Sunday 23 April 2020

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There is going to be a clarification of on whose side you are on over the next little while, before a restoration. This is a time when we are needing to be relentlessly cheerful and positive, because the narrative of this time is despair [1].

Kea at times tries to stop me going into a bleak spiral. I find that if I look at nice things helps. I find seeing the exotic cars that are being driven by people looking increasingly desperate in their worry about how to make their car payments helps cheer me up tremendously [2].

So, today, a fair amount of music. That helps as well.

Collect One

O God,
who declarest thy almighty power
most chiefly in shewing mercy and pity;
Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace,
that we, running the way of thy commandments,
may obtain thy gracious promises,
and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Isaiah 51:1-6

51 “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness,
Who seek the Lord:
Look to the rock from which you were hewn
And to the quarry from which you were dug.
2 “Look to Abraham your father
And to Sarah who gave birth to you in pain;
When he was but one I called him,
Then I blessed him and multiplied him.”
3 Indeed, the Lord will comfort Zion;
He will comfort all her waste places.
And her wilderness He will make like Eden,
And her desert like the garden of the Lord;
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
Thanksgiving and sound of a melody.

4 “Pay attention to Me, O My people,
And give ear to Me, O My nation;
For a law will go forth from Me,
And I will set My justice for a light of the peoples.
5 “My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth,
And My arms will judge the peoples;
The coastlands will wait for Me,
And for My arm they will wait expectantly.
6 “Lift up your eyes to the sky,
Then look to the earth beneath;
For the sky will vanish like smoke,
And the earth will wear out like a garment
And its inhabitants will die in like manner;
But My salvation will be forever,
And My righteousness will not wane.

NASB

Romans 12:1-8

12 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.

NASB

Matthew 16:13-20

13 Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” 15 He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” 20 Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ.

NASB

One of the other things that we do on mornings when we have time (you can tell that, because the lectionary does not go up at 6 am but when I’ve finished writing it) is put worship on — not using youtube [3], but a streaming service. No ads. No visual distraction. Low volume. We can talk. We can plan. We can worship. We can sing and play along. And that also makes me smile. Happiness is a choice, made daily.

Because rage is always there.

Neri’s quote that impressed me was: “A joyful heart is more easily made perfect than a downcast one.” It would be a conceit of the highest measure to think a single sentence I ever wrote would be quoted 400 years from now (though in my dreams I imagine there will be thousands of young students getting their degree in Wilder Wisdom Studies in the year 2356), but Neri absolutely nailed it with this line.

You have a choice. Be mad. Be sullen. Be angry. Be filled with wrath. Give up. Be jealous of those who have it better.

That’s five of the seven deadly sins (The seven deadly sins and society. How do they fit together?). Eat seven bacon cheese burgers and think about your neighbor mowing the lawn in a bikini and you’re up to the full seven. I mean, assuming your neighbor would look good in a bikini.

You don’t have to feel that way. At all. Ever.

Smile when you feel down.

When I was in college I had the opposite experience. I had one particular professor, one of the most fun professors ever. He was Swiss, and had been a mercenary in the 1950’s, and had done everything. I was his student, and when I was in grad school, I was his Teaching Assistant. His advice, coming between puffs of cherry-smelling smoke from his pipe?

“Keep smiling, John.”

A fair amount of the news and information we have at the moment is negative. Even in New Zealand, the Pravda is cracking as the lies become more blatant. There are people hurting. There are campaigns that need to be fought.

But we should have the high praise of God in our mouths and joy. Even in the fight: especially in the fight. Because we are not of this elite, and we have no wish to be like them

________________

1. You can call this evil. Netflix has gone too far (and I would not recommend clicking on that link around kids or at work)

2. I like exotic cars. But I don’t like how much it costs to keep them going. When I see a Ferrari, an old Jeep, a cool Holden FJ, a restored Morgan or Bentley, it makes me happy. I praise people who own one: they are happy, and I am happy for them. But driving a modern mercedes when you get more fun with a fiat 500? Nah.

3. I’ve dumped Netflix and Spotify. I can’t get worship easily from other sources but Youtube (hints will be gratefully received).