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.
Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers and read it; then Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord and spread it before the Lord. And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said: ‘O Lord the God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, you are God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; hear the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God.
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
Words of Grace For Today
Sennacherib sends Hezekiah, King of Judah, a threat, that Judah will be conquered and her God will be forgotten in time like so many others already are forgotten. Hezekiah turns to Isaiah, and then he turns to God in prayer. We know how that history turns out. Judah falls but not to Assyria. Sennacherib is defeated and returns to Assyria to be killed in his own land. Judah is spared. But other more powerful foreign powers will come and Judah will fall.
The question is not if, but only when.
It is as with death. The question is not if we will die. It is when.
The more significant question is how.
I suppose how one will die is somewhat interesting or distressing. The much more significant question is, since we’ve once again acknowledged that we will all die, how will we live!? And it starts this day. How will we live this day?
Last evening a man advocated on the radio in an interview for terminally ill people to have psychedelic drugs made available to them. His argument was emphatic. Diagnosed with stage four cancer he claimed that the existential stress was debilitating. While other treatments dulled his anxiety they also dulled all his positive emotions, and assisted dying was a bit too final for him. Psychedelic drugs made it possible for him to enjoy his life with his family in the time he had left.
You know, maybe, just maybe, it’s the answer. But the argument is specious. Every human at birth faces inevitable death. What was this man doing the rest of his life to prepare himself for the inevitable coming of death. Why was this existential stress too much for him to bear? Why? Why? Why?
Today, since we know we are going to die, if we have not already, then it’s time to get ready to die. And when we’ve faced that inevitable end, we will be ready to start living, however life develops for us. No matter what comes our way we will be ready to live, to live well, and to live grateful for all we can enjoy. Psychedelic drugs are not needed, are they really, to live hiding from the reality of life. And who says they dull just the negative stressors. They create fake positives as well. They are by definition mind altering. What’s the matter with the facing the reality God provides for us, the actual life with all it’s joys and pains and …. all of it.
Prayer or drugs.
Which do we choose as our way of facing reality? (Drugs really are not ‘facing’ reality, but escaping reality, but they are still many people’s choice. Whowoodathunk?)
Small things make the difference each day, like flowers in bloom, or fresh strawberries from the food bank. Not something I can normally afford or the expected fare at the food bank, and extraordinary wonderful just because life is so.
So drugs …
prayer, blossoms, berries and wonder.
Every day we make choices. Every day God renews life through forgiveness and love. What will we make of it.
I keep the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
To this day I have had help from God, and so I stand here, testifying to both small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would take place: ….
Words of Grace For Today
It is like us humans, to say that we keep God ….
Knowing that we keep God always before us should give us little comfort, for what we do can be changed in an instant, and then God would no longer be our right hand, and we would be moved, and moved so far the universe would appear to have disappeared to be replaced by something entirely different and unimaginable.
Thank God, it is not so for us.
God keeps God always before us, and therefore God is always at our right hand (and in our minds, in our spirits, and in our hands and feet … and everywhere else – and we cannot change any of that!) We shall not be moved except by God’s choosing to move us or allow us to move, or by allowing others to move us (for good or evil.)
There is great comfort in knowing that what one proclaims is what the saints in light through the generations have proclaimed: God is steadfast in love and mercy for us, whatever comes at us, and since the beginning of time God has planned that Jesus would be born to demonstrate to us God’s steadfast love and mercy, and not just to us but to demonstrate to all people. And God’s love and mercy are not just steadfast for us, but also for all people, especially the worst sinners. (We worst sinners make God’s demonstration of love and mercy all that more obvious to even the thick-headed, hard-hearted, and dark spirited people.
Ours is therefore a life of celebrating with gratitude all that God does for us, even in the midst of the worst our enemies can throw at us. We also get to celebrate what God does for our enemies who would kills us or have us killed: God provides steadfast love and mercy, and if they refuse God’s work for and in them, then God’s justice and judgment will prevail for them. That will be a loss in God’s Kingdom, but it is what will be.
So we stand to proclaim what the prophets and Moses said would take place, the work of God in Jesus (born, ministering and healing, harassed, falsely accused, arrested, convicted, tortured, and killed … and risen back to life) to demonstrate God’s will to save us all.
And we shall not be moved, not by any lie or attempt to bring us to our deaths.
Today, it’s just another day, doing God’s work … as best we can, assured that God keeps God with us, no matter what comes our way, bringing us to celebrate with thanks all things good and wonderful.
They shall never again defile themselves with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. I will save them from all the apostasies into which they have fallen, and will cleanse them. Then they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
1 Corinthians 3:16
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
Words of Grace For Today
There are innumerable examples of how we have perverted life into something that is a zero-sum game, and we’ve taken it for all we can, mostly from others, as if that were our right. Some have perverted the image they have of themselves into an image of a godlet, and excluded God from their lives (as if that were possible anyway.) Others have turned themselves to pursue [fill in any thing, or pleasure, or position, or wealth, or … ] as if attaining enough of it would fill their lives, and all sorts of perverse things happen to them and the people around them because of their pursuits.
God simply created us with freewill, and we make a mess of it, a terrible mess of it, we certainly do, we do.
God does not leave us there, in the damnable places and conditions we create for ourselves. God comes, as demonstrated in Jesus’ story, to cleanse us, and to restore us as God’s people … so that we once again can be people who fear and love God above all else. We see again that God is with us always, that God has poured God’s Spirit into us, made us vessels that hold the holy of holies, so that we can be and do God’s generous, unconditional, love and grace for all people.
You, and I, and each person, are/am/is a holy temple; and our treatment of ourselves and of others as holy is properly warranted.
God don’t make no junk.
God just makes all things blessed, and us, God made holy.