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Posts Tagged ‘anxiety’


Psalm 18:22-23: Cornerstone – Part II

Thursday, March 2, 2017shall-become-the-cornerstone

When we fear that our world is too ugly, too violent, too deceitful and cruel, we must remember the inversion the ancients understood.

The stone which the builders rejected as worthless
    turned out to be the most important of all.

This was done by the Lord;
    what a wonderful sight it is! (GNT)

When we are defeated, turned away, rejected or abandoned, we must remember to rely on the Creator for sustaining the life we have been gifted.

The very rock that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone!

This has come from Adonai,
and in our eyes it is amazing. (CJB)

When we lose hope, feel lifeless, have no energy to struggle back from loss, we must remember to trust the Holy Spirit who heals, guides and abides.

Thank you for responding to me;
    you’ve truly become my salvation!
The stone the masons discarded as flawed
    is now the capstone!
This is God’s work. (MSG)

When frustration overcomes us, anxiety freezes us, or fear seizes us when we see cataclysm looming, we must remember to call on God, the Creator of all.

When we reflect on Psalm 118 we find a prayer for thanksgiving in victory; and we discover that our defeats are the cornerstones of new life. 

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Ezekiel 46Offerings

Saturday, February 4, 2017balt9f

I am struck by several things as I read this chapter in isolation from the rest of the text: in Ezekiel’s vision of the New Jerusalem, the faithful make offerings each morning, the princes are to provide for their sons from their own resources rather than the resources of the people, and the temple offerings are cooked in the temple kitchens to prevent the risk of transmitting holiness to the people

Commentaries give us important information that puts the writing of this priest-in-exile in context for us.  Ezekiel, as we can see by his calling the secular celebrant prince rather than king, is clear about the importance of cultic authority over the secular.  (Barton and Mulliman 562)  The downside of this is, of course, that priests – be they Levites, Zadokites or princes – serve as intermediaries for the people . . . keeping God’s holiness apart and reserved for the specially anointed.

We live in the Messianic Age, a time at which our high priest has come to walk among us as one of us.  This priest, Christ, has torn down the temple to rebuild it in three days.  He grants access to all who seek authentic intimacy with God.  He comes to break down the barriers between God and man . . . and to transmit holiness to the people. 

As we rise each morning, we – like the Levites, the Zadokites and the princes before us – run the risk of allowing the demands of everyday life to erode this intimacy with God.  As we attend to our needs and wants, we run the risk of entering into a mechanical relationship with God – one in which we fulfill a requirement but leave our hearts and minds elsewhere.  Meeting deadlines, replenishing resources, tending to a million little tasks each day are activities which are necessary but which must be kept in proper perspective.  For there is no joy that lasts but for the joy we know in loving God with body, mind and soul.

When we commit to praying at regular times each day, as we might if we pray the Liturgy of the Hours, we find that we have opportunities to offer both our anxieties and gifts of the previous day back to God. If we able to lay to rest all our worries and anxieties of that present day, we need not carry them into the next.  Children, grandchildren, friends, family, house chores, car chores, appointments, work . . . all of these we are better able to see as gifts from God, as this is what they truly are.  And all of our anxieties and worries about these gifts, we offer back along with our best attempts to do the best we are able in each circumstance.

Offerings . . . burnt sacrifices from our lives . . . these we offer to God each day.  Yet what our gracious and loving God truly desires is our clear and open hearts, hearts that are broken and dispirited and are ready to know true and lasting joy, hearts ready to take him in, ready to make a home for the Spirit.

Sacrifice and offering you do not want; but ears open to obedience you gave me.  Holocausts and sin offering you do not require; so I said: “Here I am”; your commands for me are written in the scroll.  Psalm 40:7-8.

Those who offer praise as a sacrifice honor me; to the obedient I will show the salvation of God.  Psalm 50:23.

For you do not desire sacrifice; a burnt offering you would not accept.  My sacrifice, God, is a broken spirit; God, do not spurn a broken, humbled heart.  Psalm 51:18-19.

For God remembers your every offering, graciously accepts your holocaust, grants what is in your heart, fulfills your every plan.  Psalm 20:5-5.  Amen.

Blessings on all today.    

Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 562. Print.

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 29, 2009.

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1 John 4:17-18: Do Not Fear – Part X

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre: The Adoration of the Shepherds

Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre: The Adoration of the Shepherds

John reminds us that the one sure antidote against fear is love.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. (NASB)

John tells us that the power of love overcomes the power of evil, always.

There is no fear in love; perfect love drives out all fear. So then, love has not been made perfect in anyone who is afraid, because fear has to do with punishment. (GNT)

John reminds us that all love that emanates from God has the power to heal and transform.

God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love. (MSG)

John tells us that as we grow in love and in Christ, we no longer are a harbor of fear.

Today, as we reflect on our fears, we might ask ourselves, “In this new year, how might we make ourselves ready to grow in love?”

Throughout Christmastide, we continue to reflect on the confidence God’s words bring to us, “There is no room in love for fear”.

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Jeremiah: Do Not Fear – Part IV

Michael Dudash: Birth of the King

Michael Dudash: Birth of the King

Christmas Thursday, December 29, 2016

The prophet Jeremiah reminds us that we need not be afraid even in the long and wearying times of violence and war.

“Do not be afraid of [the nations], for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:8)

“For behold, I will save you from afar and your offspring from the land of their captivity. And Jacob will return and will be quiet and at ease, and no one will make him afraid”. (Jeremiah 30:10)

“Do not be afraid of the king of Babylon, whom you are now fearing; do not be afraid of him,” declares the Lord, “for I am with you to save you and deliver you from his hand”. (Jeremiah 42:11)

“Now so that your heart does not grow faint, and you are not afraid at the report that will be heard in the land – for the report will come one year, and after that another report in another year, and violence will be in the land with ruler against ruler”. (Jeremiah 51:46)

Centuries after Jeremiah gives us these words, God continues to be our deliverer, our savior, and our ruler against the kings and powers that threaten our very existence. God tells us, through Jeremiah, that we cannot fear the atrocities we witness and we cannot cower in the face of annihilating forces that wipe out peoples and cultures for God continues to walk and live among us. The child Jesus is the new ruler who governs us for more than an earthly time of war. The child Jesus invites us into a new, inverted, eternal kingdom where the marginalized are the center of the universe.

Today we might ask, “Where do we put the fear that takes hold of us when we witness chaos and carnage? How do we calm our anxiety when we experience outrageous acts against nature and the peoples created by God? When we listen to the voice of Jeremiah, we find that our fears dwindle, and we remember that God’s promise is already with us leading, guiding, saving.

Throughout Christmastide, we continue to reflect on the many ways God says to us, “Do not fear. I am here with you always”.

 

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Luke 21:14-15: Remember

Wednesday, November 30, 2016getty_rm_photo_of_finger_with_string

Remember, you are not to prepare your defense beforehand, for I myself shall give you a wisdom in speaking that all your adversaries will be powerless to resist or refute. (NABRE)

This advice goes against the grain of modern society. Smartphones bring an Internet of knowledge to our fingertips; they also bring false reports and charlatans.

Make up your mind right now not to worry about it. I’ll give you the words and wisdom that will reduce all your accusers to stammers and stutters. (MSG)

Our egos want to depend on data provided by polls and surveys; and these data may lead to inaccurate conclusions and foolish decisions.

Make up your minds ahead of time not to worry about how you will defend yourselves, because I will give you such words and wisdom that none of your enemies will be able to refute or contradict what you say. (GNT)

Power and fame, accolades and wealth bring false confidence; and none of these protect us as does the wisdom of Jesus. None of these can save as does the Living God.

So make up your minds not to worry, rehearsing your defense beforehand; for I myself will give you an eloquence and a wisdom that no adversary will be able to resist or refute. (CJB)

Anxiety brings us false worry. Faith in the wisdom of the Spirit brings us hope. Anger affirms false power. Love brings us the eternal peace of Christ.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore varying translations of these verses, we find new reason to reason to remember the wisdom and promise of Christ.

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Luke 21:5-11: Watch Out

botticelli_sleeping_apostles_2_small

Botticelli: Sleeping Apostles

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Jesus said, “Watch out for the doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, ‘I’m the One,’ or, ‘The end is near.’ Don’t fall for any of that. When you hear of wars and uprisings, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history and no sign of the end.” (MSG)

When we weigh Jesus’ words with intention, we find that they speak to us today.

Jesus said, “Watch out; don’t be fooled. Many men, claiming to speak for me, will come and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time has come!’ But don’t follow them. Don’t be afraid when you hear of wars and revolutions; such things must happen first, but they do not mean that the end is near.” (GNT)

When we allow Jesus’ words to rest in us, we discover that they have specific meaning for us now.

 And Jesus said, “See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them. When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately.” (NASB)

When we look for answers in days of peril, we are always answered, never abandoned.

Jesus answered, “Watch out! Don’t be fooled! For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time has come!’ Don’t go after them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, don’t panic. For these things must happen first, but the end will not follow immediately.” (CJB)

What does Jesus advise in times of trial? We must witness, watch and wait. We must not be fooled or mislead. We must not worry; we must put aside anxiety. When one comes among us claiming to have all the answers, we must be careful. When one comes among us claiming that the end is near, we must reject fear. These are soft words for hard times. Clear instructions for days of confusion. Loving reminders that we are not alone, that we are cherished, that we are loved. All we need do is . . . witness, watch, and wait.

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we hear Jesus’ voice, we feel God’s presence, we are healed by the Spirit’s love.

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Luke 7:36-50: A Prayer for Throwing Stones

Sunday, July 31, 2016Defenseless under the night

When we read this familiar story with new eyes, we see Jesus once again teach the Pharisees about how to handle the anger they feel when they want to throw stones. His capacity to forgive amazed those who saw him at work and made the Pharisees uneasy.

The others sitting at the table began to say to themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”

Jesus continues in his compassionate Way, calling others to follow.

But Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

And so today we pray for ourselves and others in the moment when we want to throw stones in anger or fear.

Merciful and forgiving God, we need the strength of your faith to sustain us through our anxiety and alarm. Abide with us in the journey of Jesus’ Way.

Compassionate and guiding God, we need the joy of your hope to nourish us through our pain and suffering. Abide with us in the pilgrimage of our lives.

Healing and transforming God, we need the consolation of your love to carry us beyond all distrust and doubt. Abide with us in the mystery of your Spirit. 

We ask this in your name. Amen.

Eleanor Roosevelt in her youth

Eleanor Roosevelt in her youth

As we consider the fear that has a way of settling into our lives with or without our noticing, we might find this interview with historian and political scientist Matthew Dallek interesting. He is interviewed by guest host Derek McGinty on the July 26 edition of the Diane Rehm show. Dallek’s book Defenseless under the Night: The Roosevelt Years and the Origins of Homeland Security explores the evolution of the response to fear that we see in the U.S. public today. Listening to this interview may give us a new perspective on our desire to throw stones. Visit: https://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2016-07-26/matthew-dallek-defenseless-under-the-night

To learn more about Eleanor Roosevelt, visit: http://www.firstladies.org/biographies/firstladies.aspx?biography=33 or http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/biography/eleanor-biography/

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John 6:22-24: Seeking Jesus

Fifth Sunday of Easter, April 24, 2016ps_34_10

We must always be prepared for the surprise of God’s goodness when tragedy encircles us. We must always be open to God’s gift of healing when trauma haunts us. We must always be willing to accept God’s gift of mercy when anxiety overtakes us. We must always be seeking a more intimate relationship with God, for this is what God seeks in us.

Yesterday we reflected On John 6 with Henry Tanner’s painting The Disciples See Christ Walking on the Water. Today we reflect on the verses that follow that story, and we watch as those who seek Jesus use any available means to pursue the healing, prophetic presence of God among them. We explore the depth of our relationship with God, the breadth of our love for God, and the infinity of peace that comes with our seeking.

18cloudcult091010A Krista Tippet interview with Craig Minowa and the band Cloud Cult explores how we seek, what we seek, and how this seeking affects us. To listen to the podcast, visit the On Being site: http://www.onbeing.org/program/craig-minowa-music-and-the-ritual-of-performance/8584

For an NPR story on Minowa and Cloud Cult, visit: http://www.npr.org/2013/03/06/173518074/cloud-cults-love-channels-a-life-tested-by-loss

Tomorrow, Eucharist.

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Romans 16:17-20: Warning to Troublemakers

Thursday, February 4, 2016f8a252c28d8359617d691b379d2404e5

In this political season in the U.S., Paul’s words are worthy of our reflection time.

Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.

Paul’s letter to the Romans holds this little paragraph: a warning to the brethren who cause dissention and scandal contrary to the doctrine they have learned. Commentary suggests that Paul’s intent is to inoculate the growing community against the formation of factions that might lead to the fragmentation of the church.  In 1 Chronicles 28:20 David says to his son Solomon: Take charge! Take heart! Don’t be anxious or get discouraged. God, my God, is with you in this; God won’t walk off and leave you in the lurch. God’s at your side until every last detail is completed for conducting the worship of God. 

And how do we worship the Lord? When do we gather to give thanks to God?

We hear that we must go about our work without fear of any kind.

We understand that our kingdom work is more important than any other.

We demonstrate our belief that God is with us always when we put aside the fear-mongering and scandal-peddling of troublemakers.

TakeHeartHandsLogoJohn shares Jesus’ words with us: These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

When we set ourselves to doing God’s work, we have no reason for apprehension or anxiety.

In both the Old and New Testaments, we see God’s yardstick in our world. Paul, David and Jesus offer us a clear image and method of measuring God’s presence and love in our lives.

Adapted from a reflection written on April 27, 2008.

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