Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Minister for Children and Families
“When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things.” 1 Corinthians 13.11
Word of Hope
Has anyone in your life ever used the Bible to scare you into submission? After being a progressive Christian for more years than I can count, that concept is almost foreign to me now, but I do have some pretty scary memories, mostly about God constantly spying on me and maybe even making a “naughty and nice” list. This was a pretty standard view of the Divine when I was growing up in a world where all the churches I knew about were very conservative.
Using the Bible as a weapon to whip rebellious youngsters into shape was not a new concept then and unfortunately is not an extinct concept now. I remember in particular an earnest Sunday School teacher once using an Old Testament story about some youths who are making fun of the Prophet Elisha’s bald head, but are interrupted by some she-bears who suddenly appear out of the woods to terrorize and maul the children. “See what God will do to you if you sass your elders?” That was the clear lesson the Bible taught, declared our teacher with a smug smile.
Here are some wise observations on the subject by Cathedral of Hope member, David Faulkner: “As a gay Christian I've abandoned any number of beliefs I held as a child or young adult. I see that as a good thing. Many of them weren't healthy beliefs for anyone, gay or straight. For example: Reading Brandon Ambrosino's recollections of growing up believing that every sin had to be confessed immediately so as to not miss the rapture, brings to mind my 4th grade Sunday school teacher's reminders that we should always thinking "What if Jesus came back and found me ... (doing whatever she assumed 4th graders to be doing that would displease Jesus, I suppose.) There are many ways to view the second coming of Christ. Using it as a way to frighten children or adults is probably the least useful.”
Loving God, help us to continue to put away childish things so that we can truly know your grace. Amen
With thanks to David Faulkner, Cathedral of Hope Television Ministry Volunteer
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Minister for Children and Families
“So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel…” -Genesis 28.18-19
Word of Hope
Did you know that the above scripture is one of a few instances in which an individual in the Hebrew Scriptures constructed a cairn? The Bible is rich in advice for living, colorful narratives and the history of a civilization’s understanding of their God, but it is also a source of interesting trivia for us to remember. This is an easy task for me, since a significant percentage of my accumulated knowledge is essentially trivial.
As to the trivia about the cairn, many years after the time of Jacob, yet another cairn was constructed at the direction of Joshua; this one being a stack of twelve stones honoring the twelve tribes of Israel, which had been founded by the sons of Jacob. Cairns are stacks of rocks that the ancients used to commemorate a significant event or memorialize revered persons, so Jacob’s single stone pillar could be considered a minimalist cairn, but its symbolism was certainly not trivial. The rock that he set up and anointed had been his pillow the night he had his famous dream about the ladder on which angels ascended and descended between earth and the heavenly realm. He was so moved by the vision that he named the desolate hillside location “Bethel” which means the “house of God.” The event also marked a time in Jacob’s life in which he had left the home of his childhood behind and was on his journey into the unknown, trusting that God would guide his steps.
Jacob’s example of cairn building is a fitting image to consider at the beginning of any new task or challenge in our lives: times when we remember past lessons and establish a solid directional marker as a foundation on which to realize our own dreams and visions for the future. It’s always a good time to start stacking some rocks.
May I live in Bethel and build on the solid rock of your guidance as I always face new challenges and may I always be grateful for past lessons.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Rev. Dr. Dawson B. Taylor
[Jesus said:] “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
This past Thursday was an interesting day of dichotomies. I began my day very early at Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport to fly from Dallas to New York City to officiate the wedding of two dear friends. One of the grooms attended college with me and he and his partner wanted a legally-recognized wedding, thus Central Park in New York City. About 30 of us have gathered from across the country to be here to celebrate with them and it is a gift for me to sign a legal wedding license for a same-sex couple. I pray for the day when I don’t have to fly to New York for that to happen.
However, as all of these emotions were swirling around me, I kept noticing all of the verbal warnings over the public address system at the airport; messages about dangerous bags and lawful searches. And it struck me about how much fear was being put into the minds and hearts of travelers as we waited to board planes for our various destinations.
When I arrived in New York on Thursday, I made my way to my hotel. I met my friends for a late lunch and then saw a Broadway show. Following that, many of the group went to eat dinner at this small, classic New York Italian restaurant. It was so much fun to share stories, meet new friends, catch-up with old friends. But the sole purpose that we were all together was to support our friends as they make this lifelong commitment. I just couldn’t help but be struck by how much love there was at this dining table. Some of that love and support was spoken aloud as we talked about our excitement for our friends and some of it was simply by being present.
A day filled with messages of fear and a day filled with messages of love. It was the messages of love that lifted my soul. It seems to me that we have that choice each day: we can be harbingers of fear or harbingers of love. Which will you choose this day?
“Loving God, help me to show love in a world of fear. Amen.”
Friday, June 14, 2013
Dr. Pat Saxon
Prayer Ministry Volunteer
Scripture [Those] who live in the shelter of the Most High…[.need not] fear the terror of the night…or the destruction that wastes at noonday. Psalm 91: 1, 5, 6
The images of the massive damage from the Oklahoma tornadoes still sear our minds, and we continue to pray fervently for those affected. But unless we have been through a storm of such destructive power, it is hard to imagine what it is like except from the stories of survivors or the comparisons drawn by news commentators: that the EF 5 storm which shattered Moore carried a force stronger than the Hiroshima atomic bomb. Exploding seemingly safe structures to bits. Tossing cars like legos. Uprooting ancient, sheltering trees.
Sometimes we find our lives in such shambles—the result of our own actions or leveled by forces beyond our control: economic, professional, medical, relational. With self-reliance and independence being cardinal American values, we can, at such times, feel shame, feel like a failure even when we have not been at fault. Adding relentless self-blame and withdrawal only exacerbate our misery and isolation.
We must learn to acknowledge when we need our own “rescue teams”—our first responders, Red Cross, fire and safety rescue. Whether they present themselves in the face of good friends and family, healing professionals, self-help groups, credit counselors, or the church, there are people to offer a hand, to hold us until we can rise from the rubble. Call for your “911.” It may save your life.
I remember the story of an Oklahoma mother grabbing her children and the dog, shoving them in the safe room and weathering the storm there. The tornado destroyed the whole house—except for the walls of that closet reaching toward the sky. Such times beg to ask: In what is our assurance? Where are our sturdy walls, our firm foundation? Though there is no such thing as absolute safety, as Christians our trust, though tested again and again, is in God—our very present help in time of trouble-- and in the community of faith, flawed and so very human, but the very body of Christ in this world.
Sometimes, God, our prayer is a desperate, “Help me.” Someone is praying that prayer this very morning. Though your help may not look like what we expect, our hope is in you. Amen.
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Thursday, June 13, 2013
Rev. Dr. Katherine Godby
Associate Pastor for Spiritual Life
O LORD, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! 3 When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; 4 what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? 5 Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. Psalm 8
A Word of Hope
One of my favorite podcasts is Krista Tippett’s interview show called “On Being.” A recent guest was physicist S. James Gates who specializes in super string theory, which, I found out, is based on something called super symmetry theory. The title for the podcast was “Uncovering the Codes for Reality.” Dr. Gates and his colleagues have discovered codes inside the equations for super string/symmetry theory. He likens these codes to how DNA is a code that makes us who we are biologically. The difference is that these codes are sitting inside equations about the nature of all reality.
What’s fascinating is that these codes are made up of zeroes and ones, just like a computer program. They’re used in precisely the same way that computers use ones and zeroes to send digital information, bearing a striking similarity to a web browser’s “error correcting codes” which allow our computer browsers to work accurately. The scientists were so stunned that it took them months to really admit to each other how bizarre this discovery really was.
Gates cautions that just because they’ve found these codes sitting inside the equations about the nature of reality doesn’t mean that at our most fundamental level we and our reality are computer programs. (Remember the movie “The Matrix”?) To leap to that conclusion would be a logical fallacy—mathematics can’t be used that way. Still, he said, and I certainly agree with him, it is a deeply intriguing discovery.
As I listened to this interview—and I was listening intently—I remembered that one name for God is “Ultimate Reality” and that “in God we live and move and have our being.” That reminded me that although Dr. Gates’ words were bringing the MYSTERY of reality to me in a powerfully visceral way, I also experience God in a way that is easily recognized and identified as the movement of God in my life and my relationships. Yes, ultimate reality is a huge mystery, something that we with our human limitations will always have to approach provisionally, with humility. But God is also known to us through Jesus, the man from Nazareth. In Jesus we can be confident that we see and know something of the divine mystery.
Thank you, gracious God, for the Mystery that you are. May we approach Mystery with respect and humility, but also with deep trust, remembering always that it’s the gift of your love, so knowable, that sustains us, grows us, and carries us into the future with confidence. Amen.
- Devotion Wednesday, June 12, 2013 - Galatians 3.28 - Lynn Walters - Director, Hope for Peace and Justice - Dallas - Cathedral of Hope UCC Dallas Texas
- Devotion Tuesday, June 11, 2013 - Revelation 22.18-19 - Dan Peeler - Minister for Children and Families - Dallas - Cathedral of Hope UCC Dallas Texas
- Devotion Monday, June 10, 2013 - Ephesians 4:22-24 - Dr. Gary G. Kindley - Pastoral Counselor - Cathedral of Hope UCC Dallas Texas
- Devotion Friday, June 7, 2013 - 2 Thessalonians 2:15 - Rev. Lynette Ross - Pastor - CoH-Houston - Cathedral of Hope UCC Dallas Texas
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