Monday, February 8, 2016

Praise the Lord

Sacred Gifts and Holy Gatherings
Holy Days

Feast of Weeks

Psalm 147:1-11  The Message

147 Hallelujah!
It’s a good thing to sing praise to our God;
    praise is beautiful, praise is fitting.
2-6 God’s the one who rebuilds Jerusalem,
    who regathers Israel’s scattered exiles.
He heals the heartbroken
    and bandages their wounds.
He counts the stars
    and assigns each a name.
Our Lord is great, with limitless strength;
    we’ll never comprehend what he knows and does.
God puts the fallen on their feet again
    and pushes the wicked into the ditch.
7-11 Sing to God a thanksgiving hymn,
    play music on your instruments to God,
Who fills the sky with clouds,
    preparing rain for the earth,
Then turning the mountains green with grass,
    feeding both cattle and crows.
He’s not impressed with horsepower;
    the size of our muscles means little to him.
Those who fear God get God’s attention;
    they can depend on his strength.


For Reflection 
Copy and paste me into your browser.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0RZTYDPavEY

Pray
Sing your own song of praise.

Friday, February 5, 2016

When Your Children Ask

Sacred Gifts and Holy Gatherings
Holy Days

Passover

Joshua 4:1-7  The Message

1-3 When the whole nation was finally across, God spoke to Joshua: “Select twelve men from the people, a man from each tribe, and tell them, ‘From right here, the middle of the Jordan where the feet of the priests are standing firm, take twelve stones. Carry them across with you and set them down in the place where you camp tonight.’”
4-7 Joshua called out the twelve men whom he selected from the People of Israel, one man from each tribe. Joshua directed them, “Cross to the middle of the Jordan and take your place in front of the Chest of God, your God. Each of you heft a stone to your shoulder, a stone for each of the tribes of the People of Israel, so you’ll have something later to mark the occasion. When your children ask you, ‘What are these stones to you?’ you’ll say, ‘The flow of the Jordan was stopped in front of the Chest of the Covenant of God as it crossed the Jordan—stopped in its tracks. These stones are a permanent memorial for the People of Israel.’”

For Reflection 
Pass your faith on to your children.  Involve them in the rituals of your faith.  Talk to them about God and Jesus.  Tell them the stories of God and God's people.  Instruct them in the ways of Christian ethics.  Provide them with opportunities for learning about God's will for justice, peace, forgiveness and grace.

Pray
that you will instruct by your righteousness.  Pray that all children will find their way in truth and light.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Detailed Instructions

Sacred Gifts and Holy Gatherings
Holy Days

Passover

Numbers 9:1-13  The Message

Passover

1-3 God spoke to Moses in the Wilderness of Sinai in the first month of the second year after leaving Egypt: “Have the People of Israel celebrate Passover at the set time. Celebrate it on schedule, on the evening of the fourteenth day of this month, following all the rules and procedures.”
4-5 Moses told the People of Israel to celebrate the Passover and they did—in the Wilderness of Sinai at evening of the fourteenth day of the first month. The People of Israel did it all just as God had commanded Moses.
6-7 But some of them couldn’t celebrate the Passover on the assigned day because they were ritually unclean on account of a corpse. So they presented themselves before Moses and Aaron on Passover and told Moses, “We have become ritually unclean because of a corpse, but why should we be barred from bringing God’s offering along with other Israelites on the day set for Passover?”
Moses said, “Give me some time; I’ll find out what God says in your circumstances.”
9-12 God spoke to Moses: “Tell the People of Israel, If one or another of you is ritually unclean because of a corpse, or you happen to be off on a long trip, you may still celebrate God’s Passover. But celebrate it on the fourteenth day of the second month at evening. Eat the lamb together with unraised bread and bitter herbs. Don’t leave any of it until morning. Don’t break any of its bones. Follow all the procedures.
13 “But a man who is ritually clean and is not off on a trip and still fails to celebrate the Passover must be cut off from his people because he did not present God’s offering at the set time. That man will pay for his sin.

For Reflection 
Participation in rituals is extremely important.  The function of set patterns is to remind us of the relationship we have to God.  It is within a pattern that we feel the comfort of our faith and the support of the fellowship of others that practice our faith.

Pray
Pray that you will participate in the rituals of you faith in such a way that preforming the ritual will sanctify your action.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Eighth Plague

Sacred Gifts and Holy Gatherings
Holy Days

Passover

Exodus 10:12-20  The Message

12 God said to Moses: “Stretch your hand over Egypt and signal the locusts to cover the land of Egypt, devouring every blade of grass in the country, everything that the hail didn’t get.”
13 Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt. God let loose an east wind. It blew that day and night. By morning the east wind had brought in the locusts.
14-15 The locusts covered the country of Egypt, settling over every square inch of Egypt; the place was thick with locusts. There never was an invasion of locusts like it in the past, and never will be again. The ground was completely covered, black with locusts. They ate everything, every blade of grass, every piece of fruit, anything that the hail didn’t get. Nothing left but bare trees and bare fields—not a sign of green in the whole land of Egypt.
16-17 Pharaoh had Moses and Aaron back in no time. He said, “I’ve sinned against your God and against you. Overlook my sin one more time. Pray to your God to get me out of this—get death out of here!”
18-19 Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to God. God reversed the wind—a powerful west wind took the locusts and dumped them into the Red Sea. There wasn’t a single locust left in the whole country of Egypt.
20 But God made Pharaoh stubborn as ever. He still didn’t release the Israelites.

For Reflection
The essence of the Passover is lodged in the protection that God gives freely to God's people.  That God's people will be a sign of God's power and grace is part of the great covenant between God and humankind.  Even in the face of strong evidence of the majesty and healing power of the Holy Spirit not all will accept God's reign.

Pray
for those who know of God's power and grace and yet ignore God's invitation for reconciliation.  Pray that you will abide in the grace of God in humility and obedience to God's holy word.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

The Last Passover

Sacred Gifts and Holy Gatherings
Holy Days

Passover

Matthew 26:20-30  The Message

20-21 After sunset, he and the Twelve were sitting around the table. During the meal, he said, “I have something hard but important to say to you: One of you is going to hand me over to the conspirators.”
22 They were stunned, and then began to ask, one after another, “It isn’t me, is it, Master?”
23-24 Jesus answered, “The one who hands me over is someone I eat with daily, one who passes me food at the table. In one sense the Son of Man is entering into a way of treachery well-marked by the Scriptures—no surprises here. In another sense that man who turns him in, turns traitor to the Son of Man—better never to have been born than do this!”
25 Then Judas, already turned traitor, said, “It isn’t me, is it, Rabbi?”
Jesus said, “Don’t play games with me, Judas.”

The Bread and the Cup

26-29 During the meal, Jesus took and blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to his disciples:
Take, eat.
This is my body.
Taking the cup and thanking God, he gave it to them:
Drink this, all of you.
This is my blood,
God’s new covenant poured out for many people
    for the forgiveness of sins.
“I’ll not be drinking wine from this cup again until that new day when I’ll drink with you in the kingdom of my Father.”
30 They sang a hymn and went directly to Mount Olives.

For Reflection 
Often a shared meal becomes a holy event. This common every day necessity is transformed into an opportunity for deep spiritual enrichment.  It is not so much the topic of discussion that is important.  Often sharing a meal is the action which binds us to each other in the community of God.  How often do you break bread together with friends and family?  In the discussion of every day affairs, do you seek to discover God in your midst?

Pray
that you will interpret the events in your life to be Holy and centered in God's grace.  Pray that you will find spiritual sustenance in fellowship with each other and the Holy Spirit.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Jesus and the Passover

Sacred Gifts and Holy Gatherings
Holy Days


Passover

Luke 2:41-50The Message

They Found Him in the Temple

41-45 Every year Jesus’ parents traveled to Jerusalem for the Feast of Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up as they always did for the Feast. When it was over and they left for home, the child Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents didn’t know it. Thinking he was somewhere in the company of pilgrims, they journeyed for a whole day and then began looking for him among relatives and neighbors. When they didn’t find him, they went back to Jerusalem looking for him.
46-48 The next day they found him in the Temple seated among the teachers, listening to them and asking questions. The teachers were all quite taken with him, impressed with the sharpness of his answers. But his parents were not impressed; they were upset and hurt.
His mother said, “Young man, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been half out of our minds looking for you.”
49-50 He said, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that I had to be here, dealing with the things of my Father?” But they had no idea what he was talking about.

For Reflection
Why were the teachers so remarkably impressed with Jesus?  Could it be that their amazement stemmed from the fact that Jesus was not only from an artisan class, but also, perhaps, Jesus could not read!

Not many could in Jesus time.  However, not being able to read did not mean that many did not know the oral tradition scriptures. The stories of God and God's people were transmitted and received orally within a discipline of creative performance.  Thus oral tradition was quite different from scribal recordings.  Oral tradition was not just gossip, rumor or memory.  Rather things known and understood in the oral tradition were stated in terms which were used carefully and exactly as taught by oral masters to apprentices.  Thus, Jesus understandings of the meaning of scripture was enriched by the depth of the practice of the oral tradition.  Scribes and other literate religious leaders spoke from the authority of the written word.  Jesus spoke with authority from the oral tradition.  His arguments and declarations were based and evidenced in His memory and interpreted as divine guidance.  Jesus was not bound by the written word.

Pray
for wisdom as found in the written scriptures.  Pray that you will be encouraged and challenged to interpret the practice of the gospel as found in multiple versions of the Bible.  Pray that you will open your mind to God's guiding wisdom.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Death, Where Is Thy Sting

Sacred Gifts and Holy Gatherings
Four Weddings and a Funeral

The Death of a Friend

1 Corinthians 15:53-58  The Message

51-57 But let me tell you something wonderful, a mystery I’ll probably never fully understand. We’re not all going to die—but we are all going to be changed. You hear a blast to end all blasts from a trumpet, and in the time that you look up and blink your eyes—it’s over. On signal from that trumpet from heaven, the dead will be up and out of their graves, beyond the reach of death, never to die again. At the same moment and in the same way, we’ll all be changed. In the resurrection scheme of things, this has to happen: everything perishable taken off the shelves and replaced by the imperishable, this mortal replaced by the immortal. Then the saying will come true:
Death swallowed by triumphant Life!
Who got the last word, oh, Death?
Oh, Death, who’s afraid of you now?
It was sin that made death so frightening and law-code guilt that gave sin its leverage, its destructive power. But now in a single victorious stroke of Life, all three—sin, guilt, death—are gone, the gift of our Master, Jesus Christ. Thank God!
58 With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.


For Reflection 
Is there a fear worse than Death?  Is Death a result of  fear?  What fear holds you dead to righteous living? 

Courage is trust in the Lord to make all things right.


Pray
for the unreasonable trust in God that wipes out fear.