This blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readngs along with a headline from world news
OLYMPIC VELODROME COMPLTETED
2 Corinthians 1:12-22
12 Indeed, this is our boast, the testimony of our conscience: we have behaved in the world with frankness and godly sincerity, not by earthly wisdom but by the grace of God—and all the more towards you. 13For we write to you nothing other than what you can read and also understand; I hope you will understand until the end— 14as you have already understood us in part—that on the day of the Lord Jesus we are your boast even as you are our boast.
15 Since I was sure of this, I wanted to come to you first, so that you might have a double favour; 16I wanted to visit you on my way to Macedonia, and to come back to you from Macedonia and have you send me on to Judea. 17Was I vacillating when I wanted to do this? Do I make my plans according to ordinary human standards, ready to say ‘Yes, yes’ and ‘No, no’ at the same time? 18As surely as God is faithful, our word to you has not been ‘Yes and No.’ 19For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not ‘Yes and No’; but in him it is always ‘Yes.’ 20For in him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’ For this reason it is through him that we say the ‘Amen’, to the glory of God. 21But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us, 22by putting his seal on us and giving us his Spirit in our hearts as a first instalment.
Paul uses a change of plans to make a wonderful assertion about Jesus: he is the “yes” to every promise of God. These words marvellously express Paul’s messianic faith. In Jesus all the ancient promises of his Jewish faith are fulfilled; but Jesus is the fulfilment and therefore the true interpreter of the promises. Will God forgive his people’s sin? Yes, in Jesus. Will God write his law upon their heart? Yes, in Jesus. Will God establish his rule upon the earth? Yes, in Jesus. Will God bring the Gentiles to faith in Him? Yes, in Jesus. Will God pour out his spirit on all people? Yes, in Jesus. The God of Jesus affirms his own nature and human nature in the one act of “giving his son” to the world. The splendidly vivid imagination of Paul is also seen here in his description of the Spirit as God’s “arrabon” (originally a Phoenician word), his down-payment on complete transformation of human life. This ultimate promise is not yet fulfilled but the gift of God’s spirit proves he’s not messing around. On this day, many in the world church remember Eric Liddell the great runner and missionary who died in interment camp in 1945. My grandfather, Alex Mair, was one of his colleagues in China. Alex came from Portknockie a small fishing village on the Moray Coast to become an important and much loved trainer of missionaries in China. He once said that of all the titles given to Jesus (Saviour, Christ, Lord etc) “God’s Yes” was the one that meant most to him.
13 ‘You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything, but is thrown out and trampled under foot.
14 ‘You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
17 ‘Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfil. 18For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. 19Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
The goodness and the good actions of disciples, which go beyond what God’s Law requires but never fall short of it, light up the world for others. The image of Jesus as the one in whom God’s sheer goodness shines out is complemented by his command that his followers must be the same. This is a theme not sufficiently developed in mainstream Christianity, for either the commanded goodness is sidelined by the centrality of salvation or the goodness is privatised into closed communities like those of the Shakers or the Desert Fathers. The light of God’s goodness is meant to illuminate the world.
I like the notion of disciples as salt. There is argument about what the salt is for-is it a preservative, a fertiliser, or a flavouring? All interpretations have their advocates but I prefer the last: the task of Jesus’ disciples is to make life tasty. Goodness is not insipid while evil is full of flavour. As those who have close experience of evil know, it is parasitic on life sucking all its flavour out; whereas goodness reveals the true taste of living.