Facing Covid 19: Daily Devotions – May 21

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Imperfect Reflections

Evil Uses Imperfect Reflections of God’s Will

to Guide Us to Our Destruction

Psalms 97:10

The Lord loves those who hate evil; he guards the lives of his faithful; he rescues them from the hand of the wicked.

Ephesians 4:15

Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ.

Words of Grace For Today

How does one say this: some people are stupid. In Canada, one does not say this in polite company. Is this right? Or maybe the question is wrong. It should be: Is this the best we can say?

This past week campers have gathered as every year for the first weekend of the summer. In the random camping area where I live on crown land, there were no restrictions possible to limit units to every other campsite, since no official campsites are designated. There are unofficial ‘campsites’ well established though. Established enough that they are named.

Doublesite is the first site on the left as one enters the area. It has the end of the circle-road bisecting, after it loops through to the main campsites and just before it joins the entrance road again. It’s large enough open space to easily fit three (four are tight) camper units on one side of the road and two units and two large tents on the other side, though more are possible. This weekend three units circled tightly the central campfire (not fired up, thankfully with the fire ban on). Tents were pitched on the other side, but only one or two. People and especially the half dozen pre-teen children freely mingled and met around the toys and food tables.

There seemed to be little concern for Covid 19 physical distance restrictions. Someone will get killed from Covid 19 because of their carelessness.

Rightsite is the first site on the right as one enters the camping area. It has a 100 metre separate roadway through trees into it’s wide opening around a huge campfire pit. A favourite site, it is usually occupied by one unit, maybe two units. There are two pathways/roadways leading away from it where other units can fit into, though it’s not all that optimal. It can work though as a group campsite and occasionally it is just that.

This weekend a bus and three camper units, plus three tents were squeezed in around the campfire pit. Set off by itself it was hard to see whether a fire was lit. But the space hardly allowed for anything but absurdly normal interactions between the people with so many units filling the area, with no concern for Covid 19 restrictions of any kind. Someone will get killed from Covid 19 because of their carelessness.

Along the loop further past the winter landing for ice fishers, two sites (Lake 1 and Lake 2) sit between the road and the lake, within 5 metres of the water. This weekend the first was empty, but the second was occupied by one unit, a truck, a truck pulling a boat, and a third crossover vehicle.

Around at the end of the loop, before it returns through Doublesite a number of roadways intertwine between the trees making up Website. Usually one or sometimes two units fit back there, not necessarily camping together. This weekend it hosted three camper units and three tents, and twice that many vehicles, with vehicles coming and going all weekend long. The older teenagers and early 20-year-olds carried on like it was a regular bush party, drinking, making lots of noise, louder as the night wore on, tossing frisbees, and setting up drinking games (with shared bottles). After they left there were a number of areas a short ways into the woods with used toilet paper and not quite empty toilet paper rolls strewn about. Someone will get killed from Covid 19 because of their carelessness. Can you spell Darwin Awards?

And at night, the perpetrators unknown, someone lit off a series of fireworks, despite the fire-ban. If they had started a wildfire the dry conditions and the huge amount of dry junk brush in the woods and dead trees would have sent an inferno rolling through and out of here.

Can one say ‘stupid’ loud enough and long enough? With Covid 19 restrictions, who knows when firefighters enough may appear to control it! Who knows how much property would have been destroyed and how many lives would have been lost!

In Cold Lake itself, when I go shopping typically people breach a one metre physical distance from me on a regular basis despite my best efforts to avoid them, forget about 2 metres. I sat at the tailgate of the borrowed truck picking up hardware from Canadian Tire. No less than a dozen people walked past me, all within a foot, two at the most. I finally pulled out a 6 foot stick that I use to pull things out of the 6 foot truck-bed and propped it against the tailgate out onto the pavement easily covering the area where all those people had walked. It forced the next dozen to walk at least 1 metre away from me, and most did that and no more, cutting from the corner right past me at the tailgate.

I’ve heard people foolishly say that there is no Covid 19 in Cold Lake. 2 tested cases were reported, but the military do not report their cases, nor could Cold Lake report an outbreak or real numbers lest threats to Canada could know our military is unable to respond due to illness.

Can one say ‘stupid’ loud enough and long enough? Someone will get killed from Covid 19 because of their carelessness.

As Monday noon rolled around the vehicle noise from that end of the camp area increased, then settled down. I sat writing and out the window off to one side I saw a black something move across the narrow view. I stood up and peered out the window where I might see the whatever if it kept moving the same direction. Nothing, then from behind the borrowed truck meandered a young adult black bear, nosing about for food. Coming right toward me, it was no more than 3 metres away, through the window.

I grabbed a camera to get a few shots. Then as the bear continued to poke about and started toward the camper itself I started shouting. At first there was no response, then the bear slowly changed it’s slow meandering course away from the camper back toward where it had emerged from the roadway to the rest of the camp area.

This young bear has already learned that human campsites are a source of food. That makes for a dangerous bear, one that is not afraid of humans, one that will easily attack humans. Someone is going to get hurt, badly and likely killed eventually, before this bear’s life ends. Who left food out and when so that this bear learned humans are a source of food?

The Bear Truth:

Someone Taught this Bear

Humans Mean Food!

Can one say ‘stupid’ loud enough and long enough?

One can, but is it the wisest or best thing to say?

As we grow up into Christ we learn to hate evil, but to speak graciously and gently about others sinfulness. We remember our own and all that Christ forgives us. We extend that grace towards other sinners.

We speak the truth (about our and their sinfulness) with love (the same love God exercises for us in Christ, that erases those sins.)

The truth is, the population is rebelling against the present restrictions. Even the restrictions are not strong enough to stop Covid 19 from spreading; they will just slow it down to avoid spikes in cases that overwhelm the health care system. If we were under restrictions strong enough to stop Covid 19 from spreading, we would be in full rebellion.

Speaking the truth in love sometimes meaning saying what can be said to get people to do what can be done, and not trying to do what cannot be done, so that people rebel and do nothing to help reduce the dangers we face.

Lake 2 was the only campsite where a bunch of garbage was left scattered behind, (if one does not mention the used toilet paper around Website) though the fire-pits everywhere seem to be treated as if they were garbage cans. So there is that to thank all these campers for: comparatively little mess to clean up after them!

Now feeding that bear, intentionally or inadvertently by leaving food or garbage out for it to find … there just is no excuse for that.

Come to think of it, there is no real excuse for any sin, or for any of us to participate in evil. Yet we keep doing it, thinking it will bring us life.

Only life lived out of God’s Grace brings us and others life.

Be everything good and gracious you can be. At your worst, be kind. That will get you and yours through every challenge in these times when we are ripe pickings for the Devil’s temptations to call others ‘stupid’.

God’s Beauty

Perfectly Created

Lent as Story

2020.02Feb25LentOurStory

Lent as (our new) Story

One of God’s gift to us humans is our ability to understand stories, to hear them and experience what is in them, and to write stories to convey more than just the words describe, or as in movies, more than what the images portray by themselves.

Imagination More Than We Could Know

Imagination More Than We Could Know

Stories have the key to communicate the most hidden, the most complex, the most poignant, the most critical, and the most beautiful aspects of life itself; and in that communication to the reader, listener, or viewer to teach something new, to connect at an un-imagined level, and to reveal something even beyond what the author, reader and creator conceived possible.

Our Words and Images Reach The Pinnacle and Depth of Beauty

Our Words and Images Reach The Pinnacle and Depth of Beauty

This Lent we embark on 40 days of fasting, reflection, prayer and meditation which themselves reflect a long tradition of the preparation to hear the story of Passion week and Easter Sunday, and which in themselves each year are a new story for each one of us.

What is your story, the one you are always part of?

What is your story, the one you are always part of?

What new will you learn, imagine, encounter on your 40 day journey this Lent?

Can you see something new?

Can you see something new?

Lent has it’s own stories, worthy of hearing again and again: Shrove Tuesday: the yeast and oil used in one last meal so the house has none in it during Lent. The ashes of our origins and ends as organisms on this earth. Marked in the sign of the cross, branding us as belonging to Christ. No meat. Fasting severe or limited. Giving up something. Engaging in something. Praying daily or even hourly, especially for one’s enemies.

Can we see through the fog?

Can we see through the fog?

All this to prepare our hearts, mind and souls to hear, imagine, and celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice and victory over death and all our sin.

Christ’s story is filled with Light!

Christ’s story is filled with Light!

All this to prepare our hearts, mind and souls to hear, imagine, and celebrate Jesus’ story lived out in our lives.

Finding our way through the frozen of life.

Finding our way through the frozen of life.

Berries Milk golden Koffee

In the quiet of the morning

With the sun just up, I trust, since the clouds are thick and low, but it is not dark as night anymore, when the waning crescent moon supplied a bit of light to step by to dump the ashes from the night’s fire as the early morning fire is stoked and left to burn hot,

With the sun just up, the logs have been hauled for fuel to heat with, and the Eucharist celebrated with thankful prayers for family, all.

As breakfast, a required meal of fibre and fruit to keep my body from rejecting most foods with spasms and great pain, is prepared, cereal in the bowl, coffee measured into a small glass, the french press ready, and then pre-heated and filled with water boiled on the wood burning in the fire in the stove … and

then the milk cold from the natural fridge is poured on the cool berries from nature’s fridge, the liquid milk freezes into crystals on the cold, cold berries decorating them with the snow white of frozen milk.

Add the hot coffee to milk, Kafe au lait, and the breakfast is balanced into good measures of blessing

to open this portion of the morning, with the routine well accomplished and work well planned.

First task of everyday, exercise, then Eucharist, then breakfast and something creative.

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cereal under Berries under Frosty Milk, before Coffee Golden

cereal under Berries under Frosty Milk, before Coffee Golden

Today Berries Under Milk, Quiet

as only the fire sparks and moans as logs become heat and clear smoke burned so hot!

Live well. Tell the truth only. Trust God’s protection and blessing.

Receive everything with Grace, Forgive all who can be, work diligently for justice for all, and hope for things unseen and for which there is no evidence it will be provided. For this is life, as God created us to live it, filled with Love, pure and simple, even for one’s enemies.

Still Morning Drips

Still Morning Ice Drops drip

Walking to haul wood for the stove

The trees have carpeted the path with themselves

sacrificing to the cold the colours left when photosynthesis cannot any more

as they shed summer and fall pushing the liquids of life back into the ground protecting themselves

from the expansion of freezing that would tear out their hearts.

In the still air as the light of warmth reaches through the tops to the yellow carpet below

the trees cry ice drops,

melting from the freezing night’s moisture collected on leaves not yet having succumbed like their fallen comrades

to the wretched destruction of passing time,

or

to the blessed transition from green biting-bug-and pollen-filled hot days transitioning to the cool respite of fall.

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Colour drips Drops of Time

Drip, drop, drip … it is time

time to prepare

time to celebrate what was

time to prepare for what will come

time to haul wood, trees murdered for a bit of white bark or taken as the victim’s of drug-hyped-senslessness and bravado that a madman with an axe can fell living trees just for the show of it, for the false exuberance of finally being able to master something, since he could not master himself.

Drip, drop, drip … it is time

time to prepare

for the Light of Christ to shine in the darkness.

Choose Life, Give Freedom

Deuteronomy 30:15-20
Philemon 1-21
Luke 14:25-33

In the Promised Land, Choose!

In the Fade, movie

Set in Germany In the Fade is a movie about people choosing the destruction of life. A German mother drops her young son off with her husband at work so that she can make a visit. Leaving his office the mother admonishes a young woman to lock up her new bike she’s just left with a case on its rear carrier. When the mother returns the police inform her that her husband, a German of Turkish descent, and their young German-born son were killed by a fertilizer nail bomb. The bike’s case held the bomb made by the perpetrator’s husband.

The outcome of the trial seems obvious, but their lawyer creates reasonable doubt; the bombers are acquitted. Captive to revenge the grieving mother tracks the guilty-acquitted couple to a beach on the ocean. There she kills them with a fertilizer nail bomb, and she loses her life in the process.

The movie denounces the rise of neo-Nazi killings. The first bomb was set to kill as many non-native Germans as possible. More clearly it demonstrates that, without the freedom of faith that calls us to forgive, people choose to become captives to revenge. Revenge is a two-edge sword that cuts everyone.

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The Dark Churn of Chaos Obstructs Our View of God’s Son

OT: As you enter the PL, Choose: life or death, blessings or curses

By comparison, living in God’s promise is a multi-sided blessing. As God delivers God’s promise to Abraham and ushers the people across the Jordan into the Promised Land, Moses admonishes them to choose God each day. Moses knows they will need to or they will fall under the curses of other gods, including gods that people still choose today. Living in the Promised Land does not mean that life will be easy, obvious, or without dire peril. Nor does it mean that all people are free. Today people are regularly enslaved as labourers around the world and on the high seas as well as those forced into the sex trade.

God delivers us into the Promise. God will not take us out of the Promised Land. As God’s children God frees us so that we always have a real choice between Life and Death, between blessings and curses, even when we do not see the choices clearly.

What Promised Land has God brought us to, long ago, or maybe just yesterday? What Blessings and Curses must we choose between?

Remember first that God’s Promise delivered at our baptism is that we are always God’s children, made righteous by Jesus’ sacrifice and Grace. God gives us a choice, but it is not about receiving or earning God’s Grace and our salvation. Our choice is how we live in that Grace. Do we, guided and inspired by God’s Spirit, choose blessings and life, or do we choose our own ways that lead to curses and death for us and for others?

Break my Heart, (Set me on fire!)

A well-known prayer reads: “May my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” (World Vision’s founder, Bob Pierce).

The risk of praying this prayer is that God might just answer it with a Holy Fire that sets our hearts on fire to bring blessings to every human of the 7.7 plus billion whom we can possibly effect, starting today, with those beside us, those we meet each step through each day, and those we go out of our way to encounter, until everything in our lives changes as we become the hands, voice and blessings of Christ. We join the great cloud of witnesses to Christ’s love for all people.

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When We Dwell Beside Living Water, God Fires Up Our Hearts

NT Philemon’s Real Story: Giving FREEDOM

In our second lesson for today we read part of the letter Paul wrote to Philemon and his congregation. It is about an escaped slave, Onesimus, the man who carries the letter to Philemon. Paul sends him back to his master, Philemon, and lights a Holy Fire under Philemon.

Escaped slaves were crucified, a dire warning to any other slaves who tried to escape. Anyone, through a terrible turn of fortune or war, could become a slave. Becoming a freed slave was very, very rare.

Still Paul admonishes Philemon, with the congregation listening, to do the rare but right thing, the good thing, the personally costly thing.

C.S. Lewis: Paint and Eggs, Stain and Get Cracking

C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity called this the difference between paint, which merely covers the surface, and stain which soaks in deep to protect to the centre. Paul trusts that the Gospel daily seeps down into Philemon’s heart and strength. As with all Paul’s new converts in congregations spread so far, Paul nurtures the seeds of faith, like a mother hen sitting on her eggs. It is fine to be a fertilized egg, waiting to become something, but now it’s time to get cracking. It’s time for Philemon to show his colours and give Onesimus his freedom.

How does God place before us this day the choice of blessings gained by sacrificing our rights and privileges in order that another human can live in freedom? What egg needs to hatch in our lives bringing us into a new reality? What choices does God give us today?

Route 44, Not Getting it Right

We may not get it right. We may be more like the 88 year old driver of the car the cop pulls over because it was going 44 kph on the highway where the speed limit is 110. When he approaches the car he notices that the four elderly passengers appear to be shocked into a daze, the air taken out of them.

The officer warns the driver that it is dangerous to drive so far below the speed limit. She responds that she was going exactly the speed limit of 44 kph just like the sign said.

The officer starts to answer sternly until the light bulb goes off for him and he says: “No ma’am, the speed limit is 110 here. Though this is highway 44.”

“Oh,” says the driver as it’s obvious the wheels are churning for her. Then the officer asks, “Is everyone alright? They all seem shell shocked.”

The driver answers as it falls into place for her, “No, officer. Thank you. Yes, they will be alright in a minute or two. You see, a few miles back we turned off highway 169.”

Taking care of ourselves, our faith, and the promised land we live in is hardly simple. Sometimes it’s the most difficult thing in our lives to get right. When we make mistakes with the freedom Christ gives us, we often add a huge dose to the challenges the Devil tries to suck us into. The results can often scare the living daylights out of us, at least they should.

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The Expanse of the Universe Outta Scare Us Silly, The Cost of Discipleship Even More-so

Luke: Know the Cost

In today’s Gospel Jesus admonishes the crowd to know and prepare for the cost of discipleship as they commit themselves to following him.

Hate is not Jesus’ way, but it is an example of the extreme commitment that following Jesus will place on us. Nothing else can be more important to us than following Jesus, nothing, not even love for family. Jesus tells us to count the cost before we jump in, for the cost will be more than any love or even all of our possessions. Better to count the cost first and be prepared, than to run into a wall too high, or a battle too big, and collapse in shame.

It is not unlike marriage. If we really knew what we were getting into there are precious few of us who would be able to make such a commitment. Fortunately, endorphins and hope help us commit to each other in marriage. Its challenges are God’s way of bringing us to understand God’s love for us.

Likewise, fortunately, most of us are baptized as infants, a choice made for us by our parents and sponsors, otherwise the high cost could stop many of us. Yet the cost of discipleship is required for us to participate in life overflowing with God’s blessings for which we are created!

Kidnapping Gramma!

William White tells the story of Heddie Braun, a woman who lived the first four years of her life in Norway and then emigrated to Little Prairie, WI.

Heddie was a powerful presence at the age of 88 with all of her 80 lbs. hung on a 5’ 2” frame. On a cold fall evening Heddie was kidnapped from her single-story home where she lived with Eddie, her blind husband. The kidnapper cut power and telephone wires to the house, entered through the backdoor, picked up Heddie and put her in the trunk of his car. He drove her to his home, put chains on her legs and hid her in a tiny trailer out back. For days Heddie was always cold, she didn’t have her heart medicine, and she lost track of time. A confusing ransom call was made on a disposable phone to her grandson. It was a total failure.

Although time melted into a well-stirred soup, Heddie was not confused about who she was and to whom she belonged. Held captive she knew Christ made her free.

The police identified the kidnapper. He had worked for the family, but was now unemployed and desperate. At one time he had been a friend.

Heddie almost lost her foot to frostbite but she was tough and her foot was saved. Asked later how she stayed so strong, Heddie replied. “I’m Norwegian. The whole time I was in the trailer I remembered that my kidnapper was just a person like me. No matter what the cost I was going to choose life. It was so hard, harder than anything I’ve ever done, but I forgave him.” She turned to her grandson, “You have to forgive him, too.” (In Over Our Heads, pp. 14ff, Augsburg 2007, re-told TL and KAS)

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Life is Beautiful !!! As We Live In the Light of Christ

So we pray

Christ sets us free, so we pray: May our hearts be broken by the things that break the heart of God.

May our joy be in choosing life, blessings, and freedom for all people.

Amen

April Ends; Spring Sprongs

Waiting, waiting, waiting …

and just when I thought it was safe to put away the winter jackets, the wool socks, take off the ice tires, bring out the canoe, lighten the setup, burn little if any wood for heat …

This comes down all morning long

http://www.prwebs.com/Life/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/20190430_065138.mp4

The Winter Sky is Falling, right into our Spring.

along with the temperature buried below freezing.

That leaves room for less wet, less bugs, less allergies so it is not all bad.

After cutting wood in comfort, not too hot, not too cold, and making some good progress stacking cut pieces to split later …

And after enjoying the snow free and sunny afternoon as the snow of the morning completely disappears…

I finally pull out the canoe, reattach the supports removed last fall to be sanded and varnished with a fresh coat to stop the break down at the attachment points.

The wood has been water stained, but the new coats of varnish should help them last a few more years.

Delivery is more difficult since the trailer is no longer available, wood furnace in a shelter tying it up.

So atop the truck, slow progress toward the lake, supper late, and finally delivery to the water.

Canoeing into the sunset wonders.

Wonderful to be out on the water again, though I did need a warm jacket against the biting wind. A vest and hoodie did not cut it.

Red Sky Sailors Delight; but here it still snows the next day, nicely like small cool ash melting on impact with the brown bare earth.

Later I watched as the sun set and left a red sky for the lake to reflect back on.

Good Friday Success

What was once alive, once green, once bright, is now in these days dead, withered and dark.

There is only a faint hint of days long distant in the most recent of times.

What is it to succeed

and leave a legacy?

To overrun others, destroying them with lies, in order to have more, in order to cover up one’s sins?

Or to 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.

Did Jesus succeed? Did Jesus destroy others, or did he allow others to try to destroy him, and respond with grace and forgiveness?

If more of the world knew Grace and lived it well, more people would succeed …

in bringing the basics of life to others with their sacrifices.

The world may seem dark, especially in these days when we remember that God died, and remained so, for three days.

There is 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.

And for those who have destroyed with lies … may God have mercy on them.

Joshua, Paul, and the two Sons: Celebrate by Being …

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

If Beale Street Could Talk

One 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 erased.

“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.


It’s dark out There

Everything 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.

God waltzes away our disgrace, our sins, our slavery … and God sets us free.

It may be dark, but the Light comes to find 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.

We stand, cut off, but we stand. We stand surrounded by the hard cold,
but we stand, for God is with us!

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 …

OR

We are 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 …

We 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.

This is 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.

Here in 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.

We are 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.

You and 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.

If every 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.

This is my Beale Street, the entrance and exit, to my home; Here the Light Shines, especially in the darkness!

….


Here,

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.

And God’s Grace and Justice will prevail …

Amen.

(Which means: this is most certainly true!)

Afraid: men women will (kill them with) laugh

2019 Mar 26 Men, Fear Or Vistas of Hope

Margaret 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.

That’s the real deep problem of illuminating only part of reality, but that is what we are at most capable of.

Used as misadrism it’s not really helpful, it kills the human spirit.

More honest is to say:

Women 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 men.

Men are 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.

This 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 core.

The real killer is the fear. Living in fear limits the horizon to only well guarded, defensive stances.

Or as 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.

Health is measured in how we help each other see those vistas and the creator of them.

Rain was forecast this morning. Instead we received snow, fluffy big heavy flakes that made noise landing on the tarps shelter.

Spring 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.

So 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 painful failures,

This vista reaches deep inside as the horizon is clouded away and the light is dimmed.

Fresh

Clean

Promising

Hope

Sounds like a winter baptism of the world and for the creatures.

The Clear Blue (-ish white) of Spring Snow

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.

Imagine: That Time Again

Imagine

That time again:

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 yet done.

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 this cold?

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 degeneration?

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.

It’s that time again:

Imagine!