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Posts Tagged ‘transformation’


Isaiah 22Euphoria

Louvre Museum: Sennacherib relief

Louvre Museum: Sennacherib relief

Sunday, August 21, 2022

A Favorite from July 4, 2009.

For the third day in a row we find ourselves in Isaiah’s prophecy and today we conclude the oracles against the pagan nations. Interestingly, Isaiah includes Jerusalem in this litany.

Commentary tells us that here Isaiah warns against false hope – against relying on self rather than God.  Around the year 700 B.C.E. Sennacherib and the Assyrian invasion forces have been turned back from the city. The people have mounted various defenses against the enemy and now they react with euphoria to the good turn of events. Yet rather than rejoice in God’s loving providence that rescues and heals them for eternity, they celebrate their own skill which will not, in the end, save them from their own corruption and decadence. They believe that their own planning, proficiency and leadership have saved them this day. The leader Shebna is revealed for who he is: one who thinks of his own legacy and comfort at the expense of those he leads. Eliakim is named as a loyal servant of God, a peg in a sure spot upon whom the glory of his family hangs.  Yet even this peg fixed in a sure spot shall give way, break off and fall, and the weight that hung on it shall be done away with; for the Lord has spoken.

wooden peg

Even the sure peg in the sure spot will give way, break off and fall . . .

When we survive disaster and come out the other side of a calamity intact and even renewed, we are to be joy-filled, we are to celebrate. But today the prophet Isaiah cautions us to place our joy properly in God who saves rather than in ourselves. We must never forget who it is who forms order out of chaos. We must always be mindful that everything God creates is good, that God will convert harm to transformation, and that he rescues us because he loves us . . . not because he expects something from us.

We are creatures already set free, already liberated from the shackles we imagine. When we find ourselves in bad times or with bad people, we seek intercession from God. When we find ourselves in happy circumstances with wonderful people, we thank God who loves us beyond measure. We return even our euphoria to the one who transforms.


Images from: https://bible.fandom.com/wiki/Sennacherib and http://archive.boston.com/news/local/articles/2008/02/01/wrecked_schooner_drifts_ashore_and_into_mystery/

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Revelation 2 & 3: Our Story – Part IV, The Knocking at the Doorjesus knocking

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

For the last few days we have reflected on the story of our lives from its inception to its end. Today we explore the thoughts and dreams and hopes revealed in the unfolding of our lives.

I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, [then] I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me. 

Several years ago our parish scripture study group spent a number of weeks studying this last book of the New Testament. It is so full of symbols and allegory that even reading a commentary may not be enough to unravel all that is held within.  These opening chapters depict Christ knocking at the doors of the seven established congregations; and they also tell us how people respond to Christ’s call.  Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea, each community has its personal traits that characterize and individualize them, and if we look at ourselves and examine scripture we will be able to discovery in which place we live. Then we can spend time reflecting on what we do when we hear the knock at our own door. Do we hear it?  Do we open the door? Are we prepared to dine with the one on the other side of the door? Are we willing to open ourselves to newness?

Most of us, when we expect guests, will clean the house, prepare food and drink, fluff pillows and put away stray family articles. We want to extend hospitality to those who knock at the door. Many of us feel as though the closets must all be straight and the dishwasher cleared. Many of us leave personal items in the rooms we will share with our guests, not thinking that they need to be cleared away, and we will leave the dishwasher as it is. All of us are somewhere on the spectrum of wanting to prepare for the expected guests; but what do we feel and do about those who are unexpected? Are we comfortable with the way that we live? Do we believe that we must make special preparations before we open the door to ourselves?

Christ knows our inmost secrets, so we hide nothing from him.

The Father knows our origins and our endings, so we hide nothing from The Lord.

The Spirit knows our deepest needs and desires, so we hide nothing from her.

Today, as we read about the different churches of God and how they live out the message they believe they have heard, let us reconsider what we do when we see a friend or a stranger approaching our door. Let us consider that there is nothing we can hide or put away that God does not already see and know. And let us consider that it is the open mind that receives new insight from God, it is the open heart that is made new in Christ, and it is open arms that receive the peace and serenity of the Spirit that is God’s gift to each of us.

When the knocking comes to our own door today – as it comes to us each day – do we hear the voice? Do we open ourselves freely? Do we dine with the Lord willingly? And do we allow God’s transformation to take place in us happily?


A Favorite written on  July 19, 2010.

To read more about the seven churches, click on the names of the seven cities above to see where they are located and what traits they characterize in our own story. 

Image from: http://mountgraceconvent.blogspot.com/2011/10/knocking-at-door.html

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John 15:18-27: Glory, Part VI – Hatred

Saturday, July 23, 2022

James Tissot: Jesus Wept

James Tissot: Jesus Wept

Knowing that we find humility, emptiness, and service when we willingly become branches on the great vine of Christ, we look to understand how God’s glory arrives through the world’s hatred.

Today’s lesson on Glory: Even the hatred of the world cannot overcome the love of God. This may be difficult to believe until we remember that with God . . . all things are possible.  

We each have encountered animosity in our families and among our friends and colleagues. There is no question about the existence of these negative forces that threaten security. There is no doubt that we ourselves have been drawn into the darkness that loops itself in its negative quashing of peace; yet – as Christ has told us – we need not fear for before the power of hatred presented itself at our door, it has struggled with the redeeming power of Christ.

If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.

We remember God’s words to Samuel: It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king. (1 Samuel 8:7)

I have chosen you out of the world and so the world hates you.

We remember Jesus’ words to his followers: Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place. (Luke 4:24)

When the Advocate comes who whom I will send to you from the Father, he will testify to me.

We remember the words of Psalm 118: I thank you for you have answered me; you have been my savior. The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. By the Lord this has been done; it is wonderful in our eyes. (Psalm 118:21-23)

And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

We remember the words of Jesus to his disciples: Have you never read in the Scriptures: “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?” Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (Matthew 21:41-43)

And so we pray,

Understanding and gentle God, you understand our pain and suffering at the hands of those we love. You know the suffering we experience when we are wrongly accused. We know that especially in the world’s anger you are present to heal, transform and restore. We rest in the knowledge that no force is greater than your love, no darkness can escape your redemption, no atrocity can overcome your glory. We ask your constant guidance and transformation through Jesus Christ. Amen.


Image from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Brooklyn_Museum_-_Jesus_Wept_%28J%C3%A9sus_pleura%29_-_James_Tissot.jpg

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Deuteronomy 4:32-40: Anything So Great

Luca Rossetti da Orta: Holy Trinity

Luca Rossetti da Orta: Holy Trinity

Saturday, June 4, 2022

This week we have reflected on our relationship with the Spirit, the lessons Jesus teaches us, and our response to God’s call; tomorrow we look forward to the celebration of this trinity of love. We remember some of Moses’ words as he calls his people to new life.

Ask now of the days of old, before our time, ever since God created man upon the earth; ask from one of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever  happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of the fire, as you did, and live? Or did any god ever venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors, all of which the Lord, your God, did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?  

We ask ourselves these same questions. Have we ever encountered anything so great as this promise fulfilled of rebirth and transformation? Have our little gods of comfort and pleasure brought us the measure of joy as the healing of the Spirit?

We might see the world as a place of evil and corruption, or we might see it as a place of possibility and hope. As we prepare to celebrate the miracle of the Pentecost and anticipate the gift of Trinity, let us count the blessings God has generously given, let us determine to live as Christ has asked us, and let us remember the saving power of the Spirit. For there has never been, and never will be, anything as great as these three in one.


Use the scripture link above to compare versions of these verses, and consider if we have ever experienced anything so great as this promise, this miracle, this trinity of love.

Click on the image to learn more about the feast of the Trinity or visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trinity_Sunday

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Matthew 9:14-17: Shrunken Cloth and New Wineskinswineskins

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Grown men sound like small children arguing over petty detail in today’s Noontime selection. We may want to consider Matthew’s warning to us in this quiet interlude between powerful miracles in Jesus’ story. Jesus reminds his followers – and he reminds us that while the cost of change is high, the reward of transformation is immense, even immeasurable.

When confronted with our pettiness, Jesus says: No one patches an old cloak with unshrunken cloth, for its fullness pulls away and the tear worsens. We want to take shortcuts, fly through our work in order to get to the leisure. Jesus reminds us that there is no point in short-changing God . . . we only shortchange ourselves.

When observing our shortsightedness, Jesus says: People do not put new wine in old wineskins. Otherwise the skins burst, the wine spills out, and the skins are ruined. We want to do things our way, pay no attention to the long haul and focus on the present. Jesus urges us to observe that our generosity and mercy are more important than keeping score or earning a living.

When reminded of our self-centeredness, Jesus says: Pour new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved. We fear not getting ahead, not being comfortable and not having influence. Jesus calls us to a life in which we put others first . . . so that God can tend to us as we tend to the marginalized in our world.

When we look for the secret to happiness or the formula for success, we do well to remember that God sees with God’s eyes and not our own. When we are tempted to make a quick patch in a relationship rather than working through the depth of the problem, let us remember the old cloak mended with unshrunken cloth. When we want continue to move through the world with our unimproved self, let us remember the old skins with new wine. And when we complain that no one suffers as much as we do, let us remember that new skins and worked over cloth preserve the old while nurturing the new.

When we use the scripture link above to reflect on varying versions of these verses, we begin to see the unshrunken cloth and old wineskins in our lives.


Image from: https://www.psephizo.com/biblical-studies/what-does-jesus-mean-by-new-wineskins/

For another perspective on this citation, enter the words Attitude and Perspective into the blog search bar and explore. 

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Matthew 7:6: Casting Pearlsoyster-pearl-100903-02

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot, and turn and tear you to pieces.

This verse may be deeply meaningful for us when we consider just how precious and rare a genuine pearl is. Produced by layers of nacre, or mother-of-pearl, around a grain of sand, pearls begin as a nuisance and result as an object to be prized. Mollusks lay down deposits once they sense an intrusion in their otherwise placid lives. They transform an obstacle into an object to be admired. If we are pearls of great price, we began as these small irritants . . . and we too, are transformed into beautiful objects to be treasured.

We are holy people. We are temples in which the Holy Spirit abides. We are children of God. We are body, soul, mind and heart. And all of this is a gift from God to be treasured and never taken lightly.

In Song of Songs 3:4 we remember our relationship with God who loves us abundantly.  If we continue to 3:5 we also remember that our lives move best when they move in God’s plan rather than our own. All things, even love, arrive in God’s time, not ours.

Let us recall how loved we are, and determine to return that love to God.

Let us remember how beautiful we are, and decide to live up to that beauty.

Let us recall how priceless we are, and choose to act as though we believe our own good fortune.


For another Noontime reflection on this verse, enter the words Pearls of Great Price in the blog search bar and explore.

To learn more about how pearls form, click on the image above or visit: http://www.livescience.com/32289-how-do-oysters-make-pearls.html 

 

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Thursday, February 10, 2022stumbling blocks

Ezekiel 3:17-27

The Prophet as Watchman: Receiving Grace through our Stumbling Blocks

We receive the gift of understanding once we agree to study the stumbling blocks in our path. This understanding will transform our lives and the lives of others as we rejoice in the stoning we have received.  Others will see that we rise again, once the stoners retreat. Others will see that we have survived the stoning and that we have lived to pick up those stones hurled as killing missiles.  They will see that we study those stones and that we have been blessed with the gift of reading the transforming message of each stone . . . because we respond to the call of the prophet, because we recognize that we are Sentinel People, and because we become prophets ourselves.

Ezekiel foresaw this Kingdom of prophets.  He foresaw that there would be a time when God would walk among us, would be one of us, would show us the way to turn and return to the God we had abandoned.  Ezekiel fore heard the trumpet blast of our response to God.

And so we pray . . .

Let us rejoice and be glad each time we stumble over something which strikes at our hearts.

Let us announce this gladness as the watchman Ezekiel announces the Coming of Christ.

Let us study the stumbling blocks in our path as we journey in the new Kingdom.

Let us examine the stones which the stoners throw, and read their unique messages for us.

Let us open our hearts and minds and souls to the God who created us.

Let us hope for the transformation of all of God’s people.

Let us trust that we are upheld as we work our way along the obstacle-strewn path toward home.

Let us be sentinel people, People of the Watch, calling out that the Kingdom is now.

Let us be prophets who announce that the Messiah is already among us.

Let us love ourselves and one another . . . for the Christ is in our midst . . . for the Kingdom is now.

 Let us be a Sentinel People, announcing the Kingdom of God.

Amen.

Tomorrow, giving thanks for our stumbling blocks.


Adapted from a reflection written on January 19, 2008.

Image from: http://sallysjourney.typepad.com/sallys_journey/2011/11/stumbling-blocks.html

 

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ironworker4Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Joy and Malachi

Corruption

The prophets warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds. Today Malachi uses the imagery of the smith who patiently and slowly smelts ore to let the dross run off. In this way we encounter joy even in the midst of deep and intense corruption.

“This work was composed by an anonymous writer shortly before Nehemiah’s arrival in Jerusalem (455 B.C.). Because of the sharp reproaches he was leveling at the priests and rulers of the people, the author probably wished to conceal his identity . . . It is likely that the author’s trenchant criticism of abuses and religious indifference in the community prepared the way for those necessary reforms”. (Senior 1170)

Malachi 3:1: “Listen: I will send my messenger before me to prepare the way. And then the One you are looking for will come suddenly to his Temple—the Messenger of God’s promises, to bring you great joy. Yes, he is surely coming,” says the Lord Almighty.

We have just closed Christmastide when we have welcomed Emmanuel, The Lord among us. In the midst of poor leadership and corruption, and despite our own indifference, God still loves and rescues us.

Malachi 3:7: Return to me and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.

We enter Ordinary Time and wait for the Easter promise to spring upon us once more. In the midst of reproaches and despite our vanity, God still heals and transforms us.

Malachi 4:1: For lo, the day is coming, blazing like an oven, when all the proud and all evildoers will be stubble, and the day that is coming will set them afire, leaving them neither root or branch, says the Lord of hosts. But for you who love my name, there will arise the sun of justice with its healing rays.

joyThe choice lies before us: To burn with fire in our passion for The Word . . . or to dissolve into ash in the fire of our own self-importance. God is the patient silversmith who devotedly sits at the furnace smelting the ore of our life’s offerings. God keeps a watchful eye on the fire of love that refines our work, assuring run off of dross and the pureness of the ore. And it is through this fire of God’s love that we are either consumed or brought to new life. It is from the pungent ash of our past corruption that God’s joy springs forth to surprise us again.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990. 1170. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar.

Image from: http://honibun.blogspot.com/2012_03_01_archive.html

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Auguste Forbin: View of Jerusalem from the Valley of Jehoshaphat

Auguste Forbin: View of Jerusalem from the Valley of Jehoshaphat

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Joy and Joel

Scourge

The prophets chronicle a people’s yearning for union with their creator and un uncanny understanding of their own vulnerabilities. Their words warn, threaten, exhort, and promise us that God is always present, even though we may not recognize this presence. The Old Testament prophecies foreshadow the good news of the New Testament, and they remind us that no matter our circumstance God’s joy rescues us from sure destruction, Christ’s joy redeems us from our recklessness, and the Spirit’s joy heals us despite the gravity of our wounds.  Today Joel shows us an image of ourselves that we want to forget as we await indictment for our actions. Joel also shows us am image we will want to remember; God invites all of us to stand among the elect.

In about the year 400 B.C.E. “a terrible invasion of locusts ravaged Judah. So frightful was the scourge that the prophet visualized it as a symbol of the coming day of the Lord . . . The concluding poem pictures the nations gathered in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, where the Lord is about to pass judgment. Israel’s enemies are summoned to hear the indictment; their evil deeds are at last requited. The tumultuous throng assembled in the valley of decision is made up of the enemies of God and they face inevitable destruction. The oracle changes abruptly from the terrifying image of judgment to a vision of Israel restored and forever secure from her enemies. God is both the vindicator of his people and the source of their blessing”. (Senior 1121)

joyNot only has sustenance been cut off from the people, but joy in living as well. If we have never found ourselves in our own valley of impending destruction, it is likely that we know and love someone who has. Joel’s prophecy brings us to the understanding that even in our fear of looming indictment, God always provides a road to repentance, transformation and restoration.

Joel 1:16: Has not food been cut off before our eyes, gladness and joy from the house of our God?

As we consider the valley of Jehoshaphat with its tumultuous crowd of those awaiting indictment for having caused the great scourge, let us also consider how God also offers us the opportunity to heal ourselves and the broken world we have fashioned from God’s creation. Let us remember that Jesus includes even the outsider Gentiles in the elect. And let us open our own minds and hearts to the understanding that the Spirit converts the great scourge to healing joy as she calls all to unity in and through Christ.
To consider the concept of rewilding the world, read the transcript of an interview with George Monbiot or listen to the podcast at one of these links:

http://www.ted.com/talks/george_monbiot_for_more_wonder_rewild_the_world?language=en

http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2015-01-02/environmental_outlook_george_monbiot_feral_rebroadcast


Delve into Monbiot’s thinking and science as described in his book: Feral: Rewilding the Land, the Sea and Human Life, and consider the joy of God’s creation.

FeralVisit Monbiot’s site at: http://www.monbiot.com/

Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.1121. Print.

If this week’s Noontimes call you to search for more ways to encounter Joy or urges you to investigate the New Testament, click on the word Joy in the categories cloud in the blog’s right hand sidebar and choose a reflection, or enter those words in the blog search bar. You may want to visit the Joy for the Journey blog at www.joyforthee.blogspot.com

For more information about anxiety and joy, visit: http://riselikeair.wordpress.com/2014/01/09/anxiety-joy-a-journey/

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