Tuesday – September 3, 2019
cried out, “I am slipping!”
but your unfailing love, O Lord, supported me.
When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer. Psalm 94:18-19
A Word of Hope
“When Life Breaks”
I write this from a plane as I’m headed on vacation. I’m at 30,000 feet and the latch just broke on the overhead compartment. I’m the one who last opened the latch in order to get my laptop out so that I could write this article. The flight attendant is not happy.
Life happens. We are doing our thing and the unexpected occurs. Things break and it is merely annoying. Then there are times when even the minor irritations of life start to build up and we may reach a breaking point. Sometimes the brokenness seems more than we can bear. Life can overwhelm us.
Who knew that a broken lock on the front door of our home or a dead battery in the old car could be what triggers a crisis? Maybe it is a “budget shot—no extra money in the emergency fund—credit cards maxed-out” sort of crisis. When finances are involved we can forget that it could be worse. It could be our very life.
Perhaps it is an unexpected diagnosis. One minute we thought all was well and there was just an aggravating pain or lump or symptom, and the next minute our physician is making a referral to an oncologist or surgeon. Full stop. Life on hold. Add a new medical term to your vocabulary that ends in “oma” such as melanoma or carcinoma.
There are things in life that even duct tape (my universal fix-it tool) cannot repair. Wounded feelings, broken relationships or shattered hearts take both time and will in order to truly heal.
I am thankful that there are some constants that bring comfort and keep life together: unfailing Love, transcendent Hope, and unconditional Forgiveness. Such is the nature of the Divine whom Jesus revealed. We each have the capacity to live into such gifts and to become them.
Take a breath, ground yourself, and remember the Source of Life and Love itself.
As for the brokenness I just experienced? I asked the flight attendant if she had any duct tape.
Holy One, thank you for the simple gift of air that surrounds and sustains me. When my day becomes challenging, or even overwhelming, may I take a breath and be connected to the sacredness of the life you invite me to live into. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Gary G. Kindley
Monday – September 2, 2019
I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in God’s word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
A Word of Hope
These are stressful times and many of us wait anxiously for little respites such as Labor Day Weekend. Some of us may be stuck in a challenging job, waiting for conditions to change for the better, or unemployed and waiting to hear back about that application. Others are waiting for a personal illness to heal or for order and civility to return to our nation’s highest leadership roles. There are always single persons waiting for just the right partner and others in relationships waiting for their partners to finally understand them.
But the Psalmist reminds us that none of these conditions defines the way we should wait for the Lord. Waiting is an act of worship in quiet meditation or prayer; a time when our troubled and anxious minds step back in exhaustion and allow our souls to focus on the promises of God. Waiting for God is silencing our minds’ sometimes desperate chatter and being attentive to receive divine comfort or instruction, hope that nourishes the soul. And we are reminded that the soul’s anticipation is never met with disappointment, just as those who keep the final watch just before dawn. A new day always comes.
Waiting for the Lord is a recurring theme in many of the Psalms, not in the sense of inaction, but always as a deliberate act of keeping awake, alert and patiently anticipating God’s leading, especially when life’s circumstances seem to be smothering us.
The Prophet Micah, who lived about 700 years before Christ, led a tumultuous life, full of political chaos and never ending wars. He had been eyewitness to the brutal Assyrian siege of Jerusalem and seen his beloved nation in ruin, yet he never lost sight of that eternal hope: “Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation: my God will hear me.” (Micah 7.7)
We know you always hear us, God. Teach us to listen to you. May our impatience in waiting for external changes be exchanged for the internal peace we receive only from you Spirit.
Minister for Children and Families
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Friday – August 30, 2019
Everything in the world is about to be wrapped up, so take nothing for granted. Stay wide-awake in prayer. Most of all, love each other as if your life depended on it. Love makes up for practically anything. Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless—cheerfully. Be generous with the different things God gave you, passing them around so all get in on it: if words, let it be God’s words; if help, let it be God’s hearty help. That way, God’s bright presence will be evident in everything through Jesus, and God will get all the credit as the One mighty in everything—encores to the end of time. Oh, yes! 1 Peter 4:7-11 The Message (MSG)
A Word of Hope
The writers of our scriptures saw life through the context of their own experience, much like we do. They had experienced the life and teachings of Jesus and they would have heard his preaching.
The writings of 1Peter were written about a year after the beginning of the war with the Romans which ended with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish state. Peter, the Apostle would have heard and remembered the prophetic words of Jesus concerning these events, and wrote with them in mind. He had good reason to reflect and to write, preparing the people for what is often referred to as “end times”.
There was a general assumption that Jesus would return in the lifetime of the early disciples and apostles and that this second coming would be about the end of the world. However, as we know, more than 2000 years later the world is still very much in existence and perhaps our question is: then, what might Jesus have been referring to? What did Jesus mean when he talked about the destruction of the temple, the separation of the goats and the sheep and what some have come to understand as Jesus’ return and an end of civilization when some will be “left behind”?
Perhaps, what Jesus might have been referring to in his speaking was not so much an end of the world, but an end to the ways of the world if we are to chose to follow in the footsteps of Jesus. -An end to “empire” and the rule of those who collude with “empire”. An artificial rule that is not concerned with the many but only of the few.
Peter encourages us to, “stay awake in prayer”, “to take nothing for granted” and “most of all to love each other as if our very life depended on it”. He says, “Be quick to give a meal to the hungry, a bed to the homeless and to be generous with the different things that God gives you.”
These things were certainly not the things of common practice in the world that Jesus encountered. They were not the things of Rome or even of those who considered themselves, “religious”.
Following Jesus means that by doing these things we get to change the world and to reject the ways of power for the “power of God’s rule”.
In a theology of “end times”, people have no concern for others, but only for themselves. They are concerned that they will get into heaven and not be “left behind”. They are centered on self, not on others.
In a theology of grace, a theology of Jesus, the world as we know it comes to an end when we reject the ways of selfishness and surrender to the ways of selflessness – of giving and being of service. We give ourselves away in order that we receive the greatest gift of all. God’s love.
It is time for our world to come to an end and to welcome in God’s new realm where all of equal, all are loved, where all are fed and sheltered and reap the benefits of living together as one human family.
God help us to herald in the ending of a world of greed and selfishness and surrender to the ways of God’s new realm of caring and sharing with one another.
Rev. Dr. Neil G. Cazares- Thomas
Senior Pastor Cathedral of Hope United Church of Christ
Thursday – August 29, 2019
Listen! I stand at the door and knock; if any hear my voice and open the door, I will come into their house and eat with them, and they will eat with me. Revelation 3.20
A Word of Hope
As a young child, when certain religious groups came through our neighborhood knocking on doors, my mother would have me sit very still as they knocked so they would think we were gone. As an adult, everyone from door-to-door salespeople to religious cults have come to my door, and I rarely, if ever, open my doors to them.
I believe Jesus knows the same disappointment of knocking on closed doors. Jesus stands before the heart of us all knocking on our door with every gospel message we hear and sacred sacrament we consume. He knocks on our door when we are filled with depression, worry, fear, anxiety or sickness. He knocks on our door every time we receive an unexpected blessing and answered prayer. It’s reassuring to know Jesus will never cease knocking until we draw our last breath of life. It is always our decision whether we surrender to the calling and receive the promise of everlasting love.
Jesus isn’t knocking because He wants something we have; he asks to come into our hearts because he has something to give! Jesus wants to give all His love, mercy, and grace! He wants to give us peace, joy, happiness, fulfillment in life and hope for the future!
Many may be familiar with the painting of Christ knocking at the door by Warner Sallman. (https://www.warnersallman.com/collection/images/christ-at-hearts-door/) In it we can almost see the patient, loving look on Jesus face as he holds the light in one hand and knocks on the door with the other. Noticeably, there is no handle on the door from the outside which suggests, like our hearts, the door to the soul opens inward. Jesus comes to us, and is asking to be let in.
Gracious Creator, I am grateful for the yearning to open my heart inwardly, allowing the light of life to fill my dark corners with your love, and welcome in every promised blessing! In Jesus name, Amen
Wednesday – August 28. 2019
…the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. James 3.5
A Word of Hope
Would the writers of Scripture be astounded that people would still be reading and interpreting their works? In this stage of human evolution, we have a rare opportunity to understand that what we write will have an impact in the distant future. Why? Because, like the Scripture writers, what we write becomes news and eventually history about who we are.
We have the unique opportunity of purposefully creating not just our day to day chronicles, but examples for future generations multiple times over. The ancient writers may not have known the impact of their letters and grocery lists, but here we are, the stewards of their thoughts, who have a unique glimpse into how these civilizations lived, loved, fought, and died. -A snapshot of time. We try to ‘read’ what we can into the lives of those people who struggled to live in such a mysterious and violent era. The struggle of peoples who fought to survive, but who had a much bigger puzzle to fill in about their own origins, how they grew into their present, and whether or not they had a greater purpose. Yet, here we are, casually reading their mail, which was postmarked 2000 years ago. What an incredible gift they left us.
Theologians have been busy for millennia trying to decipher an ancient code that by chance fell into our hands. Perhaps instead of zooming in on their privacy with our modern microscope, it might be better to interpret the nature of the gift of our own lives with our freedom to speak our minds, and the choices to either do unto other humans what Jesus taught us or, on some days, to take actions that resemble atrocities in biblical proportion.
We so often manage to ignore the bigger picture teachings. To love our neighbor as ourselves has in many ways reverted to the ancient eye-for-an-eye, tit-for-tat mentality. This is especially apparent in what we write for all the internet world to see. The thoughts the Bible writers shared took thousands of years to reach us. Our writings, whether encouraging or devastating, circle the globe in seconds. That’s not a responsibility to take lightly, but so many of us do.
O Lord, hear my prayer. What will my life look like when somebody reads my mail in a few thousand years? What will I do today to create a better world with my life and works as an example? Guide my thoughts before I press that send or enter key!
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)