Thursday – January 23, 2020
It was missing a piece. /And it was not happy.
So it set off in search of a missing piece.
And as it rolled, it sang this song:
Oh, I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece/Lookin’ for my missin’ piece.
Hi—dee—ho,/ here I go,
I’m lookin’ for my missin’ piece.
A Word of Hope
Oh, so very long ago, when I combed bookstores for gifts for my young niece and nephew, I came upon Shel Silverstein’s The Missing Piece, whose opening is cited above. With its minimalist drawings and catchy rhyming song, it depicts a search for someone/something to complete the central figure, referred to as It. (Access a delightful animated version of the book here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKGXEE-sZVs)
As It sets off on its journey, It stops along the way to smell a flower, delight in a butterfly and other small pleasures, but the quest-drive propels It forward. Over oceans and mountains, swamps and jungles It goes, searching. Every time It thinks It discovers someone who could fill its emptiness, It is disappointed. Someone doesn’t want It back; another doesn’t fit—they are too big for the space or too small for the space. Sometimes its hold is too loose, sometimes too tight, crushing the missing piece. When at last It finds the “perfect match” and takes MP rolling, rolling, rolling through life, It begins to move so fast that it doesn’t take the time to enjoy the flowers or be still enough for a butterfly landing. And It loses its song.
In the moment of realization, It gently places the missing piece on the ground and takes up his song of the road again: Oh I’m looking for my missing piece….
This richly suggestive “children’s book,” an archetypal journey of yearning and aspiration, mirrors a persistent human desire for completion. But, as Thomas Merton once said: “Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made by what you desire.”
St. Augustine understands this truth. After a youth of pleasure seeking, he cries out to God: “[I]n my unlovely state I plunged into those lovely created things which you made. You were with me, and I was not with you.…You called and cried out loud and shattered my deafness. You were radiant and resplendent, you put to flight my blindness. You were fragrant, and I drew in my breath and now pant after you. I tasted you, and I feel but hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and I am set on fire to attain the peace which is yours.”
It is Divine Love which fills our ache for completion, fills the God- shaped hole inside.
Beloved Missing Piece, may we relinquish fruitless searching and find our rest in you. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon
Wednesday – January 22, 2020
Praise the Lord, my soul;
all my inmost being, praise God’s holy name.
A Word of Hope
How would you define your soul; maybe, the part of us that lives forever, our personality, our life force? I like the poetic definition in Psalm 103: My inmost being. Besides that, the Bible says very little about the soul other than using the term to describe loving God with our authentic selves.
Certainly, that fact does not prevent a lot of people from proclaiming biblical evidence for their own assumptions about the soul. “Only humans have souls. There are no animals in Heaven.” The Bible doesn’t say that. “She sold her soul to the devil!” The Bible doesn’t say that either. The soul is not a marketable diabolical commodity. Even the wonderful Harry Potter books use the soul as a major plot element. The central villain discovers a spell that splits the soul into seven pieces, which he hides away in various containers called Horcruxes. As long as a piece of his soul is kept safe, Lord Voldemort cannot be killed. Needless to say, finding biblical reference to soul-splitting would not be a valuable use of our time either.
I do like the term “Horcrux” however. I have many possessions that I call my Holy Horcruxes. Each one was a gift from a friend. When we joyfully give to each other, we are sharing a part of ourselves, of our inmost being. The Holy Horcruxes are also prayer-inspiring objects. Whenever I look at a potted plant, a book, a tea cup, anything that was given to me, I remember the givers and I send a quick prayer their way; a prayer for the peace and comfort of their souls. One member of the church staff loves to find special soaps and hand lotions every year as little Christmas gifts. I pray for her every time I wash my hands. Another friend has given me dozens of obscure super-hero action figures throughout the years. I think of him in prayer every time I look at Captain Midnight or the Black Canary.
How many Holy Horcruxes do you have in your home, pieces of the souls of people who have shared their love with you? Take a moment and look again at their gifts and remember: your prayers can enrich the part of them that lives forever.
Thank you for the Holy Horcruxes in our lives. May they remind us that you, too, love each of us with your inmost being. Amen
Minister for Children and Families
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Tuesday – January 21, 2020
Hebrews 10. 1-4
“The Law is not our salvation.”
A Word of Hope
Humans, from the first day one of us stood upright, have believed that we had to earn our salvation. This was true before humanity knew what it meant to be saved or discovered by whom. Sacrifices to the gods have been commonplace in most civilizations by most races. Most of the animal and human sacrifices have stopped today except for some remote tribes.
However, “civilized” men and women still feel a need to sacrifice something to earn God’s favor and ultimately “salvation.” We believe that WE must say certain ritual prayers, conduct ritual ceremonies, fast on a regular basis and do an “assortment” of things to make our relationship with God “right.” The sacrifices only serve to remind US and not GOD of our need for reconciliation. For the faithful, we know that our reconciliation is unearned and only accomplished through the life, death and resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
We need to recall that Jesus and our salvation is a pure gift with which we are invited to cooperate but do not cause. Deep breath, Deep breath! I realize it is unbelievable – at least, hard to believe. But we are loved and saved as we are – not as we have been or as we may be one day. We are known by not only name, but nickname and have been for all eternity.
O Holy One! Each day we are reminded of your faithfulness and your love. Each day, too, we have moments of doubt. Your love is always simply too wonderful for us to wrap our minds around successfully. Forgive us those times that we do not appreciate the life you have given to us. Help us to share your love with others and in doing so, remind ourselves of the special relationship we have with you.
We pray these words through your many names, O Holy One!
Cathedral of Hope
United Church of Christ
Monday – January 20, 2020
Praise God with trumpet sound; praise God with lute and harp! Praise God with tambourine and dance; praise God with strings and pipe! Praise God with clanging cymbals; praise God with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that breathes praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! (Inclusive Language)
A Word of Hope
Today is Martin Luther King, Jr Day 2020. One aspect of the Civil Rights Era that had significant meaning during civil rights movement was music. There were multiple songs which encouraged people to take an active role in the movement to gain equal rights for all. Lyrics and instruments (music) is a common denominator among all people. It touches our senses which can empower people to take action.
The scripture above says that people during “ancient times” also understood the impact of music and how God enjoyed being praised through instruments, singing, and dancing. This form of worship brought joy to the Creator of the Universe then as it does now. The word “praise” is repeated eight times in these verses which highlights worship, instruments, and lyrics.
The Impressions (People Get Ready), The Staple Singers (I’ll Take You There), Sweet Honey in the Rock (Eyes on the Prize), Bob Dylan (The Times They are a Changing), Mavis Staples (We Shall Not Be Moved), Sam Cooke (A Change is Gonna Come) and The Roots (Ain’t Nobody Gonna Turn Me Around) sang songs that had universal appeal during that era. The music was not only shared at sit-ins and marches but also at concerts, night clubs, and parks so people could know of the movement as it related to peace, freedom, justice, ecology, and human rights. It crossed cultural boundaries. It even crossed into other genres of music including gospel, rock and roll, jazz, blues, and soul.
Music has a mysterious way of drawing people together. Each one of us knows music is powerful. The rhythms, the metaphors, and the rhymes speak volumes to the listener. Today as we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, let us remember the Civil Rights movement by praising God for life, music, and liberty.
Dear Alpha and Omega: We are grateful that you give us the creative spirit, the words, and instruments to help us recognize that you created us all to meld together like an awesome band. Singing, playing instruments, and collaborating together can be an excellent example of how working together for equality, justice, peace, and human rights can make a significant difference in the lives of many people just like Jesus did when He was on this earth. May it be so. Amen!
Reverend Winner Laws
Cathedral of Hope Staff
Friday – January 17, 2020
God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; and he went about doing good.
A Word of Hope
I recently heard a local DJ talk about how much she loved the opportunity she had to do something good for someone else. She’d helped a woman jumpstart her car on the way to work. On the surface, this was no epic hero’s tale – which may be part of the point. But the joy this DJ radiated while recounting the event touched my spirit. She said her daily prayer will be for God to help her see these opportunities and take them.
I began reflecting on times when I reached out in similar acts kindness and was blessed enough to see the results.
Two months ago, a friend of mine
set off for a trip to Asia she’d been planning for a year. From the moment she left Dallas, she kept her
friends updated on every leg of the journey. The setbacks she experienced from
the very beginning were almost excruciating to read. After a long flight delay
leaving DFW, she missed her connecting flight in LA, was put up in a hotel
until the airline could put her on another plane to Asia.
For three impossibly long days of false starts.
I knew I would either be back in Dallas or crying in the fetal position at the airport by that point if it were me. I told my friend how much her grace and patience inspired me and prayed her trip would be that much greater from the multiplied good karma. Once she (finally) arrived in Asia, I cherished her every update. It turned out to be a life-changing, unforgettable trip.
Upon her arrival back in Dallas, she sent me a message thanking me for my supportive comment early in her trip. What she didn’t disclose in her social media updates was the crippling frustration she was feeling at the time. She received my message as she sat in her hotel room in LA crying after deciding to give up and return to Dallas. She said my comment gave her some strength to continue on her journey and thanked me again.
Tears welled up in my eyes from both the surprising effect of one comment I made and the realization of the many opportunities I’ve squandered to act in seemingly small ways that can make an enormous difference.
I believe the times we act out of empathy and altruism are the moments when we are at our most authentic. I know they’re the times when I sense the presence of God most viscerally. I could use more of those in my life.
Most Loving God,
Make us a people who, like Jesus, go about doing good. Not as an obligation but as the pure extension of Your Love within us.
May we daily call to mind this simple, powerful prayer:
Where would you have me go?
What would you have me do?
What would you have me say?
And to whom?
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