Submit To One Another

Photo credit here

S (Scripture): Ephesians 5:21 and submit to each other out of respect for Christ. 22 For example, wives should submit to their husbands as if to the Lord. 23 A husband is the head of his wife like Christ is head of the church, that is, the savior of the body. 24 So wives submit to their husbands in everything like the church submits to Christ. 25 As for husbands, love your wives just like Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. 26 He did this to make her holy by washing her in a bath of water with the word. 27 He did this to present himself with a splendid church, one without any sort of stain or wrinkle on her clothes, but rather one that is holy and blameless. 28 That’s how husbands ought to love their wives—in the same way as they do their own bodies. Anyone who loves his wife loves himself. 29 No one ever hates his own body, but feeds it and takes care of it just like Christ does for the church 30 because we are parts of his body. 31 This is why a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two of them will be one body.32 Marriage is a significant allegory, and I’m applying it to Christ and the church. 33 In any case, as for you individually, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and wives should respect their husbands.

O (Observation) & A (Application): Paul, Paul, Paul… I love you, bro… but sometimes you make my life difficult.

I love the allegory. The patriarchal language? Not so much.

Some people like to point to this kind of language and use it to make women subservient to their husbands.

Some people like to point to marriage being male and female, due to texts like these.

Here’s the deal: in Christ, spouses submit to each other. This is true for ALL relationships, but especially for those who commit to spending their lives with one another.

The Church submits to Christ, and Christ does not abuse that submission. When someone submits to you, you don’t abuse that person. Submission takes trust and faith. We don’t take advantage of that trust and faith.

So, whoever you’re married to, respect that person, like Christ respects us. We can still correct and challenge one another, but we will always respect them.

And, unfortunately, when we fail to respect the other…or we see that the joy of loving one another cannot be brought back, then separation may be called for. And if that’s the best course of action…if a damaged relationship is beyond repair, know that you are doing the right thing.

Love ya, Paul, and I get what you’re saying. So yes, let us respect one another.

P (Prayer): Lord, help us to see that you are the norm for what relationship looks like. Amen.

Advertisements

Trust in God: So Simple, so Difficult

Photo credit here

S (Scripture): Isaiah 30:

1

Doom to you, rebellious children, says the Lord,

    who make a plan, which is not mine;

    who weave a plot, but not by my spirit,

        piling up sin on sin;

    setting out to go down to Egypt without consulting me,

    taking refuge in Pharaoh’s refuge and hiding in Egypt’s shadow.

Pharaoh’s refuge will become your shame,

    hiding in Egypt’s shadow your disgrace.

    all will become shamed because of a people who can’t assist them.

They are no help; they are no profit;

    rather, shame and disgrace.

19 People in Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no longer. God will certainly be merciful to you. Hearing the sound of your outcry, God will answer you.

23 God will provide rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food the ground produces will be rich and abundant. On that day, your cattle will graze in large pastures. 24 The oxen and donkeys that are working the ground will eat tasty feed spread for them with shovel and fork.

O (Observation): God gives both correction and mercy. God guides people, reminding them that their earthly notions of protection are feeble compared to God’s reign.

Hide in Egypt’s shadow? Not gonna help!

Hide behind earthly armies? Futile!

But what does God’s mercy look like? Like a parent who cares for their crying child. Like rain for the seeds planted. So that an abundance comes forth from the ground – satisfying animal and human alike.

Trust in God’s mercies, not your own schemes, people of God…

A (Application): Trust in God. Sounds like a cop out.

Does that mean we don’t make plans? Certainly not!

Trust in God means to do the most loving thing you can do in any given moment. This is trust, because doing the most loving thing means we may be putting ourselves at risk: our finances, our physical or emotional well-being, our safety, our plans…

Trusting in God is a TALL order. It’s not for the faint of heart.

If you struggle with this, you are not alone. Just recall the words from Isaiah 30. Hear how God tells the people that their schemes of this earth are pointless, futile. Instead, God, who can move mountains, can and will work together all things in great love for you and me and all of us. This can be a win-win situation.

Trust in God. Let others in. Let the Spirit move you this day.

P (Prayer): God, help me listen to you and trust in you. Amen.

What are Your Values?

Photo credit here

S (Scripture): Ephesians 4:29 Don’t let any foul words come out of your mouth. Only say what is helpful when it is needed for building up the community so that it benefits those who hear what you say. 30 Don’t make the Holy Spirit of God unhappy—you were sealed by him for the day of redemption. 31 Put aside all bitterness, losing your temper, anger, shouting, and slander, along with every other evil. 32 Be kind, compassionate, and forgiving to each other, in the same way God forgave you in Christ.

5:1 Therefore, imitate God like dearly loved children. 2 Live your life with love, following the example of Christ, who loved us and gave himself for us. He was a sacrificial offering that smelled sweet to God.

O (Observation): Paul instructs the Christian community he established to honor God with their lips and lives. They have been forgiven and set free from the standards of the world – pride, envy, anger – and have been given something else to live for: love, kindness, compassion.

A (Application): I wonder if we as a Christian community can find ways to speak in support of our refugee brothers and sisters AND find ways to do it without assuming other people share our values. This is the crux of Christian engagement in the world.

How do we show Christian love when others don’t share our values? What do we do about other Christians who don’t share our values?

I have a hard time dealing with people who don’t share values of love, kindness, and compassion. They say they are being compassionate, but typically that means being compassionate towards their own self / community.

We are good at looking at others and saying that THOSE people have something screwed up internally, but when WE are at fault, it is usually something beyond our control. Or we just deny fault of any kind.

May we find that all of us receive forgiveness from the faults we possess. May we find grace and compassion are the ways forward.

P (Prayer): Lord, helps us to see that you are our source of grace, and that all of us need it to be sustained. Amen.

Holy Work

Photo credit here. By the way, this is a video describing the ELCA’s program, Young Adults in Global Mission.

S (Scripture): Ephesians 2:8 You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith (or, through his faithfulness.). This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. 9 It’s not something you did that you can be proud of. 10 Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives.

O (Observation): Debate continues on the emphasis of the faith. Is it God’s faithfulness to us, or our faith that saves us? Either way, we have reconciled this by stating that “our” faith only comes to us as a gift of the Spirit. So, in the end, the onus is on God. God stirs up faith in us.

Is our level of faith in direct correlation to our kind acts (or perverse / sinful acts)? Certainly not!

God’s Grace is a gift – a gift we have in abundance!

We are created in Christ Jesus to do good! This is our purpose.

A (Application): How often do we cut ourselves short when it comes to our ability to serve others in the name of God? We have a perceived inability to do miracles and wonders in Christ!

Faith turns us from our selfish desires towards looking for the ultimate good in ourselves and others. Faith calls on us to look for the Christ in the other: the poor, the homeless, the outcast, the refugee, the immigrant. In doing so, we cannot help but to serve and to love our neighbor in need.

Where are you feeling called to serve? Whether in Christ’s name or just from the goodness of your heart. Do that work, and see a miracle!

P (Prayer): Lord, remind us of your presence in our lives! Stir our hearts towards the holy work to which you call us. Amen.

The Indwelling of Christ

Photo credit here

S (Scripture): Ephesians 1:20 God’s power was at work in Christ when God raised him from the dead and sat him at God’s right side in the heavens, 21 far above every ruler and authority and power and angelic power, any power that might be named not only now but in the future. 22 God put everything under Christ’s feet and made him head of everything in the church, 23 which is his body. His body, the church, is the fullness of Christ, who fills everything in every way.

O (Observation): The Church is the BODY OF CHRIST! Has that sunken in???!!!

We are not just sinful ole me and sinful ole you! We are ALSO THE INCARNATION OF THE CHRIST!!!

Saint and Sinner.

Slave and Free.

A (Application): And we have power and authority from God! We are no longer bound by the status quo of Christianity.

We are no longer bound by what people might say about us if we push for human rights for all people.

We are no longer bound by what people might say about us if we sponsor and have a booth at the BoroPride event in September.

We are no longer bound by what people might say about us if we feed the homeless without wondering why they might be “taking advantage” of us.

We are the fullness of Christ. As we reset our minds to believe this, miracles happen. Not of our own doing, but of God working through us.

The immigrant realizes that someone cares about them.

The gay couple realizes that God loves them unconditionally.

The homeless person is fed and realizes they are loved.

It’s very basic, but deeply profound. We are the body of Christ. We are Christ.

P (Prayer): Gracious God, help us to see that you do indeed dwell within us. Amen.

P.s. If you are interested in how Lutherans are involved with the resettlement of refugees and immigrants, check out the website for Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services: LIRS.org.

We are a Dazzling Bouquet!

(If you wanna hear the song “Dazzling Bouquet” performed by its original artist, check it out here. If you wanna hear it as performed and sung during the Southeastern Synod’s time together during the 2018 ELCA Youth Gathering, check it out here.)

Photo credit here

S (Scripture): Ephesians 1:4 God chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in God’s presence before the creation of the world. 5 God destined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ because of his love. This was according to his goodwill and plan 6 and to honor his glorious grace that he has given to us freely through the Son whom he loves… 10 This is what God planned for the climax of all times: to bring all things together in Christ, the things in heaven along with the things on earth.

O (Observation): Paul reminds us that God’s joy is that we are adopted as God’s children through Jesus Christ…because of his love.

God is bringing things together though the universal nature of Christ’s existence. Somehow we catch glimpses of God’s Kingdom here on earth. Christ is ultimately working all towards that end. That all will know the love of God.

A (Application): Seems hard for us to know the love of God these days. Social media fights, immigration challenges, discrimination against those in the LGBTQ+ community, those who don’t speak English as their native tongue.

Yet the promise of God is real. We are quite the dazzling bouquet on this earth. My hope is that the Christ in us shines forth when we interact with those on the margins of our society.

In the building of relationships, we find a deep joy…because this is why we were made: to know and love one another. We can’t do that when we begin with judgment. Let God judge. You? Just love one another. Unconditionally.

P (Prayer): Lord, remind us how to love and how to look without eyes of judgment. Amen.

Wickedness…Then and Now

Photo credit here

S (Scripture): Isaiah 10:

1

Doom to those who pronounce wicked decrees,

    and keep writing harmful laws

    to deprive the needy of their rights

    and to rob the poor among my people of justice;

    to make widows their loot;

    to steal from orphans!

What will you do on the day of punishment

    when disaster comes from far away?

To whom will you flee for help;

    where will you stash your wealth?

How will you avoid crouching among the prisoners

    and falling among the slain?

Even so, God’s anger hasn’t turned away;

    God’s hand is still extended.

O (Observation): God-followers were held accountable for their actions towards the most vulnerable.

A (Application): God-followers are held accountable for their actions towards the most vulnerable.

#ImmigrationReform

#Homelessness

P (Prayer): Lord, wake us up to the atrocities that we are perpetuating as an American society. Help us to see Christ in every neighbor. Amen.