He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.
He said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand?
Words of Grace For Today
The imagination runs wild, how the celebration would fill the universe, and our lives from bottom to top.
God’s victory … doesn’t look quite like we imagine. It’s the look of a double victory: first that justice is done, and truth wins out! Our enemies no longer can do us harm.
The second part of the double victory is that our enemies are forgiven, redeemed, and set free to reflect God’s Grace to all people.
This is the Light of Christ.
We do not put a lamp under a bushel, especially not in the dark evenings and mornings of winter as we approach Advent.
Neither is God going to put the Light of Christ, nor the fragile vessels that reflect it to the world, under a bushel, especially not in the dark days of … winter, or politicians who want to Gaslight the whole world by not acting responsibly in the face of Covid 19, or people drowning in other’s lies.
Christ’s Light is good, always, but especially in the dark days like today.
Pray that God’s double victory comes soon to our enemies, for the light of life is almost extinguished in the dark of winter.
Pray that God places the Light of Christ high over us, that all may see God’s justice, truth, and unconditional love.
For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.
As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
Words of Grace For Today
The world values people that are high and mighty.
God values the contrite and humble. Jesus comes to redeem the world: as a physician comes to heal not the healthy, but those who are ill, Jesus comes to be with sinners, those the world does not value.
Some describe God’s attitude towards people, and towards us, as a preferential option for the poor.
However we describe God’s attitude to us, it is clear that while we favour power, might, wealth, and fame; God favours the outcasts, the marginalized, and the poor.
God works through the power of love, not the power of might, through the power of self sacrifice, not the power of sacrificing others. Instead of asking us to do what needs to be done, God rescues us from what binds us to sin, and enables us to do God’s work in this world for Christ.
The maker of the universe finds us so valuable, that God comes to be with us.
The rest is the old, old story, of Jesus and his love, already present at the beginning of the universe.
What a life God gives us, which through steps and missteps we find filled with love and renewal.
To Make Our Way with Hate and Vengeance and Injustice
To Abide in God’s Blessings and Love, Shared With All People,
For which do you think God created the universe?
So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.
1 John 4:16
So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.
Words of Grace For Today
There is a lot of excrement that people produce from their hearts, minds and strength, which has nothing to do with the digestive system.
Trying to make one’s way through it each day is a huge challenge.
We can see that challenge as the evil created by others, which impedes our progress in life, so that we respond with hate and vengeance and injustice in our futile efforts to make right what is wrong.
Or we can see the challenge as a dance, in which God enables us to participate, with the goal not to put it all right. Rather we participate in the dance of life each day in such a way as to reflect God’s love for those excrement makers, God’s unconditional love for them … and for us.
We know that dancing, especially into old age (80’s and 90’s), provides tremendous benefits to one’s body and one’s mind … and to the love one has for one’s gracious partner, who can move in response to the music, the words if there are any, and to the ‘traffic conditions’ on the dance floor.
Viewing life as a dance around the Devil’s Work, the excrement abundant, brings great benefit to one’s heart, mind, and strength. Thus we are able to bless God, God’s people, and all creation, and to lift up one’s hands in thanks, joy, and hope as we call on God’s name, in whom we abide, and who abides always in us.
We are not ever alone.
No matter the lies told about us. No matter the false convictions against us. No matter the Gaslighting directed against us. No matter the Devil’s attacks on us in all guises.
No matter the isolation and distance required by sensible Covid 19 restrictions, we are not ever alone.
God walks with us each hour of every day.
Fearing and loving God, how then would we choose to live: filled with hate,
filled with love?
How do you choose again this day?
If you choose to fear and love God, then reach out to others, and share God’s love, unconditionally.
He changes times and seasons, deposes kings and sets up kings; he gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.
They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb: ‘Great and amazing are your deeds, Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, King of the nations! Lord, who will not fear and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you, for your judgments have been revealed.’
Words of Grace For Today
While it is so easy to proceed through life under the illusion that one has made one’s own success, or to accept that one should have and failed by not making one’s own success; this is the curse of persistent evil from generation to generation. We learn that one must work hard. The modern myth is that everyone is equal and has equal opportunity; thus those that are wealthy, powerful, and famous have done something to make it so for themselves. And everyone else has failed to live life the way it should be lived.
God gives us all sorts of signs, messages, and roadblocks in life to help us see that God alone determines who the powerful are, and which powerful people fall. God alone gives knowledge and wisdom to whom he chooses – though it is not the self-help book kind of pull yourself up and make something of yourself. God alone changes times and seasons
(though one has to wonder if Daylight Savings Time is not the work of the devil to disrupt our lives on such a fundamental basis – all so that the wealthy can become wealthier, at the expense of the safety and sanity of the populous.)
God alone is pure holy. God alone judges the nations. God alone is just and true, always.
Wealth, power, and fame may seem to be attractive, something to strive for, something to covet. Who would not wish that life be at least a bit, if not considerably more comfortable, secure, controlled, and longer. This is not, though, what God created us for.
God created us to worship and praise God, in all we say, do and hope for. God makes it possible for us wretched sinners to do this, by Grace alone, through Jesus’ sacrifice to redeem us and free us from our sins.
So what will you do this day?
Will you strive to make your own way in life? And take the credit for your success … or for your failure to become wealthy, powerful, and/or famous?
Or will you give God thanks and praise for all the life, the gifts, and the wisdom that God pours out on you each day?
The sinner in us will certainly strive to make itself.
The child of God, saint by God’s Grace, will recognize the giver of everything
with a grateful heart
and with a voice, with hands, and with feet that reflect Christ’ Grace to everyone.
We are simultaneous saint and sinner, all the time, everyone of us. We can but beg for God’s mercy, grace and love.
To be Fearless in All Things or to Fear and Love God at All Times,
For which do you think God created the universe?
O fear the Lord, you his holy ones, for those who fear him have no want.
At the time for the dinner he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, “Come; for everything is ready now.”
Words of Grace For Today
To Fear God; this is the ancient, constant beginning of awareness of God. We lived on the plains, lived in caves, hunted for food, were hunted as food. Fear kept us alive. We could not understand many things of the world around us. We came to know that God created us, that God who created us was an awesome power, more fearful than the animals that hunted us for food. It took generations for us to begin to understand that God loved us, and that fear alone was inadequate a response to God’s love. We needed to fear and love God.
To fear and love God; this is the beginning and the end of all our lives and our purpose in creation.
While food does not come our way freely so that we must work constantly in order to have food to survive, God provides the food of life that nourishes us beyond the basic physical needs. For God created us hungry for truth, order, understanding, community, and love.
God sets the table for us again and again, to come and eat so that we can know truth, see and maintain order and gain a fuller understanding of the universe and our places in it. God feeds us so that we can dance our way through the challenges of community, and so that we can love as God loves us, freely and unconditionally.
Fear drives us. Love draws us. Together they help us sustain life for ourselves and those with us, and hopefully for all people.
How will you live this day, and all the days you have on earth?
Will you be fearless in the face of all challenges, diving headfirst into Evil’s temptations to be your own godlet?
Or will you fear and love God, the God who created the universe, and loves you and all people, and all creation, unconditionally?
If we fear and love God we can do no other than commit ourselves to living out the gifts God gives us, by promising: to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.
For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, so that I may not cut you off.
2 Timothy 1:9
God saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.
Words of Grace For Today
It is a marvellous thing that God does for us, saving us and calling us (as God’s children) to a holy calling.
God does this for us.
We do not earn it, or deserve it. We can take no credit for it, not in the least.
With Jesus’ life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension we encounter God in a new way; yet God did not change to meet us in this new way, living the life of a human being. Indeed God’s Grace made so clear in Jesus’ story, was God’s Grace for us since the beginning of creation.
Why does God do this for us?
God does this because God chooses to do this; God defers God’s anger, restrains it toward us, so that we and the whole creation can sing God’s praise. Dead people do not sing. People who receive Grace have every reason to sing and sing at every opportunity!
Pastor Erin from Trinity Edmonton preached a sermon 15 November 2020 on Jesus’ parable of the talents given to three servants, and the condemnation of the servant who hid his talent in the ground, instead of investing it. Her point was that the traditional interpretation of this as a parable about ‘investing’ our gifts in order to return even more to God is wrong. Instead it is a parable about denouncing the greed and avarice of the owner that demands unfair use be made of millions given to the servants. The owner’s condemnation of the servant who ‘plants’ his owner’s talents in the ground is all wrong; in fact that servant rightly refused to participate in the avarice of using wealth against others to multiply one’s wealth. But Pastor Erin insisted, since the parable was told by Jesus long before capitalism it was not a parable against capitalism. She said the point of the parable was: we need to subvert systems that take advantage of poor people. We must tear down these systems and replace them with ways of being equitable and fair to all people.
Which is interesting if poorly stated. What’s missing is that as Lutherans we proclaim that we are saved by GRACE, and Grace alone. We are not save by what we do, or how we think rightly, or how we subvert unjust systems … nor MUST we do anything. Trouble is so many pastors are ready to ‘tell us’ what we ‘must do, think or believe.’
Worst of all, what Erin and others preach is simply another form of telling us what we must do in order to please Jesus and God and thereby earn God’s favour. It is a futile exercise in the ‘power’ of the office of ministry entrusted to a pastor. This is all Law, in the most destructive, subversive way: debunk traditional interpretation of scripture and then point to what Jesus ‘said’ with a parable (interpreted through one’s own eyes/history/perspective/drive/hates/self-chosen-life-purposes) we must do as Christians, so that people will make changes to the perverse and evil world order that we live under.
God, fortunately, does not wait for us to subvert unjust systems, as just as those actions may be; God acts first, not by overpowering or undercutting or destroying unjust systems and the people who support them and benefit from them. God acts by graciously forgiving, renewing and guiding us, all of us.
Therefore we are free to think differently about unjust systems, and in thinking differently we change how we interact with them; which forces the systems to change in response to us.
Jesus tells parables in such a way as to shock his listeners into imagining that something can be different, that God enables us to be different, that God enables us to be God’s Grace for all people. (That’s what any good sermon has at it’s core.)
God gives us ‘talents’ (i.e. gifts of a great variety) in an overabundant quantity and quality. Like money, we get opportunities to ‘invest’ our gifts in God’s kingdom. Our investing in God’s Kingdom (unlike investing in the unjust money systems humans always have had, which Jesus slams in his parable) reaps great increases in our gifts, of which we are only stewards All we are, have and can believe, think and do belongs to God. We ‘have’ it all only by Grace.
Wasting Grace by reducing life to what we must do, whether that is to believe the right things, to maintain a particular piety, or to work in whatever ways to subvert injustices, is a waste of the Grace given to us; it is like burying a great treasure in the ground, instead of using it to do God’s work in this world.
Why does God do anything for us? Why does God chose to exercise Grace for us?
Because God so chooses.
How can we respond?
By giving God thanks and praise!
Once we do that whole-heartedly, then God can use us in new ways to share God’s way of being, to share God’s Grace for everyone with everyone.
Why us? Because God so chooses! Despite our deserving only God’s anger.
Thanks be to God.
Now let us get on with giving God thanks and praise, by sharing Grace with all the people we meet … even if our pastor has forgotten the beginning and end of God’s Word is always GRACE.
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
2 Timothy 2:22
Shun youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.
Words of Grace For Today
God created us good.
Youthful passions and all. The question is not if we have ‘youthful passions’ at any age (in old age, what an extraordinary gift to receive!) it is what we do with them (no matter our age), and with all the other gifts God gives us. In baptism we name the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to us: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in your presence, both now and forever.
At the affirmation of baptism service we commit ourselves to living out these gifts, by promising: to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.
So what are we to do with these gifts that bring us to these commitments?
We are, simply, to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.
That precludes gaslighting others, bearing false witness, seeking (directly or indirectly) others’ death.
That precludes responding to misogyny with misandry.
That precludes accusing others of what you yourself has done.
That precludes [fill in a whole host of sins against God, God’s people, and God’s creation.]
I tell children I meet about town, in parting, with their parent(s) overhearing, ‘give your parents a little bit of trouble everyday. Most of us …’
Invariably the parent interjects here that they have no problem with that.
Then I continue, ‘most of us do not have any problem with the trouble part; it’s the little part that is a challenge!’
When we are humble, we recognize that we give God, God’s people, and God’s creation an overabundance of trouble everyday!
Loving kindness, we can laugh at ourselves, which immediately lessons much of the ‘trouble’ we give others and God.
Working for peace and justice for all people and all creation, we focus our energy on making good trouble the kind of trouble we mostly make.
Good Trouble is the kind that exposes injustice and evil, and offers in it’s place true peace.
Good Trouble is the kind that exposes the lies of people who, like Trump try to create reality out of fantasies that serve their selfish passions.
Good Trouble is the kind that takes an awful lot of ‘youthful passion’ for us to pull off.
Thank God for ‘youthful passions’ and the wisdom to know what to do with them!
Sometimes bending low, we see more of our path ahead
in the woods
and in life.
Then we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you for ever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.
Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.
Words of Grace For Today
Humble thanks and praise, these we have plenty cause to give to God. Not only for today, this day of -20⁰ and a bike ride home as it got colder and colder, for in the end all is well, all is well.
We have many things to give God thanks, in each generation, since the beginning of time, and for every future generation until there is no more time or a universe for us.
The thanks and praise we offer God is simple, and costly.
It is to give everything we are and have to respond to all other people as God has responded to us: with unconditional grace.
God has gathered us in, adopted us as children, and promised us life abundant. Life abundant is not one that overflows with comforts and luxuries, privileges and power, or ways and means. Life abundant is one that is lived fulfilling God’s purpose for us, which is to reflect God’s way with all people, to be Christ’s feet, hands, and voice for all people.
We confess our belief with words from our mouths, and it is affirmed by how we live. We do not live perfectly or better than others. We live for others.
It is like wearing a mask during this pandemic. One does it not for oneself, but for everyone else.
We do not live as God created us to be, so that we benefit, but that others benefit from God’s Grace.
That is simple and costly and priceless.
Like humbling oneself to give children affirming attention so that they understand they are valuable as people, we humble ourselves and give each person due attention and respect, so that all people understand that they are valuable as people, especially to God.
Trumpism, the manner of Gaslighting everyone to try to make some fiction become real, trying to get some advantage for oneself or ones own, has nothing to do with being in God’s flock. It is what destroys individuals, families, and countries. It is what threatens to sink the whole world into war.
From Nazis, to Stasi, to Trumpites, to those who bear false witness in courts, to those who defend their lies with more lies in daily life, and to lots and lots of others who work us woe: these are the way of the Devil.
When we humble ourselves and practice kindness, we start to see God’s way.
Kindness is at the root of due attention and respect; and clarity when one does something wrong.
Kindness, praise, and thanks: these fill our days with living beauty.
No pandemic, no -20⁰C weather, no gaslighting can change that.
God’s way is from generation to generation assured.
Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure and trouble with it.
For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?
Words of Grace For Today
Remember lest we forget those who sacrificed that we might live without overt fascism!
Covid 19 is in it’s second wave, and it runs rampant through Alberta (as many other places). Officially the word is that people are partying. This can be taken to be true … and stupid if understandable. There is likely more … also stupid and somehow some of it is less understandable.
Caution is thrown to the wind in so many ways in Alberta. Premier Kenny refuses to do more than make suggestions to people in order to stop the wave that is well on its way to overrunning the health care system. Cities and local governments have led the way mandating masks.
In Cold Lake nothing is mandated by the city. Stores with headquarters elsewhere have mandated masks and hand sanitizing upon entry. Guides are in place for physical distancing and in some stores for one way aisles. Nothing is done to mitigate aerosol transmission, which evidence shows is a likely path of transmission. That means unless huge volume air ventilation systems are in place an infected person can spread the virus in the air for 10 or more metres and leave the virus hanging in the air for hours.
The measures in place are of little use since there is no enforcement past the entrance doors. People remove their masks when they are away from the door, wear their masks so as to cover just their mouths or just their chins. People regularly touch their masks pulling them up or down and then touch products they do not buy. Everyone, store staff included, walk wherever they please, against the one way arrows, with no thought of physical distancing, regularly passing within inches of other people.
The majority of people speak volumes with their reckless behaviour, and their tolerance of other people’s reckless behaviour: they are ready to forfeit their life, or rather someone else’s life.
God created us to live as Jesus set the example: with grace forgiving, healing, and welcoming all people, sacrificing ourselves in order to bring other the abundance of life that God has provided for all people.
After SARS in Canada the recommendation for future pandemics was clear: the government should act quickly, decisively, and strictly, long before the evidence is in what the minimum is that is required. Immediate, maximum restrictions should have been in place long ago.
Now with the second wave, again slow minimal responses continue to be the norm, and the new case numbers are skyrocketing. Why the slow ineffective responses, last January and now this fall? Because the maximum restrictions cost the economy hugely, and it’s all about money for the rich, though the story now is that it robs ordinary people of their income. That it does. But a quick decisive response costs everyone less in the long term than slow minimal responses do!
Decisive maximum responses can cost politicians in the polls, but the record shows that lack of action, like Kenny’s, costs them more.
So why this slow, ineffective response?
Who is to profit from it? What kind of dictatorial interests are at play to trade people’s health and lives for their profit, power, and privilege?
Then one reads today: what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life? or rather our lives. – Though we understand clearly to forfeit others lives is to forfeit everything about one’s own life that God created us to be: reflectors of Christ’s Light.
It is simply better to live with very little, fearing and loving God; than it is to live with a great deal of wealth, power, influence, status, and/or fame and have a great deal of trouble with it.
So what are we to do. Dr. Tam almost said it: We should do EVERY LITTLE THING we can think of to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and EVERYONE ELSE.
We are in this together, and the virus does not distinguish it’s victims according to wealth, power, influence, status, and/or fame. It just needs a live human, and healthy, young, minimally affected are the best for transmitting it to many others.
Every live human counts equally.
We are all in this together.
So let’s ALL start behaving like there are a lot of LITTLE THINGS we can do, and start doing them!
Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant; save the child of your serving-maid.
My God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to God’s riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
Words of Grace For Today
There are so many things to ask God for.
There always have been so many things to ask God for.
There always will be so many things to ask God for.
Our pleas have filled the nights and days since we first imagined that God existed. From the comfort of our palatial homes, the likes of which Pharaohs, Caesars, Kings, and Queens could hardly dream, we plead with God for yet more.
In Palestine the church pleas for basic human rights, where a home is for most people a dream unattainable. Where refugee camps are the norm. Where violence and ensuing death is inevitable, it’s only a matter of when. Where clean water, nutritious food, adequate clothing and shelter, meaningful labour and the freedom to love and be loved unconditionally are all in short supply, if attainable at all.
God will fully satisfy every need of yours ….
This is blatantly not so, not today, not in all our yesterdays, and not for all our tomorrows.
God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to God’s riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
… ‘according to’ these are the modifying words that make this true, as part of God’s promise to provide for all God’s people.
God does not promise that everyone will receive the basic requirements of life, nor the recognition of their human rights. God promises to provide everything for us according to God’s riches in glory in Jesus Christ. Which means according to God’s Good News, that God loves us unconditionally, frees us from our sins so that we may live in grace and be that same grace for others.
God’s riches in glory in Jesus Christ are beyond our imaginations, and yet Jesus lived out them in his life, ministry of healing, welcoming all especially the outcast and sinners, and sacrificing himself so that the whole creation would be redeemed and re-newed, that is re-created pure and righteous and holy.
God does not come to save us from our trials. That happens rarely. God comes to save us in our trials, suffering with us, giving us God’s strength to endure and still be gracious, with ourselves and with others.
We may well wish others to evaporate from the face of the earth when they cause our suffering, and others’ suffering, especially when there seems to be no end or limit to the suffering. God prefers to save these enemies of ours, for they are also God’s creatures, just as we are.
Hang on then. Pray for everything we need. Hope for justice based on truth for all. Expect daily bread. Prepare for unending suffering.
We are all in this together, oppressor and oppressed, privileged and deprived, faithful and evil. Just as Covid 19 can get any of us, evil can take any of us under, and only God can save any of us.
God’s promise is that, through Jesus Christ, God saves us all, unconditionally.
Now we get to live out of that promise, bringing that promise to bear on the lives of everyone we encounter in anyway, every day.