Upside Down Worlds
Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html
Psalm 69:1-23(24-30)31-38 (morning) // 73 (evening)
Esther 1:1-4, 10-19 or Judith 4:1-15
In John today we pick up a theme that appears elsewhere as well. The early church explained the lack of belief in Jesus as a blindness caused by the prince or god of this world. The generous and compassionate commandment of love which characterizes the gospel is indeed contrary to much of the worldly spirit that fills our world today. We live with competing authorities.
Those competing "lords" are especially apparent in the narrative of the Acts of the Apostles. In previous days we read of Silas and Paul's difficulties in
Today we read of the pair inciting a violent reaction in Thessalonica. Paul regularly provoked conflict from the synagogue. His evangelism strategy was to speak to the synagogue arguing that Jesus is the Messiah. His primary target audience was the congregation of non-Jewish Gentile "god-fearers" who were attracted to the high Jewish ethic and its monotheism. Paul made it easier for them to follow this path by removing the obstacles of circumcision, kosher practice and the complex Jewish law. Often the Gentile god-fearers were wealthy and powerful citizens, important resources for the synagogues' status and protection.
The charge that Paul's attackers raise when they attack his host Jason's home church and drag the group before the city authorities is especially interesting. "These people who have been turning the world upside down have come here also... They are all acting contrary to the decrees of the emperor, saying that there is another king named Jesus."
Dom Crossan's recent book "In Search of Paul" makes a compelling case that Paul's gospel was indeed a radical challenge to the powerful state religion begun by Augustus and continued by the Caesars. The emperors developed a patriotic cult of emperor worship which tied political power, military security and economic prosperity into a vigorous celebration of the "Pax Romana" delivered by the divine Caesars. The claim that Jesus is Lord was a challenge to the emperor, not only as king but also as god. It was like turning the Roman world upside down. And it was at least subversive if not treasonous.
Politics and God always compete for authority.
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