24 Hours, Ours Again

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Before the Sun Sets,

What Will We

Be and Do

These Hours of Ours?

Isaiah 2:4

He shall judge between the nations,
and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,
and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more.

Luke 3:14

Soldiers also asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’

Words of Grace For Today

God chose to make a life for us, a life filled with peace, grace and love for all people.

We’ve turned it into an entirely different thing; it’s cruel, short, and disappointing. Instead of loving all people, we’ve learned to exert our will over others. Conflicts dominate couples, families, churches, cities, countries and the world.

Isaiah has seen it all. Actually Isaiah is more than one person of more than one generation, so ‘he’ has seen it all through multiple generations, from before Israel was conquered and exiled to Bablylon, during the exile when most of the leaders were in Babylon, and when the exiles return to rebuild Israel. Isaiah starts early on with the vision of God’s justice prevailing, so that, even as Israel is under attack by it’s more powerful neighbours, war will not exist any more.

It’s quite the hope-filled vision, one that we can easily claim as our own still today. We are still caught in the turmoil, suffering, and destruction of conflicts. Evil seems to win at every turn, and the best people suffer injustices they do not deserve. Canada, so proud, polite, and reserved as it may have a reputation of being, is no exception. Evil abounds, corruption prevails, the unjust accumulate more and more … and more and more people suffer trying to live on less, many without enough to subsist on.

Jesus comes promising God’s future is now. People want to see that play out in their daily lives. First they want the Roman rulers to give them independence. Then they want the religious leaders to be replaced with truly faithful priests. And they want prosperity for all people.

So we today would still wish for ourselves. The names of rulers and corrupt religious leaders and evil-doers have changed but the ‘game’ of this cruel, short, and disappointing life are pretty much still the same.

Jesus’ promise, though, is not to bring all that to be. Instead, Jesus leads people to a reform that starts within.

For example, there will still be soldiers. The will be just, not corrupted, and be true peace-keepers.

All our roles in life will be similarly reformed from within. Instead of holding our own interests first, we will celebrate God’s blessings by sharing the basics of life with everyone, ensuring that all people more than subsist. All people will live abundant lives, able to share God’s blessings with their neighbours.

Today, how is the Holy Spirit reaching into our lives to reform our hearts to see not the cruel, short, and disappointments of life, but God’s abundant blessings freely showered on us all?

Will we spend today again chasing after ‘our fair share’ of the limited resources of earth and life? OR

Will we remember all we have is free gift from God and be ready and eager to share these blessings with everyone in need?

Today. It’s just 24 hours. Everything happens within 24 hours. Today is ours to do with as we choose. What will we choose to be and do in these hours?

What!? Not Again!

Thursday, May 26, 2022

.

.

Drecho

It sounds like an onomatopoeia deleted expletive, but

it’s lots worse!

It will be a word that puts the fear in anyone hearing a drecho is approaching!

It’s just one new word that goes with an angry planet striking back.

Psalm 92:12-15

The righteous flourish like the palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. In old age they still produce fruit; they are always green and full of sap, showing that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him.

John 16:22

So you have pain now; but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.

Words of Grace For Today

Here it is again just like a storm that is about to level everything in its path: the righteous flourish and in old age they still produce fruit, always green and full of sap.

Well let me set the record straight. Yes, the Psalmist often gives great words of wisdom for us, but this! No. The righteous do not flourish, not like palm trees, not like cedars in Lebanon.

The righteous usually go down in flames as the world attacks them because we humans cannot stand to have someone around that is better than us. The righteous usually do not reach old age, so forget about flourishing in old age. It’s like being a bold pilot. Being righteous keeps one from getting old.

But take another step back: there really are no righteous people. We are all sinners, bound to sin no matter what we do and righteousness is only something God gives to us, substitutes for us ‘for the record’ even though the truth is we pretty much stank at everything we’ve done.

Or so our Lutheran faith might lead us to believe.

A bit more accurately we can say that no one is righteous on their own. Only by God’s grace do we do anything good. God’s grace abounds, so there are plenty of people doing good things. It’s just none of us are righteous apart from God working in us, and overall we remain sinners our whole life long, no matter what. No matter what!

So no one is righteous. Forgiven, Accepted, Adopted, Blessed, Loved, and Sent, but not really righteous.

One of the favourites sins of people (of all time, the Psalmist included) is to judge people, oneself included, and to come up with the results that I and mine are good enough to be righteous and them there over there, those other people are certainly not righteous. Us being righteous means we get to claim certain benefits, yada yuda, ladida yado.

There is, though, a promise in the Psalmist’ words, and it’s not to be missed.

As God makes us righteous, we are planted in God’s court, and even in old age, the God-made-righteous will still produce fruit (that is, good works by God’s grace!)

Lots of things go by the wayside and are lost as one ages. Don’t I know, as I struggle to run with pained knees before I remember (I used to know this without remembering) that I’ve given up running to preserve my health and ability to walk into old age (though I feel it’s more like a slide on a banana peel right through old age into the gaping wide and deep grave.)

It’s nice to know, actually it’s about as precious as can be, that God keeps the grace flowing into and through us even as we age. Grace is not something we lose as we age, since it’s not dependent on us, but comes from God.

Jesus broadens the promise. Life is tough and there will be lots of pain, like in the knees and everywhere including the poor old heart ticking away -only sometimes taking a break for a few minutes to rest. – Through all the pain we shall survive and come to see Jesus again, and have our full joy returned to us.

That I can go for

and trust no matter what comes my way, even a drecho.

God knows there is enough shtako and sin coming right at me!

And at all of us!

Only because God by grace makes us righteous, we know to say:

God is our rock, and there is no unrighteousness in God.

That has to be more than enough to start off a new day!

God’s Time

Thursday, May 19, 2022

No Matter the Darkness We Face,

God Keeps an Eye On Us,

a Gracious Eye.

Psalm 77:9-10

Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion?’ Selah

And I say, ‘It is my grief that the right hand of the Most High has changed.’

Romans 5:20

But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more!

Words of Grace For Today

It hurts.

That sums up much of the evil that we encounter in life, whether we are the cause or others are the cause.

It hurts.

We cry to God, but it seems God does not answer.

Selah

[Selah is an unknown word in Hebrew that shows up as a refrain in the Psalms – ‘God be gracious!’ or ‘God hear us!’ … or it may mean ‘so it is’ … or it may just mean ‘Sigh!’ or some other onomatopoeia.]

There is nothing more hurtful than to have all the evidence before us that God has turned from us and condemned us, that God has ‘forgotten to be gracious and in anger shut up his compassion!

Were God to abandon us to our own ways and means and the Devil’s guile, deceptions, and seductions there would be no rescue, no respite, no release from such a terrible state.

In all circumstances, though, no matter who convinced we are otherwise, God does not abandon us. From all evil and the hurt it does to us people, God still reaps greater demonstrations of grace. While we dig ourselves deeper and deeper in the muck of life, God shows how powerful Jesus’ saving love is for us. God’s love is always more powerful than any evil we can make or be subject to.

A young man pulled a 32’ foot bumper pull camper in to the random camping area a few nights ago. He tried to pull it on the ‘Low Road’, through trees and turns that no one has ever even tried to pull a camper except for the first 30 feet, and that only with a 12’ camper. He did not smash the camper sides against any tree, though. Instead he caught the roots of the first tree with the hitch jack, bending it back 30⁰. Which means he probably did not have a weight distributing hitch in place. He left the foot by the root where it was ripped off the jack. The propane tanks were taken off and the regulator left hanging in disarray. The battery was missing as was the cover to the battery case. On one side half the lug nuts were missing on one wheel, and the lug nuts were loose on the other wheel (one barely still on it’s lug). A support set of boards, screwed together for stability was dropped 100’ away.

It had all the signs of being a stolen camper, though the young man and woman returned last night at 3 am, and ‘parked’ their big Ram truck next to the camper where they had left it, backed into Lake3 or Wet3, which is always soggy unless it’s near drought conditions. When they tried to pull out with the truck the front end sank into the soggy grass covered ground and (from the hours of the truck roaring ways) they spun it deeper and deeper into the muck.

This morning the truck sits on it’s oil pan and lower frame under the engine, a jack is set up half way back on one side, rocks and branches are on the ground or poked into the holes made by the wheels. A straight edge shovel stands poked into the soft ground.

He needs it lifted off the frame or a big tow truck to pull him out. By grace there are people who will help him, people who have big equipment. People who once helped me out of my folly of trying to pull a camper through soft sand. I had three days more to work my way out of that and the winch pulled the camper and truck back up on top the sand and out. The truck and camper were not bottomed out, though. I had enough sense not to keep spinning the wheels when there was no movement forward or back.

When we try to get ourselves out by spinning our wheels, they act as little shovels, round and round they go, digging a deeper hole in the muck of life, sending us deeper and deeper.

Selah.

Our only hope is help, help sent by God.

Grace abounds.

Love is more powerful than Evil.

God’s creative power flows through the universe, like a great big tow truck and winch, pulling us up out of the muck, healing and restoring us. The greater the mess we get ourselves into the more obvious the power of God’s great love becomes, as we are set free.

God’s right hand has not changed, neither God’s left.

Grace brings renewed life to us, every day and every moment that we need it, often before we know we need it so badly.

Be of good courage today, this is (another of) God’s time with us!

Be Careful What Success You Pray For?

Saturday, May 7, 2022

See the Light,

And God’s Hand.

All Things in God’s Hands.

Psalm 118:25

Save us, we beseech you, O Lord! O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!

Hebrews 13:20-21

Now may the God of peace, who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good so that you may do his will, working among us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Words of Grace For Today

What is success, that we ask God for it?

To save us is clear. We are in trouble (what’s new, mostly of our own doing) and we’ve exhausted our own ideas on getting ourselves back in the clear, so we turn to God, our last hope and refuge.

But to ask for success! That’s another huge step up the rung of audacity in begging from God!

Success as a Christian has always had the colour of offering oneself to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, which leads to a cross and sure death. Which, for most people, looks quite different than the success that we humans pursue in our short, cruel, and brutish existences on earth. Do we intend to ask for this success, that our lives be offered as a sacrifice so that others may live. NOT usually, unless …

unless the Holy Spirit guides us to understand and live out the love by which the world will know the followers of Jesus. This love is unconditional, self-sacrificial, life altering, powers undermining, universe transforming, living water love.

When that is the love we indeed live then the whole world is changed for us. The New Jerusalem is arrived and we are at home in it, and God dwells with us, and

wonders never cease.

For God has indeed made us complete in everything good so that we may do God’s will.

Examples are endless through the history of the saints.

Consider Chai-Shin Yu, who is an ordained (Korean) Presbyterian pastor and professor of Korean culture and religion as the University of Toronto. In 1950 the North Korean Communists invaded South Korea. Chai-Shin Yu, then a student and heavily involved in church work, managed to hide for some months, knowing that as a Christian he was a prime suspect. In September 1950, S. Korean and United Nations troops landed in Inchon Harbor and the N. Korean soldiers began to prepare their retreat. Yu was apprehended by the Chief of the Communist Intelligence Bureau and so began days of interrogation and torture. Finally, along with others, he was taken to what he was sure was the execution ground, for he could hear gunfire. Instead, he and the other captives were forced to carry arms & supplies for the retreating N. Korean soldiers! Day after day they were forced to carry heavy burdens, ever on the lookout for strafing American planes.

By early October they were deep in the mountains. They began to come upon wounded Communist soldiers abandoned by the side of the road. One wounded soldier was staring vacantly, his leg covered with clotted blood. But he seemed familiar, and Yu stopped to look in his face. He recoiled; it was the Chief of the Intelligence Bureau! “Move on,” Yu told himself, but a voice within replied, “no, his life can be saved if he gets some help.” So Yu argued within himself, until a voice said, “But don’t you believe in Jesus Christ? He told you to love your enemy. What would Jesus do if he were here?”

The Chief finally recognized Yu as the reactionary he had planned to kill. He closed his eyes, expecting to be killed in revenge. But Yu said, “Get on my back.” The argument raging inside him was resolved. After some persuading the wounded Chief crawled on his back. Yu’s feet were blistered and bleeding from 150 miles of dreadful walking, and he was exhausted. But he gritted his teeth and kept on. Once he tripped & they both fell. The Chief finally broke the silence. “Friend,” he said, “you know that I hated you and wanted to kill you, don’t you?” “Of course I do.” “Then why are you going to all this trouble to save me? All my fellow soldiers have deserted me. Why are you trying to save your enemy?”

After a long silence, Yu said, ” Love is stronger than hatred. Even though you planned to have me killed, I still love you. Love is stronger than death. I hate your hatred, but I love you as a person” The man wept and confessed, “I have killed so many people. I don’t deserve to be saved.” And they wept together.

They Yu took the Chief up again & moved on. Ten miles down the road he found an ambulance being repaired, & arranged to have his passenger taken to the Pyongyang Military Hospital. The Chief protested, “I won’t go to the hospital. I’d rather stay with you and die. Where ever you go, I want to go with you.” But Yu forced him into the ambulance. “You ought to live,” he insisted.

By the end of October Chai-Shin Yu & the others had walked 200 miles. During an attack by American paratroopers he escaped & walked all the way back to Seoul, and eventually was reunited with his family. (Source Unknown)

Peace, Here and Now! ?

Thursday, April 28, 2022

The Peace

of the

Holy Hermitage’s

Meadow

Isaiah 2:4

He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples;
they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Acts 10:36

You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—he is Lord of all.

Words of Grace For Today

In the quiet of the hermitage, holy by years of holy celebrations, the rain fell mixed with snow, and chilled the air, still above freezing.

This is peace.

This is peace,

For there is no war,

not here.

This is peace,

For there is no one seeking to kill me,

not right now, right here … that I know of.

This is peace,

For in the cool of the evening just begun the warmth from the woodstove promises safety and comfort against any chilling cold.

This is peace,

For there is plenty of clean water, plenty of healthy food and drink, and plenty of work to do so that boredom and lack of purpose have no purchase here … for now.

This is peace,

For the wind that has beat the tarps about is calmed, and the music of the meadow is natural other than the fans to cool the solar power systems, and they are reminders of what can be done with next to no carbon footprint.

This is peace,

For this is what God has provided, for this day, hear and now.

This is peace, for come what may, God walks with me in this meadow and beyond, as God walks with you where you are and beyond.

For all this we give God endless praise and thanks.

There are so many places and times that are not peace.

We remember the people who suffer

causing the lack of peace, and

those suffering the lack of peace.

For them we pray this day, that God will provide them peace, and a peace that ends violence and suffering.

Hunger and Thanks

Sunday, April 24, 2022

God Provides For the Birds of the Air and Water

And for Us,

As No One Other Can!

Habakkuk 3:17-19

Though the fig tree does not blossom, and no fruit is on the vines;

though the produce of the olive fails and the fields yield no food;

though the flock is cut off from the fold and there is no herd in the stalls,

yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation.

God, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me tread upon the heights.

Luke 10:20

Nevertheless, do not rejoice at this, that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.

Words of Grace For Today

There are a great many natural disasters that occur. Now with climate change there are even more. Each previous year’s extremes have become the next year’s normals. How the wind howls! How the polar ice caps melt! How the flood waters rise and swamp so much. How the wildfires roar. How the earthquakes shake the foundations of all we’ve built. How the volcanoes spew forth their venom and ashen poisons for thousands of miles.

We no longer survive because of the production from our own land, our own backyards, our own flocks and herds. Instead we allow the produce from far and wide to arrive, mostly by truck and airplane, to arrive onto our grocery shelves and therefrom fill our baskets and stomachs.

Except, as Covid has demonstrated quite clearly, that supply chain is very vulnerable, easily disrupted and a real concern for our futures (and billions of humans current every day) is food security … or simply put, the reliability that we will have enough food today and tomorrow and next year.

Can we understand God’s Grace for us so fully as to say with Habakkuk though the fields yield no food [and the grocery shelves are bare] yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the God of my salvation.

Most of us will complain mightily to God should this come to pass!

Some of us are privileged and burdened to live in the spirits of each day, and to know how they affect us and others around us, and to be caught in the wonders of God providing for our spirits each day in so many ways.

The disciples of Jesus encounter this when they go out preaching, healing and baptizing … and return amazed that the spirits submitted to them!

Yet Jesus says this wonder is of no lasting worth. They (we) should not relish that kind of power. Instead they (we) should celebrate the power of Jesus’ sacrificial love, which nets them (us) a place in God’s Graces. Their (our) names are written in heaven and God promises to walk with them (us) and welcome them (us) home when they (we) die.

There is nothing reliable about anything we humans construct to provide for our own futures. The only security available to anyone is that of God’s promises, God’s Grace, and God’s breathing hope into us, no matter what may come our way.

When we wake each day and remember our place, beggars at best for God’s Grace, then we can say with Habakkuk: God, the Lord, is my (our) strength; God makes my (our) feet like the feet of a deer, and makes me (us) tread upon the heights.

That is a sure place to start the day, any day, every day.

Heil & Truth Reclaimed

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Life as God Created Us To Live,

Full of Wonder, Forgiveness, and Hope.

Isaiah 58:11

The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail.

John 4:14

Those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’

Words of Grace For Today

God made us so that we could live, and live well, healthy and abundant lives. This God intends for us.

The Devil intends that life not be for us, but against us. All the devil’s works, done so well by so many humans, and by all humans, look to cheat us of life.

It is done slowly, tempting and pulling us into a way of living that consumes us, our hearts, minds and souls. And then the trap is sprung and whether we notice or not, we are trapped in a life that is horrendous.

Dietrich Bonhöffer wrote:

Noch will das alte unsre Herzen quälen,
noch drückt uns böser Tage schwere Last.
Ach Herr, gib unsern aufgeschreckten Seelen
das Heil, für das du uns geschaff
en hast.

Siegfried Feitz translated it to sing:

The worst of the old year still torment us
we’re troubled still by long and wicked days
Lord give our frightened souls the healing
for which you have chastened us in many ways.

Much of the meaning is changed to keep the meter I would presume.

A not at all meter-keeping translation might go like this:

[after the first verse ends wishing to enter a new year with you the second verse continues]

Yet the old [year or times] are wont to torment our hearts,
Yet the heavy burdens of evil days weigh us [down]
Oh Lord, give our startled and fearful souls
that healing, for which you had created us.

The bolded word ‘Heil’ carries with it a great connotation that one can hardly avoid noticing, as Bonhöffer wrote this while imprisoned by the Nazis, shortly before he was shot on suspicion of being part of the conspiracy to assassinate Hitler.

No matter one’s language, one must recognize the phrase ‘Heil Hitler’, which was required of the German people by the Nazis many times a day. It’s translation is hardly ‘Health Hitler’. The literal meaning would be something like ‘Long health for Hitler’, but the actual meaning is closer to Hail Ceaser, or Long Live the King, and it certainly indicated one’s submission to Hitler’s rule.

So when Bonhöffer writes: Oh Lord, give us the Heil, for which you had created us, the connotation is unmistakable:

God give us back the word Heil, so that it once again is the health for which you created us, instead of being used as crowd rendered submission to Hilter’s dictatorship and all it’s cruelties to so many people.

As every temptation presented to us by the Devil, at first the invitation is given so that it sounds just so right. This is, the crowds say unawares, just what we’ve always wished for, dreamt of, thirsted for.

The Taliban did it, winning the hearts of the people by raising critiques of their imperfect world, government, and even their faith. They then, with small perversions at first and blatantly bombastic perversions by the end, turned the good faith of Islam against the people, against the women, against their critics, and finally they brought in brutal force to ensure compliance with measures no sane person would every wish for or support, except the perverted minds who wish to control the masses in barbaric ways.

Dictators in all times in all places have used similar methods, from the Thirty Tyrants in Athens (who killed Socrates among so many), to the cruel Caesars of Rome, to Russian dictators from Lenin to Putin, to the ‘Populist’ rulers like Trump. The first sacrifice is truth.

They cannot have truth hang around, for it will expose the lies that are told the people, the lies that cover for their collecting and exercising cruel powers against so many people. Inevitably what follows is the extermination of whole ‘kinds’ of people.

Martin Niemöller’s words are powerful reminders:

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.

Niemöller admitted in 1963 he harboured antisemitism yet he was one of the first to speak out (in his book Über die deutsche Schuld, Not und Hoffnung published in English Of Guilt and Hope)“Dear Friend, I stand in front of you, but we can not get together, for there is guilt between us. I have sinned and my people has sinned against your people and against yourself.”

Life is not simple for any of us, with our biases, prejudices, and bigotries. And once the Devil has got us down that road of self-righteous condemnation of ‘them people over there’ it leaves so many perversions of truth in it’s wake it is humanly impossible to bring things back to some semblance of life as God created us to live it.

Thus we pray: Guide us, Lord, continually, and satisfy our needs in parched places, and make our bones strong; make us like watered gardens, like springs of water, whose waters never fail. Bring us to be the springs of your water gushing up to eternal life from which many may drink and never again thirst for truth, or for life as you have created us to live it.

Save us and all people from cruel dictators, unjust judges, corrupt police, and evil bishops and pastors. Save us from the temptations to pervert truth for our own interests, and from scapegoating innocents to hide from and cover up our own dreadful sins.

Instead, give us the water of eternal life that we might not ever again thirst for justice or for truth.

Instead, give all people the water of eternal life that no one will ever again thirst for justice or for truth.

Instead, forgive us our sins. Forgive our enemies their sins. Forgive the tyrants and bullies their sins, that they may know, as we do, the wonders of your love.

Oh Lord, give our startled and fearful souls that healing, for which you had created us all.

Without Trembling, With Thanks …

Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Path May Seem Difficult and Long …

Psalm 56:9

Then my enemies will retreat on the day when I call. This I know, that God is for me.

Matthew 5:4

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Words of Grace For Today

There is no shortage of destruction by evil working through people, directed against other people, seeking to destroy and destory others in order to work some supposed ‘advantage’ in their lives, their ‘world’.

The question is who do we, the ones pursued to be destroyed and destoried, who do we choose to be?

The lies told about us do not determine who we are, even if they can determine a whole lot of shtako that we will experience like jail, being shunned, outcast, left to die, and actively killed … all in an effort to take the truth of who we are and what our lives have been and destroy our stories of truth.

The lies told about us never become the truth. It does not matter how many lies are piled together. It does not matter how often or for how long those lies are repeated or by whom they are repeated. It does not matter how many police create more lies about us. It does not matter how many lawyers and prosecutors create more lies about us. It certainly does not matter how many courts repeat all those lies and how many more lies the courts create on their own about us. None of the lies ever become the truth, not ever. Their lies do not determine who we are, no matter how hard they try to make it so. Their lies reveal so much of who the liars are. Their lies belie them as agents of evil in our midst, agents who undermine everything good about civilization. They cause chaos to flow permeating everywhere in society. In that chaos they try to establish a new ‘truth’, a ‘truth’ that they can control, or at least benefit from. They may seem to benefit from it, but the chaos corrodes civil society leaving it vulnerable to barbarism, and that barbarism knows no favourites: it consumes everyone in its path, from within and with external destructive forces. The lies are in fact the tip of barbarism eating away at everyone, the liars first, the people they lie about, and all sorts of those caught in the wake of the lies.

Truth is truth forever.

So who do we, the victims of these lies, want to be?

The victims are so many: from our local towns and cities, to the outcasts in our country, to the indigenous and Metis most would rather not remember, to those similarly lied about in every country, to those left to die of preventable illnesses, to those killed by unjust military assaults – like in the Ukraine, though that is only one of many unjust military actions now across the globe – to those murdered in cold blood each day.

Who do we want to be?

We can be victims. That’s easy. That’s obvious. That’s hard to not be. But can we be someone else rather than victims?

Lots of tales from history recount how people have ‘pulled themselves by their bootstraps’ and overcome the assault on their lives and on their stories. Those stories are unbelievable; there are no ‘bootstraps’ by which to pull oneself up out of such attacks, not that will work for other people.

The only sure survival is to surrender, not to one’s enemies, but to God’s Will. Even then not all of us will survive in this life, though some have survived, like Jeremiah (until he did not), Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, St. Paul (until he did not), Martin Luther, Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, Sarah Collins Rudolph, Freddie Knoller, Toby Biber, Premsyl Dobias, Maria Ossowski, Albin (Alex) Ossowski, Daniel Falkner, Magdalena Kusserow Reuter, and the list could go on.

More than those who survive are those who are jailed and killed or just killed. That list seems not to find an end. Remember Martin Luther King Jr., Dietrich Bonhöffer, Socrates, Jesus, Stephan, Bishop Juan Gerardi, and Archbishop Oscar Romero?

Who do we want to be? Who do we want to be like?

The question is pertinent every day, but more pertinent is how God answers: what does God want from us? Are we the people God created us to be?

How can we be as God created us to be, after some one agent of evil or so many agents of evil (who appear to be ordinary people at first) have sought (and still are seeking) to kill us?

We surrender to God’s Will, and pray we will say truthfully to God:

Und reichst du uns den schweren Kelch, den bittern
des Leids, gefüllt bis an den höchsten Rand,
so nehmen wir ihn dankbar ohne Zittern
aus deiner guten und geliebten Hand.

(And may you offer the heavy bitter cup
of grief, filled to the very rim
We´ll take it thankfully without trembling
from your good and beloved hand.
)

For we know that those who mourn will be comforted, even our loved ones. We trust fully that God is with us and our enemies can do no other than retreat when facing God. They will be undone as God puts the truth before them, and before all people. The truth will be known.

So come what may we can thankfully and without trembling face each new day.

Boldly Going Where …?

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Head for the Light?!?

It’s Not the Light at the End of the Tunnel (a train coming at us!)

It’s a Full Moon Setting at Dawn.

Jonah 2:7

As my life was ebbing away, I remembered the Lord; and my prayer came to you, into your holy temple.

2 Timothy 2:19

But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his’, and, ‘Let everyone who calls on the name of the Lord turn away from wickedness.’

Words of Grace For Today

Of course, it is a common story: A person has had no place for God in their life …

until …

until everything goes wrong …

health-wise …

and …

death comes knocking.

Suddenly everything is about ‘God’ …

And ‘God blessing and saving the person who has ignored God lifelong!’

The old thought always comes back: the way one lives lifelong has to mean something in the end, right. So there really is not last minute salvation. There really is no last hour baptism to guarantee one’s salvation. We are judged by God by our full record!

That’s right, isn’t it? It has to be! Otherwise why did I try so hard to do the right things all my life, giving up all the opportunities that would have benefited me greatly though they would have compromised my soul!?

Ah, were it so simple, so that we could judge who is God’s and who is not God’s; who has been good enough, and who has not been good enough.

Or rather, thank God it is not so simple, so that humans can actually judge each other … because, well, humans have a really bad track record of getting everything wrong and really messing things up, royally!

What we can trust fully is that God knows! God knows who are God’s and who are not.

By Grace God gives those who are not, another breath, and another, and another ad nauseam, all so that they have another and another, and another ad nauseam opportunity to repent and convert, and to learn what we who are God’s have learned and relearn again and again, namely that

We are saved only by God’s Grace (God’s choice) through faith (given to us as a free gift, though we do not deserve it at all.)

So we go into each new day, boldly going where all humans have gone before, into the fray of returning lies with truth, hate with love, despair with hope … as God makes us able.

The Same Moon Casting (Faint) Shadows

Where, Oh Where … !?!

Friday, March 18, 2022

Where Is God?

Down This Path?

On This Mountain?

Beside This Lake?

In The Crowded Cities?

God Save Us, Now!

Psalm 10:1

Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

Mark 4:38

But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’

Words of Grace For Today

I flew out in the fall to a remote fire tower to make a pastoral visit to the crew there. There was no way to announce my visit. I just took off, navigated by dead reckoning, and landed at the small grass clearing that served as a air strip. I’d circled over the tower and taken in the paths through the bush that wound the kilometre or so between it and the air strip. Airplane secured, I set off and …

hours later I was deep in the bush with no way of finding the tower in time to spend even a minute with the crew and still find my way back to the air strip before dark, and before dark I needed, most desperately needed to be in the air. There was no way a take off in the dark in an unknown airstrip was something I was even considering as doable. And anything not doable was certainly not ‘well, let’s see if it’s possible!’ So I oriented myself by the sun low in the sky back towards the plane.

As I came to a junction of paths in the bush, both directions on the new path hidden from view until I stepped into the junction, I got the scare of my life, or one of many.

There, not more than six feet to my right (the direction I needed to turn) was a calf and her mama, a cow moose. The calf was half size and still looked down at me. I froze. Moose have a pea size brain, and they survive only because they are bigger, tougher, and faster than most any predator.

Encounters with humans are so dangerous because, being so … well stupid … they are totally unpredictable and usually they charge, especially when their young are threatened! The results are usually -10 for the human and no effect on the moose.

Where was God!? How could this be happening to me? Why was this happening?

Always the photographer I reached for my camera hung on my shoulder, slapping my backpack with every step until I froze in my tracks. Why not document this so that if I did not make it someone would know how I came to my demise (or at least the last few seconds?) If I’d had a rifle, that would have been a smarter option, but useless as well, given the moose’s speed.

Before my hand was on the camera, mama and calf were well on their way across my path and down the to the left.

I breathed, settling the adrenaline rush to tolerable, and marched on. By the time I reached the plane all that adrenaline was gone. The take off was in the shadows, the sun just below the horizon, and my way home full of wonder.

God sometimes does save us from our own stupidity, from terrible circumstances, and from sure death. Other times we join the Psalmist’ and the disciples’ desperate plea: God where are you!? Do you not care what happens to us?!?

Only with time, and sometimes not even then, do we gain the insight to see and know … and trust that God walks with us, and suffers with us everything we suffer, and provides life abundant in every hour with every breath we breathe on this gift of creation God has brought us to live in.

So we pray, with full trust (or maybe barely any trust) that God hears us, for ourselves and for all other people faced with disaster, illness, and death this day, this week, this year: God be not stern with us, but gently save us and help us live each minute you gift us.