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Exodus 2:6: Behold the Child

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Edwin Longsden Long: The Finding of Moses

Edwin Longsden Long: The Finding of Moses

In this final week of Advent, let us decide to make our hopes tangible, our dreams a prayer for our reality, our faith unwavering and our love secure. Let us cleave to the Creator, follow the Redeemer and rest in the Spirit. This week let us give one another the gift of preparing for the very real promise of eternity.

The Old Testament prepares us for a child born in dangerous circumstances who will later save a nation.

When the daughter of Pharaoh opened the basket, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” (NRSV)

The story of the Hebrew captivity in Egypt prepares us to be a people in exile.

The princess opened the basket and saw a baby boy. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said. (GNT)

The story of the Hebrew Exodus to a place of promise prepares us to be a pilgrim church.

She opened the basket and looked inside, and there in front of her was a crying baby boy! Moved with pity, she said, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children.” (CJB)

The story of the foreign princess nurturing a child who will rescue a nation prepares us for God’s promises.

Pharaoh’s daughter came down to the Nile to bathe; her maidens strolled on the bank. She saw the basket-boat floating in the reeds and sent her maid to get it. She opened it and saw the child—a baby crying! Her heart went out to him. She said, “This must be one of the Hebrew babies.” (MSG)

Behold, God uses the marginalized to reveal the false security of the center.

When we reflect on other translations of the Moses story, we understand that God speaks to always with stories of inversion. And we realize that our own story must stand on its head if it is to align with the story of Christ.

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Acts 17: Uproar – Part II

Thursday, October 6, 2016order-chaos

A Favorite from September 28, 2009.

We do not want to stir or foment division.  As Christians and as those who live in the light we want to be able to say that we have added to the world’s serenity and not caused unhealthy competition; but when “serenity” is used to avoid doing and saying what needs doing and saying, this is not God’s uproar we initiate, it is the darkness.  We enter into God’s uproar when the marginalized are included, when bridges are built and wounds are healed.  Once we begin to look carefully at the tumult around us, we realize that there is a fine difference between chaos with its attendant prejudices and God’s uproar.  We see the former as the work of darkness; the latter as the work of the Holy Spirit.

When we become doers of the word and not hearers only, as St. James tells us in his letter, we also call people out of their comfort zones.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we ask questions about our own treasure trove, as Matthew and Peter suggest we do, we also ask others to think about the value of the wealth they have amassed.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we meet and overcome our own fears and do what others are afraid to do, we cause God’s uproar.

When we live in true charity with one another to pray for our enemies and when we refuse to conform to corruption, we cause God’s uproar.

When we insist on being open to possibilities without giving in to abuse, we cause God’s uproar.

When we tell of the marvels that God has wrought in our own lives, we cause God’s uproar.

Like Paul, when we enter a town and begin to tell the marvelous news that we do not have to retain the chains that imprison our bodies, minds and souls, we can expect pandemonium.  It is up to us to examine the din and the tumult to discover its origin, and if the upheaval is God’s we only need persevere and hold tightly to our hope.  Sometimes, like Paul, we will move on to the next town or to the next situation; but always – even through the devastation of earthquakes and the violence of storms – we will be accompanied by light . . . we will know that we have entered into God’s uproar . . . and that all will be well.

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Acts 17: Uproar – Part II

Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 8, 2016

E.O. WIlson

E.O. Wilson

Unhealthy competition brings about a kind of chaos in the sound; it becomes impossible to find inner peace and community serenity. How then, can we see God’s presence in the work of Paul, a former persecutor of Jesus’ followers? How then do we understand the kind of uproar that Jesus’ life and words so often engender?

Each time we stand up for the marginalized, we bring about God’s uproar. When bridges are built over chaos and disarray, when wounds are healed, when differences reconciled, we enter in God’s uproar.  Once we look carefully at the tumult around us, we begin to realize that there is a fine difference the chaos of darkness with its attendant prejudices, the transformation of God’s uproar.

When we become doers of the word and not hearers only, as St. James tells us in his letter, we call people out of their comfort zones.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we ask questions about our own treasure trove, as Matthew and Peter suggest we do, we also ask others to think about the value of the wealth they have amassed.  We cause God’s uproar.

When we meet and overcome our own fears and do what others are afraid to do, we cause God’s uproar.

When we live in true charity with one another to pray for our enemies, when we refuse to conform to corruption, we cause God’s uproar.

When we insist on being open to possibilities without giving in to abuse, we cause God’s uproar.

When we tell of the marvels that God has wrought in our own lives, when we insist on reminding ourselves and others of Christ’s good news, we cause God’s uproar.

wild-map-640Like Paul, when we enter a town and begin to tell the marvelous news that we do not have to retain the chains that imprison our bodies, minds and souls, we can expect pandemonium.  It is up to us to examine the din and the tumult to discover its origin, and if the upheaval is God’s we only need persevere and hold tightly to our hope.  Sometimes, like Paul, we will move on to the next town or to the next situation; but always – even through the devastation of earthquakes and the violence of storms – we will be accompanied by Christ’s light . . . we will know that we have entered into God’s uproar . . . and that all will be well.

Adapted from a favorite written in September 28, 2009.

Consider God’s uproar and read the NY Times review of  Half-Earth: Our Planet’s Fight for Life by O.E. Wilson, biologist. Wilson is professor emeritus at Harvard and the winner of two Pulitzer prizes. Or consider the Audubon Society’s perspective at: https://www.audubon.org/magazine/september-october-2015/eo-wilson-wants-us-leave-half-earth

Visit the EO Wilson Foundation, click on the images above for more information, or watch a PBS episode on Wilson’s bold proposal at: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/how-to-save-life-on-earth-according-to-e-o-wilson/ 

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Luke 2:41-51: Found

jesus in the temple as a child

Tintoretto: The Finding of the Savior in the Temple

Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016

Today’s familiar story foreshadows the conflict that will take place in Jesus’ adult years when his message of God’s mercy brings the wrath of leaders against him, and lays the fate of creation in his hands. As a child, Jesus remains in Jerusalem after Passover to converse with temple elders. Discovered by his parents, he goes home to live obediently with them. The child Jesus dazzles leaders and yet lives in humility. The child Jesus knows that God is in charge.

Coptic Icon of the Transfiguration of Christ

Coptic Icon: Transfiguration of Christ

The man Jesus goes up to the mountain to experience his own transfiguration, but he does not go alone. He takes two friends who later testify to this beautiful experience on the mountain top. The man Jesus confounds his friends and yet delivers the expectation that his kingdom is here and now. The man Jesus knows that God’s outrageous hope is essential to human existence.

The prophet Jesus brings healing and confidence to the marginalized and forgotten. He escapes the crowd by disappearing over the brow of the hill. He slips through the fingers of those who would obliterate him. He challenges our beliefs and our doubts. The prophet Jesus knows that God’s enduring faith is critical in the human journey.

The risen Jesus defies all laws of physics and logic to bring hope to the abandoned and faith to the desperate. He hands himself over to the authorities who despise him. He suffers meekly at the hands of his enemies whom he calls to goodness. He offers the gift of healing and solace to all of creation. Christ Jesus knows that God’s enormous love is crucial in our human lives.

messiah has comeOn this Palm Sunday we reflect on the Passion story in one or all of the Gospels. As we enter into this holiest of weeks, let us remember our Lenten practices while we journey up to Jerusalem. As we near our Easter home, let us pray, meditate and remember that once we were fearful, and now we rest in Christ. Once we doubted and now we believe. Once we were lost and now, like the child Jesus, we are found.

For a video message from musician Matt Maher about the significance of Palm Sunday and how palms were a sign of rebellion in the Roman Empire, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rbHHqPAwcIM 

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Luke 9:22-25: Taking Care

Thursday, February 11, 20162009-02-microaggression_tcm7-74510

Jesus: Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. 

Jesus advises that although his way is genuine it is also difficult. Yesterday we remembered that in order to build the goodness of the kingdom we must take care to keep our eyes on Christ rather than success, wealth or fame. Today we hear Jesus’ words again and we understand that in order to build with Jesus we must exercise great care when we follow the open Way of Christ.

Today we take a look at the idea of microaggression, or everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership”. (from Diversity in the Classroom, UCLA Diversity & Faculty Development, 2014)

The University of Californian has published a tool to recognize microaggressions and the messages they send. For a copy, go to: http://www.ucop.edu/academic-personnel-programs/_files/seminars/Tool_Recognizing_Microaggressions.pdf This tool is adapted from Derald Wing Sue,’s work, Microaggressions in Everyday Life: Race, Gender and Sexual Orientation, Wiley & Sons, 2010.

To listen to a public radio podcast of an interview with Columbia University Professot Derald Wing Sue, visit: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/what-is-a-microaggression/ We learn how microaggressions impact people and what we can do to stop them.

See also a dictionary reference: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/microaggression

Click on the image above to visit: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/02/microaggression.aspx 

We take care to remember our Lenten practice for the week: Rather than thinking, “This will not work,” let us say instead, “If you say so, Lord”.

Tomorrow, fasting.

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James 1:26-27: Reaching Out

Monday, October 5, 2015beadoeroftheword

We benefit from James’ clarity at the end of this first chapter. How do we become doers of the Word and not sayers onlyWhat does it take to enter into solid and holy relationships with others? Humility, honesty, and care for the marginalized.

Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

In these opening verses James gives us a view of the whole person who enters into the work of the kingdom with a full heart and willing hands. We do more than we say. We give more than we receive. We look to God for all things rather than looking to the world.

Use the scripture link to compare different versions of these verses, and allow the humility and truth of Christ to govern your day.

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Matthew 9:18-26: Two Womeno-BIBLICAL-WOMEN-facebook

May 19, 2015

And the news of this spread throughout the land.

In a world that often discounts or neglects women, this story has much to tell us.

First, although in the ancient world – and in some parts of our modern world today – women count for little more than livestock or a good hunting dog, Jesus clearly values women.

We must consider how we respond to those who have little or no value to the world.

Second, reflecting on the juxtaposition of a vibrant young woman and a woman well along in years, we watch Jesus as he tends to both of them.

We must consider how we respond to those who are outside of our social loops and circles of acceptance.

Third, coming from two separate classes, these women both benefit from Jesus’ loving attention.

We must consider how we respond to those in power and those who live and move in our shadow.

Fourth, Jesus’ actions of loving acceptance are so unusual that the news of this spread throughout the land.

We must consider when and how and why we respond – or do not respond – to Christ’s call to care for one another, to accept one another and even to heal one another in his name.

As we reflect on the resurrection of an official’s daughter and the healing of the hemorrhaging woman, let us remember how quickly the good news of Jesus’ interactions spreads. And let us also reflect on our willingness – or unwillingness – to tell the story of the good news about these two women.

Use the scripture link above to compare versions of this story.

Enter the word tassel into the blog search bar and explore other posts.

Or visit the Tassels on Our Cloaks Noontime at : https://thenoontimes.com/2011/09/10/the-tassels-on-our-cloaks/

Click on the image above for a Huffington Post article on biblical women and Easter.

 

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Matthew 8:1-4: Leprosy

Jean-Marie Melchior Doze: Jesus Healing the Leper

Jean-Marie Melchior Doze: Jesus Healing the Leper

May 11, 2015

Jesus does not keep himself away and apart from those who are considered to be unclean; rather, he wades in among the tumult and confusion of everyday life to bring healing where there is sorrow, order where there is chaos, and love where there is hate. We might consider such work ourselves and as we do, we might reflect on the answers to these questions: Who among us are the lepers in our society, who are the healers who transform lives with kind words and merciful gestures, and who among us will testify to the value and worth of those who live along the edge?

Today we encourage one another to steer away from identifying someone with their disease and so in our modern world we tell this story using the words the man or woman or child with leprosy so as not to condemn anyone a permanent identification with their condition. While we reflect on this thought, let us also consider the many names we have for others that pigeon-hole them an eternal status from which they cannot escape or redeem themselves.

Use the scripture link to compare various versions of these verses as we remember times when we were pigeon-holed . . . or times when we pigeon-holed others.

Enter the word leprosy in the blog search bar and reflect on who lives along the margins of our lives.

 

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Second Sunday of Advent

jwelcom[1]December 8, 2013

Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12

Welcome

Not by appearance shall he judge, nor by hearsay shall he decide, but he shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright by the land’s afflicted.

Isaiah shows us a vision of God’s Kingdom and of the world as it might be.  We are welcome to paint our own images upon this enormous canvas of hope.  The prophet describes a dominion the hunters live peacefully with their prey.  A child plays near a venomous serpent; division, harm and ruin have come to an end.  Our superficial system of judging and choosing no long functions.  God’s justice sees what is in the heart and mind.  Our empty gestures are seen for what they are, hollow hope, false hospitality and silly pandering.  We forget that those who live on the margins are the closest to God’s heart.  When we exclude the poorest among us we exclude Christ.

What might we do to welcome this vision of the kingdom in honesty?  How might we welcome Christ as generously as he has welcomed us?

Edward Hicks: The Peaceable Kingdom

Edward Hicks: The Peaceable Kingdom

Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God.

Paul speaks to an audience in conflict; his listeners and readers have allowed petty differences to divide them and they have openly ignored the beauty and wealth of God’s offer of this peaceable Kingdom.  With clear reason Paul presents his cogent argument: God’s Kingdom is not a club with rules; rather, it is a state of being in which everyone speaks the Language of Love.

How might we examine our own actions and thoughts to root out our pettiness?  How might we nurture our growth in God’s Law of Love?

Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance. 

In the end there is one sure way to know if we are hearing, speaking and acting in God’s love: our personal yardstick is the fruit our labor bears.  If we call on candor and patient waiting, we will quickly see how much we welcome the Christ in others and how much we exclude.

lion and lambDo we invite everyone to learn about Jesus by the way we live?  Do we chase away lions and bears assuming that they do not belong in the Kingdom?  Do we exclude adders and vipers because we cannot see their potential for change?  Do we welcome only those who look and act and believe as we do?

On this Second Sunday of Advent we are welcomed by Christ – along with countless billions – to prepare for his arrival.  Let us ready our hearts and our minds to receive the greatest gift of all time and space – the gift of an amazing Kingdom, the gift of unbelievable peace, the gift of Christ’s universal welcome.

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