The Silver Basket of Silence

There once was a very holy pastor in the 4th century A.D. (After Christ) who, like many men, was named after St. John the evangelist.  He was the most famous preacher in his day in the ancient city of Constantinople, now Antioch in Turkey.  So extraordinary was he in sharing God’s Word that he was given the name “Golden-Mouthed…in Greek, “Chrysostom.”  

    Imagine having your whole life summed up by that phrase!  It meant that when he opened his mouth, every word was pure gold; that’s how much people valued what he had to say.

     Today’s chapter from Proverbs has a verse that you’ll want to meditate on, for the idea of the verse is very much like the nickname given to 4th century John.   In order for our words to be like gold, they need to sit in the silver basket of silence for awhile, so that when we talk, we only say what the Holy Spirit prompts us to say from the silence…and not just because our mouth is pushed like a button on a machine! 

Proverbs 25

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 of these introductions with you on your phone or table!.  Click here to visit the website for more information.

Brand New

I will give you a new heart with new and right desires,
and I will put a new spirit in you.
I will take out your stony heart of sin
and give you a new, obedient heart. 36:26

Often products are marketed to the public with the sign on it: “Brand New.” It’s figured that the public tires of old things, and wants something new to grab their attention—from a new kind of mop, to new ingredient in a cereal to make us feel like it’s a new food.

These attempts at newness are really just slight changes of old things.  But the kinds of changes Ezekiel is promising will take place, are REALLY NEW.  Just as the Gospel reading of yesterday when we felt the newness of receiving the Holy Spirit, Ezekiel is prophesying in a similar way.  The Spirit, the dead bones coming alive again—all of these reach towards the Holy Spirit of Jesus for the fulfillment of these promises. 

    Products we must purchase. The new “product” of salvation was purchased by the blood of Jesus.  It’s brand new for us and doesn’t cost anything…but is so valuable, because it cost Jesus everything!

Ezekiel 36:24—37:14

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 of these introductions with you on your phone or table!.  Click here to visit the website for more information.

The Breath of Peace

It was still the first day of the week. That evening, while the disciples were behind closed doors because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities, Jesus came and stood among them.
He said, “Peace be with you.” John 20:19

“How was your week?”  This is greeting is so often used when friends see each other.  Measuring our weeks has become very basic;  for us, it begins on Sunday.

But for St. John in his Gospel, this first day of the week is unlike any other.  It is the day of Jesus’s  Resurrection when everything about this week and all coming weeks is going to be different. In fact, for St. John, it’s a new creation.

Imagine being part of a week like this one! That’s what the first disciples experienced.  That’s why there is a garden,  a new Adam and a new Eve in the morning; and in the evening, St. John has us feel the breath of peace and the giving of the Holy Spirit. It is like the story of the creation of Adam when God took up the clay of the earth, made a nose out of it, breathed into it and Adam was created.  Jesus’s breath over those disciples—and over each one of us—makes a new creation in God’s Holy Spirit.  

So let it happen way inside you.  You are a new creature.  This is a new way of living!

John 20:19-31

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 of these introductions with you on your phone or table!.  Click here to visit the website for more information.

Make Every Class Count.

You must not eat anything containing yeast along with it. Instead, for seven days you must eat unleavened bread, bread symbolizing misery, along with it because you fled Egypt in a great hurry.
Do this so you remember the day you fled Egypt for as long as you live.
Deuteronomy 16:3

Mornings getting ready for school can be a rushed time for children.  Maybe it’s a quick Pop Tart (not very healthy!) before you run to the bus.  You don’t want to be late.

Our Jewish ancestors were also in a rush.  They couldn’t wait for the dough to rise, so that baked bread without yeast, called unleavened bread.  The time had come to get going for the great escape from Egypt.  It was night…the moon was full…What if Pharaoh wakes up and runs after them! God’s people were on their way to a new future and a new land, leaving behind a life of slavery.  Pray today for all those who still are victims of slavery throughout the world. 

If you’re rushing in mornings to catch the bus, look forward to how what you learn at school can be steps toward the wonderful future that God is planning for you.  Make every class count!

Deuteronomy 16:1-8

Jewish people all around the world
are reading this same passage from the Bible today!

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 of these introductions with you on your phone or table!.  Click here to visit the website for more information.

He Is Risen: Alleluia!

Following him, Simon Peter entered the tomb and saw the linen cloths lying there.
John 20:7

“The first day of the week…” It’s a whole new week in so many ways! It’s the first day of a week when Jesus is risen.  In all the weeks that follow this one, right up to this present week, Jesus’s presence seeks to change the world…if you and I would like to listen and allow ourselves to be changed into the likeness of Jesus and his Resurrection.

St. John has the Garden of Eden in mind, with Adam and Eve recalled in the figures of Jesus and Mary Magdalene.  It’s a new creation that has come about!  How about awakening everyday this week and saying quietly out loud this ancient greeting: “Jesus is Risen: alleluia, alleluia!”  In the churches in the East, that’s the way Christians greet each other.  Instead of saying “Hello,” one person says, “Christ is Risen: alleluia, alleluia. The reply comes, “He is truly risen, alleluia, alleluia!

John 20:1-10

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 of these introductions with you on your phone or table!.  Click here to visit the website for more information.

The Holy Spirit and Power

When handkerchiefs or cloths that had touched Paul’s skin
were placed on sick people, they were healed of their diseases,
and any evil spirits within them came out.

Acts 19:12

Every Thursday in the seven-week season of Easter will find us moving about in the world of the early church.  We do this by reading from the Book of Acts.  Why is this a good time to be doing this?  Let me tell you.

Think of it this way.  Jesus’s Resurrection means much more than Jesus of Nazareth coming back to life.  The Resurrection is much greater than that.  The arms of Jesus were stretched out on the cross to embrace you and me in the salvation that Jesus offered to us; they are now stretched out to us through the church, sharing with us the kind of life that Jesus is living now in the Resurrection.

     St. Luke sees his book of Acts as continuing in the Church what Jesus was doing in the Gospel: loving, healing and believing in God’s power.  Power: that’s what we read about in Acts!

  What kind of life is that?  It’s the life unleashed for us in the Holy Spirit!  It’s the presence of the Holy Spirit in your life and mine and in the whole church.

Acts 18:23—19:41

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 of these introductions with you on your phone or table!.  Click here to visit the website for more information.

The Well-Worn Path

Those whose way is blameless—
 who walk in the Lord’s Instruction—are truly happy!
Psalm 119:1

We’re going to spend the seven Wednesdays of Easter with just one psalm: 119.  In addition to the Psalms being the longest book in the Bible, Psalm 119 is the longest chapter: 176 verses!  What’s more, every verse is a variation of saying the same thing: how much the writer loves God’s law, God’s ways.  He uses a long list of synonyms for these words.  Yet even though each verse seems the same, there is a change of color in each one—like looking through a kaleidoscope and seeing so many pieces of color in a beautiful design.

Each Wednesday we will take a group of these verses together.  What’s more, we will lift out one of the synonyms as they are in the Hebrew language.  I encourage you to spend time with these words, saying them in the original language, and feeling what their meaning is for you as you live your day. 

The Hebrew word for “way” is Derek.  Its root meaning is “to walk.”  As a person keeps walking through the same trail, it becomes a well-worn path…a clear way to go forward

Psalm 119:1-14

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 of these introductions with you on your phone or table!.  Click here to visit the website for more information.