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Posts Tagged ‘beauty’


Monday, May 18, 2020

Sandys: Judith

Frederick Sandys: Judith

Judith 16

Praise in Celebration

During the shelter-in-place practiced in much of the world during the Covid 19 pandemic, we know that domestic abuse, and abuse against women in particular, will rise sharply. Let us remember that although we “turn the other cheek” to offense, we never promote the idea that anyone remain with an abuser. Wherever we are, whenever we find violence in the home, we look for help for ourselves or others. A helpful resource and hotline in the U.S. can be found at https://www.thehotline.org/help/ 

Imagine the consternation that would stir in hard hearts if instead of subjugating women we celebrated them as this canticle does: The Lord Almighty thwarted them, by the hand of a female!

Imagine the change that might take place in the world if we allowed our love of God to shine from our eyes and go forth from our mouths: Judith, the daughter of Merari, by the beauty of her face brought him down.

Imagine the world as a place where we helped those who have few or no resources rather than took advantage of the vulnerable: When my lowly ones shouted, and my weak ones cried out the enemy was terrified, screamed and took to flight.

Imagine the impact our lives might make on the world if this could be sung about each of us when we have died: During the lifetime of Judith and for a long time after her death, no one ever again spread terror among the Israelites.

The Canticle of Judith holds dreadful, vengeful, Old Testament imagery that celebrates retaliation against our enemies.  It also reveals the coming of the New Testament when Christ tells us that a new Way has come to dwell in us.  We are to turn the other cheek and pray for those who brutalize others; we are to heal the wounded with soft words and gentle gestures; we must take risks with Christ and trust in the guidance of the Spirit; and we are called to witness to the coming of this newness. We are called to be one of the powerless, one of the vulnerable, one of the abused disciples of this New Way.  And we are called to witness and celebrate God’s gift of discipleship to us.

Judith 16 is a famous canticle of praise for the woman who dares to do God’s will against all advice, against all odds. Her tools are not power and influence that she has gleaned for herself; rather, they are her beauty and her fidelity to God, both gifts from her creator.

Let us pause today to thank God for all we are given.  Let us sing a canticle of praise, and let us imagine how the world would be if we all believed that we can do the impossible by following God’s voice . . . just as Judith does. And let us imagine the impact our lives might make on the world if this could be sung about each of us: During her lifetime, and for a long time after her death, no one ever again spread terror among the Israelites.

Tomorrow . . . a prayer in celebration . . . Pentecost . . .


Image from: http://preraphaelitepaintings.blogspot.com/2009/06/frederick-sandys-judith.html

A re-post from May 18, 2013.

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Ezekiel 28: The King of Tyre

Ruins of ancient Tyre

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The prophet Ezekiel speaks to the chosen people who live exiled in Babylon. He tells his people that they will not be returning to Jerusalem; and he also prepares them for the heartbreaking news that the Jerusalem they know will be fully and totally destroyed. Corruption has brought them to a dismal, painful place. The chase after power over others, world-wide fame, and wealth beyond imagining has distorted the collective vision.

Puffed up with pride, you claim to be a god. 

Ezekiel speaks to the broken-hearted and he also speaks to us when he condemns those who spoil God’s gift of creation and who bring the faithful to ruin.

Your wisdom and skill made you rich with treasures of gold and silver. You made clever business deals and kept on making profits. How proud you are of your wealth!

Ezekiel reminds us that the gift of our creation is wondrous, and that we are well-loved children of God who have in our hands more than we understand.

You were once an example of perfection. How wise and handsome you were! You lived in Eden, the garden of God, and wore gems of every kind: rubies and diamonds; topaz, beryl, carnelian, and jasper; sapphires, emeralds, and garnets. You had ornaments of gold. They were made for you on the day you were created. 

Britannica online: Main road through ancient Tyre, Lebanon

What are the gems we overlook each day? Who are the wise and handsome among us and where is this Eden? What have we done with the ornaments of gold we are gifted?

Your conduct was perfect from the day you were created until you began to do evil. You were busy buying and selling, and this led you to violence and sin. You were proud of being handsome, and your fame made you act like a fool. 

History tells us that Ezekiel’s people will eventually return to their promised city and they will rebuild the sacred Temple. It also tells us that this will all again be lost. Perhaps the most valuable lesson we can take away from these words is this . . . that just as the King of Tyre misjudges the source of his wealth, power and fame, so might we.  Unlike King Hiram, might we make the most of the riches we have at hand without worrying about increasing our wealth? Might we rely on God and praise God for turning harm into good? Might we give thanks for all we have and all we are to the one who loves us more than we imagine?


When we find the time to compare other translations with these words from The Good News version, we give ourselves the gift of understanding Hiram, Ezekiel, and the nature of beauty, fame, power and wealth. 

Hiram (or Huram, or Ahiram), The King of Tyre, lived from 969-936 B.C.E. He was an ally of Kings David and Solomon, and provided many of the materials needed to build the Temple in Jerusalem. Visit Britannica online at: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Hiram-king-of-Tyre

Tyre was a town on the Mediterranean coast with two harbors and so was able to gain predominance in the region. To read more about the city’s importance and history, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.biblearchaeology.org/post/2010/01/26/The-Biblical-Cities-Of-Tyre-And-Sidon.aspx or https://www.ancient.eu/Tyre/ 

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John 15:1-5: Branches

Thursday, June 14, 2018

We have examined scripture to reflect on the ways in which the beauty, wisdom, truth, and love in our identity in Christ exemplify our relationship with God in the Spirit. Jesus tells us who he is, reflecting Yahweh’s promise of “I Am Who I Am”. Today we continue to reflect on who we are, and on how we respond to God’s call for merciful justice in all of creation.

“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples”. (THE MESSAGE)

Rather than giving in to our fear that we might fall away from the Vine of Christ, we consider the beauty of union with all of creation.

Rather than seeking revenge for the injustices we suffer, we reflect on the wisdom of grafting ourselves to the healing truth of the abiding Spirit.

Rather than lamenting the evil that stalks societies, we contemplate the truth of pruning away all that separates us from the courage and patience of God.

Today we have the opportunity to produce fruit on the great vine of life. Today we rejoice in the gift of Christ’s vineyard. Today we come together in the Spirit of beauty, wisdom, truth, and love.

We pray Psalm 80and we consider God’s gifts of healing, restoration, and transformation while we repeat verses 8-10 as the antiphon, 

You brought a grapevine out of Egypt;
    you drove out other nations and planted it in their land.
You cleared a place for it to grow;
    its roots went deep, and it spread out over the whole land.
It covered the hills with its shade;
    its branches overshadowed the giant cedars.

 


To find more Vine and Branches posts on this blog, use these links.

The Vine and Branches: https://thenoontimes.com/2018/05/19/john-15-the-vine-and-branches/

Sawing Off Branches: https://thenoontimes.com/2017/01/30/mark-322-30-sawing-off-branches/

Roots and Branches: https://thenoontimes.com/2015/02/07/roots-and-branches/

Grafting to the Vine: https://thenoontimes.com/2017/05/26/psalm-106-grafting-to-the-vine/

Enter the words, Vine or Branch into the blog search bar to explore other reflections.

When we compare other versions of these verses, we discover the beauty, wisdom, truth, and love of our relationship of Vine and Branches.

Image from: https://www.stpeterschurchchicago.org/cm/articles/vine-and-branches

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