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 Gives, We Receive, We Give

Tuesday, April6, 2021

Nothing is Perfect.

God Provides for Us In All Circumstances.

We Can Share All That Is

With Others.

Job 5:11

He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.

Words of Grace For Today

As we receive from God, we are given the ability to give to others.

God provides for those most in need.

We can provide for those most in need.

The world works out to be a wonderful place to be alive in.

Thanks be to God.

Christ is Risen!

Sunday, April4, 2021

Just Another Ordinarily

Spectacular Day

Exodus 33:14

He said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’

John 14:19

In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.

Words of Grace For Today

Christ is Risen!

He is Risen Indeed!

Though we Christians have said this for generations, I would guess that for most Christians and non-Christians the events we celebrate today have had little effect on their lives. Either we simply ignore the consequences that follow from God raising Jesus back to life after being crucified unjustly and cruelly, or we’ve become so accustom to the story, it’s so familiar, that we take it for granted. It’s not like anything we do today is going to change what God did, right?

Right!

God keeps trying to reach us, to communicate with us, to bring the Good News to us so that we hear, and accept God’s will for us and all people: that God would love us and have us be that love for each other.

Christ is Risen, and may that make all the difference in the world, for you, for us, and for all the people we can make a difference for …

by loving them unconditionally.

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.’

A Humble Cottage Enjoyed … Or … Hellish Greed Suffered

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The Humble Cottage View

Spectacular

Proverbs 23:17

Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always continue in the fear of the Lord.

Luke 23:34

Then Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they cast lots to divide his clothing.

Words of Grace For Today

Those who want more, demand more, comforts in life will always take short cuts and dishonest paths to get more, tramping down others to get and get and get … for such wants are never satisfied but always want yet another and another and another. It is a hellish way to live.

Reminds me of the fisher’s wife who always wanted more.

The fisher meets a magical fish who grants his wishes, as he repeats more and more his wife’s wish to have more than their humble fishing cottage, which becomes a mansion, then a palace, then a ruler’s grand house, the pope’s cathedral …

until she wishes to be God and live in God’s house

and he returns from that last visit to the magical fish to find his wife living happily (or not) in their original humble fishing cottage by the sea.

We are to continue to fear God, know our place, live everyday filled with gratitude for all we have, and work hard to provide others what they need to enjoy an abundant life (as God provides us). We start by forgiving them their sins (as God has forgiven us – when we did not know what we were/are doing.)

Struggle or Share

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Do We See

The Ice,

The Light,

or

The Trees.

Or That It’s All Tilted Like Our Lives.

Isaiah 9:5

For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.

2 Peter 1:17

For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’

Words of Grace For Today

Passion Week.

The week we remember Jesus’ last week, with all its normal human agony, scapegoating, and corruption leading to innocent death … and God’s response to all human sin.

We humans struggle against each other for advantage and privilege and comforts, struggling until violence consumes us and blood covers the boots of those fighting for us, often covering our own boots as we try to provide our own future advantages.

God promises that those boots and the blood on them will be burned as fuel for a fire. The fire of God’s triumph over evil and our sinful ways.

We still struggle against each other no matter how much God promises, no matter how many blood covered boots burn. God sends his son, and blesses him. God is pleased with Jesus, for Jesus is a word that we humans can understand, a life, a death, a resurrection. God’s NO to scapegoating. God’s YES to life no matter what comes our way.

We still struggle against each other.

So we remember.

We remember the last week of Jesus’.

We remember how God gives everything to demonstrate to us how much God loves us, forgives us, and gives us renewed abundant life.

Every day we have the ability to share that love, forgiveness, and abundant life with all people.

What will we do today?

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!

Choice Stock, Broken Stock

Friday, March 26, 2021

Where Will This Day Take Us?

The First Step is Always

Confess, Repent, and Be Gratefully Gracious

Jeremiah 2:21

Yet I planted you as a choice vine, from the purest stock. How then did you turn degenerate and become a wild vine?

Revelation 2:5

Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.

Words of Grace For Today

Humble pie, these readings are for today.

God creates us good, choice vines from the purest stock.

We degenerate and become wild vines, producing little good!

We have fallen from the greatness that God created us to be, to live out in creation.

What are we to do?

The most common human response is …

Denial.

No, we are not that bad. No, we have not fallen. No, God did not create us to be good only.

And on go our denials, some quite marvellous in their creativity.

What is God to do?

We expect that God will punish us, removing our lampstands, unless we return to being good and doing good works.

This expectation is more denial. It is not just that we have fallen. We cannot rescue ourselves or ever again but sin, behave as wild vines, fail to do the good works that God created us for to do.

Doch, God does not punish us. God has mercy on us and is prodigiously gracious with us. God forgives us. God promises to forgive us. God invites us to face reality. God invites us to repent.

To repent is to turn about: we cannot ‘turn about’ and be and do good; but we can ‘turn about’ our pride and arrogance that denies our prolific sins. We can acknowledge, confess, and rely solely on God’s forgiveness … and then move forward relying solely on God’s Grace each day, each moment.

We become humble, grateful, and gracious with ourselves and others.

We recognized that we are broken, somewhat repaired, vessels that carry in our brokenness witness to God’s overwhelming mercy, grace, and love for us (and for all people, and for all creation).

Creation needs our good hard work. We need our hard, diligent, and good work … for our own survival and for the survival of all other people … and more than survival we work to provide abundant life for all people.

This day has it’s fullness waiting.

Are we ready to repent … and let God guide us to (with joyful thanks) accomplish the work that is ours this day?