For the Lord will not cast away his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself.
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.
Words of Grace For Today
Bill sat next to Janet after their dance. They’d danced a dance each day together for the last year, after they were married, both in their late 60’s.
Remembering as Bill did how wonderful it was to be chosen by Janet so long ago on the floor of the High School dance, in the semi-darkness, so lonely, so frightening, so foreign. Then Janet came along. Janet who had dated Ted for as long as anyone in their class dated, until they’d broken up three months ago. That Janet, who’d he’d always watched and admired and wished he were Ted, until they broke up and Ted started dating Daniel and Janet dated almost anyone she wanted and not many were chosen. That Janet asked him if he would dance.
She said she’d been watching him. Watching him watch her. For years she had seen him. For years she had wanted to watch him, to ask him out. It was so frightening.
That had been the start of a whirlwind of wonder and a world that was so colourful Bill barely had time to catch his breath. Senior year, she said she wanted to be with him for the rest of their lives. A week later Bill had asked her to marry him. She had stood up in shock and walked off … and never came back.
That Janet now was his wife, and he was her husband, after two separate lives of joys and sorrows, wonders and such deep loses. And they danced.
Always one or the other would ask, ‘Since I have chosen you, will you dance with me tonight?’ And always the other answered, ‘Since I have chosen you, there is no greater honour than mine to be able to dance with you.’
So God asks us, ‘Since I have chosen you, will you dance with me today?’
You rule the raging of the sea; when its waves rise, you still them.
I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him.
Words of Grace For Today
Janet Rogner sat in her rocking chair wondering what had happened. Where had all the time gone? It seemed like yesterday that she and Ted met every day, sometimes on the lake, sometimes on the river, more often at school or on a date. Marriage, 2 kids, divorce, marriage and one more kid. That’s what they told her anyway. She did not remember any of it. They told her about the accident that killed her 2nd husband and 2 kids, and how it had left her in a coma for years.
She remembered Ted, but they told her he had died of a heart attack. They had reached out to his wife and two children. They came to visit, but she did not know them at all, even when the son reminded her of how Ted would twirl his finger in the air, like directing music. They said he went on to become a band director like his father, and more. He was an engineer of something called computer science.
She’d seen those things, computers. But they made no sense to her at all. They said they set her’s up to just listen and respond to her. So she swore at it nearly every hour. It still did nothing.
Now she looked in the mirror as the sun rose. Another day. Who was that old woman in the mirror anyway?
Then one day the storm gates broke open with memories that sent her scurrying for her bed, where she curled up to hide from them, from all the wonderful and beautiful memories, the challenges she and her husband and her friends had met with varying success, and then she remembered the old woman in the mirror and the accident and the deaths of her husband and her children.
It was days that she spent curled up, trying to hide from the pain. Until one day her son, Bill, walked in. She recognized him and he sat with her. He said he had come for years every week, but then he had to move for work and his wife’s job and his two children’s schooling, in computer science. And Janet remembered she had been good with computers, though she never had a degree, she knew more than most programmers and technicians.
They talked for hours, as Bill helped her remember things that were just on the edge of her awareness. He had to go but he came back then every day for a week and then once a week. The memories flooded in, like an angry sea in a hurricane at first, and then they started to organize, settle, smooth out. She started to dance in the morning. She swore at the computer, for the fun of it, before she sat down to type in her journal.
One day she saw a photo on line. It caught her, bounced her up out of her chair and tossed her back against the furthest wall. She didn’t know why. As the raging storm settled, she dared to look again. It was a photo of a lake, like the ones her family lived on through her High School years. Memories flooded in, of her mom walking with her and Bill. He was her first love. She’d never told her husband that is why she insisted they name their son Bill. Ted was earlier and Bill was everything to her, and then nothing but pain.
The love, the wonders, the fights, the break up and unequaled pain and chaos of life for months in her senior year in High School. She’d met her first husband, Greg, at a grad party and escaped into his life, but he turned out to be abusive and unfaithful. She stuck it out with him longer than she should have. He should have been in the car accident instead of her 2nd husband, Roger, and her kids should not have been there at all. But Greg would not bring the kids back after their visitation time with him, so Roger and Janet had gone to pick them up … and the drunk driver who rear ended them into the oncoming train brought them all to an end. Except Janet sort of survived in the storm of nothing remembered, loved or lost.
That weekend when her son came to visit, he brought his two grown children with him and their spouses and their little kids … and Bill said he had a surprise for her.
Her Bill from senior year in High School walked in and time stood still. He an old man. She an old woman in a rocker with her family all around. And she remembered before he spoke that she was the one who broke up with him because he would not marry her. She’d buried that for years through all that pain that it brought.
Her family talked. Bill talked. Janet sat stunned, quiet. Then Bill’s family, all ten of them came in. His wife had died decades ago. He walked with a limp, turns out from a surgery that was not quite successful. His grandchildren and great grandchildren danced and played and mingled with her children’s children.
Her son put some music on, one of her favourite waltzes. He danced with his wife. Then Bill asked Janet to dance. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror, smiling for the first time in so long.
Today, may the wisdom of God be yours, that you may dance and smile and remember all that God has shared with you, the sorrows and the joys, as the water laps on the shore of the waters of memories.
Hear, O my people, while I admonish you; O Israel, if you would but listen to me!
2 Timothy 4:17
But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.
Words of Grace For Today
God does not give up on us.
While we wander away and ignore all God would give to us as wisdom, putting ourselves first and leaving others to fend for themselves against hopeless odds, God still cries for us: Hear, O my people while I admonish you! If you would be listen to me!
When we tune our ears to hear God’s Word to us each morning, noon and night, it is full of surprises what we will hear. We thought we’d hear God condemning us and or others for all the dregs of sin we toss around, at each other and at the planet.
We thought we’d hear God demanding reparations.
We thought or rather fully hoped we’d hear God giving it to our enemies with lots of ‘smote keys’.
Doch, God is prodigious with love, forgiveness, and mercy, especially for the likes of us, great sinners that we are. Ready to deny it at moment’s notice.
And God is prodigious with love, forgiveness, and mercy for our enemies that we think are so much worse than we are.
Well, they may well be by some scale of measurement of terribleness, though that scale is useless or even hugely damaging in God’s world.
So God is merciful to us all, each as we require to hear that we are invited back to the table at the banquet. All of us ‘saved from the lion’s mouth’ as it were.
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.
To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him,
Now all the tax-collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to him.
Words of Grace For Today
We would like to believe that we are good people.
Honesty escapes us when we fall into the trap of not just liking to believe, but actually lying to ourselves and convincing ourselves that we are good people.
God looks down on the devastation that we have collectively brought down on the earth and, seeing into the future, sees a void as bleak as it was before creation. God is angry and sends a dry, life-sucking wind across all we have done, drying it of all water and life and hope, until it is returned to the dust of what it was before we were created.
So it is with all we humans do. We undo the creating that God does. God sees it, and burns it away, back to as it was before we existed.
Thankfully that is not the end of the story of our lives on earth.
God sees us with mercy.
God sees us with mercy, forgives us, and welcomes us in to God’s Kingdom, not because we deserve it, but because God ‘don’t create no junk’ and we are precious to God, every last one of us!
God sees us with mercy and sets the table for us in celebration that we are found, and carried back home.
God sees us with mercy and Jesus sits with us ‘tax collectors and sinners’ at the table.
So it is we get to eat each day, and celebrate with thanks all that is, all that we can do, and all God does through us to welcome in every last lost soul.
Now ain’t we all one of them!
Amazing this Mercy God has for us. It’s not at all what we expect of each other. It is what makes life so precious and wondrous.
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.)
Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog!
1 John 5:15
And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have obtained the requests made of him.
Words of Grace For Today
There is little that is more deflating than to have people create a lie about oneself, and to be silenced for years and decades, as everyone refuses to hear the truth. Instead, silenced, one is imprisoned, left bereft, scorned, and ostracized.
We need not fear that God treats us this way. Exactly the opposite, God listens, knows the truth, and allows no false accusations live before God and anyone willing to listen.
Knowing that God hears us, provides all we need for life abundant, and allows no ‘dog’ have any power over us, we enter every new day, with an unexpected and surprising assurance and courage.
We know that all there is that is required for life.
We get to offer our ears and hearts to those who others have also silenced and ostracized.
Today is another day for eyes, ears and hearts open.
The Lord uprooted them from their land in anger, fury, and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as is now the case.
I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.
Words of Grace For Today
God’s anger, fury, and great wrath have been held responsible for all sorts of misfortune.
That is the If-Then perspective evident in the Deuteronomic passage for today. The truth behind it is that faith in God, or not-faith in God, will not save us from disaster. Sometimes there is nothing that can save us from such disasters.
Climate change brings plenty of disaster to plenty of our doorsteps these days. There is nothing we can do to stop climate change. Maybe we can slow it’s rate of increase, but only slightly. It’s effects are with us for decades if not centuries and millennia! We may be able to mitigate some disasters, but certainly not even most and definitely not the worst.
How do we live in such times?
As always, we start by confessing our sins, our inability to earn God’s favour, and our total dependence on God for all things good. In the end we trust Jesus will bring us home after our deaths. In between we give our all fearing and loving God, loving our neighbours as ourselves, and loving even our enemies, as we share all God gives us with those in need, which is pretty much everyone. Physical needs are many, and spiritual needs endless.
Rise up, O God, plead your cause; remember how the impious scoff at you all day long.
God has made known to us the mystery of God’s will, according to God’s good pleasure that God set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in Christ, things in heaven and things on earth.
Words of Grace For Today
For what shall we ask from God for this day, if not that God’s will be done also among us?
The Psalmist sings to God to rise up and state God’s cause, remembering how the impious scoff at God. Is the wish behind this prayer that God will judge and condemn the scoffers, the impious. If so then it is yet another example of humans trying to beat up others using God as a weapon. Or in other words: do what I tell you is proper behaviour and observe proper religious rituals in order that God will save you.
Ephesians has our answer to that kind of ‘easy’ bending of God’s Word and Promises of old. God has revealed the mystery of God’s will to us in Jesus the Christ, and it is in a Word: Grace. Christ came to live, die and be raised from the dead in order that we might know God’s first and last wish for us all is to love us, forgive us, and send us out to be that love to others.
There is great darkness always in life, always ready to steal our hearts from us and toss us to the wolves of self-reliance, self-saving, consuming for security, zero-sum stealing life from others that we might live in comfort.
Christ light shines in every darkness.
We are that light for so many people, if we but shine with God’s Grace and Love, instead of fear-motivated judgements and cries for conforming and compliance to our remake of ‘god’s rules.’
Ah, the freedom.
Ah, the wonder.
Ah, the awfully awe-filled, awesome light that rises this day again for us to live in.
Thunder may be scary but it’s easier to compartmentalize. This Light, it exposes every bit of our being, and God’s as well.
Finding Our Way in the Cold, Is Less Life-Threatening, Than in Extreme Heat.
His shoots shall spread out; his beauty shall be like the olive tree, and his fragrance like that of Lebanon.
I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.
Words of Grace For Today
Around here lots of things grow, in the spring and summer anyway. That is wonderful if you are not allergic to the things that fly around as grass, bugs, trees, bugs, flowers, did I say bugs, and molds and mosquitoes, flies, and wasps … and ants.
Ants have taken on the woods pretty much wholesale and trees are toppling over from the base, the roots weakened by ants eating at them, and then beneath the stresses of wind on tall, heavy trunks, the just give up standing. Trees are also toppling over from any point between the base and the top where ants have attacked the wood, making their homes and eating the sap, or so they say.
We’ve reached the season where the grass does not need to be mowed every week. The evening light becomes darkness at an hour reasonable to sleep deep. The bugs have stopped multiplying exponentially and the pollen count is down.
One hopes that as the winter season closes in the trees have grown strong enough to withstand the storms and thereby provide protection from the winds that howl as snow swirls and the night is fast on the land before supper and holds tight until well after breakfast.
Many times and in many ways we’ve recognized that as trees are rooted in the ground and grow solid trunks that support many branches and branches support many twigs and twigs support many leaves. The comparison to our lives rooted in God abound, and well that they do.
We do not do well without a solid trunk (Christ) anchored with solid roots in the ground (Creation). Nor do we do well without exposure (like leaves) to the light of Christ so that we can grow each day and not succumb to the forces (like ants, like the devil’s minions) that would eat away at our existence, leaving us vulnerable to the winter winds (of evil.)
Therefore we celebrate the gift God gives us of anchoring us creation, growing us from Christ and making us reach the light (by the power of the Holy Spirit.)
It is no wonder that study after study shows that the noises of highways and industry limit growth in animals and people alike, and that we and most animals do better in the presence of naturally growing things (like trees and grasses) and flowing or collected waters (like streams, rivers, and lakes).
The sweet smell of Lebanon’s famous oak trees abounds for those rooted in Creation and grown in Christ, and in that fragrance we are able to produce much fruit, the fruit of sharing God’s abundant blessings with so many people.
On these hot summer days, it is helpful to remember that trees help relieve the heat. If it gets too bad you can always take a branch and hit yourself over the head. When you wake up it likely be cooler. OR you can prepare and spend your days in the shade, near cool waters, and in ground surrounded depths, for there God arranged for it to be 10⁰ C, everything else being equal. Ah, basements have a great purpose in the summer, the deeper the better!
Looking into the depths of our hearts this day to encounter again the Holy Spirit, chillin’.