Tuesday – June 23, 2020
“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek.” Barack Obama
A Word of Hope
Change is frequent topic with contemporary articles, TV commentaries and sermons. Covid-19 has thrown all of us off kilter and most of us realize that our lives in every sector will never be the same again – requiring adjustment of CHANGE that has happened and that will happen in the months and years to come.
We will not be able to go home again in the same way – ever! It is not a comfortable position to be in and yet all of us will make choices to survive and hopefully to thrive. Change is sometimes misunderstood as a negative comment about the past. It feels like we have been doing something wrong all along. Innovation is questioned. “Why are we fixing that which is not broken,” some will chant. It really all depends on the mindset with which you grew up or with which you are now growing up. It depends upon your openness to growth, to see things with the eyes of Faith, to remember that if God is for us who can really be against us?
There was a time when the shape of the earth was questioned and then we had to change to the reality. Anything moving faster than a horse was considered dangerous to body and mind until we learned that steam could drive an engine and then car motors even faster. Children today think nothing of astronauts traveling 25,000 MPH. There is more power within an IPhone than was present in Apollo 13!
Change? It is inevitable and how we cope with it, collaborate with it, create with it will determine how the Body of Christ lives successfully in today and tomorrow’s world.
[Take a deep breath and exhale slowly….do it again and place yourself the Presence of God.]
O Holy One! Before the virus, I felt safer and more secure in many ways. Now I don’t know much for sure. Help me understand your Plan for us and how I might more successfully embrace the change happening all around me.
We pray these words through your many names, O God!
Member / Cathedral of Hope: United Church of Christ
Monday – June 22, 2020
Revelation 2. 1-7
To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary.
Yet I hold this against you: you have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: you hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
A Word of Hope
Much of what Jesus teaches us in the Gospels is about how we as individuals should live if we are to call ourselves followers of Christ. In this passage from the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John is directing the words to The Church, a single entity that is made up of individual believers. These words to the church in Ephesus are the first of seven admonitions given to various churches. At first, The Church is praised for their hard work and perseverance during difficult times, for the hardships they have endured in Christ’s name, and for their intolerance for wicked people. This praise is followed by the admonition that they are “in trouble” for forsaking their “first love,” which we assume to be an unwavering love of Christ. The implication is that their minds are in the right place, but not their hearts. After being told that they are not loving properly, in the next sentence, the Church of Ephesus is praised for “hating” the Nicolations. These two things seem to be diametrically opposed. Why was it good to hate the Nicolatians?
The Nicolatians were a sect of the early Christian church thought to be heretical because their leader, Nicholas, embraced pagan practices alongside his concept of Christianity. In other words, they too had forgotten, or perhaps never truly known, the kind of love to which Christ calls us. They were not “all in” with Christianity.
Nearly 2000 years later, the words in Revelations are equally, if not more, relevant. There is no question that times are tough right now. And the only way we are going to get through it is with hard work, perseverance, and love – lots and lots of the Jesus kind of love. As a church, as The Church, we need to come together. We need to work for justice. We need to work for equality for all persons. We need to work for peace. We need to be ALL in with body, mind, and spirit.
Being the church is no longer just about being in the pews on Sunday morning. In fact, that may be the smallest part of what The Church is being called to do right now. We must use our
Sunday morning hymn-singing voices to belt out the love of Jesus beyond the church building’s walls. We must use our preaching voices to speak up and speak out for justice. We must use our Christ-filled hearts to spread the message of Gospel love to every person. And, we must pray, pray without ceasing.
God of love, I pray that we may come together as The Church to bring justice and equality for all of God’s people. May we never lose sight of the fact that our greatest tool in this fight is having your love in in hearts. Amen
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Friday – June 19, 2020
Philippians 4.6-7 (NRSV)
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Words of Hope
Reflections and Prayers for Juneteenth
Over the last couple of months, I studied these verses and learned Paul was sitting in a Roman prison when he wrote this scripture. He was uncertain of the timing whether he would be put to death or if his stay would be short term or long term. He was writing to fellow believers in Philippi and urging them to be anxious for nothing. God was with them as God was with him no matter the fact that he was in prison.
You may feel like that right now because you are under “Stay in Place” orders by your government officials that you are in prison in your own home. And sometimes, these types of restrictions immobilize us, because we become anxious about our family, our friends, or even our own emotional health because we like or love the social contact. Our anxiety level goes up. We get on each other’s nerves, so our tenseness goes up. Our tone becomes terse and, maybe, in even our souls feel disconnected from the Divine Source. Daily, hourly talking to God through our humble prayers can connect us to God’s grace and mercy.
Slowing down and being thankful for where we are right now has some advantages. We do have many things to be thankful for. One thing that I am grateful for is to have a prayer community that cares about one another. These times will not last always and we can get through this together with prayer and supplication. It is a good time to share our thankfulness, needs, and desires with the Creator because She is listening. The Holy Spirit can work in us and through us when we pray with supplication. Let your requests be made known to God so you can feel God’s peace because She promised it in the scripture that reads, “And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” You see it ties back to Jesus and we give thanks for his life as well as his willingness
to sacrifice it for each one of us. We give thanks through prayer and supplication with joy and peace in our hearts.
Dear Creator of the Universe: We want to lift everyone, and their prayer concerns up to You. We want to celebrate their accomplishments with You, and we want to share in their prayer requests (known and unknown). We acknowledge Your Omnipresence, so you know all things. May we continue to support one another and listen for your wisdom and direction daily for ourselves. May it be so in your darling son Jesus’ name. Amen!
Reverend Winner Laws
Cathedral of Hope Staff
Thursday – June 18, 2020
Genesis 2:7 adapted
Then the Lord God formed humans from the dust of the ground and breathed the breath of life into us, and we became living beings.
Words of Hope
For years I watched my father struggle for breath from emphysema, the disease which would finally claim his life. And I have witnessed my mother’s devastation at finding the breathless body of her precious son, no longer able to live with the torment of believing his gay identity was a sin.
But, like many, I was sickened at the sight of Derek Chauvin pressing his knee onto George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds while Floyd cried out for breath and life. Sickened at the terrible cost of this violence and abuse of power. With an arrogance born of privilege and power, he looked straight into the camera as his weight bore down with intentional cruelty. And still he was not moved. Neither were his fellow officers who stood by and did nothing.
When officials who act with state sanctioned authority take the breath of life from George Floyd or Breonna Taylor or Ahmaud Arbery or anyone unjustly, it is not just a crime; it is a desecration of the sacred. This very air we breathe is God’s “holy presence living” in us.
And we are “desperate for you,” Oh, God. We are desperate because our country will never breathe easy again until we cure ourselves of the Covid 1619, as Rev. Dr. Otis Moss III calls the virus of racism which distorts our vision and cripples our hearts. “We have breathed the grit of it in, all our lives,/our lungs are pocked with it,/…our dreams coated with it,/ the imagination/ filmed over with the gray filth of it.” (Denise Levertov, “Life at War”)
I can’t breathe easy until black mothers don’t have to school their children on how to avoid triggering police, trying desperately to keep them safe. I can’t breathe easy as long as there is little accountability for wrongs done by those in authority. I can’t breathe easy until voting rights and housing and employment and education are equal for all. I can’t breathe easy as long as Christianity is all too often an instrument of oppression and hatred.
Yet in the midst of the turbulence, fury, and loss, this is a Kairos moment. As Bishop Marian Budde of the Episcopal diocese of Washington DC asserts: This chaos is “pregnant with the possibilities of God.” And it provides an opportunity to “wrench grace from unspeakable tragedy,” to make restitution, and to rid our institutions of racism. May we heed the call.
God breathing in us, let us speak the names of those we have lost and then call upon the name of Jesus to heal our brokenness that justice might roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream. Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy. Lord have mercy. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon
Wednesday – June 17, 2020
One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
Words of Hope
What’s your Legacy? Think about the legacy the writers of our Bible unwittingly left behind. I am not a believer that they had any clue what their legacies would be. I would include those familiar names like Paul, but I also include the ones whose books we read whose thoughts are often attributed to Paul or some other individual’s writing. We’ll never know who they were. Even if we tried our best, it’s a calculated risk to give someone credit when we really don’t know for sure. But we are sure that they left a legacy and so did those unnamed editors who perhaps created a different context than they may have originally intended.
It’s less than fair to read their mail which was written to a specific audience, and project a one- size- fits- all context these 2000 years later. Yet, here we have their legacy, a part of a recipe that makes an incomplete cake.
I recently spoke with my Aunt, who has lots of family recipes from her area of the world in East Texas. She has quite a story to tell about her life. Her first husband, my mother’s brother and my uncle died at the very young of 53, from heart failure. Not too many years later, my aunt’s two children, my cousins, had many health challenges and each died early as well, very close to the same age as their father when he died. My Aunt’s legacy of her children had vanished. What was she going to leave behind? Finally, she began to examine all her cooking she had done in the last 65 years. Recording those recipes became a newly discovered preoccupation. Her family’s lives had been cut short, but memories of the joys of those family mealtimes were still alive
My Aunt’s recipes for our family gatherings at Christmas, Thanksgiving and all the other holidays and celebrations, say something about herself that will live on in our memories, too. No doubt, like those ancient writers of letters we now call the Bible, she’s not thought about this as her own legacy, but recently I presented the idea to her and she loved it.
Jesus, on the other hand, who never wrote a word of scripture, left something of himself, out of his all-too-short life. He called it [the Holy Spirit] the Comforter, but to me his memory contains its own positive energy of itself. It lives as long as our remembrance of him is held in our human consciousness. We’re connected by it. We feel its presence. Like a good family recipe which is a memory brought back to life, so is our consciousness around Jesus.
Now, I’ve made myself hungry for my Aunt’s homemade pimento cheese recipe. I’m sure your life has its special recipes, too. Bon appetite to your own unique legacy, whatever it may be.
Create in us an awareness that our daily routines can become lessons which influence untold future generations.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)