Category Archives: Wise Words

A Christmas Message From Salim Munayer

The Role of a Ruler: Augustus vs. Jesus

When Jesus was born, Augustus was the founder and ruler of the Roman Empire. He was a privileged elite who rose to power as a result of his connections and military and diplomatic successes. Under Augustus, the Roman Empire expanded greatly. He spread Roman ideas and culture throughout the Empire, and built many beautiful things. At the same time, he kept the peace by the sword and power for the elite through a high taxation system. Like most leaders, Augustus Caesar was interested in maintaining and expanding his own power and privileges, as well as those of his close supporters. In order to unite his empire with its diversity, he exalted himself as the “son of god” and started the imperial cult.It was into this context that Jesus came into our world. Prior to Jesus’ birth, Augustus decreed a census requiring all of his subjects to register, define themselves and their identity, so he could better tax and maintain control of those he ruled. The shuffling that resulted as people reported to their home towns is what we see with Mary and Joseph in their trip to Bethlehem.In Jesus’ birth, we see the announcement ushering in the kingdom of God. When the angel appeared to Mary in Luke 1, he announced to her that she would give birth to a son, and he would be called “the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end” (Luke 1:32-33). This title, “Son of the Most High,” and the proclamation that he would have a throne and a never-ending kingdom was in stark contrast to Augustus and the Roman Empire. Augustus’ name means “on the increase,” so the angel’s proclamation to Mary is that essentially, Jesus is replacing Augustus! This was a treasonous message, one that undermined Augustus’ rule and role!

Jesus’ rule and role became more clear as he began his ministry. He began by going into the synagogues as he did in Luke 4. He read from Isaiah 40, announcing his vocation, articulating his purpose. He saw his kingdom and his role to proclaim good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners, recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor (Luke 4:8-9).

This kingdom, and this ‘decree’ was remarkably different from those issued by Caesar. Instead of collecting power, control and privilege for an elite few, Jesus sought to rule differently. He sought to elevate those without status and privilege, releasing people from bondage. Jesus’ vision embraced the marginalized, restored relationship, and breathed life into brokenness. While Augustus Caesar asked others to sacrifice themselves for him and his empire, Jesus came and sacrificed himself for us.

Jesus’ kingdom of God message and vision are relevant for us today. Our situation is different from 2000 years ago, but we still see rulers and leaders governing in self-interested ways, for the expansion of wealth and power. We see governments issuing decrees to define their identity in a way that would exclude others. We see how the Islamic State has defined itself so exclusively that others bow to their definition or flee. We see other countries express what it is that makes their state’s identity, allowing some in, and pushing others out. While self-serving rulers seek to benefit themselves and the privileged, Jesus calls us not to serve ourselves, but to serve others.

Jesus’ message to us today calls us to look at our contemporary situation differently. While the ruling powers may be strong and seek to bend us to their vision, Jesus beckons us to his. As we reflect on Jesus’ birth this holiday season, may we remember Jesus’ call to us, and his kingdom’s purpose. Let us join him in proclaiming the Lord’s favor of good news for the poor, freedom for the prisoners, healing for the blind, and freedom for the oppressed. Let us seek not what we can get from others, but what we can give.

~ by Salim J. Munayer PhD

Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus

In joyful expectation
of his coming we pray to Jesus
Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus

Come to the world as King to the nations
Break into our lives
Where we wage war against the Empires
and Kingdoms of this world
Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus

Come into our suffering as Savior and Comforter
Break into our lives
Where we languish in sickness and sorrow
Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus

Come to our conflict as Prince of Peace
Break into our lives
Where we sorrow with quarrel and strife
Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus

Come to our families, as Heavenly Father
and Holy Brother
Break into our lives
Where we wrestle with relationships, broken and ragged
Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus

We are a people waiting in darkness
Lord, let there be light!
We are a people waiting in the shadow of death
Lord, let there be light!

We are a people waiting,
Lord, let there be light!

Lord, bring in your Kingdom with justice and mercy
Bind up the broken hearted
Restore the sick
And raise up all who have fallen
that the light of God’s coming
may break forth upon us
Maranatha: Come Lord Jesus
Let there be light

Prayer from our Sunday Morning Gathering

As we come today, I am aware, as are all of you who listen to the daily news that many terrible things happen in this beautiful world we live in. While we are enjoying autumn leaves and colours, our brothers and sisters on this planet suffer. I am thankful that we have a God who cares for all of His creation and it is to this God that we come.

Amazingly loving God,

We thank you for your great love for us. We see it in our daily lives and your provision for us in families and relationships, in beauty of your creation and most of all for the great love you showed us in sending Jesus to live among us on this earth. Thank you, Jesus, for your love which took you to your death that we might all know your forgiveness and live in true freedom in our lives.

Caring God,

We want to bring to you those who have suffered from erupting volcanoes in the last few days. We think of those in the Phillipines who experienced again a magnitude 5.7 earthquake jolting the centre of their country on Friday. We also bring to you those in Japan who were caught by surprise on last Saturday whilst hiking and enjoying the beauty of Mount Ontake. We pray for the families of the bereaved, for the rescue workers and for all those living around the volcano whose lives have been severely disrupted. May your care be shown in these disasters.

Crying God,

We join our voices with those from around the globe, crying out for the plight of the persecute minorities in Iraq.   We join our hearts with those displaced from their homes yet again, crying out for the fear, the terror and the madness to end. We join our hope with those who wait for rescue on the Shangal Mountains, crying out for food, water and for the Kingdom of heaven to break into this hell. We join our faith with the faith of all who pray, Crying out for the slaughter of the innocence to end. We join our tears with yours, Crying out for all to know and live by the things that make for peace. So help us God

Compassionate God,

We bring before the outbreak of ebola in Sierra Leone and West Africa. We pray for the health workers on the frontline there. Give them wisdom, and compassion and protection as they live in all the sorrow around them. We pray that Your wisdom will provoke us to find new ways to care for victims of ebola. Have mercy on them and on us Lord we pray.

God of the Universe,

Our own needs seem feeble compared with these issues in the world but we praise you that you do not see things that way. We thank you again that you care for each of us and the problems and joys we daily face. Let’s take just a moment to bring to God those in our circles who are on our hearts.

We also bring Dave and Esther to you in Honduras. We pray too for Jason Durst in Guelph

God who deserves all our praise accept our prayers in jesus name


fall back this Sunday, Nov. 3rd

It’s FALL BACK time this Sunday, November 3rd so feel free to sleep in!!! If you show up an hour early for our Sunday morning gathering, you might end up playing/singing with the music team. Which isn’t really bad given that we are, in fact, looking for more folks to be part of the music squad.

What are we to expect this Sunday?  Well, we will be hearing from David, Lesley, and Tim about how the Trinity makes a difference in our relationships as workmates.

May the strong love of the Father surround you
May Jesus the Son be close to your heart
May the Spirit always be upon you pouring
May the Three in One go with you. Amen.

wise words from Jean Vanier

A community is there not only for the growth of its members, but for the growth of the people for whom it is destined. When we know these people, and our responsibility towards them, then we are able to go beyond ourselves.

A community gradually discovers as it grows that it is not there simply for itself. It belongs to humanity. It has received a gift which must bear fruit for the sake of others.

When it begins, a community is like a seed which must grow to become a tree. As it matures, and becomes a tree that bears fruit, it also must be a place where birds of the air can come to make their nests.

– Jean Vanier

think // fast!

Dear folks,

There are several exciting things coming up in our Next community such as Thomas Peters speaking on 1 Peter 2:4-12 at our morning gathering this sunday, a summer foods potluck (aka nextluck) after THE SERVICE, a tuesday breakfast after prayer time at 7am (aka prayerogies) and more.

There is ONE VERY IMPORTANT THING, however, that needs highlighting and here goes it:

think // fast!

The nextChurch Board, along with the Teen Girl Squad (TGS, also known as the Pastoral Leadership Task Force) is asking Nexters to participate in a day of prayer and fasting as we consider the future of leadership at Next.


As a community gathered by God, we desire to seek God’s direction in our decisions regarding future leadership. The early church set an example for us in the Bible to pray and fast before decision-making and commissioning leaders, so we will do likewise.

Our vision is to see what God is doing, and join in however we can.


Monday, June 17th will be our day of communal prayer and fasting. Please join with the community together in prayer and fasting using the prayer guide and fasting guidelines provided. Monday night (time to be determined) there’ll be an option to gather with other Nexters at 89 Colborne to pray and listen to God together.

what to pray about?

There’s a lot of topics to cover in prayer! Mostly we want to listen to hear what God wants us to do regarding leadership at Next.  As you probably know, The Teen Girl Squad has been praying and considering implimenting an elders based spiritual leadership model, following the New Testament model of leadership in the early church. We’re also in the process of trying to figure out if and when we can hire a paid pastor, and what that will look like for us at this time. Another big issue is finances – we’re currently behind on our budgeted giving for the year, leaving us short on the money we had hoped to put aside to be able to hire a pastor. We’ll be talking more about our plans and process on Sunday, so you’ll know where we’re at with all that stuff, up to the moment.

So pray for wisdom and discernment, pray for folks currently in leadership, pray for the Board and the TGS in the planning process. Please pray that we will grow together as a community, in knowledge and grace, that we will grow mature in faith and our church community will grow in numbers as we live out our calling to make an impact in the lives of others. Pray that God will continue to show us clearly how to move forward as a community, and how to join in as best we can with what God is doing.

We’ve included some verses below for you to pray through as you consider these things:

Matthew 9:38

Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out labourers into the harvest field.

Ephesians 3:16-21

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Colossians 1:9-14

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

what’s Next?

As we prayerfully move together through this process, we are planning to begin implementing the eldership plan and posting the job application for the potential pastor hire in the next few weeks. If you have any concerns or questions about this or anything arises from your time of prayer and fasting that you’d be willing to share with us, please contact the Teen Girl Squad (Lesley & Brendan Lorimer, Steve Schmidt-Stutzman, or Josh Lyon) at If you’d like a copy of the presentation regarding eldership from the community meeting, please contact Scarlete at We feel very strongly that we all need to move forward together in prayerful unity regarding in this plan for leadership at Next, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch before we officially launch the elder model, or post the pastor position, if there’s any part of it you want to discuss.

Have a great weekend!

season of Lent: week 1

Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment. Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image, through Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Amen.

first Sunday in Lent (February 17)

Matthew 21.12-17
Weekly Psalm of Lament: Psalm 32

Monday Gen 17.1-14
Tuesday Gen 22.1-19
Wednesday Gen 50.15-21
Thursday Exod 3.1-12
Friday Exod 15.1-18
Saturday Exod 20.1-21

the season of Lent

Lent originated in the early centuries of church history as a time of preparation for Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday and lasts until Holy Saturday, the Saturday before Easter. The last week of Lent is called Holy Week, which includes both Maundy Thursday (commemorating the institution of the Lord’s Supper) and Good Friday (commemorating the crucifixion of our Lord). Reminiscent of Israel’s forty years in the wilderness and Jesus’ forty days of fasting in the wilderness, the Lenten season, not counting Sundays, lasts forty days. Sundays are not included because the Lord’s Day, according to church tradition, is never a fast day but always a feast day, a celebration of the resurrection.

Lent is traditionally observed by fasting, penitence, almsgiving, self-denial, and, above all, prayer. While commending these practices, we heed the prophets in remembering that it is our hearts and lives that God seeks. We humble ourselves
before God, confessing our sin and total inadequacy, stripping ourselves bare of all pretense. We place our needs, fear, failures, hopes and lives into the hands of God. We confess that our only hope is in Christ, who lived, died, and rose on our behalf.

a daily Lenten prayer

You may find the following format for daily prayer and Scripture readings a helpful guide. It can be followed with family and friends, or in solitude. May God renew our repentance and faith this Lenten season!

»» Consider who Jesus is and who you are.
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

»» Meditate on the week’s psalm of lament (Expressing sadness, frustration or despair to God) and confession. Respond to the psalm with your own prayer of lament and confession. You may want to use one of these Prayers of Confession as a guide:

Almighty Father; we enter your presence confessing the things we try to conceal from you and the things we try to conceal from others. We confess the heartbreak, worry, and sorrow we have caused, that make it difficult for others to forgive us, the times we have made it easy for others to do wrong, the harm we have done that makes it hard for us to forgive ourselves. Lord have mercy and forgive us through Christ. Amen.

Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment. Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image, through Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Amen.

»» Meditate on the coming Sunday’s text from Matthew. These texts describe the days leading up to Jesus’ crucifixion.
»» Meditate on the day’s Scripture Lesson. These 40 lessons are drawn from Genesis to Revelation and survey the history of God’s plan to buy back the world from Sin.
»» Close in prayer, seeking the presence of Christ.

daily scripture readings

Ash Wednesday (February 13)
Weekly Psalm of Lament: Psalm 123
Gen 1.1-2.3
Thursday Gen 3.1-24
Friday Gen 12.1-9
Saturday Gen 15.1-6