Aloha Friday Message – February 15, 2013 – An Abundance of Grace

1307AFC021513 – An Abundance of Grace

Read it online here, please.

Deuteronomy 26:11“Afterward you may go and celebrate because of all the good things the LORD your God has given to you and your household. Remember to include the Levites and the foreigners living among you in the celebration.”

Luke 4:13When the devil had finished every temptation, he departed from him for a time. ([καιροῦ] |kairou| {kah-ee-rou} fitting season, season, opportunity, occasion, opportune time, the right moment)

All this past week I have been thinking of something we could call “The Doctrine of Endless Abundance.” In particular I was thinking about the expansion of trade first to the East – India and China mainly – and then to the West and the New World especially during the 19th century. From there the westward expansion gobbled up the landscape and incomprehensible volumes of natural resources. The Great Auk went extinct, American Bison (buffaloes) were nearly wiped out. Passenger pigeons disappeared. Huge swaths for forest were leveled, and even larger areas were decimated in next 120 years. Jules Verne posited that the riches of the sea would sustain the world for centuries. We know now that whales, seals, and any number of other species were harvested in astounding number because mankind believed there was an endless, undiminishable supply of all resources – anything created whether animal, vegetable, or mineral.

Once we finally caught on to the fact that this arrogant assumption was wrong, we started making small efforts at reversing the damage we had done. Some of those actions paid off. Many of those actions had little effect on restoring the ecologies so badly damaged by lust, gluttony, and greed. Today we know that nothing in any planetary or local ecosystem is limitless. We believed, in those days, that God’s favor toward his Creation ensured that anyone who pleased God in some way would be blessed with such abundance that the harvests would be bountiful enough that the carts carrying them off would be overflowing onto the road. (Psalm 65:11 for example.)

Today’s scriptures come from the readings for the First Sunday of Lent. Normally in this season there is a Series – some special set of topics around a common theme. I’ve been praying for that series for a long time, but it’s not going to happen; we will be continuing with the focus from the beginning of the year: Prayer. Along the way, the scripture for the messages on prayer will come mostly from the Lenten readings – perhaps not always from the Sunday reading, though. Through Lent and beyond we will be looking at different types of prayer, different formats of prayer, different reasons for prayer, and even different places for prayer. I don’t have any more information than that about what lies ahead. That said, let’s get to the gist of what needs to be stated today.

In the entire physical realm of the universe, there is a tendency to keep as much as possible of what there is, to keep going, and to eventually diminish – whether suddenly or gradually. Every physical thing in creation is subject to these “Natural Laws,” and that of course includes all the resources we can count up as wealth. Hence, Whoever trusts in his riches will fall, but the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.” (Proverbs 11:28) There is however one absolutely abundant resource in God’s Creation and that is God the Creator himself. God can supply all our needs (El Shaddai), God can and often does bless us beyond our capacity to measure those blessings, and of course God and only God can dispense Grace.

In the first passage from Deuteronomy (the book of the Bible with hundreds of promises), Moses is summarizing the Law for the People. In this extensive list of do’s and don’ts, The Lord inspires the author to set forth sort of a textbook on successful living. It’s a balanced approach which says, “If you do this, you’ll be blessed. I you don’t do this, you’ll be cursed.” It’s the same thing we tell our kids when their behavior starts to get out of hand: “Just remember, kiddo, there are going to be consequences!” Some consequences are good, some are not; the best kind of consequence – good or bad – is the “natural consequence.” That is a consequence that comes about as a reflection of God’s Law. Here in Deuteronomy God is saying that the right way to celebrate success is to share. The first-fruit is to be brought to God. With that done, we are to share our joy, our blessing, and our wealth with others, even those who are not our “kith and kin.” God never says to hoard it, hide it, or heap it up for ourselves. He always wants us to share so the whole world can see how generous God is by how generous his people are. Even though our Earthly blessings are finite, they carry in them the promise of the eternal richness found only in the presence of God.

Temptation of JesusIt was that eternal richness which God himself sacrificed by his incarnation. He emptied himself and was born in human form, was subject to every temptation, and gave himself as a ransom for us all. In the passage from Luke, we see that after trying three classic and formidable temptations on Jesus, Satan left Jesus alone – for a while. He could not tempt him to use his power to meet his basic needs such as hunger and thirst or to lust for what he could not have except by betraying his trust in God. He could not tempt him to place conditions on God’s providence by expecting with absolute certainty God to break his own rules – the physical laws of the universe. He could not tempt him to bow down and worship him, Satan, by “helping” him avoid the necessity of the Cross. Even after all of that, the Devil moved off and waited for a “more opportune time” to try to break Jesus’ resolve.

Beloved we are, and always have been, blessed with extraordinary graces and benefits. God calls upon us to recognize those things and to be grateful for them. Our filled and fulfilling lives are physical evidence of God’s spiritual evidence in this world. It is through these manifestations of his power, love, justice, and grace that others can encounter God. We care called to “be fruitful, multiply, and subdue [but not desecrate] the earth.” Some of us can empathize with the joys as well as the tears of others, even those we’ve never met. Some can bear remarkable suffering or find astonishing elation because of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

During this season of lent we are invited to set aside our masks – especially the ones we think God cannot see through – and to face the reality that we are, and always will be, tempted. Not surprisingly, we are most easily tempted when we forget that we are more blessed than we can be tempted. God always provides the power to resist temptation, but we do not always use that gift. Even if we realize that we do not have unlimited resources for dealing with the Devil, I think all of us know in our inmost self that we are overly-confident about our own power of resistance. The do’s and don’ts in this season are the same as in every other season: Do what you know is right, avoid doing what you know is wrong, and then ask God to bless that choice. Lent give us the opportunity to seriously weigh those decisions we often make way too lightly. We can usually acknowledge intellectually that it is pointless to try to hide from God, but in our secretly sinful lives we foolishly believe we can get away with it. We fall into Satan’s original trap: “You can be like God and forgive yourself. You don’t really need Him!” Ah, Beloved! We know better, but we fall for it anyway!

Therefore, this Lent, do what God calls upon us to do: Repent. Believe. Sacrifice. Do the right thing. Rejoice with him at Easter. Bring others to the celebration. And here’s a wee lit’le challenge for ye:  Instead of concentrating on what you’re going to give up for Lent (Be clear on whether it is a sacrifice – something to which you plan to return after Easter – or a repentance – something which you choose to eliminate from your life as a means to come closer to God.), and concentrate of something positive and good you can ADD to your life! It is a wonderful way to discover the unlimited abundance of God’s boundless Grace.

 

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

 

Share-A-Prayer

† PB, TO, JJ, JL, and JR: Recovery from addictions. Get into a home-life that will liberate them from that cycle of addiction and illness. Help them to honor their God and their parents.

Whatever, whenever, wherever, whoever, however, if ever, forever — at your service, Beloved.

† PB, TO, JJ, and JR: Recovery from addictions. Get into a home-life that will liberate them from that cycle of addiction and illness. Help them to honor their God and their parents.

chick

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

One Response to Aloha Friday Message – February 15, 2013 – An Abundance of Grace

  1. Chick, our overabundance of GRACE is always possible because Jesus does infinitely love all of us. We are so blessed to be living on this very beautiful island, Kaua’i. In these troubling times, we see God calling all of us to do a little more for our friends and neighbors.

    I pray for the victims of senseless violence on Guam, In California; Newtown, CT ; and Aurora, CO.

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