Friday – May 7, 2021
Isaiah 42: 5 (The Message)
the God who created the cosmos, stretched out the skies,
laid out the earth and all that grows from it,
Who breathes life into earth’s people,
makes them alive with his own life . . .”
A Word of Hope
I am very embarrassed by something I said the other day. I feel so foolish that I will share only a general description and spare you (and me) the awkward details.
It was a conversation with work colleagues. Via Microsoft Teams video as everything is these days. I was complaining about my online Chai tea retailer being out of my favorite tea. I ranted for several minutes while my teammates laughed at (not with) me.
After I logged off, I started to realize how stupid I must have sounded. Why was I raving on and on about tea? Oh, and it isn’t that the tea isn’t available, it just isn’t available in the bulk packaging I prefer. Talk about a problem of the privileged.
Has my world become so small, so self-centered, that the most important thing to me at that moment was some outrageously expensive tea?
Over the past 15 months of the COVID pandemic my world has shrunk. Most days, I am the only one living in it.
How do I open myself up? How do I reenter the world? How to I become reengaged?
These are not idle questions. The world and our community are increasingly complex – the issues we confront are greater and more dire than ever. I don’t need to recite them. You know them.
So, how do I get back involved? How do I channel my energies toward others and away from me?
The words of today’s assigned reading in Isaiah 42 ring familiar and give me a place to start. I begin by tapping into an intimate God who is as expansive as the universe. A God I can experience. A God as big as the cosmos but also one who is as familiar and close as my breath.
God’s life can be my life. Big. Bold. Out in the world.
God of my being. Open me up to the world. I have forgotten how.
Thursday – May 6, 2021
“Yearning for a new way will not produce it. Only ending the old way can do that. You cannot hold onto the old all the while declaring that you want something new. The old will defy the new; the old will deny the new; the old will decry the new. There is only one way to bring in the new. You must make room for it.” Neale Donald Walsch
A Word of Hope
The spiritual journey doesn’t allow for a lot of coasting. While certainly we have periods of release from our striving and blessedly rest in God’s grace and love, again and again we are called into a deeper learning, a wider vision, a more radical compassion, a stronger commitment to justice. One of these large lessons is about decentering.
While it takes many of us a long time to truly believe that God loves us beyond our wildest imaginings and intimately abides with us in the core of our being, mature spirituality also teaches: “It’s not about you.” At least it’s not about our ego-self, our false self. Yet this is an essential lesson taught by our wisdom teachers, contemplative prayer, and sometimes by the crash-landings of experience. Decentering in this larger sense asks us to release all that blocks us from the fullness of God in our lives.
For those of us who are white, decentering in our anti-racism work is extraordinarily important. A beginning is heightening our awareness of all that our privilege has afforded us historically and in our current lives. Peggy McIntosh of the Wellesley Center for Women has generated the following questions to raise consciousness about this issue. https://projecthumanities.asu.edu/content/white-privilege-checklist
Moreover, we can listen for whose voice is dominant in relationships, whose voice inserts itself most prominently in our meetings—and is most affirmed by authority figures. People of color commonly experience being marginalized or having an idea “hijacked” by a white colleague and only supported after they speak it.
Even when we truly yearn to become better co-conspirators in the pursuit of justice, we regularly stumble. Too often we want to tearfully “confess” our past racist sins to our siblings of color, relieving our own guilt. Some African American authors are very direct about this tendency: Don’t do it. Do your own work. Sadly, it is easy to “take umbrage” when we hear this message. But relinquishing that is part of the work of decentering. And as we draw closer with our beloveds of color, we become more sensitive to how exhausting and painful are the daily burdens of systemic racism (even in our churches), workplace prejudice, inequity, and microaggressions.
Though there is much more to say and learn about this topic, it is essential to “loving our neighbors” to undertake decentering in the hard and holy work of justice. To do that, we must get used to being uncomfortable. *
Hold us in your strong right hand, O God, as we set out for the higher ground of Justice and Love. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon
*A banner at George Floyd Square in Minneapolis gives instructions for honoring that sacred space—one to the general population, but another to whites, including decentering. https://sputniknews.com/us/202104221082697169-in-particular-white-people-given-special-instructions-at-the-entrance-to-george-floyd-square/
Wednesday – May 5, 2021
To love God with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
A Word of Hope
Today is Cinco de Mayo (in Mexican Spanish, the “Fifth of May”) It is an annual event celebrated on May 5, but usually starting with parties on the weekend before. The date actually commemorates a victory by the Mexican army over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. The forces were led by General Ignacio Zaragoza. The victory of the smaller Mexican force, sometimes using pitch forks and shovels as weapons, against a superior and well-armed French force was a major morale builder for the Mexicans. This information can be expanded by a Google search, but I have never been told any of these details by any of my neighbors who joyfully celebrate the holiday every year. Never.
Theirs is a celebration of the heart, not the history. In my neighborhood, I am surrounded by the colorful sights, delicious smells, and jubilant music that make the whole community robust and engaging. I am always welcomed to participate in their joy and can be assured that there will be treats delivered to my door whether or not I attend the festivities. It is a send-up of family more than anything else and I am always assured that I am part of theirs. Everyone plays a part in the activities, young, old, and in between. It is a picture of mutual respect and unity like no other.
This year I have been invited to sponsor a waterslide in my front yard; one of those huge blow-up monsters, and I can’t wait. It’s also for a child’s birthday party, another hugely important yearly event and the neighbors in the house behind me needed more room. I was glad to volunteer my space. My lawn will get a little extra watering and I’m sure there are a few additional tacos in it for me. I really love my neighborhood.
I have lived predominantly in the same house, my parents’ old family home, since the mid ‘50’s and I have seen a lot of changes throughout the years. At the beginning, all of the neighbors looked like me. They were nice folks, but even as a child, I wished for more diversity. I certainly wasn’t experiencing any ethnic or cultural inclusivity at school. I never even heard about a holiday every 5th of May. I moved away for a few years post college and after my parents’ departure, I decided to take up residence in the old house. The neighborhood had changed, and certainly for the better. My street looks like the U. N. especially on holidays, and on Cinco de Mayo everyone from every ethnic group is welcomed.
My neighborhood is the picture of what I wish every church should be and I thank God for the efforts our own church continually demonstrates in truly practicing what we preach; declaring all are welcome and meaning it. It is the work of Jesus.
Feliz Cinco de Mayo!
Dios te bendiga a ti y a tu familia
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Tuesday – May 4, 2021
“There will come a time when you believe everything is finished; that will be the beginning.”
A Word of Hope
This became true in my life recently. It’s no surprise that the pandemic has caused an upheaval of change for quite a few months. The church has had to change considerably, creating new ways to serve the congregation and re-structuring some established traditions and ministries. We’ve had months to think outside the bricks and mortar confines of the local church and to push the restart key with the ending of some ministries and the beginning of others.
My membership in the Order of St. Francis and St. Clare, however, has not changed, but refocused. It is a life-vow, with my primary commitment to the church these days being the writing of devotions since there is presently no Reflect service or other in-person activities that paused last year.
Certainly, I’ve always had a warm spot for teaching, especially teaching children. That started in a Dallas area Bible church and continued at the Cathedral of Hope where we reshaped our thinking with an inclusive, gender balanced approach that we never considered in other church experiences. As I have now moved on from those ministry duties, I know what the children taught me all those years will never leave me.
I began considering this was not actually an ending but a brand-new beginning with possibilities of a broader audience and the focus on getting our stories out to the generations of the future. I had been given the opportunity to rethink future goals and consider what I would love to add to my dormant bucket list. Energy flows where energy goes and God’s energy flows forever. When I found myself with more time in my current situation, the phone started to ring. God was at work. In a matter of a couple days I was receiving phone calls and emails from current and former clients wishing to begin new projects while restarting projects that were left behind a year ago.
Along with that, one of our original Sunday school students from years ago (now an ad agency executive) contacted me about beginning a brand-new project using our curriculum. God’s floodgates had opened. They have yet to close. That’s when I remembered that Louis Lamour quote.
What new beginning is God working out in your life? Just be still and listen….
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love God, who have been called according to the Divine purpose. Romans 8.28
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Monday – May 3, 2021
Was it not You who dried up the sea,
The waters of the great deep;
Who made the depths of the sea a pathway
For the redeemed to cross over?
A Word of Hope
Against the Odds
Where does our victory come from? Perhaps, it is decided for us before the battle ever begins. Maybe, our circumstances decide. For those who put their faith in God, we know that we never fight alone. It gives us hope, courage, and strength to do the impossible because we believe that with God, we can do anything.
The future is not made by God alone, but by we who must decide what the future will look like. Standing before us is an open door. The door is a gift from God and proof that the Divine is on our side. Through that door is the future. God has already done the job of making a way for us, but each of us must decide whether or not we are going to walk through that door or turn away from what was meant to be ours. As much as we depend on God, our Heavenly Parent will not make the journey for us. We must be the ones to move and to press onto what is on the other side of that door.
God will not do what we must do ourselves. We were gifted with free will so that we could make choices. We choose the consequences of our lives. The problems we face are often walls that we must climb over, and we all start at the base of the wall. It looks impossible because the wall is so much taller than we are. Alone it is impossible, but if one person stands at the base, then another can climb onto that person’s shoulders. When we all work together, each supporting the other, the wall that was once blocking us becomes the very thing that teaches us how to rise and climb our way in spite of overwhelming odds. God is the ground beneath our feet, and together, we are the ladders that will rise over the greatest of walls.
Bless You, Abba God,
For You are the ground that I stand on. My foundation is the Almighty. You are the reason I can achieve great things. Help us to come together when the odds look stacked against us. May we stack even higher united shoulder atop of shoulder. Thank You for making a way, Almighty Spirit. Amen.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)