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2 Corinthians 3: The Mystery of Ministryserving-people

Sunday, July 3, 2022

We so often find that in ministering to the fears and needs of others, we ourselves find confidence and sustenance. Paul reminds us that when we minister in Jesus’ name, we enter into an eternal and unbreakable covenant with Christ. This is the present truth and the future promise of entering into ministry to others.

If the ministry of death, carved in letters on stone, was so glorious that the Israelites could not look intently at the face of Moses because of its glory that was going to fade, how much more will the ministry of the Spirit be glorious?

When we bring hope to others we learn to live in hope.

For if the ministry of condemnation was glorious, the ministry of righteousness will abound much more in glory.

When we determine to carry joy to others we also live in joy.

Indeed, what was endowed with glory has come to have no glory . . .

When we bring hope to others we become hope itself.

Therefore, if we have such hope, we act boldly and not like Moses who put a veil over his face . . .

When we humbly minister in Christ’s name, we find our fear and despair dissolve into hope and joy. We find that death becomes life and sorrow becomes joy.

All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Tissot: The Woes of the Pharisees

James Tissot: The Woes of the Pharisees

We need not hide or fear the light of our ministry for it is freely given by God to those who humble themselves in Christ’s service. When we minister to others in Christ’s name, God’s Spirit rests in us and shines forth from us. This is the fruit and gift of ministry God offers us today.


Jesus speaks to the scribes and Pharisees to call them to ministry. Are we blind guides or God’s prophets? Are we white-washed tombs or Jesus’ ministers? Are we or broods of vipers or humble servants in the Spirit? To further examine this theme, visit Matthew 23 and reflect on verse 12 in particular.

Images from: https://mycatholic.life/catholic-question-and-answer/q-raising-hands-during-the-our-father/ and  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_Woe_unto_You,_Scribes_and_Pharisees_%28Malheur_%C3%A0_vous,_scribes_et_pharisiens%29_-_James_Tissot.jpg

 

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2 Corinthians 2:14-3: The Mystery of Covenant Contract_with-_Seal_XL

Saturday, July 2, 2022

Christ comes into the world not to abolish the old covenant but to fulfill it. Christ comes into the world not to erase the old agreement but to bring it to fruition. Christ comes into the world not to punish us for wrongdoing but to heal and comfort, pardon and redeem.

Paul tells the people of Corinth and he tells us that there is a contrast between the old and new covenants. And he tells us that we must caution ourselves against a smug pride in our credentials that may – or may not – match our life in the Gospel. Do we claim to be followers of Christ through our words or through our actions? Paul questions us today.

Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you or from you?

Paul also tells us that it will be our work in the world that defines us as disciples of Christ – or that shows us to be followers of false gods and idols. We find Christ’s true presence, and our “letter of recommendation,” in the fruit of our labor. What fruits do our labors bear? Paul asks us today.

You are our letter, written on our hearts . . .

Christ’s peace is eternal and universal.

You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all . . .

Christ’s letter of recommendation is our covenant of love.

You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all, shown to be a letter of Christ administered by us . . .

Christ’s covenant with God’s people lives in and through us.

You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all, shown to be a letter of Christ administered by us, written not in ink, but by the spirit of the living God . . .

love_of_god1Christ’s covenant of love is permanent and impermeable.

You are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by all, shown to be a letter of Christ administered by us, written not in ink, but by the spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but in tablets that are the hearts of flesh.

Christ’s covenant is a mystery written on our hearts, never to be extinguished, always to be cherished, always to be trusted, always is gift.

Tomorrow, moving from the old to the new covenant. 


To better understand the concept of covenant as used in the Old Testament, click on the contract image above, or visit: http://www.setapartpeople.com/introduction-covenants-part-1

Heart image from: https://www.dreamstime.com/photos-images/bible-pages-heart.html

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herrods_temple

The Ezekiel Temple

Ezekiel 8: The Mystery of the Temple

Friday, July 1, 2022

Throughout this reading the Spirit continues to ask us as we encounter the world: Have you seen enough yet? How do we reply, and how do we react?

We might turn away in fear or disgust when our fellow human beings behave in abominable ways; yet how does this witness to the love of God that is somehow present everywhere at every time?

We might collapse in anxiety or denial when our friends and neighbors behave brutally toward us and others; yet how does this move us into solidarity with those who suffer so horribly?

We might despair in pain and sorrow when our loved ones betray or abandon us; yet how does this enact God’s love in a world looking for peace and serenity?

Ezekiel describes vividly how the Temple is desecrated with obscenity, greed, and idol-worship; yet who is this angry God we hear described in verse 18? Can this be the same God of hope and peace and love who comes to walk among us with mercy? What happens to this holy dwelling place and how are we to see God’s presence amid the rubble and ruin of what was once beauty and light?

Despite the deep corruption we see today, God abides in this place and with this people. Despite the brutality we read about today, God persists in converting harm into blessing. And despite the horror that we witness today, God pardons, heals and calls. This is the mystery of God’s sacred place and time: it is a temple of a healing, transforming, persisting, loving force that cannot be denied. This temple is a living essence that struggles to remain and grow within each of us. And life in this living temple is a mystery that we are invited to enter.

Do you see what the elders are doing here in the dark, each one before his favorite god-picture? 

Who are our little gods and how do we express God in our everyday actions and voice? Do we operate in the dark or in the open light? When and where and how do we see the Mystery of God’s love amid the abominations of the world? And do we plan to accept the invitation that this mystery of sacred space and time has laid before us?


For a study on the Ezekiel temple, click on the image above or visit: http://israelmybeloved.com/the-ezekiel-temple/

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Romans 11:33-36: The Mystery of God

Guercino: padre eterno con un angioletto

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are God’s judgments and how unsearchable God’s ways!

It is impossible for humans to fully and completely know and understand God. The structures of the human brain are incapable of the capacity and agility of God’s mind; yet we are well loved and well-tended by God. And this is the mystery of God’s wisdom.

“For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor?”

It is impossible for humans to totally and absolutely take in God’s plan. The complexities of God’s intention are intense and multilayered; yet we have a precious and integral role to play in God’s design. And this is the mystery of God’s hope.

“Or who has given God anything that he may be repaid?”

It is impossible for humans to constantly and faithfully look at the world through God’s lens. The rigor and determination that is required are more than we humans can muster or maintain; yet God never abandons us . . . although we may abandon God. And this is the mystery of God’s love.

For from God and through God and for God are all things.

cosmos-wallpapers-8God’s mystery is not meant to separate or divide, categorize but rather to call, invite and unite. God’s mystery and presence can be found in any space in the universe and at any time in creation. God’s mystery is so enormous it cannot be unraveled . . . and so intimate that it cannot be ignored.

To God be glory forever.

We need not understand God. We need not – and cannot – be equal to God. But we can enter into God’s mystery and give ourselves over to God’s love. There is nothing more we need, and there is nothing more important than learning to lean in to the Mystery of God.

Amen.

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Micah 6:1-10: Requirementsmicah-6-8-21

Thursday, June 2, 2022

What is it that God requires of us if we wish to enter the kingdom as children of God?

This is what your God requires of you . . .

And when we ask, can we say that we can put aside our willfulness to listen for God’s voice?

Do justice . . .

When we hear these words, are we willing to enact God’s justice?

Love kindness . . .

When we love our friends, can we also love our enemies?

Walk humbly with your God . . .

When we blame others for our failures, can we accept our faults and ask forgiveness?

God asks: My people, what have I done to you, and how have I wearied you? Answer Me.

When we hear these words, what do we reply?


Enter the citation Micah 6:8 into the blog search bar to further explore God’s lessons and requirements.

Image from: https://bpb.opendns.com/b/https/www.pinterest.com/pin/sword-of-the-spirit–143622675595090799/

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Matthew 8:5-13: The Centurion’s Servant003-centurion-servant

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Yesterday we reflected on Jesus’ openness and willingness to heal those forced to live apart from the tribe. Today we reflect on his relationships with those who were scorned as overlords. In the Message version of this familiar story, Jesus is describes as taken aback by the centurion’s words. Enter the word Under the Centurion’s Roof into the Noontime search bar and reflect.

Consider both the centurion and his servant as persons and reflect on who they might be to us today. Is the centurion a soldier, a law enforcement officer, an emergency responder? Is the servant one we would ignore when we visit a friend? Is he someone who works for us silently and unvalued? And finally, let us consider who we are: one of the privileged few elite, one of the many downtrodden, one of the scorned or one of blessed.


Image from: http://www.freebibleimages.org/photos/centurion-servant/

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Matthew 7:6: Casting Pearlsoyster-pearl-100903-02

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

This verse may be deeply meaningful for us when we consider just how precious and rare a genuine pearl is. Produced by layers of nacre, or mother-of-pearl, around a grain of sand, pearls begin as a nuisance and result as an object to be prized. Mollusks lay down deposits once they sense an intrusion in their otherwise placid lives. They transform an obstacle into an object to be admired. If we are pearls of great price, we began as these small irritants . . . and we too, are transformed into beautiful objects to be treasured.

We are holy people. We are temples in which the Holy Spirit abides. We are children of God. We are body, soul, mind and heart. And all of this is a gift from God to be treasured and never taken lightly.

In Song of Songs 3:4 we remember our relationship with God who loves us abundantly.  If we continue to 3:5 we also remember that our lives move best when they move in God’s plan rather than our own. All things, even love, arrive in God’s time, not ours.

Let us recall how loved we are, and determine to return that love to God.

Let us remember how beautiful we are, and decide to live up to that beauty.

Let us recall how priceless we are, and choose to act as though we believe our own good fortune.


For another Noontime reflection on this verse, enter the words Pearls of Great Price in the blog search bar and explore.

To learn more about how pearls form, click on the image above or visit: http://www.livescience.com/32289-how-do-oysters-make-pearls.html 

 

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Psalm 107: In Distress


Psalm 107: In Distress

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Lent is the perfect time of year to turn our distress over to God.  By doing this repeatedly, we become accustomed to turning to our creator before all else. This brings a serenity to all we do . . . even when we find ourselves in distress. This leads us to redemption.

With hearts humbled by hardship, the Lord’s redeemed give thanks to the Lord for his saving hand.

Ill and afflicted by evil ways, the distressed cry out for help to the Lord.

Led forth from darkness and gloom, those who have been snatched from the grave give thanks to the Lord for his kindness.

Reeling and staggering like drunkards, the sorrowing drink from clear waters the Lord provides in the desert.

Sowing and reaping the abundance of the Lord, the poor who have been oppressed now settle in the verdant valleys of the Lord.

God blessed them, they became very many, and their livestock did not decrease . . . Whoever is wise will take note of these things, will ponder the merciful deeds of the Lord.

We often find ourselves in various degrees of distress. Today’s psalm speaks to those who find themselves in dire straits because they have turned away from God; but regardless of whether we suffer innocently or through our own fault, we need to ask this question: Where do we go and what do we do when we are in spiritual pain? We might turn to an activity that hides the ache but does not deal with the cause. We might also turn to God who is yearning to hold us close. In either case – whether we are innocent or guilty – when horror strikes and we are in distress, we pray . . .

Heavenly Father, Divine Son, Comforting Spirit, we spend out Lenten journey in search of you. Open our eyes to what we must see about what and who we are. Open our ears to what you are telling us through others. Open our mouths to tell the story of our salvation from the paralyzing hold of darkness. Open our hearts to your ways of merciful justice and loving kindness. We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.


Adapted from a reflection written on March 8, 2010.

Image from: http://www.coramdeogp.com/blog/

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Ecclesiastes 2:12-17: Madness and Follyapril fools

March 12, 2022

Wisdom has the advantage over folly as much as light has the advantage over darkness.

When we listen to a podcast interview with Suki Kim, author of WITHOUT YOU, THERE IS NO US, we have the opportunity to reflect on what it means to be wise and what it means to be foolish. No matter our social or political views, this interview gives us a glimpse into a world of extremes.

http://www.npr.org/2014/10/22/357632699/among-the-young-and-privileged-in-north-korea

Screen-Shot-2014-10-03-at-2.37.03-PM1Ecclesiastes opens a discussion of the value purpose and worth of human life. When we listen to this podcast we might also reflect on how and when we hope to control others. And, perhaps most importantly, we have the opportunity to reflect on when and why we choose darkness and a lack of information over the light and her gift of knowledge.

The wise have eyes in their head, but the fool walks in darkness.


Read the NEW YORK TIMES review of Kim’s work at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/14/books/review/suki-kims-without-you-there-is-no-us.html?_r=0

Image of fool from: http://www.wfuv.org/blog/question-day-april-fools

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