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Posts Tagged ‘hope’


Sunday, August 2, 2020

jobww[1]Job 38:1

Out of the Storm

Then the Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said . . .

In this first of the Wisdom Books there is much to learn.  A loyal and faithful servant is suddenly struck with misfortune and is further beset by a long series of disasters.  Friends berate him; his wife suggests that he curse God and die; yet through all of the adversity Job keeps his eye on God and his heart in God’s hands.  And it is out of the storm that seems to destroy Job that the Lord speaks.

God says: Despite what some may believe I do not delight in the troubles that stalk the world.  Although you may not fully recognize my presence I am with you always.  Regardless of what others tell you, I will not abandon even one of you or take my watchful eye from you.  I accompany you through the heavy times as well as the joyful ones.  Even as the storm of life rages around you I am in the tempest, and it is out of this tempest that I speak to you as I speak to my servant Job to ask: Were you present when the land and her creatures were created . . . were you there when I placed the stars in the heavens . . . have you ever made the sun rise or the tides ebb?  You do not know the intimate details of my plan but know that I hold you in the palm of my hand.  The calamity that appears so enormous to you is as a grain of sand to me and yet from that grain of sand will come a pearl of great price.  Abide with me as Job does . . . and see what plans I have in mind for you.  Plans for you joy and not your woe.

As Paul tells the Romans, and us: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!  How inscrutable are God’s judgments and how unsearchable are God’s ways!  For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been God’s counselor?  Or who has given God anything that he may be repaid.  For from God and through God and for God are all things.  To God be glory forever. Amen.  (Romans 11:30-36)

storm-sunshine[1]Although we cannot hope to comprehend God’s economy, we have hope in the resurrection.  Although we cannot hope to feel God’s immediate presence in the storms that enter our lives, we have hope in God’s love.

Spend time with the Book of Job today, or enter the word Job into the blog search bar and reflect on Job’s story.


For a thumbnail sketch of what happens in this story, click on the storm image above or go to: http://www.bibletutor.com/level1/program/start/books/oldtest/psalms/job.htm

Sun image from: http://juliebolduc.com/2012/07/25/sunshine-just-after-the-storm/

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Friday, July 24, 2020

Anna and Jesus

Anna and Jesus

Luke 2:36-38

Never Forsaken

There was also a prophetess Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher.  She was advanced in years, having lived seven years with her husband after her marriage, and then as a widow until the age of eighty-four.  She never left the temple, but worshiped night and day with fasting and prayer.  And coming forward at that very time, she gave thanks to all who were awaiting the redemption of Jerusalem. 

Simeon is not the only holy voice who recognizes the Messiah in the infant Jesus.  Simeon and Anna are “Israel in miniature, poised in anticipation of the new”.  (Mays 932)  Yet despite the celebration of the moment there is a recognition of the suffering that will also take place.

God says: I do not want to dampen your joy or bring you sorrow.  I send Anna because I know that in your journey pain will always accompany rejoicing; and I want Anna to remind you that even when you believe I have duped you . . . you will have consolation.  I will never abandon you even though the harsh times may cause you to think that I will not return.  I will never leave you even though you may believe I have.  I want you  to know that I need not return to you . . . for I  have never left.  I am with you always. 

Anna’s appearance after the words of Simeon remind us that “Jerusalem will reject [Jesus] and will instead follow a way that will lead to disaster (19:41-44).  They will seem forsaken by God, but Anna is a reminder that the disaster is not God’s last word: Jesus remains for Jerusalem a sign of hope”. (Barton 930)

Enter the word hope into the blog search bar and explore other reflections that remind us of God’s constant presence in his precious gift of Jesus to the world.


Barton, John, and John Muddiman. THE OXFORD BIBLE COMMENTARY. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2001. 930. Print.

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

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Thursday, July 23, 2020

Luke 2:29-32

Compline

My eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people: a light to reveal you to the nations.

In the tradition of The Liturgy of the Hours the Canticle of Simeon is sung as part of Compline or Night Prayer.  For the entire prayer, go to the Bible Gateway site linked in the citation above and explore the various interpretations of these verses.  For the story of Simeon, read Luke 2:22-35.

God says: Simeon is a faithful servant who waited patiently for the fulfillment of my promise that he would see the messiah before death came to him.  Just as Mary and Joseph were presenting the child, Jesus, in the Temple, this loyal servant saw in this family what I see, a trinity of hope, love and faith, promise, mercy and constancy.  Simeon also saw that the lives of these three people would be full of deep sorrow and great joy.  Simeon spoke words that I hear in waves from the faithful as they prepare to retire for the night.  Join yourself with them as you prepare for bed.  It is such a short prayer that it will not tax you.  Turn away from the cares of the world for a brief time and pray these verses.  You sleep ever so much better for having joined Simeon to visit with me.

Another faithful servant waited patiently for the appearance of God Among Us.  Tomorrow, the story of Anna . . .


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Aert_de_Gelder_-_Het_loflied_van_Simeon.jpg

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Monday, July 20, 2020

mary-and-elizabeth[1]Luke 1

The Encounter

In the first chapter of Luke we witness a series of encounters: the immaculate as she encounters the one who is in the presence of God, two cousins carrying new life, two cousins as yet unborn, and the quiet drama of God’s word coming to live among God’s people.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might see them so.

We plan to meet friends for lunch.  We arrange our lives to gather for an important occasion.  We enter dates on calendars and electronic schedulers.  We commit to union with others.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might make them so.

We are surprised when we meet a friend from days lived long past.  We chance upon a relative we have not seen since a funeral years ago. We find ourselves waiting in queue with a former colleague we have not thought of in the years since we shared a workplace.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might make them so.

We bump into strangers in our daily interactions. We exchange currency and salutations with people we barely perceive. We pump gas and load purchases next to people we may never see again. We rent vacation apartments and share cups and plates with hundreds whom we will never meet. We travel in airplanes, trains, buses and taxis and brush against thousands or even millions.  All encounters are holy.  Would that we might make them so.

We might imagine a life in which we anticipate joy as we meet new people and encounter new ways of thinking.  We might picture a life in which conflicts are expressed openly with respect rather than obliquely with silent aggression.  We might read Luke 1 and see a girl who steps into danger, fully knowing and fully accepting the challenge that lies before her . . . saying with full and open heart, My soul magnifies the Lord.

All encounters are holy.  Would that we might see them so.

Prophet and Redeemer meet before the world is aware of their existence.

Two women clasp one another as they kiss cheeks.

A harbinger arrives, announcing good news that we often choose to disbelieve.

God comes to earth to walk among his people.

Trust in God.  Hope with God.  Love for God.

Believing that the impossible might be made possible.

All of these encounters are revealed to us today.

All of these options stand before the people we read about today.

All of these possibilities lie beneath the encounters presented to us today.

Let us imagine a life in which each time we look up, we greet the other with warm trust, exuberant hope, and authentic love.  Let us picture a world in which we greet and listen to one another with genuine respect.  Let us see ourselves stepping forward honestly with hand extended in faithful friendship.  Let us imagine the possibilities that lie beneath our encounters, and let us pray . . .

All encounters are holy.  Would that we might believe them so.


Image from: http://www.retreatinabag.net/category/retreat-event-planning/ministry-at-the-retreat/

Adapted from a reflection written on January 22, 2009.

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Saturday, July 18, 2020

Joseph's Dream

Joseph’s Dream

Genesis 45:5

Sent Ahead

Do not be distressed and so not reproach yourselves for having sold me here.  It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me here ahead of you.

Amazingly, Joseph is able to forgive his brothers who years before had sold him – the favored son – into slavery.  His fidelity to God brings him solace and rescue.  His hope in God brings him salvation and healing.  His love of God brings him humility and transformation.

God says: We can see how difficult life was for my servant Joseph yet Joseph continued to trust me even as his blessed and happy life became one of hardship and confusion.  Joseph had always been marked as special and his brothers plotted first to kill him out of their envy.  Later they sold him to a passing caravan and lied to their father Jacob about what had taken place.  For years their sorrow festered.  Not so with Joseph.  Despite the turmoil Joseph kept his eye on me.  Despite the frustration Joseph spoke with me.  Despite the fear Joseph trusted in me.  It was for these reasons that Joseph was able to fulfill the dream I placed in him: he was willing to go ahead of the Hebrew nation so that many might be saved.

God brings good out of all harm.  We need not waste ourselves with worry and anxiety.  Each of us has a place in God’s plan of salvation.  We only need be open to the outrageous possibility of God’s dream for us.


To better understand Joseph’s fidelity in the face of crisis and how each of us may be sent ahead, read the story of Joseph and His Brothers in Genesis Chapters 37 to 50.

For more about the emotions of resentment and envy, visit: https://www.intentionalcommunication.com/envy-jealousy-resentment-the-comparison-emotions-at-work-reprise/

Image from: https://www.sermonview.com/cart/product_info.php?products_id=859

For a reflection and a prayer on this story of Truth Revealed, enter the words in tot the bog search bar and explore. 

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Wednesday, July 1, 2020

The Word of God

The Word of God

1 John 1:1-4

The Word of Life

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of Life – for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us – what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too many have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

We are a visual, tactile people.  We look for data. We rely on evidence.  We want facts.  We seek reason over emotion and the Apostle John understands this – as does God.

God says: I know that you want cold, hard proof that I am with you and yet you have it each day at your rising to a new sun and a new beginning.  Did I not awaken you this morning? I understand that you rest on science and law and that you measure your life with scientific and legal standards.  Do I not show you my justice and mercy every minute of every hour each day as you go through your work and play? I comprehend that you have fears and anxieties that rattle you and shake your confidence.  Will I abandon you when you lay your head to rest this night to gather strength for a new day?  You can rely on the testimony of the Beloved Apostle who recounts his experiences to you.  Learn to trust his word . . . for it is mine. 

When doubt assails us we waver.  When obstacles obstruct our path we stumble.  When opposing arguments clatter around us we shrink and hesitate.  John tells us today that these doubts, obstacles and arguments are as nothing before the profound truth that supports and protects us. John speaks to us with passion so that we too might believe.  When we spend time with John 1:1-5, we explore our fears and joys about the message we hear.


A re-post from July 1, 2013.

Image from: https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=156989&picture=smoke-13

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Thursday, June 13, 2020

Jeremiah 12

Plots of Darkness

The prophecy of Jeremiah is a strong one and in chapter 12 we see the prophet exchanging frank words with the creator.  He enters into a dialog in which he tells God that he is unhappy because while he obeys God and abides in faithfulness the wicked prosper.  Jeremiah – the innocent lamb – works hard at doing as God asks yet he is surrounded and attacked by those who lay plots of darkness to bring about his end.  Jeremiah’s enemies, the people of Anathoth, are his own family and friends (Meeks 1136-1137) and the reason for their persecution of Jeremiah is unclear.  The point is that the prophet suffers at the hands of those who ought to be living in concord with him, and who ought to be joining him in performing good works to live in and with God.  We might find ourselves in similar situations today when those closest to us betray us, seek our end, and seem to prosper all the while.

Thomson: Anathoth

John Thomson: Anathoth

God’s response is typical of the Old Testament in that it has words of violence and revenge yet the seeds of optimism.  The New Testament, as we often remind ourselves during our Noontime reflections, is one of forgiveness and hope.  The idea of resurrection does not occur in Jewish sacred scripture until the second century before Christ in the book of Daniel, but here with Jeremiah’s second lament (the first is in chapter 11) we see the beginnings of Jesus’ message of freedom and restoration.  In verses 14 through 17 God speaks of having pity and of bringing back those who repent.  This is a clear indication that God’s hope and God’s power to restore know no bounds.  And it is a message to us today that we might try to strive for the same level of union with all . . . even those who have sought our end.

As Saint Paul reminds us in Ephesians 5:11: Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them.  And we might add . . . and let God handle them.  As we have reflected often, the hardest work for any of us is this . . . to pray for those who have damaged us.  God expects us to ask for the impossible and we delight God when we seek intervention on behalf of those who do us harm because God knows that the dark depths of evil plots are beyond our skill level.  God wants to help us and so we pray . . .

Dearest God whose love knows no bounds, you are willing to seek, to call, to forgive and to heal.  You want to mend each of us in order that we might unite ourselves with you and with one another.  Bring us the gift of humility, the grace of peace, the steadfastness of faith, the passion of hope and the touch of your love.  Allow us to express our fears and doubts and anger with you.  Let us speak about the plots of darkness that frighten us and then . . . call us back . . . calm our hearts . . . restore our spirit . . . and carry us home with you.  Amen. 


Adapted from a Noontime written on September 1, 2009.

Meeks, Wayne A., Gen. Ed. HARPERCOLLINS STUDY BIBLE (NRSV). New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1989. Print.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2020

tr-corpus-christi-tabgha[1]John 21: 11

Spiritual Stamina

We spent Easter Week reflecting on the 21st Chapter of John’s Gospel and the implications it has for our modern lives.  The Resurrected Christ appears to the disheartened apostles who have returned to their nets and the sea in their confusion after the events in Jerusalem during their Passover time.  Christ had returned to the Upper Room where they had all shared that last meal before Jesus’ trial and crucifixion, and Jesus’ faithful followers – much like us – rejoiced with Christ’s revelation of himself.  Now they feel a bit empty and flat when little in their lives appears to have changed significantly or for the better in any way at all.  And so they go back to what they know . . . and their world changes irreparably when Christ appears again on the shore of the sea.

The apostles sling their nets over the water another time as the man on the shore asks and although they have been casting for hours and have caught nothing . . . the nets come up full to bursting.  And miraculously even though there were so many fish, the net does not break. 

During Eastertide we have explored the burdens and rewards of discipleship.  We have examined the costs and the benefits of following Christ.  We have evaluated the requirements and gifts of living as disciples and we have sometimes found that we have no stomach and little energy to persist in the journey.  We hunger, we thirst, we ache, we tire, we stagger and flag under our perceived burden and yet . . . we return each morning to our Sisyphean task.  Despite our exhaustion, deep within we know that Christ continues to sustain.  We know that he fills our nets daily.  And we see that the nets have not torn.  This is, indeed, a marvelous God.

Paul understands this condition of amazed exhaustion when he writes to the Romans – and to us: We even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance proven character, and proven character hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  (Romans 5:3-5)

Today, as we celebrate the real presence of Christ among us we turn to this intimate friend and brother who knows us so well, and we place all our worries and delights, all our anxieties and joys, all our fears and celebrations in his able arms.  We fall into this threefold God who protects, saves and sustains, and we pray . . .

Dearest and most precious God present in us,

Although we tire we are not beaten, so living in the life of Christ, we rejoice in our exhaustion.  You have filled our nets again and we know that we cannot pull them from the sea without you.

Although we lack so much we are not lost, so living in the life of the Spirit, we celebrate our poverty.  You have given us all the resources we will ever need and we know that we cannot discern them without you.

Although we have no stamina we find ourselves rising to new mornings, and living in the goodness of God, and so we praise you.  We find ourselves each day with grateful hearts and we know that we cannot live without you.

Remind us that although our nets are full . . . they will never tear.  Although our limbs are weary . . . they will never fail.  Although our hearts are broken . . . they will never be empty.  Amen.


A re-post from June 2, 2013. 

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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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