Week of Proper 18: Wednesday, Year 1   18 comments

Above:  Infant Baptism

Photograph by Tom Adrianssen

Being Heavenly-Minded in Daily Life



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.


Colossians 3:1-11 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand.  Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God.  But when Christ is revealed–and he is your life–you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.

That is why you must kill everything in you that belongs only to earthly life:

  • fornication,
  • impurity,
  • guilty passion, evil desires
  • and especially greed,

which is the same thing as worshipping a false god; all this is the sort of behaviour that makes God angry.  And it is the way in which you used to live when you were surrounded by people doing the same thing, but now you, of all people, must give all these things up:

  • getting angry,
  • being bad-tempered,
  • spitefulness,
  • abusive language and dirty talk;
  • and never tell each other lies.

You have stripped off our old behaviour with your old self, and you have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its creator; and in that image there is no room for distinction

  • between Greek and Jew,
  • between the circumcised or the uncircumsised,
  • or between barbarian and Scythian,
  • slave and free man.

There is only Christ:  he is everything and he is in everything.

(I reformatted the text to include bullet lists.)

Psalm 145:10-13 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

10 All your works praise you, O LORD,

and all your faithful servants bless you.

11 They make known the glory of your kingdom

and speak of your power;

12 That the peoples may know of your power

and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.

13 Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom;

your dominion endures throughout all ages.

Luke 6:20-26 (The Jerusalem Bible):

Then fixing his eyes on his disciples he [Jesus] said:

How happy are you who are poor; yours is the kingdom of God.

Happy are you who are hungry now; you shall be satisfied.

Happy are you who weep now; you shall laugh.

“Happy are you when people hate you, drive you out, abuse you, denounce your name as criminal, on account of the Son of Man.  Rejoice when that day comes and dance for joy, for then your reward will be great in heaven.  This was the way their ancestors treated the prophets.

“But alas for you who are rich; you are having your consolation now.

Alas for you who have your fill now; you shall go hungry.

Alas for you who laugh now; you shall mourn and weep.

Alas for you when the world speaks well of you!  This was the way their ancestors treated the false prophets.


The Collect:

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


The reading from Colossians exists within the context of baptism.  Christ was everything for Paul, so the Apostle wrote that following Christ would dictate one’s choices in daily life.  The “thou shall not” rules out much of politics and popular culture, from including AM talk radio, and Cinemax, and the euphemistically named FOX News Channel.

Baptism is one of the seven sacraments.  The brief act involving water is supposed to function as a visible and outward sign of divine and inward grace in a person’s life.  The ceremony is beautiful, but the hard work follows it.  But as the Scriptures, quoted in the funeral service from the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, say:

For none of us has life in himself,

and none becomes his own master when he dies.

For if we have life, we are alive in the Lord,

and if we die, we die in the Lord.

So, then, whether we live or die,

we are the Lord’s possession.

(Page 491)

The Lukan version of the Beatitudes and subsequent woes (in Luke but not Matthew) comes from the Sermon on the Plain, that gospel’s counterpart of the Sermon on the Mount.  The Beatitudes and Woes from Luke contrast value systems.  Those who choose the values of the Beatitudes will go from spiritual height to height.  There is a physical element, too.  The poor are the poor, not the “poor in spirit,” as in Matthew.  The hungry seek food; they are not hungry for righteousness.  Those who value money, possessions, temporary happiness, and public acclaim might get them, but their gains will prove unsatisfactory in the long term.

So, without resorting to persistent grumpiness, of which Paul was disapprove, may we cling to Christ and value him above all else.  Christ does not need our defense; he can defend himself.  His gospel stands forever, withstanding all assaults of scoffers.  But he needs our witness.  May we witness with our ingrained attitudes, which will dictate our actions.



18 responses to “Week of Proper 18: Wednesday, Year 1

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