Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 24

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Light

The Light that Guides Us on Our Way

The Light that Gives Life!

To All.

Psalm 98:3

He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

Mark 4:21

He said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand?

Words of Grace For Today

God’s victory!

The imagination runs wild, how the celebration would fill the universe, and our lives from bottom to top.

God’s victory … doesn’t look quite like we imagine. It’s the look of a double victory: first that justice is done, and truth wins out! Our enemies no longer can do us harm.

The second part of the double victory is that our enemies are forgiven, redeemed, and set free to reflect God’s Grace to all people.

This is the Light of Christ.

We do not put a lamp under a bushel, especially not in the dark evenings and mornings of winter as we approach Advent.

Neither is God going to put the Light of Christ, nor the fragile vessels that reflect it to the world, under a bushel, especially not in the dark days of … winter, or politicians who want to Gaslight the whole world by not acting responsibly in the face of Covid 19, or people drowning in other’s lies.

Christ’s Light is good, always, but especially in the dark days like today.

Pray.

Pray that God’s double victory comes soon to our enemies, for the light of life is almost extinguished in the dark of winter.

Pray.

Pray that God places the Light of Christ high over us, that all may see God’s justice, truth, and unconditional love.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 22

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Given this Beauty,

To Make Our Own God Above All Others

OR

To Accept the Mystery of God’s Work In All People, In All Religions,

Including that People Worship Differently, Apparently Different Gods,

For which do you think God created the universe?

Isaiah 43:11

I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no saviour.

Ephesians 4:5-6

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Words of Grace For Today

Who are we, if we are true to the confession of our faith, to be the ones to denigrate God’s work in other people, even when that work shows itself as faith different from ours.

Who are we to determine who God is?

We are totally incapable of such a determination!

Wars based on differences of religion are foolish. In truth they are always about other things, using religion as a motivator to bring people to fight and justify their evil actions as right.

The same is true for countless conflicts between peoples, down to battles between spouses and between siblings.

God is God.

We hold that we are saved from our sins by Grace alone, clearly shown to us through the life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

Our faith, faithfully lived, provides for a wonderful life, for us and for all who embrace this faith. Many who say they embrace this faith, actually misuse it, instead of living it faithfully. They misuse it for their own means to cruel ends. Such is the history of humans since they imagined that God existed.

Our faith provides that God also forgives those who misuse faith. Our faith provides us the courage to confess we all misuse faith. Such is the history of humans since we imagined that God existed.

Our Lord, One Lord, Three-In-One, provides for life abundant … not in material excesses, but in blessings in all circumstances. So we hold on faithfully to the gifts of the One Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and the one hope of our calling: one God, who is above all and through all and in all.

That makes for a marvellous life.

Our faith gives us the strength and resilience to face whatever evil comes our way, whatever challenges come our way, whatever abuse of faith is exercised around us or through us.

Covid 19 is only one of many challenges we face, always God walking with us.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 21

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Given this Beauty,

To Make Our Way with Hate and Vengeance and Injustice

OR

To Abide in God’s Blessings and Love, Shared With All People,

For which do you think God created the universe?

Psalm 63:4

So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

1 John 4:16

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

Words of Grace For Today

There is a lot of excrement that people produce from their hearts, minds and strength, which has nothing to do with the digestive system.

Trying to make one’s way through it each day is a huge challenge.

We can see that challenge as the evil created by others, which impedes our progress in life, so that we respond with hate and vengeance and injustice in our futile efforts to make right what is wrong.

Or we can see the challenge as a dance, in which God enables us to participate, with the goal not to put it all right. Rather we participate in the dance of life each day in such a way as to reflect God’s love for those excrement makers, God’s unconditional love for them … and for us.

We know that dancing, especially into old age (80’s and 90’s), provides tremendous benefits to one’s body and one’s mind … and to the love one has for one’s gracious partner, who can move in response to the music, the words if there are any, and to the ‘traffic conditions’ on the dance floor.

Viewing life as a dance around the Devil’s Work, the excrement abundant, brings great benefit to one’s heart, mind, and strength. Thus we are able to bless God, God’s people, and all creation, and to lift up one’s hands in thanks, joy, and hope as we call on God’s name, in whom we abide, and who abides always in us.

We are not ever alone.

No matter the lies told about us. No matter the false convictions against us. No matter the Gaslighting directed against us. No matter the Devil’s attacks on us in all guises.

No matter the isolation and distance required by sensible Covid 19 restrictions, we are not ever alone.

God walks with us each hour of every day.

Fearing and loving God, how then would we choose to live: filled with hate,

OR

filled with love?

How do you choose again this day?

If you choose to fear and love God, then reach out to others, and share God’s love, unconditionally.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 20

Friday, November 20, 2020

Given this Beauty,

To Claim to be Self-made

OR

to Worship God as the Giver of Everything,

For which do you think God created the universe?

Daniel 2:21

He changes times and seasons, deposes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.

Revelation 15:3-4

They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: ‘Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, King of the nations! Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your judgments have been revealed.’

Words of Grace For Today

While it is so easy to proceed through life under the illusion that one has made one’s own success, or to accept that one should have and failed by not making one’s own success; this is the curse of persistent evil from generation to generation. We learn that one must work hard. The modern myth is that everyone is equal and has equal opportunity; thus those that are wealthy, powerful, and famous have done something to make it so for themselves. And everyone else has failed to live life the way it should be lived.

God gives us all sorts of signs, messages, and roadblocks in life to help us see that God alone determines who the powerful are, and which powerful people fall. God alone gives knowledge and wisdom to whom he chooses – though it is not the self-help book kind of pull yourself up and make something of yourself. God alone changes times and seasons

(though one has to wonder if Daylight Savings Time is not the work of the devil to disrupt our lives on such a fundamental basis – all so that the wealthy can become wealthier, at the expense of the safety and sanity of the populous.)

God alone is pure holy. God alone judges the nations. God alone is just and true, always.

Wealth, power, and fame may seem to be attractive, something to strive for, something to covet. Who would not wish that life be at least a bit, if not considerably more comfortable, secure, controlled, and longer. This is not, though, what God created us for.

God created us to worship and praise God, in all we say, do and hope for. God makes it possible for us wretched sinners to do this, by Grace alone, through Jesus’ sacrifice to redeem us and free us from our sins.

So what will you do this day?

Will you strive to make your own way in life? And take the credit for your success … or for your failure to become wealthy, powerful, and/or famous?

Or will you give God thanks and praise for all the life, the gifts, and the wisdom that God pours out on you each day?

The sinner in us will certainly strive to make itself.

The child of God, saint by God’s Grace, will recognize the giver of everything

with a grateful heart

and with a voice, with hands, and with feet that reflect Christ’ Grace to everyone.

We are simultaneous saint and sinner, all the time, everyone of us. We can but beg for God’s mercy, grace and love.

What a beautiful life!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 18

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Given this Beauty,

To be Ruled by God or by Humans,

For which do you think God created the universe?

For which do you think God created our hearts?

Isaiah 26:13

O Lord our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but we acknowledge your name alone.

Acts 5:29

Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority.’

Words of Grace For Today

Human history is filled with cruel rulers, greedy despots, and evil dictators.

Trump is only one of many alive and ‘ruling’ today.

How is it that so close to half of the 140 million people who voted in the States, voted for Trump?

What comes out of his mouth has been and is still hardly anything that is true, yet millions of people accept it as true.

If you doubt that they actually think it’s true, one only needs to hear about people in the Trump supporters’ Dakotas dying in the ICU from Covid 19, who refuse to accept that the pandemic is real. Instead they insist it is just a hoax. They refuse to acknowledge they are dying. They refuse to speak with their families. And they die, alone, still believing Trump’s lies.

How can this be?

We know that cognitive reality therapy works, works well, works fast. That is, if a person wants to believe (based on what they have already accepted as true), constant repetition of an alternate set of ‘reality statements’ will bring that person to accept that alternate reality as true.

Media that spew propaganda, and advertising focused at individuals is a danger to the continuation of civilization; they attack people’s understanding of the ‘social contract’ that holds barbarism at bay.

Trump is right that there is a lot of ‘false news’ out there. It’s the news that reports what he says, as if it were true. Ever since networks and news stations were no longer required to present both (really all) sides to a story, stations have been bought up in huge conglomerates to present an alternate reality to millions upon millions of people, over and over and over and over again.

People buy into the thin wedge of Querdenken, an apt German word for it. It means crooked-thinking, or cross-thinking, or contrarian-thinking (contrary to reality.) Those who buy into the less extreme ‘alternate reality’ easily buy into the next potion, and the next, and on and on, until what they perceive as real is so far from real it is scary. Thus they vote for Trump, deny Covid 19, and ‘drink the bleach Kool-aide.’

Words matter. It matters what people hear, read, say, and write. Words shape our perception of reality. That is why leaders target truth. Truth is the first victim of war, and of any evil ruler. That is why evil rulers try to control media, arrest dissidents, and exterminate anyone who questions their authority and means of maintaining power.

In countries that supposedly allows free speech, the dangers are very real. Truth is constantly under attack. Chaos is created to cover the huge lies and evil that is allowed to flow under the guise of ‘free’ speech.

One needs to be vigilant, so as not to accept false words and eventually make them into one’s own pseudo-reality. The Kool-aide is sweetened so that at first sip, it seems delightful. Evil always is so.

One needs to hear God’s Word, often, clearly, well stated, graciously presented. Repeating a sermon from decades or centuries ago may be instructive. It cannot replace a sermon written for now, in this place and time. God’s Word proclaimed needs to be written so that the current names of challenges to truth and all other evil as well are provided, and God’s Gracious response to evil is also stated in our terms.

Who will we serve today: human authorities, or God? Simple question; from our answers flow radical consequences for everything we do each day: who we listen to, what we hear, how we hear it.

We cannot hide in a bubble of holy talk. We need to hear the Querdenkers out there as well, so that we understand what God’s Grace needs to respond to. That is we need to know to what we need to respond with Grace.

Human history is filled with cruel rulers, greedy despots, and evil dictators.

Before and above all of them is our God, who did, does and will always create, redeem and renew all of Creation.

So what are you up to today:

drinking human authorities’ Kool-aide

or being God’s Grace for all people?

Facing Covid 19: Words of Grace – November 15

Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Wide View

of God’s Good Creation!

Gifts Fill Us All!

Micah 6:8

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

2 Timothy 2:22

Shun youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Words of Grace For Today

God created us good.

Youthful passions and all. The question is not if we have ‘youthful passions’ at any age (in old age, what an extraordinary gift to receive!) it is what we do with them (no matter our age), and with all the other gifts God gives us. In baptism we name the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to us: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in your presence, both now and forever.

At the affirmation of baptism service we commit ourselves to living out these gifts, by promising:
to live among God’s faithful people,
to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper,
to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,
to serve all people, following the example of Jesus,
and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.

So what are we to do with these gifts that bring us to these commitments?

We are, simply, to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.

That precludes gaslighting others, bearing false witness, seeking (directly or indirectly) others’ death.

That precludes responding to misogyny with misandry.

That precludes accusing others of what you yourself has done.

That precludes [fill in a whole host of sins against God, God’s people, and God’s creation.]

I tell children I meet about town, in parting, with their parent(s) overhearing, ‘give your parents a little bit of trouble everyday. Most of us …’

Invariably the parent interjects here that they have no problem with that.

Then I continue, ‘most of us do not have any problem with the trouble part; it’s the little part that is a challenge!’

When we are humble, we recognize that we give God, God’s people, and God’s creation an overabundance of trouble everyday!

Loving kindness, we can laugh at ourselves, which immediately lessons much of the ‘trouble’ we give others and God.

Working for peace and justice for all people and all creation, we focus our energy on making good trouble the kind of trouble we mostly make.

Good Trouble is the kind that exposes injustice and evil, and offers in it’s place true peace.

Good Trouble is the kind that exposes the lies of people who, like Trump try to create reality out of fantasies that serve their selfish passions.

Good Trouble is the kind that takes an awful lot of ‘youthful passion’ for us to pull off.

Thank God for ‘youthful passions’ and the wisdom to know what to do with them!

Facing Covid 19: Words of Grace – November 14

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Little like a Leaf,

Grand like Light,

In a Minute, Forever!

Psalm 92:6

The dullard cannot know, the stupid cannot understand this.

1 Timothy 6:15-16

God will bring about the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ at the right time—God who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is God alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to God be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.

Words of Grace For Today

We see things, organize things, and know things in comparison.

We like to compare ourselves to others, especially if we can find a way to look better than the others.

So we can say the dullard and the stupid. They do not understand what we can understand.

So great it is to compare favourable.

Then we try to compare anything, including ourselves, to God.

There is no comparison.

God alone has immortality, God has eternal dominion.

In terms of time, we get to live about 60 to 100 years. As our quality of life increases, which we somehow claim is our own doing, we live longer. So our 60 years is ‘our great accomplishment’ because we live longer than many who expect only to live 30 or 40 years.

God lives beyond time. By comparison to our 60 to 100 years, God has more years than we can even imagine!

God, who dwells in unapproachable light, chooses to adopt us as children.

We inherit life abundant in our 30-100 years, and then we inherit eternal life after our deaths in this wonderfully created universe.

So much for comparisons.

When we move beyond needing to falsely bolster our own status, we can claim to be the dullards and the stupid … compared to God.

Thankfully God speaks to us in many and various ways, most clearly in the life of Jesus Christ, whose light we get to reflect.

What a life!

Facing Covid 19 and Arrogance: Daily Words of Grace – November 12

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Sometimes bending low, we see more of our path ahead

in the woods

and in life.

Psalm 79:13

Then we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you for ever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

Hebrews 13:15

Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.

Words of Grace For Today

Humble thanks and praise, these we have plenty cause to give to God. Not only for today, this day of -20⁰ and a bike ride home as it got colder and colder, for in the end all is well, all is well.

We have many things to give God thanks, in each generation, since the beginning of time, and for every future generation until there is no more time or a universe for us.

The thanks and praise we offer God is simple, and costly.

It is to give everything we are and have to respond to all other people as God has responded to us: with unconditional grace.

God has gathered us in, adopted us as children, and promised us life abundant. Life abundant is not one that overflows with comforts and luxuries, privileges and power, or ways and means. Life abundant is one that is lived fulfilling God’s purpose for us, which is to reflect God’s way with all people, to be Christ’s feet, hands, and voice for all people.

We confess our belief with words from our mouths, and it is affirmed by how we live. We do not live perfectly or better than others. We live for others.

It is like wearing a mask during this pandemic. One does it not for oneself, but for everyone else.

We do not live as God created us to be, so that we benefit, but that others benefit from God’s Grace.

That is simple and costly and priceless.

Like humbling oneself to give children affirming attention so that they understand they are valuable as people, we humble ourselves and give each person due attention and respect, so that all people understand that they are valuable as people, especially to God.

Trumpism, the manner of Gaslighting everyone to try to make some fiction become real, trying to get some advantage for oneself or ones own, has nothing to do with being in God’s flock. It is what destroys individuals, families, and countries. It is what threatens to sink the whole world into war.

From Nazis, to Stasi, to Trumpites, to those who bear false witness in courts, to those who defend their lies with more lies in daily life, and to lots and lots of others who work us woe: these are the way of the Devil.

When we humble ourselves and practice kindness, we start to see God’s way.

Kindness is at the root of due attention and respect; and clarity when one does something wrong.

Kindness, praise, and thanks: these fill our days with living beauty.

No pandemic, no -20⁰C weather, no gaslighting can change that.

God’s way is from generation to generation assured.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 9

Monday, November 9, 2020

See God Calls

Isaiah 65:1

I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am’, to a nation that did not call on my name.

Romans 3:28

For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.

Words of Grace For Today

Not only do we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law, but we believe that even that faith is not an act of a person, nor can it be. Faith is a gift created for us and given to us by God, and God alone. We do, say, think or believe nothing that contributes to this gift nor earns it in anyway.

We hold that we are justified only by Grace, which is God’s gift freely given to us.

How many times have we striven to reach God, with no success.

Our only hope is that God is ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek. Indeed God walks with us always, saying ‘Here I am, here I am’ to us even when we do not call out God’s name.

This is the mystery of life: that God gives everything even when we deserve nothing. God promises to give us life abundant, even when we expect and experience everything but life abundant. God’s promises are sure, most often hidden in plain site.

God calls out, from the beauty of nature, through the unconditional love of God’s children, with the voices of those most in need of the basics of life.

Time to trust those promises and answer God’s call to enact God’s will with all our hearts, mind and strength.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 8

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Light

Light in the Trees

Blessings among People Sorely Tempted

If One Knows How to See

Both are Easy Enough to See.

Genesis 39:9

Joseph said to Potiphar’s wife, who wanted to seduce him: Potiphar is not greater in this house than I am, nor has he kept back anything from me except yourself, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?

2 Timothy 2:1

You then, my child, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

Words of Grace For Today

Potiphar’s wife covets Joseph, and badgers him to sleep with her. He refuses. This is the right thing for Joseph to do, out of respect for all Potiphar has done for him, buying him as a slave and elevating him to be overseer and in charge of everything Potiphar has.

Potiphar’s wife eventually tries to force Joseph, grabs his robe, and he runs away leaving his robe behind, which she uses to accuse him of trying to rape her.

False allegations by women have cost men their lives since the beginning of time. It is still the case today. My financial and reputation lays in ruin because a woman lied, and then more women lied, and then those with authority lied, a lay pastor, lawyers, prosecutors, and judges.

It’s a common corruption that eats at the social contract that keeps barbarism at bay. It is the tip of the spear of barbarism that tears civilization to shreds.

It is a good example that Joseph sets for us, to resist overtures for evil’s pleasure. Temptations are everywhere. Resisting does not guarantee you will have a good life, only that you will lived blessed with the free conscience. Setting good examples and doing the right things can get you buried in jail and left there to rot like Joseph, and or driven into ruin like me (as millions before me and millions after). Right is still right. Lies are still wrong.

There are many things that tempt us, evil pleasures are but one.

We are not to give in to evil temptations,knowing that Jesus brings God’s grace to bear on all our sins, as if our gleefully sinning gave witness to God’s grace.

We are to live, unafraid of our sins, for God’s grace does save us continually.

We can, and we can expect others, to live righteously. And when we fail, we can and can expect others to forgive, trusting God has already forgiven … us and others.

Evil will persist, false allegations and convictions will continue, civilization will crumble into barbarism. Only God’s Grace saves us.

Pray it comes to bear before it is too late for those who bear false witness, and bring the curse of evil persistent in their lives.

Pray God’s Grace comes to bear before it is too late for each of us.

Evil is powerful, temptation is overwhelming, and we cannot resist, doch our strength is not our own, it is God’s who walks with us always. As the air that is blown in the wind, God is always with us blessing us. And God is always with those who choose to destroy us with lies and injustice, revealing their sins against the backdrop of Christ’s Grace.

There is nothing boring about this life that God brings us to live, unless we are like Potiphar’s wife, always adding more evil to our accumulated sins, so much that nothing is enough for us. Life remains boring for we try to be our own purpose; God has more than enough purpose for us.

Is your life boring or is it full of God’s blessings? Choose whom you serve and it has consequences … hardly those you expect or we expect. God’s forgiveness keeps reshaping the world we try to make sense of … into something new, re-newed, re-created. A miracle.

It is a miracle that we can be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.