He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.
Words of Grace For Today
As we receive from God, we are given the ability to give to others.
God provides for those most in need.
We can provide for those most in need.
The world works out to be a wonderful place to be alive in.
Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster befall a city, unless the Lord has done it?
Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?
Words of Grace For Today
A family of four, the parents of whom had chosen to serve as pastors in the church, arrived back on Canadian soil, ruined by a congregation that had a history of ruining pastors. Financially broke with only two old cars, they needed a place to live. They could not afford a house and rents were kept out of reach by artificial manipulations, to enrich the wealth of the few landlords that lived locally and the many who lived elsewhere.
So, the father decided they would look for property so that he could build them a house. They found and bought a property with an old, falling apart, mouse-infested homestead house on it, he built them a sound and environmentally responsible house, and they had a secure and safe place to live.
It sounds simple.
A young couple in their thirties, living between their parent’s houses, needs a place to establish themselves, to live together and forge their own way in life. They cannot afford anything available on the market, so they look at what they can afford. The best option is a repossessed townhouse that has the carpets ripped up, holes in the walls and doors from feet and fists, and lots of wear and tear everywhere. They buy it and recruit their friends and family to help them ‘make it right’ and safe to live in.
It sounds simple.
Life is much more complicated than the simple stories or dreams we have.
The family of four lived planed that the house would take a better part of a year to build as they lived in that homestead, two bedroom house with an earthen basement. Finances and construction were stressful beyond belief as step by step the father learned what needed to be done in the next step of construction. There was no room for errors or redoing any step. Fortunately a retired house builder volunteered to draw out building plans from his hand drawn design, research the new processes and materials they used, and generally keep the project from going off the rails. The parents both worked, he half time as a pilot, sinking every penny and every minute they had into the building project. In the end they moved into the not quite finished new house when the old house started to fall apart and become unlivable.
It took three years of literal blood, sweat and tears … and a lot of help from friends and family, and in the end the family did have a sound house to live in.
The young couple looked at the ugly, dirty insides of an otherwise sound duplex and estimated that it would be livable in a few weeks. Friends needed a place to live and they would share their new place with them. The friends apartment they were in flooded. The project started with volunteers joining in to gut the townhouse of thousands of nails and staples on the floors, dirt soaked carpets on the stairs, a huge assortment of things stuck into the walls, a folding door that did not work, and … and … and.
The project could not be completed in a few weeks. Drywall patching took that long, as the obvious holes were finished and then less obvious ones were found, outside walls without insulation were discovered, and useless space was made into useful closet space. Dingy curtains came down, ripped out curtain rod supports were removed, rotted baseboards and trim were removed, thousands of nails removed from nearly everywhere, and tens of thousands of pin holes in the drywall were patched. Finally with most of the walls bare, the priming and painted started, a sliding door was custom fit to the poorly designed bathroom near the entrance, the kitchen cupboard fronts were removed, the hinges soaked and cleaned of paint and grime, new paint freshened the kitchen, the upstairs floors were covered with a proper sub-flooring, and finally one, then two, then three rooms had new flooring installed. Painting continued, clean up continued, door bottoms where cut to fit the new floor height, and after cleaning up every day the construction mess, out went all the garbage to the appropriate disposal sites. New material for flooring, baseboards, and the assorted things that had to be replaced came in and were stacked even as the saw dust filled the air from cutting wood. The odd fix like a dryer vent needed to be installed. Appliances arrived. Old ones were carted off.
Four weeks past with painting to be done, trim to be cut, painted, and installed, flooring to be installed, but the end started to look possible in a week or so.
It took more than a month and finally the couple has a place to live and share with their friends.
God provides. Sometimes it requires lots and lots of blood, sweat, and tears to get to the basics, a safe and secure place to live.
God provides all we need, most of all to trust that God is with us, that God is for us, that God saves us. For this the Messiah suffered an agonizing death on a cross, unjustly condemned. Only then, three days later did God raise him back to life, to demonstrate to us hard-headed, hard-hearted people God’s glory is not in quick fixes or miraculous resolutions or taking away our free will. God loves us and wishes us to learn to love God, ourselves, our neighbours and even our enemies. That does not happen overnight or in an instant. It takes much more time than renovating an ugly, dirty townhouse. It takes much more time and effort and investment on our part than building a house from the ground up with the minimum of experience and money.
God’s glory is in saving us from our twisted ways and view of God, God’s creatures, and all of God’s creation.
For us to learn to love God, ourselves, our neighbours and even our enemies takes more than a life time. It takes the bending of time and space and reality that we build around us … until we can see the world and all that is in it as God created it to be … Good!
He said, ‘My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.’
In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.
Words of Grace For Today
Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!
Though we Christians have said this for generations, I would guess that for most Christians and non-Christians the events we celebrate today have had little effect on their lives. Either we simply ignore the consequences that follow from God raising Jesus back to life after being crucified unjustly and cruelly, or we’ve become so accustom to the story, it’s so familiar, that we take it for granted. It’s not like anything we do today is going to change what God did, right?
God keeps trying to reach us, to communicate with us, to bring the Good News to us so that we hear, and accept God’s will for us and all people: that God would love us and have us be that love for each other.
Christ is Risen, and may that make all the difference in the world, for you, for us, and for all the people we can make a difference for …
He grants peace within your borders; he fills you with the finest of wheat.
For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us.
Words of Grace For Today
While we struggle to get more than the next person, or more than we had yesterday, or maybe just enough to survive, we put ourselves in competition with others for limited resources.
Or so we think and say.
It is not so much that resources are unlimited, it is that life abundant does not require that some have so much, and others not nearly enough. More and more and more does not provide life; it only corrupts the life right out of us.
God’s peace, not only between nations, but within our borders, and between us all, even in our families and homes, does not require more and more and more.
God’s peace requires a reality check: we are God’s creatures, ‘they’ are God’s creatures, which means there is no real ‘they’, only ‘us’ all together.
Today we remember that Jesus offered himself as a sacrifice to demonstrate that God is not interested at all in our sacrificing each other in order to ‘get ahead’ or ‘to get our fair share.’
God is very interested in us sharing life, and all that makes up life, with others. Sometimes that looks like we sacrifice our own possessions or privilege or comforts … or even our own lives … in order that others may live. In reality we can only share what God has given us, a loan, as stewards. Everything is intended for everyone. God lived and died as a human to demonstrate that to us as clearly as possible.
Dr. Bonnie Henry points out that during Covid 19 we may all be in ‘the water’ together, but we certainly are not in the same boat. Some have luxury yachts and others are bailing out the dingy to save their lives.
For all the boots of the tramping warriors and all the garments rolled in blood shall be burned as fuel for the fire.
2 Peter 1:17
For he received honour and glory from God the Father when that voice was conveyed to him by the Majestic Glory, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’
Words of Grace For Today
The week we remember Jesus’ last week, with all its normal human agony, scapegoating, and corruption leading to innocent death … and God’s response to all human sin.
We humans struggle against each other for advantage and privilege and comforts, struggling until violence consumes us and blood covers the boots of those fighting for us, often covering our own boots as we try to provide our own future advantages.
God promises that those boots and the blood on them will be burned as fuel for a fire. The fire of God’s triumph over evil and our sinful ways.
We still struggle against each other no matter how much God promises, no matter how many blood covered boots burn. God sends his son, and blesses him. God is pleased with Jesus, for Jesus is a word that we humans can understand, a life, a death, a resurrection. God’s NO to scapegoating. God’s YES to life no matter what comes our way.
We still struggle against each other.
So we remember.
We remember the last week of Jesus’.
We remember how God gives everything to demonstrate to us how much God loves us, forgives us, and gives us renewed abundant life.
Every day we have the ability to share that love, forgiveness, and abundant life with all people.
The Lord will become king over all the earth; on that day the Lord will be one and his name one.
Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.
Words of Grace For Today
The Day of the Lord has many names. It is the day when all the wrong, sin, and evil that humans have perpetrated against each other and against creation and against God will cease and the after-effects will cease as well.
In human terms the rule of unjust humans over others will cease, and God will be king over all the earth and over all people; justice and truth, mercy and compassion, forgiveness and life-giving love will be the way humans will interact with each other.
In divine terms, all that is accursed will no longer exist. The city of God, the New Jerusalem, will be founded (or revealed to us). Jesus is the sacrificial lamb, given to convince us in terms we understand, that God forgives and loves us unconditionally – and that there is no limit to the lengths God will go to to forgive us and more, to convince us we are forgiven. Except God will not violate our freewill as beings capable of love. God will love us, forgive us, walk with us, stand by us, care for us, guide us … but God will not take away our ability to love ourselves, each other, all creation, and God.
This Jesus will no longer be a sacrificial lamb. He will be raised to the most exalted position, to sit on God’s throne, ruling with sacrificial love, over all the universe.
The Day of the Lord has many names and many images and many hopes expressed in them.
The Day of the Lord is the day when all that is wrong will be set right.
Those who benefit from the wrong that is now perpetrated and live lives of comfort will cease to live in comfort. They rightly fear and deny that the Day of the Lord will ever come.
The great majority of humans who have ever lived, and the great majority of those who live on earth now, will no longer suffer the ignominy of being forced to provide comforts and luxuries for others at the expense of the basic necessities of life, and even their lives. For the great majority of humans the Day of the Lord is the expression of hope that provides the little comfort available to them; on that day all will be set right, and those responsible and blithely benefiting from the wrong will no longer exist.
The Day of the Lord has been anticipated for generation upon generation … and is yet to come to be. Still we do not give up hope that God will set right all the wrongs that are done against us. We do not give up hope that God will set right the little wrongs (and not so little) that we do to each other.
Freedom. Hope. Life based solely on forgiveness and love.
We are not yet at the Day of the Lord.
For now, our sins give witness to God’s response to our failings: God forgives and loves and renews us.
For now, we get to be bearers of the Good News that God has placed before us in many and various ways, and in Jesus’ life, death and resurrection: namely that the substance of life is love, and the glue that holds it together, and the lubricant that makes it still move is unconditional forgiveness and love.
For now we have quite the life to live and to live that life in the full expectation of the Day of the Lord pulling us forward through each day’s challenges (including all that Covid 19 makes more obvious.)
My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they stand at attention.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.
Words of Grace For Today
God, who comes to our rescue, who delivers us again and again, who sanctifies us making us holy and thus wholly capable of bearing the Good News of Grace to all people … God, who loves us, is the One who spoke a Word in the beginning before anything including time, spread out a right hand to create the heavens, laid the foundation of the earth.
The universe was not created by some godlet. Nor is our God some inconsequential being, to be ignored or dismissed.
It’s more than ‘turtles all the way down’ that the earth is founded on; it is founded on unconditional love.
In the beginning was the Word. We later came to know this Word as Jesus, the communication from God in a human life; the language we can understand.
The heavens and earth may come to attention when God summons them. God did not create us so bound to God’s Word. We get to really mess up terribly, ignoring the Creator and the Word if we so choose … which we humans do all too often.
The Word came to communicate that God accounted for our rebellion and sin and evil. God forgives us our rebellion and sin and evil, and sets us right with God our Creator and Sustainer. Thus we may forge ahead each day, each minute, not hounded and horrified by the depth and breadth of our past rebellion and sin and evil. We may live free of that, and bind ourselves anew to receiving God’s blessings in such an abundance that they spill off us to those around us; they flow through us to others even emptying us … purifying us and taking the life right out of us as we become the bearers of God’s Good News of Grace to all people: God loves us!
Now with God standing with us, why would not the hoards of armies surrender to us making noise? Why would the walls of Jericho not crumble at our trumpets’ calls? Why would the chaos of un-creation void (the ocean waters) and the storms of chaos breaking in through the heavens not obey the Word spoken: ‘Be still!’
May our hearts be also stilled this and each day, from the chaos of fear, false pride, jealousy, and greed, so that we can calmly face the challenges of each day, even if it is one day among many of a pandemic.
Meet the challenges with patience and assurance that God is with us, saving us, guiding us, inspiring us to do holy things for all peoples.
The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.
2 Corinthians 3:5
Not that we are competent of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us; our competence is from God.
Words of Grace For Today
Who are we?
We are fallible and arrogant, needing reminders regularly of how fragile our grasp on reality, truth, and goodness are.
We are able to give God all God is due: our lives in service to others so that they may experience and know the Grace of God which gives us renewed life, even though we deserve nothing but condemnation and expulsion to the emptiness of the Void.
Rather than giving us what we are due, God forgives us, redeems us, renews us and sanctifies us so that we can reflect the Light of the World to all in need.
It is only because God so constantly renews us and makes us holy (sanctifies us) that we are able to do anything good.
The human tendency is to forget God, God’s gifts, and claim all that is good is our own doing. This is a foolish error that costs us so much each day, and it costs so many other people so much each day.
We may think we make plans that we are capable of carrying out. So it is only with sinful plans! Any good plans we make, as well as the steps we take, are possible only because God has saved us from ourselves and through the Holy Spirit permeating our being inspires us to things so much better than we could ever do or imagine on our own.
God does not control us like a puppeteer. God inspires us, and if Luther is correct, we can at most surrender to doing what God asks of us and moves us to be and do. We, on the other hand, have free will (not to do good) only to do sinful and evil things, selfish things, destructive things, common things … and then lie to ourselves about how ‘good’ our evil ways are.
Oh, God, save us from our own sin, and the deceptions that allow us to think we can be anything without you! (Like thinking we can plan our own good way.)
God, help us to see the wonders of being and doing as you inspire and enable us.
God, help us extend this same Grace to all other people, sinful and evil as they are.