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Posts Tagged ‘Peter’


1 Peter 2:4-9: A Living Stone

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 21, 2017

Today Peter says to us,

Come to the Lord, the living stone rejected by people as worthless but chosen by God as valuable.

We reflect on the times we have rejected the Word that has come to us through the voices and actions of others; and we remember the times we are rejected when we struggle to bring light to darkness.

God says,

I chose a valuable stone,
    which I am placing as the cornerstone in Zion;
    and whoever believes in him will never be disappointed.

We examine the strength of our faith in Christ as the Living Stone, the foundation of the new temple in which each of us is invited to join Christ as living stones raising thanks to God.

Isaiah foretells and Peter repeats,

This is the stone that will make people stumble,
    the rock that will make them fall.

We explore the depth of our hope, the strength of our love, the authenticity of our trust and the clarity of our minds as we give our hearts over as Living Stones for Christ.

Peter reminds us,

They stumbled because they did not believe in the word; such was God’s will for them.

As we reflect, we open ourselves to the reality that our stumblings are tumbles into Christ’s arms. Our shortcomings are windows into the New Temple of Living Stones. And our failings are invitations to join Christ as the cornerstone in our new lives of peace.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore thee verses, we recognize the Word and we become more willing to tumble into Christ’s ample, healing and loving heart.

For  better understanding of the city of Zion and what it might represent, visit: http://biblehub.com/topical/z/zion.htm 

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John 10: The Good Shepherd

Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 14, 2017 

Last week we studied and reflected upon the message from Peter – both his words and actions – and his message is clear. When Christ touches us to follow him, he also calls us to touch and lead others, even as we follow him. Jesus calls Peter as his good shepherd, and both Peter and Jesus call us as well. When we spend time with John 10, our baptism in Christ’s love becomes clear. Our response to this love is up to each of us.

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. (Verse 1)

Scholars tells us that in Jesus’ day, the repetition of words or phrases was a technique to bring attention to the words of the speaker. And so we ask: Amen, amen, where is the sheepfold we long to enter? Amen, amen, why do some of us clamber over the fence rather than look for the gate? Amen, amen, what shortcut do we seek? Amen, amen, what do we steal when we avoid the gate of Christ?

The gatekeeper opens the gate for the one who wants to enter the fold, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (Verse 3)

Christ’s love is described here in intimate detail. A loving guide and protector casts a constant eye on his children to provide continual care and love. Jesus repeats his image for us so that we might better hear it and feel its impact.

I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. (Verses 9 and 10)

False teachers and false idolaters will not see the shepherd. Those with hard hearts and stiff shoulders will not see the gate. Those who embrace endurance and perseverance, those who suffer well to bear all things in Christ, those who hope and rejoice in truth, those who live in the Spirit and who believe that with God all things are possible . . . those will not need to sneak into the fold like a thief or robber. Those are already there, preparing to go back out into the world with and in Christ.

And so we pray . . .

Good and gracious Lord, keep us always mindful of your love for us.  We know that the voices of this world are a loud distraction; yet we also know that you are The Gate and The Way.  You are the only true Good Shepherd.  Keep us mindful of your own patience and persistence. Continue to speak to us in that sacred place that only you and we know.  Protect us from those who would bend and break the spirit of you in us.  Keep us ever close to you in mind and body and soul.  Amen.

Adapted from a reflection written on August 30, 2007.

 

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Acts 11:4-18: Step By Step

Friday, May 5, 2017

Jan Styla: Saint Peter

Then Peter began to explain it to them, step by step.

Step-by-step God works with Peter until the faithful servant hears and follows the call. Step-by-step God works with each of us until we do the same.

But a second time the voice answered from heaven.

Opportunity recycles and returns to us. The more we ignore God’s voice, the more often God returns to speak to us. The louder the voice, the more forceful the call. We have only to open our eyes, ears, minds and hearts.

The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us.

Step-by-step God works with us until we understand and act on the call to come together despite our differences.

“Send to Joppa and bring Simon, who is called Peter; he will give you a message by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as it had upon us at the beginning”. 

New openings return to us, never leaving even one lost sheep behind. The more we resist, the stronger the pull. Peter steps beyond his wildest dreams to comfort and save an entire world. Peter steps into our lives to change us forever.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore this sermon, we allow ourselves to take in the Spirit. We allow change to enter into our hearts . . . and live there always.

Tomorrow, Peter walks out of prison.

 

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John 13:21-38: Betrayal in Jerusalem

Holy Tuesday, March 22, 2016judas

One of you is going to betray me . . . [And] as soon as the bread was in Judas’ hand, Satan entered him.

We have become too familiar with the story of Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus the Christ. Today we focus on small details as we read various translations, watching Jesus as he firmly, boldly, patiently and even gently steps into the betrayal he knows awaits him.

What you must do, says Jesus, do. Do it and get it over with.

A crust of bread dipped in wine.

Judas, with the piece of bread, left. It was night.

Thirty pieces of silver. The Potter’s Field. Murder Meadow.

Children, I am with you for only a short time longer. You are going to look high and low for me. But just as I told the Jews, I’m telling you: ‘Where I go, you are not able to come.’

The prophet Jeremiah’s words fulfilled to the letter.

“Master,” says Peter, “why can’t I follow now? I’ll lay down my life for you!”

Gerard van Honthorst: The Denial of St. Peter

Gerard van Honthorst: The Denial of St. Peter

Denial in the courtyard.

“Really?” Jesus replies.  “You’ll lay down your life for me? The truth is that before the rooster crows, you’ll deny me three times”.

The faithful disciples scattering in terror, gathering in hope.

Today we reflect on heroes, heroines, fidelity and betrayal and how Jesus, Judas and Peter bring us the message of the Gospel. For a video message from musician Matt Maher that reflects on the role of Judas in God’s plan, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnibI0Vac0w

Matthew 26 & Matthew 27 tell the story of Peter’s denial and Judas’ end. If there is time today, we reflect on these verses using the scripture links.

For more reflections on betrayal, enter the word into the blog search bar and explore.

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Matthew 16:13-19: The Christ

Monday, February 22, 2016you_are_the_christ_son_of_the_living_god

We might well wonder who Jesus is. For centuries scholars and common folk alike have pondered this question. Religious wars are fought; synods and councils are called; church leaders write creeds that lay out who and what this man means to us. Old and New Testaments predict and describe him and while sacred scripture and secular writings alike attempt to define him, Jesus gives us his open arms and willing heart. Jesus both defies and invites definition. Who and what are Jesus?

Jesus asks his disciples: What are people saying about who the Son of Man is?

They reply saying: Some think he is John the Baptizer, some say Elijah, some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.

Jesus presses them: And how about you? Who do you say I am?

Simon Peter says: You’re the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

Jesus then replies: God bless you, Simon, son of Jonah! You didn’t get that answer out of books or from teachers. My Father in heaven, God himself, let you in on this secret of who I really am. And now I’m going to tell you who you are, really are.

Testimonies record encounters with the risen Christ and we may also have recorded or passed on our own encounters to those who have open ears and minds and hearts.

Today we hear Jesus ask each of: And how about you? Who do you say I am?

Today we have the opportunity to add our own demonstration of faith in Christ to the countless stories that have been told and are yet to be told. Let us count ourselves among that number as we remember our Lenten practice and . . . Rather than thinking: “Let us make three tents to contain the joy of God’s wisdom,” let us think instead, “Let us share the joy of God’s great gift of love”.

Human Christ Charlotte AllenCharlotte Allen, a controversial journalist published in the Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington, Post, the Washington Times, Insight, City Journal, Washington Monthly, the New Republic and the Atlantic, has written The Human Christ: The Search For The Historical Jesus (ISBN 0-684-82725-5). Her interesting blog can be found at: https://blogstupidgirl.wordpress.com/

For more on the divine Christ, visit the Bible Hub at: http://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/adeney/the_divine_christ.htm 

For a Noontime reflection on the connection between Jesus and Jonas, read the Jonah 3:1-3: Setting Out for Nineveh post at: https://thenoontimes.com/2015/03/05/jonah-31-3-setting-out-for-nineveh/

Today we think about the many perspectives on the identity of Jesus. Tomorrow, they preach but they do not practice. 

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Luke 9:8-36: Transfiguration

Second Sunday of Lent, February 21, 2016grymes violins

So many times we are called to Transfiguration.  So many times we are called to Exodus.  So many times we meet angels and prophets and yet do not respond.  We are so caught up in getting through the day, getting through the night, the week, the month, the year . . . the life.

So often we want to pause at a happy spot to set up a tent to house that moment and hold it.  So often we want to wrestle with time until it obeys us.  We live in the past . . . live in the future . . . live anywhere else but the present . . . re-living, un-living, projecting, transferring.

Jesus goes up to the mountain with two of his beloved apostles to speak with Elijah, Moses and his Father about the work that lies before him.  Of course he knows what was expected of him – down to the smallest detail – yet he listens to those who have gone before him. He listens to the wisdom of the ages. And he shares the experience with his friends.

violins of hopeJesus shares this wisdom and love with us as well.  He give to us the opportunity of transfiguration of self.  We are not held away from the gift of salvation; rather, we are invited to join Christ’s joy and glory.  So when the cloud descends upon us, and we hear the voice from the mist say: This is my Son, listen to him . . . may we have the courage, the wisdom, the light and the joy to do as we are bidden.  Because through this experience comes a true knowing of God, a true knowing of self.  With this comes an openness to the Word and the Truth and the Light.

In this Lenten journey, it is good to pause to reflect upon the possibilities offered to us through Transfiguration.

Adapted from a Favorite from December 11, 2007.

Looking for transfiguration, we begin a new Lenten practice this week. Rather than thinking: “Let us make three tents to contain the joy of God’s wisdom,” let us think instead, “Let us share the joy of God’s great gift of love”.

grymes bookTo learn more about how the Violins of Hope provide an opportunity for learning and reflection through restored instruments that survived the Holocaust, and to see how Cleveland’s MALTZ MUSEUM OF JEWISH HERITAGE offers opportunities of transfiguration, click on the images above or visit: http://www.violinsofhopecle.org/

To hear these violins in concert, go to a CBS video at: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/violins-of-hope/  

Learn about the book Violins of Hope by James A. Grymes at: http://www.jamesagrymes.com/

Tomorrow, the Christ.

 

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Mark 6:45-52: Stepping Into Surprise

Po_vodam

Ivan Aivazovsky: Jesus Walks on Water

Tuesday, December 2, 2015

Yesterday we reflected with Matthew on our willingness to step out of the little boat of our lives when Jesus approaches us across the water. Today we visit Mark, who tells his story in clipped, precise sentences, but curiously includes this verse: He meant to pass them by.  What might Mark be asking us to consider with these simple words?

When we find ourselves in turmoil we may feel as though Jesus has us passed by. When we cannot find our way out of darkness, we might believe that God has chosen to ignore us. When we look for healing that never comes, we may wonder where the Spirit has chosen to settle. In all of these feelings of abandonment we will be mistaken for God is always with us.

Seeing the apostles’ distress, Jesus climbs into the boat with them and says: Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid!  Then Mark reminds us that even though they had witnessed his division of the loaves and fish for thousands of people: They had not understood the incident of the loaves.  On the contrary, their hearts were hardened.  Jesus does not condemn his closet friends and apostles when he sees they do not understand; but rather he steps into the boat to calm their fears.

Matthew (14:22-33) begins his recollection of this event by borrowing from Mark and then adds one of his special stories about Peter, the man who becomes the cornerstone of the church.  Matthew affords us the opportunity to – like Peter – step out of the boat to walk toward the shimmering vision.  He offers us the chance to step out of safety into the turbulent sea of life.  He reminds us that when the waters begin to swamp the vessel, we may want to do the surprising . . . step into the uproar rather than hide quaking in the gunwales of the ship.

Advent is a time of praying, reflecting, preparing to step out into the turmoil.  It is a time to put aside fears to tend to the truly eternal: time spent in pondering The Word in the form of scripture, thanksgiving shown for miracles already received and yet to be received; fidelity and constancy as the foundation of our lives . . . courage and fidelity leading us to serenity and trust in God.  When we feel our boat rocking, rather than allowing our fear to take us over, we are heartened when we truly hear today’s story.

So let us pray:  Advent is a time of wonder.  Advent is a time of surprises.  Advent is a time of being open to newness and outrageous possibilities.  Advent is a time to step out of the boat in faith to walk – unbelievably and impossibly – on a surface which ought not support us.  Let us walk away from fear . . . toward the one who does not let us fall. 

During the storms, Jesus is really quite near, moved with compassion when he sees our suffering.  Rather than cry out anxiously from our hiding place, let us step out of our little craft and out of our old habits.  Let us step into something new . . . a freedom of complete trust in the hand of our maker . . . the hand that is always extended to meet us.  Let us step into the surprise.

Adapted from a Favorite written on December 6, 2008.

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part VIfoundation-277x156

Sunday, September 20, 2015

How do we begin to build a strong foundation that will withstand the storms of life and be our constant restoration? Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth show us the way.

Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 3:10-11)

What do we do once the foundation is laid? Can we expect the difficult part of our work to be complete? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us.

1 cor 3-1As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything’s going your way? (1 Corinthians 3:1-4)

How do we make certain we are doing the correct work? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that we must look to God for our assignments.

We each carried out our servant assignment. I [Paul] planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working. (1 Corinthians 3:5-9)

What is the great reward we expect to have? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that we are each living stones in God’s living temple.

1cor3-16-17-temple-of-god-holy-building-1024x575You are God’s house. Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. (1 Corinthians 3:9-15)

Can we expect to find peace if we hide from the potential God has placed in us? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that the reward may seem like a punishment, but then God’s world is always about inversions.

 Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. Be God’s fool—that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)

lord is spiritWhat will our reward look like after our travail? Paul tells the Corinthians and he tells us that our reward will be greater than any other we will know. Our reward is our life in Christ.

I don’t want to hear any of you bragging about yourself or anyone else. Everything is already yours as a gift—Paul, Apollos, Peter, the world, life, death, the present, the future—all of it is yours, and you are privileged to be in union with Christ, who is in union with God. (1 Corinthians 3:21-23)

Spend time with these verses today and compare varying versions. When we spend time with God in this way, God’s wisdom seeps into our bones. Christ’s peace settles into our hearts. And the Spirit binds us to God forever, bringing us restoration.

Tomorrow, words from the master builder, Jesus.

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Acts 4:32-37: One Heart and Mindheart

April 25, 2015

In Easter gratitude we remember that Jesus has a vision and message for each of us. In Easter beatitude we offer back to the risen Christ our witness, our actions, our hearts and our minds.

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.

This is the community that lives the vision Jesus brings to us when he appears to the Apostles after his resurrection: He opened their minds to understand Scriptures. (Luke 24:45) Jesus calls us today to bring this kingdom into fullness through him.

With great power the Apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all.

This is the living message Jesus brings to us that Peter brings to the people who long for healing and peace. The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. (Acts 3:14-15) Jesus asks us today to pass on the good news that the Spirit lives in us eternally.

There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, and put them at the feet of the Apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.

This is the community Jesus describes and asks us to build, one in which we find a way to be of one heart and one mind in Christ. My children, I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin . . . Those who say, “I know him”. But do not keep his commandments are liars, and the truth is not in them. But whoever keeps his word, the love of God is truly perfected in him. (1 John 2:1-5) Jesus speaks to us today, calling us to testify to his presence in all space and all time. Let us witness to the Easter miracle by imitating the Apostles as best we can. Let us look for the paths that bring us together in one heart and one mind in Christ.

Click on the image above for another reflection on acting of one heart and mind.

Tomorrow, listening for the voice that calls . . . 

 

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