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Posts Tagged ‘Eucharist’


Ezra 3: Joy and Worship – A Reprise from November 2014

Thursday, October 5, 2017

We move further into scripture looking for stories of joy that continue to surprise us. To explore other stories, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our story is taken from the Book of Ezra.

After the Babylonian captivity and exile, after the scattering of the twelve tribes to the corners of the known earth, after the loss of hope that those who go out weeping will return rejoicing . . . the faithful receive word that they are to return to Jerusalem.  Two leaders, Ezra and Nehemiah, the priest and the administrator, lead the faithful in a journey of reunion and transformation. As with all people who remain open to the power of the Spirit and the healing of God’s presence, these returning exiles gather to worship Yahweh once again. And they know great joy in abundance.

Ezra 3:12: Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.

James Tissot: Jesus Unrolls the Book in the Synagogue 

Can we imagine the sound of joy that might rise to the skies if we were to thank God for all that we have and all that we are? Can we fathom the power we already hold in our minds and hands if we give all our great and petty worries over to Christ? Can we picture the compassion and healing that we might experience and then share with the world if we open our hearts to the Spirit that already dwells within?

God says: You are rightly focused on the daily task of survival but imagine if you were to trust me more and your own resources less? Do you see how much you have already gained? Can you imagine how much you are yet to receive? My servant Paul reminds my followers in Corinth that “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”. (1 Corinthians 2:9) And this is so. Today you read about how the faithful returned to me and celebrated with liturgy. Do you know how much it means to me when you join my Son, our Spirit and me in beautiful liturgies of Word and Eucharist? Do you know that I have wonderful plans for you? Plans for joy and not for woe? When you doubt, open scripture to see how many times I have already rescued my people. Open your lives and remember how often I have already saved you. Will I not love you even more as our relationship deepens? Will I not bring you even more joy? Have I not already told you that all of this is so?

As we consider today’s Noontime, let us also consider how we might approach liturgies with a new energy. If we do not belong to a worship community, let us explore the possibility of finding or creating one. And if we long to find union that lasts, let us commit to entering fully into our worship community with a new expectation of finding great joy.

To learn more about Ezra and Nehemiah, spend time with the stories in these two books. Enter their names in the blog search bar and explore. Click on the images for other reflections. Or use the scripture link to compare different Bible versions of these verses. 

For a better understanding of these Books, go to: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/e/ezra-nehemiah.htm 

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

 

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Sirach 32: 1 -13At the Table

Tuesday, August 23, 2016heavenly banquet

I continue to love the words of this writer – they are so to the point and true!  Knowing that the table where meals are shared is an important part of both ancient and modern life, the images here of people sharing food are as apt today as they were when they were written.  Food, one of the most basic of life’s necessities, is such an essential part of living that we put down our animosities regarding one another in order to bring in the harvest, and to share space and time in one another’s company.  Today’s Noontime gives us the opportunity to reflect on the most sacred of all meals – the Eucharist.  What a great and wonderful gift is this that Christ comes to us to share his physical presence with us and to sustain us in our journey here on earth.  Jesus Ben Sirach tells us how we are to come to the table, how we are to behave, what we might expect.

Take care of guests before sitting down yourself . . .

Temper your wisdom when you speak, do not be too puffed up and self-important . . .

Be aware of how much wine you are drinking and its effects upon you . . .

Be brief and be concise when speaking; observe and listen more than you speak . . .

Leave when it is time to go being certain to not out-stay your welcome . . .

As I reflect on all of this I realize that this is how we ought to come to every gathering.  We need to take ourselves seriously – but not overly so.  We need to enjoy ourselves – but not overly so.  We need to recognize ourselves in one other without losing our own identity.  We must remember always that just as we are temples of the living God, so is everyone else around the table.

communionEarly humans must have always been on the hunt for food; mealtimes where memories, songs, jokes and profound ideas might be shared were surely a luxury.  How blessed are we to have the gift of leisure that we can spend an hour or two each day with family, friends and colleagues to bare our souls, share concerns, to laugh, to question, even to cry, as we share a meal.  How blessed are we to have a God who wishes to share a banquet with us daily as he delivers the gift of himself for us to use as we will.

I have always cherished the time spent at the table with those I love.  What is more difficult is to sit at the table with those who have announced that they are our enemies and yet when we truly believe that Christ is present when we come together, what is there to fear?  If we can come together to celebrate the Eucharist – the gift of Christ himself to us – then let us also come together in amity to journey through our days together helping, abiding, remaining in Christ before all else.  When Christ is seated at the table, no weapons or defense or offense are needed.  We only need bring ourselves and our own humble gifts.

A Favorite from August 25, 2009.

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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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ascendingWednesday, October 8, 2014

Psalm 119:54-55

Our Songs

Your statutes have been my songs wherever I make my home. I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law.

Life brings many forms of darkness, night times when we feel as though we are apart and journeying to a half-known destination, places that remind us of once-sacred spaces that we can no longer can find. It is at these moments and in these places that we most often are uncertain and even afraid. It is in these places that we look for a security we once had and are no longer certain of how to find. But these dark pilgrimages are sacred opportunities to draw closer to God.  These journeys of faith and hope are holy encounters with the in-dwelling Spirit. These passages are encounters with the eternal and universal Christ who loves us so dearly that he insists on searching for us even if we are the one lost when ninety-nine are found.

God says: The patriarchs lived in covenant with me through which we expressed our love for one another. The Hebrew nation made a tent in which I dwelt so that we might have an intimate union. The early followers of my son Jesus celebrated the Eucharist to create a sacred place and time that we might share. You also come to me in so many ways at so many times in so many places. The truth is this . . . that wherever you are, I am. Wherever I am, there is a possibility for peace. Wherever two or more of you are gathered in my name, the impossible becomes possible. When you ascend to the holy temple within yourself, sing your own song of praise. When you think of my laws, consider how they free you rather than bind against you. For I have planted my hope in your heart. I have sown my fidelity in your mind and my courage in your soul. Allow my presence to break forth in joyful song as we celebrate and give thanks for the gift of one another.

Spend some time comparing different versions of these verses at the scripture site above. Read through the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120 – 134) and allow the ancient verses to resonate within. Share your gratitude through acts of kindness and justice.  And sing out joy and praise to God who never leaves our side.

To learn more about Songs of Ascent, visit: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/655450/jewish/What-is-a-Song-of-Ascents.htm 

For a meditation with Psalm 130, click on the image above or go to: http://jdittes.blogspot.com/2010/10/more-than-watchmen-wait-for-morning.html

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Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Corbert Gauthier: Bread of Life

Corbert Gauthier: Bread of Life

Luke 24

Resurrection, Comprehension, Blessing

We know these stories at the end of Luke’s Gospel – we hear them so often during Eastertide, a part of the Liturgical Cycle which is so full of promise and love.  We have spent time with the little sections of this chapter before but today we are looking at parts of this chapter as they neatly fall together in a three act play: the wonderful story of Christ’s resurrection, followed by the little one-act play of Christ and the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, concluded by Christ’s appearance, blessing and departure.  The central section is the interplay between the resurrected Jesus, Cleopas and an unnamed disciple . . . and this is the first time that I notice something.  How many times have I heard this story and sat through sermons?  Yet this thought comes home to me today: We find Jesus through Scripture and Eucharist.  Of course we do.  Yet we often forget when we are troubled or anxious or harassed that this is where we find serenity.  Without our asking, without our caring, without our acknowledging, without our thanking, without our understanding or comprehending, we receive this wondrous saving gift-of-self which Jesus makes to us . . . constantly and always.  We may touch, hear, see and feel Christ whenever we like, whenever we need, whenever we wish . . . it is up to us.

In am struck that Jesus notices the deep sadness of these Emmaus disciples and asks them why they are sad . . . even though he knows.  He asks them to express their grief and sorrow.  Which they do.  And then he does not sermonize but rather he opens scripture to them.  They respond and ask him to abide with them for they feel comfort from what he has said.  And just when these disciples break bread with him, receive him through the Eucharist in the mini-drama on their way to Emmaus, this is when they discern the Christ.  And this is also the point where he immediately vanishes . . . as if his radiance (once they recognize it) transfers to them through a mystical process.  And so we see a new and consuming fire set alight in these suddenly appointed apostles of The Way.  Their immediate and permanent understanding of the purpose of their lives has changed them irreparably.  They are transformed.  They are altered.  They are blessed.  They know and now understand their vocation.  And without hesitation they return to the little band of Christ-followers in Jerusalem to rejoice and celebrate.

Resurrection, Comprehension, Blessing.  In three simple acts we engage with Jesus who comes back to the world to show us that the impossible is possible.  Cleopas and his companion do the same.  They return to Jerusalem to tell the good news that Christ is risen.  And it is what we must do.  We must return to the places of our distress to witness with our own story of suffering and conversion.  Through Luke, Jesus says: behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat; but I have prayed for you . . .

And so we pray in thanksgiving:

Generous God, you not only give us the gift of life, you protect and guide us each day.  May we remain willing and open servants to your word, to your voice.  May we serve as your hands, your feet, your lips.  

Compassionate Jesus, we are ever mindful of our own denial of you, and we rejoice in the knowledge that you pray for us always.  May we abide by our covenant promise to you.

Loving Spirit, we are set afire by the presence of Jesus in our lives, we want to turn and return to you.  We enter into this vocation knowing that we rest and remain in your loving arms forever. 

Amen.

Adapted from a reflection written on February 22, 2008.

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follow-the-bread-of-life--title[1]Tuesday, June 4, 2013

John 6

A Prayer for Exodus

I am the Bread of Life . . .

We are named by God, called by Christ and accompanied by the Holy Spirit in our journey here on earth.

In John 6 Jesus feeds thousands with a few pieces of food.  He mystifies his apostles, disciples and followers when he appears and disappears, walks on water, shows up, slides away, and explains the mystery of his mystical Body and the Eucharist.  Almost no one understands.  But there are those who believe . . . and perhaps this is all that we need do as well: Believe . . . and enact this belief in the way we form relationships with others.  But this can be so difficult.

When we become surrounded by a relativistic society where people decide what is right and what is wrong relative to their own wishes rather than going to God in order to make their best decisions, do we still follow Christ?

When we find strained interactions with people with whom we formerly had comfortable and easy relationships, do we still rely on God to see us through the tough patches of our journey?

When we discover an ugly truth where we thought there had been beauty, do we still rely on the Spirit to bless and grace us with patience and perseverance?

When we realize that we have been too stubborn or too narrow-viewed, too backward-looking, too prideful or too self-centered in our relationships with others, where do we go for sustenance and exodus?

What will we do when Jesus offers us the manna that sustains?  How do we react when we see the door to a new and transforming exodus?  Why do we fear that the Spirit will abandon or disappoint us as some of our best-loved have done?

When we search for resolution of strife we become too focused on ourselves and we miss the wonderful gift we receive each day: Christ calls faithfully and waits endlessly for our reply; Christ offers not only his experience as a fellow exile but himself in body to us . . . the new manna . . . Eucharist.

Too often we hesitate as we watch many of those around us move away from the Light and Truth which Christ brings. What will we do today, tomorrow and every day when the Christ asks each of us: Do you also wish to go away?  Will we slip into the shadows?  Or will we respond as Peter does, saying: Where else do we go?  You have the words of everlasting life.

And so we pray . . .

May we understand that we are all in Exodus, from darkness to light, from sin to reconciliation, from separation to unity, from selfishness to selflessness, from fleeting pleasure to sustaining joy, from the old to the new, from slavery to freedom. 

May we come to fully comprehend that Christ is this new freedom from slavery, this new light to the darkened world, this new manna in the desert, this new communion of bread and wine, this new voice and body of love among us. 

May we fully express our understanding that when we join Christ in exodus, when we form solidarity as the early apostles did, and when partake of the manna that is Christ . . . we become one with Christ. We are that Christ.

Lord, grant us the faith to believe you, the wisdom to know you, the hope to endure with you, the love to abide with you, and the courage to join you in Exodus.   Amen.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 25, 2008.

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i_am_the_bread_of_life1[1]Monday, June 3, 2013

John 6

The Bread of Life for the New Exodus

If there is one chapter in the New Testament which explains Eucharist to us, this is one of the best.  Jesus is the Bread of Life, superseding the manna given in the desert, fulfilling the promise of that eternal sustenance.

Last night in scripture class the lecture focused on Chapters 11 and 12 of Acts in which we read of Peter’s imprisonment by Herod Agrippa for preaching that Jesus lives although he has died.  Herod has just executed the first of the apostles, James, brother of John (often called James the Greater) so Peter’s future looks bleak.   These early Christians understand that Peter is incarcerated and guarded by four groups of four guards – the ancient equivalent of maximum security.  Knowing that Peter will most certainly be executed after Passover and also knowing that they have no political or civil power to help him, the small Christ community comes together to unite in prayerful solidarity with Peter.  They know that they must put his fate – and the fate of their new, little church – in the only place it belongs . . . in the hands of God.  It is delightful to read the description of how Peter is released, where he goes afterward and how the events unravel through the mystery of prayer and of God.  And most importantly, Peter’s Exodus story reminds us that we also may depend on Christ to free us from injustice and darkness.  It reminds us of the importance of Eucharist, the Bread of Life, our sustaining meal for our own Exodus.

When you have the opportunity, spend some time with Acts 11 and 12.  Parallels are made by scholars between the Exodus of the Israelites, the Exodus of Jesus, the Exodus of Peter and the Church, and our own Exodus; we might fill several pages with notes of the details of these parallels.  What is important here is to understand that each of us is called to make our own Exodus from the slavery of any darkness which clings to us, from the imprisonment of narrow thinking which oppresses our creativity, and from the addiction of fearing the light which brings us into so much that is good.   And we will need sustenance along the Way.  We will need Eucharist.

Thousands of Israelites lined up in their tribes to march from Egypt through the desert where they were nourished by manna as they moved toward the Promise they understood awaited them in a distant, foreign place.  We are likewise asked to step into The Way, to sustain ourselves on the Bread of Life in order to enact our own Exodus to our own Promise in a strange and unknown place.  Let us rely on Christ, the Bread of Life, to see us through our journey.

To read and reflect more on Peter, type his name in the search bar of this blog and explore.

Tomorrow, a prayer for our own Exodus . . .

Adapted from a reflection written on January 25, 2008.

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Second Sunday of Easter, April 15, 2012  – Baruch 1 – Meeting in Babylon

Prisoners going into Exile

Written on April 11, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Why is it that we do not pay attention to what is important until we have lost it?

The answer that I share laughingly is that we are all so stubborn that this is the only way that God can get our attention! 

We read here in this first chapter about a public day of atonement, such as the Feast of Booths, and the notes tell us that this would not have been possible in Baruch’s time as the Jewish nation was living in exile – and they were prohibited from holding and participating in their traditional rites. 

They wept and fasted and prayed before the Lord . . .

We easily fall into the rhythm of forgetting, of wasting, of procrastinating, of avoiding the doing of something we know must be done. 

 . . . and collected such funds as each could furnish . . .

We gather ourselves after a shattering experience and try to find our way home.

The shame and remorse which the people in Chapter 1 of Baruch feel come from a suffering which is deep and cutting.  They anticipate God’s wrath and anger.  They expect further punishment.  But the New Testament message is this: There is a New Idea, a New Way, a New Life.  When we stray, when we bump into thick walls, when we feel ourselves becoming stiff-necked . . . there is only one remedy for our recovery, only one place to go.  We heard this in today’s Gospel:  The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?”  Jesus said to them:  “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you . . . my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink”.  (John 6)

When we are thick-headed and fall, we recover best when we return to the source from which we came.  We must return to the one place where we are totally understood and where there can be no dissembling.  We must return to the one place of complete and total comfort where we can truly feel at peace.  And if we allow ourselves to rest on God . . . we will feel the serenity for which we long.

When we meet in Babylon . . . in the camp of our exile . . . we must sustain ourselves daily on the Living and Written Word . . . Eucharist and Scripture.  That is where we meet ourselves.  That is where we meet our God.

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Sunday, October 9, 2011 – Exodus 34 – The Richness of God

When Moses sees the people worshiping a golden calf they have fashioned for themselves (Exodus 32:19) he smashes the tablets containing the Ten Commandments in a fit of wrath.  In today’s Noontime we read of the renewal of these tablets.  Even in the face of a willful turning away, God shows his chosen people kindness and mercy.  And God shows us this same gentleness and compassion today. 

Murillo: The Good Shepherd

Today’s readings are centered on God as the Good Shepherd, the patient night-watcher, the constant day-herder, the wise and loving one who knows us from the womb until our last breath. 

Paul writes to the Colossians (3:12-14) and to us: Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.  And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. 

Moses describes God as merciful and gracious, slow to anger and rich in kindness and fidelity, continuing his kindness for a thousand generations, and forgiving wickedness and crime and sin.  Moses also speaks of how God chastises us – all the while loving us as a loving parent wishing the best for his child. 

The Psalm in the Morning Prayer today is Psalm 36:6-10 and it reminds us of the depth and breadth of God’s love.  It also reminds us that God will be painfully truthful with us in order that we also grow in mercy and goodness and truth and justice and light: Your love, Lord, reaches to heaven; your truth to the skies.  Your justice is like God’s mountain, your judgments like the deep. To both man and beast you give protection, O Lord, how precious is your love.  My God, the sons of men find refuge in the shelter of your wings.  They feast on the riches of your house; they drink from the stream of your delight.  In you is the source of life and in your light we see light.

The MAGNIFICAT mini-reflection (Cameron 132-133) helps us to understand why we gather to celebrate Eucharist as often as possible: Through the mystery of Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, God has destroyed death forever by transforming it from the end of our story to a passageway into eternal life.  In the Eucharistic feast, we taste the promise of the fulfilled.  It is in and with and through Christ that come we come to know the fullness of God’s love, that he gives his own child so that we might live.  Such is the richness of God.  Such is his gift of light and life to us. 

Toward the end of exodus 34 we read about how Moses’ face is so transformed into light that he puts a veil over his face.  God’s radiance is reflected in Moses’ face . . . all of this goodness is nearly too much to bear.

The MAGNIFICAT Morning Intercessions help us to make the connection between God’s feeding of the Hebrews in the desert with God’s abiding love for us in the 21st century.  They let us know that God’s eternal message of peace that made Moses’ face radiant in joy is the same message God has for us today.  When we cry out in sorrow . . . God nourishes us.  When we wander in the darkness . . . God brings us the gift of eternal life. 

God feeds us with the finest wheat: our Lord Jesus Christ, source of our life.  And so we pray . . .

You feed us at the table of your word: nourish the thoughts of our heart.

You feed us with the bread of life: grant that we may live in the spirit of self-giving love.

You feed us with the pledge of eternal life: grant that we may receive our daily bread with gratitude.

God of life, you invite all peoples to the feast of life in your kingdom.  Forgive us when, in our foolishness, we refuse your invitation to pursue other interests, and bring us back to your table that we may continue to grow in the life of Jesus Christ, your Son and our Lord for ever.  Amen.

God is the Good Shepherd of all creation; he is the patient night-watcher and the constant day-herder.  God is the wise and loving one who knows us from the womb until our last breath.  God nourishes and feeds; he rescues and saves.  God calls us always to himself.  For God is rich in kindness and mercy, quick to forgive, slow to anger . . . always calling us home. 

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection and Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 9 October 2011: 251. Print.

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