The Upper Room Disciplines 2007: A Book of Daily Devotions [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Various Authors
eBook Category: Spiritual/Religion
eBook Description: Discover God's hope and purpose for your life. Allow God's Word to speak to you through the powerful daily meditations in the 2007 edition of The Upper Room Disciplines. If you need support establishing a daily practice of Bible study and prayer, you'll find valuable help in this annual bestseller. Think of it as a full-year's worth of The Upper Room daily devotional guide, only with meditations addressing weekly (Monday through Sunday) themes. Each of the 53 writers offers a variety of perspectives on daily Bible readings selected from the Revised Common Lectionary, which will help you reconnect with God. The Foreword, written by noted newspaper columnist and bestselling author, Ray Waddle, offers reflections on the timeless relevance of scripture. "Even in this still-new century of religious pluralism and laments about biblical illiteracy, scripture summons a person to amazement, consolation, decision, and spiritual realism," he writes. "Sometimes it whispers, sometimes shouts. Falteringly I seek it out. Or unfalteringly it finds me." Each scriptural- and real-life based meditation includes suggestions for prayer and further reflection that will help you be more open to God's love and guidance. Also included is an outline explaining how to use The Upper Room Disciplines in small groups. Writers for this edition include: Eric H. F. Law, John Indermark, Roberta Bondi, Joshua Lang, Pamela Couture, Benoni Silva-Netto, Luis F. Reyes, Michael W. O'Laughlin, Hazelyn McComas, and Roland Rink.
eBook Publisher: United Methodist Publishing House/Abingdon Press
Fictionwise Release Date: January 2007
The Peace of Israel, the Hope of Creation
January 1-7, 2007 • Amy Laura Hall
MONDAY, JANUARY 1 • Read Psalm 8:3-4; Ecclesiastes 3:9-13
We have awaited the arrival of a weary young woman, a strong donkey, and a patient father to the stable. We have anticipated the birth of the son through whom the world was created, born now, wrapped in strips of cloth, surrounded by livestock. And we have celebrated the joy to the world that is Emmanuel. With tree and lights and neighbors and family, some of us have spent a week set apart, a week of holy holidays. Even for those who work outside the home during the time between Christmas and New Year's Day, the interim week has a different rhythm, time not fully within the normal everyday.
Now we anticipate the new year and a return to the real world. For most people, New Year's Day marks the impending return to the regular work week. For many people in retail, New Year's Day marks the impending return to a work week full of grouchy returns—a rather abrupt end to holiday cheer. What is January 2 that God is mindful of it? What have we gained from spending Advent in anticipation and Christmas in celebration? What is our toil that comes tomorrow that God cares for it? What gain have we for our Christmas sabbath from ordinary toil?
The scripture readings for today and tomorrow offer a particular hope. The same one whose fingers stitched together the fragments of the universe, setting moon and stars in the heavens, has also come to be mindful of us.
PRAYER: Lord, make me mindful of you—you, who are always mindful of me. I cannot know what you have done from the beginning to the end. But I can ask for the gift of knowing you are with me tomorrow. Amen.
TUESDAY, JANUARY 2 • Read Matthew 25:37-39
In Matthew's Gospel, the ones called righteous seem quite surprised by the revelation that they have, in their daily work, given sustenance, solace, welcome, and clothing to Jesus himself. Lord, when was it that we encountered you in our daily lives? When were you there with us? If Jesus Christ is God with us, does this mean that he goes with us into the day after New Year's Day? Does he come down to earth and enter ordinary, mortal time?
Reading Matthew's story with yesterday's readings echoing in our imaginations, we may be given eyes to see the return to our New Year's work in a new way. We are ones cared for by the incarnate Lord, who came to be with us in the business of our toil. The Wise One who wrote Ecclesiastes has seen the busy-ness that God has given to everyone and knows it can be seen as either nothing or everything—as either one darned task after another or as mortal time and mortal work redeemed. Christ came to define our daily work as God's gift—that we might eat and drink and take pleasure in all our toil—even the work that comes tomorrow and the day after that.
In the midst of this gracious gift, we may become gracious. Our work may come through care for others in our home, through patience with coworkers who seem anything but righteous. For some, the work of patience outside the home must be combined with a second shift of patience within the families to which we return. Will there be forgiveness and grace sufficient for this day, and the next? The daily work of such care and patience can seem to be a burden that cannot possibly be rendered righteous. But God is mindful. God is with us, giving hope sufficient for the toil of righteousness. When I cannot see it as such, God may be present in Christ, redeeming my efforts in spite of my lack.
PRAYER: Lord, give us eyes to see. Make us gracious and redeem our feeble efforts. Amen.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 3 • Read Isaiah 43:1; Acts 8:14-15
In the time of waiting that is Advent, Christians read the prophets. We mark the time forward, forward into the birth of the Messiah through whom the nations will be saved. Words from Israel's prophets about a time when all will be made new often sound discordant—not quite in tune with the "most wonderful time of the year." They break into the daily domestic and marketed preparation for Christmas with a somewhat rude reminder. The birth of Jesus Christ is not primarily about us.
What do I mean by this? By anticipating the birth of Christ with the prophets, Christians mark time forward with the people of Israel. We find ourselves marking time as those adopted into a story of God's first beloved. God creates Jacob, marks him as his own. As Jacob limps away from God's wrestling match, he limps away as one marked—created, called forth, and reformed as God's own. Jacob becomes Israel, and the scriptures attest that God's first beloved is Israel. Some people have called this the scandal of God's particularity. God chose to make God's own a particular people living on a particular scrap of land. The redemption brought through Christ is thus one that has abiding import for the people first beloved by God.
By Paul's interpretation, Christians are adopted into this love, and this adoption by God in Christ spreads unpredictably. The apostles send Peter and John quite literally running to Samaria, trying to catch up with the word of God—a word that is catching people up into the promise of God for all of the nations. Those of us who have been so caught up with the word and those of us who try to run to catch up have been called to pray at least two prayers daily: for Israel and for the nations.
PRAYER: Lord, bring peace to your first beloved, to Israel. Bring peace to the nations. Let your redemption spread to the ends of the earth. Amen.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 4 • Read Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
With a call to "repent!" John the Baptist quite notably attracts to himself two groups of people despised among the Israelites. Both tax collectors and soldiers did the bidding of Rome for the sake of the likes of Herod the ruler, and both tax collectors and soldiers hear the call of John the Baptist. "What should we do," they ask, "to repent?" What does repentance entail? In each case, John gives a simple answer: "Do not use your position of power to exploit others. Do the ruler's bidding only to the extent that you must. Do not seek profit as a by-product of Roman rule."
John the Baptist speaks likewise to the people at the heart of righteous Israel. To those who would take their salvation for granted, John has a word. To those who might say, "We have Abraham as our ancestor," John gives the following reply:" Your power is granted or withheld as a matter of God's sheer, gracious desire. If God wished, God could raise up children from silent rocks strewn on the ground at our feet."
What is the response proper to God's gracious favor? What is the repentance proper to God's grace? Generosity. The fruits worthy of repentance, according to John the Baptist, involve giving away half of what we have. As those whose power comes from divine rule, God's people have more than enough.
The story's logic makes Herod, the ruler, seem like the worst of tax collectors and the worst of soldiers—a man of Israel who has exploited his people. Herod hears John's call to repentance as a threat to his privilege. Yet John continues his ministry, preparing the way, facing evil writ small and large. In John's imprisonment, we may read the dangerous clash of true righteousness with false, worldly power. How may we have courage also to prepare the way? Another is coming. Another is coming whose power is God's own in bodily form, born incarnate for us—God's Beloved, pleasing to God.
Copyright © 2006 UpperRoom.