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Ezekiel 41:16-26: The Interior of the Temple

Herod's Temple

Herod’s Temple

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Do you not know that you are God’s temple; and that God’s spirit lives in you?  If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.  (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Today we read a description of the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of the New Temple in the New Jerusalem. We are members, parts, living stones of this living temple.

As high as the lintel of the door, even into the interior part of the temple as well as outside, on every wall on every side in both the inner and outer rooms were carved the figures of cherubim and palm trees: a palm tree between every two cherubim. (Ezekiel 41:17-18)

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own; you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Each cherub had two faces: a man’s looking at a palm tree on one side, and a lion’s face looking on at a palm tree on the other; thus they were figured on every side throughout the whole temple. (Ezekiel 41:19)

This is the table which is before the Lord. (Ezekiel 41:22)

You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built  on the foundation  of the apostles and prophets,  with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord.  And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)

Do you not know that you are God’s temple?

Do you not know that God’s spirit lives in you? 

You are not your own.

You were bought at a price. 

You too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.  

Amen.


Image from: http://ronleigh.com/bible/olivet/herods-temple.htm

A favorite from September 10, 2008.


Daniel 1: Wisdom and Prudence

Simon Vouet: Allegory of Prudence

Simon Vouet: Allegory of Prudence

Friday, September 23, 2022

In any question of wisdom or prudence which the king put to them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his kingdom.

Just like the Chaldeans, we marvel at the wisdom and prudence coming from one who lives in God.  These holy ones are able to bring light to darkness, reason to insanity, tranquility to the turbulent spirit. We might do well to imitate those who walk with God.  These four men, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, are more free in their captivity than their captors are in their freedom for what they possess is a pearl of great price. They know that we are all children of God.

From MAGNIFICAT:

You chose the lowly of this world to bring salvation to all nations: grant your people the wisdom to seek your love rather than worldly honor.

You chose the faithful to bring forth the fruit of your promise: strengthen us in fidelity amid the uncertainties of our day.

You chose the unexpected to bring forth the gift of life: grant us freedom of spirit to rejoice in your work in every circumstance.

For those who are enslaved by poverty and oppression: send people of wisdom and generosity to discover ways to set them free.

For those who are enslaved by prejudice and fear: send people of courage and self-forgetfulness to keep them out of the darkness.

For those who are enslaved by addictions, recognized and unrecognized: send people enlightened by their own struggles to guide them along right paths.

If we are in the darkness yet see the light, we must take up Christ as our courage to move into that light, and we must try to bring our sisters and brothers with us. If we rise from our suffering, we must turn to others who suffer to likewise bring them out of the darkness and into God’s marvelous hands.


Image from: http://www.prudencetrue.com/january2010.html

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 9.9 (2008). Print.  

A reflection from September 9, 2008.

 


Colossians 4:1-6The Apostolic Spiritcolossians-4-2-ipad-christian-wallpaper-prayer-pray-always-continuously-bible-lock-screens

Thursday, September 22, 2022

If we are ever in doubt as to how we are to behave or how we are to act in any situation, today’s brief reflection tells us all we need to know . . . the Apostolic Spirit resides in our prayer and speech.

An apostle is watchful, thankful, perseveres in prayer and remains open to hearing the Word.

An apostle remains open to speaking this Word to others, and will also make the most of [every] opportunity to speak to outsiders. 

Apostles live the mystery they are given. Apostles trust the creator in all circumstances. Apostles bring hope to hopeless situations. Apostles rebuke gently, love mercifully and always remain open to possibilities.

Apostles cannot carry this spirit in their hearts to hoard it for themselves. This spirit must be shared.

Apostles cannot remain silent when they are called speak.

Apostles cannot perform their mission alone; they must pray constantly and with others.

colossians_4_2--white-800x800And so we pray:

God in heaven, God on earth, we know that we are your instruments for justice among your people. Speak to us today.

Joyful Christ, burdened Jesus, we know that you carry us up mountains and down on our journey. Pray for us today.

Holy Spirit, Loving Spirit, we know that you abide with always when we cry and when we laugh. Renew in us your Apostolic Spirit today. 

May our lives enact the mercy and justice which we are shown. May we be the conveyors of Christ to the world.  Amen.

 


Images from: https://www.idisciple.org/post/verse-of-the-day-colossians-4-2

A Favorite from September 15, 2008.

Joshua 4: Memorial Stones


Joshua 4: Memorial Stonesstanding stones

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

We have reflected on the contents we will find when we open the ark of our lives before God. Will we find stone tablets with God’s law written upon them, or will we see an open and softened heart converted by God’s love? Will we find manna of God’s word that we have kept for ourselves but forgotten to share, or will that sustaining Word be present in our interactions with God’s people and all creation? And will we find the staff of life, the rod of God’s miracles in our lives kept in darkness, or will we see that it blooms in all we think and say and do as a result of our intimate relationship with Jesus? What will we have saved as treasures and tokens of God’s active presence in our lives? Will we want to unpack and re-pack what we find? Will we be content with the content of the ark of our life?

Today’s Noontime continues this story of God’s power and willingness to save. The Israelites have for a second time crossed a rushing body of water that under normal conditions would have swept them away; and what we read about now is their eagerness to record the wonder of this event, how they respond to God’s request that memorial stones be set in place to commemorate the bond between God and this people. And they agree to make a kind of outward and long-lasting verification of their internal union. The stones are there to this day.

When we mark the wondrous times of our lives, we must do so with reverence and joy; we must share the good news of our entering into holy relationship. We must pass the commemorative stories on; and we must be willing to allow the marking stones of our story to remain forever as a sign of God’s goodness. The stones are there to this day. 

We can choose to dwell in the sadness of our journey or we can decide to celebrate and recount the saving power of God. We can curse the darkness in our lives or we can delight in the love we share with our Lord. We can grumble that God has not answered our prayer exactly as we would have liked, or we can set up memorial stones in honor of God’s goodness. The stones are there to this day.

stones-stack-940x360When we stand before our maker, what will we bring with us? What symbols will mark the celebrations in our lives? Will the stones we haul into the waters of the Jordan be meager and small, or will they take effort to move, symbolizing in their greatness the enormity of God’s justice and mercy? Will the stones that we set on the hill for all to see be the ones that lie most convenient to our hands, or will they be ones that take great effort and cooperation with God’s plan to bring to the memorial site? They are there to this day.

When we are called out of chaos into truth and integrity, how will we mark that day? Where will we place our monument? And how will we answer our God? This is what we must decide today.


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Signal_de_Randon_48.jpg

Adapted from a reflection written on September 12, 2009.

 


1 Samuel 2Doom versus Reward

Jan Victors: Hannah

Jan Victors: Hannah

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

We have reflected on how our dry bones can be called to new life through God’s goodness and care. Today we remember a favorite from February 23, 2008. 

We spent time reflecting on this chapter before but we often look at the story of Hannah, her dedication and perseverance through her barrenness, and the reward she received – not only the child Samuel, who was destined to be the last of the Israelite judges who anointed both Saul and David as kings, but three more sons and two daughters (verse 21). We have seen how Hannah endured her trials by waiting actively . . . by watching and witnessing. We have read the verses ourselves, and we have heard them read out from the pulpit, but today we notice something new. The story of Hannah’s devotion to God and her life of witness is interwoven with the threads of another story: Eli and corruption in holy places. We find this dichotomy when we read carefully.

Today’s reflection brings us to these questions: can we see that so often in our lives the reward we receive rises from doom? Can we see that God turns all bad to good when we allow God to intervene in our lives? Can we remain faithful in the face of transgressions in our lives? Can we speak courageously to Yahweh with our petitions for the hopeless places and people in our lives? Can we love those who harm us?  an we live among the corrosion and still persevere in our fidelity to God? Do we believe that when we bring open and ready hearts to God, that God will make all things new?

Eli is held directly responsible for the actions of his sons. The HARPERCOLLINS COMMENTARY points out that the accuracy of the prophecy of the doom of the house of Eli as predicted in 2:34 is a sign that Yahweh keeps all promises. Eli’s two sons will die on the same day (1 Kings 13:3). Although this is a story of suffering, it is good news for us, for just as Yahweh keeps the promise of reward for Hannah and doom for Eli, so too does God keep the promise to all to walk among us as a good shepherd. (Mays 247)

The books of Samuel give the account of a people coming of age and so it is a bumpy narrative; sacred people and places are corrupted by human willfulness and waywardness . . . yet all is not lost.  These books contain the interwoven stories of injustice and mercy, corruption and love, willfulness and endurance, curse and blessing, doom and reward.  We do not have to look very far beyond ourselves to find the Elis and the Hannahs around us.  We do not have to wonder how to rise out of doom to reach our reward.  This is our human story: joy, healing and redemption rising from corruption, deceit and doom.  It is laid open for us today.


Image from: http://findfruit.blogspot.com/2009_01_01_archive.html

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 247. Print.


Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part VIfoundation-277x156

Monday, September 19, 2022

How do we begin to build a strong foundation that will withstand the storms of life and be our constant restoration? Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth show us the way.

Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:10-11)

What do we do once the foundation is laid? Can we expect the difficult part of our work to be complete? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us.

1 cor 3-1As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything’s going your way? (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)

How do we make certain we are doing the correct work? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that we must look to God for our assignments.

We each carried out our servant assignment. I [Paul] planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working. (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)

What is the great reward we expect to have? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that we are each living stones in God’s living temple.

1cor3-16-17-temple-of-god-holy-building-1024x575You are God’s house. Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. (1 Corinthians 3:9-15)

Can we expect to find peace if we hide from the potential God has placed in us? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that the reward may seem like a punishment, but then God’s world is always about inversions.

Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)

lord is spiritWhat will our reward look like after our travail? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that our reward will be greater than any other we will know. Our reward is our life in Christ.

I don’t want to hear any of you bragging about yourself or anyone else. Everything is already yours as a gift—Paul, Apollos, Peter, the world, life, death, the present, the future—all of it is yours, and you are privileged to be in union with Christ, who is in union with God. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)

Spend time with these verses today and compare varying versions. When we spend time with God in this way, God’s wisdom seeps into our bones. Christ’s peace settles into our hearts. And the Spirit binds us to God forever, bringing us restoration.

Tomorrow, words from the master builder, Jesus.


Images from: http://thisismosaic.org/media/messages/ and https://www.flickr.com/photos/cruglobal/8428028010 and http://www.agodman.com/blog/building-the-church-with-and-becoming-gold-silver-and-precious-stones/ and http://ilovemybible.tumblr.com/post/23464357873/2-corinthians-317


Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part Vlighthouse

Sunday, September 18, 2022

If we cannot believe in restoration after the desert, let us at least begin by asking God to strengthen our gift of faith. Just as a mariner trusts that the lighthouse will guide ships past rocky shores, let us trust the Gospel story of Jesus. The writer of the letter to Hebrews shows us the way. From Hebrews 11.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

If we do not have confidence, let us ask God for this gift of sureness.

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

If we do not have understanding, let us ask God for the gift of wisdom.

hebrews_1xIt was by this faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.

If we do not have fidelity, let us ask God for the gift of certainty.

And even when Abraham reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith – for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise.

If we do not see or believe in God’s promise in our lives, let us ask God for the gift of hope.

For Abraham was looking for a city with eternal foundations, a city whose architect and builder was God.

If we do not feel or comprehend God’s power in our lives, let us ask God for the gift of fortitude. And let us pray.

Nat geo lighthouse in stormGood and loving God, your fidelity lives in us although we may not perceive it. Being your creatures we are made of love for love; yet we might not believe this. Breathe new life into those who are discouraged or unbelieving. Bring new strength to those who falter. And shower us with your hope and encouragement so that we might come to fully know, and feel and understand that your only wish for us is our restoration in and for you. We ask this in Jesus’ name, in unity with the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  

Tomorrow, laying a foundation for restoration . . . 


Images from: http://walkbyfaithkkw2011.blogspot.com/2012/05/contentment.html and https://www.pinterest.com/totogale/new-testament-hebrews/ 


Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part IV

Saturday, September 17, 2022

Perhaps the reason we do not find serenity is that we do not ask for restoration. Today St. Paul, in his first letter to Timothy, reminds us that reunion with God is only a petition away. He is a follower of Christ because he answered God’s invitation to follow.

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not find peace is that we do not ask for strength.

I am grateful to him who has strengthened me . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not find solace is that we do not ask forgiveness.

I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and an arrogant man . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not experience love is that we have not shown mercy.

I have been mercifully treated . . .

Perhaps the reason we do not experience transformation is that we do not believe in restoration.

The grace of our Lord has been abundant, along with the faith and love that are in Jesus Christ . . .

Today we spend time with the opening chapter of Paul’s first letter to Timothy and we ponder what our lives might be like if and when we seek strength, forgiveness and mercy. We reflect on the possibility of new life rising from the arid bones of our sorrow.

Tomorrow, finding faith . . . 


Use the scripture link to explore varying editions of 1 Timothy 1.

Image from: https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/what-is-the-significance-of-the-valley-of-dry-bones-in-ezekiel.html


Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part IIIvalleyofdrybones-620x3101

Friday, September 16, 2022

We are too often stunned by the miracle of God’s goodness. We are too seldom in awe of God’s greatness.

We are too quick to offer spontaneous judgments. We are too slow to nurture and sustain ourselves and others.

We too easily forget our own past and project our own future. We too stubbornly refuse to make allowances for others and too rarely walk in another’s shoes.

God has told us how we are to pray. Jesus has told us the words to use. The Spirit has accompanied us throughout our lives and still we look for more information or more excuses.

praying-handsLife is all too complicated. Life is all too simple. If we wish to rise from the dryness of the desert we know what to do. We are to take on the mantel of humility. We are to set aside time to spend with God both alone and in community. We are to love as Jesus loves, knowing that there is but one law that unites us. We are to allow the Spirit to guide and protect, instruct and restore. And we are to let God be God.

In this way we experience the rejuvenating dew of the desert morning that brings all impossibilities out of the darkness of doubt and into the light of probability and surety. And we rejoice as God gathers our dry bones so assemble them in the dance of restored life.

Enter the word restoration into the blog search bar and explore the idea of God’s renewal in us.  

Make an intentional effort over the next four weeks to keep the Sabbath holy. Plan activities with family and friends. Try to stay away from chores and closer to God. And allow yourself to experience the miracle of restoration out of dry bones.  

Tomorrow, what is it we seek?


Images from: http://millennialpastor.net/2014/04/06/lazarus-in-the-valley-of-dry-bones/ and http://www.stitcherydickorydock.com/september-beyond-the-block-be-an-encourager/

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