2015 Devotions

Friday, April 24, 2015

by
Dennis Bolin
Member, Cathedral of Hope

Scripture
“The conversation continued for a few hours there in Solomon’s porch. Suddenly, the head of the temple police and some members of the Sadducean party interrupted Peter and John. They were annoyed because Peter and John were enthusiastically teaching that in Jesus, resurrection of the dead is possible – an idea the Sadducees completely rejected. So they arrested Peter, John and the man who was healed and kept them in jail overnight. But during these few afternoon hours between the man’s miraculous healing and their arrest, Peter and John already had convinced about 5,000 more people to believe their message about Jesus!” Acts 4:1-4 (The Voice)

A Word of Hope
This is the final devotional I’ll write as a member of the Pastoral Search Committee. It has been my privilege to serve the COH congregation as we have journeyed together, prayed for discernment, made necessary changes, and thought long and hard about our future. I have appreciated being able to share through my devotionals some of what we on the committee discovered and experienced. I can speak for the Committee when I say we felt supported by your prayers and valued your counsel.

Journey is an apt description of these past 12 months. I learned a great deal about myself. How ego and fear can cloud my judgement, how to really listen to others, how to be more trusting of the “still small voice,” and how to follow a process (perhaps the hardest lesson of all for someone like me).

I also learned how the same Spirit can move in each of us but in different ways. I have come to admire how the diversity that is the Cathedral of Hope is a strength. The same Spirit can use our diverse experiences, passions, capabilities, perceptions and ways of thinking and relating to change our congregation, our community and our world for the better beyond what any of us alone can imagine or accomplish. And in the process we may find we have changed as individuals as well.

The affirmation of Rev. Dr. Neil G. Cazares-Thomas as our Senior Pastor was an emotional experience for me after these months of research, discussion, prayer and personal discovery. I have a little better understanding of what it must have been like for Peter and John in the days after they experienced resurrection – the adrenaline flowing as they enthusiastically shared their story about what a difference Jesus made in their lives. I know the feeling of not being able to keep quiet and walking around with a smile on my face.

And people listened. Oh, maybe some in the establishment felt threatened. But the people hungered for the good news Peter and John shared. And people responded. A new community was formed. A community that looked out for each other and worked together. Sure, there were disagreements – remember that the Spirit can use diverse opinions to achieve loftier goals than we would achieve if we all thought alike. But in the end they had so much in common that their vision for the future and their work together changed their world.

Perhaps the most significant lesson I have learned during these past 12 months is that selecting a Senior Pastor is only the beginning. What will make a lasting life-changing difference is what we as members of the COH community of faith do next together.

Prayer
Dear God of our collective wisdom and action, may I learn just a little more today what it means to be a member of your community. May I channel my energy to make a real difference in the world and in the process make a real difference in myself.

If you would like to receive the Cathedral of Hope devotion, we would love to be able to send it to you directly. Sign up today to receive your own copy.

 

Thursday, April 23, 2015

by
Dr. Pat Saxon
Prayer Ministry Volunteer

Reading
The cumulative mass of the root system keeps the tree upright, not just the tap root. The tap root can dissipate over time and is replaced with a series of sinker roots (smaller tap roots) through the entire rootzone.… (www.arborilogical.com)

A Word of Hope
When I moved into my home over 30 years ago, a large redbud grew along the back fence. Each year its pink-lavender-fuchsia blossoms signaled Spring’s renewal. Over time storms and disease took their toll, but even when the core of the trunk hollowed out, possums rested in its shelter and gave birth to their young until the final onslaught toppled its trunk.

Recently saplings of various sizes have sprung up from its seeds. A friend who is a landscape architect suggested I transplant a small one to the western border of the yard. So last week I took my shovel and spade and began to dig. Internet articles helped set a course for the task, but I hadn’t counted on how deep and thick the taproot was—and I damaged it removing the sapling. It was distressing. As I saw the tree wilt in transplant shock, I worried it would die and I would have been the cause, though I saved as many roots as possible, watered it deeply, and trimmed back the foliage, as directed.

I was heartened over the next days when the leaves lifted. And it was then that I discovered the quotation above on a website about the importance of the sinker roots—those smaller tap roots and the ancillary shoots—all of which help form a healthy root system.

I couldn’t help thinking about our church in the days of our pastoral “severing.” And how in the aftershock, faithful members stepped up to offer their gifts working on committees, teaching classes, serving in ministries. Together, in our need, we began to form a new and healthier root-system.

And now, as we eagerly welcome our new British-California transplant and his beautiful family, let us not forget the lessons of a healthy congregation, lessons hard won. Let us send the roots of our talents deep, connecting in service with others. And let us anchor ourselves to the One who is our truest source of strength and our foundation: the wounded and risen, mercy-and- justice-seeking, steadfast-loving Jesus Christ.

Prayer
Gracious God, Continue your transformation in us that we might be a church after your own heart. Amen.

If you would like to receive the Cathedral of Hope Devotion we would love to be able to send it to you directly. Sign up today to receive your own copy.

 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

by
Dan Peeler
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Minister for Children and Families

Scripture
This is the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah… Matthew 1. 1a

A Word of Hope

I leading a session of our Youth Confirmation class on Sunday afternoon, a spontaneous discussion arose on the subject judging each other; of people’s tendency to unfairly label each other. I agreed with them that labeling is a favorite pastime of so man of us these days, but that this cruel and thoughtless practice is certainly not a modern phenomenon and gave them an example. A favorite Hebrew Scripture character of mine was a prime example of being a target of the labeling of the day. One of the great heroes of the era, who is faced with defying the city’s ruler, saving the lives of two key Israelite agents, negotiating to have an entire extended family spared and turning the tide of one of Israel’s most celebrated conflicts is succinctly referred to in most translations as “Rahab the Harlot.”

Yet, there is no indication of what her business is in the Joshua 2 story. Her dealings with the Israelite spies has nothing to do with that profession. Still “harlot” was the identifying description the writers chose for this great hero’s place in immortality. Some of the youth remembered that when we discussed this brave and clever woman in Children’s Church, I usually referred to her as Rahab, a self- employed woman living in Jericho, not so much as a cover-up for something not relevant to their young lives, but as an unspoken lesson on restraint from labeling. Rahab’s mention in the Gospels is finally devoid of labels as the second woman listed in the first chapter of Matthew as one of the direct ancestors of Jesus. This is quite a monumental accomplishment since the gospel writer sees fit to include this triply marginalized person- woman, Canaanite, and harlot- in the revered line of the prophets and kings that finally produced the Christ.

The story of Rahab is a good reminder of the all the other labels, both inside and outside of scriptures, that we daily exchange in our conversations, referring to our children as “kids” or “rug rats”, the police who protect us as “cops”, and even to our God as “He.” That is the single label that can be the most difficult to shake and the one that easily makes some of us the most uncomfortable. But discomfort can be one of our greatest teachers, and maybe learning to contemplate a gender-neutral Creator will someday help us to better stop and think before we so routinely categorize each other.

Prayer
God, help us to see one another today not for what we do or how we appear, but as equally beloved siblings in the family you call your children.

If you would like to receive the Cathedral of Hope Devotion we would love to be able to send it to you directly. Sign up today to receive your own copy.

   

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

by
Dr. Gary G. Kindley
Pastoral Counselor
www.drgk.org

Scripture
The elder to the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth, and not only I but also all who know the truth, because of the truth that abides in us and will be with us forever:

Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Creator and from Jesus Christ, God’s Son, in truth and love.
2 John 1:1-3

A Word of Hope
"Love and Relationship"
One of my gifts, which at times has also been a curse, is to be able to see and understand diverse perspectives. Every day, we share a planet inhabited by billions of people who speak in thousands of different languages (portions of the Bible has been translated into at least 2,508 different languages). These people each share a unique perspective. Even when we share a similar political or religious viewpoint (such as Democrat or Judaism) there is tremendous diversity within those delineations. Both Hillary Clinton and George W. Bush self-identify as Christians whose faith and life experience were influenced by the United Methodist denomination. Quite a difference!

I have spent most of my life looking at people’s opinions, passions and arguments about the Bible and have come to the conclusion that love and relationship must trump doctrine and dogma if we are to take God’s grace and Christ’s teaching seriously.

The writer of 1 John said it succinctly. “. . .the truth that abides IN US and will be WITH US forever: Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us from God the Creator and from Jesus Christ, God’s Son, in truth and love.” Granted, the preceding paragraph and this verse from 1 John can take a lifetime to fully unpack and embrace, but what a life of love and learning that would be!

May we live as people of love and kindness, compassion and dignity, embodying the truth of the love of the Christ.

Prayer
Holy One, teach me to love the truths of Scripture, but not more than I love your people. Amen.

If you would like to receive the Cathedral of Hope devotion, we would love to be able to send it to you directly. Sign up today to receive your own copy.

 

Monday, April 20, 2015

by
Dan Peeler
Order of St. Francis and St. Clare
Minister for Children and Families

Scripture
Oh God, you are my God. Earnestly I seek you.
Psalm 63. 1

A Word of Hope

As you examine the weekly schedule before you, are you faced with a few monotonous tasks you would rather avoid? Is the laundry piling up? Are there clean dishes in the dishwasher that await sorting and storage? Have the lists of more interesting, and therefore more important tasks already begun to take precedence? After all, aren’t drudgery tasks intended for people less creative and gifted than you?

Of course we have the choice to dread these inevitable parts of our lives as boring drudgery or to recognize them as what the members of the Cathedral’s Order of St Francis and St. Clare call holy monotony. The difference is in finding a way to utilize this gift of time away from the regular flow as an opportunity to improve our relationship with God. An excellent method of accomplishing this is by storing up a few prayer mantras for such occasions. Mantras are words or phrases we slowly repeat and repeat again that can center our spirits on our ever present source of inspiration and comfort. The phrase in the Psalm above is one I often recall when I’m cutting out thirty sets of eagle wings for next Sunday’s children’s craft or boxing up a few thousand items I no longer need to donate to a thrift store.

A Mantra needs to be personal, a suggestion or piece of advice from the scriptures or other inspirational writings that resonates with you. A good place to begin your search is that gold mine of mantras, the Psalms. Consider Psalm 86.10: “You are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.” Try Psalm 25.4: “Show me your ways, O LORD, teach me your paths.” One of those days when you’re stuck on traffic listening to depressing news on the radio, turn it off and calmly repeat Psalm 27.1: “The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear?”

Mantra storage is always a valuable exercise. We can be certain that life will always give us ample chances to use them.

Prayer
Thank you for holy monotony and the time it provides us to know you better.

If you would like to receive the Cathedral of Hope Devotion we would love to be able to send it to you directly. Sign up today to receive your own copy.

   

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