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Luke 24:13-35: The Road to Emmaus – Part V

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Helge Boe: On the Road to Emmaus

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

We journey toward our Easter resurrection, carrying our doubts and fears, measuring, and even judging, ourselves and those who walk with us. We hope to avoid obstacles, not realizing that they provide us with opportunities for transformation. We see ourselves in a race against time, not understanding that God’s time is eternal. We perceive ourselves as small entities in competition with the billions of earth’s citizens, not comprehending that we are all the living stones of the temple that is God’s kingdom.

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

A humble yet confident, vulnerable yet strong young man joins us on our journey. He speaks words that both comfort and challenge. He listens well. Asks thoughtful questions. We can feel the compassion and empathy coming from his eyes; his whole body exudes an essence we want to capture so that we might carry it along with us. Yet we need not. We try to possess what we already own. We try to control what we are already promised.

This man’s words are wisdom. His actions are mercy. He embodies hope, he enacts fidelity, he is love. Do we invite him to linger with us, or are we too busy tending to our pains and worries, monitoring our timelines and space?

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

Hendrick Terbrugghen: Supper at Emmaus

Christ walks with us today as surely as he walked with these disciples in the journey to Emmaus. He breaks bread with us today just as he did at the supper table in Emmaus. Let us set aside the time and space to share our uncertainties with him. Let us dedicate the time and place to share our joy. And let us allow The Teacher to open our hearts to the enormity of God’s love and promise as we journey toward the Easter promise.

They urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.”

For more on the Emmaus experience, click on the image of the Boe painting, or visit: http://www.jesus-story.net/emmaus.htm 

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Romans 5:1-8: Throw Open the Doors

Thursday, December 1, 2016lock-heart

By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us – set us right with him, make us fit for him – we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise. (MSG)

If only we might look at faith as our willingness to throw open the doors of our heart. In this way we convert doubt to steadfastness.

If only me might persist I loving our enemies to see that God loves each and all. In this way we convert walls to bridges.

If only we might relax into God’s love long enough to understand that God already lives in our hearts. In this way we convert fear to grace.

If only we might perceive God’s grace and stand tall to shout out God’s glory. In this way we convert hatred to love.

God says: When you fear the wide open spaces of my grace and glory, I become a small, petty god in your eyes. It is no wonder that you do not trust me. When you reject my love to replace it with fear, I become a mean, manipulating god who preys on brave hearts. It is no wonder you discard me. When you open your hearts, when you persist in loving your enemies, when you allow my strength to bolster you and to carry your woes, I become the enormous, infinite Living God who is loving all harm into good, all evil into love. Remain in me, no matter your circumstances.

And so we pray.

Good and generous God, today we give all fear, anger and doubt to you. We pledge to throw open the doors of our hearts to your presence, and to resist closing them again to your love. Amen.

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Matthew 9:27-31: The Blind

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Jesus: St. Saviour Church - Turkey

Jesus icon in St. Saviour Church: Chora, Istanbul, Turkey

The stories of Jesus’ healing are perhaps the most loved. They tell us in the modern era what we want and need to hear. Miracles happen. Outrageous hope is possible. Love changes everything. Faith, the cornerstone of discipleship, rises from our constant communication with God and brings reward greater than any power, wealth or fame. But to all of this goodness and compassion too many of us are too often blinded by the lures of the world that surrounds us. So great is God’s love for each of us that we are given the daily opportunity to choose Mammon or God. The blind men in today’s story choose God.

THE MESSAGE translation brings this familiar story home in a powerful way.

Two men cry follow Jesus and cry out to him, pleading for sight so they might more fully enter life. And so Jesus said to them, “Do you really believe I can do this?” They said, “Why, yes, Master!”

How often do we ask for God’s help? How often do we reply, “Why, yes, Master!”

St. Saviour Church - Chora, Istanbul, Turkey: Jesus heals Two Blind Men

St. Saviour Church: Jesus heals Two Blind Men

He touched their eyes and said, “Become what you believe.” It happened. They saw. Then Jesus became very stern. “Don’t let a soul know how this happened.” But they were hardly out the door before they started blabbing it to everyone they met.

Do we believe that we become what we believe? Do we covet what others have or what others are?

It happened. They saw.

Does our worldly doubt overcome our spirit’s hope? Do we turn to God when we are in turmoil or fear? Do we blab the good news to others or hold it for ourselves? Do we ask for sight and wisdom only to ignore or abuse the gift once it is given? Do we decide that Jesus’ ancient words do not suit our modern world?

Become what you believe.

St. Saviour Church in Chora, Istanbul, Turkey

St. Saviour Church in Chora, Istanbul, Turkey

We are so often blind to so much that takes place around us and this is not surprising since the world is a dichotomy of faith-inspiring creation and the frightening ugliness of evil. But we are created in God’s image, created to rise to the hope of God’s creation, created to sing in harmony with God’s Spirit. So rather than reject with cynicism the possibility of Jesus’ presence in our lives, let us share – as do these two cured men – the goodness and enormity of God’s love. When we find that we are blind . . . let us ask for Jesus’ healing . . . and let us celebrate the miracle of his love.

The image above is not the clearest but there are a number of lovely photographs in this post on the ParMieux Adventures blog at: http://parmieuxadventures.blogspot.com/2010/12/st-saviour-in-chora.html 

To learn more about this church, visit the Kiriye Camii (St. Saviour) page on the Sacred Destinations site: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/turkey/istanbul-st-savior-in-chora-kariye 

Compare THE MESSAGE translation of these verses with others using the scripture link and the drop-down menus to see how Jesus speaks to us today through this story.

Tomorrow, why does Jesus ask these men to keep silent about the miracle of their healing.

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John 6:41-42: Recognizing Jesus

Tuesday, April 26, 2016bread of life

Jesus has walked on the surface of the water to save those who love him from wilds winds and high seas. His followers were terrified and so he brings the boat immediately to the point on the shore where they had been aiming – despite the fact that the fishermen had rowed three or four miles from the coast. Just so are we terrified when tossed by life. Just so are we brought to our goal. Just so are we loved by Christ.

Jesus pauses to dialog with the enormous crowd that follows him – despite the fact that they do not believe him. Just so do we seek Jesus. Just so do we find him. Just so we doubt the very love that has rescued us.

Today we see how those who have struggled to follow and those who have argued still do not understand the beautiful gift Jesus hands them, the gift of bread that feeds eternally, the gift of bread from heaven. Just so do they take Jesus literally. Just so do they doubt the miracle before them. Just do we look past the evidence of healing and love that stands before us. Just so . . .

At this, because Jesus said, “I am the Bread that came down from heaven,” the Jews started arguing over him: “Isn’t this the son of Joseph? Don’t we know his father? Don’t we know his mother? How can he now say, ‘I came down out of heaven’ and expect anyone to believe him?”

We have watched Jesus walking on water toward us. Do we still doubt?

We have raced after Jesus, doing all we can to capture this essence of peace and serenity. Do we still persist?

We have found Jesus in the most unsuspecting places – with the homeless, with the poor, among the refugees, the abandoned and alone. Do we still fail to recognize God among us?

Enter the words Bread of Life into the blog search bar and reflect on our own doubt and persistence, understanding and peace.

Tomorrow, bickering.

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John 6:25-58: Finding Jesus

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Last Supper Jesus breaks the bread.

We wonder what it would be like to have a conversation with Jesus the man. We imagine what we might ask and what he might answer. Today we have the opportunity to explore just such a dialog when we look at the words of those who were intent on finding Jesus.

We can use the scripture link to read the people’s dialog with Jesus; and we can reflect on our own responses. Jesus’ words are taken from THE MESSAGE translation of the Bible. We follow the links to read the peoples’ words, and then we insert our own . . .

They were seeking Jesus and caught up with him to ask questions.

Jesus said: Don’t waste your energy striving for perishable food . . . Work for the food that sticks with you, food that nourishes your lasting life, food the Son of Man provides. He and what he does are guaranteed by God the Father to last.

They said (verse 28) . . . and we say . . . 

Jesus said: Throw your lot in with the One that God has sent. That kind of a commitment gets you in on God’s works.

They waffled (verses 30-31) . . . and we doubt . . .

Jesus said: The real significance of that Scripture [of Moses feeding the people in the desert with manna] is not that Moses gave you bread from heaven but that my Father is right now offering you bread from heaven, the real bread. The Bread of God came down out of heaven and is giving life to the world.

They jumped at that (verse 34) . . . and we exclaim . . . 

Jesus said: I am the Bread of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me. 

They started arguing (verses 41-42) . . . and we also argue . . . 

Jesus said: Don’t bicker among yourselves over me. You’re not in charge here.

They started fighting among themselves (verse 52) . . . and we dispute . . . 

Then Jesus said . . . We discover how well we have found Jesus when we read verses 53-58 for his’ final words to those who question him, his words to us today.

Tomorrow, more complaint.

 

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John 7:40-53: Division

Saturday, March 12, 2016 IMM_Nicodemus_thumb

This week we have contemplated the tug-of-war between the beauty and gift of the mystery and miracle with which God surrounds us, and we have also seen the power of our unbelief and doubt. Before moving into the fifth week of Lent, we consider the authority this division exerts on us . . . and what counter-authority is present in our lives from which we might draw.

Those in the crowd who heard [Jesus’] words were saying, “This has to be the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Messiah!” But others were saying, “The Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does he? There was a split in the crowd over him. Some went so far as wanting to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him.

The police who were sent to arrest him say: Have you heard the way he talks? We’ve never heard anyone speak like this man.

Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus earlier and was both a leader and a Pharisee, spoke up. “Does our Law decide about a man’s guilt without first listening to him and finding out what he is doing?” But they cut him off. “Are you also campaigning for the Galilean? Examine the evidence. See if any prophet ever comes from Galilee.” Then they all went home.

Whom do we most closely resemble? Those in the crowd who believe? Are we the Pharisees who send for law enforcement or are we the police themselves? Might we be Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin? Or might we just go home with no more thought to what we witness? When we use the scripture link to read this entire story using different translations, we have the opportunity to find ourselves in these verses. To explore our own division or unity through the characters in this story, click on the names in the paragraph above.

We examine our belief, our doubt, and the many points of view we will hold and evangelize as we continue our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “God’s generosity is sometimes not fair,” let us think instead, “When we put away the past and follow God’s example of enormous generosity, we are better able to welcome the lost back home into the kingdom . . . and to give thanks for our own part in God’s great rejoicing”. 

Tomorrow, adultery.

 

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John 7:1-30: Our Unbelief

Friday, March 11, 2016 

James Tissot: The Pharisees Question Jesus

James Tissot: The Pharisees Question Jesus

Today’s Gospel reminds us that if we have the idea that our road to Easter will be a smooth one, we will want to think again. In this portion of John’s story, he describes an interchange between Jesus and those closest to him.

Jesus’ brothers said, “Why don’t you leave here and go up to the Feast so your disciples can get a good look at the works you do? If you’re serious about what you are doing, come out in the open and show the world.” His brothers were pushing him like this because they didn’t believe in him either.

We ask ourselves, “How does Jesus respond?”

Jesus came back at them, “Don’t crowd me. This isn’t my time. It’s your time—it’s always your time; you have nothing to lose. You go ahead, go up to the Feast. Don’t wait for me. It’s not the right time for me.”

We wonder, “And then what happened?”

He said this and stayed on in Galilee. But later, after his family had gone up to the Feast, he also went. But he kept out of the way, careful not to draw attention to himself. The Jews were already out looking for him, asking around, “Where is that man?”

And what if this exchange takes place between us and Jesus?” we ask.

With the Feast already half over, Jesus showed up in the Temple, teaching. The Jews were impressed, but puzzled: “How does he know so much without being schooled?”

“We surely believe Jesus,” we say to one another, “especially when we see him in the Temple”.

Jesus said, “I didn’t make this up. What I teach comes from the One who sent me. Anyone who wants to do his will can test this teaching and know whether it’s from God or whether I’m making it up. A person making things up tries to make himself look good. But someone trying to honor the one who sent him sticks to the facts and doesn’t tamper with reality. It was Moses, wasn’t it, who gave you God’s Law? But none of you are living it. So why are you trying to kill me?”

This stings a bit, and as the crowd surges toward Jesus, we must make a decision to join, defend, or walk away.

The crowd says, “You’re crazy! Who’s trying to kill you? You’re demon-possessed.”

We listen to continued exchanges between Jesus and the differing factions in the crowd and we realize that some of these doubters have a genuine curiosity about Jesus while others are jealous and angry.

They were looking for a way to arrest him, but not a hand was laid on him because it wasn’t yet God’s time. Many from the crowd committed themselves in faith to him, saying, “Will the Messiah, when he comes, provide better or more convincing evidence than this?”

Today we remind ourselves . . . we must make a decision to join, defend, or walk away as we continue our Lenten journey to our Easter home.

To read this entire story using different translations, use the scripture link above. 

We examine our belief, our unbelief, and the dangers and gifts it holds, we continue our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “God’s generosity is sometimes not fair,” let us think instead, “When we put away the past and follow God’s example of enormous generosity, we are better able to welcome the lost back home into the kingdom . . . and to give thanks for our own part in God’s great rejoicing”. 

Tomorrow, division.

 

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Psalms 119:25-32: God’s Yardstick – The Law

God’s Love Letterwrite-famous-love-song-down-and-dedicate_tips-writing-love-letter

Monday, January 18, 2016

In these opening days of a new year, we have looked at women in scripture who see and use God’s yardstick in their lives. Over the next few days we explore how we find God’s yardstick in both Old and New Scripture.

We have spent a number of reflections with this psalm, the longest of the 150 songs of sorrow, praise, joy, petition and lament. Two winters ago we spent several weeks examining each of the poem’s stanzas that begin with the letters of the Hebrew alphabet. As we concluded we decided that this psalm was an intense love letter from God to us. When we look at all the psalms, and this one in particular, we discover a yardstick that can only come from God, a yardstick that measures both the highs and lows of our days. A yardstick that offers forgiveness, healing, redemption and joy.

I’m feeling terrible—I couldn’t feel worse!
    Get me on my feet again. You promised, remember?
On the days when we feel we can go no further, we must remember to take our woes to God.

When I told my story, you responded;
    train me well in your deep wisdom.
On the days when we find it difficult to gather strength, we remember to ask God for help.

Help me understand these things inside and out
     so I can ponder your miracle-wonders.
On the days when we forget the wisdom God has shared with us, we remember to ask again.

My sad life’s dilapidated, a falling-down barn;                                                                         build me up again by your Word.                                                                                         On the days when we see no way past the heavy obstacle before us, we remember to rest in God.

Barricade the road that goes Nowhere;                                                                                        grace me with your clear revelation.                                                                                  During the nights when doubts and fears return, we remember that with    God all things are possible.

I choose the true road to Somewhere,
    I post your road signs at every curve and corner.                                                           During the nights when we are restless and alone, we remember that Christ is constantly within.

I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me;
    God, don’t let me down!                                                                                                          During the nights when we are desperate for peace, we remember that the Spirit heals and comforts.

I’ll run the course you lay out for me
    if you’ll just show me how.                                                                                                     During the days and nights when we struggle with the world, we read and re-read God’s love letter to us, and remember that we are made by God for and with and in love alone.

Enter the words God’s Love Letter into the blog search bar for other reflections about Psalm 119. This ancient prayer from ancient scripture continues to serve us today as God’s yardstick. Tomorrow, we find God’s measure of love in the person of Jesus. 

 

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Mark 14:27-31: Finding Holiness in Shaken Faith

Thursday, September 3, 2015how-do-you-keep-the-faith

All of you will have your faith shaken.  Jesus makes this pronouncement not long before his own resolve is tested in the Gethsemane Garden.  He warns his followers that they will abandon him but even though they do, he will still return to bring them back to the fold.  We see the work of a good and watchful shepherd.

None of us is exempt from uncertainty or doubt.  All of us experience times of dryness and bleak landscapes.  Jesus goes before us everywhere, even though we may often feel that we walk alone.  Jesus prepares a way for us, even though we might think the road is blocked with obstacles.  Jesus comes to gather us, even though we believe that we are not worth collecting, or we do not need saving.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, must bring us to his home because he is not capable of forgetting or abandoning his little ones.

When we feel the pressure of our days, we may want to think about this reflection from today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation by St. Paul of the Cross: [God] knows how to console us when we least expect it.  If anyone hurts you, turn on him as something of great value and, with the eyes of one who loves, see him as the person chosen by God to clothe you in holiness and in the patience, silence, and meekness of Jesus Christ.  If you can learn to see God’s will as a source of strength, taking every difficulty you go through as something that comes not just from circumstances but from the loving hand of God your creator, you will soon be speeding along the short road to holiness. The troubles we have in life, if we see them as part of God’s loving plan and accept them as being what he wants for us, will actually help us to grow in knowledge and love of him.  Even when things are at their worst, keep your peace of heart and accept whatever God sends you as being for your good.  God is your guide, your father, your teacher, your husband.  In everything that happens the best thing you can do is abandon yourself to his will.

And so we pray:  Good and gracious God, keep us ever mindful that the times when we feel furthest from you are when we are closet.  Remind us that when we are most harried, we are also most loved.  Tell us again that when we are most in pain, we are most comforted. 

Let us act as Jesus does when the time of persecution comes; he does not seek revenge but builds bridges instead. 

Let us act as Jesus does when the time of pain arrives; he does not curse the darkness but turns to the Father for strength. 

Let us act as Jesus does when the time of abandonment happens; he does not rebuke the followers who leave him but turns to them in love.

We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 20.10 (2010). Print.

Adaptec from a reflection written on October 20, 2010.

 

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