Facing Covid 19: Words of Grace – November 15

Sunday, November 15, 2020

The Wide View

of God’s Good Creation!

Gifts Fill Us All!

Micah 6:8

He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?

2 Timothy 2:22

Shun youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.

Words of Grace For Today

God created us good.

Youthful passions and all. The question is not if we have ‘youthful passions’ at any age (in old age, what an extraordinary gift to receive!) it is what we do with them (no matter our age), and with all the other gifts God gives us. In baptism we name the gifts of the Holy Spirit given to us: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord, the spirit of joy in your presence, both now and forever.

At the affirmation of baptism service we commit ourselves to living out these gifts, by promising:
to live among God’s faithful people,
to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper,
to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed,
to serve all people, following the example of Jesus,
and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.

So what are we to do with these gifts that bring us to these commitments?

We are, simply, to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God.

That precludes gaslighting others, bearing false witness, seeking (directly or indirectly) others’ death.

That precludes responding to misogyny with misandry.

That precludes accusing others of what you yourself has done.

That precludes [fill in a whole host of sins against God, God’s people, and God’s creation.]

I tell children I meet about town, in parting, with their parent(s) overhearing, ‘give your parents a little bit of trouble everyday. Most of us …’

Invariably the parent interjects here that they have no problem with that.

Then I continue, ‘most of us do not have any problem with the trouble part; it’s the little part that is a challenge!’

When we are humble, we recognize that we give God, God’s people, and God’s creation an overabundance of trouble everyday!

Loving kindness, we can laugh at ourselves, which immediately lessons much of the ‘trouble’ we give others and God.

Working for peace and justice for all people and all creation, we focus our energy on making good trouble the kind of trouble we mostly make.

Good Trouble is the kind that exposes injustice and evil, and offers in it’s place true peace.

Good Trouble is the kind that exposes the lies of people who, like Trump try to create reality out of fantasies that serve their selfish passions.

Good Trouble is the kind that takes an awful lot of ‘youthful passion’ for us to pull off.

Thank God for ‘youthful passions’ and the wisdom to know what to do with them!

Facing Covid 19 and Arrogance: Daily Words of Grace – November 12

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Sometimes bending low, we see more of our path ahead

in the woods

and in life.

Psalm 79:13

Then we your people, the flock of your pasture, will give thanks to you for ever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

Hebrews 13:15

Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.

Words of Grace For Today

Humble thanks and praise, these we have plenty cause to give to God. Not only for today, this day of -20⁰ and a bike ride home as it got colder and colder, for in the end all is well, all is well.

We have many things to give God thanks, in each generation, since the beginning of time, and for every future generation until there is no more time or a universe for us.

The thanks and praise we offer God is simple, and costly.

It is to give everything we are and have to respond to all other people as God has responded to us: with unconditional grace.

God has gathered us in, adopted us as children, and promised us life abundant. Life abundant is not one that overflows with comforts and luxuries, privileges and power, or ways and means. Life abundant is one that is lived fulfilling God’s purpose for us, which is to reflect God’s way with all people, to be Christ’s feet, hands, and voice for all people.

We confess our belief with words from our mouths, and it is affirmed by how we live. We do not live perfectly or better than others. We live for others.

It is like wearing a mask during this pandemic. One does it not for oneself, but for everyone else.

We do not live as God created us to be, so that we benefit, but that others benefit from God’s Grace.

That is simple and costly and priceless.

Like humbling oneself to give children affirming attention so that they understand they are valuable as people, we humble ourselves and give each person due attention and respect, so that all people understand that they are valuable as people, especially to God.

Trumpism, the manner of Gaslighting everyone to try to make some fiction become real, trying to get some advantage for oneself or ones own, has nothing to do with being in God’s flock. It is what destroys individuals, families, and countries. It is what threatens to sink the whole world into war.

From Nazis, to Stasi, to Trumpites, to those who bear false witness in courts, to those who defend their lies with more lies in daily life, and to lots and lots of others who work us woe: these are the way of the Devil.

When we humble ourselves and practice kindness, we start to see God’s way.

Kindness is at the root of due attention and respect; and clarity when one does something wrong.

Kindness, praise, and thanks: these fill our days with living beauty.

No pandemic, no -20⁰C weather, no gaslighting can change that.

God’s way is from generation to generation assured.

Facing Covid 19 and Evil: Daily Words of Grace – November 10

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

It’s an empty bird house.

God has a Home for Us All,

Each of Us, and

It’s Not an Empty Bird House.

Psalm 86:16

Turn to me and be gracious to me; give your strength to your servant; save the child of your serving-maid.

Philippians 4:19

My God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to God’s riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

Words of Grace For Today

There are so many things to ask God for.

There always have been so many things to ask God for.

There always will be so many things to ask God for.

Our pleas have filled the nights and days since we first imagined that God existed. From the comfort of our palatial homes, the likes of which Pharaohs, Caesars, Kings, and Queens could hardly dream, we plead with God for yet more.

In Palestine the church pleas for basic human rights, where a home is for most people a dream unattainable. Where refugee camps are the norm. Where violence and ensuing death is inevitable, it’s only a matter of when. Where clean water, nutritious food, adequate clothing and shelter, meaningful labour and the freedom to love and be loved unconditionally are all in short supply, if attainable at all.

God will fully satisfy every need of yours ….

This is blatantly not so, not today, not in all our yesterdays, and not for all our tomorrows.

God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to God’s riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

… ‘according to’ these are the modifying words that make this true, as part of God’s promise to provide for all God’s people.

God does not promise that everyone will receive the basic requirements of life, nor the recognition of their human rights. God promises to provide everything for us according to God’s riches in glory in Jesus Christ. Which means according to God’s Good News, that God loves us unconditionally, frees us from our sins so that we may live in grace and be that same grace for others.

God’s riches in glory in Jesus Christ are beyond our imaginations, and yet Jesus lived out them in his life, ministry of healing, welcoming all especially the outcast and sinners, and sacrificing himself so that the whole creation would be redeemed and re-newed, that is re-created pure and righteous and holy.

God does not come to save us from our trials. That happens rarely. God comes to save us in our trials, suffering with us, giving us God’s strength to endure and still be gracious, with ourselves and with others.

We may well wish others to evaporate from the face of the earth when they cause our suffering, and others’ suffering, especially when there seems to be no end or limit to the suffering. God prefers to save these enemies of ours, for they are also God’s creatures, just as we are.

Hang on then. Pray for everything we need. Hope for justice based on truth for all. Expect daily bread. Prepare for unending suffering.

We are all in this together, oppressor and oppressed, privileged and deprived, faithful and evil. Just as Covid 19 can get any of us, evil can take any of us under, and only God can save any of us.

God’s promise is that, through Jesus Christ, God saves us all, unconditionally.

Now we get to live out of that promise, bringing that promise to bear on the lives of everyone we encounter in anyway, every day.

What a life!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 9

Monday, November 9, 2020

See God Calls

Isaiah 65:1

I was ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am’, to a nation that did not call on my name.

Romans 3:28

For we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law.

Words of Grace For Today

Not only do we hold that a person is justified by faith apart from works prescribed by the law, but we believe that even that faith is not an act of a person, nor can it be. Faith is a gift created for us and given to us by God, and God alone. We do, say, think or believe nothing that contributes to this gift nor earns it in anyway.

We hold that we are justified only by Grace, which is God’s gift freely given to us.

How many times have we striven to reach God, with no success.

Our only hope is that God is ready to be sought out by those who did not ask, to be found by those who did not seek. Indeed God walks with us always, saying ‘Here I am, here I am’ to us even when we do not call out God’s name.

This is the mystery of life: that God gives everything even when we deserve nothing. God promises to give us life abundant, even when we expect and experience everything but life abundant. God’s promises are sure, most often hidden in plain site.

God calls out, from the beauty of nature, through the unconditional love of God’s children, with the voices of those most in need of the basics of life.

Time to trust those promises and answer God’s call to enact God’s will with all our hearts, mind and strength.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 6

Friday, November 6, 2020

Bow to the Creator!

All Creation bends to honour Christ,

The Light of the World.

It’s there for the seeing!

Isaiah 45:6-7

So that they may know, from the rising of the sun and from the west, that there is no one besides me; I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe; I the Lord do all these things.

2 Thessalonians 3:5

May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

Words of Grace For Today

The constant question that a thinking, self-aware, honest, and inquisitive mind asks is what are miracles?

Are they the power of God above all else, to form light and create darkness, or make weal and create woe, making God’s ultimate absolute power over reality known from the rising of the sun and from the west?

Or are miracles the power of God to transform hearts and minds so that we people actually do some good in our small lives?

The question is then also, do miracles happen, or are they just things of the past? Does God exist? or is God dead? or a figment of our imaginations? and are we creatures or mistakes or happenstance in an ever changing universe?

The answer depends much on what one wants in and from life. If one wants to play godlet over others, then God cannot exist or God is just an imagination used to control other people. This manner of living provides great rewards, if one can stomach the dissonance in one’s heart and mind and conscience.

If one wants to be what everyone says what they want; peace, love, happiness and true prosperity, or at least giving lip service to the idea, then one cannot greedily work to secure life and privilege and comfort for oneself. One needs be comfort, compassion, and breath for the most downtrodden, outcasts that the rest of the world would ignore.

One’s experience in life is determined by how we choose to live … at least until we notice God knocking at the door to our hearts, minds and strength … from the inside, asking us, begging us, to open up to the whole of creation.

That’s where true joy is hidden in plain site.

So where do you want to go today, tonight, tomorrow and each day and night thereafter? Into your own self created hell, or into God’s city and into the wilderness of miracles in every little mundane thing and event?

Wherever you choose, God walks with you, waiting for you to ask what you can do for God, carrying you when you cannot even walk, and reminding you of God’s love and Christ’s steadfastness.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – November 1

Sunday, November 1, 2020

One Track Free After Dusk

As the darkness falls over the land and water

the Light still shines for us.

No darkness can overcome Christ’s Light.

Psalm 18:28

It is you who light my lamp; the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.

Mark 10:51-52

Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘My teacher, let me see again.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your faith has made you well.’ Immediately he regained his sight and followed him on the way.

Words of Grace For Today

What do you want me to do?

Let me see again.

It is sight that Christ gives to us, to see in the darkness that encompasses us on all sides, and not just to see but in the full Light of Christ to see Truth, to know truth, and to speak Truth, no matter the threats of danger that brings upon us by evil’s minions.

Daylight Savings Time was replaced by Standard Time. and extra hour of night, made for a great night, and dark arrives earlier.

The dark ends with great light. The dark begins with great light. The dark is just as deep, and Standard Time does not make it darker, or longer. It gets longer this time of year regardless.

Like all of life, time now progresses, shorter time for the sun, longer time for the darkness, or for the moon to reflect the sun.

We also get to reflect the Light of the Son of God, with grace and unconditional love for everyone.

Truth is … always the key to life abundant.

Truth is … pretty dangerous for those who live by deceit.

Truth is … amazing

unless you’re hiding from it with all your heart, mind and strength.

A walk in the snow, in the clear air, above the cool water with ducks swimming, and the regular darkness of rest will come easy and long this night.

In the morning, we will rise, in the Light of Christ again.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 28

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Our Sun

The Light

The Light of Christ

The Light of Christ that is the Life of the Universe

God’s Son, Much Greater Than Our Sun

Psalm 18:32

God who girded me with strength, … made my way safe.

1 Corinthians 3:11

No one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.

Words of Grace For Today

Building a house is a tremendous experience. If one did not have to have the extremely fraught financial limits and stresses it would be more than tremendous, and that already while building, not first decades later – when the stress and pains and angst have subsided in one’s memory and the finished result, so well built, remains still to this day.

The challenge for one who has never built a house before is that from the first few steps to the last piece of trim nailed into place, every step builds on the previous one’s.

I brought the power into the middle of the building. The thing was I did not know that I could not do that above ground, in the building itself! So after the foundation was poured I had to dig the trench for the power cable from the pole, to the foundation – through the weeping tile rocks that I had to dig in after the foundation was poured, since I did not know about them either! All that was done with a backhoe.

Inside the foundation, whereas before the foundation was poured the trench could have been dug with the backhoe, now I got to dig in the hardpan clay a 20 foot 18″ deep trench by hand. When the cable was laid, on top crushed rock I put in by hand having hauled them in with a wheel barrow, along with the water line and a spare water line just in case, and an empty 4″ pipe in case I had forgot or had to redo something, then I got to fill in the trench by hand as well, first with crushed rock and then with clay, tamping it down so the eventual insulation under the cement floor with heating pipes in it would not heave if the ground there got wet or (God forbid) the ground there froze!

Then I got to redo the weeping tile and rocks above the trench outside.

Then we moved on to build the foam blocks to hole the rebar and concrete for the walls up to the rafters, and to pour the upper floor concrete to hold the in floor heating pipes. Solid, a great mass that a geothermal furnace kept warm in the coldest of times that stayed cool in the all but the longest hot days of summer. It all sat on the foundation we poured, that with only a 6 foot level was at most an inch out of absolute level, which was less than the foam blocks settled when the weight of the concrete was poured into them. The rafters were no more than a half inch out – but that was luck with the walls settling … and the skill of the one man who helped pour and finish the top of the upper wall.

Practical and easy to describe and see: everything in building needs be done in the right order. The foundation (not without disastrous cost) cannot be redone. Everything depends on what is done before, and everything depends on a solid foundation.

Christ as the foundation is as rock solid as God, and cannot be replaced.

On Christ the whole of creation, the entire universe (or multi-verse if that’s how we see it now) is built on Christ.

Why? How is that?

God designed us humans to run on self sacrifice and love, while we have the choice to be selfish, cruel and destructive to each other as well.

Christ, the embodiment of self-sacrificial, unconditional love, sits at the heart of everything in the universe. Try to rip that out and replace it with anything else and the whole universe would crumble.

It would be no different than the concrete walls of our home that would have cracked and crumbled if one tried to remove the foundation to lay in a new one!

I did not build with only my skill or knowledge. I had a friend, a wheel chair bound 83 year old builder and designer, who helped with the engineering and who made the construction plans for the house from my rough designs.

We live our lives, one day at a time, building a collection which is us.

Christ, unconditional, self-sacrificing love, is how we are designed to live.

But oh how we choose other, to our own pain, cost, and destruction … and we almost always take down a whole lot of other people with us.

And then Christ steps in, to forgive, redeem, and renew us for yet another day of living in God’s Grace!

A living, forgiving, life infusing foundation … God built well!

No freezing cold of hate, nor searing heat of evil and hell can disrupt God’s well designed and laid foundation.

Covid 19, nor the idiocies the pandemic exposes, nor corruption at the highest levels can disrupt God’s creation build on Christ the foundation of life.

Breathe easy, just not someone else’s contaminated air droplets or aerosol.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 26

Monday, October 26, 2020

Walking to Nowhere

Though Evil Leaves Us Isolated

God Comforts Us

and Promises Us a Home,

eternal …

starting already today on earth!

Isaiah 51:12

I, I am he who comforts you; why then are you afraid of a mere mortal who must die, a human being who fades like grass?

1 John 4:4

Little children, you are from God, and have conquered them; for the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.

Words of Grace For Today

Some days, there is so much work to do that one has little time for anything else, except to eat and sleep.

It is not fear of mere mortals, it is that one has a strong drive to survive and the courts are set on bringing me to my death, bullying me toward that end, with empty threats. But from nothing they have convicted me of crimes I have not committed, not even nearly. And for my good behaviour in court faced with a dirty, unethical, blood thirsty lawyer’s blatant lies I was declared a vexatious litigant.

One used to respect the courts, least I did. Not so much any more. I know that they lie and cheat, bully and threaten, and destroy and kill faster than others, for they are immune from criminal prosecution. One hopes the office of the Court can still be respected, but that decays pretty fast when those that fill that office treat their own office with such disrespect. The horrendous failings of the Courts needs to be addressed and corrected, soon, before the whole thing collapses on itself and we are left in a barbaric reality. It’s no video game, it’s gonners for most of everything we hold dear, just because those with power and authority corrupt and abuse their positions and the people they deal with.

So work, to the best of my ability I did. While the cold of fall set deep freeze in the air, into the ground and through the lake, so that it is partially frozen over.

God has conquered these evil people’s intentions and evil works. Fear is not how one need respond to corruption. Pity is more appropriate.

They and their evil and poisoned produce of theft and lies will fade like the grass. God’s grace and we, God’s saints, will survive, for yet another day on earth, and in eternity when our days on earth come to an end, long and full or cut short by evil it does not matter.

In Christ we have a home, even though our home is taken from us on this earth and we are left to live rough, managing as we can, with help from friends who are barely able.

Ahh, Grace and Kindness and true Friends: these are gifts from God that help us stand up to the evil that hounds us day and night, and to say with Christ: get behind me Satan.

Now, to breathe fresh air, enjoy the warmth of a fire, and the quiet of the wilderness night, from a warm down covered bed among the trees.

Life is still wondrous.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 19

Monday, October 19, 2020

Out there … Alone.

Whether it seems we stand alone, like the tree, or the ice house, where everyone passes us by, or turns far away from us,

God created us all,

and we are ALL in this together!

Psalm 146:7

Who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry? The Lord sets the prisoners free.

John 8:36

So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

Words of Grace For Today

Who executes justice for the oppressed, gives food to the hungry, and sets the prisoners free?

We should all do this each day!

Do we? Not many and not much! We leave this to God to do.

Who frees humans from their captivity, the real captivity that robs life from us, the captivity to sin (to turn away from God and try to make our way in life on our own, almost always at other people’s expense … so that people are oppressed by our efforts to get ahead in life, so that people go hungry while we are well fed and live in superfluous comfort, so that people are imprisoned for telling the truth as we lie in order to gain and retain our ill-gotten privileges and wealth!

Yes! Who executes justice, feeds the hungry and sets prisoners free when we are the oppressors, the one’s who take away food, and lie to have people imprisoned?

We leave it to God!

And God’s people step forward to undo the injustice, hunger, and falsely imprisonment that we cause … and ignore … or worse, celebrate, as if the one’s we’ve done these atrocities to are our enemies.

They are not. They are God’s people, on this sojourney in life with us.

Thanks be to God, God’s Son, Jesus the Christ, came to live, heal, forgive, die, and be resurrected that we might know God chooses to free us from our captivity to sin.

The Son frees us, and we are free indeed!

Free to be the one’s to bring true justice to the oppressed so no one need fear their neighbour or the authorities’ bullying, false arrests, and robbing of life; to feed the hungry so no one is hungry or without the basic necessities of life; and to set the prisoners free so that no one is falsely convicted or falsely imprisoned, and more …

so that all people will know that God’s Son has set us all free from captivity to sin … we can trust that God will bring out of us all the goodness that God created us and all of creation to be.

That’s such a fundamental revolution in the way people think, speak and write, and act that so many people resist this freedom.

And the injustice, hunger for daily bread, and false imprisonments continue and even increase.

It is no solution to turn on (and try to exterminate like the pests they are) the bullies, the oppressors, those who take, deprive others of, and hoard the daily food available in creation, and those who hold others in prison cells or poverty in a reserve or in a land distant and separate. Others will only replace those who are exterminated, and those who exterminated others simply become the oppressors.

God wants a victory for all, a double victory (as Martin Luther King Jr. called it), a victory where everyone is free. God does not delight in an evil person’s death. God delights in Jesus setting them free.

What else did we think God created all this universe, and us in it, for, but for us all to live, choose, love, and hope freely … all by Grace alone?

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.