… it was the duty of the trumpeters and singers to make themselves heard in unison in praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, and when the song was raised, with trumpets and cymbals and other musical instruments, in praise to the Lord, ‘For he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever’, the house, the house of the Lord, was filled with a cloud, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord filled the house of God.
And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.
Words of Grace For Today
The dull-drums of ho-hum life are never more persistent then when problems overwhelm us and we see no progress towards improvement. We have no hope, so we struggle to make ourselves get out of bed. We struggle to get on with any task at all. Getting to work is necessary but we barely make it. Getting home is an insurmountable chore, day after day. Especially if we have no home! Finding a reason to sleep is beyond us.
Not every life is this way. Not every day is this way for most of us.
And then God
Then God shows up in awesome splendour!
Then God shows up in awesome splendour and astounds us!
The trumpets and cymbals may play, but God out plays them all, with stars dancing, winds singing, and creatures humming along.
And the light show prickles our skins and pierces our hearts with colours we’d forgotten if ever we’d seen them.
Remember your congregation, which you acquired long ago, which you redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage. Remember Mount Zion, where you came to dwell.
Jesus said, For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there among them.
Words of Grace For Today
We often pray to God to do something for us, to remember us, when things are ‘going straight to hell in a hand basket’ and we find ourselves ‘up a creek without a paddle.’
Most often there are things we ought to be doing to help our own situation and the situation of the other 8 billion people on earth, or a good number of them that we can make a difference for.
Instead we do little to nothing and pray. Not that prayer is a bad thing; rather it is a quite good thing indeed! But prayer without action is just laziness of heart, mind, and hand.
Praying to God when we feel abandoned is exceptionally good. Praying that God remember us misses the point all together. God never forgets us. We forget God. I suppose it’s terrifying to realize that in the worst situations we get ourselves into (or put others in or others put us in) God certainly is remembering us, and letting all that is bad happen to us, to smarten us up, or to (and I think this is the best explanation) allow us freewill: free to choose to love God, Creation and all Creatures; AND free to not love God, Creation and all Creatures, especially those 2 legged humans that seem so hard to deal with … and then suffer the consequences of our choosing to not-love what God has given us.
It’s easier to fool ourselves into thinking that God has abandoned us.
But God has not. God is here all the time, remembering us and all other people always.
God always offers us mercy, steadfast love, and hope.
So let’s hope we come up with some good ideas on how to FIX the MESS before the earth eliminates us as the fix.
So I saw that there is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot; who can bring them to see what will be after them?
And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Words of Grace For Today
Ecclesiastes always is a rather big downer. Think of a way to take the joy out of living and the writer found a way to explain it and pound it home.
It’s our lot to work, might as well enjoy it for who knows what comes next! And even if we knew how could we, the hoi poloi, actually understand what was told us!?
Great words of comfort. Work hard. Die miserably. Such is life.
How could a writer so off-base with God’s goodness and steadfast love for us be considered significant; and then significant enough on top of that to be included in scripture?
Colossians, written in the style of Paul, at least knew the perspective to take: one where God is creator and we God’s creatures:
whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
I’ll take that for this day, and each day. There may be lots of work, hard work, this day and each day, just to survive. I’d rather go about it aware of all God’s blessings, with a thankful heart, joyous spirit, and busy hands. Ok, with arthritis in the hands, two out of three will have to do for today and the rest of my days.
Joyous spirit and thankful heart is a good start to … to anything.
I bow down towards your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness; for you have exalted your name and your word above everything.
1 Peter 1:23
You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.
Words of Grace For Today
I have a dream
I have a dream: I have a dream that one day I will live in peace, away from the chaos of people, industry, and commerce.
I have a dream. I have a dream that I will own land as far as the eye can see, with lakes and mountains, where I can travel to camp among the wonders of creation, in solitude and in peace.
I have a dream. I have a dream that my home will have a zero carbon footprint, with solar, wind, and hydro power abundant, with insulation and design to be warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and be built to last for more than two hundred years.
I have a dream that fresh water in will be filtered and fed under pressure by gravity so that no pumps are needed to provide water, and that waste water will flow out by gravity power alone so that no pumps are needed.
I have a dream that I will have an airplane powered by electricity from my carbon-free power generation, with skis in the winter so I can visit remote places with a camera.
I have a dream that my friends will come to visit once a year, gathering in campers and guests cabins near my home. I have a dream that I will actually have friends, at least two or three. I have a dream that my family will come and visit once a year, gathering in campers and guests cabins near my home. I have a dream that at least a few of my family will actually be kind and honest, and that they will be the ones to visit and the others will come only every ten or twenty years to visit, if then.
I have a dream.
I have a dream, but I know God has other plans, at least God certainly has so far in my 60 plus years on this earth and there’s not much time to make any part of my dream come true, so what am I to do?
Knowing that I am born anew, not of perishable things but of the eternal Word of God I know God’s Word creates dreams for me.
So I have these other dreams. They grow from God’s faithfulness and steadfast love, from God’s Word of grace for me and for others, and they guide me to find the peace of God in the chaos of people, politics, conflicts, and storms. God’s Word guides me to value, more than my dream for myself, the peace that I can offer to others. God’s Word inspires me to take photos of where I live, to show people the beauty of creation that they often miss seeing: like a bright yellow flower in the meadow that belongs to a tenacious, invasive species of weed, like the play of light at 4 am as the sun rises above the smoke beyond the foothills seen from a mountain meadow (which is hardly a meadow since it’s a decommissioned oil well site,) like the trickle of water sliding down the rope holding the tarp in place over my ‘home’, a camper, a tarp that leaks so that the water drips everywhere, just not yet inside the camper, like the creek flowing in just one spot amidst the curves of snowbanks at -30⁰ just beyond the dry road to town that the grasshoppers own in the summer.
God’s Word guides me to write as I can, words that share the Good News of God’s steadfast, unconditional love for us all, words that inspire people to remember God’s dreams for us, for us all.
He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
Words of Grace For Today
If it were so simple, then we would just have to be humble and walk with God, love giving kindness to all (especially those who certainly do not deserve it, and they are many), and do what is just and right.
Trouble is, even for good people, it is hard to do these things. The ways of the world are everything but these; the pressures to be successful in the ways of the world are intense and unrelenting; even in small daily exchanges humans fudge reality in order to get along with others and to seem to be just a bit (or maybe a lot) better in their own eyes and in others’ eyes than they really are; and, let’s face it, walking with God is not something that is even possible because God goes so many places that we cannot follow since we are just not omnipresent, all powerful, and capable of transcending time and space. Even a tele-transporter or time travelling space ship would not make it possible. It’d be hard to follow God for a stroll on a planet with no breathable air, or – imagine this simply – to the centre of the sun!
So often, we hear that we ought to be like Jesus, to live as Jesus did, to make decisions as Jesus did. Besides that we simply cannot (sin gets in the way all the time), if we did we’d all end up crucified by the age of 30 or so. Today’s passage is a bit more realistic: let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus. Ah, that is passive. It is to let the Holy Spirit put that mind in us, and let us be as Jesus was, kind, just, and humble.
Now if we let the Holy Spirit work unimpeded in us and through us, then there is hope that we might indeed, do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God
One day at a time, one step at a time. God walks with us, so that we can walk humbly with God.
And that walk is a wonderful, and even the most wonderful, way to proceed through life!
Or did you have other plans for today, and the rest of your days, plans that you cannot or will not cancel?
O hope of Israel! O Lord! All who forsake you shall be put to shame; those who turn away from you shall be recorded in the underworld, for they have forsaken the fountain of living water, the Lord.
Then he said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.
Words of Grace For Today
We humans have made up commandments and rituals and criteria to convince ourselves WE have followed God and deserve to enter heaven: St. Peter, Open the Gates!
it is all self-deception.
Worse, we turn our commandments and rituals and criteria as the basis of judgment against others who have not complied and followed our ways, which we claim are God’s ways.
So we condemn them, damning them to hell,
and we ‘save’ ourselves, sending us to heaven
or so we think.
Truth is our commandments and rituals and criteria are not God’s. Our judgments are not God’s. And St. Peter ain’t opening the gates for us. Instead the devil is. And the Devil gleefully welcomes us into what he has made to look exactly like what we conjured up our ‘heaven’ to look like, … which is totally separate from the essence of God, namely grace, mercy, and unconditional love. The Devil doesn’t wait for us to die, either. Forget that delayed ‘reward’ idea. It’s now and forever
God intervenes with grace, mercy, and unconditional love, saving us from ourselves and our judgments of others.
We have all turned away from God. We have all forsaken God and God’s good ways for us.
We can only beg,
beg for grace,
beg for mercy,
beg for unconditional love
to save us.
Thankfully God has plenty of grace, mercy, and unconditional love for us all. God asks that we exercise that same grace, mercy, and unconditional love for others. So much for our commandments and rituals and criteria by which to judge others, and deceive ourselves.
Ah, mercy me!
Can we abandon our commandments and rituals and criteria for God’s grace, mercy, and unconditional love, also this day? By the Holy Spirit working in us, why not!
Far be it from us that we should rebel against the Lord, and turn away this day from following the Lord by building an altar for burnt-offering, grain-offering, or sacrifice, other than the altar of the Lord our God that stands before his tabernacle!’
… not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Words of Grace For Today
Where and Whom or What do we worship each day?
By the looks of society around us (in western Canada) people worship their ability to burn gasoline and diesel in their trucks and toys (boats, snowmobiles, quads, side by sides, and sea-does). The rationale is though climate change occurs (hard to deny that now that storms, wildfire, and smoke interfere with daily life) it has always happened. (Forgetting just a little that the speed of the change is like never before in all time. What used to take more than a million years of evolution we’ve ‘accomplished’ burning carbon – among many others like mining, technology and creation and use of new, permanent chemicals – in less than one hundred!)
And people worship the comforts of modern living, hot and cold water, vehicles for transportation, roadways, air travel around the globe, secure and temperature controlled housing, bounties of food sources and varieties, and a steady income to enjoy all those things. Not that everyone has the ability to have or enjoy all that, but nearly everyone wishes they had and enjoyed all that, so they work endless hours to achieve that (even as they earn less real income each year and costs go up each month.)
Many still gather to worship God. And their worship is oriented towards making themselves good enough for God. All that they do supposedly makes them ‘better’ than they were, and certainly ‘better’ than all the people who do not join them in ‘being better’ and ‘good’ or at least ‘good enough for God.’
Where can one worship with others, begging God for mercy, receiving forgiveness, and humbly acknowledging that Jesus came for sinners, the worst of whom is not anyone else but for each person, themselves. Receiving forgiveness and by grace, renewed life, then each and all go out to extend that same grace and renewed life to all they encounter, as many as possible, in as many ways as possible.
There are not many opportunities for such worship. They are rare indeed. Those of who seek such worship are the best of all God’s children, right!?
oppps, slipped into the pervasive sin-rut of making myself and us better than everyone else.
So, when one even fails to remain humble and fully dependent on God, where can one find an opportunity to gather and humbly worship God, begging for mercy? And how can one go out to share God’s grace with others when one does not depend on that grace each day, all day?
By Grace alone, God provides.
Such was the blessing from a Catholic priest. At the end of the televised worship service, focused on God’s mercy shown to addicts gathered as the congregation Cenacolo, founded by the Elvira nuns, in northern Italy and everywhere (Jesus comes to the sick, and calls the worst of all sinners to follow him, like the tax collector Matthew) Pfarrer Dr. Robert Nandkisore just before he exited the church, turned to look at the camera. Various people do this through the service, usually with a bit of embarrassment of being televised or to complete their part of the service. But the service is done. So what is the priest up to? He looked directly in the lens (at each of us watching) and with an intensity through his glasses, strong to corrected nearsightedness, blessed us all and each of us.
May we find opportunity to be such a blessing to others, even this day.
What else did you have in mind?
Useless worship of things, comforts, and vain efforts?
… and I will never again hide my face from them, when I pour out my spirit upon the house of Israel, says the Lord God.
… it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, ….
Words of Grace For Today
When God shows God’s face …
Ancient times knew that when one saw God’s face, that was the last thing one would see. One died, and quickly.
God visits Moses, calling him to lead God’s people from slavery to freedom. God hides in a burning bush that is not consumed. Moses is convinced it is God.
Moses climbs Mount Sinai and God shows God’s face to Moses giving him the ten commandments, twice since the people have put up a golden calf to worship. Moses has disappeared up the holy mountain. That’s where God is, and surely Moses has seen God and … of course died. So the people move on, insisting Aaron make a godlet for them from their most precious gold. Moses sees this and throws the stone tables of the ten commandments down, breaking them on the rocks. After the people’s sins are dealt with, Moses climbs the mountain again, and chisels a new set of the same ten commandments.
Moses sees God, twice. And Moses’ face shows it: he has turned ashen white from the exposure.
So when God promises to never hide God’s face from the Israelites again, after God returns to them, is that a promise or a threat?
Will the people turn ashed white from the exposure, or die?
is something else afoot?
Will God show God’s face and bless the people?
When God’s Spirit gives witness, to our spirits (the German translation interprets the genitive ‘our spirits’ as ‘to our spirits’, instead of the English which interprets it ‘with our spirits’, the ‘to’ makes better sense), then we can know that we are God’s children and …
children need not fear seeing their parent, not if the parent is a good parent as God is.
We can give God thanks and praise that God is with us, and does not hide God’s face from us, children of God that we are.
And now, therefore, let the power of the Lord be great in the way that you promised when you spoke, saying, ….
… for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
Words of Grace For Today
There is always more that has gone before, and more after.
Not just in words of God’s promise, but in our lives. God has worked wonders in our past and promises many more in our futures.
So it is that each day, we give God praise, and hallow God’s name with our worship of songs, prayers, and deeds that extend God’s great works of grace to other people.
Charged and convicted of a crime that never happened, stripped of more than three times the money I had for retirement so that I can never hope to be out of debt, and left unable to even rent an apartment to live in, I have been blessed to live in a self-made camp as a mystic, a hermit, beside a lake, in the midst of nature, able to see the wonders of God each day.
God’s grace abounds. For while many would say I have lost nearly everything, precisely in having next to nothing or any prospects of ever having enough to live in a house again, I have gained full awareness of God’s grace and presence with me, through all that has been unjustly done to me, through all the challenges that the cold, heat, bugs, wild animals (worst are the two legged ones), storms, and equipment and body failures have thrown at me.