Manger Outward—Cross Upward

Tuesday, December 31

Joshua 11—12

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To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


Photo Courtesy – Worship Films – http://www.easyworship.com

The summary list in chapter 12 bears witness to one clear truth: God longs for a people wholly dedicated to God. The Lord does not want us to make deals with the Enemy, as the Israelites did with Canaanite neighbors with whom they mingled.
Christmas contrasts with the conquests of Joshua. The wood of the manger is at the center of the space of God-with-us, won for us, not with the edge of the sword, but with the laser-beam of Jesus’ love. From the manger outward, to the cross upward, Jesus’ love is the weapon that has given us a “holy land” where we can live right now and forever.

Feel the contrasts in the silence—lists of conquered kings in Joshua …your list of spiritual enemies overcome …Joshua’s sword …Jesus’ manger …Come to the stable!

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
My focus ever on You
Loving all my enemies
Your power at work in me
The manger: place of Your peace

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for the version for children and families.

This is Christmas Week, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Tuesdays are dedicated the Hebrew “Writings.”

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Faith Comes By Hearing

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The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.

Fruit or Ornaments?

Monday, December 30
Isaiah 5

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To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


Photo Courtesy – Merlot Vineyard, Napa Valley, California

Hebrew poetry is at its best here, as Isaiah unfolds an image familiar to his listeners. There is tenderness in the poetry, especially in those verses where God’s hurt, pain and frustration about his withered vineyard are most expressed.

What kind of fruit has your life been giving? Wait … Ask God to tell you. Perhaps you do not discover much fruit, but only ornaments as on your Christmas tree. No matter; God can transform all in the coming year.

When we are hurt and frustrated, our moods and feelings change rapidly. So too with God, in whose image we are made. Feel the shifts and changes in the movement of God’s heart. Worship. Take hold of God’s hand stretched out to heal.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
Lord, may my life yield good fruits v. 2
You continue to create v. 12
Humble eyes reflecting joy v. 15
Welcoming Your word to me. v. 24

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for the version for children and families.

This is Christmas Week, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Mondays are dedicated to the Prophets,in this season the prophet Isaiah.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.

“Evergreens” – An Alphabyte

Nick reads the Alphabyte.

There are a few trees that defiantly resist the choke-hold of the cold,
squeezing away the green of summer.
They are curved into wreathes twisted into garlands,
clustered as centers for the table.
We invite one to visit us, wrenching it from what would have been
its never changing place, asking it to spend its final days
as a member of our family, reminding us of the Life
that has come to the world in Jesus.
When it’s all decorated with lights and ornaments of memory
spend time alone with this Christmas guest.

Recall the places and trees of the past. Welcome feelings that well up.
They are—like the branches—something ever-green inside of you,
memories ever-alive, seeking to be expressed for the deeper healings.
And when the season is past, thank the tree—no longer evergreen—

as it takes its place with all its sister trees
whose leaves have long turned brown upon the ground,
making next summer even more green than ever.

Alphabytes are object meditations
that move through the alphabet two times
in the course of the fifty-two weeks in the year.
“Evergreens” introduces Christmas Week:
winter in the north, summer in the south.
To view all of them, see the menu option Alphabytes

Ministry Unfolds

Sunday, December 29
Matthew 2:13–23

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


Caravaggio “Rest on Flight to Egypt’ (detail) 1596-97
Oil on canvas, width of detail 48 cm Galleria Doria Pamphilj, Rome
Visit the Web Gallery of Art http://wga.hu

Joseph, a dream, and Jesus—again we find meaning in relating this story to the saga of the patriarch, Joseph, read on Saturdays.
Today’s reading is the sequel to the account of the Magi and Herod proclaimed next week on Epiphany Sunday. We read of the aftermath of Herod’s rage in the terrible massacre of the Holy Innocents and the safe refuge of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph in Egypt. From the very beginning, Jesus is one with his people, at first protected in Egypt, then delivered from the slavery that would develop.
Follow the journey of the Holy Family to and from Egypt; join them as they settle in Nazareth for the long, quiet years of the presence of God in Jesus. He becomes ready for the saving ministry that will unfold.

As you quietly live each day, God continues to prepare you for your unique ministry that is unfolding.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
With the Holy Family v. 14
Lord, heal the hurts of mothers v. 18
Obeying Your sacred call v. 20
Joining You in Nazareth v. 23

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for the version for children and families.

This is Christmas Week, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels from
The Revised Common Lectionary.
Year A is dedicated to the Gospel ofLuke.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.

“Darkroom” – An Alphabyte

Nick reads the Alphabyte.

A closed space it is⎯free from the intrusion of unwanted light
from altering what happened when once a fleeting beam was admitted,
snatched up by the hungry film, etching an image upon it.
The image is bathed in developer, till slowly, the then conceived,
yet unseen form, can withstand the flood of light all about.

Ponder this darkroom time of the year.
Enter its quiet, protected space, where that image of your very self
etched by your Creator from the beginning,
can emerge unaltered into the fullness of the sun.
Bathe yourself in darkness. Trust it, in faith.
Take time to hold the larger lights at bay
so that the Spirit can baptize you in the holy developer
of that quiet inner touch of love and water and fire.
Hold the self in stillness so that the Word of Life
can continue to make its image upon your face…your heart…
the way you walk and live and love.
Spend time each day in God’s darkroom⎯
even if only to close the eyes for some minutes,
holding in check the pressing claims of others
wanting to make you into their image.
Protect the image of you…It is the only one God ever made.
He waits to see it develop to the full, till your face and the face of Jesus
look longingly at each other forever.

Alphabytes are object meditations
that move through the alphabet two times
in the course of the fifty-two weeks in the year.
“Darkroom” introduces the Fourth Week in Advent:
winter in the north, summer in the south.
To view all of them, see the menu option Alphabytes

Bearing the Power of the Promise

Saturday, December 28
Exodus 6:2—7:7

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To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


http://www.solarfeeds.com

A frustrated Moses comes before the Lord. Ever since Moses went before Pharaoh with the command he received from the Lord to let God’s people go, life became worse for the Hebrews. However, Moses always turns his troubles over to the Lord. This will become a habit for him.

Hear the strength of the promise. Moses and God’s people will need to bear the power of the promise to carry them through the continual resistance that Pharaoh will make.

Allow the promise of God do the same for you. You will encounter times of temptation, doubt, and discouragement. When that occurs, allow the power of the promise of God held out to you in Christ Jesus to fire the “internal combustion engine” of your life.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
“I the Lord will deliver.” 6:6
You redeem with outstretched arm. 6:6
We Your people, You our God 6:7
You giving me words to speak 7:2

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for the version for children and families.

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 third part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.

Movement and Stillness

Friday, December 27
Luke 2:1–20

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.


Caravaggio – “Nativity with St Francis and St Lawrence” 1609
Oil on canvas, 268 x 197 cm – Formerly in Oratorio di San Lorenzo, Palermo
Visit the Web Gallery of Art http://www.wga.hu

Movement and stillness are carefully contrasted in the Christmas Story. First, there is the tedious moving of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem, a journey by donkey of some seventy miles. Accompany them. Take the reigns of the donkey so that Joseph can tend to Mary without distraction. Kneel with them in the stillness and awesomeness of the birth. Drink in all the power of that silent night.

Energy shifts to the angels announcing and singing before the shepherds. By faith your spirit mounts with theirs. From the stillness of a winter’s night-watch over their sheep, they run in haste to the manger. Their out-of-breath-ness slows to an immense peace, and then energy again as they become the first missionaries of the new presence.

Where does all this leave you? Take your cue from Mary who “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
The donkey to Bethlehem v. 4
Laying Him in a manger v. 7
Hosanna in excelsis v. 14
Mary ponders in her heart. v. 19

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the fourth of four weeks in Advent, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
We read the Gospel of Matthew, except during Advent, the Infancy Narratives of Luke.

Scripture Recordings in over 700 languages!
Faith Comes By Hearing

Audio Bible App from www.bible.is

The Firestarters and readings are posted in the timezone UTC+12,
so that they are available in New Zealand and other regions
near the International Date Line.