Week of Proper 23: Tuesday, Year 2   9 comments

Above:  St. Nicholas Episcopal Church, Hamilton, Georgia, June 19, 2011

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Building Up the Body of Christ (I)

OCTOBER 16, 2018

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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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Lately I have been extending readings and even combining days’ worth of assigned devotional readings to preserve the unity of chapters in Galatians as much as possible.  I learn more from the texts when I type them out word for word.  I have, over time, typed out the Gospel lessons and the psalms, so I can copy and paste them from other blog posts I have produced, with just a few exceptions now and again.  But now, that I am focusing on the First Reading, I have decided to reproduce the full text of the Letter to the Galatians, despite the toll this effort takes on my fingers.  I can compensate for that (by spacing out the times I type out of a Bible and my notes in a composition book), and the cost, a mild one, is worth it.  Pondering, planning, and producing these posts constitute devotional acts themselves, and I hope, O reader, that you derive some benefit from them.–KRT

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Galatians 5:1-25 (Revised English Bible):

It is for freedom that Christ set us free.  Stand firm, therefore, and refuse to submit again to the yoke of slavery.

Mark my words:  I, Paul, say to you that if you get yourself circumcised Christ will benefit you no more.  I will impress on you once again that every man who accepts circumcision is under obligation to keep the entire law.  When you seek to be justified by way of law, you are cut off from Christ:  you have put yourselves outside God’s grace.  For it is by the Spirit and through faith that we hope to attain that righteousness which we eagerly await.  If we are in union with Christ Jesus, circumcision makes no difference at all, nor does the lack of it; the only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.

You were running well; who was it hindered you from following the truth?  Whatever persuasion was used, it did not come from God who called you.

A little leaven,

remember,

leavens all the dough.

The Lord gives me confidence that you will not adopt the wrong view; but whoever is unsettling your minds must bear God’s judgement.  As for me, my friends, if I am still advocating circumcision, then why am I still being persecuted?  To do that would be to strip the cross of all offence.  Those agitators had better go the whole way and make eunuchs of themselves!

You, my friends, were called to be free; only beware of turning your freedom into licence for you unspiritual nature.  Instead, serve one another in love; for the whole law is summed up in a single commandment:

Love your neighbor as yourself.

But if you go on fighting one another, tooth and nail, all you can expect is mutual destruction.

What I mean is this:  be guided by the Spirit and you will not gratify the desires of your unspiritual nature.  That nature sets its desires against the Spirit, while the Spirit fights against it.  They are in conflict with one another so that you cannot do what you want.  But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to law.

Anyone can see the behaviour that belongs to the unspiritual nature:  fornication, indecency, and debauchery; idolatry and sorcery; quarrels, a contentious temper, envy, fits of rage, selfish ambitions, dissensions, party intrigues, and jealousies; drinking bouts, orgies, and the like.  I warn you, as I warned you before, that no one who behaves like that will ever inherit the kingdom of God.

But the harvest of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self-control.  Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the old nature with its passions and desires.  If the Spirit is the source of our life, let the Spirit also direct its course.

Psalm 119:41-48 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

41  Let your loving kindness come to me, O LORD,

and your salvation, according to your promise.

42  Then shall I have a word for those who taunt me,

because I trust in your words.

43  Do not take the word of truth out of my mouth,

for my hope is in your judgments.

44  I shall continue to keep your aw;

I shall keep it for ever and ever.

45  I will walk at liberty,

because I study your commandments.

46  I will tell of your decrees before kings

and will not be ashamed.

47  I delight in your commandments,

which I have always loved.

48  I will lift up my hands to your commandments,

and I will meditate on your statutes.

Luke 11:37-41 (Revised English Bible):

When he [Jesus] had finished speaking, a Pharisee invited him to a meal, and he came in and sat down.  The Pharisee noticed that he had not begun by washing before the meal.  But the Lord said to him,

You Pharisees clean the outside of the cup and plate; but inside you are full of greed and wickedness.  You fools!  Did not he who made the outside make the inside too?  But let what is inside be given to charity, and all is clean.

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The Collect:

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; 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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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 23:  Tuesday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/04/week-of-proper-23-tuesday-year-1/

In Remembrance of Me:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/27/in-remembrance-of-me/

Hostility Fractures the Body:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/hostility-fractures-the-body/

A Prayer to Embrace Love, Empathy, and Compassion, and to Eschew Hatred, Invective, and Willful Ignorance:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2010/08/03/a-prayer-to-embrace-love-empathy-and-compassion-and-to-eschew-hatred-invective-and-willful-ignorance/

I Come with Joy to Meet My Lord:

http://gatheredprayers.wordpress.com/2011/01/23/i-come-with-joy-to-meet-my-lord/

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I belong to a Historical Jesus reading group.  Thus I am almost finished with The Founder of Christianity, by C. H. Dodd, in which Dodd makes the following point:  For many Palestinian Jews at the time of Christ, keeping the minutae of the Law of Moses formed the basis of their identity.  The keeping of the minutae of the Law defined them as not being Gentiles (especially Romans).  So, when Jesus said and did much of what he said and did, he questioned the basis of their identity.  This helps to explain why our Lord stirred up so much animosity in religious circles.  Religion had become mixed up in identity politics so much that simple calls to act compassionately–even on the Sabbath–became occasions for controversy.

This helps to explain much opposition to Paul, as well as Paul’s opposition to Judaizers.  Dodd’s analysis provides a useful societal backdrop to the Pauline epistles, not just the Gospels.  Keep that in mind as I proceed.

Love of one’s neighbor, we read, fulfills the Law of Moses.  (I have covered this idea in a previous post:  https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/31/week-of-proper-22-wednesday-year-2/.  If we love our neighbors as we love ourselves, we will act toward them properly, avoiding deeds which exploit them and tear them down.  And we will exhibit actions which help them and build them up.  Trademarks of these deeds are

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self-control. –5:23, Revised English Bible

Here I must reiterate the theme of Christian liberty to fulfill one’s spiritual potential.  This potential is not individual and separate from others.  We rise and fall together, for what one person does affects others.  To borrow an analogy from elsewhere in the Pauline epistles, we are individually body parts, and the building up of the body is crucial.

May we show

love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, fidelity, gentleness, and self-control

to each other for the common good, our own good, and (most importantly) for the glory of God.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/building-up-the-body-of-christ-i/

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