No sermon this past week. Sorry. A few photos though still brighten the horizon even as bleak as it could be.
It was a difficult week again. A judge made an order, full of …. You cannot safely say the truth about judges; though it would be nice if judges would base their work on truth.
This past week has been draining.
Gaslighting is a powerfully terrible thing to experience.
These snippets from a google search highlight just what this is, just how terrible it is, and just how terrible it is that the justice system participates in this. All apologies if any are really needed for just grabbing this information without keeping records to give credit. It’s the kind of thing that after one suffers it, again and again, at one’s spouse’s hand, and then repeatedly at one’s pastor’s, (she was ordained today, just for a sample of God’s justice waiting, and God’s Grace filling undeserving lives), other pastors who have great sins to hide in their false accusations about me, and then almost without ceasing by various RCMP officers, even VSU when I called them, a great number of people working in the justice system, and then again and again at the hand of judges …. It’s the kind of thing that when you have to deal with it again things do not always get done with the correct process. So my apologies.
to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.
Gaslighting is used to describe abusive behavior, specifically when an abuser manipulates information in such a way as to make a victim question his or her sanity. Gaslighting intentionally makes someone doubt their memories or perception of reality. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill in their victim’s an extreme sense of anxiety and confusion to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment. … The emotional damage of Gaslighting is huge on the narcissistic victim. Gaslighting can also be part of an authoritarian personality. A person with an authoritarian personality tends to think in absolutes: Things are 100 percent right or 100 percent wrong. When a gaslighter thinks that they are not the problem and everyone else is, this is called having an ego-syntonic personality.
Signs of being Gaslit
• no longer feeling like the person you used to be. • being more anxious and less confident than you used to be. • often wondering if you’re being too sensitive. • feeling like everything you do is wrong. • always thinking it’s your fault when things go wrong. • apologizing often.
The following from, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201701/are-gaslighters-aware-what-they-do
… Gaslighting is a pattern of manipulation tactics used by abusers, narcissists, dictators, and cult leaders to gain control over a person or people. The goal is to make the victim or victims question their own reality and depend on the gaslighter. So, do gaslighters know they’re doing it? It depends on the gaslighter.
Living Well, Surviving Gaslighting
There is only one way to survive Gaslighting:
to live well, as well as one can, given the circumstances. I live well, even if the challenges are great.
My work is rough. Outdoors, building, tearing down, moving, rebuilding. It’s a dream for a young man who loves to build things with his hands. It’s tough and rough work for an older man like me, even if I like working with my hand. My hands, precious instruments of my creativity.
I live well.
The sun sets over the lake outside the window. A canoe rests near the water available to take a camera out to create beauty from what can be ordinary. People respond well to my company, my words, and simple joy of life. I receive grace given to me in abundance. I share grace with everyone I meet, and it makes a visible difference, a positive difference.
I help guide a new truck driver from being stuck to safely position her vacuum truck to be able to do her work and be able to drive out. It just took some well placed shovel work, and some good driving, well planned driving.
I cleaned up 5 garbage bags of drunken, drugged, and orgy leftovers out of this random camping area.
I’ve pulled two dead-falls down this past week, one down by a fool with an axe, the other by a strong wind. Who knows what may have happened, but no one will get hurt from them.
The fireworks after 23:00 are loud, but the view is okay. There are no complaints.
The light is wonderful, when one sees it with the truth that God created it to reflect.
Gas – Lighting
It’s the kind of lighting that only God can put right. I can forgive the family stuff, the gaslighting in the family as horrendous as it was. But the professionals: they should know better: their sins are bound. God will deal with their sins, not forgiven but bound. That, because it is my responsibility to forgive all that can be, and to bind what cannot be. I place it behind me so that I can continue to deal with these people of horrendous deeds with grace. I place it behind me and before them for the rest of their lives. God’s truth has no diminished clarity, no possibility of being lied about, nothing to be spun or hidden.
God’s forgiveness, which I have given, remains as clear as God’s light of truth. Photos show reality, the clarity of God’s light shining on God’s wonderful creation.
What, if it were to take place for you this week, would fill your eyes and heart with tears … tears that could hardly stop, tears for all things lost, and tears of unbounded joy.
Age of Adeline
In the movie Age of Adeline a woman stops aging as a result of a car accident at the age of 29. This starts out to be the fulfillment of a dream that many of us may have: to live without the effects of aging. The movie follows her life as those around her age and she does not, as she is able to accumulate wealth that others simply cannot, for she has time and through the years an abundance of wisdom. She remains a young and beautiful woman inside and out as she accumulates decades of life with no end in sight.
Ah, to have it so. No arthritis, no forgetfulness, no impending death, no illness, no drain of one’s energy, no need to be impatient with life, but to be able to travel, to enjoy, to work, to read, to write, to create; all without the pressure of knowing it will not be so someday, for one will eventually lose the ability to do all of these wonderful things, yet one will live on.
Today we celebrate the Holy Trinity
Sunday is the only Sunday of the entire church year that we celebrate
a doctrine of the Christian Church. The doctrine of the Trinity is
the core doctrine of the Church. The doctrine that defines more than
anything else what is Christian and what is not.
The spectacular Doctrine:
Three Persons in one Godhead. So God is one God, but God is three.
Three yet one. That’s a paradox. What usually cannot be is: Three
describes one and one describes three.
Martin Luther spoke of the two sacraments, and then he would name Baptism and Holy Communion, and Marriage and Confession, and on he would go until he had named most of the seven sacraments of the Catholic church that he tried to reform, had booted him out, named him a nonperson who could be killed by anyone who wished, and it would not be murder, and who Martin Luther demonstrated it’s corruption as he corrected it and established churches similar but improved, sort of. Still filled with sinners, even if everyone is a God made saint.
That kind of numbering of the Trinity, Three in One, is not what Martin Luther was all about in naming the Sacraments. This is us being as clear as we can be about God who really is beyond any clear explanation.
know and affirm is that God and all of creation is at it’s core
The lessons speak about Trinity and
In our lesson from Proverbs Wisdom calls out to all who live, to know her. (As the original Hebrew ascribes gender to her): She is God’s first act of creation. She witnessed all God’s acts of creation and she was God’s delight as she delighted in God’s inhabited world and in the human race.
was written long before Jesus walked the earth, before the triadic
expressions of God in the NT writings, and before the doctrine of the
Trinity was formalized starting with the Nicene Creed of 325, revised
in 381, and settled under the leadership of the three Cappadocian
Fathers in its current form by the end of the fourth century. In
Proverbs we have a similar relationship between God and wisdom as
Arianism understood the relationship between God and Jesus; that God
created Wisdom and Jesus. This understanding was not accepted by the
wider church. It was supplanted first by the understanding that Jesus
is fully God, present always as one of the three persons of the one
God. The last piece of the doctrine to be settled was that the Holy
Spirit, often understood to include the OT traditions of Wisdom, was
also not a creation of God, but existed with God always, the third
person of One God, the Trinity.
Proverbs we see how significant it is that God delights in Wisdom and
how Wisdom delights in the human race. Creation is all about God’s
delight and God’s glory, all portions of what love is.
Psalm celebrates God’s glory, and presents that same glory in
lesser portion given to humans. It is stated that God has put all
things under the humans’ feet. Today we would understand that this
is not just dominion over, but responsibility to preserve, nurture,
and ensure the survival of. We would no longer embrace any idea that
we are to exploit creation for our selfish benefit to the detriment
of future generations or the future of creation. Which is also a good
portion of what love is all about, love for future generations and
for all of creation.
Gospel of John is chosen because in Jesus’ Farewell words, given
after the Last Supper and before his arrest, he gives words to the
trinitarian God; God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Today we might better express that as God the Parent recognizing
first the equality of all genders, second our innate limits when it
comes to knowing anything about gender for God, and third the
powerful impact our providing God a gender has towards gender
powerful and crucial point that John’s Gospel makes is that it is
God the Holy Spirit who continues to reveal to us more of the truth,
as we are able to bear it. There is a kindness in God’s approach,
revealing to us what we can bear; and we would expand that to say,
revealing to us what we can grasp, understand, and make use of. It is
always helpful to remember that God is not ever done teaching us
about the truth.
At no time do we posses the truth of God in its entirety. At best we have a good start. That is a powerful reminder that humility is always a good starting point and ending point for us. Which is also a good portion of what love is all about.
lesson from Romans is one of the enduring passages of wisdom, hope
and love that Paul provided to the Church. First that we are
justified before God not by what we do, but by the faith given to us
by the Holy Spirit. Second that what we value and can boast about is
not us, but God, and not our accomplishments, but God’s, and not in
our glories, but we boast about our sufferings.
we encounter what appears to be the upside down, and inside out logic
of God’s relationship to us and our relationship to our own
experiences. Who ever heard of boasting not about our successes, but
about what others have made us suffer! The Word of God though is
right side up, outside out, inside in. It is our thinking that is
topsy turvy. It is our taking over God’s place by thinking that our
successes are what constitutes real glory. No Paul makes it clear, we
followers of Christ know that our suffering is what we can boast
about, because suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces
character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint
us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the
Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
love begins with the Holy Spirit pouring love into us and it grows
through suffering that begets endurance that begets character that
is an essential portion of love, which the Holy Spirit pours into us!
all the generations of Christians, we have utilized the doctrine of
the Trinity to clarify that though we cannot know many things
absolutely about God, as the Holy Spirit continues to reveal to us
more and more as we can bear more truth, we can affirm
whole-heartedly that the basis of God’s own being is not as an
independent God. God exists in relationship with God’s self, with
all three persons together.
are created in God’s image, God intends for us to exist in
relationship as well, in relationship with God, in relationship to
each other, and in relationship to all of creation.
they involve suffering, endurance, character and hope supported by
love, our relationships with God, each other and all creation are to
be fundamentally relationships of delight; which is perhaps the best
portion of love.
All the things that we could dream
enjoyment of life’s opportunities and options.
(You can fill in examples or stories about each of these.)
The one thing that the doctrine of the Trinity affirms is THE EVENT of our dreams.
relationship of love.
be a life partner, a spouse.
companion, or a person with whom one can share one’s life’s work.
a reason that movies, books, poems, yearnings, and our hopes so often
land on falling in love.
life with all kinds of other strivings and measures of success.
life is made up of what we are: we are made in God’s image. We are
made for relationship.
lives are made to make sense only when we love.
not that we need to be ‘in love’ which is indeed a life changing
matter. We are made to love other people.
the people we like.
people, all the people around us. Even our enemies.
The meaning of life, not 42, or
chocolate: but love
What really is the meaning of life??! The Hitchhiker’s guide to the Galaxy presents it as the completely random and meaningless number 42. Some people say with taste buds delighted and a bit of energy renewed from the caffeine and sugar that it is chocolate.
death beds, almost everyone, who has opportunity to tells us,
reports, we will find no solace in the many things that we have
striven for and achieve or not.
Work success, wealth reputation, security, enjoyment of life’s
opportunities and options, nor anything else.
death beds only one part of life will gives us solace, comfort and a
sense of union with God’s universe. Only one thing will afford us a
sense that all is well, all is well, indeed all manner of things are
well. The one thing that will give us a sense of what God has had for
us all along is the love we have given to others, and the love we
Adaline Looses the Essential of
Life: to Love and be Loved
ideal life, where the ravages of age do not touch her, does not
progress so ideally. Because she does not age she suffers profound
losses. She loses the ability to keep her own name. She loses the
ability to develop life-long friends, not even pets. But most of all
she loses the ability to love and be loved; and most precious of all,
to face suffering and one’s impending death with someone she loves,
with someone who loves her. She has great opportunities to delight in
all of creation, but her tears that continue to increase in intensity
are of losing the meaning of her life; she is unable to love.
cinematic highlight of the movie arrives when she must decide,
whether to risk choosing to love, as she is able, even though she
will never grow old with the one she loves; even though if she is
found out, she will be treated as a specimen to be studied, probed
and experimented on. Can she, will she dare risk that suffering, in
order to finally be able to love someone?
Jesus’ Command: Be as God Created
us to be
Trinity Sunday we celebrate that God is a God of three persons in one
godhead. Which sounds paradoxical, but that is how it is with
relationships of love. We are people meant to love one another.
Jesus’ command to love our neighbour as ourselves, and even our enemies, is not a command that we need to follow … or else!
It is a command that we should follow if we want to not just to be happy, but because it is who God created us to be! As we love others we will be right with God’s universe and with God’s Will for us.
The words sincerely said: “I love you” do not just give us life, but withholding love from another robs them of God’s intent for them. So wherever you are in your life, know this: God the Parent, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, all three, in one voice that shakes the greatest molecule at the beginning and ends of the universe … God says most sincerely to each of us, “I love you.”
Now it’s okay to cry with tears that cannot stop, for both the suffering and pain of all that has been lost, for the pain of all that never was which should have or could have been, and with all the joy of all the love that has been, is and always will be. It’s always okay to cry those tears of loss and overwhelming joy. This is what being at Peace with God looks like!
For this God created us, to be delighted with one another, with all creation, and with God, three in one.
are we? Do we need to make a name for ourselves? Will we ever be
satisfied with God’s Word present among us?
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.
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
generation after generation. We can
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.
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 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
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
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
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
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
Clarity in Miracles
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.
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.
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.
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
the face of life so challenged, God finds ways to bless us, with
Sam and Allicia
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.
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
Three Confirmed, we stand with them
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
One language, one gathering, making a name making a name for themselves:
God helps them avoid disaster: nothing will stop them! Not even them destroying the planet or at least life on it. God saves us by ending it, prayer answered: NO! God comes to see the city, the tower, and God is alarmed? Displeased? Not said: just God ends it: confuses languages and scatters them.
Divisions vs community
Divisions over conflict is EASY, building community despite differences is the challenge, the miracle that shows God is at work with us!
Confuses Gramma [r]s
God confuses their language, into different words, sounds, gramma(r)s, they leave off the tower building.
HS with ability to hear and understand, unites people from every language into the church, All hear in their own language: not glossolalia! But clear speech beyond language barriers!
All that it is: God’s presence, God’s guide in wilderness, mark of humans, gathered at campfire safe from animals who fear fire, fire that purifies by consuming dross, as judgment purifies us of sin, by consuming it with fire. Fires burn, destroys: revenge of the earth to climate change by burning fossil fuels beyond our share. We’ve built more than than the tower of babel. We’ve setup the earth to turn on all the life on it, us included. Fires: prevented fought down, now the fuel available is generation’s worth, burns all at once and the sun is blotted out. Solar power: winter 1.2 to 3 maybe 4 amps. Now in mid day 15 easy. But with fire’s smoke, down to 3 or 1 or less. Solar power, the basis of photosynthesis; the growth of plants, upon which the chain of food is built, from smallest life forms, to plants, to small bugs, to small animals to larger animals to largest to the most dangerous: humans.
Prophesy of Joel:
All will prophesy, sons and daughters, slaves men and women; old men will dream dreams (usually stop because there is no hope that the dreams can be fulfilled or seen through, a surrender of the world to the younger generation) but here: old men dream and set to being the fulfillment of dreams, God’s dreams.
blood, fire, smoky mist, moon to blood, Lord’s Day before the Lord’s glorious day!
Call upon him and all will be saved!
John 14:8-17 [25-27]
We will never be satisfied, but we continually hope. Even when what we ask for is right in front of us, we ask for more.
DO help us believe that Jesus is God is the Holy Spirit is Jesus … is working in our midst Ask, I will give. But so much asked for and not ever yet given. Be careful what you ask for, sometimes Jesus gives us what we ask for: we ask for foolish things, impossible things, things that will hurt others, and Jesus answers NO. Other times Jesus gives us what we ask for and we do not recognize it.
Love and Obey
Love is to obey Jesus’ commands: to love your neighbour as yourself and your enemy!
Lawyer in court – Advocate – Of New
God gives advocate (lawyer in God’s Court for us), who will be with us forever, though Jesus goes away. We see HS, the advocate, the Spirit of Truth! Able because God is in us, HS in us World cannot receive him, does not see him, New, always present Jesus tells us, so we will know, but the Advocate will be with us, reveal new things, make us see new things, remind us of Jesus!
No worries Mate
Do not be troubled, do not be afraid (Fear is the greatest enemy), anxiety gets people to behave in bad ways.
1. Thoughts Towards an Outline
the season, the ban, the power, the saving power – distinctively human the destroying power, wildfires, smoke, solar blocked, photosynthesis, stopped, dross, judgment where sins are burned away like dross, leaving us pure, ready for the New Jerusalem. Spirit Ruah, breath, spirit into inert forms →life, inspiration, spirit means vivified, and for God’s good purposes.
Language, the basis of communication, but more, the basis of thought! New language, new thoughts, new history new manners: 2nd language: a world opens up when one lives in it. Computer languages: a whole new world opens up, but it is not filled with people, but imaginations made statically moving, reading conjures up the creative imaginative mind. TV rests the mind and slowly atrophies thoughts and creativity; computer interactions with games, deepens the narrowing of the thought, away from others, to chips. Everyone knows chips are not healthy, not potato chips, not chocolate chips, though tastey; neither computer chips alone. But as a tool, as an avenue to other people, to expand imagination in writing and conceiving uses, ways to be used, ways to be helpful to others: first text to talk: allow blind woman to continue significant work in the community (PR),
Reaching to the Heavens
Reaching to the Heavens, the dream of humans since we peered at the stars outside the safety of the cave. Space travel.
Conflict and Differences
Conflict and Differences : Blessed by God, caused by God to save us from our own selves. Limits on name for ourselves: God’s blessing
Working out the bugs
There are some bugs to work out, of course, these are just rough thoughts scratched together.
As way of introductory words to explain Beale Street and ‘Justice’:
“Beale Street is a street in New Orleans, where my father, where Louis Armstrong and the jazz were born,” the quote reads in the opening shot of the movie. “Every black person born in America was born on Beale Street, born in the back neighborhood of some American city, whether in Jackson, Mississippi, or in Harlem, New York. Beale Street is our legacy. This novel deals with the impossibility and the possibility, the absolute necessity, to give expression to this legacy.
“Beale Street is a loud street. It is left to the reader to discern a meaning in the beating of the drums.” James Baldwin
The actual street named Beale Street is located in Memphis. But there is a Beale Street in every city, in every town, in every rural place where people live. While the book/movies is about the racial realities of black discrimination, the injustice of false convictions run rampant in many places against many minorities. In Canada jails are filed with aboriginal peoples. In Alberta and elsewhere the discrimination has turned from <against women falsely accused by their men and then easily convicted> to <men falsely accused by their women and easily convicted without any real proof>. As were men in decades past, these women are encouraged and free to lie even under oath in court, with the courts also freely lying even in decisions to absolve women of their lies and to falsely convict men of things they have never done, and of things that often their women have done to the men. Our courts are no more just than any, ever. Capital punishment is not a sentence given by the judges; it is a sentence worked out by inmates and guards, and by countless people in the communities -not least the RCMP and Police and workers in the ‘Justice’ system, who may or may not believe the lies and false convictions, and who then, regardless, rob reputation, labour opportunities, and health from these innocent not-criminals.
Since the beginning of time people have lied to get ahead, to destroy others who are in their way, or just for the sport of it.
But the truth is known by God, and all will stand before God’s throne to be judged. While Grace is our hope, our proclamation, and God’s promise; there is also the promise that the oppressor, the unrighteous, the destroyers of others will face their end in God’s Judgment. There will be no witnesses needed, no testimony – false or not. God already knows everything.
We trust that what God judges will be gracious. We trust that those who stand against the truth somehow will be brought to stop.
But God is the judge, not us. not any of us
So we leave Justice in God’s hands, because humans botch it so consistently …
and we proclaim grace
and real hope.
Now for the sermon proper:
Lenten Theme Isaiah 58 The acceptable fast brings justice, freedom, food and homes to those without Lessons for this Sunday: Joshua 5:9-12 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Street Could Talk
wonders how the world would be if indeed the streets could speak of
the injustices that God’s people have suffered at the hands of
God’s people. If indeed the disgrace of God’s people would be
removed. If indeed the effects of all the sins of the people would be
“If Beale Street Could Talk” is a movie (adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel of the same title) about a young black man ruined by the in-justice system. A young white man has made unrelenting advances on his fiancée in a store. He stands up for her, drives the white thug off, but not before a dirty cop tries unsuccessfully to arrest the young black man. The dirty copy gets revenge. It is about the dirty justice system whose people make this wonderful, creative, loving young man into an incarcerated black. Everything about this young human being is reduced to one of many young black men jailed and beaten, though innocent.
old has passed away. Everything is made new.
This young man, a sculptor, a young father, makes things new out of chunks of wood. Until a dirty cop and a dirty justice system rob him of his everything, until they rob his family, his wife to be and their child, of everything. The dirty ones rob him by accusing him of a terrible, filthy, horrible rape. They disgrace him. They let him be beaten in jail. They terrorize him with delays upon delays and threats upon threats until he breaks and accepts a plea, a guilty plea of an innocent man, and he serves someone else’s time.
It’s quite the image that Joshua gives as the people gather to celebrate the Passover in the Promised Land: in the English we have God “rolls away” their disgrace. The German gives a hint that the Hebrew is more colourful: ‘Heute habe ich die Schande Ägyptens von euch abgewälzt.’. God ‘waltzes away’ the disgrace of the people. Generations ago they were saved but then enslaved, freed but then trapped in the wilderness … until today with Joshua, they stand in the land promised to Abraham, and they eat from the fruit of the land. No more wandering, no more manna. They have come home, and God welcomes them waltzing away in celebration their layers of slavery and disgrace.
waltzes away our disgrace, our sins, our slavery … and God sets us
For God made Jesus, who did not sin, to bear all the sins of all the people through time, precisely in order that you and I, in order that all of us, would not only be free. God set us free precisely in order that you and I and all of us would be made into the righteousness of God visible, embodied here and now on this earth.
Our freedom, our righteousness, in NO WAY is earned by our actions.
Either we are like the younger son, as we claim all sorts of rights and privileges, and all that is due us … and then we squander the precious things God has given us on the oldest vices available to humans who can choose. We can choose because God made us able to love. To love is to be able to choose to love, which means we must be able to choose not to love, which is to choose evil. So we either choose to squander God’s precious gifts to us …
like the older son as we serve God with great labours and
self-righteousness. We do not squander God’s love, but we
comprehend it completely not.
When God wants to celebrate God’s forgiveness, and a lost sinner’s return to life, we get self-righteously angry. We behave as if we somehow owned God’s will. As if we, with our obedience and labours, have earned all that we have, but even more so we own the right to judge other sinners. We’ve allowed ourselves to become so blind to the grace that daily gives us renewed breath. We want to be better than we are, and comparing ourselves to other’s whose sins are more known we think we are somehow good enough. Thus …
refuse to celebrate with God. We refuse to celebrate with God exactly
what we are created to be and do: we are created to proclaim and
celebrate that God is gracious, forgiving sins, dancing away
disgrace, and feeding us from the produce of the Promised Land.
the same old, same old that has hung around the necks and souls of
humans since the beginning of time.
Even though, all the time, each and every one of us is like either the younger or the elder son, and sometimes we are like both at the same time … Even so God promises us it is different in the Kingdom of God. It is different now, here and now, in the Kingdom of God. For the Kingdom of God is at hand.
the Kingdom of God, all confess that only by Grace do we breathe, or
drink, or eat, or work, or celebrate, or love, or hope.
By Grace all our sins, yours and mine and all of ours, are taken up in the person of Jesus Christ, and we are made into God’s righteousness.
not pretenders. God makes us not just good, not just sometimes good,
not better than others. God makes us into God’s own righteousness.
In that righteousness everything old has indeed passed away. In that righteousness everything is made new. You and I, and each one of us, are made into new creatures. All of creation is made new.
As God’s righteousness you and I and each one of us, really have nothing worth doing other than what Jesus calls us to do, what the Holy Spirit makes us capable of doing. We think, pray, speak and act so that those around us know that the Kingdom of God is at hand, and they are welcomed in just as we are; not because we’ve earned it, not at all. They and we are welcomed in because God wants it that way.
Though we remain sinners all the time, unable to free ourselves, God forgives us each day all our new sins, so that we can forgive ourselves, and so that then we can turn to everyone else and forgive them!
God has made us into Christ’s voice, hands and compassion, so that we will reconcile not only ourselves, but all others, and even the creation so broken … so that we will reconcile all people back to God, so that we will reconcile all creation back to God.
I, and each one of us, are God’s ambassadors.
We stand in the promised land, in the Kingdom of God, and we eat of the fruit of this land, the produce of this Kingdom.
The light of God is bright and the hyenas of home are sent scurrying for cover into their own darkness.
We stand, knowing that God is with us and was with us all the way or we would never reach the promised land. We stand and celebrate the return of each lost sinner. For we know that is us, each day. We trust that God will always be with us, as we arrive in the Promised Land anew each day. As we leave our pack of hyenas in the dark and come into the Light of life.
We trust that this Lent our being Christ’s ambassadors, no matter what it costs us, is our Lenten fast, the fast that God finds acceptable, the fast that brings justice, freedom, food and homes to those who most need them. Most of all our fast brings forgiveness and reconciliation to those who need it most: you and me, and each one of us.
Beale Street Could Talk, we would hear not only the Black man’s
story, or the indigenous man’s story, or the refugee’s story. If
everyone’s Beale Street Could Talk, we would hear Jesus’ story
and ourselves in it.
in this new creation,
the Light Shines!
One day, the Light of Christ will shine Light on every Beale Street story, and the disgrace will be where it belongs.
It’s that marvellous time in the
morning. The light is broken through the darkness, the sun yet to
shine is promised. All is quiet, except the contained roar of burning
wood in the furnace, the left overs from the water heated for coffee
cooling in the pan on the stove, and every once in a while a plastic
container popping loudly as the freeze of last night (or perhaps
still left over from the -32°C storage for a week while I was in
surgery) is slowly pushed back by the flames conductive reach.
Earlier, before the light made the snow
clear, an owl kept measure of the coming dawn with it’s ominous
who, who, who. Who indeed has done all this?
Who is the owl calling to the end of life
on this earth? There was an owl in this man’s drive, not a live
one, but carved from wood. A sign, that stood for years; he was
driven to take his own life by the woman he trusted most; she driven
by an irrational fear that attached itself impromptu on whomever was
close enough. The owl stood and still stands, a sign of a death not
Of course, life is never done with us
until death harvests what is left of us.
In the quiet of the dawning day, not yet demanding so many things be finished, or progressed, or started, one can see the rhythm of the blessed goodness of life. A breath in, a breath out. A heartbeat on the left, then on the right. A cough from the wood heat smoke of yesterday still irritating the fragile, allergy-beaten sinuses.
This is the time that imagination sets
the course of the day. Can you imagine forgiveness for one’s
enemies who attacked and/or harmed you all your yesterdays? Can you
imagine doing forgiveness, not just hoping it is what you’ve
thought well enough to make real?
Can you see the temperature, so cold in
the morning at -20°C, holding the frozen food frozen, the ice packs
in the fridge cold to avoid fuel to keep a fridge cool, the frozen
things frozen outside awaiting a later day for the ground to become
soft? Or do you have to imagine the pain in your hands working out in
Can you see the sun creating electricity
to store in the batteries to give you light, and then with time, you
are able to create words of truth and freedom? Or are you afraid of
the light, for it burns invisibly hot through one’s skin and eyes:
therefrom grow cancers and cataracts, and age-related macular
Can you imagine the sounds of squirrels
chirping, wind breathing softly, kind voices greeting each other,
preparing for the day’s tasks whatever they may be: school, work,
ice fishing, travelling to deliver the goods? Or do you allow the
haunt of yesterday’s abuse and lies run loose bouncing off every
occasioned imagination and sound or light?
Just done, remember the soft warm feel of
water with soap cleaning the breakfast dishes, and cool water rinsing
away the suds.
Imagine Julian of Norwich’s words of
hope realized in your coming days: all will be well, all will be
well, all manner of things will be well.
Now, breathe in and out, the gifts of
life here to share: clean air and water, food sufficient for all,
clothing appropriate, shelter sufficient, meaningful labour, and love
(given and received).
Now, the day calls. Make your way as you have been made able, to share what you’ve been given: blessings upon blessings, forgiveness, love, and hope.