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Posts Tagged ‘fidelity’


Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Hosea 9: A Prayer of Return to God

lovehands[1]We have spent time with this prophet for much of the week and we have allowed ourselves to be open to a flood of emotions. When we consider the story of Hosea and Gomer we experience the depth and breadth of God’s patience, fidelity and love.  On this third Sunday in Lent we are invited to be frank about when and how we play Gomer to God’s Hosea.  We are also invited to consider the depth and breadth of Christ’s sacrifice; we are called to sink into the profundity and intensity of the Spirit’s consolation.  With God there is always an opportunity to return.

Israel becomes the harlot when she wanders from the covenant she had entered into with Yahweh. She oppresses the poor and adores idols; the mechanical offering of holocausts by her priests has become a false worship.  Israel’s prophets warn her of the consequences of her infidelity, but she continues to ignore these admonitions.  She leaves behind the gift of Exodus when Yahweh brought her out of captivity to a world of freedom.  She scoffs at the notion that a future exile will again enslave her.  And the longer she remains away from Yahweh, the more difficult – and useless – she sees the road of return.  And in her headlong desire to do precisely as she likes, she sends herself into her own loveless and dreadful exile.  If only she might return . . .

While Israel flirts with cataclysm and ignores all signs of warning, Yahweh abides and calls.  Yahweh hopes and prepares.  Yahweh waits and loves.

While Gomer gives herself to any who would have her in order to feel the quick rush of easy pleasure, Hosea abides and calls.  Hosea hopes and prepares. Hosea waits and loves.

Hosea sees this parallel and so must we.   And while Hosea aches for his lost love and yearns for Israel to return to her true role as Yahweh’s spouse, Yahweh waits for Israel to return.  And so does God call and wait on us today.

Picture1And so we pray . . .

Good and patient God, we see ourselves in Gomer when we forget to visit with you each day.  Renew in us a desire to be faithful to you. 

Good and constant God, we see ourselves in Gomer when we are easily lured away from you.  Renew in us a willingness to put aside the quick charms of a self-centered life. 

Good and tender God, we see ourselves in Gomer when we refuse to see the depths of your love.  Renew in us our understanding of your mercy, a willingness to persist through our doubt, and an eagerness to put everything aside for you. 

Good and ever-present God, we see ourselves in Gomer when we fail to return to you. Renew our strength, renew our courage, renew our faith, renew our hope, renew our love, and renew our all . . . so that we might return to you.

Amen.    


Image from: http://architectsofanewdawn.ning.com/group/returntolovepostshowdiscussion      

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Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Deuteronomy 3: Teaching the Children

parent-child[1]Whether we ourselves have children or not, it is beneficial to universal society for those of us who have survived cataclysm to teach those who follow us how to endure well rather than to endure at all costs.  If we hope to improve both collectively and individually we must be willing to take an honest look at how we operate, what we value, and how we enact our values.  This is what Moses calls us to today.  We are not asked to pass along stories of how others have carried on through crisis; we are asked to be earnestly on our guard not to forget the things which our own eyes have seen, not let them slip from our memory as long as we live, but teach them to our children and to our children’s children.  This is a noble vocation: to pass along a manual for how to persist through pain, fear and antagonism.

Keeping in mind that each time we read or hear the phrase “fear” in reference to the Lord in the New Testament that we might replace it with the word “love,” we can see how the arrival of Jesus is the completion of all God’s promises to the people.  God, with his expression of concern and empathy embodied in Jesus, tells us how much he loves us and wants to be with us.  God warns us often about the dangers of idolatry and encourages us to consider the advantages of fidelity.  God’s own fidelity with us is guaranteed.  God’s love proved repeatedly through the stories we can tell about his power to save and restore.   God’s hope for us and in us is spelled out clearly as he establishes – here through Moses – cities of refuge in which his people might find a second opportunity for recovery.  God never gives up on us.

Deuteronomy, perhaps more than any other book of the Bible, asks its readers to remember and to pass along our own story of how the goodness of the Lord has changed us forever.  It asks that we consider God’s goodness, and that we pass along the story of how we came through a wilderness with no road map other than our fidelity to a God who loves us so much he cannot bear to be apart from us for even the smallest of moments.  We are loved by a God who does not ever want to be without us.

And so we pray . . .

Father Creator, Jesus Saver, Holy Spirit Abider and Comforter, we see by your actions that you will never forsake the work of your own hands.  We realize that the only firm ground on which we stand is the rock of your own steadfastness in your commitment to us.  We know that you are incapable of deception, trickery or betrayal.  Give us the fortitude and courage to follow you, even when we are fearful, even when we are in pain.  We rely on your patience and mercy as always.  And we await our own restoration and peace that comes with the joy of knowing and serving you.  We thank you for your bountiful love, and we hope to return that love to you always . . . even when we are fearful or in pain.

Help us to pass along to the children and to the children of those children not only the story of your love . . . but the essence of your love as well.  Guide us in loving our enemies, in praying for the impossible, and in remaining always with you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


Image from: http://veronicaplace.wordpress.com/2011/02/05/our-children-are-on-loan-to-us/

Written on August 11, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Thursday, January 9, 2020

Wisdom 9: Solomon’s Prayer

SolomonsPrayer[1]Solomon is a well-known figure in scripture.  At a fairly young age he is given a unified kingdom by his father, David.  When asked what he wishes to have in this world he asks for Wisdom.  We are told that he receives this and more . . . all the wealth, power and status he had not asked for.  He seems destined for greatness and so he is.

Rulers from all parts journey to visit him, to see the beautiful palace and temple he builds, and to experience at close range how this singular king loves and is loved by his singular God.  Even the remarkable Queen of Sheba requests and is granted a special visit.  Later in his story, we are told that he loved many foreign women and married several.  It is likely that in this way he meant to secure alliances with potential enemies; yet these enemies defeat him in a quiet and insidious way.  The writer of 1 Kings tells us: When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods, and his heart was not entirely with the Lord, his God, as the heart of his father David had been. (1 Kings 11:4) After this, the kingdom comes tumbling down.

Today we spend time with Solomon’s Prayer which can also read in 1 Kings 8 and we speculate what it was that drew him away from God into the world.  We picture what lured him to foreign gods and extravagant women.  We can imagine what and who convinced him that authority and influence were more important than fidelity to Yahweh.  When we reflect on Solomon’s Prayer, we might want to make it our own and pray it often . . . resisting the lure of self-deceit and warding off the siren song of the material world.  And so we pray to the God of Solomon, the Living God.

Give me Wisdom, the attendant at your throne . . . For alone I cannot manage my days and nights sensibly.

Reject me not from among your children . . . I will make mistakes and I know that you will pardon me.

You have bid me build a temple on your holy mountain, an altar in the city that is your dwelling place, a copy of the holy tabernacle you had established of old . . .  I will do my best to act as you ask, to answer as you call, to praise as you create.

Send forth Wisdom from your holy heavens that she may be with me and work with me . . .  I really cannot do this without your voice in my ear.

For who knows God’s counsel, who can conceive what the Lord intends?  I cannot conceive of that you see, all that you know, all that you do. I only understand that your are goodness and therefore do only good.

Piero della Francesca: Legend of the Cross - The Queen of Sheba Meeting with Solomon

Piero della Francesca: Legend of the Cross – The Queen of Sheba Meeting with Solomon

Thus were the paths of those on earth made straight, and we learned what was your pleasure, and were saved by Wisdom.  So abide with me that you might bring goodness out of any action I take may harm another.  Remain with me that I might remain in you.  Love me always that I might always love others.

Amen.


A re-post from January 9, 2013.

Read more about Solomon in 1 Kings and in 1 Chronicles. www.Biblegateway.com

To read more about Solomon’s Prayer, click on the image above or go to: http://www.hedua.com/blog/solomons-prayer/

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1 Maccabees 12:19-38: In the Face of Great Odds

Friday, December 20, 2019

Jonathan Maccabeus

We have looked at the verses that precede and follow today’s citation, reflecting on friendship and betrayal, on constancy and convolution.  Today we see Jonathan Maccabeus experiencing success as he follows the call of God.  He is later betrayed, but his betrayer suffers a sad end.  We might learn about the kind of patience needed for fidelity when we ponder this story; and we may better understand the need for fortitude and hope when we follow God’s call.  Jonathan’s victory in today’s Noontime comes from his faith in a God who does not abandon his creatures.  Jonathan’s true triumph is not the battles the battles he wins . . . but his commitment to the promise he has made to God.  His true reward is not the fame of the battle won . . . but the serenity of knowing that all is best and all is well when our work is placed in God’s hands.

From today’s Evening Prayer in MAGNIFICAT:

Although you have not seen him you love him; even though you do not see him now yet you believe in him, you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy.  1 Peter 1:8

Whatever gains I had, these I have come to consider a loss because of Christ.  It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession of by Christ.  Philippians 3: 7, 12

Although Jonathan did not see God, he loved God and followed his calling . . . even to death.

Whatever gain or loss Jonathan had, he had in God.

May we too, be as constant and as hope-filled as Jonathan . . . even in the face of the greatest odds.


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 16.11 (2010). Print.  

Written on November 16, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://all-generals.ru/index.php?id=1193

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2 Maccabees 8: Nicanor

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Gustave Dorè: Judas Maccabeus before the Army of Nicanor

Here we return to the heroic story of Judas Maccabeus from an earlier portion of the Maccabees’ story; and the role the Maccabeus family plays as a thorn in the side of the Selucid Empire as it struggles to retain control of its territories and holdings.  We see Judah gathering his troops’ we watch military maneuvers and battles.  Winners divide spoils; they celebrate victories.  There is not much different from the evening news except the level of technology we use in killing one another.

The last verses of this chapter focus on Nicanor, a man who intensely dislikes the Jewish people and all they stand for.  He will appear later in Jewish history and he will eventually be killed in battle; his head and right hand will be on display in Jerusalem for all to see.  But here we read of a time of humiliation for him and we might spend time with this verse: he was eminently successful in destroying his own army.  So he who had promised to provide tribute for the Romans by the capture of the people of Jerusalem testified that the Jews had a champion, and that they were invulnerable for the very reason that they followed the laws laid down by him. 

This new Champion is Judas Maccabeus; the laws are those of the Lord.  The man who intended to be slave-dealer flees like a runaway slave, leaving behind him the clothing that designates him as “A Friend of the King”.  He will later return, but his end will be ignoble.

http://www.bible-history.com/isbe/N/NICANOR+(1)/

All of this brings me to thinking about those who float through life establishing their worth as friends of those in power; rather than finding a way to live a genuine life of devotion to God.

It brings me to thinking about how those who “live by the sword also die by the sword”; ending their lives in the very way they had intended to end the lives of others.

It brings me to thinking about my own life, my own circumstances, and how and where I spend my spiritual and emotional self.  Whom do I value and why?  What do I value and when?  How do I value anyone or anything . . . and do I come to my evaluation with or without God?

We might eliminate a good deal of treachery and betrayal from our lives if we first find a way of doing all things through, and for, and with God alone . . . for God alone guarantees an honorable path for living.  God alone assures us a life spent in eternal serenity.  God alone makes promises that are fully and truly kept.


For more on Judas Maccabeus and the Selucid Empire, go to: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/353851/Judas-Maccabeus  and http://www.britannica.com/search?query=selucid+empire

Written on November 24, 2010; re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.mundellchristianchurch.com/art/2Macc-15-Judas-Maccabeus-before-the-Army-of-Nicanor.html

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1 Maccabees 12:1-18: Safe Conduct – Renewing Former Friendships

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini

Amid the war and intrigue of the Old Testament, we may easily overlook the moments when sanity conquers depravity, when diplomacy takes the place of bloodshed.  This is something we may forget once we read it . . . as it seems to happen so seldom.

So often when we are about to embark on a dangerous mission, we search for a letter of introduction, an entrée, an hospitable opening, envoys of safe conduct, forgetting that all the while we already possess these securities . . . in the person of Christ Jesus.  We are never alone when we receive word that we have been assigned to a dangerous mission; we always are accompanied by the one who undertook the most dangerous mission of all . . . confronting Lucifer on his own turf . . . in order to save all of humanity.  Jesus daily takes on an awesome foe . . . that we might be saved from the darkness.

In today’s citation we read about how Jonathon Maccabeus tries to establish diplomatic links with two pagan, strong states.  We notice that he waits until the times favored him.  He does not blunder ahead following his own senses or agenda.  We also notice that he sends selected men.  They are to conform and renew old friendships, old links . . . but not old habits.  Jonathan hopes to find a newness in this resurrected union, just as Jesus finds with us in his New Kingdom.

What are the old relationships we need to resurrect?  Who are our selected emissaries?  Are we overly preoccupied with first finding envoys of safe conduct?  Do we hesitate to begin the trip for fear of failing?

Once we have heard the call to resurrection, an overture must be made; and once made, the outcome of this overture must be left in God’s hands.  If instead of openness and acceptance we receive deceit and rejection, then we know that we must step back to re-evaluate.  Perhaps people and situations have not yet evolved to their harvest time.  Perhaps we ourselves need a bit of repair before stepping again into our mission shoes.

But beyond all of the worry and anxiety about what to do when we feel called to renew an old, and perhaps shaky, friendship . . . we must know that this is the kingdom call.  And we must know . . . that we are never alone.  Christ himself accompanies us as the most seasoned warrior of all time and all creation.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT, page 179: Do not be dismayed by rejection and mockery.  Go forward always, with serenity and fortitude of angels, because you are the angels of the earth and so must continue on your way in the midst of so many contrary influences.  Everyone can be serene when things run smoothly; it is in difficult situations that fidelity and constancy are proven. St. Francis Xavier Cabrini

Fidelity and Constancy . . . the characteristics of a true envoy of safe conduct.  There is no better companion than Christ.


Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Meditation for the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 13 November 2008: 179. Print.

To read more about Frances Cabrini, click on the image above or go to: http://www.mothercabrini.com/legacy/life1.asp

Written on November 13, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Job 9 and 10: Questions

Friday, November 22, 2019

We enter this part of Job’s story at the point where he has suffered greater losses than can be imagined – loss of family, health, possessions and friends.  Job is accused of hiding his sin . . . which he has obviously committed because in this culture suffering is seen as a payment from Yahweh for misdeeds – by Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar.  Job replies to their accusations in words that resonate with anyone who has suffered greatly and unjustly.  I like Job’s tenacity and his unrelenting will in both remaining faithful to and questioning of God.  If you have the time, spend some of it this afternoon with these chapters and you will uncover the nuggets left there for us to mine.

Verse 9:13: He is God and he does not relent . . .

Verse 10:2: I will say to God, do not put me in the wrong!  Let me know why you oppose me!

We can remain faithful to God and still question.  When we silence our need and desire to inquire, we begin the slippery slide into passive aggression.  If we do not allow our doubts and fears to percolate to the surface where we can deal with them honestly, we open ourselves to anxiety and self-recrimination.  We allow the darkness to take over.

Job questions his maker: Your hands have formed me and fashioned me; will you then turn and destroy me?  Oh remember that you fashioned me from clay!  Will you then bring me down to dust again?

When we read the closing verses of this book, we hear God’s reply.  He answers Job’s questions with questions of his own.  Were we present at creation?  Did we see the parting of the seas?  Did we establish the movement of the sun and stars?  No.  We are creatures . . . not the creator; yet we are a valuable and integral part of this great mystery we call Creation.  We demonstrate fidelity by trusting the goodness of this mystery.   Questions that lead to truth and honesty, light and openness are not acts of betrayal, they are acts of integrity.

We are dearly loved by God.  Jesus himself tells us to ask, seek and knock.  God awaits our questions . . . with questions of his own . . . questions which lead us to uncover hidden truths and mysteries.

And so we pray . . .

Good and patient God, we are happy that you do not relent, do not give up, do not yield.  It gladdens the soul to know that you pursue us as does an ardent lover.  It reassures us to know that you abide.  We attempt to return this deep and intense love, yet we stumble as we move toward you.  Reach out your hand, heal our wounded hearts, dry our tears, mend the brokenness of our lives.  Be ever present . . . for without you we are lost.  We remain your faithful and faltering servants.  Amen.


Written on May 22, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.   For more thoughts on Job and his questions, enter the name Job and his Plaint, enter the name “Job” in the blog search box, or go to the Wisdom portion of  The Book of Our Life on this blog.

To see what questions are being asked on Survey Monkey, click on the image above or go to: http://blog.surveymonkey.com/blog/2011/12/05/what-survey-questions-are-asked-most-often/

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Proverbs 7: Infidelity

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

In the past, we spent time reflecting on the first nine chapters of Proverbs.  Today we focus on Chapter 7 – a warning against listening to false wisdom – a warning against adultery.

I now understand that infidelity is not a single turning away.  Much like the codependent relationship of an addict and his or her enabler, the one who strays must have his or her passive aggressor, someone who – with silence and deception – encourages the leaving.  Although there are many roads to infidelity, the result is always the same – as quickly as it is born, it leaves shattered lives in its wake.

When we think of infidelity, we most often think of a fractured marriage, and that is the image evoked in today’s citation – “Come let us drink our fill of love, until morning, let us feast on love!  For my husband is not at home, he has gone on a long journey; a bag of money he took with him, not till the full moon will he return home.”  But infidelity may happen in any intimate relationship – between friends, between family members, between coworkers, between our God and our selves.  We are all susceptible to the siren call of control, self-importance, manipulation of discourse, narcissistic self-fulfillment, love of discord.  And some of us feel the ancient pull to submit, go along, deny, and maintain quiet at all costs.  This however, is not a peaceful life.  On the contrary, it is a life filled with risk, thrill-seeking, and even voyeurism.  “What if” takes the place of “This I believe”.  “If only” leaps forward to stand before “This is how it is”.  Insincerity and self-deception always precede infidelity.  Integrity and authenticity never accompany betrayal.

For many are those she has struck down dead, numerous, those she has slain.  Her house is made up of ways to the nether world, leading down into the chambers of death.

All of us – although striving to be open and loyal communicators ourselves – have an intimate knowledge of infidelity that at times has left us stunned and uncomprehending.  That is because there is nothing comprehensible about infidelity.  That is because infidelity is about indifference.  And indifference is the opponent of love.

Love acts.  Love questions.  Love perseveres.  Love does not take pleasure in anyone’s woe.  Love actively abides.  We know Paul’s description of Love from 1 Corinthians 13.  It is patient, it is kind.  Love waits upon Wisdom – the perfect – and only – antidote to betrayal.  Wisdom converts to eventual joy the stunned silence and the blurred vision of the one who suffers at the hands of the betrayer.  Wisdom and her attendant companion Understanding bring a healing balm to counteract the sting which will otherwise embitter the betrayed.

[So] my son, keep my words, and treasure my commands.  Keep my commands and live, my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers, write them on the tablet of your heart.  Say to Wisdom, “You are my sister!”  Call Understanding, “Friend!”

This is the mystery of God’s love for us.  Not that he created us in his image.  Not that he loves us; but that, despite our constant turning away from and turning to him, he remains a faithful, ardent lover – always calling, always wooing.  Calling to life.  Calling to true and lasting joy.


First written on August 30, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2009/02/12-ways-to-mend-a-broken-heart.html

To read “12 Ways to Mend a Broken Heart,” click on the image above or go to: http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2009/02/12-ways-to-mend-a-broken-heart.html

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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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