Video from St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
Collect: Almighty and everlasting God, who in the Paschal mystery established the new covenant of reconciliation: Grant that all who have been reborn into the fellowship of Christ's Body may show forth in their lives what they profess by their faith; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
I Peter 2:9-10 (End of read passage, vv. 1-10)
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.
Once you were not a people,
but now you are God’s people;
once you had not received mercy,
but now you have received mercy.
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
I am reading Amazing Grace about the amazing Englishman who fought and defeated the slave trade in the British Empire, which led to its disestablishment worldwide. Yesterday afternoon I read the chapter on his conversion. Known for his intellect, wit, singing voice, and tiny stature, William Wilberforce was a powerful politician driven and ambitious who became a complete and total sell-out to his faith. In college he had refused to sign a statement of ascent to the Nicene Creed. But after a trip with a powerful thinker and clergyman, he begins to find that he is believing the very things he renounced just a few years before. What Wilberforce came to realize was that if he truly believed what he found himself believing, that it would have to play out in his life. It could not be halfway, or lip-service only. For him to believe his life would have to show it. His best friend happened to be the Prime Minister, William Pitt. And once he knew he truly believed he would have to step down from his position in Parliament and devote his life to this new reality.
In our reading today, we see Peter recognizing a new reality in Christ.
you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people;once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.We are God’s people. We have received mercy. As the old hymn intones, “No turning back, no turning back.”
As I mentioned in my email article yesterday, I feel that we have crossed a cultural Rubicon. I feel that after this plague, most especially in the USA, we will need to be different. There is no longer a choice. The pace, the animosity, the divisions served no one, and the culture of convenience has created an underclass we now deem “essential” when before we treated them as disposable. (And we still do.) God forgive us!
I hope and pray we can move to the culture that Jesus described as the Kingdom of God/Heaven, and that Martin Luther King, Jr. described as the Beloved Community. I am praying and focusing on what is to come. If all of this goes by and we are unchanged, what a waste. What a sinful waste.
What are you feeling God is saying to you about what is to come? What do you feel God may be asking of you as we emerge from this season?
Kasey and I were talking the other day, and I shared with her my favorite quote. It is always funny when we get to know new people and we get to share the things we hold most dear. It is a slow process, and what I take for granted, she found new and refreshing. William Blake has a poem with this line:
And we are put on earth a little space,
That we may learn to bear the beams of love...
And part of that “little space” is this little space we find ourselves in is an opportunity for us to learn to bear, and SHARE, the beams of love we receive from an everliving, everloving God. God bless us. What are we willing to let go because we truly believe this, like Wilberforce? Amen