Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Letter to the Ephesians
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....In him you also, when 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. Ephesians 1: 1-2, 13-14 NRSV
Paul's letter to the Ephesians begins with a wonderful description of God's chosen people. He talks about being blessed with spiritual blessings, being chosen, holy, and blameless in love, being adopted and redeemed through Christ's blood, and being destined to have a part in the blessed inheritance. However, a closer reading makes one realize he is not addressing the people of Ephesus until verse 13! "In him you also" means that the saints in Ephesus can share in all this good stuff, all because they have the mark of the Holy Spirit. It is almost as if Paul has gotten carried away in describing the saved people that he belongs to and then realizes he has left someone out. "Oh, right, this applies to you as well since you have responded to the gospel."
The faithful in Ephesus must have been used to being left out by this time. They were part of a very large port city (now a part of Turkey) in which they were surrounded by the pagan culture of the Roman Empire. They were no longer part of that culture - which probably effected their income, their livelihood, their families and their homes. They were no longer a part of the Jewish community, either. Paul's letter, despite his rude introduction, was probably a very welcome form of encouragement.
Paul is going to continue his description of this community of faith as well as give them some admonitions of staying in faith and not giving up the life of faith to the surrounding culture.
How often we need to hear this today! We are in need of hearing again our stories of faith as church communities, the wonder of being a part of God's chosen people, the claim of the Spirit on our lives and the firm reminders of staying on God's path. I invite you to join me in the next few days in studying Ephesians, looking at your story and your community's story of faith and reminding ourselves of remaining part of that faithful family.
God, you have called us as part of your chosen people. May we not take your adoption of us for granted and may we live as your people in all times and places. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Question for today: Do you know your faith community's story?
Copyright 2009 Amelia G. Sims