More Stupid Deadly

It was Friday 20 March 2020. All sorts of information had already been made widely available concerning Covid 19.

An health emergency is declared on Tuesday 17 March.

The advice, and later requirements, are

  • to wash your hands often during the day, especially before and after touching surfaces,
  • to keep social distance (at least 2 metres or 6 feet away from others)
  • avoid gatherings of people (over 50 people gatherings are banned)

For the latest information on restrictions (now 15 people on 29Mar, and lots more as the attempt is made to limit the fast spread which will overwhelm available services) see: https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx

There is much more: to repeat what many have posted already:

A study from researchers at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), published in the New England Journal of Medicine, suggests the virus can live

  • up to four hours on copper,
  • up to a day on cardboard,
  • up to three days on plastic and stainless steel, and
  • up to three hours in the air.

The times vary according to environmental conditions, of course. Meaning these could be much longer under ideal conditions (for the virus – very un-ideal for us!)

NOTE! Freezing temperatures ‘put the virus in stasis’, meaning freezing does not kill it all, but preserves much of it! Meaning the above times are put on hold in freezing temperatures.

An earlier study of SARS Cov (the outbreak of 2002-3) determined that the survival time for this related virus under optimal dry surface, air conditioned temperatures, could be as long as 2 weeks, or 3 weeks in a liquid environment at room temperature. The greatest transmission ‘assistants’ could be foamites (objects or materials which are likely to carry infection, such as clothes, utensils, and furniture.) https://www.hindawi.com/journals/av/2011/734690/

Still needed is information at what temperatures/humidity SARS CoV2 is killed.

Bright Clear Nice Icicle

Sometimes the light is so bright that it bounces all over and compromises the beauty of the most natural developments. Here the icicles of warm days and cold nights catch the evening sun that lays down shadows sweeping across the soft curves of blown snow.

The light’s reflections and distortions do not change the snow, the trees, the shadows, the icicles. It changes only our perceptions.

Reality is still reality.

I’m in Walmart to get the few groceries I need and can afford, wiping down items to disinfect them before putting them in my sanitized container, to take to the self check out; controlling what I can.

A father walks past me, whom I’ve greeted at a distance just minutes before, who says to me:

“It’s airborne. Wiping down things will not help.”

I responded sarcastically, “You’re so smart, but deadly wrong!”

Later I’m in the Dollar Tree picking up essentials, keeping my distance from the people in front of me, and I turn part way around and see the line up behind me, the nearest person is less than 2 feet away. Everybody behind that person is just as close, as if there were no warning to keep your distance from other people.

The golden sun, set spreads no reflections. Instead just beautiful light.

We have the ability to see the same things at different times, in different light, and appreciate the root of the beauty of the universe.

The light’s reflections and beauty do not change the snow, the trees, the icicles. There are no shadows. Still the real change is only our perceptions.

Reality is still reality.

What gives, with the deadly stupidity about town?

Someone standing that close to a person with a compromised immune system could be essentially killing the compromised person.

Do people not listen? Learn? Care?

Or are people so angry at being told to change their habits that they protest by not following the recommendations?

Or is it the disbelief of the masses that gets crazy people elected? That tolerates systemic abuse of identifiable groups of people? That brings intelligent people to jump on the band wagon of Gaslighting victims of abuse?

Stupid is just Stupid. Sometimes it is also Deadly.

Stupid Deadly Things I’ve Heard Today

Interspersed with Truth and Beauty

You probably should be able to tell the difference!

Golden Grass

If there is all white almost everywhere, the exceptions, like a bundle of golden grass, will stand out, in the light, as beautiful.

If it’s just white,

It just snowed really heavily.

If it’s all just grass, this bundle is not that interesting, most likely.

If one has just gold, well that’s another problem I’ve never had,

money problems.

It’s just like a cold. I don’t see what all the fuss is about.

Right, for some people Covid 19 is just like a cold and does no more damage than a cold.

It’s just like the flu. I’m not worried.

Well, you should take flu more seriously. It’s fatality percentage is less than 1.0%, but it is still deadly for some people.

And it mutates every year, so it can become more deadly in a year or less.

Dull Light, Dull Brain All White

If there is no light, than nothing is seen as it really is. Everything becomes so much the same that it’s just dull, and then who would be interested?

It’s all a bunch of nothing. It’s just a kind of flu.

Yes, it is a kind of flu, a different kind of flu. Not in it’s make up, but in it’s ability to kill it has perhaps the same or greater fatality percentage as the Spanish flu. The Spanish flu hit a small community in northern Canada and of the 80 people there 72 died within a short time.

The Spanish flu killed in a few hours.

Covid 19 is estimated to have a fatality rate similar to the Spanish Flu.

The Spanish flu killed 50 to 100 million people.

So why worry if Covid19 and it’s mutations kill that many people every year or more – since the percentages of infected and the percentage of dead are the same, the population is much larger therefore proportionately many more people will die, or if this virus is not reduced by the passing of seasons (dies off due to the heat of summer) then it may be a great number more?

It may be in a short time that way too many people will die to allow life to continue as we know it!

Because it will not take long for there to be no one to grow, distribute and sell the food you have become dependent on, or the products, or … well, anything.

Making Tracks in the Simplest Part of the Day: Beautiful Light

When the light shines, then you can see the beauty of a simple day.

And when you take time to figure out the truth, then you can act appropriately,

so you do not expose dozens of people to your infection, killing a handful of them.

That’s the big deal.

Cold Lake has supposedly 4 cases of Covid 19 as of today.

Schools are closed until at least September, Libraries are closed.

Makes sense with a military base and lots of wealthy people traveling the world, and coming home

to share their experiences.

Lent as Story

2020.02Feb25LentOurStory

Lent as (our new) Story

One of God’s gift to us humans is our ability to understand stories, to hear them and experience what is in them, and to write stories to convey more than just the words describe, or as in movies, more than what the images portray by themselves.

Imagination More Than We Could Know

Imagination More Than We Could Know

Stories have the key to communicate the most hidden, the most complex, the most poignant, the most critical, and the most beautiful aspects of life itself; and in that communication to the reader, listener, or viewer to teach something new, to connect at an un-imagined level, and to reveal something even beyond what the author, reader and creator conceived possible.

Our Words and Images Reach The Pinnacle and Depth of Beauty

Our Words and Images Reach The Pinnacle and Depth of Beauty

This Lent we embark on 40 days of fasting, reflection, prayer and meditation which themselves reflect a long tradition of the preparation to hear the story of Passion week and Easter Sunday, and which in themselves each year are a new story for each one of us.

What is your story, the one you are always part of?

What is your story, the one you are always part of?

What new will you learn, imagine, encounter on your 40 day journey this Lent?

Can you see something new?

Can you see something new?

Lent has it’s own stories, worthy of hearing again and again: Shrove Tuesday: the yeast and oil used in one last meal so the house has none in it during Lent. The ashes of our origins and ends as organisms on this earth. Marked in the sign of the cross, branding us as belonging to Christ. No meat. Fasting severe or limited. Giving up something. Engaging in something. Praying daily or even hourly, especially for one’s enemies.

Can we see through the fog?

Can we see through the fog?

All this to prepare our hearts, mind and souls to hear, imagine, and celebrate Jesus’ sacrifice and victory over death and all our sin.

Christ’s story is filled with Light!

Christ’s story is filled with Light!

All this to prepare our hearts, mind and souls to hear, imagine, and celebrate Jesus’ story lived out in our lives.

Finding our way through the frozen of life.

Finding our way through the frozen of life.

The Reality of Gaslighting

What reflects who you are?

For the last seven years I have been gaslit by so many people. First at home and then it spread through the church as the lay pastor started in, by people in the community recruited by the RCMP, the RCMP themselves, by lawyers, the prosecutors and even my own lawyers, and most recently by the judges and justices who created their own lies in order to convict me, and to deny my applications.

This may be difficult for many to believe.

It used to be unimaginable to me.

But no longer.

Now it is the truth that impacts my daily life, as my ‘ex’, the lawyers, and the courts have completely ruined me financially driving me into debt so far I cannot see the light or the tunnel. I have left to my name a huge debt, a bicycle, a tent, a sleeping bag and my clothes. I live alone in the woods. I survive on money borrowed from family and friends, using borrowed highly modified equipment to survive the elements on next to no money.

It appears that the lies told about me and those who have told them, and the judges who have ruled using them, have completely determined my life.

This is not so. They have determined some of the external circumstances of my life, and they seem to persist at determining more. But they cannot determine who I am and what I have done (or not done).

The truth reflects the beauty God created in the world, which lies do not change.

I am still the same kind, gracious, man of faith that I have always been, with a good set of skills and knowledge, and abilities, and above all the assurance that, because God loves me, I am able to love, forgive (or not as it is), breathe, and extend Grace as it is extended to me.

Those who have gaslit me, those who have repeatedly and intentionally lied about me, in order to try to create a reality about me that simply is not so; these people have not created a reality about me. They have created a huge set of lies.

Their lies do not determine who I am. They do not define me.

The fog of lies cannot conceal that lies are lies, as weeds are weeds.

Their lies determine who they are. Their lies define them.

My ex and the children I have long since forgiven. They were, at my ex’s invitation, my life, my love, and God’s gifts to me.

But all the others, those who are given authority and responsibility to investigate and rule based on the truth. those whose positions are to be respected, they are not only guilty; they make a habit of gaslighting others, and some have laughed at their maniacal fun at hurting innocent people.

As I am ordained to extend grace and forgiveness to all people whom I meet, I am also ordained to bind the sins of those who should not be forgiven. This is a rare thing. But these lies are all too common, oft repeated, and engaged in as sport, as the record of innocent men convicted by the courts belies.

The damage their lies do to the innocent men and the children is incomprehensible. They leave children in the care of people who create lies about men who healthily love their children. They leave children with sole parents who suffer psychotic breaks, who project their own faults on to others near them including the children and their spouses. They leave the children without a healthy parent, and with a most unhealthy parent, who does the unspeakable to the children, and then adds those terrible things to the list of lies about which they gaslight their spouses.

The damage is also to the spouse (and children) who lie to create a false and terrible story about their innocent men. Being believed when one lies, and encouraged even to lie more, disrupts any trust even the liar could possibly have in the just and fairness of the world. At any moment someone else could start lying about them and they would be ruined based on those lies.

The damage is to everyone, for at any moment anyone can start lying about anyone else, and the person lied about will be ruined, even though they are innocent. This is the destruction of trust, without which society disintegrates into a morass of nothing being true or trustworthy or healthy, for anyone.

This is who the people who gaslight others are: they are those who dismantle everyone’s ability to trust the rule of law, the word of people, the basic justness of our country. Many peoples, against whom prejudice and bias has run rampant, have known this for generations.

Now I known it, personally.

No matter what you expect or believe, that leaf is there. The truth is there.
No lie can change the truth.

Whether you believe me or not is immaterial, but it is vitally important. You could easily be next.

This is what those who gaslight others do to our country. This is who they are. This is how they try to determine others to be worse than themselves, but that is a futile effort. This is who they determine themselves to be: corrupters and perverters of all that is good.

Thus their sins are bound, and they are told, so that they are as aware as they can be made to be. They have time to amend their lives, through telling the complete truth about their lies, openly, publicly, and through making restitution as it can be made.

Then they can be reconciled with their victims.

Until the day of them telling the full truth or God judging them, this is not something they can leave behind. It is what they have to look forward to, to that day when the Light of Christ will shine. May it shine soon, now on this earth, during our lives. But if not, then soon enough.

When the Light of Christ shines on what they have done, and the truth I have always provided, no witnesses or rules of evidence will be needed. God knows everything. There is no statute of limitations or excuses of lack of resources to judge fairly according to the truth. God knows the truth, the absolute truth. God will judge their sins.

I am not determined by their gaslighting. I do struggle to survive the effects, but I am blessed each day. I live thankful and even joyful at times. I will survive until God brings me home to the New Jerusalem, the city of light, into the room prepared for me by Christ.

I know who I am. I am blessed to have lived a very self-aware life.

Lies do not determine or define the person whom they are told about; they determine and define the person who tells the lies.

The truth always leaves tracks. The truth will be known.
The Light of Christ will shine.
It is and will be beautiful!

The reality of Gaslighting is that it is destructive for everyone, but most of all for those who tell the lies.

Wolf or Potato

Wolf Moon 2020 January

It’s not there yet or here yet,

but it’s really nearly here,

.

Light Night

Light of Night

Moon full of light,

Blazing Cold, Square Cold, Deep Cold

so a bit chilly, one might saw.

.

No Potato

No Potato

No Potato, But a Bit of Light on Snow, and Walla!

Or if one tries to peel a potato outside it might be the last potato or

anything else that might be peeled by one,

such as a bell.

Bells ring, for joy, for alarm.

What’s alarming in your life?

That many people regularly bully others in order to get their way with them.

A crime, it is, most, that no one cares for the most part about bullying by adults of adults.

Just when bullying is done to children … or vulnerable women.

What would one want? Justice.

Justice of course, laced with compassion. God’s way of being God.

We’re in the Pink*

If Only

In the movie, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”, Fred Rogers helps Lloyd Vogel process his relationship with his father and re-connect with him after decades of cutoff on both sides…. It leaves us thinking we can’t change the past, but maybe we can give the story a different ending….** If only we could be just a bit better than we are, a lot less anxious, helping others trust God just a mite more, so that our stories could have a good ending. **adapted from Healthy Congregation Words by Rachel Tune, Pastor Wittenburg University***

Joy Sunday Contrasts with Advent Blues

Today, the third Sunday of Advent, is the Sunday of Joy. Advent was historically a time to prepare for Epiphany baptisms, a time to take in Jesus’ costly journey of bringing faith to us. During the rest of Advent we get ourselves alert, reflect on the cost of our faith, prepare for, but wait patiently for, Christ’s coming and our celebration that he has come, and is present.

Joy is out of step with the Lenten-like mood of waiting. Our wreath has one pink candle among the blue candles of hope. In this season of waiting to celebrate, how did the Joy Sunday and the pink candle get into the mix? Except this contrast makes our Christmas joy that much more intense.

Today we highlight the opposite of the rest of Advent, making our preparations and joy all that more vivid. Only blue on the dark black of the long nights won’t do, neither would all pink be great. If Advent were all joy, then it’d be hard to celebrate Christmas; it’d be as if we’d nibbled at the turkey, dressing and all, and gobbled up all the Christmas cookies for weeks. The celebration would be just more of the same, if anything were left for the feast. But on the dark background of real life, pink decorates blue spectacularly, and since it denotes God’s joy then the best pink would be hot-pink on deep sea blue rising to sky blue.

God’s Hot-Pink

Winter Blues

Winter Blues

Today, though, we also remember that Christmas, more so because it’s supposed to be such a joyous time, can actually be the most painful, sorrowful, lonely and despairing time of the year. It can be all so blue. For this reason we offer Blue Christmas Services.

Insert here Niel Diamond singing Song Sung Blue YouTube – Song Sung Blue or your favourite song about the blues, our old friend the blues, or your favourite song about the blues, our old friend the blues.

The New Ending Needed

In the name of Jesus we can’t change the past, but we know the story needs a different ending….

Biblical Images of Life Dried Up

Images of dried up creation abound in today’s lessons: wilderness, dry land, desert … weak hands, feeble knees, fearful hearts … blind, deaf, lame, speechless people … burning sand, thirsty ground, haunts of jackals, dry grass … lions, ravenous beasts … sighing and sorrows.

The New Ending, Possible?

That is the past. We can’t change the past, but can we really give this story a different ending?

Dark, Cold Tunnel of Real Life

It’s dark. The sun rises but stays below the southern roof- or tree-tops. It’s cold. In the city it’s dipped into the minus teens. Not far away, on a little lake that’s as much home as anywhere, it’s been below -30⁰C and not over -15⁰ for days. Most everyone is affected, some a bit more as they struggle with mild to severe depression because of the lack of sunshine. Too often this season can seem like a cold, dark tunnel that we get thrust into, whether we choose it or not.

Unemployment

In Alberta now, after the oil bust of 2014 and lately Premier Kenny’s cuts, 20% of young men are unemployed. That does not count those who have given up trying to find work, or those who are back at school trying to increase their odds of finding a job (going in debt to do so), or those who have part-time jobs where they work pitifully few hours, so that it’s less a job, and more a hindrance to finding real work. Employers more cheaply employ 10 part-time workers 8 hours each week than 2 full-time employees 40 hours each.

This is real. These young men face hunger, homelessness, losing their vehicles. Forget about having anything for health and dental care.

Chaplains in hospitals write up verbatims: formerly well-paid men are hounded by their spouse (or not-spouse) to bring home the same money for the pricey lifestyle they’ve spent themselves into. Turning to crime or not, the stress eats away at the men’s health. For some, physical or psychological violence at home puts them in the hospital. Women know the courts will likely believe any lie they tell and the men will be convicted and jailed, even when they are the victims.

The Booby-trapped Tunnel

The dark tunnel we find ourselves in can, in this or other ways, turn out to be full of traps set by people we would trust. People point us to the light at the end of the tunnel, but it seems a long ways off through the dark and dangerous cold.

The New Ending Beyond Us.

We know full well we can’t change the past, but even trying to give the story a different ending seems beyond us.

Epidemic of Senior Loneliness

The severity of the seniors’ epidemic of loneliness increases at Christmas. 25% percent of seniors live alone often not by choice. Living alone or not, an unknown number of seniors are severely lonely, cut off from meaningful engagement in life. Loneliness affects health and precipitates death as quickly as any disease. Two of life’s necessities are missing: a meaningful contribution to life and an ability to love and be loved.

There are walls to stare at, perhaps paths to walk. But one is alone even in crowds. Few reach out with kindness and understanding, and time. Everyone has their own busy agenda to help them ignore the emptiness that threatens.

Worse still are the seniors that experience elder abuse. Seniors can be more vulnerable than young children and become targets because they may appear to have wealth, and the taking appears to be easy. This month we collect for “No Room In the Inn” to create a safe place to which they can escape.

The Light in the Tunnel is a Train

The light they told us was at the end of the tunnel looks more and more like a train coming right at us in this dark tunnel and we cannot see any way out. We can’t move fast enough to find any emergency exit that may be somewhere out there.

The New Ending Only Hoped For

We can’t change the past, and we only hope we can give the story a different ending before it’s too late.

God’s Transformations

Exactly into this dark reality, our Advent Sunday of Joy is set as a stark contrast to our Lenten-like Advent preparations.

This Sunday is exactly like the Crocus named in the OT lesson. The first flower of Spring, it pushes up and blossoms even while the snow and morning frosts keep other plants at bay.

Similarly all the desolate images serve as the setting into which God comes and transforms creation. Cool streams flow in the wilderness, over the dry land, and on the burning sand bringing them to rejoice and blossom, with joy and singing. Weak hands are strengthened, feeble knees made firm, fear is met with encouragement, the blind see, the deaf hear, the lame leap, and the speechless sing.

A highway is made upon which no lion or beast or thief prowls, and even a fool cannot go astray. Those redeemed by Christ will obtain joy and gladness. All sorrow and sighing will flee away. In a simple word, we and all creation are baptized in the water of God’s blessings. It is a marvellously new creation. We are made saints and set to live well in it!

God’s coming is already, and not yet. Like the farmer we wait patiently for the early and the late rains of God’s blessings to tumble down on us and through us. We do not grumble against each other, for grumbling against each other is caustic to life and for it we would be justly judged by the Judge at the door. There are no evidentiary rules, precedents, or arguments required. This Judge is omnipotent and all-knowing, and the judgments are fair, clearly so to all. Jesus’ every judgment is made to make life possible for all.

Jesus comes to set things right, to make people healthy, what is wrong is set right. Jesus comes in poverty, born homeless in a cow barn. Jesus comes to those least acceptable to the world of his day. Jesus comes to the blind, the lame, the deaf, the lepers, the dead, and the poor.

The Light in the Tunnel is Christ’s Light on God’s Train Coming at Us!

It turns out that the light at the end of the cold, dark tunnel is a train coming right for us. Or rather it is the Light of Christ barrelling down on us like a train. This train is not loaded with oil, grain, lumber, or other goods.

The first cars of this train have the Blue Hope of Advent spilling out in endless streams over the landscape of God’s wonderful and broken creation.

Hope is followed by cars as numerous as the stars spewing Justice, Mercy, Forgiveness, Inspiration, Gratitude, Generosity, Faith, Love in Action, and Love Universal and Unconditional. Look at all the colours streaming across the desolate landscape of our broken lives!

See the Light. Run to it. Dance to it. Sing for it with the deepest and broadest joy.

Insert here the Proclaimers singing I’m On My Way [From Misery to Happiness]. You Tube- I’m On My Way

For God intends for us, even in our sadness and loneliness, to be overwhelmed with the Goodness of life given to us by the Holy Spirit, the engine of that train. It may be cold and dark outside but the pink of joy covers the dark and decorates our blues.

God’s New Ending

We can’t change the past. And we cannot give the story a different ending. This Advent we remember, we do not have to. God has already given the story the best ending possible! What Joy!

We wait, full of anticipation for the celebration of Christmas, marking Jesus’ birth, proclaiming Jesus’ presence now, and hoping for Jesus the Christ’s return!

We pray, Let us be the blessed “who do not let the Messiah [we] are expecting blind [us] to the Messiah who is standing right in front of [us]” (Barbara Brown Taylor, God in Pain: Teaching Sermons on Suffering [Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1998]).

Our Response: We are the Pink in the Blues

Today we reflect on joy, and its roots in the dark of misery, and its place within the blues of Hope. The Holy Spirit makes us the streams of cool water flowing in the deserts of life, the crocuses springing up for those to whom Christ came. We are the patient, non-anxious, gracious, kind, and generous ones. In us others see Christ active for them even if the world frosts them out.

This is the ending to the story that God has for creation and all of us in it: that Christ came, that Christ comes, that Christ will come, and all of creation was, is and will be baptized with living water, transforming it and all of us. Therefore we follow Christ’s example: bringing real joy to those with SADS, the unemployed, the lonely, the blind, the lame, the deaf, the lepers, the dead, and the poor. This is the pink of our Advent Blues. It may not be more than a touch on the horizon in our preparations, nor need it be more. It is like the light at the end of the tunnel, giving us reason to Hope, even in the blues.

We are the pink of Advent

We are the pink of Advent for those in need around us.

Amen

As we get ready to sing: Let me highlight with pink and blue a few words of our hymn of the day:

All earth is hopeful, the Savior comes at last! Furrows lie open for God’s creative task: this, the labour of people who struggle to see how God’s truth and justice sets [Blue:] everybody free.

We first saw Jesus a baby in a crib. This same Lord Jesus today has come to live in our world; he is present, in neighbours we see our Jesus is with us, and ever sets [Pink:] us free.

Theme and Notes

Joy, the pink contrast to the Blues of Advent, draws us to be God’s people to bring transformation to those most in need.

*In the Pink: to be in the best of health; by Grace alone the best spiritual health.

***Wittenberg University is a private liberal arts college in Springfield, Ohio. It has approximately 2,000 full-time students representing 37 states and 30 foreign countries.

Grace

Remember Our True Faith of Grace

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

Malachi 4:1-2a

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

2 Thessalonians 3:6-13

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

Luke 21:5-19

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

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

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

Unfortunately we do not use Psalm 98 this week.

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

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

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

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

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

Our choices are four:

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

Gone are the days of colour and calm.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That Ti –

That Ti-

Me

Of

Year

Aga-

in

nice ice at sun setting

nice ice at sun setting

Cool but warm inside.

Wonders and Miracles

flow freely to those with eyes to see, ears to hear, hearts to believe,

and who pursue truth

in all things.

….

explanation for those who do not know enough to notice: the lake froze over last night thus the golden sheen on the lake ice all across.

Of course only being here will inform one that yesterday there was most of the lake still waving water,

saying goodbye

with great hopes of coming again

when the sun sticks around longer each day.

Choose grace, live hope, love even one’s enemies…

for God is a God of the living!

Lots of Heat, More Forgiveness

Spring Struggles to Break in as Large Flakes Cover the Once Bare Ground Again

My wood stove, set up to provide heat in the severe -40°C winter worked wonders. It even provided hot water for coffee in the morning and tea throughout the day. It was not without it’s challenges as the stove pipe got so hot that it melted the plastic tarps of the shelter around the stove.

Holy Week is our opportunity to remember and learn ever more from Jesus story. Jesus’ story is a life full of communication from God to us, in a way we can understand.

God tried to communicate to us with Word, creating a good creation. We messed it up, with trying to be smarter than we are and blaming others for the results. Kicked out of paradise we even became murderers, for a ‘good’ start.

God tried to communicate to us with the Law, we turned it into control of others.

God tried to communicate to us with the prophets, and we thought they were crazy, because they really were, trying to embody God’s Word does that to humans.

I rebuilt the damaged tarp sections, put in a heat shield and a remote thermometer. Now gets as hot as 70°C without problems.

God sent his Son, a full life story lived that we can learn. Jesus came to live, teach, heal, and do remarkable things like calming the chaos of the waters.

God exists beyond time, matter, limits. Now Jesus has all the limits of a human. Paul says it well: Jesus emptied himself of being other than human, and became limited as a human.

Why?

The real purpose of Jesus’ life was his death. That’s this week’s story.

No one really listened at first, and those that did usually got it all wrong. Listen to the parade as Jesus enters Jerusalem. They think that Jesus is God’s way of giving them control again of Jerusalem, maybe. That’s their hope.

Then things change.

The harsh winter slowly gives way to cool spring temperatures, and the 2000° C inside the furnace became way too hot in the shelter. Always the thermometer showed a max of 70°. It dawned finally on me that the thermometer could read no hotter than 70°C but the actual temperature could be much more!

Things change.

After the triumphant entry parade into Jerusalem, things go downhill fast and hard. Jesus is betrayed, deserted, tried, denied, whipped, condemned, mocked, tortured, abandoned, and murdered on a cross.

There is no greater measure of suffering.

God came to live and die exactly like this. Why?

God came to make clear: God understands our suffering, even if our measure seems to have an upper limit, God has no limits, God understands us, our pain, our sin, our suffering, our death.

God lived it to show us God’s intent for us.

As Jesus dies, he forgives those that mock, torture and kill him.

This is what God wants us to be to each other. Not sinners, destroyers, scape-goaters, or mockers, torturers, murderers, or chaos makers, not even people who cannot listen to others pain and suffering and not know what to do.

We know God knows our suffering.

In our suffering we experience what others suffer. We know what we most need when we suffer is forgiveness, love and not to be abandoned.

We learn this so that we can give God’s gifts of forgiveness, love and being present to others as they suffer.

God came as Jesus to show us God’s goodness and love for us has no limits. God’s forgiveness has no limits. We may not easily hear, listen or understand, but we have Jesus story handed from generation to generation. We can always learn more if we pay attention.

Jesus’ story is God’s new limitless thermometer by which we can measure what really goes on in this world. There’s lots of heat. There’s even more love, forgiveness, and compassion than we are ever capable of measuring.

This week, we remember, we listen as we can, we learn anew as we are able.

From Jesus story we know and trust, no matter what we do, what we succeed at or fail at, God understands our yearning, our chaos, our sufferings …

and God always loves, forgives and is present with us …

calling us to be exactly that for other people,

with Jesus as our model,

a model that has no limits.

Amen

Lent: A Fast for Justice – Seeing God

2019 Mar 15

See Reality, See Our Creator

The light of life, the light of Christ.

This Ash Wednesday the Old Testament Lesson from Isaiah 58 read in part :

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.”

From this I choose for all of my Lent this theme:

What is the acceptable fast?

When fish became a common fast, Fridays one gave up other meats to eat only fish. It was indeed a matter of justice. It was designed to help struggling fishers by creating a larger market for their product.

Then it became a mark of piety, a proud mark of piety, that one could eat fish.

Always good works become meaninglessly banal and then a perversion of the original goodness.

Life is about remembering, and always being creative with purpose driving creativity.

So what is it this Lent that we give up, not for the giving up, but that others will have the basics of life!?;

so that the bonds of injustice will be loosened, the yokes will be untied, the oppressed will see freedom, every yoke of slavery and oppression will be broken, no one will hunger, go unclothed, or remain homeless.

Note that this is more than everyone will have shelter sufficient, which is more basic. This is that everyone will have a home. A home means among other things that one has a place marked for one as a unique individual, one has a place one belongs, is cared for, cares for others, and most of all where one can go in the best of times and the worst of times and the doors are open to one.

The Light from on High, the Light from Below: The Light of all Creation.

The light of beauty.

Technically, I am homeless, so I am sensitive to this issue.

By the grace of God and generosity of many different people, I have a home: a borrowed old 18’ camper, attached to a 9.5’x8’ tarp shelter on a trailer in which there is a rebuilt wood stove that provides heat sufficient even at -40°C. It just takes an awful lot of wood.

The challenge is I have no where to set up the camper and trailer, so I am a guest of the Queen on Crown Land, always temporarily.

Fortunately there are locations where this all works:

Oh and there are many other challenges including connecting the camper and the trailer-shelter, and setting up the arrangement for 14 days at a time. Then I have to tear it all down, pack it up, and move it off Crown land. That’s a lot of work and a lot of money in gasoline to move the trailer and the camper.

It takes at least two days to set up, and a day and a half to tear down, more when it’s colder than -15°C. In the deeper cold it is only possible if I get the wood heat going, and stoke the fire full blast, with doors still open and heat the inside up to 50°C so I have a place to warm up between stints of working outside, and a toasty place to warm up boots and gloves that I switch back and forth.

But it is my home such as it is, and for that I am thankful.

Financially I am hanging on by a thin thread. Though so far though I have not gone hungry, not that my diet has been the best all the time, and my health demands a pretty careful diet.

My situation is a result of others bearing false witness against me, which is injustice, raw and simple and very destructive … and obvious.

But I am not yoked, or enslaved, or oppressed as most would understand those terms. I am not unclothed. (That would bring one to a very quick end in the Canadian winter.)

And I am alive. Though challenged sometimes close to my capacity to meet the challenge, I live well.

That is a statement of resilience and faith, of seeing God at work when others seem oblivious.

At sunrise, as the wood smoke wafts up through the woods, especially as I start a new load in the furnace before the smoke gets hot enough to burn real cleanly, this reality bears witness to God’s presence, to Christ’s light, to the promise that God is here with me. In the wilderness and cold, in the solitude and quiet God is here as the wood furnace works to help me survive. Wonderfully the stove gives off what is needed for me to see the presence and power of the sunrise light even before it hits the solar panels sufficient to provide electricity to recharge the batteries.

The Light Undoubtedly Breaking In With Blessings

God blesses us that we may be blessings to others.

This Lent may our fasts be undertaken, not for us, but to bring to all justice, freedom, clean water and air, food and clothing, homes and meaningful labour, love and, most of all, hope.

Remember God’s promises.

Remember the victims in Christchurch.

Remember without fear.

Live well, that terror have no place among us.