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Posts Tagged ‘order out of chaos’


Psalm 89Steadfast Love

Friday, October 12, 2018

Written on March 7 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Righteousness, justice, faithfulness and steadfast love – these are the tenets of God’s covenant with David and we see steadfast love repeated in this song.  This puts me in mind of Paul’s beautiful anthem to love in 1 CorinthiansLove is patient, love is kind.  It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.  For we know it in part and we prophecy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfection disappears.  When I was a child I talked like a child, I reasoned like a child.  When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me.  Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  And now these three remain: faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

The Mosaic Law has many parts and multiple nuances.  The Law that Christ brings, the Law of Love, is but one that supersedes all others; this one law is the perfection of love as we see it lived by Jesus.

In today’s Psalm we see the “creative work of God as a defeat of the powers of chaos”.  The references to the north and south signify the entire whole universe.  The great height of mounts Tabor and Hermon imply God’s might and omniscience.  Steadfast love and faithfulness are “personified here as companions or servants who lead the way of the Lord”.  Festal shouts describe the joy of the people.  We may be taunted from time to time that God has abandoned us as is the king in this psalm, but we know that it is impossible for God to abandon his creatures.  This hymn of praise to the creator himself helps to put us in proper relationship to God; and it reminds us of God’s most salient characteristic . . . God is steadfast love.  (Mays 883-885)

In today’s Gospel from Mark (12:1-12) Jesus reminds us that although he is the cornerstone rejected by builders he will remain faithful and constant.  He tells the parable of the farmer who erects a vineyard and wine press and leaves it with tenants to go on a journey.  When the master wishes to collect what is due him, his servants and even his son are rejected and even put to death.  So too are those who follow Christ; but we are to remain steadfast just as God is steadfast.  We are to remain in love, just as Christ remains in love.  And we are to sing of God’s steadfast love and proclaim God’s faithfulness to the generations.  For this faithfulness is as firm as the heavens.  There is no other cornerstone that holds up the heavens and stands firm on the earth.  There is no other cornerstone on which to build our faith. 


A re-post from September 9, 2011.

Image from: http://www.layoutsparks.com/1/245315/relaxation-candles-heart-light.html

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 883-885. Print.

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Job 40:1-5: Arguing with the Almighty – Part I

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Leonid Afremov: Whirlwind of Feelings

I love to read the answer that God gives Job after all of those chapters of haranguing that go on between Job, his wife, and his friends.  Finally, Yahweh speaks out of the whirlwind to ask questions with a touch of sarcasm saying: Who are you to question me?  Where were you when the earth was formed, the stars set in the sky and the animals and vegetation created?  Job replies that he will now be silent to listen . . . and as God continues, we wonder if he means to sound so much like an unfeeling tyrant?  Does God not, we might ask, understand that Job has stood unjustly accused?  Does Yahweh not remember that Job has been a good and faithful servant?  Does God not understand the suffering and pain that Job has endured?  If we read through to end of the book, we will have an answer to these questions.

Leonid Afremov: Feelings of Work

Today’s reading echoes a feeling we may have from time to time: that God just does not “get it”.  There are moments when we feel as though God does not understand what it is like to be human, and it seems that the lines between guilt and innocence are blurred. If the innocent suffer along with the guilty, what is the point in being righteous and behaving well?  Of course, we will understand, if we read on and if we reflect that guilt and innocence are not what God is concerned about here.  Yahweh questions Job to ask him if he is prepared to be the deity who oversees a vast and complex realm.  Of course, Job is not. Realizing that no human could order the universe and bring completion to such a chaotic world, Job listens to the message God gives him. Yahweh and Job end their dialog by returning to what is important; they each remain in their proper roles: loving, protecting creator and loyal, obedient creature.  In this final dialog, we see that both Yahweh and Job know and express who they are and what their nature is.

Tomorrow, when God seems to be distant . . .

For more reflections on weathering the whirlwind, enter the word in the blog search bar and explore. 

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 27, 2008.

 

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Nehemiah 3: Organization

Saturday, October 14, 2017

When we spend time with the Genesis creation account, we so often move quickly through the opening verses to get to the heart of the story: God creating light, the dome in the sky, the stars and planets, the creatures of air, water and land, and then human life. Today we witness the organization that Nehemiah brings to the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls and Temple after destruction and exile. In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. (Genesis 1:1-2)

We have the opportunity today to sit with these two verses and with the third chapter of the Nehemiah story to reflect on how God moves in our lives in small and great ways. And we have the opportunity to open ourselves to the story of how God brings order out of chaos in our lives. What strategies for organization might we use as we open ourselves to the gift of God’s passionate insistence in nurturing and sustaining us?

Do we do as Nehemiah does when he surveys the damage and assesses the work to be done? Do we panic in fear or do we place that fear in God’s enormous, open hands?

Do we do as Nehemiah does when he recognizes the work ahead? Do we offer our daily lives to a pattern of prayer and work in the Spirit?

Do we do as Nehemiah does when he sees that nobles will not put their shoulders to the work? Do we repair gates to re-set the appropriate boundaries in our days and nights?

Do we do as Nehemiah does when he sees that the gardens have fallen into ruin? Do we prepare and consume healthy food to tend to the body?

Do we do as Nehemiah does when he sees that the watchtowers are gone? Do we set a prayer, reflection or meditation life to sustain the spirit?

Do we do as Nehemiah does when he sees that the artificial pool needs repair? Do we interact with others in wise and healthy places and times to nurture and renew the mind?

Each morning when we awake, the wind of God sweeps over us to see what organization our day might need so that we might live in God’s space and time. Each noontime the wind of God sweeps over us to untangle our plans that have gone awry. Each evening the wind of God sweeps over us to lay to rest all the anxieties we have carried into our homes. Each night the wind of God sweeps over us to remind us that all the ways our plans have gone astray are in truth opportunities to put ourselves into God’s all-seeing organization rather than our own.

Tomorrow, thwarting hostile plots.

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Isaiah 11: On that day . . .

Thursday, December 10, 2015lion and lamb

“Isaiah wrote during a period of upheaval and general unrest, as the Assyrian Empire was expanding and the northern kingdom of Israel facing decline and imminent disaster.  Judah [in the south] was also vulnerable, although her destruction was ultimately to come at the hands of a later power, Babylonia . . . Isaiah’s primary ministry was to the people of Judah, who were failing to live according to the requirements of God’s law.  But he prophesied judgment not only upon Judah but also upon Israel and the surrounding nations.  On the other hand, Isaiah delivered a stirring message of repentance and salvation for any who would turn to God. (Zondervan 1051)

In reading today’s Noontime we see that only a stump or remnant of David’s dynasty will remain, and this remnant will be in exile; but from this stump will rise the Messiah, the saver of all peoples.  Also in today’s reading we hear that the word of God will first be lost on those originally chosen, and will then find more fertile soil in the gentile nations.  This is a story of disaster giving bloom to fruit – of rejection giving birth to glory.  It is the story of Jesus’ coming and interaction with humankind.  Harm will be turned to good.  Hate will convert to love.  Rejection will be overridden by restoration.  All that has sought to divide will itself be conquered.  All that has been self-seeking will capitulate to union. Emmanuel – God among us – will rule.  Emmanuel – God amidst us – will save.

isaiah 11v1We can take comfort from these words when we find ourselves in situations that seem irredeemable.  We can also find consolation for the times when we feel devastating loss.  God is constantly looking to restore all that is good.  God is consistent in his love and in his insistence in love being the only power which ultimately survives the chaos of our existence.  The message is clear: On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.  On that day, the Lord shall again take it in hand to reclaim the remnant of his people . . .

We often think of the day of Christ’s coming as some distant time in the next life, but as we recently reflected on God’s power to control all time for all good, we realize that that day may be today or any day.  That day is the day that God wills.  As members of God’s body we come together in the hope that each day may be that day, that all days may be days when we clearly feel and see Emmanuel among us.

spirit1Rather than put our hopes in a distant day when things may come right, when hard hearts may eventually be softened, let us place our hope in this day.  And let us petition our God that each day may be that day.  Let us ready ourselves each morning for his coming.  Let us walk with him through each day.  And each evening as we lay our heads on pillows to slip into sleep, let us thank him that this day has – in some way or other – been that day. 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1051. Print.

A favorite from November 7, 2009.

 

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Joshua 4: Memorial Stonesstanding stones

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

We have reflected on the contents we will find when we open the ark of our lives before God.  Will we find stone tablets with God’s law written upon them, or will we see an open and softened heart converted by God’s love?  Will we find manna of God’s word that we have kept for ourselves but forgotten to share, or will that sustaining Word be present in our interactions with God’s people and all creation?  And will we find the staff of life, the rod of God’s miracles in our lives kept in darkness, or will we see that it blooms in all we think and say and do as a result of our intimate relationship with Jesus?  What will we have saved as treasures and tokens of God’s active presence in our lives?  Will we want to unpack and re-pack what we find?  Will we be content with the content of the ark of our life?

Today’s Noontime continues this story of God’s power and willingness to save.  The Israelites have for a second time crossed a rushing body of water that under normal conditions would have swept them away; and what we read about now is their eagerness to record the wonder of this event, how they respond to God’s request that memorial stones be set in place to commemorate the bond between God and this people. And they agree to make a kind of outward and long-lasting verification of their internal union.  The stones are there to this day.

When we mark the wondrous times of our lives, we must do so with reverence and joy; we must share the good news of our entering into holy relationship.  We must pass the commemorative stories on; and we must be willing to allow the marking stones of our story to remain forever as a sign of God’s goodness.  The stones are there to this day. 

We can choose to dwell in the sadness of our journey or we can decide to celebrate and recount the saving power of God.  We can curse the darkness in our lives or we can delight in the love we share with our Lord.  We can grumble that God has not answered our prayer exactly as we would have liked, or we can set up memorial stones in honor of God’s goodness.  The stones are there to this day.

stones-stack-940x360When we stand before our maker, what will we bring with us?  What symbols will mark the celebrations in our lives?  Will the stones we haul into the waters of the Jordan be meager and small, or will they take effort to move, symbolizing in their greatness the enormity of God’s justice and mercy?  Will the stones that we set on the hill for all to see be the ones that lie most convenient to our hands, or will they be ones that take great effort and cooperation with God’s plan to bring to the memorial site?  They are there to this day.

When we are called out of chaos into truth and integrity, how will we mark that day?  Where will we place our monument?  And how will we answer our God?  This is what we must decide today.

Adapted from a reflection written on September 12, 2009.

 

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Genesis 1:1-5: The First Day

Dawn from the International Space Station

Dawn from the International Space Station

February 19, 2015

In the beginning great darkness covered the wasteland . . . In the sterile or futile moments in our lives we remember that God creates great beauty out of desolation. During our Lenten journey, let us offer the darkness and wilderness days of our passage to God for conversion.

A mighty wind swept over the waters . . . In the empty or fruitless moments in our lives we remember that God brings light and life out of nothingness and despair. During our Lenten sojourn, let us offer any emptiness of our days to God for healing.

Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw how good the light was. God then separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” Thus evening came, and morning followed – the first day. In the confusion or turbulent moments in our lives we remember that God brings order out of chaos. During our Lenten pilgrimage, let us offer any misunderstandings in our days to God for transformation.

John, the Beloved Apostle, reminds us that: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1) Let us trust the One who has always been and will always be. Let us trust the One who creates and loves. Let us trust the One who accompanies and heals, guides and protects. Let us place all our trust in this One.

Today we gather all the trials and difficulties we experience and we hand them all over to the One who brings light out of nothing, order out of chaos, energy out of weariness and fullness out of nothing. On this first day of our Lenten passage, we offer all to the One who is worthy of our trust. And so we pray,

Good and powerful God, you bring all darkness to light; bring us also to your truth.

Good and gentle God, you bring all injury to healing; bring us also your comfort.

Good and gracious God, you bring all disorder into your plan; bring us also into union with your loving heart. Amen.

For more images of the world’s best view of sunrise, click on the image above or visit: http://article.wn.com/view/2012/05/28/The_worlds_best_view_of_sunrise_Space_Station_astronaut_snap/

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

old-steps[1]Amos 5:7-27 and 6

The Three Woes . . . and Restoration

There is an order to nature.  Things do not happen by chance.  This order comes from God as we hear in the opening lines of Genesis when God brings order and light out of chaos and darkness.  We are the people who have walked in darkness and can now see a great light.  We are messianic people.  We bring light to the world, healing to the poor in spirit, hope to the hopeless, faith to those who live in anxiety, and love to those who have been abandoned or betrayed.

We are messianic people . . . and like Christ, we will be wounded in this journey we make toward the New Jerusalem that we see in Revelation.  We will be hounded, persecuted, stoned, vilified and mocked, but we will also be healed, transformed, lifted up and brought up high, filled, rejuvenated and restored.  Through the prophet Joel, our God tells us: I will repay you for the years which the locust has eaten.  (2:25) 

We are messianic people . . .  and so many times we hear about restoration being promised from the story of Adam and Eve in the first book of God’s word to the last book of God’s Revelation of the New Jerusalem.  We find ourselves slipping into the idea that this restoration comes in the next life but as children of God we are meant to feel this fullness now.  The journey will be arduous but we follow where many have gone before us; it is the very journey itself that restores.

We are messianic people . . . and we are the work of God, therefore we cannot be complacent.  We must move and act in God, for in this way we become the exit from sorrow and woe not only for others but for ourselves.  In serving others from our own wounded-ness and from our own woe, we become healers of others and thereby we become healed.

We are messianic people . . .  and as healers we have a part to play in the Economy of Salvation, in this Divine Plan of God’s for our happiness.  We have an essential part to play in this world and in the next.

We are messianic people . . . and so when we experience woe, we know that we will rest in this grief for a time and we also know that there is joy and celebration to be found in the sadness for as children of God know that God turns all harm to good.

We are messianic people . . . and God yearns for intimate union with us.  This union, so many times found through sorrow, brings complete and everlasting joy.

We are messianic people . . . and so we pray . . .   

Dearest, loving God, draw us close to you for we wish to be with you always.  We know that you are in all things and with all people.  We believe that you set all things right.  We hope for the perfection of your plan in each of us.  We love those who most need our intercession and we understand that by asking for healing for those who need it most we meet you face to face.  We are messianic people . . . and so we seek healing and restoration here, now, and for eternity.  Amen.

Adapted from a reflection written on December 30, 2007.

The journey is arduous but we follow many who have gone before us.  The steps of The Way are well worn . . . and it is the very journey itself that brings restoration.  To read a simple reflection on Hosea 6 and the steps for spiritual restoration, click on the image above or go to: http://upwordtogether.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/steps-for-spiritual-restoration/  This site also archives a one-year study of the Bible beginning at: http://upwordtogether.wordpress.com/2012/08/

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