Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The New Way

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 -- Week of 1 Epiphany, Year One
Aelred, Abbot of Rievaulx, 1167
To read about our daily commemorations, go to our Holy Women, Holy Men blog:

Today's Readings for the Daily Office
(Book of Common Prayer, p. 942)
Psalms 119:1-24 (morning)       12, 13, 14 (evening)
Isaiah 41:1-16
Ephesians 2:1-10
Mark 1:29-45

Chapter two of Ephesians opens with words about the deadly life, "following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient."  In the Roman age, like today, that is a world characterized by the abuse of power and by greed, punctuated by violence.  The Pax Romana was a peace at the end of the Roman sword, in a world controlled by powerful and wealthy elites.  The civil religion was nationalistic and proud, and it ignored or enforced dramatic inequalities among peoples.  The vast majority of people were peasants and slaves.  The world was ruled by the wealthy and powerful.

In Christ, God creates a new community, a new world.  It is a world that eschews violence, symbolized by the central image of Jesus on the cross.  Jesus soaks up violence and injustice, and returns only love.  He is raised into the resurrection life of God's power exercised through love, to create a new community of generosity and equality.  That is God's gift.  In the church, unlike the world, all are equal -- male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and free.  We are given the new air of the Spirit that breathes us into being "out of the great love with which he loved us." 

"For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God...  For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life."

God invites us to accept a new reality -- a new community, a new Spirit -- a heart transplant.  This new reality is God's divine acceptance into a new "way of life."  In this new way of life, there is no more elitism, no more injustice between the haves and the have-nots, no more abuse of power, no more greed and inequality, no more violence.  The Peace of Christ is the opposite of the Pax Romana.

The riches of God is the richness of kindness.  We have been raised into this new way "so that in the ages to come he might show us the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus." 

In so many ways, the problems that the apostles decried are the same problems we live with -- gross inequality, the abuse of power, greed, a world controlled by powerful and wealthy elites, and violence.  That's the world we are to flee.  That is the world of "the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses" as "children of wrath" -- "the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit now at work among those who are disobedient."  Greed and power.  Those are the passions that fill the air with division and violence. 

"But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ."  That love is for all.  To breathe the air of love is to live in another atmosphere -- where needs are met and divisions cease; where generosity overcomes greed and perfect love casts out fear; where equality before God eliminates divisions.  All are forgiven; all are loved; all are invited to live in the new creation, "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life."



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

Discussion Blog:  To comment on today's reflection or readings, go to, or click here for Lowell's blog find today's reading, click "comment" at the bottom of the reading, and post your thoughts.

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.

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


At 8:22 AM, Anonymous janet said...

That is the community I choose to be part of - or create if necessary - nonviolent with a shared power or those in power empowering others, rather than abusing with their power. That vision fuels the peace work I seem called to . I caught that phrase children of wrath early this morning. Julian of Norwich tells how in her understanding there is no wrath in God, how could there be? No wrath in God is worth pondering - it is a powerful statement, and seems to be the way Jesus lived.

Peace, Janet

At 8:32 AM, Blogger peacenik said...

Sometimes I remember to listen to your podcast rather than reading it. It's great to hear your voice while I sit back and soak in the peace and understanding that you always provide. The Episcopal Peace Fellowship and the whole church in Arkansas needs your voice daily - the world needs your messages of peace and justice - daily....Caroline

At 9:37 AM, Blogger Lowell said...

Today (Thursday) the reading from Ephesians is a powerful peace reading. The apostle speaks of the great division -- Gentile/Jew -- and announces that those "who once were far off have been brought near... for Christ is our peace."

"So he came a proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near." Everyone is invited into the arms of God who is peace. And everyone is given "access in one Spirit to the Father" -- "no longer aliens, but citizens" together in the divine household.

Great stuff.


At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And yet that great love, merciful love seems not to be enough for you. You constantly interject class envy, decry the rich (i would suggest the rich don't listen here). You are not sowing seeds of contentment but are encouraging coveting.

Do the rich all have a new heart? does the Bush Cheney team have a new heart?


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