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Posts Tagged ‘healing’


Wednesday, December 30, 2013

The Sixth Day of Christmas

Malachi 3:19-20 (4:1-2)

The Day is Here

Matthais Stom (Stomer): The Adoration of the Shepherds

Lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble . . . But for you who fear my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.

A child born in quiet dignity.  A world waiting to be saved. God humbles the proud with the smallness of this child. God heals the wounded with the power of this child. God rescues all with the compassion of this child. The long-awaited day of wonder and promise is here. All of this we know, for we are Christmas people.

Enter the word justice in the blog search bar, or visit the pages about the prophet Malachi, and consider what we know and believe as Christmas people.


Differing translations of Scripture have differing numbering systems for this prophecy.  

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:The_Adoration_of_the_Shepherds_-_Matthias_Stom_(Stomer)_-_Google_Cultural_Institute.jpg

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Monday, December 21, 2020

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.

Images from: http://www.thefellowshipsite.org/zephaniah-317.html 

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Saturday, December 19, 2020

Rembrandt: St. Anna the Prophetess

Rembrandt Rijn: St. Anna the Prophetess

Luke 2:36-38

Anna

She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.

“A fourth and final [Lucan] theme is expressed in Simeon’s word to Mary (apparently this occurs in the outer court where women were allowed).  Jesus will bring truth and light and will effect decision and judgment. However, in so doing he will face opposition and death. When Jesus comes to Jerusalem as an adult, the journey will be his ‘exodus’ (NRSV: ‘departure,’ 9:31).

“Simeon’s words are confirmed by Anna, a devout woman of advanced age . . . The two aged saints are Israel in miniature, poised in anticipation of the new.  God is leading Israel to the Messiah, but the Messiah will weep over this city because it did not know the time of the messianic visitation (19:41-44)”. (Mays 932)

Scholars describe Anna as having insight that most of us lack and she appears in this story to affirm the Messiah’s identity. She is likely 105 years old, lives in or near the Temple, and dedicates her days and nights to a life of service to and in God; but she is no doddering ancient. Robin Gallaher Branch describes her saying that “her lifestyle evidently invigorates her, for she is mobile, articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish”. (Branch)

Elizabeth and Zechariah, Mary and Joseph, Anna and Simeon, servants, disciples, prophets, all announcing that openness and peace and joy have come to a people who yearn to be free, that light and courage and hope have come to a people who wait in darkness, that healing and consolation and union have come to a people who remain faithful despite their fear. As we approach the fourth Sunday of Advent, a time when we near the announcement of joy to the world because the Messiah is come, let us remember that we are Advent people. And let us, like Anna, be articulate, alert, spiritually savvy and unselfish as we declare to all that the one who saves is indeed come to live among us.


For insight into the importance of Anna the Prophetess, one of the Bible’s most unusual women, by Robin Gallaher Branch, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/anna-in-the-bible/

Branch, Robin Gallaher. “Anna in the Bible.” Bible History Daily. Biblical Archeology Society, 19 Apr 2013. Web. 15 Dec 2013. .

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 932. Print.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2020

6508036-md[1]Luke 2:8-12

Keeping the Night Watch

Now there were shepherds in that region, living in the fields and keeping the night watch over their flock.

We become so weary with the daily earning of our bread that we are too exhausted to keep the night watch. Our blessing is that the Good Shepherd never flags and he endures when we falter. And this Good Shepherd who keeps a constant watch will awaken us so that we might rise to hear the words of Good News that bring healing, peace and light to the world.

Murillo: Adoration of the Shepherds

Esteban Murillo: Adoration of the Shepherds

God says: Do not stretch yourselves beyond your strength. Rely on me for power that is eternal. Do not ask too much of your mind. Ask me for wisdom that has always been and always will be. Do not tax your spirit more than it can endure. Call on my Spirit to dwell in you and to bring you peace. If you are able, keep the Night Watch with me. When darkness falls and you have lost your way, settle into the night with the sheep you are tending . . . and know that I am with you. If you are too tired to stay awake, ask for my help . . . and I will keep the Watch. And I will awaken you with the Good News that you will want to share with others.

When we spend energy that we do not have we endanger not only the body and mind but the soul as well.  When we find that we falter and cannot stand, we need only call on the one who always endures.


For beautiful prayers at night that strengthen the body, mind and soul when we find ourselves wakeful and uneasy, dip into Phyllis Tickle’s NIGHT OFFICES: PRAYERS FOR THE HOURS FROM SUNSET TO SUNRISE, Oxford University Press, 2006.  

Image from: https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/the-adoration-of-the-shepherds/612bacfa-afd6-4325-b17d-df6febb13b7c

For a Goodreads review, go to: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/613100.The_Night_Offices

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Acts 16:5: Growth


First Sunday of Advent

068[1]November 29, 2020

Acts 16:5

Growth

So the church grew stronger and stronger in the faith and increased in numbers daily.

We continue our journey through a world-wide pandemic. We continue our struggle with inequity and fear. We continue our search for justice and peace. Today we rejoice despite our struggle because we know that light and truth are with us. We know that once we place our anxiety in God’s hands, the way is clear. 

The beginning of a new year brings an obvious opportunity to begin again. We have rituals that help us to remember this: a crystal ball slides down a pole as millions watch in a digital world, old calendars are replaced with new in countless homes and offices, toasts are drunk, benchmarks are celebrated; yet do we empower change and growth in our lives or do we enable destructive, predictable and unchanging behaviors?

The cycle of nature in which we experience disintegration followed by the possibility of regeneration models for us a way in which to live. After the falling apart there is always the chance to come together. The keys are to remain open to the possibility, to encourage growth, and to look for the newness with open minds rather than heavy hearts.

After the storm there is the calm.

After the winter there is the spring.

After the destruction there is the rebuilding.

After the night there is the dawn.

After the exile there is restoration.

Our wounded-ness becomes healing when we grow with newness. Our closed-ness becomes resurrection when we believe with determination. Our humanity becomes divine when we love with vulnerability. As we stand on the threshold of a new liturgical year, we have again the opportunity to experience conversion of the heart, to turn our stubborn pride into endurance, our anger into healing passion, and our anxiety into enduring love. Let us welcome this invitation to new growth as warmly as we welcome the Christ Child, Jesus.

We remember that the fledgling church began in smallness and insignificance. If there is time today, read more about the origen of Christianity in Acts.


Image from: http://frontierdreams.blogspot.com/2011/11/rhythm-in-our-home-first-sunday-in.html

Adapted from a reflection written on January 2, 2009.

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Friday, November 12, 2020

hyssop48-l[1]2 Samuel 11 and 12 and Psalm 51

Sin and Parable – Part VI

Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

I always wonder about Bathsheba.  e might see her as one dimensional, a figure standing for beauty and grace, a woman-object, a child-bearer. Yet she endures in David’s court. And while she shares in David’s act, no mention is made of her grief or guilt, most likely because she is a female, chattel in these ancient times. We can imagine how much she may have suffered. She continues to appear in Kings and in Chronicles and is revered as Solomon’s mother, yet she is a quiet back-figure in this long-running story of sin and parable.

Let me hear joy and gladness, let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

It is appropriate that this story come to us as we near the end of the Liturgical year and prepare for Advent.  The beautiful psalm of repentance, Psalm 51, was written when Nathan came to David after having committed adultery.

Oh Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise. 

When we sing this song of repentance we are repeating the words of one who has lusted, one who has slept with another’s beloved, one who has arranged murder. This is fitting, for in some way we all transgress on those around us when we covet, take or tear down something or someone. And there are many small ways in which we end a life beyond the physical act of murder. We might destroy someone emotionally, professionally, psychologically or spiritually.  et, there is always mercy to be sought . . . and granted.

giant_hyssop_large[1]Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you.

There is much to be heard in this story. There is much to be lived, much to be sung. David takes something he wants. David destroys. Nathan speaks. Nathan restores.  Relationships cannot be put back as they had been, time cannot be reversed, and although Uriah cannot return, some quality, some relationship reappears. Bridges can be built. Pride can be put aside. Transgressions can be brought to light. Forgiveness can be sought and given. Restoration can happen.

Miracles can take place . . . souls can be saved.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 

What do we do when Nathan stands before us? How do we react? When confronted by big sin, we need a big spirit. We need constant relationships which help us to develop rather than comfortable friends who discourage us from growth or who encourage us to wallow. We need a steadfast spirit, a renewed heart, an eager soul. We need God. And these we have all been given. We need only take them up and commit ourselves to them.

Create in me a pure heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Create in me an open willingness to listen. Renew in me a faithful heart that takes in the world. 

Amen.


To discover the medicinal uses of hyssop and how it was used in ancient times, click on the  botanical image above or go to: http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hyssop48.html

Second image from: http://mydaybook.wikidot.com/giant-hyssop

Adapted from a reflection written on February 13, 2008.

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Friday, October 16, 2020

light-under-door-300x225[1]Psalm 32:5

Admission

At last I admitted to you that I had sinned; no longer concealed my guilt, I said, “I will go to Yahweh and confess my fault.  And you, you have forgiven the wrong I did, have pardoned my sin.

When we are in the wrong we sense that a huge ogre stands outside our door if we even begin to admit that we have erred. And when we finally open the door of the soul to enter into an honest conversation with God we find that the imagined ogre is less than an inch in height. We have been held hostage by our own imaginings that festered in the dark silence of our troubled hearts.

heart-of-god[1]God says: Do you see why I have been calling at your closed door for so long into the night? I want to bring you out of the corner in which you have been crouching. Your sins are never too great for me to forgive. Your transgressions are always smaller than the love with which I heal. Do you know that the conversation I am waiting to have with you will bring you more joy than pain? Do you remember that my prophet Jeremiah has told you that I have plans for you, plans for your joy and not woe? Do you recall that my prophet Isaiah predicted that I would walk among you as the light? Do you not hear my voice on the other side of that closed door – the voice that encourages you? Do you not feel the love I send to you through the closed thickness that separates us? Open the door. Answer my call. And allow me to fold you in to the immense love of my sacred heart.

We say that we seek God when all the while God is seeking us. We say that we look for serenity when all the while God offers us peace. We say that we have nothing to confess when all the while our troubled thoughts weigh heavily on our hearts and minds and souls. And all the while . . . God awaits our simple admission with a healing touch and a generous heart.

Enter the words sacred heart, forgiveness, or God’s love into the blog search bar and explore the many ways God persists in calling us to union.


Images from: http://thepostmodernpastor.com/2011/03/10/40-days-the-heart-of-god-rev-elaine-burleigh/ and http://www.37days.com/2012/04/poets-love-the-intangible.html/light-under-door

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Thursday, October 15, 2020

shhhh[1]Psalms 32:3-4

Keeping Silence

All the time I kept silent, my bones were wasting away with groans, day in, day out; day and night your hand lay heavy upon me; my heart grew parched as stubble in summer drought.

We do not give voice to our worries for fear of appearing weak or because we anticipate rejection. We harbor our words out of a need to control through passivity. We refrain from speaking because we are proud, or frightened or lost; and yet holding all this negative silence drains our energy, saps our strength and weighs us down. The springs that nourish us dry up and our bones begin to waste away. In our resistance to openness we guarantee that the unholy fist of brooding silence will maintain a firm grip upon our souls.

God says: I see that you are afraid and so you retreat – yet withdrawal takes you further from me and my healing hands. I understand that you do not want to hear what others have to say when you speak – yet by holding your words you give permission for others to decide what you are thinking. I know that you are confused and that you look for release from the troubled place in which you find yourself – yet your hiding only adds to your pain. Corrupt arrogance, false stoicism, prideful deceit, distrust and dishonesty: is this the world you want to inhabit forever? Forgiveness, compassion, peace, unity and honesty: is this the eternity you wish to spend with me?

There are times when silence is holy and there are times when silence stifles the soul. The psalmist calls us to a candid remission of our faults and a conversation with God. God’s covenant promises a guiding Spirit and a merciful embrace. Jesus show us mercy and justice. When we remain silent about all that troubles us we invite dark thoughts and we see only hopelessness on the horizon. God invites us to much more than this. God invites us to a remission of all that troubles us. Let us give voice to our fears and worries.

To reflect on the positive and negative ways that silence can act in our lives, enter the words silent or silence into the blog search bar and explore.


Image from: http://www.incasa.org/2011/11/14/the-culture-of-silence/

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

you are forgivenPsalm 32:1-2

Remission

Happy the one whose fault is forgiven, whose sin is blotted out; happy the one whom Yahweh accuses of no guilt, whose spirit is incapable of deceit!

Each of us knows that we are imperfect. Each day we struggle with the temptation to react in anger, to share gossip, to judge, to allow envy to take us over. And yet we also hope to stand blameless before the creator. The miracle of God’s goodness and greatness brings us this opportunity for redemption, this offer of remission.

God says: I do not want you to hide from me because you know you have been unpleasant, unhelpful or even angry with others. I do not want you to believe that the obstacles you see between you and me are insurmountable. Rather, I want you to bring your fears, your worries and your imperfections to  me. Together we will lift them. I promise to take on the heaviest of loads. There is no wrong you can describe to me that will make me shudder. My patience and forgiveness are bottomless; my love and hope are limitless; my yearning to have you close to me is unbearable. Come to me so that we can lay aside all that bothers and frightens you. 

God knows us too well to expect that we will never err. God loves too well to leave us by the wayside.

Christ loves us so well that he removes all guilt with a healing look. Christ seeks us so fervently that all blemish and all imperfection fall away with a healing touch.

No threat of guile or deceit is too much for the Spirit to transform. No rumor of sin is so enduring that the Spirit will not outlast it.

Let us put aside our fear and go to God that we might receive the gift of remission.

Tomorrow, the effects of remaining silent.


Image from: https://holycrossrumson.typepad.com/pastor/2018/08/forgive-us-our-trespasses-as-we-forgive-those.html

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