Thursday – June 13, 2019
Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed. Proverbs 3:13-18
Word of Hope:
This scripture passage makes me think of grandparents and other elder relatives; the people in our lives who pass their wisdom on to us, if we are willing to take the time to listen to what they have to say. In my case, I have always been envious of people who had close relationships with their grandparents. When I was born, my mother’s father and my father’s mother had already died. Right around the time of my first birthday, my father’s father died. My mother’s mother lived until I was six, but spent the last years of her life in a nursing home, unable to communicate when I visited her with my mother. But I had contact with many aunts and uncles, as well as with my older siblings, who passed on bits of wisdom to me.
Whenever we visited with my mother’s siblings (she was one of fifteen!), there was so much laughter and story-telling. I learned from them the importance of humor, and the importance of being able to laugh at yourself. As a young girl, I wanted to learn to sew. I was having a difficult time learning from my mother; she was hovering over me and I felt tense and made a lot of mistakes. My oldest sister Patty brought me to her house, gave me instruction, and let me learn from my mistakes on her sewing machine. When I made mistakes, she patiently showed me how to pick out the wrong stitches and left me to correct the mistake on my own. When she thought I needed a break, she would call me into her kitchen and teach me something about cooking. I had so many pleasant times at her house, learning things in a peaceful, hands-on environment.
Later in life, I discovered that I could learn a tremendous amount by listening to older friends who had been through lots of life challenges. If they are willing to share what they learned from various situations, I am willing to listen. There are so many things I have learned this way; caring for people who are dying, how to manage my finances, how to recover from a broken relationship, the list goes on and on. It is always comforting to talk over a situation with someone who has already been through something similar. The wisdom one can gain from talking with someone with experience is invaluable.
Precious God, help me to remember that, sometimes, prayer is answered through the advice of those who are older and wiser than myself. Let me take the time to stop, listen, and reflect on the advice they have to give.
Cathedral of Hope Member
Wednesday – June 12, 2019
“Even the sparrow has found a home and the swallow a rest for herself, where she may have her young—a place near your altar, O Lord God….” (Psalm 84: 3)
A Word of Hope
I once saw a PBS show which featured an amazing journey undertaken by a loggerhead turtle. Leaving from Mexico, she spent over a year traveling 9000 miles, navigating the currents of the Pacific Ocean, evading the dangers of shark attacks, ocean tempests, and entrapment in fishing nets to return home to Japan to lay her eggs on the sandy shores she has not seen since her birth decades ago. According to author Kathleen Dean Moore, scientists know a lot about this homing instincts in animals: “Bees orient to polarized light. Salamanders steer by lines of geomagnetic force. Garter snakes follow scent. Pigeons use the position of the sun. Songbirds follow the stars. They are all drawn to a place proved to be safe by the hard, undeniable fact of their own existence.”
With the mobility and fragmentation in our society, all too often we feel like “poor wayfaring strangers” and long to return to a place where we are known and safe, loved just for who we are. Henry Nouwen asserts of this modern malaise that our “hearts are homeless” and that at its core this rootlessness and restlessness is a desire for God. In order to heal, we need not just a sporadic experience of worship—as glorious as that can be– but a deep, authentic intimacy with the One who created us, the One who continues to love us into being. Our prodigal hearts ache to return home.
St. Augustine’s words still capture it best: “Our hearts are restless until we rest in Thee.”
A deeply committed prayer practice is still one of the best paths to intimacy with the One who longs for union with us. Our personal petitions and intercessory requests on behalf of others are part of that, but the deep, open receptivity of contemplative prayer, centering prayer shape us at our very core.
May God’s Holy Light, God’s magnetic field guide us to our heart’s true home. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon
Tuesday – June 11, 2019
What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but do not have works? Can faith save you? If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill’, and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that? So faith by itself, if it has no works, is dead. James 2.10-26
But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith without works, and I by my works will show you my faith. You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder. Do you want to be shown, you senseless person, that faith without works is barren? Was not our ancestor Abraham justified by works when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was brought to completion by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, ‘Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’, and he was called the friend of God. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. Likewise, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another road? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead. James 2.10-26
Word of Hope
When I was in Catholic high school, we were taught that salvation came through works. And so we did community service hours in order to guarantee our faith and place in heaven. I didn’t buy it then, and don’t now.
To me the key phrases in then passage refer to faith without works as a dead faith. I see this as a metaphor for live versus dead, comparing faith and a body. In the first century a person was considered dead when there was no breath. This was a time when the chest moving upon and down or seeing “fog” appear on a shiny object placed by the nose determined life. There was no understanding of brain dead. There were not EKG’s EEG’s, MD’s or any of the things we know today. A body without breath was a dead body.
So how does this metaphor work with faith? A living body will breathe. A faithful person will do good works. No breath, no bodily life. No works, no faith. This is not as harsh as it seems. We can hold our breath; sometimes we must. Those who live near water, and work in boats know that if you fall in over your head, you better hold your breath until you are above the water line. Sometimes people who are doing great works need to take a break. This is why many churches allow pastors a time of sabbatical. Does holding your breath mean you are dead? No, it means you need to get your head above water. Does holding back on works mean your faith has died? No, it means you need to recharge. Even Jesus took time out away from his ministry even if only for a few hours.
But, if you hold your breath too long, it becomes painful and impossible to hold. The same applies to works done in faith. You will need to let go and go back to the work that living faith demands. But it is not only ok, but good to take a respite. Your faith will not die.
Loving God, my faith compels me to seek you and to do the work you need for me to do. Embolden my faith, strengthen my resolve, and comfort me when I need to take a break.
Order of Saint Francis and Saint Clare
Monday – June 10, 2019
I lift up my eyes to the hills–where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. God will not let your foot slip–God who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, the God who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you–the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm–and will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore. Psalm 121
“Life is totally unfair. And the only real predictor of good or bad luck is the ability to deal with setbacks. ” Quote from “An American Princess” by Annejet van der Zijl
A Word of Hope
I just read “An American Princess” and am blown away by how Allene Tew made the best of her life and was a joyful and optimistic person most of the time in spite all the many setbacks she endured. She started over many times and even survived the most disastrous economic times in her lifetime.
I post optimistic thoughts on Facebook daily. I hope people who are searching for a bit of encouragement or a smile feel better for having seen my posts.
As a director of a boys’ ranch, when teenage boys used to complain that a decision I made was “not fair” I often told them “Life is not fair.” And most of the time it benefits you. If life was really fair, we would get caught and ticketed EVERY time we exceeded the speed limit. We would be punished every time we broke any rule. But lucky for us, usually life is not FAIR! God gives us unconditional love and grace instead of being fair. How wonderful is that?
Life is manageable in the way we respond. If we make up our mind to be positive, the setbacks we face are bumps in the road, not a wall that ends our happiness. The 121st Psalm reminds us that God is in control and desires good for us.
Gracious God, you give us unconditional love. Help us remain positive and face each challenge with your help. Help us see all the beauty of the life you give us. Thank you for the amazing joy you place in our souls.
Cathedral of Hope Volunteer
Friday – June 7, 2019
This one will
say, “I am God’s,”
and another will go by the name Jacob;
That one will write on his hand “God’s property”
and be proud to be called Israel.
Isaiah 44:5 The Message
A Word of Hope
How do you introduce yourself when meeting a stranger? Which of the many various parts of your life and history do you disclose? Of course the setting makes a big difference. You emphasize different aspects of your life experience, interests, and personality when meeting someone at a party contrasted to what you share in a business venue. How we chose to introduce ourselves defines us.
You might have grown up as I did with others defining you. It might have been the taunts and names of the school yard bully. Or, as in my case, the rantings of a preacher during a sweltering July camp meeting who blamed the fall of civilization on gays and lesbians – I was only 10 years old but I knew he was talking about me. The epithets he hurled took me years to get out of my head.
Senator Kamala Harris said during a recent town hall that one of the wisest pieces of advice her mother gave her was “Don’t let people tell you who you are; you tell them who you are.”
Today’s assigned reading (Isaiah 44: 1- 5) exhorts us to proudly take on God’s name as our own. We are encouraged to take to heart how God defines us. Ignoring the labels others put on us; we should lay hold of the claim to be God’s own. Others can call us what they will but we know we are “proud to be called Israel.” One translation of Israel I found on Wikipedia is “triumphant with God.” I like that: call me Triumphant.
I wonder how people would react if I started introducing myself as “a follower of Jesus, beloved of God and triumphant in life.” It might generate some rather interesting conversations.
God of my being. Today, I claim my name “Triumphant.”
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