Week of Proper 6: Thursday, Year 1   3 comments

Above:  The Lord’s Prayer in Welsh

Source

“The Glory of the Power That is Love”

JUNE 17, 2021

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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.

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2 Corinthians 11:1-11 (An American Translation):

I wish you would put up with a little folly from me.  Do put up with it!  I feel a divine jealousy about you, for I betrothed you to Christ, to present you as a pure bride to her one husband.  But I am afraid that just as the serpent by his cunning deceived Eve, your thoughts will be led astray from their single-hearted fidelity to Christ.  For when somebody comes along and preaches another Jesus than the one I preached, or you receive a different spirit from the one you received or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough!  For I think that I am not in the least inferior to these superfine apostles of yours.  Even if I have no particular gifts in speaking, I am not wanting in knowledge.  Why, I have always made that perfectly clear in my dealings with you.

Do you think that I did wrong in degrading myself to uplift you, because I preached God’s good news to you without any compensation?  I robbed other churches, letting them pay me so that I could work for you!  And when I was with you and wanted money, I did not burden any of you, for when the brothers came from Macedonia they supplied what I needed.  So I kept myself, as I shall always do, from being a burden to you in any way.  By the truth of Christ that is in me, this boast of mine shall not be silenced anywhere in Greece.  And why?  Because I do not love you?  God knows I do.

Psalm 111 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Hallelujah!

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,

in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.

2 Great are the deeds of the LORD!

they are studied by all who delight in them.

3 His work is full of majesty and splendor,

and his righteousness endures for ever.

4 He makes his marvelous works to be remembered;

the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

5 He gives food to those who fear him;

he is ever mindful of his covenant.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works

in giving them the lands of the nations.

7 The works of his hands are faithfulness and justice;

all his commandments are sure.

8 They stand fast for ever and ever,

because they are done in truth and equity.

9 He sent redemption to his people;

he commanded his covenant for ever;

holy and awesome is his Name.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;

those who act accordingly have a good understanding;

his praise endures for ever.

Matthew 6:7-15 (An American Translation):

[Jesus continued,] “And when you pray, do not repeat empty phrases as the heathen do, for they imagine that their prayers will be heard if they use words enough.  You must not be like them.  For God, who is your Father, knows what you need before you ask him.  This, therefore, is the way you are to pray:

Our Father in heaven,

Your name be revered!

Your kingdom come!

Your will be done

On earth as well as in heaven!

Give us today bread for the day,

And forgive us our debts, as we have forgiven our debtors.

And do not subject us to temptation,

But save us from the evil one.

For if you forgive others when they offend you, your heavenly Father will forgive you too.  But if you do not forgive others when they offend you, your heavenly Father will not forgive you for your offenses.”

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The Collect:

Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in your steadfast faith and love, that through your grace we may proclaim your truth with boldness, and minister your justice with compassion; for the sake of our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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The designated Matthew reading for the Week of Proper 6:  Wednesday, Year 1, was actually 6:1-6, 16-18, but I typed 6:1-18, thus maintaining the unity of the text.  This day, of course, the assigned reading from Matthew is 6:7-15, most of which is the Lord’s Prayer.

Some texts bear repeating.  And why not pray this prayer publicly and privately?  I will return to this great prayer soon.  But first I will address the reading from 2 Corinthians.

The Corinthian church was an ecclesiastical problem child.  Paul had founded it, yet some members thereof spread vicious rumors about him and taught a version of Christianity contrary to Paul’s.  It is important to remember that much Christian theology we modern Christians have inherited was new during the time of Paul.  Arguments from the first five centuries of Christianity established theological propositions I take as given, assumed truths.

Paul is obviously unhappy with the state of the Corinthian church in this day’s reading.  His tone is sarcastic, and he asserts his authority strongly.  This tone does not come easily or comfortably for Paul.  This is a man who has struggled with these people and reached a point of great frustration.  Yet he has not given up on them.  The existence of the epistle demonstrates Paul’s hope that the Corinthian church might reform.

History tells us that, as late as 100 C.E. or so, the Corinthian church had not become any better.  The (First) Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, which is available in various English translations, echoes much of the content of the Pauline letters to that congregation.  But Paul had to try, did he not?

The Corinthian church was short on love.

Sometimes familiarity with a translation of a text leads to not paying sufficient attention to the content.  So read the following, which comes from the New Zealand Prayer Book (1989), of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia:

Eternal Spirit,

Earth-maker, Pain-bearer, Life-giver,

Source of all that is and that shall be,

Father and Mother of us all,

Loving God, in whom is heaven:

The hallowing of your name echo through the universe!

The way of your justice be followed by the peoples of the world!

Your heavenly will be done by all created beings!

Your commonwealth of peace and freedom

sustain our hope and come on earth.

With the bread we need for today, feed us.

In the hurts we absorb from one another, forgive us.

In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.

From trials too great to endure, spare us.

From the grip of all that is evil, free us.

For you reign in the glory of the power that is love,

now and forever.  Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer consists of three parts, in order:

  1. Giving glory to God
  2. Asking God to provide what we need
  3. Asking God for forgiveness of sins and for help in resisting temptation

At the heart of all this is love:  love for God and our fellow human beings.  If we love God, we want to glorify God, see others do likewise.  If we love each other, we want everyone to have what he or she needs each day.  If we love God, we want to resist temptation and we seek forgiveness for what we have done to offend God.

If we love God and each other, we will not act like those in the Corinthian church whom Paul criticized.

When we live in full knowledge of the “glory of the power that is love,” we will seek to live more deeply immersed in that love.  Negativity and hatred will find no place there.  And we will become perfect in the sense of the end of Matthew 5, that is, suited to the purpose for which we are on this planet.  That purpose, of course, is fully to enjoy and glorify God forever.  May we do so.

Amen.

KRT

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