Week of Proper 18: Friday, Year 1   13 comments

Above:  Ephesus on a Map

Image Source = http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/CN092MAPS1.htm

Spiritual Courage

SEPTEMBER 15, 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 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-14 (The Jerusalem Bible):

From Paul, apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our saviour and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy, true child of mine in the faith; wishing you grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Lord.

I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength, and who judged me faithful enough to call me into his service even though I used to be a blasphemer and did all I could to injure and discredit the faith.  Mercy, however, was shown me, because until I became a believer I had been acting in ignorance; and the grace of our Lord filled me with faith  and with the love that is in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 16 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Protect me, O God, for I take refuge in you;

I have said to the LORD, “You are my Lord,

my good above all other.”

2 All my delight is upon the godly that are in the land,

upon those who are noble among the people.

3 But those who run after other gods

shall have their troubles multiplied.

4 Their libations of blood I will not offer,

nor take the names of their gods upon my lips.

5 O LORD, you are my portion and my cup;

it is you who uphold my lot.

6 My boundaries enclose a pleasant land;

indeed, I have a goodly heritage.

7 I will bless the LORD who gives me counsel;

my heart teaches me, night after night.

8 I have set the LORD always before me;

because he is at my right hand I shall not fall.

9 My heart, therefore, is glad, and my spirit rejoices;

my body also shall rest in hope.

10 For you will not abandon me to the grave,

nor let your holy one see the Pit.

11 You will show me the path of life;

in your presence there is fullness of joy,

and in your right hand are pleasures for evermore.

Luke 6:39-42 (The Jerusalem Bible):

He [Jesus] also told a parable to them,

Can one blind man guide another?  Surely both will fall into a pit?  The disciple is not superior to this teacher; the fully trained disciple will always be like his teacher.  Why do you observe the splinter in your brother’s eye and never notice the plank in your own?  How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the splinter that is in your eye,’ when you cannot see the plank in your own?  Hypocrite!  Take the plank out of your own eye first, and then you will see clearly enough to take out the splinter that is in your brother’s eye.

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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.

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A Related Post:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2010/12/06/week-of-proper-7-monday-year-1/

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There is a lively academic debate regarding the authorship of 1 Timothy.  Did Paul write the epistle during his time at Rome, or did someone writing in Paul’s name produce the letter later?  Although very interesting to many people, this issue is irrelevant to my purpose in this post.  I follow Lectio Divino, the Benedictine practice of reading the Bible for spiritual formation, here.

So, regardless of the identity of the author of 1 Timothy, there is nothing in the reading for today that contradict’s Paul’s back story prior to his conversion.  That is the first important fact to consider relative to 1 Timothy 1:1-2, 12-14.  Paul, when Saul of Tarsus, did act out of his spiritual ignorance.  And committed and condoned murders while in this state.  But God did not give up on him.  And Paul became an essential figure in early Christian history.  Those of us who have come into this world and the Christian faith after him stand on his shoulders.

But even those of us within the fold are not free of spiritual blindness.  Paul was not free of such blindness, even after his conversion.   And spiritual vision did not always translate into actions.  Epistles that Paul either wrote or dictated testify to these facts.  We still judge others, do we not?  But Jesus said not to do this.  We do not know all the struggles that any other person faces.  Neither do we understand all that occurs between any other person and God.  For that matter, we tend to notice faults (real or misperceived) in others before we acknowledge them in ourselves.  (When I say “we,” I include myself in “we.”)

Would you have given up on Saul of Tarsus?  Come on, be honest.  I will start; I might have given up on him.  This is a purely hypothetical question, so I can provide only a hypothetical answer.  But God did not.  Ananias of Damascus of Antioch did not give up on Saul/Paul.

Here is the potent question with which I leave you, O reader:  Would have had the spiritual courage to trust and obey God, and therefore act as Ananias did?  It is a purely hypothetical question, but it is useful for spiritual formation.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/04/spiritual-courage/

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