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Posts Tagged ‘hope’


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Desert Star grows in the Sonora Desert

The Desert Star grows in the Sonora Desert

Jeremiah 12

Why?

Why does the way of the godless prosper, why live all the treacherous in contentment? You planted them; they have taken root. They keep on growing and bearing fruit. You are upon their lips, but far from their inmost thoughts.

These questions are raised by each of us as we strive to do what we know to be merciful and right and good while we see the wicked prosper. Jeremiah records God’s Complaint: My beloved has turned on me like a lion in the jungle; because she roared against me . . . many shepherds have trodden my heritage underfoot; the portion that delighted me they have turned into a desert waste, desolate it lies before me . . . they have sown wheat and reaped thorns.

And so we too, question and wait for an answer that makes sense.

God says: This word of “why” is the one you raise to me most often; I know that injustice and darkness pain you as they pain me. If I were to focus on all that is wrong with the world I would have brought it to an end long ago and so I look for the faithful, the good, the merciful and patient. I wait for the persistent, the loving, and the hope-filled. And my watching and waiting is always rewarded. You who gather goodness into my great harvesting barn also gather joy into my immense heart. You who sow compassion and praise in the vineyards where you struggle also sow the tears of my goodness that salve and heal souls. You who wait patiently and keep me constantly in mind abide in my all-knowing mind and rest in my powerful arms. You are never without me. You need never be afraid. You need never wonder why. 

We are accustomed to instant news feeds and immediate search results. With the Lord we must be patient. In the Lord we must remain. For the Lord we must persist. Because the Lord is present . . . we need not wonder why.

For more on the Desert Star flower, click on the image above or go to: http://www.glamisdunes.com/invision/lofiversion/index.php?t133916.html 

To reflect more on Jeremiah 12, visit the Plots of Darkness on this blog at: http://thenoontimes.com/2013/06/13/plots-of-darkness/

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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Jeremiah 11

Jeremiah-29-11Of No Avail – A Reprise

We began our study of Jeremiah looking at Chapter 11 of this prophecy and today we return again to examine if we have gained insight from the prophet’s words. Have our efforts to understand sacrifice and suffering, gift and giving been of no avail?

Jeremiah tells his community – and us – that persecution comes to all, even to the innocent. He examines false and true shepherds, insincere and sincere relationships, and how we might maintain a solid connection with our creator despite the corrupting influences of the world. In these opening chapters, Jeremiah’s basic attitude centers on “the tender love of God as manifested in the covenant in the days of Moses”. Sin brings consequence; yet punishment can be purifying and transformative, even for the innocent who suffer at the hands of corrupt leaders. Jeremiah counters a sense of hopelessness with words of encouragement. (Senior RG 311)

Then the Lord alerts the faithful servant . . . A conspiracy has been found, the Lord said to me, among the men of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem. They have returned to the crimes of their forefathers who refused to obey my words. They have also followed and served strange new gods . . .

Jeremiah speaks aloud – and he suffers for this candor – words from the Creator: the leaders and the core of the Judaic society have turned away from the Living God who shepherded the Hebrew nation out of slavery and through the desert. It is no wonder that the prophet laments and yearns to remove himself from society to find refuge in a quiet desert lodge. And it is no wonder that the temple leadership begins to plot against this prophet.

What do we do when we find ourselves in a similar situation? We have seen corruption and named it. We have prayed and made sacrifice. We have remained part of the faithful remnant; and yet rather than experience reform instituted by leaders, we find ourselves struggling to survive ever-worsening circumstances. If we find ourselves besieged in this way, we do well to turn to this prophet.

We have begun our Jeremiah journey with reflections on how the innocent find strength, wisdom and patience to accompany the Living God whom their leaders have abandoned. In the coming weeks we continue our passage from transformative suffering to redemptive understanding. We accompany Jeremiah through his travail that culminates with the Babylonian capture of Jerusalem. We wend our way through difficult circumstances, anticipating the gift of hope in God’s plan for us, and looking to our Jeremiah Journey to bring us home.

Return to the Of No Avail post on this blog at: thenoontimes.com/2014/08/01/of-no-avail/ OR return to The Desert Lodge post at: https://thenoontimes.wordpress.com/2014/08/10/the-desert-lodge/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. RG 311. Print.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Jeremiah 4

ReconciledbannerSincere Repentance – A Reprise

Just when we believe that hope is lost, a door opens. Just when we think that we will not be forgiven, word arrives. Just when we feel the end is near, life begins again. Psalm 133 celebrates the goodness to be found when adversaries determine to reconcile differences.

Assurance

How very good and pleasant it is when we see God in one another despite narrow hearts and tightened minds.

These quick moments delight as surely as a loved one’s gaze renews  . . . as ever a child’s breath blesses her mother’s cheek.

The Lord’s happily granted gift of forgiveness heals all . . . despite our reluctance to respond to God’s love.

The Lord’s freely given gift of life affirms divinity in each . . . despite our reluctance to believe in God’s promise.

Visit the Spiritual Courage post on this blog at: http://thenoontimes.com/2012/03/09/sincere-repentance-spiritual-courage/ and consider the consequence of a severe repentance. What consequences await us when we gather courage to do what we know must be done?

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An Almond Tree

An Almond Tree

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Jeremiah 1 & 2

The Watching Tree

Footnotes tell us that the watching tree in verse 11 refers to the almond tree; “the first to bloom in the springtime as though it had not slept. The Hebrew name contains a play on words with ‘I am watching’.” The opening lines here tell us of Jeremiah’s office as prophet.  We are given his credentials, so that we might hear and heed the words here offered . . . so that we might not be afraid, so that we might remember to turn to God in times of turmoil, and so that we might shun the false idols that offer themselves in place of God.

Jeremiah protests that he is too young to serve God as prophet but the Lord says to him: Have no fear . . . because I am with you to deliver you . . . It is I this day who have made you a fortified city, a pillar of iron, a wall of brass . . . they will fight against you, but not prevail over you, for I am with you to deliver you.

These are words of warning to a people who had turned away from Yahweh and back to the Baal gods. They are also words of encouragement to us. History tells us that the oracles predicted here by Jeremiah unfolded as truth; therefore, the opening words of this prophecy can serve to comfort us as we struggle to understand our role as followers of Christ. God’s words through Jeremiah are meant to console us while we remain the watching trees that remind others of the hope Christ brings, of the trust we must place in God, and of the danger in worshiping false and feeble gods.

I remember the devotion of your youth, the Lord tells us, Sacred to the Lord was Israel, the first fruits of the harvest; should anyone presume to partake of them, evil would befall him, says the Lord. As watching trees, we must have our eyes and hearts open to those who would deceive us, we must announce with a flurry of white blossoming the advent of a time of renewal and rebirth so those who have strayed may yet return. And we need not have any fear about our work of watching, for with God all things are possible. God always delivers the faithful.

When storms destroy all that we hold sacred, there is yet hope.

When trials sap our courage, there is yet strength.

When betrayals blind us to the possibility of a love that knows no bounds, there is yet God.

When suffering swallows our days, there is a place to go and there is something to be done. We are called to be watching trees that announce the hope of the human race. We are created to be watching trees that trust only their maker. We come to fruition as watching trees that offer first fruits back to God and produce good fruit in due season.

We are called by our creator to witness as we watch and wait. When pain and sorrow take over, or in gladness and celebration, let us keep watch as if we have not slept, let us be the first to burst into flower and witness to the hint of spring. And while we wait on the Lord, let us offer our work to the God who made us, God who delivers us, and God who loves us.

No matter our circumstances, sorrow or joy, let us take up our task as watching trees and announce the goodness of God.

Adapted from a reflection written on June 12, 2010.

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

jeremiah 15Jeremiah 1

Persecution

Jeremiah’s prophecy is complex; it consists of judgment oracles, narratives about his life, and sermons. Throughout all of this his voice brings not only a constant warning but also a certain consolation to those who are willing to suffer. To the faithful remnant he says what we long to hear: that we are loved, that God’s name is written on our hearts, and that we are called. He speaks to anyone eager to find the truth embedded in each of us, the truth that is God.

Jeremiah speaks to the experience of persecution and this is a theme that resonates with all human beings for all of us at one time or at many times – either justly or unjustly – are persecuted. We all know what it feels like to be left out, looked over, betrayed, and even punished for what we believe is truth. Ultimately, only God can let us know if we are living an honest life; and God does this frequently. Only God can indicate to us that our suffering has been either self-pitying and pointless or redemptive and fruitful. We all suffer. But do we suffer well? God tells us about the truth of our suffering by pointing out to us the fruits of our labor. And God does this gently . . . by telling us that we are wonderfully made . . . and that we need not fear. God tells us that there is hope.

From the HARPERCOLLINS NRSV STUDY BIBLE (Meeks 1113): Here indeed was a prophet who combined elegance of form with the ethical and redemptive content of the “word of the Lord”. And perhaps more than anyone in his time, Jeremiah provided the means by which a despairing people could hope for a new future.

Reading the first chapter of this profound prophecy is an invitation to new life and to hope, an invitation to join Christ in the kind of suffering that saves souls and that transforms itself and us into a joy-filled gift. We are invited into this redemptive mystery that is God’s love.

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you . . .

You are mine. You are special. I have a particular job in mind for you.

And before you were born I consecrated you . . .

Because you are mine you are holy. You are my temple. I want to dwell within you.

I appointed you a prophet to the nations . . .

You have words to say and gestures to make in my Name.

Then I said – Ah Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a child . . .

We reply in fear to this awesome task, believing falsely that we are not up to the journey that lies before us.

But the Lord said to me – Do not say “I am only a child’ for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you . . .

You are my gift to the world . . . my gift of joy. I see a wonderful potential in you . . . for you are designed in love by me . . . to love me in all places and times and peoples . . . you are made to put away fear . . . in yourself and in others . . .

Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you . . .

Until the end of time . . . Amen.

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. 1113. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on Friday, January 16, 2009.

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The Lord Surrounds Us


peter-feed-my-sheepThursday, July 31, 2014

Psalm 125

The Lord Surrounds Us

We too often allow life’s struggles to surround us while we neglect the one who created us, the one who guides us, the only one who can protect us from the buffeting squalls of life.

The Surrounding

Those who trust in the Lord are like seeds on the heavy wind.

They know the Creator will bring them to a fertile place of rest.

The Lord surrounds the faithful as surely as the waves return to shore.

God will keep their land safe from the withering sun and not permit their fragile shoots to be washed away before they take root.

The Lord will not disappoint their fragile hope.

Reward, O Lord, those who listen to the gentle voice in the turbulence of life’s storm. Reward those who hold fast.

Peace be upon those who put down firm roots in God’s loving grace.

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faith the size of mustard seedTuesday, July 22, 2014

Mark 4:30-34

The Shade of the Kingdom

Jesus says: How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that the birds of the air can nest under its shade.

God says: I understand how difficult it is for you to step beyond the limits of your world but this is where I live . . . both within you to comfort you and beyond you to call you to greatness. My kingdom is greater than any dispute, wider than any war, deeper than any betrayal, and more infinite than any love. It begins as a tiny germ within you and grows to offer shelter for others. This is what I plant in you . . . an opportunity to experience the hope I have created in your heart. Come to rest in the shelter I offer against the buffets of the world . . . and in turn, offer my peace to others.

When we abide in the shadow of God’s love and respond to the seed sowed within, God gives us the power to root ourselves in God’s grace and to raise ourselves as branches so that others might nest in the shade of the kingdom.

Enter the word kingdom into the blog search bar and consider how we see the kingdom in our everyday lives.

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be strongThursday, June 12, 2014

1 Chronicles 28:9-10

Setting to Work

We have determined to praise God’s gifts to the ends of the earth. Let us consider how David sets an example for us to proclaim God’s goodness to future generations.

As for you, my children, know the God of your father and serve God with a perfect heart and a willing soul, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands all the mind’s thoughts.

We know that David sets aside his plans to build a holy place for the Ark of the Covenant; but he sets these plans aside when he understands that God has greater plans than those that he has created. Let us also make certain that the plans of our hearts are mindful of the plans of God’s heart.

If you seek God, God will let himself be found by you. But if you abandon him, he will cast you off forever.

Jesus comes to tell us the story of the Forgiving Father (Luke 15:11-31) and the Lost Son. Let us consider this parable as a roadmap of God’s plan for each of us.

See then! The Lord has chosen you to build a house as his sanctuary.

Jesus comes to tell us that we need not build temples to extol God; rather, we need create a dwelling place for the in-dwelling of the Spirit. Let us consider how and what and why we prepare ourselves for God’s Spirit. (John 2:19)

Take courage and set to work.

David reminds us that we need not worry about the plans that we have made for ourselves but rather we must tend to the plans God has in mind.

David sets aside his own desires and wishes to do as God asks; and he encourages his progeny to also follow God.

Christ reminds us that the temples we construct to ourselves do not last, but rather we are to prepare our hearts as God’s own dwelling place.

Christ shows us how to abandon ourselves in order to prepare our hearts as God’s own temple, he reminds us that we are constantly and forever loved by God; and he encourages us set to work at once. (Matthew 15:13)

And so as we set to work each day in our perfect persistence as kingdom builders, let us also remind our children of God’s fidelity. As we offer our hopes each day as willing participants in God’s plan, let us also remind our children of God’s outrageous expectation for our serenity. And as we offer our love to others each day, let us also remind our children of the power of God the creator, the compassion of God the Rescuer, and the peace of God the In-dweller . . . this awesome God who searches all hearts and understands all the mind’s thoughts.

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wherever you are todayMonday, June 9, 2014

1 Chronicles 28:20

Fear and Discouragement

When we consider the factors that move us to risk something of ourselves to act as God asks of us, fear and discouragement might well be reasons that we do not act when called by God. And yet for millennia God has assured us that trust in God’s plan and hope in God’s presence are the hallmarks of the faithful. Over the last few weeks we have contemplated John’s first letter to the faithful. This week we look for the many times that we have been supported and guided as God’s precious children.

Be firm and steadfast; go to work without fear or discouragement, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. God will not fail you or abandon you before you have completed all the work for the service of the house of the Lord. (Verse 28:20)

David reminds the Israelites of God’s fidelity and power; but we can turn to the Torah and the first sacred verses recorded centuries ago.

In Genesis 26:1-3 we hear God speak to Isaac at the time of a famine: Do not go down to Egypt, but continue to camp wherever in this land I tell you. Stay in this land, and I will be with you and bless you. We might remember this and act bravely and hopefully when we believe that making a geographical change will somehow bring us serenity.

In Deuteronomy 31:6 the Hebrew people are about to enter the land they have been promised when Moses reminds his flock: Be brave and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the Lord, your God, who marches with you; God will never fail you or forsake you. We might remember this and act compassionately and justly when we believe that remaining with what is familiar is better than moving into what is new.

Click on the scripture links above and read other versions of these verses; and let us consider how God speaks to us about our fear and discouragement.

Tomorrow, the prophets combat fear and discouragement.

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