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Posts Tagged ‘God’s presence’


ancient_prison_by_p_h_o_t_o_n1Monday, October 4, 2021

Jeremiah 52:31-34

The End – Part III: Hope

In the last verses of this prophecy we read an addendum that at first glance we might toss away as another confusing story from scripture. We see before us the tale of the last two kings of Judah: Jehoiachin who surrendered himself and his family to Nebuchadnezzar to live in exile, and Zedekiah, who plotted against Nebuchadnezzar with the Egyptians, later fled during the Babylonian siege, was captured, blinded and was also sent to Babylon. Years later Evil-merodach brings Jehoiachin from his prison cell to give him a life-time stipend and a place of relative honor in the foreign court; Zedekiah does not appear again in this saga of violence and turmoil.  What is their end? We have few details. How could they have avoided capture and destruction? We have few answers. What might we learn from this dire account? That is our reflection for today.

Jeremiah’s prophecy is well spoken but ignored. Are we the prophet who speaks against the wind? Are we those who might be saved by the prophet’s warning? In either case, the fear of capture and destruction has already overwhelmed us. We have no other place to rest but in God’s hope and compassion.

Jeremiah’s life is a foreshadowing of the suffering and death of Jesus the Nazorean. Are we the people of Judah who hear his words and are transformed? Are we those who scoff and persecute him? In either scenario, the tumult of life has already entangled us. We have no other place to turn but to God’s strength and mercy.

Jeremiah’s words resonate in our world today. Are we those who hide from the reality of famine, civil strife, epidemics and enormous natural disaster because they do not touch us personally? Are we those who work against catastrophe and injustice wherever and however we can? In either event, we are already involved and connected. We may not recognize that a calamity’s one last flickering ember of hope lies in us. We have no other place to rest but in God’s presence and love.

Cataclysm is part of the human experience as is God’s hope. Catastrophe haunts our daily living while God’s providence serves as guide. Disaster can never be avoided, nor can God’s call to love.

Pergamom Museum, Berlin: Jehoiachin Ration Tablet

Pergamom Museum, Berlin: Jehoiachin Ration Tablet

Jehoiachin and Zedekiah share a place in the Babylonian court although from different vantage points. At any time in their life journey God grants them the opportunity to live in hope, in a manner worthy of God’s call. From the darkness of his blinded vision, Zedekiah has only to seek and accept God’s forgiveness. Perhaps he does. We shall never know. From the shame of surrender and captivity, Jehoiachin has only to ask for God’s hope and receive it. Perhaps he does. We shall never know. From the place where we stand in our life’s journey we have only to look for God’s presence and accept it. Perhaps we do. If so, then we will always know that God is with us from the beginning to the end. God abides through capture and dwells within during destruction. Whether our fate is in the hands of our own Nebuchadnezzar or his son Evil-merodach, there is never an end without hope, for there is never an end without God.

Tomorrow, Part IV . . . In a Manner Worthy


To read about the excavation of Jehoiachin’s ration tablets in Irag, click on images above or visit: http://forourlearning.wordpress.com/  OR http://www.livius.org/ne-nn/nebuchadnezzar/anet308.html 

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ascendingSaturday, September 25, 2021

Psalm 119:54-55

Our Songs

Your statutes have been my songs wherever I make my home. I remember your name in the night, O Lord, and keep your law.

Life brings many forms of darkness, night times when we feel as though we are apart and journeying to a half-known destination, places that remind us of once-sacred spaces that we can no longer can find. It is at these moments and in these places that we most often are uncertain and even afraid. It is in these places that we look for a security we once had and are no longer certain of how to find. But these dark pilgrimages are sacred opportunities to draw closer to God. These journeys of faith and hope are holy encounters with the in-dwelling Spirit. These passages are encounters with the eternal and universal Christ who loves us so dearly that he insists on searching for us even if we are the one lost when ninety-nine are found.

God says: The patriarchs lived in covenant with me through which we expressed our love for one another. The Hebrew nation made a tent in which I dwelt so that we might have an intimate union. The early followers of my son Jesus celebrated the Eucharist to create a sacred place and time that we might share. You also come to me in so many ways at so many times in so many places. The truth is this . . . that wherever you are, I am. Wherever I am, there is a possibility for peace. Wherever two or more of you are gathered in my name, the impossible becomes possible. When you ascend to the holy temple within yourself, sing your own song of praise. When you think of my laws, consider how they free you rather than bind against you. For I have planted my hope in your heart. I have sown my fidelity in your mind and my courage in your soul. Allow my presence to break forth in joyful song as we celebrate and give thanks for the gift of one another.


Spend some time comparing different versions of these verses at the scripture site above. Read through the Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120 – 134) and allow the ancient verses to resonate within. Share your gratitude through acts of kindness and justice.  And sing out joy and praise to God who never leaves our side.

To learn more about Songs of Ascent, visit: http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/655450/jewish/What-is-a-Song-of-Ascents.htm 

For a meditation with Psalm 130, click on the image above or go to: http://jdittes.blogspot.com/2010/10/more-than-watchmen-wait-for-morning.html

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waiting-on-the-benchSaturday, July 10, 2021

Romans 8:26-28

The Waiting

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

We so often find ourselves thinking that God’s plan is not suitable, not adequate, not timely or – worse – non-existent. If we wonder what God thinks, we do not have to look far.

God says: I know that you can never hear these words too much: Do not be afraid; I am with you always. I know that when you are weary and your resources are low that you become frightened and even panicky. I know that your patience wears thin; I know that you doubt that my plan has intelligence or design. Read the words from my Book of Wisdom in Chapter 13 verses 13, 16-19 and know that your perfection arrives not in your lack of error . . . but in your perseverance with me, your clemency toward others and your generosity in the Spirit. Consider all of this . . . and know that I love you.

Look at the other Biblical versions of today’s readings and think about how we recognize God in the patience, clemency and generosity of others. Choose four different versions from the drop down menus and consider why and how we wait for God’s justice. Consider where and when we see God’s goodness.


Image from: https://rickezell.com/2018/02/07/4-reflections-while-you-wait/ 

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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Chronicles

King-Solomons-Temple

King Solomon’s Temple

For a number of days we have wandered through the chapters of Chronicles much as the Hebrews wandered through the Sinai desert. We know our goal and where it is likely to be found. We know who guides us past calamity and who protects us from devastating harm. We have considered where and how to build our temples and to whom. We have reflected on the meaning of achievement, endurance, defeat, success and exile. We have considered the value of passing along our faith stories and of recording the joy of God’s presence in our lives. We have examined time and the role it plays in our perception of self and God. Ultimately, we arrive in a place and moment when we can no longer deny that we are created out of love, for love, by love. Ultimately, we come to understand that our lives are our own sacred chronicle and that this history-of-self is our song of thanksgiving to God.

Let us spend some time today to reflect on who we find in our own faith story. What family members or friends have called us to remain in God? When does our story begin? When do we run along the heights of happiness and when do we run through dry valleys? What separates us from God? How and why are we able to return? When does Christ act in a specific way to heal our broken-ness? When do we feel abandoned or alone? And when do we feel the presence of the Spirit so strongly that it cannot be denied?

As we move through our days, let us pause to celebrate our commitment to the story we say we are living. As we move through our nights, let us reflect on specific words or images as we record our story of faith and salvation. And let us decide to share our story with fellow travelers, just as the Chronicler does.


Image from: https://www.ancient-origins.net/ancient-places-asia/first-temple-crowning-achievement-king-solomon-and-home-legendary-ark-covenant-021683

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Monday, June 21, 2021

1 Chronicles 16

The Ark Comes to Jerusalem

david dances before the ark

Robert Leinweber: David Dancing Before the Ark

Here – and also in 2 Samuel 6 – we see David bring the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem amid celebration and festivity. The presence of God brings a response of joy and thanksgiving from the people. The priest blesses both the occasion and the faithful; David cavorts with elation; a meal is served. The people worship God because the Ark containing sacred text, sacred food and the sacred blooming staff has taken up residence. These people feel invulnerable, joyful and grateful.

Within each of us is the place where God dwells and where scripture flourishes like Aaron’s staff. We are sustained by the new desert manna: the body and blood of Christ. We take this dwelling with us on our desert journey. We too might leap for joy and bow down in reverence and happiness. We too might bring the Ark to Jerusalem. There is no obstacle to knowing God’s presence except the obstacles we ourselves set up.

Give thanks to the Lord, invoke his name.

God is the originator of all that is good and holy.

Glory in his holy name; rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord!

We can offer up all that sorrows us when we come into the presence of the Lord.

Look to the Lord in his strength; seek to serve him constantly.

We honor God when we perform his works rather than our own.

Give to the Lord . . . bring gifts and enter into his presence.

The best offering to God is that of ourselves. We carry to him the burdens of our day, our attempts to do his bidding.

Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his kindness endures forever.

We do not need to build an ark to house our sacred reminders of God’s presence for we already possess it. It is our hearts that hold all sacredness holy.

We do not need to build a temple to God for it is already built. It is the temple of our bodies.

We do not need to offer burnt sacrifices to God for they are already present in any sorrow we experience.

So let us bring the burnt remnants of our losses, let us give thanks for God’s providence and care, and let us rejoice in the knowing that we are created for love by love.

David brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem to place it in the tent set aside for Yahweh.

Let us lay our burdens on the altar of our lives . . . and like David, let us leap and dance for joy.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 21, 2009.

Image from: https://www.hippostcard.com/listing/as-david-dancing-before-the-ark-robert-leinweber-00-10s/17276478

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family treeWednesday, June 16, 2021

1 Chronicles 1-9

Paraleipomena

Some of us have a great deal of information about who is in our family tree; others of us have less. Our family history – whether or not we have the details – is certainly filled with characters and incidents that read much like the stories in sacred scripture. We are all human beneath the skin and our stories vary, but they carry the common themes of suffering and joy. Perhaps we stick to a lineage of names and dates with little else attached because we are afraid of who and what we might find once we begin the digging. We are afraid that the pain far outweighs the celebration.

The Chronicler, as we have investigated in other Noontimes, originally compiled both books of Chronicles along with the books of Nehemiah and Ezra in one historical work. This bore the Greek title of Paraleipomena meaning “things omitted, or passed over (in Samuel and Kings)”. We learn, when we further examine notes, that “sacred history” is not so much an exact accounting of events in the past as it is the story of how the living God moves and acts in “the affairs of men”. The Chronicler’s first concern is to bring to his reader “the divine or supernatural dimension of history”. (Senior 408)

I am imagining how our lives might be different if we had access to the history of how God has moved in our family tree, how he brought ancestors safely across oceans and through hardships, answered prayers, abided with love. If we knew more about how God has moved in the lives of our elders, we might be less fearful about the future. Once we heard a story or two of the miracles we know live in our history, we might ask for them in our present, and we might be hopeful about the future.

As we move through the days we are given, we might think about recording some of the ways God has blessed us so that those who follow will have a better understanding of the importance of God’s presence and grace in our human existence. Our descendants will recognize that our one true home is God, that our one true hope is Christ, that our one true comforter is the Spirit.

Perhaps we hesitate in this search because we are not certain about what to set down or what to omit. If this is so, all we need do is to begin . . . and trust Christ to complete the tale, for he is the one who told his followers as recorded in John 16:33: In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.

How can we go wrong when we allow Christ to be the author of our personal Paraleipomena?


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.408. Print.

A Favorite Noontime from May 17, 2010.

Go to the Family Album page on this blog and consider sharing a story from your own Paraleipomena as a comment.

Image from: https://www.theredheadedhostess.com/home-and-family/home-and-garden-home-and-family/family-tree-boy-version/

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Monday, February 8, 2021

3_letters_quph[1]Psalm 119:145-152

Qoph

I call with all my heart, O Lord . . . I call to you to save me . . . I rise before dawn and cry out . . . I put my hope in your words.  

In this eighteenth stanza of Psalm 119 we join our voice with the psalmist’s as we respond to the call God sends us at birth.

God says: It brings me joy to hear your response to the song I have been singing to you. Your call can arrive at any hour of any day or night. It can come to me from any place and I will come to you for I always know when and where you are. My words are true. My promise is authentic. You can place all your hope in me for I bring rejoicing out of disaster and joy out of sorrow. You have every reason to trust me explicitly and totally. For I am your God . . . and you are my people.

Rather than curse the darkness, let us hand over our worries to God. Rather than follow an easy, convenient, little god, let us respond to the call we receive from the one, the only, our compassionate God.

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  o, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the names of the Father, and of the Son, and of the holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age”.  (Matthew 28:16-20)

Following Christ is never easy for The Way is strewn with obstacles that bring us anxiety, doubt and frustration. But this same journey is also graced with the presence of Christ in every hour of every day and night. Let us bolster one another with courage as we finally respond to God’s call.

Tomorrow, Resh.


For more on how Qoph speaks to us of redemption and God’s loving, omniscient presence, go to: http://www.inner.org/hebleter/kuf.htm 

 

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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Carlo Dolci: The Angel Gabriel

Carlo Dolci: The Angel Gabriel

Luke 1:18-19

How Shall We Know This?

I am Gabriel who stands before God.  I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.  

Gabriel appears to Daniel (Daniel 9:21), Zechariah (Luke 1:19) and Mary (Luke 1:26) to announce good news from God. We too want to hear words that lift our hearts as we manage the complexities and challenges of living.

God says: My angels bring you constant messages although they struggle to be heard amid the cacophony of your lives. If you are able to find a regular quiet time – even if for only a few moments each day – when you will draw apart to open the door of your heart to me, you will feel the presence of my angels. You will also feel my own presence within you. How shall you know this?  Only come to me . . . and you will know.

The words of Psalm 138 remind us: I thank you, Lord, with all my heart, you have heard the words of my mouth.  In the presence of the angels I will bless you . . . I thank you for your faithfulness and love  . . . You increased the strength of my soul . . . All earth’s kings shall thank you . . . They shall sing of the Lord’s ways. 

How shall we know that God is great?

St. Paul reminds the Colossians: Be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 

How shall we know? When we create time for God in our hectic lives, we will come to know.


Enter the word angels into the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: https://today.duke.edu/2017/08/medicis-painter-carlo-dolci

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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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