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Posts Tagged ‘return’


Ezekiel 18: A New Heart and a New Spirit

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Written on December 17, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Jacob Willemsz de Wet: Workers in the Vineyard

The prophet Ezekiel foreshadows the story Jesus tells us in Matthew 20 about the vineyard owner who pays the same wage to the worker who has worked for but an hour as he does to the one who has worked all day.  We are cautioned by both prophet and Messiah not to complain about God’s generosity – we may one day hope to benefit from this abundance.

The prophet also foretells the story Jesus describes in Luke 15 who leaves his ninety-nine sheep to go in search of the one that is lost.  We are told by both prophet and Savior that we are as precious to God as that one sheep.  This story is told as an illustration of God’s determination to call us – we may one day have need of this persistence.

Ezekiel tells the people in exile that they must move beyond these old proverbs and customs of believing that the sins of one generation are visited upon another.  He foresees what Jesus tells, that there will be a Messianic Age when we are released from the old and given a new heart and a new spirit – this spirit is forgiveness – this heart is love.

This is wonderful news!  Yet, it brings with it a reality that we may not want to hear.   With this newness comes the responsibility to return and repent.  We cannot expect that the good we have done will somehow outweigh the bad; yet we have the certain knowledge that all Ezekiel has foretold is true.  God will persist in calling out to us as we wander lost and alone.  And God has a heart large enough to repair any damage that has been done either by us or to us – for we have this promise from the prophet Ezekiel that we see fulfilled in our brother the Christ.  Jesus has died yet lives.  Jesus returns for us . . . so that we might live.  The Spirit abides with us . . . and brings us this new heart . . . this new spirit . . . as a gift from God.  All we need do is reach out our hands, and open our hearts.

 For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies, says the Lord God.  Return and live!


A re-post from December 16, 2011. 

Images from: https://thenoontimes.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/jacobwillemszdewetdasm11.jpg and http://www.ideachampions.com/heart/archives/quotes/index.shtml

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James 5:16-17: Praying for Boldness

Sunday, November 1, 2015powerofprayer

The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.

How many of us have witnessed miracles but look for ways to explain them away?

The showers came and everything began to grow again . . .

How many of us have benefited from miracles but shrink from telling others the good news of our own healing?

I’ll bring my people back, gather them up from the ends of the earth . . .

The prophet Jeremiah reminds us that there is always reason to celebrate for those who weep will rejoice, those who are lame will walk, those who are blind will one day see. (Jeremiah 31:7-9)

It seemed like a dream, too good to be true . . .

The psalmists tell us that where we have wept, we will leap for joy. (Psalm 126)

Releasing-the-Power-of-Prayer-VideothumbJust as nature turns and returns in her seasons, so too do we turn and return to God. Perhaps it is her fidelity that brings so many miracles forth in nature’s change each season. Perhaps we might also benefit from turning and returning to God’s word each day. When we spend time with these verses, when we search varying versions of these words, we also find much in the power of righteous prayer. As evening falls and we end our day, let us give thanks to the Lord as we offer all that we are and all that we do in God’s holy, healing name.

Spend time with Acts 4:23-32 and re-read a familiar story about the power of prayer.

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Zechariah 14: Apocalypse – Part V

The Sistine Chapel, The Vatican: Michelangelo's Prophet Zechariah

The Sistine Chapel, The Vatican: Michelangelo’s Prophet Zechariah

Saturday, June 6, 2015

The fight for Jerusalem that Zechariah predicts is already begun . . . and we are celebrants in the newness of what is coming into being.  Let us gather ourselves to face the disasters that life brings to us, for it is in these disasters that we find this new life. Let us find our places in God’s new city, for it is in this new place that we find new meaning. And let us rejoice and be glad for we know what to do when cataclysm strikes; it is in this cataclysm that we discover the refuge that is the house of the Lord of hosts.

Past, present, future. Let us step forward into the newness of our transformation. Past, present and future. Let us step away from our childish predictions of a future that is too simple. Past, present and future. Let us rest in the moment when we fully experience the three-person God who is more real and more certain than any savior we might conjure up on our own. Let us rest in the present to celebrate the God who always was, always is and always will be the peace and hope and joy of the world.

Enter the word restoration into the blog search bar and explore the idea of cataclysm bringing joy into our lives. 

Tomorrow, the feast of Corpus Christi.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 425. Print.   

Adapted from a reflection written on Friday, July 10, 2009.

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Zechariah 14: Apocalypse – Part IVcorpuschristi

Friday, June 5, 2015

Return from exile is celebrated but the celebration is taking place amid the ruin of former glory because our newness is more important than what was. In our child-like, dual minds we see the world as negative and positive, off or on, with or against, good or evil, black or white, up or down. When we give ourselves over to our Triune God we begin to understand that these opposites exist side by side and even intertwined. We also begin to see that God’s plan, God’s promise and God’s love are capable of turning any harm – natural or human-made – into a force for beauty and goodness. This is the promise of the Easter resurrection, and it is the miracle of Pentecost indwelling.

We are nearing the Feast of Corpus Christi when we celebrate this gift of Jesus’ presence in gift of Eucharist. I will feed my people with finest wheat and fill them with honey from the rock (Psalm 81:16) We are one with Christ in the gift of bread and wine. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believe this has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the desert, but they died; this is the bread that comes from heaven so that one may eat it and not die. (John 6:47-50)

We have been transformed and made anew, and this miracle of redemption that Zechariah describes already exists today in that each of us is the libation bowl poured out for Christ.  We are each a vessel fashioned by God’s hands and brought into existence for God’s purpose.  We each are the hope of the Spirit to the world.

Past present, future. Let us remember the holy trinity of our lives: all that God has created and gifted, all that is here with us in the Spirit, and all that is promised by Christ in our lives to come. Then, when apocalypse befalls us, let us offer all that we have and all that we are to the triune God: courageous creator, compassionate savior and blessed comforter.

To read about how different cultures celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, click on the image above or visit: http://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/common/corpus-christi

Tomorrow, transformation.

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 425. Print.   

Adapted from a reflection written on Friday, July 10, 2009.

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Saturday, July 19, 2014

god heals2 Chronicles 11

A Prayer for Returning Home – A Reprise

This week we have looked closely at the process and power in asking for and giving forgiveness, in seeking and receiving healing, in pursuing and relying on God. We cry out against injustice and ask God’s intervention. We lament terror, horror, falsehood and betrayal; and we ask God to bring goodness out of all harm. Today we consider the power of returning home. And so we consider how we might move from loss to gain, from hate to love, from death to life.

The Healing

Anger, betrayal, loss death.

Silence, stillness, a numbing, penetrating chill.

Eyes slowly opening to see old light in a new way. The ringing din eases into two harmonious tones. We are not alone.

Joy, celebration, gift, life.

Song of consolation, warmth.

A radiating energy moves upward from toe tips.

All encompassing. All-knowing. Never-ending. Life.

Why cling to what cannot be changed if we forfeit all that is changeless?

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Saturday, March 8, 2014

Cows of Bashan and Mount Hermon

Cows of Bashan and Mount Hermon

Amos 4

Second Word

Amos delivers God’s word to the priests in Bethel for a year and when he is rejected he returns to his shepherding work. He speaks to the Israel nation about their lack of fidelity. And he reminds us of how we can turn back to God and the covenant once we discover that we have again fallen under the spell of the pagan gods of fame, money, influence and power. Amos reminds us that there is always redemption. Restoration is always possible.

God says: In this time of Lent I call you to examine your conscience and you perform this scrutiny well. You are aware of all that you do when you allow yourself to be honest.  You know where and how to return to me when you allow yourself a bit of quiet and a dose of truth.  So put your worries and fears aside for your renovation already lies within you.  Your recovery from all that plagues you is already in your body, mind and soul.  All that needs happen is that you note what you do, that you put aside your pagan gods, and that you turn and return to me.  Uprightness lives in you through me.  Do what you must to nourish the integrity that dwells in you.  This is the Second Word that comes from me through my prophet Amos.

In our modern society we are not much different from our ancient ancestors despite our science and technology; the very real temptation to become Cows of Bashan is as keen and alluring today as it was millennia ago; yet we know that life is more than we see before us.  And so we still yearn for union.  We still seek wisdom and peace.  We are still vessels of the Spirit that creates us. God still dwells within . . . waiting to transform and rescue us.

Tomorrow, Third Word.

For information about Bashan, click on the image above or go to: http://www.bibleplaces.com/golanheights.htm

For a Noontime reflection on Amos 4:1-2 and The Cows of Bashan see the September 20, 2013 post on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/09/20/cows-of-bashan/

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Saturday, April 13, 2013 – John 18:12-27

The Difference

Fyodor Bronnikov: The Head of the Apostle Peter

Fyodor Bronnikov: The Head of the Apostle Peter

What makes Peter different from Judas? Why is Peter “The Rock” and Judas “The Betrayer?”  When we begin to reflect on this question we see how the Easter story holds so much importance for us.  Looking closely we find that Peter repents and allows himself to remain open to Christ. Judas slinks away, suffers remorse, returns the money he received to the chief priests and elders and then hangs himself. (Matthew 27:3-5) He does not seek God. He is so paralyzed by the sudden truth which he sees that he takes his own life. For whatever reason unknown to us, he is unable to allow his pain to bring him to God through purification. He cannot suffer.

Peter moves through his pain back to Christ. He believes Jesus who says that when we repent we are forgiven and restored. Always. Without fail. Judas does not. Judas suspects that Jesus is false. Why?  We have no way of knowing but modern psychology tells us it is likely because Judas himself is false. Judas cannot believe the words of Christ because he himself lies, so he expects that Jesus lies as well.

The restorative part of this story is found in the last chapter of this same book which we have examined all week.  We may want to return once more today to read this portion of John’s Gospel as one full story for when we do it becomes more than a story.  It begins to come into focus as our own story and as an expectation of all that is in store for each of us.

What have we come to understand in this second week of Easter?  Not only does Jesus return to sustain the weary disciples as they struggle to more fully understand the real meaning of his Easter resurrection, he returns to sustain them in this life and in the eternal next.  Yet not only does Jesus restore us, he gives us each an assignment: “Feed my lambs; tend my sheep; feed my sheep.”  Jesus returns to renew the promise of liberation, the assurance of salvation, and the gift of eternal love.

We may balk, as Peter did, at the requirements of our covenant with God, but God will patiently await our turning with openness.

We may be anxious about how or if we will fulfill God’s hope in us but God is waiting to restore; God wants to fulfill our heart’s desire; God asks us to live in intimacy with him.

We may worry, we may doubt, and we may fail; yet God does not reject us for God is determined to love us into goodness.

We may rest in the Lord, believe in the Christ, and remain in the Spirit.

Betrayal or return; this choice is ours to make.  And this choice makes all the difference in the world.

First written on May 5, 2007.  Edited and posted today as a Favorite.

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Peter’s Denial


Thursday, April 11, 2013 – John 21:15-19

PWmorningshorea1[1]Peter’s Return

A few brief weeks ago we spent time reflecting with Peter’s three-fold denial of Christ.  Today – putting this denial into the context of the Easter story – we spend time with Peter’s three-fold return.

Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?

The disciples have returned to their boats and nets, looking for a bit of stability after the resurrection of Jesus.  He had told them to return to Galilee to await him there and this they have done.

Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.

Seven of the Christ’s disciples have just spent a fruitless night of labor hauling up nets devoid of fish;  they are exhausted and frustrated.  What, they wonder, awaits them next?

Feed my lambs.

Then that voice had called out across the water suggesting that they cast their nets on the other side of the boat.

Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?

Peter had nodded them into action.  They had done as the stranger suggested and now . . . the net was so full it nearly burst as they heaved it into the boat.

Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.

It was John who keyed into it first.  “It is the Lord”, he had said quietly.

Tend my sheep.

Peter had jumped into the water while the rest of them pulled the laden boat onto the stony beach.

Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?

And now they sat around the brazier while Jesus prepared a breakfast to restore their weakened bodies and spirit.

Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.

Peter allows Jesus’ eyes to lock with his; he does not flinch or look away.  His gaze holds the Christ’s – or Christ holds his – as they both remember that night not long ago when Peter sat beside another fire and denied that he knew the man called Jesus.  Both Peter and Jesus know that the disciple is being invited to undo his denials.  Now distressed yet resolute, Peter can do nothing but say what is in his heart and on his mind.

Lord, you know everything, you know that I love you.

Peter, who denied knowing Jesus just as predicted now becomes the rock upon which the Lord has already begun to build his church.  Peter, who denied having traveled in the company of the Teacher has already learned that all things are possible in and through Christ.  Peter, who wept bitterly at his lack of courage, has learned that there is nothing to fear when we live in and with Christ.

Feed my sheep.

Each of us is given the opportunity to sit across from the Lord and connect with him above the fire of our denial.  Each of us is offered the opening of renewal in God.  Each of us is given the gift of rebirth and freedom from fear.

Follow me.

Each of us may tell anyone who will listen that we follow Jesus the Galilean. Each of us may remain silent when challenged by choices that are difficult to make. Each of us may turn and return to the Lord. Each of us may give our fear and anxiety over to the Christ. And each of us may decide to follow the Lord with open, contrite and eager hearts.

For another reflection on today’s Noontime reading, click on the image above or go to: http://villagegreendunwoody.com/day-40-saturday-feed-my-sheep

To visit the Noontime reflection about Peter’s denial, go to: https://thenoontimes.com/2013/03/16/

To reflect again on this portion of in John’s Gospel that we have been visiting in recent days, we may want to return to some of the sites we explored earlier this week. 

For some interesting facts about the Sea of Galilee/Tiberias today, go to: http://www.this-is-galilee.com/sea-of-galilee.html or http://www.seetheholyland.net/sea-of-galilee-article-israeloutside-jerusalem/ or http://www.atlastours.net/holyland/sea_of_galilee.html or http://www.sacred-destinations.com/israel/jesus-boat

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Thursday, March 7,2013 – Hosea 11 – Destruction Not for All

dew[1]As we near the half-way point in our Lenten journey we hear Yahweh’s word that he persists in loving the child Israel just as Hosea loves the wayward Gomer . . . he recalls that he raised her from a child and so cannot destroy her as he might be justified in doing.  This is the promise of restoration we long to hear.

I will resettle them in their homes, says the Lord.

This is all so simple, really.  There is nothing complex in truly loving someone.  At least this is the case if we love as God asks: justly, wisely, authentically.

To love justly is to act with mercy rather than leniency.

To love wisely is to be vulnerable to God through one another.

To love well is to amplify rather than obliterate, to persevere rather than control, to speak to truth and listen for authenticity rather than to mollify or pacify.

To love with integrity is to be honest with ourselves and to look for solutions within rather than from some outside source.

To love well is to follow the example of Christ . . . and this we are all called to do.

My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred. 

We look for peace.  We look for serenity.  We look for healing and restoration.  In order to find these things, we must fasten our eyes, our ears, our voices, our hands and our feet to God and not let go.  We must watch, we must wait, we must listen, we must speak, we must witness.  God always abides.

For I am God and not man, the Holy One present among you; I will not let the flames consume you.

Hosea is constant.  Gomer is fickle.  We run to the high places to worship a new idol when we grow bored.  We seek out some old addiction when we grow tired.

new_easter_lilies[1]The more I called them, the farther they went from me . . . yet it was I who taught [them] . . . to walk . . . though I stooped to feed my child, they did not know that I was their healer. 

We do not have to go off to far or exotic places to find this God we seek.  We need only tum and return to one another.

How could I give you up . . . or deliver you up?

My heart is overwhelmed . . .

I will resettle them in their homes, says the Lord.

Restoration is upon us.  The end of our exile is as far away as our own fingertips, our own lips, our own feet.  We must turn and return.  How much are we willing to risk?  How much are we willing to love?

First written on January 22, 2008. Revised and posted today as a Favorite.

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