Thursday – November 5, 2020
Grant us wisdom, grant us courage
for the living of these days,
for the living of these days.
–“God of Grace and God of Glory,” Harry Emerson Fosdick
A Word of Hope
Some days it’s more difficult than others to know what to write, to discern how to speak to you. This is one of those times. Though most of you will read this devotion on Thursday, November 5, our submission deadline is October 28. At this point, then, I have no idea who won the presidency—or any other elective position. Maybe we won’t even know the outcome on the 5th because the vote might be contested and in litigation.
Today electiontide uncertainty merges with covidtide uncertainty to form a crackling mass of indefiniteness. In this in-between-time where apocalyptic messages and “threats of dire predictions” roar, we need the wisdom of deep down things and to call our elders into the circle.
Eighty one year old spiritual guide Parker Palmer teaches that apocalypse really means a revealing. So he urges us to live in reality—abjuring illusion—and to ponder thoughtfully what our earth, our society, our relationships are revealing to us right now. Hope, for him, “is holding the creative tension between what is and what could and should be, each day doing something that can narrow the distance between the two.”
Franciscan Father Richard Rohr reminds us that the scriptures do not offer rational certitude: “They offer us something much better and an entirely different way of knowing: an intimate relationship, a dark journey, a path where we must discover for ourselves that grace, love, mercy, and forgiveness are absolutely necessary for survival in an uncertain world. You only need enough clarity and ground to know how to live without certitude! Yes, we really are saved by faith. People who live in this way never stop growing [and]are not easily defeated…”
In “God’s Grandeur,” Gerard Manly Hopkins offers the view that [N]ature is never spent; “There lives the dearest freshness deep down things; / And though the last lights off the black West went / Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—/Because the Holy Ghost over the bent World
broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.”
And finally, May Sarton speaks this wisdom from her “Unison Benediction”:
Return, return to the deep sources,
nothing less will teach the stiff hands a new way to serve,
to carve into our lives the forms of tenderness
and still that ancient necessary pain preserve.
Return to the most human,
nothing less will teach the angry spirit,
the bewildered heart; the torn mind,
to accept the whole of its duress,
and pierced with anguish…
at last, act for love.
Oh God, “From the fears that long have bound us, free our hearts to faith and praise. Grant us wisdom, grant us courage, for the facing of these days, for the facing of these days.” Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon
Wednesday – November 4, 2020
Some seeds fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. They sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
A Word of Hope
For those who put their faith in God, all things are possible. Faith is trusting in, hoping in, and believing in an outcome. It is like planting a seed. If you plant a seed in good soil, then it will grow. Conversely, if you plant a seed on a pile of rocks, then it will shrivel up and die. The love of God is good soil, but the riches of this world are merely stones by comparison. A woman will devote herself to what she has faith in, and just as her journey will follow the direction of her thoughts, she will rise or fall according the quality of her meditations. When a woman cares for God, God cares for her. Conversely, when a woman cares for the world, it is the world which cares for her.
It is not wise to invest in a temporary thing, for once it has passed away, so too does the source of one’s income go away. God is eternal and the flame of God’s love never diminishes over time. This world is a temporary thing; we cannot stay here forever.
To follow God is to invest towards a guaranteed future; the world can only offer temporary pleasures. God made the world and all its pleasures; so then, do not measure the grain above the farmer. We trust that God can do anything, even raise the dead; therefore, our faith should be in the One who can assure us a good life.
Every tree was once a seed. Every achievement was once a dream. If a farmer neglects to water his seed, then he does not expect a harvest. Likewise, if a person does not feed their faith by continually seeking the path, then they will never find it. Choose the land in which you plant your seed carefully, for it will mean either life or death for the seed. God never fails, and those who put their faith in God are never disappointed.
By our faith in You, we rise. When we are attacked, our faith defends us. When we are hurt, our faith heals us. When we are brought low, our faith lifts us up. Protect our faith. Never let the flame diminish but fan our flames until they are an all-consuming fire. We put our faith in You, and we know that You are true. Bless You now and forevermore. Amen.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Tuesday – November 3, 2020
O God, “Your word is a lantern to my feet and a light upon my path.”
A Word of Hope
Today’s reading leads us to evaluate how we walk with God in our daily lifestyle. We must seek God’s “word” to find our life’s path in harmony with the divine desire for our life. Fortunately, God has not hidden these desired principles in some dark and obscure corner of reality. This verse tells us that we have been provided a searchlight to successfully find them… “a lantern for my feet and light upon my path”. Just as the sun provides all of the light we need, illumination from God will guide our steps along life’s path.
If you’ve ever been surrounded by the profound darkness of a moonless night while camping in the woods, you know the value that a lantern can be for your walk to the outdoor privy. It doesn’t illuminate the whole scene in front of you, but it shines enough light on your feet that you don’t trip on something and fall down. It will guide you through the little, moment-by-moment steps of life. This verse continues and tells us that the word (desires) of God, which have been disclosed by Scripture and the life example of Jesus, will light up our whole path throughout life, not just step-by-step, but the whole trajectory of our life. Divine wisdom and teaching will be like airport landing lights which are seen at a distance and lead us straight ahead to land safely at our life’s desired terminus, eternity with Christ. O God, your desires for my life, expressed by your word, are all of the light I need.
Psalm 119: 111 tells us: O God, “your decrees are my inheritance forever; truly, they are the joy of my heart.” The God-given principles for a life in harmony with divine desire are a gift to the Christian, just like an inheritance in the life of a family’s heir. These divine instructions become a treasure to guide a healthy and contented life of inner peace and joy. By following this guidance, an individual can live in harmony with God today, through all future tomorrow’s and into an eternal presence with the Divine One. However, like a family inheritance, a person can’t accept it one day, reject it the next, and expect be a happy heir to the family’s goodness.
Likewise, the Christian can’t pick and choose among the gifts (divine principles) of the inheritance and still expect to live in peaceful harmony with God. We need to live a consistent lifestyle which is willing to be molded by the divine desire to change our words and actions. In life, walking with God means walking in step with God!
Lord God, quiet my mind and open my heart to receive your words of guidance. May your Spirit teach me to develop a more vibrant spiritual life which is surrendered to you. And may I walk hand-in-hand with you this day. Amen.
Donald (Luke) Day
Monday – November 2, 2020
When the entire nation had finished crossing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua: “Select twelve men from the people, one from each tribe, and command them, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the middle of the Jordan, from the place where the priests’ feet stood, carry them over with you, and lay them down in the place where you camp tonight.’” Then Joshua summoned the twelve men from the Israelites, whom he had appointed, one from each tribe. Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan, and each of you take up a stone on his shoulder, one for each of the tribes of the Israelites, so that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off in front of the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the Israelites a memorial forever.”
Words of Hope
It’s amazing how something that simple can hold so many memories, but I know that I have a lot of “stones” that mark significant events in my life. I call them mementos and one of them is actually a stone. It is a tiny chunk of marble I found when I was only 14 years old. Only an inch or so square, it most likely came from a mosaic from a villa in Pompeii. I found it on the street as we wandered through the ruins while on vacation in Italy. Being a teenager, I had no idea that I was probably pilfering an antiquity, and I put it in my pocket. I forgot about it until we arrived back home in Dallas. As I was unpacking my clothes the stone fell out of my pocket.
I still have it today, and it doesn’t represent the ruins of Pompeii so much as the event. The blessing of being able to travel with my parents to Europe and visit places I had only read about in history books. It also holds a memory of my father and mother and the gift of education and curiosity they gave me. I hold it and I am transported back to those happy times together as we explored Europe that summer of 1964.
That little stone can bring back a wealth of feelings and memories, and I suspect the same was true for the Israelites who had been delivered to a promised land by a loving God. They could have stopped and carved an elaborate monument to the event, but a simple stack of stones served God’s purpose.
I think sometimes we underestimate how simple things can be just as effective in memorializing an event as something monumental. I believe God appreciates simplicity. I see it in the teachings of Jesus. Simple and direct and yet filled with meaning.
God of elegant simplicity, may I remember your loving guidance and find meaning in even the simplest of things you place before me. May even a simple stone hold a memory of the miracle of creation and the majesty of your word.
Friday – October 30, 2020
1 Peter 2. 1-3
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
A Word of Hope
False Teachers and Their Destruction
Our reading today comes from the second letter of Simon Peter, the same Peter to whom Jesus would say, “and you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church.” (Matthew 16:18).
In his first letter Peter is concerned with this same mission, building the church and instructs on how to deal with persecution from outside the church. In this second letter, however, Peter is concerned with false teachers that have shown up in the church and are causing division, destruction, and false doctrine.
Peter has a “pastor’s heart”, and it is something that I too hope to be known for. I take seriously the call that was placed upon my heart when I was 16 years of age and a role, I have faithfully served for more than 30 years.
It is my belief that the church always has to be wary of “false teachers” and that our “modern-day” experience of Christianity has succumbed to many who have corrupted the word of God for the word of the world, prosperity-preaching and “doctrine” that leaves out the ways of love, encouragement, compassion, kindness and peace. All the positives of life.
These themes, central to the Gospel of Jesus, are to be protected and lived out in our lives. They are the hallmarks of Christianity and are evidenced by the followers of Christ and are what called people to call Jesus, the Christ, Messiah, Savior, Good Teacher. It was what compelled the disciples to leave their nets, put down their lives, their livelihood and follow Jesus. And it was the foundations that Jesus would call the “rock” and upon which the church was build and that Peter was commissioned to “protect” and that he addresses in these two letters.
Today is “Mischief Night”, – a night that is also known as Devil’s night, Gate Night, Goosey Night, Cabbage Night, and mat Night. It is a night when teenagers and children engage in pranks and general mischief, switching shop signs, overturning water tubs and other mischievous happenings.
While it might seem that mischievousness is innocent enough, it can cause harm and confusion. Perhaps you are a witness to this yourself!
We claim Christ through faith, hope and love, as the apostle Paul would say (1Cor 13) and hold true to our “rock”, our foundation, our Christ who invites us to embrace the road less traveled and reject false doctrine that can be so evident today.
God, the same yesterday, today and forever, call us today to examine the false doctrine we may have allowed to become a part of our faith experience and return to the ways of Jesus today.
Rev. Dr. Neil G. Thomas
Senior Pastor Cathedral of Hope, United Church of Christ
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)