The Joy of the Resurrection

They went out and proclaimed the message everywhere. The Lord worked with them, confirming the word by the signs associated with them.

Mark 16:20

This is the very end of the Gospel of St. Mark that we’ve been reading on Fridays for most of the year. In this one final chapter, the resurrection takes place and the joyous events of Jesus’ appearing to his friends and giving final instructions before Jesus goes to heaven.

Just as we have so often done with the Gospel, place yourself alongside Mary Magdalene and the other women as they go out to anoint Jesus body—to finish something they were unable to do the day of the crucifixion. Feel their immense surprise and then the mounting joy of discovering that Jesus is alive and is showing his glorious self to many of his friends. Get inside their feelings of joy until they become your own feelings.

This is the last week in God’s year of grace. It’s been a wonderful journey and movement of God’s grace. It’s going to begin again in Advent, just two days from now! So get ready for another wondrous cycle of God sharing with us, not only who God is, but who we are in God’s sight. Stay faithful to God’s Word each day and you’ll know of God’s wonderful love and all that God wants to share with you.

Mark 16

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Good news to all creation v. 15
For more information about
this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the last week in the season of Kingdomtide,
autumn in the north. 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…

God’s Word: Sweet and Sour

So I went to the angel and told him to give me the scroll. He said to me, “Take it and eat it. It will make you sick to your stomach,
but sweet as honey in your mouth.”

Revelation: 10:9

You will have to slow up your imagination to catch all the strong images that John unfolds for us in his visions. Just as in yesterday’s psalm about good and evil and about which one is going to win, so too the verses of these chapters share similar stories, though much more grand and big.

Let’s take the image of eating the scroll which we find in 10:9-11. When we read the Bible each day, it really is like eating it! We are meant not only to take the words in our mind, but into our whole body and person as well. Just as in the case of Holy Communion, so also when we read God’s Word with great attention, this Word enters us completely and can change us. At first, says John, there is a sweetness to it, like honey. But then, as the Word really gets inside us, the challenge to our lives and to our call to be witness to God can move us so much that it might feel like food upsetting the stomach.

There’s a swing from sweet and sour with God’s Word….But then again, there’s a sauce for Chinese food that deliberately is sweet and sour for the enjoyment of eating certain foods. So really, the sweet and sour aspects of God’s Word blends into an overall great enjoyment, for the sourness becomes the joy of God’s power and triumph soon to come, just as happens in the glorious ending of the reading for today.

Revelation 10—11

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
The scroll—both bitter and sweet 10:9
For more information about this creative way to pray,
see Bible Breaths.

This is the last week in the season of Kingtomtide,
autumn in the north Year B.
Thursdays are dedicated to the New Testament, except the Gospels.
In this season we are reading 1st and 2nd 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…

Etchings on the Heart

When the cares of my heart are many,
    your consolations cheer my soul.

Psalm 94:19

Remember the days when we made sandcastles in the sand? Perhaps you made a big one just this past summer. The first step is to clear the space with your arm, making a smooth area where footsteps had been.

When you begin to read God’s Word, clear a space for yourself by silence, stillness, focusing your attention on what you are about to read, just as you would focus a camera. Then as you begin to read, it is as though the finger of God is beginning to make etchings against the silent space you have prepared.

Practice this with today’s psalm. You’ll be able to feel the pain of the sacred writer who first shares with God the meanness of the world and how bad people are so often out to harm the weak and innocent. The psalm stirs these feelings of longing that God do something about all the injustice in the world. And God will! So as you read the verses that speak about God coming to the rescue of the innocent, feel the joy of the writer as he gets in touch with his great faith in God.

Talking about etchings…You can do this in your journal by writing on its paper or typing into your computer. It will be as though God is etching his wisdom and love upon your heart!

Psalm 94

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Your kindness cheering my soul. v. 19
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the last week in Kingdomtide,
autumn in the north. Year B
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…

A Look from the End of Life

AnimFireStarterThe end of something is better than its beginning.
    Patience is better than arrogance.

Ecclesiastes 7:8

Each last Tuesday of the church year, we take a look at a book that is said to have been written by Solomon toward the end of his life. It’s called Ecclesiastes. He takes a somber look in many ways, yet one that has quiet wisdom running through it. Solomon stands at the end of his life and looks back on everything. From that point of view, things fall into place alongside other things and events.

“Finishing is better than starting”…I like that line. The crowd of people beginning to run a Marathon is not as interesting as the few that lead the race and the ones who come in ahead of all.

As you imagine the end of your life, whether it ends in the far off distance, and maybe even sadly, much sooner: take a moment and go to the end and think for some moments about what was really important to you in your whole life. I hope it’s got something do to with loving others, finding God’s plan for your life and doing it, looking at the qualities about yourself by which you’ll want to be remembered.
Well, you’re not dead yet! There’s time for you right now to become the kind of person you really want to be.

Ecclesiastes 7:8-13

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

This is the last week in the season of Kingdomtide,
Autumn in the north. 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…

 

God’s Point of View

“Go your way, Daniel, because the words are rolled up and sealeduntil the time of the end.  Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked. None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand.

Daniel 12:9-10

Daniel is given a vision of what is going to happen at the end of the world.  Matthew, Mark and Luke have similar stories offered by Jesus and his disciples as they stand before the great Temple. The book of Revelation has similar stories.  

It sounds like a scary time, yet Jesus our King is in charge and with us.  The picture of the man in linen white…Though Daniel lives centuries before Christ, he gets a glimpse of  Jesus in this man dressed in linen.  I’m reminded of Revelation 7 we read a few weeks back, how the suffering of the saints caused their clothes to become white when they were drenched in the blood of the lamb: Jesus.

So we come to the end of book of Daniel which has been with us for the past thirteen Mondays.  This young teenager went through adventures, saw visions—every moment of his life, he was touched by God because he was willing to be close to God and to do what God wants.  If you and I have that same desire, God will show us what we need to know about the deep, inner meaning of things.  This does not only mean at the end of the world, but at the end of each moment, when we pause and spend some time being quiet. God will give us the wisdom to understand what situations and events mean from God’s point of view.  Hey, now there’s a point of view I would like to have!

Daniel 12 

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer

Purified, cleansed, and refined v. 10
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the last of thirteen weeks in Kingdomtide,
autumn in the north, 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…

Jesus: King of Your World

 “You are a king, then!” said Pilate. Jesus answered,
“You say that I am a king. In fact, the reason I was born and came into the world is to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me.”

John 18:37

What a sight: the King of the World stands before a wicked governor of a province in the Roman Empire.  Look at the contrasts: Jesus’ cloak is soaked and stained with blood; his head streams with fresh blood that flows down his face.  And Pilate…arrogant, proud, yet underneath, afraid of the Jewish crowd outside.

Today is Christ the King Sunday, the last Sunday in God’s year of grace.  Before you is your King who silently endures the immensity and pain for you and me so that we could be free of the effects of evil and meanness in our lives.  Jesus wears the kingly color of crimson…and even a crown, for it’s true: underneath all this pain and blood is the holy Son of God, the King of the World.

Is Jesus king of your world?As you move about your days and talk and have fun with your friends—listen to music and respond to the love in your family—this world of yours…Do you let Jesus be the king of your world?In his suffering and death, he was in charge, though Pilate and others didn’t know it.  Do you know that he is in charge of your world?  

John 18:33-37

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:

You, the Way, the Truth and Life John 14:6

For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the last 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…

Impact on Our Children

Then they moved on from Bethel. While they were still some distance from Ephrath, Rachel began to give birth and had great difficulty. And as she was having great difficulty in childbirth, the midwife said to her, “Don’t despair, for you have another son.” As she breathed her last—for she was dying—she named her son Ben-Oni.
But his father named him Benjamin.

Genesis 3516-18

We go back a long time ago earlier to a birth that has sadness about it, because it meant the death of the mother, Rachel, when her little boy Benjamin was born.  Our passage today also shares about the death of Isaac, Rachel’s father-in-law.

Then in chapter 36 we pick up the story of what happened to Esau after he lost that special blessing to Jacob.  There are only a few of his descendants mentioned; the really interesting stories are those from the children of Jacob who become the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

Much more than a descendant of these ancestors, we are children of God being adopted into God’s family by what Jesus did for us. When you live aware of this fact, think of the impact that you are going to have on your own children!

Genesis 35:16—36:43

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:

Benjamin while soul departs 35:18

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…