Tuesday – September 10, 2019
If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. 1 Timothy 4.6
Word of Hope
Today is National Swap Ideas Day, which is observed annually on September 10th. It encourages us to share a creative or helpful idea with someone and trade them for their ideas in return.
Swapping ideas today does not have to be done on a one-on-one basis. It would be fun for a group of people to get together and share ideas. People could share their thoughts and concepts and also learn from each other, while gathered in a social grouping.
Groups of people benefit from the skills of others, and the energy of brainstorming compounds the efforts of the entire team. Often an idea shared by one person generates two or even three new concepts within the group creating opportunities for everyone.” (National Day Calendar).
While I cannot say that Paul’s words to Timothy were the inspiration for Swap Ideas Day, the spirit of the day is there. Paul is encouraging Timothy to share the Good News. And I cannot be sure that Paul intends Timothy “swap” ideas; that is to take in the idea of others.
However, if you are fortunate enough to be in one of the COH small groups, every week has a Swap Ideas day. And this is a good thing. Hearing how the week’s teaching impacts others in a group; offering your ideas; swapping news brings everyone closer and creates a sense of family. I believe this is what Paul was aiming for and I believe it is the kind of thing Jesus wanted.
But, on this National Swap Day, I want to encourage you to find someone and sit and have a chat. Don’t be afraid to share an unusual idea you have. We all have those strange ideas which we feel might not pass muster in general day to day activities. But do be open to sharing and open to receiving the ideas of others. Who knows what you will learn; what new ideas will be born; what seeds will be planted?
Creator God from whose thoughts and words our very being came; open our hearts and minds to new ideas and new ways of seeing things. Bring us understanding and love of others that they can be open to us as well.
Order of Saint Francis and Saint Clare
Monday – September 9, 2019
A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.
Word of Hope
There is a vacant place in my heart. One of my precious friends left this world recently. She left a vacant place in the hearts of many. Her life was such a blessing.
Thelma came into my life years ago by being my pew buddy at Cathedral of Hope. She stayed with her son and son-in-law each winter to get away from the cold in Maine. We attended Book studies together and had other wonderful outings.
When planning our legal wedding in 2015, I had seen a statement that there is no age limit for flower girls. I immediately knew I wanted Thelma to be my flower girl. When we secured the date at the church, our first call was to Thelma. She was shocked to hear she was my choice for flower girl. She was 86 years young. But she agreed.
She had a wonderful time at our wedding! And the next day at church everyone was saying, we know you! You are the flowers girl! Those were precious days and among some of our wonderful memories.
I know she joined the great host of Heaven when God called her home. But I miss her, and my first thought was that I couldn’t imagine the world without Thelma in it.
I thank God for giving me a precious friend like Thema. I pray each of you are blessed by wonderful Thelmas in your lives. Please cherish them! Remember to often tell your friends and family how precious they are. You never know when their time on earth is finished.
Gracious God, Giver of perfect gifts like friends. Thanks for being so generous to us and wanting the best for us by creating friends! Thanks for friends who refresh our souls.
Friday – September 6, 2019
Use your heads as you live and work among outsiders. Don’t miss a trick. Make the most of every opportunity. Be gracious in your speech. The goal is to bring out the best in others in a conversation, not put them down, not cut them out. Colossians 4: 5-6 (The Message)
A Word of Hope
The early followers of Jesus must have been an amazing group of people if today’s assigned reading (Colossians 4:2 – 17) is any indication. Most scholars think the letter to the followers in the small city of Colossae was written by Paul (though there is some disagreement on that) as early as only 20 years after Jesus’s execution. In that short amount of time those followers who knew Jesus first or second hand had established social networks and communities throughout much of the region.
Paul calls some of them “the old crowd who have stuck with me.” Paul knows them intimately. Names he has for them include “trusted minister,” “companion,” “one of you,” “dear brother,” “a big help,” “a trooper,” and “tireless.” I wish these descriptions could always be applied to me by those who know me best but I am afraid they can not.
And then there is Nympha, a woman of apparently independent means (no husband is mentioned) who was such an important strong leader that the church met in her house! How many of us open up our homes to the community?
They sound like an amazing group of people. A community that was formed not by social class, tribe, political affiliation, education, or even geography. They were bound together because of the change they experienced when they decided to adopt Jesus’s teachings. They were a community because the values of Jesus took root in their lives and transformed them.
We live in a deeply rooted culture that divides us by race and ethnicity, wealth, education, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and where we were born. Jesus broke through all those barriers. And his early followers struggled to break through them as well to form a new community. It wasn’t easy – remember that Peter had to receive an unmistakable vision telling him to take the message to everyone (Acts 10) – but they did it.
They started by building a strong, supportive, open community. Next time someone tries to drive a wedge between you and someone else, think about those early followers who achieved amazing things by working together and supporting each other.
God of my being. As a member of the community that includes all humanity, may I remember today, to be supportive, open, and loving to every community member.
Thursday – September 5, 2019
“Be of good courage, and let us be courageous for our people, and for the cities….and may the Lord do what seems good….” 2 Samuel 10:12
A Word of Hope
It must have been a dream come true for 13 year old Natalie Gilbert to be chosen to sing the National Anthem for game three of the 2003 playoffs between the Dallas Mavericks and the Portland Trail Blazers. She began poised and clear and strong, but then a fumble of words undid her. As panic coursed through her, she lifted the mic to her forehead, moved nervously, then lowered her head, as if trying to hide from the crowd. It was painful to watch. Suddenly Maurice “Mo” Cheeks, coach of the Trailblazers, walked his 6’1” frame across the floor to her side, encouraging her, singing with her (not always in tune), and directing with his hands, until she recovered beautifully and the entire stadium joined in song. One journalist wrote that Cheeks had been known for his game saving “assists,” but this was the most important of his career.
In follow up interviews, the coach said that at the time he didn’t consider himself as someone who would step into a situation like that. But seeing Natalie struggling, so helpless and embarrassed, he just couldn’t stand by and not render support.
Every day we have the opportunity to lend an “assist” –in our personal relationships, with strangers, at work or school, in ministries, on local and national issues. And even if we don’t see ourselves as someone who can step up as Cheeks did, more and more we need people who act with this kind of courage. Brenee Brown reminds us that all courageous acts require our vulnerability, and most of us are uncomfortable with that. But the two partner in acts of kindness and moral good.
In our own time, it is often the young who embody uncommon courage and conviction—young women like Greta Thunberg with her climate activism and the young people of Marjorie Stoneman Douglass in their advocacy for gun control. They stride across the floor of public passivity and political resistance and risk being misunderstood– and even threatened– to witness, to advocate, and to transform.
Risk-taking God, call us to stride across the floor and spur us to courage. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon
Wednesday – September 4, 2019
When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
“But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
“Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
“Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
“The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
“‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
“Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’” Luke 14.15-24
A Word Of Hope
I’m going to be honest here. I am not a fan of parables…none of them. I know that they are intended to teach us some moral truth. I’m good with the learning; it’s Jesus’ pedagogy that I don’t like. I despise role playing. I didn’t play dress-up as a child. l loathed mock teaching to my classmates when I was in school. And I always resist Jesus trying to pull me into his little “teachable moments” called parables…well, most of the time.
It was different when I read this parable this time. Without hesitation, I walked right onto the set, ready to explore which role I would play.
Let’s start with the host…He planned a feast for all of his like-minded friends. Since he had prepared the requisite amount of food for those that had responded positively to his RSVP, he knew who to expect. But, when he sent his servant out to tell these folks that the meal was ready to be served, they all suddenly had excuses as to why they couldn’t attend the banquet. What was the host feeling as he heard this news? Betrayal? Disappointment? Frustration? I have felt disappointed and betrayed at one time or another by someone that I called a friend, but at this point in my life, I have learned how to manage my feelings around such occurrences. I can accept that human beings are always going to have the capacity to disappoint. That’s the nature of the beast. I’ve learned a lot about being let down by others already. So, I didn’t feel myself in the role of the host.
Maybe I was to play one of the guests who chose not to show up, one who is the source of disappointment. This may be the part for which I am most qualified. I have a lot of experience disappointing others, but not because I don’t show up to the party; rather, because I do show up and do something gauche like use my dessert fork for my salad. I am loyal to a fault, so not showing up at the last minute would not even cross my mind. Whew! I guess I will not be starring as an ungracious guest!
That leaves as the only characters in the story those who are poor, crippled, blind, or lame. OK. But, I’m not feeling the lesson for me in this. Yes, I am poor and crippled and lame and blind in some real and some metaphorical ways, but I honestly don’t feel unwelcome or unworthy to sit at the table. As much as I had thought and prayed about what Jesus was trying to teach me with this parable, its purpose in this moment still eluded me. I revisited it several days in my prayer time trying to figure out what the intended takeaway was for me.
It finally hit me.
There was a character in the story that I overlooked.
I am to be the servant. I am the one who does what I am instructed to do by Jesus, to be the one who goes out among all the people, those invited and those not, and lets them know that a feast has been prepared for them. I am to make sure that they know that they are all welcome at the table. I am to be a servant of Christ. I am to be a disciple.
And I don’t like role-playing, so there is no room for pretending here!
Who are you in this parable today?
O great teacher, I give you thanks for your patience, for finding the way to teach me what I most need to learn in this moment. Remind me to never close my mind to your wisdom. Amen
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
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