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Posts Tagged ‘gentleness’


2 Corinthians 10: A Prayer for Boasting in the Lord

Monday, May 13, 2019

Yesterday we spent time with the 10th Chapter of 2 Corinthians, today we pray as we reflect . . .

St. Paul shows us his determination to work and be and live in Christ.  I have always liked his phrasing which describes a manner of living in such a way that all we do and are is a reflection of the Christ in us.  I must remember this:  all that I do and all that I say creates the image of my relationship with God.

Whoever boasts should boast in the Lord.

Make us an instrument of your work, O God.

Through gentleness and clemency . . .

Remind us that our ways are not your ways.

For although we are in the flesh, we do not battle according to the flesh . . .

The world around us is such cacophony.

May I not seem as one who frightens you through letters.

Teach us your merciful justice.

We will not boast beyond measure but will keep to the limits God has apportioned us . . .

We want to bear ample fruit in your name according to our gifts.

Whoever boasts should boast in the Lord.

Remind us always that all begins and ends in you.

Amen.


A re-post from April 28, 2012.

Image from: http://covenant-love.org/blog/?p=3

Written on January 29, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

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John 8:1-11Letting God Worry

Thursday, January 30, 2019

Guercino: Christ with the Woman Taken in Adultery

Our pastor once began his sermon on the Sunday we heard this story by saying, “So where is the man?” He allowed silence to settle over us and then he continued, “If a woman is committing adultery, a man has been with her.   So where is he?  And why have the scribes and Pharisees not brought him along with this woman to confront Jesus?”  I remember this sermon well because it surprised me.  I had settled into my seat to listen to the familiar lesson about not making accusations quickly lest we find ourselves melting away in embarrassment with the crowd; and instead of the usual line I heard . . . So where is he? 

As I listened to the homily I thought about the times I have stepped forward when I ought to – as we were taught to do by our parents – and I knew why people do not come forward then they should.  We fear retribution; we are afraid we may be cast out or punished; we are ashamed; we lack the strength.  I remembered when I was in the first grade and a friend of mine and I broke a classroom rule together.  It was innocuous but we intended to break the rule; in fact, I think we found it to be silly.  During recess one day, we took new chalk from the box on the teacher’s desk to write on the board instead of using the short stubby pieces on the chalk tray.  When the question came – as we knew it would – I stepped forward as we had agreed – we were going to show the teacher how senseless this rule was – but my friend did not.  I was stunned but suffered the punishment alone.  No afternoon recess.

When I arrived home I told my Mother what had happened.  She first reprimanded me softly but with certainty, telling me that the teachers often bought their own supplies and that I had no right to decide how to use the donated chalk.  After listening to my insistence that my friend had let me take the punishment alone, my mother said patiently, “I guess she just couldn’t fess up . . . but that doesn’t mean she didn’t want to.  Maybe she just didn’t have the strength.  She probably wanted to admit she had broken a classroom rule and just couldn’t.  Instead of fussing about what she did or didn’t do, just be glad that you did the right thing”.  She was right.

When I told my Dad that I had been punished for breaking a class rule but that my friend had not admitted her own guilt and had gotten off with no consequence, he replied as I thought he would, “Let God worry about her.  You have to let people come along in their own time and way”.  I could not let go of the thought that the circumstances were not fair and when I insisted that things weren’t equal my Dad answered, “Maybe not, but you will have to leave the equality part of this to God.  What does or does not happen to her is really none of your business.  I think you need to let God take care of this one.  This is something you can’t fix by force.  You’ll have to use kindness”.  And then Dad added, “Now don’t snub her when you see her tomorrow.  She knows she’s done wrong and she knows she should have taken her punishment just like you did.  You have to get over this and smile at her.  She’ll come around if you do.  You’ll see”.  And of course, he was right.

As I listened to the homily that day about the man who did not come forward to admit his guilt, knowing that the Law focused on the act of the woman and not her partner, I thanked my deceased parents for their wisdom and patience.  I thanked God in heaven that we are created by such a kind, patient and gentle God.  And I thanked Mother and Dad for teaching us how important it is . . . to act in kindness, and to let God do the worrying.


A re-post from January 30, 2012. 

Image from: http://emsworth.wordpress.com/2009/03/30/an-audacious-five-picture-exhibit-at-the-frick-collection/

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Ephesians 4:29-32: Harmful Words

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Norman Rockwell: The Gossips

We hear and use so many words. We speak so often and express so much, hoping that our actions match the thoughts we offer in glib language. Paul advises us today to keep watch over what we say and how we say it.

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

Just last week in my workplace, colleagues and friends decided to make the upcoming year one in which we promote peace. How easy this sounds. How difficult this is. How necessary and important is the work of watching what we say and how we say it. Gossip is an open pit that ensnares many of us; but in this time of harsh words that stir up harsh deeds, we must take this work seriously.

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

In the days to come, we will work at saying only what helps, measuring each syllable as a gift. In the months ahead, we will be kind to one another, forgive and heal breaches. In years that yawn before us, we will lapse from time to time but we must return to a place of mutual respect and peace. We must make a clean break with the casual, off-handed words we let slip so quickly from the tongue and lips. We must watch our ways. We must remove harmful words and actions from our lives for in so doing, we live in the hope that we might live more gently. We live in the love of Christ generously showered on us. We live in the Creator’s fidelity, blooming with the promise of our own creation.

When we compare various translations of these words, we open ourselves to the great turning from harm to love.

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Acts 6 & 7: God’s Yardstick – Stephen

God’s Grace and Energy

Paolo Uccello: The Stoning of Stephen

Paolo Uccello: The Stoning of Stephen

Monday, February 1, 2016

We may or may not know the story of Stephen, the martyr stoned for acting with and speaking about the healing power of Christ. Once the full impact of this story settles on us, we might hope that the Spirit not inspire us. We might wish to shed the power of God’s wisdom rather than ask that it dwell within. It is likely that the trials are not as severe as Stephen’s; yet gossip in the home or workplace can break the spirit just as stones break bones. Severe illness, economic and natural disasters, slander, bullying and fear can bring an end to life. Stephen’s reaction to his enemies gives us a measuring stick for our own actions.

If we look only quickly at these chapters, we might at first believe that the lives of all true Christians must come to a frightening end. When we look more closely to find clues in the details, we uncover what it means to live a life brimming with God’s grace and energy. No matter our persecution, no matter the place or time of our trial, Stephen’s yardstick serves as a stark measure of God’s love in our lives.

6:7: The Word of God prospered. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased dramatically. Not least, a great many priests submitted themselves to the faith.

When we experience God’s presence, we can expect envy and anger from others. Like Stephen, we must persist in gentleness and honesty.

6:8: Stephen, brimming with God’s grace and energy, was doing wonderful things among the people, unmistakable signs that God was among them. 

When we witness God’s presence, we can expect dishonesty and deceit from others. Like Stephen, we must persist in courage and hope.

6:11: In secret [Stephen’s enemies] bribed men to lie [against him].

When we live in God’s presence, we can expect fear and anger from others. Like Stephen, we must persist in patience and love.

When we meet obstacles brought on by avarice, resentment and rage, we might consider the power we find in gentleness, honesty, patience, courage, hope and love. These traits will appear weak to the foolish, but in reality they are manifestations of God’s grace and energy, God’s enduring and healing love.

If we do not have time to spend with Chapters 6 and 7 of Acts, we might focus on Acts 6:8-10 and 7:54-59.

Tomorrow, the Gospel writers.

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TempleSunday, October 19, 2014

Ephesians 4:1-6

In a Manner Worthy

For a number of weeks we have spent our noontimes with the prophecy of Jeremiah examining the loss of the great temple, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the humbling experience of exile and deportation. We have also considered our own exile, we have reflected on the prophet’s foreshadowing of the Christ, and we have examined how we might be Jeremiah’s enemies or companions. Today we consider the final message from the prophet that holds so much importance for us. Despite accumulating deceits and betrayals, there is always hope . . . because God is always with us, moving us to live in a manner worthy of God’s call.

From Paul’s letter to the early Christians in Ephesus, and to each of us . . .

I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received . . .

In an ever-quicker world we may not pause often enough to hear God’s voice.

With all humility and gentleness . . .

In an always-competitive world we may not make room for those on the margins.

With patience, bearing with one another through love . . .

In an increasingly self-centric world we may not feel the need to advocate for those who have no voice.

Striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace . . .

In a world of crisis and emergency we may not restore the soul or rest in God.

One body and one Spirit . . .

In an always-dynamic world we may not see that we are one.

As you were also called to the one hope of your call . . .

In an always-problematic world we may not believe in a reason to hope.

humilityOne Lord, one faith, one baptism . . .

In an always-divergent world we may not want to listen to others.

One God and Father of all . . .

In a world that thinks there is no God we may not witness to injustice and corruption.

Who is over all and through all and in all . . .

In an always-vibrant world we must believe that we are worthy of the call that God has sent us.

Amen.

To learn more about Solomon’s Temple and the renovations made by Herod, visit The Archeology of the Bible site by clicking the temple image above or visiting: http://www.bible-archaeology.info/temple_of_jerusalem.htm 

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

hope mugSirach 39:16-35

A Reason for Your Hope

We pause in our study of 1 Peter and turn to the wisdom of Sirach.  In verses 21, 25, 33 and 34 we begin to find clarity to a question that occurs to each of us throughout our lives: why is it that the wicked do not suffer?  The answer always is: God has a plan, God has infinite time, God is infinitely good, he calls us to intimacy with him, and we must go to him in the proper way, in God’s way, and in God’s time.

It occurs to me that many people who appear to “have it made” are suffering in a way that they do not express.  They likely view suffering as a sign of failure, just as those living in the days of the Old Testament believed.  Unlike Peter in his letters to us, they do not understand that suffering is The Way.  Suffering shows our willingness to undergo the necessary discipline which we all must experience in order to reach the next place.  Suffering brings us to a place – if we allow it – where we finally and fully meet God.

A friend recently pointed out to me that bullies are often grieving and likely do not know that they are suffering.  Or if they know why they suffer they do not understand that they are experiencing an undergoing or that they are constantly accompanied by God.  The angry, jealous, divisive life they set up for themselves as they isolate themselves from the rest of the world is a perpetuation of their dreadful pain rather than a healing, unifying, enduring, loving expression of God made visible among us.

So if we believe that God exists and if can manage to remain faithful to God, if we hope that all of us – even our enemies – attain holiness before and with God, if we remain reverent despite the apparent ability of the wicked to escape consequences, if we strive to love our enemies into goodness and purity . . . then we are true expressions of God here on earth.  These are difficult tasks, but as Jesus ben Sirach tells us, there is no wiser path in life.  And as Peter writes to us, Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.  For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.

Reflecting on the wisdom of Sirach and Peter we pray . . .

Gentle and loving God, keep us prudent but joyful.  Let us wear our hope upon our sleeves as we open my arms to all.  We  know that you are with us and that we need not fear for you are always walking with us.  Keep us persistent, keep us loving, keep us always close to you as we do your will.  Keep our ears sharp, our eyes keen, our actions pure, our thoughts holy.  Keep our hands and feet and mouth in accord with your will. Let our patience endure, our hope be joy-filled, and our love be infinite.  Trusting in your wisdom, prudence, and love, we pledge ourselves to you this day and in this way.  Amen. 

Adapted from a reflection written on September 1, 2007.

 

 

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Thursday, October 11, 2012 – Ezra 3 – A Great Shout

I love this story of a joyful people who realize that they have been saved from the teeth of death.  They fully know that their God loves them despite their collective and individual transgressions, and they also recognize that they have another opportunity to begin anew.  We can all use this message from time to time.

The people in today’s story are still close to the bitterness of their exile experience and they have not allowed time to dim or re-write their reality.  They have not yet given in to the temptation to morph memories into events which did not happen.  They are still being honest with themselves.

St. Paul writes to the Colossians (3:12-14) and to us to remind us of how we are to live in our new life after our own exile and return.  He tells us what we yearn to know: How are we to be when we come into God’s presence?  How are we to wear Christ as a garment into a society which is focused on the things of the world?  Paul says simply: Put on, then, as God’s chosen, 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.

The people in today’s reading are chosen and loved by God.  We today are also chosen and loved.  We so often seek perfection in our actions and words.  We try to avoid error in order to steer clear of pain.  We return from our exile times and wonder how to begin again.

Today we read about a great shout of joy and weeping that goes up from the returned.  We might want to add our own tears and voices to the chorus.

Written on September 25, 2009 and posted today as a Favorite. 

To read more about Ezra click on the image above or go to: http://www.bibletutor.com/level1/program/start/people/ezra.htm

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