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Posts Tagged ‘light in the darkness’


Lamentations: In the Darkness

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Keeping each of you in prayer while I am away from electronics. Holding you in prayer at noon each day.

We gather our worn flesh and our broken bones. We take one last look around us at the weariness, poverty and darkness in which we find ourselves . . . and we prepare for restoration.

Just when we believe that we escape all that terrifies us, we learn again that life holds no guarantee. Just when we believe that we escape our worries and anxieties, we learn again that eternal life is a promise on which we can rely.

When we use the scripture link and commentary to explore this book, we discover that there is no guarantee that we will not suffer; but there is a guarantee that the light of God’s love will overcome the darkness to bring us new life. 

 

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 John 1:1-5: Generation of Lifelight overcomes the dark

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Richard Rohr tells us that generative people have learned so much from life that they are able to see God, the world and themselves with a broad perspective and with profound depth. They have arrived at living their old life in a new way. “In the second half of life, we do not have strong and final opinions about everything, every event, or most people, as much as we allow things and people to delight us, sadden us, and truly influence us. We no longer need to change or adjust other people to be happy ourselves . . . We have moved from doing to being”. (Rohr 161)

John the Evangelist tells us that . . . In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Jesus, being with the Creator from the beginning of time, generates life so intensely that he returns from the dead.

He was in the beginning with God.

Jesus, living in and with the Spirit, returns from the dead to share his new life with us.

All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

Jesus, loving us endlessly, persists in saving and redeeming each of us.

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of all. 

Jesus, fulfilling God’s promises for us, generates new life that brings the light of liberation to the darkness of our fears.

When we compare varying versions of John’s verses, we begin to realize the power of God’s promises, the force of God’s generative love, and the importance of striving to live as one who is upright in God. 

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

 

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Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part II

Holy Monday, April 10, 2017

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

Many times the early apostles shook the dust of an un-hearing town or people from their feet and their cloaks.  When they offered peace and that peace did not return to them, they moved on but remained open to the possibility of change, knowing that the work of conversion in these unbelievers was God’s work and not theirs.  If they were to play a part in a particular person’s transformation, they trusted the Holy Spirit to lead them to that spot in time and space, to that person into whose life they would enter . . . to be Christ at a moment of crisis or conversion.  This is how the Trinity functions in us.  This is the Mystery of Creation that works to transform the forces of de-creation into forces of restoration, healing and kingdom building.

God reveals the nature of God to each creature in a time known best only to God.  I like to think of the image of God searching through the tiniest streets of Jerusalem, holding a lamp high in search of the unbelievers who hide in dark places.  I also like to think of God’s modern apostles being the light that streams from this lantern.  We do nothing on our own.  We emanate from God . . . for God . . . in God . . . for the economy of salvation.  We can be a part of that salvation as co-redeemers, or we can be de-creators.  We have a choice to make.  Are we those who lurk in dark places, hiding from the light of truth, feeling comfort in the darkness?  Are we those who hunger for mercy and truth, feeling comfort only in the light?

On this Holy Monday, let us be Remnant for God.

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

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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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Isaiah 10: Social Injustice

Thursday, January 26, 2017 social-injustice

As we conclude our look at God’s inverted kingdom, we consider a Favorite from June 10, 2009, and we reflect on how Jesus might deal with the social injustice we find in our societies.

Isaiah 10 is book-ended by words that we hear so often during the Advent season: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom.  These words remind us that someone is coming great enough to take all of us in . . . and indeed, this one is already among us.  Today’s Noontime reminds us of what pulls us away from God and it draws clear imagery with Assyria and Sennacherib as vehicles not only of pain and loss, but ultimate transformation . . . if we but follow the Light, the Christ.  The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom. 

Isaiah tells us clearly that when we trust the Lord we need not tremble before overwhelming odds.  If we move out of the darkness to stand in the light and obey the voice within, we have nothing to fear.  Do not fear the Assyrian, though he strikes you with a rod, and raises his staff against you. 

Isaiah reminds us that though we are small, we are also mighty . . . when we place our fear where it is best handled, in God’s capable hands.  The tall of stature are felled, and the lofty ones brought low; the forest thickets are felled with the ax. 

Isaiah repeats a theme often heard with the prophets: those who can remain faithful through the holocaust will be standing when all others have blown away like chaff in the wind.  The remnant of Israel, the survivors of the house of Jacob, will no more lean upon him who struck them; but they will lean upon the Lord . . . a remnant will return . . . only a remnant will return.

Allowing injustice to happen without speaking or witnessing is the broad path taken by many; but it is not the marrow path taken by the remnant.  As Jesus tells us in Matthew (7:3) and Luke (13:24), most of us will succumb to a system that allows injustice for many the sake of the comfort of a few.  This remnant that remains in God will have to bend before the force of the storm, but all of this bending will be worthwhile.  This is the message that Isaiah brings to us: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light . . . But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from this root a bud shall blossom. 

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Sirach 38:24-34: God’s Ancient Handiwork

Wednesday, November 2, 2016gods-masterpiece

I still like to balance all the work that happens in my head with the work of my hands.  I find that when I have spent too much time with ideas and concepts that the only way to regain a sense of equilibrium in a hectic day is to return to the production of something I can touch – crocheting an afghan, preparing a casserole, mending something that has been torn or broken.  It is in this mending that I so often feel the snags in my heart begin to heal.  I recently saw a documentary about how work in the earth with one’s hands and time spent in nature that is far from development is used as a therapeutic method for some who suffer from depression and I can see the wisdom in this.  All of nature seems to me to be God’s playground because it is the work of God’s hands.  Perhaps the work of our own hands can be just such a playground for us.  It is good to return to simple manual occupations when life feels overly complex or complicated, when our human-ness has somehow forgotten our divine-ness.

In today’s Noontime we read an anthem of praise for those who work with their hands and even their feet.  The vocation – or calling forth – of a person’s craft is praised.  We are asked how we see wisdom increase in ones who have little time for the study of and reflection on God’s written word and the written wisdom of the learned ones (as in 39:1-11).  Guiding the plow and the draft animals to create a fertile furrow, engraving, designing, and smithing metals, molding pots . . . all these are expert skills of the hands without which no city could be lived in, and wherever they stay they need not hunger.  Sometimes I believe that we city folk have gotten too far away from our country roots.  We forget why we have been created . . . to know, to love and to serve God . . . not ourselves.  We have forgotten our true craft and we have forgotten how to maintain God’s ancient handiwork.

Over the past several evenings I watched news stories about organizations begun by westerners who bring important health care and safety to indigenous peoples in Asia and Africa.  Stories of how people who spend little time tending to their own basic survival needs turn their hands to the provision of a better safety net for those who truly have little.  One endeavor in Borneo that takes local goods as barter also invites those who have nothing to barter to replant seedlings on that country’s deforested hills.  All sides win, even Mother Nature.  Another story was of a young man who provides shoes for children in order that they not suffer from illness contracted from the volcanic soil where they live – a simple gesture with an inspiring consequence.  There are so many small yet hugely wonderful movements in the world each day that speak to this idea of knowing one’s simple craft . . . and living it out.  They are too numerous to name; yet it is these movements to maintain God’s ancient handiwork that bring light to a world threatened by violence and wars of many kinds.

When we become too far removed from who we are and who we are meant to be, it is no wonder that we lose our way.  When we become too puffed up like the example of leaven in bread that Jesus uses to describe the prideful scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 16:6, we have forgotten our craft and we no longer have the true vision of our purpose which is to maintain God’s ancient handiwork.  As we spend time this evening in prayer thanking God for all that he has given us, we might also thank him for our vocation, for the calling forth of our own craft which we offer to the world and back to God as we engage in, participate in and maintain . . . God’s ancient handiwork

A Favorite from October 29, 2009.

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Sirach 5: Precepts for Everyday Living

Friday, August 5, 2016SONY DSC

In this reading we see images of a merciful and sometimes wrathful God woven through practical pieces of advice.

Do not say, “His mercy is great, he will forgive the multitude of my sins,” for both mercy and wrath are with him, and his anger will rest on sinners . . . Do not winnow in every wind, or follow every path. Stand firm for what you know, and let your speech be consistent. Be quick to hear, but deliberate in answering. If you know what to say, answer your neighbor; but if not, put your hand over your mouth.

Sirach reminds us that God is patient, forgiving, and understanding of our innermost thoughts and desires, and after reading the instruction from ben Sirach, we will want to explore not only our words and actions but our motivations as well. Why do we do and say what we do and say? When and why are we silent? When and how do we speak? When and where do we act? What do we value and how do we use the gifts we are given? Sirach tells gives us simple precepts for our complicated days.

Do not rely on your wealth, or say, “I have enough.” Do not follow your inclination and strength in pursuing the desires of your heart.

sirach 5We live in a strange world of too many words and not enough clear information. In our search for clarity, we work to distill truth, measure honesty and reveal deceit. So often the advice of even the wisest among us is not enough so when we cannot see through the fog of abandoned promises, we must raise our eyes and hearts to the originator of our being. When we find ourselves on the knife’s edge of a demanding life, we place tired feet in the well-worn path of Jesus’ Way. And when we find ourselves falling into the depths of a dark and frightening well, we also find that we are falling not into nothingness but into the full and healing arms of the Spirit.

Sirach counsels us with his well-honed words. Jesus calls us with his proven Way. God leads us with a firm and guiding hand. And the Holy Spirit heals us as we move through wounding days. Despite all that frightens or wearies us, there is much to celebrate in our hearts and with others. Let us return to ancient advice that brings light to our darkness and joy to our hearts.

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James 5:19-20: Harvest of Hope

Monday, November 2, 2015HarvestLogo

My dear friends . . .

What are we to make of James’ letter to us? How does he frame his closing remarks?

If you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth . . .

And surely we must know someone who is broken or abandoned. And just as surely we will know someone who is full of pride and over-confident.

Don’t write them off . . .

thorn heart bibleThis may be difficult. James has asked us to find a way to communicate with those whose anxiety or pride have put them out of our reach; yet James admonishes us.

Go after them . . .

We have no excuses. James wants to see our faith played out in our works.

Get them back . . .

James wants to see us as wounded healers, as a light in the darkness, as salt for the earth.

And you will have rescued precious lives from destruction . . .

James urges us to bring hope to and out of those who despair and those who shun God.

And you will have prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God . . .

James urges us to look for God’s image in others. He asks that we continue to commit our work and our prayer to God as we struggle to unlock the goodness waiting to rise from so many wounded souls. He asks us to participate fully in God’s outrageous and daring harvest of hope.

Tomorrow, a prayer for harvesting hope.

Use the scripture link to find other versions of these verses from THE MESSAGE. 

 

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Pompeo Batoni: St. Paul

Pompeo Batoni: St. Paul

New Year’s Day

Thursday

January 1, 2015

Joy and Discipleship

Romans 14-15

 The New Testament brings us the good news that God has come to live among us, has died as one of us and has risen from the dead as one of us. Paul tells us that with Christ there is always hope when we sink into doubt, light when we walk in darkness, and joy when we suffer sorrow.

Paul speaks to the Romans two thousand years ago, and he also speaks to us today. His life as a disciple was difficult and yet Paul shares with us the great joy he experiences in his travail.

The apostle Paul says: For the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace, and joy in the holy Spirit. (Romans 14:17)

God says: The world of corruption, greed and warfare is the kingdom as you have constructed for yourselves. When you live in me this world becomes one of righteousness, peace and joy. I know that this is difficult for you to believe but just one of you can make a difference; and if two or more of you come together in my name, your light will pierce the darkness. 

The follower of Christ, Paul says: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

God says: The life of sadness, pain and sorrow is the life you have fashioned for yourself. When you place your days and years in my hands you live the potential I have dreamed for you. If you are overcome, seek help. If you are overwhelmed, find others who are determined to live in peace rather than revenge. If two or more of you gather in my name, your prayer converts harm to good. 

The sharer of Christ’s work and work, Paul says: I urge you, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in the struggle by your prayers to God on my behalf, that I may be delivered from the disobedient, and that my ministry may be acceptable so that I may come to you with joy by the will of God and be refreshed together with you. The God of peace be with all of you. Amen. (Romans 15:30-32)

God says: The struggles you experience are opportunities to discover new strength in one another and in my Spirit. The ministry you live is a new opening to life in Christ. The prayer you offer is reliance on my strength and fidelity. When you bring me your sorrows and your fears you step into the depths of my love . . . you become one in your brother Christ, and you rise to live again in the Spirit, converting the pain of the world to celebration. Come, and follow me . . .

joyToday Paul speaks to us to bring us the hope and joy and word of God. Let us set aside a bit of time tonight before the close of this first day of the new year to decide how we will respond. How will we share with others the good news that the depths and heights and breadth of darkness will always be overcome by the light of Christ’s joy? How will we strengthen ourselves and others in Christ?

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar. You may want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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