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Posts Tagged ‘God’s presence’


Wednesday, August 12, 2020

sun on hoizon of planet

John 12:44-46

The One

Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me believes not only in me but also in the one who sent me.  I came into the world as light, so that everyone who believes in me might not remain in darkness”.

We often hear the question: Where was God when this tragedy happened?  Today we hear an answer.

God says: I hear you when you ask, “Where are you, God?” And when I hear this I hear it I know that you are frightened. I walk among you every day and most of the time I am invisible to you. Perhaps you are looking for a powerful leader, a doctor, a wise one who has all the answers to your questions. If this is the one you seek, you seek me. But I do not look powerful. My healing of your wounds and ills is often taken for granted. And my advice to you is regularly ignored. But this does not anger me for I am patient and my love for you is wider, deeper and more intense than you have imagined. I walk with you each day in the darkest of places to bring you light. I carry you through the night to set you in the sunshine. I bind up your injuries and restore your body, mind and soul. I am The One who created you and I am The One who tends to you. Even when you cry out against me I am there.

We seek God and look past his presence because God often comes to us as the battered, the homeless and the bereft. God speaks to us through inversion and hears our cries. Rather than shun the light of truth, we must be open to it. Rather than close the door to uncomfortable information, we must welcome it. Rather than deny growth and transformation, we must embrace it. For this is how God comes to us each hour of each day.


Image from: http://catechesis-a-journey.blogspot.com/2012/10/creation.html

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Sunday, August 2, 2020

jobww[1]Job 38:1

Out of the Storm

Then the Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said . . .

In this first of the Wisdom Books there is much to learn.  A loyal and faithful servant is suddenly struck with misfortune and is further beset by a long series of disasters.  Friends berate him; his wife suggests that he curse God and die; yet through all of the adversity Job keeps his eye on God and his heart in God’s hands.  And it is out of the storm that seems to destroy Job that the Lord speaks.

God says: Despite what some may believe I do not delight in the troubles that stalk the world.  Although you may not fully recognize my presence I am with you always.  Regardless of what others tell you, I will not abandon even one of you or take my watchful eye from you.  I accompany you through the heavy times as well as the joyful ones.  Even as the storm of life rages around you I am in the tempest, and it is out of this tempest that I speak to you as I speak to my servant Job to ask: Were you present when the land and her creatures were created . . . were you there when I placed the stars in the heavens . . . have you ever made the sun rise or the tides ebb?  You do not know the intimate details of my plan but know that I hold you in the palm of my hand.  The calamity that appears so enormous to you is as a grain of sand to me and yet from that grain of sand will come a pearl of great price.  Abide with me as Job does . . . and see what plans I have in mind for you.  Plans for you joy and not your woe.

As Paul tells the Romans, and us: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How inscrutable are God’s judgments and how unsearchable are God’s ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been God’s counselor?  Or who has given God anything that he may be repaid.  For from God and through God and for God are all things.  To God be glory forever. Amen.  (Romans 11:30-36)

storm-sunshine[1]Although we cannot hope to comprehend God’s economy, we have hope in the resurrection.  Although we cannot hope to feel God’s immediate presence in the storms that enter our lives, we have hope in God’s love.

Spend time with the Book of Job today, or enter the word Job into the blog search bar and reflect on Job’s story.


For a thumbnail sketch of what happens in this story, click on the storm image above or go to: http://www.bibletutor.com/level1/program/start/books/oldtest/psalms/job.htm

Sun image from: http://juliebolduc.com/2012/07/25/sunshine-just-after-the-storm/

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Monday, January 20, 2013

Psalm 91: Clinging to God – Part II

boy%20clinging%20to%20mother[1]When we hear the thoughts and emotions shared by the participants in NPR’s Losing Our Religion discussions referenced in yesterday’s Noontime, we recognize that while not all humans cling to God, they cling to a search of some kind.  Perhaps we are genetically wired for this universal pilgrimage. If we take an honest look at the responses to the many petitions we have laid before God we will recognize certain truths.

God usually gives us options.  God always opens doors we do not see.  God cannot turn away or turn us down.   God always acts in love.  God wants to fulfill our dreams and plans.  God places hope in us and asks us to live up to that potential.  God instills faith in us according to some measure we cannot understand.  God is always moving toward us, calling us to intimacy, promising protection, assuring us of love.  God is always clinging to us.

Whoever clings to me I will deliver . . . The amazing story of God is that God wants to save even those of us who do not cling to him.

Whoever knows my name I will set on high . . . We call on God for freedom from our fears and God replies in ways we may not fully comprehend.

All who call upon me I will answer . . . God’s answer to us is more complex than the simple response we humans expect; we do not entirely understand the journey we are on. 

I will be with them in distress . . . We may choose to ignore God’s presence but we cannot completely barricade ourselves against God.

I will deliver them and give them honor . . . We may negate God in all our thoughts and actions yet God somehow finds a way to abide with us.

With length of days I will satisfy them and show them my saving power . . .  Although we struggle with our doubts, anger, fears and anxiety, we cannot shut God out of our existence . . . for God is always present to us . . . clinging to us . . . abiding with us . . . loving us.

As we spend some quiet time today . . . let us at least consider an initial, authentic response.


To hear the interviews conducted in the NPR Morning Edition broadcasts or to read the news stories, go to: http://www.npr.org/series/169065270/losing-our-religion

To find out how to help families who are clinging to life, click on the image above or go to: http://sosbabyhelp.org/Burma%20Disaster.html

A re-post from January 20, 2013.

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Sunday, January 19, 2020

Psalm 91: Clinging to God – Part I

NPR Morning Edition - Losing Our Religion: The Growth of the "Nones" Jan 14, 2013

NPR Morning Edition – Losing Our Religion: The Growth of the “Nones” Jan 14, 2013

This week we spent time with the opening chapters of Deuteronomy reflecting on what it means to be in relationship with God.  This may have generated questions that still linger.  Do we need scientific evidence in order to believe that God is with us and that God exists?  Do we keep the new word that God loves and protects us to ourselves or do we teach this story to our children and to our children’s children?  What does God’s guidance look like?  How are we to respond to God’s assistance?  Do we owe something in return for God’s protection and mercy?  Do we deserve the unmerited successes we are given at no cost?

Psalm 91, a hymn of thanksgiving and remembrance, describes the meaning of God’s presence.  Psalm 91, an anthem of hope and petition, expresses our basic human want to be protected from evil.  Psalm 91, a song of call and response, is an intimate conversation with God.

You need simply watch; the punishment of the wicked you will see.  Looking at the negatives in life it appears that the wicked always win; remembering the many small times when we somehow did not fall into the path of the wicked, we give thanks for God’s enduring wisdom.

You have the Lord for your refuge; you have made the Most High your stronghold.  Knowing that God chooses to love us no matter our faith, no matter our hope, no matter our love, we give thanks for God’s enduring persistence.

No evil shall befall you, no affliction come near your tent.  Choosing to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, God among us, we give thanks for God’s enduring power

For God commands the angels to guard you in all his ways.  Giving ourselves over to the Spirit who abides within each of us, we give thanks for God’s enduring love.

With their hands they shall support you; lest you strike your foot upon a stone.  Accepting the guidance and protection freely given to us, we give thanks for God’s enduring presence.


For a reflection on our Unmerited Success, enter those words into the blog search bar and explore. 

On U.S. National Public Radio (NPR) the Morning Edition journalists have explored religion and spirituality in the series Losing Our Religion.  Today if we take time to listen to even a small portion of these broadcasts we may gauge our own awareness – and gratitude – for God’s presence in our lives.  Click on the image above or go to: http://www.npr.org/series/169065270/losing-our-religion

A re-post from January 19, 2013.

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Revelation 3:20: Dining With God

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Da Vinci: The Last Supper

Revelation 3:20: Behold, I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.

We often see the Book of Revelation as a bizarre, apocryphal tale that we cannot understand without commentary.  Sadly, we decide that it is too symbolic and too strange to have much impact on our lives.

In the penultimate verse of the Book of Revelation, we hear the words; Yes, I am coming soon.  Regretfully, we decide that since we have not seen Jesus in the last half hour in a form we recognize then these words have little to do with our lives.

We flip through the last pages of the Bible, deciding that the events happened too long ago to matter and we close the door to Scripture before we even look at the Book of Revelation.  Disappointedly, we look elsewhere for hope; we go elsewhere for joy; we search other faces for love. And yet . . . Behold, God stands at the door and knocks.

Let us spend some time this week-end discerning God’s presence in our lives.  And let us decide to dine with God tonight.

To reflect more on how we perceive God’s presence and action in our lives, enter the word Door in the search box above and click on a post that speaks to you.

For further thoughts on Dining With God, go to http://nwbible.wordpress.com/2011/06/23/dining-with-god-what-kind-of-faith/


A re-post from July 20, 2012.

Image from: http://www.backtoclassics.com/gallery/leonardodavinci/thelastsupper/

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Isaiah 55:8-9: A Duality of Ways

Parallel paths create a generous, merciful way.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

As God’s creation, we reflect God’s image in a kaleidoscope of diversity. In an enormous mosaic, we compose a wonderfully diverse creator.

“My thoughts,” says the Lord, “are not like yours,
    and my ways are different from yours.
As high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so high are my ways and thoughts above yours. (GNT)

As sisters and brothers of Christ, the Spirit calls us to unity in our wonderful variety. Despite the difficulty of the task, we must find a way to reconcile, to pardon, to accept forgiveness, and to remain open to transformation.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts. (NRSV)

God says: Just as it is difficult for you to understand my deep generosity with all of creation, it is difficult for you to comprehend my plan and my way.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
and your ways are not my ways,” says Adonai.
“As high as the sky is above the earth
are my ways higher than your ways,
and my thoughts than your thoughts. (CJB)

God says: Just as it is wonderful for you to revel in my presence, it is wonderful to live in your way even as you live in mine.

“I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think. (MSG)

God says: Rather than suffer as you work to follow in my way, allow the rain in your life to water the place where you are planted. Let my sustain presence work at growing the blossoms that wait within you. Ask the good seed I have planted in you to be harvest for the poor, the broken-hearted, and the hungry.  

Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them. (Verses 10-11 MSG)

God says: Yes, my ways are not your ways but my essence is also yours. My feet, my hands, my lips and my ears are yours as well. My mind is yours. My heart is yours. My very being resides in you, waning in times of drought, flourishing in times of bounty. There is nothing you can do to fully deny me. There is nowhere you can go to hide from me. Each day when you rise, ask me to join me in the harvest of the day. I am already there. Each noontime when you pause in your busy day, invite me to sit with you. I am already there. Each evening when you retire, rest in me as I rest in you. Yes, I am already there. Although there is a duality in our ways, we walk together always. You are not empty-handed, for I am in your hands. Remember this always.

Tomorrow, the duality of justice.


When we compare varying versions of these verses, we open ourselves to the duality of our ways and God’s.

Image from: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2018/04/parallel-paths.jpg

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The Bristol Psalter: The Capture of David by the Philistines

Psalm 56: When I Fear

Second Sunday of Lent, February 25, 2018

David wrote this psalm when the Philistines in Gath captured him. These verses, especially when we compare varying versions, have much to teach us about how to react to our fears. From THE MESSAGE version, verses 2 and 3.

Not a day goes by
    but somebody beats me up;
They make it their duty
    to beat me up.

When I get really afraid
    I come to you in trust.
I’m proud to praise God;
    fearless now, I trust in God. (MSG)

We may or may not live in circumstances that call for these words. If we do not, we count ourselves as blessed; but if fear does not govern our days and nights, we offer these words for those who gather in hiding places.

My enemies make trouble for me all day long;
    they are always thinking up some way to hurt me!
They gather in hiding places
    and watch everything I do,
    hoping to kill me. (GNT)

With New Testament thinking, we focus on the first line in this stanza as we pray for our enemies, knowing that their anger has locked them in a prison of hate.

Because of their crime, they cannot escape;
in anger, God, strike down the peoples.
You have kept count of my wanderings;
store my tears in your water-skin —
aren’t they already recorded in your book? (CJB)

Stepping into the protective presence of the Lord, we rejoice with verses 9 to 11, knowing that nothing of this world is lasting, and no one in this world can destroy the soul.

This I know, that God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise,
    in the Lord, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I am not afraid.
    What can a mere mortal do to me? (NRSV)

Remembering God’s goodness, we sing verses 12 and 13. We recall our promises to God, and we consider what we might return to God as a sign that we are willing to give our fear over to the One who knows our world best.

O God, I will offer you what I have promised;
    I will give you my offering of thanksgiving,
because you have rescued me from death
    and kept me from defeat.
And so I walk in the presence of God,
    in the light that shines on the living. (GNT)

On this second Sunday of Lent, we remember that this psalm came to us out of David’s anguish in Gath. We remember that God abides with David through this and other catastrophes. And we consider how we might rejoice as we allow God to transform all our fear into delight.

For commentary on David in Gath, visit: http://www.keyway.ca/htm2005/20051212.htm 

Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/379780181051624727/ 

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Esther F: The River is Esther

Edward Armitage: The Feast of Esther

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

It has been a week since Ash Wednesday when we began our Lenten journey of discovery, renewal, and transformation. We have had seven days to contemplate the state of our world and our personal circumstances. We have reflected on the violence in Esther’s world and in our own. Today, amidst bloodshed and reversals, and despite our fears, we find a way to give thanks.

In the apocryphal verses of this story, we hear Mordecai declare his praise for God’s providence. We too, might announce our acclaim.

Then Mordecai said: “This is the work of God. I recall the dream I had about these very things, and not a single detail has been left unfulfilled – the tiny spring that grew into a river, and there was light, and sun, and many waters”.

In the apocryphal verses of this story, we hear Mordecai describe God’s river of compassion, and the river is Esther. We too, might affirm God’s love.

“The river is Esther, whom the king married and made queen”.

In the apocryphal verses of this story, we hear Mordecai announce his gratitude for God’s power. We too, might proclaim our appreciation.

“The Lord saved his people and delivered us from all these evils. God worked signs and great wonders, such as have not occurred among the nations”.

In the apocryphal verses of this story, we hear Mordecai assert his joy for God’s presence. We too, might broadcast to anyone who will listen our confidence that God also abides.

“Gathering together with joy and happiness before God, they shall celebrate these days on the fourteenth and fifteenth of the month Adar throughout all future generations of his people Israel”.

With these apocryphal verses, we experience the river that is God’s power, fidelity, hope and mercy. And this river is Esther.

 Tomorrow,, Esther on the fringes of society.  

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The Gospels: Stories

The Book of Kells: The Four Gospels

The Fourth Day of Christmas, December 28, 2017

From snopes.com: “The Twelve Days of Christmas” is what most people take it to be: a secular song that celebrates the Christmas season with imagery of gifts and dancing and music. Some misinterpretations have crept into the English version over the years, though. For example, the fourth day’s gift is four “colly birds” (or “collie birds”), not four “calling birds.” (The word “colly” literally means “black as coal,” and thus “colly birds” would be blackbirds.)

No matter the color of the birds in these lyrics, most critics agree that the number four refers to the Four Gospels in The New Testament canon. The first Gospel, scholars generally agree, was written by Mark in the first century. Concise, quick-moving, written to a Roman audience, this book is described as: vivid and detailed, active and energetic, wondrous, and demonstrating power over devils. The Gospel of Matthew was also written in the first century but after Mark’s Gospel. A topical retelling of the Christ story, it holds less joy than other Gospels but shows itself as an official, didactic, story of rejection and even despondency. This Gospel is sometimes referred to as the Jewish Gospel. Along with the Book of Acts, Luke writes the third Gospel of prayer, and praise, women, the poor, and the outcast. This artistic Gospel is written before the fall of Jerusalem (70 C.E.) for gentiles and Greeks who were coming into the growing Christian community. The final Gospel was written after the fall of Jerusalem by John of Patmos; and he is also believed to be the writer of the Book of Revelation. This story is a celebration of feasts and testimony. Full of symbols, this highly spiritual Gospel brings God’s Incarnation into sharp reality.

Although these stories vary in detail, approach, style and focus, taken together they bring us a diverse and passionate accounting of Jesus as King (Mark), Jesus as Savior (Luke), Jesus as the Son of God (John), and of the Kingdom (Matthew) into which he invites each of us.

When we read the opening and closing verses of each Gospel, with an understanding of the writer’s audience, we begin to more fully realize God’s love for creation’s diversity, and the great variety in the stories that tell us of Emmanuel, God’s presence among us.

To learn more about each Gospel, click on the links or visit: www.biblehub.com

To learn more about what the Gospels are and are not, visit the PBS Frontline page on The Story of the Storyteller at: https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/story/gospels.html 

Snopes last updated December 23, 2015 https://www.snopes.com/holidays/christmas/music/12days.asp

 

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