Threats and ‘Paddles’

Friday, April 9, 2021

We may think we are up a creek without a paddle,

Doch,

God provides all the ‘paddle’ we need:

God’s blessings and claim that we are God’s own

Isaiah 43:1

Thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Romans 8:31

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

Words of Grace For Today

The challenges of our days can overwhelm us.

The challenges of Covid 19 can overwhelm us.

Other people’s lack of compliance with restrictions in place to protect us all from Covid 19 and it’s debilitating long term effects can not overwhelm us, it can maim us for life, or kill us.

What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?

We may be terribly afraid of what can happen to us, or what others will try to do to us, even when we have done nothing to warrant such threats to ourselves.

While we may seek security in all sorts of manners and means, there is only one real source of security, no matter our circumstances, no matter how luxurious our ‘boat’ through the waters of life and Covid 19 may appear to be: Our only true security is God’s blessing and claiming us.

What does God say?

Thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

We can relax, think clearly, plan and work as best we can, be thankful and generous with all we have, even our lives … for we can trust that we are in God’s hands.

God is Dead!?!

Saturday, April3, 2021

God’s Glory

Reaches Everywhere

Psalm 105:7

He is the Lord our God; his judgments are in all the earth.

1 Peter 3:18

For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.

Words of Grace For Today

God’s judgments are in all the earth and the judgments God makes is –

that God will sacrifice himself, even to death on a torturous cross, in order to give us life abundant.

Usually we think of judgments as condemning the unrighteous and commending the righteous. This is not God’s way with us.

Good thing because, if we acknowledge the truth, we are all unrighteous and worthy only of being condemned.

This day we remember that Jesus, fully God, lay dead in a tomb hewn out of a rock hillside.

God was dead.

This is what we unrighteous people deserve, yet fully righteous Jesus suffers our deserved ends.

The universe did not fully know then, and we can hardly full know now, the profound event of God being dead, of God suffering death and a torturous death at that, and of unjust humans exercising their petty power to condemn God to death.

This we remember for three days, or part thereof, and this Saturday all day long.

We remember, with grateful hearts, for without this sacrifice we would likely not know God’s intentions towards us unrighteous people. God’s intentions are …

Well the story of God communicating to us through Jesus, fully God and fully human, does not end on this day. It continues tomorrow, and each tomorrow … even during Covid 19 pandemic’s challenges.

God’s Intention Is To Make God’s Glory

Down to Earth Obvious

to Us

Jesus Dies, We Are In Life Together

Friday, April2, 2021

In The Weeds

What Boat Are You In?

Have Any Room for Others?

Psalm 147:14

He grants peace within your borders; he fills you with the finest of wheat.

Ephesians 2:14

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.

Words of Grace For Today

While we struggle to get more than the next person, or more than we had yesterday, or maybe just enough to survive, we put ourselves in competition with others for limited resources.

Or so we think and say.

It is not so much that resources are unlimited, it is that life abundant does not require that some have so much, and others not nearly enough. More and more and more does not provide life; it only corrupts the life right out of us.

God’s peace, not only between nations, but within our borders, and between us all, even in our families and homes, does not require more and more and more.

God’s peace requires a reality check: we are God’s creatures, ‘they’ are God’s creatures, which means there is no real ‘they’, only ‘us’ all together.

Today we remember that Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice to demonstrate that God is not interested at all in our sacrificing each other in order to ‘get ahead’ or ‘to get our fair share.’

God is very interested in us sharing life, and all that makes up life, with others. Sometimes that looks like we sacrifice our own possessions or privilege or comforts … or even our own lives … in order that others may live. In reality we can only share what God has given us, a loan, as stewards. Everything is intended for everyone. God lived and died as a human to demonstrate that to us as clearly as possible.

Dr. Bonnie Henry points out that during Covid 19 we may all be in ‘the water’ together, but we certainly are not in the same boat. Some have luxury yachts and others are bailing out the dingy to save their lives.

It’s time we got everyone in a ‘safe boat.’

The Day of the Lord

Monday, March 29, 2021

The Glory of the Lord

is not only a ‘some day’ hope.

It is evident every day

in the simplest ways.

Zechariah 14:9

The Lord will become king over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one and his name one.

Revelation 22:3-4

Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

Words of Grace For Today

The Day of the Lord has many names. It is the day when all the wrong, sin, and evil that humans have perpetrated against each other and against creation and against God will cease and the after-effects will cease as well.

In human terms the rule of unjust humans over others will cease, and God will be king over all the earth and over all people; justice and truth, mercy and compassion, forgiveness and life-giving love will be the way humans will interact with each other.

In divine terms, all that is accursed will no longer exist. The city of God, the New Jerusalem, will be founded (or revealed to us). Jesus is the sacrificial lamb, given to convince us in terms we understand, that God forgives and loves us unconditionally – and that there is no limit to the lengths God will go to to forgive us and more, to convince us we are forgiven. Except God will not violate our freewill as beings capable of love. God will love us, forgive us, walk with us, stand by us, care for us, guide us … but God will not take away our ability to love ourselves, each other, all creation, and God.

This Jesus will no longer be a sacrificial lamb. He will be raised to the most exalted position, to sit on God’s throne, ruling with sacrificial love, over all the universe.

The Day of the Lord has many names and many images and many hopes expressed in them.

The Day of the Lord is the day when all that is wrong will be set right.

Those who benefit from the wrong that is now perpetrated and live lives of comfort will cease to live in comfort. They rightly fear and deny that the Day of the Lord will ever come.

The great majority of humans who have ever lived, and the great majority of those who live on earth now, will no longer suffer the ignominy of being forced to provide comforts and luxuries for others at the expense of the basic necessities of life, and even their lives. For the great majority of humans the Day of the Lord is the expression of hope that provides the little comfort available to them; on that day all will be set right, and those responsible and blithely benefiting from the wrong will no longer exist.

The Day of the Lord has been anticipated for generation upon generation … and is yet to come to be. Still we do not give up hope that God will set right all the wrongs that are done against us. We do not give up hope that God will set right the little wrongs (and not so little) that we do to each other.

Freedom. Hope. Life based solely on forgiveness and love.

We are not yet at the Day of the Lord.

For now, our sins give witness to God’s response to our failings: God forgives and loves and renews us.

For now, we get to be bearers of the Good News that God has placed before us in many and various ways, and in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection: namely that the substance of life is love, and the glue that holds it together, and the lubricant that makes it still move is unconditional forgiveness and love.

For now we have quite the life to live and to live that life in the full expectation of the Day of the Lord pulling us forward through each day’s challenges (including all that Covid 19 makes more obvious.)

Deliverance, Full Deliverance

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Sometimes by Fire

Sometimes by Water

Always God Delivers Us

Psalm 3:8

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

Matthew 9:35

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

Words of Grace For Today

God delivers people … everyday …

and sends us who have been delivered out into the world

to deliver others

by proclaiming God’s Grace

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

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

God delivers us …

from the anchors of old diseased habits of worship

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

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

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

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

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

Dominion & Deception vs Humble Temples

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Sometimes

We Need Someone To Hold Us

Lest We Break Off

From All That Gives Us Life

Genesis 1:28

God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’

1 Corinthians 3:22-23

Whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all belong to you [as God’s Temple, God’s Spirit dwelling in you], and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Words of Grace For Today

1 Corinthians 2:18 reads: Do not deceive yourselves. If you think that you are wise in this age, you should become fools so that you may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.

Blessed to have dominion over every living thing we humans have thoroughly deceived ourselves as if we owned and could do with the creatures and creation what we pleased, even if that meant ruining earth as a habitable planet for other species and even ourselves.

Everything is from God.

We are all God’s.

God’s Spirit lives in us.

We are blessed to be blessings to others, not to wreak havoc on others and the rest of creation.

Our dominion over anything is always as stewards, and stewards for a God that created everything, declared it GOOD!, and loves creation and all creatures in it.

It’s all about reality.

First and ultimate always is we are God’s.

We are not some other human’s possession or work.

We are not independent beings.

We are ALL in this together, as Covid 19 has taught us.

While we are not in the same boat, some are in a few people in each luxury yacht and some are bailing to save everyone in their overloaded leaky dinghies, and some are hanging on to flotsam for dear life.

God gives us dominion in order that everyone can live even through a pandemic (when the circumstances of life for each and all become more obvious) in a save boat.

We have lots to do, and always it is futile to proceed as if we were anything less or more or other than God’s stewards.

Angels vs Upheaval

Monday, March 22, 2021

No Matter the Obstacles in Our Path

God’s Angels Encamp around Us,

Guiding Us

Psalm 34:7

The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them.

Luke 11:10

For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Words of Grace For Today

There are enough challenges to everyday,

even ordinary everyday days.

Through in upheaval like a pandemic, or injustice focused at oneself, or … [fill in the extraordinary upheaval that meets every life] the challenges can seem to be a bit overwhelming.

Then it is good to know that God’s Angels ‘encamp’ around we who fear and love God.

Then it is good to know that when we ask, God provides (what we need, not necessarily what we ask for). When we search, God guides us to find (what we need, not necessarily what we thought we sought). When we knock, God opens (the door that God knows we need to have opened, not necessarily the door we were banging away on).

To fear and love God.

To fear and love God is the beginning of everything good.

To fear and love God is the beginning of every good day, every good hour, every good minute.

To fear and love God is the beginning of every good relationship, project, or yearning.

Help us, we pray, to fear and love God before all else, (more than all the things that threaten to and do upend our lives.)

Help us, we pray, to trust God’s Angels are with us, (no matter what threatens to and does upend our lives.)

WORD and CREATOR for US

Sunday, March 21, 2021

The Journey Forward

is on

Word-calmed Waters.

Paddle Onward Without Fear.

Isaiah 48:13

My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they stand at attention.

John 1:1-3

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.

Words of Grace For Today

God, who comes to our rescue, who delivers us again and again, who sanctifies us making us holy and thus wholly capable of bearing the Good News of Grace to all people … God, who loves us, is the One who spoke a Word in the beginning before anything including time, spread out a right hand to create the heavens, laid the foundation of the earth.

The universe was not created by some godlet. Nor is our God some inconsequential being, to be ignored or dismissed.

It’s more than ‘turtles all the way down’ that the earth is founded on; it is founded on unconditional love.

In the beginning was the Word. We later came to know this Word as Jesus, the communication from God in a human life; the language we can understand.

The heavens and earth may come to attention when God summons them. God did not create us so bound to God’s Word. We get to really mess up terribly, ignoring the Creator and the Word if we so choose … which we humans do all too often.

The Word came to communicate that God accounted for our rebellion and sin and evil. God forgives us our rebellion and sin and evil, and sets us right with God our Creator and Sustainer. Thus we may forge ahead each day, each minute, not hounded and horrified by the depth and breadth of our past rebellion and sin and evil. We may live free of that, and bind ourselves anew to receiving God’s blessings in such an abundance that they spill off us to those around us; they flow through us to others even emptying us … purifying us and taking the life right out of us as we become the bearers of God’s Good News of Grace to all people: God loves us!

Now with God standing with us, why would not the hoards of armies surrender to us making noise? Why would the walls of Jericho not crumble at our trumpets’ calls? Why would the chaos of un-creation void (the ocean waters) and the storms of chaos breaking in through the heavens not obey the Word spoken: ‘Be still!’

May our hearts be also stilled this and each day, from the chaos of fear, false pride, jealousy, and greed, so that we can calmly face the challenges of each day, even if it is one day among many of a pandemic.

Breathe deeply

Relax

Meet the challenges with patience and assurance that God is with us, saving us, guiding us, inspiring us to do holy things for all peoples.

Trouble is Nothing . . . For We Are God’s

Friday, March 12, 2021

Dark Clouds Sit On The Horizon

And Over Us.

Doch, God Is With Us

And We Need Fear Nothing nor Anyone!

Psalm 22:11

Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

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 trouble threatens us, though we have done nothing to bring that trouble to ourselves.

When hoards of people believe the lies that created that trouble, repeating and augmenting the lies against us.

When the courts join in believing obvious lies and creating more of their own, and covering up their lies.

AND

There is no one to help.

OR

When the violence of greed for resources spills into our communities, forcing us to choose to acquiesce to the greed to secure a small respite for ourselves at others’ cost, or face the violence that will surely destroy us, or we run for our lives to join the other millions of refugees.

AND

There is no one to help.

OR

When the greed of unjust people rob us of our food, of our land, of our ability to provide for ourselves.

AND

There is no one to help.

OR

When the world is against us in any way at all, taking from us the abundant life that God has given us

AND

There is no one to help.

THEN

We remember

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.

God’s truth renews our courage to face whatever comes our way. We do not succumb to the temptations to give up God’s truth. We do not succumb to the temptations to fail to proclaim with our words and deeds God’s Word. We do not succumb to the temptations to fail to invite even our enemies to seek God’s peace, to be converted by the Holy Spirit, to provide justice based on truth, and to contribute to God’s double victory, standing with us and all people who face the trouble of other’s sins and evil that would rob life from us and them.

We pray with confidence:

Do not be far from us, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

For we know God is with us always.

Though no one stands with us, God walks with us and we are God’s children. Nothing nor anyone can separate us from God.

Certainly not Covid 19, nor Covid19 restrictions, nor Covidiots!

Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

We are Children of the Light

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

In the Dark

or

In the Light

We Remain Children of the Light

Micah 7:8

Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.

1 Thessalonians 5:5

For you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.

Words of Grace For Today

Are we to be good?

Are we to be evil?

Sometimes the difference between what we are to be is what we know about ourselves.

In knowing truth, there is hope that cannot be lost.

Darkness is powerful. It tempts many to lie in wait, to prey upon the weak, to put all their weight into the lie that will bring them forward.

The Light gives Life as God created us to live it.

Who are we?

Who have we been in the past?

Who are we going to be in the future?

God knows.

God knows who we are.

God knows who we are is what most of us have lost track of.

So God expends so much to show us who we are, to give us freedom from our past to be what we are, to guide us into the future so that we will be who we are, and who God created us to be.

YET

YET we always are so eager, able, and willing to choose to work the dark work of the Devil, to try to take shortcuts to a better life. There are no shortcuts. Shortcuts or cuts at all are not what is needed.

God’s work in us is all that is needed, and it is the only thing that can move us to live in the Light.

The Light is frightening for most of us, we’ve hidden from our sins for so long. The light is the only way that God created us to live. So we remember even in the face of our enemies:

when we fall, we shall rise; when we sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to us, for we are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.

Thanks be to God!