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Posts Tagged ‘inversion’


1 Corinthians 1:26-31: Consider the Call

Sunday, February 5, 20171corinthians1_31

We know that we are called by God to build the kingdom with deeds that come from an open heart.

Now remember what you were, my friends, when God called you. (GNT)

We are called to be the foolish who show the way to the world’s wise.

Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. (NRSV)

We are called to be the weak who shame the strong.

Just look at yourselves, brothers — look at those whom God has called! Not many of you are wise by the world’s standards, not many wield power or boast noble birth. (CJB)

We are called to count for nothing to call those who count for something in this world.

Take a good look, friends, at who you were when you got called into this life. I don’t see many of “the brightest and the best” among you, not many influential, not many from high-society families. (MSG)

We are called to be the lowly to call the powerful.

We are called to boast in God’s call to the inverted kingdom that Jesus comes to establish. Today we give thanks for this call.

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Isaiah 10: Social Injustice

Thursday, January 26, 2017 social-injustice

As we conclude our look at God’s inverted kingdom, we consider a Favorite from June 10, 2009, and we reflect on how Jesus might deal with the social injustice we find in our societies.

Isaiah 10 is book-ended by words that we hear so often during the Advent season: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom.  These words remind us that someone is coming great enough to take all of us in . . . and indeed, this one is already among us.  Today’s Noontime reminds us of what pulls us away from God and it draws clear imagery with Assyria and Sennacherib as vehicles not only of pain and loss, but ultimate transformation . . . if we but follow the Light, the Christ.  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom. 

Isaiah tells us clearly that when we trust the Lord we need not tremble before overwhelming odds.  If we move out of the darkness to stand in the light and obey the voice within, we have nothing to fear.  Do not fear the Assyrian, though he strikes you with a rod, and raises his staff against you. 

Isaiah reminds us that though we are small, we are also mighty . . . when we place our fear where it is best handled, in God’s capable hands.  The tall of stature are felled, and the lofty ones brought low; the forest thickets are felled with the ax. 

Isaiah repeats a theme often heard with the prophets: those who can remain faithful through the holocaust will be standing when all others have blown away like chaff in the wind.  The remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob, will no more lean upon him who struck them; but they will lean upon the Lord . . . a remnant will return . . . only a remnant will return.

Allowing injustice to happen without speaking or witnessing is the broad path taken by many; but it is not the marrow path taken by the remnant.  As Jesus tells us in Matthew (7:3) and Luke (13:24), most of us will succumb to a system that allows injustice for many the sake of the comfort of a few.  This remnant that remains in God will have to bend before the force of the storm, but all of this bending will be worthwhile.  This is the message that Isaiah brings to us: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom. 

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Jeremiah 52: The Inverted Kingdom – Part XIII

Monday, January 23, 2017

Jewish captives with camel and baggage on their way into exile. Detail of the Assyrian conquest of the Jewish fortified town of Lachish (battle 701 BCE) Part of a relief from the palace of Sennacherib at Niniveh, Mesopotamia (Iraq)

Jewish captives with camel and baggage on their way into exile. Detail of the Assyrian conquest of the Jewish fortified town of Lachish (battle 701 BCE) Part of a relief from the palace of Sennacherib at Niniveh, Mesopotamia (Iraq)

Capture

Thus was Judah exiled from her land . . .

In this last Chapter of Jeremiah’s prophecy, we see the capture of mind, soul and body that results from enduring neglect and refusal to do what God asks of us.  And we understand that we cannot sustain life when we practice this kind of internal death. We may want to renew ourselves with solutions we think palatable and we may believe that we know the best way to bring goodness out of evil, but we are children playing at being grown up when we prefer our ways to God’s.

Yesterday’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer included a canticle from Isaiah (35:2-4, 8-10):  [The faithful] will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God.  Strengthen the hands that are feeble, make firm the knees that are weak, say to those whose hearts are frightened: Be strong, fear not!  Here is your God, he comes with vindication; with divine recompense he comes to save you.  A highway will be there, called the holy way; no one unclean may pass over it.  No lion will be there, nor beast of prey go up to be met on it.  It is for those with a journey to make, and on it the redeemed will walk.  Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy; they will meet with joy and gladness, sorrow and mourning will flee.

We have a simple lesson here about how to live in a world that constantly runs counter to what the Lord asks of us.  The people of Judah are vanquished, their leaders captured, their possessions taken.  They become disenfranchised from all that identifies them.  They are slaves to another culture.  This capture is seen as something bleak and stark, a life without promise; but Isaiah reminds them that – as with all things involving the Living God – what appears to be loss is gain, and what seems to be gain is loss.  It is precisely when all that we have and know is taken from us that we are given the opportunity to turn to the font of life.  When we are and have little or nothing, there is only God.

Isaiah tells us that in this new life into which we have stepped  there is not darkness but rather light.  God will announce himself with reversals; and a Way will open up before us that we will only see once we have replaced our pride with humility and our desire to be independent from God with a desire to be one with him.  Nothing can threaten us when we walk along this Way for it is holy, and once we throw off the values that the darkness of the world has to offer, we will be holy, too.  Our step will be quick, our burden light for we will be carried by God.  We will also understand that we have a journey to make, a journey of redemption itself.

We, the ransomed, travel not toward the very one who has ransomed us . . . but with him.  During Advent and the Christmastide we heard Isaiah’s prophecy read out in which the prophet announces The One who is The Way.  We have revisited the results of capture and the road beyond that imprisonment. Today we Christ followers know our savior’s name as Jesus.  The ancient Judeans could only dream about Christ’s coming.  How fortunate are we to travel this highway with him.

Tomorrow, beyond the highway of capture.

Adapted from a reflection written on June 4, 2011.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.6 (2011). Print.

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Matthew 5:3: The Inverted Kingdom – Part I

Wednesday, January 11, 2017poor-in-spirit

We have heard the words, “Do not fear”. We have struggled to recognize the Christ who accompanies us always. For the next few days we will reflect on the structure of society Jesus proposes when he asks us to forego power and wealth, pleasure and honor. We think through the new Law of Love that supersedes the old Mosaic Law. And we spend a bit of time considering the inverted nature of God’s Kingdom.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NSRV)

This vision of the world sees the broken-hearted as close to God.

Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! (GNT)

This picture of the world sees the broken-hearted as central to God’s design.

Those people who know they have great spiritual needs are happy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. (ICB)

This view of the world sees the wealth as non-essential in God’s plan.

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. (MSG)

This picture of the world sees wealth as a barrier to intimacy with God.

The Gospels show us how God’s Word walks among the poor in spirit. They show us that Jesus makes a choice to dwell with the lame, the mourning, the betrayed and the ignored. They show us that the Spirit is always hovering along the margins of society, rather than with those who hold great amounts of wealth.

How do we see ourselves as fitting into God’s designs and plans?

When we compare varying versions of this verse, we open ourselves to the joy of living in poverty with Jesus and the millions of poor who people the earth. 

For more on Jesus’ teaching and experience on poverty, click on the image above or  visit: http://stevesbasics.blogspot.com/2013/11/blessed-are-poor-in-spirit.html

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1 Corinthians 3: Becoming God’s Fool

Friday, December 9, 2016build-on-christ

This week we explore how to put our love on the line just as the Creator does by abiding with us, just as Jesus does as he shows us The Way, and just as the Spirit does as she comforts and remains in us.

Paul tells the people of Corinth – and he tells us – that we are not separate islands looking out for our own interests; rather, we are all interconnected and dependent on one another.

You are God’s house. Using the gift God gave [us], . . . let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. (MSG)

Paul tells the people of Corinth – and he tells us – that we are all holy members of God’s sacred temple, standing on Christ and rising in the Spirit.

Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing. If your work passes inspection, fine; if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive – but just barely. (MSG)

Paul tells the people of Corinth – and he tells us – that we are all held to account by a loving and compassionate parent. We are all asked to change. We are all asked to live on the margins. We are all asked to love as Jesus loves.

Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool – that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. (MSG)

Paul tells the people of Corinth – and he tells us – that inversion takes control in God’s plan. When we want to be wise, we must put aside our own ego, empty our hearts and minds, and allow the Spirit to dwell within. And it is in this special way that we might more easily learn to put our love on the line for the Architect, the Builder, and the Artist.

When we explore various translations of these verses, we discover that becoming God’s fool gives us the perfect strategy to put our love on the line.

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Luke 6:27-36: Loving Others – Part III

Thursday, November 24, 2016a-revolutionary-kind-of-love-luke-62736-1-638

To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. (MSG)

This thinking is so different from: “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth”.

When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it.  (MSG)

This thinking causes us to look at old hatreds with new insight.

If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. (MSG)

For millennia God has protected us, Jesus has told shown us The Way, and the Spirit has healed and consoled us. Today all three speak to us through the words that Luke records.

Here is a simple rule of thumb for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you; then grab the initiative and do it for them! (MSG)

For millennia Jesus has turned the world upside down, telling us that we live when we die, and we fill up when we empty ourselves. Today Jesus describes for us in detail how to live our lives as his disciples.

If you only help those who help you, do you expect a medal? Garden-variety sinners do that. If you only give for what you hope to get out of it, do you think that’s charity? The stingiest of pawnbrokers does that. (MSG)

This thinking is the inversion of: “When someone hits me, I hit them ten times harder”. This thinking requires the building of bridges rather than walls. It asks for humility and understanding rather than ego and power.

I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. (MSG)

This thinking is Kingdom thinking. This thinking is timeless and universal, applying to all occasions and to all persons. This thinking brings eternal redemption. And it lies open and ready for our own adoption.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these words as translated differently from THE MESSAGE, we begin to understand that Jesus gives us sound advice; we begin to recognize that Jesus’ request brings us closer to him in every way; and we begin to find a way to love those who have done us such damage.

 

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Part III

Thursday, October 27, 2016sword-of-the-spirit2

This Noontime is adapted from a Favorite written on November 11, 2008.

In spiritual warfare we need not connive, we need not plot.  We need only do what we know is right, understanding that we are graced by God.  We need to avoid thinking that we are in control, knowing that God’s plan is always better than our own.  We need to give over everything to God, believing that God turns all harm to good, even – and especially – the ultimate resolution of all conflict.

We are foot soldiers in spiritual warfare, and we know our orders.  We must be patient in our perseverance as we grow to become God’s harvest in God’s time.  We must speak, pray, study, witness, watch and wait.  We must be ready.  This is all that is required of us.  We do not know the hour or time of this warfare’s end; but we know the outcome.  This we have been promised.   This we have been told.  Let us pass the word along . . . that in the hour when we feel most abandoned, we are most accompanied.  That in the hour when we believe all is lost . . . all is truly found.

And so we pray.

My God, my God, why have you abandoned us? We have cried desperately for help, but still it does not come. During the day we call to you, our God, but you do not answer; we call at night, but get no rest.

In the dark hours when we anticipate a resolution for our own plan, we worry that God has disappeared, or perhaps does not exist at all. In the burdensome days we keep watch for any sign that God is near.

It was God who brought us safely through birth, and when we were babies, God kept us safe. We have relied on God since the day we were born, and the LORD have always been our God.

Yet when we consider all that God has done for us, we cannot help but give voice to the hope that rests within, waiting to bloom into fullness.

Our strength is gone, gone like water spilled on the ground. All our bones can be seen. Our enemies look at us and stare.

And when we allow our faith to support us, we cannot help but rise from the ash of all we leave behind into a new dawn and new day, growing in newness.

We will tell our people what God have done; we will praise God in their assembly. We will praise God for all that God has have done. We will offer the sacrifices we have promised.

And when we respond with persistent love, we cannot help but take hold of the promise we already rest in, relying on God’s bounty, relying on God’s boldness, relying on God’s peace. Amen.

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Part II

Tuesday, September 6, 2016ephesians 6

Yesterday’s and today’s Noontimes are adapted from a reflection written on Armistice Day, November 11, 2008.

All the ends of the earth will worship the Lord; all the families of nations will bow down to you.

In this end which we see but whose time we cannot predict, God is all there is.  The war of life will have been waged and won by God.  Any influence of evil will disappear.  This we have been promised.

I will live for the Lord; my descendants will serve you.  The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you brought.

When miracles happen, we must proclaim them, thanking God.  We must sing God’s praise continually for our blessings great and small because in spiritual warfare the fall of darkness and deceit is brought about in an accumulation of these small songs intone grand chorus.  We also remember that the tiniest of miracles is significant for those to whom they have been granted . . . and that these miracles are a sign of God’s continual presence in our lives.

In spiritual warfare we need not connive, we need not plot.  We need only do what we know is right, understanding that we are graced by God.  We need to avoid thinking that we are in control, knowing that God’s plan is always better than our own.  We need to give over everything to God, believing that God turns all harm to good, even – and especially – the ultimate resolution of all conflict.

We are foot soldiers in spiritual warfare, and we know our orders.  We must be patient in our perseverance as we grow to become God’s harvest in God’s time.  We must speak, pray, study, witness, watch and wait.  We must be ready.  This is all that is required of us.  We do not know the hour or time of this warfare’s end; but we know the outcome.  This we have been promised.   This we have been told.  Let us pass the word along . . . that in the hour when we feel most abandoned, we are most accompanied.  That in the hour when we believe all is lost . . . all is truly found.

Tomorrow, a prayer for spiritual warfare.

For a Bible Study on Ephesians 6, click on the image above, or visit: http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/spiritual-warfare-lesson-1-understanding-the-battle-11554631.html 

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1 Corinthians 1:18-27: God’s Foolish Message

Tuesday, May 3, 2016bible-verses-about-weakness

Today’s reading is designed to astonish us. Paul writes: God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to shame the strong. Reading other versions might give us further insight to the inversion God uses in relating with creation.

God says: When you look for things in your life to be sensible and logical you may miss their reason for existing. Indeed, you may miss their very essence. When observing the world, consider whose value complex you use as a measuring stick. Is it yours? Or is it mine? You see where Jesus spent his time, do you not? When he saw that the scribes and Pharisees were not open to his truth, he instructed them and then moved on, shaking their dust from his sandals.

Yardstick-500x375Then he returned to the lost sheep who need his healing and guidance. Jesus lives with the shunned, the lonely, the rejected and abandoned. Can you see why my servant Paul describes my kingdom as inverted? All that is powerful in the world is nothing to me. Rather, I prefer to abide with those who live in pain. My mercy is great enough, long-lasting enough and deep enough to heal all the injustices of the multiverse. And despite this enormity, I see you as precious and as worthy of my love. Remember this today when you are the last. Remember this today when you are the lowest. Remember this today when you are weak and sad. Remember this today and always. My love for you is never-ending and mighty. This is my foolish message that I send to you today.

Use the blog search bar to explore the God’s Yardstick posts. Use the scripture link to compare other versions of these verses.

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