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Posts Tagged ‘1 Corinthians’


2 Maccabees 5:10: Holy Place and Holy People

Friday, April 12, 2019

Image from “Places of the Spirit” published by Lake Placid Institute

But the Lord did not choose the nation for the sake of the holy place, but the place for the sake of the nation.

So many times we get things backwards.  We forget that we become weak in order to be made strong, that we serve in order to lead, and that we die that we may live in Christ.  We have looked at the books of Maccabees many times before and just last spring we spent time with this chapter reflecting on the stark difference between mystery and problem, impatience and trust, pride and humility, anxiety versus openness to God’s awesome power, sedition versus fidelity.  Here is some of what we were thinking.

We need to relax into the mystery of life more.  We need to adapt a humble stance with our Creator and a willingness of heart to do as we are bidden.  We need to immerse ourselves in God who is always with us . . . rather than trying to swim upstream or downstream with him.  We need to move away from sedition, death and the slandering and killing of fellow pilgrims.  We need to move toward the light, toward the mystery . . . and allow it to embrace us.

We can view the mysterious way that God moves in our lives with awe or with skepticism.  We can choose to believe or to disbelieve that Christ overcomes the barrier that death presents to the rest of us.  We can choose to be faithful to our covenant agreement and call, or we can strike out on our own to find another God to worship . . . or we can even choose to worship ourselves and our own ideas.  But none of this will satisfy because we will be making holy places where there is no holiness.  We will be creating holy communions where there are none with whom to commune, for nothing can be made holy without God’s presence.

In 1 Corinthians Paul tells us several times in the opening chapters do you not know that you are living temples of God, members of the body of the living Christ?  He echoes this on his other letters when he asks us to step away from immorality, from idolatry and to turn to the one true source of life: God the creator, God the redeemer, and God the love that exists in an inscrutable way deep within the mystery of each of us.

Mount Agung, Bali

This is all that we are asked to do . . . yet we so often make life much more complicated than it really is.  We are a holy people who come together when God calls us and thus we make holy places in which the Spirit will abide.  And in so doing we will rise even amidst the worst of circumstances, even above the pillaging of the temple . . .  to be sheltered in God, to live eternally in the Spirit, to be renewed in hope and forged in fidelity . . . to remain of and in Christ.  For we are his holy people . . . and he is our holy place.


A re-post from February 26, 2012. 

Image from: http://www.hcc.commnet.edu/artmuseum/exhibits/2004/izzy-places/index.html 

To see and read about the top ten sacred mountains, go to National Geographic’s Ten Sacred Mountains page, click on the image above, or go to: http://traveler.nationalgeographic.com/books-excerpts/ten-sacred-mountains-text

You may also be interested in Sacred Places of a Lifetime at: http://shop.nationalgeographic.com/coupon.jsp?code=MR35082&URL=%2Fjump.jsp%3FitemID%3D4464%26itemType%3DPRODUCT or Places of the Spirit at: http://www.hcc.commnet.edu/artmuseum/exhibits/2004/izzy-places/book.html

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2 Maccabees 5:10The Holy Place and the Holy People

Friday, November 23, 2018

But the Lord did not choose the nation for the sake of the holy place, but the place for the sake of the nation.

So many times we get things backwards.  We forget that we become weak in order to be made strong, that we serve in order to lead, and that we die that we may live in Christ.  We have looked at the books of Maccabees many times before and just last spring we spent time with this chapter reflecting on the stark difference between mystery and problem, impatience and trust, pride and humility, anxiety versus openness to God’s awesome power, sedition versus fidelity.  Here is some of what we were thinking.

We need to relax into the mystery of life more.  We need to adapt a humble stance with our Creator and a willingness of heart to do as we are bidden.  We need to immerse ourselves in God who is always with us . . . rather than trying to swim upstream or downstream with him.  We need to move away from sedition, death and the slandering and killing of fellow pilgrims.  We need to move toward the light, toward the mystery . . . and allow it to embrace us.

We can view the mysterious way that God moves in our lives with awe or with skepticism.  We can choose to believe or to disbelieve that Christ overcomes the barrier that death presents to the rest of us.  We can choose to be faithful to our covenant agreement and call, or we can strike out on our own to find another God to worship . . . or we can even choose to worship ourselves and our own ideas.  But none of this will satisfy because we will be making holy places where there is no holiness.  We will be creating holy communions where there are none with whom to commune, for nothing can be made holy without God’s presence.

In 1 Corinthians Paul tells us several times in the opening chapters do you not know that you are living temples of God, members of the body of the living Christ?  He echoes this on his other letters when he asks us to step away from immorality, from idolatry and to turn to the one true source of life: God the creator, God the redeemer, and God the love that exists in an inscrutable way deep within the mystery of each of us.

This is all that we are asked to do . . . yet we so often make life much more complicated than it really is.  We are a holy people who come together when God calls us and thus we make holy places in which the Spirit will abide.  And in so doing we will rise even amidst the worst of circumstances, even above the pillaging of the temple . . .  to be sheltered in God, to live eternally in the Spirit, to be renewed in hope and forged in fidelity . . . to remain of and in Christ.  For we are his holy people . . . and he is our holy place.


A re-post from October 21, 2011.

Images from: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/The_Temple.html , http://www.urbanchristiannews.com, and http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/The_Temple.html

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1 Kings 9:1-9: Promise and Warning – Part II

Friday, November 3, 2017

Written on October 24, 2009

In our parish scripture group, we are studying 1 Corinthians.  Through prayer, conversation and reflection we discover that Paul cautions the people of Corinth just as God cautions each of us, just as Yahweh cautions Solomon.  In chapter 10 of this letter, Paul outlines several ways in which we begin to stray from God: falling into the worship of things that are not of God, living an immoral life, testing Christ, grumbling about the leadership God sends to us, thinking that we can stand on our own.  All of these temptations, writes Paul, have the same antidote: the intervention of God with his offer to unite with him in the person of Christ in the Holy Spirit.  When we offer our sufferings to God in Christ’s name we become libations poured out as Christ’s blood.  When we allow ourselves to be broken in the Spirit we become sustenance for others as they also struggle to come together in Christ.  Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf.  Just as the Corinthians are offered a warning and a promise, so too is Solomon, and so too are we . . . the choice to reject or share the gift of eternal life . . . the choice of discipleship.

As we read the story of Solomon we see how he missteps: He does not realize that although something may be permissible it may not be for one’s good.  Solomon marries foreign wives in order to enter into peace pacts with surrounding nations.  These unions later pull down his kingdom because they bring with them relationships with earthly gods rather than union with the one true God.  These relationships bring about a temporary peace but in the end they are celebrations of all that holds us apart rather than of that which brings us together.  As Paul writes everything is lawful but not everything is beneficial . . . not everything builds up.  For this is how we can see if the spirit is with our actions, it will bear fruit which Paul defines clearly.  When he writes to the Galatians he cautions against immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, outbursts of fury, acts of selfishness, dissensions, factions, occasions of envy, drinking bouts and orgies.  He reminds them and us that the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  Against such there is no law.  (Galatians 5:19-24)

What Solomon fails to see is the warning we are all given – that life outside of the Spirit cannot bring the Promise of God.  No amount of cleverness, no amount of stubbornness, no effort – whether human or demonic – can withstand the steadfastness, the tranquility, the permanence and the surety of God’s promise.  When we invest ourselves we will want to heed God’s warning and place all that we have and all that we are in the promise of God’s constant presence and love.  Let us trust and hope in Christ Jesus.

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Thursday, May 16, 2013 – Acts 1:6-26 – The Assembly

paper-church[1]I have just walked in to my classroom after having spent the morning with my grandson at his school for Grandparents and Special Friends Day and I see these words written on the whiteboard which were not there yesterday afternoon when I left:

I

small_red_heart[1]Liturgy

I do not know what moved this student to write these two words and this symbol in my room . . . but I can safely believe that the Holy Spirit moves among us today in a special way.  When we strive for discipleship we must make room for the Holy Spirit. When we experience discipleship we will want to gather in assembly.  When we rest in discipleship . . . we also celebrate.

Today’s Noontime is about a special time when the early Christian church we know today was beginning to form.  Yesterday evening we finished our study of 1 Corinthians in which Paul addresses the confusing issues of his day which are many of the same ones that confound us today: immorality, worship of things other than God, lack of love among church members, and full participation in pagan society to the detriment of full participation in the Christian community.  Paul reminds us that how and what we commemorate say more about us than what we wear or where we work and live.  When we celebrate personal happiness and self-fulfillment we miss the bigger offer – membership in a universal, eternal body, the body of Christ.

In today’s reading we see Jesus take leave of his followers, promising to send his holy emissary to accompany them until his return.  They return to Jerusalem – the holiest city they know – and they go to the Upper Room – the last place they celebrated before Jesus’ crucifixion.  They gather, and they turn to God and to one another to commemorate in thanksgiving the gift of new life they now understand.  They pray, and they make plans for the future as they imagine it to be.

When we assemble for any occasion, we might take a look at who and what surround us.  The physical places we go to celebrate as well as the people with whom we mingle indicate the spiritual choices we make.  When we feel happiest, where do we want to go to share the Good News?  When we feel alone, on whose shoulder do we want to lean?  When we have something to praise and give thanks for, how do we want to remember it?

When we assemble, we will want to give thanks, to pray, and to remember who has saved us.  And we will want to remember to celebrate.

Adapted from a reflection written on November 20, 2009.

Tomorrow, the celebration of deliverance . . .

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Thursday, May 24, 2012 – Matthew 11:25-30 – Gentleness

Come to me, all you who labor and are weary . . .

We can use these words of encouragement as we approach at any number of times in our lives for we are frequently wearied by life’s turmoil.  We have seen the Easter story play out and we have full knowledge of the death and resurrection of Jesus.  We also know that Christ’s story is also our story.  We know that the dead rise, the weary rejoice, and the impossible becomes possible; yet despite this knowing we need support in order to move forward.  We dread the suffering we know is part of our existence . . . and we anticipate eagerly the happiness in store for us.  The Eastertide always presents us with both the terrible and wonderful as we remember Christ’s pain and joy.

In the paradox which is Christ, we see strength come from his gentleness, compassion from his understanding, empathy from his justice, love from his constancy.  In turn, we draw upon his storehouse of strength and wisdom. 

When we continue to grapple with the obstacles in our lives, Jesus calls us to him to ask us if we want to be healed.  We have the choice to go to him or remain stuck in our illness.

When we are so burdened that we struggle to lift our eyes to look to the light, Jesus is there in his gentle understanding.  We have the choice to enter into a conversation with him or not.

When we are lost in the fog of turnings and wanderings that characterize our lives, Jesus offers to cure and heal.  We have the choice to continue to mourn our losses or to rejoice in our gains.

In today’s reading, gentleness has become the weapon against unchecked power; and the child-like are rewarded, for to them does God reveal himself.  Those who are “no account”, who are marginalized and who suffer know God far more intimately than do those who live in comfort and ease.  The invitation God extends through his son to the weary and to the burden-laden is an open invitation to all, but especially to those who are broken in body, spirit and heart.

Today’s message is an invitation and it is written out to us in the name of Gentleness.  Love is meek rather than submissive, peace-seeking rather than manipulative, kind rather than self-serving.  Love is gentle, just as St Paul reminds us 1 Corinthians. 

When we reach the limit of our resources yet look up to see that we have miles still to go, we might lean on the gentle Jesus . . . for his yoke is easy, and his burden is light.

For more thoughts on Gentleness and for a resource of encouraging verses, click on the image above or go to: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/bible-verses-about-gentleness-10-encouraging-scriptures/

First written on April 5, 2009.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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