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1 Peter 5: At the Right Timetime-widescreen-high-definition-wallpaper-for-desktop-background-download-free

Monday, May 9, 2022

Yesterday we considered the ancient words of the timeless covenant we share with God. Today we consider the words of Peter, a pastor who knows both this covenant and God’s people well.

All of you, leaders and followers alike, are to be down to earth with each other, for God has had it with the proud, but takes delight in just plain people . . .

As we move through the coming hours, as we strive to be just plain, let us remove all judgment and anxiety from our thoughts.

Be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; God will promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; God is most careful with you . . .

As we move though the coming days, as we hope to put away airs and place ourselves in God’s strong hand, let us remove all recrimination and revenge from our actions.

Keep a cool head. Stay alert. The Devil is poised to pounce, and would like nothing better than to catch you napping. Keep your guard up . . .

devil is a lionAs we move though the coming weeks, as we remember to keep a cool head when all around us seem to be losing theirs, let us work at remaining always in Christ.

You’re not the only ones plunged into these hard times. It’s the same with Christians all over the world . . .

As we move though the coming months, as we work to remain always one in the Spirit, let us remind one another that we are not alone.

So keep a firm grip on the faith. The suffering won’t last forever. 

As we move though the coming year, as we struggle to put our suffering in its proper place and proportion, let us unite with neighbors and enemies and remember that God will move us forward . . . in God’s best and most promising time.


These verses are from THE MESSAGE version of Scripture. Use the scripture link above to compare these verses with other versions and discover God’s intimate message of continued Easter joy. 

Images from: http://homes-kid.com/clocks-wallpaper.html and http://biblia.com/bible/esv/1%20Peter%205.8

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lamp in darkTuesday, December 7, 2021

Joy and Proverbs

Evil

The Book of Proverbs is more than mere adages we repeat in moments of confusion or stress. They are universal metaphors that serve as anchors in a bewildering and sometimes tumultuous world. Many resources are available to understand these maxims and during this second week of Advent we will focus on the surprising power of the proverbs to reveal God’s truth to us.  If this week’s exploration of Proverbs calls you to search for more ways to encounter joy, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. Today joy surprises us in the midst of evil.

In this second week in Advent we continue to share simple verses from Proverbs that bring joy to our hearts even in the most surprising of circumstances.

Verse 13:9: The light of the just gives joy, but the lamp of the wicked goes out.

Verse 21:15: When justice is done it is a joy for the just, downfall for evildoers.

Verse 29:6: The sin of the wicked is a trap, but the just run along joyfully.

joyGod says: When you experience every kind of evil – greed, anger, pride, lust, envy, gluttony or sloth – you need not devise a plan to combat these forces of darkness. You need only rest in me. Christ shows you which way to walk. The Spirit gives you the words you are to use. And I, the Creator, give you strength and stamina beyond your imaginings. Only rest in me. In this way you find joy in the darkest of days and my joy in you is a lamp that pierces all darkness.

Tomorrow, God’s joy will surprise us even in bitterness.


For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

Image from: http://www.boazbaptist.com/alampinthedarkvideo.htm

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joyMonday, November 15, 2021

Job

Joy and the Storm

The Books of Wisdom call us to fidelity; they give us a reason to come together in outrageous hope; and they call us to love as God loves, with compassion, patience and understanding. This sapiential literature offers us the miracle and wonder of joy. If today’s exploration of the Book of Job calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy in times of turmoil, travail and turbulence.

If the story of Job is unfamiliar to us, we will want to spend time with notes and commentary. If the story is a familiar one, we will know where to look for the verses that bring hope to the hopeless and joy to the joyless. In either case, the verses offered below give us a door to the miracle of joy found in the tempest of life.

Verse 5:11: Yes, it is God who raises the humble and gives joy to all who mourn.

Ilya Yefimovich Repin: Job and His Friends

Ilya Yefimovich Repin: Job and His Friends

God says: My son Jesus tells you that I am always with the broken-hearted, the down-trodden, the oppressed and forsaken. He brings this promise to you daily. Jesus also shows you how humility and patience bring not woe but joy. Open the story of my servant Job and you will see how he persists in loving me even when he has nothing. Open your heart to the authority of Christ within you and you will experience joy in the stormy days of your life.

Verse 8:19: Yes, that’s all the joy evil people have; others now come and take their places.

God says: My Spirit cannot be contained or owned; yet she inhabits all there is and was and will be. The Spirit abides, consoles, heals and mends. The Spirit engenders joy even in the midst of the storm and the swirl of deceit. The Spirit fashions joy out of cruelty and dishonesty. The Spirit creates joy in the face of pride and haughtiness. Open your heart to the power of the Spirit within you and will find joy in the dark nights of your journey.

Verse 22:26: Then you will always trust in God and find that he is the source of your joy.

job (1)God says: I am the Alpha and the Omega. I am the beginning and the end. I am the source and summit. I am the impetus and the goal. I am. And I am within you. Open your heart to the power of my love within you and unleash the joy that conquers all evil. Open your heart to the miracles I create for you and discover the full power of my presence. Like my servant Job, you will experience joy in the most dire of circumstances and the most horrific of situations. Examine his story today and look for the dawn that always follows the deep darkness of overpowering storms. 

Verse 38:7: In the dawn of the day of creation the stars sang together, and the heavenly beings shouted for joy.

Blake: Job's Tormentors

William Blake: Job’s Tormentors

Job suffers every kind of humiliation and pain at the hands of Satan; yet he survives and is fully restored as God’s wondrous creation. We too, are God’s creation and so today we ask for the gift of fidelity to God’s call, for the grace of God’s hope that brings us patience, and the presence of God’s love that is the miracle of joy we seek.


Images from:https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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joyWednesday, November 10, 2021

Esther 8

Joy and Intrigue

Much like the Book of Judith, the story of Esther is another that is full of danger and violence but this time counterpointed by trust in God . . . and great rejoicing. Today and tomorrow we discover that despite palace intrigue, envy and anger, joy is present. If today’s story calls you to search for more surprises, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today we find joy in times of deceitful intrigue.

The opening chapters of Esther’s story describe how this young woman, despite her Jewish identity and fidelity to Yahweh, finds herself at the center of a major, political power struggle. Esther’s uncle Mordecai counsels her; and the courtier Haman – full of hatred, envy and pride – plots to kill all Jews in the kingdom. Resenting the power and influence Mordecai and Esther hold with the king, Haman hatches a devilish plot; and Esther finds that the only way for her to survive is to rely on God’s providence and care. In the end, the tables turn on Haman and he suffers the very punishment he had hoped to exact on the Jewish people, death on the gallows built at his own command.

Arent de Gelder: Esther and Mordecai Writing the Second Letter of Purim

Arent de Gelder: Esther and Mordecai Writing the Second Letter of Purim

Verses 8:15-17:  Mordecai left the palace, wearing royal robes of blue and white, a cloak of fine purple linen, and a magnificent gold crown. Then the streets of Susa rang with cheers and joyful shouts. For the Jews there was joy and relief, happiness and a sense of victory. In every city and province, wherever the king’s proclamation was read, the Jews held a joyful holiday with feasting and happiness. In fact, many other people became Jews, because they were afraid of them now.

The story of Esther is one we will want to remember when we find ourselves looking for power and revenge. The story of Esther is one we will want to remember when we find ourselves plotting to preserve power or damage another another’s reputation. The story of Esther is one we will want to recall when we find ourselves thrilling to schemes of undoing . . . rather than planning to work in the kingdom of God.


For more about the painting by Arent de Gelder, click on the image above or go to: http://www.artbible.info/art/large/174.html

For more Noontime reflections about this woman’s story, enter the word Esther into the blog search bar and explore.

Read this story from the beginning at, Esther 1-8. 

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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hard-heartFriday, August 6, 2021

Jeremiah 17:1-11

Obstinacy

Jeremiah speaks so much about the human heart, that place where God speaks, that place where God writes, that place that chooses to respond to the Call we know we hear. Today’s reading is about the stony heart, the hard heart that accompanies the stiff neck, the heart that turns away from Wisdom and so becomes cold and lifeless.

Jeremiah predicts that God will write a new covenant (31:31), a new message on our hearts of stone.  Just as the Israelites turned back to God after having worshiped false gods, so will we once we hear the message of the voice that speaks in that inner place – the only place we trust.

Jeremiah also tells us that the Lord has in mind wonderful plans for us, plans for our joy rather than tears, plans for a newness of heart (29:11).

What is it that hardens hearts and stiffens necks?  The writers of the MAGNIFICAT Mini-Reflection tell us that it is pride when we believe that we have all of the answers to all the world’s problems when in truth we have none.  The true answers to the deepest of mysteries are opened to us by Wisdom that comes to us when we trust only in God.

Pride sets subtle snares.  Whenever we imagine that we are in control of life – our own or someone else’s – we have fallen prey to the ancient whisper in the Garden: “You shall be like Gods”.  Mortality is the enduring reminder that we become like God not by our own power but by the power of the cross.  (Cameron 270-271)

We constantly forget that we are already divine. We repeatedly succumb to the subtle call of pride. We regularly forget that we learn best when we fail. Obstinacy in our own plans brings pain. Perseverance and faithfulness are gifts of the Spirit.  Pride in our possessions and accomplishments brings disappointment. Obedience and patience are joy. Hardness of heart brings narrowness. Softness of heart opens the mind, body and spirit. Once we agree to kneel in order to crawl though the Eye of the Needle, we will know Christ’s healing power. The power he gained through his own refusal to succumb to the siren call of pride. The life he gives when we put aside all obstinacy.


Adapted from a reflection written on August 19, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 19.8 (2012): 270-271. Print. 

Image from: https://therock.life/

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Friday, March 26, 2021

Museum of Biblical Art, NY: The Return of the Prodigal Son - Artist unknown

Museum of Biblical Art, NY: The Return of the Prodigal Son – Artist unknown

Amos 9:8-15

Messianic Perspective

Amos brings us God’s Words; he shows us the world’s Woes; he paints for us his intense Visions. If we give in to despair we miss God’s message. If we walk away in pride we miss God’s promise. If we become impatient or irritable we miss God’s grace. If we practice greed we miss feeling God’s love. Today we have the opportunity to count ourselves among the pebbles God sifts from the debris of our selfishness. We are given another chance to rise up out of the ashes of our willfulness.  We are given another season to mend breaches and to rebuild foundations on the days of old.

Jesus tells us this story of the lost son who returns home to his father after having squandered all his father had given to him. So [the son] got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son”. But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again, he lost and now is found”.  So they began to celebrate. (Luke 15:20-24)

Let us also return to the creator who is running toward us with open arms, who is waiting for our word to begin the celebration.


For an interesting article from the National Catholic Reporter in June 2011, on how theologians re-visit the famous parable of the forgiving father,, and how we may be called to forgive church structures, click on the image above or go to: http://ncronline.org/news/peace-justice/theologians-revisit-prodigal-son 

For more on the image of God’s Sieve, go to the Mini-Noontime posted on September 26, 2013 at: https://thenoontimes.com/2020/09/23/the-sieve/ 

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Acts 16:5: Growth


First Sunday of Advent

068[1]November 29, 2020

Acts 16:5

Growth

So the church grew stronger and stronger in the faith and increased in numbers daily.

We continue our journey through a world-wide pandemic. We continue our struggle with inequity and fear. We continue our search for justice and peace. Today we rejoice despite our struggle because we know that light and truth are with us. We know that once we place our anxiety in God’s hands, the way is clear. 

The beginning of a new year brings an obvious opportunity to begin again. We have rituals that help us to remember this: a crystal ball slides down a pole as millions watch in a digital world, old calendars are replaced with new in countless homes and offices, toasts are drunk, benchmarks are celebrated; yet do we empower change and growth in our lives or do we enable destructive, predictable and unchanging behaviors?

The cycle of nature in which we experience disintegration followed by the possibility of regeneration models for us a way in which to live. After the falling apart there is always the chance to come together. The keys are to remain open to the possibility, to encourage growth, and to look for the newness with open minds rather than heavy hearts.

After the storm there is the calm.

After the winter there is the spring.

After the destruction there is the rebuilding.

After the night there is the dawn.

After the exile there is restoration.

Our wounded-ness becomes healing when we grow with newness. Our closed-ness becomes resurrection when we believe with determination. Our humanity becomes divine when we love with vulnerability. As we stand on the threshold of a new liturgical year, we have again the opportunity to experience conversion of the heart, to turn our stubborn pride into endurance, our anger into healing passion, and our anxiety into enduring love. Let us welcome this invitation to new growth as warmly as we welcome the Christ Child, Jesus.

We remember that the fledgling church began in smallness and insignificance. If there is time today, read more about the origen of Christianity in Acts.


Image from: http://frontierdreams.blogspot.com/2011/11/rhythm-in-our-home-first-sunday-in.html

Adapted from a reflection written on January 2, 2009.

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Monday, June 22, 2020

menora-tekes-mica-2[1]Psalm 49

In Evil Days

This Psalm is full of advice about how we are to calm our fears, unburden our hearts and unbend our stiff necks.  It is a practical list of specific strategies for a universal audience . . . rich and poor alike!

My lips will speak words of wisdom.  My heart is full of insight.  How does the psalmist arrive at such understanding and perception?

I will turn my mind to a parable . . . Story telling is a popular pastime in a culture in which most of the population is uneducated and beyond their entertainment value, parables are used to instruct the illiterate using the technique of comparison to teach.  As we read, hear or form parables of our own the burden of our worries lifts.

With a harp I will solve my problems . . . Music soothes the soul, as we know, and the ancient Hebrew people understood this. The harp and flute were used in ancient cultures to both entertain and to quiet the soul.  Saul calls for David and his harp when he is troubled (1 Samuel 16:23).  There are at more than a dozen references to praising God with the harp in Scripture and here the psalmist calls for the use of its comforting tones.  As we sing to God and praise God’s wisdom and power and goodness the problems that besieged us begin to dissolve.

Why should I fear in evil days the malice of the foes who surround me, men who trust their wealth and boast of the vastness of their riches . . . Finally the psalmist tackles problems common to all humanity from the earliest stories in our culture to the present day: envy, greed, pride, an attitude of self-sufficiency, a desire to control.  As we come to realize that no one – not even the super-rich – can avoid the great equalizer, death, we find new energy and rise to new life.

But God will ransom me from the netherworld; he will take me to himself . . .  The Old Testament psalmist foretells the coming of Christ with his story of healing, restoration and resurrection.  The psalmist assures us that as we come to fully understand that God alone creates and God alone saves, nothing that takes place in evil days will be able to strip the promise of life eternal from us.

And so we pray . . .

Eternal and powerful God, open our hearts to receive your wisdom as we sing your praise with harp and flute.

Loving and healing Christ, open our minds to your parables that teach us how to flourish as we grow and blossom with your wisdom and insight.

Abiding and consoling Spirit, open our souls to your loving presence as we learn to abide only in you.

Amen.


To sooth the soul that struggles to survive evil days, watch a video produced for the King David Museum about how Harrari harps are made in the manner that David himself employed, go to: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bO5uA-IPV0E

For lessons about the harp and the flute by musicologist Rabbi David Louis and the Temple Institute in Jerusalem, Israel, watch the following videos: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x4O301lbkiU and http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=endscreen&v=gcTGsmnjwv8&NR=1 

Listen carefully to the story of Moses’ Flute and consider how we might uncomplicated our lives. 

To read about how ancient harps are made today, click on the image above or go to: http://harrariharps.com/

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Wednesday, April 22, 2020

1 Corinthians 10:14-22

humility-word[1]The Importance of Meekness . . . Rejecting Idols

Paul warns that small, easy temptations lead to a great, cataclysmic fall.  What begins at first quietly and even innocently, will later lead to ruin.  We can never hear this lesson too much.

What helps us to maintain the meekness of Christ that we work so much to find and maintain?  It is the Eucharist of thanksgiving in the living Christ that is the antidote against the temptation to serve our personal idols.  It is this gift of self from Christ that redeems and transforms us.  We become too full of ourselves when we believe that we do not need Christ’s protection as we move through our days.  We lose our humility in God when we believe that we can handle our personal obstacles alone.  Pride is perhaps the first sign to ourselves that we are beginning to tread in dangerous territory.

From today’s MAGNIFICAT Mini-Reflection (335).  Pride sets subtle snares.  Whenever we imagine that we are in control of life – our own or someone else’s – we have fallen prey to the ancient whisper in the Garden: “You shall be like gods”.  Mortality is the enduring reminder that we become like God not by our own power but by the power of the cross. 

From Sirach 10 in the Morning Prayer and intercessions today: Odious to the Lord and to men is arrogance, and the sin of oppression they both hate.  The beginning of pride is man’s stubbornness in withdrawing his heart from his Maker; for pride is the reservoir of sin, a source which runs over with vice.  The roots of the proud God plucks up, to plant the humble in their place: he breaks down their stem to the level of the ground, then digs their roots from the earth. 

This from Matthew 23:12: Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; whoever humbles himself will be exalted. 

Temptations come to us on little cat feet, becoming part of our daily self and routine without our noticing, disassembling our humble relationship with God.  St. Paul warns his listeners that the first little steps into our addictions are the beginning of idolatry.  Whatever we do to excess that excludes God from our living and from our decision-making . . . these minuscule openings into idolatry must be investigated and put away.  These little wooings, these seemingly insignificant acts that we believe have no effect upon us are . . . after all is considered . . . our first steps away from God, away from the Garden . . . and into the arms of one who delights in our fall.

Humility keeps us close by the creator. Meekness reminds us to reject our idols. Quiet obedience in the Spirit brings us home to Christ. Today we spend time reflecting on our meekness . . . and how this gift of discipleship binds us forever to God.

Tomorrow, discipleship and the gift of broken-heartedness . . .


Image from: http://www.understandfasting.com/the-answer-to-pride/

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 2.24 (2011): 335. Print. 

First written on February 24, 2011.  Revised and posted today as a Favorite. 

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