The Gift of Breath and Body

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Wonders of Creation

Wonders of Human Life

Wonders Created by God

as Gift for All!

Genesis 2:7

Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.

3 John 1:2

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.

Words of Grace For Today

Whether we speak of ourselves made up of body and soul, or we see ourselves as one unified whole of various characteristics interconnected and interdependent, we know …

that historically people have spoken of humans as made up of bodies (flesh, blood, muscles, bones, organs) and souls (spirit, Geist, reason and emotion, sentience) … and …

that historically people have spoken of humans one interconnected, interdependent whole, connected not only to ourselves, but to all other humans and creatures and all of creation, not only in this time, but throughout all time.

In the creation story from Genesis 2 God animates the dust that forms a human with God’s breath (Spirit!) so that the dust lives.

We ought remain humble; we are but dust. We can be so wrongly arrogant; we are God’s Spirit. We ought be so humble; all that we are dust and Spirit are gifts from God, and we exist only because of God, continue only according to God’s Grace, and are promised eternal life only because God so chooses to love us. We can do nothing to earn any of this.

We are not little gods because God breathes Spirit into us. We are mere creatures capable of bearing God’s Spirit to others, capable of bearing God’s Spirit to all creation – not that we do, more often than not we choose to turn against God, God’s creatures and creation, playing as if we were little gods.

It is known that when our spirits, our souls, are in good health, the health of our bodies improves, we recover from illness quicker. When we connect with nature we reduce our stress and our physical and mental health improves. We, body and soul, are connected to God’s creation, interacting at least, though God teaches us we are interconnected.

In the face of Covid 19, and all the challenges to our physical health, even age itself, we pray for ourselves and all people, that as God heals our souls, God may heal our bodies as well. We pray that we may recognize that not only are we in this pandemic together and so dependent on others to observe restrictions to stem the transmission of Covid 19, we are guests on this earth and so dependent on each other to treat all humans as the precious gifts they are and all of creation as the wondrous gift it is, for us all.

Fear: Freeze-Fight-Flight … or … Reassurance by God’s Grace?

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The Dark Against the Light

By Grace we can trust that there is Light

That overcomes the greatest Darkness

Even Covid 19

2 Samuel 22:37

You have made me stride freely, and my feet do not slip.

2 Corinthians 3:17

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

Words of Grace For Today

Faced with the impossible challenge of facing war against Hitler, Churchill famously said: We have nothing to fear other than fear itself.

Taking office in 1933 FDR faced the great depression and famously said: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

This phrase as best researched seems to have originated with Montaigne in the sixteenth century, was probably picked up from Montaigne by Francis Bacon in the seventeenth, and then became a common proverb or axiom in later writers.

Over and over again in scripture as angels, leaders of God’s people, and Jesus himself greet people in great distress they say Fear not! For the Lord is with you! Or words similar.

Fear overwhelms our normal ability to deal reasonably with dangerous or challenging situations. We know that fear triggers a response generated in the brain below the cerebral cortex, which controls language and reason. Of course if we really are under attack in an mminent life and death situation, sitting and contemplating what is happening could be the end of us, so quicker responses, choosing between freeze, fight, or flight, are made by a faster area of our brain closer to the rest of our body.

Most of life is not helped by these responses, and in fact as a whole society, when we reduce our choices to these we end up with mass panic, if not in outright rioting mobs, then in masses of people unable to function and contribute to a societal solution, instead getting in the way of a solution and multiplying the problems faced.

God provides us, in the Good News that Jesus has redeemed us with Grace, not according to our works, a way of living that assures us: no matter what we face, God is with us. That reassurance, renewed in us by God’s Word each day gives us freedom from fear and all it’s causes, which are more than enough in this world to sink any reasonable person.

We, by Grace, are able to stride freely into each day, assured that this is the day of our Lord, God’s time, God’s creation, and God’s Spirit that accompanies us … giving us choices to respond to all sorts of evil with the same Grace that God gives to us.

We offer to others, by our very presence, the same Grace God exercises in and for us.

Calm reassurance of God’s Love for all creation in the face of Evil is God’s way of defeating Evil at every turn.

What a life, an abundant life, we get to live. God gives this life to us as pure gift! And we get to multiply it by giving it as gift to others!

It’s simple math: miracles of Grace beget miracles by God’s infinite factor of Love.

We have nothing to fear, but fear (Evil’s greatest presence) itself, and God has defeated fear and all Evil’s ways, even death!

We have everything to celebrate!

Life of Spirit, OR …

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Sun Sets …

Is it the end!

Or is it a wondrous beginning?

Isaiah 61:1-2

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.

Matthew 5:4

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Words of Grace For Today

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me …

This is the best of all possibilities for us, that the Spirit of the Lord God be upon us.

This is not something for us, ourselves. This is for …

… the oppressed, the broken-hearted, the captives, the prisoners, and those who mourn.

Actually that is a partial list that stands in for those who need us, those who desperately need someone to give them aide, freedom, and/or hope. God sends us to bring God’s blessings to those whom God loves and wishes that, despite all that would rob life from them, they would have life and have it abundantly.

God sends us.

God sends us and blesses us to be able to comfort those who mourn, to proclaim good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners. That this is the day of the Lord.

Wonders and wonders.

The spirit of the Lord God is upon us … the Lord has anointed us

Nothing can be more marvellous for us.

The sun rises, the sun sets.

We can see creation falling apart all around us: the effects of sin and evil, corruption and deceit, and angst and despair.

OR

We can see the wonders of God acting all around us, bringing hope, comfort, liberty, release, and God’s time in all we encounter.

Which do you wish to live by?

Life Is Always God’s Miracle for Us

Monday, January 18, 2021

Creative We Can Be Manipulating Existence

Existence and Life We Cannot Create

Only God Creates Existence and Life

Nehemiah 9:6

And Ezra said: ‘You are the Lord, you alone; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. To all of them you give life, and the host of heaven worships you.’

Romans 11:36

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen.

Words of Grace For Today

There is much that we can create:

Paintings, sculptures, pottery, photography.

Dance, theatre, film.

Novels, short stories, poetry.

Our spirit flows from us as we create, and as others take in our creation they certainly can be inspired. The spirit flows.

As parents we are privileged and responsible and accountable for nurturing, guiding and inspiring our children to become healthy adults. Teachers, coaches, and pastors/rabbi/priests are privileged to assist and participate in nurturing children. Yet we do not inspire life into children, we merely help God’s given spirit grow.

We cannot, no matter how hard we try, inspire, on our own, our creations to breathe. God alone can bring what is not alive, to breathe and come to life, to dream and envision the possibilities of joy and hope.

God, on the other hand, creates in such great quantity and quality that we can only be awestruck. So much in the universe does not breathe, does not carry and share spirit. God also creates things that live, that breathe, that smile and dream.

God gives that to each of us!

We can only respond by being awestruck. We can only appropriately respond by worshipping God, our creator. All the goodness we enjoy comes from God. As we remember that we are God’s creatures owing God everything, life is as God created us to live it: life is life abundant.

As we share with others what God has given us, so that everyone enjoys life abundantly, we enjoy more and more what God intended for us to experience: grace and love.

Another great thing about creation is that that God’s creation is held together by grace and love.

That makes for a wonder filled day … each day!

Covid 19 Sucks the Life Out of Us – Joy not at all!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Even the trees do not stop the sun,

Neither the consequences of sin and evil

deprive us of God’s Blessings and Joy

Nehemiah 8:10

Then he said to them, ‘Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our Lord; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.’

2 Corinthians 6:4-10

As servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labours, sleepless nights, hunger;
by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; in honour and dishonour, in ill repute and good repute.
We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see—we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Words of Grace For Today

This day is holy to our Lord, as is each day, even the most challenging day.

God gives us strength in knowing joy.

We could understand this to be paltry foolishness, trying to make joy out of the most terrible things of life.

Reading Paul’s account gives us clearer insight and understanding. Paul suffered as much as anyone, pursued, persecuted, arrested and jailed. In the midst of all that Paul meets his great difficulties that put his life in jeopardy with nothing short of a wondrous string of God-given goodness.

We expect everything terrible to be the part and parcel of Paul’s life. Yet from all this Paul asserts he is much alive, rejoicing, rich and having all that he could expect from life.

There it is again and always: God’s blessings flow so that in spite of all our difficulties, Covid 19’s included … so that despite the most egregious difficulties we know a more fundamental, poignant joy. That is part of our our abundant life; that we know God-given joy, gratitude, and hope, no matter what.

Covid 19 has all sorts of effects on our bodies and minds, many that make sense if we stop and think about it, and many are profoundly disabling. Covid 19 does not stop God, even if it kills or maims us.

Goodness comes in many ways to us all, always as a gift from God.

Joy finds us, if we humbly get out of our own way and but notice all God’s blessings flowing over us.

Who Do We Follow? One who’s blind or God become human?

Friday, January 15, 2021

The Word

Is Everywhere

Even after the sun sets!

Genesis 3:6

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate.

Luke 6:39

He also told them a parable: ‘Can a blind person guide a blind person? Will not both fall into a pit?”

Words of Grace For Today

Who do we follow?

Can we follow others …

into the ways of the Devil?

on the way of Jesus?

So much is made, to great detriment, of ‘the woman’ seeing the forbidden tree was good for food, eating first, then offering her husband the same.

Truth is, as every honest person knows, men and women alike are as easily and as likely to see forbidden fruit as something they desire, must have, and for which they do great evil things to acquire.

Every day, each of us, needs a Word, whether from our memories or renewed, currently spoken to us, … a Word that creates faith in us such that we can resist temptation to pursue life for ourselves (to the great detriment of many others).

That Word does not come from anyone, anywhere, at any time, other than from God. And God’s Word must be spoken, written or communicated (through events, dance, music or something similar) by other humans. It is a paradox: only God’s Word can save us; only another human can provide that Word for us.

Thank God, God’s Kingdom is at hand, and God’s Word is given freely for anyone who is inspired by the Spirit to provide it to others.

In this time of pandemic, now in it’s tenth month of restrictions for us, we need this Word … to inspire us not to listen to the words of discouragement, of resignation, and especially of lies … as if ignoring the danger with reckless behaviour can save any of us.

Yet covidiots spring up everywhere, sometimes even in us.

The Word…

Only the Word that gives us breath and life, joy and meaning, love and hope can save us from the Devil’s temptations if not to participate in covidiot behaviours, then to ridicule and complain about those who do.

Thankfully we are not led by blind men or blind women. We are led by Jesus, who has vision to see God as we are unable.

We can approach each day with confidence that God feeds us all we require for abundant life … there is no need to go searching for fruit from the forbidden tree, or even the forbidden tree. Thankfully God provides those who can provide God’s Word to us, and even use us to provide God’s Word to others. Covid 19 has given us even greater opportunities to shared God’s Word.

Be of good courage. There’s much good to be done each day.

In Epiphany, What Do We Do?

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

The Light,

The Colour,

Or

The Cold, Snowy Woods?

Which do we see as we progress through life today?

Malachi 1:6

A son honours his father, and servants their master. If then I am a father, where is the honour due to me? And if I am a master, where is the respect due to me? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. You say, ‘How have we despised your name?’

Matthew 21:28-31

What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?’

Words of Grace For Today

Everyday there are so many things and people that demand our attention and demand our subservience. The governmental orders that restrict our freedoms in order to protect us all from the deadly and maiming Covid 19 are high on the list of those we are constantly aware of.

Where does God fit on our list? How would we know? How would others know? Does it really matter where or if God is on our list of those we give our attention to and whom we give subservience to?

Malachi thought it does, as did Abraham and Sarah, Moses and Miriam, all the prophets and prophetesses, the woman who provided for Jesus and his disciples, and surely Jesus does!

Matthew points out how we humans too often recognize that we must give attention and obedience to God, but we can’t really be bothered when the rubber hits the road; we’ve got other things that keep us busy.

Wayne said he would honour God. But then in his honourable profession the temptations of greed and avarice, the pressures to perform the impossible, and the corruption of absolute power overwhelmed him. He had promised to honour God, but he honoured no one but his own reputation. Sitting in a position of power he destroyed people, and dealt with honest honourable people as cruelly as he could. He identified their greatest vulnerabilities and exploited them until they had no resistance or hope left. He loved watching people crumble behind him as he moved on to the next victim.

God cried, for his son, Wayne, who had started life with such great brilliance and promise, such extraordinary gifts and opportunities, such hope and kindness, had given up on himself, on the goodness of life, and on God.

Tina grew up with church all around, and saw the hypocrisy of her parent’s faith, the pastors’ greed and blatant sinfulness, and the church leaders corruption and dishonesty. She stood at her confirmation, as she thought she must for appearances and to avoid the guaranteed battles with her parents if she did not. She stood and professed her faith, but under her breath she cursed the whole process and her hypocrisy. Afterwords she stood by herself in the woods behind the church and cursed the church, it’s people and it’s God. She vowed she would never, ever do more than the absolute minimum to make people accept her and leave her alone. Later as an adult she would avoid the church at all costs! This she promised herself, and God if there was one.

With a budding career after scholarships and fellowships and the best education available in the world, Tina had it all. She was even considering getting married. She’d found a kind man, an honest man, a man of integrity who stood up for what was right and worked to bring justice to those to whom it was denied.

Then in a blink of an eye, he was dead, killed by an addict in a frenzied high on meth looking for money for more drugs. The addict had been a normal mother of two who needed knee surgery. Prescribed opiates for her pain even before the surgery, which was postponed twice, she became hooked. Her doctor did nothing except cut her off. She turned to prescription drugs on the street, and when she ran through all her family’s money losing them along the way, she turned to cheaper street opiates.

Tina tried to make sense of it all. It was impossible. Nothing made sense. Not her own life. Not the sad story of the addict’s life and her children without a mother. Not her fiance’s death. One day she found herself walking in a wood, praying that God would help her. She remembered that promise she’d made herself in the woods after her confirmation. Still she prayed. When she walked out of the woods, she went looking how she could make a good difference in the world. She found, trained, and volunteered at a safe injection site for addicts. She listened to the addicts who wanted to talk. Many came to trust her. She wasn’t fooled by their lies, or taken in. She listened. She learned what resources were available. If they asked for help, she was ready to guide them, sometimes even walking with them to the place where help was offered, where they could be given a safe apartment, where people would help them get stability, and help dealing with their addiction. She attended lots of AA and NA meetings, sitting in the back with an addict who’d asked her to come to support them.

Who are you today? Like Wayne or Tina? Full of words and short on action? Or full of action humbling submitting to God’s Word to love God, neighbour and self with all our heart, mind and strength, even our enemies?

Whoever each of us are this day, pray that none of us are like the priests who are so far lost we can say: ‘How have we despised God’s name?’

Let us honour God with our prayers, praise, and humble work to bring justice to all people, grace to all people, and hope to all people … starting with ourselves.

Baptized Into Christ’s Death for Life

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Wild that Needs Taming

is not out there.

It’s in our minds and hearts.

We and the Wilderness and all Creation need healing!

Jeremiah 23:3

Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.

Luke 15:4

Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?

Words of Grace For Today

This past Sunday we celebrated the Baptism of Jesus, and our own baptisms. For what purpose are we baptized into God’s flock, into God’s family together as children?

What was God planning, when God gathered the remnant back into the fold and let them be fruitful and multiply?

Back then of course land was abundant, people scarce. Survival as a people required increasing the population enough to fend off enemies.

Now the earth is overrun by humans, multiplying out of control. Wild lands are difficult to find, precious when they are, and seldom well protected from being overrun by mining, oil extraction, clear cutting, paving over, filling in the swamps (nature’s water filtration system), and generally developing them so that they serve human short term interests at the cost of our long term survival.

Covid 19 is only nature’s latest reaction to us way-too-many humans putting un-survivable stress on the ecosystems of creation.

Very few of us have ever been close to having 100 sheep. The image still is clear. Even the most cantankerous, stubborn one among many is precious to God. So precious that God goes away from the flock grazing together in the wilderness in order to pursue that hard headed one … ok to be honest that ‘one’ is each one of us at some time or another – sometimes quite often.

Baptized, we are God’s people. It is too easy to write off people who stray from reality, God’s reality of Grace. It is very sensible to write off those who attack us to destroy us … better that than to go on the offensive to destroy all our enemies. (That policy relentlessly pursued always ends with only one survivor.) God does not let us abandon even our worst enemies. Instead God sends us, away from the flock, the safety we find in our lives, and God gives us the task of rescuing, with God’s Grace, the one stubborn, cantankerous one, even if that is our worst enemy.

God does not kill our enemies. God transforms them into one of God’s children … through our kindness and grace.

We can understand that Covid 19 is not God’s plan to reduce the human population by killing off so many of us.

It is surely a wake up call. Creation needs us to be responsible and work to reduce the human population and right now, to preserve what wilderness and swamps and forest lands and arctic tundra and rain-forest and savannas that are left … before none are left, and to save the many species who are threatened today with extinction.

Hard choices. Wake up. Help us all make them starting today, before there is no more today for us all. That certainly is not God’s choice for us, but God does not limit our choices; we are free to destroy ourselves and the earth’s ecosystems … and we are well on our way.

Or we can behave together as the baptized saints that God makes us to be.

11th Day of …

Monday, January 4, 2021

The Light (as a Child) is Here

To Guide Us

To Life

Life Abundant!

Deuteronomy 5:29

If only they had such a mind as this, to fear me and to keep all my commandments always, so that it might go well with them and with their children for ever!

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

Religious regulations abound. They have since the beginning of time as poor humans try to force others to keep ‘good order’ in religious ways, so that others feel they control everything from life to death and everything in between.

Many regulations indeed start out as wise practices to help people stay physically healthy. For example the ancient regulations for not eating pork, back when it was very difficult to prepare it properly and it killed many people. Better safe than sorry. Today through many shifts of diseases in pigs and in humans and in practices for raising, slaughtering and preparing/cooking pork, pork is as safe as any other meat.

What used to be an advantage for beef has been lost with all the dangerous raising practices and slaughtering practices which have made safe preparation of beef as demanding as any other meat.

There are other regulations, which from ancient times have been recognized by multiple, distinct cultures as basic for the protection of life, for oneself and one’s community. We call them the ten commandments.

God and many people have sighed in despair about their people and our people: If only they had such a mind as this, to fear me and to keep all my commandments always, so that it might go well with them and with their children for ever!

We do not keep God’s commandments, not even the ones that help us live well. And it does not go well for us and for our children. Though we know that breaking even one commandment does others and eventually us great harm, we (each and every one of us) finds ourselves compelled to excuse ourselves from having to obey. We say to ourselves: this does not apply to me, not now, not concerning this.

Exactly that kind of thinking is what the commandments could help us avoid, vigorously! Yet, we give in to temptations. Sinners we are, every last one of us!

Thank God, Jesus comes to demonstrate so clearly that exactly from this sin, our sin, God chooses to forgive us, redeem us, renew us, and send us out to do the same for all other people.

Most of us seem to get what God does for us, but that last bit: doing for others what God has done for us seems so hard to get to!

Jesus put it simply and clearly adding to the ancient command to Love God: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength: Love your neighbour as yourself. Love your enemy.

Simple.

Now the doing. This is a good time to start! If not now, when?

10th Day of …

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Who are you this day,

on the path of life

that is given to you?

Who are any one of us,

If not God’s blessed saints?

Isaiah 58:10

If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday.

Luke 6:36

Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

Words of Grace For Today

In history there were many of these people, and today we remember two, one of each:

There was a wealthy person, who had inherited great riches, position, and power. Working hard to manage all that was at her command, she increased her wealth through every means and method available to her. If her choices caused a great number of people misery, despair, or death, she took no notice.

It was her birthright, she claimed. She was going to increase her position for that is what she was born to do, just as her ancestors had done. She did not learn her history, though, and paid little attention to literature of any kind. She was interested in ways and means to increase her wealth, and only that. When something could serve her she researched, brought in expert advisers, and used everything to her own advantage. If something or someone did not serve her advantage she quickly got rid of it or them.

Those who knew of her prayed for her … to stay far away from them.

There was another wealthy person, who had inherited great riches, position, and power. Working hard to manage all that was at his command, he increased his wealth wisely.

Aware that his ancestors had worked hard to earn the wealth, position and power that was handed on to him, he learned their history, and as much of history as he could. He accepted that poverty, misery, illness and death would always be part and parcel of life, though he did not ignore the responsibility that was handed on to him, the responsibility to make a difference in many, many people’s lives; a good difference. He understood from his ancestors that all he had was a blessing from God, a blessing that remained a blessing only as long as he ensured it was handed on to others as blessings.

He did not stand in the limelight. Only a handful of people prayed in thanks for him by name. Very few people actually knew that what they received in time of great turmoil, illness or death came through various paths from him. Yet when people received assistance, opportunity or protection, they were also given a word: pay it forward. Because of his work many people prayed prayers of thanks.

With this wisdom this man of great riches, position, and power not only helped people, but what emanated from him was an ever growing web of gratitude and a sense of responsibility to share what one had, so that everyone in need received the help, exactly the kind of help, they needed in order to live thankful lives.

In this year 2021, which person would you wish to have living in your community, province, or country?

God has given us each great blessings so choose to be that person in your community!

Carry on and spread the tradition of immense gratitude for God’s blessings. First among God’s blessings is that Jesus saves us from sin and gives us abundant lives.