Wednesday – February 17, 2021
1 John 3:2
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
A Word of Hope
Today is Ash Wednesday, when people of many faiths, around the globe, receive ashes placed upon their foreheads in the shape of the cross. This anointing symbolizes both birth and death, revealing we can choose to grow spiritually in our walk with Christ as we move towards our physical end.
There was a time in my life when I unquestionably knew more about Fat Tuesday than Ash Wednesday and was mesmerized with Mardi Gras! Then, after understanding the meaning of the 40 days of Lent, I fell in love with Jesus in a different way. I wanted to explore how his sacrifice would symbolically and literally make a difference for all humankind. When I realized the true meaning of this day, I was awe struck and wanted to know more.
As I continue to explore and appreciate this time as a sojourn, I am also aware of this space between the first breath in the manger and the last breath on the cross, while the empty tomb and resurrection bring the promise of everlasting life.
Ash Wednesday gives us an opportunity to surrender “self” during Lent so we can be filled with God’s will and purpose for our lives.
As an adolescent, I looked forward to Easter festivities with the family, all the while knowing my mother’s plan was to stick me in an uncomfortable dress with a huge bow, matching hat, and stiff shoes. Like the resurrection bringing new hope, I knew if I could get through Sunday morning, my baseball glove was tucked into my easter basket and ready for play.
Like the ashes leading into lent, death and resurrection are not just a one-time event, they become the tapestry of our lives. Each time we allow old fears to die, we open a space to embrace the future. When we allow the spirit of Christ to break down walls that keep us from knowing peace, we come home to ourselves and the promise of eternal life through the sacrifice of Jesus.
Creator God, as we begin this journey into Lent, let our walk with Christ begin anew this day and every day, for the rest of our lives. Amen
Tuesday – February 16, 2021
Jesus said: Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27c)
A Word of Hope
When I think of people whom I have most respected and happily befriended it has been those who were most authentic. Perhaps I long to see in others that which I struggle to achieve for myself. It can be challenging to live our lives with authenticity, openness, and a commitment to reality and truth.
Authenticity is about vulnerability with healthy boundaries. Understanding the distinction between being real and really oversharing. After all, people who want to know your viewpoints don’t necessarily care to know your toiletry habits.
Authenticity and healthy boundaries can be elusive. I’ve experienced people with better authenticity and interpersonal boundaries at a nude beach than in some Sunday School Classes I’ve been invited to teach. I recall sitting in a sauna in New Mexico and hearing the wisdom of a much older Native American gentleman who was also naked on a wooden bench nearby. At my prompting, he was offering his views and his culture’s perspective on aging as we sat sweating and with no way to hide our sagging waistlines or flabby bodies. It was a powerful moment that found its way into “Growing Older Without Fear.”
Fear is what stops us. “What will others think?” “Will others still like me?” “Do I have the courage to love, respect and accept myself, without the need for everyone else’s approval?”
Take the step of faith after the teachings and living example of Jesus. Being real in a healthy way equips you to be a better listener of others, teaches you to use appropriate filters to contain and protect yourself, and also comes with another wonderful gift. It is liberating!
Thank you, Holy One, for giving us the opportunity to live as real, vulnerable, available human beings. May we live more like the Jesus we seek to follow. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Gary Kindley, LPC
Pastoral Psychotherapist (and fellow struggler)
Monday – February 15, 2021
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple.
When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk.” And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong.
Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God, and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Words of Hope
This story resonates with me as I see so many homeless and sick people on street corners looking for handouts. I notice that Peter and John do not give the man a handout, but a hand-up. They heal him and set him on a road to recovery.
That’s why I am so impressed with a group in New York City. Girl Scout Troop 6000. A Girl Scout group composed strictly of girls from homeless shelters in the city. Troop 6000 gives these girls a hand-up with programs to socialize and connect, have fun, deepen relationships with each other and bolster their resiliency. More importantly, it gives them hope. Hope is in short supply these days and I sincerely believe that it is something that can lift people up.
Hope is what our church was founded upon. Hope that the world could become a more loving, a more just and peaceful place. We were founded on hope for healing, both physically and spiritually. It’s something that we actively embody in our Saturday Breakfast at the Cathedral, iCare programs and Taste of Hope.
Hope is not some vague concept. It is a real and tangible thing that can make the difference between living in despair and living into the fullness and promise of an abundance God gives us.
God of many names, may we always find your gift of hope, especially at those times when we are in despair and sorrow. May we receive the hope your grace so freely gives us and in turn pass it on to others in need.
Friday – February 12, 2021
John 15:4, 7
Jesus told his followers: “Abide in me as I abide in you… If you abide in me, ask for whatever you wish (need) and it will be done for you.”
Words of Hope
As a little boy living in a small farming community, I was mystified by this story of a Kansas state prayer meeting. There was a drought and the crops were being ruined by the lack of rain. The local pastor called the townsfolk to a “pray for rain” meeting. People from all over the town came, some were regular church attenders; whereas, others rarely darkened the church’s door by their presence. All needed rain for their crops. Among those attending that night was a older widow lady whose vegetable garden was wilting away from lack of rain.
The pastor had expected to see her that night, because she was one of the most faithful Christians in that town. And wouldn’t you know it, that night with the sky broken open with falling raindrops, she was the only person at that service who had brought her umbrella! If you live your life and allow the presence of the living God to abide in your life, your desires will be the same as the desire of God. In these verses from the gospel, Jesus promises that if we open our life to God’s desires for us, we can ask for whatever we need and a loving God will want to provide the same desire for us. What a fantastic promise to those who surrender their life and seek God’s desired purpose in it!
It’s a reason for rejoicing, which brings to mind another verse: With rejoicing “I shall draw water from the river of God’s blessings. And on that day, I shall say: Give thanks to the Lord.” (Isaiah 12:3) This verse indicates a deep source of God’s liberating and life-giving blessings. It reflects the image of a heavenly scene revealed in John’s divine revelation of the ever-flowing abundance of blessings which flow from God’s throne to the souls in heaven. “The angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God.” (Revelation 22:1) If you surrender your life to God and daily live out the divine desires, you are promised a future heavenly life of blessed goodness in the presence of the Holy One.
However, you don’t have to wait until after death to experience those spiritual blessings. If you surrender your life to God’s desire for you and strive to live with the presence of God in your daily life, you can have a foretaste of that blessed heavenly experience NOW. Some of heaven’s joy can be experienced today in your current life! Oh, how wonderful it is to be able to live through today’s uncertainties with the assured presence of God’s rich blessings which are drawn from the divine and deep flowing river of life!
May I surrender my life to you so that in all the opportunities of this day, I will manifest your loving presence to others and be obedient to your desires. Be it ever so. Amen.
Donald (Luke) Day
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Thursday – February 11, 2021
“And the One who was seated on the throne said, ‘Behold, I am making all things new.’
A Word of Hope
The early months of the new year always seem to begin with a general sense of expecting a something new to happen. I like that we take a journey around the sun and have devised our system of measuring time with the sun as our eternal center, but there was a difference this year. I’ve noticed there were lots of people in January who chose not to make a new year’s resolution of any kind. Even with the pandemic gradually on its way to being behind us, I feel the same way. 2020 was not kind to us, as if it had some kind of conscious vengeance against humanity. We felt distraction, abuse, inconvenience, death, sickness.
But today, we are finally on our way in a fresh journey, having just experienced President Joseph R. Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ Inauguration Day on January 20th. It gave me that “all things new” feeling the Book of Revelation talks about. Those of us who write devotions, attempt to stay timely without referencing too many current events, so I realize the risk of dating this devotion. However, I feel we all deserve the optimistic payback of new leadership for an already weary year. During 2020, we were dealt some harsh blows, so it makes sense that we name it and claim freedom from making new year’s resolutions of drastic life changes or other traditional empty promises. Speaking personally, I’ve just come full circle; I did change. I spent last year changing, which also made me question and then decide why I would ever want to go back to the way things were. The resolution made itself.
On average, we ignore the flu and presume we’ll either get it or not. We might get a flu shot, or not. But I never dreamed I would wear a mask in public, that I would self-quarantine or be paranoid for a few months about even leaving my home. Come to think of it, 2020 not only handed me a bag full of changes, it gave me a few automatic resolutions. What a gift that was, when I think about it. I do not dismiss or take lightly anyone’s loss of life, impairment, loss of their job, nor the unexpected changes or hardships that many have suffered. I’ve been dealt some hard blows too. Change is inevitable, but I’m very grateful. I was able to bend without breaking, even through some very tough days. As Ella Fitzgerald used to sing, I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and started all over again. I also gave thought to being ‘a caged bird who sang’, as Maya Angelou taught me.
I’m blessed to review the things last year taught me. I know the lessons aren’t over, but today I can breathe; exhaling some of the pain so I can breathe in a new hope of today and what I take with me into the rest of 2021. I don’t have a single guarantee, yet I know my cup is half full. What’s in your cup? What bright hope can you see? What darkness will you name and claim and leave behind? We are a resilient people. If you have doubt about anything, know that you are human. I will not pretend I can flip a switch and change my mood or my circumstances. I have learned that it’s ok to feel fully; to be wholly who I am in this moment with all my feelings, doubts, sorrows, and joys; dreams and escapes. I invite you to look for your escape hatch. It’s one neuron; a microsecond away from discovery. It’s your personal resolution on which you can choose to act. Breathe in a few deep breaths. Exhale….and BE.
Thank you for all of the new beginnings of our lives. May we resolve to allow your love to guide and direct us on this particular journey around the sun.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)