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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Wednesday, January 8, 2020  

Today’s Scripture Reading | Ephesians 1:3–14

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 toward redemption as God’s own people, to the praise of his glory. (NRSV)

Before the world was even created, you were chosen to be holy and blameless before Christ in love. You have been destined for adoption as God’s children according to God’s good pleasure. God has freely bestowed glorious grace upon you in Jesus Christ the Beloved. You have been redeemed and forgiven according to the riches of God’s grace lavished upon you. The mystery of God’s will has been made known to you as a plan to gather up all things, things in heaven and things on earth. You have obtained an inheritance toward redemption as God’s very own people. As you heard the word of truth, the gospel of salvation, and believed in Christ, you were marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit.

Any one of these sentences deserves to be read aloud slowly. The significant meaning of each truth is difficult to comprehend. Repeatedly reciting a given sentence inwardly like a mantra may allow it to resonate in your spirit and override the negative voices we sometimes hear.

Richard Rohr writes in The Universal Christ, “Shaming, accusing, or blaming is simply not how God talks. It is how we talk. . . . Why do humans so often presume the exact opposite—that shaming voices are always from God, and grace voices are always the imagination? . . . If something comes toward you with grace and can pass through you and toward others with grace, you can trust it as the voice of God.”

You are chosen. You have a second, third, fourth-plus chance. You are made new, lavishly loved by God. You are embraced in community, in the communion of the Holy Spirit. Trust it.

Gracious God, help me listen to what is supportive, what is encouraging, what is urging me, what is alive in me and us. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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