Friday – September 13, 2019
God has made everything beautiful in its time. God has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecclesiastes 3:11
A Word of Hope
There are 11 places in the Torah where a letter is written extra-large according to the Encyclopedia Judaica. For example, the first letter in the Torah is a “majuscule” (scribal terminology for extra large.) That makes sense, the beginning of the beginning needs special emphasis. That may be the origin of the illuminated medieval manuscripts. Other majuscules help to avoid confusion where the correct identify of a vowel can make a big difference. But I think the most interesting majuscule is in what we would call Leviticus 9:42. In that verse, one letter is written extra large because it is the central Hebrew letter in all the Torah. (Imagine the counting!)
Do you have a guess what the middle word is? It is “and.” How fitting. It is the most common word, a likely middle word but also a fully appropriate middle word. It is a hinge on which the first half and the second half of the Torah can swing.
There are plenty of “and’s” in our lives, aren’t there? Between our beginnings on one side, the endings on the other side, there is the and. As Rabbi Arthur Segal points out, there are celebrations for beginnings and some – although maybe not enough – for our endings. But what if we noticed and celebrated the “and’s” in our life. Those moments or feelings on which hinge what was and what is to become. They can be eventful moments or a long process. Regardless, God is with us in the “and” times. God takes up residence in between the Alpha and Omega as well as in them.
I love it when people say, “I’m in between jobs” instead of I lost my job. The former is hopeful, it contemplates the arc of time and all that could be. What if we could say I’m in between happiness right now? I’m in between blessings? The word “and” indicates more is coming and with God in our “and’s” we can dream with God of all the beauty and love that is to come.
God of the beginnings, endings and in-between times, bless us in our “and” times. Give us joy in You and . . . all that is to come. Amen.
Thursday – September 12, 2019
“The only people who get upset when you set boundaries are the ones who benefited from you having none.”
A Word of Hope
As queer people, we need boundaries more than many straight people do because we are vulnerable to mistreatment and harm they have never even thought of, much less had to defend themselves against. Whether it’s with family members, friends, society at large, or perfect strangers, boundaries keep us safe. Boundaries give us what we need to be healthy, thriving people who can live for more than just ourselves.
This past weekend, I had to tell certain family members of mine that they will not be at our wedding if they believe our relationship is a sin—that’s just not the kind of folks we want at our wedding on that day. It would make us so much more anxious. It would rob us of the celebration. So we set a boundary. And guess what they said. Just guess. They said what people always say when you put up a boundary: they accuse you of doing something wrong. You become the problem when you change the status quo that has always benefited them while harming you.
Our culture at large is full of this false, destructive idea. Protestors at football games are tagged as “divisive” and “stirring up trouble” or “being disrespectful” just like MLK was. The go-to line of the ones benefitting from the status quo will always be to say we are doing something wrong when we push against and boundary that status quo out of our lives.
And here is the good news. I pray it would soak deep into your bones the way I ask Goddess to place it deep into mine: you are doing nothing wrong when you establish a boundary. You are not the problem. You are healing not only yourself but the world when you establish a boundary. You are praying the words with your life, “Your kindom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Boundaries are of-God. They give life. The absence of boundaries kills, steals, and destroys.
So hear this good news today: when you set boundaries, you are not the problem. Not. One. Bit. Boundaries are Love.
God of life and love, fill us with truth this day. Set our hearts and minds free of the guilt we feel when we make boundaries. Fill us with the confidence to stand in peace against the anger thrown at us by those who resist our boundaries only because they benefit from the status quo. Mother God, your kindom come, your desire be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Wednesday – September 11, 2019
“Look beneath the surface so you can judge correctly.” John 7:24
A Word of Hope
The beauty is that without knowing it, we already walked the path we were meant to. I was supposed to be judged so that I would learn the consequences of judging. These consequences have been the source of a great sadness. I have judged with shallow judgment and reaped evil. Perhaps when I was young I felt guilty for being gay, then I tried to make others feel the same guilt. There was a cycle of gays hating other gays, humans hating other humans, and children of God hating other children of God.
Nevertheless, by exposing ourselves to the disease we engineered a cure. I use to be ashamed for being gay because I was taught that God hates people that sin. I was judging by appearances. It is not the hands that sin, but the heart which gives birth to the actions. An action is neither good nor evil without the consent of the heart. A person’s intentions are in the eyes of God. God knows who we are. If all things are lawful unto me, if there is a time and place for everything, and if the Law of Moses is finished or fulfilled why should I yet be afraid when my intention is to love?
It remains that people judge by appearances, create differences that divide, and tell us that we are going to hell. God knows who I am and what is in my heart, for God made me. I’m not evil because someone else judges me; only God can judge me. Consult with God and be at rest. Do not wrestle with judgment; choose love in everything that you do and let Jesus contend with your accusers. Trust that God loves you more than the self hating homophobes in the world. Forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Dear Lord, may we listen to our angels. May we not follow the guidance of hypocrites. Prove our integrity God, and reveal your love for us all. Please grant us healing and guidance. Be our light and our hope. Hear our call. Deliver us from the hands of our enemies. When I was young I was ashamed, but I am the work of your hands. These hands hold me still. May we all know that nothing can separate us from Your love. Amen.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Tuesday – September 10, 2019
If you put these instructions before the brothers and sisters, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound teaching that you have followed. 1 Timothy 4.6
Word of Hope
Today is National Swap Ideas Day, which is observed annually on September 10th. It encourages us to share a creative or helpful idea with someone and trade them for their ideas in return.
Swapping ideas today does not have to be done on a one-on-one basis. It would be fun for a group of people to get together and share ideas. People could share their thoughts and concepts and also learn from each other, while gathered in a social grouping.
Groups of people benefit from the skills of others, and the energy of brainstorming compounds the efforts of the entire team. Often an idea shared by one person generates two or even three new concepts within the group creating opportunities for everyone.” (National Day Calendar).
While I cannot say that Paul’s words to Timothy were the inspiration for Swap Ideas Day, the spirit of the day is there. Paul is encouraging Timothy to share the Good News. And I cannot be sure that Paul intends Timothy “swap” ideas; that is to take in the idea of others.
However, if you are fortunate enough to be in one of the COH small groups, every week has a Swap Ideas day. And this is a good thing. Hearing how the week’s teaching impacts others in a group; offering your ideas; swapping news brings everyone closer and creates a sense of family. I believe this is what Paul was aiming for and I believe it is the kind of thing Jesus wanted.
But, on this National Swap Day, I want to encourage you to find someone and sit and have a chat. Don’t be afraid to share an unusual idea you have. We all have those strange ideas which we feel might not pass muster in general day to day activities. But do be open to sharing and open to receiving the ideas of others. Who knows what you will learn; what new ideas will be born; what seeds will be planted?
Creator God from whose thoughts and words our very being came; open our hearts and minds to new ideas and new ways of seeing things. Bring us understanding and love of others that they can be open to us as well.
Order of Saint Francis and Saint Clare
Monday – September 9, 2019
A sweet friendship refreshes the soul.
Word of Hope
There is a vacant place in my heart. One of my precious friends left this world recently. She left a vacant place in the hearts of many. Her life was such a blessing.
Thelma came into my life years ago by being my pew buddy at Cathedral of Hope. She stayed with her son and son-in-law each winter to get away from the cold in Maine. We attended Book studies together and had other wonderful outings.
When planning our legal wedding in 2015, I had seen a statement that there is no age limit for flower girls. I immediately knew I wanted Thelma to be my flower girl. When we secured the date at the church, our first call was to Thelma. She was shocked to hear she was my choice for flower girl. She was 86 years young. But she agreed.
She had a wonderful time at our wedding! And the next day at church everyone was saying, we know you! You are the flowers girl! Those were precious days and among some of our wonderful memories.
I know she joined the great host of Heaven when God called her home. But I miss her, and my first thought was that I couldn’t imagine the world without Thelma in it.
I thank God for giving me a precious friend like Thema. I pray each of you are blessed by wonderful Thelmas in your lives. Please cherish them! Remember to often tell your friends and family how precious they are. You never know when their time on earth is finished.
Gracious God, Giver of perfect gifts like friends. Thanks for being so generous to us and wanting the best for us by creating friends! Thanks for friends who refresh our souls.
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