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Posts Tagged ‘endurance’


Wednesday, October 14, 2020

you are forgivenPsalm 32:1-2

Remission

Happy the one whose fault is forgiven, whose sin is blotted out; happy the one whom Yahweh accuses of no guilt, whose spirit is incapable of deceit!

Each of us knows that we are imperfect. Each day we struggle with the temptation to react in anger, to share gossip, to judge, to allow envy to take us over. And yet we also hope to stand blameless before the creator. The miracle of God’s goodness and greatness brings us this opportunity for redemption, this offer of remission.

God says: I do not want you to hide from me because you know you have been unpleasant, unhelpful or even angry with others. I do not want you to believe that the obstacles you see between you and me are insurmountable. Rather, I want you to bring your fears, your worries and your imperfections to  me. Together we will lift them. I promise to take on the heaviest of loads. There is no wrong you can describe to me that will make me shudder. My patience and forgiveness are bottomless; my love and hope are limitless; my yearning to have you close to me is unbearable. Come to me so that we can lay aside all that bothers and frightens you. 

God knows us too well to expect that we will never err. God loves too well to leave us by the wayside.

Christ loves us so well that he removes all guilt with a healing look. Christ seeks us so fervently that all blemish and all imperfection fall away with a healing touch.

No threat of guile or deceit is too much for the Spirit to transform. No rumor of sin is so enduring that the Spirit will not outlast it.

Let us put aside our fear and go to God that we might receive the gift of remission.

Tomorrow, the effects of remaining silent.


Image from: https://holycrossrumson.typepad.com/pastor/2018/08/forgive-us-our-trespasses-as-we-forgive-those.html

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Tuesday, October 6, 2020

ladder-in-the-darkness[1]2 Peter 2:5

Making Every Effort

Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, virtue with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with devotion, devotion with mutual affection, mutual affection with love.  

Peter shows a stairway we might climb as we grow in our understanding of how we might live according to The Law of Love Christ opens for us. He begins with the concept of faith, a gift given by God that empowers us to believe that which we cannot see or hear or touch or smell but which we have every reason to believe. When we are weary and our faith flags, we bolster belief with virtue, or good and moral behavior. When we feel tempted to toss all morality to the winds we strengthen ourselves by studying the Word and gaining knowledge. When this knowledge is not enough to encourage us we must control our urge to throw spiritual tantrums like those who are just beginning their journey.  We reinforce our dwindling self-control by enduring, by running the race to the end. We boost endurance by remaining loyal to God no matter our circumstances.  This devotion may also need strengthening and if this is so . . . we turn to one for shared sustenance, for mutual affection. And when this is not enough . . . we turn to God for Christ’s endless, limitless and eternal gift of love.

God says: Peter has shown you a ladder you might climb, yet I know that for many of you this work is too arduous. So do not worry, my little ones. If you are too weak I will carry you. If you are too sad I will bring you joy. If you are too alone I will send you a companion. If you are too frightened I will calm your personal storm. Make every effort as best you can. Call on me. My hands and feet, arms and legs will do the rest. Peter offers you his own ladder. Put your foot on the first rung and bolster your faith.

Click on the links to find definitions of these steps in Peter’s ladder and reflect on how these rungs lead us up and out of darkness.


Image from: http://mymorningmeditations.com/2012/03/15/an-invitation-from-god/

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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

tr-corpus-christi-tabgha[1]John 21: 11

Spiritual Stamina

We spent Easter Week reflecting on the 21st Chapter of John’s Gospel and the implications it has for our modern lives.  The Resurrected Christ appears to the disheartened apostles who have returned to their nets and the sea in their confusion after the events in Jerusalem during their Passover time.  Christ had returned to the Upper Room where they had all shared that last meal before Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, and Jesus’ faithful followers – much like us – rejoiced with Christ’s revelation of himself.  Now they feel a bit empty and flat when little in their lives appears to have changed significantly or for the better in any way at all.  And so they go back to what they know . . . and their world changes irreparably when Christ appears again on the shore of the sea.

The apostles sling their nets over the water another time as the man on the shore asks and although they have been casting for hours and have caught nothing . . . the nets come up full to bursting.  And miraculously even though there were so many fish, the net does not break. 

During Eastertide we have explored the burdens and rewards of discipleship.  We have examined the costs and the benefits of following Christ.  We have evaluated the requirements and gifts of living as disciples and we have sometimes found that we have no stomach and little energy to persist in the journey.  We hunger, we thirst, we ache, we tire, we stagger and flag under our perceived burden and yet . . . we return each morning to our Sisyphean task.  Despite our exhaustion, deep within we know that Christ continues to sustain.  We know that he fills our nets daily.  And we see that the nets have not torn.  This is, indeed, a marvelous God.

Paul understands this condition of amazed exhaustion when he writes to the Romans – and to us: We even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance proven character, and proven character hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  (Romans 5:3-5)

Today, as we celebrate the real presence of Christ among us we turn to this intimate friend and brother who knows us so well, and we place all our worries and delights, all our anxieties and joys, all our fears and celebrations in his able arms.  We fall into this threefold God who protects, saves and sustains, and we pray . . .

Dearest and most precious God present in us,

Although we tire we are not beaten, so living in the life of Christ, we rejoice in our exhaustion.  You have filled our nets again and we know that we cannot pull them from the sea without you.

Although we lack so much we are not lost, so living in the life of the Spirit, we celebrate our poverty.  You have given us all the resources we will ever need and we know that we cannot discern them without you.

Although we have no stamina we find ourselves rising to new mornings, and living in the goodness of God, and so we praise you.  We find ourselves each day with grateful hearts and we know that we cannot live without you.

Remind us that although our nets are full . . . they will never tear.  Although our limbs are weary . . . they will never fail.  Although our hearts are broken . . . they will never be empty.  Amen.


A re-post from June 2, 2013. 

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Easter Sunday, April 12, 2013

1 Peter 1

lambs[1]The Gift and Call of God

As we celebrate this holiest of days, we continue with our Easter reflections from 2013. Today much of the world is locked in battle with a virus we cannot see with our eyes or hear with our ears. Just as the Israelites hunkered down to await the passing of the death that struck down the first born, so too do we wait in God’s presence and hope. Just as heroes in each time of calamity rise to erect and defend barricades against annihilating enemies, so too do our heroes drive through fear in God’s promise and call. Today we remember that promise and call of so many Easters passed. We remember the peace of so many Easter miracles. We remember the healing that always arrives after catastrophe. 

We have witnessed the miracle of Easter. We have seen the risen Lord.  We have accompanied the disciples as they watch and await the call to kingdom building.  We have witnessed the return and redemption of the apostle Peter.  Today and tomorrow we reflect on the gift and call of God – love freely given, Word openly amidst us.  We turn to the opening of the first of Peter’s letters and examine his message.

In a homily this morning, Bishop Newman pointed out that Jesus’ apostles awaited his second coming as a physical one.  They most likely expected Jesus to return in the same way he had returned after his resurrection.  This second coming did not take place in their lifetimes; scholars will tell us that this second coming takes place in the life of each of us.  This thinking makes Peter’s words to us today all the more immediate:  We wait for and hasten the coming of the day of God . . .  He suggests to us today that we implement faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, devotion, and mutual love in order that we might persevere without becoming discouraged.  The Bishop reminded us that we might re-read these words when we are exhausted from waiting, when apostolic witnessing has taken its toll, when prophecy seems a dim memory.

Peter tells us that his words are altogether reliable.  We know the persistence he mustered in order to continue telling Christ’s story against so much disbelief and opposition.  He denied the Christ three times on the night of Jesus’ crucifixion; after the resurrection he thrice affirmed that Jesus was the Son of the Living God . . . and for this loyalty he was asked to feed God’s lambs, to feed God’s sheep.  So when we are asked – as Peter was asked – Do you truly love me? how will we respond to this gift?  And when we are asked – as Peter was asked – Feed my sheep, how will we answer this call?  Are we willing to endure?  Are we able to remain?  Can we put ourselves at risk?  Will we extend ourselves to others?

We have received a great gift, the gift of life.  We have received a great call, the call to eternal life.  Let us consider what we have before us.  Let us look to the example of Peter.  And let us be genuine and authentic in our reply.


A re-posted favorite from Easter Week 2013. First written on June 1, 2010. Edited and posted today as a Favorite.

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Monday, March 16, 2020

Matthew 26:69-75: Peter

Caravaggio: Peter's Denial

Caravaggio: Peter’s Denial

You too were with the Galilean. 

The gift of courage is needed to speak as the Gospel calls us.  The gift of endurance carries us through dark nights when we doubt that we can live up to the hope God has placed in us.  The gift of discernment aides us in distinguishing rumor from truth.  The gift of patience empowers us to wait upon Wisdom.  The gift of faith protects us from our fears.  The gift of compassion shields us from hatred and vengeance.  The gift of serenity forestalls anger.  The gift of love teaches us that the Spirit abides.

He went out and he began to weep bitterly.

One of the wonderful results of reading this story is that we see Peter, the rock upon which Christ builds God’s church, finds his circumstances overwhelming.  There are times during Lent when we turn inward to take an honest assessment of ourselves when we may be overcome with a strong negative emotion that drives us away from all we believe.  When this happens we ought to remember Peter.

The death of someone dear, the loss of a treasured job, the end of a cherished relationship . . . these ordinary life experiences become huge to us and they cut too close.  Fear closes in, anger erupts, or depression and a sense of hopelessness take over.  We experience a roller coaster of emotion and want nothing more than to collapse into some safe harbor where we can refuge until we recover.

We are called to speak out but we are too frightened.  We are asked to join a Gospel cause in solidarity and we politely decline.  Our colleagues ask us to join them as they take a risk for the common good.  A family member asks us to help with an overdue intervention.  We ignore addictions and bad behavior.  We look away when we ought to look closely.  We preserve ourselves when we ought to be working to preserve the kingdom.

Peter was called to great heights and turned away; but later in this same story when Christ asks him three times, “Do you love me?” Peter responds quickly, passionately and with no shadow of embarrassment or reluctance.

Peter tells us that each of us will fail at one time or another.  Peter tells us that we will weep bitterly.  And Peter tells us that there is always an opportunity to turn and return to God.


To read about Peter’s return, go to John 21:15-19.

A re-post from March 16, 2013. 

Image from: http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/cas/his/CoreArt/art/bar_cvggo_deny.html

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Second Sunday of Lent, March 8, 2020

Hosea 10: False Heart, True Heart

heart-nature-mark-kazav[1]False oaths, fake alliances, evil intrigues, any means to achieve an end: this is what Hosea sees in his community.  The kingdom of David has been divided in two.  Elijah, Elisha, and Amos have warned the people; Isaiah and Micah will add their prophetic words of warning.  Hosea finds himself seeing clearly the devastation that awaits this false-hearted people.   He is ignored.

Yet . . . Hosea persists, telling us that we are people meant to worship God, meant to take the yoke upon fair neck, to thresh, to be harnessed by the plow of the true God with a true heart.  We are created to be workers in the vineyard, to sow justice and reap piety, we are meant to break new fields so that the rain of God’s justice might bring forth new fruit.

Hosea warns that those who have sown discord and wickedness will reap perversity and eat of the fruit of falsehood.  Turmoil will break out among those who have trusted their warriors and chariots rather than trusting God.  The fortresses carefully built against the needs of the world will be tumbled and ravaged; the false hearts who take advantage of the poor will be lost in the utter destruction.  Hosea predicts all of this and does not succumb to the darkness of the world.  He does not surrender to the pressures around him, he endures.

Like Hosea, we might want God’s justice to be clearly visible in the present; we may want all of Hosea’s predictions about false hearts to materialize in an instant.  Those who seek a settling of scores may wish God’s integrity to rain down on those who sit on comfortable couches to contrive wicked plots.  They will want to see a world of integrity replace the world of falsehood they experience.  Yet this is the message of Christ: God has sent one of true heart and true words, one of promises kept and miracles revealed.  God has sent Jesus to live among us.  Lent tells us that the possibility of living a genuine life is here – now – this day.   We need only turn to God and to open our eyes to see.

If we are dissatisfied with the speed of God’s coming or if we doubt that God is even here among us, we must look first to ourselves to begin kingdom-building.  We must examine our own hearts to see if we remain in truth no matter the social consequence.  We must cease the gossip, cease the controlling, and cease the lusting after outcomes, fame, possessions, power and people.  We must amend our ability – and our willingness – to ignore reality.  We must change our hearts so that we do not succumb to the social pressure to acquire goods, dominance or a sense of superiority.  We must nurture our desire to share, our yearning to heal, and our aspiration for peace.  We must ask God to transform the falsehood in our own hearts so that we might receive goodness from God.  We must be open to the reality of the Lenten message that all are welcome.  Welcome into Christ’s own, open heart.

With endurance, with fidelity, and with honesty the prophecy of Hosea will fully arrive.  And thus the false hearts of the world will become the true heart of Christ.

Let us ask for the coming of this kingdom.


Image from: http://fineartamerica.com/featured/heart-nature-mark-kazav.html

First written on Wednesday, December 22, 2010.  Revised and posted today as a Favorite.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Hosea 9Exile Without Worship

Francesco Hayez: Ephraim

Francesco Hayez: Ephraim

Chapter 9 of Hosea is a picture of the Jewish people and in particular Ephraim, the largest tribe in Israel and one of the first to be taken into exile where they cannot offer sacrifices. Over a period of several hundred years, Ephraim is divided and carted off north to Babylon and south to Egypt. Hosea sees the corruption and nepotism in the structure and so he calls for reform and as a priest himself, he sees the importance of honest and sincere worship and he understands how the absence of worship will impact the people when they are carried into exile.  Yet, Hosea also knows the promise of God’s enduring love and that although the people will stray God will not.  Hosea enacts this belief through his enduring love for Gomer, and he persists in worshiping his God . . . even in exile.

If we continue our Lenten journey with Hosea we will rise from the despair to encounter beautiful words of covenant and union.  And so, like Hosea we remain in faith.

If we linger over the imagery of marriage as the model of God’s relationship with each of us we will discover the courage and joy of hope.  And so, like Hosea we arise in hope.

If we plod along our own Jerusalem Road to follow the words of Hosea we will find secure refuge in our own relationship with God.  And so, like Hosea we abide in love.

Through the allegory of his marriage to Gomer, Hosea lightens our load so that we find the strength to respond to this call to a special, intense, fruitful and honest bond.  Just as Hosea persists in calling out to Gomer he also persists in reminding us of this message no matter how much and how often we ignore him.  And so Hosea speaks to us today.

We have separated ourselves from God and from one another in big and little ways. Hosea says that God waits with open arms. All we need do is repent and turn to God . . . and offer up our open and honest worship.


For more information about the man Ephraim, go to: http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/p131.htm

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephraim

First written on March 26, 2007. Re-written and posted yesterday and today as a Favorite.

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2 Chronicles 10: Ignoring Advice

Friday, October 11, 2019

Sometimes the advice we receive from others is worthless; sometimes it is pure gold.  The difficulty in life is to discern when to heed which words.  This can be resolved when we decide to draw on God’s wisdom  as our primary source of advice, and then allow the words of our family and friends to fill in the gaps of what we believe to be God’s message.

We may have difficulty hearing the Word within; if so, we may want to practice the art of listening a bit more until we have formed well-trodden spiritual pathways to God and back.

We may have difficulty feeling the Word of God resonate within; if so, we may want to practice feeling empathy for those unlike us a bit more until we have taught our hearts more of God’s language.

We may have difficulty expressing  the Word of God to others; if so, we may want to find a trusted friend who will serve as a sounding board for our thoughts.

We may have difficulty witnessing to the Word of God in a public way; if so, we may want to spend time with Scripture to see how others have done so through the ages.

Communication in any form does not come easily.  It takes practice.  Finding trustworthy sources of wisdom of any kind is a challenge.  It takes persistence.  Acting in a manner that matches our beliefs for any reason is difficult at best.  It takes authenticity.  Speaking in a way that calls others to Christ in any way is complicated.  It takes fidelity.  Listening in a way that leads us to good, solid decision-making is taxing.  It takes endurance.

All of this patience and compassion is too much for us humans, we say, and yet . . . we know what happens when we take the advice that suits us at the moment but does not challenge us.  We know what happens when we ignore God’s call and go our own way.  We know what happens when we are silent or when we do not act when and as we ought.

The choice before these young men in today’s Noontime is clear.  We see their example.  Do we follow it?  Or do we follow Christ?


Written on September 15, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

To find a Daily Bible Reading Plan, visit: https://www.biblegateway.com/reading-plans/?version=NIV

Or create a plan of your own by beginning with Acts . . . but read each day . . . and listen . . .

Image from: http://niagaranissan.com/ 

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Nehemiah 1 and 2: Rebuilding Walls

The Damascus Gate by night in Jerusalem

Thursday, October 12, 2017

We visit with Nehemiah several times a year and each time we rediscover the themes of covenant, restoration, and rebuilding.  Today’s reading takes us to the beginning of the restoration of Jerusalem after the northern invasion and the Babylonian exile.  This book was written in about 430 B.C.E. and as it begins, we see Nehemiah, the Jewish man who serves as Cupbearer to the foreign king.  Footnotes tell us this means that he was an important official who was allowed to come into the presence of not only the king but the queen as well.  This would suggest that he was a eunuch but there is no evidence to support that fact.  What we do understand is that he was highly placed in this foreign administration and we can guess, when we see his skills displayed throughout this story that he rose to that position through his skill.  But there is an important element to this story. Nehemiah prayed constantly, and this praying kept him connected intimately with his creator.  Nehemiah called on God continually for direction, and God gave direction to this good and loyal servant.

As the story begins, news arrives with several Jewish men who have just come from Judah, from Jerusalem.  The news is not good; but filled with courage and a love of his God, Nehemiah responds to his creator’s call and so it is with a mixture of trepidation and courage that he goes to the king. As we read, we find several interesting points.

  • Today’s reading begins in the month of Chislev – the same month in which we will later see (in the year 165 B.C.E.) the celebration of the re-dedication of the temple which we were reading and reflecting about some days ago. We too are in the month of Chislev, and the celebration of Hannukah was just completed this week. The Festival of Light – the season of a small shaft of light piercing the intense darkness.
  • Should you prove faithless, I will scatter you among the nations; but should you return to me and carefully keep my commandments, even though your outcasts have been driven to the farthest corner of the world, I will gather them from there, and bring them back to the place which I have chosen as the dwelling place for my name. This is the covenant promise which Jesus fulfills four centuries later and which he continues to fulfill for us each day.
  • Nehemiah not only asks permission to visit his former city, he also asks for soldiers, protection, and permission to fell trees with which to rebuild the city and gates, and a house for himself. He does not do things by half-measures; he is totally and truly dedicated to God in temperance, patience, endurance and perseverance.

Tomorrow, arriving in Jerusalem.

Adapted from a Favorite written during Advent, on December 15, 2007

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