Look out at those hills and mountains. They are strong, beautiful, and tall but they cannot protect you.
Look at the hills again. Even if trouble should invade, come sneaking, thundering over the hills, God will help you.
Even if we start to feel over the hill – Still God is our help – especially then.
We each have our own stories wherein we feel small and afraid and helpless. Then there is the BIG STORY, of what God is doing, in which we are truly small, yet loved, protected, cherished, and invited in to participate with whatever small barley loaves and sardines we can offer.
Pictures of people taking pictures of people taking…
Did you ever get a song stuck in your head? That catchy tune by Jack Johnson? Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen? Something from The Lion King? A Christmas carol? Gabriel’s Oboe?
Whatever song might get stuck first seems delightful, but then something seems odd, as if the shuffle setting on your media player keeps selecting the same song over and over and over. Then it gets downright annoying, to the point that evasive action is required.
You try a different song. sing it loud, recite a poem or prayer. Then when it seems that you’ve got it licked… “Pictures of people taking pictures of people taking pictures of people taking pictures … The feed back loop is closing in so tight”. it sometimes seems impossible to change the song, OR you end up with another, more annoying song stuck. How do I get this solved? Psalm 40:3 talks of God putting a new song in my mouth.
16 But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who love your salvation say continually, “Great is the Lord!” 17 As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!
If I have to have something stuck in my head, I hope that it revolves around God’s goodness and grace.
Pictures of people taking pictures of people taking pictures of people taking pictures …
I wake up, a little too early.
I hear the squirrel gnawing at my bedroom ceiling.
I think of house maintenance and the money to be spent.
I remember the labour dispute, docked wages, frustration.
My back hurts – oh and the exercises and physio appointments.
And I pray an “oh God, oh Jesus, Jesus help.” kind of a prayer,
but already I have laid a rock upon my chest, and another and another.
Stones of Hindrance, they press in on my heart and seem to say: “look at all of that, and all that lies ahead. However can your god deal with that?
If only I would look back to where yesterday’s stones stand! Stones of help from the days before.
This is not putting my hand to the plow and then turning back unworthily – regretfully. No, I look back in reference – how did God help yesterday? Where have we been, and where are we today?
Two stanzas of the hymn Amazing Grace come to mind:
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
‘Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead me home.
I had expected to spend this past holiday weekend away at an island camp with the youth from our congregation and two other congregations, returning home exhausted, worn out from serving, delighted to have spent my energy as part of something big and wonderful, where more than a hundred youth come together in praise and fellowship. Do you get the specific servant thing I am describing?
But I was sent home from the retreat (voted off the island) due to illness. One doctor said that he estimates I will need to think about being off work for a week. I went to a clinic at Superstore, and I will see how it goes, and perhaps see my GP this week for a better sense of how long this is all going to take.
I certainly did not Outwork, Outlast, Outplay – but I definitely left a heap of dishes for some of the faithful to tackle.
This was not the outcome that I had anticipated.
Where shall I file this past weekend?
Was it a waste?
Did I do what came to me, with grace?
So here is the question: was what I did last weekend more or less worthwhile than what I had planned to do?
Did I serve God in my enforced sabbatical?
Ecclesiastes 9:10 (ESV)
Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might, for there is no work or thought or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol, to which you are going.
Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Am I grateful?
– yes, for all the care I received.
– yes, for health.
– yes, for a beautiful place which also had a good bed
and that is a beginning
My wife maintains my reputation for being the best brewer of coffee in the whole house – at this point out of 4 persons and a dog… This morning’s cup was particularly good. I will let you eavesdrop on a conversation in my kitchen:
“Mmmmmm, that is GREAT coffee, thank you Jesus. – Well, you didnt make this coffee…. well actually you did. Thank you!”
John 1:3 (ESV) All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.
That reminded me of something attributed to Carl Sagan:
If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.
Thanks! Great coffee. And a really nice job on the universe. – There is so much for which to be grateful – this day and every day.
So, Lent is over. I did not even write from Maundy Thursday onwards. Did I make it through Lent? or- how did I make it through Lent? The same way I made it through today or last Monday, or January the 8th…
by God’s Grace alone.
Did I keep lent well? Well, I did something different, considered God’s work in my life and this world, and I’ve had fun doing this. I didn’t actually mortify the flesh.
Thanks for reading.
Oh yeah, if you were wondering, Jesus gets killed – but it is not the end of the story – some women go to the tomb where he was buried, but his body was not there… Read about it if you will.
Eating the passover with friends: Blessed be God, who brings forth bread from the earth.
This bread is my body.
Soon God will bring forth the living bread (he who will die) from the earth.
The immortal dies for us.
“What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him. And even when you saw it, you did not afterward change your minds and believe him.
One son refuses Father’s will,
But later relents.
The other agrees,
But does nothing.
Be sure to examine
Truth you see and know.
When you have truly seen,
Do not hesitate
To change your mind
And believe Him.