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Posts Tagged ‘God’s Yardstick’


2 Chronicles 26: Pride and Fall

Sunday, February 5, 2023

Rembrandt: The King Uzziah Stricken with Leprosy

Rembrandt: The King Uzziah Stricken with Leprosy

This chapter in 2 Chronicles tells us a great deal about Uzziah, a promising man who falls when he presumes that he can be God to himself and others in the way he chooses.  He might represent the perennial flaw in humankind.

But after he had become strong, he became proud to his own destruction and broke faith with the Lord, his God.

And how did this happen?

He entered the temple of the Lord to make an offering on the altar of incense.

Why was this incorrect?

But Azariah the priest, and with him eighty other priests of the Lord, courageous men, followed him . . . saying to him: “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord, but for the priests . . . who have been consecrated for this purpose”. 

Today, we each bring our offerings to the Lord.  Christian liturgies often provide a time when we can offer ourselves back to God both collectively and individually. These moments give us the opportunity to be priests ourselves. They bring us the opening to enter fully into relationship with God, in our personal service to God on the manner God shows us. The Old Testament Law asks us to remain in covenant with the Lord and to serve God with burnt offerings and sacrifice. The New Testament Law of Love asks us to live the Beatitudes in an intentional way. Both Testaments bring us a yardstick with which we might measure our adherence to this law, our fulfillment of old statutes, our flowering in Christ. The presence of Christ that we bring to our troubled world.

Today’s readings in MAGNIFICAT are God’s constancy and ours.  Our fidelity to God and to one another. God’s law is not a set of arbitrary rules but the concrete shape given to the lasting covenant that God has made with human beings – broken many times by faithless people, kept from generation to generation by our God.  God’s faithful constancy is an anchor in an ever-shifting world, where love declared today is spurned tomorrow, and all other certainties are blown away by the wind. Even when those who love us are inconstant, we must remain constant in our love of them for in this way we reflect God’s constancy to us.

Pride calls us to our false selves. Constancy in God helps us to remain faithful in God. The story of Uzziah is one in which we may see ourselves or others puffing up in self-importance, blinding our vision to the fall that inevitably follows. God’s Law of fidelity and gratitude never fails; it brings flourishing rather than destruction. God’s laws are the statutes we teach ourselves and our children. They are the laws that open us to possibility, and that bind our hearts forever to God.

On this last Sunday before Lent, let us consider the temptation to  ignore pride in our own lives. And let us determine to remain constant and faithful to God.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 27, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 27.2 (2008). Print.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uzziah

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Judges 11 and 12: Shibboleth

Saturday, February 4, 2023

The Crack (Shibboleth): Doris Salcedo - The Tate Modern, London

The Crack (Shibboleth): Doris Salcedo – The Tate Modern, London, UK

From WIKIPEDIA: “In numerous cases of conflict between groups speaking different languages or dialects, one side used shibboleths . . . to discover hiding members of the opposing group . . . Today, in the English language, a shibboleth also has a wider meaning, referring to any ‘in-crowd’ word or phrase that can be used to distinguish members of a group from outsiders – even when not used by a hostile other group”.

As we read today’s Noontime, we see how the early tribes of Israel struggled to retain autonomy; we also see that they lived in a world which required people to evaluate loyalty. Their daily survival depended on this.

In our own world, we will use our own shibboleths ­ – either consciously or unconsciously – and when we do, what are the results?  Do we find ourselves closer to God or more distant?  Are we moving toward serenity and union with God, or away from the eternal peace brought by Jesus?  Do our shibboleths introduce us to the freedom bought by Christ or do they sell us out to an imprisonment which stifles us?

The story of the chieftain Jephthah reads like the script of a television drama – full of twists, promises, ironies and secret shibbolethsLoyalties are tested, wars are waged, outcomes are weighed; yet in the end it is the spirit of the Lord that prevails.  Jephthah makes a vow to the Lord and loses his beloved daughter Mizpah; he also conquers nations in the name of his God.  Much of this is difficult to understand; most of it is hard to take; all of it is – in some way or other – the way we live today.

Children peering into the shibboleth at the Tate Modern in London

Children peering into the shibboleth at the Tate Modern in London

As we move through our own cycle of coming and going, let us examine the vows we swear, the skirmishes in which we engage, and our manner of waiting on the spirit of the Lord.  And when we begin to winnow the valid from the false in order to survive, let us examine the shibboleths we choose.

A Favorite from Friday, February 12, 2010.

 As we move toward spring with the call for atonement, the promise of redemption, and a time of inner reflection, we have another opportunity to explore God’s yardstick in our lives, and to put aside the false shibboleths that mislead us.


Images from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shibboleth_%28artwork%29 and https://marymagdalen.blogspot.com/2014/05/shibboleth.html

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Luke 17:20-37: Making Ready

Friday, February 3, 2023Kingdom_of_God

The coming of the kingdom cannot be observed, and no one will announce, “Look, here it is,” or “There it is”.  For behold, the kingdom of God is among you . . . But first [the Son of Man] must suffer greatly and be rejected by his generation.

The days of Noah – the days of Lot – the days of Christ – today.   Floods – brimstone – the crucifixion – the perils of today’s world.

We are told that the kingdom is not announced to us in the way we might expect.  We are told of coming consequences.  It is explained that we must use senses other than those we use for eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.  It is explained that the kingdom is already among us.  We are told that the one who saves us will first suffer and be rejected.

The message is clear: One who wishes to gain the soul must forfeit life.  When we hear the call, we must not think of gathering anything up to take with us.  God will provide all that we will need on the journey; therefore, our only preparation need be to keep vigilant watch.

We must be alert . . . but how?  If we are not to hear announcement or see a warning, how do we know when to respond?  If we are not to pack any bags or prepare any food, then what are we to organize? What and how are we to make ready?

Suffering and rejection will be a part of our lives just as it is in the Messiah’s.  We live through these experiences of hurt, and we learn from them about God’s presence in our lives.  These experiences and what we have learned from them are what we pack for our journey.  This wisdom that is born of pain and that is used to refine our way of being in the world; this is something we will want to take with us to present to the Lord at his coming.

In Psalm 40 we are told that God does not really want our burnt offerings and sacrifices; rather, we are to use the suffering and rejection we experience to convert our human hearts to hearts that are open to God’s love.  Psalm 51 reminds us that God heals the offering of our broken spirit, and God delights in our offering of all that is out of order about us.  This is what we take to the Lord.

We cannot change the events of the past or the future . . . we can only effect the present moment in which we live.  We cannot go back to change something that happened, but we can make amends where possible and correct our own behavior.  We cannot foretell the coming circumstances of our lives, but we can prepare ourselves to be open to the amazing possibilities God presents to us in even the darkest of moments.

For behold, the kingdom of God is among us . . . what and how do we make ready today? 

When we spend time with these verses from Luke and these two psalms, we begin to understand what it means to make ourselves ready for the Lord. We begin to understand how we might use God’s Yardstick of love.


Image from: https://asburylv.org/

A Favorite from January 26, 2010.

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Romans 16:17-20: Warning to Troublemakers

Thursday, February 2, 2023f8a252c28d8359617d691b379d2404e5

In this time of political tension around the world, Paul’s words are worthy of our reflection time.

Keep a sharp eye out for those who take bits and pieces of the teaching that you learned and then use them to make trouble. Give these people a wide berth. They have no intention of living for our Master Christ. They’re only in this for what they can get out of it, and aren’t above using pious sweet talk to dupe unsuspecting innocents.

Paul’s letter to the Romans holds this little paragraph: a warning to the brethren who cause dissention and scandal contrary to the doctrine they have learned. Commentary suggests that Paul’s intent is to inoculate the growing community against the formation of factions that might lead to the fragmentation of the church.  In 1 Chronicles 28:20 David says to his son Solomon: Take charge! Take heart! Don’t be anxious or get discouraged. God, my God, is with you in this; God won’t walk off and leave you in the lurch. God’s at your side until every last detail is completed for conducting the worship of God. 

And how do we worship the Lord? When do we gather to give thanks to God?

We hear that we must go about our work without fear of any kind.

We understand that our kingdom work is more important than any other.

We demonstrate our belief that God is with us always when we put aside the fear-mongering and scandal-peddling of troublemakers.

TakeHeartHandsLogoJohn shares Jesus’ words with us: These things I have spoken to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

When we set ourselves to doing God’s work, we have no reason for apprehension or anxiety.

In both the Old and New Testaments, we see God’s yardstick in our world. Paul, David and Jesus offer us a clear image and method of measuring God’s presence and love in our lives.


Images from: https://www.pinterest.com

Adapted from a reflection written on April 27, 2008.

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Psalm 42: Longing for God’s Presence

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

The Bodleian: Hebrew Psalter

The Bodleian: Hebrew Psalter

As we have explored God’s yardstick in the measure of our lives, we have discovered that God’s love and mercy are infinite, healing and present to each of us. Today we respond to Christ’s loving call to join him in this Spirit of love. We ask to live in God’s presence.

As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.

Like the doe seeking water to sustain her young, we move through our days in search of God’s presence.

Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.

We are pilgrim people, wandering the deserts of our lives on our way to the land promised us by God.  We are a people in exile, waiting to return to the temple, living out our hope in Babylon.

Send your light and fidelity, that they may be my guide.

There is no other source of light or life worth pursuing.

And bring me to your holy mountain, the place of your dwelling.

There is no other place worth seeking except God’s holy presence.  As adopted sisters and brothers of Christ, we now hold that temple within our hearts and God has written the great promise of love on our hearts. Touched with the mark of Tau as God’s faithful, we are called back to God’s holy place.

Then I will praise you with the harp, O God, my God.

There is no other song worth singing except the song which praises God’s bounty to us.  There is no other grace so blessed.  No other gift worth receiving.

Wait for God, whom I shall praise again, my savior and my God.

We wait, we watch, we witness.  We are a people of hope.  We are a people of justice.  We are a faithful and faith-filled people.  We are a people of love.

As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God.

Amen.


psalms

The Revised Grail Psalter

Many of the Psalms were written during the forty years that Israel wandered in the desert.  Many more were written by David when he spent years evading King Saul when he sought David’s death.  Still other Psalms were written during the Babylonian captivity.  Today, the Hebrew Psalter (differing slightly in numbering from the Greek translation) contains 150 beautiful hymns of lament, praise, thanksgiving and petition.  These songs describe our own journey of life. Psalm 42 is the cry of one longing to be in God’s presence.

For more on the Grail Psalter, click on the image above or visit: http://communio.stblogs.org/index.php/2008/12/the-revised-grail-psalter-conc/

For more information on Psalms, visit: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/p/psalms.htm 

For more reflections on The Mark of Tau, use the blog search bar and explore. 

Image of the Bodleian Psalter from: https://www.eurojewishstudies.org/digital-forum-showcase-reports/footprints-in-frankfurt-tracing-the-circulation-of-early-hebrew-books/

Adapted from a reflection written on October 21, 2007.

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Luke 4:16-30: From Death Comes Life  

Ireena Eleonora Worthy: A cedar grows from a log in Fairy Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Not even death can separate you from Love, and from death comes Life. Rest in this awareness. (Rohr, A SPRING WITHIN US 137)

This week we have reflected on The Common Wonderful, the amazing gift of God’s self to us, the presence of Spirit’s love within, the promise of Christ presented to us each day as we rise, and resting with us each evening as we retire. In his book of reflections, YES AND . . ., Richard Rohr lays out tools for us so that we might move away from a dualistic view of life and toward a unitive one. He helps us to understand how we might, like Jesus, live both in this world while not being of it.

“Jesus consistently ignored or even denied exclusionary, punitive, and triumphalistic texts in his own Jewish Bible in favor of passages that emphasized inclusion, mercy, and honesty. That becomes self-evident once you are told and begin to look for yourself. He had a deeper and wider eye that knew what passages were merely cultural, self-serving, and legalistic additions. (YES AND . . . , Rohr xi)

Perhaps we cannot quite believe God’s deep generosity. Maybe Christ’s gift of self is more than we can take in. Does the Spirit’s fidelity and persistence somehow threaten us? Why do we struggle against this common wonderful gift of union? Are we too comfortable with the old quarrels, and too familiar with lines drawn hastily in ancient sands? We might learn more from Jesus if we look at what he does not cite from scripture along with what he does. Again from Rohr.

“Looking at which Scripture passages Jesus emphasizes (remember, the Hebrew Bible is his only Bible!) shows he clearly understands how to connect the “three steps forward” dots that confirm the God he has met, knows, loves, and trusts. At the same time, Jesus ignores or openly contradicts the many “two steps backward” texts. He never quotes the book of Numbers, for example, which is rather ritualistic and legalistic. He never quotes Joshua or Judges, which are full of sanctified violence. Basically, Jesus doesn’t quote from his own Scriptures when they are punitive, imperialistic (“My country and religion are the ‘only’!”), classist, or exclusionary. In fact, he teaches the exact opposite in every case. This is hard to miss. And our job as Christians is to imitate Jesus!” (www.cac.org  Rohr)

Life from death in Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii, USA

We tussle with the idea of loving our enemies. We argue about doctrine and dogma, and measure everyone – including ourselves – against rigid yardsticks of long-held practices. We become accustomed to our stiff necks and stony hearts; and yet Christ continues to call us to union in the Spirit. Still God searches for each of us – the lost sheep. Still God pardons, mends, heals, redeems and transforms.

Today let us give away our burdens so that we might discover our names written on God’s hands. Let us be patient in Christ’s time rather than ours as we move through the span of our lives. Let us settle into the stunning reality that we already possess the gift of eternal life; and let us share this good news as we open to the common wonderful that we hold together in Christ.


images from: http://www.newt.com/wohler/events/2008/hawaii/volcanoes-np/ and http://www.neatorama.com/2012/09/18/From-Death-Comes-Life/ 

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

Richard Rohr, OFM. Yes and . . . Daily Meditations. Cincinnati, OH: Franciscan Media, 2013.

More from Rohr’s www.cac.com February 9, 2015 post: “Jesus does not mention the list of 28 ‘thou shall nots’ in Leviticus 18 through 20, but chooses instead to echo the rare positive quote of Leviticus 19:18: ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself.’ The longest single passage he quotes is from Isaiah 61 (in Luke 4:18-19): ‘The Spirit of the Lord has been given to me. He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives, and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free, and to proclaim a year of favor from the Lord.’ But Jesus plays fast and easy, as they say, and quotes selectively! He appears to have deliberately omitted the last line—‘and the day of vengeance of our God’ (Isaiah 61:2b)—because he does not believe in a God of vengeance at all.” (https://cac.org/jesus-used-scripture-2015-02-09/)

When we compare different translations of these verses, we discover the futility of vengeance, and the beauty of God’s Common Wonderful.

Enter the words God’s Yardstick in the blog search bar to explore more posts.

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1 Corinthians 4:3-5: Our Concern

Monday, March 20, 2017

Now, I am not at all concerned about being judged by you or by any human standard; I don’t even pass judgment on myself.

How, then, do we view ourselves if not through our own eyes or the eyes of others? Has Christ called us to another standard? And is this standard higher or lower than the one we have cleverly laid out for ourselves?

My conscience is clear, but that does not prove that I am really innocent.

Why do we bother to measure ourselves at all? Is measuring necessary? What do we gain or lose by pulling out a yardstick to compare ourselves with others?

The Lord is the one who passes judgment on me.

Can we say this about ourselves? Does God’s view matter more or less than the view of the world? We believe we know the answer to these questions, but does our life reflect our belief in the simple idea that God’s view matters more than the views of the world?

So you should not pass judgment on anyone before the right time comes.

Do we have the openness to consider the views and perspectives of other peoples, cultures and societies? Do we have the honesty to see our concerns as at least equal to the concerns of others?

Final judgment must wait until the Lord comes; he will bring to light the dark secrets and expose the hidden purposes of people’s minds.

Do we have the patience, the persistence, and the honesty to allow God’s judgment to guide our lives?

And then all will receive from God the praise they deserve. (GNT)

Do we have the hope to live in the Creator’s plan, the fidelity to act in Christ’s body, and the love to live in the Spirit of God?

Therefore, do not make any judgment before the appointed time, until the Lord comes, for he will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will manifest the motives of our hearts, and then everyone will receive praise from God. (NABRE)

Do we pretend that our own power and resources can handle our concerns, or do we place all our concerns in the hands of God?

When we compare varying translations of these verses, we have the opportunity to explore how we form and how we act on our own concerns.

For more reflections on measuring ourselves, enter the words God’s Yardstick into the blog search bar and explore. 

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1 Corinthians 1:18-27: God’s Foolish Message

Tuesday, May 3, 2016bible-verses-about-weakness

Today’s reading is designed to astonish us. Paul writes: God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the strong. Reading other versions might give us further insight to the inversion God uses in relating with creation.

God says: When you look for things in your life to be sensible and logical you may miss their reason for existing. Indeed, you may miss their very essence. When observing the world, consider whose value complex you use as a measuring stick. Is it yours? Or is it mine? You see where Jesus spent his time, do you not? When he saw that the scribes and Pharisees were not open to his truth, he instructed them and then moved on, shaking their dust from his sandals.

Yardstick-500x375Then he returned to the lost sheep who need his healing and guidance. Jesus lives with the shunned, the lonely, the rejected and abandoned. Can you see why my servant Paul describes my kingdom as inverted? All that is powerful in the world is nothing to me. Rather, I prefer to abide with those who live in pain. My mercy is great enough, long-lasting enough and deep enough to heal all the injustices of the multiverse. And despite this enormity, I see you as precious and as worthy of my love. Remember this today when you are the last. Remember this today when you are the lowest. Remember this today when you are weak and sad. Remember this today and always. My love for you is never-ending and mighty. This is my foolish message that I send to you today.

Use the blog search bar to explore the God’s Yardstick posts. Use the scripture link to compare other versions of these verses.

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