The New Community
Wednesday, January 16, 2013 -- Week of 2 Epiphany (Year One)
Richard Meux Benson and Charles Gore,
Religious, 1915; Bishop of Worcester, of Birmingham, and of Oxford, 1912
[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. 942)
Psalms 119:1-24 (morning) // 12, 13, 14 (evening)
[Sorry to be late posting. I was out much of the night with a pastoral emergency. Slept as late as I could. Here is something I wrote a few years ago.]
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, the world is 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."