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Posts Tagged ‘promise’


Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part Vlighthouse

Sunday, September 18, 2022

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 . . . 


Images from: http://walkbyfaithkkw2011.blogspot.com/2012/05/contentment.html and https://www.pinterest.com/totogale/new-testament-hebrews/ 

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Deuteronomy 4:32-40: Anything So Great

Luca Rossetti da Orta: Holy Trinity

Luca Rossetti da Orta: Holy Trinity

Saturday, June 4, 2022

This week we have reflected on our relationship with the Spirit, the lessons Jesus teaches us, and our response to God’s call; tomorrow we look forward to the celebration of this trinity of love. We remember some of Moses’ words as he calls his people to new life.

Ask now of the days of old, before our time, ever since God created man upon the earth; ask from one of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever  happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you did, and live? Or did any god ever venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors, all of which the Lord, your God, did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?  

We ask ourselves these same questions. Have we ever encountered anything so great as this promise fulfilled of rebirth and transformation? Have our little gods of comfort and pleasure brought us the measure of joy as the healing of the Spirit?

We might see the world as a place of evil and corruption, or we might see it as a place of possibility and hope. As we prepare to celebrate the miracle of the Pentecost and anticipate the gift of Trinity, let us count the blessings God has generously given, let us determine to live as Christ has asked us, and let us remember the saving power of the Spirit. For there has never been, and never will be, anything as great as these three in one.


Use the scripture link above to compare versions of these verses, and consider if we have ever experienced anything so great as this promise, this miracle, this trinity of love.

Click on the image to learn more about the feast of the Trinity or visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_Sunday

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Deuteronomy 26: 16-19: The Covenantthe-new-covenant

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Celebrating the Beatitudes, striving to fully take in Jesus’ teachings, we remind ourselves of our heritage and our commitment. Our relationship with God is one we entered into at our creation; and it is a connection and support that will hold us forever.

Today the Lord is making this agreement with you . . .

These are such simple and beautiful words coming from the book of Deuteronomy, or “second law”. Here we find a kind of re-hashing of the historical events which brought the Hebrews to the Moab desert where they waited for forty days before crossing the Jordan to enter their promised land.

You are a people peculiarly God’s own . . . as God promised you . . .

Jesus uses words from this book in his interchanges with Satan when he goes to the desert for forty days just before the beginning of his public ministry (Matthew 4). Jesus again quotes Deuteronomy when he explains the first and greatest commandment of love to a young man (Matthew 22). Matthew, who was writing for a Jewish audience to help his reader understand the implications of these Deuteronomy citations by Jesus, stirred up the corrupt Jewish leadership who had tended to the letter of the law while neglecting its spirit.

God will raise you high in praise and renown and glory . . .

Just so might these words stir up contention today; yet just so will these words bring consolation to those who live a just and authentic life.

God will make you a people sacred to the Lord . . .

Jesus becomes the fulfillment of this Old Covenant because he is the New Covenant. As this new agreement and promise, he is also hope. In this season when we continue to celebrate the miracle of Easter, let us be careful to observe Jesus’ statute of loving one another – even our enemies – with our whole heart and our whole soul. Let us continue to walk in his ways, and hearken to his voice. And let us continue to be a people sacred to God . . . as he has promised.


Image from: http://imgkid.com/covenant-with-god-through-jesus.shtml

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Matthew 5:8: The Clean of Heartheart_on_fire_wallpaper__yvt2

Easter Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Blessed are the clean of heart, for they will see God. (Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount)

How do we strive to be clean or pure of heart? Richard Rohr, O.F.M., write and speaks frequently about our compulsion to see the world as dual rather than united. We humans are drawn to a divisive “us-versus them” world in which we earn God’s attention and grace. What we fail to consider with this model is God’s true identity. We choose to see God as we have created God; and we disregard God as revealed through scripture and the person of Jesus. In this non-dual, unitive concept of the creator we create God in our own image rather than God to create us as sisters and brothers in Christ.

God says: You have read the story of my journey on earth with you in the person of Jesus. Return to those stories and read my words to the people of the first century. I repeat them to you today. You have heard of the hope and promise I have in mind for you. Return to the words of the prophets and remember the plans I have in mind for you. They are plans for your joy and not your woe. You have witnessed the perfection of my kingdom in the persistence on my apostles and disciples. Imitate my followers and do not be surprised when you fail. The pure of heart are not free from error; rather, they have learned that my kingdom has room for the sinner, accepts the fallen and care-worn, lifts up those who have been trampled by life’s woes and worries. Come then, and live in my perfection, a way that perseveres in faith, lives in hope and acts in love.

It is not possible for humans to attain perfection except in their perseverance in belief, except through the fire of Christ’s Easter passion, except by the healing call of the Spirit. It is in this way that we cleanse our hearts and truly come to see the face of God. It is in this way that we witness the goodness of God’s kingdom.

Tomorrow, peacemakers.


Image from: https://priscillapeace.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/you-set-my-heart-on-fire/

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tomb-imageMatthew 5:11 and Luke 6:22: Rejoice!

Easter Sunday, April 17, 2022

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. (Matthew’s account of the Sermon on the Mount)

Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your nature as evil on account of the Son of Man. (Luke’s account of the Sermon on the Plain)

God says: Many of you have created cultures that lure you into believing that your goal is to prepare for every cataclysm and stave off every hazard, but these creeds may not serve you well. Many of you live in societies that know too well the effects of corruption, self-preservation, avarice and envy. And then many of you live among advantaged people who understand the inversion of my kingdom where the poor are the powerful and the strong are weak. Listen to my words in these sermons on the mount and plain and look at all you see around you. Rejoice in the promise of the Easter miracle that these inversions are true. And rejoice in the knowledge that my kingdom is already declared among you. Rejoice. Be glad. Open your hearts to the wayward, the fallen, the voiceless and powerless. And as you celebrate with Easter joy . . . tend to my sheep.

love_00370941The tomb that is empty is full of new life. The life that is given is restored in new measure. The heart that is broken is transformed in God’s love. Rejoice and be glad in the promise of this day! Rejoice and be glad in Christ who is with us always! Rejoice!


Images from: http://pixgood.com/heart-on-fire-animation.html and https://revdtabbs.wordpress.com/2013/03/31/the-empty-tomb-is-not-an-idle-tale/

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Luke 24: Resurrection Narrative

Carracci: Women at the Tomb of Christ

Hannibale Carracci: Women at the Tomb of Christ

Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 27, 2022

The stories we read in the closing chapter of Luke are ones that bring us through dark nights and heavy days. They bolster our spirits and restore energy. They lend us strength and heal our wounded-ness.

Two men in dazzling garments are waiting in the empty tomb. Can we take ourselves to that moment and that space to imagine this Easter surprise that both heartened and frightened Jesus’ followers? Can we imagine God’s messengers comforting us and bringing good news as we stand in our own empty tombs? We must . . . for this is part of our own resurrection miracle.

Hendrick Terbruggen: Supper at Emmaus

Hendrick Terbruggen: Supper at Emmaus

Two followers of Jesus realize that their hearts were burning within while their dinner guest spoke to them to open scripture and ease their sorrow. Can we put ourselves in a moment when we have just been touched by the resurrected Christ but were too anxious or too angry to look fully in the face that wants to relieve our suffering? Can we relive the healing touch and grace-filled words that flooded the moment when a stranger or friend spoke just the right word at just the right moment? We must . . . for this part of our own resurrection promise.

Peace be with you. Can we recall an experience when we were startled and terrified and thought we were seeing a ghost only to succumb to incredulous joy and amazement at the recognition that God moves in our lives each moment of our existence? Can we recollect the understanding that all is well and that God is in charge? We must . . . for this is our own resurrection narrative.

Velázquez: Kitchen Scene with the Supper in Emmaus

Diego Velázquez: Kitchen Scene with the Supper in Emmaus

This week we remember that we are Theophilus, God’s own friend, and we have dedicated time with scripture to allow God’s Word to enter into our hearts and minds. We journey with the Gospel stories to find clues to our identity as sisters and brothers of Christ. And we open ourselves to a candid examination of what and why we want to change. Luke records Jesus’ resurrection narrative that we read again today. Let us begin to fully believe the miracle and promise of this story. And let us determine to make Jesus’ narrative our own.


Use the scripture link to compare differing versions of Luke 24 as we open our hearts and minds to the Living Word of God Among Us.

 Carracci image from: http://www.artbible.net/3JC/-Mat-28,01_Women_Resurrection_Femmes/2nd_16th_Siecle/slides/16%20CARRACCI%20WOMEN%20AT%20THE%20TOMB%20OF%20CHR.html

Terbruggen image from: http://www.wikiart.org/en/search/supper%20at%20emmaus/1

Veláquez image from: http://www.wikiart.org/en/search/supper%20at%20emmaus/1

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Christmas_BethlehemFriday, January 14, 2022

Joy and Micah

Outrage

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today we feel the outrage of the prophet Micah who challenges the rich, witnesses to the corruption and immorality of religious leaders . . . and offers hope and promise to the exploited.  

The second chapter of Micah begins: Woe to you who lie awake at night, plotting wickedness; you rise at dawn to carry out your schemes; because you can, you do. You want a certain piece of land or someone else’s house (though it is all he has); you take it by fraud and threats and violence. (2:1-2)

We do not have to wonder about the identity of Micah’s audience. A contemporary of Isaiah, little is known about him except that, “With burning eloquence he attacked the rich exploiters of the poor, fraudulent merchants, venal judges, corrupt priests and prophets”. Scholars note that although Micah delivers “reproach and the threat of punishment, [he also offers] a note of hope and promise”. (Senior 1140)

According to Micah, the Lord promises to deliver evil for evil (2:3). The Lord’s threats are for our good, the prophet tells us, to get us on the right path. (2:7) Exasperated, Micah speaks frankly: You steal the shirts right off the backs of those who trusted you, who walk in peace. You have driven out the widows from their homes and stripped their children of every God-given right. Up! Begone! This is no more your land and home, for you have filled it with sin, and it will vomit you out. I’ll preach to you the joys of wine and drink”—that is the kind of drunken, lying prophet that you like! (2:9-11)

Micah confronts evil with its own image, pointing out to those who find comfort at the expense of truth and integrity that they deceive no one by pretending that the joy they find in temporal pleasure can in any way equal the joy God offers.

Restoration is assured, Micah tells anyone who will listen. Humans will no longer train for war; each one of us might sit serenely beneath our own fig trees without fear. And who will bring this renewal? O Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are but a small Judean village, yet you will be the birthplace of my King who is alive from everlasting ages past! (5:2)

As we reflect on this Christmastide we have so recently shared, let us consider the gift of self that God brings us. And let us remember that despite his outrage . . . Micah brings us the good news of redemption, hope and promise.


For a reflection on finding Christmas in the Old Testament, click on the Bethlehem image above, or visit: http://www.pointcommunitychurch.org/2014/12/christmas-in-the-old-testament/ 

joySenior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1140. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right-hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar. 

Image from: http://www.pointcommunitychurch.org/2014/12/christmas-in-the-old-testament/

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John Singleton Copely: The Nativity

John Singleton Copely: The Nativity

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Joy and Lamentations

Preparing for Christmas

“The sixth century B.C. was an age of crisis, a turning point in the history of Israel. With the destruction of the temple and the interruption of its ritual, the exile of the leaders and loss of national sovereignty, an era came to an end”. (Senior 1017) Today joy surprises us from the depths of despair as a people lifts hope high . . . waiting for the coming of the Messiah.

This book of verses expresses the profound grief of a people stretched beyond the limits they had imagined bearable. The jubilant bride has become the bereft widow. Abandoned and disgraced, suffering the wrath of a conquering nation, besieged by guilt and every kind of negative emotion, the people of God await rescue. The faithful raise high their outrageous hope that God will transform their lives as they rely on the Lord’s infinite compassion and love. Joy seems a distant memory to the people of God . . . yet, we know that the awaited Messiah arrives in this holiest of nights. The awaited Messiah is indeed already among us.

Verse 2:15: All who pass along the way clap their hands in derision at you; they hiss and shake their heads at the daughter of Jerusalem, “Is this the city of which they said, ‘The perfection of beauty, a joy to all the earth’?”

These verses presage the story of Christ’s passion and death on Calvary when passers-by mocked him, taunting him to call on God for deliverance. These words recall a sweet time of happiness when all was well, and they foretell a time when the rescue they so sorely need will arrive as promised.

The five laments in this book “combine confession of sin, grief over suffering and humiliation of Zion, submission to merited chastisement, and strong faith in Yahweh’s love and power to restore. The union of poignant grief and unquenchable hope reflects the constant prophetic vision of the weakness of man and the strength of God’s love; it also shows how Israel’s faith in Yahweh could survive the shattering experience of national ruin”. (Senior 1017)

joyJust as these ancient people place their hope in God who saves and heals, so do we place our hope in the child who comes into our lives this night of nights. Let us take a few moments today to study Copely’s rendering of The Nativity above, and let us gather our lamentations over all that pains us. Let us also gather our individual and collective hope and know that despite dire circumstances and ruin, with God all will be well. And let us open ourselves to the joy that God has in store for us for God, Emmanuel, is among us.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urge you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.


Image from: http://framingpainting.com/famous-paintings/famous_nativity_paintings.html

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1017. Print. 

 

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Thursday, February 11, 2021

imagesCAJ3N3X3Psalm 119:169-176

Taw

Let my cry come before you, Lord; in keeping with your word give me discernment. Let my prayer come before you; rescue me according to your promise.

In this last stanza the psalmist finally leads us to the understanding that our cry becomes a prayer when we call out to God; the Law becomes a beautiful unfolding of God’s promise of rescue.  The Law of Love, once we take it into our lives to enact it fully, imprints on our hearts and minds and souls the mark of God’s own creation.

God says: So do you now see that my laws bring you to me when you see them as expressions of my love?  Do you understand that when you regard my precepts, testimonies and statutes as commandments to confine and categorize yourself and others you miss the meaning of my message? All of my decrees ask you to intercede for those who have harmed you. Each of the many rules you have created are as dust before me if they close you in revenge and anger. I do not ask for burnt sacrifices; I ask for an open heart and mind. Once you open your heart to me you begin to understand; and the sweet gift of discernment is yours. So ponder what you have heard . . . and prepare to receive the full impact of my Word.

God gives us a joyful invitation in Psalm 119. It is an invitation to accept the gifts of freedom, grace and peace. It is an invitation we may accept or turn down. It is an invitation we will want to consider with care.

One of the scribes . . . asked [Jesus], “Which is the first of all commandments?”  Jesus replied, “The first is this, ‘Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone!  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28-31)


To understand more about the letter Taw and how it represents the seal of creation, go to: http://www.inner.org/hebleter/tav.htm

Image from: http://www.osfphila.org/about/tau

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