Daily Worship

Treasured Co-workers

August 05, 2021 2
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Image credit: Unsplash

Ephesians 4: 1-16 (NRSVA)

1 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

7 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. 8 Therefore it is said,

‘When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
    he gave gifts to his people.’

9 (When it says, ‘He ascended’, what does it mean but that he had also descended[a] into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) 11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

Paul in this letter recounts a story which would have been a common sight to all to all who lived in Rome. It is that of a returning conquering hero. The crowd cheer as the hero returns with his entourage of captives and the spoils of the battle. Only this hero breaks with all norms. He turns and unchains the slaves and gives each a gift including their freedom. Paul suggests this is what Christ has done. He has turned slaves into citizens with gifts to upbuild the kingdom. Each of us must see ourselves in this story of liberation. What gift is it that Jesus our victor and hero is handing to us for the mutual benefit of all? If we say we are part of the Christian community we have a responsibility to be part of the story of harmony and growth that Paul speaks of with such conviction and eloquence.

Communities can either live in harmony and unity or become sources of canker and division. This reading emphasis the importance of unity — we are called to become worthy of our name and inheritance. We are called to seek the unity of the community of faith in the bond of peace. One body, one Spirit, and one baptism. The wonderful picture of Christ the victor making the captives into citizens and giving them the gifts of his victory is surely there to inspire us. The vision is no longer guilty rebels but treasured co-workers in Christ.

Listen to ‘Holy Spirit, living Breath of God’ sung by the SF praise band.

 

Only You Can Unlock The Suitcase Of Time

 

Lord of time and eternity

What a journey

You have taken us on

You alone are worthy and above all qualified

To open the suitcase of living stories

Revealing the shame of David

And the shocking cost of Calvary

To tell the greatest salvation story of all time and eternity

 

Lord of time and eternity

To the angels — the story is outrageous

To sinners, like us,  — impossible

That God would proclaim that sins can be forgiven

Lives that have been ruined — given new meaning

And then invite himself into our stories of failure and loss

That we too might be reconciled and forgiven

 

Lord of time and eternity

Today I bow in adoration

And treasure the gift

You have placed in my hands

I will hold it and share it with great joy

And treasure the retelling

Of redemption story

Time and time again