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Posts Tagged ‘comfort’


Numbers 5:22-27The Departure Blessing

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Written on February 27 and posted today as a favorite . . .

“The placement of this benediction seems unusual; it may be another item that prepares the people for the journey through the wilderness.  This is the blessing for the time of departure, and [said] daily throughout their journey.  Each line, with God as subject, is progressively longer (three, five, seven Hebrew words); besides the name YHWH, twelve Hebrew words signify the twelve tribes.  The benediction in some form was used in ancient Israel, especially at the conclusion of worship . . . Putting the name of God on the people may have been understood literally, given the inscription on two cigarette-sized silver plaques found near Jerusalem, dating from the seventh-sixth centuries BCE . . . One probably should not see a climatic arrangement in the clauses; so, for example, blessing would include peace. Perhaps the second verb in each case defines the first more specifically, but together the six verbs cove God’s benevolent activity from various angles and state God’s gracious will for the people.

“Blessing has a wide ranging meaning, touching every sphere of life.  It testifies most basically to the work of God the Creator, both within the community of faith and without.  No conditions are attached.  It signifies any divine gift that serves the life, health, and well-being of individuals and communities.  Keeping is a specific blessing to those with concerns for safety, focusing on God’s protection from all forms of evil (Ps. 121:7-8), pertinent for wilderness wandering”.  (Barton, and Muddiman 116)

We are all wandering through the wilderness, departing each morning for the many destinations of the day, and returning to home each evening to rest before the cycle begins anew.  Each of the days is a testimony to the trust we place in God, the hope we place in Christ, and the comfort we take from the Spirit.  We maneuver our daily obstacles – some small and some gigantic – hoping for sustenance and safety, keeping faith that it is God who guides us rather than some self-serving whim, and witnessing to the message of liberation by loving our enemies into goodness.  I am thinking that I will print this small prayer and put it on the back of my front door above the handle I touch each day to exit.  I need these words as I step into the wilderness each day; I want to put the name of God on my children and their children as they also step into the wilderness.  I also want these words to bless and transform those who do me harm as I pray for the softening of their hearts and the unbending of their stiff necks.  I want all tribes to come together as the twelve tribes of Jacob have done to help one another in their journey through strange and hostile land to the land of peace and security.  This is the departure we can best wish for one another as we step over our thresholds each day to embark on a new and exciting journey filled with pain and promise.  This is the blessing that can touch us as we leave each morning, can keep us in God’s care throughout the day, and can bring us back home to God each evening. This is a pray that blesses us with the name of God and brings us peace.

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to Aaron and his sons and tell them: This is how you shall address the Israelites.

Say to them:

The Lord bless you and keep you!

The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!

So shall they invoke my name upon the Israelites, and I will bless them!”


Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 116. Print.

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 27, 2011.

Images from: https://www.theodysseyonline.com/learning-to-say-goodbye.

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Psalm 83: A Hostile Nation

Wednesday, August 31, 2016psalm 83

A Favorite from August 28, 2010.

They conspire against your people . . .

It is likely that each of us has known a time when we felt – either correctly or incorrectly – that the world is conspiring against us.  The only exit from this kind of thinking is the giving over of our own agenda to God.

They scheme with one mind . . .

It is likely that each of us has felt the disappointment of exclusion – either rightly or wrongly – that comes when humans come together in groups.  The only comfort and healing to be found is in our relationship with God.

Deal with them . . .

When we realize that there is a hostile nation against us, the only hope is in asking God to deal with the enemy.

Let them be dismayed . . .

Even we New Testament people will want God to intercede against our foes, but as Christians we will ask for their conversion rather than their destruction.

Show them you are alone are the Lord . . .

We might be amazed that even after God has shown himself to our adversaries that they persist in their deceitful ways.  Sooner or later they will see which way they are to go but only God can bring them to seeing.

You alone are the Most High over all the earth.

The outcome of the battle pitched between God and those who plot against the faithful is assured.  God will always win.  For God alone is the Most High over all the earth.

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Matthew 3: Delight of My Life

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Paolo Veronese and Paolo Caliari Workshop: The Baptism of Christ (detail)

Paolo Veronese and Paolo Caliari Workshop: The Baptism of Christ (detail)

The moment Jesus came up out of the baptismal waters, the skies opened up and he saw God’s Spirit—it looked like a dove—descending and landing on him. And along with the Spirit, a voice: “This is my Son, chosen and marked by my love, delight of my life.” (Matthew 3:16-17)

The miracle of our existence is that each of us is a child of God. With Christ as a brother, how can we go wrong? We only need follow. With the loving comfort of the Spirit, how can we refuse? We only need rest in the consoling heart of God.

To learn more about this painting, click on the image. To suggest other images we might enjoy seeing, enter the painter and the name of the work as a the comment to this post.

Paolo Veronese Workshop: The Baprism of Christ

Paolo Veronese Workshop: The Baptism of Christ

Over the next few weeks we will be away from easy internet access but we will be pausing to read scripture and to pray and reflect at noon, keeping those in The Noontime Circle in mid-day prayer. You may want to click on the Connecting at Noon page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/connecting-at-noon/ Or you may want to follow a series of brief posts that begins today, inspired by paintings of the life of Jesus Christ  that can be found at: http://www.jesus-story.net/painting_family.htm In these posts, we will have the opportunity to reflect on a scripture verse and an artist’s rendition of that event. Wishing you grace and love and peace in Christ Jesus.

 

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Matthew 5:17-19: Teaching on the Law, A Reprise

Wednesday, March 2, 2016Kingdom-of-God-570x379

Do we fully understand the depth of Jesus’ words? Do we fully open ourselves to Jesus’ transformation?

Jesus says: Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.

Do we fully understand that when we mock creation we mock ourselves? Do we fully open ourselves to the wonders of God’s universe?

Jesus says: Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.

God says: You work inordinate hours. You fret over the past and worry about the future. You wriggle through plans that you lay for yourselves. You create rules and parameters that you hope will keep you safe. The Law I speak about is simple indeed – it is the only law the actually keeps you safe. It is the Law of Love. The Law of forgiveness. The Law of generosity and kindness. The Law of healing and comfort. The Law of mercy. Rest in me. Bring your worries to me. Allow my Law of Love to reconcile, restore and rebuild. Allow yourself to step into my kingdom of love.

We continue our Lenten practice as we consider how we might bring others to God’s kingdom of love. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.

For another post on these verses, go to:  https://thenoontimes.com/2012/04/06/teaching-on-the-law/

Tomorrow, Beelzebub.

 

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Psalms 119:25-32: God’s Yardstick – The Law

God’s Love Letterwrite-famous-love-song-down-and-dedicate_tips-writing-love-letter

Monday, January 18, 2016

In these opening days of a new year, we have looked at women in scripture who see and use God’s yardstick in their lives. Over the next few days we explore how we find God’s yardstick in both Old and New Scripture.

We have spent a number of reflections with this psalm, the longest of the 150 songs of sorrow, praise, joy, petition and lament. Two winters ago we spent several weeks examining each of the poem’s stanzas that begin with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. As we concluded we decided that this psalm was an intense love letter from God to us. When we look at all the psalms, and this one in particular, we discover a yardstick that can only come from God, a yardstick that measures both the highs and lows of our days. A yardstick that offers forgiveness, healing, redemption and joy.

I’m feeling terrible—I couldn’t feel worse!
    Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember?
On the days when we feel we can go no further, we must remember to take our woes to God.

When I told my story, you responded;
    train me well in your deep wisdom.
On the days when we find it difficult to gather strength, we remember to ask God for help.

Help me understand these things inside and out
     so I can ponder your miracle-wonders.
On the days when we forget the wisdom God has shared with us, we remember to ask again.

My sad life’s dilapidated, a falling-down barn;                                                                         build me up again by your Word.                                                                                         On the days when we see no way past the heavy obstacle before us, we remember to rest in God.

Barricade the road that goes Nowhere;                                                                                        grace me with your clear revelation.                                                                                  During the nights when doubts and fears return, we remember that with    God all things are possible.

I choose the true road to Somewhere,
    I post your road signs at every curve and corner.                                                           During the nights when we are restless and alone, we remember that Christ is constantly within.

I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me;
    God, don’t let me down!                                                                                                          During the nights when we are desperate for peace, we remember that the Spirit heals and comforts.

I’ll run the course you lay out for me
    if you’ll just show me how.                                                                                                     During the days and nights when we struggle with the world, we read and re-read God’s love letter to us, and remember that we are made by God for and with and in love alone.

Enter the words God’s Love Letter into the blog search bar for other reflections about Psalm 119. This ancient prayer from ancient scripture continues to serve us today as God’s yardstick. Tomorrow, we find God’s measure of love in the person of Jesus. 

 

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Ephesians 4:3-6: The Mystery of the Spiritwhat_is_the_holy_spirit_cover

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Strive to preserve the mystery of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and father of all, who is over all and through and in all.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul explains that the pagan gods of the Greek and Roman societies are indifferent, distant, and selfish; and they operate in a manner that runs counter to the Law of Love that Jesus describes for us.

God says: With these verses, my servant delivers a plea for unity. In your disparate lives you will too often move away from one another and away from yourselves for it is in the encounter with others that you best discover yourself. This is the mystery of my Spirit. She dwells within each of you, whispering words of comfort, healing physical and psychological pain. Yet she also dwells as a binding, calling voice to all of you. No one is left aside. No one is abandoned or left alone. All are welcome. All are loved. This is the great mystery of my love and of your life. Do not struggle against it; rather, lean into it. This love that wants to heal and transform is all you need to save you from turmoil and sorrow. When you live in me, you will constantly be surprised by my presence in unusual places. When you live through me you will consistently find the strength you will need as you work for me. My Spirit is in each. My Spirit is in all. My Spirit cannot be extinguished. My Spirit cannot be resisted. Allow the miracle and mystery of my love to live in and through you. Bring my presence to the world.

digital-hope-750x422When we believe that one small action on the part of one person cannot make a difference, we have separated ourselves from the mystery and possibility of God’s love. Explore the work of Street Sense, an organization that works with the homeless to bring to fruition in a surprising way the healing and unifying work of the Spirit. Click on the image above to learn more about how the Digital Hope program is helping the homeless and unemployed. Consider how the Spirit moves among us to bring all of us together when visiting: http://streetsense.org/digitalhope/#.VW8sCM9Viko 

 

 

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Panic


Friday, September 19, 2014

hebrew-bibleJeremiah 36

Panic

Jeremiah is restricted – he can no longer visit the Temple – and so he sends his secretary to read out the words of prophecy. Baruch writes out the words sent by God and they are delivered to the King and his collaborators.  They listen . . . and then the King burns the scroll, thinking that he might manipulate God by obliterating his word.  He is, of course, wrong.  And Jeremiah, in faithful dedication to God, re-dictates the message he has been asked to deliver.  We might well wonder what emotion Jeremiah experiences most deeply. Is it anger, sadness, regret, anxiety, a sense of uselessness?  Does he believe that he has failed?  Or is he able to calm any negative emotion as he complies with God’s plan of guiding the people to the place they need to be?  Does he somehow reach serenity about his predicament?   Does he believe that he has failed God in some way?

When we believe we have fallen short in a task that God has put before us, we must turn back to God when we experience regret.  We must look for consolation, and God – being goodness itself – will always bring us back, even when we doubt that God constantly makes even the impossible possible.  The mini-reflection in MAGNIFICAT yesterday evening puts things in its proper perspective:  Peace lies in surrendering to the Lord in trust and living by his love, not in fretting over the wrongs done by others.  Undue concern over evils we cannot mend prevents us in taking true delight in him.  “By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies”.  Isaiah 30:15.  Commit your life to the Lord, trust in him and he will act . . . Be still before the Lord and wait in patience; do not fret at the one who prospers; one who makes evil plots to bring down the needy and the poor.  Calm your anger and forget your rage; do not fret, it only leads to evil . . . A little while longer – and the wicked shall have gone.  Look at his place, he is not there.  Psalm 37

These verses bring us relief when we believe that we have failed; they offer us a refuge of calm when terror grips us. When we witness the king burning God’s message brought by a faithful servant, when we believe that pain and anguish have been experienced for nothing . . . when the panic descends to seize our senses, these are the verses that are God’s very breath upon us.  These are the verses we share today . . . hoping that we will not need them often.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 27.1 (2010). Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 28, 2010.  

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

psalm 124Psalm 124

Contemplating Amos

Amos describes the effects of corruption and greed.

Had the Lord not been with us, when people rose up against us, they would have swallowed us alive.

Amos warns of the danger that lies in complacency and comfort.

Had the Lord not been with us, when their fury blazed against us, the waters would have engulfed us.

We have the illusion that we have created all that we own and all that we are.

Had the Lord not been with us, when people rose up against us, they would have swallowed us alive.

We take credit for our talents and ideas.

Had the Lord not been with us when the torrent overwhelmed us; seething waters would have drowned us.

Let us give thanks to God the creator who has given us an abundance of gifts.

Blessed be the Lord who did not leave us . . .

Let us give thanks to Jesus the Messiah who remained to rescue us all.

Blessed be the Lord who is always with us . . .

Let us give thanks to the Holy Spirit who abides and heals and comforts.

Blessed be the Lord . . .

Let us give thanks.

Our help is in the name of the Lord . . .

Let us give thanks. Amen.

 

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Zayin


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Psalm 119:49-56Zayin-sd_small[1]

Zayin

This is my comfort in affliction, your promise that gives me life. Your laws become my songs wherever I make my home.  Even at night I remember your name . . . This is my good fortune.

The meaning of this letter is complex but the meaning of this stanza is not.

God says: Do you hear my voice blending with yours when you raise your hands and voice to me? Do you trust that I will fulfill the promise I first planted in you? Do you know that I consider you my own? Do you know that you are my good fortune?

We so often see ourselves as separate from God when in truth we live in union with God. In this seventh lesson of Psalm 119 we learn that our trust in God overcomes the arrogant who utterly scorn me, or the rage that seizes me.  When we begin and end each day in God we find comfort in affliction, and God’s song of love in our hearts.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. (2 Corinthians 1: 3-4)

To learn more about the Hebrew letter Zayin, click on the word, or go to: http://gnosticteachings.org/courses/alphabet-of-kabbalah/725-zayin.html

Tomorrow, the letter Heth.

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