What was once alive, once green, once bright, is now in these days dead, withered and dark.
only a faint hint of days long distant in the most recent of times.
it to succeed
leave a legacy?
overrun others, destroying them with lies, in order to have more, in
order to cover up one’s sins?
suffer rumours and lies that destroy one’s reputation and finances
leaving one homeless?
This day, Jesus answered God’s call to submit himself to death, a torturous death, and to die.
Jesus succeed? Did Jesus destroy others, or did he allow others to
try to destroy him, and respond with grace and forgiveness?
of the world knew Grace and lived it well, more people would succeed
bringing the basics of life to others with their sacrifices.
world may seem dark, especially in these days when we remember that
God died, and remained so, for three days.
only the reflection in our memories of the light that has guided our
paths. But there will be a great light, that will shine in every
darkness, and bring justice, restitution, and new life to those who
are destroyed by others lies.
those who have destroyed with lies … may God have mercy on them.
As way of introductory words to explain Beale Street and ‘Justice’:
“Beale Street is a street in New Orleans, where my father, where Louis Armstrong and the jazz were born,” the quote reads in the opening shot of the movie. “Every black person born in America was born on Beale Street, born in the back neighborhood of some American city, whether in Jackson, Mississippi, or in Harlem, New York. Beale Street is our legacy. This novel deals with the impossibility and the possibility, the absolute necessity, to give expression to this legacy.
“Beale Street is a loud street. It is left to the reader to discern a meaning in the beating of the drums.” James Baldwin
The actual street named Beale Street is located in Memphis. But there is a Beale Street in every city, in every town, in every rural place where people live. While the book/movies is about the racial realities of black discrimination, the injustice of false convictions run rampant in many places against many minorities. In Canada jails are filed with aboriginal peoples. In Alberta and elsewhere the discrimination has turned from <against women falsely accused by their men and then easily convicted> to <men falsely accused by their women and easily convicted without any real proof>. As were men in decades past, these women are encouraged and free to lie even under oath in court, with the courts also freely lying even in decisions to absolve women of their lies and to falsely convict men of things they have never done, and of things that often their women have done to the men. Our courts are no more just than any, ever. Capital punishment is not a sentence given by the judges; it is a sentence worked out by inmates and guards, and by countless people in the communities -not least the RCMP and Police and workers in the ‘Justice’ system, who may or may not believe the lies and false convictions, and who then, regardless, rob reputation, labour opportunities, and health from these innocent not-criminals.
Since the beginning of time people have lied to get ahead, to destroy others who are in their way, or just for the sport of it.
But the truth is known by God, and all will stand before God’s throne to be judged. While Grace is our hope, our proclamation, and God’s promise; there is also the promise that the oppressor, the unrighteous, the destroyers of others will face their end in God’s Judgment. There will be no witnesses needed, no testimony – false or not. God already knows everything.
We trust that what God judges will be gracious. We trust that those who stand against the truth somehow will be brought to stop.
But God is the judge, not us. not any of us
So we leave Justice in God’s hands, because humans botch it so consistently …
and we proclaim grace
and real hope.
Now for the sermon proper:
Lenten Theme Isaiah 58 The acceptable fast brings justice, freedom, food and homes to those without Lessons for this Sunday: Joshua 5:9-12 2 Corinthians 5:16-21 Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Street Could Talk
wonders how the world would be if indeed the streets could speak of
the injustices that God’s people have suffered at the hands of
God’s people. If indeed the disgrace of God’s people would be
removed. If indeed the effects of all the sins of the people would be
“If Beale Street Could Talk” is a movie (adaptation of James Baldwin’s novel of the same title) about a young black man ruined by the in-justice system. A young white man has made unrelenting advances on his fiancée in a store. He stands up for her, drives the white thug off, but not before a dirty cop tries unsuccessfully to arrest the young black man. The dirty copy gets revenge. It is about the dirty justice system whose people make this wonderful, creative, loving young man into an incarcerated black. Everything about this young human being is reduced to one of many young black men jailed and beaten, though innocent.
old has passed away. Everything is made new.
This young man, a sculptor, a young father, makes things new out of chunks of wood. Until a dirty cop and a dirty justice system rob him of his everything, until they rob his family, his wife to be and their child, of everything. The dirty ones rob him by accusing him of a terrible, filthy, horrible rape. They disgrace him. They let him be beaten in jail. They terrorize him with delays upon delays and threats upon threats until he breaks and accepts a plea, a guilty plea of an innocent man, and he serves someone else’s time.
It’s quite the image that Joshua gives as the people gather to celebrate the Passover in the Promised Land: in the English we have God “rolls away” their disgrace. The German gives a hint that the Hebrew is more colourful: ‘Heute habe ich die Schande Ägyptens von euch abgewälzt.’. God ‘waltzes away’ the disgrace of the people. Generations ago they were saved but then enslaved, freed but then trapped in the wilderness … until today with Joshua, they stand in the land promised to Abraham, and they eat from the fruit of the land. No more wandering, no more manna. They have come home, and God welcomes them waltzing away in celebration their layers of slavery and disgrace.
waltzes away our disgrace, our sins, our slavery … and God sets us
For God made Jesus, who did not sin, to bear all the sins of all the people through time, precisely in order that you and I, in order that all of us, would not only be free. God set us free precisely in order that you and I and all of us would be made into the righteousness of God visible, embodied here and now on this earth.
Our freedom, our righteousness, in NO WAY is earned by our actions.
Either we are like the younger son, as we claim all sorts of rights and privileges, and all that is due us … and then we squander the precious things God has given us on the oldest vices available to humans who can choose. We can choose because God made us able to love. To love is to be able to choose to love, which means we must be able to choose not to love, which is to choose evil. So we either choose to squander God’s precious gifts to us …
like the older son as we serve God with great labours and
self-righteousness. We do not squander God’s love, but we
comprehend it completely not.
When God wants to celebrate God’s forgiveness, and a lost sinner’s return to life, we get self-righteously angry. We behave as if we somehow owned God’s will. As if we, with our obedience and labours, have earned all that we have, but even more so we own the right to judge other sinners. We’ve allowed ourselves to become so blind to the grace that daily gives us renewed breath. We want to be better than we are, and comparing ourselves to other’s whose sins are more known we think we are somehow good enough. Thus …
refuse to celebrate with God. We refuse to celebrate with God exactly
what we are created to be and do: we are created to proclaim and
celebrate that God is gracious, forgiving sins, dancing away
disgrace, and feeding us from the produce of the Promised Land.
the same old, same old that has hung around the necks and souls of
humans since the beginning of time.
Even though, all the time, each and every one of us is like either the younger or the elder son, and sometimes we are like both at the same time … Even so God promises us it is different in the Kingdom of God. It is different now, here and now, in the Kingdom of God. For the Kingdom of God is at hand.
the Kingdom of God, all confess that only by Grace do we breathe, or
drink, or eat, or work, or celebrate, or love, or hope.
By Grace all our sins, yours and mine and all of ours, are taken up in the person of Jesus Christ, and we are made into God’s righteousness.
not pretenders. God makes us not just good, not just sometimes good,
not better than others. God makes us into God’s own righteousness.
In that righteousness everything old has indeed passed away. In that righteousness everything is made new. You and I, and each one of us, are made into new creatures. All of creation is made new.
As God’s righteousness you and I and each one of us, really have nothing worth doing other than what Jesus calls us to do, what the Holy Spirit makes us capable of doing. We think, pray, speak and act so that those around us know that the Kingdom of God is at hand, and they are welcomed in just as we are; not because we’ve earned it, not at all. They and we are welcomed in because God wants it that way.
Though we remain sinners all the time, unable to free ourselves, God forgives us each day all our new sins, so that we can forgive ourselves, and so that then we can turn to everyone else and forgive them!
God has made us into Christ’s voice, hands and compassion, so that we will reconcile not only ourselves, but all others, and even the creation so broken … so that we will reconcile all people back to God, so that we will reconcile all creation back to God.
I, and each one of us, are God’s ambassadors.
We stand in the promised land, in the Kingdom of God, and we eat of the fruit of this land, the produce of this Kingdom.
The light of God is bright and the hyenas of home are sent scurrying for cover into their own darkness.
We stand, knowing that God is with us and was with us all the way or we would never reach the promised land. We stand and celebrate the return of each lost sinner. For we know that is us, each day. We trust that God will always be with us, as we arrive in the Promised Land anew each day. As we leave our pack of hyenas in the dark and come into the Light of life.
We trust that this Lent our being Christ’s ambassadors, no matter what it costs us, is our Lenten fast, the fast that God finds acceptable, the fast that brings justice, freedom, food and homes to those who most need them. Most of all our fast brings forgiveness and reconciliation to those who need it most: you and me, and each one of us.
Beale Street Could Talk, we would hear not only the Black man’s
story, or the indigenous man’s story, or the refugee’s story. If
everyone’s Beale Street Could Talk, we would hear Jesus’ story
and ourselves in it.
in this new creation,
the Light Shines!
One day, the Light of Christ will shine Light on every Beale Street story, and the disgrace will be where it belongs.
Atwood’s quote, ” Men are afraid women will laugh at them.
Women are afraid men will kill them.” is too simplified to
honestly live on it’s own, unless it is just meant to honour women,
and disparage men.
the real deep problem of illuminating only part of reality, but that
is what we are at most capable of.
misadrism it’s not really helpful, it kills the human spirit.
honest is to say:
are afraid men will kill them, men they know, but especially men they
do not know. Their fear is real, and tragically accurate of a few
afraid women will drive them to kill themselves, especially women
they know, but generally all women. Their fear is real, and
tragically accurate of more than a few women.
fear is of real, literal death; but also of smaller deaths, even
figurative deaths, deaths that rob a man (or a woman) of life at the
killer is the fear. Living in fear limits the horizon to only well
guarded, defensive stances.
Atwood also wrote: “I hope that people will finally come to realize
that there is only one ‘race’ – the human race – and that we are all
members of it.”
Life for each and every one of us is intended to be lived looking to God’s horizon that is so far out-reaches any of ours that we can only be astounded as we glimpse the vistas available to us, each and all.
is measured in how we help each other see those vistas and the
creator of them.
forecast this morning. Instead we received snow, fluffy big heavy
flakes that made noise landing on the tarps shelter.
is the time of re-newed life. But first, as the snows of the winter
melt, we must face the dreck of the life through the winter, records
of the mess we’ve lived and made.
instead of rain that makes mud, to get snow that gives a fresh cover
again over the remains of past efforts to live, including many
vista reaches deep inside as the horizon is clouded away and the
light is dimmed.
Sounds like a winter baptism of the world and for the creatures.
Fear, of how the past will catch us, is no way to live. There are renewals that do not hide or cover up that past.
They are called forgiveness, reconciliation, and hope …
hope that allows one to laugh with instead of at another person.
It’s that marvellous time in the
morning. The light is broken through the darkness, the sun yet to
shine is promised. All is quiet, except the contained roar of burning
wood in the furnace, the left overs from the water heated for coffee
cooling in the pan on the stove, and every once in a while a plastic
container popping loudly as the freeze of last night (or perhaps
still left over from the -32°C storage for a week while I was in
surgery) is slowly pushed back by the flames conductive reach.
Earlier, before the light made the snow
clear, an owl kept measure of the coming dawn with it’s ominous
who, who, who. Who indeed has done all this?
Who is the owl calling to the end of life
on this earth? There was an owl in this man’s drive, not a live
one, but carved from wood. A sign, that stood for years; he was
driven to take his own life by the woman he trusted most; she driven
by an irrational fear that attached itself impromptu on whomever was
close enough. The owl stood and still stands, a sign of a death not
Of course, life is never done with us
until death harvests what is left of us.
In the quiet of the dawning day, not yet demanding so many things be finished, or progressed, or started, one can see the rhythm of the blessed goodness of life. A breath in, a breath out. A heartbeat on the left, then on the right. A cough from the wood heat smoke of yesterday still irritating the fragile, allergy-beaten sinuses.
This is the time that imagination sets
the course of the day. Can you imagine forgiveness for one’s
enemies who attacked and/or harmed you all your yesterdays? Can you
imagine doing forgiveness, not just hoping it is what you’ve
thought well enough to make real?
Can you see the temperature, so cold in
the morning at -20°C, holding the frozen food frozen, the ice packs
in the fridge cold to avoid fuel to keep a fridge cool, the frozen
things frozen outside awaiting a later day for the ground to become
soft? Or do you have to imagine the pain in your hands working out in
Can you see the sun creating electricity
to store in the batteries to give you light, and then with time, you
are able to create words of truth and freedom? Or are you afraid of
the light, for it burns invisibly hot through one’s skin and eyes:
therefrom grow cancers and cataracts, and age-related macular
Can you imagine the sounds of squirrels
chirping, wind breathing softly, kind voices greeting each other,
preparing for the day’s tasks whatever they may be: school, work,
ice fishing, travelling to deliver the goods? Or do you allow the
haunt of yesterday’s abuse and lies run loose bouncing off every
occasioned imagination and sound or light?
Just done, remember the soft warm feel of
water with soap cleaning the breakfast dishes, and cool water rinsing
away the suds.
Imagine Julian of Norwich’s words of
hope realized in your coming days: all will be well, all will be
well, all manner of things will be well.
Now, breathe in and out, the gifts of
life here to share: clean air and water, food sufficient for all,
clothing appropriate, shelter sufficient, meaningful labour, and love
(given and received).
Now, the day calls. Make your way as you have been made able, to share what you’ve been given: blessings upon blessings, forgiveness, love, and hope.
There are so many
things in life that remain a mystery.
As the sun rose
after a bright moonlit night I kept working inside and missed the
marvel of the sunrise through the trees.
provides little light above the trees, so even when I was able to
emerge, this caught my eye. I moved easily to get my camera for this
was far to complex a shot than possible with a simple cell camera
which I also did not have on me.
Then as I mounted
the steps to go inside I noticed the light change and with a panic
that only a photographer can know too well, I ran to catch the light
at play before it moved to something, somewhere else.
Back outside the
light returned to play, and these two of the few I took surprised me
I went back to work
after adding them to my desktop slideshow.
This evening they
showed up for the first time, which brought me to decide to postpone
sleep until they are up for others to enjoy.
The challenge is to
find the right composition and play to show what caught my eye.
Here the lines are
strong, though the mystery is less if at all.
Here the mystery
lays fully in the frame.
There was no fog, as
one can tell with a trained eye. This is smoke from the campfire
burning up some junk wood and chainsaw chips, with the temperature
just right that the smoke traversed quite a ways through the trees on
its way to ‘freedom’ in the atmosphere.
Small mysteries include how people can possibly not understand what Nelson Mandela and Bishop Tutu demonstrated so diligently:
It is very difficult requiring great patience and diligence to throw off oppressive, racists, unjust rulers.
But if one simply replaces them with one’s own version of oppression, racism, and injustice then one actually only takes a step deeper into greater difficulties for which one is then responsible: Getting rid of one’s oppressors becomes a step deeper into oppression, from which one has less likelihood of getting free of, for one has deepened the cycle of revenge … and that can take more than generations to be free of.
Mandela and Tutu demonstrated that FRFEDOM from one’s oppressors only is possible if one finds a way free from being the oppressors first, last and all the way in between, which is so much more difficult than throwing off one’s oppressors!
Another small mystery is how it is that so many people think that their lies which ruin other people, are not seen as lies, and that there are terrible consequences, natural consequences and God wrought consequences for such injustice. Even people entrusted with great authority, or perhaps most of all, people entrusted with great authority seem to be oblivious to their own lie’s baldfaceness, and the unjust consequences to other people far beyond the persons they lie about, and the ruinous consequences to themselves. Lies rot a person from the inside until there is nothing left inside, until one is physically alive, but there is no soul left.
While God punishes people for their sins, or forgives them, But unless one repents (changes 180° the sin) the sinner suffers the sin more than anyone else.
Another small mystery of life is how people can think that doing nothing about lies and injustice are even options for life.
Bringing light to bear upon lies and injustice may seem to be costly, even one’s job, or peace, or reputation … but to do nothing in the face of lies leaves one rotting inside as badly as the liars and perpetrators of injustice.
One can look a far, or not so far, just south of the border, to see how destructive lies and ignoring them, can be. But one ought also to pay attention to what is happening in one’s own town: in the politics, the power plays, the wealth thrown around and cow towed to, the public officials, elected and appointed who are entrusted with maintaining good order and justice. Of course one also needs to start in one’s own family, and with one’s self.
The mystery of life for me has been how so many people whom I’ve met are so unaware of the themselves, as they hammer others down and about to make their way forward and upward through life. It’s as if kindness we completely unknown, honesty never heard of, and fairness and justice concepts that mean whatever gets me ahead at whatever cost.
The profound mystery is how light plays on all these self-deceptions, colouring the world ugly.
Except by Grace the colouring can be also a thing of beauty as one forgives and loves despite the cruelty focused at oneself and at others.
Forgiveness is not always possible: sometimes one needs to leave the judgement to God, and move on, not forgiving and fully remembering the sins, but not condemning. The sinners suffer their sins. God eventually judges them, no spin, no evidence hidden, no witnesses excluded — God knows all with or without evidence and witnesses. And since God exists beyond time the consequences of that judgement begins at one’s birth; thus sinners suffer their sins more than are punished for them.
As an ordained person, responsible and with authority to bring forgiveness to sinners, and also entrusted with the terrible authority to bind sins for God to judge, I have seldom done other than pronounce forgiveness, until the last few years. Now the injustice that I have been the brunt of, which is not limited to just me, but most men abused by women, falsely convicted in our courts … which forces me to estimate that more than 75% of men convicted of a crime against their spouse or partner are truly innocent; so pervasive is this turn. We used to hear that men without a thread of truth could bring their non-compliant wives to jail to be ruined or to mental institutions to be drugged out of their minds for decades. Now the system has changed: and it allows women, without truth, to bring their husbands and partners to jail and mental institutions.
These sins, that make this possible, that invite women to do this, as if this deals with the real abuse of women by men, and clearly ignores the real abuse of men by these women … these sins cannot be forgiven. They are bound for God to judge.
The rest of us need to work to bring light to these injustices, or we rot just like the perpetrators.
The small mystery, or not so small mystery, is why this takes so long for us to bring the light to bear upon such blatant sin?
Those are small to immense mysteries. They are dwarfed by the real mystery.
The real mystery is
This coming Sunday
we read: love your enemies.
How is that even
The answer is simple
and elusively complex.
Just do it!
But the prerequisite
is that one knows two things at least:
That one does not
deserve to be loved by God, not at all.
And that God still
does love you, fully and without reserve or hesitation.
And the third thing
to know is that God calls us to love our enemies as God has loved us.
They may not deserve
it, but we are to love them anyway.
It’s a matter of faith.
Simply possible for
the Holy Spirit through us, since God makes us saints.
Miracles are welcome! May the cards you and yours are dealt bring peace and joy. May your responses to especially the ‘off suit’ cards bring others peace and joy beyond all expectations. 365 days to let God wow us with what God can pull out of us, and what the Spirit can pull off in spite of us. Breathe, Smile, Play, And ‘dance with Grace.’
And occasionally laugh out loud
Just to let them wonder
What you’re up to.
God certainly knows how to weep, grieve, and suffer with us; But I think God enjoys the breathing, smiling, playing, dancing, and laughing A bit more.
Make ithe New Year as awesome as each past and yet coming at us; Unconditional love is the key, So open the gates. We are not alone.
The afternoon came late with snow
Enough to cover the browns of fall
And cover most everything with the white of winter.
It is not enough that it’s change.
This one, many of us would have wished, would have waited a month or more.
Makes for a long winter, or so we say.
We don’t mind change, we just want to be in control. We want to choose what change comes our way and forms our futures becoming our past.
So what change would we choose?
The lists are endlessly wishful, and just about totally impossible.
So what to do with this change, this snow change.
It’s a little thing, really, snow in November.
It’s the cold, the cost for fuel which may become impossible.
And that is not just a little thing.
Which does not melt the snow or reduce the cost for fuel.
What can one do with such a change?
By morning more snow floated loose from the clouds
Onto the brow-beaten ground that is as much home as anywhere;
It’s enough to ski on.
And it’s enough to make a great time preparing for the winter to come.
For Saints all, it is an opportunity,
an opportunity to turn what many will complain about,
into a graceful chance to enjoy the wonders of creation.
Wonders are many, and the thankfulness one holds
For the little things,
Or the big things,
That make cold into a gift and wonder.
The canoe is stored for the winter; it’s too dangerous to canoe with water so close to freezing as one glides on the ripples, waves and fish spinning galore.
And the skis are ready.
Tomorrow will be the day to first cross country ski on the ground that God created and called good.
All will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.
It is a sweet month, November is, a month when winter is not set, though the sun sets early and rises late. The hard cold is not yet, and the water is still clear for canoeing.
A month to prepare, a month that is the end of the church year, a month when travelers are few and far between and solitude and peace are more easily found in old haunts and newly explored places.
Then on the first day of this sweet month, with temperatures already below zero often in October, the cold arrived over night at -7 with a low forecast of -4. In town it’s -3.
Halloween was a cold one again.
And November came in with just a skiff of snow.
Snow on the canoe.
A closer look at the obvious presence
Of a beaver, obvious because of the telltale tooth marks on the trees, as the beaver prepares for winter, setting the food of trees in storage next to the beaver house, not 50 meters distant downstream.
This, just a stone’s throw from the wake up view, is the outflow creek of the lake. The beaver have taken this creek, dammed and controlled it to keep the lake at high water marks and made a quiet pond, a home for them, and for us to canoe on just down the creek a bit, over a couch some fools left on the ice one winter past.
This the stillness of wonderful weather, quiet from the throngs, and distance from the noise of the city, but not out of reach of the military jet sonic booms as they reach out to distant sorties.
Here the soul, on All Souls Day, can live well.
Here the saint, on All Saints Day, can live well.
Here creation is good.
Money is scarce, fuel for transportation and electricity (generator made) is short, and propane for heat is dwindling.
Ah, a wood stove in a shelter on a trailer, which would provide dry heat, a system for heat that costs labour and chainsaw gas and oil, and truck gas to haul in the wood. But that’s a pipe dream.
Even so, here, whatever may come,
all is well, all is well, all manner of things are well.