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Posts Tagged ‘death’


1 Thessalonians 5:16-18Pray Without Ceasing

Friday, November 2, 2018

Rejoice always.  Pray without ceasing.  In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. 

I have come from my son’s house after spending the afternoon with their four-year old while he and his wife visit funeral homes to make plans for a service that will honor the life of their infant daughter.  Sophie died too quickly a few days ago.  And in all of the wrenching grief, there is prayer.

We sit at a meal together as night closes in.  A friend visits bearing fresh fruit and vegetables.  We laugh over small things, finding comfort in one another’s presence.  The deep sadness is just out of sight but still with us.  And in all of this quiet pain, there is prayer.

It is not the will of God that we suffer.  It is the will of God that we rejoice in spite of the pain, knowing that life here is only temporary.

It is not the will of God that we sink into darkness.  It is the will of God that we rise with him into the light, knowing that life in Christ is never-ending.

Pain cannot be erased, but with patient prayer and unswerving reliance on God it blooms into a rejoicing beyond any happiness we can imagine.  It brings firmness out of the smelting fire.  It brings purity out of the crucible.  It brings a holy presence into a place where only sadness was previously felt.  It brings a knowing that we are eternal and that we will meet again in newness despite any separation this earth can visit on us.

It is through pain that we find our true selves.  It is in pain that we kneel before God in petition.  It is after pain that we rise again in the crystalline newness of our life in Christ.

For all of these reasons . . . we must pray without ceasing.


A re-post from September 30, 2011.

Image from: http://www.holytrinitynewrochelle.org/prayer.html

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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Michelangelo: Creation

Michelangelo: Creation

Psalms 7 to 18

Life, Death, Divinity, Humanity

This reflection was written upon the death of a friend’s father and is shared today as a Favorite. 

Much of life is lived in a confusion of fear and thanksgiving and we find a jumble of these emotions in Psalms 7 though 18.  Looking at just the New American Bible titles of these poems gives us a series of jubilant prayers mixed with sorrow-filled ones.  It is in this way that these poems bring us a faultless reflection of life.

The fusion of worlds present in the human made in the image of God is a dichotomy which we can either unite our id, ego and superego . . . or it can split us into child and adult separated by a chasm of fear.  Fear of what?  Fear of suffering.  Fear of humiliation.  Fear of loss.  Fear of abandonment.  Fear of loneliness.  Fear of knowing that we err.  Fear of rejection.  Fear of death.  And when I think of this litany of pain, I realize that each of these woes is accompanied by a restorative.  Joy in celebration.  Joy in exaltation.  Joy in gain.  Joy in companionship.  Joy in intimacy.  Joy in knowing that we are doing the right thing.  Joy in perfect, trust-filled union with another.  Joy in life.  Our fear-filled humanity struggles with our covenant-honoring divinity.

Psalm 8 brings us dichotomous images announced in the title: Divine Majesty and Human Dignity.  We find more in the psalm: earth and heaven, babes and foes, enemy and avenger.  The verses that tell all that we really need to know:  What are humans that you [God] are mindful of them, mere mortals that you care for them?  Yet you have made them little less than a god, crowned them with glory and honor.  You have given them rule over the works of your hands, put all things at their feet . . . O Lord, our Lord, how awesome is your name through all the earth!

What a wonderful God we have who loves us to the extent that he creates us, visits with us, loves and comforts us, feeds, houses and clothes us, heals and tends to us, listens to us, blesses us . . . always . . . with constancy . . . with fidelity . . . with dignity . . . with patience . . . through eternity.

We often feel closer in death to the ones we love than we did when these dear ones were yet in this life.  These loved ones speak to us constantly now that the physical distances of this world no longer separate us.  They bring us the very real presence of the next world with their constant visitation.  We cannot see them because of the limiting time and space of this globe but still their existence is real.

Teilhard de Chardin 2We are human.  We are divine.  And we feel the constant struggle of reconciling these two worlds of self.  A human death brings us up short because we are forced to consider if we believe that we are created as gift.  We pause to think again about the Resurrection, the forgiveness of sin, life everlasting.  We cannot help but reflect on how we have treated this departed one: with the dignity deserved no matter the situation?  With the witness of divine majesty?  Did we salute the gift of this person while they were still in this life?  Did we honor this person while still with us as well as we will honor them in death?

The ones we love who have died linger among us.  We love that much.  They still laugh when we laugh, cry when we cry.  We cannot see them with the eyes of this world, or hear them with these ears.  But they are here with us nonetheless.  As we are with them.  They hold us close.  They have not disappeared.  Their presence is still felt . . . and it will be . . . forever and ever.  Amen.

Adapted from the May 31, 2008 Noontime.

For more information about Teilhard de Chardin, click on his image above or go to: http://teilharddechardin.org/

Follow this link for another Noontime reflection on God’s eternal love and our own human vulnerability.  (Posted on December 10, 2012.)

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Saturday, June 22, 2013

menora-tekes-mica-2[1]Psalm 49

In Evil Days

This Psalm is full of advice about how we are to calm our fears, unburden our hearts and unbend our stiff necks.  It is a practical list of specific strategies for a universal audience . . . rich and poor alike!

My lips will speak words of wisdom.  My heart is full of insight.  How does the psalmist arrive at such understanding and perception?

I will turn my mind to a parable . . . Story telling is a popular pastime in a culture in which most of the population is uneducated and beyond their entertainment value, parables are used to instruct the illiterate using the technique of comparison to teach.  As we read, hear or form parables of our own the burden of our worries lifts.

With a harp I will solve my problems . . . Music soothes the soul, as we know, and the ancient Hebrew people understood this. The harp and flute were used in ancient cultures to both entertain and to quiet the soul.  Saul calls for David and his harp when he is troubled (1 Samuel 16:23).  There are at more than a dozen references to praising God with the harp in Scripture and here the psalmist calls for the use of its comforting tones.  As we sing to God and praise God’s wisdom and power and goodness the problems that besieged us begin to dissolve.

Why should I fear in evil days the malice of the foes who surround me, men who trust their wealth and boast of the vastness of their riches . . . Finally the psalmist tackles problems common to all humanity from the earliest stories in our culture to the present day: envy, greed, pride, an attitude of self-sufficiency, a desire to control.  As we come to realize that no one – not even the super-rich – can avoid the great equalizer, death, we find new energy and rise to new life.

But God will ransom me from the netherworld; he will take me to himself . . .  The Old Testament psalmist foretells the coming of Christ with his story of healing, restoration and resurrection.  The psalmist assures us that as we come to fully understand that God alone creates and God alone saves, nothing that takes place in evil days will be able to strip the promise of life eternal from us.

And so we pray . . .

Eternal and powerful God, open our hearts to receive your wisdom as we sing your praise with harp and flute.

Loving and healing Christ, open our minds to your parables that teach us how to flourish as we grow and blossom with your wisdom and insight.

Abiding and consoling Spirit, open our souls to your loving presence as we learn to abide only in you.

Amen.

To sooth the soul that struggles to survive evil days, watch a video produced for the King David Museum about how Harrari harps are made in the manner that David himself employed, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO5uA-IPV0E

For lessons about the harp and the flute by musicologist Rabbi David Louis and the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel, watch the following videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4O301lbkiU and http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=gcTGsmnjwv8&NR=1 

Listen carefully to the story of Moses’ Flute and consider how we might uncomplicated our lives. 

To read about how ancient harps are made today, click on the image above or go to: http://harrariharps.com/

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