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Psalm 52: Thanksgiving – Part VI

Saturday, October 1, 2016OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Giving thanks for the Deceitful Tongue

In this Favorite from September 21, 2008 we find that thanksgiving finds us even when we encounter lies and deceptions.

Like an olive tree in the house of God, trust in God’s love forever.

The image of the olive tree is used often in the Old Testament.  Either the fruit or its oil was present at every meal in Jesus’ time.  The tree is evergreen and grows anywhere it can get a foothold, even on rocky hillsides.  “It is no wonder it assumed an almost mythical character.  The tree became a symbol of fertility (Ps. 128:3), beauty Jer. 11:16; Hos. 14:6), divine blessing (Deut. 7:13), peace and bountifulness (Gen. 8:11), and it was inextricably associated with Jesus (the Mount of Olives [Mark 14:26; John 8:1]).” (Achetemeier 782)

The olive tree serves as an apt model for the life of a Christian.  It takes hold where it can; its fruit and oil sustain, light, heal and anoint.

I will praise you always for what you have done.

We so often turn to God in time of sorrow and trial.  We must remember to praise God in thanksgiving when we are blessed.

I will proclaim before the faithful that your name is good.

We so often think that when things go well we have been clever, “on top of things”, and well-prepared.  We must remember to give God credit for the good in our lives, for without God we have nothing.  God is the one who ordained us with our aptitudes.

The first portion of this psalm asks Why do you glory in evil, you scandalous liar?  It is a question we pose when we discover that someone we trust has been untruthful in such a way that our relationship has suffered.

The second portion of the psalm describes how God will strike down the liar while the righteous jeer.  From a New Testament standpoint, we know that compassion and Christ-like witness are the proper responses to an evil act.  Still, we can empathize with the pent-up anger expressed in this Old Testament view.  That is why it is all the more important to look at the third portion.

Like an olive tree in the house of God, trust in God’s love forever.

It reminds us that after we have done all possible to rebuke a sinner, we must place our trust in God.

I will praise you always for what you have done.

It reminds us to thank God for the blessings in our lives, for the evil turned to good.

I will proclaim before the faithful that your name is good.

It reminds us to tell the wonderful story of our own conversion so that others may also be converted.

Like an olive tree in the house of God, trust in God’s love forever.

It reminds us to trust God, to love as Christ loves, to endure, to hold on, and to be faithful to God forever.

Like an olive tree in the house of God, trust in God’s love forever.

Achetemeier, Paul J. HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE DICTIONARY. 2nd edition. San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1996. 782. Print.


Esther 10 and F: Thanksgiving – Part V

Friday, September 30, 2016

Jean Francois de Troy: The Triumhp of Mordecai

Jean Francois de Troy: The Triumph of Mordecai

A Favorite from October 6, 2007.

Mordecai’s Dream Fulfilled

A Favorite from October 6, 2007. To read the epilogue (Esther F), consult the New American Bible (NABRE) using the scripture link above. 

When we explore Esther’s story, we discover God’s gift of goodness.

How many times has this kind of rescue happened in small ways in our lives that we have given momentary thanksgiving and moved on to our next petition in our list of dreams?  How many times have we quickly curtsied or bowed as we said a hasty “Thank you” before rushing on to out next request?  We must always make the time to give full and abundant thanks to God.  For has not God’s goodness been overflowing to us?  We must pass along these stories to those who follow.  For have not these stories been passed along to us?  We must, like Mordecai who realizes that his highest hopes have been born out of God’s providence and mercy, gather together with joy and happiness before God that we may celebrate.  We must rejoice in the goodness of God for only this gladness and joy will carry us forward to New Life in the fullest.

When we spend time with the story of Esther, Mordecai, Haman and Ahasuerus, we open our hearts to thanksgiving. We open ourselves to the Spirit. 

Click on the image above to learn more about the characters in this very human story, or visit: http://www.moshereiss.org/messenger/15_esther/15_esther.html


Esther 10 and F: Thanksgiving – Part IV

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Rembrandt: Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther

Rembrandt: Ahasuerus and Haman at the Feast of Esther

Mordecai’s Dream Fulfilled

A Favorite from October 6, 2007. To read the epilogue (Esther F), consult the New American Bible (NABRE) using the scripture link above. 

We must remember that God is always loyal to the covenant promise, and we need not expect anything less than perfection from God because with God all things are possible.  As Mordecai says in today’s reading when he realizes that the outrageous hope of which he dreamt has actually been fulfilled, This is the work of God.  Mordecai recognizes God’s effort to convert harm to good.  He sees that not a single detail has been left unfulfilled.  He recognizes the meaning of the symbols of the spring, the light, and the dragons which had previously been unclear to him.  He sees what God has arranged, and what man has plotted.  He recognizes that God has saved his people and delivered us from all these evils.  He now understands that God worked signs and great wonders which we were too frightened to see and appreciate as we ran the gauntlet of obstacles laid out by ourselves and others in anticipation of our fall.  Mordecai now feels the full impact of his rescue and reparation.  He has let the reality of the outcome of his innocent suffering come into focus.  He now sees fully that the horrific end which his enemies had plotted is not his and Esther’s – for it is not the Jewish people who hang from the gallows but instead, those who ordered the gallows built.  Not only has God saved, God has at the same time turned evil into good, passed judgment and handed out consequences.

Tomorrow, thanksgiving for rescue. 


Esther 10 and F: Thanksgiving – Part III

Mordecai’s Dream Fulfilled

Aert de Gelder: Esther Talking to Mordecai

Aert de Gelder: Esther Talking to Mordecai

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 

A Favorite from October 6, 2007. To read the epilogue (Esther F) consult the New American Bible (NABRE) using the scripture link above. 

We have examined the following motifs: understanding that the innocent suffer, knowing that much is expected of those who have much, accepting that silence is assent, learning to trust our covenant with God, cautioning against weaving webs of deceit (for ultimately the victim of this web is always the weaver), allowing nothing to step between us and God, repenting and being doers of the Word.  This story is replete with solid ideas that are necessary if we are to approach and then pass through our Narrow Gate.  It always brings me joy to read these verses because the over-arching idea of this story is the following:  God will rescue his people, those who attempt to walk in The Way.  This rescue may not be as visible or as obvious as we would like, but it is always and constantly available to us . . . because God is incapable of any lesser action.  God will always console, God will always abide, God will always preserve, heal and protect.  God will always restore.  God will always be union and joy.

When we explore Esther’s story, we discover God’s gift of goodness; we encounter God’s desire to rejoice in us; and we find every reason to proclaim our thanksgiving. 


Isaiah 12: Thanksgiving – Part II

Tuesday, September 27, 2016give-thanks

God is my strength and my song.

God says: I watch over you while you sleep as a loving mother or father. I prepare each day for you so that you might live in me. Sing out your praise and abide in the comfort of my hands.

Ask God anything! Shout to the nations, tell them what God has done, spread the news of God’s great reputation!

God says: I plan the mornings, afternoons and evenings you journey through. I prepare saving pathways and abiding companions to accompany on your journey. Rejoice in my endless hope for you.

Let the whole earth know what he’s done! Raise the roof! Sing your hearts out, O Zion! The Greatest lives among you: The Holy of Israel.”

God says: When you share your joy with others, it multiplies the goodness I have showered on you. When you share your thanksgiving with others, it comes back to you ten-thousand fold. Rest in my deep and abiding love for you.

God speaks to us through the prophet Isaiah to bring us the good news that we are deeply and passionately loved. Let us rejoice today. Let us give thanks today.


Isaiah 12Thanksgiving – Part I

Monday, September 26,2016thankful

A Favorite from August 1, 2009

I was speaking with a friend this afternoon about the number of times I say, “Thank you, Jesus” in a day, in a week, in a month.

Each time I wake in the morning to greet the day and realize that I have a roof, heat and air conditioning, I say, “Thank you”.

Each time I take a hot shower and realize that I have all the water I need or want to keep my household clean and sustained, I say, “Thank you”.

Each time I cross the parking lot of a grocery store to put food into my car and realize that I have just bagged and paid for food that is before me in great variety and abundance, I say, “Thank you”.

Each time I find a skirt or blouse in my closet I have forgotten I owned and realize that I never want for clothing, I say, “Thank you”.

Each time a friend or family member calls and makes contact with warm words and encouraging laughter and I realize that the conversation has been the perfect medicine for what ails me, I say, “Thank you”.

Each time I put away the tools of my profession and realize that my work is my vocation, I say, “Thank you”.

Each time I return home from a long trip and realize that I and my loved ones have arrived safely at the door with few or no mishaps, I say, “Thank you”.

Each time I put my head on the pillow and realize that God has brought me through another day, I say, “Thank you”.

Each time I relax into a comfortable chair with a wonderful book and the luxury of time to spend as I like on an afternoon, I say, “Thank you”.

Each time I leave a doctor’s office, a lab or a hospital and realize that I have been given the gift of healing, I say, “Thank you”.

Each time I express my ideas regarding political, social, spiritual topics and realize that I am free to do so, I say, “Thank you”.

Each time I hear news of fellow humans who need support in some way and I realize that I have something to offer, I say, “Thank you”.

Each time I say good-bye to a child in my classroom, to my children, family or friends and realize that we have made a difference in each other’s lives, I say, “Thank you”.

We can never outdo God and the bounty we are given.

We can never say, “Thank you” too often.


Matthew 27:55: A Prayer for Ministering Women

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Mikołaj Haberschrack: The Three Marys, Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of Clopas, Mary mother of James

Mikołaj Haberschrack: The Three Marys, Mary Magdalene, Mary mother of Clopas, Mary mother of James

There were many women there, looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee and helped him. (Matthew 27:55 GNT)

For all the women who work in the margins of society to bring goodness out of darkness, we pray.

And many women were there beholding afar off, which followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him. (Matthew 27:55 KJV)

For all the women who work for justice to bring change to corrupt systems, we pray.

Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. (Matthew 27:55 NRSV)

For all the women who keep quiet counsel as they nurture others through bright days and long nights, we pray.

And there were there many women afar off, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering unto him. (Matthew 27:55 DRA)

For all the women who step forward to lead in spite of blatant barriers and the quiet whispering campaigns, we pray.

There were also quite a few women watching from a distance, women who had followed Jesus from Galilee in order to serve him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the Zebedee brothers. (Matthew 27:55 MSG)

For all the women in the world who follow Christ in deep fidelity, who hold hope against outrageous odds, and who love in the face of anger and abuse, we pray.

For all the women in the world, we pray. Amen.

To compare other translations of this verse, use the scripture link and the drop down menus, and give thanks for the sacred hands of many ministering women.


Luke 8:1-3: Ministering Women – Part IV

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Quentin Metsys: John the Evangelist and the Three Women at the Tomb of Christ

Quentin Metsys: John the Evangelist and the Three Women at the Tomb of Christ

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus, his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalen. (John 19:25)

The courage to do what others will not do. We might all, women and men, have the courage to minister to one another.

The women who had followed Jesus from Galilee went with Joseph and saw the tomb and how Jesus’ body was placed in it. (Luke 23:55)

The persistence to follow once we hear God’s call. We might all, women and men, find the tenacity to remain with one another in Christ.

“Woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who is it that you are looking for?” She thought he was the gardener, so she said to him, “If you took him away, sir, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and get him.” (John 20:15)

The fidelity to follow when there seems to be no hope. We might all, women and men, find faithfulness in the Holy Spirit.

We sat down and talked to the women who gathered there. One of those who heard us was Lydia from Thyatira, who was a dealer in purple cloth. She was a woman who worshiped God, and the Lord opened her mind to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After she and the people of her house had been baptized, she invited us, “Come and stay in my house if you have decided that I am a true believer in the Lord.” And she persuaded us to go. (Acts 16:12-15)

The women we find in scripture struggle against the norms of the times. They remain faithful to Christ and his promise of resurrection. They remain hopeful in good times and bad. They love endlessly with the love of the divine.

We might all, women and men, like the ministering women we see today, be willing to give voice to the voiceless, to persist where others weaken, and to share the startling good news that Christ has redeemed the world.

For more on Lydia, go to: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/all-women-bible/Lydia

Why does it matter that women discovered the resurrected Christ? Visit: http://www.crosswalk.com/blogs/christian-trends/why-it-matters-that-women-discovered-the-empty-tomb.html 


Luke 8:1-3: Ministering Women – Part III

Friday, September 23, 2016

Carracci: Holy Women at the Tomb

Carracci: Holy Women at the Tomb

A Favorite from September 6, 2008.

As the sparrow finds a home and the swallow a nest to settle her young, my home is by your altars, Lord of hosts, my king and my God.  Psalm 84:4

Men and women disciples accompanied Jesus to Jerusalem, to the Cross, and to the Grave.  Women and men sought Jesus at the empty tomb and witnessed to the truth of Jesus’ resurrection.  Their perseverance and fidelity were rewarded by many encounters with the Resurrected Christ.  We too, have the opportunity to encounter Christ as we move along our own Jerusalem road.  We too, might build nests beneath God’s altars as we stop along the way.

We are all God’s ministering children.  Let us, with courage then, take up our personal burden, greet one another with a Christian Kiss of Peace, and join Christ on the road back to freedom.  Let us go up to Jerusalem – women and men together – and minister to one another.  For in this act we will encounter Christ. In this act we will find our own infinity.

For more on women at the tomb, click the image above or visit: https://blogs.thegospelcoalition.org/justintaylor/2014/04/11/women-empty-tomb/ 

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