Wednesday – January 15, 2020
May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us, yes, establish the work of our hands.
A Word of Hope
I recently injured my hand in a fall. Nothing serious, but enough pain to remember how dependent I am upon both of my hands for interaction, grasping, or even holding someone’s hand. On some level we all use our hands to communicate. The blind use their hands to see, the deaf use hands to hear and keyboards are flooded with hands transmitting millions of words every day.
When we were magnificently created, God made it possible for us to hold things with our hands such as food, each other, and to touch those in need. God gave us hands so we could serve and receive. While we use our hands to do “things” they were also created that we may carry out God’s “will”.
Of course, hands can be used for negative communication, as well. Rude hand gestures, or to strike someone when angry. When we hesitate to let go of ideas or objects in our lives, those tightly held possessions in our hands can keep us from experiencing the fullness of God’s plan for our lives.
The tiny hands that reached out to Mary as a baby became the same carpenters’ hands that healed the sick, held little children, fed the crowd, and were nailed to a cross. Just as Jesus showed his love to Peter on the Sea of Galilee when he reached out his hand to catch him before he fell, Jesus also showed his love and servant hood as he lovingly washed the disciple’s feet.
Throughout our church, as in the Bible, we see instances where hands bless others, are raised in prayer and praise, offer blessings and tithes as well comfort those in need. God created each of our hands with a unique identity, placing a stamp of approval by ensuring no two sets of fingerprints are ever the same.
Creator God let us remember that like Jesus, our hands are designed to be your hands, doing your work, on this earth. Amen
Tuesday – January 14, 2020
1 John 4.7-8 The Message
My beloved friends, let us continue to love each other since love comes from God. Everyone who loves is born of God and experiences a relationship with God. The person who refuses to love doesn’t know the first thing about God, because God is love—so you can’t know God if you don’t love.
A Word of Hope
Today is Organize Your Home Day. Organization is big business. In a society that tells us we need more, more, more, book after book on “systems” for a well-organized home, stores dedicated solely to things to help us make our homes tidy, and several reality TV shows whose plots focus on society’s inability to organize all of our stuff abound. When I walk through the “home organization” aisles of a store, I often become overwhelmed. There is a box, a basket, a shelf, a hook, a specialized container for everything. In theory, this sounds great…a place for everything and everything in its place. But, on the occasions when I have succumbed to one of these “helpful” items, I get home and realize that it doesn’t fit in the space I thought it would or it doesn’t hold my stuff quite the way I had hoped. It just doesn’t work the way I had envisioned.
Trying to find the perfect container for God has much the same outcome. Many search for that container only in the form of organized religion, in a church. Organized religion is characterized by doctrine, hierarchical structure, and shared prescribed rules and rituals, things that theoretically should help us keep our spiritual lives neat and tidy. These, however, are human constructs and are not always of God or for God. When doctrine and authority and rituals are used to hurt people, the religion is no longer of God. Christ was not sent to create strife in the world, or to draw lines between “us” and “them,” or to build an empire unto himself. Christ came only to conquer the world with love, a love offered everyone. Negative experiences in the church are much like the disappointing organizational tools in which I had such hope. God and the love of God cannot be contained in doctrine and dogma created by humans.
Why is it so hard for us to figure this out? People continually try to find that perfect container for God – the basket that fits on THAT shelf, the hook that will hold just enough weight, the jar with the spill-proof lid but is transparent so we can see inside, the perfect church. None of these will work.
The only container that will hold God perfectly is our heart. It is big enough. It is the right shape. It will always fit where we intend to place it. It is the one container that we can keep filling and never have to clean out because there is always room for more love. A church becomes the place where we house our containers. It needs to be a safe place for our hearts.
May I always make a place for love in my heart, an immeasurable amount of love for my God and a God-like love for all peoples. Amen
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Monday – January 13, 2020
“No human being is broken. We become disconnected from Source very easily.” – George Gray Eagle Bertelstein
A Word of Hope
When I read this quote, I was amazed by its power! We do so often become disconnected from our Source. God is always there, but we often get so busy that we forget, or pull away. And we often cry “where is God when I am suffering?”
Our attention span is short and shiny objects distract us from our journey and purpose! Our work gets in the way. Our growing families keep us busy. We often say, “If I just had more time, I would. . . “
If we learn to carve out time for the important relationship with God at the top of our priorities and at the beginning of our day, we find that we are less likely to become disconnected from our Source. It took a teenage daughter to convince me that God didn’t mind the fact that I wasn’t a morning person! (She was surely not Miss Sunshine first thing in the morning!) I had convinced myself that it was best for me to have my time with God at night.
I changed my routine and started my day with God. It was during the most challenging time of my life. But I began to discover that if I was securely connected to God first thing each day those difficult roadblocks and mountains I had to climb seemed a little more manageable. And it prepared me for the next time life was full of land mines.
I hope you have a plan to keep yourself connected! God doesn’t disconnect from us. But we must make our effort to be sure we stay connected.
Precious God who is our Source of life and love, thank you for always being there for us! Thank you for helping us be our best self if we remember to remain connected to you.
Friday – January 10, 2020
God’s thunder tympanic,
God’s thunder symphonic
Psalms 29:4 (The Message)
A Word of Hope
Sometimes God is too loud. For an introvert like me, God can be deafening.
If David were writing our assigned reading, Psalm 29, in today’s vernacular on the internet it would be entirely in CAPITAL LETTERS. SHOUTING. David means it as a form of praise to God. A description and demonstration of God’s power and majesty. But to me it is a cacophony that hurts my ears.
Life can be so noisy I want to shut it all out. I long for quiet. Being an introvert doesn’t mean I don’t like being around people. My job requires me to direct meetings of as many as 100 people. I love it. But on the weekends I need quiet. Those in relationship with me know to give me the “alone time.” I gained an understanding that this need for quiet can be a strength when I read the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain.
At the beginning of this new year I am afraid the decibel levels are only going to rise as the political campaigns kick in to high gear. We have been shouting at each other for nearly 4 years and no one is listening.
On top of that we all have personal events and challenges that add to the tympany drumming our brains. We are uneasy worrying about what this year may bring to our lives, the demands made of us. We long for quiet assurance.
David knew this. After using 150 words in 10 couplets proclaiming God’s might and power in as loud a shout as he could muster David lowers his voice to a mere whisper requiring me to be very still to hear as he calmly, tenderly ends his praise with: “God gives his people peace.”
God of my being, I long for your quiet peace.
Thursday – January 9, 2020
But Ananais answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man [Saul], how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.”
But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”
So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
A Word of Hope
It’s easy in biblical narratives to get singularly focused on the central character and miss something else that’s important. For example, Jesus’ healing of the Gerasene demoniac surely is a sign of his power and compassion as he frees a tortured soul from “possession.” But asking what it means that the community reacts to the healing in fear also leads to a compelling lesson.
The lectionary reading for today in Acts 9:1-9 focuses on Saul’s dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus—a powerful story. But if we look at the verses following, we have another compelling “conversion” of sorts.
When Christ speaks to the disciple Ananias in a vision, he essentially tells him to heal Saul, the zealous persecutor who was ravaging the early church by entering house after house and dragging of men and women to prison (Acts 8: 1-3). Understandably, Ananias at first balks because of the great “evil Saul has done to [the] saints” (9:14).
Perhaps Ananias worried that Saul’s conversion might be a ruse, a mode of deception to draw out Christians. If so, the healing would put him at risk for capture. Moreover, he might be chastised by others for aiding “the enemy.” And surely he would have to overcome the defenses in his heart against such a ruthless person.
But Ananias trusts to the vision, summons his courage, and is obedient to the direction of the Divine—laying hands on Saul and restoring his sight. As well, he addresses Saul as Brother, signaling the inner transformation he himself is undergoing.
In “Change of Heart,” Holly Near sings of the change that occurs in her when she witnesses someone’s courage, a change that lasts for a life time, fills her when she’s empty and rocks her when she’s low.
This morning might we imagine what change of heart God is calling us to this year? Can we trust the transformational journey to come when our “arms are held wide open,” “fear and hate are set aside, and only love remains.” (Holly Near)?
Fervently we pray: Change our hearts, O God. May we be like you. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)