There is no photo of justice observed and righteousness done at all times.
It cannot exist, except by GRACE
Happy are those who observe justice, who do righteousness at all times.
1 John 2:17
The world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live for ever.
Words of Grace For Today
The way the world teaches it’s children to live is not to observe justice and do righteousness – just do not get caught.
The desires that fuel that kind of thinking are endless, in number and because of our inability to satisfy them. Our living experience of them is that they continue, as sure as the rock under our feet as we stand on a high crested mountain west of Edmonton.
Yet from God’s perspective that rocky mountain is a fleeting feature of earth, along with us living on it, and the entire planet as it spins around the star we call our sun will soon pass into oblivion.
The question for us all is how do we live in this fleeting moment, that lasts generation upon generation for us.
Observing Justice and doing righteousness at all times.
First that is impossible, a dream for some, and for all of us mostly wishful thinking.
We are saved by Grace alone. None of us are able to do other than sin, and we wretched sinners can only hope that Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection will save us, for there is no other hope for us.
So as long as we live, if we can always observe justice and do righteousness at all times, then we will be happy.
Since we cannot do that, is it true that we will never be happy?
I’d hope not, but …
… now is the moment when one needs to have prayed and trusted God, and paid a little attention in Confirmation Class.
We can be happy, because even though we cannot observe justice nor be righteous all the time, Jesus steps in for us, sets his record in place of our own.
Not on our own, but transformed by the Grace of God into saints, we can be happy, not just merely happy, but the happiest that we can ever be.
Able to observe justice and do righteousness always, only because Jesus steps in for us, the guarantee that we will be counted to have done exactly that cannot be more sure.
Happy hardly begins to describe how grateful we can be, relieved that we need not count on our own abilities, and exhilarated that life for us is wonderfully blessed by God.
Happy are we who have God doing justice, and observing righteousness, for us, for our record.
No matter our sins, as we trust God, we can join the many people who for so long have learned even amidst great grief to Sing Hallelujah Anyhow.
I will pour out a spirit of compassion and supplication on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that, when they look on the one whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.
Words of Grace For Today
Compassion and supplication,
to look and mourn, to mourn as for an only child.
What profound grief … to mourn the loss of a loved one,
a child no less, and
an only child.
When we are caught in deep emotion, especially deep sadness, despair or grief, we do not function well.
And it is good to hear again and again that at these times
Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to be there with us, interceding for us, helping us to ask for what we really need.
Even the Holy Spirit is caught by our sadness, despair and grief. The Spirit sighs so deeply words cannot express the Spirit’s empathy for us.
No matter what, there is nothing that can separate us from the Love of God. When we do not remember this, the Holy Spirit carries us until we can remember.
Thanks be to God, for into the darkest days of our lives the Light of Christ shines.
The Lord is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.
And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come.
Words of Grace For Today
Protests and Police using tear gas killed one of my son’s long time friends.
It helps to read that the Lord is coming …
to judge the earth, to judge with righteousness (finally)
did nothing to deserve to have a policeman kneel on his neck for 9 minutes while he struggled to breathe and stay alive, a struggle he lost.
This explodes into protest at this time because Covid 19 restrictions are not fair, not equitable. The poor are hit the hardest, many struggling anyway to find enough food each day, and now, if they go out for food, they face curfews, police harassment and arrest, incarceration and almost sure infection. Rich people are often not even inconvenienced, or bother to change the pattern of their lives.
This is not equitable.
Being poor is rarely the person’s fault. Being rich is rarely due to honest hard work.
Being black … being a young man …
none of this is a fault. Yet this brings fear that minority mothers teach their sons to be aware of, and to fear this irrational hatred, lest hatred of them would cost them their lives. Even then, too often, just breathing and being (themselves) alive, unjustly costs them their lives because someone with a police uniform and a heart full of hate takes it from them.
Where is equity in all this?
This is racism, misandry, and out of control hatred.
Protesting is the least one can do, to support those who live in fear everyday, for the hope that one day they might not have reason to live in daily fear for their lives.
I have a dream!
What are we to say when protesting peacefully is responded to with police tear gassing the protesters, even when they claim they have not used tear gas. They use pepper bomblets, which even they designate as tear gas!
And it kills, sometimes.
Yet the police still use it!
Then they refuse to allow those affected by their tear gas to retrieve a handbag to get their asthma puffer …
And another innocent protester dies at the hands of the police ….
Thank God, that God will come!
God will come to judge with equity!
Help us be as God created us to be, bearers and witnesses to the Peace that surpasses all understanding
How great are his signs, how mighty his wonders! His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and his sovereignty is from generation to generation.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us give thanks, by which we offer to God an acceptable worship with reverence and awe;
Words of Grace For Today
What shakes in your life?
When the wind blows and catches the solar panels on the roof this whole place rocks. The first time the 50 km winds did that, with 90 km winds in the forecast, I climbed out into the blowing snow and ice cold biting wind. I looked at what was shaking me in my boots.
It didn’t take long to figure out what was happening. Solid anyway I thought. Then I retraced the steps I had taken to face the solar panels into the winter sun that barely peeked above the treetops for a few minutes. I remembered how I had anchored everything solidly … and I remembered how the cold and the onset of dark had rushed me. While the front side was anchored solidly to the frame that held all the solar panels to the rooftop, and that was only probably solid enough to stand up to a 100 km wind, I had just left the back side resting on that frame of piping.
So was! The panels all together stood nearly vertically six feet above the roof and five feet wide. That’s a lot of sail force on that frame holding the panels.
It had inherent limits being on the roof anchored to the piping that held everything in place, AND the back side (in the direction the most powerful winds could hit – since there were trees disrupting the wind in the other direction) was just sitting there!
I was lucky it had not just up’ed and walked off the roof top smashing, twisting and ruining everything in its path!
I had found an abandoned 1″ thick rope a few months earlier. Not friendly to hands, it seemed tough enough, at least it looked tough. I grabbed it and let go of it right away. Then I put on my gloves first and grabbed it, ran out into sharp cold, and ran that rope from the top of the solar panel frame to the one tree that stood close on the side where the wind was blowing from. The next day I anchored it around both sides of the top of the panel and back to the tree. Done.
It still shook when the winds kicked up. I no longer was alarmed. Maybe I should have been? The whole set up is different now, but the rope is back in place, and when it shakes, I go right back to what I am doing.
in an old rope.
in a tree, which is still alive, unlike it’s neighbours.
in my ingenuity … well not really. I’m just too tired to think how to make it better and then get out and make it so. Soon, one of these days. Maybe when the rain stops.
God’s Kingdom is not shaken. It does the shaking throughout the whole universe. Wisdom begins with fear of the Lord, and needs love of the Lord (based on the Lord’s love of us) to grow.
All around, even as Covid 19 shakes us, or it should, God’s wonders are worth being awestruck by. The rope may last another day or so, or a year. But God’s unshakability lasts forever. From generation to generation God rules the universe.
For this we can stand in awe and give God praise and thanks.
There is no wind, or virus, or evil that comes against us that God is not more powerful than.
Covid 19 has shown we can meet the emissions targets set by the U.N. Maybe, just maybe, we will learn to keep it up even as the economies restart, and hopefully grow.
Then the winds may not continue to become more and more ferocious. And we can stand in thankful awe of God’s power, instead of in awful fear of what we’ve brought the environment to do to try to be rid of our destructive ways.
above all else
and count our blessings … they never stop. God is not shaken as more and more blessings pour over us, for us to share with others.
But David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.
Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace.
Words of Grace For Today
The Philistines with Israel.
Goliath versus David.
The Devil and all his powers to destroy versus the Disciples of Jesus proclaiming peace.
Covid 19 versus us, the whole population of earth.
The whole human population of earth versus all life for the survival of planet earth.
The Devil and all his deceiving followers versus the people of God who rely on truth, forgiveness and love, which is a battle with ourselves sinner-saints that we are.
… and all the other battles and wars we are caught up in.
The battles we enter in the wars we are a part of, whether we choose to be or not, are never among equal parties.
It appears that our enemies, like Israel’s and David’s (the Philistine giant Goliath), are much more powerful than we are. It seems futile to engage in what seems to be a battle to them with assured victory, when we insist it will be peace.
Like David (we hope) we are equipped with nothing great, perhaps just a slingshot and a few pebbles, or more likely just a heart filled with gratitude, joy, and hope.
Our enemies have great arsenals:
The Devil has hoards of followers and a long track record of winning and destroying those he conquers. He has the record of setting the world standards in such a way as to make life impossible unless one cheats, lies and destroys others by taking from them what one wants.
Goliath has already scared the entire Israeli army into retreating from fighting with him.
Covid 19 works in stealth mode, catching us when we are unaware, and recruiting us to spread it to others even before we know we are ill. It attacks in many and various ways, depending on the health and genes of the person invaded. We cannot see the enemy until it may be too late.
Maybe we have water and soap, sometimes hand sanitizer, and orders to stay away from others, and to stay the blazes home, but we have no idea if all that actually works, or if we can do that long enough before the virus destroys our economies so far that there is not much left of us.
We stand in God’s presence everyday. God stands with us. We need not fight at all. We humbly submit to God’s will, confess our sins and receive forgiveness, new and abundant life, and a calling to spread the news of God’s love in Jesus, which saves us all.
Whether we prevail as David did with just a pebble, God ensures that our efforts as part of God’s Kingdom bring peace to earth, in God’s time and in God’s manner.
God ensures, despite our efforts, our successes, or our failures, that there is peace for us and for all others who call on God’s name.
That outcome is why it is possible for us to engage, against all odds, to bring truth and Christ’s light to bear on all evil.
Covid 19 may not be easy to battle, yet we are on the winning side, even if it ends our lives or the lives of our loved ones here and now.
God has overcome death with Jesus’ resurrection. This we can trust.
Do not fear, or be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? You are my witnesses! Is there any god besides me? There is no other rock; I know not one.
What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.
Words of Grace For Today
Whistle blowers are not generally well received or liked by others. People simply do not like to have their nefarious activities exposed to the light of the public’s scrutiny … and possibly to face criminal charges for crimes committed.
Investigative reporters put everything on the line to search out sources, for stories that people of power may not want to have published, and which usually some people of ordinary living desperately need to have published, so that things can be set right for them, at least somewhat.
We do not need to work investigating to get the story we live to tell. Jesus story is an old, old story. We can hear it in many different voices and settings.
The story has been told since the days of old.
Jesus tells us to tell the story again. And again.
We are God’s witnesses to other people that God sent Jesus to save us from our sins, to give us new life, and to show us we no longer need to scapegoat or gaslight others in order to gain peace for ourselves.
The Holy Spirit brings us peace. We reside in it, abide in it, and when we sojourn, it stays with us. It is as permanent with us as the cross on our foreheads at baptism that never goes away. Claimed as God’s children we need not fear anything.
Not a virus, not anything.
Which does not mean that we are stupid about protecting ourselves and others from the virus as so many people are, walking as close to others as is convenient, breathing on others without further thought, and loudly telling everyone that there is no virus here!
When we are not afraid, then we can be wise about protecting ourselves and those we live with from the virus. The recommended precautions are just a beginning. We are ever vigilant … and always we pray, God protect us, for you alone are God, the rock of our living, the rock of our salvation.
Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he the child I delight in? As often as I speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore I am deeply moved for him; I will surely have mercy on him, says the Lord.
So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.
Words of Grace For Today
Ephraim is in trouble often with God, for God speaks often against him.
The selfish son is in trouble, deeply with his father, for he’s taken his inheritance before his father is even close to the end of his life. Then he’s squandered the entire inheritance.
That sounds like it’s not far from our own stories, each of ours. We take what we can claim as ours and run, and get into trouble, with our fathers, with God, – with our mothers, siblings, extended families, the community we live in, the church … and with God all over again. There are a great number of variations to the story, and every single one of us can be described by one variation or another.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is – well first a few thoughts about God as father. The image of God as father in itself is a very healthy image, one to embrace with profound joy. There’s nothing quite like the goodness of a father directed at us, loving, forgiving, accepting and inspiring us to live even better than we thought we could.
The damage done by the image of God as father is not in the image itself. It is in the abuse of positions of power occupied by men for centuries. Every good thing can be perverted. This is no exception.
The problem comes when we toss the baby out with the dirty bath water.
The abuse needs to be identified, clearly named and condemned … and ended.
The problem comes when we stupidly think that the abuse of the image of God as father is somehow made better when we replace it with abuse of the image of God as mother.
The problems multiply astronomically when we think that naming men as the problem, while ignoring the same kind of abuse, perversions, and destruction is perpetrated by women. The flavours, smells, and theme of the abuse and perversions can sometimes be collated to the gender of the abuser, but it’s just superficial.
Point blank: men abuse women. AND women abuse men. AND men abuse men. AND women abuse women. AND … God knows this all. So should everyone of us.
AND all of it is evil, and needs to be stopped. ALL abuse when it runs without restraint ends up killing it’s victims (and often the perpetrators, too.) A person is just as dead if they are murdered by physical violence as when they are driven to despair with no escape except suicide.
ME-TOO is all wrong, in that it only deals with one flavour of abuse, and ignores the rest. It is perhaps more destructive in that it sets so many people up to think that abuse is dealt with … so that the rest of it can continue unabated, the victims abandoned, the deaths unnoticed and uncounted.
The bishop last year said that we (this synod) are just starting to recognize and work on the issues of women being treated equally.
I spoke up, as I was able: some of us have been working on that for more than three decades, with everything we are, as men making sure the women in our lives get every opportunity possible and a fair deal (as much as possible.) It’s taken great sacrifice, and we’ve been sidelined often as irrelevant, our contributions raising children with great skill, grace and success belittled, and our words of giving attention to all issues of abuse ridiculed.
The challenge now is to acknowledge all kinds of abuse, by men and women, of men and women. To look at the root of it all: the need to scapegoat others as a means to advancing ourselves in life.
Back to the passages that speak profoundly of God’s unconditional acceptance of sinful sons. The translation to God’s unconditional acceptance of daughters needs be imagined, added to these stories. The stories though are powerful.
Who is your God? Not the God you say you believe in, but the God that your thoughts, words and actions belie you trust and believe in! Who is the God you live your life in response to?
Is your life a reflection of God, the universally, unconditionally accepting and forgiving father who, of a wayward son, says “I will surely have mercy on him!”
Does your life reflect the God who is portrayed in Jesus’ story as the prodigal father, who seeing his self-destructive, wasteful, wanton son approach, “filled with compassion runs and put his arms around him and kisses him?”
How marvellous it is to read these passages and know that God welcomes us, even when we have rebelled and wasted our lives and those around us!
The challenge is now:
Are we ready to be that welcoming father for all those people who have walked away from Grace and Goodness, and now desperately need a morsel of what we have in order to survive? Can we imagine being that overjoyed in welcoming back our wayward sons, daughters, parents, extended family, community members, church members, others known and strangers, even refugees and immigrants … and even those of other faiths or of no faith at all?
As we are able to do that, en-mass, then abuse, perversions and destruction of people will finally be dealt with in a manner so that they can be ended.
And all of us will be able to joyously embrace images of God as father, as mother, as Jesus the man, and as the Holy Spirit, wind, breath, and fire – lighting one under us to get on with the work of God’s Kingdom here and now.
Ah, what makes that all possible is that our God is a God of compassion and mercy, who rushes to greet us when we return to him!
The righteous know the rights of the poor; the wicked have no such understanding.
For God is not unjust; he will not overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do.
Words of Grace For Today
The rights of the poor
are known by those who are righteous, who seek to do God’s will,
but they are unrecognized by those who are wicked, who turn from God’s will.
This is a statement about what we now call universal human rights: that all people, wealthy or poor, powerful or weak, privileged or disadvantaged all have the same rights. These rights are everyone’s simply because they exist. They are inherent rights.
No one can give these rights, nor can anyone take them away or assign them to someone else. They are inalienable rights.
These do not fully exist. For the sinfulness of humans always leave those who are privileged and powerful to ignore or pervert the rights of others, poor or wealthy, in order to gain an advantage for themselves. Though our Canadian court system is supposed to uphold these inalienable rights, they tromp all over the rights of the disadvantaged. Minorities, especially First Nations and Metis are dis-proportionally convicted and incarcerated. Decades ago men used to bring their wives to court and have them convicted or worse detained in psychiatric facilities (drugged out of their minds) for years without end. Now women can do this to men, and the police, the churches, and the courts oblige them convicting on lies and against hard evidence, using W.D. as a full means to override truths with the biased will to convict no matter, just as long as the woman will lie somewhat convincingly under oath.
Those who are wicked, who think that since they break the laws and act in blatantly unethical manners, therefore everyone does, easily dismiss false convictions as if they are not a concern, or rather false convictions are SOP.
Those who strive to do God’s will, do recognize that even the courts are corrupt, falsely convicting innocent poor people routinely. And with the routine false conviction, courts blatantly invite police and women to freely lie in court. Worse they are free to gaslight their chosen victims, and to invite other bystanders to do the same.
Covid 19 makes this blatant perversion less of a priority to be dealt with than it ever was. Good people turn their eyes to ‘more important things, like the community surviving this pandemic.
Doch the righteous always recognize, work to protect, and struggle to uncover the abuses of universal human rights.
Who do we choose to be today? We will not always choose to deal with injustice and follow through, sinners as we remain. The beginning, and sometimes the best we can do is to remember. Remember how God saved us, and how God desires to use us to save others from injustices, and abuses of their basic rights.
God does recognize and reward our efforts. God already gives us salvation, freely, overwhelmingly, without reserve. We are in God’s family, God’s own people. God recognizes and rewards our efforts to support the saints (the God-made saint in each of us baptized people.) The rewards never end, and include contentment with life, a clear conscience, a pure heart, loving empathy, and renewed energy for life.
These rewards are part of the abundant life God promises us.
Rest in God’s promise, and work like the dickens to protect and keep everyone aware that universal, inherent and inalienable rights for everyone always need protecting.
This will inform our efforts to deal with Covid 19, as well. We bring protection, treatment, and (eventually) the ‘cure’/vaccine equally to everyone.
Incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways, and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his ordinances, which he commanded our ancestors.
As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
Words of Grace For Today
There are so many things to do to discipline oneself to live well.
The challenges are never ending, sometimes overwhelming, other times simple. Life without challenges is not life. The questions constantly before us are:
A. Who are we?
B. Whose are we?
Every other question is subsumed into these, and the answers we give to every other question with our living (thinking, dreaming, planning, organizing, talking, writing, and doing – or not) are also the answer to these two questions.
Once we realize and confess that we are
A. wretched sinners saved by Grace alone (not by anything we do/not do/are/aren’t), transformed continually to be Saints, and
B. God’s people by baptism into Christ,
Then we have our work cut out for us to live out the promise God creates us to be for other people: That we will bear God’s Grace and the Good News of Jesus’ saving us all, also them.
So we continue to live our lives rooted and built up in Christ, as we are established in faith.
We incline our hearts to God walking in Christ’s Way, keeping his commandments to love our neighbour and ourselves and our enemies as he has loved us.
And, as the saints in light who have gone before us have taught us, we live with overflowing gratitude.
Covid 19 has put somethings in perspective, slowed us down, kept us home, given us time to see ourselves and our families up close for hours on end, or to submerse ourselves in solitude (for those of us who live alone.)
The challenges are still great, and they tax us in new ways, and they give us new opportunities to discover who we are, and whose we are.
Will it be well with you when he searches you out? Or can you deceive him, as one person deceives another?
2 Corinthians 13:5
Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not realize that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless, indeed, you fail to pass the test!
Words of Grace For Today
An exam, sample exams, test scores, failing marks, proving oneself.
All of these come into play for human examinations.
God works differently.
First, there is actually a kind of failing, of standing against the work of the Holy Spirit so doggedly and determinedly and persistently and … or something else (we simply do not know what it is that we can do to fail.) Certainly we know we all fail to be good enough; we are saved only by the Grace of God, through faith, by the work of the Holy Spirit.
That’s exactly the breaking point of our trying to determine when we fail God’s Grace so completely that we are outside God’s abundant love. We humans cannot judge it.
All we know is that God’s Grace is for us and for all others, even the most wretched sinners … as we all were before Jesus saves us …
There are serious deceptions that humans carry out in daily life to get the better of others for themselves. None of these work on God.
God sees right through us to the core and all the way to the core and back. God knows everything about us.
If we were planning … no (it is not IF, it is since … so) Since we all plan to try to deceive God about ourselves this is definitely something to worry about, to be fearful of, and to become existentially anxious about.
The freedom we seek is to realize our attempts at deceiving God and how futile the are, and to once again throw ourselves into God’s mercy.
We can test ourselves. If we are so out of touch with our place with God it is a good place to start some finite self-awareness. The real test has already been played out on the cross, and with the resurrection we have all passed … on Jesus’ coat-tails.
When we realize how dependent our existence is on God’s Grace, then we more often, perhaps more quickly, give up on our efforts to deceive God … and other humans … about ourselves. We learn to point to God’s Grace, and offer it to others.
The greatest freedom is ours when we no longer need to depend on our own performances at all the tests life puts in front of us. We can boldly, courageously, faithfully, and lovingly trust that Jesus is with us each step of the way … and use all our energies and focus to work to give God glory in all we attempt, give God thanks in all we accomplish, and be even more grateful that we survive all the times our attempts fail.
Covid 19 is more than a test of our health. It is a test of our ability to work with and for other humans. We will fail. We will succeed, only as God gives us the abilities and we work diligently with them.
Covid 19 may be in many ways a test of our faith.
Consider that every day we face tests of our faith.
Consider there is much we each can do, even in these times.
Testing our faith does not produce a grade or pass/fail. It is not a measure of our pasts. It is a preparation for the future. It gives us a measure compared to the saints in light, which helps us answer the question, “Is there more we can do! If so, show us!”