Friday – March 19, 2021
Matthew 11:15 (New Living Translation)
Anyone with ears to hear, listen and understand!
A Word of Hope
In recent months, I had one of those experiences when, after all the facts come to light, I look back and see a clear pattern developing which made the eventual outcome look clear, if not inevitable. I wish I could say it was the first such experience, but we know this plays out numerous times for each of us. How could we have missed the signs? Why do intelligent people not put the pieces of the puzzle together? For me, the primary factor has been my reticence to truly look at situations I find unpleasant.
Our tendency to obfuscate what would otherwise seem obvious was stated by George Orwell when he wrote “To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.” And physicist Richard Feynman similarly noted, “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”
This applies to all situations in our lives, not only those we conceive of as being spiritual.
Jesus repeatedly speaks of those having “ears to hear,” particularly after parables or other difficult teachings, followed by the refrain, “Hear, listen and understand!” We have the ears to hear. We usually have the needed resources to rightly assess information. But surface level understanding does not provide us with the attention and focus necessary to perceive correctly. We must also “Hear, listen and understand!” Knowing the truth – with nuance, depth, and accuracy – requires our intentional willingness to seek it. We must attune ourselves to it.
The initial discomfort of discernment pales in comparison to the results when situations fully come to light.
To follow the words of Jesus by hearing, listening, and understanding situations is not always painless and rarely easy. However, God assures us that it is worth it.
Most Loving God,
Thank you for this teaching of Christ’s. May we be vigilant in heeding his voice and willing to pursue it. Grant us grace to always remember that our quest for the truth ultimately supercedes our temporal discomfort. May it be so. Amen.
Thursday – March 18, 2021
“Through love, all pain will turn to medicine.” Rumi
A Word of Hope
In a recent podcast with Kate Bowler, Anne Lamott speaks of her childhood Governess Dread. “Dread wanted me to stay small and do more to help the family feel good about itself. And it wanted me to need less and… to agree not to see what was going on (the alcoholism, abuse, her father’s infidelity and her mother’s self- loathing) because it made the grown ups feel bad about how they were living. And dread wanted me to just really not have any needs and to dance as fast as I could and to help everybody feel very, very good about the choices they were making and to take the leftovers.” Lamott admits that she grew up living the acronym she later learned in recovery: the Frantic Effort to Appear Recovered, pretending she was fine.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
love and mercy found me;
there the bright and morning star
sheds its beams around me. (“Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross”)
That Lamott descended into a life of drugs and alcohol abuse after such a childhood was not surprising. But the rescue when she trembled “near the cross” and her own transformation are extraordinary. “Grace, she says, meets you where you are but doesn’t leave you where it finds you.” The 12 step program to sobriety at 34 was a significant part of her recovery. Her faith journey which took her to a “tiny failing little church” in Marin City where she teaches children that they are loved and chosen and safe in that space is another. Her son and grandson, her closest friends—all saving graces.
If, as Rumi says, “through love all pain turns to medicine,” Anne Lamott is one of our best healers—holy-irreverent, billowing hard-earned wisdom and heart-opening generosity, the embodiment of what a transfusion of Love means.
Each of us lives our own version of this story—of once being lost and now found, of the encounter with Christ, the strong deliverer, who sets us free from whatever enslaves us, of the angels in many forms who hold us up and walk with us through the dark passages toward the light of believing that we are chosen and loved by God.
And then, when it’s time, we take our place beside another pained soul, walking with them toward the light.
God, I give you thanks for the movement of grace in each of our lives—and for those, like Anne Lamott, who tell the old, old story with such power. Amen.
Dr. Pat Saxon
Wednesday – March 17, 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
Tuesday – March 16, 2021
1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.
A Word of Hope
The Bigot and the Boy Scout
A couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon a Time Magazine article that I had saved for one purpose. I have kept it on hand to remind myself, and those I care about, that following Jesus—Christian discipleship—is not easy. The words “scared” and “SACRED” are spelled with the same letters.
In the spring of 2014, a 73-year-old racist bigot and anti-Semite, whose name I will not glorify by mentioning, went on a shooting rampage at two Jewish organizations in the Kansas City area. He killed 3 people, all of whom were Christian.
The victims included a 14-year-old Boy Scout, Reat Griffin Underwood, and his grandfather, William Corporon M.D., an admired physician. Both were United Methodists who were guests at a Passover event. Also murdered by shotgun was Terri LaManno, an occupational therapist, who was visiting her mother at Village Shalom, a Jewish residential care center. Terri was Roman Catholic.
The violent bigot’s actions pointed to the very fact that eluded him: Human beings are difficult to distinguish, no matter their religion or political viewpoints. As Time Magazine writer, David von Drehle, powerfully observed in the article, called THE BLINDNESS OF BIGOTRY:
“Reat Griffin Underwood, that 14-year-old Boy Scout, understood everything that the shooter could not. Not long before the carnage, the teenager went to the DMV for a learner’s permit, and he marked YES on the Organ Donor Form. He knew that humanity translates across race, genders, faiths, orientation, and nationalities. A big heart like his could beat in nearly any chest. In life and in death, the boy proved the bigot wrong.” (Von Drehle, David. “The Blindness of Bigotry.” Time, 28 Apr. 2014, p18)
Holy One, following Jesus is not easy. Remind me, when I hesitate, to use my innate gifts that come with being both human and divine. May I choose love and compassion over fear and hate. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Gary G. Kindley
Monday – March 15, 2021
Hebrews 3:1 and 6
Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus….Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.
A Word of Hope
The above words are the first and sixth verse of the opening of chapter three of the Book of Hebrews. The interior verses deal with how Jesus is better than Moses, stating that Moses was a faithful servant in God’s house and Jesus is faithful as Son over God’s house. I find this passage difficult to make sense of in its entirety so I am choosing to focus on the part of the passage that says, “Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house…”
We are God’s house. What comes to mind when you think about a house? As I thought about this, what came to mind for me is that a house is simply a well-constructed stable structure with walls and a roof, one that most of us would expect to have running water and electricity, a place of shelter. The other attributes that bubbled up, I realized, are things that make a house a home – a place that is warm and welcoming, a place that feels safe, a place where I am free to be my authentic self. Understood this way, both a house and a home can exist without the other. So, what does it mean to be God’s house?
As God’s house, perhaps we are to be a stable structure in the world. We are the walls that stand upright. We are the windows that let in the light. We are the doors that keep out the cold. We are the roof that create shelter. And like a house that is made up of many different materials—concrete, wood, brick, plaster, glass—all of which are necessary to create the whole, so too are we, the people of God, all made differently and are all necessary to the building and sustaining of God’s house. Jesus, as the one “over God’s house” guides the construction, maintenance, and necessary renovations of this house. Today we may be a brick, tomorrow a piece of sheet rock, the next day a door or window. Through regular prayer and following Jesus, we come to know what our role is in the house of God.
As far as being a home, that should be a natural by-product of the people of God coming together and being that house of God. If we work together, harmony and balance exist. With harmony and balance come beauty and safety. From beauty and safety come hope and love. And at the end of the day, if we all have a little hope and love, we are doing pretty good.
God, Creator of all, guide me to the place where you need me to be. Help me to stand with strength and confidence in that place. Amen.
Order of Saint Francis and Saint Clare
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
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