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Posts Tagged ‘The Word’


Mark 4:26-29: God’s Harvest of Love

Friday, November 29, 2019

The Gospel of Mark is beautiful in its simplicity.  Because of its brevity, we may think of it as less weighty; yet here today we have an example of the depth of Mark.  His is the only Gospel which holds this simple parable.

In the Biblia de América, the footnotes tell us that the purpose of this allegory is to give emphasis to the important work of humanity, the grains of wheat.  The faithful are to proclaim the Word of God . . . while the success of this work depends solely on God.

This gives fresh importance to our mission.  We are seed.  We are planted.  To the best of our ability and as best we are able in our environment, we are to draw from our roots in order that we might send forth a blade . . . which in turn yields a grain.  In due season, this grain will ripen for the harvest.

This cannot be more simple.  It cannot be more clear.  It cannot be more important.

This mode of living – of becoming what we are meant to become while living closely with other blades that give forth grain in their own due season – requires obedience, perseverance and patience.  It also requires close communion with our creator, the master harvester.

We must exercise faith – in trusting that we will survive life among a variety of blades until the harvest time.

We must engender hope – in believing that we will produce grain in abundance.

We must enact love – in making room for all to reach the sun and to soak up whatever rain may fall.

Perhaps what makes this Gospel so intense is that it is likely the first written after the Resurrection, when the flame of the Pentecost and the inspiration of the Ascension were still fresh.  Perhaps its concise language and simplicity render its meaning unmistakable.  Mark delivers five parables in rapid succession in this chapter, and he succinctly describes the important work of the faithful sandwiched between other stories which are more familiar.  We might miss it unless we look for it; and yet here it is.  Millennia after they are written, these straightforward words have the power to fill us with wonder at how the direct message of love might change the human experience.  We are loved.  We are love.  All we need do is proclaim this story.

Harvesting in the Himalayas

In reading Mark, we are drawn into his passion.  It is the same passion with which we are created.  It is a simple, clear, uncomplicated story.  God yearns for companionship and he creates a race of people in his image.  These people are wooed, forgiven, blessed, sustained, forgiven again, and loved powerfully.  What are we asked to do in return?  To proclaim this love abroad, to transform the sunshine and the rain into a grain of wheat which the master will harvest, and to render to the creator his harvest of love.


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

Written on November 7, 2008, re-written and posted today as a Favorite.

Images from: http://www.frankossen.com/Barefoot%20amid%20the%20Himalayas.htm and http://jp.123rf.com/photo_14000685_wheat-blade-on-wooden-table.html and http://www.foodsubs.com/GrainWheat.html

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Proverbs 26Foolishness

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Hals: Jester With a Lute

Written on January 20, 2010 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Drinking violence, tying a stone in a sling, cutting off our own feet: these are all actions we can easily see as foolish.

Seizing a dog by the ears is the same as meddling in an argument not our own.   Gossip descends to our inmost parts.  These are sayings we have heard and believe.

Fervent lips with an evil heart are a freezing glaze on earthenware.  This is an image that might escape us.

We fall into our own pits.  The rocks we hurl come hurling back at us.  These are consequences we might not anticipate . . . yet they are results that we might foresee as students of the Word.

In Numbers, Balaam curses his donkey for making a fool of him (Numbers 22).  Samson bemoans the fact that Delilah makes him a fool (Judges 16).  Saul admits he acted foolishly (1 Samuel 26).   These are all stories we have heard.

The Psalmist writes that a fool says there is no God (Psalms 14 and 53).  The wisdom books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes have too many sayings on fools to enumerate here.  We can recite the clever sayings from heart.

Isaiah (32:6), Jeremiah (17:11), and Hosea (9:7) describe foolish ways as ones which lead us away from God.  They warn us away from falling to our own pride.

In Matthew (5:22) and Luke (12:20) Jesus tells us that we are fools when we forget that God may call on us at any moment for an accounting.   We repeat his words to others.

Paul tells the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 3 and 2 Corinthians 11:1) that he will become foolish in the eyes of the world in order to become wise in God’s.  We find it difficult to live a life of inversion.

Scripture gives us able tools to see foolishness in ourselves and in others; yet we continue to ignore the lessons open to us each day.  When we persist in our own foolish behavior we fool no one but ourselves.

Just this morning a friend and I were discussing how we humans can be so imprudent so consistently.  We fuss over the sawdust in another’s eyes while refusing to remove the plank from our own.  (Matthew 7:3 and Luke 6:41)  Only God has the solution to this predicament . . . it is foolish to turn away from this saving force.

And so we might pray . . . Dear Lord, keep us from the world’s foolishness . . . imbue us with your wisdom . . . guide us in your ways . . . for these are the ways which heal and restore.  We ask this in Jesus’ name.  Amen. 


A re-post from February 2, 2012.

Image from: http://www.cs.dartmouth.edu/~wbc/Gowing/Gowing.html

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John 1:1-14: Logos

The Second Day of Christmas, December 26, 2017

Many of us are familiar with the old Christmas carol, The Twelve Days of Christmas, and we may also be aware of varying theories about the derivation of the lyrics and tune. A number of resources report – some correctly and some incorrectly – the reason for the song’s origins, but in this holiday season we will put argument aside and enjoy celebrating the symbols we find.

The first gift is a partridge in a pear tree, and is symbolic of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The mother bird of this species will feign injury to lure predators away from her young, and some say that it reflects Jesus’s words when he laments in Luke 13:34: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets, you stone the messengers God has sent you! How many times I wanted to put my arms around all your people, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let me!” (Snopes) Yesterday we reflected on Christ as our savior or Messiah and we recognize his willingness to endanger himself in order to save the faithful.

Two turtle doves in St. George Island, Fla. (AP Photo/Phil Coale)

On this second day of Christmas, we celebrate the presence of Christ as Logos in both the Old and New Testaments. Footnotes tell us that here that John the Evangelist lays out the themes that develop as his Gospel continues: life, light, truth, the world, testimony, the pre-existence of Jesus, the incarnate Logos who is God’s revelation and his expression of his love for us.  When we think of the stories we hear and read in this Gospel, we know for certain that God is calling us to be diverse, to tend to that diversity and to place our hope in this diversity – because it is in this diversity that the Spirit manifests itself best.

God, most especially in the person of Jesus, calls us to intimacy. God asks us to commune with one another in a way we think is impossible. God asks much of us, both also gifts us with much. In this Christmas season, let us consider the gift of Logos, God’s Word, to all of creation brought to us in the sacred scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas.” snopes.com, 17 Dec. 2017, www.snopes.com.

Includes notes from autumn of 2007.

To learn more about the status of turtle doves, click on the photograph of the dove pair, or visit: https://www.aol.co.uk/travel/2015/10/29/puffins-turtle-doves-facing-extinction/

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Ezra 3: Joy and Worship – A Reprise from November 2014

Thursday, October 5, 2017

We move further into scripture looking for stories of joy that continue to surprise us. To explore other stories, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter the word Joy in the blog search bar. You may also want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com to see how joy surprises you there. Today our story is taken from the Book of Ezra.

After the Babylonian captivity and exile, after the scattering of the twelve tribes to the corners of the known earth, after the loss of hope that those who go out weeping will return rejoicing . . . the faithful receive word that they are to return to Jerusalem.  Two leaders, Ezra and Nehemiah, the priest and the administrator, lead the faithful in a journey of reunion and transformation. As with all people who remain open to the power of the Spirit and the healing of God’s presence, these returning exiles gather to worship Yahweh once again. And they know great joy in abundance.

Ezra 3:12: Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers’ households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy, so that the people could not distinguish the sound of the shout of joy from the sound of the weeping of the people, for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the sound was heard far away.

James Tissot: Jesus Unrolls the Book in the Synagogue 

Can we imagine the sound of joy that might rise to the skies if we were to thank God for all that we have and all that we are? Can we fathom the power we already hold in our minds and hands if we give all our great and petty worries over to Christ? Can we picture the compassion and healing that we might experience and then share with the world if we open our hearts to the Spirit that already dwells within?

God says: You are rightly focused on the daily task of survival but imagine if you were to trust me more and your own resources less? Do you see how much you have already gained? Can you imagine how much you are yet to receive? My servant Paul reminds my followers in Corinth that “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him”. (1 Corinthians 2:9) And this is so. Today you read about how the faithful returned to me and celebrated with liturgy. Do you know how much it means to me when you join my Son, our Spirit and me in beautiful liturgies of Word and Eucharist? Do you know that I have wonderful plans for you? Plans for joy and not for woe? When you doubt, open scripture to see how many times I have already rescued my people. Open your lives and remember how often I have already saved you. Will I not love you even more as our relationship deepens? Will I not bring you even more joy? Have I not already told you that all of this is so?

As we consider today’s Noontime, let us also consider how we might approach liturgies with a new energy. If we do not belong to a worship community, let us explore the possibility of finding or creating one. And if we long to find union that lasts, let us commit to entering fully into our worship community with a new expectation of finding great joy.

To learn more about Ezra and Nehemiah, spend time with the stories in these two books. Enter their names in the blog search bar and explore. Click on the images for other reflections. Or use the scripture link to compare different Bible versions of these verses. 

For a better understanding of these Books, go to: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/e/ezra-nehemiah.htm 

For more about anxiety and joy, click on the image above or visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

 

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John 1: In the Beginning

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. (NRSV)

No matter how often we read these words they bring us new beauty.

Footnotes tell us that the writer lays out the themes that develop as the Gospel continues: life, light, truth, the world, testimony, the pre-existence of Jesus, the incarnate Logos who is God’s revelation and the expression of God’s love for us.  When we think of the stories we hear and read in this Gospel, we know for a certainty that God is calling us to be diverse, to tend to that diversity and to place our hope in this diversity – because it is in this diversity that the Spirit manifests itself best.

The Word was first,
the Word present to God,
    God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
    in readiness for God from day one. (MSG)

God calls us to intimacy, and Jesus calls out this same petition in his brief life.  God asks us to commune with one another in a way we think impossible, and we can only do this if we rely on Wisdom.  This morning’s first reading was from Wisdom 3:1-12, The Hidden Counsels of God on Suffering.  Looking at verse four of that reading we are reminded that our hope is what makes us immortal.  This hidden counsel of God manifests itself in Jesus, the world’s only true hope.

In the beginning the Word already existed; the Word was with God, and the Word was God. From the very beginning the Word was with God. (GNT)

Jesus, the Suffering Servant, comes to us to serve – not to be served.  And so must we serve rather than be served.  No one has ever seen God except through Jesus Christ, the apostle John tells us; yet God speaks to each of us through Jesus.  It is fitting that Jesus represents this hope of God. It is correct that we awake and rise each day to look to Jesus. It is right that we act and live in hope, for it is this hope that makes us immortal.

Adapted from a reflection written on September 20, 2007.

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Proverbs 12: If You Love Learning

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The school in which I teach has a front portico with seven columns as a direct, overt message that we seek knowledge. (See Proverbs 9.) The school motto is: Veritatem prosequimur – Pursue truth. For an institution of learning, the image of Wisdom building her house is apt. Today we explore several verses from Chapter 12 as we reflect on the value of taking advice.

If you love learning, you love the discipline that goes with it—
    how shortsighted to refuse correction!

Acceptance of a valid critique is a sign of strength rather than weakness.

You can’t find firm footing in a swamp,
    but life rooted in God stands firm.

Building our spiritual house on Christ is a sign of our confidence in The Word.

The words of the wicked kill;
    the speech of the upright saves.

The gossip of bad people gets them in trouble;
    the conversation of good people keeps them out of it.

Sharing The Word with others is an invitation to the Spirit.

Fools have short fuses and explode all too quickly;
    the prudent quietly shrug off insults.

Living The Word brings us fortitude rather than fear.

Evil scheming distorts the schemer;
    peace-planning brings joy to the planner.

No evil can overwhelm a good person,
    but the wicked have their hands full of it.

Living as Jesus teaches is a sign of courage rather than submission.

Prudent people don’t flaunt their knowledge;
    talkative fools broadcast their silliness.

Sharing The Word in the Spirit is a sign that the Kingdom of God is here. The Kingdom of God is now.

When we compare other translations of these verses, we find that a love of learning is essential for workers in the Kingdom.

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Acts 28:30-31: Remaining

Saturday, April 1, 2017

We want a story to have an end, and so it may perplex us to read the closing verses of this book which is an accounting of how the Holy Spirit came to dwell among us.  I like the fact that there is no denouement which closes things in a precise manner, because this puts the conclusion of the narrative where it belongs . . . in our hands.

What do we bring to the Good News?  How do we continue the story?  How does the Spirit remain in us?  How do we witness?  How do we become Christ’s hands and feet and voice for the world?

We hold in our hands the power to heal one another by our willingness to listen actively and to act compassionately.

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we looked upon and touched with our hands concerns the Word of life – for the life was made visible; we have seen it and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was made visible to us.  1 John 1:1-2

This was part of last evening’s prayer in MAGNIFICAT and it speaks to the apostles’ desire to continue to tell the story they had lived with Jesus, the story they continued to live with the Resurrected Christ, the story we may all live today if we might only remain in our lodgings to proclaim the kingdom.  I do not mean by this that we sit at home waiting for seekers to knock at our door; rather  I do mean to say that we might remain in Christ as we live each moment of our lives . . . and thus we bring Christ to the world.

To remain with one another . . . this is what it means to remain in Christ.  We are called to bring our diverse gifts and our diverse selves into union with one another.  This has been so from the beginning, it is so now, and it will always be so; therefore, let us gather together and remain. 

A Favorite from March 26, 2009.

Cameron, Peter John. “Meditation of the Day.” MAGNIFICAT. 25.3 (2009). Print.  

 

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1 Kings 1: Power Changes Hands

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

As Easter approaches, and as we witness the swirling tides of power grow and collapse around us, we remember this reflection from March 14, 2008; and we remember that we are children of God, living with God’s loving promise.

This is a story or power ebbing and rising.  It is also a story of corruption, convolution and byzantine conniving.  And it is also the story of God’s providence, God’s openness to the impossible being possible, and God’s awesome ability to turn all harm to good.  Just reading the first chapter of this book gives us a sliver of our history as Yahweh’s people.  It can even give us a context for the corruption in our church structure today.  We know who we are as God’s children: we are created, we are loved, we are longed for, we are anointed, we are blessed, we are saved, we dance an intimate dance with our God.  The greater question for us may be: Who am I in God’s creation? 

Sometimes these answers are more difficult to live with. If we believe, for example, in the sanctity of life, we must also believe that torture is an unjust way of interrogating people. If we believe that the Christ is present in the world today through us, we are still all God’s children, even if we cannot all agree about all of the details of an issue.

When we read about the people in these historical books, we come away with the assurance that no matter the era or epoch, we are all God’s people under the same skin.  We all err.  We all have the opportunity for redemption.  We may all make reparation.  We may all forgive and be forgiven.  We are all God’s children.

When we read ACTS OF THE APOSTLES to remind myself of the many struggles which the early Church had during its formation, we can see clearly the presence of the Holy Spirit, God’s nurturing, abiding presence hovering constantly around these early apostles.  We see power transferring from the Pharisees and their separatist thinking to the apostles and their universal salvation thinking.  And even among the early Christians there was dissent: the necessity of circumcision, the need for baptism by the spirit, and so on.  The Holy Spirit shepherded these people . . . and shepherds us today.

In both the Old and New Testaments we read of the human qualities of contrivance, deceit and falsehood . . . and we also read of honesty and redemption.  Nathan, Bathsheba, Adonijah, Solomon, Zadok are all characters in this tale from long ago . . . and they are the people we see before us on the television screen each evening when we tune in to hear the day’s news.  When we watch these people of then . . . or of today . . . how do we see ourselves responding?  How do we witness to The Word?  How do we react as children of God?

We might ponder these things tonight in our evening prayer.

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Mark 7:36-37: Our WordsThe-Power-of-our-Words-Vision-Wall-Poster-copy

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

He’s done it all and done it well. He gives hearing to the deaf, speech to the speechless.

God has gifted us with the gift of words . . . today we reflect on the purpose of this gift . . . and the use of our own words in our daily lives.

“Watch your words diligently. Words have such great power to bless or to wound. When you speak carelessly or negatively, you damage others as well as yourself. This ability to verbalize is an awesome privilege, granted only to those I created in my image. You need help in wielding this mighty power responsibly.

“Though the world applauds quick-witted retorts, My instructions about communication are quite different: Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. Ask My Spirit to help you whenever you speak . . . If [people around you] are silent, pray before speaking to them. If they are talking, pray before responding. These are split-second prayers, but they put you in touch with My Presence. In this way, your speaking comes under the control of My Spirit. As positive speech patterns replace your negative ones, the increase in your joy will amaze you”. (Young 126)

jesus callingIn her wonderful devotional, JESUS CALLING, Sarah Young bases daily reflections on scripture. She brings us wisdom that we might want to use in a modern climate of insults and one-liner sound bites are meant for broadcast news. Jesus comes to as THE WORD of the loving presence that created us in an image of goodness and compassion. When we take in the words that flood around us it is so frequently difficult to distinguish truth from lie; but what is easier to distinguish is ego versus selflessness, greed versus generosity, false fruit versus abundant fruit. When we are confused about whose words we are to believe or reject, Young presents us with a distillation of God’s message: we must rely on the Spirit for guidance, we must depend on Jesus as an example, and we must trust in the Creator who has created us in God’s image in and for love alone.

Tomorrow, healing the paralyzed man.

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004. Print.

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