Thursday, April 25, 2013

Dying to Live

Thursday, April 25, 2013 -- Week of 4 Easter
St. Mark the Evangelist

[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)
EITHER the readings for Thursday of 4 Easter (p. 960)
Psalms       50 (morning)        [59, 60] or 114, 115 (evening)
Wisdom 5:9-23
Colossians 2:8-23
Luke 6:39-49

OR the readings for St. Mark, (p. 997)
Morning Prayer:  Psalm 145   Ecclesiasticus 2:1-11   Acts 12:25-13:3
Evening Prayer:  Psalms 67, 96   Isaiah 62:6-12   Timothy 4:1-11

(I chose the readings for Thursday of 4 Easter)

A few unconnected thoughts today.

What happens after we die?  Nobody knows, of course.  The disciples' experience of the resurrection of Jesus is the foundation of the church's hope of the resurrection of the body.  In other parts of scripture we find other beliefs -- after death there is nothing; or a shadowy semi-existence in Hades; or the immortality of the soul; or reward for some in heaven and punishment for some in Hell; or the healing of all life raised into God's eternal victory. 

The Wisdom of Solomon proposes that the righteous will live as immortal souls, comforted by God in a life of peace that rewards their earthy virtue and reverses history's injustice.  For the unrighteous, Wisdom proposes dishonor and permanent extinction rather than permanent punishment.  Some images from today's reading:  for destiny of the unrighteous, they will be like the trail of a ship after it has passed through water, or the invisibility of the path of a bird that has flown past or of an arrow that has been shot.  Nothing is left behind.  "But the (souls of the) righteous live forever," says the Wisdom of Solomon.

Colossians picks up on some baptismal imagery, connecting it with Jewish circumcision.  Baptism is the ritual of incorporation and identity for Christians just as circumcision is the ritual of incorporation and identity for Jewish males.  Baptism is like a "spiritual circumcision" (NRSV) or a "circumcision made without hands" (literal Greek).  Colossians picks up the death, burial and resurrection imagery of baptism.  "When you were buried with (Christ) in baptism, you were also raised with him through faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead."  For Christians, our life after death is here and now, our life after our burial in baptism.

Baptism is a rich symbol.  Among other things, it is a ritual drowning of our old self, a death of our old identity grounded upon our own family and our human power.  Under the waters of this drowning we are united with Christ in his death, and we are raised to the new life of his resurrection.  Our identity is profoundly changed.  We now belong to Christ.  His resurrection life is our inheritance.  We are filled with divine Spirit so we live "in Christ."

One little note about the reading from Luke.  Jesus' statements in this section of the Sermon on the Plain emphasize our obedience of faith through our actions.  Take care of your own faults and shortcomings before criticizing another.  Be a good tree that bears good fruit.  If you hear his words and act on them, you are like the man who built a house on the strong foundation.  Actions speak louder than words.

So, letting Colossians and Luke speak to one another...  We could say that in baptism we have died and been reborn in order to live in Christ.  We have a strong foundation that empowers us to live loving, compassionate, and fruitful lives. 

Each morning we can remind ourselves of this journey.  As we awaken from the death of sleep we are reborn into a life that has been blessed and given to us by God.  Be thankful.  Rejoice.  And whatever good we can do, do that.


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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