Facing Covid 19: Words of Grace – 17 November 2020

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Given this Beauty,

Grace or Law,

For which do you think God created the universe?

Isaiah 48:9

For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, so that I may not cut you off.

2 Timothy 1:9

God saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.

Words of Grace For Today

It is a marvellous thing that God does for us, saving us and calling us (as God’s children) to a holy calling.

God does this for us.

We do not earn it, or deserve it. We can take no credit for it, not in the least.

With Jesus’ life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension we encounter God in a new way; yet God did not change to meet us in this new way, living the life of a human being. Indeed God’s Grace made so clear in Jesus’ story, was God’s Grace for us since the beginning of creation.

Why does God do this for us?

God does this because God chooses to do this; God defers God’s anger, restrains it toward us, so that we and the whole creation can sing God’s praise. Dead people do not sing. People who receive Grace have every reason to sing and sing at every opportunity!

Pastor Erin from Trinity Edmonton preached a sermon 15 November 2020 on Jesus’ parable of the talents given to three servants, and the condemnation of the servant who hid his talent in the ground, instead of investing it. Her point was that the traditional interpretation of this as a parable about ‘investing’ our gifts in order to return even more to God is wrong. Instead it is a parable about denouncing the greed and avarice of the owner that demands unfair use be made of millions given to the servants. The owner’s condemnation of the servant who ‘plants’ his owner’s talents in the ground is all wrong; in fact that servant rightly refused to participate in the avarice of using wealth against others to multiply one’s wealth. But Pastor Erin insisted, since the parable was told by Jesus long before capitalism it was not a parable against capitalism. She said the point of the parable was: we need to subvert systems that take advantage of poor people. We must tear down these systems and replace them with ways of being equitable and fair to all people.

Which is interesting if poorly stated. What’s missing is that as Lutherans we proclaim that we are saved by GRACE, and Grace alone. We are not save by what we do, or how we think rightly, or how we subvert unjust systems … nor MUST we do anything. Trouble is so many pastors are ready to ‘tell us’ what we ‘must do, think or believe.’

Worst of all, what Erin and others preach is simply another form of telling us what we must do in order to please Jesus and God and thereby earn God’s favour. It is a futile exercise in the ‘power’ of the office of ministry entrusted to a pastor. This is all Law, in the most destructive, subversive way: debunk traditional interpretation of scripture and then point to what Jesus ‘said’ with a parable (interpreted through one’s own eyes/history/perspective/drive/hates/self-chosen-life-purposes) we must do as Christians, so that people will make changes to the perverse and evil world order that we live under.

God, fortunately, does not wait for us to subvert unjust systems, as just as those actions may be; God acts first, not by overpowering or undercutting or destroying unjust systems and the people who support them and benefit from them. God acts by graciously forgiving, renewing and guiding us, all of us.

Therefore we are free to think differently about unjust systems, and in thinking differently we change how we interact with them; which forces the systems to change in response to us.

Jesus tells parables in such a way as to shock his listeners into imagining that something can be different, that God enables us to be different, that God enables us to be God’s Grace for all people. (That’s what any good sermon has at it’s core.)

God gives us ‘talents’ (i.e. gifts of a great variety) in an overabundant quantity and quality. Like money, we get opportunities to ‘invest’ our gifts in God’s kingdom. Our investing in God’s Kingdom (unlike investing in the unjust money systems humans always have had, which Jesus slams in his parable) reaps great increases in our gifts, of which we are only stewards All we are, have and can believe, think and do belongs to God. We ‘have’ it all only by Grace.

Wasting Grace by reducing life to what we must do, whether that is to believe the right things, to maintain a particular piety, or to work in whatever ways to subvert injustices, is a waste of the Grace given to us; it is like burying a great treasure in the ground, instead of using it to do God’s work in this world.

Why does God do anything for us? Why does God chose to exercise Grace for us?

Because God so chooses.

How can we respond?

By giving God thanks and praise!

Once we do that whole-heartedly, then God can use us in new ways to share God’s way of being, to share God’s Grace for everyone with everyone.

Why us? Because God so chooses! Despite our deserving only God’s anger.

Thanks be to God.

Now let us get on with giving God thanks and praise, by sharing Grace with all the people we meet … even if our pastor has forgotten the beginning and end of God’s Word is always GRACE.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 12

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Anyone There?

Reeds, Weeds, Bushes and Trees

Does anyone hear?

1 Kings 8:52

Let your eyes be open to the plea of your servant, and to the plea of your people Israel, listening to them whenever they call to you.

John 14:14

If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

Words of Grace For Today

Praying to be heard, and a promise to be heard carte blanch.

Being Gaslit taught me much, much that I would hope no one else would have to learn: what it is like to have one’s children and one’s beloved turn on you, telling lies that are beyond abominations; what it is like to be condemned in the church, community and courts for things you’ve never done; what it is like to be silenced so that no one will listen to you, no matter what you do there is no one, and talking to one’s self goes nowhere. It is to be ghosted by everyone.

And then I was made to sit and listen to the unending lies about me with no way to interrupt and prove they were lies. And when I was given opportunity to speak I was bullied, harangued and Gaslit even more.

So much to say. So many lies told that others use to define me.

My prayer was desperate: to be heard. God listen as you know the truth. Let me speak and make these people listen. Give me your ear, Your heart, and at least a sliver of hope that this nightmare, this twilight zone will end.

But it never ends.

At least now I can speak, though no one listens. People still ghost me. I know the lies do not define me. The lies define those who told them, and those who, knowing truth still used the lies as if they were true, and those who do not stop to think that the lies are not truth.

How terrible it is to be defined by the lies one has told, lies that destroyed other people, and hurt oneself as well. How ghastly it must be to be such a person, where no direction is down or up, or right or wrong. Everything is winning and surviving and having more money … no matter who you destroy in the process.

When I speak the truth, people run and then ghost me.

God when will it end!!

Then Jesus’ words give this hope: If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

God, I ask, as all people have since the beginning of time, hear me and give me meaning and love and hope …

hope that truth will prevail,

hope that the children will be safe from abuse and gaslighting and from being brought to sacrifice truth for money, and life for money, and love for money.

hope that God will hear what is in our hearts

and give us what God knows we need.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 30

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Coals and Flames

Hell Fires

Hot

and Ready?

Zephaniah 1:7

Be silent before the Lord God! For the day of the Lord is at hand; the Lord has prepared a sacrifice, he has consecrated his guests.

Mark 4:9

And he said, ‘Let anyone with ears to hear listen!’

Words of Grace For Today

Be silent! The day of the Lord is at hand!

Let anyone with ears to hear listen.

Dread.

Silent Dread, no opportunity to protest.

If one has not believed then now one will, without a doubt.

For God is all powerful and all knowing.

It’s not like the threatening spam email I received that claimed my computer was locked! Well it’s not. But the email claimed that the writer could see through my camera, but it’s physically covered so even if someone activates it, it’s blank. And of course the email demanded bitcoin payment to a numbered account, untraceable, with the threat to share the video made of me with all my contacts.

This is a bad hoax, a spam email, a real idiot who wrote it, but a poor sucker who would fall for it and make payment.

One could treat God like a stupid spammer, wait and see that God is real, for real and one’s own judgment day is real.

There are things to take seriously by trusting them; God’s Word is the prime example.

There are things to not take seriously by acting as like the joke is on in the ‘threatening’ idiot: a good example is a spam email that demands money.

Place dread where it is accurate.

Place trust where it is warranted.

As one knows quite well that Jesus’ pure record stands in for one’s own very imperfect record there is nothing to fear of the Day of the Lord.

Rather it is something to await with great anticipation and joy.

.

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 – Apr 12 Easter

Easter Sunday, April 12, 2020

The Light of the World! The Light for All!

Isaiah 60:2

For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you.

Mark 16:2-4

And very early on the first day of the week, when the sun had risen, they went to the tomb. They had been saying to one another, ‘Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance to the tomb?’ When they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had already been rolled back.

Words of Grace For Today

Christ is Risen! [Do you know the response?]

The dark hours of Jesus’ crucifixion and our continual sacrifice of others is passed. The void of yesterday is passed. The tomb is discovered empty by Mary and/or Peter.

God is not dead. God does not end Jesus’ story with his death, nor ours. Our stories continue in the stories of all the saints.

The Holy Spirit equips us to be ‘little Christs’ to one another, and sinners though we remain we can find our way to do the work of Christ as the saints God transforms us to be.

Jesus rescues us.

Jesus rescues us from our sins.

Jesus rescues us from our sins and the dark fog that lays over our future days.

Jesus rescues us.

We live in the Kingdom of God.

Every day we can learn and teach others to see the Light of Christ.

Every day we can give thanks. Death no longer has dominion over us, nor the Devil and all his works in and around us!

Every day we can respond, sharing all God has given us with those who need it so much.

Every day.

Christ is Risen! He is risen indeed!

Christ is Risen! He is risen in deed!

Christ is Risen! He is risen in our deeds for others!

The Light for Each Person!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Apr 11

Holy Saturday, April 11, 2020

Dark. Just Dark? Hang on to the Word! Our Stories are not Finished!

Jeremiah 14:7

Although our iniquities testify against us, act, O Lord, for your name’s sake; our apostasies indeed are many, and we have sinned against you.

1 Peter 2:24

He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

Words of Grace For Today

Of all the days of the year this Saturday following Good Friday has always been the day most filled with nothing, or rather void of everything. Jesus lays dead in the tomb. To repeat a buzz word repeated in history at many times: God is dead.

What can we do, except wait for God to prove by wondrous acts that God is not dead! And that God is and always has been, and always will be standing right beside us, no matter how blinding bright or deep dark our days are?

This day always is a day to remember our sins, from our blatant and intentional turnings from God, to the subtle ways we deny Christ’s work to free us as we try to play ‘god’ in our own lives and in others’ lives. When all is lost, this is the day to remember …

in anticipation that God is not done,

not with Jesus’ story! It does not end with Jesus decaying in the tomb of the dead.

We can remember with anticipation that God is not done,

not with our stories! Ours do not end in weeping, grieving, suffering, loss, or death.

God has much more in mind for us.

God is not done with us yet.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Apr 5

Sunday, April 5, 2020

God’s Way, Far Above Our Ways

God’s Way, Far Above Our Ways

Psalms 68:27

There is Benjamin, the least of them, in the lead, the princes of Judah in a body, the princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali.

John 12:12-13

The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!’

Words of Grace For Today

We have our ways of doing what we do in this world. The great are celebrated. We follow the charming leaders who we think will give us the most. God’s way is different. When Jesus enters Jerusalem, the people greet him in celebration singing Hosanna! Jesus’ path was not what they expected. Instead it was self sacrifice so that all people would be saved. Benjamin, Isaac’s youngest and favourite son, does not blossom into a great people. They remain the least of the tribes of Israel. God’s way is not to make us into saints that lead, conquer, and control the world around us. God’s way is the quiet, subversive, gentle, gracious, forgiving ways of giving other people the fullness of life, out of the limelight, as we the Body of Christ, give of ourselves to be Christ present to all.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Apr 4

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Where is God? Where are We?

Where is God? Where are We?

Psalms 115:2-3

Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.

Romans 1:20

Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made.

Words of Grace For Today

In these days many can desperately ask, “Where is God!?!” Since before time and creation, God is invisible … and yet seen in all of God’s works. This beautiful creation speaks volumes of its Creator. Isolated we were encouraged to go outside. So we did in droves (making our togetherness outside a risk to everyone’s health). We humans seek being in nature because there is at the core of each human created in God’s image a deep connection to the pieces of creation. It heals us like music and art, reaching deep inside to what is not well in us, allowing it to heal. This is God at work for us, in us: that God’s creation heals us, if not completely physically, then always and completely in our souls. All is well with us, because God chooses it to be so.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Apr 1

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Small Steps to Healing: Listening

Small Steps to Healing: Listening

Isaiah 65:19

I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and delight in my people; no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it, or the cry of distress.

John 16:22

So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Words of Grace For Today

Where does it hurt? This question has been asked for eons of children and adults alike when they are injured. The point is to find out what is damaged, what the damage is, and how it can be addressed. Today we ask it of each other in a different way. We ask one another to pause, to breathe … slowly and deeply. Then reflecting on your own past few days, where does it hurt? We ask this of each other, and then we listen attentively, graciously. For we know the joy that Christ gives us is never taken away from us. It has the power to help our bodies, minds, and souls heal. First though we listen, where and how does it hurt, so that we can be the salve of blessed oil that Christ has poured over us for those who are hurting, so that our cries and weeping in distress may find their end in Christ’s love and joy for us.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Mar 31

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Far Off or Fully Present?

Far Off or Fully Present?

Zechariah 6:15

Those who are far off shall come and help to build the temple of the Lord; and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you.

Ephesians 2:22

In Christ you also are built together spiritually, into a dwelling-place for God.

Words of Grace For Today

In these days we can easily experience that many of our loved ones are ‘far off’, even if they are only a few kilometres distant, we may not be able to visit with them. Now we cannot offer to give them a ride to church on Sunday or to the Lenten soup supper and services. One of the gifts given to us in our baptisms is that we are all members of One Body. This is a physical reality. It is also a spiritual oneness that Christ gives to us. No matter how ‘far off’ we may be these days, Christ calls us to be together, physically distant, but socially and spiritually as near as the heart beat in our chests, the dreams in our minds, and the hope that gives us the future completeness of Christ’s 2nd coming already today.