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give_thanks_with_a_grateful_heartWednesday, September 22, 2021

Psalm 138

Hymn of a Grateful Heart

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart. I bow low toward your holy temple; I praise you name for your fidelity and love.

God says: I know that you are grateful but it is good of you to tell me. Keep in mind that you are my temple so remember to care for yourself even as you care for others in my name.

You have exalted over all your name and your promise. When I cried out, you answered; you strengthen my spirit.

God says: I am always with you although you may not sense it. I smooth many obstacles for you each day and when you meet the obstacles that frighten you, know that I am with you. You cannot fail. There is nothing to fear.

The Lord is on high, but cares for the lowly and knows the proud from afar.

God says: My prophet Jeremiah tried to tell the leaders of my flock that they had erred. They did not listen. You are prophets in your own day and you warn of danger; yet you are also ignored. I see your exhaustion but I am telling you that you need not expend yourself totally. Do what is right. Listen to my word and share it. When darkness arrives I am with you. My light will pierce that darkness and all truth will be revealed.

Though I walk in the midst of dangers, you guard my life when my enemies rage. You stretch out your hand; your right hand saves me.

happy grateful peopleGod says: I know that you are grateful and it is good of you to tell me. My promise is genuine. My compassion is complete. My hope is eternal. My love is trustworthy. You are made in my image and so I look for the truth and integrity I planted in you in the moment I first thought of you.  

The Lord is with me to the end. Lord, your love endures forever. Never forsake the work of your hands!

God says: There really is no end for you are eternal. Rest in me today and allow these words to seep into your sinews. Relax with me today and let the words and hope of my prophet Jeremiah console you. Abide with me today and reflect on this prayer. I am with you always and everywhere. You are the work of my hands. I cannot forget you. I will not abandon you. I will always guide and protect you. Of this you may be sure.


Compare different versions of Psalm 138 through the scripture link above. Choose other versions with the drop down menus and spend some quiet time with God. Allow God’s word to seep into your bones. Give all of your fears, anxieties and worries to God. And offer up a hymn of thanksgiving from a grateful heart.

To see and hear the Westminster Abbey Choir sing Psalm 138, go to YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNqvpM2MFYM 

Image from: http://pastorfergus.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/this-sunday-were-giving-thanks-at-st-pauls-together-for-gifts-to-share/ 

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Holy Monday, March 29, 2021

promisesAmos 9:13-15

Keeping Promises

The prophet Amos was particularly insistent about the Covenant promises the Jewish people did not keep, especially regarding issues of social injustice. We have spent a number of days reflecting on this prophecy and we have seen the conciseness and force with which this fiercely independent prophet calls us to observing the importance of keeping our Covenant Promise with God. Amos reminds us of what is most important in life: the return to out true nature as loving children who trust in God alone when we find ourselves suffering acutely. We are accustomed to thinking of Social Injustice in the wide and sweeping scale of one people against another; but injustice also takes place on a personal level of an individual against another, or one small group against another. There are many times in our lives when we have been involved in unjust relationships – either as an aggressor or as the innocent – and this calls us re-evaluate the promises we keep, with whom, and why. So as we walk through Holy Week with Christ, let us pause to evaluate.

God always keeps promises. Do we keep our promises to God, to others, and to ourselves?  What do we do with the Gift of Promise God places in us?


Adapted from a reflection written on March 27, 2008.

To view a trailer with an interesting presentation of God’s promises produced by Worship House Media, go to: http://www.worshiphousemedia.com/mini-movies/18865/Promises

Image from: http://productivelifeconcepts.com/how-to-keep-your-promises-especially-the-ones-you-make-to-yourself/

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Archbishop Oscar Romero

Archbishop Oscar Romero

Fifth Sunday of Lent, March 21, 2021

Amos 7:10-17

Amos and Amaziah

In a wonderfully written essay posted on July 5, 2010, Dan Clendenin weaves the stories of Amos of Tekoa with Oscar Romero, the martyred Salvadoran Archbishop.  Clendenin points out that the story of the meeting between these two men, prophet and priest, would light up the blogosphere if it took place today.

Even when we are warned of impending doom, we manage to convince ourselves that all is well.

Even when we see violence happening to our relatives and neighbors, we convince ourselves that we are not part of the ugliness.

Even when the evidence is incontrovertible, we continue to believe the illusion that we ourselves have created.

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us consider who might be the Amaziahs in our lives. Who is it we believe without questioning? Who keeps us comfortable and creates a place for us in which we cease to question or even think? Who convinces us of the lies we plan together?

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us consider who might the Amoses in our lives. Who brings us truth that makes us uncomfortable? Who challenges the easy stories that rise out of falsehood? Who calls us to our better and brighter selves?

As we continue our Lenten journey, let us pledge to spend daily quality time with Christ who is our best and constant teacher. Let us promise to listen for the words of true prophets who bring us a reality we may not see. Let us promise to see the woes of the world as they really are and not as we wish them to be. And let us promise to keep always before us clear visions of the kingdom of God that Amos calls us to see.


To view a powerful music video about Bishop Oscar Romero, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=21CN815v2G0&feature=youtu.be  and to learn more about The Martyr’s Project, go to: http://www.themartyrsproject.com/index2.html

To read Clendenin’s post, visit the Journey with Jesus blog at: http://www.journeywithjesus.net/Essays/20100705JJ.shtml

To learn more about Oscar Romero and more about the International Day of Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of Victimsvisit: https://www.un.org/en/events/righttotruthday/romero.shtml 

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earth-from-space-day-night[1]

Friday, December 25, 2020

James 5:7-10

Behold!

Behold, brothers and sisters, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brothers and sisters, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the judge is standing before the gates. Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers and sisters, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.

Modern humankind has established an outpost in space, giving us a perspective of our world that the ancients could only imagine. Perhaps in our century we have strayed too far from the simple tasks of reaping God’s gift of bounty. Perhaps we have taken too much for granted the miracle that is our world. Perhaps we have learned to ignore the miracle of the Nativity.

God says: In your rush to understand me you may lose me.A bide with me for you are Christmas people who bring the Good News to the world. In your eagerness to explore my universe you may forget me. Remember me for you are Christmas people who bring authenticity and honesty to the world.  In your haste to acquire and store up you may overlook me. See me in those who have little for you are Christmas people who bring Christ himself to the world. Behold and celebrate the importance of the Nativity. Behold and share my generosity with others who have nearly nothing to sustain them. Behold and love those who suffer.  Behold . . . and be Christ in the world.

When we remember the miracle of Christ’s Nativity we also remember the patience of the prophets who foretold this arrival. We retell the stories of apostles and disciples who endured through hardship and we also tell our own stories of endurance and fortitude. When we behold the precious fruit of this Messiah who is delivered of a woman in a lowly place in a small town we also behold our own smallness and celebrate God’s gift of Christmas, for we are Christmas people.

During Christmas week . . . what did the prophets foretell?


What does it mean to be Christmas people?  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O1KsGtMZ9HI Click on this link to listen to I Will be Here by Steven Curtis Chapman, reread this post and consider . . .

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Thursday, December 17, 2020

12_30_presentation[1]Luke 2:29-35

Nunc Dimittis

Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen tour salvation, which you prepared in sight of all the peoples, a light for the revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.

Nunc Dimittis, also called the Song of Simeon, in the New Testament, a brief hymn of praise sung by the aged Simeon, who had been promised by the Holy Spirit that he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. Simeon was at the Temple in Jerusalem when Mary and Joseph came to present the infant Jesus for the rite of purification according to Jewish law and custom. Simeon recognized the baby as the promised Saviour, took him in his arms, and raised his hymn of praise. Found in Luke 2:29–32, it is called the Nunc Dimittis for its first words in the Latin of the Vulgate Bible: Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domine, secundum verbum tuum, in pace, “Now, Master, you can let your servant go in peace, just as you promised.” Because of its implications of fulfillment, peace, and rest, the early church viewed it as appropriate for the ending of the day. Since the 4th century it has been used in such evening worship services as Compline, Vespers, and Evensong”.  (“Nunc Dimittis”)

“A third Lucan theme is offered by old Simeon in his inspired benediction, the Nunc Dimittis . . . Simeon, a pious man longing for “the consolation of Israel” (the messianic age), is assured by the Holy Spirit that he will live to see it.  The Holy Spirit leads him to the Temple at the time of Jesus’ presentation and inspires him to know the child is God’s Messiah.  In his inspired song, he declares Jesus to be the means of salvation for all people, Jew and Gentile.  On that conviction rests Jesus’ ministry and the mission of the church”.  (Mays 932)

How blessed are we that we need not await God’s coming to live among us, for Christ lives in us today.  How sanctified are we to be children of God, for we are sisters and brothers of Christ. How holy are we to have God the creator to guide us, Jesus the Redeemer to lead us, and the Spirit Consoler to abide with us, for we are called to live the new Law of Love.

The child for whom Simeon waited for a lifetime is among us this day.  Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace.  Now, Master . . .


To hear this canticle set to music and sung by the Ely Cathedral Choir, go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGotSUuwjaY 

For more information and the Latin version of this canticle, click on the image above or go to: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/liturgicalyear/prayers/view.cfm?id=982

For more reflections on this evening canticle and Simeon, enter the word Simeon in the blog search bar.

“Nunc Dimittis.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 12 Dec 2013. .

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

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Job 3: Job’s Plaint

Saturday, October 26, 2019

If you have time over the week-end, spend some of it with this most important book of wisdom and a commentary.  These are words we may all write from time to time in our pilgrim journey home.

Job, innocent of wrong-doing, has all taken from him – family – friends – wealth – health.  There is nothing left and he is in turmoil because his friends advise him that all he need do to regain his former security and status is to repent of his wrong-doing.  They chide him, assuring him that once he confesses his suffering will cease.  In the OT, suffering is often sent as a form of punishment for straying from God, so even though Job might look for sins to confess in order to gain peace, he is helpless in his situation because . . .  Job has done nothing wrong.  He suffers because Satan plays a game with God.  There is no reparation he can make.  There is no problem to solve.  No forgiveness to ask or receive.  However, there is one thing which Job has – and perhaps his wife and friends do not – he has an enduring and persevering faith in his Maker.  And so this is where he turns.  And as he turns to this wondrous, awesome God, Job speaks from a broken heart.

Once when I was working through something deeply personal, I was lovingly haunted by a song by a Christian artist named Steven Curtis Chapman.  The words are below, as is a link for the music.  May they bring you peace when you find yourself writing your own plaint to God.  And may you rest in the certain knowledge that we are never alone, we are never abandoned.  We are constantly held, constantly loved.

Be Still and Know

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is holy
Be still, O restless soul of mine
Bow before the Prince of peace
Let the noise and clamor cease
Be still

Be still and know that He is God
Be still and know that He is faithful
Consider all that he has done
Stand in awe and be amazed
And know that He will never change
Be still

Be Still, and know that He is God
Be Still, and know that He is God
Be Still, and know that He is God

Be Still; Be speechless

Be still and know that he is God
Be still and know he is our Father
Come rest your head upon his breast
Listen to the rhythm of his unfailing heart of love
Beating for His little ones
Calling each of us to come
Be still, Be still . . .

You may also want to read Psalms 37 and 46 and . . . Be still . . .

Hoping you enjoy a long and peaceful week-end.


For the music that accompanies these words, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHlbnNUHQGI&noredirect=1

First written on October 10, 2008. Edited and posted today as a Favorite. 

For more on Being Still, enter those words into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: http://angelaambroise.blogspot.com/2011/05/stillness-brings-forth-births.html

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Psalm 4: Joyful Confidence in God

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

This cannot be more simple, nor can it be more complicated.

As humans, there is only one thing required of us – that we trust God and allow God to move in our lives.

As humans, there is only one thing we wish to have for ourselves – control of all we and others say and do.

If only we might be as ardent in our following God as we are in our building up of our self defenses.

From the St. Joseph Psalter footnotes: Those who are well established in life delude themselves by seeking happiness in riches and worldly vanities.  The psalmist, rich in divine trust and joy, invites them to discover the price of God’s friendship: “the light of God’s face”.  This is an evening prayer (see verses 5 and 9), filled with desire for God; Christians move beyond its earthly perspectives.  Prayer brings openness of heart, assurance of God’s help, faith, divine approval, joy, and peace. 

The poor often have more confidence in God than the wealthy . . . because when there is no earthly place to fall back . . . we realize that there is only God.  The things of this world upon which we depend are only illusions.  We live in the dream that this world is real . . . even when we are told so often that this world is passing away.  Thinking in this way, we realize that our comfort may well get in the way of our spiritual development.

From the week-end intercessions in MAGNIFICAT.

When we waver, make us firm.

When we refuse to do your will, soften our hearts.

When we forget we are your children, bring us back to you.

Amen.


For some links to music which celebrates our joyful confidence, click on the image above or go to: https://todaysworship.wordpress.com/2012/09/10/todays-worship-dailyseptember-10-2012/

THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 30. Print.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 9.25 (2008). Print.

First written on September 29, 2008. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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Psalm 46:11: Be still . . . 

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Psalm 46:11Be still, then, and know that I am God.

God is everything.  God is all.  God is one.  God is whole.

God says: In the clamor of your days it is difficult for you to hear my voice; yet still I speak.  In the blur of daily activity it is difficult for you to feel my presence, yet still I am.  In the haze of uncertain relationships and unsteady events it is difficult for you to know my love, yet still I wait for you. I will never leave you.  I will never betray you.  I will never change.  If you seek something immovable, constant and true, seek me.  I wait for you still.

Wishing you a peaceful evening on this day which may have been filled with much activity.


Image from: http://itisbygrace.blogspot.com/2011/01/you-need-only-be-still.html

A re-post from July 4, 2012. 

To listen to the Steven Curtis Chapman song Be Still and Know click on the verse cited above or go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lHlbnNUHQGI

For more on this verse go to: http://www.christiancourier.com/articles/1245-be-still-and-know-that-i-am-god

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Isaiah 55: An Invitation to Grace

Saturday, June 8, 2019

All you who are thirsty, come to the waters . . .

We are told in the story of the Revelation (7:16) that those who thirst will find true water which quenches forever.

I will renew you with the everlasting covenant . . .

We are told by the prophets Jeremiah (23:4) and Ezekiel (34:16) that the true Shepherd has promised to bring all of his sheep home from all the places to which the false shepherds have scattered them so that none of them shall be missing.

Seek the Lord while he may be found, call him while he is near . . .

We are told in the Gospels to knock, ask, and seek (Matthew 7:7, Luke 11:9) while the bridegroom lives among us (Matthew 9:15, Mark 2:19, Luke 5:34, John 3:29).

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord . . .

We are told in the first letter to the Corinthians (13:1) that our childish ways are not the childlike ways in which God asks us to walk; and in Ephesians (2:2) that the ways of the world are not God’s ways.

For just as from the heavens the rain and snow come down and do not return there till they have watered the earth, making it fertile and fruitful, giving seed to him who sows and bread to him who eats, so shall my word be that goes forth from my mouth; it shall not return to me void, but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it.

We are told in Ezekiel (37:27) that God will dwell among his people; and we are told by Jesus in the Gospel of John (10:34-38) that he was sent among us to call his faithful home, and that these faithful live in him just as he lives in the father.

Yes, in joy you shall depart, in peace you shall be brought back . . .

We are told in Jeremiah (29:11) and throughout the Psalms, but especially in 126, that God has plans in mind for us which are plans for joy rather than sorrow.

This shall be the Lord’s renown, an everlasting imperishable sign . . .

We are told in the Gospel of John (4:10) that God offers us the gift of everlasting life, of true water which quenches forever.

All of scripture is Christ, is God’s word to us, God’s expression of love to us.  And all of this scripture cries out to us that we are invited to the feast of the bridegroom as the beloved bride.  In the album Speechless by Steven Curtis Chapman there is a song entitled The Invitation which tells us all we need to hear about the love the father holds for us. It reminds us that we are bride to a constant, faithful, ardent lover, the true prince of peace who leaves nothing lacking, who will not rest until he holds us closely.  This is our invitation to blessing.  This is our invitation to beatitude.  This is our invitation to grace.  This is our invitation to love.


A re-post from May 25, 2012.

Images from: http://www.parisianevents.com/parisianparty/what-to-wear-to-a-wedding-in-france/ and http://matttullos.com/grace-is-on-a-family-tree/

To listen to Steven Curtis Chapman sing “The Invitation” click here.   

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