Monday – May 27, 2019
“And who is my neighbor?” Luke 10:28
A Word of Hope
The question is an important one since most of us miss the point after hearing this bit of Scripture many times. The questions precede Jesus saying that we shall love God with all our strength and heart, soul and mind and our NEIGHBOR as ourselves.
Who is our neighbor? Is it the family next door in our neighborhood? Is it the person working in the office next to ours? Is it a co-laborer in the factory? Perhaps it refers to those people in a country contiguous to ours or even across the seas. As a human family struggling to live in peace, our neighbor is really anyone other than ourselves. Our neighbor is in relationship to/with us in one form or another, that is, physically, emotionally, psychologically, in person or through media.
Loving our neighbor as ourselves means loving those of a different color, race, creed, sexual orientation or presentation, who may speak a different language and dress in a way that we find odd. This is the challenge: To love that neighbor who is not next door with whom you have shared birthdays and holidays and those in your church family for whom you have great affection or your work family for whom who have great respect. It means loving Others – with a capital “O.” This task that Jesus sets before us sometimes requires forgiveness of ourselves and others, patience, understanding and compassion. Sometimes it means breaking out of old and stale stereotypes and prejudices and toxic theologies. It takes courage of conviction and integrity and speaking your own truth inspired by the Spirit of God.
Holy One! Give us the understanding to know who our Neighbors are. Help us to know how we can love them as we love ourselves. We are sorry for those times we have already fallen short of the command that Jesus gave to us. We promise to be more conscious of our words and actions and even our so-called jokes at the expense of our neighbor. We offer this prayer in your many names. Amen.
Cathedral of Hope / United Church of Christ
Friday – May 24, 2019
You will know the truth and the truth shall set you free. John 8:32
A Word of Hope
I cherish this verse. I have experienced its wisdom as profoundly real.
Some in the church have tried to make this verse about some Universal Truth – as they define it, a narrow gate traversed through belief in some prescribed doctrines. But my experience is that the truth in this verse means the truth of who we are. Sometimes that truth is not easy or convenient or simple or even pretty. So much so that we spend a lot life running away from it. In a recent article, Jennifer Finney Boylan recounted the moment she knew her truth. She had walked around for a week with a tiny sliver of glass in her heel. Finally, the pain was so bad she realized she couldn’t pretend it wasn’t there anymore. As the doctor poked into her heel trying to find the sliver, she screamed in pain. Her sliver surgery caused her to see her whole life had been similar. She came to realize that she “walked around with something piercing me to the core and I just pretended that it was all fine because I thought I had to.” But she had finally reached the “limits of her ability to pretend.” Shortly thereafter, she began her transition as a transgender woman.
Some of us come to our truth late in life. I was 50 when I came into my own truth. People ask me as they’ve asked Ms. Boylan, “why, after all this time?” It’s hard to explain the joy and the worth you feel when you get the courage to see and live your own truth. Living our truth gives us a freedom that nothing else can ever give. God invites us to this sweet and loving freedom by knowing and living into the truth God has put within us. Will you accept the invitation?
Creator, embolden us to live in our truth.
Thursday – May 23, 2019
This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace. Colossians 1.6
A Word of Hope
The first time I heard the song “I’ve Been Changed” I could feel my whole spirit leap with liberation as I exhaled years of criticisms and negative beliefs others had imposed upon me. As tears of happiness streamed down my face, I sang at the top of my lungs the chorus of “I’ve been changed by your Glory, changed by your Mercy and changed by your Marvelous Grace”!
Hearing the gospel about Jesus Christ as the Son of God, brings promised hope to all humankind. Since God tells the truth, we can be assured this gospel is God-given good news and can be depended upon for eternity. This promise of hope the gospel gives to us is real: it is a living, dynamic experience of the heart. The true Christian knows when you commit your life to the service of God, the hope of everlasting love begins to burn brightly within your soul. This hope contrasts sharply with other “hopes” in life which carry a lot of uncertainty. Unlike studying for a test where in the end you hope you pass because of the work you put into it, the hope of Gods eternal love burns more brightly; for the reason it isn’t dependent upon us, as everything has already been done for us in love. The way has been made and the price has been paid – we just need to follow the wisdom and examples of Jesus.
For me personally, one of the most endearing moments in Eucharistic Ministry, is sharing the news God’s unconditional love is everlasting and for all humankind. It doesn’t exclude any person for any reason. It’s not an exclusive club in which to belong, its an inclusive family into which we have all been born.
Creator God give us the courage to admit as followers of Christ, we have all been ordained to share the good news of everlasting love. Amen
Wednesday – May 22, 2019
Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. ‘Teacher,’ he said, ‘what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him, ‘What is written in the law? What do you read there?’ He answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’ Luke 10.25-28
Word of Hope
This short passage is the lead-in to the story of the Good Samaritan. I think this section sometimes gets overshadowed by the more well-known parable that follows. But there are some things here worth consideration. Specifically I find two ideas of note: Who says something and what things are not said.
A lawyer comes to Jesus looking for the key to eternal life. In our day when we think of lawyer we think of civil or criminal law. But this lawyer was most likely a Temple lawyer, steeped in Jewish law; perhaps a colleague of Saul of Tarsus.
Jesus does not answer him; at least not directly. Instead Jesus asks the lawyer what is in the law. And what happens next ties into the two considerations to which I referred. Here is a lawyer. He knows the Jewish law. He knows section and paragraphs or chapter and verse if you will. He knows the Torah, Deuteronomy, and all the laws in those books. Yet he mentions nothing of dietary restrictions, clothing materials, gender, sex, sacrificing bulls, giving Temple alms, or even study. He passes up all of that with ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.’
So it is the lawyer, not Jesus who says what the law is. And he says nothing about all those nit-picky rules, regulations, and laws of the Torah.
What is important here? Jesus has caused the lawyer to think about what he already knows; but does not do. How often in the Gospels does Jesus tell some Temple authorities that they just don’t get it? They are following the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law. This lawyer has been led to see that he already knows the law, but must be told to act upon it. ‘You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live.’
Loving God, open our eyes to see what we already know. Open our hearts to love You with all our being. And through Your love, let us love ourselves so that we can live our neighbors.
Order of Saint Francis and Saint Clare.
Tuesday – May 21, 2019
“ I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to be of the same mind in the Lord. Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.” Philippians 4.2-3
A Word of Hope
How can you be sure when someone is your best friend? It’s that person who always supports you and with whom you never disagree, right? Not likely. Best friends have differences of opinions all the time as they should. How else can we sort out what’s important in our lives? My mother used to say that if two people on a committee think exactly alike, one of them is unnecessary. Two of the Apostle Paul’s co-workers, Eudoria and Syntyche- sort of the Lucy and Ethel of Scripture- were best friends with differences.
Paul reminds them about the actions of the Best Friend humanity ever had. The founder of their faith had emptied himself and taken on the form of a servant, even to death on the cross. The example of Jesus’ humility in his trials had served Eudoria and Syntyche’s community well when Paul had been among them and those memories are continuing to nurture them at the time of this letter.
The letter to the Philippians reminds us that friends who have experienced hardships, prejudices, and have even seen their whole world shaken will most likely develop durable bonds of love that grow triumphantly out of these common seeds of suffering. But, it’s always the dramas we remember best, and from which we learn the most. This letter of friendship also reminds us that God is always perfecting those good works which had been started in us and that the dramas will never all disappear. At the time of its writing, Euodia and Syntyche are experiencing some ideological differences, but Paul knows the hearts of these two women and lifts them up in prayer instead of scolding them. He writes:
“And this I pray: that your love may grow even more and more to its fullest development in knowledge and keen insight so that you may surely learn to sense what is vital, and approve and prize what is excellent and of real value… to the honor and the praise of God.”
What better prayer for any friend? May it be our prayer for one another and especially for those we call our best friends today.
May our behavior toward one another bring you honor and praise.
Minister for Children and Families
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)