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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Do not forsake me, O Lord; O my God, do not be far from me; make haste to help me, O Lord, my salvation.
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.
While We Are In The Dark In The Cold, Leafless Bowels of the Forests of Life,
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.
‘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?
Neither shall you covet your neighbour’s wife. Neither shall you desire your neighbour’s house, or field, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.
2 John 1:6
And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it from the beginning—you must walk in it.
Words of Grace For Today
We need to put limits on our wants and wishes, drives and desires, and our endless comparing and complaining, right?
Yes, by all means.
Of course, taking what is our neighbours is plainly wrong, and most of us avoid that to some degree in our lives, since societal pressure condemns those who just take. If we think we are free of the sin that this commandment would save us from, just because we do not take what is our neighbours’, then we are so misguided.
Girard had it right when he connected for us that our desires grow out of seeing what those closest to us have, which sets up competition that leads to conflict, which conflict we inevitably cathartically resolve by falsely blaming and scapegoating innocent bystanders.
This commandment to not covet or desire what is our neighbour’s tries to save us from destroying innocent bystanders as we attempt to save our relationships with those closest to us. The real challenge is that societal pressures shove us firmly into scapegoating innocents in order to cathartically resolve our conflicts. It helps society continue to appear to be ‘civilized.’ And ‘civilized’ appearances help everyone blithely continue on as if all were done well by us.
That is the same reality-denying approach to life which sets us up to have leaders like Trump, movements like ‘Querdenkers’-Covidiots-Covideniers, populist movements like Daniel Smith’s that proclaim they are looking out for the ‘common people’ when actually they are serving us all up on a platter to powerful interests, and government advisors who will say that our privacy needs to be balanced with businesses need to collect our private data from which they can create products to provide to us. Which must be products we do not need, since no one needs to collect private data to be able to identify the real needs of a population. Those are constant. The only thing that changes is the way in which others’ interests – ie. ‘not in our interest’ – work to deceive us about what is required for life. That effort is always to manipulate us to ‘have’ covetousness and competition-conflict-creating desires.
And that’s what the commandment would save us from.
As for me and the squirrels (well probably not the squirrels since they keep stealing insulation out of the skirt, but at least for me), we – or rather I – like this commandment. I know I cannot keep it. So I pray, “God save me!”
And that will have to do for this day, as everyday.
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.
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.
But as for me, I will look to the Lord, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me.
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth….
Words of Grace For Today
So the hard winter is coming, ready or not!
Will you sit and wait for God to make your preparations for you, your god of privilege, power, prestige, and wealth?
Will you sit and ponder the sky for signs of someone coming to rescue from the coming storms, icy, fierce, destructive, cold?
It is fine to say we must set our minds on things above and not thing on earth, yet experience has taught us again and again that the Boy Scouts had a motto to choose because generations knew something true: to be unprepared can be disastrous, and being prepared is sometimes all one can do. Things may still be disastrous.
The choice we make again and again is who or what do we trust as we prepare, endure, and survive (or succumb, for eventually we all do)?
Do we trust our own doings? Our own accumulations? Our own wisdom?
Or do we trust God, who created the universe, and each of us? That trust in God does not mean we hear voices telling us to sit in the wilderness, waiting for winter to come and trusting that God will provide all we need! Trusting God entails among other things that we do not let ourselves be consumed so much by our own survival, security, and comforts that we forget all the people who have no way to prepare for what comes their way: conflict, storms, fire, earthquake, floods, other people’s unjustly taking the essentials of life from them.
There are millions, billions of people, who need help preparing for what will come their way, and for enduring, in order that they may survive, or at least die with dignity.
Look, See, Do.
God makes it all possible for us saints: this is the trust we have in God.
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.
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.
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?
Restore us to yourself, O Lord, that we may be restored; renew our days as of old.
But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
Words of Grace For Today
Jason sat a huge bit bewildered as he remembered the last seven days. How could life change so fast in so many ways? How was he going to go forward and towards what? It all started with the fire that burned his house down.
But that can only be explained, he realized, if you start before that. His life had progressed pretty much according to plan, with a few unforeseen changes that only improved on things for him. Stacey was one of those changes. Then to understand how that change was so good, he remembered how Robin had played him and broke up with him and disappeared just a week before their planned wedding. That was hard to take at the time, though it was for the best he realized within a few weeks. His career as an engineer had just taken off. Robin had taken so much of his time, high-maintenance as she was, and she really loved the prospect of his money more than she loved him.
After those few terrible weeks he buckled down at work and within a year had established himself as one of just a few experts in the world in the then emerging field of solar power. A number of companies sought him out for his advice on how to produce their products so that he and no more than a handful of others pretty much determined how fast their design of products came to dominate the field. It was exciting, rewarding, and challenging. With all that the rewards were tremendous, not only financially but the respect others showed him and the awards given to him. His most treasured were the two doctorates he received after he wrote the textbook on solar power design. That was as much a doctoral theses as any could be. The doctorates were honorary, but he’d earned them, one in electrical engineering and one in computer sciences.
He’d travelled the world more weeks of the year than not for his work back then. On one trip he’d met Stacey, working for an NGO in Tanzania. They’d fallen in love and gotten married three months later after he’d returned to Tanzania ten times, supposedly to follow up on work projects, but it was actually to spend time with Stacey. He’d moved to Dar es Salaam, where she was based for a year. Then they moved back to Athabasca, north of Edmonton in Canada, where Stacey was from. They’d built a home, had four children, all as bright as their parents. Jason cut back on his travelling to one trip each month at most, then to one every two to three months. The field of solar power had developed fast. Now the challenge was to find the resources to build the panels, and to design hardware and software up to the increasing demands for electricity from them.
Their oldest child had been 7, the youngest 2. The fire had taken them and left Stacey in a coma with brain damage so bad that when she woke up she was hardly there, unable to talk or move on her own. The doctors recommended taking her off life-support. Jason finally agreed and Stacey died the rest of the way within minutes.
Now, seven days later, he was empty. He had money enough to not ever work again. So he quit. He moped about, lost. A friend, Fred, came by to see him about his own solar panel project for his camper. It was something so small Jason had never even thought about that kind of a project. When he had nothing to offer Fred asked him if he would take a day trip with him. Fred could always get Jason to agree to anything, but this time he said no. Fred just ignored that and told him he’d pick him up at 7 the next morning. Dress to be outside in the cold, he’d said.
Jason made the mistake of asking where they were going. Fred just said it was to look at a solar panel project at a hermitage, but mostly to see the hermit. He was a mystic.
So hours later Jason sat there and wondered like he had not had occasion to for decades at how one could be a mystic, and how others would not understand it at all. Fred could not have known that Jason’s confirmation pastor all those years ago had told him he was a mystic, that he saw God more clearly present than anyone else around.
Jason wholeheartedly thought: Restore me to yourself, O Lord, that I may be restored; renew my days as of old.
But he also knew he had done nothing to deserve to be saved. He’d ignored God for so many years. He certainly was ready to be saved now. Being this empty and lost was not to be alive.
That changed when Jason walked the last half mile into the hermitage. The expectation of it being holy, the peace all around, and even Fred’s sudden loss for words, impacted Jason like nothing had since he’d fallen in love with Stacey. The visit with the hermit was anticlimactic. Jason, as they left, asked if he could come back a few times in the next few months. God had started the transformation of a lost soul into a saint, a renewed mystic, and a servant of people desperate for life abundant.