Smoke Dark Moon

Smoke Dark Moon

It’s been an interesting day, cutting wood in the relative warmth of -15

and being able to turn off the generator,

warm enough not to have to worry about warming it up to start it.

So I turned on the 3000W inverter to recharge the computer battery, and it started, then hiccuped and burbed and popped and smoked a bit.

I pulled the empty cords out, pulled the solar generator, cut power to the batteries for the camper, but I do not have a cut off for the battery to the inverter line.

It just fried itself.

Already done and stinky electric fire …

Under warranty, but it took a while to get the replacement.

Home, it was already dark, and cold at -28°C and getting colder faster than forecast so I expect -30° will be well met, since it’s already now -29° and forecast to drop four more degrees before morning, of course the low was expected to be -28° and it’s already -29°. So -33° maybe?

Here it just dropped to -30°. By morning here -34 or so?

As I was out to start the generator, the moon shone a sliver over the trees, and the smoke from the chimney gave a back stop to the darkness broken by the moon.

?What will come next

Slivers of delight, in small ways, the glory of the solitude, all quiet except the generator going to stay warm and circulate the warm air in here.

Smokey Moonlight

Sleep and dream of a world where truth is valued most.

How Cold?

How Cold Can It Get?

Sometimes words make a difference.

What words do you have, that you can use to inspire life abundant

in a camper warm in the cold, soaked in solitude, and connected to the beauty of life by a thin thread of grace and a camera, a chainsaw and a pile of wood, an old furnace, old metal doors, old tarps added to 1x4s and pallets, garbage wood and metal, propane and gasoline …

and hope?

Is your heart warm, your music lively and loud, your thoughts connected to the universe made by God’s grace?

At -25°C that would be helpful, if a bit elfish.

It warmed up suddenly, mostly the cool on the floor dissipated, why,

?

A wonderful feeling after being cold most of today.

Church: I arrive and within minutes need to take my boots off to rub my feet that are painfully cold still. 10 minutes and they warm up … so it goes all day.

Until now. Toasty warm.

Great music, to volume, the selection of Good Lovelies, Cohen, and Beethoven so far, more to come.

Find a corner that is kind

of friendly and cozy.

A woman at the till behind me, said I was nice, for letting her put her milk jug on the belt sooner than otherwise there would have been room.

I told her my wife doesn’t say I am nice.

She says I am kind ….

Kind of this and kind of that.

‘Cute’

Back out into the cold … it is soooo cold.

Some people heat their homes with gas,

the heat that is put into my face to burn the light out of me

is darkness in action,

the throngs that have used Gaslighting to beat me into submission, death or exile, whichever works first,

is darkness with a goal,

the lies that others live by and for and with,

is the darkness resident.

the pain that everyone suffers for their part in Gas creating,

Gaslighting me

is sadness given place where life belongs.

My little corner is cozy,

in the cold, it is always good enough, with lots of work, to be warm enough.

How cold can their hearts become, so that the weather hardly compares?

How cold can it get?

It can be as cold as it possibly can get, even with climate change,

where yesterday’s extremes are now today’s normals,

because

God’s Grace

and Love are more powerfully Light

than the darkness that people wish on me,

and the furnace

has plenty of wood,

so that

the kindness of my heart is enough,

by God’s Grace,

to hand on what was first given me

faith,

hope,

and

love.

How Cold will you let your life become, before you step into the light of Grace?

Post Sermon 10 Feb

This is what I would have preached:

In our first lesson this morning, Isaiah reports his encounter with God: I saw the Lord full of his glory.

At the Synod Study Conference the main presenter encouraged us to think about how our images of God inform our faith, our thinking, our hearts, and our actions as God’s people.

Isaiah provides an awesomely frightful, wonderful image of God, on a throne, robes filling every room of the temple. Heavenly winged creatures protect themselves from seeing God so that they can survive. No one can see God and survive; except by God’s special grace, like Moses on the mountain who returns pure white and here Isaiah.

The real question for most of us today is not if we will survive seeing God, it is rather Do we see God at all? Do we have an understanding of God that is large enough? Or do we believe in a small god who is controlled and limited by our own whims?

It is no coincident that a TV series writers named their all powerful character Q, or source (source of all sorts of trouble.)

Imagine that you are sitting here in worship one minute, and the next in the company of this all powerful being you are circling the planet Saturn able to see the colours and particles of its rings splash across your face. Before your heart completely shuts down at the awesomeness of it all, you are hurling through space faster than light, able to see everything in detail as you go, until you are beyond the known universe in the delta quadrant. Then in an instant you are back, watching earth form and evolve, seeing every detail all at once as millions of years pass in minutes, until you see yourself born. Time slows and you experience everything about your life again, but with a much fuller context, until your brain protests the overload.

The all-powerful, capricious, selfish, and terribly destructive being Q, entices you to ‘fix’ your life by wiping out all your mistakes. All you have to do is give him everything of your life so that he can experience human existence through your eyes, heart, and mind.

Suddenly he is gone. His own kind have revoked his powers. You sit here with us singing a simple song of our faith.

This terribly destructive and capriciously self-absorbed being, from Star Trek, Q, is a collective of a single being who have unlimited power and knowledge.

But even this being is too small to be our God, or anyone’s, though Q would like to be. Q does not know empathy and love for others.

Were Q your god, you would have ample justification for all sorts of selfish, small minded, sociopathic thoughts and actions. Between people there would be a constant battle to see who could get the best of the other, in order to live a fuller life. … Which horrors of horrors sounds pretty typical of human life, and thus the image of Q chosen by the writers, a mimic of an all too common image of a far too small god.

By contrast fortunately our God is gracious and all-loving. God’s steadfast love endures forever!

Encounter with our God

How have you encountered God? What images of God do you use to interpret and make sense of the world? To make sense of what was handed down to you from previous generations? To make sense of what people around you experience? To make sense of what you have learned about this wonderfully complex world which is just a speck in God’s creation?

Isaiah finds himself in God’s presence. He is terrified at the awesome presence of God that flows everywhere throughout the temple, with a host of marvellous creatures. In an instant that holds all time, Isaiah sees he has unclean lips, lives with a people of unclean lips. He is awfully unworthy to be in God’s presence.

Peter, fishing all night without any luck, encounters Jesus, who borrows his boat to teach the crowds gathered, who hunger for Jesus’ words and healing truth. When Jesus tells Peter to let down his nets again, Peter, not ready to throw wasted effort after a futile night, decides however that, just for Jesus, he will toss his nets in the deep once again.

The abundant fish start to break his nets, overfills his boat and the second boat of his partners who come to help Peter with the catch. Peter realizes three things: Jesus is God, Peter is sinful, and he ought not stick around very long: encounters with God usually do not end well for sinners.

Isaiah and Peter both try to end their encounter with God. God has other plans for them, and for us.

God sends a seraph to purify Isaiah with a burning, live coal. Jesus quells Peter’s fear, and then calls Peter to follow him, to catch people, instead, for the Kingdom of God.

No matter how we imagine God, we, too, ought to be terribly afraid of God’s awesome power.

The biblical stories again and again call us to not be afraid, though we are. They remind us that above all God, all powerful and all righteous, all knowing, is also gracious and all-loving. God chooses to save us.

[Insert your own story of grace, new life and gratitude shared.]

Breathing clean fresh air I walked with grace, a spring in my step, a new found hope in my heart. Just minutes before: The van started to fish tale on unexpected black ice. I had held it in my lane delicately adding power and counter steering the slide as cars and a semi-truck passed me on the other side of the road. At the top of the hill on the corner it had one last wag and it was done dancing. Until on the bridge above the railroad tracks far below, the van slowly rotated a full 180° into the other lane, where no traffic was at the time, by inches missed the guard rail beyond the railroad track, hit the snow bank at the road’s edge and flipped once clean in the air, then rolled twice down the long embankment to stop upright against the trees at the bottom. Glass shards were everywhere, the van was totalled, but we, with only a few bruises and cuts, undid our seat belts and walked up the snow-covered embankment and down the hill to the inn by the lake. We breathed new life. We shared new life at worship that Sunday, at the funeral the next week, and with everyone we encountered over the next few months. Life was again a free gift from God. The van so easily could have danced into the oncoming traffic to take all our breath away; or flipped over the guard rail falling 75 feet (that might as well have been miles) to a dead stop. Yet we breathed … we breathed only by the Grace of God. So we shared with everyone who crossed our paths gratitude and love of life in every grace-filled way possible.

Responses to our God’s Grace

Purified by the searing heat of a live coal, made clean by God’s work, not Isaiah’s, when God asks who God should send, Isaiah is able to respond wholeheartedly, “Here I am, Send Me.” Because of what God has done for him, free, graceful, healing and life-giving, Isaiah knows who he is. Isaiah volunteers to be God’s voice for others, in order to give the same grace to others that God has given him.

Peter knows both Jesus to be God and himself to be a sinner, unworthy of being in God’s presence. After Jesus frees Peter from his overwhelming fear, Peter leaves everything behind: nets, boat, and two boatfuls of fish. Peter answers Jesus’ call to go and fish for people; to bring others to see Jesus as God’s own son, their saviour, and hope for tomorrow.

God makes both Isaiah and Peter into saints (God’s perfect people of light and grace). Both become perfect and yet remain sinners. This is what Martin Luther spoke about, and we now speak about, when we say we are all simultaneously saints and sinners.

The question each day is will we notice God’s presence every day?

Will we recognize God as God and be awe-fully afraid of God? Will we, by the grace of God, allow God to calm our fears and purify our lips, hearts, minds, and strength? Will we volunteer to bring grace to other people, all kinds of people, especially our enemies?!

Concluding Blessing

By the grace of God may we see God each day, present in our lives. May we recognize God and be fearful of God’s awesome power, but by God’s Grace and love allow ourselves to be transformed into people of the light. May we step into each moment filled with God’s grace for us and hand on to others that grace that is given to us.

May grace abound through us God-made saints, yet always sinners, for all people. Let there be light! So that we, and many people through us, may say: I saw the Lord full of his glory.

Amen

Solution or More Problem



The sun rises to colour pieces of the air.

What do we want to be?

Right and therefore probably terribly wrong and the perpetrator of worse: or humble and humorous?

Leaving the study conference, the presenter came to the door, with packed suitcase, leaving with someone else to catch a plane at the airport an hour away. It had been bitter cold, below -30°C. As we left the temperature was still a stiff -20°C with a windchill of -27°C, which does make a difference for what happened next.

I asked if she had a parka. She said it was packed in the suitcase. I continued with my real concern saying that at these temperatures one ought have it at least right handy in the vehicle so that if something happens one is prepared.

She returned a glazed look and said that she would be in the car and into the airport. She had no plans to be outside.

I shook my head in disbelief and said that was ok, but the concern was if an emergency came up, she would not be ready.

More non-commitment, and I departed.

Later I remembered this conversation and one of her comments in her presentation:

‘Mansplaining’ are those spouting off by men without qualifications or attention to the-woman-they-speak-to’s qualifications, as if all wisdom came only from men. And her learned and practiced response was to ignore the words as much as possible and move on.

Ahh, so that was what she did to my words at the door, as I bundled into my down parka on my 40 feet to the car, travelling that same hour to the airport, also never leaving the car.

Perhaps I was just a dumb Minnesotans (she’s from St. Paul MN) from the sticks (Brainerd), who was male and therefore mansplaining her. Perhaps in a different universe.

I have winter survival training, specifically for the weather we were suffering. As a commercial pilot I flew in northern (so it’s called, though it is really central) Alberta. The training was to help us as pilots know how to prepare and then ensure we and our passengers survived after a crash in the bush at extreme temperatures for at least 72 hours. During the training it went down to below -20°C each night as we made our shelters with only natural materials with the tools we normally flew with (or should have never flown without.) The last night it went well below -40°C.

In addition I have had the misfortune of being in a vehicle accident in the winter, and the difference made by having a parka on was critical for survival. Perhaps everything would have turned out ok had I had the parka near me. But then everything was tossed far and away during the pirouette and flips. So maybe not. But getting it out of a packed suitcase? Not a chance that would have gone well.

So maybe I was just mansplaining and her best response was to ignore my words with judgmental disdain and move on; which is good enough until there is an accident, and the parka could have made the difference between life and death, for her or for others in her car or others vehicles.

Maybe she is fully qualified to make the risk assessment, did so and chose comfort over the small likelihood of being in an accident on the way to the car or to the airport.

Or maybe she was not, and as a professor in St. Paul she may never have to work to survive in the outside below -20°C.

But to dismiss my good words, kind even, wise from training and experience, well that is just proof that mansplaining is hardly the problem. The problem is that she dismisses what men say.

NOT

The sun colouring book is actually the smoke of the fire that keeps me warm, or at least alive, when it dips below ‘Youch-It-BITES-to-be-Outside!)

I have no idea if she glazed over about my comment. Or if she actually had a parka to pull out, or was sheepishly covering for the fact she’d travelled, via California, without a parka this time, or she actually made the risk assessment fully informed and the best she wanted to.

Regardless: travelling with no parka at least on the seat beside oneself in the deep freeze of winter is not wise.

Maybe my commenting, with surprise and expecting a humorous exchange, was out of place: why care about how strangers deal with the elements. It’s just the extremes of yesteryear are now the norms, because of climate change. Besides if the stranger is a woman, then it is politically incorrect to try to assist in some normal way.

The best thing to do is let all women suffer, even if there are simple words of hard won wisdom that are worth sharing.

Besides, who cares if I was a stay at home parent, and listened to all the womansplaining that was directed at me at parent-teacher meetings, or other gatherings of parents. Now of course fathers as at home dads is more common. Back then I was singular in most every woman’s experience, and obviously I was stupid at it … because helping raise 7 younger siblings does not really give any man real child rearing experience. You have to be a girl to learn to raise children, practising on your younger siblings, right?!

And all of that is utter nonesense. How do I even know the speaker responded to me as if I were mansplaining her?

I do not.

And why does she ignore men who she thinks are mansplaining her? Because she needs to survive.

But ignoring men, is exactly what women are complaining about: they are ignored.

So the real fix is to blame men and ignore them, to shut them down and silence them, right?!

Wrong.

That kind of working hard to turn the tables on people who treat me/us as if I/we do not count is much more of the same injustice and it breeds injustice, until it has built enough to cause a war, or a personal fight … and then the number of people who are silenced grows out of hand.

Empathy, kindness, reaching into the unfamiliar to understand; These are a good start toward a real solution.

Blaming, dismissing others because they are xsplaining you is not an answer, it is a dodge that perpetuates and makes worse the situation. One could have solved it, but one chose instead to become like one’s enemies and wreak havoc on them as they have you.

No solution comes from diminishing the other, nor from making them one’s enemies.

Only grace truly works.

It’s cold outside. That does not mean one’s heart needs be ice hard.

Be safe, outside, travelling, and with the hearts given into one’s care.

Sometimes the treat is to see something up close, real, beautiful … and forget the rest.

2019.02Feb10 Epiphany 5 Sermon

A Draft.

Encounters with God: Images of God: Imaginations of God

God for us

We Respond

Isaiah reports his encounter with God:

I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. And one called to another and said: 
 “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
 the whole earth is full of his glory.”

At the Synod Study Conference we were encouraged to think about how our images of God (identified with various academic words) inform our faith, and our thinking, and our hearts, and our actions as God’s people.

Here Isaiah provides an awesomely frightful, wonderful image of God, on a throne, robes filling the whole temple – every room – and heavenly winged creatures, in God’s presence protecting themselves from seeing God, or from stepping in God’s presence, so that they can survive. The background understanding of God is that no one can see God and survive; except that God has allowed a few specially called people to survive the encounter, Moses on the mountain returns pure white and here Isaiah survives.

The real question for most of us today is: Do we have an image, an understanding of God that is large enough to encompass the divine. Do we believe in a God who is more than controlled or limited by our own whims.

Imagine that you are sitting here in worship one minute, and the next you are, in the company of an all powerful being whom you see as a human, circling the planet Saturn able to see the colours and particles of its rings splash across your face. And before your heart completely shuts down at the awesomeness of it all you project through space beyond the speed of light, able to see everything in detail as you go, until you are beyond the known universe in the delta quadrant. And then you are back on earth, watching it form and evolve, seeing every detail all at once as millions of years pass in minutes, until you see yourself born. Time slows and you experience everything about your life again, but with a much fuller context, until your brain seems to protest for lack of space to process.

The all powerful, capricious, self-ish, and terribly destructive being Q, entices you to ‘fix’ your life by wiping out all your mistakes, as long as you give him everything of your life-force so that he can experience life through your eyes, heart, and mind.

Then, without any warning, he is gone; and you know that his own kind have interrupted his destructive interjection into your life, as you sit and sing a simple song of our faith.

A terribly destructive and capriciously self absorbed being, from Star Trek, Q, is one of a collective of a single being who have seemingly unlimited power and knowledge.

But even this being is too small to be our God, or anyone’s, though Q would like to be. Q does not know limits and above all, empathy and love for other beings.

Were Q your God, you would have ample justification for all sorts of selfish, small minded, sociopathic thoughts and actions. Between people there would be a constant battle to see who could get the best of the other, in order to live a fuller life.

Sounds pretty typical of human life, and thus the image of Q chosen by the writers.

Our God is all powerful, and all everything. Fortunately God is all loving. God’s steadfast love endures forever!

One of humans’ most common degradations of God is to assume that we can appease, influence or somehow control God against our enemies and for our own benefit. But again and again in the biblical accounts, God is more than we can ever hope to control. But God is always for us, not against our enemies; actually for them as well; and ever redeeming us from our sins, in order that we can provide that same grace to others.

Encounter with our God

That’s numerous biblical accounts. How have you encountered God? What images of God do you use to interpret and make sense of the world. To make sense of what was handed down to you from previous generations. To make sense of what you encounter yourself, and what people around you experience. To make sense of what you have learned about this wonderfully complex world which is just a tiny portion of God’s creation?

Isaiah finds himself in God’s presence. He is terrified at the awesome presence of God that flows everywhere throughout the temple, with a host of creatures beyond anything he’s seen before. In a simple instant that holds all time to that moment, Isaiah sees himself as unclean, with unclean lips, from a people of unclean lips. He is unclean and awfully unworthy to be in God’s presence.

Peter, fishing all night without any luck, encounters Jesus who borrows his boat to teach the crowds gathered, who hunger for Jesus’ words and healing truth. When Jesus tells Peter to let down his nets again, Peter, not ready to throw wasted effort after a futile night, decides, just for Jesus, he will toss his nets in the deep once again.

The abundant fish start to break his nets, overfills his boat and the second boat of his partners who come to help Peter with the catch. Peter knows three things: Jesus is God, Peter is sinful, and he ought not stick around very long: encounters with God usually do not end well for sinners.

Isaiah asks God to excuse him: he has unclean lips. Peter begs Jesus to leave, because Peter is a good sinner.

God has other plans for them, and for us.

God sends a seraph to purify Isaiah’s lips with the burning heat of a live coal. Jesus calls Peter to follow him, to catch people, instead of simple fish, for the Kingdom of God.

No matter how we imagine God, we, too ought to be terribly afraid of God’s awesome presence.

The biblical stories again and again call us to not be afraid, though we are. And they remind us that above all God, all powerful and all everything good, is loving. God chooses to save us.

Insert here your own Story of encountering and fearing God, God’s grace, and responding to follow, volunteer, to serve God. To hand on to others as we have received, God’s healing and life giving grace.

Breathing clean fresh air I walked with grace, a spring in my step, a new found hope. Just minutes before: The van started to fish tale on unexpected black ice. I had held it in my lane delicately adding power and counter steering the slide as cars and a semi-truck passed me on the other side of the road. At the top of the hill on the corner over the bridge above the railroad tracks far below, the van had slowly rotated a full 180° into the other lane, where no traffic was at the time, by inches missed the guard rail beyond the railroad track, hit the snow bank at the road’s edge and flipped once clean in the air, then rolled twice down the long embankment to stop upright against the trees at the bottom. Glass shards were everywhere, the van was totalled, but we with only a few bruises and cuts, undid our seat belts and walked up the snow covered embankment and down the hill to the inn by the lake. I breathed new life. And I shared new life at worship that Sunday, at the funeral the next week, and with everyone I encountered over the next few months. Life was again a free gift, to be shared in every grace-filled way possible.

Responses to our God’s Grace

Purified by the searing heat of a live coal, his lips made clean by God’s work, not Isaiah’s, when God asks who God should send, Isaiah is able to respond wholeheartedly, “Here I am, Send Me.” Because of what God has done for him, free, graceful, healing and life-giving, Isaiah knows where he is. And he volunteers to be God’s voice for others, in order to give the same grace to others that God has given him.

Peter knows both Jesus to be God and Peter to be a sinner, unworthy of being in God’s presence. After Jesus responds, allowing Peter not to be overwhelmed with fear, Peter leaves everything behind, nets, boat, his livelihood (and two boatfuls of product, a tidy sum of fish). Peter answers Jesus’ call to go and fish for people; to bring others to see Jesus as God’s own son, their saviour, and hope for tomorrow.

Neither Isaiah nor Peter become perfect. Both remain sinners, both become blessed to be saints (God’s perfect people of light and grace). This is what Martin Luther spoke about, and we now speak about, when we say we are all simultaneously saints and sinners.

The question each day is will we notice God’s presence every day?

Will we recognize God as God and be awe-fully afraid of God? Will we, out of love, allow God to calm our fears, to purify our hearts minds and strength? Will we volunteer to let God use us, all that we are, for God’s purposes of bringing grace to other people, all kinds of people, all people especially those who are different than us?!

Concluding Blessing

May we see God each day, present in our lives. May we recognize God and be fearful of God’s awesome power, but in love allow ourselves to be transformed by God’s grace and love. May we step into each moment filled with God’s grace for us and hand on that grace that is given to us, to others.

May grace abound through us to all people, all saints, all sinners, all of us both at the same time always.

2019 Feb 10, Epiphany 5

Sermon: quick outline

Already Friday, and the sermon notes and outline are not there, so this quick outline:

A. Awesome (and some incomplete) Images of God, seraphs, God’s robe’s hem fills the temple.

  1. Foil images: images of God that are NOT good enough
  2. Q from star trek all powerful but capricious and destructive
  3. The old man in the sky, dated and now that we can fly obviously incomplete.
  4. All-everything being without substance, but incarnate as well, 2000 years ago.
  5. Isaiah’s
  6. Peter’s

B. Seeing God in person is not something one can survive; but they do

  1. They all object, reasonably so!
  2. God is prepared: God addresses every lack
  3. and makes it possible for the people to follow.

C. What are our images, stories, ideas of God

  1. Are ours ‘big’ enough for God?
  2. Are they real enough for us?
  3. What difference do they make for us?
  4. What kind of life do they ‘hand on’ to others?

Regardless of our images, ideas, limits, smallness or largeness, God is to be feared (and loved). Otherwise our image of God is not ‘big’ enough.

God is to be expected, and welcomed, and trusted … daily.

And when we have seen God, or God’s work, and after God has provided a true fix for our shortcomings, then we are ready to answer God’s call: send me, and we are ready to leave our nets, boats, and all that we think is our life, in order that we can help Jesus save people … by handing on what has been given to us – with grace.

We all need saving, again and again. Someone to stand with us and support us through the valley of the shadow of death, through the temptations to be God ourselves, to the detriment of others.

But we need God.

We need God, to make us be able to survive seeing God.

We need God to equip us to live out the life that is given to us by Grace.

27 Jan 2019 Epiphany 3 ‘Final’

There are always more changes even as one preaches (one hopes) but here are some ‘final’ edits, mostly contributed by another pastor. Emphasis marks of underlined text and bold is lost, so you’ll have to find them on your own.

What do you yearn for? What, if it were to come about today, would fix some of the worst problems you face in your life?

Are you homeless so that a home would be a fulfilled dream? Are you caught in poverty so that a secure income, and benefits for health care, medications, dental, and eye care, along with water, food, clothing, and shelter security would be a fulfilled dream? Are you in captivity to a foreign power, or incarcerated for what you’ve not done, or abused in a relationship you cannot leave, so that freedom would be a palpable change?

Are you suffering ill health which you cannot afford to deal with, or for which there simply is no cure or even treatment? Are you bored with life because there is no challenge left to meet and you no longer hope that anything will become better or have you lost your vision of what could be if … if … but you get stuck because so many dreams have been dashed and there is no light at the end of the tunnel … so that if you were given new hope and new vision to see God’s promises coming to pass, your life would be restored?

What, if it were to come about today, would solve some of the worst problems that we face as a congregation? As a community or city? As a country? As the world?

Would the reversal of climate change, a new energy source that did not eat out the world around us, or a new attitude in every heart that we could provide clean air, water, food security, clothing and shelter, meaningful labour and most importantly, the opportunity to love and be loved … would these bring new life to us all and a bright future for which we could engage in?

What do we hope for?

Jesus’ words reflect the purpose for his life, and the only foundation of hope for the world.

More than once Jesus paraphrases Isaiah to put solid words to what Jesus’ mission is, what he brings to the world:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
  because he has anointed me
   to bring good news to the poor.
 He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
  and recovery of sight to the blind,
   to let the oppressed go free,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

These are words that people have heard and based their hopes on for generations though millennia.

These are not throw away words.

Great theologians look to these words calling us to recognize that God has a preferential option for the poor.

Generations since Jesus’ have looked to these words for assurance that God is with them. Today we read them and receive assurance that God is with and for us, here and now. And there is even more!

In Jesus’ time, in his home town, poverty and powerlessness were the norm. Chances are very good the Synagogue had the only books in Nazareth, and likely it only had the Torah and the book of Isaiah to read from. Isaiah’s words still spoke to their unrealized yearnings.

Jesus reads these words in worship, not just reading them, but then sits to teach about them in his home town. He says ‘today these words are fulfilled in your hearing.’

That’s the remarkable difference that Jesus brings. It’s one thing to hope for a home. It’s another to be told there is one right there for you. It’s one thing to hope for a secure income, or medical care, or food, or a new cure, or whatever it is that will set the world right again…. It is one thing to hope for these, and to be reassured that God promises these to us, ‘next year in Jerusalem’. It is a whole other thing, a fabulous and fearful thing to be told that these things are fulfilled in our hearing them.

It demands some response from us! How do we respond?

It’s hard to really take them seriously, as if they are there for us this day; when we look about, and perhaps we have no home, we have no income, we have no food, we have no security, or our health is failing and we know the end will be death too soon, or that what our church, community, city, country, or world desperately need simply is not there.

It is even more difficult when we realize that these words of hope were written by Isaiah as the people sat in exile, hoping to return home.

Isaiah’s words are a bit different than Jesus’, but reverberate with the same sense of profound need and hope:

“61.1 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,

because the Lord has anointed me;

he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,

to bind up the broken-hearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

and release to the prisoners;

2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,

and the day of vengeance of our God;

to comfort all who mourn;

These same words were read when the exiles did finally return home as in Nehemiah’s and Ezra’s time. The people still carried these hopes because returning from exile did not provide what they needed, for home was not anything like it had been, not by a far cry.

What did the people do?

As we read in today’s OT lesson from the book of Nehemiah:

They worship. And they worship not unlike we do still today: with standing, seeing and bowing as the book is opened and read from, and sitting to hear the interpretation is given to us, and weeping with both sadness and joy at what we hear and understand from God’s word, we often hear that we have great cause to celebrate, rejoice and be thankful for all that we have, for God has not abandoned us.

So today we worship, with spirit and good order: together revering God’s words, listening to the words of music and liturgy, scripture and preaching, eating and drinking together as God’s people in this time and this place.

And with open hearts we hear these words:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me
   to bring good news to the poor.
 He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
  and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

But that they are fulfilled in our hearing, how can that be when we still hope for their fulfillment just as the people of Isaiah’s, Nehemiah’s and Ezra’s, and Jesus’ time.

In the US they honoured Martin Luther King Jr. this past week.

During the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963 King called for civil and economic rights, and an end to racism in the US:

I have a dream … I have a dream … “I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”…

I have a dream … I have a dream … “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”…

I have a dream … I have a dream … “I have a dream that today… that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low … and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh will see it together. This is our hope.”

“Let freedom ring…. When we allow freedom to ring … from every city and hamlet … we will be able to speed up the day when all of God’s children … will be able to join hands and sing … “Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.” copyright 1963 Martin Luther King Jr.

We have a dream. We have a dream. God has a dream for us, too.

And as we hear God’s dream, and hearing it make it our own, and we give our hearts, minds and strength to making it so for others, then it is fulfilled already today in our midst.

We are not alone. The possibilities are not limited to what we are familiar with or what we have done in the past, or what we ourselves can envision.

We are members of one body, the body of Christ. This body has many members with different gifts, different visions, and different possibilities.

We are only limited by our own unwillingness to welcome those members with other visions than we have.

Our future is unlimited as God’s people in this time and place.

We gather to worship, much as we have for millennia, to honour God, to praise, pray, sing and feast together. We gather to give thanks and to fulfill God’s word, also in our midst:

The poor hear good news, the captives are released, the blind see, the oppressed go free, and here it is always the year of the Lord’s favour.

God’s promises are simple and life changing.

We simply pray that they may be fulfilled today in our hearing as well. Amen

The arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice MLK jr

Fulfilled Today?!

27 Jan 2019 3rd Sunday after Epiphany

Today’s problems – fixes

An aside: not part of the sermon:

I think that most of life is getting down to the nitty gritty, seeing where one’s predecessors have gone, and finding one’s own way.

Just because someone has made a difficult trek, does not mean it is right for you.

or that because it is difficult, that it is wrong for you.


It is whether it fulfills who you are.


Are you a snow mobile, or a human with boots?

And do you want to walk easy on the snowmobile track or is it your calling to be in the shade in a moment for just a moment, for that is where you will be you?


So


that’s a photo story, from the photo

but it’s not a sermon made from a photo.

Sermon’s are supposed to start with the Gospel,


and love.

So a return to the sermon:

What, if it were to come about today, would fix some of the worst problems you face in your life?

Are you homeless so that a home would be a fulfilled dream? Are you caught in poverty so that a secure income, and benefits for health care, medications, dental, and eye care, along with water, food, clothing, and shelter security would be a fulfilled dream? Are you in captivity to a foreign power, or incarcerated for what you’ve not done, or abused in a relationship you cannot leave, so that freedom would be a palpable change? Are you suffering ill health which you cannot afford to deal with, or for which there simply is no cure or even treatment? Are you bored with life because there is no challenge left to meet and hope that in meeting it anything will become better or have you lost your vision of what could be if … if … but you get stuck because so many dreams have been dashed and there is no light at the end of the tunnel … so that if you were given new hope and new vision to see God’s promises coming to pass your life would be restored?

What, if it were to come about today, would solve some of the worst problems that we face as a congregation? As a community or city? As a country? As the world?

Would the reversal of climate change, a new energy source that did not eat out the world around us, a new attitude of all people that we could provide clean air, water, food security, clothing and shelter, meaningful labour and most importantly, the opportunity to love and be loved … would these bring new life to us all and a bright future for which we could engage in together?

What do we hope for?

Jesus’ words

Jesus’ words voice the purpose for his life, and give the foundation of hope for the world.

More than once Jesus paraphrases Isaiah to put solid words to what Jesus’ purpose is, what he brings to the world:

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
  because he has anointed me
   to bring good news to the poor.
 He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
  and recovery of sight to the blind,
   to let the oppressed go free,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

These are words that people have heard and hoped in for millennia and generations.

These are not throw away words.

Liberation Theology looks to these words calling us to recognize that God has a preferential option for the poor.

Generations since Jesus’ have looked to these words for assurance that God is with them. Today we read them and receive assurance that God is with and for us, here and now. And there is even more!

Jesus astounding claim:

Jesus reads these words in worship, not just reading them, but then sits to teach about them in his home town. He says ‘today these words are fulfilled in your hearing.’

That’s the remarkable difference that Jesus brings. It’s one thing to hope for a home. It’s another to be told there is one there for you. Or a secure income, or medical care, or food, or a new cure, or whatever it is that will set the world right again,

It is one thing to hope for these, and to be reassured that God promises these to us, ‘next year in Jerusalem’; it is a whole other thing, a fabulous and fearful thing to be told that these things are fulfilled in our hearing them.

Response?

It demands some response. How do we respond?

It’s hard to really take them seriously, as if they are there for us this day; when we look about, and we have no home, or we have no income, or we have no food, or we have no security, or our health is failing and we know the end will be death too soon, or that what our church, community, city, country, or world desperately need simply is not there.

Unfulfilled in history

Isaiah

It is even more difficult when we realize that these words of hope were written by Isaiah as the people sat in exile, hoping to return home.

Isaiah’s words are a bit different, but they reverberate with the same sense of profound need and hope:

“61.1 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,

because the Lord has anointed me;

he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,

to bind up the broken-hearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

and release to the prisoners;

2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,

and the day of vengeance of our God;

to comfort all who mourn;

Ezra

These same words were read when the exiles had returned home as in Nehemiah’s and Ezra’s time. The people still carried these hopes because returning from exile did not provide what they needed, for it was not anything like it had been, not by a far cry.

Waiting for these hopes to be fulfilled, what did the people do?

As we read in today’s OT lesson from the book of Nehemiah:

They worship. And they worship not unlike we do still today: with standing, seeing and bowing as the book is opened and read from, and sitting to hear the interpretation given to us, and weeping with both sadness and joy at what we hear and understand from God’s word, we often hear that we have great cause to celebrate, to rejoice and be thankful for all that we have, for God has not abandoned us.

So today we worship, with good order, together revering God’s words, listening to the words of music and liturgy, scripture and preaching, eating and drinking together as God’s people in this time and this place.

And still we hear these words:

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
  because he has anointed me
   to bring good news to the poor.
 He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
  and recovery of sight to the blind,
   to let the oppressed go free,
 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour.”

But that they are fulfilled in our hearing, how can that be when we still hope for their fulfillment just as the people of Isaiah’s, Nehemiah’s and Ezra’s time did?

MLKing

In the states they honoured Martin Luther King Jr. last weekend.

During the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963 King called for civil and economic rights, and an end to racism in the US:

“I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.”

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

“I have a dream that today… that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low … and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh will see it together. This is our hope.”

“Let freedom ring… When we allow freedom to ring … from every city and hamlet … we will be able to speed up the day when all of God’s children … will be able to join hands and sing … “Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.” copyright 1963 Martin Luther King Jr.

We have a dream. God has a dream for us, too.

And as we hear God’s dream, and hearing it make it our own, and we give our hearts, minds and strength to making it so for others, then it is fulfilled already today in our midst.

We are not alone. The possibilities are not limited to what we are familiar with or what we have done in past, or what we ourselves can envision.

We are members of one body, the body of Christ. This body has many members with different gifts, different visions, and different possibilities.

We are only limited by our own unwillingness to welcome those members with other visions than what we have.

Our future is unlimited as God’s people in this time and place as we welcome everyone.

We gather to worship, much as we have for millennia, to honour God, to praise, pray, sing and feast together. We gather to give thanks and to fulfill God’s word also in our midst:

The poor hear good news, the captives are released, the blind see, the oppressed go free, and here it is always the year of the Lord’s favour.

God’s promises are simple and life changing.

We simply pray that they may be fulfilled today in our hearing as well.

Amen

Fulfilled or Full of It

27 January 2019

Sermon Sketch

You choose which with your choices and actions

Grace or Greed?

Fulfilled Today?

-20°C Specular Sunset ; Spectacular Day

Jesus: “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Quite the claim,

so familiar with it so we accept it

but the fulfillment of this good news is … well unbelievably good!

This has been sought, wished and prayed for through the generations for millennia.

Roots

in Isaiah 61,

while the people are in exile

“61The spirit of the Lord God is upon me,

because the Lord has anointed me;

he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed,

to bind up the broken-hearted,

to proclaim liberty to the captives,

and release to the prisoners;

2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour,

and the day of vengeance of our God;

to comfort all who mourn;

3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion—

to give them a garland instead of ashes,

the oil of gladness instead of mourning,

the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.

They will be called oaks of righteousness,

the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.

4 They shall build up the ancient ruins,

they shall raise up the former devastations;

they shall repair the ruined cities,

the devastations of many generations.

Jubilee Year

First the year of the Lord’s favour:

never happened, an ideal that all debts would be reset to zero, everyone gets a fresh start.

Isaiah’s Word of Promise

The first verse though was wonderfully said,

good news to the oppressed, bind up the brokenhearted, liberty for the captives!

also never realized.

The second verse turns a huge dark corner: vengeance on God’s enemies hope not to be in that number!

followed by great deliverances: from mourning, sadness, praise instead of faint of spirit,

and the ruins of the homeland through generations will be repaired, restored to their glory.

All of this, the restoration of home and a return home, the turning of mourning to gladness, a fresh start for everyone, and liberty for the captives, aid for the broken-hearted, oppressed get good news.

All this because God has anointed the prophet to proclaim these.

Yet they never happened, not all of them, and only a few partially, momentarily fulfilled.

Jesus’ Time

This Jesus picks up on: proclaims these same words of great hope and deliverance,

The people of his day also hoped for deliverance, from Roman’s oppression, and from each other’s oppressive dealings.

The marked difference is Jesus says: This is fulfilled in their hearing, today!

That’s quite some statement.

No evidence that it was fulfilled then,

Today

Still not fulfilled today.

Stories of not fulfilled today.

Poor receive very little if any good news, the blind stay blind, the captives are still in jail if not killed, oppressed not only not freed, their numbers multiple every year.

So what’s up?

!

Look Around

Ezra: account of worship for returned exiles:

worship: good and healthy, or controlled

Great experiences of good healthy worship:

music that reverberates in one’s soul, renews even one’s body,

sermons that speak volumes of God’s love for all, and for me,

liturgy that regularizes the basics of God’s stance to us: Grace

and regularizes our relationship with God, fully dependent on forgiveness

and regularizes our relationships with others (because God is as God is with us): Grace, Light, Forgiveness, (greatest gift) Love!

My favourite: children times where the children have loads of fun playing in [the yuckier, messier – yet with meaning brought out of it], and it all getting more or less cleaned up without a hitch; and the adults who pay attention hear that salvation is a gift, therefore we can be gifts of grace to each other

Bad Worship Experiences

healing services that victimized anyone who claimed they needed healing,

those offering blessings and prayers who had no empathy, who in other settings played power games to ensure their positions in the church.

cursed blessing’

Haugian Pietist congregation where this one quite elderly man came in to ‘bless’ me just prior to each service. Less blessing than a manner to control who I was, what I preached and not, and how he sought to ‘take credit’ for anything good that God accomplished in worship. When I gracefully pointed out that God blessed me already, that he was disrupting my own worship preparations and last minute communications with other worship leaders, and that another time would be more appropriate, he disappeared, replaced with another who told me at every meeting that they were going to get rid of me. Their gaslighting worked its wonders and my body physically failed me at a meeting not long after that. The heartburn felt like it was going to drop me to the floor. I needed out, I got out, walked for miles, false accusations were made against me against which no one can defend themselves and the bishop came to facilitate my exit. Not quite a blessed experience, rather quite cursed.

Sermons

that never mentioned God once

or that drove home that we needed to earn our salvation

or that had the depth of mud puddles on pavement, offering only that ‘love was the answer’ and ‘what would Jesus do’ which meant the preacher could tell us all what we should do, by ascribing to Jesus that behaviour in our situations.

[Fill in your own experiences of Religion and Worship as Control, instead of Grace.]

Gifts, Members: all for all

Variety of Gifts: good for one and for all,

great variety of members, but still all one body.

Not hang with those only like yourselves, but you are part of a whole collection of great variety.

Stick together, work to work together, love each other’s differences.

Fulfilled in your hearing, today

Still a matter of waiting. Hoping, Promises, giving generously

Faith is hardly a destination account of life: rather it is a way of proceeding on one’s way:

Jesus: fulfilled today in your hearing … and yet not.

The promise so powerfully said: rejected, and with threats of violence! Jesus is run out of Nazareth, his home town.

For us today: how will we choose to see each day:

as an opportunity to control others

or

as an opportunity to help others experience God’s Grace?

Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing!

If we hear, comprehend, internalize the promise and live as people of hope,

instead of cynics or controlling shallow-faith people, then

as we give good news to the poor, help release the captives, give sight to the blind, set the oppressed free and give everyone we can a year of God’s favour,

Then

Then indeed,

in our deeds,

these words will be fulfilled today,

Our Hearts

Sermon for 20 January 2019

Miracle or preparations

Qualified to Sleep through the night

A farm owner woke to the sounds of a terrible storm,

Running out to get the hired hand up to help him ‘batten down the hatches’

the hired hand refused to wake up to help.

So alone the farmer ran to the gate to tie it closed so the animals could not escape, because the wind could easily blow it open.

The gate was firmly shut, so that no wind could budge it.

He ran to the far side of the barn with a tarp, where loose shingles would be caught by the wind, more would come off and the insides would be sopping wet from the heavy rain that started.

There were no loose shingles.

Around he ran, to fix every known problem and inspect for new ones, but everything was fixed and secured against the storm.

The farmer thought it was a miracle, and went back to bed,

where as he fell back asleep to the pounding rain and wind, he remembered that he decided firmly not to hire this man even though he was the sole man available. This man had said his qualifications were simple: he could sleep through the night.

It was a miracle, because the farmer had gone back and hired this man, who could sleep through the night.

[Include your own stories of miracles, where you changed your heart, mind, and strength.]

Surviving Bitter Cold,

The other morning I woke to -33°C (-27°F).

The propane furnace had long since quit, it was -4°C inside, the generator was too cold to fire up, and the truck would not even turn over. There was a propane bottle heater, but it’s propane was too cold to flow.

So I put the propane bottle in the wood heated shelter to warm it up, put an old insulated tarp over the warmed up heater next to the generator and propped it high enough to light the propane heater without melting the tarp.

And I sat to have breakfast with fresh coffee, made from water boiling all night on the wood stove.

The generator then cooperated nicely, the block heater was plugged in, the battery charger set to the truck battery, and after doing dishes with hot water from the wood stove, I set the charger to 55 amp start mode and the truck fired up. I was only a few minutes late for my appointment. As I was away, the wood heat was blown to warm everywhere nicely including under the skirt to the propane tanks by electric fans powered by the generator. When I returned the furnace fired up nicely and at -25 outside with an overnight low again of -33 I was toasty warm.

It was a miracle, because I had firmly decided I could never get wood heat. It simply was not possible. But I had a change of heart, and after contributions from far and wide, lots of work, and a month or so, there was a wood stove. Otherwise I’d still be cold, maybe like a permanent popsicle.

Jesus’ first miracle

Today’s Gospel is Jesus’ first miracle, the wine at the wedding in Cana. There is more at stake than we may realize at first reading. To run out of wine was a loss of face for the groom’s family, and everyone there. They, friends and family, were expected to bring enough food and drink, potluck style, to help provide for everyone. Having no wine is not like it would be for us. There and then the water was known to be unsafe to drink. At gatherings and celebrations one served wine, which was safe. Having nothing to drink meant the guests had to chose between getting sick with dehydration, or from the water.

At stake for Jesus, as he tells his mother, it is not the right time to demonstrate to people what he can do.

Miracles

When it comes to miracles by God traditionally we’ve said and sometimes/some of us have believed that miracles are God stepping into our universe, breaking the laws we know and getting results we cannot get, good results. Miracles are God’s inexplicable intervention in our universe.

Other people, or sometimes us but only secretly, we’ve said that miracles simply do not happen. There is always an explanation for how things happened, we just do not know enough, so we call them miracles. But miracles are really Nonexistent

I’ve always believed God can inexplicably intervene, and make things happen that simply cannot. God does this very, very rarely. I’ve never liked the traditional message of what a miracle is, that God can miraculously fix everything, because then either God is really cruel because not everything is fixed (and it is unconscionable that somethings are not fixed!) Or we are really incompetent or hard-hearted because if we only prayed more fervently, people would not be suffering and dying, as we speak.

I have believed for a long time that there is a better explanation for miracles that is more powerful, poignant, realistic, hope-filled and hope-giving.

Wine at Cana

Traditionally Inexplicably

Traditionally this is Jesus’ first miracle. He turns water inexplicably into wine.

Work natural, just unknown

Practical explanations have existed. The one I always thought hokey was that the jars had a strong wine, a port, in them. Add water and you get wine.

Instant tang had just come on to the market, so this was ‘instant wine’. Really there was no miracle.
Sorry it’s not any port in a storm.

Explicable and …

Say and believe what you will but as for me: I believe that this is God’s universe, and God can do whatever and does … rarely even things inexplicably miracles. I just still do not believe the ‘instant wine’ denial of miracles (and of God’s being with us.)

I also know God created us intelligent, resourceful, gracious, kind, loving … and greedy, conniving, and deceitful.

I like the following account best of all because the miracle is something we all can and do ‘bank’ on every day. The text allows that there was enough wine, but someone had secreted away (stolen) the best of the wine. The servants are in the know, either as the doers, participants or as the knowers-of-many-secrets. When Jesus instructs them to fill the big jars with water, they decide to correct the wrong, they retrieve the stolen wine, and, as if it were water, pour it into the jars. The wine brought as a gift for the celebration is once again available.

The loss of face for the groom’s family and for all their guests is avoided. The ill health of all the guests is not in the works, and Jesus gets credit as credit is due: he is God’s son, who knows what the servants know, and knows how to help everyone put things right in God’s creation. All is well.

The miracle: Jesus changes hearts, at least of the servants, and perhaps of the thieves.

Good faith

Real difference is what it means to us.

If Miracles are God just doing the magically inexplicable, then everything that goes wrong could just as well be fixed, but God does not! Why does God not just fix everything!?

With that question begins the slippery slope to full-out doubt and disbelief.

When Jesus’ miracles have a simpler, very possible, explanation that Jesus changes people’s hearts to get them to do something different or new: then we have a real life-giving story.

When we face each real difficult challenge in our lives, we could just sit on our hands praying that God would do the inexplicable and fix this for us.

On the other hand, if Jesus’ miracle is that he changes hearts to get us to do things we might not have otherwise, then …

Well, every situation becomes Christ calling us and the Holy Spirit equipping us, and all people around us, to give our best, including giving a profound sense of hope that God is working a miracle through our hearts and hands to give other people a good life and solid grounds for hope.

As for me, I like a world, a world of faith, where in God makes good use of us creatures of God, in order to bring about for us and others what God has promised us and wants for us.

As for me, I like a world, a world of faith, where the common wisdom makes sense; namely that what happens to us is not so important as what we choose to do. Only 10% of life is what happens to us; the other 90% is how we respond..

That makes a real difference in the world we live in

[add your own stories that need a change of heart to turn out well for all]

Court

I’ve seen more darkness in court than one should ever see, and I rightfully yearn for Justice based on truth, not games and politics and bias’ used to force falsehoods to be facts.

That darkness will not change on it’s own; it requires a change of hearts, many hearts, in many places.

Starvation and World Population

While we’ve read/heard this sermon millions of people are starving and many of them have died. Ending hunger is not impossible. We have enough food and the means to distribute it, if we really wanted to. But it, like homelessness and poverty, avoidable diseases and unemployment can only be curbed and ended if many, many hearts change.

Isaiah & Global Warming

A prophet like Isaiah could well tell us that we have it real well, now, but our doom is coming, for we have ignored God’s Word. We have pretended that we can burn fossil fuels to provide luxurious life for some, but not others, all without paying the piper. Global climate change has well started. Extreme weather of the past is now already the norm, and the new extremes are wiping out populations. The ice melt coming will flood the coasts and our most populated cities will be uninhabitable.

If we had ended poverty in the early 80’s when the world’s population was only 4.5 billion, since we know people caught in poverty have many more children, we might not be taxing the limits of the environment to sustain our destructive ways. But now with 7.4 billion people we cannot stop ourselves it seems, not without a colossal portion of those 7.4 billion hearts changing … before it’s too late.

One way or another, the earth will reduce our population, but it may be too late for species human.

Paul: Tongues and Interpretation

Paul writes to the Corinthians. Their gifts are amazing, among them speaking in tongues and interpretation of what’s said. Paul recognizes this gift. But he puts it towards the bottom of the list.

Just speaking in tongues and interpreting it to have an answer for challenges in life is wonderful, but used too often, it’s just an easy out, too easy. It’s led to terrible divisions in the congregation. Wealthy people come with lots of food to the Eucharist, others have none. Everyone gets bread and wine. But only the wealthy eat. People caught in poverty are called lazy and held responsible: bring your own food or go hungry.

The community needs to see itself as servants of Christ, bringing grace and life to all around. They do not need an interpretation of someone speaking in tongues. They need a change of many hearts.

The 2nd Bitter Cold Night

That 2nd night of -33°C I was toasty warm. So were the walls around the wood stove. They were melted halfway through in the morning. The fan had blown the hot hot air against them and melted them away.

The real miracle is that the 2nd morning I was given an old, large insulated heating duct, big enough to be turned inside out to serve as a much needed heat protector for the walls.

Now … let’s hope that all that hard work until 3 in the morning to install the heat shield is sufficient. My heart is ready for a rest, if the preparations are sufficient to allow heat in the coldest time, sufficient to keep me warm, but not so intense so as to melt the walls, that otherwise protect me from the bitter cold.

We wait

Today we wait for a miracle, but we do not wait for God to intervene as if by magic to make everything right for us.

We wait for the real work of Christ and the Holy Spirit. We wait for the miracle of our hearts changing. We wait for the real work of grace that starts by changing our hearts, minds and strength. We pray that we also will turn our ways to God’s will for all.

Amen