Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for September, 2013

Indescribable


Monday, September 30, 2013

4418670434_2d1d736229[1]1 Peter 1:6-7

Indescribable

In this [inheritance from God] you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Although you may not have seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet believe in him, you rejoice with indescribable and glorious joy, as you attain the goal of [your] faith, the salvation of your souls.

We might imagine the emotions that passed through Jesus’ close companions when he returned to them resurrected.  He moved through locked doors, spoke with them, cooked for them, ate with them.  The sensations they experienced must have been indeed . . . indescribable.

God says: Do you not realize that I come to you each day just as I came to my first followers?  Do you not know that I value your friendship and love so greatly that I am with you always?  Do you not understand that you who did not travel with me in my Galilee years yet still believe in me are my own dear friends? Do not be too critical of your failings and flaws. I created you . . . and I understand who and what I created.  Just come to me as you are with your own sweet imperfections.  Your perfection lies in that you strive to be with me . . . not in living an unblemished life.  When I am with you I feel such indescribable joy.  I give this joy to you.  Come follow me.

For more thoughts on the opening chapter of 1 Peter, enter the words Gift and Call into the blog search bar and reflect.

Tomorrow, an obedience that brings freedom . . .

Read Full Post »


Sunday, September 29, 2013

old-steps[1]Amos 5:7-27 and 6

The Three Woes . . . and Restoration

There is an order to nature.  Things do not happen by chance.  This order comes from God as we hear in the opening lines of Genesis when God brings order and light out of chaos and darkness.  We are the people who have walked in darkness and can now see a great light.  We are messianic people.  We bring light to the world, healing to the poor in spirit, hope to the hopeless, faith to those who live in anxiety, and love to those who have been abandoned or betrayed.

We are messianic people . . . and like Christ, we will be wounded in this journey we make toward the New Jerusalem that we see in Revelation.  We will be hounded, persecuted, stoned, vilified and mocked, but we will also be healed, transformed, lifted up and brought up high, filled, rejuvenated and restored.  Through the prophet Joel, our God tells us: I will repay you for the years which the locust has eaten.  (2:25) 

We are messianic people . . .  and so many times we hear about restoration being promised from the story of Adam and Eve in the first book of God’s word to the last book of God’s Revelation of the New Jerusalem.  We find ourselves slipping into the idea that this restoration comes in the next life but as children of God we are meant to feel this fullness now.  The journey will be arduous but we follow where many have gone before us; it is the very journey itself that restores.

We are messianic people . . . and we are the work of God, therefore we cannot be complacent.  We must move and act in God, for in this way we become the exit from sorrow and woe not only for others but for ourselves.  In serving others from our own wounded-ness and from our own woe, we become healers of others and thereby we become healed.

We are messianic people . . .  and as healers we have a part to play in the Economy of Salvation, in this Divine Plan of God’s for our happiness.  We have an essential part to play in this world and in the next.

We are messianic people . . . and so when we experience woe, we know that we will rest in this grief for a time and we also know that there is joy and celebration to be found in the sadness for as children of God know that God turns all harm to good.

We are messianic people . . . and God yearns for intimate union with us.  This union, so many times found through sorrow, brings complete and everlasting joy.

We are messianic people . . . and so we pray . . .   

Dearest, loving God, draw us close to you for we wish to be with you always.  We know that you are in all things and with all people.  We believe that you set all things right.  We hope for the perfection of your plan in each of us.  We love those who most need our intercession and we understand that by asking for healing for those who need it most we meet you face to face.  We are messianic people . . . and so we seek healing and restoration here, now, and for eternity.  Amen.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 30, 2007.

The journey is arduous but we follow many who have gone before us.  The steps of The Way are well worn . . . and it is the very journey itself that brings restoration.  To read a simple reflection on Hosea 6 and the steps for spiritual restoration, click on the image above or go to: http://upwordtogether.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/steps-for-spiritual-restoration/  This site also archives a one-year study of the Bible beginning at: http://upwordtogether.wordpress.com/2012/08/

Read Full Post »


Saturday, September 28, 2013

During Schumacher's expedition, a rare seal was found with the inscription: "To Shema slave of Jeroboam". This may be King Jeroboam II from 750BC.

During Schumacher’s expedition, a rare seal was found with the inscription: “To Shema slave of Jeroboam”. This may be King Jeroboam II from 750BC.

Amos 4

Impiety Rebuked . . . Restoration

Amos does not mince his words or couch them in easy metaphors; we can see why he was rejected.  His message struck too quickly and too closely to the heart of those who by their actions did not live out the Mosaic Law of honoring the one true God.  Amos lived during the reign of Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.E.) and he pronounced his prophecy at the cult center of Bethel until the priest who was in charge of that royal sanctuary expelled him.

At this time, the northern kingdom of Israel had separated from the southern one of Judea and when we read closely we can see that the priests and the wealthy had succumbed to the lure of the power and control which their office as sacred ministers and leaders afforded them.  Stated bluntly, they abused the gift and power given to them.  They were more concerned about maintaining their control on the temple income derived from the people who brought their offerings as a part of their attempt to seek penance and union with God.  The priests of Israel (the northern kingdom, also Samaria) had separated from Jerusalem (the southern seat of power and worship) and loved their position of wealth, plenty and power.  Amos rebukes these fat, contented people just as Jesus did when he ejected the moneychangers from the temple.

Amos always understands that this perversion of the law is not permanent . . . as much as those in power may wish it to be.  Amos knows that Yahweh will use this harm that the corrupt inflict on those over whom they have control . . . and he knows that Yahweh will turn this harm to good, just as he does with all things that are corrupting.  Yahweh will use these stubborn acts of blindness and perversity to bring about restoration and ultimate union with God.

As with all prophets, Amos is reluctant to speak when called by God . . . yet speak he does . . . and oh, so beautifully.  “His style is blunt and even offensive”.  (Senior RG 362)  He begins chapter 4 by calling the wealthy women cows, the wife of the priest, Amaziah, a harlot.  “He is a prophet in the mold of Elijah, whose denunciations come close to cursing”.   He saw himself as a poor shepherd and farmer with no influence and therefore saw no need to speak softly . . . as he did not expect to be heard.  Amos pronounces doom on those who do not hear and those who are blind to their own actions, and then he goes back to his sheep and sycamores.

Amos’ offer of hope springs not from the idea that this doom and catastrophe for the controlling classes can be avoided, for it is clear that disaster is looming and in fact it does arrive in the form of the Assyrian invasion.  No, the hope that Amos offers lies in the fallen hut of David, the Messiah who is to come . . . Jesus.   Amos tells and foretells those who have ears to listen that we rebuke those who live in flagrant violation of the covenant and then we watch in hopeful waiting for the one who will come to deliver the justice that is so desperately needed.  We wait in joyful expectation the kingdom where compassion and mercy merge with justice and righteousness, where we both rebuke and remain open to wonderful possibilities that can come only with tremendous hope.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 22, 2007.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 362. Print.

To read more about Jeroboam II, click on the image above or go to: http://ramsesii-amaic.blogspot.com/2009/10/jeroboam-ii.html

For more on the Megiddo Seal above, go to: http://www.biblewalks.com/Sites/megiddo.html

Read Full Post »


Friday, September 27, 2013

head_29[1]Amos 9:14-15

Raising Up

I will bring about the restoration of my people Israel; they shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities, plant vineyards and drink the wine, set out gardens and eat the fruits.  I will plant them upon their own ground; never again shall they be plucked from the land I have given them, say I, the Lord, your God.

Evidence and judgment, words and woes, threats and promises, visions of locusts, fire, the plummet, and the fruit basket, condemnation of priests and leaders, prophecy against greed and corruption, the final vision before the altar and then the winnowing sieve.  This prophecy is too much to bear yet just as we are about to put aside forever its dark images and frightening premonition of doom . . . Amos leads us to the place he was always leading us. Amos brings us to the Christ, the Messiah.

God says: You most often find me in the dark valleys of your life for it is the failures, the betrayals, and corruption that bring you swiftly to my side.  Just so does my prophet Amos warn you that my little ones must be shepherded.  My lambs must be tended, my sheep must be led.  Through the suffering, pain and sorrow I am with you.  I have created you and you are mine.  I have loved you and I will never leave you.  I have already rescued you and placed you within the protective walls of my vineyard.  You have been planted upon your own ground and you will never again be plucked from the place I have given you. Yours is the place of honor in my own sacred heart.  This I have promised.  This is the raising up you have been seeking.  This is your raising up that is my gift to you this day.

How does the prophet Amos speak to us today?  What foreshadowing does he share?  What hope does he bring?  What is his promise of raising up for you?

Amos sheepUse your own commentary or one of the links below to learn a bit more about his prophecy.

http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/21356/Amos

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/112277/jewish/The-Prophet-Amos.htm

http://thisischurch.com/christian_teaching/sermon/amos.pdf

Read Full Post »


Thursday, September 26, 2013

sunset-on-the-beach-desktop-wallpaper-sand-boats[1]Amos 9:8-9

The Sieve

But I will not destroy the house of Jacob completely, says the Lord.  For see, I have given the command to sift the house of Israel among all the nations, as one sifts with a sieve, letting no pebble fall to the ground.

The imagery in these verses recalls the Gospel metaphor of the fisherman’s net that draws up many from which the faithful will be chosen.  The rest will be tossed back in to the sea to a fate that is not described for us.  It also reminds us of the many farming images in which the chaff is separated from the wheat, the sheep from the goats.  In this Messianic epilogue to the Amos prophecy we finally see the hope we have awaited.  At last we know for certain that all is not lost. Redemption is at hand. God’s goodness and light and grace are offered to those who mourn and despair while they witness and wait.

Pebbles-on-Sand-40x30-4250[1]God says: Close your eyes and imagine the wide, vast expanse of a sandy beach that runs into rolling waves.  Picture my hands holding an enormous sieve.  Envision this sieve burrowing deep into the sand.  See how carefully I tilt the strainer to look for the precious pebbles I know are buried in the pit of this filter.  Each tiny stone is known to me.  Every nugget is a gem for my crown.  It is these small jewels I will seek endlessly, never losing hope that you are there, never giving up from the strain of the work, never forsaking or abandoning you, never letting even one of you drop to the ground. 

Today’s Noontime reminds us that God seeks us more ardently than we seek God.  These verses recall for us the depth and breadth and length of God’s love.  This final perspective that Amos opens to us brings us up from the valleys of our despair and into the heights of rejoicing.  Amidst the billions of grains of sand God has an eye and an ear poised to catch each one of us in the great winnowing sieve of God’s love.

Read Full Post »


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

will-religion-become-a-thing-of-the-past.jpg.crop_display[1]Amos 8:11

A Famine of Hearing

Yes, days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send famine upon the land; not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the Lord.

The Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 begins: Hear, O Israel!  And yet, do we listen? In 1 Samuel 3:11 we are told: The Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle”.  The prophet Isaiah tells us Isaiah 30:21: Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. From Jeremiah 19:3: Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold I am about to bring a calamity upon this place, at which the ears of everyone that hears of it will tingle.  And Ezekiel 12:2: Son of man, you live in the midst of the rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear; for they are a rebellious house.  Zechariah 7:11: But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing.  And Jesus in Mark 4:23: He who has ears to hear, let him hear.  And yet . . . do we listen?  What is the origin of our famine of hearing?

God says: When a large crowd was coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to him, he spoke by way of a parable: “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled underfoot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.  Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As he said these things, he would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  (Luke 8:4-8)

For millennia God has spoken to us.  We humans have the spiritual ears to hear.  Let us be bearers of the word, witnesses of the kingdom, and carriers of the Good News.  And let us do all that we can to end this famine of hearing.

For more information about The Shema, visit: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/shema.html or enter the word Shema in the blog search bar and explore.

For a commentary on the famine of the word (“Will Religion Become a Thing of the Past”), click on the image above or go to: http://www.ucg.org/commentary/will-religion-become-thing-past/

Read Full Post »


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

panier-fruits[1]Amos 8:1-2

Ripe Fruit

This is what the Lord showed me: a basket of ripe fruit. “What do you see, Amos?” he asked. I answered, “A basket of ripe fruit”. Then the Lord said to me: The time is ripe to have done with my people Israel; I will forgive them no longer”.

Still the dreadful visions assault us – presenting a God who exacts punishment for acts of commission against the weak and vulnerable, for acts of omission for the times we have not answered God’s call.  These images conjure up our worst fears. We do not like the ugliness of these scenes.  We shrink from the exacting accountability that challenges us. We reject this God of terror and fear.

God says:  My servant Amos was not an eager prophet – he preferred to tend his flocks of sheep and prune his orchards of sycamore trees – yet he answered my call. These visions are not meant to frighten you but they are a reality we must confront with honesty.  My heart yearns to soften those hearts of stone that subjugate the vulnerable, those stiff necks that turn away from my lambs who suffer.  My arms take up all those who run or fly to me.  I mean to inspire love, awe and joy.  These cruel visions are not my hope for you; rather, they are a genuine reflection of the viciousness that is always an option before you.  They are the cruelness each of you may choose if you choose the evil road. Look into your own hearts.  Turn away from this violence and come to me. 

What do we do about famine in our world?  To read about Hunger in the world today, go to: http://www.actionagainsthunger.org/impact/nutrition?gclid=CJuMoqL70LkCFYWd4AodbgwAYQ

What do we know about Refugees in our world? Examine facts about refugees today at: http://www.unhcr.org.uk/about-us/key-facts-and-figures.html

What is the ripe fruit we offer to God?  How do we answer God’s call?

For a reflection on Amos 8, click on the image above or go to: http://cove-bibletalk.blogspot.com/2013/07/the-lectionary-passages-for-sunday-july_17.html

Read Full Post »

Locusts


Monday, September 23, 2013

Locusts arrive in Israel in spring 2013

Locusts arrive in Israel in spring 2013

Amos 7:1-3

Locusts

This is what the Lord God showed me: He was forming a locust swarm when the late growth began to come up [the late growth after the king’s mowing]. While they were eating all the grass in the land, I said: Forgive me, O Lord God! How will Jacob stand? He is so small!  And the Lord repented of this. “It shall not be,” said the lord God.

We have read through the words and woes that Amos offers us so that we might examine our lives to see how we deal with those who suffer oppression.  We have asked ourselves if we are victim or bully, one with a great deal or one with little.  Today Amos presents us with the first of several visions. What can these locusts mean?

God says: The king has taken his first cutting of the harvest and has left the second growth for his people but locusts arrive and devour all that gives sustenance. Calamity strikes. Fear grips everyone and yet remember . . . I will tend to the faithful. They shall not perish.  It shall not be. Even amidst the swarm of locusts that devours all in its path.

In some parts of the world the threat of swarming locusts is a very real hazard but although for us the threat of total devastation is a distant threat we know the unease that comes with impending doom.  Natural disasters, acts of criminal violence, medical aberrations are all present dangers to our  comfortable living.  In Old Testament thinking we would assume that these calamities tell us that we have somehow angered God.  New Testament thinking tells us that although catastrophes occur we are likely not to blame . . . and it reminds us that we can rely on God to say: It shall not be. 

To read news about a locust invasion in the Middle East in the spring of 2013, click on the image above or visit: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/06/israel-braces-for-locust-invasion-ahead-of-passover_n_2816136.html

To read more about the locust, go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Desert_locust

Read Full Post »

Wisdom, Signs and Debates


Sunday, September 22, 2013

scribe2[1]

Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age?

1 Corinthians 1:20-25

Wisdom, Signs and Debates

As we read these words of Saint Paul we might think we are listening to political commentary on recent world and local events.  Crisis brings out the worst and the best in us. Questions are asked but the answers are often not heard.  Let us put a little time aside today to listen for God’s wisdom, to see God’s signs and to allow God to bring all debate into union with The Word.

Where is the wise one? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age?

We cling to political views without considering how or even if they reflect the Gospel.

Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?

We wage wars and neglect the poor without seeing the chaos that these actions add to an already fractured world.

The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

We continue to rely on our own small powers more than God’s limitless ones without hearing these words in the context of today’s world.

And so we pray . . .

Patient and loving God, send us your wisdom and teach us how to replace our own human folly with your Word. 

Good and forgiving God, continue to bless us with your many signs and open our eyes and ears and hearts to your voice and your touch.

Mighty and all-encompassing God, support us as we search blindly for you; protect us as we struggle to follow you, and guide us as we stumble beside you.

We ask this through your son Jesus the Christ together with the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

To better understand the value of scribes in the biblical world, visit: https://bible.org/seriespage/scribes

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: