Week of Proper 17: Tuesday, Year 1   17 comments

Above:  Map of Galilee in the First Century C.E.

Image in the Public Domain

Community Life in Christ

SEPTEMBER 5, 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 5:1-28 (The Jerusalem Bible):

You will not be expecting us to write anything to you, brothers, about time and seasons, since you know very well that the Day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night.  It is when people are saying, “How quiet and peaceful it is that the worst suddenly happens, as suddenly as labour pains come on a pregnant woman; and there will be no way for anybody to evade it.

But it is not as if you live in the dark, my brothers, for that Day to overtake you like a thief.  No, you are like all sons of light and sons of the day:  we do not belong to the night or to darkness, so we should not go on sleeping, as everyone else does, but stay wide awake and sober.  Night is the time for sleepers to sleep and drunkards to be drunk, but we belong to the day and we should be sober; let us put on faith and love for a breastplate, and the hope of salvation for a helmet.  God never meant us to experience the Retribution, but to win salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that, alive or dead, we should live united to him.  So give encouragement to each other, and keep strengthening one another, as you do already.

We appeal to you, my brothers, to be considerate to those who are working amongst you and are above you in the Lord as your teachers.  Have the greatest respect and affection for them because of their work.

Be at peace among yourselves.  And this is what we ask you to do, brothers:  warn the idlers, give courage to those who are apprehensive, care for the weak and be patient with everyone.  Make sure that people do not try to take revenge; you must all think of what is best for each other and for the community.  Be happy at all times; pray constantly; and for all things give thanks to God, because this is what God expects you to do in Christ Jesus.

Never try to suppress the Spirit or treat the gift of prophecy with contempt; think before you do anything–hold on to what is good and avoid every form of evil.

May the God of peace make you perfect and holy; and may you all be kept safe and blameless, spirit, soul, and body, for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  God has called you and he will not fail you.

Pray for us, my brothers.

Greet all the brothers with the holy kiss.  My orders, in the Lord’s name, are that this letter is to be read to all the brothers.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Psalm 27:1-6, 17-18 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation;

whom then shall I fear?

the LORD is the strength of my life;

of whom then shall I be afraid?

2 When evildoers came upon me to eat up my flesh,

it was they, my foes and my adversaries, who stumbled and fell.

3 Though an army should encamp against me,

yet my heart shall not be afraid;

4 And though war should rise up against me,

yet I will put my trust in him.

5 One thing I have asked of the LORD;

one thing I seek;

that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life;

6 To behold the fair beauty of the LORD

and to seek him in his temple.

17 What if I had not believed

that I should see the goodness of the LORD

in the land of the living!

18 O tarry and await the LORD’s pleasure;

be strong, and he shall comfort your heart;

wait patiently for the LORD.

Luke 4:31-37 (The Jerusalem Bible):

He [Jesus] went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and taught them on the sabbath.  And his teaching made a deep impression on them because he spoke with authority.

In the synagogue there was a man who was possessed by the spirit of an unclean devil, and it shouted at the top of its voice,

Ha!  What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth?  Have you come to destroy us?  I know who you are:  the Holy One of God.

But Jesus said sharply,

Be quiet!  Come out of him!

And the devil, throwing the man in front of everyone, went out of him without hurting him at all.  Astonishment seized them and they were all saying to one another,

What teaching!  He gives orders to unclean spirits with authority and power and they come out.

And reports of him went all through the surrounding countryside.

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The Collect:

Lord of all power and might, the author and giver of all good things: Graft in our hearts the love of your Name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; 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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The Hellenistic world was a demon-haunted one.  Popular beliefs held that evil spirits caused many unfortunate conditions.  Today we understand these to have down-to-earth causes.  The origins of schizophrenia, multiple personalities, epilepsy, and various mental illnesses are matters of record in the Western world to which I belong.  The Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment inform my thinking in these matters.

Our Lord’s first miracle, according to the Gospel of Luke, was an exorcism.  Today we would use a different term, saying perhaps that the man had epilepsy and maybe an accompanying mental illness, if not a great deal of stress.  The important part of this event was that he found wholeness, and could thus reintegrate into his community.

Paul, in Chapter 5 of 1 Thessalonians, provided an excellent checklist of harmonious Christian community life:

  • Be considerate of whose who are working amongst you and are above you in the Lord as your teachers; respect them for their work.
  • Be at peace among yourselves.
  • Warn those who are so heavenly-minded that they are of little or no earthly good.
  • Give courage to those who are apprehensive.
  • Care for the weak.
  • Be patient with everyone.
  • Make sure that people do not try to take revenge.
  • Think of  what is best for each other and for the community.
  • Be happy at all times.
  • Pray constantly.
  • Give thanks for all things to God.
  • Never try to suppress the Holy Spirit.
  • Never treat the gift of prophecy with contempt.
  • Think before you do anything.
  • Hold on to what is good.
  • Avoid every form of evil.

Some of these are difficult.  But if we fulfill them our lives will become prayer, for prayer is far more than speaking to God.  And if, by grace, we succeed, we will lead holy lives.

I was more individualistic when I was younger.  But as I age I become more communitarian.  All of us rely on God and each other.  Self-sufficiency in all matters is an illusion, for what one person does influences others.  So we need to think beyond ourselves and focus on the common good without falling into the tyranny of majority, which tramples the rights of individuals of minority and dissident status.  The key word here is balance–the balance of the needs of the one and the needs of the community.

Besides, our common and individual identities are in God alone.  May respect for each other and ourselves, all bearers of the image of God, feed a great sense of commonweal.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/community-life-in-christ/

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17 responses to “Week of Proper 17: Tuesday, Year 1

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