Thursday, January 6, 2011

Assigning a rescue mission to incompetents

Our parish celebrated Holy Communion at midday. In talking with some of our folks afterward, I was struck by these words from the Epiphany Epistle we heard:

" that through the church the wisdom of God...

Through the church? This fellowship of fallible and foolish flesh is meant to carry and proclaim the mystery of Christ 'til the end of time? That's God's plan, God's own design. So we spend too much time, perhaps, in self-criticism when we should be basking in the radical inefficiency of God's love for us and, through us, for the world. its rich variety...

God's wisdom is never contained in the tidy formulae we use to manage it on human terms. So the church's always present fragmentation into denominations and traditions is at once a manifestation of our blunders and of our only true unity, which is the Father reconciling the creation to Himself though Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. It is not a unity we can create; it just is, despite our earthly disarray.

...might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places...

Yes, this is the Letter to the Ephesians, which goes on to tell us that our struggle is not against other people, but against the spiritual powers of evil. We are to put on the full armor of God in Christ and confront these mocking, accusing powers with what they do not expect, a fighting formation of the flawed and forgiven, renouncing the hostilities that the "powers" would have us wage on our neighbors and ourselves.

Oh yeah, we lose most of the battles fighting this way. We mishandle the weapons and injure our own souls; we misunderstand the orders and wound those we are sent to rescue. The church is one big friendly fire mishap much of the time. But we are winning the war, because

...This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that God has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him."

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