We Are Self-Made and Successful! … Quatsch!

Saturday, July 31, 2021

As God Brings Roses to Bud

so God alone Brings

Wealth and Prosperity to Us.

Deuteronomy 8:18

Remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth, so that he may confirm his covenant that he swore to your ancestors, as he is doing today.

John 3:27

John answered, ‘No one can receive anything except what has been given from heaven.’

Words of Grace For Today

George was retired, having raised two children, succeeded in business, and married a very good woman. He continued to his last days to call Rena ‘my princess’.

Rena was impressive, more so than George. She was a bank manager, then a retired bank manager, living in the suite above the bank with a view out over the ocean … past the pulp and paper mill with all it’s terrible smell until the very last years of her life when it ran cleaner, though hugely cut back – a loss to the one-industry local economy.

Both George and Rena continued to be generous with their property, sharing the lake cabin with many people, us included. The cabin was on the lake, literally floating on the lake. That’s a wild idea for any Canadian who sees all the lakes freeze and freeze hard every winter. It was possible because they lived on the west coast, the lake never froze and in the days when they established their cabin cedar logs as floats were to be had.

George and Rena contributed generously to the local church, where we got to know them. They made modest financial contributions. Their real contributions were their talents. Rena served as treasure, cleaning up some real problematic messes made by less than clear headed councils, pastors and treasures and one treasure that was obviously less than honest about separating his own and the congregation’s money.

George was a available most any time, helping in every way possible. He welcomed everyone who came and helped them to want to keep coming back. He gave people room to make mistakes and be forgiven; he gave everyone another chance. Sometimes he was gruff but you never had to guess what he was thinking. Rena was gentle, always able to make the best of any situation. Together they became good friends to many people, us included.

While many other people have contributed in so many ways and many of them have given much of themselves and their wealth, few have demonstrated so clearly that their success is not dependent on their own efforts alone, or even majorly. They knew and clearly demonstrated that everything they had was a blessing from God and their duty was to share it with as many people as possible.

Which leads us to ask (as the readings do as well), what do we have and how do we share it?

(Quatsch is a German expression close to BS! in English.)

Plumb line – Remember & Pray

Monday, July 26, 2021

Even the blessing of a sandy beach

Can be darkened by a dirt.

All is possible in God’s creation,

Good and Evil.

Amos 7:2-3

When locusts sent by God had finished eating the grass of the land, I said, ‘O Lord God, forgive, I beg you! How can Jacob stand? He is so small!’ The Lord relented concerning this; ‘It shall not be,’ said the Lord.

1 Timothy 2:1

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings should be made for everyone.

Words of Grace For Today

God sends locusts and then plagues that devastate Israel. Amos begs God to forgive the people, and God does. Yet God establishes a plumb-line in Israel’s midst, and God will not pass them by … yet then Amos reports:

The Lord said, ‘See, I am setting a plumb-line in the midst of my people Israel; I will never again pass them by; the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste, and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.’

God follows up relenting and forgiveness with full desolation of Israel’s high places and sanctuaries, with their enemy rising up powerfully with the sword against them!

This does not seem like God provides much of a life for Israel. The message is clear: God does not protect anyone, not even the most blessed, from the consequences of sin and evil in the world, their own sin and the sin other others around them, and the evil that would take all we build up as signs of our prosperity and security we provide ourselves.

Paul, knowing full well the price that can be suffered by even himself though he deserved none of the persecution directed at him, advises the younger disciple Timothy (and all of us reading the letter so many generations later) to continue in practising his (our) faith by making supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings for everyone.

We cannot save ourselves. Nor can we save others from the evil and consequences of sin that is possible since God has given us the freedom to choose to love God and all creation.

We can remember that God has saved us.

We can remember that God has saved us and continues to save us each day.

We can remember that God has saved us and continues to save us each day though we do not deserve it.

We can remember that God has saved us and continues to save us each day though we do not deserve it, at no cost to us, fully paid for by Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s Good Will for us.

We can remember to pray … each day …

in thanks for all God does for us

and for all people, that they would also remember God’s mighty, blessed works for them.

Hang in There, Remember God’s Promises

Friday, July 23, 2021

Evil Uses Lots of Smoke and Mirrors!

By God’s Grace We Stand Tall

Leaning on God’s Truth and Promises!

Psalm 119:148

My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.

Luke 2:19

But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart.

Words of Grace For Today

Tina was beside herself, as Arnold insisted again she had to tell her ex to stop asking the church to pray for his brother would had a rare and deadly form of cancer. Though she had no inkling how terrible it would become she felt everything was taken from her already. This was unbelievable. Arnold had done everything possible to drive her ex from town, and to erase all traces or mention of him, and now it included the mere mention of his brother’s name in the bulletin, even when Arnold refused to go to church.

It was just last year, when for months as she volunteered to care for Arnold’s neglected children, he had given her very kind attention and then focused attention, and then long conversations after she put the children to bed with tea and his oldest son sitting with them. Then his son no longer was around for the late night tea conversations. He volunteered to help her with a difficult project she had building a fence to hold her goat and dog who ran after cars. He displayed his strength and eagerness to help her out, though he did bring the children along and left them with Tina’s husband who was working writing to a deadline. The children, grieving their mother who’d killed herself just a year ago, were out of control, playing and fighting, making writing impossible for her husband.

The turning point came when Tina was out working on the fence with her daughter and a friend, who knew Arnold all too well. He texted her a brief and desperate message that as he was returning from a counselling session in a town 2 hours away, he’d collapsed at the wheel, pulled over where the cell reception was poor to nil and had called 911. The message was cryptic. At first Tina ignore it and went back to work on the fence. Then it sunk in, if Arnold texted her he must have no one else to ask for help. He had given her his wife’s set of keys for everything, with even the safety deposit box key on it. Tina stopped the fence work and started driving. She called 911 and was told that Arnold’s car was parked off the road, but it should be picked up as soon as possible, and that he had been taken to the nearest hospital, which was closer than where his car was parked.

Tina stopped at that hospital to let Arnold know she would get his car with the keys he’d given her. Instead Arnold wanted her to take him home. So she did. She and her husband returned later that day to retrieve his car. Tina had become Arnold’s only confidant and person to call in an emergency.

In the next month’s Arnold found every situation possible to be with Tina, to help her, to ask for help from her. He was romancing her. And it worked. They started a sexual affair, though the emotional affair was in full swing months before. Arnold was charming, too charming. Tina dismissed as survivor’s guilt his confession that he’d driven his wife to kill herself. He begged her not to just have an affair with him, and they planned to get married after Tina divorced her husband.

It had seemed so wonderful, Arnold telling her in every text 20 times a day that he loved her. Her husband had long since taken her for granted and said very little that was romantic. Everything was work for him. She’d always come in second to his work, but he was kind and they loved each other in simple and profound ways that had worked for them for 24 years and two children who were grown up.

After she moved in though it was challenging at first. Arnold wanted to rewrite their history, insisting that Tina and her husband’s marriage was completely broken, that Arnold had not caused their divorce. He tried to get Tina to say things that simply were not true. She danced around the issue as much as she could. Then Arnold insisted that her husband had brought her to town this past year just to get rid of her to him, the new widower. A bit later Arnold insisted that Tina’s husband was doing things that Tina knew he’d simply not bother to do, things that were unkind to other people he worked with. Soon Arnold started telling made up things about others that he worked with, that he’d known through his wife. The stories were ugly. He had lots of stories of being abused by his wife. Tina was sympathetic, not knowing how much was Arnold’s making up lies about others to cover terrible things he’d done.

Right away Arnold started to isolate Tina from her friends, her extended family, and then from her own children, and her ex-husband. Then he made her call her ex and tell him to stop having the church pray for his brother or someone would get hurt.

Then within months Arnold started to tell stories to Tina about Tina herself, things that Tina had supposedly done that she knew she had not done, or did she, it was hard to know anything anymore with all the things that Arnold told her about others and herself.

She started to hate herself for what she had ‘done’ that Arnold told her she’d done, or for how terrible she dressed, or how she did not take care of the home correctly. It was always something, something small. Together though it was too much to bear. She turned to counsellors for help. All of them were of little help. She turned to her doctor who was also Arnold’s doctor. The doctor kept prescribing more and more medications that had side effects that required more medications and treatments and even a breathing machine for nights. Night sweats started to drench Tina each night. She was tired all the time. She lost 60 pounds in two months. She tried to read and could not focus. It was a living hell. Always Arnold was there to tell her she was not doing things correctly. She noticed that when Arnold did something wrong he often blamed her as if she had done it. But he loved her, so he would not do that would he? She told herself it was her fault or he was grieving the death of his first wife. When her divorce was finalized Arnold refused to plan a wedding. He just promised that it would be just like they were married.

Tina planned for months to finish this and that for Arnold and then she was going to kill herself. Arnold told such great stories about his first wife, even though she abused him! It was the only way Arnold would start to love Tina.

The planned day was coming up that week, but Arnold laid into Tina and she moved her plans ahead to that day. She bought a bottle of alcohol, and later that night after the kids were put to bed, she took half the 38 sleeping pills left in her prescription bottle, sat in her truck in the drive (so as not to devalue the home as Arnold’s first wife had), locked the doors and drank the alcohol.

Fading in and out of consciousness Tina noted that one of the children found her, later that the oldest came and did little to help, then a friend of Arnold’s showed up, a mean conniving man. Finally Arnold showed up. He and his friend dragged Tina inside. On the couch the friend said they should just let Tina ‘sleep it off.’ But Arnold insisted they take her to the hospital. It was too late.

Too late to pump Tina’s stomach. She woke up three days later.

The doctor took her off the medication that Arnold had suggested she take, which had the possible side effect of making one suicidal. She was free!

Free of all the fatigue, the depression, the unrelenting anxiety. She was not free of Arnold’s abuse though. She did not recognize the abuse for what it was, yet. She struggled each time Arnold told her she was going to kill herself. He wanted her to try again, and succeed this time.

Each time Tina was beside herself, though she had no inkling how terrible it would still get.

She prayed each morning, each night, and many times each day. She called on God’s promise to be with her. She remembered that Mary had heard promises, and suffered terribly as her son was crucified. She worked to be a blessing, to recognize the blessing God gave her, that she had enjoyed for years and that she had survived her attempt to escape. Not even now was she free.

She knew she was immune to killing herself. She knew the dark whirlpool of darkness that had sunk down over her, and would again if she let it. She practised each time it showed up at resisting even the shadow of that darkness. She knew she was immune to killing herself. She told Arnold exactly that as many times as he accused her that she would kill herself, tried to drive her to it. She would survive but she had no idea what Arnold would do to her.

She pondered all the things she knew, and to this day cannot comprehend the cruelty of all the people Arnold convinced to do her harm, as if she were the one that was a threat to him! She still cannot believe the lies that Arnold told and tells; and the illness that he must suffer to be able to lie so and convince himself and others it may all be true, or at least true enough to have fun at her expense.

She pondered, and prayed, and held on to God’s promises. None of that would save her from the amassed cruelty that would be focused and dumped on her. So many people joined in the lies, knowing it all to be lies. They recorded their laughter, their fun, their lies, even the judges that convicted her. She had no idea how cruel people could be to a kind, loving, caring step-parent.

This also is the life God gives us, that people are free to choose to turn from God, from truth, from reality, and then to torture others trying to force them into exile or to death.

To counter the power of evil that is real and powerful against goodness and us in this life, we need to pray at each watch of the night, meditating on God’s promises so that we can treasure all God’s words and ponder them in our hearts each day.

Only by Grace can we survive the onslaught of evil that will be worked against us, like Tina and so many others, though perhaps in more or less obvious ways.

God promises us this Grace. Hang on to it, for our lives depend on it.

Blessed Discipline For Wisdom

Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Living for Christ

Is A Simple Way,

An Impossible Way,

The Only Way

to Live.

Proverbs 3:11

Do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof.

James 3:17

The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.

Words of Grace For Today

Wisdom is hard to come by.

For oneself and even harder to find in others, almost impossible to find in others who have power and position. Partiality and hypocrisy run rampant in humans, especially those who live with much whether that is power, position, wealth or possessions.

The wisdom that God would have us live out with our lives is not complicated, nor difficult to find, and it is not even rare to see (at least glimpses of it anyway.)

What is impossible is for us to live by it everyday in all circumstances.

An abundant life includes that we strive to live by this simple wisdom: God loves us, is gracious with us, forgives us, gives us renewed life and sends us to be all that for other people … not once or twice or a hundred or a thousand times, but without end. Because God is gracious to us without end we always have grace to give to others.

Getting to live this simple wisdom does not happen without God disciplining and reproofing us. Getting to live this simple wisdom brings us to receive and give peace, gentleness, mercy, and willingness to yield and to accept and produce good fruits of labour (God’s, God’s people for us, and ours for other people.)

Simple and impossible to live by … yet nothing is impossible for God, and for God to do with us for others.

It’s a wonderful, adventurous, and enthralling life, one that takes all our everything and returns to us more than we thought life could ever possibly provide … except God is the provider and the life is always more than we could imagine.

These are God’s gifts to us, for which we give thanks each morning, and each night.

Simple, Impossible Wisdom

Except Nothing is Impossible for God!

Monday, July 12, 2021

Kindness

Is the Light

That Guides Us Through

The Thorns of Life to the Goodness God Intends for Us All

Genesis 13:8

Then Abram said to Lot, ‘Let there be no strife between you and me, and between your herders and my herders; for we are kindred.

Romans 12:10

Love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honour.

Words of Grace For Today

Tim’s father, in the movie About Time, has one line written for him that reflects a simple wisdom that many generations have discovered and passed on (from the umpteenth best man’s toast at Tim and Mary’s wedding):

We’re all quite similar in the end. We all get old and tell the same tales too many times. But try and marry someone kind.

When you marry, or you have relatives you did not choose, or friends you may or may not have chosen most everyone’s flaws and faults can be dealt with graciously … if both people are kind.

This is the quality of a relationship that one person in it cannot make up for in the other. One can try to forgive the lack of kindness, but eventually one will run out of energy and succumb in one way or another.

So the wisdom that Paul knew well and recommended to even strangers in a new (potential) congregation in Rome, and the wisdom that is carried for generations in the Abraham and Sarah stories is quite simple, basic, and essential to living abundantly: be kind.

In other words, show honour to each other, let there be no strife between you and your people and others, love one another with mutual affection.

Simple wisdom that is impossible to achieve at all if one is not well practised in being kind.

Being kind is a matter of choice … for a few times each day, but being kind always in all things to all people is impossible except by Grace the Holy Spirit inspires us to be like Christ for other people.

So we are kind … as we are able … and we pray that God will help us to be kind always …

that it may go well for us and our people in the land that God has promised us …

where God has led us to be.

Summer Cool, Always Salt

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

After the unbearable heat

the cool summer mornings

give life to our hearts, minds and spirits.

We are not out of the woods yet though,

more heat is on it’s way!

Jeremiah 29:7

Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.

Matthew 5:13

You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.

Words of Grace For Today

Jesus sends the disciples out into the world to share the Good News, that God has sent Jesus to demonstrate God’s love, forgiveness, grace, and favour bestowed on all peoples.

We are out in the world, now in a world that ‘does not need God’, has no room for God, and pretends that everything is fine (without God.) The Good News is needed more than ever before.

How is this sending by Jesus different than God ‘exiling’ the people of Israel to foreign cities, cut off from their homes? It is done by force, first of all, against the people’s will and established by the sword of a alien ruler, not of faith in God. When Jesus sends the disciples, they choose to follow Jesus and they choose to obey him as he sends them. The exiles are not able to travel ‘back home’. The are captives in the foreign city. The disciples go out and they return ‘home’ to follow Jesus as he goes about the Galilean countryside.

How is Jesus sending the disciples the same as God ‘exiling’ the people of Israel to foreign cities? The passage for today from Jeremiah provides the link: in both sendings God’s people are to seek the welfare of the places and cities where they go. The exiles are more permanent, perhaps life long, and even many generations long. Their well being is intricately tied to the well being of the cities to which they are exiled. The disciples bring nothing with them, so their welfare is tied to the welfare of the places they go as well. The difference for the disciples is that at some point they get to leave the welfare of the places the visit and reclaim the welfare of home as their own, perhaps … if the welfare at home is controlled by people who will welcome them home.

The passage from Matthew ties it together nicely: the quality of one’s life as a disciple of Jesus, as a person of God’s people is not determined by the prosperity of one’s surroundings. Rather one’s life is determined to be of the greatest quality because God has adopted us as children. No matter what comes our way we remain God’s children.

Like salt we do not change as the surroundings around us change. We remain salt.

The danger to our lives is not prosperity or poverty. Each we can deal with easily enough, poverty perhaps more easily than prosperity because in prosperity it is too easy to forget from where the goodness of life comes. We too easily attach goodness to the things of luxury and comfort, rather than to the essentials of life provided always by God’s goodness and grace. Soon we start to assume that we can make it well through life without God’s blessings, grace, forgiveness and guidance. In poverty we do struggle to remain alive, though there are few reasons to doubt that the goodness of life comes not from things, but from God, because so often without any goods or things to divert our attention from God’s blessings we immerse ourselves (in order for life to continue) in giving God thanks for all the goodness that pours over us each day.

We are God’s children. Simple and easy. Like salt it’s not complicated. Like salt too much stops life, but the right amount preserves sustenance through the sparsest of times.

When we lose our saltiness, our simple dependence on God for everything, and our ever present gratitude for everything, then we become useless. We lose grace and have no Good News to share. There is nothing left but to make up nonsense about life. We see so much of that, so much more than we could imagine civilization can endure and still survive.

To this saltiness-lost-world Jesus sends us with Good News.

To this saltiness-lost-world God exiles us to live out the Good News.

Wherever we are or go God walks with us, and guides us to share and hear anew the old, old story of Jesus and his love, for us and the whole of creation.

One step at a time today, again; not towards our goals, but towards God’s will for us.

Hot Party! or Keep Your Cool!

Saturday, June 26, 2021

No Matter What Fogs Up Our View of the World

God Will Bring Blessings Each Day

and the Cool Blessed Days Will Return

Isaiah 12:6

Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Luke 19:37-38

As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, saying, ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!’

Words of Grace For Today

July 1, 2021 approaches and the end of all (almost all) health orders providing restrictions because of Covid 19 will come with it, in Alberta. Unless or until the Delta or some other variant changes everything, again.

Still people are hungry for release, for freedom, for the lack of order that can be filled with their chaos, for ‘life like it used to be’ but really never was – which is always a stupid person’s excuse to want things so simple that dictators can easily take over. There will be a party of all parties, with instances duplicated all over the province, in kitchens, around dining room tables, in halls and in door conference spaces, in tourist destinations and next to the lakes, and in the bush … well that party has already started here, down the way, with fireworks and drinking, smoking and loud music and screaming into all hours of the night. Why not!?! It’s freedom, Right!?

Everyone loves a good excuse to have a party, well almost everyone, or truth be told everyone does except for the introverts (which is estimated to be somewhere between 15% and 50% of everyone).

Jesus enters Jerusalem. He is known to speak with authority and that the authorities are threatened by him. He is the common people’s hope for change. Even though he rides on a foal of a donkey, people shout and throw palms and lay down their garments for his path into the city. Which is a great excuse for a party … and for the authorities it is a great excuse to be rid of him once and for all.

God enters our days, usually quite quietly, walking with us, inspiring us to be the saints forgiven by God that God has made us to be. We make no fanfare.

Jesus is heralded as King with great fanfare, noise, and pomp. Yet he is not the people’s king to free them from foreign dictators. He is King of the universe, and King of our hearts, minds and breath … and of out lives if we continually accept that we need forgiveness, Christ forgives us, and we can live free from sin and the free from the power of the Evil One.

Each morning we have more reason to celebrate, to shout for joy, to bring on a party, than even when Jesus enters Jerusalem.

Yet it is quiet. The sun shines bright and hot on the cool of the morning, so warm already even the song birds are done until evening. The shadows are long from the northeast, the shade provides a momentary cool. God has been here even before it became light and we are quiet, the meadows and woods and lake are quiet. The partiers from last night are now quieted.

There is no need to make loud noises, for this is common, everyday, every place: God is long since been with us.

We pray that God will be with us on 1 July and for months beyond, for Covid 19 is here to stay with us so we pray that the vaccines will stay effective, that the whole world will be vaccination soon, and that we will learn to be the opposite of covidiots – covid-smarts, and all-life-smarts, knowing and trusting God’s Grace as our sole breath and life.

God’s Indignation at and Vindication for Us

Friday, May 28, 2021

It May Seem We’ve Lost Ourselves in the Wilderness

Doch

God Brings Us Back into the Light.

Micah 7:9

I must bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him, until he takes my side and executes judgment for me. He will bring me out to the light; I shall see his vindication.

Acts 9:17

So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.’

Words of Grace For Today

We all walk or run ourselves ragged, running from God’s grace for us and other people. Like Micah we find ourselves bearing God’s indignation. Like Saul we proceed with great enthusiasm with what we believe is our are calling, though it is against God, God’s Will, and God’s people.

God does not leave us there in the darkness of our own sin, and the destruction we bring to others, especially to good people serving God with acts of grace, kindness, and love.

God comes to us, no matter what we have done against God, no matter how great God’s indignation is at what we have done and that we could do it. God comes to us, and stands by us, with grace giving us new sight, so that we can see God’s wondrous work in all creation and in all people.

God comes to us, and against our enemies, vindicates us, by grace, bringing us into the Light that gives life to all creation, the Light of Christ. God comes to us and not only gives us new sight to see God more clearly and new visions that reveal God’s Grace for all people. These new visions define, as they did for Paul, a new calling for us, the calling to follow Jesus, to tell the old, old story of his love, not only with words, but with our thoughts, words and deeds, with our whole being!

God fills us with the Holy Spirit, so that as we move to meet each new day and challenges that are old and challenges that are new to us, we may continue to serve God by being God’s Grace for all other people.

What a miracle, that God, after we sin against God, comes to vindicate us, to give us a new vocation!

What a life of miraculous Grace!

How will we respond this day?

Lord, Teach Us

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Even in the Wilderness

God’s Spirit Moves

Moving Us to Love and Trust God

and

to Love God’s People,

Even the Idiots.

Psalm 86:5

For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.

Luke 11:1

Jesus was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.’

Words of Grace For Today

Lord, teach us to pray.

Our enemies continue to deny their evil deeds, blaming us for the destruction they have wrought, using their corrupted power to assert lies as if they ever could be reality.

Covidiots continue to threaten so many lives as once again they crowd the various campsites with multiple vehicles and units. On site within ten feet of the water draws 1 camper, 7 tents and 9 vehicles, normally this site holds at most two campers. There is no visible sewage facilities, other than perhaps one shared toilet in the one camper. Young adults, most vulnerable now to dying of Covid, play a mere foot from each other around something.

Another site hosts 3 tents and 3 units, normally it hold 1 or 2 units. Another site hosts 3 large units, normally it holds 1 unit. Another has 6 units fit in where 2 units usually occupy the space. Yet another that usually holds 1 unit, has three tents and a biffy tent, the only one among all the sites.

At each site a small to large crowd gathers around a fire, a buffet is set out on a table for all to visit as often as they wish. There are no masks or observances that Covid will kill them with a bare day’s notice, and/or us, and/or many, many other people.

The seasons change, and this year’s normals are last year’s extremes, and we wonder if living in the woods will be survivable for the few years we have left!

So we ask again this morning, this noon, and this night, Lord, teach us to pray, again.

Teach us so that we know our real concerns may be left in your hands, so that evil doers with power, idiots of all kinds who threaten many lives, and the climate changes that will come our way may all be left in your hands as our twilight years approach and we wonder how many years or months or days we have left in this life of wonder.

Teach us to pray.

Lord, teach us.

Abba in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come! Your will be done! (soon please!) on earth as in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from all evil! For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen’

Lord, teach us to pray so that we can live trusting your Grace and Love for us and for all people.

Melodies Disparate and Haunting

Friday, May 21, 2021

Woods, Meadow, Mountains or Plain

We are Always Hungry in the Wilderness

Nehemiah 1:6

Lord, may your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for your servants the people of Israel, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Both I and my family have sinned.

James 5:16

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.

Words of Grace For Today

The smoke at first curls and twists around and down to the ground as the fire starts to burn. The song birds’ melodies from the woods mix with the loon wails across the water. A distant dog barks always hungry that one. Then as the fire develops coals the hotter smoke, still grey and white, takes a straighter path upwards and away. Seagulls in a flock scream and screech across the meadow. The distant dog barks always hungry that one. Two solo geese fly over honking, their mate on the nest keeping an egg, maybe two or more, warm in the sub-zero pre-sunrise cold. Without notice or care the smoke turns transparent, so hot the smoke particles become invisible, until six feet up from the homemade chimney rain cap it cools to become visible grey again. In the distance the dog still barks, always hungry that one.

Our voices rise to God, sometimes in melodies sweet with praise, sometimes sorrowful wails, sometimes honking, calling attention to ourselves (at our best it is not just hubris but to provide a tiny bit of safety for the vulnerable, as the parent ducks and geese do), sometimes in screams and screeches desperate it seems though it too often is not so, and sometimes like smoke our voices rise to God full of all that our lives have consumed, too cool to rise, hot and clouded, or searing hot and invisible.

Always our voices rise to God because we are hungry, always hungry … for the bread of life, the living water, the light of the universe … for love

and we do not understand how to receive all that is already provided to us

so we are always hungry.

Then without notice or care God’s Grace permeates our living, we see the awesome wonders of God’s Love and will for us and all creation and

we are exposed,

so exposed,

exposed

as the sinners, the unfit creatures in a marvellous creation, that we are.

Our response can only be to lift our voices to God with Nehemiah:

Lord, may your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for your servants the people of [fill in your people], confessing the sins of the people of [fill in your people], which we have sinned against you. Both I and my family have sinned.

We cannot confess other’s sins. We confess the sins in which we have participated with others and benefited from, namely the sins of our people of [fill in your people]. We acknowledge our shared sins, and our family sins … and our own personal sins.

This is the first step of becoming aware of God, yet once again, as we traverse our days on the side of God’s holy mountains, in God’s holy plains, and in God’s holy woods and wildernesses.

Confession brings healing so that we then are ready to do what we are called to do,

God’s work bringing abundant life to all people.

And our voices rise to God once again in melodies disparate and haunting … in profound thanks

for all God has provided for us.