Posts Tagged ‘sabbath’

Ezekiel 37: From Dry Bones to Restoration – Part IIIvalleyofdrybones-620x3101

Friday, September 16, 2022

We are too often stunned by the miracle of God’s goodness. We are too seldom in awe of God’s greatness.

We are too quick to offer spontaneous judgments. We are too slow to nurture and sustain ourselves and others.

We too easily forget our own past and project our own future. We too stubbornly refuse to make allowances for others and too rarely walk in another’s shoes.

God has told us how we are to pray. Jesus has told us the words to use. The Spirit has accompanied us throughout our lives and still we look for more information or more excuses.

praying-handsLife is all too complicated. Life is all too simple. If we wish to rise from the dryness of the desert we know what to do. We are to take on the mantel of humility. We are to set aside time to spend with God both alone and in community. We are to love as Jesus loves, knowing that there is but one law that unites us. We are to allow the Spirit to guide and protect, instruct and restore. And we are to let God be God.

In this way we experience the rejuvenating dew of the desert morning that brings all impossibilities out of the darkness of doubt and into the light of probability and surety. And we rejoice as God gathers our dry bones so assemble them in the dance of restored life.

Enter the word restoration into the blog search bar and explore the idea of God’s renewal in us.  

Make an intentional effort over the next four weeks to keep the Sabbath holy. Plan activities with family and friends. Try to stay away from chores and closer to God. And allow yourself to experience the miracle of restoration out of dry bones.  

Tomorrow, what is it we seek?

Images from: http://millennialpastor.net/2014/04/06/lazarus-in-the-valley-of-dry-bones/ and http://www.stitcherydickorydock.com/september-beyond-the-block-be-an-encourager/

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Luke 4:38-44: Taking Time to Heal

Friday, November 8, 2019

I always try to imagine what it must have been like to have Jesus walking among us to heal our physical and psychological ailments.  There were so many of them . . . there are so many of us.  No wonder Jesus had to continually repeat a cycle of retreat and prayer before returning to service.  Two things come to mind in a dovetail as I read these verses today . . . and these thoughts lead to an existential question that came up in my literature class.

Jesus still walks among us healing our ailments . . . God must be quite occupied with all of the problems we continually send to him . . . that is why we rest on Sundays.  Does God rest?  Do we rest in the proper way?

We are continually healed of our afflictions.  We continually receive balm for our spiritual wounds – and our spiritual self is the version of us that matters most in the end.  The enormity and the immensity of God are evident as we see Jesus walking among the people he loves, healing them with his passing.  In today’s hectic life this is sometimes hard to feel.  We are too occupied.  This leads us to the dovetail.

When God created the world, according to the versions of the story we find in Genesis, he rested.  He asks that we rest as well.  In twenty-first century USA perhaps we have too much activity on Sundays.  Perhaps we ought to return to the days of a few decades ago when only nurses, police, fire personal and other emergency personnel worked on the Sabbath – and perhaps we might honor these dedicated rescuers and healers more often. Perhaps we have forgotten to retreat in an intentional way.  Maybe the only times we do retreat are when we are exhausted.  I think this cannot be good.

Jesus rebukes the fever in Simon’s mother-in-law so well and so thoroughly that she immediately returns to her kitchen chores.  It must be wonderful to be able to bounce back in that way from an illness.  Yet this is what we are offered each day on our rising.  Do we respond to this call?  Or are we too exhausted or too occupied with the day’s schedule to hear it?

When we hear Christ invite us away from something in which we are fully engaged, do we turn to him or do we say that we will meet him at the next appointed worship event?  Are we scheduling our prayer and healing rather than living it moment to moment?  Is this what ails our collective and individual selves?

Jesus physically leaves the town of Capernaum but he remains in the hearts of the people whom he healed.  Jesus is itinerant, wandering among us, making home in our hearts and minds, settling into our routines with us, calling us away to sit with him a little while from time to time, asking us to put down our pencils, our papers, out thoughts . . . to be with him.

Perhaps the healing we receive in daily doses does not register so well with us because we are rushing forward in petition to make our next appeal for grace and peace.

Perhaps we do not allow the many blessings we have received to fully permeate our being because we are not quite ready to give up our illnesses.

Perhaps Jesus calls us away just when we begin something we want to complete in order that we make a demonstration of our belief that only he is worth living through and for.

Perhaps . . . but we must take the time to heal in order that we know him.  We must leave Capernaum from time to time when Christ calls to go into the desert . . . to strip away the world . . . and meet our God.

Perhaps . . . but we will never know until we begin.  So let us begin today.

Written on October 22, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite.

Image from: http://universitychurchdenver.org/index.php/articles/article/open-the-eyes-of-my-heart/

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Mark 3: Unhardened Hearts

Monday, February 18, 2019

Chapter 3 of Mark’s Gospel opens with Jesus healing a man with a withered hand and he is immediately criticized for working on the sabbath.  The Pharisees have, in fact, been watching Jesus; they are waiting for him to slip up, to break one of the many rules the old law has laid upon the people.  They watched him closely to see if he would cure [the man] on the sabbath so that they might accuse him.  Jesus not only heals the man, he delivers a quick homily with both his actions and words: Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save the life rather than to destroy it?”  But they remained silent.  Looking around at them with anger and grieved at their hardness of heart, he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand”.  Jesus does not allow his fear or anger to overtake him.  He chooses instead to speak and act with compassion.  He does what is good despite the evil that would prevent him.

When we read this story carefully we understand why Jesus then withdrew toward the sea with his disciples.  We live in a world of easily hardened hearts and for that reason we understand why a large number of people [followed Jesus] from Galilee and from Judea.  We also understand why Jesus warns those he has healed not to make him known.  He knows that he has come to soften hardened hearts.  He understands the Father’s plan and bows to it.  He heals, he counsels, he goes about his work knowing that he embodies a loving God . . . and knowing that his presence stirs up envy and hate.  He knows that his actions ripple into the darkness and disturb those whose hearts are stony.

Jesus appoints the Twelve and charges them with delivering the story of good news and in so doing he sends a wave of his own love into the world to soften the hardness he sees.  He appoints each of us as well.  He returns home where the streets are so crowded that his relatives are so fearful of the hardened Pharisees and scribes that they proclaim: He is out of his mind.   But Jesus moves forward and calls out those who accuse him of drawing his power from the devil himself.  He presents a simple yet effective response and then he warns all that they are in danger of committing a most egregious offense against the Spirit.  His accusers blunder on, hardening their hearts still more; Jesus moves forward as well, calling them to redemption.

When we place ourselves in the thick of these intense stories from Mark’s Gospel, we see that our own lives echo the events on the written page.  We too have been accused unjustly.  We too have been the unjust accusers.   We have both hardened our own hearts and watched with sadness as others harden themselves against us.

In our search for comfort and joy we fall prey to darkness from time to time on our journey.  We succumb to anxiety, impatience, anger, fear and sorrow.  We may let these experiences harden our hearts . . . or we may expect God’s ransom and healing.  We may look for desolation . . . or we may anticipate God’s love.  Psalm 95 is the perfect prayer for us when we feel a certain coldness begin to settle into our hearts.  And for that reason we pray . . .

Just and gentle God, send us the patience we need to hear your word and act in it.  Fortify us in your love.

Good and gracious God, guide us with the wisdom we seek and hope for in you.  Counsel us in your fidelity.

Compassionate and wonderful God, forgive us our endless errors and wanderings.  Call us back to you.

A re-post from February 18, 2012.

For a beautiful music video of Psalm 95 click here, or go to:


Images of hearts in nature are from: http://www.funzug.com/index.php/nature/awesome-hearts-by-the-nature.html

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