Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 13

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Sacrificing a Tree

a dead tree for firewood is one thing,

stripping the bark to kill a living tree for no good purpose is evil.

Isaiah 53:5

But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.

John 11:51-52

He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God.

Words of Grace For Today

We humans understand how innocent people or animals are sacrificed to ‘pay a debt’ and free us. There are two kinds of sacrifice, one destructive evil, one gracious goodness.

Rene Girard developed a few ideas that many have applied and adapted. At the core is his mimetic theory that we ‘remember’ we desire something by seeing others having it, which causes senseless competition between even friends. Competition leads to conflict and conflict cannot be between friends, so the friends use a scapegoat (an innocent, vulnerable bystander) on whom they pile fictitious blame. This cathartic release of blame onto a third party relieves the conflict between the two friends and they continue on, the desire that caused the conflict resolves into the senselessness it was at the beginning. The friendship is saved, the friends continue on.

The vulnerable, innocent scapegoat is destroyed.

This is the destructive evil sacrifice.

Girard interprets the story of Jesus’ sacrifice for us as God’s clear statement that scapegoating innocent, vulnerable people is not acceptable or needed, just as God’s clear statement by calling Abraham to the mountain to sacrifice his only son Isaac, and then stopping Abraham, was that God did not want any child sacrificed to himself.

God clearly does not want destructive evil sacrifice by any humans.

God does send his son, Jesus, to live, preach, teach, heal and sacrifice himself to the corrupt power of his time, the Roman empire and the Chief Priest. This is the sacrifice of gracious goodness. It is chosen by the one surrendering to sacrifice. The sacrifice does not destroy innocent and vulnerable people. Exactly the opposite, it gives life to all.

Jesus calls us to wisely sacrifice, sometimes little, sometimes everything, in order that other people will be able to live. We do not send someone else to be the sacrifice. We go ourselves, knowing that all we are and have is a gift from God, and if God can use us to give life, then as followers of Jesus we can give of ourselves, and even give everything of ourselves, in order that others may live, and live in the abundance of Grace, Love and Hope that God created us all to enjoy.

So much in life tries to get us to strive to achieve and receive at others’ cost (the destructive evil sacrifice). This is not the way of life for the followers of Jesus, and for all the children of God.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 12

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Anyone There?

Reeds, Weeds, Bushes and Trees

Does anyone hear?

1 Kings 8:52

Let your eyes be open to the plea of your servant, and to the plea of your people Israel, listening to them whenever they call to you.

John 14:14

If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

Words of Grace For Today

Praying to be heard, and a promise to be heard carte blanch.

Being Gaslit taught me much, much that I would hope no one else would have to learn: what it is like to have one’s children and one’s beloved turn on you, telling lies that are beyond abominations; what it is like to be condemned in the church, community and courts for things you’ve never done; what it is like to be silenced so that no one will listen to you, no matter what you do there is no one, and talking to one’s self goes nowhere. It is to be ghosted by everyone.

And then I was made to sit and listen to the unending lies about me with no way to interrupt and prove they were lies. And when I was given opportunity to speak I was bullied, harangued and Gaslit even more.

So much to say. So many lies told that others use to define me.

My prayer was desperate: to be heard. God listen as you know the truth. Let me speak and make these people listen. Give me your ear, Your heart, and at least a sliver of hope that this nightmare, this twilight zone will end.

But it never ends.

At least now I can speak, though no one listens. People still ghost me. I know the lies do not define me. The lies define those who told them, and those who, knowing truth still used the lies as if they were true, and those who do not stop to think that the lies are not truth.

How terrible it is to be defined by the lies one has told, lies that destroyed other people, and hurt oneself as well. How ghastly it must be to be such a person, where no direction is down or up, or right or wrong. Everything is winning and surviving and having more money … no matter who you destroy in the process.

When I speak the truth, people run and then ghost me.

God when will it end!!

Then Jesus’ words give this hope: If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

God, I ask, as all people have since the beginning of time, hear me and give me meaning and love and hope …

hope that truth will prevail,

hope that the children will be safe from abuse and gaslighting and from being brought to sacrifice truth for money, and life for money, and love for money.

hope that God will hear what is in our hearts

and give us what God knows we need.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 11

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Dance Holy Fire, Sing Holy Fire

Sing Praise

to the One who rides upon the Clouds

Who is the Light in the Clouds

Who is the Light of the World.

Psalm 68:4

Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds— his name is the Lord— be exultant before him.

Philippians 4:4

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.

Words of Grace For Today

Our human survival instincts keep us much more alert for trouble, mindful of the troubles of the past, than basking in the good things of life.

It would have done our for-bearers little good (and we might not be here) to sit around the campfire regaling their escape from the mountain lion (who hunts humans for sport) earlier that day, letting the mountain lion pick them off in their relaxed stupor. Better to notice their success with a slight sigh of relief and continue building their defences, keeping a very alert watch for the silent hunter.

So also today we need to keep sharp, guarding ourselves against dangers of this life, much less from four legged animals, and much more from the Evil One working through two legged animals (ourselves included.)

Yet that war is already won, and the battles we are left to fight may even destroy us, but they cannot determine the outcome of the war: Jesus conquered death and all evil with his sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection to life.

While yet alert for danger, we also need to not turn everything into danger. We do need to celebrate all that God has done for us, meeting our daily needs for survival in this abundant life God provides for us. Celebrating God’s work for us, God’s protection, reminds us we cannot survive on our own, that the Evil One can snatch us away if we try to survive on our own.

Songs since the beginning of time have carried profound meaning, combining the rhythms of life, the melody of the spheres, and the words of God-given visions. Not all songs do this. Many cheapen the possibility reducing life to a crude and corrupt perversion of life as God gives it to us. Perhaps the worst version of those crude songs are ones that mention God’s name and carry little of God’s real blessing.

There are plenty of good and profound songs, the songs that carry God’s love and purpose for us give life. These we can sing to express our joy each day for all God has done for us. Some of these songs are simple chants, mantras really, like Dona nobis pacem. Others are complicated working through the darkness of life to a purpose of health and resilience, like Cohen’s Anthem. Some even bring hope and thanks to our hearts in spite of the composer’s intent, like Tikaram’s Cathedral Song. Many have no words, like Anthony’s Song of Hope.

There is no shortage of songs already composed and many more will be composed. They provide us a full song book from which we can sing God’s praise, rejoicing each day for all that was, all that is and all that will be – only by God’s Grace.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 10

Monday, August 10, 2020


Holy Spirit

Holy Fire

Holy Wild Ride

Through Light and Life

Judges 8:23

Gideon said to them, ‘I will not rule over you, and my son will not rule over you; the Lord will rule over you.’

2 Corinthians 10:18

For it is not those who commend themselves that are approved, but those whom the Lord commends.

Words of Grace For Today

Many strive to achieve for themselves great position of authority and power. For example one needs only look at all the bishops our church has had who seriously wanted to become bishops. They were disastrous for the church, each in their own special corrupt way.

The best bishops were those who did not want the work, nor the honour, nor the heartache of presiding over a church in decline.

The church remains in decline.

What does that say to us other than God has plans that are not those of the church which wants to grow … according to our measure of growth.

There is no shortage of people trying way too hard to make their plans into God’s plans for the church. All are dangerous and destructive.

What we need is leaders like Gideon, who though offered control and rule, chose instead that the people would be ruled by God.

To be ruled by God is something, not anything like being ruled by a code of what someone has determined is ‘for sure’ God’s will (though it looks like a terrible subset of faith, reduced so that that it is worthless.)

To be ruled by God is something, not anything like being ruled by a person who supposedly can speak God’s will. We’ve had no end of despots, also in the church.

To be ruled by God is something that will lead us in places we cannot anticipate, into adventures we cannot imagine, and to share life with people we had never known before as God’s people. It’s a wild ride.

Hang on tight

to the Holy Spirit’s fire and breath.

That’s all God gives us most of the time, everything else we see as solid is an illusion we create for our own sense of (false) security.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 9

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Oscar Romero

Abundant Life

Not at all the world’s measure.

Psalm 105:40-42

They asked, and he brought quails, and gave them food from heaven in abundance. He opened the rock, and water gushed out; it flowed through the desert like a river. For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant.

Ephesians 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,

Words of Grace For Today

Blessings and gifts that give life.

The basic necessities of life: air, water, food, clothing, shelter, meaningful labour, and love. God provides all of these, like manna on the wilderness ground in the morning, quail in the camp at night, water gushing from the rock, forgiveness promised even before we know we need it, and breath … breath to take when we need



to remember as well Abraham, Sarah, Naiomi, Leah, Rachael, Isaac, Esau, and Joseph, Paul, Peter, Augustine, Bonhoeffer, Niemöller, Romero, among so many

who have modelled life abundant in faith.

It was hot this day as I write this. Nearly the hottest of the summer so far. 35⁰C when 25⁰C is already hotter than normal.

Still in the midst of all kinds of heat, God’s promise is true: God blesses us with all the we need in Christ Jesus.

As the cool of evening settles, the fresh air promises a good night, and a refreshing rain tomorrow.

Water abundant for living.

Thanks be to God.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 8

Saturday, August 8, 2020

A Rose

A Rose

also has thorns,

Only Grace can save us from the Evil One

Psalm 25:15

My eyes are ever towards the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

2 Thessalonians 3:1-3

Finally, brothers and sisters, pray for us, so that the word of the Lord may spread rapidly and be glorified everywhere, just as it is among you, and that we may be rescued from wicked and evil people; for not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.

Words of Grace For Today

Yes, how true it always is that not all people have faith. There are evil people.

Some are grand, like despots who use the cover of Covid 19 to take life and freedom and power from their enemies. Others appear in every way to be ordinary people, but they work only to get ahead for themselves and have no sense that this is a shared experience.

Some are just stupidly ignorant and therein destructive. It reminds me of the store clerk who does nothing sufficient to protect people who come in to the store, a drug store and post office. Lots of sick people come in and out. Lots of healthy people come to check their mail. Yet there is no attention to cleansing, protecting customers, or actual providing for physical distancing, other than dots of the floor, which people ignore. Instead she mocks me, calls attention to me that I bring a bottle of diluted bleach to cleanse my way in and out of many places where protection is insufficient.

This last time, having not seen me come in she yelled at me while 25 feet away that I better not ‘bleach’ her door, loudly so many other customers heard it as well, and then she saw I had no bleach bottle (I’d biked to town and not packed it along with everything else), exclaimed how good it was I had no bleach bottle. Actually it was much more dangerous for me that I did not have it. Makes one want to carry a water bottle that squirts 6 feet, to spray her as she always steps much closer than six feet. Of course not with bleach, but with plain water, to shock her to her senses. Probably would not work, for lack of sense.

But we do not need to save ourselves from any evil. God has already done all that.

We can stay focused on sharing the good news that God has already provided us protection from dangerous, evil people. The protection is not that others will not exercise evil against us or that they cannot do much to destroy us. God’s promised protection is that nothing will separate us from the love of God.

Therefore we are free. Free always to be gracious, and to work to help others engage in justice based on truth, righteousness based on God’s grace, and commitment based on sharing everything God has given us.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 7

Friday, August 7, 2020

Cold, Dark, Lost

No Matter How Dark the Road

God comes to rescue us


Zechariah 1:17

Proclaim further: Thus says the Lord of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity; the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.

2 Corinthians 1:10

He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again.

Words of Grace For Today

We all would like to know that we have dealt with a challenge in our lives, settled it, and made it possible to move on … to move on to better things.

It would be good to know that the bear that came snooping around last spring, at whom I yelled at the top of my lungs and who ran off, would not be a problem. It would be good to know that the bear who ran from a woman out on a walk, not once but twice, as she yelled at it, would no longer be a problem. It would be good to know that the bear who came snooping around the tent the other night, not just once but twice, is now gone and will not be a problem again. But it’s the same bear, and it will be back. Someone has left food out and it has learned that people mean food. It will be back, and again until someone is hurt badly or killed and the bear is moved away, or it is killed. Humans and bears don’t mix well, but humans make good bear meals, and bear meat makes good supper. And there will be other bears and other stupid humans to teach them that humans mean food.

Weeds grow madly with rain and sunny heat. All efforts at picking them, cutting them, digging them up, or tilling the ground to be rid of them at best produces short terms results. Weeds are plants that have developed better survival methods than other plants. Weeds will come back … again and again even if you salt the earth, some weeds will return.

So it is with destructive habits of each and every one of us humans. Our destructive habits become habits because we learn they provide us a short-term benefit (the cost to others we learn to ignore) and we learn to ignore the long-term cost to us and others, until the long-term cost starts to disrupt our ability to carry on with our destructive habits.

It is good to know and trust that God will save us from ourselves, and from each other.

He who rescued us from so deadly a peril will continue to rescue us; on him we have set our hope that he will rescue us again.

When we live, enabled by the Holy Spirit to trust God’s deliverance, to trust that God will provide more than we need, to trust that God’s favour rests on us, then we may be able to break some of our destructive habits.

We will never be able to be rid of all our destructive habits (our sins), and God will again and again come to rescue us from ourselves and from each other.

Thanks be to God that others’ lies about us do not define reality; God’s Grace does.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 6

Thursday, August 6, 2020

Everyday Corners

The corner?

What’s there, around the corner?

Life, with all it’s challenges and opportunities!

Psalm 103:10

He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.

Acts 15:11

On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.’

Words of Grace For Today

If we are honest with ourselves and each other, we know our participation in original sin.

It is the opposite of what we wish well for ourselves and others, that we would consider the goodness of life, and what we understand God intends for us.

We know that we deserve all judgments of God made against us, and all punishments and consequences we may encounter.

So it is of the greatest consequence that we know God promises to deal with us NOT according to what we deserve, not according to our iniquities. How wonderful it is that we understand, on the contrary, that we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as all people will be saved by grace.

Now that our salvation is secured, what can we do about all those iniquities that keep piling up? Can we stop increasing them? Unfortunately not, but we ought try with grace and gratitude with all our mind, body and strength.

We can offer grace to all other living people. We can breathe and love and hope.

Life is messy, and we can live with confidence and courage in the face of all kinds of evil knowing God has already dealt with it all. So onward, with what this day has to offer; countering all evil and sin as we can, and bringing God’s grace to bear on all that we can.


Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 5

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Crooked Tree!

Even crooked trees have a place in God’s Kingdom.

2 Chronicles 30:18-19

For a multitude of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, ‘The good Lord pardon all who set their hearts to seek God, the Lord the God of their ancestors, even though not in accordance with the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.’

Luke 19:2-3

A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax-collector and was rich. He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature.

Words of Grace For Today

There is ample Grace in God’s history dealing with us people, so that we may have no doubts that God may choose to be gracious with people whom we may think would not be God’s favoured people.

We codify faith, and move it from being living faith to dead faith, and then judge others as being unacceptable (ourselves included) because they/us do not practice the demands of the codes we have made.

Living faith lives with codes as important, instructive, but not indelibly correct or wise. Living faith is above all else, unconditionally loving of all people, as God is for us … all of us wretched sinners.

We do not defy the codes of faith practices adopted by our faith communities. We practice codes to express our thanks to God for all God gives us. But we do not demand of others that they practice any specific code. We allow God’s Grace to guide our response to their keeping or not keeping the codes of our faith community.

Jesus welcomed Zacchaeus, and invited himself to join Zacchaeus at his home, even though the crowd knew Zacchaeus as a terrible cheat and tax collector who exploited them to make himself rich.

Jesus always sees something good … in each and every one of us.

It is the least we can do for each other.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 4

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Standing on level ground

as God’s mysteries pour in

Psalm 26:12

My foot stands on level ground; in the great congregation I will bless the Lord.

1 Corinthians 14:26

What should be done then, my friends? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.

Words of Grace For Today

Standing on level ground: building up the gathering of followers.

Out hiking in the mountains, more so as the years accumulate on one’s frame, one needs to take breaks from the steady walking forward, upward in order to catch one’s breath, to regroup one’s commitment and to let one’s body catch up on the energy output so slight for each step, yet so great for hours and hours of steps forward and upward.

A cool drink of water, or juice, and a handful of trailmix or cheese or pemmican helps the body and the spirit rejuvenate.

While one rests it is the first obvious thing, one seeks out a level spot, perhaps with a log or rock on which one may sit to rest. Experience will teach one that sitting is best kept brief, and that standing or walking easily about, catching any great view available, is the best way to rejuvenate one’s spirit for the arduous labour of one step times thousands per hour.

So also it is best to find one’s place in the congregation standing on level ground, orienting oneself to the view, toward God in our midst, and toward the people gathered, and toward all the people who are not present but are out there. So oriented one can assess the circumstances and discern God’s work, and with all that one brings to the congregation one can ensure it will build up the congregation, each person and all of us together.

What does not build up has no place in the congregation.

Paul had an earful of what the people in the congregation at Corinth were capable of, which did not build up, but rather divided the congregation.

Paul did not give up on the congregation, nor anyone person in it. He writes with clarity about the divisions and actions of the congregation that tear the congregation apart, that tear it down. And he points to ways the congregation can work to build each other up, to provide for each person, and not to continue hubris practices that divide and destroy the congregation.

For generations now those words, and unfortunately those circumstances, resonate as people stand against each other, against faith with integrity, and for their own limited vision of what the church is. We still pray: God save us from division. God grant us unity.

and then we whisper: my kind of unity, thank you God.

We really need to take a break, on level ground, give God thanks, and celebrate what the Holy Spirit has made of each person.

Together we can pray: God save us from temptation and deliver us from Evil.