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Posts Tagged ‘light in the darkness’


Psalm 112: The Just

Saturday, March 30, 2019

I have never noticed this before and now that I have, I cannot stop thinking about it.  Light shines in the darkness for the upright . . .  God knows that those who follow him, those try to enact his commandment of love, those who are merciful and full of compassion will inevitably be subjected to the darkness.  They will be hounded by the wicked.  They will have to struggle to get out from under the bushel basket where they have been hidden.  Earlier this week my daughter and I were discussing how sad it is that once people begin to shine with God’s goodness an army of naysayers attempts to douse the light they produce. And yesterday in a meeting the theme appeared again: What do we do when those who prefer power, fame and money begin to overtake the righteous?  We might turn to the Gospel and then reflect with Psalm 112.  As always, we will answers when we seek them.

We reflect on Matthew 10:34-42, Luke 14:26 and John 12:25.

Jesus warns us that following him is difficult; he also tells us that we are well rewarded.  Jesus reminds us that his followers will suffer; he also tells us that we will experience great joy.  Jesus asks us if we are ready to follow; he also asks if we are ready to drink from the cup of salvation.

Those who act in Christ are never bereft.  They experience and share with others the great mercy God has bestowed upon them.  Let us remember that when we choose to follow Christ we will find ourselves swallowed up by great darkness . . . yet we will not be alone . . . and we will be rescued.

And so we pray . . .

For all those times we speak although we are fearful . . . All goes well for those who conduct their affairs with justice.

For all those times we step forward to be counted among the few . . . The just shall not fear an ill report.

For all those times we act in the Gospel . . . They shall never be shaken.

For all those times we are shattered and broken yet struggle to stand . . . The just will be remembered forever.

For all those times we cry out for God’s help . . . The just shine through the darkness, a light for the upright.  

For all those times when discipleship separates us from those we love . . . Their descendents shall be mighty in the land.

For all those times we are uncertain and full of doubt . . . The hearts of the just are tranquil, without fear.

Let us join the ranks of the just, receive God’s blessing, and shine through the darkness with God’s light.  Amen.


A re-post from March 30, 2012.

Image from: http://explore1984-a.blogspot.com/2011/02/what-is-that-light-in-darkness.html

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2 Corinthians 4:1-6Scrupulous Honesty

Friday, December 21, 2018

Honesty: Robert E. Harney

We have renounced shameful, hidden things . . .  

Just recently in my workplace we have undergone a quality review by visitors from outside our community and we have been commended for our integrity.  This comes at no small cost.  It takes scrupulous honesty to peel away the sham and artifice in order to allow the gentle truth to emerge.  This kind of deep and searching honesty is frequently an unwelcome guest of the heart.  We shrink from repentance; we do not want to change.  We prefer the walls we have constructed that block out any fear that might cause us to change for the better.  We must move away from all hidden agendas and come into the light.

We have not acted deceitfully or falsified the word of God . . .

Just recently in my family we have suffered a soul-shattering loss and we continue to struggle with ourselves and with one another.  Truths must be pronounced but gently . . . kindly . . . mercifully.  The enormity of our grief might cause us to hide, or it may impel us to strike out at one another.  It is possible to nurse sad feelings or harbor grief; we may possibly ignore the growth that our suffering offers.  Or we might grow in wisdom as we allow the Spirit to open and heal us.  We might allow our divinity to teach us about our humanity.  In order to find union with God and mend our broken spirit, we must remove ourselves from deceit and we must allow God’s truth to guide us.  And we must do this lovingly . . . gratefully.

By the open declaration of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God . . .

As humans we tend to think that we exist in isolation.  The skin that contains our organs prevents us from physically occupying the space someone else holds.  We live in the illusion that we can hide from one another.  We allow small lies to color our stories, our perspectives and our opinions.  We forget that all that we are and all that we do are of and from God.  We live in the illusion that we create ourselves when the scrupulous truth is that we are co-creators of life with God.   When we move away from sham and artifice we can see all of this more clearly.  And when we spend time with God to sort through our sorrows, we become less frightened, less egocentric.  We become more loving, more vulnerable.  We become the promise God has hoped for us.

We do not preach ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord . . . and ourselves as your slaves for the sake of Jesus.

When we spend time worrying about ourselves and not others we have the wrong end of the stick.  God creates us to serve one another rather than be served.  God wants us to tend to one another rather than to be tended.  We are created to advocate for others . . . not to hide from, lie to, deceive or trample others. When we become slaves for the sake of Christ Jesus we begin to fulfill our potential.  We prepare ourselves in the best way possible for our union with God.

For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to bring to light the knowledge of the glory of God on the face of Jesus Christ.

We are created to make known God’s goodness to others, and it is our scrupulous honesty that opens us to God’s light.  It is in this way that we become a fearless, grateful, authentic revelation of God’s love.


A re-post from November 18, 2011.

Image from: http://www.robert-e-harney.com/picpages/Honesty.htm

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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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