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Posts Tagged ‘Law of Love’


Ezekiel 43: God’s Glory Returns

archway-roman-ruins-tyre-lebanon_12240_600x450

National Geographic: Ruins of Roman Archway in Tyre, Lebanon

Thursday, May 25, 2017

As a counterbalance to the description of the downfall of Tyre on which we have reflected before, today we have a description of the temple in the New Jerusalem. What we see described here is God living with all of the Israelites forever. The man leading the prophet through this beautiful scenario says: Describe the temple to the people of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their sins. Let them consider the plan, and if they are ashamed of all they have done, make known to them the design of the temple – its arrangements, its exits and entrances – its whole design and all its regulations and laws. Write these down before them so that they may be faithful to its design and follow all its regulations. This portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy is full of detailed descriptions of the place and the people who make up this new city where God dwells forever with his people. It was meant to both instruct and to bring comfort to those who lived in exile with this prophet. The footnotes in the NAB point out that in the new Israel the temple is free, even physically, from civil jurisdiction – moving away from the habit of corrupt kings like Ahaz and Manasseh who treated it as a private chapel for pagan rites.

Jerusalem _ Old City Walls _ Noam Chen_IMOT

Noam Chen: Old City of  Jerusalem

When Jesus arrived on the scene hundreds of years later as the true Messiah, he upset much of this separatist and purist thinking. It was for his openness and universality that he was hunted down, condemned and put to death.  Because his new Law of Love fulfilled and superseded the old Law of Moses, he and his apostles were hounded out of towns and executed. Even in the early Christian church we see the struggle with this idea of openness and universality with the first Council which convened in Jerusalem to determine the importance of circumcision as a requirement for church membership. After discussion, and when the dust settles, we read in Acts that circumcision was not determined necessary.  God’s church is open to Gentile and Jew, slave or free, woman or man – to all those who will be faithful to the Covenant first established with Adam and Eve.

This is how we see the New Temple and the New Jerusalem as revealed by Ezekiel millennia ago. This place of worship where God dwells is where we live even today . . . if we might only choose to open our eyes and ears to it. This prophet was painting a picture of radiance for his exiled peope, and they must have taken heart at the memories these words stirred of how it is to gather together as Yahweh’s faithful to repent, to petition, to give thanks, to worship.

As Easter people who believe in the Resurrected Jesus, we too, can relax into these images and make them our own. We can carry them into the world with us each day as we encounter and then counter the darkness that wishes to prevail. We can arm ourselves with these pictures of the universal gathering of all of God’s People . . . the Faithful to the Covenant . . . the Hopeful in all things hopeless . . . the Truthful in all relationships . . . the Struggling with the cares of this world . . . the Freed who have escaped the chains of doubt and anxiety. For we are Easter people who live the Resurrection even now. For God’s Glory has returned in us . . . in our willingness to serve . . . our willingness to be vulnerable . . . our willingness to witness . . . our willingness to be Christ and Light and Truth to a world struggling to be free of the darkness.

This is God’s Plan. This is God’s Design. This is God’s Law.

Amen.  Alleluia!

A Favorite from April 13, 2008.

For a Noontime reflection on Tyre, visit: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/09/18/tyre/ 

For more National Geographic images of Lebanon, click on the image above. 

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Deuteronomy 23: Fruit that will Remain

Friday, May 19, 2017

This Favorite from May 29, 2011 reminds us that just as Peter decides to remain faithful to Christ the shepherd, so might we. Just as Peter works to plant himself in Christ so might we. And just as Peter becomes fruit that remains in Christ . . . so do we. 

When we read these many rules that try to cover all the permutations of a concept, we can understand how societies become top-heavy and stray too far from the hope that originally brought them together.  If we need legions of lawyers to tell us what we believe, we know that tyranny has taken hold and that power has become more important than people.  When control is the driving force in our lives rather than understanding or discernment, someone or something has gone too far; and this is why the simple elegance of The Word that Jesus brings to us – Love one another as I have loved youcannot be outdone.  There is no greater Law, no greater authority on earth or in heaven.  Love is all there is.  Love is everything that is.

I am always startled to hear people describe the connection they have with God as if it were some sort of membership in some kind of club.  Jesus is not looking to have the greatest number of fans or friends.  He is not trying to beat Satan by some specific amount in the tally of souls won or lost.  He is not trying to best his last year’s soul-count by a certain margin.  Jesus looks to redeem all those whom the Father has sent to him.  Jesus asks us to bear fruit just as he bears fruit.  Jesus is not issuing passports or validating passes.  Jesus calls; we are to respond.  And when we do, we must know that this is difficult work.

From Friday’s Gospel (John 15:12-17): I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.  It was not you who chose me, but I 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.

From yesterday’s Gospel (John 15:18-21): Jesus said to his disciples: If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world that hates you.

And today’s Gospel (John 14:15-21) begins with this same message in the event we did not hear it the first time: If you love me, you will keep my commandments . . . you know him because he remains with you, and will be in you.

We who believe in Jesus do not belong to an elite organization.  There are no dues to pay, no membership to renew.  All that is asked of us is that we be open to the Spirit and that we allow that Spirit to find a dwelling place in us.  And we do this so that we might bear much fruit . . . fruit that will remain.

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Matthew 5:38-48: About Revenge – Part I

Sunday, February 19, 2017god-is-love1

For the next several days we will explore Jesus’ words from his Sermon on the Mount. Today, what does Jesus tell us about the freedom we find when we stay clear of the temptation to seek revenge?

Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: “Eye for eye, tooth for tooth”. Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: “Don’t hit back at all”. If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. (MSG)

Jesus challenges us to live generously; yet what does this mean?

This is impossible, we say to ourselves as we hear his words. And a life lived in this way will never work. Who will protect me and my loved ones if I do not? How will I keep the bullies at bay? And how will I avoid being everyone’s doormat? This is impossible we repeat.  And then . . .

confucious-revenge-two-gravesGod says: I am quite aware that many of you see Jesus’ suggestion as an idealistic, and even ridiculous, plan for living. You see the Law of Freedom as a threat to your autonomy. You see the world viewed from this perspective of love – without defenses and using liberal amounts of revenge – as childish. But I say to you that it is childlike. I do not ask you to go into the world completely open to assault; rather, I ask that you use my enormous power, presence and love as a bulwark and as your rock of safety. I ask you to trust me more than you trust your own resources and your little powers. I also ask that you replace your bluster and bravado with my own call to love those who hate you and wish you harm. When you surrender to my Law of Freedom, you give up all pretense of power – and yet you will have more power than you ever imagined. When you remain in and with me, you need not build the walls you falsely believe will protect you. I ask that you put away your childish ways of dependence of self and replace them the childlike life of generosity and openness. I tell you that this new interaction with the world brings you a new freedom . . . and even a new authority, the authority of my love that surpasses all.

Jesus challenges us to live generously. Do we see ourselves as able to follow this call?

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Matthew 5:10-11: The Inverted Kingdom – Part IV

Saturday, January 14, 2017matthew-5-11

Jesus proposes that we set aside our desire for honor and fame. Today we consider the qualities of steadfastness and fidelity that Jesus tells us are essential if we want to follow his Way.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. (NSRV)

This vision of the world sees persecution for Jesus’ sake as a sign of our fidelity.

Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies against you because you are my followers. (GNT)

This picture of the world sees mockery and hatred against us as a consequence of our persistence in adhering to the Law of Love.

Those who are treated badly for doing good are happy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. People will say bad things about you and hurt you. They will lie and say all kinds of evil things about you because you follow me. But when they do these things to you, you are happy. (ICB)

This view of the world sees suffering for Christ as an antidote to animosity and evil.

You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. (MSG)

This picture of the world sees rejection for God’s sake as the deepest kind of blessing.

The Gospels show us how Jesus hopes to prepare each of us to follow him. They show us that God will persist in transforming evil with that goodness. They show us that the Spirit abides in loving understanding that the Way of Love is difficult but unconditionally rewarding.

How do we persist in our hope to put aside honor for the authentic recognition that each of us is loved beyond measure? How willing are we to ignore the mockery, persecution, exclusion and hatred of others . . . and greet all with the open arms of Christ’s love?

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we better understand that persecution becomes blessing when we agree to follow Christ.

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Matthew 5:3: The Inverted Kingdom – Part I

Wednesday, January 11, 2017poor-in-spirit

We have heard the words, “Do not fear”. We have struggled to recognize the Christ who accompanies us always. For the next few days we will reflect on the structure of society Jesus proposes when he asks us to forego power and wealth, pleasure and honor. We think through the new Law of Love that supersedes the old Mosaic Law. And we spend a bit of time considering the inverted nature of God’s Kingdom.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (NSRV)

This vision of the world sees the broken-hearted as close to God.

Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them! (GNT)

This picture of the world sees the broken-hearted as central to God’s design.

Those people who know they have great spiritual needs are happy. The kingdom of heaven belongs to them. (ICB)

This view of the world sees the wealth as non-essential in God’s plan.

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule. (MSG)

This picture of the world sees wealth as a barrier to intimacy with God.

The Gospels show us how God’s Word walks among the poor in spirit. They show us that Jesus makes a choice to dwell with the lame, the mourning, the betrayed and the ignored. They show us that the Spirit is always hovering along the margins of society, rather than with those who hold great amounts of wealth.

How do we see ourselves as fitting into God’s designs and plans?

When we compare varying versions of this verse, we open ourselves to the joy of living in poverty with Jesus and the millions of poor who people the earth. 

For more on Jesus’ teaching and experience on poverty, click on the image above or  visit: http://stevesbasics.blogspot.com/2013/11/blessed-are-poor-in-spirit.html

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Acts 17:26: Loving Others – Part VI

First Sunday of Advent

November 27, 2016hands-touching

As we enter the season of hope, we reflect on – and determine to act in – God’s call to love one another. 

From one human being God created all races of people and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live. (GNT)

We must never doubt that each of us is integral to God’s economy. Each of us is endowed with specific gifts that are essential to God’s plan. All of us – not matter how diverse – are loved and cherished by God.

From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and he allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live. (NRSV)

It may be difficult for some of us to accept the fact that all peoples are loved in the eyes of God; yet despite their many formal and informal religions, God asks only one commandment: that we respect and love one another.

The God who made the world and everything in it, this Master of sky and land, doesn’t live in custom-made shrines or need the human race to run errands for him, as if he couldn’t take care of himself. He makes the creatures; the creatures don’t make him. Starting from scratch, he made the entire human race and made the earth hospitable, with plenty of time and space for living so we could seek after God, and not just grope around in the dark but actually find him. (MSG)

It may be difficult for some of us to accept the fact that both genders, male and female, are equal in the eyes of God. It may be even more difficult to accept that God loves those of mixed or ambiguous genders; yet despite our many creeds and goals, Christ asks that we follow him and do as he does: living the Law of Love.

And God made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place. (ESVUK)

It may be difficult for some of us to believe that the Spirit lives in each of us, creating a holy indwelling that we are meant to share. When we are asked to love one another, we are asked to love even those who do us harm. We are meant to return hatred with blessing, greed with generosity, and prejudice with charity. All the rest, we place in the hands of God.

When we compare varying translations of these verses, we begin to see how difficult – and simple – it is, to love others as God does. 

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Romans 7:14-25: Loving Others – Part V

Saturday, November 26, 2016

It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. (MSG)

christ-imagePaul describes something that happens to each of us. Our best intentions succumb to our desire to control our environment. Our most outrageous hopes falter when we face ominous obstacles alone. Our deepest faith falters when the reality of the world crowds our thinking. We cannot understand how loving those who hate us will bring an end to all that plagues society.

Who will rescue me from this body bound for death? (CJB)

Despite all that looks dark in the world, Christ brings us light. Despite all that threatens to pull us under, the Spirit raises us up.

This, then, is my condition: on my own I can serve God’s law only with my mind. (GNT)

When events loom, when life overwhelms, when hope abandons and faith cannot abide, we are left with the only law that matters. Christ’s unfailing, always-saving, eternal Law of Love.

For a reflection on these verses, click on the image above or visit: https://frted.wordpress.com/tag/luke-631-36/

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Matthew 5:44-48: Loving Others – Part II

Wednesday, November 23, 2016love-your-enemies

You have heard that our fathers were told, ‘Love your neighbor — and hate your enemy’. But I tell you, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! (CJB)

We have spent time with these verses before but we do well to spend a bit of time with again.

Why should God reward you if you love only the people who love you? Even the tax collectors do that! And if you speak only to your friends, have you done anything out of the ordinary? Even the pagans do that! (GNT)

We have reflected before on the importance of loving those who hate and we do well to reflect again.

In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.”

matthew-5-44-48God says: I know how difficult it is to follow my son and act in this Law of Love. This is the very reason I come to walk among you as one of you and not as a distant God. This is why I spend time with the margins of your societies. And it is why I ask you to dwell there with me. Do not lose heart. Have courage. Have I not prepared a Way for you? Do I not accompany you on your way? Do I not love you more than I love myself? And do I not want you to be with me forever?

For millennia Jesus has told us how we are to act when our sisters and brothers hate us.

But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless those that curse you, do good to those that hate you, and pray for those who speak evil about you, and persecute you. (JUB)

For millennia we have heard that Jesus will abide, heal and comfort us, his little children. Let us behave each day as though we believe this to be so.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these words, we begin to understand that Jesus gives us sound advice; we begin to recognize that Jesus’ request brings us closer to him in every way; and we begin to find a way to love those who have done us such damage.

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1 & 2 Chronicles: Our Sacred History – Part VI

Wednesday, May 25, 2016gods-love-story-1-728

A Prayer in celebration of our story

We have read about the women and men who bring us an accounting of the rise and fall of the human journey along God’s Way. We see the acts and hear the thoughts of those who are willing to share their experiences – both the ugly and the beautiful – of their encounters with the Living God. Today we reflect on all that we have learned as we pray.

Singular and gathering God, we know that you are the beginning and end of our faith. We realize this in your Alpha and Omega presence in Christ among us.

Patient and persistent God, we see that you are the form and substance of all hope that is true and everlasting. We see this in all of creation that constantly strives to return to you.

Healing and transforming God, we understand that nothing matters and no one exists in a world without your Law of Love. We experience this mercy and forgiveness in the goodness that you pull from each harm that we commit or have done unto us.

Teach us to also forgive. Lead us always into the light. Protect us from all that would obliterate us. Love us into your goodness. Bring us your truth. Counsel us in your healing and nurturing way. Re-tell us the stories of our shared and sacred history. Shelter us in the warmth of your embrace. And keep us always ever close to you. Amen.

finger paint heartThe two books of Chronicles have four major portions that show us very human leaders; they illustrate the rise and fall of a people and nation. These verses tell us how division and exile can lead to forgiveness and return. Our sacred history shows us how we will want to learn to replace pride with humility. Our shared story guides us in moving from fear to love. These holy stories are treasures we will want to examine often, and share with the world.

For more on this amazing story, enter the words God’s Love Letter into the blog search bar and explore.

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