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Posts Tagged ‘The Way’


Tuesday, September 29, 2020obedience[1]1 Peter 1:13-16

Obedience

Therefore, gird up the loins of your mind, live soberly, and set your hopes completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ . . . [and] be holy as he who called you is holy . . . for it is written, “Be holy because I [am] holy”.

Peter understands the importance of living in Christ’s holiness perhaps more than any other apostle. Peter both denied Christ and witnessed that Jesus is the son of the Living God. Peter understands the real cost and gift of suffering. Peter believes in the inheritance he holds in his hands, mind and spirit.  Peter comprehends the importance of living in Christ, and the insignificance of the many small problems with which we crowd our days.

God says: Listen to our brother Peter for he has great wisdom for you. Peter understands that real freedom can only be won through obedience to the goodness I have planted in you. Peter understands that straying from my Word is normal and that suffering is unpleasant and painful. Peter also understands that cleaving to my Word can go against your desire for independence . . . but that total and true independence can only be gained through your following in The Way of Christ. There is much more that Peter understands and that he wants to convey to you but for today . . . rest with the idea of obedience. And reflect on when and how and why you have felt most free. Like Peter you will find that the obedience he preaches releases you from the small, petty worries of your days. Like Peter, you will come to more fully understand how obedience releases you from all that constrains and frightens you.

Once we decide to trust God in both large and small matters we free ourselves from energy-sapping anxiety. This is what Peter means by girding our minds and living soberly in the moment. This is the holiness to which Peter calls each of us . . . in the name of Christ.

Tomorrow, Peter tells us about reverence . . .  


Image from: http://metropraise.blogspot.com/2012/09/obedience-is-better-than-sacrifice.html

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Saturday, September 26, 2020

old-steps[1]Amos 5:7-27 and 6

The Three Woes . . . and Restoration

There is an order to nature. Things do not happen by chance. This order comes from God as we hear in the opening lines of Genesis when God brings order and light out of chaos and darkness. We are the people who have walked in darkness and can now see a great light. We are messianic people We bring light to the world, healing to the poor in spirit, hope to the hopeless, faith to those who live in anxiety, and love to those who have been abandoned or betrayed.

We are messianic people . . . and like Christ, we will be wounded in this journey we make toward the New Jerusalem that we see in Revelation. We will be hounded, persecuted, stoned, vilified and mocked, but we will also be healed, transformed, lifted up and brought up high, filled, rejuvenated and restored. Through the prophet Joel, our God tells us: I will repay you for the years which the locust has eaten. (2:25) 

We are messianic people . . . and so many times we hear about restoration being promised from the story of Adam and Eve in the first book of God’s word to the last book of God’s Revelation of the New Jerusalem. We find ourselves slipping into the idea that this restoration comes in the next life but as children of God we are meant to feel this fullness now. The journey will be arduous but we follow where many have gone before us; it is the very journey itself that restores.

We are messianic people . . . and we are the work of God, therefore we cannot be complacent. We must move and act in God, for in this way we become the exit from sorrow and woe not only for others but for ourselves. In serving others from our own wounded-ness and from our own woe, we become healers of others and thereby we become healed.

We are messianic people . . . and as healers we have a part to play in the Economy of Salvation, in this Divine Plan of God’s for our happiness. We have an essential part to play in this world and in the next.

We are messianic people . . .a nd so when we experience woe, we know that we will rest in this grief for a time and we also know that there is joy and celebration to be found in the sadness for as children of God know that God turns all harm to good.

We are messianic people . . . and God yearns for intimate union with us. This union, so many times found through sorrow, brings complete and everlasting joy.

We are messianic people . . . and so we pray . . .   

Dearest, loving God, draw us close to you for we wish to be with you always. We know that you are in all things and with all people. We believe that you set all things right. We hope for the perfection of your plan in each of us. We love those who most need our intercession and we understand that by asking for healing for those who need it most we meet you face to face. We are messianic people . . . and so we seek healing and restoration here, now, and for eternity. Amen.


Adapted from a reflection written on December 30, 2007.

The journey is arduous but we follow many who have gone before us.  The steps of The Way are well worn . . . and it is the very journey itself that brings restoration.  To read a simple reflection on Hosea 6 and the steps for spiritual restoration, click on the image above or go to: http://upwordtogether.wordpress.com/2013/08/02/steps-for-spiritual-restoration/  This site also archives a one-year study of the Bible beginning at: http://upwordtogether.wordpress.com/2012/08/

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Thursday, August 27, 2020

wisdom-2[1]Proverbs 1

The Value of Wisdom

In the first chapter of Proverbs we find many references to knowledge as the source of wisdom and of how fools turn away from knowledge.  The last verses even describe God as one who mocks the foolish. In truth we know that we mock ourselves, we mock our creation as a Child of God, we mock the very image of God when we turn away from knowledge and understanding.

For as Isaiah reminds us (55:11), God’s word does not return empty.  My word shall not return to me void, but shall do my will.  Jesus shows us this in his every act and word.

I am thinking about the hope that we hold and enact each time we step into our work day, each time we discipline ourselves, each time we enact the word we hear each morning on our rising from our creator.

In Proverbs 1 we see: words of intelligence, just and honest, knowledge and discretion, hearing and learning, wisdom and instruction . . . this is God’s Word to us.

In Proverbs 1:13 and 15 . . . All kinds of precious wealth shall we gain, we shall fill our houses with booty . . . My child, walk not in the way with them . . .

In verses 20 to 33 Wisdom warns us of the danger of rejecting her works. As we read these words we are reminded of the Gospels where we see Jesus, God’s Wisdom, rejected so many times because he did not conform to the culture of the corrupt hierarchy, because he called the comfortable to make room for the poor, because he turned the contemporary society on its head. He still turns us on our own heads today.  Each time we feel uncomfortable we know that we are called to take a look at ourselves, to listen to Wisdom, to live patiently and hopefully, to follow the Way Christ shows us. We are called to be Christ to others. We are called to express God’s Word to others to the best of our potential. We are called to share and enact the hope God has planted  in us.

And so we pray . . .

Dearest Lord, when you send us your wisdom, also send us your infinite patience for we humans are impatient. When you extend your hand, we wish to take it. Make your hand visible to us for we humans have eyes but we do not see. When you call to us, make our hearts open to your voice for we humans have ears but do not hear. When you send us Your Holy Spirit, also send the courage and fortitude that we will need to enact your Word each day. For we humans love you dearly and wish to do your will. We wish to send your Word back to you rather than allow it to return to you empty. We ask all of this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


Adapted from a reflection written on November 29, 2007.

Image from: http://jasonmin.wordpress.com/

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Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Strive to enter through the narrow door . . .

Strive to enter through
the narrow door . . .

Proverbs 1:31-33

The Self-Will of the Simple

Now they must eat the fruit of their own way, and with their own devices be glutted. For the self-will of the simple kills them, the smugness of fools destroys them. But the one who obeys me dwells in security, in peace, without fear of harm.

We delude ourselves when we look to God for mercy without justice for God tells us repeatedly through the prophets, and God tells us again through Jesus that the way we must follow is narrow. God tells us that we must do more than believe. We must act.

God says: Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough. After the master of the house has arisen and locked the door, then will you stand outside knocking and saying, “Lord, open the door for us”. He will say to you in reply, “I do not know where you are from”. And you will say, “We ate and drank in your company and you taught in our streets”.  Then he will say to you, “I do not know where you are from”.  (Luke 13:22-27)

We put off conversion thinking that there are many days ahead when we can change our ways, and so there may be. We delay transformation thinking that God understands our intent and forgives our close-mindedness. We postpone coming to fully know God, thinking that it is enough to eat at the table of the Lord, thinking that the Lord does not mind our lukewarm response to the call of the Gospel. In all of this thinking we see ourselves giving over to the self-will of the simple.


For another reflection on the narrow way of God, click on The Narrow Gate tab on this blog, or click on the image and go to: http://dailywalkheavenwards.blogspot.com/2011/10/narrow-door.html

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Thursday, July 30, 2020

pearls[1]Romans 12:9-18

Recipe

Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.  Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.  Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality.  Bless those who persecute [you], bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly; do not be wise in your own estimation.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil; be concerned for what is noble in the sight of all.  If possible, on your part, live at peace with all.

If we are ever in question about where happiness lies, we have our answer here.  Paul gives us a simple recipe for how to turn harm to goodness.

God says: My faithful servant Paul has written out a clear recipe for your happiness.  It is like a string of beautiful pearls; look at each one and examine it.  Spend time today with each of these ideas.  If you are quite occupied, choose a few that puzzle or trouble you and turn them over in your mind and heart.  This recipe for contentment will serve you well.  Return to this circle of gems as often as needed.  Carry them with you wherever you go.  Touch them. Ponder them. They are a gift to you this day and all days.  You may hold them close or pass them along to another.  In either case, they remain forever yours.

Pieter Brueghel de Jonge: Pearls Before Swine

We often look for quick fixes and sure solutions.  Once we surrender our will to God, this kind of struggling ceases to nag at us.  Once we begin to live by the recipe Paul records for us The Way becomes a bit more smooth.  Once we take these words into our hearts, we find that peace settles into us like a welcome guest whom we urge to stay the night.


We might want to spend time with Matthew 7:6 in which Jesus reminds us that we do not want to cast our pearls before swine . . . we want to remember that our recipe for loving as Jesus loves includes the holding of our relationship with Christ as holy. 

Images from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matthew_7:6 and https://www.karipearls.com/pearls-before-swine.html

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Sunday, July 26, 2020

deadsea[1]Matthew 18:19-20

The Isaiah Effect

I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father.  For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. 

In his publication THE ISAIAH EFFECT, Gregg Braden “combines research in quantum physics with the words of the prophet Isaiah and the ancient Essenes” to illustrate that when we come together to petition God in common prayer we find a “correlation between the offering of the prayer and a shift of the events in question beyond coincidence – the prayers had measureable effects”.   The name Isaiah means “the Lord saves: and this prophecy was written at a critical time in the history of the people of Israel.   The universal message brought to us through this prophet is one of salvation”. (Braden, Editor’s Note)

God says: You send me endless petitions and this is as it should be.  I created you. I know your needs.  I know your desires.  I love to transform your life and open miracles to you.  I want to save you in every way each day.  It is true that when you agree to pray at the same moment each day it does not matter if you are physically in the same space. I also created space and I can adapt it to my ends.  It is also true that if the events of your day cause you to miss or even forget your prayer appointment with your friends, you can offer your petition when you realize the missed hour.  I created time and this also I can bend to my will.  I only ask that you agree to gather in Jesus’ name to fold your prayers together in offering.  Leave the rest to me.  Walk in The Way I am showing to you. 

We study God’s universe and develop themes and theories that we call quantum physics.  From these studies we understand that there are more dimensions than the three we experience of pitch, yaw and roll.  We also understand that time it not as linear and unyielding as we like to think.  When we are willing to step out of our own time and space in order to step into God’s world of possibility, we are rewarded.  Let us commit to making a prayer appointment with friends or family members who have a common petition . . . let us send our petitions forward to God . . . and let us be patient enough to witness God’s Isaiah Effect.


Braden, Gregg.  THE ISAIAH EFFECT. New York: Harmony Books. 2000. Print.  Editor’s Note.

Explore the world of the Essenes and read a FRONTLINE article by clicking on the image above or going to: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/religion/portrait/essenes.html

Sandals found in the Caves at Qumran

Sandals found in the Caves at Qumran

For online access to the Great Isaiah Scroll discovered in the Qumran caves in the 1940s and 1950s, go to: http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/isaiah_video

To move around the scroll, click on it, and move the cursor above the citation for the English Masoretic translation at: http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/isaiah#66:6

For seven interesting facts about The Dead Sea, viait: https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/nature/intriguing-things-you-didnt-know-about-dead-sea

To read about The Dead Sea Scrolls discovered in Qumran, and for a video visit to the vault where they are stored, go to the Israel Museum’s Shrine of The Book at: http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/dss_video

Visit with The Community Scroll and watch the video to see how the early Qumran sectarians wrote the word God in their manuscripts.  http://dss.collections.imj.org.il/community_video

To understand the concepts pitch, yaw and roll, and for a visual illustration of their intertwined movements, go to: http://howthingsfly.si.edu/flight-dynamics/roll-pitch-and-yaw

For a site which shares Bible citations about the power of prayer, go to: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/10-awesome-bible-verses-about-the-power-of-prayer/

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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

VLUU L100, M100 / Samsung L100, M100Nehemiah 9:12

Column of Cloud, Pillar of Fire

With a column of cloud you led [your people] by day, and by night with a column of fire to light the way of their journey, the way in which they must travel.

This ancient image of God leading and protecting, guiding and guarding, is one we modern humans can keep close and cherish.  It relieves us of the burden that comes with thinking that we are in charge.  It soothes us with the knowing that God is present, attentive and alert each morning as we rise into the day and each evening as we retreat into the night.

God says: I love to watch over you as you sleep.  I love to nudge you into my way each day of your journey.  I love to protect you.  I love to travel with you.  There is no danger that I fear.  There is no obstacle I cannot overcome.  There is no challenge too great.  There is no prayer too small.  It is my greatest desire to bring you into union with my Word.  It is my delight to see you treading with prayer on the Way I have set before you.  You are the dearest child of my heart.  Do not fear this day.  Sleep well this night.  I am as gentle as the vapor of the clouds and as fierce as the flames of the fire tornado.  And I am with you always . . . even to the end of time.

hiEio[1]Our God appears to us as a vulnerable child who needs protection and guidance from his earthly parents; and yet it is the grown and matured man who heals, protects and guides us, his adopted sisters and brothers.  Jesus lives a life that is both kind and just, and his actions are a clear demonstration of God’s love for each of us.  We must learn to trust this marvelous, mysterious love.

Enter the word trust in the blog search bar and examine how, and who, and what, and why we trust.


For a reflection on Nehemiah 9, enter the word Confession into the blog search bar and explore.

A re-post from July 15, 2012.

For more thoughts on being led by the Holy Spirit, click on the cloud image above or go to the Pinch of Grace blog at: http://pinchofgrace.net/2013/02/23/being-led-by-the-holy-sprirt-of-god/

For a BBC video of a rare fire tornado in Brazil in August of 2010, go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11086299

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i_am_the_bread_of_life1[1]

Wednesday, June 3, 2013

John 6

The Bread of Life for the New Exodus

If there is one chapter in the New Testament which explains Eucharist to us, this is one of the best.  Jesus is the Bread of Life, superseding the manna given in the desert, fulfilling the promise of that eternal sustenance.

Last night in scripture class the lecture focused on Chapters 11 and 12 of Acts in which we read of Peter’s imprisonment by Herod Agrippa for preaching that Jesus lives although he has died.  Herod has just executed the first of the apostles, James, brother of John (often called James the Greater) so Peter’s future looks bleak.   These early Christians understand that Peter is incarcerated and guarded by four groups of four guards – the ancient equivalent of maximum security.  Knowing that Peter will most certainly be executed after Passover and also knowing that they have no political or civil power to help him, the small Christ community comes together to unite in prayerful solidarity with Peter.  They know that they must put his fate – and the fate of their new, little church – in the only place it belongs . . . in the hands of God.  It is delightful to read the description of how Peter is released, where he goes afterward and how the events unravel through the mystery of prayer and of God.  And most importantly, Peter’s Exodus story reminds us that we also may depend on Christ to free us from injustice and darkness.  It reminds us of the importance of Eucharist, the Bread of Life, our sustaining meal for our own Exodus.

When we have the opportunity, we can spend some time with Acts 11 and 12.  Parallels are made by scholars between the Exodus of the Israelites, the Exodus of Jesus, the Exodus of Peter and the Church, and our own Exodus; we might fill several pages with notes of the details of these parallels.  What is important here is to understand that each of us is called to make our own Exodus from the slavery of any darkness which clings to us, from the imprisonment of narrow thinking which oppresses our creativity, and from the addiction of fearing the light which brings us into so much that is good.   And we will need sustenance along the Way.  We will need Eucharist.

Thousands of Israelites lined up in their tribes to march from Egypt through the desert where they were nourished by manna as they moved toward the Promise they understood awaited them in a distant, foreign place.  We are likewise asked to step into The Way, to sustain ourselves on the Bread of Life in order to enact our own Exodus to our own Promise in a strange and unknown place.  Let us rely on Christ, the Bread of Life, to see us through our journey.

Tomorrow, a prayer for our own Exodus . . .


Image from: http://www.closerdaybyday.info/2011/10/john-6/

To read and reflect more on Peter, type his name in the search bar of this blog and explore.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 25, 2008.

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Monday, May 18, 2020

Sandys: Judith

Frederick Sandys: Judith

Judith 16

Praise in Celebration

During the shelter-in-place practiced in much of the world during the Covid 19 pandemic, we know that domestic abuse, and abuse against women in particular, will rise sharply. Let us remember that although we “turn the other cheek” to offense, we never promote the idea that anyone remain with an abuser. Wherever we are, whenever we find violence in the home, we look for help for ourselves or others. A helpful resource and hotline in the U.S. can be found at https://www.thehotline.org/help/ 

Imagine the consternation that would stir in hard hearts if instead of subjugating women we celebrated them as this canticle does: The Lord Almighty thwarted them, by the hand of a female!

Imagine the change that might take place in the world if we allowed our love of God to shine from our eyes and go forth from our mouths: Judith, the daughter of Merari, by the beauty of her face brought him down.

Imagine the world as a place where we helped those who have few or no resources rather than took advantage of the vulnerable: When my lowly ones shouted, and my weak ones cried out the enemy was terrified, screamed and took to flight.

Imagine the impact our lives might make on the world if this could be sung about each of us when we have died: During the lifetime of Judith and for a long time after her death, no one ever again spread terror among the Israelites.

The Canticle of Judith holds dreadful, vengeful, Old Testament imagery that celebrates retaliation against our enemies.  It also reveals the coming of the New Testament when Christ tells us that a new Way has come to dwell in us.  We are to turn the other cheek and pray for those who brutalize others; we are to heal the wounded with soft words and gentle gestures; we must take risks with Christ and trust in the guidance of the Spirit; and we are called to witness to the coming of this newness. We are called to be one of the powerless, one of the vulnerable, one of the abused disciples of this New Way.  And we are called to witness and celebrate God’s gift of discipleship to us.

Judith 16 is a famous canticle of praise for the woman who dares to do God’s will against all advice, against all odds. Her tools are not power and influence that she has gleaned for herself; rather, they are her beauty and her fidelity to God, both gifts from her creator.

Let us pause today to thank God for all we are given.  Let us sing a canticle of praise, and let us imagine how the world would be if we all believed that we can do the impossible by following God’s voice . . . just as Judith does. And let us imagine the impact our lives might make on the world if this could be sung about each of us: During her lifetime, and for a long time after her death, no one ever again spread terror among the Israelites.

Tomorrow . . . a prayer in celebration . . . Pentecost . . .


Image from: http://preraphaelitepaintings.blogspot.com/2009/06/frederick-sandys-judith.html

A re-post from May 18, 2013.

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