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Posts Tagged ‘endurance’


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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Luke 1:46-55: The Inverted Kingdom – Part XI

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Raphael: Madonna della Sedia

Raphael: Madonna della Sedia

Today, when thousands of women converge on the U.S. capital, we explore Mary’s Prayer. A link for more information on the gathering follows this post. 

In days of political and civil turmoil, Mary the Mother of God reminds us how to pray

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my savior.

In times of family strife and confusion, Mary the Mother of God gives us words we might repeat.

For God has looked with favor on his lowly servant.

In the hour when friends become enemies and colleagues become strangers, Mary the Mother of God shows us the mind of God.

The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name.

Mary the Mother of God reminds us that God is more loving than we can imagine, more patient and compassionate than all of humanity gathered together.

The LORD has mercy on those who love God in every generation.

magnificatMary the Mother of God tells us that we have nothing to fear.

The LORD has shown the strength of God’s arm.

Mary the Mother of God asks us to put aside our pride to take up love.

God has scattered the proud in their conceit.

Mary the Mother of God shows us that power and might are as nothing.

The LORD has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.

Mary the Mother of God tells us that God alone sustains for an eternity.

The LORD has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich God has sent away empty.

Mary the Mother of God reminds us that God is persistent, God is faithful, and God is hope.

The LORD has come to the rescue of God’s servant, for God has remembered the promise of mercy, the promise made to Abraham and his children forever.

madona-morenaMary the Mother of God reminds us how to enter into and act in the world. Mary calls us to goodness, endurance, and love. In times, days, and hours when the world fails us, we might return to Mary’s MAGNIFICAT to amplify our love of God as we pray with her these words.

When we explore varying translations of these verses, we open ourselves to the healing power of Mary’s joy and thanksgiving.

In the Liturgy of the Hours, the Church’s great communal prayer, the MAGNIFICAT is part of Vespers, or Evensong. For more information on this prayer and how it parallel’s the prayer of Hannah, visit: http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/meditation-on-the-magnificat

For more on the Liturgy of the Hours and how each of us might join our voices with millions of others by pausing briefly a few times a day, visit The Liturgy of the Hours page on this blog.

For more on Raphael’s image of the Madonna and Child, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.everypainterpaintshimself.com/article/raphaels_madonna_della_sedia_1513-14 

Women gather in Washington, D.C. in solidarity for the protection of their rights, safety, health, and families, they recognize that vibrant and diverse communities are the strength of their country. https://www.womensmarch.com/ and https://www.eventbrite.com/e/womens-march-on-washington-official-tickets-29428287801 https://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/21/us/womens-march.html?_r=0

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Romans 5:1-8: Develop Patience

Friday, December 2, 2016patience-trust-faith

Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (NSRV)

Avoiding sorrow, we forfeit an opportunity to grow in God’s love.

Rejecting obstacles, we lose our intimacy with Christ.

Refusing to see that goodness overcomes harm, we reject the healing touch of the Spirit.

Surviving through faith, we receive hope.

Living in Christ, we experience peace and grace.

Handing ourselves over to God’s offer of love, we grow in endurance.

Resting in grief, we blossom in grace to develop patience that carries us home.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus, we come to see that adversity trains us in the development of patience, a patience that will serve us in our journey home. For another reflection on Patienceclick on the image above or visit: https://www.worldslastchance.com/biblical-christian-beliefs/patience-of-the-saints.html 

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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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John 20: God’s Yardstick – Mary of Magdala

Andrea Solario or Bernardino Luini: Mary Magdalene

Andrea Solario or Bernardino Luini: Mary Magdalene (The Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, MD)

Absolute Fidelity

Monday, January 11, 2016

In these opening days of a new year, we look for ways to better see God’s yardstick in our lives, and for ways to leave the world’s yardstick behind.

There are many places to explore the story of Mary Magdalene but perhaps we need only look at one – her response to the death and resurrection of Jesus. Surely her fidelity and openness to Christ’s healing presence are models we might follow.

Much has been written of this woman and we can guess that nearly all is conjecture. We began our exploration of women who serve as God’s measuring stick with Mary the mother of Jesus. Today we close this portion of our reflections with the other most significant woman in Jesus’ life. This must be admitted even if we believe that the Magdalene was a reformed prostitute or had recovered from epilepsy by Jesus’ healing hand. Whether we believe she was a camp-follower, a friend, a companion or a spouse, we need only to read John’s account of the resurrection story to understand that her devotion to Jesus governed her life.

Van der Weyden: The Deposition of Christ or Desxcent from the Cross (The Pradoi Museum, Madrid, Spain)

Van der Weyden: The Deposition of Christ or Descent from the Cross (The Prado Museum, Madrid, Spain) Mary Magdalene to the far right

On the day following Shabbat she returns to the tomb to embalm Jesus’ body, braving any punishment she might experience at Roman or Jewish hands. Her reward is an encounter she did not expect. The Magdalene does not hold this good news to herself; rather, she runs to tell the others that Christ is still among them and is waiting to meet them in Galilee. She also runs to tell us that Christ is with us and is waiting within our own broken hearts. Just as Mary the Mother brings the presence of God into the world, so do does Mary of Magdala bring his story to us. It is for this reason alone that we easily look to her life as a persistent, enduring, loving measure of God’s love.

For Smithsonian articles that uncover the mystery of The Magdalene and the places Jesus lived and worked and prayed, visit: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/who-was-mary-magdalene-119565482/?no-ist or http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/unearthing-world-jesus-180957515/ Use the Smithsonian site to search for more information about these people and places.

For information about each of these paintings, their provenance, the artists and the symbolism, click on the images or visit: http://hubpages.com/art/Rogier-Van-Der-Weyden-Descent-From-The-Cross and http://art.thewalters.org/detail/37520/mary-magdalen/ 

For more reflections on Mary Magdalene, enter her name into the blog search bar and explore.

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Hosea 10False Heart, True Heart

Wednesday, December 23, 2015heart leaf on stone

A favorite from December 22, 2010.

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 . . . but he is ignored.

Yet Hosea persists, telling us that we are people meant to worship God, we are 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 fruit.

Hosea warns that those who have sowed 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 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 Advent: the one of true heart and true words, the one of promises kept and miracles revealed has come to live among us.  Advent tells us that the possibility of living a genuine life is here – now – this day.   We need only open our eyes to see.

CrossHeartLogo11-300x289If 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, 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 or supremacy.  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 the goodness from his.  We must be open to the reality of Advent.

In this way – with endurance, with fidelity, and with honesty – the prophecy of Hosea will arrive fully.  And in this way the false hearts of the world will become the true heart of Christ.

 

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Matthew 5:7: The Mercifulmercy

April 13, 2015

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. (Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount)

Perhaps endurance is the quality we most need if we are to be merciful servants. Endurance indicates our fidelity and perseverance. Endurance reinforces our strength and courage. Endurance in Christ, remaining in the Spirit, commitment to God  . . . all of this endurance in God brings us the gift of mercy.

We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful. (James 5:11)

It is so difficult to wait for mercy when we need it. It is so difficult to show compassion when we are betrayed; yet Jesus tells us so often that we are forgiven as we forgive. In Psalm 55, the psalmist tells us that when we are betrayed by one near to us – our own intimate friend – we must continue in mercy, even when this seems impossible, by enduring through and with and in God. On this Easter Tuesday let us reflect on the mercy we have granted those who wrong us. Let us remember the mercy we seek in our daily lives. And let us determine to cast our burden upon the broad shoulders of the Lord, for they are wide and broad and ready to take on all that we have to offer.

Tomorrow, the clean of heart.

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Friday, November 22, 2013

Wolf in sheep's clothing[1]Matthew 7:15-16

Sheep and Wolves

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but underneath are ravenous wolves.  By their fruits you will know them. 

It is not difficult to think of the wolves dressed as sheep whom we have encountered in our lives.  The difficulty comes when we examine the times we may have been the wolves.

God says: Some times when you see sheep they are just sheep; at other times they are wolves who have cleverly disguised themselves.  I know that many of you are frightened by the truth that these wolves hides among the children of light.  Do not be afraid of false prophets for they cannot harm you; they prepare you in a bizarre way to discern good from bad.  Your gut reaction is often accurate but at times the disguise is so clever and the costume fits so well that you cannot discern the practiced deception.  At other times these false ones present themselves with an oft-rehearsed role so they are impossible to mark.  The mask is perfect and well cast.  The speech refined.  The gestures practiced to perfection.  Yet their fruits will expose them.   It may take quite a long time but in the end . . . the imposter reveals himself.

Our culture prepares us for superficial encounters but does not give us the tools of discernment, perspicacity or prudence.  We regard speed and change as gifts.  Patience, endurance and farsighted-ness have little value. For the former we look to the world.  For the latter we must apply to Wisdom.  For tools that sustain forever rather than a mere season . . . we go to God.   When seen through the prism of the Spirit, wolves are quickly seen as hiding in sheep’s clothing.

Enter the words false prophet in the blog search bar and explore how wolves disguise themselves.

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

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.

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