Fear: Freeze-Fight-Flight … or … Reassurance by God’s Grace?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Dark Against the Light

By Grace we can trust that there is Light

That overcomes the greatest Darkness

Even Covid 19

2 Samuel 22:37

You have made me stride freely, and my feet do not slip.

2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Words of Grace For Today

Faced with the impossible challenge of facing war against Hitler, Churchill famously said: We have nothing to fear other than fear itself.

Taking office in 1933 FDR faced the great depression and famously said: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

This phrase as best researched seems to have originated with Montaigne in the sixteenth century, was probably picked up from Montaigne by Francis Bacon in the seventeenth, and then became a common proverb or axiom in later writers.

Over and over again in scripture as angels, leaders of God’s people, and Jesus himself greet people in great distress they say Fear not! For the Lord is with you! Or words similar.

Fear overwhelms our normal ability to deal reasonably with dangerous or challenging situations. We know that fear triggers a response generated in the brain below the cerebral cortex, which controls language and reason. Of course if we really are under attack in an mminent life and death situation, sitting and contemplating what is happening could be the end of us, so quicker responses, choosing between freeze, fight, or flight, are made by a faster area of our brain closer to the rest of our body.

Most of life is not helped by these responses, and in fact as a whole society, when we reduce our choices to these we end up with mass panic, if not in outright rioting mobs, then in masses of people unable to function and contribute to a societal solution, instead getting in the way of a solution and multiplying the problems faced.

God provides us, in the Good News that Jesus has redeemed us with Grace, not according to our works, a way of living that assures us: no matter what we face, God is with us. That reassurance, renewed in us by God’s Word each day gives us freedom from fear and all it’s causes, which are more than enough in this world to sink any reasonable person.

We, by Grace, are able to stride freely into each day, assured that this is the day of our Lord, God’s time, God’s creation, and God’s Spirit that accompanies us … giving us choices to respond to all sorts of evil with the same Grace that God gives to us.

We offer to others, by our very presence, the same Grace God exercises in and for us.

Calm reassurance of God’s Love for all creation in the face of Evil is God’s way of defeating Evil at every turn.

What a life, an abundant life, we get to live. God gives this life to us as pure gift! And we get to multiply it by giving it as gift to others!

It’s simple math: miracles of Grace beget miracles by God’s infinite factor of Love.

We have nothing to fear, but fear (Evil’s greatest presence) itself, and God has defeated fear and all Evil’s ways, even death!

We have everything to celebrate!

Facing Covid and All Our Enemies – With Grace!

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Christ’s Dazzling Light

Always Shines For the Blessed

Through All the Darkness

Jeremiah 12:1

You will be in the right, O Lord, when I lay charges against you; but let me put my case to you. Why does the way of the guilty prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?

Matthew 20:10-12

Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.”

Words of Grace For Today

Why does the way of the guilty prosper? Why do all who are treacherous thrive?

Why, working for God, do they, who arrive at the latest hour, receive the wages of those who showed up to work at sunrise?

We think that the world is so that we can understand how it works? For example when we ski off a cliff we should plan that we are going to land down below where we took off from. Gravity is a thing that we can understand.

So is it with many things in our world. Things we do have consequences, consequences that we can prepare for, consequences that anyone with a clear working mind and heart understands very well.

But when it comes to how God works with us and with other people, it easily seems everything we know makes no difference.

God’s ways are opaque for us.

Until we start to comprehend Grace.

Grace is the upside down stuff of our normal lives. Grace is how God works in the world.

If we try to understand, then it seems the guilty prosper and the treacherous thrive, and it seems that our work for God ought to be paid according to our efforts and time invested.

Yet, it is not so in God’s creation.

Grace alone brings us to life, life as we were created to live.

According to Grace, God’s purpose for each and every person is not to reward us according to our efforts. God’s purpose is to bring each and every one of us, freely, to live abundantly.

Cars run on gasoline or diesel. Bodies run on nourishing food and good drink.

God’s creation runs on Grace, the best of everything is free. Everything is free, but like manna given to nourish the people in the wilderness, manna that was good only for a day, and could not be stored, all that God gives us freely cannot be hoarded for ourselves. The goodness that God gives us is only good when we give it freely to others, just as we have received it.

So …

What appears to be unexpected and up-side-down, is God’s Grace working for us … and we can be ready to share all God gives us with all those we meet. Though we give, give, and give, God’s blessings will never run out; they will always flow, pouring over us and to all around us.

Ahh, to understand God’s ways is beyond us, but blessings flow; for them we can be filled with gratitude … and that makes everything wonderfully different, even when our tit-for-tat mindset is surprised or frustrated that our wicked enemies seem to win forcing us into an early grave.

(‘Joke’ is on them. We get to live abundantly, thankfully, sharing blessings freely, loving and dancing with grace through life. Then as they continue to live on earth, futilely pursuing more and more worthlessness, we enter the heavenly home prepared for us, for eternity. – If they could only see the end of their gaslighting and corruption.)

The Day of Epiphany – Still Facing Covid … With Grace

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Whatever Light God Provides

By Grace

We Can Find Our Way

Home

to Love God

With All Our Hearts, Minds, and Strength

Psalm 84:12

O Lord of hosts, happy is everyone who trusts in you.

Matthew 2:10-11

When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Words of Grace For Today

The day we celebrate Epiphany, the revealing, the in breaking of the Light of Life, is today.

Happiness is something we can spend our lives trying to find or achieve … in vain.

It is something that we can receive, as a pure gift, as grace, from God. When the Holy Spirit inspires us to trust God, life may not appear outwardly to change, yet the inner workings of our lives are transformed. The criteria of happiness are not attached any more to things or money or comfort or shopping … nor even chocolate or 42.

Instead our brains are re-wired, our hearts along with them. We evaluate the whole of life according to the joy of being humbled before God and being able to give God praise … and being able to serve God by extending God’s Grace to all other people.

Wisdom of the eastern people guided them …

to know the meaning of a bright star, and the courage to follow … for hundreds of miles … the star into Israel, and later to find Bethlehem, and in Bethlehem a cow’s stable and in the stable the infant Jesus in a cow’s manager.

There they offer up treasure of great value to Jesus. It is the honour they have to give, a rare honour.

When we are inspired to trust God, we know happiness as it is only truly possible, as we are able to allow God to connect our hearts, minds and souls to Grace. In that we have courage to be a bit of what God created us to be, happy … for that is certainly part and parcel of life abundant.

4th Day of …

Monday, December 28, 2020

What Word Do We

DO

when the darkness is so overwhelming

and the light of hope so dim?

Isaiah 50:4

The Lord God has given me the tongue of a teacher, that I may know how to sustain the weary with a word. Morning by morning he wakens— wakens my ear to listen as those who are taught.

2 Corinthians 1:4

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

With a word to sustain the weary, and to console with the consolation we receive from God: are our traditions carriers or obstructions to Truth?

On the 4th day of Christmas, still in the time of greatest restrictions to date to stave off Covid 19 from over-running our health care capacity, still in the midst of the short days and long nights of cold and dark winter, what do we do to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his Love?

Many of us put up and decorate a Christmas tree. What is this all about? At first glance there seems to be very little that connects a conifer tree decorated as we are wont with the Word of God being born as an infant in Bethlehem. The angel or star on top the tree seems to be the loan reference to anything of Christ. So let us ask: where did this tradition come from? Is there something in it’s origins that we can reclaim to bring a more profound meaning to the Christmas Tree, which will call us to hear and tell the old, old story of Jesus and his Love?

Wikipedia gives this: A Christmas tree is a decorated tree, usually an evergreen conifer, such as a spruce, pine, or fir, or an artificial tree of similar appearance, associated with the celebration of Christmas, originating in Germany associated with Saint Boniface. The custom was developed in medieval Livonia (present-day Estonia and Latvia), and in early modern Germany where German Protestant Christians brought decorated trees into their homes. It acquired popularity beyond the Lutheran areas of Germany and the Baltic countries during the second half of the 19th century, at first among the upper classes.

The tree was traditionally decorated with “roses made of coloured paper, apples, wafers, tinsel, [and] sweetmeats”. Moravian Christians began to illuminate Christmas trees with candles, which were ultimately replaced by Christmas lights after the advent of electrification. Today, there is a wide variety of traditional and modern ornaments, such as garlands, baubles, tinsel, and candy canes. An angel or star might be placed at the top of the tree to represent the Angel Gabriel or the Star of Bethlehem, respectively, from the Nativity. Edible items such as gingerbread, chocolate, and other sweets are also popular and are tied to or hung from the tree’s branches with ribbons.

An Angel on top, or a star on top, and lights on the tree speak to the angel appearing to the shepherds, the star the ‘wisemen’ followed to find Jesus, and the Light of the World that shines in the darkness.

The reference to St. Boniface also indicates that Christmas celebrations were intact, and the yule celebrations were moved to coincide with them and thereafter the yule celebrations were ‘christianized’ or made to refer to the celebration of Christ’ birth. Thus the substantial traditions with a few references to Christ.

And is this not how most people live their lives, and God meets us all in this, with a few things tagged on to our lives, so that we take our secular or pagan or ungodly traditions, transform them ever so slightly and they become our ‘Christian’ celebrations, our ‘Christian’ lives.

God walks with us on these ‘christianized’ paths we tread each day, and calls us to remember, to proclaim and to be the Word of Life for the world, the Light of Christ in the dark.

We cannot make ourselves into saints, anymore than we can find a life that consists mostly of things of this world. These things of this world are what God created.

We see them after the fact ‘christianized’, though in truth they were God’s all along, which we tried to claim as our own ungodly, pagan or secular. Doch God is in all and created all, including our ungodly, pagan and secular efforts at life and meaning.

So we have a marvellous Christmas Tree with a star on top and lights all around. What do we tell the children who seek the pickle? Do we give them the wonder of God’s Light? The knowledge of God’s blessing of everything: trees, sweetmeats, gingerbread, candles or lights, angels and stars, hymns and carols?

It is less in what our traditions are, than in how we speak of them, how and what we value in them, and to whom we give thanks, and for whom we work – as we share all that God has given us: joy, sustenance and consolation.

Advent Ends, Christmas’s 12 Days Begins: Facing Everything, With Grace

Thursday, December 24, 2020

The Light

Guides Us

Onward

Psalm 42:3

My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’

Matthew 2:1-2

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’

Words of Grace For Today

Jupiter and Saturn will come within 0.1 degrees of each other, forming the first visible “double planet” in 800 years. This bright star, or one like it, led the wise ‘men’ from the east to travel to find Jesus.

We search for God, like the ‘wisemen’ who may have been women and men. Others deride us for a God they cannot find. We suffer the ‘slings and arrows’ of life and they claim that God has deserted us, or that God never existed anyway.

Searching for God can bring rewards. It brought the wise ones to see Jesus and present him with gifts. Their search also set Herod to look for Jesus, though he would not bring gifts. Instead he kills off all the children in the area who are in Jesus’ age.

Jesus survives only because his parents have taken him and themselves in flight on a dangerous journey, as refugees to this day still take to try to survive.

This day we begin our Christmas celebrations, celebrations that few alive have held or been able to anticipate. Such are the restrictions and safeties of a time of pandemic.

May this day be one of many when we recognize Jesus

in the needs of our neighbours the world over, regardless of colour, creed, or company they hold and keep.

May this day be one of many when we recognize God’s Grace

as the sole source of our breath and hope.

May this day be one of many when unexpected challenges force us to see the Light of God anew in the simplest of things, in the wonders that fill this world all around.

On the night coming, as we celebrate the Light of Christ, may the Joy of God fill our hearts, minds and strength.

Advent Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – December 17

Thursday, December 17, 2020

In the Darkness, a Mere Reflection of

the Brilliance of the Light, Promised

That Gives Hope to All Creation!

Jeremiah 31:17

There is hope for your future, says the Lord: your children shall come back to their own country.

Revelation 3:20

Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.

Words of Grace For Today

Trump will try to present Congress with alternative Electoral College votes, making history with his continued and unprecedented efforts to undermine the democratic election process in the US; and millions voted for him and still support him!

Courts (too many) abuse their authority, declaring lies to be facts, innocent people guilty, legitimate claims to be bogus and lawyers’ lies to be truths; and millions are pleased with the injustice that preserves their way of life. Good, honest men, mostly, spend time in jail and have their reputations ruined. Psychological assessments are made of the good, honest men by corrupt and dishonest ‘experts’ (well paid for their false reports), even when the men have had a life of psychological supervision, testing, and review as they’ve provided counselling to countless people. On appeal the judges simply rubber stamp the injustice, and use legal process to further ruin good, honest, innocent men, eating up their disappeared financial resources, while hiding the truth about the judges’ own lies about the evidence given in court.

RCMP (way too many) focus on good men, help women coordinate false reports over years, invite uninvolved bystanders to create false reports, make false arrests, lay false charges, bully the prisoners, and laugh with corrupt community ‘leaders’ at the fun of ruining good, honest, men, fathers to children who now will be raised by single mothers.

The mothers (far and away too many, for one is already too many) are sick, each in their own way, encouraged by church and community ‘leaders’ to lie, to reward the children for lying in court, to play the victim, as they perpetrate their emotional violence against the men in their lives, just because they can, or because to be honest would mean having to share sizable assets with their men, but killing the men or ruining them in court they get to keep all the assets for themselves. And the children learn that nothing matters except money. Truth, honesty, integrity all must be sacrificed in order to accumulate more and more money. Which perpetuates the cycle of real crimes, and real lies, and real murders into the next, and the next and the next generations.

There is hope for your future, says the Lord: your children shall come back to their own country.

Jeremiah’s words, written in a completely different context, meet today’s corruption of the children and stand firm as God’s promise: True JUSTICE will be done. Our children will return and learn to honour, themselves, their ancestors, and their God. Our children will learn to fear and love God in all things, above all things. Our children will learn to be kind to all people. Our children will learn to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love, and know that it is what makes them able to breathe, and allows them to be that Word for all other people.

We are those children, each day, tempted to hear from the corruptions of the world in all its guises, to place value on things that wither like leaves and grass. To us all Jesus calls out especially this Advent season which is so different than those for us before:

Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.

No one will celebrate Christmas alone, for Christ sits to eat with us, sits to pray with us, sits to motivate us to reach out to family and friends … and especially the strangers in our midst who are all alone.

Perhaps this Christmas, Christ will win the hearts of some of those corrupt politicians and their supporters, judges, some of those RCMP, some of those community ‘leaders’, some of those women … and there will be a double victory for many as injustices are righted AND we celebrate that these people live honourable lives, serving Christ, with integrity seeking truth and the best interests of children and parents … and our future, first, and conducting themselves accordingly … according to a life that is daily guided by repentance, forgiveness, and God’s unconditional Grace and love.

How we will celebrate then!

Since this is God’s promise already to us all, we have much to celebrate this Christmas, much to prepare for this Advent.

Covid 19 places all sorts of challenges before us, and the Holy Spirit guides holy people to seize on them as opportunities to renew our trust in God, and in God alone.

Snow falls, inch by inch, fresh every 12 hours or so. The sun hides above the clouds. The days are short, here 7.5 hours of daylight. Next week they start to get longer, though only by a minute a day taking a whole month to add an hour of daylight. Then the sun will shine on the snow, bright and brilliant, just as Christ’s Light already shines in every darkness, every darkness of the past, or the present and of the future.

Light One, Two, Three candles to watch for Messiah, let the light banish darkness ….

Ahh, the brilliance of the Light (for so many!)

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – December 13 Third Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 13, 2020

In the Dark

There is Light

Be Christ’s Light

for Others!

Jeremiah 10:6

There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might.

1 John 4:14

The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.

Words of Grace For Today

As the second wave of Covid 19 continues to explode around us with infections, hospitalizations and deaths that overwhelm us …

And finally restrictions are in place that might ‘bend the skyrocketing’ numbers …

Christmas will not be like many before.

There is none like God … the prayer of faith saves the sick, sins are forgiven …

So we trust God, pray fervently and rely on our sins being forgiven by forgiving others

AND

we learn from wisdom available by God’s grace to us all. For example:

On The Dose, a CBC radio program, available in numerous ways including on demand, this past week host Dr. Brian Goldman interviewed psychology professor Steve Joordens who gave advice and guides on how to stay mentally and emotionally healthy through the holidays and beyond. The advice is badly needed by many as resilience to the effects of isolation is plummeting in a free fall as fast as the Covid 19 numbers are skyrocketing.

I had to step away for part of it, such are the demands of my living situation as I balance delicately hour by hour between destruction by ice or by fire, but these are the notes from my daily journal, expanded to make sense to any reader:

1. Plan for next year’s Christmas.

This year do what is necessary to make the holidays (and every day) safe, very safe, as safe as can be, for yourself, for your loved ones, and for all those you all encounter! Many things will not be possible. Be creative this year. Plan next year to do the things you cannot do this year.

This is not like war. We know an end is in sight and recovery to a somewhat familiar normal will come, so we can plan for it. We can make our new normal even better by planning for what is precious!

2. Make intentional social interactions.

We all need to interact with others. Don’t do what is not safe, very safe. Error on the side of safety, for now. That does not mean we cannot have many social interactions. Make your virtual connections real. Listen, share, laugh, cry, ‘be there’ for the intense moments and for the mundane. Reach out to people who may not have someone. Develop ‘pen pals’ or rather phone-pals or zoom-pals.

We are in the same storm, but in different boats. So respect that we all have to cope, each in our own ways. The basics are the same: we need to stay afloat amidst the chaos.

3. Counter Anxiety with Enjoyment.

Cortisol flows when we are anxious and moves us into fight/flight/flee mode in which we do not reason, we just act to save ourselves; or so the instinct works or rather does not work well when fight/flight/flee responses can do nothing to save us, let alone help us.

Endorphins counter the effect of cortisol, so do things and help others do things that bring enjoyment. Climb El Capitan, well … maybe just get a good dose of exercise as you are able. Music moves us to remember good times, brings us to laugh, and dance. Give the gift of music to yourself, and to others. Give music to bring back memories of times before Covid 19.

3. Be a model for children.

Children experience the world through us parents and adults. Do your own work to build up resilience so that you are not anxious around children. They will learn with you to be resilient in the face of extreme challenges. They will learn how to set anxiety aside.

Be a model for other people, too. Adults learn from other adults. We never quite stop learning from others if we stay healthy!

The real dark side that is becoming more and more apparent while everyone is under the stress of Covid 19 restrictions and infections and long term illness and deaths is … is depression, which unchecked is leading to suicides.

Be aware of this and notice your anxiety before it overwhelms you. Be resilient for others. Reach out to others. If you or someone else is at risk of harming themselves, there is help. Reach out. The resources are on the web in many places including www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx , scroll down to GET HELP.

4. Learn to relax at will.

You cannot be relaxed and anxious at the same time. Get online guides to practice how to relax. Practice until you can relax without the guides.

Then notice when you are starting to become anxious, and relax instead.

Use this to prepare for sleep as well.

5. Embrace winter.

Get out. It’s safer outside as far as Covid 19 goes. Be safe in the cold, dress for it. Get vitamin D by taking a walk on a sunny afternoon.

6. Bring wood from the first dry stack. (Oops, sorry that’s just the reminder for me to get wood to stay alive through last night’s -26⁰ C dip into hard freeze.)

Everyone has things that need be done to get through the winter and each month, besides dealing with Covid 19. Ensure you and others are doing those things, too. Work (not to an extreme) helps maintain resilience.

We trust God, pray fervently and rely on our sins being forgiven as we forgive others their sins, and we learn from wisdom available by God’s grace to us all.

Be safe, be wise, do not be anxious or let your hearts be troubled: instead find ways to enjoy life and share it with others, and relax into the comfort of God’s arms. God walks with us each day, each hour. God carries us when we falter.

Christ calls us to be God’s arms for one another; carry one another with respect and love.

[Thanks to The Dose, though I paraphrased considerably and creatively.]

.

Light one, two, (three), (four) candles to watch for the Messiah, let the light banish darkness ….

[Light One Candle to Watch for Messiah, words by Wayne L. Wold]

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – December 4

Friday, December 4, 2020

The morning moon

about to set.

As we, quite late in the winter,

prepare for another day

of work to survive,

and rest to celebrate God’s endless blessings.

Psalm 127:2

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives sleep to his beloved.

Matthew 6:8

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Words of Grace For Today

From our ancestors’ instincts to rise up early and go late to rest in order to be ready to catch the prey and ensure one did not become prey, we still have an instinctual drive to ‘give it our all’ and then some, to ensure our survival.

Examples abound of humans who have worked and worked and worked themselves ‘to the bone’ at the cost of any real life. The majority of humans who have ever lived were oppressed and enslaved in poverty by the rich and the powerful; they have ‘given their all’ out of necessity to provide the mere basics of life for those for whom they are responsible.

Many others through history and especially today, as the gap between rich and poor grows ever greater, and still the ‘middle class’ is larger than ever in all of history, throw themselves into perpetual work at the expense of living life, all in order to have just one more comfort, one more luxury, to possess one more thing, to pay for just one more purchase that fails to fulfill it’s promise to give life meaning.

A third category of people are those who are rich, and give everything they are and have in order to protect and grow their wealth, as if it could ever provide them life or any real security.

This second and third group are those to whom this passage is addressed.

God did not create us to continually work. God created us to work hard, and then to rest. God created us to wake each day and work hard, but then to relax and enjoy the company of other people, and to sleep content with the blessings provided to us. God created us to work hard for six days, and to rest on the seventh.

All the sciences about humans confirm sleep, companionship, and regular rest are requirements for a human to maintain long-term health. It is no surprise at all that religious wisdom is confirmed by scientific research.

The first group is addressed less by this passage than by God’s repeated promises to bring judgment and justice to earth, for all people, living and dead. To them, to us, to all people, Matthew addresses Jesus’ words about how to pray, not heaping up empty phrases, but asking for what one needs. God listens. God walks with us. God promises justice for all in the end. And God knows already what we each need … and God ensures we receive it. We need God’s blessings, no matter our circumstance. The danger to life is not the lack of necessities or the inevitable arrival of death. The real danger to live is the corruption of our hearts, minds and strength by the work of the Devil.

Pray constantly that God would deliver us from this, and that God would bless the czar (all who exercise corrupt power) and keep him from us, very far.

As we wait, prepare, and remain alert, we pray with thanks for all God gives us, every blessing. We can work hard and rest easy. Covid 19 restrictions, infections, long-haul symptoms, and even death cannot separate us from God’s unconditional love, nor our ability to exercise that unconditional love for all whom God created.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 13

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Dark

Dark Days,

Many Darker Days Ahead

Fear Not!

God is With Us, Grace Saves and Sustains Us

So Act

to bring in the Light!

1 Chronicles 28:20

David said further to his son Solomon, ‘Be strong and of good courage, and act. Do not be afraid or dismayed; for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.

1 Corinthians 4:1

Think of us in this way, as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries.

Words of Grace For Today

If ever there was a time when we needed good people to be courageous and act, it is now. Evil has found a home in so many institutions, so many pieces of civilization, and in so many hearts and minds. The social contract that underpins civilization has been under attack by those who abuse their power and position and wealth for so long, no one can predict how long it will last, as it teeters next to the abyss with one foot on a banana peel. Predictions are that no matter the election results this November in the USA there will be civil unrest and violence. Among many others who are corrupt (including those with power in the Courts, with positions in politics, with wealth from oil and the inflated economy that surrounds it) Trump is trouble, bad trouble, real bad trouble.

Fortunately not everyone is corrupt, yet. Before corruption, well past the critical mass for unrest, reaches so many people that civilization is shredded by it, we need many many many people who are willing to make good trouble, good trouble for Christ.

Martin Luther wrote, shortly after his trial where he was found guilty:

If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitioussinners. Be a sinner and sinboldly,but believe andrejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world]we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness,but, as Peter says,we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousnessdwells. It is enough that bythe riches of God’s glory we have come to know the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world.

No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sinsby so great a Lamb is too small? Pray boldly—you too are a mighty sinner.

.

Luther is not encouraging us to sin wildly. He states clearly that we sin already, no matter what we believe, think, do or do not do. The matter is then what? Do we recognize God’s Grace as the ultimate determination of our lives (each breath we take and each action we commit?) When we do, then we move beyond fearing our own sin. We accept it. We accept others’ sins. We exercise God’s Grace for ourselves and for others.

Levelled down to begging God for mercy, then we all can start to act, and act courageously. We can do everything the Holy Spirit gives us the power to do to counter the work of the Devil. So acting courageously we will continue to sin. This does not stop us for we trust God’ Grace.

David instructs Solomon to act, to serve God, for God will be with him.

Paul writes that we are servants of Jesus, stewards of God’s mysteries.

I gave thanks yesterday for water and fire, sufficient safe water and contained fire that keeps me warm, cooks food, and boils water.

It’s difficult to get water. Gas is too expensive to borrow a truck to travel the 25+ km there and 25 km back to get town water. There is no well and the lake water is contaminated far to much to use more than occasionally. No children have emerged from a swim with an extra leg or hand, but it’s bad. I have a bicycle that costs just my energy to run, though it’s not suitable for hauling water in any quantity. I have developed a way to collect rainwater. Since the recent rains I now have nearly full stores of rainwater, filtered and treated.

The stove that keeps me warm burns wood. LOTS of work. Every year the stove needs to be serviced, or more accurately rebuilt, fixed again and again, in order to eek out another winter of warmth from it. I was able to get this done over the Thanksgiving weekend, and it’s ready for the coming winter. There are other things I have to complete, but that one is the primary one.

Now I am set to work at surviving the winter, and living well!

What do we do with all that is life that God has given us?

David hoped his son would be faithful and serve God as Solomon ruled as king of Israel following David’s reign.

Paul hoped the Corinthians would learn to respect each other, not get caught in senseless squabbles, and look to serve (instead of rule over) others.

What do you hope for?

To live without sin and without trouble is not possible.

So serving Christ, trusting God’s Grace alone to save us, we can be so bold as opportunities provide for us, so that (though we may fail and likely will do something terribly wrong) God’s Grace will be known by many people through our words and actions (not by our sins.)

The point is, we will sin anyway, no matter what. Trying all your life not to sin is a useless consumption of our limited time alive. To do so would guarantee that we did nothing good at all. Not one little good thing at all.

Better to sin boldly.

Better to trust God to be with us.

Better to serve Christ and hold on to the mysteries we know about God.

Make trouble, good trouble. Invite others to make good trouble. We’re going to make trouble of some kind. Best we choose to make trouble, good trouble, serving Christ…

and trusting God’s forgiveness will extend also to us … especially when we need it.

And how we need it these days!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 15

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Were our ancestors Vikings or Voyagers?

That may be where our joy of canoeing comes from.

Genesis 12:4

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

Galatians 3:7

You see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham.

Words of Grace For Today

Ancestor stories are one’s identity. Who are we in this time and place starts with who are we descended from. It hardly stops there, though one’s ancestry often reveals more than the obvious, like what hereditary diseases are you susceptible to and what precautions can you take or preparations if precautions are of little help. Like what values have you been surrounded with as you grow/grew up. Like why are you fascinated with a particular way of looking at the world (which may influence your profession or avocations.)

Is your hair orange, your eyes green? Is your hair black, your face oval? Are you short and stocky, tall and lean? Are you near sighted or far sighted? Do you have a ‘liver spot’ on your left hand between your wrist and your thumb? These are interesting though not too significant.

Most significant is your identity in relationship to the Creator of the universe. What heritage do you have, can you claim, do you trust and rely on? What faith have your ancestors handed on to you? Was it life giving for them? Is it life giving for you? Does it offer the best of life to those around you, or is it a selfish faith that destroys others around you or different than you?

Abram and Sarai are characters in our ancestors stories of our relationship with God. It is clear enough that while Abram and Sarai were historical people, real people, the stories that are told and the characters developed in those stories are most certainly a collection of stories that belong to a number of historical people. They are then a collection of our ancestors’ stories attributed to two individuals. That’s a marvellous way to collect stories about one’s ancestors, and it is done for us.

While we may or may not be from the actual blood lines of Abraham and Sarah, by faith we are ‘adopted’ by God into the family of their children, and made children of God. DNA testing is not relevant. Here if one views ancestry as both nature and nurture, we are included by virtue of nurture. That’s a marvellous thing as well. It’s like being made honorary member of an indigenous family by virtue of one’s participation in and contribution to the life of that family. Yet God makes us members of Abraham and Sarah’s family, and children of God, not by virtue of anything we do or are. It is all gift. Undeserved gift.

That is something most marvellous.

God includes us, though we are strangers, and though we are not worthy, nor have we inherited from anywhere something that makes us worthy. Pure gift.

So into what kind of family are we adopted?

Abram and Sarai’s story begins: at his ripe old age of 75 God calls Sarai and Abram to uproot themselves from everything that is home, and to venture out into God’s world, to a land unknown and foreign and a family that is not yet and will be long in starting.

No matter our age, God calls us to uproot ourselves from all that would hinder us from following Jesus’ Way. That Way is simple to describe: we follow Jesus’ example of sacrificial, unconditional love, giving everything, even our very lives, so that others may live and live abundantly. (That’s got next to nothing to do with material abundance, it’s life abundance!)

Covid 19 or not, Christians have always been the people who volunteered to stay and care for the sick and dying as others moved away from diseased areas and inexplicable widespread death.

Our ancestry is marvellous, and it challenges us to go places we have not imagined, to do things we hardly envisioned possible, and to share that astounding attitude of God towards us with everyone: that God loves us, unconditionally.