For I am with you, says the Lord, to save you; I will make an end of all the nations among which I scattered you, but of you I will not make an end. I will chastise you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.
2 Timothy 4:16-17
At my first defence no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
Words of Grace For Today
Facing one’s sure end, due to enemies’ work against us though we are innocent, is about as dire life gets.
To know God was with us,
To know God is with us,
To know God will always be with us,
To know that even if our enemies succeed in taking our life, we will live!
This is to know Grace.
And even under such threat, we live abundantly, blessed, breathing in the Spirit, and proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, even for our enemies.
Just another day.
Tomorrow is another,
which will be filled
wonder and miracles and God’s presence revealing the marvels of the universe.
Great in counsel and mighty in deed; whose eyes are open to all the ways of mortals, rewarding all according to their ways and according to the fruit of their doings.
1 Timothy 4:10
To this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all people, especially of those who believe.
Words of Grace For Today
I’m tired. Tired of being Gaslit, by people I do not know, people I’ve known intimately, people who claimed to have loved me, people who I’ve loved, people who’ve corrupted their authority to protect and serve, people who are supposed to be religious leaders, people entrusted to exercise the law to provide justice based on truth.
I’m tired. I’m tired because it’s a whole lot of work to stay alive each day, and I’m getting old, worn and weary.
I’m tired of people (without masks or shields or any protection for them or me, or without any brains about how Covid 19 kills old people and young people as well) trying to push me (yes literally push me) aside to walk past me while I’m shopping. Or people breathing at me from a foot or two telling me it’s ok that ‘I’m so close’ to them when they walked right up behind me and I have to turn around because a lift blocks the aisle ahead.
I’m tired of people lying, begin stupid, and trying to kill me, intentionally or stupidly out of ignorance.
I’m tired of people lying to steal everything I have and then trying to steal even more than the courts have lied to give to them from money that is really not mine to access, or that they really should not have access to either.
Perhaps you are tired, too, of things similar, or of different Evil worked against you and people you know and care about.
Or perhaps you are not tired at all, since you have everything that you need for life, and your energetic work is about accumulating more wealth and privilege at others’ expense, so that you can get ahead in life.
For us all we read today: [God knows all and rules everywhere, and judges everyone,] rewarding all according to their ways and according to the fruit of their doings.
Yes, we can say. May it be so.
Finally Justice based on real truth for everyone! Especially those who’ve dealt with me as if I were a completely different person than I am. Justice. Let it be done, and soon!!
So we can wish. Unless we look at the sins we’ve committed to separate us from God – which are NOT what people Gaslight me or you perhaps, saying I have done. Sins that allow words that are unkind to be spoken, selfish acts to be done, and selfless acts to be undone.
Then we may be more humble, resting in God’s Grace given to us, trusting God’s wisdom not to be so simplistically applied to all, but with Grace first.
Still for those who corrupt justice, who seek to destroy others for no good reason other than the joy of the destruction, can we not hope that God’s Justice may reflect what they have done already?
So we pray: God save us, save us all from Evil. Help us each day to toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Saviour of all people.
I’m tired of it all, Doch God help me rest in you, in your justice and grace.
The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
[To the corrupt leaders:]I know your affliction and your poverty, even though you are rich. I know the slander on the part of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Words of Grace For Today
Real people are vessels of real evil.
Of that there is no doubt.
People who are rich, are afflicted and actually poor in truth, poor in spirit, poor in life. They claim to be God’s people, and serve only Satan.
From these people, the Evil they work with lies (pretending to be good), and the Evil One they serve … from all these God promises to protect us, to protect our lives.
This protection is not that we are separated so far from Evil and people that work it that we never suffer Evil’s destruction. God’s promise is to always be with us, not to abandon us, and not to allow Evil to extract from us life itself.
Baptized we enter eternal life already during our time on earth.
Wonders of wonders, that nothing can take from us. We can surrender it, though God protects us from even that.
Wonders of wonders, we live, even in the face of corrupt, destructive, and unresting Evil worked against us.
Nothing compares to the Evil humans inflict on others.
You have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat, when the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm.
May the God of peace himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Words of Grace For Today
Since Jesus’ record replaces ours, since our baptisms we have known and been able to trust even in the most horrific and trying times that our record before God will be sound and blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Not even the miracles of God (or so we say) can (other than by replacing ours with Jesus’ record) keep our spirit and soul and body sound and blameless at all. We have and keep free choice, which in exercising we continually sin, i.e. we are hardly sound and blameless.
The question is not if we can be sinless. If it were no one would be acceptable to God, and the Kingdom of God would be empty forever.
The question, after God favours us and blesses us, what are we going to do with this ultimate favour and blessing?
Then we may pray earnestly that it can be said of us that when the blast of the ruthless was like a winter rainstorm, then we have been a refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needy in their distress, a shelter from the rainstorm and a shade from the heat.
There is no shortage today of the blast of the ruthless. Now is the time to act. It is the time to be the refuge to the poor, a refuge to the needing in their distress, and a shelter from all that comes, whether it is the vicious rain, hail, snow and windstorms of climate change (the ‘new normal this year is last year’s extreme weather‘), or the blistering heat, wind and locust of drought, or the flooding of rain that will not let up.
The real blast, as in every generation, comes not from nature, not even pandemics like Covid 19. The real blast comes from ruthless and evil people, possessed by the empty promises of the Devil. The two legged wild animals bring more disaster to more people, more quickly than any new weather storm.
The dangerous ones are those who say there is no danger. They claim with words and/or actions: There is no more Covid19. It’s back to normal. We’re done with Covid 19. There is none here. They likely will not die or be maimed by Covid 19 or any other real danger. They will be oblivious to the loss of life around them, unless it invades their own home, and some even then pay it no heed.
May God protect us. We may wish that we can be sound and blameless, but that is the first step to ignoring our place, station, calling and weaknesses as the two legged children of God that Jesus calls us to be.
We still wish for what is not possible, and then we pray: May God protect us. May God protect you.
It is the Lord our God who brought us and our ancestors up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight. He protected us along all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed.
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
We have ‘our orders’. Given to us by the one who brought us up out of slavery in Egypt.
It is all really simple. It is all really complicated.
God sends Moses to lead the people out of slavery in Egypt. Remember the people went there as famine refugees, welcomed by Joseph, Pharaoh’s second in command. They were welcomed and well provided for during the famine and the early years following.
Times change. Joseph’s people multiplied, Joseph is long dead and his Pharaoh. The powerful Egyptians resent the outsiders thriving, so they enslave them and force them into hard labour.
Slavery is a matter of getting significant attention today, as established families in Canada are recognized with street named after them, and now their participation in slavery is exposed. Who we honour and why says much of who we are today, and the powerful of Canada are as much blind to the suffering of those on whose backs they make and maintain their wealth as ever in the bleak history of human oppression and slavery. There is push back. There ought to be always.
God pushed back through Moses and led the people out of slavery into the wilderness for 40 years. It took a generation to cleanse the effects of slavery, to build the people into those who could occupy their own land.
Generations later the people expect and hope that the Christ will lead them to throw off the oppression of the Roman empire. Today many people expect and hope that the Christ will lead them to through off the oppression of so many different governments and multi-national corporations. There is push back to the oppression and slavery. There ought to be always.
Jesus does not come to create yet another new revolution, after which yet another new group of powerful people can oppress others, sometimes those who earlier oppressed them. Jesus comes instead to end all oppression and slavery. Jesus works to transform individuals and families and communities and towns and cities and countries, so that from the inside the attitudes of slavery and oppression are wiped out of each heart, until in the Kingdom of God all slavery and oppression is obliterated. The wonder is that as one’s heart is transformed in baptism through the gifts of the Holy Spirit, slavery and oppression’s effects on ones heart, mind and strength are removed. It is as if through baptism we enter 40 years in the wilderness, so that the effects of slavery and oppression are removed from us entirely.
We work to remove slavery and all kinds of oppression as free people, as blessed people, as peaceful people. We go out into the world as the people who invite people from all other nations to join us, as the people who bring Jesus’ commands: to love one another as ourselves, and our enemies, and as the people with whom Jesus abides even to the end of time.
We are not alone in the wilderness, no matter the challenges, not even Covid 19 and everything that comes with it, irritating precautions and the suffering when precautions are not kept or are not enough.
Hannah prayed and said, ‘My heart exults in the Lord; my strength is exalted in my God. My mouth derides my enemies, because I rejoice in my victory.
Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed.
Words of Grace For Today
It would be more comfortable for us, if Hannah’s prayer ended before she says her mouth derides her enemies. Not that we do not understand her prayer. We just wish it would not be ours, or recorded as prayed often by the saints in light.
But that is sin, and we cannot deny it.
For exactly this moment Jesus came to command us to love our enemies, so that we would recognize the sin in Hannah’s prayer, and in our prayers. It is sinful to wish that we ‘win’ at the cost of others, enemies or not.
It is a sad fact of human existence that too often in order to survive we must be victorious over our enemies. Even then Jesus’ example is that our victory is no victory if we are not gracious with our enemies, as God is gracious with us. We need must remember our place. We are desperate sinful wretches, no better than slave traders and mass murderers, for our thoughts would have disastrous results for so many people, were they to become reality just in the wishing.
In the middle of a prayer/wish like Hannah’s we recall Mary’s Magnificat: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
We pause in our sinful prayer/wish we remember our own lowly position, and with humble gratitude we recall how much favour God has poured over us!
God helps us remember Mary, the saint, who for generations we have called blessed, for though being Jesus’ mother put her life often in danger more often in pain … and she watched him unjustly suffer crucifixion at the hands of the priests and the soldiers.
Enemies. They are our collective misunderstanding of God’s Grace and purpose for us all.
It is he who remembered us in our low estate, for his steadfast love endures for ever.
Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.
Words of Grace For Today
It is so easy to forget our past, when we were so much less than we are now. Become wealthy and soon one easily forgets what it is like to struggle to survive without enough money. With God and God’s people it is different, though.
Become educated and it is easy to forget how it is to be ignorant and vulnerable. With God and God’s people it is different, though.
Yet as one becomes more educated one learns that one really did and still does know so little. This is closer to how it is in our relationship with God, if we care at all for the Truth of Jesus’ love and life for us.
When God forgives us our sins, it may seem easy to forget our sins, now that Grace has saved us. We can easily pretend or delude ourselves that we somehow no longer need forgiveness, though as we grow, if we learn to be honest with ourselves then we recognize that we still sin, and more profoundly and profusely then we care ever to admit. We desperately need to be forgiven, more it seems each passing day.
When we learn this anew each day, then it makes sense to give thanks to God for all that we are, for we have and are nothing on our own. Only by God’s hand do we have anything given to us as stewards of it, nor are we anything other than the chemicals our body is made of, except that the Holy Spirit breathes life into us each day.
As we remember how much we daily depend on God’s good Graces, then it is not difficult to remember each day to pray for and work to support those in prison.
Yes, there are some real criminals in prison. They are people capable of great destruction to property and person without much thought of the damage they do. There are also many minorities, especially men, who have been taken advantage of and invited into a world where crime is the only way of life. There also are a great number of people, men and women, who are falsely convicted and never did anything to deserve to be put in prison.
Someone decided they would be their target. They would be lied about, false witnesses would be found against the person, and false reports and charges are brought against them … and judges easily lie about the evidence before them and convict people, on the basis of easily identifiable lies. The measure of correct judgments is that a fully informed, reasonable person would agree with the judge’s decision. But one has to be willing to lie, and reasonable has to be not that the person is actually guilty, but someone with enough money or power wants this person convicted, and the fully informed part of that has to be understood as meaning one had to understand that someone with wealth or power or a sadistic habit has to be satisfied … and yet another innocent person goes to jail.
We are to remember all the people in jails, not from our place of comfort and privilege, but as if the prison director had us in custody and was using the guards, some violent, some friendly, to sadistically ‘play’ with us, to torment us. And that some health care people working in prisons go out of their way to provide inappropriate, even deadly health care to prisoners/us; because if we are in jail then surely we deserve no good health care.
For people tortured, well it helps to have been tortured at some point, so that we can not only empathize with those who are tortured, but that we can also remember what it was like to be tortured.
If you have made it thus far in life without being tortured, then watch perhaps 12 Years a Slave, for an insightful presentation of what being enslaved is like, and to be tortured, having one’s life taken from one, piece by piece.
Then we can wake to each morning, give God thanks for all we have, and fervently pray for others’ in real need. One does not need much to be thankful. One needs only eyesight to see the world’s beauty. Or eyes to see the people in the neighbourhood. Or ears to hear the loons’ cry echoing across the water. Then one can be thankful, that one has something, has eyes, has ears.
stripping the bark to kill a living tree for no good purpose is evil.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.
He did not say this on his own, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God.
Words of Grace For Today
We humans understand how innocent people or animals are sacrificed to ‘pay a debt’ and free us. There are two kinds of sacrifice, one destructive evil, one gracious goodness.
Rene Girard developed a few ideas that many have applied and adapted. At the core is his mimetic theory that we ‘remember’ we desire something by seeing others having it, which causes senseless competition between even friends. Competition leads to conflict and conflict cannot be between friends, so the friends use a scapegoat (an innocent, vulnerable bystander) on whom they pile fictitious blame. This cathartic release of blame onto a third party relieves the conflict between the two friends and they continue on, the desire that caused the conflict resolves into the senselessness it was at the beginning. The friendship is saved, the friends continue on.
The vulnerable, innocent scapegoat is destroyed.
This is the destructive evil sacrifice.
Girard interprets the story of Jesus’ sacrifice for us as God’s clear statement that scapegoating innocent, vulnerable people is not acceptable or needed, just as God’s clear statement by calling Abraham to the mountain to sacrifice his only son Isaac, and then stopping Abraham, was that God did not want any child sacrificed to himself.
God clearly does not want destructive evil sacrifice by any humans.
God does send his son, Jesus, to live, preach, teach, heal and sacrifice himself to the corrupt power of his time, the Roman empire and the Chief Priest. This is the sacrifice of gracious goodness. It is chosen by the one surrendering to sacrifice. The sacrifice does not destroy innocent and vulnerable people. Exactly the opposite, it gives life to all.
Jesus calls us to wisely sacrifice, sometimes little, sometimes everything, in order that other people will be able to live. We do not send someone else to be the sacrifice. We go ourselves, knowing that all we are and have is a gift from God, and if God can use us to give life, then as followers of Jesus we can give of ourselves, and even give everything of ourselves, in order that others may live, and live in the abundance of Grace, Love and Hope that God created us all to enjoy.
So much in life tries to get us to strive to achieve and receive at others’ cost (the destructive evil sacrifice). This is not the way of life for the followers of Jesus, and for all the children of God.
Let your eyes be open to the plea of your servant, and to the plea of your people Israel, listening to them whenever they call to you.
If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
Words of Grace For Today
Praying to be heard, and a promise to be heard carte blanch.
Being Gaslit taught me much, much that I would hope no one else would have to learn: what it is like to have one’s children and one’s beloved turn on you, telling lies that are beyond abominations; what it is like to be condemned in the church, community and courts for things you’ve never done; what it is like to be silenced so that no one will listen to you, no matter what you do there is no one, and talking to one’s self goes nowhere. It is to be ghosted by everyone.
And then I was made to sit and listen to the unending lies about me with no way to interrupt and prove they were lies. And when I was given opportunity to speak I was bullied, harangued and Gaslit even more.
So much to say. So many lies told that others use to define me.
My prayer was desperate: to be heard. God listen as you know the truth. Let me speak and make these people listen. Give me your ear, Your heart, and at least a sliver of hope that this nightmare, this twilight zone will end.
But it never ends.
At least now I can speak, though no one listens. People still ghost me. I know the lies do not define me. The lies define those who told them, and those who, knowing truth still used the lies as if they were true, and those who do not stop to think that the lies are not truth.
How terrible it is to be defined by the lies one has told, lies that destroyed other people, and hurt oneself as well. How ghastly it must be to be such a person, where no direction is down or up, or right or wrong. Everything is winning and surviving and having more money … no matter who you destroy in the process.
When I speak the truth, people run and then ghost me.
God when will it end!!
Then Jesus’ words give this hope: If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.
God, I ask, as all people have since the beginning of time, hear me and give me meaning and love and hope …
hope that truth will prevail,
hope that the children will be safe from abuse and gaslighting and from being brought to sacrifice truth for money, and life for money, and love for money.
You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness.
2 Timothy 2:15
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by him, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth.
Words of Grace For Today
Martin Luther, the victim of a false conviction achieved by many false witnesses and corrupt judges, equated bearing false witness with murder.
Spreading rumours is essentially the same as bearing false witness. The audience is the open community instead of the confines of a court.
An old story recounts how a student asked his teacher what was so wrong with rumours. The teacher, on who effectively used illustrations and demonstrations as much as lectures, instruct the student to take two feather pillows, place them outside on his neighbours doorstep, and slit them open and return with the pillow cases. The student did this and returned to report to the teacher asking what this could possibly mean. The teacher instructed the student return the next day. That next day the teacher directed the student to take the pillow cases, collect the feathers, and sew up them closed to be used as pillows.
The student stood aghasted. It will be impossible to collect the feathers now. The wind has blown overnight. More than a handful of feathers will be impossible to find, yet alone collect.
The teacher said, so it is with rumours (and false witness). Once rumours are spoken the spread like wildfire in the community and beyond so that nothing can undo them, true or not. They destroy like invisible poison not only the person they are told about, but the people who spread them. In that way they are like Covid 19.
False witness, like rumours, once told are sins for which little restitution can be made to the person they are told about, and certainly not to all who hear them in the community or the courts. They are an indiscriminate poison that kills both body and spirit.
Thus we followers of Christ are not called to speak falsely of others.
We followers of Christ are not called to silence, rather we are called to speak truth. Always truth begins with what God has done for us, Jesus’ story, our salvation and daily renewed life, and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Against rumours and false witness: we can do no other than to forgive as we can, to bind sins for God to judge, and to clearly speak the truth in the face of all false witness and rumours. We can expect that those caught in rumour and false witness will expend every effort to end the truth, and us with it; history will continue to repeat itself, and good people will be killed to protect the lies of corrupt and sick people.
Life following Christ is not safe, and never boring. It is life abundantly blessed, even when one is caught in life threatening poverty.