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Posts Tagged ‘salvation’


Romans 10: Disobedient and Contentious People

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

With this Favorite from November 17, 2010, we take a final look at Jesus as the Life we wish to live.

Paul explains here that faith has a way of saving us in a way that the Mosaic Law does not . . . and never will.  It is impossible to reach heaven or to be one with God if we live a life full of checklists that attend to the duties prescribed by a structure.  It is equally impossible to not be saved if we live our lives in Christ . . . if we live a life of acting according the Law of Love . . . even when this Law puts us in danger.

Footnotes explain the references to Old Testament verses, and they also remind us that to speak as Paul does here – or to tell and enact the Gospel story as Paul reminds us we are asked to do – often put us in danger.

In the first century, and in certain parts of the world today, being Christian brings exclusion from the wider society and even the death penalty.  We will need to rely on Christ once we respond to the call to tell the story of salvation.

Among many cliques and groups both now and in Paul’s day, living a life of faith brings scorn and derision.  We will need to rely on Christ once we commit to living a life of fidelity to Jesus’ Way.

In families, work places, schools, and any places where we humans gather, living a life of merciful justice and open trust brings ridicule and disdain.  We will need to rely on Christ once we live as fully in him as he asks.

Paul warns us about all of this today.  The easy, comfortable life spent in and for itself must fall away.  The disciplined life of service that we are called to live is not appealing to rebellious and difficult people. And so we have this clear choice before us: to opt for contention and disobedience, or to choose freedom and salvation in Christ.


Image from: http://lwccyork.com/blog/series/this-is-the-way-of-jesus/ 

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Matthew 3: Seek Newness

Sunday, November 26, 2017

As we prepare for the Advent season . . .

In becoming human, Jesus shows us that our humanity is not an obstacle to our communion with God, but rather the only path to our divine destiny . . . If my heart is not begging, “Come, Lord Jesus” in my ordinary life today, then I cannot pretend I would have recognized him when he first came, and I cannot expect truly to welcome him at is glorious return.  That is why the church gives us this season of Advent, to recognize the longing in our hearts for a salvation which we cannot give ourselves, but for which we can beg today and for ever, “Come, Lord Jesus”.  Fr. Richard Veras, November 28, 2010, THE MAGNIFICAT ADVENT COMPANION (17)

What is this newness that is ours in our humanity?

What is this divinity we have been gifted as part of our destiny?

What is this fulfillment of salvation that we cannot give ourselves?

Today our Noontime takes us to the proclamation of the new kingdom, the baptism of Jesus, and God’s announcement that he is well pleased with the beloved son.

Today we have the opportunity to think about our own place in the divine plan as a human creature.

We have the opportunity to open ourselves to the newness of the season and the cyclic beginning again of a calendar year.

We have the opportunity to make ourselves ready – as Jesus made himself ready – for the days ahead.

Let us heed the words we hear in today’s Gospel . . . So too, you also must be prepared, for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come (Matthew 24:44) .

We will want to receive this newness that brings hope – Come, Lord Jesus.

We will want to be open to this healing that mends mortal wounds – Come, Lord Jesus.

We will want to experience this divinity that manifests in the obstacles of our humanity Come, Lord Jesus. 

And we will want to be awake and ready for the salvation with which we have been graced, the peace and serenity that are our heritage – Come, Lord Jesus . . . and fulfill this longing in our hearts . . .

Written on November 28, 2010.

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2 Chronicles 20Invasion

Jehoshaphat Defeats Moab and Ammon

Friday, September 29, 2017

A Favorite from September 24, 2009.

There are so many ways to invade, so many ways to be invaded.  None of us is impervious to others, no matter how thick or high we build walls.  And once we are pierced, once we lose what we believe to be our identity or our footing, we will need both a strong foundation to stand and recovery strategies.  Jehoshaphat today shows us what to do when even what is rightfully ours is taken away or ruined.

They rose early in the morning . . .

Oh how many times do I wish that my day did not begin before the sun rises; yet this early rising gives me the quiet edge I need to pray and reflect . . . and to begin well.

They went out into the wilderness . . .

Oh how I wish that I were not so often alone with such little sustenance; yet this leaving behind of all comfort gives me the proper feeling of dependence on God . . . a trusting child before a loving parent.

Believe in the Lord your God and you will be established . . .

Countless times do I pray the Creed – I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth . . .; yet still I need the encouragement from God to trust God’s plan.

Believe his prophets . . .

Countless times do we hear prophetic words and want to turn away from them because they call us to a place of discomfort; yet we follow for we know that there is no other Way to the eternal.

Give thanks to the Lord for his steadfast love endures forever . . .

Endlessly do we praise God for his careful providence in healing our willful ways and waywardness.

And the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around . . .

Endlessly do we shelter from the violent storm beneath the altar of sacrifice for our God . . . and after the violence has passed . . . we rise again to find that we have weathered the invasion . . . and that we are saved.

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Judges 1: Cycles of Love

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema: The Women of Amphissa

We know that Judges is the book in the Old Testament that takes us from the time following the death of Joshua through several hundred years of leaders, or judges, who include Gideon, Deborah and Samson, to the time of Jesse, father of David.  It delineates the story of a people struggling to understand themselves and one another, a people who constantly cycle through a loop of straying, repenting, returning, and forgetting.  The last verse of the book speaks about the attitude of the people regarding not only their civic relationship with one another, but also their spiritual relationship with God.  In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what he thought best.  We reflected on this idea several days ago, saying that this is a sentiment we might apply to our contemporary times as we watch events unfold over which we have little and no control. It seems that in all ages we humans . . . do what we think best.  We also see God’s reaction to human waywardness: God allows the weeds to grow up with the wheat.

A number of years ago I came across a painting in the National Gallery’s Pompeii exhibit. It showed maenads, those who stir themselves to frenzy with wine and orgy, and who sink so low that they tear apart their own children.  They are the famous Bacchae of Dionysus, the distraught female followers of this god of wine who exacts revenge on any woman who will not submit to his will.  This Dionysus is the antithesis of the God of Israel.  This pagan god takes what he wants for his own satisfaction, and his followers are too exhausted to see the truth of his and their existence.

We are constantly faced with a choice in our lives because God grants us the freedom to follow or to strike out on our own, to enact love or to deaden our senses with the wine of self-pleasure and self-gratification.

The painting by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadea entitled The Women of Amphissa shows the exhausted maenads as they awaken the morning after a night of mad running through the hillsides in rapacious, orgiastic delight.  We can see their numbness to the light and to life.  The local townswomen protect them and arrange for them to be returned home unharmed; but the damage has already been done, and they remain powerless, forever in the grip of Dionysus.  They cannot escape from his cruel delight in watching them destroy others.  They have no God who loves them enough to sacrifice himself in redemption of their souls.  There is no Christ who refuses to leave his faithful to do what they think best.

Our God . . . the God of Israel . . . the one God of all of us here is not a God who holds us bound by the secrets or the dark debauchery that surround us.  Our God does not destroy with threats, but rather calls us to grow amid the weeds through faith in God’s own hope and love.  Ours is the God who forgives many times and constantly.  Our God welcomes those who witness and turn to goodness.  Our God does not chain us, does not bind us, does not force us into relationships, and does not take revenge.  Our God brings light, and truth and redemption.  And this God asks us to behave in like manner.  God sets us free to search for God’s goodness with our whole heart and our whole soul, to love or to turn away.  Our God is always hoping that when we do what we think best, we will respond in joyful hope to the call of light and truth and authentic, unencumbered love.

Adapted from a reflection written at the close of 2008. 

For more on the Bacchae, Dionysus and the playwirght Euripides, visit : http://www.mythography.com/myth/glimpse-of-a-greek-god-dionysus-in-the-bacchae-of-euripides/

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Joel 3:17-21: Salvation for God’s Elect

Saturday, May 28, 2016Wonder-and-Amazement

The expression “God’s Elect” seems contrary to the message of Jesus about universal access to God and salvation. We are all given the option to listen, seek, obey and serve. So the expression we see here today may put us out of our comfort zone. We need to think about this.

From the NAB: “This prophecy is rich in imagery and strongly eschatological in tone. . . Its prevailing theme is the day of the Lord.”

From today’s MAGNIFCAT: “Jesus said: ‘I am the gate. Whoever enters me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture’.” John 10:9 The gate to the Lord’s sheepfold is narrow and cut in the shape of a cross. Yet Christ leads the flock safely through to the place of pasture he has prepared for us. . . Two distinct groups follow Jesus as he goes up to Jerusalem. Those who walked with him who ‘were amazed’ are the ones who live the prayer, ‘Look upon us, show us the light of your mercies. Give new signs and work new wonders.’ However, those who walked behind him ‘were afraid.’ Joining with Jesus who gives his life as a ransom for many changes our fear into amazement.”

With God and prayer, fear turns to amazement. We must remember this.

When we turn to God through our suffering, our wonder and awe are increased many-fold. When we see how God provides for us, our faith is increased many-fold. When we dream of prayers God might answer for us, our petitions are answered many-fold. When we love as God loves us, our love is increased many-fold. And so we pray.

Good and gracious God, grant us the patience, the wisdom, and the perseverance to seek the narrow gate and to enter it. May our fear turn to awe, and may we be continually amazed by your goodness. Amen.

Adapted from a Favorite from May 30, 2007.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 30.5 (2007). Print. 

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Isaiah 11: On that day . . .

Thursday, December 10, 2015lion and lamb

“Isaiah wrote during a period of upheaval and general unrest, as the Assyrian Empire was expanding and the northern kingdom of Israel facing decline and imminent disaster.  Judah [in the south] was also vulnerable, although her destruction was ultimately to come at the hands of a later power, Babylonia . . . Isaiah’s primary ministry was to the people of Judah, who were failing to live according to the requirements of God’s law.  But he prophesied judgment not only upon Judah but also upon Israel and the surrounding nations.  On the other hand, Isaiah delivered a stirring message of repentance and salvation for any who would turn to God. (Zondervan 1051)

In reading today’s Noontime we see that only a stump or remnant of David’s dynasty will remain, and this remnant will be in exile; but from this stump will rise the Messiah, the saver of all peoples.  Also in today’s reading we hear that the word of God will first be lost on those originally chosen, and will then find more fertile soil in the gentile nations.  This is a story of disaster giving bloom to fruit – of rejection giving birth to glory.  It is the story of Jesus’ coming and interaction with humankind.  Harm will be turned to good.  Hate will convert to love.  Rejection will be overridden by restoration.  All that has sought to divide will itself be conquered.  All that has been self-seeking will capitulate to union. Emmanuel – God among us – will rule.  Emmanuel – God amidst us – will save.

isaiah 11v1We can take comfort from these words when we find ourselves in situations that seem irredeemable.  We can also find consolation for the times when we feel devastating loss.  God is constantly looking to restore all that is good.  God is consistent in his love and in his insistence in love being the only power which ultimately survives the chaos of our existence.  The message is clear: On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious.  On that day, the Lord shall again take it in hand to reclaim the remnant of his people . . .

We often think of the day of Christ’s coming as some distant time in the next life, but as we recently reflected on God’s power to control all time for all good, we realize that that day may be today or any day.  That day is the day that God wills.  As members of God’s body we come together in the hope that each day may be that day, that all days may be days when we clearly feel and see Emmanuel among us.

spirit1Rather than put our hopes in a distant day when things may come right, when hard hearts may eventually be softened, let us place our hope in this day.  And let us petition our God that each day may be that day.  Let us ready ourselves each morning for his coming.  Let us walk with him through each day.  And each evening as we lay our heads on pillows to slip into sleep, let us thank him that this day has – in some way or other – been that day. 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL STUDY BIBLE (NIV). Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005. 1051. Print.

A favorite from November 7, 2009.

 

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Psalm 146: The Abundant Helper

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Don’t put your life in the hands of experts who know nothing of life, salvation life.

God’s generosity cannot be outdone; God’s love cannot be overcome.

Mere humans don’t have what it takes; when they die, their projects die with them.

God’s hope is eternal; God’s fidelity is everlasting.

God always does what he says – he defends the wronged, he feeds the hungry.

Jesus heals the broken and comforts the abandoned.

God frees prisoners – he gives sight to the blind, he lifts up the fallen.

Jesus calls each of us to pardon as we are pardoned.

God loves good people, protects strangers, takes the side of orphans and widows, but makes short work of the wicked.

The Spirit dwells within each of us, making a place for God’s abundant help to rescue, reconcile and redeem . . . so that we too might take part in God’s great plan of salvation.

generosity_of_god_smallWhen we use the scripture link to explore other versions of Psalm 146, we discover God’s abundant help. We discover God’s great plan for salvation life.

Click on the images to discover more about “Accessing God’s Willing Generosity,” and other thoughts on God’s abundant help. 

 

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Isaiah 57: Ransomstacks of coins

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Sticking out one’s tongue is evidently an ancient sign of mockery and disdain, as we read today in verse 4. It is not new in our modern age. And neither is contempt for the righteous.  Devout men are swept away, with no one giving it a thought.

We often hear Isaiah read out during the season of Advent when we anticipate the coming of the holy one who dwells on high with the crushed and dejected in spirit, to revive the dejected and the hearts of the crushed.  We are told that this holy one does not want to terrify the souls he has made but rather heal their ways, comfort and lead them.  This holy one desires peace. 

The psalm in this morning’s MAGNIFICAT prayer is number 49.  For no man can buy his own ransom, or pay a price to God for his life.  The ransom of his soul is beyond him.  He cannot buy life without end, nor avoid coming to the grave. 

In yesterday’s evening prayer is this from Ephesians: I, then, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace . . .

We are pearls of great price, once lost and now found, ransomed at a great price . . . the life of the creator’s own son . . . for we are loved this well.

When it appears as though our many works go unnoticed or are pointless in the storm of life, we must rely on the fact that God notices all.  When it seems as though those of evil ways win and those of peaceful ways lose, we must trust God to take a proper accounting and to ransom those who are lost.

Adapted from a reflection written on Thursday, July 2, 2009.

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Ephesians 1:11-14: A Trinity of Love

Trinity Church in Manhattan

Trinity Church in Manhattan

Trinity Sunday, May 31, 2015

The gift of life so lovingly given by God the creator cannot be earned. The gift of resurrection so bravely won by Christ is already ours. The gifts of the Spirit’s comfort and solace live within without our asking.

The miracle of creation cannot be understood except through God’s burning wish to have our companionship.The miracle of rescue cannot be believed except through Jesus’ passionate sacrificial love.The miracle of love’s abiding presence cannot be experienced fully except through the consuming yet life-giving fire of the Spirit’s gifts.

On this Trinity Sunday let us remember that as Jesus’ sisters and brothers in the Spirit we are already one in, through and with God.

In Christ we were also chosen . . . and so live with one another in Christ.

You are destined in accord with the purpose of God who accomplishes all things according to God’s will . . . and so live in accordance with this plan of love.

In Christ you also have heard the word of truth and the gospel of your salvation . . . and so believe in Christ’s desire to save all.

In the promise of the holy Spirit, which is the first installment of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s possession, you were sealed to the praise of God’s glory . . . and so act in the life of this miraculous Trinity of God’s love.

4173-trinity_edited.630w.tnWe can spend much of our lives struggling to understand the essence and meaning of the Trinity and still not possess the peace we so earnestly seek. Or we can, today, step into this experience of soothing, restorative life that these mystical three invite us to join. When we step into their life of love, we also step into a new yet everlasting peace, a complete yet always growing serenity, an immense yet intimate joy. The miraculous three offer this invitation today to all of God’s creation.

Use the scripture link to read other versions of Paul’s words and determine to live in and with and through this miracle of Trinity love.

Click on the image of Trinity Church in Manhattan above to learn how this place of sanctuary brought comfort, healing and peace in a time of deep suffering and intense pain. 

While spending time with this mystical concept, reflect on the image below. Find the three persons of the Trinity. Carry the story of Trinity Church and your thoughts about Paul’s words with you as you move through the coming days. 

the-holy-trinity

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