HI THERE! I'M BRIANNE TURCZYNSKI, FREELANCE WRITER, HISTORICAL RESEARCHER, & PERPETUAL SEEKER OF THE HUMAN CONDITION. WELCOME TO MY SPACE WHERE I SHARE THE BOOKS I'M READING, MY SPIRITUAL FINDINGS, FLOWERS IN MY GARDEN, AND LOST STORIES. ALL ARE WELCOME HERE.
You can see I marked Isaiah 55: 9-13. I also placed some leaves from that Fall season two or three years ago that my daughter gave me. But that little pen mark by verse 9: I marked it years ago when I first ventured to read the Bible. I thought these markings would distract me, so I made them as small as I could, but I love coming across them! They are precious, and I wish I would have marked more verses like this. That person I was a couple years ago (we should always be growing) found something sweet and significant in these lines. And now my attention is drawn again to them as it was my reading today, and I have spent all morning meditating on these verses (Lectio Divina), and it was a joy!
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this, is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” –(1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
This first letter from Paul to the Thessalonians was misinterpreted. So he wrote a second letter (2 Thessalonians) to urge them to quit their idleness and get to work as some in the church had heard Paul’s first message and stopped working just to wait for the Lord’s second coming. They had become a burden to their church because the church had begun to support them. It is the same when the angels told the disciples to stop gazing at the sky when Jesus was lifted to heaven (Acts 1:11). They needed to take Christ with them everywhere they went as they worked and as they played. Study and prayer in solitude is an excellent way to center yourself in God, but then we must take God with us out into the world. And when we are out mingling with people, we learn a lot of lessons, more lessons, about ourselves especially, than if we were studying scripture alone all the time. It is one of the reasons group Bible study can be good, people learn more from others than from themselves. Who knows, you may be the eyes that group needs to see a verse interpreted in a different light.
“No wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can explain to the king the mystery he has asked about, but there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries…” (Daniel 2:27-28)
Here Daniel is called to interpret a dream of the feared king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. I found it so interesting that the Babylonian king is given human-like qualities. Up to this point, we have only seen him as an oppressor of the Israelites, an ugly ruler off in the distance ready to kill and conquer. It made the vision of Babylon that much scarier to have a faceless, evil ruler. But here, he is pictured wondering and frightened by a dream he had. Nebuchadnezzar is putting himself in a vulnerable position by telling Daniel his dream. The dream is a warning for the king to change his ways, but twelve months go by and the king hasn’t changed. He’s as prideful as ever. So, as the king is admiring his kingdom on what seems like a peaceful day at the palace, a voice from the heavens interrupts his peace and he is cast-off to eat grass like the ox and live among the wild animals. When the king finally casts away his pride and gives credit to God his kingdom is restored to him.
This is true of anyone, our pride can only carry us for so long. God wants us to surrender it, like a soldier giving up their sword, because pride is the one major thing that separates a soul from its union with God (what #buddhists call, enlightenment). God wants to restore our peace and true peace can only exist if pride is surrendered.
First, you might wonder what this image is, it is the Holy Face of Jesus, the image that appeared clearly on the veil of Veronica. It is a powerful meditation and relevant to this post because how can one be a good watch person when their senses are destroyed like the senses of Christ were destroyed when he was crucified?
“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.” (Ezekiel 3:17)
Ezekiel was a prophet and a “watchman” for the Israelites while they were in Babylon. When I first read through the Bible, I began a study on the word watchman. It appears several times and it fascinated me. What is a watchman? Who is a watchman? Its meaning is not easily articulated. But put simply, in a theological sense, watchmen watch for God and they watch for things contrary to God. They know what God sounds like, looks like, feels like, etc., and they know what God doesn’t look like, sounds like, feels like, etc.—a skill that can be useful when navigating the world. There is a prophet in each of us that knows how to navigate the entities of good and evil and everything in between. We are all called to be that watch-person). Environmentalists, justice seekers, those who practice inclusion, anyone on the frontlines of this pandemic, and I can be a watch-person by speaking out when I am called. And I am open to my ‘post’ changing over time. Next time I may be called to act instead of speak, or I may be called to be silent. No matter what the watch-person is called to do, the most important thing we can do is to be one with God in all we do and send what is contrary to God, God’s love and peace
I have no authority to teach you. These are my own contemplative thoughts, you may disagree and that’s OK!
“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness, and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail… They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait (quietly) for him.” (Lamentations 3:19-24)
The title of this book was originally translated from Hebrew to the words “Alas!” or “How?” Lamentations is a sort of epic poem of which
Jeremiah was probably the author. Throughout the book, the prophet is lamenting over the destruction of Jerusalem. We all have things that
bear weight in our hearts, the crumbling of our comforts and securities perhaps? Here Jeremiah describes the horrific events in Jerusalem; then with hope and faith in the Lord’s mercy, he prays for
the people and describes the Lord’s mighty hand of Love which delivers perpetual hope to the faithful of this Hope. Jeremiah reminds us that we must remember our afflictions and the distractions that kept us wandering away from God’s path for us. To continually grow and mature in Spirit we must remember, like Christ, we too have born our own crosses, and these crosses were not in vain. Their purpose was to teach and redirect. When Jesus was nailed to the cross he looked up to heaven and lamented ‘why?” to God. “Why has thou forsaken me?” Which are the same words David speaks in psalm 22. In doing this he was lifting his troubles to God giving God credit, not only for future generations to see the Truth in that day, but to show the witnesses that He had not lost His faith even when it was God who allowed Him to suffer the way He did. The verse of Lamentations continues saying, “Who can speak and have it happen if the Lord has not decreed it?”
“But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved
us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his
mercy.” -Titus 3:5
Paul’s letter to Titus, who was leading ministry efforts for the
island of Crete, is an essential letter for leaders of the church even
today. Paul’s words in the verse above here are important for us too,
as he reminds us that we are to love even those who hurt us. As we’ve
heard it before, it’s easy to love agreeable people who love us back
and show their love to us, but it can be hard to love those who hurt
us and don’t want us in their lives, but if your heart is open to the
Holy Spirit it will be easy to love these difficult people. Be open to
the Spirit and let her talk to you about True love and mercy, because
it’s the only language she knows. Any other language speaking to the
heart that doesn’t revolve around love and mercy is not coming from
the Holy Spirit and comes from some other, dare I say, unholy place.
Be well in heart, all of you!
“Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16)
In the class I’m taking through the diocese, we are learning about a lot about prayer. It is a time for renewal and restoration. Some go on week long retreats to pray, some for the weekend or a day, and others take 15-30 minutes everyday to center themselves in prayer. Some simply meditate. However you do this it is healthy and good to reconnect to God and to your ‘center’, where God exists or the very best version of yourself. We all need to reconnect to this part of our existence often to keep ourselves restored, renewed, energized, inspired so we are able to continue straight the road to Love.
“Listen! Your watchman lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes.” ( Isaiah 52:8)
“Israel’s watchman are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs; they can not bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep.” ( Isaiah 56:10)
Basically the book of Isaiah can be summed up by these two contrasting images of the watchman. In one half of his book he prophecies hope & redemption and the other half he prophecies realty of the future based on what he sees in Judah and Israel. It is a warning to them. To not let the watchman sleep, as they were getting a little lazy in their devotion to God.
We all have a watchman inside of us, do not let the seeker in you sleep, keep an eye out for Truth and Love, watch with the eyes of your heart and listen with the ears of your heart. “Watch and pray….The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14: 38)
I think I wrote more notes from the book of Isaiah than any other. It is long for one thing, but it is also filled with wisdom and beautiful words.