re: Rector’s Newsletter Article for August 2009

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Ephesians 5:1, 2 RSV.)

From the Rector’s Desk:

By the time you read this I will, God willing, be on my annual vacation. Once again we will be heading for a lake-side cottage in Rangeley, Maine. This year we will be taking our two dogs, Babette and Oscar, as well as our big Maine Coon Cat, Kirby. This will be the first trip to Maine for these dogs. Last year we had our beloved dog Ollie with us, who especially enjoyed riding in the kayak with Marianne. We had no idea then that it would prove to be his last trip to Maine.

So, here we are, getting ready to take our annual trip with two dogs and a cat. Of course, Kirby-Kat is an old hand at summer camp in Maine. Admittedly, he’s not that happy about the car ride, but once he gets to Maine he settles in quite nicely. After hiding under the sofa for a few hours Kirby comes out and waits patiently by a window, hoping to get a glimpse of his friend the neighborhood moose. Kirby says that in the very-old days, when Maine cats were much larger, they would hunt for bear and spend Friday nights bopping moosies on the head just for the sport of it. Also, just so you know, I’m not too sure how the new-dogs-in-the-kayaks will go. Probably will be diverting.

And now, on to more lofty topics.

Last Sunday (July 12, 2009) in the liturgy we began a course-reading of St. Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians, which will continue until the end of August. I am very interested in Chapter 5, especially verse sixteen.

When reading most modern translations you are liable to think that St. Paul is giving some avuncular advice to the effect that the church members at Ephesus should be diligent in getting all their chores done. I’m sure the phrase, “making the most of the time,” isn’t anything like what Paul had in mind. In the original Greek the salient word is “exagorazo,” which literally means ‘ransom.’ The best translation I’ve seen is from the King James Version: “15 See then that ye walk circumspectly, not as fools, but as wise, 16 Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.”

Redeeming (ransoming) the time. Taking it back. But from who, or what, are we supposed to take the time? And what exactly are we to do with the time once we have it? St. Paul says in the fourth chapter that when you really know Christ you are taught to “ put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:22-24, RSV.)

Here Paul is saying that we should imitate Jesus, and that we should not take on the values and priorities of this world. Just think for a moment what Jesus has accomplished:

1. Jesus united heaven and earth in his intimate relationship with his heavenly Father – a relationship that Jesus offers each of us in the power of the Spirit.
2. Jesus unites this age with the age to come – in dying for us and then rising to new life. Each time we share in the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper we receive a foretaste of the heavenly banquet.
3. Jesus unites humanity by breaking down the artificial barriers created by prejudice and hatred. He ate with sinners, healed the sick, and welcomed the thief into paradise. Since all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), we are all the same before God – and each of us is entirely dependent on his mercy.

Summertime is an excellent time to resolve to take back the time for God – not just “make the most of it” by staying busy – but instead, to resolve to live in mindfulness of what Jesus has done for us.

May the remainder of your summer be a blessing and rich in opportunities for redeeming the time.

In Christ, Michael+


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