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Posts Tagged ‘promise’

Judges 17: The Tribes


Judges 17: The Tribes 

Thursday, June 22, 2017 

The link below will take us to a map of the Middle East at the time of the twelve tribes.  A number of sites might provide similar information, or we might find solid information in a good study Bible map; but no matter the resource, we have an opportunity today to explore our own tribal instincts.

http://www.drshirley.org/geog/geog08.html

It is interesting to see where these families of Jacob settled when they returned from Egypt to cross the Jordan into their promised land.  The Levites, being priests, have no territory; they have 48 cities designated to them.  Joseph’s family has two tribes: Manasseh and Ephraim for his two sons.  The territory each clan is promised is based on the fertility of the land itself so large parcels are less fertile than the smaller ones.  Dan, we see, was never able to occupy the land his tribe was promised in the western portion of the region, so his followers scouted out a suitable city and took it by force.  Some say that this laid a foundation for this tribe’s failure in Judeo-Christian history; however, one thing we can notice is this: even when Israel has finished her desert wanderings and has come home to her promise, she struggles within. She yearns for a king who will bring justice and mercy and true peace to her existence. So might we also struggle once we have passed through a time of trial. So might we also come home from the desert to struggle when we settle into our promise.

From the HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY, page 236.  “The concluding chapters of Judges sound a recurrent theme, ‘In those days there was no king in Israel’ (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25) . . . ‘All the people did what was right in their own eyes’.  Neither judges nor deliverers appear in the concluding stories and, significantly, the threat to Israel is no longer external but internal.  Even when no foreign oppressor appears on the horizon, conditions do not improve, for Israel, left to its sinful ways, pursues a course that threatens its political and religious survival”.

Today we see that some of Jacob’s clan have yet to find their places in the promise alongside their brothers and sisters.  And we also see what action they take to rectify this situation.  We might ask ourselves what we would do in their place.

Tomorrow, Judges 17, reward in due season.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 236. Print.

Adapted from a reflection written on April 16, 2009.

 

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1 Peter 1:3-9: A Living Hope

Third Sunday of Easter, April 30, 2017

Peter Denies Christ
John 18

As we enter into the third week of Eastertide, we look to Peter, Jesus’ companion who denied knowing him (John 18); and who later pledged to the resurrected Christ that he would feed and love his sheep (John 21). We are those sheep and today we listen to Peter’s words.

What a God we have! Because Jesus was raised from the dead, we’ve been given a brand-new life and have everything to live for, including a future in heaven—and the future starts now! 

As we move through our days and nights, this is good news. In our typically linear way of thinking, the past, present and future are separate entities that we cannot manipulate; yet Peter tells us that Jesus has changed the natural order of time. Past, present and future fuse into an eternal timelessness, an infinite oneness, an unending union. And we are invited to participate in this union.

The Day is coming when you’ll have it all—life healed and whole. I know how great this makes you feel, even though you have to put up with every kind of aggravation in the meantime.

As we look at our lives and our surrounding circumstances, these are joyful words. In our consumption and status driven world, the powerful hold sway over the poor, sickness opposes good health, and death overcomes life; yet Peter reminds us of the many miracles that erase the demarcation between wholeness and weakness.

You never saw him, yet you love him. You still don’t see him, yet you trust him—with laughter and singing. Because you kept on believing, you’ll get what you’re looking forward to: total salvation.

James Tissot: Feed My Lambs
John 21

As we anticipate the fulfillment of God’s promise, the serenity of Jesus’ Good News, and perfect union with and in the healing of the Spirit, we find Peter’s words reassuring. In the rush of our days, we pause to reflect on the healing power of Peter’s testimony. From one who once renounced the Living God, we hear the miracle of his conversion. And we turn from our anxieties and fears to the assurance of this Living Hope.

The verses cited above are from THE MESSAGE. To compare these words with those in other translations, use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore Peter’s message of A Living Hope to us.

Tomorrow, the first of Peter’s sermons following Pentecost.

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Luke 24:36-48: Fulfilled

Thursday, April 27, 2017

tissot-the-communion-of-the-apostles-751x523

James Tissot: The Communion of the Apostles

In this second week of Eastertide, we spend time with the Gospels of the Easter Octave, the eight days comprising the celebration of Easter. On day five, Easter Thursday, we hear Luke’s account of what takes place when the Emmaus disciples return to Jerusalem. Once again, when we reflect on a few details, the story becomes vital to our understanding the mystery and miracle of Easter.

First, we choose a translation that speaks to us most clearly. Then we reflect. If we want to hear an audio version of today’s verses, visit the USCCB site. We may find other versions by using the scripture link and drop-down menus.

In the MESSAGE translation, Cleopas and his companion went over everything that happened on the road and how they recognized him when he broke the bread.

Can we imagine ourselves listening to our colleagues as they tell us that they have witnessed a miracle? Can we envision our conversation with family and friends as we hear about their incredible interaction with the risen Christ?

While they were saying all this, Jesus appeared to them and said, “Peace be with you.” They thought they were seeing a ghost and were scared half to death.

Can we predict our reaction to the appearance of Christ among us? What do we say when we share a meal with him? Is our overwhelming emotion fear? Do suspicion and doubt take over? Do anxiety and disbelief crowd our hearts? And then we hear Jesus’ words.

“Don’t be upset, and don’t let all these doubting questions take over. Look at my hands; look at my feet—it’s really me. Touch me. Look me over from head to toe. A ghost doesn’t have muscle and bone like this.” 

How do we reply?

They still couldn’t believe what they were seeing. It was too much; it seemed too good to be true.

We are startled to hear the Teacher ask: “Do you have any food here?” They gave him a piece of leftover fish they had cooked. He took it and ate it right before their eyes.

Duccio di Buoninsegna: Christ Appears to the Disciples at the Table

If we persist in a thick-headed and slow-hearted reaction, we look for ways to unravel the fraud we suspect. If we are reluctant and discouraged, we listen and watch warily, looking for reasons to doubt. If we remain hopeful and determined, we open our minds and hearts as we prepare to love and be loved. We listen to Christ’s words. We accept the joyful newness that asks to change our thinking.

Jesus says,Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled. You’re the first to hear and see it. You’re the witnesses”.

We cannot do this, we are thinking. We do not have the courage or the tools. This newness is all too new, and too incredible for belief. Until Christ tells us . . . “What comes next is very important: I am sending what my Father promised to you, so stay here in the city until he arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high”.

Christ predicts the arrival and in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit. Christ offers a gift too amazing to believe. Christ proposes a life too wonderful, too mystifying, too marvelous to believe. And yet . . .

Christ stands in the midst of us, sharing our meals, attending to our fears and doubts. Christ has fulfilled the promise of redemption made by the Living God for millennia. The choice is ours to make. Do we turn inward in our doubt? Or do we open in newness to accept the fulfillment of the promise we are offered?

For other posts on the story of Emmaus, enter the word into the blog search bar and explore.

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Tobit 3:24-25: The Favor of Providence

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Tobias_cura_a_cegueira_de_seu_pai_-_Domingos_Sequeira

Domingos Sequeira: Tobias Heals the Blindness of his father Tobit

As a Noontime companion, you will know that this book is a favorite. This story is full of fidelity, promise, hope, healing, courage, desperation, prayers answered and the mystery of how we gain most in ourselves by trusting God. The story tells us of the importance of the mystery of trust.  We see God move not only through the disguise of the archangel Rafael, but also through people who respond to God’s call . . . even when it places them in danger.

Today’s excerpt is brief but we gain much if we spend some of our time with these verses. They are a wonderful antidote for a dispirited day.  The story reminds us of all the Old Testament foretells, all the prophets predict, all the wisdom books proclaim, and all that Jesus comes to fulfill. We have valuable lessons here. On this second weekend of Lent, we serve ourselves well by reflecting with these verses and taking in their lessons.

First: Tobit shows us that God is good, and we are good. It also shows us that although life is brutal and unpredictable, it is good because it brings us to God.

Second: The faithful need not fight, they only need to stand and refuse to do anything that causes them to abandon their God. We need to kill people with kindness, we need to make our hearts open and vulnerable to God, we must become Christ’s hands and feet, head and heart through the act of healing one another, and through the act of interceding for one another, even our enemies. 

Tomorrow, we discover how these lessons teach us the importance of the mystery of wisdom and trust. If we take an hour or so to read more than these verses this weekend, we will not regret our decision to use our time in this way.

Adapted from a reflection written on March 10, 2008.

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Psalm 39: Landing in Troubletrouble

Saturday, March 11, 2017

We might all pray Psalm 39 each morning in our present atmosphere of gossip, innuendo and hyperbole.

I’m determined to watch steps and tongue
    so they won’t land me in trouble.
I decided to hold my tongue
    as long as Wicked is in the room.
“Mum’s the word,” I said, and kept quiet.

In our current environment of fear, anger and suspicion, we return to the words of the psalmist.

    But the longer I kept silence
The worse it got—
    my insides got hotter and hotter.
My thoughts boiled over;
    I spilled my guts.

“Tell me, what’s going on, God?
    How long do I have to live?
    Give me the bad news!

In our present milieu of nepotism, corruption and denial, we look for Wisdom in God’s Word.

You’ve kept me on pretty short rations;
    my life is string too short to be saved.
Oh! we’re all puffs of air.
    Oh! we’re all shadows in a campfire.
Oh! we’re just spit in the wind.
    We make our pile, and then we leave it.

“What am I doing in the meantime, Lord?
    Hoping, that’s what I’m doing – hoping
You’ll save me from a rebel life,
    save me from the contempt of dunces.

I’ll say no more, I’ll shut my mouth,
    since you, Lord, are behind all this.
    But I can’t take it much longer.

In our current setting of despair, anxiety and distrust, we look for hope in God’s promise of justice.

When you put us through the fire
    to purge us from our sin,
    our dearest idols go up in smoke.
Are we also nothing but smoke?

In our present circumstances, we are honest with our Creator. We are hopeful in Christ. And we are faithful to the Spirit.

“Ah, God, listen to my prayer, my
    cry – open your ears.
Don’t be callous;
    just look at these tears of mine.
I’m a stranger here. I don’t know my way –

    a migrant like my whole family.
Give me a break, cut me some slack
    before it’s too late and I’m out of here.”

In every moment of every day, we remember that God is with us no matter our circumstance, and no matter our state of mind. We remember to trust the hand that created us, and to follow the voice that calls us.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore other versions of this psalm, we encounter God’s real presence in our lives, especially when we find ourselves surrounded by trouble. And we encourage one another to trust the wisdom and promise of God.

 

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1 Peter 1:17-21: Sloppy Living

Saturday, August 27, 2016o-WRAPPED-GIFT-facebook

As the leader of Christ’s nascent church, Peter laid out a simple plan to avoid what he called sloppy living. Let there be doubt, he tells us, each of us has the gift of life from one who loves us dearly; and each day of our journey brings us another opportunity to unfold this gift.

Your life is a journey you must travel with a deep consciousness of God. It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in. He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know. He died like an unblemished, sacrificial lamb. And this was no afterthought. 

Peter is clear, the sacrifice freely given by Christ deserves our best response. And this response cannot be languid or superficial. It must be authentic and deep.

As the leader who continues to lead us on our journey, Peter challenges us to live up to the promise placed in us. He urges us to return the compassion and kindness so lovingly and intentionally given. He implores us to trust God consciously and always.

God always knew he was going to do this for you. It’s because of this sacrificed Messiah, whom God then raised from the dead and glorified, that you trust God, that you know you have a future in God.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to compare THE MESSAGE version of these verses with other translations, we are given the opportunity to explore our own lives to look for traces of sloppy living.

Tomorrow, the foolishness of trusting in riches. 

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The Gospels: WaitingGood-Friday

Good Friday, March 25, 2016

We live in a culture of immediacy; we have created a society that dispels mystery. We insist on knowing our unborn child’s gender; paparazzi tell us the daily intimate details of the lives of the famous. We insist on quick marts, fast food, instant dinners and bread-making machines. We look for comfort, create short cuts through pain, and seek antidotes to suffering.

We fail to teach our children how to suffer well. We shy away from abiding with family and friends who wait for Christ’s infinite, overpowering love to heal and transform. We have failed to learn the lesson of waiting.

This Good Friday, as we mourn what we first believe to be the loss of truth in the face of corruption, let us remain and abide with Mary the Mother of Jesus and John the Beloved Apostle at the foot of the cross. Let us await the promise of light that we know is arriving to pierce the darkness. Let us rest in the peace and joy of the resurrection story.

tomb linens (2)Matthew 28

Mark 16

Luke 24

John 20

Using the scripture links and drop-down menus, spend time with God’s word. Then watch or listen to Matt Maher’s video presentation on the gift of waiting at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnp60uQ3EAw

 

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Isaiah 35:1-10: The Holy Road

Monday, December 7, 2015freephoto_feetwalking_pixabay

Daily headlines may lead us into thinking that we have no reason for hope in the future. Isaiah tells us that we would be mistaken. Isaiah gives us reason to enter into Advent hope, promise and joy.

Wilderness and desert will sing joyously, the badlands will celebrate and flower . . .

All peoples and places where terror and pain rule will celebrate Christ’s healing rescue.

Energize the limp hands, strengthen the rubbery knees. Tell fearful souls, “Courage! Take heart!

All injury and harm that is meant to destroy will transform sorrow into joy with the Spirit’s comforting presence.

God is here, right here, on his way to put things right and redress all wrongs.

All evil and darkness that whips up angry and anxiety will become tools for transformation with God’s renewing power.

Blind eyes will be opened, deaf ears unstopped, lame men and women will leap like deer, the voiceless break into song.

Jesus healed hundreds and fed thousands when he walked among us; Christ continues to restore and sustain.

desert-flowerSprings of water will burst out in the wilderness, streams flow in the desert. Hot sands will become a cool oasis, thirsty ground a splashing fountain.

The Spirit brings about the impossible; the Creator fulfills all promise.

There will be a highway called the Holy Road. No one rude or rebellious is permitted on this road.

Jesus has shown us The Way in which we are to walk – with the marginalized rather than the powerful, with the abandoned rather than the famous and beautiful, with the abandoned rather than the familiar.

It’s impossible to get lost on this road. Not even fools can get lost on it. No lions on this road, no dangerous wild animals – nothing and no one dangerous or threatening.

temple_hera_roadThe Way is the Narrow Gate that stands before us. When we trust in God the door to this way opens to us. When we follow Christ the narrow gate opens wide. When we have faith in God the Holy Road opens at our feet . . . inviting us to move forward into a future full of hope, promise and joy.

The people God has ransomed will come back on this road. They’ll sing as they make their way home . . . welcomed with gifts of joy and gladness as all sorrows and sighs scurry into the night.

Reflect on the idea of repairing what we have rather than buying new. For an interesting perspective, read about why Patagonia ™ wanted its customers to stay away from its stores on Black Friday in the USA, a day dedicated to in-store and online shopping. Visit: http://www.patagonia.com/us/home OR http://www.techinsider.io/patagonias-well-worn-campaign-2015-11 OR http://fortune.com/2015/09/14/rose-marcario-patagonia/

For information on ancient Roman roads, visit: http://www.biblewalks.com/info/RomanRoads.html#Introduction

To visit an interesting blog, click on the desert flower image or go to: http://reverendmom.blogspot.com/2010/12/least-likely.html  

 

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Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part Vlighthouse

Saturday, September 19, 2015

If we cannot believe in restoration after the desert, let us at least begin by asking God to strengthen our gift of faith. Just as a mariner trusts that the lighthouse will guide ships past rocky shores, let us trust the Gospel story of Jesus. The writer of the letter to Hebrews shows us the way. From Hebrews 11.

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

If we do not have confidence, let us ask God for this gift of sureness.

By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.

If we do not have understanding, let us ask God for the gift of wisdom.

hebrews_1xIt was by this faith that Abraham obeyed when God called him to leave home and go to another land that God would give him as his inheritance. He went without knowing where he was going.

If we do not have fidelity, let us ask God for the gift of certainty.

And even when Abraham reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith – for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. And so did Isaac and Jacob, who inherited the same promise.

If we do not see or believe in God’s promise in our lives, let us ask God for the gift of hope.

For Abraham was looking for a city with eternal foundations, a city whose architect and builder was God.

If we do not feel or comprehend God’s power in our lives, let us ask God for the gift of fortitude. And let us pray.

Nat geo lighthouse in stormGood and loving God, your fidelity lives in us although we may not perceive it. Being your creatures we are made of love for love; yet we might not believe this. Breathe new life into those who are discouraged or unbelieving. Bring new strength to those who falter. And shower us with your hope and encouragement so that we might come to fully know, and feel and understand that your only wish for us is our restoration in and for you. We ask this in Jesus’ name, in unity with the Holy Spirit.  Amen.  

Tomorrow, laying a foundation for restoration . . . 

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