Friday – October 11, 2019
In God I take refuge. Psalm 11:1
A Word of Hope
Today is the 30th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, a day we celebrate coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) or as an ally of the LGBTQ community. In honor of that day, I’m writing a love letter to LGBTQ people and allies who have not come out. And I’m writing to the parts of everyone else that have yet to come out. That may be a feeling, a problem, a concern or perhaps a development that you are not making known in part or in whole. This is a love letter to all of you and to those yet-to-come-out parts of you.
In Psalm 11, David responds to voices that are telling him to hide, to run away to the mountains. It is not clear what these voices are. They may be inside him or from other people, they may be real or imagined, they may be individuals or institutions. At any rate, these voices told David that he should be afraid. There was imminent danger and it was about to explode all over the place. It’s going to get real messy, they warned, and people including David were going to get hurt. Run away!
The Message translation of this Psalm has David tell the voices: I’m going to be ok. I’m counting on a God that loves me, that knows what’s really going on and on a God who will put things right. I’ve already run for dear life straight to the arms of that God. So, I’m going to be ok, David says.
Today I invite you to consider voices that tell you to be afraid, to hide some or all of you, to distrust people’s reactions to every part of you. These may be voices – real or imagined – coming from others or welling up inside of you. They may even be the institutional voice of the church. I invite you to know again or perhaps for the first time that God loves you. God loves every part of you, even the troubling, ugly, inconvenient and fearsome parts of you. Run for dear life to the arms of God. God promises to put things right.
We think the phrase “coming out” means coming out of a closet of fear. But the phrase was originally borrowed from the practice of young ladies “coming out” to society. These debutantes would attend balls and parties, announcing their ‘eligibility.” Before the 1960’s, when gay men would start attending drag balls or told other gay men that they were gay, they were said to have “come out.” They were not coming from fear, they were coming to a party, to joy, to a community of support and love. There’s a party waiting for you (or the remaining parts of you) on the other side of coming out. There’s a community to join, a community that can be God’s love to you. You can count on God’s loving arms to put things right.
Spirit, lead us to people who love us for who we really are, all of us. Give us courage to give everyone we love the chance to be those kinds of people. We’re counting on You to make it right. Amen
Thursday – October 10, 2019
Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. Deuteronomy 15:10-11
Word of Hope
Today is World Homeless Day. The first World Homeless day was October 10, 2010. Its purpose is to draw attention to the needs of homeless people and to provide opportunities for communities to get involved in responding to homelessness. I am always a little uncomfortable when approached by homeless people who are asking for money. There are so many people who suggest that you should never give money to a homeless person, because they might use it to buy alcohol or other drugs. In the past, I tried to avoid making eye contact with them. I do give money to programs that provide assistance to homeless people. But that doesn’t necessarily do anything for the people who I might run into on the street. How should I interact with them?
Well, I have learned that, just like with anyone else, when you are approached by a homeless person, you should make eye contact and smile. Homeless people tend to become more and more socially isolated. You need to treat them just like you treat anyone else. Say “Hi.” If you have the time, stop and talk with them. Use your best judgment. Maybe stop and talk when you are with someone else if you don’t feel safe doing it when you are alone. But social connection can mean a lot to a homeless person, especially one who has gradually lost contact with family and friends.
You can give something tangible, such as a blessing bag. This is a gallon zip-lock bag filled with various items such as a pair of socks, lip balm, a comb, soap, hand sanitizer, a wash cloth, sunscreen, insect repellant, and food items, such as granola bars, individual servings of applesauce or canned fruit (include a spoon), pouches of tuna, Vienna sausages, peanut butter or cheese crackers, and bottled water. Some people keep these blessing bags in their cars so that they have them at hand when they meet someone asking for a handout. These items are appreciated by anyone who does not have access to grooming items or food.
You can also visit various shelters and get some cards or brochures to give to people who may be interested in those services. You can offer to pay for a bus or train ticket, so that the person can make their way to the shelter. If you are uncomfortable handing them cash for this purpose, you can accompany them to the nearest mass transit ticket sales kiosk and purchase the ticket for them. Again, use your best judgment. But make a plan.
How are you going to reach out to homeless people? How will you show your generosity? For me, I have decided on this World Homeless Day to make more regular donations to a homeless shelter I like; one with a job training program, to have some $5 bills in my car for when I feel moved to offer money, and to make eye contact and smile at the homeless people that I encounter on a daily basis.
Gracious and loving God, help me to always be aware of my blessings and abundance. I want to become more comfortable responding to homeless people, offering them human connection, as well as basic assistance. I want to be Your hands and feet.
Cathedral of Hope Member
Wednesday – October 9, 2019
You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world. 1 John 4.4
A Word of Hope
Today is Bullying Prevention Day. Have you ever been bullied by your own demons? In the spirit of the month of Halloween, I offer this story to you:
Face to Face with Evil
This is the story of a young boy’s dream. He came face to face with what some would call darkness, others The Beast, and a few who see themselves. Some things, however, you cannot judge by appearances. In this dream the boy was flying over a forest when he suddenly came across a certain figure amongst the trees. At first glance the boy saw what looked like a black werewolf.
Upon closer inspection the boy saw bloodlust in the creature’s eyes. Standing on its hind legs with teeth bared and reaching towards the boy as though it could touch him, the eyes of this black wolf held pure darkness. The boy had no fear when he looked in the creature’s eyes, even though it was looking for his death. Instead the boy reacted in disgust. It was as if he were smelling decaying flesh for the first time, but unbearably worse.
The boy rejected the creature and said aloud, “Jesus devour it.” A couple of moments passed and the beast completely disappeared from vision. A couple more moments passed and The Beast reappeared as a crying infant. This dream was only one part of a much deeper conversation. What the boy saw was the mask of suffering. A crying baby was all Jesus left. He devoured the hatred, and left the baby. Why? Perhaps the answer is different for each of us. There is, however, a clue. The boy said,” devour it.”
Indeed, there was nothing left of the werewolf; Jesus had devoured it. This means that the crying baby was something different. The darkness was only the mask; thus, it was destroyed. The baby was left behind because it was not darkness; rather, its suffering had created the wolf. God is showing us that hurting people… hurt people. If a man wears a mask and becomes someone else he is an actor. We are all acting, but not all people are acting like themselves.
Lord I want to see what you see. Give me vision and the strength to carry the vision. Teach me how to come in and go out or how to walk wisely. Devour my mask and the mask of my neighbor. Heal the suffering and bring peace, joy, love, and laughter. Praise you Lord, the one who reveals secrets. Truth and insight are your gifts. When I seek you, I find you. Amen.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Tuesday – October 8, 2019
And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, ‘It is a ghost!’ And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, ‘Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’
Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt? Matthew 14.25-31
Word of Hope
Today is National Face your Fear Day. In the passage above Peter at first faces his fear; with Jesus’ encouragement and command. But then a change in circumstances causes him to doubt. With Jesus right there in front of him, he doubts and falters.
How often are we faced with Jesus’ command and yet falter during our answer? How often do we have to turn to Jesus in the midst of fulfilling the voice of God to as for help? Jesus tells us through Peter that our faith should be enough.
Several years ago, my dear wife gave me a gift of a song. Jana Stanfield wrote words that express this passage of scripture in verse:
If I refuse to listen, to the voice of fear
Would the voice of courage, whisper in my ear?
Maybe this is what I’d hear
I am brave enough to move ahead
Where true believers dare to tread.
Never lose faith, even when losing my way.
What step will I take, today; I am brave.
If I Were Brave lyrics © Jana Stantunes
Loving God help me to know I am brave and that my bravery comes from faith in You. Be with me when my faith falters. Reach out to my heart to remove doubt so that I may fulfill your purpose for me.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Monday – October 7, 2019
Modern Lesson from: Everybody, Always by Bob Goff
Each of us is surrounded every day by our neighbors. . . They’re everywhere we look. It’s one thing we all have in common: we’re all somebody’s neighbor, and they are ours. This has been God’s simple yet brilliant master plan from the beginning. God made a whole world of neighbors. We call it earth, but God just calls it a really big neighborhood.
A Word of Hope
“Through the Eyes of Love” is the song I used to come down the aisle at our original Holy Union and our legal wedding (in October 24 years apart). It is from an amazing song from one of the most romantic movies ever. It is the 1978 movie “Ice Castles.” I know that is the dark ages to most of you! But it is a wonderful movie. Looking through eyes of Love is a beautiful thing.
The theme song “Through the Eyes of Love ” is a little misleading, because the main character in the movie who is a champion figure skater has an injury that takes her eyesight. She comes back to skating because she learns to see through the eyes of the love of her boyfriend.
Our current sermon series and Small Group study series is based on the book “Everybody Always” by Bob Goff. He insists we learn to love EVERYBODY ALWAYS! He does admit we live in a world full of setbacks and difficult people! But that doesn’t excuse us from being God’s love to those people!
That’s a really HARD thing to do! Some days it’s hard just to love Me!
I am willing to hand out blessing bags with food and new clean socks to those on the street corners. I offer prayers for them to find shelter and whatever is missing in their lives! BUT I don’t think you can call that love, no matter how much you stretch it!
If we could look through God ‘s eyes of love, like the song says, we could see things differently. We could see people differently. But we don’t close our eyes of judgement long enough to really see some of our difficult neighbors looking through God’s eyes!
God of endless loving eyes and heart; thank you for being able to see the goodness in each of us even when we can’t see our own goodness. Thank you for seeing us best and helping us find our better side. Help us work toward loving everybody always.
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