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Luke 21:5-6Destruction of the TempleGods-own-heart

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Yesterday we reflected on the idea that Jesus replaces the Jerusalem Temple, and that Jesus invites us to be stones in this temple.  He describes the coming destruction of this house where God abides; but although they have ears to hear, eyes to see and hearts to comprehend and live this message, the people do not understand what Jesus tells them.

Nor do we.

Each time we focus on our own needs and fears rather than placing faith in the Creator, we have ears but do not hear.

Each time we lust after our own outcomes rather than the hope delivered to us by the Redeemer, we have eyes but do not see.

Each time we sink into revenge rather than rise in petition for our persecutors, we have hearts but do not love.

Each time we gnash our teeth and pull out our hair about what we perceive as a stone in our path, we reject the nurturing care of the Holy Spirit.

From yesterday’s Noontime Reflection:

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.  

And so we pray.

Good and great and wonderful God, guide us in understanding that we are a diverse people with diverse views and diverse voices coming together in your everlasting sacred heart.  Help us to see that the new temple rises from the lessons learned in the destruction of the old. Walk with us as we go up to the New Jerusalem knowing that we are gifts to one another and to you, knowing that we are a collection of pearls purchased at a great price by Christ, believing that we are not our own, living in your Spirit of grace, and peace and joy. We ask this of you today and all days. Amen.


Image from: http://revivenations.org/blog/2013/06/13/david-man-after-gods-heart/

Adapted from a reflection written on September 11, 2008.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part IIwith-God

Thursday, September 15, 2022

At the end of chapter 37 is the Oracle of the Two Sticks in which we understand that the two kingdoms will be re-united (something thought totally impossible) and the true Davidic king will reign eternally from Jerusalem – Jesus. The chapters following this one describe the battle against Gog, again a dramatic description, and the end-of-time feast in the restored Jerusalem. In all, this portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy tells the reader that what is thought impossible . . . is possible for God. It tells us that God does not abandon us even when we abandon God. It tells us that God loves us and God is constantly with us, even when we have turned away.

The most hopeless of cases have hope in them somewhere, but it takes an act of great love to resuscitate what has been lost.  God does this for us, and God calls us to do the same for one another.  When we move through a desert experience it is difficult to believe that God is with us; but this difficulty does not make God’s love more distant. Through the visions of Daniel and Ezekiel we see that with God all things are possible. It is possible to move toward our own conversion. It is possible to move away from the brittleness of the dry bones and toward the refreshing, renewing waters of restoration in the New Jerusalem.

There is a line from an old novena to St. Jude that I remember: When the difficult was too great to bear, Saint Jude somehow managed to see that it was lifted.  It was almost as if he had set the pattern for one of the branches of the armed services: “The difficult I shall take care of immediately; the impossible (in terms of human power) may take a little longer”.  Faith found that humility means power in the eyes of God.

Jesus saidAnd so we can petition God for forgiveness – which God freely gives. We can ask for restoration. And this God also gives.  We can come before God humbly as we stagger through the deserts of our lives, and we can ask that God grant us all that we believe to be impossible. And God will always answer.

In MAGNIFICAT on Saturday evening, there was a small reflection at the beginning of the Evening Prayer: God is present in the deserts of our lives.  It is in the desert that God revealed himself to Abraham.  It is in our dryness and desolation that God is often working the most marvelous transformations.  Let us rejoice in this blessed desert . . . where Christ reveals himself.  

As we tumble into our beds, perhaps weary at the end of a dry day full of impossibility, let us remember to pray for the impossible as the psalmist does in Psalm 63.

O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting. For your love is better than life, my lips speak your praise. So I will bless you all my life, in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul shall be filled as with a banquet, my mouth shall praise you with joy. On my bed I remember you.  On you I muse through the night for you have been my help; in the shadow of your wings I rejoice. My soul clings to you; your right hand holds me fast.

 As we begin our days that promise impossibility, let us remember . . .

O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting.  Your love is better than life . . . My souls clings to you . . . your right hand holds me fast.  Amen. 

Tomorrow, praying for the impossible . . . 


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 26.1 (2008). Print.  

Adapted from a reflection written on February 1, 2008. 

Images from: https://olayemirichard.wordpress.com/2015/02/16/with-god-all-things-are-possible/

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part Iwasted food

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Today’s verses for reflection are the famous “Dry Bones” of Ezekiel, the metaphor which describes the reunion of our own body and soul at our own resurrection.  This book is a panoply of images, for this prophet speaks in a variety of metaphors which, when examined, bring the understanding that the oasis mirages of the desert are possible.  Restoration after great tragedy can happen – not because of our own good works, but because of God’s infinite and ever-abiding compassion.

Several summers ago I had the gift of living in the Arizona desert for a week to witness the quiet but sudden blooming which happens after a rain. Tiny delicate yet sturdy flowers pop up overnight after a scattering of dew . . . and then disappear again with the heavy noon sun. The constant cycle of arrival and departure is fascinating.

So, too, are Ezekiel’s bones which clamber together to form full figures. This dramatic imagery came to the Jewish people when they were well into their exile, well into the desert, without much hope or recourse to salvation, or so they thought.  When the prophet is asked if he thinks it possible that the desiccated bones might rise to take on flesh and function again, he wisely replies that only God can answer that question.  What follows is an interesting interplay in which Ezekiel is invited to take a part in this resurrection which does occur quite dramatically. What was thought as lost has been found. And restored. The people who had no temple, no visible home for Yahweh, had never been abandoned by their God as they had thought. The dry bones rise, take on flesh, and live.

Tomorrow, oracles and more possibilities . . . 


Click on the image above for more of Chef Barber’s vision or visit: http://www.karenandandrew.com/2015/03/chef-dan-barbers-vision-to-slash-food-waste-transforms-blue-hill-into-wasted-through-march-31st/ 

And as you consider resurrection from desolation, you may want to read about chef Dan Barber who pulls together exquisite meals from food that would otherwise be thrown away. http://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/waste-not-want-not-eat-up

Adapted from a reflection written on February 1, 2008.

 

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Deuteronomy 11: Wonders

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Love the Lord your God and always heed God’s charge.

The wonder of God’s love is so easily overlooked, so quickly put aside.

The land into which you are crossing drinks in rain from heaven.

We often think of rain as an obstacle for some activity we have planned, or as a spoiler of an otherwise beautiful day.  In this reading, we pause to remember that it is the rain that nourishes and sustains.

Take these words of mine into your heart and soul.  Bind them at your wrist as a sign, and let them be a pendant on your forehead. 

These are the words we hear echoed with the Shema of chapter 6 verses 4 to 9.

Teach them to your children, speaking of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. 

These are concepts we speak to ourselves but that we hesitate to speak to others, especially when we are rushed or tired.

You are about to cross the Jordan to enter and occupy the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you. 

We have been assured a fertile place in which to flourish, a land of promise and goodness.

We have been guaranteed a love far greater than any we can imagine, a love that forgives always, a love that never diminishes or loses interest.

We have been asked to keep these words close and to repeat them to those who follow.

We have been asked to hold God close, to follow God’s way, and to call others to likewise follow.

This request is not a great one when what we receive in exchange is the gift of eternal life, of eternal nourishment, of eternal love, of eternal wonder at the goodness of our God.


Click on the image above to learn more about the Shema, or visit: https://www.learnreligions.com/what-is-aishes-chayil-p4-2077021

A Favorite from Monday, April 26, 2010.

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