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Psalm 51: Contritioncontrite-heart

March 14, 2022

The most famous of the lament psalms, this prayer is said often during the Lenten season; it is also called Prayer of Repentance.  It was written after David sinned with Bathsheba and their child was lost (2 Samuel 11 and 12).

“The first part (3-10) asks deliverance from sin, which is not just a past act but its emotional, physical, and social consequences.  The second part (11-19) seeks something more profound than wiping the slate clean: nearness to God, living by the spirit of God (12-13), like the relation between God and people described in Jer. 21, 33-34.  Nearness to God brings joy and the authority to teach sinners (15-16).  Such proclamation is better than offering sacrifice (17-19).  The last two verses ask for the rebuilding of Jerusalem (20-21) . . . Most scholars think that these verses were added to the psalm some time after the destruction of the temple in 587 B.C.  The verses assume that the rebuilt temple will be the ideal site for national reconciliation”.  (Senior 680-681)

The elements that help to bring us to reconciliation in this prayer are the call to be cleansed and purified with the sprinkling of the hyssop – a woody bush whose small branches were used in ceremonial sprinkling as prescribed by Mosaic Law – the acknowledgment that our wrongdoings effect every part of us – even our inmost heart – and the understanding that true reconciliation comes only through God’s healing hand.  The writer of this psalm knows and expresses the idea that we of ourselves are nothing and can do nothing . . . other than act in and of God.

Let us offer up this prayer today as we continue to pray for the people of Ukraine.

Tomorrow, miserere.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.680-681. Print.

Image from: https://scripturestudyjournal.wordpress.com/category/repentance/

Adapted from a reflection written on February 11, 2010.

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king-solomon

King Solomon

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Joy and Songs

Celebration

We continue our reflection on joy in the Books of Wisdom and today we see joy in the event of King Solomon’s marriage. When we read the full story of this man’s life we come to understand that although he demonstrated so much, and although much of God’s promise is fulfilled in him, this promise deteriorates, and at his death the kingdom that Solomon and his father pulled together begins to unravel.

If today’s Noontime calls you to search for more ways to encounter joy, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection.

It is so very easy to be joy-filled when all is going well; and yet . . . is it? A famous comedienne once commented that after honors were distributed for a unique award she had earned and the celebration ended, she went home and put a load of laundry in the clothes washer. She realized that the trappings of fame were not nearly as important to her as the simple joy of tending to her children and husband. Let us remember that when we have few hurdles to overcome and we find ourselves in the easy place of joy, we must weigh out accolades to put them in proper perspective. Perhaps this is what Solomon does today as he appears for his wedding procession as the beautiful Song of Songs describes.

joyVerses 3:10-11: Solomon made the columns of his litter of silver,
    its roof of gold,
Its seat of purple cloth,
    its interior lovingly fitted.
Daughters of Jerusalem, go out
    and look upon King Solomon
In the crown with which his mother has crowned him
    on the day of his marriage,
    on the day of the joy of his heart.

Select more of these beautiful verses and ponder them, considering your own marriage relationship with Christ. Compare the different versions of Songs at the scripture link above and reflect on how well God loves us, how much God guides us, and how much God heals and restores.


For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

Image from: https://rainingtruthprayer.wordpress.com/tag/king-solomon/

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Ezekiel 19: Joy and Allegorylions

Tuesday November 16, 2021

Commentary tells us that the meaning of these two allegories has been lost but that scholars believe the two young cubs in the first refer to princes who were deported to Egypt and to Babylon (likely Jehoahaz and Zedekiah), and that the mother vine represents Judah.  Ezekiel already knows that Jerusalem has been destroyed and perhaps he writes these two metaphors in order to convey the trauma of the event.  We will never know; yet what we do know is this: Even though this prophet writes of a nation whose roots have been destroyed forever, yet he holds out hope for a new arising, for a rebirth, for restoration, for another coming.  In 37:24-28 he tells us: My servant David shall be prince over them, and there shall be one shepherd for them all; they shall live by my statutes and carefully observe my decrees.  They shall live on the land which I gave to my servant Jacob . . . I will make them a covenant of peace; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will multiply them, and put my sanctuary among them forever.  My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 

If we choose, we might write our own allegory, describing how and why we elect to follow this God who promises much and who never forgets his promises.

God’s dwelling has been made among us, just as he has promised.

In this season in which we anticipate the coming joy of Advent, let us celebrate his coming.

The shoot from the stalk of Jesse has come to shepherd us.

In this season of hope as we gather in the fall harvest, let us rise to walk with this God.

A covenant of peace has been made with us.

In this season of coming peace of Advent, let us share the good news of this coming and this covenant.

God’s Law of Love is written on our foreheads and on our hearts.

In the coming season of Advent love, let us share this love with others – especially those who do us harm. 

We have our God, and we are God’s people.

In the coming season of Advent possibility, let us dare to be one with this God. 

And may Christ’s peace and joy and love be upon us all.  Amen.


For notes on Ezekiel 19 click on the image above, or visit: http://www.lorisreflections.com/god-lessons/friday-revelation-lament-israel/

A Favorite from December 12, 2009. Adapted and re-posted today.

Image from: http://www.lorisreflections.com/god-lessons/friday-revelation-lament-israel/

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joyFriday, October 29, 2021

1 Chronicles

Joy and the LORD

We move forward in our journey as we visit with scripture looking for stories about joy that will amaze us in a number of ways. To explore other stories in which joy surprises us, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our stories are from 1 Chronicles.

In the books of Chronicles we find an historical perspective of all that we read in the previous books of the Old Testament and when we search these chapters and verses for references to joy we are not surprised to find stories like these . . .

Chapter 12: Warriors join David in Hebron, many of them banished by Saul in his angry jealousy over David’s talent and popularity. When we think of escaping a wretched leader, or when we think of breaking long and enduring relationships we may be surprised to find joy as a possibility in such dark scenarios . . . yet here it is. As always, resting in the presence of the LORD who is always abiding with the broken-hearted.

Philistines_cow_pulling_arkChapter 16: David and his warriors arrive in Jerusalem bearing the Ark of the Covenant, the ancient chest containing the Mosaic commandment tablets, Aaron’s blossoming rod, and manna from the desert. This physical presence of the LORD among them, brings the faithful great joy. When we think of celebrating our good fortune and happiness we might be surprised to discover that God is just as joyful as we are . . . yet, here God is. As always, rejoicing in goodness and blessing.

Chapter 29: David and his followers amass gifts to build a new temple in which to house the presence of the LORD. When we think of preparing a temple for the indwelling of the Spirit we may reflect more on what is lacking rather than what is present, what is imperfect rather than what is perfect . . . yet here the Spirit is. As always, joyfully healing and sustaining us with God’s abundant grace.

arkVisit 1 Chronicles to read more and look for the stories above in 12:40, 16:27, 16:33, 29:17 and 29:22. Visit the scripture link above and compare the different versions of these verses found in the drop down menus. Explore these events and reflect on the surprise of God’s joy in our own lives.


For a fun audio version of what happened to the Ark when captured by the Philistines, and how the Ark finally came to Jerusalem, click on the image of the oxen pulling the cart above or visit: http://psalmbird.net/pages/DavidandArk.htm

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/ 

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joyWednesday, October 27, 2021

1 Kings 1

Joy and Turmoil

We continue our journey as we visit with scripture looking for stories about joy that will surprise us in a number of ways. To explore other stories in which joy astounds us, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our story is from the Book of Kings.

It does not take much imagination to envision the picture painted here in this opening chapter of the long books of Kings. David has reached old age and the many sons, wives, concubines and courtiers all jockey for the throne of this now powerful nation.

julia Margaret Cameron: Study of King David

Julia Margaret Cameron: Study of King David

God says: When you read these verses you will see how the plans of men and women come to nothing when they are made without me. You will also see how my faithful servant David includes me in his plans even when he must rely on family, friends and counselors to do his bidding. As you read this story, do not lament David’s old age or feebleness. Do not worry about the turmoil you see on these pages in such a way that you forget me. Do not rely on your own resources alone when you find strife in your own lives for where there is confusion and injustice I am also there. When you remember how David’s leaps of joy stir great jealousy in others, remember also that this darkness does not destroy him. Remember that with the grimness of suspicion David also knows the jubilation of joy. He is not foolish to rely on me, to trust in me. And neither are you . . .  

Visit 1 Kings to read more of this story.


For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/ 

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Study_of_King_David,_by_Julia_Margaret_Cameron.jpg 

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joyTuesday, October 26, 2021

1 Samuel 18

Joy and Suspicion

Today we continue to visit with scripture to look for stories about joy that will surprise us in a variety of ways. If you want to explore other stories in which joy astounds us, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our story is from the Book of Samuel.

Too often the high points in our lives are followed by turmoil and darkness brought on by jealousy. My dad always warned us that as we move up the ladder of life to become more proficient in the workplace we may also become targets for office gossip and suspicion. But, he added, we cannot allow this to affect either our work or our relationships. Rather than frighten us, Dad meant to arm us with the knowledge that joy is accompanied by suspicion, and we see truth play out with David today when he returns from slaying the giant Goliath to be greeted with both great joy and deep suspicion. If we spend time with these verses, we see that success may breed its own kind of darkness. It is up to us to decide how we will react. It is in our power to look for joy hidden in the dark recesses of suspicion.

Verses 6-9: It happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine, that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. The women sang as they played, and said, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.” Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on.

Steen: David's Triumphant Return

Jan Havicksz, Steen: David’s Triumphant Return

Suspicion, gossip, jealousy, envy. These are the slippery steps that David navigates with God’s help. Later in his story, David succumbs to temptation that ruins the lives of many, but his actions bring us hope when we understand that even God’s anointed will err.

Fidelity, trust, hope, love. These are the footholds we look for in the face of the mountain we climb. We find joy even in the darkest of places when we rely on God’s providence, God’s wisdom and God’s love.

Visit 1 and 2 Samuel if you have time over the next few hours to put today’s Noontime into context.


Enter the words, Saul, David, envy or jealousy into the blog search bar and explore. Discover ways in which God’s quiet joy is always with us, even when we lest expect to feel its presence.  

Click on the Steen image above for more information about this story of triumph, suspicion and ultimately joy. 

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/ 

Image from: http://www.artbible.info/art/large/724.html 

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Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

British Museum: Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

Monday, September 27, 2021

Jeremiah 46

Routed Heroes

This oracle against Egypt that we read today is one of Jeremiah’s many. The young Hebrew nation sought refuge in Egypt under the protection of Joseph, they prospered and grew in the land of Goshen and were later enslaved. Led from their enslavement by Moses, they migrated to their promised land where they again prospered and grew. They became a formidable force under the leadership of Saul and David but with Solomon the empire begins to crumble. This young king who had shown so much promise bows to the desires of pagan wives and allows his people to turn to pagan gods. Babylon threatens in the north while Israel and Judah become two kingdoms. Ahead of the forces of Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah is swept away and carried off to Egypt; but Babylon follows and Nebuchadnezzar’s forces move swiftly through the Levant to rout the heroes who attempted to stem the force of his advance. Jeremiah had warned his people but they chose to ignore the word of God as delivered by the prophet.

Prepare shield and buckler! March to battle!

The prophet Daniel reminds us that the faithful need not fight, they only need rely on the providence and goodness of God. (Daniel and the Fiery Furnace in Daniel 3)

Harness the horses. Mount, charioteers. Fall in with your helmets; polish your spears, put on your breastplates.

Saint Paul reminds us that the only impenetrable armor is Christ himself. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

What do I see? With broken ranks they fall back; their heroes are routed, they flee headlong without making a stand. Terror on every side!

Jesus tells us that we have nothing to fear when we live in him.

The swift cannot flee, nor the hero escape. There in the north, on the Euphrates’ bank, they stumble and fall. Who is this that surges toward the Nile, like rivers of billowing waters?

Jeremiah warns that there is no route of escape, no avoidance of the inevitable end which corruption and arrogance guarantees.

Pack your baggage for exile, Memphis shall become a desert, an empty ruin. The mercenaries are like fatted calves; they too turn and flee together, stand not their ground.

The unthinkable will take place. All who are powerful will be weak. All who are mighty will fall. Heroes and cowards alike will collapse.

I will make an end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you I will not make an end. I will chastise you as you deserve, I will not let you go unpunished.

So compassionate is our God that even those who go against him have an opportunity to change their ways.

But you, my servant Jacob, fear not; be not dismayed, O Israel. Behold, I will deliver you from the far off land for I am with you.

So faithful is our persistent God that those who are lost in the wake of routed heroes will be healed, restored and transformed.

So hopeful is our transformative God that those who fall on the banks of the Nile will be reconciled, rebuilt and made new.

So loving is our merciful God that even those who are swept away with the tide of routed heroes will be raised up, resurrected and brought to eternal life.


For information on the Babylonian Culture and Jeremiah’s prophecy, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblesearchers.com/temples/jeremiah4.shtml 

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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

tree in snowThe Feast of Saints Peter and Paul

1 Chronicles 1

Endurance

The Chronicler meticulously details the connection between Adam and the Davidic monarchy, Adam and the temple built by Solomon. The names of these generations fall rhythmically from our lips when we read them aloud; and this litany connects us with not only our historical past, but to our spiritual past as well. We as a servant people have endured. God as a creator and provider has accompanied us in this arduous journey. The gift of endurance is one worth treasuring for it is endurance which brings us through the longest nights.

Today we celebrate the feast of Peter and Paul, two men who each in his unique way received the Word of God and moved with it in to an uncertain but mystical future. As we pray today, we might ask ourselves how we too might endure for the good and the blessing of God’s word.

The days of the blameless are known to the Lord, and their inheritance will endure forever. (Psalm 37:18)

If an enemy were insulting me I could endure it; if a foe were raising himself against me, I could hide from him. (Psalm 55:12)

He will endure as long as the sun, as long as the moon, through all generations. (Psalm 72:5)

I will establish his line forever, his throne as long as the heavens endure. (Psalm 89:29)

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrong-doing but rejoiced with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7)

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith . . . The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed. (2 Timothy 4:6 & 17)

If you are patient when you suffer for doing good, this is a grace before God. (1 Peter 2:20)

If we have this lineage promise with God, how blessed must we be.

If this is the story of our ancestry, how resilient must we be.

If this is how much God loves us, how holy must we be.

If this is how much God abides with us, protects and endures with us, despite the times we have turned away from God’s work and turned inward to ourselves, how loved must we be.

Dear creator, originator of all that is good. We read this litany of names and we feel the echo of your covenant promise in our own souls. We know that you abide, especially when nights are long. We know that your love endures, strong enough to wipe away all separation and sorrow. Bring us again the rays of your warming and healing sun, that we may unite in one voice to praise you again on a new day. We ask this in the name of Christ Jesus who lives in us. Amen.


Image from: http://dimensionministries.com/blog/?p=5

Adapted from a reflection first written on December 13, 2008.

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Bathsheba

Bathsheba

Friday, June 25, 2021

1 Chronicles 20

Not Judging 

From the HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (633): “At this point 2 Samuel 11.2-12.25 tells the story of David, Bathsheba, Uriah, and the prophetic condemnation by Nathan before reporting the conclusion of the battle with the Ammonites. Since Chronicles idealizes David’s and Solomon’s work for the temple and its ritual life, it would not have served its purposes to rehearse the sins of the United Monarchy. We may be sure that the Chronicler and his readers were well aware of these negative incidents”.

Evil sneaks up on us when things are going well, when we are most confident and assured and most likely to have left God for a time. God accompanies us in our good times and bad. We may not feel God’s presence but God is with us all the same.

Thoughts from Scripture . . .

John 15:18: If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.

Wisdom 2:12: Let us beset the just one, because he is obnoxious to us; he sets himself against our doings, reproaches us for transgressions of the law and charges us with violations of our training.

Jeremiah 18:18: The people of Judah and the citizens of Jerusalem said, “Come, let us contrive a plot against Jeremiah”.

Matthew 20:26: Whoever wishes to be great among you shall be you servant; whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.

Matthew 20:22: Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?

The Chronicler knows, as we read in our notes, that David has sinned. So have we all.

Jesus tells his apostles that leading is serving. This Message we have heard many times.

Jeremiah witnesses to the treachery that lies in wait for the faithful. This reality we have lived.

Jesus reminds us that the world hates goodness. This rejection we have felt.

Jesus asks us if we can drink from his chalice. This question we have heard within ourselves.

Judging. Not judging. It is difficult for us to refrain from forming ideas for or against individuals or groups but it is essential for us to refrain from judging. We know that the measure that we measure is measured out to us. Ultimately, we have only this to ask ourselves: Can we live up to the harsh yardstick against which we measure others?


Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. 633. Print. (Meeks)

To learn more about Bathsheba’s story, click on the image above or go to: https://bible.wikia.org/wiki/Bathsheba

Adapted from a March 23, 2011 favorite.

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