Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Love's Unity in Diversity

Wednesday, May 19, 2010 -- Week of 7 Easter
Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury, 988

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 965)
Psalms 101, 109:1-4(5-19)20-30 (morning)       119:121-144 (evening)
Isaiah 4:2-6
Ephesians 4:1-16
Matthew 8:28-34

Again today Ephesians offers us an inspiring exhortation.  We hear ourselves being called to "lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called."

The characteristics of that life, offered in this passage from the epistle, begin with humility, gentleness and patience.  In a spirit the echoes the prayer from Ephesians that we read yesterday, the grounding characteristic is love.  We are to bear with one another in love.

The writer urges us toward the union that is our gift from God through Christ.  "Maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."  I preached about unity and oneness last Sunday, focusing on the Gospel passage from St. John.  (http://www.stpaulsfay.org/id472.html)

This passage from Ephesians offers a compelling image of unity in diversity.  There is "one body and one Spirit, ...one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all."  (Note especially -- God is "in all."  God's image resides in every human being, for our race is created in the image and likeness of God.)

Within that vision of union, there is remarkable diversity.  Each of us is given different grace.  Paul lists some of the gifts and ministries.  We are to exercise our various gifts on behalf of the whole, on behalf of community -- "to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ."  Our goal is maturity:  "until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ."

The writer recognizes our immaturity, but encourages us to grow.  Again he calls us to love.  "Speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ."  The passage closes with an image of the diverse parts of the one body working together to promote "the body's growth in building itself up in love."  The goal is love.  The means is love.

I am reminded of one of the visions of Dame Julian of Norwich:

"And from the time that [the vision] was shown, I desired often to know what our Lord's meaning was.  And fifteen years and more afterward I was answered in my spiritual understanding, thus: 'Would you know your Lord's meaning in this thing?  Know it well, love was his meaning.  Who showed it to you?  Love.  What did he show you?  Love.  Why did he show it?  For love.  Keep yourself therein and you shall know and understand more in the same. But you shall never know nor understand any other thing, forever.'

"Thus I was taught that love was our Lord's meaning.  And I saw quite clearly in this and in all, that before God made us, he loved us, which love was never slaked nor ever shall be.  And in this love he has done all his work, and in this love he has made all things profitable to us.  And in this love our life is everlasting.  In our creation we had a beginning.  But the love wherein he made us was in him with no beginning.  And all this shall be seen in God without end ..."
  (translation by Liz Broadwell)

And a final benediction from Dame Julian, a benediction that relates nicely to our reading from Ephesians:
"Glad and merry and sweet is the blessed and lovely demeanor of our Lord towards our souls, for he saw us always living in love-longing, and he wants our souls to be gladly disposed toward him . . . by his grace he lifts up and will draw our outer disposition to our inward, and will make us all at unity with him, and each of us with others in the true, lasting joy which is Jesus." 

Lowell
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Audio podcast: Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week. Click the following link: Morning Reflection Podcasts

About Morning Reflections
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 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

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

Visit our web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

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

Lowell Grisham, Rector
St. Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, Arkansas
 

3 Comments:

At 11:07 AM, Blogger Seoc Dughlas said...

Thank you Father Lowell for your message this morning and the encouraging comments you made.

I agree that love is important, so important that it is the glue that holds us together. It is real important to love God with my whole being and to love my neighbour as myself. This love must extend past my *comfort zone* and become all inclusive. My guess is that this includes everyone and everything created by God. Honestly, this is where I fall short a lot, but then again, I am a work in progress. If I keep in mind an old adage, "Progress rather than perfection," then I'm right where I am suppose to be. Other than that, it is going to take an awful lot of progress to get to where I'd like to be. That's all I got today. I'm glad we're here.

--Seoc Dughlas
email me: seocdughlas@yahoo.co.uk
find me on Facebook: Seoc Dughlas

 
At 9:53 PM, Blogger Seoc Dughlas said...

Two days ago, I read your blogspot about U.S. Immigration. I thoroughly enjoyed it. In fact, I will go to the morning prayer and centering prayer on Thursday morning at St. Paul's and I will come back for the prayer vigil at 5:30 p.m. Thank you Father Lowell for your concern and inspiring me to do more than just sitting around talking about the problem.

--Seoc Dughlas
email me: seocdughlas@yahoo.co.uk

 
At 8:52 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Thank you for your kind comments, Seoc, and for your commitment to making progress in love, especially love for those outside our "comfort zone."

I hope to see you this afternoon at 5:30 at the vigil for our immigrant neighbors.

Lowell

 

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