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Psalm 32: Time of Need


Wednesday, September 15, 2021

psalm 32Psalm 32

Time of Need

I kept it secret and my frame was wasted.

I groaned all the day long for night and day your hand was heavy upon me.

Indeed my strength was dried up by the summer’s heat.

We do not know but we can imagine that the prophet Jeremiah prayed the psalms from his prison cell or from the bottom of the miry cistern. Chains alone did not stop him from speaking. Scorn and mockery could not hold back the words he knew he must deliver and the actions he knew he must take. If he intoned Psalm 32 it may have been bitterly for he could not put an end to his punishment by acknowledging his sin or by recanting an evil act; or it may have been joyfully for he also knew that God was his only place of safety. Jeremiah, the innocent, bemoaned his reality as he suffered at the hands of corrupt and unjust leaders; but Jeremiah, the prophet, understood the message of hope in this prayer.

So let every good man pray to you in the time of need.

The floods of water may reach high but him they shall not reach.

You are my hiding place, O Lord; you save me from distress.

You surround me with cries of deliverance.

In our moment of stress, God replies through the voice of the psalmist.

I will instruct you and show you the way you should walk, give you counsel and watch over you.

Do not be senseless like horses or mules; with bit and bridle their temper is curbed, else they will not come to you.

In our time of need, God speaks to us today.

Many are the sorrows of the wicked, but love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.

Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, you just; exult all you upright of heart.

When the weight of the world is too much to balance, let us give our burden of despair to God, and be glad in the hope, and grace and love of the Lord.


Visit the Overwhelmed By Grace post on this blog by entering the words in the search bar.

Image from: http://loopyloo305.com/2012/12/16/psalm-32/

1 Corinthians 15: Toiling


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

1corinthians15_58notinvain1 Corinthians 15

Toiling

While kings and civil leaders deny problems that yawn before the nation, the remnant continue to move through their days. While priests set up and maintain hierarchies that God does not intend, the remnant live in fidelity with their Creator. While prophets are scorned and their words thrown back at them, the remnant toil in their smallness that is great in God’s eyes.

By the grace of God I am what I am, and God’s grace to me has not been ineffective.

Centuries after the fall of Israel and Judah the remnant still labor under corrupt leaders and priests, and the creator comes to walk among them as one of them. Generations after their exile and return the remnant witness to the resurrection of Christ. Years after the restoration of a temple and city the remnant live out the promise of redemption.

By the grace of God I am what I am, and God’s grace to me has not been ineffective.

74249646.RrEVmmLE.QUEENSCUPCLINTONIAUNIFLORAP7120064In this year and in this hour the remnant still work in Christ to transform the reality in which they find themselves.

In this day and at this moment the remnant still labor in the Spirit to console a troubled world.

In this eternal time and in this infinite space the remnant still toil in God to bring forth the Kingdom.

This is a labor worth living for. This is work worth dying for. This is toiling that carries with it the gift of God’s grace. This is toiling that brings the immense and unimaginable gift of Christ’s love fully and truly given.


Spend some time today with 1 Corinthians 15 and reflect on its message for those who toil in unjust places under unjust leaders. If you want to spend time with a portion, consider: verses 1-11 The Gospel Teaching, verses 12-19 Results of Denial, verses 20-28 Christ the Firstfruits, verses 29-34 Practical Arguments, verses 35-58 The Resurrection Event. St Paul understand clearly both the frustration of living in world of turmoil, and the power of Christ’s love to mend, sustain and heal. He brings home to us today the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection for those who toil against injustice.

1 corinthians sunset

Images from: http://cccooperagency.wordpress.com/page/47/ and  http://www.pbase.com/jhiker/image/74249646 and http://hdw.eweb4.com/wallpapers/4520/


nile mapMonday, September 13, 2021

Jeremiah 42

. . . You Are Remnant

 

If you remain quietly in this land I will build you up, and not tear you down . . .

We will know when we are closest to God when our hearts are broken.

I will plant you, not uproot you . . .

We will know that God is near when we hear the call to make reparation.

For I regret the evil I have done you . . .

When we most feel like abandoning a place or a relationship, we will know that restoration is at hand.

Then listen to the word of the Lord, remnant of Judah.

When we repent our own broken vows, when we remain rooted and bloom where we are planted . . .

The Lord has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel. 

When we build bridges with our enemies . . .

The Lord has brought them back from the land of the north.

When we move forward into true union and intimacy with God . . .

The Lord will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, the mothers and those with child, they shall return as an immense throng. 

When we ask nothing more than to do God’s will . . . then we will know that we are remnant.

They departed in tears, and the Lord will console them and guide them; the virgins will make merry and dance, and young men and old as well.  

So let us sing with our remnant companions . . .

The Lord will turn their mourning into joy, the Lord will console and gladden them after their sorrows.

And let us call others to the dance . . .

Cease your tears of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes, the sorrow you have sown shall have its reward.

Let us recount how the Lord has rescued us . . .

There is hope for your future.

And let us remember that we are God’s beloved . . .

How long will you continue to stray o rebellious daughter?  

Let us tell others of the wonders of God’s love . . .

The Lord has created a new thing upon the earth.

Let us soften our hearts and unbend our stiff necks . . .

The Lord will place a new law within them, and write it upon their hearts.

Let us agree to be God’s people . . .

“I will be their God”, says the Lord, “and they will be my people”. 

For there is nothing more worthy than remaining faithful to God . . . there is nothing more worthy than becoming remnant.


Image from: http://www.keyway.ca/htm2012/20121230.htm

Adapted from a reflection written on October 7, 2007.


Map of Israel and Judah

Map of Israel and Judah

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Jeremiah 42

The Journey to Egypt . . .

If you remain quietly in this land I will build you up, and not tear you down . . .

Repeatedly in Scripture we are urged to move out of our comfort zones, and to put Christ into action. From the first words of Genesis (In the beginning when God created the heavens and earth . . .) to the last words of Revelation (Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.  Amen.), we are encouraged to take steps into wide and dark abysses, to take leaps of faith. We are inspired to commit acts of hope and to bring union with enemies through love. Today’s reading is one of those quiet times when we hear the Lord our God tell us that it is time to remain planted, to listen, to persevere through the trouble, to be still, to be calm . . . for the Lord our God is with us.

I will plant you, not uproot you . . .

But so often in our lives we are tempted to sort out problems by changing our location rather than changing ourselves, we have likely packed our bags for Egypt where we will see no more of war, hear the trumpet alarm no longer, nor hunger for bread. We convince ourselves that it makes a great deal of sense to pull up stakes and begin anew elsewhere when relationships or covenants have gone terribly, and seemingly irreparably, amiss. Frequently we believe it is time to move out or away from a place or a person and there are certainly situations in which our personal safety depends on our stepping away from danger; but in today’s reading we are challenged to make a spiritual change in our hearts rather than a physical change with our bodies. The prophet’s words rise to us and ask us how quickly we back away from God when our lives become difficult. When we consider the choice before Jeremiah to remain or stay, we see that much of who we are and what we do identifies us as remnant.  

For I regret the evil I have done you . . .

Jeremiah the prophet suffers greatly and deeply.  From 628 to 520 B.C.E. he speaks chiefly to the people of Judah and her capital Jerusalem.  Much like today, these are turbulent times.  The superpowers of the day, Egypt, Assyria, and Babylonia, are carving up the Middle East putting small states like Judah in constant danger.  The old Israel Kingdom divided in 930 B.C.E. and its northern portions were invaded, her people disappeared into exile.  The people of the southern kingdom of Judah constantly ask Jeremiah’s opinion, he speaks, and then they disagreed with him.  At turns, they ignore him, persecute him, they even imprison him.  Yet Jeremiah continues to speak when the people ask and when God calls.  His story may seem pointless and depressingly familiar; but through all of the abuse this prophet receives, he remains faithful to his own covenant with his creator.  And the message de delivers is a constant reminder that the change God asks us to make is a change in our hearts. Jeremiah also reminds us of three important concepts: God unfailingly calls us to repentance, we will suffer consequences when we break our covenant promises, and restoration is ours when we respond to God’s call.  Jeremiah reminds his people – and us today – that we are a faithful remnant to be gathered up by God.

Then listen to the word of the Lord, remnant of Judah.

Tomorrow . . . be still and know that you are Remnant.


Adapted from a reflection written on October 7, 2007.

Image from: http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/feast-of-jeremiah-june-26/


Saturday, September 11, 2021

mizpah

Ruins of Mizpah

Jeremiah 40

Today we remember those who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. And we also remember all those who have died in the twenty years since. We continue to work for justice as we seek peace. We also reflect on how the present day reflects the past as we consider . . . 

Points of View

More intrigue follows as the Babylonians establish their control over the city and her people.

“The Judeans who remained in Palestine rallied around Gedaliah, who as governor stood for a policy of obedience to Babylon, and prospered. But their prospects were undermined by his assassination. Especially because Babylonian soldiers were among those slain, this act had the appearance of rebellion. It caused consternation among the survivors because of the reaction they expected from the Babylonians.

“What motivated the assassination? The perpetrator, Ishmael, was a member of the Judean royal house and during the war had been a freedom fighter . . . Thus, it is possible that this act was a last gasp of the old party struggle. Given the magnitude of Judah’s defeat in 587, this was less likely am attempt to assume leadership than an act of revenge. From one point of view, Gedaliah, like Jeremiah, could be considered a traitor”. (Mays 573)

It is likely that each of us has lived through an overthrow of some kind. A takeover may have occurred in our workplace, with our family, or perhaps in our civil community. No matter the size of the revolution or occupation, a traitor and hero may be one in the same person; collaborators and companions may be difficult to discern. In the end, our point of view will determine how we record an event and how we react afterward.

As Jesus walks among us he constantly asks that we consider the other point of view, listen to the other voice, make room for the other perspective. God’s kingdom is inclusive of all – even those we believe to be our enemies. So as we go about our daily life, let us consider the point of view in which we have planted ourselves. And let us be open to the Gedeliahs and the Ishmaels in our midst.


For more on the murder of Gedaliah, visit: http://professorwillis.blogspot.com/2011/07/ishmael-and-ammonites-murder-gedaliah.html 

For more on Gedaliah, a little known figure, click on the image of Mizpah above, or visit: http://obscurecharacters.com/2013/11/11/gedaliah-nebuchadnezzars-governor/ 

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 573. Print.

Image from: http://holyland-sites.blogspot.com/2013/01/mizpah.html


Friday, September 10, 2021

heart life not dullJeremiah 39

Our Lives as Booty

Jerusalem is invaded and destroyed, the enemy chases down and captures the king, the princes are murdered before the father’s eyes, and the poor are left behind to tend the farms and vineyards.  Jeremiah is released from the guard house where he had been detained for his words. He conveys the words of the Lord’ assurance to his Egyptian rescuer, Ebed-melech: Behold, I am now fulfilling the words I spoke against this city, for evil and not for good; and this before your very eyes.  But on that day I will rescue you, says the Lord, you shall not be handed over to the men of whom you are afraid.  I will make certain that you escape and do not fall by the sword.  Your life shall be spared as booty, because you trusted in me, says the Lord.

From commentary: “Jeremiah’s behavior illustrates how to survive.  By submitting to Babylon, he has escaped with his life as the prize of war and returned home.  The Eded-melech sequel lends strength to this interpretation.  Although the fate of the city is sealed, Ebed-melech will escape with his life as a prize of war because he trusted in YHWH.  It is that confidence that most exiles emulate, and they too will gain a future.  The many themes of these narratives unite in this rhetorical effort to persuade the exiles to submit to Babylon as the only avenue forward”. (Barton, and Muddiman 520)

All of this sets us to thinking about God’s justice.

From the mini-reflection in today’s MAGNIFICAT Evening Prayer: The concept of God’s justice can seem frightening.  We are aware of our own sin and fear retribution.  However, God’s justice is not about him getting back at those who offended him.  God’s justice sets things aright . . . [so] we should not dread God’s justice.  Rather we should rejoice in right order returned to his creation.

And so we pray . . .

Just, yet merciful God who sees and knows all, we return our lives to you.  We, who are created by your hand, turn back to you all that we have managed to enact in our lives in your name.  We, who have known the protection of your power, fly home to live in you.  We, who have been saved by your love, gather all that we are as booty to be taken in by you.  In your mercy, guide us.  In your kindness, guard us.  And in your great love, give us the hope, the grace and the endurance we will need to live in joyful hope for you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 520. Print.

Image from: http://christianmotivations.weebly.com/christian-motivations-blog/archives/08-2014/3

A Favorite from February 5, 2011.


Thursday, September 9, 2021

up from the cisternJeremiah 38

The Miry Cistern: A Reprise

What do we do when we find ourselves in a situation that drags us down as though we were encased in mud up to our necks? How do we handle our fear when confronted with an unpredictable, cowardly or inconsistent leader? Why do we take on the world as if we alone have responsibility for all that takes place?

We reflected on these and other thoughts a number of months ago when we visited Jeremiah in the miry cistern. Today we return to this portion of his prophecy, but rather than focus on the king and prophet, we take a look at Ebed-melech, the Cushite courtier who intercedes on Jeremiah’s behalf.  (Verses 7:13)

What do we know about Ebed-melech? Resources tell us that he was an Ethiopian eunuch serving at Zedekiah’s court. Scripture tells us that he heard that [political leaders] had put Jeremiah into the cistern. Now the king was sitting in the Gate of Benjamin; and Ebed-melech went out from the king’s palace and spoke to the king, saying, “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet whom they have cast into the cistern; and he will die right where he is because of the famine, for there is no more bread in the city.”

We also know that the king ordered Ebed-melech to retrieve the prophet, and  we might notice a detail provided for us: So Ebed-melech took the men under his authority and went into the king’s palace to a place beneath the storeroom and took from there worn-out clothes and worn-out rags and let them down by ropes into the cistern to Jeremiah. Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Now put these worn-out clothes and rags under your armpits under the ropes”; and Jeremiah did so. So they pulled Jeremiah up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern, and Jeremiah stayed in the court of the guardhouse.

Today as we wonder how to extricate ourselves from difficult situations, let us remember the courage of Ebed-melech who acted when he encountered injustice.

When we wonder with what intensity we might react when confronted with dangerous circumstances, let us recall the tenderness of Ebed-melech who thought to provide Jeremiah with cushioning as he and his men eased the prophet from the muddy hole.

When we wonder who might save us when we find ourselves in the bottom of a pit with no means of escape, let us recall the Ebed-melechs in our lives who have risked their own safety to rescue us.

And let us thank God for the small, tender moments of surprise when we have been delivered from the bottom of our own miry cisterns.


For another reflection on this chapter, inter the words The Miry Cistern into the search bar on this blog and explore.

Image from: http://mygodmorning.weebly.com/devotionals/category/friendship


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

cisternJeremiah 37

Jeremiah in the Dungeon

We have spent several weeks with Jeremiah as he exhorts, complains, and calls. He warns of the danger in presuming that the enemy has been conquered. And for his words of prediction, he is punished. Jeremiah brings truth to ears that know their own guilt. As we move through this chapter, let us pause at verse 9.

Do not deceive yourselves . . .

Jeremiah is on his way to tend to family business but he is detained and accused of deception. Jeremiah, the innocent, suffers; his accusers know that his words point out their own corruption, and they wish to silence him. Perhaps they believe that the prophet’s imprisonment will prove their innocence and his guilt. Let us reflect on verse 14.

Without listening . . .

King Zedekiah refuses to hear Jeremiah and when we read further into this prophecy, we will see what happens to each of these men. For now, let us spend a bit of time with verses 19 and 20.

Where are your own prophets now who prophesied to you that the king of Babylon would not attack you or this land?

From our own life experience, we know that liars perceive their lies – and the lies of their compatriots – as fact. For speaking truth to the structure, Jeremiah will soon be thrown into the cistern. The truth-sayer will be punished severely for speaking the words God sends to him. But lest we think that this prophet brings us only sadness, let us remember some of his earlier words: There will be a new covenant . . . one written on your hearts, not on stone . . . I have plans for your joy, not your woe . . .

The story of Jeremiah may be seen as a dreary one but perhaps it ought to be one of our favorites, for despite the pain and ruin his prophecy brings, Jeremiah does as God asks. And despite the suffering God’s words visit upon him, Jeremiah is ever faithful to his task, ever hopeful in the Lord, and ever loving of his people . . . even those who punish, exile and eventually murder him.

As we pause with Jeremiah today, we pray . . . May we never undergo such torture . . . but may we always be as true as this prophet is to his God.


Adapted from a reflection written on October 22, 2007.

Compare different versions of today’s Noontime by following the scripture link above. Choose other versions of the Bible by using the drop down menus. Sit with Jeremiah for a time today . . . and listen for God’s word.

Enter the name Zedekiah into the blog search bar and spend some time reflecting on the relationship between prophet and king.

To read an interesting post on Jeremiah 37-39 as the prophet journeys from prison to palace, click on the image above or visit: http://www.journeythroughthestory.com/2014/08/jeremiah-37-39.html


Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Tough-love1-300x256Ezekiel 33

Fidelity of the Sentinel

In ancient societies the role of the watchman was seminal; city-states and even towns relied on watch towers and wakeful sentinels to warn their community of impending danger. Today we have replaced this watchfulness with electronic stealth weapons that often divide us about their necessity or efficacy. With today’s Noontime, we might learn something about our human need to be alert so as to survive. We might also learn something about our own fidelity to God.

Although Israel has already been sent into exile, Ezekiel warns his people of continuing disaster and, as we have seen with Jeremiah, the community’s response to his warning is lukewarm. This was a people skilled in the art of denial and enabling. It seems that God’s prophets, or sentinels, nearly always receive a tepid response; but this does not deter them from speaking. Today our modern prophets, like those of old, continue to call out to us about the importance of hearing the warning from the sentinels we ourselves have posted. They also call on us to be faithful to God in our response to the warning call.

My parents often reminded us that what hurts the individual also hurts the group. They also admitted that sometimes as parents it is difficult to discern when love is nurturing and when it is enabling. Tough love is a term that was coined in the late 1960s by Bill Milliken to describe how families and institutions must intervene in addicted behaviors and cycles. Too often we are swayed by our fear of rejection by an individual or group to gently yet firmly interact with others in loving sternness.  And this is what God is saying to Ezekiel and Jeremiah. I have appointed you watchman of the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.

When we hear the sentinel warning, we know that it is the hour to pause and reflect as individuals and as communities about the message of that call. We are obliged to listen to other voices, to pray with other hearts, and to share with other minds the meaning of the warning. And we must remain faithful to God’s call as do the prophets. Although the tide of many be against us, we must persist in developing our willingness to step out of all that is comfortable to remain faithful in our relationship with the creator God.  For after all, the end of this story is good news. The end of this story is restoration and resurrection. The end of this story is about our preparedness to receive the blessing that is already ours.


Image from: http://drmommyonline.com/what-is-tough-love-and-when-to-use-it

Adapted from a reflection written on December 27, 2006.

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