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?
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.
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.
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 the path of the righteous is like the light of dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until full day.
1 John 3:2
Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.
Words of Grace For Today
The path …
I’m not so sure anyone really knows what any ‘path’ looks like, until they have travelled it and since no human can travel the path of righteousness (righteousness is reckoned to us by God, as a gift, unearned, untraveled, perhaps hoped for).
We wish we could. We pretend we have. We write about it as if we have. We try to inspire others to choose to travel the path that we have not travelled.
We should instead inspire people to trust God to reckon righteousness to us, and to be alert to the path that God provides for us. Though we do not travel it, God hauls us on that path in spite of us and our constant rebelling, and false, arrogant claims that we, oh yes, we have and do travel the path of righteousness. That is like most of our human powered efforts: it’s bunk. Or as the writer of Ecclesiastes said, it’s all vanity.
Theologians and writers who claim to know how we will be like Jesus, and what Jesus will be like upon his return speak that same language of over-exuberance at least and often pure arrogance and goal of controlling other people, even though they can control so little of themselves and their own life.
Humility is our beginning point, our mid-point, and our reality all the way to the end. The only thing we can ‘boast’ of is God’s good work in us, and in all creation.
Like the sun rising, with the most beautiful light, until it rises clear of the horizon and burns heat and energy down on the day-lit-earth. From that we have learned to create solar electricity. And from that energy plants through photosynthesis live and thrive … unless and until the heat and energy from the sun becomes too much and they wilt, burned out of life by the very energy that gave them life.
So it is for us. We need the sun to live, vitamin D being the least of it. Until the sun becomes too hot, too intense, too powerful an energy that it burns life up around us, and us with it.
Today it will burn hot in the meadow, with a forecast 30⁰ it will climb to at least 35⁰ and likely 40⁰ or more as the heat gets trapped in the meadow.
Thankfully the evening comes and cools it right off, usually 5⁰ cooler than elsewhere. A regenerating time, not just for sleep but recovery from the intense heat.
What do people do without that relief? They suffer. They die.
What do people do without the energy (Love) of God entering their lives with the great relief from the evils of the world to revive them (Grace). They suffer. They die.
We pray that today God will exercise Love and Grace abundantly for us and make us clearly aware of God’s work for us, as clear as the noonday sun, with relief from the cool water of life in the shade of the tall and healthy tree canopy, where so many of God’s creatures know to find relief from the heat.
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.
David was in great danger; for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in spirit for their sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.
The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’
Words of Grace For Today
There are times when all we know to do is to beg that our faith be increased for we cannot see our way clear of what others try to do to us and what the future certainly holds for us.
So we cry for more faith. Really we want God to stop our enemies from attacking us, and bring us a future full of promise, and justice and truth out of our past, and clarity for our children and communities and church, and those who have done this to us to have the light of Christ shone clearly on their deeds and for restitution to be made to those who have been made to so inexcusably suffer, most of all the children. That is the prayer for years, and less and less of that seems possible, so instead we pray for more faith.
And God answers.
David leads 600 soldiers against an enemy raiding the land. On finding the whole city of Ziklag burned and the women and children taken, the people are ready to string David up for not protecting them. Who said people are clear-headed about who to blame for what.
David, warrior king that he is, pursues the Amalekites, with the help of one of them left behind because he was sick. Given food and drink and promised safety he helps David find the Amalekites. And find them they do, celebrating their successful raids. David kills them all, except 400 young men who escape on camels, and he recovers everything that was taken, including two of his wives.
Well now there is some kind of justice, a kind that even to this day results in those 400 escaped young men growing up to return to exact justice on David and his people, and then David and his warriors will …. round and round and round goes the violence until there are not enough people to continue it.
We do not hope for such justice. We want truth to be told and known, and for God to win converts from among those who have done such terrible injustices so easily that one is sure they do it regularly to many, many innocent people. To wait is difficult. To hope for so long when it only gets worse is difficult. They are still out to get us, but paranoia gets nothing good of each day.
So we know the disciples’ prayer very well: Lord, increase our faith!
I will establish my covenant with you, and you shall know that I am the Lord, in order that you may remember and be confounded, and never open your mouth again because of your shame, when I forgive you all that you have done, says the Lord God.
2 Corinthians 7:10
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation and brings no regret, but worldly grief produces death.
Words of Grace For Today
God establishes a covenant with us, since ages ago.
God does this so that we may remember all our sins, and then be confounded and shamed into silence, awestruck at what God does for us, forgiving us all our sins.
Does God forgive us our attack on the planet which is responding with extreme weather, in a phrase climate change?
There are numerous people caught in worldly grief for all that we now suffer across the angry planet as a result of our huge contributions to climate change. It does no good. It brings us close to, and into death.
What God provides is a reminder of our true sins, true repentance, and all sorts of ways to change what lays ahead of us in the next decade, in the next half century and all time after (if we survive as a species that long!) God’s promises are trustworthy; those baptized will see their salvation, and be welcomed home to new life after leaving this life on this planet. Salvation is not the question. Our species survival as well as the survival of life on earth are very much in question.
So what shall we do this day?
We shall pray for the Holy Spirit to continue to guide us that what we do will be according to God’s will and love for all people and all creation.
We shall get busy listening to the Holy Spirit, doing what we can to reduce if not remove our carbon footprint from our lives on this good earth, and bringing God’s mercy, love and hope to other people … so that more and more people will listen
Psalm 119:114 You are my hiding-place and my shield; I hope in your word.
Matthew 8:8 The centurion answered, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only speak the word, and my servant will be healed.’
Words of Grace For Today Can we hope at all?
This from the CBC MorningBrief Newsletter yesterday:
Europe is living in a disaster movie. Unprecedented temperatures — 47 C in Portugal over the weekend; nearly 40 C in parts of Britain on Monday — have killed 1,000 people. Roads in France are under threat of literally melting. Rail lines are in danger of buckling. Runways at airports are forced to shut down. Wildfires are spreading across several countries as thousands evacuate their homes. ‘In some southwestern areas, it will be a heat apocalypse,’ meteorologist Francois Gourand told the news agency AFP about the heat wave in France. At one time, this may have sounded like hyperbole, but the fact is every year countries around the world break long-standing temperature records — as was seen in B.C. last year — and then thousands die. All of this should come as a shock to no one. Climatologists have been sounding the alarm for decades, warning of the increasing frequency and intensity of heat waves and droughts. When asked if this type of heat wave comes as a surprise to him, climatologist Michael Mann said in an email: ‘Sadly, not. We have seen a recurring pattern of a very wavy jet stream this summer. That pattern is associated with the extreme events we’re seeing right now in the U.S. and Europe.’ When the first Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released in 1990, it addressed the potential increase in heat waves, stating: ‘Some scientists believe that in a warmer climate the earth can be expected to experience more variable weather than now, with a likelihood of more floods and drought, more intense hurricanes or typhoons, and more heat waves.’ There have been four more assessment reports since then, with the language growing stronger and stronger about how the world needs to limit warming to 1.5 C above the pre-industrial average or it will face dire consequences. But those reports aren’t just talking about the future — at roughly 1.2 C of warming right now, we’re already seeing the effects of climate change, particularly in the summer months. The worst part, Mann said, is that climatologists may have underestimated the long-term predictions of heat waves.
Lordy, Lordy, what have we done!!?
It is one thing to hope in God’s Word, and hide under the shield of God, and to call on Jesus to but speak a word and we will be healed, but …
but we’re not listening! We have not worked to change. We have barely begun to speak correctly, sort of acknowledging what we’ve done. It’s harder and harder to find reasonable people who deny that climate change is a result of our own actions as humans on earth … and still it is not impossible to find those crooked-thinker (Querdenkers) in one’s own backyard.
Actually it’s real easy to find those people in my ‘backyard’ since they congregate here for relief from the heat and burn their gratuitous campfires all evening and night, and run their generators for hours and hours each day to supply electricity to their air conditioners, TV’s, microwaves, and who knows what else?
We complain mightily when it climbs above 25⁰ or 30⁰ or heaven helps us 35⁰ during the day and stays above 15⁰ at night. We are hard pressed to find our comfort. Oh, man save us we cry if it gets above 40⁰ and stays there for a few days! Here we are next to a cool lake. What are people able to do in the concrete-paved-over-barely-green-anywhere-tall-buildings cities?
Lordy, Lordy, what have we done!!?
So we cry: Oh, God, can you even save us? Save us now if you can!! Listen though! God has for decades sent us word, word about how we are bringing climate change with it’s new extremes and more ferocious storms each year and how we can stop it. God has sent us clear warning in the past five years of obvious, undeniable new extremes and extreme weather to warn us to stop our CO emissions (along with lots of other fossil-fueled-industrial activities.)
How many of us have really listened and then acted to change our lives? Well now it’s changing our lives, and not for the better. Will we start to change in good ways?
History repeats the answer to that question asked of every generation, ‘What? We don’t understand, so no.’
God help us!
God help us this day to do everything we can to learn what we must do to do our part!