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Third Sunday of Lent, March 7, 2021

forgivenessAmos 2

Oracles

Moab, Judah, Israel. Oracles of condemnation not only of enemies . . . but of Israel herself. Atrocities during wartime, horrible scenes of brutality beyond understanding, humanitarian abuses, corruption in places that are meant to be havens. All of these images are difficult to read and even more difficult to comprehend.

God says: You are far too eager to look for scapegoats and for places to place blame for the woes of the world. What I really ask is that you put violence aside and deal with one another lovingly, even as enemies. What good comes from harboring anger? What fruit is born from bitter seed sown in despair? What peace to do you find by dragging your worries along with you each day. It is no wonder that the night brings you no rest. Spend time with me. Speak to me frankly, openly and honestly. Tell me what is bothering you.  Tell me what stirs you. Tell me when you are ready to surrender to me. I wait – for an eternity – with forgiving, open, strong and loving arms.

Even the smallest gesture of goodness is a light in the darkness. God pulls good out of all harm. We must be patient enough to see it, humble enough to feel it, and bold enough to share our stories of conversion with those who still live in the shadows. As we move through our Lenten journey, let us decide to move away from condemnation and toward mercy and kindness.

Tomorrow, First Word.


Image from: http://doctorjenn.com/wordpress/tag/forgiveness/

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Friday, October 23, 2020

cc_jer29_11plant[1]Jeremiah 18:13-17

An Unnatural Apostasy

Therefore, thus says the Lord, “Ask among the nations – who has heard the like?”

God speaks to us of a behavior that has gone far away from the norm.

Truly horrible things has virgin Israel done!

We know this story – Israel has rejected her close relationship with God and has chosen to align herself with pagan gods.

Does the snow of Lebanon desert the rocky heights? Do the gushing waters dry up that flow fresh down the mountains? 

Israel’s actions are as unnatural as snow melting in freezing weather or rivers ceasing their journey through mountain valleys.

Yet my people have forgotten me: they burn incense to a thing that does not exist.

Israel abandons the covenant that has brought her out of Egypt and established her in fertile lands.

They stumble out of their ways, the paths of old, to travel on bypaths, not the beaten track. 

Israel goes against all advice and convention to insist on her own journey that is full of danger.

Their land shall be turned into a desert, an object of lasting ridicule: all passers-by will be amazed, will shake their heads. 

Those who do not remain faithful will find their lives arid; they will be embarrassed by their own actions once they have the opportunity to look back on what they have done.

Like the east wind, I will scatter them before their enemies; I will show them my back, not my face, in their day of disaster.

Old Testament thinking sees God as an angry, vengeful creator. New Testament experiences God through a messianic lens that perceives God as merciful and forgiving, beckoning and tending, guarding and guiding. New Testament thinking teaches us that we can trust the creator to care for us when we look for wisdom and peace. Messianic thinking places hope in the presence of the creator among us in human form. Messianic hope teaches us that no one is too lost, nothing is too disastrous and no obstacle is too impossible for our God who loves us dearly and well.

Jeremiah also brings us these words: For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe! Plans to give you a future full of hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

When we reflect on Israel’s unnatural turning away from so great a love, let us also consider our own relationship with God. Do we scatter before the east wind . . . or do we cleave to the source of all good and all hope? Do we bow to an unnatural apostasy . . . or do we remain as steady as the snows upon the high mountain tops . . . and rush down mountainsides with joy as we fall into God’s own hands?


Image from: http://www.crosscards.com/cards/scripture-cards/jeremiah-29-11-5.html

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Saturday, September 5, 2020

Jeremiah_33_3[1]Jeremiah 33

Promise

We visit the book of Jeremiah often in our Noontime reflections; it is a rich and complex prophecy. Jeremiah is so frank, honest, and open about his suffering. Chapter 33 is particularly lovely and holds much promise about healing after punishment.

This prophecy might prove difficult for those among us who are addicted to turmoil and conflict or to the control of others and our surroundings. Jeremiah speaks of reliance on God who loves dearly and intensely, tenderly and passionately. Through Jeremiah, God announces a desire for our own personal freedom so that we might freely choose to be in relationship with God. Whether we suffer or celebrate, God wants to dance in intimacy with us.

Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. This quiet instruction from God speaks of the closeness and confidence of our relationship. We have only to ask. God will answer. Like the faithful spouse.

Verse 9: Then Jerusalem shall be my joy, my praise, my glory, before all the nations of the earth, as they hear of all the good I will do among them.  They shall be in fear and trembling over all the peaceful benefits I will give her. The prophecy of Jeremiah is not only a faithful prediction of what will happen to King Zedekiah, to the city of Jerusalem and the kingdom of Israel, it is a foretelling of the Christ story and it is the story of our own ransom and redemption.

God wants only freedom for us so that we might have the option to choose to love and follow. Christ arrives to bring us this freedom from slavery and darkness. The Holy Spirit abides with us constantly, whispering this promise to us repeatedly.

When we seek freedom from all that haunts us, we only need turn to a forgiving and loving God. This is where real and lasting love lies. This is where eternal sustenance and strength lie. And this is where the undying and sure promise of God’s presence and movement in our lives will always lie. This is the freedom God willingly gives. God’s promise to us is this great. God’s love for us is this persistent and ever-lasting.


Adapted from reflections written on January 1, 2007 and April 28, 2010.

Image from: http://pastorblog.cumcdebary.org/?m=201208

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