Meditation on Jeremiah 29:4-13

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Refugee, Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

 

Immigrants have throughout history made lives for themselves in their new countries. They have worked and contributed to their adopted countries whether they arrived there as refugees, exiles or simply because they were in search of a place where they might have a better life. We do ourselves and our country a great disservice by being unwelcoming or hostile to those, who like either ourselves or our ancestors, came or were brought here. We have a long history of welcoming immigrants, but it isn’t a history without blemish. Some groups of immigrants have been welcomed more warmly than others and some groups have been met with hostility because of biases and fear. Our country grows stronger when immigrants thrive here as they have done since the founding of our nation.

 
God of mercy, help us to see your son, Jesus Christ in every refugee, in every person who is fleeing from injustice, war, persecution or famine. Help us to open our hearts and our minds so that we may provide places of haven and rest for all who are in need of our help. Let us welcome each stranger as we would welcome Christ himself so that all may know the love and compassion of your people. Through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen

Phillip Schwartz

Meditation on John 5:10-29

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Do Not Be Astonished, Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

“Very truly, I tell you, anyone who hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life, and does not come under judgment, but has passed from death to life. Very truly, I tell you, the hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself; and he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”

 

 

Do Not Be Astonished

We can be lifted from our present graves.

Christ’s voice awakens spirit within us.

He can pull us from darkness into life.

The Son disperses fog shrouds that blind us.

We who dwell in gloom must embrace our Christ.

May we be illumined by his love, his light.

 

There are times in our lives when we need a little extra help. For me this is one of those times. The constant barrage of bad news is unsettling and inescapable. I’ve taken to avoiding as much as can be avoided. The Bible is as relevant as current events, and can be as challenging, but scripture also provides a haven for us in troubled times. I don’t believe that God wants us to disengage from our created world, but for our spiritual well being we may need brief respites in order to function with clarity.

Phillip Schwartz

Meditation on Mathew 2:13-18, Holy Innocents

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The Flight Into Egypt, Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

 

When the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod.

 

The Holy Family became refugees and sought asylum in Egypt until the threat Herod posed to Jesus had passed away with the despot himself. For as long as there has been civilization there have been refugees. They flee their homes for many reasons, but in the end it is about survival. Today we are witness to a huge refugee crisis. Thousands upon thousands of men, women, and children are fleeing for their lives. Many of them die en route and many, once they have reached safety, will be be deported or detained in camps. They need our help and our compassion.

 
God of mercy, help us to see your son, Jesus Christ in every refugee, in every person who is fleeing from injustice, war, persecution or famine. Help us to open our hearts and our minds so that we may provide places of haven and rest for all who are in need of our help. Let us welcome each stranger as we would welcome Christ himself so that all may know the love and compassion of your people. Through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen

Phillip Schwartz

Meditation on Luke 2:8-20 The Nativity of Our Lord

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The Nativity of Our Lord, Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

 

Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!” When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.” So they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the child lying in the manger. When they saw this, they made known what had been told them about this child; and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them. But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

 

 

We Celebrate Him

With adoration let us praise Him.
Into our hearts we integrate Him.
With diligence we emulate Him.
Gratefully, we celebrate Him.

 

 

What Child is This?

What child is this who’s star Leads kings and shepherd boys?
This infant king in barnyard born.
His family is forced to flee a tyrant’s rage and jealousy.
His tender mother’s heart is pierced, but to the world he will bring joy, this King, this Savior, now a boy.

Phillip Schwartz

Meditation on Luke 1:26-38

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The Annunciation, Paper Cutout, Phillip Schwartz

 

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

 

Holy Mary Mother of God, you were still just a child, when an angel came to announce your fate.
Had you refused, what then would our fate be? Would Jesus would have become incarnate through another’s womb?
But you did not refuse. You were guided by your faith. Fear did not prevent you from bearing us our Savior.
You raised a child who must have been beyond your comprehension. Can it be possible to mother God?

Phillip Schwartz

A Thanksgiving

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Stained Glass, Christ Church, Hudson, NY

 

You have clothed me and fed me and comforted me.
You have known me entirely and loved me.
You have loved me when I have hated myself.
You have loved me when I have hated you.
You have touched my hardened heart and melted it.
You have visited me when I was alone.
You have dried my tears.
You have turned my rage into calm.
You have helped me to endure what I thought I could not bear.
You have shown me love through the love of others.
You have taught me to love.
You have opened my heart to sorrow.
You have opened my heart to joy.
You have made me glad that I can cry.
You have made me grateful for laughter.
You have given me life.
For all of this I am grateful.
I give you praise. I give you thanks.

Phillip Schwartz

Post Election Despair

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america right or wrong, phillip schwartz, wood and copper, 1992

Let Not Hate Prevail

Save us Lord from ourselves when we are at our worst. Our divisiveness obliterates love.

When will we learn to set our selves aside? Can we learn to love even though we differ?

Let us stand face to face and eye to eye to examine faces and look into hearts.

We come to You in different ways. We may not all know You, but to You we are all known.

 

phillip schwartz

 

In Darkness You Found Me

In darkness and solitude you found me. Let me never to darkness be returned.

Elusive love where were you? My heart felt like dust in my chest. Happiness shunned me.

My companions knew a false man. I clothed my face in many masks. To each I was another. I revealed my soul to few.

My true self I hid for fear of my own darkness. My morose thoughts I rarely allowed escape my lips.

To you though I was true. One cannot lie in in prayer. Before you I was stripped of all pretense.

To you I have been visible even while I hid. Deception is not a trick that can be played upon The Lord.

When I turned to you, you loved me and when I turned away I felt nothing but despair.

You guided me to paths I never could have found alone. You led me to find life.

Dark still threatens when I’m tried, though I desire light. I need your light and love to guard me from my dark.

In darkness and solitude you found me. Let me never to darkness be returned.

 

phillip schwartz

Meditation on Luke 11:53-12:12

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in prayer, phillip schwartz, gouache  on paper, 1995

“When they bring you before the synagogues, the rulers, and the authorities, do not worry about how you are to defend yourselves or what you are to say; for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that very hour what you ought to say.”

There are times when something just comes to us. We’re in a situation; an answer or a word is required of us. We have no idea how to respond, and then suddenly it’s over and we have said the perfect thing. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way, but when it does, it feels wonderful. Sometimes a truth materializes out of thin air. Or does it? A few months ago I was in a prayer situation. I was praying with a guy that I don’t know very well. He had asked me to lay hands on him and pray because he was hurting emotionally. He wasn’t specific, and I really didn’t know how to pray for him. He closed his eyes and I placed my hands on his shoulders and words came into my head and out of my mouth and soon we were both in tears. They were the good kind of tears that leave you feeling undeniably better. Once we had composed ourselves, he asked me how I had known how and for what to pray. I told him the only thing that I could. “It wasn’t me.”

Phillip Schwartz

Like Lazarus

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lazarus, phillip schwartz, 1997, graphite on paper, 84″x42″

Like Lazarus your love has brought me back from the dead. But can life truly be ransomed from death? Or will I forever carry the burden of death in my soul?

I want to feel the joy of your love. I want to feel the joy of your saving help. I will turn away from the death that stalks me.

Am I grateful to You for sparing my life? There is no easy answer. I was ready to sleep forever in your saving embrace. Yet I awoke.

I was at peace and now I suffer. I was at rest and now I struggle. Is it ungrateful for me to wish to be with you?

Yet still I would not change the course on which I’m led. I would not question motives that are unknowable.

I try to accept all you give with humility and gratitude even though I understand it little.

At times my heart is rebellious and rails against your will. Then I am humbled and I regret my willful rage.

You are the only constant. I am but a weed. I am blown away like chaff. From dust I am made and to dust I will return. How pleasant it will be to go home.

Phillip Schwartz