Thursday – January 21, 2021
Mark 10: 46-52
…throwing off his cloak, [Bartimaeus] sprang up and came to Jesus. Then Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” The blind man said to him, “My teacher, let me see again.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.
A Word of Hope
Bartimaeus is so clear about what he needs from Jesus: to regain his sight, to see again. He has lived a lifetime with the impact of his blindness—which in his day could mean poverty, begging, scraping by just to live.
Though most of us have not experienced physical blindness, we are hampered by biases— “prejudices or pre-critical inclinations in favor of or against something.” These patterns of distortion prevent our ability to see what’s really there.
For example, we often think we see so clearly the faults and distortions of those opposing our political beliefs, religious tenets, or ideas about race, gender, and identity. And it is so easy to judge them harshly. THEY are the blind ones, not us. But our own “astigmatisms” distort the truth, their humanity, their sacredness as children of God. Moreover, our self-righteousness is a spiritual liability inhibiting our growth.
The series of podcasts called Learning How to See, from the Center for Action and Contemplation, helps provide a corrective lens to our biases. Led by the exceptional Brian McLaren, Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, and Fr. Richard Rohr, the series presents a comprehensive list of common biases, and, through the leaders’ honest personal narratives and commentary, shows how damaging these misconceptions are in our lives. Moreover, the interactions of the three guides models respectful dialogue at a time when civility has been deeply damaged in our discourse.
McLaren presents the first two biases in the episode one.
1. Confirmation Bias: the human brain welcomes information that confirms what it already thinks and resists information that disturbs or contradicts what it already thinks.
2. Complexity Bias: the human brain prefers a simple lie to a complex truth.
All the facilitators acknowledged how both of these played a part in closing off doors to others at different times in their lives—and if we are honest, we can too.
At a time when schisms between us is abyss-wide in our country, exploring this podcast series can be a transformative experience. Even better, get a companion with whom you can process the work. https://cac.org/podcast/learning-how-to-see/
We might be more reluctant than Bartimaeus to encounter the healing of our vision, but with courage and commitment we can get on the Jerico road and follow Jesus on the way.
We confess that we don’t see well, Jesus. Help us get the log out of our own eye—and live into Epiphany light.
Dr. Pat Saxon
Wednesday – January 20, 2021
1 Timothy 1-2
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.
A Word of Hope
Today, the Inauguration of the President, will for many, represent a day of new beginnings and opportunities. Our elected President will take an oath to serve and protect the Citizens, uphold the Constitution, and agree to refrain from personal gain.
While I am writing this devotional in advance, I have no idea of how this day will unfold. I have been taking Timothy’s advice and fervently praying for Peace. As Christians, we take an oath of sorts when we vow to follow the ways of Christ. Jesus asks that we “love our neighbor, practice unconditional love and be merciful to others.” That’s fairly easy as long as it’s not an inconvenience or a burden in some way. Its easy to say we “pledge” our love and it’s often difficult to make it a priority.
In the comic strip “Frank and Earnest”, Frank is in the court room standing in front of the judge who says to him, “it’s guilty or not guilty, you can’t plead “I gotta be me.” While this cartoon is humorous, it touches close to our current culture which often places the demands for “self” above the needs of humankind, integrity, and honor. Christ calls us to surrender to spirit, not manipulate outcomes for personal gain.
Timothy urges us to utilize prayer, the most powerful God-given tool, to change the lives of ourselves and others. Prayer cannot be explained and yet the Bible promises God will respond to our petitions.
On this inauguration day and thereafter, we may get excited and place our hopes in candidates with a “new spirit” of patriotism. I pray we always remember God has chosen us and is empowering us with the Holy Spirit to pray fervently for our nation, our leaders and especially our church.
Creator God, through the power of prayer we give you thanks and praise as we calmly rest in your promise! Amen
Tuesday – January 19, 2021
Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
A Word of Hope
With Earth’ s creation and the unfolding of the human experience, God saw great beauty and expanding potential for our loving relationship with the Holy One. The creative act endowed humanity with freedom of choice. Some individuals generally chose a lifestyle pattern which was compatible with divine hopes; while, many more individuals ignored the opportunity to walk in the ways of God. Over many generations, disobedience and evil ways were chosen most often. From the descendants of the righteous man, Abraham, God chose to demonstrate the Divine’s nature and purpose toward humanity.
However, even those Israelites often failed to live according to God’s desires. It was an era when so many were frightened and dismayed. Even with the threat of increasing sin, the creation was not to be abandoned by God. Creation would be redeemed. And from the family of Jesse, King David’s father, would arise One who would restore humankind’s relationship with God. Throughout the centuries, we have been given hope and courage by so many hymns that remind us of that truth. “Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tenderest stem hath sprung, of Jesse’s lineage coming as saints of old have sung. It came a flower bright, amid the cold of winter, when half spent was the night. This flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air, dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere. True man but very God, from sin and death he saves.” -from a 16th-century German hymn.
Do you remember this hymn by Bob McGee? “Emmanuel, Emmanuel, his name is called Emmanuel. God with us and revealed in us, his name is called Emmanuel.” God continues to offer us this incredible, loving gift of Emmanuel to save us and draw us into close relationship with the Holy One. God in us, God with us and God to act through us. Because of this gift, our relationship with God may become intimate and eternally unbreakable. It is a gift of divine wisdom and presence to empower us to bless the world. What a fantastic gift which is freely offered to each of us by the loving Creator. Only one question remains… have you received this gift, opened it up and let the light of God motivate your life?
Almighty God, we give you thanks that you will sustain and guide us through uncertain periods of life. We can place complete trust in your constant presence and love in our lives. Strengthen us to obediently listen and respond to your voice. And may our confidence in your guidance allow us to comfort and help those around us who experience fear and need. Amen.
Donald (Luke) Day
Order of St Francis and St. Clare
Monday – January 18, 2021
Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others. – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
A Word of Hope
I remember the time I met Martin Luther King in an elevator…That sounds like an opening line for a tall tale or joke, doesn’t it? It is neither. In 1966, Dr. King was invited to SMU to participate in a seminar on civil rights. He spoke at McFarlin Auditorium to a standing room only crowd and to avoid the crowd, he entered the building through a freight elevator in the back of the building. I had just helped a friend carry some musical instruments upstairs in that elevator and was in the process of leaving the building. When the elevator door opened on the ground floor, I was greeted by the sight of Dr. King and three of his workers waiting patiently to enter the auditorium.
To say I was stunned is an understatement. I was about 20 years old and completely unprepared to meet any celebrity, so I awkwardly cleared my throat and asked him, “Going up?” He recognized my discomfort immediately, smiled broadly, and replied, “Well, I certainly hope so!” My discomfort went away. I became the elevator operator and took them upstairs. Dr. King continued to laugh and exchange pleasantries, thanked me, and wished me the best in my college career. Then he was on his way. I had looked at history in the face.
On MLK Day every year, that smiling face is the first image that always enters my mind, not the intense and eloquent speaker, not the revered prophet of our time, but someone who cared enough to put a put a young stranger at ease with a little joke. I had admired him as a remote public figure but, had now been given the opportunity to glimpse the human being. Of course, being a white Texas kid admiring him in the early 60’s had already classified me as an extremist. The elevator encounter inspired me to read everything I could find that he had written. One particular quote has always stuck with me:
“The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. Will we be extremists for hate or for love? Will we be extremists for the preservation of injustice or for the extension of justice?”
Which kind of extremist are you? Today is a perfect day to consider that question. Dr. King followed the teachings of history’s most radical extremist, Jesus, who said, ““In everything, therefore, treat people the same way you want them to treat you, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” -Matthew 7.12
Dr. King spent his life practicing Jesus’ example of inclusive love, always seeking happiness for others, whether he was speaking to a crowd of a million in a Washington mall, or to one awkward college kid in an elevator.
Thank you for chance encounters that can change our lives. Inspire us to hear and heed the teachings of the ones who make us extremists for the extension of your justice.
Minister for Children and Families
Order of St. Francis and St. Cla
Friday – January 15, 2021
Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” 1 And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.
Word of Hope
As I indulged in some Christmas shopping, I observed parents struggling to shop with children. While that can be an absolutely delightful experience, it is often not. My heart went out to the crying toddlers and their stressed-out parents. Today I want to share a story on behalf of all the children in our community and their parents who would love to parent more peacefully.
I was teaching a two-day parenting course when I stressed the importance of being a friend to their child’s excitement. (Listen up. This applies to the child within each of us as well as our offspring). I described entering a store with a toddler who spots a display of balloons.
“Balloon!” cries the child with hands outstretched.
Now, the parent has to make a choice. Some will start a lecture on why the child cannot have everything they see or want. Others will try to ignore the child. Some will respond with a stern “No!”
The wise parent will choose none of the above things, as those options fail to befriend the child’s excitement. Rather the parent can join the child’s delight in the balloons and say, “Oh yes, look at all the pretty colors! Perhaps name some of the colors. (Keep pushing the cart.) If the child expresses a wish to have one, the parent can say, “Oh, wouldn’t it be fun to have a whole bunch of them? How about a room full, or a house full? How about a sky full?” The cart keeps moving. Something else will no doubt catch the child’s attention and the game can start all over. If the child insists they actually want something, the parent can take out a handy little book containing the child’s Wish List, and dutifully record the wish. These wishes can be reviewed often to see which ones remain to be fulfilled on birthdays or other special occasions.
One doubting couple assured me I had not met their four-year-old, if I thought such a thing would work. Before the next day’s session they took the child to a store they knew had just such a display of balloons. They returned the next day to report. Their daughter had cried, “Balloon!” just as expected. The mother responded by saying yes, they were pretty. Then she said oh, wouldn’t it be fun to have a whole bunch, etc. The little girl
agreed then said, “I wanted you to see them.” The mother thanked the child for showing her the balloons. The parents learned that their child was not as demanding as they had thought, and they all enjoyed their shopping experience with no tantrums.
I wish for all children and their parents a happy and peaceful new year, filled with excitement and loving moments.
Loving God, help us to be mindful of the “least” among us. Help us to value every moment we spend with each other. Help us to notice the parents who struggle, and the children who are hurting and sad. May we take every opportunity to support them and offer our love even as you have loved us. Grant us peace on earth and in each of our homes. We love you, God. We appreciate all the loving moments that you have given us. Amen
Carole Anne Sarah
5910 Cedar Springs Road
Dallas, TX 75235
Toll Free: 800-501-HOPE (4673)