Friday – July 19, 2019
Do you know what I want?
I want justice – oceans of it!
I want fairness – rivers of it!
That’s what I want. That’s all I want.
God, according to Amos 5:24 The Message
A Word of Hope
You may know this text from Amos in the more familiar words of the New Revised Standard Version: “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness flow like an ever-flowing stream.” The first time I heard this verse was in my freshman college course on the “Old Testament.” I was shocked. I remember thinking, God cares about justice? Although my evangelical church taught me a lot about the Bible as I grew up out on the Minnesota prairie, there was no mention of justice. I can only guess that after teaching us all about sin, there was no space left in the curriculum.
The most recent time I heard this verse was in Stockholm, Sweden at the Nobel Museum. As part of a special exhibition in honor of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., they had tapes of some of his speeches. As I sat there listening with headphones, the tears flowed as I heard Dr. King so passionately quote this verse in Memphis on the night before he was killed. “It really doesn’t matter now,” he said referring to the threats against him, all the happenings around him. He knew what God wanted and had been working hard to make God’s dream come true. That is what mattered.
We can get caught up in the day to day “doings” of our faith or the “work” of the church. For the Israelites, it may have been incense, sacrifices and offerings. For us, maybe it’s stirring worship, amazing music, community building, conferences, trustee meetings and capital campaigns. Amos doesn’t think these things are important to God. No, God only wants one thing, justice and fairness, and anything else is background noise.
Maybe we’ve got too much clutter in the space between us and God. We need to hear God’s voice neat, like our whiskey. Straight up. No dilution. I propose to you that this is God’s word for you today and every day. “I want justice – oceans of it! I want fairness – rivers of it! That’s what I want! That’s all I want!”
May we hear and feel today the clarity, the passion and the urgency in God’s voice. And having heard and felt that, may we stir ourselves to action. Let it be so.
Thursday – July 18, 2019
Once in the village of Gubbio, a wolf was terrorizing both animals and people, the danger so severe that people took to arming themselves for protection. St. Francis, in compassion for all, offered to meet the feral creature on the road. When the wolf lunged to attack him, he raised a prayer, made the sign of the cross, and the wolf laid down at his feet, meek as a lamb. In the following weeks, Francis fashioned a peacekeeping pact between brother wolf and the community—providing food for the animal and safety for the people. (summarized from fisheaters.com blog)
A Word of Hope
I didn’t see it at first. The displaced board and the rip in the sturdy wire mesh beneath the gable vent. The scat on the roof, the size of the hole –and the force it took to rip it open—all indicated a raccoon invasion, a hunch confirmed the night I saw two eyes shining above me when I let the dogs out.
For some East Texas folks, a rifle offers a quick fix to the problem—and, truth be told, the destruction from raccoons can be considerable. But all created nature is of God, blessed as “good,” so one tenet of my spiritual discipline is “first, do no harm.”
I borrowed my neighbors’ humane trap, baiting it with tasty food, and set it out next to the house, planning to relocate the masked marauder with the help of a man in the neighborhood.
“Rocky” eluded us the first night, but we caught him on the second try, transporting him to a dense, forested area with a good fishing source on the lake. Then it was repair time, another morning’s work, another trip to “town” to get supplies. And that might have been the end of the story. But about bedtime that evening, a ruckus startled us—bumping, scratching, tearing. Inadvertently, we had imprisoned another raccoon who had been hiding in the attic. Though I was weary from the daily challenges and short on sleep, the next morning I called Will, my cohort, and told him we had to open the hole again. I could not be the cause of this death.
I have more work to do with my raccoon boarders and will continue my peace-keeping pact, remembering, as Thomas Berry says: “The natural world is the larger sacred community to which we belong. To be alienated from this community is to become destitute in all that makes us human. To damage this community is to diminish our own existence.”
God of earth and sea and sky, forgive us our shoddy stewardship of your creation. May we walk gently in the woods, hearts filled with care for all that is yours. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon
Wednesday – July 17, 2019
“A legal expert stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to gain eternal life?” Jesus replied, “What is written in the Law? How do you interpret it?” He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you will live.” But the legal expert wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He encountered thieves, who stripped him naked, beat him up, and left him near death. Now it just so happened that a priest was also going down the same road. When he saw the injured man, he crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. Likewise, a Levite came by that spot, saw the injured man, and crossed over to the other side of the road and went on his way. A Samaritan, who was on a journey, came to where the man was. But when he saw him, he was moved with compassion. The Samaritan went to him and bandaged his wounds, tending them with oil and wine. Then he placed the wounded man on his own donkey, took him to an inn, and took care of him. The next day, he took two full days’ worth of wages and gave them to the innkeeper. He said, ‘Take care of him, and when I return, I will pay you back for any additional costs.’ What do you think? Which one of these three was a neighbor to the man who encountered thieves?” Then the legal expert said, “The one who demonstrated mercy toward him.” Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”” Luke 10.25-37 CEB
A Word of Hope
Caring about others
In today’s society just like in the biblical text, the pastors, the lawyers, and people with power are passing by the people that are victimized like immigrants and homeless. There are more than 550K people sleeping in the streets of the United States on any given night. The government gives private companies money to assist and aid the people in the homeless shelters including housing, medical treatment, food provisions; however, the total sum of monies provided never make it to the homeless shelters. There are many times that privileged people, businesses look for loopholes in systems and processes to increase their profits without regard to the poor, the immigrants, or the homeless; however, in John 12:8 Jesus said “You will always have the poor among you…”
The immigrants are another set of people whom are voiceless because they cannot speak English and some of the border patrol of which (in some cases are bi-lingual) are acting as though these people are not human. The immigrants are hurting because they have come great distances to reach the border of the United States to be treated like animals that need to be caged and separated from their children or parents. In a lot of cases the immigrants are fleeing to the US to avoid political execution. In fact, flash back in history to the 1600’s that this is not the first time children have been separated from the mothers while breastfeeding their babies. Although they were taken from their home country Africa – they, too, were treated less than 100% human. It is infuriating that we are witnessing history repeat itself. The government, politicians, and big business are not willing to hear their voices through interpreters whom would advocate for their humanity. In the text without the Samaritan the wounded man more than likely would have died.
There are things we could do to help including contacting our Congress and Senators and let them know we disagree with their actions. Additionally, we could give to organizations like Contact organizations like Families Belong Together, Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center, The Samaritan Inn, or Family Promise that are helping in this crisis and give toiletries, soap, toothpaste, as well as money. These steps let them know that we see them. We care about them. By taking these steps we would be doing as Jesus requested us to “Go and do likewise.” as stated in Luke 10:37.
Dear Creator of the Universe: Please help us to give a voice to the voiceless when it is obvious that children and non-English speaking immigrants as well as homeless people need compassion. Enlighten us as listeners and hearers of Your words to hear Your direction, Your wisdom, Your truth so that we might correct the systems of injustice and soften our hearts to be more empathetic to each person’s plight. In Your darling son Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Reverend Winner Laws
Cathedral of Hope Minister
TCU Brite Divinity School graduate
Tuesday – July 16, 2019
“For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our savior, Jesus Christ, but we had been eyewitnesses of Christ’s majesty.”
2 Peter 1:16
A Word of Hope
Eyewitnesses of Majesty
In the early days of the Christian community, those who were first-hand witnesses to Jesus’ life, teachings, crucifixion and resurrection, shared their experience with whomever they encountered. Jesus had told them to go and tell the story (The Great Commission of Matthew 28). When you have life-changing news you want others to know, so that they might experience the abundant life found in receiving and sharing God’s grace.
This text is from the second letter that is found in the New Testament which bears the name of Peter—the disciple whom Jesus referred to as “the rock.” It reflects what was occurring as the distance of time from Jesus’ life grew greater, and people began to question the truth of what seemed an incredulous tale. When this letter was written, Peter had likely already died and those who had heard his moving and transforming eyewitness account recorded it for other generations. Above all, they wanted people who heard the story to know the difference between clever story-telling and conveying a legacy of divine Truth.
The pre-school-age granddaughter of a friend of mine was visiting her grandparents last Easter. She lived in another state and didn’t get to visit very often, so when Sunday came, she excitedly went with them to the church where they worshipped. Her parents did not attend any church, and this was her first time to experience the glorious celebration of this Christian holy day. It was a large church with colorful banners, a wonderful orchestra, and an inspiring message about the Easter story presented by the pastor. She was captivated!
When she returned to her grandparents’ home after a delicious Easter lunch, she asked if she could write a note to the pastor to thank him for the wonderful time that she had at their church. Crayon-to-paper, she carefully crafted a self-portrait of a beautifully dressed little girl with an Easter basket in hand. In her depiction, she was sitting in front of a pulpit that stood beneath a cross with flowers on it. You could see the pastor in a colorful robe waving his hands and speaking. At the bottom of the page, with the help of her grandmother, she wrote these words: “Thank you ‘pasture’ [sic] for telling me the Easter story! I had never heard it before.”
I want to be a witness who is reminded by children such as this little girl that there are many people who have not heard the story of Jesus’ love. I hope that wherever we find those who are wandering and wondering: “Is this all there is to life?” we might be able to tell our experience of a powerful story that has changed us, and we can be witnesses, too.
God of amazing love, we seek the touch of your grace upon our life today. May we open our hearts to the transforming power of your Spirit, and in doing so, discover that our life is the best testimony we can offer of your mercy, love, and presence. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Gary G. Kindley
Monday – July 15, 2019
For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15.1
A Word of Hope
Although it may not seem very spiritual at first, I sometimes wonder how certain things smelled back in the days of the Bible. I imagine there were lots of familiar smells such as fires burning while people cooked, anointing oils, wine, or other smells in nature, but for the ancient Bible days, I can pretty much stop there.
Recently, somebody asked on Facebook about what they remembered of things and places past while living in Arlington, Texas, the city where I grew up in my teen years. I remembered a little country store called Granny and Granddad’s. Suddenly, I was taken back in time and remembering very specifically how that little store smelled when I first walked in. It was a former house, made of old wood that contained distinct smells of candy, popcorn, and whatever hot foods they may have served. Potato wedges anyone?
My mind then wandered off to other places in my time travels. Another location I remembered was Wyatt’s Cafeteria where I could distinctly pick out the olfactory pleasures of fresh coffee, roast beef, and brown gravy.
If three is a charm, the third place was a toy store in North Dallas called Booth’s Toys. I really don’t know how to describe those smells that were in the store; there was nothing more than brand new boxes of games and plastic model kits. The smells contributed so much to those treasured few minutes of just walking into a magical place with no intent of doing anything but looking at all those wonderful toys. Those smells created some kind of inspiration deep within me. Maybe it was anticipating my birthday or Christmas or just the idea of living in some kind of mystical fantasy paradise.
I don’t really know how to label those feelings. What matters is all of these things combined created indelible memories. I was inspired. It’s how we tell our stories, share memories, and reminisce about the days that we have delegated as ideal. Yet, all of this gives context to relate my memories to yours.
When I think of those remote people of history who wrote the texts of what we’ve come to call the Bible, I wonder how their familiar smells and dwelling places may have inspired them to write about the things they did. How would we have been affected by writing in the fresh smelling outdoor sunshine? Would we write a Psalm of praise? How about breathing damp mold smells in a tiny dark cell or a cave? Would we write about social justice?
If they could afford it, did the writers smell burning bee’s wax or favorite foods cooking nearby? Would those fragrances inspire us to write about loving the people we call our families? We’ll never really know, but I’m convinced the smells of their world were as influential to them as ours are to us.
Loving Creator I’m thankful for the people you inspired to give us a tiny glimpse of their world. It fascinates us and influences us so much that we are still reading and interpreting their messages thousands of years later. Help me to be aware of the sights and smells of the world around me and to be conscious of my own words. Will what I say or do today be worth remembering in a hundred years, let alone next week? May your world live in my words.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
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