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Posts Tagged ‘perfection’


Colossians 1: 24-29Christ in UsChrist-in-you

March 29, 2022

That we may present everyone perfect in Christ.

This is St Paul’s goal. And as modern apostles, it can be ours. We work on our own conversion, we rebuke sinners, we pray for our enemies, we hope for the impossible, and we abide in the faith that all will be well.

The letter to the people of Colossae was written before Paul had visited the town east of Ephesus. A small Jesus community had begun there but they had no clear disciple to follow. A man named Epaphras asked Paul’s help in instructing the people about the Christ . . . and so we have these words today.

Paul writes that suffering and persevering through the antics of pagans and heretics is precisely the work of a disciple of Christ. This letter is a mini-lecture on who the Christ is, the nature of our work done in his name, various warnings against false teachers, and what our mystical end ought to be. It is a snapshot of who and what we are, and who and what we hope to be. The letter is a perfect message for us when we find ourselves surrounded by ineptitude, corruption, deceit, envy, pride and vice.

When we reflect on some of the conversations we have had during these weeks of lent, we might use these verses.

When we think about our Noontime reflections this week, we might use these words.

When we consider the gift of a Lenten journey and our Easter Resurrection, we might enact this message.

When we put ourselves in the first century in the place of those in Colossae, we might better understand that the perfection to which we are called is not a lock of error, but rather a perfection in perseverance. For it is in this way that we best find Christ in us.

Tomorrow, the poor in body and spirit.


Adapted from a Favorite written on April 20, 2007.

Image from: http://www.unlockingthegrowth.com/2013/06/invitation-to-discover-christ-in-you/

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sparks risingSunday, September 19, 2021

Wisdom 3

Worthiness through Trials

Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed, because God tried them and found them worthy of himself.

Worthiness is a quality that may be undervalued in our culture; we rely heavily on nurturing independence with high doses of self esteem. As with all good things, too much of it becomes a bad thing, as my Dad used to say.  Self-knowledge and self-esteem are not that far from narcissism.  And self flagellation is not a healthy tool when we step back to look at ourselves. Sadism and masochism are the flip side of a willingness to suffer for the sake of another. And if we are sisters and brother in Christ, we look to God for direction rather than to our own egos.

The human existence is a constant tightrope-walking along the spectrum of desirable and undesirable qualities.

From our study of James this year: Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  (James 1:2-3)

The perfection God asks of us is not that we live a life without flaw, but that we persevere in doing God’s will, and in finding the good in the trials we undergo for the conversion and redemption of others. The joy we know from participating in God’s economy is far greater and longer lasting than the fleeting happiness we experience as a result of a contentment we feel at the end of a good day. Suffering for show or suffering for the sake of suffering is the flip side of the salvific suffering which Christ undergoes for the redemption of others. And if we are sisters and brother in Christ, we are worthy through self-sacrifice of our own agendas for God’s better plan.

souls of the just

Wisdom 3:7

The human existence is a joyful one when we persevere through trials in faith, live through hope and bind with others in love.

Lives lived in Christ shine, and shall dart about as sparks through stubble, and the alternative is to live as the wicked who receive their punishment to match their thoughts, since they neglected justice and forsook the Lord. 

This is the wisdom offered us today: that we examine our motivations for perfection, and that we cease judging the worthiness of ourselves and others. Once we put aside our mountains of criteria and our hierarchy of worth, we begin to understand the perfection God asks not that we be perfect in all we do, but that we remain steadfast in Christ’s love through our trials and in our constant search for truth.


Adapted from a reflection written on Saturday, May 29, 2010.

Image from: http://kentonjseth.blogspot.com/2010_11_01_archive.html

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waiting-on-the-benchSaturday, July 10, 2021

Romans 8:26-28

The Waiting

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good.

We so often find ourselves thinking that God’s plan is not suitable, not adequate, not timely or – worse – non-existent. If we wonder what God thinks, we do not have to look far.

God says: I know that you can never hear these words too much: Do not be afraid; I am with you always. I know that when you are weary and your resources are low that you become frightened and even panicky. I know that your patience wears thin; I know that you doubt that my plan has intelligence or design. Read the words from my Book of Wisdom in Chapter 13 verses 13, 16-19 and know that your perfection arrives not in your lack of error . . . but in your perseverance with me, your clemency toward others and your generosity in the Spirit. Consider all of this . . . and know that I love you.

Look at the other Biblical versions of today’s readings and think about how we recognize God in the patience, clemency and generosity of others. Choose four different versions from the drop down menus and consider why and how we wait for God’s justice. Consider where and when we see God’s goodness.


Image from: https://rickezell.com/2018/02/07/4-reflections-while-you-wait/ 

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Thursday, January 28, 2021

12-lamedh[2]Psalm 119:89-96

Lamedh

Your word, Lord, stands forever; it is firm as the heavens . . . Had your teachings not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction . . . I have seen the limits of all perfection, but your command is without bounds.

There is no true perfection but God’s and so the flawlessness God asks of us is that we persist in following the Law of Love. Our own perfection lies not in our living life without error, but in our determined turning to God in all things.

God says: Do not tax yourself with the millions of details that fill your day. This is not where true perfection lies. Do not punish yourself for the slips you make along life’s path. The pain of those errors is punishment enough. Do not expect that you will live a life without fault. What I ask is that you always turn and return to me. And then I ask that you forgive one another as I have forgiven you . . . no matter how difficult this may be. In your willingness to attempt this following of my Law of Love . . . in this lies your perfection.

We need not create a world of guilt for ourselves and others. When we read the many parables through which Jesus still teaches us today, we understand that God is always willing to love us no matter how grave our error, and that we are asked to extend this same forgiveness to others.

Peter asks Jesus: Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive him?  As many as seven times? Jesus answers: I say to you not seven times but seventy-seven times.  (Matthew 18:21-22)


To learn more about the letter Lamedh, perfection, and the contemplation of the heart, click on the image above, or go to: http://ascribelog.wordpress.com/2011/05/19/limited-perfection-psalm-119-lamedh/ or http://www.inner.org/hebleter/lamed.htm

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020

you are forgivenPsalm 32:1-2

Remission

Happy the one whose fault is forgiven, whose sin is blotted out; happy the one whom Yahweh accuses of no guilt, whose spirit is incapable of deceit!

Each of us knows that we are imperfect. Each day we struggle with the temptation to react in anger, to share gossip, to judge, to allow envy to take us over. And yet we also hope to stand blameless before the creator. The miracle of God’s goodness and greatness brings us this opportunity for redemption, this offer of remission.

God says: I do not want you to hide from me because you know you have been unpleasant, unhelpful or even angry with others. I do not want you to believe that the obstacles you see between you and me are insurmountable. Rather, I want you to bring your fears, your worries and your imperfections to  me. Together we will lift them. I promise to take on the heaviest of loads. There is no wrong you can describe to me that will make me shudder. My patience and forgiveness are bottomless; my love and hope are limitless; my yearning to have you close to me is unbearable. Come to me so that we can lay aside all that bothers and frightens you. 

God knows us too well to expect that we will never err. God loves too well to leave us by the wayside.

Christ loves us so well that he removes all guilt with a healing look. Christ seeks us so fervently that all blemish and all imperfection fall away with a healing touch.

No threat of guile or deceit is too much for the Spirit to transform. No rumor of sin is so enduring that the Spirit will not outlast it.

Let us put aside our fear and go to God that we might receive the gift of remission.

Tomorrow, the effects of remaining silent.


Image from: https://holycrossrumson.typepad.com/pastor/2018/08/forgive-us-our-trespasses-as-we-forgive-those.html

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Sunday, July 5, 2020

God-is-Love[1]1 John 4:16-19

God is Love

We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us.  God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.  In this is love brought to perfection among us, that we have confidence on the day of judgment because as he is, so are we in this world.  There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. 

We have the idea that “love” means we have no doubts or fears, that we are constantly positive and fulfilled.  We also believe that “perfection” means that we must never err, never waver, never give in to our desire to control.  John tells us that God’s love does not punish but rather drives out fear . . . and in this there is perfection.

God says: I know that the world is a distressing place but you need not fear for your eternal life.  I want to calm all the big and little anxieties that beset you.  I want to heal all the big and little ways in which you reject me.  I know that you strive for perfection in that you try to always “be good” and this is not what I ask of you.  What I ask is this: Love me as I love you; love others rather than hate them; and in this you will find perfection.  I do not ask that you do not err.  What I ask is this: When you err, come to me; when others err, forgive them and pray for them. In this way you will rest peacefully.  In this way you will come to know my perfection.

In our interconnected world when all that goes wrong floats to the top of the headlines, we frighten ourselves and build walls to keep ourselves safe and “others” out.   In this we fail to see that the “others” are also God’s children.  In our rush to be “perfect” we try to manipulate our circumstances and to control others.  In this we fail to see that true perfection comes from filtering all we say and do through the Gospel and in loving those who harm us.  In our desire to be “good” we create and follow rules that apply to all of humanity in the name of the common good.  In this we fail to see that each of us in created in God’s image . . . and that God is Love.

Enter the phrase God is Love in the blog search bar and continue to reflect on the meaning of God’s Love.


Image from: https://lifehopeandtruth.com/god/who-is-god/god-is-love/

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Thursday, July 2, 2020

in%20gods%20light%20600[1]

Linda Duferrena: In God’s Light

1 John 1:5 & 2:1,5

God as Light

Now this is the message that we have heard and proclaim to you: God is light, and in God there is no darkness at all.  My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one.  Whoever keeps God’s word, the love of God is truly perfected in him.  This is the way we know that we are in union with God: whoever claims to abide in God ought to live just as Jesus lived.

Light first parts the darkness and calls order out of chaos.  Light is both visible and invisible.  Light travels at high velocity and yet has eternal permanence. Light creeps into murky corners and reveals all that is hidden.  Light heals what ails us and calls us to perfection.  Light comes to us from billions  of stars.  Light emanates from those who persist in following God.

God says: When you falter, do not hide from me.  I see you anyway.  When you worry, bring me your problems.  My shoulders are broad.  When you stray and err, come to me immediately.  I want to settle you into my heart and heal you of all that brings you pain or grief.  Come to me always.  I am the light that sees and orders and reconciles all.   

Perfection is such a high standard that we are easily convinced that we are unworthy. Yet God calls us to a generous heart that loves persistence and fidelity.  Rather than shrink from the brightness and truth of God when we have gone wrong, let us move toward the light that transforms us.

Enter the word darkness into the blog search bar and reflect on how God pierces the darkness on order to save us.


For more images of desert Nevada, U.S.A. by Linda Duferrena, click on the image above or go to: https://www.lindadufurrena.com/gallery

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Easter Saturday, April 18, 2020Double-Rainbow-3[1]Genesis 9: The Example of Noah

Like so many stories in scripture, the tale of Noah is so familiar to us that we might easily pass over verses through which God speaks to us.  Once again we are shown a figure around whom an entire saga unfolds who is at once faithful and flawed.  There is always something to learn about ourselves as we read about others.

Into your power they are delivered . . . I give them all to you. 

God is so generous with the gifts God creates for us – the planet and all that is on it – that we too easily take God’s bigheartedness for granted.  God is generous so that we might learn to be generous as well.

I will demand an accounting . . .

Although God is lavish beyond imagining with the millions of species of animals and plants scattered about the earth, we must remember that there will be a reckoning.  Each feather on each sparrow is precious – just as we are precious.

I am establishing my covenant with you . . .

God is constantly seeking union and reunion with us.  God promises to protect and keep us.  To guide and rescue us.  For our part, we are asked to follow and abide.  It ought to be easy to find serenity within the embrace of this gentle yet strong God . . . and yet we resist.

This is the sign I give you  . . .

God is constantly working wonders in our lives in small and tremendous ways.  God persists with the signs we request, knowing that we will be too scattered, too anxious, too angry, too bored, too self-obsessed to see them.  God invites us to put away our yearning for these portents and to accept the gift of eternal life so willingly and eagerly given.

I set my bow in the heavens . . .

From childhood we are taught the greater meaning of the beautifully arching colors created by the prism of droplets in the air.  Science explains the mechanics of the arc but our hearts linger with the deeper significance in the phenomenon.

When he drank some of the wine he became drunk . . .

God continues to give us examples of imperfect humans so that we might bring our own imperfections forward to lay in sacrifice on the altar of our lives.  God does not ask for perfection in us – God knows us so well.  God asks that we persevere.  God asks that we trust.  God asks that we love.

This familiar childhood story deserves more time than we usually give to it.  Let us take that time today to look beyond our little horizon to see God as magnanimous protector, God as ardent lover, God as careful promise, God as loyal friend, and God as eternal truth.  It is this perfect God who calls our imperfection home.  It is this vigilant God who heals our aching flaws.  It is this tender and devoted God who creates for us the wonders of the planet . . . and allows her creatures the marvelous freedom to choose to return to the covenant.

In this Eastertide when we experience the full force of God’s promise to each of us, let us think about returning our own imperfections to God, and let us examine the example of Noah.


Image from: http://allwallsinfo.com/double-rainbow/

A re-post from April 18, 2013. 

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Psalm 19The Builder’s Craft

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

If we get away from ambient light to look into the heavens on a clear night, we will see millions of stars . . . and it is all too breath-taking.  The sky proclaims the builder’s craft.

On a clear day when we look into the skies, we see powder puffs or high horse tails of clouds; on other days the banks and streaks of clouds announce a coming storm . . . and it is all too awesome.  The sky proclaims the builder’s craft.

If we look at the one who announces God among us, Jesus, we see that . . . he is all too splendid.  He too, proclaims the builder’s craft.  He is the Lord’s law, the new law that supersedes the old and fulfills the promises made to Abraham.  The psalmist describes this law, this Christ to us.  He is . . . perfect, refreshing, trustworthy, giving wisdom, right, clear, pure, true, desirable, and sweet.  He comes to save and restore.  He is among us to transform.  He is our rock and our redeemer.

We are also the builder’s craft for we are created in God’s image, adopted as Jesus’ sisters and brothers, consoled and protected by God’s Spirit.  When we allow ourselves to be cleansed of our faults – both known and unknown – then shall we be blameless and innocent of grave sin.

Then will the words or our mouths meet with the Lord’s favor.

Then will we keep our thoughts ever before God.

Then will we fully know that we are, like the skies, the handiwork of God’s loving hands.

Then will we declare with full voice the glory of God, and like the skies, then will we . . . proclaim the builder’s craft.


A re-post from November 8, 2011.

Image from: http://www.arizonatourismcenter.com/scottsdale/index-scottsdale.php/Stargazing-Tours-14/

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