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Posts Tagged ‘renewal’


Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part VII

Holy Saturday, April 15, 2017

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

From Richard Rohr’s A SPRING WITHIN US, we find a challenge that we might explore on this day when we await a loving God who has descended into hell for each of us.

“The Path of Descent could be called the metanarrative of the Bible. It is so obvious and so consistent and so constant that it’s hidden in plain sight . . . God isn’t really the great theme of the Bible. God isn’t really taught in the Bible; God is assumed. There’s never any question that there is a Transcendent Other. The problem is whether this God is good and trustworthy and how to remain in contact with this subtle Transcendence. The path agreed upon by all the monks, hermits, mystics, and serious seekers was a path of descent and an almost-complete rejection of the ego’s desire for achievement, performance, success, power, status, war, and money. The emptiness, waiting, needing, and expecting of the path of descent created a space within where God could show Godself as good, as loving, and faithful”. (Rohr’s italics. Rohr 112-113)

Rohr reminds us that God uses unlikely figures to lead. This new kind of power has no power. Rohr reminds us that we must stumble and fall before we stand and succeed. Loss and mourning teach us humility and grace. Rohr explains that the ego does not like to bear crosses or to suffer; yet these burdens bring us to a new place of self-discovery and sharing. Flawed and wounded women and men teach us more than the famous or wealthy. Rohr reminds us that the Messiah came to us as a defenseless child, dependent on others, a member of a marginalized and oppressed people.

Rohr urges us to discover how we might stumble so that we might grow, how we might lose and still remain faithful despite our doubts and fears. He urges us to discover, and to follow, the path of descent. He asks us to remain in this Messiah who descends into hell so that we might live. He asks us to allow ourselves to be de-created in Christ so that we might then be renewed in Christ.

On this Holy Saturday, let us be Remnant for God. 

Richard Rohr, OFM. The Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016. 

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Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part V

Holy Thursday, April 13, 2017

Leonardo da Vinci: Last Supper

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . . Today we commemorate the last meal Jesus shared with his followers, the Last Supper that signals the initiation of the Eucharist, the gift of God’s presence among us. Today we spend time with the Gospels as we move closer to the fulfillment of the Easter promise that we are created in and for love.

Matthew 26:17-30 describes this last meal to his Jewish audience. The story told by Mark 14:12-26 is concise yet evocative. Luke 22:1-39 records the last conversations Jesus shares with his followers; we may find these inspiring as we prepare for the Easter Triduum. These accounts conclude with an accounting that Jesus and his disciples sang a hymn and went out to the Mount of Olives. Finally, with beautiful, soaring language, John 13-17 prepares us for the events that loom in the next few days. We spend our time wisely if we spend time with one, several, or even all of the accountings.

As we consider the gift and promise of de-creation, we have the opportunity to share the gift of God’s presence each day, and we consider . . . Do we celebrate our creation with joy? Do we willingly open our hearts to welcome God’s holy in-dwelling? Do we share the good news that we are free to choose a life in and with Christ? Do we bring the lamp of Christ’s promise of redemptive love into the darkest corners of our world?

This evening we see the arrest  of the Teacher. Tomorrow, his crucifixion. And on the third day . . . the lamps we carry into a darkened Jerusalem come together with the strength of the sun. On this Holy Thursday, let us spend time with the recounting of Jesus’ last supper with us as he opens the promise before our eyes. Let us determine to remain patient and watchful.

And let us resolve to be Remnant for God.

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Zephaniah 1: De-Creation – Part IV

Holy Wednesday, April 12, 2017

James Tissot: The Chaldees Destroy the Brazen Sea

At that time I will explore Jerusalem with lamps . . .

So often we see Christ as the light of the world, forcing shadows back into corners, bringing corruption into the open, asking for transparency and clarity. The prophet Zephaniah shows us a world the has fallen in on itself, a holy city that has crumbled, a holy people that has scattered, a holy message that is lost in the winds of change.

We can see the de-creation that is taking place and we know how to identify the end of a people; but do we know how to identify the new beginning that God offers each of us each day? Does our pride inhibit us from accepting God’s gift of grace? Is our need to control an obstacle for growth? Does guilt or shame prohibit our stepping into the light Christ offers to the world? Does fear paralyze us? Do we retreat inwardly, using absolute logic and reason in a futile attempt to explore the mystery that is Christ? Do we see and accept the gifts of faith, hope and love that God proffers? Does a need for perfection force us back into darkness? Does a yearning for status and wealth overstep God’s call to love?

We fear the turmoil and chaos that looms when we see that we need to take ourselves apart before we can allow God to put ourselves back together in a new and refreshing way. Zephaniah shows us a city and a people in the shadows, waiting for the right moment to respond to God’s call to the light. As we wait in Easter hope and maintain hope in God’s promise, as we persist in moving forward in love, as we remain faithful to God who loves us much, we move toward the light that shatters the darkness. We move toward the lamp of God’s love and call.

On this Holy Wednesday, let us be Remnant for God.

 

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Acts 18:9: Do Not Fear – Part VII

Sunday, New Year’s Day, January 1, 2017

Gerard de Laresse: Adoration of the Kings

Gerard de Laresse: Adoration of the Kings

We enter a new year, a time of replenishment and restoration. We look for a new message of transformed hope. A new sign of renovating freedom. We await a new pronouncement of the words we need to hear: Do not be afraid.

And the Lord said to Paul in the night by a vision, “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; (NASB)

Saul, the persecutor of early Christ-followers, encounters the risen Christ and learned that his fears have no meaning in this kingdom of Jesus. He now believes the words: Do not be afraid.

One night Paul had a vision in which the Lord said to him, “Do not be afraid, but keep on speaking and do not give up. (GNT)

Saul the persecutor, blind for a time, trusts God’s plan as he shares the Good News that Christ’s new coming brings new hope and new meaning.

One night the Master spoke to Paul in a dream: “Keep it up, and don’t let anyone intimidate or silence you. No matter what happens, I’m with you and no one is going to be able to hurt you. You have no idea how many people I have on my side in this city.” That was all he needed to stick it out. He stayed another year and a half, faithfully teaching the Word of God to the Corinthians. (MSG)

Saul the persecutor becomes Paul the Apostle, sharing the Good News that hope is alive, rebirth and transformation are possible, and fear is only for those who refuse to believe.

Centuries after Paul shares his news with anyone who will listen, he tells each of us that there is no reason for fear or division.

Today, as we reflect on the journey the magi make to worship the new king, we might ask ourselves, “What journey we are willing to make? And what are we willing to put aside in this new year as a sign that we refuse to surrender to fear?”

Throughout Christmastide, we continue to reflect on the transformative power of God’s words to us, “Do not be afraid”.

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Malachi 4:5-6: Behold the New Day

Friday, December 23, 2016

Duccio di Buoninsegna: The Prophet Malachi

Duccio di Buoninsegna: The Prophet Malachi

In this final week of Advent, let us decide to make our hopes tangible, our dreams a prayer for our reality, our faith unwavering and our love secure. Let us cleave to the Creator, follow the Redeemer and rest in the Spirit. This week let us give one another the gift of preparing for the very real promise of eternity.

The prophet Malachi communicates God’s words to us.

Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the Lord. He will restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse. (NASB)

Elijah was able to perform miracles just as Jesus did in his own day and even in this present time. Malachi advises that we might want to look forward in hope rather than backward in fear.

But also look ahead: I’m sending Elijah the prophet to clear the way for the Big Day of God—the decisive Judgment Day! He will convince parents to look after their children and children to look up to their parents. If they refuse, I’ll come and put the land under a curse. (MSG)

That day is great for some and dreadful for others. As followers of Christ we are convinced that God’s “greatness” is with us in every moment and in every place.  We are also convinced that Jesus searches for every last sheep, for every hard heart, for every broken soul.

A stained-glass window featuring the prophet Elijah, Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucestershire, England

A stained-glass window featuring the prophet Elijah, Gloucester Cathedral, Gloucestershire, England

Behold I will send you Elias the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers: lest I come, and strike the earth with anathema. (DRA)

And as followers of Christ, we are also convinced that the Spirit works to remove all anathema, to heal all destruction and to bring about complete transformation for all.

But before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes, I will send you the prophet Elijah. He will bring fathers and children together again; otherwise I would have to come and destroy your country. (GNT)

Malachi calls out to us across the millennia: Behold, Emmanuel is among you. Awake. Rise up. And Malachi asks that we give witness to the enormity of the gift we find in our hands, the gift of God’s infinite peace, Christ’s overflowing compassion, and the Spirit’s miraculous renewal.

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we behold the enormity of God’s gift that we receive without asking.

N.B. Some versions of Malachi number this citation as 3:23-24.

For more about Malachi, the last of the minor prophets, or Elijah, the prophet who life is decribed in the Books of Kings, click on their names and/or images above.

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Genesis 8:13: Behold the Renewal

morgan_bible_1250

Noah Scenes (1250) illumination from the Morgan Library Biblical Picture Book Courtesy Pierpont Morgan Library, New York

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

In this final week of Advent, let us decide to make our hopes tangible, our dreams a prayer for our reality, our faith unwavering and our love secure. Let us cleave to the Creator, follow the Redeemer and rest in the Spirit. This week let us give one another the gift of preparing for the very real promise of eternity.

The Creator is always tending to our lives in small and great ways.

The dove came to him toward evening, and behold, in her beak was a freshly picked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the water was abated from the earth. (NASB)

The Spirit is constantly abiding with us to heal and renew.

When Noah was 601 years old, on the first day of the first month, the water was gone. Noah removed the covering of the boat, looked around, and saw that the ground was getting dry. (GNT)

The hope of Christ lives in us from the beginning of time.

By the first day of the first month of the 601st year the water had dried up from off the earth; so Noach removed the covering of the ark and looked; and, yes, the surface of the ground was dry. (CJB)

God reassures us that we are never abandoned or alone.

In the six-hundred-first year of Noah’s life, on the first day of the first month, the flood had dried up. Noah opened the hatch of the ship and saw dry ground. By the twenty-seventh day of the second month, the Earth was completely dry. (MSG)

Behold, God brings life and rebirth to each of us, forever.

When we reflect on varying translations of the Noah story, we find assurance that we are never alone.

For more information on the Morgan Bible, click on the image above or visit: http://richardmcbee.com/writings/jewish-art-before-1945/item/noah-the-dove-and-the-raven

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Revelation 21:1-5: God’s Home

Sixth Sunday of Easter, May 1, 2016

John of Patmos, the writer of the Book of revelation, watches the descent of the New Jerusalem: 14th Centry tapestry: La nouvelle Jérusalem

John of Patmos, the writer of the Book of revelation, watches the descent of New Jerusalem                         14th Century tapestry: La nouvelle Jérusalem

I saw Heaven and earth new-created . . .

These familiar verses might be overlooked. We have heard all of this before, we tell ourselves, and so we move on too quickly.

I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband.

These familiar words continue to sound strange. We have read all of this before, we say to ourselves, and the words still do not make sense. Again we move on without thinking.

Look! Look! God has moved into the neighborhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. 

This familiar metaphor still eludes our understanding. We have seen this passage before, we say to others, and it still makes no sense. Yet again we move on without pausing.

Yes, we say, we know. God wipes tears from every eye . . . yet we do not see this in our world.

Yes, we acknowledge, God will bring about a new order and a new way . . . and this will be in a distant, foggy future that we cannot imagine.

Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate.

god-is-in-our-midstStill . . . a small voice at the periphery of our awareness speaks to us: What if this were so?

Now God’s home is with God’s people . . .

Yes, we say to ourselves. There is a possibility that all of this is true, today, here, now.

Now God’s home is with God’s people . . .

Yes, we say to others. This Jesus who was betrayed by a companion with a false kiss, this Jesus is still among us.

Now God’s home is with God’s people . . .

jesus-walkingYes, we say to anyone who will listen. God’s home is with God’s people.

Let us act as if we believe. For we are Easter people.

When we use the scripture link and the drop down menus to explore varying translations of these verses, we become more aware of how Jesus continues to make his home among us. We are better able to see that Jesus continues to show us The Way.

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John 1:1-5: The Word


John 1:1-5The Word

Wednesday, April 27, 2016Jesus-and-the-Bible

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

I am always inspired by this beautiful anthem . . . and no wonder.  It says all there is to say.

He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

God created us to be with him. God loves us deeply, dearly, passionately, intimately. God speaks to us . . . but we sometimes have difficulty understanding the words .

In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 

And so God sent The Word, His Word, The Only Word . . . to move, and live, and suffer and rejoice among us. And when this Living Word left us, God’s Spirit returned to dwell with us forever . . . to help us to understand the words that God speaks to us constantly.

The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

We are driven into the desert to meet the tempter.  And the Word is there. We confront ourselves each day.  And the Word is also there. We are free to choose to listen for and comprehend the Word given to us through Jesus, spoken to us by the Spirit. We are free to join our God and together make all things new, to experience God’s saving and loving Word.

Adapted from a Favorite written on April 1, 2008. 

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Ezekiel 48:35: The Lord is Here – Part III

Saturday, April 9, 2016Empty-Tomb

We have celebrated Easter Week, an eight-day celebration of the resurrection of the crucified Christ, and as we move forward through Eastertide, we continue to explore the doubt we might have about the resurrection miracle. We continue to ask the familiar question in the face of violence and tragedy: Where is God?  And Ezekiel, the prophet who lives in exile from the physical place in which he believes God resides, gives us a simple answer to this simple question: God resides everywhere. As Easter people who celebrate the miracle of Easter renewal, we see God best in the new temple of the Christ’s body.  We see God best when we all strive toward creating the New Jerusalem here among us, a place where differences are anticipated and respected, a place where every voice is heard, a place where reparations are made and accepted, a place of healing and restoration.  A place of ultimate and intense truth.  A place of purity and of fire and of healing.

The prophet Ezekiel tells us that God is a paradox.  He tells us that the Temple and God’s presence must be central to our lives.  He tells us that God is awesome – “reaching far beyond human relationships and human explanations”.  (Senior RG 339) He tells us that as individuals we are responsible for our own adherence to the Law and that no matter our ancestry or our misfortunes, we cannot scapegoat our circumstances.  “Each person lives or dies according to his or her wicked or virtuous way of life”.  (Senior RG 340) Ezekiel transforms the art of prophecy, bringing it to a new level and setting the stage for the entrance of the Messiah and the New Testament.  He also lays the foundation for the Second Coming – when the Lord returns and sends his angels among the living to separate the sheep from the goats.

Mikhail Nesterov: The Empty Tomb

Mikhail Nesterov: The Empty Tomb

All of this is too terrible, too wonderful, too much to believe – and yet there is nothing else to believe.  All other thought pales and hence the paradox.  What we first see and hear we want to believe but do not, thinking that this New Jerusalem is impossible.  Yet through living, suffering, hoping, believing and loving we arrive at no other spot. We have no choice but to believe that indeed, the Lord is Here. 

When we spend time with this prophecy today, we have the opportunity to feel the presence of God as we remember and reflect . . . we are Easter People . . . visited by the risen Christ . . . and so the Lord is among us.

Click on the image above of linens in the empty tomb to read “Rising Isn’t Optional,” a post by youth minster Lindsay Williams, visit: http://blogs.nd.edu/oblation/2012/11/29/rising-isnt-optional/ 

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.RG 337. Print.   

Adapted from a Favorite written on September 15, 2007.

 

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