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Posts Tagged ‘God’s love’


Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part IIIvalleyofdrybones-620x3101

Friday, September 16, 2022

We are too often stunned by the miracle of God’s goodness. We are too seldom in awe of God’s greatness.

We are too quick to offer spontaneous judgments. We are too slow to nurture and sustain ourselves and others.

We too easily forget our own past and project our own future. We too stubbornly refuse to make allowances for others and too rarely walk in another’s shoes.

God has told us how we are to pray. Jesus has told us the words to use. The Spirit has accompanied us throughout our lives and still we look for more information or more excuses.

praying-handsLife is all too complicated. Life is all too simple. If we wish to rise from the dryness of the desert we know what to do. We are to take on the mantel of humility. We are to set aside time to spend with God both alone and in community. We are to love as Jesus loves, knowing that there is but one law that unites us. We are to allow the Spirit to guide and protect, instruct and restore. And we are to let God be God.

In this way we experience the rejuvenating dew of the desert morning that brings all impossibilities out of the darkness of doubt and into the light of probability and surety. And we rejoice as God gathers our dry bones so assemble them in the dance of restored life.

Enter the word restoration into the blog search bar and explore the idea of God’s renewal in us.  

Make an intentional effort over the next four weeks to keep the Sabbath holy. Plan activities with family and friends. Try to stay away from chores and closer to God. And allow yourself to experience the miracle of restoration out of dry bones.  

Tomorrow, what is it we seek?


Images from: http://millennialpastor.net/2014/04/06/lazarus-in-the-valley-of-dry-bones/ and http://www.stitcherydickorydock.com/september-beyond-the-block-be-an-encourager/

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Deuteronomy 11: Wonders

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Love the Lord your God and always heed God’s charge.

The wonder of God’s love is so easily overlooked, so quickly put aside.

The land into which you are crossing drinks in rain from heaven.

We often think of rain as an obstacle for some activity we have planned, or as a spoiler of an otherwise beautiful day.  In this reading, we pause to remember that it is the rain that nourishes and sustains.

Take these words of mine into your heart and soul.  Bind them at your wrist as a sign, and let them be a pendant on your forehead. 

These are the words we hear echoed with the Shema of chapter 6 verses 4 to 9.

Teach them to your children, speaking of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. 

These are concepts we speak to ourselves but that we hesitate to speak to others, especially when we are rushed or tired.

You are about to cross the Jordan to enter and occupy the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you. 

We have been assured a fertile place in which to flourish, a land of promise and goodness.

We have been guaranteed a love far greater than any we can imagine, a love that forgives always, a love that never diminishes or loses interest.

We have been asked to keep these words close and to repeat them to those who follow.

We have been asked to hold God close, to follow God’s way, and to call others to likewise follow.

This request is not a great one when what we receive in exchange is the gift of eternal life, of eternal nourishment, of eternal love, of eternal wonder at the goodness of our God.


Click on the image above to learn more about the Shema, or visit: https://www.learnreligions.com/what-is-aishes-chayil-p4-2077021

A Favorite from Monday, April 26, 2010.

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Mark 8:11-13: The Demand for a Sign1765_Jesus-Man-of-Sorrows-628x416

Saturday, August 27, 2022

And he sighed deeply in his spirit . . .

I am certain that Jesus sighs deeply in his spirit many times in a human day. And I am equally convinced that he smiles with our many little triumphs over self. His humanness wants to celebrate with us. His divinity wants to heal us. Despite all of the evidence we have before us of God’s constancy and love, we still do not trust God. We still ask for signs.

And he sighed deeply in his spirit . . .

Luke 3:10-18 is a story of an encounter which John the Baptist had with the Jewish and pagan world.  He cautions the Jews that they must share what they have rather than hoard it for themselves.  He asks the tax collectors to cease cheating people.  And he reminds the soldiers that they ought to be content with the power they have and cease their grumbling. As Bishop Robert Morneau tells us in Daily Reflections for ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2009-2010 when he writes about this episode: Joy lies in perpetual gratitude.   The more we practice gratitude, the easier it is to live in trust and faith.  The more we live in trust and faith, the less need we have to ask for signs.

And he sighed deeply in his spirit . . .

In Matthew 21:23-27, Jesus is asked by the chief priests and elders by whose authority he speaks. Jesus replies with a question – as he does frequently when he knows he is being baited. He asks who gave his cousin, John, the authority to baptize.  He wants to know: Was it of heavenly or human origin?  When they refuse to commit themselves, Jesus declines to answer their question. They had not really been looking for an answer. Are we always asking for an answer when we question or are we trying to control God in our lives?

And he sighed deeply in his spirit . . .

We humans question God continually. We want to know our next steps. We want to know the reasons, the origins, the causes and the effects. We are a bit afraid, or a bit too proud, to allow our sophisticated selves to experience wonder or mystery; and yet it is through the mystery of Christ’s presence in our lives each day that we are stirred to ask questions, to delve deep within, to step outside of ourselves.

And he sighed deeply in his spirit . . .

We imagine that Christ sighs a great deal as he accompanies us in our journey toward him. We also imagine that he smiles a great deal as we learn to capitulate ourselves into the safety of his hands.


Image from: http://biblefeet.blogspot.com/2009/03/and-did-those-feetthe-meaning-of-feet.html

Adapted from a reflection written on December 14, 2009.

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2 Peter 1:16-19: Our Testimony

Guido Reni: St. Peter Penitent

Guido Reni: St. Peter Penitent

Friday, August 12, 2022

If we have doubted the value of God’s glory or the truth of Christ’s generosity of love so abundant that there is always some left over, we might listen to the words of one who lived side by side with Jesus. Peter is the one upon whom Jesus builds his church despite denying Jesus on the night he was arrested. And he is also the first to declare that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16) when Jesus asks his followers: Who do you say that I am? Our human doubt brings us the opportunity to make a declaration like Peter’s. Our life encounters with the risen Christ are not only gifts offered by a loving brother, they are opportunities to proclaim our own testimony of Christ’s glory . . . and of God’s love that always offers something left over.

In four different versions of these verses, Peter describes his Jesus experience.

We did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we have been eyewitnesses of his majesty. (NAB)

We weren’t, you know, just wishing on a star when we laid the facts out before you regarding the powerful return of our Master, Jesus Christ. We were there for the preview! We saw it with our own eyes. (The Message)

For we have not by following artificial fables, made known to you the power, and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ; but we were eyewitnesses of his greatness. (DRA)

For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. (NASB)

When we spend time with these and other translations, we have our own opportunity to give voice to our witnessing. We have a chance to proclaim God’s goodness and love. We have an invitation to declare our own story of Christ’s love so abundant that there is always some left over.


Image from: http://www.wikiart.org/en/guido-reni/st-peter-penitent

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John 6:52-71: Some Left Over – Part Xbread-and-wine

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

In so many ways, and on most of our days, we ask God as Jesus’ disciples do in today’s Noontime: This [bread of life discussion] is hard; who can accept it?

Jesus says to his disciples as he says to us: Does this shock you? It is the spirit that gives life, while the flesh is of no avail. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and life.

And we may question as Jesus’ followers always do: Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.

Jesus knows that we do not understand the full impact of his words and he also knows that he will be betrayed by us in some way great or small. And so Jesus says: Did I not choose you? Yet is not one of you a devil?

Jesus refers here to Judas and he might also be referring to one of us; yet so great is Christ’s heart, so magnanimous is the Creator and so transforming is the Spirit that God’s unbounded love can heal each of us when we return to Christ with our foibles and faults fully visible in our hands as offering to our loving God.

God says: No matter how egregious or small the error, no matter how heinous or petty the action, no matter how deceitful or damaging the word, my love is great enough to redeem you. My heart is full enough to heal you. My wish to have you with me in all space for all time is greater than any wrong you may have done. Turn to me, for in my eternal living there is always enough love left over.

Compare these verses in various versions of the Bible using the scripture, and listen for God’s words of eternal promise and everlasting life.


Image from: https://creativemarket.com/camaralenta/1227831-Grapes-wheat-bread-and-wine-featuring-wine-bread-and-communion

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John 6:36-51: Some Left Over – Part IX

Tabgha Church Mosaic: The Miracle of the Multiplication of Fish and Loaves

Tabgha Church Mosaic: The Miracle of the Multiplication of Fish and Loaves

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

It is inevitable, we know, that when light begins to call the faithful together darkness arrives, and so once Jesus announces his offering of eternal bread, the complaining begins.

Murmur not among yourselves: Jesus says to the grumblers and to those who saw him grow up in the carpenter’s family. They ask: Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph? Do we not know his father and mother? And Jesus replies: Whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes down from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I give is my flesh for the life of the world.

As this story unrolls to reveal God’s enormous love, where do we stand? Do we number among the grumblers to look past the risen Christ who stands before us, offering us the Eucharist as God’s eternal sustenance for an eternal life? Or do we follow this healer. Do we scatter the bread he breaks open? Do we tend to Christ’s sheep? Do we gather up all that is left over to share with those who have yet to arrive?

We look for answers to these questions as we compare varying versions of these verses. And we look for bread that will live forever, the bread that Christ gives for the life of the world.

To read about the restored mosaic in the ancient church at Tabgha commemorating the miracle of multiplication, click on the image above, or visit: http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=10&Issue=3&ArticleID=1 

Tomorrow, words of eternal life.


Image from: http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=10&Issue=3&ArticleID=1

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John 6:16-35: Some Left Over – Part VIIIloaves-fish

Monday, August 8, 2022

Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel contains what is called the Bread of Life Discourse in which Jesus amplifies the miracle his followers have just witnessed, the multiplication of loaves and fish. Bracketed by this miracle and discussion of Jesus as eternal bread is a well-known story: Jesus walks across the stormy waters to rescue his friends from their swamped boat, saying, “It is I. Do not be afraid”. Now the disciples have ears that are ready to hear the love story Jesus wants to impart. The miracle of fish and loaves will expand at the last Passover meal Jesus will share with them to encompass the world in the Creator’s enormous embrace of love. The bread and wine that Jesus will part with them will become Christ’s body and blood. The multiplication of loaves, the breaking of bread and the offering of wine will be experienced in a momentary reality that becomes an eternal embrace of love. The miracles they have experienced – and those they will continue to experience – are more than mere metaphor. They are an act of love.

We search for the Living Christ just as the people do in verses 22-24), and when we ask: “When did you get here?”  Jesus tells us: You are looking for me not because you saw signs but because you ate the loaves and were filled. Do not work for food that perishes but for food that endures for eternal life.

Explore verses 22 through 35 and compare various versions to discover what Jesus’ words mean to us on this day in this time. When and where do we find eternal sustenance? How and why do we seek eternal bread? With whom do we share our own stories of encounters with the resurrected Christ? And what changes can we imagine in our little lives that will lead us to unity in Christ’s eternal life?

Tomorrow, murmuring.


Image from: https://tben.wordpress.com/2015/01/16/7-miracles-in-the-book-of-john-part-7/

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John 15:1-17: Glory, Part V – Vine and Branches

Friday, July 22, 2022grapes71

We have explored the mystery of Christ’s power that is found in humility, emptiness, and service. We have examined Jesus’ words as recorded by John, The Beloved Apostle. Today we look to understand God’s glory in the image of the Vine and Branches.

Today’s lesson on Glory: Once we understand that we find life only as branches of the great vine of Christ, we begin to understand the gift of glory.

When we read varying versions of these verses we find a path to becoming healthy branches in this glorious vine of life. Today we consider what it means to be a willing branch of this vine. The citations below are from THE MESSAGE. Use the drop down menus on the scripture link above to find other versions . . . and reflect on the challenge and gift of this invitation to be an integral part of Christ’s glory.

Jesus says: I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer.

If Christ is willing to become a part of the creator’s whole, then so must we.

Jesus says: Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you.

What are the greater implications of building our home in Christ rather than in the world around us?

Jesus says: I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.

Do we fully comprehend and believe this statement from Jesus?

Jesus says: I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. 

Do we fully feel and return God’s love through the way we act and speak?

Jesus says: I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature.

Are we ready to be truly filled with a blooming, mature joy?

Jesus says: You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.

Can we believe that we are chosen, and worthy and loved?

Jesus says: But remember the root command: Love one another.

Do we trust this love? Are we open to this love? Are we willing to be pruned in order to become strong in this life-giving vine?

And so we pray,

Sustaining and loving God, you have created us out of your wonderful love. You have created us for your generous love. You have called us to your sustaining love. Keep us always on your vine so that we might be continually nourished by you. We ask this through Jesus Christ. Amen.


To find more thoughts on the metaphor of the Vine and Branches, click on the image above for a post at: https://jeffsjottings.wordpress.com/2015/05/08/vine-and-branches/

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herrods_temple

The Ezekiel Temple

Ezekiel 8: The Mystery of the Temple

Friday, July 1, 2022

Throughout this reading the Spirit continues to ask us as we encounter the world: Have you seen enough yet? How do we reply, and how do we react?

We might turn away in fear or disgust when our fellow human beings behave in abominable ways; yet how does this witness to the love of God that is somehow present everywhere at every time?

We might collapse in anxiety or denial when our friends and neighbors behave brutally toward us and others; yet how does this move us into solidarity with those who suffer so horribly?

We might despair in pain and sorrow when our loved ones betray or abandon us; yet how does this enact God’s love in a world looking for peace and serenity?

Ezekiel describes vividly how the Temple is desecrated with obscenity, greed, and idol-worship; yet who is this angry God we hear described in verse 18? Can this be the same God of hope and peace and love who comes to walk among us with mercy? What happens to this holy dwelling place and how are we to see God’s presence amid the rubble and ruin of what was once beauty and light?

Despite the deep corruption we see today, God abides in this place and with this people. Despite the brutality we read about today, God persists in converting harm into blessing. And despite the horror that we witness today, God pardons, heals and calls. This is the mystery of God’s sacred place and time: it is a temple of a healing, transforming, persisting, loving force that cannot be denied. This temple is a living essence that struggles to remain and grow within each of us. And life in this living temple is a mystery that we are invited to enter.

Do you see what the elders are doing here in the dark, each one before his favorite god-picture? 

Who are our little gods and how do we express God in our everyday actions and voice? Do we operate in the dark or in the open light? When and where and how do we see the Mystery of God’s love amid the abominations of the world? And do we plan to accept the invitation that this mystery of sacred space and time has laid before us?


For a study on the Ezekiel temple, click on the image above or visit: http://israelmybeloved.com/the-ezekiel-temple/

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