Tuesday, September 21, 2021
and Illegal (a ‘Bob’)
for All Sorts Of Reasons
That Hardly Stops Them/Us!
You have rejected us and abased us, and have not gone out with our armies.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-17
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing.
Words of Grace For Today
Bob had struggled to find his way through school. Early on he discovered that he was faster than almost everyone else, so in the school races he always came in first. That was his one success. He did not fit in with the other kids. He learned early on that he could rat out other students. When someone tried to take advantage of him he simply told the teachers and the other student would be made to pay. As he got older he learned that he did not need to report the exact truth, but if he was creative with his tales on students who he did not like, they would get worse punishments. As a teenager his creativity grew, always connected to bits of truths, so that he was rightly feared by other students and by his teachers. Then he learned to rat out his parents to the police, except the ‘rat’ was not at all true, though the police believed him. His parents feared what he would do next. His siblings loathed him.
Bob’s story was riddled with gaining advantage over others by ‘reporting’ them to the police. It was not long before the police figured out the lies were just that, but Bob was ahead of them with his ‘reports’ about the police to the security forces that dealt with all threats to national security. There, the 2nd in command recognized Bob’s ‘gift’, recruited him to be a regular ‘informer’, and Bob had found his calling, fighting for his country by ‘routing out the corruption from within.’ Except what Bob really did was ruin anyone who questioned the security forces and more specifically to the 2nd in command, who soon replaced the security forces commander.
Bob’s ‘war’ bought him privileges and luxuries enjoyed by only a small few. He was promised he’d be able to study as a doctor, his childhood dream. He would study, and then practice medicine, and continue to ‘rat’ out the corruption all around him. His ‘war’ would advance the security of the country.
Then, as is always wont with corruption so rife in totalitarian states, the state failed. Fortunately it was not isolated and left to become a haven for international terror and horrors. Once a part of a rather successful country, that country voted to reintegrate the failed state back into itself. The security informers, so well practised in their perverse reports about neighbours and friends and even family, had no purpose any more. Bob was suddenly left swinging in the wind, medical school was out of reach, and even his family would have nothing to do with him. So he emigrated to another country that would receive him. He lied about anything he needed to in order to get ahead, including his training as an RN to gain a job. In reality he had been allowed to train as a nurse’s aide. He moved to a province where RN’s were desperately needed, falsified his training records (claiming the school records no longer existed after the fall of his childhood state), and sat a written exam to qualify to work as an RN. He’d passed, barely. But now he had a profession as a registered nurse. His exploits did not end there. He continued to threaten and ruin people around him in order to get ahead. More than one person died as a result of his ‘work.’
This was Bob’s history.
This kind of history, this kind of ‘fighting a war’ by sending out ‘armies into battle’ is the kind of ‘army’ that the Psalmist writes about saying: God, You have rejected us and abased us, and have not gone out with our armies. God does not ‘go out’ with any such effort to gain advantage for oneself at the cost of everyone else one encounters.
God’s way for us is on an entirely different route: it is to Rejoice always, pray without ceasing. We can live this way, no matter the challenges we encounter, when we realize that our lives are not given to us for us to use for out own advantage. We receive life in order that we can exercise God’s Grace for others, and often exercising that Grace for others requires that we sacrifice everything we would want from life.
At that point, when we have nothing left, when life is as good as gone from our hearts, minds and bones, then … and only then it seems … can we surrender to the life-saving grace that gives us new life. Then our lives are not our own, but we live fully aware (as much and unfortunately as intermittently as we are able) that we are saved by Grace alone and we owe everything to God. So we ‘pay it forward’ to those God sends our way.
We live, thus, as the saints of light have lived since the beginning of time: as reflectors of God’s truth, light, grace and love. In this way we GET to Rejoice always, pray without ceasing.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
God Ensured Peace,
It Comes With the Territory We Choose to Traverse
In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Words of Grace For Today
Today in Canada we live in a country that operates according to a democracy, with a system of law, with police and a court system to enforce the law. We can go about our business without interference or unjust results, right!?
No, not really.
While we can assume that the democracy runs fairly, or as fairly as it can …
While we can assume that the system of law enforced by police and courts is just, or as just as it can be …
They are most certainly not.
We must be vigilant or
we will be caught in our own assumptions of false comfort, lied about by our families even, the RCMP recruiting false reports from community people we’ve barely met, RCMP officers falsifying reports, making false arrests, and lying in court, family perjurying themselves in court, lawyers making a show of defending us but avoiding the essential evidence that would shed light on the lies, the essential pieces of truth that would exonerate us, and falsely convicted by judges who lie about the evidence provided, avoiding evidence and altering transcripts to exclude evidence that would make convictions impossible, and even then lying about the evidence and making irrational leaps of logic to falsely convict us.
Ah, you say, this could never happen in Canada!
And I respond, I have seen it first hand, been to jail for crimes I never committed, and with the ease of how it is all done, and in conversation with others in jail, it is clear this is done routinely, habitually, and it is all well covered up. It ought to be in the news each day, until the system is scoured clean of the corruption, barbarism, and cruel bullying that is standard fare.
Of course, if you have not been caught by this injustice, you certainly can bury your head in the sand and hope it never happens to you or yours.
God promises in many and various ways to walk with us, that In righteousness we shall be established; we shall be far from oppression, for we shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near us.
This is not yet so in Canada, and assuming it is does not make it so. In fact assuming it is so, allows the cruel, barbaric injustice to continue. And continue it does!
Where are God’s promises?
Jesus says: Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
This peace is not based on the reality that other humans work against us and others.
This peace is based on what God provides: no matter what corrupt, barbaric, and cruel people do to us, we know that God knows the truth, that God will bring the truth to light, and those who do not amend their lives will be judged by God. Though we proclaim and count on God’s justice to be merciful and gracious, as God’s choice is to adopt as God’s own children is, we also know that as we live in righteousness and truth,
those who live dishing out injustice and lies to others, in daily life, in church life, in our communities, and in our ‘justice’ system, with their own actions they create for themselves great cause for fear. At any moment their crimes and sins can come to light, and then they will suffer as others turn on them with their own corrupt, barbaric, and unjust methods.
That is to live in fear constantly. The fear is that the false security achieved by falsehoods will turn on them and destroy them as fast as possible.
We, who live in the righteousness God provides to us, who live by truth and grace, need not fear that destruction, for our lives are secured by what no human can take from us: God’s love and grace.
This is to live in true peace.
Saturday, September 4, 2021
We May Think We Have The Light of the World
Here on Our Beaches
God’s Light Still Shines
For Us All.
But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live.
But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than any human authority.’
Words of Grace For Today
For humans there is an obligation to obey as they are commanded by other humans.
When humans choose not to do so for good reasons the consequences are usually dire, whether it is the state funded police and courts (rightly or corruptly, as it is in all places through all of history, especially here in Alberta) or criminal violence or psychological attacks on one’s well-being. This is what forms the obligation. Do or die (or at least have a chunk of one’s life is taken away.)
God always commands other than corrupt police, courts, kings, and religious authorities. God’s commands do not carry an obligation to obey them like human commands. Contravening human commands results in consequences that rob one of physical life. Obeying human commands may provide a small reward, even if it appears huge it is still small, for humans have little to offer, even if it is large sums of money, power, or fame.
Contravening God’s commands results in the consequence of one’s own choosing, that is one separates oneself from God. This does not ‘rob’ one of physical life. Being separated from God is in itself the definition of having no life, not of any kind. Obeying God’s commands provides the greatest reward, even if it appears small it is still without limit, for one chooses to walk with God, which is itself definition of an abundant life.
When we choose to ignore human authorities in order to obey God, there is a small ‘but’ after the demands of human authority and before our actions that contravene human authority and fulfill God’s will for us and for all people.
When God intervenes in our lives, showing us how small the tempting rewards of corrupt human wealth, power, and fame are, our sinful actions are not followed by a simple little ‘but’. They are followed by a universe changing statement, one like the German ‘Doch’. Then follows a statement that re-orients us back to God’s will for us and all people.
Pharaoh ordered the baby be put to death but the midwives allowed the baby to live.
Pharaoh did not care what God willed, DOCH Moses would live, grow up in Pharaoh’s house, run for his life after killing an abusive overseer, and, after years in the wilderness regaining his understanding of God’s world and God’s will, he would return to lead the people to freedom from slavery, into the wilderness, where the people would learn, and fail to learn, to hear and follow God’s commands.
Likewise Peter and the disciples choose to obey God’s will and not human authorities. They would go on to form the beginnings of the Christian faith and spread it to churches around the Mediterranean, from where through the successive generations, others would carry the faith across the whole earth. We have thus received our faith because of Moses and Peter and many other people’s following God’s will when it contravened human authority.
If we so comfortably think that we can please human authority and follow God’s will, we are naively corrupted to ignore God’s will. We either do not know God’s will, or we refuse to see how corrupt human authority is in all places and all times, even now here in Alberta. In either case there are still many whose stories can only be told with a ‘but’. And always God’s story about us contains many many ‘Doch’, as God rescues us from our sins, over and over again.
We pray for just government, church leaders, a business leaders, and leaders in all aspects of life. Doch God calls us to pray that God’s will may be done, also in and among us, for human authority always corrupts itself, ignoring God’s will and leading people to try to live apart from God. Or worse, corrupt religious leaders lead many, many people to follow false godlets, even when the call their godlets by God’s own name.
So we ought to pray that God would bring yet again a ‘Doch’ into our life stories, guide us back to God’s will, and use us to bring God’s will (which is to love, forgive, and share life abundant with all) to all people … starting with ourselves and our own people.
Friday, August 6, 2021
Closer is still a tree,
Is still a tree,
Is still a tree,
And Always Remains a Tree, Bark and All.
So we, too, always remain sinners.
When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, ‘I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless.
In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
Words of Grace For Today
Abram is, best estimate, a conglomeration of actual historical figures, collected into one archetypal character, our ancestor. Whether the stories belong to one man or many different people, at 99 Abram is old. God did invite Abram to walk before him, and Abram was by God’s grace alone, blameless at that time.
Abraham would go on to cheat, lie, covet, commit adultery, kill (or at least plan to kill, and his own son no less), … a good archetypal character. Doesn’t matter if it is one person or many people’s stories gathered under one name. This is true about Abram: God love him and Sarah. God did exceptional things for them, gave them land and descendants, when they were nomads who left home, and cheated their way to some kind of security, passing Sarah off as a sister, and then exactly their hosts honour and wealth when he treated Sarah as Abram’s sister instead of his wife. They used Sarah’s handmaid as a surrogate ‘wife’ for Abram to secure themselves God’s promise of descendants, and then set Hagar and Ishmael packing into the desert wilderness to die when they did not need them anymore, when God provided Sarah a son, Isaac.
Abraham and Sarah certainly were not ‘blameless’ before the Lord, the Lord who knows everything.
St. Paul had it right, Abraham was reckoned to be righteous by grace through faith. God made Abram blameless before God, and God blessed Abraham and Sarah with all they had.
The danger for us when we forget is that we assume God made Abraham and Sarah perfect people … so we think we can become or be made (even by God) to live blameless for the rest of our lives, or even for a day! We cannot.
God alone makes us righteous by grace alone (that is by God’s doing to us as a free, undeserved gift) through faith.
If we think Abram or we can be righteous on our own, we have to live in great delusion, disconnected for our own reality, and we have to try to remove anyone from this real world who knows and will say honestly how broken we really are. It’s impossible except by faking it and becoming truly evil.
The effort to be perfect after our baptisms has been embraced by many Christians, as a way to control others. It’s all a lie … a huge lie that has lived for many generations.
Christ gives us a little light. Just a little light. And the Holy Spirit keeps it burning in spite of all the sins we commit. We cannot choose to be blameless. We can choose to not hide the little light that Christ gives us. We can actually let Christ work through us in all our days, and pray for forgiveness each morning, noon and night.
Well the other choice is nothing less than living a deluded, dangerous, and evil life … which God surely knows about and will judge those who so choose to live this delusion.
We choose to let our lights shine, Jesus’ lights given to us to carry through our days … not so that people will we awestruck by our having these lights. Rather we choose to let these little lights shine so that others will give God praise, adoration and worship.
People will say: God chooses those sinful people to carry Christ’s light to the world. The wonders done cannot be because of those people. It has to be God’s doing. They will worship God for God’s great works in us good sinners …
They will know that God can work such wonders in their own sinful lives as well.
(That’s carrying the light of Christ for others to see!)
Saturday, January 23, 2021
It all points to the Truth:
Not Cold, nor Storms, nor Wind, nor Foe
Nothing Separates Us From God’s Grace
and Our Home in the Land of Faithfulness!
I will rejoice in doing good to them, and I will plant them in this land in faithfulness, with all my heart and all my soul.
For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.
Words of Grace For Today
The case where we find ourselves in our stories after we sin, yet again:
To be lost.
To be lost in despair.
To be lost in despair as the rest of the world seemingly peers down on us as nothing.
The case where God’s story takes over ours and becomes ours:
To be found.
To be found worthy.
To be found worthy and given all that can be dreamed of.
If we have not known the first circumstance as our own, each day many times over … if we continually hide the truth from ourselves and we cannot and do not admit how lost we are, then the second circumstance can hardly mean anything.
The Son of Man did not come to heal the self declared ‘healthy’ nor to rescue those that claim not to be ‘lost’. God’s Son came and comes, sought out and seeks out those that are lost, found and finds us and restores us to the fullness of life, found and blessed.
God blesses us by planting us in this land in faithfulness. What a land that is: no fake news, no relative truths, no deception, no getting ahead at others’ cost, no rules using Covid as a cover for corruption and no rampant evil run amok. This land in faithfulness is a land where everyone has a home, a good home. And everyone is faithful to each other and to God.
Of course when the world around us gangs up on us for things we have not done and tries to Gaslight us in to believing that we are worthless, then it certainly helps to know the first case very well as it is actually true for ourselves, AND to know the second case (God’s Grace) to be true for us at the same time. Because then the Gaslighting, no matter how persistent nor long, will not destroy us. Then we benefit for God has planted us in the land of faithfulness. We know how humble we must be, how broken and lost we are, and how blessed we are that God claims us as God’s own children.
In the land of faithfulness all people prosper, contribute, and share blessings, especially with those in need. All the possible dreams of being blessed by God are made to come to be, for us all.
No Covid 19, restrictions, loneliness, covidiots, storming unrighteous and foolish mobs, or threats to our well-being can separate us from God’s blessing.
… So we lay ourselves to sleep each night confident that God’s will can be done also among us, and we will sleep in safety.
… So we rise up in the morning each day confident that God’s will can be done also among us also by us, and we shall live in safety, boldly acting as agents for the Son of Man, seeking, finding, and rescuing the lost … rescuing them with the same Grace that daily saves us.
That’s reality. That’s truth. That’s love.
What a life! God gives us all blessings possible!
Friday, January 22, 2021
In our hearts as well?
Afterwards the Israelites shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; they shall come in awe to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.
For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Words of Grace For Today
After, in the prophetic image of Hosea given to him by God, … after God ‘plays the lover of an adulteress.’ For Israel has wandered yet again from God’s love to the adulteress love of other ‘gods’ and other values and other everything. Israel is trying to play being godlets, or at least as if they could choose their ‘god’. So Hosea, as God commands him, takes a harlot as his ‘wife’, to demonstrate to the people how they have taken ‘gods’ and loves that are not God, that are not Love!
Thankfully God does not abandon Israel, nor us (for such wandering is commonly repeated even in these days). God has an afterwards for us. Afterwards is always a time of return to God, seeking God, and being in awe of God, so that we once again know God’s goodness in and among us!
This is the time that God’s gifts of the Spirit enable us to choose, to will and to work for God’s good pleasure … that all people have life, and life abundant!
Which time is this day for you?
Playing with other ‘loves’ and trying to hide from the love of God?
Seeking, walking with God (since God walks with you already), standing in awe of God’s work in and among us, and enjoying God’s goodness for all people?
The deep-freeze will arrive this day, staying minus 20⁰C ish day and night, going to minus 27⁰C at least one night, maybe even minus 30⁰C. A touch of cleansing cold.
Will our hearts become or stay so cold?
Or will we choose to will and work for God’s good pleasure?
As for me and my household (oops, no household, just me) we/I will choose to …
hope that the Spirit will overcome sin in us/me and bring God’s will to be among us, also.
I listened to two sermons. Both excellent …
except they did not proclaim the Gospel when it was right there to be proclaimed,
so instead of being adversely effected by this let down, I decided to provide an outline or draft for a sermon worth preaching and hearing.
What is missing is the colour of the sunset and sunrise, the stories of heart and strength, the accounts of the saints in light, which guide us to embrace God’s Grace. Maybe I’ll find time to insert some.
The Gospel for this day: Matthew 35: 31-46
‘When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,* you did it to me.” Then he will say to those at his left hand, “You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.” Then they also will answer, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?” Then he will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.’
We might say: the End of Time, loved ones’ deaths or our judgment before Christ, or even the end of the church year provides clarification of what is truly important. Yet clarity is rarely the result of grief.
Rather grief, as the loss of one’s child (our losses that reflect God’s loss of Jesus) rips the innards of our lives right down to the foundation and leaves us totally discombobulated. Meaning and language and words do not organize. Chaos overtakes any order we used to have in our lives.
Clarity at the end of time, for loved ones, for ourselves, is not guaranteed. Rather it is rare.
Clarity about our judgment day reflected in the passage for today’s Gospel reveals that everyone (not denying their actions – a rather foolish attempt it would be before God)… everyone (all sheep and all goats) is surprised … because they did not see Jesus … in the outcasts, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, or in the imprisoned.
Any sane person is going to be frightened at the thought of facing Christ on our judgment day. Goats to the left into eternal perdition with the devil, and Sheep to the right into eternal life with Jesus.
And how is the determination made? It is determined by what we have done for the least of God’s people (all people.) Did we care for the outcasts, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, or the imprisoned?
Whether we are motivated to do these things by love, by passionate compassion, or by anything else, matters not one iota!
On the simplistic reading of the passage, our eternal path is determined by what we have done or not done for the least of God’s people!
Still, in this profoundly misguided, disturbing, and Gospel-less reading of this passage of scripture, we MUST DO what is right, OR we end up with the goats on the left.
If that is the ultimate determination for all of us, we are all lost into perdition, for by our own confession as faithful Lutherans, we confess that we are all bound to sin (and cannot by our own do what is right – including, by whatever means, care for the outcasts, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, or in the imprisoned. Therefore we are all lost into perdition – and great consternation or grand denial can be our only response to this passage. Surprise! When we thought we might get into heaven because we did a few things right, even profoundly right, instead we ALL get the goats path to perdition! That’s a hell of a surprise!
Thankfully our confession of faith is simpler and far more profound: We not only confess that we are all damned sinners. We also confess that we are God-made saints. That is we also confess that we are all saved (sorted out to be with the sheep) only by Faith through Grace (God’s gifts us faith!) and NOT by our works (by what we have done or do or will do!)
So how can we possibly read and respond to this passage, given our simple confession of faith: Everything relies on God’s Grace?
If left to our own deeds, we are all sorted with the goats. We all do not care for all the least of God’s people. Even if we think we did what God requires of us (whenever we saw Jesus, but we rarely saw Jesus at all), and even if we can throw evidence at the wall of judgment, nothing will stick, because we have already failed so many times in so many ways that nothing can make up for our wholesale sins. We all have failed, do fail and will always fail to see Jesus where Jesus surprises us with his presence!
Doch! We confess we are not left to be judged by our own deeds. Rather, Surprise! Jesus places his record in place of ours as we are judged. Therefore we will not know when we cared for the outcasts, provided for the poor, gave homes to the homeless, fed the hungry, gave clean water and drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, nursed the sick, or visited the imprisoned.
We will be sorted with the sheep, not because of what we have done or not done. We are sorted with the sheep because of how Jesus lived, and because Jesus gives us his record in place of ours!
It’s all grace! It’s all gift! Our judgment does not depend one iota on us and what we think, say, or do.
Instead it depends only on God, and God is sure, steadfast in unconditional love forever!
So, we are sorted with the sheep! Phew! We dodged an eternal bullet of damnation there!
So back to our cozy, mixed up, sinful lives?! Right! We are getting away with whatever we do, good and bad, heaven and hell that we create for others, great ambitions to do right and little follow through. Nothing really matters in the end or even now! Right!? So let us celebrate, eat, drink, and be merry in the days God gives us. Right!?
Once Jesus’ record is in place of our own, we are free.
And what are we free from? We are free from our sins strangling us, binding us, keeping us from recognizing we live not to provide for ourselves, but as Christ provides for us.
What are we free for:
We are free to recognize others’ needs, endless as they are. Empowered by Christ’s example of forgiveness for us and the renewed life we receive daily from Christ, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we can provide for others. We GET to care for the outcasts, the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, or in the imprisoned.
Gosh golly gee, for sure that’s passionate compassion. That is living to provide justice for all. That’s being transformed to embody Christ in this world.
As the wretched sinners that we are, we certainly are surprised that God gets us to do such good things!
Of course, it is not something we can do ourselves, or choose for ourselves. We cannot choose to be passionately compassionate, or live for justice, or be Christ embodied in the world! We simply cannot on our own choose to do what God requires of us in order that we can be saved at the day of our judgment.
Surprise! It is only possible because of God’s Grace for us!
Now that’s Good News, because anything that depends on us is wholly unreliable.
Doch, what relies solely on God is as sound as the music of the spheres, the music of the strings that make up the universe. It is as sound as God, our rock and salvation, the Creator, all powerful. So sure is our salvation and the gifts that enables us for, in spite of being sinners, we are also simultaneously God-made saints.
We get to reflect Christ’s Light in all our days!
That is the clarity that we receive and can reflect to others. It comes rarely as we face the end of times. More often it comes as a complete surprise, in the ordinary, mundane suffering and challenges of life. During Covid 19 there are more than enough of those to go around, and hit us from behind again in the second wave.
Even when it hits us again and again, what matters is the surprise of what Christ does for us, and by Grace through us for others.
What Christ does for us and through us is the only and the everything that is important. What Christ does determines our judgment day, and all of every day in all the universe! Now that is sweet music to our ears
as we sing, Take my life that I may be consecrated Lord to thee!
Wednesday, July 1, 2020
To See God, filling the heaven and earth!
Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them? says the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? says the Lord.
1 Corinthians 8:3
Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.
Words of Grace For Today
What is it that we do, in order to try to hide in secret places from God?
We try to be little ‘godlets’, masters of our lives and of others. Sometimes it even looks like we succeed. The delusion required to make it look like we succeed is fascinatingly stupid.
God is with us always, not tagging along, but we are in God’s omnipresence wherever we go. God sees our foolish pretending to be masters of most anything. Ah, how painful that must be for God.
We all sin. Most often it seems people try to pretend that their sin is something else, or that someone else did their sin and that they did not do it, or that they really did not do that evil thing, but something else that only appears to look like sin. The cover up is worse than the sin.
We ALL sin. The only way forward to goodness is not to pretend at all. Certainly we cannot move forward to health if we pretend that we know enough to talk, manipulate or manoeuvre our way out of the sin we’ve done.
The only way forward towards an abundant life is to already trust that God will forgive us, freely, without cost to us. To trust that the price for our sins (every last one of them) is already paid for by Jesus’ death. To trust that the loss of God’s own life is recouped in the resurrection. With that trust (that only the Holy Spirit can give to us – but which we certainly can refuse) then we can face God, deserving condemnation and knowing that we will be forgiven. Not just that our past sin is wiped away. We also have our future life renewed, so that hope is real. So that our expectations can be for a good future for us, for our loved ones, for God’s people around us, and for the strangers among us on this planet earth – so that we can expect (and thereby help bring to be) good things to happen.
It is no less than being told our lives are over … and then we hear that miraculously we are healthy and will live. Or it is to know that everything good we have worked for and been and become will be taken from us (not possessions, but our selves). We anticipate with horror living as mere shells, having the innermost things that make up who we are ripped out of us and shredded away to dust and water. Then we discover that, though our expectations were accurate, by some inexplicable change in history and current events, we are left intact, whole and looking forward to living a full life for years to come.
How different it is for people like the church council who have breached their own constitution and legal process to falsify a vote to hire a man who is not qualified to be a pastor. What kind of guts and prideful foolishness does that take? What kind of innermost self are those people made up of that they brashly contravene their own constitution, and work to deceive and lie and cover up what they are doing? To be them must be terrible!
For to be them is as terrible as it is to be any and every other kind of sinner who cannot find forgiveness in the ‘godlets’ they have perversely begun to worship.
Catching Covid 19, whether one barely has symptoms, one suffers symptoms and recovers (either with chronic issues afterwards or not), or whether one succumbs into death (and still have the promise of life eternal) is not as bad as losing one’s self, that spirit that God has breathed into us at our baptisms, which gives us life. That is a horror that never stops no matter what one stuffs into one’s life.
With profound gratitude, even as we are caught in the snare of the Evil One, we trust that we will find our way forward to goodness and health, but only through God’s unending Grace, forgiveness and the gift of renewed life.
Friday, April 24, 2020
Demonstrates Glory by Healing our Souls.
Do not spurn us, for your name’s sake; do not dishonour your glorious throne; remember and do not break your covenant with us.
1 Corinthians 1:9
God is faithful; by him you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Words of Grace For Today
Jeremiah pleads with God not to break the covenant God made with their ancestor, Abraham. God alone made the covenant. It was not a bi-lateral agreement. It was not tit-for-tat. It was not a contract with the members agreeing on the exchange of things of value.
God made the covenant, simply because God choose to make the covenant. Thereafter, God returns numerous times to restate the promises. In addition to Abraham and his family and descendants being made, by God’s act alone, into the people of God, God makes promises: God will give the wandering Arameans land flowing with milk and honey. God will give Abraham and Sarah descendants as numerous as the stars.
God makes good on God’s promises. God makes good on more than that.
God comes in the human life of Jesus of Nazareth, God’s own son on earth, to live, heal, teach, suffer, and die … to pay for what you and I and all our ancestors and their descendants (i.e. all people) have done against God and the goodness of creation.
The story continues. Death does not win out, because God raises Jesus back to life.
God does this not because we deserve it, but because God so chooses.
God also chooses you and me to join in the fellowship of Jesus, the body of Christ on earth.
We may turn from God.
We may suffer as a result of sins.
We may face challenges we may not know we can even survive, like Covid 19.
God remains trustworthy. God remains a Rock for us to rely on. God remains with us!
This is the ongoing story of God. God remains with us, even when we no longer deserve the great blessings God has given us.
All good is to God’s glory. God’s glory is not our brokenness, doch God’s will to heal us.
May we be healed of all the ills that we face because of isolation, because of loss of loved ones, because of the illness we face, which may indeed bring us to death’s door.
On this and the far side of that door, God stands with us. God is worthy of our trust.