Small gods or …?

Wednesday, May 25, 2022

God Created It All,

The Good,

The Bad,

The Ugly.

Which Are We Going To Be Today?

1 Chronicles 29:11

Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.

1 Timothy 2:5-6

For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself a ransom for all — this was attested at the right time.

Words of Grace For Today

Today, as in many times before, most people pick and choose what they accept as ‘god’ for themselves. The other options in other times is for people to accept blindly what others have chosen to declare as ‘god’ for others (usually in order to control them better, and rarely to provide a better life for people), or people can take all that others say about ‘god’ and just declare they refuse to accept any of it.

Most everyone claims that, with their choice of ‘god’s’ attributes, they worship the one, true ‘god’, and all other people are just plain wrong in their false beliefs. Through history this has gotten more wars started, people killed, and the attributes claimed for ‘god’ to be wholly undermined by the people’s thoughts, words, and deeds.

When we start with the declarations like 1 Chronicles provides: Yours, O Lord, are the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heavens and on the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all then what should, and at best, follows, is our humble confession that we simply cannot know God enough to choose God’s attributes at all. It’s not only above our pay grade, the kind of knowledge that such choices require belong to a completely different kind of existence that begins outside of creation itself.

And we are mere creatures in this, God’s creation.

So how can we know anything about God at all?

Only as God chooses to reveal God’s attributes and attitudes towards us, can we know anything about God at all.

Jesus, as fully God, born as a full human, living and ministering to all kinds of people (especially the poor, the ill, and the outcasts), dying on a cross crucified on false charges (brought by the religious leaders of the day), being buried in a rock tomb, and rising from the dead on the third day, … Jesus is God’s clearest revelation to us: God loves us, sacrifices everything to let us know that we do not need to sacrifice others, certainly not to please God, and that we are forgiven, as are our enemies and our lives are given to us so that we can be God’s love and forgiveness for all other people.

Now that’s a good beginning to giving God attributes that are fitting.

It is a beginning which places God for us, and beyond our control, and involved in our lives, and wishing and doing everything possible to give us the ability to love and live and choose to:

1) love God above all else

2) love our neighbours

3) love ourselves

4) love even our enemies,

and to do so humbly.

The problem we all run into when we choose ‘god’s’ attributes to accept is that our ‘god’ ends up to be a small ‘god’, a ‘god’ that can do only what we want ‘god’ to do.

Small ‘gods’ lead us right to the Devil’s doorstep, and fuel great arguments for refusing to accept that God even exists. Everyone’s lives would be so much better if we could all refuse to accept all small ‘gods’, and begin each day with a similar declaration as in Chronicles.

In short it might go like this: God is greater than anything I can know. I am just clay enlivened by God’s spirit. God’s first and foremost attitude towards me, and all people, is love. God asks first and foremost that I love God, all people, and even myself. Thank you, God, for everything that gives me life. Now there’s a day to live, work to do, gracious things to say, people to love, forgiveness to beg for, and courage to be Christ’s voice, feet, and hands for all people. Never a slow day, thank you, God, for everything.

Well, what are we waiting for. Sun is up. Day is begun. Onward into the fray.

Love always leaves us feeling a bit frayed. It’s not cheap. It like life is precious.

Ready or Foul, Here It Comes

Friday, May 20, 2022

Where to Today?

Where from Today?

Where Ever, What Ever, Always

God’s Power of Love

All Around Us!

Psalm 38:5

My wounds grow foul and fester because of my foolishness.

Colossians 2:11-14

In him also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the circumcision of Christ; when you were buried with him in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead. And when you were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive together with him, when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands. He set this aside, nailing it to the cross.

Words of Grace For Today

There is really only one huge challenge in life, and that is: to perceive, comprehend, and wisely respond to the reality one faces each day.

Our minds are marvellously powerful organs, capable of visions and imagining a better tomorrow. We are also able to hide from the reality that we face, and make life going forward next to impossible for ourselves and/or for people around us, even people around the globe (now and in the future!) Oh, what power we have!

When one is ill, the symptoms can be mild. One can try to ignore them, continue with the aid of medication to minimize the symptoms, share the illness with unsuspecting contacts, and likely end up with worsening illness if not in the short term then as a chronic condition (which one may not even recognize as being a result of one’s ‘carrying-on with a stiff upper lip’.)

When the symptoms become severe, as the Psalmist reflects today, with fouling and festering, the illness is hard to ignore. A stiff upper lip will not do. Yet one may be so out of it that one cannot figure out how to or be able to provide the necessary care to bring about healing. The psalmist makes clear that the challenge is to find the cause of ones illness. Admitting that the cause is ones own foolishness is difficult, or at least all too often avoided by us humans.

The Colossians passage puts it right out there: we humans are very successful at … sinning. And it leaves us spiritually rotting, festering, and fouled. God uses Jesus’ story to convince us that, no matter the power of our minds to deny reality and our successes in building a perspective of life for ourselves that excludes God and God’s saving love for us, – no matter what God works to save us. Our sins are nailed to the cross. The illness of our spirits are healed. We are spiritually ‘circumcised’, so that God’s mark is made on us, a protection from all illness is provided to our souls, and we are set free to live as God created us to live: being the reflectors of, the voices of, and the hands of God’s saving love for all people.

Young William McCormick Sudbury, ON, with a group of two dozen people was awarded the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers this last Apri;. Only one piece of his volunteer, work McCormick started A Place to Call Their Home with his brother, with a goal of reaching out to underrepresented or underserved populations by sending care packages of school supplies, and providing clothing to groups in need. He said, “My parents have always tried to instill in us a deep sense of gratitude for the situation we’re in.” Then came his rare words of recognition of the blessings he enjoys through no merit of his own: “I’ve been provided a loving family and all the support I could ever need. It was really important to try to give back.”CBC Morning Brief <info@newsletters.cbc.ca> for Friday 20 May 2022

If we could only see the true reality of the day we face each day, and our place in it (for most of us that is a place of privilege so great it has been unimaginable for most humans who have ever lived!)

Since we rarely do see God’s reality for us which includes both our foul and festering souls and God’s healing, loving grace, God uses every means possible to open our eyes, ears, minds and souls to the day that comes our way.

Ready or not here it comes.

God’s Time

Thursday, May 19, 2022

No Matter the Darkness We Face,

God Keeps an Eye On Us,

a Gracious Eye.

Psalm 77:9-10

Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?’ Selah

And I say, ‘It is my grief that the right hand of the Most High has changed.’

Romans 5:20

But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more!

Words of Grace For Today

It hurts.

That sums up much of the evil that we encounter in life, whether we are the cause or others are the cause.

It hurts.

We cry to God, but it seems God does not answer.

Selah

[Selah is an unknown word in Hebrew that shows up as a refrain in the Psalms – ‘God be gracious!’ or ‘God hear us!’ … or it may mean ‘so it is’ … or it may just mean ‘Sigh!’ or some other onomatopoeia.]

There is nothing more hurtful than to have all the evidence before us that God has turned from us and condemned us, that God has ‘forgotten to be gracious and in anger shut up his compassion!

Were God to abandon us to our own ways and means and the Devil’s guile, deceptions, and seductions there would be no rescue, no respite, no release from such a terrible state.

In all circumstances, though, no matter who convinced we are otherwise, God does not abandon us. From all evil and the hurt it does to us people, God still reaps greater demonstrations of grace. While we dig ourselves deeper and deeper in the muck of life, God shows how powerful Jesus’ saving love is for us. God’s love is always more powerful than any evil we can make or be subject to.

A young man pulled a 32’ foot bumper pull camper in to the random camping area a few nights ago. He tried to pull it on the ‘Low Road’, through trees and turns that no one has ever even tried to pull a camper except for the first 30 feet, and that only with a 12’ camper. He did not smash the camper sides against any tree, though. Instead he caught the roots of the first tree with the hitch jack, bending it back 30⁰. Which means he probably did not have a weight distributing hitch in place. He left the foot by the root where it was ripped off the jack. The propane tanks were taken off and the regulator left hanging in disarray. The battery was missing as was the cover to the battery case. On one side half the lug nuts were missing on one wheel, and the lug nuts were loose on the other wheel (one barely still on it’s lug). A support set of boards, screwed together for stability was dropped 100’ away.

It had all the signs of being a stolen camper, though the young man and woman returned last night at 3 am, and ‘parked’ their big Ram truck next to the camper where they had left it, backed into Lake3 or Wet3, which is always soggy unless it’s near drought conditions. When they tried to pull out with the truck the front end sank into the soggy grass covered ground and (from the hours of the truck roaring ways) they spun it deeper and deeper into the muck.

This morning the truck sits on it’s oil pan and lower frame under the engine, a jack is set up half way back on one side, rocks and branches are on the ground or poked into the holes made by the wheels. A straight edge shovel stands poked into the soft ground.

He needs it lifted off the frame or a big tow truck to pull him out. By grace there are people who will help him, people who have big equipment. People who once helped me out of my folly of trying to pull a camper through soft sand. I had three days more to work my way out of that and the winch pulled the camper and truck back up on top the sand and out. The truck and camper were not bottomed out, though. I had enough sense not to keep spinning the wheels when there was no movement forward or back.

When we try to get ourselves out by spinning our wheels, they act as little shovels, round and round they go, digging a deeper hole in the muck of life, sending us deeper and deeper.

Selah.

Our only hope is help, help sent by God.

Grace abounds.

Love is more powerful than Evil.

God’s creative power flows through the universe, like a great big tow truck and winch, pulling us up out of the muck, healing and restoring us. The greater the mess we get ourselves into the more obvious the power of God’s great love becomes, as we are set free.

God’s right hand has not changed, neither God’s left.

Grace brings renewed life to us, every day and every moment that we need it, often before we know we need it so badly.

Be of good courage today, this is (another of) God’s time with us!

Dammed or Damned

Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Which would we rather,

to be dammed by ice and all that is not nice,

OR

to be damned by our own blindness and foolish ways?

Jeremiah 31:34

No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.

John 6:28-29

Then they said to him, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’ Jesus answered them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’

Words of Grace For Today

This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.’

Or to put it another way: It is God’s work, not ours, to believe in Jesus.

Here we see Jesus responding to questions that really have no good answer, not as those asking would understand what a good answer might be.

The person comes with a certain way of seeing the world. It is a very unhealthy, sometimes really destructive way of seeing the world. It is a common way of seeing the world. It is to see the world as if God really did not exist and as if God did not create the universe and everything in it and as if God did not love every person in ways we can at best imagine only a little bit.

One such common question is ‘How can I save myself and my family from the threat of the foreign powers that rule our world?’

There are lots of things that one could try to do. Maybe they are even possible to do. But none of them will save you from the real threats to you and your families lives, because the foreign powers are not the greatest or the worst threats to your lives. The greatest threat to life is always to assume one lives outside God’s favour, blessings and grace.

Another common enough question is, ‘How can I get a [fill in the romantic preference, girl/boy/woman/man/monkey (just kidding)] to fall in love with me?’

The reality is no one can get anyone else to fall in love with them. Often people think they can ‘trick’ or ‘seduce’ another person to love them, but the result cannot ever be love. It is much, much less and if it’s based on deception, it will always be destructive to all parties.

The right question is, ‘How can I love someone with all my being, even when they might never love me in return? And if they never do, can I then learn to love someone else with all my being?’

The answer to that question is simple: be honest, open, trustworthy, kind and … be yourself. Then if someone should love you, they will love the real you.

The tricky part of all these ‘love me’ questions is not the love part, it is being ‘me’, and being ‘me’ in such a way as to be the best that God created ‘me’ to be.

But, as is almost always the case when people ask important questions, the problem is in the person asking the question, not the world around them; and usually the problem is they have not figured out how to be themselves. They imitate, pretend, hope, and fail, but they never really know who they are.

So in the reading for today the people come to Jesus and ask, ‘What must we do to perform the works of God?’

Which is an odd question. They might mean, ‘what must we do to do what God would have us do?’ but instead they ask, ‘what must we do in order to do the things that only God can do?’

The obvious answer is ‘you cannot do a thing since you simply will never do God’s work for God’. God does that work just fine, thank you. And only God does that work.

But telling the people who are asking in earnest this odd question is not kind. So Jesus answers another question, perhaps a question the people meant to ask, and perhaps the question that they could have asked. Always Jesus answers the people with something that is REALLY important for them to hear.

So Jesus tells these inquisitive people: ‘God’s work is to believe in me, the one God sent to you!’

That’s what they need to hear. It’s all about believing in Jesus.

The thing they do not hear is this: only the Holy Spirit can bring a person to believe in Jesus. Oh, people, dear stumbling, controlling people. No one can bring themselves to believe. And look at all the work, the words, the movements, the effort spent over the last 2000 years to get people to believe in Jesus!

Writing long before Jesus’ day Jeremiah knew well what faith in God was all about. It is about God working in us all that God wills for us: that we know God and love God, ourselves, our neighbours and our enemies, and all creation! Jeremiah sees that God does it all for us: ‘No longer shall we teach one another, or say to each other, ‘Know the Lord’, for we shall all know God, from the least of us to the greatest, [as the Lord says]; for God, and God alone, will forgive our iniquity, and remember our sin no more.

Now that will be the day!

Be Careful What Success You Pray For?

Saturday, May 7, 2022

See the Light,

And God’s Hand.

All Things in God’s Hands.

Psalm 118:25

Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

Hebrews 13:20-21

Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Words of Grace For Today

What is success, that we ask God for it?

To save us is clear. We are in trouble (what’s new, mostly of our own doing) and we’ve exhausted our own ideas on getting ourselves back in the clear, so we turn to God, our last hope and refuge.

But to ask for success! That’s another huge step up the rung of audacity in begging from God!

Success as a Christian has always had the colour of offering oneself to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, which leads to a cross and sure death. Which, for most people, looks quite different than the success that we humans pursue in our short, cruel, and brutish existences on earth. Do we intend to ask for this success, that our lives be offered as a sacrifice so that others may live. NOT usually, unless …

unless the Holy Spirit guides us to understand and live out the love by which the world will know the followers of Jesus. This love is unconditional, self-sacrificial, life altering, powers undermining, universe transforming, living water love.

When that is the love we indeed live then the whole world is changed for us. The New Jerusalem is arrived and we are at home in it, and God dwells with us, and

wonders never cease.

For God has indeed made us complete in everything good so that we may do God’s will.

Examples are endless through the history of the saints.

Consider Chai-Shin Yu, who is an ordained (Korean) Presbyterian pastor and professor of Korean culture and religion as the University of Toronto. In 1950 the North Korean Communists invaded South Korea. Chai-Shin Yu, then a student and heavily involved in church work, managed to hide for some months, knowing that as a Christian he was a prime suspect. In September 1950, S. Korean and United Nations troops landed in Inchon Harbor and the N. Korean soldiers began to prepare their retreat. Yu was apprehended by the Chief of the Communist Intelligence Bureau and so began days of interrogation and torture. Finally, along with others, he was taken to what he was sure was the execution ground, for he could hear gunfire. Instead, he and the other captives were forced to carry arms & supplies for the retreating N. Korean soldiers! Day after day they were forced to carry heavy burdens, ever on the lookout for strafing American planes.

By early October they were deep in the mountains. They began to come upon wounded Communist soldiers abandoned by the side of the road. One wounded soldier was staring vacantly, his leg covered with clotted blood. But he seemed familiar, and Yu stopped to look in his face. He recoiled; it was the Chief of the Intelligence Bureau! “Move on,” Yu told himself, but a voice within replied, “no, his life can be saved if he gets some help.” So Yu argued within himself, until a voice said, “But don’t you believe in Jesus Christ? He told you to love your enemy. What would Jesus do if he were here?”

The Chief finally recognized Yu as the reactionary he had planned to kill. He closed his eyes, expecting to be killed in revenge. But Yu said, “Get on my back.” The argument raging inside him was resolved. After some persuading the wounded Chief crawled on his back. Yu’s feet were blistered and bleeding from 150 miles of dreadful walking, and he was exhausted. But he gritted his teeth and kept on. Once he tripped & they both fell. The Chief finally broke the silence. “Friend,” he said, “you know that I hated you and wanted to kill you, don’t you?” “Of course I do.” “Then why are you going to all this trouble to save me? All my fellow soldiers have deserted me. Why are you trying to save your enemy?”

After a long silence, Yu said, ” Love is stronger than hatred. Even though you planned to have me killed, I still love you. Love is stronger than death. I hate your hatred, but I love you as a person” The man wept and confessed, “I have killed so many people. I don’t deserve to be saved.” And they wept together.

They Yu took the Chief up again & moved on. Ten miles down the road he found an ambulance being repaired, & arranged to have his passenger taken to the Pyongyang Military Hospital. The Chief protested, “I won’t go to the hospital. I’d rather stay with you and die. Where ever you go, I want to go with you.” But Yu forced him into the ambulance. “You ought to live,” he insisted.

By the end of October Chai-Shin Yu & the others had walked 200 miles. During an attack by American paratroopers he escaped & walked all the way back to Seoul, and eventually was reunited with his family. (Source Unknown)

What’s On Your Invitation?

Thursday, May 5, 2022

This Was On My Latest Invitation.

I Keep Accepting Them.

This was one to a wood gathering party!

(The Parties are the BEST. I do the sweaty labour, God does the drinking, Works out the best for us all!)

And I Keep Getting New Invitations!

Isaiah 42:6

I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you;
I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.

Ephesians 3:12

We have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in Jesus.

Words of Grace For Today

When Sheila gave gifts they always spoke loudly of the strings she attached to them. She gave her husband, a high school math teacher, two airline tickets to Hawaii one Christmas, and a membership in a local fitness club. It went without saying that she expected him to get fit to show himself off in a bathing suit by the middle of February when they would be on their way to the sun and beaches and the surf.

Sheila gave her three kids full scholarships to the university of their choice along with memberships in the local chapter of the conservative political party. It went without saying that she expected each of them to pursue a career that would gain them recognition so that their contributions to returning the conservatives to government happened sooner rather than later. When her oldest daughter decided to major in philosophy, political science, and economics she was pleased. She was not as happy that her daughter chose the university most noted for it’s liberal, even socialist, professors. She didn’t know about the anarchist movement among the PPE students. When her daughter decided to continue on to law school, her mother was so proud. She even offered to pay for law school. Her daughter graduated at the top of her class and passed the bar in three provinces. And she accomplished the extraordinary: she passed the bar in three American states as well. About that time her second daughter was just finishing her degree in education. Her mom didn’t say much. But when her oldest, the lawyer, took work with the innocence project and then her second daughter started teaching in an inner city school, both living, working and contributing to political parties not their mother’s conservatives, she demanded they repay her for their education costs.

Both thanked her again for her generous support, and told her there was no way they would think of trying to repay her.

About then the youngest, Sheila’s only son, looked at what his mother was demanding of his older sisters. He passed on university and his plans to double major in architecture and engineering. Instead he took an apprenticeship. He figured he could work 5 years and save enough for his first year of university and maybe figured it out on his own from there to get his degree. He had no plans to owe his mother for anything, and he had no plans to join any political party. He volunteered at the local food bank and helped out at a weekly soup kitchen. His long term plan was to design and build low cost housing that promoted healthy living, but he’d never dared tell his mother that.

Sheila’s husband graciously accepted the airline tickets for two, visited the ‘fitness club’ of his choice, and in February took that trip to Hawaii with his ‘fitness’ club’s owner, who was two years younger than he was, but about as committed to nothing as anyone Sheila knew. After the first 5 hours he and the ‘fitness club’ owner agreed to go their separate ways. Sheila’s husband didn’t need to put on a swimsuit once during the vacation and he enjoyed every minute of it out in the sun and inside in the air conditioning. He’s filled for divorce and never looked back.

God gives us greater gifts. There are no hidden, unspoken expectations. There are no performance reviews, or right political party to join (though there may be a few not to join). God provides everything we need, and only asks (and asks clearly for anyone to hear who has ears to hear) that we share everything God gives us (less things and more so Grace, forgiveness, love and life abundant) with everyone we possibly can figure out how to share them with.

Most importantly God takes us by the hand and guides us, if we but listen. We are not on our own, ever. Secondly, God does not deal with us so graciously so that we can hide it all under a bushel basket in the back yard and pretend that life is somehow the same. Everything is different, not because we have earned it or changed, or done the right things, or not even that we’ve believed the right things. What changed is that we have acknowledged that God is there with us.

God presents us, like any proud parent would, to the world. God is not bragging about us, but showing off what God can do … with sinners like us. God invites the nations into God’s kingdom of grace. God puts us on the invitations as examples of how life is good for those who acknowledge, with boldness and confidence through faith in Jesus, all that God has done for us!

Have you seen the invitation with your name on it, or are you still trying to ignore it? First God wants to give you everything that life has to offer and then God wants to show you off as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations.

Get used to it, it’s not about you.

Where From the New Song?

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

Snow Falls,

New Winter,

Like Every Spring,

Life Happens,

Neurodiverse People Give Us New Songs,

We Sing

Wonderfully Creative

Songs of

Thanks and Praise

Isaiah 42:10

Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth!
Let the sea roar and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.

Colossians 1:21-23

And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him— provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel.

Words of Grace For Today

Colossians puts it right: God reconciles us to Godself, we who were once estranged and hostile in mind [and often physically against God’s people.]

Then the writer goes off the ‘Jesus rails’! The writer makes our being reconciled conditional on our continued life of faith, without shifting from the hope proclaimed to all creatures. No, no way. If our salvation (our being reconciled to God) is conditional on how we continue, then we are all hopelessly toasted! None of us can do our way forward on our own continually doing the right things as God would have us. We always remain sinners, very good sinners, too.

We are saved by grace alone!

Paul became a servant of the gospel of Jesus, as many of us even today.

Because God reconciles us, therefore we can sing a new song to God, each day.

CBC Ideas presents 29 April Part 1, and 4 May Part 2 [yet to be broadcast at this writing – available only for about a month], Myth of Normal reclaiming Autism, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and Dyslexia as evolutionary advantages, exactly those that have helped humans flourish! “Neurodiversity” as the gifts that helped and help us adapt to rapid changes.

The restless gene, the nomadic gene, helps us regulate dopamine, reward and pleasure; those with less sensitivity to dopamine, the neurodiverse, need more endless and exciting stimuli to feel good, rewarded. Today it’s thought to be the source of ADHD.

The big bang of the human mind is recognized as that moment when persons started to have an inner voice, thought of self and reflection of one in the world around; and then human thought flourishes and develops.

So these are God’s gifts to us all, Autism, ADHD, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and Dyslexia: “Neurodiversity” of all kinds.

Without them we humans many not have survived at all, and with them we homo-sapiens flourished through the last 50,000 years.

We can all sing new songs. That’s quite easy, and doable, given God’s blessings.

Even us neurodiverse can sing a new song to God, in fact we are the ones who create those new songs!

Come sing, sing a new song.

Peace, Here and Now! ?

Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Peace

of the

Holy Hermitage’s

Meadow

Isaiah 2:4

He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Acts 10:36

You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all.

Words of Grace For Today

In the quiet of the hermitage, holy by years of holy celebrations, the rain fell mixed with snow, and chilled the air, still above freezing.

This is peace.

This is peace,

For there is no war,

not here.

This is peace,

For there is no one seeking to kill me,

not right now, right here … that I know of.

This is peace,

For in the cool of the evening just begun the warmth from the woodstove promises safety and comfort against any chilling cold.

This is peace,

For there is plenty of clean water, plenty of healthy food and drink, and plenty of work to do so that boredom and lack of purpose have no purchase here … for now.

This is peace,

For the wind that has beat the tarps about is calmed, and the music of the meadow is natural other than the fans to cool the solar power systems, and they are reminders of what can be done with next to no carbon footprint.

This is peace,

For this is what God has provided, for this day, hear and now.

This is peace, for come what may, God walks with me in this meadow and beyond, as God walks with you where you are and beyond.

For all this we give God endless praise and thanks.

There are so many places and times that are not peace.

We remember the people who suffer

causing the lack of peace, and

those suffering the lack of peace.

For them we pray this day, that God will provide them peace, and a peace that ends violence and suffering.

Remembering Who We Are!

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

We are,

by Grace Alone,

Those Who Reflect

God’s Blessing for Us

to All People.

Joshua 23:8

But hold fast to the Lord your God, as you have done to this day.

2 Corinthians 3:5

Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God.

Words of Grace For Today

How does one remain focused, determined, clear headed, and adamantly sure of one’s identity when …

when one’s very physical existence is challenged each day by hunger (can faith feed one’s body?),

when one’s very physical existence is challenged each day by the struggle to survive in an environment that would do one in were one not vigilant, determined, and persistently at work preparing for the next challenge to life itself (can faith protect one from minus 40⁰ cold, plus 40⁰ heat, wasps, mosquitoes, bear, and coyotes?),

when one’s very physical existence is challenged each day by dependence on the good will of those who would strip one of any identity they cannot bear to acknowledge (can faith please the demands to be other than faithful, when those demands are made by those who provide the necessities of life?),

when one’s very physical existence is challenged each day by the overwhelming apparent ‘successes’ of those who have surrendered their identity to become other than God’s people and the overwhelming apparent ‘failure’ of one’s own life while maintaining one’s identity as God’s chosen, forgiven, restored, and sent messenger of Grace embodied in thought, word and deed? (Can faith provide success when there is none in the past, present, or future to be seen?)

Old Joshua, after years of leading the people to conquer and claim their place in the Promised Land, reminds the people to remember Moses’ Law and not to deviate to the beliefs of the foreigners taken into their midst and the ways of their new neighbours.

Paul reminds the cantankerous Corinthians to trust that their competence in all matters depends not on themselves, but on God’s work in and through them.

Does that help us maintain our faith and identity, when it is under siege? Will God send us a competent new ‘Joshua’ to lead us to claim a place in our ‘Promised Land?’ Is there a ‘Promised Land’ for us here on earth?

Will God provide clarity in Moses’ Law (interpreted through Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection) for us so that we will receive justice when we stand before the courts that continually work from the lies presented to them, and the lies they add on to the pile of lies, to further rob the security of life that even the government would provide to seniors caught in poverty, a poverty created by the courts injustice?

Does Moses’ Law (interpreted through Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection) or God’s competence build us sufficient shelter each season to protect us from the increasingly dangerous climate and the animals of the wilderness?

Does Moses’ Law (interpreted through Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection) or God’s competence preserve our identity and continue to provide us the basics of life in the face of our generous providers who demand we become someone else, more like them as hypocrites who profess faith in God and yet live by lies and destruction of others to cover their sins, instead of accepting forgiveness and restoration and being that restored truth-justice-grace for all other people?

These all seem to be impossibilities that leave us vulnerable to the demands and challenges placed on us by the injustice based on lies worked against us.

This is not the end of the story! Not by any means!

God sends messengers to revive faith in us amidst the greatest challenges.

A scriptural passage, a devotion, a commentary, an insightful sermon, a soul probing song and melody, a book, a news report, a quote: all of these God uses to restore faith in us, to remind us of who (and whose) we are, and to rejuvenate hope in us, a hope that carries us forward through all challenges, blessed to be a blessing to all people.

Malala Yousafzai Malik is one such person. Her book, I Am Malala, is full of inspiration as she spoke out for education for girls (and boys). Wikipedia provides the following among many words about her that inspire one to persevere as God’s chosen:

She left Jon Stewart speechless when she described her thoughts after learning the Pakistani Taliban wanted her dead, saying:

I started thinking about that, and I used to think that the Talib would come, and he would just kill me. But then I said, ‘If he comes, what would you do Malala?’ then I would reply to myself, ‘Malala, just take a shoe and hit him.’ But then I said, ‘If you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there would be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and that much harshly, you must fight others but through peace and through dialogue and through education.’ Then I said I will tell him how important education is and that ‘I even want education for your children as well.’ And I will tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.”

Stewart visibly moved by her words ended the conversation saying: “I am humbled to speak with you.

Stewart would again have her as a guest on the show after the 2015 Charleston Church Shooting, in which he started the show citing no jokes saying, “our guest is a incredible person who suffered unspeakable violence by extremists and her perseverance and determination through that to continue on is an incredible inspiration and to be quite honestly with you, I don’t think there’s anyone else in the world I would rather talk to tonight than Malala so that’s what we’ll do and sorry about no jokes.”

In the face of violence that threatens her life, she would eschew violence of any kind and speak, offering education and then say ‘now do what you want.’

May we all acknowledge that we have the Peace of God, the competence of God, the guidance in the Law of Moses which we need in order to remain faithful, always, even in the face of those who would kill us, undo us, try to corrupt us, and name us as failures.

So we pray: Help us Lord, to remember the successes you have brought in our lives to many others, the faith you have shared with many through us, and the hope that you have poured through us to so many people. In gratitude we acknowledge all your people whose thoughts, words and deeds inspire us (and many others) to trust in your promises to walk with us, and, in the end, to bring us home with all the saints in light.

Silence! But the Hills Sing!

Monday, April 25, 2022

Always the Blues

Always the Light

of Christ

Guiding Us Onward Into the Day.

1 Chronicles 16:31

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord is king!’

Matthew 28:18-20

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

Words of Grace For Today

In our lives there are all sorts of challenges to finding one’s way forward to a life of purpose, meaning, and maybe even success.

There are plenty of songs about those challenges and the Covid pandemic has certainly made clear for us how these challenges play out for us. Take all those challenges and add isolation and separation and the risk of breathing one’s last in great pain, or recovering and suffering long-Covid for years and … well it’s just overwhelming.

We want to speak out, and have for years, about the lies made up about us, the lack of truth in so many times and places, lies told to help others accumulate money and power. Yet our voices are taken from us. Our words squashed into oblivion.

Our words echo in the wells of silence … as if the best we can do is get them whispered in the sound of silence.

In this place with no voices, a deserted place, this wilderness of a ‘twilight zone’ where nothing is real and everything stands against us no matter what we do … and so little makes any sense, we are just about to give up hope until …

Just when every ray of hope was gone, I should have known that you’d come along, I can’t believe I ever doubted you, my old friend the blues.

We think there is nothing and then we realize that this is as good as it gets and we still have one friend left.

Another lonely night, a nameless town, if sleep don’t take me first you’ll come around, ‘cause I know I can always count on you, my old friend the blues.

All the other people in our lives drift away, if they ever were really an actual part of our lives.

Lovers leave and friends’ll let you down, but you’re the only sure thing that I’ve found. No matter what I do, I’ll never lose my old friend the blues.

Yes, at least we have our old friend the blues.

Except, God knows this about us as well, and the blues are not the only one who sits through the lonely, sleepless nights, with us. In this place with no voices, a deserted place, this wilderness of a ‘twilight zone’ where nothing is real and everything stands against us, God sits with us as well, keeping watch, looking for ways to inspire us to live fully, no matter what our past is like, no matter what will come in our futures.

While we may end up down in the dumps, all around us the heavens are glad, and the earth rejoices, they say among the nations, ‘The Lord is king! And the hills, mountains, lakes, rivers, trees and meadows resound with the chorus ‘The Lord is King!’

If only we had ears to hear!

For now, we pray, Lord Jesus, take my hand and lead me, whither I do not know, but teach me to trust your guiding hand, to share your Grace and love with all peoples.

Maybe there’ll be a bit of chicken for lunch, and juice for supper with popcorn. These are the blessings of God, walking with me.

For this is as good as it gets.

So we learn to speak truth into the silence, welcome the blues, and watch for the dawn to break in on another day where God’s glory is everywhere, and, even if we are alone, we see God everywhere, as the deer graze the meadow and the rabbit nibbles an early meal, and geese fly from nest to food and back, here in God’s own country.