Ah, you who join house to house, who add field to field, until there is room for no one but you, and you are left to live alone in the midst of the land! The Lord of hosts has sworn in my hearing: Surely many houses shall be desolate, large and beautiful houses, without inhabitant.
1 Corinthians 12:13
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.
Words of Grace For Today
Those who greedily gather more and more for themselves, though they have many houses, even if the are physically in one of those houses, that house is desolate and uninhabited; for it takes a person of gratitude and generosity to inhabit even a small house, and it takes yet more grace, gratitude and generosity to inhabit a large house, yet alone a mansion.
Row after row of BIG BOX HOUSES line the new subdivisions. Families move in and the houses are left without inhabitants.
To be a person … a person at all and more-so a person in God’s Kingdom … one needs to rely on the Holy Spirit gifts given at baptism …
One needs to drink the Holy Spirit and become one of the saints connected with the other saints through every generation …
working with the gifts the Holy Spirit gives you to build up the people of God
and as the Spirit makes one able, to call upon the Lord in humble confession and profound gratitude for the forgiveness given, the new life received, and the Grace enabled in one’s heart, mind and strength.
There is no person who is not offered these gifts from the Spirit of God, all Greeks, Jews, Gentiles, Free and Slave (to the powers that be), of whatever gender or preference of drink or joy, whatever generation from whatever family. All are equal. All receive precious gifts. All can accept them with gratitude and live to build up instead of tear down the people of God.
From the gift of true soul-peace we gain the ability to generate external peace for those around us.
We pray, may our living spaces (some of us have no home) be inhabited with God’s people of Grace.
Balaam replied to the servants of Balak, ‘Although Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not go beyond the command of the Lord my God, to do less or more.’
2 Corinthians 2:17
For we are not peddlers of God’s word like so many; but in Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.
Words of Grace For Today
Human history is fouled with people using God’s name as a commodity, peddling it for sale, no matter the consequences. Or using it as a hammer to shame, condemn and control others. Or as a means to power.
The world today is built on globalized capitalism. Poor people living in conditions no human should have to endure, put their labour (time and energy and life-force) into the hands of wealthy multinational corporations to produce goods that rich people like us buy at great prices (for us), with the corporations taking more money from our purchase by far than the labourers receive for making the goods.
Everything can be bought and sold for a price. Leonard Cohen wrote that the Holy-Dove is bought and sold again. And while his poetry-words seem to refer to the process of Peace being sold and bought and sacrificed and sold and bought again, it is an image that applies to all that is good in life. Capitalism brings [in-]stability, false security, and irreverent comfort to a few people, while the great majority are kept in poverty, so as to be available for cheap labour, and so as not to consume what the few consider their zero-summed resources that support their comfortable, privileged lives.
It is not hard to write, read, or talk about the injustices in the economic systems of any age. It is dangerous to actually live so as to bring about a bit more justice, a little less injustice in one’s short time on earth.
Balaam speaks clearly to Balak (through his servants): Balaam is not for sale. God’s Word is not for sale. Balaam will not go against God’s Word, no matter the price paid by Balak. Telling power that it is corrupt and one does not and will not participate in that corruption is a good way to meet one’s maker more quickly, with a shorter sojourn on this earth than God may have made available to one otherwise.
Pastor Brian Rude, in El Salvador, reported that they are able to secure food for a few days. You think that your life is complicated a bit by Covid 19 restrictions. There most of the people do not have a secure food supply. They have no food supply, or water supply, or health care at all. Each day they need to venture out to find food, in the city, in the countryside. Most often water and food is there to be found, maybe … maybe enough to not die of starvation or illness from malnutrition. With Covid 19 if you venture out to secure food and water the police arrest you and place you in a quarantined area, which is more a prison than anything else, and the disease and death rates are astronomical. It’s a death sentence, slowly implemented.
What are your Covid 19 restrictions like? How are you coping? Do you have water and food enough, and the ability to secure more when you need them? Do you have the ability to worship as you choose? Do you have people who value you, whom you value, with whom you can speak freely, even if you cannot gather with them, cannot exchange hugs and handshakes, and cannot participate in food preparation and meals together?
Count your daily blessings!
Every challenge that we face (the real ones) is better met when one comes to each day thankful. A grateful heart and mind function better.
And as you meet others who are struggling, remember that you can be in much worse circumstances. The change can come as quickly as a day or less.
So be kind. You may be dependent on others’ kindness much sooner than you ever thought possible.
If you are one who cannot be kind, rather you are compelled to compete for as much as you can get and always demand more than you already have… if you are a greedy, covetous, dangerous, cruel person … well pray that you learn sooner than later, and before it is too late … that we are all in this together.
We are in this Covid 19 pandemic together. We are sojourning on earth as God’s people together.
What you do does come right around to you.
If you think that life is all zero-summed, then eventually that is all you will encounter, after you have ruined so many people it is impossible to count how many. And whether you get ‘enough’ of everyone else’s ‘share’ of what is available in goods, there will be no goodness in life left for you.
If you are kind and sacrificially generous with all that God has given into your care as a steward, then life will continue to be a blessing, and even if/when you do not have enough, or the vagaries of life catch you and you meet your Maker earlier than needed to have been: well every minute of your life will be an ever increasing overflowing abundance of gratitude and generosity. That is what life is about, that is what makes life good and worthwhile. The amount of goods you have and consume is not the measure of your worth, nor of the goodness of your life. Giving (and forgiving) to those in need is the measure of our worth before God.
One who stands in God’s presence, who with sincerity speaks God’s Word for others, will know first how to humbling fear and love God before anything else.
Pray that you are that person who is grateful and generous, and not the person who is greedy and covetous.
Covid 19 makes our choices to be blessed to be a blessing, OR
Face one of these up close without a wall and window between you
and you may give thanks for weeks.
Face the devil as we do each day
and there is cause to give thanks our whole life long.
Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness and of your praise all day long.
They worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.
Words of Grace For Today
If you have ever faced death, like in a car accident that should have killed you, and recovered from the shock, you may be familiar with that overwhelming feeling of joy and gratitude at being alive!
On a late winter day we set out to a study conference. Unknown to us … well wait for that. Climbing a hill to a right full speed bend in the highway down to the hotel and lake that we would continue by on our way … with no warning the minivan started to fishtail.
The opposing lane was suddenly filled with vehicles and a semi. I held just a touch of power and barely held the van from spinning out. The turn finished I caught the fishtailing and it was just one moment from ending … when we hit the bridge over the railroad track very far below the van lost it completely as the tail end slowly spun counter clockwise, crossing the opposing lane, missing the railing on the far side of the bridge by less than a foot.
It hit the hard snow bank a few feet high already facing backwards and did a full flip in the air down the steep embankment, rolled twice more and stopped against the tree line at the bottom.
We walked to the hotel and when the highway patrol arrived he stayed only as long as it took to ensure we were okay and to share the news that he had 75 calls due to the ice storm that covered roads with black ice for hundreds of miles. Our near death accident was nothing compared to many fatalities that morning.
The next day, sore and stiff, with cuts on our hands and faces, we progressed through the usual work day … until … about supper time … we both told the other how fully alive, engaged and joyful we were. The day before we were not depressed but we had great cause to see life dimly, for the congregation we served had served up a real sour douzer.
This joy lasted for weeks.
This kind of surviving is exactly what Jesus does for us each day, forgiving us and setting us loose, free in the world to share the Good News … of Jesus’ forgiveness for everyone!
We get to be the feet, hands and voice of Jesus freely dispensing forgiveness that brings new life to everyone.
Give praise and worship God each day, all day long, even as we work, play, and relax.
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’
Words of Grace For Today
If ever there were a time when loneliness and afflictions were shared by so many people, even those who are not caught alone by the Covid 19 restrictions!
So we pray: God turn to us/to me, be gracious to us/to me. We’ve waited years for someone to carry us to the living water and immerse us in it so that our body, mind, and soul could be healed. Now we know, we only need Jesus to speak a Word, and we will be made whole again.
We are, since our baptisms, the hands, feet, and voice of Christ, anointed to bring the living Word to those in need.
Stand up, be counted among the saints, and speak.
Today speak with the holy healing whispers of the wind as the Spirit inspires you.
So many people thirst for the water that will make them whole.
Today speak of the water that overflows our cups giving all more than enough to drink.
So many people hunger to hear the word that will make them whole.
Today speak simple words of Jesus’ love renewed yet again in us, for all people.
Today, be God’s grace for others. ‘Pay the rent on the air you breathe’ today by doing Grace.
The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures for ever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.
I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.
Words of Grace For Today
The work of God’s hands is us and all of creation around us.
How marvellous it is, too. I look outside my window, no matter the weather, and see the wonders that God created. In winter the cold clear air fills in between the space between the sky and then snow, broken by trees dormant, waiting; and between the trees the lake ice extends for square kilometres. In spring the emerging green pushes up between the dead brown grass and pushes out at the top of the canopy on top the woods, as the rains feed the thirsty land. Summer heat brings out the bugs and people to enjoy the warm air around the cool water of the lake, as breezes across the water refresh the air at night giving relief from the swelter for sleep, and the odd thunderstorm with lightning and thunder strike down the heat with cool sheets of wind driven rain. When fall comes the cool air returns ending the summer greening along with the bugs making work outside possible again as time melds slowly into the joints between what must be done to prepare and the thanks one has for all that has been … both those things enjoyed and those things to come in the freeze that’s a’coming, which one has prepared for.
Sachemo sang What a Wonderful World, seeing love in every smile and greeting, “How are you.” Israel Kamakawiwo’ole sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow, seeing the dreams come true that make life so gorgeous as trouble melts away like lemon drops. Leonard Cohen sang of love filling life and love lost borne repeatedly, and of the Alleluia we sing with our lives and loves, and of the Anthem of God’s Light reaching us through all the cracks in our lives. Gabriel played his Oboe to communicate God’s love and trust to a South American First Nations people hunted and enslaved, whom the church then condemned to genocide in order to buy peace in Europe.
God made creation beautiful.
Repeatedly we destroy it with greed, violence, and corruption.
Yet, God will complete the work God has begun through Jesus Christ, the redemption of all creation (including the most destructive animals, those greedy, violent, and corrupt 2-legged animals.)
In us, through the work of the Holy Spirit, God works to grow God’s Word in us, so that no matter what the weather of our times is (the political, environmental, global ‘weather’), for example the Covid 19 pandemic, we will reflect the wonders of creation in all we think, say and do.
No matter who the person is, with the right light, their photo will reflect the wonders of their creator.
It’s through our cracks that the Light of Christ shines into and back out of us, so we sing alleluia, what a wonderful world, and what promise there is over every rainbow.
Like love and joy lost, forgotten, and renewed our life-songs are played best in the key of H#, for Hope+ by the melancholy, mournful, hopeful oboe and bassoon, and at times heralded by the trumpet, trombone and tuba.
The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Words of Grace For Today
Conformity to the world’s standards is required of anyone who wishes to prosper in the manners and methods of the world. Those standards change some from one millennium to the next, though their similarities are greater than their differences.
Human pride, greed, and coveting remain the same. The temptation to create or be one’s own God remains the same. The pursuits of this world work consistently on a zero sum game assumption. That is every generation assumes that there are going to be only so much whatever for everyone to enjoy, so the purpose of life becomes to ensure one gets more than others … by taking it from others.
God looks at us all (in each generation), to see if there are any of us who are wise. Is there anyone who understands the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom, gracious generosity is the key to profound happiness, and giving, sacrificing, and sharing bring greater blessings than taking, competition, and hoarding for oneself.
A man insisted he be able to take all his wealth with him to heaven. He converted it all into gold and platinum. He was positive he’d won the competition that life is, he had more than anyone he knew. They buried him with enough gold and platinum to feed his whole country and all the neighbouring ones for a decade.
When he arrived St. Peter told him to leave the gold and platinum behind so he could be shown his room. He insisted he be able to bring it along. St. Peter laughed and let him pull the four carts that held just a small portion of it. Angels pushed the other 100 carts.
They stepped out onto the sidewalks made of platinum, and walked across the street of gold. Others stopped to gawk at the man hauling all those paving stones passed piles of it where the streets and sidewalks were being repaired.
The man insisted on pushing on, but as soon as he was out of sight of the others to save face, he asked St. Peter if he could leave it at the construction site they were passing. St. Pete nodded, ‘That’s why we took this longer route. Don’t worry though, everyone already knows about your paving stones. It’s time to learn somethings about God’s Kingdom. Are you ready to finally learn the basics?’
What paving stone foolishness do we each pursue daily?
But God is reflected even in the weeds of Creation
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil will not sojourn with you.
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.
Words of Grace For Today
God is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
God is merciful and gracious.
God delights in forgiving and receiving home the sinner.
God delights not in wickedness. Evil does not travel to stay temporarily with God.
Evil, and we are that when we sin, tend to run from God. We do not travel to stay with God even temporarily. We want to hide from God’s view, God’s judgment, and our shame.
God though stays with us, no matter where we go. Evil does not stay with God, because God forgives it and transforms it, by the sacrifice of Jesus and through the work of the Holy Spirit.
Evil in God’s presence is transformed so that the evil is eradicated and God’s good creation abides with God.
That is really good news. It’s exactly as if God stayed with us when we venture out to places with people we are not supposed to be near, and we spread Covid 19 and are silent about where we’ve been so others are infect unawares, until there is another outbreak with no known source.
Except God’s presence eradicates the virus from us and from everyone else that would have been infected. And all is well, not because we’ve done the right things, but because God works for us in all things.
Except God does not eradicate Covid 19 or any other disease, contaminant, or destructive organisms that we can encounter in the world. God is with us, and suffers with us. God gives us eternal life starting the day we are baptized, but God does not make life free of danger for us.
God does send the Holy Spirit to guide us, inspire us, and to light a fire (under us, mostly).
Therefore each day we can pray as the Holy Spirit moves us, for all the other saints struggling, and all others, so that God will also transform their lives to be lives of purpose reflecting Christ’s sacrifice to bring life to so many.
(where the cows ate for years, when this was a barn yard.)
Forgiveness is not needed for perfectly good people (they don’t exist!)
Forgiveness is needed for the rest of us, every last one of us!
But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Words of Grace For Today
Rulers and people seeking power have long since used condemnation and fear to control people, with marginal success to surprisingly good success.
God is different. God seeks our respect through forgiving us, being slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
One may (incorrectly) think that God works more on the carrot approach, and less on the rod approach. God goes in a considerably different direction, in fact in the opposite direction from both carrot and rod. Instead of motivating us to do the thing that God wants us to do, with either a reward (the carrot) or with threat of punishment (the rod) what God does requires that we take a step back from ‘trying to motivate’ others to do what we want them to do, and realize God approaches ‘motivating us’ to do what God wants completely differently.
God realizes that the matter of getting us to do what we were created to do is not at all getting us to recognized what we must do, then to choose to do it, and to follow through when the going gets tough.
God shows us with Jesus’ story that no human is capable on our own of recognizing, choosing or following through with what is right.
The problem is that we cannot do what is right, well enough, to make it right. When we fear condemnation and shame for failing, we do even worse things, fooling ourselves into thinking the good is something it is not, just so we can do it, or that we’ve done a good thing, when we’ve at best messed around with good just a bit too much to leave it good.
We need a permanent fix, a re-creation, a new start, total redemption, and total freedom … again and again and again and ….
God does not trifle with us. God inspires us through the work of the Holy Spirit in us to accomplish pieces of goodness, in spite of ourselves. Thank God or everything would be ruined by us!
Covid 19 is just another challenge that forces us to pause. It is a tremendous opportunity to see what we really are like when we cannot cover ourselves with consuming, owning, travelling …. You name it, we’ve used it to run from the reality of our lives.
Now, with much of that taken from us, we’re left to deal with more of the actual reality of our lives … as God’s creatures.
We can now as much as ever revere God, for God forgives us and sets us free from our sins to move into each new moment of time as God’s forgiven saints.
God equips us by Jesus’ example to forgive … ourselves, and to forgive others, freely, unconditionally, and repeatedly.
Thanks be to God, there is so much to do, so much forgiveness to do, especially for ourselves, our enemies, and the stranger who seeks refuge among us.
That’s why being kind is the beginning of every good day. If one is kind, it’s easier to move to forgiveness from kindness than any other attitude when forgiveness is required (and it always is or will be shortly.)
This photo somehow ended up in a folder it had no business being in.
Why? Don’t know.
Like us, when we are lost, though God claims us, we need to be put back online where we belong.
Being on track doesn’t make us God’s children, being God’s children gets us back on track, sometimes.
Moses said, “See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn from the way that I am commanding you today, to follow other gods that you have not known.”
Since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong has been done, and there is no partiality.
Words of Grace For Today
Blessing for obedience. Curse for disobedience. Payback for doing wrong. Serving in order to gain an inheritance.
All of this is religious language of coercion; a well organized chorus of controlling others.
It frames life as nothing more than doing what is right and being rewarded; or doing what is wrong and being punished. This is the thought of a two year old, dressed up to look like an adult’s thinking. It is the most common thought pattern applied in most every situation and from nearly all perspectives. It is still childish and falls short of the reality of life as God created us to live it. It is the perversion of the Devil that takes something profoundly good and turns it just a few degrees and lets it loose on us, until down the road we are light years away from the goal God has set for our life on earth: to give God glory in all we do, bringing abundant life to the poor, disadvantaged, and outcasts; and bringing a life of God’s meaning and worthy purpose to the wealthy, privileged and powerful.
Before we get too far along uncovering this devilish perversion of life’s meaning, let us affirm that there is a blessing and a curse in obedience or disobedience. Obeying God does bring blessings to others (rarely to ourselves), and disobeying brings curses to others ( most often to ourselves as well.)
The reality of God’s creation is that God rewards us with an inheritance as God’s own adopted children, and therefore we serve Christ. The direction of causation between our behaviour and God’s rewards correctly stated is simple. Because God acts, rewarding us with blessings, therefore we serve and obey.
The devilish perversion is to think and live as if we act either obeying and serving or disobeying then on the basis of our thoughts and actions God either rewards us with blessings or punishes us with curses.
It is a childish approach to life to think and live as if one’s actions determined God’s blessings and curses. On first blush we might well wish that our thoughts and actions had such influence on God’s response to us. An honest appraisal of human history and our own experiences lays bare the reality that we can never do enough things well enough to please God, or event o accomplish something profoundly good enough to actually FIX a problem the world faces. Every good thing we do is tainted by incompleteness and unintended disastrous consequences … and sinful motivations and results.
It does not matter how hard or diligently we try, or how much self -disciplined we apply to our attempts, one just has to read the honest words written by good thinkers to realize … every human attempt to FIX a problem is a failure. Self-discipline and self improvement is only a mad dash from one hot issue slightly tamed to the next hot issue, only to have a host of previously tames issues raise their hot little heads as major impediments to our living well.
The project of being good enough in life is a futile chasing of one’s tail to no good end, or worse to the destruction of one’s self and many others.
If our actions determined God’s response to us, there would be no hope for us at all! Thank God our actions do not determine God’s response to us!
An old pastor spoke up at a cigar smoke filled room with Scotch glasses set next to the second deck of cards: Looking back at my ministry I pray mostly that I have not harmed anyone.
Relatively young (in my 40’s) at the time I thought it was an odd prayer. Why not pray that the good one did would actually bear fruit in a cascading style through many generations?
Now I understand all too well. Life is really not about how much good we can accomplish, if one is (trying to be) a good and kind person. Doing Good is wholly dependent upon God working in and through us, so that we get good things done almost by accident (actually its by the Holy Spirit ‘accidentally’ getting good things out of us.) Not doing intentional harm to others is something that is much more in the realm of our possible control. The old pastor’s prayer though deals with the unintentional harm one can hardly avoid doing, and from which only God can save us and those whom we have offered ministry to and still harmed.
The true project of human life is simple: to Give God Glory, by
1. confessing one needs saving, cannot save oneself, and God has through Jesus’ sacrifice redeemed us and set us free to …
2. sacrifice what may be seen as ‘our‘ ‘rights’ and ‘possessions’, so that others will experience through us Christ’s redemption of them, and God’s love that holds the universe together.
The world thinks reality is: IF we x, THEN God y.
God’s reality is this:
BECAUSE God blesses us, THEREFORE we can offer ourselves as servants who joyfully obey God’s commandments, loving God with all our heart, mind and strength: particularly obeying Jesus’ command to love our neighbour as ourselves, and even our enemy.
There is great blessing in obeying God, it is that God gets more done through us for others. There is great curse in disobeying God, and it is that we have failed to recognize the blessing God has already given us.
The challenges of Covid 19 intensify the need for us to see reality clearly, to trust God’s Blessings, and to listen to creation groaning under and rebelling because of our disobedience to God’s commands to love and protect all of creation, as stewards which God has made us to be.
Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he the child I delight in? As often as I speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore I am deeply moved for him; I will surely have mercy on him, says the Lord.
So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.
Words of Grace For Today
Ephraim is in trouble often with God, for God speaks often against him.
The selfish son is in trouble, deeply with his father, for he’s taken his inheritance before his father is even close to the end of his life. Then he’s squandered the entire inheritance.
That sounds like it’s not far from our own stories, each of ours. We take what we can claim as ours and run, and get into trouble, with our fathers, with God, – with our mothers, siblings, extended families, the community we live in, the church … and with God all over again. There are a great number of variations to the story, and every single one of us can be described by one variation or another.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is – well first a few thoughts about God as father. The image of God as father in itself is a very healthy image, one to embrace with profound joy. There’s nothing quite like the goodness of a father directed at us, loving, forgiving, accepting and inspiring us to live even better than we thought we could.
The damage done by the image of God as father is not in the image itself. It is in the abuse of positions of power occupied by men for centuries. Every good thing can be perverted. This is no exception.
The problem comes when we toss the baby out with the dirty bath water.
The abuse needs to be identified, clearly named and condemned … and ended.
The problem comes when we stupidly think that the abuse of the image of God as father is somehow made better when we replace it with abuse of the image of God as mother.
The problems multiply astronomically when we think that naming men as the problem, while ignoring the same kind of abuse, perversions, and destruction is perpetrated by women. The flavours, smells, and theme of the abuse and perversions can sometimes be collated to the gender of the abuser, but it’s just superficial.
Point blank: men abuse women. AND women abuse men. AND men abuse men. AND women abuse women. AND … God knows this all. So should everyone of us.
AND all of it is evil, and needs to be stopped. ALL abuse when it runs without restraint ends up killing it’s victims (and often the perpetrators, too.) A person is just as dead if they are murdered by physical violence as when they are driven to despair with no escape except suicide.
ME-TOO is all wrong, in that it only deals with one flavour of abuse, and ignores the rest. It is perhaps more destructive in that it sets so many people up to think that abuse is dealt with … so that the rest of it can continue unabated, the victims abandoned, the deaths unnoticed and uncounted.
The bishop last year said that we (this synod) are just starting to recognize and work on the issues of women being treated equally.
I spoke up, as I was able: some of us have been working on that for more than three decades, with everything we are, as men making sure the women in our lives get every opportunity possible and a fair deal (as much as possible.) It’s taken great sacrifice, and we’ve been sidelined often as irrelevant, our contributions raising children with great skill, grace and success belittled, and our words of giving attention to all issues of abuse ridiculed.
The challenge now is to acknowledge all kinds of abuse, by men and women, of men and women. To look at the root of it all: the need to scapegoat others as a means to advancing ourselves in life.
Back to the passages that speak profoundly of God’s unconditional acceptance of sinful sons. The translation to God’s unconditional acceptance of daughters needs be imagined, added to these stories. The stories though are powerful.
Who is your God? Not the God you say you believe in, but the God that your thoughts, words and actions belie you trust and believe in! Who is the God you live your life in response to?
Is your life a reflection of God, the universally, unconditionally accepting and forgiving father who, of a wayward son, says “I will surely have mercy on him!”
Does your life reflect the God who is portrayed in Jesus’ story as the prodigal father, who seeing his self-destructive, wasteful, wanton son approach, “filled with compassion runs and put his arms around him and kisses him?”
How marvellous it is to read these passages and know that God welcomes us, even when we have rebelled and wasted our lives and those around us!
The challenge is now:
Are we ready to be that welcoming father for all those people who have walked away from Grace and Goodness, and now desperately need a morsel of what we have in order to survive? Can we imagine being that overjoyed in welcoming back our wayward sons, daughters, parents, extended family, community members, church members, others known and strangers, even refugees and immigrants … and even those of other faiths or of no faith at all?
As we are able to do that, en-mass, then abuse, perversions and destruction of people will finally be dealt with in a manner so that they can be ended.
And all of us will be able to joyously embrace images of God as father, as mother, as Jesus the man, and as the Holy Spirit, wind, breath, and fire – lighting one under us to get on with the work of God’s Kingdom here and now.
Ah, what makes that all possible is that our God is a God of compassion and mercy, who rushes to greet us when we return to him!