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Posts Tagged ‘hope’


Thursday, May 28, 2020

trinity-sunday[1]1 Thessalonians 5

Time Unknown

The message that God’s time is God’s time and that God alone is enough is important for us to experience.  And it is here in this letter that Paul helps us to better understand God who heals and abides, God of Time Unknown.  A good study Bible with commentary and footnotes will be an effective tool for us to use.

The reference in verse 5 to children of the light, which is who we are, refers to those who are called out of darkness to be light to the world, to be God’s expression of love to the world just as Christ is God’s light and message of love to the world.  Each of us is called to perfect intimate union of light and goodness with God . . . so that we might go forth to tell others this good news.

Commentary and footnotes also make a connection for us with Romans 5:1-10 in which Paul urges us to recognize our indestructible personal union in Christ’s own life.  This sense of our union with God’s timelessness makes our mission to the world all the easier once we realize that as Christ’s disciples we must operate from God’s love rather than our fears.  (Senior 236)

Toward the end of Thessalonians chapter 5, there is a beautiful exhortation to form community in Christ Jesus.  Paul is telling us that the suffering we undergo allows us to unite with Christ.  From the essay on page 324: “The superabundant love for which Paul has just prayed [3: 12-13] is to be shown practically by living out the norms of conduct that he has communicated to them.  Specific ‘imperatives’ of Christian life, principles for acting morally, stem from the ‘indicative’ of  one’s relationship to God through Christ by the sending of the holy Spirit.  Thus, moral conduct is the practical, personal expression of one’s Christian faith, love and hope.” [my underlining]

In the life of the Spirit there is always the opportunity to make a new beginning.  There is always the hope for the impossible.  There is always the call to love most the ones who harm us.  This is the Way of Christ.  It is justice tempered with compassion, righteous action moderated with mercy; it is not leniency which forgives and forgets, but rather it is an active, humble and infinite love which transforms.  And we are called to behave in this manner in this life, otherwise how will we have the skill to behave this way in the next?

Paul is telling us that the way we live each day, the way we interact with others in this world, the way we express our faith in God, our hope that Jesus returns, our love in the Spirit . . . all of this is also our expression of our relationship with the timeless Triune God.

As we fuss and worry about our little timelines, our past and our future, Paul gives us the image of the Trinity with its timeless, infinite goodness.  And Paul tells us that we are one with this indestructible timelessness.

This is something worth thinking about . . . and acting on.

Tomorrow, waiting in God’s time . . .


Image from: http://www.trinitycranford.org/?page_id=8106

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.324-328. Print.   

Adapted from a reflection written on July 23, 2007.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2020

providence[1]Psalm 33God’s Power and Providence

Rejoice, you just, in the Lord . . .

Each time we weather a new emotional storm and lay all of our worries in God’s hands . . . we become one of the just.

Give thanks to the Lord on the harp . . .

Each time we muster the courage and energy to thank God for even the smallest of blessings . . . we give thanks to God on the harp of our lives.

Sing to God a new song . . .

Each time we decide to deal with old woes in new ways . . . we learn to sing a new song.

But the plan of the Lord stands forever, wise designs through all generations . . .

Each time we ask God to be the architect of our lives . . . we discover that we stand with God in eternity.

Our souls waits for the Lord who is our help and shield . . .

Each time we shelter in the arms of God . . . we learn what it means to be divine.

For in God our hearts rejoice . . .

Each time we put aside our petty worrying . . . we unite ourselves more fully with God.

May your kindness, Lord, be upon us . . .

Each time we act as Christ acts . . . we experience more fully God’s goodness.

We have put our hope in you.

Each time we rely on God rather than our own little plans . . . we see our wildest hopes flourish.

The just are invited to praise God for creation, for intervention and help.  The psalmist also praises God for his revelation of himself to us.  We read that the Lord loves covenants, commitments, fidelity, constancy, love of creation and justice.  His own kindness is seen in the many ways he has saved his faithful.   The proper response to all of this is our own re-commitment to our covenant with God.  This psalm reads like a mini-Gospel as it contains the same message which we received with gift of Jesus to the world.

For the word of the Lord is true, and he is faithful in everything he does.

What can be more powerful than this?  What can be more providential? What can bring us more hope?  What can bring us more healing?

The gift and promise and covenant are freely given.  All we need do is . . . rejoice.

Tomorrow, the Trinity of Love . . .


Adapted from a reflection written on May 7, 2008.

Image from: http://www.soundanalarm.com/category/articles/christian-doctrines/providence-of-god/

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Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Gerbrand Van den EEckhout:Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the Priest Eli

Gerbrand Van den Eckhout: Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the Priest Eli

1 Samuel 1

Steadfastness in Hope: Miracles

As we continue to shelter in place in order to combat a pandemic, we remember the steadfastness of Hannah. 

Today we read the story of a woman who is well-loved . . . and well taunted, a woman who will not give up her hope for something new.  Previously in our Noontime journey we have examined the piety, constancy and fidelity of Hannah.  Today, as we continue to explore the quality of steadfastness, we look for surprises, joy and hope that mark Hannah’s journey, and we allow ourselves to be open to surprise, joy and hope even as we remain steadfast.  Several verses leap off the page to give us new meaning from familiar old words.

Verse 6:  Her rival, to upset her, turned it into a constant reproach to her that the Lord had left her barren.  Knowing that a woman’s worth in ancient times was measured by her virginity as a maiden and her fertility as a woman, Peninnah, the second wife of Elkanah, is perhaps jealous of the double portions of love Hannah receives despite her barrenness.  Perhaps Peninnah is younger and more beautiful . . . and thinks herself deserving of something better.  We know many people who are Peninnahs to us and to others.  During this Eastertide, let us pray that the joy of life in Christ softens their hearts of stone.

Verse 15: I am an unhappy woman . . . I was only pouring out my troubles to the Lord.  Hannah takes her burden to the proper place . . . to her creator who knows both her gifts and her plight better than any human.  We are all Hannah at one time or another in our homeward journey.  Sometimes we try to carry our burdens on our own; sometimes we share our woes with friends and counselors as we should.  We must also remember to take our problems daily to the one who has the best solutions. During this Eastertide, let us pray that our confidence in Christ softens our hearts of stone.

Verse 18:  She went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and no longer appeared downcast.  Hannah is first rebuked by the priest Eli who thinks that she is drunk as she prays.  Once he understands her misery, he blesses her and urges her to in peace, relying on the God of Israel to hear her request.  She exhibits immediate confidence and joy. We find consolation when we take our troubles to God.  May we encourage one another to bring their burdens to the Lord who heals and frees all from sadness.  During this Eastertide, let us pray that the hope of life in Christ opens our hearts of stone.

Verse 19: The Lord remembered her.  The Lord is mindful of his faithful handmaid for many years.  Hannah not only bears a son, Samuel, whom she dedicates to God; she also receives the gift of three more sons and two daughters.  This family is an ample witness to Hannah, to Peninnah, and to us that a steadfast, confident, joyful heart receives miracles beyond imagining.  During this Eastertide, let us pray that our life in Christ opens all hearts to the miracles God has in mind for us this day.

When we persist in our steadfastness we ultimately experience hope.  When we rest in our steadfastness we ultimately experience joy.  When we persevere in our steadfastness we ultimately experience surprise.  In this Eastertide, let us welcome God’s presence in our lives and remain steadfast.  Let us be open to the surprises, joy and miracles that await us.

Amen.


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gerbrand_van_den_Eeckhout_-_Anna_toont_haar_zoon_Samu%C3%ABl_aan_de_priester_Eli.jpg

Adapted from the December 7, 2008 Noontime.

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Monday, May 11, 2020

restorejusticeimage[1]Philippians 1:27-30

Steadfastness in Faith

If ever we doubt that we are to be community and that we are called to find ways to bridge differences, we only need look as far as the Book of Acts and the Letters of the New Testament.

This is God’s doing.  I keep repeating these words to myself as I wend my way through the obstacles that present themselves to me each day. I have been planted in this time and place to bloom according to the gifts God sent with me. And so in accord with the covenant I share with God, I will continue to be steadfast, always hoping for the best outcome for all.

I share with you a quote which was sent to me several years ago.

Hope is all about the vision of what we believe our world can and should be . . . Hope enables us to believe that we can achieve some meaningful expression of justice, reconciliation and healing here and now even though the ultimate goal must always remain beyond our grasp.


John W. de Gruchy, Reconciliation: Restoring Justice

Hope, reconciliation, willingness, bridge-building, restoration, transformation.  These are only a few of the gifts we receive when we become disciples of Christ.

Tomorrow, steadfastness in love . . .


Image from: http://transitionalbany.org/

To learn more about restorative justice, go to: http://www.restorativejustice.org/articlesdb/articles/4385 and explore.

Adapted from a Noontime written on May 7, 2007.

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Saturday, May 9, 2020

6648f45035a47efdafeee4d3f3f056e4_XL[1]Nehemiah 13

A Prayer for Willingness

True hope differs from waiting in that it expects the impossible to become possible through our petition and in God’s action.  Today we might reflect on a mirror image to hope and conversion that we pondered yesterday: the juxtaposition of willingness and desire It is this willingness – rather than our desire – that refines us as faithful.  It is this willingness – and not mere desire – that marks us as God’s disciples.

But what might we gain, we ask ourselves, from being willing rather than willful?

Perhaps it is our willingness that God nurtures patiently, waiting for our readiness to participate fully in God through Christ.  Perhaps it is this measure of willingness that indicates our full and ready understanding of who God is and why we are created in God’s image.   Perhaps is it our willingness to withstand any difficulty, our determination to be disciples of Christ that signals our preparedness to believe that God can truly make all things possible.  Do we desire to be with God but try to avoid all obstacles in our journey?  Or are we willing to travel the road, despite its roadblocks, in full willingness?

As we read about Nehemiah warning against stepping into alien and pagan territory and relationships, we might remember the Good Samaritan parable told by Jesus.  A man from Samaria, considered to be an outcast by the Jewish community, helps an injured traveler on the road to Jerusalem while the Levite, one who has special status in the Jewish community, keeps himself separate and pure.  As we mature from our Old Testament self who seeks to merely understand God and enter into our New Testament self to seek union with God we leave our desire behind . . . and we enter into willingness

We fully experience God’s presence when we give over our human desire of wishing for the end result through expedient or easy means, when we surrender our willfulness in order to become willingBut for this we need courage.

We genuinely live as God’s disciples when we cease asking for the easy route that has no brambles or pitfalls, when we take on the divine mantle of succumbing to the arduous journey of true willingness But for this we need strength.

And so we pray . . .

Dear and gracious God,

We hope to rest constantly in you; grant us your readiness.

We desire to follow faithfully the way of Christ; grant us your eagerness.

We expect to hurdle all obstacles that would keep us from you; grant us your strength.

We hope to respond willingly to your call no matter how difficult the journey; grant us your courage.

We ask that you hold us close to you. 

We ask that you keep us forever with you. 

We ask that you grace us with your willingness.

We ask this in Christ’s name, in unity with the Holy Spirit.  Amen. 


Image from: https://www.bracknell-forest.gov.uk/news/2020/04/supporting-vulnerable-residents-easter-weekend

Adapted from a reflection written on July 21, 2009. 

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Thursday, May 7, 2020

Where-the-willingness-is-great[1]Nehemiah 13

Willingness

I am always struck by the need to separate self from the alien or pagan world in these Old Testament scriptures when the message of unity and universality is taught by Jesus in the New Testament.  As a practicing Jew, Jesus would have known the warnings of Nehemiah quite well . . . yet he challenges us to cease our separatism in order to come to him with others, even those others we have previously avoided.  I believe that God, through Jesus, was calling humanity to something higher.  God is calling us to our divinity . . . through Christ.

I am also struck by the MAGNIFICAT Meditation.  Dom Guillerand, a French Carthusian monk who died in 1945, writes about the kind of willingness we must find within ourselves if we are to find intimate union with God.  He writes about training our willfulness so that the journey – with all its obstacles – becomes our desire; he explains that wishing for something is different from desiring it.  True desire is accompanied by willingness and perseverance.

What distinguishes wishing from real willing is this: the true will wants both the end and the means; mere wishing wants only the end.  Simple desire is conditional: “I would like to reach the end . . .”  “All right, go ahead!”  “But there is this difficulty and that”.  And so mere wishing remains simply an unfulfilled desire – an intention, and nothing more.  Further, it is not a question of just saying or thinking; the essential thing is to act.  Do thoroughly at every moment whatever it is you have to do.  Then you will be strong, although you may not know that you are.  By “thoroughly” I mean with the firm conviction that you will arrive, and the determination to overcome, sooner or later, every difficulty.

In our Eastertide journey we have discovered that although discipleship is arduous and difficult, it is also privilege.  We receive the gifts of meekness, constancy, broken-heartedness, honesty and truth.  Today we add the concept of willingness.  The willingness to live for and in and with Christ.  The willingness to become one with and in Christ.

Tomorrow, the difference between willfulness and willingness . . .


Written on July 21, 2009. Re-written and posted today.

Image from: http://www.quoteswave.com/picture-quotes/32526

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 21.7 (2009). Print.  

For another reflection on Willingness, enter the word into the blog search bar and explore. 

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Thursday, April 23, 2020

imagine9085[1]Job 15 and 16: Peace of Heart

Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, theirs is the kingdom of God . . . blessed are the pure of heart, they will see heaven. 

Discipleship asks much of us as we well know.  And discipleship brings much to us . . . as we also well know.  Any obstacles we encounter as we follow Christ become honing stones for us to use as we smooth our rough edges and heal our broken hearts.  We say that we seek serenity and if this is so, let God heal our brokenness and let us be open to God’s peace of heart.  Let us begin by seeking the Wisdom of God.

The first of the wisdom books is valuable because it shows us how to react when confronted with evil.  It teaches us how to suffer innocently and well.  It instructs us how to stand in God’s light and give thanks for God’s abiding Spirit.  And even though Job’s words were set down well before the arrival of the Messiah, it opens to us the universal hope Christ brings that each of is free.  It brings to us the healing balm of Christ’s hand. It describes for us the importance of enduring in and with Christ.  It is a simple plan to find a certain peace of heart . . . despite the insurmountable impediments that loom before us.

And so when we feel unsettled, discouraged, lacking in confidence, agitated or disgruntled . . .

When it seems that our friends and family do not understand, that we are alone and abandoned . . .

When peace has gone and gentleness disappears in fear and anxiety . . .

We turn to Job and see how he reacts when he is ill, alone, and wrongly accused by friends.

When turbulent days and long nights invade and unsettle the heart, we might reply to our own tempters as does Job: I have heard this sort of thing many times.  Wearisome comforters are you all! 

And then we might turn to the one who alone brings us tranquility of the spirit and heals our brokenness.  Let us take our troubles to the Lord, to ask that he grant us a certain peace of the heart.

Tomorrow, the trial of the just . . .


First written on September 4, 2009. Revised and posted today.  

For a blog that explores how to heal broken hearts, click on the image above or go to: http://blog.relationshiprewind.com/healing-a-broken-heart-secret-steps

 

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Fifth Sunday of Lent, March 29, 2020

John 13:30: And It Was Night

Modern Jerusalem at Night

Modern Jerusalem at Nightfall

We have believed a promise pledged in total honesty.  We have believed in the integrity and authenticity of a vow given freely and openly.  We have relied on a belief to such an extent that we have become completely open ourselves, fearless and yet completely vulnerable.

And then . . . it was night.

We have acted in full confidence of words we took as truth.  We have followed one who cured and healed and called us out of ourselves.  We have stood up, we have owned problems, we have held off naysayers, we have remained faithful through narrow gates.

And then . . . it was night.

We have followed the one who spoke truth.  We have forsworn easy living and have taken the road less travelled.  We have emptied ourselves, built bridges, entered into the work of the kingdom; we have stood at the foot of the cross.

And then . . . it was night.

img0486-2[1]All that we once held closely and shared openly as eternal truth appears to have vanished so easily and so quickly.  What did we miss?  How did we arrive at this darkness?

The black emptiness that grips the heart feels everlasting and we are frozen in this spot and time, waiting for the night to lift, hoping that the promise has not faded.  And yet each time we draw aside the curtain to catch a glimpse of the world as it is we see only the night.

Karl Heinrich Bloch: The Burial of Christ

Karl Heinrich Bloch: The Burial of Christ

Our bodies somehow function yet our thoughts freeze with incomprehension; we feel strangely locked in time as we follow the quiet, little procession to the waiting tomb where we will bury the last of our hopes.  How can something we thought so immense become so small?  Why can we so easily carry this body to its resting place?  Where is the shoulder that bears the heavy yoke?

How is it that this night can be so dark?

It is night yet tucked inside us we feel the fluttering of something that will not give up; some small memory of a healing touch and word persists.  The night feels heavy, intense and infinite and yet we know that there is the promise of the moon below the horizon.  We light candles and hang lanterns in imitation of the stars we know spangle the night sky that is veiled from our view by low-slung clouds.

This night is so intense.

jersalem wall at nightAnd yet as we scan the darkness again we feel the small fluttering of the promise take wing for a passing moment.  Perhaps the intensity of our waiting has opened some small door to the light.  Perhaps the words and touch given in pledge still hold their truth.  Perhaps the light beyond the lowering clouds will at last break through.  Perhaps . . . but for now we roll the stone across the entrance to the tomb and we wait in the darkness.  Perhaps . . . but for now . . . it is the night.


A re-post from March 29, 2013. 

To reflect with the poem Dark Night of the Soul by the 16th Century Spanish mystic St. John of the Cross, go to: http://josvg.home.xs4all.nl/cits/lm/stjohn01.html

Images from: http://www.imb.org/main/downloads/page.asp?StoryID=9460&LanguageID=1709 and http://www.khaces.com/jerusalen-de-noche/1143388 and https://fineartamerica.com/featured/burial-of-jesus-christ-carl-heinrich-bloch.html?product=shower-curtain and http://velvl.blogspot.com/

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Thursday, March 5, 2020

Hosea 10:1-10: Captivity Endured

4handcuffs_Sergey_Venyavsky[1]We are a captive people . . . longing to be free.

We are a searching people . . . longing to be fulfilled.

We are a hopeful people . . . longing to be restored.

False altars will crumble.  Safe harbors will silt in.  Wooden idols will disintegrate into dust.  Sacred pillars will fall.

Since they do not fear the Lord, what can the king do for them?  Nothing but make promises, swear false oaths, and make alliances, while justice grows wild like wormwood in a plowed field! 

If we are able to take the time today to read these verses slowly we might be able to see our own lives through the prism Hosea hands to us.  God loves God’s creatures so dearly that God prunes their wild vines and disciplines them in their way of walking the path. God also promises restoration, and God always keeps promises made.

We know what we seek; yet we sometimes are our own false prophets.

We know that there is the choice of light and dark always before us; yet we sometimes we linger in the shadows.

We know how to transform pain; yet we sometimes act as though we have not heard or seen the message.

God prunes in order to produce fruit in abundance.

God endures through evil and invites us to participate in turning it to good.

God restores in order that we learn to live in outrageous hope.

God loves in order that we turn and return to God’s call of The Way.

God is.  And we are God’s captive people . . . we are a seeking people . . . we are a hopeful people . . . longing to be free . . . longing to be fulfilled . . . longing to be restored. 

In this Lenten time we know that God accompanies us in our Jerusalem journey.  We know that God abides with us.  We know that God calls each one of us by name from eons before our birth.  We know that God is.  Come, let us follow The Way.   


First written during the Christmas octave in December 2008. revised and posted today as  a Favorite

Image from: http://voicerussia.com/radio_broadcast/61124198/91577572/

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