Posts Tagged ‘God’s call’

Saturday, February 12, 2022stumblingbnr

Ezekiel 3:17-27

The Prophet as Watchman: Loving our Stumbling Blocks

As we study our stumbling blocks we hear the call to be prophets in the Messianic Age. We are asked to call others to kingdom work just as we have been called.

Once we spend time with our stumbling blocks we begin to understand the important role they play in our lives, the vital function they perform. We are asked to demonstrate our comprehension by willingly taking on our responsibility as Sentinel People. We are asked to call out to others the message of the Word Among Us.

Rather than walk around or away from our stumbling blocks we freely and even cheerfully go in search of a ladder that will allow us to climb atop our obstacle. We see the world and ourselves from a different angle, perhaps an angle that God the Creator might use. We are asked to bring this gift of insight to our Kingdom building.

Once we begin to act in and through Christ we receive abundant grace, courage, fortitude, and mercy. Love grows out of our suffering. Sudden and inexplicable joy takes hold and in a moment of irreversible transformation we move into the life God has planned for us since our inception.

And once we have run the arc from grief to joy, we give thanks for the great suffering we have endured.

As Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M. points out in his February 10, 2015 Meditation, it is not so much that we are so chosen or so suddenly more greatly loved by God in our moment of fear and turmoil; rather, it is that we have listened, waited, and pruned ourselves for the reception of this enormous and endless love. As we consider the grace and peace and blessing of the Stumbling Block, let us give thanks to the one who abides, and heals and loves.

Richard Rohr: Adapted fromThe Great Themes of Scripture: Old Testament, pp. 1-5 (published by Franciscan Media); and Scripture as Liberation (MP3 download

Image from: http://www.lebtahor.com/StumblingBlocks/stumblingblocks.htm

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Friday, February 11, 2022

A Watch Tower in Cadiz, Spain

A Watch Tower in Cadiz, Spain

Ezekiel 3:17-27

The Prophet as Watchman: Gratitude for our Stumbling Blocks

I have appointed you as sentinel; whenever you hear a word from my mouth, warn my people from me.

God says: Do not be surprised that I have appointed you as sentinel to my people for you have been faithful in great and in little things. When I speak, send on my word, live my word.

When I say to the wicked, “You will surely die,” and you do not warn them or speak out to warn them, the wicked shall die in their iniquity, but their blood I will require at your hand.

God says: Do not be afraid to deliver news that others perceive as negative or ugly. Send on my word with mercy and justice. Be compassionate always, but deliver my message nonetheless for it is as important for you to speak as it is for others to hear.

If you have warned the wicked and they do not turn from their wickedness or from their wicked way, they shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered yourself.

God says: Do not worry if my word returns to you empty. I do not expect you to transform hard hearts and unbend stiff necks; but I expect that you will send my word on.

When I speak to you, I will open your mouth and you will say to them, “Thus says the Lord God”. The one who hears, hear; and the one who refuses, let that one refuse; for they are a rebellious house.

God says: Speak in my name and in that alone is your reward. When you do this although it is outside of your comfort zone, you set the same example as does my son Jesus. When you speak the words that lie in the quiet of other hearts, you demonstrate your fidelity. When you act as Jesus acts you show me the heart I have planted in you. Act in me as I act in you . . . and this will be enough. Give thanks that I am with you. Give thanks that you are not alone. Give thanks that my love dwells within you . . . and that I find it great enough to share. This has been the gift of your stumbling block. It is the gift of the watch tower. It is the gift of my eternal life in you.

Image from: http://www.rgbstock.com/bigphoto/mLeS5wW/Cadiz+24

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Thursday, February 10, 2022stumbling blocks

Ezekiel 3:17-27

The Prophet as Watchman: Receiving Grace through our Stumbling Blocks

We receive the gift of understanding once we agree to study the stumbling blocks in our path. This understanding will transform our lives and the lives of others as we rejoice in the stoning we have received.  Others will see that we rise again, once the stoners retreat. Others will see that we have survived the stoning and that we have lived to pick up those stones hurled as killing missiles.  They will see that we study those stones and that we have been blessed with the gift of reading the transforming message of each stone . . . because we respond to the call of the prophet, because we recognize that we are Sentinel People, and because we become prophets ourselves.

Ezekiel foresaw this Kingdom of prophets.  He foresaw that there would be a time when God would walk among us, would be one of us, would show us the way to turn and return to the God we had abandoned.  Ezekiel fore heard the trumpet blast of our response to God.

And so we pray . . .

Let us rejoice and be glad each time we stumble over something which strikes at our hearts.

Let us announce this gladness as the watchman Ezekiel announces the Coming of Christ.

Let us study the stumbling blocks in our path as we journey in the new Kingdom.

Let us examine the stones which the stoners throw, and read their unique messages for us.

Let us open our hearts and minds and souls to the God who created us.

Let us hope for the transformation of all of God’s people.

Let us trust that we are upheld as we work our way along the obstacle-strewn path toward home.

Let us be sentinel people, People of the Watch, calling out that the Kingdom is now.

Let us be prophets who announce that the Messiah is already among us.

Let us love ourselves and one another . . . for the Christ is in our midst . . . for the Kingdom is now.

 Let us be a Sentinel People, announcing the Kingdom of God.


Tomorrow, giving thanks for our stumbling blocks.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 19, 2008.

Image from: http://sallysjourney.typepad.com/sallys_journey/2011/11/stumbling-blocks.html


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Wednesday, February 9, 2022walls

Ezekiel 3:17-27

The Prophet as Watchman: Climbing the Stumbling Block

When we opt to walk away from God’s call what is it that we choose? Is it merely the work before us that we ignore or is it also our own development? When we are silent and succumb to “group think” rather than speaking up what is it we gain? Acceptance into a group? What is it that we lose? The opportunity to grow in Christ. And when we choose to “go along with the crowd” rather than join Christ, we opt for fleeting, numbing pleasure and forfeit eternal, ecstatic joy. This is Ezekiel’s message.

We build walls to protect ourselves . . . but these walls can keep out that which helps us to grow. They hide us from Christ himself.

We shut gates and pull up bridges . . . but these defenses can keep us from that which makes us holy. They distort our vision and deceive the soul.

We go within to avoid discomfort . . . but these awkward moments can keep us close to God.  They urge us to answer God’s call.

We are all prophets, calling to self and to one another.  As we journey we see and recognize signposts that direct us toward the true Kingdom, where stumbling blocks are seen as graces, where problems are seen as blessings, where Christ’s followers are willing to be stoned, knowing that they will not die.  If we are to live now in the true Kingdom, we must welcome our stumbling blocks and rely on God who will send us the gift of understanding these troubles.  We must be willing to be stoned by words if not by actually deeds. Just as the early apostles sacrificed self for unity through Christ, we also have the opportunity to join in the miracle of resurrection and new life.

Tomorrow, receiving grace through the stumbling block.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 19, 2008.

Image from: http://kristiholl.net/writers-blog/2013/04/why-writers-need-boundaries/

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Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Israeli Vineyard Watch Tower

Ezekiel 3:17-27

The Prophet as Watchman: Understanding the Stumbling Block

According to notes in the NAB, this portion of Ezekiel 3 may have been moved by an editor from its original location in Chapter 33 to this earlier place. The later chapter begins the portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy of the Salvation for Israel, and this is where we understand that the prophet is important as the Sentinel to the Word Among Us. We also are called to be prophets or sentinels, People of the Watch. And we are called to pronounce a vision or mission: We are to confront the stumbling blocks in our lives rather than walk around or away from them.

God allows stumbling blocks to tumble into our path to obstruct our headlong pace. We may think that our virtuous acts bring into balance our refusal to study these stumbling blocks and learn from them but they do not. Only our willingness to study our stumbling blocks brings life.

This week in our scripture class we are studying chapters 10 and 11 of Acts and as part of our assignment we were asked to write a reflection about what we had learned, about how and when and why we respond or do not respond to God’s call when he places a stumbling block before us, when he asks us to do something that is particularly painful or difficult. Ezekiel speaks to the absolute necessity of answering this call no matter the strife or angst and we may want to ponder the choice that lies before us. The consequence of not responding is non-existence. The consequence of understanding and conforming to God’s will is the gift of ever-lasting life in union with Christ.

As Sentinel People, let us urge one another to study our obstacles, and let us urge one another to see them as stepping stones in our journey of unity in Christ.

Tomorrow, climbing the stumbling block.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 19, 2008.

Image from: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ian-w-scott/27046274910

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Monday, February 7, 2022watchmanforjerusalem

Ezekiel 3:17-27

The Prophet as Watchman: Studying the Stumbling Block

We are all called to be prophets in the Messianic Age, a time when we each have a personal relationship with Christ . . . the one who calls us to sound the trumpet that he is already among us.

Christ is among us. Yet we do not see. We are the body of Christ. Yet we do not come together. We are called to do Christ’s work in the vineyard. Yet we are stiff-necked and hard-hearted. We lament over our stumbling blocks rather than rejoice in them.

When we read Ezekiel we realize that we are called by God as prophets, and we are also asked to call one another to this same office. We are to announce the coming that is taking place now. We are called to be sentinel to one another. We are called to unbend our own necks and to rebuke the stiff-necked among us. We are called to soften our hard hearts and to reprove the hard-hearted in the midst of us. We are called to listen for the sentinel’s cry from our brothers and sisters. We are called to give the cry of the Word we see and hear.  We are called to respond to the virtue in one another, to warn and to be warned. We are God’s church, the body of Christ, the Spirit that dwells within seeking harmony, unity and peace.

How do we attain this peaceful unity?  Verse 20: If a virtuous man turns away from virtue and does wrong when I place a stumbling block before him, he shall die.  He shall die for his sin, but his deeds shall not be remembered; but I will hold you responsible for his death if you did not warn him.  When, on the other hand, you have warned a virtuous man not to sin, and he has in fact not sinned, he shall surely live because of the warning, and you shall save your own life.

Let us spend a bit of time with this verse today and imagine the possibilities of God’s call.

Tomorrow, understanding the stumbling block.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 19, 2008.

Image from: http://www.pray4zion.org/TheWatchmanofIsrael.html

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joyTuesday, November 9, 2021

Matthew 25:14-30

Joy in Small Matters

We move further into scripture looking for stories of joy that continue to surprise us. To explore other stories, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we pause to consider the joy we might find in the smallest of places in our lives . . . and the way in which small matters have great effect in our lives.

We know the answer to the question: What can one person do about the ills of the world? We easily reply that we can – in apparently unimportant ways – take small actions that have huge, rippling effects in a world looking for a reason to hope. Today we consider the parable of the talents.

From www.christianity.about.com : A talent was an ancient unit of weight and value in Greece, Rome, and the Middle East. In the Old Testament, a talent was a unit of measurement for weighing precious metals, usually gold and silver. In the New Testament, a talent was a value of money or coin . . . In the New Testament , the term “talent” meant something very different than it does today. The talents Jesus Christ spoke of in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35) and the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) referred to the largest unit of currency at the time. Thus, a talent represented a rather large sum of money. According to New Nave’s Topical Bible, one who possessed five talents of gold or silver was a multimillionaire by today’s standards. Some calculate the talent in the parables to be equivalent to 20 years of wages for the common worker. Other scholars estimate more conservatively, valuing the New Testament talent somewhere between $1,000 to $30,000 dollars today. (http://christianity.about.com/od/glossary/a/Talent.htm )

JOYIn this parable Jesus alerts his disciples to the real meaning of a disciple’s call: The work is arduous but immensely rewarding.

With this parable Jesus reminds us that while much is asked of us, much will also be given.

Through this parable Jesus shows us that when we find joy in the smallest of matters . . . we harvest great joy in the most surprising of ways.

The end of the liturgical calendar is upon us when we look forward to the celebration of Advent, a season of anticipation, a time of hope in the darkness, a rejoicing in the coming of Christ’s healing light in a suffering world longing for transformation. As we prepare for this special time of year, let us close doors on all that has harmed us and open doors to building bridges where rifts have grown. Let us determine to put toxic places and people aside and to ask God’s intervention in rebuilding broken relationships. And let us agree to choose joy even in the darkest of times and in the grimmest of circumstances. We will be mightily surprised at what God has in store for those who respond to God’s call in the smallest of places and in the smallest of matters.



Images from: http://franklinchurchofchrist.com/?p=6589 and http://www.elizabethesther.com/2010/12/christmas-tour-of-my-home-pics-happiness-joy.html

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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parent-worthyWednesday, October 6, 2021

1 Thessalonians 2:11-13

God’s Eternal Call

As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his children, exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you conduct yourselves as worthy of the God who calls you . . .

We linger with the thoughts that Jeremiah’s words bring to us in the 21st Century. This prophecy continues to move us millennia after it was first spoken. Each of us has experienced exile from a loved one or a loved place. Each of us has known the devastation of corrupt leadership and betrayal. Each of us has received God’s call to live in a manner worthy. Before we allow the words of the prophet to cease their resonating power, let us reflect on the power of God’s persistent, endless love.

God’s Eternal Call

This stillness of separation nurtures sweet embers of hope . . . for God is near.

The darkness of rejection gives way to a rising spark of confidence . . . for God is at hand.

Vertigo of displacement, sting of betrayal, agony of deception . . . consumed by God’s burning desire to live within.

Overcome not by darkness but by the piercing light of God’s love.

Fire of courage sweeps through dry tinder of exile.

Flames of resolution rise up to greet the call.

Anger, revenge, corruption . . . disappearing in the conflagration of God’s indwelling.

Hope, fidelity, love . . . living in a manner worthy of God’s eternal call. 

St. Paul reminds the Thessalonians – and he reminds us – that despite trials and suffering, God’s word is at work in us. This word will not be extinguished. This words breaks forth in the darkest of times. This word is the unceasing presence of God’s fervent call. Let us live in thanksgiving of this worthy indwelling.

And for this reason we too give thanks to God unceasingly, that, in receiving not a human word but, as it truly is, the word of God, which is now at work in you . . .

Image from: http://antiochcofc.org/#/worthy-of-gods-call/4556896195

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Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Tough-love1-300x256Ezekiel 33

Fidelity of the Sentinel

In ancient societies the role of the watchman was seminal; city-states and even towns relied on watch towers and wakeful sentinels to warn their community of impending danger. Today we have replaced this watchfulness with electronic stealth weapons that often divide us about their necessity or efficacy. With today’s Noontime, we might learn something about our human need to be alert so as to survive. We might also learn something about our own fidelity to God.

Although Israel has already been sent into exile, Ezekiel warns his people of continuing disaster and, as we have seen with Jeremiah, the community’s response to his warning is lukewarm. This was a people skilled in the art of denial and enabling. It seems that God’s prophets, or sentinels, nearly always receive a tepid response; but this does not deter them from speaking. Today our modern prophets, like those of old, continue to call out to us about the importance of hearing the warning from the sentinels we ourselves have posted. They also call on us to be faithful to God in our response to the warning call.

My parents often reminded us that what hurts the individual also hurts the group. They also admitted that sometimes as parents it is difficult to discern when love is nurturing and when it is enabling. Tough love is a term that was coined in the late 1960s by Bill Milliken to describe how families and institutions must intervene in addicted behaviors and cycles. Too often we are swayed by our fear of rejection by an individual or group to gently yet firmly interact with others in loving sternness.  And this is what God is saying to Ezekiel and Jeremiah. I have appointed you watchman of the house of Israel; when you hear me say anything, you shall warn them for me.

When we hear the sentinel warning, we know that it is the hour to pause and reflect as individuals and as communities about the message of that call. We are obliged to listen to other voices, to pray with other hearts, and to share with other minds the meaning of the warning. And we must remain faithful to God’s call as do the prophets. Although the tide of many be against us, we must persist in developing our willingness to step out of all that is comfortable to remain faithful in our relationship with the creator God.  For after all, the end of this story is good news. The end of this story is restoration and resurrection. The end of this story is about our preparedness to receive the blessing that is already ours.

Image from: http://drmommyonline.com/what-is-tough-love-and-when-to-use-it

Adapted from a reflection written on December 27, 2006.

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