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Posts Tagged ‘courage’


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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Wednesday, October 28, 2020

In a time of pandemic, we look for assurance. In a time of unrest, we look for security. In a time of confusion, we look for safety. At all times, we drop our fear and remember that God is with us always. 

ngods[1]Daniel 10:19

Safety

Fear not, beloved, you are safe; take courage and be strong.

The words fear not appear frequently in scripture; God is constantly comforting us even when we are too distraught to listen for the calm, quiet voice.

The expression do not be afraid peppers our sacred writings; God is forever calming us even when we are too anxious to know God’s presence.

The phrase I am always with you is one we see and hear frequently in our sacred texts; God is always reassuring us even when we are too frightened to believe that we are held safely in God’s hands.

God says: You worry about situations and people over which you have little influence and no control. I only ask that you adjust your own vision. I will worry about all that you see is unjust in the world. I even take care of people and circumstances you know nothing about. I understand that there are days and nights when it seems that I have stepped away from my creation and that I have ceased tending to your world; but this is an illusion that comes from blinkered vision. When you rest in me you rest in safety. When you work with me you have courage. When you believe in me and all that I do you gather strength. Fear not. You are safe. Take courage. Be strong. You are loved. You are mine. I treasure you in every moment of your existence.

Enter the word safe or fear or courage into the blog search bar and reflect on your own perception of God’s presence in your life.


Image from: http://www.jeremiah-2911.com/2011/11/gods-hands.html

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Cristofano Allori: Judith With the Head of Holofernes

Cristofano Allori: Judith With the Head of Holofernes

Judith 13: Slaying Holofernes

Judith teaches us about courage, fidelity, and divine providence.  She shows us clearly the strength of women, the power of faithfulness through duress, the results of steady, enduring, immutability . . . and the gift of God’s abiding presence.  Judith instructs us on the results of constancy and the privilege of discipleship.

In this particular chapter, we see Judith carry out the final stages of her plan . . . and I am always intrigued by the fact that none of Holofernes’ soldiers see anything suspicious about two women leaving the camp and the reason for this is that from the first night of her stay Judith makes it clear that she and her maid will go out to pray each evening.  For this reason their escape route is made through their accustomed daily commitment to God (12:5-9).

It is also clear that Holofernes’ principle error is seeing women as sexual objects.  The heart of Holofernes was in rapture over her, and his spirit was shaken.  He was burning with the desire to possess her, for he had been biding his time to seduce her from the day he saw her.  (12:16) Neither this man – nor anyone in his inner circle – sees the true significance of the presence of this quiet, beautiful, spiritual woman in their midst.  And they pay for this blindness with the loss of life and the loss of the campaign they have planned against the people of Bethulia.

What can we learn from this today?  How can we take this lesson into our own lives and honor it?  What is it about Judith’s conduct that speaks of her so well?

This story – when read from beginning to end – is full of unexpected twists.  And so is life.  This story – when we take the time to examine it more fully – can startle us and even repel us with its stark reality and violence.  And so can life.  This story – when reflected upon in the context of the coming of Christ – brings us the expectation of restoration, justice and joy.  And so does life.  This story brings us the gift of constancy, a gift we receive through our own discipleship.

Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem: Reconstruction Model of Ancient Jerusalem

Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem: Reconstruction Model of Ancient Jerusalem

What do we do against life’s twists and turns and ironies?  We remain constant, we abide with God, we fear less and we pray endlessly.  We empty ourselves of ego and pride . . . and we allow God to complete and fill us.  We act – just as Judith did – from a custom of constantly walking and praying with God.

Good, merciful and just Creator, we place ourselves in your hands each day at our rising.  We carry you with us throughout each day.  We return to you each evening just as we return to family, home and hearth.  Abide with us this day and all days, just as you accompanied Judith and her maid into the enemy’s camp.  Abide with us each evening as we walk out to the ravine to pray with you, just as Judith and her maid were accustomed to doing.  We seek you, just as Judith sought you.  We bring to you our worries and fears, just as these women did.  May we too remain constant to you in our prayers and in our actions.  May we too know the triumph and the peace which comes from abiding with you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


If you have time to read more about Judith’s story and reflect on her importance in our lives today, enter her name in the search box on this blog and spend time with her.  Or open your Bible to this book and begin her story in Judith 8.  For background, and to better understand the context, begin reading from Chapter 1.   For an online commentary, click on the model of ancient Jerusalem above.

Images from: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/220px-cristofano_allori_0021.jpg and https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/reconstruction_model_of_ancient_jerusalem_in_museum_of_david_castle1.jpg

First written on July 27, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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Monday, April 27, 2020

faithful[1]1 Thessalonians 2: Constancy

During this Eastertide we have spent time reflecting on the hard work of discipleship and how we recognize it in ourselves and others.  We have focused on the qualities of meekness and broken-heartedness and how they bring us strength despite our fear that they might sap our enthusiasm and energy.  Today we begin to examine the quality of constancy, how we see it, where we find it, and why it is so important.

Constancy is more than fidelity; it is steadfastness under duress.  Constancy is more than accuracy and exactness; it is a steady, changeless immutability.  Constancy is not capricious, it is not fickle.  It is stable, consistent and predictable.

Today’s Noontime is a lesson on being constant in our mission here on earth no matter how pleasant or how dire the circumstances.  These verses describe God’s

We look at Paul’s words and phrases and we examine how constant we are in our relationship with God . . .

We drew courage through our God  . . .

Not as trying to please human beings, but rather God, who judges our hearts.

Nor did we seek praise from human beings . . .

We were able to impose our weight as apostles of Christ  . . .

We were gentle among you . . .

We are determined . . .

We proclaimed to you the Gospel of God . . .

You are witnesses and so is God . . .

We too give thanks to God unceasingly . . .

We were all the more eager . . .

For you are our glory and our joy.

In his letters to the people of Thessalonica, Paul addresses the problems that arise when diverse people come together in community, and although these words were written so long ago, we might still use them as a daily guide as we struggle to live a common life from uncommon directions.  How do we remain constant when all we know is taken from us?  How do we maintain steadfast under the duress of betrayal by one who avowed their love?  How do we move on steadily through tumultuous days and dark nights when we have lost our way and see no hope for recovery?

When we read Paul’s epistle to the people of Thessalonica, we discover new wisdom for old problems.  When we offer our suffering with others who have also struggled with loss and fear, we find new courage in old circumstances.  And when we raise our voices with Paul’s closing words in a chorus of gratitude we come upon new strength against old enemies.

So we intone Paul’s words and offer them to heaven in our evening prayer:

Brethren, pray for us.  Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.  I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read to all the holy brethren.  The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.  Amen.  (1 Thessalonians 5:25-28)


Image from: http://dailyexplorationgodis.blogspot.com/

First written on October 13, 2008.  Revised and posted today.

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Monday, March 16, 2020

Matthew 26:69-75: Peter

Caravaggio: Peter's Denial

Caravaggio: Peter’s Denial

You too were with the Galilean. 

The gift of courage is needed to speak as the Gospel calls us.  The gift of endurance carries us through dark nights when we doubt that we can live up to the hope God has placed in us.  The gift of discernment aides us in distinguishing rumor from truth.  The gift of patience empowers us to wait upon Wisdom.  The gift of faith protects us from our fears.  The gift of compassion shields us from hatred and vengeance.  The gift of serenity forestalls anger.  The gift of love teaches us that the Spirit abides.

He went out and he began to weep bitterly.

One of the wonderful results of reading this story is that we see Peter, the rock upon which Christ builds God’s church, finds his circumstances overwhelming.  There are times during Lent when we turn inward to take an honest assessment of ourselves when we may be overcome with a strong negative emotion that drives us away from all we believe.  When this happens we ought to remember Peter.

The death of someone dear, the loss of a treasured job, the end of a cherished relationship . . . these ordinary life experiences become huge to us and they cut too close.  Fear closes in, anger erupts, or depression and a sense of hopelessness take over.  We experience a roller coaster of emotion and want nothing more than to collapse into some safe harbor where we can refuge until we recover.

We are called to speak out but we are too frightened.  We are asked to join a Gospel cause in solidarity and we politely decline.  Our colleagues ask us to join them as they take a risk for the common good.  A family member asks us to help with an overdue intervention.  We ignore addictions and bad behavior.  We look away when we ought to look closely.  We preserve ourselves when we ought to be working to preserve the kingdom.

Peter was called to great heights and turned away; but later in this same story when Christ asks him three times, “Do you love me?” Peter responds quickly, passionately and with no shadow of embarrassment or reluctance.

Peter tells us that each of us will fail at one time or another.  Peter tells us that we will weep bitterly.  And Peter tells us that there is always an opportunity to turn and return to God.


To read about Peter’s return, go to John 21:15-19.

A re-post from March 16, 2013. 

Image from: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/bar_cvggo_deny.html

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Friday, March 6, 2020

Hosea 10:11-15: Time to Seek the Lord

morning-dew-fresh-christ-manna-1024x768[1]Ephraim . . . Judah . . . sons of Jacob . . . tribes of Israel . . . northern and southern kingdoms.  Paganism . . . a Covenant relationship with the one true God . . . Infidelity . . . Constancy . . . Pleasure . . . Joy.  Exile . . . Return . . . Repentance . . . Restoration . . . Turmoil . . . Order . . . Chaos . . . Light.

We have seen these words . . . heard these themes . . . so many times . . . yet eye has not seen . . . ear has not heard . . . what God has in mind for us. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

Hosea follows the will of God and marries the harlot Gomer.  His hope is that she will reform.  She does not.  He calls her to love . . . she turns away.  He persists . . . she will return . . . one day . . .

The offenses of Israel are grave and great, almost too much to bear.  And so we look to the end of the story to peek at the outcome.  Looking at the last lines of Hosea’s prophecy:  I will heal their defection; I will love them freely; for my wrath is turned away from them.  I will be like the dew of Israel: he shall blossom like the lily; He shall strike root like the Lebanon cedar, and put forth his shoots.  His splendor shall be like the olive tree, and his fragrance like the Lebanon cedar.  Again they shall dwell in the shade and raise grain; they shall blossom like the vine, and his fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.  Ephraim!  What more has he to do with idols?  I have humbled him, but I will prosper him.  “I am like a verdant cypress tree” – Because of me you bear fruit!  Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them.  Straight are the paths of the Lord, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them.  (14:5-10)

Lily Five[1]Dear Jesus,

We stumble so frequently yet we turn and return.

We seek your path,

We call on your wisdom, we ask for prudence, courage, fortitude, patience.

We know your ways and your statutes.  We know that you await us.

We see these things, we hear these words, we rely on your constancy and your promise.

We look for the harvest, we look for the shade in the noonday sun.

We seek conversion and transformation.

We seek the Lord.

 Amen.


1 Corinthians 2:9: Eye has not seen, ear has not heard by Marty Haugen video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rRyOS0nZr7s

For more thoughts on seeking, go to the God Time page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/god-time/

Images from: http://www.agodman.com/blog/enjoying-the-dew-and-the-manna-from-the-lord-to-be-revived-every-morning/ and http://theverticall.blogspot.com/2010/06/dew-to-israel.html

Written on January 31, 2008  and posted today as a Favorite.

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