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Acts 2:1-11: Pentecostpentecost

May 24, 2015

All through Eastertide we have reflected on the gifts and treasures God so generously bestows on us. We have considered our role in God’s great plan. And we have remembered Jesus’ actions and words as he worked to build God’s kingdom on earth among God’s children. Today spend time with these verses and look for their impact in your own life.

When the time was fulfilled . . . frequently we hear these words in scripture. When we take these words in we understand that God’s work comes about in God’s time and space, and not ours.

They were all in one place . . . a number of times we hear God’s call to unity in the Spirit. When we come together in Jesus’ name our prayers are answered even though we might not believe this truth to be so.

The Spirit enabled them to proclaim . . . through both Old and New Testaments we are often told that the Spirit will tell us which way to walk, that a voice will speak to us to give us the words we will need to speak in God’s time and in God’s plan. When we relax into this knowledge we find new peace, a new skin, a new heart.

They were confused . . . so often in the Bible stories we read we understand that even those who are intimately involved with God are confused by the plan that lies before them. When we rest in the knowledge that God has nothing but our joy in mind, we can trust the Spirit to show us which path to take in labyrinth of life.

They were astounded and in amazement . . . repeatedly we hear this news in both Old and New Testaments that we humans are astonished at the depth and breadth and height of God’s goodness and love. When we allow ourselves to believe this good news, we find new peace, new life and new serenity.

We hear them speaking . . . we are constantly barraged by so many words and so many images. Today we open our hearts to the Spirit and focus on one or two of these phrases or words. Today we allow God to speak through us. Today we celebrate the enormous gift and presence of the Spirit in our lives. Today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost.

mainslide-pentecostUse the scripture link and the drop-down menus to spend time with these Pentecost verses today . . . imagine the world we might create . . . let go of all small and petty plans . . . prepare to be amazed by God’s goodness . . . to be wrapped in Christ’s love . . . to be healed by the Spirit’s power to restore. Let us go out to all the nations in Christ so that all will hear us as if we were speaking in their own tongues . . . for it is in this way that we encounter the gentle compassion and eternal strength of Christ.


Matthew 10:1-15: Our Commission 

Tissot: Exhortation to the Disciples

Tissot: Exhortation to the Disciples

May 23, 2015

Today is the eve of Pentecost Sunday and so we take time to review our Eastertide Noontimes to consider God’s wisdom in each of us as we look for the answer to these questions: What does Jesus have in mind for us this Pentecost? How does Jesus expect us to bring compassion to the world? And, where will we find the wisdom, courage and strength to do so?

A foundational theme in Jesus’ work and words is the importance of inclusion. We see him interact with women, tax collectors, Pharisees and lost souls. He walks among the clean and unclean alike; he ministers to the deaf and blind as well as the comfortable and well-off. Today and tomorrow we reflect on where and when we might step into the mission God extends to us. Do we move out and away from the community in which we are planted or do we remain and look for new windows of opportunity to enact our commission? As we prepare for our newest assignment in this important work, we do well to remember Jesus’ words.

Go to the lost sheep . . .

Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, drive out demons . . .

Without cost you have received, without cost you are to give . . .

Whatever town or village you enter, look for a worthy person in it and stay there . . .

As you enter a house, wish it peace . . .

If the house is worthy l let your peace come upon it . . .

If not, let your peace return to you . . .

Use the scripture link above to search other versions of these verses . . . and allow God to reveal to you the commission he has in mind for your work. Enter the word Pentecost into the blog search bar and explore.

Tomorrow, the fire of God’s Pentecost.


Matthew 9:35-38: The Compassion of Jesusharvest

May 22, 2015

We have spent time with Jesus as he heals leprosy, paralysis and blindness, stills an intense and dangerous storm and enables the mute to speak. We have followed him as he casts out demons, admonishes corrupt leaders and heals an older woman’s hemorrhaging on his way to raise a young woman from the dead. We listen to Jesus when he reminds us to use shrunken cloth to mend our old cloaks and to put our new wine into new skins. Jesus is well aware of the suffering that surrounds him yet he does not shrink from the painful challenge; rather, he brings joy and healing and transformation.

Jesus went around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and curing every disease and illness.

Let us imagine a world in which we all proclaim the good news, in which we all teach with our example of witness, in which we touch our enemies and friends alike with compassion.

At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd.

Let us imagine a world in which we shepherd one another when our hearts are low and our spirits falter, in which we act in mercy rather than revenge, in which we look for union rather than separateness.

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is abundant but the laborers are few; so ask the master of the harvest to send the laborers for his harvest.

Let us imagine a world in which masters and laborers work together to bring compassion to work places across the globe, in which parents and children act in love and peace in their homes, in which leaders and followers find common ground for the common good.

As we prepare for the Feast of Pentecost and the close of Eastertide, let us imagine a world such as this . . . and let us step into the role that Jesus has in mind for us as we bring Christ’s compassion to the world.

Visit the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Movement site at www.catholicworker.org or another site of your choice, and be open to the harvesting work to which God may be calling you. Share your experience in a blog comment and invite others to join in Jesus call of compassion for the world.


Matthew 9:32-34: Healing our Muteness

Click on this image to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Click on this image to visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

May 21, 2015

“Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a prominent Protestant pastor who emerged as an outspoken public foe of Adolf Hitler and spent the last seven years of Nazi rule in concentration camps, despite his ardent nationalism. Niemöller is perhaps best remembered for the quotation: “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out…” (Holocaust Encyclopedia www.ushmn.org) Read Niemöller’s sermon, and then consider . . .

God says: The Pharisees accused my son of using the power of the prince of demons to heal muteness in one of my sheep. Do not allow your ears to be closed to my word in you. Do not allow your fear to cripple my voice in you. Speak when I ask you to tell my good news. Be still when I ask you to wait for my word to flow through you. Take courage. When you live in me you will never die. When you offer your voice in my name you are one with me. 

Martin Niemöller

Martin Niemöller

Visit the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum site and reflect on the power of human silence and human speech. http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php?ModuleId=10007391 Remember that there are those in our world who deny the fact that this human carnage took place . . . and then consider how and where and when we want to lend our voices to God’s cause.

To learn more about Martin Niemöller, click on his image to the left or visit:

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/414633/Martin-Niemoller


Matthew 9:27-31: Healing Blindness80_jesus-heals-a-man-born-blind_1800x1200_72dpi_2

May 20, 2015

Do you believe that I can do this?

We ask for help but too often doubt the hand that God offers.

Jesus says: Let it be done for you according to your faith.

God says: When my son says these words he is not threatening or punishing you for your waywardness; rather, he is calling you to union with him and with me. He is calling you to be one with us in the Spirit. He is saying that your blindness can involve more than your physical sight. Sometimes you are emotionally blind. You refuse to feel what others feel because it pains you too much. Sometimes you are mentally blind. You reject options and ideas that others offer because you are determined that your plan is better than any other. Allow my Spirit to live in you and your blindness will be healed. When you feel the pain and sorrow of others, you will also feel my joy in you when you help the least among you. When you panic because you may not be able to follow the plan that you have laid out for yourself, you will also celebrate the enormity of my love that comes to you when you make a way for others to join in your plans rather than dictating to them. Trust in me as I trust in you. Have faith in me even as I place my faith in you. Hope in my promise for it is true. I believe and know that you want to be one with me. Believe and know that I am in you this day and all days . . . healing your blindness.

Enter the word blindness into the blog search bar and examine the ways of human blindness.

Click on the image above to see a video portrayal of John 9:1-41, Jesus heals a man born blind.


Matthew 9:18-26: Two Womeno-BIBLICAL-WOMEN-facebook

May 19, 2015

And the news of this spread throughout the land.

In a world that often discounts or neglects women, this story has much to tell us.

First, although in the ancient world – and in some parts of our modern world today – women count for little more than livestock or a good hunting dog, Jesus clearly values women.

We must consider how we respond to those who have little or no value to the world.

Second, reflecting on the juxtaposition of a vibrant young woman and a woman well along in years, we watch Jesus as he tends to both of them.

We must consider how we respond to those who are outside of our social loops and circles of acceptance.

Third, coming from two separate classes, these women both benefit from Jesus’ loving attention.

We must consider how we respond to those in power and those who live and move in our shadow.

Fourth, Jesus’ actions of loving acceptance are so unusual that the news of this spread throughout the land.

We must consider when and how and why we respond – or do not respond – to Christ’s call to care for one another, to accept one another and even to heal one another in his name.

As we reflect on the resurrection of an official’s daughter and the healing of the hemorrhaging woman, let us remember how quickly the good news of Jesus’ interactions spreads. And let us also reflect on our willingness – or unwillingness – to tell the story of the good news about these two women.

Use the scripture link above to compare versions of this story.

Enter the word tassel into the blog search bar and explore other posts.

Or visit the Tassels on Our Cloaks Noontime at : http://thenoontimes.com/2011/09/10/the-tassels-on-our-cloaks/

Click on the image above for a Huffington Post article on biblical women and Easter.

 


Matthew 9:14-17: Shrunken Cloth and New Wineskinswineskins

May 18, 2015

Grown men sound like small children arguing over petty detail in today’s Noontime selection. We may want to consider Matthew’s warning to us in this quiet interlude between powerful miracles in Jesus’ story. Jesus reminds his followers – and he reminds us that while the cost of change is high, the reward of transformation is immense, even immeasurable.

When confronted with our pettiness, Jesus says: No one patches an old cloak with unshrunken cloth, for its fullness pulls away and the tear worsens. We want to take shortcuts, fly through our work in order to get to the leisure. Jesus reminds us that there is no point in short-changing God . . . we only shortchange ourselves.

When observing our shortsightedness, Jesus says: People do not put new wine in old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. We want to do things our way, pay no attention to the long haul and focus on the present. Jesus urges us to observe that our generosity and mercy are more important than keeping score or earning a living.

When reminded of our self-centeredness, Jesus says: Pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved. We fear not getting ahead, not being comfortable and not having influence. Jesus calls us to a life in which we put others first . . . so that God can tend to us as we tend to the marginalized in our world.

When we look for the secret to happiness or the formula for success, we do well to remember that God sees with God’s eyes and not our own. When we are tempted to make a quick patch in a relationship rather than working through the depth of the problem, let us remember the old cloak mended with unshrunken cloth. When we want continue to move through the world with our unimproved self, let us remember the old skins with new wine. And when we complain that no one suffers as much as we do, let us remember that new skins and worked over cloth preserve the old while nurturing the new.

When we use the scripture link above to reflect on varying versions of these verses, we begin to see the unshrunken cloth and old wineskins in our lives.

Click on the image above for a reflection on the rusty life, or visit: http://www.therustylife.com/2014/08/old-wineskins/. 

For another perspective on this citation, read the Noontime Attitude and Perspective post from 2011 at: http://thenoontimes.com/2011/10/26/attitude-and-perspective/


Matthew 9:9-13: Loving God

love-godSeventh Sunday of Easter, May 17, 2015

We have spent the last six weeks journeying through the Gospel of Matthew, comparing different versions of holy verse, reflecting on beatitudes, teachings, explanations and hidden meanings and open miracles. Today we arrive at the poignant story of Matthew’s call. Jesus saw a man named Matthew sitting at the customs post. He said to him, “Follow me”. And he got up and followed him. Jesus finds a stalwart follower among the least likely of candidates. He chooses a man closely linked with the corrupt structure of his day. He chooses a man avoided by adherents of his own religion. He chooses a man who is much like each of us.

Today we consider words written by Saint Caesarius of Arles, (c. 470-543) bishop, theologian, and preacher. His message about our relationship with, and love of God is as pertinent today as it was in the fifth century.

Begin to love God, and you will love man for his sake . . . When he are called to God’s work, we respond as we would to a dear and valued friend, and although this response may bring us turmoil it also brings us union with Christ himself.

If a man begins to love God, he will love nothing in man except in him . . . When we begin to regard God as a dear friend, we can do nothing but respond to God’s call, and although this call may at times confuse us it will ultimately bring us healing and transformation.

You should not possess or love a friend in order that he might give you something . . . A friend must be loved without recompense . . . When we begin to love without asking in return, we receive recompense far greater than any we might have imagined.

sermon_lovinggodThere is nothing finer, nothing sweeter than God . . . When we fully realize that there nothing in the world as valuable as our friendship with God, we begin to comprehend the meaning of loving God before anything or anyone else.

As we approach the miracle of the Pentecost, let us move forward in Easter resurrection celebration. And let us willingly, fully and openly step forward to follow our dearest friend, our loving God.

 


Matthew 9:1-8: Taking Up Our Bedtake up your bed

May 16, 2015

They brought to him a paralytic lying on a bed . . .

Jesus says: Take courage . . . Get up . . . pick up your bed and go home . . .

God says: Each little incident that paralyzes you with fear is not from me. I only bring you love. Each enormous obstacle that looms before you is not from me. I only bring you hope. When you are paralyzed with fear, reach for me. When you are knocked off your feet, take up the bed of sorrow onto which you have fallen, and come home.

When we give ourselves over to fear we let go of God’s hand. When we languish in our sorrow and remain on our paralytic bed we reject the offer of newness God brings. If depression or anxiety overwhelm us we must seek professional guidance and help. God wants to convert the paralysis in our lives to loving acts of kindness, mercy and justice.

To join Bill and Gloria Gaither in a boat on the Sea of Galilee, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3gK7f_tMW

Join in their song . . . and allow peace to visit with you today as we take up our beds and go home.

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