Posts Tagged ‘optimism’

Sirach 49:11-13: Heroes after Exile

Monday, May 22, 2023lessons-nehemiah

Over the last several days, we reflected on the idea of taking a dare on the strength of the relationship between God and humanity. Today we return to a favorite as we reflect on Nehemiah, a man who led his people out of exile and created an environment in which they might become heroes. How might we live our own lives as new Nehemiahs?

Nehemiah was the administrator who brought his own money, sweat and tears to the reconstruction of the Temple and the walls of Jerusalem.  He provided not only the structure, organization and the will, but the risk-taking attitude and perseverance to create the continuity between the pre and post exile worlds.  He created an environment for the Word of God to flourish in the post-captivity Jerusalem.  At various times over these several years as we have spent Noontime together, we have reflected on this man, this work, this wisdom, this patience, this persistence, this dedication and devotion to God.  These are all qualities necessary for discipleship.

As we go about our lives we are continually called to rebuild and to reconstitute ourselves and others.  We are called to Christ, the one who saves.

nehemiah's wall

Nehemiah’s Wall

True heroes are those who understand that the saving work they do – their amazing feats, their miracles – come from God.  They know that God is the source of all goodness and healing.  And they praise God unceasingly in the midst of turmoil and strife.  True heroes create structures and times and places in which God can dwell with the faithful.  True heroes find reward in the endless suffering that accompanies discipleship.  True heroes are rare.  When we find them, we best hold on to them, and follow.

Adapted from a favorite from May 9, 2008.

To reflect on the nature of optimism, watch Tari Shalot’s Ted Talk on The Optimism Bias. Enter the name Nehemiah into the blog search bar and explore this man’s determination and willingness to take a risk. Click on the image of Nehemiah’s wall above to learn about the archeological work at Nehemiah’s wall and gate. Or visit: http://www.biblicalarchaeologytruth.com/nehemiahs-wall.html

Images from: http://www.bloggingtheologically.com/2009/03/09/lessons-from-nehemiah-1-humility/ and http://www.biblicalarchaeologytruth.com/nehemiahs-wall.html

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John 8:1-11: Throwing Stones – Part IV

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Joyce Storey with her badge from Chefoo, a Japanese Concentration Camp

Joyce Storey with her badge from Chefoo, a Japanese Concentration Camp

What tax or tithe do we surrender when we give in to the temptation to throw stones? And what do we gain? How are we transformed when we render our suffering for, with and in Christ? 

How do we forgive the unforgivable?

Swarms of people came to Jesus. He sat down and taught them.

How do we guard against a smug or prideful attitude?

The religion scholars and Pharisees led in a woman who had been caught in an act of adultery. They stood her in plain sight of everyone.

How do we open ourselves to possibility rather than close ourselves off from the potential for hope?

They were trying to trap him into saying something incriminating so they could bring charges against him. “The sinless one among you, go first: Throw the stone.” 

How do we turn the horrible into the beautiful?

Hearing that, they walked away, one after another, beginning with the oldest. The woman was left alone. 

When we find ourselves in the impossible, we look for the pivot point of change.

Does no one condemn you? Go on your way. From now on, don’t sin.

Throwing stones is a dangerous temptation. Throwing stones ends the possibility for transformation. But in the throwing of stones there is always the shimmering potential of hope – no matter how small. Today we read about the women and children of a Girl Guides troop that survived years of life in a Japanese concentration camp. Explore their story at the sites below and consider what was gained by these women as they lived through the experience of thrown stones, and we reflect on the surprising result of optimism in the face of violence.

For more on the story of Girl Guides in the Chefoo concentration camp, click on the image or visit: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/local-news/birmingham-woman-tells-of-childhood-in-japanese-158102

When listening to the podcast, visit this site and move through part one to arrive at part two: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/559/captains-log?act=1 

For the transcript of the THIS AMERICAN LIFE episode airing this story, use this link:, This American Life – Cookies and Monsters

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