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Posts Tagged ‘openness to God’


Matthew 2:1-12Leaving by Another Road – A Reprise

Epiphany Sunday, January 7, 2018

Edward Burne-Jones: The Adoration of the Magi

With Christmastide ended, we find ourselves observing the official feast of Epiphany. What significance does this feast hold for us? To further explore, we return to a Noontime reflection on the wisdom of the Magi. We reflect on the wisdom they reveal, the wisdom of patience, willingness, and  openness . . . as they listen to God’s voice that speaks within. 

I love this portion of the Christmas story.  The wise men are so wise that they are able to read Herod’s secret intent.  Nothing can be hidden from the wise because they are so connected to the creator that they seem to have special insight.  What they really have is patience, serenity, and a finely tuned ear for God’s word.  And so the wise men left for their own country by another road.

I am thinking about the number of times I have averted disaster because that calm, strong voice within indicated that I was to stay put.  We notice that an attitude of patience and a willingness to obey always accompany the wise.  They do not appear to be brash or excitable.  They do not speak harshly, nor are they silenced.  Like the Persistent Widow, they know when to persevere in speaking God’s word.  And like the Three Magi, they know when to stand down and melt away into God’s protecting presence.

The wise know when to stand and witness . . . and when to leave quietly by another road.

A reflection from June 7, 2011.

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Genesis 23 & Tobit 3: God’s Yardstick – Sarah

Strength in Reliance

Jan Provoost: Abraham, Sarah and an Angel

Jan Provoost: Abraham, Sarah and an Angel

Saturday, January 9, 2016

In these opening days of a new year, we look for ways to better see God’s yardstick in our lives, and for ways to leave the world’s yardstick behind.

Two women named Sarah figure in scriptures and today as we remember their stories we better understand that God’s promise is so often delivered through surprise. Choose one of these stories – or both if there is time – and look for God’s yardstick.

Genesis Chapters 12-23 tell us the story of Sarah, wife of Abraham and mother of Isaac. Although we know this story well, it is likely that we have not spent time beyond the basic facts that are obvious to us. She traveled with her husband and his family from Ur to Haran and was barren for much of her married life. She was so beautiful that her husband asked her to pose as his sister to avoid creating jealousy among Egyptian leaders and endangering his life. She suggested that her husband take her slave Hagar to his bed so that he might engender an heir with her; then later asked him to banish the slave and child when the younger woman took on a disparaging attitude. Sarah prepared a meal for strangers and then laughed when they told her that she would conceive at the age of 90. She was buried in Machpelah Cave near Hebron. When we focus on even a portion of her story, we find that Sarah shows humor, resiliency, and openness to God’s presence in her life.

Jan Steen: Tobias and Sarah on their Wedding Night

Jan Steen: Tobias and Sarah on their Wedding Night

Tobit 3 introduces us to Sarah who prays for death to come to her quickly. In Chapters 6-12 we follow Tobias and Sarah as the angel Raphael ushers them through danger. We may know this about the Sarah who marries Tobias: she is married to seven men who die on their wedding night, she and Tobit pray for death at the same moment and God hears them both, she travels from Ecbatana to Nineveh and back to Ecbatana with Tobias who – with help from the angel Raphael – routs the demon who has plagued her. When we explore her story, we find that Sarah withstands false accusations that mount against her by relying on God to solve problems that appear to have no solution.

Strength that flows from reliance on God and belief that with God all things are possible. This is the yardstick with which these two women measure their lives.

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Thursday, August 8, 2013

questions%20-%20fotolia_38274417%20-%20web_417x313[1]Jeremiah 12:1-2

Why?

You would be in the right, O Lord, if I should dispute with you; even so, I must discuss the case with you.  Why does the way of the godless prosper, why live all the treacherous in contentment?  You planted them; they have taken root, they keep on growing and bearing fruit.  You are upon their lips, but far from their inmost thoughts.

Like most of God’s prophets, Jeremiah asks the Lord direct questions.  He brings his confusion, heartache and pain to the Creator who knows and sees all.  Like Jeremiah, we must bring all of our big and petty woes to God. For with God is the answer we seek.

God says: I am not bothered by the billions of questions that fly to me each day and night.  I am not angered.  I am not threatened.  There is nothing you can ask that will turn me away from you.  So ask.  How else will you find peace?  I will always answer . . . even though you may not be prepared to hear the reply.  Even then I will guide you to understanding.  All you need do is remain open and ready for dialog.  I long to listen and speak to you.  Be not afraid to ask the questions that are in your heart.  Persist and be open, and we will speak with one another.

“How is it that evil prospers?”  “Why do the wicked enjoy life while the faithful suffer?”  “When will God’s justice divide the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff?”  “Where is God when so much envy and hate destroy all that is good?”  “What is the point of seeing the weeds pollute the harvest?”

These are questions the faithful feel rise from within when they see injustice in the world.  These are the questions the faithful must bring to God . . . for with God lie the consolation and the replies.

Tomorrow, Job, another faithful servant, hears The Lord’s Speech . . .

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Saturday, February 4, 2012 – Micah 7 – Teachability

Written on february 3, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Tanner: The Savior

Today we read about a people who find themselves in such dire straits that no one is to be trusted but God – not even a dear friend or a family member.  I am thinking of the times in my life when I have allowed myself to be wrongly steered by companions and relatives – and this kind of miss-steering usually comes out of both their fears and my own.  At times like these, Micah tells us, we are to turn to God for this all-knowing, all-seeing justice, mercy, and wisdom are the only tools we will need.  They are the sole valid markers in circumstances where the culture of the day reigns rather than the spirit of God. The eternal serenity that comes from acting in humility and meekness – and by this I mean teachability – is the only remedy for extreme or grim conditions.

It is painful to realize that a loved one has been lenient with us and even pampered us in fear of losing our friendship.  It is humiliating to know that while we have been in a relationship of trust, a friend or kinsman has been less than truthful out of their own fear of conflict.  Yet it is precisely these conditions which always offer us the opportunity to draw nearer and closer to the one source that understands us better than any person in our present life.  It is only God who knows what is best to do.  And we can only hear the teaching we will need for these circumstances when we allow ourselves to be teachable.

We do not often think of Christ as a child but I like to remember a painting I saw in a Baltimore exhibit of paintings by Henry Tanner.  This site will show you some of his work but it does not contain my favorite . . . a sun drenched yet shady scene of the Blessed Mother with the child Jesus at her side.  The scroll she is using to teach has unfurled at their feet, and they bend to their work.  This is the image of Christ I hold before me when I am trying to learn from difficulties in my life.  Christ looking on as his mother points to figures and pronounces their sounds.

http://negroartist.com/negro%20artist/Henry%20Ossawa%20Tanner/index.htm

Joseph taught Jesus the craft of carpentry.  This is inferred from scripture and taught by tradition.  In the garden at Gethsemane Christ allowed himself to be taught by the father in heaven.  As he moved toward his crucifixion he kept his mind open to the messages the humanity in him needed to hear in order to perform the tasks required of his divinity.  We too, share this task of using all that is human in us to reach out for what is divine.  This is difficult work and yet we must not think that we are alone in this.  For the one who made us and saved us and comforts us is with us still.  In all circumstances, on all days, throughout all nights, at all times.

And so we pray as we did yesterday . . . Sweet and gentle God, when we are confused and feeling lost, teach us just as your mother and father taught you.  When we are exhausted and knowing not which way to turn, bring us to you, wrap us in your gentle arms, tell us how to pray, teach us what we are to do and how we are to act.  We place all trust in you.  Keep us ever with you.  Amen. 

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