Enemies — Love

June 2, 2019 Be One: Love your enemies Easter 7
The story setup

Nice Ice Left Over
In the movie, the Hostiles, set in 1892 starting from New Mexico a small band of soldiers and their charges, their enemies, ride across the wilds of the west north to Montana.
In 1876, just 14 years earlier General Custer made his last stand in the Battle of the Greasy Grass. Before and after that battle both the army and the Indians, (or indigenous warriors we might better refer to them now) engaged in warfare as despicable as ever. Soldiers, non-combatants, women and children were captured, raped, tortured, and killed without reason.
The captain in charge of this little band moving north had lost his wife and children to the Indians, learned their languages, joined the fighting against the Indians, killed, slaughtered and revenged death upon death. He lived out his hate under the auspices of the army and he did it better than most.
Arriving at a fort in New Mexico with captured Indians, he receives new orders. Orders he cannot stomach.
The captain is ordered to escort and protect his enemy, a chief, along with his family, who’ve been held captive 7 years in New Mexico, back to the chief’s home ground in Montana. There the captain is ordered to release his enemy, to give the chief back his freedom.
This chief is responsible for the death of the captain’s family. He has engaged in slaughtering settlers, among them women and children, as well as scalping and torturing his victims. He has revenged the killing of his people as effectively as the captain.
The captain can hardly believe his orders. He rebels and refuses, threatening to resign his commission. Then it’s pointed out that he will not be allowed to resign. Instead he will be courtmarshalled and stripped of his pension. At that, against every angry bone in his body, the captain begrudgingly accepts his orders.
He obeys.
As they ride across the wilds of the west north to Montana the captain puts his male prisoners, the chief and his son, in chains. The chief is old and riddled with cancer. He will soon die, which is the reason his request to be allowed to return home is granted.

The view south as we move north
Similar stories nonfiction setup
There are so many stories like this one. The movie is fiction. But is a fictional story filled with truth. There are so many non-fiction stories like this one.
M&B Mizen
In May 2008 16 year old Jimmy Mizen from South London was brutally attacked and killed by another boy. His parents could hardly believe it.
Gee Walker
In 2005 by two racist thugs torturously murder Anthony Walker, 18, with an axe. His parents could not believe it.

It may seem ordinary but …
Bishop Pierre-Marie Théas
In 1944 one evening in German occupied France, Bishop Pierre-Marie Théas preached a fiery sermon against the persecution of Jews and deportation of French men as forced labourers. The following night he was arrested by the Gestapo. He was sent to a detention camp at Compiègne from where most prisoners were transported to concentration camps in Germany.
The normal course:
There is no life lived without being hurt by others. Our normal and natural response, built into us by millennia of survival instinct, is to allow hurt to grow into anger, and terrible hurt to grow past anger into rage. Over time, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, we instinctually allow anger and rage to grow into determined revenge. Revenge may become polite comeback. But, fuelled by hatred, our anger becomes vicious payback, just reckoning, and even, in the extreme, murder or even mass murder.
We find polite comebacks and even vicious payback short of killing to be somehow expected and acceptable.

Stand Tall in the Dark
God’s Doch
To that acceptance God says a strong DOCH! But let me put that in a context that will perhaps help us understand exactly what God does with our natural urge towards revenge, polite or vicious, or even outrageous.
Intro to Doch
As we celebrate the last Sunday in Easter we remember that on Easter, God changed everything. On Easter God undid the laws of causality and set all of us free: God took death and turned it to life; God took despair and turned it into hope; God took the emptiness of consuming and turned us to value each tiny piece of creation. God took everything that breaks us, dosed it in Light and made it into a salve of holy healing which makes us stronger, more compassionate, and more loving than we were before.
In the words of Rev. Dr. Anna Madsen, who presented Grace to us at the Study Conference in Canmore a few years ago, God took the world God created good, which we broke bit by bit and said “Doch!”
Now if you – like me – don’t know German we need a translation or really an explanation of Doch. Doch, D O C H, has different degrees of intensity.
Doch can mean simply ‘Not so’: If I say: “His shirts are wrinkled” and you respond “Doch, he ironed them.” It’s just a few degrees different.
Or Doch can be a voracious protest against what is previously stated. It’s a change of many degrees.
When a person suffering alone from mental illness cries out in fear of what will come, We say “Doch! We will learn to stand with them, to give people with mental illness what they need to be able to stand tall and function well and live among us!”
Or taken to the extreme, Doch can mark a change in the universe. It can be God turning us or the world around 180 degrees.
God created the world good, but we broke it, which could be the end of our story! But God says “Doch, Doch, Doch! My Son, Jesus redeems the world.”
God constantly changes our paths, by just a degree or by 180 degrees and we end up in completely different places. God’s doch shepherds us.
Most people grow up and find their way into a vocation, a career, a job or series of jobs; Doch the prophets, in other words all of us children of God, are called even before we leave the womb to the task of proclaiming God’s Good News with our choices, actions, and lives.
This job is not easy or safe, DOCH, God calls us to turn as many degrees as it takes to challenge the throngs of people that have turned away and call them back to God … as many degrees as it takes. It can be dangerous work, fraught with risks.
Aber (Ahh Bear) Doch, We, the people of God, will not live afraid of what can be done to us, for God is with us.

The View is wide and wild
Emotions not to control, but motivate us
There is too much hurt in every single life. Now we cannot stop an emotion. Try to just stuff it down and it’ll just go somewhere crazy on us.
But we can choose what to do with any and every emotion that comes our way. We can let it run loose and effect our words and actions OR we can choose to align our choices and actions with our priorities and goals in life. Since our No 1 Priority is to be and do the Good News, then we soon learn, often the hard way, that letting loose with even a bit of revenge, yet alone with outrageous vengeance, and being the Gospel to other people are mutually exclusive.
Most emotions own us for about 90 seconds. Our feelings should not be stopped. But we don’t have to hang on to them for even hours yet alone weeks or years. Furthermore raw action should never erupt out of our emotions. DOCH. Our actions should always be a choice of our heart and mind and body, so that we live according to the goals God calls us from the womb to strive toward. Emotions, carefully chosen, can motivate us towards God’s calling for us.

Emotions seem to loom over us, but we can choose how to respond

Themes all Easter
In today’s Gospel Jesus prays, “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.” Last week we heard an earlier part of Jesus’ prayer put it more simply. We are to love one another as Jesus loved us, so that by our love the world will know us as Jesus’ disciples.
Story of Paul and Silas
In the first lesson for today, Paul and Silas heal a young girl who was possessed by a demon. The owners, who were making money with the demon’s ability to tell the future, have them arrested, flogged, and imprisoned.
An earth quake hits the city as they sing and pray. The doors are broken open and the chains unfastened. Instead of escaping, Paul and Silas urge all the prisoners to stay put, thus saving the life of the jailor. That jailor is so impressed with the unusual manner that his life is saved that he believes the Gospel that Paul and Silas proclaim. He and his household are baptized.

A view through a grid; Still Christ’s Light Shines Golden

God’s Doch
God’s constant DOCH is ‘at all costs, love even your enemy.’

Story resolution
In the movie the Hostiles, as they ride across the wilds of the west to Montana the captain encounters God’s Doch.
As they stop where the chief has returned home and will breathe his last breath in the wild mountains of Montana, the captain says that, though they have each fought against the other, and each has lost so many friends to the other, when the chief dies a piece of the captain will die with him.
In obeying the orders he cannot stomach, the captain eventually gives his enemy his last breath in freedom at home, no longer as an enemy, but as a friend.
The captain recognizes the gift of life, even in his enemy, as they ride across the wilds of the west to Montana.

In the wild … there is the Light

What about us?
As we encounter the terrible ravages of evil that leaves us so wanting for life, can we recognize the gifts of God even in our enemies?
Can we give them life at their last breaths, as friends, because God has made us, all of us, while yet sinners, children of God?

Similar stories nonfiction resolutions
In the real life of so many people, this is exactly what they chose.
Gee Walker
After Anthony Walker’s murderers were sentenced Gee Walker, his mother, said: “I cannot hate. I have to forgive them. … Their minds must be very tortured. … Hate is what killed Anthony.”

No Matter, Let the Light Shine

M&B Mizen
After her 16 year old son was killed, Jimmy Mizen’s mother Margaret said “I just want to say to the parents of this other boy, I want to say I feel so, so sorry for them. I don’t feel anger, I feel sorry for the parents. We have so many lovely memories of Jimmy and they will just have such sorrow about their son. I feel for them, I really do…. People keep asking me why I am not angry but I say …There is too much anger in the world…. it was anger that killed my son. If I was angry I would be the same as this boy.”
On the first anniversary of his murder Jimmy’s father said, “today, for us, was a message of peace, a message of change that we have been gradually working towards over [a] year. … This affects everybody. If somebody is killed in your local park or in your local shop, then this affects you. We didn’t just get here overnight…. If the will … is for it [here and now], we can change.”
Bishop Pierre-Marie Théas
Bishop Théas was imprisoned for ten weeks with Protestants, Jews, non-believers, trade unionists, young resistance workers, and French officers. When some prisoners asked for a day retreat he preached about forgiveness, and suggested they should pray for their captors. This provoked outrage. Théas replied, “My friends, I cannot proclaim anything except what the Lord said: Love your enemies. No more, no less.”

The extreme story, resolution
Cartier and Nixon
When former Vice-President Hubert Humphrey died hundreds of people from across the world attended his funeral. All were welcome, but one – former President Richard Nixon, who had recently dragged himself and his country through the humiliation and shame of Watergate. Eyes turned away and conversations ran dry around him. He was being shunned and ostracized.
Then the current president Jimmy Carter walked into the room. President Carter, not of Nixon’s party and well known for his honesty and integrity, moved toward his seat, until he noticed Richard Nixon standing all alone. Carter changed course, walked over to Richard Nixon, held out his hand, and smiling genuinely and broadly embraced Nixon and said “Welcome home, Mr President! Welcome home!”
Newsweek magazine reported the incident including the words, “If there was a turning point in Nixon’s long ordeal in the wilderness, it was that moment and that gesture of love and compassion.”
Source: Reported in Maxie Dunnam, The Workbook on Living as a Christian, pp.112-113

Whatever comes our way, God’s Light will shine!

Martin Luther King dared to suggest that Blacks should have the same civil rights as other Americans. For all he stood for King received death threat after death threat, he was maliciously accused of being a communist, his house had been bombed, and he was jailed over 20 times. Yet in his essay, Loving Your Enemies, he wrote:
“To our most bitter opponents we say: ‘We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory.’”
https://storiesforpreaching.com/category/sermonillustrations/love-for-enemies/ and

Jesus says to us, love one another as I have loved you. Love even your enemies.
Following Jesus as his disciples is complicated, challenging and sometimes calls us to things we can hardly stomach. But still through words from each other and in so many other ways the Holy Spirit guides us to see Christ loving even our enemies, as we journey through the wilds of our lives, even when our greatest enemy is ourselves.

Whatever, However, Whenever God embraces us, even when we are our own enemies the Light still shines beautifully for us.


Late Notes to 26 May Sermon

apologies that there is not a finished sermon for this week, not yet.

The computer that I usually use has decided to run so slowly as to make it nearly unusable, and an OS upgrade was needed. That brought everything else to a stand still, at least as far as writing goes.

Setting up and taking down my home on crown land had to happen on schedule. There is no forgiveness, just eviction, if I am even one day late getting out, and huge costs if I am not back in as soon as possible.

But that computer is barely running, with no real connection to the internet, yet.

The sermon is about including women as disciples.

The sermon is about healing illnesses, even those that have gone on forever, but not waiting even one day (until the Sabath is done) to heal the illness … enough suffering is enough!

The sermon is about healing the nations: the vision of the New Jerusalem gives John a view that the leaves of the 12 trees, which produce fruit (ie. that’s the 12 tribes of Israel, or all of Israel, or all of God’s people) … the fruit is good, but the leaves are even more important.

The leaves heal the nations.

Which is really the connection point that I wanted to use to ask:

What is it to heal?

To heal an illness?

To get to that then to ask first: what is it to fix something?

A broken bicycle, a broken window, a broken whatever (so say now, what is it to fix a broken computer!)

Then by comparison and for clarity: what is it to heal?

Take a hip replacement for example. The surgeon does not heal anything. She cuts open the leg, saws out the bone of the hip, replaces it with specialize pieces of special metal, and sews up the muscle and tissue. (maybe I could research it, or ask this special retired nurse I know, my mother, who at 80 some has recently had a hip replaced, and I would know more of the details, but his will suffice : it’s cutting, taking out, putting together, and sewing up.

Then comes the rehabilitation and the healing and the pain and the stiffness and heartache, and hip ache … which is still better than it was before.

Except sometimes it does not feel any better, and is actually worse, like one man I visited in the hospital after hip surgery. His never got better, until they opened up his hip again with cutting and slicing … to take out the forceps and sponge gauge that somehow was left in the wound.

His healing took years, first for the ability to walk, but it took longer for his ability to walk without feeling the ghost pain of that forceps digging into his muscles and that gauze, infected eating at his flesh.

Healing is a deeper, more profound event or process, that the organism itself accomplishes. Outside interference is just that, interference.

The next question moves on to the healing of the nations. That’s not just a quick fix, like sewing a broken shoulder strap with camping think waxed cord. It is a very complex event, one that usually bucks all rules, regulations and expectations.

There is another story that will taken much longer to write out to be shared. That story is a kind of “If Beale Street Could Talk?” kind of event

But I am sure that the reader could probably add there own stories of healing.

Mine is of being in a foreign country, biking everywhere, and coming down with a cold. I could hardly shake. Then the sponsors of my full scholarship to study abroad gave me good tickets to a concert downtown, a string quintet.

Mozart and other composers gave witness to the rightness of the universe.

I biked back up the hill to the Studenentheim, free of the cold.

Healing is a spiritual event. It is finding the spirit to allow the body to heal.

What would the man, ill for more than 38 years smell like, dream like hope like… be like, after he was free of the illness?

That’s us: ill for so long, needing help to heal. And we receive it, What do we do with it?

if it is healing of the nations, then we help others heal, until the whole creation sings in praise of what God has done for us.

At least that what collected for me around the desire thwarted to have a sermon ready before today. Somehow that just seems a bit

Happy Birthday

Today is my x’s xth birthday, since the photos are too large to email, I’ve posted the greeting and photos here, for x and for all to enjoy.

Photos made especially to celebrate a good birthday, when I cannot be there in person to celebrate with everyone.


is full of

opportunities and pathways.

Some of the best moments are available to us when we take time to notice the small, less traveled side roads.

Whether you find those moments or not the golden blessing of Christ’s light will always be there for you, long after the sun has set on any times of your life.

The water of life is yours, in great quantities.

and also sprinkled drop by drop where beauty transforms life from mundane to precious.

When one does not notice those moments there are still the telltale signs of blessings left behind.

Life will bring many great things your way, some will grow and die; always there will be something new beginning, promising great things for your future.

Enjoy all the blessings of each day, especially this day as you are celebrated.

26 May Easter 6

First Thoughts

Theme for ALL

“Love one another, even as I have loved you.”

The lens for all else in this Easter.

May 26, 2019 For Women, too. Easter 6

Having chosen to use the Alternative Gospel from John:

Jesus’ Story and Love, contrary to common practice, included Women.

And Jesus Love Heals; thus we heal one another.

Acts 16:9-15 – Lydia

Acts Thoughts

A women, if you judge me to be faithful, come and stay with me. Response of faith: to provide what is needed: hospitality for travellers, for homeless. Now common? Enough, but in those days, accepting a woman as one of the disciples was a rare act of equality.

No matter our traditions, our culture norms, our expectations; Jesus love reaches all people.

And we are to love as Jesus loves us,

We are to love those whom our tradition excludes from consideration.

Psalm 67 – Let all stand in Awe!

Revelation 21:10, 22–22:5

The city, no more night, only goodness

For the healing of the nations

Revelation Thoughts

In the New Jerusalem, in the City of God, An exclusion: no unclean, only those written in the Book of Life

there no other light needed than the Light of God, no night, no darkness, no abominations, nothing unclean.

[All chaff will have already been burned away.]

The tree produces fruits and leaves, the leaves are for the healing of the nations.

Gospel (alt.): John 5:1-9 Heal one another

as Jesus healed even on the Sabbath

Gospel Thoughts

Our travails last and last: this man’s for 38! years!

And all during that time no one has helped him.

Then in a heartbeat Jesus heals him, even though it is the Sabbath.

Love acts to restore health without regard for expectations and artificial limits (which do not provide health in following them.)

Love one another as Jesus Loves us means HEAL one another, even if the stink of rot has surrounded the illness or circumstance of sin for decades, for generations even!

Home, of Sorts

This Spring …

This is the neighbourhood of Home

All views taken one at a time

giving an accurate account

of beauty in a nutshell,

a life well lived,

of wonderful solitude

which has broken on the May long weekend

with a rather full camping area,

with only a few that do not show

fellow campers and the land the respect due.

Today it is so dry there is a province wide fire ban in place

Though this is the first

as yesteryear’s extreme’s become

today’s normal, and

today’s new extremes become

tomorrow’s normal.

Hang on!

It’s going to be a rough ride for the next 50 years!

First Break in Nice (Thick) Ice

Back when the ice was just breaking up, the reflection of light and cloud make the water and shore jump.

Birch White Goldenized

The Birch Show Their Colours Well

Mud Mirrors

Even the huge puddles of spring mud and snow melt pick up the the light of the sky behind the trees’ reflections.

Spring Moon Rises at Sunset

The moon ascends into the evening sky, brilliant white against the gold and blue of sunset.

Predawn Moon Going Down

Just days later the moon settles in the west as the dawn touches the east.

Sunrise Moon Setting

And settles closer to the water as the early morning breaks.

Open Cold Water

Waves and White Water return as the wind churns up the lake touched still with small patches of snow and ice.

Surviving Rodents

The few brush left with partial birch trunks, long since food for the beaver who keep the lake level high, stand out in the gold light at sunset.

Sol Plays with Aqua

The water and the setting sun play with each other in familiar yet newly wonderful manners almost each night.

Ugly becomes Gorgeous

Even the junk, abandoned, and starting to be trashed camper cannot help but shine with the immense wonders of the setting sun.

My favourite of late

The reaching thirsty trees along the shore silhouette wonderfully against the blues and oranges of the sun set reflecting remnants of light on the water.

Easter 5 – 2019 May 19

Jesus’ Story for ALL, Even Gentiles, Rulers


God, who is the Alpha and Omega, says to John: “To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”

Water Alive with Light

Peter Bold and Humble; Attentive

In today’s first lesson we hear again how Peter is a leader in the church, so capable, so vulnerable, and so attentive to the Holy Spirit guiding him. Peter explains, step by step how and why he has gone to non-Jews, and accepted them as followers of Jesus.

Today’s Gospel comes from John 13, which starts with the last super. Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, Peter resists, Jesus says this is part of being Jesus’ follower, and Peter follows. Jesus sends Judas out to betray him, which Jesus says is necessary; God will be glorified in the cross.

Then comes today’s Gospel selection which includes Jesus’ central command, chosen as the theme for our Easter celebrations: that we are to love one another as Jesus loves. By this love we will be known as Jesus’ followers. To this command Peter responds that he will always follow … except Jesus says Peter will deny him three times before the cock crows.

Peter is so confident, yet his failures are so glorious. Peter is so capable; he brings Dorcas back to life. Yet the Holy Spirit needs to change Peter’s direction, with visions and wisdom.


God says, “To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.”

Jesus, with his washing the disciple’s feet, and Peter, in his enthusiastic and misguided yet attentive following, demonstrate that in humble service and in humbling ourselves we receive the water of life.

New Jerusalem:

In our lesson from Revelation we hear that the New Jerusalem continually comes down to earth in our midst. God dwells with all his peoples. That’s plural. God dwells not just with one group, one people, but with all his peoples.

In the Lord’s Prayer we pray that God’s Kingdom will come. Luther explained in his Small Catechism that God’s Kingdom will come no matter what, but we pray that it will come to us, in our midst, and through us.

The old has passed away. The New Jerusalem is the city of Peace, where there is no more crying, no more tears, the old tears will be wiped away. We pray that our eyes will be open so that we can see the signs of the New Jerusalem coming down, in our midst.

For Peter that meant that Jesus’ love, which they exercised for one another, did not stop with their small Jewish group. God intends that their and our group, our ‘one another,’ includes all those we have previously excluded.

God sent Peter a sign, that the Gentiles he is called to visit in the Roman city of Caesarea were ‘baptized’ with the HS as were the disciples. This comes after God gives Peter a vision that what God creates is not unclean. Rather all creation is sacred, though mundane. There are no boundaries to God’s love and Jesus’ command is not limited by our definitions of who we are, and who is not us.


All are included in this God’s promise:

To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. In sacred visions Jesus surprises us showing us to whom God gives the water of life.

Whom do we Exclude, Whom God Includes

In 1981 Henri Nowen came to Yale for a few weeks, played volley ball with the new arriving students at the seminary, and ate in the cafeteria. He received students and staff for less than a few minutes each to dispense spiritual guidance to thirsty souls.

Nowen was a Dutch priest, professor, writer and theologian with interests rooted primarily in psychology, pastoral ministry, spirituality, social justice and community. He knew and shared well that the Holy Spirit finds us in our greatest vulnerabilities, and uses them to demonstrate God’s love, grace, and purpose for us. In his book the Wounded Healer Nowen countered the popular notion that God wants strong, clean, and perfect people to lead the Church of Christ. Rather God uses us as we are, imperfect and wounded.

Nowen knew well, as a popular writer and mentor, that his own soul was thirsty. He went to S. America to live with people of no privilege suffering great persecution. Yet he only first found God’s peace when, after meeting Jean Vanier, Nowen became a member of the L’Arche Daybreak community in Richmond Hill ON. Paired with Adam Arnett, a man with profound development disabilities, Nowen insisted, “It is I, not Adam, who gets the main benefit from our friendship.”

The founder of L’Arche, Jean Vanier, died May 7 2019. We were reminded of how Vanier inspired so many people to include people with disabilities of all kinds in those we love, not just for their sake, but for the sake of our thirsty souls.

Jean Vanier was born into a family of Canadian diplomats and public servants. He expected to similarly serve and he started on a career as a naval officer. Then led by the Holy Spirit, his life took a different turn.

He was ordained as a priest. While working on his PhD in France, he volunteered to help his mentor work with institutionalized mentally challenged men.

There Vanier met two men and realized what they needed most from him was for him to be a friend. He invited the two men to leave the institution where they resided and live with him. Thus was born L ’Arche, which became an international organization of communities that match helpers with mentally challenged people to the benefit of everyone. Vanier taught so many people that those with disabilities do not burden us with their need for care. Rather they help us recover our humanity, giving us water for our thirsty souls.


God says: To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Jesus sends the most vulnerable and furthest outcast to teach us, what the living water is, and how to receive it and to share it with one another.

Who is thirsty b/c we exclude

Who are the thirsty? Who in our cities, villages, and communities, because we have excluded them, are thirsty, needing the water of life?

What are we going to do about it?

Will We Go Out Into the Dark and Bring Christ’s Welcome?

Regularly we pray powerful words: “Your will be done on earth as in heaven.” As Luther reminded us in the Small Catechism, God’s good and gracious will comes about without our prayers, but we ask that it may also come about in and among us.

So we pray first, that we will recognize how Jesus includes us, when we are not worthy; that we will recognize that in our humility and vulnerability the grace of God is most visible; that we will recognize that on our brokenness Jesus builds the Body of Christ. For Christ marks us broken people not only as worthy, but also as chosen, chosen to love one another.

We then pray: that we will recognize who we exclude and leave thirsty; that we will change allowing the New Jerusalem to arrive through us for them; that we will give them living water, wash their dusty feet, stoop to give them the necessities of life, listen to them and learn from them the basics of humanity, that we will allow them to give us water for our thirsty souls.

And we also pray: that we will realize that God is glorified in our mundane service, in our being vulnerable to the messy mundane needs of the excluded; and that in our lives of loving service to the most vulnerable outcasts, indeed to all of God’s creation, others will recognize us as Jesus’ disciples … and join us.

We give God thanks that we are so privileged to be the open-armed welcoming party to those we previously excluded.


God’s says: To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Jesus demonstrates that in humbling ourselves and in humble service we receive the water of life. The Holy Spirit surprises us with new visions of what the water of life is. God sends the most vulnerable and furthest outcast to teach us, what the living water is, and how to receive it and to share it.

The water from the spring of life showers down on us from the New Jerusalem descending into our midst, invigorating and inspiring us also here and now to be the disciples of Jesus, the one’s known by our love for all of God’s many peoples.


Love, Like the Good Shepherd

Knowing plainly Jesus’ words is rarely enough. Love is required.

Waffles for Jesus

Two hungry young boys sparred with each other while eating breakfast. Finally they got to the last waffle which they both wanted. Their fight almost got ugly before their mother stepped in:

She said to them, “Didn’t you learn in SS last week that Jesus taught us to share what we have?”

So the oldest boy said to his brother “Joey, you be Jesus!”

Powerful Love, Handle with Care

As we hear Jesus’ voice and follow him Jesus calls us to love one another, just as he has loved us. This love is powerful. It can give life. Peter exercises this love and it brings Dorcas back to life. Jesus promises that no one will snatch us away or that we will eternally perish.

But like Joey’s brother we can also turn this power of love just a few degrees, and it becomes something that destroys instead of giving life. This love should come with a warning label: Handle with Care!

Revelation code Great Ordeal

In our reading from Revelation we hear the code used then to keep people and the writings safe from the destruction readily handed out by Rome to Christians. The great ordeal is code for the persecution that cost many their lives before Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity in 312 AD.

Every generation faces it’s own great ordeal. Often the ordeal is not openly recognized, but it sits hidden in plain view like an elephant in the room.

Franz Lost

Franz stood looking at his boss in disbelief. Two weeks before his girlfriend had broken up with him, telling him he was a loser. He believed her because his big investment with all his savings had turned out to be a scam and he’d lost everything. Then he found out that his girlfriend had been seeing his best friend for at least a month and she had taken the money he’d given her to pay the rent. The fridge and cupboards were almost bare.

Then this morning his boss told him he was fired, even though he was good at his job. It was the last straw. He simply did not know what to do.

Shepherd of (dumb) Sheep

When we hear that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, we often forget what an insult it is to be compared to sheep. Sheep are just dumb.

Growing up on a farm with sheep, I watched as my brother showed me how dumb sheep can be. In the evening, herding them into the safety of the barn through a narrow door, my brother put a pitchfork handle a foot off the ground in front of the third sheep coming in through the door. She jumped over the handle as did all the rest of the 100 sheep, even though the handle was already removed after the tenth sheep was safely in the barn.

It is no accident that Jesus compares us to sheep, and that we need a Good Shepherd to guide us to what is important in life, and to save us from what robs life from us.

Franz’ Dark Plan


Unemployed Franz came up with a plan, a dark plan. He was done and no one would miss him. He went on to the group chat that he’d been on for a few years, to say good bye, that he was moving on. He could have just headed out on his last walk, but he remembered what Aaron had said.

Aaron’s Light

Aaron, as a young boy, had lived through a pogrom. His father was intent on not just feeding his family, but also on keeping the Sabbath, which always included the lighting of a candle. When their last candle was gone, the father used some of their meager ration of butter and a piece of string to make a candle. Aaron had said it was foolish to use precious food for a candle. His father replied, “Without food we can survive a week. Without faith we wouldn’t survive an hour.” ( SERMONSHOP, August 5, 2000, Bill Adams Trinity Episcopal, Sutter Creek, CA reworked TL).

When Aaron had greeted Franz, they were just strangers in the grocery store exchanging kind words. Then as Franz was paying at the checkout, Aaron came walking back into the store, to thank Franz, and to say good bye.

Aaron was moving to another city, but it was important to say good bye, anyway, as Aaron said so often, “It helps us remember the light of life.”

Moderator interrupts

Remembering Aaron’s words, Franz decided one last visit on-line would be the right way to say good bye. No one on line seemed to notice him saying good bye. Franz was ready to sign off when the moderator popped in and asked him to meet her in a private chat in a half hour. She had something she wanted to get his input on. So Franz waited with his last plan.

As we hear the Good Shepherd’s voice and follow him Jesus calls us to love one another, just as he has loved us.

Price of Love, a Mother’s Love: I’ll go with you.

Even when we seem to be totally lost, the Good Shepherd sends someone to save us, to feed us and give us living water, to protect us from the ravages of sin. The price Jesus paid is high. Sometimes when Jesus sends us to love one another with that love, the love of a mother, the price is just as high.

During the Holocaust the Nazis worked people in concentration camps until they could no longer work, before they executed them. A father and mother, among the many, were crowded in with their two children. The older had a deformed leg since birth. Every day, the mother and two children were taken to one work site and the father to another. One night the father returning to their wood bunk found only his one son. “What happened?” he asked. The surviving child said that his brother had collapsed, so the guards had ordered him to be taken away. He clung to his mother’s skirt, sobbing. She picked him up and, holding him close to her, said, “Don’t be afraid. I’ll go with you.” Mark Daniels, Do Not Worry!

The Watch, a day at a time

As we hear the Good Shepherd’s voice and follow him Jesus calls us to love one another, just as he has loved us. Our love can make all the difference in the world.

When the moderator met Franz in their private chat she said she needed Franz’s help with a project. Franz knew this kind of work inside out. He easily sorted the confused plan of the moderator into something workable.

Franz was about to summarize the modified plan to the moderator, when she had to sign off. She asked Franz if they could meet again tomorrow to finish the plans. The plans turned into some work for Franz, not much at first, but enough to pay for food and rent. Before long Franz was the project’s manager.

A year later the moderator told Franz that she had noticed he was in a dark place, and had kept a suicide watch on him. Franz was surprised that she’d seen through him, but he thanked her, and asked her how he could repay her. She said “pay it forward as she had”. She taught him everything she could about keeping a suicide watch on anyone who seemed to be at risk. It was a skill, she said, that had saved people in more than 5 generations before it saved her, and always people had paid it forward to others in need.

Franz still does not know the moderator’s real name or where she lives. But he knows she kept him alive through the valley of the shadow of death, and more. Against all odds she kept him from hunger, saved him from despair, and showed him how to give life to so many people around him.

As we hear the Good Shepherd’s voice and follow him Jesus calls us to love one another, just as he has loved us. Our love can save lives.

Against all Odds: Jake

In her book The Spark Kristine Barnett tells the story of her son Jake.

At age 2, Jake started to crawl into his shell, because he was autistic. Once this had been diagnosed, everyone predicted what was not possible including that in just a few years Jake would not speak or communicate at all.

Kristine simply would not believe it. She did everything she could to give Jake exactly what he was most interested in, not what others told her she should. Instead she did everything that she dared to do. It was a lonely, difficult, and unrewarding road for years. It seemed it would never end.

Then, at age 16, we see little Jake, a small boy for his age, standing and talking with the professor. Jake then joins one of the groups of college students working on the difficult problem the professor has given them. In his group Jake stands at the whiteboard and writes a bit and then, giving the other students leading questions, entices and invites them to understand what he sees clearly … in a multitude of ways.

Soon one and two students from the other groups come across to Jake’s board. Not too much later most of the students are there listening, eagerly absorbing what Jake offers to them, until first one, then another, and then most of them, nodding understanding, return to their own whiteboards to work through the problem before them.

Jake is one of the most brilliant minds of this century.

And we almost lost him completely.

As we hear the Good Shepherd’s voice and follow him Jesus calls us to love one another, just as he has loved us. Our love can give the world gifts it would otherwise never know.

The Light is Always There

Jesus Knows Us: Breath, be Bold.

Whatever the challenge is that we face, more important than us hearing, following and loving as Jesus does, is that Jesus knows us. Jesus the Good Shepherd will protect us, comfort us, guide us. Jesus knows us completely and still loves us. Then Jesus sends us out to be the voice, the hands, the feet, the rod and the staff of Our Good Shepherd to one another.


Prepping for the Good Shepherd

May 12, 2019 Good Shepherd
Easter 4

See Previous Post for Themes of Each Sunday in Easter

The one theme for this entire Easter:

Love one another as I have loved you. Jesus’ single command that encompasses everything else that is God’s story of love, encompassed in the life of Jesus, (so that we -finite creatures- can comprehend what God -infinite divinity- wants us to know.)

God’s Light Reflected to Us

Jesus is the Good Shepherd, We are called to love one another as Jesus love us:

We are to be Good Shepherds to one another

Acts 9:36-43


As Jesus is able to bring the young girl and Lazarus back from the dead, so Simon Peter is able to bring Dorcas, Tabitha, back to life after she dies!

Our love can be as life giving as Jesus’.

Handle with care!

Psalm 23


The needs for life, abundant life, of a sheep, (green pastures, still waters) the good Shepherd provides for us.

More: in the dark valley of the shadow of death (the greatest evil) I need not fear, the shepherd’s tools: rod and staff, comfort us.

Table along with my enemies! My cup runs over!

Goodness and mercy shall follow me all my days. I dwell eternally in God’s house.

Revelation 7:9-17


There are those who will survive the Great Ordeal, the silence of Beale Street in every generation. They will be gathered at Christ’s throne!

They will be washed white in the blood of the Lamb!

Shelter, food, water, no scorching by sun, but water of life, and tears wiped away!

John 10:22-30


We, like the Jews, want to know plainly, though Jesus has told and done enough. Like doubting Thomas we want to put our hands in Jesus’ side and feel the nail marks in his hand, but that is not enough. The HS must transform our hearts, teach us to know Jesus’ voice.

Voice and sheep and shepherds and gathering in and gathering to go out to green pastures and still waters.

They will never perish, die but not perish! No snatching, not from God. Jesus is God, one and three persons.

Outline Ideas

We want to know plainly, though Jesus has said and done enough, and there is no more that would help us.

Apologists, trying to argue the existence of God, futile. Every argument for or against God’s existence begins with a presumption that is equal to the conclusion of the argument.

HS transforming our hearts. The gift of faith, the growth of faith, the exercise of responding to faith.

Jesus the Good Shepherd, 23rd and repeated in Revelations:

provides life abundant

protects from destruction and all loss

We are to exercise that same love for one another

Peter brings Dorcas back to life, as Jesus did with talitha cum, and Lazarus.

Our love, as Jesus’ Love, is a life changing thing.

Warning Label Volatile Potential Handle with Care

Handle with Care Negative Potential:

as always, what can be so positively powerful, with a slight twist, a few degrees off from original, and there can be as much destruction as there could have been profound positive change.

Devil is so tempting, looks like Jesus the shepherd, just not.

Sin looks so tempting, looks like good life, it is not.

Handle with Care Positive Potential:

give life, but in the lack of exercise, leave people ‘dead’.

Stories needed of giving life (being the good shepherd for one another), of degrees of destroying life, of withholding means destruction.

Mother’s Day, possibly use stories as above, of mothers in action giving life?

Looking for the Light

Surprises and Visions

2019 May 05, Easter 3

Winston Churchill once said: “[People] occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as though nothing had happened.”

The Light of Christ is alarming, blinding, and demanding. Often we try to control what part of the Light, what part of Jesus’ story, what part of the awful freedom of forgiveness we acknowledge.

Other times we entirely deny the Love of Christ that shines a light into every darkness, exposing all our secrets and revealing every hidden truth. Instead we choose to slip back into the convenient darkness of our daily lives.

The Light of Christ Finds Us in Our Darkness.

Jesus does not give up on us. He keeps showing up to get our attention. Have you seen Jesus talking? Or God giving a lesson? Or have you seen the crimson blood of Christ wash the stain of sin away to leave a person fuller white bright? For 200 years no one in England reported that they had, and then came Julian of Norwich who we commemorate this week.

While the Black Plague, the Peasants Revolt, and the suppression of the Lollards devastated the English countryside, Julian lived a mystic’s life, profoundly assured of God’s care and love as few people in all of history.

In the face of so much evidence that death, raw evil, and sin had the world in its control, she famously quoted Jesus in her vision, “All will be well. All will be well. All manner of things will be well.”

These simple words have given a thin thread of powerful hope to people in the most desperate situations. Among others, I know that it helped a young mother of two teenagers, living in Germany, stay alive. She was struggling to stay sane after years of abuse by her husband, when he had secretly already started another family with a much younger woman.

Julian wrote “God is nearer to us than our own soul”. God sees us as perfect and waits for the day when evil and sin will no longer hinder us.

Throughout these 7 Easter Sundays we keep in mind Jesus’ command to “Love one another as I have loved you.” It will be part of the Gospel in two weeks and we know these words contain everything else in Jesus’ story.

In today’s readings we hear how Jesus continues to surprise people with visions of his love.

Jesus in a vision astounds Saul of Tarsus. A well educated Pharisee and righteous under the law for himself, Saul is dedicated to God. He stones and arrests followers of Jesus to cleanse the synagogues of them. Then the Light of Christ finds him. Saul has a vision of Jesus telling Saul he is persecuting Jesus himself. Blinded by the Light, Saul needs help from others to regain his sight. When he does Saul is baptized as Paul.

After 3 years of study Paul spreads Jesus’ story of the Love of God around the shores of the Mediterranean Sea as far as Rome itself. In Paul’s writings to his congregations to encourage their faith we have the earliest accounts of the Christian faith, which we receive, practice and proclaim today.

Our reading from the Book of the Revelation to John reminds us of what danger and persecution the early Christians faced. Any author, carrier, or reader of Words about faith in Jesus, if caught by the Romans, would be put to death. Difficult to produce and therefore very precious, the writings would also be destroyed.

To preserve the writings (and the people) the writing’s content was codified. The codes, colourful and out of this world, were popularly used by Christians but not understood by their Roman persecutors. Today we can estimate much but do not fully know their code. Revelation is the only one of these many writings accepted into the New Testament.

Written to inspire, comfort, and encourage faith in people who were mercilessly persecuted, Revelation has touched the hearts of desperate people through the generations and even today!

Seeing What Others May Overlook, a Mystic’s View.

Today Jesus still appears in visions to people, though perhaps as rare as in Julian of Norwich’s time. I personally know only one sacramental mystic to whom Jesus appears in the ordinary things of creation: in Light, in Truth and in Grace, in visions both troubling and comforting.

This mystic’s experience is quite like the disciples’, who, having encountered the awesome, fearful truth of Jesus’ death and resurrection, return to something familiar. They go fishing. Then Jesus appears, hardly recognizable, and asks them to fish on the other side of the boat. The results overwhelm the fishers and their nets, and open their eyes to who has spoken to them. Ashore he feeds them from their spectacular catch and with the bread of life. They leave the nets and resume Jesus’ ministry healing people with God’s love.

In the stories of the Fishers and of Paul, in stories codified to preserve them and in Julian’s visions and counsel, and in the words of mystics of all times, the constant in all of them is the brightly shining love of God.

This Love was exercised at great expense by Jesus for us, and by many who have gone before us and who handed on the faith to us.

Jesus’ love story is not a benign story, it is not a safe story, it is not an easy story to get right. It is always a story of how we are to love one another as Jesus loves us.

At age 60 James Mitchner, a man of grand words and acquaintance of powerful people everywhere, including many US presidents, told a story about the most influential person he ever met.

At 7 years old Jim was orphaned and sent to live with relatives. The couple was so poor both husband and wife worked seven days a week. That first weekend, with apologies, his foster parents set off to work leaving Jim alone. He was bored, bored stiff. He walked around the house. Nothing happened. So when he heard a truck coming down the alley just before noon, he went out on the back step. The truck stopped at each house until it stopped at his house. The driver got out with the truck running, emptied the garbage cans, got back into the truck, and drove on. That was the day’s greatest action.

The next Saturday, again Jim was just as alone, just as bored. Nothing was happening in the empty house. So just before noon he sat down on the back step to wait for the garbage truck. He waited and waited. Finally after an hour of waiting Jim heard the truck. It followed the same routine, stopping at each house until it stopped at his house. The driver got out with the truck running, emptied the garbage cans, got back into the truck and drove on. Lonely Jim was left to go back inside … to boredom.

The third Saturday, same story. Except the truck didn’t come. With nothing else to do Jim sat and sat, and waited. Finally about 3 o’clock he heard the truck. The truck kept the same routine, stopping last at his house at the end of the alley. The driver got out with the truck running, grabbed and emptied the garbage cans, and got back in the truck. But then the driver turned off the truck, walked through the gate and said,

“Hi, what’s your name.”

He answered, “I am Jim and I am lonely.”

“I have seen you for the last few weeks. I’ve thought of you each day and I am sorry I have not stopped.”

The garbage man sat and listened to Jim, not only that day, but each Saturday. James’ foster parents set out chairs for the garbage man and for Jim.

James Mitchner, a man of many words, acquaintance of most US presidents of his adult life, and of powerful people everywhere was most influenced by the garbage man who took the time to turn off his truck each Saturday from the time Jim was seven until he was seventeen.
(story told at Asset Build Workshop – Powell River)

God’s love story was lived out by a garbage man on Saturdays with a lonely child. What followed for James Mitchner was a life of military and civilian travel, adventure, and writing books that inspired a generation and more.

Christ’s Light will find us, shock us, blind us, turn us around, and make us into new people. Jesus’ love will send us into lives of real work filled with real excitement and challenges, even abundantly filled with real adventure, … if not in travels, then in learning, sharing, and bringing abundant life to others. The Light of Christ will repeatedly interrupt our work and dreams, guiding us onward, correcting and even reversing our courses, but always moving us towards loving one another with God’s love in all things.

The only question is what we are going to do with the brilliance of Christ’s Light, the Freedom of God’s Forgiveness, the comfort of the Spirit, the abundance Jesus helps us catch, and the abiding assurance that all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well?

What are we going to do in response to the Love that resurrected Jesus from the dead, and saves us each day?


The Son’s Light Never Sets, God’s Love Never Ends.

As We Gather…for this Sunday

Born in 1342 Julian of Norwich was a mystic, counsellor, and lay theologian. We commemorate her on May8th. We know little directly about her life, but what we know leaves us to think she was married, lost her husband and children to perhaps the plague. We do know she became sick herself at age 30, thought she would die, received her last rites, and had 16 visions of Jesus.

Julian did not then die, though. She lived on, secluded in a cell attached to St. Julian’s Church, as an anchoress.

What was unusual is that she wrote down short descriptions of her visions. Only later people learned they were written by her.

Though living apart she received people for counselling and became known affectionately by many. Through many years she rewrote her visions adding theological reflections in what survive today as her book Revelations of Divine Love. Her words of counsel have provided inspiration and hope for generations of people. She died at least 74 years old, sometime after 1416.

April Ends; Spring Sprongs

Waiting, waiting, waiting …

and just when I thought it was safe to put away the winter jackets, the wool socks, take off the ice tires, bring out the canoe, lighten the setup, burn little if any wood for heat …

This comes down all morning long


The Winter Sky is Falling, right into our Spring.

along with the temperature buried below freezing.

That leaves room for less wet, less bugs, less allergies so it is not all bad.

After cutting wood in comfort, not too hot, not too cold, and making some good progress stacking cut pieces to split later …

And after enjoying the snow free and sunny afternoon as the snow of the morning completely disappears…

I finally pull out the canoe, reattach the supports removed last fall to be sanded and varnished with a fresh coat to stop the break down at the attachment points.

The wood has been water stained, but the new coats of varnish should help them last a few more years.

Delivery is more difficult since the trailer is no longer available, wood furnace in a shelter tying it up.

So atop the truck, slow progress toward the lake, supper late, and finally delivery to the water.

Canoeing into the sunset wonders.

Wonderful to be out on the water again, though I did need a warm jacket against the biting wind. A vest and hoodie did not cut it.

Red Sky Sailors Delight; but here it still snows the next day, nicely like small cool ash melting on impact with the brown bare earth.

Later I watched as the sun set and left a red sky for the lake to reflect back on.