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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

luke[1]Luke 22:35-38

Instructions

The instructions Jesus gave to the disciples he sent out into the world earlier in his ministry are simple. Take nothing with you except for the gifts God has given you. All will be provided as you do the work of God. Today’s Noontime reading is the slice of time between the prediction of Peter’s denial and Jesus’ agony in the garden of Gethsemane. We listen and watch as those closest to Jesus misunderstand the words of the instructions he has given them. They take them literally. We may likewise misunderstand today.

We are told so frequently what is important and yet we forget. We are asked: When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything? 

And we reply: No, nothing. Yet do we truly trust God in time of crisis? Or do we rely on the sack, the sandals and the sword before all else? We believe in God’s presence and we rely on God when all is going well; but what do we do when a life sours and begins to devolve? Do we succumb to the temptation to second guess ourselves and our childlike placing of ourselves in God’s care? Do we begin to think ourselves foolish for having been so trusting and innocent? Do we think that kingdom building comes without a price? Do we take the words of Jesus literally, as the disciples do in today’s reading?

It is enough, Jesus says to his followers when they do not comprehend, and then he moves into the garden to begin his final agony, knowing all the while that he will be abandoned – has already been abandoned – by many. The disciples melt away when the pressure becomes too great or the fear too overwhelming; yet the Lord kneels in prayer for all of us, for each of us. It is enough.

When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything? 

As we set out each day with Jesus on the road to Gethsemane and Calvary, let us try to remember our instructions for a time of crisis. And when calamity strikes, as it always does, we must remember that true discipleship is difficult . . . yet fulfilling. We find strength in acting in our belief that we are loved and provided for; and we find peace in hoping for the best outcome from horrific scenarios. The story of redemption and salvation begins with an all-encompassing love that is rejected, vilified, and even reviled. So when we find ourselves in crisis we do well to remember the instructions Jesus gives to all his disciples . . .

When I sent you forth without a money bag or a sack or sandals, were you in need of anything? 


First written on March 17, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://rodiagnusdei.wordpress.com/tag/luke/


Monday, October 19, 2020

6-6-hearing-web-gfx[1]Psalm 32:8

Hearing Instruction

I will instruct you, and teach you the way to go; I will watch over you and be your adviser.

We so often ask advice, and then we ignore it. We frequently seek counsel and wisdom, and argue against it. We regularly say that we seek wisdom and later reject it. We humans are independent creatures, created by love, for love and out of love and yet we go through our lives lamenting love lost, unrequited love, love betrayed and love abandoned. Let us reflect today on hearing instruction.

God says: I know that I repeat myself constantly but I do not mind.  I answer your repeated questions; I reassure troubled souls; I affirm nervous hearts and calm distressed minds. I see the pain and sorrow that you suffer and so I assure you that I will never abandon you; I repeat this reassurance as often as I must until my words sink into your consciousness. I repeat what I have told you many times: Love me, love yourselves, love one another. Hear my instruction and follow my voice.

Through Isaiah (30:19-21), God reminds us that when we are confused or troubled and know not which way to go, God always speaks so that . . . Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left”. If we might settle ourselves even the smallest bit, we will begin to hear words of comfort and wisdom.

Enter the word voice into a Bible Concordance and see how often God speaks to us through scripture from the first book of Genesis to the last book of Revelation.


Image from: http://fox17online.com/2013/06/06/mayor-taking-hearing-test-to-promote-awareness/#axzz2hpgiiX00


Sunday, October 18, 2020

120578004.0sKwzibJ[1]Psalm 32:6-7

Songs of Deliverance

Each of your servants prays to you in time of trouble; even if floods come rushing down, they will never reach him. You are a hiding place for me, you guard me when in trouble, you surround me with songs of deliverance.

The dry wadis flood when sudden rains come upon the unsuspecting traveler.  The psalmist uses an apt metaphor for the troubles that spring on us when we are living ordinary lives in ordinary ways. During these times God becomes a hiding place, a sanctuary, a refuge from sudden, overwhelming storms. God guards and protects, encourages and saves. God calls to us out of the storm, intoning the words of hymns of liberation. What are these words that are meant to calm crushed spirits, to sooth distraught minds and bring weary bones to new life?

God says: I hear you when you pray to me out of the maelstrom that strikes you – as the storms of life always do – and I long to save you from all that threatens you. Call out to me as the flood waters rise.  Sing out my name when you feel that you are lost. Ask me for help and I will make a way for you. When I rebuke the rushing waters that threaten to pull you down into darkness, they will settle at once into a refreshing oasis where you can rest and renew yourself. Do not fear the swirling waters of life, for I am with you always.  When you call, I will answer.

Jewish_National_Fund_trees_in_The_Negev[1]From Matthew 8:23-27: When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him.  And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being covered with the waves; but Jesus Himself was asleep. And they came to him and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, oh you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and it became perfectly calm. The men were amazed, and said, “What kind of a man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”

When we are surprised by the sudden changes that spring on us, let us call on one whom even the winds and sea obey. And let us listen for the songs of deliverance that overcome the storm.

Enter the word maelstrom or storm into the blog search bar and reflect on how God saves and liberates us when we ask for help.


For more images of the Hatta Wadi Floods, click on the image above, or go to: http://www.pbase.com/bigrig/image/120578004

Oasis image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oasis


Saturday, October 17, 2020Grace_wordle[1]Psalm 32

Overwhelmed by Grace

The second of the penitential psalms “is a joyous testimony of gratitude for God’s gift of forgiveness for those who confess their sins and follow the law of God. Instead of constantly pondering their sins, believers acknowledge their wretchedness before God and accept forgiveness and reconciliation. Their torment ceases, and a new person is born, overwhelmed by grace, confidence, and a sense of obedience.

“In praying the psalm, we can focus not only on the happiness resulting from the forgiveness of particular sin, but also on the more profound happiness obtained by the complete victory given us by God in Christ over sin in all forms”.  (Psalms 86)

We too often emphasize all that is wrong with the world, our community, our colleagues and even our friends, family and self. Today’s reading invites us to accept the knowledge that we are not perfect, to ask forgiveness for the times we have wronged self and others, to graciously accept the pardon we receive, and to allow God’s grace, joy and peace to bring us profound happiness. This deep and lasting contentment is the gift of complete victory we are free to reject or receive.

And so we pray . . .

Forgiving and unifying God, we lay all our imperfections in your hands.

Grant us this day the complete victory of your love as we come to you in truth.

Give us the confidence we need to believe that your love has the power to bring joy out of suffering.

Inspire in us such love for you that our obedience is a source of delight rather than a burden to shoulder.

Move in us a spirit of reconciliation that surmounts all fears, calms all anxieties, and heals all wounds.

Bring us your profound happiness that heals, binds, unifies and transforms.

Grant us your lasting gift of overwhelming grace that seeps into the bone, calms the heart, and warms the troubled soul. 

We ask this as we ask all things through  your son, Jesus Christ. Amen. 


THE PSALMS, NEW CATHOLIC VERSION. Saint Joseph Edition. New Jersey: Catholic Book Publishing Company, 2004. 86. Print.

For a sermon on Grace: The Verb, click on the image above or go to: http://ssje.org/ssje/2010/03/09/grace-the-verb-br-mark-brown/

Psalm 32:5: Admission


Friday, October 16, 2020

light-under-door-300x225[1]Psalm 32:5

Admission

At last I admitted to you that I had sinned; no longer concealed my guilt, I said, “I will go to Yahweh and confess my fault.  And you, you have forgiven the wrong I did, have pardoned my sin.

When we are in the wrong we sense that a huge ogre stands outside our door if we even begin to admit that we have erred. And when we finally open the door of the soul to enter into an honest conversation with God we find that the imagined ogre is less than an inch in height. We have been held hostage by our own imaginings that festered in the dark silence of our troubled hearts.

heart-of-god[1]God says: Do you see why I have been calling at your closed door for so long into the night? I want to bring you out of the corner in which you have been crouching. Your sins are never too great for me to forgive. Your transgressions are always smaller than the love with which I heal. Do you know that the conversation I am waiting to have with you will bring you more joy than pain? Do you remember that my prophet Jeremiah has told you that I have plans for you, plans for your joy and not woe? Do you recall that my prophet Isaiah predicted that I would walk among you as the light? Do you not hear my voice on the other side of that closed door – the voice that encourages you? Do you not feel the love I send to you through the closed thickness that separates us? Open the door. Answer my call. And allow me to fold you in to the immense love of my sacred heart.

We say that we seek God when all the while God is seeking us. We say that we look for serenity when all the while God offers us peace. We say that we have nothing to confess when all the while our troubled thoughts weigh heavily on our hearts and minds and souls. And all the while . . . God awaits our simple admission with a healing touch and a generous heart.

Enter the words sacred heart, forgiveness, or God’s love into the blog search bar and explore the many ways God persists in calling us to union.


Images from: http://thepostmodernpastor.com/2011/03/10/40-days-the-heart-of-god-rev-elaine-burleigh/ and http://www.37days.com/2012/04/poets-love-the-intangible.html/light-under-door


Thursday, October 15, 2020

shhhh[1]Psalms 32:3-4

Keeping Silence

All the time I kept silent, my bones were wasting away with groans, day in, day out; day and night your hand lay heavy upon me; my heart grew parched as stubble in summer drought.

We do not give voice to our worries for fear of appearing weak or because we anticipate rejection. We harbor our words out of a need to control through passivity. We refrain from speaking because we are proud, or frightened or lost; and yet holding all this negative silence drains our energy, saps our strength and weighs us down. The springs that nourish us dry up and our bones begin to waste away. In our resistance to openness we guarantee that the unholy fist of brooding silence will maintain a firm grip upon our souls.

God says: I see that you are afraid and so you retreat – yet withdrawal takes you further from me and my healing hands. I understand that you do not want to hear what others have to say when you speak – yet by holding your words you give permission for others to decide what you are thinking. I know that you are confused and that you look for release from the troubled place in which you find yourself – yet your hiding only adds to your pain. Corrupt arrogance, false stoicism, prideful deceit, distrust and dishonesty: is this the world you want to inhabit forever? Forgiveness, compassion, peace, unity and honesty: is this the eternity you wish to spend with me?

There are times when silence is holy and there are times when silence stifles the soul. The psalmist calls us to a candid remission of our faults and a conversation with God. God’s covenant promises a guiding Spirit and a merciful embrace. Jesus show us mercy and justice. When we remain silent about all that troubles us we invite dark thoughts and we see only hopelessness on the horizon. God invites us to much more than this. God invites us to a remission of all that troubles us. Let us give voice to our fears and worries.

To reflect on the positive and negative ways that silence can act in our lives, enter the words silent or silence into the blog search bar and explore.


Image from: http://www.incasa.org/2011/11/14/the-culture-of-silence/

Psalm 32:1-2: Remission


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

you are forgivenPsalm 32:1-2

Remission

Happy the one whose fault is forgiven, whose sin is blotted out; happy the one whom Yahweh accuses of no guilt, whose spirit is incapable of deceit!

Each of us knows that we are imperfect. Each day we struggle with the temptation to react in anger, to share gossip, to judge, to allow envy to take us over. And yet we also hope to stand blameless before the creator. The miracle of God’s goodness and greatness brings us this opportunity for redemption, this offer of remission.

God says: I do not want you to hide from me because you know you have been unpleasant, unhelpful or even angry with others. I do not want you to believe that the obstacles you see between you and me are insurmountable. Rather, I want you to bring your fears, your worries and your imperfections to  me. Together we will lift them. I promise to take on the heaviest of loads. There is no wrong you can describe to me that will make me shudder. My patience and forgiveness are bottomless; my love and hope are limitless; my yearning to have you close to me is unbearable. Come to me so that we can lay aside all that bothers and frightens you. 

God knows us too well to expect that we will never err. God loves too well to leave us by the wayside.

Christ loves us so well that he removes all guilt with a healing look. Christ seeks us so fervently that all blemish and all imperfection fall away with a healing touch.

No threat of guile or deceit is too much for the Spirit to transform. No rumor of sin is so enduring that the Spirit will not outlast it.

Let us put aside our fear and go to God that we might receive the gift of remission.

Tomorrow, the effects of remaining silent.


Image from: https://holycrossrumson.typepad.com/pastor/2018/08/forgive-us-our-trespasses-as-we-forgive-those.html


Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Psams_8_3_4[1]Psalm 8:3-5

When We Consider

When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have ordained; what is man that you take thought of us, and the son of man that you care for him?  Yet you have made him a little lower than God, and you crown him with glory and majesty!

We spend far too much time comparing ourselves with others rather than measuring ourselves against our own potential. We pass too many hours lamenting what might have been or what we wish might be instead of giving thanks for all that we are. We lament loss as a deficit rather than leaning into the grief and growing through the suffering.  We struggle to be like gods without realizing that . . . we are already members of Christ’s Mystical Body.

God says: Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if I so clothe the grass in the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, how much more will I clothe you? Oh, you of little faith! And do not seek what you will eat and what you will drink, and do not keep worrying. For all these things the nations of the world eagerly seek; but your Father knows that you need these things. But seek my kingdom, and these things will be added to you. Do not be afraid, little flock, for I have chosen gladly to give you the kingdom. (Luke12:27-32)

Jesus enters the world as an infant in an obscure place of unremarked parents and yet Jesus is the one who supersedes all powers and principalities. With this inversion we cannot help but see that although our lives are brief in the scope of God’s time, we are precious and vital to God’s plan.

When we consider the gift of Jesus’ suffering and love . . . how can we not return so great a gift?


For a visual meditation of Psalm 8, click on the image above and look for the YouTube link, or go to: Psalm 8, A  visual meditation
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=erTSh-vhuxA


Monday, October 12, 2020barbed wire -love your enemiesPsalm 35

Without Cause

Without cause they set their snare for me; without cause they dug a pit for me.

At one time or another each of us will have suffered injustice at the hands of others.

Malicious witnesses come forward, accuse me of things I do not know.

At one time or another each of us will have been the victim of a pack mentality.

They slandered me without ceasing; without respect they mocked me, gnashed their teeth against me.

At one time or another each of us will have been the fodder for gossip.

They pay me evil for good and I am all alone.

At one time or another each of us will have been the innocent led to slaughter.

When I stumbled they gathered with glee, they gathered against me like strangers.

And each of those times we will not be alone for God always accompanies the innocent.

Let those who favor mu just cause shout for joy and be glad.

And each of those times we will not be alone for God always accompanies the blameless.

Awake, be vigilant in my defense, in my cause, my God and my Lord.

And each of those times we will not be alone for God always accompanies the broken-hearted.

Then I will thank you in the great assembly; I will praise you before the mighty throng.

And each of those times we will not be alone for God always accompanies the marginalized.

My tongue shall recount your justice, declare your praise, all the day long.

Amen.

God calls us to love the unlovely.  Rather than seek revenge . . . let us love our enemies into goodness . . . even when we suffer without cause.


For more about loving the unlovely, click on the image above or go to: http://psalmslife.com/2012/08/27/loving-the-unlovely-psalm-3514-16/

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