Having chosen to use the Alternative
Gospel from John:
Jesus’ Story and Love, contrary to common practice, included Women.
And Jesus Love Heals; thus we heal one another.
Acts 16:9-15 – Lydia
if you judge me to be faithful, come and stay with me. Response of
faith: to provide what is needed: hospitality for travellers, for
homeless. Now common? Enough, but in those days, accepting a woman as
one of the disciples was a rare act of equality.
matter our traditions, our culture norms, our expectations; Jesus
love reaches all people.
are to love as Jesus loves us,
to love those whom our tradition excludes from consideration.
Psalm 67 – Let all stand in Awe!
Revelation 21:10, 22–22:5
The city, no more night, only
the healing of the nations
New Jerusalem, in the City of God, An exclusion: no unclean, only
those written in the Book of Life
other light needed than the Light of God, no night, no darkness, no
abominations, nothing unclean.
chaff will have already been burned away.]
produces fruits and leaves, the leaves are for the healing of the
Gospel (alt.): John 5:1-9 Heal one
as Jesus healed even on the Sabbath
travails last and last: this man’s for 38! years!
during that time no one has helped him.
a heartbeat Jesus heals him, even though it is the Sabbath.
acts to restore health without regard for expectations and artificial
limits (which do not provide health in following them.)
Love one another as Jesus Loves us means HEAL one another, even if the stink of rot has surrounded the illness or circumstance of sin for decades, for generations even!
Previous Post for
Themes of Each Sunday in
one theme for this entire Easter:
another as I have loved you. Jesus’ single command that encompasses
everything else that is God’s story of love, encompassed in the
life of Jesus, (so that we -finite creatures- can comprehend what God
-infinite divinity- wants us to know.)
Jesus is the Good Shepherd, We are
called to love one another as Jesus love us:
We are to be Good Shepherds to
is able to bring the young girl and Lazarus back from the dead, so
Simon Peter is able to bring Dorcas, Tabitha, back to life after she
can be as life giving as Jesus’.
Handle with care!
needs for life, abundant life, of a sheep, (green pastures, still
waters) the good Shepherd provides for us.
the dark valley of the shadow of death (the greatest evil) I need not
fear, the shepherd’s tools: rod and staff, comfort us.
along with my enemies! My cup runs over!
and mercy shall follow me all my days. I dwell eternally in God’s
are those who will survive the Great Ordeal, the silence of Beale
Street in every generation. They will be gathered at Christ’s
will be washed white in the blood of the Lamb!
food, water, no scorching by sun, but water of life, and tears wiped
the Jews, want to know plainly, though Jesus has told and done
enough. Like doubting Thomas we want to put our hands in Jesus’
side and feel the nail marks in his hand, but that is not enough. The
HS must transform our hearts, teach us to know Jesus’ voice.
and sheep and shepherds and gathering in and gathering to go out to
green pastures and still waters.
will never perish, die but not perish! No snatching, not from God.
Jesus is God, one and three persons.
to know plainly, though Jesus has said and done enough, and
there is no more that would help us.
trying to argue the existence of God, futile. Every argument for or
against God’s existence begins with a presumption that is equal to
the conclusion of the argument.
transforming our hearts. The
gift of faith, the growth of faith, the exercise of responding to
the Good Shepherd, 23rd
and repeated in Revelations:
from destruction and all loss
are to exercise that same love for one another
brings Dorcas back to life,
as Jesus did with talitha cum, and Lazarus.
love, as Jesus’ Love, is a life changing thing.
Label Volatile Potential Handle
with Care Negative Potential:
always, what can be so positively powerful, with a slight twist, a
few degrees off from original, and there can be as much destruction
as there could have been profound positive change.
is so tempting, looks like Jesus the shepherd, just not.
looks so tempting, looks like good life, it is not.
with Care Positive Potential:
life, but in the lack of exercise, leave
needed of giving life (being the good shepherd
for one another), of degrees of destroying life, of
withholding means destruction.
Day, possibly use stories as above, of mothers in action giving life?
Churchill once said: “[People]
occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves
up and hurry off as though nothing had happened.”
Light of Christ is alarming, blinding, and demanding. Often we try to
control what part of the Light, what part of Jesus’ story, what
part of the awful freedom of forgiveness we acknowledge.
Other times we entirely deny the Love of Christ that shines a light into every darkness, exposing all our secrets and revealing every hidden truth. Instead we choose to slip back into the convenient darkness of our daily lives.
Jesus does not give up on us. He keeps showing up to get our attention. Have you seen Jesus talking? Or God giving a lesson? Or have you seen the crimson blood of Christ wash the stain of sin away to leave a person fuller white bright? For 200 years no one in England reported that they had, and then came Julian of Norwich who we commemorate this week.
the Black Plague, the Peasants Revolt, and the suppression of the
Lollards devastated the English countryside, Julian lived a mystic’s
life, profoundly assured of God’s care and love as few people in
all of history.
face of so much evidence that death, raw evil, and sin had the world
in its control, she famously quoted Jesus in her vision, “All will
be well. All will be well. All manner of things will be well.”
These simple words have given a thin thread of powerful hope to people in the most desperate situations. Among others, I know that it helped a young mother of two teenagers, living in Germany, stay alive. She was struggling to stay sane after years of abuse by her husband, when he had secretly already started another family with a much younger woman.
Julian wrote “God is nearer to us than our own soul”. God sees us as perfect and waits for the day when evil and sin will no longer hinder us.
these 7 Easter Sundays we keep in mind Jesus’ command to “Love
one another as I have loved you.” It will be part of the Gospel in
two weeks and we know these words contain everything else in Jesus’
today’s readings we hear how Jesus continues to surprise people
with visions of his love.
Jesus in a vision astounds Saul of Tarsus. A well educated Pharisee and righteous under the law for himself, Saul is dedicated to God. He stones and arrests followers of Jesus to cleanse the synagogues of them. Then the Light of Christ finds him. Saul has a vision of Jesus telling Saul he is persecuting Jesus himself. Blinded by the Light, Saul needs help from others to regain his sight. When he does Saul is baptized as Paul.
3 years of study Paul
spreads Jesus’ story of the Love of God
around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea
as far as Rome itself.
writings to his congregations
to encourage their faith we have the earliest accounts of the
which we receive, practice and proclaim today.
Our reading from the Book of the Revelation to John reminds us of what danger and persecution the early Christians faced. Any author, carrier, or reader of Words about faith in Jesus, if caught by the Romans, would be put to death. Difficult to produce and therefore very precious, the writings would also be destroyed.
To preserve the writings (and the people) the writing’s content was codified. The codes, colourful and out of this world, were popularly used by Christians but not understood by their Roman persecutors. Today we can estimate much but do not fully know their code. Revelation is the only one of these many writings accepted into the New Testament.
Written to inspire, comfort, and encourage faith in people who were mercilessly persecuted, Revelation has touched the hearts of desperate people through the generations and even today!
Jesus still appears in visions to people, though perhaps as rare as
in Julian of Norwich’s time. I personally know only one sacramental
mystic to whom Jesus appears in the ordinary things of creation: in
Light, in Truth and in Grace, in visions both troubling and
This mystic’s experience is quite like the disciples’, who, having encountered the awesome, fearful truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection, return to something familiar. They go fishing. Then Jesus appears, hardly recognizable, and asks them to fish on the other side of the boat. The results overwhelm the fishers and their nets, and open their eyes to who has spoken to them. Ashore he feeds them from their spectacular catch and with the bread of life. They leave the nets and resume Jesus’ ministry healing people with God’s love.
In the stories of the Fishers and of Paul, in stories codified to preserve them and in Julian’s visions and counsel, and in the words of mystics of all times, the constant in all of them is the brightly shining love of God.
Love was exercised at great expense by Jesus for us, and by many who
have gone before us and who handed on the faith to us.
love story is not a benign story, it is not a safe story, it is not
an easy story to get right. It is always a story of how we are to
love one another as Jesus loves us.
60 James Mitchner, a man of grand words and acquaintance of powerful
people everywhere, including many US presidents, told a story about
the most influential person he ever met.
years old Jim was orphaned and sent to live with relatives. The
couple was so poor both husband and wife worked seven days a week.
That first weekend, with apologies, his foster parents set off to
work leaving Jim alone. He was bored, bored stiff. He walked around
the house. Nothing happened. So when he heard a truck coming down the
alley just before noon, he went out on the back step. The truck
stopped at each house until it stopped at his house. The driver got
out with the truck running, emptied the garbage cans, got back into
the truck, and drove on. That was the day’s greatest action.
The next Saturday, again Jim was just as alone, just as bored. Nothing was happening in the empty house. So just before noon he sat down on the back step to wait for the garbage truck. He waited and waited. Finally after an hour of waiting Jim heard the truck. It followed the same routine, stopping at each house until it stopped at his house. The driver got out with the truck running, emptied the garbage cans, got back into the truck and drove on. Lonely Jim was left to go back inside … to boredom.
The third Saturday, same story. Except the truck didn’t come. With nothing else to do Jim sat and sat, and waited. Finally about 3 o’clock he heard the truck. The truck kept the same routine, stopping last at his house at the end of the alley. The driver got out with the truck running, grabbed and emptied the garbage cans, and got back in the truck. But then the driver turned off the truck, walked through the gate and said,
“Hi, what’s your name.”
answered, “I am Jim and I am lonely.”
have seen you for the last few weeks. I’ve thought of you each day
and I am sorry I have not stopped.”
garbage man sat and listened to Jim, not only that day, but each
Saturday. James’ foster parents set out chairs for the garbage man
and for Jim.
James Mitchner, a man of many words, acquaintance of most US presidents of his adult life, and of powerful people everywhere was most influenced by the garbage man who took the time to turn off his truck each Saturday from the time Jim was seven until he was seventeen. (story told at Asset Build Workshop – Powell River)
God’s love story was lived out by a garbage man on Saturdays with a lonely child. What followed for James Mitchner was a life of military and civilian travel, adventure, and writing books that inspired a generation and more.
Light will find us, shock us, blind
us, turn us around, and make us into new
people. Jesus’ love will send us into lives of real work filled
with real excitement and
abundantly filled with real adventure, … if not in travels, then in
learning, sharing, and bringing abundant life to others. The Light of
Christ will repeatedly interrupt our work and dreams, guiding us
onward, correcting and even reversing our courses, but always moving
us towards loving one another with God’s love in all things.
The only question is what we are going to do with the brilliance of Christ’s Light, the Freedom of God’s Forgiveness, the comfort of the Spirit, the abundance Jesus helps us catch, and the abiding assurance that all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well?
What are we going to do in response to the Love that resurrected Jesus from the dead, and saves us each day?
Gather…for this Sunday
1342 Julian of Norwich was a mystic, counsellor, and lay theologian.
We commemorate her on May8th. We know little directly about her life,
but what we know leaves us to think she was married, lost her husband
and children to perhaps the plague. We do know she became sick
herself at age 30, thought she would die, received her last rites,
and had 16 visions of Jesus.
Julian did not then die, though. She lived on, secluded in a cell attached to St. Julian’s Church, as an anchoress.
unusual is that she wrote down short descriptions of her visions.
Only later people learned they were written by her.
Though living apart she received people for counselling and became known affectionately by many. Through many years she rewrote her visions adding theological reflections in what survive today as her book Revelations of Divine Love. Her words of counsel have provided inspiration and hope for generations of people. She died at least 74 years old, sometime after 1416.
with cracks like rifle shots broke up, the wind pushed it to the
shoreline and the warmer weather melted it off the lake, except for a
few remnants on the windblown shore.
occasional camper ventures out for a weekend.
return in force.
favourite by far is the return of the loons.
Calm after, Preparation for, Speck of Haunting Beauty
question is always
to this day, this month, this year, with this life, precious as
Christ has claimed it to be?
The path toward the light at sunrise
moment opportunities to do well, do the right thing, are before us.
Which will you choose this day?
Will you walk to the light?
Or will you choose to remain in the darkness of greed, self interest, deception, and destruction in order to just make it through the days you’ve filled with such pain for others, and your own soul?
[replace the above with and fill in your own choice of sin, evil, and darkness – we all have our favourites!]
light is truth, grace, health, purpose, and peace.
profound joy, even in the midst of grief.
The haunting loon returns with all the other signs of spring, by instinct, by the pull of nature, and for pure survival. Humans can choose more than survival and instinct. You can choose new life in the light, and choose to share it with everyone,
wondrous morning, we remember especially God’s victorious response
to death’s three-day claim on Jesus. We remember Jesus’
resurrection. And we hope for God’s resurrection response to all
claims evil has on us and on all people.
Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen Indeed!
The Darkness Before
we have remembered Jesus’ story, from the Palm procession into
Jerusalem, to his last meal with his disciples as he gave us the New
Covenant, … to his arrest and
his disciples deserting him, … to the questioning, the scapegoating
crowds, … to
Peter’s denials, and
mocking of Jesus, … to
and then his death and burial in an unused tomb. Rightfully so his
followers are fearful; they
hide behind locked doors.
All of this is so horrendous and unbearable.
we know the next part of Jesus’ story, because we celebrate it each
Sunday. We know that Jesus is Risen from the dead, back to life.
that evil played
against him and
overwhelmed so many people and then even Jesus himself in death …
Holy Week leading to Easter is so much more than that:
God did not just step in to defeat the death of Jesus. After all
Jesus is not the first to come back from the dead. Death is
– relatively speaking, – easily overcome, one person at a time.
Lazarus steps out of his tomb with grave clothes still covering him.
The young girl answers Jesus’ call Talitha cumi, and walks away
from her death bed.
we remember that God does something much, much larger.
The story is more than one resurrection
story is more than one resurrection. God
all evil. All
is not just laying down in one’s own bed and waking up the next
morning in one’s own home. It is to be able to do this after living
on the streets or in the woods for years, with no bed or home to call
one’s own, and
then one night having ones own bed to sleep in, in one’s own home.
It’s not just having three meals a day in the senior’s care centre and being able to give an CLWR offering for Easter, which will give meals to people starving in refugee camps who have fled genocide in their home countries. Rather it is as a child having only grass to eat on the walk out of Stalin’s drought in the Ukraine, and having survived years of hardships and hunger when there were no refugee camps. Then in one’s later years being able to make a donation that will feed others who now have no food.
It’s not just a love story of ‘girl gets guy’, and they waltz off into the sunset of life. It is growing up without friends as an immigrant, an outsider. Then evil being defeated means one finds love in the most unexpected place with the most unexpected person against the most unbeatable odds … in the family of what once was one’s real enemies.
not just Jesus coming back from the dead to live again, although
that’s a bit terrific already. It’s Jesus having taken on all
Evil and having taken on all the sins of every person who has and
ever will live. It’s having taken on the penalties
for all that sin along with the big
death for every person. Then
being brought back to live life. It’s having Jesus
on all that and having defeated it!
story is not like just standing at home plate and hitting a home run
out of the stadium. It’s standing at the plate, in the bottom of
the thirteenth inning, with a full count, down three runs, bases
loaded, with all your pitchers hurting, having been put up there in
desperation by the manager. You will never be here again, ever, no
matter if you play 1000 more games. Then
That’s like Jesus’ story; his life, suffering, death and resurrection mean so much more than we are able to imagine. That’s like our story or rather we each have a variation of that as our own story.
Jesus’ and in our stories, God defeats all Evil and all death once
and for all time.
sort of. God makes the promise visible to us, that one day, at the
end of this world, new life will be given to all the dead. There will
be a resurrection for everyone. That’s when God will put Evil to
promise to Abraham and Sarah took most of their life times before
God’s time was right for them to have a child, long past normal
time. God’s time to make this promise to us will come.
the meantime, today
we are God’s saints, not because we have done good things. Rather
are saints only because
us when we cannot
us the people who think the thoughts, who say the words, who do the
deeds of God’s perfect people. Jesus has pulled us from the grips
of evil where we’ve put ourselves, from where we only deserve
eternal death. From the darkest valley of the shadows of death Jesus
has brought blessed things to
us and out of
give life abundant to others around us.
do we respond to Gods’ work in and through us?
response can be to delve into Jesus’ story, again and again. Our
response can be to learn more and more of God’s purpose for us,
communicated by God from outside of time, beyond matter, from
infinity. God has compressed God’s will into Jesus’ life story.
God has funnelled it to us living inside of time, confined to bodies,
living a finite existence. God communicates everything we need to
know through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection story. Our
response can be to engage with Jesus’ story again and again our
Holy Spirit works in us to help us understand what we see and hear.
The Holy Spirit works in us so that like Mary in the Garden, we
recognize our shepherd’s voice and follow where he leads us.
Mary, we see angels but we may not know it. The Holy Spirit helps us
fill in the blanks. Like Peter, we may hear the women’s story, even
go to see for ourselves, and find the grave clothes neatly folded on
the stone death bed. Yet we not understand what it is that we see, or
it is that we do
not see. The Holy Spirit helps us comprehend the obvious but
God’s limitless creative power has just undone death through
the beloved disciple we may hear the women’s story, and see exactly
what Peter sees, and we may believe that Jesus lives. The Holy Spirit
helps us to grasp how we, as representatives of the human species,
just caught a new glimpse of God’s will and our place in creation.
Holy Spirit helps us continually change the rest of our lives, so
that we live as one
the whole fully
no longer need to compete with each other to succeed. God calls us to
the acceptable fast during Lent, giving of ourselves so that others
will have life abundant.
after Easter, God calls us to celebrate every day, not just how the
light of Christ frees us, and how that changes the rest of our lives,
but how we are to be Christ’s
Light for others. Everyone’s life can be changed. God
has a part in the creating the new creation for each of us.
we celebrate, even outright dance, the rest of our lives in Christ’s
we can, if we choose, and not just because Jesus is for us, but
because Jesus sends us to share that light with all people,
especially those in desperate need around the world.
Spirit helps us celebrate life with the most difficult people in our
lives, whether its a grouchy neighbour, a mean person we have to
relate to again and again, a nice but nosy relative, a recalcitrant
spouse, or a self-destructive friend.
we can celebrate and dance through the challenges that come our way,
because the Holy Spirit inspires and guides us to understand more and
more fully what it means that Jesus lived, taught, healed, suffered,
died and is resurrected back to life!
For we can, no matter our past or future, live well.
For we can, no matter our past or future, bring life abundant to all
wondrous morning we remember God’s victorious response to death’s
three day claim on Jesus. We remember Jesus’ resurrection. And we
hope for God’s resurrection response to all claims evil has on us
and on all people.
this profound hope we proclaim together three times:
Christ is Risen!
is risen indeed!
The Darkness Before
past Holy Week we
have remembered Jesus’ story, from his
triumphant procession into Jerusalem, to
his last meal with his disciples as he gave us the New Covenant,
his arrest, his disciples deserting him, and
the questioning, … to the
crowds scapegoating and condemning him,
his flogging, and Peter’s
denials, … to the
and torturing him.
we remembered how Jesus died sooner than
expected, nailed to a cross … abandoned
even by God. His
followers scattered and hiding,
filled with fear for their lives.
remembered how they buried him
in a rock tomb.
the darkness, portrayed in the last week of Jesus’ life on earth,
is so deep, embracing everything, and so unbearably deadly, the next
part of Jesus’ story is so much more than we can ever expect or
comprehend, yet alone completely remember.
time we encounter it, we see how much more Jesus’ story is. The
Light of Christ outshines such depths of darkness that we are
dumbfounded, astounded and awestruck, …
not just step in to defeat the death of Jesus. After all Jesus is not
the first to come back from the dead. Lazarus steps out of his tomb
with grave clothes still covering him. Jesus calls out Talitha cumi,
and the young girl walks away from her death bed.
Jesus story is more than one resurrection
story is more than one more resurrection. With Jesus’ resurrection
it’s all evil, all death defeated.
story is not just standing at home plate and hitting a home run out
of the stadium. It’s standing at the plate, in the bottom of the
thirteenth inning, with a full count, down three runs, bases loaded,
with all your pitchers used up. You’ve
been put up there to bat in
desperation by the manager. You are
mostly recovered from a chemotherapy treatment three days ago and
from surgery on
your left shoulder last month. You’re no
spring chicken at 65 years old. You will
never be here again, ever, even if you beat cancer. There’s
is no way you should be here. You just came back to
visit the team on the bench.
you hit a home run to the utter astonishment
of everyone and
to the great benefit
of a home city desperate for a team that would
what Jesus has taught us, just as Jesus taught his first disciples.
story. It is also
our story, or rather we each have a variation of that as our own
time we listen carefully we will be astounded and amazed at how God
acts out God’s will with love and forgiveness, Grace and mercy,
sacrifice and humility for us, and for all people, even our enemies.
what’s next for us?
easy to come to Easter worship, to be astounded by Jesus’ story and
to bask in the music and words and movements of our celebration of
life in the worship service and at breakfast. It’s easier yet to
then once again walk back out into the world that keeps us occupied,
forgetting what amazing things we’ve heard and seen. Who would
believe us anyway if we told them someone came back from the dead to
share God’s Word with us?
Isaiah’s New Heavens and New Earth
OT lesson from Isaiah for this morning, Isaiah speaks God’s words
of promise to the exiles in Babylon. They’ve lost everything and
been carted thousands of miles from home to be servants in a foreign
land ruled by some not so nice people. They are not only servants,
but they have years ago forgotten so much.
God creates new
Word comes, not to fix things up, but to create a new heaven and a
new earth. God’s words create, just as at the beginning of time. In
the new creation we will no longer be God’s wayward people. Instead
we will get to remain at home, cry to the Lord in joy and be a
delight to God.
It is a
Shalom vision of the Kingdom of God: there will be no weeping, no
cries of distress.
New creation ends all suffering and need
this world of Shalom,
of God’s Peace, there is no homelessness,
no hunger, no
climate-change-displaced refugees. There
are no untimely deaths, no
stolen lunches or unrewarded labour.
dog-eat-dog order of the food chain will end. Predators and prey will
live together in peace.
God’s new work in Jesus even more: perfect
vision in Isaiah is nothing compared to God’s work made clear in
Jesus’ story that we have reflected upon this Lent and Holy Week.
all things in God’s new creation will be re-created perfect.
have only a foretaste of this new creation, a promise made in Jesus’
Gospel emphasizes that Jesus came
to heal people, and with his death and resurrection to heal all
humans we often need healing. We often seek help and sometimes
what ails us is dealt with. Even less
frequently we even see that we are cured.
When it comes to the wholeness of creation
and our spirits we seem to be lost.
brokenness of creation is more than we imagine. Our brokenness is
more than we can imagine. The healing we need is so much more than we
Healing, more than duct tape
used to be that a good farmer
could fix anything except the economy with
bailing wire and pliers.
Now days we use duct tape and plastic ties.
works out just fine until your life depends on the repair.
like carabiners. There are so many kinds available today. I can get
two for $1.25. And they work as key chains just fine. Until they do
not, and my keys went missing because the cheap, carabiner I hung my
keys on did not stay closed. Whoosh, click or slip and the key was
goners. So now I use duct tape to hold the carabiner closed.
The fix when our lives depend on it
works just fine. But it would not be the fix needed if I were
mountain climbing and hanging all my weight plus the stress of the
wind blowing against me on that carabiner, tied by a rope into the
kind of a carabiner cannot be a two-for-$1.25 purchase. For all the
things we might be pleased to repair with
duct tape and plastic ties, God asks so much more of us when
it comes to our part in the new creation.
go through life, expecting that God just uses duct tape and plastic
ties to heal creation, we miss out on the marvellous mystery, the
eye-popping wonder, and the awe-filled power God uses to create a new
heaven and earth for us, in us, and among us.
After Jesus’ resurrection, God sends us out to share the good news, to voice the prayers of compassion with those who suffer, and to be the hands of Christ that deliver the new creation to all people.
When we listen carefully, do diligently, remember remarkably, we will hear and see Jesus working in ways we hardly understand at first. We will be floored by the amazing tales Jesus has in mind for us to hear and even see for ourselves.
We ask that the Holy Spirit will help us watch carefully, listen intently, and pray fervently, that God’s new creation may come among also us. But most of all we ask that the Holy Spirit help us as we get ready to be bowled over. It not a small fix or even a big fix with duct tape. God creates a new world, a new universe, and even a new you and new me.
the Holy Spirit to help us through it.
not, the Holy Spirit will put us up to bat, with the bases load, in
the bottom of the ninth, with the team needing us to hit a home run,
and the world needing it even more.
deeply and slowly. Keep your eye on the ball. Don’t forget ….
that’s just the start of God’s new creation.
about to use each of us in ways we could not dream of.
lots of water spread across the low spots.
big, throny bushes, no green trees, and no crowds … in fact great
solitude and quiet.
settling in as a guest of the Queen,
chosen of my Lord,
shores of a small quite lake,
the oil company bought it all up,
means the Queen still has a small plot
shares, by law, with a few homeless,
quite a few wealthy land owners looking for
of nature: health and joy.
There’s also enough detritus left around that proves there are a number of irresponsible beer drinking, condom throwing, and garbage dumping foolish visitors.
So I took a bag with me on my walk around to collect some of the detritus. Lots more, like the condoms, still lay strewn on the ground, things that I needed more than just one bag to be able to pick up and haul out for other fools.
Why does the Queen receive such fools?
Why does the Creator tolerate such fools?
Perhaps because one fool is pretty much like another, and all are fools in one way or another.
My call is to be a fool for Christ, so there is that.
And I took a quiet walk around tonight before enjoying a quiet night, with only a couple parking for hours, depositing another condom and toilet paper to found on a quiet morning walk before the full light of dawn.
Solitude is precious as are a good night’s sleep and the clear light of truth.
119 starts: Happy are those whose
way is blameless
it be spectacular if we could change our hearts and follow all God’s
laws and be blameless for the rest of our lives. We would be
loving the Lord our God with all our heart,
mind and strength! Nothing
would defile us from within or from outside ourselves.
we confess that we are all sinful and unable to free ourselves.
Jesus, Paul, Augustine, Luther and many others have made it crystal
clear that no one can be entirely blameless. If anyone were able to
be blameless the whole course of human history would be changed.
What then can we do to change our hearts? Can we change our hearts of stone for healthy hearts filled with God’s Spirit?
1967, when Bernard Christian transplanted the first human heart, we
surgeons transplant our diseased hearts
with new hearts.
Heart transplant patients report it
is more than just a physical experience. Something more changes, as
another person’s heart gives them life. The other person has met an
untimely death. The transplant patient carries on with life, for
themselves and in a small yet noticeable way for the donor.
our meaning tonight for changing our hearts
is hardly physically accurate,
talking about changing the seat of our
emotions, the centre
of our wills, and
the motive behind our
thinking and doing.
off this is
a very complicated idea.
it is nearly out of the realm of human possibility.
We so often get it all wrong.
a well-heeled congregation decided to look
outside themselves and do something really
good for a poor neighbourhood nearby.
After carefully looking through the neighbourhood they found a
deserted chunk of land, filled with weeds, stones, and
decided it would make the perfect neighbourhood playground. They
bought the land, and
brought in topsoil, sod, and playground
equipment. Then they headed to the
the community to make use of it. The
community leaders said only a
very polite thank you.
wrong?” a congregation member blurted out.
said one of the community leaders, “we had plans for that land. We
had been saving money and applying for grants, gotten corporate
sponsors, and invested in getting drawings made up. We were on track
to break ground in 6 months. Our plans included a picnic area, a play
area, community gardens and even a basketball court on one end.
“Now we’ll have to let all that go and enjoy the playground.”
can try to fix the world with our privilege, power, and wealth. Or we
can use our ears to listen to those in need, our minds to discern
what the real issues are, and our hearts to empathize with their
plight so that how we act will actually meet the real needs of the
people we try to help.
There are things we can do to change our hearts, to change how we feel about another person, our situation in life, and the events that happen around us. While we cannot change our individual emotional responses to events, we can slowly, through diligent practice of habits, change the range of our emotions. We can over time move ourselves from a destructive, disengaged range of emotional responses, to a hope-filled, engaged range of emotional responses to the same kind of events. It takes lots of time, diligent work, and a motivation that only the Holy Spirit can maintain in us.
The first thing we can do is forgive others. We act as if the other has not sinned against us. We treat them special, even giving them gifts they really want. When we behave as if they were precious, they become precious to us again. In time we will realize, we have actually forgiven them.
with the help of the Holy Spirit can we truly change our hearts. We
need God to send people to help. Hearts change the course of our
lives, and the course of our communities, our churches, our
countries, and even the course of human history.
St. Augustine, perhaps the most influential of Christianity’s early thinkers, writers, preachers, and practitioners of faith, did not start out a Christian. Born of a Christian mother and a pagan father, he was denied baptism. He spent his youth as a Manichaean, and according to his own account lost himself in pleasures and wanton living. He was befriended by Ambrose, who he met since they both shared exceptional skills as orators. While Ambrose’s preaching was exceptional and his message was the Gospel of Jesus the Christ, it was Ambrose’s friendship that deeply affected Augustine’s heart and drew him to convert to Christianity. St. Augustine gave himself to the work of Christ on earth, ending his life serving as the Bishop of Hippo in north Africa, where he wrote and preached. Imperfect, rescued, and saved Augustine steered the course of Christianity to be the faith we recognize today. He also steered the Roman Empire towards Christianity.
there was one human, Jesus, who lived entirely
blameless before God, the whole of human history is
changed. Yours and mine, and each of our lives are inexorably changed
toward God, toward life, and toward giving everything we have and are
in order that others may know God’s Grace as well. Augustine was
one piece of this course of history.
hearts inform and equip us to turn our lives in new directions. As
the Holy Spirit moves our hearts to love the Lord with all our
hearts, minds, and strength, then we focus on faith, ideas, words,
and actions which can affect others’ hearts with the same Grace
that saves us each day.
trust that God is always with us. We can be blameless and joyful
therefore, not because we are perfect,
but because Jesus steps in for us and we are reckoned to have Jesus’
blameless track record.
is something spectacular to being the donor of Christ’s heart to
those in need. It is to give to another the
seat of our will
and passion, the centre
of our life,
and to give our hearts
to another in order that
they may live, and that living
they may have life abundant.
a heart. Have a change of heart. Because the Holy Spirit helps us
surrender our hearts to the will, passion, and purpose of Jesus
Christ, therefore we live, heart and all, as God calls and equips us
live as never before. We live the fast that is acceptable to God, the
fast that through our sacrifice others receive justice, freedom,
food, and homes.