Gladness In Our Hearts

Thursday 26 January 2023

So Many Steps To Take,

To Preserve Creation

For The Next Generations!

Psalms 4:7-8

You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound. I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.

Romans 14:17

For the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Words of Grace For Today

Former Calgary mayor, Naheed Nenshi, in his November 2022 ‘In Defence of Democracy’ speech for the Samara Centre for Democracy’s at the Toronto Public Library outlined five simultaneous crises that we face, which threaten more than just democracy, but also democracy:

Public Health, which the pandemic showed us all too clearly is broken so badly and so unfairly and so unjustly.

Mental Health, which is buried, hidden and denied, yet officially effects 1 of 4, and realistically is a crisis for every single one of us at some time in our lives.

Economic Injustice, which is fuelled by systems that we rely on, which as much as slavery did[does] needs to mistreat so many people in order to keep our societies functioning.

Environmental Crisis, which has shown us that we’ve used up most of our ‘carbon budget’, climate is changing in years (changes that used to take millennia), and change cannot come soon enough, though the wrong changes will leave us worse off than we are now and will be otherwise.

Inequity, which is the fundamental crisis underlying all the others, so that while some live opulent lives now, most of us live in the dregs of their leftovers, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is getting wider, faster than ever before.

Of course, in the past year we must add a sixth crisis, that of inflation and the rising cost of borrowing money, of paying for housing, of buying groceries and gasoline and everything else that is basic to life as we live it.

These crises are familiar to anyone who has not been ‘asleep at the wheel!’

Nenshi provides illustrations: from an immigration system that promises educated, certified, even practising professionals entry to Canada, where we then deny them the right to exercise their professions and instead relegate them to hard, manual labour like long-term care work, or the new driver’s lecture for youth of colour that concludes: always keep your wallet out and visible so that if/when you are stopped you do not need to reach for it, do as you are told, and do not resist: do not let being pulled over be the last thing you do!

So what are we to do?

Nenshi offered three ways to get to an anti-racist culture: empathy, sacrificial service, and love.

Nothing new there either.

So if we’ve know and practised these things, while we may not have made any progress, we know personally and communally that the kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

That God has put gladness in our hearts more than when grain and wine abound. Therefore we will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make us lie down in safety.

Yet, there is so much that God’s good creation needs from us still, while we still have breath, before it is too late!

‘Work with us, again this day, God!’ we pray

‘Bring gladness to our hearts once again.’

Great Foundation of ‘Foolishness’

Sunday 22 January 2023

Do We Follow In Other’s Footsteps,

Or Forge Ahead Where the Spirit Leads Us?

Many Saints Have Gone Before Us,

Without Them We’d Know Nothing

of the ‘Foolishness of the Cross’

Giving Life Abundant!

Jeremiah 10:6

There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might.

1 Corinthians 3:11

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one that has been laid; that foundation is Jesus Christ.

Words of Grace For Today

Christ laid a foundation of God’s power in weakness, of sacrifice for others being the way to an abundant life. At baptism we enter into that way of living as the Holy Spirit gives us such great gifts … all so that we can share God’ Grace with others. And then so often we turn it right back upside down and try to make it on our own as saints!

Another Adaptation of Mother Teresa’s “Anyway”

Mother Teresa wrote in her piece titled “Anyway!” that no matter the cost we should still choose to do the good things. I’ve adapted it to reflect that life following Christ is not about making the right choices. That’s a futile way to live, because the problem is that we never keep making the right choices! Jesus showed us instead that God intends that we surrender in our weakness and sinfulness to what the Holy Spirit makes us able to do: living out the foolishness of the cross, bringing Christ’s light into every darkness.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centred. – We get to forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. – We get to be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. – We get to succeed anyway.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. – We get to be honest and sincere anyway.

What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. – We get to create anyway.

If you compassionately listen to a poor person tell their story, it’ll wrench your heart and cost you a bit of life – We get to really listen anyway.

No matter how many poor people you help, there will always be another in great need. – We get to help the poor anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. – We get to be happy anyway.

The good you do today, will often be forgotten. – We get to do good anyway.

Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. – We get to give our best anyway.

In the final analysis, it is between you and God, and God promises to love us, no matter what. God gives us more than we need, so we get to give our all helping others see that God’s Grace is for them, too.

No matter how we fail or what comes our way in God’s great goodness, God created us to love compassionately, live vibrantly, and give unabashedly everything we have so that others may live knowing God’ Grace is for them, too!

Small wonders fill our days, if we but look and listen, and share them.

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


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.

Be Reconciled

Friday 13 January 2023

Feeling like a useless, Dead Stick stuck in the Ice?

Fear not!

God lovingly planned

for that, too!

Isaiah 44:8

Do not fear, or be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? You are my witnesses! Is there any God besides me? There is no other rock; I know not one.

2 Corinthians 5:20

So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

Words of Grace For Today

Be reconciled to God.

That sounds like we’ve got a lot of work to do, since, if we are honest with ourselves, we are so far from reconciled with God, others, or any of creation.

Might some definitions of reconcile help us understand what that work is? Definitions from The Free Dictionary (worth every penny)

Are we to:

1. To reestablish a close relationship between parties? Oh if we only could, but God is beyond our control, so try as we might, only God can do this!

2. To settle or resolve (a dispute)? Are we in a dispute with God? Sure appears that way given the list of our sins, our thoughts, words and deeds that go against God! So can we get rid of our sin, past, present and future. Not a chance!

3. To bring (oneself) to accept? Well, maybe this is getting closer to what we might be able to do, if it weren’t for those persistent, pesky sinful desires and wishes that drive us to reject God’s will for us, so I guess not this either!

4. To make compatible, harmonious, or consistent? Oh, if only. Nope, this requires that God makes us over again and again, into something different than we are, sinful, wretchedly sinful, persistently wretchedly sinful people.

5. To compare (one financial account) so that it is consistent or compatible with another? Nope, we cannot buy our way into God’s good graces, so keeping the books will not work. And nope: cooking the books will not work either.

6. To reestablish a close relationship, as in marriage. Well, marriages are full of all sorts of crap, and we bring enough with us wherever we go, so maybe we can establish a close relationship with God, as long as that includes relating to our sins on an up close and personal level. Is that really reconciling ourselves with God, though. That’s more like a bad marriage: dumping all our crap on our spouse, and saying it’s all their fault things don’t go well!

7. To become compatible, harmonious, or consistent as in balancing one’s bank account? Nope, our accounts are so out of whack that it’s not in the works to keep good books or cook ‘em enough to make us a fit for God’s goodness.


Thankfully when God created us, God planned for all that, and is loving and gracious with us and all our sins and crap like that, so that

God does the reconciling of us with God.

God does it all.

And we get to live free from fear, blessed to be a blessing to all we meet, so that all other people will come to know

God does it all for us.

We do not reconcile ourselves to God.

We are reconciled, to God, by God, thus ‘be reconciled’ is the phrase.

That’s not so much work, as giving up and letting God take over.

Now I can reconcile or resign or submit myself to that kind of Grace, as we all can.

Mercy Me!

Monday 2 January 2023

A New Day,

A New Year,

Same Mercy and Grace

Sustain Us.

Jeremiah 31:20

Is Ephraim my dear son? Is he the child I delight in? As often as I speak against him, I still remember him. Therefore I am deeply moved for him; I will surely have mercy on him, Says the Lord.

Ephesians 2:4-5

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

Words of Grace For Today

New Year’s Resolutions are already being broken around the world. Old sins have accumulated and weighed people down to the point they see no other way ahead than to sin more and more as if digging themselves out of it all, when they actually are digging themselves deeper and deeper into the excrement of sins from generations upon generations.

And how does God deal with this, yet again?

God points out our sins!


God is merciful and gracious: God forgives us and frees us from the burdens of broken resolutions and accumulations of sins and sins’ excrementations.


God delights in us, as we move forward, not free from sin, but able to be saints in this chaos of life on this precious planet.


God adopts us as God’s own children, blesses us beyond our wildest imaginations, and sends us out

to share this mercy and grace with all other people.

Another day beginning another year, come what may, God is ready to walk with us through it all.

Welcome Home?

Saturday 10 December 2022

As many as the grains

of all the snows

are the people

God welcomes


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?

And How’s That Possible?

Tuesday 6 December 2022

Dark …………………………………………….. and …………………………………………….. Light

Both Permeate Our Views,

Just As Evil and Goodness

Permeate Our Lives.

Only Grace

Gives Us A Chance

of Living Well

Covered By Them Both.

Isaiah 60:18

Violence shall no more be heard in your land, devastation or destruction within your borders; you shall call your walls Salvation, and your gates Praise.

2 Peter 3:13

But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

Words of Grace For Today

You have heard it said that the only sure things in life are death and taxes. Well I’ll tell you that is that while true they are hardly significant, compared to the two things that are actually for sure in life: Evil and God’s Grace (which makes everything good possible.)

The words of Isaiah are a promise or a call to make something good happen. And I have to say, just because you don’t hear about it does not mean that it is not there, and just because you name something nice does not make it good.

Churches give themselves names that speak the exact opposite of their true nature: a break away congregation after heated conflict that destroys so many people calls itself Peace Lutheran. A church steeped in demanding of each other obedience, pietistic practices, and righteousness (and the covering up of anything that is different) calls itself Grace Lutheran.

The American dollar is printed with ‘In God We Trust’ while those dollars are used to do anything but display a trust in God!

Fanatics call themselves all sorts of things, including faithful, and they are anything but. They become just terrorists.

Presidents like Trump and Premiers like Smith get democratically elected (well sort of), pledge to uphold a constitution and then do everything to set themselves up as sovereigns, dictators without any accountability to anyone but themselves (and their moneyed supporters.)

But God calls us children, and sends us out to be disciples of Jesus the Christ. We need to live acknowledging the full power of Evil, around us and in us, and we need to live embodying the humble and powerful Grace that God provides as a triumphant reply to Evil.

That’s a dance that we cannot find the steps to on our own. Only the Holy Spirit can guide us in that dance, and that guidance comes to us not because we earn it, but because God so chooses to give us broken, sinful humans opportunity after opportunity to hear God’s melody and dance God’s dance of Grace.

May it be, also today, so for us.

Arbeit Macht Frei

Saturday 3 December 2022

Oh, We humans work, and work, and

work wonders with our machines …


God works most wondrously,

also in us.

Psalms 102:18-20

Let this be recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord: that he looked down from his holy height, from heaven the Lord looked at the earth, to hear the groans of the prisoners, to set free those who were doomed to die ….

John 8:36

So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.

Words of Grace For Today

Arbeit Macht Frei

(Work Sets You Free)

an infamous greeting for the prisoners at the entrances of Dachau, Auschwitz and other Nazi concentration camps.

And it was hardly true, unless the freedom promised was death. For working hard with barely enough nutrition to remain alive put on in the grave sooner.

God’s work among the prisoners, those doomed to die, is marvellously miraculous and not often enough,

for we humans keep multiplying the numbers of people imprisoned and doomed to die, even in Canada where capital punishment is not legal. We just do it surreptitiously, or indirectly, or ‘inadvertently’.

As in all God’s work, as in all our work for God, the purpose is less to save people from death (for death comes to us all eventually) but it is to bring others to see God’s Grace and saving work even for great sinners, so that all people will give God praise.

Our work is best centred on that purpose and goal as well: to give witness to the Grace that saves us and sustains us, and can save and sustain all people, so that more and more people will give God praise.

Another day, more opportunities to work for God to bring God praise. Another full day.

Our work cannot make us free, we are free already, no matter our circumstances, even imprisoned unjustly. For God walks with us, holding us up, and guiding us to live with peace, joy, love, hope … all given to us freely.

Quench & Despise not; Test & Hold Fast!

Friday 2 December 2022


as in taking to the horizon,

requires of us:


and Letting Go

(Trusting God’s Promises!)

Numbers 11:29

But Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit on them!’

1 Thessalonians 5:19-21

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise the words of prophets, but test everything; hold fast to what is good …

Words of Grace For Today

In baptism the Holy Spirit pours great gifts on and into us:

the spirit of the Lord, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

So, then what.

Life is still as complicated and simple, demanding and peaceful, evil and blessedly wonderful as it was before. What difference do these gifts really make.

None, if we work everyday to quench and stifle the Spirit working in us.

None, if we despise the prophets words and Jesus’ Word.

None, if we do not test all the words that come to us, testing to discern if they are truly the Word of God, the prophets and of the saints, or if they are fake words, set there to create chaos, under the cover of which the Devil works so freely to rob us of life.

None, if we do not actively hold fast to the gifts given to us by the Spirit. Just remember, we cannot earn or actually hold on to God’s Spirit. It is that we hold fast to the promise that God will continue to hold us, no matter what, and we do not need to try so hard to make it all happen, to make it all good. God redeems and creates anew each day, in us, and in all creation around us and to the ends of the universe.

So we work hard, and rest completely in God’s good hands. This is how we continue to live as the saints have who have gone before us.

Today is another full day, of not quenching, not despising, but testing and hold fast …

and resting fully in God’s hands that hold us …

on the wild, awesome, wondrous ride that is the life of the saints.

Sentinels On The Walls … of Our Hearts

Monday 28 November 2022

No matter the storms that press down on our hearts,

we know from Jesus’ Word that the light will come again,

just as the morning star will shine

even before the bright sun rises.

Even more, we know Jesus’ Light shines always,

even in our deepest darkest storms.

Isaiah 62:6

Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have posted sentinels; all day and all night they shall never be silent.

2 Peter 1:19

So we have the prophetic message more fully confirmed. You will do well to be attentive to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Words of Grace For Today

until …

until the day dawns …

until the day dawns and the morning star rises …

until the day dawns and the morning star rises in our hearts.

Be attentive until …

Be attentive until … the morning star rises in our hearts.

Advent is already under way and

while many will rush about to parties, baking and shopping and wrapping all in preparation for …

for a Christmas celebration that for most has little to do with Christ’s birth, God come to earth, for the poor, the outcasts, the downtrodden, and more to do with our own traditions and attempts to bring blessings upon ourselves.

What will we do?

How is our being attentive until the morning star rises in our hearts a guide for our days?

What is it that we are attentive to … until …?

The prophetic Word of God! And what is that Word?

What is that Word other than the whole, holy story of Jesus, beginning in creation and continuing through this day until the end of all life and light and energy and existence in this universe?

And how are we then to do well to be attentive to this Word?

Many will hope … hope that one day God will be with them.

Even in our worship we often say: God be with you, as in May God be with you! As a wish, a desire, for that blessing.

Then yesterday the priest ( changed that small word to be so much more:

God is with you!

Our attentiveness brings us each day, not down some specific path or type of thinking, words, or acts. Rather this attentiveness, itself a gift from God (not our own doing), brings us to encounter each moment of each day with open eyes and open hearts, as if our being alive brings Christ’s reflected light to each moment so that we see, hear, and encounter God in every bit of creation, every slice of time.

That morning star resides, as a gift from God, already in our hearts, yet still not completely, so we remain attentive as the days of Advent come to us,

for God is with us.