Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
Words of Grace For Today
There is something very wrong with this creation account in Genesis. How it has been used makes this very clear to anyone who wishes to pay attention.
While humans are both female and male, the story places one as the first consideration for God, and the other as an after-thought, a help mate for the first.
This story came out of a male biased culture and has been used to devalue females as second class humans. Abuses have abounded through history based solely on this false preference of God’s for males. These biases and their subsequent abuses used to seem so acceptable to some people, especially those that benefited from them. In truth they always have been an abomination for the whole species.
Today, as if this helps at all, many have turned these biases and abuses on their heads. Females are given free license to devalue, abuse, lie about, gaslight, and even kill males freely, as if it were their birthright as females. This ‘new’ bias-abuse of males can never set right the bias-abuse of females. In fact it is worse. For many the bias-abuse of females was unintentional, even by females who saw it as something for their benefit.
The ‘new’ (to our culture) bias-abuse of males to benefit females cannot be claimed by any to be participated in unawares. It is the flip of a terrible bias in history. For that matter continuing male-favouring biases is no longer excusable (because one was unawares) either, if it ever was.
A bias participated in aware of the bias and one’s participation in it is worse than an accidental bias in that it , on top of everything else, consciously chosen.
Female favouring biases are also most often pursued with revenge in mind. For example it is as if the abuse is pursued against this good male to take revenge for the abuse of other abusive males, even though the males are related only in that they are males.
That kind of blind revenge bias is many measures worse. It claims to set things right, yet it adds layer upon layer of lies and deception and damage to every situation.
Only Grace brings us to live past bias of any kind.
Jesus, on the cross, does not change that woman have next to no possibility to ‘take care of their own business.’ They require a man to own the property and from that provide for the woman. Instead Jesus acknowledges the disadvantage this places upon Mary, his mother, and he ensures that one of the disciples is now recognized by Mary as her son, and she is recognized by him as her mother.
Jesus does not remove the bias. Instead he ensures, despite the bias, that his followers and his mother are cared for as all people should be.
We can make changes, if all too slowly, to cultural biases. We need to do this with great courage and persistence. We need to work to remove the bias and all vestiges from our own lives. We need to actually remove and end the bias, not to merely replace it with an equally if not worse bias!
As we recognize our own sin (including biases), and the sin of our culture’s biases, we need swiftly and effectively mitigate the suffering all our biases cause people, including ourselves. We need to provide the care every human deserves for everyone we can.
This is the meaning of life, and the purpose of each day; to provide God’s Grace to all people.
There is hope for your future, says the Lord: your children shall come back to their own country.
Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.
Words of Grace For Today
Trump will try to present Congress with alternative Electoral College votes, making history with his continued and unprecedented efforts to undermine the democratic election process in the US; and millions voted for him and still support him!
Courts (too many) abuse their authority, declaring lies to be facts, innocent people guilty, legitimate claims to be bogus and lawyers’ lies to be truths; and millions are pleased with the injustice that preserves their way of life. Good, honest men, mostly, spend time in jail and have their reputations ruined. Psychological assessments are made of the good, honest men by corrupt and dishonest ‘experts’ (well paid for their false reports), even when the men have had a life of psychological supervision, testing, and review as they’ve provided counselling to countless people. On appeal the judges simply rubber stamp the injustice, and use legal process to further ruin good, honest, innocent men, eating up their disappeared financial resources, while hiding the truth about the judges’ own lies about the evidence given in court.
RCMP (way too many) focus on good men, help women coordinate false reports over years, invite uninvolved bystanders to create false reports, make false arrests, lay false charges, bully the prisoners, and laugh with corrupt community ‘leaders’ at the fun of ruining good, honest, men, fathers to children who now will be raised by single mothers.
The mothers (far and away too many, for one is already too many) are sick, each in their own way, encouraged by church and community ‘leaders’ to lie, to reward the children for lying in court, to play the victim, as they perpetrate their emotional violence against the men in their lives, just because they can, or because to be honest would mean having to share sizable assets with their men, but killing the men or ruining them in court they get to keep all the assets for themselves. And the children learn that nothing matters except money. Truth, honesty, integrity all must be sacrificed in order to accumulate more and more money. Which perpetuates the cycle of real crimes, and real lies, and real murders into the next, and the next and the next generations.
There is hope for your future, says the Lord: your children shall come back to their own country.
Jeremiah’s words, written in a completely different context, meet today’s corruption of the children and stand firm as God’s promise: True JUSTICE will be done. Our children will return and learn to honour, themselves, their ancestors, and their God. Our children will learn to fear and love God in all things, above all things. Our children will learn to be kind to all people. Our children will learn to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love, and know that it is what makes them able to breathe, and allows them to be that Word for all other people.
We are those children, each day, tempted to hear from the corruptions of the world in all its guises, to place value on things that wither like leaves and grass. To us all Jesus calls out especially this Advent season which is so different than those for us before:
Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.
No one will celebrate Christmas alone, for Christ sits to eat with us, sits to pray with us, sits to motivate us to reach out to family and friends … and especially the strangers in our midst who are all alone.
Perhaps this Christmas, Christ will win the hearts of some of those corrupt politicians and their supporters, judges, some of those RCMP, some of those community ‘leaders’, some of those women … and there will be a double victory for many as injustices are righted AND we celebrate that these people live honourable lives, serving Christ, with integrity seeking truth and the best interests of children and parents … and our future, first, and conducting themselves accordingly … according to a life that is daily guided by repentance, forgiveness, and God’s unconditional Grace and love.
How we will celebrate then!
Since this is God’s promise already to us all, we have much to celebrate this Christmas, much to prepare for this Advent.
Covid 19 places all sorts of challenges before us, and the Holy Spirit guides holy people to seize on them as opportunities to renew our trust in God, and in God alone.
Snow falls, inch by inch, fresh every 12 hours or so. The sun hides above the clouds. The days are short, here 7.5 hours of daylight. Next week they start to get longer, though only by a minute a day taking a whole month to add an hour of daylight. Then the sun will shine on the snow, bright and brilliant, just as Christ’s Light already shines in every darkness, every darkness of the past, or the present and of the future.
Light One, Two, Three candles to watch for Messiah, let the light banish darkness ….
Not the end, like an arcade game, tilted, cheated.
God gives us all another chance to make it right, now.
You shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways or corrupt deeds, Ohouse of Israel, says the Lord God.
Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.
Words of Grace For Today
In a country, powerful and wealthy, rich in precious resources, a country known for it’s open spaces and opportunities … for those who had the power and wealth (at the expense of everyone else) … In this marvellous country those with power and wealth constructed history from fiction, leaving truth behind, leaving all human rights aside, as they dealt with those not of their kind.
Inexplicable deaths, inexplicable disappearances, people suddenly relocating far afield, and never anyone of the wealthy and powerful were held to account for how they killed, forced disappearances, and terrorized people until they, if they were quick enough, moved as far away as possible.
Police and Courts enabled this with arrests and convictions of innocent people for things that never happened. More often though it was the blind eye they turned to the deaths, disappearances and carloads of people moving away under cover of night, leaving their property and wealth to be assumed by the already powerful and wealthy.
With cries for justice for their own kind, raped, murdered, disappeared (horrendous as these atrocities are) the powerful and wealthy ignore that more than four times as many people not of their kind die of violence, physical and psychological leading to suicides unspeakable in number. Even more are maimed, disappeared, or forced to flea for their lives.
Leaders, from among those who used to rule, not so justly either, rise up. With protests for justice, peaceful in organization and perverted by agents of the wealthy and powerful into riots, these new leaders manage (despite the violence wrought amongst them by their enemies) peacefully gain the power, though they do not have the wealth. Two leaders among the new take primary positions.
Unlike the leaders of previous times, recent and far past, they follow Madiba and Tutu’s lead. Instead of assuming the same injustices against others and for themselves, they offer something new, forgiveness. Forgiveness for all the previous leaders of the once powerful and wealthy. To receive forgiveness and amnesty a person only needs to appear in public and tell the truth of what they have done, the whole truth.
In the new powerful previous leaders from among the women are welcome, even encouraged to work to build a just and fair country, so that regardless of gender or previous position, one is valued for what one can offer for the new country.
The new leaders have taken to heart, head and hands Jesus’ command to love even one’s enemies. They have understood well that we shall know that ‘I am’ is the Lord, when God deal with all people for God’s name’s sake, not according to our evil ways or corrupt deeds.
This country is our country, your country, the country of the present as it moves into some time of the future. This country is God’s Kingdom, here on earth.
Let all with ears, hear; with minds, listen; with hearts, wisely understand; with blessings, forgive. For God will come to judge … and shock us all with Grace … even today.
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.
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!
Now when these signs meet you, do whatever you see fit to do, for God is with you.
2 Timothy 2:7
Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in all things.
Words of Grace For Today
Happy Mother’s Day, to the mothers in my life (and in yours.)
How can we meet the expectations that we and others have for how we honour our mothers on this day … when we cannot go see them, give them flowers, ….
There are telephones, and the internet, thankfully.
How can we hug the precious mother who gave us life?
and hopefully astounding love?
In these times this is not possible, or legal, or even advisable … since even if we are asymptomatic we could be contagious and hugging our mothers could share more than we wanted to. We could share that nasty virus that is likely much more dangerous for our mother than for us.
So let words and gestures abound.
Let humour abound.
Let our imaginations abound.
Like the care facility that made a mock up of Tim’s to allow the residents a bit of normalcy: an opportunity to place and receive an order for coffee and Timbits.
Or the children who showed up outside their grandmother’s care-home window, called her to tell her to look out the window, and they danced in a ring, well a sort-of-ring, that turned out to be the shape of a heart! before they rolled all over the ground before standing up in a line to take their bows.
Whatever is required, when we live immersed in God’s Word day in and day out, no matter the challenge that we face, God will be with us as we find our way forward.
Courage, Faith, Love and Hope, all this God provides aplenty for us.
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.
may be difficult for many to believe.
used to be unimaginable to me.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
I known it, personally.
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.
they can be reconciled with their victims.
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.
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
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 reality of Gaslighting is that it is destructive for everyone, but most of all for those who tell the lies.
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
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.
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
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.
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 Blueor 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
name of Jesus we can’t change the past, but we know
the story needs a different ending….
Biblical Images of Life Dried Up
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
The New Ending, Possible?
the past. We can’t change the past, but can
we really give this story a
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.
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.
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.
know full well we can’t change the past, but even
trying to give the story a different ending seems
Epidemic of Senior Loneliness
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.
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
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
can’t change the past, and we only hope
we can give the story a different ending before it’s too late.
into this dark reality, our Advent Sunday of Joy is set as a stark
contrast to our Lenten-like Advent preparations.
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.
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!
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.
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
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!
Light. Run to it. Dance to it. Sing for it with the deepest and
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!
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
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 Adventfor those in need around us.
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
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.
Dorothea Sölle gave the usual list of the 5 basic requirements for life:
appropriate clothing (not fashion, but function: safe from the environment.)
shelter to these she added two more:
love – being loved and being able to love others. And to that I will add that one needs
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!
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!
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.”
I have a wise old friend who told me her story, so similar to another I know as well, too similar for both not to be listened to, believed, and heeded. It is a story how the darkness overcame her and landed her in the darkness from which there was no escape, no matter what she tried. It nearly ended her.
The small light in the darkness saves many. The darkness is made by lies that engulf, sink, and consume the will for joy. Who indeed cares for the truth? Is it little, too little perhaps, to ask that the truth be spoken, heard and listened to? A young girl saw her mother cry silently without words not knowing what was happening. … the guest did as he wished with no fear for if anyone objected then or later complained death would come quickly. And so many times, a different guest, a repeat guest, a different guest. The young girl was ordered to ready the house for the guests so that they would be pleased, moving so quickly to run from the terror. She left behind any thought that she was a person, other than one that made everything ready for the guests. Until this daughter was taken in turn, too young, and taught the small pleasures that are possible, of sorts. In that moment the lies began, and they overtook reality, the horrible reality, that nothing could make right. The darkness is made by lies that engulf, sink, and consume the will for joy. But the darkness, somehow for this little girl, is still lighter than the void that took her soul. Who cares for the truth? It is no joy to know, but the truth does make a few things understandable, even the lies.
So why ask or hope for truth? Through all of time girls and boys have hoped that there would be a place for them in the world, not just a pit of worthlessness, but a path through the sun, through the rain, through the cold, through the heat, through the storms, and in the calm evening breeze on the lake. Why ask if truth is a factor? Cannot one just live with the lies? Cannot one live with the fiction that demeans some in order to eliminate them, and leave more space on the path for others? We have been doing it forever as humans, why not just let it continue? God. God loves. God loves all. So all will be well. All will be well. All manner of things will be well. And we will be the ones to make it well, for all. That is why the truth is important! The truth, bright, blazing truth of Christ, takes all that is not well, makes it brilliantly clear what it is, horrendous and terrorizing, and makes it also well.
The other night, as the evening darkness began to colour the world in blues and oranges, a small beaver swam by going south out from its home in the creek,
and alerted to my presence on shore slapped an alarm and dove to safety leaving the rings of golden shimmer against the night between the trees.
And came back to the surface further on its journey, out in the deep.
The beauty of the night deepened and shone as a few stumps left by the earlier beaver stood watch as the horizon climbed over the shore into the little light that remained.
While just a tinge of light still touched the shore, the beaver came back, heading home for the night, leaving a wake behind that danced in the blues and in the orange-silver-golds of the set sun. Ahh, the night was set right and I headed back home as well …
but no, the beaver was still out for more yet this evening, going back away from, not towards home.
I did then head home, to sleep well, no guests.
Under the care of the Spirit that makes all things well.
Light Truth Joy
It is at sunset as the light begins to close the day, that we see how the light, the goodness of the light persists always to bring us to face, see, hear, and heed the truth, for then the watchful Spirit inspires us to be able to know profound joy.
The sun that daily sets … and rises new again each morning. This friend came to see her darkness, to embrace it, and to set it aside with truth telling and truth listening and truth sharing. Which inspired a number of people to embrace their past, of darkness and ill, and to allow God to redeem it with love for themselves.
There is a path for everyone, or rather a path for each of us, not that it exists until we walk forward, but it unfolds under our movements forward in life toward the end, which is not death, but the ability to love, truly love, with all the sacrifice that entails.
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.
the real deep problem of illuminating only part of reality, but that
is what we are at most capable of.
misadrism it’s not really helpful, it kills the human spirit.
honest is to say:
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
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.
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
killer is the fear. Living in fear limits the horizon to only well
guarded, defensive stances.
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.
is measured in how we help each other see those vistas and the
creator of them.
forecast this morning. Instead we received snow, fluffy big heavy
flakes that made noise landing on the tarps shelter.
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.
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
vista reaches deep inside as the horizon is clouded away and the
light is dimmed.
Sounds like a winter baptism of the world and for the creatures.
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.