Monday – November 25, 2019
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, ‘Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.’ –John 8.7
A Word of Hope
I miss the old Sunday Comics. When I was growing up, my favorite daily comic strip was Pogo created by an ex-Disney artist named Walt Kelly which ran through the early ‘70’s. It was set in the Okefenokee Swamp, where the animal residents’ dialogues were often the best social and political satire of the day. The strip was appreciated by a wide age range during those times of political struggle and polarization. Kelly’s politics in his comic strip were often criticized and even censored by the less politically liberal newspapers, but he placed his principles above his need for distribution.
It was a rare month of Sundays in the strip’s heyday that preachers of the era did not quote wisdom from Pogo, even if they didn’t always agree with his liberal leanings. His quotes always challenged us to think: “We are surrounded by insurmountable opportunity,” he would say to Albert Alligator, who would never quite comprehend his friend’s irony.
My favorite Pogo quote was immortalized in a Star Trek: Voyager episode which labeled a time travel principle the “Pogo Paradox” in which one goes back in time with the purpose of preventing a specific event, only to realize that one’s presence there had been the reason that event occurred in the first place. It was referred to as the Pogo Paradox because of Pogo’s observation, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Walt Kelly popularized the quote on a poster for Earth Day in 1970. The poster featured Pogo ‘Possum and his porcupine friend, Porky, lamenting the destruction of their ecology, especially the pollution of their water in a trash filled swamp. It is not too far a reach for me to imagine Jesus saying “Love your enemies. They just may be us.”
Pogo’s message to us is even more important today in a world in which the lack of fresh, purified water is an international crisis of emergency proportions. Billions of people every day must make the choice of either drinking what we in the United States would consider sewer water or dying of thirst. I found out about ways I can help reverse this Pogo Paradox by watching https://www.youtube.com/user/water You might want to check it out and then ask yourself, “What would Pogo do?”
Thank you for the Gospel message we often find in unexpected places.
Minister for Children and Families
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Friday – November 22, 2019
Now, there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. She had endured much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. She had heard about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” He looked all around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.”
Mark 5. 25-34 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
A Word of Hope
I’ve always loved this passage. Since it kept coming to mind over the last month or so, I decided to delve into it for my devotional this month.
Let us consider the backstory of this woman. Imagine developing an illness you feel certain will resolve itself, only to find yourself spending every moment of every day for years, even decades, in varying states of distress. Think of witnessing your body, your mind, your finances, and your dreams eroding before you. Consider the countless times she believed her situation would improve only to find herself more infirm than before.
This scenario is all too familiar for those of us living with chronic physical or mental conditions, existing on the periphery. Too many unfulfilled hopes over too many years weaken our resolve, just as Illness weakens the body. Hope deferred, as it says in Proverbs, makes the heart sick. For this woman, there was no financial, physical, or family hope − and she knew it.
And yet, she managed to keep an ember of hope burning in her soul.
She harbored faith that being in the presence of Christ would change her. She knew that even if she could not touch Jesus, it would be enough for her to touch something that also touched Him.
For those of us living in good health, let us be mindful of how we can be the very hem of His garment in our daily lives, how we may serve as the transformative contact point between Christ and others. We can live as the embodiment of the hope others seek. For those of us who relate to this beautiful woman, let us find within ourselves the courage and strength to reach out to God. May we also touch the healing conduit between God and ourselves. May we hold fast to the glimmer of hope within us.
And may we all participate in the holy process of reaching out to God, reaching out to others, and holding them both in our hearts.
Most Loving God, We thank You for this woman. Her courage and faith after twelve years of painful experiences inspire us to maintain hope in the face of hopelessness.
We thank You for the loving, compassionate heart of Christ toward her and to all of Your children.
For those of us in a similar situation, we ask that You rekindle hope and strength. For others, keep us mindful of our power to serve as a conduit of Your grace .
Show us how to provide hope in times of despair. Let us be the fabric whereby Your power and the hopes of humanity can connect.
And may lives be changed in the process.
And so it is. Amen.
Thursday, November 21, 2019
“By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Luke 1:78-79
A Word of Hope
Billy covered his ears. He didn’t want to hear about it or talk about it. It was too overwhelming, too much to process.
Joey was immediately angry and talked about all the feelings he had.
Learning that their father had died in service to our country, Billy, the younger son, and Joey, an adolescent, react in completely different ways. Age and their unique personal make up shape their grief responses. Over time, however, both sons experience the healing power of sharing their feelings with trusted people and learn how to keep their father close even though he isn’t physically present. They named a puppy, born the day their dad died, Major, after his military rank. Activities they used to share—like fishing—still bring him close. As the family walks the beach, their mother speaks her belief that their father is present in the sea and in the sky—he is everywhere.
With their mother’s love and the support of an organization like T.A.P.S (www.taps.org), which holds gatherings and provides mentors for military children, these young men are healing and thriving. *
Not all children do so well. Karen Carney asserts: “Children often are disenfranchised in their grief. Well-meaning adults try to protect them from the enormity of loss by distracting them, telling them half-truths, even lying to them about the death of someone they loved. Some adults… fool themselves into believing that children are too young to know what is going on. But, as noted children’s psychologist Alan Wolfelt has said, ‘Anyone old enough to love is old enough to grieve.’”
On this Children’s Grief Awareness Day, let us, as the body of Christ, commit to companioning children in their losses. Though there are many resources available for our aid, the Sesame Street group has created a good and engaging video weaving in actual stories of families with the narration. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dfjgWDSFjxM It addresses the difficulty of Elmo’s understanding the full implications of death and the heartbreak and emotional shutdown of his cousin Jessie whose beloved father has died. As the family gently navigates the children’s grief, memories of Uncle Jack’s zany sense of humor and gusto for life emerge, and Jessie is able to “unpack” the precious mementos she has carried around protectively in her backpack since his death.
You who draw all children to yourself, may we hold all hurting children as our own. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon
*Billy and Joey’s story is part of the children’s grief video mentioned
Wednesday – November 20, 2019
“No doubt about it: children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a divine reward.” Psalm 127.3 CEB
A Word of Hope
I had the opportunity to visit the African American Museum last month in Washington, D.C. They had many children’s books on display in the museum’s store. It reminded me that without books and without storytellers, our children will not know our past. It is important to know our past, so they do not repeat history. Spending time with children is an incredible gift that God has given us.
It would be good to open our minds and hearts to share wisdom and knowledge with our children including cousins, sisters, brothers, nieces, and nephews, as well as others. Mary Wright Edelman, Founder of Children’s Defense Fund, once stated, “Parents have become so convinced educators know what is best for children that they forget that they themselves are really the experts.” We all have children in our lives that look to us for love, wisdom, and guidance. Some of those children might be in their 20s or 30s seeking information for careers, relationships, or entrepreneurship opportunities.
Reading a good biography like House of Representative Barbara Jordan, Maya Angelou, Zora Neale Hurston, Audre Lorde, Booker T. Washington, or George Washington Carver with children can share with them what is possible to overcome obstacles and succeed despite situations and circumstances. In fact, reading these biographies for ourselves might remind us of what is possible in our own lives. We, too, are children at heart.
Remember children are gifts from God and biographies are gifts that we can pass on to them. The reward for sharing wisdom and knowledge can serve two purposes. The books can motive us as well as inspire the children in our lives. The joy of sharing time and talking with the children will bring smiles to our faces and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Dear God: Help us all to understand the responsibility we have to the children around the world to let them know who you are, to read, and share our history. Let us be a person they can seek wisdom and knowledge from so they can succeed in this world. God, you are Omnipresent, use each of us to let the children know of unlimited opportunities for hope and your unconditional love. May it be so, in your darling son, Jesus’ name. Amen.
Rev. Winner laws
Cathedral of Hope Minister
TCU Brite Divinity Graduate
Tuesday – November 19, 2019
I will praise God’s name in song and glorify God in Thanksgiving.
A Word of Hope
Next week, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. My thoughts this time of year are always centered on this country’s native people and my own ancestors’ roles in establishing their marginalization today. All of us are very familiar with the mythologized version of the celebration. It’s true that the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620. That winter, they lost 46 out of 102 settlers, but the following fall there was a bountiful harvest.
The remaining colonists decided to celebrate with a feast of thanks to God and included 91 of the native people who had profoundly helped the undocumented European immigrants, not to America, but to the coast of a land many of them called Turtle Island. The tribes brought much of the food to the three- day Thanksgiving feast. It is at this point in the story that myth replaces reality.
This first feast did not establish any kind of a yearly national tradition. It wasn’t until 1863 that President Lincoln, pressured by magazine editor, Sarah Josepha Hale, proclaimed the last Thursday in November as a national day of Thanksgiving, and it took Congress until 1941, about 320 years after the original feast, to declare Thanksgiving a legal holiday. But, the more tragic aspect of the myth is the part about Thanksgiving establishing a mutual peace between the settlers and the native tribes. It was just the beginning of years of near-extermination for many of the land’s original residents. One of their members offered this reflection at a 1971 Plymouth Thanksgiving:
“Today is a time of celebrating for you — a time of looking back to the first days of white people in America. But it is not a time of celebrating for me. When the Pilgrims arrived, we, the Wampanoags, welcomed them with open arms, little knowing we would soon die by their guns or from their diseases. What has happened cannot be changed. But today we work toward a better America, a more Indian America where people and nature once again are important.”
A week from Thursday, when we return thanks for the abundance of extraordinary blessings in our lives, let’s remember together the first blessing that our ancestors, starving immigrants to Turtle Island, received from its compassionate citizens.
We return thanks to the Great Spirit, in whom is embodied all goodness, and who directs all things for the good of Her children. (Iroquois Prayer)
Minister for Children and Families
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)