At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the people who rest complacently on their dregs, those who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do harm.’
For you say, “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.” You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.
Words of Grace For Today
We are all wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
Okay, I’m often of a different assessment of my situation. It’s not often that good.
Except I do keep myself clothed, mostly appropriately; and I do wear glasses, terribly scratched as they are, so that I can see clearly enough to prepare for winter and keep producing photos that are sometimes even good; and occasionally I have two quarters to rub together and use to fill the water tank (so that’s $25 to drive there and back) and I have not yet run out of water though it’s been close a few times; and while people may pity me, though I think it’s not many, as most cheer my unjust suffering, and I try to make a blessed case of my circumstances; but I’m caught on the wretched part. Don’t know how to change that, since I’ve confessed since I was a young child that I am a wretched sinner, needing God’s forgiveness.
I would guess everyone can produce a similar short accounting of how they are or are not wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. All of our efforts to say we are not simply help prove how so we are, and blind to the fact.
All too many people through all time have lived neither fearing and loving God, not caring, assured in themselves that God ‘will not do good, nor harm.’
There are and always have been the saints, people faithful to God, if still wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked, we are also humble or so about it all, and we turn our eyes and hopes to God.
In return God promises to walk with us. That makes God quite familiar with our wretchedness, pitiable-ness, poor-ness, blindness, and nakedness. God knows what God is getting into long before we realize where we are at, where people have been for so long. Why did God create and why does God continue to create such a universe with such people in it?
Happy are the people who know the festal shout, who walk, O Lord, in the light of your countenance.
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Words of Grace For Today
How are we to live in this world that feels so much like a hell hole so many days?
Well it’s like this man who walks down the street, trips and falls into an open hole and cannot get out because the sides are so steep. He calls out for help but no one seems to hear him.
Finally a very wealthy man comes by and stands at the edge of the hole. Hearing the trapped man’s plea the rich man throws down a fist full of money and walks on.
Eventually a doctor comes by and stands at the edge of the hole. Hearing the trapped man’s plea the doctor throws down a prescription and walks away.
That’s what so much of our days look like. Either we are in the hole, or we are trying to help people stuck in holes, but there really is little change from day to day.
We all just keep walking on.
But there’s more. There is the rest of the Hole Story.
Remember that man in the hole unable to get out. His sage continues after the rich man tosses in money and the doctor a prescription. A lawyer tosses down a brief. A drug dealer spills in some smack. Finally a farmer hands down a bag of produce. Some of that helps a bit, some certainly not.
Hours later a friend of the trapped man comes by and stands at the edge of the hole. The trapped man says with some relief, “Thank God you’ve found me. Find a rope or a ladder and help me get out of here.” The friend instead jumps into the hole.
See that’s the surprise that God provides for us each day. God sends good friends to jump right in with us, if they are not in the hole already!
The first man exclaims: “How stupid! Now we’re both trapped.”
We are right there, how stupid can God be to walk with us or send others down here. We want out, not company in the ‘hell holes’ we’ve gotten ourselves into. Then comes the next surprise.
God, like the friend responds, “It’s okay. I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.” (story told on West Wing by Leo to Josh dealing with post trauma syndrome after he was shot. 2007 reworked and added rich man. Edited 2022)
So Christ calls us forgiven sinners made saints to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.
Then we will walk in God’s countenance and know the festal shout well, for each day will be a celebration of all that God can do in spite of us, for us, and through us for others. Each day is not like the last, except that God’s Grace abounds again and again, in surprising ways.
Selfish and destructive strivings, yearnings, and desires.
The world is going to ‘hell in a hand basket’ quickly enough. Why do we have to help it along it’s way so effectively?
How are we to deal with all this?
We need to understand the root causes and work to end or at least mitigate them!
We need to work to mitigate the ‘downstream’ effects on so many lives as much as we can.
We need to get our own ‘houses’ in order, our own hearts, minds, and souls in order, except that is impossible without God cleaning, organizing, and renewing us from the inside out.
This God does through Jesus, the Christ, moving us from thinking we can earn our way forward, to relying wholly on God’s grace each day anew. God heals our weary, embattled souls.
For this we give God thanks, as we gather, knowing God is present with us always, also where we gather. God listens, so we beg and pray for help and healing and resolution and mitigations, and freedom from destruction from without and from within.
Because God not only promises us exactly that healing, but also pours it over us prodigiously each day, we return God thanks in our songs of joy.
The world may be going to hell in a hand basket quickly enough. We do our part to impede this progress as we are able and we trust God that Evil and Hell will not triumph in the end; not in our lifetimes, and not in the time of humans in the universe.
On with the day’s work that promises to be enough or more for the precious time given to us.
Can a woman forget her nursing-child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you.
So we can say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’
Words of Grace For Today
Will we be remembered, as we go through life, will anyone remember us when disaster strikes?! When we die, will anyone bother to remember us? When so many lies are repeated and spread like wildfire about us, creating a made-up monster that has our name, and otherwise has nothing to do with reality and our part in it, will anyone bother to remember who we really are?
When the worst comes at us, we can say with confidence that
‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?’
The day before us will have challenges, but we will not be forgotten for who we really are, for God does not forget anything. God knows us, gathers us in, forgives, renews, blesses, and sends us out to share God’s grace and blessings with all people.
God remembers us. Today is a good day to be remembered! (and forgiven.)
Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided.
By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as if it were dry land, but when the Egyptians attempted to do so they were drowned.
Words of Grace For Today
Sometimes, okay honestly, quite often, I wish that I had Moses staff to ‘part the troubled waters’ that block my escape from my tormentors and from the challenges that threaten to do me in.
Or, as the Hebrews passage states it, I wish I had the faith to part the ‘troubled waters’ that hem me in and hold me fast to the slavery that has been forced upon me.
But then, it’s like waiting for God to rescue you from a flood, and along the way refusing help from neighbours in a truck driving out through the low waters rising quickly, and the rescue boat that comes when the waters have filled the streets and roads, and the helicopter that will pluck you from the roof top. Instead St. Peter gets to point out that those offers for rescue were God at work.
So, it’s on with the day’s work, trusting that I will wisely choose what to do today of the many I can do or at least start doing today (and maybe even some that I think are impossible yet!)
The light shines, so it’s time to work. Now if the solar system were not burned out that would translate into power to use for some of the work. That’s one thing that I need to work on, since I’m low on gasoline for the generator!
Small challenge of power. At least it is not someone else fight to take my power from me. For that I am always thankful.
On with the day. What will it bring, and what can be done. That will be seen and given thanks for as the sunsets and I lay down to rest.
And for you? What will the day bring? More wishes for Moses’ staff, or focusing on what is possible … even if it looks impossible to start with?!
The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind. The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
Then he ordered the crowd to sit down on the ground; and he took the seven loaves, and after giving thanks he broke them and gave them to his disciples to distribute; and they distributed them to the crowd.
Words of Grace For Today
The prisoners, the blind, those bowed down, the righteous, the strangers (you know the ones who are different than us, by colour, posture, or due to neurodiversity), the orphan, the widow… all these get special mention as those that God favours and blesses, exactly because the world generally denigrates, casts out, and ignores them as real people.
The more complete view is Jesus. It always is. This here today is Jesus teaching and healing the huge crowd gathered out away from any village or city. It’s been a long day. The disciples are hungry. And they, like many are afraid. They have enough for themselves, but they do not have enough to feed this huge crowd. Jesus is not afraid. He sits the crowd down, takes what the disciples have to eat and shares it with the crowd. And…
Yesterday, a regular summer ‘visitor’ showed up again, this time riding on a noisy quad, accompanied by an even noisier side by side with two older people in it. The man, slender and unpredictable, has arrived each summer to claim ownership of a camper left by a man who has disappeared. He and his buddies, one and sometimes two, rifled through the camp, took out a great metal tripod to hang a cook pot over an open fire, and who knows what all else. It was set up in a camp nearby for a month or so and then it all disappeared. Each summer he’s said he’d move ‘his’ motor van camper out in a few weeks.
The camper still sits there.
This time he arrived and claimed to own this piece of land that I am renting. His way of denying that I am renting the land. Well it’s an agreement between the actual owner and myself. He and others can deny it to be true, but that does not change the truth. His claiming to be the owner, for two weeks, sounded ridiculous. And it turned out to be just that. More lies claiming ownership of what is not his.
He also claimed ownership of the 45 foot camper bus that showed up months ago, parked behind the abandoned camper van.
He also told me to take down a barrier that keeps quads, side by sides, snowmobiles and vehicles of all kinds from running into the edge of the meadow. He had arrived on a road that has a barb wire gate across it. They had taken it down to get through and left it in the woods when they left. They also took a piece of firewood used to hold up the bottom wire.
Unpredictable. Liar. Thief.
People like this are as they appear, and as dangerous as they can be, they are not as dangerous and destructive as people who behave civilized and appear somewhat intelligent. They do not make claims to own what is not theirs. They work greater evil to take what they want so that it is legally theirs. They do not lie about what can easily be proven to be false. They lie with unprovable lies that destroy lives. They exercise power with wealth, political sway, and smooth talk, and they exercise it for their own benefit, damned be who it hurts, takes life from, or destroys.
These are the people and their ways that the Psalmist gives quick shrift: the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
Except, the way of the wicked seems to continue, to prevail, and to destroy generation after generation. It is the hope that this would end, but (naive me for thinking I would be exempt from suffering at the wrong end of this wickedness!) it goes on and on, so commonly that most people hardly blink when they hear it is their own backyard. It’s as if they say, ah dahh! Why do you think we bow to the evil ones, and keep our heads down so as not to attract attention, and why do you think we do not listen to those the evil ones destroy?
Jesus says no such thing. In the crowd are certainly evil ones, like the unpredictable summer visitor liar thief, like the civilized destroyers, like the selfish power people, and like the ones who duck (which is it’s own kind of evil.) Jesus then takes what is his and the disciples for their meal, breaks it and blesses it and shares it with all. It’s a few baskets filled with bread and fish.
This miracle is it is enough to feed a crowd of over 5000. Some say that Jesus had the bread multiply in the baskets against all the laws of physics. Not impossible. That would indeed be a miracle. The greater miracle is what likely happened: as the crowd saw that food was shared for all, they pulled out their meagre portions, took what they needed from them and from the baskets passed along, and added back into the baskets what they did not need. Thus all the people ate. The good prisoners, the blind, those bowed down, the righteous, the strangers (you know the ones who are different than us, by colour, posture, or due to neurodiversity), the orphan, the widow as well as all the evil and wicked ones in the crowd receive their fill of nourishment.
The greatest miracle is that Jesus overcomes the people’s fears, and inspires them to generosity with each other.
Now that would be one way to put the wicked ways to rest.
What does God have in store for us this fine summer day, when the temperatures are forecast to rise beyond comfortable levels, but not into the dangerous levels? How can we be the ones to continue Jesus’ miracle of helping people overcome their fears and inspire them to generosity, especially with those the ‘civilized’ people would rather forget because the outcasts suffer because of their ‘civilized’ wicked ways?
Maybe today in a small way we can, by Grace, help even one such doer of wickedness to convert to Jesus’ generosity.
“Stephan’s Quintet, a visual grouping of five galaxies, is best known for being prominently featured in the holiday classic film, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Today, NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope reveals Stephan’s Quintet in a new light.“
Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.
1 Thessalonians 5:5
For you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness.
Words of Grace For Today
It is in the darkness that we face our deepest fears.
It is also in the deepest darkness of our lives that God makes most clear for us God’s awesome power of love and grace.
Imagine you are far up north, on a clear, dark night.
Look up and around, and drink in the view of the sky, full of stars. These stars that have inspired so many humans to turn history to what it is for us today. Yet …
For all we do to ‘turn history’ to our liking, Forest Gump’s mom said it for us all
‘Life is like a box of Chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get!’
While the darkness may drive fear through our hearts more deadly than any spear or bullet, and while the light may show our failings in all too disastrous a view for all to see, in the end, what we get in life is not as important as what we give in life.
Whether we find ourselves in the brilliant, unforgiving light of day, or in the darkest moments of our lives, Christ’s light shines into our lives, our minds, hearts, and souls, and while that may illuminate our failings all too well, that light also shines grace and forgiveness over all our lives … and it brings us peace.
Look up and around, and drink in the view of the sky, this time though with so few stars. For this night the sky dances with waves of green and blue and purple.
How can we be anything but awestruck! And inspired.
God, once again (as whenever we need to be so inspired) dances the universe for us to see and believe, so that we might live in wonder and awe, willing to serve, guided by what we cannot see, but know only by faith.
The people said to Joshua, ‘The Lord our God we will serve, and him we will obey.’
Pilate asked him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’
Words of Grace For Today
The people promise to serve God and obey him.
They break their promise over and over again.
Good thing the covenant God made with Abraham and with them is one sided: God makes it, God keeps it.
We just get to trust it, and return to trusting it when we decide (so often) not to trust God.
Pilate knows power. Jesus is to him an usurper, and a poor one at that, for he’s gotten himself caught by the ‘real’ power, and his life is in Pilate’s hands.
Well, not really!
Jesus is the real power, that holds the universe together since the beginning of time and before, even as the Webb Telescope gives us spectacular photos that reach back in time closer, closer to the beginning of time.
Jesus is the power, the king, the master of all people and of the universe, who bends down to serve us, to demonstrate how real power is exercised, that is with mercy and love.
What would history be like if all people exercised that kind of power?
What would our days be like if we exercised that kind of power?
Francis of Assissi, Clare, Abbess of San Damiano, Dominic, Florence Nightingale, Clara Maass, and a host of so many others show us what life can be like when we exercise that kind of power!
Live on today! Listen to the truth and to Jesus’ voice. Exercise your God given power … to serve others.
The sun shall no longer be your light by day, nor for brightness shall the moon give light to you by night; but the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.
1 John 1:5
This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
Words of Grace For Today
It sounds like an apocalyptic movie: the sun shall no longer be your light by day, and the moon will not give you light by night. Polar darkness, for ever.
Then comes our salvation: the Lord will be our everlasting light, and our God will be our glory.
John puts the words there that seal the deal for us: God is light and in him there is no darkness at all.
Thank God, because it was beginning to look like the darkness had taken a firm grip our our world leaving us just a short time before we would plunge into eternal darkness.
January 10, 2022 I wake to a rustle followed by a huge bang. Then more rustling of tarps and more bangs, loud, crisp, close and … the ground shakes. I reach for the light to switch it on, and nothing. The batteries are dead as a 100 year old mummy, and as cold as if the mummy were uncovered from melting polar ice. That’s not right, I remember thinking. The fire should still be quite warm. I try to see what the thermometer reads but cannot see. I zip open the door and wind blows in my face crisp and instantly freezing cold. That’s not right, there was a fire in the fire box sheltered from the wind by a frame hung with insulated tarps. I cannot see anything. I feel for something, anything. But there is nothing. I stumble around pulling on a parka, pants, boots, gloves. I step out to where there had been a wood stove when I went to bed just a few hours ago. I thought I’d stoke it, but it’s not there.
I walk a few steps and the piercing cold bites deep into me, so much so that as I turn I lose my bearings, I flounder around a bit. Trying to work this out, I take one step and feel in a circle. I take a step back and then one more back and feel in a circle. Then I step in each side direction. Nothing. So I repeat the search this time taking two steps. This time my hand brushes against something. I take one more step towards it, trying to ensure I know the direction I’ve come from. It’s the zipper door flapping in the wind. I crawl back into the tent.
A loud to no one I say in a prayer: Would You Hand Me a Light!
As I reach to climb into bed my hand brushes something hard, a flashlight.
I have a light. I turn it on and realize in my restless sleep I’ve turned myself all around so that I have gone out the ‘back’ door of the tent. I look through the zipper of the front door and there is the shelter and fire, dwindling to almost no heat.
I get dressed again and go out to stoke it, lay myself back down to sleep again, and thank God
… for being the Light of my Life.
Or I could have panicked and never found my way back in the tent.
In the morning I see evidence that a bear has taken on a tree not 5 feet from my tent, and the tree lost. It was left banging against the tree next to it. My night of banging waking me turned around. Thankfully God got me straightened around.
God leads us and lights our ways in so many and various ways, but always God lights our ways, even on this day to come.
There’s lots of weeds in life to be caught by, and lots of opportunity to share the sunset, and everything else in life with those in need.
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes.
The crowds asked him, ‘What then should we do?’ In reply he said to them, ‘Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none; and whoever has food must do likewise.’
Words of Grace For Today
We are born with pretty much empty minds, which get filled with all we take in.
So we ask many people: how do we live well?
That is part of being human.
God does not leave us without any guidance. Sometimes that guidance is abused by others to steal life from us and many other people. Sometimes that guidance is misunderstood and following it gets us further from a good life than we were earlier. Mostly God’s precepts teach us how to live well, bring joy to our hearts, and clarity to our eyes and minds.
Still we must often ask: Lord what then must we do?
The beginning of enjoying a good life is to learn to share everything and whatever little one has, trusting that others will share with you when you are in need.
Life rarely works out that way, but being those who gladly, generously, and readily give to others in need starts by making one’s own life closer to what God intended, and it provides to others so that they can live. It’s hard to live well if you cannot even live.
And that’s the point. There’s always enough for everyone to live well, as long as those with more than enough are more than ready to share.
Which we humans rarely are.
So God keeps reminding us, that’s the purpose of life.
Today’s just another opportunity to learn how good it is to live in God’s purpose for life.