This week's theme

God of all small things

Today's reading

Luke 18:15-17

Today's prayer

Lord, thank you for children. Help me to rediscover from them the qualities that are needed for your kingdom. May I always trust in you.

From Fresh From the Word 2015

For further thought

Learn the names of the children in your church and pray for them. If there are no children in your church, pray that God will send some soon.

When you next take Holy Communion, remember that people from east, west, north and south are welcome at the Lord’s feast.

Make a list today of all the signs of God’s kingdom at work in your community.

Can a diverse range of people find a home in your church? What more could you do to make all feel welcome?

Who are the young people in your church or fellowship? What more could you be doing to encourage them?

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Take a moment to give thanks for those who raised you in Christian faith either as a child or as an adult, and for those whose lives you have touched with your faith.

How do or might you live out the values of the kingdom, to which you belong, by your commitment to the world, to which you don’t?

Which questions are a potential stumbling block for your faith? Is your faith strengthened by the wrestling, or challenged by the lack of answers?

Whom do you find it especially hard to love? With whom do you never agree? Understanding is not always easy, but start by praying for them.

Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God’ (Matthew 5:9). How might you be a peacemaker, locally or globally?

How does it make you feel to know that Christ is glorified in you? How will you show that glory in your life this week?

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In the world we will have trouble and face persecution. But don’t worry! Jesus has overcome the world. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

By the resurrection and ascension power of Jesus, and the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives, let us powerfully share God’s word always.

Make your ‘joy be complete’ by committing yourself to help a needy person in your church or community this week. Challenge your peers to join you.

Is it right to question God about the death of a loved one? Is it truly possible to experience permanent joy after temporary grief?

The Christian’s life is not free from trials, troubles and challenges. While we are experiencing them, we are being rescued by Christ. Discuss, giving examples.

Read again verses19 and 20 and compare with Romans 8:38-39. What did you learn from the comparison? How can you live out what you have learned?

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Is there something God is wanting to say to you? What truth does the Spirit want to guide you into?

What do the words, ‘sin, righteousness and judgement’ mean to you? Can you love more without being aware of what hinders that love?

Is there anything in our own church culture that we think serves God, but isn’t really doing so? How can we be sure of what service God wants? How can we help those who are misguided?

How might people pick up the wrong idea about who Jesus is? Have you ever misunderstood his works or his words? How can you help people to know Jesus?

Have you ever been unjustly treated, and repaid evil for good? How do you feel about it now? How can you protect yourself while still loving that person?

Do you have a clear sense of what God wants you to say? What frightens you when you talk about God? How can you overcome this fear?

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Seek out opportunities to thank your closest friends for the trust and at-home-ness they give to you. Review your list of virtual friends and either take steps to make the friendship genuine or else weed out those who are included only to make up the numb

Who are the unacknowledged heroes in your community? How can you support them?

Set aside a day for personal retreat and use this prayer as your focus.

Do we sometimes limit our perception of the work of the kingdom to those activities that have the unhelpfully limited label, ‘full-time Christian work’?

Consider what ordinary, mundane encounters in your life today might in truth be unlikely but real steps along your own pilgrim way.

Practise approaching the Bible with an attitude of listening before attempting to analyse or interpret.

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Sometimes sitting and praying without words brings our thoughts and emotions in sync with God’s peace. Stop, and listen to God speak.

Do we need to see to believe? Faith means trusting God wholeheartedly. We do not see God, however we see the many works of God’s love.

Can you see the underlying love behind the instructions to obey? If not, what is clouding the love? It is awesome that someone truly cares!

Do you make promises you feel that you may not be able to keep? Promises made need to be realistic, simple, and – most important – kept.

Do you forget at times that we are just like our parents? Do you forget at times that children imitate what parents do?

Do you feel at times you are always ‘poking in the dark’? The answer is nearby. Faith in Christ will show you the way.

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Wisdom on full stops from comedian Gracie Allen: ‘Never place a period where God has placed a comma.’

Some church members refer to themselves as ‘followers of Jesus’. This implies confession of faith and adherence to Jesus’s teachings. Might such a claim also resonate with Jesus’ depiction of the sheep–shepherd relationship?

When unexpected good fortune finds us, do we perceive something at work beyond what we can explain?

Some say doubt is the opposite of faith, others say the opposite of faith is certainty. Which is closer to your understanding?

According to the principles of community organising, there is a clear preference for ‘power with’ rather than ‘power over’ to bring about change. How might that relate to this scene of Easter evening?

Read Mary Oliver’s poem ‘Mindful’ from Why I Wake Early – a fine poem that explores the art of seeing.

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When Perfect Love reigns, people who formerly lived in fear find themselves called out with linen and spices. Let us follow Joseph and Nicodemus and do likewise.

If you make one step towards God today, he will walk across the universe to meet you.

‘Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them’ (verse 17). How could knowing this truth about God change the way you do things?

They say, ‘Keep your enemies close,’ but can enemies be flipped? What can we learn about how God changes hearts that can mend relationships in our world?

In John’s Gospel ‘glory’ refers to the cross. Is this paradox true in your story? Can God be glorified in outcomes that feel like utter failure? I hope so!

Do you ever wonder what the people who walk past your church pray about? How might your faith community respond if God asked you to love your neighbours with actions and in truth (1 John 3:18)?

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What more can you discover about how the targets that make up the Millennium Goals have been met?

Take an opportunity to do something today that consciously responds to the needs of those you see around you.

See what you can discover about the Highly Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) and the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiatives (MDRI). You could start at www.one.org/international/issues/debt-cancellation

Notice today your use of water: for drinking, cooking, washing, cleaning and other sanitary needs. How much water do you think you use each day?

Try to find out who the biggest land-owners in your own neighbourhood are. How do they use the land they occupy?

Where are your sabbath places? When are your sabbath times?

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How can we identify with the global scope of the Millennium Development Goals? Scripture helps open the personal stories behind statistics quoted in millions.

Today take a moment to imagine Jesus calling you to him, before sending you out. What gifts does he see? What might he say?

Today investigate any of the charities that combat disease, such as The Leprosy Mission or Rotary International’s campaign to end polio. Can you help in some way?

Sit and hear the question the guide asked Ezekiel: ‘Son of man, do you see this?’ What does God want to make sure you see today?

What is your government doing about health care for the most vulnerable, who can’t afford the care Namaan can?

How has HIV/Aids affected your community, or not? How have you seen people of faith respond, or not? Join a discussion on our Facebook group today.

Start your week by joining in the conversation on our Facebook and Twitter.

Being ‘born again’ uses a feminine image for God. How might this image broaden our understanding of God’s concern for the health of infants and mothers?

What are the specific needs of little girls in your community, like the one Jesus took by the hand? How can your community nourish them?

Who are the untouchables in your community? *Lyrics by Bob Marley and Peter Tosh © Chrysalis One Music

What are the gravest dangers threatening the health of infants and pregnant women in your community?

Umuntu ungumuntu ngabantu is an African proverb that says that a person becomes a person because of people; or, more personally put, I am because we are.

We are all wonderfully made by God. How will you appreciate today that all your fellow human beings are so wonderfully yet so differently made?

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Work with others to gather an archive of the stories of women who have offered leadership and ministry in your faith community.

In your faith community are there some people who are never offered leadership roles or whose vocation is denied? Why? What might you do to encourage them?

Visit a local art/craft gallery or exhibition and consider what spirituality might be revealed.

Search out and meditate upon other biblical texts that use feminine imagery to describe the divine nature.

What do you know about migrant workers in your community? How might you engage in the practice of radical hospitality?

Are there barriers to female leadership in your church? In the community? What action could you take?

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International
community

The Fellowship of Professional Workers in India hosted a Christmas get-together for visually challenged children.

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This week's writer

Catherine Williams is an Anglican priest working as the National Adviser for Vocations for the Ministry Division of the Archbishops’ Council CofE

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About us

The International Bible Reading Association is part of Christian Education and serves the church in five continents to encourage regular Bible reading.

Introducing Charles Walters, bank manager and Sunday School teacher – not a scholar, preacher, or public speaker – who had a gift for organisation and a vision for making the Bible accessible to all.

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