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Archive for the ‘Mini-Noontime’ Category


Ezra 3: Joy and Worship – A Reprise from November 2014

Thursday, October 5, 2017

We move further into scripture looking for stories of joy that continue to surprise us. To explore other stories, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our story is taken from the Book of Ezra.

After the Babylonian captivity and exile, after the scattering of the twelve tribes to the corners of the known earth, after the loss of hope that those who go out weeping will return rejoicing . . . the faithful receive word that they are to return to Jerusalem.  Two leaders, Ezra and Nehemiah, the priest and the administrator, lead the faithful in a journey of reunion and transformation. As with all people who remain open to the power of the Spirit and the healing of God’s presence, these returning exiles gather to worship Yahweh once again. And they know great joy in abundance.

Ezra 3:12: Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.

James Tissot: Jesus Unrolls the Book in the Synagogue 

Can we imagine the sound of joy that might rise to the skies if we were to thank God for all that we have and all that we are? Can we fathom the power we already hold in our minds and hands if we give all our great and petty worries over to Christ? Can we picture the compassion and healing that we might experience and then share with the world if we open our hearts to the Spirit that already dwells within?

God says: You are rightly focused on the daily task of survival but imagine if you were to trust me more and your own resources less? Do you see how much you have already gained? Can you imagine how much you are yet to receive? My servant Paul reminds my followers in Corinth that “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”. (1 Corinthians 2:9) And this is so. Today you read about how the faithful returned to me and celebrated with liturgy. Do you know how much it means to me when you join my Son, our Spirit and me in beautiful liturgies of Word and Eucharist? Do you know that I have wonderful plans for you? Plans for joy and not for woe? When you doubt, open scripture to see how many times I have already rescued my people. Open your lives and remember how often I have already saved you. Will I not love you even more as our relationship deepens? Will I not bring you even more joy? Have I not already told you that all of this is so?

As we consider today’s Noontime, let us also consider how we might approach liturgies with a new energy. If we do not belong to a worship community, let us explore the possibility of finding or creating one. And if we long to find union that lasts, let us commit to entering fully into our worship community with a new expectation of finding great joy.

To learn more about Ezra and Nehemiah, spend time with the stories in these two books. Enter their names in the blog search bar and explore. Click on the images for other reflections. Or use the scripture link to compare different Bible versions of these verses. 

For a better understanding of these Books, go to: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/e/ezra-nehemiah.htm 

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

 

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Exodus 3:14: Re-Creation – The Multiverse

Easter Saturday, April 22, 2017

In the Torah, we find an early description of God, by God.

God said, “I am who I am. You must tell them: ‘The one who is called I AM has sent me to you.’” (GNT)

In the Torah, we find an early depiction of God as multiverse.

God said to Moses, “I-AM-WHO-I-AM. Tell the People of Israel, ‘I-AM sent me to you.’” (MSG)

In John’s Gospel of Christ’s story, we find Jesus’ own words tell us who he is. “I am the bread of life, the light of the world, the door through which all who yearn to be saved will enter. I am the good shepherd, the resurrection, the way, the truth and the life. I am the vine, you are the branches”. (John 6:35, 8:12, 10:9, 10:11, 11:25, 14:6, 15:5)

God says: The world around you tells you that you are small and that you have much to fear; but this is not so. Although the universe seems like a macrocosm to you, believe me when I say that is it in fact a microcosm in which you are central and essential. My life without you is a great void. My life with you is joy, and light and peace. I know that my essence to you is mystery and that is as it must be. I ask that you bring all that you are to me. Bring your sorrows along with your joys. Bring your anxiety along with your celebrations. Bring every molecule so that I might bring it into union with me and my multiverse. There is life eternal in me. Believe all that you have heard from my servant John. Believe all that your​ faith suggests, all that your hope proposes and all that your love intends. Bring all to me so you might live eternally with the beautiful mystery of my multiverse.

Paul and John have written letters to us so that we might believe. On this Easter Saturday, let us spend time with these verses so that we might truly believe.

To understand the concept of multiverse, we might visit: http://www.amnh.org/learn-teach/adults/hayden-planetarium-programs/hayden-special-event-from-the-big-bang-to-the-multiverse-and-beyond/ or  http://www.space.com/31465-is-our-universe-just-one-of-many-in-a-multiverse.html

Watch the National Geographic documentary describing the existence of the multiverse at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qK-DC6eTlrk 

For a contrary view that we are still looking for evidence of the multiverse theory, read this article at FORBES: https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2017/04/15/ask-ethan-what-was-the-entropy-of-the-universe-at-the-big-bang/#2efd1f797280

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Luke 24:13-35: The Road to Emmaus – Part IV

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

We might imagine ourselves discovering Christ just as we break bread with him. We might imagine his disappearance as a disappointment or as an opportunity to share the joy of Good News with others. Our reaction to Christ’s presence brings us great fear, great sorrow, great joy, or a mixture of many emotions. How do we write our own story?

Christ appears to the Apostles on the road to Emmaus. Mosaic (6th Century mosaic)

They didn’t waste a minute. They were up and on their way back to Jerusalem. They found the Eleven and their friends gathered together, talking away: “It’s really happened! The Master has been raised up—Simon saw him!”

Then the two went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.

God says: You may find this story difficult to believe. You will want assurance that you would not miss my presence among you; yet you need not be afraid. I am not angered that you overlook me, gaze past me, and cringe away from me when I appear as the homeless, the hungry, the refugee, and the poor. When you suffer embarrassment, all you need do is turn to me with a vulnerable heart. When you are uncomfortable each time I come to you as the marginalized, all you need do is open your arms to me. When you are angry with circumstances you cannot control, ask for my guidance and protection. I have the strength and persistence, the love and fidelity, the hope and energy to be with you through every moment of your suffering. Give me your anxiety and fear. Come away and break bread with me. All the rest is nothing. I am all. And I am enough in this day and in all days.

Diego Velázquez: The Supper at Emmaus

When we spend time reflecting on this story, and when we admit the number of times our anger or discomfort have gotten the best of us, we realize that we, like the Emmaus disciples, have the opportunity to break bread with Christ himself.

 

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1 Timothy 1:8-10: Hardship for the Gospelmainslide-come-and-see

Second Sunday of Lent, March 12, 2017

There are many days in our lives when we are too exhausted to hear that discipleship is difficult. We want to hear that someone sees our plight, that we are standing on firm ground, and that help is at hand. This is what Timothy tells us today. There is a source of renewal and strength, and this source is God.

Beloved: bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.

There is one who knows the mountains and valleys of our lives, and this one is the Creator. There is one who walks through pain and joy with us, and this one is Christ Jesus. There is one who lives in despair and hope with us, and this one is the Spirit.

God saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to God’s own design and the grace bestowed on us in Chris Jesus before time began, but now made manifest through the appearance of our savior Christ Jesus, who destroyed death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

God says: I see that you are frightened and cannot see how you can possibly survive your present circumstances; but I assure you that the difficulties you encounter are opportunities for you to work with me. The anxiety and fear you experience are windows of grace for you. And the fear and despair you feel are part of the holy design in which you are taking part. Always remember that you are special to me. You are the apple of my eye, the center of my essence. I will go to the furthest length and the deepest depth to redeem and save you. The hardship you suffer now reflects the grace and joy I find in your persistence in following me. I will never forget you. I will love you always.

As part of our Lenten commitment to follow Christ’s lead, we spend time with this Scripture today and we discover that much greater than our works is the grace of God. Much greater than the hardship we suffer, are the loving heart and hands of God.

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Matthew 21:33-46: Cornerstone – Part III

Friday, March 3, 2017workers-vineyard

The Old Testament foreshadows the promise of redemption and the fulfillment of hope. The New Testament Jesus explains how loss is gain to his disciples and to us when he tells us the Parable of the Tenants in the Vineyard. When we spend time with this story, we see how God turns all hate into goodness, all harm into rejoicing, and all injustice to love.

God says: Sit with me and this story today. Read the words slowly and let them sink into your heart and mind. Repeat the verses until they become one with your sinew and bone. Share your reflection with me and ask me your questions. Share your doubts and fears, your anxieties and anger, your joy and thanksgiving. I am prepared to hear all you have to say about loss and gain, about rejection and praise. When you experience loss, remember this, the very foundation of my love for you stands on my understanding that you will reject me. But my love is greater than any negative thought or action directed at me. I have made you from my, for my love. When you are rejected, remember that I have been rejected too. When you believe yourself lost, you only need extend your hand to me to find all that you believe has vanished for it is in your emptiness that I fill you. It is in your loneliness that you feel my companionship most keenly. And it is in your dejection that you feel the strength of my cornerstone.

To read other translations of this parable, use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare varying versions.

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Deuteronomy 31:12-13: The Aliens Among Us

Saturday, February 25, 2017refugees-have-no-choice

Moses says: Call together all the men, women, and children, and the foreigners who live in your towns, so that everyone may hear [the Law] and learn to honor the Lord your God . . .

God says: Do you notice that I do not ask you to lock the foreigner away from you? Do you understand that I myself am a stranger in a strange land when I walk among you in the person of Jesus? Do you believe that you exclude my Spirit when you build walls and sow hatred? Do you see that it is you who are the alien when you shut yourselves away from others whom I have created?

Our newsfeeds bring stories that can stir both fear and compassion. Our hearts read these verses and nudge us to live in God’s Law of Love. Our spirits weave together as one in God’s great heart.  Moses’ words call us in our own millennium.

 Assemble the people—men, women, and children, as well as the aliens residing in your towns . . .

When we hear the word of the Lord, let us determine to remain open to the aliens among us.

When we read other versions of these verses, we open our hearts to understand the plight of the refugee and alien. Can we predict which cultures or countries take in those who flees oppression? For Figures at a Glance from the UN Refugee Agency that tell the story of who is displaced and who shelters the aliens, visit: http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance.html 

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Matthew 5:38-48: About Revenge – Part II

Monday, February 20, 2017love_your_enemies_by_kevron2001-d9h02h0

Today we continue to explore Jesus’ words from his Sermon on the Mount as we struggle to love our enemies.

Jesus asks us to live in a new way that we revolutionize our relationships. But are we up to this challenge?

You’re familiar with the old written law, “Love your friend,” and its unwritten companion, “Hate your enemy”. I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

Here is another impossible perspective, we tell ourselves. No one would risk so much as to be nice to their enemies. What in the world is Jesus asking? There is no way, we say quietly to friends. I will never see how this can make sense. This is impossible we repeat.  And then . . .

God says: I know the enormity of the challenge I present to you; and I know your depths, your strengths, and the heights to which you might soar. I created you and know you better that you know yourself. The energies of prayer I ask you send to me are precisely that. When you ask me to intercede for someone who has done you harm, those prayers fly to me more quickly than any other petition. I love to see you emulate me in forgiving one another, in allowing one another to grow, in refusing gossip and in nurturing newness. Instead of seeing this as an impossible task, do as Jesus suggests and when you meet those who are hostile, work on yourself. Change your reactions. Take on a new perspective and let your enemies bring out the best in you – not the worst. You will be amazed at the fresh air this new attitude invites. And you will be amazed at the new direction your life will take.

Jesus challenges us to be more that the run-of-the-mill sinner as he reminds us that anyone can love their friends. The true challenge is in loving those who harm us. Do we believe in Jesus enough to take on this challenge?

 

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Matthew 5:38-48: About Revenge – Part I

Sunday, February 19, 2017god-is-love1

For the next several days we will explore Jesus’ words from his Sermon on the Mount. Today, what does Jesus tell us about the freedom we find when we stay clear of the temptation to seek revenge?

Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth”. Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: “Don’t hit back at all”. If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. (MSG)

Jesus challenges us to live generously; yet what does this mean?

This is impossible, we say to ourselves as we hear his words. And a life lived in this way will never work. Who will protect me and my loved ones if I do not? How will I keep the bullies at bay? And how will I avoid being everyone’s doormat? This is impossible we repeat.  And then . . .

confucious-revenge-two-gravesGod says: I am quite aware that many of you see Jesus’ suggestion as an idealistic, and even ridiculous, plan for living. You see the Law of Freedom as a threat to your autonomy. You see the world viewed from this perspective of love – without defenses and using liberal amounts of revenge – as childish. But I say to you that it is childlike. I do not ask you to go into the world completely open to assault; rather, I ask that you use my enormous power, presence and love as a bulwark and as your rock of safety. I ask you to trust me more than you trust your own resources and your little powers. I also ask that you replace your bluster and bravado with my own call to love those who hate you and wish you harm. When you surrender to my Law of Freedom, you give up all pretense of power – and yet you will have more power than you ever imagined. When you remain in and with me, you need not build the walls you falsely believe will protect you. I ask that you put away your childish ways of dependence of self and replace them the childlike life of generosity and openness. I tell you that this new interaction with the world brings you a new freedom . . . and even a new authority, the authority of my love that surpasses all.

Jesus challenges us to live generously. Do we see ourselves as able to follow this call?

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Tobit 4:5-7: Through All Our Days

book-of-tobit1

Mattie Preti: Tobit Blesses Tobias

Friday, February 17, 2017

Tobit gives instruction to his son just as God gives instruction to us.

Tobit says: Through all your days, keep the Lord in mind.

God says: Through all your days, remain in me as I remain in you.

Tobit says: Do not seek to sin or to transgress the commandments.

God says: Through all your days, practice kindness and mercy, charity and forgiveness, and forgive all as I forgive you.

Tobit says: Perform righteous deeds all the days of your life.

God says: Through all your days, witness, watch and wait, calling always on me.

Tobit says: Do not tread the paths of wickedness.

God says: Through all your days, persist in goodness and shun revenge.

Tobit says: Give alms from your possessions.

God says: Through all your days, care for the marginalized, for that is where you find me.

Tobit says: Do not turn your face away from any of the poor.

God says: Through all your days, look on me as I look on you with loving eyes, healing hands, and grateful heart.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore other translations of these verses, we know how to move through all our days . . . whether they be filled with grief or joy.

To better understand the story of Tobit and Tobias, go to: http://www.usccb.org/bible/tobit/0 

 

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