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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Ephesians 4:25—5:2

So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not make room for the devil. Thieves 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. Let 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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (NRSV)

One of my favorite performers is the English singer-songwriter Frank Turner. Grandson of the Bishop of Plymouth, Eton classmate of Prince William, and history student at the London School of Economics, he threw himself into the London music scene in a succession of hardcore punk bands until he heard a tape of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska and had an awakening. His concerts are emotional, uplifting explosions of energy that begin with Turner announcing his two rules for the audience:

1. Don’t be an [idiot]; and
2. Sing really [very] loud.

Which brings us to this passage from Ephesians.

Early Christians had a tendency to fragment into cliques—some were Jewish, some were Gentile, some were rich, some lived communally—and inevitably some of these divisions could get a little bitter. So, the writer of this letter takes the opportunity to remind the members of this community of believers how they should be living with each other.

Don’t lie to one another.

Don’t hold onto your anger.

Share with the needy.

Don’t tear each other down, but build each other up.

Or, in Frank’s words, don’t be an [idiot]. It’s good advice, because when we treat each other like the enemy, we lose sight of the real enemy. We make room for the devil.

So the author tells us to treat each other better, to put away all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander and malice and hold onto one another, because that’s how we get through.

Or, as Frank would say,

“In a world that has decided
That it’s going to lose its mind
Be more kind, my friends, try to be more kind.”

Sing it really [very] loud.

Dear Lord, keep us awake to the power of personal kindness and how it can bind us together when the world wants to break us apart. Amen.

Written by Rob Koon, Coordinator of Fine Arts

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