But when the Israelites cried out to the Lord, the Lord raised up a deliverer for the Israelites, who delivered them, Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.
Words of Grace For Today
God delivers us
mostly from ourselves
as the agents of evil that permeates all our lives
in surprising and oft denied ways so that we may too easily think all is coming up roses
when in reality the things we do stink more than the sewage pipe from the city dwellers before the first treatment plant.
Which is to say, collectively we make quite a stinking mess of the world.
Lately we see how the world comes back on us and all life, trying to stop us from destroying everything. Wild climate change storms and events that threaten all life on earth.
What are we thinking
other than only for ourselves, the future be damned.
Well it is. The future is quite damned by what we do and fail to do.
We need a saviour, not so simply as a warrior to defeat the enemy soldiers attacking us to rule over us and make us slaves.
No, this saviour needs to save us from ourselves. From our greed, avarice, and wilfulness that leaves us willing to destroy others (and ourselves and all our futures) just so that today (and a few of our tomorrows) may be ours to ‘enjoy’ in comfort.
Ahh! What was God thinking when God created us so capable of such destruction and evil …
that God also created us capable of equally such great love, care, respect, and goodness.
Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples!
Acts of the Apostles 2:11
[On Pentecost people of many nations Cretans and Arabs gathered to hear the disciples said:]in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.
Words of Grace For Today
While jealous, and greedy, and wilful peoples of all generations have claimed that God loved them and hated their neighbours (today we call it xenophobia which results is so many disastrous deeds done to others even xenocide) God has a different message, over and over delivered in many and various ways. God loves, works through, and claims all kinds of people,
So, while many would like to say they just do not understand God calling them to embrace their neighbours and enemies with love, but rather that God favours them and them alone among the many peoples, God speaks clearly so that every person can hear the Good News proclaimed in their own language.
Of course that often takes lots of work on the part of translators and other dedicated people who wish to share the Good News with all peoples.
Today will we be those who exclude others, with all sorts of twists of logic that somehow we are better and better enough compared to others to have received God’s favour when others have not?
Will we be the ones to welcome with open arms all kinds of people, especially the sinners, whom we have to acknowledge we are definitely counted among.
For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust.
2 Corinthians 4:10
[we] … always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies.
Words of Grace For Today
If one is confused about who one is then one can carry so much with one each day (baggage, sins, dreams, memories) that do one no good at all.
Take Kurt or Jane or Kjeet or Norique, all who earned more than $500k a year, and sometimes with bonuses netted over $1million. Each ‘earned’ their salaries by taking from others, one on the stock markets, one as a corrupt lawyer, and one as a drug dealer with a day job of librarian, who loved to gamble just a lot too much. The last one had lied constantly to the children, the police and the courts, in order to get ahead by destroying others who seemed to be in the way forward. It was all a delusion, but the results were devastating to everyone. All four ignored the destruction that they left in their wakes, and consequently they carried all that destruction as baggage into each day.
Then there was Rolf, Srijet, Olaf, and May. They were all so poor each day was a struggle to survive. Two were homeless. One lived in the bush. The other couch surfed, from friend to friend, then changed cities and repeated it until there were no friends not ‘visited’ and then the cities-friends were repeated.
Not one of them was happy. All worked each day to have yet more money, thinking that would make them happy. Such thinking was at best mere futile wishes. At worst, through neglect, it destroyed others and themselves, for not one of them gave any attention to the other people around them who struggled just as hard to survive. Their selfish drives to get more for themselves drove them deeper and deeper from anything like life that God created them to enjoy.
Knowing one is made from dust and born of God’s Spirit one can choose well, though not perfectly, what one carries into each day.
We all know the saints, who regardless of their circumstances, turn their focus each day to helping others find the true meaning of life.
Are we one of these saints?
What will our day look like today?
Are we aware we are dust, carried in blessings and glory abundant by God’s grace alone so that we have more than enough to share with all people in need?
When we live, by grace alone aware that Jesus’ died for our bodies, minds and souls (along with everyone else who has or ever will live), with the marks of Christ’s death freeing us from anxiety about our own deaths, and our own lives, THEN our bodies, lives, minds, and time will reflect the glory of Christ resurrected to save us all, by the power of love’s apparent weakness.
It is simply like dust made alive with breath: a miracle each day.
Let Mount Zion be glad, let the towns of Judah rejoice because of your judgments.
As you go, proclaim the good news, “The kingdom of heaven has come near.”
Words of Grace For Today
God’s judgments are good news for those whom God does not condemn. Since God turns right-side-up the world’s upside-down way of living to gain for one’s self at others’ expense, those who have ‘succeeded’ and found a life of privilege, power, and comfort for themselves will be condemned. They will lose all their privilege, power, and comfort – indeed all their life – for eternity when God judges them. Those who the ‘succeeders’ have put down, cast out, and sucked the life out of, those people will gain a place in God’s Kingdom for eternity. They will live forever as God’s own children.
If Zion and the towns of Judah are to rejoice because of God’s judgments, then it must be that they have suffered while others have sucked life out of them.
God’s judgments are good news. But they are not good news for everyone!
Proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is near, may indeed be good news, but those who do not recognize their own terrible sins will be caught, and for them it’s not good news.
The thing that is terrible is that many people who suck life out of others know full well what God’s judgment against them will be. They also know full well that anyone proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is come near is not proclaiming any good news for them.
Watch out proclaimers of ‘good news’ for the privileged, powerful, and comfortable will do everything possible to stop the proclamation. Taking life is a regular venture for them.
Who could have guessed that proclaiming good news to all people would put one’s life at such risk?
Anyone who reads the Gospel,
and gives God thanks for the saints who have gone before us.
Today: more proclaiming the good news is our task, ready of not!
But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain God, much less this house that I have built!
No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
Words of Grace For Today
Finding the meaning of life is an unending challenge every day of every life, unless …
unless one fools oneself.
That usually ends badly for that person and many around them, sometimes nations and continents and even the whole world.
Now if we could only meet God, talk with God, and have God tells us what our lives are supposed to be like, to what end God created us, and what the purpose of our lives actually is, then …
Then life would be peachy, right?
God did send the Law, the Prophets, and then Jesus to teach us all that and more about God and what God intends for us.
But we so easily hijack and pervert to our own ends all God’s efforts to communicate with us. That’s corrupt human nature. It leaves many puking out any idea that God actually exists, or talking at all about God is helpful. Perverse ideas about God are more destructive than almost anything else people can come up with, after all!
So many people have tried to contain God inside their own buildings, their own ideas of God subjugating others to their own whims.
God planned for all that, and in each generation God sends us saints, saints who see and hear the saints from previous generations, and who share with us God’s purpose for us.
The purpose of life is not that hard to see and know and live by: to love one another as oneself, and even to love one’s enemies, and to give God all praise and credit for the goodness and beauty that permeates all of life.
Living that out each day is the challenge of each day. Light work, it is, also for this day.
We All Throw Shadows In the Brilliance of Christ’s Light!
What Effect Does Our Shadow Have On Others?
One who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and one whose temper is controlled than one who captures a city.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Words of Grace For Today
The basic human attitude when we allow ourselves to become wholly unsure of ourselves or anxious is to become angry. Well not in one step without options. We can count to 10 or 90, breathe, and subvert the panic. We can learn to acknowledge hurt, even hurt when we know the source as another human, and then divert our impetus to anger in more constructive, less destructive (to others and ourselves) attitudes.
We can learn, guided by the Holy Spirit and the saints, to be peacemakers for ourselves, turning what could become anger and escalating internal and external conflict, into a peaceful manner of living with all the hurts, disappointments, attacks, and great losses that life and other people will throw at us.
As we learn this, and practice it, for no one is ever perfect in maintaining even one’s own peace, then we can reach out to others caught in anger, anxiety, pain, loss and others attacked by other people; we can, by God’s Grace alone, guide them to find peace with themselves and with all life offers, both good and bad.
The world needs peace, as desperately now as ever.
How will we hang on to truth and share peace this day, even with our enemies?
The command has been carried out that Jonadab son of Rechab gave to his descendants to drink no wine; and they drink none to this day, for they have obeyed their ancestor’s command. But I myself have spoken to you persistently, and you have not obeyed me.
But he said, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!’
Words of Grace For Today
Some obey, others not.
Well, some try to obey, and everyone fails. That’s human nature.
From CBC Ideas: About 2,500 years ago, Thucydides travelled ancient Greece, gathering stories about a brutal war that plunged the ancient world into chaos. He set high standards for accuracy, objectivity and thoroughness in his reporting.
His observations, so different compared to the ‘histories’ told as legends and myths, biased towards the speaker-author’s loyalties, are worth hearing any time, and surely today as ‘fake news’ and ‘spin’ and destorying of so many people polarize the populous into camps deaf-to-the-heart to each other.
First would be the horror that he saw every human would descend to preemptively commit murder and destruction against an ‘enemy’, even if it were a previously good neighbour or child or parent. When law is laid waste by corruption from within or out right destruction leaving all sense of security spinning in the wind for every person, then every person is easily capable of the worst atrocities. For 27.5 years the Peloponnesian War pitted not only Sparta and Athens against each other, but they drew every city-state into the fray. 27.5 years of horror and in the end the result was the destruction of every city.
That’s the result of humans ‘not obeying’.
That’s the result of ‘fake news’ and polarized citizens.
That’s the result of little and big lies accepted and created by Courts as facts, for it corrupts all of society’s trust in the law to maintain order, especially the trust of those who benefit from the corruption of the law by the Courts.
That’s the result of every little lie told out of greed, avarice, covetousness, hatred, fear, and revenge.
Where are today’s Thucydides, tellers of accurate, objective, and thorough stories reporting real events, and us little people dedicated to truth at all costs?
What will we be today?
Truth seekers and tellers?
Spinners and corrupters of truth?
Blessed are those who God helps to find and to hold on to the truth, one day at a time.
Those who live at earth’s farthest bounds are awed by your signs; you make the gateways of the morning and the evening shout for joy.
He has raised up a mighty saviour for us in the house of his servant David, as he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, that we would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors, and has remembered his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham, to grant us that we, being rescued from the hands of our enemies, might serve him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
Words of Grace For Today
Sotorus sat to copy his father’s (Peter’s) journal entry, which really was copied from Peter’s father, Isaac, and Isaac’s sister, Galilea, about Sotorus’ great-grandparents, Doug and Dawn, from the old digital disk to his paper journal with great care.
First he wrote:
“20 June 2299: All the digital records are disappearing into thin air. Though no one knows why for sure everyone suspects it has something to do with those deadly latency rifles used to end the last war on earth. Loaded with specific human traits, the charge would sit for years, even decades, before going off when it’s target came within 10 metres. Now two decades later so many people had been killed, even after the war, and the accumulation of the residue from billions of charges seemed to spread and wipe out not only their targets, but all nearby digital storage in the bio-memory chips used in everything for the last 90 years. So copying what we have as records of the past onto paper is the only way to preserve them at all.
“Albert Einstein was correct in many ways when he said, ‘I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.’
“While explorers like my grandparents were off to Andromeda, those remaining on earth had reduced it to a thinly populated wasteland. No one had the energy or means to fight.”
What Sotorus could not know was the will to fight would return in 1450 years.
Sotorus’ journal entry continued with Peter’s entries from 3 October 2264:
“This from Isaac’s (my father’s) journal of 21 March 2246:
“This is about the day in November 2213 when my grandfather and grandmother, Doug and Dawn, and a stranger, made a quick and desperately simple decision that saved my life and the life of my sister, Galilea.
“This is what I knew about my grandparents decision to leave earth. Doug and Dawn had studied the beginnings of the universe all through university and wrote separate but related PhD dissertations on the doomed first expedition to Mars in 2029 compared to the more recent successful unmanned expedition to Andromeda’s closest star with planets in 2183. It was a no-brainer then when they were offered the opportunity to travel on the first peopled expedition to what people were calling the ‘Andromeda Earth’. In 2210 they packed their few possessions into storage and reported to train for intergalactic travel certificates. In 2113 they launched from earth to the moon, and two days later from there to Andromeda’s ‘third planet from the sun’.
“Eleven months after their three month long trip to A-Earth, as they called their destination planet, they and the other 45 mission specialists, had established the core of a settlement. The rich air and moderate gravity among the most interesting lush and vibrant plant and animal life forms seemed almost a paradise. They had hardly had time to consider more than their work studying the evolution of the plant and animal life that seemed to ‘teem up’ from the planet each day. Yet in those years they had also had us two children.
“I had not kept a journal but Galilea had. Her journal is lost, but I remember it pretty clearly, because we sat and read it often in her last year, as she suffered dementia, common among the most brilliant minds in their later years.
“Isaac was a spunky athletic 6 year old and his sister, that’s me, Galilea (Peter added, that’s my aunt), well I was not yet 2 but I was up and running, reading and writing already.
“This morning, an hour before sunrise, in the dark and bitter cold, the alarm had sounded. Everyone was told they needed to report to the spaceship, refurbished, refuelled and resupplied, and waiting for such an emergency these last four years. The Aearth’s crust had buckled up into a new mountain range on the far side of the planet and we had maybe 6 hours before the air would be poisonous. ‘Bring no more than 150 lbs with you!’ Everyone knew the fuel was not as combustible as the fuel they had used to lift off from earth so weight was indeed a problem.
“Our dad, Doug, called us children, from our studies in the ‘backyard’ near the river, started packing a small backpack, while Mom and us children fretted and argued about which things we could bring: a photo of our house, a rock from the riverbed that glowed at night, our computers and studies and papers, a favourite game made of wood and rocks, and my teddy bear. Finally Doug put his foot down and said we had just enough time to get to the spaceship, or we’d be left behind. With no more thoughts we grabbed only what was packed and headed off.
“At the spacepad, we registered and weighed our bags. We could have tossed in another 20 lbs. The security guard looked at us, checked off Mom and Dad’s names, Doug and Dawn. Then he looked at us children, Isaac and Galilea. He asked our parents if they had weighed us? No! Did they have to? Of course! So back to the scale we went. Together Isaac and I weighed 159 lbs. We all tossed our bags aside and, with the guard telling us we were out of time- others were waiting and time was tight, we two children stripped off our clothes until the scale stood at 154.
“The next person in line (we didn’t even know her or find out her name later) saw the chaos and offered to give up 10 lbs if the guard would let us children take our clothes along. A nod from the guard, a quick ‘thank you! thank you!’ and off we went through the gate to the loading queue as the woman behind us started tossing out big books from her case.
“Later Galilea wrote in her journal:
“Today, I’m not sure of the date, it’s been so confusing, we left a whole crowd of explorers and their children on another planet in the Andromeda galaxy, at a planet everyone called ‘Andromeda’s other third planet from the sun.’
Sotorus, grandson of Galilea, continued his paper journal below the above entry:
“Today is the last day of this millennium, 2299. It’s a day of freezing fog. We heard from many that those who lived at Aearth’s farthest bounds were awed by God’s wondrous signs all around them. They affirmed, and we can certainly affirm now as well, that God has shown to us all the mercy promised to our ancestors, to grant us that we, being rescued, might serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness before God all our days.
“We can be thankful, that though the years have not been easy since the last big war, we (my two sisters, my three cousins, and I) are alive because Isaac and Galilea did not weigh more than 10 lbs too much, and an anonymous woman sacrificed her precious books for our grandpa’s and his sister’s lives.”
Sotorus could not know then, but his journal would be only one of a dozen that would survive the next 1500 years of ‘sticks and stones’. Without it no one would remember Doug and Dawn, Isaac and Galilea, Peter, or Sotorus. Nor would anyone remember that people had migrated to Andromeda and back, or that half the explorers had chosen to stay at another inhabitable planet in one of Andromeda’s star systems.
What will we weigh to take with us today?
What out of our past given to us by our ancestors?
What of our baggage and sins and horrible mistakes?
What of our joys and hope and dreams?
What of our lives?
From the Saints?
Of our spirits?
Of our love?
What we choose will give or take life to more people than we can imagine, in ways only God can show us!
I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.
And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, “Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.”
Words of Grace For Today
The bones are dry, dead, gone.
God assembles them.
Breathes on life into them again.
And we live.
The cantankerous ram is lost, yet again.
He’s found by the dedicated shepherd caught in a thorn thicket, unable to free himself.
The shepherd suffers cuts and tears and blood and time … rescuing the ram from the thicket.
And then the walk home, the ram limping along, not able to fight or think of running off again.
And we celebrate.
The enemies are strong and attack from afar.
The powerful and rich are greedy and corrupt and rot the nation from within.
Many people suffer lives of agony without the necessities, yet with joy that God is with them. They are the winners, even as the corrupt bask in their wealth and power, for
God comes to rescue the lost, the ones suffering, the ones denied life, and the fat, corrupt, unjust, and cruel powerful and rich are brought to their knees and left destitute on this earth and still devoid of a soul.
These we know as surely as the fog of the night is captured in beauty in the morning light on all the tree limbs and brush of the wilderness.
So our hearts, though suffering oppression and abuse, are filled with the free beauty of God’s creation and the cold of the night,
While God warms our hearts, minds, and spirits by the fire.
How shall we enter this day if not with unending thanks to God, and clarity of our mission to share life abundant with all people.