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Posts Tagged ‘transformation’



Isaiah 32:15-17: A Fruitful Field

Spring Wildflowers In Anza Borrego Desert State Park, California

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

In this season of Eastertide, we open our hearts to the possibility that justice will bloom in the desert.

But once more God will send us his spirit. The wasteland will become fertile, and fields will produce rich crops. Everywhere in the land righteousness and justice will be done. Because everyone will do what is right, there will be peace and security forever. (GNT)

In this time of renewal in the northern hemisphere, and season of harvest in the southern hemisphere, we open our hearts to the possibility of new hope in renewal.

[When] the Spirit from on high is poured out on us. Then will the desert become an orchard and the orchard be regarded as a forest. Right will dwell in the desert and justice abide in the orchard. Justice will bring about peace; right will produce calm and security. (NAB)

In this cycle of dying, transforming, and renovation, we open our hearts in fidelity to the Spirit that dwells in the desert, waiting to convert stony hearts and soften stiff necks.

Till the Spirit is poured out on us from above,
and the desert becomes a fertile field,
with the fertile field regarded as a forest.
Then justice will dwell in the desert,
and righteousness abide in the fertile field.
The effect of righteousness will be peace;
the result of righteousness, quiet trust forever. (CJB)

In these days of resurrection and rescue, we open our hearts to the mystery and wonder of Christ.

Yes, weep and grieve until the Spirit is poured
    down on us from above
And the badlands desert grows crops
    and the fertile fields become forests.
Justice will move into the badlands desert.
    Right will build a home in the fertile field.
And where there’s Right, there’ll be Peace
    and the progeny of Right: quiet lives and endless trust.
My people will live in a peaceful neighborhood—
    in safe houses, in quiet gardens.
The forest of your pride will be clear-cut,
    the city showing off your power leveled.
But you will enjoy a blessed life,
    planting well-watered fields and gardens,
    with your farm animals grazing freely. (MSG)

In our evenings of reflection and fruition, we open our hearts to the awe and majesty of God.

When we compare these and other translations of these verses, we know with certainty that the desert blooms, and the wasteland becomes a fruitful field in Christ.


Enter the words desert bloom into the blog search bar and explore possibilities with God. 

Image from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/california-desert-wildflowers-bloom_us_58bb0fc6e4b0b9989417ffcb 

For more about desert blooms, or to learn more about the California desert, click on the image and explore. 

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2 Corinthians 4:17-5:3: Not Settling for Less

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Over the last month we have sung a hymn in time of national struggle, we have argued with the Almighty, gone beyond human limits, reflected on narcissism and considered what we might learn from the story of Esther. Today we settle into these verses from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians.

Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without God’s unfolding grace.

In the midst of turmoil, there is the promise of renewal.

These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye.

Despite the pain that feels eternal, hope rises with the promise of restoration.

The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

Although our fears bring us insurmountable anxiety, we have the assurance of transformation.

God puts a little of heaven in our hearts so that we’ll never settle for less.

In all times and in all places, in all sorrows and in all joys, God’s grace remains. Once we recognize this, we never settle for less.

When we compare this translation of today’s reading with others, and when we weigh our troubles with the promise of the covenant, we know that each day God’s grace brings us more than meets the eye.

Image from: https://fastpraygive.org/a-renewal/ 

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Esther 10: Learning from Esther

Jean-François Portaels: Esther

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

It is interesting that at the close of this story, we see Xerxes and Mordecai as heroes, while Esther – for whom the book is named – slips into the background. This is, of course, indicative of the ancient world in which society regarded women as possessions rather than full persons. We might then determine that the more important message is this: God loves the faithful so well and so endlessly, that salvation arrives in a time if crisis. In our contemporary era of unease, we hear this message gladly. This is good news for those who are beleaguered in physical, emotional and spiritual ways. This is redemption for those who work at transformation. This is deliverance for those who suffer.

Living in exile, Esther keeps her Jewish heritage secret. As a woman with little influence in her own life, Esther moves quietly through Xerxes’ court, maintaining a low profile. Mordecai’s petition for her assistance pulls Esther out of anonymity and moves her into a life that requires courage, patience and wisdom; and we watch as she relies on God for these qualities.

We have much to learn from this young woman who allowed herself to be led by the source that created and called her. When do we speak up? Why do we remain silent? We have much to explore in her story of quiet obedience and patient trust. When do we question? Why do we follow? We have much to share about the wisdom of this brave young woman.  When do we celebrate? Why do we rejoice? 

Today we ask . . . what have we learned from Esther?

Tomorrow, Mordecai’s dream . . . Esther is the river.  

For more on Esther, visit the Jewish Women’s Archive at: https://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/esther-bible 

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Esther 9: Reversal – A Reprise

To learn more about the festival of Purim, click on this image or visit http://www.chabad.org

Monday, February 19, 2018

The jolly festival of Purim is celebrated every year on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). It commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day,” as recorded in the Megillah (book of Esther). (www.chabad.org)

In our Old Testament thinking, we celebrate victory over plotters who schemed to annihilate us. In our New Testament thinking, we ask God to soften the hearts of our enemies. In our Old Testament thinking, we commemorate the destruction of those who would harm us.  In our New Testament thinking, we celebrate their transformation. In our Old Testament thinking, we rejoice with Purim in the month of Adar. In our New Testament thinking, we ask for God’s mercy each day.

We first reflected on this citation in June of 2013. Today, as we seek to soften our own hearts, we remember that just as reversal is always possible for our enemies, it is always possible for us. For this reason, we give thanks for our modern Purim.

Tomorrow, quiet patience and courage.

For a prayer, visit the Reversal post at https://thenoontimes.com/2013/06/10/reversal/

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Lamentations 1: Jerusalem Abandoned and Disgraced

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Jerusalem: Old City Walls

Adapted from a Favorite written on January 15, 2008. 

Lamentations is a book written about the sixth century B.C.E., a time of reckoning for the Israelites who were taken into exile by the invading Babylonians.  These laments were composed by an eyewitness to the events involving the fall of Jerusalem, and they “combine a confession of sin, grief over the suffering and humiliation of Zion, submission to merited chastisement, and strong faith in the constancy of Yahweh’s love and power to restore”.  We have a “union of poignant grief and unquenchable hope”.  This shows how “Israel’s faith in Yahweh could survive the shattering experience of national ruin”.  (NAB 1991, page 859)

We might look at Israel as ourselves and begin to translate a time in our own lives when we have suffered grief, submitted to the events around us, relied on God’s constancy, and have at last fallen back on the only thing which sustains us. An unquenchable hope in restoration.  This is how we survive personal ruin.

The words of this opening chapter evoke such deeply sad images.  We so often steer clear of the things that make us uncomfortable that we may be tempted to skim through them quickly, passing by the pictures they create with half-closed eyes.  We may also be tempted to remind ourselves that Zion deserved the treatment she received.  We may sink into the cozy feeling of smugness about our own good fortune.  We are so eager to run from suffering in any way that we may not have learned to suffer well, and by this, I mean that we may have forgotten that there is sanctity in suffering.  There is purification.  There is rescue.  There is restoration.  So rather than flit past the descriptions of loneliness and misery, we will want to pause . . . unite our own suffering with that of these people . . . with that of the people around us today . . . with that of Jesus . . . and become co-redeemers with Christ.

We do not need to sink into maudlin or bitter wailing.  We do not want to become false martyrs.  We do not glorify ourselves by seeking suffering. We need not fear our suffering as it comes to us.

Through our relationship with Christ, we find that that transformation accompanies suffering, and turns all pain toward goodness.  We participate in this conversion by listening for God’s faithful voice, waiting for Jesus’ healing touch, and sharing the spirit of sanctity that the Holy Spirit will settle over us as we progress in our pilgrim’s way.

We need not fear the loneliness, the misery, the shame, the grief, the persecution, the weeping, the groaning, the silence, the sadness that we read about today.  We can take it in, process it with our own grief , and give it over to God who converts all harm to good.  In this way, we will suffer well, we will not suffer alone, we survive, and we live well.

To visit the land of the Bible, click on the image or go to: http://www.land-of-the-bible.com/content/old-city-jerusalem 

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Hubble Space Telescope: The Pillars of Creation

Creation: And it was Good

The Sixth Day of Christmas, December 30, 2017

On the sixth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me six geese a-laying.  

Light and dark, heaven and earth, plants of many kinds, stars and heavenly bodies, creatures that live in the water and on land, humanity. With each of the six days of creation, God sees that it was good.

Arguments continue between those who believe in a literal progression and those who turn to science for a deeper understanding of our origins. No matter our perspective, the stories in the opening of Genesis bring us an opportunity for deeper intimacy with God.

And it was good. When we understand that God has created all that surrounds us, we often leap to the conclusion that this goodness must continue unchallenged and unchanging. We struggle to understand why natural and man-made catastrophes harm and even destroy the innocent. How does God allow such suffering to take place? How do we handle the stress that comes with persecution both perceived and real? The Apostle Paul writes his first letter to the people of Thessalonica as they struggle to maintain the community they established when Paul was with them.

And it was good. Paul’s letter is so brief, and so inspiring that it is easily read with commentary. Today, particularly if we struggle with the de-creation of a community we hold dear, we find a path forward through chaos with Paul’s verses. They give us an antidote for the suffering we feel when we witness the destruction of our work or the severance of ties that once sustained us. When studying Paul’s words, we remember that, despite the circumstances surrounding us, God always turns harm to good, even when it is difficult to perceive this goodness. Destruction of someone or something we have loved brings us to our knees and asks us to pass through the narrow gate of transformation when we rely on God’s promise that all things are possible. The ruination of some idea or some structure that produces goodness brings us into deeper intimacy with our creator when we realize that goodness supersedes harm always.

Charles (Charlie) Pellerin: NASA’s former director of astrophysics

And it was good. Today we ponder the loving act of creation, our willingness to believe God’s promise of love, and the belief that God will always lead us out of the darkness of de-creation.

And it was good.

Read about recovery from disaster: “What went wrong with the Hubble Space Telescope (and what managers can learn from it) NASA’s former director of astrophysics, Charlie Pellerin, has learned a thing about leadership and project failure” at https://www.cio.com.au/article/420036/what_went_wrong_hubble_space_telescope_what_managers_can_learn_from_it_/

For more information on the M16 Eagle Nebula pictured above, click on the image or visit the NASA site at: https://www.nasa.gov/content/goddard/hubble-goes-high-definition-to-revisit-iconic-pillars-of-creation

For notes and commentary on 1 Thessalonians, visit: http://biblehub.com/1_thessalonians/

To learn about connections between Paul’s letter and the stress produced by persecution, visit: https://bible.org/seriespage/3-stress-persecution-1-thessalonians-213-20

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Mark 5:1-17: Seek Consolation – Possession

Friday, December 22, 2017

Sebastian Bourdon: The Gerasene Demoniac

The Gerasene Demoniac

Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones. 

In ancient days, epilepsy and psychological ailments were seen as possession by fiends or dark spirits. Spells and incantations murmured by magicians were the only hope of those suffering from mysterious illness. We can understand the suspicion Jesus caused when he cast out these demons and brought joy to common people. The authorities who benefited from the plight of the desperate sought to put an end to Jesus’ constant cures.

No one was able to bind him anymore, even with a chain; because he had often been bound with shackles and chains, and the chains had been torn apart by him and the shackles broken in pieces, and no one was strong enough to subdue him.

Today, science often guides us as we explore disease and look for healing; yet still some of us suffer from unseen – and misunderstood – torment. When we consider the story of the man possessed by an evil he cannot see and does not comprehend, we begin to understand our own hope for consolation when we are beset by troubles large and small. Today as we read this story of the Gerasene, let us run to Christ to fall on our knees as he does. And let us surrender all our troubles to the deep, healing, transforming and abiding consolation of Christ.

He was some distance away when he saw Jesus; so he ran, and fell on his knees before him.

For more on casting out demons, visit: https://bible.org/seriespage/9-gerasene-demoniac-mark-51-20 

 

 

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Mark 7:31-37: Seek Consolation – Deafness

Jesus Heals a Deaf Man

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How often do we listen without really hearing? How often do we pass along information we believe to be correct but which is, in fact, not true? In the enormous universe of God’s love, we find that we are given countless opportunities to be open to the voice of God.

Some people brought him a man who was deaf and could hardly speak, and they begged Jesus to place his hands on him.

How often do we believe that we cannot bear to hear the day’s news? How often do we turn away from information we cannot take in? In the infinite presence of Christ’s healing, we discover that we have endless access to understanding.

So Jesus took him off alone, away from the crowd, put his fingers in the man’s ears, spat, and touched the man’s tongue.

How often do we grope to comprehend the purpose of the conflict that surrounds us? How often do we open ourselves to healing and transformation? In the immeasurable gift that is the presence of the Spirit, we encounter consolation that changes us forever.

When we do not feel Christ’s presence in our lives, when we fear that we will not hear God’s voice, when we look for consolation we believe will never arrive, we might offer our deafness to the one who created us, in the Advent hope of the presence of God among us.

When we compare differing translations of these verses, we find that our deafness might be more gift than curse.

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1 Thessalonians 5:23-24: Seek Wholeness – Freedom

Monday, December 4, 2017

May the God who gives us peace make you holy in every way and keep your whole being—spirit, soul, and body free from every fault at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you will do it, because he is faithful.

God says: You do not need to look for the pieces you believe are missing from your life. All that you believe you lack, you have. You have only to relax into me and you will slowly perceive these missing bits of your persona. You have only to rely on Christ and you will feel the presence of the courage you believe you lack. You have only to rest in the Holy Spirit and you will sense healing and consolation. Reality is not what you see with your eyes, touch with your hands, or hear with your ears. Reality is my full and transforming presence in you that dwells in you since before your conception, and will continue in you long after your temporal death. You can trust my promise. You can trust my action in your life. You can trust my love.

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we discover a new freedom in our wholeness and oneness with God.

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