Wednesday – June 26, 2019
An Inspired Text and a Word of Hope
There is an ancient Egyptian text almost 4000 years old that scholars just call, “A Dialogue Between a Man and His Ba.” I found it so moving the first time I read it; that someone from so long ago was saying these very same things I feel. Ba is the Egyptian word for soul, so the whole text is a conversation between a highly pained man with his own soul.
As the man anguishes to his soul, his soul pushes back and calls him to not give up, to live. He responds back, crying out to his soul: “Can you not see? Hearts are selfish, no man’s heart can be relied on. Can you not see? The betrayer is one’s intimate, the brother whom one has loved, is against me. Can you not see? Faces are blank, everyone turns away. Can you not see? Wrong roams the earth, and there is no end of it.”
This man is crying out to his own soul: See my pain! Acknowledge it! Take it in for all its worth! I must be heard! This agony be seen! I can’t handle these wrongs not being acknowledged. I need you, my soul, to truly know what I feel.
As queer people, we still live in a world where the status quo includes even intimate family members fundamentally betraying us, ignorantly assaulting our essential wellbeing even as children. We live in a society that systematically harms and oppresses us while pretending it’s “just a difference of opinions.” And I’m convinced that it takes years, maybe even decades, for many of us to really allow ourselves to feel the pain, the devastation, of the mistreatment we face as queer people.
We may say it to others: You don’t understand how much this hurts! And at the same time, we are saying that to ourselves. We haven’t fully accepted, fully acknowledged, fully seen our own suffering, the heavy weight of oppression we have experienced. And we need to.
We need to know all of our feelings are absolutely valid. Whether we were wounded by the selfish meanness of strangers, the betrayal of family, or the callous indifference of a blank face, we have a right to be so deeply enraged, so profoundly hurt. We have a right to feel crushed and overwhelmed. And many of us need to hear our own voices weeping. We are saying to our own souls, even still, “Can you not see? Will you not acknowledge? Will you not give me permission to feel this, finally?”
It is my deep belief that as we let that happen, as we integrate our suffering, as we allow it to be real and terribly hard, we actually begin to heal, to actualize, to become stronger. A new vitality and hope starts to course through us. A new connection to the Divine inside of us blossoms.
To the God Himself who cried out, “Why have you forsaken me?!” -I pray to you. I pray to the God intimate with betrayal, with being mocked, with being spat on, with the fiercest rejection. Help me feel what I feel. Help me know it’s okay to weep and wail like you did. Help me know you will catch me. Help me to know you will be here as I fall apart a bit more. Help me know it’s safe enough to have this much pain in your arms. I cherish You, Spirit. Draw out my own voice in your embrace. Amen
Tyler James, MA, LPC
Tuesday – June 25, 2019
The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you. 2 Corinthians 13.14 The Message (MSG)
A Word of Hope
Last week I had one of those days when my soul felt a bit sluggish. And as I was driving – or attempting to with all the construction projects blocking my progress – I knew that to hear something uplifting and encouraging would jump start me; sort of an espresso shot for my spirit. And for the first time in about twenty years, I decided to tiptoe into some Christian radio on the off chance I’d hear something I needed.
Twenty minutes and four stations later, I can tell you that seldom was heard an encouraging word. One station seemed like Breitbart with a thin religious veneer. Station two gave me a veritable checklist to determine who was going to hell and why. For a combo of the first two, station three railed against abortion, homosexuality, and the liberal media because…Jesus? I don’t know.
The only saving graces in an otherwise futile venture were listening to Lauren Daigle, whose Adele-ish voice and Jesus-y hippie vibe work for me, and a great song by another artist with a refrain that grabbed me: “Love is the language, love is your native tongue.”*
Love is our native tongue. We are fluent in Love.
But we rarely use it in our everyday conversations. As we move through life, we inevitably master the predominant language in our culture, Fear. We communicate in Fear so regularly that we speak a number of its different dialects: control, greed, opportunism, shame, jealousy, anger, and retribution. We use it so often that Fear becomes the default language in which we speak to ourselves, use in our prayers, and hear in our dreams.
Like all languages, Love and Fear have words and phrases not found in the other and they are difficult to translate. Love (has) words and concepts for contentment, dignity, enough, unconditional, complete. Fear: scarcity, superiority, derision, competition, manipulation, and all of the -isms (classism, ageism, heterosexism, racism, to name a few).
Jesus spoke only Love. God is Love. And as children of God and followers of Christ, returning to our native language puts us in tune with Christ and aligns our Souls with the Spirit of God.
We do not need another language for our faith or to be the people we wish to be in this world. That language already exists within us and is the one that feels most authentic.
We use it, but for most of us, only periodically.
Let us consistently reintroduce truth, mercy, gratitude, kindness, patience, and justice into the cultural conversation.
May we choose to communicate in Love with such fluency and frequency that it becomes the only language we speak.
To others. To God. And to ourselves.
“So sing it out, get loud, get
Louder than the darkness and the doubts,
Louder than the curses and the shouts,
Your lips, your lungs, your native tongue.”*
And so it is. Amen.
[Switchfoot, Native Tongue]
Monday – June 24, 2019
But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40.31
A Word of Hope
You Are My Wings
I have heard that God is love. Would a flower be beautiful if there was no love? Our love makes the flower beautiful. Otherwise one would hardly notice a flower any more than they would a weed. But what if the weeds in our life could be flowers? I believe they can be because I have known God to give me beauty for my ashes time and time again. One of the biggest blessings God ever gave me was pain because from that pain I grew wings. Now I fly by God’s love.
On occasion I prefer the cover over the content. I prefer roses and shun poison ivy. Both, however, are God’s creation. Even more than that, each has God’s love wrapped around it. The poison ivy teaches and the rose comforts. Both are necessary. Sometimes pain is necessary. If you touch fire once, it likely won’t be that serious, but at least you’ll learn to admire from afar. Pain becomes a necessary rite of passage for those who find themselves in a kitchen. That first burn taught them to become aware of a lit stove.
At times like these in our world, we must become aware that there are some people who like to play with fire. Some people would watch the world burn. Don’t rely on a pretty flower brightening up your day every time you take a walk. Even gardens have their snakes. Judge wisely; discern what is really being said. Always be on guard because often your enemy appears in a bed of roses.
Creator God, time and time again I have to surrender to your will. How will I let go? Help us to believe that Jehovah Jireh is our provider. Teach me to see the beauty in the concrete, the compassion in the cracks, and the love in those who are rejected. I myself have been rejected, and yet I find that rejection is a part of life. We have choices; thus, we choose what to accept or deny. Help me to accept these wings of love.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Friday – June 21, 2019
The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33:4
A Word of Hope
I’ve been thinking about power of stories. They have a singular ability to move us, free us, focus our thoughts and probe for meaning. Crafting a story – whether we are telling it or writing it – is work but can be rewarding and fun. Some of the fun is creating an alternate world or an alternate ending to a story. We get to play with what is possible, what can be.
What if we thought about our lives as though they were telling a story? The choices we make become an unfolding plot. Poet and activist Jan Philips wrote:
“We must see our lives with new eyes, as adventures we ourselves create with our words, our thoughts, our daily choices. We must see our lives as canvases that we work on all day long, our ongoing masterpieces, the evidence that we were here, and mattered somehow.”
The key is we’re creators, co-creators with God, entrusted with a time-space continuum that is our world. It dynamically changes us and we in turn change it as well. But we retain a key opportunity to work on God’s Project of love and justice for all. It’s an awesome responsibility and an amazing opportunity. The day in front of us is really a blank page on which we can write a story.
God created us and entrusted us with the resource that is our life. What will we do with it today?
Creator, create in me a desire to tell a story in my life that brings us all closer to your heart of mercy and justice. Amen
Thursday – June 20, 2019
“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.” Acts 2:1-4
A Word of Hope
We have no idea what we are doing when we blithely ask for the Power of the Holy Spirit to fill our church—or our lives. On Pentecost Sunday, we summon our best creative minds to bring a kind of dramatic representation of the experience depicted in Acts, but even in the days of the fiery descent on cables or flames bursting from behind the floral arrangements, it pales in comparison to the Spirit’s force.
This year Pentecost descended with organic power. Swirling. Unpredictable. Roaring winds. Uprooted trees. Torn limbs. Downed fences. Shattered windows. Rushing water.
Out of the chaos came new beginnings. In one hard-hit neighborhood near me, streets were impassable, blocked by a stockade of branches wrenched from trees. Shredded leaves like confetti were strewn everywhere. Roadways were flooded. And into this carnage came neighbors—men, women, youth—shouldering the burden together. Clearing debris, clearing the obstacles which prevented passage—each speaking the language of their own gifts, offered freely. A unity of common spirit and compassion.
Pentecostal energy descended upon the Interfaith Peace Chapel in the Service of Ordination for Rev. Winner Laws. Family, friends, supporters from diverse communities took a challenging trek with the earth still scarred by the thunderstorm to bring their presence, their prayers, their gifts to this good woman following the call to ministry. During the formal procession of clergy wearing stoles with Pentecostal red and flame, those gathered joined in singing: “Here am I Lord…. I have heard you calling in the night….I will go if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart.” Diverse worship styles and the liturgy of word and dance and song coalesced into one dynamic form. Rev. Dr. Irie Session’s sermon flamed with womanist passion and Bishop Alex Byrd moved our collective heart with his musical offering: “Say Yes.” Then, with the laying on of hands and our blessings, new power flowed into Winner. “And [we] spent much time together in the temple, breaking bread and eating food with glad and generous hearts, praising God….”Acts 2: 43 (edited).
Spirit of Pentecost, kindle within us the fire of your love. May we be the church alive—beyond division, unified in rich diversity! Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)