While the words were still in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven: ‘O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: The kingdom has departed from you! You shall be driven away from human society, and your dwelling shall be with the animals of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like oxen, and seven times shall pass over you, until you have learned that the Most High has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals and gives it to whom he will.’
This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Words of Grace For Today
To those who wish to lord power and destruction over others, to try to build their place in God’s creation and in time, like Nebuchadnezzar, .. to all doers of evil against God, God’s people, and any of God’s creation, God brings judgment and humility. God drives them, like Nebuchadnezzar, away from human society, to dwell with the animals of the field … to eat grass like oxen. All time shall pass over them until they have learned that the Most High has sovereignty over the kingdom of mortals and gives it to whom he will.
The power that God gives to God’s people is not to ‘lord it over’ others.
Rather through Jesus our Saviour we are justified by his grace, so that we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
We live in that hope and promise that life given to us now is abundant, and knowing and trusting this we are freed to live out God’s love for all people, to exercise for all others the same grace that God exercises for us in and through the telling of the old, old story of Jesus and his love.
Living in that promise, no matter what befalls us, no matter what enemies attack us with violence or lies, no matter our health, no matter how we suffer Covid (with illness, threat, or stress of the restrictions placed on our lives, or the lengthening of the pandemic and unnecessary risk Covidiots add to our lives) … no matter our circumstances, we are able to thank God for all we are and have, and to sing each day, Take my life that it may be, consecrated Lord to thee.
Thus we know, trust and live out that all is well, all is well, all manner of things are well with us … for God walks with us and God has sovereignty over the entire universe.
Lord, may your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for your servants the people of Israel, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Both I and my family have sinned.
Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
Words of Grace For Today
The smoke at first curls and twists around and down to the ground as the fire starts to burn. The song birds’ melodies from the woods mix with the loon wails across the water. A distant dog barks always hungry that one. Then as the fire develops coals the hotter smoke, still grey and white, takes a straighter path upwards and away. Seagulls in a flock scream and screech across the meadow. The distant dog barks always hungry that one. Two solo geese fly over honking, their mate on the nest keeping an egg, maybe two or more, warm in the sub-zero pre-sunrise cold. Without notice or care the smoke turns transparent, so hot the smoke particles become invisible, until six feet up from the homemade chimney rain cap it cools to become visible grey again. In the distance the dog still barks, always hungry that one.
Our voices rise to God, sometimes in melodies sweet with praise, sometimes sorrowful wails, sometimes honking, calling attention to ourselves (at our best it is not just hubris but to provide a tiny bit of safety for the vulnerable, as the parent ducks and geese do), sometimes in screams and screeches desperate it seems though it too often is not so, and sometimes like smoke our voices rise to God full of all that our lives have consumed, too cool to rise, hot and clouded, or searing hot and invisible.
Always our voices rise to God because we are hungry, always hungry … for the bread of life, the living water, the light of the universe … for love
and we do not understand how to receive all that is already provided to us
so we are always hungry.
Then without notice or care God’s Grace permeates our living, we see the awesome wonders of God’s Love and will for us and all creation and
we are exposed,
as the sinners, the unfit creatures in a marvellous creation, that we are.
Our response can only be to lift our voices to God with Nehemiah:
Lord, may your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for your servants the people of [fill in your people], confessing the sins of the people of [fill in your people], which we have sinned against you. Both I and my family have sinned.
We cannot confess other’s sins. We confess the sins in which we have participated with others and benefited from, namely the sins of our people of [fill in your people]. We acknowledge our shared sins, and our family sins … and our own personal sins.
This is the first step of becoming aware of God, yet once again, as we traverse our days on the side of God’s holy mountains, in God’s holy plains, and in God’s holy woods and wildernesses.
Confession brings healing so that we then are ready to do what we are called to do,
God’s work bringing abundant life to all people.
And our voices rise to God once again in melodies disparate and haunting … in profound thanks
No one shall be found among you who makes a son or daughter pass through fire, or who practises divination, or is a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or one who casts spells, or who consults ghosts or spirits, or who seeks oracles from the dead. For whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Lord; it is because of such abhorrent practices that the Lord your God is driving them out before you.
For the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
Words of Grace For Today
For whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Lord; it is because of such abhorrent practices that the Lord your God is driving them out before you.
Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
Good old judgment of others who practice different beliefs, followed by exiling them.
The quality that is unacceptable of the practices that are of darkness and such abhorrent practices is that they seek to claim control of what cannot be controlled.
While these practices named in Deuteronomy are unacceptable and abhorrent practices, because they deny that we are dependent on God alone for everything, we ‘good’ Christians in the church have all sorts of practices by which we try to control what cannot be controlled, and thus to control other people with rewards for compliance and punishments for non-compliance with our ill-informed claims of what is ‘right’ and ‘good’.
Should we exile all the people from the church who practice the dark arts of controlling what cannot be controlled, that is: trying to control God’s will for creation and us people in it? Were we to do that I’m quite sure that there would only be left one person, the one devilish person who evaded being exiled by others by being the exiler of all others.
In other words: we all deserve condemnation.
Thanks be to God that God is gracious.
God is gracious to all people, even those who practice abhorrent dark practices.
Our response, so much healthier for all, is to be grateful, rather than judgmental.
Yet we so often choose to ‘get rid of the trouble makers’. Thus our churches are not filled with sinners. Instead they are mostly empty, and those that come are mostly judgmental sinners.
In the Lord I take refuge; how can you say to me, ‘Flee like a bird to the mountains.’
Jesus spoke: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Words of Grace For Today
When I am most drained, I head to the mountains. I do not flee. I head there to hike, to camp, to ski, to take photos, to write. The mountains are a place of renewal.
Mountains have long since also been a place where we humans have fled from danger to our lives, for in the mountains we are harder to find, though life there is much more challenging. The world can easily give us more than we can take, where even the renewal of the mountains or the refuge of the mountains is not enough.
I do not give to you as the world gives.
The world, filled with sinful people, gives in lots of horrendous ways.
The world gives Covid 19, generously, killing and maiming millions.
The world gives false security with power, fame, and money, but all of that can evaporate in an instant and become more of a burden than a security for the future or a freedom for one’s todays.
The world gives promises of equality, justice, and opportunity; and then oppresses the masses, knowingly judges and falsely convicts, incarcerates and ruins honest people based on falsehoods and cruelty … The world promises opportunity but offers only opportunity to be enslaved so others can exercise corrupt power.
The world provides the blessings God created it to contain: air, water, food and opportunity to produce and utilize clothing and shelter; but the people in the world ensure they have their own excessive ‘comforts’ and luxuries at the expense of others being robbed of clean air, clean water, nourishing food, adequate clothing and sufficient shelter.
The world invites the masses to work to make a living possible, and then enslaves the masses at a standard of living that is impossible to call humane.
The world comes at us when we speak out and encourage change, equity, and justice. The world comes at us, condemns us for threatening the powerful people’s privileges in order to bring justice to the masses. The world comes at us to kill us with lies and Gaslighting or drive us into exile.
This is nothing new. It’s been humanity’s inhumane manner of executing injustice from the beginning of time.
God gives in many and various ways, all of which are marvellous.
God created and creates a universe that provides enough to support each and every person’s needs to live, and to live abundantly.
God gives us free choice to love, along with the other option, to choose evil.
God frees us from our inevitable choices that are evil, forgiving us, redeeming us, and renewing us so that we can live free from the sins of our past, present and future.
God gives us abundant life, and inspires, equips and calls us to give life abundant to all those around us.
God promises to walk with us no matter what we encounter in life. God’s Word is absolutely trustworthy. God keeps promises, always.
God sends Jesus, God’s own son, to live as an example of how to live life fully, abundantly; sacrificing oneself to provide life to others, forgiving even our enemies, and fearing and loving God, loving oneself and all other people, especially one’s enemies.
Jesus gives us peace, a peace that no one and nothing can take from us.
Therefore we have no cause to be afraid and our hearts need not be troubled … by any of the chaos that churns the world around us.
We get to be the people at peace, sharing life and peace – graciously – with all.
What a life.
It is the life of living renewed, each day, as if we were in the mountains.
It is a life living as refugees, in God’s arms, protected from all the threats of this world.
You are a God ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and you did not forsake them.
2 Timothy 2:13
If we are faithless, God remains faithful – for God cannot deny Godself.
Words of Grace For Today
God is often seen (as God is reflected often in Scripture) as a wrathful, judging, and destroying God … God who we need fear, obey, and worship.
Amidst this rough view of God, a reflection of our image of ourselves on to God, these words of God’s character repeat often in scripture:
God is ready to forgive, gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
These words are taken up into our liturgy. We repeat them Sunday after Sunday (perhaps not every Sunday if our congregation uses many of the liturgies available to keep our hearts and minds freshly engaged by the Word, also the Word in liturgies.) That is one of the benefits of liturgies moulded for centuries on scripture, repeated and repeated and repeated … the words are so familiar that we know them as our Good Shepherd’s voice for us!
This promise of God is … amazing!
It is filled with that amazing grace that saves wretches like us!
We all need forgiveness, from God and countless other people. We need God to be gracious and merciful to us, to be slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
As God is to us, God creates us, Jesus calls us, and the Holy Spirit equips and inspires us to be to all other people:
gracious and merciful,
slow to anger,
and abounding in steadfast love!
Even when we no longer have even a tiny trace of faith or hope or love or mercy or grace or forgiveness in us, (due to whatever Evil or stress, even Covid 19 and it’s side effects on us all) God is still faithful.
God is still faithful!
God remains always faithful to even the most terrible wretches, like us.
Right and therefore probably terribly wrong and the perpetrator of worse: or humble and humorous?
Leaving the study conference, the presenter came to the door, with
packed suitcase, leaving with someone else to catch a plane at the
airport an hour away. It had been bitter cold, below -30°C. As we
left the temperature was still a stiff -20°C with a windchill of
-27°C, which does make a difference for what happened next.
I asked if she had a parka. She said it was packed in the suitcase. I
continued with my real concern saying that at these temperatures one
ought have it at least right handy in the vehicle so that if
something happens one is prepared.
She returned a glazed look and said that she would be in the car and
into the airport. She had no plans to be outside.
I shook my head in disbelief and said that was ok, but the concern
was if an emergency came up, she would not be ready.
More non-commitment, and I departed.
Later I remembered this conversation and one of her comments in her
‘Mansplaining’ are those spouting off by men without
qualifications or attention to the-woman-they-speak-to’s
qualifications, as if all wisdom came only from men. And her learned
and practiced response was to ignore the words as much as possible
and move on.
Ahh, so that was what she did to my words at the door, as I bundled
into my down parka on my 40 feet to the car, travelling that same
hour to the airport, also never leaving the car.
Perhaps I was just a dumb Minnesotans (she’s from St. Paul MN) from
the sticks (Brainerd), who was male and therefore mansplaining her.
Perhaps in a different universe.
I have winter survival training, specifically for the weather we were
suffering. As a commercial pilot I flew in northern (so it’s
called, though it is really central) Alberta. The training was to
help us as pilots know how to prepare and then ensure we and our
passengers survived after a crash in the bush at extreme temperatures
for at least 72 hours. During the training it went down to below
-20°C each night as we made our shelters with only natural materials
with the tools we normally flew with (or should have never flown
without.) The last night it went well below -40°C.
In addition I have had the misfortune of being in a vehicle accident in the winter, and the difference made by having a parka on was critical for survival. Perhaps everything would have turned out ok had I had the parka near me. But then everything was tossed far and away during the pirouette and flips. So maybe not. But getting it out of a packed suitcase? Not a chance that would have gone well.
So maybe I was just mansplaining and her best response was to ignore
my words with judgmental disdain and move on; which is good enough
until there is an accident, and the parka could have made the
difference between life and death, for her or for others in her car
or others vehicles.
Maybe she is fully qualified to make the risk assessment, did so and
chose comfort over the small likelihood of being in an accident on
the way to the car or to the airport.
Or maybe she was not, and as a professor in St. Paul she may never
have to work to survive in the outside below -20°C.
But to dismiss my good words, kind even, wise from training and
experience, well that is just proof that mansplaining is hardly the
problem. The problem is that she dismisses what men say.
The sun colouring book is actually the smoke of the fire that
keeps me warm, or at least alive, when it dips below
I have no idea if she glazed over about my comment. Or if she actually had a parka to pull out, or was sheepishly covering for the fact she’d travelled, via California, without a parka this time, or she actually made the risk assessment fully informed and the best she wanted to.
Regardless: travelling with no parka at least on the seat beside
oneself in the deep freeze of winter is not wise.
Maybe my commenting, with surprise and expecting a humorous exchange,
was out of place: why care about how strangers deal with the
elements. It’s just the extremes of yesteryear are now the norms,
because of climate change. Besides if the stranger is a woman, then
it is politically incorrect to try to assist in some normal way.
The best thing to do is let all women suffer, even if there are
simple words of hard won wisdom that are worth sharing.
Besides, who cares if I was a stay at home parent, and listened to
all the womansplaining that was directed at me at parent-teacher
meetings, or other gatherings of parents. Now of course fathers as at
home dads is more common. Back then I was singular in most every
woman’s experience, and obviously I was stupid at it … because
helping raise 7 younger siblings does not really give any man real
child rearing experience. You have to be a girl to learn to raise
children, practising on your younger siblings, right?!
And all of that is utter nonesense. How do I even know the speaker
responded to me as if I were mansplaining her?
I do not.
And why does she ignore men who she thinks are mansplaining her?
Because she needs to survive.
But ignoring men, is exactly what women are complaining about: they
So the real fix is to blame men and ignore them, to shut them down
and silence them, right?!
That kind of working hard to turn the tables on people who treat me/us as if I/we do not count is much more of the same injustice and it breeds injustice, until it has built enough to cause a war, or a personal fight … and then the number of people who are silenced grows out of hand.
Empathy, kindness, reaching into the unfamiliar to understand; These
are a good start toward a real solution.
Blaming, dismissing others because they are xsplaining you is not an
answer, it is a dodge that perpetuates and makes worse the situation.
One could have solved it, but one chose instead to become like one’s
enemies and wreak havoc on them as they have you.
No solution comes from diminishing the other, nor from making them
Only grace truly works.
It’s cold outside. That does not mean one’s heart needs be ice
Be safe, outside, travelling, and with the hearts given into one’s care.
treat is to see something up close, real, beautiful … and forget
A trip to friends brought us to a familiar, wonderful view out over the mountains.
Though our visiting took priority over getting high on the mountains until the sun was well up in the sky. The sunrise was less rise than rain fall. So we enjoyed the clear air clean of the wildfire smoke from the many BC fires. The clear mountain air.
A breath of fresh air as good as good friends: priceless.
And after a jaunt up we went down by the riverside to enjoy the flow of wonder,
As water roiled serenely reaching for the sea across the rocks.
The last outing I had was a while ago, when ice still held the water under wraps
and the moon stuck itself hidden in clear view over the ice.
The greatest marvel though was definitely the golden
Wonder of the setting sun spread through the warp and weave of this universe.
of what may come.
Grace is the only aspect of life that brings real rewards.
Time is always on the side of truth.
Goodness shines bright. Think. Live. Be courageous,
We found ourselves out in the mountains again. Observing the environment of plants, animals, humans, and machines.
The spectacular sights outside our window in the morning make it all worth the effort.
The expanse of the clouds above the mountains off in the distance as we were nestled in the privacy of the trees on an open field with the sun setting made it wonderful.
And literally taking the kitchen sink, the bed, the toilet and tub, the table, the fridge, stove and furnace, and our clothes and luggage make for an easy waking in some marvelous spots.
From a very helpful machinist we got the tip that there were three falls just a few paces off the tarmac. We investigated in a heavy downpour.
We only found two but these are a combination of human engineering and beaver damming that result in protecting the road from surely otherwise eroding away.
A bit upstream we found another falls and rapids series, and never did find the third as we were soaked and cold.
But the creamy white and the wild wet rocks played along well, as long as we could hold out.
That evening we hung the truck and camper not loose at all but very secured to the side of a decommissioned logging road. The specular light turned the green canoe (another part of the trip) into a bronze wonder.
There, on the side of the mountain the wake up out the door view was even more breathtaking and then breath giving, as the sun played with the clouds and the valleys were visible for miles and miles.
The dreamy feel comes from the fog laying low on the mountains as fresh rain evaporates to fill the air.
The vegetation is lush, framing (sometimes blocking) the views.
At our feet daisies and red paintbrush flowers created a carpet of colour.
The sky for just a moment even took on the hue of the lush lilac coloured flowers dotting the mountainside in lines and groups.
The sunsets were awesome.
The light bedazzling bringing the trees to life otherwise not there.
And that is good photography.
Some of all that can be reduplicated with ordinary photos and lots of software work, usually hdr, to try to bring out the light, but nothing works as well as finding the moment the light dances, and being ready to capture it, in order to share it.
While I was out I remembered quickly the difference the exposure time makes on water.
Sharp and clear here.
A landscape with just one spot of colour.
Or a portrait to lose almost all the colour except the one rose.
And playing with the focus if you just let the camera do its thing, sometimes everything wrong is in focus and the thing out of focus.
So you have to make sure you control what is happening to get what you want.
Sometimes the great difference in light levels is just too much and something is lost.
And then multiple exposure HDR can sometimes bring the light of everything to be seen in one photo. – But with better software there are better options.
When I wake in the foothills at the late hour sunrise, and the sun dances off the mountaintops out the window at the foot of the bed I get my camera on the tripod and shoot.
But the delay of that simple preparation allows the light to shift and the mountain is by comparison less than dancing alive.
Looking around there are other light plays to focus on.
But the best of the light is past.
So I decide to make a study of this, having encountered a photo of a young photographer, untrained but able to naturally see and capture and process photos to make them amazing for many around.
I often use hdr software, though I miss the really good hdr software I have on my desktop, to bring out the light in bracketed exposures. And then these images also play better than any of the single exposures as I pull the various light level out to play anew.
The fun and somewhat surrealistic use of the software is available.
The surrealistic leaves one craving a return to planet earth.
I rarely enjoy nature turned into a nightmare, rather a somewhat alternative view of what never was is good enough playing with reality for me. Creation has it’s own beauty that the right light brings to life.
That’s the reward of good photography, and the fun of playing around getting there.