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Posts Tagged ‘chaos’


2 Samuel 8Bureaucracy

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Commentary will explain for us that what we read today will both settle and unsettle us.  After reading the accounts of combat, the writer brings us to a kind of resting place where he summarizes for us the results of recent warfare; we have the borders of David’s new nation defined.  We also see how David determines to administer his newly-forged kingdom, and with this description of personnel and policy we have a foreshadowing of what is to come.  An uneasy feeling may flicker through us when we realize that David – who has been so faithful to God – now allows himself to nibble at the edges of his authenticity.

From THE HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY, page 267: “Skirting the edges of Deuteronomic law (“nor is he to multiply greatly for himself silver and gold,” Deut. 17:17), the king dedicates gifts and booty of silver and gold to Yhwh [Yahweh] (8:11).  So “Yhwh gave David victory everywhere he went (v. 14) . . . For David’s sons to be priests is to flout the Mosaic law that draws the priesthood exclusively from the tribe of Levi . . . Many versions, like many commentators, have attempted to smooth the text by rewriting it”.  It seems that with David – just as we find in our own lives – with every gain of stability there will be a fluttering of worry.

Almost daily in our world of instant, mass communication we have word that more nepotism has been exposed.  Another leader falls to the noisy masses; one more plot of corrupt practices covered by officials is revealed.  There is nothing new in our modern headlines and today we see that bureaucracy breeds its own end.  Transparency may be the present watchword for leaders, but dishonesty appears to be the practice.  There is something about power that corrupts even the best of us.

In Jesus’ early church the structure was horizontal; it lacked a hierarchy of platoons and divisions; there was no ladder for priests to climb.  Jesus names Peter as the rock (Matthew 16:18) on which the church will be erected by those who accompany him . . . and by billions of kingdom-builders to come.  Christ does not lay out an elaborate bureaucracy of functionaries.  Instead, he charges each of us with our own participation function in his community according to our gifts.

In 2 Samuel 11 we hear of David’s sin with Bathsheba.  Can it be that we begin to see David wobble in chapter 8 once he establishes the kingdom of Israel, once he becomes comfortable?  Perhaps we can learn a lesson from today’s story, and perhaps it is this.  When we find ourselves on firm ground and feeling confident in a newly-formed strength, we will want to pause and reflect on the subtle snares that lie hidden in our success.  This is not to say that we ought not enjoy the satisfaction that comes from having achieved stability in our lives; but it is to say that once we humans conquer our enemies and our fears . . . we must remember who it is who makes all of this conquest and all of this steadiness possible.  And so we pray . . .

Good and patient God, Remind us that when we celebrate stability after chaos, we celebrate you.  Tell us often that when we find peace after struggle, that peace is you.  Guide us in the remembering that layers of power do not govern well but that a convoluted structure leaves many little places for little demons to hide.  We know that you want to erase fear from our lives.  We know that you want to bring us stability.  We know that you are present to us and in us directly.  We know how much you love us.  Keep us from creating labyrinths that separate us from one another and from you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the fellowship of the Holy Spirit who lives in each of us.  Amen. 


Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 267. Print.

Image from: http://www.visualsermons.co.uk/

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Acts 17: Uproar – Part II

Thursday, October 6, 2016order-chaos

A Favorite from September 28, 2009.

We do not want to stir or foment division.  As Christians and as those who live in the light we want to be able to say that we have added to the world’s serenity and not caused unhealthy competition; but when “serenity” is used to avoid doing and saying what needs doing and saying, this is not God’s uproar we initiate, it is the darkness.  We enter into God’s uproar when the marginalized are included, when bridges are built and wounds are healed.  Once we begin to look carefully at the tumult around us, we realize that there is a fine difference between chaos with its attendant prejudices and God’s uproar.  We see the former as the work of darkness; the latter as the work of the Holy Spirit.

When we become doers of the word and not hearers only, as St. James tells us in his letter, we also call people out of their comfort zones.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we ask questions about our own treasure trove, as Matthew and Peter suggest we do, we also ask others to think about the value of the wealth they have amassed.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we meet and overcome our own fears and do what others are afraid to do, we cause God’s uproar.

When we live in true charity with one another to pray for our enemies and when we refuse to conform to corruption, we cause God’s uproar.

When we insist on being open to possibilities without giving in to abuse, we cause God’s uproar.

When we tell of the marvels that God has wrought in our own lives, we cause God’s uproar.

Like Paul, when we enter a town and begin to tell the marvelous news that we do not have to retain the chains that imprison our bodies, minds and souls, we can expect pandemonium.  It is up to us to examine the din and the tumult to discover its origin, and if the upheaval is God’s we only need persevere and hold tightly to our hope.  Sometimes, like Paul, we will move on to the next town or to the next situation; but always – even through the devastation of earthquakes and the violence of storms – we will be accompanied by light . . . we will know that we have entered into God’s uproar . . . and that all will be well.

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Acts 17: Uproar – Part I

Wednesday, October 5, 201625-republican-convention-chaos-w750-h560-2x

A Favorite from September 28, 2009.

The Apostle Paul causes uproar wherever he goes in the name of Christ.  He ruffles feathers.  He points out inconsistencies.  He speaks convincingly and with authority as one who has been on both sides of the argument. He inspires faith, hope and charity in some, jealousy in others.  As with the story of David we understand that those who serve as God’s vessels will always be envied.  This knowledge can discourage us from continuing in God’s service . . . or it can call us to bond with God even more strongly.  The choice is always ours to make.

Yesterday’s Mass readings continue this same theme: Numbers 11:25-29, James 5:1-6, and Mark 9:38-48.  And there are these from yesterday’s Morning Prayer: Matthew 6:19-20 and 1 Peter 1:17-19.  They advise us that resentment will be a constant companion in this life and that we will want to learn to live without it here so as to not anticipate it in the next life.  Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth . . .  Store up treasures in heaven . . .

Each gesture and each word we enact in the world is our definitive representation of God.  When we speak, or fail to speak, when we act, or fail to act, we bring God into our homes, our work and prayer places and our communities.  What do our words and gestures say about who we are?

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Acts 17: Uproar – Part II

Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 8, 2016

E.O. WIlson

E.O. Wilson

Unhealthy competition brings about a kind of chaos in the sound; it becomes impossible to find inner peace and community serenity. How then, can we see God’s presence in the work of Paul, a former persecutor of Jesus’ followers? How then do we understand the kind of uproar that Jesus’ life and words so often engender?

Each time we stand up for the marginalized, we bring about God’s uproar. When bridges are built over chaos and disarray, when wounds are healed, when differences reconciled, we enter in God’s uproar.  Once we look carefully at the tumult around us, we begin to realize that there is a fine difference the chaos of darkness with its attendant prejudices, the transformation of God’s uproar.

When we become doers of the word and not hearers only, as St. James tells us in his letter, we call people out of their comfort zones.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we ask questions about our own treasure trove, as Matthew and Peter suggest we do, we also ask others to think about the value of the wealth they have amassed.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we meet and overcome our own fears and do what others are afraid to do, we cause God’s uproar.

When we live in true charity with one another to pray for our enemies, when we refuse to conform to corruption, we cause God’s uproar.

When we insist on being open to possibilities without giving in to abuse, we cause God’s uproar.

When we tell of the marvels that God has wrought in our own lives, when we insist on reminding ourselves and others of Christ’s good news, we cause God’s uproar.

wild-map-640Like Paul, when we enter a town and begin to tell the marvelous news that we do not have to retain the chains that imprison our bodies, minds and souls, we can expect pandemonium.  It is up to us to examine the din and the tumult to discover its origin, and if the upheaval is God’s we only need persevere and hold tightly to our hope.  Sometimes, like Paul, we will move on to the next town or to the next situation; but always – even through the devastation of earthquakes and the violence of storms – we will be accompanied by Christ’s light . . . we will know that we have entered into God’s uproar . . . and that all will be well.

Adapted from a favorite written in September 28, 2009.

Consider God’s uproar and read the NY Times review of  Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life by O.E. Wilson, biologist. Wilson is professor emeritus at Harvard and the winner of two Pulitzer prizes. Or consider the Audubon Society’s perspective at: https://www.audubon.org/magazine/september-october-2015/eo-wilson-wants-us-leave-half-earth

Visit the EO Wilson Foundation, click on the images above for more information, or watch a PBS episode on Wilson’s bold proposal at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/how-to-save-life-on-earth-according-to-e-o-wilson/ 

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Ask


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

ask-seek-and-knock[1]Matthew 7:7

Ask

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.

We are too easily convinced that God does not listen or that God is entirely absent; and yet we are constantly receiving God’s gift of life.  Our hearts beat, blood flows, we feel hunger, thirst, anger, joy, anxiety, peace.  God is continually present to us, and still me complain and worry.

God says: Because I created you, I understand that you become anxious when it appears as though the chaos of the world will swallow you.  I understand why you believe that your welfare is not important to me when you do not see me as present in the events that flood your senses.  But I am with you always, waiting for you to call upon me.  I dwell in your heart where your center lies.  I occupy your mind where your thoughts collide.  And I nourish your soul where your Spirit takes shape.  It is impossible for me to leave you.  I cannot leave your side. I wait for you to knock at the door of my own sacred heart.  Ask, seek, knock . . . begin with the first step.  I am here.  Ask.

We cannot allow either the enormity or the insignificance of our problems to discourage us from asking God for help.  When life crowds or confuses us, let us take the first step.  And let us ask . . .

Enter the words ask-seek-knock into the blog search bar and reflect on when, and how and why we ask . . . or do not ask God for help.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Psalm-69-14[1]Psalm 69:2-3

Great Distress

Save me, O God, for the waters have reached my neck.  I have sunk into the mire of the deep, where there is no foothold.  I have gone down to the watery depths; the flood overwhelms me.

Anyone who has stepped into murky waters at land’s edge will know the sensation of mud oozing between toes.  It does not take much imagination to conjure up the feeling of water rising slowly to envelope us.  Death by drowning overtakes the lungs, strangling any cry for help.

God says: The chaos and deception of the world have frightened you; but remember that I am always with you.  The dragging darkness threatens you; but keep in mind that I guide and protect you.  The feelings of loss and desperation weigh you down, robbing you of your natural buoyancy and positive outlook.  Turn to me when the world sweeps over you.  Rely on me when darkness becomes too heavy.  Trust me when you are at your last ounce of energy and hope.  When great distress paralyzes you and saps your very breath, allow me to breathe for you.  I have plumbed the breadth and depths of the ocean; I know the boggy reed beds where you have lost your way.  Lift your eyes and heart and hopes to me.  And I will pull you out of your great distress. 

We recognize that we too often rely on self rather than God.  Let us determine today that it will be God’s name we call upon when shadowy depths bring us great distress.

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