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Sitting with Paul, waiting for words to share with his friends

by davesandel on September 21st, 2021

Tuesday, September 21, 2021                                    (today’s lectionary)

Sitting with Paul, waiting for words to share with his friends

Grace was given to each of us.

But there’s so much that could be said. Paul sat outside a silversmith’s shop on a rough wooden bench. He held his pen above the parchment. Usually when he wrote a letter as important as this one, he waited to write until he felt God writing through his hand, through his fingers, through his pen.

Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received.

Paul had received a call. His brothers Barnabas, Titus and Timothy received calls. But what about those Ephesians? Had they really heard God call them? They were Greeks. They did not own a single shofar. They listened to river sirens that called them to unlikely trysts. Could they hear God?

Paul struggled to overcome his prejudice. His Greek friends enriched his life, filled his heart with joy, sometimes even playing with him like children. They even flew kites together in the spring. Not a single one of Paul’s Jewish buddies had ever flown a kite with him.

Bear with one another through love, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, and strive to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

I like that, Lord. Paul loved it when God spoke through him and he had time to notice it. You’re using all kinds of good words to tell them to “love God and love your neighbor.” Humility, be modest. Gentleness, be calm. Patience, be unflappable. Seek the Spirit, and all these attitudes will converge into love, and they will lead you into a peaceful life.

But Paul knew being “called” meant much more than that. This experience with God was for others even more than for his friends themselves. Could they overcome their Edenic selfishness to be called by God to his Kingdom? Could Paul? Over and over he asked himself that question. Day by day he sinned in his selfishness, then confessed and was forgiven. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. He knew neither he nor they could do this on their own.

Jesus spoke to all of us, the Pharisees and the disciples, to Paul and the Ephesians:

Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do. Go and learn the meaning of the words, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.

And none of us is righteous, not even one. All of nature groans, waiting for us to lead the way back to righteousness, and we aren’t moving very fast.

The heavens declare the glory of God … day pours out the word to day, and night to night imparts knowledge.

And God wants me, Paul, to focus on our oneness, not our division. In our membership in the family of God lies our hope on earth. We do not need to be separate, or selfish, or miserable. We are one.

You have been called to one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all, who is over all and through all and in all.

I don’t know if you can say it any better than that, Lord. Your words are like honey on my lips. Let me get this letter sent while the ink is still wet. What a gift your words are for us, Lord. We cry Glory!

(Ephesians 4, Psalm 19, Matthew 9)

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