Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Colossians 1: 24-29Christ in UsChrist-in-you

March 29, 2015

That we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

This is St Paul’s goal. And as modern apostles, it can be ours. We work on our own conversion, we rebuke sinners, we pray for our enemies, we hope for the impossible, and we abide in the faith that all will be well.

The letter to the people of Colossae was written before Paul had visited the town east of Ephesus. A small Jesus community had begun there but they had no clear disciple to follow. A man named Epaphras asked Paul’s help in instructing the people about the Christ . . . and so we have these words today.

Paul writes that suffering and persevering through the antics of pagans and heretics is precisely the work of a disciple of Christ. This letter is a mini-lecture on who the Christ is, the nature of our work done in his name, various warnings against false teachers, and what our mystical end ought to be. It is a snapshot of who and what we are, and who and what we hope to be. The letter is a perfect message for us when we find ourselves surrounded by ineptitude, corruption, deceit, envy, pride and vice.

When we reflect on some of the conversations we have had during these weeks of lent, we might use these verses.

When we think about our Noontime reflections this week, we might use these words.

When we consider the gift of Palm Sunday and this coming holiest of weeks, we might enact this message.

When we put ourselves in the first century in the place of those in Colossae, we might better understand that the perfection to which we are called is not a lock of error, but rather a perfection in perseverance. For it is in this way that we best find Christ in us.

Adapted from a Favorite written on April 20, 2007.

Tomorrow, the poor in body and spirit.


John: Naming OurselvesMislabeling-the-Word-of-God

March 28, 2015

In beautiful prose, the writer of John’s Gospel gives us many portals to name Christ, to understand the person of Jesus, and to model ourselves after this Word of God Among Us.  On this eve of Palm Sunday, as we prepare to enter the holiest of weeks in the liturgical calendar, let us take time to assess who Jesus is, how we convey to the world our own understanding of God in the person of Jesus, and how we intend to change in order that we become more like this saving servant.

Chapter 1: Word of God and Light of the World – What does it mean to be the Word of God? Do we enact God’s mercy and justice in our actions and words? How might we bring light to the world’s darkness? Do we look for hope, bring peace, and heal others?

Chapter 3: Spirit of God – God grants us eternal life. What do we store up for this eternity? Where does our treasure lie? Do we offer life or death to ourselves and others?

Chapters 4 – 9: Healer and Miracle Worker – How do we become the hands and feet of Christ? When do we allow God to work many small miracles for and through us? How often do we witness to injustice? When and why do we heal ourselves and others?

good shepherdChapter 10: The Good Shepherd: We have the prophets’ cry out against false shepherd and teachers. Do we number among them? Do we listen for the voice of Jesus the Shepherd? Do we put aside the world to follow the one true shepherd? When do we call others to follow in Christ’s Way?

Chapters 11-12: Restorer of Life – We cannot raise Lazarus from the dead but we can restore wounded hearts, ask and grant forgiveness, bridge gaps and mend fences. We are capable of bringing hope to the hopeless, mercy to the marginalized and love to the abandoned and brutalized. When and where do we grant these gifts we have been given by God?

Chapters 13 – 14: Advocate – It is easy to look away from problems and slip into denial. Who are our loved ones, associates, colleagues and friends? Do they call us to good or encourage us to hide in darkness?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChapters 15 – 17: Vine for our Branches – God gives us the choice to be life-takers or life-givers. What path do we choose and why? Are we willing to change course once we see that we need to change? Do we offer to God the apology saying that we are content in our comfort zone? Do we inflict discomfort on others or call them gently? What nourishment do we allow God to bring us and how do we pass this sacred sustenance along?

Chapters 18 – 20: Lamb of God – Humility is such a difficult quality to wear in our status and power-driven world and yet it is essential. Do we strive for the meekness that Jesus displays? Do we give more than we receive? What role does pride play in our lives? How do we handle our own sense of entitlement and that of others?

Chapter 21: Resurrection – There are no words to express the beauty of God’s desire to bring us to eternal happiness in the kingdom. What fidelity to do we show to the Gospel story in our actions and words? What narrative of resurrection do we live out? What promise of resurrection to we believe? And how do we witness to the miracles of resurrection we know God performs constantly in our own lives and in the lives of others?

empty tomb with sheet and lightWe are perhaps too accustomed to these images and if this is so, we must spend quiet time with them today. If we celebrate and enact these metaphors in our lives daily then let us rejoice in the Good News that is so familiar. In either case, let us spend time with these names and call ourselves followers of Christ as today we prepare for the Palm Sunday gift of Jesus as the very name of God.

Tomorrow, Christ in Us.


Luke 24: Resurrection Narrative

Carracci: Women at the Tomb of Christ

Carracci: Women at the Tomb of Christ

March 27, 2015

The stories we read in the closing chapter of Luke are ones that bring us through dark nights and heavy days. They bolster our spirits and restore energy. They lend us strength and heal our wounded-ness.

Two men in dazzling garments are waiting in the empty tomb. Can we take ourselves to that moment and that space to imagine this Easter surprise that both heartened and frightened Jesus’ followers? Can we imagine God’s messengers comforting us and bringing good news as we stand in our own empty tombs? We must . . . for this is part of our own resurrection miracle.

Hendrick Terbruggen: Supper at Emmaus

Hendrick Terbruggen: Supper at Emmaus

Two followers of Jesus realize that their hearts were burning within while their dinner guest spoke to them to open scripture and ease their sorrow. Can we put ourselves in a moment when we have just been touched by the resurrected Christ but were too anxious or too angry to look fully in the face that wants to relieve our suffering? Can we relive the healing touch and grace-filled words that flooded the moment when a stranger or friend spoke just the right word at just the right moment? We must . . . for this part of our own resurrection promise.

Peace be with you. Can we recall an experience when we were startled and terrified and thought we were seeing a ghost only to succumb to incredulous joy and amazement at the recognition that God moves in our lives each moment of our existence? Can we recollect the understanding that all is well and that God is in charge? We must . . . for this is our own resurrection narrative.

Velázquez: Kitchen Scene with the Supper in Emmaus

Velázquez: Kitchen Scene with the Supper in Emmaus

This week we remember that we are Theophilus, God’s own friend, and we have dedicated time with scripture to allow God’s Word to enter into our hearts and minds. We journey with the Gospel stories to find clues to our identity as sisters and brothers of Christ. And we open ourselves to a candid examination of what and why we want to change. Luke records Jesus’ resurrection narrative that we read again today. Let us begin to fully believe the miracle and promise of this story. And let us determine to make Jesus’ narrative our own.

Use the scripture link to compare differing versions of Luke 24 as we open our hearts and minds to the Living Word of God Among Us.

 

Luke 12:22-34: All


Luke 12:22-34: Allfarming for hunger

March 26, 2015

If we learn nothing more about ourselves in this Lenten journey, let us pray that we understand how much easier life when we learn the simple lesson Jesus teaches us daily: Where your treasure lies, there also will your heart be.

Where do we place our priorities each morning? Do we jump into our day or do we pause to spend time orienting ourselves to God’s agenda rather than our own?

Where do we place all our energies each afternoon? Do we make plans for vacations, parties, and reunions as frequently as we plan to spend time in prayer and fellowship with others?

Where do we place our petitions each evening as we tumble into sleep? Do we give thanks for the good we have received as much as we worry about all that did not go well?

Jesus is quite clear. Where we focus our attention and anxiety, this is the place we are storing up the essence of ourselves. Where we spend our time in kingdom building, this is the place we are calling our home for all eternity.

farming 4 hungerWhere do we choose to deposit all that we do and are? In our wealth and power? In our influence and possessions? How much better it is to place all we are and all we do in the ample heart of God.

Spend some time with Luke 12:22-34 today and compare biblical texts. How will we change our hearts as we move toward the closing days of Lent?

Visit http://www.farming4hunger.com/, or click on the image to the left, to see how one man’s determination to store up goodness has changed his life and his world. Consider sending some of your Lenten alms to a kingdom-building organization that gives its all to enact God’s goodness and mercy.

Special thanks to a Noontime friend for sharing the good news about Farming 4 Hunger. 


Mark 16: Obeying Fear

Annibale Carracci: The Dead Christ Mourned by the Three Marys

Annibale Carracci: The Dead Christ Mourned by the Three Marys

March 25, 2015

When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James and John, and Salome bought spices so that they might go anoint Jesus . . . Then they went out and fled from the tomb, seized with trembling and bewilderment. They said nothing to anyone for they were afraid . . .

In this ending of Mark’s Gospel, Jesus’ followers obey their fear. Our Lenten journey brings us the opportunity to examine our own temptation to obey our fears rather than trust the Easter miracle.

When he had risen, early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene . . . when they heard he was alive and had been seen by her, they did not believe . . . After this he appeared in another form to two or three of them walking along on their way to the country. They returned and told the others; but they did not believe them . . . Later, as the eleven were at the table, as the eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised.

In this ending of Mark’s Gospel, we see Jesus’ love overcome his followers’ distress. Our Lenten journey brings us the opportunity to believe the resurrection story and follow Christ.

boat-on-the-seashoreGod says: If you read my scripture carefully you will see how many times these sacred writers record my assurance to you that you need not be afraid. Spend time with my servant Mark today and allow my grace to fill you. Read the end of his story with its double ending and examine your own doubts and fears. Allow my story to sink into your bones and feel the promise I offer you. My love does not fail. My promise remains for eternity. Rather than obeying your fears, bring them to me . . . for I will still your uneasy heart.

Using the scripture link, study the various versions of Mark’s Chapter 16, and decide to put away your fears.


Matthew 28:11-15: The Report

Annibale Carracci: The Dead Christ

Annibale Carracci: The Dead Christ

March 24, 2015

While they were going . . . We are eager to hear the resurrection story again. We anticipate the revelation of Christ’s powerful restoration message. What seemed lost is found. What was empty is now full. Jesus’ faithful followers go to Galilee to meet with Jesus. What must they have been imagining? What do we imagine as we set off each day to do God’s work in an often hostile world?

Some of the guard assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers . . . We dislike the corruption and deceit that surrounds the resurrection story. We are saddened by the darkness that clouds this beautiful exemplar. What is light is threatened by the darkness. What is holy is stalked by evil. Jesus’ enemies cannot abide the truth that stares them down. How do they think they can silence the very hope they themselves have sought? How do we avoid the truths that stare at us each day?

ontheshoreThe soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this is the story that has circulated to the present day . . . We forswear duplicity and promise to cease all gossip. We are stunned by lies and shudder at the audacity of others to twist reality to their own vision. What is dead now lives forever. What is slandered is now exalted. What report of God’s love do these schemers present to the world with lies and deceit? What daily report of God’s love do we present to the world through our actions and words?

No principality or power can overcome the love that the Spirit bestows on us. No tempest or evil can undo the healing the Spirit brings to us. No strident denial, no manipulative tyrant can drown out the justice that Christ speaks through his actions. And this is our Lenten promise from God. We are rescued. We are healed. We are redeemed. We are loved beyond measure. The false report that ends Matthew’s Gospel continues for a time in its falsehood while the report of Good News has held through the ages and will hold until the end of time.

Tissot: Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea

Tissot: Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea

We are bearers of this wonderful news, so let us carry this Word forward in joy-filled hope.  We are children of God, so let us share this marvelous news with those who have ears to hear. We are sisters and brothers of Christ in the Spirit, let us determine to hold fast to the report brought to us through the power and love of God.

Yesterday we considered whose good opinions we seek, today we consider whose reports we believe, tomorrow we consider what fears we obey. 


Matthew 13:54-14:2: Opinionsover-inflating-your-opinion

March 23, 2015

He did not work many mighty deeds in his native place because of their lack of faith. The opinion of those who knew Jesus as a child blocks his neighbors from seeing what is so plainly true.

Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:22-25) What, then, does human opinion matter if we do not move and live in God?

Paul tells the Ephesians and he tells us that by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is a gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:6-9) How, then, are we to believe that we can heal and restore unless we heal and restore in Christ Jesus?

Paul asks the Galatians and he asks us: Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? (Galatians 3:3-5) Why, then, might we put aside the Spirit and believe that we are complete without God’s indwelling presence?

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him”.  The opinion of the one who ruled over Jesus’ native land is influenced by the power he wields and the influence he exerts on others.

Might we compare our own opinion of Jesus with that of those who knew him so well? What is our vision of wisdom, grace, faith, weakness and foolishness? How do we receive the miracle of life that awakens us each day and accompanies us to bed each night?

In our Lenten journey we pause to consider . . . whose opinions matter most to us . . . and how do these opinions influence our thoughts and deeds each day?


The Four Gospels: Theophilusbible-1

Fifth Sunday of Lent: March 22, 2015

In the next days of our Lenten pilgrimage as we near the celebration of the Easter miracle, we will focus on the New Testament with its words of joy that call us to newness. On this fifth Sunday in our Lenten journey, we take time to compare varying versions of verses as we listen for the voice that speaks within. If possible, we will look for a quiet place and time in which we can look at the opening verses of each Gospel.  And we will listen for God’s wisdom, ask for God’s grace, and rest in God’s mercy.

Matthew 1 begins with: The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. When we consider why Matthew was calling his largely Jewish audience to Jesus’ lineage, we may begin to understand the importance of our own heritage, the influence of our tribe and its traditions, and the opportunities for division that unity in Christ might bridge.

Mark 1 begins in this way. The beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Thinking about this story that was written quite close to the resurrection event, we may begin to comprehend the fear and awe that gripped these first followers of Christ, the same fear and awe that take hold of us today, and the prospect that Christ heals all wounds when we open ourselves to his care.

Luke 1 begins in another manner: Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the vents that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eyewitnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word handed down to them to us, I too have decided after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in an orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received. Contemplating these words, we might also consider how our own story of our life in Christ might begin, how it might play out, and how it might conclude. We might also consider how we live out Christ’s message each day as we play and work and pray.

John 1 begins with its soaring, beautiful language that carries us on a journey we cannot forget or put aside: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Meditating on these concepts, we might allow ourselves to be called into newness, to be open to restoration and to forgive others as we are forgiven.

Today we think, we contemplate, we consider and we meditate on the story of Jesus. Let us also act in Christ’s name to heal a world that longs for peace and mercy. When we click on the scripture links we open a world of hope where before there was no possibility. We enter into a world of fidelity where before there was only betrayal. And we allow Christ to create goodness and light out of harm where before there was only darkness and evil. Let us, like Theophilus, enter into our relationship as a beloved friend of God. And let us allow God to bring us the Easter promise in a full and meaningful way so that we might realize the certainty of the teachings we have received, so that we might pass on the goodness that God has in store for each of us.

For more information on ideas for Luke’s use of the name Theophilus, visit: http://biblehub.com/topical/t/theophilus.htm


Psalm 103: Two Sons and Their Fatherprodigal-son-11

March 21, 2015

Psalm 103 is one we might pray when we jealousy begins to creep into our lives. Psalm 103 reminds us that we are not the generators or creators of the goodness that blesses us. In Luke 15:1-32 we read the story of the prodigal son or, as some call it, the parable of the forgiving father. Today we consider the envy that rises up in the forgotten son.

The jealousy experienced by the straying son draws him away from the father and toward a life of dissipation.  The jealousy felt by the son who stays home, leads him away from understanding the infinite mercy and generosity of his father.  It seems that no matter which course we take in life, we are susceptible to wanting that which is not meant to be ours.

When we feel jealousy and turn to thank God for what we have rather than becoming sad or finding a way to have what it is not ours, we enter the plan of conversion that God has in mind for us.  We enter into God’s grace.  We also enter into God’s conversion of harm to goodness.

Today as we thank God for what is ours and give back to God what is not ours, we pray the intercessions from last evening’s prayer.

Seeking the generosity of God our Father, we pray to him:  Deliver us from jealousy. 

When we see the good fortune of others, let us rejoice in their happiness. Deliver us from jealousy. 

When we see our own shortcomings, let us not despise those who excel in areas where we are lacking.  Deliver us from jealousy. 

When we feel jealous, let us be happy with the gifts God has given us and not covet that which is not rightfully ours.  Deliver us from jealousy. 

Amen.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 14.4 (2009). Print.  

Adapted from a reflection written on March 14, 2009.

For a Lenten activity, use a search engine to find images of the prodigal son story and reflect on these two siblings and their generous father. Let us imagine that we were present in this drama and then consider what role we would play. And when evening arrives, let us again read Psalm 103 and thank God for the blessings so generously bestowed on all of creation.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 276 other followers

%d bloggers like this: