Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 20

Monday, July 20, 2020

John Lewis

Get into Trouble.

Good Trouble.

Isaiah 46:12-13

Listen to me, you stubborn of heart, you who are far from deliverance: I bring near my deliverance, it is not far off, and my salvation will not tarry; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.

Titus 2:11-12

For God shows no partiality. All who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law.

Words of Grace For Today

“Get in trouble. Good trouble. Necessary trouble.” – John Lewis (February 21, 1940 – July 17, 2020).

One of the many who took part in the freedom rides, integrated interstate bus trips (a right guaranteed by the Supreme Court), he was beaten many times, once nearly killing him.

Stubborn hearts of racists and police who were eager to willing illegally arrest black and whites travelling together brought hardship, bigotry and hatred to the fore many times over.

Stubborn hearts do the same still today, everywhere. Even here.

Last night three quads showed up, about an hour apart, the last at 2:30 am, helping them selves to the wood I’ve collect, cut and stacked to help minimize the dangers of the coming winter. All together they took about two day’s worth, simply to party away with a fire in front of them. Shame on them.

I startled the last with a flashlight from 10 feet away, since he seemed only focused on finding the wood to take. He sped off running over a pine tree, careening to turn around to leave up on two wheels and nearly running off the path into the trees.

Maybe that will put an end to the theft.

God deals with stubborn hearts all the time, theirs and all of ours. God comes close, well God is always close, but God goes out of God’s way to make apparent to us God’s presence with us.

God shows no partiality, all is just based on truth, in God’s judgments of us. And there will be judgment for each of us.

The trouble these thieves get up to is trouble, but hardly good trouble or necessary trouble.

It’s just evil trouble. The devil’s work.

The end of course, carried on far enough, will be that I do not have enough wood for winter; and their theft can cause my death.

Good trouble, necessary trouble, is the kind that puts a stop to this kind of petty criminality, and to the widespread biases in the justice system, from the RCMP bullying, harassment and violence, to the Courts that turn a blind eye to the truth of abuse done to men by women (and men.) That blind eye invites women to lie profusely to the Courts, and for RCMP to act far outside properly or fairly … and everyone gets away with it.

Except God does judge fairly, equitably.

Thanks be for Jesus, who gives us his record for our judgment, for otherwise we would all be wiped off the face of the earth all before breakfast at 6 am.

Because Jesus steps in for us, we not go through life, making our way with violence. Jesus makes our way for us. We need not go through life full of anger. Each will get their due justice delivered by God. We need not go through life ashamed of lies told about us, or false accusations, or even false convictions. These do not define us. Jesus defines us … as his followers.

With Jesus always with us, the Holy Spirit guiding us, and God’s love pouring over us each day, we can boldly take on the trouble, the good trouble, that God sends us into each day. We do not need be shy or self-righteous (as if trouble did not belong to us at all).

No, today we can courageously get ourselves into trouble, good trouble, necessary trouble, trouble that will make a good difference possible for many other people.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – June 7

Sunday, June 7, 2020

In the snow, in the wind, in the rain, under these skies …

Is God Coming

Down this Road

For me,

For us,

For all the young men

who die senseless deaths

at the hands of police?

Psalm 98:9

The Lord is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

Matthew 24:14

And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.

Words of Grace For Today

Protests and Police using tear gas killed one of my son’s long time friends.

It helps to read that the Lord is coming …

to judge the earth, to judge with righteousness (finally)

and equity.

George Floyd

did nothing to deserve to have a policeman kneel on his neck for 9 minutes while he struggled to breathe and stay alive, a struggle he lost.

.

This explodes into protest at this time because Covid 19 restrictions are not fair, not equitable. The poor are hit the hardest, many struggling anyway to find enough food each day, and now, if they go out for food, they face curfews, police harassment and arrest, incarceration and almost sure infection. Rich people are often not even inconvenienced, or bother to change the pattern of their lives.

This is not equitable.

Being poor is rarely the person’s fault. Being rich is rarely due to honest hard work.

Being black … being a young man …

none of this is a fault. Yet this brings fear that minority mothers teach their sons to be aware of, and to fear this irrational hatred, lest hatred of them would cost them their lives. Even then, too often, just breathing and being (themselves) alive, unjustly costs them their lives because someone with a police uniform and a heart full of hate takes it from them.

Where is equity in all this?

This is racism, misandry, and out of control hatred.

.

Protesting is the least one can do, to support those who live in fear everyday, for the hope that one day they might not have reason to live in daily fear for their lives.

I have a dream!

Do you!?!

What are we to say when protesting peacefully is responded to with police tear gassing the protesters, even when they claim they have not used tear gas. They use pepper bomblets, which even they designate as tear gas!

Tear gas.

And it kills, sometimes.

Yet the police still use it!

Then they refuse to allow those affected by their tear gas to retrieve a handbag to get their asthma puffer …

And another innocent protester dies at the hands of the police ….

.

Thank God, that God will come!

God will come to judge with equity!

Helps us.

Help us be as God created us to be, bearers and witnesses to the Peace that surpasses all understanding

even as we mourn the loss

of another good young person,

this time a young woman.

Prayer: For Trinity Sunday & Everyday

Our Breastplate Prayer for Today

tip of the hat to St. Patrick and his Breastplate Prayer (see below)

Mist and Mysteries

Caught in the Mists

of Mystery, Doubt, and Threats,

We Invoke

The Trinity, 3in1

As I arise from the healing mists of rest, to face the mountains, mysteries and doubts in the morning light and the Devil’s wiles, I pray:

by the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Communion of the Holy Spirit,

Lord, protect me from all dangers that would be my undoing.

As the saints before me faced these same battles, help me persevere giving God the Glory, even under threat of death.

Help me remember all that God has given us:
the Goodness of Creation, the Law, the Prophets,
the Psalms, the Gospels, the Epistles, and more
to revive my weary spirit and sagging strength.

Jesus came to tell God’s story most plainly: God is always for us, claiming us, forgiving us at great cost, sending us out to share the story of Jesus’ Grace, God’s Love and the power of the Holy Spirit, bringing together people of all kinds.

Seeing the wonders of creation that the last centuries of progress have laid to waste, I still affirm: God wants this all to be GOOD again, including all that I do.

Yet, the Devil would have me filled with fear.

Name the fears of this day:

Fear of a virus called Covid 19.

Fear of being alone and forgotten.

Fear of deadly and destructive riots hijacked from peaceful protests against police abuses (as if God does not treasure young black and young First Nations’ men as much as us!)

Fear of police power and martial law abused.

Doch!

God, you have promised again and again I do not need to be afraid!

Christ sent the Holy Spirit, the mysterious, powerful fire of God, to envelop, motivate, and protect me:

up, down,

to the left, to the right,

in front of me, and behind me

(making sure I am not lazy in the calling Christ sends me to!)

As I arise from the healing mists of rest, to face the mountains, mysteries and doubts in the morning light and the Devil’s wiles, I pray:

by the Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God and the Communion of the Holy Spirit,

Lord, protect me from all dangers that would be my undoing.

Now as I raise my hands from the bed, make them work for Christ.

As I put my feet to the floor, make them move for Christ.

As I warm up my voice to speak, use my voice to proclaim the power of the Trinity: Creator, Redeemer, Holy Maker and Guide.

Amen

..

.

St Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer Information

These words came to us as part of a collection, published in 1903, of hymns found in two old manuscripts. With this hymn/prayer were these words: Saint Patrick sang this when an ambush was laid against his coming by Loegaire, that he might not go to Tara to sow the faith. And then it appeared before those lying in ambush that [Saint Patrick and his monks] were wild deer with a fawn following them. [‘Wild deer’ can also mean they were hidden in a thick mist, something well-known in Ireland.] see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Patrick’s_Breastplate

St Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity.

Through the belief in the threeness,

Through confession of the oneness

Of the Creator of Creation.

.

I arise today

Through the strength of Christ’s birth with his baptism.

Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,

Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,

Through the strength of his descent for the judgment of Doom.

.

I arise today

Through the strength of the love Cherubim,

In obedience of angels,

In the service of archangels,

In hope of resurrection met with reward,

In prayers of patriarchs,

In predictions of prophets,

In preaching of apostles,

In faith of confessors,

In innocence of holy virgins,

In deeds of righteous men.

.

I arise today

Through the strength of heaven:

Light of sun,

Radiance of moon,

Splendour of fire,

Speed of lightening,

Swiftness of wind,

Depth of sea,

Stability of earth,

Firmness of rock.

.

I arise today

Through God’s strength to pilot me:

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hand to guard me,

God’s way to lie before me,

God’s shield to protect me,

God’s host to save me

From snares of devils,

From temptations of vices,

From everyone who shall wish me ill,

Afar and anear,

Alone and in multitude.

.

I summon today all these powers between me and those evils,

Against every cruel merciless power that may oppose my body and soul,

Against incantations of false prophets,

Against black laws of pagandom

Against false laws of heretics,

Against craft of idolatry,

Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,

Against every knowledge that corrupts man’s body and soul.

Christ to shield me today

Against poison, against burning,

Against drowning, against wounding,

So that there may come to me abundance of reward.

.

Christ with me,

Christ before me, Christ behind me,

Christ in me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise,

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

.

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the threeness,

Through confession of the oneness,

Of the Creator of Creation.

Amen!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Devotions – May 22

Friday, May 22, 2020

Grass is Green -er

Trees and Grass are Green

Fog is grey.

People come in Genders.

Colour or Gender

do not

Determine Sinfulness

nor

Criminality.

Goodness is Fully Dependent on God’s Grace!

Jeremiah 31:20

Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he the child I delight in? As often as I speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore I am deeply moved for him; I will surely have mercy on him, says the Lord.

Luke 15:20

So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.

Words of Grace For Today

Ephraim is in trouble often with God, for God speaks often against him.

The selfish son is in trouble, deeply with his father, for he’s taken his inheritance before his father is even close to the end of his life. Then he’s squandered the entire inheritance.

That sounds like it’s not far from our own stories, each of ours. We take what we can claim as ours and run, and get into trouble, with our fathers, with God, – with our mothers, siblings, extended families, the community we live in, the church … and with God all over again. There are a great number of variations to the story, and every single one of us can be described by one variation or another.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is – well first a few thoughts about God as father. The image of God as father in itself is a very healthy image, one to embrace with profound joy. There’s nothing quite like the goodness of a father directed at us, loving, forgiving, accepting and inspiring us to live even better than we thought we could.

The damage done by the image of God as father is not in the image itself. It is in the abuse of positions of power occupied by men for centuries. Every good thing can be perverted. This is no exception.

The problem comes when we toss the baby out with the dirty bath water.

The abuse needs to be identified, clearly named and condemned … and ended.

The problem comes when we stupidly think that the abuse of the image of God as father is somehow made better when we replace it with abuse of the image of God as mother.

The problems multiply astronomically when we think that naming men as the problem, while ignoring the same kind of abuse, perversions, and destruction is perpetrated by women. The flavours, smells, and theme of the abuse and perversions can sometimes be collated to the gender of the abuser, but it’s just superficial.

Point blank: men abuse women. AND women abuse men. AND men abuse men. AND women abuse women. AND … God knows this all. So should everyone of us.

AND all of it is evil, and needs to be stopped. ALL abuse when it runs without restraint ends up killing it’s victims (and often the perpetrators, too.) A person is just as dead if they are murdered by physical violence as when they are driven to despair with no escape except suicide.

ME-TOO is all wrong, in that it only deals with one flavour of abuse, and ignores the rest. It is perhaps more destructive in that it sets so many people up to think that abuse is dealt with … so that the rest of it can continue unabated, the victims abandoned, the deaths unnoticed and uncounted.

The bishop last year said that we (this synod) are just starting to recognize and work on the issues of women being treated equally.

I spoke up, as I was able: some of us have been working on that for more than three decades, with everything we are, as men making sure the women in our lives get every opportunity possible and a fair deal (as much as possible.) It’s taken great sacrifice, and we’ve been sidelined often as irrelevant, our contributions raising children with great skill, grace and success belittled, and our words of giving attention to all issues of abuse ridiculed.

The challenge now is to acknowledge all kinds of abuse, by men and women, of men and women. To look at the root of it all: the need to scapegoat others as a means to advancing ourselves in life.

Back to the passages that speak profoundly of God’s unconditional acceptance of sinful sons. The translation to God’s unconditional acceptance of daughters needs be imagined, added to these stories. The stories though are powerful.

Who is your God? Not the God you say you believe in, but the God that your thoughts, words and actions belie you trust and believe in! Who is the God you live your life in response to?

Is your life a reflection of God, the universally, unconditionally accepting and forgiving father who, of a wayward son, says “I will surely have mercy on him!”

Does your life reflect the God who is portrayed in Jesus’ story as the prodigal father, who seeing his self-destructive, wasteful, wanton son approach, “filled with compassion runs and put his arms around him and kisses him?”

How marvellous it is to read these passages and know that God welcomes us, even when we have rebelled and wasted our lives and those around us!

The challenge is now:

Are we ready to be that welcoming father for all those people who have walked away from Grace and Goodness, and now desperately need a morsel of what we have in order to survive? Can we imagine being that overjoyed in welcoming back our wayward sons, daughters, parents, extended family, community members, church members, others known and strangers, even refugees and immigrants … and even those of other faiths or of no faith at all?

As we are able to do that, en-mass, then abuse, perversions and destruction of people will finally be dealt with in a manner so that they can be ended.

And all of us will be able to joyously embrace images of God as father, as mother, as Jesus the man, and as the Holy Spirit, wind, breath, and fire – lighting one under us to get on with the work of God’s Kingdom here and now.

Ah, what makes that all possible is that our God is a God of compassion and mercy, who rushes to greet us when we return to him!

The Reality of Gaslighting

What reflects who you are?

For the last seven years I have been gaslit by so many people. First at home and then it spread through the church as the lay pastor started in, by people in the community recruited by the RCMP, the RCMP themselves, by lawyers, the prosecutors and even my own lawyers, and most recently by the judges and justices who created their own lies in order to convict me, and to deny my applications.

This may be difficult for many to believe.

It used to be unimaginable to me.

But no longer.

Now it is the truth that impacts my daily life, as my ‘ex’, the lawyers, and the courts have completely ruined me financially driving me into debt so far I cannot see the light or the tunnel. I have left to my name a huge debt, a bicycle, a tent, a sleeping bag and my clothes. I live alone in the woods. I survive on money borrowed from family and friends, using borrowed highly modified equipment to survive the elements on next to no money.

It appears that the lies told about me and those who have told them, and the judges who have ruled using them, have completely determined my life.

This is not so. They have determined some of the external circumstances of my life, and they seem to persist at determining more. But they cannot determine who I am and what I have done (or not done).

The truth reflects the beauty God created in the world, which lies do not change.

I am still the same kind, gracious, man of faith that I have always been, with a good set of skills and knowledge, and abilities, and above all the assurance that, because God loves me, I am able to love, forgive (or not as it is), breathe, and extend Grace as it is extended to me.

Those who have gaslit me, those who have repeatedly and intentionally lied about me, in order to try to create a reality about me that simply is not so; these people have not created a reality about me. They have created a huge set of lies.

Their lies do not determine who I am. They do not define me.

The fog of lies cannot conceal that lies are lies, as weeds are weeds.

Their lies determine who they are. Their lies define them.

My ex and the children I have long since forgiven. They were, at my ex’s invitation, my life, my love, and God’s gifts to me.

But all the others, those who are given authority and responsibility to investigate and rule based on the truth. those whose positions are to be respected, they are not only guilty; they make a habit of gaslighting others, and some have laughed at their maniacal fun at hurting innocent people.

As I am ordained to extend grace and forgiveness to all people whom I meet, I am also ordained to bind the sins of those who should not be forgiven. This is a rare thing. But these lies are all too common, oft repeated, and engaged in as sport, as the record of innocent men convicted by the courts belies.

The damage their lies do to the innocent men and the children is incomprehensible. They leave children in the care of people who create lies about men who healthily love their children. They leave children with sole parents who suffer psychotic breaks, who project their own faults on to others near them including the children and their spouses. They leave the children without a healthy parent, and with a most unhealthy parent, who does the unspeakable to the children, and then adds those terrible things to the list of lies about which they gaslight their spouses.

The damage is also to the spouse (and children) who lie to create a false and terrible story about their innocent men. Being believed when one lies, and encouraged even to lie more, disrupts any trust even the liar could possibly have in the just and fairness of the world. At any moment someone else could start lying about them and they would be ruined based on those lies.

The damage is to everyone, for at any moment anyone can start lying about anyone else, and the person lied about will be ruined, even though they are innocent. This is the destruction of trust, without which society disintegrates into a morass of nothing being true or trustworthy or healthy, for anyone.

This is who the people who gaslight others are: they are those who dismantle everyone’s ability to trust the rule of law, the word of people, the basic justness of our country. Many peoples, against whom prejudice and bias has run rampant, have known this for generations.

Now I known it, personally.

No matter what you expect or believe, that leaf is there. The truth is there.
No lie can change the truth.

Whether you believe me or not is immaterial, but it is vitally important. You could easily be next.

This is what those who gaslight others do to our country. This is who they are. This is how they try to determine others to be worse than themselves, but that is a futile effort. This is who they determine themselves to be: corrupters and perverters of all that is good.

Thus their sins are bound, and they are told, so that they are as aware as they can be made to be. They have time to amend their lives, through telling the complete truth about their lies, openly, publicly, and through making restitution as it can be made.

Then they can be reconciled with their victims.

Until the day of them telling the full truth or God judging them, this is not something they can leave behind. It is what they have to look forward to, to that day when the Light of Christ will shine. May it shine soon, now on this earth, during our lives. But if not, then soon enough.

When the Light of Christ shines on what they have done, and the truth I have always provided, no witnesses or rules of evidence will be needed. God knows everything. There is no statute of limitations or excuses of lack of resources to judge fairly according to the truth. God knows the truth, the absolute truth. God will judge their sins.

I am not determined by their gaslighting. I do struggle to survive the effects, but I am blessed each day. I live thankful and even joyful at times. I will survive until God brings me home to the New Jerusalem, the city of light, into the room prepared for me by Christ.

I know who I am. I am blessed to have lived a very self-aware life.

Lies do not determine or define the person whom they are told about; they determine and define the person who tells the lies.

The truth always leaves tracks. The truth will be known.
The Light of Christ will shine.
It is and will be beautiful!

The reality of Gaslighting is that it is destructive for everyone, but most of all for those who tell the lies.

We’re in the Pink*

If Only

In the movie, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, Fred Rogers helps Lloyd Vogel process his relationship with his father and re-connect with him after decades of cutoff on both sides…. It leaves us thinking we can’t change the past, but maybe we can give the story a different ending….** If only we could be just a bit better than we are, a lot less anxious, helping others trust God just a mite more, so that our stories could have a good ending. **adapted from Healthy Congregation Words by Rachel Tune, Pastor Wittenburg University***

Joy Sunday Contrasts with Advent Blues

Today, the third Sunday of Advent, is the Sunday of Joy. Advent was historically a time to prepare for Epiphany baptisms, a time to take in Jesus’ costly journey of bringing faith to us. During the rest of Advent we get ourselves alert, reflect on the cost of our faith, prepare for, but wait patiently for, Christ’s coming and our celebration that he has come, and is present.

Joy is out of step with the Lenten-like mood of waiting. Our wreath has one pink candle among the blue candles of hope. In this season of waiting to celebrate, how did the Joy Sunday and the pink candle get into the mix? Except this contrast makes our Christmas joy that much more intense.

Today we highlight the opposite of the rest of Advent, making our preparations and joy all that more vivid. Only blue on the dark black of the long nights won’t do, neither would all pink be great. If Advent were all joy, then it’d be hard to celebrate Christmas; it’d be as if we’d nibbled at the turkey, dressing and all, and gobbled up all the Christmas cookies for weeks. The celebration would be just more of the same, if anything were left for the feast. But on the dark background of real life, pink decorates blue spectacularly, and since it denotes God’s joy then the best pink would be hot-pink on deep sea blue rising to sky blue.

God’s Hot-Pink

Winter Blues

Winter Blues

Today, though, we also remember that Christmas, more so because it’s supposed to be such a joyous time, can actually be the most painful, sorrowful, lonely and despairing time of the year. It can be all so blue. For this reason we offer Blue Christmas Services.

Insert here Niel Diamond singing Song Sung Blue YouTube – Song Sung Blue or your favourite song about the blues, our old friend the blues, or your favourite song about the blues, our old friend the blues.

The New Ending Needed

In the name of Jesus we can’t change the past, but we know the story needs a different ending….

Biblical Images of Life Dried Up

Images of dried up creation abound in today’s lessons: wilderness, dry land, desert … weak hands, feeble knees, fearful hearts … blind, deaf, lame, speechless people … burning sand, thirsty ground, haunts of jackals, dry grass … lions, ravenous beasts … sighing and sorrows.

The New Ending, Possible?

That is the past. We can’t change the past, but can we really give this story a different ending?

Dark, Cold Tunnel of Real Life

It’s dark. The sun rises but stays below the southern roof- or tree-tops. It’s cold. In the city it’s dipped into the minus teens. Not far away, on a little lake that’s as much home as anywhere, it’s been below -30⁰C and not over -15⁰ for days. Most everyone is affected, some a bit more as they struggle with mild to severe depression because of the lack of sunshine. Too often this season can seem like a cold, dark tunnel that we get thrust into, whether we choose it or not.

Unemployment

In Alberta now, after the oil bust of 2014 and lately Premier Kenny’s cuts, 20% of young men are unemployed. That does not count those who have given up trying to find work, or those who are back at school trying to increase their odds of finding a job (going in debt to do so), or those who have part-time jobs where they work pitifully few hours, so that it’s less a job, and more a hindrance to finding real work. Employers more cheaply employ 10 part-time workers 8 hours each week than 2 full-time employees 40 hours each.

This is real. These young men face hunger, homelessness, losing their vehicles. Forget about having anything for health and dental care.

Chaplains in hospitals write up verbatims: formerly well-paid men are hounded by their spouse (or not-spouse) to bring home the same money for the pricey lifestyle they’ve spent themselves into. Turning to crime or not, the stress eats away at the men’s health. For some, physical or psychological violence at home puts them in the hospital. Women know the courts will likely believe any lie they tell and the men will be convicted and jailed, even when they are the victims.

The Booby-trapped Tunnel

The dark tunnel we find ourselves in can, in this or other ways, turn out to be full of traps set by people we would trust. People point us to the light at the end of the tunnel, but it seems a long ways off through the dark and dangerous cold.

The New Ending Beyond Us.

We know full well we can’t change the past, but even trying to give the story a different ending seems beyond us.

Epidemic of Senior Loneliness

The severity of the seniors’ epidemic of loneliness increases at Christmas. 25% percent of seniors live alone often not by choice. Living alone or not, an unknown number of seniors are severely lonely, cut off from meaningful engagement in life. Loneliness affects health and precipitates death as quickly as any disease. Two of life’s necessities are missing: a meaningful contribution to life and an ability to love and be loved.

There are walls to stare at, perhaps paths to walk. But one is alone even in crowds. Few reach out with kindness and understanding, and time. Everyone has their own busy agenda to help them ignore the emptiness that threatens.

Worse still are the seniors that experience elder abuse. Seniors can be more vulnerable than young children and become targets because they may appear to have wealth, and the taking appears to be easy. This month we collect for “No Room In the Inn” to create a safe place to which they can escape.

The Light in the Tunnel is a Train

The light they told us was at the end of the tunnel looks more and more like a train coming right at us in this dark tunnel and we cannot see any way out. We can’t move fast enough to find any emergency exit that may be somewhere out there.

The New Ending Only Hoped For

We can’t change the past, and we only hope we can give the story a different ending before it’s too late.

God’s Transformations

Exactly into this dark reality, our Advent Sunday of Joy is set as a stark contrast to our Lenten-like Advent preparations.

This Sunday is exactly like the Crocus named in the OT lesson. The first flower of Spring, it pushes up and blossoms even while the snow and morning frosts keep other plants at bay.

Similarly all the desolate images serve as the setting into which God comes and transforms creation. Cool streams flow in the wilderness, over the dry land, and on the burning sand bringing them to rejoice and blossom, with joy and singing. Weak hands are strengthened, feeble knees made firm, fear is met with encouragement, the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame leap, and the speechless sing.

A highway is made upon which no lion or beast or thief prowls, and even a fool cannot go astray. Those redeemed by Christ will obtain joy and gladness. All sorrow and sighing will flee away. In a simple word, we and all creation are baptized in the water of God’s blessings. It is a marvellously new creation. We are made saints and set to live well in it!

God’s coming is already, and not yet. Like the farmer we wait patiently for the early and the late rains of God’s blessings to tumble down on us and through us. We do not grumble against each other, for grumbling against each other is caustic to life and for it we would be justly judged by the Judge at the door. There are no evidentiary rules, precedents, or arguments required. This Judge is omnipotent and all-knowing, and the judgments are fair, clearly so to all. Jesus’ every judgment is made to make life possible for all.

Jesus comes to set things right, to make people healthy, what is wrong is set right. Jesus comes in poverty, born homeless in a cow barn. Jesus comes to those least acceptable to the world of his day. Jesus comes to the blind, the lame, the deaf, the lepers, the dead, and the poor.

The Light in the Tunnel is Christ’s Light on God’s Train Coming at Us!

It turns out that the light at the end of the cold, dark tunnel is a train coming right for us. Or rather it is the Light of Christ barrelling down on us like a train. This train is not loaded with oil, grain, lumber, or other goods.

The first cars of this train have the Blue Hope of Advent spilling out in endless streams over the landscape of God’s wonderful and broken creation.

Hope is followed by cars as numerous as the stars spewing Justice, Mercy, Forgiveness, Inspiration, Gratitude, Generosity, Faith, Love in Action, and Love Universal and Unconditional. Look at all the colours streaming across the desolate landscape of our broken lives!

See the Light. Run to it. Dance to it. Sing for it with the deepest and broadest joy.

Insert here the Proclaimers singing I’m On My Way [From Misery to Happiness]. You Tube- I’m On My Way

For God intends for us, even in our sadness and loneliness, to be overwhelmed with the Goodness of life given to us by the Holy Spirit, the engine of that train. It may be cold and dark outside but the pink of joy covers the dark and decorates our blues.

God’s New Ending

We can’t change the past. And we cannot give the story a different ending. This Advent we remember, we do not have to. God has already given the story the best ending possible! What Joy!

We wait, full of anticipation for the celebration of Christmas, marking Jesus’ birth, proclaiming Jesus’ presence now, and hoping for Jesus the Christ’s return!

We pray, Let us be the blessed “who do not let the Messiah [we] are expecting blind [us] to the Messiah who is standing right in front of [us]” (Barbara Brown Taylor, God in Pain: Teaching Sermons on Suffering [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998]).

Our Response: We are the Pink in the Blues

Today we reflect on joy, and its roots in the dark of misery, and its place within the blues of Hope. The Holy Spirit makes us the streams of cool water flowing in the deserts of life, the crocuses springing up for those to whom Christ came. We are the patient, non-anxious, gracious, kind, and generous ones. In us others see Christ active for them even if the world frosts them out.

This is the ending to the story that God has for creation and all of us in it: that Christ came, that Christ comes, that Christ will come, and all of creation was, is and will be baptized with living water, transforming it and all of us. Therefore we follow Christ’s example: bringing real joy to those with SADS, the unemployed, the lonely, the blind, the lame, the deaf, the lepers, the dead, and the poor. This is the pink of our Advent Blues. It may not be more than a touch on the horizon in our preparations, nor need it be more. It is like the light at the end of the tunnel, giving us reason to Hope, even in the blues.

We are the pink of Advent

We are the pink of Advent for those in need around us.

Amen

As we get ready to sing: Let me highlight with pink and blue a few words of our hymn of the day:

All earth is hopeful, the Savior comes at last! Furrows lie open for God’s creative task: this, the labour of people who struggle to see how God’s truth and justice sets [Blue:] everybody free.

We first saw Jesus a baby in a crib. This same Lord Jesus today has come to live in our world; he is present, in neighbours we see our Jesus is with us, and ever sets [Pink:] us free.

Theme and Notes

Joy, the pink contrast to the Blues of Advent, draws us to be God’s people to bring transformation to those most in need.

*In the Pink: to be in the best of health; by Grace alone the best spiritual health.

***Wittenberg University is a private liberal arts college in Springfield, Ohio. It has approximately 2,000 full-time students representing 37 states and 30 foreign countries.

Being Somebody

Or walking and dancing 500 miles!

Being Somebody
Dorothea Sölle gave the usual list of the 5 basic requirements for life:

  1. clean air
  2. clean water
  3. nourishing food
  4. appropriate clothing (not fashion, but function: safe from the environment.)
  5. shelter
    to these she added two more:
  6. meaningful labour
  7. love – being loved and being able to love others.
    And to that I will add that one needs
  8. culture: art like music and photography.
    Tonight, after a day of church and work continuing to set up a campsite for the remainder of the allowed 14 days before breaking it all down and moving off for 72 hours, we decided to go for a walk.
    It was after supper, so with a few tools, we headed out on a trail rarely used, and apparently not at all for the last year or so. As we went we cleared it so that coming back would be easier, and others could use it. There is a great deal of good fire wood to collect, that will otherwise rot.
    The temperatures out are a comfortable 20⁰C dropping to 17⁰ before we got back just as the sun set orange out over the lake.

So I have much to give thanks for:

Air
the air is clean

Water
there is plenty of clean water to drink and to clean with.

Food
there is for this day nourishing food.

Clothing
I have good clothing for living in the woods and for this walk enough deet spray to cover my shoes, socks, jeans, and a special hat that has flaps down over the ears and the back of one’s neck. Sprayed with deet that hat keeps the bugs off the entire head. And gloves, oh so crucial, leather gloves to protect the hands from all the brush and mosquitoes!

Shelter

There is a very cozy camper to return to, in which no bugs survive for long, it is temperature controlled, with a place to write, sleep and wash up.

Meaningful Labour
This work of clearing off the path took just the right amount of work, soaked my shirt with sweat completely, and did not over tax any of my aging muscles. And the benefit of our labours will be enjoyed by countless people.

Love, given and received!
This I all got to enjoy with the love of my life, who loves me unconditionally, who I can safely love unconditionally. No, we are not perfect nor are our lives, but we are both kind, and kind to each other.
And we dance delightfully together, with our own kind of stepping marvellously in tune to the other, with the ability to start and stop and change the step to a great variety, so as to allow the aging bones and muscles a variety of movements to not freeze up from repetition, yet alone to leave one’s mind frozen in one count or hitch.

Culture
That is always a bit of culture, that remains a joy for both of us, and most all who witness us at graceful play.
So on return I got to enjoy:
a great option to clean up with hot water!
A great hot cup of spice tea, with just the right amount of milk added, which somehow reminds me of growing up with 5 brothers and 5 sisters, and taking an afternoon break with my dad, who always had a cup of tea, and easily allowed us one as well if we added milk.
Along with the tea just right I had some lemon yogurt, just the right mix of sour and sweet, the pucker power reminds me of my youngest son who loved lemons, just so. As we puckered up and said it was great vitamin C!

Music
The greatest part of the evening is to return with enough solar power collected to allow an hour of so of music, from my playlist.
Notably (which means these pieces evoke some of the deepest most thorough joy I have known):
Good Lovelies, especially and starting off with Lie Down Beside Me, to be reminded of the goodness of love and of it’s loss.
Rufus Wainwright singing Cohen’s Alleluia, a haunting reminder of God’s presence in the darkest times of my life.
Over the Rainbow by Israel k. Just goodness of life!
The Proclaimers’ I’m On My Way [to Happiness] which always gets the base turned up, the volume up too high and smiles, reminders of many a dance step of grace, enjoyed by us and the band that noticed us.
A great number from ABBA Take a Chance on Me, Fernando, of course Mama-Mia, and Cohen, not least of Take this Waltz, Anthem, and Closing Time.
I toss in a bit of Mozart French Horn, the beauty of brass, even though I played the Euphonium, I always envied the French Horn players.
And to top off the end of the music before too many volts are consumed:
The Proclaimers’ 500 miles, a simple and thorough statement of being a man who will live ‘in love’, which we know is a choice of health!

The Photo

Simple Sun Set … … Haunting Sun Set

But the photography that is always there is the desktop I’ve chosen recently of a photo I took this year on 19th July at 21:34.
It haunts me every time I see it, even though I am the photographer whose taught for years. This photo keeps me from getting right down to work each time, but the time is not wasted.
Right there the essence of culture meets my mind no matter the colour or gray of the day: There is light at play from all sides collecting on the birch logs and waves, but pulling attention to the clouds on the horizon spanning from tree to tree with the blue of the water countered with the orange of the setting sun!

The photo haunts even me the photographer.


Why is it so haunting?
Clue a panorama so that the light and wave patterns are just normal enough and yet out of place to be intriguing, if you do not discount it as a panorama.


There is nothing quite like it: spice with milk, lemon with sweet, the fresh air, clean hot water, the mosquitoes kept at bay, the cozy camper a home not quite a home, a path nearly cleared, all this shared with a kind person who loves me without guile or selfish demands, and spiced milk, sweet lemon, and the best music selection short but good enough to change one’s heart from set and hard to lively and inspired.
Life is great!


It is a miracle to be somebody,
somebody who knows how to enjoy life fully, with so little, but with everything that makes for a full life.


How’s your days measuring up? Are the daisy’s still down? Can you still dance with grace through all the challenges that come your way each day? Do you know God’s love is so assured that it need not even be mentioned as part of the essentials of life?
Do you have music that inspires you to love all of life completely, to a 4/4 two step, or a 3/4 waltz?
What are you missing? Ask and you shall receive, for God gives us all that we need, just not everything we ask for!


Be Somebody:
share the essentials of good life everyday with someone new. Everyone needs them!
And smile, God created you, and us all, to be able to enjoy the deep based line of nature’s best music.


The owl may hoot every night, but I am not the one tagged for death, I am the one tagged for extraordinarily important things to happen around and because of:
It is enough to see one’s love dancing to the Proclaimers’ “I am going to be the man who will grow old with you. I will walk 500 miles and I would walk another 500 miles just to be the man who walked one thousand miles to fall down at your door.”


Being Somebody?

Be Somebody!

Afraid: men women will (kill them with) laugh

2019 Mar 26 Men, Fear Or Vistas of Hope

Margaret Atwood’s quote, ” Men are afraid women will laugh at them. Women are afraid men will kill them.” is too simplified to honestly live on it’s own, unless it is just meant to honour women, and disparage men.

That’s the real deep problem of illuminating only part of reality, but that is what we are at most capable of.

Used as misadrism it’s not really helpful, it kills the human spirit.

More honest is to say:

Women are afraid men will kill them, men they know, but especially men they do not know. Their fear is real, and tragically accurate of a few men.

Men are afraid women will drive them to kill themselves, especially women they know, but generally all women. Their fear is real, and tragically accurate of more than a few women.

This fear is of real, literal death; but also of smaller deaths, even figurative deaths, deaths that rob a man (or a woman) of life at the core.

The real killer is the fear. Living in fear limits the horizon to only well guarded, defensive stances.

Or as Atwood also wrote: “I hope that people will finally come to realize that there is only one ‘race’ – the human race – and that we are all members of it.”

Life for each and every one of us is intended to be lived looking to God’s horizon that is so far out-reaches any of ours that we can only be astounded as we glimpse the vistas available to us, each and all.

Health is measured in how we help each other see those vistas and the creator of them.

Rain was forecast this morning. Instead we received snow, fluffy big heavy flakes that made noise landing on the tarps shelter.

Spring is the time of re-newed life. But first, as the snows of the winter melt, we must face the dreck of the life through the winter, records of the mess we’ve lived and made.

So instead of rain that makes mud, to get snow that gives a fresh cover again over the remains of past efforts to live, including many painful failures,

This vista reaches deep inside as the horizon is clouded away and the light is dimmed.

Fresh

Clean

Promising

Hope

Sounds like a winter baptism of the world and for the creatures.

The Clear Blue (-ish white) of Spring Snow

Fear, of how the past will catch us, is no way to live. There are renewals that do not hide or cover up that past.

They are called forgiveness, reconciliation, and hope …

hope that allows one to laugh with instead of at another person.