Week of Proper 24: Friday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 24: Saturday, Year 2   8 comments

Above:  Bishop Neil Alexander at Christ Episcopal Church, Norcross, Georgia, on January 16, 2011

Image Source = Bill Monk, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

Building Up the Body of Christ (II)

OCTOBER 26 and 27, 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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COMPOSITE FIRST READING

Ephesians 4:1-32 (Revised English Bible):

I implore you then–I, a prisoner for the Lord’s sake:  as God has called you, live up to your calling.  Be humble always and gentle, and patient too, putting up with one another’s failings in the spirit of love.  Spare no effort to make fast with bonds of peace the unity which the spirit gives.  There is one body and one spirit, just as there is one hope held out in God’s call to you; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.

But each of us has been given a special gift, a particular share in the bounty of Christ.  That is why the scripture says:

He ascended into the heights;

he took captives into captivity;

he gave gifts to men.

Now the word “ascended” implies that he also descended to the lowest level, down to the very earth.  He who descended is none other than he who ascended far above all heavens, so that he might fill the universe.  And it is he who has given some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip God’s people for work in his service, for the building up of the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity inherent in our faith and in our knowledge of the Son of God–to mature manhood, measured by nothing less than the full stature of Christ.  We are no longer to be children, tossed about by waves and whirled around by every fresh gust of teaching, dupes of cunning rogues and their deceitful schemes.  Rather we are to maintain the truth in a spirit of love; so shall we fully grow up into Christ.  He is the head, and on him the whole body depends.  Bonded and held together by every constituent joint, the whole frame grows through the proper functioning of each part, and builds itself up in love.

Here then is my word to you, and urge it on you in the Lord’s name:  give up living as pagans do with their futile notions.  Their minds are closed, they are alienated from the life that is in God, because ignorance prevails among them and their hearts have grown hard as stone.  Dead to all feeling, they have abandoned themselves to vice, and there is no indecency that they do not practise.  But that is not how you learned Christ.  For were you not told about him, were you not as Christians taught the truth as it is in Jesus?  Renouncing your former way of life, you must lay aside the old human nature which, deluded by its desires, is in process of decay:  you must be renewed in mind and spirit, and put on the new nature created in God’s likeness, which shows itself in the upright and devout life called for by the truth.

Then have done with falsehood and speak the truth to each other, for we belong to one another as parts of one body.

If you are angry, do not be led into sin; do not let sunset find you nursing your anger; and give no foothold to the devil.

The thief must give up stealing, and work hard with his hands to earn an honest living, so that he may have something to share with the needy.

Let no offensive talk pass your lips, only what is good and helpful to the occasion, so that it brings a blessing to those who hear it.  Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, for that Spirit is the seal with which you were marked for the day of final liberation.  Have done with all spite and bad temper, with rage, insults, and slander, with evil of any kind.  Be generous to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another as God in Christ forgave you.

RESPONSE FOR FRIDAY

Psalm 24:1-6 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 The earth is the LORD’s and all that is in it,

the world and all who dwell therein.

For it is who founded it upon the seas

and made it firm upon the rivers of the deep.

“Who can ascend the hill of the LORD?

and who can stand in his holy place?”

“Those who have clean hands and a pure heart,

who have not pledged themselves to falsehood,

nor sworn by what is a fraud.

They shall receive a blessing from the LORD

and a just reward from the God of their salvation.”

Such is the generation of those who seek him,

of those who seek your face, O God of Jacob.

RESPONSE FOR SATURDAY

Psalm 122 (New Revised Standard Version):

I was glad when they said to me,

Let us go to the house of the LORD!

Our feet are standing

within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem–built as a city

that is bound firmly together.

To it the tribes go up,

the tribes of the LORD,

as was decreed for Israel,

to give thanks for the name of the LORD.

For there the thrones of judgment were set up,

the thrones of the house of David.

Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:

May they prosper who love you.

Peace be within your walls,

and security within your towers.

For the sake of my relatives and friends

I will say,

Peace be within you.

For the sake of the house of the LORD our God,

I will seek your good.

COMPOSITE GOSPEL READING

Luke 12:54-13:9 (Revised English Bible):

He [Jesus] also said to the people,

When you see clouds gathering in the west, you say at once, “It is going to rain,” and rain it does.  And when the wind is from the south, you say, “It will be hot,” and it is.  What hypocrites you are!  You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but cannot interpret the faithful hour.

Why can you not judge for yourselves what is right?  When you are going with your opponent to court, make an effort to reach a settlement with him while you are still on the way; otherwise he may drag you before the judtge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into jail.  I tell you, you will not be let out until you have paid the very last penny.

At that time some people came and told him [Jesus] about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices.  He answered them:

Do you suppose that, because these Galileans suffered this fate, they must have been greater sinners than anyone else in Galilee?  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all of you come to the same end.  Of the eighteen people who were killed when the tower fell on them at Siloam–do you imagine they must have been more guilty than all the other people living in Jerusalem?  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all come to an end like theirs.

He told them this parable:

A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it, but found none.  So he said to the vine-dresser, “For the last three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any.  Cut it down.  Why should it go on taking goodness from the soil?”  But he replied, “Leave it, sir, for this one year, while I did round it and manure it.  And it it bears next season, well and good; if not, you shall have it down.”

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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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Some Related Posts:

Week of Proper 24:  Friday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/week-of-proper-24-friday-year-1/

Week of Proper 24:  Saturday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/10/week-of-proper-24-saturday-year-1/

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The readings from Luke 12-13 and Ephesians 4 speak of how to live and not to live, but Ephesians 4 provides the succinct summary:

Let there be no more bitter resentment or anger, no more shouting or slander, and let there be no bad feeling of any kind among you.  Be kind to each other, be compassionate.  Be as ready to forgive others as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.–Verses 31-32, J. B. Phillips, The New Testament in Modern English, 1972

Not letting go of resentment, anger, shouting, slander, and bad feeling tears down the body, of which we Christians are part–with Christ himself as the cornerstone, but practicing kindness, compassion, and forgiveness has a positive effect on said body, not to mention oneself.  Living according to the latter standard reduces stress, but acting according the former one increases it–certainly for oneself.  And one’s anger toward another might not even affect him or her, for he or she might not be aware of it.

Pauline thought includes the concept of the Church as the body of Christ.  So, accordingly, what one member does or refuses to do affects the other members.  Whatever part we are, we need to be the best one possible.  Jesus and Paul, just to name two relevant people, sacrificed themselves for that body.  And we Christians of today benefit greatly from what they did.  And we have no warrant for selfishness.

Our fellow human beings do not exist for us to manipulate or destroy, no more than we exist for them to use us in the same ways.  Rather, we all bear the image of God.  So may we cherish one another, build each other up, work for the common good without harming each other, love one another, and, as much as possible, enjoy each other’s company–all in Christ, of course.  All that we do should be in Christ.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2011/11/06/building-up-the-body-of-christ-ii/

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