Hot Party! or Keep Your Cool!

Saturday, June 26, 2021

No Matter What Fogs Up Our View of the World

God Will Bring Blessings Each Day

and the Cool Blessed Days Will Return

Isaiah 12:6

Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Luke 19:37-38

As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’

Words of Grace For Today

July 1, 2021 approaches and the end of all (almost all) health orders providing restrictions because of Covid 19 will come with it, in Alberta. Unless or until the Delta or some other variant changes everything, again.

Still people are hungry for release, for freedom, for the lack of order that can be filled with their chaos, for ‘life like it used to be’ but really never was – which is always a stupid person’s excuse to want things so simple that dictators can easily take over. There will be a party of all parties, with instances duplicated all over the province, in kitchens, around dining room tables, in halls and in door conference spaces, in tourist destinations and next to the lakes, and in the bush … well that party has already started here, down the way, with fireworks and drinking, smoking and loud music and screaming into all hours of the night. Why not!?! It’s freedom, Right!?

Everyone loves a good excuse to have a party, well almost everyone, or truth be told everyone does except for the introverts (which is estimated to be somewhere between 15% and 50% of everyone).

Jesus enters Jerusalem. He is known to speak with authority and that the authorities are threatened by him. He is the common people’s hope for change. Even though he rides on a foal of a donkey, people shout and throw palms and lay down their garments for his path into the city. Which is a great excuse for a party … and for the authorities it is a great excuse to be rid of him once and for all.

God enters our days, usually quite quietly, walking with us, inspiring us to be the saints forgiven by God that God has made us to be. We make no fanfare.

Jesus is heralded as King with great fanfare, noise, and pomp. Yet he is not the people’s king to free them from foreign dictators. He is King of the universe, and King of our hearts, minds and breath … and of out lives if we continually accept that we need forgiveness, Christ forgives us, and we can live free from sin and the free from the power of the Evil One.

Each morning we have more reason to celebrate, to shout for joy, to bring on a party, than even when Jesus enters Jerusalem.

Yet it is quiet. The sun shines bright and hot on the cool of the morning, so warm already even the song birds are done until evening. The shadows are long from the northeast, the shade provides a momentary cool. God has been here even before it became light and we are quiet, the meadows and woods and lake are quiet. The partiers from last night are now quieted.

There is no need to make loud noises, for this is common, everyday, every place: God is long since been with us.

We pray that God will be with us on 1 July and for months beyond, for Covid 19 is here to stay with us so we pray that the vaccines will stay effective, that the whole world will be vaccination soon, and that we will learn to be the opposite of covidiots – covid-smarts, and all-life-smarts, knowing and trusting God’s Grace as our sole breath and life.

‘Bring in The Poor, The Crippled, The Blind, And The Lame’

Saturday, May 1, 2021

Nothing Is As We Think We Can Expect.

God Has Plans

For Us

And

For Our Enemies,

Plans of Grace for All.

Psalm 9:19

Rise up, O Lord! Do not let mortals prevail; let the nations be judged before you.

Luke 14:21

So the slave returned and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and said to his slave, “Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.”

Words of Grace For Today

The travails of life are great, and there are plenty who contribute unjustly to ours and others’ travails. As we suffer and wonder where the next morning will take us, and what greater suffering will fall upon us.

How can it be that we would other than pray with all our heart, Rise up, O Lord! Do not let mortals prevail; let the nations be judged before you.

It is not that God does not hear our pleas. God answers with something we may have forgotten to expect. God calls the most unfit to feast at the table with us … including our enemies.

We may wish those who cause us, many other people, and the children great suffering God’s judgment, so that the injustice will stop.

Doch God is not so to be distracted from reaching out to the most needy, our enemies among them, who need time … time to recognize Grace through people’s response to them … time to realize God has forgiven them, and offered them renewed life … and time for the amendment of life.

Chosen ‘Few’ OR Chosen ‘All’?

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

No Matter the Road Ahead of Us

God Chose Us

To Go and Bless All People

As God Has Blessed Us.

Isaiah 41:9

I took you from the ends of the earth and called you from its farthest corners, saying to you, ‘You are my servant, I have chosen you and not cast you off.’

Romans 11:1

I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin.

Words of Grace For Today

The history is that God chose the Israelites, only the Israelites. Everyone else was unchosen and unclean. This we humans do to make ourselves special: we claim that we are chosen and all others are not. This does not make us special. It makes us typically self-centric, arrogant, and judgmental.

When Paul was converted after Saul went blind on the road to Damascus, he studied for years, held himself in retreat from activity. He underwent a profound change, from an effective, eager, persistent pursuer and persecutor of Christians, to a leading proponent of Jesus’ Way of living, i.e. by Grace.

Paul did not restrict sharing the Good News, which he encountered as Jesus’ Way of being God’s people, with just the traditionally ‘chosen’, the Israelites. Paul went out to share the Good News with anyone and everyone who would listen and wanted to be baptized in this Way of living.

That brought the obvious question: were the Jews wrong to claim God had chosen them, or had God changed God’s mind and rejected those God had earlier ‘chosen’?

Paul’s answer is simple: No. God’ choosing people is expanded, not ended. The Jews are still chosen, as are all other people who Christ calls to follow his Way.

History repeats itself. Many times God’s people have declared that only they are God’s chosen. As many times God’s message comes to bear on the mess this exclusive claim creates: God’s chosen are chosen, DOCH God does not choose only some people. God chooses all people.

Our human way of living does not make sense of this very well, if at all.

It does not need to. God still chooses all people and offers them abundant life. Not life in abundance (of wealth, things, etc.), but life filled to overflowing with blessings and the ability to share those blessings with others, all others.

God gathers us from the ends of the earth, from all corners of creation, claims us as God’s servants, does not cast us off, and sends us out to share the Good News. (Like Paul.)

What a life!

Life is a Blessed Adventure!

Monday, April 19, 2021

No Matter What Comes Our Way,

We Need Not Hide From Life.

God Holds Us by the Hand.

Psalm 37:23-24

Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way; though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.

Romans 8:37

In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Words of Grace For Today

The evening dark had settled firm. My parka, long underwear under insulated work bib-overalls, cover mittens over the warmly insulated gloves and an insulate hat, scarf, hood and a prayer kept the -15⁰C and a west wind from biting. A recent storm blanketed everything with white, and high speed traffic through the day cleared tracks, though at intersections the snow was packed.

I exited town on a road that turned gravel for about a mile. Heavy trucks regularly travelled here. The week before I had found a rather smooth track just outside the regular traffic lines. The bicycle carried a heavy load of groceries from the food bank, loaded on the rear panniers and above the rack in a ‘milk crate.’

This week even with the headlight on brightly illuminating the roadway, there was not much to be seen but dark here and light there. It was rough bouncing the bike and my back with more than a little discomfort. I tried the lighter track inside the really rough tire tracks. It’s rough and slow going pushing through the snow and slush. I turn to the outside, and there turn the wheel to head straight down the road. The wheel turns easily to the left, the bike keeps going to the right far out of balance with not even a split second warning dumping me, right butt cheek to the ice, bike and groceries on top me, and my right elbow catching the weight of my upper body.

Stunned …

Stunned I slowly pulled my self out from under the bike as a vehicle went by without pause. I could move. Nothing seemed broken or damaged beyond use. I knew the shock would wear off and that might be different in a moment. I inspected the rear wheel. It was still good. The shape of the pannier had protected it from damage.

It took minutes, long minutes down on the roadway of black ice before I could get upright. More minutes before I could pull the bicycle upright and reset everything in the rear ‘milk crate’ carrier.

I did not dare ride on that ice again that night. I walked the mile until the pavement started again, and further until the traffic had cleared it down to the black pavement. Still when I peddled again, 22 km left to get home, I stayed clear of the dark black pavement-maybe-ice.

Our steps are made firm by the Lord, when he delights in our way.

I guess God did not delight in my way?

Though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong, for the Lord holds us by the hand.

Or maybe God had me by the hand and I did not fall headfirst, knocked unconcious.

It did take weeks for the deep buttocks bruise to not hurt and the purple-yellow-green to fade more to normal pale pink-white

In life, if we live it to the fullest and do not hide from life, there are many times we will stumble and fall, be bruised, and require time to heal.

God promises always to be with us so that

in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

Life is not safe. No one gets out of it alive.

Life is not to be lived hiding from danger. God calls us to engage, to face danger, to provide for those God loves, which means all people, including ourselves. Even if that means biking 55 km or more in the cold to get food to return in the dark on questionable roads against the wind making it a 4 hour return trip instead of the usual 2 plus hours.

If we fall …

Well, let’s be honest: WHEN we fall, God is there to protect us, to help us get back up, to heal, and if it is our day to die, to receive us into heaven where we need not fall again.

Life is an adventure (all too full of enemies that would do us in) that, for God’s beloved people, always ends well.

Hallelujah!

Jesus Dies, We Are In Life Together

Friday, April2, 2021

In The Weeds

What Boat Are You In?

Have Any Room for Others?

Psalm 147:14

He grants peace within your borders; he fills you with the finest of wheat.

Ephesians 2:14

For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.

Words of Grace For Today

While we struggle to get more than the next person, or more than we had yesterday, or maybe just enough to survive, we put ourselves in competition with others for limited resources.

Or so we think and say.

It is not so much that resources are unlimited, it is that life abundant does not require that some have so much, and others not nearly enough. More and more and more does not provide life; it only corrupts the life right out of us.

God’s peace, not only between nations, but within our borders, and between us all, even in our families and homes, does not require more and more and more.

God’s peace requires a reality check: we are God’s creatures, ‘they’ are God’s creatures, which means there is no real ‘they’, only ‘us’ all together.

Today we remember that Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice to demonstrate that God is not interested at all in our sacrificing each other in order to ‘get ahead’ or ‘to get our fair share.’

God is very interested in us sharing life, and all that makes up life, with others. Sometimes that looks like we sacrifice our own possessions or privilege or comforts … or even our own lives … in order that others may live. In reality we can only share what God has given us, a loan, as stewards. Everything is intended for everyone. God lived and died as a human to demonstrate that to us as clearly as possible.

Dr. Bonnie Henry points out that during Covid 19 we may all be in ‘the water’ together, but we certainly are not in the same boat. Some have luxury yachts and others are bailing out the dingy to save their lives.

It’s time we got everyone in a ‘safe boat.’

Trouble is Nothing . . . For We Are God’s

Friday, March 12, 2021

Dark Clouds Sit On The Horizon

And Over Us.

Doch, God Is With Us

And We Need Fear Nothing nor Anyone!

Psalm 22:11

Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

Romans 14:8

If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

Words of Grace For Today

When trouble threatens us, though we have done nothing to bring that trouble to ourselves.

When hoards of people believe the lies that created that trouble, repeating and augmenting the lies against us.

When the courts join in believing obvious lies and creating more of their own, and covering up their lies.

AND

There is no one to help.

OR

When the violence of greed for resources spills into our communities, forcing us to choose to acquiesce to the greed to secure a small respite for ourselves at others’ cost, or face the violence that will surely destroy us, or we run for our lives to join the other millions of refugees.

AND

There is no one to help.

OR

When the greed of unjust people rob us of our food, of our land, of our ability to provide for ourselves.

AND

There is no one to help.

OR

When the world is against us in any way at all, taking from us the abundant life that God has given us

AND

There is no one to help.

THEN

We remember

If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.

God’s truth renews our courage to face whatever comes our way. We do not succumb to the temptations to give up God’s truth. We do not succumb to the temptations to fail to proclaim with our words and deeds God’s Word. We do not succumb to the temptations to fail to invite even our enemies to seek God’s peace, to be converted by the Holy Spirit, to provide justice based on truth, and to contribute to God’s double victory, standing with us and all people who face the trouble of other’s sins and evil that would rob life from us and them.

We pray with confidence:

Do not be far from us, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

For we know God is with us always.

Though no one stands with us, God walks with us and we are God’s children. Nothing nor anyone can separate us from God.

Certainly not Covid 19, nor Covid19 restrictions, nor Covidiots!

Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

Grace Saves the Whole Human Race

Sunday, January 24, 2021

The woods through which life’s ‘race’ winds.

Jeremiah 2:29

Why do you complain against me? You have all rebelled against me,’ says the Lord.

Romans 3:23-24

Since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Words of Grace For Today

The all seniors cross country foot race was held yesterday in the land of the faithful.

One young woman, really a girl still and the star runner among the girls, decided the night before, that she would meet with her friends for supper, to celebrate that this year for the first time the senior girls would run along with the boys.

It was a fine celebration, with duck, wine, and chocolates, and it went on and on for the victory of being able to run against the boys was a long two year battle. The later it got, the harder they celebrated, until it was midnight, then 1:00, then 2:00 when the bar, long since closed, booted them out into the taxis called for the girls.

The star male runner kept to his pre-race routine. He had a solid supper, with plenty milk and fruit juice to drink. He went to bed at his normal 10 pm, woke up at 7:00, and did a short 1 km jog to warm up before a good breakfast. He was confident he was ready when he got a ride to the race grounds. He had received a call from his friend who had test-run the race course as soon as it was set at 8:00 to get the details of what it looked like.

The star girl runner woke at 8:10 with a headache and queasy stomach. She ate a full breakfast, with lots of coffee. She arrived at the race grounds looking a bit worse for wear but not anything like she looked at 8:10.

There were a number of sprints, and shorter races held first, so it was 12:30 before a lunch break was called. The girl ate a light, nutritious penitent lunch with plenty of juice. The boy grabbed french fries and a burger with a coke. By 1:30 there were two more shorter races to be run before the main 5K cross-country race. The girls in each race had held their own, winning one and placing second in a few more. Predictably the boys were stronger and faster.

At 1:40 there was one more race. The star boy ran to the wood with his nervous stomach and emptied the fries, burger and coke into the bush. That was common. Then, so confident of himself, he forgot to eat the sugar cubes he normally ate for his empty stomach to give him energy. The star girl, penitent to the core, visited the washroom and relieved herself of the vestiges of last night’s revelry.

Then their race was called. They lined up. Set their marks. At the gun they were off.

They started, almost slow compared to the other races, but fast for this long distance. The girl drafted off the boy as they entered the woods where the trail wound up and down and around the river valley before coming back into view for the last half kilometre to the finish line.

In the woods something happened that had never happened before ….

When the runners appeared the star runners where shoulder to shoulder. Not just next to each other, but with an arm around the other racer, they struggled to run. The pack came into view easily behind them, and though they could have passed the two, they stayed in formation behind them. It was a sight to see.

As they came closer it became obvious that the girl supported the boy with his arm around her shoulder. He was limping badly on his left leg, barely touching his right foot to the ground.

So it was they came in tied for first place across the finish line, with the other five boys and one girl runners in formation close behind them, tied for third.

… In the woods something happened that had never happened before to the boy in a race as the various racer’s recounted afterwards. His right ankle turned, he fell, rolled and lay in pain. The girl, just 2 strides behind him – some other racers say he was toying with her and was not looking ahead – stopped to help him up. He was ready to quit, his sure victory lost. But she kindly reminded him he was a racer not a quitter. She wrapped his arm over her shoulders, grabbed him by the waist and they hobbled on. The other racers, a few at a time coming upon them, at first stayed in the order they arrived, but when the path entered the last half kilometre they joined arm in arm in a line behind the two, who had developed a faster pace.

In the ‘race’ of life, if we think we are headed for the finish on our own, ready to win the glory of God, we are sorely deluded. Not a single one of us is pure enough for that.

It is only the Grace of God that picks us up (usually borne by another human who God’s Grace has saved) and carries us, each year, each day, each minute towards the glory of God promised to us at our baptisms. Not a single one of us can finish the ‘race’ on our own. Only by Grace do we move forward at all, and then only humbly with others’ aide.

The victory party for that race was more subdued by far than the girls’ party of the night before, though it spread across the whole community, as people heard what Grace and the other racers had done that day … for both the girls and the boys … and the whole community.

We are in this together, and only together by Grace can we make it through life, yet alone the pandemic … or anything else life and evil throw at us.

Hang in there, together,

with Grace.

Baptized Into Christ’s Death for Life

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

The Wild that Needs Taming

is not out there.

It’s in our minds and hearts.

We and the Wilderness and all Creation need healing!

Jeremiah 23:3

Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.

Luke 15:4

Which one of you, having a hundred sheep and losing one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the one that is lost until he finds it?

Words of Grace For Today

This past Sunday we celebrated the Baptism of Jesus, and our own baptisms. For what purpose are we baptized into God’s flock, into God’s family together as children?

What was God planning, when God gathered the remnant back into the fold and let them be fruitful and multiply?

Back then of course land was abundant, people scarce. Survival as a people required increasing the population enough to fend off enemies.

Now the earth is overrun by humans, multiplying out of control. Wild lands are difficult to find, precious when they are, and seldom well protected from being overrun by mining, oil extraction, clear cutting, paving over, filling in the swamps (nature’s water filtration system), and generally developing them so that they serve human short term interests at the cost of our long term survival.

Covid 19 is only nature’s latest reaction to us way-too-many humans putting un-survivable stress on the ecosystems of creation.

Very few of us have ever been close to having 100 sheep. The image still is clear. Even the most cantankerous, stubborn one among many is precious to God. So precious that God goes away from the flock grazing together in the wilderness in order to pursue that hard headed one … ok to be honest that ‘one’ is each one of us at some time or another – sometimes quite often.

Baptized, we are God’s people. It is too easy to write off people who stray from reality, God’s reality of Grace. It is very sensible to write off those who attack us to destroy us … better that than to go on the offensive to destroy all our enemies. (That policy relentlessly pursued always ends with only one survivor.) God does not let us abandon even our worst enemies. Instead God sends us, away from the flock, the safety we find in our lives, and God gives us the task of rescuing, with God’s Grace, the one stubborn, cantankerous one, even if that is our worst enemy.

God does not kill our enemies. God transforms them into one of God’s children … through our kindness and grace.

We can understand that Covid 19 is not God’s plan to reduce the human population by killing off so many of us.

It is surely a wake up call. Creation needs us to be responsible and work to reduce the human population and right now, to preserve what wilderness and swamps and forest lands and arctic tundra and rain-forest and savannas that are left … before none are left, and to save the many species who are threatened today with extinction.

Hard choices. Wake up. Help us all make them starting today, before there is no more today for us all. That certainly is not God’s choice for us, but God does not limit our choices; we are free to destroy ourselves and the earth’s ecosystems … and we are well on our way.

Or we can behave together as the baptized saints that God makes us to be.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 27

Friday, November 27, 2020

Dead Tree Stick Out

Life Always Come to an End

For Each and All of Us

And if We Think We Can Survive on Our Own

… that’s a fool’s thing

Psalm 38:10

My heart throbs, my strength fails me; as for the light of my eyes—it also has gone from me.

James 1:3

You know that the testing of your faith produces endurance.

Words of Grace For Today

You have heard it said that whatever challenges do not kill you make you stronger.

You have heard it said that testing one’s faith produces endurance.

The first is phooey.

Covid 19 often does not kill the person infected, but there are a number of ‘long haulers’, the people who do not die, and they do not recover. Instead they suffer pain, fatigue and organ complications without end.

Covid 19 is not the only challenge that may not kill you fast, but it will almost make you wish it had.

Testing one’s faith is different. God gives us faith as a gift, and it grows as we face the challenges that life throws at us.

It is different when the challenges of life, more than Covid 19, bring our heart to throb, our strength fails, and the light of our eyes slip away from us.

It’s the beginning of the end of life, threatening our breath, our time, and our hope.

In this time of huge challenge, as life slips on a slippery banana peel on the edge of our graves, we discover exactly what our lives are made of, what our hope provides, and what our faith sustains.

If we think we can somehow go it alone, when our last foot flies into the air and our other foot only has a small grip on that slippery banana peel, it will be quite the surprise …

as God stands, firm on the ground, and catches us, so that our days do not come to a crashing halt.

It is hard to be humble when everything is going so well we can pretend we accomplish life on our own. It is easy to be humble when we can barely breathe, our arms and legs fail to move as we ask they would, and our eyes no longer distinguish between light and dark, colours and black, blessing and curse, and we experience how clearly it is that only by God’s Grace do we live, breath, move and see.

God’s presence with us in the best of times and the worst of times leaves us so humble that there is nothing else in us, but the breath we use to give God thanks. It is good to be so humbled as to give God praise for creating us.

Facing Covid 19: Words of Grace – 17 November 2020

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Given this Beauty,

Grace or Law,

For which do you think God created the universe?

Isaiah 48:9

For my name’s sake I defer my anger, for the sake of my praise I restrain it for you, so that I may not cut you off.

2 Timothy 1:9

God saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace. This grace was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began.

Words of Grace For Today

It is a marvellous thing that God does for us, saving us and calling us (as God’s children) to a holy calling.

God does this for us.

We do not earn it, or deserve it. We can take no credit for it, not in the least.

With Jesus’ life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension we encounter God in a new way; yet God did not change to meet us in this new way, living the life of a human being. Indeed God’s Grace made so clear in Jesus’ story, was God’s Grace for us since the beginning of creation.

Why does God do this for us?

God does this because God chooses to do this; God defers God’s anger, restrains it toward us, so that we and the whole creation can sing God’s praise. Dead people do not sing. People who receive Grace have every reason to sing and sing at every opportunity!

Pastor Erin from Trinity Edmonton preached a sermon 15 November 2020 on Jesus’ parable of the talents given to three servants, and the condemnation of the servant who hid his talent in the ground, instead of investing it. Her point was that the traditional interpretation of this as a parable about ‘investing’ our gifts in order to return even more to God is wrong. Instead it is a parable about denouncing the greed and avarice of the owner that demands unfair use be made of millions given to the servants. The owner’s condemnation of the servant who ‘plants’ his owner’s talents in the ground is all wrong; in fact that servant rightly refused to participate in the avarice of using wealth against others to multiply one’s wealth. But Pastor Erin insisted, since the parable was told by Jesus long before capitalism it was not a parable against capitalism. She said the point of the parable was: we need to subvert systems that take advantage of poor people. We must tear down these systems and replace them with ways of being equitable and fair to all people.

Which is interesting if poorly stated. What’s missing is that as Lutherans we proclaim that we are saved by GRACE, and Grace alone. We are not save by what we do, or how we think rightly, or how we subvert unjust systems … nor MUST we do anything. Trouble is so many pastors are ready to ‘tell us’ what we ‘must do, think or believe.’

Worst of all, what Erin and others preach is simply another form of telling us what we must do in order to please Jesus and God and thereby earn God’s favour. It is a futile exercise in the ‘power’ of the office of ministry entrusted to a pastor. This is all Law, in the most destructive, subversive way: debunk traditional interpretation of scripture and then point to what Jesus ‘said’ with a parable (interpreted through one’s own eyes/history/perspective/drive/hates/self-chosen-life-purposes) we must do as Christians, so that people will make changes to the perverse and evil world order that we live under.

God, fortunately, does not wait for us to subvert unjust systems, as just as those actions may be; God acts first, not by overpowering or undercutting or destroying unjust systems and the people who support them and benefit from them. God acts by graciously forgiving, renewing and guiding us, all of us.

Therefore we are free to think differently about unjust systems, and in thinking differently we change how we interact with them; which forces the systems to change in response to us.

Jesus tells parables in such a way as to shock his listeners into imagining that something can be different, that God enables us to be different, that God enables us to be God’s Grace for all people. (That’s what any good sermon has at it’s core.)

God gives us ‘talents’ (i.e. gifts of a great variety) in an overabundant quantity and quality. Like money, we get opportunities to ‘invest’ our gifts in God’s kingdom. Our investing in God’s Kingdom (unlike investing in the unjust money systems humans always have had, which Jesus slams in his parable) reaps great increases in our gifts, of which we are only stewards All we are, have and can believe, think and do belongs to God. We ‘have’ it all only by Grace.

Wasting Grace by reducing life to what we must do, whether that is to believe the right things, to maintain a particular piety, or to work in whatever ways to subvert injustices, is a waste of the Grace given to us; it is like burying a great treasure in the ground, instead of using it to do God’s work in this world.

Why does God do anything for us? Why does God chose to exercise Grace for us?

Because God so chooses.

How can we respond?

By giving God thanks and praise!

Once we do that whole-heartedly, then God can use us in new ways to share God’s way of being, to share God’s Grace for everyone with everyone.

Why us? Because God so chooses! Despite our deserving only God’s anger.

Thanks be to God.

Now let us get on with giving God thanks and praise, by sharing Grace with all the people we meet … even if our pastor has forgotten the beginning and end of God’s Word is always GRACE.