Thursday – March 11, 2021
1 Peter 4.10
As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
A Word of Hope
I’m a big fan of Elton John. I began listening to him early in his career, not realizing until much later, how tumultuous his life was on so many levels in the early 70s. He dealt with coming out as a gay man, family life, music business, and all the random, unexpected things connected to following his dreams. As most are aware, he is a prolific songwriter and singer. I had the pleasure of seeing him in concert in the late 90s. This morning one song of his auto-played for me on YouTube; one of my favorites, Tiny Dancer. The lyrics and context were timely.
The video itself related to many things but what struck me was my own interpretation of the phrase “tiny dancer in your hands,” which, to me, is about responsibility we adults have to the children of the world. You may or may not agree, but I think it’s safe to say that as adults we are responsible for the things we say and do, especially focusing on what our children witnessed in all of us.
Jim Henson was often quoted saying, “….the world doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to the children, we only borrow it.” which is so true. Those tiny, inspired dancers, artists, scientists, doctors, environmental protectors, and yes, even those tiny ones soon to be politicians… Because in all of them lies stewardship and change. Let’ ask ourselves, what is it that we imbue to them as their adult counterparts? What is it that we set as examples for how we interact with them, how we adults manage our every-day lives, and invariably create for their world? You know your answer. I know mine. Whether I am a “kid person” or not; whether we are given the gift of teaching and understanding them, we have the job of demonstrating life; all with the ups and downs > Good and bad > Better or worse.
Most of what I do for a living involves teaching and entertaining children. In recent times, my business partner and I have been given the opportunity to step up our game regarding what we do for children in our quest to make their world better. It’s a win-win. The pandemic gave us pause to realize what we can do for them while they are stuck at home… of course, while we are all stuck at home, we must look deeper to find hope at home; realizing that confinement can also be a gift from God.
The greatest gift we have been given is the opportunity to stop and reflect, to attempt to see the world through their eyes. We are in a constant search not to turn back time, but to look within ourselves to relate to every one of them authentically. I invite you now to remember yourself at five years old; then 12 years old, perhaps even at 16 or 17 years. What would you have had adults do around you that made your world better?
In his endless enterprises and innovations, Walt Disney formulated ideas of how to create situations in which both parents and children could enjoy and experience growth together. His
primary goal was to allow us to get in touch with the child within all of us. I’m sure you could make your own list of what that means to you. Then, take a good look at what children are facing today. How do we connect with them in the NOW. Those tiny dancers are counting on each of us. They are watching us closely and they don’t care whether we are their parents or not. We are all their teachers.
Help us to remember that one of Jesus’ followers most frequent titles of respect for him was “teacher”. May we revere and honor that title in our daily encounters with the tiny dancers in our lives.
Charlie Rose |
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Wednesday – March 10, 2021
Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?
But you have made it a den of robbers.”
Words of Hope
The image of Jesus chasing out the money lenders in the Temple is one of my favorites. It is the kind of direct action that we rarely see Jesus take, and it is a very human reaction to an intolerable situation.
I have to admit in the past few years I have wanted to overturn a few tables myself, mainly of corrupt politicians and public officials. But Jesus was incensed for a different reason. The Temple of Jesus’ time had become a big business and often used its wealth to make loans to the poor, further oppressing them. Selling doves and animals for sacrifice and exchanging money was a way to take advantage of people who could least afford it and essentially place a price on entry into the house of God.
I truly believe that the Church must be free and open to all who seek God’s grace and blessing, yet it must also be able to function and support the works it does in the community. It’s a bit of a balancing act and one that often draws scrutiny from non-churchgoers. The truth is, it takes money to operate the institution, and that comes from the congregation. That’s why I give to our church, to make sure it can continue to function and be available to those who cannot afford to support it themselves. Keeping the Church a “house of prayer for all nations” is why I believe tithing is so important.
God, may I always keep faith with you and your church and give with a happy heart.
Tuesday – March 9, 2021
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
A Word of Hope
That Which is Easier
The cost of unforgiveness is anger. The cost of anger is bitterness. The cost of bitterness is hatred. The cost of hatred is division. The cost of division is war. And the cost of war is death. If you do not want to forgive, then ask yourself, “Do I prefer anger, bitterness, hatred, division, war, and death?” Nelson Mandela gave us the metaphor, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” In the end, your emotions can do the greatest damage and you become your own enemy. It is better then, to forgive…and live!
There is a Buddhist parable about two monks who took a vow never to touch women. The elder monk breaks his vow and carries a woman in need across a river. He forgave himself for breaking the vow when he decided to touch her and was able to help someone else because of it. The younger monk saw this and was upset at the elder monk for breaking his vow. When the younger monk questioned his elder about his actions, the elder monk replied, “I set her down hours ago by the side of the river. Why are you still carrying her?”
Emotions can be very heavy, and it is difficult to carry a burden for too long. Forgiving is hard, but not as hard as carrying a load for your entire journey.
Forgive others and forgive yourself because the alternative is even more painful than the offense that caused the pain in the beginning. To love is to forgive. It is not easy to love an enemy, but only love can change an enemy into a friend. Only love has the power to heal a broken heart. We love, not because it is convenient, but because everyone’s survival depends on it. Therefore forgive, love, and live.
Spirit of Love,
Liberate our hearts. Guide our thoughts. Forgiveness is hard when there is no desire for it, but we all crave a better world. We often ask for Your love not seeing that there was a reason why You gave us hearts. If we are to be Your hands and feet, then show us how to be Your heart as well. At some point, we all ask for forgiveness. Help us to give freely what has been freely given to us. Bless You Great One, for Your love is life itself. Amen.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Monday – March 8, 2021
Psalm 56: 3-4When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
Word of Hope
As we sat in our house that got as cold as 45° inside trying to survive the Texas blizzard, God sent us flocks of birds. God knows we need lots of entertainment. Our attention spans are warped to having constant TV in our lives. It is usually on while we are surfing Facebook or Instagram. We usually call our bird feeder our kitty TV.
In our blizzard we had no electricity for most of our time. It was off and on in our neighborhood. But way more off than on! Most of the time our house was in the 50’s! I did not have any concept of being that cold.
We were lucky. Some people had no electricity. And our pipes did not burst! Sheltered with friends in our home, we could eat sandwiches or cereal if we did not have power. We pulled out every blanket we had. We wore our hats and ear warmers and wrapped in blankets.
When the power turned on, we gave thanks, made coffee, took showers, made meals and knew our time was limited before it would go off again. We learned how to juggle two families of people and animals in one house. And we were wonderfully compatible!
We prayed for the homeless, hoping they had all made it to shelters. It felt selfish to pray for our electricity to come on. We knew so many who had been without longer than us. But God cares for each of us.
The beautiful birds came almost constantly in daylight hours to distract us. “What kind is that one? We haven’t seen one like it before.” We searched our book and discussed what kind they might be. We were very entertained by God’s beautiful nature and how they managed the cold. We were glad we had birdseed to feed them.
It is amazing the wonderful love of God and how you see that love in times of blizzard and pandemic. Not only did we have birds. You can see the helpers. People were finding the homeless and getting them to the shelters. People were calling to ask elderly people how they were and if they had needs. Others were securing water for those whose pipes had frozen. Warming and phone charging centers were set up all over town. Neighbors were helping clear sidewalks and porches. And they helped those who had falling ceilings.
God who is our help in all disasters, thank you for the helpers who show up. Thank you for the neighbors who do their part to help. Thank you for helping us survive cold we never expected to experience inside our homes. Thank you for sending birds to entertain us and remind us of your love and the beauty of nature.
Friday – March 5, 2021
Exodus 19: 10 (The Message)
GOD said to Moses, “Go to the people. For the next two days get these people ready to meet the Holy GOD. Have them scrub their clothes so that on the third day they’ll be fully prepared, because on the third day GOD will come down on Mount Sinai and make his presence known to all the people.” Exodus 19: 10 (The Message)
A Word of Hope
I miss religious rituals. I feel the loss especially as we go through a second Lent without many of them.
Oh, there are plenty of examples of ways in which we have overcome the loss, both in community and in solitude. But I would be dishonest to say these new ways strike the same emotional cords or speak to me the same as the old. The new ways are not better or worse just different and sometimes different is hard.
Our human spirit longs for ritual, I think. Both secular and spiritual rituals. Our lives are built around them. The biblical stories and historical accounts are full of rituals like those found in our assigned reading, Exodus 19: 9 – 15, which recalls the preparations the Israelites meticulously followed to prepare to meet with God.
I have been blessed to observe spiritual practices around the world. An ancestral homage in the Congo, silent Buddhist practices in Cambodia, Hindu chants in India, and a frigid Christmas Eve concert in Sainte-Chappelle.
Other experiences were much closer to home but no less moving. Singing around the campfire of church youth camp when 12 years old. A hike through Yosemite Valley. A visit to the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial in Washington. Volunteering at the foodbank.
And sitting in the pew observing the stripping of the alter on Good Friday as the music rises and the lights dim.
I am emotional recalling these ritual moments.
Today’s scripture – in addition to prescribing rituals – reminds us that God meets us in these practices. Perhaps most often now in the mundane and routine. God longs to be with us. I need reminding that God meets me whenever, wherever, and however the opportunity arises. Even on Zoom.
God of my being. Meet me in the rituals of daily life.
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)