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Saturday, June 12, 2021

1 Chronicles 28

5201-king-david-in-prayer-pieter-de-grebber

Pieter de Grebber: King David in Prayer

Service for the House of the Lord

In today’s reading we are witnesses to a moment in human history that is difficult to match. David forfeits the building of a temple that would surely bring him worldly fame. He does this in order that he might obey God above all others, even above his own desires.

Yes, David hands all of his plans over to his son Solomon and this son will carry out those plans in a grand scale; but David steps back from his own desire.

Yes, David’s plans are meticulous in nature and we may consider that he wants to control his son from the distance; but David conveys the desires of God rather than self.

Yes, David sins and fails as he moves through his life and we may believe ourselves better than he; but David repents and returns to God, keeping in mind who is Lord of all.

What I like most in this reading is the ending of the chapter with the verses David speaks to his son. We might all offer these words to the generations who follow us and, indeed, to one another: Be firm and steadfast; go to work without fear or discouragement, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or abandon you before you have completed all the work for the service of the house of the Lord.

And the people reply . . . Amen!


Adapted from a reflection written on Wednesday, May 18, 2011.

To read about King David’s palace uncovered in 2013, visit: https://news.yahoo.com/king-david-era-palace-found-israel-archaeologists-141207932.html or https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna52529132

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:5201-king-david-in-prayer-pieter-de-grebber.jpg

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land of nod

Land of Nod

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

  Genesis 4

Considering Cain and Abel

How do we see the story of Cain and Abel through the lens of Johannine thought? The keeper of flocks contrasted with the tiller of soil. The favored first-born versus the overlooked second. The key to the story, as we are constantly told, lies in verse 3: Through the course of time Cain brought an offering to the Lord from the fruit of the soil, while Abel, for his part, brought one of the firstlings of his flock.

Cain, the eldest and sower of crops, is described as crestfallen and greatly resentful when God favors the loving offering brought by Abel but God does not leave Cain alone with his anger, fear and envy. God asks Cain why he feels these negative emotions. No reply is recorded from Cain but further words from God are: If you do well, you can hold up your head. God warns Cain of sin and describes it as a demon lurking at the door: his urge is toward you, yet you can be his master. As we read this story we hope that Cain can resist the power of envy because we want to resist this green devil ourselves; yet we know the story too well. Cain goes out to speak with Abel and unable to resist the skills of the demon, he kills his brother. Several verses later Cain asks God to allow him to be killed as he wanders the earth but God refuses this request. So Cain finally settles east of Eden in the land of nomads, Nod.

When we consider this story through the perspective of the writings of the Apostle John, we might spend time today considering three points.

God is honest with both Cain and Abel, acknowledging Abel’s true love of God and Cain’s more egocentric self. God does not pamper us by avoiding the truth. We see this same honesty in Jesus as John tells the story of the woman caught in adultery. (John 8:1-11)

God does not abandon Cain in his sadness and grief. He abides with him, yet continues to present him with truth. God allows Cain the freedom to choose his own path. We see this same fidelity in Jesus when John retells his words about the Good Shepherd. (John 10:1-21)

God does not create an easy exit for Cain but rather allows him to experience the consequence of listening to the demon who lurks at the door. God offers Cain transformation through suffering. We see this same love in Jesus with every story John tells of the Resurrected Christ. (John 20 and 21)

And we also experience this same love from Jesus each day of our lives when, as true children of God, we take our cares and worries, our joys and delights to God.

Tomorrow, considering holiness and a prayer for true children.


Image from: http://thesestonewalls.com/gordon-macrae/in-the-land-of-nod-east-of-eden/

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weeds and wheatFriday, May 28, 2014

1 John 3:4-10

The Weeds and the Wheat

Today we hear some difficult words that we must not take too casually or too harshly. Today we are given the opportunity to heal rifts and bridge gaps in our relationships. Today we have the opportunity to turn away from judging one another and to turn toward loving one another . . . even our enemies.

It is of paramount importance to read these verses carefully lest we use them as a club against one another.

The Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil.

It is imperative to enact these words with love lest we convince ourselves too quickly that it is our responsibility to see that no one breaks any rules.

No one who fails to act in righteousness belongs to God.

It is essential for our eternal well-being that we see these words as a license to forgive with deep compassion.

No one who fails to love his brother belongs to God.

It is vital for our own serenity that we allow these words to transform any small-mindedness we might harbor, so that we become passionate in our love for the universal Christ that lives in each of us.

In Jesus’ Parable of the Weeds (Matthew 13:24-30) we realize that each of God’s children is a field of wheat and weeds that God patiently tends as we grow, knowing that the weeds will be sifted from the wheat when the harvest time arrives. Therefore, rather than judge or condemn ourselves or our fellow pilgrims, let us do as John asks and love each of our sisters and brothers into goodness just as Christ loves each and every one of us into goodness.


While thinking of these verses, click on the scripture link above and study the four pre-select versions of this citation. Choose another version and read these words again and reflect on the opportunity to love that John brings to us.

Image from: http://www.christianitytoday.com/edstetzer/2013/october/subversive-kingdom-parable-of-wheat-and-weeds.html?paging=off

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Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Mark 13:14-23

joy-with-white-300x214A Prayer for Times of Tribulation

When you see the desolating abomination standing where he should not [let the reader understand], then those in Judea must flee to the mountains, [and] a person on a housetop must not go down or enter to get anything out of his house, and a person in a field must not return to get his cloak . . . Be watchful!

These are words that are often construed by fundamentalists to predict the idea of rapture, of the faithful being taken into God’s presence suddenly while the unfaithful are left behind. Here Jesus speaks words of warning, but what do they really mean?

God says: You worry and fuss, you compare yourselves with others, and you focus on the minutiae of your day while you neglect The Word. When fear begins to overtake you, remember that I want to bring each of you to me, even those of you who have much to account for.  Keep in mind that you are joy to me . . . and I want to be joy to you. Remember that I find joy in you . . . and I want you to find joy in me.

And so we pray with the words of the psalmist.

Great things are they that you have done, O LORD my God!

Remind us, God – when we are stressed – that your hope heals many wounds.

How great your wonders and your plans for us!

Remind us, God – when we are tired – that you care us for each moment of the day and night.

There is none who can be compared with you.

Remind us, God – when we are sad – that you are our greatest champion.

O, that I could make them known and tell them!

Remind us, God – when we are worried – that you suffer with us through all misfortune.

But they are more than I can count!

Remind us, God – when we finally come to rest in you – that your love counters all tribulation.

Psalm 40:4-5


For interesting insight into the English expression, “head for the hills!” go to: http://english.stackexchange.com/questions/80681/does-make-for-the-hills-still-hold-currency-as-an-idiom

For further information on the idea of the Rapture, visit: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Rapture-the 

Image from: http://www.christiansciencechicago.org/self-sustaining-joy/

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Tuesday, April 20, 2021easter

John 7:37-39

Discussion

Yesterday we reflected on God’ invitation to us that we enter into an intimate relationship with the Word. Today as we rest in the promise that Christ returns in a way we cannot understand, we discover how or if, when or why we thirst to know more about God. If you did not listen to the long version of the Avivah Zornberg interview with Krista Tippett yesterday, take the time this week. Record questions. Initiate discussions. And in this holy Eastertide, share the story of your personal exodus, transformation and redemption.

http://www.onbeing.org/program/avivah-zornberg-the-transformation-of-pharaoh-moses-and-god/6258/audio?embed=1


Image from: https://depositphotos.com/stock-photos/easter-religious.html

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Monday, April 19, 2021

Red Sea Find

Red Sea Discovery

John 7:32-36

Questions

In today’s Noontime we hear words from Jesus that cause his listeners, both then and now, to ask questions. Rather than stifling curiosity that will lead to a fuller understanding of his identity and purpose, Jesus initiates a sense of inquiry that continues today. Jesus frequently answers questions with further questions. Jesus regularly creates open conversations instead of shutting down curiosity. Jesus refuses to take these questions as a challenge to his divinity and instead, uses these questions to call each of us to our own divinity.

Any creed that provides firm and pat answers to all question about our relationship with God does not reflect the life Jesus lives with his followers. What we experience today is God’s invitation to open and free dialog with God’s Word. We experience the patient and compassionate Spirit that abides with us despite our reluctance to believe.

As we move further into Eastertide, let us find an hour of time to listen to an On Being podcast of an interview conducted by Krista Tippett with Avivah Zornberg, a midrash expert. (The interview was conducted on April 7, 2005 and was first aired on April 10, 2014.) We investigate the Exodus story about a people who were once honored guests who have become slaves in ancient Egypt.

“With a master of midrash as our guide, we walk through the Exodus story at the heart of Passover. It’s not the simple narrative you’ve watched at the movies or learned in Sunday school. Neither Moses or Pharaoh, nor the oppressed Israelites or even God, are as they seem. As Avivah Zornberg reveals, Exodus is a cargo of hidden stories — telling the messy, strange, redemptive truth of us as we are, and life as it is”. (On Being: http://www.onbeing.org/ April 10, 2014)

Zornberg points out that this story of flight does not happen in order that we merely re-tell or re-read it; rather, it takes place so that we will each tell a greater story of our own exodus from slavery to salvation. Listen today and think about how each of us might recount our own redemption story.  Listen today and ask questions. Remember our experience of the Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday Triduum in which Christ makes his own exodus, and be prepared to listen to God speak to us in a new and redemptive way.


Image from: www.bibleresearcher.org/comments/Exodus-the-crossing.html

http://www.onbeing.org/program/avivah-zornberg-the-transformation-of-pharaoh-moses-and-god/6258/audio?embed=1

Listen to the unedited version of this interview to hear how Zornberg explains God’s passion for the faithful, and the importance of women in this saga when she connects The Song of Songs and Exodus.

The image above is an object found in the Red Sea. The image of a chariot axle is superimposed. To find out more, click on the image or go to: www.bibleresearcher.org/comments/Exodus-the-crossing.html

To learn more about the midrash, go to: www.myjewishlearning.com/texts/Rabbinics/Midrash.shtml

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TIBERI~1

Sea of Galilee

Thursday, April 15, 2021

John 7:1-9

Within Galilee

Jesus moved about within Galilee; but he did not wish to travel to Judea, because the Jews were trying to kill him.

We have begun our ascent to Jerusalem and so we gird ourselves for the arduous journey with its dreadful yet glorious end. We have heard the words and woes of Amos and so we understand that change must and will come upon us. We set our feet on the path we have chosen and we step forward with both dread and hope. What do we discover about ourselves and our world that we must change? We believe that we are well aware of the pitfalls we will meet.  We know that there are barriers that will stymie and frustrate us. We realize that if we hope to be made new we leave the refuge we have created for ourselves if we hope to travel up to Jerusalem. We recognize the hostile nature of the world we traverse and yet somehow we feel strangely safer once we commit to moving forward. Still, for a while we determine to remain where we feel safest while we prepare for our moment of boldness when we will allow ourselves to be open to rescue from our old way of living. And so for a time we remain in Galilee . . . while we prepare for our own conversion, change and resurrection. 


 

the-second-temple-jerusalem-aryeh-weiss

Aryeh Weiss: The Second Temple Jerusalem 

For another reflection about resting before our journey to Jerusalem, visit the Resting in Bethany post by entering the words into the blog search bar to explore. 

For more information about the location and nature of Galilee and Judea, go to: Galilee http://bibleatlas.org/galilee.htm and Judea http://bibleatlas.org/judea.htm

The Temple image from: https://pixels.com/featured/the-second-temple-jerusalem-aryeh-weiss.html

Sea of Galilee image from: http://www.christianholyland.com/sea-of-galilee-tour-maps-facts-and-pictures.html

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paths 15Easter Friday, April 9, 2021

Matthew 13:17-23

So Many Paths – Part IV

Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears, because they hear.

The Parable of the Sower is a familiar one and yet . . . we resist changing so that our journey might be a little lighter. We refuse adjustment from our present position even though modification in our living might offer and opportunity for conversion. When we find ourselves traveling a road that seems immutable and absolute we need not fear, for we are graced with the Word that combats all Woe. How do we tune our ears so that we might honestly listen to God’s word? How do we un-muddy our eyes so that might rightly see God’s presence in our lives?

Life gives us surprising obstacles and we lose heart. We lament and complain. We recoil and mourn. Life treats us well and we take credit for all that we have and are. We act with hubris. We become pompous and self-righteous. Once we have set out on a path, do we have any recourse to change? Once we are well on our way, are we doomed to a single outcome?

paths 16The seed sown on the path is the one who hears the word of the kingdom without understanding it, and the evil one comes and steals away what was sown in his heart.

When we hear the Torah, the Prophets and the Gospel we are as free to heed God’s Word as we are to ignore it.

The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and receives it with joy. But he has no root and lasts only for a time. When some tribulation or persecution comes because of the word, he immediately falls away.

When we hear Jesus’ parables we are as free to search for meaning as we are to treat these stories as children’s tales that hold no meaning for adult lives.

The seed sown among thorns in the one who hears the word, but then worldly anxiety and the lure of riches choke the word and it bears no fruit.

paths 18When we witness injustice we also witness the presence of the Spirit in a hostile and frightening world. We are as free to respond to that Spirit to unit ourselves in God’s grace with Christ’s mystical body as we are to squelch it.

But the seed sown on rich soil is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold.

When we find ourselves on a difficult path fraught with danger and friction . . . we are as free to ask for, to receive and to respond to God’s grace as we are to remain implacably set in our own rigid way. As we near the end of the Lenten season and prepare to open ourselves to Christ’s Easter joy, let us determine to receive Christ with gratitude, to celebrate God’s presence with delight, and to rest in the serenity of the Spirit.

Tomorrow, a prayer for the journey.


Images from: https://www.joe-ks.com/2012/amazing-paths

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Holy Thursday, April 1, 2021

MADAME~1

Christopher Turner: On the Couch

 Amos 6

The Cost of Prosperity

Before we leave Amos we reflect once more on his theme of the wealthy and comfortable taking advantage of the poor and voiceless. Like his contemporaries Hosea and Joel, Amos spoke out against those who lay upon couches plotting to keep what they had gathered rather than share their prosperity. He brought to light the corruption too often found in those who hoard possessions and power rather than tend to those on the margins who have few or no resources.

Amos spoke so well and so boldly that he was finally expelled by Amaziah, the priest in charge of the royal sanctuary. His delineation of “hollow prosperity” was too much for the power structure and rather than spend time with the prophet’s words, leadership chose to shut down this man who gave their work a “sweeping indictment” of the injustice and idolatry Amos saw everywhere. The prophet is known for his fiery words but also his offering of a messianic perspective of hope. He knows that “divine punishment is never completely destructive; it is part of the hidden plan of God to bring salvation to men. The perversity of the human will may retard, but it cannot totally frustrate, this design of a loving God”. (Senior 1126)

As we read these verses today, we might think of a time when either we too lay upon couches at the expense of others or we were those laboring within a corrupt system. In the modern world, some of us have a the freedom to express our views in the public arena. Sometimes this voice is small, sometimes it carries weight; but no matter the strength of our words we know that when we stand in God’s plan all will be well. All will right itself.

Today’s reading is full of Old Testament ire; yet we can bring our New Testament eyes and ears to this story to put it into context. When we find ourselves in our own Samaria or northern Kingdom, when we see corruption in our holy Bethel city, when our prophets preach caution to a power structure carried away with its own authority, we might pause to remember what Amos tells us: Woe to the complacent, leaders of a favored nation, lying upon beds of ivory, stretched comfortably on their couches . . . they devise their own accompaniment.

On this day when we celebrate the Lord’s Last Supper, we examine ourselves, our motives, our hopes and desires. We evaluate where and how and why we stand; and we look at those with whom we choose to spend time on idle couches.

When we find ourselves unsatisfied with all we see around us, or when we are content with only our own accompaniment, perhaps it is a warning that we need to look to ourselves and to our companions. Perhaps, on this holy day of celebrated sacrifice, it is time for us to consider the cost of our prosperity.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1126. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on September 7, 2009.

Tomorrow, Unlimited Mercy.

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