Going Up

Jerusalem is built on a small plateau.  When pilgrims used to make the sacred journey to the city to celebrate the festivals, they would sing, “I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go up to the house of the Lord’” (Psalm 122).  Now it wasn’t like climbing a mountain; still there was the feeling of going up.

Jesus feels something like this.  He keeps his eyes on Jerusalem for he would go up there, and then go further up on Mount Calvary to be even lifted further up on the cross.   

There is another meaning to “going up” that Jesus has in mind: to go back up to heaven.  All kinds of feelings of “going up” are felt in this passage.  What keeps all these feelings together are Jesus’s eyes straight ahead of him on his way to Jerusalem.  Jesus would offer himself there.    

From verse 57 you will read about the price that one has to pay for following Jesus.  Eyes any place else but on Jesus and following him will lessen the joy that God wants you to have in your life. One day you  will be lifted up to be with Jesus and all the saints in heaven forever.

Luke 9:51-62

On Sundays we follow the Gospels from the Revised Common Lectionary.

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! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Giving not Getting

The details of this reading all add up to this: God is the center of life. The Lord, who cannot be seen, wants things that can be seen to remind us that God is Number One. God wants the people to wear hanging cords called tassels of beautiful blue from the four corners of the basic garment worn by the people. This was a reminder that God was with the people. 

We live in a world where people just want more things. Grasping after things is sometimes stronger than the giving of ourselves  to others.  How about attaching something to yourself, perhaps a bracelet, to remind yourself that life is about giving, not getting?

Numbers 15:8–41

The Saturday passages follow the reading list that Jewish people use in their synagogue worship throughout the world. They are taken from
“The Torah,” the first five books of the Bible from Genesis to Deuteronomy that are read each year beginning with autumn.

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! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Loving Those Forgotten

Artist: Aime Morot

What do you think? Which one of these three was a neighbor
to the man who encountered thieves?”
Then the legal expert said, “The one who demonstrated mercy toward him.”
Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
Luke 10:36-37

This is a one of the most beloved of all of Jesus’s stories.  When Jesus tells stories (called “parables”) they usually have characters in them that have very strong contrasts.  The stories are like having light and dark colors placed next to each other.

Samaritans were a very hated group of people.  This makes the shock of Jesus’s story all the greater.  A Samaritan stops to give help to a poor, helpless person, beaten up and left by the side of the road for dead.  The professional religious persons, a priest and a Levite, walk right by the dying person, even across the street—perhaps rushing to the Temple so that they can say their prayers out loud and show off!  

Feel the compassion in the story.  What are you learning from it?  Is there someone who needs you to be kind—someone whom everybody else is ignoring or forgetting about, or maybe worse: someone who is bullied or even beaten up?

Luke 10:25-42

Fridays are dedicated to the Gospels. This being Year C,
the third year in the cycle, we generally read from the Gospel of Luke.

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! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

STOP – LOOK – LISTEN

 In the past, God spoke through the prophets to our ancestors in many times and many ways. In these final days, though, he spoke to us through a Son. God made his Son the heir of everything
and created the world through him.
Hebrews 11-2

We begin this very wonderful letter making a grand sweep of God’s sharing of God’s life with us from the very beginning of creation, until now. The whole letter is about how great is Christ―much greater than anyone in heaven or on earth.

Take the verses one and two, praying slowly:  “In the past, God spoke through the prophets to our ancestors in many times and many ways. In these final days, though, he spoke to us through a Son. God made his Son the heir of everything and created the world through him.”  We are in the “final days” when God is constantly revealing himself to us through the Spirit of Christ.  

Long ago when there were no blinking lights or gates at railroad crossings, there was a simple sign in the form of an “X” with the words: STOP – LOOK – LISTEN. That’s what these first verses remind you to do: stop, look and listen for the many ways God is speaking to you through the Holy Spirit of Jesus that is within you. It’s happening right now!

Hebrews 1

Thursdays are dedicated to the letters of Paul, other letters,
the Book of Acts, and the Book of Revelation.

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! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

A Holy Puzzle

They shine in the dark for others who do right.
    They are merciful, compassionate, and righteous.
Psalm 112:4

Just as last week’s psalm, so is this one, where each sentence begins with the next letter of the Hebrew Alphabet.  

All the wonderful qualities of a person who lives by God’s ways are sung in this lovely prayer.  As you listen to these virtues, how about making a list of good qualities that mean something to you, arranging them from A to Z.  This might be hard to do at one once, but perhaps a little at a time.  It would be a holy puzzle!

When you make your list, read each word, even out loud, praying that these good qualities and virtues will drop way down into your soul, so that you can live them…only with God’s loving help.

Psalm 112

Wednesdays are devoted to the reading of the Psalms,
one a week across the three-year cycle.

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! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

The Thread of Life

Today’s reading invites you to take a glance at a long list of names.  In fact the list goes on for 9 chapters!  Now don’t think you have to read every word in order to say that you read the Bible!

It’s much better to take a look at the meaning of the list of names.  Their purpose is to give to people who had lost contact with their history, names that bridge the gap in what the people had forgotten.  Like a big hole in a special shirt that needs to be sewn again, so does the writer of this book of the Bible make a thread of life to connect the people in exile back to their early history.

When you need to feel the flow from your past, take out some old pictures and look at all the people in your life―you too―when everyone was much younger.  The link with the past will help you feel the beauty of the present as God continues to spin the thread of your future for you.     

1 Chronicles 1-3

Tuesdays are dedicated to the the History and Writings of the Hebrew Scriptures.

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! Check the menu options at the site for more information.

Stop and Wonder

Seek good and not evil,
        that you may live;
    and so the Lord, the God of heavenly forces,
        will be with you just as you have said.
Amos 5:14

Amos tries very hard to turn the people away from their evil ways. They are so intent upon false worship and unfair practices, that they have forgotten the obvious: that God alone made the heavens and all the stars.       

We may not be doing things as bad as those people, but all of us need to remember the simple things about life that we can so easily take for granted.  Stop to feel the breeze, see the sky, listen to the sounds of birds, watch a sunrise or a sunset and wonder at the stars.  When we do this, our worries go away like the dew on the morning grass when the sun comes up.

Amos 5:7-17

Mondays are dedicated to the reading of the Hebrew Prophets.

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! Check the menu options at the site for more information.