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Posts Tagged ‘kingdom-building’


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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Holy Thursday, April 9, 2030

John 21:1-14

A Sea of Galilee Boat

A Sea of Galilee Boat

Leaping from the Boat

Continued from yesterday’s posting . . .

So they cast the net and they were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish . . . It is in that moment that John turns to Peter and says with quiet, unwavering certainty, “It is the Lord”.

Peter leaps into the water, the others pull the boat to the waterline, all rushing toward the man who stands by a charcoal fire on which fish are roasting and bread is waiting.

That voice that has called us so often for so long.  Why did we not recognized it at first?  Were we so tired and so consumed with our own worries that our hearts did not hear that voice we thought we would never forget?  And now that we stand here before the Teacher, do we admit that we doubted?  Do we tell him how much we worried?  Do we say that we thought he had gone for good despite his promise to never abandon us?  Of course, he already knows our questions and our misgivings . . . he knows all.  But might we say these words aloud all the same?

While we hesitate, Jesus invites.  He has no need of the fish in the heavy net and yet he says, calling us to share with him, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.  Come and have breakfast”.  John records that none of them dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they realized it was the Lord.  Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them, and in like manner the fish.

And so, as the sun rises over the sea and a new day begins, we sit once again at the table of the gift of sustenance and self that Jesus so willingly, openly and lovingly gives.  We return to what is now our new “old life”.  We return to follow the Teacher.  He has told us that we would be fishers of men and still we thought that our old occupation of pulling fish from the sea was more reliable work.  Perhaps we knew all along that this would be our last casting on the sea.  Perhaps we wanted to return one last time to the old memory that has now spawned new futures. Perhaps . . . but now in our leaping from the boat we have made an irrevocable step.  We have decided to follow where the Teacher will lead.

As we continue our journey as Easter People, tomorrow, a prayer by the Sea of Tiberias . . .


A re-post from Easter Week 2013. 

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Holy Wednesday, April 8, 2020

John 21:1-14: 3957687394_0e887e752b_m[1]It is the Lord

It is dawn and we are on the sea in a boat with seven of the Teacher’s followers who have returned to their former occupation after the events in Jerusalem during the last Passover.  We have been working all night and are bone-weary.  More than that, we have a certain uneasiness about how we are to continue to follow the Teacher now that he is risen.  Although we say little to our companions, we are anxious, confused, and drained.

Then from the shoreline comes that voice, calling, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?” and we answer, “No”.  Again the voice calls out, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat and you will find something”. 

What can this stranger mean?  We are experienced at this work and we have been casting all night.  How can moving the net from one side of the boat to the other make a difference in the catch?  Either the fish are below us or they are not.

With a quick exchange of glances and a nod from Peter, together the disciples shift the net to the opposite side of the boat.

So they cast the net and they were not able to pull it in because of the number of fish . . . It is in that moment that John turns to Peter and says with quiet, unwavering certainty, “It is the Lord”.

Tomorrow in our lives as Easter People, leaping from the boat . . .


Let us spend some time today considering our own responses to Jesus’ call.  We might also want to visit the Jesus Boat Museum at: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/jesus-boat or go back to some of the sites on yesterday’s post.

A re-post from Easter Week 2013.

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Holy Tuesday, April 7, 2013

John 21:1-14

Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee

Sunrise on the Sea of Galilee

Looking for the Lord

Jesus continues to appear to his disciples, encouraging them to join him in the work of kingdom building.  Still mystified by how they will fulfill this mission, they return to the profession they know . . . to their boats, their nets, and the Sea of Tiberias.  It is here that we find Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus, Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, Zebedee’s sons John and James, and two others.  They have been fishing all night . . . and they have caught nothing.

Dawn arrives and they must be wondering what they are to do next.

When they made the decision to follow Jesus they had left their work as fishermen behind them, not questioning how they would earn a living.  They had followed the Teacher for several years until that sudden ending when they had last gone up to Jerusalem for Passover.  Jesus has returned, risen, wounded, yet whole, and he has visited with them, shared bread with them, told them they need fear nothing.  He has given them his blessing and God’s peace; yet they are uncertain what to do next in this new life of following the risen Christ so they have turned to their former occupation; but this once familiar work is proving fruitless.

They must be questioning all that has happened to them in the last several years.

We, like the apostles, will find ourselves casting nets into familiar seas yet coming up empty.

We, like the disciples, will return to places and relationships we once took for granted searching for strength yet finding little.

We, like all of Christ’s followers, will encounter the Christ just when and where we least expect to find him.

Let us spend some time today watching and waiting in Easter joy.  Let us carry our worries and fears to the risen Christ.  And let us look for the risen Lord in every detail of all that we do in his name today and all days.

Today we examine our lives as Easter People.  Tomorrow, recognizing Jesus . . .


A re-post from Easter Week 2013.

For some interesting facts about the Sea of Galilee/Tiberias today, go to: http://apinchofsalt-sonnleitner.blogspot.com/2010/07/week-30-sea-of-galilee.html or  http://www.this-is-galilee.com/sea-of-galilee.html or http://www.seetheholyland.net/sea-of-galilee-article-israeloutside-jerusalem/  or http://www.atlastours.net/holyland/sea_of_galilee.html 

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Holy Monday, April 6, 2013

Luke 24:33-49

Rembrandt: Christ at Emmaus

Rembrandt: Christ at Emmaus

You are Witnesses

So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem . . .

In the moment that Cleopas and his companion realize that they have been journeying with Jesus, they rise from the supper table to return to Jerusalem.  The place that a short time before had symbolized disappointment, defeat and danger now is the focus of all their hopes.  They must return to tell the other disciples what has occurred on the road to Emmaus.

So must we tell others about the Easter story as we place all our hope in Christ.

They found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”  Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way . . .

The Emmaus disciples rejoice with the disciples who had stayed behind in Jerusalem; they celebrate the reality that the Christ is still with them.

So must we rejoice as we celebrate with Christ.

While they were still speaking about this, he stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you”.  But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost.

It is difficult to ask our reason to bow to the miracle before them.  A few short days from now Thomas will stand before them insisting on hard evidence that Jesus has returned.  He must see and touch before he will believe; yet Jesus invites offers Thomas the evidence he needs in order to believe.

So might we be startled and terrified; so might we believe.

Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled? And why do questions arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet, that is it myself.  Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you can see I have”.

Rather than preach to us, Jesus talks with us.  He never ceases to tell us in every way he can that he understands our circumstances and our emotions.

So might we be troubled with fear and doubt; so might we touch, see and trust.

While they were still incredulous for joy, and were amazed, he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish; he took it and ate it in front of them.

Jesus still shares a meal with his friends just as he has done so often before.  He demonstrates undeniably that he is real for a phantasm cannot eat and drink and laugh with them.

So might we be amazed and incredulous; so might we share a familiar and intimate meal with Christ.

Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures . . .

The Teacher never misses an opportunity to instruct them again on the Law of Love and the newness of God’s Kingdom.  The disciples allow themselves to be open to The Word.

So might we listen for the voice of Jesus; so might we be open to The Word.

Then he said to them, “You are witnesses of these things . . . but stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high. 

Jesus requires affirmation from his followers.  He also counsels them on the next steps they must take in their newly found work of Kingdom-building.

So are we called to be witnesses.

So are we clothed with power from on high.

So are we sisters and brothers of Christ.

So are we Children of the Living God.

So are we loved both deeply and well.

So are we.  So are we.  So are we.

Amen.

Tomorrow, at the Sea of Tiberius . . .


A re-post from Easter Week 2013.

Image from: http://johnib.wordpress.com/2013/04/04/thursday-after-easter-april-4-2013-prayer-and-medication/

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Romans 16:17-20: Troublemakers

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them . . . such people serve their own appetites, and by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent . . . Be wise as to what is good, and simple as to what is evil; then the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. 

We are not built to handle evil – we are built for receiving and giving God’s love.

We are not meant to isolate ourselves in cliques and posses – we are meant to build bridges and seek union.

We are not created to isolate ourselves behind thick defense mechanisms – we are created to be open to those who are vulnerable just as Jesus our brother is.

We are not troublemakers, nor are we expected to mend what makes others so contentious – we are to model a way of living that does not rely on division and revenge.

We are kingdom builders, peace sharers . . . we are the dwelling place of God’s Spirit.

Watch out for those who cause dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned; avoid them . . . such people serve their own appetites , and by fair and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the innocent . . . Be wise as to what is good, and simple as to what is evil; then the God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.  Amen. 


Written on November 27, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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1 Corinthians 4: Servants, Stewards, Ministers of Christ

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Ruins of Corinth

Thus should one regard us: as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  In this way Paul describes our work for us; he defines our lives; he makes it clear that no other calling is more important.

It does not concern me in the least that I be judged by you or any human tribunal.  In this way Paul states his creed; he clarifies his position; he spells out his limits and existence.

What do you possess that you have not received?  With these words Paul points out that all that we have and all that we are come from God; he helps us to see that we can take credit only for following God and being gracious recipients of God’s gifts.

We go hungry and thirsty, we are poorly clad and roughly treated, we wander about homeless and we toil, working with our own hands.  With these words Paul describes his circumstances . . . and he invites us to join him in his holy work.

When ridiculed, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we respond gently.  We have become like the world’s rubbish, the scum of all, to this very moment.  With these words Paul tells us that being Christ’s servants, stewards and ministers will not be easy . . . that kingdom building will be a dangerous and difficult vocation.

Which do you prefer?  Shall I come to you with a rod, or with love and a gentle spirit?  With these questions Paul brings us to the brink of ourselves; Paul calls us to a reality we may not like.  Do we wish to be forced . . . they why do we attempt to force others even though we dislike being forced ourselves?  Do we wish to be loved . . . then why do we not love others even when we wish to be loved?

And so we pray . . .

Good and loving God, you have forgiven all, you have sacrificed all, you have remembered all, and you have loved all.  Make of us the servants you wish us to be.  Remain in us that we might be the stewards you wish us to be.  Guide us as we strive to be your ministers; build with us the foundations and pillars of your kingdom.  For we are nothing without you.  We are all because of you. 

Abide with us as we struggle to be good servants of Christ.  Live in us as we labor to be good stewards of the mysteries of God.  Dwell in us as we learn to be good kingdom builders who minister in the Spirit of the Lord.  Amen. 


A re-post from December 8, 2011.

Image from: http://www.harrys-greece.com/h-taxi-greece/taxi-tours-corinth.htm 

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Titus 2:1 to 3:7In Conflict with Reality

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Titus was one of Paul’s companions during the evangelization of the island of Crete, and Paul left his young follower to administer to the churches they established there.  In this letter, Paul encourages Titus and gives him an outline for 1) how to best minister to these new communities, and 2) how to maintain the truths brought to them by Christ in the Gospel story1.  This would have been a huge task for anyone but we can guess that it was particularly tricky for Titus who would find that every action he took and every word he spoke would be in direct conflict with the reality of the times.  We might identify with this conflict between doctrines and philosophies we know to be correct, and the accepted practices and activities in our own families, communities and workplaces.  We might want to use Paul’s words to Titus as our own manual for Christian behavior.

In a reflection posted on his website for Sunday, February 05, 2012, Fr. Richard Rohr describes living life fully while at the same time accepting reality In part he writes: “Living and accepting our own reality will not feel very spiritual. It will feel like we are on the edges rather than dealing with the essence.  Thus most [human beings] run toward more esoteric and dramatic postures instead of bearing the mystery of God’s suffering and joy inside themselves. But the edges of our lives—fully experienced, suffered, and enjoyed—lead us back to the center and the essence”.

Rohr continues to explain how we must open ourselves in order to allow God to move into us, in order to allow God to act in and through us.  He makes his point clear that we do not make our own lives but rather it is our lives that form us . . . once we allow ourselves to suffer in Christ.  He writes that as we search for God, God finds us:  “We do not find our own center; it finds us. Our own mind will not be able to figure it out. Our journeys around and through our realities, or ‘circumferences,’ lead us to the core reality, where we meet both our truest self and our truest God. We do not really know what it means to be human unless we know God. And, in turn, we do not really know God except through our broken and rejoicing humanity”.  (Adapted from Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer, pp. 17-19 by Richard Rohr)

As we read Paul’s message to Titus today, we hear the encouraging words that we need as well for as we move through our own reality we will want to know how to find the courage to stand tall against the thinking of the day when we know this thinking is defective.  We will want to have the hope that God will convert false realities into kingdom promises.  We will want to know where to find the faith and patience we will need, when to act with the love and justice that we will require, and how to work with others in charity . . . even those who put obstacles in our way.

Paul describes for Titus how he might guide others as they transform their own lives and their world.  Rohr reminds us that the work is difficult and that we must stand with one foot in the reality of this world and the other in the reality of God’s Kingdom . . . just as Jesus does.

We cannot allow ourselves to be discouraged from this kingdom work for it is the only work that matters.  We must rely on God, follow Christ’s model, and live in the Spirit.  So let us bear the mystery of God’s suffering and joy inside ourselves . . .for this is the only way we will be successful when we find ourselves in conflict with the reality we see around us.


1 We will want to remember that the prescription for Christian living that Paul sends to Titus was written two thousand years ago when the treatment of women and slaves as possessions was a philosophy woven through the thinking of their times.  Slaves were seen as natural possessions of their masters; women were subject to the men in their lives.  For more on slavery and Paul, see the Philemon – The Challenge  and the Titus – Church as Community pages on this blog.

A re-post from February 6, 2012.

Image from: http://travel.ninemsn.com.au/world/655272/off-the-beach-in-crete

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Psalm 16Song of Trust and Security in God

From the mini-reflection in today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer (Cameron 369): “When seen in the light of Easter joy, our sins can weigh us down with discouragement.  Yet God’s love does not deal in punishment as human vengeance does.  God’s love disciplines and prunes us in order to free us – sometimes a painful process – so that we might not die like a withered branch but live and bear much fruit in the risen Christ”. 

And from today’s Gospel which is John 15:12-17: It was not you who chose me I but who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.  This I command you: love one another.

We know how difficult change is yet we cannot avoid it for it is inevitable.  We know how difficult life is; in one way or another we experience pain and sorrow daily.  Because life is never free of suffering we might use this kind of pruning to find our best selves.  We know that we exist for a purpose and that purpose is to find our skill set as kingdom builders.  Perhaps we have the idea that we wish to design the architecture in this new kingdom when what God needs from us is that we serve as caretakers of the needy.  Or maybe we hope to serve in some significant organizational role when instead God needs us as harvesters.   Rather than focus on the specifics of our work or on the obstacles to attaining what we wish to attain, we might best focus on God alone instead, for only in God do we find a sheltering place that is secure, permanent and healing.

We do not chose God, God chooses us.  In this we can be secure; this we can trust.  God loves us through the pain of life and not in spite of it.  Let us look beyond our immediate sorrows and desires to see where the boundary lines have fallen.  Let us examine our circumstances to find that we are in pleasant places with a goodly heritage. 

If we are troubled about the pruning that is taking place in our lives today, we may want to turn to God to ask him for the strength to trust God as we ought.  Let us turn to this Psalm to pray . . .

I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.  Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.  Amen.


A re-post from October 1, 2011.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 27.5 (2011): 369. Print. 

Images from: http://christians-in-recovery.org/wp/2011/06/14/general-recovery/never-forsaken/

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