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by Dr. Gary G. Kindley
Pastoral Counselor

[Wisdom (Sophia) speaks]: Now then, my children, listen to me; blessed are those who keep my ways. Listen to my instruction and be wise; do not disregard it. For those who find me find life and receive favor from God. Proverbs 8:32-33, 35

A Word of Hope
How appropriate that the day following Christmas Sunday is National Fruitcake Day! It is a day to remember—or to intentionally try to forget, depending upon your perspective—this celebrated holiday dessert. It seems that there are very few people who have lukewarm feelings about the sweet concoction. Some like it and some don’t. I fall in the latter category, and have “re-gifted” one or more of the colorful confections. I don’t tell the gift-giver that I have re-gifted their cake because I don’t think it is wise to do so. Primarily, I don’t want to offend them that theirs was not the “perfect gift.”

Of course, with the exception of God’s gifts to us, there are few “perfect gifts.” The closest we humans come to offering perfection is in giving ourselves away for the sake of love. The Cathedral’s mission work in Reynosa reflects the sacrificial love of Christian service. The unconditional love of a child for her/his parents and the parents’ love for their child is love perfected.

The Canadian novelist, Alden Nowlan, wrote: “The day children realize that all adults are imperfect, they become an adolescent; the day they forgive them, they become an adult; the day they forgive themselves, they become wise.”

Today’s scripture reading uplifts Wisdom. The Hebrew Bible names Sophia, the feminine expression of the Spirit of God, as the divine incarnation of Wisdom. She cries: “Listen. . .those who find me find life and God’s favor.” Rather than being angry at others, or discounting our sacred worth by self-loathing, we are wise when we forgive ourselves and others for human imperfection.

Especially at Christmas, when family differences are magnified and give rise to disagreements, the wisest thing that we can do is to live a life of grace. We cannot change others, and some folks obliviously serve fruitcake as a “main course.” We can choose to love ourselves and others and offer the wise and priceless gift of forgiveness.

God of mercy and compassion, may we express our love for you by loving others and offering forgiveness to those who seem least deserving of our mercy. Amen.

But if you remain silent, who can condemn you? If you hide your face, who can see you? Job 34.29

A Word of Hope
Have you finished your costume yet? Halloween is just two days away and the parties have already begun. Do you ever wonder why so many of us go to extremes every year to dress ourselves or our children as super heroes, grotesque movie monsters or even scarier politicians? The “Hallow” in “Halloween” means “holy”, so how does all this fuss relate to a Holy Evening? The first Hallow-e’en costume parties originated in the Middle Ages, but they were far from parties as we know the term.

European villagers were obsessed with possession in those dismal times of plagues and poverty. Since demonic influence and possession seemed to them to be the most logical and probable cause for all their woes, the idea came about that dressing up in frightening-looking outfits and making lots of noise was the best course to frighten the demons away. The practice was encouraged by the church leaders who also told them that All Hallow’s Eve, the evening before the venerated Feast of All Saints, was the night the spirits of evil were at their most active level, doing whatever was necessary to snatch people’s very souls and thoroughly defile the upcoming worship events. So, everyone put on their masks and rattled their chains to literally scare the devil out of each other and send the demons back to the pits where they belonged.

This is not likely the reason you or some of your friends might be wearing a costume today, but it is not surprising that at this time of year much of the LGBTQ community eagerly embraces the opportunity to play dress up on the streets. Few believe in possession, but most have been touched by oppression. Many are still forced to wear a mask in their work or worship places year round. On this night, wearing a mask is their own choice, not somebody else’s. They are freed from playground mentality rules such as “don’t ask, don’t tell” to noisily proclaim their real identities and maybe drive out a few of their own demons of guilt and shame. And if that is the case, maybe it’s a holy evening after all.

Help us to know that we are all hallow in your sight.

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Childcare is provided at all Sunday and Wednesday services.

9 & 11 a.m. – Sunday Worship
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