Hammer and Fire of God

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Cleansing Fire, Hammer of God

Come, and Come Soon!

Jeremiah 23:29

Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?

Luke 12:49

I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!

Words of Grace For Today

In the dead-cold of winter (so mild before this week, but no longer at all mild at -36⁰C) a bit of fire is a welcome thing. Vented, directed, contained with plenty of snow at shovel length to put out anything that approaches too much fire, the heat of fire meets the bleeping cold air and provides a livable space.

Most people in homes enjoy the balance of fire against cold as a product of natural gas ignited in a furnace with the heat distributed to the rest of the home by electricity (either an air fan or a water pump.)

There are cautionary tales to be told or rather seen: the house that one day is an example of a grand house on a hill in the woods, and the next a scarred roof line behind an untouched facade, which on closer viewing displays the chimney standing on it’s own with the building around it on the side and back of what used to be a house, missing and what is visible is jagged and charred. A chimney fire it seems consumed a home, hopefully without loss of life. The 5th wheel RV appears setup along side the remains of the house for the remainder of the winter, spring and summer, with the dogs running outside as they usually had.

Fire.

Or

One sees on the news videos of thick smoke and vehicles making their collective and slow exit out of Fort McMurray as wildfires wipe out huge areas of the city.

Or

One sees the photos of a railroad accident fire that has burst and melted rail cars and rails themselves.

Or in a figurative understanding of fire:

From Mistakes – Despair, Inc. At https://despair.com/products/mistakes

It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others. Not every life can be a success, just like not every vessel can be seaworthy. But there’s no shame in being one spectacular shipwreck.

God’s Word is like all that, taking what is evil in the world, what is evil and sinful in us, and burning it up like chaff ….

Ah, what a fire that will be!

God’s Word always is a two edged sword, cutting away evil, also from us, among us, and from within each of us!

The Word of God cleanses with fire, and what a fire it is already in us!

The Word of God cuts away and burns away our sin and evil, and cleanses us, pure and righteous! By Grace we live through the cleansing fire.

God provides more than an RV replacement for a home. God provides us a home in the New Jerusalem, the City of God, the New Creation.

For some of us so connected to nature in our existence God provides that we need not move into a city; God provides a home in the wilds of nature’s wonders and beauty.

God’s cleansing fire that Jesus brings is destructive, powerful and wonderfully just. We pray it will be kindled soon among us. We pray the hammer of God will break apart Evil from within us and from among us, so that all will have homes, all will have food, all will have a good life, an abundant life!

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?

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?

5th Day of …

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

What’s your Christmas Tree Look Like

What’s your Christmas Look like

Malachi 4:2

For you who revere my name the sun of righteousness shall rise, with healing in its wings.

John 1:11-12

He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God,

Words of Grace For Today

During the Covid 19 restrictions that have disrupted and disappointed our Christmas celebrations (and other faith celebrations during this winter solstice time of year) we have opportunity to ask what is actually important for life, for these celebrations, for all of us, and for each of us. (I cannot speak for people of other faiths, but they could similarly ask about the traditions gathered around their celebrations as well.)

I’ve asked about pickles, and decorations on the tree; about the tree itself, and today ask about the date of 25 December. So some expert words:

Why Is Christmas Celebrated on December 25? by Sarah Pruitt, From History.com

Most Christians today probably can’t imagine Christmas on any other day than December 25, but it wasn’t always that way. In fact, for the first three centuries of Christianity’s existence, Jesus Christ’s birth wasn’t celebrated at all. The religion’s most significant holidays were Epiphany on January 6, which commemorated the arrival of the Magi after Jesus’ birth, and Easter, which celebrated Jesus’ resurrection. The first official mention of December 25 as a holiday honoring Jesus’ birthday appears in an early Roman calendar from 336 A.D.

But was Jesus really born on December 25 in the first place? Probably not. The Bible doesn’t mention his exact birthday, and the Nativity story contains conflicting clues. For instance, the presence of shepherds and their sheep suggest a spring birth. When church officials settled on December 25 at the end of the third century, they likely wanted the date to coincide with existing pagan festivals honoring Saturn (the Roman god of agriculture) and Mithra (the Persian god of light). That way, it became easier to convince Rome’s pagan subjects to accept Christianity as the empire’s official religion.

The celebration of Christmas spread throughout the Western world over the next several centuries, but many Christians continued to view Epiphany and Easter as more important. 

Some, including the Puritans of colonial New England, even banned its observance because they viewed its traditions—the offering of gifts and decorating trees, for example—as linked to paganism. In the early days of the United States, celebrating Christmas was considered a British custom and fell out of style following the American Revolution. It wasn’t until 1870 that Christmas became a federal holiday.

So our precious 25 December as Christmas was chosen by Rome to coincide with the winter solstice and the established celebrations of honoring Saturn … and Mithra …. That way, it was easier to convince Rome’s pagan subjects to accept Christianity as the empire’s official religion. All good and well, since the exact date of Christ’ birth was not agreed upon nor can it even today be well documented on any date.

The truth is, the celebration of Jesus’ birthday, the day God was born as fully human and still fully God, does not depend on the exact birth day being known or used.

Think about it. Is God limited by the date we celebrate Jesus’ birth. If God were, God would not really be God. Are we limited or compromised or perverted by celebrating Jesus’ birth on any specific day or are we even helped, augmented, or better for celebrating Jesus’ birth on any specific day? Hardly. If that were the case our faith would be so weak as to be useless.

What benefits do we gain by celebrating on 25 December? Well, we keep a tradition that has held for nearly 2000 years. We have reason to celebrate the most profound in breaking of God into our world at a time of year when it is (for those in the northern hemisphere – where the people lived who set the date) the darkest time of year, or at least nearly the shortest showing of sun. That’s a great symbol: the Word of God is born, to live as the Light of the World, to bring Light into every darkness.

All sorts of other-origin traditions become available to us.

Those traditions are the focus of our celebrations, our disappointments that we cannot maintain them this year of Covid 19 restrictions, and those disappointed traditions give us opportunity to rethink all our Christmas practices … hopefully to more greatly appreciate what we can do, and will be able to do in the future: celebrate Jesus’ birth and the gift that is to all of us, and to each of us: Life abundant.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – December 16

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

The Full Light of Day Was a No Show

Still The Light of Christ

Shines

Every Day,

though sometimes, like clouds,

we try to hide it.

Yet the Light is present in us,

just as at 100,000 feet

the sun is bright every day.

Psalm 77:15

With your strong arm you redeemed your people, the descendants of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

Colossians 1:26-27

The mystery [of God’s Word] has been hidden throughout the ages and generations but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Words of Grace For Today

Ah, God’s mighty arm working for us and the power of mysteries revealed to us chosen few …

These are clear evidence that even as God works the wonders of Grace through so many people, through so many generations, we humans still want to step up to control God, and claim God’s power for ourselves, and use it against our enemies.

Thankfully this is not, of course, not the only message that is contained in scripture, or there would be no Good News, no Word of God, and no Hope to share with the world.

There are occasions when God’s people record that God’s might has saved them from violent destruction by violent enemies. God lead Moses and the descendants of Jacob and Joseph with him by a pillar of cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night. They escaped through the Reed Sea, on dry land made possible by the wind blowing the waters back. When the Egyptian army pursuing them tried to follow the waters flooded back in, like a tide returning. The army was stopped. The people were free … to wander in the wilderness for 40 years!

God’s mighty arm parted the waters. Yes. Or God guided Moses to use a natural if rare phenomenon of the tide going out, combined with strong winds that laid bare a path across the Reed Sea where a natural ‘bridge’ lay beneath a shallow of water. The out going tide laid the land bare for only a short time before the returning tide driven by the same wind, or perhaps a shift of wind, flooded back over the ‘bridge’ with a great wall of water. Mighty arm of God, was it? Yes, of course … maybe.

Then remember that God does not delight in the death of evil doers, of the enemies of God’s people, but rather in their conversion and being saved.

As for the mystery of God revealed to a select few … this is the cry of a great many through history, who have used this ‘secret wisdom’ to elevate themselves to power over others. Sometimes it’s a small following. Sometimes it’s a great hoard that are subdued. Always the ‘secret’ is false.

God’s mysteries are, as Paul stated so well, that all people, Gentiles included, are saved by God’s Grace and Grace alone; not by the thoughts, words and deeds of any person. No person can be good enough to earn salvation for themselves or for others. We all sin, and sin good and well, enough to separate ourselves from God. The ‘mystery’ that Paul discovered and proclaimed (so it would not remain a mystery) is simple: Jesus came to save all people, because God so chooses out of love to do so!

God chooses. We are forgiven, healed, renewed, and equipped to be God’s Grace for others.

There really is no real mystery to it. But in a world filled with humans, all who want to sinfully claim God’s power for themselves and use it to gain advantage over others, this continually is ‘discovered’ again, as if it were a mystery to all. This is profound and repeated Semmelweis Reflex, ‘the propensity to reject new ideas if they challenge established ones — no matter how compelling the evidence is for the new ideas.’ (See the CBC Ideas radio article on hand washing and Dr. Semmelweis.)

This is not rejecting a new idea, it is rejecting an ancient idea, that rises as if new, which challenges the other ancient idea: that we must save ourselves by working our way to God through [fill in all the beliefs, words, ideas, deeds that have been claimed can save us.] These ‘special’ beliefs-deeds’ are almost always named as a control over people, sometimes with good intentions, often not. Even so they are always wrong headed and destructive as they lead people over the cliff of trying to save themselves, all in vain, as they forego life abundant freely offered by God.

Our work then is to continually renew God’s Word of Grace, for ourselves and for others; to tell the old, old story of Jesus and God’s love, evident since the beginning of time, most clearly told in Jesus life, ministry, healing and saving, and in his death and resurrection.

We give God thanks, that God’s ‘strong’ arm, is filled with Grace, and has saved us from ourselves, again and again and again, since the beginning of time, and will until the end of time.

Selah.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – December 10

Thursday, December 10, 2020

The Light Shines in the Darkness,

The Word becomes Flesh

All Grace and Truth Lives in Human Form

And we get to celebrate like never before!

Isaiah 40:5

Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.

John 1:14

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Words of Grace For Today

The Word became flesh and lived among us.

It is quite the image. God creates with a word: Let there be ….

That Word is a reality that creates out of void reality, out of chaos order, out of nothing breath and life.

Then that Word becomes flesh, becomes a human, born as any other with no shortcuts like becoming a fully formed human ready to preach hell fire and brimstone, or heal all that ails creation in an instant, or overthrow corrupt and cruel rulers and religious leaders, replacing them with righteous people.

No, the Word becomes flesh, grows in Mary’s womb like every other baby, and is born into poverty in an animal barn, like most of humanity (except maybe the animal barn. Perhaps more humans have been born in a dwelling of some sort than in an animal barn. Though generations ago we were all born in less comfortable circumstances than an animal barn.) Then this infant must be nursed, protected (on the run for this life as a refugee into Egypt), and study and learn about life as a human. There is no knowledge dump into the Word-become-flesh’s brain or consciousness.

The one difference that sets this human, Jesus, from the rest of humanity (besides that he is the Word, God, who created the universe) is that he is without sin. The accurate description is full of grace and truth. God’s identifiable qualities in this human are primarily grace and truth.

It would be easier in life if more people could be even somewhat full of grace and truth. I suppose it would be easier if the first person for each of us were the one with whom that started to be so!

I have a long list of people I wish that were true, starting with judges, RCMP, church people, and supposedly ‘honourable’ people. I suppose we all have such lists or so.

Hanging on to them is impossible, if one really wants to live. That is where GRACE comes in to play, with each of us in the first person. Grace is not only smooth and marvellous movement, like in a dance. It is the dance we do that carries us through each day as we encounter sin and evil, some of it so destructive that it is hard to contemplate. Best not to, but to continue to bless everyone, and those that are out to destroy us, with the blessing of the czar: may God bless the czar, and from us keep him very far!

Grace and Truth.

These are what we celebrate is born in poverty in an animal barn; now creation can see God’s Grace and Truth in the life of a human.

God’s works are full of mystery and wonder. This Christmas, with Covid 19, we can take Advent to prepare our hearts as we must rethink what Christmas really is all about, since lots of the trappings we’ve leaned on in the past are not possible.

What is essential for Christmas? That we wait, alert, preparing to meet again the Word, the Word that created the universe, the Word that lived among us, the Word the so loved the world that God came as one of us to save us all.

Christ is come – generations ago,

Christ is here – through every generation as the Holy Spirit, God walking with us,

Christ will come again – for every generation, to bring the perfection of ‘heaven’ to earth.

How are you going to celebrate the mass of Christ? The Christmas, which took over the pagan rights of light in the darkness, a yule log lit, of evergreen trees decorated with symbols of life and lit with candles, and the tradition of St. Nicholas, the Saint of Giving?

May it be more blessed this year. Thanks to Covid 19 challenging us to re-evaluate our lives and return to the roots of our celebrations.

This year more than ever we need a purposeful Advent to prepare … for something different and hopefully better.

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 – Sept 23

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Fall Arrives with Colours

in the Light.

There’s old stories in all that.

Isaiah 25:8

He will swallow up death for ever. Then the Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces, and the disgrace of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.

2 Corinthians 5:4

For while we are still in this tent, we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

Words of Grace For Today

In a word it’s done: God swallows up death, wipes our tears away, takes away our disgrace from earth!

While under this tent (the firmament, the sky) we groan burdened down. We wish not to be disgraced further by being stripped of everything of life. Rather we wish to be robed in Christ’s glorious robes, so that what is mortal, frail, and failing (sinful) in us will be swallowed by God’s Word, which gives us and all creatures and plants life, and indeed brought the universe to exist in its good order from nothing.

There is disgrace before other people, sometimes deserved, more often fabricated by others to destroy innocent people. This is difficult to bear, until one realizes that the fabricating of disgrace 1) has been going on since the first generation, 2) it does not constitute actual disgrace for us, but 3) it does constitute real disgrace for those who fabricate disgrace for us. Still this disgrace is a terrible burden to bear.

In the scheme of the universe created in good order disgrace before others (real or fabricated) is nothing compared to disgrace before God. Fabricating disgrace for others is only one way in which so many disgrace themselves before God. The Devil has his wiles in endless variety.

While disgraced before others we groan with the burdens of trying to survive each day. We seek relief in so many ways. So many require that we throw off life, what little we have left, and throw away all that is of value and joy in this mundane world. As if disconnecting ourselves from our bodies, from the grass, trees, and lakes and oceans, from other people whom we love and whom love us, and from other people who suffer like us and so much worse. Tossing away life given to us by our Creator cannot give us life. This is another wile of the Devil. It merely furthers our disgrace.

Disgrace seems to swallow up all of life, before others, and before God. Death pales in comparison and merely gives relief from disgrace.

God does not leave it to be so. God speaks a Word. With a Word (of might beyond our imagining) God removes our disgrace from all creation. God robes us in Christ’s glorious robes of unconditional love. Death is swallowed up by God’s giving us re-newed life, life in Christ’s name.

With a Word. God speaks and it is so.

Human masters can speak words and order others to make it so. God speaks and all of creation is so.

More power cannot be.

And this power clothes us in Christ’s righteousness, covering our sins, our disgrace, freeing us from disgrace fabricated by others, and we are able to engage fully in life, for ourselves and more. We are able to follow Christ, sacrificing all we are and have and can do in order that others will hear this Word of life.

Hallelujah!

This is the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Aug 26

Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Left Behind

Left Behind by Accident or as Sacrifice?

Christ reconciles us to God, no sacrifice required!

We have a blemish free record, no matter how many ‘gloves’ we’ve lost.

Isaiah 43:24-25

You have not bought me sweet cane with money, or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices. But you have burdened me with your sins; you have wearied me with your iniquities. I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.

Colossians 1:21-22

You who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him.

Words of Grace For Today

The sacrifices made to God have changed through the centuries and generations. Once we offered birds, animals, and before that other people, even children. We knew that, having done something wrong, having sinned, we owed God payment for our sins.

When we know we have sinned our minds recognize how estranged we’ve made ourselves from God. Knowing what we’ve done we become hostile to God as well.

We ‘dig our own grave’. Yet God does not leave us there.

No sacrifice by us is sufficient to pay for what we have done, and continue to do, and will do. God knew this, knows this. God sent Jesus, his Son, to sacrifice himself, the one last sacrifice needed to set things right between us and God, between all humans and God.

Nothing is needed on our part.

Now since God sets us right with God, holy and blameless … well the possibilities are astronomical, and wondrous.

Jesus calls us and the Holy Spirit equips us to be the voice, hands, and feet of Christ on earth, extending unconditional love to others, providing justice based on truth combined with mercy and wisdom, and blessing all people with more than just the basics of life. As the Holy Spirit equips us we can offer others abundant life. That may require sacrifice on our part, yet all we have is given to us, so it is not really ours to give up, it is ours to share with everyone.

Makes for a wondrous life for us, and for all people.