Week of Proper 5: Saturday, Year 1   10 comments

Above:  Salvador Dali’s Painting of the Crucifixion (1954)

God Permeates the Created Order

JUNE 17, 2023


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


2 Corinthians 5:14-21 (An American Translation):

It is Christ’s love that controls me, for I have become convinced that as one has died for all, all have died, and he died for all that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and rose again.

So from that time on, I have estimated nobody at what he seemed to be outwardly; even though I once estimated Christ in that way, I no longer do so.  So if anyone is in union with Christ, he is a new being; the old state of things has passed away; there is a new state of things.  All this comes from God, who through Christ has reconciled me to himself, and has commissioned me to proclaim this reconciliation–how God through Christ reconciled the world to himself, refusing to count men’s offenses against them, and entrusted me with the message of reconciliation.

It is for Christ, therefore, that I am an envoy, seeing that God makes his appeal through me.  On Christ’s behalf I beg you to be reconciled to God.  He made him who knew nothing of sin to be sin, for our sake, so that through union with him we might become God’s uprightness.

Psalm 103:1-12 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Bless the LORD, O my soul,

and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.

2 Bless the LORD, O my soul,

and forget not all his benefits.

3 He forgives all your sins

and heals all your infirmities.

4 He redeems your life from the grave

and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness.

5 He satisfies you with good things,

and your youth is renewed like an eagle’s.

6 The LORD executes righteousness

and judgment for all who are oppressed.

7 He made his ways known to Moses

and his works to the children of Israel.

8 The LORD is full of compassion and mercy,

slow to anger and of great kindness.

9 He will not always accuse us,

nor will he keep his anger for ever.

10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins,

nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.

11 For as the heavens are high above the earth,

so is his mercy great upon those who fear him.

12 As far as the east is from the west,

so far has he removed our sins from us.

Matthew 5:33-37 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,]

Again, you have heard that the men of old were told, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but you must fulfill your oaths to the Lord.’  But I tell you not to swear at all, either by heaven, for it is God’s throne, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great king.  You must not swear by your own head, for you cannot make one single hair white or black.  But your way of speaking must be ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’  Anything that goes beyond that comes from the evil one.


The Collect:

O God, your never-failing providence sets in order all things both in heaven and earth:  Put away from us, we entreat you, all hurtful things, and give us those things which are profitable for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.


I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

–The Presidential Oath of Office, verbatim form Article II, Section 1, of the Constitution of the United States of America

Some Christian traditions (such as the Quakers) take Jesus’ prohibition against swearing oaths literally.  So the Presidential Oath of Office, as the Constitution establishes it, grants the President the option of either swearing or affirming.  And, not to get off topic for long, “so help me God” at the end of the oath is a tradition, not a formal part of said oath.  Furthermore, Amendment XX, Section 1 (1933) establishes that the President’s term of office begins at Noon (regardless of what is happening on the dais at that time or how the Chief Justice delivers the oath) on January 20, which is Inauguration Day.  The Constitution is a treasure trove of fun civics facts.

Now, for my main idea:  God permeates creation.  We cannot evade God.

Swearing by God indicated that a person intended to fulfill a promise.  Swearing such an oath made God a party to the vow, and this was a serious matter.  Yet some wanted to preserve the appearance of seriousness without its substance.  Swearing by one’s head, for example, meant nothing, and swearing by Jerusalem or the heavens seemed to invoke God but did not; it was an evasion.  All of this superficial swearing constituted playing games.  Jesus cut to the chase, again; he said to be honest, to say what one means, and to mean what one says.

This is a timeless and valuable lesson.

Behind it lies a profound truth:  God is in Jerusalem, and the heavens, and everywhere else.  God permeates everything in creation.  And compartmentalization is a fool’s errand.  Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians that we must be reconciled to God and must live for Christ, who died for us.  So Christ is in everything for Paul.  We who claim to follow God must bless God with our attitudes, words, and deeds.

This is a difficult vocation, one possible to fulfill only by grace.  But God supplies that, fortunately.  The words of Psalm 139:6-11 fit this occasion:

6 Where can I go then from your Spirit?

where can I flee from your presence?

7 If I climb up to heaven, you are there;

if I make the grave my bed, you are there also.

8 If I take the wings of the morning,

and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,

9 Even there your will lead me

and your right hand hold me fast.

10 If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me,

and the light around me turn to night,”

11 Darkness is not dark to you;

the night is as bright as the day;

darkness and light to you are both alike.

This indicates mercy, does it not?  We, then, ought not to play mind and word games with God.  Instead, we have an obligation to seek out God in ourselves, those around us, and in nature, and to treat ourselves, each other, and nature with all such respect.  These indicate reverence for God, whether or not we swear or affirm.



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