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Posts Tagged ‘obstacles’


Matthew 20:17-28: The Chalice

Wednesday, February 24, 2016communion-cup_bread

Salome, the mother of James and John, the Zebedee brothers, asks Jesus to give her sons places of honor in the new kingdom; yet she does not fully understand . . . and so Jesus explains the terrible and beautiful importance of this special cup of blessing.

From Psalm 116 (verses 12-18)

What can I give back to God
    for the blessings the LORD poured out on me?

We are accustomed to asking God for favors. Do we think about giving thanks for our cup of salvation?

I’ll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God!

We are accustomed to thanking God quietly and privately. Do we think to join our voices with others in praise of God’s goodness?

I’ll pray in the name of God;
I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do,
    and I’ll do it together with God’s people.

We are accustomed to joining in Sabbath prayer and song. Do we think about giving testimony to a broader circle about God’s mercy?

When they arrive at the gates of death,
    God welcomes those who love the LORD.
Oh, God, here I am, your servant,
    your faithful servant: set me free for your service!

bread cupWe are accustomed to approaching each day’s obstacles. Do we think about serving God by tending to the barriers we meet as Jesus does? Do we think about the cup we have asked to take as curse or blessing? Are we prepared to accept the cup that passes before us?

As we think about God’s beautiful and challenging cup of salvation, we remember our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “Let us make three tents to contain the joy of God’s wisdom,” let us think instead, “Let us share the joy of God’s great gift of love”.

Tomorrow, the rich man and Lazarus.

 

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James: Lessons in Love512px-Bible_paper

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

We have spent several weeks reflecting on James’s letter to the people of his day and to us in our own day. We have spent a number of weeks exploring his themes and sifting through his lessons. Some of our encounters with James make us uncomfortable. We are not always willing to step out of comfort zones and into a newness that tempts but does not guarantee. We are too often content with our harvest of the obvious before us and too often afraid to imagine the harvest of hope that God asks us to undertake.

epistle-of-james-project-590x382Other encounters with James bring a quiet understanding of God’s voice we hear in the precision and honesty of James’ words. We have felt Christ’s presence in the strength of James’ verses. We have been visited by the Spirit as we dwell in the wisdom of these Lessons in Love. Today we take time to gather these teachings and pledge to make them an active influence in our lives.

When we choose a Lesson in Love and decide to live it for the next month in our lives, what new possibility will open for us?

Chapter 1: The Value of Obstacles – the barriers we encounter are lessons in finding our inner strength in God.

Chapter 2: The Value of Balance – the extremes we experience are lessons in learning to balance God’s joy with the difficulties of the world.

JamesChapter 3: The Value of Living Wisely, Justly and Well – our words and actions indicate the quality of our discipleship in Christ.

Chapter 4: The Value of Turmoil – the storms and upheaval we meet are lessons in faith and hope in Christ.

Chapter 5: The Value of Patience – our common practices and plain speech are lessons in love and life in Christ.

And so we pray . . . Wise, Gentle, Balanced, Patient and Loving Jesus, continue to shepherd us as we take on your lessons in love. Speak to us clearly through the words of your servant James. Live in us daily through the power of your redeeming Spirit. Amen. 

james-1We might bookmark and re-visit this post when we are ready to enact another Lesson in Love as shown to us by James.

 

 

For notes on this letter, visit: http://www.usccb.org/bible/james/0

Tomorrow, our abundant helper . . . 

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Mark 16:1-3: Rolling Back the Stonerolling back the stone from the tomb

Sunday, September 6, 2015

[Mary Magdalene, Mary, the mother of James, and Salome] were saying to one another, “Who will roll back the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?”

Not long ago I heard a Ted Talk on rewilding on a day when I also had spent time reflecting on the last chapter of Mark’s Gospel. As a child I took for granted that the women who returned to Jesus’ tomb to dress his body might rely on finding someone to roll away the heavy stone for them. As an adult, I now better understand the trust these women, either knowingly or unwittingly, placed in God’s plan that they might be given the opportunity to serve as an integral part of the resurrection story. They thought they were going to anoint the dead body of a well-loved prophet and healer; but what God has in mind is their role as the first proclaimers of the Good News that Jesus has risen.

On that warm afternoon in August I considered how off the mark we are when we make plans with definitive outcomes without considering God’s input. And I determined to readjust my thinking yet again to leave my thinking more open to God’s powerful dreams and possibilities.

If we ever doubt God’s desire to love us into goodness, we need only remember the outcomes of giant dreams and enormous possibilities presented in these and other video presentations. Today we pause in our study of Mark’s story and remember why, and when and how the little roles we imagine for ourselves in kingdom building become opportunities for intimate relationship with our loving and healing God.

Watch one or all of the short clips below and consider how and when and why God rolls back the heavy stones in our lives. Reflect on the power of God to heal, restore and change . . . and how we humans fit into God’s amazing plan.

How Wolves Change Rivers at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysa5OBhXz-Q

How Whales Change Climate: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M18HxXve3CM

Humpback Whale Shows Appreciation after Being Freed from Nets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tcXU7G6zhjU

To learn more about ancient tombs, click on the image above or visit: http://www.bible-archaeology.info/tombs.htm

To learn more abour rewilding, visit: http://rewilding.org/rewildit/

More Ted Talks can be found at: https://www.ted.com/talks 

 Visit the Noontimes post, The Magdalen, at: https://thenoontimes.com/2012/07/22/the-magdalene/ 

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paths 5Monday, April 7, 2014

Matthew 13:1-17

So Many Paths – Part III

Jesus says: “To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, more will be taken away”.

Some lives are hidden journeys, following tracks laid down by unknown forces that pull us forward rapidly.  We fly past dense underbrush that hides us from the openness of the world. We are enslaved to a strict pathway that does not allow for deviation in any way. Journeys like this seem pleasant and ordered but they eliminate the opportunity to make choices. We find that we have no freedom. When we realize that we have chosen a pathway that thinks for us and keeps us away from the fullness of creation, we find that we are missing out not only on risk and danger but on our own development. We begin to understand Jesus’ words when he says that those with more will prosper and those with little will fail. It dawns on us that these words do not refer to material goods but rather, to a life lived in fullness of heart versus a life lived with a narrowness of mind. A constricted, prescribed and confining journey brings with it its own punishment of more constriction; while open and generous pathways call us out of ourselves and ask us to stretch. Open and flexible journeys offer us a new prosperity of love, peace and fulfillment. We discover that as we move away from restriction to stretch beyond our comfort zones, we learn about the depth and breadth and beauty of our gifts.

paths 6“This is why I speak in parables, because ‘they look but do not see and hear but do not listen or understand’. Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them”.

There are paths that bring us changes that are so sudden that at first we believe ourselves to be lost. Huge, impassable obstacles loom large before us and all we see is a roadblock. All we hear is chaos. When we look closely, however, to discern God’s plan and call, we notice alternative routes we had not previously seen. We hear precious words of advice and encouragement to which we had earlier been deaf. With this new discovery of trusting God, we also realize a life of eagerness, adventure and acumen. We become wiser. We hear better. We see further. We find endurance. We find that we can bear far more that we had imagined. We understand that we are loved far more than we had hoped. Our eyes see opportunity where before we had seen loss; our ears hear rejoicing where before we heard only dirges.

paths 14Blessed are your eyes, because they see, and your ears because they hear. Many prophets and righteous people have longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.

Spaths 9ome journeys convince us that the world is made of two kinds of people: the good and the bad. We find ourselves believing the illusion that we can divide everyone and every idea into opposing camps or positions. And then we find ourselves either allying with the position we think is the safest and most suitable . . . or we struggle to achieve an impossible compromise that addresses none of the problems we find before us. This kind of living begins as an innocent attempt to simplify our journey, and it ends in a passage that is rigid, unforgiving and blind.

Tomorrow, So Many Paths – Part IV.

 

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Monday, July 1, 2013

The Word of God

The Word of God

1 John 1:1-4

The Word of Life

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of Life – for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us – what we have seen and heard we proclaim now to you, so that you too many have fellowship with us; for our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We are writing this so that our joy may be complete.

We are a visual, tactile people.  We look for data. We rely on evidence.  We want facts.  We seek reason over emotion and the Apostle John understands this – as does God.

God says: I know that you want cold, hard proof that I am with you and yet you have it each day at your rising to a new sun and a new beginning.  Did I not awaken you this morning? I understand that you rest on science and law and that you measure your life with scientific and legal standards.  Do I not show you my justice and mercy every minute of every hour each day as you go through your work and play? I comprehend that you have fears and anxieties that rattle you and shake your confidence.  Will I abandon you when you lay your head to rest this night to gather strength for a new day?  You can rely on the testimony of the Beloved Apostle who recounts his experiences to you.  Learn to trust his word . . . for it is mine. 

When doubt assails us we waver.  When obstacles obstruct our path we stumble.  When opposing arguments clatter around us we shrink and hesitate.  John tells us today that these doubts, obstacles and arguments are as nothing before the profound truth that supports and protects us. John speaks to us with passion so that we too might believe.  Spend some time with John 1:1-5 today and explore your fears and joys about the message you hear.

For more thoughts on Jesus as the Word of God, click on the image above or go to: http://www.successandfailure.net/blog/2010/09/24/the-revelation-of-jesus-the-word /

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Celebration of Self


Tuesday, October 23, 2012 – Matthew 2 – 4  – Celebration of Self

In these early chapters of Matthew’s story of Jesus, we see the man who is Messiah respond to the voice crying in the desert; he bows to God’s call for baptism – and enters the Jordan to receive this sign of God’s blessing at the hands of his cousin John.  Then he confronts the Pharisees and the Sadducees, naming their addiction to power and corruption. 

We go with Jesus into the desert where he fasts and meditates on the call he has received and which he also knows will lead to his personal suffering.  Jesus establishes the devil’s proper place, naming his lust for darkness and control. 

Jesus withdraws into Capernaum, a place in which he grew up, a place he knows well.  Jesus begins to preach; and he begins to draw to himself the group of men and women who accompany him in his journey to Jerusalem and the cross.  He establishes the Kingdom, naming its source and purpose.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Meditation by Fr. Maurice Zundel: A human being who barricades himself is an unhappy being; he suffers because he cannot be himself. 

Matthew offers us, in this opening of the Jesus story, a model for responding to God’s call and for putting sorrow and happiness into their proper balance.  He confronts, he names, he establishes.  He remains open to the outrageous possibility that all humankind might be saved and brought into light. He balances his actions with retreats, he keeps poises himself on the pivot point of his life . . . and he becomes who he is meant to be – the Messiah.

We are offered this same opportunity by God.  Each of us stands on the fulcrum of opposites that call us to our potential – for better or for worse.  We can choose to sink into despair and sorrow, or we can choose to rise in joy.  And we do this each day because the Christ who razes all mountains and fills all valleys makes this choice available to us through his own willingness to rise and obey. 

Looking at this example, let us take down the barricades we have erected.  Let us move into our true selves and our true ministry.  Let us give thanks.  And let us be open to this celebration of self.  

 Written on October 14, 2009 and published today as a Favorite.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation for the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 10.14 (2009). Print.  

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