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Posts Tagged ‘liturgy’


1 Corinthians 11Imitators of Christ

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Written on January 29 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Vermeer: Christ in the house of Martha and Mary

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.  Ephesians 5:1-2

You became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you became a model in Macedonia and in Achaia . . . For you became imitators in God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: you suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered.  1 Thessalonians 1:6, 2:14

This portion of 1 Corinthians deals with problems in liturgical assembles; the church Paul established in Corinth was experiencing difficulties in maintaining the customs instituted by the apostle and so he writes to counsel them.  He encourages them to remember who they are and all that God has given them; he asks them to serve as good models of Christian living – even though he, Paul, is not with them.  He asks that they call upon their faith in Christ’s promise to be with them always in the offering of bread and wine.  He asks that they put aside the corrupt ways they have allowed the creep into their spiritual practices.

Samaritan Woman

Some of what we read is troublesome when we look on these words from our place in the twenty-first century.  Commentary tells us that Paul’s attitude toward women was in concert with the thinking of that day.  Fundamentalists take these words literally and diminish women to a status below men.  Most scholars today aver that if Paul were living in our world he would give women equal status with men.  But rather than focus on some of Paul’s words here, what we can focus on is the way Christ himself treated women, beginning with his own mother, and the sisters of his friend Lazarus, Mary and Martha.  It is clear from the Gospel stories that the Samaritan Woman in John 4, the woman with the hemorrhage in Matthew 9, Mark 5, and Luke 8, the Canaanite/Syrophonecian woman in Matthew 15, and Mark 7, the woman crippled by a spirit for thirteen years in Luke 13, the woman caught in adultery in John 8 are all important to Jesus.  He uses women in his parables in Matthew 13, for example – The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough and in Luke 15 with the woman and the lost coin.  There are other instances but these few serve to show the respect with which Christ treated women and this is what we are called to model.

Bernardino Luini: Mary Magdalene

As Paul writes to the Corinthians – and to us today – about how we misuse and even abuse the gift of presence God gives to us each day either through the Eucharist or in any other form, we might remind ourselves that while we strive to imitate Christ perfectly we will miss the mark frequently.  And as we read through the many stories we have about Jesus, we find one thing in common: Jesus loves us all, greatly and deeply.  This is what Paul calls us to imitate.  This is what we can strive to be and do.  This is the person we can follow no matter our circumstance, gender, or status.  This is all that God asks of us.  This and nothing more.


A re-post from November 27, 2011.

Images from: http://thesisterproject.com/sisterpedia/fiction-as-a-cure-for-sister-rifts-throwing-the-book-at-bad-behavior/ http://www.haverford.edu/relg/faculty/amcguire/marymimages.htm 

http://blog.beliefnet.com/beyondblue/2011/03/the-samaritan-woman-loneliness.html 

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Solomon's Temple

Solomon’s Temple

Nehemiah 12:44-47

Their Due Portion

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A reprise from October 28, 2013.

The whole of Israel used to give the cantors and gatekeepers their due portion for each day.

Nehemiah describes not only the restoration of the Temple when the exiles return from their place of deportation; Nehemiah also explains that the rites and rituals were also restored.  All those who officiate at liturgies are to receive their due portion.  In return, the Levites, the sons of Aaron and all those who make liturgy possible are to perform their duties.  Nehemiah not only rebuilt walls and external structures, he rebuilt internal structures as well.

The Second Temple

Nehemiah’s Temple

God says: Each of you deserves your due portion.  When you insist on having less or more you upset your natural balance.  When you take more than your share you deny others of the goodness I have in store for them.  When you take less, you deny the gift you are to the world.  When you corrupt yourself or others you corrupt the vessel that contains hope for the world.  When you deny yourself or others you also deny me. Carry out the task shown to you.  Fulfill the hope planted in you.  Come to me with your questions and concerns.  Rather than take more or less than is meant for you, rather than fill your barns to bursting or depleting your energies until you are fully spent . . . receive your due portion and remain in the truth.  This is where your true treasure lies.

Jesus reminds us that the measure we measure with is measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38) He also reminds us that where our heart lies, there will be our treasure.  (Luke 12:34)

For more information on the duties of gatekeepers, go to: http://prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/gatekeepers-watchmen-you-are-to-speak-out-the-lord-has-called-you-out-to-be-bold-today/

For more information on the Second Temple, click on the image of Nehemiah’s Temple or go to: http://michaelruark.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/there-is-enough-room-for-both/

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joyFriday, November 14, 2014

Ezra 3

Joy and Worship

We move further into scripture looking for stories of joy that continue to surprise us. To explore other stories, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our story is taken from the Book of Ezra.

After the Babylonian captivity and exile, after the scattering of the twelve tribes to the corners of the known earth, after the loss of hope that those who go out weeping will return rejoicing . . . the faithful receive word that they are to return to Jerusalem.  Two leaders, Ezra and Nehemiah, the priest and the administrator, lead the faithful in a journey of reunion and transformation. As with all people who remain open to the power of the Spirit and the healing of God’s presence, these returning exiles gather to worship Yahweh once again. And they know great joy in abundance.

Ezra 3:12: Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.

scroll_610x300Can we imagine the sound of joy that might rise to the skies if we were to thank God for all that we have and all that we are? Can we fathom the power we already hold in our minds and hands if we give all our great and petty worries over to Christ? Can we picture the compassion and healing that we might experience and then share with the world if we open our hearts to the Spirit that already dwells within?

God says: You are rightly focused on the daily task of survival but imagine if you were to trust me more and your own resources less? Do you see how much you have already gained? Can you imagine how much you are yet to receive? My servant Paul reminds my followers in Corinth that “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”. (1 Corinthians 2:9) And this is so. Today you read about how the faithful returned to me and celebrated with liturgy. Do you know how much it means to me when you join my Son, our Spirit and me in beautiful liturgies of Word and Eucharist? Do you know that I have wonderful plans for you? Plans for joy and not for woe? When you doubt, open scripture to see how many times I have already rescued my people. Open your lives and remember how often I have already saved you. Will I not love you even more as our relationship deepens? Will I not bring you even more joy? Have I not already told you that all of this is so?

scroll-mAs we consider today’s Noontime, let us also consider how we might approach liturgies with a new energy. If we do not belong to a worship community, let us explore the possibility of finding or creating one. And if we long to find union that lasts, let us commit to entering fully into our worship community with a new expectation of finding great joy.

To learn more about Ezra and Nehemiah, spend time with the stories in these two books. Enter their names in the blog search bar and explore. Click on the images for other reflections. Or use the scripture link to compare different Bible versions of these verses. 

For a better understanding of these Books, go to: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/e/ezra-nehemiah.htm 

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

 

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Solomon's Temple

Solomon’s Temple

Nehemiah 12:44-47

Their Due Portion

The whole of Israel used to give the cantors and gatekeepers their due portion for each day.

Nehemiah describes not only the restoration of the Temple when the exiles return from their place of deportation; Nehemiah also explains that the rites and rituals were also restored.  All those who officiate at liturgies are to receive their due portion.  In return, the Levites, the sons of Aaron and all those who make liturgy possible are to perform their duties.  Nehemiah not only rebuilt walls and external structures, he rebuilt internal structures as well.

The Second Temple

Nehemiah’s Temple

God says: Each of you deserves your due portion.  When you insist on having less or more you upset your natural balance.  When you take more than your share you deny others of the goodness I have in store for them.  When you take less, you deny the gift you are to the world.  When you corrupt yourself or others you corrupt the vessel that contains hope for the world.  When you deny yourself or others you also deny me. Carry out the task shown to you.  Fulfill the hope planted in you.  Come to me with your questions and concerns.  Rather than take more or less than is meant for you, rather than fill your barns to bursting or depleting your energies until you are fully spent . . . receive your due portion and remain in the truth.  This is where your true treasure lies.

Jesus reminds us that the measure we measure with is measured out to us.  (Luke 6:38) He also reminds us that where our heart lies, there will be our treasure.  (Luke 12:34)

For more information on the duties of gatekeepers, go to: http://prepareforthelamb.wordpress.com/2012/05/15/gatekeepers-watchmen-you-are-to-speak-out-the-lord-has-called-you-out-to-be-bold-today/

For more information on the Second Temple, click on the image of Nehemiah’s Temple or go to: http://michaelruark.wordpress.com/2013/01/10/there-is-enough-room-for-both/

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Monday, August 12, 2013

Fotolia_15298270_XS-300x200[1]Hebrews 4:12

Sabbath Reward

The word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart.  No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account. 

We hear this Word read out to us and parsed for us; we celebrate and sing the Word in liturgy.   This word tells us how to struggle, how to live, how to celebrate and how to die.  Do we need to hear anything more to understand how we are to live and how we are measured?  Nothing is hidden.  All is revealed.  God is within us even to the tiny spaces between bone and marrow, even in the invisible place of soul and spirit.  So what do we do to nurture and sustain this presence?  When do come together to declare that . . . this is good?

God says: Can you imagine the glorious sounds I hear when you gather to celebrate and worship in liturgy?  Do you understand how important it is for you to come together to focus your minds on my Word and to bring me your petitions, your sorrows and your joys?  Are you willing to put aside small squabbles so that you might join your voices, minds and hearts in communion for me?  I rested after bringing forth creation.  I ask that you rest on the Sabbath and celebrate with others as you come to me.  The rewards for you will be greater than you can imagine.

We are creatures created by God to worship and yet we turn so often to what we see and hear around us.  What do our eyes see most?  What do our ears hear most?  What does our soul take up most from the resources we make available to it?  It takes an effort to move away from the typical and close-to-hand objects of worship – clothes, house, lawn, garden, food, car, vacation, career, success, wealth – to turn to what truly sustains – love in and of God as we find God in ourselves and in one another, alone and in communion with others.

We believe that when we die, we will be united in Christ in a new way.  What do we do to prepare ourselves for this communion?   How do we train our spirit to recognize and to participate in the greatest Sabbath rest of all . . . the eternal rest of our soul in God?  We will want to make time for our instruction and nourishment by the Word today.  And when we participate in this Sabbath Rest, let us take a moment to observe God’s work, to declare that it is all good . . . for the joy that arrives with this knowing will be our Sabbath Reward.

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Sabbath Rest


Sunday, August 11, 2013

sab-rst[1]Hebrews 4

Sabbath Rest

We have reflected on a number of occasions in our Noontime journey that it is important to retreat from time to time in order to recoup energy and reorient ourselves.  We have looked at the many times the Gospel writers tell us that Jesus goes off, retreats, takes the apostles aside, steps back, is in the temple, prays  . . . speaks with God.  Yesterday we recalled the simplicity of God’s plan and numbered four steps we might take that bring us to a more intimate and more immediate sense of God in our daily lives.  Today we hear about the importance of liturgy and of taking Sabbath time for Sabbath Rest – a time when even God sits back to survey the work of creation . . . and to declare it all good.

The writer of Hebrews calls us back to Psalm 95 to ask: If today you hear God’s voice, harden not your hearts.  We might better hear this voice of God if we have a soft and open heart that we prepare by exercising it liturgically.  We are reminded of a recent article telling us that scientists have discovered how our brains are wired for liturgy http://ncronline.org/news/faith-parish/our-brains-are-wired-liturgy and so now on a quiet Sunday afternoon . . .

Let us imagine how different our lives might be if on one day of the week the world might stand down from conflict long enough to reflect on our origins and purpose.

Let us imagine how different our lives might be if on one day of the week the world might stand down from greed long enough to give thanks for all we have.

Let us imagine how different our lives might be if on one day of the week the world might put aside jealousy and envy long enough to realize that all that we have we are meant to share.

Let us imagine how different our lives might be if on one day of the week the world might put aside old hatreds and feuds long enough to see that the place to take these burdens is to God alone.

Even God rests . . . so why do we fill every minute of every day with activity?  Why do we put off going aside with Jesus to pray a little while?  Why do we neglect liturgy so that our brains languish and wither from lack of proper sustenance?

Tomorrow, the word as a two-edged sword.

Adapted from a reflection first written on March 21, 2010.

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