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Friday, August 7, 2020

Proverbs 5:4

Wormwood Growing in the Wild

Wormwood growing in the wild

Bitterness

In the end [the adulteress] is as bitter as wormwood, as sharp as a two-edged sword. 

Although we humans tend to focus on the physical violation of the commitment we avow to a life partner, there are many ways to commit adultery.  Straying from solid principles that support the authentic life, allowing ourselves to be lured into a way of life we know is false, and turning our backs on all that we know to be just and merciful.  These are all pathways that lead to the destruction of ourselves and possibly others.

God says: I am aware of the many sirens that call you away from me; I understand the strength of the pull the world has on your heart and mind.  It is for this reason that I am so joyful when even just one of you remains with me.  I am pleased when you put aside all that would make you bitter as you recover from stress and trauma.  I understand how difficult it is to forgive, how hard it is to pray from those who do you harm; yet this is what I ask of you.  This what I hope for you.  For this I have created you: to celebrate with me despite the sorrow and the grief.  All that I ask is that you give me your burden so that I might heal the injuries brought on by life and make you whole.  The double-edged sword has the power to wound just as it has the authority to save.  I dwell in you so that your double edge might lead to me and not to the darkness.  I dwell in you so that you with mercy and justice so that you might witness to my goodness.  I dwell in you so that you might rejoice in peace rather than sink in bitterness.  Come to me always . . . no matter your injuries.

Adultery is more than the physical breaking of the union of two who are committed to one another.  Adultery damages ourselves and many others.  Adultery is the first step  on the trail that leads to annihilation.  Adultery has the power to pull us into the darkness but it also has the power to transform us . . . when we bring our broken-ness to God.

Enter the name Gomer into the blog search bar to further explore the concept of adultery and God’s saving hand.


For more information on the wormwood plant and its properties, click on the image above or go to: http://www.absinthebuyersguide.com/wormwood.html or http://herbs-treatandtaste.blogspot.com/2011/06/wormwood-herb-health-benefits-and-uses.html

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Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Hosea 9Exile Without Worship

Francesco Hayez: Ephraim

Francesco Hayez: Ephraim

Chapter 9 of Hosea is a picture of the Jewish people and in particular Ephraim, the largest tribe in Israel and one of the first to be taken into exile where they cannot offer sacrifices. Over a period of several hundred years, Ephraim is divided and carted off north to Babylon and south to Egypt. Hosea sees the corruption and nepotism in the structure and so he calls for reform and as a priest himself, he sees the importance of honest and sincere worship and he understands how the absence of worship will impact the people when they are carried into exile.  Yet, Hosea also knows the promise of God’s enduring love and that although the people will stray God will not.  Hosea enacts this belief through his enduring love for Gomer, and he persists in worshiping his God . . . even in exile.

If we continue our Lenten journey with Hosea we will rise from the despair to encounter beautiful words of covenant and union.  And so, like Hosea we remain in faith.

If we linger over the imagery of marriage as the model of God’s relationship with each of us we will discover the courage and joy of hope.  And so, like Hosea we arise in hope.

If we plod along our own Jerusalem Road to follow the words of Hosea we will find secure refuge in our own relationship with God.  And so, like Hosea we abide in love.

Through the allegory of his marriage to Gomer, Hosea lightens our load so that we find the strength to respond to this call to a special, intense, fruitful and honest bond.  Just as Hosea persists in calling out to Gomer he also persists in reminding us of this message no matter how much and how often we ignore him.  And so Hosea speaks to us today.

We have separated ourselves from God and from one another in big and little ways. Hosea says that God waits with open arms. All we need do is repent and turn to God . . . and offer up our open and honest worship.


For more information about the man Ephraim, go to: http://www.aboutbibleprophecy.com/p131.htm

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ephraim

First written on March 26, 2007. Re-written and posted yesterday and today as a Favorite.

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Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Hosea 9: A Prayer of Return to God

lovehands[1]We have spent time with this prophet for much of the week and we have allowed ourselves to be open to a flood of emotions. When we consider the story of Hosea and Gomer we experience the depth and breadth of God’s patience, fidelity and love.  On this third Sunday in Lent we are invited to be frank about when and how we play Gomer to God’s Hosea.  We are also invited to consider the depth and breadth of Christ’s sacrifice; we are called to sink into the profundity and intensity of the Spirit’s consolation.  With God there is always an opportunity to return.

Israel becomes the harlot when she wanders from the covenant she had entered into with Yahweh. She oppresses the poor and adores idols; the mechanical offering of holocausts by her priests has become a false worship.  Israel’s prophets warn her of the consequences of her infidelity, but she continues to ignore these admonitions.  She leaves behind the gift of Exodus when Yahweh brought her out of captivity to a world of freedom.  She scoffs at the notion that a future exile will again enslave her.  And the longer she remains away from Yahweh, the more difficult – and useless – she sees the road of return.  And in her headlong desire to do precisely as she likes, she sends herself into her own loveless and dreadful exile.  If only she might return . . .

While Israel flirts with cataclysm and ignores all signs of warning, Yahweh abides and calls.  Yahweh hopes and prepares.  Yahweh waits and loves.

While Gomer gives herself to any who would have her in order to feel the quick rush of easy pleasure, Hosea abides and calls.  Hosea hopes and prepares. Hosea waits and loves.

Hosea sees this parallel and so must we.   And while Hosea aches for his lost love and yearns for Israel to return to her true role as Yahweh’s spouse, Yahweh waits for Israel to return.  And so does God call and wait on us today.

Picture1And so we pray . . .

Good and patient God, we see ourselves in Gomer when we forget to visit with you each day.  Renew in us a desire to be faithful to you. 

Good and constant God, we see ourselves in Gomer when we are easily lured away from you.  Renew in us a willingness to put aside the quick charms of a self-centered life. 

Good and tender God, we see ourselves in Gomer when we refuse to see the depths of your love.  Renew in us our understanding of your mercy, a willingness to persist through our doubt, and an eagerness to put everything aside for you. 

Good and ever-present God, we see ourselves in Gomer when we fail to return to you. Renew our strength, renew our courage, renew our faith, renew our hope, renew our love, and renew our all . . . so that we might return to you.

Amen.    


Image from: http://architectsofanewdawn.ning.com/group/returntolovepostshowdiscussion      

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Monday, March 2, 2020

Hosea 7 & 8: The Gomer Scale

fire_glory_whirlwind_over_lyford3[1]For much of this week we have spent time with Gomer and Hosea and today when we look closely we hear the warning that Israel will reap the whirlwind of destruction for her lack of fidelity.  We can always pause on our Lenten journey to examine ourselves to see where we stand on the “Gomer Scale”.

  • Do we walk away from problems to go in search of fresh grain with which to make new drink to dull our senses . . . or do we abide through friction and conflict?
  • Do we pull up our shallow roots to replant ourselves in the newest in-vogue panacea each time we run into an obstacle . . . or do we remain planted in firm soil to draw from our foundation to bear good fruit when we are challenged?
  • Do we lie on our beds or drape ourselves over couches to cry and lament our situation . . . or do we work through our grief so that it might transform and restore us?
  • Do we cast about for a new diversion to distract us from true self-examination when we have erred . . . or do we examine ourselves in open and honest light?
  • Do we build thick walls of arrogance and pride as our self-defense . . . or do we go to one we have wronged and ask forgiveness?
  • Do we mourn our loss of innocence . . . or do we see our trials as stones on the path of the Narrow Way which leads to truth and our own restoration by our maker?
  • Do we seek the flattering advice of false prophets and teachers . . . or do we go to one we have wounded and harmed to truly listen to his or her words?
  • Do we deaden our senses when we feel overwhelmed by emotion and confusion . . . or do we turn to our maker who knows and loves us best to ask what we should do?

Gomer refuses to reform, repent, repair and rebuild.  Hosea waits, abides, calls, and loves, ready to heal and restore.  If Gomer wishes to be more than a flat cake not turned over, a senseless and easily deceived dove, one whose strength the foreigners sap, then she must move toward the curing touch of God.  Only there will she find the true, deep, thrilling and lasting love which she seeks.  Gomer looks for instant pleasure which she can manipulate and control . . . without realizing that in so doing, she forfeits the only joy and happiness which satisfies.  Union with her spouse, her God.


Tomorrow . . . a prayer to return to love.

Yesterday’s and today’s Noontime was first written on October 8, 2007.  They were revised and posted as Favorites.

Image from: http://thegrenzian.blogspot.com/2012/11/whirlwind.html

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Sunday, March 1, 2020

Hosea 7: Searching for Happiness

Happiness[1]No matter how much time we spend with Hosea we will never find all that this prophet has to say to us about love.  Nor will we ever discover the depths of his grief or the soaring heights of his joy.  He is a man tormented by an unthinking spouse yet he never puts her aside.  And he continually calls her to return.

When we spend time with Hosea we see that he remains faithful to Gomer despite the fact that she is easily lured away by anything which attracts her attention, anything which gives her an immediate rush.  Gomer, a woman incapable of maintaining a covenant, is a symbol for Israel and she may be a symbol for any one of us who tires of maintaining a relationship with a loved one.  But we see something more today, something that a close reading of Chapter 7 will reveal: Gomer does not turn to God when she feels alone or abandoned or worthless, she turns away.  She searches her world of bangles, and music, and quick gratification.   She does not want to work at her relationships.  She does not want to see where or how she might make changes or improve in any way.  She does not see the value in thinking of the other more than self.

We see Gomer crying on her couch, gathering grain for new wine for a new festival, turning to any swift and facile self-indulgence.  We watch her turn away from God where sustaining, nourishing consolation may be found.  We close our eyes because we cannot bear to witness her wanton self-destruction when so close at hand there is a heart yearning to love her continually and endlessly.

Rather than seek a lasting, abiding union with her spouse, Gomer goes abroad to seek instant pleasure.  She does not want to think about who she is, why she was created, how she might improve, or how her existence fits into God’s plan.  She wants nothing more than a series of superficial, uncommitted relationships which will not call her to plumb her own depths, to know her own capacity for love, or to experience the soul-filling sensation of her true and eternal relationship with God.  She turns away from all that will save and restore her and in her search for happiness . . . she loses all.

Tomorrow . . . The Gomer Scale


A re-post from March 1, 2013.

Image from: http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/melanie/4-ways-to-find-happiness-inspiration-from-within.htm

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Friday, February 28, 2020

Hosea 2: Expectation

loaves[1]What does God expect of us?

Where is God?

How can God expect so much from us?

Why does God allow us to feel so alone/exasperated/angry/sad?

If we hear ourselves asking these questions endlessly with no hope of understanding, we may need to turn these questions on their heads and think of them in their inverted state.

What do we expect of God?

Where have we put God in our lives?

Why do we expect so little from God?

Why do we turn away from God when we are alone/exasperated/angry/sad?

We spend time today in our Lenten journey with Chapter 2 of Hosea’s prophecy in which the prophet’s unfaithful wife, Gomer, is described.  Metaphorically, this wife is each one of us when we reject the conditions in which we find ourselves.  As difficult as our problems may be, they are our lesson plans in life, our stepping stones to self-discovery and to serenity.  Once we learn to turn everything over to God, the sorrow and anger slip away.  And we suddenly find that we are more at peace with the circumstances that surround us.

In John’s Gospel story of the feeding of thousands (6:1-15) we see that Jesus asks the disciples how they want to feed so many – John writes: He said this to test them.  This does not mean that Jesus wants to throw his friends into turmoil; it means that Jesus wants to see how they hope to solve the problem before them.  Do they resort to themselves, or do they rely on God in any way?

We must remember to ask for miracles, because God wants to grant them.

We must remember to take our woes to God, because God welcomes them and erases them.

We must remember to leave our sadness in God’s hands, because he heals all mourning with his deep and abiding love.

Hosea laments his unfaithful wife.  God misses us when we leave him behind.  Why do we try to solve everything on our own?  And why do we expect so little from God?


Image from: http://ymiblogging.org/2011/06/the-little-boy-and-the-feeding-of-the-five-thousand/

Tomorrow: Our Search for Happiness.

Written on May 6, 2011. Revised and posted today as a Favorite.

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Hosea: Love


Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2013

Hosea: Love

3[1]Lent calls us to examine who we are and what we do.  Lent asks us to step forward in willing vulnerability to God.  Lent uses unusual images to help us see truths so basic that they are easily overlooked.  With the story of Hosea and Gomer we are given the opportunity to reflect on the beauty and integrity of God’s love.

This prophecy was written by a man married to a woman who found it impossible to remain faithful.  When we read these verses with care we also examine the distance that exists between the two people in this relationship and the distance we maintain in our relationship with God.  We have the opportunity to question whether we are determined to keep God at arm’s length . . . or whether we want to invite God into the most interior part of ourselves.  We consider who, and what, and how, and why we love, or if we even love at all.

As we examine the quirks of the relationship between Gomer and Hosea we might also examine our relationships with others – are we the inconstant wife, Gomer, in all we say and do – or are we more like the sorrowful prophet, Hosea, lamenting loss yet insisting on hoping for the fulfillment of promises made?

From La Biblia de América: The unhappy marital experience of Hosea, who remains faithful to Gomer despite everything he knows about her, serves as the context for an extraordinary deepening of the people’s relationship with God through the perspective of love’s stormy psychology.

Each of us has experienced love in some form or another: filial, parental, sibling, conjugal, familial, spiritual, and even collegial and civil.  Love manifests itself in many contexts from sexual and intimate to public and patriotic.  We express love of people, love of things, and love of ideas and concepts.  We also express love of God.

Reading the words of Hosea gives us the opportunity to experience a hope which is laced with sadness.  Listening to Hosea’s lament that weaves sorrow and joy into an intricate pattern of sharp edges and smooth surfaces, we perceive the bittersweet image of deep misery interwoven with soaring expectation.

Allowing the words of this prophecy to sink into our being, we might move closer to perceiving the amazing generosity with which God pardons the people who consistently betray him.  Hosea describes his unrequited love in such a piercing way that we cannot avoid its impact; yet he remains open to the possibility that not only may Gomer return . . . but that she will love him as he loves her.

When I imagine myself in God’s unrequited place, continuing to call as Hosea does, I begin to feel the depth . . . and height . . . and breadth of God’s love.  We are well and truly loved.  Let us spend some time with Hosea today to experience this kind of constancy and steadfastness.  This is not a love which allows itself to be abused; rather, it is a love which loves so much that it risks rebuking the abuse, it risks revealing its vulnerable self, it risks all for sake of the conversion of the beloved.

This is truly an immense and wondrous love.  Let us consider today if we will reject or accept this love.


Tomorrow . . . Hosea and Covenant Love

To better understand Gomer and Hosea and this prophecy, visit the Hosea – Alliances page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/hosea-alliances/

For more on Gomer and Hosea, click on the image above or go to: http://womeninthescriptures.blogspot.com/2011/08/gomer-and-lo-ruhamah.html or go to http://bible.org/seriespage/hosea

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

First written on Wednesday, May 27, 2009.  Revised and posted today as a Favorite.

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Hosea 3: Triumph of Love

Saturday, December 14, 2019

“Hosea was instructed to take Gomer back, redeeming her from her paramours.  On condition of her amendment, she will be restored to her former position of wife.  This in turn signifies God’s enduring love for his people.  He will put the people through a period of trial – the dissolution of the kingdom – in order that they may return to him wholeheartedly”.  (Senior 1111)

So he bought her for fifteen pieces of silver and about ten and a half bushels of barley.  Then he said to her . . . “I in turn will wait for you”.

It is only a fully good and gracious God who can take back one who has sunk so low as to have given herself to swine.

It is only a faithful and patient God who can take back one who has scoffed and scorned a love fully and freely given.

It is only a hopeful and healing God who can redeem and restore one who has sinned so egregiously.

We shall come trembling to the Lord and to his bounty . . .

We shall be like grains of sand of the sea, which can neither be measured or counted . . .

We shall be called “Children of the Living God” . . .

We shall be gathered together . . .

We shall become Jezreel, or “God sows” . . .

We shall say to our sisters and brothers, Ammi,” or “my people” . . .

We shall say to our sisters, “Ruhama,” or “she is pitied” . . .

We shall experience the triumph of love . . . and we shall be restored. 


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1111. Print.   

Written on October 27, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

To read more about Gomer and her children – and her remarkable marriage to the prophet Hosea – click on the image above or go to: http://www.netplaces.com/women-of-the-bible/temptresses-harlots-and-sinful-women/gomer.htm

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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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