Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 26

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Sun and Lake Reflected Sun

God’s Light

Reflects in All Creation

Jeremiah 30:11

For I am with you, says the Lord, to save you; I will make an end of all the nations among which I scattered you, but of you I will not make an end. I will chastise you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.

2 Timothy 4:16-17

At my first defence no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

Words of Grace For Today

Facing one’s sure end, due to enemies’ work against us though we are innocent, is about as dire life gets.

To live,

To know God was with us,

To know God is with us,

To know God will always be with us,

To know that even if our enemies succeed in taking our life, we will live!

This is to know Grace.

And even under such threat, we live abundantly, blessed, breathing in the Spirit, and proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, even for our enemies.

Just another day.

Tomorrow is another,

which will be filled

with

wonder and miracles and God’s presence revealing the marvels of the universe.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 24

Thursday, September 24, 2020

We bear fruits

unless the stress of life puts us down,

like this once beautiful birch.

Jeremiah 6:13-14

For from the least to the greatest of them, everyone is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely. They have treated the wound of my people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace’, when there is no peace.

Luke 6:44-45

Each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked from a bramble bush. The good person out of the good treasure of the heart produces good, and the evil person out of evil treasure produces evil; for it is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaks.

Words of Grace For Today

The good person … produces good and the evil person … produces evil.

Forest Gump quotes his mother: “Stupid is as stupid does.”

We like to paint the world in black and white, good and bad, yes or no. Binary absolute polarized categories are simpler to describe, identify, and judge. Polarized thinking is dangerous, and destructive to others and ourselves.

Christ calls us to a different view: He ate with sinners and tax collectors, welcoming in the women of ill-repute, the lame, the outcast, and even lepers.

Martin Luther clarified for us the view of humanity that Jesus calls us to embrace: that before God (in the ultimate judgment of us) we are all sinners, always, forever.

Only through Grace does Jesus step in and give us his impeccable record, not only before God, but also as the record we can live with as our past as we move into the future! Thus we are God-made saints.

Sinners we remain, God makes us saints, and it’s not sometimes one and then other times the other. We are simultaneously both saints and sinners. That goes for every last one of us! No exceptions for good or bad behaviour.

Pen-ultimately (of a 2nd order of significance) we know that how we live our lives effect others who live now on this earth and those who follow us. In other people’s eyes we can be seen to do good things, and be judged as a good person, OR to be seen to do bad things, and be judge as a bad person.

These orders of significance, the ultimate judgment of God, and the penultimate judgment of history about our lives, are not ours to make. There are other lower orders of significance where we may be able to judge ourselves as going good and being good, or as doing bad and being bad. They are the level at which we can understand Luke wrote about people being like trees: we produce the fruit that is of the kind we are. This image breaks when we realize that God made us all ready, able, and eager to only do good; yet we broke from the kind of people (‘trees’) that God made us to be, we sinned, and we have done evil things.

Jeremiah writes how everyone (but not Jeremiah or God’s faithful few) is greedy for unjust gain; and from prophet to priest, everyone deals falsely.

Sometimes it seems that everyone else has become evil. In a world economy that is based on greed it is difficult to see anyone conduct business not based on greed. Laws are written to ensure that CEO’s conduct business as greedily as possible for the shareholders.

In this messed up world, it is easy to see and to say that everyone has become greedy, taking from others what is not ours to take.

Stupid is as stupid does and everyone does stupid. There is no evil that is not stupid, yet not all evil is stupid. (Some stupid is not evil, it’s just stupid.) So perhaps better said: stupid evil is as stupid evil does, and everyone does stupid evil.

Saints are a miracle. Only by God’s Grace is anyone able to be seen as a saint, in spite of their stupid doings.

Only the paradox that Luther provides covers it: we are all simultaneously saints and sinners. God creates us Good. We all choose to be stupid by our (fallen) nature, and only by Grace are we ever made wise.

Thanks be to God for saints, like us. And Grace be to those terrible sinners, like us.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 23

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Fall Arrives with Colours

in the Light.

There’s old stories in all that.

Isaiah 25:8

He will swallow up death for ever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.

2 Corinthians 5:4

For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

Words of Grace For Today

In a word it’s done: God swallows up death, wipes our tears away, takes away our disgrace from earth!

While under this tent (the firmament, the sky) we groan burdened down. We wish not to be disgraced further by being stripped of everything of life. Rather we wish to be robed in Christ’s glorious robes, so that what is mortal, frail, and failing (sinful) in us will be swallowed by God’s Word, which gives us and all creatures and plants life, and indeed brought the universe to exist in its good order from nothing.

There is disgrace before other people, sometimes deserved, more often fabricated by others to destroy innocent people. This is difficult to bear, until one realizes that the fabricating of disgrace 1) has been going on since the first generation, 2) it does not constitute actual disgrace for us, but 3) it does constitute real disgrace for those who fabricate disgrace for us. Still this disgrace is a terrible burden to bear.

In the scheme of the universe created in good order disgrace before others (real or fabricated) is nothing compared to disgrace before God. Fabricating disgrace for others is only one way in which so many disgrace themselves before God. The Devil has his wiles in endless variety.

While disgraced before others we groan with the burdens of trying to survive each day. We seek relief in so many ways. So many require that we throw off life, what little we have left, and throw away all that is of value and joy in this mundane world. As if disconnecting ourselves from our bodies, from the grass, trees, and lakes and oceans, from other people whom we love and whom love us, and from other people who suffer like us and so much worse. Tossing away life given to us by our Creator cannot give us life. This is another wile of the Devil. It merely furthers our disgrace.

Disgrace seems to swallow up all of life, before others, and before God. Death pales in comparison and merely gives relief from disgrace.

God does not leave it to be so. God speaks a Word. With a Word (of might beyond our imagining) God removes our disgrace from all creation. God robes us in Christ’s glorious robes of unconditional love. Death is swallowed up by God’s giving us re-newed life, life in Christ’s name.

With a Word. God speaks and it is so.

Human masters can speak words and order others to make it so. God speaks and all of creation is so.

More power cannot be.

And this power clothes us in Christ’s righteousness, covering our sins, our disgrace, freeing us from disgrace fabricated by others, and we are able to engage fully in life, for ourselves and more. We are able to follow Christ, sacrificing all we are and have and can do in order that others will hear this Word of life.

Hallelujah!

This is the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 22

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Dark

No Matter How Dark the Days

Christ’s Light Shines Each Day

Psalm 13:2

How long must I bear pain in my soul, and have sorrow in my heart all day long? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

John 16:33

I have said this to you, so that in me you may have peace. In the world you face persecution. But take courage; I have conquered the world!’

Words of Grace For Today

It is good to know that Jesus has won the war, because our enemies certainly seem to be winning a lot of battles, even when I refuse to fight any battles.

Now the Psalmist knows exactly what it is like, not just for me, but for so many people through the generations: our enemies seek the destruction of whatever and whomever gets in their way in order that they can pretend to be powerful, powerful enough to make their way without God. Once they start to ‘win’ by destroying others, they seem not to be able to stop.

This is the persecution that followers of Christ have faced in every generation.

Our hope is sure. Christ has conquered the world, and more so, Christ has conquered death!

What is a series of battles lost, when life eternal awaits us? Certainly we can survive …

though today in the middle of these huge losses, it feels more like the world comes to an end, at least for us already today.

Thank God, we are not on our own.

Through all our pain and sorrow, through all our persecution, we know we are not alone.

God is with us.

With God we can hope to survive these trials and persecutions.

With God we can hope with a sure hope that ALL God’s promises will come to pass, including that our enemies will be defeated, not by their defeat. Rather by the Holy Spirit transforming them into followers of Christ.

In the end, since Christ has conquered death and the world, everyone wins. Finally we will win, in God’s way of giving life abundant for all. We win life now and eternally.

For today we pray, and struggle to remain filled with gratitude.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 21

Monday, September 21, 2020

Golden Sun

Living Water

Beauty and Life Forever

Psalm 88:9-10

My eye grows dim through sorrow. Every day I call on you, O Lord; I spread out my hands to you. Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praise you? Selah

John 17:15

I am not asking you to take them out of the world, but I ask you to protect them from the evil one.

Words of Grace For Today

Water. It is the basis of life, the cleanser, the thirst quencher ….

What can we do when our eyes water with tears of sorrow?

What can we do when we call on God, with upraised hands … and yet there is no answer.

What will come of us when there is no more life in us?

We will no longer be able to call on God, nor will God be able to answer us.

So while we live … yes, while we live we call upon God for all good things, with hearts filled with gratitude, and hopes of high expectations for all that God has promised.

The real challenge of life is not mere logistic chaos to organize, or engineering problems to designed to a resolution, or stories of lives that have gone amok, and not even the real lives that the stories represent. The real challenge in life is to face, with almost no expectation of relief, the deepest depths of the Devil’s work. For we knowing we could only be lost if we are left on our own.

Yet, there is no danger, for Christ is with us, not to take us out of the world to another place. No, Christ has stood with us each hour as the Devil works his terrible wiles, and protected us, and given us the best that life has to offer: Living Water. This is the water that quenches all thirst in life, and gives us life so abundant it carries us beyond all imagination.

Each day, drinking in the living water, we call upon God, knowing that Jesus hears our every word and the Holy Spirit guides us to be all that we can be, as God’s children.

Selah!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 14

Monday, September 14, 2020

Rocks

Rock on With the Wonders of Light

The Light of Christ

Isaiah 41: 14-16

Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you insect Israel! I will help you, says the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. 15 Now, I will make of you a threshing-sledge, sharp, new, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. Then you shall rejoice in the Lord; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.

Romans 5:11

More than that [i.e. having been reconciled, we will be saved by Christ’s life] we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Words of Grace For Today

Worm Jacob and Insect Israel, judging the mountains!

Jesus reconciling wretched sinners, so that we can boast of the mighty sacrificial love of God.

When we know our place, there is no joy in threshing, crushing, and scattering the mountains and our enemies.

There is only boasting in what God has done for us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Who can give us life?

There is no life in judging others, especially not for what you have done yourself in order to make yourself appear better than you are. Worms and insects abound and do not make good judges.

Doch, to receive reconciliation, that is to receive as a gift that everything between us and God is made right, not by our own feeble and futile efforts, but by God’s own miraculous work through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Now that is a gift that keeps on giving every minute right into eternity.

Now every day, the simplest visions of light, colour and hope spread God’s glory before us to be seen, acknowledged and celebrated.

We may be mere worms and insects, doch through God’s own will and work we are made to be saints, bearers of God’s blessings of light and grace for all the world.

Shine Jesus shine, in us and through us.

Let Jesus wonders be scattered throughout the universe.

Let us remember the marvellous light of Christ, even on cloudy days when it rains, even when Covid 19 still runs rampant, aided by fools and deniers and ‘I’m done’rs’.

Because God has made everything right between us and God, the our lives are made right in every way. Challenges become opportunities to share God’s grace, in our mundane tasks and among our enemies that work to kill us.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 13

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Cold and Dark are the Paths

The Paths Forward

Press on toward God’s Light

Jeremiah 32:17

Ah Lord God! It is you who made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.

Matthew 28:18-20

And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Words of Grace For Today

God is with us.

For some those words are the most comforting, promise-filled, powerful words that can be spoken, written or read. They name God’s choice to accompany one through all that life presents to us, both good and bad, marvellous and destructive, and hope-giving and despair oppressing.

For others these words can be the greatest cause of fear, dread, and angst. For they have chosen again and again to act selfishly, relentlessly destroying others for their own advantage, and trying to hide the truth from all. God still knows what they have done. To know that God not only knows, but God also accompanies one through life and the hell one creates for others, is to hear that God is not just aware of what one has done and still does, but God is profoundly affected by it as well. God’s wrath will rise up against one, in the end if not before.

God’s wrath is to be dreaded greatly!

For God has created the universe with God’s own power, with a word and an outstretched hand. Nothing is too hard for God. Destroying a person who has given themselves over to evil every day of their lives and only tries to hide this from others and themselves, and even from God … this kind of destruction is child’s play for God.

God is also so powerful as to send us to share God’s Grace with others, and to be ready to baptize them into the Way of Jesus, the Redeemer of the world. We know that Jesus has commanded us what is profoundly easy to repeat, and on our own impossible to obey: to love the Lord with all our heart, mind and strength; to love our neighbours as ourselves, and to love even our enemies.

This is only possible since God is with us always, that we can love unconditionally as God first loves us.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 10

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Glory

Wondrously, Creation Dances

Genesis 9:13

I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.

Hebrews 13:9

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them.

Words of Grace For Today

Regulations about food. Abstinence from tobacco, or from alcohol, or from dancing, or from Jazz, or from [fill in the piety thing to forego].

These are all ways to try to gain God’s approval.

Foregoing these or anything else, or obligatorily keeping some ritual or habit, are all futile efforts. Nothing we do or do not do can gain us God’s favour. Our place in God’s creation is far lower than that we have such capacity.

More significantly it is superfluous. God already has given us God’s favour. Still we get carried away by all kinds of strange (and yet devilishly familiar) false teachings about our place in God’s creation, as if we were as powerful as God, or more so, even able to be godlets ourselves.

It is the truth that many regulated behaviours have been scientifically good for us at the time and therefore healthy for us to observe. Not all are beneficial. Dancing is actually an activity that if one continues to practice into one’s old age it can help keep one’s mind clear, and one’s body able longer than if one had not. Still many call for avoiding dancing, because it leads to sex, which leads to children. The greater truth is that sex leads to children, which leads to dancing joyously. Whether sex is healthy depends not on dancing, but on one’s choice of partner and how one relates to him/her; which dancing has little to do with.

To remind us how we were and are so sinful and evil that God chose to flood out all life except a sample of each kind along with Noah and his family, and how gracious God is in re-establishing a covenant (an unusual unilateral covenant) with us, beginning with a promise not to flood all life away again.

So that we not forget, which we do so easily as we try to re-invent our relationship with God and creation … So that we do not forget God places a rainbow in the sky.

Light intersects the moisture of rain in the sky, and the prism effect of the moisture paints a bow of all colours across the sky. God continually works to show us how gracious God is.

Instead of abstaining or partaking or striving to achieve God’s favour, God invites us to immerse ourselves in God’s Grace which fills us and overflows all around us.

Grace! Grace is God’s free gift of liking us, of loving us unconditionally (despite the truth that we deserve condemnation), of forgiving us and giving us new chances. Second chances are far too few for God’s attitude towards us. God gives us new chances at life each minute, in each decision.

Grace!

Bask in Grace. It’s like dancing only wondrously better for strengthening one’s heart, soul and mind at all ages.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 09

Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Forest Dark

In the Dark

The Light,

God’s Promise Guides Us

Isaiah 47:13-14

You are wearied with your many consultations; let those who study the heavens stand up and save you, those who gaze at the stars and at each new moon predict what shall befall you. See, they are like stubble, the fire consumes them; they cannot deliver themselves from the power of the flame. No coal for warming oneself is this, no fire to sit before!

Hebrews 6:18

Through two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible that God would prove false, we who have taken refuge might be strongly encouraged to seize the hope set before us.

Words of Grace For Today

The cool of fall has arrived, so that sitting in front of a fire is not merely an evening pleasure for campers, but a necessity for keeping oneself warm.

The fire that God sends the condemned to is no such fire. It is like a raging wildfire that consumes everything in its path. Our human efforts to know the future, in order that we can have the advantage over others are legendary … and futile. Our efforts to destroy others in order to get ahead are also legendary. Destruction we succeed at quite well. Getting ahead is a real failure as well, not that we have not often thought we’ve won and made great headway forward. It is that we make headway toward the Devil and our own condemnation, not that we make headway toward God’s will and design for us, namely that we live sacrificial lives in order that others may live abundantly.

The challenges that the Devil places in our paths seem without end. They obscure our vision of God’s will, our ability to thrive as we give life to others, and our discerning the value of truth in the face of lies that seem to flourish better than Canadian thistle or leafy spurge.

Into a world filled with these challenges we awake each day. God knows this well, for God is with us, Jesus’ name is Emmanuel (God with us). God created us with a spirit to discern Good from Evil, and God knows we so often choose Evil, for others and for ourselves.

So God makes promises for us to know and trust. Land flowing with milk and honey. Descendents greater than the stars in the skies. A Saviour for all people of every age that we can live freed from our bondage to sin, so that we can imitate the Christ in our daily lives, forgiving others their sins.

God guarantees these promises by the greatest authority of all, God’s own.

In this we can live, trusting our very lives to God’s promises and God’s living Word.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 6

Sunday, September 6, 2020

Birch Bark

Bark attack.

Attacked by Humans.

Evil’s Bite is worse than it’s Bite.

Psalm 121:7

The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.

Revelation 2:8-9

[To the corrupt leaders:]I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.

Words of Grace For Today

Real people are vessels of real evil.

Of that there is no doubt.

People who are rich, are afflicted and actually poor in truth, poor in spirit, poor in life. They claim to be God’s people, and serve only Satan.

From these people, the Evil they work with lies (pretending to be good), and the Evil One they serve … from all these God promises to protect us, to protect our lives.

This protection is not that we are separated so far from Evil and people that work it that we never suffer Evil’s destruction. God’s promise is to always be with us, not to abandon us, and not to allow Evil to extract from us life itself.

Baptized we enter eternal life already during our time on earth.

Wonders of wonders, that nothing can take from us. We can surrender it, though God protects us from even that.

Wonders of wonders, we live, even in the face of corrupt, destructive, and unresting Evil worked against us.

There is much to celebrate each and every day.