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Posts Tagged ‘justice’


Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part I

Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017

For a week, we have traveled the road to Emmaus, Jesus at our side as we look for joy. Like the disciples, we may be immersed in our sorrow, and we may not know that joy walks with us. Today the prophet Zephaniah tells us that we must de-create before we can renew the image of God we bring to the world. In this holiest of weeks, we pledge to remain faithful to Christ who guides us. We persist in stepping into the world embodying the love the Spirit nurtures in us. And we promise to remain in Christ as the hope-filled remnant of God.

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

The prophet Zephaniah lived in a time when many Jews had returned to polytheism.  Here we have a description of how Yahweh will undo his beautiful creation which has been profaned.  He will even take a lamp and search the nooks and crannies of Jerusalem’s streets in order to find the last of the unfaithful.  Thank goodness we hear at the end of this prophecy that a remnant of the faithful will remain, but in this first chapter, there is nothing happy to hear.

How painful it must be for God to watch as we de-construct what is given to us in love.  Not only do we abuse the wondrous gift of Nature and Mother Earth, but we abuse one another and ourselves as well.  What do we do when we discover that we are in relationships that pollute our thinking and our hearts?

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

First, we turn to the one who created us and who knows us so well.  We turn and return to God.  Then, we pray and we act.  We pray for the personal strength to see us through the trials that lie in our path.  We pray for those who wreck damage on themselves and others.  We ask for forgiveness, both personal and communal.  We practice justice and compassion as best we can, wherever we can. And we ask for the gift of forgiveness and healing for the world.

On this Palm Sunday, let us follow the steps of the Master Teacher; and let us be Remnant for God.

Adapted from a Favorite written on Palm Sunday, March 16, 2008.

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Isaiah 30:18-36: The Lord’s Favor

Friday, March 10, 2017iching_graphic

The Lord is waiting to show you favor . . .

During Lent we so often beat ourselves up, tossing around guilt in an effort to expiate our activity or inactivity in God’s plan.  In a Bible Concordance, the word favor is cited too often to analyze quickly but the enormity of the number of times we see its use tells us something about our creator.

The Lord is waiting to show you favor . . .

Those who give are so often wrapped in giving to others, they forget to be the recipient of gifts from others.

Those who advocate are so frequently caught up in the work of justice, they become accustomed to life always being a struggle.

Those who are frequent recipients of favor from God and others, they may take it as a given, as a requisite to measure the worth of a day, as an entitlement.

The Lord is waiting to show you favor . . .

Perhaps the favors we seek are before us at all times, and the miracle occurs when we truly open our eyes to see them.

Perhaps the words we long to hear are being said but are lost in the cacophony of life.

The Lord is waiting to show you favor . . . He will be gracious to you when you cry out, as soon as he hears he will answer you . . . No longer will your Teacher hide himself, but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher, while from behind a voice shall sound in your ears: ‘This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right or left.

There is a tag hanging on the doorknob of the workroom in my classroom that reads: When the student is ready, the master appears.  I first read this a number of years ago in the I Ching and was happy to find this tag in a shop while vacationing with my children and grandchildren at the ocean.  I love to put my hand on that door – the door behind which we store tests, make coffee, have quiet chats.

The Lord is waiting to show you favor . . .

Perhaps all we need to do during this Lenten season is to store away our tests, make coffee . . . and rest in the friendship of God and one another.

The Lord is waiting to show you favor . . .

A Favorite from February 26, 2009.

For more on the I Ching, visit: http://www.iging.com/intro/introduc.htm 

 

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Romans 14:17-19: Righteousness, Peace and Joy

Thursday, March 9, 2017

gavel

We worry about what we are to wear, where we are to go, how we are to act. Jesus reminds us that these are not the concerns of one who rests beside the cornerstone. Righteousness, peace and joy. These are the concerns of those who unite in kingdom building.

For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (NRSV)

The cares of the world are not the cares of God’s kingdom. Those on the margin, the abandoned, the abused, and the neglected, these are the citizens who populate Christ’s kingdom.

The one who thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and has human approval. (NRSV)

Healing, consolation, solace and generosity. These are the transformative gifts we receive from the Holy Spirit.

Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding. (NRSV)

joyRighteousness, peace and joy. Harmony, reconciliation and delight. How do we serve God’s justice in our world? How do we follow Christ in reunion? How do we share gladness in the Spirit of the LORD?

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these verses, we take the opportunity to examine our own lives.

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Psalm 112: Rising in the Darkness

Monday, February 13, 2017candles

Whether we know it or, once we commit to loving God as we see God in others, we begin to generate light in the darkness.

Those who love the LORD rise in the darkness as a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.

We may be unaware that others are watching us but they are. When we say that are committed to Christ, do our actions betray or support our words?

It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice.

If we hope to make a mark in human history, all we need do is follow Christ. In this way we will find ourselves in the story of hope and generosity rather than the story of fear and exclusion.

For the righteous will never be moved; they will be remembered forever.

Once we begin to think and move in Christ, all fear falls away for we know that we are not in charge and that the long arc of human history is moving toward the light of Christ.

They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in the Lord.

lightWhen we feel ourselves moving in that great tide of humanity that yearns for universal justice, impartial freedom and eternal peace, we will know that all is well.

Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.

The honor we seek is not the reward of this life; it is the quiet, humble, everlasting honor that Christ bestows when we follow after him.

They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor; their righteousness endures forever; they are exalted in honor.

We cannot think that our progress is smooth for the way of discipleship is difficult in the best of circumstances.

The wicked see it and are angry; they gnash their teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked comes to nothing.

And we must remember that in our gladness of living and loving in Christ, we are called to invite all those who weary from their journey of opposition, mistrust, and manipulation to join in this great generation of life and light and love.

Those who love the LORD rise in the darkness as a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.

candles-burningWe give thanks for the times when are the light. We ask forgiveness for the times we have brought darkness to others and ourselves. And we remember to look for the face of Christ in every soul that passes our way.

When we spend time with various translations of this psalm, we find that our hearts are lighter, our path more easily seen and trod, and our journey more full of peace.

 

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Micah 1:3: Behold the Lord

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Michelangelo: The Prophet Micah

Michelangelo: The Prophet Micah

In this final week of Advent, let us decide to make our hopes tangible, our dreams a prayer for our reality, our faith unwavering and our love secure. Let us cleave to the Creator, follow the Redeemer and rest in the Spirit. This week let us give one another the gift of preparing for the very real promise of eternity.

The prophets tell us that the Lord is about to move among us.

For lo, the Lord is coming out of his place, and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth. (NRSV)

The prophecy describes how God wants to be one of us.

The Lord is coming from his holy place; he will come down and walk on the tops of the mountains. (GNT)

These verses remind us that we receive the gift of holiness through God’s invitation of unity in our diversity.

For — look! —Adonai is coming out of his place, coming down to tread on the high places of the land. (CJB)

micah-6-8The prophets call us to rejoice in our gladness by acting in meekness and integrity, and by living in love.

Look, here he comes! God, from his place!
    He comes down and strides across mountains and hills.
Mountains sink under his feet,
    valleys split apart;
The rock mountains crumble into gravel,
    the river valleys leak like sieves. (MSG)

Behold, the Lord comes to walk among us with peace and joy. The Lord calls us to humility, justice and love.

When we explore other translations of this prophecy, we discover the gift of love we already hold.

 

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Proverbs 28: Virtues

Saturday, November 5, 2016proverbs-28

A Favorite from October 31, 2009.

Surety, Prudence, Integrity, Wisdom, Generosity, Truth, Justice

The wicked man flees although no one pursues him; but the just man, like a lion, feels sure of himself.

When we create monsters out of nothing we give in to our human fears.

If a land is rebellious, its princes will be many; but with a prudent man it knows security. 

Our rashness can divide us more than it unites us.

Better a poor man who walks in integrity than he who is crooked in his ways and rich.

Power and treasure appear to be safe havens; yet they crumble to corruption and cannot withstand the simplicity of truth and honesty.

He who rebukes a man gets more thanks in the end than one with a flattering tongue.

The truth always comes out in the end . . . and is precious.

virtueHappy the man who is always on his guard; but he who hardens his heart will fall into evil.

Prudence is necessary; hardness is our downfall.

The greedy man stirs up disputes, but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.

Generosity is a sign of a trusting heart.

He who trusts in himself is a fool, but he who walks in wisdom is safe.

Patience and stillness bring their just rewards.

When the wicked gain pre-eminence, other men hide; but at their fall the just flourish. 

In the end, God alone is enough . . .

Words to live by; virtues to cherish; axioms to settle the mind; and maxims to sooth the heart.

When we compare translations of these verses, we allow God’s wisdom to enter our hearts. 

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1 Maccabees 8: Peace

Monday, October 10, 2016

Gladiators in the time of Pax Romana

Gladiators in the time of Pax Romana

Adapted from a Favorite written on February 15, 2009.

Some of us are expert at allowing the charade of peace to play out for a lifetime.  We smile stiffly and turn a blind eye to a friend or family member who revels in behavior which the world sees as unhealthy.  We have become adept at turning away conveniently when someone in power acts in abusive and addictive ways.  If we did not actually see the behavior, we tell ourselves, it is not there.  We somehow delude ourselves into thinking that the power plays acted out between others will never be turned on us, and for that reason we sink to stroking the abuser rather than rebuking the act.

The symbols of Jewish worship carried off by conquerors

The instruments of Jewish worship are carried off by conquerors.

The Maccabees sought to create an atmosphere in which they might worship God freely; but they were unable to see that the power they thought might protect them would, in the end, turn in on them.  They, like so many of us, believed that a haven might be created if they might just keep peace rather than try to make peace, if they might just settle for what they could get rather than petition God for what the world deserves: justice, mercy and compassion.

peaceGod’s love is the only peace worth seeking.  It is the only peace that lasts.  It is the only peace that heals, transforms and redeems.  When we seek love, are we willing to settle for what makes us comfortable?  Or are we willing to accept nothing less than the pure truth, honesty and constancy that bring lasting serenity?  This choice is always ours to make.  To whom do we send our ambassadors?  Whose voice do we wait to hear whisper in the desperate hour of the darkest night?  Whose face do we long to see?  Whose touch do we yearn to feel?  Whose love do we await?  With whom do we sign our own Pax Romana?

For more on the Roman Peace, click on the first two images above or visit: http://www.elixirofknowledge.com/2014/03/history-mystery-pax-romana-roman-peace.html and http://academic.mu.edu/meissnerd/gladiators.html

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Philippians 4:1-9: Joy and Peace

Monday, December 28, 2015

Carl Marr: Adoration of the Christ Child (detail)

Carl Marr: Adoration of the Christ Child (detail)

Rejoice in the Lord always, I shall say it again: rejoice! 

St. Paul establishes this first community in Europe on his second missionary journey sometime around the year 50 and though his subsequent travels, he reminds the Philippians that . . .

Your kindness should be known to all, the Lord is near.

He sends the Philippians advice which we might take today . . .

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.  Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

While in Philippi, he converts a wealthy business woman, his jailer and the jailer’s family . . . and he later writes to this community to remind them of what is truly important . . .

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious . . .

This letter was written while Paul was imprisoned elsewhere, perhaps Rome, Caesarea or Corinth; but wherever the prison, he continues to exhort his fellow Christ followers in Philippi to . . .

Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me.  Then the God of peace will be with you.

Marr: Adoration of the Christ Child

Marr: Adoration of the Christ Child

During this Christmastide, may you all know the Joy of Christ’s Hope . . . and may you all rest in his Serene Peace . . .

Rejoice in the Lord always, I shall say it again: rejoice! 

A favorite from December 26, 2007.

 

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Isaiah 54: Vindication


Isaiah 54: Vindication

Friday, November 27, 2015The-Tent

Enlarge the place of your tent; stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare not; lengthen your cords and strengthen your pegs. For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left. And your descendants will possess nations and will resettle the desolate cities.

With this beautiful image of a heart that is willing to expand as it meets its creator, Isaiah asks us to contemplate the enormity, eternity, and healing power of God’s love for us.

From Princeton WordNet at wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn the definition of vindication: 1) the act of vindicating or defending against criticism or censure etc.; “friends provided a vindication of his position”, 2) defense: the justification for some act or belief; “he offered a persuasive defense of the theory”.  We read these words and realize that we may not have allowed ourselves to be defended by God when we see those who work against us fail at their unhealthy schemes.  In our effort to wipe any thought of revenge from our minds, we have missed out on the gift of God’s affirming action.  This is something to think about.

We are always hearing words of comfort from our God.  Fear not, you shall not be put to shame.  (Verse 4) In justice shall you be established, far from the fear of oppression, where destruction cannot come near you.  (Verse 14) No weapon fashioned against you shall prevail; every tongue you shall prove false that launches an accusation against you.  This is the lot of the servant of the Lord.  (Verse 17) 

We pause over verses 7 & 8:  For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with great tenderness I will take you back.  In a burst of wrath, for a moment I hid my face from you; but with enduring love I take pity on you, says the Lord your redeemer.  We reflect on how Yahweh is so often described as a jealous God, wanting our full and total dedication to his truth.  We also recall the prophecy of Hosea when he cries in anguish over his wife’s infidelity and lack of respect for herself and others.  We understand the burst of wrath, the hidden face . . . and also the tenderness of true love which endures all things without accepting abuse.

isaiah 54We spend time meditating on verse 10:  Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you nor my covenant of peace be shaken, says the Lord who has mercy on you.

God is good. God keeps promises . . . even when we do not.  When we have stood to affirm God’s goodness with full-throated song . . . we must allow ourselves to be vindicated.  For this indication is a hymn of praise to God and his wondrous, awesome power.

Adapted from a reflection written on November 27, 2008.

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