Cost for Truth has been everything for me, except a sleeping bag, a
tent, my clothes and a bicycle.
the reward for truth is a clear eye and a clear conscience.”
eyes enable one to see the beauty of life.
The True Work of Justice
is as important to exonerate an innocent person as to convict a
Clearly Fog Challenges Clarity
I have a clear eye and clear conscience.
So many who’ve had the chance have not paid any price for truth. It is a party where they imbibe the intoxicating evil of false power based on the Devil’s seductions, drunk so deeply in order to ignore the truth.
I do not see good people working for justice to exonerate the innocent, myself included. Like hundreds of thousands others, I see good people become evil, working to convict the innocent like me, a kind, generous, man of great integrity, an excellent stay at home father.
long view allows one to see the the rocks and sticks, and the
colour that plays with the light.
in the solitude and calm is possible as God blesses those persecuted
without just cause.
But woe to those who unjustly persecute the innocent. For God judges without rules of evidence or games of cover-ups possible. God judges the reality of one’s life and actions. There is no hiding possible for evil. There is no negotiating for something other than actual reality, for that is what God sees and judges. Entrance to blessing never comes with Spin or Cover-up, or declaring something to be other than it is.
life, our challenge is to not become like the persecutors, not to
become vengeful and vindictive … but to remain, trusting God’s
promises and quiet blessings each day, … to remain fully alive with
As for me and my non-existent household, unjustly taken from me thrice, I and the Holy Spirit, we choose to live only by Grace.
1 Timothy 1:12-17
We want it Simple, But life is messy
We really do like it simple: we want everything black and white, either Good or Evil. There are good people and there are evil people. We are the good people. They are the evil people. God chooses us, not them. But life is much messier than that. We are all simultaneously God-made saints and self-made sinners.
We are all sinners
Bill of AA
In the early years of Alcoholics Anonymous, at many meetings a comfortably dressed and well-groomed man would enter, not as a person of importance expecting special respect and appreciation. He never even sat in the front with the regulars. Instead he would choose the back, the place where someone new was likely to be sitting – someone with the shakes –someone with an odour that he recognized. He knew that odour. He could find it in the back of his own closet at home. Reminded how he was once right there dying with that smell, he loved that man.
When the time came he would stand and introduce himself like everyone else at the meeting. “Hello. My name is Bill, and I’m an alcoholic.” He did not add that he was one of the co-founders of AA.
The back of our Closets
We all have ugly skeletons in the back of our closets that remind us how broken we really are. It is not easy to acknowledge what’s in the back of our closets, so we often say in confession: If we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
The important truth is that we are self-made sinners.
Do we have to make it to God, Or does God come to rescue us?
How is it that we move from being sinners to being righteous before God? Of course we would like it to be simple, we just go to God, or God just comes to us. But real life is not that simple.
Huts on a deserted island
During a raging storm lightning struck a cruise ship disabling all communications and controls. Drifting far off course, hours later the ship struck a reef and sank off a deserted island. Having no end of conflict during the voyage due to outspoken beliefs the survivors sorted themselves on to the island according to their beliefs about God so as to avoid the ongoing conflicts.
The largest group built huts helter-skelter around the lovely sandy beaches. Most organized themselves in small groups, working terribly hard, some to build a raft to float back to civilization, some to build a communication system to call for help, some to make themselves as comfortable as possible. A small number of them simply did nothing but gather food and coconuts to make alcohol.
This disparate group from all religions, even agnostics, believed that they had to save themselves. God, if there was one the agnostics added, was not going to intervene. It was all up to them. They said they had great moral guides, but they did whatever they could get away with, so trouble constantly arose between them. They fought to prove that they had indeed done enough good to earn God’s favour. This large group lived like God did not exist at all, even though they said they believed in God, except the agnostics.
Alice and Double Predestination
Alice’s group built huts far from everyone else, facing a square yard for the kids and adults to walk in and meet in. The believed God was in charge of everything, including everything bad that happened. They wanted to have as little to do with the others as possible. They knew that God had saved them and not the others. They lived to prove God had chosen to save them. This group could not admit that they had ever done anything wrong, so they stuffed their closets full of old skeletons. In the dark they exercised those skeletons all too well, but when the sun shone they denied everything.
Inside Alice’s group a sub-group set up in their own corner. They believed as well that God had saved only them, that God was in charge of everything, including all evil, like their shipwreck. Instead of trying to prove God saved them they just gave up and did as little as possible. God was going to do what God was going to do and there was no way to change that. So why care about anything? They simply let life progress as it would. It was all up to God.
Martin Luther’s messy Single Predestination
A third large group believed that God alone could save them, but they still had freewill to choose to walk away from God. Few of them could precisely describe their beliefs. They built huts all around the island. This group constantly held joyous meals, celebrating that, when this member or that member had walked away from God, by Grace God had brought them back.
They were usually the kindest people, but they admitted, sometimes also as cruel as could be! They said God saved them many times each day, just because God chose to. They believed their life purpose was to extend God’s Grace to everyone. This group had people from all faiths, even Lutherans. They understood Evil came, not from God, but from humans choosing to turn away from God, as God created them to be able to.
They neither hid their sins nor tried to hide from sin. They just didn’t worry about or focus on their sins, yet they weren’t reckless with sin. They trusted God’s constant forgiveness, and worked to be God’s people of Grace.
Simultaneously Saints and Sinners and Golden Calves Galore
They accepted Luther’s paradox that all God’s people are simultaneously saints and sinners. They understood all too well that they had been right there next to Bill at the back of the room and, many times, at the bottom of their own Mt Sinai, building their own golden calf, so like Moses’ people had.
Golden Calf – God Changes God’s Mind
Moses’ people feared God had abandoned them. God became visible to Moses just 3000 yards away, but they did not dare venture up that steep trail. So they waited for Moses to come back, but he didn’t. They impatiently needed a god who would be available to them. So they collected their gold, melted it into an idol and worshipped their little godlet. Their false worship settled their anxiety, but it ate out their hearts and souls. God sees all this and asks Moses to leave him alone so that God’s wrath can burn hot and consume this perverse people. God goes so far as to tell Moses these are Moses’ people, whom Moses brought out of Egypt. That may be all true, of a sorts, so Moses reminds God that God has delivered the people, they are God’s people.
[May we never be in need of such boldness before God. But then if it need be, may we speak only the truth! And trust that God’s Grace will prevail also for us.]
Then God remembers God’s promises, and God changes God’s mind, from deserved annihilation to gracious forgiveness. God doesn’t smite the golden calf people. Instead they will stay in the wilderness for 40 years. The next generation will enter the promised land.
What are our ‘golden calves’?
What are our ‘golden calves’? How many times have we set up our own little godlets, not that far from the Altar of the Eucharist where God is visible and handed to us in the bread and wine?
It can be something as simple as the colour of the new carpet, the stewardship campaign we run, the prayers and music we can use in worship, or even who is welcome in ‘our’ church. In our daily lives our little godlets take on a variety that could more than fill all the stores and warehouses in the world.
God’s response to our sin
How does God respond when God sees all this? God remembers God’s promises, and chooses not to consume us with fury and wrath, which we deserve! Instead God changes God’s mind and does not smite us sinners as we worship our godlets of so great a variety.
Jesus eats with us, rejoices at our return
Instead Jesus eats with tax collectors and sinners, like us. And Jesus explains it like this: The shepherd loses one sheep of 100, leaves the 99 to find the lost one, and rejoices at it’s finding and celebrates with friends. The woman loses one coin, looks thoroughly for it, finds it, rejoices and calls friends to celebrate with her. So also as God all too often loses one of us to sin. God’s glory is not in smiting us out of existence, but in rescuing us. God delights and rejoices in bringing us home.
God comes all the way to us and through the sacrificial blood of Jesus reclaims us as holy saints. God makes us sinners into saints, and though we remain sinners we are simultaneously God-made saints.
What is it to live in God’s Promise to Rejoice at Forgiving Us Sinners?
How do we reflect our faith that Jesus came into the world to save sinners? Are we to sin all the more that God can continually delight in rescuing us! No, bound to sin and unable to free ourselves, we have all given God plenty of opportunity to save us and then to rejoice and celebrate our coming home.
We have no need to try to sin more. As much as God delights in our homecoming, God enjoys us most when we live at home with all the other saints in light.
We may want it simple, but there is never a simple answer to how to live Grace. It may sound simple: we sin, God saves us, everyone rejoices, repeat. That we repeat without end makes the cycle anything but simple. It is so far from simple, though it is profoundly joyous at each coming home.
It is not ever a treat to look in the back of our closets at all the godlets of our past, but when we do, and when we fully admit who we are as sinners, then God has already reclaimed us and is busy returning us home. The whole of heaven and all the saints celebrate our return. We, too, can rejoice. When others stray to worship their golden cafe godlets and God brings them home then we get to rejoice again.
We pray that we might learn to love each other, especially the ones sitting in the back barely in the door but here, shaking with ugly sin as we have all done. We pray that the Holy Spirit will teach us to love the one’s we think we cannot love, and to rejoice at each one God brings home.
As the loons haunt the dim dawn light with their forlorn wails as if begging for something close to truth to be recognized in the coming light, the not quite still lake undulates softly the moon caught in it’s liquid mostly-water.
There are many powerful and privileged people of luxury far beyond necessity or souls’ enjoyment who fear the light, not of a simple day’s dawn, but the Light that dawns as the Truth is revealed.
There are more people who look to this dawn of brilliant Truth with expectation of exoneration and finally, finally real justice through which real mercy is possible.
As so many have confessed through generation upon generation, if we say we have no sin we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God, who is faithful and just, will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
It certainly cannot be that God plays games with us like those in power, teasing us and tempting us just to catch us off guard. No, if who we trust to be God is God, creator all powerful and merciful, loving, forgiving and gracious, yearning to delight in our existence, our joys and even our sorrows that make up an abundant life, then certainly God plays no games with us concerning the Truth of who we are and what we have actually done; whether we acknowledge the Truth or we hide from it.
it is so much simpler than we want to acknowledge, when we want to
deceive ourselves. Like the water we too often want for wind to blow
the clear reflection of what we have done, so that no evidence of the
truth is discernible.
But the light will shine, and I for one, I, Tim Lofstrom, like I, Daniel Blake, eagerly wait the Light that will shine on the Truth. For I will be exonerated and those who have fabricated lies about me, bullied me, threatened my life, and sat in false judgment of me will be put to shame.
That which in them thrives on the darkness and falsehoods of their doings will be put to an end, as consumed by the fire of God’s judgment. Then our victory will be double, for not only will we be free, all of us falsely judged and destroyed by lies, but those who unjustly ruin and destroy us will be set free from the darkness that grips their whole unnatural being. Though little of them, who have given themselves to the Evil One, may survive as the kernels are separated from the chaff, still together we will bask in the Light, the Truth and the Grace which God delights in giving to us. Our collective shame will be ended.
this day we wait, as we wait for the rising of the sun to replace the
crescent moon which leaves darkness’ canopy pressing down on our
hearts, our hopes, and our joys.
In today’s Gospel lesson, Luke 13:10-17, Jesus reaches out and sets a woman free from 18 years of being held hostage to an ailment, an illness. She is set free and can walk upright, humbly unimpeded by a body oppressed by dis-ease in God’s creation.
The woman and the people are over-joyed. She is free!
the temple priests have no joy because they are threatened. They have
not provided this freedom and therefore they are not celebrated. They
and the people now clearly know that the priests live in darkness and
the light has just burst the seams of reality in ‘their’ temple.
They use the law as a hammer against the Light, to no avail. The law, given to guide the people in freedom, is corrupted in their hands to become the hammer that strikes down faith, joy, and hope in all the people. They would treat animals better than the people needing God’s Grace. They try to maintain an order that provides them false power and oppresses people into the mud of life. But the Light shines brightly.
people rejoice in the healing of the woman.
priests, they who would claim dark power over others, are put to
shame. Their grip is loosened, if just for a few hours, days or
weeks. Not only is this woman free, but all the people bask in the
Light, sharing in this woman’s joy.
are you today?
Are you the woman, who after 18 years of suffering illness that consumes the essence of life right out of you, and yet leaves you a shell of a human still looking down at the daisies, wishing for freedom even if that freedom arrives on the other side of the grave?
Are you the people, who after generations of suffering the oppression of those who rule in darkness over them, are overjoyed that the Light has arrived for this woman, for they are caught also in its Light? Their oppressors are put to shame.
Are you the priest, the oppressors, who live in darkness, who are skilled at turning truths in to dark falsehoods? Are you one who plays with truth as an axeman cutting trees, with falsehoods chipping life out of your victims, over whom you claim power? Are you put to shame by the coming of the Light and Truth? Have you put yourself outside the delight of God, to whom the coming of the Light not only means shame but loss of most of who you have made yourself to be, against the yearnings of your creator?
Are you the hands of Christ, who understand that the perversions of the Law, perversions of God’s Grace even, can be healed with a word, a redeeming touch, with sacred oil, water and bread? Are you the one who God uses as a conduit, and instrument to set people free? Are you one, like so many in the great cloud of witnesses we inherit, who sacrifices the abundance of your life that others may simply live, knowing that God’s Light shines brightly even in our darknesses?
thing is certain: God’s Light will shine brightly! Not according to
our plans, but as God chooses.
As Isaiah. prophet of Exile awaited, survived and returned from, wrote of our simple ways and God’s mysteries of Grace:
If you remove the yoke from among you, the pointing of the finger, the speaking of evil, if you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted, then your light shall rise in the darkness and your gloom be like the noonday. The Lord will guide you continually, and satisfy your needs in parched places, and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters never fail. Your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to live in.
As the loons haunt the dim dawn light with their forlorn wails as if begging for something close to truth to be recognized in the coming light, the not quite still lake undulated softly the moon caught by it’s liquid mostly-water.
are many powerful and privileged people of luxury far beyond
necessity or souls’ enjoyment who fear the light, not of a simple
day’s dawn, but the light that dawns as the truth is revealed.
There are more people who look to this dawn of brilliant Truth with expectation of exoneration and finally, finally real justice through which real mercy is possible.
When the Light comes we will have a double victory: for ourselves and for you, our oppressors.
When skiing in the mountains on a slope with
trees on it
I’ve taught more than a few people how to ski. Invariably we arrive on top of a slope where there are trees at least dotting the slope. The student looks with apprehension. I say respect the trees, but do not fear them. Do not look at them or you will head straight into one of them. Look at the snowy hillside between the trees where you want to ski.
Three Lessons full of Trees
OT: The self deluded Teacher Fool
We heard the Teacher in today’s first Lesson say:
Vanity of vanities! … All is vanity.
Our labour produces great results but our results are left to others, who may be wise or foolish.
It is tempting to think he may be right: that God has created, humans have worked, and nothing is worth anything. But the Teacher’s wisdom is a big forest of trees of hopelessness. Here God’s truth disappears like the misty fog evaporating with the rising sun. Then any lie can be presented as if true. Despair takes on all sorts of guises. Instead of being thankful, one demands more and more of things that cannot fill the empty void that should be one’s heart. This kind of life is at war with itself and the ensuing conflict and chaos allow one to hide from accountability, hope, love and even Jesus.
NT: The Different Life of Lists
In contrast the writer of Colossians reminds us that Christ raises us differently, into life free from what destroys us. The writer then presents us with lists of things to leave behind: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry), anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language. Do not lie to one another. These are more trees to avoid.
exception would be passion, though as all God’s gifts, passion can
be abused and used as a destructive force in one’s own life and in
the early Christians, including the Colossians, expected Jesus to
return in their own lifetimes, their sense of urgency valued the
freedom of celibacy and devalued the ties of passion. But God created
passion as an important and healthy motivation for much of life
including marriage, parenting, care of the earth and the building of
a just society.
Gospel: Using Jesus for Greed
Today’s Gospel is a great parable within a parable: A man comes to use Jesus to get an inheritance from his brother, against the tradition of the time. Through the ages we human beings have more than perfected the use of Jesus or Religion to pound others down and try to feed our own greed. Greed is related to gluttony.
“A glutton is (a person) who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition.”
(Wishful Thinking, F Buechner)
Gluttony and Greed kill us as we try to eat or possess more than we can stand. To teach us this, Jesus tells a parable of the pathetic wealthy man who after a great harvest, builds new barns to hold it and anticipates the remainder of his life as an easy retirement. But his possessions are the end of him. It’s all for naught!
Lots of Trees to Avoid
That gives us lots of trees to avoid. There is precious little of what we should aim for. It’s like skiing down a mountain and all we see are trees.
Where is Grace
So where is the Good News?
NT: Look above
The writer of Colossians points us to set our minds on things that are above. So looking up ever since we lived in caves we see the stars, the moon and the sun. Aided by the passionate drive of George Ellery Hale, and so many others, to see and learn more by building bigger and better telescopes in the last 100 years, what we see is astoundingly mind boggling. (E.g. see the documentary Journey to Palomar) Before, we knew the earth, one of nine planets, revolved around the sun. Now, we’ve seen numerous planetoids, one being Pluto, so there are only eight planets. We know our sun has a magnetic field, with flares that cause the northern lights and disrupt satellite communications. We know about galaxies, that most of the matter in the universe is invisible, that the universe is expanding and the universe is so, so much larger than we ever imagined! We have not found alien life, but in the immense expanse of the universe it is probable, if not guaranteed. We have seen God’s handiwork in the awesome expanse and workings of the universe and begun to understand their impact on our daily lives. Are these ‘the things above’ that we are to aim for? Maybe not, one would quickly say. But then perhaps we ought not be too quick to decide.
Rest of Scripture
With so many trees in our lessons, we look to the rest of Scripture and the Christian Church’s history, to guide us to the joy of life ‘skiing’, as it were, without hitting the trees.
We believe that God is Trinitarian. God is three in one. In part that means that the basic reality of God is that God is in relationship. We are created in God’s image, so we know we are created to be in relationship.
God Loves, We love
Luther taught that the core of the Gospel could be summed up in one short passage “ God so loved the world that God sent his only Son so that everyone believes in Jesus may have eternal life.” God loves – us … and the whole universe God created! In relationships we are to love one another and all of creation. The Teacher’s wisdom is folly because he ignores other people as God’s good creatures. Work is not to be hated, rather it is to be joyful and rewarding precisely because it provides for others, just as God has provided for us! The pathetic farmer in Jesus’ parable is consumed by his possessions because he has no sense that his bounty is a gift from God entrusted to him to be shared with others.
God’s Grace and Work
We know God’s Grace for us. We know that God comes to us, forgives us, makes us righteous before God, by Grace (in other words, as a gift that we do not earn!) We know that God does this first, then we can get down to living and working as God’s own children in this marvelous creation.
Riches with God
In today’s Gospel Lesson, Jesus points us ‘to build up riches with God’. It is easy to understand that our ‘riches with God’ are what God gives us, namely God’s Grace and all that flows from it.
Our work: Response, because … therefore
We know then our work is NOT to make ourselves good enough for God. Everything we do is to be a response to God’s Grace for us. Because God makes us Good, perfect before God, therefore we can fully engage in creation. We can be passionate about life and the goodness of creation, so that we can share the necessities of life and the wonders of the universe with ALL other people, in the present and for all generations to come. The Teacher in Ecclesiastes had no room for any passion for sharing the beauty of life with others. He had no passion to know that God’s love moved God to speak a word “Let there be Light,” and after 7 days to say, “it is good!” In the resulting blessed creation of order and beauty, we can be passionately engaged in the wonders of the universe. We can share this life with another person with the passion of a marriage. We can invest in friendships that carry us, our friends, and people around the world through the trials of life. Sharing God’s riches brings us to be so passionate about life that we can expend all of our lives striving to see and share our place in God’s awesome universe. For some of us that may mean building bigger and better telescopes. For all of us it means respecting but leaving behind the ‘trees’ of judgment, condemnation and lists, sharing instead God’s Grace with all people. We can choose to make justice a reality for each person.
Sharing God’s riches is possible for everyone. We could choose not to share God’s riches. But why would we?
Story: We Ain’t Poor by Florence Ferrier
In the story We Ain’t Poor! the Sheldons, a large family in the Appalachians, live in severe financial distress after a series of misfortunes. They receive inadequate assistance, yet they manage their meager income with ingenuity — and without complaint. One fall day the social worker “visits the Sheldons in the ramshackle rented house they lived in at the edge of the woods. Despite a painful physical handicap, Mr. Sheldon had shot and butchered a bear, which strayed into their yard once too often. They canned it so that there would be meat even during the worst of the winter when their fuel costs were high. The social worker reported: “Mr. Sheldon offered me a jar of bear meat. I hesitated to accept it, but he said kindly and firmly. ‘Now you just have to take this. We don’t have much, that’s a fact; but we ain’t poor!’“[In astonished disbelief, the social work asked, ‘How can you say that?’] His answer proved unforgettable. “’When you can give something away, even when you don’t have much, then you ain’t poor. When you don’t feel easy giving something away even if you got more’n you need, then you’re poor, whether you know it or not.’”
(Gospel Notes 2001, Brian Stoffregen, reworked TL)
Look at the World all around you! … God has made us Rich and given us the ability to see more and more of the universe as God’s amazing creation … Can we say ‘We ain’t poor!’? Amen
it that, in coming to pass, would fulfill your life? Not just your
dreams, but the expectations of the community you live in, and of
your church. What would fulfill all that God intended you to be?
The Gift of the Magi, O Henry
radio adaptation of O Henry’s The Gift of the Magi a young couple
has two precious belongings in their otherwise poverty captured
lives: his heirloom golden pocket watch, and her flowing hair that
would put the jewels of the Queen of Sheba to shame. In a shop window
they see an exquisite pair of bejeweled shell combs that match her
hair perfectly. But they are unimaginably expensive.
to the other as Christmas Eve arrives, he buys the combs for her, and
she buys for him a silver chain perfect for his watch. But the price
for each of the gifts is so high.
the ‘one thing’ of all your dreams?
Martha’s, Mary’s and Our ‘One Things’
Martha invites Jesus into her home one thing fully occupies her:
respecting an ancient tradition as hostess she must provide for her
one thing on her mind, and it has nothing to do with Martha’s busy
concerns. Mary sits attentively listening to Jesus.
it true how as listeners we do not worry about the preoccupied doers’
tasks and obligations. And as doers we are offended by the lazy,
unrealistic listeners or talkers who do not help with the obligations
that must be met!
you are a doer or a listener, what is the one thing that you dream of
that would make life good and fulfill all that God intended you to
Sitting by the Oaks of Mamre
OT lesson for today Abraham sits under one of Mamre’s oaks in the
midday heat, recovering from his recent circumcision.
one of Abraham’s three allies. Abraham and Sarah have no land. They
squat in tents by Mamre’s oaks. Eventually Abraham will buy a piece
of land near the oaks. There in a hewn cave Abraham buries Sarah.
Isaac and Ishmael, the son of Hagar, bury
Abraham there. Jacob and Esau, the estranged twins
together, bury Isaac there. Jacob buries Leah there. Joseph
returns from Egypt to bury Jacob there.
God Comes Strolling Up
and Sarah do not go to God to find him. God comes as three strangers,
yet one, strolling up to their camp at the oaks of Mamre, where they
have built an altar to worship God.
Observant, Inviting, Busy, and Attentively
beseeches the Strangers to pause to receive his hospitality as
required by ancient custom. They accept, which sets Abraham, Sarah
and their servants all into a flurry of action preparing a feast!
stands listening attentively under the oaks as the Strangers eat.
Stranger asks after Sarah by name and includes her in God’s
restated Promise. She shall bear Abraham a son when the Stranger
and Abraham listened to God. They risked everything to leave home.
They have established themselves in the new land with reputation,
herds and flocks, servants, and a place they borrow to call home.
Though God has promised many times God has still not blessed them
with a son. For an heir is the one thing they lack to fulfill God’s
purpose for them: to inhabit this new land.
What is our ‘one thing’ we dream of?
the one thing that we wish and dream for that will make life good?
What is it that, in coming to pass, would fulfill our lives by
completing for us all that God intends us to be as children of God?
A Canoe, a Boat (the Church)
has one purpose, to traverse the waters without sinking. It may
require at least one person handy with a paddle, and the ability to
launch the canoe, and to secure it from theft and storms between
uses. But the canoe is not purposed to sit on land, or in a garage,
or to be hidden under a tree or set out in the sun to rot. A canoe is
made to traverse the water as early as the misty dawn of light that
pushes back the fog, and as late as the last drop of sun light
recedes below the horizon after sunset.
of us have one purpose? Is there one thing that in the doing we would
fulfill our purpose, the purpose for which God created each of us?
God Comes to Us: We do the Works of the Righteous
clear in today’s OT and Gospel lessons: We do not need to go to God
to fulfill our purpose. God comes to us, names us, and calls us. God
comes many times to us, as God does to Abraham and Sarah, as Jesus
does to Martha and Mary. God builds a relationship with us. We
do not build a relationship with God, we are not the builders; we are
the clay and God is the Potter. As Abraham and Martha, so we too can
only be attentive and welcome God, in whatever guise God arrives in
God do to give you a fulfilled life?
Maudie, the movie: How Can She Be Happy!
One would hardly think that Maud Lewis would be happy.
As the movie Maudie portrays her, she was born an invalid, able to walk but not well. She bore a child, the result of incest, who she was told was so invalid the baby died. But the baby was healthy and sold by her brother, never to know Maud as her mother. Maud’s parents die, her aunt takes her in, and treats her as if she cannot care for herself. They treat Maud as a nobody.
So Maud strikes out on her own to work as a live-in housemaid for a simple man. But Everett hits her, is at best grouchy and at worst impossible. She prevails and starts to paint flowers on the walls in the dingy one room house in rural Nova Scotia. Eventually the two fall in love and are married.
Maud goes on to sell numerous small paintings, most for pennies and some for only a few dollars.
people travel to buy her paintings. She is even commissioned by
Richard Nixon among others. But she lives in poverty her whole life.
In a TV
documentary on her, which makes her more famous, she smiles, and
paints within the small reach of her arthritic hands, arms and body.
Her aunt on her death bed astounds Maud by asking her about her appearance on TV: How come, of all of us in the family, you, Maud, are the only one who turns out to be happy?
Curmudgeon and insecure Everett gets fed up with Maud’s success. Fearing Maud will leave him, he forces her out. When he finally visits her at her friend’s he asks clearly if she will leave him for someone better.
To her aunt’s question about how she turns out to be the one who is happy Maud responds: “I am happy with whatever, as long as I have a paintbrush in my hands.”
Everett when he asks if she will go off with someone better than him,
she responds simply and completely:
have everything with you that I have ever wanted.”
The Gift of the Magi: the cost so high, yet Rich
beyond their dreams!
Christmas Eve James and Della discover that she has sold her hair to
buy him the chain for his watch and he has sold his watch to buy her
the precious combs. So they set their gifts aside and sit down to
their coffee and supper of meat … with each other.
is more precious than her hair or his watch, more precious than his
silver chain or her precious hair combs? Most precious in all the
world is their love for each other, and their loving sacrifices made
for the other. They are poor, but their love makes them the richest
people on earth.
Jesus: One Thing
Martha’s Jesus says only one thing is needed. He is not clear what
that one thing is. It is left up to us to discover.
it that, in coming to pass, would fulfill our lives? Have we
discovered it, for this time and place?
Happy are they who know God’s ‘One Thing’
earth moves through space and time we are not unnamed nobodies. God
comes to each and all of us wherever we are and relates to us.
our ‘One Thing’ be anything other than our Knowing that
God knows our names, claims us, redeems us, loves us, inspires us,
gives us work that has great meaning, and gives us people who we love
and who love us, even if they are curmudgeons or our enemies.
The Church, the Boat
ancient symbol of the Church is a boat, a boat to traverse the waters
of life. It carries us as we give God thanks for all the challenges
of travelling to a new land where we have no home, a borrowed place
where we must wait for God to give us heirs to carry on into God’s
future for the Church.
Our ‘One Thing’
matter our circumstances we can say to our God, “I have everything
with you that I have ever wanted.”
No sermon this past week. Sorry. A few photos though still brighten the horizon even as bleak as it could be.
It was a difficult week again. A judge made an order, full of …. You cannot safely say the truth about judges; though it would be nice if judges would base their work on truth.
This past week has been draining.
Gaslighting is a powerfully terrible thing to experience.
These snippets from a google search highlight just what this is, just how terrible it is, and just how terrible it is that the justice system participates in this. All apologies if any are really needed for just grabbing this information without keeping records to give credit. It’s the kind of thing that after one suffers it, again and again, at one’s spouse’s hand, and then repeatedly at one’s pastor’s, (she was ordained today, just for a sample of God’s justice waiting, and God’s Grace filling undeserving lives), other pastors who have great sins to hide in their false accusations about me, and then almost without ceasing by various RCMP officers, even VSU when I called them, a great number of people working in the justice system, and then again and again at the hand of judges …. It’s the kind of thing that when you have to deal with it again things do not always get done with the correct process. So my apologies.
to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.
Gaslighting is used to describe abusive behavior, specifically when an abuser manipulates information in such a way as to make a victim question his or her sanity. Gaslighting intentionally makes someone doubt their memories or perception of reality. Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse used by narcissists in order to instill in their victim’s an extreme sense of anxiety and confusion to the point where they no longer trust their own memory, perception or judgment. … The emotional damage of Gaslighting is huge on the narcissistic victim. Gaslighting can also be part of an authoritarian personality. A person with an authoritarian personality tends to think in absolutes: Things are 100 percent right or 100 percent wrong. When a gaslighter thinks that they are not the problem and everyone else is, this is called having an ego-syntonic personality.
Signs of being Gaslit
• no longer feeling like the person you used to be. • being more anxious and less confident than you used to be. • often wondering if you’re being too sensitive. • feeling like everything you do is wrong. • always thinking it’s your fault when things go wrong. • apologizing often.
The following from, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/201701/are-gaslighters-aware-what-they-do
… Gaslighting is a pattern of manipulation tactics used by abusers, narcissists, dictators, and cult leaders to gain control over a person or people. The goal is to make the victim or victims question their own reality and depend on the gaslighter. So, do gaslighters know they’re doing it? It depends on the gaslighter.
Living Well, Surviving Gaslighting
There is only one way to survive Gaslighting:
to live well, as well as one can, given the circumstances. I live well, even if the challenges are great.
My work is rough. Outdoors, building, tearing down, moving, rebuilding. It’s a dream for a young man who loves to build things with his hands. It’s tough and rough work for an older man like me, even if I like working with my hand. My hands, precious instruments of my creativity.
I live well.
The sun sets over the lake outside the window. A canoe rests near the water available to take a camera out to create beauty from what can be ordinary. People respond well to my company, my words, and simple joy of life. I receive grace given to me in abundance. I share grace with everyone I meet, and it makes a visible difference, a positive difference.
I help guide a new truck driver from being stuck to safely position her vacuum truck to be able to do her work and be able to drive out. It just took some well placed shovel work, and some good driving, well planned driving.
I cleaned up 5 garbage bags of drunken, drugged, and orgy leftovers out of this random camping area.
I’ve pulled two dead-falls down this past week, one down by a fool with an axe, the other by a strong wind. Who knows what may have happened, but no one will get hurt from them.
The fireworks after 23:00 are loud, but the view is okay. There are no complaints.
The light is wonderful, when one sees it with the truth that God created it to reflect.
Gas – Lighting
It’s the kind of lighting that only God can put right. I can forgive the family stuff, the gaslighting in the family as horrendous as it was. But the professionals: they should know better: their sins are bound. God will deal with their sins, not forgiven but bound. That, because it is my responsibility to forgive all that can be, and to bind what cannot be. I place it behind me so that I can continue to deal with these people of horrendous deeds with grace. I place it behind me and before them for the rest of their lives. God’s truth has no diminished clarity, no possibility of being lied about, nothing to be spun or hidden.
God’s forgiveness, which I have given, remains as clear as God’s light of truth. Photos show reality, the clarity of God’s light shining on God’s wonderful creation.
June 2, 2019 Be One: Love your enemies Easter 7 The story setup
Nice Ice Left Over Hostiles In the movie, the Hostiles, set in 1892 starting from New Mexico a small band of soldiers and their charges, their enemies, ride across the wilds of the west north to Montana. In 1876, just 14 years earlier General Custer made his last stand in the Battle of the Greasy Grass. Before and after that battle both the army and the Indians, (or indigenous warriors we might better refer to them now) engaged in warfare as despicable as ever. Soldiers, non-combatants, women and children were captured, raped, tortured, and killed without reason. The captain in charge of this little band moving north had lost his wife and children to the Indians, learned their languages, joined the fighting against the Indians, killed, slaughtered and revenged death upon death. He lived out his hate under the auspices of the army and he did it better than most. Arriving at a fort in New Mexico with captured Indians, he receives new orders. Orders he cannot stomach. The captain is ordered to escort and protect his enemy, a chief, along with his family, who’ve been held captive 7 years in New Mexico, back to the chief’s home ground in Montana. There the captain is ordered to release his enemy, to give the chief back his freedom. This chief is responsible for the death of the captain’s family. He has engaged in slaughtering settlers, among them women and children, as well as scalping and torturing his victims. He has revenged the killing of his people as effectively as the captain. The captain can hardly believe his orders. He rebels and refuses, threatening to resign his commission. Then it’s pointed out that he will not be allowed to resign. Instead he will be courtmarshalled and stripped of his pension. At that, against every angry bone in his body, the captain begrudgingly accepts his orders. He obeys. As they ride across the wilds of the west north to Montana the captain puts his male prisoners, the chief and his son, in chains. The chief is old and riddled with cancer. He will soon die, which is the reason his request to be allowed to return home is granted.
The view south as we move north Similar stories nonfiction setup There are so many stories like this one. The movie is fiction. But is a fictional story filled with truth. There are so many non-fiction stories like this one. M&B Mizen In May 2008 16 year old Jimmy Mizen from South London was brutally attacked and killed by another boy. His parents could hardly believe it. http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Elements_Love-Your-Enemies-Stories.pdf Gee Walker In 2005 by two racist thugs torturously murder Anthony Walker, 18, with an axe. His parents could not believe it. http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Elements_Love-Your-Enemies-Stories.pdf
It may seem ordinary but … Bishop Pierre-Marie Théas In 1944 one evening in German occupied France, Bishop Pierre-Marie Théas preached a fiery sermon against the persecution of Jews and deportation of French men as forced labourers. The following night he was arrested by the Gestapo. He was sent to a detention camp at Compiègne from where most prisoners were transported to concentration camps in Germany. http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Elements_Love-Your-Enemies-Stories.pdf The normal course: There is no life lived without being hurt by others. Our normal and natural response, built into us by millennia of survival instinct, is to allow hurt to grow into anger, and terrible hurt to grow past anger into rage. Over time, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, we instinctually allow anger and rage to grow into determined revenge. Revenge may become polite comeback. But, fuelled by hatred, our anger becomes vicious payback, just reckoning, and even, in the extreme, murder or even mass murder. We find polite comebacks and even vicious payback short of killing to be somehow expected and acceptable.
Stand Tall in the Dark God’s Doch To that acceptance God says a strong DOCH! But let me put that in a context that will perhaps help us understand exactly what God does with our natural urge towards revenge, polite or vicious, or even outrageous. Intro to Doch As we celebrate the last Sunday in Easter we remember that on Easter, God changed everything. On Easter God undid the laws of causality and set all of us free: God took death and turned it to life; God took despair and turned it into hope; God took the emptiness of consuming and turned us to value each tiny piece of creation. God took everything that breaks us, dosed it in Light and made it into a salve of holy healing which makes us stronger, more compassionate, and more loving than we were before. In the words of Rev. Dr. Anna Madsen, who presented Grace to us at the Study Conference in Canmore a few years ago, God took the world God created good, which we broke bit by bit and said “Doch!” Now if you – like me – don’t know German we need a translation or really an explanation of Doch. Doch, D O C H, has different degrees of intensity. Doch can mean simply ‘Not so’: If I say: “His shirts are wrinkled” and you respond “Doch, he ironed them.” It’s just a few degrees different. Or Doch can be a voracious protest against what is previously stated. It’s a change of many degrees. When a person suffering alone from mental illness cries out in fear of what will come, We say “Doch! We will learn to stand with them, to give people with mental illness what they need to be able to stand tall and function well and live among us!” Or taken to the extreme, Doch can mark a change in the universe. It can be God turning us or the world around 180 degrees. God created the world good, but we broke it, which could be the end of our story! But God says “Doch, Doch, Doch! My Son, Jesus redeems the world.” God constantly changes our paths, by just a degree or by 180 degrees and we end up in completely different places. God’s doch shepherds us. Most people grow up and find their way into a vocation, a career, a job or series of jobs; Doch the prophets, in other words all of us children of God, are called even before we leave the womb to the task of proclaiming God’s Good News with our choices, actions, and lives. This job is not easy or safe, DOCH, God calls us to turn as many degrees as it takes to challenge the throngs of people that have turned away and call them back to God … as many degrees as it takes. It can be dangerous work, fraught with risks. Aber (Ahh Bear) Doch, We, the people of God, will not live afraid of what can be done to us, for God is with us.
The View is wide and wild Emotions not to control, but motivate us There is too much hurt in every single life. Now we cannot stop an emotion. Try to just stuff it down and it’ll just go somewhere crazy on us. But we can choose what to do with any and every emotion that comes our way. We can let it run loose and effect our words and actions OR we can choose to align our choices and actions with our priorities and goals in life. Since our No 1 Priority is to be and do the Good News, then we soon learn, often the hard way, that letting loose with even a bit of revenge, yet alone with outrageous vengeance, and being the Gospel to other people are mutually exclusive. Most emotions own us for about 90 seconds. Our feelings should not be stopped. But we don’t have to hang on to them for even hours yet alone weeks or years. Furthermore raw action should never erupt out of our emotions. DOCH. Our actions should always be a choice of our heart and mind and body, so that we live according to the goals God calls us from the womb to strive toward. Emotions, carefully chosen, can motivate us towards God’s calling for us.
Emotions seem to loom over us, but we can choose how to respond
Themes all Easter In today’s Gospel Jesus prays, “I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” Last week we heard an earlier part of Jesus’ prayer put it more simply. We are to love one another as Jesus loved us, so that by our love the world will know us as Jesus’ disciples. Story of Paul and Silas In the first lesson for today, Paul and Silas heal a young girl who was possessed by a demon. The owners, who were making money with the demon’s ability to tell the future, have them arrested, flogged, and imprisoned. An earth quake hits the city as they sing and pray. The doors are broken open and the chains unfastened. Instead of escaping, Paul and Silas urge all the prisoners to stay put, thus saving the life of the jailor. That jailor is so impressed with the unusual manner that his life is saved that he believes the Gospel that Paul and Silas proclaim. He and his household are baptized.
A view through a grid; Still Christ’s Light Shines Golden
God’s Doch God’s constant DOCH is ‘at all costs, love even your enemy.’
Story resolution Hostiles In the movie the Hostiles, as they ride across the wilds of the west to Montana the captain encounters God’s Doch. As they stop where the chief has returned home and will breathe his last breath in the wild mountains of Montana, the captain says that, though they have each fought against the other, and each has lost so many friends to the other, when the chief dies a piece of the captain will die with him. In obeying the orders he cannot stomach, the captain eventually gives his enemy his last breath in freedom at home, no longer as an enemy, but as a friend. The captain recognizes the gift of life, even in his enemy, as they ride across the wilds of the west to Montana.
In the wild … there is the Light
What about us? As we encounter the terrible ravages of evil that leaves us so wanting for life, can we recognize the gifts of God even in our enemies? Can we give them life at their last breaths, as friends, because God has made us, all of us, while yet sinners, children of God?
Similar stories nonfiction resolutions In the real life of so many people, this is exactly what they chose. Gee Walker After Anthony Walker’s murderers were sentenced Gee Walker, his mother, said: “I cannot hate. I have to forgive them. … Their minds must be very tortured. … Hate is what killed Anthony.” http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Elements_Love-Your-Enemies-Stories.pdf
No Matter, Let the Light Shine
M&B Mizen After her 16 year old son was killed, Jimmy Mizen’s mother Margaret said “I just want to say to the parents of this other boy, I want to say I feel so, so sorry for them. I don’t feel anger, I feel sorry for the parents. We have so many lovely memories of Jimmy and they will just have such sorrow about their son. I feel for them, I really do…. People keep asking me why I am not angry but I say …There is too much anger in the world…. it was anger that killed my son. If I was angry I would be the same as this boy.” On the first anniversary of his murder Jimmy’s father said, “today, for us, was a message of peace, a message of change that we have been gradually working towards over [a] year. … This affects everybody. If somebody is killed in your local park or in your local shop, then this affects you. We didn’t just get here overnight…. If the will … is for it [here and now], we can change.” http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Elements_Love-Your-Enemies-Stories.pdf Bishop Pierre-Marie Théas Bishop Théas was imprisoned for ten weeks with Protestants, Jews, non-believers, trade unionists, young resistance workers, and French officers. When some prisoners asked for a day retreat he preached about forgiveness, and suggested they should pray for their captors. This provoked outrage. Théas replied, “My friends, I cannot proclaim anything except what the Lord said: Love your enemies. No more, no less.” http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Elements_Love-Your-Enemies-Stories.pdf
The extreme story, resolution Cartier and Nixon When former Vice-President Hubert Humphrey died hundreds of people from across the world attended his funeral. All were welcome, but one – former President Richard Nixon, who had recently dragged himself and his country through the humiliation and shame of Watergate. Eyes turned away and conversations ran dry around him. He was being shunned and ostracized. Then the current president Jimmy Carter walked into the room. President Carter, not of Nixon’s party and well known for his honesty and integrity, moved toward his seat, until he noticed Richard Nixon standing all alone. Carter changed course, walked over to Richard Nixon, held out his hand, and smiling genuinely and broadly embraced Nixon and said “Welcome home, Mr President! Welcome home!” Newsweek magazine reported the incident including the words, “If there was a turning point in Nixon’s long ordeal in the wilderness, it was that moment and that gesture of love and compassion.” Source: Reported in Maxie Dunnam, The Workbook on Living as a Christian, pp.112-113 https://storiesforpreaching.com/category/sermonillustrations/love-for-enemies/
Whatever comes our way, God’s Light will shine!
MLKing Martin Luther King dared to suggest that Blacks should have the same civil rights as other Americans. For all he stood for King received death threat after death threat, he was maliciously accused of being a communist, his house had been bombed, and he was jailed over 20 times. Yet in his essay, Loving Your Enemies, he wrote: “To our most bitter opponents we say: ‘We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.’” https://storiesforpreaching.com/category/sermonillustrations/love-for-enemies/ and http://paxchristi.org.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Elements_Love-Your-Enemies-Stories.pdf Jesus Jesus says to us, love one another as I have loved you. Love even your enemies. Us Following Jesus as his disciples is complicated, challenging and sometimes calls us to things we can hardly stomach. But still through words from each other and in so many other ways the Holy Spirit guides us to see Christ loving even our enemies, as we journey through the wilds of our lives, even when our greatest enemy is ourselves.
Whatever, However, Whenever God embraces us, even when we are our own enemies the Light still shines beautifully for us.