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Sunday, September 5, 2021

Tibetan Nomads

Tibetan Nomads

Jeremiah 35

Wayfarers

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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Sunday, November 15, 2020

scales-of-justice-istock_000005017451medium[1]Matthew 7:1

Stop Judging

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We have explored the story of David, Bathsheba and Nathan (2 Samuel 11 and 12) to find that Nathan uses a simple story of a poor man and his ewe lamb to bring King David to the reality of his actions.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We have examined the story to find that little is said of Bathsheba and Uriah; the focus of this tale is on David and Nathan.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

judging-others-blue_design[1]We have reflected on how Nathan calls forth David’s secret with a parable rather than an accusation.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We have watched how God works quietly in the lives of these two men who live so closely in a common goal.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We might also examine our own lives to see what dark secrets we harbor at great cost.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We might also reflect on the words and stories brought to us by trusted friends and colleagues.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We might also watch to see how God works wonderfully in our own lives.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

Wayne Dyer

Wayne Dyer

We might speak with friends and colleagues in parables that call forth truth.

Stop judging, that you may not be judged.

We might listen to friends and colleagues who speak in love with the words God gives to them, rather than judging.

“We often judge our insides which we know intimately, by other people’s outsides, because that is all we can see”.  Excerpt from The Mindful Way Through Anxiety by Susan M. Orsillo, Phd  and Lizabeth Roemer, PhD.  Click on the Wayne Dyer quote to read more, or . . .

Enter the word relationships into the blog search bar and reflect on the parables you might give and receive.


Image from: http://www.greeleylawyers.com/recovery/

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Friday, November 12, 2020

hyssop48-l[1]2 Samuel 11 and 12 and Psalm 51

Sin and Parable – Part VI

Cleanse me with hyssop and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

I always wonder about Bathsheba.  e might see her as one dimensional, a figure standing for beauty and grace, a woman-object, a child-bearer. Yet she endures in David’s court. And while she shares in David’s act, no mention is made of her grief or guilt, most likely because she is a female, chattel in these ancient times. We can imagine how much she may have suffered. She continues to appear in Kings and in Chronicles and is revered as Solomon’s mother, yet she is a quiet back-figure in this long-running story of sin and parable.

Let me hear joy and gladness, let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

It is appropriate that this story come to us as we near the end of the Liturgical year and prepare for Advent.  The beautiful psalm of repentance, Psalm 51, was written when Nathan came to David after having committed adultery.

Oh Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise. 

When we sing this song of repentance we are repeating the words of one who has lusted, one who has slept with another’s beloved, one who has arranged murder. This is fitting, for in some way we all transgress on those around us when we covet, take or tear down something or someone. And there are many small ways in which we end a life beyond the physical act of murder. We might destroy someone emotionally, professionally, psychologically or spiritually.  et, there is always mercy to be sought . . . and granted.

giant_hyssop_large[1]Then I will teach transgressors your ways and sinners will turn back to you.

There is much to be heard in this story. There is much to be lived, much to be sung. David takes something he wants. David destroys. Nathan speaks. Nathan restores.  Relationships cannot be put back as they had been, time cannot be reversed, and although Uriah cannot return, some quality, some relationship reappears. Bridges can be built. Pride can be put aside. Transgressions can be brought to light. Forgiveness can be sought and given. Restoration can happen.

Miracles can take place . . . souls can be saved.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. 

What do we do when Nathan stands before us? How do we react? When confronted by big sin, we need a big spirit. We need constant relationships which help us to develop rather than comfortable friends who discourage us from growth or who encourage us to wallow. We need a steadfast spirit, a renewed heart, an eager soul. We need God. And these we have all been given. We need only take them up and commit ourselves to them.

Create in me a pure heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Create in me an open willingness to listen. Renew in me a faithful heart that takes in the world. 

Amen.


To discover the medicinal uses of hyssop and how it was used in ancient times, click on the  botanical image above or go to: http://botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/h/hyssop48.html

Second image from: http://mydaybook.wikidot.com/giant-hyssop

Adapted from a reflection written on February 13, 2008.

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Sunday, March 1, 2020

Hosea 7: Searching for Happiness

Happiness[1]No matter how much time we spend with Hosea we will never find all that this prophet has to say to us about love.  Nor will we ever discover the depths of his grief or the soaring heights of his joy.  He is a man tormented by an unthinking spouse yet he never puts her aside.  And he continually calls her to return.

When we spend time with Hosea we see that he remains faithful to Gomer despite the fact that she is easily lured away by anything which attracts her attention, anything which gives her an immediate rush.  Gomer, a woman incapable of maintaining a covenant, is a symbol for Israel and she may be a symbol for any one of us who tires of maintaining a relationship with a loved one.  But we see something more today, something that a close reading of Chapter 7 will reveal: Gomer does not turn to God when she feels alone or abandoned or worthless, she turns away.  She searches her world of bangles, and music, and quick gratification.   She does not want to work at her relationships.  She does not want to see where or how she might make changes or improve in any way.  She does not see the value in thinking of the other more than self.

We see Gomer crying on her couch, gathering grain for new wine for a new festival, turning to any swift and facile self-indulgence.  We watch her turn away from God where sustaining, nourishing consolation may be found.  We close our eyes because we cannot bear to witness her wanton self-destruction when so close at hand there is a heart yearning to love her continually and endlessly.

Rather than seek a lasting, abiding union with her spouse, Gomer goes abroad to seek instant pleasure.  She does not want to think about who she is, why she was created, how she might improve, or how her existence fits into God’s plan.  She wants nothing more than a series of superficial, uncommitted relationships which will not call her to plumb her own depths, to know her own capacity for love, or to experience the soul-filling sensation of her true and eternal relationship with God.  She turns away from all that will save and restore her and in her search for happiness . . . she loses all.

Tomorrow . . . The Gomer Scale


A re-post from March 1, 2013.

Image from: http://www.mesothelioma.com/blog/authors/melanie/4-ways-to-find-happiness-inspiration-from-within.htm

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2 Corinthians 1Changing Plans

Sunday, September 2, 2018

If we want to live in relationship with others, we will find it necessary to change our plans; sometimes this is quite easy to do . . . at other times we suffer change at great cost.  Events occur not as we would wish them.  They often take on a life of their own.  In today’s reading we have the opportunity to examine a model for authentic accommodation in relationship with others.  When we make room for God in every connection we make with others, we have the guarantee of God’s simplicity, sincerity, and grace.  We can be confident that no matter the change required of us, we will flourish and thrive.

When we read Paul’s two letters to the church in Corinth, we see the importance of flexibility and constancy in all relationships.  While it is important to remain authentic and faithful, it is also essential to allow for some give and take as circumstances require.  As we read through these epistles, it is clear that there are some disagreements and differences of opinion that have the potential to create permanent rifts.  Important connections have been established and nurtured; breaches must be bridged.  Cleverly, or perhaps by God’s grace, Paul begins with himself.   “Since Paul’s own conduct will be under discussion here, he prefaces this section with a statement about his habitual behavior and attitude toward the community.  He protests his openness, single-mindedness, and conformity to God’s grace; he hopes that his relationship with them will be marked by mutual understanding and pride, which will constantly increase until it reaches its climax at the judgment”.  (Senior 277)  As we read the opening chapter of 2 Corinthians we understand that a change of plans has caused anxiety and upset.  Paul addresses the problem by beginning with himself . . . and by falling back on God.

Simplicity, sincerity, and the grace of God: These qualities are given to us by God the Father; these traits are modeled for us by Jesus; these virtues are renewed in us by the Spirit.

When we must change plans we must keep things simple.  Adding more jumble to an already stressed schedule does us and those we work and live with nothing but harm.

When we must change plans we must be honest.  It is important to take the time to examine motives and look for hidden agendas.  Any plan that is not genuine is not needed. Any plan that comes from deceit brings ruin.

When we must change plans we must do so with good will, considering the common benefit.  When a community must alter plans to please only one or two of its members, morale plummets and cooperation disappears.

Simplicity, sincerity, and the grace of God.  Paul outlines for us the opening step in bridging a rift between colleagues, friends or loved ones.  We begin with ourselves.  And we look for God’s plainness.  We look for God’s straightforwardness.  We look for God’s beauty.  We look for God’s blessing in all we say and do.

A re-post from August 2, 2011.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 277. Print.

Images from: http://www.masters-table.org/forinfo/Gods_beautyinthesky.htm 

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Psalm 139: God’s Thoughts

Monday, February 26, 2018

In this season of Lent, how willing are we to invite God into our most intimate thoughts? This beautiful song of invitation is a starting point when we struggle to open dialogs with the Lord.

God, investigate my life;
    get all the facts firsthand.
I’m an open book to you;
    even from a distance, you know what I’m thinking.
You know when I leave and when I get back;
    I’m never out of your sight.
You know everything I’m going to say
    before I start the first sentence.
I look behind me and you’re there,
    then up ahead and you’re there, too—
    your reassuring presence, coming and going.
This is too much, too wonderful—
    I can’t take it all in!

God is everywhere and in everything.

I look behind me and you’re there,
    then up ahead and you’re there, too—

If I climb to the sky, you’re there!

If I go underground, you’re there!

God is in every moment and in every time.

It’s a fact: darkness isn’t dark to you;
    night and day, darkness and light, they’re all the same to you;

This lovely song of bidding is an authentic call to God when we search for words that express our meaning.

 Your thoughts—how rare, how beautiful!
    God, I’ll never comprehend them!

This divine hymn of opening is an honest cry to the Spirit when we hope to explore our relationship with the world.

Investigate my life, O God,
    find out everything about me;
Cross-examine and test me,
    get a clear picture of what I’m about;
See for yourself whether I’ve done anything wrong—
    then guide me on the road to eternal life.

When we fear that we do not measure up to the beauty and perfection of God, we might turn to this psalm to bridge any feeling of self-consciousness. When we offer our anxiety to the Lord, we begin to better understand God’s thoughts . . . despite their challenge, and despite our fears.

When we compare translations of this psalm, we find an opening to an honest dialog with the Almighty. Today’s verses are from THE MESSAGE.  

Images from http://www.wakingtoglory.com/the-most-important-point-of-the-mountaintop-experience/ and https://nourishthedream.com/2010/02/02/hidden-in-darkness/ 

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Matthew 5:38-48: About Revenge – Part II

Monday, February 20, 2017love_your_enemies_by_kevron2001-d9h02h0

Today we continue to explore Jesus’ words from his Sermon on the Mount as we struggle to love our enemies.

Jesus asks us to live in a new way that we revolutionize our relationships. But are we up to this challenge?

You’re familiar with the old written law, “Love your friend,” and its unwritten companion, “Hate your enemy”. I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.

Here is another impossible perspective, we tell ourselves. No one would risk so much as to be nice to their enemies. What in the world is Jesus asking? There is no way, we say quietly to friends. I will never see how this can make sense. This is impossible we repeat.  And then . . .

God says: I know the enormity of the challenge I present to you; and I know your depths, your strengths, and the heights to which you might soar. I created you and know you better that you know yourself. The energies of prayer I ask you send to me are precisely that. When you ask me to intercede for someone who has done you harm, those prayers fly to me more quickly than any other petition. I love to see you emulate me in forgiving one another, in allowing one another to grow, in refusing gossip and in nurturing newness. Instead of seeing this as an impossible task, do as Jesus suggests and when you meet those who are hostile, work on yourself. Change your reactions. Take on a new perspective and let your enemies bring out the best in you – not the worst. You will be amazed at the fresh air this new attitude invites. And you will be amazed at the new direction your life will take.

Jesus challenges us to be more that the run-of-the-mill sinner as he reminds us that anyone can love their friends. The true challenge is in loving those who harm us. Do we believe in Jesus enough to take on this challenge?

 

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James 2:12-13: Law of Freedom

Saturday, February 18, 201750623-freedom

Speak and act as people who will be judged by the law that sets us free. For God will not show mercy when he judges the person who has not been merciful; but mercy triumphs over judgment. (GNT)

Today’s Noontime reflection asks us to explore our own actions to determine how – or if – our words and actions nurture freedom or project fear.

Keep speaking and acting like people who will be judged by a Torah which gives freedom. For judgment will be without mercy toward one who doesn’t show mercy; but mercy wins out over judgment. (CJB)

How well – or how poorly – do we share power with others?

How easily – or how nervously – do we welcome collegiality?

So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment will be without mercy to anyone who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment. (NRSV)

How happily – or how begrudgingly – do we open ourselves to new ideas or new relationships?

How trustingly – or how obsessively – do we construct bridges with our enemies?

For if you refuse to act kindly, you can hardly expect to be treated kindly. Kind mercy wins over harsh judgment every time. (MSG)

What does freedom look like in our daily interactions?

How authentically – or how deceptively – do we nurture freedom in others and in ourselves?

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