Wednesday – April 10, 2019
Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, ‘See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.’ But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said. Luke 18.30-34
Word of Hope
Jesus is (again) explaining to the twelve what is about to happen. It seems simple in some ways. The physical torment Jesus is going to go through is laid out quite clearly. It’s not pretty, but seems plainly stated. So why do they not grasp it? How is it hidden? This is the third time Jesus has explained what is to come and yet they don’t get it. Indeed, you have to wonder why he keeps explaining it. I have to give them credit though. They do not give up and abandon Jesus in frustration.
There are, I suppose, two explanations. One is that they are being kept from grasping the significance by something; perhaps the Holy Spirit? The other is that they cannot comprehend the import of what they are hearing. They hear the words; they cannot understand them within their personal frames of reference.
The first possibility seems unlikely. It could be argued that they were kept from understanding because of the gravity of the situation. But would not then have Jesus known? Is he telling them all of this so that when it happens it will not be such a shock? Why bother explaining what they cannot understand?
I tend to fall on the side of the second explanation. Perhaps I come from a world where psychological analysis is prominent (though I am not an analyst nor have I been under the care of one). So my idea that they are blocking out the bad news and that it is hidden by their own minds may be a product of my world, not theirs. But people are people and just because the terminology is not there it does not mean the condition is not. I think they are hiding the truth from themselves.
Of course part of this is out of their experience. Living in the Roman Empire, it is likely they had seen people mocked, insulted, spat upon, flogged and killed. But none of those folks had risen again. Indeed the religious leaders were often on opposite sides of the debate on whether there was even a life after life on Earth, let alone some resurrection.
But are they really different from us? How often when we hear things plainly stated are we left wondering “what is that all about”? We read and hear about Jesus but how often do we ask “What?” Our own salvation can be hard to grasp. Two thousand years ago Jesus was tortured and died so that we could all be saved? Hard to grasp for me even though I have had those prophecies from the Jewish scriptures explained many times. I don’t doubt it; but I’m not sure I understand it.
Loving Creator, help us understand and when we cannot understand, give us that peace that surpasses understanding. Let your love for us keep us following Jesus even when we fail to grasp all that there is about what that means. Because- we know there will be a time when all will be made clear.
Order of Saint Francis and Saint Clare.
Tuesday – April 9, 2019
Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Romans 12.15
A Word of Hope
Lent is the Season of simplification, of giving up excess, and focusing on necessities. In a nation of so much privilege, it is a challenge to list what truly are our essentials. I recall a in the film series of Harry Potter, the boy wizard asks Dumbledore what is the most important thing in life. Dumbledore’s answer is “warm socks…”
I was reminded of this quote because last night as I lay in bed. The fluctuating Texas weather has once again turned rather chilly and I became very aware of the fact that I was wearing my favorite walk around socks. They are thick and woolen and keep my feet toasty warm without being too hot. The perfect combination!
Today I’m digging a little deeper with the question, what is it I really need vs. what is it I want. How do I achieve simplification? Dumbledore’s “Socks” is a simple answer that covers so many things such as cold feet, comfort, warmth, perhaps even a feeling of security. What an incredible combination addressing so many areas all at once. That is truly simplification at its best.
Now, what would your answer be? Take a moment and really ponder your needs vs. wants and then simplify without any Wizard movie suggestions from me. What is that special thing that covers so many needs or even wants?
Let’s also think about what part of us is essential to others. What is it about YOU that others need to experience? What is something of yourself you can share that might be the simplest thing to bring a few minutes of joy and comfort? It can be material or not, yet I’m able to think of one thing I can always give when I’m with another person. It is my silent presence. There’s so much unspoken value to presence and listening without distraction or interruption; simplification at its core. Just listening today could well make a friend feel even warmer than socks.
May today be filled with your listening presence among others.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Monday – April 8, 2019
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for you are with me…
A Word of Hope
In God’s Hands
In my darkest hour I did not keep my eyes focused on God. I lost sight of what is important. Fear was at my left and worry was at my right. God was before me, but I did not hope. I lost the faith. Howbeit that Jesus was there to save me from drowning. Peter was sinking not only in the water, but in his own doubt as well. Though he took his eyes off Jesus, the Lord rescued him.
I am not defeated nor am I ashamed. Instead of giving room to vanity I will remember what it was like to point the gun at myself. I was desperate and utterly hopeless. When I pulled the trigger that should have been the end of my life. Something did die that day though it was not me. It was the thought that I was in control. If there was one thing God kept me alive for it was to say that. We are not in control. Praise God because the one who is in control happens to be madly in love with us.
Many times we will encounter storms of various kinds: unwelcomed change, illness, and even death. There are too many things that could go wrong to never think about it. Instead of seeing your situation, for just a moment, picture Jesus as you see Him in your heart. Now look at Him. Keep looking at Him. Like the Apostle Peter, he’s not going to let you drown. I will tell you again, Jesus is not going to let you drown. You may lose your life, but you will never lose your soul so long as God is keeping it.
Abba, Father we cry out, “deliver us.” These winds of change have blown me over. The waves threaten to drag me to the depths of despair. I have tried everything on my own and all I got for it was heartache. Reach into my soul Lord. Pull me out of the waters. Put me on solid ground. Give me the will to live. It is all I can do to even pray. If it were anything other than you I would dare not hope anymore for fear of losing one more thing. My Love, keep our eyes on You. If we should look to our left, be at our left. If we should look to our right, be at our right. Be ever before us on all sides and may we see You. Bless You Lord, for you will not suffer my soul to dwell in hell. As long as I have breath I will believe that in the town of Bethlehem a child was born. His name was Jesus. Amen.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Friday – April 5, 2019
“But I think it necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother, co-worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger, whom you sent to take care of my needs.” Philippians 2:25. (NIV)
A Word of Hope
I am a bit of a loner. I am very content to go an entire weekend without speaking to anyone – except at church of course. That doesn’t mean I don’t like being around people. I am very social at work and enjoy my job facilitating discussions among large groups. But if left on my own, I’d rather take a walk by myself than socialize. Just ask anyone who knows me well how maddening I can be.
Which brings me to my takeaway from today’s assigned scripture (Philippians 2:25 – 3:1): we need community. No matter my desire to be self-reliant, I cannot become all God intends on my own. I need the help of others. Even Saint Paul needed help now and then.
We seem to have lost the sense of community in the past two years if we ever really had it. There are those who seek to divide, those who feel stronger only when divisions weaken us. I suppose those divisions have always been between us and recent events are bringing them out. Maybe that is a good thing if we are willing to confront the divisions and those who exploit them.
I have observed with admiration the response of New Zealanders to the recent tragic shootings. Unlike here in the US where we tend to make excuses or avoid serious discussion, their Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern made a simple statement full of wisdom and courage. As an online petition nominating her for the Nobel Prize for Peace describes it: “Referring to the 49 or more killed, she said: ‘They are us.’ Not ‘they are one of us,’ or ‘they could have been you or me.’ None of that cautious self-insulating, self-indemnifying vagueness. Simply, they are us.”
During this Lenten season of self-reflection, I need to be reminded that I am not alone. I am a member of a community that struggles together.
God of my Being. I am a member of your human community.
Thursday – April 4, 2019
“Restore our fortunes, O Lord,/like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears/reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,/bearing the seed for sowing,
Shall come home with shouts of joy, carrying their sheaves.” Psalm 126:4-6
A Word of Hope
The sky is falling! The sky is falling! A loud crash and Charley’s insistent barking signaled a recent Chicken Little moment, when a huge chunk of the ceiling in the guest bedroom crashed to the floor, spewing old, soggy insulation, jagged sheetrock pieces, debris, and dirt across the carpet. It was just the latest in an ongoing series of trials, as the “house demons” raged freely. The long saga need not be retold here, but a major source of the problem, which at first mystified seasoned professionals, turned out to be the result of a faulty installation of part of the heating unit, causing condensation to collect underneath the roof. Ironically, the collapse allowed discovery of the once hidden source of the problem. Sometimes “breakdown leads to breakthrough.”
I have never had a Lent like this one. Normally, I am wrestling with inner ogres, working on forgiveness or relationship issues. Challenged by resistant unhealthy habits of mind/heart/body, I lift them to the light of self-examination, holding the wounded in love, asking for healing and mercy where I have wounded.
This season it has been impossible to cling to spiritual disciplines in the way I have practiced them, impossible to cling to order in the midst of chaos. Once again the cherished myth of control is being pried away. Relinquishment is the watchword for this season—from letting go of an old and treasured vanity (the double meanings ooze from the phrase), to releasing mindsets about how things should be, to even letting go of my quiet, studious, do-nothing-else-but-prepare ritual for facilitating Lenten classes. It’s a call to trust that God is in it all and in us all and that I don’t have to carry things alone.
In this time, the gift of nature’s renewal has restored me again and again—the redbud trees, the greening of peach trees, a mourning dove’s company. On the table two sunflower seeds from last year’s golden bounty press their tiny green shoots upward through the soil, the force of stubborn hope. May it be so with me.
Through it all, through it all, [our] eyes are on you. Through it all, through it all, it is well.
Dr. Pat Saxon
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)