasonous to the empire, and utterly captivating to the poor, disenfranchised, forgotten, broken, and ignored.
The message of Jesus was, and is, beautiful. So beautiful that it’s guaranteed to threaten the status-quo and make all who believe a target for the world’s scorn.
Each year around this time we ask people to prayerfully consider their financial commitment to the Whitehouse Church. We are a pretty small community and we do our best to keep our overhead costs to a bare minimum, so our budget is very modest at about $5000 a month.
During the next couple weeks we are hoping you will fill out our online pledge form indicating how much you expect to give during the next year. It isn’t a contract and it doesn’t have your name on it. It is simply a way for us to make a responsible budget and plan for the future. Nobody likes a long guilt ridden offering speech every week and this annual pledge is our best attempt to avoid that.
You can find the pledge form here - http://www.whitehousechurch.com.au/pledge
If you are a part of the Whitehouse Church community we’d really appreciate your financial support. Even a small consistent gift can make a significant difference to our budget.
And finally, a huge thank you to those that contribute so generously of their lives, skills and finances into the Whitehouse church! Without your faithfulness we couldn’t keep hanging out and blessing people the way we are now.
Hey friends, I'm still having some audio issues when recording. So if you notice it is a bit choppy please accept my apology. I'm pretty sure I have figured out the problem now so hopefully it'll be all fixed for next week.
"To be connected to the vine is to be connected to one another. And we must do that with love and grace, forgiveness and compassion, and we must bear with one another as we work through the things that need to be pruned off. We have got to do it together. That’s part of the deal. Part of the deal of being connected to Jesus is that we are part of a family, and in that family, we deeply love and serve one another."
He came so that we who were poor might become rich. How does that happen? Most of you are familiar with the term guilt-by-association. That means if I hang around with someone who has committed a crime, I may be considered guilty as well because of my close relationship with them. Turn that concept around and you’ve got the gospel. It is grace-by-association. All the grace of God is available to me by virtue of my relationship with Jesus Christ. That is the Christmas gift we have received from God.
What does being a good neighbour look like to Jesus?
Washing feet, serving widows and orphans, standing in front of those who accuse and disarming them, befriending the isolated, touching the untouchable, dismantling structures that dehumanise people, promoting the welfare and societal value and equality of disenfranchised people groups including women and minorities, weeping with those who mourn, welcoming children, turning over the tables of injustice, making wrong things right and seeking forgiveness for his enemies even whilst they are nailing him to a cross.
Today we had our very own wonderful Chevelle Hibberd share with us.
"A faith community that doesn’t embrace doubt with understanding and trust in God’s wisdom isn’t interested in growth but in control. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is that we continue to extend grace and tenacious love to one another. This is the primary reason I decided to put my roots down with you. Because you have questioned deeply and doubted honestly. And yet you still trust."
Nicodemus was steeped in religious tradition that was generations old. His entire life was dedicated to honouring God’s rules but instead of bringing him freedom these rules had become a stumbling block to him. No amount of law keeping, scholarship, tithing, or tradition had allowed him to see the kingdom of God. And then this self-appointed Galilean Rabbi turned up and God was with him. All the confusion and doubts, all the unmet hopes and questions birthed out of his seeking were now being illuminated by this man who had clearly come from God.
When Jesus talks about little ones he isn’t just talking about children, he is talking about the people in our society who are little in the eyes of the world. Those who have little influence, little power, little money, little prospects, little opportunity, little honour, and few advocates.
Sometimes awful things happen, and they are simply that, awful. They aren't a test. The world we live in is broken and the consequence of generations of sin and selfish choices is that our existence is riddled with pain and suffering that grieves both us and God. That is why God is going to reconcile all things to himself in Christ. That is why the beatitudes say God will bless those who hunger, mourn and weep, precisely because there are things about this world that are not consistent with the will of God at this time.
When people attempt to sanctify their politics, businesses, and ambitions with the name of Jesus they violate his name far more deeply than simply cursing as a cultural reflex.
When Jesus teaches them to pray, “father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come”, he is also making a prophetic declaration!
The church is a community defined by love, not a creedal statement. It is not held together by a set of principles or dogged tolerance but rather by a deep experience of belonging. Accepting the invitation to be a member of God’s household means accepting an invitation to a shared life of redemptive love and a willingness to sacrifice for one another.
Saint Ignatius of Loyola was a 16th century priest who co-founded and led the religious order called the Society of Jesus, or simply the Jesuits. In 1548 St Ignatius wrote Spiritual Exercises, a simple set of meditations, prayers, and other practices. Perhaps the most well known of these exercises is the 'Daily Examen'.
This practice helps to build intimacy and trust in God. It helps us to slow down, remembering and reflecting on the events of our day. It brings us to a place of quiet contemplation, peace, and gratitude. It can help us to worry less, discern more, and grow in your relationship with God.
Be Still – Become aware of God’s presence.
Give thanks – Review the day with gratitude.
Reflect – Pay attention to your emotions.
Pray – Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.
Hope – Look toward tomorrow.
Even with all the evidence pointing to Jesus’ true identity, John was nervous. He was in prison, captive to a man who would ultimately have him executed. And in that dark place he is asking himself, “Is it possible that I am wrong? Is it possible that Jesus isn’t really the one who is to come? Have I given my life to proclaim a gospel that isn’t even true?”
Have you ever felt like that?
If you can’t identify any area of change or growth in your theology or practice during the last season of your life, I would politely suggest that what you have is not unyielding faith, but more likely hardheartedness. If we are being transformed by a renewing of our minds and if we are working out our salvation daily it will be reflected in changes to our character and thinking.
Jesus begins his parable by saying there was a man that planted a vineyard. This is a little bit like saying, “A woman named Karen went into a store.” Now, we know what’s going on here… you’re already picturing a certain type of woman and a certain type of behaviour before I have explained anything! And so it is with Jesus in this parable. His audience all knows that the vineyard is a picture of Israel.
Rather than saying ‘Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you,’ Jesus taught, ‘Do unto others as you want them to do unto you.’ In a world that generally says you can do whatever you want so long as it doesn’t hurt anyone, Jesus goes further by teaching his disciples to actively initiate actions that will benefit others. In this way Jesus’ teaching is unique.
One of the few small blessings of the season we are in right now is that the world has actually started to redefine greatness. Right now, people are not impressed with billionaires, tyrants, celebrities, and sports stars. In this time of global grief, we are looking to the doctors, nurses, researchers, supermarket workers, delivery drivers, and garbage collectors, and recognising them as great.
Today's podcast is a little different as it is a guided time of reflective meditation on Matthew 6:25-34. The format of the reflection is based on a monastic practice known as 'Lectio Divina'. It is not meant to be a study method, rather it is a contemplative practice of reflection and prayer to encourage meeting with the Lord. The goal is not to rigidly follow the steps, the goal is to meet with God. It is a practice that encourages us to slow down and carefully meditate on the word of God.
Today, CJ was our guest speaker! I'm positive you will be blessed by this challenging message just as we were.
"When God chose to become incarnate, it wasn't as Caesar, or Pharaoh, or someone who would lord it over others just like every other ruler. No, God came to earth as a brown-skinned child in the poorest and most disenfranchised corner of a small North African nation living under the oppressive rule of a European empire. This is the social location God chose to identify with. That is the community God chose to express his deepest solidarity with.
The church needs to follow Jesus' example and renounce every social hierarchy and every form of 'lording it over others'. For the glory of God to be seen, every valley must be raised up, and every mountain laid low."
You should also check out Dr Drew Hart's excellent book, 'Trouble I've Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism', that CJ quotes during this message.
Loving our neighbour means more than acknowledging the struggle of others. It means engaging in their struggle with compassion and without judgement. In John 8 we see how Jesus engaged in the struggle experienced by a woman who was being publicly accused by the Pharisees, and he used his privileged status to defend her. He engaged in the physical and social struggles of lepers and outcasts. And ultimately, Jesus engaged in our struggle against sin on the cross, remaining vigilant until he was victorious on our behalf.
We must stand against the corrupt systems and institutional powers that promise freedom but really only bring destruction. We must not shirk in the face of perverse authorities that want to maintain the status quo. And we must not be drawn into anger and violence, but rather we need to act out of grief and love for those who are oppressed, compassion for those who are complicit, and hope in the knowledge that our saviour Jesus is coming to bring justice and make all things right.
Jesus was not simply a theologian. He was an activist who fought against the systemic oppression within his Jewish culture that afflicted the underprivileged and the outsiders. He stood with the poor and the outcasts. He raised the status of women and children who were socially unseen, and he consistently refused to racially denigrate foreigners like the Samaritans and Romans. The good news of the kingdom of God was not simply a salvation message. It was a radical new social order where justice meant restoration, and nobody was treated as subhuman.
He wasn’t killed for his orthodoxy he was killed for his orthopraxy. He was killed because he was a threat to the institutional powers that did not want social transformation.
The proclamation of the gospel isn’t a soapbox on a corner shouting at people about the end of the world. The proclamation of the gospel is having lunch with prostitutes and tax collectors. It is throwing parties and inviting everyone off the street. It is the multiplication of food and the sharing of resources. It is a communal life of generosity, compassion, kindness, and sacrifice. It is humble sharing and repentance. It is listening, and it is a testimony of good news.
In this message Geoff discusses how even though the majority of us do not have any significant connection to Aboriginal peoples we can at least acknowledge the shocking truth of our history as a starting point. And then we need to agree to seek Reconciliation and friendship rather than simply blaming Aboriginal people or covering our eyes, ears and hearts to the injustices that have been done and are still ongoing.
"I hope that history will show that we, as Australians and as Christians, responded to the challenges of climate change, displaced people, wealth inequality, the Covid-19 pandemic, and racial injustice with wisdom, humility, repentance, compassion, love, and sincerity. I hope that we will one day look back upon 2020 as the beginning of something beautiful and not simply a time of deepening despair."
To a world that was in upheaval, in a time of wars and rumours of wars, in a period of deep uncertainty and political jostling when people were desperately seeking a saviour they looked to a dishevelled man wearing clothes made of camel hair, who lived in the wilderness eating locusts and honey. And he said to them: “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire."
The word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness and it was a word of hope. There is one coming who will make things right.
My experience as a child and as an adult has been blessed because I have always known that my mum loves me. To believe otherwise has never even occurred to me. She has always loved me, and there is nothing that I could do that would stop her from loving me. She bore me in her womb and fed me at her breast. She carried me in her arms, and in her heart and prayers. She has bled, cried, and sacrificed for me in ways I cannot even fathom.
And now as a husband and father I can see this mother-child relationship with different eyes as I look to how my wife loves our kids. How she bore them in her womb and fed them at her breast. How she has carried them in her arms, and in her heart and prayers. How she bleeds, cries, and sacrifices for them in ways I cannot even fathom. The mothers in my life are beautiful examples of the love, grace, mercy, compassion, strength, wisdom, and kindness of God. This is why we can learn so much from seeing God as a mother.
If your church experience has been more charismatic or Pentecostal, you have likely felt the presence of God through communal worship. I know for myself that singing praises as a community has been a central part of my connection with God since forever. Which is awesome… except for when we are not allowed to gather together.
Once all the performance and props are taken away how do we personally connect with God?
During this storm we can bring hope to our communities by offering kindness, peace and love. We need to become experts in the simple acts of generosity, compassion, and empathy. We need to be available to listen to the needs of our neighbours. And we can be gentle with our children, partners, housemates, and with ourselves. We need to be kind to ourselves.
Now, probably more than ever we need to be good listeners. We are not in a position to comfort one another with a hug over a video chat, but we can offer an ear in this time of uncertainty. Getting better at listening is a great way to love the people around you.
Jesus was willing to feed people and heal people on the Sabbath because he was driven by Godly principles that released life and he was not bound by the rules that wouldn’t facilitate this. But the Pharisees had it all back to front. They would rather get to temple on time than stoop to help a man bleeding in the gutter. They happily tithed on their herb garden but neglected justice and mercy. They followed the rules but violated the principles of the kingdom of God.
“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
If there is any confusion about whose opinion, tradition or practice is most valid it should be clear here that Jesus supersedes everything that came before him. “Listen to him!” The law and prophets testified about Jesus, but the disciples must take their lessons directly from Jesus.
Jesus wouldn’t be tricked into a kingdom without a king, or a kingdom built on the blood of his enemies, or a kingdom of subservient robots. As you journey towards Easter consider setting aside luxuries and time to remember how Christ resisted the accuser and his good ideas. How he chose to take upon the foolishness, scorn and shame of the cross to show God’s mercy and forgiveness and to establish a new kingdom. A kingdom that will feed everyone, liberate everyone and fill everyone with faith.
Against the backdrop of God’s love your sin is inconsequential.
That doesn’t mean we should sin more; it means that we work out our salvation daily in the context of loving relationships and not shame. It means that we are stewards of God’s grace. We have gifts from a loving God to share with one another. And it means that we do it together. In this kingdom we are heirs together, we are never alone.
There are so many ‘us and them’ narratives in our culture at the moment. Politically, socially, economically, sexually, educationally, nationally, racially, demographically... Inside our fallen nature is a desperate need to belong and feel safe and we so easily get deceived into believing the best way to belong and feel safe is to exclude or alienate someone else. This woman is guilty. And the Pharisees are guilty. And Jesus offers them both grace. However right and righteous we feel we should never take the place of the accuser. And I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but I’m very sure it doesn’t involve a bag of rocks. To the ‘leftist liberal tree hugging Marxist delusional rainbow warriors’ and the ‘right-wing coal loving delusional gun toting climate change denying nutters’. It doesn’t matter where you are standing in the courtyard – We all need the grace of Jesus to walk away from our hypocrisy and life of sin.
When we celebrate together we say, ‘your victory is my joy’, and in times of trouble we say, ‘your concern is my burden, and together we will get through this.’
Marriage is a commitment like this. For better and for worse, for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health. In a family we are born into this commitment. And in Christ’s body, we lay down our lives for the purpose of the King and his kingdom.
The Good Samaritan, and the sheep and the goats, are stories about kindness. Kindness isn’t just a fruit of the Spirit; it is fundamental to the work of the gospel and the Great Commission. Kindness is good doctrine. Kindness is a beautiful foretaste of God’s kingdom.
The growth of the early church was not due to famous people, it was because normal people were radically altered by their relationship with Jesus in a way that made them prepared to love, and sacrifice for others. It wasn’t just the way the church reacted to persecution that made them unusual, it was the consistent loving actions of Christians for hundreds of years that truly changed the world.
What a twist, the king invites everyone to the party! Good and bad! This is definitely not how a royal wedding reception works. Here is the punchline – God desires that all people would respond to his invitation into the kingdom of heaven. This is what our gatherings should reflect. We should invite all those that have bounced off the church and those that aren’t normally invited. We should open up the banquet for the people least like us, good and bad. Not just the poor but those who we simply don’t normally connect with. We should be a place where people can come and find room at the table.
“Listening is an act of intimacy and when you choose to listen to someone you are giving them a gift.” Also make sure you check out this video from Brené Brown as an introduction to this message: The Biggest Myth About Vulnerability
The Son of Man was tempted to serve the beast just like every other human before him, but he resisted. The Son of Man came among us and built a new kingdom that was not corrupt or violent. And in his kingdom the beast is expelled. Sickness, disease, poverty, violence… none of these things exist in the Son of Man’s kingdom. The beast is defeated and thrown into the fire and the Son of Man is given authority, glory and sovereign power.
“Jesus is the very incarnation of God. He is the exact representation of God’s being. Jesus shows us exactly what God is like. And in this moment of shared grief as Jesus wept with his friends Mary and Martha, we can know with certainty that God also wept.”
The life of Christ writes in small letters what God has, since the beginning, been writing in grand letters too vast for us to comprehend. Jesus is the supreme example to all mankind of what God has always been like and what God has always been doing. He summarized in one short lifetime what God has been doing throughout all of history.
Jesus always treated people like they were human beings not issues. Jesus never looked at people and saw them as ‘the adulterer’, ‘the thief’ or ‘the greedy man’. Jesus saw people and had compassion on them.
Luke 22: 60-62 ‘My good fellow,’ said Peter, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about.’ And at once, while he was still speaking, the cock crowed. The master turned and looked at Peter, and Peter called to mind the words the master had spoken to him: ‘Before the cock crows, this very day, you will deny me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’
And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’” (Matthew 25:44-45).
This message is about the wilderness between the present time and the kingdom that is coming.
The message concludes with a reading of the benediction written by Nadia Boltz-Webber for Rachel Held Evans’ funeral. Here are the words of the benediction.
Blessed are the agnostics. Blessed are they who doubt. Blessed are those who have nothing to offer. Blessed are the preschoolers who cut in line at communion. Blessed are the poor in spirit. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
Blessed are those whom no one else notices. The kids who sit alone at middle-school lunch tables. The laundry guys at the hospital. The sex workers and the night-shift street sweepers. The closeted. The teens who have to figure out ways to hide the new cuts on their arms. Blessed are the meek. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
Blessed are they who have loved enough to know what loss feels like. Blessed are the mothers of the miscarried. Blessed are they who can’t fall apart because they have to keep it together for everyone else. Blessed are those who “still aren’t over it yet.” Blessed are those who mourn. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
I imagine Jesus standing here blessing us because that is our Lord’s nature. This Jesus cried at his friend’s tomb, turned the other cheek, and forgave those who hung him on a cross. He was God’s Beatitude— God’s blessing to the weak in a world that admires only the strong.
Jesus invites us into a story bigger than ourselves and our imaginations, yet we all get to tell that story with the scandalous particularity of this moment and this place. We are storytelling creatures because we are fashioned in the image of a storytelling God. May we never neglect that gift. May we never lose our love for telling the story. Amen
Blessed are the asylum seekers, for they will find a home.
Blessed are the elderly, for they will be loved and valued.
Blessed are the powerless, for their voices will be heard.
Blessed are those who cherish all people, for they show God's heart.
You have heard that you are the masters of the earth, but I tell you that you are the servants of the earth.
You have heard that you should accumulate wealth, but I tell you to share your belongings.
You have heard that you must ‘be’ a certain way to be loved by God but I tell you that you are loved.
Luke 18:18-25 - A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honour your father and mother.’”
“All these I have kept since I was a boy,” he said.
When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was very wealthy. Jesus looked at him and said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
Once a year we talk about money. And this is it! We also have an anonymous annual pledge so we can make a budget for the next year. If you’d like to be a part of that you can find the pledge form here - www.whitehousechurch.com.au/pledge
John 13:1-17 - It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
2 The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 3 Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 4 so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 5 After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
7 Jesus replied, “You do not realise now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8 “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
9 “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10 Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not everyone was clean.
12 When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13 “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14 Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15 I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. 16 Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.
Matthew 5:43 ‘You heard that it was said, “Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” 44 But I tell you: love your enemies! Pray for people who persecute you! 45a That way, you’ll be children of your father in heaven!
Luke 15:11-32 “Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them. “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything. “When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired servants.’ So he got up and went to his father. “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. “The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ “But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate. “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’ “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’ “ ‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ ””
2 Corinthians 5:16-21 - So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Luke 1:26-38 - Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”
29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was. 30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. 33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”
34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”
35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”
38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
James 1:2-4 - Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
1 Kings 19:11-13 - The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Matthew 11:28-30 - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Luke 9:23-24 - Then he said to them all: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.
1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars
we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs,
our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”
4 How can we sing the songs of the Lord
while in a foreign land?
5 If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand forget its skill.
6 May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth
if I do not remember you,
if I do not consider Jerusalem
my highest joy.
7 Remember, Lord, what the Edomites did
on the day Jerusalem fell.
“Tear it down,” they cried,
“tear it down to its foundations!”
8 Daughter Babylon, doomed to destruction,
happy is the one who repays you
according to what you have done to us.
9 Happy is the one who seizes your infants
and dashes them against the rocks.
“And they were already about to cast from the ship the hawsers to the shore, had not Thracian Orpheus, son of Oeagrus, stringing in his hands his Bistonian lyre, rung forth the hasty snatch of a rippling melody so that their ears might be filled with the sound of his twanging; and the lyre overcame the maidens’ voice.”
Philippians 3:7-8 - But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ…
1 Corinthians 1:4 “I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that has been given you in Christ Jesus…”
1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 “We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labour of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2 Thessalonians 1:3 “We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters, as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing…”
Colossians 3:15 “And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful…”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
“One of the toughest lessons a Christian can learn is how to trust and praise God in the uncertain time between a promise and its fulfilment. I believe it is a powerful act of spiritual warfare to stand in the middle of death and disease, conflict and unresolved issues, and to cause your spirit to rise and give thanks to God.”
Luke 10:38-42 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Ephesians 2:19-22 - Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Romans 12:1 - Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.