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2017 Daily Devotions

Thursday, May 25, 2017

by
Mary Warejcka

Scripture
Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates God has set by divine authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “People of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”

Acts 1: 6-11                                                                                                

A Word of Hope
I was tired after a march for immigration reform on a sunny day that had drained me, and I quickly grabbed an open seat waiting for the train downtown. Soon next to me was a gentleman who proceeded to tell me he was advocating for the homeless and he was homeless.
He told me how hard it was to be homeless – how it costs money to stay in shelters. He said it was so hard, he sometimes wished he was back in prison. I sat there listening, unable to move. It wasn’t because I was so tired or because I normally stick around for strangers to tell me such things. In fact, truth be told, I usually move away when a stranger nears. I am not a person to chat up someone I don’t know. But here I was, unable to move.
Why?
As the train arrived, I couldn’t help but end the chance encounter hugging him and wishing him well. Again, I don’t do that. Hug a stranger.
Why now?
As I got on the train, and he smiled and waved, I couldn’t help but have this stunning feeling I had just encountered Jesus. Not up in the sky. But in the flesh next to me at a train stop. Not some fancy person but a homeless person who had been in prison. Someone so human, it could be me. Someone who had made some mistake that landed him in prison. Someone with hopes of a better life, just like me. But with fears, just like me, that things wouldn’t turn out and that he’d end up in prison again. Prisons that don’t need to have physical bars to still be prison.
Jesus, for sure. Right next me. The former prisoner. Homeless. Jesus. The words of Jesus in Matthew 25: 40 brought to life, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
This. What if this is how Jesus returns to us? Not in a cinematic flair of a dramatic cloud descending upon us. What if Jesus… Holy Spirit moves in and around us like a Holy Ghost hard to see. How often do we miss it because we are looking to the sky as promised in Acts instead of how Jesus suggested he’d be with us in the form of the “least of these”?

 

Prayer
May we open to see Jesus in the chance encounters of other. May we see the other as only a mirror of Jesus, of ourselves, all one creation.May we open to see Jesus in the chance encounters of other. May we see the other as only a mirror of Jesus, of ourselves, all one creation.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

by
Molly Sutton
COH Member

Words to Consider
“A choir is made up of many voices, including yours and mine. If one by one all go silent then all that will be left are the soloists. Don’t let a loud few determine the nature of the sound. It makes for poor harmony and diminishes the song.”

― Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration

A Word of Hope
I have been checking Facebook many times each day, wanting to keep up with the latest developments from Washington. I check the news feeds, too, but amazingly, I often hear about the latest developments first on Facebook. Reading what people have to say about these developments helps me to put things into perspective. Lately, there are fewer dissenting view points; people with more right-wing views have unfriended or unfollowed me. I’m good with that, but have to keep reminding myself that there are many people out there who have very different viewpoints than my own. It’s easy to get a skewed outlook on how the America people are reacting to new developments if you don’t know what “the enemy” is thinking or saying. It’s easy to get lulled into thinking that, surely by now, everyone can see that things aren’t working out well in Washington. Do I really need to speak out about my feelings?

Fortunately for me, I have a Facebook friend who is right-wing, and who has not (yet) unfriended me. It’s strange to think that our viewpoints are so wildly different. We grew up living 2 or 3 blocks apart. We are the same age. We went to the same church, and even to the same Catholic grade school and high school. Yet she supports Trump (still!), believes that Black Lives Matter is a racist movement, and apparently believes that Hillary Clinton is the Antichrist. Every time I read one of her political posts on Facebook, I have to restrain myself from firing off an angry retort. I have learned to respond to her posts only with information which comes from documented and reliable sources. In the long run, her posts help me to realize that it is important to carry on the fight for my beliefs. I must be vocal about my feelings and beliefs, and not let others speak for me. But I must moderate the tone of my response to avoid alienating those who might be open to listening to what I have to say.

Prayer
Merciful and loving God, please help me to remember that each one of us is loved by You. At the same time, please help me to understand the power of my own voice, and the necessity to speak out when rights are threatened.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

by
Rev. Dr. Gary G. Kindley
Pastoral Counselor
CCIADallas.org

Scripture
Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.  Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing.  It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.   I Peter 3:8-9 (New Revised Standard Version)

A Word of Hope              "Be Kind"
In his book, Texas Patriarch: A Legacy Lost, Doug Box shares the story of how he and his 3 brothers ended up in federal court after their father’s death. They could not agree on how to manage or settle their father’s extensive business affairs.

To their dismay, the judge ordered them to sell the business to bring closure to the dispute. For pennies-on-the-dollar, the business sold for $222 million dollars. Years later, the new owner resold the business for $1.3 billion. Ouch!

There are differing interpretations of what it means to be Christian or even spiritual. In the first epistle of Peter it can be summed up simply: Be kind to others.

It is normal human experience to encounter a spectrum of incidents and circumstances, both good and bad, as we navigate life. Fairness and injustice, unity and conflict, compassion and abuse are all integral to the human journey in various proportions. Jesus modeled love, empathy, humility, forgiveness, harmony, kindness, holy listening and self-respect as qualities that Christ-followers would do well to emulate in order to reflect Jesus’ divine love.

How will you show generosity while respecting your limits, offer grace that is not conditional, and extend love that is both extravagant and inclusive?

Prayer
Loving God, especially when we are distracted by evil, injustice or abuse, may we keep in mind our most important values:  to do justice, love kindness and follow the high road of the Christ.  Amen.

Monday, May 22, 2017

by
Brad Syverson

Scripture
God is robed and surging with strength. Stronger than wild sea storms, Mightier than sea storm breakers, Mighty God rules from High Heaven. “Beauty” and “Holy” mark God’s ways to the very end of time.
-Adapted from Psalm 93, The Message

A Word of Hope
In her poem When God First Saw His Mother Jan Phillips imagines God giving a report on humans

“. . . the affairs of Earth belong to them.
The infinite is mine,
the finite theirs.”

God is constant. We humans are not. God creates beautiful order. We make a churning mess. God’s acts endure while our actions are like foam riding atop waves; cresting and then vanishing on the shore. God is so much more than us and our world. We need to get past the catechism statement and really experience that truth. We might feel indicted by this experience, focusing on our collective and personal short comings. But that way we take our eye off of God. Allowing awe to rise up within us, we focus on God’s nature. We turn toward noticing God and away from noticing us and deficiencies. Only an encounter with the Holy can fill us with this kind of awe.

Our flaws and problems are really so insignificant in the face of the majesty and strength of Creator. God’s rhythm is so powerful and yet so subtle: the waxing and waning, the ebb and flow of things. Sand collects into towering stone mountains and muddy rivers steadily carve up those mountains into gaping canyons. It is as if God’s creative movement screams “Get over it!” There’s a beauty and power and permanence that you cannot change by anything you do or don’t do. That’s God, roaring above the seas of chaos. Thank God for that. Literally, we should thank God for that! By meditating on the awe induced by God’s steady beauty, we lose our selves and find our way. Gratitude fills us and humility guides us. We will surely ride waves in our lives but we know this: God shall never be moved. God’s powerful strength and merciful beauty is everlasting. That should fill us with awe and drive us to action. Our yearning for that kind of strength and beauty should inspire us to be a part of God’s way in the world.

.

Prayer
Bless you, Creator. You are the rhythm to which I move and the rock to which I cling. Let me be in You, of You and with You now and always.
Can I get an awe-full amen?

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