Life of Spirit, OR …

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The Sun Sets …

Is it the end!

Or is it a wondrous beginning?

Isaiah 61:1-2

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn.

Matthew 5:4

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Words of Grace For Today

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me …

This is the best of all possibilities for us, that the Spirit of the Lord God be upon us.

This is not something for us, ourselves. This is for …

… the oppressed, the broken-hearted, the captives, the prisoners, and those who mourn.

Actually that is a partial list that stands in for those who need us, those who desperately need someone to give them aide, freedom, and/or hope. God sends us to bring God’s blessings to those whom God loves and wishes that, despite all that would rob life from them, they would have life and have it abundantly.

God sends us.

God sends us and blesses us to be able to comfort those who mourn, to proclaim good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners. That this is the day of the Lord.

Wonders and wonders.

The spirit of the Lord God is upon us … the Lord has anointed us

Nothing can be more marvellous for us.

The sun rises, the sun sets.

We can see creation falling apart all around us: the effects of sin and evil, corruption and deceit, and angst and despair.

OR

We can see the wonders of God acting all around us, bringing hope, comfort, liberty, release, and God’s time in all we encounter.

Which do you wish to live by?

Life Is Always God’s Miracle for Us

Monday, January 18, 2021

Creative We Can Be Manipulating Existence

Existence and Life We Cannot Create

Only God Creates Existence and Life

Nehemiah 9:6

And Ezra said: ‘You are the Lord, you alone; you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. To all of them you give life, and the host of heaven worships you.’

Romans 11:36

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory for ever. Amen.

Words of Grace For Today

There is much that we can create:

Paintings, sculptures, pottery, photography.

Dance, theatre, film.

Novels, short stories, poetry.

Our spirit flows from us as we create, and as others take in our creation they certainly can be inspired. The spirit flows.

As parents we are privileged and responsible and accountable for nurturing, guiding and inspiring our children to become healthy adults. Teachers, coaches, and pastors/rabbi/priests are privileged to assist and participate in nurturing children. Yet we do not inspire life into children, we merely help God’s given spirit grow.

We cannot, no matter how hard we try, inspire, on our own, our creations to breathe. God alone can bring what is not alive, to breathe and come to life, to dream and envision the possibilities of joy and hope.

God, on the other hand, creates in such great quantity and quality that we can only be awestruck. So much in the universe does not breathe, does not carry and share spirit. God also creates things that live, that breathe, that smile and dream.

God gives that to each of us!

We can only respond by being awestruck. We can only appropriately respond by worshipping God, our creator. All the goodness we enjoy comes from God. As we remember that we are God’s creatures owing God everything, life is as God created us to live it: life is life abundant.

As we share with others what God has given us, so that everyone enjoys life abundantly, we enjoy more and more what God intended for us to experience: grace and love.

Another great thing about creation is that that God’s creation is held together by grace and love.

That makes for a wonder filled day … each day!

There’s ‘Snow Time . . . . . . Like Now Time

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Just a little of the snow stuck

but it’s heavy

weighing done the branches.

Are we like that, weighed down, instead of enjoying life!

Psalm 95:2-3

Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

1 Timothy 6:14-16

He will bring about the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honour and eternal dominion. Amen.

Words of Grace For Today

Sometimes there is little time.

Still,

Give God thanks.

A foot and half plus of heavy snow fell. I had a full day, with little time to write.

Still there were many things to be thankful for, many more to laugh at, and some I just had to shake my head at. One over-arching thing keeps getting proven over and over: God has a sense of humour and keeps hoping for us … why else would we humans be left to do such ridiculously, humorously, crazy things that both fill the news and are apparent right in front of one’s eyes … too often done by the one who the eyes belong to!

Patch Adams had it right: the unexpected joyful thing gets people to notice a bit more of life, and life is wonderful. There is every reason to be “excessively happy.” So why not be that for as many people as you can?

God is everywhere watching, a Light that powers the universe, a Light so great we cannot behold it, so we need not wait. Here and now (in each moment of each day) is the right time and place to make a joyful noise to God!

Help! Help! Help! Finding our way in Covid times.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Path of Our Life,

When God Carries Us,

We Have So Much to be Thankful for

Psalm 119:37

Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; give me life in your ways.

Colossians 2:6-7

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Words of Grace For Today

Eldon worked hard, sought to save as many people as possible wasted money. Yet his life went off in all sorts of directions as he sought to find purpose, meaning, or some fulfillment in life. He chased things that some would call extras or luxuries, just to have something fill up his life. He avoid alcohol and drugs, yet his addiction to things of comfort, pleasure and status had him deep in it’s grasp.

Knowing little, but that his addiction was killing him, he sought any help he could. He even prayed, Lord save me from my addiction. Show me the way to life as you created us to live it. Show me what you have created me to be and do with this life, this life that is so empty.

Jane grew up in the church, was confirmed, participated in the youth group activities and studies. Bright as anyone she knew she went off the university, on to grad school, with full scholarships. She applied to study history for a Ph.D. at Yale and was given a fellowship. While she had always applied herself to study beyond each course, the course work being rather easy for her, she found the Ph.D. studies all encompassing and demanding, so that for the first time in her life she was afraid of failing. She worked long hours each day, through every weekend. Three years into the work she was grinding away at her thesis when it all came tumbling down on her.

She tried to study and could barely see letters on the page. She tried to remember what she’d just read and made notes about, and it would not come to her. She tried to sleep and she could barely sleep.

She went to the doctor, who did a full work up but everything tested fine. The doctor did confirm that Jane was unable to focus on anything. It was as if she’d become an idiot overnight, and it stuck. It was so frustrating. She went to a therapist, who was kind and knowledgeable, but there was no help to give Jane. Finally she took a two week trip back home. Walking her old home town high school paths, nothing seemed to bring her to be able to read and remember.

She went to see her pastor, who listened thoughtfully to everything Jane told her. Her pastor said she had no idea what was happening to Jane. She advised simple things, stop to breath, say morning prayers, sing her favourite hymns, go to confession, come and partake in the Eucharist.

Jane then confided in her pastor that she had stopped going to church when the work load for her doctorate because so demanding.

Her pastor pointed her to a verse from Colossians:

As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Her pastor pointed out that no matter what else was going on with her, Jane still had so much to be thankful for. She suggested keeping a daily journal of everything that she had and could be thankful for.

Jane started a Gratitude Journal, making entries each morning. Weeks later after returning to the university and her teaching duties (part of her fellowship) Jane realized she was less stressed about her studies, and she could sit and read and remember.

She dove back into her thesis work.

It was decades later when Jane crossed paths with Eldon, who was still praying for relief from his addiction as life meant nothing if he had not acquired something new that day.

Eldon could see how Jane was kind, thoughtful, and assured of herself, even as she took on some of the toughest challenges at the university where she was a full professor, shortly to take over as head of the history department. He asked how she managed to appear so … so … maybe it was that she looked so content.

She said she always found ten things to be thankful for each morning to enter into her Gratitude Journal. After that no matter what happened, she reminded herself all day long, that God was good to her. The rest was relatively easy, even if it was nearly impossible.

Today, remaining alert and consistently doing what is required to minimize the spread of Covid 19 after nearly a full year of it, may seem almost impossible. It need not, if we remember to always be thankful for all we receive from God.

God Promises, Amid Covid 19, to Heal Us at Our Core!

Friday, January 8, 2021

The Light

of Christ Will Reach Us, Save Us, Heal and Renew Us

Now what are we going to do to heal well?

What are we going to do with renewed health?

Psalm 62:7

On God rests my deliverance and my honour; my mighty rock, my refuge is in God.

Hebrews 12:12-13

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

Words of Grace For Today

Trump encourages his supporters to storm the Capitol to disrupt the democratic process of the Senate certifying the electoral college vote, giving Biden the presidency in 2 weeks and Trump the boot to face charges and lawsuits aplenty. It is Trump’s mess, his supporters’ mess, the whole country’s mess. Corruption has run rampant, and false news runs freely. This is the result: people who know there is corruption and who believe the false news about where and who is corrupt, so they support someone who is even more corrupt … and dangerous.

Fear is no way forward. It is what brings empires, dynasties, and families to their demise, while destroying so many as they fall.

It is all too easy to live, trusting one’s own cunning, strength, and position to ensure one’s own deliverance and the deliverance of one’s family and friends; or to blame oneself or others for one’s own and one’s family’s demise.

Surely there are enough enemies, if one has lived life with integrity, who will do one in.

The truth is, though, there is only one who can deliver us from all evil. This is our God, Creator, Redeemer, and Inspirer.

The pertinent pressing question for our living each day is, now that Jesus’ story affirms God’ Grace and Love for us, God’s adoption of us as children, God’s blessing us so that we can be a blessing to all people and all creation … the question is: what are we going to do!

There is not a one of us, having lived a few years with integrity and having endured the onslaught of enemies, who do not have the scars, the drooping hands, the weakened knees, and the staggered crooked gait to show for it. God promises are sure: God will heal us.

As we heal it is our task each day to raise our heads with gratitude, lift our hands to kind action, and lift other’s burdens to strengthen our knees. We need to practice walking straight, so that we will be well as God heals us.

Heal us God will, ready or not.

How then do we wish to be when we are healed: all lame and bent, or renewed with grace, kindness and love? It has less to do with our physical bodies, than with the shape of our hearts, thoughts and dreams.

What shape are you in today? What shape do you want to be when the sun sets, and night enfolds your ways and thoughts? What will you do this day, so that as God heals all that ails you, you will heal as a whole being, filled with grace, kindness and love?

Facing Covid – Seeking, Abiding – Being Found

Thursday, January 7, 2021

A Rose

In Winter

God Gives Every Reason

To be Filled with Gratitude

Our Wishes Become God’s Wishes For Us

Psalm 119:94

I am yours; save me, for I have sought your precepts.

John 15:7

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Words of Grace For Today

Ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you!

At first glance it looks like we get carte blanch requests; our every wish will be fulfilled!

That result flows from an equation that starts from life only as we might presume to know it, that everything about us is chosen and determined by ourselves or others working against us. In this setting God (supposedly) promises that our every wish can bring us fulfillment and life abundant.

That is not the start of the equation for God’s promise that all our wishes will be fulfilled.

The promise flows from blessed life as God created us to be alive: the ‘equation starts’ with a life of seeking to understand God’s Word, God’s precepts.

The ‘equation starts’ start with us abiding in Jesus, God’s Word of life.

That of course sounds like we need to earn our way into God’s favour and blessings.

Yet, we know very well that we cannot earn God’s favour and blessings, God promises us them first, as free gift.

Given God’s favour and blessings, we then can choose to respond with gratitude, and that is us abiding in God’s Word.

Full of gratitude, abiding in God’s Word, our wishes are not the same as when life is lived as if we or others determined everything about our lives.

Instead our wishes flow in line with God’s good will for us …

and then of course, all our wishes, being God’s wishes for us, will be done for us!

Wonders abound in so many ways.

11th Day of …

Monday, January 4, 2021

The Light (as a Child) is Here

To Guide Us

To Life

Life Abundant!

Deuteronomy 5:29

If only they had such a mind as this, to fear me and to keep all my commandments always, so that it might go well with them and with their children for ever!

Hebrews 13:9

Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them.

Words of Grace For Today

Religious regulations abound. They have since the beginning of time as poor humans try to force others to keep ‘good order’ in religious ways, so that others feel they control everything from life to death and everything in between.

Many regulations indeed start out as wise practices to help people stay physically healthy. For example the ancient regulations for not eating pork, back when it was very difficult to prepare it properly and it killed many people. Better safe than sorry. Today through many shifts of diseases in pigs and in humans and in practices for raising, slaughtering and preparing/cooking pork, pork is as safe as any other meat.

What used to be an advantage for beef has been lost with all the dangerous raising practices and slaughtering practices which have made safe preparation of beef as demanding as any other meat.

There are other regulations, which from ancient times have been recognized by multiple, distinct cultures as basic for the protection of life, for oneself and one’s community. We call them the ten commandments.

God and many people have sighed in despair about their people and our people: If only they had such a mind as this, to fear me and to keep all my commandments always, so that it might go well with them and with their children for ever!

We do not keep God’s commandments, not even the ones that help us live well. And it does not go well for us and for our children. Though we know that breaking even one commandment does others and eventually us great harm, we (each and every one of us) finds ourselves compelled to excuse ourselves from having to obey. We say to ourselves: this does not apply to me, not now, not concerning this.

Exactly that kind of thinking is what the commandments could help us avoid, vigorously! Yet, we give in to temptations. Sinners we are, every last one of us!

Thank God, Jesus comes to demonstrate so clearly that exactly from this sin, our sin, God chooses to forgive us, redeem us, renew us, and send us out to do the same for all other people.

Most of us seem to get what God does for us, but that last bit: doing for others what God has done for us seems so hard to get to!

Jesus put it simply and clearly adding to the ancient command to Love God: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and strength: Love your neighbour as yourself. Love your enemy.

Simple.

Now the doing. This is a good time to start! If not now, when?

8th Day of …

Friday, January 1, 2021

Looking to the Light

As Our Way Forward

Leviticus 19:11

You shall not steal; you shall not deal falsely; and you shall not lie to one another.

1 Peter 3:8-9

Finally, all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or abuse for abuse; but, on the contrary, repay with a blessing. It is for this that you were called—that you might inherit a blessing.

Words of Grace For Today

There is much that could be done which we know is wrong, and there is much we can do that is right. We pray for the wisdom to know the difference, and the courage to follow our hearts to know what is right. Most of all to forgive ourselves and all other people when what we do is not the best we could have done.

This New Year Day and the 364 days that follow, like all of the years and days before, is an opportunity for us to consider time past, time to come … and

most of all the time that is now, the present.

We take time to make promises to ourselves in the way of New Year Resolutions, which we know …

which we know from lots of experience

we WILL try to keep

and fail to do so

and we WILL try to forget what we know about ourselves,

so that we will be able to fool ourselves in the days ahead about the reality of our own weaknesses

in order that we can on our own make our way forward or pretend to make any progress in our lives on our own.

Happy New Year.

Make the best you can of everything, there is nothing that you can make perfect, yet in trying to make things better than they are, you just might completely miss what is most important: that we are at our best when we know we can at most be humble before God.

God gives us everything we need. So there is so much to do, and so much to be thankful for, and so much to do for others, so that they may live an abundant life.

What a life?

So what are we going to do this new day?

May it be blessed.

3rd Day of …

Sunday, December 27, 2020

What Do We See?

Birds: A Father and Child Carved from Snow?

The Wonders of Creation?

Or dirty creosote drippings from a dirty chimney burning junk wood?

Psalm 40:5

You have multiplied, O Lord my God, your wondrous deeds and your thoughts towards us; none can compare with you. Were I to proclaim and tell of them, they would be more than can be counted.

2 Peter 1:19

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Words of Grace For Today

We may think we can proclaim the great deeds of God, wondrous deeds and thoughts towards us. We can, sort of, proclaim God’s great deeds, though we rarely get the story to reflect the awesome Grace God begins, continues and ends with when God thinks of us.

God ensures the story of God’s Love and Mercy are told in every generation, and at least partially understood by every generation. The stories of God in every age shine like lamps in our dark places, bringing us hope, which is the fuel for life.

On this third day of Christmas, the 1st Sunday of Christmas, we traditionally have services of readings and carols. It provides a bit of recovery time for pastors and gives us time to sing Christmas carols and hymns that we did not on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

What though is Christmas for us, in truth?

A German tradition was discovered by a niece: a pickle is hung and hidden on the Christmas tree. Then the children come in and hunt for the pickle. The first one to find it receives a gift of special treats, chocolates or sweets.

The question by one of the uncles was whether the pickle was a real pickle, for then the smell of the pickle would easily give it away. But no, the pickle in question (now a daze) was a plastic pickle, which then a nephew produced for all to see. A fine plastic pickle with a string through one end to make hanging on the tree convenient.

The tree, is of course, environmentally ‘friendly’, a plastic and reusable tree with tinsel and lights already in place.

The ‘old time’ German tree was a tree out of the woods, a fresh pine or spruce tree. The lights were candles burning with real fire – so no old dried out trees would do. The decorations were of many kinds, none plastic, some wood, some metal, some ceramic (maybe), but more were natural like pine cones dipped in flour-water to look frosty, home-made jellied fruit and sweets, some soaked in rum and/or brandy. The pickle was real as well, and the prize was almost certainly home made sweets. The tree wafted the smell of it’s sap. The decorations filled the house with smells of sweet and delicious and special treats. The pickle’s smell was well concealed by the aroma of Christmas.

But what does this all have to do with Christ? With Christmas?

Nothing, other than it is how families for generations kept traditions about how they gathered and spent time, special time, with each other, playing games, inviting children into simple games of hide and seek, and all partaking of the ‘special’ time, eats, and drinks.

These ‘Christmas’ traditions are not bad or wrong. They simply are not about Christ.

So it is with most of what today we call Christmas, and which so many people during the restrictions of Covid 19 bemoan not being able to partake in.

On this 3rd day of the 12 days of Christmas, what have we done to celebrate God’s wondrous deeds and thoughts towards us? What have we done to keep the lamp shining in every dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in hearts? What have we done to tell with out thoughts, words and deeds the old, old story of Jesus and his Love … for all people?

Advent’s Last Days: Facing Everything!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

The Wonders

of Fishers Returned

And Light

Short but Marvellous

Psalm 3:6

I am not afraid of tens of thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

Mark 10:15

Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it.

Words of Grace For Today

Close to Christmas, and enemies have not relented.

And if you do not have enemies who have not relented, then perhaps you have not lived well and righteously, or courageously.

Still we like to say others cannot enter the Kingdom of God, for they are not humble like children before God.

This we say with our pride swelling, for definitely we are God’s favoured and God’s chosen and at least we are assured of great place in God’s Kingdom …

just like the disciples who argued who would be first in Jesus’ rule!

First are those who have nothing left, who like children are fully dependent on their parents, and on God, for their survival,

which is not going to be much longer on this earth

for the powers that be are quite willing to kill off those who stand righteously before them with truth and grace,

testaments to God’s Grace and Truth.

Like children then, let us take these final days to prepare for God to come, as a helpless child in our midst, as a human, suffering all we do in this hard, short and brutish life,

which by God’s blessings alone (not our material wealth or comforts or privilege) is blessed with challenges and meaningful labour, eternal and overfilled with wonders, and filled with kindnesses unending.