2019.07Jul07

Names in the Sky

Rough Draft:

lots of repetitions and sections needing tightening, deleting, or rewording, the essence is there though.

Still looking though the woods and trees to see the light.

Our Names are Written in Heaven

Skywriting:

Jane came out to the airport as she often did to watch Matt take off for his day’s work, crop dusting. This time Matt seemed to avoid getting off the ground, working around Steve’s plane instead. Then as Steve rolled out on to the grass runway Matt came over to Jane and asked her if she’d like a cup of coffee. He then stood with her, each with a cup of coffee in hand as Steve took off and began to spell out in the sky: S … U … lots of loops and crossing back and for forth for each letter E … M … A … … R … R … As Steve began the Y … Jane turned to Matt, knocking both their cups and spilling coffee freely, and hugged him, with a loud YES, and as Steve finished the … M … and the final E with the added touch of a ?, Matt came up for air from the long kiss he had planted on Jane to see the all 18 employees of the three businesses at the airport come outside to see, first Jane and Matt, then the trailing away letters Steve had written, and then to gather around Matt and Jane clapping. As Steve landed and ran over to join the crowd Matt and Jane were still shaking the hands of the people in line, taking their congratulations and well wishes, and answering they didn’t have solid plans yet but Jane was quick to say the wedding was going to be in their church, and long before it started to snow. Matt agreed, but the honeymoon would have to wait until winter.

With one marvelous flight, after years of joy, tears, and struggles Matt and Jane each knew that this day was wondrous, a dream come true. Everything about their lives was changed that day and again as they said their vows before the altar Jane’s great grandfather had built, covered with paraments made by her great grandmother. Over the previous 4 years, since they had started dating as teenagers, their lives had changed. No longer alone, everything took on a new perspective, the perspective of love.

Through their struggles they had learned that loving each other was wondrous, but also a lot of work, took a lot of patience, required a lot of forgiveness. The coming years would test the limits of their forbearance, their commitment to love and be gracious, and their ability to empathize for each other and other people for things they did not understand.

The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela

18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013

Nelson Mandela stands tall at 80 years old, the first black president of South Africa, not a Black South Africa and not a white country gripped and choked by apartheid, but a country started on the difficult journey to reconciliation. He had spent 27 years in jail, been finally set free, and reunited with his wife Winnie. Time apart and Winnie’s other love drove them to separate and then divorce. Madiba was leader of a nation while still in prison, and then he’d been a leader not elected but negotiated with, and then the elected president tasked with bringing together a country of people separated by hatred and terrible atrocities against each other.

A man filled with love of many kinds he was NOW the most lonely person on planet.

Loss of love is as devastating as love is equipping and empowering to take on all demons

Then Nelson Mandela falls in love again with, Graça Machel, the widow of Mozambican President Samora Machel. He marries her on his 80th birthday! She is a leader in her own right already at 57.

Work of Love

Love is not free: it must be worked at each and every day.

If you work at being the person who behaves ‘in love’ with your spouse, you will love your spouse, as delightfully, marvelously, as colorfully as the first day you fell in love. Not being in love with the person you are married to, or being in married to someone who is unkind, or refuses to work at love is often a living hell. Being alone, for most people, is a great challenge.

When you both work at being in love with each other, Look Out! Being in love with the person to whom you are married makes life simply awesome! The hurts roll off your back. The challenges are met as best they can be. The responsibilities are met as if they were freedoms. And the joys multiply all by themselves through the years. This is how God intended us to experience life!

Extending that love to each other, and then to all the people who your lives touch: that is what the Kingdom of God is about!

What does that mean for us?

Now that the Kingdom of God has come near, what does this mean for us?

Quote from Mother Theresa

Mother Teresa said, “Our work is constant. The problems of the poor continue, so our work continues. Yet everyone can do something beautiful for God by reaching out to the poor. I see only people filled with God’s love, wanting to do works of love. This is the future—this is God’s wish for us—to serve through love in action, and to be inspired by the Holy Spirit to act when called.” Mother Teresa, The Book of Peace: Finding the Spirit in a Busy World (London: Rider, 2002), 74.

The poor bring us past all pretensions and lay bare the necessities of life and the awesome source of life’s great goodness, Grace, Love and Hope. These are the reality of the Kingdom of God.

What does that mean for us? What are we going to do in response?

Now that the Kingdom of God has come near, what does this mean for us?

And what are we going to do in response?

The Gospel for today is clear: share the Good News, Prepare the Way

Our responses are our lives, every minute, every choice, every action or inaction. Today’s Gospel clearly turns us, as Jesus did the 70, to go out into all of creation, to all people, to prepare the way for our Lord, healing and sharing the Good News of God’s Grace for all people.

Responses of bringing the Good News

Some will accept and grow from the nurture of God, like the nurture of a prosperous city, the city of Jerusalem.

Some will reject us and the peace and love of God that we bring. Still the message is the same: the Kingdom of God has come near!

Other lessons, what Good News will we share?:

OT: Always God is there for us:

From our other lessons we hear what Good News we have to bring.

As the people to whom Isaiah writes, as they return from Exile, we can share God’s promise of nurture, comfort, delight, and peace. We can share the comforting image of God as a Mother nursing us, carrying us, dandling us on her knees!

The Jerusalem of the/to day

Isaiah writes to people who had lost the Jerusalem they had known. They have returned, but what they find is not the Jerusalem they knew. It is gone. They mourn it’s loss. What they find is not yet the New Jerusalem that God promises them; it is still to come, a promise of God for the end of time.

Result for us:

Yet even in the Jerusalem of the present, and for us we may say, even in the the city, country, or Land we live in now: Here and now God will make prosperity flow like a river, full and flooding it’s banks distributing silt and soil for all in it’s vicinity.

Our hearts can rejoice. Our bodies shall flourish.

God there for ALL of us, as the past is gone, the promise of tomorrow not yet

How do we respond to God’s gifts now and the promises for the future? We rejoice, even as we mourn the loss of the old Jerusalem, the way it was in the past. Even as we mourn that our churches are not like they were in the past, brimming Sunday Schoools, bustling with children, abuzz with activities for all ages, providing learning, and sometimes real Gospel and real Grace of God, and real love of God.

Even as we mourn the losses of time passing we look with hope to the new creation!

There are lots of ways to try to create false hope, a false return to the past that is gone, to deny the reality of God’s grace in the present. Sarah and Abraham repeatedly tried to force their claim on God’s promise, and what suffering has arisen from the split of the family between their son Isaac and and Abraham and Hagaar’s son, Ishmael; between Jews or Christians and Muslims.

There is little more foolish, obviously ridiculous than a 70 year old male (think Trump and others), a man of power and corruption, divorcing his wife of his youth, and claiming again and again a yet younger woman, in an effort to remain youthful. This stereotypical man vainly tries to deny his age, tries to mourn what is lost by denying it is GONE, DONE, PASSED. Instead he tries to buy, with wealth gained by corruption, an image of being younger than the actual OLD of his age.

Of course there is the woman, just as foolish who does the same. Or the woman who reaches for wealth and prestige by marrying a man old enough to be her father or grandfather. These self deceptions are equally foolish and destructive to all sorts of people.

More destructive perhaps are all the faithful but untrusting people who look to the past of the church (denying the change of culture around us away from church participation) and expend great energy trying to recapture what is lost, past, or dying; instead of working to be what God makes us able to be today.

We miss out on the opportunities to work in the real world, from the real stories of each other’s lives. Like ostriches, we bury our heads in sand, unable to see the GOODness of creation. And we suffocate there, hiding from reality. God cannot nurture us there: no comforting, no nursing, no dandling on God’s knees.

In spite of us, God, through the prosperity of the City of God, the City of Peace, nurtures, comforts, and provides for us.

For us who have returned home from exile,

For us who have deserted home for better efforts elsewhere

For us who, like the older son of the prodigal father, have remained, worked diligently at home, and are envious of the returnees given free grace, we receive grace even though we have come to rely on ourselves, our works, our merits … though they may be something, they are nothing before God,

We all NEED God’s Grace.

God, through the prosperity of the City of God, the city of peace, nurtures, comforts, provides for ALL of us, just like a Mother provides for all her children.

This is love: God’s Love for us and our delight in God. Responding to God’s love we sing for joy, with praise and adoration, even as we mourn the losses of the past.

The truth of love

The truth of God’s love for us is that it is unconditional. In love with us, each of us, even you, God writes our/your name/s in heaven.

With that God fulfills our dream of all dreams and our hope of all hopes. God makes everything right for us and for God!

God claims, names, and commissions us, sends us into the plentiful harvest.

What does that mean for us? What are we going to do in response?

Confused Paul in Galatians:

In Galatians Paul, as is too often the case provides, in poor koininia Greek, confused words. He writes: bear each other’s burdens, and then all must carry their own loads. If we read carefully we can decipher that he likely meant, as we each sin, the rest of us carry that person with gentleness. Afterall we each will sin, we each will have our turn of needing to be carried by the others.

But as we work in our vocation and as we work to share the Good News with everyone we each should carry our own load, to provide necessities of life, for ourselves and for others.

God comforts, nourishes, and promises us that all will be well. But we still get to work like the dickens to make life good for ourselves and our community, and those in need.

God’s care does not supplant our own labours, but rather God enables us so that our labours can be productive.

There is joy in diligent, hard, directed, purposeful labour. A necessity of life: air, water, food, clothing, shelter, purposeful labour, and love (giving and receiving). As others bring us the Good News we should provide for them so that they can share the Good News without concern for their survival.

As we work: remember God’s promise: most important

As we work we remember God’s promise that our names are written in heaven. This promise is more important than our ability in Christ’s name to heal, to feed, to care for, to love others, to forgive, to be gentle with each other.

Like Jane reading her own name in the sky God has acted, named us, written our names in heaven!

Wondrous miracles to see in this creation. But the greatest miracle is God’s Grace which names us as God’s, claims, names, blesses, and equips us. God nourishes us, comforts us and carries us; and most of all God Loves us as we are and for who we really are!

That our names are written in heaven is not because of a fluke, not because of our work, not because of our correct faith, not because of our hanging on to or our letting go of our histories.

Our names are written in heaven simply because God wants it so, out of love for us.

Seeing the Colours set for our Names to be revealed.

Truth? Who Cares?

Who


I have a wise old friend who told me her story, so similar to another I know as well, too similar for both not to be listened to, believed, and heeded. It is a story how the darkness overcame her and landed her in the darkness from which there was no escape, no matter what she tried.
It nearly ended her.

little light in the darkness

The small light in the darkness saves many.
The darkness is made by lies that engulf, sink, and consume the will for joy.
Who indeed cares for the truth?
Is it little, too little perhaps, to ask that the truth be spoken, heard and listened to?
A young girl saw her mother cry silently without words not knowing what was happening. … the guest did as he wished with no fear for if anyone objected then or later complained death would come quickly.
And so many times, a different guest, a repeat guest, a different guest.
The young girl was ordered to ready the house for the guests so that they would be pleased, moving so quickly to run from the terror. She left behind any thought that she was a person, other than one that made everything ready for the guests.
Until this daughter was taken in turn, too young, and taught the small pleasures that are possible, of sorts.
In that moment the lies began, and they overtook reality, the horrible reality, that nothing could make right.
The darkness is made by lies that engulf, sink, and consume the will for joy. But the darkness, somehow for this little girl, is still lighter than the void that took her soul.
Who cares for the truth?
It is no joy to know, but the truth does make a few things understandable, even the lies.


Why


So why ask or hope for truth?
Through all of time girls and boys have hoped that there would be a place for them in the world, not just a pit of worthlessness, but a path through the sun, through the rain, through the cold, through the heat, through the storms, and in the calm evening breeze on the lake.
Why ask if truth is a factor? Cannot one just live with the lies? Cannot one live with the fiction that demeans some in order to eliminate them, and leave more space on the path for others? We have been doing it forever as humans, why not just let it continue?
God.
God loves.
God loves all.
So all will be well. All will be well. All manner of things will be well.
And we will be the ones to make it well, for all.
That is why the truth is important!
The truth, bright, blazing truth of Christ, takes all that is not well, makes it brilliantly clear what it is, horrendous and terrorizing, and makes it also well.


The Beaver

Beauty Waiting

The other night, as the evening darkness began to colour the world in blues and oranges,
a small beaver swam by going south out from its home in the creek,

Going to safety.

and alerted to my presence on shore slapped an alarm and dove to safety leaving the rings of golden shimmer against the night between the trees.

Still going.

And came back to the surface further on its journey, out in the deep.

Calm

The beauty of the night deepened and shone as a few stumps left by the earlier beaver stood watch as the horizon climbed over the shore into the little light that remained.

Home for the night..

While just a tinge of light still touched the shore, the beaver came back, heading home for the night, leaving a wake behind that danced in the blues and in the orange-silver-golds of the set sun.
Ahh, the night was set right and I headed back home as well …

Onward

but no, the beaver was still out for more yet this evening, going back away from, not towards home.

I did then head home, to sleep well, no guests.
Under the care of the Spirit that makes all things well.

Light Truth Joy


It is at sunset as the light begins to close the day, that we see how the light, the goodness of the light persists always to bring us to face, see, hear, and heed the truth, for then the watchful Spirit inspires us to be able to know profound joy.

The sun that daily sets … and rises new again each morning.

The sun that daily sets … and rises new again each morning.
This friend came to see her darkness, to embrace it, and to set it aside with truth telling
and truth listening
and truth sharing.
Which inspired a number of people to embrace their past, of darkness and ill, and to allow God to redeem it with love for themselves.


A Path


There is a path for everyone, or rather a path for each of us, not that it exists until we walk forward, but it unfolds under our movements forward in life toward the end, which is not death, but the ability to love, truly love, with all the sacrifice that entails.

Lots of Heat, More Forgiveness

Spring Struggles to Break in as Large Flakes Cover the Once Bare Ground Again

My wood stove, set up to provide heat in the severe -40°C winter worked wonders. It even provided hot water for coffee in the morning and tea throughout the day. It was not without it’s challenges as the stove pipe got so hot that it melted the plastic tarps of the shelter around the stove.

Holy Week is our opportunity to remember and learn ever more from Jesus story. Jesus’ story is a life full of communication from God to us, in a way we can understand.

God tried to communicate to us with Word, creating a good creation. We messed it up, with trying to be smarter than we are and blaming others for the results. Kicked out of paradise we even became murderers, for a ‘good’ start.

God tried to communicate to us with the Law, we turned it into control of others.

God tried to communicate to us with the prophets, and we thought they were crazy, because they really were, trying to embody God’s Word does that to humans.

I rebuilt the damaged tarp sections, put in a heat shield and a remote thermometer. Now gets as hot as 70°C without problems.

God sent his Son, a full life story lived that we can learn. Jesus came to live, teach, heal, and do remarkable things like calming the chaos of the waters.

God exists beyond time, matter, limits. Now Jesus has all the limits of a human. Paul says it well: Jesus emptied himself of being other than human, and became limited as a human.

Why?

The real purpose of Jesus’ life was his death. That’s this week’s story.

No one really listened at first, and those that did usually got it all wrong. Listen to the parade as Jesus enters Jerusalem. They think that Jesus is God’s way of giving them control again of Jerusalem, maybe. That’s their hope.

Then things change.

The harsh winter slowly gives way to cool spring temperatures, and the 2000° C inside the furnace became way too hot in the shelter. Always the thermometer showed a max of 70°. It dawned finally on me that the thermometer could read no hotter than 70°C but the actual temperature could be much more!

Things change.

After the triumphant entry parade into Jerusalem, things go downhill fast and hard. Jesus is betrayed, deserted, tried, denied, whipped, condemned, mocked, tortured, abandoned, and murdered on a cross.

There is no greater measure of suffering.

God came to live and die exactly like this. Why?

God came to make clear: God understands our suffering, even if our measure seems to have an upper limit, God has no limits, God understands us, our pain, our sin, our suffering, our death.

God lived it to show us God’s intent for us.

As Jesus dies, he forgives those that mock, torture and kill him.

This is what God wants us to be to each other. Not sinners, destroyers, scape-goaters, or mockers, torturers, murderers, or chaos makers, not even people who cannot listen to others pain and suffering and not know what to do.

We know God knows our suffering.

In our suffering we experience what others suffer. We know what we most need when we suffer is forgiveness, love and not to be abandoned.

We learn this so that we can give God’s gifts of forgiveness, love and being present to others as they suffer.

God came as Jesus to show us God’s goodness and love for us has no limits. God’s forgiveness has no limits. We may not easily hear, listen or understand, but we have Jesus story handed from generation to generation. We can always learn more if we pay attention.

Jesus’ story is God’s new limitless thermometer by which we can measure what really goes on in this world. There’s lots of heat. There’s even more love, forgiveness, and compassion than we are ever capable of measuring.

This week, we remember, we listen as we can, we learn anew as we are able.

From Jesus story we know and trust, no matter what we do, what we succeed at or fail at, God understands our yearning, our chaos, our sufferings …

and God always loves, forgives and is present with us …

calling us to be exactly that for other people,

with Jesus as our model,

a model that has no limits.

Amen

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