A Miracle for Elizabeth

They were both righteous before God, blameless in their observance
of all the Lord’s commandments and regulations.

Luke 1:6

With Advent this year, we begin the third and final cycle of readings. This year, what we call “Year C” is devoted to St. Luke, the third of the four evangelists.

St. Luke is the one that has the beautiful story of Jesus’ birth told from the point of view of Mary, his Mother. (St. Matthew tells the story with Joseph as the main character) The Gospel begins and ends in the temple. Be aware of how Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth were feeling—to be so old and not have had any children. It’s just too late…like Abraham and Sarah. But God’s got a miracle for Elizabeth just like Sarah. John the Baptist is going to be born from her! Read the story that is the introduction to the even more wonderful story of the birth of Jesus.

Luke 1:1-25

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Living righteous and blameless v. 6
For more information about
this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the First 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…

Comfort and Joy

Although you’ve never seen him, you love him. Even though you don’t see him now, you trust him and so rejoice with a glorious joy
that is too much for words.

1 Peter 1:8

Like the stars that are scattered across the Advent night sky, so does St. Peter write to his beloved Christians who are flung across Asia Minor, the area that is now the country of Turkey (no connection to what you ate on Thanksgiving…bad joke!)

This letter is like an Advent candle. The candle might seem powerless to push back the darkness as some great floodlight would do. St. Peter describes the people going through very hard times: persecution, jealousies, bully-fights from those who do not know God. St. Peter encourages them and lets them feel that though they are small against big attacks, still—like the Advent Candle—the darkness cannot any longer say that there is no light! Not only that, but the flame that lights the candle will also be like the fire that purifies gold and makes it shine more brightly.

So when things happen to you that frighten you or make you angry or sad, just take up this passage and pray slowly over some of the verses in the reading that will bring comfort and joy to your heart. Comfort and joy—two gifts that Jesus wants to give you this Advent and Christmas!

1 Peter 1:1-12

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
Not seeing You, I love You v. 8
For more information about this creative way to pray,
see Bible Breaths.

This is the First 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…

A Prayer in the Night

In his hand are the depths of the earth;
 the heights of the mountains are his also.

Psalm 95:4

Can you imagine this psalm being prayed in the middle of the night for centuries—about a 2 AM? How’s that for getting up early! There are religious communities who live to praise God, work and pray in God’s presence all the time. They even promise to stay in the same place all the days of their life, challenging us to be careful about all the traveling that we want to do. Jesus never went beyond the Lands that became holy by his presence.

Pray this psalm in the spirit of those who begin their day in the middle of the night. While everyone is sleeping the prayer is sung out for the whole earth, inviting all the peoples to return to the basics of life and praise God.

The middle of the night….quiet, peaceful—a good time for prayer…for you too, if you find yourself awake for awhile at that time. It’s soon to be the middle of the season when nights are much longer than days—winter. It’s in this setting that we celebrate Advent—the season to become awakened to God and God’s love in our lives.

Psalm 95

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
All the earth belongs to You. v. 4
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the First 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…

Return

AnimFireStarterNaomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back each of you to your mother’s house. May the Lord deal kindly with you,
as you have dealt with the dead and with me.

Ruth 1:8

Let’s take a journey backwards in time—thousands of years ago. On Tuesdays we’ll be reading a lovely jewel of God’s words from way back then. It is the book of Ruth. It’s a small book of only four chapters—one for each of the four weeks of Advent. In addition, there will be a theme-word that will be the title for each of the Firestarters for these weeks.

Ruth is the great-grandmother of King David an ancestor of Jesus. For ages past, God has been carefully weaving his plan like a great tapestry. Every once in awhile, some different threads enter into the weaving—in this case, a woman who is not a Hebrew marries into a Hebrew family. It’s a love story that is just beautiful. About two-thirds of the book has dialogue in them, which makes it a kind of weekly drama. Feel the emotions of the characters: enter into their lives. God is up to something with this wonderful lady—and God is up to something with you too!

Ruth 1

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:
My God deals kindly with me. v. 8
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the First 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…

 

A Human Advent Candle

    The Lord says:
    Act justly and do what is righteous,
    because my salvation is coming soon,
    and my righteousness will be revealed.

Isaiah 56:1

I suggest that you light a single candle everyday for this first week of Advent; perhaps you can make a simple four-candle Advent wreath for your family, lighting one extra candle each week as you move through the four weeks of Advent. The little light is like a seed in the darkness of your own soul, where God’s Word can grow. Our hearts become fertile by the seed of God which is God’s Word.

The reading for today talks about men who have no human seed inside them, so they cannot become fathers. But God promises a miracle for them: their lives will be fertile and fruitful in ways far beyond what it would mean to simply bear children. See if you can find the verse in the reading that tells them of these promises of God.

God’s got a wonderful future in store for you! It begins as a seed growing inside you. While this refers to the loving person that you will be as an adult and the lifework that God has in store for you, there are everyday gifts of light and love that you can be for others. Make yourself be like a human Advent candle!

 Isaiah 56

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
Being just and doing right v. 1
For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the First 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 Candle and the Shofar

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will certainly not pass away.

Luke 21:33

When the Jewish New Year begins in autumn, a leader in the congregation takes a hollowed out ram’s how and blows through it like a powerful trumpet. It’s called a Shofar. A shrill blast sounds across the countryside like a great spiritual “alarm clock” to wake up everyone whose soul is asleep. Similar to the Jewish New Year, Advent begins the Christian year. We are urged to be awake to God and God’s call upon us in life.

The first Advent candle does to the darkness what the Shofar does to the surrounding silence. The single, flickering flame calls us from darkness to light, from being forgetful about the things of God, to focus on them.

The word “Advent” means “coming.” Its a peaceful season of four Sundays with Christmas occurring during the final week, or the Sunday right after that fourth Sunday. Be sure and pick up your Bible everyday and spend quiet time for the light of the daily reading to shine upon your soul. We have to be careful to be silent and focused this season, because Malls and TV advertisements will make your eyes almost squint with all the glitter, lights and noise!
Have a blessed Advent!

Luke 21:25-36

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:

Your words will not pass away. v. 33

For more information about this creative way to pray, see Bible Breaths.

This is the First 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…

God’s Special Plan for You

 Potiphar thought highly of Joseph, and Joseph became his assistant; he appointed Joseph head of his household and put everything he had under Joseph’s supervision.

Genesis 39:4

If you were reading this Bible plan back in the fall, you’ll recall the prophet Daniel whom we were reading on Mondays. The story of Joseph here in the book of Genesis has much in common with Daniel. Both were young men held captive in foreign lands; both advanced to high places in the governments of those places, because they had the power to interpret dreams of others. Joseph’s and Daniel’s hearts were like the clear lens of a telescope that could look out, not only into the dark places of the night, but into the dark places of others’ souls.

They received these gifts from God because they were open to receive them. They could be trusted with the things of God. How about you? Will you allow God to use you whenever God wants to? To be open to this, there needs to be a good bit of time spent being aware of God—God’s power and God’s love for you. When you get in touch with this love, the next think you’ll begin to sense in your being is that God has something special for you to do in life. Just as for the cast of characters in this week’s reading—Ruth, Zechariah and Joseph—God’s got some very special plans for you.

Genesis 39—40

Here is a sample of a seven-syllable breath-prayer
from today’s reading:

God’s wisdom working within 40:9ff

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.

Calendar for 2018: “God’s Year of Grace”

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…