Pro-Semitism

Thursdays: The New Testament
Romans 11

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Imagine a child disinterested in the gift of a toy. The parent says, “Well, if you don’t want it, I’ll give it to the child down the street who will love to have it.” Sometimes this causes a fresh interest in the toy. Verse 11 is Paul’s way of saying something similar with respect to the Jews; he hopes that a holy jealousy might quicken desires in them to embrace the Good News.

If only this chapter were carefully meditated upon, the ages-long, “anti”in semitism might have been changed to “pro.” Instead, the child down the street who receives the unwanted gift comes back to bully and taunt the child who originally received it.

Do not boast about the gifts God has given you. Rather humbly and fully receive them. Allow your expressions of wonder and praise for God to increase until your whole being is living the final verse of the reading.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
A remnant chosen by grace v. 5
Root holy; branches holy v. 16
Remaining in Your kindness v. 22
Depth of the riches of God v. 33

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the ninth of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.(The first week occurred at the end of the season of Epiphany.)
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Thursdays are dedicated to the New Testament, except the Gospels.


Today’s Image courtesy of http://guardianlv.com

Dancing in the Morning

Wednesdays: The Psalms
Psalm 30

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Place the grief over the loss of the Temple in the Book of Lamentations against this song attributed to David at the dedication of the Temple. Sadness and joy are set against each other in this psalm, with its message of ultimate joy for those who trust in the Lord. Surely, this prayer comes from David’s recollection of the triumph over Goliath, and the sadness of Saul’s destructive jealousy.

Whatever emotions you are experiencing as you come to this psalm, they are all present as a collage of verses. Link up with the ones that are taking place as you begin to read, allowing the Spirit to transform all your feelings into an immense joy in God’s presence.

The Hebrew word for “joy”in verse 11 is rinnah, meaning a joy that is so strong that it sends the person into a whirling dance. The Lord wants to give you joy—intense, explosive, dance-like, and expanding. Get ready: this kind of joy can come for you, even when you get up in the morning!

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
I cried to You; You healed me. v. 2
Your favor for a lifetime v. 5
Weep at night; joy in morning v. 5
My mourning turned to dancing v. 11

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the ninth of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Wednesdays are dedicated to the Psalms,
one each week over the three-year cycle.

Today’s image courtesy of http://deebrestin.com

Two Giants

Tuesdays: The Hebrew “Writings”

1 Samuel 17—19

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Fear shakes the hands and hearts of the Israelites as they learn about Goliath, the great giant of their Philistine enemy. He eclipses God’s presence to the people, but not for David. Confidently aware of the presence of his God, far greater than the power of any giant, David stalks closer to his enemy. A tiny stone hurled with focus is enough to make the giant drop—how like the mustard seed of last Sunday’s parable!

If fear overwhelms God’s people, another destructive emotion, once small, now a “giant,”burns away in the heart of King Saul—jealousy. The Philistines are a relatively easy match for David; however, now he spends much of his time hiding from Saul as this wicked king pursues God’s anointed, instead of God’s enemies.

“Religious”people often chew each other up by jealousy and still another giant—gossip! Reflect upon the many lessons that these chapters can stir within you.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
I come in the name of God. 17:45
The battle belongs to You. 17:47
Trusting in the sling and stone 17:50
Souls united in You, Lord 18:1

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the ninth of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Tuesdays are dedicated the Hebrew “Writings.”

Today’s image courtesy of http://www.chrisgibbs.net
 

Creative Burning

Mondays: The Prophets
Lamentations 1—2

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

On or about this time, Jewish people grieve over the destruction of two Temples (August 5, 2014). The first is the one Solomon dedicated in 959 B.C., destroyed on the 9th day of the month of Ab, July 18, 587 B.C. The other Temple is the one rebuilt after the Exile, which the Romans destroyed in 70 A.D. The synagogue readings are from the Book of Lamentations, attributed to Jeremiah.

The verses of the first four chapters of the book are an acrostic, similar to some psalms. Each verse begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet—every three verses, for chapter 3.

Ink: the word means “to burn.” The Spirit transforms the burning fires of overwhelming grief into a precious book of the Bible. Will you allow the Spirit to burn creatively inside of you as you face great losses in your life?

1:12 applies to the sufferings of Jesus—then and now.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Close to me, the Comforter 1:16
Groans of the Spirit within 1:22
Suffering shared in silence 2:10
My heart poured out like water 2:19

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the ninth of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Mondays are dedicated to the Prophets; in this season, we continue reading Isaiah.

Today’s image courtesy of http://seedstuff.blogspot.com

“Ink” – An Alphabyte

Alphabytes are object meditations
that move through the alphabet two times
in the course of the fifty-two weeks in the year.
“Ink” introduces the Ninth Week in Pentecost.

Nick reads the Alphabyte.

Wood-pounded, mashed, soaked, dried —paper,
    made white to bear pen’s piercing mark…
    Body—pounded, mashed, soaked, open, is Jesus on that wooden death—
    heart pierced to open the sacred flow.

Ink—it means “to burn.”
Old burnt offerings are no longer needed;
    only the heart aflame will do for God.
Take the open, white space that waits to serve you.
Pause, pen poised for the promptings of God, calling you to be poet and prophet,
    faithful to the peace the Spirit gives.
Let the Spirit shape the fingers as you watch and see the Word become flesh,
    burning the paper—burning the heart.

Fire-Seeds

Sundays: The Gospels from the Lectionary
Matthew 13:31-33; 44-52

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

Jesus presents five images as ways to understand the Kingdom of Heaven. All of them, especially the first four, have something in common. What is it? A hint: Firestarters might be included in the list.

The first two illustrations are similar: something small becomes big over time. The flowers that are delighting your summer were once seeds in the ground. Each day they were stitched from within until their leaves and petals played in the sun. The persistence of planted seeds has something to do with the Kingdom of Heaven: it grows inside of you.

The time you spend with the Word each day is as a fire-seed for what can grow within you during the day, then day after day, until your whole life is bathed in the awareness that God is reigning, protecting, covering, and directing your life. What other words and images can you discover to express what the Kingdom means to you?

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
Kingdom like a mustard seed v. 31
My life leavened by Your word v. 33
Treasure hidden in my heart v. 44
Finding the pearl of great price v. 45

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

This is the ninth of thirteen weeks in Pentecost, Year A.
See “Solar and Sacred Seasons” in the menu above.
Sundays are dedicated to the Gospels from
The Revised Common Lectionary.

Image courtesy of http://simplyfreshdinners.com

Stepping-Stones

Saturdays: The Sabbath Torah Portions
Numbers 33

Click or touch “Firestarter”
To listen to Nick read the one-minute introduction.

The history of all the people that came to the United States through Ellis Island is available in massive data banks—where each person came from, on what boat, and to what city each migrated.

Interest in connecting to one’s roots is at the heart of this chapter summarizing the history and geography of the Exodus. At this half-way point in the forty-year wandering, God wants those born after the Exodus to know the stepping-stones that enabled them to come to where they are now. A map of the Exodus will help you see the journey, just as a “dot-to-dot” child’s game helps to bring the latent picture into awareness.

Your life will seem as aimless as wandering dots, unless you take time to note the stepping-stones along your path. Each is a point of grace that has taken you to where you are right now. Connect the dots in your life so that the whole picture of what God is doing with you can emerge.

The Reading for Today
Text     Audio

Bible Breaths
What are these?
The steppingstones of my life v. 1
Clearing inner space for You v. 52
You with me, along my path
Trusting in what lies ahead

Click or touch the image
for the version for children and families.

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 third part.
For more about the Torah portions and thoughtful commentaries, visit
The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Today’s image courtesy of http://www.osageumc.org