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Saturday, November 14, 2020

noara_lambMarch3_12[1]2 Samuel 11 and 12

A Prayer for Sin and Parable

The rich man had herds and flocks in great numbers.  But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. 

This is a story with a familiar ending. Those who have much use their influence and power to take from the poor what little they have. The poor man gathers money, plans how he will finally gather around him the small beginning of self-sufficiency and the momentous ending of oppression.

He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children. She shared the little food he had and drank from his cup and slept in his bosom. She was like a daughter to him. 

The poor man empties all that he has and all that he is into this precious possession that promises not only a ladder out of misery but a new feeling of comfort, compassion and love. The little ewe sheep comes to symbolize much more than the object she is. She becomes a unique sign of peace and stability.

Now the rich man received a visitor, but he would not take from his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the wayfarer who had come to visit him.  Instead, he took the ewe lamb . . .

The two-headed monster of envy and greed raises itself from the shadows and David’s sin is revealed.

David grew very angry . . . then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned . . .”

When we feel anger rise at the honest observation offered by a friend we must turn as David does. And so we pray . . .

Dear and gracious God, it is so difficult to hear our secrets revealed when we believe we have them well-hidden away. Help us to return to you.

Honest and kind God, we are so weak and vulnerable in the harsh light of our own judgment. Send us your persistence and power.

Good and noble God, we need your encouragement and wisdom to lead us to the light of truth. Remind us that truth always reveals itself in your time.

Mighty and compassionate God, we ask for your strength and grace to willingly reveal all that we have concealed. Recount for us all the times you have saved us.

Sweet and loving God, speak to us in parables that enlighten us when we cannot bear the burden of the truth. Help us to understand that secrets only fester in the darkness of guilt.

Forgiving and understanding God, speak to us plainly in words that call us to you. Bring us the simplicity of your peace and love.

We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


To read posts from a shepherd’s blog, click on the image above or go to: http://hillshepherd.blogspot.com/2012/03/nora-had-ewe-lamb-last-night.html

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1 Kings 21: Naboth’s Vineyard

Thursday, September 19, 2019

This is a powerful story about how King Ahab and his wife Jezebel collude with scoundrels to trump up charges against the good man Naboth in order to take a vineyard which they coveted.  It is dreadful in its deep deception; it is horrendous in its horrible depiction of the violent frenzy of a plotting, conniving perseverance of evil.  It is human interaction in its basest form.

The prophet Elijah responds to God’s call but fears for his life when Ahab and Jezebel conduct a campaign with the goal of annihilating all prophets who speak with God’s voice; and in Chapter 19 Elijah even tries to run from the whispering voice of Yahweh.  In Chapter 20 we see how Yahweh brings success to the Israelites and favors them in battle.  Then Ahab wants something which Naboth has, a lovely beautiful vineyard.  Jezebel and Ahab conspire to attain it . . . so the innocent Naboth must die.

Yahweh steps in and we watch as he vindicates the faithful. We also watch as he delivers punishing blows to the wicked ones.  Ahab repents, and Yahweh softens the sentence he is about to deliver.  Jezebel does not . . . and if we read a bit further we discover Jezebel’s evil end.

Dear God, protect me from family and friends who would lead me to destruction as Jezebel did.  Remind me that repentance heals the mind and soul.  Bring me contentment rather than envy, humility rather than pride, love rather than hatred, restoration rather than destruction, and reaping of blessings rather than an arid life of self-gratification.  Surround me with holy people, God-fearing people, people who do not hide the light of the lampstand, people who honor, as Naboth did, their ancestral heritage.

Keep us from pride which inverts to shame.  Keep us from anger which turns inward to become melancholy.  Keep us from deception which leads to delusion.  Keep us from coveting Naboth’s Vineyard. 

Bring us peace, bring us joy, bring us hope, bring us your Spirit.  Amen.


First written on September 7, 2007 , re-writtten and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://thedailychapter.wordpress.com/2010/03/18/1-kings-21-%E2%80%9Cnaboths-vineyard%E2%80%9D/

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Ezra 6:18-22: Marvels – Part I

Friday, October 14, 2016ps-126-5

It must have seemed unreal to the Israelites – after praying for years – to not only return to Jerusalem but also to receive safe passage and assistance from the dynasty which had first overtaken them and then carried them into exile.  The people who had been in darkness were finally seeing a light; the tears they had sown in mourning were about to be harvested in joy.  The dream expressed in Psalm 126 was finally arriving in full force: The Lord has done marvels for us . . . Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like the torrents in the southern desert.  Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing . . . The Lord has done marvels for us . . . Although they go forth weeping, carrying the seed to be sown, they shall come back rejoicing, carrying their sheaves . . . The Lord has done marvels for us.

I recently saw a documentary about the men of Wall Street who in the 1920’s first initiated revenue pools with which they manipulated the markets to make exorbitant profits at the expense of small investors.  These wild and risky patterns once unleashed and initially controlled became – as these things always do – beyond all human control.  Ruin and devastation were the result.  What struck me about the information presented was the outcome for two men: one – the original founder of GM – was one who of those really thought that they were in control of the markets.  When he came into NY from his home, the police made certain that all the traffic lights stayed green so that his car would not have to pause on his way to the Exchange.  Everyone was poised to do his bidding and it was perhaps this fawning and deference that deceived him rather than his own pride.  This man ended in complete ruin, still trying to begin a number of small businesses, hoping to “get his game back”.  This man had not seen that his initial success was not his own.  He did not understand that The Lord has done marvels for us. 

A second man was featured who was able to avoid the bursting of the bubble by not only conserving his crookedly gotten treasure but by becoming even wealthier as the world around him collapsed.  But this did not assure his comfort or safety.  Rules were put into place to prevent the gaming of the market and this man became so despondent at the lack of risk and danger in his daily routine that although he died with a mass of money stored up . . . he died at his own hands in a bathroom.  He did not realize that The Lord has done marvels for us.

Tomorrow, splendid deeds. 

Adapted from a Favorite written on October 27, 2009.

 

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lamp in darkTuesday, December 9, 2014

Joy and Proverbs

Evil

The Book of Proverbs is more than mere adages we repeat in moments of confusion or stress. They are universal metaphors that serve as anchors in a bewildering and sometimes tumultuous world. Many resources are available to understand these maxims and during this second week of Advent we will focus on the surprising power of the proverbs to reveal God’s truth to us.  If this week’s exploration of Proverbs calls you to search for more ways to encounter joy, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today joy surprises us in the midst of evil.

In this second week in Advent we continue to share simple verses from Proverbs that bring joy to our hearts even in the most surprising of circumstances.

Verse 13:9: The light of the just gives joy, but the lamp of the wicked goes out.

Verse 21:15: When justice is done it is a joy for the just, downfall for evildoers.

Verse 29:6: The sin of the wicked is a trap, but the just run along joyfully.

joyGod says: When you experience every kind of evil – greed, anger, pride, lust, envy, gluttony or sloth – you need not devise a plan to combat these forces of darkness. You need only rest in me. Christ shows you which way to walk. The Spirit gives you the words you are to use. And I, the Creator, give you strength and stamina beyond your imaginings. Only rest in me. In this way you find joy in the darkest of days and my joy in you is a lamp that pierces all darkness.

Tomorrow, God’s joy will surprise us even in bitterness.

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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Tuesday, March 25

Museum of Biblical Art, NY: The Return of the Prodigal Son - Artist unknown

Museum of Biblical Art, NY: The Return of the Prodigal Son – Artist unknown

Amos 9:8-15

Messianic Perspective

Amos brings us God’s Words; he shows us the world’s Woes; he paints for us his intense Visions. If we give in to despair we miss God’s message. If we walk away in pride we miss God’s promise. If we become impatient or irritable we miss God’s grace. If we practice greed we miss feeling God’s love. Today we have the opportunity to count ourselves among the pebbles God sifts from the debris of our selfishness. We are given another chance to rise up out of the ashes of our willfulness.  We are given another season to mend breaches and to rebuild foundations on the days of old.

Jesus tells us this story of the lost son who returns home to his father after having squandered all his father had given to him.  So [the son] got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son”. But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again, he lost and now is found”.  So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:20-24)

Let us also return to the creator who is running toward us with open arms, who is waiting for our word to begin the celebration.

For an interesting article from the National Catholic Reporter in June 2011, on how theologians re-visit the famous parable of the forgiving father,, and how we may be called to forgive church structures, click on the image above or go to: http://ncronline.org/news/peace-justice/theologians-revisit-prodigal-son 

For more on the image of God’s Sieve, go to the Mini-Noontime posted on September 26, 2013 at: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/09/26/the-sieve/

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