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Posts Tagged ‘celebration’


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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Saturday, May 16, 2020 – Acts 1:6-26: The Assembly

As we refrain from gathering to ward off the virus that drives us apart,

we return to a post written when we were free to assemble. 

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 shelter during pandemic, how do we assemble and gather, and what are the choices we make?

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.

Tomorrow, the celebration of deliverance . . .


Image from: http://lifeincolour.com/?p=629

Adapted from a reflection first written on November 20, 2009.

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Acts 14Tenacity

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Iconium, Lystra, Antioch.  Jews, Gentiles.  Healings, beatings, curses, cures.  Zeus, Hermes, the Living God.  Hardships, celebrations.  Mythology, mysticism, illusion, reality.  In all of these places, with all of these people, in all of these philosophies and approaches, Paul and Barnabas journey together to deliver the good news that we are loved by the Living God.  I am exhausted just reading about their missionary journey as we watch these two faithful disciples of Christ persuade and teach, heal and call.  Despite the fact that they see much of their work undone, they continue to rejoice in the work they do as God’s servants asks of them.  They are an amazing – and successful – pair.  They bring many into the church.

Paul and Barnabas have much to teach us who are discouraged when small details of the day become looming obstacles.  They might show us that when we growl and complain about interrupted plans and schedules that we add to our own burden.  We see that they do not fall into the trap of thinking that the world is an unjust, corrupt and unfair place.  Rather than focus on the problems they navigate, they remain centered on doing God’s will.  These two friends have discovered that tenacity and companionship are antidotes for anger and dejection.  And they have learned that success comes most often and stays longest when they defer to God’s plan rather than their own.

Paul is a familiar figure to us but perhaps we can learn something more about Barnabas as he and Paul model how to best react when we see others dismantle the work we have lovingly delivered to God.  http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02300a.htm

Misunderstood by many, these two place their faith in God.  Rejected by the tradition in which they had been raised, they place their hope in Christ.  Quickly forgotten by the fledgling churches they have founded, they allow the forgiveness and healing of the Spirit to work through them.  Barnabas and Paul refuse to allow any failure to deter them.  They follow Christ . . . and they hold on.

And so we pray . . .

Faithful and abiding God,

We remember that you were the cornerstone that the builders rejected.

We believe that you walk with us in our journey just as you walked with the apostles in theirs.

We ask that you abide with us when the night grows darkest.

We know that you rejoice with us as we celebrate our little successes.

Lead us so that we remain faithful to you.

Guide us so that we remain hopeful in you.

Help us so that we react in love and not in anger when we see our work taken apart by others.

Grant us the gift of tenacity that you gave to Paul and Barnabas, on the days when we find our journey long, and our resources low. 

We ask all of this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.   


A re-post from September 20, 2011.

Image from: http://100reasonswhyilovemylord.blogspot.com/2011/05/reason-8-he-walks-with-me.html 

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Ezra 6: 19-23: Marvels – Part V

Monday, November 14, 2016

Dedication of the Temple

Dedication of the Temple

God had changed the mind of the king of Assyria to the Israelites in rebuilding The Temple of God, the God of Israel.

God says: My faithful celebrated when the Emperor of Syria released them from bondage, for they saw my hand in that marvel. My faithful returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the Temple where they and I communed. Today I invite you to open hour own heart to me so that I might build my New Temple within.

Then the Israelites who had returned from exile, along with everyone who had removed themselves from the abuses of the nations to join them and seek God, the God of Israel, ate the Passover. With great joy they celebrated.

neither-is-new-wine-putGod says: My faithful returned from exile to celebrate with me in great joy for the marvel of their return. They believed that I lived only in their Temple but I have come to walk among you to reveal greater marvels than you even imagined. I come as one of you to live with you, to eat and drink with you, to pray and play with you. I have come to write a New Covenant with you and to write in on your heart. 

With joy they celebrated . . .

newcovenantGod says: I know that there are many days and many nights when my marvels and miracles fade from your memory but despite this dwindling, I urge you to remain in me. For I will always remain in you. Exchange your old wine skins for new ones so that I might live in you forever. 

With joy they celebrated the marvels their God had done for them.

For more on Darius, the King of Assyria, click on the Temple image above, or visit: http://bibleencyclopedia.com/pictures/Ezra_6_Dedication_of_the_temple.htm

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Ezra 6: 19-23: Marvels – Part III

Saturday, November 12, 2016

James Tissot: The return of the Prisoners

James Tissot: The Return of the Prisoners

We consider the marvels God has done for the faithful in ancient days, and we consider the response of the faithful.

The people who had returned from exile celebrated.

We recall the marvels God has done for our own ancestors, and we recall their celebration of God’s fidelity.

With great joy they celebrated.

We remember the presence of God in our lives, the miracles God has wrought in us, and we remember our celebration of God’s presence in our own days and nights.

For seven days they joyfully celebrated.

We hope for the presence of God in the lives of our children and grandchildren, and we hope that our children celebrate in joy for this presence.

The Lord had made them joyful.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow we rejoice in our return from exile as did the people of old.

James Tissot: The Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod

James Tissot: The Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod

They were full of joy.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow we rejoice in our return from exile as did our ancestors.

And they kept the feast.

Yesterday, today and tomorrow we rejoice when we pass on this tradition of joy as we also keep the feast.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare translations of these verses, we find that we have great cause to rejoice.

For more on Herod’s reconstruction work, click on the image of the rebuilt temple, or visit: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/second-temple/ 

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Mark 3:20-35Jesus and his Family

Tissot: Jesus Teaching in the Temple

Tissot: Jesus Teaching in the Temple

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

He came home.  Again the crowd gathered, making it impossible for them even to eat. 

As I was growing up and moving into womanhood, my oldest brother – twelve years my senior – would come home from college, visit us when he had military leave, and then brought his family to visit from places across oceans.  When he did, the clan would gather to celebrate.  My sisters – both older than I but younger than this brother – came home often, and they brought their families from places nearby.  They believed that the celebrations for my brother were more enthusiastic than those for their own families.  Perhaps they were.  I do not remember seeing the difference.  My younger brother and I watched this curious mixture of disappointment and love, feeling that push and pull of family dynamics and understanding that this was how family functioned. A dichotomy of conflict and acceptance, worry and love. I suspect that each of us has similar family experiences.

In today’s Noontime we see Jesus return home from a pilgrimage of healing and transforming others, and so many gathered that it was impossible for them even to eat.  Jesus’ family, worried that he will come under scrutiny by the officials, declares that he is out of his mind.  The scribes, worried about losing influence with the people, decide that Jesus is possessed by the devil.  This is a confusing, jumbled juxtaposition of celebration and dangerous plotting.

Life is never a simple picture.  Reality is always a combination of highs and lows, positives and negatives, sorrows and joys.  Today’s Noontime, much like my own family memories, presents us with a picture of sadness mixed with delight, celebration with worry.  And this is as it should be.  For this is how families are.  And this family of Jesus that we read about today is very much like our own families.

All of this makes sense when we watch Jesus return home and we consider that he is, after all, our brother.

Adapted from a reflection written on August 31, 2010.

Tomorrow, Jesus of Nazareth.

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Zechariah 14: Apocalypse – Part V

The Sistine Chapel, The Vatican: Michelangelo's Prophet Zechariah

The Sistine Chapel, The Vatican: Michelangelo’s Prophet Zechariah

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The fight for Jerusalem that Zechariah predicts is already begun . . . and we are celebrants in the newness of what is coming into being.  Let us gather ourselves to face the disasters that life brings to us, for it is in these disasters that we find this new life. Let us find our places in God’s new city, for it is in this new place that we find new meaning. And let us rejoice and be glad for we know what to do when cataclysm strikes; it is in this cataclysm that we discover the refuge that is the house of the Lord of hosts.

Past, present, future. Let us step forward into the newness of our transformation. Past, present and future. Let us step away from our childish predictions of a future that is too simple. Past, present and future. Let us rest in the moment when we fully experience the three-person God who is more real and more certain than any savior we might conjure up on our own. Let us rest in the present to celebrate the God who always was, always is and always will be the peace and hope and joy of the world.

Enter the word restoration into the blog search bar and explore the idea of cataclysm bringing joy into our lives. 

Tomorrow, the feast of Corpus Christi.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 425. Print.   

Adapted from a reflection written on Friday, July 10, 2009.

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Zechariah 14: Apocalypse – Part IVcorpuschristi

Friday, June 5, 2015

Return from exile is celebrated but the celebration is taking place amid the ruin of former glory because our newness is more important than what was. In our child-like, dual minds we see the world as negative and positive, off or on, with or against, good or evil, black or white, up or down. When we give ourselves over to our Triune God we begin to understand that these opposites exist side by side and even intertwined. We also begin to see that God’s plan, God’s promise and God’s love are capable of turning any harm – natural or human-made – into a force for beauty and goodness. This is the promise of the Easter resurrection, and it is the miracle of Pentecost indwelling.

We are nearing the Feast of Corpus Christi when we celebrate this gift of Jesus’ presence in gift of Eucharist. I will feed my people with finest wheat and fill them with honey from the rock (Psalm 81:16) We are one with Christ in the gift of bread and wine. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believe this has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (John 6:47-50)

We have been transformed and made anew, and this miracle of redemption that Zechariah describes already exists today in that each of us is the libation bowl poured out for Christ.  We are each a vessel fashioned by God’s hands and brought into existence for God’s purpose.  We each are the hope of the Spirit to the world.

Past present, future. Let us remember the holy trinity of our lives: all that God has created and gifted, all that is here with us in the Spirit, and all that is promised by Christ in our lives to come. Then, when apocalypse befalls us, let us offer all that we have and all that we are to the triune God: courageous creator, compassionate savior and blessed comforter.

To read about how different cultures celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, click on the image above or visit: http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/common/corpus-christi

Tomorrow, transformation.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 425. Print.   

Adapted from a reflection written on Friday, July 10, 2009.

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Matthew 5:5: The MeekPsalm-37-11

Second Sunday of Easter, April 12, 2015

On this second Sunday of Easter we continue our reflection on the Beatitudes as we re-focus our attention on God’s priorities rather than our own.

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the land. (Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount)

Perhaps patience is the quality we most need if we are to be humble servants. Patience in our understanding that we are not in charge. Patience in our knowing that it is God’s wisdom and grace that answers our deepest questions. Patience in allowing God’s fidelity and mercy to invade all that we do. Patience in both giving and accepting God’s healing love. Psalm 27 reminds us what we gain when we are able to wait. These verses bring into focus what it is we inherit, and why the land in which the Spirit dwells is worth our offering of meekness.

Though a host encamp against me, my heart will not fear . . .

On this Easter Monday we celebrate God’s strength . . .

Though war arise against me, I shall be confident . . .

We celebrate God’s hope . . .

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living . . .

We celebrate God’s gift of eternal life and love . . .  

Wait for the Lord; be strong and let your heart take courage . . .

We celebrate God’s gift of promise . . .

Yes, wait for the Lord . . .

We celebrate God’s gift of persistence.

2012042151empty_tombWhen our quiet strength rises from God we have no need to boast or strut. When our simple humility follows the example of Christ we have no need to exclude or divide. When our genuine meekness grows in the Spirit of God we have no need to hate or avenge. Let us wait on the Lord, let us give thanks for God’s presence, and let us celebrate the patience we inherit that offers us the gift of God’s meekness.

Using the scripture links, explore different versions of these verses and give thanks for our inheritance of meekness.

Tomorrow, the merciful. 

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