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Posts Tagged ‘fear’


christ heals crippled womanWednesday, October 20, 2021

Luke 13:10-17

Set Free

When Jesus saw her, he called to her and said . . .

Jesus heals in the moment he sees suffering. Let us also heal one another with kind words and acts of mercy.

“You are set free . . .”

Jesus speaks in the simplest of terms the words we long to hear, “You are set free!” Let us also keep our hearts simple and our minds open for possibility.

He laid his hands on her . . .

Jesus does not fear interaction with the stranger. Let us also extend ourselves to those we meet in our daily journey, especially the broken-hearted and the down-trodden.

At once she stood erect . . .

Jesus brings healing to those who suffer. Let us also offer hope and love and faith to those who are troubled or oppressed.

But the leader, indignant, said . . .

Jesus is condemned by those who want to regulate or limit God’s infinite love. Let us also remember that discipleship is a difficult road.

“Why heal today when there are six days to heal . . . ?”

Jesus is challenged by stiff necks and narrow minds. Let us also offer Christ’s goodness and power against the stinginess and cruelty we meet in these words.

And Jesus said . . .

TwoBrothers_BentWoman_710Jesus so often answers a challenge with a question. Let us also offer up a question rather than argument to those who would bend the world to their will.

“Does not each of you untie an ox on the Sabbath . . . ?”

Jesus is so sensible and concise in his replies to those who wish to silence him. Let us also remember to keep our dialogs simple, our prayers intense, and our eyes always on the Lord.

It is in this way that we set one another and ourselves free of terror, oppression and fear.

Amen.


Click on the image above to see a video clip from the Jesus Film Project posted on YouTube, or visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_80Xpyqibr0

For commentary on these verses, click on the carving above or visit: https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1753

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Thursday, September 30, 2021

Jeremiah 49

god-is-in-our-midstGod in Our Midst

As I knelt at Mass today I asked for special help in a special situation.  Help arrived, as it always does. Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid. Matthew 14:27 was part of today’s Morning Prayer.

There was also a citation from Zephaniah 3:16-18 and as I move through my day I cling to this petition about singing joyfully in the face of great odds because God is among us.

Today’s Noontime is a series of petitions that God rain down punishment on our enemies.  But revenge is not a New Testament concept.

Charity, true charity, has come to live among us.

Charity, true charity, prays for one’s enemies.

Charity, true charity, seeks goodness rather than evil.

Charity, true charity, heals wounds with love and patience.

Charity, true charity, insists on hoping that the wicked will turn back to God.

Charity, true charity, does as my mother recommended . . . it calls people to goodness through kindness.

So when we are confronted by the enemy, we must remember that God is among us and he tells us this: Fear not, be not discouraged!  The lord, your God, is in your midst.  He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love.  He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.  I will remove disaster from among you, so that none may recount your disgrace.

God is in our midst.  Let us pray that through him we convert our anxiety to patience, our desperation to hope, our anger to love . . . so that none may recount our disgrace.


Written on October 8, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://work4christ.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/are-you-out-of-focus/

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give_thanks_with_a_grateful_heartWednesday, September 22, 2021

Psalm 138

Hymn of a Grateful Heart

I thank you, Lord, with all my heart. I bow low toward your holy temple; I praise you name for your fidelity and love.

God says: I know that you are grateful but it is good of you to tell me. Keep in mind that you are my temple so remember to care for yourself even as you care for others in my name.

You have exalted over all your name and your promise. When I cried out, you answered; you strengthen my spirit.

God says: I am always with you although you may not sense it. I smooth many obstacles for you each day and when you meet the obstacles that frighten you, know that I am with you. You cannot fail. There is nothing to fear.

The Lord is on high, but cares for the lowly and knows the proud from afar.

God says: My prophet Jeremiah tried to tell the leaders of my flock that they had erred. They did not listen. You are prophets in your own day and you warn of danger; yet you are also ignored. I see your exhaustion but I am telling you that you need not expend yourself totally. Do what is right. Listen to my word and share it. When darkness arrives I am with you. My light will pierce that darkness and all truth will be revealed.

Though I walk in the midst of dangers, you guard my life when my enemies rage. You stretch out your hand; your right hand saves me.

happy grateful peopleGod says: I know that you are grateful and it is good of you to tell me. My promise is genuine. My compassion is complete. My hope is eternal. My love is trustworthy. You are made in my image and so I look for the truth and integrity I planted in you in the moment I first thought of you.  

The Lord is with me to the end. Lord, your love endures forever. Never forsake the work of your hands!

God says: There really is no end for you are eternal. Rest in me today and allow these words to seep into your sinews. Relax with me today and let the words and hope of my prophet Jeremiah console you. Abide with me today and reflect on this prayer. I am with you always and everywhere. You are the work of my hands. I cannot forget you. I will not abandon you. I will always guide and protect you. Of this you may be sure.


Compare different versions of Psalm 138 through the scripture link above. Choose other versions with the drop down menus and spend some quiet time with God. Allow God’s word to seep into your bones. Give all of your fears, anxieties and worries to God. And offer up a hymn of thanksgiving from a grateful heart.

To see and hear the Westminster Abbey Choir sing Psalm 138, go to YouTube at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iNqvpM2MFYM 

Image from: http://pastorfergus.wordpress.com/2013/10/11/this-sunday-were-giving-thanks-at-st-pauls-together-for-gifts-to-share/ 

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Wadi-Ferian-Bedowin-women-hTuesday, September 21, 2021

Jeremiah 43

The Insolent

You lie, it is not the Lord, our God, who sent you . . .

Many of us have been in family circumstances in which a loved one accuses us of carrying lies. Perhaps our workplaces or neighborhoods have become places of discomfort rather than sanctuaries from the difficult wider world. If this is the case, we are not alone. Jeremiah refuses to be carried away to Babylon and also refuses to flee to Egypt, knowing that what appears to be a move into safety is, in fact, a desperate, hopeless plan. And for speaking words of truth, Jeremiah is branded a liar, and the people decide to leave Judah. Against the advice God delivers through Jeremiah, they move south to Egypt, taking the prophet with them to a place called Tahpanhes. There the Lord continues to speak . . . and Nebuchadnezzar’s campaign against Egypt in 568 B.C.E. is predicted.

egypt02God says: There are many occasions when I ask you to trust me and do as I ask. There are many circumstances in which you suffer anxiety and fear because of me. But there are also many times in which you rejoice in my saving love. If you are carried off to Tahpanhes do not fear, I am with you. You may be forced to dwell for a time in a place where all those around you worship pagan gods and pagan ways but do not be afraid, I will not abandon you. No matter your place or your time, I abide with you for I am endless. No matter your worry or your joy, I live with you for I am everywhere and in everything. No matter the gravity of your loss I speak to you . . . just as I spoke to Jeremiah even when he was taken off by insolent men and carried into Egypt, even though he came to find himself in Tahpanhes.

When we doubt that we are living God’s word, we only need ask for affirmation and counsel, even though we find ourselves surrounded by the insolent, even though we find ourselves in Tahpanhes.


For more on Jeremiah 43, click on the camel and pyramid image above or visit: http://precepts.wordpress.com/2010/01/05/jeremiah-in-egypt/ 

Explore the Egyptian journey of Pastor Al Sandalow by clicking on the other images or by visiting: http://fpeb.blogspot.com/2007_03_01_archive.html Scroll down through his posts to read the amazing story of St. Catherine’s and some of his other experiences.St-Cathrines-wide-view-web

 

 

 

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Moses TentMonday, September 20 , 2021

Psalm 15

Refusing Panic

Who may dwell in the Lord’s tent or upon the Lord’s holy mountain?

Jeremiah has spoken to God’s people just as God has asked, and for his fidelity and suffering, he is abused and mocked.  The remnant remain and believe. The faithful know that sooner or later, Jeremiah will be silenced, but God’s word, spoken honestly and carefully, will never die. God’s truth lives forever and cannot be extinguished.

Jesus comes to live among us to heal and redeem, and for his compassion and mercy he is rejected and crucified. The remnant remain watchful and hopeful. The faithful know that here and now Christ continues to walk and live among us. God may be placed out of mind but God is present and cannot be denied. The Spirit is indwelling and cannot be extinguished.

A number of months ago we visited with Psalm 15 and we return today as we prepare for Jeremiah’s journey to Egypt – a place where the Hebrew people once sought refuge and became chained by slavery. A place from which the Twelve Tribes made their exodus with Moses to be delivered in their promised land. A place that served as refuge for the Christ family following Herod’s plot to murder the infant Jesus. Today we reflect on Psalm 15 and remind ourselves that when we stand steadfast in Christ, we must be prepared to reject anxiety. We must be ready to shun our fear. We must be willing to refuse any sense of panic.

Who may dwell in the Lord’s tent or upon the Lord’s holy mountain?

God says: I am well aware of the sacrifices you make for me. I see that you put your desires and sometimes your needs to the side as you take up my cause and deliver my words. Like my prophet Jeremiah you even place yourself at risk when you speak and act as I have asked. Know that I see all of your big and small losses. Understand that I see how you suffer. Believe that I place my hope in you and that you may place all your hope in me. I am goodness and goodness never fails. I am compassion and compassion always heals. I am love and love never abandons. Love always accompanies, always saves, always redeems, always transforms, always brings home. If you must be carried off to Egypt, know that I go with you. And know that I will also bring you home.

Today, spend time with this short psalm, and consider not if we may dwell in the Lord’s tent or on God’s holy mountain, consider how we can dwell anywhere else.

Walk without blame, do what is right, speak truth from the heart, do not slander, defame, or harm your neighbor, disdain the wicked, honor those who love God, keep your promises at all cost, accept no bribe . . . for whoever acts like this shall never be shaken. 


For another reflection on Fearlessness, enter the word in tot he blog search bar and reflect on the importance of trusting God, of rejecting panic, and of remaining as remnant that is never shaken.

Image from: http://thepraiseandworshipconnection.blogspot.com/2013_08_01_archive.html

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e.John14.6Saturday, September 18, 2021

Psalm 25 and John 14

God Shows the Way

Part II

While we pause in our journey with the prophet Jeremiah we rest in the knowledge that God accompanies us always. While we ponder Jeremiah’s circumstances and how he suffers innocently, we spend time with Psalm 25 and reflect on the beautiful way it foreshadows God’s physical presence among us in the person of Jesus. While we come to understand the magnitude and intensity of God’s love for us, we spend a bit of time considering the beauty of the Spirit who dwells within, and the healing, redemptive hand of the one who created us.

In her bio, Heather King remarks that when she was asked how she could become a convert in Los Angeles with its juxtaposition of abundance and scarcity she replied with a question – as Jesus so often does – How could she not? Jeremiah may well have asked himself this question when found himself abused and imprisoned for speaking on God’s behalf. Today we ask ourselves this same question despite the pain of our journey . . . when we are called to follow Christ . . . how can we not?

When we find that we are in dark surroundings, we must not be afraid for God has come to us in human form to show us the way: Do not let your hearts be troubled.  (John 14:1) When we find ourselves surrounded by those who know only evil, we must follow the roadmap Jesus has left for us: You have faith in God; have faith also in me. (John 14:1)  When we find ourselves overcome with sorrow or loss, we have a path to follow: I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.  (John 14:6) When we feel abandoned or betrayed, we have a guide to follow: I will come back and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be. (John 14:3)  When we are alone and lost, there is a trail before us standing open and inviting.  Where I am going you also know the way.  Jesus is amazed at our fear: Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me? (John 14:9) Yet he loves us and is constantly making a way for us.  I am going to prepare a place for you.  (John 14:3)

The apostle John captures Jesus’ last discourse for us so beautifully that these words will not fail to sooth us when we suffer through our own Jeremiah times. It with these words that God shows us the way; and it is God’s Spirit that abides in us every inch of our journey.  With Christ as a brother, we are a part of the great human yearning for union with God.  Like homing birds we know the way . . . yet we too often allow the fears of the world to drown out the true voice that speaks to us in the quiet of our hearts.

I wait for you, O Lord, the psalmist sings, remember no more the sins of my youth, remember me only I the light of your love.  And God replies: Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Where I am you also may be.  Have faith in me. I am the way, the truth, and the life. 

God shows us the way. Let us turn our eyes and ears to God to take the loving hand that is offered.


Adapted from a reflection written on May 22, 2011.

To learn more about Heather King, visit her blog at: http://shirtofflame.blogspot.com/ 

Image from: http://www.word-picture.org/john-14-6-via-veritas-vita/

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Saturday, September 4, 2021

Francois Xavier Fabre: Nabuchodonosor Has Zedekiah's Children Killed before his Eyes

Francois Xavier Fabre: Nabuchodonosor Has Zedekiah’s Children Killed before his Eyes

Jeremiah 34

Face to Face

Many of us shrink from speaking openly in conflict or disagreement, or to anyone with whom there is a potential for argument. We avoid situations that may cause us discomfort when we speak or hear truth. Today the Lord foretells Zedekiah’s difficult future. And it is news that the last king of Judah does not want to receive.

I am handing this city [Jerusalem] over to the king of Babylon; he will destroy it with fire. Neither shall you escape his hand; rather you will be captured and fall into his hands. You shall see the king of Babylon and speak to him face to face. Then you shall be taken to Babylon.

How might we react if we were to know the details of the last years of our lives? What might we do differently? What fences might we mend and with whom might we reconcile?

How do feel about confronting a grave illness, a sudden job loss, an unexpected death? We so often put reality aside until we can interact with it face to face.

Zedekiah is given an opportunity to experience exile in a semi-dignified way but he reneges on his part of the bargain. Zedekiah made an agreement with all the people in Jerusalem to issue an edict of emancipation. Everyone was to free his Hebrew slaves, male and female. All the princes and leaders consented . . . But though they agreed and freed them, afterward they took back their male and female slaves whom they had set free and forced them into service again.

If we want to know about Zedekiah’s last days, we can turn to 2 Kings 25 or click on the image above. The story is horrific, especially when we know that a merciful God had prepared a smoother way. The story is tragic, especially when we see that he suffers a fate he had parsed out to others. The story is cautionary, especially when we come to understand that God wants nothing more than to ease our burden.

Within each of us is the potential to become a new Zedekiah, one who has much and who sacrifices all. Also within is the latent slave who exults in freedom only to be brought back into bondage. Zedekiah retreats from a face to face encounter with the conquering king only to lose his progeny and his sight. Zedekiah plots the oppression of innocents and ends his days suffering in a way he had never imagined.

When the Lord asks us to come face to face with a person or an event that stirs fear within us, when God calls us to someone or some thing for which we feel only dread . . . let us consider the story of Zedekiah, and determine to rely on God’s company as we stand toe to toe with our fears.


For more on Zedekiah’s fate, click on the image above or visit: http://www.spiritandtruth.org/teaching/Book_of_Daniel/commentary/htm/0209030405.htm

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water jarMonday, August 2, 2021

Jeremiah 14

Empty Jars

The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah concerning the great drought: The nobles send their servants for water, but when they come to the cisterns they find no water and return with empty jars.

Jeremiah portrays the Lord as an avenging God in this chapter, one who exacts heavy consequences for lapses and recalcitrance. Yahweh laments those slain by the sword and those consumed by hunger. In Jeremiah’s day, pagan people believed they created positive circumstances in their lives by placating little gods, and Yahweh’s faithful also look at their relationship with God in this strictly dual manner: those who obey will prosper and flourish while those who disobey are punished.

Ashamed, despairing, they cover their heads because of the stricken soil; because there is no rain in the land the farmers are ashamed, they cover their heads.

And so the people rail against their creator, asking for help and intercession.

Why are you like a man dumbfounded, a champion who cannot save? You are in our midst, O Lord, your name we bear: do not forsake us!

God says: I have never forsaken you. I am with you still. Did I not call you into being? Do I not call to you each morning, noon and night? Do I not abide with you even during those times when I see that I am completely forgotten by you? I understand the appeal of the world for it is my creation. I understand your need to feel comfortable and safe when dreadful circumstances surround you. Put away this fear and allow me to surround you with my love. Allow me to fill your dry cisterns and your empty jars for when I fill them they will brim to overflowing. When I fill them, you will never perish of thirst. When I fill you there is no need of well or vessel. I am the alpha and the omega, the beginning and then end. I am the transformation and the resurrection. I am all you will ever need.

Spend a few minutes today giving thanks for . . .

The Living God who never abandons us even when we have turned away,

The Eternal God who sustains us even when we have gone astray,

The Wondrous God who loves us . . . beyond all measure and imagining.


To reflect again on how we might learn to trust that God in our midst, enter the words The Lord Surrounds Us into the blog search bar and explore.

To learn more about ancient water jars or hyriaiclick on the image above or go to: http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/gkhy/hd_gkhy.htm

 

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Tuesday, July 6, 2021

god heals2 Chronicles 11

A Prayer for Returning Home – A Reprise

This week we have looked closely at the process and power in asking for and giving forgiveness, in seeking and receiving healing, in pursuing and relying on God. We cry out against injustice and ask God’s intervention. We lament terror, horror, falsehood and betrayal; and we ask God to bring goodness out of all harm. Today we consider the power of returning home. And so we consider how we might move from loss to gain, from hate to love, from death to life.

The Healing

Anger, betrayal, loss death.

Silence, stillness, a numbing, penetrating chill.

Eyes slowly opening to see old light in a new way. The ringing din eases into two harmonious tones. We are not alone.

Joy, celebration, gift, life.


Image from: http://girlsofgodsheart.blogspot.com/2013/08/a-god-who-heals.html

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