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Posts Tagged ‘kingdom-building’


Saturday, March 6, 2021

ash-wednesday-usa[1]Amos 1

Receptive

Today we stand on the threshold of a great opportunity, an opportunity to shed all that we dislike about ourselves, an opportunity to return fully to the promise God sends to the world through us. We have taken up the prophecy of Amos as our first Lenten lesson plan and today we re-visit an old theme: we ask for the courage to open our hearts and minds and souls to the possibility of newness, we ask for the strength to be receptive to God’s announced gift of regeneration.

God calls to us through Amos just as he called to the faithful millennia ago.  nd what is the message we hear today? Where are we to go to do the work of self-conversion and kingdom building? Amos tells us simply: We are to look to our own homes, communities, work, worship and play places . . . we are to begin . . . and then we are to take this newness in which we find ourselves into all we do, think and say. Social injustice and religious arrogance: these are the two devils we are to combat. We must invert these two ideas (as Jesus always does when he stands us on our heads – calling us to the margins rather than to the comfortable middle) to social justice and to religious humility. They are the standard bearers we are to carry each day as we step out of our homes and into the world.  hey are the same standards we carry into our evenings as we return home to rest and rebuild.


To learn more about the places named in Amos 1, click on the following words and consider . . . Do we live in these places?  If so, what do we do to change ourselves . . . so that the world might also change? Aram, Philistia, Tyre, Edom and Ammon.

mage from: http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/us/ash-wednesday

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Wednesday, March 3, 2021

Matthew 5:38-48

CNN News: Ukraine Protestors

CNN News: Ukraine Protestors

We re-post this reflection written in 2014 in union with those who stand up for personal and communal freedom justice on every continent. The human race seems determined to create chaos rather than unity. Let us come together with all those who seek the common good. And let us pray not only for the oppressed but also for those who commit acts of oppression. 

A Prayer to Nourish Us Here and Now

Matthew records the words Jesus speaks to those who gather round him when he describes the kingdom of God in the Beatitudes, the new Law of Love that supersedes the law of the Torah and Moses. We have spent much time this week reflecting on the Interior Law placed within each of us at our inception.  This law flourishes in faith, grows in hope and acts in love. And so we pray, we look for strength as we build God’s kingdom.

BBC News: South Sudan in Crisis

BBC News: South Sudan in Crisis

You have heard it said, an eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.

Around the planet the peoples of the world constantly look for answers to difficult questions; they consistently yearn for security and peace; they continually hunger for the words that Jesus speaks in his Sermon on the Mount. And so we pray, we look for courage as we build God’s kingdom.

When someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other one as well.

In Ukraine the people struggle to find leadership that is free of corruption.  And so we pray, we look for integrity as we build God’s kingdom.

If anyone wants to go to law with you over your tunic, hand over your cloak as well.

In South Sudan the people struggle to live a life without fear. And so we pray, we look for justice as we build God’s kingdom.

Reuters: Thai Protestors Target Ministries and Threaten Stock Exchange

Reuters: Thai Protestors Target Ministries and Threaten Stock Exchange

Should anyone press you into service for one mile, go for two.

In Thailand the people fight over who will bring them into the light.  And so we pray, we look for truth as we build God’s kingdom.

Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on the one who wants to borrow.

In Venezuela the people fight over how they will share the power of leadership.  And so we pray, we look for peace as we build God’s kingdom.

You have heard it said, you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.

Swiss Broadcasting: Activists Injured by Gunshots

Swiss Broadcasting: Activists Injured by Gunshots

In West Virginia, USA the people ask for answers to dark questions.  And so we pray, we look for compassion as we build God’s kingdom.

If you love those who love you, what recompense will you have?

In our own home town the people ask for honesty and justice.  And so we pray, we look for love as we build God’s kingdom.

We are not much different from those people who listened to Jesus two thousand years ago; we too, hunger for security, healing, truth, forgiveness and redemption.

Be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. And so we pray, we look for endurance as we build God’s kingdom.

National Geographic News: West Virginia's Chemical Valley

National Geographic News: West Virginia’s Chemical Valley

The perfection God asks of us lies not in our living a life without mishap; rather, it lies in our persistence to return to the Law of Love no matter how far we stray. The kingdom Jesus describes is not in some distant future when all God’s children have suddenly seen and corrected the errors in their lives.  The kingdom of God is here and it is now.  God’s forgiveness and mercy are here and now.  God’s healing and presence are here and now. God’s compassion and love are here and now. Let us take strength from the one who created us, take heart from the one who accompanies us, and peace from the one who dwells within us. Amen.


To learn more about the stories shared in this prayer, click on the images above or go to: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/17/world/europe/ukraine-protests/, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-25677297, http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/14/us-thailand-protest-idUSBREA0B03C20140114, http://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/news/international/Activists_say_five_Venezuela_protesters_injured_by_gunshots.html?cid=37945644, http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140116-chemical-valley-west-virginia-chemical-spill-coal/ 

For another Noontime reflection on these verses, enter the word Vengeance into the blog search bar and explore.

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Saturday, February 27, 2021

circumcision-of-the-heart[1]Romans 2:25-29

Our Interior Law

Part III

True circumcision is not outward, in the flesh. Rather, one is a Jew inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit, not the letter; his praise is not from human beings but from God.

In the early church argument erupted over whether or not the first non-Jewish Christians must first be circumcised in order to join the movement. Luke records much of this turmoil in Acts and we see a success convening of the first Church Council to sort out the problem the fledgling group faced. Peter puts an end to the petty bickering when he says: Who was I to be able to hinder God? God has then granted life-giving repentance to the Gentiles too. (Acts 11:17-18)

Some of Jesus’ early followers wrap themselves in the safety of rules and regulations that are created to keep themselves and others in line. How do we turn away those who long to hear the Good News that kingdom-builders are meant to deliver?

Some of Jesus’ first adherents see the Mystical Body as a club or community organization to be tightly controlled. How do we allow the Spirit to move in and through us so that we might bring the freedom and joy of the kingdom to others?

Some of Jesus’ initial disciples worried over the details of God’s plan, believing themselves responsible for correcting all they believe is wrong with the world. How do we stifle the Spirit, misrepresent Jesus, and ignore God as we seek to be builders with Christ?

Who am I to be able to hinder God? 

As we reflect on our interior and outer laws, how and why we follow them, and how or if they match the Law of Love established by God through Jesus . . . let us allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit as we honestly answer the question Peter poses . . . Who are we to be able to hinder God?


For a deeper understanding of Circumcision of the Heart, click on the image above or go to: http://www.jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/v01-n06/circumcision

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Thursday, February 18, 2014

desert in bloomJoel 2:18-27

Blessings for God’s People

I will repay you for the years which the locust has eaten . . . you shall praise the name of the Lord because God has dealt wondrously with you . . .

When we experience loss we believe that our work has been in vain; yet God says: There is nothing lost that cannot be found. Nothing spent that cannot be restored. Nothing ruined that cannot be rebuilt. I am the great restorer. It is not true that the work you have given to me as a kingdom-builder can really be destroyed. Nothing done by you in my name is ever erased, and I can call it to life in an instant so do not panic. Do not be afraid. I see a vast and complicated plan which you cannot perceive or understand. When you are troubled about how this plan appears to be ineffective or ridiculous, remember to bring those fears and anxieties to me. And when you find yourself feeling as though you are alone with nothing and no one to sustain you . . . remember that I am with you always.  Even in the most brutal and hostile of deserts.

After his baptism, the Spirit drove [Jesus] out into the desert, and he remained in the desert for forty days, tempted by Satan.  He was among wild beasts, and the angels ministered to him.  (Mark 1:12-13)

When we experience our own desert times we too feel surrounded by evil beasts; yet we are accompanied by angels who minister to us. When we ask God to bring us patience, humility and serenity these gifts will arrive on angels’ wing.  hen will the desert begin to bloom in an extraordinary way; and then will we find that for long, dry days and dark, cold nights we have been sustained by the mystery and miracle of God’s love.

Tomorrow, Blessings In the Desert.


Image from: http://bigpicture.typepad.com/writing/2005/05/desert_flowers_.html

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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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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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