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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Today’s Scripture Reading | Ephesians 2:1–10

You were dead through the trespasses and sins in which you once lived, following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh, following the desires of flesh and senses, and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.

But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God—not the result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life. (NRSV)

Reflection
After reflecting on our reading from Ephesians, an imaginary scenario came to mind: A box of my maternal grandparents’ correspondence was recently discovered. Inside was an intriguing letter, seemingly from my grandfather (a civic leader in Detroit) to concerned churches and agencies about their shared mission. On closer examination, this letter raised more questions than it answered. Was it really from my grandfather, or had he kept a copy of a letter written by one of his colleagues? And it wasn’t clear exactly to whom the letter had been sent.

These circumstances echo the letter to the Ephesians. Scholars continue to debate whether the Apostle Paul wrote the letter or whether a student or colleague of Paul’s was the author. And it is now apparent that Ephesians was likely a circular letter to several churches in Asia Minor—though just which ones remains uncertain.

Nevertheless, the content of the letter is compelling, especially in the closing verses of today’s reading. “For we are what God has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, for which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.” Our good works, our faithful discipleship, is not credited to us that we might boast. Rather, we are freed by God’s grace to live out the loving, just, and peaceable purposes of the Holy One, following our loving Lord and empowered by the Spirit. Thanks be to God!

Prayer
Everlasting God, I am grateful that the correspondence of biblical forebears still speaks to me. Help me and all your people live with the questions these letters raise, yet be strengthened and sustained in our continuing witness to the justice, love, and peace of our one Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Written by Jeffrey Doane, Parish Associate for Older Adults

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