Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry 2nd Day of Christmas!

And the word became flesh and dwelt among us. – JOHN 1:14

This is what Bethlehem is really about. He became one with us and for us. Never again could a human being say, “My God does not understand what it means to live on this earth.” The mystery of His great love is the reason why Bethlehem is our home. It was His first.

Our prayers today are gratitude for the Incarnation.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and worshipped him. –MATTHEW 2:11

If home is where the heart is, then Bethlehem today is home for each of us. “Come, Desire of nations, come! Fix in us Thy humble home.” That line of the carol

says it all as we draw near. We have so much to say to this Child of heaven and of earth.

Let your heart speak to Him.

Monday, December 24, 2012

No one has ever seen God. It is God, the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known. – JOHN 1:18

This is the Christmas story in one verse. This Child, approachable by poor shepherds and townfolk, by travelers from the ends of the earth and by every sincere seeker since then, is ours. The face of God’s love is revealed this night in a Baby cradled in a manger. No more can be said.

In awe and thanksgiving, we draw near to the heart of God

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Unless the Lord builds the house those who build it labor in vain. –PSALM 127:1

 There are two aspects to our spiritual journey. There is the work we choose to do and there is the grace of God to help us. The psalmist reminds us of this second element. We are often such doers that we forget to ask God to aid us. The Lord longs to support us as we build that spiritual home.

We will be aware this day that our Christmas welcome to Jesus depends on both our soul work and on God’s grace.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than live in the tents of wickedness. –PSALM 84:10
The doorkeeper might be as physically far from the great ritual actions of the Temple as one could be, but it was a place of privilege. It was he who welcomed pilgrims home to the house of the Lord. Could we offer a similar welcome to someone this day by being Christlike, consciously, in life’s ordinary demands?

Let us be aware of our role as doorkeepers of the Good News of Jesus.

Friday, December 21, 2012

And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. –PSALM 23:6

 Only the psalmist knows the deepest meaning of what he says here. It probably stems from his desire to feel as elated and close to the Lord every day as he feels when he walks into the Temple courtyard on a festival day. Every day cannot be Christmas either, but we can dwell in the presence of God each day. All it takes is our desire.

Our prayer for today: Dwell in me as I long to be a home for you.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth where righteousness is at home. – 2 PETER 3:13

Righteousness, being in a loving relationship with God, is one of the key concepts in the Bible. The author of this letter weaves it into the very nature of God’s promises coming to fulfillment. We need to remember that it is not some alien idea but part of our call from God. Thus He challenges us to be part of this new world where we and our neighbors stand together in justice. What step might we take today to make God’s dream come true?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

We would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. – 2 CORINTHIANS 5:8

Paul, battered, persecuted and torn by the needs of his new communities, is looking forward to his final rest. He uses the lovely image of being “at home” with the Lord to express this. Jesus has come into our world to be at home with us and one day we will finally be at home with Him. Full circle! Let us reflect this day on the phrase “at home with the Lord.”

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

“If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come and stay at my home.” –ACTS 16:15

Lydia warmly offers hospitality to Paul with these words, but they could so easily be our invitation to Jesus in prayer. They do carry a condition – “If you have judged me to be faithful” – but that is really our everyday challenge, isn’t it? “Come and stay at my home.” Let us invite Jesus with Lydia’s warmth.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. – JOHN 14:3

In all the busyness of these weeks, here are words to warm our often distracted souls. Jesus is looking to make a home in the hearts of any who love Him and prove it by keeping His word. Which of His teachings do we have the greatest difficulty incorporating into our lives?

Choose your favorite word of Jesus to be your companion for this day.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. –LUKE 10:38

What a gift to be able to welcome Jesus into one’s home. Like Martha, that is really what we are about this Advent, making those little changes so that Jesus will feel at home when Christmas comes.

Let us listen for anyone who knocks at our soul’s door today. Can we welcome them?

Saturday, December 15, 2012

“Go home to your friends, and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and what mercy he has shown you.” –MARK 5:19

Here is an apostle in the making since this man is told to spread the good news. And look at what he is to say: how much the Lord has done and what mercy – what life-giving grace – has come to him. What a powerful message!

Recount the blessings of the Lord to you in prayer this day.

Friday, December 14, 2012

“I say to you, stand up, take your mat and go to your home.” –MARK 2:11

As a cripple and so a sinner, this young man might not have been welcomed home in a long time. Jesus is sending him back to mend those ties and to bring joy to others who might have been shunned by their neighbors. This is a day for rejoicing in the truth that seeing with new light is always possible.

What new eyes do we need to develop this day to welcome someone?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

“Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” – JOHN 7:42

It is so easy to forget. These objectors in Jerusalem have no idea where Jesus was born. For them He originates where they think He came from, a backward area to the north where one’s accent betrays one’s place of birth. How sure and how wrong they are!

Have we some equally inaccurate judgments that we are holding against others?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us. –LUKE 2:15

The shepherds are the first of so many to decide they need to make a journey out of the routine of their ordinary lives to see for themselves something that God has done beyond their fields. They journey together to explore the new.

Explore in prayer what God has done in your life to call you beyond your “fields.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

David said longingly, “O that someone would give me to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate.” – 2 SAMUEL 23:15

In a biblical anecdote meant to exalt the valor of David’s warriors, we hear the young leader’s careless words about his heart’s desire – water from home to which nothing else can compare. His warriors brave the enemy’s lines to get him that water, water that becomes too precious to drink when David realizes they have risked their lives to fulfill his wish.

This might be the day to speak carefully, knowing that our words have impact beyond what we might think.

Monday, December 10, 2012

But David went back and forth from Saul to feed his father’s sheep at Bethlehem. – 1 SAMUEL 17:15

David, secretly anointed to succeed Saul, cannot claim his destiny until Saul dies. Here we see his somewhat mundane existence, still tending his family’s sheep while making music for the soul of the troubled king, Saul. It is a picture of patience and duty that we might have missed.

“Back and forth” indicates tedium. Does that apply to anything in our lives?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. –RUTH 1:19

Ruth and Naomi are coming into Bethlehem as exhausted widows, without family or means of support. They are the poorest of the biblical poor, widows, for whom the Bible is so solicitous. Met at
the city gate by Naomi’s old friends, they turn tired, worried faces to this welcoming circle.

Who needs a welcome from us today?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel. –MICAH 5:2

Micah’s dream is of the destiny to which tiny Bethlehem is pointed. It might be home for an insignificant tribe, but it can also produce a ruler for Israel with the ability to unite all the tribes into a nation.

“David’s city” is later applied to Jerusalem, this new capital. Men will forget that the name belonged first to this site that birthed Israel’s most famous king.

It takes so little to aim a spotlight elsewhere, but Bethlehem knows her destiny. On what should we focus today?

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; –LUKE 2:4

Joseph’s family, of the tribe of Judah, would have called Bethlehem home for many generations. Part of its appeal is hidden in the Hebrew name of the little town. It means “house of bread” and so it invites us to both spiritual and physical fulfillment.

For what are we most famished as we begin this Advent journey?