Tag Archives: Christian inspirational

Loving God of Aotearoa

A Thought for Today

Loving God of Aotearoa

Loving God of Aotearoa,
hear now our call to you,
We have gathered in your presence,
to celebrate anew!
We have come from many places,
speaking, thinking differently,
But in you we are united,
one whole, strong family.

Let us heed your call to service
and follow lovingly,
May we be compassionate people,
alive in you and free.

Scripture tells of faithful people,
who spread your light and love.
Now inspire, lead, direct us,
so we can be like them.
May the Way that Christ has taught us,
and the power of your Word,
Set a fire burning in us,
for justice and for love.

Rimu tall, with tui singing,
proclaim your majesty,
You who care for all creation,
will always care for me.
Matariki’s spirit guide us,
rise within us all the year.
Help us live and speak forgiveness,
your people want to hear.

* * * * *

About this hymn

Rev Desmond Cooper, our minister at the time, was president elect of the Methodist Church in 2010 and wanted a song for the Induction service at Conference. He mentioned that he liked Holst’s tune Thaxted (I vow to thee my country) but would prefer alternative words that were less nationalistic.

Loving God of Aotearoa is the result. I consulted Desmond and vice president elect Susanne Spindler as the lyrics were being written and they smoothed off a few rough corners. The hymn is dedicated to Desmond and was sung at the Methodist Conference in Palmerston North in 2010.

This poem is found in my collection of, music, prayers and poems: Kindle a Flame
which you can download as a free 30 page PDF eBook when you sign up for our email newsletters.

Click to sign up and get your free PDF: http://eepurl.com/cSKIF5

Understanding what it means to be saved

A Thought for Today

“The reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans urges us to share publicly our belief that Jesus is Lord, that God raised him from the dead and that if we do so we will be saved.

If we don’t make this profession of faith with our lips, will we still be saved?
What does it mean to be saved?

We have no way of knowing for sure in this life, what will happen when we die. Perhaps if we lead good, faithful lives we will have eternal life? Perhaps Jesus dying on the cross made this possible? Maybe.

What I do know is that we all have a choice. Either we can turn towards God, to strive to understand the messages of scripture, and to respond to God’s love for us by reflecting that in our treatment of and relationships with others.

Or we can turn away from God and go our own way and follow the way of the world.

In saying all this, I don’t stand before you as someone who is perfect. A few months ago, a young man attended worship here. He didn’t have a permanent place to live. He asked me if he could stay at my house and I said no. I’m not proud of that. But my answer would probably be the same today…

The example of Jesus’ life, and the mystery of his resurrection, are a compass, pointing our way to a safe passage through this life, saving us from the temptations of the world. This feels to me like one useful way of understanding what it means to be saved.

* * * * *

From the sermon – Lent, Season of Love – 17 February 2013
in Let Your Light Shine Through by Philip C. Garside.

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Accepting the Challenge

A Thought for Today

“…What extra meaning might we take from this story today?

Christmas Day is nearly upon us. Just two more sleeps as we tell the young children. As children we loved Christmas because we knew we were going to get special presents and eat special food.

And, because we loved the nativity stories about baby Jesus in the manger and the shepherds and the kings and the angels. And maybe we got to be in the Christmas play and learned beautiful carols for the first time.

With this childish wonder and delight we began our faith journey, a life-long journey. We have had good companions along the way to share with and challenge us and support us, as we grow to new and deeper understandings of the good news of God’s love for us.

It is easy to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle Christmas shopping, and end of year parties, and worrying about whether family members who don’t meet during the rest of the year are going to get along this time round… or what have you.

We know another story, of a brave young woman who accepted the challenge of being the bearer of a child who would become the symbol of God’s love for the world.”

* * * * *

From the sermon – Journey in faith – 23 December 2012
in Let Your Light Shine Through by Philip C. Garside.

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A New Hope

A Thought for Today

“This is the second Sunday of Advent. Advent is the church’s New Year.

As Christians we get a few week’s jump on the rest of our community. We can make our New Year’s resolutions now, have time to break them before Christmas and get a second chance to set some more on the first of January. Well maybe…

Last Saturday Festival Singers presented a Christmas concert at St Ninians’, in Karori. We called it From Shadow to Light. We went on a musical journey from Purcell’s 400 year old sombre funeral music for Queen Mary, through to contemporary English composer John Rutter’s Gloria. The Rutter piece is joyous and jolly hard to sing.

We arranged the programme for the concert that way to acknowledge that while Christmas is a happy celebration, it also brings sad memories of loved ones who have passed away and can no longer share it with us.

It’s good to take a little time in Advent to pause and reflect.

The world has troubles. We all have our own troubles and concerns.

Then God’s love breaks through.

The birth of baby Jesus is a symbol of God’s love for us.

We have much to celebrate and to be hopeful about. Amen.”

* * * * *

From the sermon – A New Hope – 4 December 2012
in Let Your Light Shine Through by Philip C. Garside.

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Controlled by Love

A Thought for Today

“…The group learned to prepare and lead prayers and then other parts of worship services.

Some of us moved on to try preaching. It is both uncomfortable and exhilarating to preach five sermons in a year and have them critiqued by your peers, to qualify as a lay preacher. Thank you to the members of this congregation for putting up with my first attempts and encouraging me since.

Today, I’m very comfortable choosing music and prayers and putting the rest of a service together, but writing the sermon is always a challenge. I start with some initial personal responses to the Bible readings and have an overall structure in mind. But once I start writing I don’t know exactly what will come out. I’m not in total control. I must let go and let my words be directed the spirit, by intuition, by the mystery and love that flows from God…

Life isn’t like a model railway. I can’t control all of it. Sure, I need to take my duties and responsibilities to my family, business partners, customers and suppliers, church, choir and clubs seriously, but at some point, I must let go control. And that is a relief. I don’t have to do it all. I can let other people give a lead. I can leave room for the spirit to guide me in a new direction.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life.” “Those who come to me will never be hungry; those who believe in me will never be thirsty.”

Let’s make room in our lives for the mystery of the love of God as shown through Jesus’ example and enabled through the Holy Spirit.

Let’s re-orient our lives to accept the love of God. We don’t need to be in charge all the time. We can be controlled by love.


* * * * *

From the sermon – Controlled by Love – 12 August 2012
in Let Your Light Shine Through by Philip C. Garside.

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Love is the point

A Thought for Today

“Do we understand the mechanism by which Jesus healed people? I don’t. Medical science lets doctors remove a cataract and enable people to regain clear eyesight. That makes sense. All people in the gospel reading needed to do was touch Jesus’ cloak, once. How could that logically work? Did these miracles really happen? That’s not the point.

Love is the point. Being involved with others in need is the point…

There is another link to Festival Singers in the song that I’ll play for you before the offering. Rosemary Russell, the composer is the choir’s director. As well as a knack for words and melody, she has a strong faith that shines through all her compositions, and they are all uplifting. Her song is about the choices we make in living our lives and responding to need.

It’s how we live that matters.
It’s who we live for that matters.

God is love, God gives love,
God shows love, we are God’s love.


* * * * *

From the sermon – Love in Action – 22 July 2012
in Let Your Light Shine Through by Philip C. Garside.

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Where there is need, love must respond

A Thought for Today

“The disciples were a mixed bunch.

The people in the crowd were also a mixed bunch. The film shows children, mothers, fathers, old people, sick people, invalids, many, many ordinary people. I think the film maker has got this just right. Jesus involved himself with ordinary folk like us.

I like the way Jesus is depicted as a calm, still point on the middle of the hillside. Then come the disciples, forming a protective ring around Jesus. On the outer are the crowd, some pressing in to get close to Jesus, others hanging back a little, waiting to see what will happen. The disciples sensibly suggest to Jesus that he tell the crowd to disperse and go home to prepare and eat their evening meal.

Jesus will have none of it. Here are people in need. They are hungry. You disciples feed them.
We could look for deep, hidden theological meanings and nuances in today’s readings, and on another day, I might try to do so.

This time I’m happy to focus on the story as it appears on the surface. Jesus set the disciples an example then and we need to carry it in our hearts today.

Where there is need, love must respond.

* * * * *

From the sermon – Love in Action – 22 July 2012
in Let Your Light Shine Through by Philip C. Garside.

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On a Clear Night

A Thought for Today

“How can we make sense of the stories about the resurrection in the gospels? Did Jesus really appear to the two travellers on the road to Emmaus, to the disciples in a closed room or in the dawn next to the Sea of Galilee?

Our minds and senses today are full and cluttered with television, radio, multi-media, noise, music, business. All these sensations blot out the natural and maybe supernatural world.

On a clear night, in the city, we get a good view of the stars, planets, the Milky Way galaxy, but go out into the countryside where there is no artificial light and then look up at the sky. It is stunning. That view makes me feel small and insignificant.

People in first century must have been more aware of and in touch with nature and with the wonders of God’s creation.

I mentioned that I often feel that my Grandad and Mum are present with me. I can’t see them with my eyes or touch them with my hands, but they are here in my heart.

I imagine therefore that in a less cluttered, noisy age, Jesus’ friends and followers would have had an even stronger sense of his presence with them, after his sudden and shocking death. The resurrection appearance stories might reflect this understanding.

* * * * *

From the sermon – Keeping Jesus Alive in Our Hearts – 11 March 2012
in Let Your Light Shine Through by Philip C. Garside.

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Responding to the Wilderness

Thought for the day:

How might we here today respond to the wilderness – the wild, isolated parts of God’s Creation. It isn’t realistic for us to spend 40 days going bush. So, are there other ways we can experience something of the spirituality of nature?

When I met Heather more than 30 years ago, she was a keen sailor. We have recently brought her Zephyr sailing dinghy up from Christchurch and repaired and restored it. She has joined Worser Bay sailing club.

As an observer, it seems to me that harnessing the wind to cut through the waves is an example of being in harmony with nature, of being in balance with the wilderness. Heather named her boat Spirit Wind.

[Show video. See link on the Sermons Resources page on our website]

* * * * *

Perhaps we non-sailors could make time soon to just sit quietly outdoors somewhere for an hour with no other distractions. Walk along the beach or sit in the car and just look at the sea. Spend time sitting in your garden, or just looking out your window at the view. Turn off the radio or TV for an hour. Put down the paper or your book.

Take time out.

You will probably find that the usual concerns and busyness of daily life crowd your thoughts at first. That’s OK. Acknowledge them and put them mentally to one side. Remember today’s Bible readings, the music from Messiah, the images you have seen. Allow the view and the sounds of nature to seep through.

Remember we are all part of the goodness of God’s Kingdom
and beautiful Creation here on earth.


From the sermon – Responding to the Wilderness – 18 September 2011
in Let Your Light Shine Through by Philip C. Garside.

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Living with Real Hope

Thought for the day:

“…What is the nature of hope?

Let’s contrast it with hopelessness. If we have no hope, what do we do? Nothing. We give up. We take no action. Ah, what’s the point?

So, to take the opposite hopeful position, means that we are compelled to act, to help in whatever way is realistic and meaningful for us. John Wesley lived a frenetic life, helping and getting involved wherever he felt he could do good.

Perhaps, we of more mature years, are past the stage of youthful protest and activism, and can be more effective in other ways.

Within the Methodist Church, the Public Questions Network is being revived. One of the topics it is focusing on is sustainability. Can we become involved with and support its consciousness raising work on social issues and justice?

* * * * *

What else can we do…?

The world is a challenging place and the future appears uncertain.

We have a choice about how we respond – with despair or with hope. Not a fool’s hope, not a trivial hope – “I hope the All Blacks win the Rugby World Cup.”

No, a real hope, underpinned by the grace of a loving God who welcomes us,
and invites us to be part of the work of the kingdom here on earth.


* * * * *

From the sermon – Living with Real Hope – 17 July 2011,
in Let Your Light Shine Through by Philip C. Garside.

Click to order eBooks: https://payhip.com/b/FJSL