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Posts Tagged ‘openness’


Baruch 2: The Road to Destruction or Redemption – Part I

Wednesday, November 23, 2022road to destruction

The apocryphal book of Baruch tells us how to live in exile; and in particular Chapter 2 gives us an important, two-fold message. It reminds us that God always fulfills promises, and it also gives us an outline of how we might make our way back to the covenant we have chosen to abandon.

In Chapters 16 to 18 of Revelation we come upon something that reminds us of the infinite forgiveness and mercy of God. We see once again that in God all things are possible. We have understood the importance of being faithful in small ways to God.  We have understood that closed, exclusive groups which stultify possibility and potential, darkness which hides and subsumes potential, and silence which conceals and enables deceit . . . will never conquer openness which spawns universal communion, light which calls forth authentic life lead in integrity, and praise of God which magnifies truth and joy.

Light_at_the_End_of_the_RoadIn the end, God’s will of universal openness and light leads to jubilation.  The dark world which opposes this truth germinates in envy and ends in destruction.  And those who work so hard at building up a closed empire of self rather than an open kingdom of all, bring about their own  destruction at their own hands. We see this countless times. What is the allure of the darkness and deceit that is so tempting? It is the same siren call of Satan to Adam and Eve in Eden, You will be like gods . . .

There is something about the road to perdition that answers our human need to control.  There is something about this broad highway leading to the wide gate that brings comfort to those who travel it in their closed special groups. The aching longing to be the bride who is rescued and loved by the steadfast, powerful groom is universal. Yet we insist on filling this yearning with superficial, finite relationships which ironically do not satisfy, and which ultimately destroy. We must respond to the summons of the road and choose redemption rather than perdition.

Tomorrow, Part II.


Adapted from a favorite from November 8, 2008.

Images from: https://www.redbull.com/int-en/mysterious-places-part-5 and https://fineartamerica.com/featured/country-road-sunlight-streaming-through-trees-elaine-plesser.html

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John 17:1-5: Glory, Part VIII – Unityuniversality

Monday, July 25, 2022

In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul describes for us Unity and Variety (12:1-14); we are accustomed to looking for those characteristics that define as unique.  Today we look at the idea of glory as found in the unity of God’s variety.

Today’s lesson on Glory: The great diversity we find in God’s creation call us to come together in unity through Christ.

It is true that there is great variety in God’s creation and that we are a part of that variety.  It is also true that many of us are uncomfortable when approached by a person or an idea that varies from what we expect or want. Today we read this prayer of Jesus’ in which Jesus intercedes for all — and not some – of the people. So what do we do about those who are not on our invitation lists, in our lunch group or book club, on our street, in our political party or in our church pews? How do we begin to include all of creation that we have not regarded as one with all of us?   When we hear Jesus today, we understand that he glorifies God by obeying God in making this universal call to all.

This is the call to find unity rather than division is one which we must take up and then extend to others.  This is the call that gives glory to the Father. This is the call that we can answer if we reply with the patience, openness, and understanding of Christ.

For this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. 

Let us spend time today with Jesus’s words as we consider who and what separates us from God’s glory that calls all to be one in Christ. And let us reflect on our concept of eternal life as described by Jesus.


Adapted from a reflection written on August 17, 2008.

 Image from: http://www.spirituality.org/is/150/editorial.asp or http://www.icsu.org/publications/about-icsu/icsu-universality-of-science-2006

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Psalm 119:25-32

daleth[1]Daleth

I lie prostrate in the dust; give me life . . . I disclosed my ways and you answered me . . . you open my docile heart . . .

We find ourselves at our lowest ebb; we see the abyss yawning before us . . . and yet we know that God is with us; we know that God has the power to do the impossible with, and for, and in each of us.

God says: You may see your world as hostile and lacking nourishment yet what I see is a universe of hearts and souls. When you bring me your dreams I dream them with you. When you bring me your pain I suffer with you. When you bring me your joy I celebrate with you. 

We must strive to be open and vulnerable to God.  We must put aside our reliance on self rather than God. And we must be willing to dream what at first seems impossible.

Today we reflect on the fourth lesson in Psalm 119.  It is a reminder that with God all things are possible. Tomorrow, He.

Jesus said to them: If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, “Move from here to there”, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.  (Matthew 17:20)


To learn more about the importance of the Hebrew letter Daleth, click on the word or the image above, or go to: http://gnosticteachings.org/courses/alphabet-of-kabbalah/716-daleth.html and http://www.flickr.com/photos/the-meir/381626970/

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Friday, November 27, 2020

Judges 13-16

Light Overcomes the Darkness

We know the story of Samson and Delilah well. He the child whose birth an angel announces to a barren woman and who is reared with devotion. She a Philistine woman with the power to bewitch and who uses any means to achieve her goal. When we read this familiar story slowly, we will find many twists and turns left out of the abbreviated version we usually hear, and these turnings will give us the opportunity to reflect on the parts of our own lives that might mirror the fortunes and failures of this complicated story.

We see Samson as the clever solver of riddles who visits harlots, a warrior of incredible strength who wishes to marry outside of his tribe. We see him rise to fame and power and we also see him stumble and fall into a mockery of his former self.

We watch Delilah enter into Samson’s confidence to exact his secret for a price, using any trick or deception to gain the tightly held information. In her campaign to learn about his power, Delilah says to Samson, How can you say that you love me when you do not confide in me?  She chooses her words well because Samson took her completely into his confidence and told her. 

There is a part in each of us that identifies with both Samson and Delilah.  There is betrayal, deception, anger and revenge. And there is also a strength and light that persists despite the darkness.

As we approach the Advent season, a time of year when we celebrate the arrival of a new light into a world of darkness, we will want to prepare ourselves for the gift of truth and openness that Christ brings. With the dawning of this great awakening, let us examine our way of living and resolve to put away any darkness that leads us away from God, and let us welcome the light that is Christ.

Let us petition God for greater fidelity to our covenant promise to walk with Christ.

Let us petition God for deeper courage to remain steadfast in Christ.

Let us petition God for Samson-like strength to choose life that unites and enlightens rather than death that divides and scatters.

Let us petition God for the light that we know will overcome all darkness, no matter how deep, no matter how intense.

And let us remain in this light of Christ always, for it is the only power that overcomes the dark.   


Adapted from a reflection written on November 25, 2009.

Image from: https://www.wga.hu/html_m/s/stom/samson.html

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Thursday, October 1, 2020

purity_heart[1]1 Peter 1:22

Mutual Love

Since you have purified yourselves by obedience to the truth for sincere mutual love, love one another intensely from a [pure] heart.

Peter has led us along The Way with Christ.  He has described our gift and call.  He has explained the benefits of obedience and the look of true reverence.  Today he brings us to the heart of Christ – to mutual love.

God says: I am sometimes saddened by the way you look away when I speak of purity. When I speak to you of this quality it is not cleanliness and spotlessness that I have in my mind. This is a kind of perfection that causes you to think of yourself as flawed and imperfect – and these are words I do not use when I think of you. Rather, the purity I plant in you is one which brings clarity to your world, one which engenders in you a simplicity of mind and purpose. The purity of which I speak does away with complications and convolutions. You should not find yourself twisted as you aspire to purity for this simplicity of spirit is accompanied by ease and straightforwardness, by openness and directness, by honesty and mutual love.

In Luke’s Gospel we hear these well-known words from Jesus: If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.  (Luke 6:32-36)

Let us take a few moments to listen to the words of Peter for he is one who travelled closely and well with Jesus.  He is one who understands the depth and breadth and height of mutual love.

Tomorrow, the imperishable seed of God’s Word.


Image from: http://knockingonthebrotheldoor.wordpress.com/

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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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 Sirach 36:18-27: Choosing Associates

Sunday, October 20, 2019

He calls from the heavens and the earth from above to witness the judgment of his people.  “Gather before me my loyal followers, those who have made a covenant with me and sealed it with sacrifice”.  Let the heavens declare the righteous cause; for God himself is judge.  Psalm 50:4-6

The mark of a solid associate is one who will sacrifice self in order to seal the covenant promise with God.  We are not called to submit to abuse, but rather . . . to witness to that which is indifferent, self-serving, deceitful.  We are asked to build bridges to one another, to be open to one another, to form community with one another in trust, fidelity and prudent stewardship of ourselves and our resources.  To do this well, it is best to choose associates who are open, worthy of trust, and who witness to the values brought to us by Jesus in his Gospel story.  At the same time as we gather those around us who think in like manner, we are also called to be open to the possibility that redemption and salvation nearly always comes through sacrifice, through suffering – particularly when this pain is offered for the conversion of those who have harmed us.

The Prayer Appointed for the Week from THE DIVINE HOURS: PRAYERS FOR SUMMERTIME by Phyllis Tickle is useful as night falls and we turn toward home.  Grant me, O Lord, to trust in you with all my heart; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

Trusting in God to speak to us in the hushed depths of our hearts empowers us to wait in quiet and in patience until God speaks the words we must hear.  We also know that Sin speaks to the sinner in the depths of his heart.  There is no fear before God in his eyes.  He so flatters himself in his mind that he knows not his guilt.  In his mouth are mischief and deceit.  All wisdom is gone.  He plots the defeat of goodness as he lies on his bed.  He has set his foot on evil ways, he clings to what is evil.  Your love, Lord, reached to heaven; your truth to the skies.  Your justice is like is like God’s mountain, your judgment like the deep.  (Psalm 36). 

When we find ourselves in deep water, it is best to become a diver . . .

Whether we are the sinner or the victim, God knows the path to our heart.  Whether we are betrayer or betrayed, God knows the words that will call us home.  When we find ourselves in deep water, it is best to become a diver . . . to explore our own depths, calling on God to reveal his truth to us in a way that we can take it in.

I believe that many of us shrink from our deepest consciousness and that this is evidenced in our addictions to too much television, too much internet, too much food, too much narcissism.  So often I hear the phrase, “I just don’t want to go there”.  But no matter how much we avoid our own path of conversion, God will seek us out.  Jesus ben Sirach instructs us that a deceitful character causes grief, but an experienced man may turn the tables on him.  For my part, when confronted with deceit, I find it best to rely on God’s judgment and wisdom . . . he has far more experience than I.  On God’s wisdom I wait.  For God’s patience I pray.  In God’s love I trust.  Amen.


Written on September 07, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Images from: https://me.me/i/hold-onto-good-friends-they-are-fe-w-and-far-4085896 and http://www.eagle-divers.com/scuba-news/item/is-there-a-best-time-to-visit-the-red-sea-for-diving

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Genesis 47Willingness

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Konstantin Flavitsky: Brothers Sell Joseph into Slavery

In Genesis 45:5-8 we hear the beautiful words of forgiveness which Joseph speaks to his brothers who colluded to exterminate him . . . do not be distressed, and do not reproach yourselves for having sold me here.  It was really for the sake of saving lives that God sent me ahead of you . . . for you are a remnant on earth and to save your lives is an extraordinary deliverance.  So it was not really you but God who had me come here . . . Joseph understands how God’s plan arrives at benefit for all through the suffering of some.  He believes – because he has witnessed it in his own life – that God turns harm to good, envy to love.  Today we reflect on his action of interceding with Pharaoh on behalf of his brothers who sold him into slavery.  This is a message of willing obedience . . . open readiness . . . faith in goodness . . . hope in the outrageous . . . and love for the unlovable.  It is a story of fidelity in its truest sense.  Fidelity to God, to the remnant people, to self.  Joseph lives up to his true potential, to God’s best hope for and in him.

I love this story of a joy-filled child who invokes envy in his siblings, of a handsome youth who innocently stirs lust in his mistress, of a young man who continues to believe in his God despite his apparent ill luck.  I am moved by the willingness in which he lives.  I am encouraged by the honesty with which he treats not only others but himself.  I am inspired by the magnitude of his gestures, the purity of his thinking.  Joseph carries no rancor.  He is not bitter.  He refuses to be discouraged.  He rejects complicity and deception.  He is cautious and prudent; yet giving and tender.  Joseph is one of my favorite figures of Scripture.  His story is a good one; and it is one to which we ought to refer when we find ourselves in endless turmoil or deep grief.

Joseph knows how to mourn.  He knows that when he waits in God, goodness will follow on the heels of evil.  He knows how to sacrifice in honest willingness.

Joseph knows how to keep his word.  He knows how to abide in patient loving, just as God has abided with him.  He knows how to wait for fruition and fulfillment.

Joseph Bourgeois: Joseph Recognized by his Brothers

Joseph knows how to share.  He knows with a keen understanding that his success is sweetest when given back to God.  He knows that God is the source and summit of all that is good and that to hoard this goodness for himself is counter to the action of God’s mercy which he himself has experienced.

Joseph knows how to celebrate.  He knows that he cannot take credit for the goodness he experiences.  He knows that humility conquers pride and that littleness is greatness, for he sees this in the actions of God in his own life.

Joseph knows how to praise God.  He knows that even when success finally arrives, he must continue to follow God’s lead.  He knows that all that he has and all that he is belong to God alone.

Joseph waits, he witnesses, and then he acts out of his own salvation.  He allows his own conversion in God to convert others . . . and so in this way he allows his willingness to save more than himself.  He helps to save the very people who would have seen his destruction.

We might want to sit with the story of Joseph for a bit today to ponder our own willingness to enter into God’s plan . . . to examine our own willingness to intercede with Pharaoh for those who would have eliminated us, but who have begun their own conversion.


A re-post from February 14, 2012.

Images from: http://freechristimages.org/biblestories/josephs_dreams.htm and http://www.biblical-art.com/biblicalsubject.asp?id_biblicalsubject=92&pagenum=1

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Matthew 9:18-26The Tassels on our Cloaks

Saturday, October 13, 2018

In this reading we have a clear sense of the kind of excitement Jesus creates and the energy that moves through him.  We see this healing power as something beyond our own selves, something we see or watch  and even thrill in but never expect to experience much less wield on our own.  Too many times we regard miracles as myth or fantasy, stories that people pass along to one another like little worry dolls that lessen anxiety.  And too often we close our eyes to the miracles that happen before us or worse, we declaim them as the result of science or coincidence.  We miss the powerful and life-changing truth brought home to us in today’s Noontime: Miracles happen to and for and in us every day . . . and they have the power to heal others – not only ourselves – as they pass through us.

In this portion of Matthew’s Gospel we see Jesus immersed in a throng of people.  Some of them are merely curious about this Jewish teacher; others distrust him and look for tidbits of information to sell to his enemies.  And still others are desperate for Jesus’ healing touch like the woman suffering hemorrhages or the synagogue official.  They believe so honestly and deeply that they dare to approach him with their request.  Mark’s version of this same story elucidates for us (5:21-43).  The woman suffered greatly at the hands of many doctors and had spent all she had searching for a cure.  She reaches to touch only the tassel of Jesus’ cloak, and Jesus is aware that the power has gone out of him.  A miracle has taken place.  When she is called forth, the woman approaches in fear and trembling, and Jesus explains: Daughter, your faith has saved you.  Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.  Commentary tells us that Mosaic Law prescribed tassels to be worn on the corners of cloaks as reminders of fidelity to that law and we might wonder: Is it possible that a single touch of the tassel dangling from Jesus’ cloak is enough to heal this woman?  Can it be that her belief in the possibility of a miracle opens her to receive the power emanating from Christ?  Might we be as open to this possibility . . . or are we more doubting than believing?

The official Jairus also puts aside his fear to ask Jesus’ help.  He dares to approach the man condemned by many in his community on the chance that his daughter might be brought back to him.  Do not be afraid, Jesus says when word arrives that the child has died.  Just have faith.  Do we dare to go against the pressures of society to believe that there is more to healing than science?  Do we have the courage to publicly ask help of the one who is so powerful that even the tassel on his cloak transmits this incredible curing gift?  Might we be as bold in our belief . . . or are we more fearful than fearless?

The intertwined stories of this high official and the Canaanite woman speak to us clearly . . . but we must be as open and as bold as these two believers.  From the highest to the humblest . . . we are all so valued by Jesus that he will heal us.  From the strongest to the weakest . . . we are all so precious to Jesus that the simple touch of his cloak will heal us.  From the prominent to the insignificant . . . we are all so loved by Jesus that he wants to bring us back from the death of disbelief to a life in faith with him.  And how marvelous it might be if rather than hoard up these special favors . . . we might share them with others as signs of our belief . . . as tassels on our cloaks.

And so we pray . . .

Powerful yet tender Jesus, we know that our lives are intertwined with yours like the warp and weft of the interlocking threads in your miraculous cloak.  We ask boldly yet humbly for the marvelous, life-giving and sustaining gift of your miracles.  Help us to knit these miracles so powerfully into our lives that our own cloaks emanate your healing touch.  Remind us to wear these miracles you grant us like tassels on our cloaks so that we might share the good news that each of us is free to reach out to you each day, and that you are eager to come into our homes and hearts.   

Keep us ever open . . . keep us constantly bold . . . and remain with us always as we struggle to believe in you.  Amen. 


A re-post from September 10, 2011.

Images from: http://pastorfergus.wordpress.com/

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