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Posts Tagged ‘trust God’


Exodus 39:32-43: Presentation of Work

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Moses’ Tabernacle Tent

Yesterday we reflected on how at times we must abandon the sanctuary.  Delving into this separation from all that comforts us helps us to explore the idea that there are times when God calls us to leap over the abyss of our doubts.  Today we reflect on the establishment of the first sanctuary or “dwelling place” for Yahweh, the desert temple tent.  Verse 43 tells us that Moses was pleased with the work of the people and so he blessed them.  This is reminiscent of the Creation story when God moves through the phases of creation – the sea, the land, the plants and animals, the humans – he sees that the work is good.  In the relativistic twenty-first century western world, it is easy to think that our standard for goodness relies on our personal perspective. But when we read both Old and New Testaments, we remember that accountability, evaluation, and even assessment are part of the Gospel story.

Moses saw that all the work was done just as the Lord commanded, [and] he blessed them.

It is good to review the portions of Exodus that describe in detail the Temple Tent of Yahweh that the people carried as they wandered the wilderness for several generations.  Verse 39:43 describes the experience of joy in the completion of work and a task well done for Yahweh.  When we read varying translations of these words, we begin to feel the blessing God gave the Hebrews – that God gives to us.

Moses saw that all the work was done just as the Lord commanded, [and] he blessed them.

When we complete any task to which God calls us, it is good to rest awhile and reflect on what we have accomplished.  It is good to give God thanks for we know – if we will admit it – that all we do is done through God. All we do that is worthy, is done with God.

Moses saw that all the work was done just as the Lord commanded, [and] he blessed them.

This blessing of all work done in God’s name may put a new spin on our daily lives, and in fact, it ought to do so.  If we work, play, and pray for ourselves, we have missed the point of our existence. When we work, play, and pray with God, we participate in a plan far greater than any we might devise.

Moses saw that all the work was done just as the Lord commanded, [and] he blessed them.

For more information, click on the image, or visit: http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/tabernacle-of-moses.html

When we have struggled through the travail of repairing a relationship, we will know the goodness of God’s providential care. When we have repaired, restored, rejuvenated our soul with God, we will know the beauty of God’s plan.

Moses saw that all the work was done just as the Lord commanded, [and] he blessed them.

When we have worked our way carefully through the many tasks of a day with no casualties or misunderstandings, we know the joy of putting a peaceful head on our nighttime pillow.

Moses saw that all the work was done just as the Lord commanded, [and] he blessed them.

When we make a presentation of our work, and we see that our efforts have produced fruit in abundance that will last, we know the perfect serenity of God.

Moses saw that all the work was done just as the Lord commanded, [and] he blessed them.

When we are forced to flee our sanctuary and then agree to return, restored and healed, we will see that the work we have done has been done just as the Lord commanded. We will know that we, like the Hebrew people, are blessed. We will know that the presentation of our labor is pleasing to God, so let us rejoice in God’s blessing.

Adapted from a reflection written on May 16, 2008.


Images from: http://www.israel-a-history-of.com/tabernacle-of-moses.html

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2 Samuel 15:13-18: Fleeing the Sanctuary

Julius Kronberg: David and Saul

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

In thinking about David as King and priestly leader of a chosen nation, we might forget about the twisting and turning of his story and the times when he fled a place or a people where he had previously found refuge.  One summer, I was able to slowly read the books of Samuel, Kings and Chronicles to get a better picture of the spiritual history from which we spring.  As with all history, the saga is full of error and woe, accompanied by the providential watchfulness of God, and our experience of joy.  The story of David is no different, and it merits careful reading and reflection because there are many places in this narrative in which we will want to stop along the way, places that speak to both our losses and our celebrations.

From Psalm 24: Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?  Who shall stand in his holy place?  The man with clean hands and pure heart, who desires not worthless things, who has not sworn so as to deceive his neighbor.

David Roberts: Citadel of Jerusalem

We are imperfect, yet we cannot let this imperfection keep us from seeking the perfection that is God.  Sometimes this seeking is also a healthy escape as when Joseph takes Mary and the infant Jesus to Egypt to avoid the wrath of corrupt leadership.  We notice in today’s reading that David in flight pauses opposite the ascent to the Mount of Olives.  This is the place where Jesus also halts before entering Jerusalem triumphantly on the day we now celebrate on Palm Sunday.  He stays there and sends his disciples ahead to prepare for his entry.  Many times in the Gospel, we see Jesus pause, retreat, and even vacate a place or people.  We will also notice, if we continue to read, that he gathers himself for re-entry.

From 2 Chronicles 30:18-19: May the Lord, who is good, grant pardon to everyone who has resolved to seek God, the Lord, the God of his fathers, though he be not clean as holiness requires.

Absalom

Sometimes it is necessary to evacuate the sanctuary.  Sometimes we leave behind all that we cherish, all that has made us feel safe and comfortable.  Sometimes we step off into an abyss of doubt and anxiety because we fear the destruction of the people and places that normally are our havens.

From Psalm 92How great are your works, Lord!  How profound your purpose!

Sometimes we must leave the sanctuary . . . and take the faithful with us . . . because we go toward something that holds greater value . . . greater potential . . . greater hope and life.

From MAGNIFICAT today: To be a disciple means to follow the Master.  He ascended the hill of the cross and transformed it into the seat of glory, a holy place.  Risen, he invites us to leave behind all worthless desires and seek him in holiness, that is, in love. 

Sometimes we are driven from the sanctuary by the ones we hold dearest . . . as with David and his son Absalom who later self-implodes.

1 Corinthians 2:11: No one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

Sometimes we evacuate the haven to look for restoration and then, like David, we may be lead back to this refuge. As humans, it is impossible to know the plan or mind of God, but what we do know, if we allow ourselves to rest in the Spirit, is God’s care, Christ’s healing touch and restoring hand. Yet despite this love, there are times when – in order to take in the enormity of this precious gift, in order to fully receive this gift – we first must evacuate our safe harbor. We must flee the sanctuary.

Tomorrow, despite our flight . . . we make a presentation of our work.

Adapted from a Favorite written on May 15, 2008.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 15 May 2008. Print.


Images from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saul and http://www.darnleyfineart.com/component/igallery/david-roberts and http://justoccurred.blogspot.com/2014/07/that-this-young-guy-had-issues.html 

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Matthew 11:30: Giving Away the Burden

Monday, April 30, 2018

Life is hard AND my yoke is easy. (Rohr 132-133)

As Richard Rohr points out, once we are able to hand our catastrophes to God, we enter into co-redemption with Christ. When we participate in the transformation of the world – even in the smallest of ways – we become an authentic part of the divine plan. We may not be able to clean plastic waste out of an entire river, but we can carry a cloth shopping bag for purchases that would otherwise come to us in plastic. We cannot end all violence, but we can ask questions of those who advocate for war and listen carefully to their voices. In a million small ways, we can lighten the darkness of the world. In a kaleidoscope of actions, we can bring comfort to the weary, healing to the sick, and justice to those on the margins.

“Hard and soft, difficult and easy, painful and ecstatic do not eliminate one another, but actually allow each other. They bow back and forth like dancers, although it is harder to bow to pain and to failure. You can bear the hardness of life and see through failure if your soul is resting in a wonderful and continuing sweetness and softness”. (Rohr 132-133)

When we practice taking the suffering with the joy in order to allow the joy to overcome, we unite in Christ. When we rehearse how we might reconcile more than we plot how we might avenge, we enter into the kingdom that God has in mind. When we exercise forgiveness more than we demand apologies, we begin to experience God’s Common Wonderful.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (MSG)

Today we practice giving away our burdens to Christ so that we might not only enter in the common wonderful, but also share this precious gift of God’s grace with others.


When we compare varying translations of this verse, we find that crises large and small become worries. When we practice the Common Wonderful, we find that our worries and anxieties melt away.

Richard Rohr, OFM. A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations. Albuquerque, NM: CAC Publishing, 2016.

Images from: https://tjmcclelland.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/thousand-pound-boulder/ 

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John 20:11-18: Overwhelmed

Antiveduto Gramatica: Mary Magdalene at the Tomb

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

In this second week of Eastertide, we continue to relive the Easter miracle of our resurrection. We re-visit the Gospel readings for the Easter Octave, and today we reflect on our response to the Risen Christ’s call that we too often miss because we are overwhelmed.

Mary stood crying outside the tomb.

We wonder where we might find God amid the horrors of war. We see no way forward and shrink from those why ask, “Where is your God now?” And because we are overwhelmed, we do not see that Christ accompanies us in faith.

Woman, why are you crying?

We wonder where to look for God amid the homeless, the radically poor, and the fully marginalized. We move forward slowly in darkness, waiting for the light. And because we are overwhelmed, we do not see that Christ accompanies us in hope.

Then she turned around and saw Jesus standing there; but she did not know that it was Jesus. “Woman, why are you crying?” Jesus asked her. “Who is it that you are looking for?”

Mary Magdalene Sees Jesus at the Empty Tomb

We wonder how to encounter God as we struggle to survive the battles of life. We grope for surety, anticipate a surge of confidence, and wonder where compassion is hiding. And because we are overwhelmed, we do not see that Christ accompanies us in love.

Mary stood crying outside the tomb.

The angels of God ask Mary directly – and they ask, “Woman, why are you crying?” Can we give up our fears, give in to these angels, and rely on Christ’s presence?

Christ himself stands before Mary – and he stands before us – to ask, “Who is it you are looking for?” Can we surrender our anxieties, trust Christ himself, and believe that God turns all harm to good?

When circumstances and emotions overwhelm us . . . are we willing to let go of all that terrifies us . . . to fall into the loving presence of the risen Christ?


This selection from John’s Gospel appears frequently in liturgical readings and when we spend time with these verses, we understand why. Read more reflections on this citation on this blog, search for these posts: Overwhelmed by GraceWhere the Body Had Been, Possibilities, Turning Again.

For more reflections on Mary Magdalene, enter her name into the blog search bar to discover what she has to say to us today.

Images from: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Antiveduto_Gramatica_-_Mary_Magdalene_at_the_Tomb_-_WGA10352.jpg and http://www.graspinggod.com/jesus-and-mary-magdalene.html

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Mark 16:1-7: Servant Work – Rolling Away the Stone

Holy Saturday, March 31, 2018

We have witnessed the passion of Jesus, we have heard the promise of covenant fulfillment, and we wait in quiet for resurrection. We rest in the consolation of the Spirit, we turn to one another in our disappointment, and we wait in quiet for resurrection. We plan to go to the tomb to anoint the body of the one who brought promise and healing, we ask who will roll away the stone, and we wait in quiet for resurrection.

From the Complete Jewish Bible: When Shabbat was over, Miryam of Magdala, Miryam the mother of Ya‘akov, and Shlomit bought spices in order to go and anoint Yeshua. Very early the next day, just after sunrise, they went to the tomb. They were asking each other, “Who will roll away the stone from the entrance to the tomb for us?” 

A rolling-stone grave in Galilee.

Like the women who tend to routine tasks that keep our days moving forward, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the men who wait in fear for consequences they cannot control, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the children who show us the way through darkness, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the disciples who travel to Emmaus, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the apostles who return to their nets and boats, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the servants who know their mission, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like the servants who witness and watch, we wait in quiet for resurrection.

Like all those who follow Christ, we wait in quiet for resurrection and we ask, “Who will roll away the stone?”

Like all those who follow Christ, we wait in quiet for resurrection, we witness to injustice, we pray for our friends and enemies, and we trust that when we arrive at the tomb . . . Jesus himself will have rolled away the stone . . . so that we might step forward as servants in Christ.


Tomorrow, greeted by angels.

Read about the March for Our Lives movement in which the youth of a nation work together to roll away stones once thought unmovable at: https://marchforourlives.com/ 

When we compare other translations of these verses, we open ourselves to the reality that Christ rolls away stones so that his servants might work to build God’s kingdom.

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Isaiah 50: The Servant’s Help

Holy Wednesday, March 28, 2018

This week we spend time reflecting on how we might best become God’s faithful servant. When we watch Jesus approach his Easter exodus and resurrection, we are encouraged by the joy of his Easter rising, but frightened by his passion and death. We ask . . . are we able followers of Christ today? Do we rest in the Spirit’s healing consolation? How much do we rely on God for help in all matters, large and small?

A Favorite from June 17, 2010.

“Responding to the people’s complaint of utter abandonment by God, the prophet shows that their sins were responsible for their banishment.  Since there was no bill of divorce, the bond between the Lord and his people still exists and he will ultimately save them”.  (Senior 932)  This is good news for each of us!  It is also a call to investigate our relationship with God to ascertain how well we are connected with this life-saving and eternity-giving force.

In verses 4 through 11, the third of four “Servant of the Lord” oracles (932), we read the description of a well-tuned connection with God.  Despite the buffeting and spitting received from one’s enemies or from the mere living out of one’s life each day, the soul rises each morning when God opens the ear for hearing, when God gives words to the well-trained tongue for speaking, and when we trust in the name of the Lord and rely on God.

The Lord my God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced . . . (Isaiah 50:7)

You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay . . . (Psalm 40:17 and 70:5)

Surely God is my help; the Lord is the one who sustains me . . . (Psalm 54:4)

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings . . . (Psalm 63:7)

Where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord.  (Psalm 121:1-2)

The word of God among us is Christ . . . who awakens us each morning that we might hear and see what we are to say and do.

These songs comfort us because they remind us of what we know – even if or when we do not want to admit that we know – our only substantial help is in God.  And once we have been helped by God, we are to turn to those who follow behind, and minister to them as God asks.

The Lord my God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced . . .  This is the reason we will want to listen for words to come from the Holy Spirit.  This is the reason we will want to follow Christ.  This is the reason we will want to rest in the hands of the Lord . . . for in this place is our hope, our shelter, our redemption and our salvation.

The Lord God has given me a well-trained tongue, that I may how to speak to the weary a word that will rouse them . . . When we are buffeted and tossed life, rather than think of our own pain, let us listen for how we are to use what we feel.  And let us take shelter in the Lord who is our only salvation. Our only help.

Tomorrow, a familiar story . . . Exodus.


Senior, Donald, ed. THE CATHOLIC STUDY BIBLE. New York, Oxford University Press, 1990.932. Print.   

Images from: http://www.pinsdaddy.com/the-lord-is-our-help_Xlbxi7XVN8fmQmcnA817233wVH7fwrXplSandwKpg8M/ and https://dlw-walkinfaith.tumblr.com/post/135313176609/isaiah-504-nkjv-the-lord-god-has-given 

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Daniel 3:  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Joseph Mallord William Turner: Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the Burning Fiery Furnace – Tate Museum, UK

It is Wednesday before Palm Sunday and today we choose verses from this well-known and well-loved story.

None of us is exempt from trials in the fiery furnace. Some of us suffer greatly; some only a little. Nevertheless, pain comes to each and all of us. And so we pray that in our difficult days, we will turn – as these young men do – to the one who saves. We pray that the angel of the LORD – as God promises – accompanies us in our fiery ordeals. And we pray that – as Christ calls us to do – to muster our courage to step forward into the promise of life.

Shadrach! Meshach! Abednego! Servants of the Supreme God! Come out!

Visit the Tales from the Disapora posts on this blog for more reflections. Or enter the words Furnace or Shadrach, Meshach, Abednego into the blog search bar.

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Job 2: Satan

Corrado Giaquinto: Satan Before the Lord

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

We cannot leave this book of wisdom without pausing to confront the evil that sets this story into motion. If we have time today, we will want to listen to an On Being conversation hosted by Krista Tippet with Rabbi Sarah Bassin, and Imam Abdullah Antepli. The discussion is entitled Holy Envy, and it opens a method for confronting evil in our world.

Once again the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.

The image of evil hiding among faithful servants is an unsettling thought.  We go about our work or we rest in fallow time, trusting that all will be well, hoping to be children of light rather than the dark. The image of Satan lurking among the holy ones might unnerve us enough to re-examine the opening chapters of this story so that we might see a few details we have previously ignored. Satan reports that he has been patrolling his domain – – – the earth; yet God expresses confidence in the faithful, patient Job.

We do not like to think about evil, and we too often turn away when it enters the comfort zone we have carefully set up for ourselves.  Usually we believe that we must avoid evil at all costs, or we believe it is a force that only God can handle.  Because we feel powerless, we may not spend much time thinking about what evil is or where it comes from.  Yet we must take it seriously while at the same time not allowing it to paralyze us.

Several summers ago, I read a fascinating novel about how the devil takes up residence in our hearts almost without our noticing.  The Angels’ Game is a remarkable story and well worth reading.  The author, Carlos Luis Zafón, deftly weaves a tale that at once terrifies and holds us in dreadful yet delicious anticipation of what we know the end to be when we align with malignancy.  The story is terrifying in that the reader does not feel God’s presence specifically; rather the reader finds goodness in individual people and from literature itself.  In Zafón’s tale, God is found in books and stories, and there is a spell-binding quality to the plot.  As I closed the last page, I gave thanks for being in a well-loved vacation place with well-loved and loving people. The force of goodness and God-ness through them put my mind at ease. And it is this goodness and God-ness that Job brings to us today. Job’s fidelity and faith not only make him a target of the envious devil, they also save him. And so we are left to reflect . . .

Once again the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.

God is so good that God does not banish Satan from his presence.

God is so good that God does not allow Satan to have the last word.

God is so good that God rescues, saves, heals and restores.

Job puts all of his trust in this God.

Job refuses to bow to social pressure and to pretend that he is guilty of something he has not done.

Job speaks directly to God, and argues with God, asking for answers.

Once again the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came with them.

We must not fret about evil, yet we must not forget its presence.  When we find ourselves up against one who is a fallen angel, we cannot think that we, on our own, can win against the overwhelming power of Satan.  We must place all of our faith, all of our hope, and all of our trust in the Lord.  Only this one has the power to convert the aftermath of evil into the goodness of love. Only this one has the compassion to love us beyond the arguing.

Adapted from a reflection written on July 22, 2009.

See a review of The Angel’s Game at: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/28/books/review/Rafferty-t.html 

For more on Zafón and his work, visit: https://frandi.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/the-angels-game-by-carlos-ruiz-zafon-a-book-review/ 

 

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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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