Week of Proper 16: Thursday, Year 1   13 comments

Above:  Second Coming Icon

Image in the Public Domain

Our mission as Christians entails being part of the solution to the world’s problems, not seeking to flee this world.

AUGUST 31, 2017

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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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1 Thessalonians 3:6-13 (The Jerusalem Bible):

However, Timothy is back from you and he has given us good news of your faith and your love, telling us that you always remember us with pleasure and want to see us quite as much as we want to see you.  And so, brothers, your faith has been a great comfort to us in the middle of your own troubles and sorrows; now we can breathe again, as you are still holding firm in the Lord.  How can we thank God enough for you, for all the joy we feel before our God on your account?  We are earnestly praying night and day to be able to see you face to face again and make up any shortcomings in your faith.

May God our Father himself, and our Lord Jesus Christ, make it easy for us to come to you.  May the Lord be generous in increasing your love and make you love one another and the whole human race as much as we love you.  And may he so conform your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless in the sight of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus Christ comes with all his saints.

Psalm 90:13-17 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

13 Return, O LORD; how long will you tarry?

be gracious to your servants.

14 Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning;

so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life.

15 Make us glad by the measure of the days that you afflicted us

and the years in which we suffered adversity.

16 Show your servants your works

and your splendor to their children.

17 May the graciousness of the LORD our God be upon us;

prosper the work of our hands;

prosper our handiwork.

Matthew 24:42-51 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Jesus said,

So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your master is coming.  You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not have allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house.  Therefore, you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.

What kind of servant, then, is faithful and wise enough for the master to place him over his household to give him their food at the proper time?  Happy that servant if his master’s arrival finds him at this employment.  I tell you solemnly, he will place him over everything he owns. But as for the dishonest servant who says to himself, “My master is taking his time,” and sets about beating his fellow servants and drinking with drunkards, his master will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not know.  The master will cut him off and send him to the same fate as hypocrites, where there will be weeping and grinding of teeth.

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The Collect:

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Some glad morning when this life is o’er,

I’ll fly away;

To a home on God’s celestial shore,

I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O glory,

I’ll fly away in the morning;

When I die, hallelujah, by and by.

When the shadows of this life have grown,

I’ll fly away;

Like a bird from prison bars has flown,

I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O glory….

Just a few more weary days and then,

I’ll fly away;

To a land where joys shall never end,

I’ll fly away.

I’ll fly away, O glory….

–Albert E. Brumley, 1932

Bishop Henry Irving Louttit, Jr., leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia from 1995 to 2010, is a man I respect greatly.  He has diagnosed correctly the problem with the rather annoying gospel song I have quoted above:  It is escapist.

The Incarnation is about, among other things, God coming into world to transform and redeem it.  So let us not give up on it.  Giving up on the world, with its plethora of severe problems, lies at the heart of much apocalyptic thought.  The logic runs something like this:  Since the world has gone to Hell in a handbasket, the best we Christians can do is hang on until Jesus returns.  But how much better, I ask, might the world be if we were more active in the world, if we focused less on prophecy seminars and conferences, and if we got busy doing our best to be salt and light?  We ought not strive to get the hell out of Dodge.  No, we need to make Dodge a better town.

Apocalyptic thought is almost as old as Christianity.  The Apostle Paul expected Jesus to return within his lifetime.  And many members of the church at Thessalonica had the same idea.  Since then some people have set dates, only to meet with disappointment.  William Miller, founder of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, did this more than once.  One Colin Hoyle Deal published a book entitled Christ Returns by 1988:  101 Reasons Why in 1979.  And, as I write these words, another deadline, May 21, 2011, is in my near future.  I expect many people to be disappointed on May 22, 2011.  I expect nothing, so I will not be disappointed.

May we focus on being salt and light, to the best of our ability, by the help of God.  Then, regardless of whatever God’s plans are on any given day, God will not catch us unawares.

Where shall we start?  I propose that we start by loving ourselves and one another in God, in whom we have identity.  Paul’s affection for the Thessalonian Christians is obvious in the reading from the epistle.  But it is also evident in 1 Thessalonians 2:14-3:5, over which the Canadian Lectionary skips.  Consider these words:

What do you think is our pride and our joy?  You are…. (2:19a)

For all the references to slanders some in the Thessalonian church had made against Paul, the Apostle was genuinely fond of the congregation.

United by mutual love and affection in God, may we Christians be salt and light in the world, which is our neighborhood, not the enemy camp.  We are responsible for our neighborhoods.  And if we are not part of the solution, we are part of the problem.  Empowered by God, we can succeed in our mission.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/our-mission-as-christians-entails-being-part-of-the-solution-not-seeking-to-flee-this-world/

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