Delighting in the Lord

Isn’t this the fast I choose:
    releasing wicked restraints, untying the ropes of a yoke,
    setting free the mistreated,
    and breaking every yoke?
Isn’t it sharing your bread with the hungry
    and bringing the homeless poor into your house,
    covering the naked when you see them,
    and not hiding from your own family?

Isaiah 58:6-7

The prophet Isaiah must have inspired John the Baptist; John’s preaching that we read yesterday and today’s preaching of Isaiah are very much alike. Isaiah wants the people to stop making a show of worship and start helping others who are in need. Loving acts for others is part of prayer and worship.

The last verse of the reading speaks about delighting in the Lord. Have you ever thought of the word “delight” in connection with God? Thinking about God’s love toward us and God’s goodness in creating us will cause delight to spring up from inside us. Then we will naturally want to do what the Lord wants—to bring kindness and justice to others.

 Isaiah 58

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
Delighting always in You v. 14
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the Third Week in Advent
Winter in the north.  Year C
Monday are dedicated in this season to the prophet Isaiah

Seasons of Grace – A Calendar for 2019

Solar and Sacred Seasons
Some adjustments to make the church year simpler.

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…

Grounded or Watered

Produce fruit that shows you have changed your hearts and lives. And don’t even think about saying to yourselves, Abraham is our father. I tell you that God is able to raise up Abraham’s children from these stones.

Luke 3:8

Have you every done something very wrong and been grounded, or received some other strong consequence? In the time of John the Baptist and Jesus, so many of God’s people were doing wrong. They had become very selfish and unjust in their treatment of others. They needed strong consequences for what they did.

God used John’s preaching as a way to have the people be warned what would happen if they did not change their whole way of thinking and acting. That’s what repentance means. Rather than being grounded and told to “go to your room,” these crowds were “watered” by going down into the Jordan River and being baptized by John. In this way, when they went back up onto dry ground, they were new people, ready to do what God wants.

Place yourself among the crowds that were baptized by John. Listen to the sample of John’s preaching in today’s reading and see if there is anything you are doing that might be like the wrong actions of those in the crowds. If you find something, then turn away from it and turn toward God who calls you to love God all the days of your life.

Luke 3:7-18

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Fruits worthy of repentance v. 8
For more information about this creative way to pray,
see Bible Breaths.

This is the Third Week in Advent
Winter in the north.  Year C
Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels from
The Revised Common Lectionary

Seasons of Grace – A Calendar for 2019

Solar and Sacred Seasons
Some adjustments to make the church year simpler.

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…

Jacob’s Joy

 Joseph hitched up his chariot and went to meet his father Israel in Goshen. When he arrived, he threw his arms around his neck and wept, embracing him for a long time. Israel said to Joseph, “I can die now after seeing your face. You are really still alive!”

Genesis 46:29-30

Simeon in the reading from Luke 2:21 blessed the Lord in words similar to this verse from Genesis 46:30: “I can die now, having seen for myself that you are still alive.” It’s the moment of beautiful reunion with Joseph and Jacob. Imagine Jacob’s joy, thinking that his son Joseph was dead or in slavery somewhere. Now Joseph comes to see his father…What a wonderful meeting!

Just as a theme in music, so do we have this “theme” of bringing about love and salvation even when things don’t look like they are going that way. Reflect on your own life and see how today’s story has similar themes for you.

Genesis 46:28—47:12

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Your plan at work within me
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.

Seasons of Grace – A Calendar for 2019

Solar and Sacred Seasons
Some adjustments to make the church year simpler.

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 Day with Holy Women

“With all my heart I glorify the Lord!
In the depths of who I am I rejoice in God my savior.

Luke 1:36-47

You are invited to spend the day with some very holy women, Mary and Elizabeth. Find a quiet spot in the room where you hear the Angel Gabriel tell Mary the wonderful news that she is going to be the mother of our savior. Then walk with her as she makes her way to her cousin, Elizabeth, so that they can both share the joy of what God is doing for them…and for Mary to help Elizabeth because Elizabeth was much older. Be aware of these beautiful events throughout your day—”The Annunciation” to Mary in the morning, then “The Visitation” as you travel with Mary on the way to visit and have lunch with Elizabeth about noon, spending the afternoon with them, and finally praying the evening prayer of what is called Mary’s “Magnificat” from verse 47.

The use of our imagination in reading the Bible helps us to have our whole persons involved in the events that take place. So what’s it like to spend the day with these holy women?

Luke 1:26-56

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
My soul magnifies the Lord. v. 47
For more information about
this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the Second Week in Advent
Winter in the north.  Year C
On Fridays we read the Gospel of Luke

Seasons of Grace – A Calendar for 2019

Solar and Sacred Seasons
Some adjustments to make the church year simpler.

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…

How to Avoid Being Tripped

Therefore, once you have your minds ready for action and you are thinking clearly, place your hope completely on the grace that will be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed.

1 Peter 1:13

The idea of “minds ready for action” comes from a word in Greek when people used to gather up their long clothes and tie them to their waist so that they would not trip. It’s like carrying a small appliance around. First you pick up the cord and make sure that it doesn’t drag, to avoid tripping.

If we are going to walk and even run by God’s ways, we need to have nothing hanging about ourselves that would trip us up! Do you have any “loose ends” in your thoughts and feelings that need to be gathered up so that you don’t trip? These can be ways of thinking that get in the way of the sweep of following God that God has in mind for all of us.

Now here are a few verses that gather the whole Gospel together: Verses 18-19. These verses are a kind of cord about your mind as you walk in their truth. What special love Jesus has for us to save us from tripping over bad things by the power of His poured out life for us!

1 Peter 1:13−25

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Girding my mind for action v. 13
For more information about this creative way to pray,
see Bible Breaths.

This is the Second Week in Advent
Winter in the north.  Year C
Thursdays in this season are dedicated to the the letters of Peter

Seasons of Grace – A Calendar for 2019

Solar and Sacred Seasons
Some adjustments to make the church year simpler.

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…

How to Get Out of a Bad Mood

O sing to the Lord a new song;
 sing to the Lord, all the earth.

Psalm 96:1

We humans are the only ones that get into bad moods. The rest of creation perfectly expresses the joy in being created. One of the ways of getting out of a bad mood is to be aware of what’s outside yourself: the physical world and all that’s in it.

Yet in the verses 11 and 12 of the psalm, the word “Let us” used five times when the sacred writer tells us to let the earth be glad. Hmm…so it seems that in some way, creation waits for us to do this—to get out of our bad moods to allow the creatures of God to be who they are! Maybe this is part of what is means when God put Adam in charge of all the animals. It was Adam’s and our job, not to subdue animals and have them serve us, but rather to be the one that sets them free to be themselves and to add praises to God for them.

Today’s psalm invites you to become a composer: Sing a new song to the Lord. You might begin to hum or sing in a spontaneous way, just as do the birds and the sound of the wind in the trees. In this way, we become with all the animals of the forest who are like our sisters and brothers!

Psalm 96

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Sing to the Lord a new song! v. 1
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the Second Week in Advent
Winter in the north.  Year C
Wednesdays are dedicated to the Psalms

Seasons of Grace – A Calendar for 2019

Solar and Sacred Seasons
Some adjustments to make the church year simpler.

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 Love Story

AnimFireStarterMay the Lord reward you for your deed. May you receive a rich reward from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you’ve come to seek refuge.

Ruth 2:12

In today’s episode, Ruth goes out to gather up the leftovers after the harvesters are finished reaping the crops. Now comes the beginning of the love story between the owner of the field, Boaz and Ruth, the foreign lady who is quietly gathering up leftover grain the fields, lest they remain and rot in the field without being picked.

Watch the care of Boaz, the humility of Ruth, and all through this, the plan of God to bring these two persons together in love. It’s a beautiful story of how God makes human love into something beautiful. Ruth will become an ancestor of Jesus!

Ruth 2

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
My refuge, under Your wings v. 12
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the Second Week in Advent
Winter in the north.  Year C
Tuesdays are dedicated in Advent to the Book of Ruth

Seasons of Grace – A Calendar for 2019

Solar and Sacred Seasons
Some adjustments to make the church year simpler.

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…