Week of Proper 24: Thursday, Year 1   12 comments

Above:  A Crucifix

Image in the Public Domain

Freedom from Shame

OCTOBER 26, 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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Romans 6:20-23 (Revised English Bible):

When you were slaves of sin, you were free from the control of righteousness.  And what gain did that bring you?  Things that now make you ashamed, for their their end is death.  But now, freed from the commands of sin and bound to the service of God, you have gains that lead to holiness, and the end is eternal life.  For sin pays a wage, and the wage is death, but God gives freely, and his gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord.

Psalm 1 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Happy are they who have not walked in the counsel of the wicked,

nor lingered in the way of sinners,

nor sat in the seats of the scornful!

2 Their delight is in the law of the LORD,

and the meditate on his law day and night.

They are like trees planted by streams of water,

bearing fruit in due season, with leaves that do not wither,

everything they do shall prosper.

4 It is not so with the wicked;

they are like the chaff which the wind blows away.

Therefore the wicked shall not stand upright when judgment comes,

nor the sinner in the council of the righteous.

For the LORD knows the ways of the righteous,

but the way of the wicked is doomed.

Luke 12:49-53 (Revised English Bible):

[Jesus continued,]

I have come to set fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!  I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is over!  Do you suppose that I came to establish peace to the earth?  No indeed, I have come to bring dissension.  From now on, a family of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.

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The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, in Christ you have revealed your glory among the nations: Preserve the works of your mercy, that your Church throughout the world may persevere with steadfast faith in the confession 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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Shame and honor are social constructs.  One has shame or honor because others say that one does.  Such concepts have less potency in my Western society, with its individualistic focus, than in other cultures, with their communal emphasis.  To the extent that one feels shame or honor, one does so because one has internalized certain standards.

The standards to which Paul and Jesus pointed were frequently at odds with the Hellenistic culture which was always close.  Our Lord grew up in Nazareth, just a few miles from Sepphoris, the very Hellenistic capital of the Galilee, for example.  (Oddly enough, there is no mention of Sepphoris in the canonical Gospels.)  Anyhow, the standards to which Paul referred in Romans 6 were those of God.

Yes, one ought to feel regret for one’s sins.  There is a difference between regret and self-flagellation (literal or metaphorical), however.  Through Jesus we have forgiveness and liberation from sin, so we ought not to dwell on our sins.  Rather, we should learn from them and focus on the present and future, in both of which we have eternal life, which is simply life in God via the Christ (John 17:3).

Consider the cross.  Roman imperial use of it for execution was meant to shame the executed.  Yet, in Christianity, the cross has become a sign of triumph.  Crosses decorate jewelry, steeples, and church walls, for example.  The power and grace of God transform defeat into triumph and shame into honor.  This in indeed liberation, so may we live for God as free people.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/freedom-from-shame/

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