Friday – September 11, 2020
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
A Word of Hope
I’ve always been in love with color. It’s a handy thing as an artist and designer. When someone asks me today “what is my favorite color?” It’s an easy answer; the one I’m thinking of. I thank God for the gift of colors. Of course, there are people born without this ability. Their worldview is different than mine, in both in perception and context. I had a friend once who was colorblind to a certain spectrum. He chose as his favorite color bright red because it was the color that he could distinguish the best. Red defined his personality.
This morning at breakfast, I was looking at and avocado half. There are so many colors of fruit and vegetables that become paint colors, I’ve taken into account that if we think about a banana, we think of yellow, the predominant color. The same for red apples, orange oranges, purple grapes, and so on. Let’s focus on the avocado. In its many hues, to choose a single color from this example is impossible. There’s the dark outer peel and the vibrant inner part we eat. The inside avocado green can be broken up from the deeper shades to the most pastel.
In its purest brightest green, it’s a color that many people often say is their least favorite these days in decorator choices. The paint color called Avocado was used extensively in the Mid -1960’s for interior rooms, and my favorites; appliances like washers, dryers, refrigerators, and ovens, but I digress. There are so many wonderful things about this vegetable color; so many variations…sort of like people. We are quick to judge a book by its cover and a fruit by its skin. There are so many other dimensions to consider. So, when we talk about instant judgmental emotion about food, I’m certain that we’re thinking about how that avocado makes us feel. We either love it, hate it, or have never given it any consideration at all. The only thing that matters is how it makes us feel when you think about it; which is all too often how we think about people.
We weren’t created as one standard race, but many. There are so many varieties of us that need to be considered much more deeply than the “peel” we were born into. Every single one of us changes over time. We were born into this world raw; just as the seedlings of the giant trees in the Muir Woods or an avocado on the counter whose freshness is determined at a specific time, depending solely on us.
We are born not to be the same, but diverse. We bring diversity and our own story to the world but mostly to the folks we encounter. Our social and business interactions have changed, for some of us, whether by protected exchanges or by a video meeting. When I bring myself to these encounters, I’m reminded that the only thing anyone is going to remember about me is how I made them feel the last time we met. Over time, my people; your people will accumulate a series of memories of which will evolve far past that first time they saw you as a stranger.
What will they remember about you? Are you just the hard peel or the mature fiber? What is happening at your core? Allow yourself to realize you are the ripe fruit of creation. But, fresh fruits and veggies don’t stay fresh forever. Picture yourself as perfectly ripe and ready to share the best of you with the world today.
Who am I today? Who will I be to the stranger, the friend, the family members? And then, who am I to myself? Do I love? Am I attentive, dismissive, present, or absent? Help me to be yours to the core; the best you made me to be.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Thursday – September 10, 2020
…. as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Word of Hope
Joshua spoke these words, to a people who lived long ago in a land far away. I have recently found them meaningful in my own life.
Many of us remember a particular time or occasion when we made the choice to become a follower of Christ. For some it was in a church or Sunday school. For others it may have been in a time of crisis. Whatever the circumstances, the time when we first chose to “serve the Lord” is memorable. I believe that we are called upon daily, over and over to choose whom we will follow.
I catch myself walking down the grocery isle following the one-way arrows meant to protect us as we shop. I see another shopper approaching from the opposite direction, disregarding the arrows. My judgmental, rule-following self becomes incensed. Then I hear the still small voice calling me to Grace. I make the choice to listen and smile beneath my mask, releasing the judgment.
Sometimes it may seem a bit overwhelming. We are faced with many challenges, besieged with problems. Patience wears thin, our nerves unravel. We don’t always succeed in being our best selves. When we fail, God’s grace will heal our shortcomings and give us courage to make it right and try again.
As we make a habit of acting out of a spirit of love, the choices become easier. We accept God’s grace quickly. We become able to extend grace to others too, sometimes even before they need it. The result is an amazing peace.
Beloved God who loves us all, we call upon you to see us as we are and to help us become what you would have us to be. Help us to see our imperfections, not to wallow in guilt, but to notice where we can grow. Fill our hearts with love and grace so that we might truly serve you. May your peace abide with us. Amen.
Carole Anne Sarah
Wednesday – September 9, 2020
“The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.
A Word of Hope
As our vision of the universe gets larger, our knowledge about it, gets smaller and smaller. Einstein observed that the more he learned, the less he knew. It is often that when we answer a question, ten new questions arise each leading us to more undiscovered and unanswered questions. I find that a flower is not just a stem and its petals, but it is also its seed. What is a seed without its journey? The flower is connected to generations of flowers. A person’s name can imply where they come from and who they are connected to. A rock is the culmination of many smaller particles. I have found no simple answers, but always, more to discover.
Humility is considering the possibility that what we do not know is just what we do not know. I do not see all the pieces of life’s puzzle or things that I have yet to experience. If I were to try to define anything, then that would mean pretending I had an understanding of universal truths when I do not fully comprehend anything. We believe that God exists, but what or rather who is God? I could say that God is love, but consider how long it would it take me to describe all of God’s love if I could?
Why do so many religious people believe that God is love, but then, condemn people for not believing that their religion is the right one? They have neither learned what love is nor who God is, yet they can judge. How can we judge God’s creation without knowing all the facts? Humanity has more in common than it realizes, for many faiths teach that God is love. The scriptures teach us that we have the ability to set aside our differences and be kind to one another. One day, differing faiths may have less strangers, and more friends. Perhaps, because if we know less, then there is more to learn about each other.
Lord of mercy,
Only You know everything and only You can judge. Help us to be forgiving and kind to strangers. Grant us a humble spirit. Show us how to disagree lovingly. Bless You because You are patient with us. We love You, yet we do not know You fully. Help us to love those that we do know, yet don’t comprehend. Amen.
Order of St Francis and St. Clare
Tuesday – September 8, 2020
Thought for reflection
Reading is a form of prayer, a guided meditation that briefly makes us believe we’re someone else, disrupting the delusion that we’re permanent and at the center of the universe. Suddenly (we’re saved!) other people are real again, and we’re fond of them. —George Saunders
Word of Hope
Today is International Literacy Day. I remember when my parents taught me to read. I loved it from the start. I read signs, shop windows, cereal boxes, you name it. If it had words on it, I read it. It did not take long for them to teach me to read silently. It always pained me, when I was teaching, and students said they did not like to read.
It always did a little exercise with them. I told them to close their eyes. While their eyes were closed I wrote something on the board. I told them that when they opened their eyes they should not read the words on the board. But they could not help but read the words. Once seen, the words were read. (I often wrote ‘I told you not to read this’).
My point to them was that once taught, reading cannot be unlearned. And once seen, words become part of your total mental input; for good or ill.
I was taught that general literacy was a more “modern” invention; coming after the Dark Ages. When the Gutenberg press made the Bible and other writings available to anyone who could read, it changed the world. That is true. But I am not so sure it is entirely true that general literacy is a more recent invention. At least the Bible gives hints that most Jews could read the Scriptures. When Moses brings the stone tablets with the commandments written on them, he shows them to the Israelites, In the book of Luke, Jesus is asked to read from scripture. It was evidently a common practice to let a common Israelite (as opposed to a priest) read from scripture. In order to do that, one must be literate.
Today we have so many ways to absorb the ‘written’ word. Books, tablets (Moses would be pleased), and even audio books for those who find reading difficult or impossible.
So, on this International Day of Literacy I commend to you the practice of readings as a devotional practice. Take time today to read. Thank you for taking time to read what I have written today and for reading what every one of the devotion writers have to say each day. If you want something you can start and finish in a short time try one of these five shortest books of the Bible based on the Greek and Aramaic originals:
Great Creator who has written Your word on our hearts, thank you for the gift of language, the skill of writing, the joy of taking in Your words and the words of our fellows. In this way we come to understand You and each other. Give us grace and wisdom to hear and see the messages we need to sustain our life and faith.
Order of Saint Francis and Saint Clare
Monday – September 7, 2020
1 Peter 2:11-17
Beloved, I urge you as aliens and exiles to abstain from the desires of the flesh that wage war against the soul. Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that, though they malign you as evildoers, they may see your honorable deeds and glorify God when he comes to judge.
For the Lord’s sake accept the authority of every human institution, whether of the emperor as supreme, or of governors, as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing right you should silence the ignorance of the foolish. As servants of God, live as free people, yet do not use your freedom as a pretext for evil. Honor everyone. Love the family of believers. Fear God. Honor the emperor.
Words of Hope
It seems just about every week I hear news of some high ranking official or a person in position of responsibility gets exposed in a scandal. They are either playing fast and loose with a company’s funds or fast and loose with their own family’s reputation. Their actions and their words just don’t match.
Jesus does a lot of warning about this as well as Peter. He is constantly calling out hypocrites and telling his disciples to “practice what they preach”. Jesus and Peter both realized that the way to attract people to their message is to live it out in the world fully. It was not to just go around speaking the word, but living it as an example for others. They went about attracting followers and silencing critics with good deeds.
The freedoms we are given can be used for our own selfish ends or for the good of our fellow human beings. By choosing that second way, those freedoms honor God.
Most holy God, grant us the strength to fully live out your will and to follow Jesus’ example. Help us to live our lives as examples, that others might be inspired just as the lives of the disciples inspire us.
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