Year B 2nd Sunday After Epiphany WEDNESDAY, 20 January 2021
Video Service from St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA
Collect: Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ is the light of the world: Grant that your people, illumined by your Word and Sacraments, may shine with the radiance of Christ's glory, that he may be known, worshipped, and obeyed to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be associated with them. For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light-- for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, "Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
I was speaking with the Vestry on Monday, and I talked about how I would be doubling down on emphasizing our commitment and devotion to Jesus. Our allegiance to the Kingdom of God must be greater than any worldly commitments. On this day of all days, I have to emphasize this.
When Paul was writing the Ephesians, we are looking at a time of petty and corrupt officials, folks who focused on the minors or the abhorrent. He urged the Church in Ephasus to be radically different from those in the culture surrounding them. We do not stoop to their level. We do not acknowledge these if they are in our midst.
This is hard. We have to be beyond good. Blameless. Pure. Set Apart.
He speaks of being set out in the light so that we can be pure.
Think of bones, sitting in the desert sun. The light, so strong, so blinding, strips all that is not pure away.
Children of the Light, that is our calling.
A phrase I used with the Vestry is that we need to share light, not heat. That is one of the rules of thumb I attempt to use personally when I share things, either in a sermon or online. Now we cannot control how people hear what we say, or receive what we write, but we still need to be as “enlightening” as we possibly can.
Paul calls us to rid ourselves of “obscene, silly, and vulgar talk.” Now I do not hear him speaking to playful banter or joking with friends, but taking it to the vulgar is never appropriate. We all know of examples where this was done, and how we should dismiss these folks and walk away. What should we do?
“Let there be thanksgiving,” Paul tells us. Our speech should be appreciative. We can find the good. We can share the positive. This is not being Pollyanna, but rather a life approach. We need not dwell in the sewer. We need to stoop to being hostile or vane. We do not have to match tit-for-tat. Christ Jesus came for us to have another way. That is our Good News.
On this day of all days, I thank God that I can be a Child of the Light, not to enlighten myself, but to share what I have found and make the world a better place. If we all did that, what a world it could be. Amen