Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 24

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Light

The Light that Guides Us on Our Way

The Light that Gives Life!

To All.

Psalm 98:3

He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

Mark 4:21

He said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand?

Words of Grace For Today

God’s victory!

The imagination runs wild, how the celebration would fill the universe, and our lives from bottom to top.

God’s victory … doesn’t look quite like we imagine. It’s the look of a double victory: first that justice is done, and truth wins out! Our enemies no longer can do us harm.

The second part of the double victory is that our enemies are forgiven, redeemed, and set free to reflect God’s Grace to all people.

This is the Light of Christ.

We do not put a lamp under a bushel, especially not in the dark evenings and mornings of winter as we approach Advent.

Neither is God going to put the Light of Christ, nor the fragile vessels that reflect it to the world, under a bushel, especially not in the dark days of … winter, or politicians who want to Gaslight the whole world by not acting responsibly in the face of Covid 19, or people drowning in other’s lies.

Christ’s Light is good, always, but especially in the dark days like today.

Pray.

Pray that God’s double victory comes soon to our enemies, for the light of life is almost extinguished in the dark of winter.

Pray.

Pray that God places the Light of Christ high over us, that all may see God’s justice, truth, and unconditional love.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 23

Monday, November 23, 2020

God, High and Mighty, Creator of All

Comes to Be With Us

And Teaches Us Many Things

Isaiah 57:15

For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Mark 6:34

As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

Words of Grace For Today

The world values people that are high and mighty.

God values the contrite and humble. Jesus comes to redeem the world: as a physician comes to heal not the healthy, but those who are ill, Jesus comes to be with sinners, those the world does not value.

Some describe God’s attitude towards people, and towards us, as a preferential option for the poor.

However we describe God’s attitude to us, it is clear that while we favour power, might, wealth, and fame; God favours the outcasts, the marginalized, and the poor.

God works through the power of love, not the power of might, through the power of self sacrifice, not the power of sacrificing others. Instead of asking us to do what needs to be done, God rescues us from what binds us to sin, and enables us to do God’s work in this world for Christ.

The maker of the universe finds us so valuable, that God comes to be with us.

The rest is the old, old story, of Jesus and his love, already present at the beginning of the universe.

What a life God gives us, which through steps and missteps we find filled with love and renewal.

Christ the King Sunday, Eternity Sunday, God’s Day of Judgment, and … surprise …

I listened to two sermons. Both excellent …

except they did not proclaim the Gospel when it was right there to be proclaimed,

so instead of being adversely effected by this let down, I decided to provide an outline or draft for a sermon worth preaching and hearing.

What is missing is the colour of the sunset and sunrise, the stories of heart and strength, the accounts of the saints in light, which guide us to embrace God’s Grace. Maybe I’ll find time to insert some.

The Gospel for this day: Matthew 35: 31-46

‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’

We might say: the End of Time, loved ones’ deaths or our judgment before Christ, or even the end of the church year provides clarification of what is truly important. Yet clarity is rarely the result of grief.

Rather grief, as the loss of one’s child (our losses that reflect God’s loss of Jesus) rips the innards of our lives right down to the foundation and leaves us totally discombobulated. Meaning and language and words do not organize. Chaos overtakes any order we used to have in our lives.

Clarity at the end of time, for loved ones, for ourselves, is not guaranteed. Rather it is rare.

Clarity about our judgment day reflected in the passage for today’s Gospel reveals that everyone (not denying their actions – a rather foolish attempt it would be before God)… everyone (all sheep and all goats) is surprised … because they did not see Jesus … in the outcasts, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, or in the imprisoned.

Any sane person is going to be frightened at the thought of facing Christ on our judgment day. Goats to the left into eternal perdition with the devil, and Sheep to the right into eternal life with Jesus.

And how is the determination made? It is determined by what we have done for the least of God’s people (all people.) Did we care for the outcasts, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, or the imprisoned?

Whether we are motivated to do these things by love, by passionate compassion, or by anything else, matters not one iota!

On the simplistic reading of the passage, our eternal path is determined by what we have done or not done for the least of God’s people!

Still, in this profoundly misguided, disturbing, and Gospel-less reading of this passage of scripture, we MUST DO what is right, OR we end up with the goats on the left.

If that is the ultimate determination for all of us, we are all lost into perdition, for by our own confession as faithful Lutherans, we confess that we are all bound to sin (and cannot by our own do what is right – including, by whatever means, care for the outcasts, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, or in the imprisoned. Therefore we are all lost into perdition – and great consternation or grand denial can be our only response to this passage. Surprise! When we thought we might get into heaven because we did a few things right, even profoundly right, instead we ALL get the goats path to perdition! That’s a hell of a surprise!

Thankfully our confession of faith is simpler and far more profound: We not only confess that we are all damned sinners. We also confess that we are God-made saints. That is we also confess that we are all saved (sorted out to be with the sheep) only by Faith through Grace (God’s gifts us faith!) and NOT by our works (by what we have done or do or will do!)

So how can we possibly read and respond to this passage, given our simple confession of faith: Everything relies on God’s Grace?

If left to our own deeds, we are all sorted with the goats. We all do not care for all the least of God’s people. Even if we think we did what God requires of us (whenever we saw Jesus, but we rarely saw Jesus at all), and even if we can throw evidence at the wall of judgment, nothing will stick, because we have already failed so many times in so many ways that nothing can make up for our wholesale sins. We all have failed, do fail and will always fail to see Jesus where Jesus surprises us with his presence!

Doch! We confess we are not left to be judged by our own deeds. Rather, Surprise! Jesus places his record in place of ours as we are judged. Therefore we will not know when we cared for the outcasts, provided for the poor, gave homes to the homeless, fed the hungry, gave clean water and drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, nursed the sick, or visited the imprisoned.

We will be sorted with the sheep, not because of what we have done or not done. We are sorted with the sheep because of how Jesus lived, and because Jesus gives us his record in place of ours!

It’s all grace! It’s all gift! Our judgment does not depend one iota on us and what we think, say, or do.

Instead it depends only on God, and God is sure, steadfast in unconditional love forever!

So, we are sorted with the sheep! Phew! We dodged an eternal bullet of damnation there!

So back to our cozy, mixed up, sinful lives?! Right! We are getting away with whatever we do, good and bad, heaven and hell that we create for others, great ambitions to do right and little follow through. Nothing really matters in the end or even now! Right!? So let us celebrate, eat, drink, and be merry in the days God gives us. Right!?

Doch!

Once Jesus’ record is in place of our own, we are free.

And what are we free from? We are free from our sins strangling us, binding us, keeping us from recognizing we live not to provide for ourselves, but as Christ provides for us.

What are we free for:

We are free to recognize others’ needs, endless as they are. Empowered by Christ’s example of forgiveness for us and the renewed life we receive daily from Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can provide for others. We GET to care for the outcasts, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, or in the imprisoned.

Gosh golly gee, for sure that’s passionate compassion. That is living to provide justice for all. That’s being transformed to embody Christ in this world.

As the wretched sinners that we are, we certainly are surprised that God gets us to do such good things!

Of course, it is not something we can do ourselves, or choose for ourselves. We cannot choose to be passionately compassionate, or live for justice, or be Christ embodied in the world! We simply cannot on our own choose to do what God requires of us in order that we can be saved at the day of our judgment.

Surprise! It is only possible because of God’s Grace for us!

Now that’s Good News, because anything that depends on us is wholly unreliable.

Doch, what relies solely on God is as sound as the music of the spheres, the music of the strings that make up the universe. It is as sound as God, our rock and salvation, the Creator, all powerful. So sure is our salvation and the gifts that enables us for, in spite of being sinners, we are also simultaneously God-made saints.

We get to reflect Christ’s Light in all our days!

That is the clarity that we receive and can reflect to others. It comes rarely as we face the end of times. More often it comes as a complete surprise, in the ordinary, mundane suffering and challenges of life. During Covid 19 there are more than enough of those to go around, and hit us from behind again in the second wave.

Even when it hits us again and again, what matters is the surprise of what Christ does for us, and by Grace through us for others.

What Christ does for us and through us is the only and the everything that is important. What Christ does determines our judgment day, and all of every day in all the universe! Now that is sweet music to our ears

as we sing, Take my life that I may be consecrated Lord to thee!

A Royal View of the Life Christ Takes

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 22

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Given this Beauty,

To Make Our Own God Above All Others

OR

To Accept the Mystery of God’s Work In All People, In All Religions,

Including that People Worship Differently, Apparently Different Gods,

For which do you think God created the universe?

Isaiah 43:11

I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no saviour.

Ephesians 4:5-6

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Words of Grace For Today

Who are we, if we are true to the confession of our faith, to be the ones to denigrate God’s work in other people, even when that work shows itself as faith different from ours.

Who are we to determine who God is?

We are totally incapable of such a determination!

Wars based on differences of religion are foolish. In truth they are always about other things, using religion as a motivator to bring people to fight and justify their evil actions as right.

The same is true for countless conflicts between peoples, down to battles between spouses and between siblings.

God is God.

We hold that we are saved from our sins by Grace alone, clearly shown to us through the life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

Our faith, faithfully lived, provides for a wonderful life, for us and for all who embrace this faith. Many who say they embrace this faith, actually misuse it, instead of living it faithfully. They misuse it for their own means to cruel ends. Such is the history of humans since they imagined that God existed.

Our faith provides that God also forgives those who misuse faith. Our faith provides us the courage to confess we all misuse faith. Such is the history of humans since we imagined that God existed.

Our Lord, One Lord, Three-In-One, provides for life abundant … not in material excesses, but in blessings in all circumstances. So we hold on faithfully to the gifts of the One Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and the one hope of our calling: one God, who is above all and through all and in all.

That makes for a marvellous life.

Our faith gives us the strength and resilience to face whatever evil comes our way, whatever challenges come our way, whatever abuse of faith is exercised around us or through us.

Covid 19 is only one of many challenges we face, always God walking with us.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 21

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Given this Beauty,

To Make Our Way with Hate and Vengeance and Injustice

OR

To Abide in God’s Blessings and Love, Shared With All People,

For which do you think God created the universe?

Psalm 63:4

So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

1 John 4:16

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

Words of Grace For Today

There is a lot of excrement that people produce from their hearts, minds and strength, which has nothing to do with the digestive system.

Trying to make one’s way through it each day is a huge challenge.

We can see that challenge as the evil created by others, which impedes our progress in life, so that we respond with hate and vengeance and injustice in our futile efforts to make right what is wrong.

Or we can see the challenge as a dance, in which God enables us to participate, with the goal not to put it all right. Rather we participate in the dance of life each day in such a way as to reflect God’s love for those excrement makers, God’s unconditional love for them … and for us.

We know that dancing, especially into old age (80’s and 90’s), provides tremendous benefits to one’s body and one’s mind … and to the love one has for one’s gracious partner, who can move in response to the music, the words if there are any, and to the ‘traffic conditions’ on the dance floor.

Viewing life as a dance around the Devil’s Work, the excrement abundant, brings great benefit to one’s heart, mind, and strength. Thus we are able to bless God, God’s people, and all creation, and to lift up one’s hands in thanks, joy, and hope as we call on God’s name, in whom we abide, and who abides always in us.

We are not ever alone.

No matter the lies told about us. No matter the false convictions against us. No matter the Gaslighting directed against us. No matter the Devil’s attacks on us in all guises.

No matter the isolation and distance required by sensible Covid 19 restrictions, we are not ever alone.

God walks with us each hour of every day.

Fearing and loving God, how then would we choose to live: filled with hate,

OR

filled with love?

How do you choose again this day?

If you choose to fear and love God, then reach out to others, and share God’s love, unconditionally.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 20

Friday, November 20, 2020

Given this Beauty,

To Claim to be Self-made

OR

to Worship God as the Giver of Everything,

For which do you think God created the universe?

Daniel 2:21

He changes times and seasons, deposes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.

Revelation 15:3-4

They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: ‘Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, King of the nations! Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your judgments have been revealed.’

Words of Grace For Today

While it is so easy to proceed through life under the illusion that one has made one’s own success, or to accept that one should have and failed by not making one’s own success; this is the curse of persistent evil from generation to generation. We learn that one must work hard. The modern myth is that everyone is equal and has equal opportunity; thus those that are wealthy, powerful, and famous have done something to make it so for themselves. And everyone else has failed to live life the way it should be lived.

God gives us all sorts of signs, messages, and roadblocks in life to help us see that God alone determines who the powerful are, and which powerful people fall. God alone gives knowledge and wisdom to whom he chooses – though it is not the self-help book kind of pull yourself up and make something of yourself. God alone changes times and seasons

(though one has to wonder if Daylight Savings Time is not the work of the devil to disrupt our lives on such a fundamental basis – all so that the wealthy can become wealthier, at the expense of the safety and sanity of the populous.)

God alone is pure holy. God alone judges the nations. God alone is just and true, always.

Wealth, power, and fame may seem to be attractive, something to strive for, something to covet. Who would not wish that life be at least a bit, if not considerably more comfortable, secure, controlled, and longer. This is not, though, what God created us for.

God created us to worship and praise God, in all we say, do and hope for. God makes it possible for us wretched sinners to do this, by Grace alone, through Jesus’ sacrifice to redeem us and free us from our sins.

So what will you do this day?

Will you strive to make your own way in life? And take the credit for your success … or for your failure to become wealthy, powerful, and/or famous?

Or will you give God thanks and praise for all the life, the gifts, and the wisdom that God pours out on you each day?

The sinner in us will certainly strive to make itself.

The child of God, saint by God’s Grace, will recognize the giver of everything

with a grateful heart

and with a voice, with hands, and with feet that reflect Christ’ Grace to everyone.

We are simultaneous saint and sinner, all the time, everyone of us. We can but beg for God’s mercy, grace and love.

What a beautiful life!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 19

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Given this Beauty,

To be Fearless in All Things or to Fear and Love God at All Times,

For which do you think God created the universe?

Psalm 34:9

O fear the Lord, you his holy ones, for those who fear him have no want.

Luke 14:17

At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, “Come; for everything is ready now.”

Words of Grace For Today

To Fear God; this is the ancient, constant beginning of awareness of God. We lived on the plains, lived in caves, hunted for food, were hunted as food. Fear kept us alive. We could not understand many things of the world around us. We came to know that God created us, that God who created us was an awesome power, more fearful than the animals that hunted us for food. It took generations for us to begin to understand that God loved us, and that fear alone was inadequate a response to God’s love. We needed to fear and love God.

To fear and love God; this is the beginning and the end of all our lives and our purpose in creation.

While food does not come our way freely so that we must work constantly in order to have food to survive, God provides the food of life that nourishes us beyond the basic physical needs. For God created us hungry for truth, order, understanding, community, and love.

God sets the table for us again and again, to come and eat so that we can know truth, see and maintain order and gain a fuller understanding of the universe and our places in it. God feeds us so that we can dance our way through the challenges of community, and so that we can love as God loves us, freely and unconditionally.

Fear drives us. Love draws us. Together they help us sustain life for ourselves and those with us, and hopefully for all people.

How will you live this day, and all the days you have on earth?

Will you be fearless in the face of all challenges, diving headfirst into Evil’s temptations to be your own godlet?

Or will you fear and love God, the God who created the universe, and loves you and all people, and all creation, unconditionally?

If we fear and love God we can do no other than commit ourselves to living out the gifts God gives us, by promising:
to live among God’s faithful people,
to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper,
to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,
to serve all people, following the example of Jesus,
and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 18

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Given this Beauty,

To be Ruled by God or by Humans,

For which do you think God created the universe?

For which do you think God created our hearts?

Isaiah 26:13

O Lord our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but we acknowledge your name alone.

Acts 5:29

Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority.’

Words of Grace For Today

Human history is filled with cruel rulers, greedy despots, and evil dictators.

Trump is only one of many alive and ‘ruling’ today.

How is it that so close to half of the 140 million people who voted in the States, voted for Trump?

What comes out of his mouth has been and is still hardly anything that is true, yet millions of people accept it as true.

If you doubt that they actually think it’s true, one only needs to hear about people in the Trump supporters’ Dakotas dying in the ICU from Covid 19, who refuse to accept that the pandemic is real. Instead they insist it is just a hoax. They refuse to acknowledge they are dying. They refuse to speak with their families. And they die, alone, still believing Trump’s lies.

How can this be?

We know that cognitive reality therapy works, works well, works fast. That is, if a person wants to believe (based on what they have already accepted as true), constant repetition of an alternate set of ‘reality statements’ will bring that person to accept that alternate reality as true.

Media that spew propaganda, and advertising focused at individuals is a danger to the continuation of civilization; they attack people’s understanding of the ‘social contract’ that holds barbarism at bay.

Trump is right that there is a lot of ‘false news’ out there. It’s the news that reports what he says, as if it were true. Ever since networks and news stations were no longer required to present both (really all) sides to a story, stations have been bought up in huge conglomerates to present an alternate reality to millions upon millions of people, over and over and over and over again.

People buy into the thin wedge of Querdenken, an apt German word for it. It means crooked-thinking, or cross-thinking, or contrarian-thinking (contrary to reality.) Those who buy into the less extreme ‘alternate reality’ easily buy into the next potion, and the next, and on and on, until what they perceive as real is so far from real it is scary. Thus they vote for Trump, deny Covid 19, and ‘drink the bleach Kool-aide.’

Words matter. It matters what people hear, read, say, and write. Words shape our perception of reality. That is why leaders target truth. Truth is the first victim of war, and of any evil ruler. That is why evil rulers try to control media, arrest dissidents, and exterminate anyone who questions their authority and means of maintaining power.

In countries that supposedly allows free speech, the dangers are very real. Truth is constantly under attack. Chaos is created to cover the huge lies and evil that is allowed to flow under the guise of ‘free’ speech.

One needs to be vigilant, so as not to accept false words and eventually make them into one’s own pseudo-reality. The Kool-aide is sweetened so that at first sip, it seems delightful. Evil always is so.

One needs to hear God’s Word, often, clearly, well stated, graciously presented. Repeating a sermon from decades or centuries ago may be instructive. It cannot replace a sermon written for now, in this place and time. God’s Word proclaimed needs to be written so that the current names of challenges to truth and all other evil as well are provided, and God’s Gracious response to evil is also stated in our terms.

Who will we serve today: human authorities, or God? Simple question; from our answers flow radical consequences for everything we do each day: who we listen to, what we hear, how we hear it.

We cannot hide in a bubble of holy talk. We need to hear the Querdenkers out there as well, so that we understand what God’s Grace needs to respond to. That is we need to know to what we need to respond with Grace.

Human history is filled with cruel rulers, greedy despots, and evil dictators.

Before and above all of them is our God, who did, does and will always create, redeem and renew all of Creation.

So what are you up to today:

drinking human authorities’ Kool-aide

or being God’s Grace for all people?

Facing Covid 19: Words of Grace – 17 November 2020

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Given this Beauty,

Grace or Law,

For which do you think God created the universe?

Isaiah 48:9

For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, so that I may not cut you off.

2 Timothy 1:9

God saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.

Words of Grace For Today

It is a marvellous thing that God does for us, saving us and calling us (as God’s children) to a holy calling.

God does this for us.

We do not earn it, or deserve it. We can take no credit for it, not in the least.

With Jesus’ life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension we encounter God in a new way; yet God did not change to meet us in this new way, living the life of a human being. Indeed God’s Grace made so clear in Jesus’ story, was God’s Grace for us since the beginning of creation.

Why does God do this for us?

God does this because God chooses to do this; God defers God’s anger, restrains it toward us, so that we and the whole creation can sing God’s praise. Dead people do not sing. People who receive Grace have every reason to sing and sing at every opportunity!

Pastor Erin from Trinity Edmonton preached a sermon 15 November 2020 on Jesus’ parable of the talents given to three servants, and the condemnation of the servant who hid his talent in the ground, instead of investing it. Her point was that the traditional interpretation of this as a parable about ‘investing’ our gifts in order to return even more to God is wrong. Instead it is a parable about denouncing the greed and avarice of the owner that demands unfair use be made of millions given to the servants. The owner’s condemnation of the servant who ‘plants’ his owner’s talents in the ground is all wrong; in fact that servant rightly refused to participate in the avarice of using wealth against others to multiply one’s wealth. But Pastor Erin insisted, since the parable was told by Jesus long before capitalism it was not a parable against capitalism. She said the point of the parable was: we need to subvert systems that take advantage of poor people. We must tear down these systems and replace them with ways of being equitable and fair to all people.

Which is interesting if poorly stated. What’s missing is that as Lutherans we proclaim that we are saved by GRACE, and Grace alone. We are not save by what we do, or how we think rightly, or how we subvert unjust systems … nor MUST we do anything. Trouble is so many pastors are ready to ‘tell us’ what we ‘must do, think or believe.’

Worst of all, what Erin and others preach is simply another form of telling us what we must do in order to please Jesus and God and thereby earn God’s favour. It is a futile exercise in the ‘power’ of the office of ministry entrusted to a pastor. This is all Law, in the most destructive, subversive way: debunk traditional interpretation of scripture and then point to what Jesus ‘said’ with a parable (interpreted through one’s own eyes/history/perspective/drive/hates/self-chosen-life-purposes) we must do as Christians, so that people will make changes to the perverse and evil world order that we live under.

God, fortunately, does not wait for us to subvert unjust systems, as just as those actions may be; God acts first, not by overpowering or undercutting or destroying unjust systems and the people who support them and benefit from them. God acts by graciously forgiving, renewing and guiding us, all of us.

Therefore we are free to think differently about unjust systems, and in thinking differently we change how we interact with them; which forces the systems to change in response to us.

Jesus tells parables in such a way as to shock his listeners into imagining that something can be different, that God enables us to be different, that God enables us to be God’s Grace for all people. (That’s what any good sermon has at it’s core.)

God gives us ‘talents’ (i.e. gifts of a great variety) in an overabundant quantity and quality. Like money, we get opportunities to ‘invest’ our gifts in God’s kingdom. Our investing in God’s Kingdom (unlike investing in the unjust money systems humans always have had, which Jesus slams in his parable) reaps great increases in our gifts, of which we are only stewards All we are, have and can believe, think and do belongs to God. We ‘have’ it all only by Grace.

Wasting Grace by reducing life to what we must do, whether that is to believe the right things, to maintain a particular piety, or to work in whatever ways to subvert injustices, is a waste of the Grace given to us; it is like burying a great treasure in the ground, instead of using it to do God’s work in this world.

Why does God do anything for us? Why does God chose to exercise Grace for us?

Because God so chooses.

How can we respond?

By giving God thanks and praise!

Once we do that whole-heartedly, then God can use us in new ways to share God’s way of being, to share God’s Grace for everyone with everyone.

Why us? Because God so chooses! Despite our deserving only God’s anger.

Thanks be to God.

Now let us get on with giving God thanks and praise, by sharing Grace with all the people we meet … even if our pastor has forgotten the beginning and end of God’s Word is always GRACE.

Facing Covid 19: Words of Grace – November 16

Monday, November 16, 2020

Given this Beauty,

Love or Hate,

For which do you think God created the universe?

Leviticus 19:18

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbour as yourself: I am the Lord.

Hebrews 13:1-2

Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Words of Grace For Today

Vengeance or bearing grudges take one’s soul for a ride into Hell. When we hang on to the desire for vengeance and grudges it anchors us in that Hell, and everything else we try to do is … hopeless.

Mutual love, especially for one’s enemies, has the opposite effect on our souls and the world around us. It brings us into harmony with the Light of the universe, the Word that created it all, and the Spirit that guides us forward as God’s own children.

Vengeance and grudges are the way of the world, and as our days progress forward in time again in again it seems we have little choice but to respond to the many attempts to do us in with schemes and memories that will even the score, secure our futures, and set things right.

Of course, no such evening of the score, security for our futures, and setting things right ever happens through vengeance and grudges. Instead we give our enemies cause for more vengeance and grudges, setting us all up for a never ending cycle of destruction and retribution.

So choose: vengeance and grudges … that will never end.

Or, by God’s Grace enabling us,

choose: mutual love, so that love may surround not only yourself and your own, but all those you come in contact with, and all those who encounter you even remotely.

Having chosen mutual love, then it will be obvious, when a stranger arrives, one receives them with the love that God extends to oneself.

Perhaps … just perhaps … we will thus entertain angels unawares. More likely we will provide a lovingly welcome for everyone … I mean EVERYONE who comes our way.

What a life!

On our own there is no way we can even attempt something so grand. With the gifts of the Holy Spirit, God working in and through us, it’s a piece of cake!

Well, it’s one of the most challenging and difficult cakes of the universe, but then … what else are we going to do with the time we have?