Friday – April 24, 2020
1 Peter 1.13 (NRSV)
Therefore, prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed.
A Word of Hope
Peter, an apostle of Christ, was speaking to a number of Christians who were in exile. That definitely implies that they were experiencing severe hardships. He encourages them to keep the faith and his words seem appropriate for our own time of troubles.
In this verse he urges us to “prepare our minds for action; to discipline ourselves. I get downright excited when I read this, because it highlights one of the most important truths about being human and striving for holiness at the same time. Most of us revere our minds and we listen to our minds a lot. Our minds are wonderful at doing math, solving puzzles and storing information. They do not serve us well; however, if they are not disciplined.
Left to their own devices, our minds are creative and make up cleverly crafted stories that often have unhappy endings. That produces fear and the scripture reminds us repeatedly to turn from fear. 1 John 4:18 tells us that “perfect love casts out fear”. When Peter says we should discipline ourselves, we may perhaps understand that we are to discipline our minds, which will result in disciplined behavior. We can assign our minds useful tasks rather than let them run amok creating fear.
Peter says we should prepare our minds for action. The primary task of Christians is not to clothe ourselves in self-righteousness or spend our time polishing halos. It is to love God and to show Godly love to others. Note: love is an action verb!
We may not think we can do much when we are sheltering in place, but we can call and text others to check on their welfare and encourage them. We can share our resources. We can love them by not exposing them to risks. We can pray for others and let them know they are mentioned in our prayers daily. We can spread good cheer. Our neighborhood is putting stuffed animals in our windows for children to enjoy while their parents take them for walks. We have a huge Cheetah in our living room window that changes position every day courtesy of my granddaughter.
Loving God, thank you for your word and for your infinite grace. Help me to learn to rely on both for inspiration and for courage. I want to be full of love and full of grace, as you have commanded. When my mind would generate fear and my will would become weak, help me to “gird the loins” of my mind for action. Help me become love, as you are love and act, as you would act. Amen
Carole Anne Sarah
Thursday – April 23, 2020
“I have a recurring dream in which I find, behind the familiar walls of my study or bedroom, another whole house. It is always much bigger and grander than the house I live in. Once its long windows looked out on fields of lavender in Provence. In the dream I think, Why couldn’t I figure this out before? It’s simply a matter of finding a door.” Nora Gallagher
Words of Hope
It’s become a kind of spiritual practice. The week after Easter services, I pull Nora Gallagher’s Practicing Resurrection off the shelves to help me rise again because, unlike the image in ecards I sent to friends, Easter does not come in a flash of light radiating from a tomb. The memoir, beautifully and honestly told, recounts the author’s search for meaning and vocation after the death of her brother Kit sends seismic shocks through her world.
Out of death, new life. That is the movement of our lives. “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain, but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Unless the dominance of our small ego-self diminishes, we will never know the “whole house,” to use the words of Gallagher’s dream. Richard Rohr concurs: “The only trustworthy pattern of spiritual transformation is death and resurrection.”
At this time so many of us are living with currents of sadness and loss. Let us grieve those, holding our tender hearts with care. And then what? Bishop Michael Curry offers a way in his Easter sermon preached via video at the National Cathedral. He notes that it was dark when Mary Magdalene and the other women got up to go to the tomb to attend to Jesus’s body, and they did not know what they would find. Would it be guarded by Roman soldiers? Would the huge stone still block the way? But they had journeyed intimately with Jesus, heard him teach, learned his lessons deeply—even the lessons from the cross. So they got up in the dark to do what love does. Neither they nor we can change the fact of death, but we can get through it—the small and large deaths we face—by doing the work of love.
So I offer this suggestion for an Eastertide practice– that each day we prayerfully ask: What is the work of love for me today? And when we know what is ours to do, we get up in the dark and do what love does.
Holy God, Thank you for opening the doors to resurrection and calling us to Love’s work. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon
Wednesday – April 22, 2020
Psalm 98:4 (NRSV)
“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises.”
A Word of Hope
Today the sky seems a little bluer. The rivers seem a little clearer. You can hear the birds singing noticeably. The earth is making a joyful noise today. One might ask what is different than in past years? Right at this moment, a lot of governments have put their citizens under “Stay in Place” edicts. These directives have come as a result of the Corona virus impacting people across the world. There is no cure at this point for the Corona virus. There is less air travel, air pollution, automotive carbon monoxide, less trash on the roads, less garbage in the rivers, oceans, and streams because a majority of people are at home; therefore, less pollutants are in the air and less litter on the roads and in the waterways.
The earth is getting a break from the human inhabitants. The earth is singing a joyous noise as described in Psalms 98 in the midst of this pandemic. According to BusinessInsider.com India edition, they recently reported that the 70,000 “Endangered Olive Ridley seaturtles nest in peace at empty Odisha beaches as Corona virus keeps people in lockdown” because India’s residents and tourists are under a 21-day lockdown. In the recent past, tourists and residents had come to the beaches to watch the annual phenomena; authorities had to be deployed to protect the nests. People that have streams or rivers in their backyards are reporting that they can see the fish swimming now when they walk along the side their property lines.
The Corona virus is having a positive impact on the environment even though human life has changed drastically in the last 90 days. It is showing people that some of the damage which has been done to the earth can be reversed. From early to late March, the air pollution quality in some areas of the world was significantly lower by as much as 30 percent. These environmental gains might be short term, but it does point out that there is hope in reversing the global warming in a positive way.
Dear Creator of the Universe: Thank you for letting us experience traffic-free roads, plane-fee skies, cleaner air, and cleaner water ways this year. Please God help us to find ways to better cherish and protect all of the earth as you requested of us in Genesis. The world is your gift to us, and may we find creative ways to preserve it for now and future generations. May it be so in your darling son Jesus’ name. Amen!
Reverend Winner Laws
Cathedral of Hope Staff
Tuesday – April 21, 2020
When Israel came out of Egypt, Jacob from a people of foreign tongue,
Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
The Red Sea looked and ran away, the Jordan turned back;
the mountains skipped like goats, the hills like lambs.
Why was it, sea, that you fled? Why, Jordan, did you turn back?
Why, mountains, did you leap like rams, you hills, like lambs?
Tremble, earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who changes rocks into pools of water, solid cliffs into flowing springs.
Theme: A Passover Song
A Word of Hope
When the Hebrews left Egypt, they began a journey of slavery into freedom; from death into re-birth; from darkness into light. Ancient history becomes a metaphor for our lives as Christians. Our life is a series of chapters, one building upon the other as we journey from one stage of life to another growing in self-awareness and relationship with the Holy One.
What a journey! Could it be any more exciting, incredible or amazing. Psalm 114 reminds us that “the Red Sea looked and ran away…” and that the “mountains skipped like goats.” Ours is a God that “changes rocks into pools of water” and “solid cliffs into flowing springs.” Therefore, who can be against us? What miracle should we not anticipate? How does our faith inform our everyday life? Is Scripture the poetry that we are open to each Sunday or is it a recognized and lived reality that is as close to us as breathing? Indeed, our God is a God of Love and Hope who knows us better than we know ourselves and STILL loves us as we are. Be at peace.
[Take a deep breath and exhale slowly….do it again and place yourself the Presence of God.]
O Holy One, we give you thanks and praise for your many gifts to us. We appreciate the reminders of your faithfulness as we find in Psalm 114. We can only ask you to help us be as faithful to you and your Gospel as we move from day to day on life’s journey. There are days we don’t feel your nearness and other days it is easier to know you are present. Thank you for both experiences knowing that in both we learn more about ourselves and about you. Let us be your presence to our neighbors and co-workers showing them love, mercy, forgiveness and humor! You are a God of faith and fun.
We pray these words through your many names, O God!
Cathedral of Hope / United Church of Christ
Monday – April 20, 2020
For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
A Word of Hope
“What did you do during that Virus lockdown?” That will doubtlessly be a recurring question the next generation will be asking those of our era who are still around to provide some answers. This kind of curiosity is not unfamiliar to me since, for many years, I have been asked, “Where were you when JFK was shot, or his brother, Robert, or Martin Luther King, or how did you feel on 9/11?” Those tragedies, however, were one-day shocks with historically significant aftermaths. The curiosity about this unique time in our current history will not be about where we were or how we felt, but about we did during an extended period of quarantine from our whole world of neighbors.
I hope the answer that generation hears most often is “Good works.” As the Ephesians quote above suggests, we were created to be creative, and in the name of the most creative theologian and humanitarian of all time. Jesus did not waste any time during his limited quarantine in human form among us. He was tireless in reinterpreting old laws and radically changing his generation’s concept of business as usual in their relationships with each other. He expanded the definition of love of family or tribe into a single all-encompassing commandment that excluded no one. His whole life was a good work and his legacy to us is to do good works in his name.
Now, we have more time on our hands than many of us have ever had in our lives so far, or maybe will ever have. How are we going to use it? What stories of good works are we going to recall to our future interviewers? Each of us was born with special gifts or have developed skills that we have used to benefit others in the past. Now we have the opportunity to do what Jesus did; to reinterpret or expand what we already know how to do. Jesus shared his good works with those in his proximity. He was not alone, and unique to this era, even in our isolation neither are we. You are reading these words because even in our isolation we are still connected.
In the internet world, we can use all this extra time to share some recipes, host group video chats or Bible studies, spread a few words of joy, sympathize with friends in their despair, or write down and share a few favorite stories. Then, in our solitude, we can dream about and formulate ways that our particular talent might be adapted and polished to benefit a world that will never be the same. This is not an overwhelming or frightening time, but a time like no other when creative minds can be used to heal an international society that was ailing and broken long before any of us ever thought of a deadly virus.
We have the opportunity to accept this precious gift of time, read those prophetic words in Ephesians, and ask ourselves, “What is my good work which God prepared in advance for me to do?” We may not make the radical changes that Jesus made, but the world will be better because we tried.
Reveal to me that good work I can perform in your name; the one you have already prepared for me to discover. AMEN
Minister for Children and Families
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