So, first, just go and read the chapter. Go on. It’s only 33 verses. They’re short verses.
I read two chapters of the Bible every night. This was last night. No doubt you found stuff in here that made you think “Aha!” as well as stuff that made you think “Oh rats” (or maybe some other four-letter word…like “golf”) and maybe even stuff that made you think “No way.” Some of you are even probably upset that I refer to these verses as “stuff.”
This is a collection of Paul’s wisdom to the churches gleaned from his writings and (probably) his sermons. Some of them are just good practical advice. Some of them have been used by men and women alike to “keep women in their place.” But reading them in light of a pandemic and in all the things people are saying and accusations being made and protestors making demands is all the more interesting. How IS the church supposed to act? Is the church just going to stand aside and let us believe what we want to believe and then bless it? Because, frankly, that’s what we do, anyway!
But in today’s world, Paul’s advice to the church is not bad advice, is it? Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness? That probably cuts a lot of us closer than we want to think. How about singing and making melody to the Lord? Looking carefully how we walk? What about always and for everything giving thanks?
I think the essence of Paul’s words asks us to be wise in this time (well, in every time). It doesn’t hurt to raise a skeptical eye to anything. We are prone to follow our desires and often they may not be exactly what needs to be done. We live in a world where the truth is often clouded by layers and layers of stuff that is hard to wade through. I think we need to be wise. Praise and hymns are not bad things. Being thankful is pretty good, too. Restraint will save lives. Rachel and I have theological discussions (that maybe last five or ten seconds). For example, when eating leftovers, is it really necessary to bless food that has already been bless twice? Or is it better just to give thanks for the microwave?
The last verse of “Dear Lord and Father of Mankind” is this:
Breathe through the heats of our desire thy coolness and thy balm; let sense be dumb, let flesh retire; speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire, O still small voice of calm.
O God: grant us discerning and capable hearts and minds to move wisely through these days; Amen.
Pastor Rick Moser