Posts Tagged ‘mourning into joy’

John 16: Glory, Part VII – Trouble

Jan Victors: Hannah Giving her son Samuel to the priest Eli

Jan Victors: Hannah Giving her son Samuel to the priest Eli

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Today’s lesson on Glory: When we experience God’s glory, barrenness is made fertile, mourning becomes joy, and lack becomes surfeit. We must not avoid the deserts in our lives.

In his last evening with his disciples, Jesus leaves with a warning of persecution and he tells them of how the world will hate him and all that he stands for. Discipleship will be difficult, he says, but there is also good news: a new Comforter will come to them and he himself will rejoin them in a way they have not been able to imagine.  He will return from the dead. And he will reveal even more to them than he already has. All of this is too much for them to take in. It is too much for us to take in. Yet these words lay out the premise that we experience God’s glory through the trouble in our lives.

You will weep and mourn but the world will rejoice; you will have pain but your pain will turn into joy. 

All of this brings us to a basic truth: the difficulties we experience are more than they seem . . . they are opportunities for joy and an insurmountable interior peace. A mini-reflection from MAGNIFICAT reads: What we formerly perceived as barrenness in our life has become filled with a Presence – the Presence for which we were made.  This is in reference to an important story in 1 Samuel 1, the story of Hannah, the barren wife who pleads with God out of her sorrow.  Her request is granted and she not only bears her first son who becomes the great prophet Samuel, she bears even more.  We are told that Hannah weeps from the bitterness of her soul (1 Samuel 1:10).  Peninnah, her husband’s; second wife who is not barren, taunts Hannah about her apparent curse; Hannah persists in her praying. The priest Eli believes her to be drunk (1 Samuel 1:13); yet Hannah continues in her prayer. Then Eli tells her that the Lord will hear her petition and Hannah’s face is no longer downcast (1 Samuel 1:18). She returns home and her grief becomes joy when she conceives and bears this son who is to be an integral part of human history. It is then that she understands how her barrenness has turned into joy – through the work of God’s plan – and she rejoices that she has been able to participate fully in this mystery.  She sings a hymn of praise (1 Samuel 2): My heart rejoices in the Lord . . . there is no one like the Lord . . . there is no rock like our God . . . the Lord brings death and he makes alive . . . he brings down to the grave and he raises up.  It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the Lord will be shattered . . . He will guard the feet of his saints.

Jesus reminds us of this again today. He says: I have much more to tell you but you cannot bear it now . . . I have told you so that you might have peace in me.   In the world you have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.

When we find ourselves in a barren portion of our lives, we might come back to these stories and these words to remind ourselves that when misery overtakes us and the pain is greater than we can bear, this may well be an indication that we have entered into the very mystery we have sought. This may be evidence that we are fully engaging in our own transformation.  It may be the opening to a new Presence, a new beatitude which we otherwise cannot experience . . . if we have not found ourselves in trouble with the world.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 11, 2010.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 11 January 2010. Print.

Compare various Bible versions of this story and consider when or how our mourning might lead to our joy.

Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Hannah_VICTORS,_Jan.jpg

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Jeremiah 50-52

Holy Thursday, April 14, 2022

Babylon Shall Be Delivered – Part V

Finally, after an onslaught of horror and tragedy on the battlefield, deliverance arrives. At last, after families are forever destroyed and trauma sets in for generations, favor is shown. Finally, after buildings that once sheltered those who yearned to live in peace are now demolished, and places of refuge and worship are desecrated, yes finally, peace and grace settle upon a people exiled by conflict. It is a time for weeping. It is a time for healing. It is a time for restoration.

Today the church celebrates the loving bond between Jesus and his sisters and brothers in the rite of foot washing as a liturgical element that demonstrates Jesus’ love for humanity. Today we study The Favor Shown to Jehoiachin: In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, on the twenty-fifth day of the twelfth month, Evil-merodach, king of Babylon, in the inaugural year of his reign, took up the case of Jehoiachin, king of Judah, and released him from prison. He spoke kindly to him and gave him a throne higher than that of other kings who were with him in Babylon. Jehoiachin took off his prison garb and ate at the king’s table as long as he lived. The allowance given him by the king of Babylon was a personal allowance, in fixed daily amounts, all the days of his life until the day of is death. (Jeremiah 52:31-34)

These closing words of Jeremiah’s prophecy remind us that even when our lives are darkest, the possibility of redemption remains. Like Jehoiachin, we will throw off our prison garb. The Lord himself will wash our feet and we will eat at the high table. We will receive the daily dose of God’s providence and care for the rest of our lives. We will be delivered.

As we move toward Easter Day, we must continue to put our case forward. Continue to ask for God’s insight and grace. Continue to petition the heavens to ask that our mourning be turned into rejoicing.

Tomorrow, a prayer for those awaiting deliverance.

Image from: https://www.glcdenison.org/cleansed-by-a-servant

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Jeremiah 50-52

Holy Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Babylon Shall Be Delivered – Part IV

We have looked at how the conquerors become the conquered and we have considered that through the lens of Christ we see God’s wrath as God’s love. We have also considered what we believe we see through this accounting. Today we continue to explore Jeremiah’s prophecy as we discover and affirm what it is we believe. Do we lose heart as we focus only on the horrors and terrors of war, or are we open to loving our enemies into goodness as Jesus asks?

We believe that our consoling and loving God wants complete restoration for the faithful and calls to us to join God in the days when the virgins shall make merry and dance, and young men and old as well . . . [when] mourning will be turned into joy . . . [when the Lord will] console and gladden them after their sorrows.

We believe that despite what we see and hear in the news about our world, despite the tragedies that unfold daily in war zones around the planet, we are offered a life in which war wages no more, when never again shall the city be rooted up or thrown down. 

We believe that we are to act in our hope of the fulfillment of these prophecies of Jeremiah, the promises of our God, of Yahweh for a new covenant has replaced the Law . . . and it now written in our hearts. 

We believe that we are to act in the faith and knowledge that Yahweh is our God . . . and we are God’s people . . . and all, from the greatest to the least, now knows the Lord.

We believe that we are to act in love because we are forgiven . . . our sin remembered no more.

We believe that we are the New Jerusalem for we are delivered . . . from all the places to which we have been banished . . . we have been brought back from exile.

We believe that rather than look at the ruin around us we must focus on the promise of fulfillment and restoration for we are the light, we are the hope, we are The Way.

Let us give thanks to the Lord for this new opportunity to begin new life with softened hearts. Let us give thanks for the many Blessings and Graces God bestows on each of us in this time of renewal and resurrection.

Tomorrow, deliverance.

For Bible commentary, click on the image or visit: https://explainingthebook.com/2017/04/30/jeremiah-52-summary/

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Luke 6:24-26: Trouble Aheadrough-road-ahead

Fifth Sunday of Lent, April 3, 2022

From Luke’s account of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain . . .

But woe to you who are rich, for you are receiving your comfort in full. Woe to you who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way. (New American Standard Bible)

Jesus is quite clear. The content and happy must tend to the poor and broken-hearted. Those who rejoice must shepherd those who mourn. Humility is far more valuable than pride.

But woe to you that are rich: for you have your consolation. Woe to you that are filled: for you shall hunger. Woe to you that now laugh: for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when men shall bless you: for according to these things did their fathers to the false prophets. (Douay Rheims 1899 American)

Jesus makes no mistake. The full and sated must share food and drink. Those who rejoice must accompany those who mourn. Self-knowledge is far more important than denial.

Woe to you when men shall bless you: for according to these things did their fathers to the false prophets. But it’s trouble ahead if you think you have it made. What you have is all you’ll ever get. And it’s trouble ahead if you’re satisfied with yourself. Your self will not satisfy you for long. And it’s trouble ahead if you think life’s all fun and games. There’s suffering to be met, and you’re going to meet it. There’s trouble ahead when you live only for the approval of others, saying what flatters them, doing what indulges them. Popularity contests are not truth contests—look how many scoundrel preachers were approved by your ancestors! Your task is to be true, not popular. (The Message)

jesus-on-the-crossJesus calls to each of us, warning of trouble ahead. Trouble that lies not in deprivation and disaster . . . but in our hubris, our narcissism and our corruption. When we spend time reading and comparing various versions of these verses, we receive the gifts of clarity, truth and grace. Reflect on these words, or use the scripture link to choose other versions. On this day when all seems bleak and dark, and the cross dominates our thinking, let us remember that after the cross, resurrection is not far behind. There may be trouble ahead, but we need not fear. Christ is among us . . . now. Christ is in us now . . . and forever.

 Images from: https://nzesylva.wordpress.com/2012/06/24/may-your-road-be-rough-2/, and https://byhisgrace211.wordpress.com/2012/09/18/the-importance-of-jesuss-death-on-the-cross/

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Malachi 3: Refiningmalachi_3-10

Monday, March 7, 2022

Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek.

In several weeks we will witness again Christ’s passion and death. Let us prepare the temple of our hearts with God’s written Word. Today we choose a chapter and book in the Bible that we have never explored before. As we read, we allow the Spirit to open our ears to God’s words.

My messenger is like the refiner’s fire, or like the fuller’s lye. My messenger will sit refining and purifying.

In several weeks we will experience again the Easter miracle. Let us prepare our hearts and minds with the refining fire of Christ’s presence, the Living Word.  Today we compose a prayer of thanksgiving to the Living God for all that heals and sustains us each day. As we write, we allow the Spirit to open our hearts to God’s living presence.

Lo, I am sending my messenger to prepare the way before me; and suddenly there will come to the temple the Lord whom you seek.

In several weeks we will experience again the phenomenon of Pentecost. Let us prepare ourselves to receive the Spirit in this special way. Today we spend time with someone who is suffering to allow the refining fire of God’s love to transform all mourning into joy.

For more on Malachi’s imagery of a smelter’s fire of a fuller’s lye, enter the word refiner into the blog search bar and explore.  

Image from: http://wallpaper4god.com/en/background_malachi-310-blessing/

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emmanuelstillFriday, December 3, 2021

Joy and the Psalms


The Book of Psalms calls us to praise God and during this first week of Advent we will focus on the power of the psalms in a number of ways: to connect us with God as sisters and brothers in Christ, to give us a healing pathway on which to carry our lament to the Spirit, to call us together as we praise and honor the creator God, and to offer us the opportunity for our conversion.

Click on the scripture links and explore other versions of these verses. Share an idea about the surprise of joy in the dark places and times in our lives with a loved one, a neighbor or friend. And allow the surprise of joy to brighten each day as we move forward in the season of hope-filled waiting for the arrival of the Christ.

Psalm 105 verse 43: So he led his chosen people out, and they sang and shouted for joy.

God replies: I am with you when you are abandoned and rejected.

joyPsalm 119 verse 143: I am filled with trouble and anxiety, but your commandments bring me joy.

God replies: I am with you when you are disheartened and oppressed.

Psalm 126 verse 5: Let those who wept as they planted their crops, gather the harvest with joy!

God replies: I am with you when you are broken-hearted and alone.

Psalm 126 verse 6: Those who wept as they went out carrying the seed will come back singing for joy, as they bring in the harvest.

God replies: I am with you when you beaten, and abused, and ridiculed for my sake. I come to walk among you . . . and you call me Emmanuel!

For a reminder of God’s promises, spend time with Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 or his Sermon on the Plain in Luke 6 . . . and rejoice. For God is with us and God has converted all manner of injustice against us.

Image from: http://www.boisemustardseed.org/2012/11/29/advent-2012/

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images[3]Easter Wednesday, April 15, 2020

John 21:3

We also will come with you . . .

We are just a few days away from our Easter experience and yet how often do we think of its impact on our lives? We also will come with you . . .

We are only a handful of quick days away from our entering into the empty tomb and yet how much does the resurrection influence our words and actions?  We also will come with you . . .

We are only a split-second in God’s time away from the resurrection and yet how eager are we to cast heavy nets into disappointing waters?  We also will come with you . . .

Jesus has visited his followers on several occasions after his resurrection and now he calls the faithful to Galilee to be fishers of men. We also will come with you . . .

Peter says that he is returning to the boats and nets they knew so well before the Christ came into their lives in such a vivid and startling way and the other apostles tell him: We also will come with you . . .

The Easter promise of life in Christ has been fulfilled and now the option is ours.  We also will come with you . . .

Our emptiness is fullness in the Spirit and now we might choose to say: We also will come with you . . .

Our suffering is joy in the economy of God’s way and so now we say: We also will come with you . . .

Our insecurities become strength when we remember the Easter promise and so now we pray: We also will come with you . . .

Our fear and anxieties become trust and confidence when we live as Children of God and so now we pray: We also will come with you . . .

Our loss becomes love when we live as Easter people and so now we pray: We also will come with you . . .

We join all God’s holy ones in the events of the Eastertide so as we come together let us intone with one another the words of Jesus’ first followers . . . We also will come with you!

Tomorrow, Sharing in the Desert . . .

A re-post from Easter 2013.

Image from: http://danieljclark.typepad.com/my_weblog/2010/02/fishing-stories-sermon-from-epiphany-5-luke-5111.html

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John 16: Persecution Predicted

Tuesday, June 25, 2019 

Joy on stone . . .

We have never been told that apostleship is easy.  It has never been said that discipleship is easily lived.  What we have been told, and what has been said is this: your mourning will turn into joy, your reward will be great.

In this chapter Jesus speaks frankly, honestly and openly with his friends.  He assures them that once he goes their life will become difficult.  He reminds them that this is God’s plan and that once he, Jesus, has made his Exodus, the Holy Spirit will come to live with them – to continue to guide, protect and encourage them.

The apostles – and we – stumble through his meaning.  What is this little while of which Jesus speaks?  Jesus tells them that they must begin to petition the Father in Jesus’ name.  And suddenly these followers of the Christ begin to focus on the coming event: The Resurrection which Jesus predicts.  Suddenly, because they are familiar with all of the predictions made in their Testament of Torah, Wisdom and Prophets, they begin to understand that persecution must follow because Jesus is God.

In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.

If we are sailing easily through life’s storms, we must be ignoring some of our assignments.  If we are never challenged by the headlines, by our friends, by our dear ones, we must not be living in the now.  When we hear our thinking going toward “making nice”, “not wanting to upset anyone”, “ignoring something until it goes away or someone else takes care of it”, then we know that we are still stumbling through the meaning of the Christ’s words which he speaks to us today in Chapter 16 of John.

We must not be disheartened when we meet stiff necks, hard hearts, personal agendas.  We must call upon Christ to bring us hope, call upon the Holy Spirit to bring us comfort, call upon the Father to bolster our faith that all harm will be turned to good . . . and we must step fully into the arena of life.

And so we pray . . .

Jesus, God, Holy Comforter, we know that you will never lead us falsely, yet we fear the coming storm.  We doubt our own ability to follow you.  We know that you are always with us, yet your presence is sometimes difficult to feel.  We doubt our own steadfastness.  We know that your words are true, because you are Truth.  We know that your words are loving, because you are Love.  We know that the darkness is shattered by your presence, because you are Light.  Bolster us with confidence, send us courage, because we know of the persecution of this world . . . and we also know that you have already conquered this world.  We ought not to fear, but we are human.  Send us your strength.  Teach us how to find joy in the stony path of life. Remind us that joy will come of our mourning.  Amen. 

First written on June 11, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

For a reflection on living in joy click on the image above or go to: http://www.writtencreations.com/blog/2012/05/30/living-in-joy/

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1 Corinthians 15:1-11: The Teaching

Trinity Sunday, June 16, 2019

Modern Corinth

We have before us today the story of who and what we are, what we believe, and how and why we came into being.  This story tells us everything we need to know about why we exist.  It is the teaching that Paul received from Christ, and it is the teaching that he preaches constantly, both to the people of his time and to us today.  Sometimes I need to re-read the story often, especially at the times when the world tests my stamina.  Paul teaches.  We are called to believe.

For a capsule view of the teaching Paul repeats so often we can go to Acts 17 and 18 when he is in Athens and about to depart for Corinth.  He delivers his message as he always does, telling the marvelous story of how we only need to rely on God, how God has come among us to live and suffer and die and rejoice as one of us, and of how we are all brothers and sisters of this God who has risen and who wishes to have us with him in intimate union.  This wonderful message is received in three ways: some scoff, some say they like the idea but are too busy at the moment to hear more, others believe . . . and join Paul in his mission.

We are offered this same opportunity each day as we rise, as we pray, as we work, as we play.  We choose whether we want to poke fun, to be lukewarm, or to become fervent in our dedication to this simple yet amazing story.

From the MAGNIFICAT evening reflection on Acts 16:26 when the disciples are freed from shackles by an earthquake: Just as the disciples were delivered from prison, so were all of us delivered from the prison of sin and death by the resurrection of Christ and the gift of the Spirit.  In moments of discouragement, let us remember the hope that lights our way to a goal far more wonderful than we can imagine even now. 

The other citations all direct us to reflect on what to do when we are discouraged.  Psalm 126, along with Baruch 4:22-23 (I have trusted in the Eternal God for your welfare, and joy has come to me from the Holy One . . . With mourning and lament I sent you forth, but God will give you back to me with enduring gladness and joy) and Isaiah 55:11 (My word shall not return to me void but shall do my will, achieving the end for which I sent it).

When we become discouraged we only need to remember The Teaching: God has come among us to walk with us, to bring us release and peace and even joy.

They go out, they go out, full of tears, carrying seed for the sowing: they come back, they come back, full of song, carrying their sheaves.  (Psalm 126:5-6)

Let us join Christ in the song, let us join Paul in the harvest, and let us join one another in peace and joy.


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 20.5 (2009). Print.

For more on Paul in Corinth click on the image above or go to: http://members.bib-arch.org/publication.asp?PubID=BSBA&Volume=14&Issue=3&ArticleID=1

Written on May 20, 2009 and re-posted today.

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