The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Words of Grace For Today
On this side of disaster, destruction, and demise (unearned but foisted on us by our enemies that claimed to be our family) we breathe and know it is a miracle.
We see the sun rise, and know it is a miracle.
We see the grass grow, the pine trees fill with acorns, the chicks grow to mature ducks and geese, and we know it is a miracle.
We work hard to prepare for the hard winter predicted ahead, and see the resulting piles of wood, completed repairs and improvements, and we know it is all wonder-filled miracles.
For God has become again and again our salvation, our breathe, and our hope.
So we would hope for you, that you would know the miracles that God works wondrously in your days, and thus find peace in the Holy Spirit’s power to transform the worst of the worst into blessings unending.
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.)
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.
I am a companion of all who fear you, of those who keep your precepts.
So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ He replied, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me?’ And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him.
Words of Grace For Today
It is pretty well established that we mimic those we live with and among. So losing weight in a city where the BMI is sky high and obesity a huge matter for the health care system is going to be much tougher than say in Vancouver where it seems everyone takes a 5 km hike before work and on the way home, as well as a 25 km hike on the weekend, or a ski, or a swim (though the strait is not really clean water for that!)
So when we want to lose the weight of sin, degradation of life, and worldly concerns (like material security, status, and domination over others) we would do well to live among those who strive for the same, or better, among those whom God has gifted freedom from sin, degradation of life, and worldly concerns. Those who strive for this on their own, though, strive in vain. And God frees us all, and yet we all remain captive to sin. So where can we live to thrive, and live well, as God created us to live?
Among God’s people. Who are God’s people? God created us all.
The best we can do is keep companions who fear and love God. (Keeping God’s precepts is impossible so those who make such a claim are full of it.)
The best we can do is read and listen to God’s Word, asking for guidance from those who can actually help us comprehend and appropriate what we read. That is not an easy thing to do, nor is it simple to tell who can help us, and who is just full of it, wanting to control others with their whims, BS, and lies.
Ah, what are we to make of it anyway.
Take the visualization above. What can we make of it? The larger the piece of the pie, the more power in this world that country exercises. What of the projection that China will overtake the USA by 2030? That’s just 8 years ahead. What of Tuvalu and so many others like it who have so little in the Global Trade Game? Which does God value more? Which do we value more? Which must we be aware of most?
Tevia’s Rabbi’s prayer comes to mind. God bless the Czar and from us keep him very far. Trouble is with globalization distance is not always a measure of safety.
We can pray that such values as world power, do not play in our lives a great part. So that we can still bend low, serving the outcasts and poor, eating with the least valued, sharing with the most needy.
He said, ‘Do not fear, greatly beloved, you are safe. Be strong and courageous!’ When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, ‘Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.’
Very truly, I tell you, you will weep and mourn, but the world will rejoice; you will have pain, but your pain will turn into joy.
Words of Grace For Today
Do not fear.
This is often written in scripture, but not so often spoken in everyday life. Perhaps that is because in our lives we rarely, against what threatens us, take our stance on God’s Word, instead relying on what we ourselves can do. And what we can do is often so little compared to what must be done to secure our futures, so little, that the only thing left to do is to fear what will come our way.
Lions, hungry lions, all within the confines of a closed in space … and us put into that space so that our captures, false witnesses, tormentors, and ‘unjust’ judges can morbidly delight in watching the ‘animals rip bloody flesh from our bodies’ until we succumb and die, fodder for hungry beasts. This may not happen very often, literally anyway, since there are few lions in these parts, though figuratively it is happening yet this day, and not just to me. So how will we prepare for the ‘lions’ of this time and place?
There is no other way to prepare than to trust God’s Word: we will weep and mourn as the world around us rejoices, but our pains will turn to joy in God’s own good time. Trusting these words we are no longer captives to fear, but freed to live.
And to live by such powers that no ‘lions’ can devour us or make our blood flow.
And to live well!
This day we trust in God’s Word alone, and celebrate all of God’s wonders done for us, here in this time and place, and across all time and places that ever were or will be. Makes for a full day of celebration, as each day is.
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.
But I with the voice of thanksgiving will sacrifice to you; what I have vowed I will pay. Deliverance belongs to the Lord!
1 John 2:17
And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live for ever.
Words of Grace For Today
From the belly of the fish Jonah cries to God and promises ‘what I have vowed I will pay.’
Then the rest of the story of Jonah’s previous resistance to God’s call to enter Nineveh with God’s call to repentance or face destruction. God has planned a great calamity for Nineveh’s near future.
Then the people turn from their evil ways and God changed his mind.
Now that’s something one does not experience every day, as a city that takes 3 days to walk across turns from it’s evil ways, the king ordering everyone to fast and don sackcloth and cry mightily to God and turn from their evil ways. And rarer yet is that the people obey their king, not just in appearances but so that God knows they have turned away.
The real wonder is being able to watch God change his mind.
That gives us hope for the world today.
We are not in the belly of a fish, having resisted God’s call to proclaim the coming end for our city. We are in the belly of angry planet whose environment is imploding in on itself because of our arrogant abuse of the planet’s resources, all for greed and luxury.
Jonah had it kind of unpleasant in the slime in the fishes belly, acidic slime at that, slowly eating at him. The clock ticking.
We sit in luxury and comfort, those of us who control the destruction underway, while others (billions) sit in discomfort and despair as their world fails or rebels around them with floods, droughts, destructive storms, wildfires, earthquakes, heat waves and deepening cold snaps … and melting ice that has been ice for millennia.
The desire of this world, to live in comfort no matter the cost to others is passing away, becoming impossible, backlashing on all the people, not just those in control, those having chosen this path for us all.
The only desire that will remain is the desire to serve God, and follow God’s will. May we be quick about it, or at least quick enough, as Jonah eventually was, that we may be saved.
The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
Words of Grace For Today
Oh so glorious it is … to see finally poetic justice and real justice play out. A 23 year old American and his family decided that their hike up Mount Vesuvius should include a peak over the lip of the volcano with selfies to document their adventure … even though the trail was a prohibited area.
While taking the selfie, the young man’s cell phone fell over the lip into the crater. While reaching into the crater the young man slipped and fell down the crater.
Now one would think that that could well have been the end of him, but God is good and gracious, to this young man also that day. His fall ended about 50 feet into the crater, not all the way to the bottom 300 metres down, where he would have been toast. And …
And at the time four volcano guides were on the other side of the crater, saw the man fall, and rushed to his rescue. They lowered a team member down on a rope to retrieve the bruised and scraped up man
and waited with him (and his group) to be treated by the ambulance that arrived, and then to be taken eventually to the police station to be arrested and charged.
Meanwhile in Sri Lanka 62,000 people are in immediate life threatening danger and 6 million soon will be after the country no longer has money to import the necessities of life like food and cooking oil. This, it is said, is a result of fraud and mishandling of the country’s finances by the ousted president. Of course he could not have done it alone (if he was a player in creating the problem at all.) What is clear is that people will die because of other people’s greed.
So it is everywhere, and poignantly also here, where indigenous peoples, and people of ‘other’ races, creeds, and orientations are taken advantage of, and where the courts demonstrate a brash bias for the wealthy and privileged … routinely as if no one cared or noticed … or as if there were no consequences.
An American had money to travel to Italy, to hike to the lip of the volcano, and try to take a selfie there, to show off his exploits. Thousands of people slip on the verge of death because of greed and fraud.
And God is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
We are to Love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, so that we may be children of our Father in heaven; for God makes the sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.
It makes you want to protest and cry out at God for justice.
That is why Jesus had to make sure we heard clearly that we are to love our enemies, for God created and provides for them as well.
Makes us scratch our heads all too often.
Until we realize that trying to enact justice for God is impossible to get right and doing so destroys more of us and them than we can afford.
So we pray, Lord save those facing injustice and death because of greed and fraud, especially as it is done on our behalf … and save us from ignorance of your good creation and apathy to the troubles that so many people, creatures and your entire planet earth face this day. And we give God thanks that our troubles remain challenges that we can (so far, with care, skill, planning, and lots of hard work) be overcome.
I will punish you according to the fruit of your doings, says the Lord; I will kindle a fire in its forest, and it shall devour all that is around it.
So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.
Words of Grace For Today
When it comes to our enemies we jump on the band wagon and toot our horn: go God, get ‘em! Give ‘em what they deserve! We are more than ready to see our enemies (who would do us in) get their just desserts.
We re-write Jeremiah to read: “I will punish them according to the fruit of their doings”, says the Lord; “I will kindle a fire in their forest and it shall devour them and all that is theirs!”
But that is not quite Jeremiah, now is it.
We don’t get to see our enemies burn to the ground.
We don’t get to see God devouring them for the evil they have done.
God’s hope, and ours as well (if we’ve matured enough for it to be so) is that God will finally reach our enemies’ hearts, they will confess, amend their lives and live justly and graciously the rest of their days. We’d like some restitution, but if they amended their lives, we could even forgive them almost everything they’ve done so far, almost everything.
Meanwhile, we hear Paul loud and clear: do “not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” Actually we hope we do not reap all that we have sown, for all of us have enough sins in our past to earn eternal damnation (we’ve just not earned it so clearly so many times over as our enemies who seek our death.) We trust that God’s promises to be gracious with us, already since our baptisms, are sure, uncompromisable, and … well life-giving, not only for us, but as a witness to all people how gracious and generous God is with us, so just maybe for many people, even our enemies perhaps?
This day we work again, in spite of being very weary, at doing all that is good and right, so that God’s harvest will be gathered in with great abundance, and all people will have life, living in Christ’ light.