Just this morning I ran across an old Facebook post on someone’s timeline. By old, I mean about three months old. It was of a letter from a political candidate who was predicting food shortages, lack of police officers; basically, general chaos moving into the fall and winter of 2021. The predictions were the typical fear-mongering, laced with a smattering of Biblical references to make the whole thing sound like the coming Apocalypse, and that this was prophecy. Cue the air raid claxons and the faint voices of monks chanting in the background.
As I pray through the Morning Prayers, I most often choose to end the prayer with the verses from Ephesians, which read, “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen..” Ephesians 3:20-21
Hope that focuses on an end to things is hope that is focused inward. Hope that focuses on an end to things is hope that expects a brighter future, but does not see that future around it in the present reality. Hope that focuses on an end to things is not a hope that lives in the reality of a future that is promised but not yet manifested.
“Too many of you are competing to sit at a table that Jesus would have flipped over.” Some random meme Recently, that meme popped up on my Facebook feed, and I hadRead More…
It’s Paul’s approach that I find interesting here as well. He basically tells his listeners that he didn’t come with big, fancy words, but with the basic concept of a crucified Lord. It was the story of a God who humbled himself, and was humiliated by the powers of this world. It was the story of a God who died for those he loved. It was the story of a Christ who presented his weaknesses to the world to show them the strength of his desire to redeem them. And Paul did all of this while he, himself, was afraid, trembling in the fear of his own weaknesses. But that’s what Paul wanted. His approach was to let others see the power of God in his actions, and not in his fancy and persuasive words.
When we make the armor of God about protecting ourselves, and our own minds, we begin to see the world in black and white, we begin to see the world in right and wrong, and we look for justifications to make sure that we are always “in the right.” And when we do that, we surround ourselves with people and with information that feeds upon those self-justifications. This then turns into an Us vs. Them mentality, and when we claim Christ as our mascot, our whole worldview turns into the idea of the Christ who agrees with us as Christ against Culture instead of Christ with Us, or Christ among us.
And they took offence at him. His very presence in the synagogue, “pretending” to be a spiritual leader, incited their wrath, and they were scandalized by his presence there as one who would presume to teach them.
They knew him from when he was but a boy, and here he was taking on more authority than he ought to, more than he was allowed to, given his history, given what they knew about him.
And the result, Mark says, is that he did not do many works of power there. Instead, Jesus marveled at their disbelief.
The paralyzed man stood up, picked up his bed, and walked away. And all those present were filled with awe and amazement, and they said, “We have seen strange things today.” After having been told that the people were filled with amazement and awe, and were glorifying God, these people then said what amounts to, “Yup. That was weird.”
The stark contrast between my beautiful weekend and the reality of Monday morning made me aware of how easy it is to lose the peaceful nature of those moments away from routine, and I wondered how beautiful it would be to experience those moments I experienced on the retreat in the normal routine of my life. I wondered if it would be possible to live in the mindset of the retreat in every moment.
I think most of us, when first reading this passage, can be excused for cocking our heads to the side and wondering out loud, “Could you be any more esoteric, Paul?” What exactly is he driving at with this comment about someone’s last will and testament? People change their wills all the time, don’t they? At least before they die, so why bring this up here? It seems, that Paul wants to again make the point that God had made a promise to Abraham, that all nations would be blessed through Abraham. And so, this discussion about a will is really about the ultimate provider of salvation – the law, or faith.