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Posts Tagged ‘disaster’


Jeremiah 5 and 6: Calamity

Friday, May 10, 2019

Written on August 27, 2012 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

In this portion of Jeremiah’s’ prophecy we can see and hear that the prophet’s audience thinks themselves well barricaded against calamity.  And from where we stand several thousand years later . . . we know that they ought to have listened to these words.

Lustful stallions are they, each neighs after another’s wife.

They ought to have taken in the meaning of these verses.

They denied the Lord, saying, “Not he – no evil shall befall us, neither sword nor famine shall we see”.

They ought to have sensed that the emergency was real.

A shocking, horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests teach as they wish; yet my people will have it so; what will you do when the end comes?

Do we listen any better?  Do we sense the meaning of our genuine prophets today?  Can we see ourselves as we read the words of this prophecy?

See, I will place before these people obstacles to bring them down . . . A tester among my people I have appointed . . . to search and test their way.

When calamity arrives, as it always does in our lives, how do we respond when we are searched and tested by God?  Do we turn to God and intercede for our enemies?  Do we wrangle with our Maker and ask for the answers to our most urgent questions?  Do we seek wisdom, live in patience and active waiting?  Do we maintain fidelity?  Do we beat down the gates of heaven with petitions of outrageous hope?  Do we love our attackers into kindness?  Do we praise God for miracles wrought?  Do we call others to his sacred places?

This evening, as we close our eyes and our day, we might ask God for the strength, the stamina, the courage to see ourselves as we are, and to turn to God as we are . . . asking to be made anew.


A re-post from April 25, 2012.

Image from: http://www.friendsdisasterservice.org/ 

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Matthew 2:1-12: Leaving by Another Road
Friday, July 20, 2018

Written on June 7 and posted as a favorite today . . .

I love this portion of the Christmas story. The wise men are so wise that they are able to read Herod’s secret intent. Nothing can be hidden from the wise because they are so connected to the creator that they appear to have special insight. What they really have is patience, serenity, and a finely tuned ear for God’s word. And so the magi left for their own country by another road.

I am thinking about the number of times I have averted disaster because that calm, strong voice within indicated that I was to stay put. We notice that an attitude of patience and a willingness to obey always accompanies the wise. The wise are not brash or excitable. They do not speak harshly, nor are they silenced. Like the Persistent Widow, they know when to persevere in speaking God’s word. And like the Three Magi, they know when to stand down and melt away into God’s protecting presence.

The wise know when to stand and witness . . . and when to leave quietly by another road.


Read the parable of The Persistent Widow in Luke 18:1-8.

We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on July 29, 2011.

Image from: http://lifeasilookatit.blogspot.com/2011/03/road-not-taken.html

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2 Samuel 19:2-15Dreams Unrealized 

Monday, June 25, 2018

David evidently was in denial about his son Absalom.  All we need do to read about this young man’s abuse of the status and power given to him is leaf back a few pages to Chapters 13 through 18 to read the details of his story.  It is not positive.  Yet, David mourns the loss of this child, ignoring the horror that Absalom played out even against his own father.  We watch David struggle with the reality he does not want to see and now in this reading we watch David give over to his grief completely.  We wonder . . . does he mourn the loss of what actually was?  Or does he mourn the loss of what might have been?  We have no way of knowing.

Joab approaches David with words that eventually bring about a reconciliation between king and people.  His words are harsh and to the point; David comprehends quickly.  The greater offense here seems to be not so much that David mourns the loss of a child but that he appears to be oblivious to the harm this child’s behavior has brought about.   Many of us can identify with this.  We have likely gone to a family member or friend to try to being clarity to a murky situation only to be accused of speaking ill or of causing problems.   When delivering bad news, we must always be prepared to be blamed; and if we are not, we can breathe a sigh of relief and thank God.

In today’s story, David’s fragile state becomes apparent despite Joab’s recalling him to the realities of his role as leader and king.  We may not be as fortunate as Joab; but whether we are believed or rejected, we must consider the difficulty we bring someone when we bring bad news about a loved one; and we must deliver our words carefully.  If we are the ones who receive this bad news . . . we must be prepared to see another’s reality or else . . .  Not a single man will remain with you overnight, and this will be a far greater disaster for you than any that has afflicted you from your youth until now.

Whether we be Joab or David, we do well to remember that dreams fulfilled are welcome allies while dreams not realized are formidable enemies.  If we hope to step out to sit at the gate as David does, if we hope to bring the dreadful truth to someone so that it is heard as Joab does . . . we do well to enter the interaction carefully, and always include God in the exchange.   Only then can we hope for reconciliation.


We will be away from the Internet for several days. Please enjoy this reflection first posted on June 25, 2011.

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Hubble Space Telescope: The Pillars of Creation

Creation: And it was Good

The Sixth Day of Christmas, December 30, 2017

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me six geese a-laying.  

Light and dark, heaven and earth, plants of many kinds, stars and heavenly bodies, creatures that live in the water and on land, humanity. With each of the six days of creation, God sees that it was good.

Arguments continue between those who believe in a literal progression and those who turn to science for a deeper understanding of our origins. No matter our perspective, the stories in the opening of Genesis bring us an opportunity for deeper intimacy with God.

And it was good. When we understand that God has created all that surrounds us, we often leap to the conclusion that this goodness must continue unchallenged and unchanging. We struggle to understand why natural and man-made catastrophes harm and even destroy the innocent. How does God allow such suffering to take place? How do we handle the stress that comes with persecution both perceived and real? The Apostle Paul writes his first letter to the people of Thessalonica as they struggle to maintain the community they established when Paul was with them.

And it was good. Paul’s letter is so brief, and so inspiring that it is easily read with commentary. Today, particularly if we struggle with the de-creation of a community we hold dear, we find a path forward through chaos with Paul’s verses. They give us an antidote for the suffering we feel when we witness the destruction of our work or the severance of ties that once sustained us. When studying Paul’s words, we remember that, despite the circumstances surrounding us, God always turns harm to good, even when it is difficult to perceive this goodness. Destruction of someone or something we have loved brings us to our knees and asks us to pass through the narrow gate of transformation when we rely on God’s promise that all things are possible. The ruination of some idea or some structure that produces goodness brings us into deeper intimacy with our creator when we realize that goodness supersedes harm always.

Charles (Charlie) Pellerin: NASA’s former director of astrophysics

And it was good. Today we ponder the loving act of creation, our willingness to believe God’s promise of love, and the belief that God will always lead us out of the darkness of de-creation.

And it was good.

Read about recovery from disaster: “What went wrong with the Hubble Space Telescope (and what managers can learn from it) NASA’s former director of astrophysics, Charlie Pellerin, has learned a thing about leadership and project failure” at https://www.cio.com.au/article/420036/what_went_wrong_hubble_space_telescope_what_managers_can_learn_from_it_/

For more information on the M16 Eagle Nebula pictured above, click on the image or visit the NASA site at: https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/hubble-goes-high-definition-to-revisit-iconic-pillars-of-creation

For notes and commentary on 1 Thessalonians, visit: http://biblehub.com/1_thessalonians/

To learn about connections between Paul’s letter and the stress produced by persecution, visit: https://bible.org/seriespage/3-stress-persecution-1-thessalonians-213-20

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Friday, August 9, 2013

jobww[1]Job 38:1

Out of the Storm

Then the Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said . . .

In this first of the Wisdom Books there is much to learn.  A loyal and faithful servant is suddenly struck with misfortune and is further beset by a long series of disasters.  Friends berate him; his wife suggests that he curse God and die; yet through all of the adversity Job keeps his eye on God and his heart in God’s hands.  And it is out of the storm that seems to destroy Job that the Lord speaks.

God says: Despite what some may believe I do not delight in the troubles that stalk the world.  Although you may not fully recognize my presence I am with you always.  Regardless of what others tell you, I will not abandon even one of you or take my watchful eye from you.  I accompany you through the heavy times as well as the joyful ones.  Even as the storm of life rages around you I am in the tempest, and it is out of this tempest that I speak to you as I speak to my servant Job to ask: Were you present when the land and her creatures were created . . . were you there when I placed the stars in the heavens . . . have you ever made the sun rise or the tides ebb?  You do not know the intimate details of my plan but know that I hold you in the palm of my hand.  The calamity that appears so enormous to you is as a grain of sand to me and yet from that grain of sand will come a pearl of great price.  Abide with me as Job does . . . and see what plans I have in mind for you.  Plans for you joy and not your woe.

As Paul tells the Romans, and us: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How inscrutable are God’s judgments and how unsearchable are God’s ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been God’s counselor?  Or who has given God anything that he may be repaid.  For from God and through God and for God are all things.  To God be glory forever. Amen.  (Romans 11:30-36)

storm-sunshine[1]Although we cannot hope to comprehend God’s economy, we have hope in the resurrection.  Although we cannot hope to feel God’s immediate presence in the storms that enter our lives, we have hope in God’s love.

Spend time with the Book of Job today, or enter the word Job into the blog search bar and reflect on Job’s story.

For a thumbnail sketch of what happens in this story, click on the storm image above or go to: http://www.bibletutor.com/level1/program/start/books/oldtest/psalms/job.htm

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