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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Today’s Reading | Ephesians 1:1–14

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God,

To the saints who are in Ephesus and are faithful in Christ Jesus:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and insight he has made known to us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to gather up all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In Christ we have also obtained an inheritance, having been destined according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to his counsel and will, so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, might live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you had heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory. (NRSV)

Reflection
When I was little, my mom often reminded me to say my prayers before I went to sleep. I would ask God to watch over my family and friends, to keep them safe from harm, and to help those who had no one to pray for them. My prayers lasted a few minutes, and then I’d sometimes find myself restless and unable to sleep. I’d call my mom back in my room and tell her I had finished my nightly routine but was still restless and wide awake. She then told me to count my blessings instead. 

As I lay in bed, hands clasped tightly and eyes nearly shut, I’d thank God for each family member. Each friend. The roof over my head. The food in my stomach. The yard I could play in. The list went on and on until I found myself restful and fast asleep, giving my thanks to God for all the joys I often took for granted.

The Trappist monk Thomas Merton once said, “To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything.” In Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, we are reminded of the infinite blessings granted upon those who believe and follow God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

While it’s easy to rattle off our many prayer requests when we’re tired, frustrated, and worried, Paul prompts us as Christians to be mindful of our inherited blessings. Among all the spiritual gifts we are to be thankful for, Paul reminds us to be thankful for God’s presence in our lives and to let our hearts rest in that overwhelming grace bestowed on us. It is easy to ask God for a number of things, but let us first praise God for everything.

Prayer
Dear God, Christ, and Holy Spirit, let us always praise you for the infinite blessings we receive and the redemption we are promised by your grace. May we grow as Christians with thankful hearts and foster peaceful lives full of gratitude. Amen.

Written by Jackie Lorens, Director,
Chicago Lights Elam Davies Social Service Center


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