Silence! But the Hills Sing!

Monday, April 25, 2022

Always the Blues

Always the Light

of Christ

Guiding Us Onward Into the Day.

1 Chronicles 16:31

Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice, and let them say among the nations, ‘The Lord is king!’

Matthew 28:18-20

And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.’

Words of Grace For Today

In our lives there are all sorts of challenges to finding one’s way forward to a life of purpose, meaning, and maybe even success.

There are plenty of songs about those challenges and the Covid pandemic has certainly made clear for us how these challenges play out for us. Take all those challenges and add isolation and separation and the risk of breathing one’s last in great pain, or recovering and suffering long-Covid for years and … well it’s just overwhelming.

We want to speak out, and have for years, about the lies made up about us, the lack of truth in so many times and places, lies told to help others accumulate money and power. Yet our voices are taken from us. Our words squashed into oblivion.

Our words echo in the wells of silence … as if the best we can do is get them whispered in the sound of silence.

In this place with no voices, a deserted place, this wilderness of a ‘twilight zone’ where nothing is real and everything stands against us no matter what we do … and so little makes any sense, we are just about to give up hope until …

Just when every ray of hope was gone, I should have known that you’d come along, I can’t believe I ever doubted you, my old friend the blues.

We think there is nothing and then we realize that this is as good as it gets and we still have one friend left.

Another lonely night, a nameless town, if sleep don’t take me first you’ll come around, ‘cause I know I can always count on you, my old friend the blues.

All the other people in our lives drift away, if they ever were really an actual part of our lives.

Lovers leave and friends’ll let you down, but you’re the only sure thing that I’ve found. No matter what I do, I’ll never lose my old friend the blues.

Yes, at least we have our old friend the blues.

Except, God knows this about us as well, and the blues are not the only one who sits through the lonely, sleepless nights, with us. In this place with no voices, a deserted place, this wilderness of a ‘twilight zone’ where nothing is real and everything stands against us, God sits with us as well, keeping watch, looking for ways to inspire us to live fully, no matter what our past is like, no matter what will come in our futures.

While we may end up down in the dumps, all around us the heavens are glad, and the earth rejoices, they say among the nations, ‘The Lord is king! And the hills, mountains, lakes, rivers, trees and meadows resound with the chorus ‘The Lord is King!’

If only we had ears to hear!

For now, we pray, Lord Jesus, take my hand and lead me, whither I do not know, but teach me to trust your guiding hand, to share your Grace and love with all peoples.

Maybe there’ll be a bit of chicken for lunch, and juice for supper with popcorn. These are the blessings of God, walking with me.

For this is as good as it gets.

So we learn to speak truth into the silence, welcome the blues, and watch for the dawn to break in on another day where God’s glory is everywhere, and, even if we are alone, we see God everywhere, as the deer graze the meadow and the rabbit nibbles an early meal, and geese fly from nest to food and back, here in God’s own country.

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.

Flee From, Flee To!

Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Flee From the Darkness,

Come Home into the Light,

The Kingdom of Christ.

Isaiah 48:20

Go out from Babylon, flee from Chaldea, declare this with a shout of joy, proclaim it, send it forth to the end of the earth; say, ‘The Lord has redeemed his servant Jacob!’

Colossians 1:13

He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.

Words of Grace For Today

Usually the cry to ‘get out!’ is made in order to move people away from danger. Isaiah provides it to the people in exile in order to move the people toward their homeland, again. This is the cry that is part of the beginning of the return of Israel. It is still going on today, not just with people returning to Israel, but people left homeless for all sorts of reasons and even more during the Covid pandemic.

Today for many would be the cry “Flee the tent gatherings, the river valley tent cities, the shelters, the wilderness camps, the friends couches, the families basements, the temporary housing places, the foreign cities, and from the refugee escaping lines and the refugee camps! Go out from these places, and come home!”

Home!

That conjures up so many memories, and imaginations for those who’ve never had their own homeland or even a home to call their own. Home is … where family is, where one’s heart is, where one’s heritage is, where one’s culture is, where one’s language is spoken and listened to and understood. Home is where one can love others and be loved by others, safely, without risking one’s reputation and life. Home is where God calls us to be … sometimes that is not a home at all, but a time and place where we can provide for others, a place where we can give our everything to secure health, well-being, and joy for others.

Home!

Come home!

Please, come home!

There is no end to the power of darkness that drives so many of us out of our homes, separating us from our loved ones, our children, spouses, parents, and our being. Of course some homes are not safe at all, filled with that darkness itself, of abuse, lies, false blaming, and treachery. God calls us from those ‘homes’ as well back to, or forward to what we may have never known: a place where we are safe from violence and abuse and belittling and isolation from the rest of our family and friends. It’s not just men that do this to women, its also a lot of women doing it to a lot of men. Abuse by whomever always ends in the death of the abused at the hands (directly or indirectly) of the abuser. So God calls us out of these places of destruction of life, to places where our value is known and named regularly, where our contributions are received with gratitude, where our weaknesses are compensated for, where our faults are forgiven. Home is where we grow, together we grow, and we grow together, through the challenges of life.

There is no end to how the powers of darkness consume us and leave us ragged, spent, depleted and at most half alive. So God calls us and rescues us from the power of darkness and transfers us into the kingdom of his beloved Son.

There we live saved by Grace, and filled with gratitude, equipped and empowered to provide safety, value, and love to those with us, those outside our home, and even our enemies (who are so hungry for love and know not how to find it or live it for others.)

From God to all those in all the corners of the earth: Come Home.

Home.

That would be wonderful, wouldn’t it.

Snatched from the Burning Coals

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Cool, Clear, Water

of Life.

Amos 4:11

I overthrew some of you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a brand snatched from the fire; yet you did not return to me, says the Lord.

2 Timothy 2:13

Even if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

Words of Grace For Today

God works in all sorts of ways to bring us to participate in creation the way God created us to fit into creation.

We seldom cooperate, so driven are we to get somewhere in life. We turn what is good and blessed into trouble upon trouble for ourselves. We build castles and kingdoms, enslaving others to produce bread and wine for us.

God takes our castles and kingdoms, and our schemes of enslaving God’s people and overthrows them, so that we have nothing left. In that nothingness God demonstrates to us how much God has given us. God takes our self-assuredness and faithlessness to God and offers us a new beginning. Always God remains faithful to us, to what we need in life.

God’s faithfulness is the one sure thing in life, and most of us wave it off as easily as waving away a beggar or a homeless family or a refugee.

As sure as a day’s worth of steady spring snow covers everything with a fresh and pristine blanket that glistens in the next day’s sun, so God spreads blessings to everyone.

The faithful are those who notice, and share the blessings with others. The rest melt in the brilliant light of Christ faster than the snow on a warm spring day.

When the fires we create would consume us quicker than a dry log in the hot coals of a wood stove, Christ reaches in and delivers us, renews us, refreshes us with clear water, and sends us out to share the cooling water of life.

Trying to Contain God?

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

The Glory of God Is Everywhere

To Be Noticed,

No Finding Needed,

It Found Us

Ages Ago!

1 Chronicles 28:9

And you, my son Solomon, know the God of your father, and serve him with single mind and willing heart; for the Lord searches every mind, and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you; but if you forsake him, he will abandon you for ever.

Hebrews 3:20-21

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

How do you tell the successor to the kingdom on earth that he has nothing at all to do with whether or not God blesses him and the kingdom?

How do you tell your successor that when you yourself are famous for taking charge and making the kingdom great?!?

How do you tell your successor to the kingdom you have built that he must surrender his will to God’s will, and trust that God will guide him, even in ways that he may not understand or willingly follow, especially when you are infamous for taking your own will into your own hands in order to build this kingdom that your son will inherit from you?

How can you tell your son to submit to God’s will when you are about to instruct your son to build God a temple, which, in the middle of your eager plans to start construction of a magnificent temple, God has told you that God does not need or want any kind of temple?

(David is and remains blessed by God, not because David earns it, but because God so chooses.)

David, faced with these challenges, does not instruct Solomon to submit to God’s will. Instead David reverts to a simple and common perversion of God’s will for us humans: If Solomon does right, then God will bless him. If Solomon does not do right then God will forsake him forever. Solomon must then find and follow God.

But that is not possible because God’s Kingdom does not work this way, though there are plenty of humans to tell you it does, and plenty of humans live that way on earth their entire lives.

God’s Kingdom rather begins with love, ends with love, and everything inbetween is God graciously forgiving, renewing and equipping us to be God’s loving grace for all other people. We earn nothing. We keep nothing. We give God everything. And we live lives abundant … in God’s Kingdom.

This is Jesus’ story for us: God comes and gives everything to save us, forgive us, renew life in us, and send us out into the world to follow Jesus’ example: surrendering everything we are and have so that God can work through us to bless other people.

And that is to live a blessed life, as one of the God-made saints.

No need to find God! God is right there with you! No need to earn God’s Grace, it’s long ago been enacted for you, for each day and each moment of your life.

Breathe

Sing

Dance

and Love Unconditionally.

Harsh & Costly Interruptions of Grace

Monday, February 21, 2022

See the Light,

Hear the Word,

Rejoice With Our Hearts:

God IS With Us

OR

Keep Running From God

and the Truth

Isaiah 53:11

Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge. The righteous one, my servant, shall make many righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

Colossians 2:10

You have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority.

Words of Grace For Today

Headstrong as we all are, we need some rigorous interruption to our daily routine, to the expected, to the unrighteousness of our lives that we’ve come to rely on in order to make our way forward.

That’s what the suffering servant, and many who have followed who have sacrificed themselves to give others life, and what God in the life of Jesus has done for all: they have interrupted the usual and expected flow of selfishness with their own sacrifice that gives others life. Their sacrifice is simple to describe. They put themselves in the way of corrupt people and powers who seek a scapegoat for their own corruption, lies, and destruction of others … and all manner of sins that clog up the flow of life with their own shtako. These corrupt people easily lie about an innocent person in order to gain some catharsis for the strain the overflow and damming (and damning) their own sins spew across their own lives.

Then as the innocent person is destroyed, the strain of the shtako in their own lives seems to be relieved. Yet it is not at all, not at all. In fact it deepens the clogged up piles that impede life, honest life, blessed life as God created us to live it. … until another innocent scapegoat is slammed into jail or poverty or derision and eventually death.

This seems to be the regular rhythm and rhyme of life … over and over again … and no one seems to care or notice that the innocent are some of the best people alive … until they are no longer.

When God sacrificed life in the death of God-Jesus, God sent a clear message: NO FURTHER SCAPEGOATS ARE REQUIRED for life to flow onward, for the goodness of life to be lived, for the overwhelming, clogging and damning sins of so many to be forgiven.

God dies.

God dies to interrupt our usual.

God dies to interrupt our usual scapegoating to save us from our sins, and to save all those we would scapegoat.

And yet so many people simply cannot bear the thought that God knows their sins, so they keep scapegoating innocent people, and innocent people are jailed, slammed into poverty and derision, and eventually killed … all for nothing more than a temporary cathartic relief of actual, overwhelming, damning and destructive guilt.

Woe to those who continue to scapegoat the innocent!

But for those who have ears, for those who have eyes, for those who have hearts …

ears to hear God’s Word,

eyes to see Christ’s Light,

hearts to receive and live out God’s unconditional love for us all …

For those who the Holy Spirit has given ears, eyes and hearts to receive God, God blesses us with God’s presence each day, each moment … no matter the false convictions, poverty, derisions, or death wishes aimed at us …

and we live lives as God intended us to live them: honest, grateful, generous, forgiving, and steadfast … and as required, self-sacrificial.

Faith That Fights for Life!

Tuesday, February 8, 2022

Living the Life of Faith

in the Light

the Faith to Which We Are Called

And for Which We Are Created.

Isaiah 51:7

Listen to me, you who know righteousness, you people who have my teaching in your hearts; do not fear the reproach of others, and do not be dismayed when they revile you.

1 Timothy 6:12

Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

Words of Grace For Today

To fight.

To fight usually involves things like fists, rifles, drones and bombs.

Or at least it usually involves scheming, manoeuvring, ruining the other, driving them out of here into exile, leaving them homeless and landless, or setting them up to die an early death.

To fight.

To fight the good fight of the faith to which we are called …

well that is an entirely different kind of fight.

It is a battle again evil.

It is a battle against evil first of all in ourselves, and then in those around us.

It is a battle that we can barely begin to fight … unless ….

Unless God brings us to be holy…

holy saints,

holy saints equipped to bring Grace to bear on condemnation, bold forgiveness to douse reproach and destorying, kindness to undo all violence, and truth to outshine all deceits.

This is the battle of the universe, of which God created us, for which God created us, not that we might die in the battle or bear the burden of the war, doch …

doch (rather) that we might be vessels carrying hearts transformed to know God’s presence with us, God’s righteousness permeating us, no matter what may come.

Shine, Jesus Shine.

Otherwise it is so dark in here!

Shine, with all the candle power the universe has ever known,

Shine in this darkness, and transform those who would destory and destroy us.

Shine, Jesus, Shine!

Sing, Children of God, Sing!

Let there be Light, and let there be jubilation, in every corner of creation, in every darkness of evil, and in every heart.

God’s Compassion

Sunday, February 6, 2022

To Whom Among the ‘lords’

God Will Extend Compassion

Is Not For Us to Say or Know.

Ours is, amid the darkness, to bask in

The Golden Light of Christ.

Micah 5:3

Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labour has brought forth; then the rest of his kindred shall return to the people of Israel.

Matthew 9:36

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

Words of Grace For Today

The great masses of humanity have always lived subjected to those with power and the ability to lord it over them. There’s never been a shortage of those lining up to take on the place of power and privilege and comfort … and lording it over others to have all that.

Jesus, God’s story of God’s amazing unconditional love for all people -especially the poor and the outcasts – sees the crowds gathered to hear the Good News that he preaches, the healing that he administers and he knows their plight.

God has walked with God’s people in poverty and oppression and persecution and exile without homes. God knows everything. God knows the plight of the great majority of humans who have ever lived. God knows the corruption of those who lord it over them. God has, seemingly, abandoned God’s people at many and various times to the clutches of those oppressing, persecuting, and driving masses into poverty. God has always walked, into those times of apparent abandonment, with God’s people. And God has walked God’s people out of those times as well.

God sends the Law, the Prophets, and the Good Shepherd to guide the people out of those times that are like hell. Today God continues to send God-made saints to walk with people in all circumstances, to help them reconnect with the promises of God and to live (even in poverty and oppression and persecution and exile without homes) abundantly. So it is when we live aware that God walks with us.

There is nothing in life that is more blessed, more secure, and more rich than God’s presence and God’s promises that we, too, shall once again walk among God’s people, no longer shunned and falsely accused, but exonerated and honoured.

And those who lord it over others, driving them to poverty, into oppression, into persecution and out into exile homeless … those who lord it over others and live in comfort will face God’s judgment. Whether they too will receive God’s Grace is not for us to say. It is God’s will, which will be done. For now the ‘lords’ breathe only as a gift from God, giving them time for the amendment of life.

For the rest of us, God has compassion and demonstrates it day after day, in the simplest and most profound ways.

Thanks be to God.

Night Vision Always

Monday, January 24, 2022

No Matter How Darkness Arrives

in Our Lives,

God Sees Clearly

and Guides Us to Live Well!

Psalm 139:11-12

If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night’, even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Luke 4:40

As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them.

Words of Grace For Today

God knows we know what it is like

to have darkness overtake us,

and

to have the light disappear on us while we progress through our work that requires light to finish.

We are thankful that for God there is no darkness that is dark. For God the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.

God does not need night vision googles to deal with what we experience as darkness, for even as the sun sets, and even as we succumb to illness God sees clearly what we need to be healthy. God sees perfectly, and

through the gifts of the Holy Spirit,

God gives us sight to see what is hidden by the darkness of sin and evil, and to be the ones who bring Christ’ balm to heal any who [are] sick with various kinds of diseases.

So we can rest assured, even as the darkness grows around us and envelops us, that God sees all that we need to live, and to live abundant lives.

Jails for Whom, Anyway?

Thursday, December 30, 2021

In the Light of Christ,

All Crime is Laid Plain for All to See!

Freedom is to Live in the Light of Christ,

As Fishers on the Lake at Sunset.

Psalm 74:16

Yours is the day, yours also the night; you established the luminaries and the sun.

Romans 13:12-13

The night is far gone, the day is near. Let us then lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; let us live honourably as in the day, not in revelling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarrelling and jealousy.

Words of Grace For Today

Knowing from long experience as humans we know that enough people will violate the goodness of social order, so we create laws and police and courts and judges and jails for such people.

What ends up happening is that the laws are written by people who will as readily as anyone violate the goodness of social order to ensure that they stay in power to write the laws, so that they are not held responsible for the evil they do.

The police are more than ready to violate the goodness of social order, justifying their lawlessness for themselves by saying that they must keep order and they are not given enough tools to do so.

The lawyers who work to convict and who work to protect those charges are ready to violate the goodness of social order, justifying their lawlessness to themselves by saying that they must do what is necessary to play their part in keeping good order and they are not given enough tools to do so without cheating the system.

The judges who are supposed to work to ensure that only guilty people are convicted and sentenced are more than ready to violate the goodness of social order, justifying their lawlessness to themselves by saying that they must do what is necessary to play their part in keeping good order and they are the ones who determine what is just and what is not.

What is lost as all these people, supposedly do their part in keeping good order, is simple: truth is lost and with it all possibility of good social order. The real criminals continue to rape society of it’s goodness, it’s wealth, it’s equality for all; and they put others in jail who work at the bottom of their ladder of corruption; the drug dealers, the killers, the violent rapists, at least all those that are not smart enough not to get caught.

So for whom do we build jails? We hope they are for real criminals, and we trust at least some real criminals end up there. But the real criminals are the ones who process other ‘less successful’ people who violate the goodness of social order. There are no jails that can hold these people and keep us all safe from them.

God will judge all people, and these criminals will eventually pay for their crimes against us all.

For God’s is the day and the night. God created all. The darkness of night is passing, and the day of Christ’s light is near.

So we pray God helps us lay aside the works of darkness and put on the armour of light; help us live honourably as in the day, in the Light of Christ.