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Archive for October, 2016


Psalm 105:15: God’s Anointed

Monday, October 31, 2016prophets

Yesterday we spent time with this psalm.  Today we take a deeper look.

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

How do we define faithfulness?  Do we admire our ability to hang on no matter what?  Are we stubborn to a fault in our persistence to see something through?  Do we waver and zigzag in order to gain ground?  Or do we model ourselves after Yahweh who is eternally faithful to his sheep?

Longevity.  Perseverance.  Constancy. 

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

Do we duplicate as much as possible God’s fidelity in our own relationships?  Are we dedicated to truth and openness?  Are we predictable?  Do our relationships create a safe harbor?

Dedication.  Predictability.  Safety.

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

What is it that stands in stark contrast with God’s fidelity?  The pursuit of petty agendas?  Egocentrism?  Meanness of spirit?

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

What do we need to jettison in our lives in order to create serenity and peace in our relationships?

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

How do we imitate God’s bringing forth of unity out of schism?

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

Can we see ourselves as prophets and anointed ones? If not, what do we want to change?  How do we become one with such a one who loves so well?

Longevity.  Perseverance.  Constancy. 

Dedication.  Predictability.  Safety.

For God all things are possible.  In Christ all wounds are healed.  Together with the Holy Spirit we are become one.  We are invited to enter into holy communion with one another.  We are invited to prophesy the Word of God.  We are anointed in God.  We are one in God.  We are blessed in God.  We are saved in God.

Do not touch my anointed ones.  Do my prophets no harm.

Adapted from a reflection written on October 9, 2009.

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Psalm 105God’s Faithfulness

Sunday, October 30, 2016

David Teis: Moses and Aaron

David Teis: Moses, Aaron and Hur

A Favorite from October 6, 2009. 

And the Lord made his people very fruitful, and made them stronger than their foes . . .

In today’s Noontime we are reminded about the exodus story and about how God called a people from slavery.  This a psalm of thanksgiving for a god who, rather than treat his people like toys to play with, rather than demand service and human sacrifice of his people, chooses to protect, call and love them.  Where the following psalm deals with the topic of sin, this one is a hymn of praise for a God who abides by our covenant pact . . . even though we do not.

We also see a theme from the Genesis story of Joseph who says to his brothers: God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance.  (Genesis 45:7)  As in the Joseph story, when ugly things happen we have no way of understanding how God will use the harm directed at us to be converted to good.  So many times – if we can just hold on – we will see the fruitfulness of our suffering when God works wonders with our enemies and with us.

They performed his signs among them, and miracles . . . Moses and Aaron are designated by God as miracle workers among the Hebrews in order that his greatness be known.  We too, are called to work miracles in God’s name so that the world may know God’s awesome power and love.

So he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing . . .

Jesus lives among us to bring us the good news that there is universal salvation for those who choose to follow him.

Jesus works among us to preserve and to protect those who follow him.

Jesus waits patiently for each of us to knock at the great door of his heart to ask for his help so that he, like the Father, may show us his love and his awesome faithfulness.

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2 Chronicles 34Serving the Lord

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Leonaert Bramer: The Scribe Shaphan Reading the Book of the Law to King Josiah

Leonaert Bramer: The Scribe Shaphan Reading the Book of the Law to King Josiah

A Favorite from October 10, 2009.

Several years ago we looked at a portion of this chapter in which we see the story of a leader and a people who come back to Yahweh, back to a life of honesty and integrity.  Here is the brief reflection.

2 Chronicles 34:14 to the end – This is where the young king Josiah ushers in reforms after the corruption which causes the Jewish kingdom to be invaded.  They find the book of the law left with them by Moses and this young king realizes how derelict he and his people have been.  He tries to make reparations and is rewarded with a new covenant.

We might think about how we try to balance making reparations without enabling people to continue bad behavior.  It is such a tight-wire walk.

The tight-wire is the razor’s edge we call living a life in Christ.  Nepotism, a coveting of power, and a desire to live life as we see best rather than as God sees, always leads to downfall.  Downfall often leads to exile.  Return from exile is a gift sometimes granted by God; and we ought not miss the opportunity it brings us to reform, transform and restore.

Josiah cleanses the temple.  He and the people weep as they hear the law read out which ought to govern their lives; they acknowledge that they have strayed.  They work faithfully to restore the structures of the temple that housed the God who chose to live with them.  They put aside their desire for comfort, they turn away from a life in which they idolized themselves, and they renew their covenant agreement with God.

The tight-wire walk re-commences, and a people once lost in themselves returns to serve the Lord.

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Revelation 19:5-10: Victory Song

Friday, October 28, 2016victory

Although we have spent time with this imagery in the past, certain verses made a strong impression on us regarding the two beasts that crawl out of the sea and the earth.  Fascinated, the whole world followed after the beast . . . It performed great signs . . . It deceived the inhabitants of the earth with the signs it was allowed to perform . . . It forced all the people, small and great, rich and poor, free and slave . . . so that no one could buy or sell except the one who had the stamped image of the beast’s name or the number that stood for the name.  (13:3; 13-14; 16-17)

What is it about the shadow world and evil that draws us in?  Do we think we might overcome these forces like a superhero?  What is it about membership in a secret society that lures us?  Is it a feeling of belonging and protection through dark arts we think we might manipulate?

Are we really so susceptible to the siren song of the temptation Adam and Eve first heard:  You can be like gods?  Why can we not see that the God who is Love and Goodness will never force us in any way . . . even if for our own good?  What do we not understand about God that we insist on wanting things our way?  Why can we not be faithful . . . true . . . honest . . . patient . . . and persevering?  Is the reward of happiness not enough for us?  What is it we truly seek?

We move through our weekend errands.  Grocery shopping, haircut, Starbuck’s, bookstore and craft store.  As we bump into friends, visit with children and grandchildren, our existential questions surface each time we pause to allow silence and prayer.  Finally, sitting quietly with scripture to examine the book of Revelation, we find The Victory Song.

The wedding day of the Lord has come and the bride has made herself ready. 

And we might sing . . . The wedding day of the Lord has come and we have made ourselves ready. 

The angel tells us: Blessed are those who have been called to the wedding feast of the Lamb.

When we fall down to worship, the angel replies: Don’t!  I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brothers who bear witness to Jesus.  Worship God.  Witness to Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

We are creatures fashioned to worship our maker.  There is a universal gift to come to this wedding feast as bride, adorned by the white gown of our honest deeds.

Do we think this wedding covenant is impossible?  Is it too much to ask that we worship God only in the company of God’s creation?  Are we waiting to be forced into worship as the adorers of the beast are forced?

Our good and loving God who is rich in kindness forces no one.  This merciful and just God calls each and all.  This adoring and adored God of all Creation wants to rejoice with us in the Victory Song.  This patient God, for whom all things are possible, invites us to the feast as bride to his bridegroom.  All we need bring is our humble and imperfect selves.  Our God, the God who heals and who makes imperfect creatures whole, awaits our answer to his invitation.  Let us sing out our own Amen, Alleluia!

Adapted from a Favorite from October 25, 2008.

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Part III

Thursday, October 27, 2016sword-of-the-spirit2

This Noontime is adapted from a Favorite written on November 11, 2008.

In spiritual warfare we need not connive, we need not plot.  We need only do what we know is right, understanding that we are graced by God.  We need to avoid thinking that we are in control, knowing that God’s plan is always better than our own.  We need to give over everything to God, believing that God turns all harm to good, even – and especially – the ultimate resolution of all conflict.

We are foot soldiers in spiritual warfare, and we know our orders.  We must be patient in our perseverance as we grow to become God’s harvest in God’s time.  We must speak, pray, study, witness, watch and wait.  We must be ready.  This is all that is required of us.  We do not know the hour or time of this warfare’s end; but we know the outcome.  This we have been promised.   This we have been told.  Let us pass the word along . . . that in the hour when we feel most abandoned, we are most accompanied.  That in the hour when we believe all is lost . . . all is truly found.

And so we pray.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned us? We have cried desperately for help, but still it does not come. During the day we call to you, our God, but you do not answer; we call at night, but get no rest.

In the dark hours when we anticipate a resolution for our own plan, we worry that God has disappeared, or perhaps does not exist at all. In the burdensome days we keep watch for any sign that God is near.

It was God who brought us safely through birth, and when we were babies, God kept us safe. We have relied on God since the day we were born, and the LORD have always been our God.

Yet when we consider all that God has done for us, we cannot help but give voice to the hope that rests within, waiting to bloom into fullness.

Our strength is gone, gone like water spilled on the ground. All our bones can be seen. Our enemies look at us and stare.

And when we allow our faith to support us, we cannot help but rise from the ash of all we leave behind into a new dawn and new day, growing in newness.

We will tell our people what God have done; we will praise God in their assembly. We will praise God for all that God has have done. We will offer the sacrifices we have promised.

And when we respond with persistent love, we cannot help but take hold of the promise we already rest in, relying on God’s bounty, relying on God’s boldness, relying on God’s peace. Amen.

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Part II

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Male hands crossed for prayer in dark

This Favorite was written on November 11, 2008.

As the words on the wall of our school’s student dining room remind us:  You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.  (Micah 6:8) There is no mystery in this.  The requirement is simple.  Spiritual warfare is this: Train self in order to invite wisdom; exercise compassion with justice in order to invite goodness.  All the rest follows naturally.  The outcome of good over evil is predictable.  The time of final resolution is not.

All the ends of the earth will worship the Lord; all the families of nations will bow down to you.

In this end which we see but whose time we cannot predict, God is all there is.  The war of life will have been waged and won by God.  Any influence of evil will disappear.  This we have been promised.

I will live for the Lord; my descendants will serve you.  The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you brought.

When miracles happen, we must proclaim them, thanking God.  We must sing God’s praise continually for our blessings great and small because in spiritual warfare the fall of darkness and deceit is brought about in an accumulation of these small songs intone grand chorus.  We also remember that the tiniest of miracles is significant for those to whom they have been granted . . . and that these miracles are a sign of God’s continual presence in our lives.

Tomorrow, foot soldiers. 

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Part I

Tuesday, October 25, 2016spiritual-warfare_edited-1

This Favorite was written on November 11, 2008.

Today, the day on which we celebrate the end of war in many parts of the world, we pause to think about the spiritual warfare in which we are all daily engaged.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?

While still on the cross, Christ appealed to the father with this prayer that generations of his people have used while addressing God in times of stress.  In the NAB the psalm bears the title Prayer of an Innocent Person.  Jesus, the unblemished lamb, dies in innocence, in the act of bringing healing to peoples crying for relief.  But Christ knew, as Paul tells us in Ephesians: Our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens.  Paul describes the armor of God we must wear as we enter into the warfare each day: the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of GodOur feet must be shod in readiness for the Gospel of peace.  (Ephesians 6)

Many bulls surround me; fierce bulls of Bashan encircle me.

Bashan – a land east of the Jordan noted for the size of its animals – provides fierce opposition to the life of a Christian.  Again, Paul reminds us in his letter to Titus how to be consistent with sound doctrine, namely, that . . . [we] be temperate, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, love and endurance, reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not addicted to drink, teaching what is good, so that they may train [others].  (Titus 2) Paul also calls women to a role subordinate to men which was appropriate for the day – and which we now recognize as outmoded in its effect.  The point here is that combat as we witness need not be fierce.  It need only be faithful, prayer-filled, and consistent with the Gospel.

Then I will proclaim your name to the assembly; in the community I will praise you.

Tomorrow, when we are lost we are found.

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Romans 12:1-2: This Age

Monday, October 24, 2016pauls-letter-to-the-romans

Jesus has spoken to his own generation and he speaks to ours.

I urge you, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect. (NAB)

Paul reminds us that our own generation lures us to sleep if we are not watchful.

So here’s what I want you to do. Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. (THE MESSAGE)

We might call one another to holiness, to newness of the heart, to openness of the mind.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, pleasing unto God, your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world; but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good, and the acceptable, and the perfect will of God. (DOUAY-RHEIMS AMERICAN)

A 17th Century depiction of Paul writing his epistles

A 17th Century depiction of Paul writing his epistles

We step outside of that familiar place where we begin as children, come to age as adolescents and form our conscience as adults. We examine our fears, our motives, our addictions and our loves. We take stock of our resources. We rest in God. When we examine our own generation, what do we have to say for ourselves? What do we have to say about this age?

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to examine other translations of these verses, we begin to see humanity’s march toward union in Christ. 

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Luke 11:47-54: A Prayer for This Generation

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Jacob Jordeans: Jesus Driving the Merchants from the Temple

Jacob Jordeans: Jesus Driving the Merchants from the Temple

How terrible for you! You make fine tombs for the prophets—the very prophets your ancestors murdered.

Knowing that all generations falter in their hope to follow Christ, we pray for ourselves and for all who are willing to ask for hope in hopeless situations.

You yourselves admit, then, that you approve of what your ancestors did; they murdered the prophets, and you build their tombs.

Knowing that all generation murder prophets and bury them in white-washed tombs, we pray for ourselves and for all who honor life that comes from God.

How terrible for you teachers of the Law! You have kept the key that opens the door to the house of knowledge; you yourselves will not go in, and you stop those who are trying to go in!

Knowing that all generations hold the key of knowledge and use it for good and for ill, we pray for ourselves and all who continue to prophesize in the face of corruption.

So the people of this time will be punished for the murder of all the prophets killed since the creation of the world.

Knowing that all generations both bless and condemn the Spirit, we pray for ourselves and all who are willing to unravel plots and reveal those who freely deceive others.

When Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began trying to lay traps for him and catch him saying something wrong.

El Greco: The Purification of the Temple

El Greco: The Purification of the Temple

Knowing that all generations lay plots and lie in waiting to put an end to goodness, we pray for ourselves and all who dare to bring light to the world.

When Jesus left that place, the teachers of the Law and the Pharisees began to criticize him bitterly and ask him questions about many things.

Knowing that God’s enormous love is capable of healing all wounds, bridging all abysses, and restoring all peace, we pray for ourselves and for all who persist in carrying God’s love into the world.

Amen.

For more images of Jesus driving the money-lenders from the Temple, click on the image above or visit: http://www.artble.com/artists/el_greco/paintings/the_purification_of_the_temple

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