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Posts Tagged ‘renewal’


Friday, February 7, 2020

Psalm 101: Integrity and Possibility

00387775[1]I sing of love and justice; to you, Lord, I sing praise.  I follow the way of integrity; when will you come to me?

This is one of my favorite psalms, written as a song of the Just Ruler.

I act with integrity of heart within my royal court.

My royal court . . . my family, my house, my workplace, my colleagues, the circle of my temple which accompanies everywhere at all times.

I do not allow into my presence anyone who speaks perversely.

This, of course, is the Old Testament, separatist way of dealing with deceit.  Yet even David and Solomon had their defects.  And Jesus said, Let the one who is without sin cast the first stone . . .  We are New Testament people and so we must not turn away from the struggle of humanity.  We must act to heal, to transform, to save.

Whoever acts shamefully I hate; no such person can be my friend.  I shun the devious of heart; the wicked I do not tolerate.

“Hate” is such a strong word.  And as New Testament Faithful, we are called to love our enemies into goodness.  Jesus waded among the sinners to bring them healing.  Today we, sinners all, wade among the craziness of the world to bring Jesus the Healer to all.  This is how we heal ourselves.

Whoever slanders another in secret I reduce to silence.

When the craziness is too much to handle, we retreat in Christ to look for answers.

Haughty eyes and arrogant hearts I cannot endure.

Hubris, indifference, greed, envy, fear . . . these all lead to arrogance.  We are to witness to Truth, Light, Humility.  We are to act these virtues.

I look to the faithful of the land; they alone can be my companions.  Those who follow the way of integrity, they alone can enter my service.

There are always faithful surrounding us . . . even though we often feel alone.  We must seek them out.  We must gather around us the faithful who want to share the journey home.

No one who practices deceit can hold a post in my court.

We must use prudence when we walk among those who live in the shadows and call them to the light . . . we must not despair that our work has no effect.

No one who speaks falsely can be among my advisors.  Each morning I clear the wicked from the land, and rid the Lord’s city of all evildoers.

We must not believe that there is no hope.  This was the sin of Judas, the man who betrayed Jesus.  He was “neither a master of evil nor the figure of a demoniacal power of darkness but rather a sycophant who bows down before the anonymous power of changing moods and current fashion”.  (Cameron 72)

“Judas and Peter both betrayed the One whose bread they had taken.  The difference between them was that Peter loved and repented; Judas despaired.  The Lord, risen, would have repaid them both with his forgiving love.  Judas could not even imagine the possibility”.  (Cameron 66)

And so we pray,

Let us not despair when we see a lack of integrity.  Let us, like Christ, be the Hope that all may be made anew.  Let us live in this Hope, in this Possibility that we all will be transformed by the healing presence of Christ . . . the Presence which we bring to the world through our own actions.  Let us believe that all sin is forgiven, no matter how grave.  Let us love those who languish, who plot, who live out indifferent lives.  Let us love them into transformed lives of integrity . . . of possibility . . . so that the words we say and the creeds we believe . . . match the actions of our hands . . . and the openness and fullness of our hearts.  Amen.


Cameron, Peter John. MAGNIFICAT. 19.3 (2008): 66 and 72. Print.  

First written on March 19, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://www.tacoma.uw.edu/clsr/campaign-integrity

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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Psalm 81: An Exhortation to Worship Worthily

open[1]Constant renewal of our covenant promises with God is so important because the world in which we live is so good at deceiving us, luring us, easing us into betraying ourselves . . . and then encouraging us to betray others.  We swim in a sea of messages that tell us that we are in control, we are self-sufficient, we need only rely on our own powers, talents and schemes; we are told that we are God.  And that is the irony . . . we are God . . . when we give ourselves over to God, trust God, become vulnerable to God.  That is the irony of the words whispered to Eve and to Adam in the Garden of Eden.  Satan lures them, telling them that they too, can be like gods who know what is good and what is bad.  (Genesis 3:5).  This irony is that we are God.  We are the adopted daughters and sons of God, the sisters and brothers of Christ, the children of the Holy Spirit; yet we so often forget that we demonstrate our understanding of this by trusting God, believing God, loving God.  And we do this best as Jesus did, by being The Word to all and to everything.  We are God when we carry Jesus to all, when we hope and petition for the impossible, when we love our enemies just as we love ourselves and our friends.

Today’s Psalm is a reminder that we must constantly renew the Covenant agreement we have with our creator, we constantly renew our God Contract.  Renewal was the purpose of the Feast of the Tabernacles referred to in verse 4; and renewal is what we must always be about.  Each morning when we rise, each evening when we put our heads upon pillows we must trust God and bring God into our open hearts.  In the last verses of this Psalm, we see how to best sustain ourselves on this trip we are making . . . this earthly pilgrimage.  What are we to eat?  What are we to drink?  What are we to wear?  It is the Eucharist which renews us . . . give us this day our daily bread . . . it is the blood of Christ that redeems us . . . Can you drink the cup I am going to drink? . . . it is Christ whom we wear for protection when we wade into the world . . . take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God . . . it is The Word which sustains, nourishes, renews and brings true life to us.

And so we pray:

Good and everlasting God,

Renew us in your Spirit.

Refresh us for the journey.

Restore us to our promise.

Repair us in Christ’s love.

Replenish our weakened resources.

Remind us we are God’s.

Call us to worship you . . . worthily.

Amen.


Image from: http://scripture-for-today.blogspot.com/2011/03/psalm-81-open-your-mouth-wide.html

First written on April 10, 2008.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

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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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Galatians 2:15-21God’s Mercy

Monday, October 22, 2018

Paul’s argument in this letter is that a man does not have to submit himself to circumcision in order to follow Christ; Christ is the fulfillment of the old law and is therefore not subject to it. Christ is, in fact, its full human embodiment.  How silly we are, Paul says, to believe that The Law is more important than Christ – God’s presence among us, as one of us.  In Paul’s view the Galatians have missed the big picture.  We are saved by Christ . . . and not the Law.

We have spent time reflecting on this in a number of our Noontimes, thinking about how we are frequently caught up in following the letter of the law and completely missing its intended purpose.  Neglecting the spirit of the law in order to adhere to the permutations we have created with it is a stumbling block to living a life of justification or salvationIn short, we are missing the forest by focusing on the trees.

We worry about the future and fret over the past.  We are anxious about people and plans in the weeks and months to come; we harbor anger and guilt about offenses we or others have committed long years ago.  We carry all of this weighty negativity with us and stagger through the present – missing the joy that God has posted along the way for us.  We seem intent on suffering, and doing it badly.

In a letter to Titus, Paul writes: When the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the holy Spirit, who he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our savior, so that we might be justified by his grace and become heirs in hope of eternal life.  (Titus 3:4-7)

With the letter of the law, we can become hyper-vigilant, struggling to maintain a safe distance from even the suggestion that we may break an order.

With the spirit of the law, we are free to explore new ways of serving God, free to express our emotions and to dialog with our creator.

With the Law, there is an immutable permanence and state of stasis that can deaden the soul.

With the Spirit, there is limitless compassion that heals, soothes, restores and replenishes the soul.

When we are intent on following the rules there is a paring down that takes place, a closing off of possibility, a temptation to finagle and maneuver.

When we are intent on following God, there is an opening up, a flourishing, a limitless opportunity for new beginnings.

With rules, we count our near occasions of sin and the number of times we have failed.

With God, we look for occasions to serve and opportunities to follow Jesus.

When we find ourselves looking for loopholes and excuses, we know we have strayed too far from Christ.  When we hear ourselves walking fine lines and arguing small points, we know we have wandered too far from the creator.  When we see ourselves safely hidden in our comfort zone fortresses rather than stepping into the unknown to witness and build up the Kingdom, we know that we have somehow forgotten that we are well-loved and ever-protected.

Paul speaks to the Galatians and he speaks to us, encouraging each of us to step into our lives with full confidence and gentle fearlessness.  He urges us to be led by the Spirit rather than be stifled by the law.  And he reminds us that God welcomes the sinner eagerly . . . for God has endless and abundant mercy.


A re-post from September 19, 2011.

Images from: http://www.biblechef.com/Indexes/Artifacts/JewishTorahSheet.html

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Isaiah 32:15-17: A Fruitful Field

Spring Wildflowers In Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

In this season of Eastertide, we open our hearts to the possibility that justice will bloom in the desert.

But once more God will send us his spirit. The wasteland will become fertile, and fields will produce rich crops. Everywhere in the land righteousness and justice will be done. Because everyone will do what is right, there will be peace and security forever. (GNT)

In this time of renewal in the northern hemisphere, and season of harvest in the southern hemisphere, we open our hearts to the possibility of new hope in renewal.

[When] the Spirit from on high is poured out on us. Then will the desert become an orchard and the orchard be regarded as a forest. Right will dwell in the desert and justice abide in the orchard. Justice will bring about peace; right will produce calm and security. (NAB)

In this cycle of dying, transforming, and renovation, we open our hearts in fidelity to the Spirit that dwells in the desert, waiting to convert stony hearts and soften stiff necks.

Till the Spirit is poured out on us from above,
and the desert becomes a fertile field,
with the fertile field regarded as a forest.
Then justice will dwell in the desert,
and righteousness abide in the fertile field.
The effect of righteousness will be peace;
the result of righteousness, quiet trust forever. (CJB)

In these days of resurrection and rescue, we open our hearts to the mystery and wonder of Christ.

Yes, weep and grieve until the Spirit is poured
    down on us from above
And the badlands desert grows crops
    and the fertile fields become forests.
Justice will move into the badlands desert.
    Right will build a home in the fertile field.
And where there’s Right, there’ll be Peace
    and the progeny of Right: quiet lives and endless trust.
My people will live in a peaceful neighborhood—
    in safe houses, in quiet gardens.
The forest of your pride will be clear-cut,
    the city showing off your power leveled.
But you will enjoy a blessed life,
    planting well-watered fields and gardens,
    with your farm animals grazing freely. (MSG)

In our evenings of reflection and fruition, we open our hearts to the awe and majesty of God.

When we compare these and other translations of these verses, we know with certainty that the desert blooms, and the wasteland becomes a fruitful field in Christ.


Enter the words desert bloom into the blog search bar and explore possibilities with God. 

Image from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/california-desert-wildflowers-bloom_us_58bb0fc6e4b0b9989417ffcb 

For more about desert blooms, or to learn more about the California desert, click on the image and explore. 

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2 Corinthians 4:17-5:3: Not Settling for Less

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Over the last month we have sung a hymn in time of national struggle, we have argued with the Almighty, gone beyond human limits, reflected on narcissism and considered what we might learn from the story of Esther. Today we settle into these verses from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.

Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without God’s unfolding grace.

In the midst of turmoil, there is the promise of renewal.

These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye.

Despite the pain that feels eternal, hope rises with the promise of restoration.

The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

Although our fears bring us insurmountable anxiety, we have the assurance of transformation.

God puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.

In all times and in all places, in all sorrows and in all joys, God’s grace remains. Once we recognize this, we never settle for less.

When we compare this translation of today’s reading with others, and when we weigh our troubles with the promise of the covenant, we know that each day God’s grace brings us more than meets the eye.

Image from: https://fastpraygive.org/a-renewal/ 

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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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