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Posts Tagged ‘joy’


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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Friday, May 15, 2020

SF_LOGO1[1]Sirach 21

A Prayer for Steadfastness

In our Easter journey we have been exploring the idea that discipleship brings hidden gifts along with its difficulties and suffering.  We have been examining figures in the Old and New Testaments to see what we can learn from well know stories.  And we have been praying together to discern how we might better see the cross of discipleship as gift rather than burden.  Today we pray for steadfastness.

When we ask for God’s wisdom in understanding how we have found ourselves in discomfort . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we open ourselves to hear what we may learn from our uneasiness . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we are humble enough to learn something about God and ourselves through our suffering . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we step forward to volunteer our lives in service of Christ in his kingdom-building . . . we ask for steadfastness.

When we resolve to learn from the anxiety and pain we have experienced . . . we ask for steadfastness.

Jesus ben Sirach tells us that when we allow this steadfastness to permeate our lives, we will find ourselves among wise women and men rather than a troop of fools; and these wise ones will bolster us when we falter.  When we allow steadfastness to govern our lives, we will experience the joy of knowing that we are one with Christ.  This is the joy and gift of walking with Christ.  It is the gift of better knowing ourselves.  It is the gift of looking in a mirror openly and honestly without having to deceive ourselves about what we actually see.   It is the gift of our divinity in and through Christ.  And so for this gift of steadfastness we pray . . .

Dear Lord, you have planted in each of us our own gifts to share.  Help us to ready the soil of our lives, make us open to the life-giving rain of your wisdom.  Help us to be builders of your kingdom rather than hearers only of your Word.  Help us to listen, reflect and pray for your presence. Bring us the steadfastness and humility that we will need to nurture the growth of your Word in us so that we may offer these gifts back to you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 

Tomorrow, as we move toward Pentecost . . . Celebration in Assembly . . .


Image from: http://www.bgumc.net/?page_id=147

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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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Second Sunday of Easter, April 19, 2020

Jesus%20with%20the%20Disciples_discipleship[1]Matthew 13:16-17: Privilege

Discipleship work is the fulfillment of Old Testament covenant.  It is arduous and difficult work fueled by God’s promise to ancient peoples.

Discipleship work is the flourishing of the voices of the prophets.  It is expectant waiting rising from God’s promise to faithful servants.

Discipleship work is full of conflict.  It is all raw edges and bare emotion.  It is holding one’s self in and pouring one’s self out in the same crucible moment.

Discipleship work is full of power.  It is primal force reckoning with modern circumstances. It is the bowing to God’s omniscience and authority while loving God’s marginalized.

Discipleship work is chaotic and serene.  It is point counterpoint all in one graceful movement.  It is dire and blessed.  Dangerous and supremely secure.  It is human and divine.

dare-to-be-a-disciple-story-3-pic[1]Discipleship work is God’s work.  It is our sublime celebration of Easter.

Discipleship work is our full service to God’s humanity.  It is the highest of callings.

Discipleship is sorrow.

Discipleship is joy.

Discipleship is privilege.  Purely and simple.  Clearly and authentically.

Let us respond to God’s call to discipleship with readiness, zeal, and joy.


Tomorrow we will begin to reflect on the gifts we receive through our work as disciples.  We begin with Meekness.

For more reflections on our unique privilege of service to God, go to the blog search box and enter the words Disciple or Discipleship.

Images from: http://www.blakeandkaty.com/buckshot-discipleship and http://dna-21.org/

A re-post from April 19, 2013.

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Monday, March 2, 2020

Hosea 7 & 8: The Gomer Scale

fire_glory_whirlwind_over_lyford3[1]For much of this week we have spent time with Gomer and Hosea and today when we look closely we hear the warning that Israel will reap the whirlwind of destruction for her lack of fidelity.  We can always pause on our Lenten journey to examine ourselves to see where we stand on the “Gomer Scale”.

  • Do we walk away from problems to go in search of fresh grain with which to make new drink to dull our senses . . . or do we abide through friction and conflict?
  • Do we pull up our shallow roots to replant ourselves in the newest in-vogue panacea each time we run into an obstacle . . . or do we remain planted in firm soil to draw from our foundation to bear good fruit when we are challenged?
  • Do we lie on our beds or drape ourselves over couches to cry and lament our situation . . . or do we work through our grief so that it might transform and restore us?
  • Do we cast about for a new diversion to distract us from true self-examination when we have erred . . . or do we examine ourselves in open and honest light?
  • Do we build thick walls of arrogance and pride as our self-defense . . . or do we go to one we have wronged and ask forgiveness?
  • Do we mourn our loss of innocence . . . or do we see our trials as stones on the path of the Narrow Way which leads to truth and our own restoration by our maker?
  • Do we seek the flattering advice of false prophets and teachers . . . or do we go to one we have wounded and harmed to truly listen to his or her words?
  • Do we deaden our senses when we feel overwhelmed by emotion and confusion . . . or do we turn to our maker who knows and loves us best to ask what we should do?

Gomer refuses to reform, repent, repair and rebuild.  Hosea waits, abides, calls, and loves, ready to heal and restore.  If Gomer wishes to be more than a flat cake not turned over, a senseless and easily deceived dove, one whose strength the foreigners sap, then she must move toward the curing touch of God.  Only there will she find the true, deep, thrilling and lasting love which she seeks.  Gomer looks for instant pleasure which she can manipulate and control . . . without realizing that in so doing, she forfeits the only joy and happiness which satisfies.  Union with her spouse, her God.


Tomorrow . . . a prayer to return to love.

Yesterday’s and today’s Noontime was first written on October 8, 2007.  They were revised and posted as Favorites.

Image from: http://thegrenzian.blogspot.com/2012/11/whirlwind.html

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Saturday, January 4, 2020

Philippians 4:10-14: Strength for Everything

Timothy and Epaphroditus

Timothy and Epaphroditus

From the CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE footnotes: “Paul . . . here thanks the Philippians for their gift of money sent through Epaphroditus. Paul’s own policy was to be self-sufficient as a missionary, supporting himself by his own labor.  In spite of this reliance on self and on God to provide, Paul accepted gifts from the Philippians . . . as he does here now, in prison”.  (cf. Senior 317)

Paul sets out in his missionary zeal to earn his own wages as he travels through the Roman Empire telling the Good News to all. He suffers great deprivation and knows great bounty.  Where he had once thought only to support himself, he now – in his prison cell – fully realizes the secret to a life lived well: Not only do we depend on God the Creator, the Omnipotent, the Omniscient and All Knowing but we also depend on God present to us in and through others.  God of little surprises and sudden kindnesses.  God ever-present in the faithful who remain as remnant.  God providing power in our distress.  This is where we find strength for everything.

I rejoice greatly in the Lord that now at last you revived your concern for me.  Help us, Oh God of surprises, to be faithful to those with whom you have linked us.

You were, of course, concerned for me but lacked an opportunity.  Guide us, Oh God of small wonders and powerful miracles, to be watchful for any opportunity to do your work.

I have learned, in whatever situation I find myself, to be self-sufficient.  Remind us, Oh God who comes to us in the small Bethlehem Babe, that you came to humanity as a vulnerable child.

I know how to live in humble circumstances; I know also how to live in abundance.  Show us, Oh God who was born in a stable, that the material goods we seek are dust in our hands.

In every circumstance and in all things I have learned the secret of being well fed and of going hungry, of living in abundance and of being in need.  Call us, Oh God who dwells in each of us, to fully know and express the great secret you teach us through tribulation and joy.

I have strength for everything through him who empowers me.  Tell us once again, Oh God who never falters, that our limitations become power when we live in you.

It was kind of you to share in my distress.  Confirm for us, Oh God who never abandons the sheep of his kingdom, that you bring us liberation even in our deepest suffering.

And so we pray . . . Oh God of our dreaming and our waking, help us to balance the good and the bad, the sorrow and the joy, the pain and the elation.  Abide in us all days and all nights, through our comings and goings, during our encampments and our wanderings, as we experience need and revel in plenty.  Show us how to traverse the hills and valleys, how to endure the deserts and the wastelands, how to undergo deprivation and how to delight in bounty.  Remind us to rejoice greatly in you always for you are never far, you are forever constant, and you are eternally present to us . . . even though we see you but darkly.  We rely on you to bring us strength for everything both in our distress and in our gladness.  We ask all of this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 


A re-post from December 30, 2012.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.317. Print.

To reflect a bit more on Chapter 4 of Philippians, enter the words Cause for Joy into the blog search bar and explore.

To hear a sermon on Model Servants, go to http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/50-26/Model-Spiritual-Servants-Part-3-Epaphroditus

To spend time reflecting on how Timothy and Epaphroditus are Models of Faith, click on the image above or go to: http://biblicaljoy.wordpress.com/2010/10/29/week-29-timothy-and-epaphroditus/

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Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Numbers 6:22-27: God’s Smile

Gods-Smile[1]The Lord bless you and keep you!

The Lord let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!

The Lord upon you kindly and give you peace!

“The three lines of the blessing ask God to take care of his people, to reveal himself to them, and grant them peace.  In Hebrew, the expression ‘let his face shine’ corresponds to our word ‘smile’.  To ask the Lord to let his face shine upon us means to see God happy.  God’s divine pleasure and contentment come because God is in relationship with us.  Even though God does not need our companionship, God is happy to freely choose a relationship with us.

“The Hebrew word for ‘peace’ (shalom) includes not only a sense of serenity, but also happiness and prosperity.  The peace that comes from God reaches into all areas of our life and leads us to experience the contentment that comes from living our life in God”. (Ehle and Ralph 36)

As we begin this New Year let us pray.

Let us acknowledge God’s desire to be on relationship with God’s people.  Amen.

Let us be open to God’s serenity and let us share God’s contentment with others. Amen.

Let us graciously accept God’s prosperity no matter how or when it comes upon us.  Amen.

Let us recognize God’s contentment with us even when we feel separated from God and others.  Amen.

Let us offer this blessing today and all days to our family, friends, neighbors, and even our enemies.  Amen.

May we know God’s joy in us, feel God’s presence in us, and bring God’s smiling happiness to the dark places in the world.  Amen.

Wishing all a peace-filled 2019!


Ehle, Mary A., and Margaret Nutting Ralph. Workbook for Lectors, Gospel Readers and Proclaimers of the Word. 2013 Year C. Chicago, Illinois: Liturgy Training Publications, 2012. 36. Print.

For a posting on miracles, hope, and affirmation of God’s smiling presence in our lives, click on the image above or go to: http://blog.beliefnet.com/haveamagnificentday/2012/05/miracles-do-happen.html

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Psalm 90: God’s Eternity, Our Frailty

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

As we close another year and look forward to the new, let us reflect on the promise of Christmas, and all that it holds for us. 

joy[1]Some of the images in this psalm may be ones we do not like to think about.  Who among us likes to be reminded of our shortcomings?  And who likes the imagery of such a wrath-filled God?  I heard a sermon once about God’s jealousy about us.  The speaker referred to this psalm and likened God to a lover who has just found out about the partner’s infidelity.

In the old Latin liturgical calendar, we celebrate Gaudete Sunday, a time when joy leaps out of the readings in anticipation of the coming of Christ.  Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10, Psalm 146, James 5:7-20 and Matthew 11:2-11, in each of these citations we find reason to rejoice.  The true king is arriving soon.  This king heals, protects, guides and secures.  This king loves in a way we do not see in the Old Testament.  This king fulfills the promises of old.  This king is devoted to his people, this king is Christ.

I am always amazed when I see human beings lust after immortality when they have this gift in their hands constantly yet do not see it.  I have watched people destroy others as they scramble to the top of an illusory mountain to grab earth-bound fame.  What matters a name on a concrete wall when our very being may instead be part of God’s own fabric?  What is it we miss about ourselves that lures away from the promise we already hold and that has already been fulfilled, to turn to the emptiness of a plaque, a statue, or a commemorative dinner?  What holds us so spellbound may be our belief in ourselves rather than a belief in God.  Only each of us can judge what makes us so frail in this way.

Matthew 11:11 may startle us.  We may not have understood just how much God really loves us unless we allow the full impact of these words rest in us.  Do we have the potential to be greater even than John the Baptist?  If our answer is no, then we may not have fully understood how much a gift each of us is to God’s creation and God’s plan.  We may not have fully understood just how much we are loved.  If our answer is yes, then we understand the passion expressed in today’s Noontime for when we read this psalm, we see how much God seethes with emotion when we turn away.  And we can also see just how much we are loved.   So let us make a conscious decision today, on this Sunday of Joy, to put aside our frailty and return this divine love.  Return it with full, unwavering and never-dying passion.

And we may be surprised to find what we receive in return; yet, if we have been watching we already know what this gift is.  It is the gift announced by John the Baptist. It is God’s full, passionate, unwavering and never-dying love . . . and with this comes the gift that wipes out our human frailty forever.  The gift to us is the gift of God’s eternity.


First written on December 12, 2010. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.npnaz.org/

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Thistledown

Wisdom 4:20 & 5: Hope

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

These verses – actually beginning with the last verse of Chapter 4 – give us reflections of the wicked concerning the fate of the faithful.  Here is an answer to all of the times the psalmist laments: Why do we suffer and the wicked get away with murder?  Today we have the answer to so much questioning.  The faithful will rest in peace after struggling so long in the temporal world.  This chapter is a balancing counterpoint to chapters three and four: The Hidden Counsels of God.

So much about God is mystery.  Perhaps this is why we like this time of year with lights twinkling in the darkness, carols piercing cold air, our breath forming vapor as we step into the early morning crispness.

Over the week end my grandchildren and I watched one of their favorite movies, Babe, about a pig that becomes a sheepdog.  The story takes place in New Zealand and so Christmas is celebrated in the dead of summer; yet the farmer places a Christmas tree atop his house and the family gathers in the warm weather to exchange presents.  The grandchildren and I had a lively conversation about what we would and would not like about having Christmas in July.  At first it was winter that seemed more appropriate because it is the time when we are hunkered in and hunkered down, waiting for life to begin.  On the other hand, the coming of Light and Truth into the world coincides with the full and open days of summer, jammed with activities that distract us.  When do we need Christ more?  The answer is likely: all of the time.

We also spent time – as we always do when we watch this film – reflecting on the faith and doubt of the farmer and his wife about the pig and themselves.  We spoke again about the relationships between generations.  And, of course, we spoke about the incredible idea that a pig might win a sheep herding tourney.  We have sat in the bleachers at the Harford County Farm Fair and watched these dogs work a flock of sheep.  We have also watched pig races, horse sled pulls and other animal trials.  The children – and I – are impressed by the competency of this Hollywood pig.  And we are all rewarded by the cheers of the crowd when Babe brings the final sheep configuration home.  These were the same people who had jeered moments before.  Yes, the hope of the wicked is like thistledown borne on the wind . . .

When we are confronted with sneering laughter we need only focus on the potential within and wear the Lord as our armor (verses 16-19).  For when we put on Christ as recommended by Paul in Ephesians 6, we have no need of any other thing for the just live forever, and in the Lord is their recompense. 

This is one of the times in the liturgical year when we hear the theme of the rejected cornerstone.  It gives us the opportunity to think about surprises . . . and about unusual possibilities like Christmas in July . . . pigs that can herd sheep . . . cornerstones that no one recognizes.  It is the time of year to think about arming ourselves with Light and Joy . . . Peace and Hope . . . about wearing the Lord as we set forth each day . . . about being Christ in a turbulent world.


Written on December 1, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://catholicsensibility.wordpress.com/2010/03/page/4/

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