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Posts Tagged ‘corruption’


1 Timothy 5:20: Scolding

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The fine line we walk to avoid scandal while revealing it with love is difficult to navegate. Do we ignore the hypocrisy we see each day? Do we hide from those who practice deceit and hope to keep ourselves safe? Do we bend to corruption hoping that we will escape unscathed?

Rebuke publicly all those who commit sins, so that the rest may be afraid. (GNT)

Actions that avoid confrontation may help us to avoid immediate conflict, but what do they set up for us later? Are these strategies effective over the long run? Are these tactics useful when we all attempt to come together for the common good?

As for those who persist in sin, rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest also may stand in fear. (NRSV)

Jesus tells us that if some home or town will not welcome you or listen to you, then leave that place and shake the dust off your feet. (Matthew 10)

The psalmist reminds us (Psalm 101) that we must refuse to take a second look at corrupting people and degrading things.

If anyone falls into sin, call that person on the carpet. Those who are inclined that way will know right off they can’t get by with it. (MSG)

It seems better – or easier – to avoid conflict, to placate the powerful, and bow to the bully; yet, in our hearts we know that ultimately, only the fidelity of truth will conquer lies. Only the hope of goodness can combat evil. And only the light of authentic honesty can erase corruption. Today we have an opportunity to explore how we act, and how we react to an imperfect world.

To learn more about how to respond to a scolding, click on the image above, or visit: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/stuck/201202/how-survive-being-scolded 

 

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Isaiah 22:19-23: A Peg in a Sure Spot

Visit The Ohio Barn Project

Sunday, September 3, 2017

In the world’s present climate, leaders who look for security might take heed of these words from the prophet Isaiah.

The Lord will remove you from office and bring you down from your high position. (GNT)

In our federal, state and local organizations, we see those we know will fall.

I will thrust you from your office, and you will be pulled down from your post. (NRSV)

In our homes and workplaces, we interact with those we know will be snatched away.

I will remove you from your office,
I will snatch you from your post. (CJB)

In our hearts and minds, we guard against becoming the corrupt who take refuge in their own comfort at the expense of those on the margins.

God is about to sack you, to throw you to the dogs. He’ll grab you by the hair, swing you round and round dizzyingly, and then let you go, sailing through the air like a ball, until you’re out of sight. (MSG)

So who will replace the corrupt leader? Who will arrive to guide and protect us?

I will fasten him firmly in place like a peg, and he will be a source of honor to his whole family. (GNT)

That leader is already among us.

I will fasten him like a peg in a secure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his ancestral house. (NRSV)

That leader is already our shepherd.

I will place the key of David’s house
on his shoulder;
no one will shut what he opens;
no one will open what he shuts. (CJB)

That leader will never abandon us.

I’ll pound him like a nail into a solid wall. (MSG)

That leader is a sure peg in the solid wall of faith. On this we can hang our hope. In this we can believe and love.

When we compare these and other versions of these verses, we know that we must rely on the one sure peg of Christ’s great love that God pounds into our hearts through the indwelling of the Spirit. 

To reflect on the sturdiness of sure posts in sure beams, and to learn about the preservation of old barns built with peg and post technology, click on the image above or visit The Ohio Barn Project at: http://barnart.weebly.com/ohio-barn-project.html 

For another reflection on this blog, see Euphoria at: https://thenoontimes.com/tag/sure-peg-in-sure-spot/ 

 

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Proverbs 6:1-11: The Deer and the Ant

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

“Cut your losses,” the writer of Proverbs tells us. “Run from the corruption in which you find yourself. Maybe you knowingly followed the path into darkness; perhaps you stumbled into it unwittingly, but whatever the case, remove yourself from the influence of the evil one. It is never too late to return to the path of light, integrity and honesty”.

“And then consider the story of the ant who instinctively works to do as she is called to do. She does not laze around on hot summer days,” we read. “She stores up. She measures out. She preserves and takes care. This is an example worth emulating”.

Scripture is of full of allegories and parables; they give us simple lessons to imitate. What stories do our own lives teach? Are we the ant or the deer? What legends do we establish? What values do we validate? What knowledge and beauty do we find that instruct us so simply and so well?

When we compare different versions of these verses, we discover the story of our own life that we might share. 

 

 

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1 Kings 1: Power Changes Hands

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

As Easter approaches, and as we witness the swirling tides of power grow and collapse around us, we remember this reflection from March 14, 2008; and we remember that we are children of God, living with God’s loving promise.

This is a story or power ebbing and rising.  It is also a story of corruption, convolution and byzantine conniving.  And it is also the story of God’s providence, God’s openness to the impossible being possible, and God’s awesome ability to turn all harm to good.  Just reading the first chapter of this book gives us a sliver of our history as Yahweh’s people.  It can even give us a context for the corruption in our church structure today.  We know who we are as God’s children: we are created, we are loved, we are longed for, we are anointed, we are blessed, we are saved, we dance an intimate dance with our God.  The greater question for us may be: Who am I in God’s creation? 

Sometimes these answers are more difficult to live with. If we believe, for example, in the sanctity of life, we must also believe that torture is an unjust way of interrogating people. If we believe that the Christ is present in the world today through us, we are still all God’s children, even if we cannot all agree about all of the details of an issue.

When we read about the people in these historical books, we come away with the assurance that no matter the era or epoch, we are all God’s people under the same skin.  We all err.  We all have the opportunity for redemption.  We may all make reparation.  We may all forgive and be forgiven.  We are all God’s children.

When we read ACTS OF THE APOSTLES to remind myself of the many struggles which the early Church had during its formation, we can see clearly the presence of the Holy Spirit, God’s nurturing, abiding presence hovering constantly around these early apostles.  We see power transferring from the Pharisees and their separatist thinking to the apostles and their universal salvation thinking.  And even among the early Christians there was dissent: the necessity of circumcision, the need for baptism by the spirit, and so on.  The Holy Spirit shepherded these people . . . and shepherds us today.

In both the Old and New Testaments we read of the human qualities of contrivance, deceit and falsehood . . . and we also read of honesty and redemption.  Nathan, Bathsheba, Adonijah, Solomon, Zadok are all characters in this tale from long ago . . . and they are the people we see before us on the television screen each evening when we tune in to hear the day’s news.  When we watch these people of then . . . or of today . . . how do we see ourselves responding?  How do we witness to The Word?  How do we react as children of God?

We might ponder these things tonight in our evening prayer.

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Luke 11:47-54: This Generation – Part I

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Paolo Veronese: Jesus Among the Doctors in the Temple

Paolo Veronese: Jesus Among the Doctors in the Temple

Jesus tells his own generation – and he tells us – that an accounting will be taken.

You’re hopeless! You build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed. (THE MESSAGE)

Jesus reminds his neighbors – and he reminds us – that our deeds must match our words.

How terrible for you! You make fine tombs for the prophets—the very prophets your ancestors murdered. (GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION)

Jesus calls the leaders of his day – and he calls ours – to rise to a level that befits their office.

Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your ancestors killed. (NRSV)

Jesus asks the people of his day – and he asks us – to live as he lives, hope as he hopes, and love as he loves.

Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchers of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. (KJV)

Jesus says to those who will listen – and he says to us – that we must put aside false pretense, we must filter out the noise, and we must cling to all that is good, and whole and holy. Jesus speaks to his generation and he speaks to us. We know what happens to his contemporaries. Do we know what will happen to us?

Tomorrow, the audience.

Using the scripture link and the drop-down menus, we might compare various translations of these verses to better hear The Word.

In the image above, we see the young Jesus taking his place among Temple scholars. Veronese depicts these early leaders as Renaissance Italian courtiers. How would we describe this scene in our own day? 

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1 Samuel 2Doom versus Reward

Jan Victors: Hannah

Jan Victors: Hannah

Monday, September 21, 2015

We have reflected on how our dry bones can be called to new life through God’s goodness and care. Today we remember a favorite from February 23, 2008. 

We spent time reflecting on this chapter before but we often look at the story of Hannah, her dedication and perseverance through her barrenness, and the reward she received – not only the child Samuel, who was destined to be the last of the Israelite judges who anointed both Saul and David as kings, but three more sons and two daughters (verse 21).  We have seen how Hannah endured her trials by waiting actively . . . by watching and witnessing.  We have read the verses ourselves, and we have heard them read out from the pulpit, but today we notice something new.  The story of Hannah’s devotion to God and her life of witness is interwoven with the threads of another story: Eli and corruption in holy places.  We find this dichotomy when we read carefully.

Today’s reflection brings us to these questions: can we see that so often in our lives the reward we receive rises from doom?  Can we see that God turns all bad to good when we allow God to intervene in our lives?  Can we remain faithful in the face of transgressions in our lives?  Can we speak courageously to Yahweh with our petitions for the hopeless places and people in our lives?  Can we love those who harm us?  Can we live among the corrosion and still persevere in our fidelity to God?  Do we believe that when we bring open and ready hearts to God, that God will make all things new?

Eli is held directly responsible for the actions of his sons.  The HARPERCOLLINS COMMENTARY points out that the accuracy of the prophecy of the doom of the house of Eli as predicted in 2:34 is a sign that Yahweh keeps all promises.  Eli’s two sons will die on the same day (1 Kings 13:3).  Although this is a story of suffering, it is good news for us, for just as Yahweh keeps the promise of reward for Hannah and doom for Eli, so too does God keep the promise to all to walk among us as a good shepherd. (Mays 247)

The books of Samuel give the account of a people coming of age and so it is a bumpy narrative; sacred people and places are corrupted by human wilfulness and waywardness . . . yet all is not lost.  These books contain the interwoven stories of injustice and mercy, corruption and love, wilfulness and endurance, curse and blessing, doom and reward.  We do not have to look very far beyond ourselves to find the Elis and the Hannahs around us.  We do not have to wonder how to rise out of doom to reach our reward.  This is our human story: joy, healing and redemption rising from corruption, deceit and doom.  It is laid open for us today.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 247. Print.

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John 18:28-38: Glory, Part IX: Handing Ourselves Over1000509261001_1553982855001_Bio-Radio-Mother-Theresa-SF

Monday, July 27, 2015

The scene of Pilate moving from inside to outside and back again as he links Jesus and his accusers is an interesting one in which we see two worlds, two understandings, two ways of thinking collide.  In the end, Jesus allows himself to be handed over for judgment, punishment and execution . . . and in so doing he demonstrates to his followers how we are to behave when faced with insurmountable odds.  We are to obey the voice within, follow the example of Christ, and rest in the peace of the Holy Spirit to become the paradoxical witness to the world we know we are called to be.

Today’s lesson on Glory: When we hope to avoid suffering, we also avoid opportunities for intimacy in Christ.

In an auditorium recently in which young people had gathered to raise funds to help a sister parish in Haiti, teenagers sang and swayed to music glorifying God and his awesome works.  I was struck by their innocence and fervor, and I prayed that the crosses they had already born, along with the ones they would be called to bear, would not weigh on them too heavily.  And then I remembered that earlier that evening I had seen evidence that perhaps these young people were not so innocent of suffering after all.  Tucked quietly in an alcove behind the table where Haitian coffee was being served to guests was a simple hand-painted sign clearly written by a youngster . . . and as I read it, I hoped that this young woman or man understood the enormity of the citation cited from the words of Mother Theresa of Calcutta:

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love. 

This speaks such plain truth.  And yet we fear the pain and suffering which leads to this tremendous love in which we might rest for eternity.  We too often rush to the arms of denial, quick comfort, or easy silence which gives assent to corruption and wrong doing.

In today’s reflection we see this truth in the gestures and words of Jesus who allows himself to serve as savior and symbol for all peoples of all times and all places.

May we serve as humble replicas of this paradox of Christ’s love. And may we come to know God’s glory through our simple acts of handing ourselves over to God.

Search for information about Theresa of Calcutta and reflect on why and how her presence among India’s poor gave rise to opposing views about her work. Consider how this paradox may or may not be a sign of God’s glory in our time. 

Adapted from a Favorite written on September 14, 2008.

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Deuteronomy 26: 16-19: The Covenantthe-new-covenant

May 2, 2015

Celebrating the Beatitudes, striving to fully take in Jesus’ teachings, we remind ourselves of our heritage and our commitment. Our relationship with God is one we entered into at our creation; and it is a connection and support that will hold us forever.

Today the Lord is making this agreement with you . . .

These are such simple and beautiful words coming from the book of Deuteronomy, or “second law”. Here we find a kind of re-hashing of the historical events which brought the Hebrews to the Moab desert where they waited for forty days before crossing the Jordan to enter their promised land.

You are a people peculiarly God’s own . . . as God promised you . . .

Jesus uses words from this book in his interchanges with Satan when he goes to the desert for forty days just before the beginning of his public ministry (Matthew 4). Jesus again quotes Deuteronomy when he explains the first and greatest commandment of love to a young man (Matthew 22). Matthew, who was writing for a Jewish audience to help his reader understand the implications of these Deuteronomy citations by Jesus, stirred up the corrupt Jewish leadership who had tended to the letter of the law while neglecting its spirit.

God will raise you high in praise and renown and glory . . .

Just so might these words stir up contention today; yet just so will these words bring consolation to those who live a just and authentic life.

God will make you a people sacred to the Lord . . .

Jesus becomes the fulfillment of this Old Covenant because he is the New Covenant. As this new agreement and promise, he is also hope. In this season when we continue to celebrate the miracle of Easter, let us be careful to observe Jesus’ statute of loving one another – even our enemies – with our whole heart and our whole soul. Let us continue to walk in his ways, and hearken to his voice. And let us continue to be a people sacred to God . . . as he has promised.

Adapted from a Favorite written on March 28, 2007.

 

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Matthew 28:11-15: The Report

Annibale Carracci: The Dead Christ

Annibale Carracci: The Dead Christ

March 24, 2015

While they were going . . . We are eager to hear the resurrection story again. We anticipate the revelation of Christ’s powerful restoration message. What seemed lost is found. What was empty is now full. Jesus’ faithful followers go to Galilee to meet with Jesus. What must they have been imagining? What do we imagine as we set off each day to do God’s work in an often hostile world?

Some of the guard assembled with the elders and took counsel; then they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers . . . We dislike the corruption and deceit that surrounds the resurrection story. We are saddened by the darkness that clouds this beautiful exemplar. What is light is threatened by the darkness. What is holy is stalked by evil. Jesus’ enemies cannot abide the truth that stares them down. How do they think they can silence the very hope they themselves have sought? How do we avoid the truths that stare at us each day?

ontheshoreThe soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this is the story that has circulated to the present day . . . We forswear duplicity and promise to cease all gossip. We are stunned by lies and shudder at the audacity of others to twist reality to their own vision. What is dead now lives forever. What is slandered is now exalted. What report of God’s love do these schemers present to the world with lies and deceit? What daily report of God’s love do we present to the world through our actions and words?

No principality or power can overcome the love that the Spirit bestows on us. No tempest or evil can undo the healing the Spirit brings to us. No strident denial, no manipulative tyrant can drown out the justice that Christ speaks through his actions. And this is our Lenten promise from God. We are rescued. We are healed. We are redeemed. We are loved beyond measure. The false report that ends Matthew’s Gospel continues for a time in its falsehood while the report of Good News has held through the ages and will hold until the end of time.

Tissot: Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea

Tissot: Jesus Teaches the People by the Sea

We are bearers of this wonderful news, so let us carry this Word forward in joy-filled hope.  We are children of God, so let us share this marvelous news with those who have ears to hear. We are sisters and brothers of Christ in the Spirit, let us determine to hold fast to the report brought to us through the power and love of God.

Yesterday we considered whose good opinions we seek, today we consider whose reports we believe, tomorrow we consider what fears we obey. 

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