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2017 Daily Devotions

Daily Devotion Monday, July 24, 2017

by
Brad Syverson
Spiritual Director

Scripture

Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who hold fast to the faith of Jesus.  Hear the voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.” 
Revelation 14: 12-13 (paraphrased)                                  

A Word of Hope:  The Call to Endurance
These days could be the death of our hope, our energy and indeed our faith.  The senseless death of our dear friend and saint, Lee Covington.  The emboldened voices of hate here in Texas and around the world.  The growing greed of the wealthy.  Perhaps you’ve experienced other deaths – literal or figurative - in these days as well. These days could be the death of our hope, our energy and indeed our faith.  The senseless death of our dear friend and saint, Lee Covington.  The emboldened voices of hate here in Texas and around the world.  The growing greed of the wealthy.  Perhaps you’ve experienced other deaths – literal or figurative - in these days as well. 


In these verses, the Holy Spirit calls us saints to endurance.  But the call is strange one.  “Blessed are the dead.”   It would be better if the Spirit told us God will fix all these deaths.  But God seldom fixes things.  Instead, She invites us to grow in love and hope as we experience deaths of all kinds.  Her invitation comes enveloped in mystery instead of the mastery that we think God should use.   Why?

God uses mystery (or call it paradox) to convey God’s truth.  Parker Palmer gives the example of breathing in and breathing out.  He writes “It would be really dangerous for me to say, ‘I think I’m basically a breathing-out kind of guy, so that’s what I’m going to devote my life to.’”  No.  Breathing is a “both and” experience rather than an “either or” one.  In the same way our dazzling and demoralizing lives bring both birth and death.  Both grace and separation from God.  Both bitter disappointments and stupefying miracles.  The Holy Spirit calls us to hold the tension of “both and.”   Keep our hearts and minds open to the mystery of experiencing both loss and gift all mixed together.  Hold the tension in our prayer by staying with the hurt of loss but always watching for the gift.    

In this way, God’s truth grows love and hope in us saints.  These in turn nudge us to action along God’s path.  So the Holy Spirit is calling us today to God-given endurance that is birthed by embracing God’s truth and blossoms in love and hope.

Prayer
Beloved saints, breathe in and breathe out.  May we hold fast to our faith today! 

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Daily Devotion Friday, July 21, 2017

by
Minister Winner Laws
Cathedral of Hope Member
TCU Brite Divinity Graduate

Scripture
“…we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us. We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Hebrews 6.18b-20NRSV “…we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us. We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
Hebrews 6.18b-20NRSV   

A Word of Hope

As I reflect on the “Anchor of the Soul” described in the scripture reading for today, it describes how our hope lies in Jesus Christ.  With Jesus as our anchor we will not drift from the Word of God. We will not drift from the shores of peace. We will not drift from the beaches of God’s unending grace. We will not drift from the ever-flowing waters of God’s unconditional love.  We know that God provides stability, strength, and safety for each of us just like an anchor for a boat that would be tossed about in the rain, windstorms, and even hurricanes. As I reflect on the “Anchor of the Soul” described in the scripture reading for today, it describes how our hope lies in Jesus Christ.  With Jesus as our anchor we will not drift from the Word of God. We will not drift from the shores of peace. We will not drift from the beaches of God’s unending grace. We will not drift from the ever-flowing waters of God’s unconditional love.  We know that God provides stability, strength, and safety for each of us just like an anchor for a boat that would be tossed about in the rain, windstorms, and even hurricanes. 

Even though tough times might come as a result of life’s experiences, God sent Jesus Christ to be our anchor through the whirlwinds of this life. From time to time, we might get pushed around, tempted, and may want to go where the wind blows.  We must remember God sending Jesus as our Savior so each of us can stay on the right path through faith, hope, and love with the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

Prayer
Dear God: My soul is anchored solidly in your love, your grace, your comfort…Please carry us through this phase of our lives as we deal with joys, sadness, and the realities of this world. In Jesus’ name we pray may it be so. Amen!Dear God: My soul is anchored solidly in your love, your grace, your comfort…Please carry us through this phase of our lives as we deal with joys, sadness, and the realities of this world. In Jesus’ name we pray may it be so. Amen!

Daily Devotion Thursday, July 20, 2017

by
Dr. Pat Saxon

Reading
“Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done.”
Bryan Stevenson                                                

A Word of Hope
Encountering Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy can be difficult, as one becomes immersed in the corruptions of the criminal justice system and its damage to countless lives. Yet it is important reading for our times. As people of faith, we cannot turn away from the 1 in 3 young African American males likely to be incarcerated at some time in their lives or the 1 in 6 Latinos. Nor can we ignore that 1 in every 14 children (and 1 in 8 poor children) has an incarcerated parent (USA Today). Human rights advocates argue that parental incarceration presents one of the greatest threats to child well being in our country today (Annie E. Casey Foundation).Encountering Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy can be difficult, as one becomes immersed in the corruptions of the criminal justice system and its damage to countless lives. Yet it is important reading for our times. As people of faith, we cannot turn away from the 1 in 3 young African American males likely to be incarcerated at some time in their lives or the 1 in 6 Latinos. Nor can we ignore that 1 in every 14 children (and 1 in 8 poor children) has an incarcerated parent (USA Today). Human rights advocates argue that parental incarceration presents one of the greatest threats to child well being in our country today (Annie E. Casey Foundation).

The personal narratives of Stevenson’s clients are compelling, albeit disturbing. Walter McMillan, whose story weaves through the book, is convicted of murdering a young white woman in Alabama because of perjured testimony and the suppression of exculpatory evidence. The underbelly of the story, however, is the southern prejudice against an interracial relationship and a rush to conviction, even if it means ignoring eye witness testimony that Walter was nowhere near the crime scene. Another client, Trina Garnett, a 14 year old mentally disabled girl, scarred by severe abuse and trauma, was charged with second-degree murder after setting a fire that tragically killed two people in Pennsylvania. Tried in court as an adult, she was sentenced to die in prison.  Another 14 year old who killed his mother’s drunken boyfriend after the man beat her unconscious was held with adult offenders in jail and traumatized by repeated rapes. 

Stevenson does not minimize the terrible nature of the crimes, but he deeply believes in the human potential for rehabilitation and redemption—especially of young people--and  has worked tirelessly for mercy in juvenile justice. 

His words challenge:  “I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.”  Can we see Christ in these?

Prayer
Merciful God, rend our hearts for the broken of this world. Then send us out to work for justice. Amen.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

by
Matthew Crawley

Scripture:

I cry to you, O Lord;
    I say, “You are my refuge,
    my portion in the land of the living.”
Attend to my cry,
    for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors,
    for they are too strong for me!
Bring me out of prison,
    that I may give thanks to your name!
The righteous will surround me,
    for you will deal bountifully with me.
Psalm 142. 5-7


A Word of Hope
The longer I live, the more I deeply admire David's relationship with God:  so vulnerable, honest and devoid of pretense. He causes me to reflect upon the ways I may keep from authentically showing up, with God and in other relationships.This Psalm is not an exclusively mental or internal exercise. He repeatedly describes his prayer as a verbal cry. And while all of our prayers need to be articulated, often we would be benefit from doing so.The longer I live, the more I deeply admire David's relationship with God:  so vulnerable, honest and devoid of pretense. He causes me to reflect upon the ways I may keep from authentically showing up, with God and in other relationships.This Psalm is not an exclusively mental or internal exercise. He repeatedly describes his prayer as a verbal cry. And while all of our prayers need to be articulated, often we would be benefit from doing so.
Why? 

God doesn’t need us to verbalize our prayers. But, sometimes we do. As human beings, we often learn to harness our emotions. My own tendency, even as someone who often feels things deeply, is to rein in my feelings; to constrict. Over time, I recognize how I've allowed myself to tether my feelings and emotions. I occasionally see some of that same guarded energy in my relationship with God. I'll choose my words a bit too carefully or downplay certain events in my life. As if God is unaware of the truth.

What David knew that we often fail to recognize is that by acknowledging our difficulties and allowing those emotions to flow forth, we actually begin to heal. Our situation may not change, but we will view it differently. Our needs may not change, but our heart will. We become lighter, less tense, and more open to the love and endless possibilities around us. We find it easier to embrace Hope. I would argue that David's primary characteristic - his default setting, so to speak -  is hope.

 No matter his level of despair or fear, this Psalm, like many others, ends in hopeful expectancy.
“The righteous will surround me,
    for you will deal bountifully with me.”
Or, as one version* of this passage reads:
“They will see that I am a friend of God.’”

 Prayer
Most Loving God:
Most Loving God:May we learn to live in authentic relationship with you. Show us that as we pour out our hearts before you we begin to heal. Remind us that You are our shelter and our portion. May we be open to recognize when others are in their own caves. May we care enough to be present with them in their trials. May we be vessels by which God provides comfort to others. Let us become men and women of such genuineness and blessing that we are seen as being friends of God. And so it is. Amen.

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