Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Hope in the Face of Difficulty

 Ephesians 1:1-14
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus: 2Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14this is the pledge of our inheritance toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

While I know that this letter might be written in Paul’s name by a later author, I am asking us to focus on the attitude of Paul that is so clearly evident in this writing. This letter is rooted in Paul’s captivity (3:1 & 4:1), but despite his difficulties it exudes hope and confidence. The prisoner writes of God “who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing”; the Jewish outcast celebrates God’s “adoption as his children through Jesus Christ”; the captive believes that “in him we have redemption”; and the poverty stricken preacher has “obtained an inheritance”.  

If Paul’s experience of the Spirit of God at work in his life can keep him positive, can we not also discover this? Following Jesus is an affirmation that light conquers darkness, and love triumphs over hate. Those followers of Jesus who see only sinfulness, corruption and despair, betray our faith in a God who overcomes evil with good. Instead of complaining about the things that are wrong – can we not put into practice the things that right. In this way we destroy evil in our world.  

To sing aloud though the day:
1.    Jesus bids us shine with a clear, pure light,
Like a little candle burning in the night;
In this world of darkness, we must shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.
2.    Jesus bids us shine, then, for all around,
Many kinds of darkness in this world abound:
Sin, and want, and sorrow—we must shine,
You in your small corner, and I in mine.
Susan B. Warner, pub.1868

Fifth Sunday after Trinity
36 The Power of the Gospel
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 225.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.

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