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Posts Tagged ‘God’s time and space’


Nehemiah 3: Organization

Saturday, October 14, 2017

When we spend time with the Genesis creation account, we so often move quickly through the opening verses to get to the heart of the story: God creating light, the dome in the sky, the stars and planets, the creatures of air, water and land, and then human life. Today we witness the organization that Nehemiah brings to the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls and Temple after destruction and exile. In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2)

We have the opportunity today to sit with these two verses and with the third chapter of the Nehemiah story to reflect on how God moves in our lives in small and great ways. And we have the opportunity to open ourselves to the story of how God brings order out of chaos in our lives. What strategies for organization might we use as we open ourselves to the gift of God’s passionate insistence in nurturing and sustaining us?

Do we do as Nehemiah does when he surveys the damage and assesses the work to be done? Do we panic in fear or do we place that fear in God’s enormous, open hands?

Do we do as Nehemiah does when he recognizes the work ahead? Do we offer our daily lives to a pattern of prayer and work in the Spirit?

Do we do as Nehemiah does when he sees that nobles will not put their shoulders to the work? Do we repair gates to re-set the appropriate boundaries in our days and nights?

Do we do as Nehemiah does when he sees that the gardens have fallen into ruin? Do we prepare and consume healthy food to tend to the body?

Do we do as Nehemiah does when he sees that the watchtowers are gone? Do we set a prayer, reflection or meditation life to sustain the spirit?

Do we do as Nehemiah does when he sees that the artificial pool needs repair? Do we interact with others in wise and healthy places and times to nurture and renew the mind?

Each morning when we awake, the wind of God sweeps over us to see what organization our day might need so that we might live in God’s space and time. Each noontime the wind of God sweeps over us to untangle our plans that have gone awry. Each evening the wind of God sweeps over us to lay to rest all the anxieties we have carried into our homes. Each night the wind of God sweeps over us to remind us that all the ways our plans have gone astray are in truth opportunities to put ourselves into God’s all-seeing organization rather than our own.

Tomorrow, thwarting hostile plots.

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Nehemiah 1:5-11Continuity

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The commentary in the Biblia de América points out that the words of Nehemiah, the administrator who rebuilt Jerusalem some 50 years after the devastation left by Nebuchadnezzar and his troops, ring with the words of Moses as the people are about to enter into the land promised to them.   And it strikes me today that these are words echoed by Christ . . . and that they are words we might read with care each morning upon our rising.  It is the confession of the people that they have erred.  It is the cry to God that this people seek God’s companionship.  It is the best response we can make to the promise extended to us.

Moses speaks in Deuteronomy 30 and we see both the scattered and the call to the Diaspora to return.  Just so are we scattered today among the various pagan places where people have the choice to fall down in worship to empty gods or to the one true God.

All of this reminds me of the parting of bread and the spilling of wine which Christ performs during the Eucharistic prayer at Mass on countless altars in countless places each day.  In order for the sharing to begin, the bread must be broken, the wine shared.

There is continuity in this paradox of breaking and joining.  As we break away from our distractions to focus on true life and our vocation in it, we move closer to the person we are meant to be.  As we share the wine of life with others and allow ourselves to be poured out as a libation, we move into intimacy with God.

This is a message worthy of hearing and passing on.  This is a life which cries out for continuance.  It is a belief which deserves continuity.  And if we do not move forward into this act each day . . . what other life will following generations model?  What other life can we imagine worth living?

God’s plan unfolds in God’s time, in God’s places.  God’s vocation coalesces in our actions of love, of hope and of faith.  We make God visible when we continue the work and agree to become his priests and his builders.  We become carpenters in the kingdom of God when we willingly join the long line of followers, when we take up the threads of God’s story to weave them into the lives of countless other pilgrims who commit to the continuity of the one great story . . . that we are created in love . . . that we are create for love . . . and that are to love in return.

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on February 3, 2009.

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Luke 1: God’s Yardstick – Elizabeth

In God’s Wisdom and Time

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Jacques Blanchard: The Holy Family with Saint Elizabeth and the Infant Saint John the Baptist and the Infant Jesus

Jacques Blanchard: The Holy Family with Saint Elizabeth and the Infant Saint John the Baptist and the Infant Jesus

In these opening days of a new year, we look for ways to better see God’s yardstick in our lives, and for ways to leave the world’s yardstick behind.

All four Gospels tell us the story of John the Baptist who goes before Jesus to announce the good news of God’s coming to the faithful but it is in Luke’s telling that we hear about John’s parents, Elizabeth and Zachariah. Today we spend time reflecting on the power of God to do the impossible, the fidelity of God remaining with the faithful, and the love of God who guides, consoles, rescues and transforms.

Using the scripture link, we read different versions of this story that weaves the lives of Zachariah and Elizabeth, Joseph and Mary, John and Jesus into a fabric that serves as a mantle to protect us from the winds of time and place. We allow the power of these verses to bring us the wisdom of God’s time, God’s space, and God’s plan. We allow the understanding of God’s yardstick in the life of Elizabeth to bring us the quiet peace and radiant joy of the Christmas season. And we determine to bring this wisdom and peace to bear in our own lives.

To better understand the story of Elizabeth, visit: http://www.womeninthebible.net/2.4.Elizabeth.htm 

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James 4:13-17: A Wisp of Fog

Friday, October 23, 2015

Misty Fog on Mount Shasta, USA

Misty Fog on Mount Shasta, USA

You’re nothing but a wisp of fog, catching a brief bit of sun before disappearing. 

In the MESSAGE version of these verses, we hear James’ voice quite clearly asking us who we think we are. This is what we read in the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD Bible.

You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.

Are we to see ourselves as insignificant and unimportant in God’s plan? How are we to make the best of our lives in the midst of God’s creation? How might we best find union in God’s space and time? What might we offer God as a sign of our understanding that we are made in God’s image?

James brings us up short with his blunt yet welcome words for it is in these verses that he explains how we are live and be in the present rather than worry and stress about the future.

Reading different versions of these verses brings their meaning into our hearts, words, and actions.

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Matthew 6:25-34: Dependence on Godmy child I have this

April 30, 2015

This is the most basic lesson we have to learn as followers of Christ; and it is the lesson with which we struggle most frequently: Do not worry about your life . . . Are you not more important than [the birds in the sky]?  Yet we allow our fears about our survival to color what we do rather than allowing God to be the ultimate guide of our actions.

Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life span?  We are powerless when it comes to time and space and yet we allow magical thinking to convince us that we can control the clock, that we can control our physical space.

If God so clothes the grass of the fields . . . will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?  Yet we store up and hoard our resources without sharing, thinking that this will keep us safe from disaster.

All of these things [worry about food and clothes] the pagans seek . . . But seek first the kingdom [of God] . . . and all of these things will be given you besides.   We delude ourselves when we give credit to ourselves for the home in which we live, the clothes we wear and the vehicle we drive.  We forget that if we did not have the brain power and sense of aesthetics given us by God, our redemption given us by Christ and the good counsel given us by the Spirit . . . our circumstances would certainly be different.  Too much stress keeps us from seeing that we are already given more than what we seek.

living in god's care - handsDo not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.  We lend ourselves to prideful thinking when we take credit for all we have and do.  We must allow God to be our sole guide in all matters of the heart, mind and soul.

Sufficient for a day is its own evil.  Allowing anxiety to take us over is a sign that we do not believe that God will care for us . . . and this self-sufficiency can separate us from God.

Just yesterday evening at a gathering of friends, as an acquaintance was voicing her fears for the present and future, another member of the group said:  Well, now you have the opportunity to learn the most important lesson of all . . . trusting God.  The first woman replied:  I thought I had already learned that one.  Several of us – those who have been guided by the suffering we have experienced – smiled and nodded.

matthew_6_25_34_by_hopedreamer17-d2yj65tAnd so we reflect . . . We want to avoid suffering at all cost – not realizing that it is the suffering that brings us best to God. 

And so we pray . . . These are hard sayings . . . these are the lessons of Christ’s disciples . . . these are the gifts of a life lived hard and well . . . a life lived in Christ.  Amen. 

A Favorite from June 16, 2010.

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Monday, December 23, 2013

6596191_orig[1]Zephaniah 3:20

Coming Home

At that time I will bring you home, and at that time I will gather you; for I will give you renown and praise, among all the peoples of the earth, when I bring about your restoration before your very eyes, says the Lord.

We yearn to go back to a place and time of innocence.  We miss the elders who peopled our childhood years.  We look for comfort in old, familiar places.  Zephaniah reminds us today that all of these dreams are already fulfilled.

God says: Rather than see the world around you as chaos come to me so that I might give you rest.  Rather than look at what is missing in your lives consider all that you are and have.  Rather than look for consolation turn to others who need your consolation. This is the gathering Zephaniah describes to you.  This is the restoration he proclaims.  It is the healing I bring to each of you when you decide to live and think and act in me.  You do not have to wait for the death of your body to experience this coming home to me . . . you are already there.  Put aside your chores and your worried for a little time . . . and come to me.  I have much I wish to give you.

coming-home[1]Time, people and places. We feel nostalgia as we recall good memories and ward off the bad.  We re-create in our mind’s eye the faces of loved ones we can no longer see or touch.  We close our eyes and conjure up the scents and aromas of those places we thought we had lost but that we now somehow find in an old reminiscence.  God’s time is eternal; God brings all of us together in the Mystical Body of Christ; God is in all places at all times.  When we join this great coming home . . . all of time, all the faithful, and all places come together in union with this God who loves us so much that he chooses to live among us.   Zephaniah tells us that when we come home to God we are already there in those times and places we miss, we are already there with all of our beloved.

In this last week of Advent when the day of Jesus’ birth nears, let us consider for a time the renown and praise that we are already given by God.  Let us consider the renewal this season brings to us.  And let us go gladly to take part in this gathering up and this coming home.

For more reflections on the words of the prophet Zephaniah, enter his name into the blog search bar and explore.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Ghirlandaio: Annunciation of John the Baptist to Zechariah

Ghirlandaio: Annunciation of John the Baptist to Zechariah

Luke 1:20-25

Speechless

But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the days these things take place. 

We cavil against God’s plan; we complain about God’s time; we fuss with the details of God’s space and time. And this despite the evidence of God’s love and care that stand boldly and honestly before us.  We persist in worrying and hoping to control.

God says: The story of Zechariah may seem a harsh one but when you look more closely you will see another layer.  In all those days that Zechariah could not speak he drew nearer to me than he had at any other time in his life.  And out of this great restraint and learning comes the beautiful fruit of his knowing my love.

We too frequently see the details of God’s plan as stumbling blocks rather than stepping stones.  We too seldom trust that God’s infinite plan brings compassion to all.

The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces; the reproach of God’s people the Lord will remove from the whole earth.  (Isaiah 25:8)

Listen to the words of the song Speechless by Steven Curtis Chapman and imagine what we might learn when we cease talking and begin to listen.  Imagine the strength of God’s love that leaves us speechless.

Visit the Benedictus page on this blog to reflect on Zechariah’s response to God when his speech returns.

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