Posts Tagged ‘hope’

Job 8: Taking the Dare – Part IV

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Kim French: Bull Rushes

Kim French: Bull Rushes

Job’s friends believe that he is guilty of some crime against God; why else does he suffer so heavily? Job’s friends do not understand that God has taken a dare from Satan (Job 1), trusting that Job will remain faithful no matter the circumstances. Bildad does not recognize Job as an instrument in God’s plan; he cannot imagine that God calls to the potential place in Job at his conception . . . or that God calls on the potential placed in each of us to respond to God’s immense love in such a steadfast manner.

Reeds can’t grow where there is no water . . .

God says: Send down your roots into my Word each day with confidence.

Evil people sprout like weeds in the sun, like weeds that spread all through the garden. Their roots wrap around the stones and hold fast . . . But then pull them up—no one will ever know they were there . . .

God says: Place all your hope in the promise of my mercy.

God will yet fill your mouth with laughter, and your lips with shouts of joy.

God says: My joy in you is endless and boundless.

Risen_LGThose who hate you will be clothed with shame, and the tent of the wicked will be no more.

God says: I have great plans for you. Plans for joy and not for woe. When evil visits you, remain in me. I am the only force that can bring about the miracle of your transformation. Take the dare that Satan hands to you by trusting me more than yourself. Follow me. Rest in me. Trust in me. Remain in me. Take up the great dare that my love for you can bring about the impossible. 

When we spend time with these verses and reflect on varying translations, we begin to see the depths and breadth and height of God’s love for humanity. Use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore.

Images from: https://pixels.com/featured/bull-rushes-kim-french.html and http://www.redeemerofisrael.org/2009/04/resurrection-part-i-empty-tomb.html

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Job 8: Taking the Dare – Part III

Friday, May 19, 2023

Job and his Friends

Job and his Friends

God’s trust in humanity is so enduring that the Creator takes the dare from Satan. How might we return this amazing trust? God the parent guides and protects us every waking moment and every sleeping hour. We need not eradicate all of the evil in the world; we need only keep our eyes on Christ and do as he asks; we need only open ourselves to the miracles of the Spirit and follow.

God’s hope in us is so strong that Christ returns for us. How might we learn from this strength? Christ reconciles and guides us. And so must we heal and shepherd others. We need only bloom where we are planted, reap the harvest that God has sown.

God’s love for us is so infinite that the Spirit resides eternally in us. How might we return this love? By tending to the marginalized, the broken-hearted and the bereft, by entering into transformation, and inviting others to join us.

In the marvelous story of Job, his friend Bildad cannot believe that Job suffers innocently. He cannot fathom why God allows misfortune to befall one of the ardent faithful. “Does God mess up?” he asks. “Does God Almighty ever get things backward?” He encourages Job not to hang his life from one thin thread, not to hitch his fate to a spider web. Bildad sees Job’s misfortune as punishment, and so might we if we do not read closely. After consideration we understand that Job suffers precisely because God trusts him, believes in him, and loves him. God restores all that Job loses and more, and this is a gesture that Satan cannot understand in his narrow, stingy world. God trusts that Job will not turn away in desperation or fatigue, and this is an attitude that Satan cannot countenance from his pathetic, narrow perspective. God allows Job to choose between hope and desperation, and this is a love that Satan cannot comprehend with his tragic, empty heart.

If God is so willing to take Satan’s dare, so willing to trust humanity with the enormity of God’s infinite goodness and mercy, might we then be willing to follow Jesus? Might we be willing to open ourselves fully to the Spirit?

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Job_and_his_friends.jpg

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Acts 17: Uproar – Part II

Monday, May 15, 2023

E.O. WIlson

E.O. Wilson

Unhealthy competition brings about a kind of chaos in the sound; it becomes impossible to find inner peace and community serenity. How then, can we see God’s presence in the work of Paul, a former persecutor of Jesus’ followers? How then do we understand the kind of uproar that Jesus’ life and words so often engender?

Each time we stand up for the marginalized, we bring about God’s uproar. When bridges are built over chaos and disarray, when wounds are healed, when differences reconciled, we enter in God’s uproar.  Once we look carefully at the tumult around us, we begin to realize that there is a fine difference the chaos of darkness with its attendant prejudices, the transformation of God’s uproar.

When we become doers of the word and not hearers only, as St. James tells us in his letter, we call people out of their comfort zones.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we ask questions about our own treasure trove, as Matthew and Peter suggest we do, we also ask others to think about the value of the wealth they have amassed.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we meet and overcome our own fears and do what others are afraid to do, we cause God’s uproar.

When we live in true charity with one another to pray for our enemies, when we refuse to conform to corruption, we cause God’s uproar.

When we insist on being open to possibilities without giving in to abuse, we cause God’s uproar.

When we tell of the marvels that God has wrought in our own lives, when we insist on reminding ourselves and others of Christ’s good news, we cause God’s uproar.

wild-map-640Like Paul, when we enter a town and begin to tell the marvelous news that we do not have to retain the chains that imprison our bodies, minds and souls, we can expect pandemonium. It is up to us to examine the din and the tumult to discover its origin, and if the upheaval is God’s we only need persevere and hold tightly to our hope.  Sometimes, like Paul, we will move on to the next town or to the next situation; but always – even through the devastation of earthquakes and the violence of storms – we will be accompanied by Christ’s light . . . we will know that we have entered into God’s uproar, and that all will be well.

Consider God’s uproar and read the NY Times review of  Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life by O.E. Wilson, biologist. Wilson is professor emeritus at Harvard and the winner of two Pulitzer prizes. Or consider the Audubon Society’s perspective at: https://www.audubon.org/magazine/september-october-2015/eo-wilson-wants-us-leave-half-earth

Visit the EO Wilson Foundation, click on the images above for more information, or watch a PBS episode on Wilson’s bold proposal at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/how-to-save-life-on-earth-according-to-e-o-wilson/ 

Images from: https://theoutsidernews.com/articles/2016/03/28/finally-benchmark-preserving-biodiversity-%E2%80%93-half-earth and http://eowilsonfoundation.org/guest-blog-eo-wilsons-vision-for-protected-and-interconnected-wild-landscapes/

Adapted from a favorite written in September 28, 2009.

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Psalm 27: Fearless Trust

Monday, April 24, 2023

James Tissot: The Ark Passes Over the Jordan

The followers of Yahweh erected a tent to house the ark they created to hold their tangible remnants of their relationship with the Lord: stone tablets holding God’s ten pronouncements of the Mosaic Law, manna provided by the Lord during the Hebrews’ desert wanderings, and the staff that Aaron used to mystify Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt whom the enslaved people of God escaped. The Israelites replaced the tent with a glorious Temple to house the ark, sacred scrolls of God’s word to them. More than once this Temple was overrun, brought down, and reduced to rubble and a single, solemn wall of prayer. Today followers of Christ carry this tent, this Temple within; and it is in this sacred interior space that we find courage, hope, strength, faith, persistence, peace and joy. As we move through Eastertide, we bolster ourselves for the journey ahead as we continue our pilgrimage.

The New American Bible gives a wonderful title to these verses: A Psalm of Fearless Trust in God. We might benefit from the grace of this special prayer if we reflect carefully on its words as we pray them.

moses tabernacle

A depiction of the Moses Tent

When we are anxious or troubled, we recall . . .

The Lord is my light and my salvation;
    I will fear no one.
The Lord protects me from all danger;
    I will never be afraid.

When we are overwhelmed and distraught, we remind one another . . .  

Even if a whole army surrounds me,
    I will not be afraid;
even if enemies attack me,
    I will still trust God.

When we are lost or abandoned, we remember . . .

I have asked the Lord for one thing;
    one thing only do I want:
to live in the Lord’s house all my life,
    to marvel there at his goodness,
    and to ask for his guidance.

When all seems lost and dark, we remind one another . . .

In times of trouble God will shelter me;
    God will keep me safe in the Lord’s Temple
    and make me secure on a high rock.

When we are alone or bereft, we call out . . .

So I will triumph over my enemies around me.

    With shouts of joy I will offer sacrifices in his Temple;
    I will sing, I will praise the Lord.

Hear me, Lord, when I call to you!
    Be merciful and answer me!

When we falter, we encourage one another . . .

When you said, “Come worship me,”
I answered, “I will come, Lord.”

The Wailing Wall, Jerusalme today

The Western Wall of the Temple in Jerusalem today (The Wailing Wall)

When the world closes in and we find no exit from sorrow, we pray . . .

 Teach me, Lord, what you want me to do,
    and lead me along a safe path,
    because I have many enemies.

Don’t abandon me to my enemies,
    who attack me with lies and threats.

 When we are rescued, we rejoice . . .

I know that I will live to see

      the Lord‘s goodness in this present life.

Trust in the Lord.
    Have faith, do not despair.
Trust in the Lord.

woman-praying-darkWhen this present life seems as though there is no evidence of God’s presence, let us remember Christ’s temple of light and peace that we carry within.

Psalm 27, one of my favorites, has been set to music by many. As we pray today we might listen to the Shane and Shane rendition at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ndZsEDuCVAQ 

If there is time in the next several hours, enter the word TEMPLE into the blog search bar and consider how God’s plan has brought us from enslavement through the desert to a solid place where we rejoice and yet remains with us when great loss or great sorrow overtake us. It is God’s abiding love that brings us this fearless trust in the temple of God that remains within. When we reflect on these images or listen to these or other audios as we pray, we allow this fearless trust in God to rest in us today. Wishing all of you peace and joy on this day and all days.

Images from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/103864335130600859/ and https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:James_Jacques_Joseph_Tissot_-_The_Ark_Passes_Over_the_Jordan_-_Google_Art_Project.jpg and https://bible-history.com/jerusalem/jerusalem-temple and http://www.levitt.com/slideshow/s01p05 and http://www.answersfromscriptureonline.com/tag/praying-women/

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Ezekiel 48:35: The Lord is Here – Part I

Easter Friday, April 14. 2023

Michaelangelo: The Prophet Ezekiel (The Sistine Chapel, The Vatican)

Michelangelo: The Prophet Ezekiel (The Sistine Chapel, The Vatican)

We have looked at the book of Ezekiel perhaps a dozen times but today we focus on the last four words of this prophecy that describes the New Jerusalem in the New Kingdom:  The Lord is here.

Ezekiel’s prophecy tells us that there is hope after judgment.  The prophet, a priest who was carted away to Babylon with the early exiles, uses the sharp contrast between the destruction of the defiled earth-bound temple and the restoration of the purified divine temple – which we now understand through the New Testament story to be Jesus and then ultimately all of us as Jesus’ mystical body. Ezekiel also uses the beautiful imagery of the watchman calling in the darkness to announce the New Jerusalem, along with four visions and five parables.  His story is filled with symmetry, “hammering repetitions and . . . non-traditional prose”.  (ARCHEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE 1213) And all of this he does to get our attention, and to bring us to focus on the last words of his prophecy: The Lord is Here.  And we ask: where?

In the flurry of international, national and local news, we might well wonder, where is the Lord? In the rush of heavy schedules, hectic days and anxious nights, we might well ask, where is the Lord? In our private and public lives, in our bodies, hearts and minds, we feel the worries and hopes of a waiting world, and we might well voice the question, where is the Lord? And in each circumstance, in every life, Ezekiel reminds us with his compelling verses, the Lord is here.

When we spend time with this prophecy today, we have the opportunity to feel the presence of God as we remember and reflect . . . we are Easter People . . . and the Lord is among us.

Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/michelangelo/the-prophet-ezekiel-1510

Adapted from a Favorite written on September 15, 2007. 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1312. Print.

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Revelation 6: Cosmic Conflict

Easter Tuesday, April 11, 2023

EdwardVon Steinle: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

EdwardVon Steinle: The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse

We might well believe that we live in a world that is in cosmic conflict. Terrorist attacks, extreme politics, fanatic social movements might give us good reason to believe that “the end times” are near. We must exercise caution before reading the last book of the Bible without commentary lest we slip into a dualistic world of fundamentalism. This narrow view emphasizes the vision of universal struggle, and forgets the message of hope, trust, prudence, mercy and love that Jesus delivers. These verses must be read through the filter of unity and solidarity, hope and determination that Jesus brings to the world. Rather than relying on an apocalyptic eschatology in which God rescues the world and sets all wrongs right while we watch and observe, we are urged to delve into the ethical eschatology of joining with Christ to bring his message of love to all.

Commentary cautions us appropriately; it encourages us to take up the challenge of these remarkable verses. “It is useless to tease such poetry into a train schedule. The vision here is not one of history unfolding like clockwork; it is a religious vision of God’s ultimate conquest despite current appearances. Once the reader lets go of the obsessive ‘need to know’ that twists beauty into biorhythm charts, it is possible to wonder at the powerful poetic and religious imagination at work in these glorious images”. (Senior RG 575)

When we spend time with various versions of these verses today, we allow the gift of Christ’s wisdom and love to settle over us. We allow ourselves to become of God’s remarkable kingdom. And we allow the consolation of the Spirit to work through us to heal a waiting world.

Today we remember as we reflect . . . we are Easter People.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 575. Print. 

Image from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/82753711874400212/ 

To explore the imagery of the four horsemen of the apocalypse, read the commentary at: http://www.usccb.org/bible/revelation/6 



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Matthew 16:13-20: The Son of the Living God

Holy Wednesday, April 5, 2023who-do-you-say-i-am

A scandalous revelation. Blasphemy. A confession that asks us to lay down our ambitions.

Who do people say that I am?

What do we reply when we stand before the world?

Who do you say that I am?

What do we reply when we stand before the Lord?

You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the savior of the world.

Are we willing to stand before those who doubt or jeer? Are we willing to carry hope, peace and joy into the world?

We reflect on our willingness to act on what we say we believe. Musician Matt Maher presents a video reflection on what our ambitions might promise or condemn. Watch at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z5PHGRMHm8o

Image from: http://scpeanutgallery.com/2012/07/22/morning-reading-matthew-1615-16-nlt/

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Nehemiah 9: Confession – Part I

Friday, March 31, 2023

Vittorio Carpaccio: The Flight Into Egypt

As we prepare for the celebration of Easter, we return to some Christmastide meditations from 2011 and we reflect on how the Passion and Easter stories begin in a stable in Bethlehem. 

This is the perfect time of year to think about our relationship with God – this God who comes into our lives as one of us in such a humble way that his family must beg for shelter, and within days of the child’s delivery they must flee into exile. The Messiah’s family life is one of constant dichotomy and this is fitting for it reflects our own lives of surprises, disappointments, and promises both fulfilled and unfulfilled. Our days are a series of hills and valleys, of ups and downs that make us anxious and fearful – we wish everything to be settled and determined. These highs and lows show us our mortality and make us uncomfortable – we prefer a life in which we are in total control.

From the very beginning of Jesus’ story, we see his family’s split reality; they are welcomed and gifted by both shepherds and magi, and they are hunted by Herod’s soldiers.  (Matthew 2:1-18) In today’s Noontime we go back to the time when the people of Israel have come home to Jerusalem after exile. They too, live lives of dichotomy, lives full of fear and hope for they know that the nation’s disobedience and errant ways have separated them from God; yet they hope for a return to their special status before God.

Tomorrow, the Israelites, Ezra, flight, and return. 

Image from: https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.32.html

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Psalm 62: A Prayer of Trust in God Alone

Thursday, March 30, 2023

As we prepare for the celebration of Easter, we return to some Christmastide meditations from 2011 and we reflect on how the Passion and Easter stories begin in a stable in Bethlehem. 

Yesterday we reflected on Psalm 62; today we pray as we reflect . . .

Trust God at all times, my people!   Pour out your hearts to God our refuge!

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to voice all that we are as creatures of God.

God alone is my rock and salvation, my secure height; I shall never fall.

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to recall the temptations that lead us away from God.

They delight in lies; they bless with their mouths, and inwardly they curse. 

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to remember where we must focus our energies.

Though wealth increase, do not set your heart upon it.

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to think about how power and kindness relate to one another.

Power belongs to God; so too, Lord does kindness,

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to see where we might find full and lasting peace.

My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope.

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to acknowledge the difficulty life presents to us.

How long will you set upon people, all of you beating them down, as though they were a sagging fence or a battering wall?

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to recognize our proper relationship with God and others.

Mortals are a mere breath, the powerful but an illusion; on a balance they rise; together they are lighter than air.

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to tell God all that troubles us.

Pour out your hearts to God our refuge!

When we pray this psalm aloud we have the opportunity to call on God and to hear God’s words to us. Trust God at all times, my people!   Amen!

Image from: https://freerangestock.com/photos/139316/trust-concept-.html

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