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Posts Tagged ‘forgiveness’


Job 6The Reply of the Innocent

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A Favorite from September 6, 2009.job-innocent-suffering-300x225

It is true that sometimes we are completely innocent of any wrongdoing and yet we suffer.  One of the primary questions we ask as human beings is this:  Why is it that things sometimes go so wrong for us and so right for others?  We also ask: What have we done to deserve suffering and how do we cope without falling apart entirely?  Some of us even ask: How long can I go on?  Is life worth living?

Today we hear from Job, the man who suffers through no fault of his own.  His fidelity attracts Satan’s notice and so he becomes an object of play in the devil’s evil game.  Job describes with beautiful metaphors how quickly his friends abandon him, being undependable as a brook, as watercourses that run dry in wadies . . . [they are] caravans [that] turn aside from their routes [to] go into the desert and perish. 

In today’s Gospel (Mark 7:31-37) we hear the story of how Jesus opens ears and a throat when he says words that he also says to us: Be open!  In MAGNIFICAT, the mini-reflection for Morning Prayer reads: Jesus opened the ear of the deaf man that he might hear in a new startling way the word of salvation.  What we hear as good news, we proclaim as good news: that is our task as disciples.

How we arrive at not hearing is not important; nor is the question about why we have become silent in our isolation.  What is important is this: That one has come who releases all of us from our bondage – whether these chains have been acquired through our own action or inaction, or whether we are innocent slaves.  One has come to call us to unity, and this one calls to each of us: Be open!

Be open to a surprising newness.  Be open to pardoning and being pardoned.  Be open to miracles in our lives.  Be open to the amazing potential we possess.  Be open to proclaiming the good news that we are free and need not toil futilely.  Be open to the life of discipleship.  Be open to union in Christ, with Christ himself.  Be open . . .

This is easy to hear but difficult to do.  We might turn again to Job who knows the pain of separation . . . and also the joy of reunion.

Whether we suffer in innocence or through our own action or inaction, our reply to the one who created us can be the same.  When we hear the voice that calls, let us all answer:  We are open to the possibility that we might live again!  This is our best human reply to the divine.

And this is the greatest miracle of all . . . that whether we suffer through guilt or whether we are innocent . . . we can all be open to God . . . for we are all sought by God for to each of us he says: Be open!

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 6.9 (2009). Print.  

Click on the image above for more on the suffering of the innocent, or visit: http://www.thelakesanglican.org.au/why-does-god-allow-suffering/ 

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Isaiah 43:20-25: Already Given

Friday, May 27, 2016gift

We ask for good health, security, predictability, fidelity. We look for mercy, wisdom, hope and love. We anticipate salvation, healing, transformation and resurrection. But these gifts we believe we need to acquire have already been generously given.

The beasts of the field will glorify me, the jackals and the ostriches, because I have given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people.

When we feel as though the world has let us down, we come to understand that all that we need . . . we already hold.

The people whom I formed for myself will declare my praise.

All that is required of us is that we remain faithful in our gratitude.

I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

All that we need remember is that God wants to forgive and heal. All that is confusion and mystery becomes peace-filled and comforting. All that we seek we already have in abundance. So let us give thanks, for once we begin to practice thankfulness, we also begin to fully experience what the Lord has freely and wonderfully already given.

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John 8:1-11: Adultery

Sunday, March 13, 2016 Jesus_writing_in_sand

Again today we hear a story with familiar characters who give us an opportunity to learn something about ourselves. We are accustomed to thinking of adultery as an intimate relationship outside of marriage. In our Lenten journey, the Gospel invites us to consider what other ways we adulterate our lives. We might ask what impurity or weakness have we added to our actions or to our character that moves us away from the hope for the world that God created in us. When we use the scripture link to read other translations of this familiar story, we might listen for the newness that creeps into our understanding of ourselves, others, and of Jesus. Why is it that Jesus does not condemn this woman? Where is the man who accompanied her in this act? Where is the angry crowd? Is the woman guilty? What happens to her after her encounter with Jesus? And what happens to us when we consider all the times we have watered down the goodness and mercy planted in us? When and how have we adulterated our lives?

The religious scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone and said, “Teacher, this woman was caught red-handed in the act of adultery. Moses, in the Law, gives orders to stone such persons. What do you say?” They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him.

We ask ourselves. Whom do we most closely resemble, those in the crowd or the one who stands condemned? And can we see ourselves as the forgiving Jesus?

Does no one condemn you? Neither do I. Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.

To learn more about this story, use the scripture link to compare versions, click on the image above or visit: http://www.womeninthebible.net/2.7.Adulterous_woman.htm 

For Aicha el-Wafi and Phyllis Rodriguez’ Ted Talk on forgiveness, click on the image below or go to: https://www.ted.com/talks/9_11_healing_the_mothers_who_found_forgiveness_friendship

For more stories like these, visit The Forgivness Project at: http://theforgivenessproject.com/stories/  Consider becoming involved with this or a similar initiative to bring peace to our world and to stem the violence that adulterates our lives.

Phyllis Rodriguez and Aicha el-Wafi

Phyllis Rodriguez and Aicha el-Wafi

Today we begin this week’s Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “I will set all things right in God’s kingdom,” let us think instead, “I will strive each day to follow Jesus’ example of forgiveness, mercy and love”.

Tomorrow, missing God.

 

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Matthew 5:17-19: Teaching on the Law, A Reprise

Wednesday, March 2, 2016Kingdom-of-God-570x379

Do we fully understand the depth of Jesus’ words? Do we fully open ourselves to Jesus’ transformation?

Jesus says: Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the panorama. God’s Law is more real and lasting than the stars in the sky and the ground at your feet. Long after stars burn out and earth wears out, God’s Law will be alive and working.

Do we fully understand that when we mock creation we mock ourselves? Do we fully open ourselves to the wonders of God’s universe?

Jesus says: Trivialize even the smallest item in God’s Law and you will only have trivialized yourself. But take it seriously, show the way for others, and you will find honor in the kingdom. Unless you do far better than the Pharisees in the matters of right living, you won’t know the first thing about entering the kingdom.

God says: You work inordinate hours. You fret over the past and worry about the future. You wriggle through plans that you lay for yourselves. You create rules and parameters that you hope will keep you safe. The Law I speak about is simple indeed – it is the only law the actually keeps you safe. It is the Law of Love. The Law of forgiveness. The Law of generosity and kindness. The Law of healing and comfort. The Law of mercy. Rest in me. Bring your worries to me. Allow my Law of Love to reconcile, restore and rebuild. Allow yourself to step into my kingdom of love.

We continue our Lenten practice as we consider how we might bring others to God’s kingdom of love. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.

For another post on these verses, go to:  https://thenoontimes.com/2012/04/06/teaching-on-the-law/

Tomorrow, Beelzebub.

 

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Matthew 18:21-35: The Unforgiving Servant, A Reprise

Tuesday, March 1, 2016immaculee02

We continue our journey of Lenten Gospels and today’s Noontime calls us to reprise a story we have heard many times, but may not have taken in. How do we forgive those who do us horrible damage? How do we move beyond our personal pain and fear? How we forgive endlessly and pray for our enemies? How do we allow God to transform harm into goodness? We might listen to the story told by Immaculée Ilibagiza in LEFT TO TELL: DISCOVERING GOD AMIDST THE RWANDAN HOLOCAUST (2006). The January 2012 Noontimes post gives us a great deal to think about.

For the original post, go to: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/01/17/the-unforgiving-servant/

Visit http.immaculee.com/ to see news interviews and to get a taste of the ideas Immaculée shares with us. 

left to tellAnd we continue our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “The dream of peace is an unreal and distant illusion,” let us think instead, “The dream of peace we hold is present in God’s kingdom. And God’s kingdom is now”.

Tomorrow, the law.

 

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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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Psalm 67: Harvest Thanksgiving

Monday, November 23, 2015harvest-thanks-giving_260429

This prayer is an appropriate psalm for this time of year . . . but we might sing it often for all the good God has brought to us . . . for the good God has wrought from harm.

We are givers and receivers of hurt.  Initially, apologies and reparations are difficult to make and they are sometimes difficult to receive.  Yet give and receive them we must for we all err, we may all seek forgiveness, and we are all forgiven.  We may or may not be forgiven by those we injure, even when the injury is unintentional.

From this morning’s MAGNIFICAT intercessions:

Forgive us our pride.

Forgive us our stubbornness of heart.

Forgive us our anger against one another.

Forgive us our greed in all forms.

Forgive us our mercilessness.

Forgive us the harm we have done.

God always waits patiently for our return and while he waits he continues to sustain us, to offer us his garden where we might bring in his harvest.

At this time of harvest, we might gather ourselves as well to offer our acts and our words back to our creator.  We might join in this psalm of thanksgiving and remember that . . .

God is gracious always.

God blesses us constantly.

God saves us faithfully.

And God’s face shines upon us all days.

In the darkest of nights and the brightest of days, let us remember this . . . and be thankful.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.10 (2008). Print.  

A favorite from October 3, 2008.

 

 

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James 5:13-15: Union in Prayer

Saturday, October 31, 2015Pray-Together

When we suffer, James tells us . . . we must pray.

When we celebrate . . . let us sing praise.

When we are ill . . . we are to ask for anointing.

When we are discordant . . . we must come together.

When we worry . . . there is nothing but to turn to God.

When we hope for the forgiveness of sins . . . we must also ask for redemption.

Suffering is our road to Christ . . . let us not avoid it.

red heart bibleJoy accompanies us along the way . . . although we may not at first feel it.

Paul reminds the Philippians and he reminds us: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

So let us put aside our divisions and celebrate even as we suffer. Let us lay down our enmities and pardon even as we are pardoned. Let us dialog with our enemies and turn all anxiety over to Christ; and let us celebrate our union in the Spirit. Let us celebrate our union in prayer.

Use the scripture link to compare varying versions of these verses and let us find union in prayer and praise.

 

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James 4:7-10: A Solution for Turmoil

Monday, October 19, 2015humility

James continues to be clear with us. There is a method to putting an end to wars and struggles and the list is brief.

  1. Submit ourselves to God.
  2. Resist temptations to act independently of God.
  3. Continue to draw near to God.
  4. Cleanse our hands and purify our hearts.
  5. Ask forgiveness for our willfulness.
  6. Be humble.

The benefits of these simple acts are enormous and impossible to measure. A certain serenity settles over our lives. A new passion colors our relationship with God and with those around us as a result of newly-found peace. We connect ever more intensely with the divinity that lives within. It is no coincidence that these instructions from James closely mirror the 12 steps to recovery outlined by Alcoholics Anonymous in 1939. We might spend time with these verses today and make a few simple decisions . . .

Give ourselves over to God . . . So let God work his will in you.

Resist temptation . . . Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper.

Draw ever closer to God . . . Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time.

Make an intentional effort to renew our lives in Christ . . . Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field.

Ask forgiveness . . . Hit bottom, and cry your eyes out. The fun and games are over.

Be humble . . . Get serious, really serious. Get down on your knees before the Master; it’s the only way you’ll get on your feet.

All else will follow in its natural course.

forgiveWhen we use the scripture link to compare versions of these verses, we allow James’ wisdom to settle into our days and into our lives.

To learn more about the Alcoholics Anonymous organization, visit: http://www.aa.org/pages/en_US/what-is-aa 

Tomorrow, a prayer for resolving turmoil . . . 

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