The Last Place Is First

“Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me;
and whoever welcomes me isn’t actually welcoming me
but rather the one who sent me.”

Mark 9:37

Can you imagine being in a race and wanting to take last place? It doesn’t make too much sense, does it! But Jesus says that the last place in his Kingdom is really the first.

The world says that getting ahead is the thing to do. Being promoted in a company often makes people proud, for they have lots of people under them that they can tell what to do. Jesus’ disciples get caught in this type of thinking, wondering who is the most important among them in Jesus’ kingdom. Jesus notices his friends talking quietly among themselves on the road about who is the greatest; they are trying to keep their voice down so that Jesus can’t hear.

Listen to the strong words of Jesus about all that competition going on–all that selfish thinking that his disciples got into. What is it about being in the last place in his Kingdom that makes it so important to Jesus? Who does Jesus use as an example to show what he means? Will you do something this day and this week that will show that you’re catching on to Jesus’ teaching in this reading?

Mark 9:30-37

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer from today’s reading:
“Welcome child—welcome Me.” v. 37
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the fourth of thirteen weeks in the season of Kingdomtide,
autumn in the north.  Year B.
Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels from
The Revised Common Lectionary

Calendar for 2018: “God’s Year of Grace”

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

God Like a Rock

  The rock: his acts are perfection!
    No doubt about it: all his ways are right!
   He’s the faithful God, never deceiving;
    altogether righteous and true is he.

Deuteronomy 32:4

At the end of Moses’ long speeches, we come to a song. We don’t have the melody, so you might take a few verses that touch you, and make a tune out of them.

Moses sings about God being like a rock. He recalls how unfaithful God’s people were in their desert wanderings. They looked to foreign gods as phony rocks that they thought could save them. How wrong they were!

To get a feel for this, imagine that you are sitting on a great rock that has not moved for hundreds of thousands of years. God is like that—never changing…always there…a place to rest. Make it a high rock so that no enemies can get to you. Enjoy this time of rest. You can always return to God as your rock. Take some time to sense how good this feels.

Deuteronomy 32:1-39

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
I rest high on You, my rock. v. 4
For more information about this creative way to pray,
see Bible Breaths.

Saturdays are dedicated to the Sabbath Torah portions
read in synagogues throughout the world.
This plan follows those traditions that take a third of the portion
over a three year cycle, this year, the second part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Calendar for 2018: “God’s Year of Grace”

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

 

Palm Sunday in September?

Blessings on the coming kingdom of our ancestor David!
Hosanna in the highest!”

Mark 11:10

We come to that place in the Gospel of St. Mark when Jesus enters Jerusalem in triumph. While we recall this event on Palm Sunday, one week before Easter, there is meaning to think about this event in the season of autumn. In fact, in the southern hemisphere, Palm Sunday occurs in autumn.

Autumn is the season of the “evening” of the year. The darkness and cold of winter yields to spring– the “birth” of the solar year. There is the fullness of life in summer, and then the year comes to “old age” in autumn. The crops are harvested; they die in the fields to become life in our bodies. Through their death, we continue to live.

So too for Jesus. We come to the final parts of the Gospel in the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus enters into Jerusalem in a flurry of glory—not unlike the colors that break out on the leaves before they fall and die. Think of the branches of leaves that are placed beneath Jesus’s feet. The crunching of leaves beneath our feet in this season can have us recall that moment of glory as Jesus enters into Jerusalem. He will be crowned king there–not with a crown of gold, but one of thorns! And there’ll be a different kind of throne too—the cross!

Let this beautiful season of autumn soon to begin, take you to thoughts and feelings about Jesus, about you—and about the life that you are called to live for Jesus.

Mark 11:1-14

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Hosanna in the highest v. 10
For more information about
this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the First Week in the season of Autumn/Kingdomtide, Year B.
Fridays are dedicated to the New Testament, except the Gospels.
We read the Gospel of Mark in Year B.

Calendar for 2018: “God’s Year of Grace”

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

Friends in the Lord

May the love cause your hearts to be strengthened, to be blameless in holiness before our God and Father
when our Lord Jesus comes with all his people. Amen.

1 Thessalonians 3:13

How much St. Paul loves the people of the church in Thessalonica! In this chapter, Paul sends his dear companion, Timothy, from where they were in Athens in central Greece, to the northeast part of that country where the Thessalonians live.

Catch the immense desire of St. Paul that each church community be filled with support and love in the face of all the anger of the world that comes against them. Paul urges his friends to always be happy, even in the face of persecutions. Paul knows that when the communities are strong in love, they can endure a great deal of suffering.

There are lots of young people and adults too, who are praying this same passage with you today. That’s the power in this way of reading the Bible; you are not alone! Read Paul’s words as though you are drinking in your favorite soda or juice and be refreshed by the energy of God that you’ll find all over this passage.

1 Thessalonians 3

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Make me blameless before You. v. 13
For more information about this creative way to pray,
see Bible Breaths.

This is the third of thirteen weeks
in the season of Autumn/Kingtomtide.
Year B.
Thursdays are dedicated to the New Testament, except the Gospels.
For the first six Thursdays, we read 1 Thessalonians.

Calendar for 2018: “God’s Year of Grace”

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

A Favorite Place

 Better is a single day in your courtyards
    than a thousand days anywhere else!

Psalm 84:10

In your imagination, go to your favorite place in your life—the one you most love. Close your eyes and picture it. Imagine it with your eyes and ears and all your senses. Feel the silence that surrounds the memory, like a small boat gently rocking on the sea.

The sacred writer’s favorite place is the courts of the Lord, the lovely outer area of the Temple. Once he enters into that space, he finds himself surrounded by everything that reminds him of God whom he loves so much.

This is one of the very beautiful psalms in the Bible. It is full of wonderful feelings that you will feel yourself, if you enter into the heart and imagination of this writer. Pause at verse 10 and sink even deeper into the thought of the writer. Then from that deep place, read on till the final verses of the psalm. Go to this psalm often—just as often as you would daydream about your favorite place on earth.

Psalm 84

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
The inner court of the heart v. 4
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the third of thirteen weeks in Autumn/Kingdomtide.
Wednesdays are dedicated the Psalms.

Calendar for 2018: “God’s Year of Grace”

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

Passing the Torch

AnimFireStarter

When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me what I may do for you, before I am taken from you.” Elisha said, “Please let me inherit a double share of your spirit.”

2 Kings 2:9

The great prophets, Elijah and Elisha are like beams of light in the middle of very dark and evil days of wicked kings. God always raises up persons like these prophets who will speak for God no matter what. Like the passing of the torch at the run at the beginning of the Olympics, so does the power of Elijah pass to Elisha. Elijah now goes off to heaven in a fiery chariot.

It’s a powerful, amazing story. Picture yourself standing with Elisha who receives the power of Elijah coming upon him. Is there someone in your life who has been a source of influence for God in your life? Spend some time thanking God for that person. Will there be persons in the next generation who will thank God for your positive influence in their lives? Ask God to give you the grace and power of the greatest prophet of all—Jesus!

2 Kings 2:1-13

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Spirit of God upon me
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the Third of Thirteen Weeks in the season of Autumn/Kingdomtide,
Year B.
Tuesdays are dedicated to Hebrew History and “The Writings.”

Calendar for 2018: “God’s Year of Grace”

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…

 

Cool Peace

If our God—the one we serve—is able to rescue us from the furnace of flaming fire and from your power, Your Majesty, then let him rescue us

Daniel 3:17

The story of Daniel gets more intriguing with each chapter. Remember that he is a young person—probably a teenager. He has such a love for God and a desire to do only what is right, that he refuses to obey the wicked commands of the King to worship the King’s statue! “Yuk,” says Daniel. “I worship the living God. With God’s help, I’m not going to fall into the evil ways of my ancestors who worshiped a golden calf in the desert instead of worshipping the one true God.”

The king sets the furnace ablaze to receive Daniel and his three faithful friends. Watch what happens when they are the furnace! When the “heat is turned up” against you by those who are unkind and who want to do you wrong, their fires will be nothing compared with the “cool” peace that God is reading to give you!

Daniel 3

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
The God I serve delivers. v. 17
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the second of thirteen weeks in Autumn/Kingdomtide, Year B.
Mondays in this season are dedicated to the Prophet Daniel.

Calendar for 2018: “God’s Year of Grace”

These Firestarters are from a new edition of The Bible Through the Seasons being developed for families with children. For the Firestarters in the original edition, I recommend the ebook.  You will have the entire program of well over a thousand Firestarters with you on your phone or tablet.  More information…