Week of Proper 25: Friday, Year 2, and Week of Proper 25: Saturday, Year 2   11 comments

Above:  Paul Writing His Epistles, a Painting from the 1500s

Words of Encouragement

NOVEMBER 2 and 3, 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

Philippians 1:1-30 (Revised English Bible):

From Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all God’s people at Philippi, who are incorporate in Christ Jesus, with the bishops and deacons.

Grace to you and peace from our God and Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God every time I think of you; whenever I pray for you, my prayers are always joyful, because of the part you have taken in the work of the gospel from the first day until now.  Of this I am confident, that he who who started the good work in you will bring it to completion by the day of Christ Jesus.  It is only natural that I should feel like this about you, because I have great affection for you, knowing that, both while I am kept in prison and when I am called on to defend the truth of the gospel, you all share in this privilege of mine.  God knows how I long for you with the deep yearning of Christ Jesus himself.  And this is my prayer, that your love may grow ever richer in knowledge and insight of every kind, enabling you to learn by experience what things really matter.  Then on the day of Christ you will be flawless and without blame, yielding the full harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

My friends, I want you to understand that the progress of the gospel has actually been helped by what has happened to me.  It has become common knowledge throughout the imperial guard, and indeed among the public at large, that my imprisonment is in Christ’s cause; and my being in prison has given most of our fellow-Christians confidence to speak the word of God fearlessly and with extraordinary courage.

Some, it is true, proclaim Christ in a jealous and quarrelsome spirit, but some jealous and do it in goodwill.  These are moved by love, knowing that it is to defend the gospel that I am where I am; the others are moved by selfish ambition and present Christ from mixed motives, meaning to cause me distress as I lie in prison.  What does it matter?  One way or another, whether sincerely or not, Christ is proclaimed; and for that I rejoice.

Yes, and I shall go on rejoicing; for I know well that the issue will be my deliverance, because you are praying for me and the Spirit of Jesus Christ is given me for support.  It is my confident hope that nothing will daunt me or prevent me from speaking boldly; and that now as always Christ will display his greatness in me, whether the verdict be life or death.  For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.  If I am to go on living in the body there is fruitful work for me to do.  Which then am I to choose?  I cannot tell.  I am pulled two ways:   my own desire is to depart and be with Christ–that is better by far; but for your sake the greater need is for me to remain in the body.  This convinces me:  I am sure I shall remain, and stand by you all to ensure your progress and joy in the faith, so that on my account you may have even more cause for pride in Christ Jesus–through seeing me restored to you.

Whatever happens, let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether or not I come and see you for myself I may hear that you are standing firm, united in spirit and in mind, side by side in the struggle to advance the gospel faith, meeting your opponents without so much as a tremor.  This is a sure sign to them that destruction is in store for them and salvation for you, a sign from God himself; for you have been granted the privilege not only of believing in Christ but also of suffering for him.  Your conflict is the same as mine; once you saw me in it, and now you hear I am in it still.

RESPONSE FOR FRIDAY

Psalm 111 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Hallelujah!

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,

in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.

Great are the deeds of the LORD!

they are studied by all who delight in them.

3 His work is full of majesty and splendor,

and his righteousness endures for ever.

He makes his marvelous works to be remembered;

the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

5 He gives food to those who fear him;

he is ever mindful of his covenant.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works

in giving them the lands of the nations.

The works of his hands are faithfulness and justice;

all his commandments are sure.

They stand fast for ever and ever,

because they are done in truth and equity.

He sent redemption to his people;

he commanded his covenant for ever;

holy and awesome is his Name.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;

those who act accordingly have a good understanding;

his praise endures for ever.

RESPONSE FOR SATURDAY

Psalm 42:2-6 (TANAKH: The Holy Scriptures):

Like a hind crying for water,

my soul cries for You, O God;

my soul thirsts for God, the living God;

O when will I come to appear before God!

My tears have been my food day and night;

I am ever tainted with, “Where is your God?”

When I think of this, I pour out my soul:

how I walked with the crowd, moved with them,

the festive throng, to the House of God

with joyous shouts of praise.

Why so downcast, my soul,

why disquieted within me?

Have hope in God;

I will yet praise Him

for his saving presence.

COMPOSITE GOSPEL READING

Luke 14:1-11 (Revised English Bible):

One sabbath he [Jesus] went to have a meal in the house of one of the leading Pharisees; and they were watching him closely.  There, in front of him, was a man suffering from dropsy, and Jesus asked the lawyers and the Pharisees:

Is it permitted to heal people on the sabbath or not?

They said nothing.  So he took the man, cured him, and sent him away.  Then he turned to them and said,

If one of you has a son or an ox that falls into a well, will he hesitate to pull him out on the sabbath day?

To this they could find no reply.

When he noticed how the guests were trying to secure the places of honour, he spoke to them in a parable:

When somebody asks you to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the place of honour.  It may be that some person more distinguished than yourself has been invited; and the host will come to say to you, “Give this man your seat.”  Then you will look foolish as you go to take the lowest place.  No, when you receive the invitation, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he will say, “Come up higher, my friend.”  Then all your fellow-guests will see the respect in which you are held.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled; and who ever humbles himself will be exalted.

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The Collect:

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; 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 25:  Friday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/week-of-proper-25-friday-year-1/

Week of Proper 25:  Saturday, Year 1:

https://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/05/13/week-of-proper-25-saturday-year-1/

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Paul wrote the Letter to the Philippians; there is no reasonable doubt about that fact.  The date of composition was no earlier than 52 and no later than 62 C.E., and the setting of the writing was a prison.  Philippi was a major city in what is now Greece.  Located on a major east-west road, its site was strategic.  The church there faced some problems, notably persecution as well as dissention sown by Judaizers and proto-Gnostics.  Such lack of unity in the face of persecution was troublesome.

Some scholars think that this epistle might actually be two letters mashed up.  If so, this is not the only such case in Pauline literature, for scholars have detected the same issue in Corinthian epistles.  Indeed, St. Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna martyred in 156 C.E., wrote his own epistle to the Philippian church.  He referred to the Pauline letters to that community:

Not that I should be taking on myself to write to you in this way about the life of holiness, my brothers, if you yourselves had not invited me to do so.  For I am as far as anyone else of my sort from having the wisdom of our blessed and glorious Paul.  During his residence with you he gave the men of those days clear and sound instruction in the word of truth, while he was there in person among them; and even after his departure he still sent letters which, if you study them attentively, will enable you to make progress in the faith which was delivered to you.  Faith is the mother of us all; with Hope following in her train, and Love of God and Christ and neighbour leading the way.  Let a man’s mind be wholly bent on these, and he has fulfilled all the demands of holiness; for to possess Love is to be beyond the reach of sin.–Early Christian Writings:  The Apostolic Fathers, Translated by Maxwell Staniforth; Translation revised by Andrew Louth (Penguin Books, 1987), page 120

I have preserved the unity of Chapter 1.  The scope of the chapter becomes apparent this way but would be lost by breaking it into two sections, per the lectionary.  I have examined the whole chapter closely and fixated on Paul’s tone; he, although in prison, rejoices.  He suffers for Christ and considers this a privilege, one in which the Philippian Christians share.  Paul rejoices because he is in Christ.

Paul had come to occupy a spiritual plane I have yet to encounter.  Reading about saints and pouring over the writings of saints encourages me to persevere more and to whine less often.  Those great men and women of the faith have experienced hardships worse than mine and/or dealt successfully with struggles more daunting than mine.  If they can keep the faith, so can I.

Our journey through the Letter to the Philippians has begun.  I plan to type every word of the epistle, an exercise which will bring me into close contact with that text.  We will resume with Monday in the Week of Proper 26, Year 2.

KRT

http://blogatheologica.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/words-of-encouragement/

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