Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

Luke 12:33-48: Being Prepared

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Today’s Noontime begins and ends with two sayings or two mantras we might allow to hum within when we feel ourselves slipping onto a byway rather than the straight road to Christ. Our treasure lies in what we store. And those who have been given much have much to return. Both of these refrains call us to think about what serve us well: relationships that have meaning and depth and significance, relationships that are eternal.

In this chapter of his story, Luke records many sayings and stories of Jesus that speak to us about the importance of being prepared for God’s arrival. Jesus asks us to think about how we spend our time. What do we labor to store up? Goods?  Memories? Works? Fruit of our labor? And once stored, what do we do with our treasure? Keep it? Divide it? Dole it out? Share it?

We are asked to prepare ourselves so that once we arrive at the feast we will not be escorted from the party as was the unprepared guest in Matthew 22 who had come to celebrate but was unprepared. We are asked to be faithful, hopeful and loving. We are asked to witness, to watch and to wait. We are asked to be prepared, just as we are with our burglar alarms, our bank accounts and our degrees and awards. We are asked to tend to the work that matters, the work of kingdom-building.

From last evening’s MAGNIFICAT prayer we might gain some insight and strength as we pray:

For those whose works of love meet opposition: protect them from discouragement and harm.

For those whose fidelity is assailed by criticism: defend them from the temptation to abandon their commitment to the Gospel.

For those who have died at the hands of persecutors: raise them up in joy. 

We do well to help one another in the pilgrimage we make together.

We do well to lay up stores of good works for the treasure house.

We do well to share the gifts we are freely given because . . . where our treasure lies, that is where we spend eternity . . . what we have, we are given to share . . . and once shared, this rich abundance goes out to return a hundred fold.  We do well to be prepared. 

Adapted from a reflection written on May 25, 2009.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 25.5 (2009). Print.  

Image from: https://www.thenivbible.com/blog/where-is-your-treasure/

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Acts 2: The Coming of the Spirit

Monday, February 6, 2023

Artist Unknown: Pentecost

Artist Unknown: Pentecost

The second chapter of Acts contains the description of the descent of the Holy Spirit and the joy and enthusiasm of the apostles. This bursting forth from the Upper Room, this settling into communal life, this might be the description of the initiation of any intimate relationship that begins with fire and energy to settle into a constant, abiding love. Joy settling into constancy returning to joy again.  This is what we seek.  This is what God seeks.  Why do we so often forget this?

There is an image in today’s MAGNIFICAT Reflection which describes how the tiny particles of smoke fog our vision.  It continues with the thought that as we seek God through the haze, we pray for one another, and in so doing we exhibit our faith and longing for God.  God sees and recognizes this. Father Men tells us that then all of us will ascend toward the Lord, as if holding onto that prayer. This is the main thing – the rest will follow – but this is essential to our lives. Then Jesus, seeing our faith, will say to all those for whom we have been praying: “My child, awake from your sleep and your sickness, from your palsy, your spiritual paralysis; arise, your sins are forgiven you”.

The image of the apostles who gathered in fear and spiritual paralysis in the Upper Room to pray as they consoled one another is strong as we read this chapter of Acts. These early disciples are rewarded for their faith, for turning to God. They receive the Holy Spirit in such a way that their ardor never flags. We, too, receive this Spirit. We, too, are loved. We, too, are lifted up in joy to our God. May our own desire and zeal for the Lord never falter.

A Favorite from March 3, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 3.3 (2008). Print.  

Image from: https://faithinourfamilies.com/2014/06/07/pentecost-year-a-the-coming-of-the-holy-spirit/




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Luke 21: The Mystery of Wisdom – Part IVwisdom1

Friday, July 8, 2022

We have examined the concept of wisdom not as a body of knowledge but as a way of living. We have explored the idea that wisdom blossoms from strong relationships both with God and with others. And we have reflected on the knowledge that wisdom can be found in God’s promises and grace. Today we spend time with words from Jesus himself so that we might discover how God’s wisdom might be manifested in us.

For I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute.

In this portion of Luke’s story, Jesus has been sharing parables with his followers, describing the kingdom of God and the confusion we experience when we begin to understand its inverted nature. The mighty will be weak while the weak will be strong. The poor in spirit will rejoice and the humble will inherit the earth. The small offering of the widow is worth more than the wealth of kings and emperors. Jesus’ followers ask for clarity and Jesus assures them that the wisdom they will need to enter into and to participate in this kingdom, this wisdom that is eternal and all-encompassing, comes only from God.

When we spend time with this chapter of Luke’s story today and compare varying versions of these verses, we ourselves will grow in this mysterious wisdom that eludes definition – but which saves, redeems and transforms.

If we want to explore more of Jesus’ wisdom, we might read the parables he tells, consider the questions he asks, watch the actions he takes as he moves through adoring crowds and confronts scheming enemies. We may need a good commentary to help us unravel these words and these actions. We may need quiet time to meditate on this amazing life. We may need to read a different version of these verses. Or we may need a mentor or guide to help us in our own wisdom journey. No matter the tools we use, we must take up the invitation to move forward in our understanding of this mystery . . . for this mystery is the essence of life itself, Jesus the Christ. 

Tomorrow, the wisdom of the cross.

Image from: https://unsplash.com/images/religion/open-bible

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Matthew 8:5-13: The Centurion’s Servant003-centurion-servant

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Yesterday we reflected on Jesus’ openness and willingness to heal those forced to live apart from the tribe. Today we reflect on his relationships with those who were scorned as overlords. In the Message version of this familiar story, Jesus is describes as taken aback by the centurion’s words. Enter the word Under the Centurion’s Roof into the Noontime search bar and reflect.

Consider both the centurion and his servant as persons and reflect on who they might be to us today. Is the centurion a soldier, a law enforcement officer, an emergency responder? Is the servant one we would ignore when we visit a friend? Is he someone who works for us silently and unvalued? And finally, let us consider who we are: one of the privileged few elite, one of the many downtrodden, one of the scorned or one of blessed.

Image from: http://www.freebibleimages.org/photos/centurion-servant/

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dad and childSecond Sunday of Advent

December 5, 2021

Joy and Proverbs


The Book of Proverbs is more than a collection of 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. In this second week of Advent we will focus on the surprising power of the proverbs to reveal God’s truth.  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 we find joy in our human family.

Some of us are blessed with a sturdy foundation of human relationships that begin in childhood. Others gather a family of faithful friends around them as they move through life. These acquired “family” members may come to us through our places of work or play or worship; but no matter their genesis, authentic friendships are invaluable in our lives as we look for joy. We give thanks for the joy that comes to us through people and relationships we perhaps take too much for granted.

joyIn a time when women were vulnerable to men who governed every detail of their existence, words like these held great significance. Verse 5:18: So be happy with your wife and find your joy with the woman you married – pretty and graceful as a deer. We remember that many women in today’s world have significance only through men. Seen as possessions, many women have little value as humans. We pray for women who struggle to find importance in their world, and for men who believe themselves superior.

In a time when family roles were strictly defined, the following words held great power. Verse 17:21: Wise children make their fathers happy. Only fools despise their mothers. We remember that in many cultures today household and parenting roles are clearly delineated. Barred from fulfilling work, men and women struggle against rigid parameters that too often limit the joy to be found in our homes. We pray for families everywhere as they look for joy in the simplest of ways.

During WW II the percentage of women in the U.S. workforce increased from 27% to 37%

During WW II the percentage of women in the U.S. workforce increased from 27% to 37%

We might spend time today exploring the life of Malala Yousafzai, a young Pakistani woman who challenges exacting restrictions placed on young women. Or we might investigate information offered by Amnesty International or The United Nations. Choose one of the links below or look for another issue that challenges us to find joy in family . . . and share your thoughts in a comment. Information about Rosie the Riveter and other women who supported the American economy during WW II, click on the image to the left or visit: 



Tomorrow, finding joy in times of deceit.

Images from: http://birthtouch.com/category/infant-sleep-methods/ and http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/american-women-in-world-war-ii

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joyTuesday, November 9, 2021

Matthew 25:14-30

Joy in Small Matters

We move further into scripture looking for stories of joy that continue to surprise us. To explore other stories, 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 pause to consider the joy we might find in the smallest of places in our lives . . . and the way in which small matters have great effect in our lives.

We know the answer to the question: What can one person do about the ills of the world? We easily reply that we can – in apparently unimportant ways – take small actions that have huge, rippling effects in a world looking for a reason to hope. Today we consider the parable of the talents.

From www.christianity.about.com : A talent was an ancient unit of weight and value in Greece, Rome, and the Middle East. In the Old Testament, a talent was a unit of measurement for weighing precious metals, usually gold and silver. In the New Testament, a talent was a value of money or coin . . . In the New Testament , the term “talent” meant something very different than it does today. The talents Jesus Christ spoke of in the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant (Matthew 18:21-35) and the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30) referred to the largest unit of currency at the time. Thus, a talent represented a rather large sum of money. According to New Nave’s Topical Bible, one who possessed five talents of gold or silver was a multimillionaire by today’s standards. Some calculate the talent in the parables to be equivalent to 20 years of wages for the common worker. Other scholars estimate more conservatively, valuing the New Testament talent somewhere between $1,000 to $30,000 dollars today. (http://christianity.about.com/od/glossary/a/Talent.htm )

JOYIn this parable Jesus alerts his disciples to the real meaning of a disciple’s call: The work is arduous but immensely rewarding.

With this parable Jesus reminds us that while much is asked of us, much will also be given.

Through this parable Jesus shows us that when we find joy in the smallest of matters . . . we harvest great joy in the most surprising of ways.

The end of the liturgical calendar is upon us when we look forward to the celebration of Advent, a season of anticipation, a time of hope in the darkness, a rejoicing in the coming of Christ’s healing light in a suffering world longing for transformation. As we prepare for this special time of year, let us close doors on all that has harmed us and open doors to building bridges where rifts have grown. Let us determine to put toxic places and people aside and to ask God’s intervention in rebuilding broken relationships. And let us agree to choose joy even in the darkest of times and in the grimmest of circumstances. We will be mightily surprised at what God has in store for those who respond to God’s call in the smallest of places and in the smallest of matters.



Images from: http://franklinchurchofchrist.com/?p=6589 and http://www.elizabethesther.com/2010/12/christmas-tour-of-my-home-pics-happiness-joy.html

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

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joyFriday, November 5, 2021

Tobit 8

Joy and Tears

We move further into the Old Testament looking for stories of joy that might surprise us. If today’s story calls you to search further, 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. For the next few says, our story is taken from the Book of Tobit.

The story continues and we wonder what will become of the young couple – Tobias and Sarah – who live in fear. How will their parents, Tobit, Anna, Raguel and Edna, resolve the problems that plague their families? And how does the disguised Rafael bring about God’s renewal and transformation to convert tears of sorrow into tears of joy?

Steen: Wedding of Tobias and Sarah

Jan Steen: Wedding of Tobias and Sarah

Spend time with Chapters 6-10 of Tobit today and discover the surprise of God’s healing presence. As we watch Tobit and Anna, Raguel and Edna, Tobias and Sarah, let us look for connections with our own worries and problems. Observe Azarias, the Archangel Raphael in disguise, as he quietly, patiently calms and heals these worried people. Let us mark the times in our own journey when the healing of relationships has taken place when we least expect it. Let us watch for the surprising ways in which joy is always with us, even in the presence of demons. And finally, spend time with the prayers of Tobias, Sarah and Raguel in Chapter 8. With a bit of pondering, we might write our own petition for protection and  song of thanksgiving.  And as we journey with these characters who might be our neighbors or family members, we arrive at a better understanding of how tears of sorrow might become tears of joy.

For Noontimes based on this story, enter the word Tobit in the blog search bar and explore.

Image from: https://www.wikiart.org/en/jan-steen/wedding-of-tobias-and-sarah-1668

For more information about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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Sunday, September 5, 2021

Tibetan Nomads

Tibetan Nomads

Jeremiah 35


Build no house and sow no seed; neither plant nor own a vineyard. You shall dwell in tents all your life, so that you may live long on the earth where you are wayfarers.

Many of us in the developed world live a life of storing up and putting away, of saving for an emergency or the unexpected event. When we read today’s Noontime verses we have the opportunity to assess our level of trust in the creator who knows every detail about us, of our willingness to follow Christ who knows each strength and weakness within us, of our openness to the Spirit who dwells in the heart of each of us to cure, to heal and to console.

We might take this opportunity today to examine our readiness to trust God more than possessions or status. We might also open our minds to the possibility that in many ways we are called to be wayfarers.

God says: I do not ask that you free yourself of your shelter and your stores; rather, I ask that you share them with those who have nothing. I do not ask that you rely on others to provide for your welfare when I have given you gifts with which you might care for yourself and those who live on the margins of your busy life. I ask that you consider your relationships with others in your life as valuable pearls of great price. You are created a social creature and I ask that even your smallest interactions and the briefest of encounters be held as sacred moments in which you meet me. I do not ask that you live as nomads with no purpose or mission; rather, I ask that you put down willing roots into the soil of my kingdom. For there you will flourish and bear fruit in my name. There you will journey with me to experience the mystery and gift and surprise of new life in me. And you will discover the plans for peace that I have in mind for you. You will celebrate with timbrel and dance and tambourine. You will sing and cry and laugh with me. And you will realize just how great my love is for you.

As we reflect on Jeremiah and the Rechabites, let us consider what we store up, what we share, and what we love. Let us consider our life as a wayfarer in God’s kingdom.

To learn about Tibetan nomads, click on the image above or visit: http://www.traveladventures.org/continents/asia/tibetan-nomads.html

For more on Jeremiah 35, enter the words Taking Correction into the blog search bar and explore.

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Jeroboam and Rehoboam

Jeroboam and Rehoboam

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

2 Chronicles 11

A Prayer for Returning Home

Let every man return home, for what has occurred I have brought about . . .

Civil War is averted for a time when the sons of Solomon, Jeroboam and Rehoboam, divide their father’s kingdom in two: the tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south still loyal to Jerusalem and Yahweh, the other ten tribes to the north fashioning idol gods and leaving the covenant. The Levite priests and others who wish to remain with Yahweh leave their assigned places in the north to move south. Rehoboam amasses his troops, but does not strike at the north because God requires that they all return home. When we read chapters 12 and 13 we see what happens to Rehoboam. Despite the fact that here he listens to Yahweh, he later strays. This all seems a ridiculous plan for Yahweh to have designed; yet, is it? Psalm 55 provides us with a food for thoughts about splits among friends as Intimate Civil Wars, and Internal Schisms.

But it is you, my own companion,

my intimate friend!

How close was the friendship between us.

We walked together in harmony

in the house of God. (Psalm 55)

Other useful citations are John 13:21 when Jesus declares that one of the twelve will betray him, when the prophet Jeremiah describes terror on every side in 20:10, and when Job declares in 19:19 that, All my intimate friends hold me in horror; those whom I loved have turned against me! Psalm 27 verse 12 cries out, False witnesses have stood up against me, and my enemies threaten violence; Lord do not surrender me into their power!

All of this reminds us that there will be deep and seemingly insurmountable schisms even in our most intimate relationships, often caused by those whom we have trusted and loved beyond measure. It is at these times of deepest burden that we have the opportunity to grow even closer to God, for when we offer our pain and suffering that flows from a terrible betrayal to intimacy or to a severe blow to our confidence, we realize that there is nowhere else to turn but to God. These readings today are a reminder that everyone must return home . . . for perhaps what has occurred God has brought about.

We do not suggest here that God causes suffering, yet we notice from sacred scripture that we find God most quickly in our pain. We have no way of telling, of course, if the damage done to us by others will lead to a conversion through the petition and granting of forgiveness. Nor do we know if a betrayal committed will lead to our salvation or the salvation of one who has wounded us deeply. But this is what we do know: that in all circumstances, both joy and sorrow, we must return home. We must take both our wailing and our singing to that place which understands and heals all pain. And so we pray at a time of year when we often gather for family reunions.

Where do we find the strength to go on when we are spent? . . . We return home.

Where do we find the courage to take up the task laid before us? . . . We return home.

Where do we find the heart to forgive one whose betrayal cuts more deeply and sharply than any other? . . . We return home.

Where do we find the love to ask forgiveness and to forgive? . . . We return home.

Where do find the life that lasts for time everlasting? . . . We return home.

On this holy summer Sabbath, let us turn our steps toward Jerusalem like those who wished to remain near Yahweh despite the civil and personal conflict, let us join one another in pilgrimage . . . and let us return home together. Amen.

Image from: https://www.biblematrix.com.au/jeroboams-table-of-demons/

Adapted from a reflection written on April 7, 2009. 

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