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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Spirit’


Sunday, September 22, 2019

John 14:16-17: Jesus taught us saying, “I shall ask the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete to be with you forever, the Spirit of truth whom the world can never accept since it neither sees nor knows him; but you know him, because he is with you, he is in you”.

We tend to think of ourselves as independent, separate beings; we believe that our skin holds our organs in and the world out . . . and yet we know this thinking to be incorrect.  The human skin is a porous organ with billions of pores that act as gateways to the world; and just so does the Paraclete permeate our souls and call us to God.

And God says: No matter how much you try to remain apart from me . . . I will be with you.  No matter how much you struggle to remain separate from me . . . I will be in you.  This is incontrovertible. This is immutable.  This is absolute. My eternal truth will be with you and in you always . . . for this is how much I love you.

We are God’s well-loved creatures.  God’s Spirit abides within us.  We are loved.  Let us act as though we understand that it is God who made us . . . and God who is in us.

Type the words Holy Spirit in the blog search box, see what comes up, and spend some time reflecting on what it means when Jesus says that God is in us.


A re-post from August 22, 2012.

Image from: http://svm2.net/abandonedtimes/cultivating-daily-fellowship-with-the-holy-spirit-part-2/

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Luke 20:20-26: Craftiness

Monday, May 27, 2019

James Tissot: The Meal in the House of the Pharisee

Recognizing their craftiness, he said to them, “Show me . . .” [Yet] they were unable to trap him by something he might say before the people, and so amazed were they at his reply that they fell silent.

Craftiness approaches us from many angles and wearing many different kinds of shoes.  In our work and in our family life, particularly when we trust others from a sense of habit rather than from a discernment of a truth we see in them, we may fall into a trap which Jesus cleverly avoids in today’s reading.

When we operate from a source of good, we may be easily fooled by others when we speak in and for ourselves.

When we operate from a source of good, we will amaze our enemies when we speak in and for Christ.

In another place in Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells us: When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you are to say.  (12:11 

In our sense of panic when we are attacked, we may automatically sink to the level of deception which has assailed us, thinking to outwit our opponents.  Or, we might put our fear on hold and call on God to give us the proper words that will amaze and silence our challengers.

The value of speaking with God morning, noon and night is this: When we are under siege – whether from a known enemy or a loved one – we will have a well-trained homing instinct, a ready portal, a clean and open conduit to God.  The answer we seek in desperation comes to us nearly unbidden so that we might amaze and silence those who seek our ruin or even our end.

As we travel through our days, moving from one activity to another with little time for introspection, we must take time to recognize and give thanks to the Spirit which keeps us free and holy.  It is this relationship which guides us in recognizing craftiness in others.  It is this relationship which guides us in recognizing what is Caesar’s and what is God’s.  And it this relationship which gives us the gift of sudden grace to recognize the difference between those who live in the world of deception, darkness and illusion and those who live in the wholeness and goodness of God.


A re-post from May 12, 2012.

Image from: http://cacina.wordpress.com/2010/10/12/carry-the-gospel-with-you-675/

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Romans 1A Slave for Christ

Friday, February 22, 2019

Paul ruffled feathers as he moved about the Empire delivering the message of Christ.  As apostles we too can expect adversity.

Paul traveled approximately 10,000 miles in his journeys for Jesus.  As followers of Jesus cannot be timid about sharing our own story of Jesus as we too travel many miles.

Paul aggravated his political and spiritual leaders yet he helped a burgeoning Jewish sect establish a religion that would overtake the empire itself.  As Christians we too contribute to the flowering of Jesus’ message.

Membership in the early church was often more a liability than a boon since Christians were viewed as cannibals and participants in incestuous relationships. It is not until the beginning of the 4th Century (323 C.E.) that Christianity becomes an accepted form of worship.  As modern Christians we too may be viewed with skepticism, we too may wait long years before we are seen as the faithful.

Cult worship favored by most Romans was a very different spirituality from Christianity.  In the former, mortals serve whimsical gods; in the latter, a constant and faithful Living God dedicates himself to the care and protection of his creatures.  This Living God comes among his creatures to live as one with them while the Olympian gods tormented mortals.  Our petty gods continue to lure us from our true journey; they taunt us with the false promise of fame, fortune and power.

While we today may be haunted by the many small demons of status and superficiality, Romans believed in spirits who guarded rivers, woods, homes, and families.  Early Christians were consoled and counseled by the Holy Spirit of the Living God, the Spirit that brought unity out of God’ great variety . . . as the Spirit still does today.

Early Christians gather in Rome

Rome reaches out to connect England to Egypt, Spain to Syria; and this Roman world in which Paul lives and moves is a world of slaves and masters, poor and rich.  When Paul goes to Rome he enters the epicenter of the Mediterranean world . . . and all that he says and all he does speaks of Christ Jesus . . . as must we today.

Do we have the strength to stand up against the tide of the times?  Paul becomes a slave for Christ to do so. So must we.

Do we have the tenacity to persist in delivering a message the world does not want to hear? Paul suffers beatings, stoning, imprisonment and all forms of derision to do so.  So must we.

Do we trust enough in God to await the words of the Holy Spirit when we find ourselves confronted by overwhelming odds?  Paul becomes the ultimate apostle who sets self aside to live out the mission Christ gives him.  So must we.

Do we love God enough to see others as images of God?  Paul moves among the “unclean” gentiles as God asks of him to bring the Gospel story of freedom to all.  So must we.

For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, writes Paul.  Are we willing to confront gossip and lies; do we invite others to allow Jesus to enter their lives; do we pray for our enemies willingly?  Can we also say that we are not ashamed of the Gospel?  Are we willing to reject our petty gods of sleek cars, stock options, extravagant clothing, excess food, influence with power structures, and our dependence on ultra conveniences in order to share what we have with the poor? Are we willing to be slaves for the marginalized as Paul is?  Are we willing to decrease to nothing so that Christ might increase?

This is what Paul calls out to us today.  What is our reply?


For wonderful information on Christians in the Roman Empire, go to the public television site below.    We will find it well worth the time we invest; and we may learn something we did not know about St. Paul and his missionary journeys.   

A re-post from November 30, 2011. 

http://www.pbs.org/empires/romans/empire/christians.html

Images from: http://savingparadise.net/about/ and http://www.mitchellteachers.org/WorldHistory/AncientRome/BeginningsofChristianity.htm and http://hudsonfla.com/artchristian.htm and http://www.nationalgeographic.com/lostgospel/timeline_09.html 

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Ezekiel 34: Shepherds and Wisdom – A Reprise

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Julien Dupré: The Shepherd

Adapted from a reflection written on January 20, 2008, and explored last September. Today we explore again how scripture’s wisdom might help us discern the difference between true and false shepherds. 

Yesterday we explore the concept of the shepherd in Old Testament scriptures. Today we look at the books of wisdom to see what wisdom they hold for us as we look for a way to discern the difference between true and false shepherds.

In the Book of Psalms, the Holy Spirit brings us beautiful words of the comforting, guiding, protecting shepherd.

Psalm 23 describes the divine shepherd.

Psalm 28 asks Yahweh to be our refuge and protection.

Psalm 78 describes the relationship we want to have with the good shepherd.

Psalm 80 asks the shepherd for restoration.

In the sapiential book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 12, we hear that the words of wisdom are like the shepherd’s staff.

When we compare translations of these verses, we discover the qualities of the good shepherd. In hope we cleave to the shepherd who guides, who calms our fears, who gathers us in.

Tomorrow, prophets who shepherd us . . .

For more beautiful images of shepherds and their flocks, click on the image or visit the “Tending the Flock” post on the “Herding on the Web” blog. 

 

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Acts 11:4-18: Step By Step

Friday, May 5, 2017

Jan Styla: Saint Peter

Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step.

Step-by-step God works with Peter until the faithful servant hears and follows the call. Step-by-step God works with each of us until we do the same.

But a second time the voice answered from heaven.

Opportunity recycles and returns to us. The more we ignore God’s voice, the more often God returns to speak to us. The louder the voice, the more forceful the call. We have only to open our eyes, ears, minds and hearts.

The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us.

Step-by-step God works with us until we understand and act on the call to come together despite our differences.

“Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning”. 

New openings return to us, never leaving even one lost sheep behind. The more we resist, the stronger the pull. Peter steps beyond his wildest dreams to comfort and save an entire world. Peter steps into our lives to change us forever.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore this sermon, we allow ourselves to take in the Spirit. We allow change to enter into our hearts . . . and live there always.

Tomorrow, Peter walks out of prison.

 

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Ezra 6: 19-23: Marvels – Part IV

Sunday, November 13, 2016presence-of-holy-spirit

We remember well the marvels the Lord has done for us. 

We remember that the Lord has returned us from exile.

We join the whole crowd as we rejoice at the splendid deeds done by the Lord.

We tell the world that with great joy we celebrate for it is the Lord who has made us joyful.

We tell the world that we are so full of joy that we will keep the feast.

And so we pray.

Good and generous God, you have brought us back from the darkness that haunted us, and you remind us that we are “people of the “presence”.

Good and gentle God, you have seen our plight that marginalized us, and you have come to redeemed and heal us.

Good and courageous God, you have heard our prayer of worry and fear, and you have answered us with your miracles great and small. 

Good and bold God, you have seen how we struggle with the storms of life, and you have done great things for us that are marvels in our lives.

Good and strong God, you have helped Ezra and Nehemiah to rebuild the Temple and now you build a Temple within each of us. 

For these marvels and wonders we give thanks. For the indwelling of the Holy Spirit we rejoice. For your holy presence we celebrate. Amen.

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Acts 15: Control

Friday, May 6, 2016Jerusalem-Council

In this book which describes the birth of a community, we see how the followers of Christ dissent and argue, come together and unify. They are much like members of any community we might see today. In this reading, church members gather in an effort to both communicate and to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit.  We witness the concern for what some believe to be a lack of control and what to others appears as micro-management.  We can find ourselves at the office lunch table or coffee pot, at a family or neighborhood gathering to say the same things about our own society.  Who has control over what and why?  Where do we leave room for the Holy Spirit to speak?  Are we falling back on old rules, customs, habits and traditions?  Are we seeking change because we are bored or because it is needed?  Today’s reading can give us a good deal to ponder.

Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Tower of Babel

Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Tower of Babel

In many churches, authority comes not only from the bishops and the hierarchy, but also from the people in the pews; yet sometimes the little voice is overridden by the bigger, more powerful one.  In a family, each generation’s voice must be heard if the large unit is to flourish and give life; yet sometimes the children, the tired and those who are marginalized are ignored.  God’s diversity not only allows for a variety of voices; it requires an array of choice. We have only to look to the story of the Tower of Babel to see why.  (Genesis 11) Humankind survives the great flood yet still has the impression that they are in charge, and so God sends an assortment of languages upon them, causing them to separate and diversify.

Those of us who teach the acquisition of language know that we teach far more than verbs and nouns; we teach a way of thinking and various modes of expression. We teach a way to step out of ourselves and into the shoes of another.  In God’s plan, this rainbow of sound and form is brought back from its prism of variety at the feast of the Pentecost, the day when the Holy Spirit descends upon the apostles who go out to tell the story of Christ.  The amazing part of the story is that people from differing lands understand what the apostles say.  The people were astounded, and in amazement they asked, “Are not all these people who are speaking Galileans?  Then how does each of us hear them in his own native language?”  (Acts 2:7-8) This variety of people hears because the Holy Spirit speaks . . . and it is the presence of the Holy Spirit we must seek when we feel ourselves to be in a circumstance where control or passive aggression are being unjustly exercised – either by others or ourselves.

We might, when we find ourselves in these restricted places, intone the words of Psalm 133.

How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!  It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes.  It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion.  For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

It is good . . .

Even life for evermore . . .

Amen. 

Adapted from a favorite written on November 3, 2009.

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Ephesians 4:25-32: A Clean Break

Wednesday, April 20, 2016break-bad-habit

Friends advise us: Just make a clean break. Go cold turkey. Say no. Walk away. These words are easily heard and just as easily ignored for it is so difficult to break away from habits that feel so comfortable and people who are so predictable . . . despite the fact that these people and circumstances bring us pain. We listen – as did the Ephesians – to Paul’s advice. From THE MESSAGE:

No more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.

We tell ourselves to remain calm, to go with the flow. Paul has other words for us.

Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life

We convince ourselves that we harm no one if we remain in a dishonest relationship. Paul tells us differently.

Did you used to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work.

We say to one another that our anger is justified. Paul reminds us that there is another way.

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.

We believe that we are disconnected, abandoned, neglected or forgotten. Paul tells us otherwise.

holy spirit dove in flightDon’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted.

In the end, Paul tells us, a clean break is better than a rotting connection.

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

 When we compare this translation with others, we find new meaning in old words.

Tomorrow, God’s shepherding love. 

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014

God's love language1 John 4:13-21

This is How We Know

This is how we know that we remain in God and God in us, that God has given us of the Spirit.

We speak and think about God the Creator and God the Redeemer and we often forget about God the Spirit.

Whoever acknowledges that Jesus is the son of God, remains in God and he in God.

The Holy Spirit looks for a dwelling place in every human heart.

God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.

We cannot avoid these words. If we say we love God we must act it. If we say we know God we must show it. If we say we love God . . . we must love as God loves. This is how we know that God is within.

Click on the scripture link above and read the different versions of this citation. Choose another version from the drop down menus and reflect on what great love God has for us . . . and what great love we might have for God.

Enter the word Spirit into the blog search bar and reflect on the dwelling place we have arranged for God within, and on how we extend an invitation to God to live in our hearts.

Tomorrow, victory over the world.

 

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