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Posts Tagged ‘compassion’


Ephesians 2:8: God’s Handiwork

Thursday, June 8, 2017ephesians-2-10.jpg

This verse is so important that it deserves our reflection time. Let us remember God’s infinite fidelity.

For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it. (GNT)

This verse reminds us that we cannot earn God’s love because this love is already freely given. Let us remember God’s infinite compassion for us.

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. (NRSV)

This verse recalls for us that we are all children of God. Let us remember God’s infinite mercy with us.

For you have been delivered by grace through trusting, and even this is not your accomplishment but God’s gift. (CJB)

This verse tells us that we are God’s handiwork. Let us remember God’s infinite hope in us.

For it’s by God’s grace that you have been saved. You receive it through faith. It was not our plan or our effort. It is God’s gift, pure and simple. You didn’t earn it, not one of us did, so don’t go around bragging that you must have done something amazing. (VOICE)

This verse is so important that it deserves our attention and time. Let us remember God’s infinite wisdom.

When we compare translations of this verse, we begin to understand the wonder of God’s marvelous work in us.

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Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part I

Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017

For a week, we have traveled the road to Emmaus, Jesus at our side as we look for joy. Like the disciples, we may be immersed in our sorrow, and we may not know that joy walks with us. Today the prophet Zephaniah tells us that we must de-create before we can renew the image of God we bring to the world. In this holiest of weeks, we pledge to remain faithful to Christ who guides us. We persist in stepping into the world embodying the love the Spirit nurtures in us. And we promise to remain in Christ as the hope-filled remnant of God.

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

The prophet Zephaniah lived in a time when many Jews had returned to polytheism.  Here we have a description of how Yahweh will undo his beautiful creation which has been profaned.  He will even take a lamp and search the nooks and crannies of Jerusalem’s streets in order to find the last of the unfaithful.  Thank goodness we hear at the end of this prophecy that a remnant of the faithful will remain, but in this first chapter, there is nothing happy to hear.

How painful it must be for God to watch as we de-construct what is given to us in love.  Not only do we abuse the wondrous gift of Nature and Mother Earth, but we abuse one another and ourselves as well.  What do we do when we discover that we are in relationships that pollute our thinking and our hearts?

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

First, we turn to the one who created us and who knows us so well.  We turn and return to God.  Then, we pray and we act.  We pray for the personal strength to see us through the trials that lie in our path.  We pray for those who wreck damage on themselves and others.  We ask for forgiveness, both personal and communal.  We practice justice and compassion as best we can, wherever we can. And we ask for the gift of forgiveness and healing for the world.

On this Palm Sunday, let us follow the steps of the Master Teacher; and let us be Remnant for God.

Adapted from a Favorite written on Palm Sunday, March 16, 2008.

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Luke 6:36-38: Our God-Created Identity

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Why must we be cautious in judging others?

Be merciful just as your Father is merciful. (GNT)

Who is our model in this difficult challenge?

Show compassion, just as your Father shows compassion. (CJB)

What do we gain by refraining from judging?

I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. (MSG)

Is the promise of union with Christ in his love of enemies enough for us? Does kindness hold the same allure as power, fame and wealth?

As we compare varying versions of Jesus’ words, we continue to consider where we put our concerns and how we act on them; and we reflect on how we live out our God-created identity.

Pierre Subleyras: Christ at the House of Simon the Pharisee

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Deuteronomy 31:12-13: The Aliens Among Us

Saturday, February 25, 2017refugees-have-no-choice

Moses says: Call together all the men, women, and children, and the foreigners who live in your towns, so that everyone may hear [the Law] and learn to honor the Lord your God . . .

God says: Do you notice that I do not ask you to lock the foreigner away from you? Do you understand that I myself am a stranger in a strange land when I walk among you in the person of Jesus? Do you believe that you exclude my Spirit when you build walls and sow hatred? Do you see that it is you who are the alien when you shut yourselves away from others whom I have created?

Our newsfeeds bring stories that can stir both fear and compassion. Our hearts read these verses and nudge us to live in God’s Law of Love. Our spirits weave together as one in God’s great heart.  Moses’ words call us in our own millennium.

 Assemble the people—men, women, and children, as well as the aliens residing in your towns . . .

When we hear the word of the Lord, let us determine to remain open to the aliens among us.

When we read other versions of these verses, we open our hearts to understand the plight of the refugee and alien. Can we predict which cultures or countries take in those who flees oppression? For Figures at a Glance from the UN Refugee Agency that tell the story of who is displaced and who shelters the aliens, visit: http://www.unhcr.org/en-us/figures-at-a-glance.html 

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Psalm 112: Rising in the Darkness

Monday, February 13, 2017candles

Whether we know it or, once we commit to loving God as we see God in others, we begin to generate light in the darkness.

Those who love the LORD rise in the darkness as a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.

We may be unaware that others are watching us but they are. When we say that are committed to Christ, do our actions betray or support our words?

It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice.

If we hope to make a mark in human history, all we need do is follow Christ. In this way we will find ourselves in the story of hope and generosity rather than the story of fear and exclusion.

For the righteous will never be moved; they will be remembered forever.

Once we begin to think and move in Christ, all fear falls away for we know that we are not in charge and that the long arc of human history is moving toward the light of Christ.

They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord.

lightWhen we feel ourselves moving in that great tide of humanity that yearns for universal justice, impartial freedom and eternal peace, we will know that all is well.

Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

The honor we seek is not the reward of this life; it is the quiet, humble, everlasting honor that Christ bestows when we follow after him.

They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor; their righteousness endures forever; they are exalted in honor.

We cannot think that our progress is smooth for the way of discipleship is difficult in the best of circumstances.

The wicked see it and are angry; they gnash their teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked comes to nothing.

And we must remember that in our gladness of living and loving in Christ, we are called to invite all those who weary from their journey of opposition, mistrust, and manipulation to join in this great generation of life and light and love.

Those who love the LORD rise in the darkness as a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.

candles-burningWe give thanks for the times when are the light. We ask forgiveness for the times we have brought darkness to others and ourselves. And we remember to look for the face of Christ in every soul that passes our way.

When we spend time with various translations of this psalm, we find that our hearts are lighter, our path more easily seen and trod, and our journey more full of peace.

 

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Isaiah 58:7-10: A Prayer for Dissenters

Sunday, February 12, 2017dissent

Isaiah’s words might be spoken to one who teaches the very young.

Share your food . . .

Isaiah’s words might be heard in a meeting of those who sponsor refugees.

Open your home . . .

Isaiah’s words might be spoken in a classroom where tomorrow’s adults are formed.

Give clothes to those who have nothing to wear . . .

17320284-abstract-word-cloud-for-understanding-with-related-tags-and-terms-stock-photoIsaiah’s words might be heard in a workshop offered on how to embody scripture.

Do not refuse to help your own relatives . . .

Isaiah’s words might be brought to life by anyone who hopes to incarnate The Word, to follow The Word, to live, breathe and be The Word among us.

Put an end to oppression, to every gesture of contempt . . . 

Isaiah’s words might be spoken on a picket line.

Put an end to every evil word . . .

Isaiah’s words are a rubric to measure our actions, a template to codify life, a handbook for those who yearn to walk in the land of the living.

If you satisfy those who are in need, then the darkness around you will turn to the brightness of noon.

And so we pray with Isaiah.

history-lessonsGood, and holy and generous God, guide us as we struggle with our fears of darkness and evil. Direct us as we look for the best way to become your Word. Remain with us as we gather in dissent against the tactics of bullies who hope to divide us. Walk with us as we navigate the thin line between resistance and violence. Abide with us in our struggle for clarity, compassion and peace. For we wish to do your will. We wish to be light to the world. We wish to bring hope to the marginalized. We wish to be the eyes and ears, the voice and heart, the hands and feet of Christ for you. We ask this in Jesus’ name, together with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

When we compare varying versions of these words, we find patience, clarity, and the beginnings of peace for a troubled heart.

For ten lessons history teaches us about leadership with exemplars like Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln, click on the image of the clasped hands, or visit: http://www.andysowards.com/blog/2016/10-lessons-history-teaches-us-about-leadership/

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1 Maccabees 8: Peace

Monday, October 10, 2016

Gladiators in the time of Pax Romana

Gladiators in the time of Pax Romana

Adapted from a Favorite written on February 15, 2009.

Some of us are expert at allowing the charade of peace to play out for a lifetime.  We smile stiffly and turn a blind eye to a friend or family member who revels in behavior which the world sees as unhealthy.  We have become adept at turning away conveniently when someone in power acts in abusive and addictive ways.  If we did not actually see the behavior, we tell ourselves, it is not there.  We somehow delude ourselves into thinking that the power plays acted out between others will never be turned on us, and for that reason we sink to stroking the abuser rather than rebuking the act.

The symbols of Jewish worship carried off by conquerors

The instruments of Jewish worship are carried off by conquerors.

The Maccabees sought to create an atmosphere in which they might worship God freely; but they were unable to see that the power they thought might protect them would, in the end, turn in on them.  They, like so many of us, believed that a haven might be created if they might just keep peace rather than try to make peace, if they might just settle for what they could get rather than petition God for what the world deserves: justice, mercy and compassion.

peaceGod’s love is the only peace worth seeking.  It is the only peace that lasts.  It is the only peace that heals, transforms and redeems.  When we seek love, are we willing to settle for what makes us comfortable?  Or are we willing to accept nothing less than the pure truth, honesty and constancy that bring lasting serenity?  This choice is always ours to make.  To whom do we send our ambassadors?  Whose voice do we wait to hear whisper in the desperate hour of the darkest night?  Whose face do we long to see?  Whose touch do we yearn to feel?  Whose love do we await?  With whom do we sign our own Pax Romana?

For more on the Roman Peace, click on the first two images above or visit: http://www.elixirofknowledge.com/2014/03/history-mystery-pax-romana-roman-peace.html and http://academic.mu.edu/meissnerd/gladiators.html

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Matthew 9:1-8: Gossipy Whispering

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Mathieu Ignace van Bree: Christ Heals the Paralytic

Mathieu Ignace van Bree: Christ Heals the Paralytic

Too often when we come into contact with those among us who suffer physical or mental differences, we turn away in alarm or surprise. Or worse, we give in to the temptation to whisper about someone’s condition without realizing that our behavior is clearly visible. Our gossipy whispering is audible.

Jesus teaches us a difficult lesson today.

Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why this gossipy whispering? Which do you think is simpler: to say, ‘I forgive your sins,’ or, ‘Get up and walk’?” 

We know that in ancient times – and still in some cultures today – afflictions are seen as divine punishment for sin. Jesus forgives with the authority given him by the Creator.

Jesus teaches us how to measure our compassion today.

“Get up. Take your bed and go home”.

In our hearts and minds we are grateful when we do not suffer, grateful when we walk in bounty. We also know that God’s grace blesses us with the gifts that make it possible for us to earn a living, to afford a roof, food and clothing. Although in many societies we believe that everyone is entitled to an equal opportunity, we also must know that not everyone is equally endowed.

Jesus teaches us how to heal today.

And the man did it. The crowd was awestruck, amazed and pleased that God had authorized Jesus to work among them this way.

In a world that is strangely topsy-turvy, we know that we are responsible for our response to God’s call more than we are responsible for our fame, wealth or power. Jesus calls us to put aside our gossipy whispering and invite those among us who are paralyzed in any way to join us. Jesus invites all to come together with whatever gifts we have to build the infinite and boundless kingdom.

Jesus teaches us about goodness today.

When we use the scripture link above and the drop-down menus to explore other translations of this story, we hear God’s call as healing and compassionate kingdom-builders.

To learn more about Jesus’ miracles, click on the image above or visit: http://iconsandimagery.blogspot.com/2012_10_01_archive.html  

Tomorrow, withering the fig tree. 

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Matthew 7:47: Throwing Stones – Part V

Monday, August 1, 2016throwing stones

From Richard Rohr’s Daily Reflection on July 26, 2016 which is taken from his book Falling Upward: A Spirituality of the Two Halves of Life. (Rohr 60-61) Rohr, like Christ, calls us to fall upward in faith.

In the divine economy of grace, it is imperfection, sin, and failure that become the base metal and raw material for the redemption experience itself. Much of organized religion, however, tends to be peopled by folks who have a mania for some ideal order, which is never true, so they seldom are happy or content. This focus on perfection makes you anal retentive, to use Freud’s rude phrase, because you can never be happy with life as it is.

Rohr, like Christ, calls us to fall upward in compassion.

falling upwardReal life is filled with people who are disabled (if you live long enough, you too will inevitably be “disabled” in some way), people with mental illness, people who practice other customs or religions, and people who experience their sexuality differently than you do. Organized religion has not been known for its inclusiveness or for being very comfortable with diversity. Yet pluriformity, multiplicity, and diversity is the only world there is! It is rather amazing that we can miss, deny, or ignore what is in plain sight everywhere. Even in nature, we are confounded by wildness and seek to bring the “frontier,” farms, and gardens into uniformity.

Rohr, like Christ, calls us to fall upward in transformation.

Sin and salvation are correlative terms. Salvation is not sin perfectly avoided, as the ego would prefer; but in fact, salvation is sin turned on its head and used in our favor. This is how divine love transforms us. If this is not true, what hope is there for any of us? We eventually discover that the same passion which leads us away from God can also lead us back to God and to our true selves. That is one reason I have valued and taught the Enneagram [1]. Like few other spiritual tools, it illustrates this transformative truth. Once you see that your “sin” and your gift are two sides of the same coin, you can never forget it.

Rohr, like Christ, calls us to fall upward in hope.

stepping-stones-2God seems to be about “turning” our loves around (in Greek,meta-noia), and using them toward the Great Love that is their true object. All lesser loves are training wheels, which are good in themselves, but still training wheels. Many of the healing stories in the New Testament are rather clear illustrations of this message and pattern. Jesus says this specifically of “the woman who was a sinner”: “Her sins, her many sins, must have been forgiven her, or she could not have shown such great love” (Luke 7:47). It seems that her false attempts at love became the school and stepping-stones to “such great love.”

Rohr, like Christ, calls us to fall upward in love.

Rohr, like Christ, calls us to see that our throwing stones have become stepping stones along The Way.  

Richard Rohr, Falling Upward: A Spirituality of the Two Halves of Life (Jossey-Bass: 2011), 60-61.

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