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Posts Tagged ‘patience’


Nehemiah 1 and 2: Rebuilding Walls

The Damascus Gate by night in Jerusalem

Thursday, October 12, 2017

We visit with Nehemiah several times a year and each time we rediscover the themes of covenant, restoration, and rebuilding.  Today’s reading takes us to the beginning of the restoration of Jerusalem after the northern invasion and the Babylonian exile.  This book was written in about 430 B.C.E. and as it begins, we see Nehemiah, the Jewish man who serves as Cupbearer to the foreign king.  Footnotes tell us this means that he was an important official who was allowed to come into the presence of not only the king but the queen as well.  This would suggest that he was a eunuch but there is no evidence to support that fact.  What we do understand is that he was highly placed in this foreign administration and we can guess, when we see his skills displayed throughout this story that he rose to that position through his skill.  But there is an important element to this story. Nehemiah prayed constantly, and this praying kept him connected intimately with his creator.  Nehemiah called on God continually for direction, and God gave direction to this good and loyal servant.

As the story begins, news arrives with several Jewish men who have just come from Judah, from Jerusalem.  The news is not good; but filled with courage and a love of his God, Nehemiah responds to his creator’s call and so it is with a mixture of trepidation and courage that he goes to the king. As we read, we find several interesting points.

  • Today’s reading begins in the month of Chislev – the same month in which we will later see (in the year 165 B.C.E.) the celebration of the re-dedication of the temple which we were reading and reflecting about some days ago. We too are in the month of Chislev, and the celebration of Hannukah was just completed this week. The Festival of Light – the season of a small shaft of light piercing the intense darkness.
  • Should you prove faithless, I will scatter you among the nations; but should you return to me and carefully keep my commandments, even though your outcasts have been driven to the farthest corner of the world, I will gather them from there, and bring them back to the place which I have chosen as the dwelling place for my name. This is the covenant promise which Jesus fulfills four centuries later and which he continues to fulfill for us each day.
  • Nehemiah not only asks permission to visit his former city, he also asks for soldiers, protection, and permission to fell trees with which to rebuild the city and gates, and a house for himself. He does not do things by half-measures; he is totally and truly dedicated to God in temperance, patience, endurance and perseverance.

Tomorrow, arriving in Jerusalem.

Adapted from a Favorite written during Advent, on December 15, 2007

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Colossians 3:12-14: Chosen

Thursday, September 14, 2017

We may well want to consider how we react to the news that we are chosen loved ones.

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Do we step ahead quickly to shove our way forward in response to God’s call? Or do we tend to those along the margins who cannot find a way into the unifying force of God’s hope?

Bear with one another . . .

Do we follow Christ in fits and starts? Or do we move constantly and slowly forward, always remaining faithful in reflection of God’s fidelity?

If anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other . . .

Do we greet one another with greed or compassion? Anger or mercy? Chaos or peace?

Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Do we welcome the stranger, speak out against injustice, console the sorrowful, and heal the sick?

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.

Do we work for reconciliation? Do we open our eyes, ears, hearts, hands and minds? Do we act as if we are chosen in God’s humble love?

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus, we find that being chosen is more than we have first thought.

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Proverbs 15: God Misses Nothing 

Friday, August 4, 2017

Too many Christians live their days and struggle through their nights worrying over their sins. They parse definitions, arguing about the meaning of original sin, and so they miss the gift of original grace God gives us each day. The writer of Proverbs suggests God’s goodness.

A gentle response defuses anger,
    but a sharp tongue kindles a temper-fire.

But lest we believe that we might behave badly without God knowing, the writer also reminds us that

God doesn’t miss a thing—
    God is alert to good and evil alike.

We find references to God’s disgust, anger, and maintenance of distance from humans; but as New Testament people we know that what God desires more from us. God asks that we love our enemies because loving our friends is not enough. And through all our daily interactions with family, friends and colleagues, we remember that God is always with us in a warm and loving embrace . . . even if we do not feel this presence.

Last week, Richard Rohr, OFM, posed to the readers of his daily reflections that beautiful promise that, Jesus came to give us the courage to tryst and allow our inherent union with God, and he modeled it for us in this world. Union is not merely a place we go to later – if we are good. It is a place of deep goodness that we naturally exist inside of – now”.  (Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation. Web. 28 July 2017.)

Even hell holds no secrets from God
    do you think God can’t read human hearts?

Today we have an opportunity to examine our relationship with God and those whom God has created, knowing that God misses nothing.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these verses, we find opportunities to draw nearer to God, knowing that God reads all hearts, and invites all to live in divine union.

Rohr, Center for Action and Contemplation. Web. 28 July 2017. <https://cac.org/category/daily-meditations/2017/07/&gt;

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Wisdom: Searching for Justice

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

We share these reflections from Holy Week of 2007 while I am away from electronics. Keeping all of you in prayer at noon each day.

Wisdom preserves her followers. When we trust in God and listen in active patience, we are restored. Once we give over all control to the one who created us, we are able to put aside our ego, envy, pride and anxiety. Our search for justice is complete not when we achieve justice, but when we place our hopes and

Wisdom arrives in the cacophony that surrounds us when we exercise patience and the willingness to listen for God’s voice. Jesus tells us that God hears the prayer of each one of us, even when we whisper in the darkness as we wait for the dawn.

When we use the scripture link and commentary to explore this book, we find words that bring us hope and courage.

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Judges 21: The Breach

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Bridges are to be built over the abysses that separate us.  This is the lesson we learn if we read today’s story carefully.  At first glance it seems as though violence is condoned; God appears to be the castigating all-powerful one; but when we take time to read closely and carefully, and if we use footnotes and commentary, we see something different. Much like the message in Lamentations, we see and hear that in the life of the Kingdom we must learn patience, for the lesson will always arrive.  And so frequently the lesson is the reverse of what we initially thought it might be.  What appears to be forbidden is actually blessed.  What seems to be lost is wonderfully found.  And what we believe to be total chaos settles beautifully into God’s plan.

In today’s Morning Prayer, the psalmist exclaims: O Lord, I will trust in you! (Psalm 55:24 Isaiah pronounces:  It was I who stirred up one for the triumph of justice; all his ways I make level.  He shall rebuild my city and let my exiles go free without price or ransom, says the Lord of hosts.  (Isaiah 45:13)  And in Leviticus 26:13 God reminds us that . . . It is I, the Lord, who brought you out of the land of the Egyptians and freed you from their slavery, breaking the yoke they had laid upon you and letting you walk erect. 

Today’s first reading at Mass is one that I love. (Acts 5:17-26)  It is the beginning of the story of how the Apostles respond to God’s word as they have been called to do.  They are jailed – and they are freed by angels and miracles.  It is a story that reminds us we have nothing to fear.  It is a story that tells us that we survive best by depending on God alone.  And it is a story that shows us how easily the breaches in our lives might be mended if we lived in and for God rather than in and for ourselves.

The people had compassion because the Lord had made a breach . . .

When things look darkest, there is space to find the light.

When life seems horrifying, there is always healing.

When we feel twisted and tortured, there is life anew wrought by transformation.

When breaches appear, let us be patient, let us listen, and let us attend.  Good news always arrives.

The people had compassion because the Lord had made a breach . . .

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 4.5 (2011). Print.  

A Favorite from May 4, 2011.

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Judges 14 and 15: Philistines

Saturday, June 24, 2017 

Alexandre Cabanel: Samson and Delilah

A few days ago we reflected on the story of Samson and Delilah; today’s we consider our lack of understanding that God frequently uses surprising people and circumstances to bring God’s plan to fruition.  In Samson’s early life, we read that he wants to marry a young woman who was not a member of one of the seven non-Israelite tribes with whom the people of Israel were permitted by their Law to marry.  Looking at verse 4, we see that Samson’s desire to marry this young woman is upsetting to his parents – as it would be to a believing Jew – yet it will be used as part of God’s plan to save the faithful.  Now his father and mother did not know that this had been brought about by the Lord, who was providing an opportunity against the Philistines; for at that time they had dominion over Israel.  This story, therefore, today tells us something important which is . . . we never know how or when God will use unexpected people and circumstances in our lives to bring about his plan.  Sometimes we must marry a Philistine. 

The long story of Samson tells us about how people will want to control divinity rather than learn how to be a part of it.  We see in the unraveling of these plots to harness Samson that these people misunderstand how God works.  In the end, the wicked will fall by their own hand, and any harm they have leveled against the faithful will be used for good, but – and this is so important – with the consequences they had planned for others falling on them.

If we are patient, we begin to understand how Samson’s marriage to a Philistine woman plays out not only in Samson’s life but in the life of the community as well.  What happens to this woman, what happens to her family, and how Samson arrives at being one of a series of Israelite Judges is a story that unfolds in a string of twisting, unpredictable events.  All of this leads to the saving of a people, a nation, and a way of living that God has marked as special.  These ironies and turnings are not a jumble of calamities; rather, they are God’s plan to open us to eventual results that no one dreams possible . . . except for God and those who believe and trust in God.  Today we see that God makes the impossible possible.

Both this story of the young Samson, and the story of his relationship with Delilah are the same metaphor: Samson poses a riddle and is betrayed by someone whom he loves and trusts; the resulting reprisals end in Samson displaying his trust in God alone.  Even though he may possess the strength of a thousand, only God saves him; he cannot save himself.  Eventually with his death in Gaza, Samson kills more Philistines in one final act than he ever did in his lifetime.

Adapted from a reflection written on May 8, 2009.

Tomorrow, the Philistines in our lives.

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Psalm 9: The Book of God’s Wonders

Monday, March 6, 2017psalms9_2-31

The MESSAGE version of this psalm speaks to us in our core. Anyone who has been wronged, anyone who has suffered injustice of any kind, anyone who looks for refuge in the storm of life will smile as they read these verses.

I’m thanking you, God, from a full heart, I’m writing the book on your wonders. I’m whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy; I’m singing your song, High God.

What are the miracles of our relationship with God will we want to enter into the Book of God’s Wonders?

The day my enemies turned tail and ran, they stumbled on you and fell on their faces. You throw dirty players out of the game, wipe their names right off the roster. Enemies disappear from the sidelines, their reputation trashed, their names erased from the halls of fame.

We look for the patience to allow God’s plan to blossom and flourish.

God holds the high center, God sees and sets the world’s mess right. God’s a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you’re never sorry you knocked.

We pray for the hope we will need to remember God’s promise of safety, and we pray for the courage to knock at heaven’s door as Jesus tells us we must.

Sing your songs to Zion-dwelling God, tell God’s stories to everyone you meet: How God tracks down killers yet keeps an eye on us, registers every whimper and moan.

We pray for the fortitude to weather the storm, knowing that although the horizon is dark, God navigates our lives.

psalm-9_18Be kind to me, God; I’ve been kicked around long enough. Once you’ve pulled me back from the gates of death, I’ll write the book on Hallelujahs; on the corner of Main and First I’ll hold a street meeting; I’ll be the song leader; we’ll fill the air with salvation songs.

We pray for the courage to thank God in public and to share the stories we list in the Book of God’s Wonders.

They’re trapped, those godless, in the very snares they set, their feet all tangled in the net they spread. They have no excuse; the way God works is well-known. The cunning machinery made by the wicked has maimed their own hands.

We remember to intercede for those who would harm us.

The wicked bought a one-way ticket to hell. No longer will the poor be nameless—no more humiliation for the humble.

We ask for mercy for our enemies, and the grace to step away from the temptation to seek revenge.

Up, God! Aren’t you fed up with their empty strutting? Expose these grand pretensions! Shake them up, God! Show them how silly they look.

We ask God to steer us clear of all pretension. We ask that Christ lead us in the ways of the just. And we ask that the Holy Spirit abide in us forever, as we proclaim the wonders God has wrought for us.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to compare other translations of this Psalm, we discover that we have a great deal to record in The Book of God’s Wonders, and to share with all the world. 

 

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Sirach 2:1-6: Serving the Lord

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tintoretto: Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples

Tintoretto: Jesus Washing the Feet of his Disciples

We are small children, eager to please our doting parent. We put our trust in the Lord and expect that our lives will run smoothly. Struggles will be brief and bearable, we say to ourselves. This is easy if I am in God’s corner and God is in mine.

Jesus ben Sirach has words for us: My child, if you are going to serve the Lord, be prepared for times when you will be put to the test.

We are ready, we tell ourselves. We are eager to follow.

Be sincere and determined.

We will persevere. We will remain faithful.

Keep calm when trouble comes.

We will live in hope, actively waiting for God’s promise.

Stay with the Lord; never abandon God, and you will be prosperous at the end of your days. 

We wonder if God really understands our circumstances.

Accept whatever happens to you. Even if you suffer humiliation, be patient.

We wonder if we will endure even with the assurance of God’s love.

Gold is tested by fire, and human character is tested in the furnace of humiliation.

We struggle to live meekly as Jesus lives. We yearn for the justice we know God wants. We live in the hope that the Spirit will not abandon or deceive us.

Trust the Lord, and God will help you. Walk straight in God’s ways, and put your hope in God.

We continue to live in The Way Christ shows us. In patience and humility, in fidelity and hope, persevering and waiting in love.

 

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Romans 5:1-8: Develop Patience

Friday, December 2, 2016patience-trust-faith

Since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (NSRV)

Avoiding sorrow, we forfeit an opportunity to grow in God’s love.

Rejecting obstacles, we lose our intimacy with Christ.

Refusing to see that goodness overcomes harm, we reject the healing touch of the Spirit.

Surviving through faith, we receive hope.

Living in Christ, we experience peace and grace.

Handing ourselves over to God’s offer of love, we grow in endurance.

Resting in grief, we blossom in grace to develop patience that carries us home.

When we use the scripture link and the drop-down menus, we come to see that adversity trains us in the development of patience, a patience that will serve us in our journey home. For another reflection on Patienceclick on the image above or visit: https://www.worldslastchance.com/biblical-christian-beliefs/patience-of-the-saints.html 

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