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Posts Tagged ‘restoration’


Sunday, October 10, 2021

Jeremiah 23:1-4

promisesThe Messiah Promise

We become so occupied with news of the day and the obstacles we see in our lives that we struggle to find a half hour to be still with God. Sometimes we look for little pockets of silence in the tumult of schedules and appointments. When we arrive at the end of our day, we may sleep more easily if we set time aside to commune with the Lord. The book of Jeremiah still lies open before us. If we turn to Chapter 23 we see the gift of promise almost hidden in this prophecy of doom; we find hope in the darkest of places. Destructive pastors and restorative pastors. Which are we?

Each of us is called as “pastors over God’s sheep that they shall feed them,” and to the extent that we are able, we hope to shepherd those placed in our care with integrity, authenticity, truth, wisdom, fidelity, mercy and compassion. As much as we are able, we are likewise called to bring comfort to the troubled stranger, to offer peace to the enemy, to bring God’s presence everywhere we go and to all whom we meet.

In this way, may we all move toward forward in restoration in Christ. In this way . . . we become an integral part of the Messiah promise.

Enter the word promise into the blog search bar and explore ways in which we might bring hope to our troubled world.


Adapted from a reflection written on May 4, 2007.

Image from: http://ilifejourney.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/promise-vs-promise/

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Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

British Museum: Clay Cylinder of Nebuchadnezzar II

Monday, September 27, 2021

Jeremiah 46

Routed Heroes

This oracle against Egypt that we read today is one of Jeremiah’s many. The young Hebrew nation sought refuge in Egypt under the protection of Joseph, they prospered and grew in the land of Goshen and were later enslaved. Led from their enslavement by Moses, they migrated to their promised land where they again prospered and grew. They became a formidable force under the leadership of Saul and David but with Solomon the empire begins to crumble. This young king who had shown so much promise bows to the desires of pagan wives and allows his people to turn to pagan gods. Babylon threatens in the north while Israel and Judah become two kingdoms. Ahead of the forces of Nebuchadnezzar, Jeremiah is swept away and carried off to Egypt; but Babylon follows and Nebuchadnezzar’s forces move swiftly through the Levant to rout the heroes who attempted to stem the force of his advance. Jeremiah had warned his people but they chose to ignore the word of God as delivered by the prophet.

Prepare shield and buckler! March to battle!

The prophet Daniel reminds us that the faithful need not fight, they only need rely on the providence and goodness of God. (Daniel and the Fiery Furnace in Daniel 3)

Harness the horses. Mount, charioteers. Fall in with your helmets; polish your spears, put on your breastplates.

Saint Paul reminds us that the only impenetrable armor is Christ himself. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

What do I see? With broken ranks they fall back; their heroes are routed, they flee headlong without making a stand. Terror on every side!

Jesus tells us that we have nothing to fear when we live in him.

The swift cannot flee, nor the hero escape. There in the north, on the Euphrates’ bank, they stumble and fall. Who is this that surges toward the Nile, like rivers of billowing waters?

Jeremiah warns that there is no route of escape, no avoidance of the inevitable end which corruption and arrogance guarantees.

Pack your baggage for exile, Memphis shall become a desert, an empty ruin. The mercenaries are like fatted calves; they too turn and flee together, stand not their ground.

The unthinkable will take place. All who are powerful will be weak. All who are mighty will fall. Heroes and cowards alike will collapse.

I will make an end of all the nations to which I have driven you, but of you I will not make an end. I will chastise you as you deserve, I will not let you go unpunished.

So compassionate is our God that even those who go against him have an opportunity to change their ways.

But you, my servant Jacob, fear not; be not dismayed, O Israel. Behold, I will deliver you from the far off land for I am with you.

So faithful is our persistent God that those who are lost in the wake of routed heroes will be healed, restored and transformed.

So hopeful is our transformative God that those who fall on the banks of the Nile will be reconciled, rebuilt and made new.

So loving is our merciful God that even those who are swept away with the tide of routed heroes will be raised up, resurrected and brought to eternal life.


For information on the Babylonian Culture and Jeremiah’s prophecy, click on the image above or go to: http://www.biblesearchers.com/temples/jeremiah4.shtml 

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Tuesday, September 14, 2021

1corinthians15_58notinvain1 Corinthians 15

Toiling

While kings and civil leaders deny problems that yawn before the nation, the remnant continue to move through their days. While priests set up and maintain hierarchies that God does not intend, the remnant live in fidelity with their Creator. While prophets are scorned and their words thrown back at them, the remnant toil in their smallness that is great in God’s eyes.

By the grace of God I am what I am, and God’s grace to me has not been ineffective.

Centuries after the fall of Israel and Judah the remnant still labor under corrupt leaders and priests, and the creator comes to walk among them as one of them. Generations after their exile and return the remnant witness to the resurrection of Christ. Years after the restoration of a temple and city the remnant live out the promise of redemption.

By the grace of God I am what I am, and God’s grace to me has not been ineffective.

74249646.RrEVmmLE.QUEENSCUPCLINTONIAUNIFLORAP7120064In this year and in this hour the remnant still work in Christ to transform the reality in which they find themselves.

In this day and at this moment the remnant still labor in the Spirit to console a troubled world.

In this eternal time and in this infinite space the remnant still toil in God to bring forth the Kingdom.

This is a labor worth living for. This is work worth dying for. This is toiling that carries with it the gift of God’s grace. This is toiling that brings the immense and unimaginable gift of Christ’s love fully and truly given.


Spend some time today with 1 Corinthians 15 and reflect on its message for those who toil in unjust places under unjust leaders. If you want to spend time with a portion, consider: verses 1-11 The Gospel Teaching, verses 12-19 Results of Denial, verses 20-28 Christ the Firstfruits, verses 29-34 Practical Arguments, verses 35-58 The Resurrection Event. St Paul understand clearly both the frustration of living in world of turmoil, and the power of Christ’s love to mend, sustain and heal. He brings home to us today the meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection for those who toil against injustice.

1 corinthians sunset

Images from: http://cccooperagency.wordpress.com/page/47/ and  http://www.pbase.com/jhiker/image/74249646 and http://hdw.eweb4.com/wallpapers/4520/

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nile mapMonday, September 13, 2021

Jeremiah 42

. . . You Are Remnant

 

If you remain quietly in this land I will build you up, and not tear you down . . .

We will know when we are closest to God when our hearts are broken.

I will plant you, not uproot you . . .

We will know that God is near when we hear the call to make reparation.

For I regret the evil I have done you . . .

When we most feel like abandoning a place or a relationship, we will know that restoration is at hand.

Then listen to the word of the Lord, remnant of Judah.

When we repent our own broken vows, when we remain rooted and bloom where we are planted . . .

The Lord has delivered his people, the remnant of Israel. 

When we build bridges with our enemies . . .

The Lord has brought them back from the land of the north.

When we move forward into true union and intimacy with God . . .

The Lord will gather them from the ends of the world, with the blind and the lame in their midst, the mothers and those with child, they shall return as an immense throng. 

When we ask nothing more than to do God’s will . . . then we will know that we are remnant.

They departed in tears, and the Lord will console them and guide them; the virgins will make merry and dance, and young men and old as well.  

So let us sing with our remnant companions . . .

The Lord will turn their mourning into joy, the Lord will console and gladden them after their sorrows.

And let us call others to the dance . . .

Cease your tears of mourning, wipe the tears from your eyes, the sorrow you have sown shall have its reward.

Let us recount how the Lord has rescued us . . .

There is hope for your future.

And let us remember that we are God’s beloved . . .

How long will you continue to stray o rebellious daughter?  

Let us tell others of the wonders of God’s love . . .

The Lord has created a new thing upon the earth.

Let us soften our hearts and unbend our stiff necks . . .

The Lord will place a new law within them, and write it upon their hearts.

Let us agree to be God’s people . . .

“I will be their God”, says the Lord, “and they will be my people”. 

For there is nothing more worthy than remaining faithful to God . . . there is nothing more worthy than becoming remnant.


Image from: http://www.keyway.ca/htm2012/20121230.htm

Adapted from a reflection written on October 7, 2007.

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Map of Israel and Judah

Map of Israel and Judah

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Jeremiah 42

The Journey to Egypt . . .

If you remain quietly in this land I will build you up, and not tear you down . . .

Repeatedly in Scripture we are urged to move out of our comfort zones, and to put Christ into action. From the first words of Genesis (In the beginning when God created the heavens and earth . . .) to the last words of Revelation (Amen!  Come, Lord Jesus!  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.  Amen.), we are encouraged to take steps into wide and dark abysses, to take leaps of faith. We are inspired to commit acts of hope and to bring union with enemies through love. Today’s reading is one of those quiet times when we hear the Lord our God tell us that it is time to remain planted, to listen, to persevere through the trouble, to be still, to be calm . . . for the Lord our God is with us.

I will plant you, not uproot you . . .

But so often in our lives we are tempted to sort out problems by changing our location rather than changing ourselves, we have likely packed our bags for Egypt where we will see no more of war, hear the trumpet alarm no longer, nor hunger for bread. We convince ourselves that it makes a great deal of sense to pull up stakes and begin anew elsewhere when relationships or covenants have gone terribly, and seemingly irreparably, amiss. Frequently we believe it is time to move out or away from a place or a person and there are certainly situations in which our personal safety depends on our stepping away from danger; but in today’s reading we are challenged to make a spiritual change in our hearts rather than a physical change with our bodies. The prophet’s words rise to us and ask us how quickly we back away from God when our lives become difficult. When we consider the choice before Jeremiah to remain or stay, we see that much of who we are and what we do identifies us as remnant.  

For I regret the evil I have done you . . .

Jeremiah the prophet suffers greatly and deeply.  From 628 to 520 B.C.E. he speaks chiefly to the people of Judah and her capital Jerusalem.  Much like today, these are turbulent times.  The superpowers of the day, Egypt, Assyria, and Babylonia, are carving up the Middle East putting small states like Judah in constant danger.  The old Israel Kingdom divided in 930 B.C.E. and its northern portions were invaded, her people disappeared into exile.  The people of the southern kingdom of Judah constantly ask Jeremiah’s opinion, he speaks, and then they disagreed with him.  At turns, they ignore him, persecute him, they even imprison him.  Yet Jeremiah continues to speak when the people ask and when God calls.  His story may seem pointless and depressingly familiar; but through all of the abuse this prophet receives, he remains faithful to his own covenant with his creator.  And the message de delivers is a constant reminder that the change God asks us to make is a change in our hearts. Jeremiah also reminds us of three important concepts: God unfailingly calls us to repentance, we will suffer consequences when we break our covenant promises, and restoration is ours when we respond to God’s call.  Jeremiah reminds his people – and us today – that we are a faithful remnant to be gathered up by God.

Then listen to the word of the Lord, remnant of Judah.

Tomorrow . . . be still and know that you are Remnant.


Adapted from a reflection written on October 7, 2007.

Image from: http://neatnik2009.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/feast-of-jeremiah-june-26/

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Holy Wednesday, March 31, 2021

good and faithful servantAmos 7-9

A Prayer for Faithful Servants

The prophet Amos has accompanied us on our Lenten journey over these past several weeks to bring us the Words of God, to force us to look at the Woes of the world, and to show us stark warnings through his Visions for the future.

Amos is often described as the angry prophet with no tolerance for the corrupt rich who subjugate the poor. This will also be our impression of him if we do not linger with the last images of his prophecy. We will miss the gift Amos brings to us if we do not stay for a while with these ending verses in which we see the beauty of Amos unfold, for it is in these final chapters that we experience his Messianic perspective and promise. It is here in the last pages of Amos’ prophecy that we understand the stories in the New Testament, and fully come to terms with what it means to be faithful servants of God.

And so we pray.

When we feel unimportant and are dwarfed by the colossal forces around us, we petition God as we say with Amos: How can we stand? We are so small!

And God replies: What do you see?

We remember the many times God has rescued us from sure destruction, and we reply: Evil will not reach or overtake us.

And God replies: I will raise you up!

We recall the occasions when only God was able to pull us together after we have been so battered that we can not imagine how we will ever be whole again, and together we ask: Will you wall up our breaches?

And God replies: I will raise your ruins!

We feel frustration and fear when we see all the good that we have built begin to crumble, and so together we ask: Will you rebuild us as in days of old?

And God replies: I will bring about your restoration!

We remember all the work we have done to build your Kingdom. We look into the future and fear for the work yet to be completed, and so together we ask: Who will rebuild and inhabit our ruined cities? Who will plant vineyards and drink the wine? Who will set out gardens and eat the fruits?

And God replies: I will plant you upon your own ground; never again shall you be plucked from the land I have given you. This is my promise. I have spoken. I am the Lord, your God.

And we reply: We who struggle to be your faithful servants thank you. We who strive to follow in the steps of Jesus rely on you alone. We who long to always live in the Spirit look to you for guidance as we say, Amen!

And God replies: Well done, my good and faithful servant.  (Matthew 25:21)


To purchase the plaque above, click on the image.

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Saturday, March 27, 2021

vineyardAmos 9:12-15

A Prayer for Perspective

All the nations shall bear my name . . .

So let me begin to praise God now . . .

I, the Lord, will do this . . .

For all that God has done for me . . .

The ploughman shall overtake the reaper . . .

Just as the seasons turn so does God turn to us, all of us the children of God . . .

I will bring about the restoration of my people . . .

Once we understand the importance of humility . . .

They shall rebuild and inhabit their ruined cities . . .

Once we understand the depth of God’s wisdom . . .

They shall plant vineyards and drink the wine . . .

Once we understand the breadth of God’s reach . . .

057peachesThey shall set out gardens and eat the fruits . . .

Once we understand the height of God’s hope . . .

I will plant them upon their own ground . . .

Once we act in accordance with God’s plan . . .

Never again shall they be plucked . . .

Once we love as God loves . . .

Say I, the Lord, your God . . .

Say I, this child of God . . .

Amen.


Images from: http://www.meadorchards.com/ and http://www.ventanawines.com/sustainability

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

oasisEzekiel 37

The Valley of Dry Bones – Part III

The second half of the “Dry Bones” chapter brings us the Oracle of the Two Sticks through which we understand that the splintered kingdoms will be re-united – an event thought totally unbelievable – and that the exile the people suffered was not God’s rejection of them. The chapters following this one describe the battle against Gog and the end-of-time feast in the restored Jerusalem. Thus does this portion of Ezekiel’s prophecy tell the reader that what is thought impossible is possible for God; it tells us that God never abandons us even when we abandon God. And it tells us that God loves us even when we believe ourselves to be rejected.

What does all of this mean for us? Ezekiel reminds us that the most hopeless cases have hope in them somewhere, that God acts out of great love to resuscitate what has been lost, and that we are called to do for one another what God does for each of  us. All things are possible, mirages become real, and sustenance revives us in the desert of our lives when we move toward conversion rather than away from it, when we move through the brittleness of the dry bones and the desert, toward the refreshing, renewing waters of the oasis God provides for us against all human odds.

There is a line in day eight of a St. Jude novena I used to pray: When the difficult was too great to bear, Saint Jude somehow managed to see that it was lifted. It was almost as if he had set the pattern for one of the branches of the armed services:“The difficult I shall take care of immediately; the impossible (in terms of human power) may take a little longer.” Faith found that humility means power in the eyes of God.

ww_pada01[1]

Parry Dalea: This flower blooms in the Tucson desert in Southwestern USA from August to May

And so we humbly turn to God and ask that dry bones be resuscitated, that lost faith be restored, and that stifled hope be returned. When we stagger under burdens and find ourselves in trackless sands, we must petition God in the knowledge that the impossible is possible knowing that God will always answer, dry bones will always rise, the desert will always bloom and the oasis will always appear.

As we rise to step into a new morning, perhaps still worried with a burden we could not shake, as we tumble into our beds at night, perhaps still weary at the end of a dry day full of impossibility, we must remember to pray for the impossible . . . for God always finds a way.

From Psalm 63: O God, you are my God, for you I long; for you my soul is thirsting. My body pines for you, like a dry, weary, land without water . . . For your love is better than life, my lips speak your praise . . . On my bed I remember you . . . On you I muse through the night for you have been my help . . . My soul clings to you . . . your right hand holds me fast.  Amen.

Tomorrow, a prayer from the valley of dry bones.


Adapted from a reflection written on February 18, 2008.

To understand more about the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, why they represent hopes lost, and why it was thought impossible for them to unite, go to: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/k/kingdom_of_israel.htm and http://biblehub.com/dictionary/k/kingdom_of_judah.htm

For more images of beautiful desert and mountain oases in unexpected places, click on the image above or go to: http://scribol.com/featured/desert-oasis/2257/9

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First Sunday in Lent, February 21, 2021

Ezekiel 37

The Liwa Desert

The Liwa Desert

The Valley of Dry Bones – Part I

Today’s verses for reflection describe the famous “Dry Bones” of Ezekiel, a metaphor for the reunion of our own body and soul at our resurrection. Ezekiel brings us a panoply of images that help us to understand that the oasis mirages of the desert are possible. Ezekiel tells us that restoration after great downfall can happen – not because of our own good works, but because of God’s infinite and ever-abiding compassion.

A falaj in Qasr al Sarab, Liwa Oasis

In the desert there is a quiet but sudden blooming that takes place after a rain. Tiny, delicate yet sturdy flowers pop up over night after a scattering of dew but they disappear with the heavy noon sun. The constant cycle of arrival and departure reflects our own comings and goings with God. We receive the morning dew and rise hopeful. The heat of the day beats us down and we retreat in disappointment. Yet, through God’s loving care we return to bloom again with the next morning’s new scattering of condensation.  The cold night has brought sustenance that we did not expect.

And so it is with us.  Each day we are offered the gift of God’s loving, patient care. Each day, despite the dryness of our bones, we rise to respond. Each day we sink in weariness and yet . . . even in the most vast of deserts God provides oases to sustain us.

Tomorrow, we consider our own dry bones . . . and our own restoration.


Images from: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/396739048398927764/ and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liwa_Oasis

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