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Conflicts

Conflicts

Friday, March 8, 2013 — Week of Lent 3 (Year One)

Geoffrey Anketell Studdert Kennedy, Priest, 1929

[Go to http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office

(Book of Common Prayer, p. 954)

Psalms 88 (morning) // 91, 92 (evening)

Jeremiah 11:1-8, 14-20

Romans 6:1-11

John 8:33-47

Conflicts are escalating in all of our readings today. Jeremiah preaches a sermon which announces a curse upon “anyone who does not heed the words of this covenant” which God gave to the people of Israel. Their unfaithfulness has gone beyond recall. God tells Jeremiah, “Do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer on their behalf, for I will not listen when they call to me in the time of their trouble.”

As for Jeremiah, he speaks deeply and personally in the first of the five confessions of Jeremiah. “But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter.” He expresses his deep feelings that seemed to connect with the whole matrix of suffering — God’s suffering because of the people’s unfaithfulness; Israel’s suffering from the coming invasion; Jeremiah’s suffering as the lonely, unappreciated prophetic voice.

Paul gives voice to the charges from his critics. He has argued for such a high view of God’s grace that some charge him with antinomianism. If God’s power is manifested in such amazing universal forgiveness, then why not sin more and more so that the greatness of God’s forgiveness can abound more and more? Absurd, says Paul. In Christ we died to sin. We have shifted from law to grace. When we have been given so great a gift, how can we do anything other than live in grateful response by acting morally upright.

Finally, we hear the escalating conflict between Jesus and the authorities spoken in the unique language of John’s Gospel. These religious authorities are not living up to the tradition of Abraham. They are following another source. “You are from your father the devil, and you choose to do your father’s desires.”

Sometimes churches are very conflict averse. We seem to think that being Christian equals being nice. Not so, say Jeremiah, Paul, and Jesus.

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