Week of 8 Epiphany: Monday, Year 2   8 comments

Above:  A Bonfire

Image Source = Fir0002

Stumbling Blocks

NOT OBSERVED THIS YEAR

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Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.

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1 Peter 1:1-9 (Revised English Bible):

From Peter, apostle of Jesus Christ, to the scattered people of God now living as aliens in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen in the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the consecrating work of the Holy Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and sprinkling with his blood.

Grace and peace to you in fullest measure.

Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!  In his great mercy by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, he gave us new birth into a living hope, the hope of an inheritance, reserved in heaven for you, which nothing can destroy or spoil or wither.  Because you put your faith in God, you are under the protection of his power until the salvation now in readiness is revealed at the end of time.

This is cause for great joy, even though for a little while you may have had to suffer trials of many kinds.  Even gold passes through the assayer’s fire, and much more precious than perishable gold is faith which stands the test.  These trials come so that your faith may prove itself worthy of all praise, glory, and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed.

You have not seen him, yet you love him; and in trusting him now without seeing him, you are filled with a glorious joy too great for words, while you are reaping the harvest of your faith, that is, salvation for your souls.

Psalm 111 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Hallelujah!

I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,

in the assembly of the upright, in the congregation.

2 Great are the deeds of the LORD!

they are studied by all who delight in them.

3 His work is full of majesty and splendor,

and his righteousness endures for ever.

4 He makes his marvelous works to be remembered;

the LORD is gracious and full of compassion.

He gives food to those who fear him;

he is ever mindful of his covenant.

6 He has shown his people the power of his works

in giving them the lands of the nations.

7 The works of his hands are faithfulness and justice;

all his commandments are sure.

8 They stand fast for ever and ever,

because they are done in truth and equity.

He sent redemption to his people;

he commanded his covenant for ever;

holy and awesome is his Name.

10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;

those who act accordingly have a good understanding;

his praise endures for ever.

Mark 10:17-27 (Revised English Bible):

As he was starting out on a journey, a stranger ran up, and, kneeling before him, asked,

Good Teacher, what must I do to win eternal life?

Jesus said to him,

Why do you call me good?  No one is good except God alone.  You know the commandments:  “Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not give false evidence; do not defraud; honour your father and your mother.”

He replied,

But Teacher, I have kept all these since I was a boy.

As Jesus looked at him, his heart warmed to him.

One thing you lack,

he said.

Go, sell everything you have, and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come and follow me.

At these words his face fell and he went away with a heavy heart; for he was a man of great wealth.

Jesus looked round at his disciples and said to them,

How hard it is for the wealthy to enter the kingdom of God!

They were amazed that he should say this, but Jesus insisted.

Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!  It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.

They were more astonished than ever, and said to one another,

Then who can be saved?

Jesus looked at them and said,

For men it is impossible, but not for God; everything is possible for God.

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The Collect:

Most loving Father, whose will it is for us to give thanks for all things, to fear nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you who care for us: Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which you have manifested to us in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

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Some Related Posts:

Week of 8 Epiphany:  Monday, Year 1:

https://adventchristmasepiphany.wordpress.com/2010/11/05/week-of-8-epiphany-monday-year-1/

Matthew 19 (Parallel to Mark 10):

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/week-of-proper-15-monday-year-1/

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/13/week-of-proper-15-tuesday-year-1/

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Gold.  Sometimes it functions as an analogy of faithfulness.  Yet, at other times, it refers to great wealth, an inappropriate attachment to which constitutes a form of idolatry.

Early Christians were at risk of persecution, usually on the provincial, not empire-wide scale.  Many Christians died, and other suffered so severely (by mutilation and hard labor, often) that the dead were more fortunate; at least their pain had ended.  In this context the author of 1 Peter praised his audience for remaining faithful. These were hearty people; I wonder how I would have stood up under the pressure.  This is a purely counterfactual question, of course, but the answer in my mind makes me uncomfortable.

The wealthy man in the lesson from Mark trusted too much in his money and possessions, which had become spiritual stumbling blocks.  So Jesus told him to remove them, and the man could not bring himself to do it.  Whatever our stumbling blocks may be–wealth, habits, preconceptions, fear of persecution, et cetera, they need to go.  This is a difficult and timeless spiritual truth.

I owe my faith in part to my spiritual forebears who refused to permit any stumbling block, such as fear of persecution, stand in the way.  Now they are part of the Church Triumphant.  Christ was their all; that was enough.  May we–you and I, O reader, have the same attitude and act accordingly.

KRT

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