Out of the Woods

By Elaine Knudtson

jumping pound

“The Return”

The valley has been dark and deep,

But I heard your voice in the stillness.

The whispering wind chased the rippling creek,

and the season changed in an instant.

I felt your presence in the morning sun,

the darkness dissolved on the meadow.

The table of blessing before me was laid,

I feasted on joy and thanksgiving.

The dark, dry, places were watered anew,

my voice returned with your presence.

A songbird descended and rested by me.

Hallelujah!  Sing of his glory!

I have returned to the garden.

 

“The Choice”

By Elaine Knudtson

photography of woman surrounded by sunflowers
Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com

Genesis is the first book of the Pentateuch, traditionally ascribed to Moses.  The first three chapters of Genesis and the last three chapters of Revelation form a parenthesis around the story of God’s relationship with humanity.  Created in perfection, sin and death entered the world through disobedience.  From the beginning, God seeks to return us to the garden, even though it leads through the valley of the shadow of death to the cross.  We are imprinted with the image of God and a longing for the divine that haunts humanity from Adam and Eve through Noah and the patriarchs all the way to the final apocalypse.

 “The Choice”

The choice has been made. 

Like gods, we know good and evil. 

Banished from paradise,  darkness hides his face.

We labor in brokenness, calling to Death, “Who’s to blame?”

The Seed confronts evil with love.

Choose to dance in the symphony of creation.

Paint a rainbow after the monsoons of destruction.

Weave a tapestry of redemption with Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel. 

Retell the stories of promise in Egypt’s exile.

Ferment hope into the fine wine of  joy.

Dare to rise from the dead.

Transform our fallenness in the chrysalis of redemption, as we await the bloom of the new creation.

Where Eve failed, Christ has triumphed.

Restoration

By Elaine Knudtson

I am currently working on a collaborative project with Mindi Oaten, an artist who has painted a symbolic picture for each book of the Bible.  You can access her art on the following website:  www.mindioaten.com

My role is to “paint with words”, using the scripture as the basis for interpreting Mindi’s paintings.  The book of Haggai is a small Old Testament book written after the Jewish exile.  It is strangely pertinent to our situation with the COVID19 shut down.

Haggai | “Restores Our Worship”

God of Renewal

Now this is what the LORD Almighty says:  “Give careful thought to your ways.  You have planted much, but have harvested little. . . What you brought home, I blew away.  Why?” declares the LORD Almighty.  “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with his own house.  Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops.” (1:5-6; 9-10)

 Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people: “I am with you,” declares the LORD.  So the LORD stirred up the spirit of the whole remnant.  They came and began to work on the house of the Lord Almighty, their God. (1:13-14

 Who of you is left who saw this house in its former glory?  How does it look to you now?  Does it not seem to you like nothing?  But now be strong, . . .all you people of the land,” declares the LORD, “and work.  For I am with you,” declares the LORD Almighty.  This is what I covenanted with you when you came out of Egypt.  And my Spirit remains among you.  Do not fear.” (2:3-5)

 “The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,” says the LORD Almighty.  “And in this place I will grant peace.” (2:9)

 Haggai was a prophet during the time of Ezra.  The building of the temple stalled as people focused on their own priorities and lost sight of the work of the Lord.  They are asked to consider the consequences of ignoring the things of God by remembering the former glory before the exile.  The Spirit of the LORD charges them to be strong and fear not.  A promise is given of ultimate deliverance when the Messiah comes.  The “glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house.” (2:9)

 “Restoration” by Elaine Knudtson

 Give careful thought to former ways.

Remember the times of prosperity,

when the fruit trees bloomed and the harvest was plentiful,

before the enemy destroyed our peace.

We worshiped together.

Now all is silent.

The Spirit empowers.

Be strong.

Fear not.

I am with you.

Rebuild the temple.

Worship, and be restored.

Lent – Friday, Day 9

[Our] chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” (Westminster Confession)

Introduction

God created us to enjoy him and delight in his masterpiece.  That is often forgotten because of sin and death and alienation.  Jesus came to reunite us with that original purpose and to return us to the joy of living.  His first miracle was turning water into wine at a wedding.  John the Baptist described him as the bridegroom.  We are his bride.  Accepting Christ joins us to that original purpose of glorifying God and enjoying him forever.

Scripture

Deuteronomy 10:12-13, 17-22

12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?

17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. 18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. 19 Love the sojourner, therefore, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. 20 You shall fear the Lord your God. You shall serve him and hold fast to him, and by his name you shall swear.21 He is your praise. He is your God, who has done for you these great and terrifying things that your eyes have seen. 22 Your fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.

John 3:27-30

27 John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ 29 The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.”

Reflection

God’s ultimate purpose is to restore us to fellowship with him so we can live in the fullness of joy intended for us at creation.  We lose our focus because of the unpredictability of life’s circumstances.  Sin and unbelief make us susceptible to alienation from our creator, but Jesus came to reconnect us to the eternal and invite us back into joy.  When we look at the faithfulness and love or our unchanging God, we can delight in the beauty of this life and experience his pleasure. “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Rom 11:36)

The Source

Ice floats under the bridge, escaping the snow-capped Rockies on its journey to the ocean,

Ever changing, ever the same, the flow of time from the source to the destination;

Alpha and Omega eternally linked by the living water.

I stand at a single moment, susceptible to the forces of change,

Helpless to affect the flow.

“I lift my eyes unto the hills from whence does my help come?”

Time scars the riverbed and distracts my focus, but at this moment,

I stand above the circumstances, delighting in the privilege of being present in the now.

Prayer

mountains.jpg

Lord, you are delighted to share the beauty of creation with us.  We are your bride, showered with love and privilege.  When we acknowledge that we come from you, live through you and ultimately return to you, we can rest in that love.  As children, we experience the joy of being alive. All glory and praise to you our Christ.  Amen

Cathedral Hymns

By Elaine Knudtson

Sacred spaces create an impression that resonates with the Spirit within us.  Paying attention to these promptings connects us with “groans that words cannot express” (Rom. 8:26).  The following compilation was written as I visited various sites throughout Europe this summer, ending with the return to my own congregation in Cochrane.

Canterbury Cathedral – England

canterbury

“Good morning, come on in,” she smiled, as she extended her hand at the entrance to the chancel.

No longer a tourist, but a member of the communion of saints who have walked through these gates for one thousand years.

I’m breathless, near tears as I hear in those words the voice of Jesus inviting me in.

No Cost.

No expectations.

Seated just below the high altar prepared for the holy feast.

I am only one in the stream of tens of thousands who have made the pilgrimage to Canterbury.

I can hear the clip clop of horse’s hooves on the cobblestones just outside.

Is that the echo of centuries past?

I am one with them; a pilgrim welcomed into the Kingdom.


 

“The Sagrada Família is a one-of-a-kind temple, for its origins, foundation and purpose. Fruit of the work of genius architect Antoni Gaudí, the project was promoted by the people for the people. Five generations now have watched the Temple progress in Barcelona. Today, more than 135 years after the laying of the cornerstone, construction continues on the Basilica and is expected to be completed in 2026.” (https://sagradafamilia.org/en/history-of-the-temple)

Sagrada Familia – Barcelona

sagrada familia

 

Vain-glorious tourists stage selfies affront the floral doors.

The niches of hope, love and faith respond in stony silence as voyeurs pass under the 21st century nativity.

Entering the stream, we flow into the basilica, anticipating archetypes stamped in our Gothic and Medieval consciousness.

But they are not there.

Flying buttresses explode into a canopy of leaves and branches, extended in praise to God.

Stained glass shatters into a kaleidoscope of liturgical hues,

capturing each season in shadows on the floor and ceiling.

An organ infuses the space,

inviting worshipers to enter an island in the center of the sanctuary.

Most pass by,

but we are drawn by the transcendent Christ,

floating beneath the canopy above the altar,

eyes lifted to the Father in a sacrifice of praise.

This is a masterpiece of faith

begun a century ago by artisans

offering their vision to our generation.

An elevator ascends the tower,

reminding us that we are in a virginal space,

not yet complete.

It is a throne room fit for the marriage of the King.

What glory to be here on the last day.

I pass through the exit to the Passion facade on the other side.

Looking back I witness a solitary man wiping his eyes in the front pew.

The unseen presence has transformed this tourist into a pilgrim.


St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice has existed since 829 A.D.  It is an example of Byzantine architecture with gold mosaics and inlaid marble floors.  The four horsemen of the Apocalypse look down on tourists from their pedestal above the front doors. The treasures of the crusades are housed in the treasury as ancient relics of silver and gold.  The dome extends 4240 metres above the piazza known as San Marco Square. I looked for a sanctuary in this dark space, but nothing connected with my spirit until an elderly Italian woman sat beside me in a side chapel.  

St. Mark’s Basilica – Venice

Rain in Venice?

Ecstasy denied.

San Marco fades into a sarcophagus encasing stolen relics of the Crusades:

Dead fingers, broken bones, twisted chalices.

There is no glitter on golden mosaics without the sun.

Faith is mocked.

Hope is dulled.

Love is silenced.

Deftly, I retreat to a side chapel,

longing for inspiration in this dark tomb.

An old woman presses next to me.

“English”? she queries.

I nod.

She smiles.

The exhortation begins in unbroken Italian.

I am her chosen confessor.

We connect through out eyes by a Spirit that interprets tongues.

A candle flickers.

The spell is broken.

“What was that?” Paul asks, as we return to the rain-soaked piazza.

Just then she grabs my arm from behind,

using me to mount the elevated sidewalk,

before disappearing down the narrow side street.

“I think I just met my angel,” I smiled.


All Saints Anglican Church is an active English-speaking congregation in the heart of Rome, close to the Spanish steps.  It was visited February 25, 2017 by Pope Francis as an extension of ecumenical spirit by the Vatican.  After visiting the opulence of St. Peter’s, it was renewing to find a quiet space, free from tourists.

 

All Saint’s Anglican Church – Rome

Ancient temples, transformed to Christian shrines, replace many gods with one.

So many crucifixes,

So many Mary’s,

So many relics.

Among the competing edifices stands a lonely church.

There are no Michelangelo “Pieta”s, or DaVinci “Last Supper”s. 

Donatello did not forge a bronze Mary Magdalene as a sentinel to a defeated Christ.

Only an empty cross and six candlesticks grace the altar;

a reminder of the resurrected Lord.

I need to live in the light of Easter morning.

There are too many reasons to be caught in an endless loop of Good Friday remorse.

I need the major chords of the organ to strike the Hallelujah’s of “He is Risen.”,

To walk in the promise of eternal life, forgiveness, and hope.

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

Walk in the light.

Laugh more.

Fear no evil.

Christ has brought us to the other side.

Receive His Spirit with joy;

Sing praises,

leap for joy,

proclaim victory.

So much to be gained by pausing in this Anglican enclave in the city of popes.


Notre Dame is being reconstructed after the devastating fire of Holy week 2019.  We visited the site and contemplated again the angst generated around the world when we watched the steeple collapse.

Notre Dame – Paris

Notre Dame sits as a gutted shell; stripped of its history and beauty by a consuming fire. 

The foundation, hewn from ancient quarries, stands as a testament to the truth that God’s kingdom shall not pass away. 

Light shines on the cross behind the charred altar, reflecting the sun that has been filtered through stain glass for centuries. 

It’s raw, devastating, catastrophic. 

The treasures of the past have been destroyed and the world sits silently in sorrow, remembering its former glory.

The children of Israel wept when they saw the ruins of the temple in Jerusalem. 

The disciples wept when Jesus, the true rock, hung lifeless on the cross. 

We cry out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” when our lives are shattered by pain, loss and disappointment.

Yet, the foundation stands. 

And like the phoenix that rises from the ashes, hope will be reborn. 

What will be rebuilt will be stronger, more secure, because it has been purified in the crucible. 

The church will emerge from the flames of apostasy, scandal, and secularism and worship Christ on Easter Sunday in the shadow of the cross. 

For those with eyes to see and ears to hear,

God has shouted from the heavens this holy week the truth of death and resurrection. 

He is not silent. 

We gather our grief and stand stripped before the cross that reflects the light of the son.

We surrender our lives to the consuming fire of His holy spirit and ask to be remade in His image once again.


Veoy, Norway is an island near Molde, Norway.  We were there for a 70th birthday celebration of Paul’s cousin and celebrated author, Edvard Hoem.

20190721_104849

“Perspective from Veoy Island “

Iron crosses and moss-covered tombstones recline in the spongy knoll overlooking the fjord on Veoy Island.

I sit silently on a cornerstone, waiting to go inside, listening for Your voice in this strange land of Norway.

Their voices are the background hymn to the joy of reunion on this misty summer day near Molde.

I cannot speak their language, but the tone and posture captures the easy comfort of being together.

It was the home left behind by the immigrants who came to Canada–the place that haunted their dreams and combined with regret and hope in their memories.

Homesteading transformed roses into dandelions, fjords into prairies, and fish into gophers.

Out of nothing they built my life, content to surrender their past for my tomorrow.

Soon the bell will toll and we will file inside the stone church to worship with ghosts from the past.

I am in the stream of pilgrims who responded to an unnamed call to a distant land, stoked by a longing for something more.

I will never again visit this place.

The door will close behind opportunity forever.

But I will remember, just as they did, when I stare across the lonely prairie and hear their voices echoed in my relatives who sprang from their pilgrimage 100 years ago.

We will picnic on the banks of the coulee, remembering the fjords, and the wild roses, and will speak of the greater glory of this day.

But I will be home with you, and we will embrace as the prairie sun sets in the endless sky.


In Vienna, at St. Stephen’s Cathedral, Schubert’s mass was sung by the choir from the loft on the side.  The priest recited the liturgy from the front, and a schizophrenic beggar echoed his words from the back of the aisle behind us.  Suspended in the middle of all this, was a crucifix, lost between the chandeliers.  We went there on our 40th wedding anniversary.

-Postcard_of_Stephansdom-20000000016179526-375x500

Impressions from St. Stephen’s”

“Get me to the church on time,” we chuckled, holding hands, strolling through the mist on our way to St. Stephen’s.

40 years since our journey began “Beneath the Cross of Jesus”, surrounded by the saints who have passed through the veil.

We carry their torch of faith to the next generation as we enter the cathedral.

The high Gothic arches stretch like the fingers of God above our heads, encircling us below in the palm of His hand.

The Schubert mass echos in the hollow spaces between the ornate pillars, chiseled and carved to reveal the cherubs and legends of ancient rhymes.

Candles illuminate masterpieces, positioned like banners on the walls, proclaiming the gospel to the illiterate.

I choose to enter as a child: innocent and open to the presence of God in symbol and sound.

A holy triangle is formed between the altar, choir and madman at the gate.

Each speaks in liturgy, song and words too deep for groaning:

The priest recites

The choir crescendos

The madman babbles

together in union, independent of each other.

I stand at the center, between them, under the suspended wooden crucifix, obfuscated by chandeliers and masterpieces.

His breath unifies us all beneath that cross–the nexus of faith between the priest, the madman and the tenor.

Our eternal praise rises to the throne of heaven, surrounded by those saints who sat with us 40 years ago in our own cathedral as we began our sacred journey.


Ypres, Belgium was the epicenter of fighting during World War One.  The town was destroyed and many soldiers were lost in battle, never to return.  Each night the Last Post is sounded from the Menin gate, reminding everyone of the cost and horror of war.  The cathedral has since been rebuilt.  

menin gate

“Worship in Ypres”

The carillon tolls its welcome to travel-worn pilgrims recalling the days of old when God was silent.

A century to sanitize the memory and rebuild the streets that teemed with soldiers marching to the Western Front.

What prayers did they offer as they passed the dead and wounded carried back from the battle?

Whose side was God standing on in the trenches?

What language did He speak?

Or did He turn His face away in horror at our shame?

He who taught us the love of neighbour stood alone, in the blood-soaked mud beside those breathing their last, while the bullets and artillery scattered all others.

They fought for King and country and a mythical kingdom called home.

Answering the call to preserve their empires, they are silent now while those who fought are immortalized in eternal flames and the last post from Menin Gate.

How can I worship here against the backdrop of catastrophic hate? 

The beautiful cathedral has been rebuilt, in homage to the past, rising from the old foundations.

The crucified Christ slouches in the corner, unable to escape our sin as witnessed through the millenniums.

The true king waits, in the tear-soaked prayers of victims broken by the fall. 

Thy kingdom come.

20190804_113808


It is comforting to return home to my familiar space.  I bring all the experiences of transcendence that I have feasted on this year, enriched and renewed.  Yet, I remember that this place is not mine, but God’s and there will be visitors who enter into this church who may make me uncomfortable.  That is exactly what I should expect.  Hospitality is required of us all.

st. peters

“Sanctuary”

I knew him before his world collapsed.

He shuffled into church alone: needy, poor, broken.

Vulnerability alarms me.

Jesus descends into darkness and stretches his arms to embrace the world.

I approve, but not in this space.

Sickness is death,

Poverty is scarcity,

Mental illness is entanglement.

Keep these away from me.

I will pray for those in the world; I fear them in this space.

Their existence contrasts with my self-righteousness,

Revealing coldness, in-hospitality and fear.

Love is easy when it requires no interaction with the unlovely.

The beggar turns to me.

 “The peace of the Lord be with you,” he says as he extends his hand,

Exposing my poverty in this sanctuary.

The Parentheses

By Elaine Knudtson

20190809_103126Why won’t I weep when your child is born knowing his ultimate end?

Life is but a parentheses in the cosmic story, begun when the stars were flung into place.

The Almighty Word and Spirit danced in a kaleidoscope of humor, colour and sound,

Conjuring the skylark, zebra, octopus and rose.

Incomplete as a nursery without a child, we were conceived and born into time,

Free to think and choose and forget.

Loved risked rejection for the brief moments of our gratitude and praise.

Broken by mortality, we yearn for happiness as the sky darkens and the glory dies.

But shards of hope pierce the thunderclouds, removing the final parenthesis.

I will join in the cosmic dance; hope redeemed in glory.

And that is why I will laugh when your child is born.

European Cathedrals

By Elaine Knudtson

This summer we visited Europe.  During our three week stay, we always found ourselves drawn to the cathedrals and churches in each city or region.  It connects us with believers down through the ages in various parts of the world.  Our first week was in Molde, Norway, where Paul’s grandfather Eilert was born in the late 1800s.  The following week we listened to a Schubert Mass in St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Vienna, and finally, we completed our journey in Iper, Belgium, at a cathedral damaged during the First World War.  It was located in Flanders Fields, not far from the place where John Macrae penned his famous poem.

Three very different experiences joined together by prayer and liturgy; strange and yet oddly familiar, we felt part of something much bigger than ourselves.

20190721_104849
Veoy, Norway

(Worshippers gathered outside the Medieval Church near the graveyard waiting to get in)

“Perspective from Veoy Island “

Iron crosses and moss-covered tombstones recline in the spongy knoll overlooking the fjord on Veoy Island.

I sit silently on a cornerstone, waiting to go inside, listening for Your voice in this strange land of Norway.

Their voices are the background hymn to the joy of reunion on this misty summer day near Molde.

 

I cannot speak their language, but the tone and posture captures the easy comfort of being together.

It was the home left behind by the immigrants who came to Canada–the place that haunted their dreams and combined with regret and hope in their memories.

Homesteading transformed roses into dandelions, fjords into prairies, and fish into gophers.

Out of nothing they built my life, content to surrender their past for my tomorrow.

Soon the bell will toll and we will file inside the stone church to worship with ghosts from the past.

I am in the stream of pilgrims who responded to an unnamed call to a distant land, stoked by a longing for something more.

I will never again visit this place.

The door will close behind opportunity forever.

But I will remember, just as they did, when I stare across the lonely prairie and hear their voices echoed in my relatives who sprang from their pilgrimage 100 years ago.

We will picnic on the banks of the coulee, remembering the fjords, and the wild roses, and will speak of the greater glory of this day.

But I will be home with you, and we will embrace as the prairie sun sets in the endless sky.

 

-Postcard_of_Stephansdom-20000000016179526-375x500(Schubert’s mass was sung by the choir from the loft on the side.  The priest recited the liturgy from the front, and a schizophrenic beggar echoed his words from the back of the aisle behind us.  Suspended in the middle of all this, was a crucifix, lost between the chandeliers.  We went there on our 40th wedding anniversary)

Impressions from St. Stephen’s”

“Get me to the church on time,” we chuckled, holding hands, strolling through the mist on our way to St. Stephen’s.

40 years since our journey began “Beneath the Cross of Jesus”, surrounded by the saints who have passed through the veil.

We carry their torch of faith to the next generation as we enter the cathedral.

The high Gothic arches stretch like the fingers of God above our heads, encircling us below in the palm of His hand.

The Schubert mass echos in the hollow spaces between the ornate pillars, chiseled and carved to reveal the cherubs and legends of ancient rhymes.

Candles illuminate masterpieces, positioned like banners on the walls, proclaiming the gospel to the illiterate.

I choose to enter as a child: innocent and open to the presence of God in symbol and sound.

A holy triangle is formed between the altar, choir and madman at the gate.

Each speaks in liturgy, song and words too deep for groaning:

The priest recites

The choir crescendos

The madman babbles

together in union, independent of each other.

I stand at the center, between them, under the suspended wooden crucifix, obfuscated by chandeliers and masterpieces.

His breath unifies us all beneath that cross–the nexus of faith between the priest, the madman and the tenor.

Our eternal praise rises to the throne of heaven, surrounded by those saints who sat with us 40 years ago in our own cathedral as we began our sacred journey.

 

 

“Worship in Ypres”

The carillon tolls its welcome to travel-worn pilgrims recalling the days of old when God was silent.

A century to sanitize the memory and rebuild the streets that teemed with soldiers marching to the Western Front.

What prayers did they offer as they passed the dead and wounded carried back from the battle?

Whose side was God standing on in the trenches?

What language did He speak?

Or did He turn His face away in horror at our shame?

He who taught us the love of neighbour stood alone, in the blood-soaked mud beside those breathing their last, while the bullets and artillery scattered all others.

They fought for King and country and a mythical kingdom called home.

Answering the call to preserve their empires, they are silent now while those who fought are immortalized in eternal flames and the last post from Menin Gate.

How can I worship here against the backdrop of catastrophic hate? 

The beautiful cathedral has been rebuilt, in homage to the past, rising from the old foundations.

The crucified Christ slouches in the corner, unable to escape our sin as witnessed through the millenniums.

The true king waits, in the tear-soaked prayers of victims broken by the fall. 

Thy kingdom come.20190804_113808

 

Sunday Poems

By Elaine Knudtson

Each Sunday I sit quietly in my front room with a pen and journal letting the Spirit direct my thoughts while choral music plays in the background.  This is a precious time for me.  It resets my week and connects me to the sacred.  I have chosen several poems from my summer journal that I hope will find resonance with you.

Summer

Quiet my restless soul.

I am like a runner on the starting blocks of summer, waiting for the gun to sound.

So little time in Paradise.

Ripe fruit drips sweet nectar, seducing painted winged guests.

Grass ripples in velvet waves, cheering the breeze that skims across the prairie.

Song birds and chattering streams echo their harmonies in the amphitheatre of the river valley.

Prisms of light transform water into diamonds on the silver willow.

My skin warms to the sun, tickling my senses, reminding me of the first summer I ran naked through the fountain.

Summer is the stardust that converts the ordinary into the divine.

 

In His Image

Created in the image of God

Conformed to His likeness

Ruler over creation

Submissive to the glory of God,

In you I experience His love, gentleness and compassion.

I splash through the fountain of your love, delighting in your attention.

You are more gentle with me than I am with myself.

I skip lazily down each shaded pathway, confident that I will always hear the music of your love calling me safely home.

When I am surprised by the dogs of doubt, fear and despair,

You expose their toothless lies and empower me to embrace them.

Though I am often broken, you elevate me with your encouragement, comfort and love.

We are purveyors of God’s grace to each other, messengers of His mercy, ministers of His compassion.

When I seek the best in you, I find the best in me.

 

The Hope of Glory

By Elaine Knudtson

20190415_093622If you promised summer when I’d only known winter,

I’d laugh at the thought of leafless twigs transforming from black to green.

I’d ignore the promise of songbirds filling the silence of dark mornings.

I’d doubt that ice and snow could melt into puddles of crocuses, buffalo beans and dandelions;

That day could conquer night,

That the cold earth could become the cradle for new life,

That melancholy could give way to joy.

But then spring came.

Although rain, clouds and cool nights linger,

I begin to believe in miracles and start to listen to foolish promises of glory buried deep within the eternal hope.

I remember summer.

 

Romans 8: 19-21: The creation waits in eager expectation for the revelation of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not by its own will, but because of the One who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.…

 

The Choice

By Elaine Knudtson

Image result for adam and eve painting

And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food.  In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. . .

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’”

The woman said to the serpent.  “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

“You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.  She also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate it.”

And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil.  He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”  So the Lord banished him from the Garden of Eden. . . (Gen. 2:9; 3:1-6, 22-23)

The Choice

The choice has been made. 

We are like gods, knowing good and evil. 

The forbidden fruit tempts with eternal youth, beauty, happiness, fame and glory.

Consequences are revealed in aging, decay, despair, loneliness and mocking death.

Good confronts evil with love, creativity, joy, praise and eternal life.

I MAY choose the good:

                To dance in the light

                To harmonize with the symphony of creation

                To encourage and comfort the sojourner I meet on the way who has turned back                    in despair before encountering the true presence.

I WILL embrace the good:

                Seek the peace of God

                Imbibe on hope until I am drunk with the joy of the Lord

I DARE to rise from the death of mortal fears and stroke my aging skin, feeling the softness of your touch that reminds me that I am not alone.

We have chosen to accept the good and resist the allure of despair and death.

We see our sagging and creaky tent as a guarantee that we will be reborn,

Not to evil, but to good.

“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,” I will see the good.

The choice was made.

The curse of death arrived with my birth certificate.

Eternal life and goodness were secured in my baptism into His death and resurrection.

I live under the curse in a broken world with the hope of eternal life guaranteed by the one who gave me the choice in Eve.

Where she failed me, Christ has triumphed.

“See what love the Father have given us that we should be called children of God.”