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parent-worthyMonday, October 20, 2014

1 Thessalonians 2:11-13

God’s Eternal Call

As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you conduct yourselves as worthy of the God who calls you . . .

We linger with the thoughts that Jeremiah’s words bring to us in the 21st Century. This prophecy continues to move us millennia after it was first spoken. Each of us has experienced exile from a loved one or a loved place. Each of us has known the devastation of corrupt leadership and betrayal. Each of us has received God’s call to live in a manner worthy. Before we allow the words of the prophet to cease their resonating power, let us reflect on the power of God’s persistent, endless love.

God’s Eternal Call

This stillness of separation nurtures sweet embers of hope . . . for God is near.

The darkness of rejection gives way to a rising spark of confidence . . . for God is at hand.

Vertigo of displacement, sting of betrayal, agony of deception . . . consumed by God’s burning desire to live within.

Overcome not by darkness but by the piercing light of God’s love.

Fire of courage sweeps through dry tinder of exile.

Flames of resolution rise up to greet the call.

Anger, revenge, corruption . . . disappearing in the conflagration of God’s indwelling.

Hope, fidelity, love . . . living in a manner worthy of God’s eternal call. 

St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians – and he reminds us – that despite trials and suffering, God’s word is at work in us. This word will not be extinguished. This words breaks forth in the darkest of times. This word is the unceasing presence of God’s fervent call. Let us live in thanksgiving of this worthy indwelling.

And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that, in receiving not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you . . .

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Age-Old Love


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

gods_love3Jeremiah 31:1-14

Finally a respite from the torrent appears in Jeremiah’s prophecy.

With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you. Again I will restore you and you will be rebuilt.

There comes a moment when we can stand no more; and it is, gratefully, at that moment when the light pierces the darkness. It is, thankfully, at that moment when we hear our reprieve; and it is, mercifully, in that moment that there comes an awakening. Gates that held back emotion at last fly open . . . and we hear the good news of return.

Age-Old Love

Weary from the road, the faithful take refuge.

Worn by the journey, the remnant tumbles into uncertain shelter.

Still cowering beneath the whip of the uncaring, the dry-eyed seek cover to wait as the worst of the nightmares arrives.

Roaring winds of flying bits torment the skin and yet . . . 

From the maelstrom comes the smallest of voices announcing the greatest of loves.

Seeking, searching, never tiring.

Calling, looking, always enduring.

For thus says the Lord . . . words whisper against the rising wind . . . 

Again you will plant vineyards and gather in the wheat.

Once more you will strike the festal tambourine. 

With dance and with song you will celebrate.

With reconciliation and with joy you will finally rest.

Behold, says the Lord . . . words curl into ears longing for respite . . .

I will bring you back.

I will deliver my faithful remnant.

I will heal your wounds and restore you to your place.

This I promise!

For with grain and with wine I restore you.

With infinite mercy I redeem you.

With an age-old love I have loved you.

As I love you still.

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Friday, August 22, 2014

Jeremiah 19

The Dust of Topheth

For information on the town of Topheth, the priest Pashur, the gods Baal and Molech, and how Jeremiah’s predictions play out, visit The Potter’s Flask posted for February 3, 2011 at: https://thenoontimes.com/2011/09/15/the-potters-flask/

Ancient society can be traced through its pottery. Ceramic pots were ubiquitous. They were designed, created and decorated by artisans to hold or carry everything from water and food to medicines and even funeral offerings. For more on this ancient craft, visit: http://www.ancient.eu/pottery/

Today, we spend time with Jeremiah and image of the broken jug.

The Dust of Topheth

The name of Topheth we utter no longer, its singular offering is shame and amazement.

The potter’s flask floats before us; yet we convince ourselves that our walls are exempt.

Our circumstance is special; our creation unique.

So well loved, we cannot stray.

So well nourished, we cannot fall.

 

The Valley of Slaughter is distant; yet Baal and Molech await first-born offerings with leery eye and eager lip.

Status and wealth build narrow walls against approaching truths.

So well tended, we cannot falter.

So well equipped, we cannot fail.

 

Prophets raise shadow arms to pronounce sacred words with parched throats while Pashur gathers warm beds against the arriving storm.

Deaf ears and silent hands cast down the potter’s flask where it lies broken with the bones of those who grapple with falling city walls.

So well guided, we cannot lose our way.

So well protected, we cannot perish.

 

And yet Adonai is near.

 

In the still of destruction the house of Jerusalem lives in the hearts of the remnant.

Israel breathes yet in the faithful who bore Topheth on exhausted backs and empty bellies.

Stiff necks and hard hearts vanish with the grime of rubble . . .

Leaving the hearts of the faithful to rise in the dust of Topheth.

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

Jeremiah 9

Main_Lodge_fsThe Desert Lodge

Would that I had in the desert a travelers’ lodge! That I might leave my people and depart from them.

Jeremiah sees the corruption into which his world has fallen. He gives warning but no one takes note, and so he wishes for a secluded place to which he might remove himself, hoping to avoid the coming maelstrom. And so we consider: Do we also yearn for a hermitage when the world threatens? If so, where might we go? If not, how might we help those who are overwhelmed?

The Desert Lodge

Corruption whispers into our busy living, giving no warning, sending no harbinger.

Ready tongues like drawn bows pass along the latest wisp of gossip.

“Be on your guard!” we are warned. But how? From whom?

And so we look for our desert lodge where no caravan passes, where we might step back from the winds of deceit and the torment of war.

Yet still we hear the Teacher’s voice lifted on the steady breeze.

We recall that the world’s wisdom cannot unravel the puzzle of human deceit, nor can the world’s strength bring peace.

We remember that the Lord abides with the remnant, the faithful who rise each morning to intone first light’s prayer.

We remind one another that the Lord listens to noonday petitions lifted on tired arms that seek another day’s grace.

We know the Lord takes in our evening plaint as we put drowsy heads on tired pillows.

“Be on your guard!”

We ask for benediction. We ask for peace. We ask for the end to corruption. We ask for the coming of joy.

And with fresh surety we remember . . .

The Lord turns all harm to goodness. The Lord answers all prayers of the broken. The Lord brings all joy out of corruption.

And with this knowing, a quiet peace settles upon us.

In this knowing . . . is our impregnable desert lodge.

For more on Joy Out of Corruption, visit the Jeremiah 9 post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2011/06/29/joy-out-of-corruption/

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Jeremiah 4

ReconciledbannerSincere Repentance – A Reprise

Just when we believe that hope is lost, a door opens. Just when we think that we will not be forgiven, word arrives. Just when we feel the end is near, life begins again. Psalm 133 celebrates the goodness to be found when adversaries determine to reconcile differences.

Assurance

How very good and pleasant it is when we see God in one another despite narrow hearts and tightened minds.

These quick moments delight as surely as a loved one’s gaze renews  . . . as ever a child’s breath blesses her mother’s cheek.

The Lord’s happily granted gift of forgiveness heals all . . . despite our reluctance to respond to God’s love.

The Lord’s freely given gift of life affirms divinity in each . . . despite our reluctance to believe in God’s promise.

Visit the Spiritual Courage post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/03/09/sincere-repentance-spiritual-courage/ and consider the consequence of a severe repentance. What consequences await us when we gather courage to do what we know must be done?

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sincerityMonday, August 4, 2014

Jeremiah 3

Sincere and Insincere Conversion

In chapters 3 and 4 of Jeremiah we see how the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah turned from the Lord their God to a life of idol worship and harlotry. Let us consider some thoughts from The Dilemma of Narcissus by Louis Lavelle (W.T Gairdner, Tr. Larson Publications, Burdett, N.Y. 1993), a portion of which was published in the May 2007 issue of MAGNIFICAT. His words ask us to think of sincerity as a continual growth process rather than a character trait or a commodity to be gained.

To be sincere is to show oneself, but at the same time . . . one is making oneself.

Sincerity must reach out, beyond all speech, to an invisible inner life.

Sincerity appears only when the inner life begins to be incarnated in acts which determine both our true being and our destiny.

True sincerity is an accomplishment. And it is quite conceivable that one should miss it, whether through laziness or through fear, or because one finds it easier, or more expedient to yield to public opinion and to renounce oneself, letting oneself be dragged unremittingly down the slope of social conformity.

In sincerity, the act by which we find ourselves and the act by which we make ourselves are one and the same. Sincerity is at once the attention which arouses our potentialities, and the courage which gives them form, without which they would be nothing.

Sincerity challenges all the voices which call to me from without, and commands me to descend into my heart’s heart. It is always a return to the source. It makes me a being perpetually being born.

Sincerity liberates us from every preoccupation with public opinion or with the effect we are producing. It brings us back to our own origin, showing us to ourselves as we were when we left the Creator’s hands, when life first flashed forth, and before outer appearances had begun to seduce us, or we had learned the art of pretending.

It is rectitude of a will which admits no duplicity, no evasion, and no dissembling, between man and other men.

Sincerity is spiritual nobility. For the sincere man seeks to live under the open sky; he alone has enough self-respect to hide nothing from himself, and to expect nothing except from the truth; he alone is not content merely to appear, but establishes himself so firmly in being that for him being is indistinguishable from appearance.

Sincerity is the act by which I put myself under the eye of God; there is no other sincerity.

In today’s reading, Jeremiah calls the wayward Israel and Judah to sincerity. He warns Judah that her sin is more grave than that of Israel who first strayed. Why? Because the traitor sister did not return to me wholeheartedly, but insincerely.

We often lament the lack of sincerity in others, but this week we might take time to examine our inner self for the presence or lack of sincerity, and to return to the paths we know are just and merciful. We might spend a few minutes reflecting on our own spiritual nobility. How do we reflect God to others? What social slopes are we willing to slide down? To what social conformities do we bow? Do we have the courage to rise to our potentialities? What inner life do we incarnate with our speech and actions? With what duplicities are we content? Do we challenge the voices without and descend to our heart’s heart?

In God’s Eyes

God in Heaven, God on Earth, call to us . . . we want to return to your hands.

God Incarnate, God Abiding, remain in us . . . we want to follow your feet.

God Consoling, God of Wisdom, bring us strength . . . we know what we must do.

God of Freedom, God of Truth, we feel your presence . . . we come back to your heart.

God of All, God of Each, our hearts sing praise . . . we seek to live sincerely . . . in your eyes.

Adapted from a reflection written on February 2, 2008. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 21.5 (2007): 298-300. Print.

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The Lord Surrounds Us


peter-feed-my-sheepThursday, July 31, 2014

Psalm 125

The Lord Surrounds Us

We too often allow life’s struggles to surround us while we neglect the one who created us, the one who guides us, the only one who can protect us from the buffeting squalls of life.

The Surrounding

Those who trust in the Lord are like seeds on the heavy wind.

They know the Creator will bring them to a fertile place of rest.

The Lord surrounds the faithful as surely as the waves return to shore.

God will keep their land safe from the withering sun and not permit their fragile shoots to be washed away before they take root.

The Lord will not disappoint their fragile hope.

Reward, O Lord, those who listen to the gentle voice in the turbulence of life’s storm. Reward those who hold fast.

Peace be upon those who put down firm roots in God’s loving grace.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

god heals2 Chronicles 11

A Prayer for Returning Home – A Reprise

This week we have looked closely at the process and power in asking for and giving forgiveness, in seeking and receiving healing, in pursuing and relying on God. We cry out against injustice and ask God’s intervention. We lament terror, horror, falsehood and betrayal; and we ask God to bring goodness out of all harm. Today we consider the power of returning home. And so we consider how we might move from loss to gain, from hate to love, from death to life.

The Healing

Anger, betrayal, loss death.

Silence, stillness, a numbing, penetrating chill.

Eyes slowly opening to see old light in a new way. The ringing din eases into two harmonious tones. We are not alone.

Joy, celebration, gift, life.

Song of consolation, warmth.

A radiating energy moves upward from toe tips.

All encompassing. All-knowing. Never-ending. Life.

Why cling to what cannot be changed if we forfeit all that is changeless?

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