Oppressed, Afflicted, Abused … and Silent!

Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Beautiful Light of Christ,

Will Reveal the Truth and the Lies

About Every Moment of Our Lives,

this we trust, so we live free!

Isaiah 53:7

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.

1 Peter 2:23

When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.

Words of Grace For Today

The urge for all humans is to respond to attacks with attacks of ones own, but with a greater intensity.

This leads to wars on a personal scale in marriages, among family and friends, within communities, countries and between countries. It leads us into the worst that humans can bring to bear on one another, so horrible much of it is unspeakable.

What am I to do about the RCMP Jones who fabricated evidence and coordinated others to bring false reports, who did this just because she could, even though I was innocent and bewildered at why or how anyone would do such a thing?

What am I to do about my ex who created so many lies about our life together that life became unbearable, and no matter what I tried or sacrificed or gave her she only created more worse lies about me and our life together, and then created more and more lies for the courts, lies that I could not even imagine where they came from? Or the children who came to court to lie as well, trying to get me falsely convicted? Or the prosecutors who gleefully took the cases, presented the lies to teh courts and created more and more lies on their own for the courts to hear? Or the lawyers who were supposed to be my lawyers or work to inform me of the court processes, and simply did none of that, instead tried to make my testimony totally useless in court?

What am I to do with the judges themselves, who received these lies eagerly, and made ruling after ruling to enable a false conviction, and when all the evidence was in they still had to lie about the evidence in order to falsely convict me, and especially those who did it so cruelly, naming my kindness as something that had created fear, as if my kindness could at all create fear!? Or the judges who removed sections of testimony and then played games and made up more lies to ensure I spent $1ks with no hope of hearing the audio of the section that was removed from the transcripts?! And on and on go the inexplicably dishonest and cruel things that people with authority did in order to convict me and send me to jail for crimes that I did not commit, which left the children suffering cruel borderline personality disordered ‘parenting’!

What am I to do with the pastor, bishop, doctors, office managers, church council people, community leaders and many others who joined in the creating of lies about me, so that I am cut off from my church, cannot receive medical care even as my health requires more and more medical intervention, am not safe in the community as on many occasions people put my life at risk, some violently, some with reckless breaching of Health Orders, and some with threats to my person, well being, and survival?

My list is not complete even at that, and there is more and more that time reveals to me that I did not know of, and so much more that I will never know about, yet billions of people today and through history have stories that are so much worse!

What are we to do with such terrible evil directed at us, often (as is my case) with no rationale reason that it the evil be directed at us?! There is plenty of random, senseless destruction of life, but this is focused and directed evil against us, though there is no reason for us being chosen, except some insane perversion of reality. What are we, the victims of this destruction and evil to do? What are the rest of you people, who are not the victims of such senseless, useless, and avoidable evil, supposed to do?

What are we to do when it is impossible to judge 100% correctly who is doing what to bring about such atrocities against innocent people?

Jesus says forgive as we are forgiven. This brings us freedom from being victims to being blessed by God!

What if the sins are not even acknowledged by more than a handful of people, and otherwise the evil is continued by the same people, choosing new victims as the violence and destruction mounts and becomes systemic?

I have forgiven those who suffer mental illness, my ex, and the children effected by her.

I cannot forgive the others, especially those with authority and position, who are responsible to ensure this kind of injustice does not happen. I also cannot respond with increased vengeance or violence and destruction. I will not allow myself to become like them.

I have bound their sins, and made it known so that they have opportunity to amend their lives, and God can celebrate a victory first that their destructive evil is acknowledged and stopped, and God can celebrate a second victory, that they have received freedom from the Great Deceiver’s grip and begun to life a life of service to Jesus the Christ.

Binding sins is not to be judge over others. Binding sins is not to condemn others. Binding sins leaves the judging and the punishments or mercies to be in God’s hands. It makes known what has been done, even when it cannot always be known completely who has contributed knowingly or unwittingly participated.

Binding sins does bring the victim freedom from being a victim, and allows one to stand blessed each day.

The Suffering Servant of Isaiah, and Jesus (reported also in 1 Peter), do not even respond with a declaration of the evil done and the binding of sins. They suffer in silence the violence done to them. This may seem to some to be the better response. I cannot agree. One needs identify evil and hope that the perpetrators will amend their lives, or at least, as a ‘civilized’ society we will collectively recognize the evils done against so many innocent people.

One cannot live well and seek revenge, though.

Lies are lies forever, always without end.

Truth is truth, always and forever.

God’s Grace gives us boldness to be those who forgive and who bind sins. Without it we would be left breathless. With it we are given breath each day by the Holy Spirit.

Thanks be to God!

Comfort, Comfort

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Looking

To

Each

New Day

Isaiah 40:1

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God.

Luke 9:11

When the crowds found out [that, taking his disciples with him, Jesus had withdrawn privately to a city called Bethsaida], they followed him; and he welcomed them, and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed to be cured.

Words of Grace For Today

There is no shortage of people today who suffer unimaginable pain, hunger, thirst, and torture. Many of the suffer so at the hands of other people.

It has been so through all time.

Many people today suffer diseases, Covid -19 only one of the many that are deadly in horrible ways. Many suffer for lack of care or recklessness of other people. Many in Alberta’s health care sector, overrun and pushed to and over the brink as they are by Covid cases, refer to the fourth wave (the worst of all of them) as the Kenney-wave, since he recklessly pushed his ‘Open for Summer’ program through, which fuelled the fourth wave to be so huge and destructive, and deadly.

Is has been so through all time.

The greatest suffering by far is not measured by physical ailments or torture. The greatest suffering is what we humans experience in our souls, or spirits, or hearts and minds.

In the midst of all kinds of suffering, God is still present providing comfort, healing, and hope.

God’s unconditional love in action provides the most essential element of life for us: hope.

Hope that our yesterdays will be blessed.

Hope that today will be blessed.

Hope that our tomorrows will be blessed.

Hope that tomorrow will be at least in some small way better than the horrific illnesses, injustice, abuse that is today’s offerings for us.

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God, and [Jesus] heals those who need to be cured.

Singing and Dancing

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Every Step In Life

Leads Us to Sing and Dance

For God Is With Us

Always.

1 Chronicles 13:8

David and all Israel were dancing before God with all their might, with song and lyres and harps and tambourines and cymbals and trumpets.

Philippians 4:4-5

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

Words of Grace For Today

When one surveys through memory how God has exercised great grace and steadfast love for our ancestors and for us in this time and place, there is only one response that we can engage in:

We sing and dance before God with all our might.

And we work each day to let our gentleness be the mode of our lives, gentleness that is born of enduring great suffering, and still receiving great grace and deliverance by God’s hand, for God is always near.

So we sing with all our hearts, minds, and strength, singing the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

This is the dance that celebrates everything that is good in creation: God’s grace and love for us all. There is nothing better possible than this in all our lives.

Perishing and Surviving (for real!)

Thursday, August 12, 2021

We can arm ourselves

as much as we wish.

Only God’s Blessings

Can Save Us From the Real Enemy.

Psalm 9:3

My enemies turned back, they stumbled and perished before you.

Ephesians 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

Words of Grace For Today

There are wonderful words to be able to speak about the challenges of life and the enemies that would do us in, such as:

My enemies turned back, they stumbled and perished before you.

Or even less concrete, though much more valuable:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.

We need more than enemies that stumble and perish, we need more than the physical results of force that cost our enemies their lives. We need … well we need God on our side, or rather we need some hope that we can be seen by God to be on God’s size. Well, more than seen … we need to know that God has us on God’s side.

What we know, in our honest moments, is that there is no way on this blessed earth that we even know how to be on God’s side all the time, or even sometimes for more than a moment or two, if that.

So how can we even hope that God will ensure we are on God’s side?

We have only God’s word, God’s promises, and Jesus’ story, which is as much as we will get, and

more than we need.

God walks with us. We are not doing what God wants us to do all the time. God ensures we do God’s will as much as God can guide us to do so, sometimes in spite of us or what seems to be by accident by us. God certainly does get wondrous works out of us saints.

The greatest work begins as we confess and give God thanks that Jesus has brought God’s grace to bear on us. This great work is oft repeated, as many times as we stray from God’s will for us, which is so many times we cannot count them even those in one of our days. This work is completed when we show God’s grace to others so that they may know God as the One who walks with them, graciously bringing them to abundant life.

When we do that we know once again without a doubt that God

has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

and God has blessed us in Christ with every creaturely blessing in the concrete earthly places that God gives us to walk in and through for our days in God’s blessed creation.

The world is after all God’s and God blesses us to live in it, to life abundantly in it, as God’s Grace-made saints.

Why Lord, Why?!!

Wednesday, July 14, 2021

Lord, Why When the Light is Right in Front of Us

Do We Still Seek the Darkness?

Isaiah 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.

Galatians 5:1

For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.

Words of Grace For Today

God, why …?

God why is it so hot!

Sweat pours down my back and arms and all over dripping all my work in stinky wet.

My jeans stick to my legs as I try to move. My shirt tugs back at all my efforts to move. It’s hard to get anything done, and when I do I feel like someone has wrung me out like a sopping wet towel and left me still soaking and stinking.

Ok, God, I can get used to the heat, it’s not easy but I’m adapting to it, but

God why are there so many miserable mosquitoes ready to bite me at all hours and at dawn and dusk they swarm so thick it’s hard not to inhale more than a few just walking a few feet from the door. When they bite it hurts, and then goes away, just to come back with a terrible itch that simply will not go away and will not be ignored! What’s that about anyway. If I try to ignore them and merely wash the itch away with ammonia in the glass cleaner, that sort of works until I get itchy all over inside my eyes, my nose, my throat and my ears and I start to have a severe allergic reaction that starts to take my breath away. Really, does it have to be so bad all summer long!? I have to wear long jeans and long sleeves, thick socks and a hat with flaps down my neck and over my ears soaked in DEET to keep them away. Then every night I have to wash all that DEET exposure away before I sleep which takes water which is expensive to haul here to have to wash with. Fortunately I have friends who have loaned me the things needed to shower each night and haul water often enough from town that I can shower on the hot days before sleeping.

So God I guess I can get used to the mosquitoes, but God, I mean really: does there have to be so many black gnats that dive bomb into my face, my eyes and ears and take little chunks away as prizes for their kamikaze efforts, which because they are so many they usually survive better than I. I end up breathing them into my lungs at least once a day. I have to constantly wave my hand in front of my face to keep them away, which sort of works and they only seem to be out in certain places while I am mowing grass. So it’s not all the time, thankfully.

So God I guess I have figured out how to survive even the kamikaze gnats.

But God why are there so many wasps, not just ready to bite me when I try to work on the tarps that shelter me from the cold in winter. They did sting me, hard sending shock waves through my body and brain freezing out all other thoughts or impulses except to run. Not just once, but twice, and they hurt unbearably for hours, then itched and ached for days. The memory returned fresh each time I stepped outside and the sound of a wasp buzz reached my ears. I live in fear everyday of being smashed into panic again. I cannot have that. I cannot work. I have to huddle in fear inside.

That just cannot be. So I’ve made a suit to protect me from head to toe, even a piece of screen left over from repairs to guard my face, all duct taped together with no gaps at all. I’ve read on the internet that dish soap will suffocate wasps. I cannot find any prepared wasp control/killer spray, so I’ve filled a spray bottle with a water soap mix and I’ve destroyed the nest on the tarps, and three in the woods so close they wasps swarm around the camper each day.

So God I guess I’ve figured out how to deal with the fear created by being stung by wasps, and in the fall they will all dies off. Next spring I know what to do to keep them from creating nest here again. It’s simple if I am ready.

But God I really don’t know what to do with the people that gaslight me, that scapegoat me, that bear false witness against me, and the judges that lie about the evidence before them in order to convict me and deny me true justice. How can a society survive such barbarism anyway. It’s like the truth does not count for anything and whatever someone makes up for the courts and whatever the courts want to make up for themselves will be taken in the worse possible way for me, and I’ll pay and pay and pay until I have nothing left and still I’ll be driven into debt, further and further and further, and made to give up even the most common decent truths about myself. I have had to celebrate the Eucharist each day to remember that you too were betrayed and scapegoated and convicted and … well you were crucified. I have not been killed. I have found your blessings in each day in the most profound and simple things, like having enough to eat, and a good cup of coffee with fresh milk in it in the morning, and having medications I need, and having reason and opportunity to work hard to survive, and write and dream and use photography to speak about the wonders of your creation.

So God, I guess I have gotten used to evil all around in the most trusted, honoured places in society in this adopted country of mine. I have to remember how much you forgive me, so that I can remember that you may forgive these people as well, though now I cannot say their sins are forgiven, for they have not admitted they did and still do this same thing to others, and it is horrendous for the children. So I have bound their sins so that they might fear that they will answer to you, though with you I hope for a double victory, now that they provide justice based on truth, and that they join your people in celebrating all your gifts, encouraging others to do the same.

But Lord, it’s so hot, there’s so many mosquitoes and gnats and wasps and so many enemies of goodness, kindness, truth, and love. How can I deal with all of them all the time.

So I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep

and if I die before I wake, least I won’t wonder how much is still at stake

for the dance of life is more than a dance, gracefully, graciously partaken in.

It is also a feast and celebration with you, God, with all your people, in thanks for all you’ve suffered to do good things for us all.

So I guess I can wait for the cold, when the sweat will not run freely, the mosquitoes will be done for another year, the gnats will disappear and I can breathe easy, and the evil people are kept at bay by the cold and snow.

But God why does it have to be so cold and stormy, and why does there have to be so much snow.

I mean I like to have my peace and be able to ski ….

So Lord I pray, give me your peace, in the sleep of the righteous and pure, graciously so made a saint of your light by your own choice and by grace through faith alone.

Another simple normal summer day.

When does autumn start to arrive?

But Lord, why do the bears start to come around in the fall …..?

Lord, whatever it is that holds me captive, free me. Whatever it is that blinds me, give me sight. Whatever it is that robs me of joy while serving you and sharing the good news of your Grace with others, take this from me so that

because you give me life

I can be one of the saints who bring good news to the oppressed, who bind up the broken-hearted, who proclaim liberty to the captives and release to the prisoners.

Help me live in the freedom you have so preciously bought for me; help me not return to the slavery that I know so well and feels so comfortable … until it binds me so close to evil that life starts to shrivel right out of me leaving me alone with my fears.

Deliverance, Full Deliverance

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sometimes by Fire

Sometimes by Water

Always God Delivers Us

Psalm 3:8

Deliverance belongs to the Lord; may your blessing be on your people! Selah

Matthew 9:35

Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and curing every disease and every sickness.

Words of Grace For Today

God delivers people … everyday …

and sends us who have been delivered out into the world

to deliver others

by proclaiming God’s Grace

and providing healing for all kinds of illness and disease (and dis-ease with God’s love as that which holds the world together.

Palm Passion Sunday and it’s been a year or more since we’ve had in person worship.

God delivers us …

from the anchors of old diseased habits of worship

and allows us a fresh start, thinking about what is healing in worship, what is proclaiming in worship, what is short term and long term ‘good order’ and instilling and inspiring of good faith in us.

What a challenge this last year has been, or rather what a collection of challenges, some overwhelmingly so.

What an opportunity this last year has been, or rather a collection of opportunities, some astoundingly, refreshingly life-giving (that is, healing of mind, body, and spirit.)

Thanks be to God, to whom deliverance belongs, and who has delivered us with love demonstrated at great cost … so that we might comprehend the vastness of God’s Grace and Love.

On that we can ground all hope, no matter the challenges that overwhelm us!

When we have eaten our fill …

Saturday, March 27, 2021

No Matter How Luxurious Our Homes

Remember with Thanks

That God Provides Everything Good for Us

Deuteronomy 8:12-14

When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Words of Grace For Today

When one lives in ones own land, owns a home, has possessions that provide food security and financial security (or the appearance thereof), and has seen increases from generation to generation then…

then it is all too easy to forget one’s past.

It is all too easy to forget one’s sins.

It is all too easy to forget God’s great miracles that have and still do deliver us all daily, because it may appear to us that we are captains of our own fate and that we have delivered ourselves and worked hard to earn all we have.

All possessions, position and power, security and safety can disappear in a minute.

There is no real life that forgets one’s past, one’s ancestors’ past, and God’s good works in the past … and in the present.

The only real life that is worth a moment’s participation is to live filled with gratitude for all God provides.

Breathe.

Breathe again.

Breathe deeply and slowly … and again.

That is God’s gift most basic: that we can breathe and their is air that sustains life. Everything else that sustains our lives are also gifts from God.

Real living is wonderfully experienced as God’s overly generous gifts for us, though we deserve none of it, and only because God finds that we are precious.

God finds all other people precious, and in our thanks for all God gives us, God asks us to be the conduits of God’s demonstrating to all others how precious they are.

Messengers of God’s Word

Sunday, March 7, 2021

God’s Word

Is Fire

In Our Hearts

and All Creation!

Jeremiah 1:17

But you, gird up your loins; stand up and tell them everything that I command you. Do not break down before them, or I will break you before them.

2 Corinthians 4:5

For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.

Words of Grace For Today

It is sometimes presented as a glorious calling that we receive in our baptisms: to serve Christ, to proclaim Christ, to obey Christ.

Jeremiah (though before Christ’s life in time on earth) knew well the calling to serve God, to proclaim God’s Word, and to obey God.

God makes it clear: Jeremiah is to proclaim God’s Word, clearly, loudly. He should not break down in front of powerful people or great rulers or in front of anyone. If he does God will show the powerful people and great rulers and everyone else how much more powerful God is than they: he will break Jeremiah as an example, a warning to them.

Driven by God’s command and warning Jeremiah proclaims God’s Word. Most people do not want to hear it and turn on him, the messenger, as if that could ever stop God’s Word! Jeremiah suffers humilities and punishments that would break most people. He survives and continues to proclaim God’s Word, the true inconvenient Word of God, to an obstinate people. Sometimes it is a Word of judgment and warning, other times it is a Word of love, forgiveness, renewal and hope. The people really do not want to hear any of it; for hearing any of it at all, any at all, requires that they recognize their own sins, confess them and return to serve God alone.

They are having too much of a good time serving themselves. They are having to lousy a time suffering as slaves for foreign powers. They do not want God to change things. They want to change things themselves for themselves. They want to become the oppressors of other peoples so that they can enjoy lives of privilege and power and comfort. God will have none of it.

God desires that all people receive life abundant.

Proclaiming Christ’s Word is exactly that. It’s not admonishments to good living. It’s not threats to live moral lives. It’s not an escape route from suffering and sin. It’s not some holy panacea pill that solves every ill.

Christ’s Word is the old, old story of Jesus and his love; God’s clearest demonstration of God’s unconditionally loving attitude toward all people. When that hit’s us, it’s a life changer, not just the first time but every time we hear it and listen. The Holy Spirit sweeps us off our stayed or escaping feet right into the lap of God’s mercy, love and hope, and then the power of the Spirit inspires us and moves us to exercise that same mercy, love and hope for all other people … so that all people have life abundant.

As messengers of Christ’s Word, we also will be persecuted, riled against, and unjustly blamed for things beyond our possible doing. Welcome to Jeremiah’s club, the club of God’s messengers sent to proclaim God’s Word. God’s Word, the fire giving life to our hearts and all creation.

What a life!

God’s Way Through Our Mesh and Messes

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Too Often We See the Light of Christ

Through the Mesh and Mess of Our Shortcomings.

Still Christ’ Light Shines

In and Through Us

to All People!

Genesis 18:3

He said, ‘My lord, if I find favour with you, do not pass by your servant.’

Luke 19:5

When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, ‘Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.’

Words of Grace For Today

When a king comes to town for a visit, unannounced (because there is no internet, or post, or telephone – either our past or our future) then we may want the king to stay with us, maybe.

First it would be life-death important to know how the king is disposed to us! If the king has come to find traitors and suspects us, will see what is not a betrayal, but something that the king will use as an excuse to vent his anger at being betrayed … well then obviously we might not want the king to come stay with us.

If the king, despite our ‘indiscretions’, is forgiving, and is favourably disposed to us, then it would be a great honour to have the kind stay with us.

Thus Abraham’s invitation seems understandable, “Come stay with us, if we have found favour with you.”

It’s a bit more complicated, since Abraham is sitting in a nomad’s tent, where the law of the desert, seldom ignored, is that out in the barren, isolated hard lands anyone seeking refuge from the heat and sands will be welcomed in, and welcomed in will be protected from all danger, even from one’s own desire for revenge if this is one’s enemy. As enemies go the desert is a greater enemy. Thus when three strangers stand in front of Abraham, who has made untold enemies in his journey up and down the golden tradeways from Ur to Egypt, Abraham may not know if they are enemies or not. He may be letting an enemy in three parts enter his tents, trusting the rule of hospitality will keep him safe, and will not put him in the middle of a fight these men have with others, others who may or may not honour the law of hospitality.

Perhaps Abraham hedges his bets, so to speak, and offers hospitality, if he has found favour with these three men.

Another piece of the complications is that this is not a known king, or just any passer-by either. This is three men. Not just men. Whether Abraham knows it or not the narrator tells us that this is the Lord, this is God. Three men are God. So not so simple, whether Abraham is in the know or not.

Perhaps Abraham really hedges all his bets, so to speak, and offers God hospitality, but only if he has found favour with God. What a way to find out where one sits with God! What a risk! What a wager Abraham makes, for if he has found favour with God and these three demonstrate to him he has, and others hear of it, Abraham’s reputation will increase immensely!

Pause a bit to notice in all these considerations I have led us to pass up one obvious thing: if these three strangers need hospitality, then they ought to be the one’s asking Abraham, ‘If we have found favour with you, sir, may we stop and rest within your hospitality.’

Stories about God’s interactions with us are always something different than we should expect.

Jesus’ story is one such unexpected development after another, always with a twist or seventy, to keep us on our toes about what we think Jesus is about and what God is trying to demonstrate to us with Jesus’ life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension.

Good people, travelling about as Jesus did, teaching in the synagogues and to the people (if the traveller teachers were honourable people) did not mix with dishonourable people. They avoided ‘unclean’ people because it made them unclean and therefore unable to enter the synagogue until they had completed the purification ritual that lasted days.

Reminds us of obligatory self-quarantine requirements of travellers and those with close contacts with people diagnosed with Covid-19!

Zacchaeus was anything but honourable. He collected taxes for Rome, able to exact from whomever whatever he wished in order to collect his allotment. He got to keep any extra he collected. Tax collectors were wealthy and hated; the preyed upon those from whom they could take the most with the least ability to protect themselves. They hardly collected from the influential and really wealthy people who could exact their own revenge against any tax collector taking anything but a token tax from them. Tax collectors were hated, really hated and really feared. One did not want to end up on the wrong side of a tax collector who could ruin you financially, or if you resisted, could have you jailed for debts.

Jesus interaction with Zacchaeus is exemplary of what Jesus demonstrates to us. Jesus does not stand at all on norms or expectations. Jesus stomps all over them, not to stomp on them but to point to something that norms and expectations violate: God’s unconditional love for everyone.

Again the invite is backwards, given by the one who ought to be the invitee. It would be Zacchaeus’ honour to host Jesus. Zacchaeus is more than curious about Jesus. He works to overcome his own shortcomings and short stature (real and figuratively) to get a view of Jesus. Zacchaeus should be inviting Jesus to stay with him, begging for the honour of Jesus’ presence in his ill-gotten and supplied home. – If you have not caught this in reading the Zacchaeus story, we are all equated to Zacchaeus; we should all be desperate to invite Jesus into our lives, and all we do is try to overcome our shortcomings and lack of standing in the Kingdom of God in order to get at least a glance of God’s own Son, Jesus. As if that is enough, or as if we actually could every overcome our shortcomings, our sins.

Instead Jesus is the one who sees Zacchaeus (us), and Jesus invites himself to Zacchaeus’ home (our lives). When Jesus arrives Zacchaeus is converted from a lost soul to one of Jesus’ followers. Zacchaeus moves from Jesus’ presence back into his own life … in order to make things right that he has made so wrong.

Jesus arrives in our lives (well we notice Jesus’ presence as an arrival even though he’s been there since before we were conceived – God is always with us!) and our first steps are to put things as right as we can in our lives, for those we have done harm to. Like Zacchaeus our putting things right for others is a good step toward doing ourselves something good too, not in order to gain something, but in response to being given everything, namely we have been given God’s favour.

Jesus will seem to arrive again and again in our lives. Today what are we going to put right in response to God’s greatest blessing, namely that God walks with us through everything, that Jesus has made his home in our lives, forgiving us our sins in order that we might forgiven all other people and make things as right as we can.

Lord, if we … no, that’s not how it goes for us that trust God walks with us. We say instead: ‘Lord, since we have found favour with you, and you abide with us, what can we do for you this day?!’

Meeting Each Day with Creativity and Trust

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

We are hardly the first

to be challenged by

winter’s cold or a pandemic’s destruction.

We follow those who have gone before,

treasuring most of all our faith.

Psalm 56:11

In God I trust; I am not afraid. What can a mere mortal do to me?

2 Timothy 1:14

Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

Words of Grace For Today

A great uncle of mine, Sven, arrived in the new land (at least so goes the legend), as many Swedish, German, Norwegian, Scottish, Ukrainian, and many others (from even more nations in later decades) also arrived in the new land to be given a quarter section to homestead. Arriving in early summer the first task was to make a temporary ‘home’. There were no RV’s, mobile homes, RTM’s or Atco Units. He felled a number of think pine trees with an axe and piled the pine boughs on an A-frame of pine poles to keep most of the rain out. The bugs could not be helped. He went hunting for meat. Then he cleared a small patch of land and planted a crop that might just produce potatoes, peas, beans and carrots before freeze up. He went hunting for meat. Then he dug out a hole and piled up the dirt around it as walls, covered it with pine poles at a sharp pitch, and wove pine boughs in four layers to hold out the rain and snow. He went hunting for meat. He put in the wood stove he had saved for, stacked up a great pile of firewood, and built a simple bed, chair and table. That would have to do to get him through the coming winter. He went hunting for meat. The bear skins from the bears he shot would be his blanket in the coldest of the coming cold nights.

Each night he gave God thanks for this opportunity to start a new life in a new land. Each morning he prayed for strength to work hard through the day, to prepare for the coming months. The -45⁰ nights that first winter nearly did him in. When thieves stole a tenth of his firewood that made him worry about the safety of everything and his survival. Still he gave God thanks, for he prayed with the Psalmist: In God I trust; I am not afraid. What can a mere mortal do to me?

Each year he cleared more land for the garden and for crops. In his third year, now with a simple log cabin and a shingled plank roof, his lovely wife, Brigitte, joined him from Sweden, children followed and he added each year to the cabin, a room, another room, a porch, an entrance with a better door.

When thieves struck again, raiding his garden and grain store and stealing half his wood, he was distressed. He prayed that night again in thanks, the next morning for strength. He knew he was tasked with guarding the good treasure entrusted to him, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in him. The treasure was not the firewood. It was not the crops. It was not even the land that supported his and Brigitte’s life together with their daughter and two sons. Sven and Brigitte prayed and in thanks and for strength, so that they would guard their faith, for that was the treasure that God had given them. With faith they could meet every challenge calmly and creatively, figuring out what to do each day to ensure their survival and more, that they would live well.

Covid 19 is not easy, comfortable, or predictable. Many of our habits for surviving are not possible. Other habits for surviving are required of us. Some are dictated, many others are left for us to figure out. God provides, and we, assured of the gift of faith, pray morning and night, with thanks and for strength to meet the challenges of each day.

We trust God to provide us the ability and opportunities to work diligently so that more and more people will have what is needed to live, and to live abundantly. It’s not predictable or comfortable or easy. Still we have everything we need to make each day better for everyone: it starts with faith and creativity. It concludes each day, as night enfolds us in the dark and bitter cold, with thanks.

How else can we live, but to follow the examples of our faithful ancestors following Jesus?