Congregational Solidarity   2 comments

Above:  Map of Greece

Image Source = CIA World Factbook

(https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/gr.html)

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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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2 Thessalonians 1:1-5, 11-12 (The Jerusalem Bible):

From Paul, Sulvanus and Timothy, to the Church in Thessalonika which is in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; wishing you grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We feel we must be continually thanking God for you, brothers; quite rightly, because your faith is growing so wonderfully and the love that you have for one another never stops increasing; and among the churches of God we can take special pride in you for your constancy and faith under the persecutions and troubles you have to bear.  It all shows that God’s judgement is just, and the purpose of it is that you may be found worthy of the kingdom of God; it is for the sake of this that you are suffering now.

Knowing this, we pray continually that our God will make you worthy of his call, and by his power fulfil all your desires for goodness and complete all that you have been doing through faith; because in this way the name of our Lord Jesus Christ will be glorified in you and you in him, by the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

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The Collect:

Grant, O merciful God, that your Church, being gathered together in unity by your Holy Spirit, may show forth your power among all peoples, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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The Canadian Anglican lectionary brings me back into the New Testament by way of 2 Thessalonians, which is Pauline and might be a product of Paul himself.  It is irrelevant if Paul did write or dictate 2 Thessalonians, for the meanings I can derive from the text are crucial in any event.  Incidentally, the Year 1 counterpart to this post begins the 1 Thessalonians sequence.  So, for that epistle, see the posts for Week of Proper 16:  Monday, Year 1 (http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/02/28/week-of-proper-16-monday-year-1/), through Week of Proper 17:  Tuesday, Year 1 (http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/03/09/week-of-proper-17-tuesday-year-1/), excluding the Sunday post.

The first chapter of 2 Thessalonians consists of a greeting, a thanksgiving, a notice of a fiery punishment for those injuring the Thessalonian Christians, and a notice of continual prayers for said Thessalonians.  (The lectionary omits the fiery punishment.)  The chapter concludes by saying that the name of Jesus will find glorification in the Thessalonian Christians, who have been productive and loving in their faith lives during difficult times.

This is the good news.  For the other side, read Chapter 3, to which the lectionary will take us.  For today, however, we dwell on the positive.

As I read this lection, I fixate on the first part, the commendation of faithfulness under persecution.  Beyond that, the Christian community of that city has demonstrated great solidarity.  This is what should be.  Yet I can think of congregations which I have known and which have lacked that quality of mutual support.  In particular, my mind dregs up memories of some rural churches in southern Georgia.  They were interlocking extended families, and anyone unrelated by genetics or marriage was an outsider.  My father was the appointed pastor; we were outsiders.  If, by some twist of fate, I were to move back to any of those communities, I would know better than to consider affiliating with and attending certain of these churches, based on experience.  (I would have to revert to my former denomination, but that is another matter.)

I want to avoid seeming tribal, but we Christians, especially inside our congregations, need to help each other.  We vow to do so in The Episcopal Church’s Baptismal Covenant, a fine theological document.  May our vows of mutual encouragement, support, and mutual recognition of dignity extend beyond our words.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

OCTOBER 9, 2011 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT DENIS, BISHOP OF PARIS, AND HIS COMPANIONS, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF CHARLES HARTSHORNE, UNITARIAN THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF SAINT LUIS BERTRAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY PRIEST

THE FEAST OF SAINT ROBERT GROSSETESTE, SCHOLAR

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Adapted from this post:

http://ordinarytimedevotions.wordpress.com/2011/10/09/week-of-proper-16-monday-year-2/

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