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Posts Tagged ‘peace’


Saturday, November 14, 2020

noara_lambMarch3_12[1]2 Samuel 11 and 12

A Prayer for Sin and Parable

The rich man had herds and flocks in great numbers.  But the poor man had nothing at all except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. 

This is a story with a familiar ending. Those who have much use their influence and power to take from the poor what little they have. The poor man gathers money, plans how he will finally gather around him the small beginning of self-sufficiency and the momentous ending of oppression.

He nourished her, and she grew up with him and his children. She shared the little food he had and drank from his cup and slept in his bosom. She was like a daughter to him. 

The poor man empties all that he has and all that he is into this precious possession that promises not only a ladder out of misery but a new feeling of comfort, compassion and love. The little ewe sheep comes to symbolize much more than the object she is. She becomes a unique sign of peace and stability.

Now the rich man received a visitor, but he would not take from his own flocks and herds to prepare a meal for the wayfarer who had come to visit him.  Instead, he took the ewe lamb . . .

The two-headed monster of envy and greed raises itself from the shadows and David’s sin is revealed.

David grew very angry . . . then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned . . .”

When we feel anger rise at the honest observation offered by a friend we must turn as David does. And so we pray . . .

Dear and gracious God, it is so difficult to hear our secrets revealed when we believe we have them well-hidden away. Help us to return to you.

Honest and kind God, we are so weak and vulnerable in the harsh light of our own judgment. Send us your persistence and power.

Good and noble God, we need your encouragement and wisdom to lead us to the light of truth. Remind us that truth always reveals itself in your time.

Mighty and compassionate God, we ask for your strength and grace to willingly reveal all that we have concealed. Recount for us all the times you have saved us.

Sweet and loving God, speak to us in parables that enlighten us when we cannot bear the burden of the truth. Help us to understand that secrets only fester in the darkness of guilt.

Forgiving and understanding God, speak to us plainly in words that call us to you. Bring us the simplicity of your peace and love.

We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


To read posts from a shepherd’s blog, click on the image above or go to: http://hillshepherd.blogspot.com/2012/03/nora-had-ewe-lamb-last-night.html

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Friday, October 2, 2020

Imperishable_Seed[1]1 Peter 1:23

Imperishable Seed

You have been born anew, not from perishable but imperishable seed, through the living and abiding word of God . . .

We yearn for immortality and yet we are immortal. We want to leave a mark that generations to follow recognize and yet we are part of a chain that has no end and no beginning. We amass material goods thinking to make ourselves secure and yet we receive the gift of eternal guidance and care from the moment of our inception. We ask God for endless gifts that in the end will gain us nothing and yet we ignore the gift of God’s presence that brings us surety, eternity and serenity. We plant perishable seed and leave the imperishable seed to languish.

God says: Comfort, peace, stability. These are the imperishable gifts that many of you struggle to gather about you and to pass on to loved ones. Fame, fortune, power. These are the perishable seed that others of you covet, gather, sow and reap. What you do not see is something that Nature is constantly teaching. What you sow, you will also reap. When you control loved ones they pull away from you leaving you alone. So who is left to you? When you amass wealth you leave little for others. So who abides with you? When you cause chaos and fear you sow distrust and anxiety. So who remains with you? And what is your legacy? You have within you my comfort, peace and stability. If it is fame you seek above well-being you will be disappointed. If it is power you seek before stability you will be disillusioned. If it is fortune you want rather than peace you will be frustrated. You need not amass anything. You already have and already are what you seek.

We have surety in that God never waivers from the lesson of love. We have eternity in our union with God. We have serenity in our relationship with God. These gifts are indescribable. They are given to us freely. All we need do is follow, love one another, and trust in God.


Image from: http://gdwm.org/index.php/2012/03/imperishable-seed-2/

For another reflection on this verse, click on the image above or go to: http://gdwm.org/index.php/2012/03/imperishable-seed-2/

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Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sirach 24:7-8

Seeking Our Inheritance

When we reflect on Scripture we find stories and themes of irony. The last shall be first while the first are last. The chosen people squander their advantage. The son who cheats his brother becomes founder of a nation. The faithless wife has a faithful husband. The one who denies knowing the Messiah becomes the Rock on which a religion stands. The chief persecutor of the fledgling Jesus community becomes a source of strength. We must die in order to live. Examples seem endless. Every chapter brings us a new example of how our human existence pulls us in opposite directions. We may consider this as confusing, or we may use this fog of contradiction to teach us. As always with Scripture and in life, our stumbling blocks become our lesson plans, our hurdles become our stepping stones when we open our hearts, minds, ears and eyes to the wisdom that suffering and chaos offer. Today we reflect on the inheritance we already hold and yet seek. Perhaps the richness of this inheritance is too much for us to take in.

Among all these I sought a resting place; in whose inheritance should I abide? In Genesis we see the devil tempt Adam and Eve with the promise of something they already hold. You can become like gods, Satan tells us just as he told the couple living in the perfection of Eden; yet clearly, they already have this inheritance. What was it they sought? And what do we seek?

Among all these I sought a resting place; in whose inheritance should I abide? Satan tempts Jesus at the beginning of his ministry, again offering him gifts he already holds: the awesome and infinite powers of God. As sisters and brothers of Christ, we too share this same inheritance. Are we able to put aside the false siren song of power and fame to take up our inheritance of humility, patience, perseverance, and love of our enemies? It is difficult to follow Jesus’ example, yet we know that The Way he shows us is the way of our inheritance of peace.

In Jacob make your dwelling, in Israel your inheritance. What is the dwelling of Jacob? What is this inheritance of Israel? The story of Jacob is one of deceit and redemption. This is a tent that shelters our own story. The Twelve Tribes of Israel show us the diversity of God’s family. This is a family in which we can find membership. The gifts we seek we already possess. The promise we pursue we already own. When we give ourselves over to the Creator, we hold the same promise given to Abraham of security and protection. We hold the same miracle of impossibility given to Sarah. When we become one with Jesus to best of our talents, we enjoy the peace of this union that only Christ can give. When we live in the Spirit that binds each of us to all, we rejoice in the inheritance we seek. The inheritance that is already given. Let us celebrate this inheritance today and all days by living the gift of immortal life we already have, that despite our infidelity and deceit, we find a home in salvation. Amid the chaos and fear, we find peace and salvation.


For a reflection on the Temptations experienced by Jesus, visit The Temptations page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-temptations/

Image from: https://smartasset.com/investing/how-does-inheritance-work

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Sunday. August 16, 2020

peace-it-does-not-mean-to-be-in-a-place-where-there-is-no-noise-trouble-or-hard-work[1]Mark 8:34-38

The Forfeited Life

He called the people and his disciples to him and said, “If anyone wants to be a follower of mine, let him renounce himself and take up his cross and follow me.  Anyone who wants to save his life will lose it; but anyone who loses his life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.  What gain, then, is it for anyone to win the whole world and forfeit his life?  And indeed what can a man offer for his life?  For if anyone in this adulterous and sinful generation is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels”.

Discipleship, inversion, angels, and trust in God: these are the themes we have visited this week.  Today Mark reminds us that in order to follow Christ we must look for goodness in reversals; we must welcome God’s message and the messengers themselves for they bring us God’s presence.  And we must rely on God for all that we are and all that we have, for God accompanies us always and everywhere.

God says: I know that I am most visible to you when you are ill, frightened or broken-hearted.  I understand this for I created you and I created the world, and I understand the hold that the world can have on you.  I know that you welcome me when I come to you in a version of myself that matches your expectation and that I startle you when I arrive in a way that makes you uncomfortable.  I understand your reluctance to open your arms to me for I created you and I created the world. I understand that you rely more on your senses than you do on me.  Yet still I ask that follow me for I created you and I created the world.  I rejoice each morning with you when you turn to me in prayer.  I sing with you at noon when you remember me and call my name.  I celebrate with you each evening when you return to me in thanksgiving . . . for I created you and I created the world.  And I ask that you forfeit all for me so that you might know my peace . . . the peace that the world cannot give.  

Discipleship is hard-earned and well-worn. Inversion can be anticipated and yet still surprising. God’s angels are constantly with us yet they frequently go unseen. Trust in God brings a new way of life and a guarantee of eternal peace. Let us thank God for the grace and blessings bestowed on us this day and all days.


Image from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/48765608435979800/ 

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Saturday, August 1, 2020

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 . . .

Image from: https://www.123rf.com/photo_11983584_magnifying-glass-with-questions-words-on-white-background.html

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Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Tissot: Exhortation to the Apostles

James Tissot: Exhortation to the Apostles

Luke 5:16

Come Apart With Me Awhile

But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.  (Luke 5:16)

Jesus, knowing that they intended to come and make him king by force, withdrew again to a mountain by himself. (John 6:15)

And after leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray. (Mark 6:46)

The Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus.  Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place.  (Matthew 12:14-15)

Jesus withdrew to a region near the desert, to a village named Ephraim, where he stayed with his disciples. (John 11:54)

When Jesus heard what had happened [to John the Baptist], he withdrew privately by boat to a solitary place.  (Matthew 14:13)

Jesus withdrew with his disciples to the lake, and a large crowd from Galilee followed. (Mark 3:7)

Tissot: Jesus Commands his Disciples to Rest

James Tissot: Jesus Commands his Disciples to Rest

Recently in our Noontime journey we have examined how to best survive the ups and downs of a life lived in discipleship.  We have reflected on how to best withstand the plots and schemes devised by the discontented.  We have focused on how to best respond to God’s call. And through all of this we may find ourselves exhausted.  If this is so, we must do as Jesus and his companions did . . . we must go apart for a time.

If you are able, make the intentional effort of leaving one day a week to re-connect with the treasure of yourself.  If you have spent much time with chores and tasks, put them aside and go out into the world to experience the gift of connecting with others.  If you need time on your own, set yourself apart for a time either alone or with someone with whom you need to re-connect.  Put away anything that takes you away from restoring your soul and re-filling your well.  Our world draws us into or out of ourselves in such alluring ways that before we notice, we have either detached ourselves from human community or we have thrown ourselves entirely into it without listening to our hearts.  What we seek today is a bit of balance for with balance comes wisdom and peace.

To help us reflect, let us look at some of the images created by James Tissot, and let us remind ourselves that we are in each of these scenes.  Let us thank Christ for walking with us each day even when we forget his presence.  And let us carry Christ to others as we have been asked to do.

Tissot: Jesus Teaching by the Seashore

James Tissot: Jesus Teaching by the Seashore

If you have a favorite citation from scripture in which Jesus withdraws for a time either alone or with his disciples, insert it in the comment box below.  If you are more visual, search the net for another of Tissot’s scenes from The Life of Christ and share that link in the comment box.

May each of us come away with Christ for a time, may each of us restore the soul and settle the heart, and may each of us enjoy a day of peace and balance.


James Tissot (1833-1902) was “a nineteenth-century French painter who for the first part of his career had a reputation as a ‘French society painter [whose subjects were] the costumes and manners, occupations and pleasures of the French capital’s elegantes.’ This all changed in the early 1890s when Tissot renewed his ties to the Catholicism of his youth after experiencing a vision during a Mass when the priest raised the host. For the rest of his life, he devoted himself to the series of religious paintings numbering in the hundreds given here. Tissot’s lasting reputation rests on this series The Life of Christ on all periods of Jesus Christ’s life from the Annunciation to the Resurrection”.   (Berry)

For more of Berry’s review and others, go to: www.amazon.com/James-Tissot-The-Life-Christ/product-reviews/1858944961

Berry, Henry. “James Tissot: The Life of Christ.” Amazon Reviews. 9 Dec 2009: n. page. Web. 21 Jun. 2013. <http://www.amazon.com/James-Tissot-The-Life-Christ/product-reviews/1858944961&gt;.

Images from: https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/tags/tissot

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Pentecost Sunday, May 31, 2020

3431916072_4ff4bd224e[1]Micah 2:12

Believing the Promise

I will gather you . . . each and every one, I will assemble all the remnant of Israel; I will group them like a flock in the fold, like a herd in the midst of the corral; they shall not be thrown into panic by men. 

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would not insist on our own agendas.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would not allow fear to rise in our throats.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would be more open to reconciliation.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we would be more willing to intercede for our enemies.

I will gather you . . . We are sheep lost in the folds of the mountainside knowing that the scorching heat of summer and the freezing rains of winter will surely kill us off unless God the creator protects us.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will eagerly follow the plans God has laid out.

Each and every one . . . We cannot judge our companions on life’s road because we are not in charge and we do not have the right to countermand Christ’s universal call.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will willingly be more accepting of those whose idiosyncrasies drive us wild.

I will assemble all the remnant . . . We need to practice the art of persevering patiently knowing that those who persist will reap the harvest with the Spirit.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will find the courage and strength to endure in love as we are asked to do.

Like a herd in the midst of the corral . . . We must see that we are not left out in the wild as we believe but rather we are always in the loving care of the Father who made us, the Son who redeemed us and the Spirit who guides us.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will put our fears to rest; our anxieties will not take hold of us and we will be led to a place of peace that knows no limits.

They shall not be thrown into panic . . . We must remember that terror is of human making and does not come from God; dread has no power over us unless we bow to its influence.

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will be less quick to criticize our own and one another’s weaknesses.

I will gather you . . . each and every one, I will assemble all the remnant of Israel; I will group them like a flock in the fold, like a herd in the midst of the corral; they shall not be thrown into panic by men. 

If only we might live as if we believe this promise, we will be better able to live as Christ does . . . in patience . . . while persevering . . . with the Spirit . . . always trying to act in accord with God’s plan . . . in love.

Amen.


First written on June 9, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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Monday, May 25, 2020

tr-trinity-symbol1[1]Ecclesiastes 9:11-12

Calamities – Part III

We do not like to think of the calamities that happen to us, or of the ones yet to come; yet we realize that the human condition is precisely this: the learning to survive in a healthy way when disaster strikes – as it always will.

This week we have reflected on how we handle calamity when we live in discipleship.  Today we reflect on calamity as seen from the center of the loving Trinity that embraces us.

The evil time is not known . . . but the time of goodness is – it is now, and we make it so by our words and deeds.

The evil time falls suddenly upon them . . . but the goodness is always with us – and we live out this goodness to others by our words and deeds.

A time of calamity comes to all alike . . . and a time of redemption through the goodness of God, the deeds and words of Christ, and the gifts of the Spirit.

Pole or North Star

The Pole or North Star guides those who watch and witness . . .

The race is not won by the swift, nor the battle by the valiant, nor a livelihood by the wise, nor riches by the shrewd, nor favor by the experts . . . yet we are given all of this and more when we live in Christ rather than in the world.

Amid all of the uncertainties of life, this we know for certain: calamity does arrive.  And when it does, we will want to be wearing Christ as our armor, following God as our polestar, and living in the eternal peace of the Spirit.


Images from: http://thinkingthoughtful.wordpress.com/2012/05/ and https://www.farmersalmanac.com/north-star-brightest-star-19822

Adapted from a reflection written on September 28, 2010.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Cristofano Allori: Judith With the Head of Holofernes

Cristofano Allori: Judith With the Head of Holofernes

Judith 13: Slaying Holofernes

Judith teaches us about courage, fidelity, and divine providence.  She shows us clearly the strength of women, the power of faithfulness through duress, the results of steady, enduring, immutability . . . and the gift of God’s abiding presence.  Judith instructs us on the results of constancy and the privilege of discipleship.

In this particular chapter, we see Judith carry out the final stages of her plan . . . and I am always intrigued by the fact that none of Holofernes’ soldiers see anything suspicious about two women leaving the camp and the reason for this is that from the first night of her stay Judith makes it clear that she and her maid will go out to pray each evening.  For this reason their escape route is made through their accustomed daily commitment to God (12:5-9).

It is also clear that Holofernes’ principle error is seeing women as sexual objects.  The heart of Holofernes was in rapture over her, and his spirit was shaken.  He was burning with the desire to possess her, for he had been biding his time to seduce her from the day he saw her.  (12:16) Neither this man – nor anyone in his inner circle – sees the true significance of the presence of this quiet, beautiful, spiritual woman in their midst.  And they pay for this blindness with the loss of life and the loss of the campaign they have planned against the people of Bethulia.

What can we learn from this today?  How can we take this lesson into our own lives and honor it?  What is it about Judith’s conduct that speaks of her so well?

This story – when read from beginning to end – is full of unexpected twists.  And so is life.  This story – when we take the time to examine it more fully – can startle us and even repel us with its stark reality and violence.  And so can life.  This story – when reflected upon in the context of the coming of Christ – brings us the expectation of restoration, justice and joy.  And so does life.  This story brings us the gift of constancy, a gift we receive through our own discipleship.

Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem: Reconstruction Model of Ancient Jerusalem

Tower of David Museum, Jerusalem: Reconstruction Model of Ancient Jerusalem

What do we do against life’s twists and turns and ironies?  We remain constant, we abide with God, we fear less and we pray endlessly.  We empty ourselves of ego and pride . . . and we allow God to complete and fill us.  We act – just as Judith did – from a custom of constantly walking and praying with God.

Good, merciful and just Creator, we place ourselves in your hands each day at our rising.  We carry you with us throughout each day.  We return to you each evening just as we return to family, home and hearth.  Abide with us this day and all days, just as you accompanied Judith and her maid into the enemy’s camp.  Abide with us each evening as we walk out to the ravine to pray with you, just as Judith and her maid were accustomed to doing.  We seek you, just as Judith sought you.  We bring to you our worries and fears, just as these women did.  May we too remain constant to you in our prayers and in our actions.  May we too know the triumph and the peace which comes from abiding with you.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


If you have time to read more about Judith’s story and reflect on her importance in our lives today, enter her name in the search box on this blog and spend time with her.  Or open your Bible to this book and begin her story in Judith 8.  For background, and to better understand the context, begin reading from Chapter 1.   For an online commentary, click on the model of ancient Jerusalem above.

Images from: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/220px-cristofano_allori_0021.jpg and https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/reconstruction_model_of_ancient_jerusalem_in_museum_of_david_castle1.jpg

First written on July 27, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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