Facing God, On Christmas, Covid and All

Friday, December 25, 2020

Come

Follow

Where God Will Lead Us

Where God Will Carry Us When We Can Go No Further

Psalm 144:15

Happy are the people to whom such blessings fall; happy are the people whose God is the Lord.

Luke 2:10-11

The angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid; for see I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord.

Words of Grace For Today

Blessed Christmas

Today is the day we celebrate Jesus’ birth, fully God, fully human.

Whether we know it or not, we are the ones whom God has made to be happy, not for any other reason other than that God has chosen us and blessed us.

Today we can be blessed to be blessings, blessings for all other people.

Let us celebrate, however possible, given the restrictions needed to help many of us survive this pandemic, without remorse or regret that things are not normal, for normal is not needed for us to celebrate God’s surprising blessings.

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’s Last Days: Facing Everything!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Wonders

of Fishers Returned

And Light

Short but Marvellous

Psalm 3:6

I am not afraid of tens of thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

Mark 10:15

Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.

Words of Grace For Today

Close to Christmas, and enemies have not relented.

And if you do not have enemies who have not relented, then perhaps you have not lived well and righteously, or courageously.

Still we like to say others cannot enter the Kingdom of God, for they are not humble like children before God.

This we say with our pride swelling, for definitely we are God’s favoured and God’s chosen and at least we are assured of great place in God’s Kingdom …

just like the disciples who argued who would be first in Jesus’ rule!

First are those who have nothing left, who like children are fully dependent on their parents, and on God, for their survival,

which is not going to be much longer on this earth

for the powers that be are quite willing to kill off those who stand righteously before them with truth and grace,

testaments to God’s Grace and Truth.

Like children then, let us take these final days to prepare for God to come, as a helpless child in our midst, as a human, suffering all we do in this hard, short and brutish life,

which by God’s blessings alone (not our material wealth or comforts or privilege) is blessed with challenges and meaningful labour, eternal and overfilled with wonders, and filled with kindnesses unending.

Advent Preparations During Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – December 21

The first day the sun can shine longer than yesterday

by a few seconds.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Life is Filled with Wonderful

Mundane Things

Like Cold, Snow, Trees, Light

From Generation to Generation

All in God’s Hands

Psalm 102:28

The children of your servants shall live secure; their offspring shall be established in your presence.

Revelation 1:8

I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Words of Grace For Today

Security is a fleeting illusion, unless one by grace places one’s full trust in God. The security one has then is not in having a comfortable or successful life. Then security is in God’s hands, God who is the Alpha and the Omega (the ‘A’ and ‘Z’ of all.)

When we practice placing our trust in God, which we usually skew into something else, then the ‘habit level’ of our lives moves to a different ‘place’. If we are fortunate (the self made skew not being too extreme) we start each day conscious that God is our all in all, and that all we have and are is God’s anyway, so we ‘give it’ all we’ve ‘got’ by ‘giving it our all’ so that all other people can have life abundant. Then through the day as we make choices each moment, they are at least somewhat informed by this awareness.

The truth is most ‘religious’ people skew the love of God into something that supports their own privilege or position in the world. Rich people interpret God’s blessings as evident in their wealth. Poor people see God’s blessings poured out on the poor. Powerful people interpret God’s blessing as evident in their having power, powerless see God’s blessings in the meek, the lowly, the outcasts, the pure of heart.

And we all desire to have a place in the history of humanity, by not dying and being forgotten, but by making our mark and being remembered for generations. While few can hope to be remembered, most all of us strive to pass on to the next generations some of who we are and what we value.

All this is rather foolish of us, though pretty standard. God keeps calling us to see the world anew, through the eyes of others, through the eyes of Jesus.

We cannot secure our own lives, we all die. We cannot secure our place in history, we all vanish like grass in winter under the snow.

We need not secure our own lives. God already secures us as God’s own children.

The children of God’s children shall live secure; their offspring shall be established in God’s presence.

More we cannot attain. Even this is given to us as a free gift. More we do not need.

So what are we doing this extraordinary Advent to prepare for an extraordinary Christmas?

Whatever we have done this Advent to prepare, whatever we do this Christmas, more than what God has done for us by being born as one of us, is all our own odd skewing of what Christmas is about.

So celebrate, and maybe remember, that what we do is at best a misty, foggy, reflection (in our own warped mirrors) of what God has done, does today, and will do for us, each and every one of us humans, each day.

God takes care of that mushroom cloud of sin and hypocrisy (ours and everyone else’s, too) and sets us re-newed into each moment of each day.

What a life!

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

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Long Before This Day Started,

God Fully Knew It,

and Wrote Our Stories of It

So that We Could Walk Christ’s Way

In Light

Psalm 139:16

Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.

Luke 10:20

Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Words of Grace For Today

Do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you

With this short sentence, the promise is made and then fulfilled that not only God controls all the universe, and Jesus, fully God and fully human, controls everything as well – the precreation chaos of the sea submit to his command, demons recognize him and cower and obey his word, but also the disciples can command the evil spirits to vacate bodies and minds, as they heal with the power of Jesus’ Word given to them!

Today we’d flock to meet and be healed by these disciples. There would be mass hysteria trying to reach them. Imagine how many Covid 19 victims could be healed, and the whole world could be no longer threatened by a small and easily transmitted virus!

The spirits cast out also free people’s minds and souls, as swiftly and effectively. There would be no Trump-itis narcissistic fantasy-land and bullying, no false convictions, and no mental illness – no campaigns of lies and distortions to ruin others, no false testimonies, no false police reports, no ill mothers bringing up their children to value money over all else, including honesty and integrity!

The world would celebrate without end, were this power available to all the children of God, to all the followers of Jesus! All would bow in wonder at God’s works to bring health to all creation!

And then we are told the disciples and we with them, should not rejoice at this power to heal and to save.

Rather we are to celebrate that before we were born our lives were written in God’s ‘book of life’ and our names appear among those saved by Jesus. Before we were anything of anything, any substance or even a dream in our parents’ or their parents’ or their parents’ minds, God fully knew us and all our days.

Even then, as God fully knows all our days, the wonderful times, the good times, the bad times, the great suffering, God chooses to walk with us in and through all that. Even when we walk ourselves right in to living hell, God walks with us! … And God keeps us walking right back out, carrying us if necessary!

There are many stories written, many more told, of lives lived, loves that guided, greeds that destroyed, hates that destroyed, and forgiveness that saved and renewed. Each and all of these stories, and each and all the untold stories of humans’ lives, God knows fully, long before a person is imagined and born, even my story, even yours.

God comes, fully human, born in a manger, so that we have God’s story of living as one of us. So that we will know in Jesus’ story the depth and breadth of God’s love for all the universe, and for each person, even me, even you.

Covid 19 cannot disrupt God’s love, nor ruin Jesus’ story, nor our celebration of it, each Christmas. Lock-downs, restrictions, physical distancing and even illness and death, can disrupt all the trappings we have laid on top of Jesus’ story, sometimes obliterating our ‘view’ of the power of God’s love to drive out the demons from each of us. Nothing can rob us of Jesus’ story nor of God’s Will to save us, each and every one of us humans. Long before Covid 19, God fully knew all about this pandemic, and our living through it, with God walking with us, carrying us when we falter … walking with us through it and back out of it.

Advent is the precious blue sombre time of hope, time to prepare, and Covid 19 is among many other things, driving us to ‘rediscover’ Jesus’ story so that our celebrations reflect God’s Word of Life for all people!

What will your Christmas look like this year? What will your Christmas celebration declare about you and your faith? How will God be seen walking with you? With me? With us each and every one of us?

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – December 18

Friday, December 18, 2020

Repent?

Is this the Way? Is this God’s Way for Us?

Is this the Way of Christ:

to the Cross to Give All Life Abundant?

Hosea 4:1

Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel; for the Lord has an indictment against the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land.

Matthew 3:2

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.’

Words of Grace For Today

Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.

Repent is to turn around, to proceed in the other direction, in the other manner, to proceed with the Grace of God instead of pounding one’s head against the wall of the Devil’s empty promises in vain trying to make something of life, something that cannot be made … it can only be received …

And God offers it freely.

Beethoven would be 250 years old this year. Overcoming all temptations to decay into decomposition humour, he still connects people with their own powerful and profound emotions and with through these emotions to other people. His 5th and 9th symphonies pound down in all the force of life in bar after bar of melody circling to a full climactic ending, that is both a relief to reach and leaves one wanting more. His pastorale melodies encircle the fog of the early morning’s kiss on the lake and bespeak the yearning that connects us all in the hope of being loved and being able to love purely, simply, profoundly. ZDF provides a tour of the world to places and people touched to the core by Beethoven’s music; Bonn, Osaka, Medellín, Ruhrgebiet, Brisbane, Rsumeb (Namibia), Queensland, Chennai (India.)

Music like Beethoven’s reaches deep into us, moves us, heals us, connects us to other people, creates empathy in us for others, and miraculously sets the world right … if for only a short moment.

This is one way in which the Kingdom of God has come near. It is one way in which God reaches into our hearts and calls us to repent, and moves us to proceed in a manner more fitting the wonders that God created us to be and to know in this tragic and beautiful existence we all know.

Where there is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land (which is everywhere in every generation) let music probe deep into our hearts, minds, and lives so that we may repent and proceed in a new (ancient) direction of walking humbly with our God, sharing the Good News (the old, old story of Jesus and God’s love), and always working for justice for all people.

For this Christ came. This we prepare to celebrate, quietly, at our core, with the midnight darkness of our lives sparkling as our candles of remembering, thanks, celebration, and hope, held by people of all sizes, colours, creeds, and experiences pierce through the darkness.

Light one, two, three, [four] candles to wait for Messiah, let the light banish darkness ….

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 16

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Full Light of Day Was a No Show

Still The Light of Christ

Shines

Every Day,

though sometimes, like clouds,

we try to hide it.

Yet the Light is present in us,

just as at 100,000 feet

the sun is bright every day.

Psalm 77:15

With your strong arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

Colossians 1:26-27

The mystery [of God’s Word] has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Words of Grace For Today

Ah, God’s mighty arm working for us and the power of mysteries revealed to us chosen few …

These are clear evidence that even as God works the wonders of Grace through so many people, through so many generations, we humans still want to step up to control God, and claim God’s power for ourselves, and use it against our enemies.

Thankfully this is not, of course, not the only message that is contained in scripture, or there would be no Good News, no Word of God, and no Hope to share with the world.

There are occasions when God’s people record that God’s might has saved them from violent destruction by violent enemies. God lead Moses and the descendants of Jacob and Joseph with him by a pillar of cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night. They escaped through the Reed Sea, on dry land made possible by the wind blowing the waters back. When the Egyptian army pursuing them tried to follow the waters flooded back in, like a tide returning. The army was stopped. The people were free … to wander in the wilderness for 40 years!

God’s mighty arm parted the waters. Yes. Or God guided Moses to use a natural if rare phenomenon of the tide going out, combined with strong winds that laid bare a path across the Reed Sea where a natural ‘bridge’ lay beneath a shallow of water. The out going tide laid the land bare for only a short time before the returning tide driven by the same wind, or perhaps a shift of wind, flooded back over the ‘bridge’ with a great wall of water. Mighty arm of God, was it? Yes, of course … maybe.

Then remember that God does not delight in the death of evil doers, of the enemies of God’s people, but rather in their conversion and being saved.

As for the mystery of God revealed to a select few … this is the cry of a great many through history, who have used this ‘secret wisdom’ to elevate themselves to power over others. Sometimes it’s a small following. Sometimes it’s a great hoard that are subdued. Always the ‘secret’ is false.

God’s mysteries are, as Paul stated so well, that all people, Gentiles included, are saved by God’s Grace and Grace alone; not by the thoughts, words and deeds of any person. No person can be good enough to earn salvation for themselves or for others. We all sin, and sin good and well, enough to separate ourselves from God. The ‘mystery’ that Paul discovered and proclaimed (so it would not remain a mystery) is simple: Jesus came to save all people, because God so chooses out of love to do so!

God chooses. We are forgiven, healed, renewed, and equipped to be God’s Grace for others.

There really is no real mystery to it. But in a world filled with humans, all who want to sinfully claim God’s power for themselves and use it to gain advantage over others, this continually is ‘discovered’ again, as if it were a mystery to all. This is profound and repeated Semmelweis Reflex, ‘the propensity to reject new ideas if they challenge established ones — no matter how compelling the evidence is for the new ideas.’ (See the CBC Ideas radio article on hand washing and Dr. Semmelweis.)

This is not rejecting a new idea, it is rejecting an ancient idea, that rises as if new, which challenges the other ancient idea: that we must save ourselves by working our way to God through [fill in all the beliefs, words, ideas, deeds that have been claimed can save us.] These ‘special’ beliefs-deeds’ are almost always named as a control over people, sometimes with good intentions, often not. Even so they are always wrong headed and destructive as they lead people over the cliff of trying to save themselves, all in vain, as they forego life abundant freely offered by God.

Our work then is to continually renew God’s Word of Grace, for ourselves and for others; to tell the old, old story of Jesus and God’s love, evident since the beginning of time, most clearly told in Jesus life, ministry, healing and saving, and in his death and resurrection.

We give God thanks, that God’s ‘strong’ arm, is filled with Grace, and has saved us from ourselves, again and again and again, since the beginning of time, and will until the end of time.

Selah.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – December 14

Monday, December 14, 2020

God Promises and Delivers

Homes For All People

Righteous Homes,

not Windblown Shacks and Outhouses

Isaiah 26:9

My soul yearns for you in the night, my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

2 Corinthians 9:10

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

Words of Grace For Today

As the vaccine is promised ...

Like in every generation before we yearn and hope, sometimes beyond hope. Yet sometimes in despair we give up that last strand of hope …

In the dark of the night, when monsters rear their ugly head occupying all the challenges of our days which we thought we could deal with well enough and those monsters eat at the foundation of the order of our lives amid the chaos …

There is always the darkness, the evil that threatens us.

Whether or not we see or listen or know, God promises to judge all with real justice and grace, out of which will come righteousness for all … whether we experience this righteousness or not God’s promises are the only promises that are sure!

God promises to walk with us, giving seeds that we can sow and harvests abundant that we can gather in, increasing in and around us God’s righteousness – for Christ is come.

God’s Son came, and will come again, to make clear God’s will towards us, namely that God loves us and judges us with mercy and truth. Jesus will judge all for everything they have done.

How can righteousness come out of the evil of all humans, which is so destructive, pervasive and enduring? Jesus offers us his record, pure and sinless, and on that record we are judged. Our records, our sins, the evil we have done to others, and the destruction we have wrought on creation … all this is erased as if it never occurred in all of time at all. So we emerge, all of us, righteous.

We do not get to wait for Christ’s judgment until after we die. Christ judges every day, every hour. Christ renews us as righteous every moment. We still remain sinners, yet always are we fully God-made saints.

So we yearn …

We yearn for judgment …

We yearn deep in our bones for judgment, so that we are made righteous, and those that do us evil will be rescued from their sins and we with them.

Advent is the time we relearn to trust God’s promises, and we live this abundant life waiting, alert, holding to the Promise that draws us onward, and draws from us righteousness we did not know we were capable of.

We are the harvest. We are the labourers in the harvest. The harvest is ready, each day. The harvest is so abundant it cannot be stored in all the earth or even the universe. Such is God’s promise to walk with us and bring us to live life abundantly!

No Covid 19 pandemic can rob us of this abundant life. Not even when our usual Christmas habits are not possible this year while we remain safe for ourselves, for our loved ones, and for all our neighbours.

Life is still abundant. Perhaps just because we must rethink what is essentially Christmas, our celebrations in the future will regain a significance we have not previously known.

Whether or not we see or listen or know, God promises and delivers life over abundant for all!

Let us make it so for all people, also this Christmas!

Take Advent to truly prepare.

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.]

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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]