Tender Hearted

Friday, April 29, 2022

No Matter The Obstacles or Waves,

Christ Brings Us

to Tender Hearted

Grace for All People

Zechariah 8:17

Do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath; for all these are things that I hate, says the Lord.

Ephesians 4:32

And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Words of Grace For Today

There are great ways to be in this world that provides us so little goodness.

God makes a start with us, and returns over and over again to restore us using everything possible to cure us of our our every ill that would drag us down to the pit.

Sometimes we are surprised like Saul on his way from Jerusalem to Damascus.

Saul sets out to bring in the rogue Christians, (Errant Lutherans we’d say.) Without warning The Light Strikes and The Voice Declares! And Everything is changed!

Sometimes lightning strikes (well near-strikes will do since a direct strike leaves little but a burned corpse), like Martin Luther, and we end up on a journey we had not anticipated.

Most often the journey starts rather routinely, like when a baptismal service starts or at the start of familiar songs at a concert. Hearing only the introductory chords the crowd breaks out into a roar of delight. After the applause rolls to silence the song fills the air, our minds, and our hearts, God at work:

… If it be your will, that a voice be true From this broken hill, I will sing to you From this broken hill All your praises they shall ring If it be your will … (Leonard Cohen’s If It Be Your Will)

The journey after that can be anything. God walks with us, and always calls us to be Grace for others, to be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven us.

The journey is full of challenges. Today the Covid Blues have set in most everywhere and intolerance, rage and violence erupt without warning around us, sometimes from within us.

What are we to do?

Martin Luther knew the blues all too well. His answer was to sit with his friend Philip Melanchthon, drink bear, and sing hymns.

Sounds, Sites, Smells, Memories, Hopes, Dreams. God uses it all to reach us and to restore us.

Whatever God guides us to do, there are so many people needing someone to reach out to them, with kindness, tender heartedness, and forgiveness.

Silence! But the Hills Sing!

Monday, April 25, 2022

Always the Blues

Always the Light

of Christ

Guiding Us Onward Into the Day.

1 Chronicles 16:31

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord is king!’

Matthew 28:18-20

And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Words of Grace For Today

In our lives there are all sorts of challenges to finding one’s way forward to a life of purpose, meaning, and maybe even success.

There are plenty of songs about those challenges and the Covid pandemic has certainly made clear for us how these challenges play out for us. Take all those challenges and add isolation and separation and the risk of breathing one’s last in great pain, or recovering and suffering long-Covid for years and … well it’s just overwhelming.

We want to speak out, and have for years, about the lies made up about us, the lack of truth in so many times and places, lies told to help others accumulate money and power. Yet our voices are taken from us. Our words squashed into oblivion.

Our words echo in the wells of silence … as if the best we can do is get them whispered in the sound of silence.

In this place with no voices, a deserted place, this wilderness of a ‘twilight zone’ where nothing is real and everything stands against us no matter what we do … and so little makes any sense, we are just about to give up hope until …

Just when every ray of hope was gone, I should have known that you’d come along, I can’t believe I ever doubted you, my old friend the blues.

We think there is nothing and then we realize that this is as good as it gets and we still have one friend left.

Another lonely night, a nameless town, if sleep don’t take me first you’ll come around, ‘cause I know I can always count on you, my old friend the blues.

All the other people in our lives drift away, if they ever were really an actual part of our lives.

Lovers leave and friends’ll let you down, but you’re the only sure thing that I’ve found. No matter what I do, I’ll never lose my old friend the blues.

Yes, at least we have our old friend the blues.

Except, God knows this about us as well, and the blues are not the only one who sits through the lonely, sleepless nights, with us. In this place with no voices, a deserted place, this wilderness of a ‘twilight zone’ where nothing is real and everything stands against us, God sits with us as well, keeping watch, looking for ways to inspire us to live fully, no matter what our past is like, no matter what will come in our futures.

While we may end up down in the dumps, all around us the heavens are glad, and the earth rejoices, they say among the nations, ‘The Lord is king! And the hills, mountains, lakes, rivers, trees and meadows resound with the chorus ‘The Lord is King!’

If only we had ears to hear!

For now, we pray, Lord Jesus, take my hand and lead me, whither I do not know, but teach me to trust your guiding hand, to share your Grace and love with all peoples.

Maybe there’ll be a bit of chicken for lunch, and juice for supper with popcorn. These are the blessings of God, walking with me.

For this is as good as it gets.

So we learn to speak truth into the silence, welcome the blues, and watch for the dawn to break in on another day where God’s glory is everywhere, and, even if we are alone, we see God everywhere, as the deer graze the meadow and the rabbit nibbles an early meal, and geese fly from nest to food and back, here in God’s own country.

People of Light?

Thursday, April 21, 2022

One Guest Took Exception

to the Hospitality

I Offered

and

This Was the Result!

Amos 5:15

Hate evil and love good, and establish justice in the gate; it may be that the Lord, the God of hosts, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph.

Ephesians 5:8-9

For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light— for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.

Words of Grace For Today

When the ‘chips are down’ is when one’s true character is revealed.

Or as Michelle Obama said at the Democratic convention that nominated Barack to return for another four years in the White House about her initial misgivings of what the presidency would do her husband, “Being president doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.”

So the Hebrew people are dismembered into fragments by their enemies. Yet Amos urges the people to conduct themselves against evil, for good, and to establish justice in the gate. Perhaps God will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph and they may become a great people again. When they do, they will need to be able to govern themselves with honour and truth, and justice.

It is said many times, we, the children of light, should bear the fruit of living in the light. We should be the people of all that is good and right and true.

My guest’s reaction was unexpected. A blow to my minimal comfort, to my dignity, and my face is hardly what one expects from such a humble guest. I should have known better.

Like so many who fight wars, who live lives of constant deceptions to ‘get ahead’ at all costs (as long as others pay the costs), and the many who work in, feed and feed on, and who benefit from the corruption in our province, our nation, all nations, and around the world, I had gone at the lives of my guest’s relatives without regard. But then no one could expect me not to, could they (as all tyrants and liars are wont to say!?)

So what if I cut them off from the rest of their ‘family’ and even from their own identity as standing tall and strong against the winds of change. Their life’s work as carbon negative beings had come to an end. So why not take them for my own purposes? So what if I cut them to bits and burned them to provide for myself. They were nothing any more, right? Besides it’s not like there are not plenty more like them where they came from!

So what if I had knocked them down to size for my purposes. So what if I split them up? Then this one guest, so odd a guest it was heading off apparently in it’s life from all expectations to take twists and turns that seemed unnatural in a world that is all about being natural!

I had not taken time to reduce this one to the simplest forms, so I was stuck using force to cut it down to size. That’s right I used the crudest and sharpest tools available to me, and added my own brute force, minimal as that may be.

Then that errant guest decided to fight back, and landed me a punch right to the lip, breaking skin, pouring blood about, and dazing me to stagger back and away. At first I wondered what had happened. Then it came back to me. That twisted guest had decided to fly at my face with unexpected speed. Could I have anticipated such a counter move? Maybe, but no guest had ever done anything remotely like this.

So what am I to do?

I will have to get out the chainsaw and go at the remains of that guest, cut it to small pieces, and feed it to the fire.

That is what one does, right?

This guest is after all, a very spirited, very twisted

piece of a tree.

Am I not right in pleading that this is how we deal with trees as guests? We cut them up, split them to size, and feed them to the fire to provide warmth so that we can survive.

It’s one thing to do this to trees fallen in the woods, something quite acceptable, right!?

But what can we say

about all those who do this to their guests, their neighbours, their family members, all who are real people?

Don’t think for a minute that this same treatment is not dealt out to millions of people each day. We can look at the Ukraine, but our view around the world would hardly have begun. We should not be hesitant to look at how this same behaviour flourishes right in our own backyards, our own acreages, our own houses and apartments, our own cities and towns, and similarly around the world.

We just treat guests terribly, and family, and neighbours, and strangers, and our enemies.

Oh how much better my own life would be if this guest were the only one taking potshots at me, unexpected punches to my ‘face’, and delivering knock out blows to my efforts to continue to live in God’s good creation.

How much better life would be for billions of people if all people hated evil and loved good, and established justice in the gate!

“Being [alive and under stresses unimagined] doesn’t change who you are, it reveals who you are.”

So Covid reveals much about us as a species, as a people, and as individuals.

When and how will God be able to call us back to all that is good and right and true as people who live in the light of Christ?

When and how will our character be revealed as the people God created, redeemed, and renewed us to have?

What will it take?

Christ already died for us, to show us God’s steadfast love for us all!

What will it take?

Another punch to the face!?

Another dismembering of the people?

Pray that today God’s Spirit of the people of light will shine in and through you, and in and through each of us, and in and through all of us,

and that justice will be established in the gate, and everywhere including in our homes and churches,

and in our courts especially.

What Time Is It?!

Sunday, April 10, 2022

What Time Is It?

Spring Snow Heavy Falling Time.

Waiting for Summer?

Or

Living in the Wonders of Spring?

Isaiah 8:17

I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.

Titus 2:13-14

… while we wait for the blessed hope and the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds.

Words of Grace For Today

Enlyn Ott, Executive Director of Healthy Congregations, wrote early on in the Covid Pandemic (16 April 2020) in her invitation to her then upcoming workshop:

Constant change, new models and numbers are a way of life for us now. Regular patterns are upended. Relationships need to be maintained in new ways. Technology is used in places that never considered it a possibility before, raising issues of inadequacy as well as a sense of accomplishment. Death and illness are only a breath away.

I have decided to take a line from Winston Churchill for my workshop at the upcoming Navigating the Rapids conference. It is entitled “For Such a Time as This.” What time is this? And what kind of time is it calling us to?

Isaiah begins, I will wait

Titus continues a previous thought with while we wait …

This ongoing, perhaps never quite ending, Covid Pandemic, among so many other things has taught us again that we wait. We must wait. We must wait for the day when we can rush out with no thought of protecting ourselves and others. While we wait for ‘normal’ to return, we need to protect ourselves and other by physically maintaining distance, by wearing the best masks we can get, by improving ventilation and avoiding areas with poor ventilation, by constantly washing and sanitizing our hands, and ‘staying the blazes home!’ when we do not need to go out.

What is this ‘normal’ that we wait for?

Is it worth the wait!?

There is no advantage to anyone by disregarding reality, denying reality, and pretending that Covid is not here and here with a vengeance, and coming yet again with new and more contagious and deadly variants. The real problem we all have is that while we wait we have to know what we are waiting for! Otherwise we can go mad, and like so many, head out without waiting, without caution, without protection for ourselves and others … and with our denial of it’s reality we make the reality of the pandemic last and last and last … and kill and maim more and more people.

On this Psalm – Passion Sunday we remember Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem so celebrated by people, by people fervent with hope, but hoping for a saviour that was and is never to come, a political, a military, a worldly saviour to lead us into our own cruel and evil ways of living off the backs of others, instead of continuing as it is now when others live off our backs, while 2% of the 7 billion on earth live off the backs of the 70% who have next to nothing, and off the backs of the other 25% who believe they have lots, but have so little. The other 3% are God’s saints. Maybe the percentage is larger. One cannot know.

This Sunday we remember how Jesus rode into Jerusalem, and we remember what followed.

Confrontation

Celebration

Betrayal

False Charges

False Conviction

Capital Torture the Sentence

Cruel Taunting

Death

What kind of a saviour suffers these things, and willingly?

The Saviour of the world

Our Saviour

Our Saviour who redeems us from all iniquity and purifies for himself a people of his own.

The ‘normal’ we wait for is certainly not the return of what was ‘normal’ prior to the Covid pandemic and all it’s changes to our lives.

What we wait for is life,

blessed life, as one of Christ’s own, redeemed and purified, still sinners and always saints.

Constant change …. What time is this? And what kind of time is it calling us to?

This is, as always, God’s time, God’s blessed time for us. Our blessed time in God’s time, in God’s blessed creation.

This time, like all time for all generations, calls us to return to Christ, to confess the reality of our lives, the inevitable brokenness of our lives, and to give thanks for the blessings that flow over us so abundantly, waiting

waiting for us to share them with all other peoples.

Covid Costs! Listening to Whom?

Monday, April 4, 2022

What Do We See?

What Do We Hear?

Whose Voice Do We Follow?

Psalm 23:2-3

He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

John 10:27-28

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.

Words of Grace For Today

Covid has exacted a huge cost on us. Not to mention the cost to global, national, and local economies. Not to mention the many people Covid has killed in one of the most excruciatingly painful ways. Not to mention many of those who survive serious Covid symptoms continue seemingly without end for years long-covid: fatigue, pains, circulation and nerve malfunctions, organ malfunction, brain fog, and depression. So much depression.

The greatest number of people suffer even though they have not had Covid, or the symptoms were so mild they barely noticed more than as if they had a light bout of the flu or a bad cold. The suffering is part and parcel, we are told, of living through a pandemic.

Mark Gollom described it this way:

“pandemic fatigue”
Alberta Premier Jason Kenney recently said that, despite the rapid spread of the Omicron variant across the country, Canadians may be at their “outer limits” of what further public-health restrictions they’re willing to accept.
While many people are “burnt out” on COVID and COVID-related news, many [say]
‘We’re sick of it. We hate it, but we’ve got to do it anyway.’
However, the researchers also discovered that pandemic fatigue affects “a substantial minority of people” who tended to have “greater levels of emotional burnout, pessimism, apathy, and cynical or negative beliefs” about the pandemic.
“In other words, pandemic fatigue was associated with heightened self-interest to the expense of community needs,”
That has led to a form of “systematic desensitization…. it’s as if we had built up antibodies against fear.”

https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/pandemic-fatigue-omicron-covid-19-1.6290026 Dec 18, 2021

There are many, many more things going on with all of us, not all of us equally, and some of us to the point that we are nearly totally debilitated, unable to live anything like normal, even taking into account that we may be isolated physically from others.

The words that describe what we suffer go on and on like this: languishing, languor, lethargy, apathy, listlessness, supine (laying on one’s back), supineness, anxiety, fearlessness, angst, dread, disquiet, foolhardy, imprudent, reckless, irresponsible, depression, desolation, despondency, gloominess, dispirited, bleakness, Weltschmerz ….

Or as University of Calgary classics professor Peter Toohey put it in an interview with CBC’s Chattopadhyay: We’re experiencing the ancient state of “acedia”

https://www.cbc.ca/player/play/1800018499786 1 year ago

There are so many voices blaring all over the place, whispering in corners, projecting over crowds and chat rooms, telling us what to think, what to do, who to blame, how to ‘return to normal’, how to be done with Covid, how to cope with Covid, how to live with Covid, for while we may be done with Covid, Covid certainly is not done with us!

Which voices will we listen to?

Like never before, like always before for every person in every generation how we see the world greatly determines what we see, how we feel (the emotional response that takes in all our perceptions, mixes them up with our convolutions from our past experiences), which in turn forms our ‘take’ on the world happenings, which in large part determines how we respond.

So how do we start each day?

Do we enter the new day with angst, panic, depression, apathy, detachment and fear?

Or

Do we listen to the voice that we know, the voice of the One who knows us completely, who created us and loves us and forgives us and renews us.

The One who makes us lie down in green pastures; who leads us beside still waters; who restores our souls. Who leads us in right paths for God’s name’s sake.

Whatever else we know about this day, first and foremost we know that No one will snatch us out of Jesus’ hand.

With that assurance, we are ready come what may.

Apostasies and Wisdom

Monday, January 3, 2022

The View to God’s Glorious Power

Is Clear

As a Brilliantly Cold Winter Day

on the Lake

Jeremiah 14:7-9

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

O hope of Israel, its saviour in time of trouble, why should you be like a stranger in the land, like a traveller turning aside for the night? Why should you be like someone confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot give help?

Yet you, O Lord, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not forsake us!

Ephesians 1:16-19

I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.

Words of Grace For Today

Jeremiah knew, even if the people of his day refused to admit it, that they had all sinned terribly against God. Jeremiah prays that God will not be known as a stranger in God’s people’s land, or like a warrior with dementia who has forgotten how to fight to save his own people.

Jeremiah knows that God is with the people, in their midst, as God has been through all the generations. Jeremiah also knows that God does not automatically ‘save’ the people as they wish to be saved.

God is not always a God of great displays of might while saving God’s people. In fact this time, God turns a deaf ear to Jeremiah’s cries for the people, and the people suffer greatly.

The truth about God is that God cannot be fully comprehended, predicted, or controlled by any human. The writer of Ephesians knows this well and prays that the people of Ephesus (and all the readers of the letter, including us today) will receive from God a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that with the eyes of our hearts enlightened in the mysteries of the saints, we may come to know the hope that God gives us, that guides us, that draws us forward each day as God’s own saints. With the wisdom we may then ‘see’ the great power of God, the power of weakness, humility, suffering, and self-sacrificial love. This is the power of God demonstrated in Jesus’ story, living, teaching, dying, and raising to new life … in order that we might finally believe the impossible … that God saves us even as we think we are losing everything we treasure, even our lives.

God’s power is the greatest power in and beyond the universe. It is the power that creates, sustains, and provides the universe as a place-time for us to live, and to live free to choose to love as God does, or to turn away from God, sinning and creating evil.

Even then God comes to save us again, and again, and again, and … always forever again, so that we might live in God’s love, and live that love for all people around us. This is the spirit of wisdom that God gives us, freely, and the hope that guides us, and the love that is life itself.

What a year to come! To live as God’s saints in this time and place, as real and messy as it is, as challenged as we all are by Covid and the limits it places on our lives, and as wondrous as life has ever been.

Listen to the ‘Jellyfish’

Sunday, January 2, 2022

no need to go batty

whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s

Deuteronomy 32:39

See now that I, even I, am he; there is no god besides me. I kill and I make alive; I wound and I heal; and no one can deliver from my hand.

Romans 14:8

If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

Words of Grace For Today

When the jellyfish came up out of the lake, crawling on all 10 feet, it posed a question that deserves our attention:

What will you do about the rats’ snot that collects on the lower branches of the olive trees, making the collection of sap from the neighbouring maples impossible until fall and then it’s too late, for the time for the amendment of life will have passed us by in the wrong lane?

It’s not a simple question, not like ‘what are we to do with the nuclear wastes from our personal nuclear power pockets that we all carry on our backs to propel us through time and space as we are wont and as we will at the time – or place – that used to be when-where we were?’

That waste … well we can either feed that waste back into our personal reactor for another go at atomizing-chaos-reordering, or we can simply make a quick visit to the nearest sun, deposit our waste in that reaction and then get out so quick it does not consume us for all time in all of space the size of one Adam.

The snotty question of the jelly fish is really the same question that keeps coming up again and again, which we find so hard to state as it is, because .. well we find it so hard because the obvious answer is that we’ve warped the time-space continuum so completely out of whack from it’s original bends and turns that the extreme cases of mist-ordered events and consequences from last year keep getting dwarfed by new extreme event-consequences this year. After a century or two of these it’s pretty hard to catch where the mist is coming from and how the events are consequences or vice versa. It’s just that three orders of species, of the twenty that remain, rely on maple syrup for proper nurturing. And the projections of the best scientists-artists are that any fewer than twenty orders of species and the whole ecosystem of all the various iterations of earth will simply dissolve. It’s like the warnings that no one heeded about climate change and the ice melt of Greenland and Antarctica. But that was centuries ago, or yesterday, depending on where in time one lands or begins.

The only sure thing in this mess we seem to have made of the universe is that God did create it, and whether we live or die we are Christ’s own people, so totally flawed and living by Grace alone.

It’s that Grace that gives us a reference point, the only available reference point in the messed-warped time-place continuum. What is done is done. What is coming will still come. We have now, and only in our now can we make choices, and pray that, also dealing with rat snot, they will reflect God’s Will to give life and heal, and not harm and kill even if it seems it is all impossible to cure of evil.

God’s Justice and Mercy

Friday, December 10, 2021

A New Day Heralded

By the Light of Christ

and Christ’s Blood from the Cross

Spread Across the Sky

Isaiah 60:10

Foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you; for in my wrath I struck you down, but in my favour I have had mercy on you.

Colossians 2:13-14

When you were dead in trespasses … God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.

Words of Grace For Today

God has a beef with us, and (in the terms of today’s many times corrupt courts) issues a warrant for our arrest and incarceration in hell forever.

God finds us, and leaves us at the mercies of our evil enemies, who control us and take our lives as opportunities for their perverse desires. This is indeed hell.

Thank God that is not the last God has to do with us, for God is clear in judgment against all who sin, who turn away from him, not just our evil enemies but us as well. Even more so God is loving and merciful to all people. God takes that writ and the consequences of our suffering in hell for eternity and nails it to the cross of Jesus, God’s only Son.

And there it stays …

and

when we again turn away from God another writ is issued, we suffer, and then God relents and forgives us and nails that writ on the cross.

So it continues through all time

as the cross

is weighed down with writs so countless not even the stars nor all the particles of the universe are so many.

This is how powerful and enduring God’s love is, God’s mercy is, God’s Grace is.

Thus (despite the chippiness of so many people around us because Covid continues with all it’s variants of concern to threaten and thus governments and wise people -no more so than us ourselves continue to restrict our lives) we wake to each new day thankful for all that God provides that contributes to our survival one more day, so blessed are we by God. In this our enemies’ and their destructive deceit withers up like crab apples left to be pecked at by birds and to rot on the trees until they freeze and drop as fertilizer for another summer’s growth.

God’s justice, mercy, and love have reigned, do reign, and will always reign supreme.

Christ’ Golden Verdict: Grace

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The World Hands Down

All Sorts of Verdicts,

Many Fully Unjust!

Christ Hands Down

The Light of the World

That Exposes Lies and Gives Real Hope

With God’s Golden Verdict of Grace

Cause for Hope for Us All.

Isaiah 60:20

Your sun shall no more go down, or your moon withdraw itself; for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your days of mourning shall be ended.

John 12:46

I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.

Words of Grace For Today

Jill sat in her well cushioned rocking chair between the light lunch she’d shared with friends and the book club meeting she would join by zoom. She marvelled at how things had developed in the last two years, so devastating with Jack’s diabetes sending him to his Covid and pain wracked death as he drowned in his own fluids for hours, his son, Bill, suffering a heart attack months after a light Covid cough and fever, her daughter’s eldest daughter taking a severe of Covid just not quite needing to go to hospital but it never really went away as she fought to wake up each day and move even to wash and dress herself and then needing to lie down even before half the morning was by, and all her older friends and Jill herself isolated and cut off from each other … and

then …

How most of them had discovered Zoom on their computers and talked with each other at least once a day, checking in to make sure everyone was alright, helping shop for each other, and getting help when someone needed their drive shovelled or in the summer their grass cut.

And …

all the things they learned to do by Zoom, like the book club, and even a bridge club, playing computer bridge together

and the visits with the great grandchildren that seemed to be the highlight of every day for the kids and for the kid in her.

Looking out the window Jill realized that the closed in feeling over her heart and mind that morning reflected the low and dark overcast sky as if threatening rain or snow as the thermometer outside her window showed it hovered barely above freezing.

She tried to think of things that had made her life and the ever more limited horizons of her world more joyful, or enjoyable, or at least tolerable.

The darkness seemed to press in on her as she read the verse from Isaiah: Your sun shall no more go down, or your moon withdraw itself. Wouldn’t that be a radical change, she thought.

When she was a young person in the 50’s, they didn’t even have a television. The rich people sometimes had one, and all her friends considered themselves lucky if they had a good radio and a record player at home.

Now … well now with computers and the internet and email and Zoom … it was just a wildly different world. Still her dark days seemed to be longer and and more frequent than ever before in her life. There were always challenges in her life, and more than a few dark weeks and even years, but lately with Jack gone, the moon was hard to find and the sun barely shone at all.

As she read the passage from Luke she saw a glimmer of hope, of light maybe returning to her life somehow as Jesus said: I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.

She had always been faithful, honest and kind, and until Jack died she’d counted on the light of Christ to guide her and light her way. Now though ….

Then she remembered her friend Tina, and what Arnold had done to her, gaslighting her, trying to get her to kill herself and almost succeeding (like he had with his first wife), and the web of lies Arnold and the police and even the pastor at church had spread about Tina. She remembered how Tina found joy and light and Christ present even as she lived homeless in the woods by a lake. If she had ever heard of a brass verdict, Tina certainly would never wish that for anyone. She’d have said those kind of verdicts were God’s and God’s alone. Even so God’s judgment would be harsher than a brass verdict that ended in death, it’d last for eternity. On the other hand God always gave people time for the amendment of life. Jill knew Tina was right about all that.

It was time to start her computer to join the book club Zoom, today about a court mystery, a murder mystery, and her heart lightened when she decided she was going to share Tina’s story, and try to share Tina’s joy, light, and Christ’ gracious presence with the others in the club. That would be the best answer to the injustice and the ugly resolution the book provided, a resolution that was as terrible as the injustice that it pretended to ‘solve.’

She sat waiting for the introductory matters to be covered off and then as the moderator started them off she jumped in and said she had a real life story to share, one that helped her understand not only this book’s comments about how the courts were so unjust, but also a better solution to injustice and how one could find the best of life no matter what came one’s way, betrayal by loved ones, injustice from courts, or the destruction of lives by Covid. She thanked Tina silently for what Jill called God’s Golden Verdict of Grace for all the world’s evil.

We ARE In The Same Boat

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Our Shared Boat,

Christ

Has Space for All,

Light for All,

Hope for All.

Ruth 1:16

But Ruth said, ‘Do not press me to leave you or to turn back from following you! Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.

Galatians 3:28

There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

Words of Grace For Today

Often said of Covid-19 pandemic is that we are all in the same boat on this one. Everyone needs to get vaccinated in order for any of us to be safe. That means everyone in the world.

We are not in the same boat, though. We are all dumped out onto the ocean, that is true. The problem is some of us are in private luxury yachts burning diesel to manoeuvre with chefs preparing 3 meals a day with coffee, snacks, and an open bar tea at all hours, others are in luxury sail boats eating gourmet foods, some of us are in smaller boats on survival rations handed out by our governments, and many, many people are hanging on flotsam praying for their very lives.

Naomi is an elderly widow in a foreign country whose two sons have also died. She is leaving to find her way back to her homeland, in hopes of living out her remaining years there. Ruth, one of her widowed daughters-in-law will not abandon her even though Naomi directs the two daughters-in-law to return to their mothers to seek new husbands there.

Ruth promises, even in this hopeless, bleak culmination of time and events, to stay with Naomi, to adopt her homeland, her people, and her God. There is not much hope in any of that, now is there. Not at that time when women had no standing or property or ability to be gainfully employed (with notable exceptions). So Ruth accompanies Naomi and together the two make history, enough that the Bible contains the Book of Ruth.

What would the world look like if we were not so able to abandon all those people hanging on to flotsam in the pandemic of Covid-19?

What would it take for us truly to be united as one kind of people, on privilege of people, on status and wealth of people?

God would have to come and forgive us all our sins, making us equally acceptable before God, based solely on God’s Grace. Then God would have to send us forgiven people out into this wonderful and terribly broken and overcrowded creation to extend that same equal and unconditional forgiveness and love to each other. We would finally be united as beggar-sinners, blessed by God’s own generosity towards us all.

And this God demonstrated with Jesus’ story is exactly what God did do for us all.

So we are united as one under Christ, without distinction, without class or privilege or wealth differences. When it counts we are all in the same boat … with Christ making our way across the dead sea of our sins and past evils that still hold us in bondage.

When it counts we are all in the same boat … the trouble is we continue to sin, and cannot stop ourselves, so that some are climbing out of our shared boat with Jesus into their private luxury yachts, others are tossing people out of Jesus’ boat into the open ocean to die, and yet others are jumping ‘free’ because they cannot stand the thought that they are at best beggars for God’s mercies.

When it counts those of us who are saved by Christ and follow Christ … we are all in the same boat … and we work hard as we are, knowing we are God-made saints, and simultaneously still sinners, yet inspired by the Holy Spirit to be God’s love and grace for those around us.

We certainly are in the same boat and the rations are not fancy. The seating is crowded. Yet we are still afloat … by Grace alone.

Thanks be to God.