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Posts Tagged ‘rely on God’


Isaiah 22Euphoria

Louvre Museum: Sennacherib relief

Louvre Museum: Sennacherib relief

Sunday, August 21, 2022

A Favorite from July 4, 2009.

For the third day in a row we find ourselves in Isaiah’s prophecy and today we conclude the oracles against the pagan nations. Interestingly, Isaiah includes Jerusalem in this litany.

Commentary tells us that here Isaiah warns against false hope – against relying on self rather than God.  Around the year 700 B.C.E. Sennacherib and the Assyrian invasion forces have been turned back from the city. The people have mounted various defenses against the enemy and now they react with euphoria to the good turn of events. Yet rather than rejoice in God’s loving providence that rescues and heals them for eternity, they celebrate their own skill which will not, in the end, save them from their own corruption and decadence. They believe that their own planning, proficiency and leadership have saved them this day. The leader Shebna is revealed for who he is: one who thinks of his own legacy and comfort at the expense of those he leads. Eliakim is named as a loyal servant of God, a peg in a sure spot upon whom the glory of his family hangs.  Yet even this peg fixed in a sure spot shall give way, break off and fall, and the weight that hung on it shall be done away with; for the Lord has spoken.

wooden peg

Even the sure peg in the sure spot will give way, break off and fall . . .

When we survive disaster and come out the other side of a calamity intact and even renewed, we are to be joy-filled, we are to celebrate. But today the prophet Isaiah cautions us to place our joy properly in God who saves rather than in ourselves. We must never forget who it is who forms order out of chaos. We must always be mindful that everything God creates is good, that God will convert harm to transformation, and that he rescues us because he loves us . . . not because he expects something from us.

We are creatures already set free, already liberated from the shackles we imagine. When we find ourselves in bad times or with bad people, we seek intercession from God. When we find ourselves in happy circumstances with wonderful people, we thank God who loves us beyond measure. We return even our euphoria to the one who transforms.


Images from: https://bible.fandom.com/wiki/Sennacherib and http://archive.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/02/01/wrecked_schooner_drifts_ashore_and_into_mystery/

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jeremiah oracleSunday, September 26, 2021

Jeremiah 46-51

An Intimate Neighbor

God is the most intimate neighbor of the soul; no other power can creep so close to the heart and tangle itself so cunningly with the roots of our desire . . . Man, in other words, was made for love, the diviner part of him for divine love.  By sin is all this love dried up.  The parched and thirsty soul feels, therefore, the need of the dew of God, and rushes madly as the beasts that wander in the jungle looking for the water they cannot find . . . When I am feeling particularly the loneliness of life, perhaps the cause is that I lean too little upon God; perhaps it is that my sins will not let me feel that inward presence that is the sole real source of peace here below.  I was created for Love by love, and when by sin I act contrary to Love, my heart must necessarily feel his absence. 

This is a portion of the MAGNIFICAT Meditation for September 2 written by Father Bede Jarrett, a Dominican priest from England known for his lectures and writings on theology and spirituality.  Jarrett’s words ask us to look more deeply at Jeremiah 46 through 51, these oracles that pronounce doom against many peoples who had turned from God to become self-worshipers.  It is a litany of many ancient nations and yet today we might substitute individual names, the names of neighborhoods, sects, or communities of any kind.  We might even insert our own name into this list on days when we have gone too far into the world of darkness that so quietly, softly and persistently calls. Blessedly, we also have an intimate friend, an intimate neighbor who calls more persistently than darkness; yet we so often forgot this force for compassion and justice in the hubbub of the day and the weariness of the night.

When we feel parched and thirsty, let us depend on the dew of God’s word and learn to lean on God a little more rather than a little less. In this time of the solar year when days and nights are nearly equal in length, let us balance our lives and review this litany of those who have condemned themselves by their own actions. As we move from one season to another, let us turn to God who is our most intimate neighbor of the soul, and let us remind ourselves and one another that . . . perhaps we lean too little upon God.


Adapted from a reflection written on September 7, 2010.

Cameron, Peter John, ed. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 7.9 (2010). Print.  

Image from: http://breakopenword.blogspot.com/2013/01/the-fourth-sunday-after-epiphany-3.html 

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Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Deuteronomy 1: God’s Guidance

guide[1]In this last book of the Torah, we find a reiteration of the covenant relationship between God and his creatures as mediated by the man Moses.  His aim, as we read in commentary, is to enforce with the Israelites “the Lord’s claim to their obedience, loyalty and love”.  (Senior 187)  What we see here is God establishing a firm relationship with his people; much as a parent devotes care to strong enforcement of family values with a toddler . . . knowing that the teenage and young adult years – and even the years that carry us into maturity – will be difficult ones.  God wants to leave nothing to chance where his creatures are concerned.

In verse 10 we see reference to the fact that these tribes are so multiplied they are as numerous as the stars in the sky.  And we remember the promise made to Abraham that even in their advanced years he and Sarah would be the vehicles through which God would create a people dear to him.  This is followed with a plan laid out by God for gaining the territory promised to Abraham and his family.  Scouts are chosen to reconnoiter the land.   This is when they discover that the people are stronger and taller and they have become fainthearted.  They begin to lose courage.  Moses reminds them of the countless times God saved them from death in the hostile desert . . . and we begin to see the purpose of all their wanderings and suffering.

Of course, these people disobey – as do we – and in this Old Testament story we hear how God punishes them for their lack of faith.  Moses reminds them that they have disobeyed and struck out on their own.  As observed above, God disciplines the child nation, calling them to himself with reminders that he has been faithful to them despite their rebellion.

There is no doubt that we are sustained by God’s love and intervention as we muddle through our days.  God continues to provide resting places, to shepherd us with a pillar of smoke, to guard us with a column of fire.  It is easy to become lost, distracted, anxious or discouraged and so as we put our heads to pillows this evening we might reflect on the story we have read today and look at our lives through the filter on this exodus story of God’s people.  And we might ask ourselves how we react when we lose courage . . . how we see our wanderings through the hostile desert.

What is our relationship with God like?  Do we rely on God at all times or only when we need help?

How do we celebrate God’s goodness?  Do we rejoice with others and share the good news that we are well-loved?

What is our belief system?  Are we ready . . . and are we willing to give over to God our obedience, our loyalty and our love?


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.187. Print.

Tomorrow, more on Deuteronomy.

Image from: http://restministries.com/2011/09/22/devotion-counting-on-gods-guidance-each-day/

First written on July 24, 2009. Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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Acts 18:9-10: Do Not Be Silent

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

The Risen Christ

Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent.  For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you; because I have many people in this city.  This is thinking we have visited often in our Noontimes.  The Risen Christ constantly reminds us that there is nothing to fear – even when we wander into enemy territory.

We are afraid to risk loss – loss of a friendship, loss of status, loss of youth, loss of vigor, loss of value in any way.

We are afraid to speak up and to speak out.  We shrink from what my Dad used to call Stand up time.  We do not want to be shunned.  We want to be part of the whole.  We want someone else to voice what we are thinking and fearing, believing that if we do not say the words we can disown the fear.

We do not like uncomfortable silence.  We avoid pregnant pauses and knowing looks.  We know that the dictator’s greatest weapon is fear engendered in others and yet we succumb to the tyrant’s whippings by hiding our words and thoughts.  We unknowingly – or knowingly – hope to keep ourselves safe by using passive aggression but this always backfires on us and leaves us less than whole.

We want to either solve our own problems or totally give our worries away to let them bother someone else.  Solutions stand before us but we humans seem bent on avoiding the Spirit’s help at all costs.  And it need not be so.

Jesus tells us to shake away the dust of those who reject us; he tells us to move on in our mission and leave to him the task of converting hardened hearts. (Matthew 10:14, Mark 6:11, Luke 9:5)

Matthew’s Gospel (10:18-20) records Jesus’ words to his disciples: On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles.  But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it.  At that time you will be given what to say for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.

Luke’s account is similar (12:11): When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say. 

Jesus himself relies on the Father for both words and nuance (John 12:49-50): For I did not speak of my own accord, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it.  I know that his command leads to eternal life.  So whatever I say is just what the Father has told me to say.

It is clear that we are never alone and yet we childishly refuse the help offered by our creator, our redeemer and the gentle abider.  We cling to wrong thinking because we do not want to make waves or cause turmoil . . . yet how much turmoil does wrong-headed thinking cause?  All we need do is steady ourselves and rely on the creator of all things.

It is obvious that we are in constant company of the Spirit . . . yet we do not use the words we are given because we fear we are not up to the challenge.  How much more difficult is the struggle when we fail to act as we are asked?  All we need do is to quiet ourselves and listen.

It is evident that we are not alone . . . and yet we refuse to recognize the company of our brother and constant companion in life.  How much anxiety is caused by our refusal to see who stands before us?  All we need do is settle ourselves . . . and speak.

We are not alone.  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: all three remain even though we reject their advice and deny their presence.


A re-post from May 21, 2012.

For an interesting story about the image above, click on the photo or go to:http://www.oocities.org/saibaba_risenchrist/eng.htm

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Jeremiah 5 and 6: Calamity

Friday, May 10, 2019

Written on August 27, 2012 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

In this portion of Jeremiah’s’ prophecy we can see and hear that the prophet’s audience thinks themselves well barricaded against calamity.  And from where we stand several thousand years later . . . we know that they ought to have listened to these words.

Lustful stallions are they, each neighs after another’s wife.

They ought to have taken in the meaning of these verses.

They denied the Lord, saying, “Not he – no evil shall befall us, neither sword nor famine shall we see”.

They ought to have sensed that the emergency was real.

A shocking, horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests teach as they wish; yet my people will have it so; what will you do when the end comes?

Do we listen any better?  Do we sense the meaning of our genuine prophets today?  Can we see ourselves as we read the words of this prophecy?

See, I will place before these people obstacles to bring them down . . . A tester among my people I have appointed . . . to search and test their way.

When calamity arrives, as it always does in our lives, how do we respond when we are searched and tested by God?  Do we turn to God and intercede for our enemies?  Do we wrangle with our Maker and ask for the answers to our most urgent questions?  Do we seek wisdom, live in patience and active waiting?  Do we maintain fidelity?  Do we beat down the gates of heaven with petitions of outrageous hope?  Do we love our attackers into kindness?  Do we praise God for miracles wrought?  Do we call others to his sacred places?

This evening, as we close our eyes and our day, we might ask God for the strength, the stamina, the courage to see ourselves as we are, and to turn to God as we are . . . asking to be made anew.


A re-post from April 25, 2012.

Image from: http://www.friendsdisasterservice.org/ 

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1 Samuel 24Escape

Monday, November 19, 2018

Rembrandt: Saul and David

Several weeks ago, we reflected on celebrating escape from something or someone who would have brought us great ruin or harm.  Yesterday’s Gospel gave us the opportunity to examine how Jesus is able to escape the traps laid for him by those who hated him.  Today we take a look at a small portion of the story of David, the young man who is designated as King of Israel by Samuel but who waits his turn as leader of God’s chosen people by resisting the temptation to fight against Saul.  David does not deny that he has been chosen King, nor does he murder Saul in order to take what is his; rather, he abides in God’s will and God’s time . . . and he takes the routes of escape that God offers while he actively waits on the fulfillment of God’s plan.

Today we read the story of how God saved his imperfect yet faithful servant and we are no less than David.

Today we read the story of how David relied on his God’s constancy . . . and he did not allow fear to turn him toward revenge or cowardice.

In yesterday’s Gospel (Matthew 22:15-21) we read the story of how Jesus confronted prejudice and hatred and we do well to follow his example.

In yesterday’s Gospel we were given a road map for how to escape manipulation and scheming.  We must rely on God always, remain faithful to the covenant God shares with us, and always act in love and for love of God.  In this way we will always know escape from anything danger or evil that hopes to overtake us.

And so we pray . . .

When the call to do God’s work pulls us into alien and dangerous territory, we must rely on God’s wisdom and not our own.

When the hand of God heals us and then sends us out to do God’s work, we must rely on God’s fidelity and nurture our own.

When the voice of God urges us to work in fields are that unfamiliar to us and that sap our energy, we must rely on God’s strength and conserve our own.

When the heart of God sends us to work with those who would do us harm, we must rely on God’s love and hope for redemption.   Amen.


A re-post from October 17, 2011. 

Images from: http://www.aaroneberline.com/blog/tag/david/ and http://www.artbible.info/art/large/378.html

 

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Ezekiel 45:13-17Offerings

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Written on February 19 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

We have spent time with Ezekiel 45 before but today we focus on the offerings portion – what it is we offer back to God.  I am thinking about how much more meaning our lives might have if we were to each day give something back to God that we have produced.  What would it be?  In our ultra modern, techno-savvy, global, sophisticated way of living . . . what do we actually make with our hands, hearts and minds?  We have come so far from the primitive beings who first inhabited Africa and the Tigris-Euphrates areas of the prehistoric world that . . . I am wondering if we have not tricked ourselves into thinking that we do not need to trust God.

When early tribes were hunters and gatherers, it was clear who and what provided for them.  As they followed herds and crops they dealt with drought, deluge, scarcity and plenty.  They had to learn how to conserve and share.  They had to learn both the basics and complexities of survival, and then they passed these lessons on to their offspring.  I am wondering if we have not fooled ourselves into thinking that we have mastered nature . . . and so do not need to rely on God.

Our Western life is worlds away from the poor of the second and third worlds.  We may forget that only a small portion of the those of us living on the globe today have running water, enough food for our children, decent clothing and housing, and basic medical care.  Now that humanity has made so many advances in the fields of medicine, nutrition, and technology, I am wondering if some of us have made these our gods and have kept ourselves safe while not thinking about others . . . and I am wondering if we have not deluded ourselves into thinking that we do not need to love God as God exists in each and all of us.

I am wondering if we could each evening bring forth the products of our day in order to place them on the kitchen table as we sit to eat our evening meal if we would recognize what it is we have made.  And I am wondering what it is we would offer back to God . . . in gratitude for his care for us that day.  I am wondering if these offerings would come from our best.  I am wondering if these gifts would be found gracious in the eyes of God.

I am wondering . . .


A re-post from September 7, 2011.

Image from: http://jameswoodward.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/harvest/ 

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Proverbs 27: Knowing Tomorrow

Monday, August 21, 2017

We so easily convince ourselves that we are in control, that our well-laid plans will come to fruition, that all those who work hard and behave well will avoid suffering and pain. Proverbs remind us that we will want to think this through again.

Don’t brashly announce what you’re going to do tomorrow;
you don’t know the first thing about tomorrow. (MSG)

We have ourselves convinced that we can bull our way through any problem and over any obstacle if we just shove our way to the front and outlast everyone else.

The weight of stone and sand is nothing compared to the trouble that stupidity can cause. (GNT)

We look for solutions to our problems by changing homes, changing friends, changing work, changing spouses when in reality all that brings us anxiety and worry ride along with us until we change our hearts.

Like a bird that strays from its nest
is a man who strays from his home. (CJB)

We believe that if we have just a little more wealth, a little more power, a little more fame then we can make right all that is wrong when all we need is already dwelling within.

The purity of silver and gold is tested
by putting them in the fire;
The purity of human hearts is tested
by giving them a little fame. (MSG)

So what are we to do when we realize that the gifts we have to earn a way in the world are given to us by the Creator, when we see that God’s providence holds us fast in good times as in bad? Proverbs can give us ideas.

Know your sheep by name;
    carefully attend to your flocks;
(Don’t take them for granted;
    possessions don’t last forever, you know.)
And then, when the crops are in
    and the harvest is stored in the barns,
You can knit sweaters from lambs’ wool,
    and sell your goats for a profit;
There will be plenty of milk and meat
    to last your family through the winter. (MSG)

Once we remember that our lives are spinning thoughts of the Creator that yearn to come together in the Spirit, then we begin to understand that knowing tomorrow is purely God’s domain. It is for us to lace our trust in this eternal, constant, loving presence.

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we have less apprehension about the knowledge that we cannot know what tomorrow brings.

 

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Romans 12: 9-16: Loving Others – Part IV

Friday, November 25, 2016

Friendship

Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. (MSG)

Paul describes the mark of a true Christian.

Don’t burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality. (MSG)

Paul tells us that we must rely on God alone. We must be open and welcoming. We must keep the faith and pray.

Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. (MSG)

Paul asks us to give ourselves over to kingdom thinking. Paul asks us to give ourselves over to inversion. Paul ask us to live on the margins rather than the center.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore these words as translated differently from THE MESSAGE, we find a pathway to courage and a source of deep love.

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