Friday – August 28, 2020
1 Peter 3:13-17 NRSV
Now who will harm you if you are eager to do what is good? But even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed. Do not fear what they fear, and do not be intimidated, but in your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord. Always be ready to make your defense to anyone who demands from you an accounting for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and reverence. Keep your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who abuse you for your good conduct in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if suffering should be God’s will, than to suffer for doing evil.
A Word of Hope
There are times in society and in religion when it is time for things to change. How does one recognize when change must happen? It happens mostly when people feel oppressed, marginalized, and plain old abused. Sometimes it relates to taxes. Sometimes it relates to race. Sometimes it relates to religion. Sometimes it relates to gender. Over the centuries, there have been many protests that change the course of history (herstory) and humanity. There have been protests that began a movement in 1517 when Martin Luther challenged the Catholic Church. There were protests for women’s suffrage 100 years ago. This year (2020) there were protests all over the world as result of police brutality against Black men and Black women.
In the 1 Peter scripture referenced above, Christians knew they needed to take a stand on some issues just like Jesus did while he was on earth. Jesus was a liberator providing hope for the poor, homeless, and politically abused. He showed us how to be grounded in our values as well as to be guided spiritually in pursuing justice for people who need our support. We, as faithful servants, need to help those that are uncomfortable with societal norms (health care disparities, police brutality, misogyny, employment hiring discrepancies, etc.) to protest for a better world that includes all God’s children.
A question comes to mind during these types of protests for events during Jesus’ time as well as current events and it is: “What is God doing in this season of protests?” The answer I hear is “God is doing a new thing. It is right. It is good.”
Dear Creator of the Universe: Thank you for allowing us to know when we must participate in a movement for change. Help us to recognize the fear in change. Help us to do what is right and what is good. Help us to not be intimated by those in power. Help us today to protest where it will make a difference in the community for God’s Kin-dom. May it be so in your darling son Jesus’ name. Ase! Shalom! Amen!
Reverend Winner Laws
Cathedral of Hope Staff
Thursday – August 27, 2020
Colossians 3:13, NIV
Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
A Word of Hope
Global Forgiveness Day
August 27 is Global Forgiveness Day. Instituted in 1994 by a group known as the Christian Embassy of Christ’s Ambassadors, the day was set aside as one to forgive and to be forgiven.
For most of us, I suspect, forgiveness seems like a beautiful idea in the abstract but meets great resistance and aversion the closer it moves into our own lives. I love the idea of people across the globe offering forgiveness or, conversely, an apology to another. For me to be a part of it, however, tends to feel less beautiful and more onerous.
Since forgiveness, like love and a heart for the disenfranchised, cannot be separated from the mission and nature of Christ, it deserves more attention and robust conversation than we give to it. As followers of Jesus, we need to address this most difficult topic so that we may understand and practice it as a core value in our spiritual journey.
I believe the burdensome feelings that surround forgiveness stem from the messages we’ve received about what these actions entail. We may resist forgiveness because of misconceptions we absorbed from the church or society at large, that it means what was done to us is okay, that our trust is restored, that our relationship is mended, or that we also forget the offense. In his book The Shack, Wm. Paul Young writes that “Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person’s throat.” Forgiveness is also not an act of condescension, some form of, “you did something terrible, but in my spiritual superiority and magnanimous heart, I will stoop down in order to forgive you.” I’ve heard this described as “forgiveness to destroy,” a weapon cleverly disguised as an act of charity.
Forgiveness is a conscious and deliberate decision we make to let go of a grudge, a desire for revenge, and an expectation that another remains indebted to or owes us. It cancels the debt and allows us to release the heavy burden of carrying resentment in our heart. While a decision to forgive often occurs at a specific moment in time, the process is rarely, if ever, a one-and-done event. Young also writes in The Shack, “You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely.”
On this day, I encourage all of us to at least prayerfully consider forgiving someone who wronged us, offering a sincere and heartfelt apology to someone we wronged, or even both. If we all released another from our desire for retribution, released ourselves from the onerous burden of carrying resentment around, or felt the release of saying, “I’m sorry,” imagine the change that would take place in our world.
May the Grace and Peace of Christ be yours today and always. Amen.
Wednesday – August 26, 2020
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-9 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
A Word of Hope
I have sometimes been accused of being a bit of a “Pollyanna”, meaning that I am steadfastly determined to see the best in any situation. Well, I admit it is mostly true. I furthermore, believe it is what the Bible teaches us to do. Plus, it just makes good sense to me.
I once left my purse in a restaurant. My friend and I were miles down the road when I discovered it was missing. We headed back to the restaurant with an interesting conversation. I was sure that the purse would be either where I left it or in the Manager’s safekeeping. My friend said it definitely would not be there. He remembered the people who were seated at the table nearby. According to him, they were sleazy characters who looked like the sort of people who would take the purse and run.
He said his way of thinking was best because it prevented him from being disappointed. I argued that my way left room for everything to turn out just fine without worrying about bad things that never happened.
Arriving at the restaurant, the “sleazy” people greeted us with smiles, and said, “We took your purse to the manager. Just check with her.”
I rest my case.
It turns out this system works well for a lot of things. My newsfeeds inform me of all sorts of evil, vice, and turmoil that inhabit my world. I keep informed, but I do not let these things overwhelm me or keep me from noticing the wonderful blessings and many acts of kindnesses that also surround me.
It is a worthwhile exercise to notice our thoughts and conversations and compare them to those recommended in Philippians 4: 8-9. When we fall short, we need not spend
time criticizing ourselves. We can simply redirect our thoughts and words…”And the God of peace will be with you.”
Beloved Creator God, I am so grateful for the numerous blessings you have lavished upon me and upon the country in which I live. Help me to be always mindful of the love the beauty and the grace that surrounds me every day. Help me to be generous, kind and loving to every person I encounter. May your Spirit live within me and flow through me to my world. Amen
Carole Anne Sarah
Tuesday – August 25, 2020
“…Your greatness is seen in all the world.” [Read Psalm 8]
[Take a moment to place yourself in the Presence of God…deep breath. exhale slowly. Deep breath, exhale slowly.]
A Word of Hope:
I have been impressed recently about, in addition to impacts both political and financial, how the Pandemic is impacting our psyche and our spiritual lives. Low-grade depression is rampant and friends have reported that at least a small break from their kids would be most welcome. “If I ever ask for ‘family time again,’ push be out the front door.” “I am sooo bored.” “I can’t even watch another Netflix episode.” “I am on overload.” “I know that others are worse off than me, but I am really on the edge of loosing it!”
There is a great feeling of loss and “disconnectedness” regarding the Church community. We have learned or re-learned that our significant moments of prayer are in community with those who we care for and who care for us. We miss the people and we miss the music and we miss the smiling faces hidden by those very necessary masks.
Psalm 8 reminds us of the glory of God all around us. God’s greatness is readily apparent if we have eyes to see and to see with the eyes of faith. Hug a puppy. Look into the eyes of a baby. Treat yourself to an incredible sunrise of sunset. Listen to the birds outside your window. Drink
a cool glass of water. Lift your face to the sun and feel the touch of God. Look at pictures of the mountains anywhere in the world. Stand before an ocean. Rescue the dog. How glorious is the Lord, Our God? Creation is spectacular and is uplifting and faith-filling, especially in times like ours.
[Take a deep breath and exhale slowly….do it again.]
O Holy One! Although we are very aware of our humanity and our foibles, You are good, reminding us of your glory and that You are closest to us when we are fully Alive in You. We recognize that the images of your glory surround us each day if only we let ourselves see them, be grateful for them and to promote them in our lives both practically and spiritually. Loving You, “How can I keep from singing?”
We pray these words through your many names, O God!
Monday – August 24, 2020
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to God’s purpose. Roman 8:28
A Word of Hope
I have witnessed several conversations lately on social media where the perspectives have been binary – where one’s position is either absolutely right or absolutely wrong, good or bad, Liberal or Conservative, Christian or non-Christian, and so on. I’m sure that this experience is not my own. Reading all of these posts brought me to a place that I did not like, a place where I found myself making statements like “people are stupid” and “social media is the work of the devil.” I had fallen so far that I was willing to make the exact same kinds of binary statements as the ones that had brought me to this uncomfortable place. That moment of realization made me feel a little like a GPS when you don’t follow its directions. “Recalculating” resonated inside me. I did just that. I had to stop and “recalculate” how I was feeling about people and social media and, really, life in general.
This combination is a catch-22 right now. For many of us, social media is the only interaction we have with people beyond those in our immediate households. We rely on it to keep up with our circle of friends, to find a few moments of laughter thanks to silly memes, and, of course, to find that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with all of the cute puppy and kitten photos. The flip side of this goodness is that because there is so much amiss in the world right now, peoples’ anxiety levels are high, which seems to cause the standard for polite and respectful discourse to plummet into almost non-existence, especially on social media. It is so easy to say ugly things when you don’t have to look another person in the eye, or hear the emotion in their voice, or feel their breath as unkind words are being spewed about. I realized that the whole social media debate was anything but binary for me.
I’m usually not one of those that plays along with any of those Facebook posts that ask me to respond in some way and then copy and paste the entire post on my own timeline. The other day, however, in a moment of weakness, I did just that. The gist of the post asked those who read it to comment with one word that somehow illustrated the connection that we have. It was a “God thing” that I did this because in so doing, my feelings toward social media and humanity were changed in a positive way. Friends from high school, college, graduate school, my professional circle, and those that are my closest friends now responded. As I read the comments, I realized how blessed I am to have shared the journey of life with so many amazing people and to carry in my heart so many beautiful memories. It is so easy to forget those simple moments from long ago until a dear friend mentions “that” song. These small but powerful moments are what hide between all of the binary ideas that hit us over the head. And it is in this same “betweenness” that we find God. God is not teetering on one end of the continuum or the other. Rather, God exists along the entire path between us and them, between yes and no, between all or nothing. Thank goodness!
Omnipotent God, guide my thoughts and ways such that empathy and compassion are my constant companions. And remind me often that “recalculating” is a sign of strength and humility. Amen.
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