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Posts Tagged ‘newness’

Acts 16:5: Growth


First Sunday of Advent

068[1]November 29, 2020

Acts 16:5

Growth

So the church grew stronger and stronger in the faith and increased in numbers daily.

We continue our journey through a world-wide pandemic. We continue our struggle with inequity and fear. We continue our search for justice and peace. Today we rejoice despite our struggle because we know that light and truth are with us. We know that once we place our anxiety in God’s hands, the way is clear. 

The beginning of a new year brings an obvious opportunity to begin again. We have rituals that help us to remember this: a crystal ball slides down a pole as millions watch in a digital world, old calendars are replaced with new in countless homes and offices, toasts are drunk, benchmarks are celebrated; yet do we empower change and growth in our lives or do we enable destructive, predictable and unchanging behaviors?

The cycle of nature in which we experience disintegration followed by the possibility of regeneration models for us a way in which to live. After the falling apart there is always the chance to come together. The keys are to remain open to the possibility, to encourage growth, and to look for the newness with open minds rather than heavy hearts.

After the storm there is the calm.

After the winter there is the spring.

After the destruction there is the rebuilding.

After the night there is the dawn.

After the exile there is restoration.

Our wounded-ness becomes healing when we grow with newness. Our closed-ness becomes resurrection when we believe with determination. Our humanity becomes divine when we love with vulnerability. As we stand on the threshold of a new liturgical year, we have again the opportunity to experience conversion of the heart, to turn our stubborn pride into endurance, our anger into healing passion, and our anxiety into enduring love. Let us welcome this invitation to new growth as warmly as we welcome the Christ Child, Jesus.

We remember that the fledgling church began in smallness and insignificance. If there is time today, read more about the origen of Christianity in Acts.


Image from: http://frontierdreams.blogspot.com/2011/11/rhythm-in-our-home-first-sunday-in.html

Adapted from a reflection written on January 2, 2009.

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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Ezekiel 11: A Natural Heart

heart_flexh10[1]What you are plotting I well know . . .

Yet we humans believe that we can keep our dark secrets hidden.

I will give them a new heart and put a new spirit within them; I will remove the stony heart from their bodies, and replace it with a natural heart, so that they will live according to my statutes, and observe and carry out my ordinances; thus they shall be my people and I shall be their God. 

Yet we humans believe that the world has something better to offer us: comfort, fame, a legacy to be remembered for generations.

 But as for those whose hearts are devoted to their detestable abominations, I will bring down their conduct upon their heads, says the Lord God.

Yet we humans believe that we can keep our dark secrets hidden, and we can . . . for a time.

The Psalmist reminds us in 44:21: If we had forgotten the name of our God or spread out our hands to a foreign god,would not God have discovered it, since he knows the secrets of the heart?

Yet we humans believe that we can keep our dark secrets hidden, and we can . . . for a time, but God knows what we are plotting . . . and God offers us the opportunity to be free of the darkness.  God offers us the newness of a natural heart.

We will want to open ourselves to this newness.


Image from: http://atriversedge.wordpress.com/2012/08/26/with-a-new-heart-and-a-new-spirit/

Written on November 13, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Psalm 145: Trust in God Alone

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Open%20gate%20at%20Bayou%20Bend[1]Grace us this week with your presence, O Lord, that we may focus our hopes and our work in you.  Amen.

We sometimes wander aimlessly in search of happiness or peace . . . when all the while we do not notice that God has gifted us with a beautiful Eden in which to live.

We sometimes are so intent on completing tasks and chores that we miss the beauty surrounding us . . . when all the while we rush past opportunities to build relationships that will bring us joy.

We sometimes see all windows and doors as closed or obstructed pathways . . . when all the while Christ waits on the other side for us to knock and seek.

Let us spend some time with Psalm 145 today . . . and let us learn to trust in God alone.

The Lord sets captives free . . . let us ask for our own freedom from fear.

The Lord gives sight to the blind . . . let us ask to be healed of our own blindness.

The Lord is good to all . . . let us put away our childish envy and see that God has enough for all.

The Lord is just in all his ways . . . let us strive to act in justice each day.

The Lord is gracious and merciful . . . let us forgive all those who have harmed us.

The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in love . . . let us put aside all anger and anxiety.

The Lord is trustworthy in every word . . . let us treat all whom we meet with openness and honesty.

The Lord is worthy of high praise . . . let us praise God joyfully and without ceasing.

The Lord is near to all those who call upon him in truth . . . Come Lord Jesus, come!

When we trust in God we find new strength to open old doors. When we trust in God we find transformation. When we trust in God we are restored in newness.


A re-post from December 3, 2019.

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Song of Songs 8: Found

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

“The Song of Songs, meaning the greatest of songs (1,1), contains in exquisite poetic form the sublime portrayal and praise of the mutual love of the Lord and his people.  The Lord is the Lover and his people the beloved.  Describing this relationship in terms of human love, the author simply follows Israel’s tradition.  Isaiah (5, 1-7; 54, 4-8), Jeremiah (2, 2f.32, and Ezekiel (16; 23) all characterize the covenant between the Lord and Israel as a marriage.  Hosea the prophet sees the idolatry of Israel in the adultery of Gomer (1-3).  He also represents the Lord speaking to Israel’s heart (2, 16) and changing her into a new spiritual people, purified by the Babylonian captivity and betrothed anew to her divine Lover ‘in justice and uprightness, in love and mercy’ (2,21) . . . [The Song] is an allegory in which each remark, e.g., in the dialogue of the lovers, has a higher meaning.  It is a parable in which the true meaning of mutual love comes from the poem as a whole . . . In Christian tradition, the Song has been interpreted in terms of the union between Christ and the Church and, particularly by St. Bernard, of the union between Christ and the individual soul”.  (Senior 791-792)

In this last chapter, we see the young lovers walking toward home; and the seal in verse 6 is a reference to a ring or emblem with which one marked, signed or identified an object.  In this poem, love is seen as the force that conquers all else. “In human experience, death and the nether world are inevitable, unrelenting; in the end they always triumph.  Love, which is just as certain of its victory, matches its strength against the natural enemies of life; waters cannot extinguish it nor floods carry it away.  It is more priceless than all riches”.  (798)

The Bride, the Church, the soul, remains chaste.  Her rich dowry is kept under watchful eyes until the time when she has matured, until the time she will be given in marriage and the dowry handed over to the groom who waits.

We are this bride.  We are this beloved.

We – like this bride – have suffered, have wandered, have searched, and have found.  We have also been found by the one who treasures us, the one who knows that we are a pearl of great price . . . the one who values us.  A dowry has been set aside for us to assure our redemption.  We are the seal set upon the heart.  Knowing this, having endured much, we still thirst.

This evening, as we wander home through the garden with its intense and alluring aromas, we are accompanied by the one who waits for us as we grow and mature.  We continue our journey up from the desert, leaning upon the lover.  We awaken under the apple trees where we were once conceived.  And when we open our eyes, we know that we have been found once again.  And we look into the eyes of our creator . . . who calls us anew to rise with the new day.

 


A re-post from May 28, 2012.

Images from http://blog.tuscandream.com/tuscany-italian-garden-wedding-estate-304/italian-garden-bride-groom/ and http://www.rebeccaatthewell.org/youtube.html

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. Print.   

For more on this beautiful poem, visit The Song of Songs – Tryst in the Spring page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/song-of-songs-tryst-in-the-spring/

Written on January 29, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Ezekiel 18: A New Heart and a New Spirit

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Written on December 17, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Jacob Willemsz de Wet: Workers in the Vineyard

The prophet Ezekiel foreshadows the story Jesus tells us in Matthew 20 about the vineyard owner who pays the same wage to the worker who has worked for but an hour as he does to the one who has worked all day.  We are cautioned by both prophet and Messiah not to complain about God’s generosity – we may one day hope to benefit from this abundance.

The prophet also foretells the story Jesus describes in Luke 15 who leaves his ninety-nine sheep to go in search of the one that is lost.  We are told by both prophet and Savior that we are as precious to God as that one sheep.  This story is told as an illustration of God’s determination to call us – we may one day have need of this persistence.

Ezekiel tells the people in exile that they must move beyond these old proverbs and customs of believing that the sins of one generation are visited upon another.  He foresees what Jesus tells, that there will be a Messianic Age when we are released from the old and given a new heart and a new spirit – this spirit is forgiveness – this heart is love.

This is wonderful news!  Yet, it brings with it a reality that we may not want to hear.   With this newness comes the responsibility to return and repent.  We cannot expect that the good we have done will somehow outweigh the bad; yet we have the certain knowledge that all Ezekiel has foretold is true.  God will persist in calling out to us as we wander lost and alone.  And God has a heart large enough to repair any damage that has been done either by us or to us – for we have this promise from the prophet Ezekiel that we see fulfilled in our brother the Christ.  Jesus has died yet lives.  Jesus returns for us . . . so that we might live.  The Spirit abides with us . . . and brings us this new heart . . . this new spirit . . . as a gift from God.  All we need do is reach out our hands, and open our hearts.

 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, says the Lord God.  Return and live!


A re-post from December 16, 2011. 

Images from: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/jacobwillemszdewetdasm11.jpg and http://www.ideachampions.com/heart/archives/quotes/index.shtml

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Hosea 4Open to Newness

Saturday, September 1, 2018

A re-post from August 1, 2011.

We will need to look at notes in order to understand the references in today’s Noontime and the following information is from THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE.  Ephraim (note verse 17) was the tribal area that remained in the northern kingdom of Israel after the Assyrian invasion.  The wood and wand (note verse 12) refer to any carved idol or utensil used in the practice of divination.  Ritual prostitution practiced in Canaanite shrines was introduced into sanctuaries dedicated to Yahweh (note verse 14).  Gilgal here (note verse 15) is in reference to a sanctuary in the north in Bethel where there was an association of cult prophets (2 Kings 2 and 4:38); it is not a reference to Gilgal in the south where Joshua sets up memorial standing stones (Joshua 4).  Finally, the priests are in for heavy criticism because they are seen as the ones who lead the people away from God as they set up a schism between genuine and cult prophets.  All of this information helps to clarify the link between the prophet Hosea’s deep sorrow over his wife Gomer’s prostitution of herself and the descent of the nation of Israel into this same harlotry.  Hosea sees the individual and collective return to idolatry as a seal of the fate of the nation and its people.  They are all caught up in the coming whirlwind of disaster.  (Senior 1112-1113)

The psalmist reminds us that: The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands.  They have mouths but speak not; they have ears but see not; they have ears but hear not; no breath is in their mouths.  Those who make them will be like them, and so will all those who trust in them.  (Psalm 135:15-18)  If only we humans might remember that in the end . . . these little gods cannot forgive us, save us, redeem us or love us as God does.

We have reflected during our Noontimes that little gods creep into our lives without notice and it is in this way that we become unwitting collaborators in the creation of an illusion; today we look at how a nation of people who have been blessed by God turn away from God’s goodness.   The children’s story of The Emperor’s New Clothes http://deoxy.org/emperors.htm from the Hans Christian Anderson collection is an apt allegory not only for Hosea’s society but for our society today.  We have only to determine if we number among the adults who have ceased to think for themselves . . . or if we are the astonished child who announces: The emperor is naked!  Like the child, Hosea cries out to the people of Israel.  And like the child, our prophets of today cry out against the obtuse among us.

When we become frustrated with a herd mentality that drives idiotically toward the precipice or when we give up all hope that the small voice of truth might be heard above the clamor of a self-deceiving crowd, we must turn away from our little gods of anxiety and desperation and turn to God, for it is God who best understands what is to be disbelieved and dispossessed.  And it is God who knows well how to convert the darkness of despair into the beauty of joy, for it is in the darkness that God plants the seeds of new life.

And so we pray . . . Good and forgiving God, remind us that we have only to be open to a newness that you will bring out of the ignorance and despair we witness today.  Show us the newness born of the dark that is your compassionate healing and eternal transformation.  Amen.  


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1112-1113. Print.   

Images from: http://thefigureofspeechprod.info/coming-soon.html and http://blogs.attask.com/blog/strategic-project-management/the-emperors-new-clothes

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John 17:20-24: Seek Wholeness – Prayer

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Philippe de Champaigne: The Last Supper

When Jesus speaks to his disciples on the evening before his death, he says to the Creator, “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word,  that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me”. 

This past week we have considered the idea of Wholeness in Christ: how we find it, how we achieve it, how we are transformed through it. Today we reflect on words from Richard Rohr, OFM.

From A Spring Within Us: “Wholeness doesn’t really overcome the problem, but holds it and transforms it as Jesus did on the cross. As Carl Jung said, most of the great problems of life are never resolved; they’re just outgrown.

“Wholeness holds you. You can’t figure this out ahead of time or fully choose this wholeness; you fall into it when you stop excluding. And you are changed in the process. Everything belongs, even the ‘bad’ and dark parts of yourself. Nothing needs to be rejected or denied. No one needs to be hated. No one needs to be excommunicated, shunned, or eliminated. You don’t have time for that anymore”. (Rohr 353)

James Tissot: The Holy Women

When we allow ourselves and others the freedom to choose wholeness, we discover the truth that Christ’s love for us overcomes all harm. When we enact Christ through our own Gospel work, we find new hope in new life. And when we open our heart to the Spirit, we open ourselves to prayer that heals, holds and transformation.  Rohr helps us to see that when we can hold ourselves in wholeness with him, we no longer judge, no longer exclude, no longer worry and strain at life. At the close of this first week of Advent, we give thanks for the gift of Wholeness in Christ that we too easily take for granted.

When we compare varying translations of these verses, we find the wholeness of belief as we pray with Jesus.

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

 

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Zechariah 14Apocalypse

Monday, November 6, 2017

Apocalypse, coming from the Greek for revelation, is an announcement of a truth revealed.  Apocalyptic literature is full of mystery, is usually veiled in symbolic language and is often interpreted by an angel of God (Senior 425).  It deals with the heavenly world, the future, and describes a final judgment in which there are winners and losers.  It is sometimes incomprehensible, frightening and misunderstood.  The Apocalypse we see today is the fight for Jerusalem which ushers in an era without storm, turmoil or deceit.  It brings a time of peace, unity and celebration.  It is a day when every libation pot shall be holy to the Lord.

Model of the third Temple

The last chapter of Zechariah’s prophecy makes a momentous revelation or announcement: There will be an end to prophecy.  Perhaps this is because with the coming of the Messianic age there is little need to announce the savior who is already among us – perhaps it is because prophets have lost their place of status – perhaps it is because people of all nations, including pagan ones, will now worship the Lord.  In any case, according to Zechariah, the fight will be over.  There will no longer be merchants in the house of the Lord; false shepherds will have disappeared; the tribes of the world will be reconciled; peace will reign.

The first eight chapters of Zechariah were written about the year 520 B.C.E. to exhort the people to continue the overwhelming task of reformation following their return from exile.  The last six chapters of Zechariah were written by an unknown author (or authors) whose oracles describe the Lords’ victory.  The exiled have returned from Babylon and so the prize they have been seeking has finally been gained but they have returned to a ruined city . . . and a great deal of work lies before them.  The process of restoration has only just begun and Zechariah speaks to us today to give us a moment to reflect on the meaning of our own return from our personal exile.  It gives us a framework in which to put our lives into proper perspective and to give thanks for our salvation.  It also gives us an opportunity to gather our forces for the next phase of work.

Model of the Temple during the time of Jesus

Return from exile is celebrated and the celebration is taking place amid the ruin of former glory because our newness is more important than what was because we are transformed and made anew.  This miracle of redemption that Zechariah describes already exists today in that each of us is the libation bowl poured out for Christ.  We are vessels fashioned by God’s hands and brought into existence for God’s purpose.  We each are the hope of God to the world.

The fight for Jerusalem is already begun, and we are celebrants in the newness of what is coming onto being.  Let us gather ourselves, let us find our places in God’s new city, and let us rejoice and be glad . . . for we are in the house of the Lord of hosts.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. Glossary 445. Print. 

Adapted from a reflection written on July 10, 2009.

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John 1:1-18: Divine Energy

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
    God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
    in readiness for God from day one.

Here is a bit of advice from Richard Rohr and Mike Morrell. “You can . . . reread the prologue to John’s gospel, and every time you see the term ‘Word’ or Logos, substitute Relationship or Blueprint, instead, and it will really help you get the message . . . This exact model of relationship is then intended to be passed on to us in what Jesus calls the ‘baptism in the Holy Spirit’. The Holy Spirit is the relationship between Father and the Son. It is this relationship itself that is gratuitously given to us! Or better, we are included inside this love. Wow. This is salvation in one wonderful snapshot”. (Rohr and Morrell 186)

Everything was created through him;
    nothing—not one thing!—
    came into being without him.

If we might take this in, we realize that it is almost too wonderful to believe, and yet, it is the reality in and by that, we are called to live. We might have some fears about how we are to surrender to this divine energy. So Rohr and Morrell continue.

God was in the world,
    the world was there through him,
    and yet the world didn’t even notice.
He came to his own people,
    but they didn’t want him.

“This same relationship shows itself in other myriad forms, such as endless animals and wildflowers, mountains and trees, every cultural attempt at art and science and medicine, all positive street theatre, and every movement of renewal. Every one of these manifestations expresses this endless desire to express new forms of life and externalized love. All things good, true, and beautiful are baptized in the one, same Spirit. The Holy Spirit shows herself as the central and healing power of absolute newness and healing in our relationship with everything else”. (Rohr and Morrell 186)

No one has ever seen God,
        not so much as a glimpse.
    This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,
        who exists at the very heart of the Father,
        has made him plain as day.

This divine energy wants all that is good for us. This divine energy brings all that is holy together in us so that goodness might overcome the darkness. This divine energy will never give up, and will never give in. This divine energy is God’s enormous and all-encompassing love as seen in the creator, the redeemer and the healer. This divine energy lives and loves in us.

When we compare varying translation of John’s prologue, we open ourselves to the divine energy of the Trinity. Tomorrow, everything is holy now.

For photos of Arizona sunsets in the southwest USA that echo divine energy, click on the image above and reflect on the divine energy of creation, or visit: http://www.arizona-leisure.com/arizona-pictures.html 

Rohr, Richard with Mike Morrell. THE DIVINE DANCE: THE TRINITY AND YOUR TRANSFORMATION. New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2016. Print. 

 

 

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