Corona Chronicles-True Confessions#49

Sunday again.  I walk in the cool stillness of this early morning, surrounded by a silence so complete that I can hear every bird call, every rustle of tree leaves in the breeze, every movement of every bunny and squirrel darting here and there – with the sunrise all is light, all is peace, all is quiet, all is infinite beauty everywhere I look . . .

Certainly this world I am walking in cannot be the same world I saw on my TV screen.  That world is dark, chaotic, ugly and full of noise.  That world is a world lit only by burning buildings and cars on fire, a world with streets full of people throwing bricks and firecrackers, breaking windows, shouting, running, looting, carrying off the contents of store after store – while, while what?  while nothing –

the thieves appear unchallenged as they destroy property not their own and take whatever they want – one would think they would be stopped, but there are no police to protect people’s private property, no firemen are there to put out the fires.  it appears people are cheering, celebrating – celebrating what I wonder?

I wonder why I am not seeing any social distancing or wearing of face masks as these people continue with their get-together.  Maybe riots and rioters are exempt from current Corona rules and regulations?  I don’t think anyone took their temperatures or made them register online before showing up.  I know the ban on large gatherings has not yet been lifted.

But the streets are packed full of people, people that have been pent up in their places for the last three months waiting to be released, now filling the streets with their anger and their violence.  No matter that permission to assemble in large groups has yet to be granted.  Theaters, museums, sports venues, libraries, places of worship are not open to people.  No concerts, no baseball games but – overnight we have streets full of people in major cities all across our country.

And sadly these assemblies are not for the purpose of celebrating the lifting of the restrictions, the reopening of our culture and of our society.  These are not celebrations of all that has gone uncelebrated while we were closed down – all the birthdays, anniversary’s, weddings, graduations, trips, Easter, Memorial Day, all the moments that have gone unmarked in the usual ways – moments passed by and passed over while we were otherwise engaged – moments and milestones now at last ready to be recognized and celebrated.

No, that is not what has filled our streets, filled them just as street fairs and farmers markets and marathons and parades used to fill them, just as football stadiums or baseball parks used to be full in their seasons.  No this is not a full house on opening night or a church filled full with singing worshipers – no, gatherings such as these are currently deemed much too dangerous to be allowed.

No, this is something else – even though our right to assemble has been currently limited and put on hold – what I see on my TV screen, is something I cannot bear to watch, do not want to admit is really happening in my own city and in cities all across our country – something sinister and evil, something fueled by anger and by hate.

The words peaceful protest are used but that is not what I see before me.  I see vandalism and violence, theft, arson, chaos, confusion and noise, so much noise. Everyone wants their voice to be heard but in the din of this chaos there are no distinct voices, there are no clear voices, there are no voices of reason or of compassion.  There is no message put forth.  Because the noise level is so loud, any message to honor the memory of the murdered man is lost.  It is simply not heard above the chaos.

This would be the man whose murder ignited people’s pent up frustration, anger and despair which is now compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and ready to be released.  We have witnessed this releasing and the damage, devastation and destruction that have resulted so far.  Sadly, our attention is turned to the rioters and the burned out buildings they leave behind, not allowing us to properly grieve the loss of George Floyd.  Turns out, his name is being totally eclipsed by the successive nights of violence and vandalism taking place in our cities.  I wonder how many of the protesters/rioters filling the streets could even tell you his name if they were asked?

How I wish these rioters would take a page from the playbook of Martin Luther King Jr. – the man who proved to the world that there is such a thing as a peaceful protest.  I would have thought these two words an oxymoron, but Dr. King proved that the peaceful protest is possible.  Dr. King knew this truth – the answer to injustice is not more injustice.

On August 28th, 1963 two-hundred fifty thousand people showed up in Washington DC for the March on Washington.  It was a mile march from the Washington Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial, where speeches were given and music was played.  Many remarkable things came out of this peaceful protest, the most notable – Dr. King’s famous “I have a Dream” speech.

Dr. King’s words were heard, his message was received.  The absence of chaos and crime during the March on Washington made this possible.  When there is chaos, no voices are heard above the noise.  No message is sent, nothing of value is received.  Things are only torn down and taken away.  No progress is made.  Only setbacks result from riots, crime and violence.

In contrast to today’s riots, King’s peaceful protests left a legacy that endures, still here for others to follow even today.  His “I Have a Dream” speech is possibly the all time greatest speech ever spoken in history.  These powerful words could not have been delivered nor could they have been heard had the protesters turned out to be rioters.  But as it is, we still have his words with us today.

There is a big difference between a protester and a rioter.  The former cares deeply about human rights and about other human beings.  The latter has no regard for the law, the rights of others or human life and liberty.  They are opportunists cashing in on the misery, misfortune and heartache of others with no regard for the pain their actions will most certainly cause those with whom they share their community.  Rioters care only for themselves.

It turns out, in some of the cities, there have been some peaceful gatherings of people protesting during the day.  They are seeking justice for George Floyd and justice for other minorities that have been mistreated at the hands of the law. Hopefully, justice extended to one will result in justice being extended to all.

So if these began as peaceful gatherings, what happened?  It got dark.  Eventually night came.  The result was the same in every city.

” . . . but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.  Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”   (John 3:19-20)

When morning comes, others are left to pick up the pieces of shattered glass and shattered lives and shattered dreams left in the wake of another night of fear and violence.  No voices have been heard, nothing of value, lasting or otherwise, has been achieved.

There is a Shakespeare quote from Macbeth about our lives saying that they are “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”  But that is not true.  Dr. King’s life, legacy and words have signified much and continue to signify much as their positive, life affirming impact continues to be present with us to this very day.

It is those who abuse their power, those who oppress others, those who tear down and destroy, sowing dissension and reaping division and despair among people longing for peace and prosperity, it is those people who end up signifying nothing in the final analysis.

We were created to be free.  Paul says in his letter to the Galatians, (5:1) the following,

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us (me/you) free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

I want the privilege of being among those in Dr. King’s dream, who are holding hands and singing,  “Free at last, Free at last, Great God a-mighty, We are free at last.”

sincerely,      Grace Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corona Chronicles-True Confessions#48

I confess, when I hear the words “drive by”, I immediately think of a shooting. That’s what “drive by” means in urban areas, gun fire from a car that is driving by.  But the words “drive by” have received an upgrade of late, thanks to COVID-19. These two words have received an image makeover in the last few months.  Now “drive by” means something entirely new.  We have “drive by” birthday parties, funerals, graduations, shows of support for various people and causes, the possibilities are endless.

From “drive thru” to “drive by” was a small, simple step for mankind.  And we have made the move.  In the absence of assembling together to celebrate something or someone we can “drive by” in order to participate in whatever the event might be. I am wondering if “drive by” events and celebrations are by invitation only?  Being a party crasher at these parties wouldn’t be that difficult to do.

Recently, I discovered the power of another kind of “drive” – the driveway.  It is similar to the power of the front porch but for those that don’t have proper sized front porches, the driveway is the way to go.  The driveway may turn out to be the new front porch.  Neighbors can pull up a lawn chair and sit awhile.  (properly socially distanced of course) The open air forum of the driveway allows for face to face conversation while still observing all the rules, regulations and restrictions of current public health policies.

In other words, you can sit in your driveway in the company of others without fear of being fined, cited or arrested for violating current guidelines of whichever phase of reopening your particular state might be in at the moment.  The important thing is to know which phase you are in because the numbers change with each phase and you don’t want to exceed your driveway’s capacity.  (for people not vehicles)

But the power of the driveway is packed with possibilities.  It can provide a face to face forum for friends and neighbors to actually spend time together and enjoy each other’s company.  I think pre COVID-19 this was called socializing or having a party, among other things.

The advantage of the “driveway” over the “drive by” is many faceted.  Time is one. The driveway allows for some actual time to be spent with others rather than just a wave and a sign as they pass by.  People can get out of their cars, so less gas is used as they don’t have to keep them running.  So driveways are better for the environment than drive bys.  For driveway gatherings no vehicle is needed, just pull up a lawn chair.  Easy and inexpensive.

But the true power of the driveway is in the people, the people that it brings together – together to share a smile, a laugh, a story, a worry, a current problem, whatever it might be.  The driveway offers something cyberspace can’t copy or counterfeit – a measure of personal closeness that zoom can’t replicate, even with our chairs being spaced for purposes of compliance.

It is inexplicable but it is true nonetheless.  I felt calmed, comforted and filled with hope after just one such driveway episode.  I think driveways may be the wave and the way of the future.  Exodus 33:11 says,

“The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.”

Now that meeting place, of Moses with God, was a tent Moses pitched outside of the Israelite camp, calling it the “tent of meeting.”  Then “As Moses went into the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses.”  (Exodus 33:9) Nothing like being with someone in person. Whether the meeting place is a tent or a driveway, the power of the personal, face to face encounter cannot be overstated.

Right now there are many people precious to me that I would love to see sitting in my driveway.  Jesus understood the power of the personal, the power of proximity. Jesus is the most personal of people and the most personal God and Savior.  Besides knowing every hair on my head, every word I speak before it is on my tongue, every thought and attitude of my heart which are uncovered and laid bare before His eyes, He also knows the way that I take and He wants me to be with Him!  (the power of proximity)

“In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.”  (John 14:2-3)

That’s the power of proximity.  The desire to be with those we love cannot be fully satisfied by the substitution of cyberspace for actually occupying the same space. Jesus understood that.  I won’t spend eternity out there somewhere – I will spend it with Him in His house!  Jesus said He is preparing me a place even now.

No zoom meetings in heaven!  Just plenty of personal proximity to those we love.

“Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; (or a computer screen) then we shall see face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”   (1 Corinthians 13:12)

sincerely,     Grace Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corona Chronicles-True Confessions#47

There’s a lot of noise out there.  So many voices from so many places.  Loud voices, strident voices, persuasive voices, angry voices, commanding voices, suggestive voices, secretive whispering voices, informative instructive voices, authoritative all-knowing voices, caring well-meaning voices – I am surrounded completely and continually by the myriad millions of voices this world contains.  Do you hear them all too, dear reader?

Do you ever wish for silence?  How do you decide which voice you will heed?  It is easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the voices – volume both in number of voices and in decibel level of those same voices.  I confess – I find myself asking God about this very thing – this noise problem in my life.

Lord, grant that I would hear Your voice today.  Still my steps, quiet my mind, open my ears to hear You speak.  Silence the shouts of competing voices, the many voices that surround me daily – some invited in, some not.  Some come unbidden and refuse to leave – those voices of criticism and condemnation in my head.

Protect me from those voices in the world, social media – intruding into my day – with voices of advice and wisdom, winsome worldly ways or perhaps warnings of doom and fear, voices of enticing entertainments, voices that promise to solve my problems and show me the way – the way to what?  they do not say – just that it is the way.

Lord, let my ears turn to You, let me seek You in silence, even though Your voice at times is booming thunder, it is Your still, small voice that I do not want to miss – not even for a moment.  Give me ears to hear, ears to recognize Your voice.  I want to hear You in my stillness.  I want to hear You even more in my nosiness – to hear Your voice above the din of noise that so often surrounds me.

Though I do not recognize any voice amid the myriad of sounds, do not hear any voice distinct from the rest – I can recognize Your voice with clarity and conviction, I can hear You clearly despite the din which surrounds my ears.

“He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.   . . .   My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My hand.”   (John 10:3 & 27-28)

Heavenly Father, out of all the voices speaking, calling, shouting out, it is Your voice I want most to hear.  Yours is the voice that brought the universe into being. Yours is the voice that spoke this earth and every living thing on it into existence. It is Your voice in the storm saying, “Peace!  Be still!”  It is Your voice that rejoices over me with singing, Your voice that calms the wind and the waves, Your voice that calms my fears and my soul.

“The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.  The voice of the lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.  The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.  The voice of the Lord shakes the desert;”   (Psalm 29:4, 5 & 7-8)

Seems like I would never miss that voice of Yours, Heavenly Father – but You don’t always speak so loudly.  Remember Elijah on the mountain?  (of course You do!) You were not in the great wind that tore the mountain apart and shattered the rocks.  You were not in the earthquake that came next.  You were not in the fire that followed.  Turns out You were in the gentle whisper after the fire and Elijah heard You!

I want to have ears like Elijah, Lord.  I don’t want to miss a one of Your words. Your words are life to me.  Your words are my manna in the morning and my light at night.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.”  (Psalm 119:105)

That’s why I have to learn to listen well.  Lord, I know You always hear me, (You are a good and perfectly patient listener) but I don’t always hear You.  (I am not such a good listener)

“I love the Lord because He hears my prayers and answers them.  Because He bends down and listens, I will pray as long as I breathe!”  (Psalm 116:1-2)

I want to say along with Samuel, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”  (1 Samuel 3:10)

Lord, let Your teaching fall like rain and Your words descend like dew, like showers on new grass, like abundant rain on tender plants, let Your words fall to earth like the manna You sent so long ago.  (Deuteronomy 32:2)  And may I be found listening in the rain You send to sustain me with Your words.

open my ears, open my mind, open my heart,

sincerely,         Grace Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corona Chronicles-True Confessions#46

I planted my front porch flowers yesterday.  Nothing remarkable in that.  I plant them every May in this big oblong box that runs the length of my front porch. Pink impatiens – that’s what I plant – that’s what I always plant.  I guess because they do so well there, I’ve just stuck with what works.  By September they have filled the box to overflowing with blooms, petals of brilliant pink, which is my favorite color. They bring me joy just to look at them everyday.

This planting of the pink impatiens is a tradition of mine.  I like traditions. Traditions connect my past with my present.  Traditions pave the way for my present to connect to my future.  Tradition is the pathway connecting past, present and future.  Tradition shows me the way – where I have been – where I am – where I am going.

How fitting I should carry out my flower planting tradition on this weekend dedicated to tradition.  Memorial Day weekend.  Even the name tells us what it is all about.  Memory – remembering.  This weekend is set aside for a very specific remembering – a remembering which is supposed to be cause for celebration.

We are supposed to be celebrating the freedoms we have as American citizens – freedoms which we often take for granted maybe because we have never experienced life without freedom.  Until now.

What irony, that on this weekend, this weekend specifically set aside to remember and to honor all those who gave their lives over the years so that our personal freedoms might remain intact, we find ourselves struggling to gain back those very freedoms we never realized we had agreed to relinquish.

How did this happen?  Our freedoms of assembly and free speech seem especially in jeopardy right now.  Sure, Costcos and Walmarts are packed with people, but churches have been closed and can only open with great restrictions on numbers and many protocols in place.  Are they taking temperatures at Walmart?

Prisons have been releasing their inmates, convicted criminals, we are told in order to protect them from catching COVID-19.  (who protects us from the newly released criminals?)  While simultaneously, citizens in many states are being arrested and jailed for attempting to open their businesses or for being outdoors on a beach or in a boat.  Don’t they need to be protected from COVID-19 too, just like the newly released inmates?  (I guess that’s why the criminals are being released, we need to make room for all the upcoming arrests of citizens attempting to earn a living rather than collect unemployment and to live the lives they were living just two short months ago)

Looking at what has happened in our country over the last few months, I am forced to wonder, did the men and women who have given their lives down through the years, for the cause of freedom, our freedom, did they die in vain?  Is freedom going to be lost on our watch?

Lincoln, in his Gettysburg Address, stated it most clearly.  “that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion – that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain – that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom – and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”   (November 19, 1863)

This weekend, as we remember and reflect, we need to determine that our dead shall not have died in vain but instead we must decide to  “take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave their last full measure of devotion.”  We can do no less.  It is how we can honor the sacrifices of those who have gone before us.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” This is not the time to remain silent.  Although platforms such as YouTube are taking down any dissenting voices (should be a red flag that free speech is being violated) cries for freedom should not be silenced.

The Declaration of Independence guarantees us certain unalienable rights given to us by our Creator, not our government, and “that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  It also goes on to say that “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,”  Nothing could be clearer.

Did we consent?  and to what?  we gave up our freedoms so willingly, so trustingly, trusting they were not taken from us, we gave them up briefly as a sacrifice for our fellowman, trusting that because we had freely given them up they were ours to freely take back when we should so choose.

But betrayal never enters by the front door.  While we were all watching what the right hand was doing the left hand was at work in another way.  I grieve today, on this day that should be a celebration of our freedom, full of traditions that are not being observed because of, because of what, because of fear?

In any conflict there is collateral damage.  It is no different in this COVID-19 conflict.  There is massive collateral damage.  The cost has not yet been fully counted because the price is still being paid on a daily basis.  It is being paid by the thirty-three million plus unemployed, hungry, homeless, by those not receiving medical screenings and treatments, medical care for cancer and other illnesses, children not receiving immunizations, those who are isolated, separated from loved ones they might not see again,  there is a cost we are refusing to count until it is too late  . . .

Stopping the living from living has no power to stop the dying from dying.  When it is my time to die I don’t want to realize that I was not free to live my life when I was alive, that I was not truly living.  Kind of like an early death.

Patrick Henry understood that very well.  In his speech at the 1775 Virginia Convention he said “Give me liberty or give me death!”  What followed were the Revolutionary War and the birth of our country, the United States of America.

It is fitting this Memorial Day that I remember the sacrifices of my grandfather and all the others throughout history who have defended our freedoms.  This Memorial Day it is my prayer that their sacrifices have not been in vain, that our Constitution still stands, that good men will not remain silent while our freedoms are taken away and that freedom will ring from church bell to church bell, from baseball field to baseball field, from county fair to county fair, from concert to concert, from Broadway to Boston Pops –

let freedom ring!

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”  (2 Corinthians 3:17)

let freedom ring!

sincerely,       Grace Day

 

 

 

 

 

Corona Chronicles-True Confessions#45

We were not created for isolation – we were created for community.  That’s why solitary confinement is a punishment.  That’s why “go to your room” is a child’s punishment.  Being separated from those we love is a punishment.  It is intended to break us down.  It does provide time for reflection, for sure.  So I must confess that when everything else has been taken away,  I find myself asking the same question King David asked so many centuries ago when he cried out,

“Whom have I in heaven but You?  And earth has nothing I desire besides You.  My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.   . . .    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all Your deeds.”    (Psalm 73:25-28)

And with David, I too say of the Sovereign Lord, Creator of all the universe, my Heavenly Father –

You are my all in all, You are everything to me.

You are the Lifter of my head.

“But You are a shield around me, O Lord; You bestow glory on me and lift up my head.”     (Psalm 3:3)

You are the Opener of my eyes.

“Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in Your law.”  (Psalm 119:18)

“Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes.  Immediately they received their sight and followed Him.”  (Matthew 20:34)

You are the Holder of my hand.

“For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”   (Isaiah 41:13)

You are the Consoler of my soul.

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”   (Psalm 34:18)

You are the Director of my paths.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths.”   (Proverbs 3:5-6)

“I am the Lord your God,  . . .   who directs you in the way you should go.”  (Isaiah 48:17)

You are the Forgiver of my sins.

” ‘Come now, let us reason together,’ says the Lord.  ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.’ ”   (Isaiah 1:18)

You are the Collector of my tears.

“You keep track of all my sorrows.  You have collected all my tears in Your bottle.  You have recorded each one in Your book.”   (Psalm 56:8)

You are the Maker of my manna.

“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I will rain down bread from heaven for you.’   . . . The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.”   (Exodus 16:4 & 35)

You are the Healer of my diseases.

“Praise the Lord, O my soul,  . . .   who forgives all your (my) sins and heals all your (my) diseases,”   (Psalm 103:2-3)

You are the Protector of my life.

“You hem me in – behind and before; You have laid Your hand upon me.”  (Psalm 139:5)

You are my Rescuer from the pit.

“He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.”  (Psalm 40:2)

You are my Redeemer from death.

“I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand upon the earth.  And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see Him with my own eyes – I, and not another.  How my heart yearns within me!” (Job 19:25-27)

You are the changer of my heart.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”   (Ezekiel 36:26)

You are the Hearer of my heart’s deepest cries.

“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.”  (Isaiah 65:24)

“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; He delivers them from all their troubles.”  (Psalm 34:17)

You are the Giver of all good gifts.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”  (James 1:17)

You are the Hope of the hopeless.  You are my hope.

“Then you will know that I am the Lord; those who hope in Me will not be disappointed.”  (Isaiah 49:23)

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”   (Isaiah 40:31)

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”   (Romans 15:13)

sincerely,          Grace Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

C.C. a seat at my Father’s table #44

I may not be able to get a good seat at a popular restaurant anytime I want (of course at the moment no one can get a good seat because restaurants are closed) but I can take comfort in the assurance that I have a seat at my Father’s table.  I guess thinking about eating out isn’t so unusual during this time of COVID-19 imposed closure of restaurants and shutting down of all family get togethers and celebrations such as weddings, all of which would include feasts, food, barbecues, banquets, picnics in the park and fancy dining of all kinds.  Being invited to share a meal with others is the height of acceptance and inclusion in any culture.

This got me to thinking about The Last Supper and my Father’s table.  My Father’s table is a table of remembrance, a table of things past, a shadow of things to come, a table of preparation for the future, of preparation for the wedding feast yet to be celebrated – it is a table of inclusion, it is a table of abundant provision, it is a table of fellowship and of sweet communion – and I am invited!

It is not a pitch-in, this banquet.  Jesus told us He is the Bread of Life and He is. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.”  (John 6:35) Jesus will provide the food.  Abraham told his son, Isaac, that “God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering,” (Genesis 22:8)  And God provided a ram caught by its horns in a thicket.

Good thing, God is the Provider of the Table, because my hands are empty.  I bring nothing to the table.  I have nothing good to offer up.  And I am wearing filthy rags.  But my Father,who issued the invitation, says to me, “come as you are, My child.  My righteousness will clothe you.”

“I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.  For He has clothed me with garments of salvation and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.”   (Isaiah 61:10)

I breathe a sigh of relief.  His righteousness will clothe me!  I am free to accept His invitation to dine at His table.  My Father’s table is a table with a history.  Jesus ate the Passover meal, which became The Last Supper, at that table with His disciples. (a meal which turned out to be “the first supper” of many until He returns)

“do this in remembrance of Me.”, Jesus said to His disciples.  The Passover itself, is a meal of remembrance, as is now The Last Supper or the Lord’s Supper, which we also call communion.  When Jesus took the bread, gave thanks, broke it and gave it to His disciples He said, “This is My body given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” (Luke 22:19)

How often had Jesus broken bread with His disciples before that Last Supper in the upper room?  They had seen Jesus do this many times, this breaking and this blessing of the bread.  The feeding of the five thousand and the feeding of the four thousand were two of the more memorable occasions when they had witnessed Jesus presiding over His Father’s table.  The sequence was always the same,

“When He (Jesus) had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, He broke them and gave them to His disciples to set before the people, and they did so.”  (Mark 8:6)  That Last Supper with His disciples gathered around His Father’s table was no exception.  Jesus did what He had done so many times before,

“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to His disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is My body.’ ”  (Matthew 26:26)  Jesus’s pattern of taking the bread, giving thanks for the bread, breaking the bread and then giving the bread to be shared, played out once again at the Last Supper with an additional twist.

Jesus, having already identified Himself as the Bread of life, now made sure His disciples knew that this bread was to represent His body which would soon be broken for them on the cross.  And there was something else, too.

“Then He took the cup, gave thanks and offered  it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it, all of you.  This is My blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’ ”  (Matthew 26:27-28)

The purpose of the Passover meal had always been for those who partook of it, for those who participated in it, to remember – to remember how God had delivered them from slavery in Egypt to freedom in the Promised Land – and now the Last Supper was to be a meal for remembering also – for all who would come to the Lord’s table to remember this new deliverance that was about to take place before their very eyes.

The disciples and all of humanity with them, were about to be delivered once and for all from sin to salvation, from death to life, from the temporal to the eternal – a deliverance made complete at Jesus’s cross.  From this meal forward, the Lord’s Supper would be a meal of remembrance.  My Father’s table is a table of remembrance.

“For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.”   (1 Corinthians 11:26)

“until He comes.”  My Father’s table is a table of hope, a shadow of things to come.  Jesus is  coming back!  Until He does, when we come to my Father’s table we remember what He did for us on that cross and we rejoice that our price is paid, our redemption complete.  My Father’s table is a table of rejoicing.

We are able to rejoice when we remember what Jesus did for us on that cross. Remembering makes rejoicing possible.  All their lives, the Passover meal had been the disciples’ ritual of remembrance.  But now, from this day forward, this last Passover meal eaten with Jesus would become their new ritual of remembrance. This, their last supper would become the Lord’s Supper or communion.

Communion is a fitting description of my Father’s Table.  I participate in community with others as I partake of my Father’s provision for me.  In the process I am connected to Him and connected to the others at the table with me. We have communion with God and with each other as we share the Lord’s table together.

This present day table is but a shadow of the table that awaits us in heaven.  “Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!’ ”  (Revelation 19:9)

Until then, I have a seat at my Father’s table here.  My Father’s table is a table of protection and of provision, as well as of remembrance and of rejoicing.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.”  (Psalm 23:5)

“You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”  (Psalm 16:11)

how grateful I am to have a seat at my Father’s table,

sincerely,       Grace Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corona Chronicles-True Confessions#43

Sunday again – well now it’s Monday actually – I confess, that’t all the further I got yesterday – two words.  I walked in the rain yesterday, which has a certain charm and a soothing pleasantness all its own to be sure – (it was a gentle, pitter-patter kind of a rain) but it was sad and it was silent and it was Sunday, again.

I wanted to cry out “how long?  O Lord”,  “how many more Sundays with church doors closed?”  And I did, but it is not for me to know the beginning from the end, I didn’t stretch out the heavens like a canopy or set the seasons in motion.  I must walk on in faith, both literally and figuratively,

“but the righteous will live by his faith -”  (Habakkuk 2:4)  So I continued my rainy Sunday morning walk while wondering how many more silent Sundays there will be?    I thought about these words from Habakkuk 3:17-18,

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength; He makes my feet like the feet of a deer, He enables me to go on the heights.”

That’s what I needed yesterday, that’s what I need today – to be lifted up, to go on the heights, to gain a new perspective – things look very different from the mountaintop than they do from the pit because the view is so different. Perspective is everything.

My view is so limited by time and space.  My Heavenly Father’s eyes see it all in one glance.  All of time, all of space – what was, what is and what is to come.  It would make more sense to trust Him than to “lean to my own understanding.”  (Proverbs 3:5)

“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.”   (Isaiah 55:9)

I didn’t get an answer to my “how long?  O Lord” question of yesterday (which is also my question everyday lately – maybe I need to ask a new question?) so I will just have to continue forward in faith for now.

Today it’s Monday and it is raining still.  The song “Rainy Days and Mondays always get me down” is playing in my mind while I wish for the sunny mountaintop view.  But there is One who is able to lift my head, which lifts my view, which changes my perspective  . . .

“But You are a shield around me, O Lord; You bestow glory on me and lift up my head.”   (Psalm 3:3)

“I lift up my eyes to the hills – where does my help come from?  My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”   (Psalm 121:1-2)

yes, where or what I choose to lift up my eyes to makes all the difference in my day. Today I will look to these words from Psalm 118:24,

“This is the day the Lord has made; let us (I will) rejoice and be glad in it.”

sincerely,        Grace Day

 

Corona Chronicles-True Confessions#42

today’s confession is one common to us all, it is part of the human condition and we share this confession on multiple levels.  It is particularly pertinent and poignant during this time of crisis that the corona virus has visited on our world. It is this – I am hungry.

Even as I write this, I realize that hunger was already a daily reality for many people around the globe and right here in the U.S. before any of us had even heard of the COVID-19 virus.  And now hunger is increasing as people lose their jobs and slip into poverty, which for many is just one lost paycheck away.

But my hunger today is not due to lost wages or to restaurants being closed for so long or from grocery store shelves being less than fully stocked. No, today I am hungry for hugs, for hand holding, for handshakes, for high fives, for human contact that is not virtual.

Not all hunger is physical.  There is a hunger of the soul and of the spirit.  We know, even without the studies confirming it, that babies do not do well if they are not held and touched and talked to.  Without human touch and interaction, newborn babies fail to thrive, even resulting in death.

No wonder physical isolation is not good for people of any age.  From newborn to senior citizen, we never stop needing the human touch.  We were created for community, not for solitary confinement.

But there is another kind of hunger.  It is a hunger that can leave you desperate and searching, restless and unsatisfied, craving what you cannot call by name because you don’t know what it is.

Just as food satisfies physical hunger, sustaining life, and human touch satisfies our soul hunger for connection, bringing us life, there is a hunger deeper than both of these – a spiritual hunger that our Creator alone can satisfy in us.  And He promises in Matthew 5:6 that He will fill our spirits, that we will not go hungry.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me will never go hungry, and he who believes in Me will never be thirsty.’ ”   (John 6:35)

“The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.  . . .  You open Your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”  (Psalm 145:13, 16)

I love these promises of God saying that He will meet the needs of my spiritual hunger and thirst.  And not just a bare minimum provision does He promise to provide – no, these verses use the words, “be filled”, “never go hungry  . . . never be thirsty” and “satisfy the desires.”   Jesus tells the woman at the well in John 4:13,

“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Philippians 4:19 assures me, “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus fed the multitude (five thousand) with five loaves of bread and two fish and still there were twelve basketfuls of food left over after everyone had eaten their fill.  The Israelites had manna every morning for forty years without fail.  My Heavenly Father is able to satisfy my physical hunger, my hunger for connectedness and relationship and my deepest spiritual hunger to know Him.

He is a God of abundance and provision.  “You have made known to me the path of life; You will fill me with joy in Your presence, with eternal pleasures at Your right hand.”   (Psalm 16:11)

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”  (Psalm 23:1)  I like how the Living Bible translates this verse,  “Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!”

truly, I will not want – I need not go hungry –

sincerely,         Grace Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corona Chronicles-True Confessions#41

Today I got to realize a life long dream, I got to live out a secret fantasy of mine – sort of.  Today I had the privilege of playing Santa Clause and Secret Agent at the same time. That’s because what I was doing today necessitated merging those two skill sets and identities together into one person.  Today that person was me!

It’s not like I haven’t had years of on the job training for at least one of those roles. (no, not Secret Agent)  but – the role of Santa Clause, yes.  Back in the day, I was Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy all rolled into one person. And those duties were carried out mostly successfully over a period of some years.  I’ve had plenty of on the job training and experience for sure.

Actually the tooth fairy was the trickiest role of the three, if you ask me, because it required a touch of the Secret Agent skill set to get the job done successfully.  I had some failed and some aborted missions trying to execute my duties as tooth fairy, come to think of it. Nevertheless, all that past experience helped prepare me for the mission I found myself on today.

Today I was part of a mission of mercy.  I was one of many agents.  We were all working together to execute the overall objective of the mission.  I was just one piece of the larger puzzle, but every piece has to execute to precision in order to ensure success.  Every piece has to know where he/she fits in to the bigger picture and then blend in by doing his/her part.

It all started with an email several days ago.  I responded in the affirmative and was told I would receive further information in an email yet to come.  When I received that email and responded by not responding, I then received final instructions necessary to carry out the mission, including classified information such as names, addresses and phone numbers.

I was told where and when to report and advised not to exit my vehicle at that time under any circumstances.  I printed off the email so as to have the critical information with me and drove to the rendezvous location, arriving at the appointed time.  As instructed, I remained in my vehicle while several masked men and women loaded large trash bags, partially full, into the back of my car, then disappeared back into the building from which they had come.

Conversation wasn’t necessary.  I was now on my own, entrusted with completing this final phase of the mission.  Many had performed their tasks prior to my arrival.  The preparing of the contents and the filling and the labeling of the trash bags had all been executed to perfection.  The identifying of the targets, the locating of the targets’ whereabouts, communicating with the targets – these critical parts of the mission had all been completed as part of the groundwork that was expertly laid, making the final execution of this mission not only possible but ensuring that it was safely and securely and successfully carried out.

That was my part of the mission – to discover the different destinations and to deliver the goods – all with no human contact and in a timely manner, as the trash bags contained time sensitive materials.  Get in and get out – that is the objective. The targets/recipients never lay eyes on me and likewise I don’t see them either. No identities are compromised during the execution of this highly sensitive mission.

As I drove around, seeking out each targeted destination, I definitely felt like a Secret Agent on a top secret mission.  And a little like Santa Clause too, although I didn’t have to go down any chimneys.  “The drop” was to be made at the front door of each targeted destination, then I was to drive away after confirming by phone that the target was home to receive the “goods.”

What could be more inconspicuous than an ordinary trash bag on a front porch? Genius!  And how great did I feel after all my “drops” went down successfully?  (that was a rhetorical question, no answer will be given)  So today I confess – I really like this Secret Agent/Santa Clause assignment and I look forward to doing lots more of these food deliveries for my church.

I am so thankful for all the hardworking “secret agents” behind the scenes, preparing the food, organizing the deliveries, enlisting the volunteers and providing them with all the information necessary to make this food drop operation work.  I felt so privileged today to participate in this ongoing outreach and care ministry that Brookside Church is doing right now, for such a time as this.

“For I was hungry and you gave Me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave Me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited Me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after Me, I was in prison and you came to visit Me.  Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry  . . . or thirsty  . . .  or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison and go visit You.’  The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me.’ ”   (Matthew 25:35-40)

today, as with every day during this pandemic shutdown, the church has left the building – because the church is not the building – the church is the people – and the people are out there being the hands and feet of Jesus to this hurting world – what joy to be a part of that today!

sincerely,     Grace Day

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corona Chronicles-True Confessions#40

pandemic ponderings – that’s all this is – I confess it now, up front.

why does time drag on so slowly when we are young but then speed past us way too fast when we are older?   first we want to speed time up, then we want to slow time down  . . .  we are never satisfied are we?

why are two people in a boat ok but three people in that same boat are breaking the law?

the pandemic has done a lot for germaphobes, elevating their status and making germaphobes the new cool ones,

the pandemic has also made it possible for “closet germaphobes” to come out into the open without fear of ridicule, they don’t have to hide their behaviors anymore

and the pandemic has created new germaphobes by turning those who are not nor never have been germaphobes into brand new germaphobes

germaphobes are no longer a pitied minority but are now a powerful majority – they are the new ruling class, so to speak

germaphobes are the heroes of this pandemic, the new role models for all of us –

behavior that might have been labeled bizarre in the past is now heralded as the new healthy behavior we all should be emulating – this would include frequent handwashing (which used to be labeled as excessive and as eccentric behavior) avoidance of touching others and surfaces, manifested by not punching elevator buttons or opening doors or shaking hands or by wearing winter gloves all year round and wearing them indoors (none of which will be considered odd behavior anymore)

germaphobes will no longer be thought to suffer from OCD ( I always want to call it OCDC, probably because of the group AC/DC, remember them?)

if germaphobe is now the new normal does that mean the old normal was what? germ lover?  germ embracer?  germ disregarder?

well, COVID-19 has created a population peopled with germaphobes – I don’t know if that means we are ready to face COVID-19 in battle or simply that the virus has succeeded in filling us all with fear (which is what a phobia is, fear of something) leaving us perplexed (not thinking rationally) therefore paralyzed and powerless to fight against this virus effectively –

COVID-19 further demonstrates how effective its fear strategy has been in that we are often found to be fighting against each other rather than this virus – a brilliant tactical move by our enemy –  fear is a multifaceted weapon, after all – effective against an enemy in a multitude of ways.

but I don’t want to live full of fear, that is no way to live, (if it can even be called living?)  I want to live life full of compassion, full of courage, full of hope and faith and love – all the things necessary to live life to its fullest.

one last confession is in order at this point, I believe  – technically I think germaphobe is incorrect in the case of COVID-19 – the more correct term would be virusaphobe – but I have never heard that term used before, so will stick with the more familiar word -germaphobe

so how do we defeat this invisible enemy?  how do I do daily battle with this invisible virus?  this enemy has already struck many blows to me and succeeded in disarming me by taking many things from me.

It started by taking my job.  The virus took that from me and with the loss of a job other losses quickly follow.  The loss of income, the loss of ability to pay bills and provide for one’s family, the loss of purpose, daily routine and way to contribute to society all contribute to the demise of the virus’s victims.

Stripped of all these protections, the virus next isolates its victims.  That opens the door for anxiety and depression to enter in, attacking their victim while at his most vulnerable.  Yes, this virus disarms and then destroys lives, one way or another.  If it can’t make contact with you physically, it will just destroy your life with loss and fear.  It will consume you with all you are required to do to avoid contact with it.

As long as COVID-19 can keep me hiding out at home – the victory belongs to the virus.  It does not want me to take back my life.  That’s how it wins – this virus holds us hostage.  When will the tide turn in this war, we wonder?

I am comforted and encouraged to persevere in this pandemic by the words in Psalm 3:3-4 & 8,  and from the words in Psalm 28:7,

“But You are a shield around me, O Lord; You bestow glory on me and lift up my head.  To the Lord I cry aloud, and He answers me from His holy hill.  . . .  From the Lord comes deliverance.  May Your blessing be on Your people.”

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song.”

today all I need is to remember these words from Deuteronomy 20:4,

“For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

the ultimate victory over COVID-19 and over every other enemy past, present or future is God’s –

“I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.  Where, O death, are your plagues?  Where, O grave, is your destruction?”  (Hosea 13:14)

“He will swallow up death forever.  The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; He will remove the disgrace of His people from all the earth.  The Lord has spoken.”   (Isaiah 25:8)

sincerely,         Grace Day