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Posts Tagged ‘The Living God’


Daniel 2:9: A False and Deceitful Interpretation

Third Sunday of Lent, March 24, 2019

When I am troubled about a relationship, when there seems to be a cloud of confusion about a particular topic, I go to scripture . . . and I always receive an answer.  Today has brought me clarity to another thorny problem, and I thank God for his quick and clear answer to my question.

Yesterday we spent some time with the second chapter of Daniel in which we discussed how our little gods insist on being carried and served while the Living God carries and serves us.  We reminded ourselves of how faithfully God turns all harm into goodness.  And we wondered if we might – like Daniel – have the courage to take a public stand on thorny issues.  We concluded our thoughts knowing that humility and fidelity will always bring us to mercy and truth.  Today we look at one verse from Daniel’s story: You have framed a false and deceitful interpretation to present me with till the crisis is past.

Too frequently we humans are tempted to throw blame for error on others.  We are too quick to fog the truth.  We are too willing to stand silent while others are persecuted; too happy to shy away from responsibility; to eager to avoid conflict.  This may be a good time to pause in our Lenten journey to evaluate ourselves and our relationship with others in order to assess how well – or how poorly – we speak for truth; and often – or how seldom – we stand for clarity and authenticity.  An examination of our relationship with God and others must be candid and deep . . . and so we ask ourselves this basic question: When or how have we framed a false and deceitful interpretation of a conversation in order to avoid accepting responsibility? 

Further questions flow from an honest evaluation.

  • What have been the consequences of stalling for time while others suffer?
  • Why have we participated in plots of lies and deception?
  • How have we contributed to crises and neglected to act in peace?
  • Who have been our companions in life’s journey: those who act in fear or those act in love?

We learn about ourselves when we take this sort of journey; and we come to know why we sleep in peace or are rattled by doubt.  When we respond honestly to this kind of inquiry we begin to reach into our best selves, and we draw nearer to God.

If our answers to these difficult questions are positive and good then we can take heart and continue to move forward.  If our answers embarrass or shame us, if we are unhappy with the way in which we rely on ourselves more than we trust God, we might take this opportunity to turn away from the little gods that insist on sapping our energy and diluting our will.  We can give all that we are and all that we do to The Living God who loves us so well and so much.

It may be a new experience for us to go to someone we have wronged to ask forgiveness, but this is how we show repentance.

It may be complicated to sort out the truth from the lies in our relationships, but is the first step toward honesty and authenticity.

It may be a difficult journey inward as we strip away pretense to arrive at our true selves, but it essential if we wish to truly know peace.

You have framed a false and deceitful interpretation to present me with till the crisis is past.

Let us pray that if or when these words are spoken about us we will have the spiritual energy to resist the lure of a life lived without blame, that we will turn away from a life lived in shadow, and that we will continue to turn to The Living God when we find ourselves among the thorns.


A re-post from March 24, 2012.

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Psalm 56: Do Not Fear – Part XII

Friday, January 6, 2017

Jacob Wet: Adoration of the Magi

Jacob Wet: Adoration of the Magi

Today is the traditional close of the Twelve Days of Christmas, a day when many cultures celebrate the arrival of the three magi in Bethlehem. In some countries, children place hay-filled shoes outside their front doors to feed the camels of the kings as they pass by on their journey to the Messiah. In the morning, children find that the camels have eaten the hay and the kings have left presents behind in thanks.

The official name of this celebration is Epiphany, a word coming from the Greek word meaning “to reveal”. Our Merriman Webster English definitions are: a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something, an intuitive grasp of reality through something (as an event) usually simple and striking, an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure, a revealing scene or moment, an appearance or manifestation especially of a divine being. Today, on this traditional close of Christmas – a day when God surprises us with the revelation of Jesus’ divinity – we might put aside our fears to understand the full impact of this gift.

Sandro Botticelli: The Adoration of the Magi

Sandro Botticelli: The Adoration of the Magi

In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid. What can man do to me?

Psalm 56 is one we might keep close to hand in 2017 as our personal and public lives unfold. The psalmist speaks to God – just as we might – to tell God that foes trample and oppress him; enemies lie in wait while the mighty and proud dominate his world. The psalmist’s words are distorted; adversaries lurk; opponents plot to end his life. Wickedness, anger, tears, and wanderings. The psalmist records the offenses of a lifetime but rather than despair, he gives his worries to God. Like the psalmist we might place our own woes in our shoes beyond the door as if they were stalks of hay or straw, trusting that the king of kings will exchange them for the promise of restoration.

Your vows are binding upon me, O God; I will render thank offerings to You. For you have delivered my soul from death, indeed my feet from stumbling, so that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

Today, as we reflect on the psalmist’s words, we ask ourselves, “How do we best prepare to enter the land of the living?”

Quentin Metsys: The Adoration of the Magi

Quentin Metsys: The Adoration of the Magi

Throughout Christmastide, we have reflected on the many times and the many ways the Living God assures us that we need not be afraid. Let us keep God’s wisdom always in our hearts and minds as our refuge and rock. Let us keep the centering presence of Christ always as our beginning and our end. And let us keep the healing indwelling of the Spirit as our homing guide.

When we explore other versions of these verses, we begin to understand how we might practice placing our fears in the restorative hands of the eternal, Living God.

Definition from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/epiphany 

For more on the Feast of the Epiphany, visit:  http://catholicism.about.com/od/holydaysandholidays/p/Epiphany.htm 

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Revelation 1: Do Not Fear – Part XI

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Carlo Maratti: John the Evangelist on Patmos

Carlo Maratti: John the Evangelist on Patmos

John brings us his Patmos vision in the first chapter of Revelation.

I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. (verse 1:9)

John tells us why he writes his apocalyptic prophecy.

I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet, saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches”.  (verses 1:10-11)

John describes the Living God’s response to his fear.

When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades”. (verse 1:17-18)

The Cave of St. John on the Island of Patmos

The Cave of St. John on the Island of Patmos

Today, as we reflect on John’s words, we might ask ourselves, “In this new year, how do we open ourselves to the promise of peace God offers to us with the gift of his entry into the world as a small, vulnerable child?”

Throughout Christmastide, we continue to reflect on the meaning of the prophetic description of the Living God as the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last.

Apocalyptic literature can be difficult to take in. For commentary on the Book of Revelation, visit: http://www.usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm?bk=Revelation&ch=

The Island of Patmos Today

The Island of Patmos Today

When we explore other translations of these verses, we begin to understand how our fears disconnect us from the one who is the beginning and end of all.

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1 & 2 Chronicles: Our Sacred History – Part VI

Wednesday, May 25, 2016gods-love-story-1-728

A Prayer in celebration of our story

We have read about the women and men who bring us an accounting of the rise and fall of the human journey along God’s Way. We see the acts and hear the thoughts of those who are willing to share their experiences – both the ugly and the beautiful – of their encounters with the Living God. Today we reflect on all that we have learned as we pray.

Singular and gathering God, we know that you are the beginning and end of our faith. We realize this in your Alpha and Omega presence in Christ among us.

Patient and persistent God, we see that you are the form and substance of all hope that is true and everlasting. We see this in all of creation that constantly strives to return to you.

Healing and transforming God, we understand that nothing matters and no one exists in a world without your Law of Love. We experience this mercy and forgiveness in the goodness that you pull from each harm that we commit or have done unto us.

Teach us to also forgive. Lead us always into the light. Protect us from all that would obliterate us. Love us into your goodness. Bring us your truth. Counsel us in your healing and nurturing way. Re-tell us the stories of our shared and sacred history. Shelter us in the warmth of your embrace. And keep us always ever close to you. Amen.

finger paint heartThe two books of Chronicles have four major portions that show us very human leaders; they illustrate the rise and fall of a people and nation. These verses tell us how division and exile can lead to forgiveness and return. Our sacred history shows us how we will want to learn to replace pride with humility. Our shared story guides us in moving from fear to love. These holy stories are treasures we will want to examine often, and share with the world.

For more on this amazing story, enter the words God’s Love Letter into the blog search bar and explore.

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Mark 9:2-10: Transfiguring Our Lives

Raphael: The Transfiguration

Raphael: The Transfiguration

Second Sunday of Lent, March 1, 2015

In today’s Gospel we hear a clear call to rise to our own potential, to experience our own transfiguration. Since Ash Wednesday we have looked at the early books in the Old Testament to examine our earliest human ideas of the Living God and the special relationship we experience with this deity. This is a God who is not distant or removed; rather, the Lord accompanies us always in all places.

As we read the Gospel at the link above, we consider whether we live outside or inside the Lord’s camp, we consider where and how we find strength, and we examine our own sense of devotion to the Lord. As we reflect on both the Gospel and the ideas brought forward in our Lenten reflections, we consider how we might be transfigured in Christ, and how we might become – or continue to be – good and faithful servants to this Living God. And we determine to bring God to one another as we engage in social justice work.

As we scroll back through the last few weeks of The Noontimes, we linger with those that open the possibility of transfiguration to us in this Easter season.

homeless-peopleRaphael’s painting of the transfiguration was comissioned by Cardinal Giulio de Medici who later became Pope Clement VII. To learn more about the painting and the painter, click on the image.

To learn how we might transfigure our own lives by helping the marginalized, we might learn about the homeless by following the link connected to the image to the left. We might also learn how we can change our lives to include the homeless in a positive way at: http://www.tillhecomes.org/how-to-help-homeless-people/ 

 

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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Martin-Luther-King-Pic-21Jeremiah 22

Do What Is Right

Listen to the word of the Lord . . .

Do what is right and just . . .

Rescue the victim from the hand of his oppressor . . .

Do not wrong or oppress the resident alien, the orphan, or the widow . . .

Do not shed innocent blood . . .

With hindsight we can see where the chosen people miss-stepped. We can easily judge and say that we would have listened to God’s voice to avoid falling into the subtle trap of following little gods rather than the one Living God.

With understanding we can see how the chosen people miscalculated. We can quickly recognize the corruption that pervaded their religious and civic institutions.

With honesty we can see our own slide into first accepting and later following the way that is wide and dishonest rather than the narrow way that is difficult and authentic.

do-what-you-feel-is-rightMany people will pass by this city and ask one another: “Why has the Lord done this to so great a city?”

And the answer will be: “Because they have deserted their covenant with the Lord, their God, by worshiping and serving strange gods”.

What strange little gods do we allow to filter into our decisions? What small little gods rule our days and nights? What insignificant little gods threaten our peaceful relationship with God?

How do we do what is good and right and just?

We take time today to pause and reflect.

For more information on Martin Luther King, Jr. and Eleanor Roosevelt, go to: http://www.biography.com/people/martin-luther-king-jr-9365086#synopsis and http://www.biography.com/people/eleanor-roosevelt-9463366 

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Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mark 13:9-13

John the Baptist Preaching

John the Baptist Preaching

Preaching

Watch out for yourselves. They will hand you over to the courts. You will be beaten in synagogues. You will be arraigned before governors and kings because of me, as a witness before them. But the Gospel must be preached to all nations. When they lead you away and hand you over, do not worry beforehand what you are to say. But say whatever will be given to you at that hour. For it will not be you who are speaking but the holy Spirit.

False preachers might leave us with a negative impression of God’s word. Good preachers leave us with an inspired desire to know more. Each of us is a preacher in that we speak of our relationship with God in every interaction we have with others. Each of us tells the story of the Living God in every action we carry out in the quiet times and places when no one sees what we are doing. Each of us speaks our creed loudly not in our words, but in our care for self and others, and in our trust in the Spirit of the Living God.

God says: It is really quite simple. You cannot rid the world of corruption and ruin but you can react to it as the Spirit directs you. Open your mind to the gift of counsel that the Spirit brings to you. Open your hands to my gift of consolation. Open your hearts to my gift of love. Nothing will destroy you for you are my love in and to the world. Nothing will obliterate you for you are my hands and feet in and to the world. Nothing will annihilate you for you are my presence in a world that longs for peace.

As we consider how we live out God’s presence through our words, thoughts and acts, reflect on the preaching you have heard . . . and reflect on the preaching your life brings to the world.

Tomorrow, a prayer for times of tribulation.

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Temple Mount in Jesus' Time

Temple Mount in Jesus’ Time

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Mark 13:1-2

Foretold

As he was making his way out of the temple area one of his disciples said to him, “Look, teacher, what stones and what buildings!” Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be one stone left upon another that will not be thrown down”.

The disciple in this story is not named but his words are recorded. Clearly the temple and surrounding buildings strike him with awe. This is what King Solomon foresaw when planning the temple complex.  It housed the Ark of the Covenant and was meant as a suitable abode for God on earth, a place where the faithful might come to offer sacrifice, to atone, to be in the presence of the Living God. The disciple in today’s story is walking and talking with Jesus – the Living God’s living presence – and yet he focuses on the old order and sees not the presence of God beside him but the stationary temple that no longer wanders with her pilgrim people. Jesus re-directs his disciple’s attention and he also reminds us that these stones, this temple cannot stand eternally.

God says: You worry about your structures, your titles, your possessions and your awards. Turn from them and turn to me. Put aside the power you believe you have consolidated. Put down the tools you use to create your little empires and come to the living one who brings you eternal peace. There is no need for the status and goods you amass. They do not really protect you. They cannot really save you. I am the Living Presence among you. This has been foretold. Heed these words and show that you believe them in every waking moment of every day.

Consider the stones of our thinking that weigh us down. Consider the great buildings to ourselves that will tumble in time. Consider the eternal rest and security that Jesus foretells.

For more information on the Temple Mount in Jesus’ time, or to see the detail in the image above, click on the image or go to: http://www.crossway.org/blog/2012/12/esv-study-bible-artwork-now-available/temple-mount-in-jesus-time-2/

Tomorrow, a reflection on signs of the end. 

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flame RwandaPalm Sunday, April 13, 2014

Romans 8:11

Genocide

Last week the country of Rwanda commemorated the 20th anniversary of horrific genocide not with more invective speech but with forgiveness and reconciliation . . . and with a flame of remembrance.  As St. Paul reminds us, with God all impossibilities become possible. In Christ all hope becomes reality. In the Spirit all that was once dead comes to new life . . . in Christ.

The one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also, through his Spirit that dwells in you.

And so we pray.

As we begin Holy Week, let us determine to change ourselves, to bring the light of change to the world, and to live always in the peace of the Living God who raises all death to new life.

As we enter Holy Week, let us consider how one million dead in Rwanda now rise in the reconciliation of enemies, now live in the acts of forgiveness offered by victims, and in the repentance felt by murderers.

As we move forward into Holy Week, let us pray that we always hear the voice of God. Let us pray that we always see Christ’s light in the darkness. And let us pray that we allow the Spirit to move us as we put the woes and words of the prophet Amos to work for the Gospel of the Christ. Amen.

Rwanda hopes to rise from the ashes of their brutal history to be the light of remembrance, the light of life for Africa and for the world. Now the cleanest and least corrupt country in Africa, Rwanda is hoping to become the Silicone Valley of their continent. Listen here at NPR: http://www.npr.org/2014/04/06/299708652/20-years-later-rwanda-hopes-to-be-a-light-for-the-world

rwanda victimFor more on finding grace and relying on faith after genocide, listen to an interview with the Reverend Celestin Musekura from National Public Radio. Let at: http://www.npr.org/2014/04/04/299054435/finding-peace-after-genocide

For a video story from Euronews describing Rwanda’s reconciliation village, go to: http://www.euronews.com/2014/04/05/rwanda-s-reconciliation-village-a-symbol-of-hope-20-years-after-the-genocide/

Or click on the image above to read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Daniel Flitton, and The Malay Mail Online.

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