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.

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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.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 29

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Cold Light

No matter how cold life seems

God is with us, laying down tracks with us

shining on us day and night by sun, moon, and Holy Spirit

Thank God!

2 Chronicles 32:24-25

In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. He prayed to the Lord, and he answered him and gave him a sign. But Hezekiah did not respond according to the benefit done to him, for his heart was proud. Therefore wrath came upon him and upon Judah and Jerusalem.

Luke 17:15-16

Then one of the lepers, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. He prostrated himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him. The leper was a Samaritan.

Words of Grace For Today

False pride and arrogance or humility and gratitude, two apparently mutually exclusive manners of responding to all God has done for us.

In 2 Chronicles the writer interprets the destruction of Judah and Jerusalem as God’s response to Hezekiah’s proud and hard heart. In Luke the writer interprets Jesus’ healing the lepers as done in response simply to the lepers asking.

That one returns to thank Jesus, against Jesus’ directions that they fulfill the Jewish Law and show themselves to the priests (to be recorded as cured and therefore free to return to their families and position in Jewish society.) The one who returns gains nothing by visiting the priests. He is an outsider and gains no ‘return’. Leper or not, he is not accepted into Jewish society. He returns then to Jesus, acknowledging that Jesus has more authority than any priests.

Luke’s message is that those who are burdened with their own religious authorities and practices may well fulfill their obligations to them, Jesus still comes and heals those people. People with no locally recognized religious authorities and practices to fulfill (the Samaritan perhaps had some, just not recognized by the Jews), are free to recognize Jesus’ greater authority and to respond with appropriate gratitude.

Who are we?

We wish we were like the Samaritan, free to recognize Jesus’ authority and power with thanks and gratitude.

If we are honest, we are like the other 9 Jewish lepers, bound to duty to other authorities, and easily able to miss the wonders Jesus provides and therefore easily able to miss out on thanking Jesus and living with wondrous gratitude. That gratitude is a more powerful force in life than ‘falling in love’, about which much is written, spoken and known – how it transforms life for the better (or worse.) Gratitude transforms life always for the better, and it does not wear off after a short few months.

If we are honest, we are also often like Hezekiah, proud and hard hearted, completely capable of pleading to God for help when life catches us in disaster or deadly illness or total loss. But when it comes to giving God thanks for all God has given us, our breath and very lives … Well then we are back to fulfilling our ‘obligations’ to other authorities and demands (like careers, money, status, reputation among those driven by greed and avarice, and false images of ourselves as above or without God).

Luther described all of these as happening simultaneously in our lives as responses to the same events. To which he prayed as we well can: God save us!

And save us, Luther knew as we can know, Jesus already has.

We can choose to live lives transformed by thanks and gratitude. Bit by bit each day.

Why not?

Where else are we going to turn for the living water? the bread of life? the Words of eternal life? the hope that does not disappoint? the promises that fill us so that we have more than enough to share with all who need life?

Yearning 3

Yearning for Everythings to be put Right

In darkness of our enemies’ making
we are yearning for the light,
for the moon to shine,
for the end of night.

A Little more moon

We are yearning for things

Skewed by the Devil’s might

to be put back right.

Christ alone can douse us rags

in the Spirit’s precious light,

safe in God’s forgiving crags,

resetting all things coloured bright.

All Right?

Yearning 2

Yearning for Everythings to be put Right

In darkness of our own making
we are yearning for the light,
for the moon to shine,
for the end of night.

moon shine, moon light

We are yearning for things

Skewed by the Devil’s might

to be put back right.

Christ alone can douse us rags

in the Spirit’s precious light,

safe in God’s forgiving crags,

resetting all things coloured bright.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – May 6

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Moon fog

Caught in Darkness?

water drops

The Light will Shine

And be reflected by all water and life in Creation

Isaiah 42:16

I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground.

Luke 1:78-79

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Words of Grace For Today

Darkness. Total, deep, profound darkness of the soul. No light at the end of the tunnel.

When we find ourselves there, to put it into cosmic terms, in a black hole that pulls everything around it into nothingness …

When we find ourselves there it seems that everything is lost, not only things that build a sense of continuity and security (like jobs, homes, family, church, and even the tool that enables one to create – a camera, a pencil, a computer, a canvas), not just life and all good life at that for us and for creation, but meaning, history, presence and future ….

When time and hope are lost into the void and emptiness that is left to us, then only memory of, or re-spoken promises made in the past, or that little light at the end of the vortex can save us from going totally bonkers.

Covid 19’s threat (the lock-down, our isolations, our ‘staying the blazes home’, our financial concerns, the risk to our and our loved ones’ health and lives), for most of us does not approach the vortex of a black hole where no light exists. For some of us it does.

Whether its a total black out, or a brown out, or we have already gone a bit bonkers so that it all looks like dark colours everywhere …

However this affects us,

We yearn for Light, if yearning is still possible.

God promises to turn darkness into light, rough places into level ground. The dawn from on high breaks in on us in darkness, in the shadow of death, and guides us in the way of peace.

That’s the promise that we can remember … if we can remember.

That’s the promise that we can re-speak for others … when they cannot remember, we can, and we can still speak.

That’s the promise that we need to re-speak, to proclaim with all the vivid colours of the rainbow splashing about …

because even if we do not notice them, there is someone onto whom those colours (carrying Light) will splash.

And they will be saved from the vortex of absolute darkness, by our generous, reckless, prodigal re-speaking a promise that created, redeemed, and guides this whole universe of creation to be able to seek peace.

Peace is not something we attain and hold on to.

Peace is a manner of being in this universe, when participated in brings us to reflect God’s intent for us, but which is lost as quickly as a candle is snuffed out by even a gentle breeze.

Peace be with you, also this day, whatever this day is for you.

Splash and be splashed by the Light and Colours of the rainbow, God’s rainbow of promise, faith, hope, love, grace, and life – abundant life.

kiltered sunset tree

We may be off kilter a bit

Doch God’s Light Shines

in full colour for even us!

Yearning

Yearning for Everythings to be put Right

In darkness of our own making
we are yearning for the light,
for the moon to shine,
for the end of night.

We are yearning for things to be put right.

Christ alone can put us

in the light,

safe,

and right.

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skewed

Sometimes everything is off kilter

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tilted wrong

The expected tilts so wrong, undermined.

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at least give us moonlight

We want some light, even reflected light, to find our way

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As in Heaven, so on Earth

We want earth to reflect the rightness of heaven

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Catch the Light in Colour, before Dark returns

We want the Light, Right?

Based on the Truth!

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Jesus alone is the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – May 5

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

God Created Wondrously and Created us in God’s own Image

Job 9:8 – 9

God alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the Sea; God made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the chambers of the south.

Colossians 1:15-16

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.

Words of Grace For Today

There are endless wonders visible to us in creation.

Covid 19 has throttled back our use of fossil fuels. Out of country flights are cancelled across the planet. In country travel is limited to essential movement only.

Gasoline sells for on average between 71.6 and 94.9 per litre. I bought gas for $.43 last week! The price I used to pay was as high as $1.20, and usually around $.95. Oil sold last week under $13 a barrel. It was as high as $113 in 2011 and from 2010 to 2019 averaged $72.5.

This virus has given us a reason to give creation a reprieve from our onslaught of carbon emissions. Areas that have had impossible air pollution over the past decades are showing air qualities the likes of which 40 year-olds have never seen there! That certainly is not the intent, but it’s likely a better reason for the global economic lock-down!

See https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/covid-19-air-pollution-1.5501810 for some astounding images of air pollution clearing.

The real connection is interesting. Air pollution taxes our immune systems, making us more vulnerable, also to viruses like the corona virus of Covid 19.

The wonders of creation in Canada are all around us, especially if you live outside the cities, near a real lake or near the mountains. Others cannot travel to enjoy this, but even in the cities there are parks where one can (still) walk by yourself or with your family, as long as one keeps physical distance from others.

The greatest marvel is that of all the wonders God created, God created us humans in God’s own image. We are not to try to be gods as if we were creators or controllers or destroyers of all creation. The later we’ve come close enough to accomplishing in this last century. This is the evil in us destroying all things around us, as we rationalize that we are doing what is necessary and good.

Humans are again and again capable of extra-ordinarily reflecting God’s Grace for each other, and for creation.

We notice these. Celebrate these. Share these. And we overflow with thanks and gratitude for the wonders of all creation, from sky to sea, to mountains, to the sinner/saints we see each day.