Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – July 1

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Full Spaces

What Joy!

To See God, filling the heaven and earth!

Jeremiah 23:24

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.

What joy!

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.

What Joy!

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.

What joy.

Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Apr 24

Friday, April 24, 2020

God, as simple as a Rock,

Demonstrates Glory by Healing our Souls.

Jeremiah 14:21

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.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – Apr 5

Sunday, April 5, 2020

God’s Way, Far Above Our Ways

God’s Way, Far Above Our Ways

Psalms 68:27

There is Benjamin, the least of them, in the lead, the princes of Judah in a body, the princes of Zebulun, the princes of Naphtali.

John 12:12-13

The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!’

Words of Grace For Today

We have our ways of doing what we do in this world. The great are celebrated. We follow the charming leaders who we think will give us the most. God’s way is different. When Jesus enters Jerusalem, the people greet him in celebration singing Hosanna! Jesus’ path was not what they expected. Instead it was self sacrifice so that all people would be saved. Benjamin, Isaac’s youngest and favourite son, does not blossom into a great people. They remain the least of the tribes of Israel. God’s way is not to make us into saints that lead, conquer, and control the world around us. God’s way is the quiet, subversive, gentle, gracious, forgiving ways of giving other people the fullness of life, out of the limelight, as we the Body of Christ, give of ourselves to be Christ present to all.

End of Many Concerns

.

Ahh, Great Light, Great Night to Come, Easy Walk.

Nice Day on the Ice

End of

A good day fishing

Fishing season

Drinking on the lake

.

Lots of Tracks

Lots of Tracks

SarsCov2 in that fishing hut

Risk management with a wood stove

Warm days at the lake

‘Burning your playhouse down’

.

Looking for the Light

Looking for the Light

Sharing one’s feelings 

Hauling, Cutting, Hauling, Splitting, Hauling, Smoke, Ash

Hot Times on the Ice

.

The Butt End of it All

The Butt End of it All

.

..

….

Start of:

Living alone

Fishing in the cold air

More bad luck

.

Catching the Last Rays of the Day

Catching the Last Rays of the Day

Looking for SarsCov2 elsewhere

Being able to stand up straight without hitting ones head

.

It’s All She Wrote

Karma – (But, Karma, this was not on the list! Karma, what you doing!)

.

That’s it! Schluss! Fire’s Gone Cold.

That’s it! Schluß! Fire’s Gone Cold.

Gaslighting One-Track Moon Hope

There is no way to fully counter Gaslighting

The best way is to live the truth, speak the truth, trust God,

When everyone who should know better,

everyone who is a professional and equipped, supposedly, to know better,

joins in the Gaslighting what can one do?

Trust God, look for God, encounter the infinite.

One Track Free After Dusk

O

N

E

Track

Mi nd

Go

I

N

G

Outward

T

Ards2

N

O

Where

O

Where

Has the

Dear

Sun

Gone?

Getting ready to

Stice

The

Poor

Sol

.

Suns that forget to rise, Sun that stands still!

What will come next, that this hell will (once again) freeze over?

Even

T

he

Moon

Shy Winter Moon

Is shy

Of

T

He

Sky

barely poking its own light even as low as the sun stays in the shade all day

this is winter.

Before long there is

more than one track

now that the Fishers are out

Whose Fishing, Whose Hunting, Whose the Prey? Pray it’s not you.

But where to? Where do they all go?

To out there somewhere

left of the lynx tracks?

Or just

out

there?

What to do when tracks that are, can be photographed and proven to have been even when they melt,

but

words

that are said

that are used to define me

are

not

a reflection of even a shy moon?

Or even

a long since erased lynx track?

Yet alone the person I am!

How does one prove

that the profound Gaslighting

joined

in by

so

many

who

are entrusted to know better

how can one prove that the

supposed tracks

of

a

dog

do

not

belong

to me?

Because the false claim is made so long ago and consistently since with new twists of total fiction

that

I

am

(supposedly)

a

dog?

A dog could make tracks like a lynx, yes.

But

I am a child of God

ordained

kind

generous

a messenger of and creator of Grace!

I leave tracks of new life, hardly of a dog, hardly vicious, hardly (fill in you favourite lie about me.)

What damage the lies do

least of all to me

and most of all to those

who make them up,

and those who

accept the lies given to them

and then make up their own

and

demonstrate to children and observant adults that truth

is long since

insignificant

when one can make one’s way

by

the lie

to

anywhere?

Remember Real Stuff

Remember, live well, and reflect the light of Christ …

the truth is the gift that remembered will set one free from the death of Gaslighting.

Remember as clear as one can spring, fall, and summer

when water required a canoe

for

now as

one walks on water

The miracle that one is still alive after all this Gaslighting is

more

than

walking on water, even if it were not frozen water.

Give God thanks.

Grace

Remember Our True Faith of Grace

The passages for this Sunday’s lessons are profoundly problematic.

Malachi 4:1-2a

Malachi promises that the day will come when arrogant and evildoers will be burned up entirely, stem to root. That is of course only Those, them, the others. And on that day We, us, those who revere God’s name, upon us (not them) the sun of righteousness will rise, with healing in it’s wings.

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

2 Thessalonians, either written by Paul or more likely a disciple of Paul writing in his name (as was common and acceptable then,) commands the readers to work for their food, and not be idle. And he also commands that those who do not work should not eat! This prescription to allow some people to starve has been used as justification for all sorts of injustices worked against the poor.

Luke 21:5-19

The Lukan passage deals with the end times, cautioning the listeners to not be taken in by false prophets claiming to be the returned Christ. Admonishing calm patience and faithfulness the passage ends with “By your endurance you will gain your souls.”

Blown in the dark cold wind of self-righteousness, what are we to do?

Blown in the dark cold wind of self-righteousness, what are we to do?

Unfortunately we do not use Psalm 98 this week.

Sing a new song to the Lord, who has done | marvelous things,
  whose right hand and holy arm have | won the victory.
2O Lord, you have made | known your victory,
  you have revealed your righteousness in the sight | of the nations.
9The Lord will judge the | world with righteousness
  and the peo- | ples with equity.

Or perhaps it is a good opportunity that we do not use the Psalm.

While each text is filled with directions on what to do as Christians, even prescribing what things we must do in order to receive Salvation, we believe and hold firm the faith and tradition that is handed on to us, namely: that we are saved by grace alone, not by the merit of our works.

We interpret all scripture and spiritual thought through this lens: That we are saved only by God’s act upon us, that we remain totally sinners throughout our lives and at the same time God makes us, through Christ’s redemptive sacrifice for us, totally saints. This is a gift imputed to us, not infused into us. This gift is effective in us, yet does not overcome the sinner that we remain, until Christ comes again, God reckons righteousness to us, and we become saints in the light of Christ for ever. These precepts are paradoxical, and we believe they hold the truth of God’s Grace for us that cannot logically be expressed. Faith cannot be grasped and controlled. It can only we experienced and enjoyed with awe, or rejected with consequences unknowable.

So what are we to make of these scriptural judgments of others and promises that we are not them, of the command that if we or others do not work we are not to eat, or the admonishments to earn our salvation?

Our choices are four:

  1. We could preach the problematic parts as if they were the Gospel of Christ ignoring that they are destructive to faith and community.
  2. We could ignore or pretend to ignore the problematic parts of the texts. Preaching on Psalm 98 alone would be an opportunity to take this route.
  3. We could preach a reinterpretation of the passages so as to proclaim a faithful Word, a true witness to Christ, but not mention that we are interpreting the passages to bring Gospel out of them. OR
  4. We can be clear about the need to re-interpret and proclaim that need along with a clear proclamation of the Gospel after we re-interpret these passages according to Luther’s Gospel within a Gospel: that we are saved by Grace through Faith and not by merit of our works.
Gone are the days of colour and calm.

Gone are the days of colour and calm.

The Cold Hard Facts of the Gospel have arrived with the cold and snow in late fall.

Preach as you will, but as for me and my empty “household”, the woods, squirrels and the occasional deer, we will enjoy God’s grace and preach it clearly, honestly, and profoundly as, as much as God gives me opportunity and energy to do so.

Of course, the squirrels really do not listen very well, and the deer have no patience, anxious as they are from hunters pursuits.

What is clear from the lessons for this Sunday is that true discipleship is costly.

As costly as those we remember today, the veterans who have sacrificed to give us the possibility of the lives we now enjoy.

While we chafe under encouragements to tithe, giving 10% of the first fruits of all God gives us, our time, talents and resources, the call that claims us and the faith that is imputed to us demands not merely 10%. We chafe so brutally that we often demand no mention of tithing occur in our congregation, certainly not that we ask each other to work towards this small sacrifice, guilty as we are that we have never thought this possible for us ourselves. Always one hears how unjust this call is for those who are below the poverty line. Which is true sort of: 10% of an income of which 50% is spent on the bare necessities of life is challenging, but 10% of an income of which 110% or more is spent on the bare necessities of life is a challenge beyond respectable.

True discipleship costs us 100%, and our avoiding a call for 10% gives witness how weak our faith is practised in our lives.

Yet the True Gospel is not that we must give 100%, or that we must give even 10% for God’s grace to be effective in our lives and at the end of time, effectively applied to us. What counts is still what God does, not what we do.

Though it is problematic that we do not do what we readily could do, and instead we count on God’s Grace to save our neighbours from hunger, poverty, despair. Since Christ steps in for us sinners when we were lost (each day of our lives) why would we not strive with all our being to be Christ’s hands especially to our neighbours in desperate need!

But one can hardly preach that to people who refuse to be the hands of Christ, asking for the first 10% in good stewardship for their church. One does pray for them, and for one’s self: that we may all survive the winter, cold, hard, and brutal as it is … to be gracious with each other … soon, before it is too late.

A Riddle in Photos

An early morning stroll

Before Eucharist and Coffee with Breakfast

Brought me to the road towards the East and the rising sun.

Golden light and a sound alerted me to a photo about to be.

Can you see the sound?

Can you tell what is different in each photo? (ignore that the position of the camera moves slightly so that the view shifts, the edges are different.)

What is a wonderful Saturday morning, -2⁰ with clear sky and waning gibbous moon, a touch of frost and a good warm fire keeping ‘home’ warm, and the water for coffee boiling,

if not a perfect opportunity to play and make a small riddle-puzzle, seek-and-find photo series?

First View

.

Second view

.

Third View. See it yet?

.

Fourth View. Have your glasses on?

.

Fifth view. Get out the magnifying glass?

.

.

How long did it take you?

What is your time compared to God’s time?

73804 Mitkommen!

73804 mitkommen!

As the cool days of fall darken earlier and earlier, and the dark of night stays with us longer and longer …

Dark comes early, closer to South

Dark comes early, closer to South

Leaves fall all

Leaves fall all

The wood pile is just high enough,

The food sufficient for the coming days,

The water enough and replenish-able,

And the air is fresh,

My clothing rather well prepared for the coming months,

The shelter from the weather to come is mostly prepared,

My labour is directed, consumedly so, towards writing what must be written.

My love grows and wanes, I am loved well and always.

And God holds me safe.

What more can one ask for from life, from God, from all that might be?

All that might be.

All that might be.

How many humans have had so much less, so much less, so much less.

So much less.

So much less.

The beauty of the world is at my fingertips, literally, as a cell phone camera captures what can be seen and hoped for?

Cell camera photos: harvest moon, over three harvesters

Cell camera photos: harvest moon, over three harvesters

Wahrheit

Was sonst?

God’s blessings

For what more would anyone wish from life?

More than the time each morning to celebrate that Christ is with us, in body and blood?

More than the ability to see beauty and share it with others?

Sharing beauty

Sharing beauty

More than the ability to know truth, without doubt, or hesitation?

More than to live well?

Live Well

Live Well

Legend:

73804 mitkommen! – from the movie Remembrance, Tomasc calls out to Hannah to come with him, he dressed as a German soldier initiating their escape, as he carries a canister of photos of the Nazi concentration camp.

Wahrheit, was sonst? – Truth, what else?

Und weshalb nicht?

Und weshalb nicht?

West with Accents

West with Accents

Truth, How About You?

The Cost

“Everything has a cost, even the truth.

The Cost for Truth has been everything for me, except a sleeping bag, a tent, my clothes and a bicycle.

The Cost for Truth has been everything for me, except a sleeping bag, a tent, my clothes and a bicycle.

The Reward

But the reward for truth is a clear eye and a clear conscience.”

Clear eyes enable one to see the beauty of life.

Clear eyes enable one to see the beauty of life.

The True Work of Justice

“It is as important to exonerate an innocent person as to convict a guilty person.”

Clearly Fog Challenges Clarity

Clearly Fog Challenges Clarity

I have a clear eye and clear conscience.

So many who’ve had the chance have not paid any price for truth. It is a party where they imbibe the intoxicating evil of false power based on the Devil’s seductions, drunk so deeply in order to ignore the truth.

I do not see good people working for justice to exonerate the innocent, myself included. Like hundreds of thousands others, I see good people become evil, working to convict the innocent like me, a kind, generous, man of great integrity, an excellent stay at home father.

The long view allows one to see the the rocks and sticks, and the wonderful light.

The long view allows one to see the the rocks and sticks, and the wonderful light.

It’s colour that plays with the light.

It’s colour that plays with the light.

Rest in the solitude and calm is possible as God blesses those persecuted without just cause.

Rest in the solitude and calm is possible as God blesses those persecuted without just cause.

But woe to those who unjustly persecute the innocent. For God judges without rules of evidence or games of cover-ups possible. God judges the reality of one’s life and actions. There is no hiding possible for evil. There is no negotiating for something other than actual reality, for that is what God sees and judges. Entrance to blessing never comes with Spin or Cover-up, or declaring something to be other than it is.

In this life, our challenge is to not become like the persecutors, not to become vengeful and vindictive … but to remain, trusting God’s promises and quiet blessings each day, … to remain fully alive with grace.

As for me and my non-existent household, unjustly taken from me thrice, I and the Holy Spirit, we choose to live only by Grace.

How about you?

Today?

Will this be the day of our double victory?