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Posts Tagged ‘courage’


Saturday, October 9, 2021

Jeremiah 15:10-21

The-Goodness-of-God-Blog-BannerPurposes for Good

Surely I will set you free for purposes of good . . .

Before we leave the prophecy of Jeremiah, let us remember his help when we feel separate or alone, exiled or forgotten.

Before we forget the words of Jeremiah, let us remember his hope when we are discouraged or overwhelmed, empty or lost.

Before we move into the tomorrow God promises, let us remember our potential for worth, the joy of our work, and the purpose of God’s goodness.

Before we step into the gift God plants in us, let us remember that God wants nothing more than our love, nothing more than our fidelity . . . and nothing less than eternal, intimate union with us.


Adapted from a reflection first written on April 17, 2007.

Image from: http://www.gregorydickowonline.com/the-promises-of-god/

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parent-worthyWednesday, October 6, 2021

1 Thessalonians 2:11-13

God’s Eternal Call

As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you conduct yourselves as worthy of the God who calls you . . .

We linger with the thoughts that Jeremiah’s words bring to us in the 21st Century. This prophecy continues to move us millennia after it was first spoken. Each of us has experienced exile from a loved one or a loved place. Each of us has known the devastation of corrupt leadership and betrayal. Each of us has received God’s call to live in a manner worthy. Before we allow the words of the prophet to cease their resonating power, let us reflect on the power of God’s persistent, endless love.

God’s Eternal Call

This stillness of separation nurtures sweet embers of hope . . . for God is near.

The darkness of rejection gives way to a rising spark of confidence . . . for God is at hand.

Vertigo of displacement, sting of betrayal, agony of deception . . . consumed by God’s burning desire to live within.

Overcome not by darkness but by the piercing light of God’s love.

Fire of courage sweeps through dry tinder of exile.

Flames of resolution rise up to greet the call.

Anger, revenge, corruption . . . disappearing in the conflagration of God’s indwelling.

Hope, fidelity, love . . . living in a manner worthy of God’s eternal call. 

St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians – and he reminds us – that despite trials and suffering, God’s word is at work in us. This word will not be extinguished. This words breaks forth in the darkest of times. This word is the unceasing presence of God’s fervent call. Let us live in thanksgiving of this worthy indwelling.

And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that, in receiving not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you . . .


Image from: http://antiochcofc.org/#/worthy-of-gods-call/4556896195

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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Jeremiah 49

god-is-in-our-midstGod in Our Midst

As I knelt at Mass today I asked for special help in a special situation.  Help arrived, as it always does. Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid. Matthew 14:27 was part of today’s Morning Prayer.

There was also a citation from Zephaniah 3:16-18 and as I move through my day I cling to this petition about singing joyfully in the face of great odds because God is among us.

Today’s Noontime is a series of petitions that God rain down punishment on our enemies.  But revenge is not a New Testament concept.

Charity, true charity, has come to live among us.

Charity, true charity, prays for one’s enemies.

Charity, true charity, seeks goodness rather than evil.

Charity, true charity, heals wounds with love and patience.

Charity, true charity, insists on hoping that the wicked will turn back to God.

Charity, true charity, does as my mother recommended . . . it calls people to goodness through kindness.

So when we are confronted by the enemy, we must remember that God is among us and he tells us this: Fear not, be not discouraged!  The lord, your God, is in your midst.  He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love.  He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.  I will remove disaster from among you, so that none may recount your disgrace.

God is in our midst.  Let us pray that through him we convert our anxiety to patience, our desperation to hope, our anger to love . . . so that none may recount our disgrace.


Written on October 8, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://work4christ.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/are-you-out-of-focus/

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ascendingSaturday, September 25, 2021

Psalm 119:54-55

Our Songs

Your statutes have been my songs wherever I make my home. I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law.

Life brings many forms of darkness, night times when we feel as though we are apart and journeying to a half-known destination, places that remind us of once-sacred spaces that we can no longer can find. It is at these moments and in these places that we most often are uncertain and even afraid. It is in these places that we look for a security we once had and are no longer certain of how to find. But these dark pilgrimages are sacred opportunities to draw closer to God. These journeys of faith and hope are holy encounters with the in-dwelling Spirit. These passages are encounters with the eternal and universal Christ who loves us so dearly that he insists on searching for us even if we are the one lost when ninety-nine are found.

God says: The patriarchs lived in covenant with me through which we expressed our love for one another. The Hebrew nation made a tent in which I dwelt so that we might have an intimate union. The early followers of my son Jesus celebrated the Eucharist to create a sacred place and time that we might share. You also come to me in so many ways at so many times in so many places. The truth is this . . . that wherever you are, I am. Wherever I am, there is a possibility for peace. Wherever two or more of you are gathered in my name, the impossible becomes possible. When you ascend to the holy temple within yourself, sing your own song of praise. When you think of my laws, consider how they free you rather than bind against you. For I have planted my hope in your heart. I have sown my fidelity in your mind and my courage in your soul. Allow my presence to break forth in joyful song as we celebrate and give thanks for the gift of one another.


Spend some time comparing different versions of these verses at the scripture site above. Read through the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120 – 134) and allow the ancient verses to resonate within. Share your gratitude through acts of kindness and justice.  And sing out joy and praise to God who never leaves our side.

To learn more about Songs of Ascent, visit: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/655450/jewish/What-is-a-Song-of-Ascents.htm 

For a meditation with Psalm 130, click on the image above or go to: http://jdittes.blogspot.com/2010/10/more-than-watchmen-wait-for-morning.html

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Thursday, September 9, 2021

up from the cisternJeremiah 38

The Miry Cistern: A Reprise

What do we do when we find ourselves in a situation that drags us down as though we were encased in mud up to our necks? How do we handle our fear when confronted with an unpredictable, cowardly or inconsistent leader? Why do we take on the world as if we alone have responsibility for all that takes place?

We reflected on these and other thoughts a number of months ago when we visited Jeremiah in the miry cistern. Today we return to this portion of his prophecy, but rather than focus on the king and prophet, we take a look at Ebed-melech, the Cushite courtier who intercedes on Jeremiah’s behalf.  (Verses 7:13)

What do we know about Ebed-melech? Resources tell us that he was an Ethiopian eunuch serving at Zedekiah’s court. Scripture tells us that he heard that [political leaders] had put Jeremiah into the cistern. Now the king was sitting in the Gate of Benjamin; and Ebed-melech went out from the king’s palace and spoke to the king, saying, “My lord the king, these men have acted wickedly in all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet whom they have cast into the cistern; and he will die right where he is because of the famine, for there is no more bread in the city.”

We also know that the king ordered Ebed-melech to retrieve the prophet, and  we might notice a detail provided for us: So Ebed-melech took the men under his authority and went into the king’s palace to a place beneath the storeroom and took from there worn-out clothes and worn-out rags and let them down by ropes into the cistern to Jeremiah. Then Ebed-melech the Ethiopian said to Jeremiah, “Now put these worn-out clothes and rags under your armpits under the ropes”; and Jeremiah did so. So they pulled Jeremiah up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern, and Jeremiah stayed in the court of the guardhouse.

Today as we wonder how to extricate ourselves from difficult situations, let us remember the courage of Ebed-melech who acted when he encountered injustice.

When we wonder with what intensity we might react when confronted with dangerous circumstances, let us recall the tenderness of Ebed-melech who thought to provide Jeremiah with cushioning as he and his men eased the prophet from the muddy hole.

When we wonder who might save us when we find ourselves in the bottom of a pit with no means of escape, let us recall the Ebed-melechs in our lives who have risked their own safety to rescue us.

And let us thank God for the small, tender moments of surprise when we have been delivered from the bottom of our own miry cisterns.


For another reflection on this chapter, inter the words The Miry Cistern into the search bar on this blog and explore.

Image from: http://mygodmorning.weebly.com/devotionals/category/friendship

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Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Projectjanetsuecarole 008[1]Sirach 39:13-16

A Prayer of Thanksgiving for All of God’s Works

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you, Lord, for bringing me the strength to re-think my words before I said something foolish.

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you, God, for sending me wisdom to avoid offending someone with my opinion.

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you, Jesus, for encouraging me when I received terrible news the other day.

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you, Holy Spirit, for pulling me up when I was at the end of my resources.

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you, Mary, Mother of God, for your gentle, nurturing presence in my life.

The works of God are all of them good.

imagesCAU5R5A8Let me thank you, Lord, for world in which I find myself, for the people in my life, and for the many times you have protected and lead me on my journey.

The works of God are all of them good.

Let me thank you for your gifts of salvation and redemption, for your Word of promise that I treasure and share.

Let me put down roots, let me open up my petals, let me praise you, let me bless you . . . let me thank you, Lord.  


Images from: http://carolesegalsartblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/passion-for-painting-in-garden.html and http://www.flickr.com/photos/ukgardenphotos/5431771702/

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Saturday, December 19, 2020

Rembrandt: St. Anna the Prophetess

Rembrandt Rijn: St. Anna the Prophetess

Luke 2:36-38

Anna

She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.

“A fourth and final [Lucan] theme is expressed in Simeon’s word to Mary (apparently this occurs in the outer court where women were allowed).  Jesus will bring truth and light and will effect decision and judgment. However, in so doing he will face opposition and death. When Jesus comes to Jerusalem as an adult, the journey will be his ‘exodus’ (NRSV: ‘departure,’ 9:31).

“Simeon’s words are confirmed by Anna, a devout woman of advanced age . . . The two aged saints are Israel in miniature, poised in anticipation of the new.  God is leading Israel to the Messiah, but the Messiah will weep over this city because it did not know the time of the messianic visitation (19:41-44)”. (Mays 932)

Scholars describe Anna as having insight that most of us lack and she appears in this story to affirm the Messiah’s identity. She is likely 105 years old, lives in or near the Temple, and dedicates her days and nights to a life of service to and in God; but she is no doddering ancient. Robin Gallaher Branch describes her saying that “her lifestyle evidently invigorates her, for she is mobile, articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish”. (Branch)

Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, Anna and Simeon, servants, disciples, prophets, all announcing that openness and peace and joy have come to a people who yearn to be free, that light and courage and hope have come to a people who wait in darkness, that healing and consolation and union have come to a people who remain faithful despite their fear. As we approach the fourth Sunday of Advent, a time when we near the announcement of joy to the world because the Messiah is come, let us remember that we are Advent people. And let us, like Anna, be articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish as we declare to all that the one who saves is indeed come to live among us.


For insight into the importance of Anna the Prophetess, one of the Bible’s most unusual women, by Robin Gallaher Branch, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/anna-in-the-bible/

Branch, Robin Gallaher. “Anna in the Bible.” Bible History Daily. Biblical Archeology Society, 19 Apr 2013. Web. 15 Dec 2013. .

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

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Monday, November 16, 2020

pearl-in-clam[1]Matthew 7:6

Pearls of Great Price

Do not give what is holy to dogs or cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

Swine and dogs were words used by Jews to express contempt for Gentiles. Commentary tells us that they may also be used by Christians to describe those obstinate, impenitent Christians. In this portion of Matthew’s Gospel, the writer records the teachings of Jesus in which we are asked to pray for one another rather than judge one another. A true disciple is one who is willing to go to his knees and pass through the narrow gate onto The Way which Jesus walks. A true disciple is wary of false prophets, looks to build his life on a sturdy, strong foundation, and understands that he need not fight God’s fight. A true disciple knows that if we want to tap into our divinity, we must first humble ourselves as Christ does. A true Christian depends on God for all things, and witnesses this loyalty by praying for the swine and the dogs in his life.

This saying can be a harsh one. This teaching can be difficult to take on and live out. It calls for the courage to remain on our own with God rather than be in the company of a crowd. It calls for perseverance in traveling a long road with many turnings that hide the future from our eyes. But we are pearls of great price, worth more than any amount we might imagine. And these pearls have been bought at great cost by Jesus’ redemptive suffering, death and resurrection. These pearls will not be left alone to be snatched up by a thief. These pearls are worn by God with great love. They are tended with great care.

We are pearls of great price, as Paul reminds the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23), bought with sacrifice and love. So rather than step casually into a life we have been given as gift, let us live each day with the care and devotion God gives to our creation. Let us value the breath we have been given even as wet us pray for those who do not. And rather than give what is holy to dogs or allow ourselves to be trampled by swine, let us celebrate with joy each new dawn that brings us the mystery and of God’s love.


Image from: http://connectathens.blogspot.com/2009/08/pearl-of-great-price-032509.html

Adapted from a reflection written on February 9, 2010.

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Saturday, November 14, 2020

noara_lambMarch3_12[1]2 Samuel 11 and 12

A Prayer for Sin and Parable

The rich man had herds and flocks in great numbers.  But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. 

This is a story with a familiar ending. Those who have much use their influence and power to take from the poor what little they have. The poor man gathers money, plans how he will finally gather around him the small beginning of self-sufficiency and the momentous ending of oppression.

He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children. She shared the little food he had and drank from his cup and slept in his bosom. She was like a daughter to him. 

The poor man empties all that he has and all that he is into this precious possession that promises not only a ladder out of misery but a new feeling of comfort, compassion and love. The little ewe sheep comes to symbolize much more than the object she is. She becomes a unique sign of peace and stability.

Now the rich man received a visitor, but he would not take from his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the wayfarer who had come to visit him.  Instead, he took the ewe lamb . . .

The two-headed monster of envy and greed raises itself from the shadows and David’s sin is revealed.

David grew very angry . . . then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned . . .”

When we feel anger rise at the honest observation offered by a friend we must turn as David does. And so we pray . . .

Dear and gracious God, it is so difficult to hear our secrets revealed when we believe we have them well-hidden away. Help us to return to you.

Honest and kind God, we are so weak and vulnerable in the harsh light of our own judgment. Send us your persistence and power.

Good and noble God, we need your encouragement and wisdom to lead us to the light of truth. Remind us that truth always reveals itself in your time.

Mighty and compassionate God, we ask for your strength and grace to willingly reveal all that we have concealed. Recount for us all the times you have saved us.

Sweet and loving God, speak to us in parables that enlighten us when we cannot bear the burden of the truth. Help us to understand that secrets only fester in the darkness of guilt.

Forgiving and understanding God, speak to us plainly in words that call us to you. Bring us the simplicity of your peace and love.

We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


To read posts from a shepherd’s blog, click on the image above or go to: http://hillshepherd.blogspot.com/2012/03/nora-had-ewe-lamb-last-night.html

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