Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 10

Friday, July 10, 2020

Elijah’s Chair

Thankful for the Ice Break up.

Psalm 145:4

One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.

2 Corinthians 4:15

Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Words of Grace For Today

We all sin.

That is a given.

God works to save us from our sin. There is no greater work of God than to save one person from sin.

These mighty acts God repeats innumerable times each day for each person. And each person that acknowledges this, who confesses those sins that are already forgiven, receives an overwhelming flood of gratitude.

There, into the cesspool of Hell, with it’s never ending fires, the stink, and the selfishness astounding even the most seasoned resident, each of us would quickly and permanently slide, if it were not for the Grace bought and paid for by Jesus on the Cross for all of us. See that terrible car crash where a truck T-boned the car mere feet in front of you. You live. They die. If one is not caught by survivor’s guilt, or perhaps even so, one celebrates life. Floods of gratitude and appreciation for all that life is, flow over one until one feels drowned back to life by life’s goodness. One makes calls and mends fences long broken. One re-organizes one’s priorities. One gives genuine thanks for life.

When one realizes the hell Jesus saves one from, a hell one clearly deserves, then one is more thankful than ever before in life.

Sin, Grace, Gratitude, for more and more people. For Christ forgives us and gives us new life so that we can share Jesus’ old, old story with more and more people.

Sing the Hallelujah again, and again!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – June 24

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

The Word

The Weeds

and Us

Vs

Anti-Creation

Isaiah 61:11

For as the earth brings forth its shoots, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to spring up, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations.

James 3:18

A harvest of righteousness is sown in peace for those who make peace.

Words of Grace For Today

Dandelions spring up everywhere, showing their pretty yellow faces. Their beauty is often appreciated by children who pick them as bouquets for their mothers or fathers. Their potential is realized by those who dare make wine of them.

Otherwise they are a foreign species with not enough natural deterrents, so that they overwhelm any piece of ground they grow in and they become an infestation that is difficult to remove without actions approaching ‘scorched earth’ results.

There is enough evil evident in the police. The real root is in the courts, which allow the tactics of the police to go unchecked. It is a pervasive hatred, a racism, a bigotry, a bias that can exist only as it is supported by the courts. The courts uphold this attitude in the practice of law and prosecution, which upholds this attitude in the police from top to bottom: it is an attitude of zero-sum thinking. If we are not holding the hoards in check they will take everything we have from us. It is the wealthy protecting themselves and the courts protecting the wealthy.

Against this powerful and destructive evil, God brings us, like dandelions, those that bear righteousness into this world where righteousness is so foreign an idea (except to be beaten down) yet alone a thing to comprehend, realize or nurture.

In the grass of God’s good creation, the dandelions of righteousness are not an invasive species out of their natural ecosystem.

God’s righteousness is the proper species of every part of creation, which always behaves in those areas where evil has flourished, as an invader, a conqueror, a re-claimer of life back to it’s creator.

We pray, may we choose today, no matter the challenges, risk or sure loss to ourselves, that we would be the agents, supporters, and advocates of God’s righteousness.

Covid 19 is real, really deadly to some, pervasively spread before the carrier is symptomatic; but Covid 19 is only a small attention-getter and warning, compared to God’s Word of righteousness that awaits us all. Be safe. Act wisely. Protect others,

from Covid 19 which can kill or maim the body, but even more so from the Evil that kills the soul, the light, the awareness of God’s Good Creation all around us, and therewith our hope of responding well to God’s awesome Grace.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – June 6

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Bown Shaken but Not Down

Wind Blown Grass and Trees

God is not shaken

though the whole world be shaken off its axis.

Covid-19 shakes nothing when God stands still.

Daniel 4:3

How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his sovereignty is from generation to generation.

Hebrews 12:28

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe;

Words of Grace For Today

What shakes in your life?

When the wind blows and catches the solar panels on the roof this whole place rocks. The first time the 50 km winds did that, with 90 km winds in the forecast, I climbed out into the blowing snow and ice cold biting wind. I looked at what was shaking me in my boots.

It didn’t take long to figure out what was happening. Solid anyway I thought. Then I retraced the steps I had taken to face the solar panels into the winter sun that barely peeked above the treetops for a few minutes. I remembered how I had anchored everything solidly … and I remembered how the cold and the onset of dark had rushed me. While the front side was anchored solidly to the frame that held all the solar panels to the rooftop, and that was only probably solid enough to stand up to a 100 km wind, I had just left the back side resting on that frame of piping.

So was! The panels all together stood nearly vertically six feet above the roof and five feet wide. That’s a lot of sail force on that frame holding the panels.

It had inherent limits being on the roof anchored to the piping that held everything in place, AND the back side (in the direction the most powerful winds could hit – since there were trees disrupting the wind in the other direction) was just sitting there!

I was lucky it had not just up’ed and walked off the roof top smashing, twisting and ruining everything in its path!

So was!

I had found an abandoned 1″ thick rope a few months earlier. Not friendly to hands, it seemed tough enough, at least it looked tough. I grabbed it and let go of it right away. Then I put on my gloves first and grabbed it, ran out into sharp cold, and ran that rope from the top of the solar panel frame to the one tree that stood close on the side where the wind was blowing from. The next day I anchored it around both sides of the top of the panel and back to the tree. Done.

.

It still shook when the winds kicked up. I no longer was alarmed. Maybe I should have been? The whole set up is different now, but the rope is back in place, and when it shakes, I go right back to what I am doing.

Trust.

in an old rope.

in a tree, which is still alive, unlike it’s neighbours.

in my ingenuity … well not really. I’m just too tired to think how to make it better and then get out and make it so. Soon, one of these days. Maybe when the rain stops.

.

God’s Kingdom is not shaken. It does the shaking throughout the whole universe. Wisdom begins with fear of the Lord, and needs love of the Lord (based on the Lord’s love of us) to grow.

All around, even as Covid 19 shakes us, or it should, God’s wonders are worth being awestruck by. The rope may last another day or so, or a year. But God’s unshakability lasts forever. From generation to generation God rules the universe.

For this we can stand in awe and give God praise and thanks.

There is no wind, or virus, or evil that comes against us that God is not more powerful than.

Covid 19 has shown we can meet the emissions targets set by the U.N. Maybe, just maybe, we will learn to keep it up even as the economies restart, and hopefully grow.

Then the winds may not continue to become more and more ferocious. And we can stand in thankful awe of God’s power, instead of in awful fear of what we’ve brought the environment to do to try to be rid of our destructive ways.

We can

trust

.

God

..

above all else

and count our blessings … they never stop. God is not shaken as more and more blessings pour over us, for us to share with others.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – May 28

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Water, Water, Everywhere

No one to bring me to the water

and it’s all frozen hard.

Help.

Help us all through the ice of sin and shame.

Psalms 25:16

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.

John 5:7-8

The sick man answered him, ‘Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Stand up, take your mat and walk.’

Words of Grace For Today

If ever there were a time when loneliness and afflictions were shared by so many people, even those who are not caught alone by the Covid 19 restrictions!

So we pray: God turn to us/to me, be gracious to us/to me. We’ve waited years for someone to carry us to the living water and immerse us in it so that our body, mind, and soul could be healed. Now we know, we only need Jesus to speak a Word, and we will be made whole again.

We are, since our baptisms, the hands, feet, and voice of Christ, anointed to bring the living Word to those in need.

Stand up, be counted among the saints, and speak.

Today speak with the holy healing whispers of the wind as the Spirit inspires you.

So many people thirst for the water that will make them whole.

Today speak of the water that overflows our cups giving all more than enough to drink.

So many people hunger to hear the word that will make them whole.

Today speak simple words of Jesus’ love renewed yet again in us, for all people.

Today, be God’s grace for others. ‘Pay the rent on the air you breathe’ today by doing Grace.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – May 11

Monday, May 11, 2020

Tree of Life, Since Forever

From of Old

From of Now

From of Then

Psalms 44:2

We have heard with our ears, O God, our ancestors have told us, what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old.

Luke 10:39

She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying.

Words of Grace For Today

We have received great gifts from God … many through other faithful people.

We have received the ability:

To listen …

To learn …

To listen to Jesus …

To listen to our ancestors …

What would happen if we could listen to the generations yet to come?

God has performed many great deeds, that we remember, that we can listen to as others tell the stories handed down for generations.

“In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, … God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good….”

“A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there …. When the Egyptians treated us harshly … we cried to the Lord…. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey….”

“In the night in which he was betrayed, Jesus took bread and gave thanks …”

God has preformed many great deeds even in our time that we can share with each other and give time to listen to and learn from.

An elderly woman’s car would not start in the grocery store parking lot. Covid 19 limited the interactions others could have with her … still a man noticed her distress, walked over and offered to help. Diagnosing it as a battery too drained to start her car, he offered and then insisted that he would run home, grab some jumper cables and set it right. She suggested instead that she could call AMA. He said it was not necessary. Within minutes her car started and he advised her to take a drive to recharge the battery. It worked.

A long term care facility was, like all others, cut off from everyone except the workers coming and going. A staff person volunteered her iPhone to allow video calls to family and the staff started collecting contact numbers for each resident. Even though many suffer dementia they are afraid and lonely. Now they are connected again regularly with family.

With the increased danger of wild fires, a resident of a spread out rural community started noticing almost no one had ‘fire safe’ areas around their properties or homes. He organized a list of the elderly who needed the help first, a list of the properties that needed and wanted help fire-safe-ing, and a list of equipment available. Coordinating it all, with safe physical distances maintained, he organized equipment, people and locations to do the minimum fire-safe work. Almost done, he’s starting a list of more thorough fire-safe-ing and wide fire break paths to stop a wildfire from spreading over more than a quarter section. Of course that is getting organized as well. Everyone contributes. Everyone is safer. There is less risk that a wildfire will necessitate an evacuation, or if it does that any property will be damaged by anything other than smoke.

What stories of God’s great deeds can you share? What stories of God’s great deeds have you listened to and learned from?

What if we could also listen to those from future generations, looking back at our time, so that we could listen, learn, and live more responsibly.

Are we listening?

Are we learning?

Yearning 3

Yearning for Everythings to be put Right

In darkness of our enemies’ making
we are yearning for the light,
for the moon to shine,
for the end of night.

A Little more moon

We are yearning for things

Skewed by the Devil’s might

to be put back right.

Christ alone can douse us rags

in the Spirit’s precious light,

safe in God’s forgiving crags,

resetting all things coloured bright.

All Right?

Yearning 2

Yearning for Everythings to be put Right

In darkness of our own making
we are yearning for the light,
for the moon to shine,
for the end of night.

moon shine, moon light

We are yearning for things

Skewed by the Devil’s might

to be put back right.

Christ alone can douse us rags

in the Spirit’s precious light,

safe in God’s forgiving crags,

resetting all things coloured bright.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – May 5

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

God Created Wondrously and Created us in God’s own Image

Job 9:8 – 9

God alone stretched out the heavens and trampled the waves of the Sea; God made the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the chambers of the south.

Colossians 1:15-16

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.

Words of Grace For Today

There are endless wonders visible to us in creation.

Covid 19 has throttled back our use of fossil fuels. Out of country flights are cancelled across the planet. In country travel is limited to essential movement only.

Gasoline sells for on average between 71.6 and 94.9 per litre. I bought gas for $.43 last week! The price I used to pay was as high as $1.20, and usually around $.95. Oil sold last week under $13 a barrel. It was as high as $113 in 2011 and from 2010 to 2019 averaged $72.5.

This virus has given us a reason to give creation a reprieve from our onslaught of carbon emissions. Areas that have had impossible air pollution over the past decades are showing air qualities the likes of which 40 year-olds have never seen there! That certainly is not the intent, but it’s likely a better reason for the global economic lock-down!

See https://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/covid-19-air-pollution-1.5501810 for some astounding images of air pollution clearing.

The real connection is interesting. Air pollution taxes our immune systems, making us more vulnerable, also to viruses like the corona virus of Covid 19.

The wonders of creation in Canada are all around us, especially if you live outside the cities, near a real lake or near the mountains. Others cannot travel to enjoy this, but even in the cities there are parks where one can (still) walk by yourself or with your family, as long as one keeps physical distance from others.

The greatest marvel is that of all the wonders God created, God created us humans in God’s own image. We are not to try to be gods as if we were creators or controllers or destroyers of all creation. The later we’ve come close enough to accomplishing in this last century. This is the evil in us destroying all things around us, as we rationalize that we are doing what is necessary and good.

Humans are again and again capable of extra-ordinarily reflecting God’s Grace for each other, and for creation.

We notice these. Celebrate these. Share these. And we overflow with thanks and gratitude for the wonders of all creation, from sky to sea, to mountains, to the sinner/saints we see each day.

Finding One’s Way

As the Seasons Turn

The leaves, after the cool nights, turned colours

leading one to believe fall had arrived.

Have the seasons shifted earlier, like puberty, with the age of maturity now put off into the 30’s if not 60’s or not at all?

It’s not Fall for another 10 days, and the leaves turned first at the beginning of the month.

Do we need to know, or would it just be nice, comforting? Like finding that trail marker after three hours of hiking not seeing anything, walking for hours on what appears to be a mere animal trail up the side of the mountain, with just the right angle to keep it not too steep.

The woods’ floor covered without a hint of a trail.

Days like that march into months and years of any normal life, if one cares to actually ask something serious about knowing yourself. Which way ought one turn, this way towards quick success at projects completely owned by a multi-national company driven to earn profits for the shareholders on the backs and lives of the employees, sharing the ‘wealth’ along the way with enough employees for people to convince themselves the project may even be valuable?

Or does one stay true to one’s well known self and work for peanuts, sometimes cashews, or even weak crackers, like for a parrot, except one gets to speak one’s mind intelligently, clearly, with deeply rooted integrity? The price is one may never be listened to, and one easily goes hungry, dropping off everyone’s radar into obscure poverty in old age. But one’s path will always be interesting, or better described, one’s path will always be enthralling, for the matter of each day is not just to plod on with some promised reward, but the project is to have a project worth the life one gives to it. By definition that must be fully engaging.

Can one find that path?

Colourful Challenging

Or, in truth, can one stand to continually struggle to avoid this path? This is what we all were created to be and do. To settle for other is to run out of sync with life, like a two propeller airplane setting up vibrations that can rip the whole plane, the whole plain life, apart. Even far short of that total disaster there is the profound dis-ease of living with the noise and vibrations of a life lived out of sync with creation.

Once one learns to live in sync, like a pilot that finally learns without thinking to set the props in sync, that ease and sense of oneness compared to the jarring throbs of being out of sync remind one that when God finished each day of creation God said, “It is good!”

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