Coming Down the Mountain

Many years ago when I was in the seminary, a group of us took a hike up one of the Catskill mountains in New York.  When we reached the top, we stopped and enjoyed the beauty all around us, below us and above us.  It was December, late afternoon. We realized that we had arrived just before sunset…Mistake!  It would be taking us much longer to come down the mountain than it would take for the sun to drop in the western horizon.  It became dark…we lost out way. Most of the group and I made it down the mountain, but three others spent the whole night in the cold mountains.  We were scared!  As it turned out, everyone was OK the next morning.  

Jesus and three of his disciples do something similar. They want the joy of being with Jesus on top of the mountain to go on and on, yet the disciples couldn’t stay there; they had to come down.  It wasn’t a pleasant descent for them because Jesus was talking about his coming suffering and death.  What a change from the glory of Jesus’ whole being completely changed up there, to the other changes for Jesus and for them that would be coming! 

The good news for us on the mountain and for the three friends of Jesus is that no matter what happens or will happen, Jesus will be walking with us all the way.

 Matthew 17:1-9

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.

Far From Being a World that Loves

 Don’t mistreat or oppress an immigrant, because you were once immigrants in the land of Egypt.  Don’t treat any widow or orphan badly.  
If you do treat them badly and they cry out to me, you can be sure that I’ll hear their cry.
Exodus 22 21-23

The chapters around these verses are hard to read…because so much has changed. We now know that slavery is just plain wrong.  It took a few thousand years to get the message that slavery is an evil.  God takes us—and took our ancestors—where we are at.  God does the best that God can with us, and slowly teaches us new ways of discovering what is right and wrong, what is loving and what is not. But even with slavery officially over, racism still swirls around like a bunch of buzzards, look for some “road-kill” to pounce upon; somebody or some group to put down because they are different than us.

Thank God for Jesus!  With him we really get going into the law of love, which makes all the other things we need to do fall right into place.  Yet with racism and concern for individual nations’ interests, we are still very far away from being a world that loves.

How are you and your family about loving…I mean everybody?

Exodus 22:21-23

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.

The Benefits of Fasting

Fasting from food can be a wonderful practice that cleanses the heart as well as the body.  John Wesley named fasting as one of the “Means of Grace”—what we can do to prepare our hearts for God’s grace to flow within us.  Prayer, Bible study, Holy Communion and conversations that are uplifting to others, are also means of grace.

I suggest that you spend some time with your parents to learn about the benefits of fasting.  Just Google “Benefits of Fasting” and see what you and your family can learn and practice that responds to the teaching of Jesus. 

Matthew 6:16–34

Fridays are dedicated to the Gospels. This being Year A,
the first year in the cycle, we generally read from the Gospel of Matthew.

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.

Lifted High with Jesus

In seven verses, St. Paul gathers the whole meaning of Christ’s coming from heaven to save us, then returning to heaven, continuing to share his glory with us.  The verses are like a dancer or Olympic ice skater—hands way high, then dropping down, then lifted high again.  

As you read, feel this movement inside yourself. While Jesus returned to heaven after the resurrection, the Holy Spirit continues to live inside us.  So when you go through your own ups and downs in your feelings, know that joy and peace are right behind any negative feelings, ready to lift you high once again.

Philippians 2

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.

My Heart on Fire with Your Love

Precious metals like gold and silver are placed in a very hot oven to burn away any impurities or other minerals that have no value to them.  Verse 6 of our Psalm for today uses this idea when the writer shares the meaning of God’s Word for him. “The Lord’s promises are pure, like silver that’s been refined in an oven, purified seven times over!”

Here is a Bible Breath, as you imagine the fire of God’s love burning away all that distracts you, leaving you one with God and God’s love—three syllables on the inhale, three on the exhale, and one for the rest before your breathing cycle beings again.  Here is the Bible Breath: “My heart on fire with Your love.”

 Psalm 12

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.

Quiet in the Mountains

Imagine that you are in a beautiful cabin in the mountains.  The air is clear, the mountains encircle you like someone giving you a hug.  From this wonderful spot, listen to verses 10 and 11 from today’s reading from the Book of Proverbs.

“Wisdom will enter your mind, and knowledge will fill you with delight. Discretion will guard you; understanding will protect you.” Even though these words are abstract, imagine that you are tasting them.  Let today be a special day of reflection on your life, taking the mountain images as ones of retreat, reflection and keeping what you really want in life in line with the daily inspirations of God’s holy Word. Think, reflect, and maybe write out what some of these Proverbs mean to you in your own words. 

Proverbs 2

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.

Enemies Becoming Friends

Isaiah’s words from God are so powerful that they stretch from his own time, eight centuries before Christ, to our own day. Like vibrations from a musical instrument, his words also flow into the future. “The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat; the calf and the young lion will feed[together, and a little child will lead them.”

Like a symphony building up with final sweeping movements, Isaiah announces the final victory of God, as enemies finally find themselves to be friends.

Our reading ends with these lovely words: “The earth will surely be filled with the knowledge of the Lord, just as the water covers the sea.”  Spend some time with this image as the Word fills your heart.

Isaiah 11

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.