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Isaiah 55:8-9: A Duality of Ways

Parallel paths create a generous, merciful way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

As God’s creation, we reflect God’s image in a kaleidoscope of diversity. In an enormous mosaic, we compose a wonderfully diverse creator.

“My thoughts,” says the Lord, “are not like yours,
    and my ways are different from yours.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so high are my ways and thoughts above yours. (GNT)

As sisters and brothers of Christ, the Spirit calls us to unity in our wonderful variety. Despite the difficulty of the task, we must find a way to reconcile, to pardon, to accept forgiveness, and to remain open to transformation.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. (NRSV)

God says: Just as it is difficult for you to understand my deep generosity with all of creation, it is difficult for you to comprehend my plan and my way.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not my ways,” says Adonai.
“As high as the sky is above the earth
are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (CJB)

God says: Just as it is wonderful for you to revel in my presence, it is wonderful to live in your way even as you live in mine.

“I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think. (MSG)

God says: Rather than suffer as you work to follow in my way, allow the rain in your life to water the place where you are planted. Let my sustain presence work at growing the blossoms that wait within you. Ask the good seed I have planted in you to be harvest for the poor, the broken-hearted, and the hungry.  

Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them. (Verses 10-11 MSG)

God says: Yes, my ways are not your ways but my essence is also yours. My feet, my hands, my lips and my ears are yours as well. My mind is yours. My heart is yours. My very being resides in you, waning in times of drought, flourishing in times of bounty. There is nothing you can do to fully deny me. There is nowhere you can go to hide from me. Each day when you rise, ask me to join me in the harvest of the day. I am already there. Each noontime when you pause in your busy day, invite me to sit with you. I am already there. Each evening when you retire, rest in me as I rest in you. Yes, I am already there. Although there is a duality in our ways, we walk together always. You are not empty-handed, for I am in your hands. Remember this always.

Tomorrow, the duality of justice.


When we compare varying versions of these verses, we open ourselves to the duality of our ways and God’s.

Image from: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/parallel-paths.jpg

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The Gospels: Stories

The Book of Kells: The Four Gospels

The Fourth Day of Christmas, December 28, 2017

From snopes.com: “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is what most people take it to be: a secular song that celebrates the Christmas season with imagery of gifts and dancing and music. Some misinterpretations have crept into the English version over the years, though. For example, the fourth day’s gift is four “colly birds” (or “collie birds”), not four “calling birds.” (The word “colly” literally means “black as coal,” and thus “colly birds” would be blackbirds.)

No matter the color of the birds in these lyrics, most critics agree that the number four refers to the Four Gospels in The New Testament canon. The first Gospel, scholars generally agree, was written by Mark in the first century. Concise, quick-moving, written to a Roman audience, this book is described as: vivid and detailed, active and energetic, wondrous, and demonstrating power over devils. The Gospel of Matthew was also written in the first century but after Mark’s Gospel. A topical retelling of the Christ story, it holds less joy than other Gospels but shows itself as an official, didactic, story of rejection and even despondency. This Gospel is sometimes referred to as the Jewish Gospel. Along with the Book of Acts, Luke writes the third Gospel of prayer, and praise, women, the poor, and the outcast. This artistic Gospel is written before the fall of Jerusalem (70 C.E.) for gentiles and Greeks who were coming into the growing Christian community. The final Gospel was written after the fall of Jerusalem by John of Patmos; and he is also believed to be the writer of the Book of Revelation. This story is a celebration of feasts and testimony. Full of symbols, this highly spiritual Gospel brings God’s Incarnation into sharp reality.

Although these stories vary in detail, approach, style and focus, taken together they bring us a diverse and passionate accounting of Jesus as King (Mark), Jesus as Savior (Luke), Jesus as the Son of God (John), and of the Kingdom (Matthew) into which he invites each of us.

When we read the opening and closing verses of each Gospel, with an understanding of the writer’s audience, we begin to more fully realize God’s love for creation’s diversity, and the great variety in the stories that tell us of Emmanuel, God’s presence among us.

To learn more about each Gospel, click on the links or visit: www.biblehub.com

To learn more about what the Gospels are and are not, visit the PBS Frontline page on The Story of the Storyteller at: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/gospels.html 

Snopes last updated December 23, 2015 https://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/music/12days.asp

 

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John 1:1-14: Logos

The Second Day of Christmas, December 26, 2017

Many of us are familiar with the old Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, and we may also be aware of varying theories about the derivation of the lyrics and tune. A number of resources report – some correctly and some incorrectly – the reason for the song’s origins, but in this holiday season we will put argument aside and enjoy celebrating the symbols we find.

The first gift is a partridge in a pear tree, and is symbolic of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The mother bird of this species will feign injury to lure predators away from her young, and some say that it reflects Jesus’s words when he laments in Luke 13:34: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets, you stone the messengers God has sent you! How many times I wanted to put my arms around all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let me!” (Snopes) Yesterday we reflected on Christ as our savior or Messiah and we recognize his willingness to endanger himself in order to save the faithful.

Two turtle doves in St. George Island, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)

On this second day of Christmas, we celebrate the presence of Christ as Logos in both the Old and New Testaments. Footnotes tell us that here that John the Evangelist lays out the themes that develop as his Gospel continues: life, light, truth, the world, testimony, the pre-existence of Jesus, the incarnate Logos who is God’s revelation and his expression of his love for us.  When we think of the stories we hear and read in this Gospel, we know for certain that God is calling us to be diverse, to tend to that diversity and to place our hope in this diversity – because it is in this diversity that the Spirit manifests itself best.

God, most especially in the person of Jesus, calls us to intimacy. God asks us to commune with one another in a way we think is impossible. God asks much of us, both also gifts us with much. In this Christmas season, let us consider the gift of Logos, God’s Word, to all of creation brought to us in the sacred scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas.” snopes.com, 17 Dec. 2017, www.snopes.com.

Includes notes from autumn of 2007.

To learn more about the status of turtle doves, click on the photograph of the dove pair, or visit: https://www.aol.co.uk/travel/2015/10/29/puffins-turtle-doves-facing-extinction/

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1 Corinthians 12: Trinity in Us

Manet: The Angels at Christ’s Tomb (Inspired by El Greco’s Holy Trinity)

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

We continue with commentary by Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell in THE DIVINE DANCE. “God’s goal, it seems to me . . . is the making of persons, not the making of a uniform mob, which means there is clear diversity and a kind of what I’m going to call open-endedness in all of nature, and to the very nature of this creation. In other words, heaven is precisely not uniformity”. (Rohr and Morrell 61)

We see great variety in God’s plant and animal life that surrounds us; and each year we discover and classify thousands of new species. How is it possible for us to believe that God wants us to walk in lock step along The Way Christ shows us? Why would God who loves great change and multiplicity want to stifle creation by crushing it into uniformity? Might we see that this triune God calls us to the same variation we see in God’s three persons as one?

I want you to think about how all this makes you more significant, not less. A body isn’t just a single part blown up into something huge. It’s all the different-but-similar parts arranged and functioning together. 

Today we examine the idea that God’s creation is a reflection of God’s own multiplicity, and when we consider varying translations of these verses, we also consider the effects of God’s goodness and generosity in our lives. Tomorrow, the law of three.

For more on the connection between Manet and El Greco, visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_of_El_Greco

Rohr, Richard with Mike Morrell. THE DIVINE DANCE: THE TRINITY AND YOUR TRANSFORMATION. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2016. Print. 

For more on the species we discover each day, visit: http://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/new-animal-species

 

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Matthew 6:26-29: Re-Creation – Flora and Fauna

Easter Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Glorieta Canyon, Southwest, USA

When we consider the diversity of plant and animal life on planet Earth, we see the variety that pleases God; and so we might imitate that variety in our relationship with God’s creation. We might broaden our horizon to new thinking; we might open our view to varied opinions before we form our own.

When we consider the care God uses in creating our world, we might see that God lavishes love on all and does not reserve it for the few. We might consider processing our fears and anxieties through this same lens of love; we might work harder at loving all that plagues and worries us, allowing God’s presence to convert harm to goodness.

Look at the birds: they do not plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren’t you worth much more than birds? Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it?

Rather than see the animal kingdom as ours to control as we wish, we might think of ourselves as another manifestation in God’s marvelous kingdom of variety and complexity.

And why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow: they do not work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers.

Zurbarán: Saint Francis of Assisi

Rather than see plant life as ours to use as we like, we might think of ourselves as sisters and brothers of the amazingly complex kingdom of intricacy and wonder.

Jesus tells us that when we consider the great love God bestows on all that surrounds us, we might remember that God has much more in mind for us than the panoply of wonder that greets our senses. This is a promise we see fulfilled each day as we step out into the world . . . if only we might have eyes to see and ears to hear.

To discover why St. Francis of Assisi is the patron of ecology, for eco-prayers and a guide for nature lovers, visit: http://www.praying-nature.com/index.php

To learn more about this spring’s desert bloom in the Anza-Borrego desert in the southwest of the USA, visit: http://www.abdnha.org/pages/03flora/reports/current.htm 

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Sirach 33:7-15: Differences

Sunday, August 21, 2016Birds

If we ever wonder about the diversity of God’s creation, we might look at this chapter of Sirach.

Why is one day more important than another, when all the daylight in the year is from the sun?

When we believe that some of us are better than others of us, we might remember these words.

By the Lord’s wisdom they were distinguished, and he appointed the different seasons and festivals. Some days God exalted and hallowed, and some God made ordinary days.

meadow2When we use our ears and eyes, we understand God’s desire for variety.

All human beings come from the ground, and humankind was created out of the dust. In the fullness of his knowledge the Lord distinguished them and appointed their different ways.

When we open our hearts and minds, we see God’s great gift of diversity.

Like clay in the hand of the potter, to be molded as God pleases, so all are in the hand of their Maker, to be given whatever God decides.

When we observe humankind and nature honestly, we discover God’s marvelous inclusivity of many formed into one.

crowdLook at all the works of the Most High; they come in pairs, one the opposite of the other.

When we enter into the mystery of God’s creation, we witness to the marvelous differences found in God’s love.

When we compare differing translations of these verses, we open ourselves to the wisdom of God’s marvelous differences.

Click on the image of the birds above to learn more about the importance of diversity in nature

Click on the crowd image to learn about the broad diversity found in the Mexican genome

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Thursday, September 27, 2012 – 2 Timothy 2 – Purity of Heart

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Again today we hear clear instruction from Paul about how an apostle of Christ is to conduct herself or himself.

What you have heard from me entrust to faithful people who will have the ability to teach others as well.

It is also clear that we are not to hoard what we have learned but are to pass it along and to share it with others.

Bear you share of hardships along with me like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

Paul also gives us ample warning that the life of apostleship is not an easy one.  If we are entirely comfortable with who and where we are . . . we might look around to see who is lacking in something, and then begin the work of an apostle of Christ to bring justice to the world.

The Lord will give you understanding in everything.

We cannot back away from this work thinking that we are not God’s proper tool.

The word of God is not chained.

Nothing is impossible for God and God will find a way to open the path to which he has called us.

Remind people of these things and charge them before God to stop disputing about words.

We are to act our teaching more than we are to preach it.

Be eager to present yourself as acceptable before God.

We are to live the Word of God just as Jesus did.

In a large household there are vessels not only of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for lofty and others for humble use.

We have diverse gifts which God calls into use according to his vision of the world.

Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with purity of heart.

Purity of intent, purity of mind, purity of heart . . . we must strain to move beyond our lacks into our promise and potential. 

Avoid foolish and ignorant debates for you know that they breed quarrels.

Bring peace.  Create places of concord.  Greet anger and anxiety with gentleness and mercy.

A slave of the Lord should not quarrel but should be gentle with everyone, able to teach, tolerant, correcting opponents with kindness.  It may be that God will grant them repentance that leads to knowledge of the truth, and that they may return to their senses out of the devil’s snare, where they are entrapped by him, for his will.

But do not back away from the challenge for when we do this we back away from God.  We are to continue to run the race . . . and run it well . . . as best we are able.

Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  Pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord with purity of heart.

To reflect more of Purity of Heart, click on the image above or go to: http://www.piercedhearts.org/purity_heart_morality/a_purity_heart.htm 

 Written on September 18, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

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