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Posts Tagged ‘Shema’


Friday, March 27, 2020

Isaiah 50:6: The Universal Message

He gave his back to those who beat him, his cheeks to those who plucked his beard.  Isaiah 50:6

Jerusalem: The Jaffa Gate

Jerusalem: The Jaffa Gate – For a panoramic view, click on the image and use the tools

What a strange movement this Christ and his followers have begun.  Jesus tells us that we must give so that we might receive, we must die so that we might live, and we must love everyone, even those who wish to see the end of us.  We have a startling newness mixed with an old fidelity. The ancient Shema calls God’s children to give themselves over totally to the God who created them.  The new Law of Love requires only one action of us: that every thought, word and deed come from God’s love alone.  The prophet Isaiah foresees great conflict but it leads to great joy.

Jerusalem has witnessed the arrival and departure of many who would be great.  She has sheltered the dispossessed and given over her citizens to determined raiders.  She has seen dreams rise and fall.  Her walls have held invading hordes at bay and her gates have fallen open too easily, succumbing to the enemy from within.  She has been the epicenter of the world and she has been a trash heap impossible to traverse on horseback.  There is nothing that she has not seen, no fear she has not felt in her belly, no hope she has not lifted to heaven.  And so we find, as we first thought a few days ago, that Jerusalem is a larger than life version of our own lives.  There is no sin she has not committed, no incident she has not tried to hide, no celebration she has not proudly shown to the world and still she persists, held closely as a sacred place by three great religions . . . and it is this universal Jerusalem that plays out the story of our lives, this Jerusalem that shows us – if we look – how we might find redemption beyond suffering.

Paging through this long story of Jerusalem can bring us closer to God; the city offers us herself when she holds up a mirror so that we might see our own defects and virtues, our vices and hopes.  She brings us a universal message of fall and rise – a message we do not want to miss in this most holy of weeks.


For a panoramic view of the Jaffa Gate, click on the image above or go to: http://www.samrohn.com/360-panorama/jaffa-gate-jerusalem/

For more on the ancient Hebrew prayer, type the word “Shema” into the blog search box and choose a reflection. 

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Psalm 108: Steadfastness

Monday, November 11, 2019

When we read this psalm we might recall the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-9 which our Jewish sisters and brothers call The Shemathe listening, or the accepting.  It is intoned as part of the morning and evening prayer and is considered by many to be their most important prayer:  Hear, O Israel!  The Lord is our God, the Lord alone!  Therefore you shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength.  Take to heart these words which I enjoin in you today.  Drill them into your children.  Speak of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest.  Bind them at your wrist as a sign and let them be as a pendant on your forehead.  Write them on the doorposts of your houses and on your gates. 

Psalm 108 bears the description Prayer for Victory, but in my heart it is a call to be one with God in every way possible not because we want something from God, but because we love God and all that he is this much . . . that we dedicate all that we are and all that we hope to be to his work.

My heart is steadfast, God; my heart is steadfast.

No matter what we have done, Lord, you are always present when we ask forgiveness.  May we reflect your steadfastness.

My eyes are truly fixed, O Lord; my eyes are truly fixed.

We are frequently lost but we are found when we look for the searchlight of your eyes calling us to you.  May our lives serve as a beacon to others as we struggle to follow you.

My ears are open, God; my ears are open.

The noise of the world often captures our attention more than the whisper or boom of your voice.  May we answer willingly when we hear your call.

My strength is willing, O Lord; my strength is willing.

There are days when we want to quit, when life feels overwhelming; yet you always buoy us up even as we feel about to drown.  May our lives serve as a lifeline that connects lost souls to you.

My spirit is rising, God; my spirit is rising.

Even when there seems to be no light, even when the darkness seems to have taken over, we feel and know your saving presence.  May we be this presence to those who feel alone or abandoned.

My heart is loving, O Lord; my heart is loving.

We have been wounded many times by being open to your possibilities and yet when we consider the miracles you have wrought in our lives we take up hope again.  May we sing always of your wondrous love for us.  And may we be as steadfast to you as you are to us.

My heart is steadfast, God; my heart is steadfast.

Amen. 


 First written on October 23, 2012.  Re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

For more on persevering and never giving up, click on the image above or go to: http://coachotis.wordpress.com/2010/09/27/ 

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Deuteronomy 11: Wondersthe_shema__god_is_one-652951

Monday, September 14, 2015

Love the Lord your God and always heed God’s charge.

The wonder of God’s love is so easily overlooked, so quickly put aside.

The land into which you are crossing drinks in rain from heaven.

We often think of rain as an obstacle for some activity we have planned, or as a spoiler of an otherwise beautiful day.  In this reading, we pause to remember that it is the rain that nourishes and sustains.

Take these words of mine into your heart and soul.  Bind them at your wrist as a sign, and let them be a pendant on your forehead. 

These are the words we hear echoed with the Shema of chapter 6 verses 4 to 9.

Teach them to your children, speaking of them at home and abroad, whether you are busy or at rest. 

These are concepts we speak to ourselves but that we hesitate to speak to others, especially when we are rushed or tired.

You are about to cross the Jordan to enter and occupy the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you. 

We have been assured a fertile place in which to flourish, a land of promise and goodness.

We have been guaranteed a love far greater than any we can imagine, a love that forgives always, a love that never diminishes or loses interest.

We have been asked to keep these words close and to repeat them to those who follow.

We have been asked to hold God close, to follow God’s way, and to call others to likewise follow.

This request is not a great one when what we receive in exchange is the gift of eternal life, of eternal nourishment, of eternal love, of eternal wonder at the goodness of our God.

A Favorite from Monday, April 26, 2010.

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Mark 12: 28-34: The Greatest Commandmentshema-prayer-post-img_150x150

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Today we conclude our study of Mark’s Gospel with a reflection of the greatest of all commandments. With Mark’s crystalline clarity, we see through all the excess regulations and rules as we also intone: Hear, O Israel!

Jesus cites Deuteronomy 6, “Hear, O Israel . . .” They were and are some of the most sacred words that a man or woman of the Jewish faith can utter. It is the basic principle of the Mosaic Law. Some very conservative Jews today take these words so seriously that they actually “bind them at [their] wrist as a sign and let them be a pendant on [the] forehead.” Perhaps we might write them on our own doorposts as Yahweh commands.

If even Jesus himself sees this as the most basic and most important principle of faith, we must spend more time with this idea. What have we a put before God in our lives? With what have we replaced God? And how do we hope to express this greatest of commandments in our lives today.

Using the scripture links above, we take time to reflect on why Jesus might choose these verses to explain the greatest of all commandments.  Enter the word Shema into the blog search bar for other reflections on Deuteronomy 6

Adapted from a reflection written on April 27, 2007.

 

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Deuteronomy 4:1-2: I am Charging Youscroll shema

February 23, 2015

Moses says to his people: So now, Israel, give heed to the statutes and ordinances that I am teaching you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your ancestors, is giving you. You must neither add anything to what I command you nor take away anything from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God with which I am charging you.

Jesus tells the hypocritical leaders of his time, and he tells us today, that no matter the number of religious rules and practices we might proscribe, with God there is one Law that supersedes all others. But when the Pharisees heard that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered themselves together. One of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:34-40)

God says: When you find yourself caught up in the details of my Law, you can be certain that what you have focused on is something I do not have in mind. My kingdom is one of forgiveness, of healing and of love for all – even, and especially, our enemies. Do as I do – call to those who would harm you. Do as Jesus does – witness to the hypocrisy in the world. Do as the Spirit does – heal the suffering and anxiety you see in your world. With all of this, you will find great peace. Through all this, you will experience deep serenity. Because of all this, you are my great love in the world.

When we spend time today with these verses and reflect on their meaning, we may discover what portion of our lives we withhold from God. And we may also discover how we honestly and fully love God with all we think, all we believe, all we say and all we do.

To learn more about the mezuzah above and The Shema, the most sacred of Jewish prayers, visit: http://www.hebrew4christians.com/Scripture/Torah/The_Shema/the_shema.html 

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

will-religion-become-a-thing-of-the-past.jpg.crop_display[1]Amos 8:11

A Famine of Hearing

Yes, days are coming, says the Lord God, when I will send famine upon the land; not a famine of bread, or thirst for water, but for hearing the word of the Lord.

The Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 begins: Hear, O Israel!  And yet, do we listen? In 1 Samuel 3:11 we are told: The Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle”.  The prophet Isaiah tells us Isaiah 30:21: Your ears will hear a word behind you, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right or to the left. From Jeremiah 19:3: Hear the word of the Lord, O kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold I am about to bring a calamity upon this place, at which the ears of everyone that hears of it will tingle.  And Ezekiel 12:2: Son of man, you live in the midst of the rebellious house, who have eyes to see but do not see, ears to hear but do not hear; for they are a rebellious house.  Zechariah 7:11: But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears from hearing.  And Jesus in Mark 4:23: He who has ears to hear, let him hear.  And yet . . . do we listen?  What is the origin of our famine of hearing?

God says: When a large crowd was coming together, and those from the various cities were journeying to him, he spoke by way of a parable: “The sower went out to sow his seed; and as he sowed, some fell beside the road, and it was trampled underfoot and the birds of the air ate it up. Other seed fell on rocky soil, and as soon as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture. Other seed fell among the thorns; and the thorns grew up with it and choked it out.  Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.” As he said these things, he would call out, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”  (Luke 8:4-8)

For millennia God has spoken to us.  We humans have the spiritual ears to hear.  Let us be bearers of the word, witnesses of the kingdom, and carriers of the Good News.  And let us do all that we can to end this famine of hearing.

For more information about The Shema, visit: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/shema.html or enter the word Shema in the blog search bar and explore.

For a commentary on the famine of the word (“Will Religion Become a Thing of the Past”), click on the image above or go to: http://www.ucg.org/commentary/will-religion-become-thing-past/

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012 – Deuteronomy 6 – Fidelity

TheShema[1]Today’s readings are all about fidelity.  Isaiah 54:1-10, Psalm 19, Psalm 30, Psalm 113, Hosea 2:21-22, Luke 7:24-30.  In DAILY REFLECTIONS FOR ADVENT & CHRISTMAS: Waiting in Joyful Hope 2010-2011, Robert Morneau writes about these readings: We need blessed assurance, an anchor that provides stability in a turbulent and changing world.  Is there anyone or anything that we can count on, especially when trials and tribulations fall upon us?  Isaiah the prophet provides an answer: God’s love will never leave us nor can the great covenant of peace be shaken.  The blessed assurance of love and peace flows out of God’s immense mercy . . . When this divine friendship is offered, people must make a decision to accept or reject it.  And even if it is rejected, God’s love and mercy is still available and is given as soon as an individual or community turns back to the Lord. 

In Deuteronomy today we hear the wonderful Shema of the Jewish people, the beautiful center of morning and evening prayer: Love the Lord with all your heart and all your soul and all your strength.  Drill this into your children.  Keep this attitude about you at all times.  Identify your home and family as ones who remain in God.  This is also the lesson that Jesus comes to enact among us.  How well does the world know that we are Christ followers?  By the fidelity with which we live our lives. 

3263846883_ea5a42a3af1[1]What we want is blessed assurance, and yet we have it shown to us constantly in the thousand little ways that God intercedes for us each day.

What we want is peace and joy, and yet we have it given to us in the small gestures and large actions the Spirit brings to us each day.

What we want is justice and mercy, and yet we are given it in the thousand little and big ways that Jesus awaits us, calls us, and redeems us.

We look for something we already have.  All we need do is turn back to God in the fullness of body, mind and spirit.  All we need do is rest in God . . . in trust, in hope . . . in fidelity.

Written on December 16, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite.

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