Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 18

Sunday, October 18, 2020

trees across the meadow January
trees across the meadow April
trees across the meadow June
trees across the meadow October

Ritual,

Taking the same shot, nearly everyday.

Until the poor, bright light

seems refreshingly clear.

Boring or revealing

of nature,

of self!?

or of God’s Grace?

1 Samuel 15:22

Samuel said, ‘Has the Lord as great delight in burnt-offerings and sacrifices, as in obedience to the voice of the Lord? Surely, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams.

Romans 16:19

For while your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, I want you to be wise in what is good, and guileless in what is evil.

Words of Grace For Today

It is common, too common, that we humans point to meaningless ritual that we keep, so as to divert attention from the truth of our sins as we try to ‘prove,’ or at least make the appearance to others, that we are ‘good’ people.

From powerful politicians fear mongering or even starting senseless wars to divert attention to their terrible politicking, to the abusive and neglectful mother who easily created lies about her husband to divert blame from herself to him, to even the youngest of children who point to their siblings or pets to lay blame for something bad anywhere. Just not on themselves.

Sacrifices on the altars started out as a meaningful observance of God’s right to all one had, and they became ways to keep up appearances for the rich, powerful and corrupt while they wreaked havoc on God’s good people, all in order to maintain their undeserved wealth, power, and fame.

Obedience to God’s Law was never taken seriously by such appearance keepers. So Samuel calls the people to be obedient to God’s Law.

Then playing out one’s obedience while breaking the spirit of it became the game the corrupt played with themselves, each other, and they thought with God.

God was not fooled, nor amused. God wept.

Paul encourages new Christians to not only be obedient to God’s Law, even it’s spirit, but to go much further. Paul calls them to become wise, to know beyond the letter and spirit of the Law. Paul calls them to know the Spirit of God (revealed to them by the Holy Spirit, and by Jesus’ example).

And not only to know, but to live accordingly, since the Spirit of God is not about anything if it is not about everything, including how one lives each moment, starting when one rises, and ending … well never ending!

What a life! To live according to God’s Spirit. Not that we can do it on our own at all, not at all. Instead the Holy Spirit transforms us and our thoughts, words and actions so that we live as God intended when God created us, forgave us, redeemed us, and made us holy people.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 26

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Sun and Lake Reflected Sun

God’s Light

Reflects in All Creation

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.

2 Timothy 4:16-17

At my first defence no one came to my support, but all deserted me. May it not be counted against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

Words of Grace For Today

Facing one’s sure end, due to enemies’ work against us though we are innocent, is about as dire as life gets.

To live,

To know God was with us,

To know God is with us,

To know God will always be with us,

To know that even if our enemies succeed in taking our life, we will live!

This is to know Grace.

And even under such threat, we live abundantly, blessed, breathing in the Spirit, and proclaiming the Good News of Jesus Christ, even for our enemies.

Just another day.

Tomorrow is another,

which will be filled

with

wonder and miracles and God’s presence revealing the marvels of the universe.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 18

Friday, September 18, 2020

Great Beauty

is always

Despite the weeds

and intrusions

Isaiah 61:8

For I the Lord love justice, I hate robbery and wrongdoing; I will faithfully give them their recompense, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.

1 Thessalonians 4:6

No one wrongs or exploits a brother or sister in this matter, because the Lord is an avenger in all these things, just as we have already told you beforehand and solemnly warned you.

Words of Grace For Today

Forgiveness is our manner of living with everyone.

For Jesus, the primary command for us and others is to love one another, even our enemies, to forgive 7 times 77.

Yet not all that Jesus is about is forgiveness, as we read today, Jesus is also the avenger of robbers and wrongdoers, and for those who wrong and exploit a brother or sister.

This is quite the thing, another side of Jesus’ Word for us.

Where are we supposed to go with this?

Are we supposed to love and forgive? Or are we suppose to let the sin and Evil of every day and person rot in our hearts as we wait for God to avenge the wrongs done to us?

What is this?

If one cannot walk on water, or trust God’s other miracles, there is no way we know what to do with these passages, God’s Word.

It is rather simple in the end.

Our life is all about loving one another and forgiving each other, and even our enemies.

Any avenging is left up to God.

We live forgiveness. We trust God.

Evil that comes our way is easier to forgive when we know that God will deal with what cannot be forgiven.

That’s how we celebrate all that God has done and continues to do for us.

Do not fear. God is with us.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 16

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Rewards

for a good day at the harvest:

a great, golden sunset!

Proverbs 3:9

Honour the Lord with your substance and with the first fruits of all your produce.

Luke 6:35

Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

Words of Grace For Today

The leaves have begun to turn, not colours wondrous, but brown spotted. This is not healthy I would think.

As the harvest is gathered, though I have no produce to gather in, we hear the call to honour God and God’s people by sharing, not the left overs, the trickle downs, but the first fruits of our produce and our substance!

Many people the world over have no produce to gather in. Food is grown in massive quantities by massive farm operations, processed and distributed in stores for sale for those who are so fortunate to live where and how food can be purchased.

So what first fruits do we share?

The brown spotted, diseased leaves of the trees struggling to stay alive against some unseen disease or environmental shift too swift for them to adapt to?

We may not have produce or even healthy plant life around us, but we do have substance. Each and every one of us has substance.

At harvest time, and at every time, God calls us to use our substance, our heritage and present being, our contribution to our lineage as God’s people, in order that:

We will love our enemies!

We will do good!

We will lend expecting not to be repaid!

We will imitate Jesus, being kind to both the wonderful people of God and to the ungrateful and wicked people, infested with Evil.

For by being kind and gracious, we imitate Jesus and share what he has given us, our lives. And more: we may indeed in our time bring others to hear, experience and trust what Jesus has done for us all. And even if not in this generation, we live the story that will be told for generations, of how Jesus calls us to give grace upon grace, so that in future generations others may hear, experience and trust what Jesus has done for us all.

The Harvest goes on to the end of time, and our contribution is only a tiny spot in a long line of hope driven love that will give life as a gift that keeps on giving … long after the leaves are all gone.

We give what we have received without merit: life abundant.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 15

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Were our ancestors Vikings or Voyagers?

That may be where our joy of canoeing comes from.

Genesis 12:4

So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

Galatians 3:7

You see, those who believe are the descendants of Abraham.

Words of Grace For Today

Ancestor stories are one’s identity. Who are we in this time and place starts with who are we descended from. It hardly stops there, though one’s ancestry often reveals more than the obvious, like what hereditary diseases are you susceptible to and what precautions can you take or preparations if precautions are of little help. Like what values have you been surrounded with as you grow/grew up. Like why are you fascinated with a particular way of looking at the world (which may influence your profession or avocations.)

Is your hair orange, your eyes green? Is your hair black, your face oval? Are you short and stocky, tall and lean? Are you near sighted or far sighted? Do you have a ‘liver spot’ on your left hand between your wrist and your thumb? These are interesting though not too significant.

Most significant is your identity in relationship to the Creator of the universe. What heritage do you have, can you claim, do you trust and rely on? What faith have your ancestors handed on to you? Was it life giving for them? Is it life giving for you? Does it offer the best of life to those around you, or is it a selfish faith that destroys others around you or different than you?

Abram and Sarai are characters in our ancestors stories of our relationship with God. It is clear enough that while Abram and Sarai were historical people, real people, the stories that are told and the characters developed in those stories are most certainly a collection of stories that belong to a number of historical people. They are then a collection of our ancestors’ stories attributed to two individuals. That’s a marvellous way to collect stories about one’s ancestors, and it is done for us.

While we may or may not be from the actual blood lines of Abraham and Sarah, by faith we are ‘adopted’ by God into the family of their children, and made children of God. DNA testing is not relevant. Here if one views ancestry as both nature and nurture, we are included by virtue of nurture. That’s a marvellous thing as well. It’s like being made honorary member of an indigenous family by virtue of one’s participation in and contribution to the life of that family. Yet God makes us members of Abraham and Sarah’s family, and children of God, not by virtue of anything we do or are. It is all gift. Undeserved gift.

That is something most marvellous.

God includes us, though we are strangers, and though we are not worthy, nor have we inherited from anywhere something that makes us worthy. Pure gift.

So into what kind of family are we adopted?

Abram and Sarai’s story begins: at his ripe old age of 75 God calls Sarai and Abram to uproot themselves from everything that is home, and to venture out into God’s world, to a land unknown and foreign and a family that is not yet and will be long in starting.

No matter our age, God calls us to uproot ourselves from all that would hinder us from following Jesus’ Way. That Way is simple to describe: we follow Jesus’ example of sacrificial, unconditional love, giving everything, even our very lives, so that others may live and live abundantly. (That’s got next to nothing to do with material abundance, it’s life abundance!)

Covid 19 or not, Christians have always been the people who volunteered to stay and care for the sick and dying as others moved away from diseased areas and inexplicable widespread death.

Our ancestry is marvellous, and it challenges us to go places we have not imagined, to do things we hardly envisioned possible, and to share that astounding attitude of God towards us with everyone: that God loves us, unconditionally.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 14

Monday, September 14, 2020

Rocks

Rock on With the Wonders of Light

The Light of Christ

Isaiah 41: 14-16

Do not fear, you worm Jacob, you insect Israel! I will help you, says the Lord; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. 15 Now, I will make of you a threshing-sledge, sharp, new, and having teeth; you shall thresh the mountains and crush them, and you shall make the hills like chaff. You shall winnow them and the wind shall carry them away, and the tempest shall scatter them. Then you shall rejoice in the Lord; in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory.

Romans 5:11

More than that [i.e. having been reconciled, we will be saved by Christ’s life] we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Words of Grace For Today

Worm Jacob and Insect Israel, judging the mountains!

Jesus reconciling wretched sinners, so that we can boast of the mighty sacrificial love of God.

When we know our place, there is no joy in threshing, crushing, and scattering the mountains and our enemies.

There is only boasting in what God has done for us through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Who can give us life?

There is no life in judging others, especially not for what you have done yourself in order to make yourself appear better than you are. Worms and insects abound and do not make good judges.

Doch, to receive reconciliation, that is to receive as a gift that everything between us and God is made right, not by our own feeble and futile efforts, but by God’s own miraculous work through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Now that is a gift that keeps on giving every minute right into eternity.

Now every day, the simplest visions of light, colour and hope spread God’s glory before us to be seen, acknowledged and celebrated.

We may be mere worms and insects, doch through God’s own will and work we are made to be saints, bearers of God’s blessings of light and grace for all the world.

Shine Jesus shine, in us and through us.

Let Jesus wonders be scattered throughout the universe.

Let us remember the marvellous light of Christ, even on cloudy days when it rains, even when Covid 19 still runs rampant, aided by fools and deniers and ‘I’m done’rs’.

Because God has made everything right between us and God, the our lives are made right in every way. Challenges become opportunities to share God’s grace, in our mundane tasks and among our enemies that work to kill us.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 8

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Tilt!

Tilted Log,

Tilted Water,

Tilted World.

Not the end, like an arcade game, tilted, cheated.

God gives us all another chance to make it right, now.

Ezekiel 20:44

You shall know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake, not according to your evil ways or corrupt deeds, O house of Israel, says the Lord God.

Luke 6:35

Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked.

Words of Grace For Today

In a country, powerful and wealthy, rich in precious resources, a country known for it’s open spaces and opportunities … for those who had the power and wealth (at the expense of everyone else) … In this marvellous country those with power and wealth constructed history from fiction, leaving truth behind, leaving all human rights aside, as they dealt with those not of their kind.

Inexplicable deaths, inexplicable disappearances, people suddenly relocating far afield, and never anyone of the wealthy and powerful were held to account for how they killed, forced disappearances, and terrorized people until they, if they were quick enough, moved as far away as possible.

Police and Courts enabled this with arrests and convictions of innocent people for things that never happened. More often though it was the blind eye they turned to the deaths, disappearances and carloads of people moving away under cover of night, leaving their property and wealth to be assumed by the already powerful and wealthy.

With cries for justice for their own kind, raped, murdered, disappeared (horrendous as these atrocities are) the powerful and wealthy ignore that more than four times as many people not of their kind die of violence, physical and psychological leading to suicides unspeakable in number. Even more are maimed, disappeared, or forced to flea for their lives.

Leaders, from among those who used to rule, not so justly either, rise up. With protests for justice, peaceful in organization and perverted by agents of the wealthy and powerful into riots, these new leaders manage (despite the violence wrought amongst them by their enemies) peacefully gain the power, though they do not have the wealth. Two leaders among the new take primary positions.

Unlike the leaders of previous times, recent and far past, they follow Madiba and Tutu’s lead. Instead of assuming the same injustices against others and for themselves, they offer something new, forgiveness. Forgiveness for all the previous leaders of the once powerful and wealthy. To receive forgiveness and amnesty a person only needs to appear in public and tell the truth of what they have done, the whole truth.

In the new powerful previous leaders from among the women are welcome, even encouraged to work to build a just and fair country, so that regardless of gender or previous position, one is valued for what one can offer for the new country.

The new leaders have taken to heart, head and hands Jesus’ command to love even one’s enemies. They have understood well that we shall know that ‘I am’ is the Lord, when God deal with all people for God’s name’s sake, not according to our evil ways or corrupt deeds.

This country is our country, your country, the country of the present as it moves into some time of the future. This country is God’s Kingdom, here on earth.

Let all with ears, hear; with minds, listen; with hearts, wisely understand; with blessings, forgive. For God will come to judge … and shock us all with Grace … even today.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 3

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Red Sunset

Beauty

Like Joy, Kindness, and Forgiveness,

It’s always there for us.

Proverbs 12:25

Anxiety weighs down the human heart, but a good word cheers it up.

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Words of Grace For Today

The obvious is obvious. Anxiety is a weight on the human heart. Good words cheer the heart and lighten it.

Life is easier and more wonderful for those who are kind to one another, tender-hearted, and forgiving of one another.

We can only be kind, tender-hearted and forgiving because God has first forgiven us.

The question is, can we simply choose to be cheery with good words, instead of anxious? Can we be kind, tender-hearted, and forgiving by simply choosing to so be?

Were it so simple.

Like wishing that the rain would come in time of drought, or cease in time of flood, our wishing can hardly change reality.

Except, forgiving others and accepting forgiveness from them, certainly does change our lives, and for the better. Forgiving is something we can choose to do. It is not a mysterious thing to do. We simply give the person we are forgiving all treatment and response just as before the offence. Then we simply give that person a gift, something the person actually desires. Giving changes our heart, and our minds, and we become the one who has forgiven.

Not a mystery at all.

It is a thing we can do: to choose to do the things of forgiveness.

There is so much that we allow to get in the way.

Of course when we do not forgive, then our hearts harden and hate festers and we destroy more than the sin that we are offended by.

The devil does easily run amok in us, if we do not actively choose to be forgivers.

That choice though is still impossible for us, unless we confess our own sins and accept God’s precious and expensive forgiveness for our sins.

When we have confessed our desperate need to be forgiven and God’s generosity in forgiving us, then forgiving others flows with ease from us.

It is then rather simple, if one is humble, and impossible if one is proud.

Which shall we be found to be this day?

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 2

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Tiny?

Small part of creation?

Are we like the bark, the reed, or one of the shells?

We are like a grain of sand

Psalm 148:3.5

Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars! Praise him, you highest heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for he commanded and they were created.

Revelation 4:11

You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honour and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.

Words of Grace For Today

I heard a repeat sermon, one of the joy of a city boy climbing a mountain with friends, and experiencing for the first time the wonders of creation.

Those of us who have lived outdoors more of our lives than in, who have engaged with creation for generation upon generation*, who have climbed mountains since we were able, having grown up with the likes of Mount Kilimanjaro and the Great Rift Valley as a common enough background for family vacations (actually they were visits to other missionary families in Tanganyika, before it’s independence and merger with Zanzibar to become Tanzania) have known in our bones that God’s creation is marvellous.

*It turns out that at my father’s 90th birthday celebration now a few years ago, a cousin included in her presentation that the men in our family have sought out the wilds of creation, mountains, forests, and lakes for as many generations as we can trace back our family roots in Sweden and Norway, across Minnesota, and into western Canada. We’ve got good Viking blood that draws us to engage with creation as part of our daily living. Grampa Sam moved to live on a lake in the woods in Northern Minnesota (actually central, but like Alberta it’s the perspective that is used as a reference, not the geographical reality.) My father bought a farm 10 miles out of town back when that was a 9 miles from any acreage, loved to farm when he came home from his medical practice, and took us into the woods for vacations most every year. One of my brothers and his son live in the wilds of Alaska, loving every minute of it. Uncle Sam worked for the telephone company, spending work and vacation time outdoors. He loved to hunt, fish, and camp. Retirement was a pickup truck with a camper on it, a fishing rod and rifle, Aunt June (who was also at home in the wilds), and a prayer of thanks. His sons, my cousins, have continued that tradition.

First time or a very familiar experience, one stands bolderdashed in wonder, when one stops to think about how God, with a Word, created such a wondrous creation. First time or a very familiar experience, one stands tiny and humbled by one’s place in that creation, as if an ant before a cedar tree 12 feet in diameter and more than 200 feet tall.

(If you, like that preacher, honestly have never encountered the wonders of creation in the wilds, take that opportunity if it comes your way; you will not be sorry, hopefully.)

To think that God even knows of us, or bothers with us in all that splendour. More that

How can we respond other than to thank God with praise and honour … and to honour creation with the best care we can manage … before we kill it.

Creator of heaven and earth + tiny creatures = awe, praise, and honour.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 4

Friday, September 4, 2020

Purple Majesty

Beauty

Even from Weeds Blossoms

Is possible to see

in God’s Kingdom

Numbers 6:24

The Lord bless you and keep you.

John 1:16

From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.

Words of Grace For Today

Breathe.

Drink.

Eat.

Work.

Love.

God has blessed us immensely, if we can do this.

God has blessed you immensely, if you can do these.

A person does not have to think they have committed any terrible sin to know they need God’s Grace just to make it through the day.

Everyone, in many ways, turns from God each day.

To breathe the Holy Spirit, to drink the living water, to eat the bread of life, to work in the Kingdom of God, and to be able to love unconditionally, first one needs be forgiven and redeemed, ransomed and rescued, blessed and kept safe from all Evil.

It is truth that many people live, constantly fighting their way free from God’s Grace, to insist, though their sins are many and destructive, that they need no Grace. These people are to be pitied, prayed for, and kept at a great distance as much as one can. When one needs must deal with them, then Grace upon Grace is required, for destruction follows in their wake, yet God’s Grace overflows from ours. To keep their destruction from overwhelming us, we needs must be the conduit of God’s Grace spilling over them.

It’s immensely difficult to face the corrupt destructive intent of an evil possessed person and not want that God would eradicate them from all existence. Yet ours is to be the conduit of God’s Grace. God brings God’s wrath in God’s own time.

Since from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace we pray for one another, the Lord bless you and keep you, safe from all Evil.