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Posts Tagged ‘thanksgiving’



2 Maccabees 10Battle – Part IV

Antiochus IV Epiphanes

Friday, March 9, 2018

Second Maccabees is a narration of the revolt led by the Maccabeus family in the second century before Christ.  Part of this narrative is a description of the political intrigue accompanying the physical battle.  We can imagine the plotting and counter-plotting that took place.  Chapter 10 describes how the faithful purified and re-dedicated their temple after they removed the profane statues placed in the sanctuary by Antiochus Epiphanes.  We arrive breathless at the end of the chapter to read: . . . with hymns and thanksgiving they blessed the Lord who shows great kindness to Israel and gives them the victory. 

We will find ourselves from time to time in a place of battle, unable to fully hear or see in the dust and din of clashing fears and realities.  In these times of cacophony, it is difficult to hear the difference between the voice of God and our ego-centrist, inner voice of survival.  For this reason, we turn to God frequently during our days and nights so that we might best hear God’s voice and respond to it rather than our own.  During times of stress, we might fall back on John 10 in which Jesus tells us that faithful sheep will know the voice of the true shepherd so well that they will follow no other.   This shepherd we follow is one who forgives continually, calls endlessly, and waits patiently.   This shepherd will not lead falsely, will not abandon the flock, and he will go out in search of the last lost sheep to return it to the fold.

We are in the beginning of our Lenten journey and we are just commencing to unpack the baggage we have been carrying all winter.  What is it we need to re-sanctify and re-pack?  What is it that we need to sweep away forever?  What is it that brings us such confusion that we cannot decide how to handle it?  What are the battles we can wage on our own, and what are the battles we must hand over to God?  Which of these battles are psychological?  Which are emotional or physical?  And which are purely spiritual?

All of these questions ask us to examine our own motivations and actions, but the most important questions are these. How do we thank God under all circumstances for the gift of who we are and what we have been called to be? What hymns of thanksgiving do we sing to bless the Lord?  How do we tell this one who shows us great kindness and who gives us victory in our battles, that we are God’s and God’s alone?

Adapted from a reflection written on February 23, 2010. 

Image from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiochus_IV_Epiphanes

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Psalm 89: A Hymn in Time of National Struggle – Part IV

Friday, January 26, 2018

Rembrandt van Rijn: The Reconciliation of David and Absalom (2 Samuel 14)

Finding the Servant

Perhaps the most heartbreaking part in the story of David’s rise and reign is the accounting of his son Absalom. As Nathan had predicted, this favored child hatches a plot to do away with his father. In Chapters 16-17 we see the counselor Ahitophel create double deceit as the writer records, Any advice that Ahithophel gave in those days was accepted as though it were the very word of God; both David and Absalom followed it. Later we read that Ahithophel takes his own life (2 Samuel 17:23) and we consider, when we plot to take down our enemies, are we prepared to have that plot turn against us?

Men prepare for conflict. The battle ensues and Absalom dies. Messages fly. David mourns and shames the soldiers who have saved him and the city. The world turns on its head. David’s nephew Joab steps in to bring the world back into focus and life settles into a series of defensive moves in which David maintains the kingdom in a series of skirmishes and disagreements. In the closing chapters of this long tale we read the beautiful song of this faithful servant’s thanksgiving. And so we consider, when we reflect on our lives with all of its peaks and valleys, can we recognize God as our rock, fortress, deliverer and refuge, or do we curse our circumstances and blame bad fortune on others?

Francesco Pesellino: The Death of Absalom

Samuel, David, Bathsheba, Nathan, Joab, Ahithophel, Uzza and so many others paint a canvas for us of the faithful servant who stumbles and recovers . . . many times. Through all of this, our loving God  pardons, heals and always abides. In a time when the word of the Lord is rare and visions are scarce in our lives, we might find ourselves in this story. We might listen for God’s voice as we step forward in faithful service.

We hear this story . . . we take it in . . . and then we reply with the psalmist and King David . . . O Lord, I will always sing of your constant love; I will proclaim your faithfulness forever.

Compare other translations of these verses by using the scripture links and drop-down menus. 

Click on the image of David and Absalom for more insights into this story.

To visit the Prayer for Faithful Servants post on this blog, go to: https://thenoontimes.com/2014/03/30/a-prayer-for-faithful-servants/

Tomorrow, God among us.

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1 Thessalonians 3Standing Firm in Faith

Sunday, July 9, 2017

From the MAGNIFICAT Evening Prayer Mini-Reflection: Even today, human beings have no control over storms at sea, and sometimes very little control over storms in the heart.  Only God has the power to still the tempest without and the tempests within. 

In today’s Noontime we can hear the anguish in Paul’s words . . . For this reason, when I too could bear it no longer, I sent to learn about your faith.  There are times when we can bear things no longer, when we must hear from someone, when we must have a sign from God, when we insist on something more than blind faith and wild hope.  Our best antidote to this type of obsessive fear is the act of giving thanks for all that we are and all that we have received from God.  When the storms without and the storms within begin to brew, we must recall the so many times that we are rescued; and we take comfort from knowing that God loves us more than we can imagine.  When we turn to God in thanksgiving we will appreciate Paul’s words: What thanksgiving can we render to God for you? Paul has it right – when the going gets tough, the rocky path suddenly becomes smoother when we praise God.

In the end, what we want most is to know that all is well . . . and it always is when we live in Christ.  So let us give thanks and praise.

In the end, the only thing that matters is that we live in Christ . . . for existing outside of Christ is not the life we are called.  So let us give thanks and praise.

In the end, the only thing that matters at all is that we live with Christ . . . for living without him, living in fear and hopelessness is a life of anxiety and desperation.  So let us give thanks and praise.

Christ is in each of us.  When days are dark, let us give thanks and praise.  When days are bright, let us give thanks and praise.  Let us remain in Christ, in hope, in faith, and in love.  Then perhaps someone will write to us as Paul writes to the Thessalonians of his gratitude that we have remained strong in faith, bold in hope, and merciful in love . . .  For we live, if you now stand firm in the Lord.

Let us also stand firm . . . and let us give thanks and praise.

Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Evening.” MAGNIFICAT. 26.10 (2010). Print.

A Favorite from October 26, 2010.

 

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Acts 2:42-47Community I – Bearing Fruit

Friday, June 9, 2017

Joseph Ignaz Mildorfer: Pentecost

In these days between Pentecost and Trinity Sundays we reflect on the gift of community as oasis. 

This description of the early church when the followers of Christ were still part of the Jewish community and all its tradition is one we might apply to portions of our own lives.  These are little oasis moments we experience on the harsh journey through life.  We need to stop awhile in these times to give thanks in recognition of both the gifts we have received . . . and the gifts we are to the world.

If we spend time meditating on these verses, we might experience a vision of how our own life might be if lived to the fullest.  We ask: What are the gifts we bring to our community?  Do we find our reward for bearing fruit in God’s name and for being gift in return?

As we read these verses, we explore our community of family, friends, neighbors and colleagues and we consider . . . who and what form our community? Whom and what do we include? Whom and what do we exclude?

And every day the Lord added to our number those who were being saved.  Amen.

Tomorrow, words and gestures. 

Adapted from a reflection written on April 9, 2009.

 

 

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Ephesians 6:14-20: A Prayer for Spiritual Warfare

Wednesday, September 7, 201632643-15133-armor-of-god.1200w.tn

Patience and perseverance. These are the qualities we know will open us to God’s nourishing goodness as we wade into daily spiritual warfare. Prayer and thanksgiving. These are the actions we need take as we look to Paul’s words in his letter to the Ephesians.

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other’s spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out. (THE MESSAGE)

When we compare another version of these verses, we open ourselves to the strength that only God can provide.

So stand ready, with truth as a belt tight around your waist, with righteousness as your breastplate, and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. At all times carry faith as a shield; for with it you will be able to put out all the burning arrows shot by the Evil One. And accept salvation as a helmet, and the word of God as the sword which the Spirit gives you. Do all this in prayer, asking for God’s help. Pray on every occasion, as the Spirit leads. For this reason keep alert and never give up; pray always for all God’s people. And pray also for me, that God will give me a message when I am ready to speak, so that I may speak boldly and make known the gospel’s secret. For the sake of this gospel I am an ambassador, though now I am in prison. Pray that I may be bold in speaking about the gospel as I should. (THE GOOD NEWS TRANSLATION)

And so we pray.

When we meet circumstances that overwhelm us, we remember that our fidelity to The Word and our readiness to share God’s promise and hope are the strongest armor we might employ. Resilient God, lend us your strength.

When we stumble over obstacles that threaten our peace and security, we remember that our joy in The Word and our delight in Jesus’ story are the enduring armor we might put on. Confident God, lend us your hope.

When we falter with doubt and anxiety crushes us, we remember that our prayers always rise directly to you. Authentic God, lend us your love.

In Jesus’ name we wait patiently in you. In the Spirit’s power we persist always in you. In God’s name we give thanks always for you. Amen.

 

 

 

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Matthew 20:17-28: The Chalice

Wednesday, February 24, 2016communion-cup_bread

Salome, the mother of James and John, the Zebedee brothers, asks Jesus to give her sons places of honor in the new kingdom; yet she does not fully understand . . . and so Jesus explains the terrible and beautiful importance of this special cup of blessing.

From Psalm 116 (verses 12-18)

What can I give back to God
    for the blessings the LORD poured out on me?

We are accustomed to asking God for favors. Do we think about giving thanks for our cup of salvation?

I’ll lift high the cup of salvation—a toast to God!

We are accustomed to thanking God quietly and privately. Do we think to join our voices with others in praise of God’s goodness?

I’ll pray in the name of God;
I’ll complete what I promised God I’d do,
    and I’ll do it together with God’s people.

We are accustomed to joining in Sabbath prayer and song. Do we think about giving testimony to a broader circle about God’s mercy?

When they arrive at the gates of death,
    God welcomes those who love the LORD.
Oh, God, here I am, your servant,
    your faithful servant: set me free for your service!

bread cupWe are accustomed to approaching each day’s obstacles. Do we think about serving God by tending to the barriers we meet as Jesus does? Do we think about the cup we have asked to take as curse or blessing? Are we prepared to accept the cup that passes before us?

As we think about God’s beautiful and challenging cup of salvation, we remember our Lenten practice. Rather than thinking: “Let us make three tents to contain the joy of God’s wisdom,” let us think instead, “Let us share the joy of God’s great gift of love”.

Tomorrow, the rich man and Lazarus.

 

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1 Samuel 1 & 2: God’s Yardstick – Hannah

Loving Patience

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Tissot: The High Priest and Hannah

Tissot: The High Priest and Hannah

In these opening days of a new year, we look for ways to better see God’s yardstick in our lives, and for ways to leave the world’s yardstick behind.

Who among us will so willingly give away the very gift we have sought for so long a time? Hannah shows us how we might measure our lives in this way. (1 Samuel 1:24-28)

Who among us exults in God’s goodness in the face of adversity so joyfully and without thought of revenge? Hannah models for us the words we might use in gratitude to God. (1 Samuel 2:1-10)

When we use the scripture links to explore these well-known words and the verses that surround them, God’s yardstick becomes more clear and our lives become more focused, peace-filled and joyful. Adversity brings us less anxiety to bring us instead an amazing sense of serenity. Ugliness falls away to give birth to quiet beauty.

When we spend time with Hannah’s story and her yardstick, power and status melt away to reveal the incalculable value of gentle persistence and hopeful love. Hannah, faced with the cruelties of life, allows perseverance, faith and hope to transform her grief. In this way, she offers us her life as a new measure of success . . . a measure that foreshadows the great love of Mary, mother of God.

Using this link, spend time with 1 Samuel 1 & 2 and look for Hannah’s yardstick. To learn more about her story, click on the image above.

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James 5:13-15: Union in Prayer

Saturday, October 31, 2015Pray-Together

When we suffer, James tells us . . . we must pray.

When we celebrate . . . let us sing praise.

When we are ill . . . we are to ask for anointing.

When we are discordant . . . we must come together.

When we worry . . . there is nothing but to turn to God.

When we hope for the forgiveness of sins . . . we must also ask for redemption.

Suffering is our road to Christ . . . let us not avoid it.

red heart bibleJoy accompanies us along the way . . . although we may not at first feel it.

Paul reminds the Philippians and he reminds us: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)

So let us put aside our divisions and celebrate even as we suffer. Let us lay down our enmities and pardon even as we are pardoned. Let us dialog with our enemies and turn all anxiety over to Christ; and let us celebrate our union in the Spirit. Let us celebrate our union in prayer.

Use the scripture link to compare varying versions of these verses and let us find union in prayer and praise.

 

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Matthew 8:14-17: Casting Outjesusheals-300x298

May 13, 2015

Those who suffer from leprosy, those who are scorned and separate. Those controlled by circumstances beyond their reach. Jesus interacts with all, no matter their status or condition, and for this we are grateful for how are we to know when we will number among them? Today we watch as Jesus ministers to those possessed by the forces of other worlds, those driven by powers from other dimensions, those tortured by fears and anxieties that live within.

When we realize that we are in a relationship that takes us beyond our depth, let us ask God to guide us home.

When we feel we are pushed beyond limits that are already stretched too far, let us ask Jesus to cast out our fear.

When we believe we are beyond healing and peace, let us ask the Spirit to bring us restoration and serenity.

He took our infirmities, he bore our diseases . . .

As Christ heals so many among us with the hope of Easter resurrection, we give thanks for this great casting our of worry and pain

He cast out spirits with a word and cured all who were sick . . .

As Christ steps into shoes that we find too large and shoulders burdens we find too heavy, we give thanks for this great love that so eagerly casts out the pain and sorrow of the world.

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