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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Peter 1:13–25

Therefore prepare your minds for action; discipline yourselves; set all your hope on the grace that Jesus Christ will bring you when he is revealed. Like obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires that you formerly had in ignorance. Instead, as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct; for it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile. You know that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. He was destined before the foundation of the world, but was revealed at the end of the ages for your sake. Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God. Now that you have purified your souls by your obedience to the truth so that you have genuine mutual love, love one another deeply from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

For “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord endures forever.” That word is the good news that was announced to you. (NRSV)

If I could spend all day flipping though magazines and reading newspapers, drinking coffee, I would. The publications I subscribe to paint a picture of who I am but not, maybe, the picture you’d expect. I get Thrasher, a skateboarding magazine with the motto: “SKATE AND DESTROY!” I get Writer’s Digest because almost every pastor would be a novelist if someone would let them. And I get The New York Times print edition on Sunday and always save the Book Review until last and sip at it slowly like expensive wine all week. Would you guess I’m a pastor from that reading list? Maybe, I guess, but probably not.

Peter writes this letter to some churches in Asia Minor to tell them about the things to which he subscribes. It paints a certain picture and perhaps not one we might expect.

Peter spends the opening chapter of this letter talking about all that God has given us in Christ. It was common in that time for political leaders to give things too, like festivals and holidays, to common people, but there was a quid pro quo. These celebrations were designed to keep the people docile and obedient. To subscribe, in other words, to a ruler’s authority. But what does Peter’s God ask us to subscribe to? God asks us to subscribe to obedience, not for docility, but for holiness, for truth, for mutual love, and for imperishable transformation.

What are the things you subscribe to? How do they paint a picture of who you are? In what ways is the picture of who you more complex than the magazines you read or the apps you scroll through? I implore us all to live beyond what our subscriptions would have us believe about ourselves because we ultimately subscribe to God’s grace through Christ. It will never wither. God’s grace endures forever.

Come Holy Spirit, fill our pages with your good news. Subscribe to us, loving God, so we might find our full selves in you. Amen.

Written by Alex Wirth, Minister for Evangelism

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