ALL HALLOW’S EVE
ALL SAINTS’ EVE
Scripture: Matthew 17:5-7
While Peter was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.”
Thought for the Day: I don’t know if you have seen them or not, but there are some pictures on the internet that were taken of unsuspecting visitors inside haunted houses. These individuals had their picture taken at just the right moment (CLICK HERE to see some of them). They are hilarious, but what makes them so funny is the fact that they are someone else. Personally, I tend to shy away from places and settings that are created to intentionally scare the bejabbers out of me. One of the common phrases in scripture is, “Fear not!” or “Do not be afraid!” The convictions of my faith echo those words, yet it doesn’t mean I’m immune from fear. There is much that causes sleepless nights, anxious thoughts and that occasional desire to turn and run. This is true of most any human being, but there is some basic common sense that can reduce the encounters we have with scary stuff. For example, don’t go to a Haunted House. More importantly, the communities into which we place ourselves and the atmosphere of those communities greatly impacts our anxiety level. Placing ourselves among those who have a “fear not” attitude because of their relationship with God gives us a community who will share the burdens and concerns that are at the root of fear.
Prayer: When fear makes its way into my life, Lord, be present to me… and if possible, give me a body of faithful folks whose presence will assuage the impact of that fear. Amen.
DON’T MISS THIS SUNDAY
All Saints’ Sunday
Scripture: Acts 26:10
And that is what I did in Jerusalem; with authority received from the chief priests, I not only locked up many of the saints in prison, but I also cast my vote against them when they were being condemned to death.
Thought for the Day: Paul recognized his brutal treatment of the early Jesus followers. It had to have been painful for Paul to speak of them as “the saints”, the beautiful examples of faithfulness and devotion that he dismissed because he felt threatened by them. How many saints throughout Christian history have met ill-treatment, hate, persecution or even death because powers that be were threatened by the genuine power of love? You would think that no one would feel intimidated by a heart-felt expression that seeks healing, redemption and peace. Yet throughout the years, love has confronted the powers and principalities that do not have the best interest of others in mind. Paul was one of those who was confronted by that love, knocked to the ground, overwhelmed by the contradiction of it all, and then slowly started down the path that would lead to the transformative mercy and kindness of Jesus.
Prayer: Help me, Lord, to treat each person with love and kindness as I never know when I am meeting one of your saints. Amen.
DON’T MISS THIS SUNDAY
All Saints’ Sunday
Scripture: Hebrews 6:19-20
We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
Thought for the Day: The author of Hebrews, prior to this interesting image of hope, strongly encourages his readers to seize the hope set before them. As is often said, hope is not wishful thinking or a naive attitude. Norman Cousins suggested that the “capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life. It provides human beings with a sense of destination and the energy to get started.” From my limited experience, there is a powerful probability when people glimpse their desired destination, and with that glimpse, find a holy energy kickstarting their forward movement. It’s as if God is working on both sides — luring us from the standpoint of the destination while nudging us from the point of origin.
Prayer: Hope! I need this gift in my life, Lord. When the voices around me are discouraging and the obstacles appear overwhelming, I need to see as you see…or at least, trust you enough to find a way forward. Amen.
Noon and 6:30pm
Scripture: Ephesians 1:8b-10
With all wisdom and insight God has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
Thought for the Day: God has a plan. I like the idea that God has a plan, yet at the same time, I don’t believe it is a plan where every detail is already written in the books. Like most of our plans, we must work within the framework of freewill, unexpected events, and the ‘X’ factors that just appear. At the same time, having a goal to which you are working allows for the frivolous and ridiculous to be set aside. Pushing forward without foolish distractions is difficult, but necessary. For God, the level of patience and perseverance is extraordinary… yet God is working with those of us who are often tossing out foolish distractions in the path to Kingdom creation. The Good News in all of this is found in a simple word, “all”. God’s plan and final goal is to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Among those things (the full collection of all existence) are those of us who might have tossed a few ridiculous and selfish obstacles in front of the divine objective. Grace is such a marvelous thing!
Prayer: With your patience and perseverance, Lord, you are about the work of including all of us – all things – in your final expression of love. Thank you for including me among all things. Amen.
Continuing Our Study
The Book of Revelation
Noon & 6:30pm
Scripture: Mark 6:12
So the disciples went out and proclaimed that all should repent.
Thought for the Day: It was Leo Tolstoy who suggested that people will often think and dream of changing the world, but rarely will any of these people consider changing themselves. Can I make a confession? There are a number of things about myself that I am not entirely thrilled about, yet attempting to ignore or bury them seems oddly preferable to actually doing anything substantial that might actually bring change. The disciples went out and proclaimed a message of repentance, of turning more fully to God. I’m sure for many of them it was easier to announce repentance than to actually make the turn in their own lives. Today, think of one small area in your own life where even a slight spiritual pivot might better position you to see, experience and follow the ways of God.
Prayer: It seems easier to put it off indefinitely, but it is probably time that I make some modifications in the direction I am going. Gently nudge me, Gracious Lord. But if you so judge it necessary, I am ok with a little more force. Amen.
Scripture: 1st Corinthians 12:12-14
For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many.
Thought for the Day: I love our denomination, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). This weekend, Cypress Creek Christian Church is hosting the Regional Gathering of all the Disciples of Christ churches in Texas and New Mexico. If you join us for all or even part of the Assembly, you will discover the wonderful diversity of our denomination. Back in 1985, I attended my first General Assembly (United States and Canada) where I saw the wonderful diverse beauty of our church, not only in race, but in theology and spirituality. I heard things during that Assembly that stretched me. There were opinions offered that I found troubling, but would later come to understand and appreciate. Since then, the Assemblies have been a chance to expand my divine-window, and to see more of the diverse beauty of God. If you are not currently registered, I invite you to join us for worship on Saturday at 7pm and Sunday at 4pm. You don’t need to register for worship. Come and have expanded the window through which you glimpse God.
Prayer: O God whose spirit animates and empowers the varied members of the church, we pray that you will broaden our vision by which we see you. Amen.
Scripture: Luke 15:29-30
But the older brother answered his father, “Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!”
Thought for the Day: Hard work without recognition is not an easy pill to swallow. In most situations, the frustration we might feel has little to do with our need for recognition and praise. The issue is that we want to know that our time, a precious commodity for any human being, is valued. Whether it is your job or your volunteer time, there will be days (weeks or even months) when you will receive absolutely no positive accolades whatsoever. For me, prayer is a helpful tool as God reminds me of how I am a precious and valued part of God’s creation despite what the world might say or not say.
Prayer: Lord, tell me one more time how I am one of your beloved and cherished souls. Amen.
Scripture: Colossians 3:15-16
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.
Thought for the Day: While visiting my grandparents on vacation years ago, I remember walking into the kitchen early in the morning (well not too early) and finding my grandmother humming a tune as she moved from one project to another with surprising agility for a woman her age. Breakfast was coming together for us late risers, freshly picked items from the garden were being cleaned and prepared, a pot of something was cooking on the stove, and some vegetables were being made ready for canning. She greeted me with joy, taking a moment for a quick hug, as she went to get an item from the cupboard. Some people would have used words like upbeat, happy, cheerful or peppy to describe her. Those all fit, but I really believe I was witnessing a spirit of gratitude. Her life was a genuine expression of thankfulness. Who do you know whose life is beautiful gratitude every single day?
Prayer: You have provided me a plethora of amazing experiences to motivate my gratitude, O Loving Lord, and I only hope that others are able to see just how thankful I am. Amen.
as we host
The Regional Assembly
Scripture: Revelation 1:1-2
The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place; he made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.
Thought for the Day: The opening words of the Book of Revelation speak of “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” The word revelation, in the original Greek of the New Testament, is apokalupsis. It is where we get our word apocalypse, though I’m guessing that most people would not associate of the idea of revealing with an apocalypse. But the original meaning of apocalypse had nothing to do with destruction or ‘the end’ as we tend to define it in today’s world. Instead, it meant to ‘make visible’ or ‘to make known what wasn’t previously known’. The problem is that our modern English definition of apocalypse has been imposed upon that ancient world and totally distorted the original intent of the book. If you are looking for an apocalypse (a final destruction), you will probably find it. If you are looking for God to disclose something not previously seen, you might just find something you had not previously seen.
Prayer: I wish for your holy apocalypse, Lord, a disclosure of what I had not previously been able to see. Amen.