Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 20

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

When the Courts take everything ensuring your death, though you’ve done nothing wrong, the social contract disintegrates … further.

When Someone is peels away your protection from harm,

is it evil or good?

It is evil … and it is God’s blessing.

Ecclesiastes 7:14

On the day of prosperity be joyful, and on the day of adversity consider; God has made the one as well as the other, so that mortals may not find out anything that will come after them.

Romans 8:28

We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Words of Grace For Today

There are all sorts of explanations for why evil exists.

Prosperity is easy for humans to explain; we worked hard for our success and deserve the privilege and comforts afforded by our prosperity.

Adversity is also easy for humans to explain, as long as it is not their own adversity; they did not work hard but were lazy, or made mistakes because they were not smart, or were corrupt (like everyone else) and got caught, or took risks and had bad luck and were caught out … or … and on go the explanations.

Neither are right, necessarily nor primarily, nor are sufficiently correct to stand long on their own. The beginning of the real explanation for prosperity is that God blesses creation with some success. The beginning of the real explanation for adversity is that God blesses creation with some failure.

From there, why we and others enjoy prosperity or adversity, is a complicated mix of circumstances of time and environment and agency – a bit of our own, but mostly others’ agency.

Ecclesiastes’ explanation is interesting: God makes prosperity and adversity so that we do not know what will come in the future. That may well be. It teaches us that ONLY God can be trusted, not adversity (for example of our enemies) nor prosperity.

Paul in many and various ways points us to rely on God alone. Here he provides the reassurance that all things work for good … (which is blatantly not true, but he qualifies it with) for those who love God. Which is blatantly not true, for example all the martyrs through the generations, and all those Christians who have suffered at the cruel hands of others.

Paul is right though in a more profound sense: while the circumstances and suffering of our lives may not seem like they are worked out for good, ours or anyone else’s, God works in marvellous ways to bring blessings from evil. In the end God always will win, and therefore even when we suffer not, God will bring good out of it for us and for all others. In this way Paul is most certainly right. God works all things for good! for everyone.

Even our most evil, cruel enemies.

God is creator and always the victor. We are blessed to be God’s children, adopted by the sacrifice of Jesus.

There is a story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbours came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “May be,” the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbours exclaimed. “May be,” replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbours again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “May be,” answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbours congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “May be,” said the farmer.

We can answer with the farmer, “Maybe.” With Christ we can answer to both prosperity and adversity: “It is God’s blessings, no maybe about it.”

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 11

Sunday, October 11, 2020

See the Light of God

Reflected in the Lake

and in Us

Proverbs 20:12

The hearing ear and the seeing eye – the Lord has made them both.

Matthew 13:16

But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

Words of Grace For Today

Life!

What a wondrous thing we are given.

To participate in it fully, we see and hear, with eyes and ears given to us by God.

It’s blessed to be in this wondrous life, fully in it. To be able to hear and see God’s reality, even as the idiots spin some fake world, some fake history, some fake life ….

Seeing and hearing God’s reality despite so many lies about life is blessed.

And God gives life and sight and hearing to us.

So see! So hear!

And share the Word of God, that gives us breath, and love … and the ability to hope, and hoping we can imagine what is not yet …

and thus imagining, we can be Christ’s hands, feet, and voice for everyone to see and hear how God loves us unconditionally, all of us!

And seeing that, hearing that Word, it makes it possible for us to love others, all others, unconditionally.

What a wondrous life!

That’s everything for which we can give God thanks!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 10

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Water: Clouds and Lake (and Ice)

The Wonders of Creation

The Power that Created it

The Grace that Saves it

Psalm 33:9

For he spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.

Mark 4:39

He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.

Words of Grace For Today

God Creates with a Word.

Kings’, emperors’, and pharaohs’ power was such that they need only speak and others would make it happen for them! No one dared to disobey.

God speaks and the nothingness of the not-yet-universe becomes something, something firm, solid, and existing. That’s infinitely more power than the most powerful ruler.

The people of Jesus’ time saw the world much differently than we do today. A firmament, a dome and separator, stood in the sky. On our side of it the world existed. On the other side of it was the chaos of not-creation, the nothingness that God created the world out of. The chaos was, as best one could translate it in terms available today, anti-matter, or anti-existence.

The point of all that is that this same chaos-anti-matter-anti-creation came up in the oceans. The water, the deep, was the same thing that was beyond the firmament, which was clear because when the firmament leaked it rained. When one ventured forth on the sea, one was courageous indeed, for one came into contact with anti-creation.

When storms rose up on the sea, the anger of God or simply the chaos of not-creation rose up to consume everything in it’s way. The disciples in the boat with Jesus feared not only the storm that could wash them out of the boat and send it and them into the deep. The disciples feared the power of chaos, the power of not-creation, or antimatter that could swallow up them, their boat and who knew what all else. Anyone caught in a flood will have stories of this fear. It is part of our human DNA.

Jesus is not afraid!

Human that he is fully, he is also fully God. He proves it. He speaks and the chaos of anti-creation is stilled. He commands all of creation and all of not-creation.

Now that is someone we want on our side.

But that cannot and never does happen.

Instead God brings us on to God’s side, and Jesus pays the price to make that possible, and the Holy Spirit moves in and through us to get the work of God to come out of us, in spite of us remaining sinners. Wonders never cease with God working us for the goodness of creation.

Which is good, because Evil never ceases to flow from our sins destroying the goodness of life for us and those around us, and those that come after us for generations.

Next time you see it rain, or the waves rise from the water of a lake or ocean, imagine the truth that those before us knew: this is the chaos out of which God created, which can consume us back to not-creation.

Thanks be to God, the waves are down, the sky up, and the rain is sufficient but not too much. It’s a balance, that involves us as well, if we wish to cooperate with God’s good creation.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 8

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Driftwood, Tossed by Winds and Waves, As are We

Foggy Morning

Don’t Let a Little Fog

Keep You from Noticing and Participating in

The Beauty of Creation

Joshua 24:22

Then Joshua said to the people, ‘You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen the Lord, to serve him.’ And they said, ‘We are witnesses.’

Colossians 2:18

Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking.

Words of Grace For Today

You have chosen … and are witnesses against yourselves … to serve the Lord!

Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on practices of piety that are claimed to bring you a good relationship with God and salvation.

There are always challenges in life. Covid 19 is one serious one that everyone shares … and everyone suffers from everyone else’s stupidity in not being one who protects against it. It is the community maker or breaker kind of virus. We cannot as much protect ourselves as we can protect others. We must rely on others to protect us. One person cannot protect anyone or any group. The weakest, stupidest link in the chain causes the infection to spread. And many weak links allow the virus to spread like wildfire in a dry, tinder-laden forest.

Covid 19 protection demands of us practices, not unlike piety (for one has to be consistent, one might say ‘religious’, about keeping vigilant with these practices). These practices for other people’s protection must be engaged in to save us all.

While we each can and must do things to protect ourselves, they are not enough by themselves. We each require many other people to engage in the protection practices to keep us safe. We never know who it may be that we need to be consistent and diligent for us to be safe.

We are not in control of our own safety, our own ability to survive this pandemic. It is in other peoples’ hands.

We are less in control of our relationship with God. Anyone who claims we control our own salvation with our choices is an utter fool, trying to entice us down a path of human effort to become godlets for ourselves. Only God can save us from our sin. At most we can strive to respond, and hope that occasionally the Holy Spirit will pull from us the miracle of us actually doing something for God in this world!

We can choose to serve God. We can be witnesses against and for ourselves. It is good to so respond and choose and strive to serve God. As far as our relationship with God and our salvation go, it counts for next to nothing, because we never can be consistent in serving God alone! We continually break away from and work against God. We are, all our lives long, captive to sin. Only God can save us.

That said, God does save us, through the sacrifice of Jesus, the Christ. And by the power of the Holy Spirit God promises to pull out of us miracles, miracles that we, pitiful us, can actually do God’s will on this earth, at least occasionally.

Strive we must. Striving has it’s own rewards, not unlike hard exercise to provide the basics of life for ourselves, our loved ones, and for others, especially our enemies and the needy, the stranger, and the homeless.

It’s another day. Another night. Every day has its opportunities and beauty. Every night its beauty and rest for recovery. Hard work is before us. May the Holy Spirit use it to accomplish God’s will also among us!

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 7

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Everything, Everyone

will bow to the Light of God.

Ezekiel 18:23

Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, says the Lord God, and not rather that they should turn from their ways and live?

John 12:46

I have come as light into the world, so that everyone who believes in me should not remain in the darkness.

Words of Grace For Today

There is an immense amount of corruption and evil in the world, starting right here at home in Alberta.

It is easy to think someone needs to eradicate those responsible, somehow or other; to cut the legs right out from underneath them, to stop them from doing what they are doing; and for us to pray that God ends their evil by removing them from the face of the earth.

God works in different ways than eradicating evil. God rescues the person doing the evil, saves them from their own evil self, their own evil intention and corruption. That way there is no need for another evil death.

Instead there is a double victory: first that the evil stops being done to us. Second, that the person ceases to be evil.

That sounds terrific, though we humans tend to like revenge, so we hang on to the possibility that if the evil doing people do not repent, then perhaps God will remove them after all.

There are people who regularly are bullies, cruel bullies, who threaten other people’s lives as often as they can, and since they have, their whole live long, lied and cheated to get power they have lots of power to threaten and more, to kill other people … and not even be charged with murder.

God knows what they do.

God chooses to rescue them.

Most of us are not so evil. Our sins are run of the mill, which does not make us any better in God’s eyes, it’s just we do not commit crimes. If we are convicted of a crime it’s a false conviction. Some measures of the world would consider us really good, honest, trustworthy, and productive citizens. Still we sin against God. So from God’s perspective we are just as evil as those who falsely convict, bully, threaten, and kill people from their positions of power, safe from prosecution.

Thank God for God’s Grace, for we are all rescued from our sins.

It’s just we certainly wish the cruel bullies that kill us with immunity would be stopped, if not today, then already yesterday.

God can you help us with that? Please.

Jesus commands us to love our enemies, so we do.

Even as they actively seek to kill us with their threats, bullying and cruel exercise of their power.

God, save the children from learning from this that they also must lie and cheat to have enough power to be the ones who threaten, bully, and treat others cruelly, even killing them, in order to keep it from being done to them.

When we are lost in the darkness, God rescues us. This we trust. God’s Grace is what the Light of Christ brings us to be able to always see, for ourselves, for our loved ones, and even for our enemies. Threatening, bullying and being cruel to others, even to their death, has no part in us after Jesus rescues and brings us into the light.

What will you be this day? Are you one to teach children sacrificial love, even of one’s enemies, is the key to life as God’s creatures? Or do you teach children that cheating and lying are the only way to become one who threatens, bullies and kills others … all in order that it not be done to them. The price, of course for cheating and lying to get through life, is the terror of guilt that never stops. The price for living sacrificial love will inevitably and eventually be that one loses one’s life to save others.

Who are we? We are children of God!

Who are you?

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 5

Monday, October 5, 2020

Wind Blows, Wave Splash.

Do you have ears to hear?

Ezekiel 3:10

He said to me: Mortal, all my words that I shall speak to you, receive in your heart and hear with your ears.

Hebrews 2:1

Therefore we must pay greater attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it.

Words of Grace For Today

Our ears hear so much. The internet offers even more to hear than even 40 years ago we could imagine we could ever hear in one lifetime!

The question of our lives, over-filled with sounds and information is: What do we choose to listen to?

Music can inspire our hearts and minds to greater good … or evil.

Words can move us from complacency to action for good … or evil.

We must choose which is which, and which we wish to participate in with our ears, our minds, and our hearts.

Jesus gives us a commandment, to love the Lord our God with all our heart, mind and strength; and to love one another, especially our enemies.

Can we choose to listen to Jesus’ Word each day anew, with ears attentive, minds focused, and our hearts receptive? We can, by the Grace of God through the Holy Spirit empowering us; though on our own we certainly cannot, and when we think that we can on our own then we surely error in choosing to listen to and work for Evil.

The Word of Jesus provides us living water, daily bread, and all we need to move into the future, fully aware that we move from past to present as God’s children, blessed to be blessings to others.

A wonder reveals itself in us each day.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 2

Friday, October 2, 2020

Peach Sky

.

Blue Sky

.

Orange Sky

Peach, Blue, Orange

The Light of God

is in all colours

for all people

Isaiah 57:18

I have seen their ways, but I will heal them; I will lead them and repay them with comfort, creating for their mourners the fruit of the lips.

Mark 2:17

[Jesus] said to them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’

Words of Grace For Today

God sees the ways of the world. God sees our ways in the world. God knows we are hardly better than the people who were Noah’s neighbours.

There are no shortage of pieces of literature and film which propose or play out either the plan of a human to rid the earth of the destruction of humans by destroying most of the world’s human population, or nature’s rebellion against the human species that seems dead set on destroying the environment, which is necessary for our own survival.

On a global scale, and in every age, God sees our species destructive ways and promises to heal us, lead us, and repay our tragic behaviour with forgiveness and comfort for those of us who mourn.

Jesus, God’s Word embodied in a human life, came to call people to a new (old) way of being in creation: graciously forgiving sin and loving unconditionally everyone!

We often read ‘Jesus does not call the powerful, the wealthy, the famous.’

This is in part true. Jesus does not call those who have no need for Grace (or actually room for Grace, since every person needs Grace!) As a physician does not treat those who (think) they are well, but those who know they are sick, so Jesus calls those who know they and all creation need healing.

Healing is a loving balm, on any day, but especially at sunset, in the midst of Covid restrictions and precautions, and Gaslit into poverty, as firewood is collected for another night and day of being able to stay warm, as the peach sky fades to dark orange, Jesus promise to heal all that ails us carries the day into the dark of night, assured that a new day will rise tomorrow morning with the sun.

Do you hear Jesus calling you?

Do you know the Grace that God has for you, the comfort as you mourn, healing as you are ill, and hope when you despair?

All that troubles us, God takes from us and bears, yet again through the dark of night. God’s Light exposes, reveals, cleanses, and gives life. God’s light will shine again, in the morning.

‘When is it truly dark?’ asked the rabbi his students. They suggest, ‘when one cannot see the oak in the far field?’ ‘When one cannot see the whites in the eyes of a person approaching?’ When one cannot see colour or form against the forest of trees?’

The rabbi answers, ‘It is truly dark when a person approaches you and you cannot see them as creatures of God who reflect the Light of God.’

May it never be so dark for you, for us.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 30

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Leaves of Gold

Leave it all up to God

Psalm 116:10

I kept my faith, even when I said, ‘I am greatly afflicted’.

James 1:12

Blessed is anyone who endures temptation. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

Words of Grace For Today

Enduring temptation and keeping faith even during affliction; these things are ours to strive for in response to God’s Grace that gives us life, now and for eternity.

Here the half-faith concept of our relationship with God is presented: we do right then God rewards us with the crown of life. This is not faith based on Grace, or on Christ’ Cross.

This is like receiving an inheritance from one’s uncle who one did not know about. The inheritance comes at a time when financially one is about to sink into oblivion and likely death. It provides a better standard of living than one ever dreamed of.

Thereafter one lives striving to do the right things according to the dead uncle’s wishes, though one does not know exactly what they were since the will did not make any demands or requests. It just provided the inheritance.

One strives and tells everyone, including oneself, that since you have kept worthy of you uncles’ wishes, you have earned the inheritance, therefore you deserve it and need not share any of it with others.

We are the poor nephew, given the best inheritance. We are adopted as children of the living God, the creator of the universe.

Now, we are not clueless about God’s wishes for us. God calls us to imitate Jesus’ generous, unconditional, universal love for other people, especially our enemies, our neighbours and ourselves. Jesus lives a full life of sacrificial giving and healing others. We are empowered by the Holy Spirit to actually imitate Jesus. One our own it would be hopeless, but with the Holy Spirit giving us everything needed to imitate Jesus, we work the work of the saints.

What a life!

It is as beautiful as nature at the turning of the seasons, as gold carpets our paths and all our ways.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Sept 28

Monday, September 28, 2020

Golden Light

Precious, Long Awaited, Saviour

All Around With Us

Ecclesiastes 12:1

Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come, and the years draw near when you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.

John 1:45-46

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’

Words of Grace For Today

To find something precious is a wonderful thing.

To find someone whom you’ve waited a long time to find is a life changing marvellous thing.

To find the one promised to bring God’s Promises to fruition for all people since times of old is fabulous, and even out of this world.

Knowing whom one is looking for is a place to start, so that when it comes time that one may meander down the right back alley and find this precious, this long awaited, or this Saviour of creation one would even know what one has found.

It’s like panning for gold. It sure helps to know what gold looks like before one spends a few years panning through tons of rock and sand looking for paydirt.

It is best, when one is looking for something precious, someone long awaited, or for the Saviour of the universe, that one start when one is young, for learning what these things are requires a young person’s fortitude, strength and quickness. It’s awkward in old age, when arthritis sets in and everything hurts when one moves, to have to run quickly through the gamut of possibilities in order to know what is precious, awaited or able to save creation.

After one, in one’s youth, has diligently sought for what is precious, whom is to be long awaited, or who can actually save creation, it is in one’s old age, when most of life is already spent, that one realizes the simplest and most common things are precious, like smiles and kindness. It is then that one realizes that the long awaited person is one that has always been there with you, and waiting is not what counts, nor in the finding, but rather it is in sharing kindness with that one becomes the one who is precious.

In one’s old age it is then that one realizes that the one who has saved creation, for it has already been accomplished, could not ever be found. For this one has walked with you from the earliest days of your youth through each day even into one’s old age when time moves so fast and things take so long to accomplish.

The Saviour of the Universe is the Creator of the Universe, is God’s own Son, Jesus. We need never say, ‘Come and See,’ for God is already here to be seen, known and heard.

Open your eyes and God can be seen. Open your ears and God can be heard. Open your heart and you will know God has been and ever will be with you.

No one is alone, not even with Covid 19 self isolation, for God is with us.