Contemporary Scripture Reflections for Spiritual Seekers
Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, BCC, PCC

SUNDAY BIBLETALK
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Sunday, August 25th, 2019
Excerpt from
DREAM FEAST
My friends,
gather for the dream.
Trumpets sound silver,
the shofar calls.
The feast of fat foods
and fine wines is spread;
the meal awaits.
Your place is set,
and the Bridegroom comes.

Do you not hear his feet
gentle upon the mountain?
Flowers yield fragrance;
earth trembles;
trees bend as he draws near,
strewing blossoms before him
to carpet the way.
Stones soften beneath his step;
streams run, leap,
cascading down rock
while rainbows arc
in the spray.

Come! Come speedily!
Leave your tent-making,
your spinning and fishing,
your selling and haggling.
Leave fields and pastures,
temples and synagogues.
Leave the sheep in their pen,
chickens to their scratching,
turtledoves in the temple court.
Leave villas and hovels,
city streets and dusty tracks.
Leave all and come!
The Bridegroom draws near.

Come! Come as you are!
Bring nothing but yourselves.
Leave behind canes
and crutches,
money bags. jewels,
phylacteries and beggars' cups.
Come! Come empty!

Unclench your fists!
Stretch out your hands
to claim the inheritance--
here there is room for you
and for all who have known
the swollen belly
and parched tongue,
the aching heart and weary feet,
the closed door
and unsmiling face..

Here is a feast for the poor!


Elizabeth-Anne Stewart,
Woman Dreamer



FOOD FOR THOUGHT
  1. What is the relationship between climate change and the displacement of peoples?
  2. What can you do to build the Kingdom of God in the here and now?
  3. Who are the people from the north and from the south, from the east and from the west whom you envision around God's table?
  4. Where do you imagine you will be seated at God's table?

Greetings, Readers!

What is the narrow gate leading into the Kingdom of God? According to Jesus, "many will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough" Lk 13:24. Evidently, it is not enough to claim to know Jesus, to eat and drink in his company or to listen to his teachings (in other words, being devout churchgoers does not make us disciples). Today's Gospel warns that many who pay "lip service" to Christ will find the doors of the Kingdom of Heaven locked against them. The challenge is for each of us to examine how fully we live the Gospel message: are we religious conformists who merely keep the fasts and the holy days, or are we followers of Jesus committed to building a just society?

No amount of piety will open the gate for us; Jesus himself is the narrow gate and those to whom he opens
live by his values, his compassion, his mercy....

Many Blessings!
Elizabeth
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SCRIPTURE REFLECTION

And there will be wailing and grinding of teeth
when you see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
and all the prophets in the kingdom of God
and you yourselves cast out.
And people will come from the east and the west
and from the north and the south
and will recline at table in the kingdom of God. 
For behold, some are last who will be first,
and some are first who will be last."
Luke 13:22-30

All the migrant peoples coming from the north and from the south, from the east and from the west, are seeking the Kingdom of God -- though they may not know it. All the stateless and homeless, the refugees and asylum seekers are seeking the Kingdom of God. All those who cross oceans in rickety boats, who wade across treacherous rivers, or who cross inhospitable deserts are seeking the Kingdom of God. They may think that they are heading for safety and security, in search of a better life for themselves and their children, but the reality is that "God's Kingdom" is the only "place" of peace, harmony, goodwill, safety and fullness of life.

Sadly, this elusive Kingdom, while it can be attained as a state of mind, has yet to come as a geographical location. It is certainly not to be found in societies racked with violence, crime, racism, sexism and classism; nor is it to be found in countries which promote war, destroy the environment and fail to provide for the basic needs of their citizens-- food, shelter, quality education, job opportunities, affordable medical care....

Migrants, refugees and asylum seekers leave behind their loved ones, their homes, their countries, their way of life, journeying by hazardous ways to reach "the Promised Land," wherever they imagine it to be. Some die along the way; others become the victims of human traffickers; still others are robbed, beaten, tortured and imprisoned -- all for the sake of the "roads paved with gold" which they believe await them. After all their suffering, they are turned back at border crossings or else imprisoned in detention centers or refugee camps. Their misery, far from being over, intensifies. And if they happen to be "the lucky ones" who eventually cross over into a new land, there they are likely to encounter prejudice, racism, poverty and exploitation.

In an ideal world, the Kingdom of God would be a place of welcome for all peoples. The Book of Revelation describes the New Jerusalem as a city of unsurpassed beauty and brilliance: " And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, with each gate consisting of a single pearl. The main street of the city was pure gold, as pure as transparent glass" Rev 21:21. The "gold" is God's dwelling among the people: "God will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away" Rev.21:4.

Our world has become increasingly hostile to the displaced people who flee from their homelands. In years to come, the number of refugees and migrants is going to increase dramatically. Warfare, famine, the loss of coast lands and arable land, water scarcity -- all these factors are going to make many densely populated areas uninhabitable. Then there will be a mass exodus of desperate human beings, all converging on wealthier nations. We have a choice:" to wait indefinitely for a "new heaven and a new earth," or to build the Kingdom of God in our midst -- a Kingdom of peace, justice and compassion where strangers will find welcome and where there will be the resources to help them flourish.

UPCOMING CLASSES & WORKSHOPS
Imagery and Spiritual Awakening
Institute for Life Coach Training
Tele-course, Tuesday nights, October 15-November 26th, 2019. 5:00-6:30 pm CST

Lector Training
I will be facilitating Lector Training & Formation at St. Pius V Parish, Pilsen, Wednesdays, September 18 & 25, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Call or email Mary Jane Vogt, 312-922-8205.
maryjanevogt2@gmail.com


SPIRITUAL DIRECTION
This video explains my approach to this ministry, while my website provides further details as well. I work "in person" as well as remotely by phone, Zoom or Skype; I am also available to facilitate retreats for groups and individuals.



Dr. Elizabeth-Anne Stewart | www.elizabeth-annestewart.com | e.a.stewart@sbcglobal.net

All Photos by Elizabeth-Anne Stewart, www.artfulphotographer.com