Scripture: Acts 9:1-2
“Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.”
Thought for the Day: In the fantastic book What Would Jesus Deconstruct, author John Caputo explains that long before Christians were known as Christians, they were known simply as followers of “the Way.” He goes on to suggest that the way Christ represents is disturbing to the establishment, so much so that people like Saul are quite literally hunting followers of the Jesus way.
About 300 years before Christ, Lao Tze wrote Tao De Jing. “Tao” means “way” or “path,” and the philosophy includes the notion that there are many paths to God, none more correct than any other. It occurs to me that the mistake Saul made is one many of us (too many with shock-talk radio and TV shows) continue to make today — we assume our path is the only path, and discount or try to eliminate any idea that seems contrary to our tradition. But in truth, there are many spiritual paths. I liken this to many roads to God. In fact, we each have a path to follow, none more important, none “more correct” than any other, all leading to God.
For Christians, our Tao is Jesus. But I hope we also remember that God manifests itself in many wondrous ways, and that hopefully, we are all learning to follow our road to God in a manner that no longer requires us to invalidate the way of someone else.
Prayer: Glorious God of endless manifestations, grant me the focus I need to clearly follow the Tao of Christ, while also filling me with the compassion and love so present in Jesus. Through your eyes, Holy Lord, may I recognize and respect your presence in all those who seek you in their own, unique Way. Amen.
Scripture: Proverbs 6:20
“Good friend, follow your father’s good advice; don’t wander off from your mother’s teachings.”
Thought for the Day: It’s amazing how many “Wow!” moments you can have when reading through Proverbs. Because the wisdom offered in Proverbs is so ancient, I think we often take it for granted (and therefore end up ignoring the good advice). I remember many times when I was younger, thinking I knew better than my parents (or simply out of stubbornness), doing something they told me not to–only to think afterwards, “Man, I should have listened to my folks.” We can also read Proverbs (like much of The Bible) even more deeply to discern information about our relationship with God. If we substitute God for references to parents, we’ll read, “Good friend, follow God’s good advice; don’t wander off from God’s teachings.” God is our ultimate parent, after all. So by following our parent’s good advice, we also honor God.
Prayer: Holy God of Wisdom, help me remember the ancient Wisdom you taught your people so long ago. Help me see that every ounce of respect I pay to my parents, my elders, my contemporaries, is also respect I pay to you, O Lord. Amen.
Scripture: 1 Peter 3:8
“Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind.
Thought for the Day: Today is May Friendship Day, an ecumenical celebration. Even though there are many different styles of Christian worship, and many different interpretations of Christ’s life and teachings, it’s good to stop and remember that we are all one in Spirit. It would be even more useful if we could find more ways to put that belief into practice, by accepting each other as we are, perfect in the eyes of God. If my denomination worships in one way, and yours worships in another, arguing with each other about whose practice is “better,” or “more historic” is pointless (and beside the point). Whether we’re a Christian, a Jew, or a Muslim, we are still united in Spirit, and as Peter urges, we must still have sympathy and love for each other.
Prayer: Glorious God of equality, help us see your Spirit in all your creation, even as we worship you in different ways. Help us become united in your grace, by being examples of tenderness, mercy, humility and love. May you bless all of us with hearts so filled with your Spirit, that how we worship becomes less important than simply, worship. Amen.