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Posts Tagged ‘Easter People’


Luke 17:1-4: Temptation

Easter Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Jesus is well aware of how difficult it is to live in this world.  Jesus understands the human tendency to take the comfortable route.  Jesus knows all about temptationAnd he also knows about union and resurrection.

Matthew records Jesus as saying that if our right eye offends we are to pluck it out (5:29).  This is a harsh saying but Jesus gives us more advice to help our understanding.  He gives us a prescription for mending walls and building bridges; it is advice that we often ignore. On this day of celebration in new life, let us take a moment to pause and ponder the goodness of God’s word to us, the compassion Jesus shows to us, the love the Spirit bestows on us.

Things that cause sin will inevitably occur, Jesus tells us today.  And when they do, here is a path to follow.

If a brother sins [against you] go and tell him his fault between you and him alone.  If he listens to you, you have won over your brother.  (Matthew 18:15)  It is so difficult to take this first step.  Our pride and our fear of rejection get in the way; yet it is what Jesus suggests to us.

If he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, so that “every fact may be established on the testimony of two or three witnesses”.  (Matthew 18:16)  Jesus enacts the old Mosaic Law spelled out in Deuteronomy 19:15 that witnesses are needed to establish guilt.   He understands how our refusal to accept a truth that others see is common; yet he asks us to remove the beam from our own eyes before we point out splinters in others.

If he refuses to listen to them, tell the church.  If he refuses to listen even to the church, then treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.  (Matthew 18:17)  We must use caution in taking this final step and it is one with which I struggle.  We must be certain not to allow our own ego to take over and we must not step over the mark into gossip, libel and slander.  Social dynamics are difficult and we must exercise patience and kindness more than stir up scandal.  Jesus understands our inability to see the big picture and for that reason he also tells us to turn the other check when we are offended. (Matthew 5:39 and Luke 6:29)  He knows too well the slippery slope of false accusation; he has seen the crowds whipped up in frenzy.  He shows us how to stand as truth against falsehood.

During this Holy Week we have heard the Passion read out to us several times.  We have journeyed from Genesis to Revelation and what we hear is a single message: There is only one Law; it is the Law of Love.

The apostle Paul describes to the Ephesians – and to us – how to bridge gaps and forgive offenses: All bitterness, fury, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice.  [And] be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ.  (4:31-32)

Paul tells the Colossians – and us – the mindset we must have in order to build these bridges: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.   (3:13)

On this Easter Day we celebrate the gift of newness that we receive through no goodness of our own, but solely through the goodness and generosity of God.  What a fitting gift is might be if on this day we ask the Creator for the strength to follow his Word, and for the determination to enact his Law of Love.  Let us become Easter People who acknowledge that even when we walk away from solutions we are not so lost that Jesus cannot find us; our sins are not so great that God does not forgive them; and we are never so alone that the Holy Spirit does not accompany us on our journey home.


A re-post from Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012.

For more on building bridges and reconciliation, see The Jesus Bridge page on this blog. 

For a reflection on Jesus’ temptations, see the Temptations page on this blog.

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Proverbs 6:12-35 and 7: Something Nasty

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

God is perfectly aware that not all creatures understand the goodness and generosity of creation’s gift. Having that in mind, the writer of Proverbs reminds us that the riffraff and rascals who plot and scheme will always – in God’s time and in God’s economy – wind up suffering the consequences of the chaos they plot against others. In a literary context, we refer to this as irony, the end of the twisting plot twisting back on the antagonist. We often believe that in reality the outcome is different: he who plots and schemes becomes rich and powerful; she who plots against the innocent escapes destiny’s karma.

Riffraff and rascals
    talk out of both sides of their mouths.
They wink at each other, they shuffle their feet,
    they cross their fingers behind their backs.

If we live in a timeline of the physical world, we might see ourselves as correct in thinking that the spiritual world holds out false hope. When we live in God’s eternal time, we find that we have misunderstood God’s plan for the kingdom. When we ignore God’s time and plan, we find that we have become like the riffraff and rascals we deplore. We have given in to something nasty. We will have rejected the advice of Proverbs that the final total smashup will arrive at our door, and we will become the hypocrites who cross our fingers behind our backs.

Their perverse minds are always cooking up something nasty,
    always stirring up trouble.
Catastrophe is just around the corner for them,
    a total smashup, their lives ruined beyond repair.

In the following verses, we hear about human actions that induce God’s ire; these items are laid out clearly. Various translations present differing translations but this interesting list is always the same, a litany of easy signs that we might look for in our own daily actions.

  • A proud look.
  • A lying tongue.
  • Hands that kill innocent people,
  • A mind that thinks up wicked plans.
  • Feet that hurry off to do evil.
  • A witness who tells one lie after another.
  • And someone who stirs up trouble among friends.

As Easter People, we share the Good News Jesus brings to creation that God’s merciful patience and generosity are always waiting in hope to redeem us. God’s persistence and wisdom are always presenting in faith new lessons for us to learn. God’s justice and consolation are always bringing us new opportunities to love as God loves.

The final verses of this chapter reprise the hazards of adultery and we might wonder why the writer brings this theme to us again. Besides the obvious danger of wanton men and women, might we also need be wary of addiction to lusting after power, wealth and fame? Might we need another practical warning to steer clear of riffraff and rascals lest we becomes one of those who ignore God’s call away from something nasty?

Even so, when the dust settles, we find that despite our recalcitrance, despite our rejection of truth, despite our haughtiness and ego-driven behavior, God’s compassion is awaiting us with Christ’s open and holy love. We are invited today to become one with that sacred heart.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to find different versions of these verses, we explore God’s transparent plan for our good, and the good of all creation.  

The original definition of hypocrite is “actor”. (See Merriam-Webster at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/hypocrite-meaning-origin) For interesting thoughts on hypocrisy, click the image of masks above. 

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Isaiah: Restoration


Isaiah: Restoration

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Keeping each of you in prayer while I am away from electronics. Holding you in prayer at noon each day.

We rise, put on our strength and let the bonds fall away from our necks.

We are an Easter People. We examine ourselves. We investigate the brokenness and sorrow. We lean on one another. We accept the fact that we must trust God alone. We find the comfort of Christ in others who share our grief. We are the compassion of Christ for one another as we respond to the grief in those around us. We wait through the darkness in active and hopeful patience . . . and then, just as promised, we are restored. The promise we know we were destined to live is fulfilled.

When we use the scripture link and commentary to explore this prophecy, we find hope in the darkness, the promise of restoration, and the fulfillment we seek. 

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Ezekiel 43: God’s Glory Returns

archway-roman-ruins-tyre-lebanon_12240_600x450

National Geographic: Ruins of Roman Archway in Tyre, Lebanon

Thursday, May 25, 2017

As a counterbalance to the description of the downfall of Tyre on which we have reflected before, today we have a description of the temple in the New Jerusalem. What we see described here is God living with all of the Israelites forever. The man leading the prophet through this beautiful scenario says: Describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple – its arrangements, its exits and entrances – its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations. This portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy is full of detailed descriptions of the place and the people who make up this new city where God dwells forever with his people. It was meant to both instruct and to bring comfort to those who lived in exile with this prophet. The footnotes in the NAB point out that in the new Israel the temple is free, even physically, from civil jurisdiction – moving away from the habit of corrupt kings like Ahaz and Manasseh who treated it as a private chapel for pagan rites.

Jerusalem _ Old City Walls _ Noam Chen_IMOT

Noam Chen: Old City of  Jerusalem

When Jesus arrived on the scene hundreds of years later as the true Messiah, he upset much of this separatist and purist thinking. It was for his openness and universality that he was hunted down, condemned and put to death.  Because his new Law of Love fulfilled and superseded the old Law of Moses, he and his apostles were hounded out of towns and executed. Even in the early Christian church we see the struggle with this idea of openness and universality with the first Council which convened in Jerusalem to determine the importance of circumcision as a requirement for church membership. After discussion, and when the dust settles, we read in Acts that circumcision was not determined necessary.  God’s church is open to Gentile and Jew, slave or free, woman or man – to all those who will be faithful to the Covenant first established with Adam and Eve.

This is how we see the New Temple and the New Jerusalem as revealed by Ezekiel millennia ago. This place of worship where God dwells is where we live even today . . . if we might only choose to open our eyes and ears to it. This prophet was painting a picture of radiance for his exiled peope, and they must have taken heart at the memories these words stirred of how it is to gather together as Yahweh’s faithful to repent, to petition, to give thanks, to worship.

As Easter people who believe in the Resurrected Jesus, we too, can relax into these images and make them our own. We can carry them into the world with us each day as we encounter and then counter the darkness that wishes to prevail. We can arm ourselves with these pictures of the universal gathering of all of God’s People . . . the Faithful to the Covenant . . . the Hopeful in all things hopeless . . . the Truthful in all relationships . . . the Struggling with the cares of this world . . . the Freed who have escaped the chains of doubt and anxiety. For we are Easter people who live the Resurrection even now. For God’s Glory has returned in us . . . in our willingness to serve . . . our willingness to be vulnerable . . . our willingness to witness . . . our willingness to be Christ and Light and Truth to a world struggling to be free of the darkness.

This is God’s Plan. This is God’s Design. This is God’s Law.

Amen.  Alleluia!

A Favorite from April 13, 2008.

For a Noontime reflection on Tyre, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/09/18/tyre/ 

For more National Geographic images of Lebanon, click on the image above. 

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

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Paul Gustave Doré: Jesus and the Disciples Going to Emmaus

We know that Christ walks with us each as we move along our pilgrimage way to the Easter resurrection. Would Christ speak to us as he speaks to the Emmaus disciples? Would he find us as open and as blind as the Emmaus believers? And would he linger with us even as we linger with him?

We look at THE MESSAGE translation of Jesus’ words to his disciples, and we explore our own connection with Christ.

So thick-headed! So slow-hearted!

Do we see ourselves as open or closed to the Good News story that everyone is a child of God, everyone is saved, everyone is healed?

Why can’t you simply believe all that the prophets said?

Do we resist the kingdom with great vigor and ignore the message of life with studied nonchalance?

Don’t you see that these things had to happen, that the Messiah had to suffer and only then enter into his glory?

Do we step away from obstacles and move toward comfort?

Then [Jesus] started at the beginning, with the Books of Moses, and went on through all the Prophets, pointing out everything in the Scriptures that referred to him.

The Nain Brothers: The Supper at Emmaus

Do we spend time with Scripture or decide that our days are too busy, our nights too long to turn to the simple words inspired by the Spirit?

Didn’t we feel on fire as he conversed with us on the road, as he opened up the Scriptures for us?

Like the Emmaus disciples, do we recognize the one who lives and teaches among us? Do we return to Jerusalem to share both joy and tribulation with those who know the Easter story? And do we allow our Emmaus conversion to last a lifetime of hoping and loving in Christ?

When we compare various translations of the Emmaus story, we open our hearts to the sorrow and joy of the Easter story.

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Luke 24:36-49: Aftermath – Part II

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Rembrandt: Emmaus Pilgrims

Rembrandt: Christ at Emmaus

The eleven huddle in fear for their lives when the Emmaus disciples burst into the room telling of their resurrection experience with Jesus.  We can imagine the juxtaposition of the Emmaus joy and the Calgary fear . . . these disciples are living two different aftermath experiences . . . and then Jesus appears to affirm the truth: that what they have hoped for has come to fulfillment . . . he is risen!  Then the disciples hear the true call of the aftermath.  This call is not that troubles will fall away from Christ’s workers . . . but rather that these workers will bring the same hope to others that Jesus has brought to them.  The light has come to the world in fullness just as they had expected.

And so it also with us.  The aftermath that Jesus foretells is already surrounding us.  Perhaps we just cannot see this duality yet that the light has come to the world in fullness just as we have expected.

Several times a year we visit the ending of Luke’s Gospel during our Noontime reflections.  Perhaps we need this aftermath reminder that often.  Just a few weeks ago we spent some time thinking about the Emmaus people on the road with Christ.  Today we see them harbinger the news to the eleven that the Christ has risen.  The light has come to the world in fullness just as they had expected.

We seem to always need reminding that the paradox of the Easter story is that we are free even though we do not always feel free; yet the very act of our doubt becomes an act of faith because the light has come to the world in fullness just as we have expected.

We seem to always need reminding that the hope of Easter is fulfilled in us; we bring that message to one another on dark days because the light has come to the world in fullness just as we have expected.

We seem to always need reminding that the love of Christ sustains us in all we do and think and say; we offer ourselves as victims each day in his love because the light has come to the world in fullness just as we have expected.

We are Easter People, yearning for the goodness of life and perfection in God; and we live that goodness and perfection because the light has come to the world in fullness just as we have expected.

Is this the aftermath we have expected from the Easter story?  Yes it is, because the light has come to the world in fullness just as we have expected.

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

A favorite from April 28, 2009.

For more reflections on this special encounter with Christ, enter the word Emmaus into the blog search bar.

 

 

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Luke 24:36-49: Aftermath – Part I

Saturday, June 4, 201612351-Jesus_Hands_Resurrected.1200w.tn

The eleven enter into the fullness of the Easter message thanks to their encounter with the resurrected Jesus.  They discover through him the profound meaning of the Scriptures and he sends them into the world as witnesses to preach conversion and the forgiveness of sins for all.  For this enormous work, the disciples encounter the Spirit as told in the first chapter of Acts.  (La Biblia 1595)

The Easter story is at once both beautiful and burdensome.  It is the news we long to hear: we are saved.  It is the work we often feel unable to accomplish: we fear that we are not up to the work because of our own under-nourishment or lack of faith, hope or charity.  In our dual state, we might cling to the words of Jesus recorded by Matthew (10:22)You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.

This is not the aftermath we expected.  This is not the result we anticipated from the unfolding of the Good News.  We were thinking that obstacles might become stepping stones, that hands might be held, wounds cured, scars healed.  We were hoping that dark spirits might dissipate, cruel forces fall away.  We were anticipating that the light might come to the world in fullness.

Tomorrow,  aftermath . . . just as we suspected . . .

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

A favorite from April 28, 2009.

 

 

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Jeremiah 7:23-28: Easter People

Second Sunday of Easter, April 3, 2016

Maestro Juan Flores runs the healing center at the Mayantuyacu Boiling River

Maestro Juan Flores runs the healing center at the Mayantuyacu Boiling River

We are created for love, structured in hope, and formed in renewal. We are Easter People.

The prophet Jeremiah reminds the faithful that God does not delight in burnt offerings but looks for softened hearts and open minds. Through Jeremiah, God asks for our obedience in listening to God’s word. Through Jeremiah, God speaks of putting away our mule-stubbornness and renewing the truth of God’s word. In this Eastertide, we have the opportunity to take a new look at how we have loved all of God’s creation, including the world around us. And we have the opportunity to examine whether or not we listen to or take in the word of God. We have the opportunity again to be who we are . . . Easter people.

Piers Sellers aboard the International Space Station

Piers Sellers aboard the Space Station

See Fareed Zakaria’s CNN GPS 360 interview with Piers Sellers, scientist and astronaut who has been diagnosed with a terminal illness and who pledges to spend the rest of his days renewing the earth. http://www.cnn.com/videos/tv/2016/03/18/exp-gps-sellers-sot.cnn

Is there a boiling river in the Amazon jungle in an area that has no volcanic activity? Watch or listen to this Ted Talk given by Andrés Ruzo to discover how God calls us to consider the power of creation.  https://www.ted.com/talks/andres_ruzo_how_i_found_a_mythical_boiling_river_in_the_amazon?language=en  

 

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April 23, 2014 – John 20:19-23

upper room

Rado Jovar: The Upper Room

Easter is an eight day celebration beginning on Easter Sunday, running through the Easter Octave and ending on the Second Sunday of Easter. This tradition reflects the joy the early apostles felt as they experienced the new presence of the Risen Christ. Jesus offers us this same experience today. Wishing all those who follow the Noontimes a graced and peace-filled Easter Wednesday.

There are many times in our lives when we feel complete and whole, when we want to celebrate life’s goodness, when we want to share the good news we have heard and seen and touched for ourselves. An event causes us to fully understand that we are a small part of an enormous whole. Deep in our innermost core we believe that we bring a unique and necessary hope to the world. We look for a loved one, friend or colleague with who we might share the story of our Easter newness. We throw ourselves into play or work, fully willing to follow the gentle leader who stands waiting before us, saying . . .

 Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.

In our newly-found Easter selves, we step forward to participate in God’s plan.

The disciples work and play and pray with Christ; they see his story unfold before them and still they are startled to see that they have an integral part in God’s plan of salvation. Let us reflect on the Christ’s call . . . and let us determine to be true Easter people who go where we are sent. For further reflection, read the post entitled I send you on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/04/03/i-send-you/

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