Tag Archives: Proper 14b

Make it up as you go along?

Today we read on in the part of Ephesians where Paul sets out the consequences of Christian faith. (The reading is Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2)

25 Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body.

Ephesians 4:25

Last week I pointed out that the letter to Ephesians divides at 4:1 between what God has done (chapters 1-3) and the consequences (4-6). There is always the temptation to think we know already. How often do we hear “I know right from wrong!”. I suggest we need to look carefully, to re-read the instructions. Look at this verse. Lying is normal in many societies, now as always. Yet it causes great problems.

If Christians were known as people who always spoke truly, think of the difference it would make! There would be great demand for them in politics, management, unions, caring professions, police . . But Christians aren’t known for telling the truth, which is a pity.

But it is about far more than job opportunities. Think about ourselves. Lying is often about boasting, or trying to protect yourself. What if we told, and knew, the truth about ourselves? Self-assessment with humility and honesty, but not leaving out the positives: gifts, opportunities, abilities to serve. There would be real advantages, but how are we to get there? We would have to develop the habit of speaking the truth among ourselves – with proper respect, and honest re-direction of misunderstanding and false ambition.

Then, what about the truth about other people? Are they celebrity superstars, or rubbish? Neither, of course. They are sinners, like us. Flawed, but with the hope of repentance, forgiveness, and new life given by a gracious God. We need to be honest about that, and ready to speak of it.

I could go on. What about the truth about what we are doing to our environment? About the true need for Fair Trade? How does God truly see our church, and others? If we were known as people who could be relied on to tell the truth, with gentle respect, trust among Christians would increase, giving a new quality to fellowship between believers. Christians would be more valued in the community.

So, yes, truth is important. It needs more thought and practice. And this is just the first verse of 8 in the 2nd reading of 3. We don’t know it all; we need to look more carefully, and then with God’s help, to practice!

EAT me?

As we continue to read John 6 (this week, John 6:35 and 6:41-51), we see the crowd arguing.  First comes the old complaint: He can’t be special, he comes from our neighbourhood, and we know him.  Some people still take offence at the idea, not just that Jesus is special, but that he is much more than “one of us”, and one who must be followed and obeyed.

Verses 44 and 45 gives us two sides of a puzzle.  God must draw people to Christ and belief, yet any who want to find truth can be sure of help.  Each side is helpful – we need to understand that some people will not hear, but also that none who want to learn are refused.

The “bread of life” is one of the important “I am” sayings.  It would be dangerous and wrong to make it a magical understanding of receiving Holy Communion, and equally wrong to ignore the connection to the service in which we give thanks (“eucharist”) above all for the sacrifice of Jesus death and the triumph of his resurrection – the central points of faith.  We do that with more than words, with action, and by eating.

Is it just eating? No. To gobble stolen consecrated bread would be of no advantage.  It is about feeding on Jesus – through his teaching, his life, understood, obeyed, absorbed by the power of the Holy Spirit into our life, transforming from within the person.  What is eaten becomes part of me, provides energy, rebuilds my body, alters my mood.  Eating together with other believers brings us together, as sharing a meal always does.  With them we worship, becoming more like what we hold worth praising, and give thanks (remembering how much there is to be thankful for), and by our prayers try to work with God and with one another.

Jesus gives everything for us.  We are invited to receive what he gives, to let it become part of us, to change us, to energise and direct us.  Never a mere ritual, an act of personal worship may assist and advance the process.