Writing, Reading, and Words

November 4, 2013

Restoring the Temple

By Benoni Silva-Netto |
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Benoni R. Silva-Netto is a Professor at Union Theological Seminary in the Philippines and the Associate General Secretary of the General Council on Ministry of The United Methodist Church.

Disciplines: A Book of Daily Devotions is a longstanding—and beloved—resource published by Upper Room Books every year. Each week’s readings  reflect on scripture passages in the lectionary for that period.

In 2013 you can not only read these daily devotions but also comment on them, ask the writer a question, and respond to others who are reading the same material each day. We are looking forward to building a community of Disciplines readers! Just sign in and add your comment in the Comments section following the Monday blog post.

Each Monday an introduction and the initial reading for the week will be posted. Come back to this Monday post throughout the week to continue the conversation about the week’s readings and prayers.

Read Haggai 1:15b–2:9

The prophet Haggai encourages the people of God to rebuild the Temple that was destroyed many years earlier. For two decades after the exile and the homecoming, the Jews have planted crops and built homes, but the house of the Lord remains in ruins. People recalled the splendor and glory of Solomon’s temple; how were they to create such an edifice now? Ezra 3 relates the weeping of those who envisioned the previous Temple when compared to the one being rebuilt. Yet the Temple had been a sacred place where people communed with the Holy.

For Haggai, restoring the building seems to be as important an act of worship and faithful obedience as praying or singing praise to God. Worship is essentially intimacy with God. I have experienced such intimacy often in times of solitude, within the cloistered spaces of my consciousness, within the hallowed hall of my soul, within the sacred spaces of my spirit, within the holy corridors of my personal life, within the inner chambers of my solitary existence. But there remains an invitation to meet God also within the temples of worship where we join God’s people in fellowship and worship. This community can light the spark of passion and faith within me.

People from across different cultures worship in different kinds of places: within magnificent cathedrals in Europe or the U.S., or within thatched huts and mud-bricked buildings in Africa, or within the bamboo and coconut buildings in rural Philippines. Many places represent the feeble attempts of God’s people to respond to the call to build or rebuild God’s Temple.

O God, grant that your invitation to meet you in the sacred places and intimate spaces of our lives continues to be compelling and immensely irresistible. Amen.

 
October 28, 2013

“Write the Vision; Make it Plain”

By Elise Eslinger |
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Disciplines: A Book of Daily Devotions is a longstanding and beloved resource published by Upper Room Books every year. Each week’s readings reflect on scripture passages in the lectionary for that period. Each Monday an introduction and the initial reading for the week will be posted. Come back to this Monday post throughout the week to continue the conversation about the week’s readings and prayers. Just sign in and add your comment in the Comments section following the Monday blog post.

Read Habakkuk 1:1-4; 2:1-4
“Write the vision plainly, so that a runner may read it” (author’s paraphrase). What challenging words to launch our reflections this week! I wonder how a response plays out in our digital culture—perhaps with a blinking display on one of those huge signs? What is the vision posted on this sign—or in our texting and tweeting?

“Why do you make me see wrongdoing and look at trouble? Destruction and violence are before me; strife and contention arise.” I know how that plays out in our digital culture: we cannot escape instant images of war, famine, natural disasters, murder on the streets, much less the strife and contention ever visible in families, government bodies, and churches. It’s overwhelming—what can one person do? “The righteous live by their faith.” Oh dear, oh yes. How does that play out personally and communally, on behalf of God’s shalom intentions, in any kind of culture, in any time or place?

The prophet Habakkuk experiences times of great besiegement; yet after voicing his complaint, he chooses to keep watch and to await God’s response. What a contrast to many of our contemporary behavior patterns; yet, our hearts are called even now to such attentiveness and trust. We need certainly to lament authentically; to pray honest complaint; and then to listen, look, watch, and pray for guidance. Perhaps our opened eyes will come to see how God is at work in our beleaguered world, and our ears will hear the call to participate in that grace. We may be urged not only to “write the vision; make it plain,” but, indeed, to live it plainly, just as the saints have through the ages.

God of the ages, we thank you for the vision written plainly in the life of Jesus and pray that we who follow him will bear faithful witness. Amen.

Elise Eslinger is a consultant in worship, music, and spiritual formation; compiler and editor of The Upper Room Worshipbook; and adjunct faculty member for the Academy for Spiritual Formation, living in Dayton, Ohio.

 
July 5, 2013

Jesus, God of Laughter

By Michial Miller |
0
 
Michial Miller

The ceiling is far above me as I am so small in this place.  It is as if I am sitting in the belly of some large, brick beast.  The sanded smooth wood propping up the roof act as ribs, creaking in sway as the wind passes over.  There are pops and snaps echoing amongst the walls against the skin of glass saints painted with colorful variety. … read

 
May 20, 2013

God’s Wisdom, Hope, and Promise

By Laurence Stookey |
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Laurence Hull Stookey is the retired Professor of Preaching and Worship at Wesley Theological Seminary and the Pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church in Allen, Maryland.

Disciplines: A Book of Daily Devotions is a longstanding—and beloved—resource published by Upper Room Books every year. Each week’s readings are reflections on scripture passages in the lectionary for that period.

In 2013 you can not only read these daily devotions but also comment on them, ask the writer a question, and respond to others who are reading the same material each day. We are looking forward to building a community of Disciplines readers! Just sign in and add your comment in the Comments section following the Monday blog post.

Each Monday an introduction and the initial reading for the week will be posted. Come back to this Monday post throughout the week to continue the conversation about the week’s readings and prayers.

Read Proverbs 8:1-4
A casual reading of the opening lines of Proverbs 8 can seem to imply that what is known as “The Poem to Lady Wisdom” suggests the honoring of two deities: God the Lord and a female consort. But before jumping to that conclusion, ponder the fact that the Hebrew language has no neuter. Every noun must be designated as either “he” or “she”; there is no “it” available.
Further, poetic texts are not intended to be the basis of literalistic rationalism. Instead they are meant to stretch our imagination and send us off prepared for new insights, for deeper understanding. Wisdom is indeed a crucial attribute of the one God. But Lady Wisdom is neither a goddess nor a consort; let alone is she a temptress. But she graciously offers her priceless gifts to all who will listen in the public square, at the crossroads, at the gates and entrance portals of the town.
Who among us does not need and seek a greater depth of knowledge in order that we may more fully serve God? Perhaps we despair at achieving this. Despair may be justified if we try to manufacture wisdom ourselves. Today’s reading reveals that what we seek has been characteristic of God since before creation and is available to us because it is in accord with the interior desire of the One whom we serve.
In the history of Christian thought and piety, divine wisdom as found in the book of Proverbs becomes the foundation upon which have been built our understanding of the Word of God (logos) and indeed of the Trinity itself. This we shall explore more fully as we pray our way through the week ahead.
Gracious God, to all who truly seek you, grant the holy wisdom that has forever been at the center of your redemptive love for your world. Amen.

 
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