Reality Worth Living In

Saturday 26 November 2022

The Sun Rises through the scrub beneath the trees, beginning a new day.

God never ‘sets’,

but walks with us,

always.

Psalms 116:9

I walk before the Lord in the land of the living.

Luke 20:38

Now he is God not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.

Words of Grace For Today

There are so many times in life when I have been surprised that others do not experience reality clearly.

The confirmation class where others seem to have not the slightest clue what the pastor was talking about most of the time, most often when I would engage him in a serious question.

The step-daughter who always accused me of doing things I had never done, so I wrote up an exchange we had where she had blown up at me. She agreed that what I had written was not wrong, but it was not right because it did not include what she felt. Her accusations were that I was responsible for what she was feeling, even though I had next to nothing to do with what her emotional state was. Her birth father had favoured her among the children and then killed himself, leaving her confused and angry. That anger got directed at me, her step-father. The result was the reality she lived was often quite disconnected from what actually took place.

People in so many different congregations and synods who played power games, participated in church, prayed for forgiveness and reconciliation with those people they saw as enemies (who certainly were not of the view that they,themselves, -those people – were ‘enemies’ of anyone,) and then they would return to their games of false accusations, scheming and disruption of congregational life.

The many people who come to the lake to drink and get high, seemingly unaware of the holy ground they tread upon.

The closest analogy I’ve found comes from being a professional photographer. I see photos all day long, especially at sunrise and sunset, or in storms, or any time the light is spectacularly specular. I’ve spoken with people who can point a camera (well a cell phone, so now everyone has a pretty good camera!) at the world to capture at best a snapshot of trees, lake, and blah, and not even notice that 2⁰ to the left there is a splendid photo waiting maybe only two minutes to be taken before it disappears.

Do people, likewise, go through their days, not seeing God among the living, thinking that God is only for us after we die, and God walks among the dead of all time?

Luke puts it straight:

God is not of the dead, but of the living; for to him all of them are alive.

Let us walk this day, knowing that God walks with us.

Or is that something that others cannot experience? Scripture gives plenty of witness that many people have lived, knowing God walked with them.

So this is reality, and reality worth living for.

A Fire-Storm a’Coming

Friday 25 November 2022

The Dawn Fire-Storm Breaks Into Another Day.

Jeremiah 31:35

Thus says the Lord, who gives the sun for light by day. and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar— the Lord of hosts is his name.

1 Corinthians 8:6

Yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

Words of Grace For Today

Yet for us …

Which make it clear enough that for others it is not so.

We see the world defined by scientific research results and theories developed of millennia.

A universe expanding from an initial big bang, our planet one of 9 or so planets along with numerous asteroids, moons and space dust (so not quite void) revolving around a sun, and our sun one star in many that make up one galaxy among many that make up what we ‘see’ with telescopes and exploratory space venturing probes that speed out of earth’s atmosphere to bring us images and information of the ‘great beyond’ and all it’s wonders like black holes that defy our ability to see beyond their thresholds as they consume anything and everything that gets ‘too close’, being millions of miles and more.

Our ancestors saw the universe differently: the land flat, a firmament hold up the stars (planets only known as starts) and sun on it, with the precreation chaos breaking in from the bottom in the oceans and from above in storms as water of the void beyond the land and firmament poured in chaos and destruction on creation.

There are many other views of the universe, as well, among all humans of all time.

Even now we theorize there may be other universes not in and of this one we know.

Yet … yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.

And this God gives the sun for light by day. and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night, who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar.

Even this day, as we are told to anticipate rain and possibly freezing rain, we see God’s greatness in the blessing poured out on us like unending living waters of stream of life, and light that comes in the morning to give all creatures and plants life potentials.

In this worldview, this universe ‘seen’ and known, we see God and rest assured in God’s promise to walk with us, whatever storms come our way.

For there will be many, no doubt,

yet … yet for us there is one God ….

Looking or Already Seeing?

Thursday 24 November 2022

Looking afar

we may search for

the ‘colour of life’ elsewhere,

Doch God has put all blessings

among us.

Isaiah 49:8

Thus says the Lord:
In a time of favour I have answered you, on a day of salvation I have helped you;
I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages.

Luke 17:21

Nor will they say, “Look, here it is!” or “There it is!” For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.

Words of Grace For Today

While the world teaches us to find our way,

our way in the world to success, to happiness, to comfort, to privilege, to contentment, to blessings, to prosperity, to [fill in what we all chase], and to find our way to God,

Jesus turns that all around, inside out, upside down (well, right side up, as it turns out) and shows us

we need not ‘find’ our way,

because God walks with us, and God is among us, and the Holy Spirit leads us, comforts us, provides us happiness, contentment, unending blessings, and all that is good for us, and

because God has claimed us and established among us God’s reign.

This is less for our benefit, than for those who see us

so that they may know

In a time of favour God has answered us, on a day of salvation God has helped us,

so that what is right;
I have kept you and given you as a covenant to the people,
to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages.

so that what is right will also be established for all people and the land.

so that what has been laid to waste will be renewed,

so that what is lost from our pasts, will be redeemed and renewed.

For this is God’s good Will towards all of us who live on this fragile planet earth.

And that is what God gives us to teach the world

about Grace.

Cause and Effect

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Not Quite Roman Roads, but,

no matter how great or small our efforts are,

they are nothing compared to God’s work

for us.

Psalms 24:7

Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.

John 1:12

But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.

Words of Grace For Today

Cause and Effect: people always want to be in control of the cause and the effect, especially of their own lives and things important to them,

like being accepted by God.

So the one verse from John reflects (in the English more than Greek) that first 1) we believe in Jesus’ name and receive him.

Then 2) God gives us the power.

And 3) we use that power to become children of God.

And that is all backwards and dangerously so.

If we have that power, then we have the power in the end to tell others that they did not receive Jesus, and therefore they are not the children of God, and if not the children of God, then they are not our equals, and … well eventually that leads to us against them, and the killing starts, if not literally then figuratively at first and always in the end, literally. And that is hell. That is not what Jesus came to live on earth as one of us in order to make possible.

It just ain’t so.

In fact taken with the verse before and after we see even in English some very different cause and effect.

John 1:11-13

He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

1) Jesus comes to his own, and 2) they do not accept him.

3) others receive him and believe in Jesus’ name,

4) Jesus gives these others the power to become the children of God,

5) but listen: that power is not worked out by us humans, because those children of God are born (not by blood or the will of humans) but by God.

The cause and effect is clear: God acts, we receive the blessings. We get to accept the blessings or reject them.

Regardless of how we respond, scripture shows again and again that God acts again and again, to move us to accept the blessings.

The Psalm can be misread as well.

Lift up your heads, O gates! and be lifted up, O ancient doors! that the King of glory may come in.

One could say we must life up the gates of our hearts, our world, our cities, in order that the King of glory may come in.

But

we know God comes whether we act or not.

We pray that God will bring us to lift up the gates, and give witness to the coming of the King of glory. That’s the part we sinners get to play in God’s effort to reach out to so many people who think they are in control

of the cause and effect

in God’s creation.

God’s in control of all the causes and effects and we get to believe, cooperate, and participate, Or not.

God’s still in control of all the causes and effects.

Thank God, for when we think we are in control, that’s when we build ‘towers of Babel’ and start wars to ‘conquer or kill off the unfaithful’ who are in our way for exerting our control in ‘our world.’

Another day to pray we learn also again today to believe, cooperate, and participate in God’s Will.

Fasting to ‘Find’ Our Way?

Tuesday 22 November 2022

A New Day!

No need to find our way.

Our guide is more sure than the moon.

Ezra 8:21

Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might deny ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children, and all our possessions.

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’

Words of Grace For Today

How can we deny ourselves in order to seek from God a safe journey for ourselves, our children and all our possessions?

It seems to me that exactly that effort is what Jesus came to tell us is futile.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and on that Way the truth is that what we want out of life, like securing our own safety, just is not in the cards.

Love has no guarantees, no safeties. It’s a commitment to the other to provide as much as can be at the time, and to walk with them, as much as one can.

God can always walk with us, so that is the best it gets. No safe journey for ourselves, our children and all our possessions.

That said, there is no better journey than to walk forward to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ, using words when necessary, knowing that God walks with us. If we try to make it better than that, we tend to screw it all up for ourselves, our children and for any possessions we may have.

While many have tried to make it to God, Jesus shows us again and again that such efforts are futile. God is already with us.

That’s a great day’s comfort and assurance, come what may.

Unsure Ending?

Monday 21 November 2022

We may wonder how our trek past that point may turn out,

but we already know how each day and each life will end:

as blessed as it began.

Jeremiah 3:14

Return, O faithless children, says the Lord, for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.

Luke 15:20

So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him.

Words of Grace For Today

In the movie, About Time, the main character Tim learns the secret of living well from his father (since the men in the family can travel back in time to relive parts of their lives, changing the outcomes, like a mulligan): namely, that he lives each day through from beginning to end and then goes back to relive it, free from all the concern of how it may turn out, enjoying every possible event and person he encounters.

The key to the secret is to remove all trepidation at doing things right and well. When we know the outcome will be good, it’s not so hard to be humble, admit our mistakes, make amends as we are able, and move on with gratitude. The great bind in life comes when we fear what will happen if we actually admit to others we have made a mistake, small or large as it may be.

So Jeremiah calls with God’s Word to the people to return to God, and to do so knowing that God will welcome them and bring them to Zion, the city of hope and peace and prosperity and blessings.

So Jesus tells the story of the Prodigal Son, and the Prodigal Father. The son wastes away his inheritance and life until he has nothing left and not enough food to survive. He is humbled. He need not become humble. His circumstances leave him no other option. So he returns, asking only to work as a servant and receive as payment a place to live, and food to eat.

The father surprises him with compassion, a huge welcome, and a full return to his place as a son, even celebrating his return with a huge banquet.

Now, if we only knew how all our needed confessions and repenting would go with other people, life might be a lot easier. Trouble is people are not always compassionate, welcoming, and willing to celebrate our confessing our failures and sins done to them. Usually we get the ‘whip.’

How do we choose to live, though: full of fear at being honest, humble and repentant, or both ready to confess our sins, and then, when others confess theirs and repent, to be the ones compassionate, welcoming and celebrating others’ repentance?

From day to day, it would be easier to simply know how things would turn out and then take everything in stride, even with delight at how things proceed, showing compassion and care for all the people we encounter.

Since God provides us the promise that we will be welcomed like the prodigal son, and God promises to take us in to Zion, we can live knowing how it will all turn out in the end.

In the movie towards the end Tim takes the secret his father gives him one step further and simply lives every day the first time and only time through, enjoying every possible event and person he encounters.

We get to do that, not simply because, but rather because God promises us a good ending … to each day, to each year, to each life.

Simply blessed.

Being Remembered, Remembering Those Lost.

Sunday 20 November 2022

Despite the debris of our past,

God brings in a new day,

and blesses us in it.

Luke 24.13-32

Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, ‘What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?’ They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, ‘Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?’

He asked them, ‘What things?’

They replied, ‘The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.’

Then he said to them, ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, ‘Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.’ So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight.

They said to each other, ‘Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?’

Words of Grace For Today

Every once in a while there’s a hymn that should be translated and in the hymnal

Und ein neuer Morgen (Herr, du bist die Hoffnung)

1) Herr/Gott, du bist die Hoffnung, wo Leben verdorrt,
auf steinigem Grund wachse in mir,
sei keimender Same, sei sicherer Ort,
treib Knospen und blühe in mir.
Und ein neuer Morgen bricht auf dieser Erde
an in einem neuen Tag, blühe in mir.

Ref.: Halte mich geborgen,
fest in deiner starken Hand und segne mich,
segne mich und deine Erde.

2) Herr, du bist die Güte, wo Liebe zerbricht,
in kalter Zeit, atme in mir
sei zündender Funke, sei wärmendes Licht,
sei Flamme und brenne in mir.
Und ein neuer Morgen bricht auf dieser Erde
an in einem neuen Tag, brenne in mir.

3) Herr, du bist die Freude, wo Lachen erstickt,
in dunkler Welt, lebe in mir,
sei froher Gedanke, sei tröstender Blick,
sei Stimme und singe in mir.
Und ein neuer Morgen bricht auf dieser Erde
an in einem neuen Tag, singe in mir.

Das Lied stammt aus der Messe “Lied vom Licht“.
Die Original-Chornoten sind über den Verlag www.edition-gl.de erhältlich.

German from

https://www.evangeliums.net/lieder/lied_und_ein_neuer_morgen.html

Roughly Translated:

1) Lord/God, you are hope where life withers,
grow in me on stony ground,
be germinating seed, be a safe place,
bring forth buds and bloom in me.
As a new tomorrow breaks on this earth in a new day, blossom in me.

Ref.: Keep me safe, firmly in your strong hand and bless me, bless me and your earth.

2) Lord, you are goodness where love breaks,
in cold time, breathe inside me.
be a spark, be a warming light,
be flame and burn in me.
As a new tomorrow breaks on this earth in a new day, burn in me.

3) Lord, you are joy where laughter is suffocated,
in dark world, live in me,
be a joyful thought, be a comforting look,
be a voice and sing in me.
As a new tomorrow breaks on this earth in a new day, sing in me.

Google translated, refined by TL
Listen to it here on Youtube. The best of the bunch of it that I found.

Und ein neuer Morgen

Here’s the Worship Service in German with Great Music, that begins before and continues after this hymn!

https://www.zdf.de/gesellschaft/gottesdienste:

(Available on ZDF.de usually for a year. After a month or so search for Erinnere dich or 20 November 2022.)

Remember!

Totensonntag,

[All Saints Sunday in Germany] from St. Michael’s, Fürth
remembering those who have died, those we knew, those from conflicts, along the route as refugees in the Mediterranean and elsewhere, those who starved to death, those who died with no one to notice or remember them:
Remembering with small items of/from them.
Remembering
and trusting that even if no one remembers us
God accompanies us, and remembers us,
calls us to remember Jesus,
as the disciples on the road to Emmaus,
and to trust that God,
more than remembers us.
God give us new life after death,
life eternal.
(a short synopsis of the service and sermon.)

For all those no longer in my life, taken from me by sins and death:

Gott, du bist die Hoffnung, wo Leben verdorrt,
… Und ein neuer Morgen bricht auf dieser Erde, an in einem neuen Tag, blühe in uns alle.

Solitude Amid Dense Populations?

Saturday 19 November 2022

A sunrise of clouds, ice, and trees.

A sunrise of clouds, ice, trees, and ?

A sunrise of clouds, trees, and smoke! From an oil production plant.

Time to look closely at what we do,

and others do on our behalf,

before it’s too late.

Opps, too late!

Isaiah 62:11

The Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to daughter Zion, ‘See, your salvation comes; his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.’

1 Peter 1:3

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.

Words of Grace For Today

Your salvation comes.

The Hebrew word for salvation in Isaiah is yishek, in German it’s translated as heil, as in health, well-being, and in Heil Hitler (a corruption of the use, meaning as it were ‘long live Hitler’, or so.)

So our health comes, our well-being comes, our salvation from all that ails us comes.

Not a bad start to any day.

Yet yesterday started like this, too. And every day before it since our births. Yet we are still in the same predicaments as before, perhaps the colour of the tone has migrated a bit as the seasons come and go, as the sun rises and sets, as the years accumulate and age takes it’s toll and we watch more and more friends and not-so-friends succumb and die.

So what is our well-being anyway, if it is the same as it has always been?

CBC’s Front Burner on 16 November 2022 ran a piece on the UN’s announcement. The daily newsletter summed it up this way:

The impact of 8 billion people on the planet

On Tuesday, the human population reached eight billion people, according to an estimate by the United Nations. While population growth has slowed in recent years, it still took about a decade to add the last billion people

Meanwhile, humankind is continuing to do irreparable harm to the planet, including climate change, accelerated species extinction and ecosystem collapse. We’re also straining the planet’s ability to sustain this many people, as revealed by water scarcity for billions of people — all while people in more affluent countries are responsible for far more than their fair share of the harm.

Today we’re joined by Céline Delacroix, adjunct professor at the University of Ottawa’s School of Health Sciences and the Director of the FP/Earth project with the Population Institute, to discuss how it got to this point, what it means for people and the planet and where we go from here.

There’s a lot of us, most struggling to survive.

In the 1970’s already we were warned of the doom of overpopulation. Then it was that we could not produce enough food for more than the then 3.7 to 4.3 billion people (1970 and 1979 respectively) on earth.

We developed new food production techniques, and, as then, we produce enough food, but we do not distribute it where it is needed. People starve every day, while food goes to waste.

So how is it that our salvation, our health, our well-being has arrived!?

We are left to hope, and hope, and hope, and work like mad, because the bleak future does not promise much, especially not extrapolated out from the past 50 years.

How do we climb out of bed, with all this doom and gloom and failure and threat to our freedoms (when fears multiply dictators rise to take control and people let them), and to all life on earth?

Thank God for Jesus, the Christ.

Our Saviour is not like most would expect, able to change the ways of the world and put things right despite so many people’s selfish efforts to grab what they can from the ‘ship, planet earth, as it goes down.’

Instead Jesus works as God does, through weakness, sacrifice, and love, giving his life on the cross to offer us hope, so that in our baptisms into Christ we receive a great many gifts, greatest of them is hope. And it is not any old hope.

We receive a new birth into a living hope. And that hope is not dependent on us. It is God’s doing, God’s gift, and our strength and motivation to live and work hard.

That’s got to be good enough for today, because

we need to hope and work like mad, to make things turn around. Projections show an increase in population by 2050 of 9.8 billion and 11.2 billion by 2100. The projections don’t forecast a levelling of population until 2100. There’s work to be done, and it will not be done if there is no hope to motivate us, not only to move towards a decrease in world population, but a reversal of climate change, species extinction, and ecosystem destruction.

Just a few ‘small’ tasks are on our plates.

Time to stop ignoring them?

Whaddayathink?

God’s Word, Our Adventure?

What’s Stopping Us?

Friday 18 November 2022

What keeps us from venturing to the far horizons of God’s Call to us?

Genesis 12:1

Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.’

Hebrews 6:12

so that you may not become sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Words of Grace For Today

God tells Abram to up and go. We know the rest of the story.

How would we describe it?

An adventure.

A holiday.

A change.

A shake-up.

A challenge.

An effort for a better future.

A decision for the kids.

A mid-life crisis.

Getting free from the old man.

Getting out from underneath mom’s thumb, as kind as it may be.

The unexpected word.

A rationalization for one’s own desire to break free and move to the horizons of the unknown.

Listening to God and following God’s commands.

Heading to the moon or Mars.

A one-way ticket.

A long trek.

Finding peace.

Hoping for peace and conning everyone along the way to becoming rich.

Finding the foreign land inhabited by others and claiming it for oneself.

Colonialism gets it’s start.

Striking fear into all in your way.

Getting everything one could dream of, except a child, and heir to one’s massive fortune. And then, after trying in all sorts of destructive ways to fulfill God’s promises, seeing God deliver a child, an heir, a future.

Descendants as many as the stars, as many as the sand on the shores of the oceans.

Off-spring who will believe differently and kill each other for millennia as if that were the Word of God for them.

And again: Humans fail miserably. God wins by Grace.

And then …

Hebrews and so many others still write, think, pray, speak, and act as if we humans could earn God’s Grace, or as in chapter 6 (see below for verses 1-12), we could possibly ‘hold on to God’s Grace’ by our own thoughts, words, and deeds.

But there you go … humans trying to go it alone, even when we have known God’s Grace to save us, as if that were a one time event, instead of a constant on-going never-ending work on God’s part for us.

So today:

Let us listen and follow God’s Word,

and pray

that the Holy Spirit will make us able to do so

… and then remember to give God humble thanks.

Finding Peace?

Thursday 17 November 2022

Another Day Ends,

With The Sun Leaving It’s Last Light

In The Western Clouds,

As Fog Settles Over The Ice.

Is This Peace?

Psalms 116:7

Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

2 Thessalonians 3:16

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with all of you.

Words of Grace For Today

We humans seek many things in life. Our striving and competing creates no end of conflict and anguish for us and many others caught in our wake. We may think we, ourselves, do not create this conflict, especially if we’ve been privileged by birth or happenstance, yet it is part and parcel of each person. While we may deny the evidence of our own creation of chaos most of us live in the wake of others who create great conflict, violence, chaos, destruction, and suffering, some of it on our behalf and for us, some of it against us and for the benefit of others at our loss.

In the conflict and chaos we often seek peace, with others, with creation, with our Creator, and most often with ourselves.

Real peace is not something we can achieve. It is a gift.

Rev. Roger H. Black at Bethel Lutheran Church, Madison, WI provided this illustration for Luther Seminary’s God Pause for 13 November 2022 beginning with the words of the hymn When Peace Like a River and it’s refrainIt is well with my soul”:

An art contest asked painters to depict a perfect picture of peace. All kinds of entries with images of peace were painted, including such as that of the quiet of a lake on a windless summer day. The winner was surprising. The artist painted a tumultuous waterfall cascading down a rocky precipice. Stormy grey clouds threatened to explode with lightning, wind, and rain.

Amid it all a spindly tree clung to the rocks at the edge of the falls. And in that tree a little bird had built [its] nest. Content and undisturbed in [its] stormy surroundings, [it] rested on [its] eggs. [He/she] manifested peace that transcends all earthly turmoil.

(Note that in 90% of bird species the male sticks around for the nest building, incubation, feeding, and care of the young.)

While we may strive for this kind of peace amid the inescapable turmoil that is our lives, we cannot achieve it.

Not any more than that bird created the peace of that nest amid the turmoil of its surroundings. Birds nest. It seems to us a sign of peace, though it is instinctual life. Somewhere in that chaotic environment the two birds were going to establish a nest. Likewise, somewhere in our chaotic worlds we try to create a home for us and ours. Whether peace permeates our lives, in and out of that home is something we can and should strive for, but it is not something we can achieve. Not really.

That said the image of the nest amid the storm and tumult is a poignant reminder of what peace really is.

That kind of peace is given to us as a free gift.

Roger continues:

By God’s mercy we have this kind of peace in the midst of turmoil. “Our sin…is nailed to Christ’s cross.” We are made right with God through “his own blood shed for us.”

[The gift given to us is that]

No matter what happens to us, we are not dismayed. [Well, we need not be dismayed.] For we know [or more truthfully we can know] that “it is well with our soul.”

The truth is even when the peace that surpasses all understanding is given to us, sometimes we ignore it and proceed as if we did not have the greatest gift ever given to us.

So we do well to pray each day:

Return, O my soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

And we do well to offer to ourselves and to others a reminder of God’s blessings:

May the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways. The Lord be with all of you.