Christ the King – Truth

What is truth?
Gospel: John 18:33-37
Selections from the texts for Christ the King Sunday, 25 November 2018, plus one verse:

Pilate: “Are you the King of the Jews?”
Jesus: “Do you ask this on your own, or did others tell you about me?”
Pilate: “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own … have handed you over.
What have you done?”
Jesus: “My kingdom is not from this world.
If … then, my followers would be fighting.
Pilate: “So you are a king?”
Jesus: “You say that I am a king. For this I was born,
and … to testify to the truth.
Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”
Pilate: “What is truth?”

I went looking today:
I wanted to see things clearly, to know the truth about faith, love and hope.
I went looking as I often do across the water.
The water is hidden by ice,
Which is hidden by snow.
And today even the far shore is hidden by the fog across the lake.

 

I looked right.

 

I looked left.

 

I looked further to the left,
to the white sticks of birch.
But nothing about clarity came to me.

Pilate does not want to, but still he asks the question that must be asked: is Jesus the King of the Jews?
Jesus says he was born to have Pilate ask him this question … and
To testify to the truth.
Those that belong to the truth listen to Jesus’ voice.
So that Jesus is testifying to the truth: that’s simple enough: the whole life, death and resurrection of Jesus is a story that we can listen to and understand.
It’s not a story about another world or another realm.
Jesus was born as a human.
And God sent Jesus to live, die and be resurrected to leave us with a story that profoundly changes everything we see in the world.
We see God more clearly: God intends and does free us from our own sins, not the consequences in this world, but the consequence that would separate us from God. Instead, as Jesus story makes clear, God sticks with us always, all ways.
That’s something … okay that is everything.
Even though we step away from God, God follows us, even picks us up and carries us forward when we can no longer walk in God’s ways or even in God’s creation.
To be loved by God, that’s everything.

That’s what Jesus’ story tells us about God most clearly,
And that we can follow in Jesus’ way …
We can (God equips us so)
Choose also
To love,
Forgive,
And be gracious
With all people
In all ways.

There is living water, flowing freely here
Beneath the ice
And it is visible
At the edge
Of the
Lake.
If
One looks in the right place for it.

Water freely flowing from under the ice.

We no longer need to sacrifice anyone or anything in order to make ourselves right with God.
First of all we cannot in any way through any means make ourselves right with God.
We just are too broken to do this.
Secondly we do not have to make ourselves right with God, because God, as Jesus did, makes Godself right with us, where ever we meander in life.
And God turns our meandering into dancing,
Our fear into deep breathing calm and assurance
And our chaos into God’s blessings for us and for others.

Abraham’s story of ‘sacrificing’ Isaac, being interrupted by God, is the story about God instructing us to stop sacrificing children to God, to appease God.
Jesus’s story of his life, death and resurrection is the story of God instructing us to stop sacrificing anything and everyone … God does not want any sacrifice, it does us no good, and God already is there by our side even when we still scapegoat someone … again … and again.

In response to the story unfolding before him, Pilate is like most of us, a bit befuddled and unaware of what’s at play before his eyes.
He thinks like a ruler of the Roman empire about to spiral into decay: there is no truth, there is no real God, there is only subjective, relativistic truth and there are only the many gods of the many religions of the many, many people conquered by Rome.
Who knows what is true about what happened before time,
Yet alone even tomorrow, given all the fake news, the lies upheld as truths, the spin that so many people put on so many things that even those that lie so freely, cannot keep track of what really happened.
But this is truth:
God so loved the world that God gave God’s only son to die for all of creation, so that those that believe in him might live, truly live, and know the truth of God’s Grace, Forgiveness, and Love.

Now that is a truth to base real hope on, hope that cannot disappoint.
That is truth.

It is the light that is always there, even if today it is obscured by the clouds so low,
The sun
Is
There

 

Visible at sunset
Yesterday after the clouds hung around all day.

And what do we do in response: Jesus calls us to love our neighbours as ourselves, even our enemies, and to love the Lord our God with all our hearth, mind and soul.

Love Cannot be Forced

Love Requires Free Choice

We believe that God created the world, and all of us,
in order that we can
love our neighbours as our selves, and especially our enemies,
and that we can love God with all our hearts, minds and souls.

Love
requires that the person who loves,
freely chooses to love.

Love cannot be forced from another, it must come freely from the person who loves.

And that also requires that we can choose to not love,
that we can choose to hate, to seek vengeance, that we can break ourselves and our relationships, even our relationship with God,

the consequences for which, since we all make this choice again and again,
are suffered by not only by the person who chooses not to love
but by all of us.

There is so much sinning and suffering, only God can make it right.

So he gave his son
(more on that another day)
to pay the final and complete price for our failed choices, our choices

not

to

love.

God not only pays the price, but stays with us, even as we suffer the consequences of our own and other’s sins.

God again and again re-creates in us the ability, willingness, and possibility
to choose to love.

And we choose to love, even those who make themselves our enemies.

Dance.

Dance and choose to love.

Dance and love and choose to give thanks.

Dance and love and give thanks and choose to hope.

Be hope-filled, thankful, loving and full of the dance,

so that you can know against all odds and evidence and experience to the contrary that

all will be well,
all will be well,
all manner of things will be well.

Progress ?

Progress    ?

 

What is progress?

 

I do not mean just what is the definition of progress

But what is it to actually make some progress towards what is the ultimate goal or purpose of life?

 

So the question begs first the other question: what is the ultimate goal or purpose of life, and then what can one do to move towards that goal or purpose?

 

Better stated: how does one live, so that life is good?

Or

To use Julian of Norwich’s words:

How does one live, so that

All will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well,

even when there is no evidence that anything is well at all?

 

There are so many considerations for all of that, which today I am not even going to try to approach yet alone address, or, maybe not.

But I saw

Progress

Right before my eyes.

 

First,

the natural progress,

comprssd over just a few days,

 

 

 

from snow free on the first,

with water free to canoe across

 

 

 

To lightly dusted

showing only on the cleared areas and pathways

 

 

 

To fully snow covered

ready for skiing

and open water waving nicely at the wind.

 

 

 

To obscured by the condensation on the window in the early hours

 

 

 

To a clear view of ice

Hanging on the reeds

 

 

 

To the ice covering the lake

The ice formed all across the rest of the lake all at once.

Two hours before this photo taken at 12:26 noon

The lake was still waving to the wind.

I thought it was hello but it was a good bye!

 

So far, besides the sudden full lake freeze

This is just the progress of a fall in Canada.

 

 

 

 

Until sunset, when the forces of expansion,

Ever present as water gives way to ice,

Break the one piece surface.

The cracks show the lake’s breaking points

In vivid tracks.

 

 

Now comes the challenge,

a bit of photography,

A bit of philosophy

A bit of Grace

And a lot of Hope:

How to capture the scene in front of me that sings so wonderfully

Across my eyes and through my fingers to my brain?

 

Because, just trying to capture that teasingly intriguing ‘S’ of a crack

The natural tendency, especially framed by the bushes on either side of

this narrow canoe landing,

oops

this ski entrance on to the lake, –

the natural tendency is to put the ‘S’ in the middle of the frame

 

And as marvelous as it was in-person here the above photo kind of dies

A quick death as the eye stops with the ‘S’ and moves no further.

 

 

So it takes some moving and trying, and seeing:

 

S Right

So the photos above and below are an effort to move the ‘S’ off the center

to invite one’s eye to dance around the photo.

 

 

 

 

S Left

Somehow they just still sit under the wonder, somehow flat.

 

 

So the idea is to look around in a different direction to see something more.

 

 

And with that effort  still missing the wonder of the view

I tried getting more,

literally more of what was in front of me:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The panorama of the whole view out the canoe, opps, ski access point.

It’s all there and still that wondrously difficult and intriguing ‘S’ falls dead compared to the reality in front of me.

 

So …

 

 

 

 

 

I tried for a little less of everything

Which becomes intriguing

with the clear focus on the near, iced shore,

a view of the ‘S’

heading off to the sunset

leaving us at the far shore

catching a ride back to the near shore,

broken by – well it’s

still not quite right with the small branch breaking in on the left,

A ‘merge’ that distracts the eye out of the essentials to the big ooppps.

 

But it is -20° C

That’s minus 20° Celsius

I’m using voice activation to start the photos,

Which does not work for panoramas

so off come the gloves to shoot.

And my bared fingers are crying SOS

(which always gives way to them splitting more painful cracks at the tips in protest, which take days to heal),

So I did not get that even normally simple merge corrected,

a small step of progress towards good,

That I normally would not pass up on.

 

 

Still the sun rises again the next morning, gorgeously red and promising …

 

Promising of more snow

Which comes in spades

Or inches

Or millimeters.

But it fills the skies after 10:00 until dark and beyond,

The land gets a new cover, perfect for skiing.

 

The furnace has developed a hole in the combustion chamber, pumping C0 into the cabin,

And I have to turn it off through the nights, and only when I can get by without it’s heat does my head clear enough to deal with all the challenges which a furnace-less camper presents.

 

I move from flowing water, even heated water,

to ‘running’ water:

I run,

to get water,

then I have running water.

 

 

 

 

Progress.

Do

You

See

What is progress?

 

The progress that is inevitable

And the progress which is the result of

the labour of hope and photography

Which catches and communicates the wonders of creation

To demonstrate

Pure

Beauty.

 

God’s beautiful world.

 

What progress have you made lately?

Not just getting through each inevitable day,

But moving each day a step sideways and deeper

Toward those things that

Are worth living

For

And

From?

 

 

Well,

Will

all be well,

Not just in words,

But in the soul of your life?

In the soul of this creation?

In the face of challenges and temptations that open the door

To evil and sin allowing them to prevail?

 

Or are you a Saint, by grace, giving witness to God’s presence everywhere, always.

 

Do you love your neighbours as your self, and your enemies,

and the LORD your God, with all your soul and your might?

 

Only by Grace,

is real progress possible.

Change

Change

 

Yesterday
Was
All
Saints’
Sunday

The afternoon came late with snow
Enough to cover the browns of fall
And cover most everything with the white of winter.

Change.
It is not enough that it’s change.
This one, many of us would have wished, would have waited a month or more.
Makes for a long winter, or so we say.

We don’t mind change, we just want to be in control. We want to choose what change comes our way and forms our futures becoming our past.

So what change would we choose?
The lists are endlessly wishful, and just about totally impossible.

So what to do with this change, this snow change.
It’s a little thing, really, snow in November.
It’s the cold, the cost for fuel which may become impossible.
And that is not just a little thing.

Which does not melt the snow or reduce the cost for fuel.

What can one do with such a change?
It’s simple.
By morning more snow floated loose from the clouds
Onto the brow-beaten ground that is as much home as anywhere;
It’s enough to ski on.
And it’s enough to make a great time preparing for the winter to come.

Snow.
For Saints all, it is an opportunity,
an opportunity to turn what many will complain about,
into a graceful chance to enjoy the wonders of creation.

Wonders are many, and the thankfulness one holds
For the little things,
Or the big things,
That make cold into a gift and wonder.

The canoe is stored for the winter; it’s too dangerous to canoe with water so close to freezing as one glides on the ripples, waves and fish spinning galore.

And the skis are ready.
Tomorrow will be the day to first cross country ski on the ground that God created and called good.

All will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.

All Saint’s Sunday

All Saints Sunday

Jesus is deeply upset, even angry, when he learns that Lazarus has died.

Mary and Martha, and  many with them blame Jesus, if only he had been there to keep Lazarus from dying.

Jesus is upset again, he weeps.

Then Jesus makes it happen.

He has the people remove the stone in front of the grave.

Calling him to come to him Jesus brings Lazarus back to life.

Then Jesus tells the people to take the bindings off the hands and feet of Lazarus.

 

It takes people, doing as Jesus tells them.

It takes people to blame Jesus for the only end there is to life, death.

It takes people like Martha to protest the stench, before the miracle.

It takes people to free Lazarus from the bindings of death.

 

It takes Jesus, calling on the Father, to bring Lazarus back to life.

 

What is it that needs new life in your life, or is it your life itself that has died, even though you still breathe and your heart beats?

 

There is a long history of the church selecting people who have lived special lives and canonizing them, making them saints.

I grew up, studied and am ordained as a Lutheran, with the essence of my being to bring the visible grace of God into the experience of as many people as I encounter.

So I inherited and embrace a tradition that says all this special saints stuff is okay but misleading.

We don’t make ourselves special. Only God can.

We don’t usually see how it is that we or others are special, only the Holy Spirit can show us that.

And most importantly, God makes each and everyone of us into saints, even though we remain sinners, both at the same time.

Simultaneously saints and sinners,

is the phrase,

is the reality.

No perception is reality, or the other’s lies are made into reality.

We are all saints and sinners simultaneously.

So this is All Saints Sunday, it is our day, our day as we are by grace who we are not otherwise, children of God, and the people who reflect the light of Christ in the world.

 

Where did you shine to this day?

 

The snow hit this afternoon, as we made the last canoe ride across the lake against the wind that would become strong and filled with wet snow.

So we packed the canoe up, tucked it away, safe until Spring, and should have brought out the skis, because the snow is deep enough now for the first ski of the year.

 

Later we will walk on water again.

As the lake freezes and snow covers it we will ski on water frozen.

By grace, until the propane runs out. Then, who knows.

 

I suppose there will be those who will blame someone, maybe Jesus, that he was not here. But he is, by grace also suffering and celebrating life.

 

By grace, those who wish me dead and gone, will be disappointed for yet another year or twenty.

 

That’s life. That’s new life. That’s the resurrection of the dead.

Jesus has done it more than a few times.

 

Be alert. Jesus will do it in your lives, too.

Catch your breath now, for later, in the aftermath of new life, you may have little time to catch it. It’ll be filled by the Holy Spirit blowing fire and spirit through every fibre of your being.

 

All Saint’s Sunday.

Here’s to you, Spirit made saints, all.

Breathe.

We are all still sinners.  And one can expect sinners’ effects to roil into our lives.

Breathe.

Jesus is still raising us back to life, giving us new breath in spite of our expectations that we will no longer breathe.

Breathe.

It’s all gift.

Start of a Sweet Month

1 November,  All Saints Day
Start of a Sweet Month

It is a sweet month, November is, a month when winter is not set, though the sun sets early and rises late. The hard cold is not yet, and the water is still clear for canoeing.
A month to prepare, a month that is the end of the church year, a month when travelers are few and far between and solitude and peace are more easily found in old haunts and newly explored places.

Then on the first day of this sweet month, with temperatures already below zero often in October, the cold arrived over night at -7 with a low forecast of -4. In town it’s -3.
Halloween was a cold one again.
And November came in with just a skiff of snow.

 

Snow on the canoe.

 

 

 

 

A closer look at the obvious presence

 

Of a beaver, obvious because of the telltale tooth marks on the trees, as the beaver prepares for winter, setting the food of trees in storage next to the beaver house, not 50 meters distant downstream.

 

This, just a stone’s throw from the wake up view, is the outflow creek of the lake. The beaver have taken this creek, dammed and controlled it to keep the lake at high water marks and made a quiet pond, a home for them, and for us to canoe on just down the creek a bit, over a couch some fools left on the ice one winter past.

This the stillness of wonderful weather, quiet from the throngs, and distance from the noise of the city, but not out of reach of the military jet sonic booms as they reach out to distant sorties.

Here the soul, on All Souls Day, can live well.
Here the saint, on All Saints Day, can live well.
Here creation is good.
Money is scarce, fuel for transportation and electricity (generator made) is short, and propane for heat is dwindling.
Ah, a wood stove in a shelter on a trailer, which would provide dry heat, a system for heat that costs labour and chainsaw gas and oil, and truck gas to haul in the wood. But that’s a pipe dream.

Even so, here, whatever may come,

all is well, all is well, all manner of things are well.

Home, Sweet No-Home

Home Sweet No-Home
This Halloween

The autumn this year has been mixed as to whether we are going to experience a bit of summer finally or at least a taste of fall, or is the weather just going to quick-jump right into freezing temperatures and snow cover, but never enough to ski on.

Summer to Snow

Snow lays on the ground even before the leaves have all fallen.

 

 

Bare Brown

The snow is gone and the leaves with it.

 

 

Piles of Ugly

The trash shows again, that people thought it was their privilege simply to toss along the path into the woods.

There are high piles of ash dotting the edges of the campsite and the woods around, as if to carry and pile them around were to have cleaned up after oneself. Nails, broken metal rods, pallet plates, bricks, concrete blocks, half burned plastics, old cans, broken plastic you-name-its, and the most disturbing, an old quad lead-acid battery. (We got that back into the recycle system thanks to Primco Dene’s staff at the car wash and oil change business!)
The bad behaviour of humans should no longer surprise me, but it does. Good behaviour is always welcomed and I try to remember to thank people for it.

 

 

 

The real joy of being home, at no-home, are the views and light and water and sky.

Standing Together

Whether it’s the solid white-ish grey trunks of the poplar,

 

 

 

Cross Tops
Or the tops of leafless trees crossing the grey skies.

 

Leaning White

Or the white birch barely hanging in there on the shore.

 

 

Wedges of Reality

There simply is nothing like being able to canoe out on to the lake to see the afternoon sun playing with clouds and pure reflections making harmonious orchestration wedges of trees on the shores.

 

 

 

Beckoning Light

Until the sunsets behind the trees on the shore beckoning me to wander closer to the wonders of creation.

 

Ending Delight

Then the universe comes together in specular beauty as the water reflects in ripples my presence in the canoe in the reeds as the sun claims clouds on the horizon as its playing field.

For being homeless, this is a wonderful home, creation with a small wonderful place for me.

Where is your home?
Do you see beauty all around you?
Do you see creation as a gift?
Life, each day, each hour, each moment as time to marvel at all that is, bad and good, ugly and beautiful
In creation and creatures alike?

Out for a Bit of Beauty

Out for a Bit of Beauty

Before the showers of the day a quick paddle around the lake at sunrise caught the goodness of light and life.

The colours against the sky reach from reeds to single tree.

 

 

 

The colours are not the greatest but it’s as good as it gets. Fall cool has hit and the leaves are turning, ready for the winter to come.

 

After a day of soft rain showers a walk through the freshly washed world worked wonders.

 

 

The road lined by birch sentinels keep watch though all atrocities still perpetually ruin plants and creatures alike.

 

 

The entrance after rain is less easily traversed, keeping undedicated traffic to a minimum.

 

 

The traffic is still high enough for stupidity to persist.
Can you find it?

 

Flowers colour the forest floor.
(OK, not quite flowers.)

 

 

The dreary evening light is obvious here.

 

And less here

 


Until one compares it the morning light before a day of raining gently.

 

 

How wonderful it is to live in the midst of such beauty,

and to live so well,

Despite loved ones become enemies by their choice lying and wreaking havoc in my life to try to ruin in.

Who has time or energy for revenge, though new enemies treat me as if I would somehow allow anger to ruin my life?

God will judge those who have participated, who have maltreated me, who have tried to contribute to my ruin. That judgement is more real and more profoundly problematic than any revenge I could seek.

As for me, I can choose again and again to forgive,
to bind and move on,
or ignore the work of evil against me or the stupidity that it masquerades as.

Live Peace.

Enjoy.

Breathe.

The wonders of fresh water astound and point to the goodness of the Creator.

Home-Bittersweet Home

I’ve been away for a while, missing the beauty of home.
One of the first things I did is put the canoe in the water just after sunset
And
Immerse myself in
the Colours
the Fresh Air
the Quiet
Of a pair of loons calling to each other.

Sunset drips colour into solitude.
These attributes reach well towards Plato’s ideals.

It took a while to get everything safely secured for the fall.
But with a warm fire burning, the stars in full view, and the air just cool enough to keep almost every bug at bay,
I settled in for a sleep in a bed custom made by me for this old body, firm for my arthritic back, a hip hole for the arthritic hip, raised for the GI that is so challenging and warm against even the deepest cold.
Waking before sunrise the stars were clear but the lake deep in fog so obvious even in the dark of night.
After a short walk I took this shot literally out the window, weathered grime and all on the window, with the fog back-dropping the trees, water and reeds.

View from a room.

Before the walk,
Before the sunrise,
Before breakfast,
I stepped out to the fresh quiet and put this together in a panorama.

Birch Frames, Water Fogged, Reeds Galore.

It’s good to be home.
It’s bittersweet to be home.
It’s part of the colour of life to be home having survived so many threats to my well-being and life.
If you pray, pray for me and mine; but pray most of all for all those whose lies brought my life to be threatened, and for those who threatened, directly or indirectly.
I cannot imagine what it is like to live, knowing one’s own lies, blatant and obvious, ignored as lies by others, any who have added their own lies to the perverse saga, bring such cruelty to another human being.
I cannot imagine what it is like to live, knowing that one’s own willful blindness invites and allows others to lie, blatantly and obviously, and then to bring threat upon another’s life.
That kind of winning is …
Well …
It’s not winning, it’s losing in the ultimate way, it is to lose one’s integrity and being. It is to sacrifice what cannot be regained or bought or undone. It is to sacrifice one’s own good, to bring rot on another human.
My life may have been, may still be under threat, very real and present.
But I still remember the actual events of history, the loving kindness given and received, the abuse and false accusations, the wondrous times of trust, the unpredictable outrages, the marvelous times of affection, the danger to myself and the ones given into my care, the delight for us all, the Gaslighting and perversions, the truth and my resilience,
My survival.
My yes’s and my no’s.
My clear response to attacks on my person: my insistence that reality be participated in and NO I was not going to kill myself as I was constantly accused I would.

Who in their right mind would say it is a crime to answer one’s spouse’s constant barrage of false accusations that one is going to kill oneself by saying that one is immune, one has been inoculated, the side effects of medicine no longer make the abuse beyond intolerable, though the abuse certainly continues. NO means NO.

And in this case NO is a clear statement of LIFE at it’s best. How could that be criminal? Or possibly create fear? Or be unnatural?

What’s unnatural is one’s spouse’s constant barrage of false accusations that one is going to kill oneself….

And this is home … where this does not stop.
And I stay, because this is where I am, if barely.
When, though, will it become as important to listen to a man say NO, as it is a woman say NO.
Today, I say YES, an amazing YES  … this is the wonder of home.
Today, I say NO, NO, those who have done me evil will NOT determine my life. God will adequately deal with them, and I am thus able to remain gracious and kind.
Who would want, given the opportunity to leave all judgement and consequence to God … who would want to become vengeful after a life of forgiving and unconditional love?

Let’s see: on the one hand one would become Evil personified, one would consume life, one would rot from within, one would live in torment and in order to make it through each day one would have to live in denial.
Or one can by grace choose to be Goodness personified, and therein one gives life freely to so many around, one grows, matures, and blossoms as beauty within, one lives at peace with the universe, with others (even one’s enemies) and with God, and one can embrace truth, both the evil and the good of truth … and one can delight in things small and great.

How do you choose?

As for me and my household, we choose to serve the Lord, and to trust and live out amazing Grace.

For now it is Autumn begun,

Winter ahead.

Always then Spring!

It’s about TIME

It’s about TIME

The way to defeat evil is to live a good life.

A trip to friends brought us to a familiar, wonderful view out over the mountains.

Though our visiting took priority over getting high on the mountains until the sun was well up in the sky. The sunrise was less rise than rain fall. So we enjoyed the clear air clean of the wildfire smoke from the many BC fires. The clear mountain air.

A breath of fresh air as good as good friends: priceless.

And after a jaunt up we went down by the riverside to enjoy the flow of wonder,

As water roiled serenely reaching for the sea across the rocks.

 

The last outing I had was a while ago, when ice still held the water under wraps

Just nice.

 

and the moon stuck itself hidden in clear view over the ice.

 

The greatest marvel though was definitely the golden

Wonder of the setting sun spread through the warp and weave of this universe.

My mind

Full

Ness

of what may come.

Grace is the only aspect of life that brings real rewards.

Breathe ….

Time is always on the side of truth.

Goodness shines bright. Think. Live. Be courageous,

The truth will win out.