Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – May 17

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Rutted Ways Ahead

Lost in the Ice

Canoe Ready

or Set in the Comfortable and Familiar

The Challenge to be

Who we are is Constant

1 Kings 8:58

Incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances, which he commanded our ancestors.

Colossians 2:6-7

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Words of Grace For Today

There are so many things to do to discipline oneself to live well.

The challenges are never ending, sometimes overwhelming, other times simple. Life without challenges is not life. The questions constantly before us are:

A. Who are we?

B. Whose are we?

Every other question is subsumed into these, and the answers we give to every other question with our living (thinking, dreaming, planning, organizing, talking, writing, and doing – or not) are also the answer to these two questions.

Once we realize and confess that we are

A. wretched sinners saved by Grace alone (not by anything we do/not do/are/aren’t), transformed continually to be Saints, and

B. God’s people by baptism into Christ,

Then we have our work cut out for us to live out the promise God creates us to be for other people: That we will bear God’s Grace and the Good News of Jesus’ saving us all, also them.

So we continue to live our lives rooted and built up in Christ, as we are established in faith.

We incline our hearts to God walking in Christ’s Way, keeping his commandments to love our neighbour and ourselves and our enemies as he has loved us.

And, as the saints in light who have gone before us have taught us, we live with overflowing gratitude.

Covid 19 has put somethings in perspective, slowed us down, kept us home, given us time to see ourselves and our families up close for hours on end, or to submerse ourselves in solitude (for those of us who live alone.)

The challenges are still great, and they tax us in new ways, and they give us new opportunities to discover who we are, and whose we are.

For this we give thanks!

The Fog of Life

Makes the Light of Christ

Visible

We Reflect God’s Perfection Imperfectly

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – May 14

Thursday, May 14, 2020

Through the fog

See

the Sticks and Stones

of Reality.

Job 13:9

Will it be well with you when he searches you out? Or can you deceive him, as one person deceives another?

2 Corinthians 13:5

Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, indeed, you fail to pass the test!

Words of Grace For Today

An exam, sample exams, test scores, failing marks, proving oneself.

All of these come into play for human examinations.

God works differently.

First, there is actually a kind of failing, of standing against the work of the Holy Spirit so doggedly and determinedly and persistently and … or something else (we simply do not know what it is that we can do to fail.) Certainly we know we all fail to be good enough; we are saved only by the Grace of God, through faith, by the work of the Holy Spirit.

That’s exactly the breaking point of our trying to determine when we fail God’s Grace so completely that we are outside God’s abundant love. We humans cannot judge it.

All we know is that God’s Grace is for us and for all others, even the most wretched sinners … as we all were before Jesus saves us …

and

still are!

There are serious deceptions that humans carry out in daily life to get the better of others for themselves. None of these work on God.

God sees right through us to the core and all the way to the core and back. God knows everything about us.

If we were planning … no (it is not IF, it is since … so) Since we all plan to try to deceive God about ourselves this is definitely something to worry about, to be fearful of, and to become existentially anxious about.

The freedom we seek is to realize our attempts at deceiving God and how futile the are, and to once again throw ourselves into God’s mercy.

We can test ourselves. If we are so out of touch with our place with God it is a good place to start some finite self-awareness. The real test has already been played out on the cross, and with the resurrection we have all passed … on Jesus’ coat-tails.

When we realize how dependent our existence is on God’s Grace, then we more often, perhaps more quickly, give up on our efforts to deceive God … and other humans … about ourselves. We learn to point to God’s Grace, and offer it to others.

The greatest freedom is ours when we no longer need to depend on our own performances at all the tests life puts in front of us. We can boldly, courageously, faithfully, and lovingly trust that Jesus is with us each step of the way … and use all our energies and focus to work to give God glory in all we attempt, give God thanks in all we accomplish, and be even more grateful that we survive all the times our attempts fail.

Covid 19 is more than a test of our health. It is a test of our ability to work with and for other humans. We will fail. We will succeed, only as God gives us the abilities and we work diligently with them.

Covid 19 may be in many ways a test of our faith.

Consider that every day we face tests of our faith.

Consider there is much we each can do, even in these times.

Testing our faith does not produce a grade or pass/fail. It is not a measure of our pasts. It is a preparation for the future. It gives us a measure compared to the saints in light, which helps us answer the question, “Is there more we can do! If so, show us!”

Prepare us. Guide us. Rescue us.

one day at a time.

Ain’t life wonderful!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – May 9

Saturday, May 9, 2020

God’s Golden Light Shines on Us!

Notice with all God has Given Us

How Much God asks:

Be Kind!

Love even your enemy!

Deuteronomy 2:7

Surely the Lord your God has blessed you in all your undertakings; he knows your going through this great wilderness.

1 Corinthians 4:2

Moreover, it is required of stewards that they should be found trustworthy.

Words of Grace For Today

God has blessed us greatly. This wilderness that we are all going through called Covid 19 pandemic affects us all differently, but we humans are ALL in this together, like it or not!

God is with us!

And

We are stewards of so much. Will we be found trustworthy as stewards who share what is given into our charge as our Creator intended we would?

Like at no other time, the whole world needs us to be faithful, active and proactive!

CBC news reported yesterday that lawsuits and hate speech abound in response to Covid 19.

Lawsuits are explained that we humans lash out at others to blame them when we are hurt, to make someone else accountable.

Hate speech is horrendous.

Quoting from:

https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/coronvirus-un-fear-xenophobia-1.5561069?cmp=newsletter_Coronavirus%20Brief_1190_26354

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the COVID-19 pandemic keeps unleashing “a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scaremongering” …. [It] is fast becoming a human rights crisis.”

Who are the targets of the hate speech?

Jews, Muslims, migrants, refugees, older persons, journalists, whistleblowers, health professional, aid workers and human rights defenders!

Guterres called on political leaders to show solidarity with all people and on educational institutions to focus on “digital literacy” at a time when “extremists are seeking to prey on captive and potentially despairing audiences.” He called on the media, especially social media, to “remove racist, misogynist and other harmful content,” on civil society to strengthen outreach to vulnerable people and on religious figures to serve as “models of mutual respect.”

“And I ask everyone, everywhere, to stand up against hate, treat each other with dignity and take every opportunity to spread kindness,” Guterres said.

There is not one person in Canada who cannot do something each day to stand up against hate, treat each other with dignity and take every opportunity to spread kindness!

I’m not one to give orders, but here is the one that counts the most:

Get to it!

Every morning remind ourselves, this is what the world needs most. God has given us abundantly, now use everything we are and have to end hate, treat everyone with dignity, and spread kindness.

That ain’t so hard.

… and …

That’s the hardness thing we will ever undertake.

Get to it!

Before it’s too late.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – May 8

Friday, May 8, 2020

one small step for humans

Steps into the Waters

Come walk wet, baptized

no matter the challenges or frustrations of this day

Psalms 119:77

Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.

Mark 1:30-31

Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

Words of Grace For Today

Since forever people have called upon God, and with various degrees of real expectation on a scale from demanded to hoped that God would respond and save them.

On the demand end of that scale of calling upon God for deliverance, the Psalm seems to reflect the old and very common perversion of faith that says: because I have done X then God must do Y for me.

It is about trying to control the uncontrollable things about life. It is trying to raise oneself above the reality of life to become a little godlet: ‘Look at me! I am so X, that I can control what happens to me, to you, in the universe, … why I even can control what God does!’

The hubris of it is astounding, or it would be, if it were not so common … to every human to some degree. After all life is cruel, short and brutish, right?

As Jesus does for Simon’s mother-in-law, why would we not want Jesus to be with us today, walking in to our elders’ sick rooms, struck with Covid 19 as they are, needing ventilators to stay alive and dialysis to cleanse the poisons from their blood?

It’s a bit harder to make this plea for Jesus’ healing with a sense of being able to demand intervention to save a life.

How are we to call upon God?

First off, if we are going to error about communication, then the best one to do this to is God. Save great exercise of kindness and politeness for those we live with and among. The people in our lives need our kindness and politeness. God, on the other hand, already knows we can be less than kind, faithful, loving, and even decent. God is not hurt by our stupidity, if we really come pleading (or angrily demanding) to God.

The gracious reality of God is that God chooses to listen to us, no matter what. God responds, most often with a chuckle and a quiet, ‘no way!’ Or too often with a tear dropping steadily in pain as God dismays at our behaviour so lacking in gratitude as we mostly are, as God must simply say, ‘No, that’s not how life works. You are free. Freedom means suffering is part of life. I am here, suffering with you. Do not let your hearts be troubled.’

Grace abounds also, and sometimes God’s answer is YES! and our request for life, health, and faith are fulfilled. Likely God had it in the works already. Or someone stepped up to make things change, or life just developed that way anyway. Those times of desperate need answered with a YES are more common than we seem to remember.

So we pray today again: God save us! Save us from ourselves, from each other, from the works of the Devil in us all. Save us from destruction, pain, illness, and death. Save others. Do this because you, God, choose. Do this because it will give witness that you watch over your people. Do this for whatever reason, but please do this for us, today; if that is not too much to ask.

Few if any of us can pray, save us from this Covid 19 pandemic; because almost all of us have already suffered some loss because of it. We can pray, loudly, clearly and hopefully,

God deliver us, that we may live to give you the glory!

Today …

Today we can start giving God the glory: be thankful for everything we have.

Share with those who desperately need what we take for granted.

Laugh heartily at the good things, the humorous things that surround us each day.

Smile gently at those you meet; we are almost all struggling in some way, more so these days.

Catching Rays

Look up to see the Light

Life is colourful, and most coloured by our attitude. Life is beautiful.

Be part of that beauty at your core.

God’s Glory Visible

When the day is done, beauty is splendiforous.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – May 7

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Daffodile

A Rose by any name is still a Rose

even if we have a daffodile

Nehemiah 9:17

You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and you did not forsake them.

2 Timothy 2:13

If we are faithless, God remains faithful – for God cannot deny Godself.

Words of Grace For Today

God is often seen (as God is reflected often in Scripture) as a wrathful, judging, and destroying God … God who we need fear, obey, and worship.

Amidst this rough view of God, a reflection of our image of ourselves on to God, these words of God’s character repeat often in scripture:

God is ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

These words are taken up into our liturgy. We repeat them Sunday after Sunday (perhaps not every Sunday if our congregation uses many of the liturgies available to keep our hearts and minds freshly engaged by the Word, also the Word in liturgies.) That is one of the benefits of liturgies moulded for centuries on scripture, repeated and repeated and repeated … the words are so familiar that we know them as our Good Shepherd’s voice for us!

This promise of God is … amazing!

It is filled with that amazing grace that saves wretches like us!

We all need forgiveness, from God and countless other people. We need God to be gracious and merciful to us, to be slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

As God is to us, God creates us, Jesus calls us, and the Holy Spirit equips and inspires us to be to all other people:

forgiving,

gracious and merciful,

slow to anger,

and abounding in steadfast love!

Even when we no longer have even a tiny trace of faith or hope or love or mercy or grace or forgiveness in us, (due to whatever Evil or stress, even Covid 19 and it’s side effects on us all) God is still faithful.

God is still faithful!

God remains always faithful to even the most terrible wretches, like us.

God is always faithful,

simply because that is who God is!

wild rose

A Rose

Yearning 3

Yearning for Everythings to be put Right

In darkness of our enemies’ making
we are yearning for the light,
for the moon to shine,
for the end of night.

A Little more moon

We are yearning for things

Skewed by the Devil’s might

to be put back right.

Christ alone can douse us rags

in the Spirit’s precious light,

safe in God’s forgiving crags,

resetting all things coloured bright.

All Right?

Yearning 2

Yearning for Everythings to be put Right

In darkness of our own making
we are yearning for the light,
for the moon to shine,
for the end of night.

moon shine, moon light

We are yearning for things

Skewed by the Devil’s might

to be put back right.

Christ alone can douse us rags

in the Spirit’s precious light,

safe in God’s forgiving crags,

resetting all things coloured bright.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – May 6

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Moon fog

Caught in Darkness?

water drops

The Light will Shine

And be reflected by all water and life in Creation

Isaiah 42:16

I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.

Luke 1:78-79

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Words of Grace For Today

Darkness. Total, deep, profound darkness of the soul. No light at the end of the tunnel.

When we find ourselves there, to put it into cosmic terms, in a black hole that pulls everything around it into nothingness …

When we find ourselves there it seems that everything is lost, not only things that build a sense of continuity and security (like jobs, homes, family, church, and even the tool that enables one to create – a camera, a pencil, a computer, a canvas), not just life and all good life at that for us and for creation, but meaning, history, presence and future ….

When time and hope are lost into the void and emptiness that is left to us, then only memory of, or re-spoken promises made in the past, or that little light at the end of the vortex can save us from going totally bonkers.

Covid 19’s threat (the lock-down, our isolations, our ‘staying the blazes home’, our financial concerns, the risk to our and our loved ones’ health and lives), for most of us does not approach the vortex of a black hole where no light exists. For some of us it does.

Whether its a total black out, or a brown out, or we have already gone a bit bonkers so that it all looks like dark colours everywhere …

However this affects us,

We yearn for Light, if yearning is still possible.

God promises to turn darkness into light, rough places into level ground. The dawn from on high breaks in on us in darkness, in the shadow of death, and guides us in the way of peace.

That’s the promise that we can remember … if we can remember.

That’s the promise that we can re-speak for others … when they cannot remember, we can, and we can still speak.

That’s the promise that we need to re-speak, to proclaim with all the vivid colours of the rainbow splashing about …

because even if we do not notice them, there is someone onto whom those colours (carrying Light) will splash.

And they will be saved from the vortex of absolute darkness, by our generous, reckless, prodigal re-speaking a promise that created, redeemed, and guides this whole universe of creation to be able to seek peace.

Peace is not something we attain and hold on to.

Peace is a manner of being in this universe, when participated in brings us to reflect God’s intent for us, but which is lost as quickly as a candle is snuffed out by even a gentle breeze.

Peace be with you, also this day, whatever this day is for you.

Splash and be splashed by the Light and Colours of the rainbow, God’s rainbow of promise, faith, hope, love, grace, and life – abundant life.

kiltered sunset tree

We may be off kilter a bit

Doch God’s Light Shines

in full colour for even us!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – May 3

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Balance is not easy to find.

Beauty and Peace are as difficult.

God guides us to both, as gift and blessing unearned.

2 Samuel 2:26

Then Abner called to Joab, ‘Is the sword to keep devouring for ever? Do you not know that the end will be bitter? How long will it be before you order your people to turn from the pursuit of their kinsmen?’

1 Corinthians 7:15

But if the unbelieving partner separates, let it be so; in such a case the brother or sister is not bound. It is to peace that God has called you.

Words of Grace For Today

God calls us to peace.

Peace between nations, between people, between spouses, and peace within ourselves.

Peace is much more than the absence of conflict.

Given merely the absence of conflict we humans always find our way into open conflict quite easily. It is because everyone is wrong about something, and they still think they are right. [Except of course me. I’m always right. Right?]

Girard provides that it is more complex than that, involving mimetic desires that lead to competition, which is ‘resolved’ through scapegoating. We compete with each other for what we see as limited resources/things. Aware we cannot afford open conflict with our closest friends we project our conflict on to some innocent, vulnerable bystander. Seeing that innocent as the source of our problem we destroy that person. Our urge to compete and destroy is ‘satisfied’, the thing we competed for becomes insignificant, and we are able to return to a ‘peaceful’ co-existence.

Except for the innocent person we’ve gaslit, attacked, destroyed and most often exiled or killed.

And except that, since we are not entirely oblivious to reality, we know we are now guilty of ruining an innocent person, of not working out our conflict with each other, and the root cause of that conflict is not addressed. It just goes underground in both of us, in our relationship, only to re-emerge at a later date. Then it will be an even less comprehensible conflict, which we will ‘resolve’ by destroying yet another innocent bystander.

Peace must be diligently sought anew each hour of each day, or it is lost. And it is lost long before anyone notices any conflict arising.

Peace is lost when we no longer see the souls of other people, for whom Jesus died, as the most important part of our own lives, when we no longer give everything we are to provide care for those in our daily lives, or when we no longer work to meet the needs and satisfy the yearnings of those with whom our lives are intertwined.

Peace is a marvellous way of being. It is fragile and can disappear in an instant with a [wrong] word or deed. It is threatened most by an errant thought.

God gives us peace. We can treasure it, with our hearts, minds, and strength.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – May 2

Saturday, May 2, 2020

Out of Darkness

Jesus saves us

so that we can contribute to the Kingdom

sacrificing ourselves that others may live abundantly.

Psalms 51:13

Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.

Colossians 1:3.13

In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son

Words of Grace For Today

Rescued from the darkness

It was cold and dark. Dangerously dark, though not even winter cold, yet. Spending the night in the woods miles from anywhere was not the plan.

It was just a hike on a trail being developed, this portion already well planned, if not clearly marked. We arrived climbing up the side of the huge rock to our right, on to the second level of that rock as it overlooked a small lake below. The trail seemed to peter out across the gentle downward slope of the rock face toward the lake and further to the right around that side of the lake.

But then there was just a sheer drop of a few metres into the lake, or the effectively solid wall of trees to the right barring any progress on that side of the lake. There were no signs of a trail around the left side of the lake either and other large rocks jutted out over the lake around that side.

The danger from the dark was not that it was pitch black. It was already dusk and we had miles to go. I was experienced outdoors, but the three with me were not and two were young children. Dark, the real dark that was coming, meant stumbling lost all night, or bedding down in the wet and cold. It had just started to rain as I searched for the trail forward from that rock we ended up on.

Finally I came up with a plan. I’d walk back two miles to where the trail took a turn and was well marked. With flashlight in hand I would retrace our steps.

Huffing, tired, and being spit on from above, cold, I trudged back step by step through the miles, and then returned. Nothing. The obvious trail had no other possible turns as it joined a creek that ran into the lake we had stopped at. As the hard face of that huge rock came up to shoulder height I saw to the left the creek water through the underbrush. It was maybe, yes, it was sort of a path, and then there on the tree on the left side of the trail was a trail-marker arrow. A turn back to the left and quickly down, with a quick switchback to the right and one arrived at a bridge of two logs over the creek.

I lifted my feet as my spirits were lifted. We were not lost. I found the others on the rock overlooking the lake, huddled together for warmth under a rain poncho to keep themselves dry.

We worked our way, sometimes with flashlights down over the creek and up high on the huge rocks along the lake and back down near the wet outflow on the far side of that lake, and onward over roots, and around huge 5 foot diameter trees, through the rain forest, back to the vehicle we’d parked near northwest edge of the small town we called home.

A hot shower, prayers of thanks.

We were rescued, once again, from the darkness by the Grace of God.

It is as easy to lose ourselves in the forest of challenges presented to us, now also because of Covid 19. It is easy to miss an obvious turn because we’ve lost ourselves in the darkness of despair or exhaustion or laziness or disorientation.

Always, God sends us others, or sometimes a clear plan, to help us find our way forward, so that we are there for others as well tomorrow.