If Only … ?

Sunday, October 23, 2022

All Greatness

In, Around, and From Us,

Is Always a Mere Reflection of God’s Greatness,

As Water Reflects Sunlight

to Be Gloriously

Gold and Precious.

Psalms 50:16-17

But to the wicked God says: ‘What right have you to recite my statutes, or take my covenant on your lips? For you hate discipline, and you cast my words behind you.’

James 1:25

But those who look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act—they will be blessed in their doing.

Words of Grace For Today

If only it were so simple that we could be lookers into the perfect law, the law of liberty, who persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act!

Oh, life would be so simple. And damnedable for us all.

So James and a host of other biblical writers and writers since, reminding us that humans are so fallible, even and especially when it comes to describing God’s attitude towards humans.

We just want it to be that we are in control and we can choose and those who do not so choose as we have are damned and we are blessed forever. That’s a simple if demanding perspective on God’s attitude towards us, and it’s a simple way to deny the reality of one’s own ongoing sins, and a handy way to make demands of others, trying to control them, since we cannot control ourselves in the least, as it seems.

God certainly does hate our sins.

Thank God that is not the end of God’s story with us. God’s story actually begins with our sins and ends with God blessing us with such an abundance we cannot imagine it, and in between God forgives, renews, and sends us out to provide that same Grace to others, which brings hope to an otherwise seemingly lost world.

Once we confess the reality of our sins and God’s Grace that sustains us, then we certainly can and should do our best to look into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and persevere, being not hearers who forget but doers who act.

But God blesses us long before we even make that attempt. Our reward is already given to us undeserved. Our actions may bring God’s blessings to others, though.

And that’s worth the effort each day.

The Cloud

Saturday, October 22, 2022

The Great Cloud of Saints,

Coloured by Their Blood,

Surrounding Us

with

Indefatigable Hope.

Second Chronicles 20:12

O our God, will you not execute judgement upon them? For we are powerless against this great multitude that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.

Hebrews 12:1-2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

Words of Grace For Today

It is one thing to be overwhelmed by a mass of people coming against you. It is another thing to have the state, in the form of the Police and the Courts, come against you.

What can one do against such odds: the whole power of the state fuelled by lies created at every level, against one who speaks the truth, which no one wants to hear?

There are enough words from prophets and disciples who lived and died under the same circumstances.

It is in that great cloud of witnesses to the truth that one can take refuge, for these are God-made, and God-sent saints, who have ‘fought the good fight’ and run the race set before them, the race of putting God’s Grace, Love, and Hope before all else, giving witness to God’s great powers, powers so much greater than all the powers of all the states ever to have stood for a time on earth.

Come what may, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, we can lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and live each day to it’s fullest, celebrating God’s great goodness for us and those who come up against us.

Another day on planet earth when millions will unnecessarily die, and millions will be born into a hope that does not disappoint.

Great Grey

Friday, October 21, 2022

Another Grey Day At The Shore,

Waiting For Justice.

Isaiah 61:1-3

The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me;
he has sent me to bring good news to the oppressed, to bind up the broken-hearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn;
to provide for those who mourn in Zion— to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.

Luke 15:21-22

Then the son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” But the father said to his slaves, “Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet….”

Words of Grace For Today

Now if you want to display your greatness … well there are all sorts of things humans do, most of them on the spectrum from silly to outrageously stupid and futile.

We do plenty of things on that spectrum for all sorts of other reasons as well. Sin abounds from us and among us.

Now if you were God (which you are not I’ll remind you in case you might momentarily forget!) and wanted to display your greatness there is no limit to what you can do and do do. The greatest of these is make good people out of us sinners.

So the Spirit of the Lord reaches out to the down-troddened and those dealt with unjustly to lift them up to the fullness of life.

So Jesus comes to show us God’s unending grace and choice to forgive us wretched sinners (actually we are pretty darn good sinners, really) and to celebrate who we are with a feast like no other.

Come all you who are thirsty for truth, and justice, and grace, and blessings. God has poured out enough to fill every thirst and hunger.

This is God’s display of greatness.

And we saints? We remain really good sinners, yet again to be saved by God’s display of greatness in mercy and grace.

Another grey northern autumn day in the solitude of the bush. The kind photographers shake their heads at and return to the darkroom to work and wait for another day. Just the kind of day that God uses to show us how beautiful life is.

Did You Hear That Call?

Thursday, October 20, 2022

Though Our Way May Seem Dark,

Burdened With Our Pasts,

God’s Light Guides Us

Onward Each Day.

Isaiah 12:1

You will say on that day: I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me.

Matthew 9:13

Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.

Words of Grace For Today

When the cell phone rings it plays a wonderful tune, reminding me of the person who is calling. Or if it is an unknown to me caller it plays the default, rather unpleasant ringtone.

I am fortunate that I do not get angry phone calls. I get enough angry visitors who have displaced their anger and focused at me. Hard to tell what they were legitimately angry at or about, and sometimes it’s hard to tell what they are angry about that involves me. Mind you I get other visitors, too, it’s just the angry and violent ones are more memorable in the danger they could be to me. So far nothing has come of any of their anger, usually drunken or drug enhanced anger.

Getting anger directed at one by God … well that’s a whole other level of anger and a real and present danger!

Fortunately I can say, and I would hope, we all can say: I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me.

We trust in God’s Grace made clear to us by Jesus’ sacrifice and call for us to follow him. We were and still are sinners, and Jesus comes to call not the righteous but sinners.

So that certainly includes all of us.

Sinners.

Yet God-made-saints, by Grace alone.

That is enough for any day, and every day, including today.

Thanks we give to God for that,

when we hear that ring-tone (Amazing Grace) of Christ’ call.

Take Heart

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Despite The Darkness Of Our Blindness,

The Bright Light Of Christ Shines

Everywhere.

Psalms 38:21-22

Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, do not be far from me; make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation.

Mark 10:48-49

Many sternly ordered him to be quiet, but he cried out even more loudly, ‘Son of David, have mercy on me!’ Jesus stood still and said, ‘Call him here.’ And they called the blind man, saying to him, ‘Take heart; get up, he is calling you.’

Words of Grace For Today

Niklaus von Flüe, Bruder Klaus ist bekannt in der ganzen Schweiz. Als Ratsherr war er im 15. Jahrhundert sehr geschätzt. Später wurde er Einsiedler und Mystiker.

Niklaus von Flüe, brother Klaus is known throughout Switzerland. As a councilman, he was highly valued in the 15th century. Later he became a hermit and mystic.

That’s the short introduction ZDF provided to the worship service broadcast this past Sunday from St. Peter’s in Zurich.

St Bruder Klaus began his prayer, Mein Herr und Mein Gott, My Lord and My God. It has been used as the theme for a hymn popular in Switzerland.

As Pastor Cornelia Camichel Bomeis recounted in her sermon she visited with a faithful woman who said she refused to sing that hymn. The 90 year old explained that it was a dishonourable thing that Bruder Klaus did when he upped and left his wife and their 10 children, the youngest not yet a year old. He may have been named a saint, but it should have been his wife, who raised the ten children on her own. Mind you she was not destitute since Klaus was wealthy man.

Born into a wealthy family Klaus was a farmer, military leader, member of the assembly, councillor, judge and mystic-hermit.

Pastor Bomeis explained that she could only celebrate Bruder Klaus after she heard a note about Klaus’ circumstances that explained his departure from his wife and their ten children. Serving as a soldier he came home injured as we know today in an invisible way that manifest itself later. He suffered PTSD.

From this injury God brought forth a man of visions and wisdom who was sought out (in his hermitage) by people and leaders from around Europe.

We can say as Klaus did: Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, do not be far from me; make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation.

No matter our circumstance we can take heart because Christ is calling us, each morning, noon, and night; calling us to leave behind our blindness, injuries, and scars and follow Christ’s voice. There is a wonderful world to see, even more wonderful if one is so gifted to see God each day in all that is.

Our Lists

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

While We Are In The Dark In The Cold, Leafless Bowels of the Forests of Life,

Up Top,

God’s Glory Still Shines,

Beckoning Us to Rise Up And Love One Another

As God Loves Us.

First Samuel 2:6

The Lord kills and brings to life; he brings down to Sheol and raises up.

Revelation 1:8

‘I am the Alpha and the Omega’, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Words of Grace For Today

I don’t think of God killing, just bringing to life, not of bringing us down to Sheol (hell as it is), just raising us up out of the hell we get ourselves into.

There’s a plaque I saw once in a furniture store. Plaques with platitudes usually do not catch my attention but this one did:

Karma, I have a list of people you seem to have missed.

Well, I suppose we all might have such a list, and the idea that we can influence karma, well, that’s a wild idea.

But we pray to God constantly.

So can we provide that same list to God and ask God to do the killing stuff with the list?

Surely we can acknowledge (well most of us do, or at least many, well maybe it’s just some of us nowadays) that God is the almighty, the Alpha and the Omega, beginning and end. God as the bringer of life as well as death certainly belongs with that. So yes, God hears our prayers and answers them. And yes God could take that list and kill ‘em all off.

Why would God?

To please our blood-thirst or hunger for revenge? That is not our God, not at all, not at all.

God believes in every single one of us frail, broken, sinful creatures, enough to free us again and again from our sin so that we might live abundant lives (which means we understand that God created us to provide the best life possible to other people, and that we act accordingly.)

So our task with that list of ours is to see if we can give them the same kind of Grace that God extends to us.

It’s another day of challenges, dealing with others’ and our own brokenness, failings, and sinfulness.

Let us find the peace that God offers, so that we can forgive and give renewed life to those who sin against us.

Still, God, can we review my karma list sometime to see if just perhaps you can bring a few of those people their just desserts. Wouldn’t want them to miss out on the end of the feast now would we?

(God save us all.)

Bribes of Glory?

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Which Path Will We Choose

Deuteronomy 16:19

You must not distort justice; you must not show partiality; and you must not accept bribes, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.

John 5:44

How can you believe when you accept glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the one who alone is God?

Words of Grace For Today

There is no end to wise sayings on how to live, many formulated as commands that in the not keeping will cost us our … our what? Our lives? Sometimes that is the threat. Our faith? That is sometimes the threat.

The truth is most of the time not following the wisdom will not cost us our lives, our faith or anything less than our ability to participate in creation as God created us to.

So if we give or take bribes, we subvert honest, just processes … and by that someone else always loses out. So we are actually paying not for preferential handling for us, but deferential handling for someone else!

And if we seek glory from other than our own Creator and God, what then? We distort our lives in God’s good creation and given witness to that being possible and accepted to all who see and know what we do.

Saints are equipped to give witness to the goodness of God and God’s creation. So glory sought elsewhere undermines our life’s work.

What are we equipped to do this day?

Volumes of goodness, so today is another opportunity to live as God intends and equips us to live: abundantly, filled with gratitude.

Whaddaya See?

Friday, October 14, 2022

Evening Firestorm?

Or

Earth

Moving At Warp

Through Space-Time-Light

Pushing Fiery Light

Into It’s Wake?

Isaiah 37:16

O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, who are enthroned above the cherubim, you are God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth.

Ephesians 3:14-16

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name. I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit.

Words of Grace For Today

At 3:00 I was up.

It was dark.

I walked outside for air.

And

Looked

Up.

Aurora Borealis painted the sky,

Dancing as it does,

From the western horizon, across the lake and trees –

over the meadow in a circle,

pointing to this blessed place,

and back down and around out to the East

and to the North

in wisps, feathery light

and unseen by most people

safely asleep through the northern night.

Then jets roared overhead

from the east

bound to the northwest.

A sortie to defend Canada’s north from predators,

of the human being kind.

This on spaceship earth, caught last evening, probing it’s way through the sunlight

into the dark.

Where are you headed today? Have you your eyes open to see the creation and it’s Creator, at work, at play, suffering, and in joy?

Seeing

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Often We Need Someone

to Point Out

What We Otherwise

Miss Out On.

Deuteronomy 26:15

Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless your people Israel and the ground that you have given us, as you swore to our ancestors—a land flowing with milk and honey.

Luke 2:30-32

for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.

Words of Grace For Today

We all live on some ground or another. We are blessed greatly if it is a land flowing with milk and honey.

Sometimes what is crucial is less the land we live on and more the way we see it.

Many lived in the days and place when and where Jesus was born and grew up, but very few noticed what tremendous blessings God placed among them, like the child Jesus arriving at the Temple.

We ask everyday that God will give us eyes and ears to see and hear the wonders God showers down on us.

As most photographers can tell us, they see everything that the rest of us see, yet they see more. They (well full disclosure here, it’s we, since I’m one of them photographers) see how what they look at will or can with a camera be made into a photo that reflects exactly what is there and yet more, often by excluding some of what is there so that we notice more of what is.

Mystics live, see, and hear in much the same way, though we work without a camera, instead using hearts, minds and souls to see the world and all that happens in it as God’s gift to us.

Mystics and photographers see the light, the Light of the world that is our salvation. The results are not always happy to see, though it is profoundly reassuring knowing that it is all blessed by God.

So we often say with Julian of Norwich (even as we also witness tragedies without end), all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things will be well.

Thanks Giving

Monday, October 10, 2022

As We Stand

Wonderfully Coloured

In God’s Glorious Light,

We Always Cast a Shadow of Sin

Behind Us.

Leviticus 22:31

Thus you shall keep my commandments and observe them: I am the Lord.

Philippians 2:14-16

Do all things without murmuring and arguing, so that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine like stars in the world. It is by your holding fast to the word of life that I can boast on the day of Christ that I did not run in vain or labour in vain.

Words of Grace For Today

Leviticus lays out rules upon rules before coming to this passage: Thus you shall keep my commandments … Just prior to this conclusion the offering of young animals is laid out in clear detail.

Now if these few rules were all it took to keep the Lord’s commandments, then we’d have a hope of being able to keep and observe them. They are, instead, voluminous even in scripture and interpretations fill seemingly endless volumes, often with contradictory rules and admonishments, so that keeping them is impossible.

Jesus pared the commandments down to Love the Lord your God, with all you heart, mind, and strength, and love your neighbour as yourself, even your enemy. And with that concise formulation it seems possible at first glance, but …

But only by denial of one’s own reality, one’s wishes, desires, yearnings, and actions taken to make it through life – only by denial of one’s own reality is it possible to think that one can keep this one commandment.

The simple truth is we fail at keeping the commandments, every last one of us. That does not mean that we ought to go about our days intentionally murmuring and arguing, or that we should remain oblivious to how our actions hurt others. We need make great efforts to help others.

We need not do all this in hope of satisfying God’s commandments. Rather we can only do this with hearts filled with gratitude in response to all God has done for us.

Obligation does not produce goodness from and in us.

Gratitude does.

Obligation seeks approval for what is already not good enough.

Gratitude seeks nothing except that other people will benefit from one’s words and actions.

We are not going to get out of life free from blemish. Trying to do so is futile and drags us down into the pit of despair, out from which we do not emerge on our own, though we all too often create a false narrative for our lives that tries to convince ourselves we are not stuck in the pit of our own sin, of our own making.

Rather gratitude accepts that we are all blemished, ourselves as much or more than others. Gratitude accepts that God alone transforms us, while we remain wretched, dreadful sinners, into saints who bring life abundant to others.

Thus, as we enjoy meals, and family, and time to relax, reflect, and give thanks (well some of us anyway, for many have none of that even this day), we remember that:

  • The value of life and of ourselves is a gift from God.
  • The joy of life is knowing to whom we owe thanks, and being able to give it.

So today we Give Thanks, as grateful people, as sinners-made-saints.