ISSL Reflections July 21 2024 Psalm 119:73–80 Post 2

IV.
Today take time to read this portion of Psalm 119 slowly and let the Psalmist lead you into identifying aspects of your relationship to God.

V.
Psalm 119:73-80 (NRSVue)

Your hands have made and fashioned me;
       give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
       because I have hoped in your word.
I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right
       and that in faithfulness you have humbled me.
Let your steadfast love become my comfort
       according to your promise to your servant.
Let your mercy come to me, that I may live,
       for your law is my delight.
Let the arrogant be put to shame,
       for they have subverted me with guile;
       as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
Let those who fear you turn to me,
       so that they may know your decrees.
May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
       so that I may not be put to shame.

VI.
Take some aspect of what the Psalmist claims about his relationship to God and see where that leads you in considering your relationship to God.

For example

  • “… in your faithfulness you have humbled me.”
  • “Let your steadfast love become my comfort according to your promise …”

To what does the Psalmist draw your attention?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections July 21 2024 Psalm 119:73–80 Post 1

I.
As we spend time with this week’s focus passage, take note that in the first line the Psalmist mentions “You … and … me…”

As you read this portion of the Psalm notice how many times he calls attention to that relationship.

II.
Psalm 119:73-80 (NRSVue)

Your hands have made and fashioned me;
       give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.
Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice,
       because I have hoped in your word.
I know, O Lord, that your judgments are right
       and that in faithfulness you have humbled me.
Let your steadfast love become my comfort
       according to your promise to your servant.
Let your mercy come to me, that I may live,
       for your law is my delight.
Let the arrogant be put to shame,
       for they have subverted me with guile;
       as for me, I will meditate on your precepts.
Let those who fear you turn to me,
       so that they may know your decrees.
May my heart be blameless in your statutes,
       so that I may not be put to shame.

III.
The Psalmist does put that relationship in front of us in almost every sentence. Or maybe it is in every sentence and couplet.

Let’s read the Psalm again and this time see what two or three statements about The Lord stand out to you most.

Maybe we should read it at least one more time and take note of what two of three claims about the Psalmist stand out to you.

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections July 14 2024 Psalm 71:12–21 Post 3

VII.
As we return to the Psalm/Prayer today, what do you hear about God?

VIII.
Psalm 71:12-21 (NRSVue)

O God, do not be far from me;
       O my God, make haste to help me!
Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
       let those who seek to hurt me
       be covered with scorn and disgrace.
But I will hope continually
       and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
       of your deeds of salvation all day long,
       though their number is past my knowledge.
I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God;
       I will praise your righteousness, yours alone.

O God, from my youth you have taught me,
       and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
       O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might
       to all the generations to come.
Your power and your righteousness, O God,
       reach the high heavens.

You who have done great things,
       O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
       will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
       you will bring me up again.
You will increase my honor
       and comfort me once again.

IX.
How does the Psalmist acknowledge his sense of God’s absence to him? Does he?

How near to him is God’s presence?

What does he hope for, expect from life, expect from God?

What encourages him?

What do his words help you to pay attention to?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections July 14 2024 Psalm 71:12–21 Post 2

IV.
Today spend time with the Psalmist.

Please don’t just read his words, passing over then like you have heard him before, but sit with him, listen to him, see if you have some degree of empathy for his pain.

V.
Psalm 71:12-21 (NRSVue)

O God, do not be far from me;
       O my God, make haste to help me!
Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
       let those who seek to hurt me
       be covered with scorn and disgrace.
But I will hope continually
       and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
       of your deeds of salvation all day long,
       though their number is past my knowledge.
I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God;
       I will praise your righteousness, yours alone.

O God, from my youth you have taught me,
       and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
       O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might
       to all the generations to come.
Your power and your righteousness, O God,
       reach the high heavens.

You who have done great things,
       O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
       will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
       you will bring me up again.
You will increase my honor
       and comfort me once again.

VI.
What’s that phrase I use to hear a lot? “Where is he coming from?

Do you know where the Psalmist is “coming from”?

Take some time with the Psalmist words again, and make note of what he tells you about himself.

You might ask yourself, who is he (or she)? What does he tell you about the kind of emotions he is experiencing? What are his disappointments? What are his hopes?

Can you recall a time you were in a place similar to where he is?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections July 14 2024 Psalm 71:12–21 Post 1

I.
Given how this Psalm/prayer starts, “O God do not be far from me….” I think we can call it a Psalm of Lament.

I have read that “A lament is a prayer expressing sorrow, pain, or confusion.”

Let’s begin our mediation with this Psalm/Prayer by taking notice of how it expresses “sorrow, pain or confusion.”

II.
Psalm 71:12-21 (NRSVue)

O God, do not be far from me;
       O my God, make haste to help me!
Let my accusers be put to shame and consumed;
       let those who seek to hurt me
       be covered with scorn and disgrace.
But I will hope continually
       and will praise you yet more and more.
My mouth will tell of your righteous acts,
       of your deeds of salvation all day long,
       though their number is past my knowledge.
I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God;
       I will praise your righteousness, yours alone.

O God, from my youth you have taught me,
       and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
       O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might
       to all the generations to come.
Your power and your righteousness, O God,
       reach the high heavens.

You who have done great things,
       O God, who is like you?
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
       will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
       you will bring me up again.
You will increase my honor
       and comfort me once again.

III.
If we go to the entirety of Psalm 71 we will see other ways the Psalmist shouts his laments to God.

Do you think it goes too far to speak of shouting at God? Why?

How do you express your sorrow, pain, confusion and grief to God?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections July 7 2024 Lamentations 3:16–24 Post 3

VII.
Let’s look for words (and images) of hope today.

What all goes into the prophet’s affirmation – “… therefore I will hope in him”?

VIII.
Lamentations 3:16-24 (NRSVue)

He has made my teeth grind on gravel;
     he has made me cower in ashes;
my soul is bereft of peace;
     I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “Gone is my glory
     and all that I had hoped for from the Lord.”

The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
     is wormwood and gall!
My soul continually thinks of it
     and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
     and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
     his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
     great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
     “therefore I will hope in him.”

IX.
What do you think?

Maybe he now senses “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases”?

How does he come to that confidence?

And after so forcefully stating his “affliction and … homelessness” what brings him to report, “The Lord is my portion … I will hope in him”?

Look for a moment at the middle stanza of his lament –

The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
is wormwood and gall!
My soul continually thinks of it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

Are there times we need to voice our despair and afflictions before we can move from there to a place of hope?

Even before we join with the prophet and shout –

his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;

great is your faithfulness.

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections July 7 2024 Lamentations 3:16–24 Post 2

IV.
Let’s turn our attention today to any positive or uplifting images in this Scripture.

As you spend time with these words, take time to deeply notice what gives rise to hope for you.

V.
Lamentations 3:16-24 (NRSVue)

He has made my teeth grind on gravel;
     he has made me cower in ashes;
my soul is bereft of peace;
     I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “Gone is my glory
     and all that I had hoped for from the Lord.”

The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
     is wormwood and gall!
My soul continually thinks of it
     and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
     and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
     his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
     great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
     “therefore I will hope in him.”

VI.
Did you notice –

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope.”

Yet immediately before that “homelessness, wormwood and gall” are all mentioned.

What do you think begins the transition from his sense of homelessness, and the loss of peace, happiness, and hope?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Desu ibi est}

ISSL Reflections July 7 2024 Lamentations 3:16–24 Post 1

I.
This passage comes from a place of deep grief and pain –
“… I say, ‘Gone is my glory and all that I had hoped for from the Lord.”

On your initial readings of this passage pay attention to the words and images that are used to describe this loss of hope.

II.
Lamentations 3:16-24 (NRSVue)

He has made my teeth grind on gravel;
     he has made me cower in ashes;
my soul is bereft of peace;
     I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “Gone is my glory
     and all that I had hoped for from the Lord.”

The thought of my affliction and my homelessness
     is wormwood and gall!
My soul continually thinks of it
     and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
     and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
     his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
     great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
     “therefore I will hope in him.”

III.
Which images of the prophet’s’ pain connect most with you?

Have you been there – “bereft of peace,” “forgotten what happiness is,” “my homelessness,” and even, “Gone is … all that I had hoped for from the Lord.”

What words/images would you use to describe the place of hopelessness?

Do you know someone who is in that place now?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections June 30 2024 Acts 26:1–11 Post 3

VII.
In the final paragraph of this week’s focus passage, Paul recounts some of his actions toward the followers of Jesus.

Pay attention to what he reports he did and think about what the impact might have been?

VIII.
Acts 26:1-11 (NRSVue)

Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and began to defend himself:

“I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, because you are especially familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews; therefore I beg of you to listen to me patiently.

“All the Jews know my way of life from my youth, a life spent from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I have belonged to the strictest sect of our religion and lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial on account of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors, a promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship day and night. It is for this hope, Your Excellency, that I am accused by Jews! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?

“Indeed, I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things against the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is what I did in Jerusalem; with authority received from the chief priests, I not only locked up many of the saints in prison, but I also cast my vote against them when they were being condemned to death. By punishing them often in all the synagogues I tried to force them to blaspheme, and since I was so furiously enraged at them, I pursued them even to foreign cities.”

IX.
What might have been the impact on the followers of Jesus in the actions Paul mentions?

How might these actions have impacted him? For the better or for the worse?

He said he was “furiously enraged by them.” How does one get past such hostility? Does one? Did Paul?

How have you had occasion to move beyond hostility toward others? Maybe acceptance or even some level of caring?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

ISSL Reflections June 30 2024 Acts 26:1–11 Post 2

IV.
Paul contends it is “hope” that has brought him to Agrippa. What hope?

V.
Acts 26:1-11 (NRSVue)

Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul stretched out his hand and began to defend himself:

“I consider myself fortunate that it is before you, King Agrippa, I am to make my defense today against all the accusations of the Jews, because you are especially familiar with all the customs and controversies of the Jews; therefore I beg of you to listen to me patiently.

“All the Jews know my way of life from my youth, a life spent from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem. They have known for a long time, if they are willing to testify, that I have belonged to the strictest sect of our religion and lived as a Pharisee. And now I stand here on trial on account of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors, a promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly worship day and night. It is for this hope, Your Excellency, that I am accused by Jews! Why is it thought incredible by any of you that God raises the dead?

“Indeed, I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things against the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is what I did in Jerusalem; with authority received from the chief priests, I not only locked up many of the saints in prison, but I also cast my vote against them when they were being condemned to death. By punishing them often in all the synagogues I tried to force them to blaspheme, and since I was so furiously enraged at them, I pursued them even to foreign cities.”

VI.
Does he hope to be exonerated from the accusations against him?

Does he base his hope on his claim that King Agrippa is familiar with the “customs and controversies of the Jews”?

Does he hope King Agrippa will send a report back to Governor Festus to dismiss the accusations against him?

Does he place his hope in the “promise made by God to [his] ancestors”?

And for that matter – What “promise”?

And what does the idea that “God raises the dead” have to do with his hope?

charles
{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

PS – Some how the opening sentence of the last post was left out. You can view the corrected post at –