Friday – May 17, 2019
To him was given dominion and glory and kingship….His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not pass away, and his kingship is one that shall never be destroyed. Daniel 7.13-14 (NRSV)
A Word of Hope
Once upon a time in a land far, far away lived a man named Daniel.
Daniel noticed those around him grow increasingly disheartened by the growing inequality, injustice, and oppression in their nation. They frequently asked, “What is going on here? Is anyone minding the store? This is insane!” and questioned whether God was in control or had plans to make things right. After all, the evidence did not suggest it.
Remember, these events took place 2500 years ago when such injustices ran rampant and the belief that God would right all wrongs seemed improbable. Unlike today, you understand.
Daniel had a dream and prophesied that God would send a King to rescue them and establish eternal dominion.
The audience in Daniel’s time would have heard in his words the promise of a physical kingdom, one set up by God with a just and powerful ruler God had established.
Hundreds of years later, Jesus arrived on the scene. And those who followed him believed him to be the predicted ruler whose kingdom would be established and last forever. At last, God sent the one who would set all things right. And Jesus must have surprised his followers by teaching them, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” (Luke 17:21)
He showed that the kingdom of God does not refer only to the physical reign of God, nor a solely spiritual one. Rather, it encompasses both the earthly and heavenly domain of God. It is the realm where God is sovereign and we are living in the peace, beauty, love, and justice God has called us to.
This Kingdom began with Christ and is both current and future, at once present and to come. And that Kingdom is eternal.
When we choose to practice these principles, we essentially seek asylum from the ways of our culture that do not correspond with the ways of Christ. This Kingdom has no walls, no repatriation. We need only agree to usher in the rule of peace, mercy, beauty, kindness, and justice by practicing them.
The teachings of Jesus and the predictions about him tell us that one day the Kingdom will be fully established and all will be made right. But Jesus emphasized that until that day, the principles of the Kingdom and the abilities to usher it in exist in all who follow him.
On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Rather than ask, “When will Christ come back?” but, “When will I – when will we – step up?”
The Kingdom of God operates under a different set of principles. The first shall be last and the last shall be first. The face of Christ can be found in the hungry and homeless. The poor, lonely, marginalized, infirm, and incarcerated. Those who mourn and those who seek peace.
As the Church has done for two thousand years, we can long for a time when Jesus comes back and all is made right. Or we may focus on the areas in our lives where we have the ability to increase justice, mercy, peace, love, and joy in the world around us and the ways in which we can do so. Where am I holding on to resentment, being unkind, passing by those who could use an encouraging word? Where do I see caring for the poor, needy, and ill as someone else’s job? Have I become adept at explaining why others find themselves in difficult situations rather than compelled to mitigate their pain? The reign of a loving God takes place in our minds, hearts, and our interactions with others.
Until such time as all the earth is made as just, peaceful, and beautiful as it is in Heaven, let us remember, in the words of the late author and blogger Rachel Held Evans, that “at the end of the day, we’re all in this Kingdom thing together. We’re all loved by God, all in desperate need of grace, all in need of one another.”
Thursday – May 16, 2019
“Even as I walk through life’s valley shadowed by death,/ I fear no separation, for You are with me…” Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro, Psalm 23
Words of Hope
In the morning dark, when sleep plays hide and seek, and after the prayers for the suffering, scripture comes alive in my head, scripture affirming God’s presence.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want,” the words of the King James Bible, etched in memory from childhood, is often the first responder. Someone else’s comfort may be: “The Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need (GNB).”
With luck—or Grace– after a time the prayers and words of life will lead me beside still waters and rock me back to sleep.
When morning light seeps through the shutters and I awake to writing, sometimes I search out the Hebrew origins for a line in the Psalm, so that the fullest nuances can be gleaned and offered to a reader. Looking at versions using inclusive language can also important. Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying has been a “Godsend” for many women who have been hammered their whole lives with masculine pronouns for the divine. In the 23rd Psalm, Merrill turns to direct, intimate connection with God: “O my Beloved, you are my shepherd, I shall not want.”
For verse 5, she chooses, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of all my fears,” emphasizing fear’s strong role in the enemy-making process.
A recent discovery is the resonant interpretation by Rabbi Rami M. Shapiro. He imagines the previous lines as “You set a table of feasting between me and my enemies,/Inviting us to meet, and eat, and befriend the other within and without.”
And then this beautiful transference of God in us, God in everything:
“When I walk with You and know it is You who walks with me,/ I leave only goodness and mercy in my wake,/ knowing every place is your place and every face is your face.
Exploring various interpretations of the Psalms is not only for the intellectually curious or for us “word people.” Coming into contact with the visions of faithful, gifted artists often pierces the heart, disperses the shadows, brings wonder, delight, and even hope.
And for those times when you just need to be wrapped in the mantle of Mary’s grace, here is Bobby’s McFerrin’s hauntingly beautiful chant of the Psalm.
May goodness and mercy follow [you] all the days of your life, (as you)
dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon
Wednesday – May 15, 2019
There were some Greeks in town who had come up to worship at the [Passover] Feast. They approached Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee: “Sir, we want to see Jesus. Can you help us?” John 12:20-21 (The Message)
A Word of Hope
“We Want to See Jesus”
You hear it every day from all sorts of people—from people in need or those who are hurting. Those who are uncertain about their life or who simply feel stuck or even bored. Rich or poor, young or seasoned, brilliant or dull, if you listen carefully you will hear the longing, the seeking, the desire, and the underlying question.
They very rarely ask the question outright, but it is there when you read between the lines of what they—what we all—are searching for. “We want to see Jesus!”
This question is not about religious ideology, it is about purpose and meaning. It is the human longing for a larger context of life, an ultimate focus, purpose and direction. To put it another way, I think the question that we ask of others and that others ask of us is really: “Will you show me Jesus?”
The Order for the Covenant of Christian Marriage calls for the officiating minister to reflect on the meaning of marriage, life and relationship. I shared with a couple recently that I believe life is ultimately about the miracle of love.
God created both life and love, and a miracle is a sign that points to God. Each person is a holy miracle and a gift, and marriage is a sacred opportunity for two people to be a gift for each other, in words and in action. A marriage is a covenant to cherish, forgive, comfort, play, affirm, encourage, let go of control, hold on in trust, and have faith in God and each other.
Each of us can be a sacred gift by treating those around us as sacred. When we choose to live into and live out the sacred Christ-like gifts that we have, we show others the Christ.
Or as Jesus put it: “Walk by the light you have so darkness doesn’t destroy you. If you walk in darkness, you don’t know where you’re going. As you have the light, believe in the light. Then the light will be within you, and shining through your lives. You’ll be children of light.” (John 12:35b-36)
Remind me, O God, that others are watching and that the loving courage of the Christ is a gift to claim and to live for myself and for others. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Gary Kindley
Tuesday – May 14, 2019
Now as Peter went here and there among all the believers, he came down also to the saints living in Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden for eight years, for he was paralyzed. Peter said to him, ‘Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!’ And immediately he got up. And all the residents of Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord. Acts 9.32-35
Word of Hope
In this short post-Pentecost selection we see Peter facilitating a miracle. I say facilitating rather than performing because Peter is clearly the conduit for Jesus; who he calls on for healing. There is at least one parallel passage where Jesus heals a person who is unable to walk and tells that person to take up his mat and walk. The power of Jesus is still in the world.
I cannot help but wonder if this passage is more parable than history. There are two reasons for my conjecture. First Lydda is a town that, along with others in the area, had refused to pay tribute to Rome at one point. The inhabitants had been sold into slavery. They were oppressed to say the least. They were held down, unable to stand on their own. The message that following Jesus could make you stand up again, make you able to walk again, is a strong political message.
But I think there is also a message for Rome here. The man who is healed is named Aeneas. Aeneas is not a Jewish name; it is an ancient name from Greek myths. The most famous holder of that name was a survivor of the Trojan War who was believed to have been the father of Romulus and Remus. They are the mythical founders of Rome. Aeneas, taken as a metaphor for Rome, makes the message here clear. Oppressors, oppressed, Jews, pagans, the defeated, the enslaved can be healed. None of those attributes matter.
What then is the message for us today? Jesus heals. Jesus “gives us legs” to walk. People around will see the changes in the healing and will turn to the Lord. Our past, our present, our circumstances can be healed. And in being healed we become walking messages of God.
Healing God, heal us. Heal those who oppress us. Let those who see Your healing turn to You and live in Your ways.
Order of Saint Francis and Saint Clare
Monday – May 13, 2019
Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come before God with joyful songs.
For the LORD is good and God’s love endures forever; God’s faithfulness continues through all generations. Psalm 100
A Word of Hope
What is your call in life? Have you thought about it? We ask our pastors about their call to preach, but do you realize you also have a call?
Your call might be your life’s work. Teachers, nurses and doctors, first responders, care givers for elderly and others are occupations that I feel have a special call. But what about in other fields?
What is your passion outside your job? Maybe that’s your call. Are you involved in animal rescue and safety? Are you passionate about working through the political system to make our world more just? Do you find ways to make life better for the homebound and those in nursing homes? Do you have compassion for the homeless? Maybe you can’t volunteer at BACH or iCare, but you can donate to them or you can hand out blessing bags to the homeless on the corners where you travel.
The verses from Psalm 100 are a call for us to praise God. That is a call for all of us. Cathedral of Hope makes it easy to worship God with joyful songs each week in our services. Those who are called and equipped with talent are led to the choir and orchestra and hand bells or to prepare for worship or to welcome everyone. But each of us can fulfill this call as we worship in song during worship services. Several of us feel called to shout amen for joy during services.
Think about your passions and see if you don’t find God calling you to make our world better in the things you do.
If you don’t know what your calling is, look at the list of ways to serve that are listed each week in our worship guide. Maybe you are called to facilitate a small group. Maybe you could welcome our members and guests into the services. Maybe you could write to people in prison. There are so many ways you can help at CoH or in your community. Or just be called to smile or say an encouraging word to waiters, police officers, others who work in thankless jobs or everyone you meet!
God you call us all to be our best selves: To love your creation and creatures, To be thankful and joyful. Help us see how important our place in this earth is. You make each and every one of us to fulfill a purpose. Help us see and live out your purpose for us!
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5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
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