Daily Worship

A Holy Box!

January 04, 2022 0
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Image credit: Unsplash

Ephesians 1: 3-14 (NRSVA)

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. 5 He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace 8 that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight 9 he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 11 In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, 12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; 14 this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory.

During a retreat in Assisi, reflecting on the life of St Francis, I visited the little box of a house where Francis lived, prayed, fasted, wrote, sang, healed and lived his simple life. Above the door are inscribed the words, “Hoc locus sanctus est” (“This is a holy place.”).

For me it was a holy place that held me transfixed for an hour or more. I could not go in.

After standing for a long time in awed silence, I read the opening chapter of Ephesians, that cascading song of grace flowing from the heart of God in a lavish flourish of redemptive love and ending with the gathering of all things in Christ. The phrase, “for the pleasure of his glorious grace” sang with meaning as I stood where Francis had lived in the free joy of that grace in joyful praise and practical generosity of spirit. It was an invitation to live with fresh delight in God and his world.

I invite you to read these words pouring from the heart of the writer in one single, breathless sentence of 232 Greek words. Now stand still and let the grace of God cascade over you.

 

PRAYER:

 

God our Father, we stand amazed in your presence,

At blessing upon blessing

Showered on us lavishly in Christ,

our brother

In the flesh and in the Spirit.

 

God our Father, we stand as your adopted children

united with Christ,

in the flesh and in the Spirit.

Loved from eternity to eternity:

In Christ, redeemed and forgiven.

In Christ, chosen to be holy and blameless.

In Christ, adopted as God’s children.

In Christ, gathered up with heaven and earth.

In Christ, sealed as your own by the Spirit.

 

God and Father of us all,

we pray today

For all whose identity is uncertain

Through accident of birth, or questions of gender,

Through cultural confusion or social exclusion,

Through roles that hi-jack them, or expectations that oppress them.

Hold each one in your embrace.

Lavish on them Your glorious grace

Till each knows themselves as eternally Yours

Through the redeeming love of Jesus. AMEN