with cracks like rifle shots broke up, the wind pushed it to the
shoreline and the warmer weather melted it off the lake, except for a
few remnants on the windblown shore.
occasional camper ventures out for a weekend.
return in force.
favourite by far is the return of the loons.
Calm after, Preparation for, Speck of Haunting Beauty
question is always
to this day, this month, this year, with this life, precious as
Christ has claimed it to be?
The path toward the light at sunrise
moment opportunities to do well, do the right thing, are before us.
Which will you choose this day?
Will you walk to the light?
Or will you choose to remain in the darkness of greed, self interest, deception, and destruction in order to just make it through the days you’ve filled with such pain for others, and your own soul?
[replace the above with and fill in your own choice of sin, evil, and darkness – we all have our favourites!]
light is truth, grace, health, purpose, and peace.
profound joy, even in the midst of grief.
The haunting loon returns with all the other signs of spring, by instinct, by the pull of nature, and for pure survival. Humans can choose more than survival and instinct. You can choose new life in the light, and choose to share it with everyone,
wondrous morning, we remember especially God’s victorious response
to death’s three-day claim on Jesus. We remember Jesus’
resurrection. And we hope for God’s resurrection response to all
claims evil has on us and on all people.
Christ is Risen, Christ is Risen Indeed!
The Darkness Before
we have remembered Jesus’ story, from the Palm procession into
Jerusalem, to his last meal with his disciples as he gave us the New
Covenant, … to his arrest and
his disciples deserting him, … to the questioning, the scapegoating
crowds, … to
Peter’s denials, and
mocking of Jesus, … to
and then his death and burial in an unused tomb. Rightfully so his
followers are fearful; they
hide behind locked doors.
All of this is so horrendous and unbearable.
we know the next part of Jesus’ story, because we celebrate it each
Sunday. We know that Jesus is Risen from the dead, back to life.
that evil played
against him and
overwhelmed so many people and then even Jesus himself in death …
Holy Week leading to Easter is so much more than that:
God did not just step in to defeat the death of Jesus. After all
Jesus is not the first to come back from the dead. Death is
– relatively speaking, – easily overcome, one person at a time.
Lazarus steps out of his tomb with grave clothes still covering him.
The young girl answers Jesus’ call Talitha cumi, and walks away
from her death bed.
we remember that God does something much, much larger.
The story is more than one resurrection
story is more than one resurrection. God
all evil. All
is not just laying down in one’s own bed and waking up the next
morning in one’s own home. It is to be able to do this after living
on the streets or in the woods for years, with no bed or home to call
one’s own, and
then one night having ones own bed to sleep in, in one’s own home.
It’s not just having three meals a day in the senior’s care centre and being able to give an CLWR offering for Easter, which will give meals to people starving in refugee camps who have fled genocide in their home countries. Rather it is as a child having only grass to eat on the walk out of Stalin’s drought in the Ukraine, and having survived years of hardships and hunger when there were no refugee camps. Then in one’s later years being able to make a donation that will feed others who now have no food.
It’s not just a love story of ‘girl gets guy’, and they waltz off into the sunset of life. It is growing up without friends as an immigrant, an outsider. Then evil being defeated means one finds love in the most unexpected place with the most unexpected person against the most unbeatable odds … in the family of what once was one’s real enemies.
not just Jesus coming back from the dead to live again, although
that’s a bit terrific already. It’s Jesus having taken on all
Evil and having taken on all the sins of every person who has and
ever will live. It’s having taken on the penalties
for all that sin along with the big
death for every person. Then
being brought back to live life. It’s having Jesus
on all that and having defeated it!
story is not like just standing at home plate and hitting a home run
out of the stadium. It’s standing at the plate, in the bottom of
the thirteenth inning, with a full count, down three runs, bases
loaded, with all your pitchers hurting, having been put up there in
desperation by the manager. You will never be here again, ever, no
matter if you play 1000 more games. Then
That’s like Jesus’ story; his life, suffering, death and resurrection mean so much more than we are able to imagine. That’s like our story or rather we each have a variation of that as our own story.
Jesus’ and in our stories, God defeats all Evil and all death once
and for all time.
sort of. God makes the promise visible to us, that one day, at the
end of this world, new life will be given to all the dead. There will
be a resurrection for everyone. That’s when God will put Evil to
promise to Abraham and Sarah took most of their life times before
God’s time was right for them to have a child, long past normal
time. God’s time to make this promise to us will come.
the meantime, today
we are God’s saints, not because we have done good things. Rather
are saints only because
us when we cannot
us the people who think the thoughts, who say the words, who do the
deeds of God’s perfect people. Jesus has pulled us from the grips
of evil where we’ve put ourselves, from where we only deserve
eternal death. From the darkest valley of the shadows of death Jesus
has brought blessed things to
us and out of
give life abundant to others around us.
do we respond to Gods’ work in and through us?
response can be to delve into Jesus’ story, again and again. Our
response can be to learn more and more of God’s purpose for us,
communicated by God from outside of time, beyond matter, from
infinity. God has compressed God’s will into Jesus’ life story.
God has funnelled it to us living inside of time, confined to bodies,
living a finite existence. God communicates everything we need to
know through Jesus’ life, death and resurrection story. Our
response can be to engage with Jesus’ story again and again our
Holy Spirit works in us to help us understand what we see and hear.
The Holy Spirit works in us so that like Mary in the Garden, we
recognize our shepherd’s voice and follow where he leads us.
Mary, we see angels but we may not know it. The Holy Spirit helps us
fill in the blanks. Like Peter, we may hear the women’s story, even
go to see for ourselves, and find the grave clothes neatly folded on
the stone death bed. Yet we not understand what it is that we see, or
it is that we do
not see. The Holy Spirit helps us comprehend the obvious but
God’s limitless creative power has just undone death through
the beloved disciple we may hear the women’s story, and see exactly
what Peter sees, and we may believe that Jesus lives. The Holy Spirit
helps us to grasp how we, as representatives of the human species,
just caught a new glimpse of God’s will and our place in creation.
Holy Spirit helps us continually change the rest of our lives, so
that we live as one
the whole fully
no longer need to compete with each other to succeed. God calls us to
the acceptable fast during Lent, giving of ourselves so that others
will have life abundant.
after Easter, God calls us to celebrate every day, not just how the
light of Christ frees us, and how that changes the rest of our lives,
but how we are to be Christ’s
Light for others. Everyone’s life can be changed. God
has a part in the creating the new creation for each of us.
we celebrate, even outright dance, the rest of our lives in Christ’s
we can, if we choose, and not just because Jesus is for us, but
because Jesus sends us to share that light with all people,
especially those in desperate need around the world.
Spirit helps us celebrate life with the most difficult people in our
lives, whether its a grouchy neighbour, a mean person we have to
relate to again and again, a nice but nosy relative, a recalcitrant
spouse, or a self-destructive friend.
we can celebrate and dance through the challenges that come our way,
because the Holy Spirit inspires and guides us to understand more and
more fully what it means that Jesus lived, taught, healed, suffered,
died and is resurrected back to life!
For we can, no matter our past or future, live well.
For we can, no matter our past or future, bring life abundant to all
wondrous morning we remember God’s victorious response to death’s
three day claim on Jesus. We remember Jesus’ resurrection. And we
hope for God’s resurrection response to all claims evil has on us
and on all people.
this profound hope we proclaim together three times:
Christ is Risen!
is risen indeed!
The Darkness Before
past Holy Week we
have remembered Jesus’ story, from his
triumphant procession into Jerusalem, to
his last meal with his disciples as he gave us the New Covenant,
his arrest, his disciples deserting him, and
the questioning, … to the
crowds scapegoating and condemning him,
his flogging, and Peter’s
denials, … to the
and torturing him.
we remembered how Jesus died sooner than
expected, nailed to a cross … abandoned
even by God. His
followers scattered and hiding,
filled with fear for their lives.
remembered how they buried him
in a rock tomb.
the darkness, portrayed in the last week of Jesus’ life on earth,
is so deep, embracing everything, and so unbearably deadly, the next
part of Jesus’ story is so much more than we can ever expect or
comprehend, yet alone completely remember.
time we encounter it, we see how much more Jesus’ story is. The
Light of Christ outshines such depths of darkness that we are
dumbfounded, astounded and awestruck, …
not just step in to defeat the death of Jesus. After all Jesus is not
the first to come back from the dead. Lazarus steps out of his tomb
with grave clothes still covering him. Jesus calls out Talitha cumi,
and the young girl walks away from her death bed.
Jesus story is more than one resurrection
story is more than one more resurrection. With Jesus’ resurrection
it’s all evil, all death defeated.
story is not just standing at home plate and hitting a home run out
of the stadium. It’s standing at the plate, in the bottom of the
thirteenth inning, with a full count, down three runs, bases loaded,
with all your pitchers used up. You’ve
been put up there to bat in
desperation by the manager. You are
mostly recovered from a chemotherapy treatment three days ago and
from surgery on
your left shoulder last month. You’re no
spring chicken at 65 years old. You will
never be here again, ever, even if you beat cancer. There’s
is no way you should be here. You just came back to
visit the team on the bench.
you hit a home run to the utter astonishment
of everyone and
to the great benefit
of a home city desperate for a team that would
what Jesus has taught us, just as Jesus taught his first disciples.
story. It is also
our story, or rather we each have a variation of that as our own
time we listen carefully we will be astounded and amazed at how God
acts out God’s will with love and forgiveness, Grace and mercy,
sacrifice and humility for us, and for all people, even our enemies.
what’s next for us?
easy to come to Easter worship, to be astounded by Jesus’ story and
to bask in the music and words and movements of our celebration of
life in the worship service and at breakfast. It’s easier yet to
then once again walk back out into the world that keeps us occupied,
forgetting what amazing things we’ve heard and seen. Who would
believe us anyway if we told them someone came back from the dead to
share God’s Word with us?
Isaiah’s New Heavens and New Earth
OT lesson from Isaiah for this morning, Isaiah speaks God’s words
of promise to the exiles in Babylon. They’ve lost everything and
been carted thousands of miles from home to be servants in a foreign
land ruled by some not so nice people. They are not only servants,
but they have years ago forgotten so much.
God creates new
Word comes, not to fix things up, but to create a new heaven and a
new earth. God’s words create, just as at the beginning of time. In
the new creation we will no longer be God’s wayward people. Instead
we will get to remain at home, cry to the Lord in joy and be a
delight to God.
It is a
Shalom vision of the Kingdom of God: there will be no weeping, no
cries of distress.
New creation ends all suffering and need
this world of Shalom,
of God’s Peace, there is no homelessness,
no hunger, no
climate-change-displaced refugees. There
are no untimely deaths, no
stolen lunches or unrewarded labour.
dog-eat-dog order of the food chain will end. Predators and prey will
live together in peace.
God’s new work in Jesus even more: perfect
vision in Isaiah is nothing compared to God’s work made clear in
Jesus’ story that we have reflected upon this Lent and Holy Week.
all things in God’s new creation will be re-created perfect.
have only a foretaste of this new creation, a promise made in Jesus’
Gospel emphasizes that Jesus came
to heal people, and with his death and resurrection to heal all
humans we often need healing. We often seek help and sometimes
what ails us is dealt with. Even less
frequently we even see that we are cured.
When it comes to the wholeness of creation
and our spirits we seem to be lost.
brokenness of creation is more than we imagine. Our brokenness is
more than we can imagine. The healing we need is so much more than we
Healing, more than duct tape
used to be that a good farmer
could fix anything except the economy with
bailing wire and pliers.
Now days we use duct tape and plastic ties.
works out just fine until your life depends on the repair.
like carabiners. There are so many kinds available today. I can get
two for $1.25. And they work as key chains just fine. Until they do
not, and my keys went missing because the cheap, carabiner I hung my
keys on did not stay closed. Whoosh, click or slip and the key was
goners. So now I use duct tape to hold the carabiner closed.
The fix when our lives depend on it
works just fine. But it would not be the fix needed if I were
mountain climbing and hanging all my weight plus the stress of the
wind blowing against me on that carabiner, tied by a rope into the
kind of a carabiner cannot be a two-for-$1.25 purchase. For all the
things we might be pleased to repair with
duct tape and plastic ties, God asks so much more of us when
it comes to our part in the new creation.
go through life, expecting that God just uses duct tape and plastic
ties to heal creation, we miss out on the marvellous mystery, the
eye-popping wonder, and the awe-filled power God uses to create a new
heaven and earth for us, in us, and among us.
After Jesus’ resurrection, God sends us out to share the good news, to voice the prayers of compassion with those who suffer, and to be the hands of Christ that deliver the new creation to all people.
When we listen carefully, do diligently, remember remarkably, we will hear and see Jesus working in ways we hardly understand at first. We will be floored by the amazing tales Jesus has in mind for us to hear and even see for ourselves.
We ask that the Holy Spirit will help us watch carefully, listen intently, and pray fervently, that God’s new creation may come among also us. But most of all we ask that the Holy Spirit help us as we get ready to be bowled over. It not a small fix or even a big fix with duct tape. God creates a new world, a new universe, and even a new you and new me.
the Holy Spirit to help us through it.
not, the Holy Spirit will put us up to bat, with the bases load, in
the bottom of the ninth, with the team needing us to hit a home run,
and the world needing it even more.
deeply and slowly. Keep your eye on the ball. Don’t forget ….
that’s just the start of God’s new creation.
about to use each of us in ways we could not dream of.
What was once alive, once green, once bright, is now in these days dead, withered and dark.
only a faint hint of days long distant in the most recent of times.
it to succeed
leave a legacy?
overrun others, destroying them with lies, in order to have more, in
order to cover up one’s sins?
suffer rumours and lies that destroy one’s reputation and finances
leaving one homeless?
This day, Jesus answered God’s call to submit himself to death, a torturous death, and to die.
Jesus succeed? Did Jesus destroy others, or did he allow others to
try to destroy him, and respond with grace and forgiveness?
of the world knew Grace and lived it well, more people would succeed
bringing the basics of life to others with their sacrifices.
world may seem dark, especially in these days when we remember that
God died, and remained so, for three days.
only the reflection in our memories of the light that has guided our
paths. But there will be a great light, that will shine in every
darkness, and bring justice, restitution, and new life to those who
are destroyed by others lies.
those who have destroyed with lies … may God have mercy on them.
morning we remember Jesus’ last hours, as the soldiers, by Pilate’s
orders, in response to the crowd’s demands, hung Jesus on the worst
instrument of torture, the cross.
the many characters in Jesus’ last hours. Judas, the soldiers, the
High Priests Annas and Caiaphas, Pilate, Malchus, Peter, the crowd,
Jesus’ Mother Mary, her sister Mary of Clopas, Mary Magdalene,
Joseph of Arimathea, Nicodemus, and of course Jesus.
of us were present in that horrific drama more than 2000 years ago.
Yet we are characters in so many terrible dramas that have taken
place in our own life times, dramas that are devastatingly so
French Historian and Anthropological Philosopher Rene Girard
identified the similarity that ties Jesus’ last days with our all
too common dramas as a common human sin, scapegoating. Girard pointed
out that we all greedily strive to have more than just the
necessities of life. Thinking that life is a zero sum project (that
there is not enough for everyone) we try to take from others so that
we will have more. That’s greed. And greed eats at our souls.
nearly always happens next is worse. Since we cannot tolerate that we
would be mutually so terrible to those close to us, we together find
an innocent bystander, someone vulnerable and uninvolved, someone who
we do not know well and therefore can bring ourselves to not care
what happens to them. Without any justification we project all our
collective sin and guilt onto that person, condemn them, judge them,
and ruin them. Working together we ease the unbearable conflict
Joseph’s brothers in the Old Testament getting rid of the evidence
of their horrendous sin against their own brother, we exile the
innocent person. We’ve attached our sins to that person and then
collectively forgotten about them and our sins, so that we can live
together in peace. The darkness hides that our peace is bought at the
price of an innocent bystander’s destruction.
exactly like the characters
exactly this manner Judas, the high priests, the crowds, Pilate, and
the soldiers condemn and kill Jesus. And we do this so often to other
people today. We may not use crosses to crucify, because we want to
be able to say we are not as bad as those who have gone before us.
Instead we use gossip, innuendo, and rumours to ruin innocent
people’s reputations, ruin them financially, and drive them from
when we are not Judas or soldiers or the crowd, or the high priests
or Pilate, we stand too often with the crowds watching as another
person’s reputation and finances are ruined. We watch and are too
afraid to interfere. We are even entertained and reassured as if to
say to ourselves, “all is well in the world if evil is uncovered in
others and they are made to pay. We, though, are good enough for
Clear story of God’s intent: the last scapegoat
truth Jesus came to be the last scapegoat, the last sacrifice needed
to set us all free from all sins, especially these terrible sins of
greed and scapegoating, of hiding from our own sins.
led Abraham to the mountain to sacrifice Isaac. But then God
interrupts the sacrifice providing a goat instead for the ritual. God
says: no more child sacrifice.
God led Jesus to the cross, as the last scapegoat ever needed, and to
give us Jesus’ life and death story so that we might learn more of
God’s intention for us, which includes: no more scapegoats.
forgives those who betray, arrest, judge and crucify him. God calls
us, instead of scapegoating innocent bystanders, to be that same
forgiveness for all people.
we are still in bondage to sin and unable to free ourselves, and we
continue to sacrifice others instead of ourselves.
are in the crowd again
we remember how we are just like that crowd again, as Jesus is raised
on the cross to die a torturous death.
We beg for
forgiveness … and time
ask for forgiveness. We hope we will learn to stop sacrificing
innocent people as scapegoats. We pray that God will intervene,
transform our sins into blessings, and make God’s will clear also
among us, in our words and through our actions.
so, we know we will continue to sin, so remembering Jesus’ story,
we beg God for mercy, and forgiveness, …
we remember Jesus’ last supper as he declared Gods’ New Covenant
with us by offering his body, the bread of life, and his blood, the
wine, to all people.
Covenant is handed down to us, starting with the disciples present at
Jesus’ last supper, to Paul, and through Paul to generations upon
generations. Each handed Jesus’ story on to the next so that this
Covenant of Life would be remembered and many lives could be lived in
response to it. Jesus uses an ordinary meal.
nothing quite like an ordinary meal that begins with a crisp, fresh,
green salad, with freshly squeezed lemon on top.
you’d like to add salad dressing, cheese, croutons, or tomatoes.
perhaps you’d actually prefer a lot of tomato sauce, all on one big
crouton with lots of cheese melted on top, with slices of pepperoni.
Okay maybe a big pizza instead of a salad.
an ordinary, nourishing meal.
Setting of the Last Supper
knows he and his disciples are at great risk in Jerusalem. For days
now he has taught in public and all has gone well. Jesus is ready for
what must come. They will betray, torture and kill him. He has not
given up, rather he has answered God’s call for him to suffer so
that all people will know about God’s forgiveness for them.
last night he gathers to celebrate the Passover with his disciples.
He makes sure that his disciples for generations to come will
remember him and thereby know God’s Grace. Jesus uses two very
common items of the meal, bread and wine, and instructs his disciples
to remember him every time they eat bread and drink wine. It may
sound like wine was a special component, but the water was not safe
to drink, so, if one could, one drank wine instead.
Each meal, Everyone
directed all of us to remember him each time we eat bread and drink
water or wine. The Church ritualized this meal and made it central in
worship so that it would not be forgotten. Still we’ve taken this
common meal, revered it, and reserved it for a special celebration
held sometimes at most once a month. At times we’ve limited who can
take part in the meal to just good people.
how we practice it, we do remember Jesus’ words, take it all
of you. Whenever you eat and drink, do this in remembrance of
of our common meals today include something to drink: a cup of coffee
or tea, or glass of water or even a good glass of fruit juice and
spritzer to whet one’s appetite.
Meal to Remember and Learn from
made the New Covenant at their Passover Supper so that his disciples
would take note. He gave us his words to ensure we would remember,
even if we would not practice, what his words tells us.
intends that we remember and discover again God’s purpose for each
of us. God gives us Jesus’ example to follow, giving up any
privilege we have, humbling ourselves to serve others, sacrificing of
ourselves so that all others will receive justice, freedom, food and
homes, and everything else they need for the abundant life God
intends for each of us. Jesus shows us how to forgive everyone
always, even as he dies on the cross.
us commonly have vegetables at our meal, green and dark coloured,
maybe a variety of cut vegetables with a creamy cheese sauce on top.
Common Food Items, With Great Effects
does something very uncommon at his last Passover. He washes the feet
of his disciples. It is a task for a servant. Today foot washing is
not part of meal preparation, since we do not walk everywhere on
dusty roads wearing sandals, and we do not recline to eat.
and drinking, though, will remain common as long as humans live,
ensuring that celebrating the Lord’s Supper may be common enough,
as long as Christians remember and hand on what has been handed on to
the generations remembering Jesus’ Last Supper has held many
families and churches together, kept many falsely incarcerated,
exiled and oppressed people alive when they could not gather for
worship. Along with our simple confession that Jesus is Lord, this
meal has helped preserve the faith in many places many many times in
history when all seeme lost. This meal of simple items has soothed
the anxious souls of countless Christians through the generations.
heart of our common meal comes down to some protein, perhaps a little
roast beef, pork ribs, or chicken. Maybe a fresh fish from the lake
via the grocery store, a handful of mixed nuts, or even eggs.
The New Covenant
heart of his last supper Jesus establishes God’s New Covenant with
us. God has made covenants with the people before.
the first was the covenant with Noah, when God promised never again
to wipe out creation with floods. It is marked by the rainbow in the
the greatest in the OT is God’s Covenant with Abraham. God promised
Abraham and Sarah descendants enough to make a great people and land
for security and stability. This covenant is marked by the Passover
meal recounting how God delivered our ancestors from slavery,
bringing them through the wilderness into the Promised Land.
Covenant in Jesus’ blood poured out for us is God’s most complete
communication of who God is, and how God relates to us with Grace and
forgiveness made possible through God’s own sacrifice.
off our common meal we’ll include a light fruit dish with coffee
hagen daaz ice cream. OK too uncommon and too expensive. So maybe a
slice of apple, cherry or pumpkin pie with a scoop of vanilla ice
cream on top, not a five quart scoop. Just one simple scoop as a bit
of a teaser, on top of a good meal, to help us remember the meal, for
hours to come.
grow hungry again the next day and start over feeding our bodies so
that we might live.
For Each and Every Christian
makes the New Covenant with each of us in our Baptisms with water and
Word. God renews this covenant with all of us at each meal.
offer each person Christ’s body and Christ’s blood, we say
Christ’s body given for you, and Christ’s blood shed for
gather as a community to share Jesus’ meal with everyone. Jesus’
gifts, though, are not just generally available. They are very
specifically for each of us, to heal the brokenness and suffering of
each one of us, to nourish our spirits and to give each of us
Tie the two together: our daily meals, Jesus’ Last Supper celebrated
are common meals to nourish our bodies. We hope and work so that
everyone has at least one of those each day. We humans also require
meals to sustain our spirits.
no challenge, no work of the devil, no grip of sin, no enemy’s
attack on us that is impossible for us to face, because we feed on
the body and blood of God’s own Son. God’s Spirit in and through
us is undefeatable, even by death.
this his last supper, Jesus goes out to pray in Gethsemane, until the
we continue our worship service with the next segment of God’s
story given to us through Jesus’ life, remembered and handed on to
us, so that we can hand it on to others, … so that all may
have life abundant.
wood stove, set up to provide heat in the severe -40°C winter worked
provided hot water for coffee in
and tea throughout
without it’s challenges as the stove pipe got so hot that it melted
the plastic tarps of
the shelter around the stove.
Week is our opportunity to remember and learn ever more from Jesus
story. Jesus’ story is a life full of communication from God to us,
in a way we can understand.
God tried to communicate to us with Word, creating a good creation. We messed it up, with trying to be smarter than we are and blaming others for the results. Kicked out of paradise we even became murderers, for a ‘good’ start.
God tried to communicate to us with the Law, we turned it into control of others.
tried to communicate to us with the prophets, and we thought they
were crazy, because they really were, trying to embody God’s Word
does that to humans.
rebuilt the damaged tarp sections, put in a heat shield and a remote
thermometer. Now gets as hot as 70°C without problems.
sent his Son, a full life story lived that we can learn. Jesus came
to live, teach, heal, and do remarkable things like calming the chaos
of the waters.
exists beyond time, matter, limits. Now Jesus has all the limits of a
human. Paul says it well: Jesus emptied himself of being other than
human, and became limited as a human.
real purpose of Jesus’ life was his death. That’s this week’s
one really listened at first, and those that did usually got it all
wrong. Listen to the parade as Jesus enters Jerusalem. They think
that Jesus is God’s way of giving them control again of Jerusalem,
maybe. That’s their hope.
harsh winter slowly gives way to cool spring temperatures, and the
2000° C inside the furnace became way too hot in the shelter. Always
the thermometer showed a max of 70°. It dawned finally on me that
the thermometer could read no hotter than 70°C but the actual
temperature could be much more!
the triumphant entry parade into Jerusalem, things go downhill fast
and hard. Jesus is betrayed, deserted, tried, denied, whipped,
condemned, mocked, tortured, abandoned, and murdered on a cross.
is no greater measure of suffering.
came to live and die exactly like this. Why?
came to make clear: God understands our suffering, even if our
measure seems to have an upper limit, God has no limits, God
understands us, our pain, our sin, our suffering, our death.
lived it to show us God’s intent for us.
Jesus dies, he forgives those that mock, torture and kill him.
is what God wants us to be to each other. Not sinners, destroyers,
scape-goaters, or mockers, torturers, murderers, or chaos makers, not
even people who cannot listen to others pain and suffering and not
know what to do.
know God knows our suffering.
our suffering we experience what others suffer. We know what we most
need when we suffer is forgiveness, love and not to be abandoned.
learn this so that we can give God’s gifts of forgiveness, love and
being present to others as they suffer.
came as Jesus to show us God’s goodness and love for us has no
limits. God’s forgiveness has no limits. We may not easily hear,
listen or understand, but we have Jesus story handed from generation
to generation. We can always learn more if we pay attention.
story is God’s new limitless thermometer by which we can measure
what really goes on in this world. There’s lots of heat. There’s
even more love, forgiveness, and compassion than we are ever capable
week, we remember, we listen as we can, we learn anew as we are able.
Jesus story we know and trust, no matter what we do, what we succeed
at or fail at, God understands our yearning, our chaos, our
always loves, forgives and is present with us …
lots of water spread across the low spots.
big, throny bushes, no green trees, and no crowds … in fact great
solitude and quiet.
settling in as a guest of the Queen,
chosen of my Lord,
shores of a small quite lake,
the oil company bought it all up,
means the Queen still has a small plot
shares, by law, with a few homeless,
quite a few wealthy land owners looking for
of nature: health and joy.
There’s also enough detritus left around that proves there are a number of irresponsible beer drinking, condom throwing, and garbage dumping foolish visitors.
So I took a bag with me on my walk around to collect some of the detritus. Lots more, like the condoms, still lay strewn on the ground, things that I needed more than just one bag to be able to pick up and haul out for other fools.
Why does the Queen receive such fools?
Why does the Creator tolerate such fools?
Perhaps because one fool is pretty much like another, and all are fools in one way or another.
My call is to be a fool for Christ, so there is that.
And I took a quiet walk around tonight before enjoying a quiet night, with only a couple parking for hours, depositing another condom and toilet paper to found on a quiet morning walk before the full light of dawn.
Solitude is precious as are a good night’s sleep and the clear light of truth.
119 starts: Happy are those whose
way is blameless
it be spectacular if we could change our hearts and follow all God’s
laws and be blameless for the rest of our lives. We would be
loving the Lord our God with all our heart,
mind and strength! Nothing
would defile us from within or from outside ourselves.
we confess that we are all sinful and unable to free ourselves.
Jesus, Paul, Augustine, Luther and many others have made it crystal
clear that no one can be entirely blameless. If anyone were able to
be blameless the whole course of human history would be changed.
What then can we do to change our hearts? Can we change our hearts of stone for healthy hearts filled with God’s Spirit?
1967, when Bernard Christian transplanted the first human heart, we
surgeons transplant our diseased hearts
with new hearts.
Heart transplant patients report it
is more than just a physical experience. Something more changes, as
another person’s heart gives them life. The other person has met an
untimely death. The transplant patient carries on with life, for
themselves and in a small yet noticeable way for the donor.
our meaning tonight for changing our hearts
is hardly physically accurate,
talking about changing the seat of our
emotions, the centre
of our wills, and
the motive behind our
thinking and doing.
off this is
a very complicated idea.
it is nearly out of the realm of human possibility.
We so often get it all wrong.
a well-heeled congregation decided to look
outside themselves and do something really
good for a poor neighbourhood nearby.
After carefully looking through the neighbourhood they found a
deserted chunk of land, filled with weeds, stones, and
decided it would make the perfect neighbourhood playground. They
bought the land, and
brought in topsoil, sod, and playground
equipment. Then they headed to the
the community to make use of it. The
community leaders said only a
very polite thank you.
wrong?” a congregation member blurted out.
said one of the community leaders, “we had plans for that land. We
had been saving money and applying for grants, gotten corporate
sponsors, and invested in getting drawings made up. We were on track
to break ground in 6 months. Our plans included a picnic area, a play
area, community gardens and even a basketball court on one end.
“Now we’ll have to let all that go and enjoy the playground.”
can try to fix the world with our privilege, power, and wealth. Or we
can use our ears to listen to those in need, our minds to discern
what the real issues are, and our hearts to empathize with their
plight so that how we act will actually meet the real needs of the
people we try to help.
There are things we can do to change our hearts, to change how we feel about another person, our situation in life, and the events that happen around us. While we cannot change our individual emotional responses to events, we can slowly, through diligent practice of habits, change the range of our emotions. We can over time move ourselves from a destructive, disengaged range of emotional responses, to a hope-filled, engaged range of emotional responses to the same kind of events. It takes lots of time, diligent work, and a motivation that only the Holy Spirit can maintain in us.
The first thing we can do is forgive others. We act as if the other has not sinned against us. We treat them special, even giving them gifts they really want. When we behave as if they were precious, they become precious to us again. In time we will realize, we have actually forgiven them.
with the help of the Holy Spirit can we truly change our hearts. We
need God to send people to help. Hearts change the course of our
lives, and the course of our communities, our churches, our
countries, and even the course of human history.
St. Augustine, perhaps the most influential of Christianity’s early thinkers, writers, preachers, and practitioners of faith, did not start out a Christian. Born of a Christian mother and a pagan father, he was denied baptism. He spent his youth as a Manichaean, and according to his own account lost himself in pleasures and wanton living. He was befriended by Ambrose, who he met since they both shared exceptional skills as orators. While Ambrose’s preaching was exceptional and his message was the Gospel of Jesus the Christ, it was Ambrose’s friendship that deeply affected Augustine’s heart and drew him to convert to Christianity. St. Augustine gave himself to the work of Christ on earth, ending his life serving as the Bishop of Hippo in north Africa, where he wrote and preached. Imperfect, rescued, and saved Augustine steered the course of Christianity to be the faith we recognize today. He also steered the Roman Empire towards Christianity.
there was one human, Jesus, who lived entirely
blameless before God, the whole of human history is
changed. Yours and mine, and each of our lives are inexorably changed
toward God, toward life, and toward giving everything we have and are
in order that others may know God’s Grace as well. Augustine was
one piece of this course of history.
hearts inform and equip us to turn our lives in new directions. As
the Holy Spirit moves our hearts to love the Lord with all our
hearts, minds, and strength, then we focus on faith, ideas, words,
and actions which can affect others’ hearts with the same Grace
that saves us each day.
trust that God is always with us. We can be blameless and joyful
therefore, not because we are perfect,
but because Jesus steps in for us and we are reckoned to have Jesus’
blameless track record.
is something spectacular to being the donor of Christ’s heart to
those in need. It is to give to another the
seat of our will
and passion, the centre
of our life,
and to give our hearts
to another in order that
they may live, and that living
they may have life abundant.
a heart. Have a change of heart. Because the Holy Spirit helps us
surrender our hearts to the will, passion, and purpose of Jesus
Christ, therefore we live, heart and all, as God calls and equips us
live as never before. We live the fast that is acceptable to God, the
fast that through our sacrifice others receive justice, freedom,
food, and homes.