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Posts Tagged ‘mercy’


Luke 6:36-38: Our God-Created Identity

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Why must we be cautious in judging others?

Be merciful just as your Father is merciful. (GNT)

Who is our model in this difficult challenge?

Show compassion, just as your Father shows compassion. (CJB)

What do we gain by refraining from judging?

I tell you, love your enemies. Help and give without expecting a return. You’ll never—I promise—regret it. Live out this God-created identity the way our Father lives toward us, generously and graciously, even when we’re at our worst. Our Father is kind; you be kind. (MSG)

Is the promise of union with Christ in his love of enemies enough for us? Does kindness hold the same allure as power, fame and wealth?

As we compare varying versions of Jesus’ words, we continue to consider where we put our concerns and how we act on them; and we reflect on how we live out our God-created identity.

Pierre Subleyras: Christ at the House of Simon the Pharisee

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Psalm 9: The Book of God’s Wonders

Monday, March 6, 2017psalms9_2-31

The MESSAGE version of this psalm speaks to us in our core. Anyone who has been wronged, anyone who has suffered injustice of any kind, anyone who looks for refuge in the storm of life will smile as they read these verses.

I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders. I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy; I’m singing your song, High God.

What are the miracles of our relationship with God will we want to enter into the Book of God’s Wonders?

The day my enemies turned tail and ran, they stumbled on you and fell on their faces. You throw dirty players out of the game, wipe their names right off the roster. Enemies disappear from the sidelines, their reputation trashed, their names erased from the halls of fame.

We look for the patience to allow God’s plan to blossom and flourish.

God holds the high center, God sees and sets the world’s mess right. God’s a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you’re never sorry you knocked.

We pray for the hope we will need to remember God’s promise of safety, and we pray for the courage to knock at heaven’s door as Jesus tells us we must.

Sing your songs to Zion-dwelling God, tell God’s stories to everyone you meet: How God tracks down killers yet keeps an eye on us, registers every whimper and moan.

We pray for the fortitude to weather the storm, knowing that although the horizon is dark, God navigates our lives.

psalm-9_18Be kind to me, God; I’ve been kicked around long enough. Once you’ve pulled me back from the gates of death, I’ll write the book on Hallelujahs; on the corner of Main and First I’ll hold a street meeting; I’ll be the song leader; we’ll fill the air with salvation songs.

We pray for the courage to thank God in public and to share the stories we list in the Book of God’s Wonders.

They’re trapped, those godless, in the very snares they set, their feet all tangled in the net they spread. They have no excuse; the way God works is well-known. The cunning machinery made by the wicked has maimed their own hands.

We remember to intercede for those who would harm us.

The wicked bought a one-way ticket to hell. No longer will the poor be nameless—no more humiliation for the humble.

We ask for mercy for our enemies, and the grace to step away from the temptation to seek revenge.

Up, God! Aren’t you fed up with their empty strutting? Expose these grand pretensions! Shake them up, God! Show them how silly they look.

We ask God to steer us clear of all pretension. We ask that Christ lead us in the ways of the just. And we ask that the Holy Spirit abide in us forever, as we proclaim the wonders God has wrought for us.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to compare other translations of this Psalm, we discover that we have a great deal to record in The Book of God’s Wonders, and to share with all the world. 

 

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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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1 Samuel 25: The Inverted Kingdom – Part VII

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Jacob Willemsz de Wet the Elder: The Meeting of David and Abigail

Jacob Willemsz de Wet the Elder: The Meeting of David and Abigail

Yesterday we spent time with David, Saul, Nabal and Abigail. Today we examine the life of Jesus and how or if it influences our own inverted lives.

Jesus comes to tell us that when we lose, we win, and when we win, we lose.  St. Paul reminds us that when we are weak, we are strong and when we are strong, we are weak.  Intellectually we might come to understand that when we die we live and we live we die, but it takes spiritual fortitude to live a life of inversion.  If we can stand back, let God operate, listen for God’s voice, we are able to cooperate with God.  As we pray, wait and communicate with God . . . we achieve God’s purpose in us.

Julius Kronberg: David and Saul

Julius Kronberg: David and Saul

We can take a lesson from Nabal, Abigail, David and Saul.  We see different courses of action open to us in the lives of these four people.  And if we are honest, we can see that we have the same options. We can choose to reject God for the sake of self, or to abandon self in order to do God’s will.  As we see today, each of us is free to opt in or out of God’s plan.

So this is all that God asks of us: to act only in God’s interest rather than our own, to do only God’s justice rather than take revenge or hold grudges, to bring hope to the hopeless rather than succumb to despair, and to love as God loves . . . with compassion in place of leniency, with mercy and understanding instead of possessive control and manipulation.

So what does God’s inverted kingdom offer and how do these stories show us God’s hope in us? God wants only our best, our purest, our humblest selves. God wants only to share hope with us. And God wants us to be completely free to choose this marvelous plan of inversion and love.

 

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1 Maccabees 8: Peace

Monday, October 10, 2016

Gladiators in the time of Pax Romana

Gladiators in the time of Pax Romana

Adapted from a Favorite written on February 15, 2009.

Some of us are expert at allowing the charade of peace to play out for a lifetime.  We smile stiffly and turn a blind eye to a friend or family member who revels in behavior which the world sees as unhealthy.  We have become adept at turning away conveniently when someone in power acts in abusive and addictive ways.  If we did not actually see the behavior, we tell ourselves, it is not there.  We somehow delude ourselves into thinking that the power plays acted out between others will never be turned on us, and for that reason we sink to stroking the abuser rather than rebuking the act.

The symbols of Jewish worship carried off by conquerors

The instruments of Jewish worship are carried off by conquerors.

The Maccabees sought to create an atmosphere in which they might worship God freely; but they were unable to see that the power they thought might protect them would, in the end, turn in on them.  They, like so many of us, believed that a haven might be created if they might just keep peace rather than try to make peace, if they might just settle for what they could get rather than petition God for what the world deserves: justice, mercy and compassion.

peaceGod’s love is the only peace worth seeking.  It is the only peace that lasts.  It is the only peace that heals, transforms and redeems.  When we seek love, are we willing to settle for what makes us comfortable?  Or are we willing to accept nothing less than the pure truth, honesty and constancy that bring lasting serenity?  This choice is always ours to make.  To whom do we send our ambassadors?  Whose voice do we wait to hear whisper in the desperate hour of the darkest night?  Whose face do we long to see?  Whose touch do we yearn to feel?  Whose love do we await?  With whom do we sign our own Pax Romana?

For more on the Roman Peace, click on the first two images above or visit: http://www.elixirofknowledge.com/2014/03/history-mystery-pax-romana-roman-peace.html and http://academic.mu.edu/meissnerd/gladiators.html

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Deuteronomy 5:15: Our God

Friday, September 16, 2016sabbatday

The writer of Deuteronomy records Moses’ words faithfully.

Don’t ever forget that you were slaves in Egypt and God, your God, got you out of there in a powerful show of strength. That’s why God, your God, commands you to observe the day of Sabbath rest. (MSG: The Message)

Through Moses, God calls us to rest in the Lord each Sabbath day.

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt, and that I, the Lord your God, rescued you by my great power and strength. That is why I command you to observe the Sabbath. (GNT: Good News Translation)

Through his prophet, the Lord reminds us that we were once slaves, rescued by God.

Remember that thou also didst serve in Egypt, and the Lord thy God brought thee out from thence with a strong hand, and a stretched out arm. Therefore hath he commanded thee that thou shouldst observe the sabbath day. (DRA: Douay-Rheims)

Through the voice of scripture, the Lord calls us to rescue others just as we are rescued.

And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and that Jehovah thy God brought thee out thence with a powerful hand and with a stretched-out arm; therefore Jehovah thy God hath commanded thee to observe the sabbath day. (Darby: Darby Translation)

Through the work of Christ among us, through the consolation and power of the Spirit, the Lord Our God asks that we show mercy to all, as the Lord has shown mercy to us.

You are to remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Adonai your God brought you out from there with a strong hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore Adonai your God has ordered you to keep the day of Shabbat. (CJB: Complete Jewish Bible)

When we refrain from gossiping we free others from the personality we have set in stone with our unkind words. We make room for growth in ourselves and others.

When we speak for those who have no voice we free others from the curse of invisibility. We nurture hope in the darkness.

When we include those excluded by others we open our lives – and the lives of all – to the outrageous possibilities engendered by God’s healing love. We embody mercy and compassion.

You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to observe the sabbath day. (NRSV: New Revised Standard Version)

God, Adonai, Jehovah, the Living One, this is whom we find when we compare varying translations of this verse. God’s wisdom, Jesus’ strength, the Spirit’s compassion, these are gifts we receive and share when we consider how enormous is the love of Our God.  

As we consider these verses, we might listen to Chris Tomlin’s HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBD18rsVJHk 

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2 Kings 6:8-24Ambusharamean-horsemen

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

A Favorite from September 5, 2009.

The King of Aram cannot win against the God of Israel who speaks to the faithful through their prophet Elisha.  As I read this story I too, wish that I had such a direct route to wisdom . . . and then I realize that I do.  Today’s story of ambush is tempered with God’s pity for the Arameans, something we do not see often in the Old Testament.  It is also a reminder that God abides with those who seek him in humility and trust, that when the faithful follow in fidelity, they too will benefit from a voice that advises them as if it has heard conversations in secret places that are meant to outwit God.  Today we remember that God is everywhere, hearing everything, seeing everyone, knowing every thought.  At first this can be unsettling – we realize that there is no part of us that we can hold separate from God.  Later it is comforting – we realize that we do not want to be without this supreme intelligence and infinite mercy.  We come to see that God’s presence – and our attentive ear tuned to God’s voice – is the only force which saves us from the ambushes plotted in secret places.  We begin to comprehend the depth of God’s love for us.

When an ambush is sprung upon us, we might want to turn to Psalm 143 to intone its verses:  My spirit faints within me; my heart within me is desolate. 

When we feel as though all our own forces have been spent in enduring the onslaught, we say:  I spread out my hands to you; my soul grasps to you like a thirsty land. 

When we feel ourselves about to faint from the fear or anxiety which strangles us, we pray: O Lord, make haste to answer me; my spirit fails me; do not hide your face from me or I shall be like those who go down to the Pit. 

We remember the times in the past when we have survived ambush by calling on God for help:  I remember the time past; I muse upon your deeds; I consider the works of your hands. 

We ask for God’s assistance: Revive me, O Lord, for your Name’s sake; for your righteousness’ sake, bring me out of trouble.

When we take ourselves away from the panic and pain, we come to see that we too benefit from miracles brought to us through the words and actions of our own holy women and men.  When we rely on the voice of God rather than the voices of society, we too become transformed by miracles that arrive as gifts from our loving God.  And when we show mercy for those who have listened to their own advice rather than words from God, we too will see that no more raiders will come into our land.

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Baruch 3 and 4: A Prayer for Mercy

Thursday, May 26, 2016012015wisdom_tim

An Exhortation on the Law of Wisdom

Baruch, born into a noble family, served the prophet Jeremiah as disciple and secretary. Along with Lamentations, and Jeremiah’s prophecy which Baruch penned, we have a unique treasure. These three Books taken together remind us of our special nature as loved creations of God, they give us a foundation of wisdom that we might use to navigate our own sacred story, and they propel us into a future of hope and mercy. Links to notes below* fill in any gaps we may have with this long yet interesting tale, and today we look at it to reflect on what we have learned about ourselves, our traditions, and our shared sacred history.

Why do we lapse into behavior we have sworn to eliminate from our lives? Jeremiah, through Baruch, suggests that we lack wisdom. But where do we find it?

For Baruch and Jeremiah wisdom lies in the Mosaic Law. For us as people of the New Testament the old law has been superseded and fulfilled by the new law, Jesus. And the new law of the Gospels is about love in the form of service to God in advocacy for those on the margin.

In chapter 4 Baruch writes that the Jewish people have been sold to the Gentiles for their lapse, for turning away from Yahweh to the pagan gods. He continues in this chapter with a classic description of Wisdom: Patience and Hope for Deliverance. We gain wisdom, Baruch tells us, by patiently yet actively hoping, expecting the Holy One to appear. And the Living God does appear before us every day.

Today we pray. Merciful God, you give us so many opportunities to soften our hard hearts and turn them toward you. You constantly open little gates for us to enter your Way. You visit your wisdom and patience and peace and love and mercy upon us. Grant that we may see you, grant that we may hear you, grant that we may feel you in our lives. Bring us the healing which we so desire in order that we may truly serve you and find union with you. We ask this through Christ your son, in union with the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Adapted from a favorite written on May 25, 2007.

If there is no time to spend with these two chapters today, focus on 4:22-23: I have put my hope for your deliverance in the Eternal One, and joy has come to me from the Holy One because of the mercy that will swiftly reach you from your eternal Savior. With mourning and lament I sent you away, but God will give you back to me with gladness and joy forever.

*For notes on BARUCH, visit: http://www.usccb.org/bible/baruch/0

*For notes on LAMENTATIONS: http://www.usccb.org/bible/lamentations/0

*For JEREMIAH: http://www.usccb.org/bible/jeremiah/0

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Acts 17: Uproar – Part I

Saturday, May 7, 2016

The Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul

The Apostle Paul causes uproar wherever he goes in the name of Christ.  He ruffles feathers.  He points out inconsistencies.  He speaks convincingly and with authority as one who has been on both sides of the argument. He inspires faith, hope and charity in some, jealousy in others.  As with the story of David, another of God’s imperfect leaders, we understand that those who serve as God’s vessels will always be envied.  This knowledge can discourage us from continuing in God’s service, or it can make us even more strongly bound to God.  The choice is always ours to make.

These readings continue the theme. Numbers 11:25-29, James 5:1-6, and Mark 9:38-48.

We are further advised that if resentment is a constant companion in our lives, we will never understand the mercy God wants to show us in this world and the next. Therefore, we will want to learn to live without bitterness. It is not the treasure we want to set aside: Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth but rather, store up treasures in heaven. And heaven’s treasures are mercy, kindness and love. Matthew 6:19-20 and 1 Peter 1:17-19.

Each gesture and each word we enact in the world is our definitive representation of God.  When we speak, or fail to speak, when we act, or fail to act, we bring God into our homes, our work and prayer places and our communities.  What do our words and gestures say about who we are?

And so we consider . . . Rather than foment division, we want to add to the world’s serenity. But what about the kind of uproar that Paul causes? How does this fit into God’s design?

Today and tomorrow we reflect on an idea proposed by biologist E.O. Wilson and consider how his proposals affront or enact God’s kingdom. Visit the Smithsonian magazine to read, Can the world really set aside half the planet for Wildlife?

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/can-world-really-set-aside-half-planet-wildlife-180952379/?no-ist

Tomorrow, God’s uproar.

Adapted from a favorite written in September 28, 2009.

 

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