Does God Seem Far Away?

Look! The Lord does not lack the power to save,
    nor are his ears too dull to hear,

Isaiah 59:1

I love this bumper sticker that says: “If God seems far away, guess who moved?” I think of this when I read the first two verses of today’s reading. First, God is powerful to save us from whatever might be coming against us, and secondly, if there is a problem with us being helped by God, it’s on our part, not on God’s part!

As you read about the kinds of wrongdoing of which Isaiah speaks in the rest of the reading, stop and ask yourself about what YOU might be doing to stop the flow of love and God’s grace in your life. Readings like these can help us think about how we act and to turn our eyes toward Jesus and listen to how Jesus wants us to act.

 Isaiah 59:1-15a

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
Your hand stretched out for saving v. 1
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the Fourth 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…

The Visitation

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. With a loud voice she blurted out, “God has blessed you above all women,
and he has blessed the child you carry.

Luke 1:41-42

Mary’s first thought after hearing that she was going to carry Jesus in her womb, is to visit her aged cousin, Elizabeth. What a meeting that was! Stand next to them when they greet each other, catching all their wonder and joy.

The name given to their meeting over the centuries is “The Visitation.” Laughter and smiles break out like the sun at dawn. They know what’s happening within them, and that after their births, a wonderful new future will begin to unfold. John the Baptism in Elizabeth’s womb “leaps for joy.” St. Luke tells the marvelous story.

God looks at you with a face of joy, for God knows the wonderful things that are going to happen in your life if you are faithful to the call of God upon your life. The presence of Jesus inside you…very much the way Jesus was inside Mary!

Luke 1:39-45

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Blest are you among women. v. 42
For more information about this creative way to pray,
see Bible Breaths.

This is the Fourth 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…

The Secret of Joseph’s Success

You planned something bad for me, but God produced something good from it, in order to save the lives of many people, just as he’s doing today.

Genesis 50:20

The story of Joseph and his brothers has been building up and building up. We come now to the final episodes of the story, and the last chapter of the first book of the Bible.

It’s a chapter about the sadness of Joseph over the death of his father, Jacob, but also the joy of the reunion of Joseph and his brothers. There’s a verse that is the very heart of the story, and how Joseph was free of resenting his brothers for the evil they did to him. It’s verse 20: “Even though you intended to do harm to me, God intended it for good.”

There is no situation in our lives that is without this power of God to turn it into good…If we believe in God to do this and let it happen. Any thoughts about your own life that you come to mind from your reading this chapter, and especially this verse?

Genesis 50

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
You bringing good from evil v. 20
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 Tongue Untied

Because of our God’s deep compassion,
    the dawn from heaven will break upon us,
  to give light to those who are sitting in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
        to guide us on the path of peace.

Luke 1:78-79

You will remember that Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, had his power of speaking taken from him; he didn’t believe in the miracle that God was going to give him a son. But then the moment came when John the Baptist was born. Suddenly, as though Zechariah’s tongue was untied like a knot, he began not only to speak, but to sing. His song is in today’s reading. For centuries it has been connected to prayers in the morning.

The hymn closes with the first of four times that the word “peace” is used in St. Luke’s Gospel. Sometimes this Gospel is called the “Gospel of Peace.” Let your tongue be set loose and allowed to speak and sing the praises of the God of peace.

Luke 1:57-80

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Guide my feet to way of peace. v. 79
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
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…

A Favored Rock

You yourselves are being built like living stones into a spiritual temple. You are being made into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:5

Imagine: a robot was able to be placed on Mars! This was back in the spring of 1997. We could sit here on earth, at least 35 million miles away and look at the surface of that planet up close. We could see the very rocks! One of the jobs of the scientists was to give names to many rocks so that they could refer to them later. These rocks became like persons—something like “pet rocks” which was the Christmas gift craze about thirty years ago.

There is a story among Jewish people that tells how each rock was chosen to become part of the great temple. One rock just wouldn’t fit; it was rejected and thrown down a cliff into a pile of garbage. The time came when the Temple was almost completed, but they still needed to fill in an odd-shaped hole. They looked and looked among the refuse, at last finding the rock that was rejected. It became the most important rock for the Temple!

St. Peter has this story in mind in the passage for today. The rock of Jesus which was rejected, has become the cornerstone of the living Temple of God which is Jesus’ risen body.

You are like a special rock—unique size, shape, color and personality. Perhaps others might ignore you, but God has a very special place for you in the living stone which is Jesus.

1 Peter 2:1-10

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Living stones: spir’tual temple v. 5
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
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…

Melting into God

Light is planted like seed for the righteous person;
    joy too for those whose heart is right.

Psalm 97:11

Here we are in the very middle of Advent, in the center of this week of joy. A pink candle on the Advent Wreath was added last Sunday to symbolize joy in the Lord.

Catch the faith in God that flows from this psalm. The power of God in the world is sung in many ways. There is one image that we can picture—mountains melting in the presence of the Lord. It’s similar to what happens when we are in the presence of a very famous person; sometimes we become weak in the knees and feel a kind of melting within.

The sacred writer makes the whole world be like a person fully aware of the awesome presence of God. The final verses are like cheers of victory, knowing that goodness will win out over evil. May the whole spirit of this psalm fill you completely, until you too just melt into the arms of God.

Psalm 97

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Light as a seed within me v. 11
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
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…

God’s Goodness All Our Days

AnimFireStarter“May you be blessed by the Lord, my daughter! You have acted even more faithfully than you did at first. You haven’t gone after rich or poor young men. And now, my daughter, don’t be afraid. I’ll do for you everything you are asking. Indeed, my people—all who are at the gate—know that you are a woman of worth.

Ruth 3:10-11

Ruth rests at the feet of Boaz—sign of respect, love and the hope that Boaz might fall in love with her, just as she was falling in love with him. Ruth was hoping that Boaz would become her husband and thus be a source of love and protection for her.

Through this story of love, God is preparing the way for the coming of Jesus; Ruth and Boaz when they marry will bear a child named Obed who will be the grandfather of King David, human ancestor of Jesus.

God has a wonderful future prepared for you, and a loving spouse who is alive somewhere today! So let’s you and I live each day believing how good God is right now and all the days of our lives!

Ruth 3

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
You, preparing my future
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
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…