Our Savior's Shared Journey
The heart of our Sunday Worship for the month of August will continue to be the readings from Ephesians. The Serendipity Study Bible we use at the Wednesday Morning Bible Study at Our Saviors describes the book's characteristics this way:
In this letter, Paul takes us to the mountaintops of Christian truth and invites us to look at the breathtaking view! When we do so, we will see that it is Jesus Christ who dominates that view. We see him breaking down the wall between God and humanity. We see him subduing hostile cosmic powers. We see him creating the church, a new social order of love and unity that transcends the racial, ethnic and social distinctions between people. In conveying this vision, Paul reaches into eternity past and eternity future to demonstrate how God, out of his love and glory, calls people to be reconciled to himself and to one another through the cross of Christ. The cross provides forgiveness of sins, a new life and a new people.
We will explore that call on our church to live and love as “the church, a new social order of love and unity that transcends the racial, ethnic and social distinctions between people.” How does that work? What is Jesus doing with God’s love in our time and place? How do we function with that abundance in ways that matter? Those are the kinds of questions we will continue to explore as this preaching series continues through August.
If you want a more detailed look at the book of Ephesians, feel free to join the Wednesday Morning Bible Study as that group concurrently studies it together this month as well (10 AM each Wednesday in Rooms 3,4,5, across from the Main Kitchen).
You might be wondering, “Why this series on Ephesians? Why now?” The simplest answer is “It’s in the Lectionary.” The Revised Common Lectionary is the weekly series of readings used by many churches, of a variety of denominations, as the focal point of their Sunday Worship. The Revised Common Lectionary was the product of a collaboration between the North American Consultation on Common Texts (CCT) and the International English Language Liturgical Consultation (ELLC), released in 1994.
A similar guide had been in use for decades by churches in the CCT membership, such as Lutheran, North American Anglican (Episcopal), Presbyterian, and more loosely, Methodist. It also includes the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops as well as many traditional liturgically-based American and Canadian Episcopal and Protestant Churches. In the Lectionary, readings are prescribed for each Sunday: a passage typically from the Old Testament, or the Acts of the Apostles; a passage from one of the Psalms; another from either the Epistles or the Book of Revelation; and finally a passage from one of the four Gospels. This guideline runs in three-year cycles; the gospel readings in the first year (Year A) are taken from the Gospel of Matthew, those in the second year (or Year B) from the Gospel of Mark, and in the third year (or Year C) come from the Gospel of Luke. Portions of the Gospel of John are read throughout.
This year, Year B, we have been reading Lessons from Mark, and the Epistle Lessons for mid-July through August are from Ephesians.
I decided to focus on Ephesians in this Summer Series because of this book’s encouragement to the Christian community to live fully in the abundance of God’s grace.
I invite you on that journey with me!