Advent 1 Draft 1 Sermon

The following is the result of my and my wife’s efforts, which in some form she is likely preaching tomorrow at Hope Lutheran Edmonton.

Opening blessing/prayer[from the Psalm, lessons and Jesus’ command to love]:
May God, our only hope and salvation, guard our hearts, minds and souls this Advent, as always, that we may not be put to shame, but that we may know God’s ways, God’s truth, God’s steadfast love. May we trust God’s promises so that even in the most difficult of times, we may reflect God’s right-ness, order, and grace, to our neighbours, ourselves, and even our enemies. Amen.

Happy New Year, on this the first Sunday of the New Church Year, the first Sunday in Advent. Unlike many celebrations that call for exuberance, like Lent, Advent is a sombre celebration of our need for God’s Love and promises, a time to reflect and search out the roots of our faith. The colour is Blue, a rich colour of sky, and water, the basics for life. Blue is also a colour of an honest response to the chaos that grips the world: blue is sadness, even depression.
Blue for us is the colour of Hope, and Advent sits not on the evidence of the state of the world or us in it, but the hope created by God’s powerfully life-giving Promises. God promises us a new creation and steadfast love in the face of the worst the universe can throw at us.

If you came looking to hear the Gospel read today and to receive a soothing, comforting word … Well, hang on, it’s a rough ride first.

Drab Winter may be most appropriate for Advent

Jesus describes the end of time. To translate his images into 21st century awareness of our universe Jesus says:
You will see gravity decay, planets and stars disengage, galaxies splattering across the void. Dis-Order invades the sub-atomic particles of your very being, your skin will crawl with chaos, your minds unwind from within themselves, one moment you are able to be empathetic, to love and remember, the next not and the next moment you are again sentient, aware of what is happening to you and to the world all around.
Intuitively we know our sins and our cumulative sins as human beings are immense. We know we are responsible for some if not most of what’s coming. Global warming is only a small piece of the conundrum. Real guilt is indeed difficult to bear.

How can we respond to this prediction of the end of all time?

There are many similar challenges in life that overwhelm us. It may not signal the end of everything around us, but chaos invades the foundation of our lives at the loss of a beloved, a child, the end of a career, or being ruined by completely false accusations … or news that one has a death-sentence disease.
Will watched his wife Louise beat cancer twice, and it returned a third time. Her battle ended with him standing beside her grave. Two years later Will received news that cancer had invaded his body as well.
George flew as a pilot all his life, until the last medical exam revealed the side-effects of a medication taken years ago, which disqualified him from ever flying again.
Sam stopped his wife again, this time by twisting out of her hand the knife she was going to slash him with. When he made sure she went outside to cool down, she called the police, he was charged, convicted and served 2 years for assault and unlawful confinement.
Amy, not her real name, watched the Courts, time and time again disrupt her efforts to adopt her foster child, born to an addict woman. Then the Courts awarded this not-mother custody, even though the Courts knew her then housemate had sexually abused the not-yet two year old.
It may not be the end of all time, but it certainly is the end of time for us, as we gasp for breath … … … while the world continues on its course around us as if nothing has happened.

Jesus, at these times, points us to the first signs of trees budding new leaves. Jesus tells us: at these points when the end of time threatens our very breathing and being, we can remember God’s promises to make all things new with the coming of the Kingdom of God. The in-breaking of chaos, the end of time, is actually God bringing in a new creation.
God promises that in this new order we will live in safety, justice will be based on truth, instead of lies, and God’s steadfast love, the glue that holds the macro, micro and personal universe in order, will prevail. All right-ness, righteousness, will be God’s alone. Chaos of all kinds will give way to the order of God’s new creation. All people, not just us, will live in safety. All people will live in right relationship with God, with one another, with all of creation. The heavens and all space will sing in harmony. The Holy Spirit will move in our hearts, minds and souls, and we will dance with grace, every step of the day.

God does not just wait to the end of time to bring in the new creation. The Kingdom of God is already here. God fulfills promises in each generation. Christ has come.
CNN know this: and they play every news story as if it heralded something new (and news worthy), as if the world hinged on each small event. In a way it does, and for the news companies, it sells advertising, which is the foundation of their threatened existence.
CBC has ‘Good News’ segments, because it is commonly spoken about that ‘all the news is bad’ which is not true or right. But they appear to angle not so much that the good news is more obviously good, but that compared to the little good news segments, the real news is that much more important, that much more BAD.
The real  bad news is that all hell is breaking loose, just like it did for all the previous generations.

It is as any photographer can tell you the light is most beautiful in contrast to the dark. God’s wonders become more obvious to us, in contrast to the powers of chaos and evil.

Flowing Water in Frozen Winter, Light in the Dark

If we could ever say that Leonard Cohen sang well, it would be his Anthem line: There is a crack in everything, That’s how the light gets in. Indeed, it is through our cracks, our sins, that God’s grace becomes known to us, not just in our minds, but in our hearts and souls. Grace becomes a visceral experience and memory when God gracefully forgives us our sins, and when the Holy Spirit continually takes us ungrateful, undeserving wretched sinners and makes us into saints.
Evil has got the world, our world, by the tail, so to speak, and the Devil is swinging it around, which messes tremendously with gravity and all that is up.

This Advent we face great challenges. The world seems to be falling apart, and the order of creation is threatened by earthquakes, storms, human induced disasters, and even asteroids and nuclear bombs.
Advent is not a time to bury our heads in the sands, or our hearts in the pre-Christmas hectic, nor our souls in all that consumes instead of giving life to all those around us. Advent is a time for serious and sombre soul searching, to discover again God’s steadfast love that holds the universe and our own hearts together, even as the universe and we too lose all bindings and forces that hold creation in place, even gravity and the electric impulses that power our brains.
As the end of all time tears at the foundations of the universe, as the end of our time tears at the core of our being, we need not fear and hate. Instead moved by the Holy Spirit, we can trust God and we can choose to love …
We bask in the beauty of the stars, the wonders of nature, the marvels of the cities, and the light of Christ that shines through each of us, through our brokenness. Love has a place … in every heart, in every galaxy, in every atom of the entire universe, because God created it so.
We pray that we may remain alert to God’s ways. We pray that we will count on God’s promises and the work of the Holy Spirit in us, that we will see in each tragedy and decaying of order, God’s work of making a new creation, also in us!
We will not be put to shame, for God is our rock and our salvation.
Amen

Advent 1 – Outline

Advent 1 Outline

Love is great,

But love becomes more obviously so powerful, so wonderful, so life-giving  …

in the face of hate, lies, sin, … and raw evil and cruelty – in the face of chaos.

God promises our redemption, a new creation, out of the end of the universe, the end of all time.

  1. Advent is
    • The beginning of the New Year, the Church year
    • Time for Reflection, a sombre season
    • Blue
    • Hope
    • So much more than pre-Christmas
    • Reflection on New Beginnings
  2. The Gospel is Hardly Good News
    • Foretelling disruption of the universe
    • 21st Century equivalents
      • macro, micro, psychological
    • What is this? How can we respond? What is this?
  3. Challenges of daily life
    • Can overwhelm us as much as anticipating the end of all time
    • Its not end times, it is as if all time ends for us, even while the world continues without us.
    • How can we respond when we are overwhelmed?
  4. Jesus:
    • Signs of the end, equated to signs of new life.
    • These overwhelming events, end times, or time that ends
      • Are actually God starting something new
  1. New:
    • Live in safety
    • Ruler that executes Justice based on truth, instead of lies and excuses for facts
    • All of the universe, the glue that holds everything in order,
      • Marco, micro, internally, personally
      • This is God
        • God is right-eousness
        • God is the one who makes everything right
        • Right is order, is the opposite of Chaos, is the opposite of Creation (Chaos is the opposite of all that is Good in Creation.)
        • Right for our safety,
        • Right in relationship to God
        • God is what holds chaos at bay
  1. Exactly in the horrendous view of the end of time, nature, world, universe, our minds
    • This is where God is most obviously discernible
    • This is where we see God most clearly
    • In the face of chaos Grace abounds
    • God present always, everywhere, but most obvious to us in the chaos
    • L Cohen: it’s through the cracks that the light gets in.
      • In sinners made saints God makes God present
      • And we see God face to face
  1. This Advent
    • All challenges that we face
    • God is our rightness
    • God is the source, re-creator, and guarantee of our safety, and our everything.
    • God is with us.
    • Time to reflect on the serious things of faith, life and our times.
      • So that the end of all time
      • Or the end of our time
        • Does not catch us unawares
      • So we pray: let us not be put to shame,
        • For God is our rock and our salvation

(I highly recommend reading the blog posts on sermon preparation in the order they are posted. So read the next two first. The visceral images of this week’s Gospel, reflected in the first post, and other references barely explained in the outline above are required to make sense of the outline. Otherwise it is as mundane, spit-warm and boring as the pre-Christmas musac that now pummels every shopper’s brain. Both the destructive power of what is objectionable and the amazing work of God’s Grace healing wretched sinners will be able to be smoothed over leaving us comfortable … even with the impending collapse of the universe, beginning with our minds.)

Beginnings

Beginnings

The snow is deep enough to ski.
I could not ski today.
The cold is mild enough to enjoy.
I could not enjoy today.
The sun was just bright enough to shine through the trees.
I could not take time to see the sun.

Its November only, already deep winter and I need to prepare …
And have little to prepare with, but much to prepare for … maybe.

What I did have is lumber scavenged from a garbage dump, solid 2×4’s 10’ and some 2×6 of various lengths.
And pallets that I pulled apart to use the light 4’ pieces as horizontal supports
For a shelter, an anteroom outside the door, for wood heat to be figured into,
For there is coming a wood stove.
A gift to compensate for the lack of money for propane.
A hope.
A back up.
A plan to use wood
For warmth when the propane gives out or the furnace takes leave again.
Or just when.
It’s a new beginning, not much of one, and it has a long road between today and the use of wood for heat.

So I did take time to see the sun rise … well to see the light of day break in.

And I noticed I am hardly alone in making a new beginning.

A seedling makes its fifth winter

I’m just in the end cycle days, instead of the start-up days.
More like the grass that is here one day and gone the next.

May the last days be many,
Filled with awe-filled wonders,
And great light,
The light of the world,
The King’s light,
Spectural light,
That shines
Through
The cracks in us to reveal the healing wonder of the Holy Spirit.

And yours,
May your new beginnings be worth the price
We all pay for choices
Away from
And towards
Somethings
The exact meaning and cost for which we can hardly know when we make the choices.

But choice we have, the basics of love.
Which is no guarantee that the force of evil will not mow us down long before our long fifth winter.

Still God stands by
Us
Engaged in helping us withstand the trials
And assaults on our being,
Consequences of choosing other than love.
But God does not end the assaults or trials, the consequences,
Nor cures the illness that is the cause.
As the seedling, we have the possibilities to grow strong,
And wave at the wind, the blowing of the Spirit.

There are no guarantees, just chocolates, of which we never know what we will get.

Thanks to the Forest.

How is it … ?

How is it that we always think that –

the hero of a movie cannot die,
that disaster cannot overtake us to our end,
that evil will not prevail over us.
When all the signs are …
all the evidence is ….
and all our experience would tell us
that it has already overcome all the goodness that was once given us,
and left us in ruins?
This is hope.
Perhaps out of hope will come a resurrection of life that is goodness …
as all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.
This is not a happy ending to every life …
This is not a happy ending to every challenge …
This is not a happy ending to every story, or movie … though Hollywood would like us to believe otherwise.
After all, who wants to pay for entertainment that does not provide what one wants to, at least temporarily, imagine that life will be: that life, if not gentle with us along the way, will at least be generous to us in the near future, without too much lost time and suffering thrown at us first.
Hollywood endings are warm and fuzzy, and give us optimism.
The real challenges of life are not met by optimism.
The really devastating challenges require hope.
And
divine
assurance
that all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.
How is it that we always think that –
God is gracious and generous,
That Love is the meaning of life,
That Hope is everything?
Only by Grace, through the work of the Holy Spirit,
can we, in the face of the brutal reality of evil,
say with our whole heart, mind and soul,
that
all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.

Who Is My Enemy – In the Canoe

Who Is My Enemy – In the Canoe?
An ode by a man under attack by so many lies, and so many liars and those who acquiesce to evil; an ode in the form of a prayer to God, with you listening in.

Beauty
There is great beauty in nature, in photography done well, in the soul of so many people when they are met with Grace. There is beauty in my life.
Is there beauty in your life?

‘My’ Canoe
I am able whenever the weather allows, to jump in a canoe and paddle a lake, to breath clear air and watch the sun rise and set, to watch loons dive away and beaver swim by, to watch the ducklings grow, to see the geese migrate south in their noisy, majestic “V’s”.

Everyone has something of a canoe, even if it must be only in your imagination. And it is precious. So

Don’t Fiddle,
Don’t Faddle,
Don’t Piddle
Just Paddle

Paddle in your canoe.

Who is my enemy when I can be in a canoe?
No one can be, for I am free.
Being free does not stop the attacks on me, nor does it fix the ruin I have been brought to by lies at all levels.
Being free does not put Evil to rest, but it gives me and many others life, life abundant.

Am I hurt as my sunset may be forced early upon me?
Yes, beyond anything I could imagine!
Am I going to let myself become angry?
Beyond what I cannot control, of course not. I do not allow myself to be that kind of a person.
Why would I allow this, this worst of treatment, so unjust, unethical, and downright mean … why would I allow this or anything else to change me into something like the people who do this to me?
Would I want to become a bully? Would I want to become indiscriminately mean and even cruel like the many people who have together taken every thing from me except a sleeping bag, a tent, a bicycle, and my clothes?
Would I choose to allow them to take my soul too?
Would I want to choose that the Gaslighting that my own family started and carried on without pause, and is now regularly repeated in so many ways by so many people … would I want the Gaslighting to have the intended effect on me?
Would I want to forget which are the truths, which the lies, about me?

Who am I,
that I can be in a canoe?

I am:
Kind
Gracious
Unconditionally loving
Forgiving
Slow to anger
Healthy focusing the energy of anger towards healthy changes
Honest
Clear about reality
Clear about what I have done and what I have not done
Tremendous with children, at a momentary meeting, as an acquaintance, as friend, as parent.
Sexually healthy, respectful, faithful,
Loyal
Respectful of all genders, colours, faiths
Healthy:
Mentally resilient and creative and as always uniquely equipped to help others, and remaining very healthy despite continuing efforts to Gaslight me.
Physically proactively providing for my health care needs and remaining very healthy despite all efforts to deny me my health.
I am a pacifist, a practical pacifist.
I am a sacramental mystic.
I am simultaneously a saint and a sinner.
I am a child of God, a saint in the eternal light of Christ.

This is who I am not:
I am not mean,
I am not crass, profane,
I am not hateful or begrudging
I am not vengeful
I am not quick to anger
I am not reckless with my health and my health care
I am not dishonest, I do not lie,
I am not confused about reality, projecting falsehoods on to others
I have not forgotten what I have done and what I have not done or confused what others falsely say with what actually happened, what I said, what I did, what I thought, what I strove for
I am not abusive to anyone, especially not children, I certainly am not perverse with children
I am not a sexual deviant, nor promiscuous, nor a misogynist nor a misandrist.
I am not disloyal, I do not betray anyone or any trust.
I am not ill, though this sustained attack on my person has landed me in emergency surgery.
I am not mentally ill, nor psychopathic nor psychologically disordered in any way.
To all and any who accuse me of being suicidal I say very clearly that I am immune.

To my enemies:
I ask the plethora of my enemies, is this, the person I am not, really who you want me to change to become, as if that would relieve you of your responsibilities for bullying, cruelty and lies?
Would you like that I succumb to the constant Gaslighting and become mentally ill, psychotic, disordered, or not resilient?
Would you like that I respond to accusations that I am going to kill myself that I say instead, “Ok, when and where and how?” [Now wouldn’t that be perverse, and wholly unnatural!]
I am not reckless with my physical health, nor passive about it, nor uninformed, nor un-engaged.

I am certainly not passive about anything that I can change for the better:
Rather I take to heart the prayer:
My I have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.

I am not violent nor unrealistic about my part and place in life.
Instead I choose not to become vindictive, or even angry, because I would not want to be that kind of a person. I’ve sacrificed much in life to remain a pacifist, one who forgives instead of being vindictive.
Would you prefer or recommend that I become vindictive and destructive, violent and scheming?
I am not disconnected from my Creator and this Creation, in all aspects and dimensions I am able to participate in Creation I do.
Would you want that I become a one dimensional idiot?
I claim no goodness on my own merit, but all good I am is a gift from God. I accept full responsibility for all bad that I am, think, do and allow by inaction to happen. I can do this because I fully trust God’s forgiveness and blessings.
I am not a child of the Devil, Evil, or Decay.



Who do my enemies think they want me to become, when I can be in a canoe?

How is it that you wanted me to change?
You said you want to provide services to me, for me to choose to become more stable. You suggested that I move in with my wife from whom I am separated. I have told you and told you again, that my ex would then attack the few assets my wife holds onto by a threadbare string, and two more people would be out on the street, homeless like I am. And you thought that would be an improvement? You said yes that I should choose this!?!

What kind of an upside down world do my enemies think they can force on me?

How can I respond to the lies and terrible things done to me by so many people?
How can one respond to such cruelty, such destructive cruelty, against me and the children, against so many other men and children?

Cruelty comes in many forms. One is this Gaslighting, this telling me that somehow I am responsible for and able to change the fact that lies by so many at all levels in the Justice system have made me homeless, and that these lies have put the children at great risk.

Cruelty comes not only as commissions, but also as omissions.
It comes from people who stand by and do nothing to know the cruelty done.
It comes from people who close their eyes, ears, and mouths in the face of evil.
It comes from people who know full well what is done, especially people with authority, and they do nothing because it is risky to do anything in the face of evil.
“The world is in greater peril from those who tolerate or encourage evil than from those who actually commit it.” Albert Einstein

What am I to do?
I tell you, I bind sins, and continue to live with Grace.
I choose, as an ordained person, to continue as the gracious person I am, but to name these acts against me (and similar acts against so many other men and children) for what they are: they are evil.
I choose to ‘bind these sins’, those of commission and omission. God will judge those responsible. The judgment will be in the afterlife, but as God is not bound by time, the effects of that judgement begin already now.

Except I have forgiven my family, those I was asked to and did promise to love unconditionally, those who I have at great cost forgiven, and whom I continue to forgive. Because I know where their sins begin, and I trust that it is not in maliciousness, but in mental illness. But even if it is maliciousness, how can I not forgive and continue to forgive people who were so close and so powerfully loving and so life changing for me (both good change at first and then so terribly destructive against me, without reason from me)?

Having left this cruelty against me and others in God’s hands, I am free.
Free to respond with grace to the doers and those that acquiesce. It is not as if I have forgiven them (other than my family), but their evil will not define me, nor will it change me but for the better. I will work to stop this cruelty to men and children, as much as God makes me able.

Most of all, I will not forget Beauty, in all its aspects, in this world; the beauty of nature, of light reflected in photography, the beauty of hard work and physical health providing for oneself and for others, the beauty of words that inspire, and the beauty of love.

All of this is possible because God provides story upon story for us, through which we can know something of God as

God who loves unconditionally all people, God who wishes us all life, and life abundant.

Who can be my enemy when I am in the canoe, steeped in the beauty of God’s creation?
Only Evil is my enemy, and God has defeated Evil, it just does not know it. But I can live that it is defeated.

[Last minute addition:]

The RCMP will not though, just minutes ago they evicted me, so that homeless, with a borrowed trailer on Crown land, I now have no place to live except on the run from this borrowed patch to the next with my tent. In this random camping location I was there no more than 14 days at a time. I now have really no where to go that is even a bit safe. This sin is bound as well, for while I move out every 14 days and stay out for 72 hours, as per the requirements, there are frequently others who do not, who stay for months … and not the RCMP, nor any other authority, do anything to them, even though they are clearly living there setting up for the winter, clearly set up having spent months there. I abide by the regulations, and am evicted. Others who clearly do not abide by the rules are not evicted.

If this bothers you let them know.

This is how we deal with homeless people. We make it impossible for them.

God save us. God save me. God show me the beauty available now, still with my canoe, which now is no canoe at all. It is another nothing, taken from me. And yet I will find a way to live determined not by my enemies, but in Grace.

 

 

What about you?
Who is your enemy when you are in your canoe (wherever and whatever it means for you to be in your canoe)?
Where is beauty and grace for you?

Forgiveness

Forgiveness
There are really terrible things that people do to other people.

In life these terrible things sometimes stick out above everything else.

There are really terrible things that have been done to me, lies that have been told, and the effects have been devastating.
There are much worse things that are done to others, that have been done to others through history.
As for me: I used to have assets of $350k before, and $250k after.
It was not much of a retirement since I was always a stay at home dad, but it was something, and I freely gave that $100k, or so I thought, because I trusted what I was told: that I brought joy, life and health to others.

Now, directly because of the lies told about me, I have growing debt and no assets, except a bicycle, my clothes, a tent, a sleeping bag. My reputation is in tatters. No one will hire me. Everything that sustains my physical living in the harsh environment of winter is borrowed. Everything that allows me to drink and eat and move and comply with sentences against me is borrowed. Everything and every minute is given to me as gift. So I am still standing. I am still breathing. I am still able to see, record and share the light and the infinite breaking in on our finite existence. But every day everything is borrowed. Or maybe it always has been, and we just make up that we possess things, instead of being loaned them by those around us.

What I did ought to be lauded. I ought not to be judged or condemned or sacrificed or sentenced.
I forgave.
I forgave because I could not allow myself to hate.

I forgive because I will not allow myself to hate.
“Hate is a very big, very hungry thing with lots of very sharp teeth and it will eat up your whole heart and leave no room left for love. We are lucky that God understands this. He is the one that will hand out the punishment so that we do not have to carry all this terrible hate inside of us, if we do not want to, if we are willing to forgive.” From the movie Amish Grace.

We Lutherans proclaim a very powerful Gospel, a Gospel that God loves us unconditionally, that God extends free Grace and Forgiveness to us, no matter what we do, good or evil, so that we can live freely.
We are not free to be whatever we wish to be, but free to respond to such amazing Grace given to us by offering grace and forgiveness to others, no matter what they do, good or evil.

Forgiveness
does not
and cannot
come easily
or
cheaply.

It is costly.

Forgiveness is so costly, sometimes more costly than we could imagine.

My forgiving has cost me …
everything.

An acquaintance wrote me: “You are a love-worthy person and I am glad I met you.”

Everyone is a love-worthy person.
And this is why and how God graciously forgives us, so that we can see each other as worthy of love.

What do you see today?
Who do you see today?
How do you see today?

Do you see with a heart consumed by hate?
Or
Do you see with a heart graciously forgiven and made capable of forgiving and loving in spite of what evil is done to you?

See the light

by following the darkness of the shadows.

 

Celebrate the light.
by seeing the light in all that is every-day.

Share the light

by showing the big picture to others, by showing how the light has lit up your path.


All our light comes from the holy infinite God all gracious loving one who gives us life, and breath.

So breathe.

Be gracious
and forgiving
especially of your enemies,

as well as yourself.

Everything is borrowed, given to us for a short time.

“Wir sind alle Bettler.”

MLuther

Indomitable Life in the Deep Cold Darkness

Indomitable Life in the Deep Cold Darkness

The cold of this past week was unrelenting.

Yes it got to -35°C. Not just once for a few hours but twice, staying below -30°C for long, cold, dark hours. And during that time there was no furnace that would run, taken down by a what, or was it a who? With repairs two nights distant, two deep cold dark nights away.

Yes, there are more than a few people who know some of the truth of what has been done to me xxxx but that I am under threat if I speak the truth (the xxxx indicate phrases I needed to delete). Most people have believed the lies told about me: they think that I am some kind of monster that is portrayed nowadays in film and tv as the ultimate male gone amok  x x x x.

I am nothing of the sort.

I am a person who at great cost to myself has practiced unconditional love for those closest to me  x x x x 

I am a person practiced in bringing others to experience Grace, even in the midst of the brokenness of their lives, often after surviving the death of loved ones, even by suicide.

Yet I am told, repeatedly, that I have done what I have not done, that I am a person I am not and have never been nor would ever allow myself to become.

 X x x x

How is this even possible?

That impossibility become real is the deep dark cold that corrupts and consumes the goodness in life, not just for me and those close to me, but for everyone who encounters this dark cold.  X x x x  Our sense of truth is so assaulted and violated that it will be a miracle  x x x x  if anyone is left capable of receiving and then giving unconditional love.

Grace is such a miracle, and grace requires human hands and hearts to carry it and deliver it, to reflect it as light … to show by example that Grace does exist … unconditionally for us all.

 

Yet in spite of the unrelenting deep cold darkness

I stand, surviving the cold, by faith through grace alone.

Who will stand with me?

Or

Who will continue to stand against me?

There are so many people who know a piece or two of the truth which would make obvious the lies told about me. There are a few people who know so much truth about the lies being told about me. If only one or two people came forward with the truth they know, the lies could not continue to ruin lives all around; and the conglomerations of lies are not innocent; they have already brought people to their deaths; they will bring more people to their deaths by their own hands.

 

Who will you be, in the face of the deep, cold, darkness that invades your lives?

Will you be an agent of Grace, or one who impedes others knowing Grace is also for them?

 

“First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
“Because I was not a Socialist.

“Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
“Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

“Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
“Because I was not a Jew.

“Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

Martin Niemoller from Wikipedia

“Friedrich Gustav Emil Martin Niemöller (German: [ˈniːmœlɐ]; 14 January 1892 – 6 March 1984) was a German anti-Nazi theologian and Lutheran pastor.[1][2] He is best known for a widely-paraphrased statement which he made in different versions, one of which is “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-because I was not a Socialist. … Then they came for me-and there was no one left to speak for me.” [see above.]

He was a national conservative and initially a supporter of Adolf Hitler,[3] but he became one of the founders of the Confessing Church, which opposed the Nazification of German Protestant churches. He vehemently opposed the Nazis’ Aryan Paragraph,[4] but made remarks about Jews that some scholars have called antisemitic.[5] For his opposition to the Nazis’ state control of the churches, Niemöller was imprisoned in Sachsenhausen and Dachau concentration camps from 1938 to 1945.[6][7] He narrowly escaped execution. After his imprisonment, he expressed his deep regret about not having done enough to help the victims of the Nazis.[4] He turned away from his earlier nationalistic beliefs and was one of the initiators of the Stuttgart Declaration of Guilt.[4] From the 1950s on, he was a vocal pacifist and anti-war activist, and vice-chair of War Resisters’ International from 1966 to 1972.[8] He met with Ho Chi Minh during the Vietnam War and was a committed campaigner for nuclear disarmament.[9]

Wikipedia about Martin Niemöller

Who are they coming for today, for whom you do not speak out?

 

What do you see around you?

The COLD and the DARK settling in again?

 

 

OR

 

GRACE and BEAUTY of light, the light that brings truth even in the darkness?

 

 

Can you find the path to the light?
The light that rises indomitably even in the deep dark cold.

 

The path is never straight, and often meanders at many crossroads on its way to the light.

 

We can be no more than ones who reflect the light of Grace. And sometimes when we have so little life left in us we can at most point in the deep, dark, cold to where the light is reflected, to others who reflect the light.

 

 

Then, by the reflected light, we can show others the path …
The path that winds its way toward home,
home where the infinite meets our finite lives,
turning everything upside down, inside out
and
warm with the goodness of life,
the indomitable life
given to us all by Grace.

 

And we are left able in the cold to walk on water,

 

for there is no other choice.

 

 

Most every path we tread is covered
with water,
frozen water,
snow and ice.

Miracles of indomitable life often only occur in the face of the deepest, darkest, coldest ….

 X x x x

Best Response

Best Response

There are innumerable accounts in written history and in literature (reflecting the truths of life throughout history) … accounts of abuse and bullying ruining lives.

The accounts cover the gamut from horrors of war, to abuse between identifiable groups as often as not closely related to each other, to religious based hatred gone amok, to scapegoating of all kinds including systemic lies created and augmented against an innocent and even admirable person … lies that ruin the innocent in order to allow the larger group experience some cathartic release of dissonance created by their own internal conflict which is too expensive for them to honestly recognize and deal with (see Girard), to conflict between intimate partners where one, often a high functioning borderline personality which is able to charm others to believing the most horrific lies about their partner bringing the innocent and admirable partner to ruin for actions and despicable behaviours that actually belong to the person with borderline personality.

While our (my family and I, and many others including my ex) faith is Lutheran Christian, a particular faith based on mystics’ and sacramental (mundane made holy by God’s Grace alone) theologians through countless generations, and while our Canadian society now identifies bullying as an unacceptable behaviour and focuses on children, youth and young adults, we are doing very little to name, address and eradicate bullying by adults of adults. And we have not ‘cracked that nut’ because our leaders who could call us to account more likely as not have built their careers on bullying others in order to get ahead, to gain the power that they exercise.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bullying “Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power, which distinguishes bullying from conflict.[1] Behaviors used to assert such domination can include verbal harassment or threat, physical assault or coercion, and such acts may be directed repeatedly towards particular targets. Rationalizations of such behavior sometimes include differences of social class, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, appearance, behavior, body language, personality, reputation, lineage, strength, size, or ability.[2][3] If bullying is done by a group, it is called mobbing.[4]”

Between intimate partners bullying takes on a very personal, psychological devastation of the victim as the very relationship that ought to be based on unfettered trust and ought to provide unconditional love, while the victim engages in the relationship to provide all of that for the abuser (often as not unrecognized as the abuser by the victim until it is too late), the abuser exercises all sorts of control, projects her own failures on to her victim and makes unreal demands of behaviour of the victim who soon enough recognizes the extreme costs to not complying … the costs are devastating loss, often loss of children, financial security, home, and reputation … and in the end always the loss of one’s own life.

See http://www.humanservices.alberta.ca/documents/PFVB1100-men-abused-by-women-booklet.pdf, http://www.humanservices.alberta.ca/documents/PFVB1401_men-abused-by-women.pdf, http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/domestic-violence-against-men/art-20045149, and https://goodmenproject.com/ethics-values/women-abuse-men-often-called-abuse-fiff/:

“The ease with which the genders in the piece can be reversed shows that abusive relationships are about power and control, not specifically male or female behavior, and that women use the same power levers, as well as some of their own (such as withholding affection or sex) to dominate their victims. Additionally, in “genderizing” abuse as a primarily male behavior, we minimize and, in a way, legitimize, women’s abusive behavior.”

So we focus on bullying by children, youth and young adults, projecting our own abhorrent behaviours on them in order to exorcise our own cognitive dissonance about our own behaviours that have netted us our privileges and power. And we focus on abuse by men of women, fully denying the devastation caused by women abusing men, women who are more often than not dominant passive aggressive manipulative controllers who exercise demeaning control over their males partners that way too often leads to suicide as the only escape. For the foundational work on surviving the devastating effects of a loved one with borderline personality disorders see STOP WALKING ON EGGSHELLS: Taking Your Life Back When Someone You Care About Has Borderline Personality Disorder by Paul Mason, Randi Kreger, and the companion THE STOP WALKING ON EGGSHELLS WORKBOOK, Practical Strategies for Living with Someone Who Has Borderline Personality Disorder.

While our faith calls us to recognize that each person is simultaneously a sinner (dammed mess of a human) and a saint (a perfect example of God’s grace embodied in a human – but not by merit of the person, only by the Grace of God transforming that sinner into a saint), and as recipients of Grace that makes us able and deserving (by grace alone) to even breath air yet alone enjoy the privileges of life Jesus Christ calls us imperfect yet perfect humans to exercise that same grace toward each other … which means we sacrifice our lives (from small bits to our actual mortal lives) to exercise forgiveness and unconditional acceptance of other sinners in order that they also can hear of and experience the transforming power of God’s Grace for them … while we are called to sacrifice in contrast the people of the world around us, and even many of us, including those with borderline personality disorders, systematically and habitually exercise abuse and bullying against all in their path in order to get ahead, and then falsely judge others for supposedly being exactly what they are.

Caught in the devastation of a borderline personality disordered beloved, and the ensuing scapegoating and bullying that threatens to not only ruin my life but likely end it, how does one, living by Grace Alone, respond?

There is only one response: to live with grace, to live as well as one can, to find Grace and Beauty in each moment in each person encountered, and to live with as much joy and gratitude as possible.

For me, as a photographer among many other vocations and skills, that means to use the equipment I have left (one result of abuse was the loss of my some of the best SLR cameras, lenses and lighting equipment, as well as software) to capture and share beauty right in my ‘own backyard.’

Enjoy with me that these photos are possible, even with a cell phone camera. What a marvel compared to my first digital camera that cost more than three times as much!

On the water with my wife’s canoe, the marvelous item that makes our presence literally on the water possible. While others have yachts and houseboats and ski boats and fishing boats and even kayaks, this simple and relatively inexpensive, therefore possible, possession requires our own muscle power to get it into the water and then our own muscle power to move it across the water … but what a view into the marvels of beauty:

The Boat

Shoreline Trees Caught in the Sunset Light

The Loon of Haunting Cries

(Sorry it’s not with a telephoto lens to capture the loon properly!)

Sunset on the Water

A Rare Selfie: Golden Light on a Face Made Ancient by Abuse and Bullying

Relaxing by the New Fire Ring Properly Made (as we clean up yet another trashed random campsite on crown land.) That’s sand on an area without roots likely below, covered with the sand not 10 feet away and clear of trees above, ringed with substantial enough rocks to contain the fire in a ring large enough and a bit oblong to not necessitate wood laid into the fire also laying across the ring of rocks and outside the ring.

 

 

We bask in a night’s rest in the quiet beside the lake, to the lonely cry of the loon … As the sun rises we wake to the white bark of birch against the marvelous sparkling water of the lake.

Life is good, even if some (many) people simply cannot be even decent yet alone grace-filled. As for me and my family (and all my children), we will live Grace and appreciate beauty.

The Human Project: Knowing Oneself

While the darkness imposes itself on us at such quantities and qualities that cannot ever be denied, at times overwhelming us, and all of us, humans that we are, eventually even unto our own deaths … yet there is always light.

Light exposes the truths that are hidden, hidden by darkness and by blindness chosen so as not to have to face reality.

While the NW sky even at 23:45 is mostly pressed into darkness, we fight back as always with light, small light, wasted light, light that is to provide for safety, a safety of ourselves from ourselves, the most dangerous wild animals on earth. Our light is incomparable to the light of the world.

Yet we waste even our minuscule light allowing much to interfere with the true light and the true beauty of the darkness. Our light pollution is maddening, for there are lights that do not toss light upwards and outwards, but limit their disruption of the nature of night to a downward funnel, so that from the fourth floor, and even not far from the multiple cones of light illuminating the threat of darkness, one can see the wonders of the sky, the stars, the moon, and even the profound deep darkness that night is; and wonder at how marvellous it is all.

To know oneself is to know the darkness and to know the light reflected into oneself, and made visible in many and various ways.

It is to comprehend oneself in relation to all of the universe. Of course that is impossible, we are finite, but it is to understand and be ever curious about how the world is, and how it is that people do what they do to live in the world. And how one fits and does not fit into these various efforts to survive what otherwise would surely kill us all: the lack of air, water, food, clothing, shelter, meaningful labour and unconditional love received and in response also given.

It is on the one hand to strive, as if building a tower of Babel, to gather others together in community to strive, not to be gods or to displace God in the heavens with our efforts (the Babel error), but to make life whole for all, to strive to reach towards the heavens and to do the work of God, the work of Grace; which efforts cannot succeed, but are worth everything in the striving to do, for God completes for us great grace.

It is on the other hand to recognize humbly that not only will one strive to build the tower, as if to displace God and to falsely claim to be gods, but one will always fail at that effort, and fail miserably to one’s own disgrace and to great cost of those around one. Yet God will take of our efforts even to displace God with ourselves as gods, and God will redeem these efforts and out of them created miracles, the miracles of Grace, of Blessedness, of love and hope.

The question is only will one see oneself building the Babel, and it’s lie; and at the same time see God’s gracious hand (not reaching out to take us into the heavens) but coming down to us at our own level(s) to be with us, redeem our foolishness, to forgive us, and to give us the fullness of life; and that repeatedly each moment of our lives, but only by Grace, as undeserved gift to each and all of us?

We live then not striving to please God (an effort that continually not only fails but kills others and even ourselves in the process), but knowing that God has made us pleasing to God, we are free to do and be whatever … not so that we are free to behave so that God has more to forgive; but instead to be in this universe in such ways as to bring life, the same gracious life God repeatedly gives to us, to bring the fullness of life to others.

We can choose to behave toward the stranger to bring our behaviour to them so as to expect and in fact pull out of them the best in them, to assume that is who they are, and to interact with them trusting that they also wish to be their best also with us.

We can choose to behave toward our friends, the closer the more honestly and completely, to reflect back to the both the dark, destructive choices they are, AND the blessed goodness that God places in them in each moment.

And we can choose to behave toward our spouse: to be the most honest reflection of them back to themselves; not leaving out the evil that is the beloved, nor any of the blessedness that is the beloved, to give them the greatest success in knowing themselves most fully, for them to know the universe and their place in it, and for them to know God and God’s relationship to them which frees one to live full of grace, love, and hope.

And to hope that from strangers, our friends and one’s spouse, one will receive this ongoing loving revelation of who one is in this universe.

This is not easy, simple, or common, giving this gift of insight grace to others. It is easy to make the attempt half heartedly or even not at all, and to fail in either of two directions: either in giving only darkness or in giving only a rose coloured glass version of reality.

In either case the same darkness that destroys life

by giving the spouse or other only the reflection of all that is wrong with them,

or by giving the spouse or the other the reflection of them that leaves out all that is wrong with them.

The most devastating destruction comes though when one’s spouse not only critiques one constantly, but does so falsely. Either she does this because she knows only darkness and cannot see the light; or she sees the darkness that is herself, cannot face it, so instead projects it on to the spouse.

In this ‘dorian grey’ like struggle to survive without blemish, the spouse literally sucks the life right out of you until there is only death. Even if one still walks on top the grass and the dandelions are down one is left a shell of what once was a live human.

To know oneself wholly is impossible, but to strive to know oneself fully, both darkness and light, is to strive to bring life and grace to others.

To know oneself is to be humble, curious, and gracious, enough so that one can gently laugh at the limits that one is in the world; and to gently speak the truth to others, of their limits and gifts.

Reality is wonderfully composed, and never does it yield to darkness nor to pure light; for either is only knowable in this universe in conjunction with the other.

The darkness of the summer night and our human efforts to over come darkness with our own lights.

“A smile is the beginning of peace.” St. Theresa

So let us begin …

by gently, lovingly, smiling and even laughing at ourselves,

at the darkness that otherwise is so destructive,

and the light that is such a miraculous gift.

And in the morning the light and fog compete as the early summer light invades the sleeping hours of most.

There have been so many

There have been so many –

things done that are simply not right.

people deprived of life for no good reason.

lies told to ruin others just to have … to have what … the lie that one did nothing wrong?

processes used to reinforce that there is no justice or grace?

perversions demanded with no understanding of the hell that was?

hopes beyond hope that are still waiting for next year, next year in Jerusalem.

loves and life giving beliefs that are perverted to rob so many of life.

deaths … senseless deaths … just because they could … and never have to be accountable.

travels that bring one so far and yet one stays all too close, and

travels that bring one almost nowhere, and yet one stays oh so far distant.

resurrections … only because life is more powerful than death.

renewed hope that someday … next year in Jerusalem … the truth will be revealed,

and understood,

and acted upon … with grace.

Matthäus  10.27ff

Menschenfurcht und Gottesfurcht

27 Was ich euch sage in der Finsternis, das redet im Licht; und was ihr hört in das Ohr, das predigt auf den Dächern.
28 Und fürchtet euch nicht vor denen, die den Leib töten, und die Seele nicht können töten; fürchtet euch aber vielmehr vor dem, der Leib und Seele verderben kann in der Hölle. 29 Kauft man nicht zwei Sperlinge um einen Pfennig? Dennoch fällt deren keiner auf die Erde ohne euren Vater. 30 Nun aber sind auch eure Haare auf dem Haupte alle gezählt. 31 So fürchtet euch denn nicht; ihr seid besser als viele Sperlinge.

There have been so many …

but no pictures can make it right.

Nothing can make it right, except that …

that one remembers everything, and treats the Täter as if the Tat were not.

Doch

Doch

there is life and hope that next year in Jerusalem