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John 5:31-47The World of Mystery and Miracles – Part III

Thursday, March 9, 2023Pool-of-Bethesda

Jesus tells us: You have your heads in your Bibles constantly because you think you’ll find eternal life there. But you miss the forest for the trees. These Scriptures are all about me! And here I am, standing right before you, and you aren’t willing to receive from me the life you say you want.

We spend time with these words and we imagine that we, like the lame man at the Bethesda Pool, might be transformed so that we can find peace. We spend time with these verses and realize that . . . they are Christ himself in our hands. We spend time with John 5 and move from doubt to faith as Jesus asks.

We, like the crippled and lame who wait by the pool at Bethesda, have been freed . . . although we might not see it. 

We, like those who plot to kill Jesus, have heard this good news . . . although we might not acknowledge it. 

We, like those who sent emissaries to John, have heard further testimony about this new king and kingdom . . . although we might not admit it.

We, like those who do not believe the writings or the words, have experienced the healing hand of Christ . . . although we might not concede it.

pool-of-bethsaidaWe commit to believing in mystery and miracle in our lives and we call others to a transformation in peace with 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”. 

Tomorrow, our unbelief. 


A Favorite from Thursday, May 6, 2010.

For more about the Bethesda Pool, click on the pool image or visit: https://lostnowfoundk.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/the-paralysed-man-john-51-15/ 

Images from: https://lostnowfoundk.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/the-paralysed-man-john-51-15/

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John 5:17-30The World of Mystery and Miracles – Part II

Wednesday, March 8, 2016 

Jerusalem: The Bethesda Pool

Jerusalem: The Bethesda Pool today

Don’t act so surprised at all this, Jesus tells us. And so we reflect on the mystery and miracles that surround us, seeking to better understand these verses.

We are pardoned and healed by God who is merciful and just.

We are given a clear sign of God’s eternal goodness and truth. 

We receive additional testimony about the source of this goodness and truth. 

We are shown a door to the life we all desire.

And we are given the option to enter into a new life or to strike out on our own.

We need not wait until the next world to experience peace and serenity or to take down the defenses we have so carefully built around us.  The world of mystery and miracles is one in which we already live . . . we have only to be open to it.

We, like the crippled and lame who wait by the pool at Bethesda, have been freed . . . although we might not see it. 

We, like those who plot to kill Jesus, have heard this good news . . . although we might not acknowledge it. 

We, like those who sent emissaries to John, have heard further testimony about this new king and kingdom . . . although we might not admit it.

We, like those who do not believe the writings or the words, have experienced the healing hand of Christ . . . although we might not concede it.

As we discover our willingness to acknowledge mystery and miracle in our lives, we transform our thinking with 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”. 

Tomorrow, a prayer to understand the mystery and miracle of Jesus in our lives. 

A Favorite from May 6, 2010.


Explore a website that presents more information about the Bethesda Pool in Jerusalem

Image from: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/jerusalem/the-bethesda-pool-site-of-one-of-jesus%E2%80%99-miracles/

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John 5:1-16The World of Mystery and Miracles – Part I

Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Bethesda Pool

Bethesda Pool

A cure on the Sabbath.  The work of the Son.  Some witnesses to Jesus. The unbelief of Jesus’ hearers.

This might be a microcosm of our own lives.

We receive a gift of the miracle of life.  We are given an instruction by the giver of this gift about the nature of life and who governs it.  We have the choice to believe or reject the mystery we experience.

When we read this chapter of John’s Gospel, we have the opportunity to examine our willingness to believe the miracles we have seen and experienced.  We read again the promise from Jesus that we are so well-loved that there is already a place reserved for us God’s eternity.  We are offered the invitation to be one with the divine for we have been cured of all that limits us.

Today we receive a call to see, to acknowledge, to admit, to concede and to declare the story of the mystery we live.  If today we cannot share this story of miracles with others, let us determine why not, and then let us witness as the Gospel writer John the Evangelist does.

When we suspect that we are called to mystery and miracle, let us rejoice and give thanks with our Lenten practice this week. 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”. 

A Favorite from May 6, 2010.


Explore a website that presents a model of Jerusalem in Jesus’  time and photographs of Jerusalem today. 

Image from: http://emp.byui.edu/satterfieldb/rel211/jerusalem.htm

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Matthew 20:17-28: The Chalice

Ash Wednesday, February 22, 2023

On this day when we acknowledge that we each return to the cosmic dust that God called into being, let us consider the story we read today.

Salome, the mother of James and John, the Zebedee brothers, asks Jesus to give her sons places of honor in the new kingdom; yet she does not fully understand . . . and so Jesus explains the terrible and beautiful importance of this special cup of blessing.

From Psalm 116 (verses 12-18)

What can I give back to God
    for the blessings the LORD poured out on me?

We are accustomed to asking God for favors. Do we think about giving thanks for our cup of salvation?

I’ll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God!

We are accustomed to thanking God quietly and privately. Do we think to join our voices with others in praise of God’s goodness?

I’ll pray in the name of God;
I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do,
    and I’ll do it together with God’s people.

We are accustomed to joining in Sabbath prayer and song. Do we think about giving testimony to a broader circle about God’s mercy?

When they arrive at the gates of death,
    God welcomes those who love the LORD.
Oh, God, here I am, your servant,
    your faithful servant: set me free for your service!

We are accustomed to approaching each day’s obstacles. Do we think about serving God by tending to the barriers we meet as Jesus does? Do we think about the cup we have asked to take as curse or blessing? Are we prepared to accept the cup that passes before us?

As we think about God’s beautiful and challenging cup of salvation, let us begin our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “Let us make three tents to contain the joy of God’s wisdom,” let us think instead, “Let us share the joy of God’s great gift of love”.

Tomorrow, the rich man and Lazarus.


Images from: http://mikeneglia.blogspot.com/2011_11_01_archive.html and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eucharist

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Luke 9:22-25: Taking Care

Thursday, February 9, 20232009-02-microaggression_tcm7-74510

Jesus: Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. 

Jesus advises that although his way is genuine it is also difficult. Yesterday we remembered that in order to build the goodness of the kingdom we must take care to keep our eyes on Christ rather than success, wealth or fame. Today we hear Jesus’ words again and we understand that in order to build with Jesus we must exercise great care when we follow the open Way of Christ.

Today we take a look at the idea of microaggression, or everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership”. (from Diversity in the Classroom, UCLA Diversity & Faculty Development, 2014)

We take care to remember our practice for the week: Rather than thinking, “This will not work,” let us say instead, “If you say so, Lord”.

Tomorrow, fasting.


Visit the University of Californian for tools to recognize microaggressions and the messages they send. https://video.ucdavis.edu/media/What+are+MicroaggressionsF/1_sukv7tbn#:~:text=Microaggressions%20are%20everyday%20verbal%2C%20behavioral,come%20from%20well%2Dmeaning%20people

To listen to a public radio podcast of an interview with Columbia University Professor Derald Wing Sue, visit: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/what-is-a-microaggression/ We learn how microaggressions impact people and what we can do to stop them.

A dictionary reference: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/microaggression

Click on the image above to visit: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/02/microaggression.aspx 

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Jeremiah 15:15-16: Remember Me!

Tuesday, February 7, 2023jeremiah5

Tomorrow we enter into the Lenten season and so as we prepare we strengthen our relationship with God. The prophet Jeremiah experienced the destruction of Israel’s beautiful relationship with Yahweh despite his intensity and persistence in warning of the coming fall. We might tap into that passion and persistence today. We might draw on the prophet’s faith, hope and love for God as he sees it in all.

You know where I am, God! Remember what I’m doing here!

   Take my side against my detractors.

When we feel as though no one listens . . . we speak as Jeremiah speaks.

Don’t stand back while they ruin me.
    Just look at the abuse I’m taking!

When we feel as though no one sees . . . we ask as Jeremiah asks.

I never joined the party crowd
    in their laughter and their fun.

When we feel as though no one acts in the Lord . . . we live as Jeremiah lives.

When your words showed up, I ate them—
    swallowed them whole. What a feast!
What delight I took in being yours,
    O God!

When we feel as though no one believes  . . . we love as Jeremiah loves.

And so we pray . . .

Remember me, Lord, remember who I am and where I am.

Remember me, Jesus, remember how I am and why I am.

Remember me, Holy Comforter, remember that I am . . . remember that I am . . .

Remember me, Lord, remember me! Amen.


To learn about the prophet Jeremiah, click on the image above or visit: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/464029/jewish/The-Prophet-Jeremiah.htm 

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2 Chronicles 26: Pride and Fall

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Rembrandt: The King Uzziah Stricken with Leprosy

Rembrandt: The King Uzziah Stricken with Leprosy

This chapter in 2 Chronicles tells us a great deal about Uzziah, a promising man who falls when he presumes that he can be God to himself and others in the way he chooses.  He might represent the perennial flaw in humankind.

But after he had become strong, he became proud to his own destruction and broke faith with the Lord, his God.

And how did this happen?

He entered the temple of the Lord to make an offering on the altar of incense.

Why was this incorrect?

But Azariah the priest, and with him eighty other priests of the Lord, courageous men, followed him . . . saying to him: “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests . . . who have been consecrated for this purpose”. 

Today, we each bring our offerings to the Lord.  Christian liturgies often provide a time when we can offer ourselves back to God both collectively and individually. These moments give us the opportunity to be priests ourselves. They bring us the opening to enter fully into relationship with God, in our personal service to God on the manner God shows us. The Old Testament Law asks us to remain in covenant with the Lord and to serve God with burnt offerings and sacrifice. The New Testament Law of Love asks us to live the Beatitudes in an intentional way. Both Testaments bring us a yardstick with which we might measure our adherence to this law, our fulfillment of old statutes, our flowering in Christ. The presence of Christ that we bring to our troubled world.

Today’s readings in MAGNIFICAT are God’s constancy and ours.  Our fidelity to God and to one another. God’s law is not a set of arbitrary rules but the concrete shape given to the lasting covenant that God has made with human beings – broken many times by faithless people, kept from generation to generation by our God.  God’s faithful constancy is an anchor in an ever-shifting world, where love declared today is spurned tomorrow, and all other certainties are blown away by the wind. Even when those who love us are inconstant, we must remain constant in our love of them for in this way we reflect God’s constancy to us.

Pride calls us to our false selves. Constancy in God helps us to remain faithful in God. The story of Uzziah is one in which we may see ourselves or others puffing up in self-importance, blinding our vision to the fall that inevitably follows. God’s Law of fidelity and gratitude never fails; it brings flourishing rather than destruction. God’s laws are the statutes we teach ourselves and our children. They are the laws that open us to possibility, and that bind our hearts forever to God.

On this last Sunday before Lent, let us consider the temptation to  ignore pride in our own lives. And let us determine to remain constant and faithful to God.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 27, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 27.2 (2008). Print.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uzziah

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Psalm 42: Longing for God’s Presence

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The Bodleian: Hebrew Psalter

The Bodleian: Hebrew Psalter

As we have explored God’s yardstick in the measure of our lives, we have discovered that God’s love and mercy are infinite, healing and present to each of us. Today we respond to Christ’s loving call to join him in this Spirit of love. We ask to live in God’s presence.

As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.

Like the doe seeking water to sustain her young, we move through our days in search of God’s presence.

Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.

We are pilgrim people, wandering the deserts of our lives on our way to the land promised us by God.  We are a people in exile, waiting to return to the temple, living out our hope in Babylon.

Send your light and fidelity, that they may be my guide.

There is no other source of light or life worth pursuing.

And bring me to your holy mountain, the place of your dwelling.

There is no other place worth seeking except God’s holy presence.  As adopted sisters and brothers of Christ, we now hold that temple within our hearts and God has written the great promise of love on our hearts. Touched with the mark of Tau as God’s faithful, we are called back to God’s holy place.

Then I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.

There is no other song worth singing except the song which praises God’s bounty to us.  There is no other grace so blessed.  No other gift worth receiving.

Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.

We wait, we watch, we witness.  We are a people of hope.  We are a people of justice.  We are a faithful and faith-filled people.  We are a people of love.

As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.

Amen.


psalms

The Revised Grail Psalter

Many of the Psalms were written during the forty years that Israel wandered in the desert.  Many more were written by David when he spent years evading King Saul when he sought David’s death.  Still other Psalms were written during the Babylonian captivity.  Today, the Hebrew Psalter (differing slightly in numbering from the Greek translation) contains 150 beautiful hymns of lament, praise, thanksgiving and petition.  These songs describe our own journey of life. Psalm 42 is the cry of one longing to be in God’s presence.

For more on the Grail Psalter, click on the image above or visit: http://communio.stblogs.org/index.php/2008/12/the-revised-grail-psalter-conc/

For more information on Psalms, visit: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/p/psalms.htm 

For more reflections on The Mark of Tau, use the blog search bar and explore. 

Image of the Bodleian Psalter from: https://www.eurojewishstudies.org/digital-forum-showcase-reports/footprints-in-frankfurt-tracing-the-circulation-of-early-hebrew-books/

Adapted from a reflection written on October 21, 2007.

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1 Maccabees 2: God’s Yardstick – Mattathias

Generations of Fidelity

Michel Nicolas Bernard Lépicié: Mattathias Kills an Officer of Antiochus

Michel Nicolas Bernard Lépicié: Mattathias Kills an Officer of Antiochus

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

We continue to see God’s yardstick in the Old and New Testaments.

Mattathias laments that he lives in an age when centuries of fidelity fade into corruption: Woe is me! Why was I born to see the ruin of my people, the ruin of the holy city? We might well ask this question in any age and in any place. It seems that the human condition is to succumb to the temptation of the call of false teaching and self-promotion. Fraud replaces fidelity; dishonesty becomes truth; disgrace and honor trade places. But Mattathias calls on his sons to remember their lineage as beloved children of Yahweh. Falling back on their relationship with God, this ancestry is characterized by strong men who consistently rely on qualities that nourish truth and light. These forbears trust God alone, and they serve as a measuring stick for our own behavior in turbulent times.

Remember the deeds that our ancestors did in their times, and you shall win great honor and an everlasting name.

Abraham, faithful in trial, fills with righteousness. Joseph keeps the commandment, despite distress, to become master of Egypt. Phinehas, for his burning zeal, receives the covenant of an everlasting priesthood. Joshua executes his commission to become a judge in Israel. Caleb bears witness before the assembly and receives an inheritance in the land. David, known for his loyalty, receives as heritage a throne of eternal kingship. Elijah, full of burning zeal for the law, is taken into heaven. For their faith, Hananiah, Azariah and Mishael are saved from the fire. Innocent Daniel is delivered from the mouths of lions. (verses 51-60)

We might pause with these verses 61-63 in particular.

And so, consider this from generation to generation,
    that none who hope in Heaven shall fail in strength.

Do not fear the words of sinners,
    for their glory ends in corruption and worms.

Today exalted, tomorrow not to be found,
    they have returned to dust,
    their schemes have perished.

When we spend time reflecting on these verses today, we see how this pedigree inspired Mattathias and his sons to defend the kingdom whose loss they lament. Like Mattathias, we might also allow ourselves to see the measure of God’s love in our own spiritual family tree. Let us place our hope in heaven so that whatever our circumstances require of us . . . we do not fail in strength.

Tomorrow, Joseph. 


To learn more about Mattathias and his family and the story of Hanukkah, visit: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/History/Maccabees.html

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