Friday, September 14, 2007

The Good Life

Friday, September 14 -- -- Week of Proper 18
(Holy Cross Day)

"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

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
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location --

Audio Podcasts of today's "Morning Reflection" and those from the past week are available from (go to St. Paul's Home Page and click "Morning Reflection podcast")

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (p. 982)
Psalms 40, 54 (morning) 51 (evening)
1 Kings 18:20-40
Philippians 3:1-16
Matthew 3:1-12

"Bear fruit worthy of repentence," cries John the Baptist. "I press on toward the goal for the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus," says Paul.

This passage from Philippians is especially instructive in Paul's theology. Paul contrasts circumcision with grace. Circumcision is the sign of one's relationship with God based on performance, by following the law. Paul has been freed from that burden. Liberated by grace. He has been loved infinitely and accepted by the grace of God given through Christ Jesus. All he need do is accept the fact that he has been accepted. It's that easy. It's that free. He has accepted his relationship with God as a gift, the gift of justification. He is justified before God.

Now, what to do? Out of gratitude, live a joyful life of service. In thanksgiving, imitate Christ in his life and in his sufferings. The goal is the resurrection and the "prize of the heavenly call." Earlier he has said to the Philippians, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

Paul's notion is not unlike the baptism of John, or the sacrament of Baptism in the Church. John invites those who wish to follow a new way to receive their identity anew, being baptised -- washed with a fresh start; drowned with a fresh identity. Then, he says, go bear fruit worthy of repentence. Live in the reflection of the gift you have been given. Or, as we say in the Christian tradition, live out your baptism. In your baptism you were grafted into the Body of Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit and made a citizen ofthe Kingdom of God.

Now, what to do? Out of gratitude, live a life of joyful service.

Our baptismal covenant has a pretty good description of that kind of life:
"...continue in the apostles' teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers...
persevere in resisting evil, and, whenever you fall into sin, repent and return to the Lord...
proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ...
seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself...
strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being."
(Book of Common Prayer, from the Baptismal Covenant, p. 305f)

That's a pretty good, concise description of Christian life. It is a way of living with grateful joy, responsive to the gifts of grace.

"Bear fruits worthy of repentence." "Press on toward the goal for the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus."


To Subscribe or Unsubscribe to the "Morning Reflections" email list,
go to our Subscriptions page --

The Rev. Lowell Grisham
Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, AR

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at

Our Rule of Life:
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.


At 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lowell said
"Our baptismal covenant has a pretty good description of that kind of life:
"...continue in the apostles' teaching"
Is this true?
What about the apostles teaching that you deny?


At 7:49 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

I affirm the apostles' teaching.


At 1:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Reg golb,

What about Paul's view of gays?
He clearly doesn't support their lifestyle and would he make them a church leader?

At 8:32 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

If Paul were alive today...
If he knew as we do now that sexual orientation is not a choice, but part of the givenness of our humanity;
if he witnessed the faithfulness of Christian gay people living in the love of Christ,
he would respond with the same inspired generosity that he did toward the uncircumcised.

As he said, "the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things."


At 2:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If he knew as we do now that sexual orientation is not a choice"
There is an unprovable lie. It is not proven, we don't know anything of the sort. Not only that, it defies logic from a creationist view, or your evolutions view.

It is "given", where does God say that?
"the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control." You are using this a license to act however you want.

So let me get this straight, you affirm the apostles teaching, your church covenant says to "continue in the apostles teaching"

Why continue to teach something that you clearly believe is wrong? Is that one of those conveniences like Hilary used?

Someone please answer me.

At 8:31 AM, Blogger Lowell said...


The formation of sexual orientation is indeed mysterious. There is a compelling body of research that seems to indicate a strong genetic influence. Some other research points toward possible environmental influences. All of the studies seem to point to a conclusion that sexual orientation is set early in life, by age three or so. And although we have the ability to control our behaviors, we don't seem to have the ability to change our sexual orientation. People can choose to abstain from sexual activity, but sexual orientation remains. Even aversion therapy practiced by some "reparative" therapists doesn't change the dreams and imaginations.

If you'd like to know more about this kind of research, I'll see if I can get you a link to some of the class presentations (PowerPoint notes) of my colleague who taught biology at the Med School in Little Rock.

I don't think you know me or have ever met me. I wonder if you know anyone who knows me. I think if you did, you wouldn't make such a rash accusation that I use the scripture "as a license to act however (I) want." That's simply not true.

I have thought and prayed and studied about sexual orientation and sexual faithfulness. I have come to a conclusion that is similar to yours -- that sexual intimacy is to be reserved for relationships that are characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God.

I have also come to a conclusion that is different from yours -- I see the presence of those qualities in the committed relationships of loving couples who have a same-gender orientation.

Let's agree to disagree. You are not going to talk me out of this. I've thought and prayed about it a long time. I'm not going to talk you out of your conscientiously chosen convictions. That's fine.

I recognize your faithfulness and your desire to serve God in faith. I respectfully disagree with you about a few things. I think we can do that as brothers in Christ.


At 9:36 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That would indeed be convenient. I know that the liberal mantra is compromise. "Let's meet in the middle", seemsto be that cry of the left. Except the middle they refer to always involves crossing a line that should never be crossed.

Jesus wasn't a compromiser. He didn't sell out for anything. He didn't change because he knew someone who was against message.

I don't doubt that you have prayed and studied. You said we have a similar conclusion. Wrong, i don't believe sexual intimacy is reserved for relationships that are characterized by a bunch of fancy words. It is characterized by marriage only. The same thing that the Bible says.

If this is such a sure thing, why is there so much discord in your denomination?



Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home