Posts Tagged ‘Lent’

Acts 8:4-40Magic or Mystery

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Avancino Nucci: Peter’s COnflict with Simon Magus

Written on March 10 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

In today’s Noontime we have the juxtaposition of Simon the magician – who uses sleight of hand and deceit to lure in an audience – with Philip the apostle – who allows the Spirit to work through him to call others to Christ.  Which are we today?  Who are our friends, family, companions and colleagues?  What do we expect from our world?  How do we interact with all of God’s creatures and God’s creation?

Following the martyring of Stephen, the apostles scatter.  This brutal act which was meant to stifle the Spirit only carries it out into the world.  As always, God turns all harm to good . . . if we prepare ourselves to receive God’s gift of grace.

We might examine our conscience as we move into our Lenten journey.

You thought you could obtain God’s gift with money . . . Pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you . . .

Do I want to know the truth even when inconvenient?

Peter said . . . your heart is not right with God . . .

Will I accept critique, even when it is delivered unkindly?

How can I understand [the Gospel] unless someone guides me . . .?

Am I willing to listen more than I talk?

The crowds listened eagerly to what was said by Philip, hearing and seeing the signs that he did . . .

Do I consistently create time and space for God in my life no matter the circumstance?

Now those [apostles] who were scattered went from place to place . . .

Am I willing to proclaim the good news even when joy eludes me?

Philip proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus . . .

We cannot purchase or earn God’s grace in any way.  God’s grace is not a trick that fools the eye or ear.  God’s grace is the action of Spirit that moves within and through us.  The proper response to this gift is our gratitude, our fidelity, and our willingness to build the kingdom with all who are likewise called by God.

We may be tempted to worry only about ourselves and we may want to think that our relationship with God is with God alone.  We find out, once we begin to listen well, that we are to act in concord with one another despite and even because of our differences.  God’s great oneness is not a monolith but a kaleidoscope variety of his creatures and creation.  Once we begin to notice what attracts us to God, once we begin to discern our reason for seeking God . . . we will know if we are looking for magic to solve our problems . . . or the Spirit that transforms us into faithful kingdom builders.

A re-post from November 10, 2011.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Magus

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Wednesday, February 29, 2012 – Luke 6:12-16 – Going Out to the Mountain

Written on Ash Wednesday, February 17, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Now during those days, Jesus went out to the mountain to pray . . .

This is something to linger with as we begin the season of Lent today, a season in which we traditionally spend much quiet time reflecting on how we might change the way in which we approach life.  On Ash Wednesday, Christians mark their foreheads with the ashes from the previous year’s palms as a sign of their willingness to examine themselves and their habits.  Today in our school prayer service we began to look at this season as a pilgrimage we choose to make much like the one made by one of our fellow teachers last summer in northern Spain, the Camino de Santiago.  As pilgrims move along the specified route they must look for kilometer markers and yellow arrows that point the way and designate distance.  As we watched the video that documented her journey, we could see that some Santiago markers – and the roadway – were obvious and easy to follow.  At other times however, the arrows were barely visible and the path bifurcated, creating doubt about which course was the proper one to follow. 

The Camino de Santiago winds through forests and fields, it scuttles alongside and across streams, it climbs hills and falls into valleys, it twists through back yards and front yards.  Cows, horses, cats, dogs and sheep greet pilgrims; wild flowers and stands of tall trees appear as signs of God’s presence for those who are willing to see them.  And all the while the pilgrim relies not only on the markers for guidance but also on the people who play and work along the way.  The pilgrim must trust God, must trust those who live along the route and know its intricacies, and ultimately the pilgrim trusts his or her instincts to determine the way ahead.  This way is often confusing for sometimes the path is invisible . . . just as in life.

Los caminos de Santiago

In Jesus’ time, the Jewish people made an annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem during the Passover season to atone, to worship and to reconnect with God.  It was on one of these journeys that Jesus’ family inadvertently left him behind in the temple.  In today’s Noontime we watch Jesus make a small pilgrimage to the mountain to spend time with God before he chooses the twelve who will journey with him to his own crucifixion and resurrection.  We see Jesus ask for and then take counsel – just as any of us must – when he understands that the way ahead will be difficult and unclear.  

Even the Christ who is divine knows that he must connect with the creator before moving forward.  Even Jesus, the son of the divine, understands that he must go out to the mountain – a traditional place where one meets God – to petition and receive grace for the journey and food for the road. 

As we enter into Lent today, let us determine to out to the mountain before we begin our homeward passage.  Let us examine what we will want to change and how.  And let us rely on God alone to provide us with guiding markers in a world full of paths that twist and turn into the unknown.

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