God’s Unequal Equation – Grace for All

Monday, January 25, 2021

The Wonders of God’s Grace

As Gift to Us All

Jeremiah 30:11

For I am with you, says the Lord, to save you; I will make an end of all the nations among which I scattered you, but of you I will not make an end. I will chastise you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.

1 Peter 5:6

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.

Words of Grace For Today

The world works under simple rules: do well, do good, and get rewarded. Do badly, do evil, and get punished. At least those are the rules that people talk as if applied, and that supposedly ‘good’ people abide by (or appear to abide by.)

The dark reality is that the simple rules do apply, just a different version: Do badly enough, do great evil, and get rewarded. Do real well, do great good, and get punished by those who do not want to be know as those rewarded for doing evil.

So preachers come to the pulpit, with little experience, or much experience, and they preach a foul message: that in the church we good people must pull ourselves up, pull ourselves together, and gather together in our efforts with each other to change the way the world works, so that the simple rules, the first version, the version taught to small children, is the way the world works.

The words may vary a bit: it may be that the reward is that justice is done for all people including the guilty who we must stop and punish. Or it may be that the homeless will have homes and the hungry will have food because we do the work to make it so.

Always the message is: get up and get it right. Get on with doing good. Our reward will be in heaven, or some such thing. But those who do terrible things will be punished and put to an end.

Ha! The evil that is in such a message is immense.

It corrupts God’s message in Jesus Christ down to the same formula as humans always play with: Do and be rewarded or punished. Now get on with all that you are able to do (good or bad.)

Only by Grace are we good enough for God, otherwise every single one of us fall short of God’s measure of what good enough is.

God’s simple rules are completely different. First God comes, rescues and saves us. God marks us as God’s own children. Because God saves us, not just once but our whole lives long, therefore we are able to hear the story, understand the story, accept the story, and share the story of Jesus and his unconditional love for us.

Therefore we are able to go out into the world that seems to work on a ‘do’ and ‘get results’ equation. In this wonderful world we are able to live out a different equation, the one that describes Jesus’ story.

That equation is ‘God does for us’ and therefore ‘we get to do for others.’

That’s amazing Grace.

That’s wondrous Love.

That’s a basis for undeniable Hope.

Because God does for us, we can face anything that comes our way. Even that which appears to be ‘discipline’ from God for our sins.

God promises, through everything, not to abandon us, not to destroy us.

In God’s own time we will be transformed, with gratitude, to those who can reflect God’s Grace to all around us.

There is no need or possibility of us good people pulling ourselves up, pulling ourselves together, or gathering together in our efforts with each other to change the way the world works. That may happen from our efforts, but only if God works in us. Our goal can be to transform the world. But only in that more and more people know Jesus’ story as the story of God’s unconditional love – done first for us by God when we do not and cannot deserve it, so that we can share that with all others.

That’s an equation that has God’s wonders as a wildcard variable, that makes everything possible … for God, and by God for us.

The Gift of Breath and Body

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Wonders of Creation

Wonders of Human Life

Wonders Created by God

as Gift for All!

Genesis 2:7

Then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being.

3 John 1:2

Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul.

Words of Grace For Today

Whether we speak of ourselves made up of body and soul, or we see ourselves as one unified whole of various characteristics interconnected and interdependent, we know …

that historically people have spoken of humans as made up of bodies (flesh, blood, muscles, bones, organs) and souls (spirit, Geist, reason and emotion, sentience) … and …

that historically people have spoken of humans one interconnected, interdependent whole, connected not only to ourselves, but to all other humans and creatures and all of creation, not only in this time, but throughout all time.

In the creation story from Genesis 2 God animates the dust that forms a human with God’s breath (Spirit!) so that the dust lives.

We ought remain humble; we are but dust. We can be so wrongly arrogant; we are God’s Spirit. We ought be so humble; all that we are dust and Spirit are gifts from God, and we exist only because of God, continue only according to God’s Grace, and are promised eternal life only because God so chooses to love us. We can do nothing to earn any of this.

We are not little gods because God breathes Spirit into us. We are mere creatures capable of bearing God’s Spirit to others, capable of bearing God’s Spirit to all creation – not that we do, more often than not we choose to turn against God, God’s creatures and creation, playing as if we were little gods.

It is known that when our spirits, our souls, are in good health, the health of our bodies improves, we recover from illness quicker. When we connect with nature we reduce our stress and our physical and mental health improves. We, body and soul, are connected to God’s creation, interacting at least, though God teaches us we are interconnected.

In the face of Covid 19, and all the challenges to our physical health, even age itself, we pray for ourselves and all people, that as God heals our souls, God may heal our bodies as well. We pray that we may recognize that not only are we in this pandemic together and so dependent on others to observe restrictions to stem the transmission of Covid 19, we are guests on this earth and so dependent on each other to treat all humans as the precious gifts they are and all of creation as the wondrous gift it is, for us all.

7th Day of …

Thursday, December 31, 2020

In the darkness of the woods,

the sun still shines.

In the darkness of our suffering at our enemies’ hands,

Christ’s Light still shines.

We get to be Christ’s Light

even for our enemies.

Psalm 6:10

All my enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror; they shall turn back, and in a moment be put to shame.

John 16:24

Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

Words of Grace For Today

Enemies shamed, our joy complete.

It sounds like schadenfreude, our joy at others’ misery. Is this part of our Christmas tradition, too?!

It sounds like God’s justice is actually our revenge, or that God’s justice is like Karma: ‘what goes around comes around’.

It sounds like we can ask for anything and it will be done for us … and our joy is completed in having our wishes and whims fulfilled.

When it sounds like that, it is the devil messing around with the Good News, bringing us to suffer perdition even as we live our days on earth.

What a shame to suffer, to be so skewed as to think that the devil’s ways are God’s ways. That is the real shame, for that mix up is the root of all sin. Often instead of knowing they are the devil’s ways we think that they are the good ways we have chosen to pursue for our own good. Hah! How foolish we humans can be, and what a shame we suffer for being such fools.

The Good News is simple: God loves us, all of our fore-bearers descendants, and all of our descendants … and all our enemies! Of course we wish to be freed from suffering at our enemies’ hands. But, though our instincts are to pursue revenge, to cause our enemies suffering, God does not delight in their suffering, nor in their deaths. Instead God wishes that they be converted from our enemies to our friends, from followers of the devil to followers of Jesus.

In this is God’s joy complete.

In this double victory we are freed from suffering at our enemies hands, and we gain new friends and new siblings as children of God.

And in that our joy is complete, as we wish what God wishes: that our enemies be saved as we are saved by Jesus’ sacrifice of unconditional love.

We have waited to celebrate Christ’s birth, because in waiting we can see what otherwise we could not: the patience God has with us and with our enemies. This tradition of Advent waiting is not one many keep anymore. Yet it is a tradition that is more valuable than many others.

It is a tradition that Covid 19 cannot interrupt, rather it disrupts our jumping on the early Christmas bandwagon so easily. It helps us remember Advent is … significantly … for waiting.

In that tradition we may encounter the mystery of God, and be overwhelmed yet again by God’s grace and love for us all, even for our enemies! As the mysteries of God surround us, carry us, and astound us, with our humble praise we give God thanks in all things.

What a life!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – December 1

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

God’s Light Doubled.

Living as Guests

in God’s good Creation,

We are all aliens,

We are all inheritors of God’s blessings.

Genesis 26:3

Reside in this land as an alien, and I will be with you, and will bless you; for to you and to your descendants I will give all these lands, and I will fulfill the oath that I swore to your father Abraham.

1 Peter 1:17

If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile.

Words of Grace For Today

Are we aliens, guests on earth, in exile?

So many people on earth today are not able to live in their home land. So many people are exiled by violence or political differences with those that rule with cruelty at home.

They are aliens, in exile, yet we recognize they belong on earth, or at least we sort of recognize them as residents of earth.

In all our lives there are times, like Advent, that are not times for themselves, but times of waiting or of transition, when we anticipate with great expectations that things will be different, better. We anticipate that we will eventually no longer just be aliens, but that this will be our land, our home land, our place and time that God promises us and all people will recognize that it is ours, by God’s Grace alone.

Covid 19 is in a second wave, much worse than the first, still ineptly dealt with by so many governments, like at home in Alberta where the government, ideologically, holds that the economy is more important than the individual lives of the residents in this province. Restrictions are finally set in place weeks too late and multitudes of degrees too slack. Trying to protect the economy the government sacrifices health care for almost everyone, making room for Covid cases in the hospitals. The government sacrifices lives of people who die from the infection. The government sacrifices the long term health of so many people who suffer debilitating organ damage though they survive the virus’s first attack.

The government does this because it’s political base is not in the cities, which are harder hit than the rural areas where it’s support is strongest.

The government does this because it’s political base is the business owners, not the workers. The government does this because it does not value essential workers like doctors and health care workers (who they have fought against to drastically cut their compensation over the last few years.) The government does this because it supports big business and oil industry. The small people, the scientific evidence, the best real path forward is not important. Instead of the best path forward, science and prevention and providing health care for everyone does not matter. What matters is the political moves that can be made in the confusion of Covid 19. Well, we got what the majority chose: a government that is unto itself and lies to maintain it’s power. We’ve got what we deserve.

Thankfully God does not leave it there.

God walks with us, in a foreign land, and in our home land. We are God’s people, all of us God’s creatures.

We may be in exile at home with a government that does not have our interests, yet alone survival, in mind. God will soon enough deliver us. We can wait, patiently, and prepare ourselves to receive God’s Son, as he was born millennia ago, and as he comes each day, and to await for his return.

We can wait to celebrate Christmas until Christmas proper. We can take to heart Advent as the time of waiting in wonder that it is.

Blue with hope, that’s the children of God …

for now, for these four weeks.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 30

Monday, November 30, 2020

As the sun rises

some trees stand between us and the light.

What will darken our view of God’s light?

Zechariah 2:12

The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem.

Romans 8:33

Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

Words of Grace For Today

Our Apostle’s Confession of Faith reads as the word concluding the second article about our faith in Jesus, Son of God, “from there he will come to judge the living and the dead.”

It is common to imagine God’s judgment as a terrible day. Jesus, sitting at God’s right hand, judging all people, living and dead, may seem a bit less daunting to those who have received faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. For Jesus came to preach and teach, comfort and heal, and bring truth and salvation to all who believe in him.

That judgment may seem a long way off, sometime in the distant future, in some distant millennium when the earth comes to an end, perhaps when the sun collapses into itself and the explodes into a supernova consuming everything in the solar system.

As we enter Advent, with integrity as faithful Christians, waiting, preparing ourselves, waiting, yearning (as opposed to starting the Christmas celebrations already – early), we take time in this reflective, sombre, anticipatory and hope-filled time to notice how God already walks with us each day, how Jesus is present in all creation, and how the Holy Spirit guides and empowers us to be God’s children each day in new and surprising ways.

We notice also that there is nothing we can do to make ourselves right before God. God justifies us, and God alone. There is also no human (or devil’s being) who can bring a valid charge against us, God’s chosen, elect, forgiven, justified, and sanctified children.

Oh, the world and many people in it will try, driven by the Devil’s evil ways, to charge God’s people. Corrupt courts will even try, convict and imprison innocent people, all in an attempt to exercise their corruption of power, as if it were absolute or final.

These corrupt people can only place themselves under God’s judgment, even in these days. They can do all sorts of damage to our lives on this earth, harm greatly a great number of people, especially the most vulnerable including children, and make many people’s lives miserable in many ways. They can attack the integrity of society, even the integrity of God’s earth. They cannot actually harm us before God. They cannot separate us from God’s love and blessings. They cannot do anything that God does not allow them to do, all in order that we humans are capable of loving one another.

(For love requires that it is chosen by the one who loves, which requires free choice. Therefore there must be something besides love that we can choose, which requires in turn that hate, sin and all sorts of evil be on the menu for us to choose from … and to suffer as we and others choose other than to love as God loves us, unconditionally.)

We can, in these blue days of Advent, know that God walks with us, and is for us in all ways; God justifies us! Nothing can separate us from God’s love; not Covid 19, injustice of any kind, or lack of the necessities of life.

Because God justifies us, we can be the people who reach out to administer to those in need, to heal the sick, and to share the power of the Holy Spirit with all people.

That power is not the power of force or might; it is as Jesus lived for us, the power of self-sacrificing love.

That brings us to each day, no matter how dark or bleak, sure that our future is in God’s gracious hands, driven to be God’s Grace for all we encounter.

What a wondrous future!

What a life!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 28

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Does Our World Seem Off Kilter?

Especially Then

God Walks with Us

and Comforts Us

with Truth

Isaiah 66:13

As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you; you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.

John 14:18-19

I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.

Words of Grace For Today

When we are born, we are helpless infants. We require that someone provide care for us. A mother or replacement nursemaid can nurse us and give us nourishment. Today we have formula that can replace a mother’s milk, or some of it. Immunity cannot be received from formula.

A mother breast feeding a child is called nursing the child, or comforting the child. As demanding as breast feeding at all hours is, as a child grows fathers and mothers spend a good portion of their days providing for the child, well into adolescence so that they survive. Much of this care is comforting a child and good fathers are sometimes better at this than mothers, even good mothers. Fathers, even poor fathers are better at providing comfort than mothers who are a narcissists or a personality disordered persons.

Comfort is good, Fathers can be good, Mothers can be good. And all but the mentally ill can, but do not necessarily, provide comfort.

In our baptisms God adopts us as children. Jesus adopted the disciples as they joined his motley crew that travelled, taught, and healed the crowds of people. When Jesus is about to leave them, after being resurrected from the dead, he promises that he is not abandoning them.

More than enough people are totally messed up due to abandonment issues. Jesus does not do this to the disciples, nor to us. Jesus must leave, but he lives and he lives in and among us, God’s children. Jesus also promises to return.

We still wait, expectantly, for his return.

Advent is a special time when we should practice waiting for the Christ to return as we celebrate his upcoming birth. We jump right into pre-celebrating Christ’s birth and the hoopla of Christmas, all so that we can avoid remembering we still wait for Jesus to return!

We are an impatient people. We suffer greatly because of it. We forego the healing practice of waiting, waiting, and more waiting … with grateful hearts. We wait for Jesus to return, for Christmas to come. We do not claim we ‘possess’ Jesus; like ‘I’ve got Jesus in my heart’ or anywhere else. Jesus has got us, thank God; or there would be no way through even a day of the evil that people make for each other on earth.

Waiting, we remember how Jesus is with us, how Jesus has always got us, and has always gotten us.

That’s the comfort of God. The comfort of God is that God-Jesus-Holy Spirit is with us always, guiding, teaching, leading, healing us.

Parents can comfort us so much, even long after we’ve grown to be adults. As any parent of adult children can tell you, the parenting job does not get easier with time as the children age, rather it gets more complicated, more significant, and it requires wisdom.

Thankfully, with the fear and love of God as our beginning each day, we receive wisdom, slowly and sometimes we think insufficiently for the challenges. Yet God uses us to deliver God’s comfort, to our children, and to all of God’s children.

Comfort, comfort, comfort … we share as we have received: God is with us, Jesus has not abandoned us. Together we CAN wait, also for Christmas.

Perhaps the separation and challenges Covid 19 forces on us will teach us to wait, with patience … and to provide each other the comfort that surpasses all other: God’s comfort for God’s children.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 24

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Light

The Light that Guides Us on Our Way

The Light that Gives Life!

To All.

Psalm 98:3

He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the victory of our God.

Mark 4:21

He said to them, ‘Is a lamp brought in to be put under the bushel basket, or under the bed, and not on the lampstand?

Words of Grace For Today

God’s victory!

The imagination runs wild, how the celebration would fill the universe, and our lives from bottom to top.

God’s victory … doesn’t look quite like we imagine. It’s the look of a double victory: first that justice is done, and truth wins out! Our enemies no longer can do us harm.

The second part of the double victory is that our enemies are forgiven, redeemed, and set free to reflect God’s Grace to all people.

This is the Light of Christ.

We do not put a lamp under a bushel, especially not in the dark evenings and mornings of winter as we approach Advent.

Neither is God going to put the Light of Christ, nor the fragile vessels that reflect it to the world, under a bushel, especially not in the dark days of … winter, or politicians who want to Gaslight the whole world by not acting responsibly in the face of Covid 19, or people drowning in other’s lies.

Christ’s Light is good, always, but especially in the dark days like today.

Pray.

Pray that God’s double victory comes soon to our enemies, for the light of life is almost extinguished in the dark of winter.

Pray.

Pray that God places the Light of Christ high over us, that all may see God’s justice, truth, and unconditional love.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 23

Monday, November 23, 2020

God, High and Mighty, Creator of All

Comes to Be With Us

And Teaches Us Many Things

Isaiah 57:15

For thus says the high and lofty one who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: I dwell in the high and holy place, and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite.

Mark 6:34

As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.

Words of Grace For Today

The world values people that are high and mighty.

God values the contrite and humble. Jesus comes to redeem the world: as a physician comes to heal not the healthy, but those who are ill, Jesus comes to be with sinners, those the world does not value.

Some describe God’s attitude towards people, and towards us, as a preferential option for the poor.

However we describe God’s attitude to us, it is clear that while we favour power, might, wealth, and fame; God favours the outcasts, the marginalized, and the poor.

God works through the power of love, not the power of might, through the power of self sacrifice, not the power of sacrificing others. Instead of asking us to do what needs to be done, God rescues us from what binds us to sin, and enables us to do God’s work in this world for Christ.

The maker of the universe finds us so valuable, that God comes to be with us.

The rest is the old, old story, of Jesus and his love, already present at the beginning of the universe.

What a life God gives us, which through steps and missteps we find filled with love and renewal.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 22

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Given this Beauty,

To Make Our Own God Above All Others

OR

To Accept the Mystery of God’s Work In All People, In All Religions,

Including that People Worship Differently, Apparently Different Gods,

For which do you think God created the universe?

Isaiah 43:11

I, I am the Lord, and besides me there is no saviour.

Ephesians 4:5-6

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

Words of Grace For Today

Who are we, if we are true to the confession of our faith, to be the ones to denigrate God’s work in other people, even when that work shows itself as faith different from ours.

Who are we to determine who God is?

We are totally incapable of such a determination!

Wars based on differences of religion are foolish. In truth they are always about other things, using religion as a motivator to bring people to fight and justify their evil actions as right.

The same is true for countless conflicts between peoples, down to battles between spouses and between siblings.

God is God.

We hold that we are saved from our sins by Grace alone, clearly shown to us through the life, ministry, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.

Our faith, faithfully lived, provides for a wonderful life, for us and for all who embrace this faith. Many who say they embrace this faith, actually misuse it, instead of living it faithfully. They misuse it for their own means to cruel ends. Such is the history of humans since they imagined that God existed.

Our faith provides that God also forgives those who misuse faith. Our faith provides us the courage to confess we all misuse faith. Such is the history of humans since we imagined that God existed.

Our Lord, One Lord, Three-In-One, provides for life abundant … not in material excesses, but in blessings in all circumstances. So we hold on faithfully to the gifts of the One Spirit, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and the one hope of our calling: one God, who is above all and through all and in all.

That makes for a marvellous life.

Our faith gives us the strength and resilience to face whatever evil comes our way, whatever challenges come our way, whatever abuse of faith is exercised around us or through us.

Covid 19 is only one of many challenges we face, always God walking with us.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 21

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Given this Beauty,

To Make Our Way with Hate and Vengeance and Injustice

OR

To Abide in God’s Blessings and Love, Shared With All People,

For which do you think God created the universe?

Psalm 63:4

So I will bless you as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on your name.

1 John 4:16

So we have known and believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.

Words of Grace For Today

There is a lot of excrement that people produce from their hearts, minds and strength, which has nothing to do with the digestive system.

Trying to make one’s way through it each day is a huge challenge.

We can see that challenge as the evil created by others, which impedes our progress in life, so that we respond with hate and vengeance and injustice in our futile efforts to make right what is wrong.

Or we can see the challenge as a dance, in which God enables us to participate, with the goal not to put it all right. Rather we participate in the dance of life each day in such a way as to reflect God’s love for those excrement makers, God’s unconditional love for them … and for us.

We know that dancing, especially into old age (80’s and 90’s), provides tremendous benefits to one’s body and one’s mind … and to the love one has for one’s gracious partner, who can move in response to the music, the words if there are any, and to the ‘traffic conditions’ on the dance floor.

Viewing life as a dance around the Devil’s Work, the excrement abundant, brings great benefit to one’s heart, mind, and strength. Thus we are able to bless God, God’s people, and all creation, and to lift up one’s hands in thanks, joy, and hope as we call on God’s name, in whom we abide, and who abides always in us.

We are not ever alone.

No matter the lies told about us. No matter the false convictions against us. No matter the Gaslighting directed against us. No matter the Devil’s attacks on us in all guises.

No matter the isolation and distance required by sensible Covid 19 restrictions, we are not ever alone.

God walks with us each hour of every day.

Fearing and loving God, how then would we choose to live: filled with hate,

OR

filled with love?

How do you choose again this day?

If you choose to fear and love God, then reach out to others, and share God’s love, unconditionally.