This post is a new opportunity in which we as a whole community can participate in our monthly Celtic worship and experience the way each theme works in our church, in our homes, and in our lives. This coming Sunday – 21 October, 2018, we have before us a tiny portion of the biblical text in which to read, but there is so much more to it than just one verse. This outline will help us all think a bit more deeply about how God is calling us in a formation of a vision for the Anglican Church in Freiburg. Remember, it is a journey! The structure that is outlined here is one where we get a brief picture of the reading, followed by some core idea that highlights the passage. I, Christopher, will offer a few of my own thoughts in regard to the passage and our community, and leave you with some questions that might be a starting off point for discussions around your home tables after Sunday worship as you enjoy a day of rest and re-creation.
Our reading is taken from Ephesians 2. 10 which says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The reading is only one verse long so that we can meditate on it. However, the author of Ephesians has much more to say on such themes as salvation, the mystery of the body of Christ, and ethical exhortations on living a life as a Christian. Some of the most famous passages that many have committed to memory come from the book of Ephesians. It takes little time to read the whole book which is only six chapters long. Go ahead and give it a read.
The central ideas:
Words and phrases that come to the foreground when reviewing this passage are: “created” and “good works”. While not specifically a passage regarding spiritual gifts, it does make us think about where our spiritual gifts come from when we speak of being created. Along with this is the idea of good works which many of us raised in society and churches which emphasized the Protestant Work Ethic along side Martin Luther’s priority of faith before works, makes this certainly a passage worth some reflection. Some translations of the Bible offer slightly different interpretations to do good works, while others offer ‘to walk in’ good works. The Greek word is more true to ‘to walk’ περιπατέω peripateo To walk this way. Now before you start humming some old music tune from Aerosmith – to walk this way — let me offer some of my thoughts, and further questions.
Some brief thoughts:
In the Anglican community we are blessed with a diverse group of people from different nationalities and different traditions. We also know that we represent a wide diversity of ages and income levels. Spiritual gifts, as God’s created people, are a gift from God, and the way those gifts are made evident can be through good works. What Luther was opposing was not so much the good works, but the belief that our good works were the things of sole importance for our spiritual lives and relationship with God. Grace, the gift of grace, destroys a merit based worship system. The Protestant work ethic is a strong force which many have to contend with and it also gives us the sense that we are in charge of how our gifts are deployed and used. When we look at the Greek understanding of ‘to walk in,’ it seems that God has a purpose, a plan, a path for our gifts to be used and we can find ourselves at odds with God’s spiritual gift which does not fit our preferences or our expectations.
Being sensitive to our nature as created people, and aware of our giftedness, we have the assurance of God’s plan in our lives, and a path — a way — to follow.
Around your Table
For some of us we share meals with a generation of people around the table as small children gather with parents and extended family. Others will often eat alone. As our path of life changes and our life circumstances also change, how do you see God providing the right gifts at the right times?
Do you find the languages of good works makes you pause and think?
Shortly following our verse there is a section of the epistle (2. 11-22) which deals with unity in Christ. As created beings, how do we experience this unity when we have many different gifts?
What makes you who you are? What do you think about doing good works, or walking in a way of good works?