Archive for the ‘Lenten Practice’ Category

Luke 13:1-9: The Dream of Peace

First Sunday of Lent, February 26, 2023

Zainab Salbi

In today’s reading we watch as the seeds of division are sown by the discontent, the petty and the anxious. They want to know who has sinned and who has not, who is guilty and who is not, who is worthy and who is not. Jesus deftly turns the crowd away from the littleness of their questions and turns them back to the bigness of God. In essence he tells his listeners – as he tells us: there is no need to parse through the little details we drag up as we move through the gossip, scare-mongering and trivialities of our days. There is only a need to reflect the generosity, the beauty and fidelity of God and of God’s creation. There is only the call to bear fruit in the ground where we are planted. It is in this determination to bring good out of bad that God rests. And it is in this same persistence to remain faithful to God that we find God’s hope, and joy and peace.

Tomorrow, our native place.

women for women logoSpend a bit of time today to listen to: Women, Wartime, and the Dream of Peace, a 2010 Ted Talk by Zainab Salbi, an Iraqi author, women’s rights activist, humanitarian, social entrepreneur, and media commentator who founded Women for Women International. Visit the organization Salbi founded, Women for Women International, to see how we might find the peace that is promised to us as we build God’s kingdom today. Go to: http://www.womenforwomen.org/

Click on the images above to learn more, or visit: https://www.w4.org/en/voices/helping-women-survivors-conflict-zainab-salbi/  and http://www.womenforwomen.org/

Between two worldsYou may also be interested in Salbi’s book, Between Two Worlds: Escape from Tyranny: Growing Up in the Shadow of Saddam, that describes her incredible life story, and her up-close experience with tyranny as a daughter of privilege in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

We begin a new Lenten practice this week. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.

Images from: https://www.womenforwomen.org/about/our-team/zainab-salbi and http://www.womenforwomen.org/ and https://www.amazon.com/Between-Two-Worlds-Tyranny-Growing/dp/1592402445/

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Luke 9:8-36: Transfiguration

Sunday, February 19, 2023grymes violins

So many times we are called to Transfiguration.  So many times we are called to Exodus.  So many times we meet angels and prophets and yet do not respond.  We are so caught up in getting through the day, getting through the night, the week, the month, the year . . . the life.

So often we want to pause at a happy spot to set up a tent to house that moment and hold it.  So often we want to wrestle with time until it obeys us.  We live in the past, we live in the future, we live anywhere else but the present, re-living, un-living, projecting, transferring.

Jesus goes up to the mountain with two of his beloved apostles to speak with Elijah, Moses and his Father about the work that lies before him.  Of course he knows what was expected of him – down to the smallest detail – yet he listens to those who have gone before him. He listens to the wisdom of the ages. And he shares the experience with his friends.

violins of hopeJesus shares this wisdom and love with us as well.  He give to us the opportunity of transfiguration of self.  We are not held away from the gift of salvation; rather, we are invited to join Christ’s joy and glory.  So when the cloud descends upon us, and we hear the voice from the mist say: This is my Son, listen to him . . . may we have the courage, the wisdom, the light and the joy to do as we are bidden.  Because through this experience comes a true knowing of God, a true knowing of self.  With this comes an openness to the Word and the Truth and the Light.

As we anticipate our Lenten journey that begins on Ash Wednesday this week, it is good to pause to reflect upon the possibilities offered to us through Transfiguration.

Looking for transfiguration, we begin a new Lenten practice this week. Rather than thinking: “Let us make three tents to contain the joy of God’s wisdom,” let us think instead, “Let us share the joy of God’s great gift of love”.

Tomorrow, the Christ.

grymes bookTo learn more about how the Violins of Hope provide an opportunity for learning and reflection through restored instruments that survived the Holocaust, and to see how Cleveland’s MALTZ MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE offers opportunities of transfiguration, click on the images above or visit: http://www.violinsofhopecle.org/

To hear these violins in concert, go to a CBS video at: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/violins-of-hope/  

Learn about the book Violins of Hope by James A. Grymes at: http://www.jamesagrymes.com/

Images from: http://www.violinsofhopecle.org/ 

Adapted from a Favorite from December 11, 2007.


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Luke 4:1-13: Tested

Luke 4:1-13: Tested


Temptations of Christ – St. Mark Church in Venice, Italy

Sunday, February 12, 2023

After spending forty days and nights in the desert fasting and praying, Jesus resists the temptation to succumb to hunger.

Jesus says: It takes more than bread to really live. We remember . . . Jesus is the bread of life.

After spending forty days and nights in the cold alone, Jesus resists the temptation to wield full and absolute power.

Jesus says: Worship the Lord your God and only the Lord your God. Serve God with absolute single-heartedness. We remember . . . Jesus is Lord of all.

After spending forty days and nights aligning himself with God, Jesus resists the temptation to use God’s power in selfish ways.

Jesus says: Don’t you dare tempt the Lord your God. We remember . . . Jesus is love itself.

When we spend time with The Temptations page on this blog at:https://thenoontimes.com/the-temptations/, we examine the places, times and attitudes when we are most vulnerable to temptation. Then we begin another practice: Rather than thinking: “I am misunderstood,” let us think instead, “God is so understanding”.

Tomorrow, sheep and goats.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Temptation_of_Christ

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Luke 5:27-32: The Great Banquet

Saturday, February 11, 2023luke 5

Jesus tells us many times that his kingdom is like a boundless wedding feast where all come together at the abundant table of God’s love. How can we see ourselves in this gathering where all will be equal, where the little divisions we set up no longer exist, when only unity and charity abide? Jesus calls the tax collector Levi to follow him and then he attends a party in Levi’s home.

Luke sets the stage: Everybody was there, tax men and other disreputable characters as guests at the dinner. 

The scholars ask: What is he doing eating and drinking with crooks and sinners?

Jesus says: Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? I’m here inviting outsiders, not insiders—an invitation to a changed life, changed inside and out.

God says: When you come to my feast you need only focus on your own transformation. If you want to join this banquet of love you must learn to speak its language and to live and act in its culture. Remember your Lenten practice and when you feel that you are asked to do the impossible, remember that with me all things are possible. Put out into deeper waters and shed your fear. No matter the elements or obstacles, my love is great than all of these.

We may be Levi, called to follow and called to celebrate. We may be the Pharisees, sticking to The Law and abiding with the details. No matter our identity, we must allow Jesus to enter into our hearts, and we must allow ourselves to serve as welcome and inviting guests at the wedding feast that is the kingdom of God.

We take care to remember our practice for the week: Rather than thinking, “This will not work,” let us say instead, “If you say so, Lord”.

Tomorrow, temptation.

Image and video link at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0kqpyyUzmf0

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Matthew 9:14-15: Friendly Bonfires

Friday, February 10, 2023atlantic micro

In the U.S. we experience tumultuous political seasons with calls for and against political correctness. Today we continue the conversation about microaggression with an article from Atlantic Monthly. How do the ideas about microaggression, marginalization and victimhood relate to the Gospel? Are there friendly or un-friendly bonfires we may want to douse or fuel? Only our intimate conversations with God and others will reveal God’s truth to us.

Jesus: When you’re celebrating a wedding, you don’t skimp on the cake and wine. You feast. Later you may need to pull in your belt, but not now. No one throws cold water on a friendly bonfire. 

God says: Do you know how often I have heard the familiar phrase that society is worse – or better – than ever? Your ideas are not new ones and when you study the histories of the peoples of the world you begin to understand this. I am always with you and yet you behave as if I have abandoned you. You need not be afraid. Believe me when I ask you to put out into deeper waters. Believe me when I tell you that fasting from food sharpens the senses. Fasting from the world for a little while sharpens the mind. But I am with you, rather than dampen the fires of love, let us call them into mighty conflagrations. 

We explore these and like ideas as we remember our Lenten practice so that we might find wisdom and peace in God’s loving heart.

We take care to remember our practice for the week: Rather than thinking, “This will not work,” let us say instead, “If you say so, Lord”.

Tomorrow, the great banquet.

For an Atlantic Monthly article on microaggression, marginalization and victimhood, click on the image above or visit: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/09/readers-defend-the-rise-of-the-microaggressions-framework/405772/

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Luke 9:22-25: Taking Care

Thursday, February 9, 20232009-02-microaggression_tcm7-74510

Jesus: Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. 

Jesus advises that although his way is genuine it is also difficult. Yesterday we remembered that in order to build the goodness of the kingdom we must take care to keep our eyes on Christ rather than success, wealth or fame. Today we hear Jesus’ words again and we understand that in order to build with Jesus we must exercise great care when we follow the open Way of Christ.

Today we take a look at the idea of microaggression, or everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership”. (from Diversity in the Classroom, UCLA Diversity & Faculty Development, 2014)

We take care to remember our practice for the week: Rather than thinking, “This will not work,” let us say instead, “If you say so, Lord”.

Tomorrow, fasting.

Visit the University of Californian for tools to recognize microaggressions and the messages they send. https://video.ucdavis.edu/media/What+are+MicroaggressionsF/1_sukv7tbn#:~:text=Microaggressions%20are%20everyday%20verbal%2C%20behavioral,come%20from%20well%2Dmeaning%20people

To listen to a public radio podcast of an interview with Columbia University Professor Derald Wing Sue, visit: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/what-is-a-microaggression/ We learn how microaggressions impact people and what we can do to stop them.

A dictionary reference: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/microaggression

Click on the image above to visit: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/02/microaggression.aspx 

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