Without Trembling, With Thanks …

Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Path May Seem Difficult and Long …

Psalm 56:9

Then my enemies will retreat on the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me.

Matthew 5:4

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Words of Grace For Today

There is no shortage of destruction by evil working through people, directed against other people, seeking to destroy and destory others in order to work some supposed ‘advantage’ in their lives, their ‘world’.

The question is who do we, the ones pursued to be destroyed and destoried, who do we choose to be?

The lies told about us do not determine who we are, even if they can determine a whole lot of shtako that we will experience like jail, being shunned, outcast, left to die, and actively killed … all in an effort to take the truth of who we are and what our lives have been and destroy our stories of truth.

The lies told about us never become the truth. It does not matter how many lies are piled together. It does not matter how often or for how long those lies are repeated or by whom they are repeated. It does not matter how many police create more lies about us. It does not matter how many lawyers and prosecutors create more lies about us. It certainly does not matter how many courts repeat all those lies and how many more lies the courts create on their own about us. None of the lies ever become the truth, not ever. Their lies do not determine who we are, no matter how hard they try to make it so. Their lies reveal so much of who the liars are. Their lies belie them as agents of evil in our midst, agents who undermine everything good about civilization. They cause chaos to flow permeating everywhere in society. In that chaos they try to establish a new ‘truth’, a ‘truth’ that they can control, or at least benefit from. They may seem to benefit from it, but the chaos corrodes civil society leaving it vulnerable to barbarism, and that barbarism knows no favourites: it consumes everyone in its path, from within and with external destructive forces. The lies are in fact the tip of barbarism eating away at everyone, the liars first, the people they lie about, and all sorts of those caught in the wake of the lies.

Truth is truth forever.

So who do we, the victims of these lies, want to be?

The victims are so many: from our local towns and cities, to the outcasts in our country, to the indigenous and Metis most would rather not remember, to those similarly lied about in every country, to those left to die of preventable illnesses, to those killed by unjust military assaults – like in the Ukraine, though that is only one of many unjust military actions now across the globe – to those murdered in cold blood each day.

Who do we want to be?

We can be victims. That’s easy. That’s obvious. That’s hard to not be. But can we be someone else rather than victims?

Lots of tales from history recount how people have ‘pulled themselves by their bootstraps’ and overcome the assault on their lives and on their stories. Those stories are unbelievable; there are no ‘bootstraps’ by which to pull oneself up out of such attacks, not that will work for other people.

The only sure survival is to surrender, not to one’s enemies, but to God’s Will. Even then not all of us will survive in this life, though some have survived, like Jeremiah (until he did not), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, St. Paul (until he did not), Martin Luther, Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Sarah Collins Rudolph, Freddie Knoller, Toby Biber, Premsyl Dobias, Maria Ossowski, Albin (Alex) Ossowski, Daniel Falkner, Magdalena Kusserow Reuter, and the list could go on.

More than those who survive are those who are jailed and killed or just killed. That list seems not to find an end. Remember Martin Luther King Jr., Dietrich Bonhöffer, Socrates, Jesus, Stephan, Bishop Juan Gerardi, and Archbishop Oscar Romero?

Who do we want to be? Who do we want to be like?

The question is pertinent every day, but more pertinent is how God answers: what does God want from us? Are we the people God created us to be?

How can we be as God created us to be, after some one agent of evil or so many agents of evil (who appear to be ordinary people at first) have sought (and still are seeking) to kill us?

We surrender to God’s Will, and pray we will say truthfully to God:

Und reichst du uns den schweren Kelch, den bittern
des Leids, gefüllt bis an den höchsten Rand,
so nehmen wir ihn dankbar ohne Zittern
aus deiner guten und geliebten Hand.

(And may you offer the heavy bitter cup
of grief, filled to the very rim
We´ll take it thankfully without trembling
from your good and beloved hand.
)

For we know that those who mourn will be comforted, even our loved ones. We trust fully that God is with us and our enemies can do no other than retreat when facing God. They will be undone as God puts the truth before them, and before all people. The truth will be known.

So come what may we can thankfully and without trembling face each new day.

Ukraine, Ukraine!!

Friday, February 25, 2022

Peace Here

Affords Many

The Freedom To Fish

In Different Directions

Under The Same Sky

Psalm 135:14

For the Lord will vindicate his people, and have compassion on his servants.

Matthew 5:6

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Words of Grace For Today

Today there is little to say other than prayer on prayer for the good people of the Ukraine, who have lost so much, and now so much more is taken from them … and for all the people for generations to come who will loose again and again because of this occupation and stealing of land by Russia.

So we pray that the Lord will vindicate his people and have compassion on his servants, and that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled.

And that Justice, based on truth, will prevail,

there and here, as well!

Lord, help us if it does not.

Crumbs

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Most Often

The Path

Following Christ

Appears to Be

A Maze

Yet

There Is

An Amazing Path

to the Light of Christ

Psalm 119:6

O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes! Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.

John 4:34

Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.’

Words of Grace For Today

Most humans have never thought to listen at all to God. Their loss, literally, as they plow through life, destroying more than they could imagine.

Most humans who have thought to listen to God, have learned just enough in such a way to make God’s Will into their own will, and they blithely continue on plowing through life, destroying more than they can imagine.

Those who strive to listen to God … well …

It’s really no different for us either: we continue to plow through life, destroying more than we can imagine.

So we, we who would live life in order to give life to others … so we pray constantly that we would be able to hear God’s will for us and follow God’s will with our thoughts, words, and deeds.

Yet without the Holy Spirit it is hopeless for us and our prayers.

Jesus was a different kind of person, one who knew and followed God’s will, not his own will made to appear to be God’s will. Rather Jesus knew, followed, and received nourishment by following.

Sometimes it is not hard to think that we are more like Hansel and Gretel trying to find the bread crumbs of Jesus, and receiving mere snippets of nourishment for the little treasures we find, sometimes most unexpectedly on what we thought was certainly not a path Jesus ever trod or sent us out on to tread one step at a time.

The most precious gift we receive from the Holy Spirit is to see, hear, and touch the presence of Jesus in our lives each day, in the most unexpected manners.

To see, we look …

To hear, we listen …

To touch, we reach out ….

Another day, this day, and we pray nourish us Jesus, with your bread of life and the gifts of the Holy Spirit most precious.

Journeying With Goals That Give Life

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Always Christ’s Light

Beckons Us

To Journey Onwards and

To Live Blessed Lives

Sharing Blessed Life

with Others

Psalm 25:5

Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all day long.

John 8:31-32

Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, ‘If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.’

Words of Grace For Today

Lead me in your truth and teach me …

You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.

Life is not a journey with a final destination that we can reach or achieve or earn or miss out on. Life is a journey always becoming in the next moment what is next, whether that is new, old and oft repeated, or old and first for us. So we look forward with goals and plans that guide us, yet always these goals and plans are secondary to celebrating that God gives us the journey each day and walks with us no matter what we encounter, no matter what our enemies do to us, no matter anything and everything. Our goals and plans are chosen to reflect that everything we have and everything we are right down to the latest breath we’ve taken God gives to us, freely, lovingly, wonderfully.

When I was much younger I worked at the airport in Fargo, on the line of a small flight school and charter service. The chief pilot (the only pilot) drove his black Grand Prix out on to the apron where fueled up the airplanes on day, got out and started chatting with me. Usually I was not even noticed other than to be given orders on what to do with my time.

He pointed to his car. I wasn’t impressed. Cars were not something I was interested in other than as a means of transport. Airplanes of course were a different matter, though even they were for flying somewhere fast, or getting somewhere and being able to land with little to no runway, or doing aerobatics in.

He continued with his tale that he’d dreamed of having one since he was a young teen. Other than becoming a pilot that was what consumed him. He’d dreamed and planned and dreamed and worked. Finally he had one. He was in his early thirties, growing a bit of a paunch. He never had been athletic. The business he worked for was owned and run by his friend, and it turned out it was losing money hard and fast as the two of them ran it into the ground. It had been a gift to the friend from his father who’d built it up from nothing and now was not wealthy but comfortably retired.

The chief pilot finally got to the reason he was telling me his story about his wonderful jet black Grand Prix. “Now that I have it I don’t know what else to do with my life.”

I worked there a few summers during college, and then one final semester when I audited classes since I had more than enough credits to graduate (in 3.5 years) but there was nothing like graduating at any time except after the spring semester. So I was waiting for graduation, and then I’d be off to Yale Divinity School, except a full scholarship year in Germany sandwiched it’s way in first.

I did not understand a life focused on attaining a thing, a piece of metal, plastic, and rubber, as fancy as we humans have been able to make things of a great number of materials.

I can understand it sort of now, but not really. That kind of a life is, as the chief pilot said, pretty empty after one attains one’s dreamed goal. In fact that orientation for life empties life of life itself step by step as the goals is pursued. Things just do not make life worthwhile. They never have and never will, and there are countless stories from history that bear witness to this.

What we know, as followers of Christ, is that all the things in the world cannot fill one’s life with meaning. We receive things, skills, and everything else as gifts from God so that we can give life, abundant life, meaningful life, blessed life, to others.

Continuing in Jesus’ Word is not a choice we make, though our choices, especially our choices of goals and things we hope to attain or achieve in life, reflect whether we have surrendered and continue to surrender our own will and hopes and dreams to God’s Will for us each day.

We pray that we will continue in Jesus’ Word, giving as Jesus gave of himself, so that others can live and living they can know (as the Spirit teaches us) that God’s abundant, unconditional love, is the guide to a meaningful life.

This is the truth that frees us to know that God walks with us each step of our journey from the present into the next present, giving us stories of blessed lives (no matter what our enemies do to us).

Who Can Endure? Who Will Feast?

Sunday, February 13, 2022

See

and

Hear

Folded Hands in Prayer of Thanks.

Malachi 3:2

But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap.

Revelation 3:20

Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.

Words of Grace For Today

Each day, each moment of decision, we can respond to all that challenges or threatens us with our wits and strength, ready to fight for ourselves,

or we meet all challenges and threats first resigning to God’s Will.

In our resignation we can either expect the almighty God’s wrath to wipe us off our feet with a mighty cleansing fire, leaving little left of us,

OR we can resign and expect to celebrate and feast with Christ.

The choice seems simple: struggle and death or feasting and celebrating with God!

Yet we cannot on our own make the choice other than to engage our wits and strength. That requires trusting God, whom we think we cannot see, whom we know will let us suffer defeat and death for we have seen so much defeat and so many friends meeting their death.

So how is it that we can hear Jesus knocking and actually open the door? That is the question of life … or death!

It is only possible for us to hear and answer if God has given us faith to hear, faith to trust, faith to know how to resign ourselves to God’s way of unconditional love and forgiveness and blessing and gratitude and generosity and living abundantly … no matter our circumstances, no matter the challenges we face, no matter the threats made against us.

Thank God daily for the faith given to us, for we hear and see the door opened … by faith. And we feast with Christ each day.

Recklessly Love God!

Friday, February 11, 2022

Boldly Catching the Curve

Following God’s Inspiration

and Blessings

Joshua 23:11

Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God.

John 14:23

Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.’

Words of Grace For Today

I am not at all sure that being careful is part of loving the Lord our God.

My experience and reading tells me that loving the Lord our God requires a foolish, even reckless, boldness, fuelled by a wonderful faith (given as free gift by God to us).

There is simply no way to get through life without sinning, though one can do one’s best not to hurt others, and to do one’s best to let God inspire and lead one to be a blessing for others.

God’s promise is that we are not alone. Even in Covid isolation and staying smart about it, we do not live alone. God walks right with us and ‘makes God’s home with us!’

Being careful?

Rather be bold, being all that God created and inspires you to be!

Root … Taking Root

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Taking the Route

to the Root

of Life

and

Putting Down Roots

(Even in Winter)

Brings Us to the Light of the World,

Christ.

2 Kings 19:30

The surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downwards, and bear fruit upwards.

Romans 11:16

If the part of the dough offered as first fruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; and if the root is holy, then the branches also are holy.

Words of Grace For Today

Taking root.

That’s the event that connects us to whom God created us to be.

Taking root.

That’s the event that revives us, renews us.

Taking root.

That’s the event that requires forgiveness,

offered to those who would destroy us, and

accepted for all the sin that we ourselves have actually done.

Taking root.

That’s the event in which God shows us again that we are holy because we are connected to all that is holy in God’s good creation.

Taking root.

That’s the event that leads to us bearing fruit, good fruit.

Day by Day, Night by Night.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

For the Love of God …

follow where Jesus leads.

Psalm 19:2

Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.

Revelation 14:7

He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.’

Words of Grace For Today

Day to day, and

Night to night …

There is a lot that comes at us day after day and night after night …

There are so many things by which we can orient ourselves as we face what comes!

Some promise a reward sometime in the distant future, some in the near future, some even in the just about to be present – almost instant rewards, but none live up to their promises and give us life, abundant life, except …

except when we orient ourselves first and foremost by a proper fear of God. It’s the kind of fear that gives God all the glory for everything good. God deserves our worship. We deserve to be people who give God glory and worship, along with all of creation.

except if we orient ourselves completely out of fear for God, we become pretty useless, reduced to fear responses for everything we do, which leaves us decaying into puddles of reptilian responses to everything: freeze, flight, or fight.

And these response do not involve our whole brain, our whole hearts, our whole being, all given to us by a God that loves us.

Martin Luther taught us well that ‘we are to fear and love God ….’

That love part gives us something by which to orient ourselves day and night, which bring our whole mind, heart and being in to play as we live, and by God’s Grace can choose to:

listen,

learn,

forgive,

love,

and

hope,

so that many, many other people can see how great life is when we live it oriented by our fear and love of God.

God’s judgment will come, day by day, night by night and

by God’s promise made to us in our baptisms we know that all our sins will be set aside and Jesus’ pure and righteous record will replace ours …

and we will be saved,

day by day and night by night.

At Great Cost We Are Healed

Saturday, January 15, 2022

We Find Our Way

No Matter the Challenges

Since Jesus Himself

Makes Us

Whole

Isaiah 53:5

He was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.

2 Corinthians 5:21

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

Words of Grace For Today

We can of course try really hard to make things right, for ourselves, and for others if we are so inclined to care, though I’ve met some people as I’m sure you have, who do not want to make it right for others at all, not at all. They make it as bad for others as they can, with lies, corruption, and false convictions.

Our efforts to make it right are simply not enough, not ever. We cannot make it right, not right enough, no matter how hard we try. God help us,

literally, for there simply is no other way to make it right, not right enough.

Jesus, though, has already made it right, very right, more than right, for Jesus makes everything right for us with God, and then …

then everything is right for us.

And those people who want to do us as much destruction as possible are kept far enough away that we are safe, as safe as ever, as safe as ever.

For our sake God made Jesus to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

So we are healed and made whole, for yet another day, another way, another life given to us again, though we certainly do not deserve it. So it is by Grace another gift of life, love and hope …

at great cost to Jesus.

Reality, Poor and Needy

Thursday, January 13, 2022

The Light,

The Path,

The Way.

Psalm 70:5

I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!

Romans 15:5-6

May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Words of Grace For Today

Most times when the disasters of life coming knocking on our doors, we seek solace and assistance from our families, if they are any good, and we have been any good to them.

When the biggest disasters hit, though our families may be there to help us, it is to God that we turn and cry ‘hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!’

We hope that in all our times and in all our ways we will learn to ‘live in harmony with’ our family, so that when we need them or when they need us, together we will be the hands and arms of God which can offer them help and deliverance, for all in need.

Our prayer for this day, and every Thursday, is for all our families, that the God of steadfastness and encouragement will bring us through each day safely, keep our hearts and minds at peace with ourselves and with each other, and inspire us to see God’s goodness in each other and to be that goodness ourselves, with gratitude for all God gives us each day.

We begin by remembering who we are; we are poor and needy, as each day begins … and only God gives us more.