Since the Jimmy Buffett series is over, I am returning to the lectionary--but jumping a week ahead. So this is actually the Epistle reading for the 10th Sunday of Pentecost.
On first glance, one would think that first church Ephesus had major problems and we could all take a deep breath and celebrate the fact that we don’t attend THAT church. However, scholars tell us that Ephesians was not written to a particular church, rather Ephesians was intended to be circulated among many congregations. Unlike Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, this letter is not directed toward a particular congregation with particular congregations but to many congregations struggle with typical congregational struggles. In other words, this letter is written to us!
Over the next two weeks, we are going to reflect on some of the advice given to those congregations. This week’s scripture focuses on the kind of new life Christians are empowered to live thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit within them.
25So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27and do not make room for the devil. 28Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.
5Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. Ephesians 4:25-5:2
• Notice that anger is not considered sinful in and of itself. What does that teach us about how Christians should respond to their feelings of anger?
• How does this passage teach us about how we should speak to one another?
• This passage is directed toward Christians—those who are being saved. Are you surprised that this passage infers that there might be Christian thieves? What does that mean for us as a Christian community? Why does the author suggest thieves should not steal? What does that teach the rest of us?
• If we are called to be imitators of God, how should we treat others?
As we prepare to celebrate Holy Communion this week, let’s reflect on what this passage teaches us about the invitation to Holy Communion to those who “earnestly seek to live in peace with one another” and which also calls on us to the body and blood of Christ for the world?