Breathe, Relax, Choose, Do the Saints’ Work

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Relax, Breathe,

No Matter the Path We Choose,

Nothing Can Separate Us From God’s Love.

2 Samuel 22:3

My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my saviour; you save me from violence.

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Words of Grace For Today

Covid 19 has brought many of the challenges to abundant living to the fore, making it impossible to ignore them. Poor care in (only some) senior care facilities, the real costs of homelessness (which we used to minimize by large social housing projects which were stopped decades ago, resulted in large homeless populations nearly everywhere, which we are only recently addressing and saving money doing so!), the huge percentage of our populations who have absorbed as the basis of their ‘rational’ thinking ‘Querdenken’, false-news, science-deniers, and wild conspiracy theories, which has fed racist and minority focused hate – this is possible since the powers that be have long since used propaganda, and all the above to rationalize their corrupt agendas and to remain in power. Fear mongering by politicians and power brokers and even courts has long term costs for a society and we are paying for it now, again, and will be for decades.

While the stress of isolation taxes each person’s resilience, the first step in responding to each new wave of stress is to relax. It is in fact the only healthy thing we can choose to do in the face of overwhelming stress.

Breathe.

Breathe deeply and slowly.

Breathe in the Holy Spirit’s presence to be in us. Allow it to cleanse and renew each fibre of our being.

Breathe out the effects of all evil and stress.

Breathe in deeply and slowly. Breathe out every source of stress.

Then we can remember who our rock and salvation is. Then we can remember the words of Paul which have sustained generations of God’s people:

Neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

So assured, again, that God is with and for us, loving us, now we can return to providing that same unconditional love to those in need around us. We can start addressing, one by one, the ills of our society that Covid 19 has made more obvious. We can in fact bring an end to chronic homelessness. We can in fact provide better value (pay) for essential workers, and less for overpaid un-essential leeches on our society, like money brokers and stock market manipulators. We can ensure all people receive respect and care. We can deal with violence (physical and psychological) against all people by anyone, not just against women by men. We can begin to deal with the many who use religion to accumulate power for themselves, to hide their abuse of others, and to perpetrate violence against anyone who stands up to them. We have more than enough ‘wolves hiding in sheep’s clothing’ in our congregations. We can begin to deal with Querdenken and raw hatred based on religion, ethnicity, gender or any other measure by speaking truth, and protecting those who speak truth for us.

And we can begin and end each day thanking God: My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my saviour; you save me from violence.

Cold Hard Reality … – – – …

… – – – … Cold Hard Reality … – – – … Our Own Sin … – – – … The Start of God’s Work for Us …. ..

Friday, February 12, 2021

The Sun Rises And Spreads Cold Cold Cold Light

God using the sun to draw smoke shadows on curves of snow

Proverbs 3:7

Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.

Galatians 6:4

All must test their own work; then that work, rather than their neighbour’s work, will become a cause for pride.

Words of Grace For Today

We become accustomed to life, unjustly lived, civilization’s thin veneer holding back barbarism, barely while so many wealthy, privileged, and powerful people utilize outrageous barbarism to hold on to what they value, i.e. their positions, corrupt as they are.

We become accustomed to life and are widely disturbed, our individual and collective mental health plummets, because a pandemic disrupts our customary living …

and we are left to face what truly lies beneath, behind, and beyond our ‘civilized’ habits. It is not pretty. It scares us. It drives us mad.

This is a small piece of the cost of living as if we could rise above fear of God. This is a small piece of the cost of pretending that we need not resist evil at every turn, lest we be dragged into the sea of it’s chaos, into it’s power to uncreate creation, dissolve all time, and possess life itself even as it all crumbles into non-existence.

Being wise in one’s own eyes is like the fool Trump, declaring himself to be so intelligent, even as he spouts idiocies that are easily proven to be false. Remember when he recommended that people drink bleach to eradicate Covid 19 from their systems. Bleach of course is a caustic poison easily eradicating life from anyone who drinks it!

Our own, your own, idiocies may not be so obvious to us, to you, though they probably are to others!

Daily we immerse ourselves in the old, old story of Jesus and his love; which starts with our past and continuing sins confessed and graciously forgiven by God.

We immerse ourselves in this story, not forgetting the beginning (our wretched inevitable sin) so that we do not forget how much we need to be saved from our sins, how much God does to save us, and how terrible our deserved damnation would be if God were not so undeservedly gracious with us. We do not forget our ongoing inevitable sins so that we do not rise to false pride.

Instead we readily accept the reality and confess our sins, knowing in that confession we also accept God’s forgiveness, which forgiveness enables us to also be God-made saints, simultaneously as we remain sinners. God has God’s way with us, and we love it!

We know our own works are pitiful. Our neighbours may look to be so as well. On our own nothing we do amounts to anything (valued by God’s criteria and measure). Aided, guided, and inspired by the Holy Spirit, God accomplishes great things through us. God saves others by giving them abundant life through our work.

Our pride in our work, and in our neighbours’ work, amounts only to pride in what God does through us. Though we last no longer than smoke we remain courageously, creatively humble as God uses us to paint Grace on this world. Meeting the new demands of Covid 19 pandemic and it’s dangers and restrictions is a mere trifle, measured by God’s criteria. It is another opportunity to see, receive, and share God’s unending blessings.

Freaky Cold, Hellishly Hot, Blessed Always

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Cold as a Crypt

Hot as Hell

Forward We Walk in Christ’s Light

Wherever We Go, God Goes with Us, Step by Step.

Psalm 102:27

Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you endure; they will all wear out like a garment. You change them like clothing, and they pass away; but you are the same, and your years have no end.

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever.

Words of Grace For Today

For many people alive today death is very close and has been most of their lives. They live constantly under threat of being ‘disappeared’, of being tortured and killed, of starving (too often intentionally by those with power to influence or determine such things), limited basic necessities of life (lack of clean air, clean water, nourishing food, adequate clothing, sufficient shelter, meaningful labour, and the ability to love and be loved), of dying of illness (inherited or acquired from the environment – sometime intentionally so by those who can do such things), or simply dying of despair.

For a large swath of the population on earth today these threats to life are removed enough that we can, with foolish efforts and often disastrous results, deny these threats apply to us, or at least most of them … and to assuage our consciences we delude ourselves into thinking that those who live under such threats deserve it. We develop habits and rituals to try to further push death from us. At funerals we do not say the person died, we say they passed, or went to sleep forever, or [fill in the many and various ways we push awareness of death aside with words and rituals.]

No matter what we do:

All humans live finite lives.

The mortality rate for humans remains always at 100%.

No one gets out of life alive.

Resurrection and incarnation and other life after death beliefs do not negate that all of this life ends with death!

Death is obviously something that humans push back against in order to live through the challenges of our days. It is … well it is to live foolishly or to pretend that one can be other than mortal, but it seems to make each day a little easier to live. It only seems. In fact if distorts life into something it is not. It distorts our thinking about ourselves as if we could be immortal in some way or another.

God alone is immortal. Jesus, the 2nd person of the Trinity is immortal. Even though he lived a mortal life, was tortured, crucified, and died, he then rose back to life, and lives eternally.

It is this difference that God is eternal, and we simply are not, that we try to deny when we deny death or cover it’s reality with pseudo phrases, or with practices of denying death’s inevitability for each and every single one of us, or simply with reckless living – whether that is bravado, addictions, or lies, deception and attempts to create a false (preferred reality) for ourselves. Trump was not able to proclaim the most obviously stupidities to be true simply because he wanted it to be so. He could do so only because millions upon millions of people did the same thing in their lives and wanted him to do so as their leader; they wanted and still want reality to not be what it is. This ‘reality illness’ does not end at the USA borders, nor did it just begin in this or the previous century. It merely became so painfully obvious that after the first year of Trump’s presidency even comedians could not parody it anymore. It was simply too far beyond belief, except that it was believed by millions.

There is nothing more dangerous than not perceiving reality as reality. One becomes mortally vulnerable to the simplest dangers. The present polar vortex cold, if not respected as real, can lead to frostbite in minutes for bare skin, and quickly to loss of digits and limbs and even life. Carnivorous predators, like cougars, wolves, and hyenas if not respected are not choosy about their next meal. Denying they are there in one’s environment makes one an easier meal than the next living piece of meat. Of course being cautious about hyenas when one lives in North American, or cougars if one lives in Africa leaves one vulnerable to other risks.

We worship often, using liturgy that imprints on our consciousness, with music that lifts our spirits, and hearing sermons that proclaim the Gospel of Grace (not works righteousness) so that we ‘remember’ more clearly in each decision we make every day what is what, and who is who, and what the future holds for us: God alone is eternal, we will die, Grace alone gives us life and compels us to share it with others. We remember clearly every future – since the beginning of time until the end of time itself – is in God’s hands.

Thank God, God is gracious, judges us not on what we sinners deserve, but enables us God-made-saints to live abundantly (which is to live giving life abundant to everyone possible – until all people have life abundant!)

It’s cold, very cold. Be cautious outside. Go out dressed to cover every piece of skin. Travel in vehicles only with shovels, tow ropes, and a booster battery … and good survival equipment including first aid kits.

It’s a mortal life we live, always mortal. Be bold everywhere. Go clothed in the Grace of God covering every sinful piece of our souls. Proceed through each day renewed in one’s own baptism, assured of one’s adoption as a child of God, with God’s Word always at hand and a good hymn ringing in one’s head. Ensure the tools of diakonia, the work of serving others’ needs, are in our backpacks or pockets. Always carry the warmth of the Holy Spirit’s guidance, the Light of Christ, and the healing power of our gracious Creator. Never forget to remain grateful for God’s gifts no matter the challenges that we encounter; remain calm and creative. Hard work is a blessing not to be avoided, and always the results are in God’s hands, so protect one’s faith in God from decay or destruction.

As we may help hundreds of people have enough food, shelter, and a helpful ear, a little candle lit each day to remind one of God’s Light in every darkness may be the most important part of our days.

Remember: we are saints, the people that reflect the Light of Christ to all people, in every dark corner of creation.

We remember: we are also simultaneously sinners, deserving damnation and receiving forgiveness and renewed life each day.

Every person, no matter how evil their sins, though they deserve condemnation, like us, can receive Grace through us, if we are creative and courageous enough.

Courage and humility. It’s cold, very cold with death only minutes away; AND

It’s the warmth of Christ’s Light that gives us breath.

Meeting Each Day with Creativity and Trust

Tuesday, February 9, 2021

We are hardly the first

to be challenged by

winter’s cold or a pandemic’s destruction.

We follow those who have gone before,

treasuring most of all our faith.

Psalm 56:11

In God I trust; I am not afraid. What can a mere mortal do to me?

2 Timothy 1:14

Guard the good treasure entrusted to you, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in us.

Words of Grace For Today

A great uncle of mine, Sven, arrived in the new land (at least so goes the legend), as many Swedish, German, Norwegian, Scottish, Ukrainian, and many others (from even more nations in later decades) also arrived in the new land to be given a quarter section to homestead. Arriving in early summer the first task was to make a temporary ‘home’. There were no RV’s, mobile homes, RTM’s or Atco Units. He felled a number of think pine trees with an axe and piled the pine boughs on an A-frame of pine poles to keep most of the rain out. The bugs could not be helped. He went hunting for meat. Then he cleared a small patch of land and planted a crop that might just produce potatoes, peas, beans and carrots before freeze up. He went hunting for meat. Then he dug out a hole and piled up the dirt around it as walls, covered it with pine poles at a sharp pitch, and wove pine boughs in four layers to hold out the rain and snow. He went hunting for meat. He put in the wood stove he had saved for, stacked up a great pile of firewood, and built a simple bed, chair and table. That would have to do to get him through the coming winter. He went hunting for meat. The bear skins from the bears he shot would be his blanket in the coldest of the coming cold nights.

Each night he gave God thanks for this opportunity to start a new life in a new land. Each morning he prayed for strength to work hard through the day, to prepare for the coming months. The -45⁰ nights that first winter nearly did him in. When thieves stole a tenth of his firewood that made him worry about the safety of everything and his survival. Still he gave God thanks, for he prayed with the Psalmist: In God I trust; I am not afraid. What can a mere mortal do to me?

Each year he cleared more land for the garden and for crops. In his third year, now with a simple log cabin and a shingled plank roof, his lovely wife, Brigitte, joined him from Sweden, children followed and he added each year to the cabin, a room, another room, a porch, an entrance with a better door.

When thieves struck again, raiding his garden and grain store and stealing half his wood, he was distressed. He prayed that night again in thanks, the next morning for strength. He knew he was tasked with guarding the good treasure entrusted to him, with the help of the Holy Spirit living in him. The treasure was not the firewood. It was not the crops. It was not even the land that supported his and Brigitte’s life together with their daughter and two sons. Sven and Brigitte prayed and in thanks and for strength, so that they would guard their faith, for that was the treasure that God had given them. With faith they could meet every challenge calmly and creatively, figuring out what to do each day to ensure their survival and more, that they would live well.

Covid 19 is not easy, comfortable, or predictable. Many of our habits for surviving are not possible. Other habits for surviving are required of us. Some are dictated, many others are left for us to figure out. God provides, and we, assured of the gift of faith, pray morning and night, with thanks and for strength to meet the challenges of each day.

We trust God to provide us the ability and opportunities to work diligently so that more and more people will have what is needed to live, and to live abundantly. It’s not predictable or comfortable or easy. Still we have everything we need to make each day better for everyone: it starts with faith and creativity. It concludes each day, as night enfolds us in the dark and bitter cold, with thanks.

How else can we live, but to follow the examples of our faithful ancestors following Jesus?

“Hearing About” compared to “Knowing First Hand”

Saturday, February 6, 2021

The beauty of polar cold,

deep freeze polar cold,

first hand.

Job 42:5-6

I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

Acts 9:3-5

Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?’ He asked, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ The reply came, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.’

Words of Grace For Today

My father served as the first civilian doctor to winter over at McMurdo when it ceased to be a military base. He tells of being asked if he’d like to hop a ride with one of the specialists out on a snowmobile. The wonders of light against the ice and snow, the distant mountains in one direction, the ocean in the other, and the shear size all came through in the email to us ‘kids’. And it was cold, real cold.

Living then on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia the winters were cold and impossible for travel if it dipped below freezing and snowed. There were few if any snow tires on the vehicles there, and lots of balding summer tires, so the cars slipped and slid, jamming up the hillside roads, and even the gentle slopes along the coastal water. I could only remember cold from my previous ‘lives’ in Minnesota and Alberta.

Before he hopped on the back of the snowmobile, my father suited up covering every stitch of skin with protective gear. He did not say they travelled fast. It would be hard enough on the machinery at a reasonable pace. It was just that at -75⁰ C everything is a huge bit different…. He missed one small piece between a glove layer and a jacket (if I remember that location correctly). He felt nothing besides the regular cold and returned with a severe frostbit patch of skin. He was fortunate not to loose a piece of flesh to the cold-burn.

Cold, so cold that it burns skin dead with freezing very quickly. We can hear of it, but until one feels the cold it is hard to imagine how powerful the cold really is.

A hard deep cold has hit the prairies extending across the central US as well. It was down to -34⁰ here last night and will get colder yet through the next two nights if forecasts are to be believed. Still a short walk outside is easy, a longer work session possible, even a long walk is doable with the warmest clothing. Cold so cold it freezes skin without any pain is a whole other level of cold.

Like the jogger who went out in shorts for his morning 3 mile run in a deep freeze and returned to have both legs amputated they were so damaged from the freezing.

Saul is enthusiastic and powerful with letters to pursue, detain and punish heretics, followers of the crucified Jesus of Nazareth. Then Jesus shows himself first hand to Saul. That transforms Saul’s life of persecuting followers of The Way, to one of Jesus’ most dedicated disciples, spreading the Good News around the east and north of the Mediterranean Sea, which proves to be the birthing of the Christian Church beyond Jerusalem, which sets the ground work for the Gospel of Jesus Christ to reach us even in this millennium.

Job loses everything, wife, children, wealth, and even his health. His friends bring him encouragement to confess his sins. The widespread belief is that if someone suffers at all it is a result of that person’s own sins. There may be no relief from the suffering, so the only thing to do is to confess and beg God for forgiveness.

This belief is alive and well today under many guises. It is a handy way to blame those who suffer for their suffering, to avoid one’s own responsibility for others’ sufferings, and to convince oneself that one is above such misfortune (because one does not sin like ‘that’ person has!)

Job knows he has not sinned in such a way as to have deserved the horrific loses and suffering he has faced. Job has heard all about God, believes in God, and prays to God (and yells in defiance at God)!

Then God appears face to face with Job!

That changes everything!

Job responds: now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.

It’s deep freeze cold. We do not know cold though until we experience it in person.

It’s God’s creation. We can believe in God, and pretend we’ve earned our place before God. Then God appears in person to us and … we know how undeserving we are of God’s Grace and …

We know first hand how wondrous and life-changing God’s Grace is for us and …

We know God’s Grace is nothing if we do not share it with everyone, as freely and as graciously as God has shared it with us!

Then there is beauty in every piece of life, just as there is beauty in the cold of coldest deep freeze polar cold.

Share the Light or Loose It All.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Damned or Saved

It’s our choice.

How will we live out today, as saints or sinner?

Both always at the same time!

Daniel 12:2

Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Words of Grace For Today

The world’s equations are simple and messed up. They speak of just rewards. The wealthy and ‘successful’ hold that they have earned their wealth and ‘success’, and the poor just have not worked hard enough!

Those in deep poverty don’t have time to waste on such equations: life demands everything of them just to survive another week, maybe even just one more day!

Those in between, afraid they may end up in deep poverty, buy into the work-reward equation as protection from sliding into desperate poverty (until they do, not a result of their own doing) and as a faint hope that some day, if they work hard enough they may climb up into better circumstances, even become one of the wealthy or ‘successful’.

God’s equation is not tied to our efforts, not efforts at good works, nor efforts at true belief, not efforts of right thoughts. God’s equation of ‘success’ requires only God’s acting on us, in us, and through us …. By grace alone we are saved.

So what do we do with these biblical texts and many like them that seem to throw us right back into the ‘our good efforts and good results net us eternal salvation or eternal damnation – so buck up pal and do good OR else!’ equation?

First of all: it is a life long challenge to remember and hold to God’s equation for our eternal salvation. Some hold (not us) that it’s all up to God, so what we do does not count at all! It’s just that our lives will reflect God’s choice of salvation or damnation for us: that is if we look like God has saved us it means we are and the other way around. In this way of living one falls right back into desperately trying to be or at least look good, so as to show in this life one is chosen by God to be saved! And that brings us right back into the futile equation of ‘it’s all up to us, so buck up pal Or else.’

Second of all: it is not up to us to get it right. We do not hold that we can save ourselves, but we certainly can ignore God’s good work in us and live like hell. Literally we can sin madly and never take claim of the gift of salvation that God has already given to us and constantly newly gives to us.

So our salvation is a result of God’s good work for us.

And our damnation is a result of our own evil work in creation.

A paradox, but what else is faith, than a tension beyond comprehension, requiring trust each day, each minute.

Before God we are all in deep poverty, needing God’s gift of redemption. We are all sinners.

Before God we are all given the greatest riches and real success, claimed as God’s own children. We are all saints.

So how to live each day: simple! Share God’s Grace with everyone.

As Jesus summed it up: love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and strength, and your neighbour as yourself, even your enemies!

That equation for each day is like the bright sun in the mild air on the cold snow returned after weeks of cloudy, snowy, deep-freeze weather: it’s filled with thanks for the light, love for creation, and hope for each new day!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

We are as fragile as grass in the deep freeze of winter snows.

And more precious than platinum to God.

Genesis 32:11

Deliver me, please, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau, for I am afraid of him; he may come and kill us all, the mothers with the children.

Luke 19:9

Then Jesus said to him, ‘Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham.’

Words of Grace For Today

Jacob, the trickster, who stole the birthright and inheritance from his brother, cries to God. Jacob is rightfully afraid that his brother has every right to respond and not kindly. That he will kill everyone in Jacob’s family is a possibility.

So Jacob cries for God to deliver him from his rightful punishment.

If any of us think we are in a different situation before God, we are real fools. Think again.

No one is righteous before God. All of us deserve punishment for our sins. All of us ought to humbly cry to God for deliverance, deliverance from our enemies that we do not deserve.

God responds to Jacob’s cry.

God responds to our cries.

God responds, graciously, mercifully, lovingly forgiving us and delivering us … maybe not from our enemies, but from the Devil and from us losing our souls (heart, mind, body in one whole big loss of our lives).

For we too, by faith in God’s Son, Jesus the Christ, so marked with this faith as a gift given to us freely by God, are also counted among the children of Abraham, God’s own people.

Humble pie.

Desperate pleas!

Gracious Deliverance!

We are in this together: this life, this pandemic, these challenges, … all of it.

God’s creation is a wonderful place to live and share life abundant with others.

Hearts Enlivened by the Spirit! … OR?

Friday, January 22, 2021

Deep-Chill Coming

In our hearts as well?

Hosea 3:5

Afterwards the Israelites shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; they shall come in awe to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.

Philippians 2:13

For it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Words of Grace For Today

Afterwards.

After, in the prophetic image of Hosea given to him by God, … after God ‘plays the lover of an adulteress.’ For Israel has wandered yet again from God’s love to the adulteress love of other ‘gods’ and other values and other everything. Israel is trying to play being godlets, or at least as if they could choose their ‘god’. So Hosea, as God commands him, takes a harlot as his ‘wife’, to demonstrate to the people how they have taken ‘gods’ and loves that are not God, that are not Love!

Afterwards.

Thankfully God does not abandon Israel, nor us (for such wandering is commonly repeated even in these days). God has an afterwards for us. Afterwards is always a time of return to God, seeking God, and being in awe of God, so that we once again know God’s goodness in and among us!

This is the time that God’s gifts of the Spirit enable us to choose, to will and to work for God’s good pleasure … that all people have life, and life abundant!

Which time is this day for you?

Playing with other ‘loves’ and trying to hide from the love of God?

OR

Seeking, walking with God (since God walks with you already), standing in awe of God’s work in and among us, and enjoying God’s goodness for all people?

The deep-freeze will arrive this day, staying minus 20⁰C ish day and night, going to minus 27⁰C at least one night, maybe even minus 30⁰C. A touch of cleansing cold.

Will our hearts become or stay so cold?

Or will we choose to will and work for God’s good pleasure?

As for me and my household (oops, no household, just me) we/I will choose to …

hope that the Spirit will overcome sin in us/me and bring God’s will to be among us, also.

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – December 13 Third Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 13, 2020

In the Dark

There is Light

Be Christ’s Light

for Others!

Jeremiah 10:6

There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might.

1 John 4:14

The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.

Words of Grace For Today

As the second wave of Covid 19 continues to explode around us with infections, hospitalizations and deaths that overwhelm us …

And finally restrictions are in place that might ‘bend the skyrocketing’ numbers …

Christmas will not be like many before.

There is none like God … the prayer of faith saves the sick, sins are forgiven …

So we trust God, pray fervently and rely on our sins being forgiven by forgiving others

AND

we learn from wisdom available by God’s grace to us all. For example:

On The Dose, a CBC radio program, available in numerous ways including on demand, this past week host Dr. Brian Goldman interviewed psychology professor Steve Joordens who gave advice and guides on how to stay mentally and emotionally healthy through the holidays and beyond. The advice is badly needed by many as resilience to the effects of isolation is plummeting in a free fall as fast as the Covid 19 numbers are skyrocketing.

I had to step away for part of it, such are the demands of my living situation as I balance delicately hour by hour between destruction by ice or by fire, but these are the notes from my daily journal, expanded to make sense to any reader:

1. Plan for next year’s Christmas.

This year do what is necessary to make the holidays (and every day) safe, very safe, as safe as can be, for yourself, for your loved ones, and for all those you all encounter! Many things will not be possible. Be creative this year. Plan next year to do the things you cannot do this year.

This is not like war. We know an end is in sight and recovery to a somewhat familiar normal will come, so we can plan for it. We can make our new normal even better by planning for what is precious!

2. Make intentional social interactions.

We all need to interact with others. Don’t do what is not safe, very safe. Error on the side of safety, for now. That does not mean we cannot have many social interactions. Make your virtual connections real. Listen, share, laugh, cry, ‘be there’ for the intense moments and for the mundane. Reach out to people who may not have someone. Develop ‘pen pals’ or rather phone-pals or zoom-pals.

We are in the same storm, but in different boats. So respect that we all have to cope, each in our own ways. The basics are the same: we need to stay afloat amidst the chaos.

3. Counter Anxiety with Enjoyment.

Cortisol flows when we are anxious and moves us into fight/flight/flee mode in which we do not reason, we just act to save ourselves; or so the instinct works or rather does not work well when fight/flight/flee responses can do nothing to save us, let alone help us.

Endorphins counter the effect of cortisol, so do things and help others do things that bring enjoyment. Climb El Capitan, well … maybe just get a good dose of exercise as you are able. Music moves us to remember good times, brings us to laugh, and dance. Give the gift of music to yourself, and to others. Give music to bring back memories of times before Covid 19.

3. Be a model for children.

Children experience the world through us parents and adults. Do your own work to build up resilience so that you are not anxious around children. They will learn with you to be resilient in the face of extreme challenges. They will learn how to set anxiety aside.

Be a model for other people, too. Adults learn from other adults. We never quite stop learning from others if we stay healthy!

The real dark side that is becoming more and more apparent while everyone is under the stress of Covid 19 restrictions and infections and long term illness and deaths is … is depression, which unchecked is leading to suicides.

Be aware of this and notice your anxiety before it overwhelms you. Be resilient for others. Reach out to others. If you or someone else is at risk of harming themselves, there is help. Reach out. The resources are on the web in many places including www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx , scroll down to GET HELP.

4. Learn to relax at will.

You cannot be relaxed and anxious at the same time. Get online guides to practice how to relax. Practice until you can relax without the guides.

Then notice when you are starting to become anxious, and relax instead.

Use this to prepare for sleep as well.

5. Embrace winter.

Get out. It’s safer outside as far as Covid 19 goes. Be safe in the cold, dress for it. Get vitamin D by taking a walk on a sunny afternoon.

6. Bring wood from the first dry stack. (Oops, sorry that’s just the reminder for me to get wood to stay alive through last night’s -26⁰ C dip into hard freeze.)

Everyone has things that need be done to get through the winter and each month, besides dealing with Covid 19. Ensure you and others are doing those things, too. Work (not to an extreme) helps maintain resilience.

We trust God, pray fervently and rely on our sins being forgiven as we forgive others their sins, and we learn from wisdom available by God’s grace to us all.

Be safe, be wise, do not be anxious or let your hearts be troubled: instead find ways to enjoy life and share it with others, and relax into the comfort of God’s arms. God walks with us each day, each hour. God carries us when we falter.

Christ calls us to be God’s arms for one another; carry one another with respect and love.

[Thanks to The Dose, though I paraphrased considerably and creatively.]

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Light one, two, (three), (four) candles to watch for the Messiah, let the light banish darkness ….

[Light One Candle to Watch for Messiah, words by Wayne L. Wold]

Facing Covid 19: Daily Words of Grace – October 22

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Ice On Reeds, the Start of Freeze Up.

As Sure as the Lake Will Freeze Over in Fall,

So Will the Season of Christ’s Light Come.

Let it be soon, God.

Psalm 39:6

Surely everyone goes about like a shadow. Surely they are in turmoil for nothing; they heap up, and do not know who will gather.

2 Timothy 1:10

This grace [which saves us and gives us a holy calling] was given to us in Christ Jesus before the ages began, but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Saviour Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Words of Grace For Today

The world’s way of living is to try to make something from nothing, to have more for oneself. It is a turmoil like no other, yet no one can know who will get to gather in the rewards for all our striving to make something for nothing. Few of us reap the rewards of our efforts. Some reap the rewards of many others, and claim it is their right. It is not. Most of us give up great effort and see no reward at all.

Only those who labour for Christ are rewarded for their efforts, not with the heaps gathered in by others or by themselves. Rather we who labour for Christ receive first the reward for Jesus’ sacrifice, and then we live dedicated to following Christ’s will for us and others.

This is a holy calling. We no longer lives as a shadow, as part human, part darkness, outlined only by a brighter light. We live as the beings God created us to be, full, embodied, clearly seen in the light, solid even in the darkness of any kind, especially that of evil.

When one toils in order to have enough to provide the basics of life to oneself and one’s family, one can see no end of toil. For there is never enough for oneself and one’s own. When one toils in order to have the basics of life for oneself and one’s own … and for all those around in need, then there is always enough … enough for life that is worth living.

Yesterday I stopped at Walmart to pick up the four grocery items I need to deal with GERDS, for which I hope I have enough money since the gift card I was given had less than a dollar on it.

Done the first isle following the assigned directions to maintain physical distancing, I came face to face with two grocery carts. I stopped and waited for the people behind the carts to place in the rather full carts what they were looking for on the shelves. Then the proceeded to come further down the isle the wrong way towards me. I asked them to turn around, that they were going the wrong way. The first of the two carts instead turned to the side of the isle to try to force his way past me. I turned my cart to the side two inches to close the gap and he rammed my cart. I asked again.

With cursing the two cart drivers turned around, and a third man with them, starting verbally abusing me, threatening me to find me in the parking lot. As I continued with my shopping he continued to yell abuse at me from the next isle, from 20 and 50 feet away. I looked for staff. There were none to be found.

I headed for the checkouts, and while I was trying to deal with the 0 value gift card, the verbal abuse and threats started up again as the group joined the que to the checkouts. I yelled for security, afraid for my life, that this guy might actually follow me out into the parking lot!

Security came, or was it the manager. He was questioned. My credit card transaction was held up as they pulled my id. Finally I was allowed to exit the entrance doors to distance me from this guy.

If I could toil for this guy and the guy in a vehicle going 110kph passed me on my bicycle on the right, on the shoulder of highway 55, … If I could toil for these guys to not be idiots, not put my life at risk with their frustration that things are not going their way, how would that look?

I’m at a loss what to do for idiots, and many more others of so many kinds, who breach the social contract we have, which holds the barbaric nature of humanity at bay with such a thin veneer of civility. That thin veneer suffers attacks everyday, and its amazing that it still holds. If we are not careful, if we are not all careful, it will dissolve all too soon.

Then toiling for the basics of life will be an impossibility for us all, idiots, liars, deceivers, even for former holders of great authority, and also for us saints with a holy calling.

Pray that the Light of Christ will shine soon into the darkness that has descended on these lands and on these people,s here and across the globe, so notable as it is just south of the border.

The Light will expose the evil done, burning it up like chaff, as it finally abolishes death and brings life and immortality to light through the gospel.

Soon and Very Soon, we pray; Come and Deliver us, all. We are ALL in this together.