Music Shows us Life, as God Made us to Live!

The sermon is interspersed with snippets of music.

Jeremiah 23:23-29
Hebrews 11:29–12:2
Luke 12:49-56

Jesus says We Cannot Interpret the Present

How is it that Jesus says we do not know how to interpret the present time?

We can forecast the weather so we know it will rain before the clouds appear on the horizon, and we know days before the wind starts it’ll be scorching hot or freezing cold. Can we really not interpret the present time?

Look, Jesus the Bringer of Peace?

We’ve looked to the stars, to see the number of descendants God promised Abraham and Sarah. We’ve looked to Jesus on the cross and heard that as we confess our sins and forgive others their sins Jesus forgives us. We’ve listened and heard that Jesus blesses peacemakers.

We have sung of Jesus bringing Peace Like a River, with it’s catchy melody.

Peace Like a River

God Does Not Come In Monochrome

Creation in Colour

Jesus Brings Conflict, Fire, The Hammer of God

Yet the lessons for today say, “Think again!” Jesus came not to bring peace, but instead division. Jesus came to bring God’s Word of fire. God’s word is a hammer that strikes the solid rock foundations of our lives and shatters them.

God’s Creation is no Monophony

God’s Word is so much more like Beethoven’s 5th. It comes down like a hammer in our hearts, pounding out any notion that what is to come might be whimsical or easy. God sends Jesus, the Word made flesh; and God means business.

Beethoven’s 5th opening ‘hammers’ and a phrases following

God Does Not Come In Monotone

God Comes to Us and Means Business

Music Broad Enough to Communicate God’s Reality

Music moves our hearts stimulating in the same moment Joy, Grief and Hope in us. How better to make sense of the harsh reality of these lessons. Music, with the touch that harmonizes the spheres of the universe, heals us and sets us right with God’s people and creation: we thrive with music in our hearts. Like everything there is of course Music that serves to break down creation, as at Jericho, but we will leave that behind. But should we?

God’s Creation is no Monodrama

Conflict In and Between Us

Jesus says he comes not to bring peace, but division and conflict. God means business, sending Jesus, who is as powerful as the Word that created the universe, which separated the Light from the Darkness.

We must respond. If we respond with faith, our lives are forever changed. If we respond with disbelief, then our lives take another path. Even with faith created in us we still remain sinners who do not believe. Jesus brings conflict within each of us. Since Luke’s time the Gospel has divided also families. Often in history if one believed, one would be persecuted and killed. Those of us who believe end up in conflict with those who do not.

God Does have a Monopoly on Loving Us ALL

Belief was expensive. Faith still is as Jesus’ Love Catches Us.

Belief was expensive among Luke’s readers. When Jesus creates faith in us it still is.

Most music we know is not about our lives. We just get caught up in the rhythm and dance our hearts out. ABBA’s Ma Ma Mia is such a piece. Then Jesus comes, catches us, and suddenly we are not merely dancing to the music. The music is our lives. We are caught by Love, Jesus’ love, and getting away is impossible … even though we know there are consequences for letting this love reach us … yet again.

Ma Ma Mia

God Did Not Create Us as Mono-mimetic

We are in the Picture, We are God’s Picture.

God Yearns that We Remember God’s Name

God yearns for us, just as God yearned for the false prophets to give up on spreading their own dreams and deceptions as if they were God’s Word. God yearns because these false dreams and deceptions capture our hearts and minds and cause us to forget God’s name. What a terrible thing to suffer. To forget God’s name. To not even know one’s own creator, redeemer, and guide to an abundant life.

It is like going to a classical concert without knowing what is on the program and after a warm up to Mozart, being agitated, gurgitated and served up on a platter of confusion by Hindemith’s [/Bartók’s] atonal music.

Hindemith or Bartók

God is more than Polyphiloprogenitive, God is Poly-All

Sometimes the Universe seems a few degrees or more off kilter

God fills the universe

Can we find God in that music? According to Jeremiah God is not far off, nor only near. God fills the entire universe; and yet we forget God’s name because we listen to tempting, false words.

Then God sends someone to remind us that without God Our Blue Eyes are Crying in the Rain, and we know that we’ve deserted love and left our hearts as empty as a Monday Morning Church.

Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain OR Monday Morning Church

God’s People are Polychromatic, Polyphonic, Polyrhythmic, Poly- of ALL Kinds

Someone comes and reminds us: God is for us!

The Faithful Cloud

Yet God has not deserted us. We have a great cloud of witnesses that tell us otherwise: From the Red Sea, to Jericho, to Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and to the prophets God has made great things happen. But not all God’s people were brought success or honour.

Many of God’s faithful die after they suffer shame, having lived destitute, persecuted and tormented, wandering homeless the deserts and mountains, living in caves and holes in the ground.

Doch, God provides for them all a better end, to live with us, in faith.

This great cloud of witnesses to God’s Word, accompanies us each day, as we persevere in the race put before us. Ours is not a race of our choosing. God puts this race before us, and race we must.

God’s People are Poly-therapeutic

The Faithful Cloud Reflected Down to Earth

Story: Movie The Last Face: Living the life God gives us: for others

In the movie The Last Face, two doctors work in Liberia and Sierra Leone’s conflicts. Wren is an idealist, fundraiser and organizer. Migel is an orphan, a realist, working on the front lines.

Caught on the front lines with him, Wren falls in love with Migel and it changes them forever, as love is wont to do. Then she has to choose which one of six people will be given the last of their blood supply. The other five will die. When they have to leave all six of them to die as the conflict arrives the next day at their makeshift hospital, Wren loses her nerve. It is impossible to make any difference. She questions why they are there anyway. Why do these people have to live like this!

Migel lives beyond hopelessness to fully trusting not that he can make the whole situation change, but that he can in one area if only temporarily, one day at a time, one patient at a time, do what he is able as a doctor.

Wren protests the senselessness of helping people who will die just days later in the conflict anyway. He responds: these people are given this life to live. Yes, I can leave, fly out to a city with safety and hot showers and a good bed. They cannot. I cannot change the life they are given, but I can give them what I have to give.

God’s People are Poly-Resilient

Sometimes the race that God puts us into is so profoundly hopeless that we get caught up in the blues, depression, or even life-threatening hopelessness. For we see the circle of life that does not change for the better for so many of God’s own people.

Even then we know that if we put our blues to song, and we sing them out, they become our prayers, and by grace they lose their grip on us.

Song Sung Blue

God’s Race for Us is not Monotonous

The View to the Boat, the Church

Challenges: the race

As we struggle to meet the challenges of each day God’s powerful Word accompanies us, not to make it easy for us, but to buck us up to do the hard work in the race put before us.

Movie The Forgiven

Remembered in so many ways, including in the movie Forgiven, Bishop Desmond Tutu struggled against so many detractors who threatened to sink the Truth and Reconciliation Commission because it would expose the atrocities they had contributed to. Tutu meets these challenges, not easily but with Grace, determination, joy, love, condemnation and hope.

People had killed people. People revenged the killings. People revenged the killings revenging killings. And on it would continue, if kept in secret, forever. But brought out into the open it gave people the opportunity to forgive!

Forgiveness is God’s Music

With forgiveness, which made S.A.’s future as a united country possible, we experience the long lead up to Beethoven’s 9th Symphony’s resolution in the Ode to Joy Chorus, ringing across the stars and back into the depths of our hearts. Here we experience the power of Grace, of Love, of Joy, mixed with struggle, loss, and grief until it comes out in us as Hope.

Beethoven’s 9th lead up to Ode to Joy

God Created the Universe from Chaos, Making Harmonies: from Galaxies to Atoms, from the Circle of Life to Emotions and Beauty.

God Offers us Polyphonic Lives in Harmony with God’s Universe

The Trees and the Light

How to interpret the present time?

How can we possibly interpret the present time? Only when we realize that God is here for us, can we see clearly that just as the south wind brings scorching heat and the north wind brings bleeping freezing Cold, so God brings rainbows of challenges each and every day in the race set before us just so that we can practice meeting everyone with Forgiveness and Grace.

Then we can move from Misery to Happiness, giving God thanks for everything with the music that brings us into harmony with God’s Good Creation. So we sing: “Now Thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices”

Now Thank we all our God, with hearts and hands and voices!

Amen

M is for … Breathe the Music!

M is for … Breathe the Music

how is it that music

reaches

‘Ordinary’ Light, Ordinary Days

deep down inside our hearts

and strums

on something so deep

that penetrates the hidden reaches

giving joy

sadness

and hope

all in 

one

fell swoop

Every Piece of Life Compressed into Harmonies

as if our existence were mathematically determined by the progressions of 4ths and 5ths 

major and minor, and 7ths for spice

bringing memories

long lost

to

the wear

and

tear of

loving once and amen

a

crazy spouse

who will

not stop at

anything

less than my death.

I in retreat and holding for God’s deliverance

if only in small parcels, then so be it, but hoping for

place and opportunity to work, write, and take photos.

Finding the path Despite the Trees, White as they may seem.

What

is hope that

music strums to it

as

if

…?

Where does the feeling come from

that we can think of something other than the harmonies

as if God had not created the harmony of the spheres with

other than words sung

so powerful

like a hand extended in love to care for another,

the touch of empathy, concern, and ties to the divine, the infinite;

quite a privilege

for a small finite sinner creature

Ever onward through the weeds, across the calm of life’s chaos to the Light Setting.

who is older

day by

day

until 

the ground accepts ones chemicals

once again.

For then the music will flow freely.

2019.08Aug04 Pentecost

Readings and Psalm

Ecclesiastes 1:2, 12-14; 2:18-23 
Psalm 49:1-12 
Colossians 3:1-11 
Luke 12:13-21 


Explanation

These are a number of thoughts collected about the lessons for this Sunday.
Not really the sermon at all yet. But the challenges faced in finding a sermon when the lessons reflect heresies rejected by the Church, false wisdom, and admonitions of what not to be, but very little Gospel, Grace or … even Faith, Hope or Love.

Trees

When skiing in the mountains on a slope with trees on it
Fear focuses one on the trees.
But that is most likely going to get one right into a tree.
One needs to focus on the good spaces between the trees where one wants to ski.

The trees are hard, aim between them.


Do Not

The Word for today: all of what we ought not to do?
OT: the Wisdom, of a Fool, Disconnected from relationships
NT: the Lists, hardly the freedom of Christ, and then Passion excluded, Passion which is God’s gift of fully engaging in life!
Gospel: Greed, the thing that destroys life. Possessions, the things that overtake life.


The hints of Grace:

OT:
nothing
NT:
seek things above
clothed yourself with the new self, being renewed in the image of its creator
in the renewal distinctions are gone, all are the same, Greek and Jew
Gospel:
Be rich (not in possessions) but towards God


What is Left?

Talk about the folly of each: the what we are not to be
Bring to it our own assurance of God’s Grace: and how it applies to these foolishness, bad advice, and condemnation of being possessed by possessions.
Bring to it our own sense of relationships as essential to human life, to the nature of God, i.e. Trinity,
of accountability and responsibility to future generations


Seek Things above:

The Movie: The Journey to Palamor

The story of astronomical exploration through telescopes and our understanding of the universe: rate of expansion, quasars, galaxies, black matter, black holes, and on it goes.
At one time Hale said the Wilson telescope would allow us to see the nature of the creator of the universe.
Criticized: not to see the face of God
Applauded: God’s handiwork is more marvelous than ever imagined.
From the Earth being circled by lights (stars) and the sun and (planets) to the universe expanding out from one great explosion and the end of the universe coming when that explosion collapses on itself in b/trillions of years.


Astronomy today:

Thoughts about Each Lesson


OT: The self deluded fool


Vanities all that is is vanities

It is too common that we focus only on the stuff under our feet, and we miss the Light.


This supposedly wise man thinks he has it all well and good.

He says: Our toils produce and others enjoy it, who may be wise or foolish.
He has no family, no friends, no community.
This is a man who is a rock unto himself,
He has laboured, and known great results, great wealth, great power, King of the people, enough that he identifies his being with the results of his labours and in his misguided wisdom he declares that God has created, man has worked, and nothing is worth anything more than the vapour of self-importance based on absolutely nothing at all.


The life with this fool’s perspective

What does this kind of life look like?
It is a life where one makes oneself important.
It is a life where God’s truth disappears into the vapours like the mists of the fog disappearing with the rising sun. And then anything that one wants can become the truth, or rather the lies that one believes are true.
People are sacrificed. People do not count as people. They become stepping stones to make one succeed at whatever one counts that decade, that year, that month, that day as worth achieving.
It is a life where despair takes on all sorts of guises, where one does not sacrifice to give other’s life. It is a life where instead of being thankful for what one has, one demands more and more of things that cannot fill the empty void that should be one’s heart and soul and full mind.
It is a life that is at war with life itself. Where conflict and chaos allow one to hide from accountability or hope or love or … Jesus.
It is a life that accepts that violence and vengeance are acceptable.


Story We Ain’t Poor

Florence Ferrier In the story We Ain’t Poor! a social worker in poverty-stricken Appalachia tells of her work with the Sheldons, a large family in severe financial distress after a series of misfortunes. The help they received was not adequate, yet they managed their meager income with ingenuity — and without complaint.
One fall day the social worker “visited the Sheldons in the ramshackle rented house they lived in at the edge of the woods. Despite a painful physical handicap, Mr. Sheldon had shot and butchered a bear, which strayed into their yard once too often. The meat had been processed into all the big canning jars they could find or swap for. There would be meat even during the worst of winter when their fuel costs were high.
“Mr. Sheldon offered me a jar of bear meat. I hesitated to accept it, but the giver met my unspoken resistance firmly. ‘Now you just have to take this. We want you to have it. We don’t have much, that’s a fact; but we ain’t poor!’“[The social work asked, ‘How can you say that?’] His answer proved unforgettable.
“’When you can give something away, even when you don’t have much, then you ain’t poor. When you don’t feel easy giving something away even if you got more’n you need, then you’re poor, whether you know it or not.’”
[Can we say] ‘We ain’t poor!’?

(Gospel Notes 2001, Brian Stoffregen, reworked TL)


NT: The Different Life: In Christ

In contrast to the wise king’s hopeless lack of vision in God’s creation, because he only knows himself, and does not let anyone into his own life, the writer of Colossians reminds us that Christ raises us differently into life free from what destroys us.

There is something wonder-filled in all the universe that points to a mystery: a Creator that Loves and Creates with Words, First Light!


Passion embraced

We can wonder that passion is somehow among the writer’s list of things that are to be left behind. Though if we remember that their expectations were that Jesus would return and the world would end, so leaving passion behind seemed a wise thing.


Living Now with Passion, Beauty

We know centuries later that the end may come at any time but we none the less must live so that the world is also filled with hope for our children and grandchildren, and generations after them. At creation God’s gifts includes passion. God’s gifts always include passion as a gift that binds us to one another. This is what the king had no room for. He had no passion to share the beauty of life with another person. He had no passion to know that God’s love and passion for creatures moved God to speak a word “Let there be Light.” From God’s simple words the whole of what is came into being.
But chaos of the life that the king has found where everything is futile and vapours and vanity, that is what God took and with a word created non-chaos, creation. We live in that blessed creation of order and beauty.


Grace Required

It is not perfect, for God loved us enough to give us freewill. We choose, too often, not to love all creation with the passion that God put into those words: “Let there be Light!”. Each of us requires God’s great sacrifice of Jesus, God’s son, to redeem us, to make us good in God’s eyes. But then … then the whole of creation in all it’s order and beauty and passions and hope and loves transforms all that we see and know. Not just for ourselves, but for the next generation, and all the generations to come.


Story The Next Generations Ain’t Heavy


A family, in a country of a repressive government, were placed under house arrest. Under pressure from other nations, the parents were told they could leave the country, but that they could only take two hundred pounds with them. So the family began to argue about and sort through what to take: computers, cooking utensils, books, toys, clothing; what was most important? Finally they had decided.
An official came to the door. “Are you ready?” “Yes, we’re ready. We’ve packed two hundred pounds.” The official asked, “Did you weigh the children?” Suddenly, computers, pots & pans, books, toys, clothing seemed absolutely worthless.

(Sharla Hulsey, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) Sac City, Iowa reworked TL2001 reworked kas 2016)


Luke: Greed

Greed, It is a false passion that takes all the joys and hopes and dreams and real visions of the goodness of creation, denies them all, and tries to replace them with a thing, a quantity, a power, a gathering of wealth.

Definition Greed

Greed is related to gluttony; it kills us as we try to possess too much. “A glutton is (a person) who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition.”

(Wishful Thinking, F Buechner)

But the world is not good because one has money, or power, or anything else.


Ante-Greed, Sacrificial Labour and Love

The world God created is made of sacrificial love. Life sharing love. Labours for others, for the next generations. Time so precious for we only have so many days on this wonder-filled world. We have only so many minutes to share God’s own beauty with others.
The world God created us to live in brings us a life of challenges, hopes, and dreams, some too often dashed, promises realized, or not. Always God calls us to see so far beyond all our possessions.
We all get caught by them and they possess us. But Jesus lived, died and rose back to life, just so that we can see beyond what would capture and suffocate our hearts. We can see those things above. And seeing the things above we can know how precious God names all those things that are this earth, this world, this wonder.


What life? Choose!

What life do you want to live?
A life of vanities, all is vapours, all is for nothing, for generations of fools will follow us.
Or
A life of dreams, passionate beauty, simple joys, shared so that they multiply and bring us all to hope, to hope that our labours will give the goodness of life to others, for generations to come.

Choose to live in the Light, Looking to the Reality
of God’s Grace
Giving, Sustaining and Guiding all Life.


Scratch Notes on Each Lesson


Scratch OT Thoughts

Vanity, also vapour.
All is vanity: this is a BAD take on God’s good creation


Not Wisdom, Folly

This is not wisdom, this is stupidity, faithlessness, depression, self-based delusion of world-denying-God thoughts. This is in the Canon: one can only point out how wrong it is!
The Teacher, when King, (probably NOT a king then a teacher!)


Pretentious

I saw all the deeds: This guy is pretentious. No human can see all the deeds done.
From such a skewed take on his own reality and place in creation, he comes to the conclusion that ‘all is chasing after the wind.’
Tapes our fears
This has a ring to it that seems true. We’ve all had the feeling that life is useless and labour the most useless part of it.
It is tempting to think that it is right. It is tempting, but it is not right or healthy or wise or blessed, or anything worth much except to create fear in people instead of calm that feeds good labours that bring the fullness of life to oneself, one’s family, community, and to others, i.e. strangers, guests, sojourners, enemies.


Choice of Hate:

hated: well that is a choice of how to respond to the world, a bad choice, an against-God, faith, life choice. No wonder the ‘Teacher’ ends up thinking as he does!


To hate work

hated his toils: That is a choice, a choice of privilege and luxury. Hatred of the essential work to stay alive is a sure way to come to an abrupt and early end. Even despicable labour, if required for life, has a redeeming value. Tedious work today has the reward of a pay-cheque, which enables one to eat, have shelter, provide for one’s family.
To love (boring) work
Making work that is tedious nonetheless interesting is valuable skill of living well. It is a choice to learn it, it is a choice to refuse to learn it.
Nearly everyone gets lots of opportunity to learn it. Only the decadent wealthy can skip that one!


Devolved Despair, ante-faith

The texts devolves into foolishness: despair and complaint that one’s labours can be such to provide for the next generation(s), though one cannot control whether they be wise or foolish who inherit the benefit of one’s labours.
Where is this guy’s sense of community, of continuity, or existing through the results of his labours in a small way contributing to the future generations.
All of this is not only missing, it is flat out bemoaned as possible! That is the essence of EVIL. To take what is blessing and make it cursed!
He turns his heart to despair: this is the antithesis of faith! A choice.


Benefits of Labour

What do mortals get from their labours: they get meaning and life well lived and a legacy … and joy and hope, and the pleasure of seeing things accomplished that would not otherwise be if one did not labour!
YES: our days are full of pain and vexation. Our nights full of minds that do not rest. For we worry when and how we do not need to, which produces no good results … BECAUSE we do not trust that God is at work in our labours as well!
BECAUSE we turn from the blessing of God’s presence, and try to live on our own.
And that kind of living, trying to live separate from God our creator, redeemer and inspirer/guide, is what leads to all sorts of EVIL starting with abandoning one’s heart to despair/Evil/hatred/vengeance/blindness: conflict, sexual misconduct, abuse, lies, wars, and destruction of creation and people.
So the Teacher is right: abandon God (as if one could) and then all is just vanity, vapour, ethereal, false, empty, futile, meaningless … and all that is the basis of stupidity, not wisdom.
So the guy is all screwed up, like us all.


Psalm Thoughts

Know our place: we are creatures and all of us will die, wise or foolish. Our riches can never make life good. Only God can do that for us. God has done that for us.


Scratch NT Thoughts

This psuedo pauline thought is treacherously deceptive: but there is a core that is healthy and helpful:
Christ moves us beyond our Past
There are things in our past, which Christ moves us beyond.
Look above, to the heavens. See God’s truth,
There are things that make for life, and redeemed by Christ, raised up with Christ we can live better (not good enough for God, for that we require Christ’s redemption first, foremost and throughout to the last).

Hidden to be revealed

The anticipation of Christ’s return: of us being hidden with Christ and revealed in Glory with Christ is wonderful
and deceptive.
Life as faithful that is secret is not full life. But at times that has been the only option forward for the faithful as forces would destroy them if they revealed themselves as Christ’s – see the Missionaries to Japan, the movie where they denounce Christ, even write tracts against Christianity, but in secret they continue to witness to their faith and those who in secret know what to look for, see their witness and their sacrifice.
The ultimate sacrifice: giving up one’s faith to be faithful witnesses
They sacrifice the ability to practice, profess and teach the faith. They spit on God, and on Jesus, they tread on the Bible. But they remain faithful!
For outward practices are NOT faith.

Lists of ‘faith practices’

Christ is the ALL in ALL. All our whimpy attempts to reduce faith to a certain set of practices is vanity, all vanity, and a temptation to deny true faith in our hearts, minds, souls, families, churches, communities, nations, world, and in all of God’s creation.
So the writer’s lists of what is left behind is … deceptive.
There are things in the list that are destructive, and we can leave them behind if we wish a better, fuller life.
Lists denounce Passion, But Passion is a gift from God
Passion though! That is all wrong. Though passion can be embraced outside of faithful living and run amok. See Sodom and Gomorrah and, and and ….
But passion as the full-hearted embracing of being a body in God’s creation, is truly one of the most precious gifts God made as part of creation. We like Luther, can embrace the mundane as sacred: beer is God’s gift, sexuality is dangerous to deny and a great joy to embrace in a marriage.
The problem with making lists of acceptable behaviours and unacceptable behaviours is it is wrong headed: the destruction is in these, but the foolishness of thinking one can entirely free oneself from sin, or that telling others to is at all helpful, really … the foolishness is profoundly wrong headed and endangers not only oneself, but those to whom one would teach/demand these lists.


Be … Blessed

Be passionate, about God’s beautiful creation and all that is in it, that God has blessed us with short days to enjoy!
Be free in Christ to move beyond selfishness, greed and … that is a list … so that one can live more fully. But always remember that one lives fully only because of Christ’s redemption, not because of one’s efforts to be good.
Be free, be bold, be beautiful, and let God forgive your sin, and all the sin around you.
Breathe the Spirit in. The vapours/vanity/supposed wisdom is actually blessed God present calling us forward out of our despair into the Light of creation.

Scratch Gospel Thoughts:

Using Christ

Using Christ to get ahead, get more,
ahh we have more than perfected the use of God/Christ/Spirit/Religion to pound others down and try to get ahead.


More than abundance

Clear from Christ: life is much more/other than the abundance of possessions. For possessions are not a blessing; they possess one.
They are as much an impediment to the fullness of life as any misappropriation of God’s good creation.
The foolish man, like the ‘wise Teacher who despairs’, thinks only of himself. Good crops, bigger barns, security for the future of the community … all that is good!
The cursed thought: Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.


One’s own treasure, or God’s Gifts

That is the error of death: to think that one’s treasures are ‘for [one’s self]’ Fools who are already walking dead think their treasure is for themselves!
Rather be rich towards God, well that takes no possessions, and even with many possessions it is possible, though the more one is possessed by possessions (the more one possesses one is possessed by them!) the greater the temptation is to find security in one’s own wealth, instead of in God’s mercy and grace!


Our hoarding gives others inability to live, at all.


Then one hoards and is greedy and one denies the ample production of creation which others need! Just to survive, yet alone live abundantly!

The Creation reflects the wonders of the Creator
Let there be Light!

Being Somebody

Or walking and dancing 500 miles!

Being Somebody
Dorothea Sölle gave the usual list of the 5 basic requirements for life:

  1. clean air
  2. clean water
  3. nourishing food
  4. appropriate clothing (not fashion, but function: safe from the environment.)
  5. shelter
    to these she added two more:
  6. meaningful labour
  7. love – being loved and being able to love others.
    And to that I will add that one needs
  8. culture: art like music and photography.
    Tonight, after a day of church and work continuing to set up a campsite for the remainder of the allowed 14 days before breaking it all down and moving off for 72 hours, we decided to go for a walk.
    It was after supper, so with a few tools, we headed out on a trail rarely used, and apparently not at all for the last year or so. As we went we cleared it so that coming back would be easier, and others could use it. There is a great deal of good fire wood to collect, that will otherwise rot.
    The temperatures out are a comfortable 20⁰C dropping to 17⁰ before we got back just as the sun set orange out over the lake.

So I have much to give thanks for:

Air
the air is clean

Water
there is plenty of clean water to drink and to clean with.

Food
there is for this day nourishing food.

Clothing
I have good clothing for living in the woods and for this walk enough deet spray to cover my shoes, socks, jeans, and a special hat that has flaps down over the ears and the back of one’s neck. Sprayed with deet that hat keeps the bugs off the entire head. And gloves, oh so crucial, leather gloves to protect the hands from all the brush and mosquitoes!

Shelter

There is a very cozy camper to return to, in which no bugs survive for long, it is temperature controlled, with a place to write, sleep and wash up.

Meaningful Labour
This work of clearing off the path took just the right amount of work, soaked my shirt with sweat completely, and did not over tax any of my aging muscles. And the benefit of our labours will be enjoyed by countless people.

Love, given and received!
This I all got to enjoy with the love of my life, who loves me unconditionally, who I can safely love unconditionally. No, we are not perfect nor are our lives, but we are both kind, and kind to each other.
And we dance delightfully together, with our own kind of stepping marvellously in tune to the other, with the ability to start and stop and change the step to a great variety, so as to allow the aging bones and muscles a variety of movements to not freeze up from repetition, yet alone to leave one’s mind frozen in one count or hitch.

Culture
That is always a bit of culture, that remains a joy for both of us, and most all who witness us at graceful play.
So on return I got to enjoy:
a great option to clean up with hot water!
A great hot cup of spice tea, with just the right amount of milk added, which somehow reminds me of growing up with 5 brothers and 5 sisters, and taking an afternoon break with my dad, who always had a cup of tea, and easily allowed us one as well if we added milk.
Along with the tea just right I had some lemon yogurt, just the right mix of sour and sweet, the pucker power reminds me of my youngest son who loved lemons, just so. As we puckered up and said it was great vitamin C!

Music
The greatest part of the evening is to return with enough solar power collected to allow an hour of so of music, from my playlist.
Notably (which means these pieces evoke some of the deepest most thorough joy I have known):
Good Lovelies, especially and starting off with Lie Down Beside Me, to be reminded of the goodness of love and of it’s loss.
Rufus Wainwright singing Cohen’s Alleluia, a haunting reminder of God’s presence in the darkest times of my life.
Over the Rainbow by Israel k. Just goodness of life!
The Proclaimers’ I’m On My Way [to Happiness] which always gets the base turned up, the volume up too high and smiles, reminders of many a dance step of grace, enjoyed by us and the band that noticed us.
A great number from ABBA Take a Chance on Me, Fernando, of course Mama-Mia, and Cohen, not least of Take this Waltz, Anthem, and Closing Time.
I toss in a bit of Mozart French Horn, the beauty of brass, even though I played the Euphonium, I always envied the French Horn players.
And to top off the end of the music before too many volts are consumed:
The Proclaimers’ 500 miles, a simple and thorough statement of being a man who will live ‘in love’, which we know is a choice of health!

The Photo

Simple Sun Set … … Haunting Sun Set

But the photography that is always there is the desktop I’ve chosen recently of a photo I took this year on 19th July at 21:34.
It haunts me every time I see it, even though I am the photographer whose taught for years. This photo keeps me from getting right down to work each time, but the time is not wasted.
Right there the essence of culture meets my mind no matter the colour or gray of the day: There is light at play from all sides collecting on the birch logs and waves, but pulling attention to the clouds on the horizon spanning from tree to tree with the blue of the water countered with the orange of the setting sun!

The photo haunts even me the photographer.


Why is it so haunting?
Clue a panorama so that the light and wave patterns are just normal enough and yet out of place to be intriguing, if you do not discount it as a panorama.


There is nothing quite like it: spice with milk, lemon with sweet, the fresh air, clean hot water, the mosquitoes kept at bay, the cozy camper a home not quite a home, a path nearly cleared, all this shared with a kind person who loves me without guile or selfish demands, and spiced milk, sweet lemon, and the best music selection short but good enough to change one’s heart from set and hard to lively and inspired.
Life is great!


It is a miracle to be somebody,
somebody who knows how to enjoy life fully, with so little, but with everything that makes for a full life.


How’s your days measuring up? Are the daisy’s still down? Can you still dance with grace through all the challenges that come your way each day? Do you know God’s love is so assured that it need not even be mentioned as part of the essentials of life?
Do you have music that inspires you to love all of life completely, to a 4/4 two step, or a 3/4 waltz?
What are you missing? Ask and you shall receive, for God gives us all that we need, just not everything we ask for!


Be Somebody:
share the essentials of good life everyday with someone new. Everyone needs them!
And smile, God created you, and us all, to be able to enjoy the deep based line of nature’s best music.


The owl may hoot every night, but I am not the one tagged for death, I am the one tagged for extraordinarily important things to happen around and because of:
It is enough to see one’s love dancing to the Proclaimers’ “I am going to be the man who will grow old with you. I will walk 500 miles and I would walk another 500 miles just to be the man who walked one thousand miles to fall down at your door.”


Being Somebody?

Be Somebody!

Writing in the Sky

Lessons

Isaiah 66:10-14,
Psalm 66:1-9,
Galatians 6:[1-6] 7-16,
Luke 10:1-11, 16-20

Rough Outline

Our Names are Written in Heaven

Skywriting:

A proposal by airplane. Wondrous, a dream come true for two people in love

Everything about their lives is changed:

The perspective of love.

The work of love

The forbearance of love

The genuine empathy of love

The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013

at 80, 27 years in jail, freed, reunited with Winnie, Winnie’s other love, separated from Winnie, divorced from Winnie, leader of a nation before he was even released from prison, and now a leader not elected but negotiated with, and then elected,

and NOW the most lonely person on planet.

Loss of love is as devastating as love is equipping and empowering to take on all demons

Then at at 79 Nelson Mandela falls in love again with, Graça Machel, the widow of Mozambican President Samora Machel. (born 17 Oct 1945.)

He marries her on his 80th birthday!

The trees, the stumps of the past, the light.

Work of Love

Love is not free: must be worked at each and every day.

If you work at being the person who behaves ‘in love’ with your spouse, you will love your spouse, as delightfully, marvelously, as colorfully as the first day you fell in love.

How that makes life different!

What does that mean for us?

Now that the Kingdom of God has come near,

Quote from Mother Theresa

Mother Teresa said, “Our work is constant. The problems of the poor continue, so our work continues. Yet everyone can do something beautiful for God by reaching out to the poor. I see only people filled with God’s love, wanting to do works of love. This is the future—this is God’s wish for us—to serve through love in action, and to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to act when called.” Mother Teresa, The Book of Peace: Finding the Spirit in a Busy World (London: Rider, 2002), 74.

What does that mean for us?

What are we going to do in response?

In the meanwhile:

Some will accept and grow from the nurture of God, like the nurture of a prosperous city, the city of Jerusalem.

Some will reject us and the peace and love of God that we bring. Still the message is the same: the Kingdom of God has come near!

Other lessons:

OT: Always God is there for us:

on return from Exile:

Promise of nurture, comfort, delight, and peace.

If ever an image is needed: of God: Mother nursing us, carrying us, dandling us on her knees!

The Jerusalem of the/to day

not the old, it’s gone, can be mourned

not the New, it’s coming, a promise of God at the end of time

Result for us:

Prosperity will flow like a river, full and flooding it’s banks distributing silt and soil for all in it’s vicinity.

Our hearts shall rejoice

our bodies shall flourish.

God there for ALL of us, as the past is gone, the promise of tomorrow not yet

Response: rejoice, even us that mourn the loss of the old Jerusalem, the way it was in the past.

Like brimming churches with SS busy with children, many per age in classrooms abuzz with activities, learning, and sometimes real Gospel and real Grace of God, and real love of God.

Mourn the loss, look to the new creation!

Nothing more foolish, bare obvious ridiculous than a 70 male, a man of power and corruption, divorcing himself from his wife of his youth, and claiming again and again a yet younger woman, in an effort to remain youthful, to deny his age.

Mourning what is lost by denying it is GONE, DONE, PASSED. Instead buying with wealth gained by corruption, an image of being younger than the real OLD of his age.

Nothing more foolish, than an woman who does the same. Equally foolish and destructive to all sorts of people, in the deception of self.

Except perhaps all the faithful people who look to the past of the church, deny the change of culture around us away from church participation, and expend great energy trying to recapture what is lost, past, or dying; instead of working to be what God makes us able to be today.

We deny one another’s stories, we’re too busy struggling as a congregation with each other’s untoward behaviours, anxious behaviours.

We miss out on the opportunities to work in the real world, from the real stories of each other’s lives. Like ostriches, we bury our heads in sand, unable to see the GOODness of creation. And we suffocate there, hiding from reality. God cannot nurture us there: no comforting, no nursing, no dandling on God’s knees.

God, through the prosperity of the City of God, the city of peace, nurtures, comforts, provides for us,

us who have returned home from exile,

us who have deserted home for better efforts elsewhere

us who, like the older son of the prodigal father, have remained, worked diligently at home, and are envious of the returnees given free grace, we receive grace even though we have come to rely on ourselves, our works, our merits … though they may be something, they’re nothing before God,

We all NEED God’s Grace.

God, through the prosperity of the City of God, the city of peace, nurtures, comforts, provides for ALL of us,

Just like a Mother provides for her infants.

This is love: God’s for us, our delight in God: we respond with singing for joy, with praise and adoration, with joy, even as we mourn the loss of the past.

The truth of love

God: in love with us, you, writes our/your name/s in heaven: the dream of all dreams, hopes, and life itself, fulfilled, for us and for God!

God claims, names, and commissions us, sends us

into the harvest: plentiful, with few workers:

What does that mean for us?

What are we going to do in response?

The work, the paddling, the water of life, the light.

Confused Paul in Galatians:

bear each other’s burdens, all must carry their own loads.

As we sin, each carried with gentleness by the rest of us.

As we work, each carry our own load, to provide necessities of life.

God comforts, nourishes, promises: But we still get to work like the dickens to make life good for ourselves and our community, and those in need.

God’s care does not supplant our own labours, rather God, enables our labours to be productive.

There is joy in diligent, hard, directed, purposeful labour. Labour is a necessity of life: air, water, food, clothing, shelter, purposeful labour, and love (giving and receiving).

As we work: remember God’s promise: most important

God promise:

our names are written in heaven.

More than our ability in Christ’s name to heal, to feed, to care for, to love others, to forgive, to be gentle with each other:

That God has acted, named us, written our names in heaven!

Wondrous miracles to see in this creation. Greater is God’s Grace which names us as God’s

Claimed, named, blessed, equipped. Nourished, comforted, carried,

But most of all LOVED for who we really are!

Names written not because of a fluke, not because of our work, not because of correct faith, not because of our hanging on to or letting go of our histories, but
Just because God wants it so, out of love for us.

The power of the heavens, where our names are written

A Name for Ourselves: God’s Gift

Who are we? Do we need to make a name for ourselves? Will we ever be satisfied with God’s Word present among us?

Good Potential

God created the universe. On the seventh day God rested and declared it was all good. God created us with such potential: the potential to reach for the stars, the potential to love one another, ourselves and even our enemies. Our power of imagination to see what is not and strive to accomplish things new and wonderful carries us from one generation to the next. We can share the breath of beauty, the wind of hope, and the fire of the future with one another.

Evil Potential

God also gave us freedom, so that we have the potential to reject the gifts God gives us. The goodness of life is fragile. There are so many ways for life to go wrong. We can choose to dive into the depths of darkness, to hide our false pride and our self-centered arrogance, to wallow in the despair that consumes generation after generation. We can succumb to addictions and armed conflict, to abuse and terror that causes PTSD in its victims, to Gaslighting, bearing false witness, and even murder. We have the potential to destroy all of life on earth, but the real destruction are all the avenues we create for life to implode on itself.

Jane

Jane sat at the table in her favourite restaurant, enjoying the familiar smells that reminded her of the news she had received here. Years ago, on this very spot she’d opened her letter of acceptance into university, the first one in her family, ever. That shaped everything about her life, now a Doctor of History, a professor emeritus, a famous author. Later that same day years ago she’d received the other news that formed her life and was bringing it to an indecent early end. She had MS. She had lived with it for so long, many years in a wheelchair, but now her systems were slowly giving out. Her name given to her at her baptism is Jane.

The White Purity of Birch, The Bleach of Life is not so pleasant a white.

Babel Blessing

In the lesson from Genesis we read how the people came together to build a marvelous city and a tower that would reach the heavens, in order to make a name for themselves. They also distrusted God’s rainbow, and wanted security from any future flood. God comes to bless the people with confused speech, with different languages, so that their prideful project will halt. Divided the people disperse far and wide to inhabit the earth. Ever since, we create divisions and conflict more easily than we build healthy communities. We have built more than a tower of Babel as our fossil fuel consumption produces more pollution than the earth can tolerate, resulting in violent climate change. Our civilization is built on time bombs that destroy people.

George and Emily

George and Emily walked the beach, they’d grieved the addiction of their daughter for an eternity, grieving the birth of grandchildren, each lost to foster care. Now they’d received the phone call they’d feared. Jenny had overdosed on drugs yet again. This time she had not recovered. Their names are George and Emily and they gave Jenny her name at her baptism.

Languages A Gift

Today we recognize the power of languages. They keep us apart and distinct. Yet when we live in a second language, we experience not just different grammar and words. We experience more of the world that God created good. Different languages carry different pieces of the marvels of this creation which we can barely fathom in a full lifetime.

First Pentecost

That first Pentecost the disciples proclaimed in their own language the wonders of God’s work for everyone. God inspired the listeners to hear the disciples in each listener’s own language. As at Babel God confused the language of the people to save them from their pride, so at the first Pentecost God overcame the language barrier in order that people could hear and understand each other and the Good News of what God had done in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.

Language is powerful.

Greta

Greta was born in Jena, in East Germany. A Christian, at great cost she had dedicated her life to serving Christ. Working with youth she excelled, until jealous gossip was started about her. Under intense pressure and unearned shame Greta slowly lost her confidence, then her sense of self, and finally her sense of reality. She succumbed to a half living state of senseless babble that sometimes erupted into excruciatingly painful clarity about what had been done to her, and how helpless she was. Her name, given to her at her baptism, is Greta. She remained Greta even as she lost her mind to the horrendous cruelty of gossip that pretends to know reality beyond God’s goodness.

Clarity in Miracles

Like the disciples we always want God to be more clear. The words are plain enough. Yet God rarely leaves it to just the words. The signs, the miracles, that accompany the Good News are remarkable. We may not recognize what God is doing, but we always hope that in the end all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well, for God created the universe and said it was good.

That first Pentecost so that people could not miss the miracle of the Holy Spirit given to God’s children, God marked the disciples with tongues of fire.

Small Miracles, double sun, leaves growing.

Fire

One of the distinct gifts God gave humans is Fire. It is powerful, both for good and for evil. God spoke to Moses from a burning bush, guided the people through the wilderness with a pillar of flame, and will cleanse us at our judgment with God’s purifying fire.

As we have breathed these past weeks, the result of climate change brings more wildfires, and more smoke that covers vast areas, inhibiting life in so many ways. Humans are not the only ones affected by wildfires. The smoke reduced the available solar power, a nuisance at least for those whose electricity is produced by solar power. The greater loss was to the plants whose basis of life depends on photosynthesis.

In the face of life so challenged, God finds ways to bless us, with hope.

Sam and Allicia

Sam and Allicia both lost their childhoods to wars of terror and genocide. In their teens they each survived the squalor and hunger of refugee camps, their families having all been killed. Sponsored as immigrants in their late teens by a Lutheran congregation in Edmonton, they met, shared the struggles of finding their way, fell in love, were married and are expecting their first child this summer. With different mother tongues they communicate in Canadian English. Their names given to them at their baptisms are Sam and Allicia. They have chosen names for their first child at its baptism, in memory of their families lost.

Our Name

Though we reach for the stars, to make a name for ourselves, to succeed at what we attempt, even to make life more than it is, there is no name that we can make for ourselves greater than what God has already given us. With tongues of fire God has marked us, anointed us, and called us.

Three Confirmed, we stand with them

As these three, Tristan, Connor, and Aysiah, were marked with the cross in their baptisms, and now they stand as young people, maturing, beginning to accept responsibility for their own being, so we each were marked. At the right time we also stood on our own to respond to the gifts that God gives us, promising to receive, abide in, act out of, and grow into the people God calls us to be. Today we still stand, not on our own as if our faith were merely personal or private. Rather we stand as one faith community united by the fire of the Holy Spirit. As we stand with one another in love, so we stand with these three young people. Their names, given to them in their baptisms, are Tristan, Connor, and Aysiah.

Our name: potential as love

Again today we share with them the name God has given us all. There is no greater name. It is not a name we could make for ourselves. It is the name that God gave us in our baptisms and shares with us each day. God names us God’s children.

The language of our name is not limited to one of the diverse languages that God gave us to propel us across the earth, to inhabit it and do well by it. The language of our name is love, in all its rainbow colours.

In our love for one another we best reflect the One who abides with and in us, the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit. It is in our love for our enemies that we dance with the miraculous power of life which the Spirit pours down on us in the form of flames of fire.

As we do what it takes to love one another, though the world roils with conflict, abuse, and destruction, we rest in the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit. We have no cause to be troubled. Nor do we suffer the greatest enemy: the denial of evil’s potential. Nor do we need to fear flood nor fire nor anything, for God is at work to keep evil in its place and God in God’s place … and to keep us on earth with and for each other.

Our name given to us in our baptisms is children of God. We are the inheritors of the miracle that brings life to be with a word, with a breath, with a breeze, with a fire.

Amen

Enemies — Love

June 2, 2019 Be One: Love your enemies Easter 7
The story setup

Nice Ice Left Over
Hostiles
In the movie, the Hostiles, set in 1892 starting from New Mexico a small band of soldiers and their charges, their enemies, ride across the wilds of the west north to Montana.
In 1876, just 14 years earlier General Custer made his last stand in the Battle of the Greasy Grass. Before and after that battle both the army and the Indians, (or indigenous warriors we might better refer to them now) engaged in warfare as despicable as ever. Soldiers, non-combatants, women and children were captured, raped, tortured, and killed without reason.
The captain in charge of this little band moving north had lost his wife and children to the Indians, learned their languages, joined the fighting against the Indians, killed, slaughtered and revenged death upon death. He lived out his hate under the auspices of the army and he did it better than most.
Arriving at a fort in New Mexico with captured Indians, he receives new orders. Orders he cannot stomach.
The captain is ordered to escort and protect his enemy, a chief, along with his family, who’ve been held captive 7 years in New Mexico, back to the chief’s home ground in Montana. There the captain is ordered to release his enemy, to give the chief back his freedom.
This chief is responsible for the death of the captain’s family. He has engaged in slaughtering settlers, among them women and children, as well as scalping and torturing his victims. He has revenged the killing of his people as effectively as the captain.
The captain can hardly believe his orders. He rebels and refuses, threatening to resign his commission. Then it’s pointed out that he will not be allowed to resign. Instead he will be courtmarshalled and stripped of his pension. At that, against every angry bone in his body, the captain begrudgingly accepts his orders.
He obeys.
As they ride across the wilds of the west north to Montana the captain puts his male prisoners, the chief and his son, in chains. The chief is old and riddled with cancer. He will soon die, which is the reason his request to be allowed to return home is granted.

The view south as we move north
Similar stories nonfiction setup
There are so many stories like this one. The movie is fiction. But is a fictional story filled with truth. There are so many non-fiction stories like this one.
M&B Mizen
In May 2008 16 year old Jimmy Mizen from South London was brutally attacked and killed by another boy. His parents could hardly believe it.
http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Elements_Love-Your-Enemies-Stories.pdf
Gee Walker
In 2005 by two racist thugs torturously murder Anthony Walker, 18, with an axe. His parents could not believe it.
http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Elements_Love-Your-Enemies-Stories.pdf

It may seem ordinary but …
Bishop Pierre-Marie Théas
In 1944 one evening in German occupied France, Bishop Pierre-Marie Théas preached a fiery sermon against the persecution of Jews and deportation of French men as forced labourers. The following night he was arrested by the Gestapo. He was sent to a detention camp at Compiègne from where most prisoners were transported to concentration camps in Germany.
http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Elements_Love-Your-Enemies-Stories.pdf
The normal course:
There is no life lived without being hurt by others. Our normal and natural response, built into us by millennia of survival instinct, is to allow hurt to grow into anger, and terrible hurt to grow past anger into rage. Over time, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, we instinctually allow anger and rage to grow into determined revenge. Revenge may become polite comeback. But, fuelled by hatred, our anger becomes vicious payback, just reckoning, and even, in the extreme, murder or even mass murder.
We find polite comebacks and even vicious payback short of killing to be somehow expected and acceptable.

Stand Tall in the Dark
God’s Doch
To that acceptance God says a strong DOCH! But let me put that in a context that will perhaps help us understand exactly what God does with our natural urge towards revenge, polite or vicious, or even outrageous.
Intro to Doch
As we celebrate the last Sunday in Easter we remember that on Easter, God changed everything. On Easter God undid the laws of causality and set all of us free: God took death and turned it to life; God took despair and turned it into hope; God took the emptiness of consuming and turned us to value each tiny piece of creation. God took everything that breaks us, dosed it in Light and made it into a salve of holy healing which makes us stronger, more compassionate, and more loving than we were before.
In the words of Rev. Dr. Anna Madsen, who presented Grace to us at the Study Conference in Canmore a few years ago, God took the world God created good, which we broke bit by bit and said “Doch!”
Now if you – like me – don’t know German we need a translation or really an explanation of Doch. Doch, D O C H, has different degrees of intensity.
Doch can mean simply ‘Not so’: If I say: “His shirts are wrinkled” and you respond “Doch, he ironed them.” It’s just a few degrees different.
Or Doch can be a voracious protest against what is previously stated. It’s a change of many degrees.
When a person suffering alone from mental illness cries out in fear of what will come, We say “Doch! We will learn to stand with them, to give people with mental illness what they need to be able to stand tall and function well and live among us!”
Or taken to the extreme, Doch can mark a change in the universe. It can be God turning us or the world around 180 degrees.
God created the world good, but we broke it, which could be the end of our story! But God says “Doch, Doch, Doch! My Son, Jesus redeems the world.”
God constantly changes our paths, by just a degree or by 180 degrees and we end up in completely different places. God’s doch shepherds us.
Most people grow up and find their way into a vocation, a career, a job or series of jobs; Doch the prophets, in other words all of us children of God, are called even before we leave the womb to the task of proclaiming God’s Good News with our choices, actions, and lives.
This job is not easy or safe, DOCH, God calls us to turn as many degrees as it takes to challenge the throngs of people that have turned away and call them back to God … as many degrees as it takes. It can be dangerous work, fraught with risks.
Aber (Ahh Bear) Doch, We, the people of God, will not live afraid of what can be done to us, for God is with us.

The View is wide and wild
Emotions not to control, but motivate us
There is too much hurt in every single life. Now we cannot stop an emotion. Try to just stuff it down and it’ll just go somewhere crazy on us.
But we can choose what to do with any and every emotion that comes our way. We can let it run loose and effect our words and actions OR we can choose to align our choices and actions with our priorities and goals in life. Since our No 1 Priority is to be and do the Good News, then we soon learn, often the hard way, that letting loose with even a bit of revenge, yet alone with outrageous vengeance, and being the Gospel to other people are mutually exclusive.
Most emotions own us for about 90 seconds. Our feelings should not be stopped. But we don’t have to hang on to them for even hours yet alone weeks or years. Furthermore raw action should never erupt out of our emotions. DOCH. Our actions should always be a choice of our heart and mind and body, so that we live according to the goals God calls us from the womb to strive toward. Emotions, carefully chosen, can motivate us towards God’s calling for us.

Emotions seem to loom over us, but we can choose how to respond

Themes all Easter
In today’s Gospel Jesus prays, “I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” Last week we heard an earlier part of Jesus’ prayer put it more simply. We are to love one another as Jesus loved us, so that by our love the world will know us as Jesus’ disciples.
Story of Paul and Silas
In the first lesson for today, Paul and Silas heal a young girl who was possessed by a demon. The owners, who were making money with the demon’s ability to tell the future, have them arrested, flogged, and imprisoned.
An earth quake hits the city as they sing and pray. The doors are broken open and the chains unfastened. Instead of escaping, Paul and Silas urge all the prisoners to stay put, thus saving the life of the jailor. That jailor is so impressed with the unusual manner that his life is saved that he believes the Gospel that Paul and Silas proclaim. He and his household are baptized.

A view through a grid; Still Christ’s Light Shines Golden

God’s Doch
God’s constant DOCH is ‘at all costs, love even your enemy.’

Story resolution
Hostiles
In the movie the Hostiles, as they ride across the wilds of the west to Montana the captain encounters God’s Doch.
As they stop where the chief has returned home and will breathe his last breath in the wild mountains of Montana, the captain says that, though they have each fought against the other, and each has lost so many friends to the other, when the chief dies a piece of the captain will die with him.
In obeying the orders he cannot stomach, the captain eventually gives his enemy his last breath in freedom at home, no longer as an enemy, but as a friend.
The captain recognizes the gift of life, even in his enemy, as they ride across the wilds of the west to Montana.

In the wild … there is the Light

What about us?
As we encounter the terrible ravages of evil that leaves us so wanting for life, can we recognize the gifts of God even in our enemies?
Can we give them life at their last breaths, as friends, because God has made us, all of us, while yet sinners, children of God?

Similar stories nonfiction resolutions
In the real life of so many people, this is exactly what they chose.
Gee Walker
After Anthony Walker’s murderers were sentenced Gee Walker, his mother, said: “I cannot hate. I have to forgive them. … Their minds must be very tortured. … Hate is what killed Anthony.”
http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Elements_Love-Your-Enemies-Stories.pdf

No Matter, Let the Light Shine

M&B Mizen
After her 16 year old son was killed, Jimmy Mizen’s mother Margaret said “I just want to say to the parents of this other boy, I want to say I feel so, so sorry for them. I don’t feel anger, I feel sorry for the parents. We have so many lovely memories of Jimmy and they will just have such sorrow about their son. I feel for them, I really do…. People keep asking me why I am not angry but I say …There is too much anger in the world…. it was anger that killed my son. If I was angry I would be the same as this boy.”
On the first anniversary of his murder Jimmy’s father said, “today, for us, was a message of peace, a message of change that we have been gradually working towards over [a] year. … This affects everybody. If somebody is killed in your local park or in your local shop, then this affects you. We didn’t just get here overnight…. If the will … is for it [here and now], we can change.”
http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Elements_Love-Your-Enemies-Stories.pdf
Bishop Pierre-Marie Théas
Bishop Théas was imprisoned for ten weeks with Protestants, Jews, non-believers, trade unionists, young resistance workers, and French officers. When some prisoners asked for a day retreat he preached about forgiveness, and suggested they should pray for their captors. This provoked outrage. Théas replied, “My friends, I cannot proclaim anything except what the Lord said: Love your enemies. No more, no less.”
http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Elements_Love-Your-Enemies-Stories.pdf

The extreme story, resolution
Cartier and Nixon
When former Vice-President Hubert Humphrey died hundreds of people from across the world attended his funeral. All were welcome, but one – former President Richard Nixon, who had recently dragged himself and his country through the humiliation and shame of Watergate. Eyes turned away and conversations ran dry around him. He was being shunned and ostracized.
Then the current president Jimmy Carter walked into the room. President Carter, not of Nixon’s party and well known for his honesty and integrity, moved toward his seat, until he noticed Richard Nixon standing all alone. Carter changed course, walked over to Richard Nixon, held out his hand, and smiling genuinely and broadly embraced Nixon and said “Welcome home, Mr President! Welcome home!”
Newsweek magazine reported the incident including the words, “If there was a turning point in Nixon’s long ordeal in the wilderness, it was that moment and that gesture of love and compassion.”
Source: Reported in Maxie Dunnam, The Workbook on Living as a Christian, pp.112-113
https://storiesforpreaching.com/category/sermonillustrations/love-for-enemies/

Whatever comes our way, God’s Light will shine!

MLKing
Martin Luther King dared to suggest that Blacks should have the same civil rights as other Americans. For all he stood for King received death threat after death threat, he was maliciously accused of being a communist, his house had been bombed, and he was jailed over 20 times. Yet in his essay, Loving Your Enemies, he wrote:
“To our most bitter opponents we say: ‘We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.’”
https://storiesforpreaching.com/category/sermonillustrations/love-for-enemies/ and
http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Elements_Love-Your-Enemies-Stories.pdf

Jesus
Jesus says to us, love one another as I have loved you. Love even your enemies.
Us
Following Jesus as his disciples is complicated, challenging and sometimes calls us to things we can hardly stomach. But still through words from each other and in so many other ways the Holy Spirit guides us to see Christ loving even our enemies, as we journey through the wilds of our lives, even when our greatest enemy is ourselves.

Whatever, However, Whenever God embraces us, even when we are our own enemies the Light still shines beautifully for us.


Amen

Home, of Sorts

This Spring …

This is the neighbourhood of Home

All views taken one at a time

giving an accurate account

of beauty in a nutshell,

a life well lived,

of wonderful solitude

which has broken on the May long weekend

with a rather full camping area,

with only a few that do not show

fellow campers and the land the respect due.

Today it is so dry there is a province wide fire ban in place

Though this is the first

as yesteryear’s extreme’s become

today’s normal, and

today’s new extremes become

tomorrow’s normal.

Hang on!

It’s going to be a rough ride for the next 50 years!

First Break in Nice (Thick) Ice

Back when the ice was just breaking up, the reflection of light and cloud make the water and shore jump.

Birch White Goldenized

The Birch Show Their Colours Well

Mud Mirrors

Even the huge puddles of spring mud and snow melt pick up the the light of the sky behind the trees’ reflections.

Spring Moon Rises at Sunset

The moon ascends into the evening sky, brilliant white against the gold and blue of sunset.

Predawn Moon Going Down

Just days later the moon settles in the west as the dawn touches the east.

Sunrise Moon Setting

And settles closer to the water as the early morning breaks.

Open Cold Water

Waves and White Water return as the wind churns up the lake touched still with small patches of snow and ice.

Surviving Rodents

The few brush left with partial birch trunks, long since food for the beaver who keep the lake level high, stand out in the gold light at sunset.

Sol Plays with Aqua

The water and the setting sun play with each other in familiar yet newly wonderful manners almost each night.

Ugly becomes Gorgeous

Even the junk, abandoned, and starting to be trashed camper cannot help but shine with the immense wonders of the setting sun.

My favourite of late

The reaching thirsty trees along the shore silhouette wonderfully against the blues and oranges of the sun set reflecting remnants of light on the water.

Easter ‘Sunrise’ Sermon

Easter Early Morning

This wondrous morning, we remember especially God’s victorious response to death’s three-day claim on Jesus. We remember Jesus’ resurrection. And we hope for God’s resurrection response to all claims evil has on us and on all people.

The Proclamation

3x Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen Indeed!

The Darkness Before

This past week, Holy Week, we have remembered Jesus’ story, from the Palm procession into Jerusalem, to his last meal with his disciples as he gave us the New Covenant, … to his arrest and his disciples deserting him, … to the questioning, the scapegoating and condemning crowds, … to his whipping, Peter’s denials, and the mocking of Jesus, … to his torture, and then his death and burial in an unused tomb. Rightfully so his followers are fearful; they hide behind locked doors. All of this is so horrendous and unbearable.

Except we know the next part of Jesus’ story, because we celebrate it each Sunday. We know that Jesus is Risen from the dead, back to life.

The Light

Even though all that evil played out against him and overwhelmed so many people and then even Jesus himself in death … Even so God defeats death.

Yet Holy Week leading to Easter is so much more than that: God did not just step in to defeat the death of Jesus. After all Jesus is not the first to come back from the dead. Death is apparently, – relatively speaking, – easily overcome, one person at a time. Lazarus steps out of his tomb with grave clothes still covering him. The young girl answers Jesus’ call Talitha cumi, and walks away from her death bed.

Today we remember that God does something much, much larger.

The story is more than one resurrection

The story is more than one resurrection. God defeats all evil. All death defeated.

It is not just laying down in one’s own bed and waking up the next morning in one’s own home. It is to be able to do this after living on the streets or in the woods for years, with no bed or home to call one’s own, and then one night having ones own bed to sleep in, in one’s own home.

It’s not just having three meals a day in the senior’s care centre and being able to give an CLWR offering for Easter, which will give meals to people starving in refugee camps who have fled genocide in their home countries. Rather it is as a child having only grass to eat on the walk out of Stalin’s drought in the Ukraine, and having survived years of hardships and hunger when there were no refugee camps. Then in one’s later years being able to make a donation that will feed others who now have no food.

It’s not just a love story of ‘girl gets guy’, and they waltz off into the sunset of life. It is growing up without friends as an immigrant, an outsider. Then evil being defeated means one finds love in the most unexpected place with the most unexpected person against the most unbeatable odds …
in the family of what once was one’s real enemies.

It’s not just Jesus coming back from the dead to live again, although that’s a bit terrific already. It’s Jesus having taken on all Evil and having taken on all the sins of every person who has and ever will live. It’s having taken on the penalties for all that sin along with the big penalty, death for every person. Then it is being brought back to live life. It’s having Jesus take on all that and having defeated it!

Home Run

Jesus’ story is not like just standing at home plate and hitting a home run out of the stadium. It’s standing at the plate, in the bottom of the thirteenth inning, with a full count, down three runs, bases loaded, with all your pitchers hurting, having been put up there in desperation by the manager. You will never be here again, ever, no matter if you play 1000 more games. Then …

That’s like Jesus’ story; his life, suffering, death and resurrection mean so much more than we are able to imagine. That’s like our story or rather we each have a variation of that as our own story.

Our Response

In Jesus’ and in our stories, God defeats all Evil and all death once and for all time.

Or sort of. God makes the promise visible to us, that one day, at the end of this world, new life will be given to all the dead. There will be a resurrection for everyone. That’s when God will put Evil to rest.

God’s promise to Abraham and Sarah took most of their life times before God’s time was right for them to have a child, long past normal time. God’s time to make this promise to us will come.

In the meantime, today we are God’s saints, not because we have done good things. Rather we are saints only because God takes us when we cannot do anything good. God makes us the people who think the thoughts, who say the words, who do the deeds of God’s perfect people. Jesus has pulled us from the grips of evil where we’ve put ourselves, from where we only deserve eternal death. From the darkest valley of the shadows of death Jesus has brought blessed things to us and out of us. These blessing give life abundant to others around us.

How do we respond to Gods’ work in and through us?

Our response can be to delve into Jesus’ story, again and again. Our response can be to learn more and more of God’s purpose for us, communicated by God from outside of time, beyond matter, from infinity. God has compressed God’s will into Jesus’ life story. God has funnelled it to us living inside of time, confined to bodies, living a finite existence. God communicates everything we need to know through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection story. Our response can be to engage with Jesus’ story again and again our lives long.

The Holy Spirit works in us to help us understand what we see and hear. The Holy Spirit works in us so that like Mary in the Garden, we recognize our shepherd’s voice and follow where he leads us.

Like Mary, we see angels but we may not know it. The Holy Spirit helps us fill in the blanks. Like Peter, we may hear the women’s story, even go to see for ourselves, and find the grave clothes neatly folded on the stone death bed. Yet we not understand what it is that we see, or rather what it is that we do not see. The Holy Spirit helps us comprehend the obvious but impossible: namely that God’s limitless creative power has just undone death through Jesus’ sacrifice.

Like the beloved disciple we may hear the women’s story, and see exactly what Peter sees, and we may believe that Jesus lives. The Holy Spirit helps us to grasp how we, as representatives of the human species, just caught a new glimpse of God’s will and our place in creation.

The Holy Spirit helps us continually change the rest of our lives, so that we live as one person in the whole fully changed human project.

We no longer need to compete with each other to succeed. God calls us to the acceptable fast during Lent, giving of ourselves so that others will have life abundant.

Then after Easter, God calls us to celebrate every day, not just how the light of Christ frees us, and how that changes the rest of our lives, but how we are to be Christ’s Light for others. Everyone’s life can be changed. God has a part in the creating the new creation for each of us.

Can we celebrate, even outright dance, the rest of our lives in Christ’s Light?

Yes, we can, if we choose, and not just because Jesus is for us, but because Jesus sends us to share that light with all people, especially those in desperate need around the world.

The Holy Spirit helps us celebrate life with the most difficult people in our lives, whether its a grouchy neighbour, a mean person we have to relate to again and again, a nice but nosy relative, a recalcitrant spouse, or a self-destructive friend.

Yes, we can celebrate and dance through the challenges that come our way, because the Holy Spirit inspires and guides us to understand more and more fully what it means that Jesus lived, taught, healed, suffered, died and is resurrected back to life!

Jesus lives!

Alleluia! For we can, no matter our past or future, live well.

Jesus lives!

Alleluia! For we can, no matter our past or future, bring life abundant to all people!

Amen!

Easter Later Service

Easter Morning Late

This wondrous morning we remember God’s victorious response to death’s three day claim on Jesus. We remember Jesus’ resurrection. And we hope for God’s resurrection response to all claims evil has on us and on all people.

Proclamation

With this profound hope we proclaim together three times:

Jesus Christ is Risen!

Christ is risen indeed!

The Darkness Before

This past Holy Week we have remembered Jesus’ story, from his triumphant procession into Jerusalem, to his last meal with his disciples as he gave us the New Covenant,

to his arrest, his disciples deserting him, and the questioning, … to the crowds scapegoating and condemning him, his flogging, and Peter’s denials, … to the soldiers mocking and torturing him.

Finally we remembered how Jesus died sooner than expected, nailed to a cross … abandoned even by God. His followers scattered and hiding, filled with fear for their lives.

We remembered how they buried him in a rock tomb.

Because the darkness, portrayed in the last week of Jesus’ life on earth, is so deep, embracing everything, and so unbearably deadly, the next part of Jesus’ story is so much more than we can ever expect or comprehend, yet alone completely remember.

Every time we encounter it, we see how much more Jesus’ story is. The Light of Christ outshines such depths of darkness that we are dumbfounded, astounded and awestruck, …

if we listen carefully.

The Light

God did not just step in to defeat the death of Jesus. After all Jesus is not the first to come back from the dead. Lazarus steps out of his tomb with grave clothes still covering him. Jesus calls out Talitha cumi, and the young girl walks away from her death bed.

Jesus story is more than one resurrection

Jesus’ story is more than one more resurrection. With Jesus’ resurrection it’s all evil, all death defeated.

Home Run

Jesus’ story is not just standing at home plate and hitting a home run out of the stadium. It’s standing at the plate, in the bottom of the thirteenth inning, with a full count, down three runs, bases loaded, with all your pitchers used up. You’ve been put up there to bat in desperation by the manager. You are mostly recovered from a chemotherapy treatment three days ago and from surgery on your left shoulder last month. You’re no spring chicken at 65 years old. You will never be here again, ever, even if you beat cancer. There’s is no way you should be here. You just came back to visit the team on the bench.

Then you hit a home run to the utter astonishment of everyone and to the great benefit of a home city desperate for a team that would finally win.

Remember

Remember what Jesus has taught us, just as Jesus taught his first disciples. Remember Jesus’ story. It is also our story, or rather we each have a variation of that as our own story.

Every time we listen carefully we will be astounded and amazed at how God acts out God’s will with love and forgiveness, Grace and mercy, sacrifice and humility for us, and for all people, even our enemies.

What’s Next?

So what’s next for us?

It is easy to come to Easter worship, to be astounded by Jesus’ story and to bask in the music and words and movements of our celebration of life in the worship service and at breakfast. It’s easier yet to then once again walk back out into the world that keeps us occupied, forgetting what amazing things we’ve heard and seen. Who would believe us anyway if we told them someone came back from the dead to share God’s Word with us?

Isaiah’s New Heavens and New Earth

In the OT lesson from Isaiah for this morning, Isaiah speaks God’s words of promise to the exiles in Babylon. They’ve lost everything and been carted thousands of miles from home to be servants in a foreign land ruled by some not so nice people. They are not only servants, but they have years ago forgotten so much.

God creates new

God’s Word comes, not to fix things up, but to create a new heaven and a new earth. God’s words create, just as at the beginning of time. In the new creation we will no longer be God’s wayward people. Instead we will get to remain at home, cry to the Lord in joy and be a delight to God.

It is a Shalom vision of the Kingdom of God: there will be no weeping, no cries of distress.

New creation ends all suffering and need

In this world of Shalom, of God’s Peace, there is no homelessness, no hunger, no conflict or climate-change-displaced refugees. There are no untimely deaths, no violence or destruction or stolen lunches or unrewarded labour.

Even the dog-eat-dog order of the food chain will end. Predators and prey will live together in peace.

God’s new work in Jesus even more: perfect

Yet this vision in Isaiah is nothing compared to God’s work made clear in Jesus’ story that we have reflected upon this Lent and Holy Week.

In truth all things in God’s new creation will be re-created perfect.

Now we have only a foretaste of this new creation, a promise made in Jesus’ story.

Luke: Healing

Luke’s Gospel emphasizes that Jesus came to heal people, and with his death and resurrection to heal all creation.

As humans we often need healing. We often seek help and sometimes what ails us is dealt with. Even less frequently we even see that we are cured. When it comes to the wholeness of creation and our spirits we seem to be lost.

The brokenness of creation is more than we imagine. Our brokenness is more than we can imagine. The healing we need is so much more than we can imagine.

Healing, more than duct tape

It used to be that a good farmer could fix anything except the economy with bailing wire and pliers. Now days we use duct tape and plastic ties.

Which works out just fine until your life depends on the repair.

It’s like carabiners. There are so many kinds available today. I can get two for $1.25. And they work as key chains just fine. Until they do not, and my keys went missing because the cheap, carabiner I hung my keys on did not stay closed. Whoosh, click or slip and the key was goners. So now I use duct tape to hold the carabiner closed.

The fix when our lives depend on it

Which works just fine. But it would not be the fix needed if I were mountain climbing and hanging all my weight plus the stress of the wind blowing against me on that carabiner, tied by a rope into the rock face.

That kind of a carabiner cannot be a two-for-$1.25 purchase. For all the things we might be pleased to repair with duct tape and plastic ties, God asks so much more of us when it comes to our part in the new creation.

When we go through life, expecting that God just uses duct tape and plastic ties to heal creation, we miss out on the marvellous mystery, the eye-popping wonder, and the awe-filled power God uses to create a new heaven and earth for us, in us, and among us.

Sending

After Jesus’ resurrection, God sends us out to share the good news, to voice the prayers of compassion with those who suffer, and to be the hands of Christ that deliver the new creation to all people.

When we listen carefully, do diligently, remember remarkably, we will hear and see Jesus working in ways we hardly understand at first. We will be floored by the amazing tales Jesus has in mind for us to hear and even see for ourselves.

We ask that the Holy Spirit will help us watch carefully, listen intently, and pray fervently, that God’s new creation may come among also us. But most of all we ask that the Holy Spirit help us as we get ready to be bowled over. It not a small fix or even a big fix with duct tape. God creates a new world, a new universe, and even a new you and new me.

We need the Holy Spirit to help us through it.

Ready or not, the Holy Spirit will put us up to bat, with the bases load, in the bottom of the ninth, with the team needing us to hit a home run, and the world needing it even more.

Breath deeply and slowly. Keep your eye on the ball. Don’t forget ….

Christ is Risen!

And that’s just the start of God’s new creation.

God is about to use each of us in ways we could not dream of.

Amen