Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 2

Thursday, July 2, 2020

The Pastor

A Spouse

You get the idea,

If you have a spouse

Psalm 8:2

Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

Luke 1:49

The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Words of Grace For Today

All through life we learn how to respond to challenges. We learn to tie shoes. Maybe not, since more and more shoes are just Velcro. We learn to make allowances for others while we play, then as we study (if we learn to study), then as we raise a family (if we have children), as we mature with a spouse (you get the idea: if we mature -:), as we work, and as we age, retire and kick the bucket (stubbing our toe as we most always do).

All this supposedly gives us common sense, which seems less and less common. All this supposedly gives us knowledge, which seems less and less based on reality for many. All this supposedly gives us opportunity to fill our lives with goods, which we throw away for newer, maybe better goods as if our own worth were dependent on our goods.

God, in many and various ways, keeps trying to communicate to us, hard headed and stiff-necked that we are, to show us all of this is inside-out, up-side-down, or of no consequence when it comes to being part of God’s good creation, and the goodness we are to be (in thought, word, and deed) for others and our own souls.

How great it is that God keeps communicating with us, generation after generation, day after day. Only God who is holy could bear us rascal sinners with such loving patience and grace.

It is not complicated. It is so simple that this way of being (sacrificially loving, forgiving and renewing others) can easily come from infants and young children.

We get to unlearn the world’s lessons, and practice the foolish truths that a child’s perspective on the Goodness of Creation can teach us.

Thanks be to God.

Covid 19 places huge challenges before us. The blessing in these challenges is that we have to re-orient our lives and have therein opportunity to practice again that foolishness of Christ, which brings life to all people.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – June 23

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Fire, Fire

Fire of God

Word of God

Both spread like Wildfire!

Psalm 147:15

He sends out his command to the earth; his word runs swiftly.

2 Timothy 2:8-9

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David—that is my gospel, for which I suffer hardship, even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained.

Words of Grace For Today

People’s responses to God’s Grace can all too often be rejection and attack of the messengers.

God’s Word is not affected or restricted or limited or stopped. God’s Word permeates the universe like the strings that physicists theorize may make up the universe.

The Word, like subspace transmissions, travels faster than light, travels instantaneously everywhere.

Jesus Christ lives. Not even death can stop God!

God’s Word will where it wants, makes what it will.

We know, it wills not that we are enslaved, but that we remain free in God’s own good creation: free to choose to love instead of hate; free to choose to do righteousness for others instead of harm others striving for our own self realizations; free to choose to sacrifice ourselves in order that others may live, as Christ did for us; free to choose to live an abundant life, measured not by comfort, things, privilege or power, but measured by how many other people benefit from us reflecting God’s free, gracious, generous forgiveness, renewed life, and spirit (sometimes called chutzpah or gumption or nerve) to reflect the Light of Christ instead of our meagre attempts to shine.

The Word

travels instantaneously to where it is needed,

to strengthen the defences against the Devil and his evil perversions of good creation.

to heal our every ill

to renew life.

There is nothing else that is trustworthy other than God’s Word.

What Is Energy?

Energy is Something, eh?

Wood Cut

Is energy what God stores, in places we’ve found, to extract to use to warm, power, and run our lives of greater and greater comfort.

.

..

Small Pile

Can we store up energy, in a pile, or in tanks, in order to stay alive?

.

..

White Birch Lovely

Does God Store Energy in Beauty?

.

..

..

Fire Red

Does God Store Up Energy in the White and Red Clouds?

.

..

Smoke and Cloud

Can We See the Energy That is There?

.

..

Branch and Light

Certainly There is Great Energy in a Little Branch and Great Beauty

.

..

Water Swirls Reflect Reality?

Sometimes Swirls of Clouds Reflected in the Greatest Reservoir of Energy is God’s Clue

.

..

See the Light? Fear the Light as the Wicked, Or Rejoice in the Light?

The Light of the Sun has the Greatest Energy, other than its Maker

.

..

It is the Maker that we reflect with hope and faith.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – June 18

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Sky’s on Fire!

Storms a coming!

OR a Beautiful Night? OR

Waiting for the stars?

Genesis 6:22

Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Words of Grace For Today

People say that there is no reason to hope that … and then they go on to say what they have no hope for.

Everyday language would use the word ‘hope’ that way. But hope is really something much different.

It may help to put the word hope in a few wider contexts with comparisons to other words.

Pessimism is looking at all the evidence available and drawing a conclusion that gives the bad evidence more importance. So the glass is half empty and going down. The world is in the worst shape it’s ever been. Humans are the worst species and are quick capable of destroying the whole earth. That’s pessimism for you, always coming up with the trajectory straight into trouble and deeper.

Optimism is looking at all the evidence available and drawing a conclusion that gives the good evidence more importance. So the glass is half full and getting fuller. The world is in the best shape it’s ever been. Humans are the best species with the greatest chance of saving planet earth. That’s optimism for you, always coming up with the trajectory straight into a wonderful world and beyond.

Realism what people use to say their view of optimism and pessimism is right, not skewed like the other views.

Hope looks at all the evidence available, finds none that indicates God’s will is being done, and yet with no evidence to support this belief, lays everything on the line, trusting that God’s will is being done, God’s will is what we are supposed to be cooperating with, and in the end God will provide all that we need, even if that means all we get is a room prepared for us in the city of light, in life eternal.

Hope beyond hope is just hyperbole. Properly said one might mean: hope beyond all evidence, which is hope in it self anyway.

If we need to remember how great hope can be, remember Noah building the ark and ridiculed by all around … until the water starts pouring down, and keeps pouring down.

We may face challenges, on top of Covid 19, someone we most trusted has broken that trust by doing something blatantly illegal; of cancer has returned; or your lies in court have been noticed by the police; or your cheating on your taxes is being investigated, or (fill in your favourite sin) has been noticed by someone close to us and we have gravely disappointed them, or … the kids are just getting on your nerves too much … or the idiots are running their unlicensed motorcycles and quads all over the place, set off fireworks every night, and party until 3 and 4 in the morning so that it’s terrific when it storms at night to shut it down.

Pessimists would say: it’s just going to get worse.

Optimists would say: it’s just people blowing off steam. It will get better soon.

The person of Hope would say: God’s creation will withstand also these assaults on good sensibilities, and God provide all enough sleep, despite the neighbours late hours.

Perhaps Noah would like to take the fireworks, motorcycles and quads, and the party-ers on the ark for a little ride … somewhere far away. But that’s just hope beyond hope.

Perhaps God has other plans?

Perhaps there is hope yet, that some sense, respect and common decency will enter into these people’s lives …

or more likely I will gain an understanding of how helpful and beneficial all these late hour activities are for other people, so I will smile, instead of grimace, at their occurrences, waking me from my sleep.

There’s always hope.

Here’s hoping.

I Hope.

.

Faith is beyond hope. It is a gift of trusting when there is no reason to trust, or to hope.

Faith is a gift that the Holy Spirit continually renews in us, since we wear it thin so quickly.

Faith is the most powerful thing we will ever know in our lives.

Love comes in almost tied with Faith.

Some have said Love comes in first.

Regardless, there are these three: Faith, Hope and Love.

There is nothing like them in all the universe.

Prayer: For Trinity Sunday & Everyday

Our Breastplate Prayer for Today

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

Mist and Mysteries

Caught in the Mists

of Mystery, Doubt, and Threats,

We Invoke

The Trinity, 3in1

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yet, the Devil would have me filled with fear.

Name the fears of this day:

Fear of a virus called Covid 19.

Fear of being alone and forgotten.

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

Fear of police power and martial law abused.

Doch!

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

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

up, down,

to the left, to the right,

in front of me, and behind me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amen

..

.

St Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer Information

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

St Patrick’s Breastplate Prayer

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity.

Through the belief in the threeness,

Through confession of the oneness

Of the Creator of Creation.

.

I arise today

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

Through the strength of his crucifixion with his burial,

Through the strength of his resurrection with his ascension,

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

.

I arise today

Through the strength of the love Cherubim,

In obedience of angels,

In the service of archangels,

In hope of resurrection met with reward,

In prayers of patriarchs,

In predictions of prophets,

In preaching of apostles,

In faith of confessors,

In innocence of holy virgins,

In deeds of righteous men.

.

I arise today

Through the strength of heaven:

Light of sun,

Radiance of moon,

Splendour of fire,

Speed of lightening,

Swiftness of wind,

Depth of sea,

Stability of earth,

Firmness of rock.

.

I arise today

Through God’s strength to pilot me:

God’s might to uphold me,

God’s wisdom to guide me,

God’s eye to look before me,

God’s ear to hear me,

God’s word to speak for me,

God’s hand to guard me,

God’s way to lie before me,

God’s shield to protect me,

God’s host to save me

From snares of devils,

From temptations of vices,

From everyone who shall wish me ill,

Afar and anear,

Alone and in multitude.

.

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

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

Against incantations of false prophets,

Against black laws of pagandom

Against false laws of heretics,

Against craft of idolatry,

Against spells of witches and smiths and wizards,

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

Christ to shield me today

Against poison, against burning,

Against drowning, against wounding,

So that there may come to me abundance of reward.

.

Christ with me,

Christ before me, Christ behind me,

Christ in me,

Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

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

Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me.

.

I arise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,

Through belief in the threeness,

Through confession of the oneness,

Of the Creator of Creation.

Amen!

Covid 19 – Invitation to Be Together

But safely apart at home,

If you have one.

19:00 hours: One Minute to Be Silent, Then One Minute to Be Connected –
Separate yet Together

Covid-19 has separated us physically from one another, or rather
we have separated ourselves in order to protect ourselves from SARS-Cov2.

But we need not be socially or spiritually separated from one another.

Take a minute at 19:00 hours (7 pm) to say a prayer or keep silence or remember others.

None of us are in this alone. Most all of us can reach out to others. Do what you can, for yourselves and for others. Be careful, respectful, and courageously hopeful.

Take a minute at 19:01 hours (7:01 pm) to say, by making noise, creative and loud noise (so that others know), you are there and well.

If you are in a car, honk!

If you are at home, set up music to play loudly!

Or set off your smoke alarm (test button only, not smoke- be smart!)

Or have the children join you in loud singing their favourite song, or hooping and hollering!

Be creative, coordinate your noise making with neighbours, so that there’s cooperation in the music or noise.

Then at 19:15 listen in quiet, unless …

At 19:15 if you need help now it’s your turn to make some noise.

If you need help urgently, if it is an emergency, make the three long noises, three short noises, and finally three more short noises for the Morse code for SOS.

Listen, and respond, with care to keep from passing contagions between people, households, or neighbours.

Consider that every day we are inundated with Covid-19 news, most of it alarming. To keep this in perspective, perhaps limit one’s news gathering/listening to the news to shorter periods at most 2 to 3 times each day.

And

Take a minute at 07:00 hours, or the beginning of your day, as at 19:00 hours, to say a prayer or keep silence or remember others.

Colour the beginning of each of your days with Courage, with Compassion, with Creativity, and with Hope.

Know that you are not alone as you do this.

Invite others to keep these minutes as well.

Let our paths virtually cross.

End of Many Concerns

.

Ahh, Great Light, Great Night to Come, Easy Walk.

Nice Day on the Ice

End of

A good day fishing

Fishing season

Drinking on the lake

.

Lots of Tracks

Lots of Tracks

SarsCov2 in that fishing hut

Risk management with a wood stove

Warm days at the lake

‘Burning your playhouse down’

.

Looking for the Light

Looking for the Light

Sharing one’s feelings 

Hauling, Cutting, Hauling, Splitting, Hauling, Smoke, Ash

Hot Times on the Ice

.

The Butt End of it All

The Butt End of it All

.

..

….

Start of:

Living alone

Fishing in the cold air

More bad luck

.

Catching the Last Rays of the Day

Catching the Last Rays of the Day

Looking for SarsCov2 elsewhere

Being able to stand up straight without hitting ones head

.

It’s All She Wrote

Karma – (But, Karma, this was not on the list! Karma, what you doing!)

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That’s it! Schluss! Fire’s Gone Cold.

That’s it! Schluß! Fire’s Gone Cold.

Gaslighting One-Track Moon Hope

There is no way to fully counter Gaslighting

The best way is to live the truth, speak the truth, trust God,

When everyone who should know better,

everyone who is a professional and equipped, supposedly, to know better,

joins in the Gaslighting what can one do?

Trust God, look for God, encounter the infinite.

One Track Free After Dusk

O

N

E

Track

Mi nd

Go

I

N

G

Outward

T

Ards2

N

O

Where

O

Where

Has the

Dear

Sun

Gone?

Getting ready to

Stice

The

Poor

Sol

.

Suns that forget to rise, Sun that stands still!

What will come next, that this hell will (once again) freeze over?

Even

T

he

Moon

Shy Winter Moon

Is shy

Of

T

He

Sky

barely poking its own light even as low as the sun stays in the shade all day

this is winter.

Before long there is

more than one track

now that the Fishers are out

Whose Fishing, Whose Hunting, Whose the Prey? Pray it’s not you.

But where to? Where do they all go?

To out there somewhere

left of the lynx tracks?

Or just

out

there?

What to do when tracks that are, can be photographed and proven to have been even when they melt,

but

words

that are said

that are used to define me

are

not

a reflection of even a shy moon?

Or even

a long since erased lynx track?

Yet alone the person I am!

How does one prove

that the profound Gaslighting

joined

in by

so

many

who

are entrusted to know better

how can one prove that the

supposed tracks

of

a

dog

do

not

belong

to me?

Because the false claim is made so long ago and consistently since with new twists of total fiction

that

I

am

(supposedly)

a

dog?

A dog could make tracks like a lynx, yes.

But

I am a child of God

ordained

kind

generous

a messenger of and creator of Grace!

I leave tracks of new life, hardly of a dog, hardly vicious, hardly (fill in you favourite lie about me.)

What damage the lies do

least of all to me

and most of all to those

who make them up,

and those who

accept the lies given to them

and then make up their own

and

demonstrate to children and observant adults that truth

is long since

insignificant

when one can make one’s way

by

the lie

to

anywhere?

Remember Real Stuff

Remember, live well, and reflect the light of Christ …

the truth is the gift that remembered will set one free from the death of Gaslighting.

Remember as clear as one can spring, fall, and summer

when water required a canoe

for

now as

one walks on water

The miracle that one is still alive after all this Gaslighting is

more

than

walking on water, even if it were not frozen water.

Give God thanks.

Choose Life, Give Freedom

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Philemon 1-21
Luke 14:25-33

In the Promised Land, Choose!

In the Fade, movie

Set in Germany In the Fade is a movie about people choosing the destruction of life. A German mother drops her young son off with her husband at work so that she can make a visit. Leaving his office the mother admonishes a young woman to lock up her new bike she’s just left with a case on its rear carrier. When the mother returns the police inform her that her husband, a German of Turkish descent, and their young German-born son were killed by a fertilizer nail bomb. The bike’s case held the bomb made by the perpetrator’s husband.

The outcome of the trial seems obvious, but their lawyer creates reasonable doubt; the bombers are acquitted. Captive to revenge the grieving mother tracks the guilty-acquitted couple to a beach on the ocean. There she kills them with a fertilizer nail bomb, and she loses her life in the process.

The movie denounces the rise of neo-Nazi killings. The first bomb was set to kill as many non-native Germans as possible. More clearly it demonstrates that, without the freedom of faith that calls us to forgive, people choose to become captives to revenge. Revenge is a two-edge sword that cuts everyone.

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The Dark Churn of Chaos Obstructs Our View of God’s Son

OT: As you enter the PL, Choose: life or death, blessings or curses

By comparison, living in God’s promise is a multi-sided blessing. As God delivers God’s promise to Abraham and ushers the people across the Jordan into the Promised Land, Moses admonishes them to choose God each day. Moses knows they will need to or they will fall under the curses of other gods, including gods that people still choose today. Living in the Promised Land does not mean that life will be easy, obvious, or without dire peril. Nor does it mean that all people are free. Today people are regularly enslaved as labourers around the world and on the high seas as well as those forced into the sex trade.

God delivers us into the Promise. God will not take us out of the Promised Land. As God’s children God frees us so that we always have a real choice between Life and Death, between blessings and curses, even when we do not see the choices clearly.

What Promised Land has God brought us to, long ago, or maybe just yesterday? What Blessings and Curses must we choose between?

Remember first that God’s Promise delivered at our baptism is that we are always God’s children, made righteous by Jesus’ sacrifice and Grace. God gives us a choice, but it is not about receiving or earning God’s Grace and our salvation. Our choice is how we live in that Grace. Do we, guided and inspired by God’s Spirit, choose blessings and life, or do we choose our own ways that lead to curses and death for us and for others?

Break my Heart, (Set me on fire!)

A well-known prayer reads: “May my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” (World Vision’s founder, Bob Pierce).

The risk of praying this prayer is that God might just answer it with a Holy Fire that sets our hearts on fire to bring blessings to every human of the 7.7 plus billion whom we can possibly effect, starting today, with those beside us, those we meet each step through each day, and those we go out of our way to encounter, until everything in our lives changes as we become the hands, voice and blessings of Christ. We join the great cloud of witnesses to Christ’s love for all people.

.

When We Dwell Beside Living Water, God Fires Up Our Hearts

NT Philemon’s Real Story: Giving FREEDOM

In our second lesson for today we read part of the letter Paul wrote to Philemon and his congregation. It is about an escaped slave, Onesimus, the man who carries the letter to Philemon. Paul sends him back to his master, Philemon, and lights a Holy Fire under Philemon.

Escaped slaves were crucified, a dire warning to any other slaves who tried to escape. Anyone, through a terrible turn of fortune or war, could become a slave. Becoming a freed slave was very, very rare.

Still Paul admonishes Philemon, with the congregation listening, to do the rare but right thing, the good thing, the personally costly thing.

C.S. Lewis: Paint and Eggs, Stain and Get Cracking

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity called this the difference between paint, which merely covers the surface, and stain which soaks in deep to protect to the centre. Paul trusts that the Gospel daily seeps down into Philemon’s heart and strength. As with all Paul’s new converts in congregations spread so far, Paul nurtures the seeds of faith, like a mother hen sitting on her eggs. It is fine to be a fertilized egg, waiting to become something, but now it’s time to get cracking. It’s time for Philemon to show his colours and give Onesimus his freedom.

How does God place before us this day the choice of blessings gained by sacrificing our rights and privileges in order that another human can live in freedom? What egg needs to hatch in our lives bringing us into a new reality? What choices does God give us today?

Route 44, Not Getting it Right

We may not get it right. We may be more like the 88 year old driver of the car the cop pulls over because it was going 44 kph on the highway where the speed limit is 110. When he approaches the car he notices that the four elderly passengers appear to be shocked into a daze, the air taken out of them.

The officer warns the driver that it is dangerous to drive so far below the speed limit. She responds that she was going exactly the speed limit of 44 kph just like the sign said.

The officer starts to answer sternly until the light bulb goes off for him and he says: “No ma’am, the speed limit is 110 here. Though this is highway 44.”

“Oh,” says the driver as it’s obvious the wheels are churning for her. Then the officer asks, “Is everyone alright? They all seem shell shocked.”

The driver answers as it falls into place for her, “No, officer. Thank you. Yes, they will be alright in a minute or two. You see, a few miles back we turned off highway 169.”

Taking care of ourselves, our faith, and the promised land we live in is hardly simple. Sometimes it’s the most difficult thing in our lives to get right. When we make mistakes with the freedom Christ gives us, we often add a huge dose to the challenges the Devil tries to suck us into. The results can often scare the living daylights out of us, at least they should.

.

The Expanse of the Universe Outta Scare Us Silly, The Cost of Discipleship Even More-so

Luke: Know the Cost

In today’s Gospel Jesus admonishes the crowd to know and prepare for the cost of discipleship as they commit themselves to following him.

Hate is not Jesus’ way, but it is an example of the extreme commitment that following Jesus will place on us. Nothing else can be more important to us than following Jesus, nothing, not even love for family. Jesus tells us to count the cost before we jump in, for the cost will be more than any love or even all of our possessions. Better to count the cost first and be prepared, than to run into a wall too high, or a battle too big, and collapse in shame.

It is not unlike marriage. If we really knew what we were getting into there are precious few of us who would be able to make such a commitment. Fortunately, endorphins and hope help us commit to each other in marriage. Its challenges are God’s way of bringing us to understand God’s love for us.

Likewise, fortunately, most of us are baptized as infants, a choice made for us by our parents and sponsors, otherwise the high cost could stop many of us. Yet the cost of discipleship is required for us to participate in life overflowing with God’s blessings for which we are created!

Kidnapping Gramma!

William White tells the story of Heddie Braun, a woman who lived the first four years of her life in Norway and then emigrated to Little Prairie, WI.

Heddie was a powerful presence at the age of 88 with all of her 80 lbs. hung on a 5’ 2” frame. On a cold fall evening Heddie was kidnapped from her single-story home where she lived with Eddie, her blind husband. The kidnapper cut power and telephone wires to the house, entered through the backdoor, picked up Heddie and put her in the trunk of his car. He drove her to his home, put chains on her legs and hid her in a tiny trailer out back. For days Heddie was always cold, she didn’t have her heart medicine, and she lost track of time. A confusing ransom call was made on a disposable phone to her grandson. It was a total failure.

Although time melted into a well-stirred soup, Heddie was not confused about who she was and to whom she belonged. Held captive she knew Christ made her free.

The police identified the kidnapper. He had worked for the family, but was now unemployed and desperate. At one time he had been a friend.

Heddie almost lost her foot to frostbite but she was tough and her foot was saved. Asked later how she stayed so strong, Heddie replied. “I’m Norwegian. The whole time I was in the trailer I remembered that my kidnapper was just a person like me. No matter what the cost I was going to choose life. It was so hard, harder than anything I’ve ever done, but I forgave him.” She turned to her grandson, “You have to forgive him, too.” (In Over Our Heads, pp. 14ff, Augsburg 2007, re-told TL and KAS)

.

Life is Beautiful !!! As We Live In the Light of Christ

So we pray

Christ sets us free, so we pray: May our hearts be broken by the things that break the heart of God.

May our joy be in choosing life, blessings, and freedom for all people.

Amen

A Name for Ourselves: God’s Gift

Who are we? Do we need to make a name for ourselves? Will we ever be satisfied with God’s Word present among us?

Good Potential

God created the universe. On the seventh day God rested and declared it was all good. God created us with such potential: the potential to reach for the stars, the potential to love one another, ourselves and even our enemies. Our power of imagination to see what is not and strive to accomplish things new and wonderful carries us from one generation to the next. We can share the breath of beauty, the wind of hope, and the fire of the future with one another.

Evil Potential

God also gave us freedom, so that we have the potential to reject the gifts God gives us. The goodness of life is fragile. There are so many ways for life to go wrong. We can choose to dive into the depths of darkness, to hide our false pride and our self-centered arrogance, to wallow in the despair that consumes generation after generation. We can succumb to addictions and armed conflict, to abuse and terror that causes PTSD in its victims, to Gaslighting, bearing false witness, and even murder. We have the potential to destroy all of life on earth, but the real destruction are all the avenues we create for life to implode on itself.

Jane

Jane sat at the table in her favourite restaurant, enjoying the familiar smells that reminded her of the news she had received here. Years ago, on this very spot she’d opened her letter of acceptance into university, the first one in her family, ever. That shaped everything about her life, now a Doctor of History, a professor emeritus, a famous author. Later that same day years ago she’d received the other news that formed her life and was bringing it to an indecent early end. She had MS. She had lived with it for so long, many years in a wheelchair, but now her systems were slowly giving out. Her name given to her at her baptism is Jane.

The White Purity of Birch, The Bleach of Life is not so pleasant a white.

Babel Blessing

In the lesson from Genesis we read how the people came together to build a marvelous city and a tower that would reach the heavens, in order to make a name for themselves. They also distrusted God’s rainbow, and wanted security from any future flood. God comes to bless the people with confused speech, with different languages, so that their prideful project will halt. Divided the people disperse far and wide to inhabit the earth. Ever since, we create divisions and conflict more easily than we build healthy communities. We have built more than a tower of Babel as our fossil fuel consumption produces more pollution than the earth can tolerate, resulting in violent climate change. Our civilization is built on time bombs that destroy people.

George and Emily

George and Emily walked the beach, they’d grieved the addiction of their daughter for an eternity, grieving the birth of grandchildren, each lost to foster care. Now they’d received the phone call they’d feared. Jenny had overdosed on drugs yet again. This time she had not recovered. Their names are George and Emily and they gave Jenny her name at her baptism.

Languages A Gift

Today we recognize the power of languages. They keep us apart and distinct. Yet when we live in a second language, we experience not just different grammar and words. We experience more of the world that God created good. Different languages carry different pieces of the marvels of this creation which we can barely fathom in a full lifetime.

First Pentecost

That first Pentecost the disciples proclaimed in their own language the wonders of God’s work for everyone. God inspired the listeners to hear the disciples in each listener’s own language. As at Babel God confused the language of the people to save them from their pride, so at the first Pentecost God overcame the language barrier in order that people could hear and understand each other and the Good News of what God had done in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Language is powerful.

Greta

Greta was born in Jena, in East Germany. A Christian, at great cost she had dedicated her life to serving Christ. Working with youth she excelled, until jealous gossip was started about her. Under intense pressure and unearned shame Greta slowly lost her confidence, then her sense of self, and finally her sense of reality. She succumbed to a half living state of senseless babble that sometimes erupted into excruciatingly painful clarity about what had been done to her, and how helpless she was. Her name, given to her at her baptism, is Greta. She remained Greta even as she lost her mind to the horrendous cruelty of gossip that pretends to know reality beyond God’s goodness.

Clarity in Miracles

Like the disciples we always want God to be more clear. The words are plain enough. Yet God rarely leaves it to just the words. The signs, the miracles, that accompany the Good News are remarkable. We may not recognize what God is doing, but we always hope that in the end all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well, for God created the universe and said it was good.

That first Pentecost so that people could not miss the miracle of the Holy Spirit given to God’s children, God marked the disciples with tongues of fire.

Small Miracles, double sun, leaves growing.

Fire

One of the distinct gifts God gave humans is Fire. It is powerful, both for good and for evil. God spoke to Moses from a burning bush, guided the people through the wilderness with a pillar of flame, and will cleanse us at our judgment with God’s purifying fire.

As we have breathed these past weeks, the result of climate change brings more wildfires, and more smoke that covers vast areas, inhibiting life in so many ways. Humans are not the only ones affected by wildfires. The smoke reduced the available solar power, a nuisance at least for those whose electricity is produced by solar power. The greater loss was to the plants whose basis of life depends on photosynthesis.

In the face of life so challenged, God finds ways to bless us, with hope.

Sam and Allicia

Sam and Allicia both lost their childhoods to wars of terror and genocide. In their teens they each survived the squalor and hunger of refugee camps, their families having all been killed. Sponsored as immigrants in their late teens by a Lutheran congregation in Edmonton, they met, shared the struggles of finding their way, fell in love, were married and are expecting their first child this summer. With different mother tongues they communicate in Canadian English. Their names given to them at their baptisms are Sam and Allicia. They have chosen names for their first child at its baptism, in memory of their families lost.

Our Name

Though we reach for the stars, to make a name for ourselves, to succeed at what we attempt, even to make life more than it is, there is no name that we can make for ourselves greater than what God has already given us. With tongues of fire God has marked us, anointed us, and called us.

Three Confirmed, we stand with them

As these three, Tristan, Connor, and Aysiah, were marked with the cross in their baptisms, and now they stand as young people, maturing, beginning to accept responsibility for their own being, so we each were marked. At the right time we also stood on our own to respond to the gifts that God gives us, promising to receive, abide in, act out of, and grow into the people God calls us to be. Today we still stand, not on our own as if our faith were merely personal or private. Rather we stand as one faith community united by the fire of the Holy Spirit. As we stand with one another in love, so we stand with these three young people. Their names, given to them in their baptisms, are Tristan, Connor, and Aysiah.

Our name: potential as love

Again today we share with them the name God has given us all. There is no greater name. It is not a name we could make for ourselves. It is the name that God gave us in our baptisms and shares with us each day. God names us God’s children.

The language of our name is not limited to one of the diverse languages that God gave us to propel us across the earth, to inhabit it and do well by it. The language of our name is love, in all its rainbow colours.

In our love for one another we best reflect the One who abides with and in us, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit. It is in our love for our enemies that we dance with the miraculous power of life which the Spirit pours down on us in the form of flames of fire.

As we do what it takes to love one another, though the world roils with conflict, abuse, and destruction, we rest in the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. We have no cause to be troubled. Nor do we suffer the greatest enemy: the denial of evil’s potential. Nor do we need to fear flood nor fire nor anything, for God is at work to keep evil in its place and God in God’s place … and to keep us on earth with and for each other.

Our name given to us in our baptisms is children of God. We are the inheritors of the miracle that brings life to be with a word, with a breath, with a breeze, with a fire.

Amen