Wednesday – July 7, 2021
John 7. 1-9
Jesus was staying in Galilee. He did not wish to go to Judea because the Jewish leaders were looking for an opportunity to kill him. Now, the Jewish festival of Booths was near. So, his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret …
A Word of Hope
Does your family tell you what to do with your life? Today’s Scripture reading is a good indication that Jesus’ family sometimes did. We know that the brothers referenced are indeed his blood relations, not his spiritual family. We often use the terms “brothers and sisters” today for other members of the Christian community but, it is clear that there is a distinction made here between “Brothers” and “Disciples”, one as Jesus’ birth family and the other as his followers.
I am always fascinated by the prospect of growing up in the same house with Jesus as an actual brother. The few times the Gospels ever refer to Jesus’ at-home relationships, we get a good idea that his siblings were not his fanboys. Proximity does not equal closeness and his brothers never seemed to have much of a clue as to who he was or what his purpose might be. Since they were related to him however, they felt it was their family duty to tell him to do what they determined was best for him. Sound familiar?
They certainly had a good idea that their brother was extraordinary. When they speak of his works, we know they must have witnessed him doing some pretty amazing things around the house and they became impatient, not understanding why he was hanging around the old town and not seeking fame and fortune in the big city…especially during a huge festival where he was certain to have a large audience. Shouldn’t someone with his gifts want to become “widely known”? He was sure to bring fame to the whole family! Sure, the jealous Jewish leaders were busy plotting his death, but wouldn’t the prospect of being famous be worth taking the chance?
The difference between us and Jesus is that we never read about him throwing a tantrum and yelling, “It’s MY life!” at his meddling brothers. He knew who he was even if they didn’t. That is the lesson he still teaches us. Our families are always generous with advice, some of it actually good, and we should be grateful for their intentions, but if we follow Jesus, we should already know the way that is right for us. He did tell us to love all of our neighbors, even the ones who are related to us. Besides, some of them are good cooks.
Help us to love and appreciate our families, both of birth and of choice. May we remember that all of us are the beloved children of the same Divine Parent. Give us the patience of Jesus. Amen
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Tuesday – July 6, 2021
Be patient, therefore, beloved, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious crop from the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You also must be patient. Strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Beloved, do not grumble against one another, so that you may not be judged. See, the Judge is standing at the doors! As an example of suffering and patience, beloved, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Indeed we call blessed those who showed endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.
Word of Hope
This verse caused me to think about the times I wasn’t patient and when I was. As a child I was, like most children, impatient about a lot of short-term things. The ice pops didn’t freeze fast enough. The trip was taking too long to get to its end. I was hungry and dinner wasn’t ready. Children do not often think in the longer term. The longest is the wait for school to get out for winter or summer break. (Ok, I was a weird kid and couldn’t wait for school to start.)
As adults we, of course, are always patient. We never get upset that the server in a restaurant takes too long to fill our tea or comes by too often asking how things are. We are always understanding in the doctor’s office when there is a delay because we know something came up to take the doctor’s attention. We are patient waiting for someone to get ready to go out and we are patient when they nag us because we are not moving fast enough. We are patient with people who wait too long at green lights (“it’s not going to get any greener”).
And if you believe that let me know. I can fix you up with a ticket for the elevator to heaven so you can avoid climbing the stairway.
But seriously as we age, we become more impatient with long term things. First, it’s a driver’s license, then being out of school entirely. We are impatient with the time it takes to get money saved up for something we want. We are impatient with not being noticed at work for the job we have done; and for the raise or promotion that goes with such notice.
Now we are impatient with the pandemic. We want it to be over. We’ve been patient (or not) with wearing masks and with people who don’t. We’re ready to breathe free. We’ve been patient and impatient with our deliveries. We’ve chafed at the inability to meet with friends. We’ve been impatient with often contradictory messages from people in authority about what to do. We feel we have endured enough and want our blessing.
I think these are the kind of things James is talking about. Of course, he is talking about Christ’s coming. But mostly he’s talking about how we should wait for that to happen. He uses a long-term example of the farmer waiting for his crop to come in. And grumbling at others is something we all do on a short-term basis. The prophets, who must have grown impatient telling the people about God’s will and
often being ignored are examples of the ups and downs of patience. Whether in the long-term or the short-term, patience is a blessing.
And, in the midst of that, James says something impactful. The Judge is at the door. Your endurance is being watched. Your patience, and your compassion, and your mercy, and that spark of God which is in all of us, are being judged.
God of love give me patience. Make my heart strong to endure what comes. Show me love that I can use to see my neighbors with compassion and mercy so that I might be patient with them as I would have them be patient with me.
Order of Saint Francis and Saint Clare
Monday – July 5, 2021
I have come that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Word of Hope
I am part of two “circle” groups that no longer formally meet. They are families God gave me. If I need prayer warriors or have great news I want to share, these people are who I contact.
Cathedral of Hope used to call the small groups Circles. I started with the Arlington group soon after we joined CoH. I soon began leading it. We called ourselves “Fun City Circle.” We gathered as a circle until most of us moved away from Arlington. Five core couples have remained as close family since the 90’s. We no longer meet as a study group, but before Covid we gathered for meals and sometimes spiritual discussions. I know I can call or text and any of those people will respond to help any hour of the day or night. They have a closer bond to me than most of my family. God blessed me with these wonderful people to give me the abundant life promised in the Bible.
The other group is the Irving Circle. It is “famous” at CoH for ministry. Crayola Crusade, Thanksgiving baskets, and Easter dinner baskets and such projects have long been spearheaded by Irving Circle members. And we still have a wonderful prayer chain! And before Covid, we had the most amazing Easter lunches and July 4th parties ever! So when I read James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above,” I always think of my wonderful circle groups! I feel so blessed to have such amazing friends. Cathedral of Hope provides many good things for its members. But the greatest, in my opinion, are the groups we can be involved in that produce wonderful friendships!
Seek out a small group for study or a service group at Cathedral of Hope. You will form wonderful friendships as you serve a meal at BACH (Breakfast at Cathedral of Hope) or hand out a bag of groceries at iCare or as you collect and hand out Thanksgiving baskets. Or when you serve with CoH members doing other acts of service.
God of perfect gifts, thank you for the amazing Cathedral of Hope friends you have abundantly blessed me with! You love us so much that you share your love for us through the friends you place in our lives. These are such wonderful gifts to nourish our lives.
Friday – July 2, 2021
You stare and stare at the obvious, but you can’t see the forest for the trees. If you’re looking for a clear example of someone on Christ’s side, why do you so quickly cut me out? Believe me, I am quite sure of my standing with Christ. You may think I overstate the authority he gave me, but I’m not backing off. Every bit of my commitment is for the purpose of building you up, after all, not tearing you down. 2 Corinthians 10: 7 – 8 (The Message)
A Word of Hope
While I often disagree with Paul’s stance on the cultural and social issues of his day (and our day, too), there are times you gotta love him. Today’s Lectionary found in 2 Corinthians 10: 7 – 11 is one of those times.
Apparently, some in Corinth were calling his motives into question. And Paul was having none of it. He stood up for himself. He pointed out his consistency and authenticity formed from his experience. To prove his point, he called out how his actions were always to build up not tear down.
Paul’s stance got me to thinking about something I have been struggling with and embarrassed to admit. I am involved in a lot of conversations at work and in the non-profit organizations I volunteer with revolving around diversity and inclusion. I have attended conferences (by Zoom, of course) diving deep in the topic and serve on Board committees examining the issue.
I have learned a lot. Primarily about my own blind spots. For example, the internships offered by one organization are unpaid which means only kids who don’t need the money will apply while many deserving talented kids are left out. I had never thought of it. Another example: requiring Board members to commit to giving (or raising) money for the organization excludes those without financial resources or wealthy social connections. No wonder the boards I serve on are all white and high economic class.
Confronting those and many other systemic barriers, not to mention my own unacknowledged biases, has been good. But here is the embarrassing part: I don’t like being preached to on this topic, especially by someone younger than me who I perceive having not really lived life. I have a tendency to discount what they are saying. They don’t seem to give me any credit for what I am doing.
Strange I would have that reaction, right? Well, maybe not so strange. The tendency for psychological self-defense may be a natural part of the human experience.
So, I admit it: I have more in common with the Corinthians who called Paul’s motives and actions into question than I do with Paul who stood steadfastly on Christ’s side. I have a lot of work to do.
God of my being. May I build up, not tear down.
Thursday – July 1, 2021
“Never, for the purpose of other people’s opinion, deny the authenticity of your lived experience.” Bishop Yvette Flunder
A Word of Hope
I sat in rapt attention as the Bishop spoke on Juneteenth weekend. Though linked only through a virtual feed to National Cathedral’s Honest to God series, Bishop Yvette Flunder drew people across the world as close as if she were a tribal elder speaking round a campfire. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJIjQgDjDNw
With three generations of Pentecostal preachers in her family, the spiritual life was the air she breathed. While young, she sought the “Baptism of the Holy Ghost.” Two Mothers of the church companioned her, urging her on: “Put your mind on Jesus, honey. Keep callin’ on him,” softly clapping, supporting until she had her vision. When it came, they held her, embraced her in their powerful arms of love.
When she felt the call to preach, she stayed in the Pentecostal church, though she could not be named preacher, only an evangelist or shepherdess, and when delivering a word, she had to speak from the floor and never “ascend” to the pulpit—placing her higher than men.
It was when she felt love’s power for Shirley Miller, now her spouse of 37 years (herself a gospel singer and Mother of the church) that she was exiled from her family and her denomination. The separation from her mother was most painful. She speaks of praying and praying about that schism in hopes for a reconciliation. On one occasion she heard a surprising word from God: shopping. But she knew what it meant, for her mother loved to shop. After an initial awkward phone call, her mother accepted the first shopping trip together, to be followed by many more.
But the return to relationship was not easy. As the daughter shared her love for Miller and her inclusive theology—of the Jesus who loved without boundaries and welcomed the marginalized– her mother said, “You realize that if what you say is true, it makes everything I’ve ever believed a lie.” It was a painful and profound turning point for her mother, but one which would eventually lead her to freedom, leaving her church, becoming a national prayer leader for the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries, and serving as mother to many who were separated from their own families.
Our community needs the voices of these powerful Elders, these women of color, these same gender loving-mystical-justice-seeking women. They pass down profound spiritual experience, authentic, lived-experience, deep in the bones.
For our Elders who live into your calling with courage and truth, O God, I give you thanks. Use them to lead us to our own deeper transformation. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)