Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 25

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Dark and Light

Following Jesus

Guarantees

The Best Life Possible

That Ends in Death

100% of the time

Amos 7:14-15

Then Amos answered Amaziah, ‘I am no prophet, nor a prophet’s son; but I am a herdsman, and a dresser of sycamore trees, and the Lord took me from following the flock, and the Lord said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”

Mark 1:16-17

As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’

Words of Grace For Today

There are so many excuses not to serve the Lord our God; excuses not to fear and love the Lord with all our hearts, minds and strength.

It is a narrow path by which we find ourselves, completely turned around in our lives, doing the last thing we expected to be doing, all in service to our Lord Jesus.

That narrow path is not ours to find on our own. God finds us and pushes us on to it, like Amos. A herdsman and dresser of sycamore trees who God seconded to be … a prophet.

A quiet, hard labouring life, at the bottom of the human food chain, being a shepherd was not an elevated station in life, not even an inch or millimetre elevated.

A prophet, an official prophet, could be very lucrative. But a prophet of the Lord, that was not so. That meant speaking the truth, not what the wielders of power wished to hear. As a consequence prophets of God were most often terribly abused and eventually killed … because they followed God’s instructions and challenged evil corruption in all ways it disrupted and corrupted God’s people.

Simon Peter and Andrew were fishermen, hard working men who ventured most days out on to the surface of the lake, the bubbling, boiling, roiling surface of anti-creation that swallowed more than a few fishermen with the sudden storms of winds and waves that sent boats, men, and their catch to the bottom.

Jesus walks along and calls them and for some reason they follow this glutton, itinerant preacher, teacher, and healer who has no home and nothing to pay them. They leave honest labour to become dependent on the donations and care of others. They become servants of a man they do not know, of whom they perhaps have heard much, or maybe nothing. They are uneducated, working near the bottom of the human ‘food chain’ subject to little respect, but upon whom many are dependent for some of their food. Following Jesus does not elevate their status. They, like the prophets, are eventually killed for following Jesus.

God calls and leads us down paths that demand everything of us, and eventually we will (as history proves) be killed for following Jesus.

The world just does not like good, honest, gracious, and holy people. We show up the corruption that the world tries to hide as normal or necessary for life.

But what a life God calls us to!

We live fully, participating in all of creation as God created us to be able to. Sharing Grace with all we meet. We are, like Patch Adams, bullied and gaslit for being excessively happy, excessively honest, excessively kind and gracious.

It is the life that is a well lived life, more than any other. We cannot find it on our own. Only God’s Holy Spirit can guide us to this life, in our own particular way, where Grace and Truth mean more then money or privilege or comfort … or even survival.

On this path of life, called by God to be here, we see God each and every day, visible in the the beauty and pain of even the mundane of life.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 17

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Path to ?

Think you’ve seen this Path before,

Maybe, Still God Requires of Us

That We Bring Sojourn Through Life

Sharing the Fullness of Life with All People

Starting with Kindness, Truth, Justice, and Hope!

Deuteronomy 10:12

So now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

James 1:22

Be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.

Words of Grace For Today

God requires of us?

We must be doers of the word?

Luther described James as a straw Gospel. Like a straw house that the wind blows away with ease and fire burns quickly away. All chaff, no substance.

Before God requires anything of us, Before we ‘get’ to be doers of the Word, God acts.

God acts by creating us, making us able to love, which requires free choice, which means we sin and are bound to choose to sin, so God acts to forgive us, redeem us, and set us free to love, choose, sin, and God walks with us to forgive us, redeems us and set us free again and again to love ….

Always God acts first. Then we are enabled by the Holy Spirit to do what is ‘required’ of us:

to fear God, to walk in God’s ways, to serve God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength!

Make no mistake: it is everyone’s obligation to fear and love God, to walk in God’s ways, and to serve God with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength: to be DOERS of God’s Word. We do not get a pass to sit on the sidelines of life and allow EVIL to have it’s way with us and others. We are to WORK against EVIL, in all it’s forms of injustice, violence, and degradation of life.

We do not get to sit on the sidelines like those in Hottelstedt who watched train load after train load of people in cattle cars and box cars pass through their town and not work to stop the obvious extermination of masses of people, genocide to provide for a ‘pure’ Aryan nation. After the war was lost, they excused themselves that they had no idea what was happening just a few kilometres away.

Our duty includes being curious about the work of evil around us, to speak up, to speak out, and to work to stop it. We use Grace and forgiveness, giving God opportunity to rejoice at the redemption of yet more sinners.

It’s not so easy as following rules. It requires everything of us! Thank God life, all of life, has an honourable and glorious purpose! To serve God and be the ones who bring God’s will to actuality here and now … by being the bearers of forgiveness, redemption, and freedom.

What a life!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 7

Monday, September 7, 2020

Robin on Tire

Tire and Robin

I’m tire-d

But by Grace Alone I see God all around.

Sing for Joy, even if you are tired!

Jeremiah 32:19

Great in counsel and mighty in deed; whose eyes are open to all the ways of mortals, rewarding all according to their ways and according to the fruit of their doings.

1 Timothy 4:10

To this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe.

Words of Grace For Today

I’m tired. Tired of being Gaslit, by people I do not know, people I’ve known intimately, people who claimed to have loved me, people who I’ve loved, people who’ve corrupted their authority to protect and serve, people who are supposed to be religious leaders, people entrusted to exercise the law to provide justice based on truth.

I’m tired. I’m tired because it’s a whole lot of work to stay alive each day, and I’m getting old, worn and weary.

I’m tired.

I’m tired of people (without masks or shields or any protection for them or me, or without any brains about how Covid 19 kills old people and young people as well) trying to push me (yes literally push me) aside to walk past me while I’m shopping. Or people breathing at me from a foot or two telling me it’s ok that ‘I’m so close’ to them when they walked right up behind me and I have to turn around because a lift blocks the aisle ahead.

I’m tired of people lying, begin stupid, and trying to kill me, intentionally or stupidly out of ignorance.

I’m tired of people lying to steal everything I have and then trying to steal even more than the courts have lied to give to them from money that is really not mine to access, or that they really should not have access to either.

I’m tired.

Perhaps you are tired, too, of things similar, or of different Evil worked against you and people you know and care about.

Or perhaps you are not tired at all, since you have everything that you need for life, and your energetic work is about accumulating more wealth and privilege at others’ expense, so that you can get ahead in life.

For us all we read today: [God knows all and rules everywhere, and judges everyone,] rewarding all according to their ways and according to the fruit of their doings.

Yes, we can say. May it be so.

Finally Justice based on real truth for everyone! Especially those who’ve dealt with me as if I were a completely different person than I am. Justice. Let it be done, and soon!!

So we can wish. Unless we look at the sins we’ve committed to separate us from God – which are NOT what people Gaslight me or you perhaps, saying I have done. Sins that allow words that are unkind to be spoken, selfish acts to be done, and selfless acts to be undone.

Then we may be more humble, resting in God’s Grace given to us, trusting God’s wisdom not to be so simplistically applied to all, but with Grace first.

Still for those who corrupt justice, who seek to destroy others for no good reason other than the joy of the destruction, can we not hope that God’s Justice may reflect what they have done already?

So we pray: God save us, save us all from Evil. Help us each day to toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all people.

I’m tired of it all, Doch God help me rest in you, in your justice and grace.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 11

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Dance Holy Fire, Sing Holy Fire

Sing Praise

to the One who rides upon the Clouds

Who is the Light in the Clouds

Who is the Light of the World.

Psalm 68:4

Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds— his name is the Lord— be exultant before him.

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Words of Grace For Today

Our human survival instincts keep us much more alert for trouble, mindful of the troubles of the past, than basking in the good things of life.

It would have done our for-bearers little good (and we might not be here) to sit around the campfire regaling their escape from the mountain lion (who hunts humans for sport) earlier that day, letting the mountain lion pick them off in their relaxed stupor. Better to notice their success with a slight sigh of relief and continue building their defences, keeping a very alert watch for the silent hunter.

So also today we need to keep sharp, guarding ourselves against dangers of this life, much less from four legged animals, and much more from the Evil One working through two legged animals (ourselves included.)

Yet that war is already won, and the battles we are left to fight may even destroy us, but they cannot determine the outcome of the war: Jesus conquered death and all evil with his sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection to life.

While yet alert for danger, we also need to not turn everything into danger. We do need to celebrate all that God has done for us, meeting our daily needs for survival in this abundant life God provides for us. Celebrating God’s work for us, God’s protection, reminds us we cannot survive on our own, that the Evil One can snatch us away if we try to survive on our own.

Songs since the beginning of time have carried profound meaning, combining the rhythms of life, the melody of the spheres, and the words of God-given visions. Not all songs do this. Many cheapen the possibility reducing life to a crude and corrupt perversion of life as God gives it to us. Perhaps the worst version of those crude songs are ones that mention God’s name and carry little of God’s real blessing.

There are plenty of good and profound songs, the songs that carry God’s love and purpose for us give life. These we can sing to express our joy each day for all God has done for us. Some of these songs are simple chants, mantras really, like Dona nobis pacem. Others are complicated working through the darkness of life to a purpose of health and resilience, like Cohen’s Anthem. Some even bring hope and thanks to our hearts in spite of the composer’s intent, like Tikaram’s Cathedral Song. Many have no words, like Anthony’s Song of Hope.

There is no shortage of songs already composed and many more will be composed. They provide us a full song book from which we can sing God’s praise, rejoicing each day for all that was, all that is and all that will be – only by God’s Grace.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 2

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Light

Love

Hope

Even in the dark woods of life.

Deuteronomy 32:7

Remember the days of old, consider the years long past; ask your father, and he will inform you; your elders, and they will tell you.

2 Timothy 1:13

Hold to the standard of sound teaching that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

Words of Grace For Today

We do not face these days on our own.

We have not come all on our own to believe the old, old story of Jesus and his love for all creation and trust the work of the Holy Spirit. We have received for many generations the Word that gives life, the living water that quenches all thirst, and the bread of life that sustains us no matter what comes our way.

Remember.

It is a powerful ability that humans have, to remember the things of yesterday, of yesteryear, or yester-eon. We have words of language, spoken and written, heard and read, conceived and understood. The words we share carry meaning and portent beyond just themselves, for as poetry, the words of everyday communicate far more than just their meanings strung together. Our words communicate spirit, yearnings, hopes, visions … and love.

When all other necessities are provided for life, or even before, we need two things uncommonly considered the basic needs of life (Sölle): meaningful labour and love (the ability to love others unconditionally and to be loved unconditionally.)

It is part of our human drive to grasp beyond what is obvious, to create standards and rules and guides and codifications of things of meaning from our past. These cannot carry the meaning of spirit and love, but they can hint at what people of yesteryear encountered as the Holy Spirit guided them.

The worship of the standard, the piety, the rule, the guide, the codification is a natural decay of living faith. It moves us into a realm of false comfort wherein we chase control of faith.

Faith with integrity, before it decays and is still living faith, is beyond our control. Living faith, carried by living Word, is a wild ride through the pitfalls of life.

We are left …

We are left to remember what we have been taught and …

… and to encounter the Spirit anew for ourselves and …

… and we trust, hope, yearn, envision and love for ourselves all that God has given us.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 15

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

All Hail God’s Will, not our plans.

July 3

Mid-summer Night’s

Surprise

Proverbs 19:21

The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.

1 Peter 4:7-8

The end of all things is near; therefore be serious and discipline yourselves for the sake of your prayers. Above all, maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.

Words of Grace For Today

We make all sorts of plans, but God’s will will be done.

We plan a vacation sailing. God gives us life, but a storm puts us in a life raft, lost at sea, surrounded by water, with tools to save ourselves long enough that a rescue is possible. (foreshadow of tomorrow’s words.)

We plan all that we may, like a young unqualified pastor to lead us to rebuild the glory of yesteryear. But Christ’s Church is not tied to yesteryear’s model of the church, nor of our models we may contrive and build today.

In the movie, About Time, Tim’s wedding is a joyous bust, rain and wind driving the reception from under the rented tent canopies to crowd inside his parent’s home. The best man’s toast is repeatedly a disaster going from bad to worse, each time Tim uses his special gift (of all the men in his family) to go back and replay/change portions of his life. He chooses various friends to be best man and each new best man stoops to new lows in the speech.

Finally Tim asks his father to be his best man.

The first time through his father’s speech is great. But his father has second thoughts, wants to include a comment about how he loves his son. Tim says it was a great speech the way it was, but the father replays it and proclaims his love for three men in his life, not his own father, but including his son, Tim. He is proud of him.

Still, the most profound words were not those written about the father’s love for his son. They were the advice Tim’s father provides to all who would consider getting married: find someone to marry who is kind! Everything else can be worked through or around, if one’s spouse is kind.

1 Peter said it as well: maintain constant love for one another, for love covers a multitude of sins.

When we confess how much we require God’s love each day just to breathe, and live, and hope, then we can practice for others that same Gracious Love which save us and gives us life.

Love is not as complicated as we seem to make it. It is simply humbly recognizing God’s gifts, and out of endless thanks to extend that same attitude towards others.

Sin and Evil may seem powerful and omnipresent, destructive and unavoidable. It may seem we need to join in and get out of life what we can by taking from others what is for the taking.

Love is a far better way to live.

Love is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.

It is indeed good, right, and blessed that we do join in and get out of life all that God freely gives to us, so that we can share it generously with others.

Covid 19 challenges us and reveals whether we trust God’s love for us and all other people, and whether we comprehend that Jesus calls us, especially now, to be the people who are generous with all people.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 14

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Trees and Challenges OR Light and Hope

The Light

Is to Celebrate by

Jeremiah 33:10-11

Thus says the Lord: In the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without inhabitants, human or animal, there shall once more be heard the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank-offerings to the house of the Lord: ‘Give thanks to the Lord of hosts, for the Lord is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever!’ For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the Lord.

Mark 2:19

Jesus said to them, ‘The wedding-guests cannot fast while the bridegroom is with them, can they? As long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.

Words of Grace For Today

A paraphrase of Michelle Obama is going around about Covid 19. She said at the DNC 2012, “Being president doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.”

The paraphrase goes variously like this:

The stress and challenge of a pandemic, like Covid 19, does not change you, it reveals who you are.

When we live (though in cities and country-sides with houses everywhere and people once again scurrying about, the people nevertheless are or seem devoid of soul, heart and hope) in desolate uninhabitable places, sure that our lives have become a wasteland, devoid of mirth, gladness, singing, and thanks ….

When we live so afraid of the future that we dare not live in this moment as the people God created us to be: (only by Grace) good, generous with all God has entrusted to us, blessed to be a blessing to all others, bearing our crosses in order that others may know God’s Grace is for them ….

When we live so sure that there is nothing to celebrate, and we must ‘fast’, putting on the ‘sackcloth’ of our days, and grind ourselves into the work routine to make barely enough to pay the bills, smile (or really grimace) at the destruction of the vulnerable around us incapable of stopping the evil of power and privilege ….

When we live, caught by our own sins, and oppressed by others’ sins without any reason to expect it will ever change, not in our lifetimes, and not in all the generations to come ….

Then God comes,

sets the table in our midst for a feast and marvellous celebration,

invites all the downtrodden, the poor, those without hope,

and

pours out his steadfast love that endures for ever on to and into the guests, so that it spills over and out of the feast and envelops the whole earth (connecting with God’s love that holds the whole universe together).

Then we will celebrate like never before, as love which gives life overfills our hearts, minds, souls and strength.

This is not the return to a shadow of glory days long past. This is moving towards God’s will for all life. This is everything good that life can be, as God made creation to be, as God created us to be.

Though we may not experience this feast today, or yesterday, or tomorrow, our hope is renewed that this feast is ours. So we celebrate in small ways the in-breaking of the infinite into our finite vision; the table is set with bread and wine which God makes into Jesus body and blood given for us.

With our hope renewed we face the challenges of Covid 19.

The challenges do not change us, having seen and tasted God’s feast for all people, the challenges reveal who we are:

We are followers of Jesus, who celebrate his presence in and with us all. We bear our crosses, sacrificing what is entrusted to us as God’s stewards, so that others can experience God’s feast of Grace, forgiveness, and enduring, steadfast love.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 4

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Mirroring God’s Goodness with our lives in the weeds.

God’s Yes

Our amen in the weeds.

Leviticus 26:9

Give me understanding that I may learn your commandments.

2 Corinthians 1:20

For in him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’ For this reason it is through him that we say the ‘Amen’, to the glory of God.

Words of Grace For Today

Understanding to learn God’s commandments is a child’s first step in following Jesus. Next the difficult part comes in following the commandments. The ten commandments are a beginning to what following Jesus’ commandments (to love God, self, others and even ones’ enemies) are all about.

Love is a life long challenge that is worth every bit of energy and time we put into it.

We are only able to follow through because God promises to love us, accept us, forgive us, and set us on a path to follow the Holy Spirit guiding us to do God’s will.

God’s promises are always Yes to life according to God’s will.

Trusting God we can put an amen ready on our lips for every occasion.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 2

Thursday, July 2, 2020

The Pastor

A Spouse

You get the idea,

If you have a spouse

Psalm 8:2

Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

Luke 1:49

The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Words of Grace For Today

All through life we learn how to respond to challenges. We learn to tie shoes. Maybe not, since more and more shoes are just Velcro. We learn to make allowances for others while we play, then as we study (if we learn to study), then as we raise a family (if we have children), as we mature with a spouse (you get the idea: if we mature -:), as we work, and as we age, retire and kick the bucket (stubbing our toe as we most always do).

All this supposedly gives us common sense, which seems less and less common. All this supposedly gives us knowledge, which seems less and less based on reality for many. All this supposedly gives us opportunity to fill our lives with goods, which we throw away for newer, maybe better goods as if our own worth were dependent on our goods.

God, in many and various ways, keeps trying to communicate to us, hard headed and stiff-necked that we are, to show us all of this is inside-out, up-side-down, or of no consequence when it comes to being part of God’s good creation, and the goodness we are to be (in thought, word, and deed) for others and our own souls.

How great it is that God keeps communicating with us, generation after generation, day after day. Only God who is holy could bear us rascal sinners with such loving patience and grace.

It is not complicated. It is so simple that this way of being (sacrificially loving, forgiving and renewing others) can easily come from infants and young children.

We get to unlearn the world’s lessons, and practice the foolish truths that a child’s perspective on the Goodness of Creation can teach us.

Thanks be to God.

Covid 19 places huge challenges before us. The blessing in these challenges is that we have to re-orient our lives and have therein opportunity to practice again that foolishness of Christ, which brings life to all people.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – June 11

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Free, Free at Last!

In Chains, In Jail, In Guilt

We cannot see the open horizon on the Lake

and swim free

Psalm 124:7

We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped.

Acts 12:7

Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, ‘Get up quickly.’ And the chains fell off his wrists.

Words of Grace For Today

When Jesus forgives us it is amazing.

Perhaps, for us Christians who have lived in the promise of forgiveness it is not so spectacular, since it is an every day kind of thing.

For people, though, who have never realized this promise is for them, well how can we describe it?

If you have ever been in chains. If you’ve ever had your freedom taken from you. If you have, through no fault of your own, been thrown into jail … and someone came to release you, without notice … then perhaps you could understand this.

Or if you had a debt so great, there was no way you could pay it off in this lifetime, and you struggled to just meet the interest payments …

and someone unexpectedly paid off your debt, and put that much again in your account.

Or if you realized that your guilt load was so great that you simply could not make right with the many many people you’d left hurt and struggling in your wake …

and someone came and took that guilt, and gave you the ability to make things right for all the people you had hurt along the way…

Perhaps we can imagine what

freedom, being set free, actually means.

It is astounding, confusing, fear-making, exhilarating, anxiety ridden, and weightlessness in full gravity.

It is what Jesus does when he forgive us. He comes and says ‘do not be afraid,’ and we need not be afraid, such authority and calming compassion as he carries in his voice.

Then he sends us out into the harvest, to forgive others

so that they may live free.

Free to choose to allow God’s love to pour over their heart and mind, and transform their actions into moves of Grace, like an elegant swan, a confident dancer, a child filled with expectation and still calmly waiting …

for

the day

when freedom

will be here for all people

and no one will need to fear injustice

again!