Refined by Fire

Fire is wonderful and mysterious: it warms, it burns, it cooks.  Yet fire can be very destructive.   It can also be used to burn away what is worthless in a piece of precious metal, such as silver, so that only the pure, precious silver is left.

If you have ever been burned, you know how painful it is.  Sometimes our souls can feel like they are burning, for example, if someone hurts our feelings, or we feel anger like a kind of fire inside us.  Today’s reading will help you understand this burning sensation as way of having your soul purified, so that you can feel the light and power of God’s love inside you.  

When bad things happen to you, turn your eyes to the Lord and say, “Lord, show me what I can learn from what I am suffering to make me more like you, who suffered and died for me.”

Zechariah 13

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.

On the Shoulders of Saints

He was trying to see who Jesus was, but, being a short man, he couldn’t because of the crowd.  So he ran ahead and climbed up a sycamore tree so he could see Jesus, who was about to pass that way. Luke 18:3-4

Zacchaeus, the tax collector, was a short, little man. Just as other tax collectors, he was hired by the Romans to bang on the doors of God’s people and get them to pay their taxes to Rome.   They were hated by the Hebrew people.  As short as he was, Zacchaeus bowed his head even lower, as he walked about the streets of Jerusalem.  He didn’t look at others in the eye, so that he wouldn’t have to catch their dirty looks. 

Watch how all this changes when he learns that Jesus is coming down the main street.  He climbs up a tree to get a better look, way above the crowd, who were so very happy that Jesus was passing by.  His face and head are up.  Jesus and he make eye contact; a gentle shock of joy passes through Zaccaheus’s body as he and Jesus smile at each other. That was the beginning of a new life for him.  Next comes the joy of a meal together and a life dedicated to serving Jesus.

As happens this year, very often this Gospel occurs on All Saints’ Sunday.   Just as I sat on my Dad’s shoulders when I was a child, just as Zacchaeus in the tree, it is as though we are sitting on the shoulders of beautiful friends and relatives, saints who have passed on to us, their faith in Jesus and were filled with his love.  They helped us to see Jesus more clearly and to follow him more closely. Let us thank God for all the saints in our lives.

Luke 19:1-10

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.

Creation Restarted

A kind of second creation happens with Noah.  Because of the vast effects of sin, God decides to start all over again.  Back come the waters flowing over the earth—something like the way everything began in the first verses of Genesis.Yet God does not really have to start all over again.  There is one good man with his family—Noah. Through him, God restarts creation.

God can use you to restart God’s life and love in others through you!  When you are faithful to who you are, that sends a strong message to others to be the same, and not to let the “waters” of their own selfish plans wash over and flood them.  When we do what God wants, God sends us something like the ark to protect us. That ark is the body of Christ!

Genesis 6:9-22; 8:1-12

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.

Silence: Barrier to Badness

Jesus doesn’t have very much to say when he stands before Pilate.  But what it comes to Herod, Jesus says nothing at all, as Herod tries to have Jesus do some miracle, as though what Jesus was about was performing magic.  Jesus does’t say anything—just complete silence!  Herod cannot find anything to get Jesus to do what he wants.

Sometimes there are those who pick and poke at us to get us to do something they want, just because for some weird reason they like to control us.  Simple silence can be a way of turning the negative forces back on the other so that they can hear their own voice and decide to stop bothering you.  Silence is like a barrier to badness.  With God’s help, we never need lose peace in our hearts. 

 Luke 23:1-12

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.

Seed of Christians

“The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians”! So wrote an ancient, Christian spiritual writer named Tertullian, in the year 197 AD.  As inspiration for this famous saying, he was aware of the story of the sower in the Gospels.  The seed falling into the ground is the source of life for the new plant to grow—the way God’s life grows.  He also was thinking of what Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit”  (John 12:24). 

So there they were: Christians standing in prayer as they are about to be mauled by lions.  The witness of how they died became a source of strength to others to come to believe in the life of Jesus who died for them.  The martyrs were willing to die, because they believed they would rise like Jesus.  And so it is for us!

Revelation 18:21-24

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.

The Bad Bursts Away

Imagine what it would be like to have a ten-cylinder engine for the family car!  The biggest ones around are eight cylinders…and not too many of those; the most common are cars with four cylinders.

Well, today your day can be powered by a “ten-cylinder” engine!  What I mean are the ten verses of today’s psalm that can have you move through your day with the power of God.  We often call this power, “grace.”  With God’s grace, you can block negative forces that might be coming against you—the meanness of others, the nasty, critical words that someone might say to you.

There’s one word in this Psalm that can counter the bad effects of any other words.  It’s “Alleluia,” which means, “Praise the Lord.”  Like poking a hole in a big balloon, “Alleluia” bursts the bad away.

Psalm 146

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.

Those Who Inspire

On and on we read about the story of evil kings and their evil deeds, desperate to hold onto power.  Good kings seem up against it, given that bad kings come before and after them, pressing them like bookends.

Recall what I wrote about yesterday and how the Bible is reflected in the life of Jesus and in our own lives.  Read about the special protection of God for Joash.  It reminds us of the protection God gave to Moses and Jesus in their births.

The holy priest Jehoiada was a great inspiration to Joash.  But when Jehoiada died, Joash slipped into the evil ways of the kings before him.  Who are the ones in your life that inspire you to be good and to prepare yourself for the special future that God has in store for you?

 2 Chronicles 22:10-12; 24:1-4;13-16

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.