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Posts Tagged ‘witness-watch-wait’


Jeremiah 39:1-14Remaining Among the People

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Soord: Lost Sheep

We have read about Jeremiah in the dungeon (Chapter 37) and Jeremiah in the miry cistern (Chapter 38); now we read about his capture . . . and that he remained among the people.  Just yesterday I spoke with a friend about her reluctance to do something that would cause her great pain.  I said that rather than focus on the suffering that an experience was bound to bring her, she might just want to focus on tending to God’s lost sheep.  This was something she said she could do.  I had heard the Jeremiah in her anticipate the lack of understanding she was about to meet.  I heard her fear of her own unpredictable emotions rising.  We spoke about patience, persistence and witnessing.  And we spoke about how we cannot control people or events, of how we can barely sometimes control ourselves.  Life brings us these difficult lessons to learn.  Life also brings us unmeasurable reward . . . if we only learn to remain among the people.

Yesterday’s Gospel reminded us of something we may want to carry with us everywhere and it is this: When we are fearful of something we must do we are likely relying on ourselves too much.  And we are likely forgetting to rely on God.  Jesus tells his disciples in Luke 12:8-12 that we need not worry about our circumstances – even when they are dire – if we remain in him, in God.  When we allow the Spirit to direct us, we cannot fail.  When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say.  For the Holy Spirit will teach you at the moment what you should say.  Jesus may be remembering the words from Isaiah 30:21: From behind, a voice will sound in your ears: “This is the way; walk in it,” when you would turn to the right or to the left.  Both the Old and New Testament remind us that when we live in the Spirit, we cannot falter.  When we remain with God’s people, we will not go wrong.  When we follow Christ, we may suffer but we will never be lost.

We are often reminded to witness, watch and wait on the Lord and so we pray from Psalm 5 in today’s MAGNIFICAT Morning Prayer: It is you whom I invoke, O Lord.  In the morning you hear me; in the morning I offer you my prayer, watching and waiting.  You are no God who loves evil; no sinner is your guest.  The boastful shall not stand their ground before your face.  But I through the greatness of your love have access to your house.  I bow down before your holy temple, filled with awe.  All those you protect shall be glad and ring out their joy.  You shelter them; in you they rejoice, those who knew your name.  It is you who bless the just one, Lord: you surround the just one as with a shield. 

I asked my friend to see herself as a shepherd who gathers lambs to bring them into the fold at night.  I asked that she put all her worry into prayer. And I asked that she rely on God to bring goodness out of harm.

In the end, Jesus reminds us, God is all there is.  In the end, we do not want to wait on anyone or anything else.  In the end, all that is asked of us is that we witness, watch and wait.  Rather than succumb to the familiar fears that govern us poorly and use us badly, we will want to remember to gather ourselves and to gather lost sheep even as we remain among God’s people.  For it is in, and of and through Christ that we are saved and brought back to God.  It is in, and of and through the Spirit that we are consoled.  And it is in, and of and through God that we are made whole.  And in the end – when we can manage to remain with God’s people – we remember well that . . . God is all there is.


Cameron, Peter John. “Prayer for the Morning.” MAGNIFICAT. 16.10 (2011): 239. Print. 

A re-post from October 16, 2011.

Image from: http://personalitydevelopmentbeyourbest.blogspot.com/2011/07/letter-from-lost-sheepif-lost-sheep.html

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Psalm 22: Spiritual Warfare – Proclaiming God’s Name

Easter Saturday, April 7, 2018

Yesterday we began a reflection of Psalm 22 and its opening mournful words uttered by Jesus from the cross, My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Today we arrive at the later portion of this hymn of praise.

Then I will proclaim your name to the assembly; in the community I will praise you.

Large words on the wall of the student-dining hall where I teach remind us as we enter:  You have been told, O man, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do the right and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.  (Micah 6:8There is no mystery in this.  The completion of God’s plan is predictable; and if we wish to survive spiritual battle, the requirement is simple as Micah tells us: We train ourselves in order to invite wisdom; we exercise compassion with justice in order to invite goodness.  All the rest follows naturally.  The outcome of good over evil is predictable and sure; but the timing and details are in God’s hands.

All the ends of the earth will worship the Lord; all the families of nations will bow down to you.

In this end that Micah sees but whose time we cannot foresee, God is all there is.  The war of life is waged and won by God.  Any influence of evil disappears.  The faithful remnant is rewarded. This we are promised.

I will live for the Lord; my descendants will serve you.  The generation to come will be told of the Lord, that they may proclaim to a people yet unborn the deliverance you brought.

When miracles of liberation happen, we must proclaim them, thanking God.  We must sing God’s praise continually for blessings great and small because in spiritual warfare the fall of darkness and deceit is brought about in an accumulation of these small songs intoned by the grand chorus of the thankful.  We also remember that the tiniest of miracles – constant signs of God’s presence in our lives – are significant for those to whom they are granted.

Mathis Gothart Grünewald: The Crucifixion (detail) 

In spiritual warfare we need not connive, we need not plot.  We need only do what we know is right, understanding that we are graced by God.  We need to avoid thinking that we are in control, knowing that God’s plan is always better than our own.  We need to give over everything to God, believing that God turns all harm to good, even – and especially – the ultimate resolution of all conflict.

We are foot soldiers in spiritual warfare, and we know our orders.  We must be patient in our perseverance as we grow to become God’s harvest in God’s time.  We must speak, pray, study, witness, watch and wait.  We must be ready.  This is all that is required of us.  We do not know the hour or time of this warfare’s end; but we know the outcome.  This we have been promised.   This we are told.  Let us pass the word along . . . that in the hour when we feel most abandoned, we are most accompanied.  That in the hour when we believe all is lost . . . all is truly found.

Adapted from a reflection, entitled Spiritual Warfare, written on Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2008.


Wordle from: http://footprintsfromthebible.blogspot.com/2017/06/lords-prayer-hallowed-be-thy-name.html  To view Grünewald’s entire altarpiece painting, visit, http://www.christianiconography.info/iconographySupplementalImages/crucifixion/grunewald1515.html

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Luke 6:1-11Debates 

A Wedding Feast

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Today’s reading may be familiar to us – the announcement that the Bridegroom is among us. We hear this and yet so many of us forget or deny that he is here because the work to witness, watch and wait is difficult.  The witnessing takes its toll, the watching drains us, the wait seems interminable. And so we retreat to take refuge in the Lord.

Throughout the Gospel stories Jesus is questioned, and often with the aim of entrapping him in an inaccurate statement. We learn much from the consistent way Jesus responds: he 1) asks questions, and he 2) refers to Scripture – and his questioners are all familiar with Scripture.  Jesus is engaged in a constant vaivén (Spanish for a “coming and going”) as he wades into conflict and then retreats to recoup and to return to his source – the Father. Jesus is also aware of the fact that many of his questioners are not interested in redemption; but want to persecute and eliminate him.  How did he maintain his equanimity?  By a constant cycle of witnessing and retreating.

When questioned about why his followers pick grain on the holy resting day, Jesus responds by healing a man with a withered hand.  When the Pharisees focus on a narrow point of the Law, Jesus offers a wider, more merciful and loving horizon.  When Jesus heals and restores, his enemies become enraged and plot Jesus’ end. And what is Jesus’ response?  Does he retaliate with greater might?  Does he use harsh words?  Does he lecture?  No, he heals, he asks questions, he retreats to pray and restore.

Dearest God, remind us every day that you have sent us someone who will show us how to heal, to question, to retreat back to you for restoration.  You know our depths.  You know our faults.  You know our gifts.  Remind us that we are yours, that you love us, that you hold us without letting go.  Remind us that the constant irritants that prick our eyes and sting our ears are nothing.  Remind us that at any moment, in any space, we may withdraw and depart to the mountain to pray and to even spend the night in prayer with you as Jesus did. And, dearest God, thank you . . . Amen.

To learn about wedding customs in Jesus’ time, and about putting new wine in new skins, click on the image above or visit: http://www.emmanuelenid.org/archive/component/k2/item/1047-new-wine-in-old-skins-the-impossibility-of-mixing-religious-traditions-and-christ-s-grace 

Adapted from a reflection written on October 15, 2007.

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Tobit 4:5-7: Through All Our Days

book-of-tobit1

Mattie Preti: Tobit Blesses Tobias

Friday, February 17, 2017

Tobit gives instruction to his son just as God gives instruction to us.

Tobit says: Through all your days, keep the Lord in mind.

God says: Through all your days, remain in me as I remain in you.

Tobit says: Do not seek to sin or to transgress the commandments.

God says: Through all your days, practice kindness and mercy, charity and forgiveness, and forgive all as I forgive you.

Tobit says: Perform righteous deeds all the days of your life.

God says: Through all your days, witness, watch and wait, calling always on me.

Tobit says: Do not tread the paths of wickedness.

God says: Through all your days, persist in goodness and shun revenge.

Tobit says: Give alms from your possessions.

God says: Through all your days, care for the marginalized, for that is where you find me.

Tobit says: Do not turn your face away from any of the poor.

God says: Through all your days, look on me as I look on you with loving eyes, healing hands, and grateful heart.

When we use the scripture link and drop-down menus to explore other translations of these verses, we know how to move through all our days . . . whether they be filled with grief or joy.

To better understand the story of Tobit and Tobias, go to: http://www.usccb.org/bible/tobit/0 

 

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Luke 21:5-11: Watch Out

botticelli_sleeping_apostles_2_small

Botticelli: Sleeping Apostles

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Jesus said, “Watch out for the doomsday deceivers. Many leaders are going to show up with forged identities claiming, ‘I’m the One,’ or, ‘The end is near.’ Don’t fall for any of that. When you hear of wars and uprisings, keep your head and don’t panic. This is routine history and no sign of the end.” (MSG)

When we weigh Jesus’ words with intention, we find that they speak to us today.

Jesus said, “Watch out; don’t be fooled. Many men, claiming to speak for me, will come and say, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time has come!’ But don’t follow them. Don’t be afraid when you hear of wars and revolutions; such things must happen first, but they do not mean that the end is near.” (GNT)

When we allow Jesus’ words to rest in us, we discover that they have specific meaning for us now.

 And Jesus said, “See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them. When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately.” (NASB)

When we look for answers in days of peril, we are always answered, never abandoned.

Jesus answered, “Watch out! Don’t be fooled! For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time has come!’ Don’t go after them. And when you hear of wars and revolutions, don’t panic. For these things must happen first, but the end will not follow immediately.” (CJB)

What does Jesus advise in times of trial? We must witness, watch and wait. We must not be fooled or mislead. We must not worry; we must put aside anxiety. When one comes among us claiming to have all the answers, we must be careful. When one comes among us claiming that the end is near, we must reject fear. These are soft words for hard times. Clear instructions for days of confusion. Loving reminders that we are not alone, that we are cherished, that we are loved. All we need do is . . . witness, watch, and wait.

When we compare varying versions of these verses, we hear Jesus’ voice, we feel God’s presence, we are healed by the Spirit’s love.

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Psalm 76: Defense


Psalm 76Defense

Monday, September 19, 2016psalm-76-4

A Favorite from September 3, 2009.

The faithful need not fight, they only need to witness, watch and wait, and to refuse to allow themselves to be separated from their God.

We see this truth with the patriarchs and the exodus.  We hear it in the prophets and read it in the books of wisdom.  We are called to it as the New Testament apostles of our age.

There is nothing else we need know.  There is nothing else we need do.  There is no other business at hand but this . . . to walk in humility with God.

God is awesome and terrible – in God’s love for us there are no restraints.

God roars – in God’s hope for us there are no limits.

God is renown – in God’s constancy with us there is no equal.

And so we pray . . .

May we make and keep our vows to the Lord our God.  May we present all gifts to him who deserves our love.  May we go to him in humility with our woe.  May we celebrate with in him in all our joy.  May we come to know God as the only defense we need.  Amen. 

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Deuteronomy 4:7-9: Scrutiny – Part III

Saturday, September 10, 2016scrutiny-1435307-660x395-680x365_c

From THE MESSAGE: What other great nation has gods that are intimate with them the way God, our God, is with us, always ready to listen to us? And what other great nation has rules and regulations as good and fair as this Revelation that I’m setting before you today?

And as New Testament people we also ask: What other God is there who makes us in God’s image? What other God is there who come to live among God’s children? What other God is there who adopts us as legitimate daughters and sons?

The writer of Deuteronomy advises us: Just make sure you stay alert. Keep close watch over yourselves. Don’t forget anything of what you’ve seen. Don’t let your heart wander off. Stay vigilant as long as you live. Teach what you’ve seen and heard to your children and grandchildren.

And as readers of the New Testament letters we also know that those who lived, worked and prayed with Jesus give us the same advice. We might also testify: Our God walks and lives with us still. Our God heals and consoles us still. Our God leads and protects us still.

These are truths that are worthy of our scrutiny. Once we explore them with our own eyes and ears, we might share this Good News with others.

Use the scripture link and the drop-down menus to explore other translations of these verses, and to scrutinize all that we have read and heard.

For references to testing the spirit and false teachers, see 1 Timothy 4:11 John 4 and 2 Peter 2.

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Luke 17:20-37: Making Ready

Friday, February 5, 2016Kingdom_of_God

The coming of the kingdom cannot be observed, and no one will announce, “Look, here it is,” or “There it is”.  For behold, the kingdom of God is among you . . . But first [the Son of Man] must suffer greatly and be rejected by his generation.

The days of Noah – the days of Lot – the days of Christ – today.   Floods – brimstone – the crucifixion – the perils of today’s world.

We are told that the kingdom is not announced to us in the way we might expect.  We are told of coming consequences.  It is explained that we must use senses other than those we use for eating, drinking, marrying and giving in marriage.  It is explained that the kingdom is already among us.  We are told that the one who saves us will first suffer and be rejected.

The message is clear: One who wishes to gain the soul must forfeit life.  When we hear the call, we must not think of gathering anything up to take with us.  God will provide all that we will need on the journey; therefore, our only preparation need be to keep vigilant watch.

We must be alert . . . but how?  If we are not to hear announcement or see a warning, how do we know when to respond?  If we are not to pack any bags or prepare any food, then what are we to organize? What and how are we to make ready?

Suffering and rejection will be a part of our lives just as it is in the Messiah’s.  We live through these experiences of hurt, and we learn from them about God’s presence in our lives.  These experiences and what we have learned from them are what we pack for our journey.  This wisdom that is born of pain and that is used to refine our way of being in the world; this is something we will want to take with us to present to the Lord at his coming.

In Psalm 40 we are told that God does not really want our burnt offerings and sacrifices; rather, we are to use the suffering and rejection we experience to convert our human hearts to hearts that are open to God’s love.  Psalm 51 reminds us that God heals the offering of our broken spirit, and God delights in our offering of all that is out of order about us.  This is what we take to the Lord.

We cannot change the events of the past or the future . . . we can only effect the present moment in which we live.  We cannot go back to change something that happened, but we can make amends where possible and correct our own behavior.  We cannot foretell the coming circumstances of our lives, but we can prepare ourselves to be open to the amazing possibilities God presents to us in even the darkest of moments.

For behold, the kingdom of God is among us . . . what and how do we make ready today? 

A Favorite from January 26, 2010.

When we spend time with these verses from Luke and these two psalms, we begin to understand what it means to make ourselves ready for the Lord. We begin to understand how we might use God’s Yardstick of love.

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Matthew 18:1-5The Greatest in the Kingdom

first shall be last

Tissot: The First Shall Be Last

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Once more we read the stupefying mystery that the greatest will be least and the least, greatest.  For humans this is a difficult saying.  It runs counter to our sense of logic; it runs against our tendency to self-preserve, to survive.  Yet it is what we must hear.  Our proper relationship with God is to be child-like, not childish.  We are to go to our creator with our problems and our woes.  God, being merciful and just, will see to our needs and is open to discussing our wants.  We are to be humble.  We are to be like trusting children.

In Psalm 45 The Mighty One rides out to justify truth, humility and righteousness.  It was very likely composed as a song for a royal wedding because the imagery speaks to a proper, joyful and humble relationship.  We might pray this Psalm when we seek humility.  It reminds us that the faithful need not fight; they only need to stand and witness.  It reminds us that we must leave our accustomed comfort zone to seek another, better place. Today we spend time with this psalm and these verses from Matthew as we reflect on our relationship with God, our relationships with those we love, and our attitude about those we fear.

A favorite from January 8, 2008. 

 

 

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