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Posts Tagged ‘God’s presence’


Acts 2: Dialog with GodChild-Praying-300x246

Monday, May 2, 2022

In the turmoil of the world, it may be difficult to feel God’s presence; yet surely God is near.

To my words give ear, O Lord, give heed to my groaning, attend to the sound of my cries. (Psalm 5)

In the cacophony of the world, it may be difficult to hear God’s voice; yet surely God speaks.

A voice I did not know said to me: “I freed your shoulder from the burden; your hands are freed from the load. You call in distress and I saved you. (Psalm 81)

In the strife of the world, it may be difficult to believe in God’s peace; yet surely God offers us this gift.

I will hear what the Lord God had to say, a voice that speaks of peace, peace for his people and his friends and those who turn to them in their hearts. (Psalm 85)

In this time and place of the Easter miracle, it may be difficult to witness to our defender God, our redeemer Christ and our healer Spirit, and yet we must. On this fourth Sunday of Easter, let us spend time with God’s word and listen for the word of God that calls us to witness to the enormity of the Easter gift of beatitude.

Spend time today with these verses, use the scripture links to reflect with varying versions, and enter into dialog with God.

Tomorrow, Jesus’ teaching on prayer.


Image from: http://www.raisinggodlychildren.org/2014/03/raising-godly-children-kids-need-god.html

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Matthew 13:54-14:2: Opinionsover-inflating-your-opinion

Wednesday, March 23, 2015

He did not work many mighty deeds in his native place because of their lack of faith. The opinion of those who knew Jesus as a child blocks his neighbors from seeing what is so plainly true.

Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. (1 Corinthians 1:22-25) What, then, does human opinion matter if we do not move and live in God?

Paul tells the Ephesians and he tells us that by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is a gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:6-9) How, then, are we to believe that we can heal and restore unless we heal and restore in Christ Jesus?

Paul asks the Galatians and he asks us: Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort? Have you suffered so much for nothing—if it really was for nothing? Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you because you observe the law, or because you believe what you heard? (Galatians 3:3-5) Why, then, might we put aside the Spirit and believe that we are complete without God’s indwelling presence?

At that time Herod the tetrarch heard of the reputation of Jesus and said to his servants, “This man is John the Baptist. He has been raised from the dead; that is why mighty powers are at work in him”.  The opinion of the one who ruled over Jesus’ native land is influenced by the power he wields and the influence he exerts on others.

Might we compare our own opinion of Jesus with that of those who knew him so well? What is our vision of wisdom, grace, faith, weakness and foolishness? How do we receive the miracle of life that awakens us each day and accompanies us to bed each night?

In our Lenten journey we pause to consider . . . whose opinions matter most to us . . . and how do these opinions influence our thoughts and deeds each day?


Image from: https://eraoftechnology.wordpress.com/2014/03/15/over-inflating-your-opinion/

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prophet_jonah__image_10_sjpg2463Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Joy and Jonah

Reluctance

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today we may or may not identify with Jonah’s story. If we do, we understand that we are loved despite our reluctance to respond to God’s goodness. If we do not, we have all the more reason to rejoice in the presence of the Lord.

“This book is a didactic story with an important theological message. It concerns a disobedient prophet who attempted to run away from his divine commission, was cast overboard and swallowed by a great fish, rescued in a marvelous manner, and sent on his way to Nineveh, the traditional enemy of Israel . . . From this partly humorous story, a very sublime lesson may be drawn. Jonah stands for a narrow and vindictive mentality, all too common among the Jews of that period . . . [This prophecy] has prepared the way for the gospel with its message of redemption for all”. (Senior 1137)

Jonah 2:3: Out of my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me; from the midst of the netherworld I cried for help, and you heard my voice . . . In the maelstrom God is always present.

Jonah 2:6: The waters swirled around me, threatening my life; the abyss enveloped me; seaweed hung about my heard. Down I went to the roots of the mountains; . . . but you brought up my life from the pit . . . In the storms of life God’s promise prevails.

Matthew 12:39-41: [Jesus] answered, “A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. j   For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here”.

joyJonah tells us that despite his reluctance and fear, he finds a reason to rejoice.

Jesus tells us that despite the storm that rages, he is always with us.

If can find the time to spend with this short prophecy, we will be well rewarded. And we may find the strength and joy to celebrate an end to our own reluctance.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1137. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: http://thepropheticbooksofbible.org/

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hosea and gomerSaturday, January 8, 2022

Joy and Hosea – Metaphor

The prophets chronicle a people’s yearning for union with their creator and un uncanny understanding of their own vulnerabilities. Their words warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today Hosea shows us his love for Gomer, his unfaithful wife. And he tells us that God’s joy will renew the darkest betrayal.

“A very sensitive, emotional man who could pass quickly from violent anger to the deepest tenderness. The prophecy pivots around his own unfortunate marriage to Gomer, a personal tragedy which profoundly influenced his teaching. In fact, his own prophetic vocation and message were immeasurably deepened by the painful experience he underwent in his married life”. (Senior 1108)

Hosea 2:15: There I will give back her vineyards to her and transform her Valley of Troubles into a Door of Hope. She will respond to me there, singing with joy as in days long ago in her youth after I had freed her from captivity in Egypt.

We might see this prophecy as a description of God’s infinite capacity for unrelenting compassion and restoration. And we might also experience it as a call to our own potential to forgive and heal.

I will give back her vineyards . . .

We might see this prophecy as Gomer’s inability to remain steadfast or faithful. And we might also experience it as our own opportunity to change.

She will respond to me there . . .

We might see this prophecy as Hosea’s journey from sorrow to joy. And we might also experience it as our own deepening joy in God’s presence in our lives.

She will sing with joy . . .

joySearch the verses of this prophecy and look for the metaphors that reflect your own valleys of troubles and doors of hope. In what relationships have you experienced betrayal by someone quite close to you? Where are the deserts and vineyards in your life? What idols and their priests have drawn you into their false promise? What doors of hope and joy have opened to you?


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 1108. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to further explore scripture, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

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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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