Spirited Wednesday


You Make the Grass Grow

10/14/2015

Scripture: Psalm 104: 33, 34 (CEB) I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I'm still alive. Let my praise be pleasing to him; I'm rejoicing in the Lord! Reflection: One of my chores as a teenager was to mow the lawn. It was a chore that always stood between me and my freedom to do what I wanted. Mowing my parent's yard was "domestic drudgery." I had other important things to do. I did not care that God made the grass and caused it to grow. Yard work was not...

Boldness Meets Weakness

10/7/2015

Scripture: Hebrews 4:16 (CJB) Therefore, let us confidently approach the throne from which God gives grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace in our time of need. Reflection: Manantial de Gracia's children & youth ministries name is based on the premise of Hebrews 4:16 (NIV) "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." The children in our church need the mercy and grace that can only be achieved by sitting at the feet of God's throne. But how can they be part of the promise if we (adults) do not allow them to be their authentic selves? </p><p> Our youth struggle in their Christian life. They count on us adults to share our wisdom, to love them as they are, and to bring them to God's Throne in prayer while they endure their trails, confusions, and doubts. The battle is not theirs; neither is it ours. The battles that we endure are God's and God's alone. Our battle weapons are the prayers that we bring to the throne, the prayers that sustain us, prayers of mercy and compassion that will bring glory and grace to the reality of our youth. On a recent Youth ...

Where Is Jesus?

9/30/2015

Scripture: Mark 10:13-16 (NRSV) People were bringing little children to him in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, 'Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.' And he took them up in his arms, laid his hands on them, and blessed ...

For or Against

9/23/2015

Mark 9:38-41 (NRSV) John said to him, "Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us." But Jesus said, "Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me. Whoever is not against us is for us. For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of Christ will by no means lose the reward." Reflection: As election season begins...

Why Us?

9/16/2015

Esther 4:14 (NRSV) For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father's family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this. REFLECTION: Feeling secure in our own homes, we watched and felt scandalized by the many images of thousands of Syrian refugees. As we drank our coffee in our comfortable chairs, the images of dead children and toddlers washed ashore ...

Who Is Jesus To You?

9/9/2015

Mark 8:27-38 (NRSV) Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way he asked his disciples, 'Who do people say that I am?' And they answered him, 'John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.' He asked them, 'But who do you say that I am?' Peter answered him, 'You are the Messiah.' And he sternly ordered them not to tell anyone about him. Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be ...

Thank You, Stranger

9/2/2015

James 2:1-17 (NRSV) My brothers and sisters, do you with your acts of favouritism really believe in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ? For if a person with gold rings and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and if a poor person in dirty clothes also comes in, and if you take notice of the one wearing the fine clothes and say, 'Have a seat here, please', while to the one who is poor you say, 'Stand there', or, 'Sit at my feet', have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become ...

Gazelles And Stags And Turtledoves... Oh My!

8/26/2015

Song of Solomon 2:8-13 (NRSV) The voice of my beloved!   Look, he comes, leaping upon the mountains,   bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle   or a young stag. Look, there he stands   behind our wall, gazing in at the windows,   looking through the lattice. My beloved speaks and says to me: Arise, my love, my fair one,   and come away; for now the winter is past,   the rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth;   the time of singing has come, and the voice of ...

Reading The Word

8/19/2015

Ephesians 6:10-20 NIV 10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, ...

Discerning Minds

8/12/2015

1 Kings 2:10-12 (NRSV) Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David. The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned for seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established. 1 Kings 3:3-14 (NRSV)) Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. The king went to Gibeon to ...

Living Bread

8/5/2015

Scripture: John 6:51 (NRSV) I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.   REFLECTION: For many of us in Twentieth Century America, bread is something that is made in a production line far away and comes in a plastic wrapper from the supermarket shelf. Often filled with preservatives and genetically modified wheat, it is frequently to be avoided. We have never seen it made, ...

Don't Just Fill Up on Bread

7/29/2015

Scripture: John 6:24-35 (NRSV) So when the crowd saw that neither Jesus nor his disciples were there, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum looking for Jesus. When they found him on the other side of the lake, they said to him, 'Rabbi, when did you come here?' Jesus answered them, 'Very truly, I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures for ...

A Ministry of Forgiveness and Reconciliation

7/22/2015

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5: 17-19 (NRSV) So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. Reflection: "I don't want to meet with them, they are going to tell...

Ponder Great Things

7/15/2015

Scripture: 2 Samuel 7: 1-9 (NRSV) Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, the king said to the prophet Nathan, 'See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.' Nathan said to the king, 'Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.' But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live...

Lift Up Your Heads!

7/8/2015

Psalm 24 (NRSV) The earth is the Lord's and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it; for he has founded it on the seas, and established it on the rivers. Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully. They will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God of their salvation. Such is the company of those ...

The Nerve of Him!

7/1/2015

Mark 6:1-3 (NRSV) He left that place and came to his home town, and his disciples followed him. On the sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They said, 'Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom that has been given to him? What deeds of power are being done by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?' And they took offence at him. ...

Cherish Life

6/24/2015

Wisdom of Solomon 1:13b (NRSV) God does not delight in the death of the living... Reflection: I kinda want to put this verse on a bumper sticker, or maybe paint it on the walls of our churches in curly calligraphy. I'd like it emblazoned on banners hung across Main Street in every major city - starting with Staten Island, Ferguson, Cleveland, and Baltimore, but moving on to my hometown and your hometown. I want it printed in big, friendly letters on business cards we could hand out by the ...

Perishing

6/17/2015

Mark 4:38 (NRSV) Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing? Reflection: In the same week as reading the report of the Pew Research Center for Religion and Public Life on the religious landscape of America, revealing a significant decline in the percentage of adult Americans who identify as Christian over the past 7 years, and especially so among those 34 years of age and younger, I also listened to a conversation between two people who I know through the living body of their work, their...

What's In A Name

6/10/2015

Psalm 92:1 (NRSV) It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to your name, O Most High Reflection: Biblically speaking, the name of a creature or a person is incredibly important, a conviction that the modern age tends to discount. Most ancient names were more than simple identifiers. They were often linguistic descriptions of the person or creature carrying that name. Hebrew prophets went so far as to name their children to embody aspects of their message, a practice probably ...

Family

6/3/2015

Mark 3:33 (NRSV) And he replied, 'Who are my mother and my brothers?' Reflection: At the beginning of Lent, one of our deacons was in the church kitchen, dutifully cubing the white bread before Communion, when he shared with a few of us that his daughter in California was getting married. Amid the congratulations and the happy questions, it took us all a minute to notice that father of the bride wasn't smiling. "What's the matter," someone asked, "don't you like her fiancee?" "Oh sure," ...

The Nicodemus In All Of Us

5/27/2015

John 3:1-17 (NRSV) Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. He came to Jesus by night and said to him, 'Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.' Jesus answered him, 'Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.' Nicodemus said to him, 'How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb ...

A Spirit of Understanding

5/20/2015

Acts 2:1-12 (NRSV) When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in ...

Who's the Liar?

5/13/2015

1 John 5:9-13 (NRSV) If we receive human testimony, the testimony of God is greater; for this is the testimony of God that he has testified to his Son. Those who believe in the Son of God have the testimony in their hearts. Those who do not believe in God have made him a liar by not believing in the testimony that God has given concerning his Son. And this is the testimony: God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God ...

Go And Do Likewise

5/6/2015

John 15:9-17 (NRSV) As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 'This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I ...

Love In Action

4/29/2015

1John 4:7 (NRSV) Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God. Reflection: What could be more essential to faith or to life than these words, "Let us love one another, because love is from God?" Dorothy Day got it, "Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up." John Lennon got it, "All you need is love." At once a commandment and an invitation, the primacy of love is that obvious. And yet it requires repeating, as the writer of First John ...

Lying Down On The Job

4/22/2015

Psalm 23 (NRSV) The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff- they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the ...

Witness

4/15/2015

Luke 24: 36-48 (NRSV) While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, 'Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.' And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While...

Longing

4/8/2015

John 20:19-22 (NRSV) When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, 'Peace be with you.' After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.' When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, '...

Contemplation

4/1/2015

John 20:1-3, 10-16 (NRSV) Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, 'They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.' Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood ...

Why Are You Doing This?

3/25/2015

Mark 11: 3-7 (NRSV) If anyone says to you, "Why are you doing this?" just say this, "The Lord needs it and will send it back here immediately." ' They went away and found a colt tied near a door, outside in the street. As they were untying it, some of the bystanders said to them, 'What are you doing, untying the colt?' They told them what Jesus had said; and they allowed them to take it. Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it; and he sat on it. Reflection: In this ...

Life Is At Work

3/18/2015

John 12:20-33 (NRSV) Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, 'Sir, we wish to see Jesus.' Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, 'The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those...

Light and Darkness

3/11/2015

John 3:14-21 (NRSV) And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. 'For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 'Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Those who believe in him are not condemned; but those who do not ...

Zeal for Your House

3/4/2015

John 2:13-17 (NRSV) The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, "Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!" His ...

Breath, Ashes, Water and Fire!

2/18/2015

Genesis Selected Verses (NRSV) 2:7 Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. 3:19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.' 9:8-17 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 'As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with ...

Disappointment

2/15/2015

Psalm 22: 1-6 CEB My God! My God, why have you left me all alone? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my anguished groans? My God, I cry out during the day, but you don't answer; even at nighttime I don't stop. You are the holy one, enthroned. You are Israel's praise. Our ancestors trusted you; they trusted you and you rescued them; they cried out to you and they were saved; they trusted you and they weren't ashamed. But I'm just a worm, less than human; insulted by one person, ...

Silence

2/11/2015

Mark 9:2-9 (NRSV) Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and John, and led them up a high mountain apart, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Then Peter said to Jesus, 'Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' He did not know what to say,...

Universal Love

2/4/2015

Isaiah 40:21-31 (The Message) Have you not been paying attention? Have you not been listening? Haven't you heard these stories all your life? Don't you understand the foundation of all things? God sits high above the round ball of earth. The people look like mere ants. He stretches out the skies like a canvas-- yes, like a tent canvas to live under. He ignores what all the princes say and do. The rulers of the earth count for nothing. Princes and rulers don't amount to much. Like seeds barely ...

Unclean Spirits

1/28/2015

Mark 1:21-28 (NRSV) They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, 'What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.' But Jesus rebuked him, saying, 'Be silent, and come out of him!' And the ...

Caught in the Word

1/21/2015

Mark 1:14-20 (NRSV) Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, 'The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.' As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake - for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, 'Follow me and I will make you fish for people.' And immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went a ...

Go and See

1/14/2015

Psalm 139:1-6 (NRSV) To the leader. Of David. A Psalm. O Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it. John 1:43-51 (NRSV) ...

Torn Apart

1/7/2015

Mark 1:4-11 (NRSV) John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. He proclaimed, 'The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not ...

The Last Word

12/31/2014

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 (New Jerusalem Bible) There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven. A time for giving birth, a time for dying; a time for uprooting what has been planted. A time for killing, a time for healing; a time for knocking down, a time for building. A time for tears, a time for laughter; a time for mourning a time for dancing. A time for throwing stones away, a time for gathering them; a time for embracing, a time to refrain from embracing. A time for ...

Listening Anew

12/24/2014

Matthew 1: 18-25 (NRSV) Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your...

Open

12/17/2014

Luke 1:30, 34-35, 38c (NRSV) The angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. Mary said to the angel, "How can this be for I am still a virgin?" The angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called the Son of God. Then Mary said, "Here am I, the servant of ...

Gaudete!

12/10/2014

Psalm 126 (NRSV) When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then it was said among the nations, "The LORD has done great things for them." The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced. Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like the watercourses in the Negeb. May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy. Those who go out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home ...

Living In Advent

12/3/2014

2 Peter 3:13-15 (NRSV) But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home. Therefore, beloved, while you are waiting for these things, strive to be found by him at peace, without spot or blemish; and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation. Reflection: It is coming. Like the armies of Babylon descending upon the tiny tribes of Israel thousands of years ago. It is coming. Can it be stopped? I am referring of course to Commercial ...

Promise

11/26/2014

Jeremiah 33:14 (NRSV) The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. Reflection: In this season of thanks and time of anticipation and as we expect and hope for the coming of the Lord, we long for the promise of God to be fulfilled. We may not expect that God's appearance will be wrapped in rags or seen in a feeding bin, as the birth story of Jesus reminds us. Nor do we expect that the appearance of God will be...

Giving Thanks for the Faithful

11/19/2014

Ephesians 1:15-23 (NRSV) I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love towards all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance ...

To Live Wisely And Well

11/12/2014

Scripture: Psalm 90:7-8,12 (The Message) [O God,] Your anger is far and away too much for us; we're at the end of our rope. You keep track of all our sins; every misdeed since we were children is entered in your books. Oh! Teach us to live well! Teach us to live wisely and well! Reflection: We've all been there - tossing and turning, wide awake, thinking of some stupid mistake we have made. Maybe we were in a hurry and backed into another car in the parking lot. Maybe we made a flip remark ...

Family Time

11/5/2014

Scripture: Joshua 24:15-18 Now if you are unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served in the region beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.' Then the people answered, 'Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods; for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of ...

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