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Posts Tagged ‘exile’


Psalm 126: We Thought We Were Dreaming

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

When the Lord brought us back to Jerusalem,
    it was like a dream!
How we laughed, how we sang for joy! (Psalm 126:1-2)

When we find ourselves delivered from captivity or exile, we might well believe we are dreaming. And then we remember the prophecy of Isaiah.

You will leave Babylon with joy;
    you will be led out of the city in peace.
The mountains and hills will burst into singing,
    and the trees will shout for joy. (Isaiah 55:10-12)

When we find ourselves recovering from loss or pain, we might well believe we are dreaming. And then we remember the prophecy of Jeremiah.

See, I will bring them from the land of the north and gather them from the ends of the earth. Among them will be the blind and the lame, expectant mothers and women in labor; a great throng will return. (Jeremiah 31:8)

When we find ourselves delivered from loneliness or grief, we might well believe we are dreaming. And then we remember the prophecy of Ezekiel.

Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says: At the end of forty years I will gather the Egyptians from the nations where they were scattered.  I will bring them back from captivity and return them to Upper Egypt, the land of their ancestry. (Ezekiel 29:13-14)

When we find ourselves delivered from catastrophe or disaster, we might well believe we are dreaming. And then we remember the prophecy of Joel.

Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love, and he relents from sending calamity. (Joel 2:13)

When we find ourselves delivered from anger or fear, we might well believe we are dreaming. And then we remember the prophecy of Zechariah.

Therefore this is what the Lord says: “I will return to Jerusalem with mercy, and there my house will be rebuilt. And the measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem,” declares the Lord Almighty. (Zechariah 1:16)

When we find ourselves delivered from hunger or thirst, we might well believe we are dreaming. And then we return to Psalm 126.

Those who wept as they went out carrying the seed
    will come back singing for joy,
    as they bring in the harvest. (Psalm 126:6)

When we find ourselves delivered through the goodness and grace of God, we might well believe we are dreaming. And then we return to Psalm 126.

When the Lord brought us back to Jerusalem,
    it was like a dream!
How we laughed, how we sang for joy! (Psalm 126:1-2)

 

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Solomon's Temple

Solomon’s Temple

Nehemiah 12:44-47

Their Due Portion

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A reprise from October 28, 2013.

The whole of Israel used to give the cantors and gatekeepers their due portion for each day.

Nehemiah describes not only the restoration of the Temple when the exiles return from their place of deportation; Nehemiah also explains that the rites and rituals were also restored.  All those who officiate at liturgies are to receive their due portion.  In return, the Levites, the sons of Aaron and all those who make liturgy possible are to perform their duties.  Nehemiah not only rebuilt walls and external structures, he rebuilt internal structures as well.

The Second Temple

Nehemiah’s Temple

God says: Each of you deserves your due portion.  When you insist on having less or more you upset your natural balance.  When you take more than your share you deny others of the goodness I have in store for them.  When you take less, you deny the gift you are to the world.  When you corrupt yourself or others you corrupt the vessel that contains hope for the world.  When you deny yourself or others you also deny me. Carry out the task shown to you.  Fulfill the hope planted in you.  Come to me with your questions and concerns.  Rather than take more or less than is meant for you, rather than fill your barns to bursting or depleting your energies until you are fully spent . . . receive your due portion and remain in the truth.  This is where your true treasure lies.

Jesus reminds us that the measure we measure with is measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38) He also reminds us that where our heart lies, there will be our treasure.  (Luke 12:34)

For more information on the duties of gatekeepers, go to: http://prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/gatekeepers-watchmen-you-are-to-speak-out-the-lord-has-called-you-out-to-be-bold-today/

For more information on the Second Temple, click on the image of Nehemiah’s Temple or go to: http://michaelruark.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/there-is-enough-room-for-both/

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Nehemiah 11: Re-Peopling

Monday, October 23, 2017

James Tissot: Reconstruction of Jerusalem and the Temple of Herod

The list we read today is similar to the one we find in 1 Chronicles 9 with a number of differences; still it relates, and perhaps magnifies, the struggle we find when we attempt to recover after catastrophe . . . just as the Israelites re-peopled Jerusalem after exile.  It shows the people in a mode of compliance following their re-commitment to the covenant, much like a recalcitrant child who becomes manageable, and even docile, after a disturbing break with parents.  We humans seem incapable of having much memory when it comes to adhering to our promises; yet God remains always faithful . . . and God always keeps promises. There would be no need to repopulate Jerusalem if the people had adhered to their agreement with God in the first place; yet here we are with the story of a people who turn and return.

In today’s reading, we realize that there would be no need to renegotiate details or to remember who belonged to which tribe if the Israelites had remained faithful. There would be no need to redeem land, reclaim property and rebuild walls if they had lived their promise rather than pretend. Still the returnees struggle to keep balance, and to remember the details of land distribution as originally promised with God.  They tussle with one another, trying to be open and honest.

Here we see a people taking meticulous care with names, positions, professions and locations. They are intent on regaining what they have lost; yet, is it possible to restore all that is gone? The answer lies with Jesus who allows us to be present to him no matter our circumstances. Jesus always redeems.  Jesus always allows us to return.  Jesus always calls us to transformation. In today’s reflection in THE MAGNIFICAT ADVENT COMPANION by Nancy Valko, she closes with this thought: It is when we truly open our minds and our hearts that we learn Jesus never stops telling us what we need to hear. The people of Israel had stopped listening to and for God, and we see the consequence.  They lose all they have, and are taken into exile.  Upon their return, they renew their vows but, sadly, we know the rest of the story.  Shortly after the death of Christ they lose even the little we see them gain in today’s Noontime. And so we consider . . .

God is always speaking.  Do we always listen?

Jesus is always healing.  Do we always care?

The Spirit is always abiding.  Do we always feel the presence of God?

When we were growing up and might complain that “we got nothing out of going to church,” one of my parents would usually reply, “And how much did you take with you when you went?” A good question.  And it is one we will want to ask ourselves as we consider Christ’s gift, his offer to turn and return, his call to re-people the empty places in our lives, his invitation to celebrate his coming.

Adapted from a Favorite written on December 13, 2010.

Valko, Nancy. MAGNIFICAT ADVENT COMPANION. Print.  

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Exodus 2:6: Behold the Child

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Edwin Longsden Long: The Finding of Moses

Edwin Longsden Long: The Finding of Moses

In this final week of Advent, let us decide to make our hopes tangible, our dreams a prayer for our reality, our faith unwavering and our love secure. Let us cleave to the Creator, follow the Redeemer and rest in the Spirit. This week let us give one another the gift of preparing for the very real promise of eternity.

The Old Testament prepares us for a child born in dangerous circumstances who will later save a nation.

When the daughter of Pharaoh opened the basket, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” (NRSV)

The story of the Hebrew captivity in Egypt prepares us to be a people in exile.

The princess opened the basket and saw a baby boy. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said. (GNT)

The story of the Hebrew Exodus to a place of promise prepares us to be a pilgrim church.

She opened the basket and looked inside, and there in front of her was a crying baby boy! Moved with pity, she said, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children.” (CJB)

The story of the foreign princess nurturing a child who will rescue a nation prepares us for God’s promises.

Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the Nile to bathe; her maidens strolled on the bank. She saw the basket-boat floating in the reeds and sent her maid to get it. She opened it and saw the child—a baby crying! Her heart went out to him. She said, “This must be one of the Hebrew babies.” (MSG)

Behold, God uses the marginalized to reveal the false security of the center.

When we reflect on other translations of the Moses story, we understand that God speaks to always with stories of inversion. And we realize that our own story must stand on its head if it is to align with the story of Christ.

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Ezekiel 12:1-12: Eyes and Ears

Thursday, August 18, 2016listen

More than once in scripture we are counseled to keep eyes and ears open. The prophets encourage us, Wisdom Books advise us, and Jesus recommends to us that transformation begins with listening and watching. How then, can we go wrong by keeping our eyes and ears open?

Today’s reading also describes a symbolic preparation for exile. We are advised to do as the prophet has done – dig a hole in the wall so that we might escape under cover of darkness. All of this leads us to an examination of self.

What is in our baggage?

Our modern psychology has given us vocabulary we might use to describe the worries and anxieties we bundle and carry with us each day. Perhaps when we escape we might leave much of this behind and take instead our hopes and dreams.

Escape from what?

We become pigeon-holed by the world just as we pigeon-hole others. Perhaps we might escape this stunting habit and take up instead the loving behavior Jesus teaches us.

Why in the dark?

As small children we may fear the dark as we ask patient elders to turn on lights to ward off monsters. The darkness is the place where we decide to submit to fear or trust. As adults, we asked to step into the darkness of the future, knowing that the light of Christ is all we need to light our way. Perhaps we might allow the light of our discipleship to pierce the darkness for others.

Where are we to go and what are we to do?

The ancient patriarchs and their families placed all trust in God. Perhaps we too might step into radical trust and join in solidarity with others as we join Christ in his Way.

Who is the prince among us?

The prophet Ezekiel tells us that there is a prince among us who will shoulder his burden and set out in the darkness, going through a hole that he has dug in the wall, and covering his face lest he be seen by anyone. Perhaps we might open our ears and eyes to the words of Ezekiel as he foretells the kingdom of Christ. Perhaps we might hear and see the goodness of God amidst the darkness of the world. Perhaps . . .

Tomorrow, our rebelliousness.

 

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1 & 2 Chronicles: Our Sacred History – Part V

Tuesday, May 24, 2016finger paint heart

Sharing the story of God’s love

When we recover from cataclysm and struggle to establish a new balance, there is always the temptation to withdrawn from a world that has disappointed or damaged us; but rather than listen to those who encourage a life of bitter regret, we hear the call to light and truth. The call to union, healing and love. What do we do with this invitation?

God says: The stories my chronicler has captured are lessons of my love for you. The ups and downs, the joys and disappointments of these ancient people are modern stories of my fidelity in remaining with you. I never tire of bringing you back to me. The verses my servant records are words of hope and healing for you. The pain and celebration of these long ago women and men are the same emotions experienced by you today. I am never wearied by the healing actions I take on your behalf. The words of the figures in these books are templates that you might use in your modern life. The curses and praises are songs of lament and delight that you might also sing. I will never give up on the plans I have in mind for you – plans for your good and not your woe. Remember this as you move through your obstacles, as you rely on me, as you spend time with me in your thoughts, actions and prayers.

StoryMattersOur shared history has stories we will want to hide because they bring us pain, and stories we will want to shout from the rooftop because they bring us reality and hope. Our collective narrative tells both the ugly and the beautiful because it describes the broad cloth of all humanity. Our mutual chronicle tells of a people who in their search for the Living God find this living, sacred person within, calling all civilization to union, serenity and love. Are we willing to share this most amazing of stories? Are we ready to tell the world this wonderful story of love?

The two books of Chronicles have four major portions that show us very human leaders; they illustrate the rise and fall of a people and nation. These verses tell us how division and exile can lead to forgiveness and return. Our sacred history shows us how we will want to learn to replace pride with humility. Our shared story guides us in moving from fear to love. These holy stories are treasures we will want to share with the world.

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Zechariah 7Diamond Hardness

Tuesday, December 15, 201553e6d-heart_of_stone_by_thecomicfan

Scattered in a whirlwind and living in an unfamiliar, desolate land, they are not heard by the Lord of hosts when they call on his name.  They refused to listen.  They turned stubborn backs and stopped up their ears.  They plotted evil and oppressed those who lived on the fringes and those who were unaccepted.  They isolated, they divided, they did not show compassion or kindness toward each other.  With all of this constant turning away, they have turned their hearts to such stoniness that they are now diamond hard.  Only God can call them back.  Only God can soften these people.  Only God knows their true names.

Zechariah writes to those who have returned from exile and who should remember and understand how they came to be living in a hostile land.  He encourages those who return to open their hearts, to soften their hearts . . . to give their hearts over to God.

The people who first heard this prophecy believed that they had suffered more, longer and harder than any of the other faithful before them.  Zechariah offers hope to these people and to us.  He encourages us to cease putting off tending to our relationship with God.  He urges us to clean our temple selves, and to ready ourselves for the coming of one who will save.  We do this best by forming and building community.  We do this best by showing compassion and kindness to one another.

green heartWhen we are in the throes of a struggle, the one thing that will lift us, open us, soften us is our choice to place ourselves in our opponents’ shoes.  In doing this, we step out of ourselves and open our cold hearts to God and to others.  We risk being hurt, we risk losing our safety spot.  Yet we risk the total loss of self we stay encamped in our own interior tending to ourselves as our hearts turn harder each day.  Eventually we turn into the hardest of materials – the cold glitter of diamonds.

When you fasted and mourned . . . was it really for me that you fasted? 

We have a clear choice before us.  We may either turn a pleasant land into a desert, or we may open our hearts to the possibility of divinity.  What do we choose today?  Diamond hardness, or the gentle, patient wisdom of God?

For 25 images of hearts in nature, click on the green leaf or visit: https://adventure-journal.com/2011/02/25-awesome-hearts-found-in-nature/

A favorite from November 14, 2009.

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Baruch 2: The Road to Destruction or Redemption – Part I

Tuesday, November 24, 2015road to destruction

The apocryphal book of Baruch tells us how to live in exile; and in particular Chapter 2 gives us an important, two-fold message.  It reminds us that God always fulfills promises, and it also gives us an outline of how we might make our way back to the covenant we have chosen to abandon.

In Chapters 16 to 18 of Revelation we come upon something that reminds us of the infinite forgiveness and mercy of God.  We see once again that in God all things are possible.  We have understood the importance of being faithful in small ways to God.  We have understood that closed, exclusive groups which stultify possibility and potential, darkness which hides and subsumes potential, and silence which conceals and enables deceit . . . will never conquer openness which spawns universal communion, light which calls forth authentic life lead in integrity, and praise of God which magnifies truth and joy.

Light_at_the_End_of_the_RoadIn the end, God’s will of universal openness and light leads to jubilation.  The dark world which opposes this truth germinates in envy and ends in destruction.  And those who work so hard at building up a closed empire of self rather than an open kingdom of all, bring about their own  destruction at their own hands.  We see this countless times.  What is the allure of the darkness and deceit that is so tempting?  It is the same siren call of Satan to Adam and Eve in Eden, You will be like gods . . .

There is something about the road to perdition that answers our human need to control.  There is something about this broad highway leading to the wide gate that brings comfort to those who travel it in their closed special groups.  The aching longing to be the bride who is rescued and loved by the steadfast, powerful groom is universal.  Yet we insist on filling this yearning with superficial, finite relationships which ironically do not satisfy . . . and which ultimately destroy.  We must respond to the summons of the road and choose redemption rather than perdition.

Tomorrow, Part II.

Adapted from a favorite from November 8, 2008.

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Zechariah 14: Apocalypse – Part V

The Sistine Chapel, The Vatican: Michelangelo's Prophet Zechariah

The Sistine Chapel, The Vatican: Michelangelo’s Prophet Zechariah

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The fight for Jerusalem that Zechariah predicts is already begun . . . and we are celebrants in the newness of what is coming into being.  Let us gather ourselves to face the disasters that life brings to us, for it is in these disasters that we find this new life. Let us find our places in God’s new city, for it is in this new place that we find new meaning. And let us rejoice and be glad for we know what to do when cataclysm strikes; it is in this cataclysm that we discover the refuge that is the house of the Lord of hosts.

Past, present, future. Let us step forward into the newness of our transformation. Past, present and future. Let us step away from our childish predictions of a future that is too simple. Past, present and future. Let us rest in the moment when we fully experience the three-person God who is more real and more certain than any savior we might conjure up on our own. Let us rest in the present to celebrate the God who always was, always is and always will be the peace and hope and joy of the world.

Enter the word restoration into the blog search bar and explore the idea of cataclysm bringing joy into our lives. 

Tomorrow, the feast of Corpus Christi.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 425. Print.   

Adapted from a reflection written on Friday, July 10, 2009.

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