Verse 12: “As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you should lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.”
Wednesday, May 6, 2020
Year A 4th Easter WEDNESDAY 2020 Lead A Life Worthy
Year A 4th Sunday of Easter WEDNESDAY, 6 May 2020
Video service for St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
“Lead A Life Worthy”
Collect: O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12
You yourselves know, brothers and sisters, that our coming to you was not in vain, but though we had already suffered and been shamefully maltreated at Philippi, as you know, we had courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of great opposition. For our appeal does not spring from deceit or impure motives or trickery, but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the message of the gospel, even so we speak, not to please mortals, but to please God who tests our hearts. As you know and as God is our witness, we never came with words of flattery or with a pretext for greed; nor did we seek praise from mortals, whether from you or from others, though we might have made demands as apostles of Christ. But we were gentle among you, like a nurse tenderly caring for her own children. So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you have become very dear to us.
You remember our labour and toil, brothers and sisters; we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was towards you believers. As you know, we dealt with each one of you like a father with his children, urging and encouraging you and pleading that you should lead a life worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Good morning. I wanted to focus on this theme, “right living.” It flows through this morning’s readings. The verse that struck me most was that last one from St. Paul to the church in Thessaloniki.
We look at this differently when we see things from a different perspective.
Jesus told a story of two brothers. One did what was asked of him after saying he wouldn’t. One said he would do it, but then didn’t. Attitude, and Follow Through both make a big difference, but actions speak much louder than words. We can talk a good game, and appear to be pious and holy like the best of saints, but we can still be a stinker on the inside with a rotten core. When God was speaking through Samuel to call David he summed it up well, “Man looks on the outward appearances, but God looks on the heart.” And the Heart is the heart of the matter.
We do what we ought because that is what freedom is. One of the great tragedies of our day is that somewhere along the way we picked up the spoiled brat way of thinking that Freedom is doing what we want. One of the great strengths of our nation was that we believed if people were given the ability to choose the best, and they were educated so that their choices were worth something then we would have the greatest nation, the most godly nation, the bright and shining city on the hill that would be an exemplar of the human mind and spirit, and that it would bring glory to God.
But somewhere we allowed a lie to come in and speak as if it were truth. “I can do what I want and nobody has any ability to tell me what to do.” Nothing can be further from the biblical mandate that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, as they are ours. We are all mutually accountable and beholden to one another. I uphold the minority opinion’s rights, and one day they will uphold mine. Somewhere along the way we made it a game where there were winners and there were losers. Sometimes that language was blatant. God forgive us. When we devolved to that level of discourse we all lost. We all became Losers.
Today there are debates on caring for the Least of These. Others saying that more will be hurt if we do not get back to normal soon. Either way a hard choice will have to be made, and both will cost us dearly. It reminds me of a joke.
A chicken and a pig loved their farmer, and they wanted to do something nice. So they decided to make him breakfast in bed. The chicken thought it was brilliant. Eggs and bacon. What could be better, the chicken thought. The pig stopped him though, and reminded the chicken, “What for you would be a gift, for me would be the ultimate sacrifice.” Some are demanding this very ridiculous stretch on our front pages. That is hard to believe. I pray for wisdom and caution in these days.
We are encouraged to make the choices we make out of love. If it is out of obligation it is not love. In our personal ethics, and in our societal ethos, both require us to move and find our truest selves in the love of God, neighbor, and self. As St. Paul said, may we live a life worthy of God. Amen