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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Ephesians 1:15–23

I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (NRSV)

When you come into worship, do you ever look around and think “Look at the fullness of Christ dwelling in this place, filling all these people”? On those Sundays when I find myself in a pew rather than in the pulpit, it is easy for me to come into the sanctuary and not even really see the community gathered, because I am too focused on my own anticipation of the experience, scanning the bulletin to see if I like the hymns or there are “extra” parts of worship that might cause the service to run longer.

But every time I do that, I am convinced I miss something. I miss a huge part of the gift of worship—the gift of being surrounded by God’s fullness of grace through the presence of those gathered around me. Paul reminds me of that truth in this part of his letter to the church at Ephesus. In this passage, Paul lifts up the promise that the gathered community, the part of the body in the sanctuary on a Sunday, is nothing less than full of the presence of Christ: “And [God] has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, which is [Christ’s] body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”

I think it changes our experience of worship when we intentionally look around and see the presence of all those gathered with us as a tangible expression of the fullness of Christ. When we do that, regardless if we came to worship by ourselves or with someone else, we realize we are not alone. Rather, God has purposefully designed us to be deeply interconnected in order to live out the fullness of Christ’s presence. That community of Christ’s body called church is part of our glorious inheritance. What a gift.

Connecting God, I am so thankful for the gift of my faith community, my particular church, a piece of your body. Help me to see and know this gift. And may my increased appreciation remind me I am never alone. Amen.

Written by Shannon J. Kershner, Pastor

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