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Posts Tagged ‘God’s vineyard’


Hosea 6: The Broken-Hearted

Thursday, June 6, 2019

We frequently look at this prophecy written by one betrayed in the most intimate of ways.  We will need this lesson because in our lives we will often find suffering at the hands of those we trust.  This prophet speaks to us from the depths of sorrow in authenticity about his own intense suffering as a result of the infidelity of his wife, the harlot Gomer.

Chapter 6 begins with a verse that stands out to us because it speaks to our broken-ness as people: broken covenants, broken vows, broken oaths, broken words, broken spirits, broken hearts.  But the beauty of this prophecy and of this first verse is this: for as much as we are broken, we might heal others . . . and in so carrying and living out Christ’s message, we might ourselves be healed.

In the morning reading in Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime, we find an important reading: Mark 3:13-19.  Jesus has cured many people of their physical broken-ness and now the throngs are pressing in upon him in such a way that He told his disciples to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him.  This is where we come into the story.  Jesus ascends a mountain – usually a sign of moving toward God in scripture – and then he calls forth those whom he wanted.  And these came to him.  He appoints them as apostles that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons.  Among these twelve is the Iscariot . . . Judas.  Even God allows betrayers to enter his camp, knowing that they will break his heart.

What an amazing God is this who comes to live among us to suffer as we do; yet this is exactly the good news that we have yearned to hear.  How will our broken hearts be mended?  How will broken oaths be healed and broken friendships fixed?  We step forward, called out of the crowd as apostles, to be sent into the world with God’s authority to drive out demons and to heal.  And how do we obtain this authority?  By participating – with Christ – in his suffering and death upon the cross.  This is what Hosea comes to understand through his own agony as he watches his wife dangle herself before any man who will take her.  This is what we can understand as we suffer at the hands of those we thought we knew . . . those in whom we trusted . . . those with whom we shared our inmost thoughts, desires and fears.

When we look at some of the images in Hosea 6 we see the depth of betrayal.  Verse 4: Your piety is like a morning cloud, like the dew that early passes away.  Verse 9: As brigands ambush a man, so do bands of priests slay on the way to Shechem, committing monstrous crimes. 

And so we pray that broken hearts be healed, that we become messengers of the good news that Christ has come to heal.  We ask for the gift of willingness to enter God’s vineyard, that we allow our suffering to be converted into the authority of an apostle . . . so that we might in turn drive out demons in Christ’s name.

Good and gracious God the Creator, God the Saver, God the Holy Spirit that lives within us:  Keep us close to you in all we suffer that we might be with you as your apostles.  Teach us your way of love that we might go forth as your apostles.  Continue to speak to us of your story that we might preach it as your apostles.  Grant us the patience to rest in your word that it might give us authority as your apostles.  Give us the power to drive out and away all the demons that settle into us without our knowing.  We ask this in Christ’s name.  Amen.


A re-post from May 23, 2012.

Image from: http://www.officialpsds.com/Glass-Shatered-From-A-Broken-Heart-PSD59964.html

Tickle, Phyllis.  THE DIVINE HOURS: PRAYERS FOR SPRINGTIME. New York: Doubleday, 2001. Print.

Rewritten from May 3, 2009 Noontime Reflection. 

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Psalm 80: Prayer for a Persecuted People

Friday, March 24, 2017

Restore us, O LORD of hosts; let your face shine upon us, and we will be saved.

Persecution often follows us when we answer God’s call to act as God’s disciples, when we carry truth to people who do not want to see it. When we witness to an injustice, we want to rely on God’s wisdom, strengthen our resolve with Scripture – a manifestation of Christ among us, and rest in prayer with the Spirit.

Several years ago when I struggled with a particularly challenging set of circumstances, I left the student dining hall to go to my classroom where I might find some quiet. I had to prepare a report I knew would displease our leaders in that it spoke to a truth they did not want to hear. In the hush of that noontime, I flipped open the Bible that always lies near my desk and the pages fell open to Psalm 80, a prayer for those living through persecution. Had I come across an immediate answer to my prayer?

The opening lines call for help and restoration, and are followed by an image of the vine brought out of Egypt, an allegory familiar to the prophets Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Hosea and Micah. Jesus uses this symbolic tale to describe his relationship with us: he is the vine, we are the branches (John 15:1-17). He sustains and nourishes; we are the fruit of Christ’s labor and love in us.

Anyone familiar with vineyard work knows that each winter the vines are cut back drastically in order that the plant become stronger and the fruit more dense and fine. Father Richard Veras writes that our hearts are encrusted and that Jesus must break through that crust in order to soften our hearts. “This crust is a barrier between him and the heart, and he will never respect or politely tolerate any such barriers”. Veras uses the examples of the Samaritan Woman at the well and Pontius Pilate to make his point. “The Samaritan woman’s barrier was doubt that true love and friendship could exist. Pilate’s barrier was power and position”. Jesus prunes their hearts and gives them the opportunity to do what is right. They have the option to choose.

And so do we. Each day. In every encounter with each person we encounter. DO we withdraw to hide within a structure of deceit and authority, or do we call for help and pruning? DO we turn away from the Creator, Savior, and Keeper, or do we ask for redemption?

Restore us, O LORD of hosts; let your face shine upon us, and we will be saved.

If we spend time with this psalm today, we might find our own prayer for the times when we are persecuted in Christ’s name.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 13, 2007.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.13 (2007). Print.  

 

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Tissot: The Pharisees Question Jesus

Tissot: The Pharisees Question Jesus

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mark 12:18-27

Resurrection – Part II: Waiting 

Have you not read . . .?

Yesterday we explored the clash of movements into which Jesus steps and we can see why certain sectors of ancient society might oppose the teachings of Jesus.  He strikes at the root of power and influence.  If we all have access to the temple through our personal relationship with God in the person of Jesus, we have no need of hierarchy.  If we all have access to God through our deeds rather than through temple sacrifice, we have no need of priests.  If we all have access to forgiveness and justice through God as sisters and brothers of Christ, then we have no need of a power structure’s intercession on our behalf.  As siblings in one family, we are all called to intercede for one another.  As children of the living God, we all have access to new life and new beginnings.  This is, indeed, good news for us . . . but not for these Sadducees who challenge Jesus because they see in him an end of their hold on power, an end to their income, an end to life as they know it.  We can understand their fear, and we might dig deep within ourselves to see our clinging to authority and structure. How much of the Sadducee hides within our own heart? How willing are we to wait on God’s plan? How eager are we to live in the Spirit of discipleship that holds little comfort and even less prestige? How prepared are we to step into the vineyard to gather the fruit of God’s harvest rather than the fruit of our own plan?

God says:  I understand that the plans you make in my name are good and honest and that you see your ideas as an outflowing of my heart. I love the energy you spend on my work. I am enchanted by the care you take in the precision of your labor. I am in love with your goodness and mercy in my name. I also see much more than you can see. I understand far more than you can understand and this is as it should be. I created you. You do not create me. I love you and call you to goodness. This is all that I require: that you act in prudence, watch in hope, remain in faith and witness in love. You can give me no greater gift than the full and complete surrender of yourself to the work of my Kingdom.

Are we prepared to watch for the resurrection that in promised to each of us? Do we have waiting hearts and minds open ready to receive the gift of new life that comes to us without our asking?

Tomorrow, working . . . 

Adapted from a reflection written on November 22, 2008.

 

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

6157010118[1]John 13:34

The New Commandment

I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I have loved you, so should you love one another.

This is so simple and yet so complicated.  This is so clear and yet so foggy.  This is so down-to-earth and yet so mystical.  Jesus is quite clear about how we are to live and why. All else stems from this one commandment of love.

God says: I know that when you see or hear these words you are perplexed.  Many of you are looking for something more vertical and less horizontal, with layers of rules and bureaucracy, with rating systems and hierarchy, but your relationship with me is as simple as this law.  Others want only comfort and drifting forgetfulness but my love is wider and deeper, and more intense than a mere longing.  I know that you look for guarantees, escape hatches and safety values, but none are needed here.  Life with me is really this simple.  Love one another. Put away your anger and hate.  Put aside your gossiping and comparing.  I love each of you.  Deal with your greed and envy.  Laziness and pride are tools you do not need for the work you complete in my vineyard.  I call each of you and you need only this one quality: Love.  It is all.  It is everything.  It is more than enough.  All else stems from this one practice I long to see you embrace.  Love one another as I have loved you.  It is all I ask of you.  It is the only command I give to you.  And yet it is everything.

We humans tend to over-complicate our relationship with God.  We spend lifetimes seeking wisdom and knowledge when all we need to know is walking with us in the person of God all the while.  We spend hours obsessing and harboring when all we need do is forgive, trust God and live in the Spirit.  We spend years alternately ignoring and anguishing about who and what Jesus is while the risen Christ takes up our heavy yoke with us each day.  God gives us this one command.  There is really nothing more we need do.

In John 8:1-11, the Pharisees ask Jesus a question as they try to entrap him.  Read the story to see what happens when Jesus bends to write on the ground with his finger . . . and imagine what he wrote.  Then imagine where you are standing and what you are thinking . . . and tell this story to someone else today.

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