Wednesday – July 10, 2019
And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
A Word of Hope
Sometimes it is all too easy to see the work of the enemy. It feels like being caught in the rain without an umbrella even though you packed one. Sometimes Lord, I just want to give up. I feel the urge to quit, creeping up on me with each temptation Satan brings. As soon as I say, “I’ve had enough,” it is like the ground beneath me starts to tremor and all hopes of peace and balance are lost.
The Sprit answers, “Here I am, I never left. I had to bring you back to me. Without realizing it you got tied up in the cares of the world. If I let you have your way you’d be paying a far greater price. It is out of love that I allow you to suffer.”
I forget who said, “God takes you to rock bottom to discover God still reigns over the bottom.” Trials bring us closer to God because a weary heart makes a greater demand on God. I know that the good I do is not in vain; therefore, though You slay me, yet will I praise You. Even if my body breaks my heart will sing a song of thanksgiving. And if tears shall flow like streams, I shall lift up my voice and cry out to You for help. No devil, thorn in the flesh, or root of bitterness will deceive me for I know who my God is.
He is my strength and my defense. She is my Mother. Christ is my Brother. My Lord comforts me when my wounds have become far too many to number. My God is Love, and although there is too much love for me ever to be able to comprehend, I will spend eternity learning Her ways.
I have tried not giving up. I have tried not getting angry or bitter. Yet, I fail time after time. Allow me to be faithful at the bottom so that when I meet You, I will have no regrets. Help me to remember that not everything is the devil; sometimes, it’s just life. Jesus, in Your precious name I pray, Amen.
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Tuesday – July 9, 2019
When they heard this, they were enraged and shouted, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ The city was filled with the confusion; and people rushed together to the theatre, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s travelling companions. Paul wished to go into the crowd, but the disciples would not let him; even some officials of the province of Asia, who were friendly to him, sent him a message urging him not to venture into the theatre. Meanwhile, some were shouting one thing, some another; for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. Some of the crowd gave instructions to Alexander, whom the Jews had pushed forward. And Alexander motioned for silence and tried to make a defense before the people. But when they recognized that he was a Jew, for about two hours all of them shouted in unison, ‘Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!’ But when the town clerk had quietened the crowd, he said, ‘Citizens of Ephesus, who is there that does not know that the city of the Ephesians is the temple-keeper of the great Artemis and of the statue that fell from heaven? Since these things cannot be denied, you ought to be quiet and do nothing rash. You have brought these men here who are neither temple-robbers nor blasphemers of our goddess. If therefore Demetrius and the artisans with him have a complaint against anyone, the courts are open, and there are proconsuls; let them bring charges there against one another. If there is anything further you want to know, it must be settled in the regular assembly. For we are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause that we can give to justify this commotion.’ When he had said this, he dismissed the assembly. Acts 19.28-41
Word of Hope
One of the great joys of being part of a Progressive congregation is that spiritual growth is not only allowed, but encouraged. In the passage above we see the crowd sticking to their beliefs, “Artemis is great”. And interestingly, the Greeks believed the goddess Artemis was, for the most part, a defender of women! Not only that, but the town clerk, the local government representative, quiets the crowd who are attacking the Christians. Local officials even urge Paul to stay away for his own safety!
I am not saying that the freedoms of religion and speech as we understand them were at play. The government of Ephesus was no doubt a religious based one. The fact that there are laws in place dealing with blasphemy shows this. But clearly they were not going to allow religion to be the cause of the peace being broken. There is a way to handle this and the actions of the Ephesians are potentially illegal too. There is not cause too justify the commotion.
What then can we learn from this? Even without official religious laws, there are better ways than riots, angry shouting, and creating fear to deal with differences. This does not mean no gatherings. It does not mean no expression of your thoughts. It means being civilized.
Too often in our time we cause commotion without civility. We need to learn from this passage, from St. Francis, from Gandhi, from Martin Luther King Jr., from Nelson Mandela, Thich Nhat Hanh, and of course Jesus, that anger only inflames anger, hate only creates hate, and that peace begets peace. Instead of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, what if we say a handshake for a handshake, a hug for a hug, a kiss for a kiss?
God of peace and love, teach me to love, accept, and to grow in faith, understanding, and civility. Let me hear others and let my actions speak Your love.
Order of Saint Francis and Saint Clare
Monday – July 8, 2019
The LORD has heard my cry for mercy; the LORD accepts my prayer. Psalm 6.9
Word of Hope
July 4th we celebrated Independence Day. The true meaning of independence builds on the previous “holidays” we have commemorated- Memorial Day and D-Day! Never before has the full impact of the high price paid for my freedom been so obvious as this year.
Over a year ago the opportunity was announced for the UT Alumni Band to participate as the official band for the commemoration of the 75th D-Day remembrances in Normandy France. It was a perfect opportunity for our family. Barb’s Dad was one of the pilots involved in the invasion of Utah Beach. It was a perfect way to honor the memory of his service and all the thousands of soldiers from America and the Allied Nations who purchased our freedom on the beaches of Normandy France. We immediately signed up and started paying for the trip. Barb’s sister and one of our best friends signed on as well.
It soon dawned on me that my high school and college history courses left me with little more than an awareness that D-Day was the event that began the process of defeating the German occupation of Europe. If we were going to actually be on that hallowed ground, we needed to know the real details of the magnitude of that endeavor and how it happened and what was involved.
A trip to the World War II Museum in New Orleans gave us a vision of what went into the D-Day attack. We spent an entire day seeing pictures and visual depictions and listening to actual recordings of Eisenhower and others involved in the decision of when to start this huge process.
But seeing that and watching the movies and hearing the numbers of people involved and those who lost their lives, nothing prepares you to actually see the cemeteries! Utah Beach Cemetary has total burials of 9,388. Brittany American Cemetery is the final resting place for 4,405 of our war dead.
Hearing the UT Alumni Band play “Hymn to the Fallen” and the US and France national anthems was beyond touching on these hallowed grounds! Other bands participated as well. Visiting the graves and looking for Texans was touching. I brought poppies to place on some graves.
The enthusiasm of the French people was amazing. At St. Mere Eglise the square was totally filled with grateful French who acknowledged the part the US had in the liberation of their town 75 years ago. Seeing that beautiful burnt orange group of 280 UT Alumni Band participants come down the street for the parade was such a wonderful experience.
All 550 of us involved in this trip (and many of our Facebook friends) have a much better understanding of the cost and the success of the original D-Day.
So I hope you feel grateful for your freedom as you enjoy the rest of your Summer.
God of amazing freedom and liberty, we thank you for all those who fought and died for our freedom over the years. We thank you for our freedom to worship you in our own way, as we allow our fellow citizens that same right.
Cathedral of Hope Volunteer
Friday – July 5, 2019
“This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving: simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives.” 2 Corinthians 8:5 (The Message)
A Word of Hope
Today’s assigned reading (be sure to read the whole section to get the full story: 2 Corinthians 8:1 – 7) has me in a snit. I know Paul’s intentions may be good. And his purpose and motives are well placed. But the idea of asking faithful followers facing dire financial “pressure” (the word Paul uses) to give money they can ill afford rubs me the wrong way.
I say that being one of those (maybe rare) church-goers who appreciates a heart-felt offering call. I am moved to hear how my financial gifts are doing good. And I really appreciate it when the call makes guests comfortable by letting them know they are not expected to give. But I cannot remember hearing a supportive word said to those who may be facing tough financial challenges, letting them know they are welcome to not give, that they are full members of the community even if they are not able to put a dime in the offering plate. Let alone, going further by making sure our siblings know they can call on us if they need financial help.
As followers of Jesus, generosity is not just about money but it is about generosity of spirit. We can be generous not just with our money but in liberally sharing our understanding and support to those facing tough financial times. One of Jesus’s life illustrations makes clear in the story of the widow’s offering that we can be financially generous but miserly in giving of ourselves. Face it, when recognizing donors we tend to downplay those who are not able to give as much. And for many of us, all we can give is our time and talents – gifts surely as worthy of recognition as cash.
This is a tough discussion to have. After all, we could not do all we do as a community of faith without the generosity of those able to give financial support and folks who can give sometimes need a little nudge of recognition. Most of us can give more to help others. But let’s remember that because all are welcome, some in our midst are struggling financially and may need a reminder that they are cared for too.
In the end, I hope the praise Paul heaps on the church in Corinth applies to us: “. . . you trust God, you’re articulate, you’re insightful, you’re passionate, you love us . . .” -And I’ll add, “you’re generous with your resources and caring spirit.”
Dear God of my being. May I be aware today of those close around me who need my help and are doing the best they can financially.
Thursday – July 4, 2019
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.” John 14:26
A Word of Hope
While the nation celebrates the Fourth of July—in part recognizing our country’s independence from British rule, let us take a moment to reflect on a greater freedom—the freedom we have in the Holy Spirit.
In the gospel of John, prior to the
scripture above, Jesus has been reviewing key teachings before his final life
exam: love one another, keep my commandments–and assuring the disciples that
he would not leave them “orphaned.” So the coming of the Holy Spirit is crucial
in freeing the disciples from their crippling fear after Jesus’ death and leading
them into the world to witness to the Good News, to heal and bring wholeness in
She does the same for us, helping free us from our fear, our cramped ego-driven lives, our addictions, our entitlement, the oppressive “isms”—or whatever limits us from living a life in Christ. Barbara Brown Taylor confirms that we know the presence of the Spirit when we sense a new beginning.
Moreover, the Holy Spirit advocates for us. While there could be various manifestations of this advocacy, we might recognize Spirit in those times we are engaged in fierce “prosecution” against ourselves. When we finally pause from the accusations, we “hear” a word, a still small voice, a scripture, a reminder that loving ourselves, treating ourselves with compassion is a cornerstone of the great commandment. So She brings comfort, mercy, grace and a larger frame of reference.
The enlightenment and freedom of a larger truth might also come in a meeting where we have been doggedly adhering to our particular viewpoint, and gradually, almost beyond logic, we sense a shift, a letting go, a movement into a perspective more advantageous to the whole group or church body. This movement might come as well to release us from unforgiveness into a greater place of grace-giving with a partner or a friend with whom we have been at odds. According to Taylor, the Holy Spirit often offers people a way back into relationship.
She continues, “Whenever two plus two does not equal four but five –whenever you find yourself speaking with eloquence you know you do not have, or offering forgiveness you had not meant to offer –whenever you find yourself taking risks you thought you did not have the courage to take or reaching out to someone you had intended to walk away from –you can be pretty sure that you are learning about the gospel of the Holy Spirit.”
Holy Spirit, living Breath of God, breathe new life into our willing souls. Bring the presence of our living Lord and renew our lives and make us whole. Amen. (Keith and Krysten Getty, adapted)
Dr. Pat Saxon
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)