ago a friend lost his credit card so he phoned to get a new one.
After putting him on hold the man on the phone came back in his
Aussie accent, “No worries mate. We have you covered.” Which made
my friend start to worry. Did he miss something? What did they
have covered? If the card was maxed out it’d take years to pay it
something threatens our treasure, pulses quicken, blood pressure
rises and worries multiply.
Do Not Be
Afraid: powerful words
to Abram and starts with, “Do not be afraid.” Jesus speaks to his
disciples and often starts with, “Do not be afraid….” These are
not like the Aussie, ‘no worries mate’. These are powerful,
Real, Abuse of Fears
full of imaginary worries: a man reacts with that ancient instinct
from back when threats to our lives were around every tree. He
worries about his next meal even though his fridge, freezer and bank
account are quite full. Or the middle-aged woman who as a child
witnessed her mom being repeatedly abused by soldiers, and now
suffers a form of PTSD. She fears everyone who tries to care for her,
projecting her terror on to them and blaming them for anything bad
that happens, even if she is the one at fault.
besides Fear of God, which begins every journey with God for us
sinners, too often fear is real. Everywhere people die from the lack
of life’s basics: clean air and water, nourishing food, adequate
clothing, or sufficient shelter. War threatens lives. Refugees flea
only to be at the mercy of other countries. A few weeks ago, the
earth came close to being hit by an asteroid big enough to have the
effect of many nuclear bombs, landing us in a dark age, literally,
with the sun blocked by the fallout. If that’s not enough the
effects of climate change could make coastal cities uninhabitable by
2075 or earlier. Think Vancouver, Montreal, NYC, Miami, most of Micro
Indonesia and more!
corrupt would-be-leaders drum up fear in order to manipulate more and
more power from us until we have none left. Too often we fall for it
all and do senseless things to make ourselves feel safe, as if we
could get out of life alive.
bomb shelter needed
remembers fondly when their next door neighbours built a bomb shelter
… in 1959. She asked her Dad if they were getting one. He was a
military man and he said, “Believe me, you don’t need one.”
Back then that assurance meant to her that nothing bad would happen.
Years later she realized it meant that if the bombs fell, a shelter
was so inadequate it wouldn’t do her any good. (Ann
Brezendine Sermonshop 08)
Do Not be
Afraid, Pleasure to give KoG
comes with a fuller response: Do not be afraid! For it is God’s
good pleasure to give you the Kingdom! Here on earth we do not need a
bomb shelter. But in this world’s kingdoms our expectations of our
leaders often net us what we deserve, both good and bad. From that
there is no shelter, either.
3 am Fears
Harris, running her 3am Agenda, hopes to be the next US President. In
the face of fear politics gone amok, she tells people she will work
on those things that they worry about at 3 am.
about 3 am fears is that they can be real or imagined, but they
almost always are exaggerated and amplified so that they demand we
deal with them; or else they eat away at what’s left of our souls.
to Abram in a vision. And it may as well have been 3 am in his tent,
for Abram is consumed by worry that he has no son to be his heir.
Fear: shield and reward
comes with a promise: Do not be afraid. [Even at 3 am.] For God is
your shield and your reward will be great.
Sara’s Story: God’s work, timeline, not ours
Sara have cause for real fear. They left their home in Ur, traveled
great distances not knowing where to go, lived in tents, and
struggled to survive. Despite God’s Promises they still have no son
or land! Both are way too old to have a child. Is God against Abram
God says again, “Do not be afraid.”
think we know where our life is going. We only notice our error when
our plans tumble into the dust. Then, lost in the chaos, we can
listen, for God speaks right to us: “Do not be afraid.”
And there is MORE!
is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not
seen. Yet for Abram and Sara to trust God’s Word, given and so many
times not fulfilled, now requires more than any human can muster on
Do Not be
Afraid and More
and says, “Do not be afraid.” And then God creates faith in their
hearts, so they do not need to be afraid. As we listen we will
know these words and faith are also for us. And there is still
one more remarkable thing in this passage. God reckons this gift of
faith as righteousness for Abram. This is the same reckoning that
God does for us in our baptisms.
this reckoning? It is as though God has a spreadsheet.
each person’s name there is a bookkeeping of the events in that
person’s life with their positive and negative values and in
another column the value of that person’s relationship with God.
Because math can represent the entirety of creation, God totals it
all up into one number.
number is anything less than infinity, that person is not acceptable
to God. After a useless life on earth, God strokes the Smote Key on
the keyboard of eternity and they no longer exist (or something like
that. You get the idea.)
God deals with Abram differently. Even though God has placed
faith in Abram, God decides to ‘cheat’ with Abram’s
values and call it more than good enough. God places God’s own
infinite value, the infinity symbol (the lazy 8 laying on its
), as Abram’s total.
most remarkable is there is then NO event that can possibly subtract
enough from his value to God to change the end result: it will
remain, no matter what Abram does, as an infinite value. ∞
this mean for us?
this mean for us?
means is that for each of us at our baptisms God provides Jesus’
infinite value ∞ on our
reckoning sheet as our value to God.
not mean that God gives us everything we think we would want. God
does not give us an easy and comfortable life. Rather the opposite.
God keeps placing new challenges in front of us all through our
not mean that God gives us success, respect, or admiration. Rather
God lets us live rejected, as were the early Christians, and
dishonoured as was Jesus. The world sees us as fools working to bring
life abundant toothers.
There is a fools’ project, for instance, in Zinga north of Dar Es Salaam. A few people started with a bare piece of ground, with bare bank accounts. In a few years they want to turn that place into the first Children’s Hospital in Tanzania. They trust that a 91 year old doctor and his nurse wife, on fund raising tours in North America 6 months of every year, will raiseenough interest and personal commitment from enough people willing to provideenough money, materials and skills and expertise of all kinds to make it a reality. All with no promise of success.
Not as we imagine, not on our deadline
not promise us that God will provide what we think God’s will for
us is. Just because we once thrived, or because others still thrive,
does it mean that God promises we will thrive again, as we imagine.
God promises to be with us through our successes and our
failures. God promises to send us new visions of what God intends for
us. But God may not fulfill God’s promises to us on our timeline,
maybe not even for generations.
Treasure, Hearts, Delight, City or Woods
challenge for us, our whole lives, is not to make ourselves
good for God. Jesus steps in for us, gives us infinite value ∞
to God and says, “Do not be afraid.” And there is MORE.
delights that we live now and for eternity in God’s kingdom. We can
live well. All things can be well. All manner of things are well. And
there is still MORE.
prepares a city for us, or maybe a retreat beside pristine water.
City or retreat, God prepares a perfect home for us in the future,
listen and hear these words and know that they are for us: God
plans for our futures, and for eternity. We do not need to be afraid!
Delight, Reckoning, & Service
respond, by practicing being who we aspire to be, who God wants us to
be, putting our treasure in God, the only place where it is safe.
These are not the treasures of wealth, earthly security, power,
position, skills or abilities. Instead our treasure is to practice
reckoning to others infinite value ∞
and sharing God’s delight that others live in God’s kingdom. Our
treasure is to practice serving others, giving them the same grace
and love God first gives us.
We do not
need to be afraid, for our treasure from God cannot be taken from us,
nor subtracted from, not even at 3 am. Our treasure goes on to
infinity ∞, like the
stars in the sky.
When skiing in the mountains on a slope with
trees on it
I’ve taught more than a few people how to ski. Invariably we arrive on top of a slope where there are trees at least dotting the slope. The student looks with apprehension. I say respect the trees, but do not fear them. Do not look at them or you will head straight into one of them. Look at the snowy hillside between the trees where you want to ski.
Three Lessons full of Trees
OT: The self deluded Teacher Fool
We heard the Teacher in today’s first Lesson say:
Vanity of vanities! … All is vanity.
Our labour produces great results but our results are left to others, who may be wise or foolish.
It is tempting to think he may be right: that God has created, humans have worked, and nothing is worth anything. But the Teacher’s wisdom is a big forest of trees of hopelessness. Here God’s truth disappears like the misty fog evaporating with the rising sun. Then any lie can be presented as if true. Despair takes on all sorts of guises. Instead of being thankful, one demands more and more of things that cannot fill the empty void that should be one’s heart. This kind of life is at war with itself and the ensuing conflict and chaos allow one to hide from accountability, hope, love and even Jesus.
NT: The Different Life of Lists
In contrast the writer of Colossians reminds us that Christ raises us differently, into life free from what destroys us. The writer then presents us with lists of things to leave behind: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry), anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language. Do not lie to one another. These are more trees to avoid.
exception would be passion, though as all God’s gifts, passion can
be abused and used as a destructive force in one’s own life and in
the early Christians, including the Colossians, expected Jesus to
return in their own lifetimes, their sense of urgency valued the
freedom of celibacy and devalued the ties of passion. But God created
passion as an important and healthy motivation for much of life
including marriage, parenting, care of the earth and the building of
a just society.
Gospel: Using Jesus for Greed
Today’s Gospel is a great parable within a parable: A man comes to use Jesus to get an inheritance from his brother, against the tradition of the time. Through the ages we human beings have more than perfected the use of Jesus or Religion to pound others down and try to feed our own greed. Greed is related to gluttony.
“A glutton is (a person) who raids the icebox for a cure for spiritual malnutrition.”
(Wishful Thinking, F Buechner)
Gluttony and Greed kill us as we try to eat or possess more than we can stand. To teach us this, Jesus tells a parable of the pathetic wealthy man who after a great harvest, builds new barns to hold it and anticipates the remainder of his life as an easy retirement. But his possessions are the end of him. It’s all for naught!
Lots of Trees to Avoid
That gives us lots of trees to avoid. There is precious little of what we should aim for. It’s like skiing down a mountain and all we see are trees.
Where is Grace
So where is the Good News?
NT: Look above
The writer of Colossians points us to set our minds on things that are above. So looking up ever since we lived in caves we see the stars, the moon and the sun. Aided by the passionate drive of George Ellery Hale, and so many others, to see and learn more by building bigger and better telescopes in the last 100 years, what we see is astoundingly mind boggling. (E.g. see the documentary Journey to Palomar) Before, we knew the earth, one of nine planets, revolved around the sun. Now, we’ve seen numerous planetoids, one being Pluto, so there are only eight planets. We know our sun has a magnetic field, with flares that cause the northern lights and disrupt satellite communications. We know about galaxies, that most of the matter in the universe is invisible, that the universe is expanding and the universe is so, so much larger than we ever imagined! We have not found alien life, but in the immense expanse of the universe it is probable, if not guaranteed. We have seen God’s handiwork in the awesome expanse and workings of the universe and begun to understand their impact on our daily lives. Are these ‘the things above’ that we are to aim for? Maybe not, one would quickly say. But then perhaps we ought not be too quick to decide.
Rest of Scripture
With so many trees in our lessons, we look to the rest of Scripture and the Christian Church’s history, to guide us to the joy of life ‘skiing’, as it were, without hitting the trees.
We believe that God is Trinitarian. God is three in one. In part that means that the basic reality of God is that God is in relationship. We are created in God’s image, so we know we are created to be in relationship.
God Loves, We love
Luther taught that the core of the Gospel could be summed up in one short passage “ God so loved the world that God sent his only Son so that everyone believes in Jesus may have eternal life.” God loves – us … and the whole universe God created! In relationships we are to love one another and all of creation. The Teacher’s wisdom is folly because he ignores other people as God’s good creatures. Work is not to be hated, rather it is to be joyful and rewarding precisely because it provides for others, just as God has provided for us! The pathetic farmer in Jesus’ parable is consumed by his possessions because he has no sense that his bounty is a gift from God entrusted to him to be shared with others.
God’s Grace and Work
We know God’s Grace for us. We know that God comes to us, forgives us, makes us righteous before God, by Grace (in other words, as a gift that we do not earn!) We know that God does this first, then we can get down to living and working as God’s own children in this marvelous creation.
Riches with God
In today’s Gospel Lesson, Jesus points us ‘to build up riches with God’. It is easy to understand that our ‘riches with God’ are what God gives us, namely God’s Grace and all that flows from it.
Our work: Response, because … therefore
We know then our work is NOT to make ourselves good enough for God. Everything we do is to be a response to God’s Grace for us. Because God makes us Good, perfect before God, therefore we can fully engage in creation. We can be passionate about life and the goodness of creation, so that we can share the necessities of life and the wonders of the universe with ALL other people, in the present and for all generations to come. The Teacher in Ecclesiastes had no room for any passion for sharing the beauty of life with others. He had no passion to know that God’s love moved God to speak a word “Let there be Light,” and after 7 days to say, “it is good!” In the resulting blessed creation of order and beauty, we can be passionately engaged in the wonders of the universe. We can share this life with another person with the passion of a marriage. We can invest in friendships that carry us, our friends, and people around the world through the trials of life. Sharing God’s riches brings us to be so passionate about life that we can expend all of our lives striving to see and share our place in God’s awesome universe. For some of us that may mean building bigger and better telescopes. For all of us it means respecting but leaving behind the ‘trees’ of judgment, condemnation and lists, sharing instead God’s Grace with all people. We can choose to make justice a reality for each person.
Sharing God’s riches is possible for everyone. We could choose not to share God’s riches. But why would we?
Story: We Ain’t Poor by Florence Ferrier
In the story We Ain’t Poor! the Sheldons, a large family in the Appalachians, live in severe financial distress after a series of misfortunes. They receive inadequate assistance, yet they manage their meager income with ingenuity — and without complaint. One fall day the social worker “visits the Sheldons in the ramshackle rented house they lived in at the edge of the woods. Despite a painful physical handicap, Mr. Sheldon had shot and butchered a bear, which strayed into their yard once too often. They canned it so that there would be meat even during the worst of the winter when their fuel costs were high. The social worker reported: “Mr. Sheldon offered me a jar of bear meat. I hesitated to accept it, but he said kindly and firmly. ‘Now you just have to take this. We don’t have much, that’s a fact; but we ain’t poor!’“[In astonished disbelief, the social work asked, ‘How can you say that?’] His answer proved unforgettable. “’When you can give something away, even when you don’t have much, then you ain’t poor. When you don’t feel easy giving something away even if you got more’n you need, then you’re poor, whether you know it or not.’”
(Gospel Notes 2001, Brian Stoffregen, reworked TL)
Look at the World all around you! … God has made us Rich and given us the ability to see more and more of the universe as God’s amazing creation … Can we say ‘We ain’t poor!’? Amen
land do we possess, where have we settled, that does God
continue to give to us, that continues to produce for us that we can
share with others?
The land that God gives us each minute has ripple effects on us, which catch the light of Christ, resplendent.
Theme for Lent: what is the acceptable fast?
6Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? 8Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up quickly; your vindicator shall go before you, the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
Deuteronomy’s reading for today the
promised land is possessed and settled. The
survival and security, the land
is yearly crops for food, for trade to provide for other needs, the
status and a place to call home … sort of.
the land is provided by God. It is not earned or deserved. God
one sided promises it. God continues to give it each day.
our history is key to living life abundantly. We know history, not
just to avoid repeating bad history, but to know the good of history,
to know God’s story, and our place in it. To remember how much God
has blessed us.
is it for each of us that God promises and gives us to posses and
settle, that provides us survival and security, that is a place to
call home, to share with our family. A place from which we are known
to be grounded and where we come from.
For a few of us it also includes land, literally, a piece of ground that we hold the title to. For most of us it is something else, a profession, a career, or a job that included a retirement plan of some kind that still produces some kind of an income for us. Or perhaps it is family before us or after us, who have provided or still provide for us, security, survival, a place to call home. Or perhaps it is our reputation, that brings us recognition, respect, and a sense of worth. Or perhaps it is our ability to make friends, or our ability to write, or produce art or music. Or it is our ability to listen, understand, and comfort others in duress.
This is the land that God is giving to us. The text makes the point that God’s giving us the promised land is ongoing, each day.
sends Isaiah to tell us what our response is to be: Each year at
harvest we give first fruits that this land has produced and
we recite God’s history with us, how God delivered us, we who were
in our past aliens, formerly hungry, once unclothed, used to be
captives, once upon a time … before we are what we are now, we used
to be those kind of people, if not in this generation then in our
ancestors’ time. Now God gives us the land
not because we are good, or pious, or righteous, but because
the land remains God’s and God chooses to give it to us.
Though we posses it and settle it the land is always God’s.
When we are done giving the first fruits then Isaiah reminds us that God wants us to celebrate that God’s land has produced again, and just as we once were outcasts, outsiders, or aliens, so also we celebrate with the outcasts, outsiders, and aliens in our midst. In Canada we call them immigrants or refugees, and others designated as outcasts, outsiders, personae non gratae.
In today’s Gospel Jesus faces the Devil, the great deceiver. The Devil wants Jesus, hungry from fasting, to feed himself, claim power for himself, and prove for himself that God will save him.
Devil tempts Jesus with everything for Jesus himself, just sacrifice
the teensie, weensie little thing of worshipping Satan. The things
the Devil offers are not bad in and of themselves. They become evil
when they are hoarded for oneself, instead of provided to everyone!
Devil tempts us with everything as though life were an if/then
reality: if you serve the devil then you will succeed in life.
assures us that life is not that way, not blessed life lived
abundantly. Life lived abundantly is always an because/therefore
God blesses us therefore we can bless others.
Jesus knows clearly that the Devil is the great deceiver who perverts everything into a private if/then proposition. Jesus knows that bread is good for life, but not just for himself, rather for all people. Instead Jesus gives his life that others may eat and never be hungry.
knows that power is important, that it can save and destroy
people. Jesus is not ready to take shortcuts to gain corrupt power,
power promised by the great deceiver, power which is really nothing.
Instead Jesus exercises God’s power by sacrificing himself so that
all people may live. That’s real power.
Jesus knows clearly that people of faith trust God because of what God has done for them and that God promises to protect them. But to test God is something entirely different from trusting God.
Jesus exposes the Devil’s false use of scripture. Jesus trusts that
even as he faces the cross, the most horrific death known at the
time, God’s angels will be on watch with him, as he sets right the
chaos of the devil in all the universe for all people. Jesus
demonstrates so clearly God’s grace and acceptance for everyone, so
that we no longer have any real excuse to try to test God.
Paul’s writings to the Romans Paul makes this very clear: salvation
witnessed to by the confession of Jesus Christ on one’s lips and in
one’s heart is not reserved for just some people. Jesus’
salvation is offered for everyone. The Holy Spirit can create faith
in anyone. There is no closed club, or special skills required, or
properly formed faith practices that make only certain people God’s
children. God’s grace alone creates children of God. The Holy
Spirit creates saints of sinners. God never stops giving to us what
we need to be faithful. But the key is this: everything is dependent
on God, not on us, not even on our responses.
is in control. God continues to give land
get to respond, giving our first fruits and practising the fast that
brings justice, freedom, clothes, food, and homes for those without.
So we celebrate along with even the outsider, the outcast, and the
alien all that God has done for us, through history and in these last
Sermon notes? outline? sketch? yes that’s it, a sketch.
For the best read, take in the next blog post first, then this one.
Quick sermon outline
for Baptism of Our Lord 13 Jan 2019
John is wild and
calls for the chaff to be burned up.
Jesus will come to
judge, and purify.
We need all that.
But Christ comes and
graciously gives us life.
hellfire and brimstone in that?!
Given free choice so
that we can love
we can also choose (
and continually do) to hate, or to be deceptive and dishonest,
disloyal, or even just plain BAD. Call that EVIL.
If we have choice,
we will somehow, sometime still choose against love, against God,
against living well.
God wants us to
love, so we all get to put up with Evil, and suffer it too.
Well then all that
which brings us to sin and turn from God, to turn from loving our
neighbour as ourselves and our enemies , and our God with all our
heart mind and soul, then and only then Jesus will remove that from
That’s having the
dross burned right out of ya.
And it is like
having the chaff burned up in one big hot fire.
It will not be fun,
But it is what we
most need, and we are going to get it!
To we are baptized,
in the name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, always trinitarian,
or it is not a complete baptism.
The water drowns out
the sinfulness, and yet it remains as potential, inevitable
potential, so that we can choose love.
The oil prepares us
for God’s presence in us.
The sign of the
Cross prepares us for sacrifice, even of our lives, so that others
will know Grace upon Grace and God’s love, Christ’s forgiveness
and the Holy Spirit’s wild ride down the white water of life with
wind, flame, breath, and beauty all everywhere.
Then for the rest of
our lives we anticipate the life eternal, in the resurrection with
comes to be, after the dross is burned right out of us, so that we
can enter Christ’s freedom in eternity.
This we look forward
But we do it, well
… we do everything we do, as one of a crowd of witnesses, a crowd
of saints, all in light,
diffused and reflected into beautiful images of God, as we are made.
It may be cold out
there in that cruel world of dishonesty, deception and scapegoating,
but in here, where
the natural fuels are burned,
the fuel of urgency
until in God’s time there is patience,
the fuel of hurt
(could become anger) until forgiveness flows freely like milk with
ginger snap cookies,
the fuel of pride
(that discounts others) until gratefulness abounds at each breath
though one has nothing left,
These fuels are
burned and burned well, until
in this mind, heart
its as toasty
comfortably warm as a great wood stove on a cold winter’s day.
Note: this is a sermon for those who have the privilege on the second Sunday of Christmas.
IHP TZ is an organization started by Dr Dennis and Paula Lofstrom, working to build health care facilities in TZ (Tanzania) where I spent some of my childhood. Their first project was in Iambi.
They and many others joining them (you could, too!) are building a miracle: the first pediatric hospital in TZ, just north of Dar, in Zinga. See http://www.ihptz.org/ for more information.
God Calls Us Home, Today, Again
This Christmas, on each and every one of the 12 days of Christmas, we celebrate God coming to us. God comes to us in the form of an infant child, fully God, fully human. This birth is such a common thing: that another human is born. This birth is such an extraordinary thing: that it is God born as one of us – this birth is so different for God. It changes everything.
But it is not that God changes at all. It is not that God’s mercy is only now known. It is not that God does anything new – except that with Jesus’ birth God gives us a clearer view of God’s own self.
Christmas is not when God
somehow changes to be with us.
God was always with us.
The greatest change is in us. God changes us so that we trust God’s presence. We are the ones, traipsing along on a wayward trip, who Jesus’ birth changes.
We see God’s self better, as a human who lived among us, ready to sacrifice himself, not others, to bring order our of chaos by Grace. We see most clearly God’s unconditional love, forgiveness and eagerness to give us new life. We see the Holy Spirit continuing God’s work even today among us!
We become better than we
were, but more importantly we become less than we were before: less
independent and more interdependent, less demanding and more
generous, less greedy and more thankful, less hard-necked and more
flexible, less judgmental and more forgiving.
In a word, Jesus is born, so
that we can hear God’s invitation to come home.
On that dark night on the hills surrounding Bethlehem the shepherds are out with their flocks. Shepherds are the lowest kind of humanity. They are the ones sent out to keep sheep safe from the dangers of the night. These are more than unqualified, they are the ones others determined to be expendable, unqualified except to guard stupid sheep.
God makes them a special
invitation. God invites them to his own home, to celebrate the birth
of his only son. This home doesn’t look like much. It is a simple
stable. Okay, it’s really a dirty animal barn.
Animals and a few poverty-captured people sit around after a birth of a baby boy. And this is a Jew that is born, a member of the backward religious people that cannot run their own affairs well enough to keep from getting overrun by foreign power after foreign power. The Romans are just the lastest of a long line of more powerful countries that have conquered these poor people.
What can the shepherds do?
The sky shines bright with a star like no other. The air resounds
with choruses of angels. One angel says not to be afraid, but these
poor shepherds are beyond being afraid. Their world just got all
turned around. Everything is changed. And God invites them to his
What can they do but go and
pay him a visit?
At least they do not need to
change to fit in. The stable is for animals and people like them. So
the shepherds go to visit God at home.
If God invites the shepherds,
then the God certainly will invite us. And neither do we need to
change to fit in. There is no special suit, no special words to say.
God invites us into the earthy parts of this world. For that is God’s
home. That is where God’s heart is.
Home. Home is the place where
your heart is. Home is where your family is. Home is where you
belong, no matter what you do, no matter what happens, no matter what
you do good or wrong.
Home is this and much more.
Home is where God created us
to live, it is paradise, it is the New Jerusalem, it is the answer to
This Christmas we come home.
Not just to those who gave us birth and raised us. Not just to those
who grew up with us. Not just to those we gave birth to. Not just to
those who love us. This Christmas we come home to the One who loves
From Iambi Tanzania this a
snippet from the 2003 news:
The air is very soft this morning, just a whisper of breeze, temp. about 70. It rained last night, again. Yes, the rains have returned. Thank you for your prayers, and thank You, God!
One day after I sent the last e-mail winds had shifted in Dar es Salaam. The following day it rained in Singida. The day after that it sprinkled here rather like a promise, “Don’t despair.” The following night it rained, a good pour with lightning and thunder, and the night after that and last night. The lake is filling like a bathtub.
The frogs are in full chorus as the Duromo’s streams began to fill and flow once more. New life, new hope. The spring rains, though 2 months late, have come.
Our neighbors are all busy now that the rains have come. They’ve cleared the fields by hand during the dry season, and cattle and goats grazed the soil almost bare. Subsistence farming is a cooperative family enterprise. Grand parents watch the youngest children while Dad gets behind the plow. Younger children guide the two small oxen with sticks and Mom drops the precious maize seeds into the newly cut furrow and covers them over. Up one row and down the next.
But, for the next three months, until the harvest begins, there will be severe hunger on the Iamba Plateau. Some people think that growing a cash crop, like the English imposed growing potatoes on the Irish, or raising sheep for wool in New Zealand, or growing strawberries in Guatemala for the Americans is a good alternative to subsistance farming, but what if the cash crop fails or the market changes? How do those farmers then feed themselves? Are there social impact studies as well as environmental ones when it comes to agricultural management?
I went down to the hospital a few days ago to snap pictures of our nurse-midwife taking advantage of the midwife kits supplied to us by Global Health Ministries. The moms and midwives were delighted with the hats, towels, soap, washcloths, and receiving blankets in each kit. One mom had had a C-section which costs $60.00 at Iambi. At all of the other hospitals it’s $100 to $105.00 But when the average family’s cash income averages only $20.00 a month, as it is in this area, the hospital bill of $60.l00 is staggering. After a month, if the family cannot pay the bill, it is forgiven, and the mom and baby go home. But the hospital cannot absorb these costs and still pay the nursing staff, buy the medicines and anesthesia, and even the cleaning supplies and still function without outside assistance.
Suffering and hopelessness are the best means to learn the best and strongest lessons for each of us. As acceptance unfolds, dimly at first, and then more clearly, we see that God’s divine timing has been working all the time and that we have lost nothing that is not coming back to us, perhaps in new containers, but in God’s abundance.
Paula concluded her email with: Thank you for your prayers. Thank You God for the rain and the promise of new life. Thank you for birds and bull frogs and lizards large and small.
Home is where God calls us to live. Home is where God gives us opportunity to give our very lives that others may live. Home is where we stop violence and injustice, where forgiveness and mercy prevail.
Home is where God invites us
to live, no matter who we are. No matter what we are. Whether we’ve
been good or bad. Because we have always been both.
Home is where we hope, and it
This Christmas God invites
you to come home, to see Jesus in your lives at all turns and to
reflect him in your thoughts, words and actions of love and
This is the home that God invites us to, here where his only son is born.
Where is your home?
Your real home?
Where you are unconditionally loved?
Where can you safely unconditionally love others?
Where are you together with people of all colours, faiths, and cultures, shoulder to shoulder as equals facing each challenge and joy, … together with your beloved, you siblings, your children, your parents, your relatives, and your guests?