Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving"

Wednesday, January 23, 2013  -- Week of 2 Epiphany (Year One)
Phillips Brooks, Bishop of Massachusetts, 1893

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today's scripture readings.]

Today's Readings for the Daily Office

     (Book of Common Prayer, p. 944)
Psalms  38 (morning)     //       119:25-48 (evening)
Isaiah 44:24 - 45:7
Ephesians 5:1-14
Mark 4:1-20

[the Gremlins have me -- yesterday my Internet was out first thing in the morning.  I got to experience how addicted I am to the various conveniences and services of the Internet.  Trying to fix it, or find out what was wrong (including an infinite hold on the telephone with AT&T) -- I missed reading Morning Prayer, and I didn't write a Morning Reflection.  I posted something from a few years ago.


So this morning, I didn't realize I was looking cross-eyed and I used yesterday's readings instead of today's.  So I read and wrote about yesterday's readings.] 

Psalms  26, 28 (morning)     //     36, 39 (evening)
Isaiah 44:9-20
Ephesians 4:17-32
Mark 3:19b-35

For me, reading Isaiah's mockery of idol-makers today had the sound of contemporary satire.  So much of the energy of our society is focused on consumerism.  We are told:  Buy this, and it will make you happy (or secure, or lovable, or important, or good-looking...).  I could hear Isaiah making fun of the people who conceive and create these products, who give their lives to their promotion, and the way we buy these things and think they will make us happy.  ...the way we buy the whole consumer's mentality, and waste our attention on idols.

The passage from Ephesians urges us to stop thinking this way -- "you shouldn't live your life like the Gentiles anymore."  (4:17b)  Don't base your life on "pointless thinking."  Don't just do "whatever feels good."  Give up "greed."  (4:17-19)

Instead of following your "deceitful desires" (21), "renew the thinking of your mind by the Spirit and clothe yourself with the new person created according to God's image in justice and true holiness." (23-24)  I think it is interesting that the first word he cites as the antidote to a life based on the whims of desires and greed is "justice."  Justice has to do with the economic security and rights of others, of all people.  It may be that the first victim of greed and self-centeredness is justice. 

So, what advice does Ephesians offer us to turn us away from that failed way of life?

First -- tell the truth.  Scott Peck's famous book The Road Less Traveled says that the starting point for the serious spiritual path is an absolute commitment to the truth.  No more little white lies.  No more convenient shades of truth. 

Next, Ephesians says, let go of anger.  Watch your tongue.  "Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander." (31)  Don't take anything that belongs to another.  Work constructively.  And, the purpose of work -- this is interesting -- is so that you "will have something to share with whoever is in need."  (28)

The bottom line:  "Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other." (32)  That pretty well covers it, doesn't it?  If each of us could be kind, compassionate, and forgiving we would change our world. 

The writer closes this passage with a comforting motivation for such a high and challenging calling.  "Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ." (32)  It's only just.  (Justice)  God has been infinitely kind, compassionate, and forgiving to me.  Can't I just relax into that reality and offer the same to others?


Lowell
______________



Audio podcast:  Listen to an audio podcast of the most recent Morning Reflections from today and the past week.  Go to: http://www.stpaulsfay.org/id244.html

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 http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html

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

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 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

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