The DawnShine

From On High

Sunday 29 January 2023

Blues, Peaches, and De-Light

Psalms 80:20

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts; let your face shine, that we may be saved.

Luke 1:78-79

By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace. ’

Words of Grace For Today

After a long, dark night, after many days of snow and clouds, freezing rain and wind, nothing quite compares to the light of the dawn breaking in on this life with blues, peaches and golds spraying the white snow-laden ground with all colours of the rainbow.

These are reminders of God’s promise not to abandon us, not to the floods, nor to the disasters of any kind, nor to the darkness that can creep up on us and catch us, drawing us down, down, down.

God’s promises renewed, our hearts buoyed once again, and our minds set on what lies ahead, even the shadow of death cannot steal the peace from us. Our enemies that would do us harm have no chance, nor have they had any chance of succeeding in bringing about our demise.

Instead we have found refuge in God’s great light, in God’s great forests, and beside God’s great waters. The sun powers our shelters, wood heats our bones, and clean water refreshes us each day, as we feast on simple foods, enjoying every bite.

Even as the cold winds blow, there are moments to find the solitude warming our hearts, bodies and minds as we work outside to provide the basics for the coming days.

And writing, writing, writing keeps our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, as we explore the truth of the past, present and future.

This is the light of Christ, God’s countenance that shines brightly here on us, and everywhere.

May the light find you today filled with gratitude for God’s gifts and the opportunities to share life with those in need (which is pretty much everyone.)

Three Star Joy

Thursday 19 January 2023

In Our Darkness,

We May Only See The Evil,

as here the pollution

of an oil processing plant.

Job 28:24

For he looks to the ends of the earth, and sees everything under the heavens.

Matthew 18:14

So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

Words of Grace For Today

There are plenty of times-events when we can well wonder if God sees what is going on, if God cares about what is happening to us or to others, if God will ever intervene and stop the horrendous evils that are perpetrated against us or against others.

Just look at what men get away with doing to women. It’s all over the news. And then don’t forget to look at what women get away with doing to men. It’s not all over the news, and it should be. Instead women can freely lie to the courts, and just as effectively as men kill women, women kill men. It ought not be so easy, for men or for women to kill others. But that’s how it is. And no one seems to care that women are as effective at killing men through lies in the courts and outside the courts as men are at violently killing women with force!

Does God care?!

Just look at what rulers have done and are doing (like Putin among so many evil rulers) to people with their military. Bombing apartment buildings, city-cide, scorching the earth ahead and behind them, attacking electrical and energy delivery networks and systems … and don’t forget the forced conscription or abduction of young men and women into the military, swiftly brought to the front without sufficient training, fodder in their unjust wars.

Does God even notice?!

The atrocities are not new or suddenly present in our times. The atrocities are as old as human life on earth (maybe before!)

The scripture passages remind us that God does see everything that happens, good, bad, ugly, and atrocious. God cares and wills not that even one little person will die before their time.

We could go with that assurance and bury our heads, but …

But many little ones are being killed even this day, again! Many men (and women) will be killed today by violent or subtle means, many with courts, cops, and the community playing a part in their deaths and in the cover ups.

So what are we to do, say, or think?

As in all our responses to all evil, close at home and far away in place and time, we can but trust that God not only sees and cares, but accompanies us and all those who suffer, and when we die, God calls us home.

Having a home on earth is enjoyed by many, but it’s taken from many more, even this day, again. Having a home in eternal time (having begun before we were even born!) with God is a basis for great joy and thanksgiving in life, even this day … even if this day were the day that we would finally succumb to our enemies’ ongoing attacks against our lives.

With great joy and thanksgiving, then we go into this day and each day. What more can we ask of life?

Well, let me make a list … it’ll be a few hundred pages long so hang on to your hats.

Or …

We can rest in God’s blessings already given to us each day and again this day.

Christ’s Light Shines,

like three stars,

even in this darkness.

Do It Right! Or Else!

Sunday 15 January 2023

Our Sins, like dark trees,

always partially block OUT God’s Perfect Light,

which makes life

beautiful.

Proverbs 21:3

To do righteousness and justice is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.

James 2:26

For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is also dead.

Words of Grace For Today

Sacrifice is given after one has done what is not acceptable to God (sin), to appease God, to win God’s favour, and to set things right with God.

Of course, we humans would think that, instead of sinning it would be better just to do what pleases God, wins God approval, and stays right with God.

James hits it right on the head: the body alone is not alive, not unless spirit inhabits the body, mind, and soul. Likewise faith without works is also dead, for works are the spirit that gives faith its life … right?

What James hits right on the head is the easiest perversion of faith, apparently the Devil’s favourite path to corrupt us away from God, for we take it up so often. It goes like this: we do, God rewards us, beginning and of story.

Thank God that is not the story of God’s will and Word for us. Not at all. God created us able to love and able to sin. That is God created us free to choose to love (otherwise it is not love) which requires us also to be free to choose to not love, which is to sin and turn away from God’s will for us.

God planned for all that.

God loves us, whether we choose to love and live out that love doing righteousness and justice, enlivening our lives of faith with works of love (and all that comes with it.)

God does not abandon us to our lives of sin, perverse, destructive, and full of suffering as they are. God, instead, reaches out to us with love and forgives us and renews God’s spirit in us, and sends us out to do the same for others.

That is God’s will and Word for us.

There are so many seemingly convincing arguments to live otherwise, to avoid the real beginning of our relationship with God in worship and the rest of life. The real beginning for us is confession of our sins, which is the acknowledgement that without God’s forgiveness and grace we are nothing good at all, not at all.

There are so many fully convincing arguments made that we are sinners but not really that bad after all, not like other terrible sinners. We are not wretched sinners, just sort of sinners. All that is the Devil’s work to pull us away from fully relying on God’s forgiveness and grace as the source of spirit in our lives, which is really life itself.

Thankfully God planned for that, too, graciously sending God’s own son to show us how wretched we are as sinners, and how forgiving God is, and we can be forgiving of ourselves and others, without avoiding our profound and desperate need to be forgiven in order to breathe and be alive each moment.

Yes, we ought to do it right or else. The else is, God will forgive us again, and again, and yet again, demonstrating that we can do it right only with God’s Spirit guiding us.

Oh, and God prefers neither that we do righteousness and justice, nor that we make sacrifices. God prefers that we live out and tell the story of God’s Grace enabling us to do God’s will for us all.

Required Perfection

Thursday 12 January 2023

Oil Fuels Our Circumstances, and Destroys Creation.

Love Fuels Our Hearts and Heals Creation.

Deuteronomy 10:12

So now, O Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you? Only to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

1 John 2:5

but whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. By this we may be sure that we are in him:

Words of Grace For Today

The formula for life is simple, so people say: just do everything just and righteous, obeying God’s commands, and you will live perfectly, well, and blessed.

The formula for a terrible life is simple: do that and you are for sure going to suffer, suffer, suffer.

Even after Jesus’ story is there for us to learn and treasure, even after the light of the star of the Magi has come and gone and we can learn of it and treasure it, even after so many have ‘discovered’ the key to life and faith is God’s Grace and written, preached, and lived so that we can read their words and treasure them, we humans trundle back to our old and failing ways: we live as if it is all up to us and what we do is the key.

Doing, striving, and learning to do better, and even ‘discovering’ all we can about God’s love for us and all creation are certainly crucial parts of life. It’s just that when we place them at the top of our priorities and the top of the causation chain for how life should develop for us, then we are in for lots of miserable living. Oh, we may acquire riches, power, and fame, but our hearts will be miserable.

Our hearts determine more about our lives than our external circumstances. Our hearts guide us to strive for more and more for our greedy, selfish, perverted selves OR

our hearts can guide us to the key to living a blessed life: love.

First we realize and acknowledge anew that God loves us first and most powerfully, overwhelmingly so. Then we can acknowledge and confess again and again that we are greedy, selfish, and destructive people, greatly in need of forgiveness and a new start in life so that we can live free of our woeful sins (as they all are) and live to love others with God’s love, which is to love ourselves as well. Then we realize that even before we sin so terribly, God loves us, and graciously forgives us our past sins and our present sins and even our future sins, all so that we can live free of them, free to love God and God’s creation with all our hearts, minds, and strength.

Then we get to work, strive, learn and delve into making the circumstances of others’ lives better, as a demonstration of how God forgives us, and how God is ready to forgive them.

That’s the blessing of life, and the required ‘perfection’ of life: to rely not on our own sinful selves, but to rely on God’s forgiveness, and then to get working at making life right for others.

When we are unsure of our place with God, then we realize again and again, it is not up to us to fix it, for God has already done that. That is the security of life, the only security in life, the only thing that is sure. God has done it for us, done love extraordinaire though we deserve nothing of it at all, at all.

Chaos? Or Giving?

Tuesday 3 January 2023

The clouds cover the light into the future.

Where shall we turn for life?

Psalms 119:154

Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise.

2 Thessalonians 3:3

But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.

Words of Grace For Today

Look around and there is not much ‘good news’ out there.

The unjustifiable war in Ukraine continues with civilians and cities targeted for wholesale destruction.

Europe faces a winter without enough natural gas to stay warm and running at full capacity.

The snow pack is a deep as it was at the end of February last winter and last winter it was the most we’d had for a while. Great for skiing and snowmobiling, but hard on snow clearing budgets and especially the snow clearing budgets that only consist of arm and back power to cover kilometre long driveways.

Covid continues to kill people and combined with the flu and colds and RSV emergency rooms are overfilled and hospitals are going into the third year of overcapacity resulting in staff shortages burning out the staff that are there.

Climate change (an example is the snow pack) promises more storms of all kinds and a few new ones tossed into the mix, more disruptions, more destruction, and a cycle where last year’s extremes are this year’s normals and this year’s extremes become normals next year, until one wonders what normal will look like!

While the causes by ‘big business’ are significant, the message is clear that we, the everyday little people, contribute massively and therefore we are guilty, guilty, guilty for not stopping the progress of climate change long ago when dealing with it were possible. Now we are left with guilt and trying to mitigate, minimize, and survive, if we can.

And, if one cares to pay attention, the Devil is playing the board as freely as ever. Fake news, lies in everyday life, and manipulations for power and control over others is rampant. Try to be one who does not participate and people will see you as vulnerable and gang up on you. The attacks may be violent and obvious, or subtle and deadly nonetheless!

It has been like this in every generation (with different flavours and crises), so much so that the Psalmist could write words thousands of years ago that fit our guilt-ridden, fright-filled, weather stricken mornings very well:

Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise.

We know that God promises us life, but it seems that life has just fallen out of our reach yet again, and the best we can do is submit to the chaos, and live as long and well as we can, taking what we can while we can, no matter what it costs others!

Oh, the temptations of the Devil are so powerful. They promise ‘good life’ and deliver death for more and more people.

Our only hope is as Paul wrote to the Thessalonians so many years ago, that

the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen us and guard us from the evil one.

With a quiet, breathless prayer of thanks, we submit, not to the empty promises of chaos, but the blessings of God that are given to us to be shared with others.

Now that’ll give us a full day, a busy week, and a wonder filled year.

Sabbath Solution

Friday 30 December 2022

Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht,

known professionally as Bertolt Brecht,

was a German theatre practitioner, playwright, and poet.

Exodus 20:9-10

For six days you shall labour and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.

Mark 2:27

Then he said to them, ‘The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath;’

Words of Grace For Today

Give me a break!

It is all too common that humans turn things around backwards, inside out, and upside down in order to have their way with other people, usually to control them as a means of holding power, so to speak.

It’s not new. The Sabbath for humans, or humans to serve the Sabbath?

The government to serve the people, or the people to serve the government?

“Die Lösung” ([diː ˈløːzʊŋ], “The Solution”) is a famous satirical German poem by Bertolt Brecht about the East German uprising of 1953. Written in mid-1953, it is critical of the government and was not published at the time. It was first published in 1959 in the West German newspaper Die Welt.

Die Lösung

Nach dem Aufstand des 17. Juni

Ließ der Sekretär des Schriftstellerverbands

In der Stalinallee Flugblätter verteilen

Auf denen zu lesen war, daß das Volk

Das Vertrauen der Regierung verscherzt habe

Und es nur durch verdoppelte Arbeit

zurückerobern könne. Wäre es da

Nicht doch einfacher, die Regierung

Löste das Volk auf und

Wählte ein anderes?

Translated:

The Solution

After the uprising of the 17th of June

The Secretary of the Writers’ Union

Had leaflets distributed on the Stalinallee

Which stated that the people

Had squandered the confidence of the government

And could only win it back

By redoubled work [quotas]. Would it not in that case

Be simpler for the government

To dissolve the people

And elect another?

(from Wikipedia)

It’s too unbelievable to not be true?

Friday 23 December 2022

Even at -39⁰ the morning

starts

again

with

Eucharist

&

breakfast.

Psalms 21:13

Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.

1 Timothy 3:16

Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.

Words of Grace For Today

There are stories that are just too unbelievable to be made up. My ex, a bunch of women, the cops, and the courts gave me such a story. If I had not been so lied about I would never believe what happened, being kicked out of apartments for no good reason except someone was trying to frame me, being arrested, tried, convicted and sent to prison for crimes that never happened (yet alone were committed by me!), and financially sent into debt so far I’ll never see my way clear in this lifetime.

That’s the evil done to me.

Then there is the rest of the story, of people quietly acknowledging what they saw happening as corrupt and unjust, of life criminals going out of their way to protect me from real harm in jail (while guards and other inmates certainly sought to kill me – without getting caught), of opportunities and circumstances that provided me enough to survive on, and the skills to better and better protect myself from the elements and the ever-present criminals, … and from the on-going lies others tell about me which are then used in court over and over again, even though anyone with half a mind knows what is said are lies, yet again.

And the mystery, not that I can survive in spite of it all, which is substantial enough, but that God has blessed me, walked with me in very visible, tangible and life-giving ways, and protected me from all harm that would do me in.

Jesus’ story is like that, too. Every story of God making things happen in spite of evil people working to ‘get ahead’ is like that, too.

There are countless stories like mine. People are dealt with unjustly by people intentionally doing evil. And God providing a better life for them in the midst of all that evil.

Makes one stop and contemplate, how Advent calls bring us to prepare, and Xmas culture lays great expectations on us, and yet God reaches into our lives and brings to us each Christmas (in spite of all the things we do to avoid noticing God at work) the wonder and awe of God being everything for us, even as a young infant child born in poverty.

Thank God for that, again.

And again this day, we stop to wonder in awe, and give God thanks for the simplest things that show us God walks with us.

When There’s No Morning Light?

Monday 12 December 2022

Morning comes so late and

then in a snowstorm,

barely at all.

Still God’s Light is with us,

more than the oil processing plant’s light

breaks the northern horizon’s

quiet.

Psalms 31:17

Do not let me be put to shame, O Lord, for I call on you; let the wicked be put to shame; let them go dumbfounded to Sheol.

Ephesians 5:8

For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light…

Words of Grace For Today

‘Let the wicked be put to shame and let them go to hell!’

Which is all fine and good, except that, when we are honest we have to recognize that on our own we are the wicked.

Ahhh, yes, what goes around comes around, so to speak!

We were once the darkness of the world, but now we are light. Once we were the wicked, but now we are the righteous, though we are only light and righteous because God so makes us by removing our own records from us and applying Jesus’ pure record to us in relationship to God and all creation.

So we get to live as the Light, as the Righteous, even though it is not us, but rather the Holy Spirit working in us.

And what are we to do with others who practice wicked ways still? Forgive them, so that they can repent and join the Light and the Righteous. And when they refuse to even recognize their wicked ways, and do horrendous damage to so many people, well …

well then God must deal with them.

We can work on forgiving them, or we can bind their sins, and let them know they are bound so that they know God will judge them according to truth.

As for this day, there is plenty to do to survive the cold of winter, and prepare our hearts, minds and lives for the Christ-child-come-celebration ahead.

Now is time of reflection, sombre introspection, and thanksgiving for all God does for us each day.

So we take time, time to rest and think and pray and sing and …

let God speak to us again,

and to recognize that God walks with us each day, no matter what comes our way.

Welcome Home?

Saturday 10 December 2022

As many as the grains

of all the snows

are the people

God welcomes

home.

Isaiah 66:22

For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, says the Lord, so shall your descendants and your name remain.

Matthew 8:11

I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven…

Words of Grace For Today

As antisemitism spawns like unwanted weeds around every corner we ask:

Why do we not take note?

Why do we not stop it?

Why do we tolerate it as ho-hum?

Do we think it is so old it cannot really hurt anyone?

Do we think that Jews are power people so it does not hurt them (meaning we think racism is only possible when it’s against people of no power?)

Similarly do we think that abuse (including racism) cannot be part of what people with ‘less power’ do to people with ‘more power’?

Racism and all kinds of abuse are possible by all people against all people, and it’s wrong every time, all the time, in all circumstances!

That means that an indigenous person who abuses a middle aged, white male is still abusing another person.

That means that a woman who lies to the police and the courts to put a man in the sights of the police and in court puts the man in jail, still lies and abuses the man, the institutions of the police and the courts, and she abuses all women and men who work for justice (based on truth) for all people, no matter who they are (gender, race, religion, or any other category.)

People are people.

God welcomes our ancestors, including all the children of Abraham and Sarah, and all the children not of Abraham and Sarah!

God welcomes all of us, all people, or all a times and all places, into God’s home, made for us all.

That’s God’s broad merciful, gracious, forgiving, life-giving and generous attitude towards us all.

When are we going to adopt that as ours for other people?

Well some of us already have, namely the saints of all time, including today.

So, today, what are we going to do with this attitude of God that God gives to us?

Rain With A Chance of Lava

Wednesday 7 December 2022

The Outsider.com Provides This Sighting

Isaiah 5:22-23

Ah, you who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant at mixing drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of their rights!

Philippians 4:8

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Words of Grace For Today

We get used to somethings in life that keep repeating themselves everyday.

Like there being many who are ‘heroes in drinking wine’ and many who ‘acquit the guilty for a bribe’ and ‘deprive the innocent of their rights’ for these are the ways of those lost to addiction and care little for their responsibilities to provide justice for all people. These ‘heroes’ proceed easily through each day, corrupting justice without batting an eye, because it is done routinely, regularly, expectedly so. Expectedly so except by the innocent who are condemned to suffer the injustice of being called criminals they are not. Expectedly so except for the victims of crimes who see the guilty parties walk free. Expectedly so even by the children of God, for we are not blind to evil, and we do not support it, so instead the injustice is turned against us, easily so.

In Hawaii the usual forecast is for temperatures around 21⁰, sunny with a little wind. Occasionally the forecast shifts to rain for a few hours, a warm rain before it shifts back to sunny and pleasant.

So these days when the forecast is for: Cloudy with a chance of Lava, it catches people’s attention.

The big one, Mauna Loa volcano, is erupting spewing out smoke and gases and liquid, freeky-hot-melt-everything-it-touches lava. The eruptions go on and on and are a spectacular site. Tourists flock to catch a glimpse of the upheaval.

But it’s dangerous. The lava, of course, is a deadly thing. The reach of the ‘smoke’ and ash is far greater, and unpredictable … and deadly. The ash is caustic. The ‘smoke’ is made up of a number of gases that are toxic to life. Breathe enough in and that’s the last one worries about breathing … or anything else.

We know that the forecast of ‘clouds and a risk of lava’ may seem humorous but that is the forecast God provides for those who are heroes in drinking wine and valiant at mixing drink, who acquit the guilty for a bribe, and deprive the innocent of their rights!

We might well cheer and flock to see the event, like ‘lava chasers.’ The greatest risk is that we, too, will be caught in such exterminations of evil doers, for none of us are without sin.

So we pray, Lord save us and all your people from forecasts of ‘clouds and a chance of lava’, also this day.

May our lives be predictably in your hands, blessed for us and for those around us.