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Archive for the ‘Social Justice’ Category


Luke 15:1-32: All That was Lost

7_lost-sheep-jesus

The Lost Sheep

Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 6, 2016

Sceptics wonder where the faithful see God in the world that surrounds us. Non-believers take credit for all that they store up; they blame themselves and others for a lack of success. The faithful move forward with their eyes on the prize . . . the knowing that all that was lost will in the end be found, all who were scorned will in the end be justified, and all who were last will certainly be first.

In today’s Gospel we again hear the familiar stories of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin, and the Prodigal Son. We hear Jesus’ clear assertion after each of these stories that God rejoices more over the gratitude of the lost who are found than the steady love of those who never leave him. This certainly gives us something to consider.

We may see ourselves as sheep who never leave the shepherd’s side . . . but when we are honest we know that we have each been lost at one time or another. We might welcome the joy the creator showers on us.

Parable-of-Lost-Coin-Feti

The Lost Coin

There’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

We may see our tiny turnings toward God as insignificant moments in a turbulent day . . . but God sees them as a wonderful occasion to rejoice. We might join in the rejoicing of others.

Count on it—that’s the kind of party God’s angels throw every time one lost soul turns to God.

We may see a lack of fairness in our lives when those who are newly arrived to faith in God are celebrated as much or more than those who have been faithful . . . but God invites all of us to join in the celebration of the return of those who have been found. We might tell others this good news of God’s goodness.

You’re with me all the time, and everything that is mine is yours—but this is a wonderful time, and we had to celebrate. This brother of yours was dead, and he’s alive! He was lost, and he’s found!

1-1-1-1-1-A-A-lost-coin-found-We may each remember times when we have envied the good fortune showered on others when we work long and hard to remain close to God. We may each have experienced times in our lives when all that has been lost far overshadows what appears to be found. In all of these occasions, when we look carefully and honestly, we will see that what once was empty has been made full. What once was dark now has been made light. And what once was lost has
most beautifully been found. When we give thanks to God for this marvelous gift of redemption, we become part of the celebration and great joy in the kingdom that erupts when the lost are found.

prodigal son

The Lost Son

When we believe that we do not see God’s presence often in our lives, let us look at these times when weariness, anger, jealousy or envy may have unfocused our vision. And let us ask God for clarity as we begin this week’s Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “God’s generosity is sometimes not fair,” let us think instead, “When we put away the past and follow God’s example of enormous generosity, we are better able to welcome the lost back home into the kingdom . . . and to give thanks for our own part in God’s great rejoicing”. 

For other reflections on, The Lost Sheep, The Lost Coin and The Prodigal Son, use the blog search bar to explore. 

To learn about The Innocence Project that assists prisoners who could be proven innocent through DNA testing, visit: http://www.innocenceproject.org/free-innocent. Find out about how more than 300 people in the United States have been exonerated, including 20 who served time on death row. For a story Anthony Ray Hinton, one of those freed after nearly 30 years in Alabama, forgives those who incarcerated him, visit: https://www.themarshallproject.org/2015/04/09/30-years-on-death-row-a-conversation-with-anthony-ray-hinton#.VmpdpHOMQ 

Tomorrow, coming to believe.

 

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Luke 13:1-9: The Dream of Peace

Third Sunday of Lent, February 28, 2016

Zainab Salbi

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.

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”.

Tomorrow, our native place.

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Wisdom 13:1-9: The Wisdom of God’s Creation

Sunday, November 22, 2015Gods-creation

Anyone who does not know God is simply foolish.

When we look at the beauty of the planet, we see God’s goodness.

Such people look at the good things around them and still fail to see the living God.

When we share earth’s resources, we experience God’s generosity.

They have studied the things God made, but they have not recognized the one who made them.

When we bring together science, reason and spirituality, we experience God’s wisdom.

Instead, they suppose that the gods who rule the world are fire or wind or storm or the circling stars or rushing water or the heavenly bodies.

When we see the elements as God’s gifts to us, we see God’s trust in us.

tree in handsPeople were so delighted with the beauty of these things that they thought they must be gods, but they should have realized that these things have a master and that the master is much greater than all of them, for God is the creator of beauty, and God created them.

When we pause to reflect on the beauty of God’s creation, we see God’s hope for us.

Since people are amazed at the power of these things, and how they behave, they ought to learn from them that their maker is far more powerful.

When we witness to the resiliency in God’s creation, we begin to understand God’s strength.

When we realize how vast and beautiful the creation is, we are learning about the Creator at the same time.

creationWhen we witness to the complexity of God’s creation, we begin to understand God.

If the foolish had enough intelligence to speculate about the nature of the universe, why did they never find the Lord of all things?

Today we have the opportunity to discover if we are wise or foolish about God’s creation. We can read about the 2015 World Climate Summit at: http://www.wclimate.com/world-climate-summit-2015/

 

 

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James 5: Patience, Plain Speech, Prayer

Monday, November 16, 2015hands_sprout_iStock_7221140-300x213 (1)

In his Monday reflection last week, Richard Rohr writes about Joanna Macy, noted spiritual activist, and the Great Turning movement. Macy posits that: “While the agricultural revolution took centuries, and the industrial revolution took generations, this ecological revolution has to happen within a matter of a few years”. (Macy and Brown)

Listen to her On Being interview with Krista Tippet at: http://www.onbeing.org/program/joanna-macy-a-wild-love-for-the-world/61

Or we can read more at: http://www.joannamacy.net/thegreatturning.html

As we consider ideas presented by Macy, we hear her plain speech, we read patience in her voice and actions, and we might decide to join in prayer to heal the world.

Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown, Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World (New Society Publishers: 1998), 17-21.

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James 2:19-20: Faith and Wisdom – Part II

Sunday, October 11, 2015the-finance-bar-office-photographs--216_custom-36360f16815c83176350d0e82bc5c5c22aec4316-s800-c85

Yesterday we heard James’ description of true discipleship in Christ. Faith alone or works alone do not put us on the disciple’s path. Today James suggests that a lack of true wisdom can send us astray, can allow us to respond to the kind of thinking that tears down true faith and whittles away at true wisdom.

Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?

Spend a few minutes today with this brief podcast from NPR that describes how Marsha Barnes has put her faith and works together in true wisdom. The three and a half minutes are well worth our time. Click on the image above to find the interview or go to: http://www.npr.org/2015/10/04/445595860/got-a-personal-finance-question-dont-miss-the-bus

Tomorrow, James gives us concrete examples of those who walk and live in wisdom and faith . . . through their works in discipleship.

 

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

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

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.

Take the time today to investigate the mission statement of wastED, “a community of chefs, farmers, fishermen, distributors, processors, producers, designers and retailers, working together to reconceive “waste” that occurs at every link in the food chain” at: http://wastedny.com/

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

Tomorrow, oracles and more possibilities . . . 

Adapted from a reflection written on February 1, 2008.

 

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Mark 8:1-10: Some Left Over – Part Vdownloadmore fish and loaves

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Although some scholars believe that these descriptions of four and five thousand are the same event, there are those who believe that Jesus des large crowds on a number of occasions. Each of us has the opportunity today to reflect on the times we have been nourished by his presence.

We use the scripture link to bring a fresh perspective to familiar details, and reflect on the following points.

Despite knowing that the apostles do not have the money to feed so many, Jesus offers his apostles the option of giving of themselves before he steps in. What actions have we taken that rob others of an opportunity to serve?

Perhaps knowing that the apostles question the need to feed so many, Jesus speaks openly of how his heart is moved with pity for the crowd. What actions can we perform that affirm our own interest in serving God’s people?

Understanding that the act of sharing asks us to give more than we may receive, we look for opportunities to advocate for those who go hungry through no fault of their own. What social action can we take today in the name of Jesus Christ?

This miracle is also described in Matthew 15:32-39

Tomorrow, how does Luke tell this story of God’s abundance?

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Matthew 14:13-21: Some Left Over – Part IVloaves and fish

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Today’s story of the feeding of thousands follows the death of Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist. Perhaps it is for this reason that Jesus withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But as often happens with Jesus, the crowds heard of this and followed him on foot from their towns. Matthew also tells us that Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them, and he cured their sick. In his deep compassion and love for these crowds, Jesus challenges his apostles to find food for the weary and needy. When the twelve report that all they have is five loaves and two fish, Jesus steps in to provide. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over – twelve wicker baskets full. 

Today as we reflect on this familiar story, we use the scripture link to bring a fresh perspective to familiar details, and reflect on the following three points.

Despite his weariness and sorrow, Jesus is moved by emotion to tend to those who need him, knowing that ultimately there will be some left over. What social action can we take today on behalf of God’s people?

Having had their fill, Jesus’ followers gather up what is left over, knowing that God’s plenty is not to be squandered. What social action can we take today on behalf of God’s creation?

Weary from our own travels and fearful of the future, we hesitate to trust God and give from our need; we are tempted to trust ourselves and give from our surplus. What social action can we take today in the name of God’s holy Spirit?

This miracle is also described in Mark 6:34-44. 

Tomorrow, Mark and the feeding of four thousand. 

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2 Kings 4:42-44: Some Left Over – Part I

Pope Francis kisses a child as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's Square at the Vatican June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Pope Francis kisses a child as he arrives to lead his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican June 5, 2013. REUTERS/Max Rossi

Sunday, August 2, 2015

When I was a child and company arrived unexpectedly on a warm summer afternoon, my mother would whisper to my older sisters, “Go peel another pound of potatoes, and squeeze more lemons for another batch of lemonade”. The main course would stretch, she knew; the other side dishes and desserts were ample. It was the sustaining starch and the refreshing fruit drink that our surprise summer visitors would need for their journey onward.

Each time I read about the manna and quail in the dessert I think of my mother and the trust she placed in God as she and my dad raised their large family in unpredictable times. And when I hear the story of Elisha read out during liturgy as it was last week, I pledge to affirm the faith of my parents, knowing that they understood the power of good stewardship and the gift of conserving what was left over.

“Wasting food is like stealing from the poor,” Pope Francis has told us, and it was is this spirit that I was raised. It is this spirit I have tried to pass on to my children and grandchildren. Offering food and drink to the wayfarer, my parents showed us, extending hospitality to all is a way of life worth fostering; it is a tradition we find in both the Old and New Testaments. Honoring the sudden guest is our affirmation that God always gives us enough. Inviting the lost into a safe refuge is our demonstration of belief in the mercy of God. Husbanding all that is left over is our response to God’s call that we treasure all we are given by a generous and loving God.

Over the next few days we will look at stories from scripture, both old and new, to explore God’s message about sustenance, hospitality, and something left over. Today, we read Pope Francis’ words about food and we use a search engine to find an agency that provides a means for the poor to gain a permanent food supply, and we consider giving something of our wealth left over – even if it is only a few barley loaves and fish – to this cause.

You might begin your search with these organizations, or you might conduct your own search of global or local agencies.

www.foodforthepoor.org, www.moveforhunger.org, www.feedthehungry.org, www.helpthechildren.org

If you still have no idea where to begin, consider food for the poor with the Forbes list of the 50 largest cities in the U.S.A. at http://www.forbes.com/companies/food-for-the-poor/ Or Feed the Future at www.feedthefuture.gov

Tomorrow, bread from heaven. 

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