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Posts Tagged ‘sorrow’


Ascension Sunday, May 16, 2021birds-watercolor-painting-giclee-poster-gift-idea-two-sparrows-home-decor-joanna-szmerdt

Matthew 10:29-31

Every Hair

Jesus taught us, saying: Can you not buy two sparrows for a penny? And yet not one falls to the ground without your Father knowing. Why, every hair on your head has been counted. So there is no need to be afraid; you are worth more than two sparrows”.

In this short citation of Jesus’ words, we learn all that we need to know about living life and about being watchful.

ONE: Nothing can be concealed from God. The Creator knows all that we think and do. The Creator understands our most secret motivations. Why do we try to hide anything we do or anything we think? Secrecy is futile in the kingdom.

Christ walks always with us, calling us forth in the name of the Creator. The Spirit remains in us, filling us with life eternal.

TWO: Nothing we do goes unnoted by God. The Creator marks both our pain and sorrow, our happiness and joy. Why do we persist in relying on our own small forces when we have the omnipotence and omniscience of the Creator buoying us up?  Reliance on self is meaningless in the kingdom.

Christ walks before and behind us, guiding and protecting in the name of the Creator. The Spirit hovers, abiding and consoling with love everlasting.

If God notes even the falling of a sparrow’s feather, how much can our anxiety and willfulness accomplish? How far will our stubbornness carry us in comparison with the power and strength of the Spirit?

If God numbers every hair on our heads, how much do we think we can hide what we do not like about ourselves?

How much will our separateness gain for us in comparison with the unity we have in God’s love? Secrecy and too much reliance on self will always be trumped by humility, generosity and love in the kingdom. Let us live as if we believe that God has numbered our every hair.


Image from: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/birds-watercolor-painting-giclee-poster-gift-idea-two-sparrows-home-decor-joanna-szmerdt.html?product=greeting-card

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Saturday, March 13, 2021

Amos 5:18-27

mourning_into_dancing_wide_t[1]Second Woe

Sakkuth and Kaiwan are ancient names for the planet Saturn and scholars believe that this pagan worship was a custom taken from the Assyrians. Israel turns away from the God who created her and turns toward little gods who have no power to save. Israel enters into cultic practices and leaves God’s love behind. Israel forfeits all that makes her special and chooses immediate and fleeting gratification.

God says: Even when you forget me for long years I will never forget who or where you are. Even when you put obstacles in my way I still accompany you. I continue to call you, I persist in waiting for you. You speak of disappointment and woe but I will turn these into dancing. You believe that you are alone and abandoned but I will never leave you. Despite of, or even because of, all that plagues and gnaws at you, turn and return to me.

The prophet Amos warns us today of the subtle ways in which we begin our journey away from all that converts our sorrow into joy.

O LORD, you brought me up from the grave you spared me from going down into the pit . . . weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sack cloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever. (Psalm 30)

Tomorrow, the third woe of Amos.


For more on Sakkuth and Kaiwan, go to: http://www.bombaxo.com/blog/?p=15 or https://www.biblicaltraining.org/library/sakkuth-and-kaiwan

See TURN MY MOURNING INTO DANCING by Henri Nouwen as an excellent resource. Published in Nashville, TN by Thomas Nelson, Inc. in 2001.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

The Fifth Day of Christmas

zephaniah-3-17[1]Zephaniah 3:15-18

Among Us

The Lord, your God, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear . . . The Lord your God is in your midst a mighty savior; he will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in his love, he will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.

Misfortune becomes blessing. Sorrow becomes gladness. Fear becomes joy.  One who renews his vow to rescue us is in our midst. And he is filled with joy at this union.

Read the Zephaniah – God’s Balance page on this blog and think about God’s promise to be with us always.

Enter the words In Our Midst in the blog search bar and spend some time reflecting on how we know that God is among us . . . and consider why we are Christmas people.


Image from: http://heisourstrongtower.wordpress.com/2012/08/30/jesus-calling-august-30th/zephaniah-3-17/

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Second Sunday of Easter, April 19, 2020

Jesus%20with%20the%20Disciples_discipleship[1]Matthew 13:16-17: Privilege

Discipleship work is the fulfillment of Old Testament covenant.  It is arduous and difficult work fueled by God’s promise to ancient peoples.

Discipleship work is the flourishing of the voices of the prophets.  It is expectant waiting rising from God’s promise to faithful servants.

Discipleship work is full of conflict.  It is all raw edges and bare emotion.  It is holding one’s self in and pouring one’s self out in the same crucible moment.

Discipleship work is full of power.  It is primal force reckoning with modern circumstances. It is the bowing to God’s omniscience and authority while loving God’s marginalized.

Discipleship work is chaotic and serene.  It is point counterpoint all in one graceful movement.  It is dire and blessed.  Dangerous and supremely secure.  It is human and divine.

dare-to-be-a-disciple-story-3-pic[1]Discipleship work is God’s work.  It is our sublime celebration of Easter.

Discipleship work is our full service to God’s humanity.  It is the highest of callings.

Discipleship is sorrow.

Discipleship is joy.

Discipleship is privilege.  Purely and simple.  Clearly and authentically.

Let us respond to God’s call to discipleship with readiness, zeal, and joy.


Tomorrow we will begin to reflect on the gifts we receive through our work as disciples.  We begin with Meekness.

For more reflections on our unique privilege of service to God, go to the blog search box and enter the words Disciple or Discipleship.

Images from: http://www.blakeandkaty.com/buckshot-discipleship and http://dna-21.org/

A re-post from April 19, 2013.

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Hosea: Love


Ash Wednesday, February 26, 2013

Hosea: Love

3[1]Lent calls us to examine who we are and what we do.  Lent asks us to step forward in willing vulnerability to God.  Lent uses unusual images to help us see truths so basic that they are easily overlooked.  With the story of Hosea and Gomer we are given the opportunity to reflect on the beauty and integrity of God’s love.

This prophecy was written by a man married to a woman who found it impossible to remain faithful.  When we read these verses with care we also examine the distance that exists between the two people in this relationship and the distance we maintain in our relationship with God.  We have the opportunity to question whether we are determined to keep God at arm’s length . . . or whether we want to invite God into the most interior part of ourselves.  We consider who, and what, and how, and why we love, or if we even love at all.

As we examine the quirks of the relationship between Gomer and Hosea we might also examine our relationships with others – are we the inconstant wife, Gomer, in all we say and do – or are we more like the sorrowful prophet, Hosea, lamenting loss yet insisting on hoping for the fulfillment of promises made?

From La Biblia de América: The unhappy marital experience of Hosea, who remains faithful to Gomer despite everything he knows about her, serves as the context for an extraordinary deepening of the people’s relationship with God through the perspective of love’s stormy psychology.

Each of us has experienced love in some form or another: filial, parental, sibling, conjugal, familial, spiritual, and even collegial and civil.  Love manifests itself in many contexts from sexual and intimate to public and patriotic.  We express love of people, love of things, and love of ideas and concepts.  We also express love of God.

Reading the words of Hosea gives us the opportunity to experience a hope which is laced with sadness.  Listening to Hosea’s lament that weaves sorrow and joy into an intricate pattern of sharp edges and smooth surfaces, we perceive the bittersweet image of deep misery interwoven with soaring expectation.

Allowing the words of this prophecy to sink into our being, we might move closer to perceiving the amazing generosity with which God pardons the people who consistently betray him.  Hosea describes his unrequited love in such a piercing way that we cannot avoid its impact; yet he remains open to the possibility that not only may Gomer return . . . but that she will love him as he loves her.

When I imagine myself in God’s unrequited place, continuing to call as Hosea does, I begin to feel the depth . . . and height . . . and breadth of God’s love.  We are well and truly loved.  Let us spend some time with Hosea today to experience this kind of constancy and steadfastness.  This is not a love which allows itself to be abused; rather, it is a love which loves so much that it risks rebuking the abuse, it risks revealing its vulnerable self, it risks all for sake of the conversion of the beloved.

This is truly an immense and wondrous love.  Let us consider today if we will reject or accept this love.


Tomorrow . . . Hosea and Covenant Love

To better understand Gomer and Hosea and this prophecy, visit the Hosea – Alliances page on this blog at: https://thenoontimes.com/the-book-of-our-life/the-old-testament/the-prophets/hosea-alliances/

For more on Gomer and Hosea, click on the image above or go to: http://womeninthescriptures.blogspot.com/2011/08/gomer-and-lo-ruhamah.html or go to http://bible.org/seriespage/hosea

LA BIBLIA DE LA AMÉRICA. 8th. Madrid: La Casa de la Biblia, 1994. Print.

First written on Wednesday, May 27, 2009.  Revised and posted today as a Favorite.

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Sirach 40: Joys and Miseries of Life

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Southern Oregon, USA: Ten Years After the Biscuit Fire

As he reaches safety, he wakes up astonished that there was nothing to fear.  (Verse 7)

If only we might remember this constantly when deep grief or great sorrow overtakes us.

Each time we find that we have come through the fire . . .

We can look back to see where we were when we first felt the warning frisson that something was arriving at our door that would call to our best self that aches when stretched.

We can think back to feel the pain as we squeeze through the narrow gate of the life of Christ to which we are called.

We can look back to see ourselves exhausted and collapsed . . . searching for familiar landmarks with foggy eyes.

We can remember the sense of drifting that accompanies the re-awakening.

We can sense that our suffering self has connected with our healing self.

And we can look forward to the next encounter with one of life’s miseries . . . out of which will grow one of life’s joys . . . into which we go to meet our God.  What do we fear . . . ?

As she reaches safety, she wakes up astonished that there was nothing to fear.  

If only we might remember this constantly.


Written on October 9, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

To learn more about nature’s recovery of the Biscuit Fire in Southern Oregon, click on the image above or go to: http://oregonstate.edu/terra/2012/10/the-biscuit-fire-10-years-later/

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Ezekiel 29Surprise

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The stela of Pharaoh Hophra: open air museum of Memphis, Egypt

A sea monster lives in the Nile, is subdued and caught by God, and is then thrown back into the river as food for scavengers.  Bible commentary will help us to sort out the prophet’s imagery that we see in chapters 29 through 32 but as we focus on this opening portion we may learn something useful.  In this chapter dated to January of 587 B.C.E. Ezekiel was likely responding to events which took place surrounding Pharaoh Hophra’s unsuccessful attempt to capture Jerusalem from the Babylonians. (Mays 616)  Tiny Israel finds herself between two warring giants . . . and an enemy leader becomes the vehicle of unexpected good fortune.  This dilemma is one that may sound familiar to us.

See!  I am coming at you . . .

In all ways and in all times we must be prepared for God’s voice to come to us from unexpected quarters.  Life has a way of springing the unanticipated upon us in both negative and positive ways.  Family members fuss with one another; trusted colleagues become adversaries.  Sworn enemies turn out to be partners in a common cause.  Betrayal comes from the place we least expect it . . . as does hope. God uses whatever means he must to reach us . . . and God seems to love surprises.

See!  I will bring the sword against you . . .

During a very sad time for our family recently, I heard myself repeating to loved ones: God does not want us to suffer.  God does not plan disaster. God loves us so dearly that he suffers with us.  We are not alone.  God is in charge.  When we are in deep anxiety or deep sorrow we cannot see what stands before us.  And sometimes the well-known faces and familiar phrases cannot penetrate our grief.  It is then that God will surprise us . . . when we least expect it.

The Niles are mine; it is I who made them, therefore see! I am coming at you . . .  

Apries/Hophra Obelisk: Rome

The prophet Isaiah reminds us . . . Those whom the Lord has ransomed will return and enter Zion singing, crowned with everlasting joy.  (Isaiah 35:10God comes at us with all he has in his arsenal to reclaim and redeem us.  God uses surprise, inversion, and paradox to reach us.  God is persistent; God does not give up or give in.  We cannot out-wait or out-maneuver God.  In the end, God is all, does all, sees all and knows all.  God loves us intensely and well.  God wants us to experience joy.  And God loves us enough to use even our enemies to speak to us when we are determined to ignore the message we are meant to hear.

See!  I am coming at you . . . I will use anything or anyone to penetrate your sorrow in order to bring you joy . . . I will do whatever it takes to get your attention . . . I love you that well . . .


A re-post from November 16, 2011.

Images from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apries and http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/utp/the-glory-departs

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 616. Print.

For more information on the Pharaoh Hophra, follow the link on the images or see this link: http://www.formerthings.com/hophra.htm

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Isaiah 26Lament and Divine Response

Friday, November 9, 2018

Paraphrasing from the HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY: An extensive song of lamentation is followed by an assurance that judgment of the nations will be complete, and that the answers to prayers of Israel’s past will be answered.  It expresses hope for a time of peace and for restoration.  “Within this portrayal is a remarkable affirmation that ‘your dead will rise’ and that divine light will fall on the darkness of the realm of the shades of Sheol . . . The language is a hyperbolic expression of confidence that God will restore the nation of Israel [and] . . . leaves open the other possibilities for later readers who contemplate a more explicit conception of the restoration of the dead with the religious beliefs of Judaism and Christianity”.  (Mays 509)

These words are particularly poignant as yesterday our family and friends formally marked the arrival and death of a little one.  As individuals and as a community we raised our lament to the heavens; and just as surely we received our response.  The words from Isaiah today bring us what we yearn to hear.

He humbles those in high places, and the lofty city he brings down . . .

No amount of wealth or power can protect us from the natural course of life which is to die in order that we rise again in full and eternal life.

The way of the just is smooth; the path of the just you make level . . .

Those who seek refuge in God alone when the storm of life descends on them will always find a secure sanctuary against the darkness; and they will rise again to join others in full and eternal life.

My soul yearns for you in the night, yes, my spirit within me keeps vigil for you . . .

Sinking into our loss, we cry out in our pain as the darkness descends; yet within us the Spirit kindles fresh hope and we know that we will rise again in full and eternal life.

O Lord, you mete out peace to us, for it is you who have accomplished all we have done . . .

Turning to the source of our being and looking to the goal of our journey we keep our eyes and hearts fixed on the One who alone calls us forward into full and eternal life.

Salvation we have not achieved for the earth, the inhabitants of the world cannot bring it forth . . .

Recognizing that we are powerless, we turn to God, the source of goodness and mercy and light, knowing that we will rise again in full and eternal life.

But your dead shall live, their bodies shall rise; awake and sing you who lie in the dust . . .

We call out to our loved ones to join us, knowing that we will rise again in full and eternal life.

For your dew is a dew of light, and the land of shades gives birth . . .

God answers our wail of lament.  With swift and unswerving fidelity our God reaches down to pull us up out of the darkness . . . to bring us into the light of his full and eternal life.

Let us leave the darkness behind, let us drink in the newness of God’s morning dew . . . and let us abide in the light that fulfills in us the promises of God’s full and eternal life.  Amen.


A re-post from October 7, 2011.

Mays, James L., ed.  HARPERCOLLINS BIBLE COMMENTARY. New York, New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1988. 509. Print. 

Images from: http://luminousinspiration.wordpress.com/2010/05/03/nothing-else/

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Luke 11:5-13: Prayer


Luke 11:5-13Prayer

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Prayer is at the center of human petition.  Cries of anguish rise from the human throat.  Cries of pain rise from the human heart.  In today’s Noontime Jesus teaches us why we should petition the Father.  And he teaches us how.  Jesus reminds us that prayer is always answered.  And he promises that we will all have answers for our questions . . . when we seek.

We ask for change . . . Jesus is the change we seek.

We ask for peace . . . Jesus is the peace we crave.

We ask for mercy . . . Jesus is the mercy that heals.

We ask for an end to sorrow . . . Jesus is new life that restores.

Ask and you will receive . . . we are impatient with God’s time and space.

Seek and you will find . . . we want to be in control rather then become one with God’s timelessness.

Knock and the door will be opened to you . . . we want to know all the answers before we step forward in faith.

How much more will the Father in heaven give . . . ? God gives us life always and endlessly.

Our human eyes want to see God, and so we do . . . each day in the many small goodnesses that happen in and to us.

Our human hearts want to experience God, and so we do . . . each day in the multitude of prayers we offer and receive.

Our human hands want to touch God, and so we do . . . each day in the many small acts of compassion and healing that we perform.

May we be in constant prayer.  May we live in mercy.  May we know peace.


A re-post from September 29, 2011. 

Image from: http://www.blackburn.anglican.org/more_info.asp?current_id=245

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