Seventeenth Sunday after Trinity

Ephesians 4:1-6, Luke 14:1-11

I try to stay up with what is happening in some of the historic wings of the Church- including the Reformed tradition, and the Anglican tradition (see my toolbag). As I have said before, I have received much from men and women of many of the diverse displays of God’s grace at work in His churches. Last Sunday’s meditation by Robert Hart is one of the most recent examples. I greatly appreciated seeing again an important truth from the Scriptures through the eyes of a faithful Anglican.

Fr. Robert Hart

People today love to use the word “spiritual” as a substitute for genuine religion that makes moral demands. Saint Paul uses the word “spiritual” to mean overcoming the temptations of the world, the flesh and the Devil by walking in the Holy Spirit. The most practical thing we see in today’s Gospel and Epistle is that humility is essential for those who want to be spiritual. Also, since humility is necessary in order to be spiritual (as Saint Paul uses that word), it is also the key to peace among believers. Not only that, but it is the key to remaining orthodox. It is the element of character that we must have in order to bend our ears to hear, to be able to learn. The Hebrew word for hear, and for obey, is the same word: That word is Sh’mai. It takes humility to hear, and it takes humility to obey.  (read the complete meditation)

A classic reader: Humility, the Beauty of Holiness, by Andrew Murray

A matter of life and death

 Following our introduction of hell into the Lenten meditations, I can’t think of a better subject than that of the “provision of love” of the very God who is “angry”; the God who has prepared hell for the devil and his demons.

That in a nutshell is what the Cross of Jesus Christ is all about. That is what we must think of during this concentrated time called Lent. So how does the gift of life that is in Christ alone become ours? Here again, by lifting parts out of the Biblical narrative and out of their natural context, the Church of Jesus Christ continues to debate the “how-to”of escaping hell. This debate is so serious that the very symbol Christ gave us of our unity in Him, continues to be “a thorn in the flesh” to keep the churches from celebrating this sacrament together. And the watching world looks on amazed and amused.

Here is a brief look inside the Anglican discussion. It reminds me of a conference that Touchstone Magazine sponsored in 2001 on our “unity & the divisions” and why they must be sustained.

“In my preaching I have emphasized how much our service of Holy Communion stresses the Gospel message of Christ’s sacrifice, and also of the partaking/communion/fellowship we have with Him by receiving His life-giving Body and Blood. Our service emphasizes that we are celebrating a sacrament “generally necessary to salvation,”1 and that by faithful eating and drinking of it we have eternal life, feeding a future immortality that will be given to us by the Resurrected Christ when he comes on the Last Day. 2 In short, the emphasis of the Holy Communion service in Book of Common Prayer has everything to do with our salvation.” – Robert Hart

Read the full post and discussions,”Because He first Loved Us“.

I love and appreciate the ministry of Robert, but I would humbly submit to him and others, it is exactly because Christ and His Father loved us first that simply cannot remain divided before the watching world; especially over our different understandings/interpretations of the celebration of the Lord’s Table. We cannot and must not insist on the past luxury of remaining with those “just like us”; we must go forward to a “greater loyalty“(see earlier post).

Did Paul actually believe and teach this doctrine?

A careful reading of Paul’s letters reveals that he not only taught this as part of what Christ Jesus had actually accomplished, but that after encountering the living Christ on the Damascus Road, he actually lived this truth.  yearofpaulHowever, the sad truth seems to be that there have been very few since his day who appear to have believed it. As J.B.Phillips, in his book “Your God is too small” wrote more than fifty years ago, “The power of the dark old god, rooted no doubt in instinctive fear, is hard to shake, and a great many Christian writers, though possessing the brightest hopes of ‘life hereafter’ cannot, it seems, accept the abolition of death”.

Rev.Phillips was an Anglican Rector in London during the bombing of World War II, and started to translate portions of the New Testament into modern English for the youth of his church. Later with the urging of his friend C.S.Lewis, he published first one part and then another until it grew into the entire New Testament. Needless to say he was very well acquainted with the biblical narrative. As I picked up this little book again and read some of his conclusions, I was struck with how up to date it was for the skeptical society we now find ourselves in. Perhaps I will post more of his comments in a future blog.

Lenten Meditations: Week 3

 Rom 5  The Reign Of Christ

Rom 6  Dying to Live Free

Heb 2  Our Kinsman  Redeemer

Heb 3   Beware of Unbelief

I Cor 2  The Things of God Revealed

I Cor 3  The Temple God  Builds

Titus 3  Love and Kindness of God